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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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Day 158. 

All through the campaign and ever since he took office, our beloved leader has promised to create millions of new jobs.  If you were watching very closely, you will have noticed that his promise is not just a pipe dream.  He really will create those jobs.  Well, it may seem like that at first glance.

What he is really going to do is cull the workforce from those lazy bastards that already fill up employment rolls and replace them with new workers who will be overjoyed to finally have a “good paying” job.  And, he has already taken the first steps to make all of that happen.

While you were watching him stumble and bumble his way through these first three months, our beloved leader was quietly signing bills placed in front of him by his politburo Republican Congress and his Department of Labor was quietly changing rules.  These bills and rule changes only affected simple things like workplace safety.

See, if you do away with all of those expensive workplace safety rules, then people will get injured to the point of permanent disability and maybe even die.  That will open up millions of jobs over the next four years for anyone who wants them.  New job creation accomplished.

The first thing he did was to sign two bills from Republicans that make it harder to track workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths.  The first one undoes a rule requiring federal contractors to fully report all labor violations.    The second one undoes a rule to strengthen employer’s workplace illness and injury record-keeping requirements.  The Republicans call these regulations – job killers.

In case you may be wondering why these are important rules, it is simply because they allow OSHA to monitor what is going on in the workplace, find out what is really behind workplace safety, and help to fix the problem to protect workers.  So, you can see how much the industries would hate such bills and/or rules.  They just might be required to protect their employees while at work.

Then we have the Department of Labor delaying two very important rules.  The first one deals with silica dust.  Silica dust is a very hazardous carcinogen that causes lung cancer and death.  There has been an outcry about Silica since the 1930s.  A rule was passed in the 70s, but it was called inefficient.  Then last year the Obama Administration placed more restrictive rules on the amount of Silica dust that could be present.

The industry howled about the administration being intrusive in their businesses.  The new rule would force employers to install new ventilation systems and provide better respiratory protection devices for their employees who work in that environment.  And, in fairness, it would cost a lot of money.

So, hearing his buddies cry about the new rule, the DOL placed a three-month hold on the rule.  The industry is gearing up for a lobbying attack to make sure they kill the rule completely.  But, even if it were put in place after the three-month delay, it is estimated by health experts that up to 600 people will be affected to the point of getting lung cancer and even dying from breathing in the Silica Dust in that three-month period.

The Department of Labor (DOL) has also twice postponed implementation of its rule updating standards for workers’ protection from carcinogenic beryllium dust.  Like silica, exposure to beryllium, used in construction, shipyards, foundries and industries that use the metal to make electronics, aerospace, defense and other components, causes incurable lung disease and lung cancer.

“OSHA estimates that when fully implemented it [the rule] will save 94 lives a year. Every four days of delay in the implementation dates costs the life of one American worker,” wrote Michael Wright, director of health, safety and environment at United Steelworkers, in comments submitted to the DOL.

Of course Republicans hate the rule and want it killed as well.  They call this rule a “midnight rule”.  They claim that it was rushed through at the last-minute.  However, in fact, the rule results from actions that go back to 2002.

Also delayed are Environmental Protection Agency rules to prevent emissions of formaldehyde, a carcinogen and serious respiratory hazard, from manufactured wood products, to increase safety at industrial plants that use and store highly hazardous chemicals and to increase protections for pesticide applicators.

Then we have beloved leader’s proposed budget which will all but eliminate OSHA.  One of the things being eliminated under his budget is something called the Susan B. Harwood training grants. “The Harwood grants include very important training programs to reduce occupational illnesses, like grants that go out to train workers in nail salons and beauty parlors,” on exposure to hazardous chemicals, explained David Michaels, George Washington University professor of environmental and occupational health and Obama administration Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA.

The budget to OSHA to enforce workplace safety laws will be slashed dramatically as well.  OSHA is really an enforcement agency.  It is tasked to investigate injuries at the workplace, make recommendations to see it doesn’t happen again, and even levy fines to the company if warranted.

