Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Smackdown!’ Category

Day 73.

I  know you all remember the hoopla about Hillary Clinton’s private email server.  And, I am sure you all remember how Donald Trump said she should be “locked up” for deleting some of her emails.  There have been what seems like hundreds of Congressional investigations into this matter, and Mr. Unethical Chaffetz says he plans on more.

Only, there is something that needs to be looked at too.  Only this time it isn’t about Hillary Clinton it is about Donald Trump.  I know that as usual he made an ass of himself yesterday with all of his lies about the attendance at his inauguration and his despicable performance at the CIA.  But, did president trump break the law yesterday?

At 1157 yesterday, our president tweeted:  “I am honered to serve you, the great American people, as your 45th President of the United States!”   You may notice that he misspelled “honored”.  That isn’t the problem.  The problem and possible breaking of the law came when he deleted the tweet and reposted it with the correct spelling.

You are saying, what does that have to do with breaking the law?   In 1978, Congress passed a law called the Presidential Record Act which requires all communications from or received by the president to be preserved.

Hmmm.  Since the original tweet was “from the president” it is required to be preserved.  Yet, the president deleted that tweet.  On the face of things in a literal manner, he broke the law and illegally deleted a tweet that was supposed to be preserved.  Sound familiar?

Of course this also brings up a whole lot of questions.  What happens if trump in his early tweet rantings says something stupid about one of our allies or enemies?  Can he then delete the tweet and pretend it didn’t happen?  According to the law, no he cannot.

It is bad enough we have a 5 year-old with a twitter account that is not managed very well.  Now that same 5 year-old is going to be the president of our country and his loose lips, or rather fingers, can lead to many problems around the world.

But, if he realizes that he made a mistake and tries to hide that mistake by deleting the tweet, he is violating the Presidential Records Act.  Which means his supporters should start chanting “lock him up”.

The whole point here is that we live in a world that is totally different than the age trump wants us to move backwards to.  In the era before World War II there wasn’t such social media.

Since Watergate we have seen a lot of laws that tend to make the presidency and other elected officials more transparent.  Even though there was no social media and twitter in 1978, the language in the law appeared to predict changes.  That is why it reads all communications sent by or received by the president is to be preserved.

Since our current president doesn’t like to read, maybe he should have someone else read the law for him and tell him he cannot delete tweets anymore.  Maybe, that will make him actually think before his fingers go to work.

This little incident is a prelude of things to come and further exemplifies just how unqualified he is for the office he was elected to.  Mr. Chaffetz has shown his disdain for “deleted emails” and he should show his disdain for deleted tweets, too.

As Republicans have said about Hillary Clinton, the law is the law.  They better hold trump to the same standards and investigate his private twitter account and how many tweets he deletes now that he is president.

Fair is fair.

 

Read Full Post »

Day 70

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Full Post »

Day 69.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Full Post »

Day 68.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Read Full Post »

Day 65

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Full Post »

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?

 

 

Read Full Post »

Day 63

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »