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Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Day 194. 

As our beloved leader tramps around the globe trying very hard to look presidential, the Russia Investigation is not leaving him alone.  So far, there isn’t really a lot to talk about this trip.  He stopped over in Saudi Arabia where he signed some agreements over defense help and some economic things.  The total of these agreements is in the $360 Million range.

But, we also know that Saudi Arabia is not happy about the law that the Republican Congress passed allowing victims of the 9/11 attack to sue Saudi Arabia.  They want Congress and to repeal that law.  And, they want trump to help them get the repeal.  So, if that does happen, would that constitute quid pro quo?

In Israel, he stopped by the Holocaust Museum.  He signed the guest list with what seems more like a High School Yearbook signing.  I really hope and wish every day that if this clown uses the word “great”, or “outstanding”, or “bigly” again his orange dead tribble will catch fire on his head.  The child really needs to expand his vocabulary.

Even still, the Russia Investigation is taking its toll.  We found out that Bannon and Priebus were sent home early from the trip to keep tabs on that investigation and try to keep things under control until beloved leader returns.  We also learned that beloved leader has decided he better have a personal lawyer to help him navigate the problem.

Only, to my way of thinking, he is again showing just how dumb he is.  He has reportedly hired Marc Kasowitz as his lawyer.  He has used Kasowitz before and we will talk about that.  First, it must be pointed out that this is an unusual choice for one big reason.

The last “big” case Kasowitz worked was defending Sberbank, a Russian government-owned bank, in a case before the Southern New York District.  Think about that for just one minute.  Our beloved leader thinks that hiring the lawyer for the largest Russian owned bank is a good choice to help him navigate the Russia Investigation.

But, it gets even better.  Kasowitz was the lawyer who handled the Trump U case that cost trump $25 million.  He was also the lawyer who let trump sue a New York Times reporter who wrote a book on trump and claimed in the book that trump was not worth billions of dollars, but rather in the $250 million range.

As usual, trump was furious at the slight to his ego and sued the writer.  He sued for $5 billion for slander.  In court, he could not show proof that he was worth a billion dollars.  At one point, he even said that his worth was based on “his feelings” at the time.  The case was thrown out of court, and an appeals court later tossed it as well.

This is the man who reportedly will “help” trump in his side of the Russia Investigation.  You would think trump would have learned his lesson in the past, but obviously he doesn’t learn anything.

Then we have Mike Flynn deciding that he doesn’t have to follow the subpoena he was issued for his documents involving his ties with Russia.  His lawyer claims that these documents fall under the 5th Amendment, which is dubious.  So, the Senate Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed his companies for the same documents.  As the two heads of the committee said, companies are not protected under the 5th Amendment since they are not people.

However, the biggest crash came when former CIA Chief John Brennan testified before the House Intelligence Committee.  During his testimony, he made no accusations and offered no “evidence’ as Republicans keep trying to say there is none.  But, he did say:

I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign.

He further told lawmakers that he could not say with certainty whether the president’s campaign associates colluded with Moscow.

But I know that there was a sufficient basis of information and intelligence that required further investigation by the FBI to determine whether or not U.S. persons were actively conspiring or colluding with Russian officials.

Republicans again tried to pin him down on whether or not he had “evidence’ of any collusion.  In very carefully worded responses he declared as CIA Chief he was interested in the intelligence and not evidence and the intelligence warranted further investigation.

Which brings us to another point.  This case of “evidence”.  It is my experience that evidence is gathered by investigation.  Investigations do not start only after hard evidence has already been found.  That is why they are called investigations and not just confirm the evidence things.

Republicans seem to think that if there is no outward “evidence” of a crime being committed, then there should be no investigation.  If that were true, then why were there so many “investigations” about Benghazi, even after other previous investigations showed no evidence?

We need to stop pretending that the Russians did not interfere with our last election.  And, we need to stop pretending that they won’t try again.  There is a lot of information that shows an investigation is warranted.  I am not saying that anyone is guilty of any crime.  But, there sure are a lot of circumstantial things that make it look bad for the trump campaign.  That is what the investigation should unveil.

I know I grew up and served during the Cold War, but I have never seen a campaign of either party so tied to the Russians as the trump campaign was.  That doesn’t mean they did anything criminal, but it does ask a lot of questions and those questions need to be answered regardless of what those answers are.

You especially need to have this investigation after our beloved leader’s behavior over this issue.  First, he claims that the Russians were not involved.  Then he says they might have been involved.  It turns out he lied about not knowing about Flynn’s connections with the Russians.  Even today, he tells associates that firing Flynn was a “mistake”.

Shortly after she informed the White House about Flynn’s lying about his contacts with the Russian Ambassador, Sally Yates was fired as the Acting Director of the Department of Justice.  Beloved leader used the excuse that she refused to defend Muslim Ban 1.0 in court.  That could be true, but the timing is very intriguing at best.

