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Day 193. 

The upcoming budget from our beloved leader’s administration is a perfect example of fantasy in the real world.  This budget is the worst budget I have ever seen.  And, the arguments behind it are even more weird than the budget itself.

As is usual in a Republican budget, the poor and the working poor in our country are expected to take huge cuts to their benefits in order to give the rich huge tax cuts.  It is planning to remove billions of dollars from food stamps, WIC, Children’s health care, welfare, Pell Grants, Student Loans and a lot more.

It is also calling for huge increases in the defense spending and money for his stupid Berlin Wall.  The very wall that he claimed Mexico would pay for.   Then there is the trillions of dollars being given to the very rich in massive tax cuts.  And, of course don’t forget the trillions of dollars being handed out to corporations.

Some people are claiming that the elderly are not going to be hurt.  But, if you consider the fact that a lot of people in nursing homes get their money from Medicaid, they will be hurt by the massive cuts in that program.  How many will actually be thrown out of the nursing home they are in?  Medicaid is about to lose an estimated 800 Billion Dollars.

But, the argument they are using is pure fiction.  It is the usual Republican argument that people need to be removed from the social net and put back to work.  Yet, even though that sounds admirable, where are the jobs going to come from?

Beloved leader believes that his budget will grow the economy by over 3 percent.  That is also a fantasy.  And here is why.

We heard a lot of talk during the campaign about jobs being shipped overseas.  That was true.  However, what you didn’t hear was how many jobs have been lost due to automation of those jobs.  Most of the manufacturing jobs in this country have been lost to robots.  And, as the manufacturing industry grows, fewer people are being hired because the new factories are being automated as well.

That is really old news.  We have discussed automation before.  But, it is just beginning to ramp up.  The next industry to be hit with massive layoffs because of automation is the retail industry.  We are already losing massive amounts of jobs in that industry because of the internet.  More and more brick-and-mortar retail outlets are closing and losing business to the internet.

And, it is going to get much worse in the very near future.   According to a 56-page report by the investment advisory firm Cornerstone Capital Group roughly 6 million to 7.5 million retail jobs “likely will be automated out of existence in the coming years, leaving a large portion of the retail workforce at risk of becoming ‘stranded workers'”.

Retail cashiers will be hit the hardest with an estimated 73 percent of them being laid off due to automation.  Most cashiers in this country are women. The losses will also disproportionately affect the working poor, since most hourly retail workers live below the poverty line. About 16 million people, or one in 10 American workers, are employed in the retail industry.

“This in-depth examination of retail automation gives investors insights as they consider investment risks and opportunities,” Lukomnik of Cornerstone Capital Group said in a news release. “While the findings are important to investors, they should sound the alarm for economists and political leaders. The shrinking of retail jobs in many ways threatens to mirror the decline in manufacturing in the US. Moreover, in this case, workers at risk are already disproportionately working poor, so any disruption may cause strains in the social safety net and stresses on local tax revenues.”

The automation services that are disrupting retail employment can range from tablets where customers can check out without the help of a cashier to more complicated technologies like the robot that Lowe’s is testing that can interact with customers in stores and help them find the items they need.

Automation is also impacting the restaurant industry. The CEO of Taco Bell’s parent company said in March that machines could replace human workers in 10 years.

“I don’t think it is going to happen next year or the year after, but I do believe that probably by the mid ’20s to the late ’20s, you’ll start to see a dramatic change in sort of how machines run the world,” Greg Creed, CEO of Yum Brands, told CNBC. Yum owns a handful of fast-food companies including KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut.

Between the growth of the internet and the automation of jobs in the retail and restaurant industries, jobs will be lost in the millions.  Most of these workers are paid at or just above the minimum wage and the employees are considered the “working poor”.

Many others are working in the industry because they need more flexible hours to care for their families.  And, many are older people.  The retail industry employs lots of people across all spectrums of society.  And, they are all at risk of being “automated” out of work.

And, this is not their fault.  They are not sitting at home waiting for a government check, yet.  These people are hard-working people trying to support their families and trying to just survive in today’s world.