Not only that, but the cuts will hamper the agency from updating things like their outdated chemical safety standards.  This may all seem obscure, but these standards do not just affect those working at chemical plants, but the surrounding area as well.  It puts everyone’s life in jeopardy.

So, as you see can beloved leader really does have plan to create millions of jobs.  What he isn’t telling you is that won’t be “new” jobs, you will simply be filling jobs of people who were made disabled or killed due to poor workplace safety.  But, what the hell, a job is a job according to beloved leader.

This administration wants to take us back in time when corporations controlled our entire lives.  They want to see “company towns” where you were forced to live and purchase everything from the “company store”.  The administration believes just like the employers that “workers are a dime a dozen so if someone is hurt, disabled, or killed no big deal.  We can replace him easy enough.”

Remember, if you don’t pay attention to the little things that go under the trump stupidity meter in the media, you will find yourself on the outside looking in just like your grandfathers.  If you think trump cares about the average person, just look at what he is doing to your safety in the workplace.  If that is caring for me, please start to hate me instead.  At least I would know your true intentions were to get rid of me.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

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Day 155. 

All of a sudden, our beloved leader has fallen love with our depleted military and our stupid generals.  That is what he has said about our military for almost 2 years now.  Suddenly, the military isn’t so depleted that he can’t use it as a toy, and our generals are all really smart and “outstanding”.

But, that also leads us to potential “big time” trouble as trump would say.  Now that he has fallen love with our military, the next possible target would be North Korea.  And, that is where the big time trouble would be.

North Korea is not Syria.  North Korea is not Iraq.  North Korea already has nuclear weapons.  And, they have a child version of trump as their beloved leader who has killed his own family members because he thought they were a threat to his power.

That means that all of the talk about “taking care of North Korea” that trump has been uttering is even more dangerous.  We have a carrier group near the peninsula.  What if their child killer decides to make a preemptive strike against that group with nuclear weapons?  We have thousands of our sailors in harm’s way like we haven’t since the cold war ended.

And a preemptive strike if North Korea should test nuclear bomb places the entire peninsula in danger.  Ever since the Korean war ended with its cease-fire, we have treaded carefully there.  The leaders of that country have been belligerent for years.  They continuously bluster about how great their military is and how wonderful they are.  They tell their people that means they would win any war against the south and the U.S.

North Korea has one of the largest standing armies in the world.  They are willing and many of the hard-liners are eager to fight.  Yes, it is most likely that a war in Korea would result in a win for us and our allies, but at what cost?

Is it worth starting a war because of the behavior of North Korea?  You must remember, Seoul is just 35 miles from the North Korean border.  There are about 20 million people who live in and around Seoul.  That means the city is in range of North Korea’s massive artillery. That means even using conventional weapons, the North could kill millions of South Koreans.

Don’t forget our forces stationed in South Korea either or the American business people who live and work in Seoul.  On top of that, South Korea is the 11th largest economy in the world.  If there is a war, the country would be devastated and need to rebuild again costing billions of dollars.

Every year the U.S. and South Korea holds exercises in the country.  One of the objectives is to determine what would happen if a war did break out on the peninsula.  All of the exercises so far has shown there is no good option for a war.

Something does need to be done about getting North Korea to get rid of their nuclear weapons.  But, is war the answer?  It may come to that point.  But are we there yet?  For the first time, China is starting to put pressure on North Korea where it hurts.  North Korea gets most of their money from selling coal to China.  China just sent back all of their coal shipments and told North Korea to keep them.

China is not looking forward to a war in Korea either.  Assuming that the U.S. and its allies would eventually win such a war, do you really think that China wants a border with a unified Korea that is backed by the U.S. with possibly U.S. troops on its border?  Which means, would China decide to send troops in if North Korea is on the brink of defeat as they did in the 1950s?