Then we have the firing of Comey.  Beloved leader had his surrogates run around telling everyone it was because of a memo written by the Deputy Head of the Justice Department about Comey’s handling of the Clinton email scandal.  Then less than 24 hours later he said it was because “I had that Russia thing on my mind and would have fired him regardless of the recommendation”.  Clear indication Comey was fired over Russia and not Clinton.

Yesterday there were more reports that trump asked the Director of National Intelligence and the Director of the NSA to “push back” against all of the media reports about Russia and say they had no “evidence that the president was involved”.  Both reportedly declined.

Then Coats, the Head of the DNI was asked explicitly if the report was true.  He refused to say yes or no but simply said that he didn’t think it appropriate to discuss his conversations with the president.  Most observers think that means “yes”.  Otherwise, he could have simply said no and ended the whole thing.

Finally, since trump continues to support his “good buddy” Mike Flynn, we need to remember what he said over the Clinton Email Scandal.  He said:

Anyone who takes the Fifth Amendment must have something to hide.

I guess that means, according to his “good buddy” that Flynn has something to hide by taking the Fifth.

Beloved leader has been in office less than four months.  And already there are more ethical questions about his behavior than we have had since the Tea Pot Dome Scandal.  His administration is under a “counter intelligence” investigation over possible collusion with a foreign government to sway our election.

He has accomplished virtually nothing while in office.  Oh, he has made it harder to buy a home for the first time.  He supports a “health care” bill that will throw at least 24 million people off of their coverage and increase the premiums and deductibles for addition millions of people with pre-existing conditions.

He has proposed a budget that will all but destroy the social safety nets while giving the rich a huge tax cut.  He plans to cut about 1.4 Billion dollars from Medicaid, a program he promised not to cut.  He will also cut money from Medicare if the Americans Without Health Insurance Act passes the Senate.

His budget will also cut funding for SNAP, CHIP, Welfare, the State Department, and a bunch of other programs like college grants and student loans.  The cuts to the State Department also cuts the spending for security at our Embassies and Consulates around the world potentially placing our diplomats lives in jeopardy.  Even Lindsey Graham said this budget would result in many more Benghazi’s.

Yesterday, when asked if the cuts to the Social Security Disability Insurance program would result in lower payments to people already on the program, Mulvaney said: “I hope so” (emphasis mine).  He claims that there are lots and lots of people in the SSDI program that aren’t really disabled.  Does he know what it takes to receive SSDI?  I am not saying that there aren’t any “fakers” on the rolls, but it isn’t enough to justify the cuts they are making to the program.

The budget also cuts deeply areas like the U.S. Coast Guard, Scientific Research, the National Health Institute, the EPA, Public Education, and just about everything that is not under defense or immigration.

Beloved Leader’s budget proposal does nothing except break at least seven campaign promises.  And, the people he will hurt the most are the very people who put him in office.  Rural areas will be especially hard hit, but he obviously doesn’t care about those people.

He has compromised highly classified information by openly giving it to the Russians without proper protocol.  He also possibly compromised one of our allies who gave us the information.

It is up to us to remember all of this throughout next year.  Republicans are so far supporting their hero in the White House, and they need to be replaced in 2018.  That will be the only way to save our country from this madman and his corrupt associates.  The only question is will we last that long?

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

 

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Day 188. 

Yesterday the Department of Justice announced that they have ordered a Special Counsel to oversea the Russian Hacking and any possible collusion between them and any member of the trump campaign.  That announcement was met with hails of praise about the decision.

I agree that we do need a special counsel or special prosecutor because it is time we actually find out what happened, who may have been involved, and how we are going to make sure it doesn’t happen again.  And, quite frankly, the Congressional investigations are running at a snail’s pace with no sign they will pick up anytime soon.

We also had a report that Mike Flynn told the trump transition team that he was under investigation by the FBI before he took the position of National Security Advisor.  According to the report, Flynn told the now White House Counsel about the investigation on January 4.  Before the inauguration.

Which begs the question of how could trump still name him as National Security Advisor when he knew Flynn was under investigation for his time as an unregistered foreign agent for Turkey?

We also had a report that Kevin McCarthy, the second in command in the House Republican Caucus told a group of Republicans in 2016 that he thought trump was on Putin’s payroll.

On June 15, 2016 McCarthy said:  “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.”   Some of the Republicans laughed but McCarthy quickly added “swear to God”.  These comments were actually taped by someone, and the tape was listened to and verified by The Washington Post. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.

When the story first broke both Ryan and McCarthy claimed the conversation “never happened”.  But, when the Post told them they had the tape, they changed their story.  Instead of it never happening, they said it was a “bad attempt at humor”.

This took place exactly one day after the news broke about the hacking of the DNC.  And, right after Ryan and McCarthy came out of a meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, who had described a Kremlin tactic of financing populist politicians to undercut Eastern European democratic institutions.

Getting back to yesterday, when the news of the special counsel was first announced, trump seemed to be happy and claimed it would end in total clearance for him and then he could move on with his agenda.  In a written statement he said “A thorough investigation will confirm what we already know — there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity.  I look forward to this matter concluding quickly.”