They are the very people that Republicans claim are eating up government money because they are lazy and don’t want to work.  Worst, these are also the very people who keep voting Republican and voted for trump because they promised more jobs.  Looks like that was just another empty promise unless you consider giving a robot a job as creating jobs.

That also brings us to the fantasy that the economy will grow over 3 percent.  How can the economy grow if fewer people are working?  Who is going to spend money and help the economy grow?  The fewer people working, the less money they will spend simply because they don’t have any money.

Using simple basic economics, that means there will be less demand for products.  Less demand means more supply and a downturn or recession in the economy.  Meaning the economy will not grow by 3 percent.  It won’t even grow by 1 percent.

Couple that with the massive spending increases in defense and border protection along with the massive tax cuts, the deficit has nowhere to go but up.  Meaning that the economy will probably slow down even more than by the simple rules of supply and demand.  We may even be looking at another crash of the economy.

Through its actions so far, this administration has proven itself to be a friend of the very rich and the enemy of everyone else.  They are trying very hard to eliminate the poor.  Not through actions that will help them get training they need to compete in today’s economy, but through blaming them for the economic problems.

People who need assistance have been demonized for generations by this Republican Party.  There are more and more Republican controlled states that want to drug test everyone who gets assistance because as we all know, people on the social safety nets are simply lazy drug users who don’t want to work.  They are placing all kinds of obstacles on the poor to get the money they need to just survive.

Don’t you find it funny that there is never a proposed drug test before the rich can receive those massive tax cuts?  That is because we all know that inherited fortunes means the inheritor is a good person and never uses drugs.  Yeah, right.

Ever since at least 1968, the Republican Party has been waging a war against the poor.  They believe that the poor should just be happy to live in the gutters and watch how the rich live.  They don’t believe in fair pay for workers, hence their hatred of the minimum wage.  They believe that if you cannot afford health coverage, you don’t deserve it.  They believe that only the wealthy deserve a college education and that the poor should just be servants to the rich.  Servants don’t need a college education.

The budget that will be rolled out today is a blueprint of this agenda of the Republican Party.  Beloved leader has taken it even further.  We have had all kinds of presidents in my lifetime, but this one is the most anti-poor president I have seen.

Of course, if this horrible budget does manage to get through Congress, and Republicans are itching to change the rules to insure their agenda goes through, then maybe it will be good for America.  Beloved Leader’s voters will be hit extremely hard by this budget.  Maybe, just maybe, they will finally see the light and realize just how horrible he is.

The down side is that we need the Clown in Chief to crash the economy which he seems hell-bent to do.  In that case, we all lose, again.  There is an old saying in this country that goes back years and years.  That saying is:”  “If you want to live like a Republican, vote Democratic”.  The economy has done much better under a Democratic President than a Republican President.

As the economy continues its steady growth under the policies and regulations the Obama Administration put in place after the crash of 2008, beloved leader and his administration is doing everything in its power to return to 2008 and a bad economy.  This proposed budget is a step in that direction.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

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Day 188. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

 

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Day 185. 

We are going through another round of smokescreens from our beloved leader.  The latest is all about firing Comey as the Director of the FBI.  He admitted, though not using exact words, that he actually fired Comey because of the Russia investigation that is driving trump to the point of madness.  But, with all that going on, we are missing key points that prove that trump has no intentions of keeping his promises from the campaign.  Which means that the Average American will be badly hurt by his policies.

The Americans Without Health Care Act is set, if passed by the Senate, to cut $880 Billion from Medicaid.  You will remember there were three things that trump promised would never be cut under his administration.  Those three were Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  Only he lied.  That became obvious the other day, when his campaign economic advisor, Stephen Moore told the American People exactly that.

On May 8, Moore was on CNN’s Newsroom.  He was joined by the University of Chicago economist Austan Goolsbee to discuss the merits of billionaire businessman and philanthropist Warren Buffett’s argument that the Trump health care agenda amounts to little more than a tax cut for the rich funded by cuts to health care subsidies for low-income Americans. Goolsbee pointed out that Trump’s health care legislation “cuts taxes for high-income people by hundreds of billions of dollars” at the expense of Medicare and Medicaid, which Trump promised “he would never cut.” Moore interjected falsely: “He never said that we weren’t going to reform Medicaid,” arguing, “That was central to our plan all along”.