Then we have the agreement with South Korea.  In that agreement we are not supposed to use any military force against North Korea without consulting South Korea first.  The people in South Korea are getting very nervous as tensions on the peninsula rise.

Even if we do consult with South Korea, what if they say they don’t want the U.S. to use a preemptive attack on the North?  Do we ignore our ally and do it anyway?  Will our beloved leader play chicken with the lives of millions of our ally’s people?

And, what about Japan?  Japan is already in reach of North Korea’s missiles.  What happens if the North decides to attack Japan as well?  There is no doubt that Japan will retaliate, and we will have no choice but support our ally there as well.

Finally, what about our own Congress?  Any attack against North Korea would be considered an act of war against a foreign country.  Only Congress has the authority to declare such action.  So, an unannounced preemptive attack by the administration against North Korea would be unConstitutional.

So I hope beloved leader is consulting with the leaders of Congress right now and letting them know what he is planning on doing.  Otherwise, he will break the law if he goes ahead with a preemptive strike.

But, more than that, we need to look at and understand what other enemies might do if we attack North Korea.  What might Russia do?  What might Iran do?  Will Russia take a preemptive strike against North Korea as a sign they can go ahead and invade Ukraine?  Maybe Iran will decide it is a good time to invade Iraq to take over that country?

Maybe Iran would think it is a good time to actually attack Israel.  What then?  That could totally destabilize the mid-east.  Then we would be looking at war across the board.

Handling North Korea is not the same as bullying your political opponents.  It is not the same as sending missiles into Syria after telling the Russians and Syrians to leave the area.  It isn’t the same as dropping a huge bomb on ISIS.

We are talking about striking a country that has a large and competent army.  We are talking about striking a country with a leader even more unstable than our leader.  We are talking about a real war with potentially tens of millions of people being killed.

All of the talking heads, especially on the right are talking about how trump is learning on job and getting better.  I wrote yesterday I don’t agree with that analysis.  I still don’t.  We will get a real understanding what trump has learned and whether or not he has any idea of what his job is when we see how he handles North Korea.

If he continues with his “gut” and makes a rash decision concerning this situation, it cold spell disaster for the Korean peninsula and for the world.  If it is true that trump only listens to and does what the last person he speaks to says, we better hope a sane person is that last one.

This weekend Christians are celebrating Easter. Jews are celebrating Passover.  North Korea is celebrating the 105th birthday of the country’s founder.  The first two celebrations are celebrations of peace.  The third is a celebration of dictatorship.  The third could be the only one worth watching.  Will North Korea simply hold their parade and go home, or will they do something like test another nuclear weapon, launch test missiles, or launch a preemptive attack on our carrier group or South Korea?

The first two scenarios would be bad, but not something to start a war over.  The last two would mean war.  And, how trump reacts to one of the first two scenarios could also mean war.  We can only hope that cooler saner heads prevail.  Unfortunately, the actions so far from these two leaders don’t give us too much confidence.

We can only watch and wait.  Despite all of the stupidity in the world over the last 70 years, this is the closest we have come to worldwide disaster since the Cuban Missile Crisis.  We averted that disaster because there were two leaders who understood the consequences.  Both leaders were able to overrule their hawkish military leaders.  Does trump have the guts to say no to his Generals like Kennedy did?  Will he even order them to get clearance from him before launching any attack against North Korea?

This issue is way beyond politics or trying to look and talk tough.  This is a situation that could lead to life and death for millions of people.  This is when real leaders stand up and resist primal instincts to simply attack.  Rational thought needs to be used.  That is where our problem is.  We haven’t seen a lot of rational thought from trump so far.  If he really is learning his job, now is the time to show that he has learned to rationally think.

 

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Day 153. 

We are at the end of month three of our beloved leaders presidency.  I am not one of those who think the first 100 days tells us anything, normally, but at this stage, I think it is time to reflect on just what our beloved leader means when he says “great”.