That story changed big time today.  In his usual Cowardly Lion manner, he tweeted this morning:  “it is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”  Then just to make sure he threw red meat to his base he tweeted:  “With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel (sic) appointed!”

Naturally he gave no indication of any of the so-called “illegal acts” by either Clinton or Obama.  The one thing you can say about the Obama administration is that they were not involved in anything “illegal”.  You may not like the man.  You may even hate his guts.  But, he was never at the center of any scandal nor did he get involved in any illegal acts.  Even Republicans called him “no drama Obama”.

But trump can’t stand the fact that his “team” appears to be neck-deep in Russian scandals.  His former Campaign Manager had dealings with “Russian backed Ukrainian government that was ousted by the people.  There are reports of his money laundering for Russians.  And then we learned that somehow he received a $3 Million mortgage that was mysteriously paid off for him.

Mike Flynn went to Moscow to sit next to Putin at a dinner for RT and was paid
$35,000 for his speech without reporting it.  He was a paid foreign agent for the Turkish government during the campaign and did not register as one.  He reportedly told trump team that he was under investigation before the inauguration.  Then he took the position of National Security Advisor and sat in on highly classified briefings that could have affected his client, and Russia.

As reported, there have been at least 18 undisclosed meeting between the trump transition team and Russian officials including ones involving Kushner, Sessions, and that infamous “phone call” about sanctions Flynn made.  Beloved leader call this a witch-hunt.  He calls this a hoax.  He calls this “fake news”.

To add insult to injury, beloved leader was as the Coast Guard Academy’s graduation ceremony yesterday.  During his speech he complained about how the media was out to get him.  He then bragged, again, about his victory.  He tried to tell the graduates to “fight, fight even when thing are against them”.

That is good advice since his administration wants to slash the Coast Guard’s budget.  They want to cut about $25 billion form the Coast Guard.  Including cutting all of the funding for new equipment the Coast Guard desperately needs.  Yet he had the audacity to claim that the Coast Guard was “necessary to help him fight to keep America Safe”.  Hard to do when you cannot afford the very operations that do that now.

And, all the while, we don’t hear anything of consequence from the Republicans.  Both Ryan and McConnell are fuming over the special counsel appointment because they didn’t want one named.  They both said so many times so they cannot be happy right now.  Still we hear the usual silence from them and their party.

Then we come to the final point.  Mike Pence.  As I wrote the other day, I believe Mike Pence is a co-conspirator in all of this.  I do not believe that Pence was lied to by Flynn but Pence was trying to cover for Flynn.  I believe he knew all along about Flynn’s actions and his not being registered as a foreign agent all the while working for trump and Pence’s campaign.

I further believe that in terms of domestic policy Mike Pence is far more dangerous than trump.  With the way trump behaves, we cannot be sure that he will rubber-stamp anything that Republicans in Congress put in front of him.  We know for certain that Pence will.

During his term as Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence was atrocious.  His poll numbers were at rock bottom which is why most people believe he even took the position as the running mate for trump.  He was the driving force behind the anti-LGBT laws passed in the state.  His track record of voter restriction, anti-LGBT laws and anti-civil rights are well-known.

He is a strong believer that rich people should pay less in taxes than you do.  He believes that health care is a privilege not a right and is in full support of the Americans Without Health Care Act.  If we wind up with a president pence after all of this, we can be sure that our country, domestically at least, will be far worse off than it is now.

As Grover Norquist once said, Mike Pence would be that President with “enough digits to hold a pen and sign everything Republicans put in front of him”.  Some are hoping that Pence will get caught up in all of this as well, and will be forced out.  But, that isn’t all that great either.  Remember the next one in line is none other than that unintelligent wank Paul Ryan.

When Richard Nixon was forced out over the Watergate Scandal, our country had one hope.  We had Gerald Ford sitting as the Vice President.  Ford was a moderate and there was hope that the nation would survive the scandal and get back to normal.  With Pence the sitting Vice President, I  don’t have that same hope for the country.

In the year 2017 we face a real problem.  We have an administration that has tried to “run things” like a dictatorship.  We have a political party, the Republicans, who want to dismantle our democracy.  We have another political party, the Democrats, that react to events rather than planning a real resistance that could put a stop to all of this.

What we really need is some people with cool heads and a plan to fight back.  What we need to have is people who love this country more than they love their party and power.  There are some Democrats who are remaining cool-headed and wanting to get to all of the facts no matter where they lead.  There are beginning to be cracks in the Republican side who want the same thing.

The problem is that there aren’t enough of them yet.  The leadership of the Republican Congress is still hiding their heads in the sand.  Or, should I say they have their heads up their asses.  As a result, we won’t know the extent of this problem for months if not years.

Only, it really doesn’t matter how this all plays out.  If trump is exonerated, he will remain in power and continue his authoritarian form of government.  He will be able to pass laws to “jail” journalists that write things against him, which is what he wants.  He will be able to destroy the country we all love.

If he is found to be involved in this mess, he will be forced out of office, if Republicans have the guts to impeach him and hold a trial in the Senate, and we will end up with president pence.  Which would be no better than having president trump.