There you have it.  Moore simply told the American People that trump planned to cut Medicaid all along and that it was “central to his plan all along”.  The talking heads mostly ignored the statement.  But co-hosts John Berman and Poppy Harlow, as well as Goolsbee, did cite trump’s tweets and public statements as proof that he had broken his promise to protect Medicaid.

According to a September article from HuffPost political reporter Christina Wilkie, Moore had outlined Trump’s often contradictory economic plans during a “question-and-answer session” at a private July 14 meeting of the conservative Council for National Policy (CNP) in Cleveland, OH. During the event, Moore suggested that Trump planned to pay for his costly economic agenda by removing supposedly onerous public protections imposed by the federal government and enacting “draconian public assistance reforms and cuts in social services.” Since taking office, Trump has proposed a budget and health care agenda that would fulfill those promises. As the article noted, Moore’s zeal for tearing down anti-poverty programs, including Medicaid, seems to undermine Trump’s claim that he would focus on “looking out for the downtrodden.” It also confirms that imposing this harsh agenda — and lying about it — was indeed “central to” the Trump team’s economic plan “all along.”

This also means that Social Security and Medicare are not under trump’s protection.  The Republicans have been wanting to gut those program for years.  They want to privatize Social Security and hand out “vouchers” for Medicare.  They are not interested in saving or protecting either of those programs.  Meaning that trump is not interested in saving or protecting them like he said either.

That is what the trump agenda is all about.  He wants all of the social safety nets eliminated in order to give his rich pals a bigger tax cut.  He wants to lead the Republican sick eugenics program.  Only, Republicans and trump aren’t interested in the normal eugenics program of saving the best genes.  They are only interested in creating a safe rich class.  If that means the “downtrodden” are hurt more and more, so be it.

This goes along with the Republican view that America is supposed to be a haven for the rich.  They don’t care about saving your jobs.  They don’t care about you at all.  They know that they can make their products overseas for a lot less money and benefits than they need to pay out here.  So, if the poor and the middle class are forced to leave the country to find work, that is perfectly fine with them.

See, if you eliminate all those poor working class slobs by sending their jobs overseas, you can live a life of luxury and ignore the problems of “little people” like us.  The Americans Without Health Care is the first step in trump’s plan to get rid of anyone who isn’t rich.  You take away their health care and you eliminate those “problems.  When the workforce declines, you simply start shipping more of the jobs overseas to low-income countries.

Oh, they will make exceptions so there are enough “little people” to man their military and clean their houses or fix their cars.  But other than that, the rest of us should just leave.  How else do you explain cutting the medical care for millions upon millions of people just to give the very rich a huge tax break?

If you believe that trump will keep his promise when it comes to Social Security and Medicare, just remember that Medicare is also being cut in the Americans Without Health Care Act.  Under the ACA the CBO said Medicare’s finances were strengthened.  Under the Americans Without Health Care Act up to a trillion dollars will be cut from Medicare.  Another lie from our beloved leader.

Republicans finally have a puppet in the White House that thinks like they do.  Someone who believes that the Average American isn’t worth helping.  The Average American simply costs too much for corporations to actually hire.  That is why they haven’t done a damn thing to stop the outflow of American Jobs.

Unfortunately, if you believe their nonsense that huge tax cuts for corporations will magically bring back jobs, you are making a huge mistake.  They will get their tax cuts, and they will continue to ship your job overseas.  But, that is the point.  By getting both huge tax cuts and protection to ship out your jobs, their profits will go up and they will get richer.  That is the Republican agenda.  That is trump’s agenda.

I have urged you before, and I continue to urge you to keep up with what is going on behind the smokescreen.  We are getting screwed by Republicans in Congress and by our beloved leader.  We have to raise our voices and make the damage stop.  Otherwise, we won’t have a country anymore.  We will have the United Corporations of America.

That is what Republicans want.  If you don’t pay attention, that is what they will get.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

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Day 179. 