In the first three months, our beloved leader has accomplished absolutely nothing.  He failed in his attempt to “repeal and replace” the ACA with the House’s rotten Americans Without Health Care Act.  He twice tried to enact a Muslim Ban using Executive Orders and was blocked by the courts both times.

We keep hearing about all of the wonderful things he has done, so let’s look at what he has actually accomplished.  He has managed to raise the mortgage insurance rates for first time home buyers by $500 per year.

He has allowed coal companies to use rivers and streams for the dumping grounds for their toxic waste.  He has given the greenlight to a foreign company to build a pipeline across the middle of our country using foreign steel.  And, he is also allowing that foreign company to use U.S. Eminent Domain to steal land from the people who own it to build their pipeline.

He has ignored the environment case and the treaties with the Standing Rock Sioux to allow that pipeline to cross under a lake that provides drinking water to the reservations, and dumps into the Missouri River that provides drinking water to about 17 million other residents in three states.

He has started mass deportations of people who are undocumented immigrants.  He stayed quiet when his Secretary of Homeland Security announced they “might separate children from their families” when they are caught at the border.  He has allowed people under the protection of DACA to be rounded up with other undocumented immigrants.

He has refused to allow Syrian children and their families to seek asylum in our country, but then turned around and made a worthless attack on Syria because he saw those videos of “beautiful babies” being killed by the Syrian Regime.  He loves those “beautiful babies” so much he is willing to attack a sovereign country, but he hates them so much he won’t let them get away from the war and gain entry to our country.

His head of the EPA has given the greenlight to Dow Chemical to continue to sell and farmers to use a pesticide that has been proven to affect the brain development of children and the unborn that Republicans love so much.  The original ban was for “food crops” but his administration thinks that is too much to ask to protect our children.

His proposed budget will cut the State Department by over 30 percent.  It will cut the EPA by over 30 percent and he has placed a gag order on anyone at EPA from even talking about climate change science.  It will cut NOAA by at least 25 percent.  That isn’t too important, except that is the agency that provides the National Weather Service with information that helps get out weather warnings to the people.

He is cutting satellite time for the National Weather Service.  He wants to eliminate all of the Coast Guard’s funding for new equipment.  The Coast Guard only saves lives, protects our ports, helps with drug interdiction, helps with people trafficking, helps enforce and clean up after oil spills in our oceans, rivers, and lakes, and a lot more.  So, they aren’t that important.

It is going to cut out the National Broadcasting Corporation so you won’t find Sesame Street. They say you can now watch it on HBO, but they fail to tell you that you have to “subscribe” to HBO and poor people can’t afford that just to get children’s educational programming.  But what the hell, education is overrated according to beloved leader.

He has allowed ISP companies to sell your personal data to anyone without your permission or giving you any compensation.  He is about to eliminate net neutrality so those same ISP companies can charge you more for using their “fast lane” on your computer.  If you fail to pay the higher rates, you will be placed in the slow lane and have to wait longer to download your information.

His administration is embroiled in a counter espionage investigation being conducted by the FBI because it appears that at least some of his advisors were cooperating with Russia in their hack of our elections.  It was revealed that Carter Page was the target of a FISA warrant because the FBI believed that he was acting as an unregistered foreign agent.  The warrant was issued back in June or July while he was working for the trump campaign.

Paul Manafort has made the headlines again because at least $1.2 million form the so-called black ledger of the former Putin ally who was president did go to his consulting firm after he denied anything like has happened.

Both Republicans and Democrats who have viewed those classified documents that had Nunes all a tizzy said there is nothing in them that say anyone in the Obama administration, including Susan Rice did anything unusual or wrong.

The Immigration Advisor, Sebastian Gorka, has ties to an ultra-right wing party in Hungary that the State Department still labels as a collaborator with the Nazis during World War II.  He claims not to be a racist or belong to the organization, but he proudly wore the medal of the Order of Vitez to the presidential inaugural ball!  He claims he has not sworn allegiance to the Order of Vitez, but the Order say he has.  Yet, he still has his job with a president who has a daughter who is Jewish.