Because the 2016 presidential election was a disgusting soap opera instead of a real campaign, we wound up with president trump and vice president mike pence.  As a result, we find ourselves in totally uncharted waters.  There is a major scandal hanging over the White House, and there are no heroes who will ride to our salvation.

To put it very bluntly, no matter what happens from here, we the American People are fucked.  We lose no matter how this plays out.  All of this played out in full during the campaign.  The very fact that trump refused to agree with out intelligence community that is was the Russians who hacked the DNC showed just where his loyalties lay.  His comment about hoping the “Russians would hack Clinton’s emails” showed that he liked the idea Russia was involved.  So, this was all foretold.

The best lesson to take from all of this is how important it is to actually participate in our election process.  Maybe if Americans took their responsibility to get out and vote seriously, we wouldn’t be where we are today.  If you didn’t vote last year and are looking for the real blame, look in the mirror.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

 

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Day 176. 

Who would have thought that screwing the American People would be such a wonderful thing to celebrate.  But, that is exactly what our Republican Politburo from the House of Representatives did yesterday.  They all hopped on a bus, went down to the White House to celebrate the possibility of kicking millions of people off of health insurance.

You may ask why the were celebrating so much, and that is a great question.  Maybe it is because they don’t care about you.  Maybe they don’t care if are healthy or not.  Maybe they only care about giving billions of dollars in tax cuts for the rich.

Unfortunately, I have a different theory.  I will give that in a bit.  Now, remember, this bill must still pass the Senate, and they don’t seem to be too happy about the bill as it is written.  But, that doesn’t mean that they are in any hurry to make it better for the people, but better for the wealthy instead.  We will have to wait and see what comes out of their Chamber.

Then you have our idiot-in-chief give the Democrats the best quote that any president could give the opposition.  He really put his foot in his mouth and didn’t even realize what he did.  While sitting next to the Prime Minister of Australia beloved leader went off about just how “great” the Americans Without Health Care Act was going to be.  Then he gave us that great quote.  “You have a better health care system in your country than we have”.  YEAH!  Someone finally said what we all know.  Universal Health Care is the way to go and trump in his own stupidity just told the country that is a fact.

Since the Republican Politburo won’t agree with their beloved leader’s quote, here is my theory why such a horrible bill just passed the House of Representatives.  And, I warn you, it is very harsh.  The Republicans in the House of Representatives are trying to unleash a new version of eugenics on our country.

Eugenics is the theory that you can make a country better, and the human race better for that matter, by selective breeding.  Only, as the Nazis showed us, you can also practice eugenics by purging society of those undesirables.  You know people with mental health problems.  People with disabilities.  And the old and sick people you don’t want hanging around.

If that is your goal, then this bill is right up your alley.  This is the way to go.  Forget all of the phony promises that the Republicans claim, this bill is a simple form of eugenics.  Here are things in the bill that make me think this is the case.

Medicaid will see a $880 Billion cut.  The false narrative from Republicans is that Medicaid is something that is a “give away” to lazy poor people who don’t want to get a job.  The reality is that two-thirds of people on Medicaid are people with disabilities and the old sick people.  For example, if you have a parent or grandparent in a nursing home right now that uses federal funding to help their patients, that money comes from Medicaid.

If that money is cut off because of these cuts, what happens to all of those old people who need the nursing home care?  Will nursing homes be forced to close down due to lack of funds?  Will these old people be thrown out on the streets?

The Medicaid cuts will also affect Special Education in our schools.  Many children with conditions like autism may lose the funding they need to get the special education they need to become self-sufficient citizens.

Then we have the pre-existing condition problem.  Not only are Republicans willing to allow states to “opt out” of the pre-existing condition protections in the ACA, they are willing to let those premiums explode.  Yes, they have money in the bill to help defer some of those exploding premiums, but the money is not nearly enough.  And, who says that Republican controlled states, the ones most likely to “opt out” will even try to use the money for what it is intended?

The bill allows insurance companies to charge elderly people up to five times more for a young healthy person with the same coverage.  That means people between 50 and 64 will be at risk of being priced out of the market.  And since being old is not part of even the Republican definition of pre-existing conditions, they will get virtually no help.  Yes, they will get tax credits to help pay for their insurance, but their credits will be far less than the subsidies they now get. So, they will also be priced out of the market.

The definition of pre-existing conditions are going to explode as well.  If a woman gets pregnant, that will be a pre-existing condition in the future.  If a woman needs a C-Section to deliver her baby that will be another pre-existing condition.  The simple fact that she is a woman will be considered as a pre-existing condition, just like before the ACA.

If a child is born with a disease or needs surgery like heart surgery or other surgery to keep the child alive and given a chance to live properly, that will be a pre-existing condition making it very hard to get insurance when grown up.  Other conditions like Autism, Down Syndrome, Cystic Fibrosis, or even be prematurely born babies will all become pre-existing conditions.

Then we have the bill allowing insurance companies to place life-time caps on how much they are willing to pay out for health care.  That means you can lose your health care just because you become too expensive for the for-profit insurance company.  Meaning, just like before the ACA, you could lose your health care insurance in the middle of treatment for things like cancer.