Yesterday Sally Yates and Retired Gen. Clapper, the former head of the DIA testified before Congress.  After it was all over, beloved leader blasted it as “old news”.   But, it wasn’t all old news.  It showed the American People just how little the Republican side of the aisle knows about laws they supported and passed.  It also showed that Republicans have no clue what it takes to get a security clearance, or who is responsible for issuing such clearances.  And, this from a sub-committee on the Senate Intelligence Committee which handles classified material.  To someone who lived in the classified world, that is kind of scary.

We also learned for sure, even though we did know from press reports, that what the trump administration has been saying about the Flynn firing is all lies.  They kept saying that he “was a good guy and the victim of a witch-hunt but let him go because he lied to the Vice President”.  We now for sure that they knew about Flynn lying to the Vice President but kept him in his position for 18 days after they learned that information.

So, what did the Republican side of the questioners want to know?  Who leaked the information to the press.  Not if that information was accurate, but who leaked it.  They also wanted to know why Sally Yates would not defend the Muslim Ban and accused her of taking the law into her own hands.  At times, they even lost track of which version of the travel ban they were talking about.  Ted Cruz acting like a rabid dog holding on to a bone asked about emails which has no bearing on this hearing.  Then he tried to pin down Sally Yates about her decision to not defend the ban, but she held her own and from my chair, put him in his place for not knowing as much about Constitutional Law as he tries to make us believe.

Even when she was hit with that infamous quote from the USC about the president’s authority to ban immigrants, she was able to quote another section that places limits on what the president is able to do when banning immigrants.  Like placing religious tests on the process as unconstitutional.  She was also able to put them down by saying that “you and others asked me if I would stand up to the President if I believed a law was illegal or unconstitutional during my hearing.  I said I would, and I did.”  As you can see, they meant only to “stand up” to a democratic president.  Not their president.

But the biggest lack of knowledge came over the security clearance issue and the so-called “unmasking” process in FISA warrants.  I find the FISA warrant thing troubling because it was people like Lindsey Graham who approved the bill, passed and sent to Bush for his signature to put into law.  How can he not know what unmasking is and who has authority to ask for a name to be unmasked?

The problem of these people to understand the security clearance issuing process is also troubling.  As usual, beloved leader tried to place the blame for Flynn on the Obama administration for Flynn’s security clearance.  Which proves they don’t even know what the process is either.  Which tells me they didn’t vet Flynn properly for his position as National Security Advisor.

Let me explain a little.  When a person is to fill a position that requires a Security clearance, there is a process they must go through depending upon which level of clearance they need.  The process must rely on information that is provided by the applicant.  If the applicant lies or leaves off information, it is possible that the investigators will not find that information out.

Additionally, just because you have appropriate clearances, does not mean you have total access to all material that is in that classification.  For example, if you have a Secret Clearance, you are not granted free access to all material marked secret.  You must still have a “need to know” the information.

As the level of clearance goes up, the process gets more invasive.  Even a full background check is required for some clearances.  However, it is not the administration that grants clearances.  It is professionals who do the work, and in the case of background checks, it is the FBI.  Once the checks are completed it is the responsibility of the agency’s professionals to grant or deny clearances.

Then you have the process for someone who accepts positions at the highest levels of the government, like Flynn did.  It is up to that administration to start the process for an even higher clearance level.  As Gen. Clapper said yesterday, that is one of the most invasive processes around.  When dealing with clearances that require specific information, you cannot simply say, “well he already has a clearance so we don’t need to do it again”.  But, that is what trump and his administration is trying to do.  They are trying to lay blame for their own incompetence about Flynn on someone else.

I am not going to get into the “unmasking” thing because I am not fully aware of the entire process, and I am not going to try to pretend like Republicans on the panel.  However, I do know that “unmasking” is not something that is easy to do.  For example, to my knowledge, you cannot simply say “I want to “unmask” everyone who works for a campaign”.   Each request must be made one by one and there better be a good reason or the agency will refuse to unmask.

In one aspect, beloved leader is correct.  Yesterday’s testimony was pretty much old news.  But, there are still a lot of questions that beloved leader must answer and refuses to even acknowledge exists.  The biggest one is why after Sally Yates told the White House Counsel that the DOJ believed that Flynn had been compromised and possibly subject to blackmail by the Russians did it take beloved leader 18 days to fire him?