Our beloved leader has not created a single job since he took office.  He has done nothing to improve the lot of the working class.  He reuses to raise the minimum wage.  He has repealed worker protection orders on equal pay and sexual abuse for women working for companies under government contract.

He declared this as Women’s Abuse month, then went on to praise Bill O’Reilly for “being such a nice guy” even after the new blow up about his sexual abuse of women on his show and at Fox News.  Someone ought to tell our beloved leader that Women’s Abuse month is not a period of time to praise those who abuse women.  But, what do you expect from a man who brags how he can sexually abuse women and get away with it because he is famous.

A few days ago a teacher and one 8-year-old child were shot and killed in the school by the teacher’s estranged husband.  Not a peep out of the administration about this incident.  Why?  Because it did not involve a Muslim.  And, because it was committed by a man who apparently “abused” his wife when married.

Yesterday our lovely and stupid Attorney General announced a crackdown on every single person trying to cross the border “illegally”.  It even includes prosecuting people for “harboring” illegal immigrants.  It further appears that if a man comes across the border with his wife and children, he will face “harboring” charges for bringing his family with him.

Finally, beloved leader’s propaganda minister tripped all over himself with a horrible comparison between the chemical attack in Syria and Hitler.  Saying “even Hitler didn’t use chemicals against his own people”.  Then he called the concentration camps “holocaust centers”, like they were a nice place to go to be relocated.

Now, to be fair to Spicer, he actually did apologize.  He didn’t use the standard trump line of “if I offended anybody” he actually said he made a stupid mistake.  But, that doesn’t take away from the stupidity to begin with.  If you are going to be the Press Secretary, don’t you think you should know at least basic history?

It is also understandable that there has been no comment from the White House either.  Stephen Bannon, Gorka, and a lot of other “key” employees of trump are known to be white supremacists.  So the culture of such comments is not all that unusual for this administration.

What we have discussed here is just the tip of the iceberg.  There has been a host of other outrageous things that the administration has either done or is going to try to do.  For example, the proposed tax reform plan includes eliminating the Social Security Tax from your pay checks.  Sounds nice, but without that tax, how will Social Security be funded?  It will be at the mercy of Paul Ryan the Republicans who want to kill Social Security completely.

So, we must ask beloved leader one question.  What exactly do you mean by “Make America Great Again?  So far, you haven’t done anything that could remotely be any indication of making America great.  All you have done is lie to the American people and take just about every weekend off to go play golf at Mar A Lago on our dime.  At the rate you are going, you will have played more rounds of golf in one year than President Obama did in eight years.

It is very clear that when beloved leader says he is going to Make America Great Again” he isn’t talking about making it great for you and me.  He is talking about making it great for himself and the 1 percenters.

I guess it is possible that things will change.  But with trump, I find that possibility very unlikely.  And, we are only at the end of three months.  Seems like thirty years.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

 

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Day 138. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

 

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Day 137. 

About three weeks ago, trump went on one of his tweet rants.  In those rants he accused the prior President, President Obama, of “tapping my wires”.  There was no evidence offered, and the White House said it should be investigated.  Things simmered for quite a while.

The House Intelligence Committee started an investigation into the hacking of our election process by Russia, and decided to include this accusation as part of their inquiries.  The Chair of this Committee is Devin Nunes.

Last week, the committee held an open hearing with Director Comey and Adm. Rogers testifying.  Both men said they had “no evidence nor have I seen anything that shows that Trump Tower had been wiretapped or surveilled”.  They were both emphatic about that.

Then the bombshell came falling down out of the blue sky.  Comey said that the FBI had been investigating the trump campaign for possible colluding with Russia and their hacking into our election.   He said the investigation had been going on since last June, months before the election.  He called it a “counter intelligence” investigation.  That kind of investigation is usually reserved for espionage.