Here are some estimates of new premiums if you have pre-existing conditions.  These estimates are additional to what you may already be paying.  If you have had or have certain forms of cancer, your premiums will go up over $176000 per year.  If you have other forms of cancer you are looking at over $74,000 increase in premiums per year.  If you have a child with autism, you will see an increase of over $5000 dollars per year.  If you have asthma you will see an increase over $4000 per year.  Those are just a few examples I saw from various sources.

States will also be allowed to “opt out” of the essential coverages under the ACA.  Meaning you could pay just as much as you do now, and get even less coverage.  Things that most people consider as essential like maternity coverage, hospitalization, ambulance service, and more could be dropped from your insurance coverage and then force you to pay extra for the coverage.

You will probably get a real cheap insurance premium, but it won’t cover anything, especially things like preventive medicine so you don’t get sick in the first place.  What good will that coverage be?  It won’t be any good for you but it will be good for the insurance company because they will be making money off of you without having to pay anything out.  You will become all profit to them, and they love that idea.

The odd thing is that doctor associations, hospital associations, the March of Dimes, the AARP, nursing associations and just about every health care professionals are all against this bill.  Yet it passed the Republican Politburo known as the House of Representatives.

Everything in this bill will make it harder for poor people, working class poor people, low-income people, disabled, and the elderly, to get insurance.  It will even affect many middle-class people, especially if they have children with some disease they need treatment to stay healthy.

So, you have to ask why Republicans in the House are so excited and so happy that they passed this piece of shit bill?  Looking at the groups in our society that is going to be hardest hit if this gets through the Senate, the only answer is that they are trying to cull the surplus population and practice a horrible form of eugenics.

Even our idiot-in-chief knows and said that universal health care like that in Australia is far better than our system.  The free market cannot sustain health care for all because that will limit the profits necessary to keep them operating.  I guess that is why we are the only developed country in the world trying to follow that failed system.

But, if you don’t care if your citizens have affordable health care, then it really doesn’t matter.  If you don’t care if your sick, disabled, poor, and old, simply die away, then it really doesn’t matter.

The original scoring of this bill said that 24 million people would be kicked off their health insurance.  The provisions that these Republican bastards added to appease the Freedom Without Poor People caucus made it even worse.  So, it is my guess that number of 24 million is going to go way up.

The new people without health care may not have been “kicked off” their insurance, the will simply be priced out of the market.  Obviously in order to have a perfect gene pool, we need to get rid of those people anyway.

My cynical mind says that is why the House of Representative Republicans are celebrating so much over this so-called bill.  No matter how you look at it, the only winners in this bill are those making over $250,000 per year who will receive a massive tax cut.  And, the insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies who will also get a massive tax cut.

We have reached the point in our society when people have to wake up and realize that these monsters they elected to office are only there to screw the very people who voted for them.  It is definitely time to “Repeal and Replace” all of the Republicans in Congress.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

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Day 175. 

Beloved leader and his Republican Politburo have given their supporters exactly what they expected.  They are screwing them, as well as millions of other people.  These wonderful people have just held up their middle finger to the very people that put them in office.

The only question remaining is how long will these supporters of trump and the Republicans take it?  They seem to be oblivious to the very fact that they are the ones most in the cross-hairs of Republican and trump attacks.  Maybe it is because you don’t  hear about them very much on national media.  There are way too many things to cover and it is hard to keep track.

The three stage whammy includes the Americans Without Health Care Act which is supposed to be voted on today in the House.  The overtime rules in place to protect workers.  And the retirement rules intended to help people without retirement plans through work get one any way.

The retirement rules were overturned yesterday by the Senate and on its way to beloved leaders desk for signature.  Only two Republicans voted against the bill.  But, with Sen. Durbin out because of medical reasons, the vote came out to 50 to 49.

Here is what this rule was.  In October 2016, President Obama established the rule that would exempt the state-created plans from the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, or ERISA, a law that outlines rules for workplace savings.  The full intent of the rule was to encourage states to create retirement plans for private-sector workers who do not have access to an employer-based retirement plan.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that the Obama rule would give “government-run retirement plans with a competitive advantage over private sector workplace plans”.  Obviously, anything that helps people is something that cannot be accepted by Republicans.  Beloved leader has indicated he agrees and will sign the bill.

The AARP also sent a letter to senators this week urging them to keep the Obama-era rule, noting that tens of millions of Americans don’t have access to a work-place savings account.

“AARP urges the Senate to allow state flexibility to support more private retirement savings opportunities, and to vote no on H.J. Res. 66,” the group wrote.

Finance officials with roughly two dozen states also sent a letter earlier this week warning that without access to a savings account workers could retire in poverty.

“States are pursuing a multitude of solutions to address this growing retirement savings crisis,” they wrote. ” We insist that states be allowed to maintain their constitutional rights to implement such legislation.”

All of those letters fell on the usual Republican deaf ears.  They don’t care about the people.  It is just that simple.  So, if you were looking to get a retirement plan set up by your state so you don’t retire in poverty, the Republican Congress just told you to forget about it!