Since we now for know for certain that trump and his administration knew this fact, why was he allowed to remain in his position and continue to sit in on highly classified briefings?  Why didn’t the administration at least place him in a bubble until they could redo his clearance status?

A cynical interpretation of this lack of doing anything would be that trump knew ahead of time and didn’t care about the problem.  He didn’t care if Flynn lied to the Vice President, and maybe trump even knew he did at the time.  Maybe Pence also knew that Flynn lied and still lied to the American People.  Which would also mean that Flynn did not lie to the Vice President, they all knew the truth all along.

If that is true, then trump must have ordered Flynn to have his discussions with the Russian Ambassador and tell them not to worry about the new sanctions that President Obama placed on them for the hacking scandal.  But, why would trump do that if he and his campaign team were not cooperating with the Russians in their hacking?

Beloved leader also is claiming that Clapper said there was no evidence of “collusion”.  But that is not what was said.  He said that he was unaware of any evidence.  But, he also said he was unaware that Flynn was under a counter espionage investigation by the FBI as well.

After this hearing, there is far more evidence that this investigation should go further and start to subpena people to testify.  We need to hear from people like Flynn without immunity.  We should also hear from the White House Counsel to find out just what he told trump personally about what he was informed about Flynn, and when he told trump.

Unfortunately, a lot of information that is put forth in these investigations we will never hear about.  They will undoubtedly hold secure hearings because a lot of the information is classified.  But, even still, questions have just gotten longer and need to be asked.

I do applaud Graham for his attempt to be bi-partisan in his hearing yesterday.  I was concerned about his lack of knowledge over the FISA warrants and the so-called “unmasking”, but I will give him a pass on that because it is hard to keep up with everything.

On the other hand, people like Cruz and Grassley were totally out of line because they did not ask a single question about the issue at hand.  They tried to play politics with the security of our country instead of trying to find out what happened in this issue.  Then there was that wonderfully stupid Senator from Louisiana, whose name I cannot remember, who asked if “either of you ever leaked unclassified information to the press”?

I will be as clear about this as possible.  It is impossible to “leak” unclassified information because it is unclassified and open to the public.  Anyone, especially through the Freedom of Information Act, can request to see any unclassified information.  Maybe this particular Senator should learn what his clearance really means and what classified information is all about.  Obviously, he doesn’t know anything about a topic he should know all about.

Something else you should know.  At one point it was asked if someone who violates the classified information thing, if the punishment would be “administrative” and not criminal.  The question was never really answered because the questioner cut them off.  The answer is possibly yes!

It depends upon the information in question, and it depends on how and what motives were involved.  People who handle classified information are just that, people.  Mistakes do happen and not everyone who makes a mistake goes to jail.  That is reserved for those who are deliberately trying to hand over this information to our enemies.

Yesterday we saw two professionals sit in front of a Congressional Hearing and simply gave an answer every question put to them.  They did not use any hyperbole to make their point, they simply gave facts to the panel based on the information they knew.  They were total professionals who did not display any partisanship in their testimony.  They were the type of witnesses we needed to hear from about what they knew and who they told.

I also understand the problems with “leaks”.  However, if the Republicans are really interested in finding out who is doing the leaking, they should hold a separate investigations into that matter.  This investigation is supposed to be about the Russian hacking and who know about it, and who, if anyone, helped them do it.  This investigation is supposed to be about a foreign government actively trying to subvert our elections and sway the outcome to one side or the other.

That is an open attack on our voting process and a direct attack on our country and our democracy.  That is the important issue here.  And, that is what should be investigated by everyone involved.

Beloved leader still has a lot of questions he needs to answer.  He is the one under the microscope because it was his campaign team that has led us to this point.  But as the coward he is, he is hiding behind insulting tweets and trying to deflect blame away from himself.  We are often told how “loyal” he is to his supporters, but he is showing just the opposite.

Why doesn’t beloved leader hold a press conference and answer all questions from the press so we can hear his side of the story?  What is he hiding?  Did he order Flynn to make those phone calls?  Did he know from the start that Pence was lying to the American People?  What did he know and when did he know it?

But, like all cowards, he will hide behind his tweets and let his lackies take the heat for his problems.  That is what we really learned yesterday.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

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Day 163. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

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Day 160. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

 

 

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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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