There was an almost deafening hush fall over the room with that announcement.  And from there, to coin the phrase, the shit really hit the fan.  The media went nuts, as you could imagine.  Nunes almost seemed stunned at the announcement.

But things got even crazier after that.  According to a report, and confirmed by Nunes spokesperson, Nunes was traveling in an Uber cab one night with staff and got a message.  He immediately left the cab without telling his staff what was going on or where he was going.  He basically disappeared.

The next morning, Nunes held a news conference and announced that he had been shown information that said that some of trump’s transition team had been incidentally been picked in recordings under FISA warrant.  He also said he would inform the president, and then got in a car and headed down to the White House.

After briefing the president, he held another press conference to discuss what he told the president.  The real problem is that he never shared this information with anyone on the committee.  He never informed Rep. Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the committee of the information or that he intended to tell the president.  He just hopped in his car and did his worst.

Then on Friday, he held another press conference to announce that he wanted to speak to Director Comey and Adm. Rogers again in a closed-door session.  As a result an open hearing scheduled for tomorrow would be postponed for another day.  Today we learned that the closed-door session has also been postponed.

The last bit dropped today.  It was discovered, and confirmed by Nunes himself, that the night he disappeared, he went to the White House to meet with his “source” to get this information.  He claims there is nothing special about this because he goes there all of the time.

But, I know something about how the White House works.  You do not get into the White House, or even on the grounds without prior approval from someone inside the White House.  It doesn’t matter if you are a member of Congress either.  This is especially true at night.

Once you are signed in, you are normally escorted to where you are going.  That is standard operating policy.  So, his other claim that “I could have sneaked in and no one would have even known” is a lie.  If he had sneaked in, he just might have been shot.  Especially considering the fence jumper the past weekend.

As a result of all of this, it is clear that Nunes is hiding something.  I don’t buy his story about his belief that the president deserved to know the details he saw in the information he got at the White House.  Nor, do I believe his statement that it does not involve the Russia investigation.  If it didn’t have anything to do with the investigation, why was it so important to brief the president?

Additionally, this is a man who is supposed to be conducting an investigation into this White House and their ties to Russia.  His briefing the president on anything he discovers is like the FBI briefing a Mafia Head about an investigation into their family’s criminal activities.  You just don’t do that if you are seriously trying to get to the bottom of a real investigation, regardless of where the evidence leads you.

This all brings me to the one question that not one of our marvelous journalists have asked.  Nunes claims he is “concerned” about U.S. citizen names being unmasked.  So, I would ask him if his name was on that list of people who were legally incidentally surveilled in FISA warrants of foreigners.

That question is not unreasonable.  Nunes himself said this was done during the transition.  Nunes was a Senior Advisor to the trump transition team.  As a result, it would not be impossible for him to call someone maybe he shouldn’t.  Is that what he is afraid of coming out?  Why else would he not share the information with anyone else on the committee?

Maybe, just maybe, Nunes isn’t just a shill for trump.  Maybe, just maybe, Nunes is complicit in what is being investigated.  So, the question should be asked.  Obviously, he will either outright deny his name is on the list, or he will obfuscate and just not answer the question.

Democrats are calling on Nunes to recuse himself from the investigation.  He says he will not step down.  But, as things keep dripping out in this case, Nunes’ integrity will be questioned as things move along.  And, if it turns out he lied about his “briefing of the president” and what was covered, and/or his name is on the list, he could be in much more serious trouble.

This whole thing is getting crazier and crazier.  Nunes seems to be way over his head in this investigation.  He is acting more like an informant for the president than the one who is supposed to oversee the president’s actions.  He has no one to blame for his hell hole but himself.

I dare someone in the journalistic world to ask the question if he, Nunes, was one of those picked up.  Nunes always appears to me as looking like a deer in the headlights.  It would be interesting to see how he reacts to this one reasonable question.  So, someone with guts, please ask it!

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