Then we have the case of the House passing a bill that would kill the overtime rules.  As it stands now, if you are eligible for overtime, you are paid time and a half for any hours worked over 40 hours per week.  But, Republicans think that is way too generous for those little bastards who actually work for a living.

They believe that if you work for a living and have to work overtime, you are simply ripping off your employer, who is making you work overtime.  So, instead of paying you time and a half for your labor, Republicans want to change the rules to make it possible for employers to offer you “comp time” instead.

If you are unfamiliar with “comp time” let me explain it.  Comp time is paid time off on a day you are normally scheduled to work.  The new rule that Republicans want to pass into law, will let companies say you don’t get overtime anymore, but we will give you time off with pay.

If you want or need a day off, you will be able to ask for your comp time and get paid for your day off.  But, there is a catch, as there always is when Republicans are involved.  Let us say you make $10 per hour.  You work 48 hours in one week.  If you received overtime pay, you would receive $15 per hour for those 8 hours.  Meaning you would earn and additional $120 for that week.

On the other hand, if you had comp time, you might get your day off with $80 in pay.  Meaning the company pockets $40 worth of your labor.  If a large company has 100 people working merely 8 hours of overtime per week each, you can see just how much a company could “save” by offering you comp time instead of overtime pay.

There is another catch to the “comp time” thing.  You might not get the actual day off you requested.  There is a little catch phrase called “if workload permits”.  Which means that if the company says they are in a critical stage and they cannot allow you to have a specific day off, there isn’t anything you can do about it.

Let us say that you intend to take your child to opening day of the baseball season.  You request the day off based on your comp time.  The company can say that you cannot have that day off for a variety of reasons.  You have no recourse and either miss the day with your child or call out sick and don’t get paid.

Don’t you think it would be better to get the money for overtime, save it up and just take a day off without pay?  If you did that, you would have saved much of the cost of taking your child to the game in the first place.  But, Republicans think that is too much of a burden on your employer.  And, trump agrees with full intentions to sign the bill if it gets past the Senate.

Finally, we have the Americans Without Health Care Act.  Republicans and trump are desperate to get this bill passed at least through the House.  They don’t care that at least 24 million people will lose their health care coverage.

They also claim that “there are protections for pre-existing conditions”.  They are lying through their dentally repaired fake smiles.  Here is why they are lying.  According to the bill, and no we don’t even know everything that is in it, states will be able to “opt out” of the mandate for pre-existing conditions.  They simply have to show Price that they have a “High Risk Pool” that will help cover those patients.

We have seen High Risk Pools in the past, and they failed miserably.  They cost people with pre-existing conditions thousands of dollars more than other people.  It is true that so-called moderate Republicans got an additional $8 billion to help defer costs for those patients.  But, that isn’t nearly enough and millions more people will be priced out of the market just because of pre-existing conditions.

The $8 billion lets Republicans say there are protections for pre-existing conditions, but in reality, they are lying and they know it.  The bill also includes the ability of states to “opt out” of the “essential coverage” portion of the ACA.  That means states can remove things like maternity health care coverage, or make being a woman a pre-existing condition again.

Nor are there any protections that keep insurance companies from placing “life-time caps” on their spending for your health care.  Meaning if you get something like cancer, you could lose your insurance before you get healthy just because you cost too much.

The bill allows companies to offer “hospitalization” coverage and call it health care coverage.  Then they will tout how cheap it is.  But, the only time you will use such coverage is when you are so sick you have to go to the hospital.  Then, after you recover and want better coverage, you will be placed in the High Risk Pool because you now have a pre-existing condition.

Insurance companies will be able to charge older people as much as five times the amount they charge younger patients.  That means people between 50 and 64 will see their premiums explode.  The estimates from the last go-round said that someone who retires at age 62 would pay all of their Social Security check just to get health coverage until they reach 65 and go on Medicare.

Republicans also kept in the $880 billion cuts to Medicaid.  Remember, this cut does not affect the Medicaid expansion, it affects the Medicaid plan overall.  As a result, millions of low-income people will lose their Medicaid coverage and be thrown to the wolves.  This will also include some middle-class income earners as well.  But, that is okay, Republicans say if you can’t afford health insurance you don’t deserve it.

Then there is the elimination of the income-based subsidies intended to help people afford health insurance.  Instead of these subsidies, Republicans have included age-based tax credits instead.  These tax credits are far less than the current subsides, so more people will lose their health care coverage.

There is another part of this that Republicans don’t want you to know and are hiding it.  There are a few states that mandate that abortion be included in health care coverages.  If you live in one of those states, by law, you cannot claim the tax credits to help you get your health care coverage.  That is because there is a law that says federal money cannot be used to cover or perform abortions.

As a result, even more people will lose their health care because they won’t be able to use the tax credits and therefore not be able to afford health insurance.

But there is good news in the bill as well.  Rich people and health care companies will get a $1 trillion tax break.  How much better can you expect from a piece of legislation?  They are the only ones who count anyway.

You know that the Americans Without Health Care Act is a terrible bill for the people of this country.  You know that because legislation that is good for the country isn’t rushed through for a vote without anyone even knowing for sure what is in it.  Which is the case for this horrible bill.  Plus, a good piece of legislation will wait for the OMB to assess the costs of the bill.

Republicans won’t wait for that because of one of two reasons.  Either they are afraid that the people will rise up in protest again and kill their precious bill, or they are too much in a hurry to go on another recess on Friday.

Republicans have held no hearings on the bill.  They have had no testimony from the health care professionals on their take on the bill.  They received no input form health care professionals and haven’t sought any.  They have put this bill together in some dark closet on Capital Hill in secret and now want to ram it down our throats.

When the ACA was passed, Republicans said that the bill was “rushed through” and was too quick to pass.  Yet, it took 14 months to write the bill.  There were lots of open hearings on the content of the bill.  Health Care professionals were included and testified on what they liked and didn’t like.

That, said Republicans, was a “rush job”.  What the hell do you call the handling of this bill?  Pathetic is one word that comes to my mind.  Then again, why should we expect Republicans to do things according to the rules?  Hell, they only had seven years to come up with their “replacement” plan.  And this is the best they could do?

People in rural areas are gong to be hurt the most by this piece of shit bill.  Rural hospitals will have to shut down because they won’t be able to afford to stay open if this crap becomes law.  You know, the very areas that helped trump win the presidency.

In just 72 hours, our beloved leader and his Republican Politburo will tell their own constituents to go to hell with these three pieces of so-called legislation.  They will tell their own constituents that they don’t matter any more than the rest of us.  They are saying, just shut up and keep voting for us so we can keep screwing you.

What a wonderful way to govern.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

 

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Day 171. 

The first 100 days of beloved leader’s presidency are finally over.  In those 100 days about the only thing we learned about beloved leader is that he is a total clown with no idea of what the hell he is doing.

The three main items about trump we have learned are Bluster, Incompetence, and Complete Ignorance.  If those are his three main traits, we are all in deep shit.  Included in those three traits is one more.  He is an absolute lousy negotiator.  He couldn’t negotiate his way out of a men’s room.

But, don’t just take my word for it, look at each trait individually.  The day after his inauguration, he complained that no one was giving him credit for “having the largest crowd in history at my inauguration”.  Photographs of his inauguration proved otherwise, but what the hell, he believed it so we should.

Just last night at a rally in Harrisburg, PA he bragged that the crowd set an “all-time record for the arena and that there are thousands of people standing outside who couldn’t get in”.  Only photographs showed the arena was not at capacity.  It holds about 7,000 people, and photographs from the event show about 15 percent of the seats were empty.

Look, there was a large crowd there.  They were even loud and supportive of beloved leader.  But, his bluster couldn’t allow that to come out, he had to openly lie to the people in the arena who could see it was not full.  Yet, they still cheered him and agreed with him.  I guess the arena was never full for any event in its history.  If that is true, then he was right when he said it was an all-time record setter.  If that is not true, then neither is his comment.

He loudly tells us that he is for the “little people”.  But, his first executive order was to increase the cost of mortgage insurance for first-time home buyers making it harder for them to get the mortgage they need.  I am sure all first-time home buyers are thanking him for his support every time they write their mortgage checks out costing them $500 per year more than if he had not signed that stupid order.

Then he allows his EPA chief to let Dow Chemical’s pesticide that affects the development of brains in children and fetus’ to be used on food crops.  This pesticide was banned from food crops under the last administration, but who cares if you child’s brain developes like it should.  Dow Chemical’s profits are far more important than your children’s development.

The EPA has also taken down all of the information about climate change from its website.  It thinks that there is no such thing as climate change so why bother with putting up all of that scientific information that shows they are wrong.

Then under his incompetence, we only need to look at all of the vacancies in the Federal Government.  Of the roughly 459 positions he is required to fill, less than 60 of them have been filled.  There aren’t even any nominations announced for the remaining vacancies.

Additionally, his empty suit Rex Tillerson said that he expects to lay off over 2,000 state department employees.  Beloved leader apparently doesn’t believe that an active state department with real professionals can stop wars.  Which is exactly what their job is.  As whimpering dog Mattis over at Defense actually said “if we don’t have an active State Department, I will need a lot more bullets”.  Even whimpering dog knows we need a State Department that engages with the world.

During his time in office, our beloved leader has managed to piss off our allies like Germany, England, France, Canada, and even Australia.  All the while he is praising the murderer Putin for being a “great leader” as trump likes to call him.

He and his administration told the American People that “we are sending a great armada to the South China sea to show North Korea we mean business”.  Only, that “great armada” was actually heading for exercises with the Australian Navy thousands of miles south of the South China Sea.  The Commander-in-Chief and his whimpering dog Mattis didn’t even know where his fleet was or what they were doing.

Mattis even told us that they made the announcement because the exercise was cancelled so they had to give a reason for cancelling it.  Only, it wasn’t cancelled, and the Vinson and her fleet didn’t head towards Korea until it was over.  How incompetent can you be?

In Syria, his administration said they didn’t mind that Bashaad was in power and that it was up to the Syrian people to decide if they should get rid of him.  Then, Bashaad used chemical weapons on his own people.  So, trump launched a handful of missiles at one of Bashaad’s air bases with very limited results and bragged about being “presidential” over the incident.  He claimed that he had to send the missiles because of the pictures of all of those “beautiful babies” he saw being gassed.  Yet, he won’t let any of those “beautiful babies” to come here to get away from the war.

Then we get to his total ignorance.  We have been staring down North Korea for about 70 years.  Beloved leader seems to want to draw another “red line” in the sand over North Korea.

North Korea has artillery aimed at and in range of Seoul where about half of South Korea’s population lives.  So, in order to show we mean business again, he ordered that a missile defense system be installed in South Korea.  Sounds reasonable especially considering we have over 30,000 troops stationed in South Korea.

Then, he fell back on his gangster mode and claimed that he told South Korea that they should really pay for the missile defense system.  He seems to have left out the part where he would pull it out if they didn’t pay, but the possibility remains loudly in the minds of the South Korean people.

Then, to make matters even worse, he said he would tear up the trade agreement we have with South Korea.  This ignoramus doesn’t understand just how bad he is making relations with one of our best allies.  Does he really think that the South Koreans will be so “strong” in supporting our moves against North Korea if he is going to “tear up” our trade agreements with the South?

Additionally, there are Presidential elections going on in South Korea since their last President was removed from office over corruption charges.  Does he really believe that the winner will be the one who calls out the name trump as a “great leader”?  Rather, it would appear that the winner will be the one who defies and distances themselves from trump the most.  Boy, isn’t that a smart way to win friends.

But, let’s be fair.  He has accomplished a lot in his first 100 days.  He failed to get his Americans Without Health Insurance Act passed because he is a lousy negotiator.  That is a positive for the country.

He was able to get his nomination to the Supreme Court approved.  Of course, his patsy Mitch McConnell had to change Senate rules to achieve that, so it really doesn’t count as a “victory” to me.

He has made “town hall meetings” for his party members almost unbearable.  As a matter of fact, many of his party’s members won’t even hold town halls anymore because they are afraid to face angry crowds.

He has placed a gag order on the employees at EPA so you can never find out about the real effects of climate change or the “sweetheart deals” that Pruitt is making with the fossil fuel companies.

He has removed worker protections from companies who do business with the government.  So if a contractor is guilty of sexual harassment, unequal pay for women, or has a horrible safety record, we won’t know about them and they will get to keep their contracts.

He hired, and then was forced to fire, an unregistered foreign agent to be his National Security Advisor.  Before he was fired, Flynn sat in on highly classified briefings even on briefings that were about the countries for which he was an unregistered foreign agent.

A total of 15 people of his administration have either been fired, resigned, or withdrew their names from consideration for high level posts.  That surely is a record for a president in his first 100 days.  And, we all know how much he loves records.

He has signed more executive orders in his first 100 days than any other president since World War II.  Remember when Republicans claimed that executive orders were nothing more than “a political overreach that flew against the Constitution”?  Funny, we don’t hear the same thing from them now that beloved leader is using executive orders instead of actual legislation.

Finally, he has managed to become the first president who is the subject of a counter espionage investigation concerning his campaign’s collusion with Russia in hacking our national elections.  He managed that in his first 100 days.

All of this shows that we probably have the biggest asshole sitting in the White House in our nation’s history.  The only thing he hasn’t done, yet, is follow his hero Andrew Jackson’s lead who tried make the east coast all white by shipping out all of the Native Americans who lived there.  Only, trump will ship out all Mexicans and Muslims instead of Native Americans.

He has named a fossil fuel company puppet as the head of the EPA.  He has named a public education hater to head up the Department of Education.  He has named an openly proud racist as our Attorney General.  He has placed former Goldman Sachs heads in positions to run our budgets and finances.  You know the company that was the lead in destroying the economy in 2008.

He named a person to head up the Department of Energy who doesn’t even know what the department does, and wants to “get rid of it” anyway.  He fired every District Attorney and has yet to fill one of those vacancies.

He gave a speech about not “tolerating anti-Semitism” in our country, but won’t name one White Supremacist or Neo-Nazi group as domestic terrorists.  Of course these groups all say they are acting as real Christians.  As he liked to say during the campaign, “our president won’t even say the term domestic Christian terrorist”.

The first 100 days of beloved leaders’ administration are finally over.  I won’t blame you if you think it has felt more like 100 years instead of days.  We are saddled with a do-nothing blusterous, incompetent, ignorant idiot in the White House.  Every time he gives a speech using his tele-prompter, I get the feeling I am listening to a first grader reading “see   spot   run”.

That is what we have learned about trump during the first 100 days.   The only question left is will we even have a country left by the 2018 elections?  Considering the first 100 days, that is a reasonable question to ask.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

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Day 163. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

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Day 160. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

 

 

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