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Day 30

I don’t usually write about the death of politicians or any other famous people for that matter.  However, John Glenn was someone very special and deserves to be remembered by all of us.

John Glenn left us for the stars at the age of 95.  When I was a kid, I watched him being named as one of the original seven astronauts for our country.  He was the first American to orbit the earth.  It was a three round orbit and lasted four hours and 55 minutes.

When he returned to earth he was called a true American Hero.  During the fight there were a couple of problems.  It was even possible that these problems could have resulted in him burning up in re-entry.  The odd part, and one that really shows just what kind of person he was happened on the launch pad.

While awaiting liftoff, his heartbeat monitor was registering his heart rate between 60 and 80 beats per minute.  Not something you would expect from someone being nervous, but someone being bored.

John Glenn fought in World War II and in the Korean War.  He left college after the Pearl Harbor to join the Navy’s aviation program.  He flew 59 combat missions during World War II and 90 during the Korean War.

John Glenn is best known for his time at NASA.  He is called a hero because he was the first American to orbit the earth.  But, what is being lost is all of this is it was John Glenn that was a key member that saved the Apollo Mission.

When we lost the three astronauts in the Apollo I fire, many people in congress wanted to scrap the mission as being too dangerous. Many people forget that it was John Glenn who testified before congress to explain the dangers involved and the fact that these brave men understood and were willing to face those dangers.

You may not remember, but it was John Glenn who saved our moon mission.  The bad part was that he never got a chance to go to the moon himself.  And, he deserved to go there himself.

When I was stationed in Washington, D.C. I had a chance to meet John Glenn.  Although the meeting was for only about 2 minutes and more of a greeting, I was struck by how he conducted himself.  He was a true gentleman and statesman.

The only regret I have is that I didn’t get an opportunity to talk with him for any length of time.  There were so many questions I wanted to ask him.  I never had a lot of heroes in my life except my dad, but John Glenn was a hero to me.

He and the rest of the Mercury 7 astronauts were heroes to many of us.  They opened our eyes to the real possibilities of the world.  They got us to look up and dream of the possibilities that mankind could reach.  They taught us to look to the stars and explore the universe.

Those of us who grew up in the 50s and 60s were captivated by the space program.  We watched every single launch we could.  Schools would actually bring in television sets during class to watch the lift-offs.  It was something every American was proud of.

When we finally landed on the moon, the entire world stopped everything they were doing and watched.  It was the men like John Glenn who made all of that possible.  To show the real courage of these people, you must also remember the pocket calculator you use every day has more computing power than the computers used to take us to the moon and back.

Glenn never stopped supporting NASA and has worked to keep it on mission to go to Mars.  John Glenn was a remarkable man.  Yet, he never seemed to take on the aura of someone “famous”.  He was a humble man who simply believed in what he was doing and in his country.

Don’t forget, Glenn was recently in Antarctica.  When he got sick, they airlifted him out.  He was 95 years old and willing to do some work in Antarctica.  That is about all you need to know to figure the kind of man he was.

Glenn was the last of the original Mercury seven astronauts.  Governor Kasich said:

As we bow our heads and share our grief with his beloved wife, Annie, we must also turn to the skies, to salute his remarkable journeys and his long years of service to our state and nation.

The White House said in a statement:

John always had the right stuff, inspiring generations of scientists, engineers and astronauts who will take us to Mars and beyond ― not just to visit, but to stay.  The last of America’s first astronauts has left us, but propelled by their example we know that our future here on Earth compels us to keep reaching for the heavens.

NASA called him “A True American Hero”.  They also wrote:  “God speed John Glenn – Ad Astra.”  Ad Astra is Latin for “to the stars”.

Somehow, I get the feeling that if we look at the moon tonight, we will be able to see John Glenn finally getting to walk around there.  His spirit is what led our nation to the stars and will continue to lead us there if we remember him.

I plan to look up tonight.  I am sure I will see him walking around and waving back.  I am not religious, but I want to echo NASA in saying “God speed John Glenn – to the stars”.

 

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Day 26

CANNON BALL, ND - DECEMBER 04: Fireworks fill the night sky above Oceti Sakowin Camp as activists celebrate after learning an easement had been denied for the Dakota Access Pipeline near the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on December 4, 2016 outside Cannon Ball, North Dakota. The US Army Corps of Engineers announced today that it will not grant an easement to the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under a lake on the Sioux Tribes Standing Rock reservation, ending a months-long standoff. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Yesterday the Corps of Engineers denied Energy Transfer Partners their permit to place a pipeline beneath Lake Oahe.  That is a nice temporary victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.  I say temporary because after January 20, 2017 it will be up to President Trump to uphold this decision.  Which is doubtful at best.

I say doubtful because the next President happens to own stock in Energy Transfer Partners.  So, another of his conflicts of interests will rear its ugly head.  And since the CEO of Energy Transfer Partners has said that he is confident Trump will overrule this decision and allow the pipeline to proceed without being rerouted, it would appear the fix is already in.

In a statement on the decision, Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Army’s assistant secretary for civil works, said:

Although we have had continuing discussion and exchanges of new information with Standing Rock Sioux and Dakota Access, it’s clear that there’s more work to do.  The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternative routes for the pipeline crossing.

Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II said of the news:

We wholeheartedly support the decision of the administration and commend with the utmost gratitude the courage it took on the part of President Obama, the Army Corps, the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior to take steps to correct the course of history and to do the right thing.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and all of Indian Country will be forever grateful to the Obama Administration for this historic decision.

National Congress of American Indians President Brian Cladoosby said in an email statement:

My hands go up to all the water protectors who have stood up to protect tribal treaty rights and to protect Mother Earth  Thank you for Standing For Standing Rock.

Of course Trump and his fellow Republicans don’t like the ruling.  Trump even in another of his tweets after the ruling said “I look forward to ending this anti-energy presidency”.

Somebody should remind Trump that when President Obama took office we had gas prices at $4.00 per gallon.  Today it is around $2.00 per gallon.  Half of what it was in 2009.

Also, our oil reserves are higher than they have been in decades.  Plus, we have more home-grown oil production than we have in decades and we rely less and less on foreign oil.  I would like for someone to explain to me how this all explains this “anti-energy presidency” Trump is talking about.  It sounds more like an energy friendly presidency.

Trump, Republicans, and oil companies are calling the ruling illegal.  They claim the ruling is not following the rule of law.  There is a procedure to follow when deciding on these issues.  When all of the facts are not in when a ruling is given, the ruling can change according to new information.  The protests showed that the people most being affected by the pipeline was never heard.  As a result, a new hearing and ruling were both legal and necessary.

I fully expect Trump to do everything he can to make sure this ruling gets cancelled somehow.  Plus, he is already looking at how to privatize the reservations.  He isn’t going to try to privatize the reservations for the sake of the tribes who live on them, he wants to privatize them so oil and gas companies can get permission to drill for oil and gas on the land without having to go through the full permitting processes that are needed on government property.

The closer we get to inauguration day the more we see that Trump is going to set up a country where corporations have more voice in how things run day-to-day than the people.  Everything he is doing so far is in favor of corporations and against the will of the people.

Even his threat to impose a 35 percent tariff on goods shipped in by U.S. companies that make the products overseas is just bluster.  Do you really think that he will allow a 35 percent tariff on his own products?  All of his products and all of the products sold by his children and wife are all made overseas.  Which means they should be part of any 35 percent tariff.  Yeah right.

The Standing Rock Sioux received an early Christmas present by the Corps of Engineers to protect their drinking water.  Unfortunately, that Christmas present may be revoked in 45 days.  The problem with pipelines isn’t whether or not they are the safest way to ship oil.  Nor is it that they continuously leak.  The problem is that at some point they do leak.  The only question is when and how much?

When that leak contaminates drinking water, it will take years before it will be safe to drink again.  Water is life.  Water is sacred.  We need to stop projects that will pollute our water.

This ruling is a step in the right direction.  But we cannot trust Trump to do or maintain what is right.  He is known for doing and maintaining what is best for his profits over everything and everyone else.

Trump recently tweeted that America Is Open For Business.  He should have said America Is For Sale To The Highest Bidder.  The one redeeming fact is that if he does reverse this ruling, the Standing Rock Sioux will be back to fight him.  We all need to be ready to fight him.  Our country is not and never should be for sale.

 

 

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Day 23

I am happy to see that about 1000 workers at Carrier in Indianapolis are going to keep their jobs.  I am wondering though if this deal is the start of corporations blackmailing the governments of every state in the country.

On the plus side, Carrier agreed to keep 1069 jobs in its Indianapolis plant.  They also agreed to spend up to 16 million dollars in improvements at the plant.  In return, the State of Indiana promised them 7 million dollars in tax incentives.

According to Trump and Pence the job is done.  They stopped Carrier from moving jobs overseas.  Only, they only stopped about half of the jobs that were announced to move to Mexico.  The other half are still going to Mexico.

There are about 400 workers at the Indianapolis plant who will lose their jobs despite the deal.  Additionally, Carrier has another plant in Huntington, IN and still plans to shut down that plant costing another 700 jobs.  So, in essence Trump and Pence saved half of the workforce.  That is good.

The bad is there are no provisions that were announced that would penalize Carrier if they decided a year or two from now to shut down that Indianapolis plant.  That type of thing has happened all across the country.  Just Governor Walker in Wisconsin.

States have a history of giving “incentives” to corporations to increase or save jobs only to have those jobs lost anyway without recouping any of the “incentives” they handed out.

There is a reason these incentives rarely work.  Money.  That money is in the savings a company gets from making products in countries like Mexico.  The politicians will tell you it is because of our corporate tax structure, and that may contribute to it, but it is wages that make the difference.

Let me give you and example.  When Carrier makes one of their furnaces in Indianapolis the average wage is 20-25 dollars per hour.  In Mexico they can get away with paying 3 dollars per hour.  That fact was reported on by an Indianapolis reporter who went to Mexico the check on the factory and workforce.

The numbers I am going to use are just examples, please do not go around saying they are facts.  If it takes 20 man-hours to put together one furnace at the low-end of the average wage that means Carrier would pay out 400 dollars for that assembly.

If Carrier makes 10,000 units they would have a cost of 400,000 dollars in labor.  If Carrier makes those same units in Mexico, they would pay 60 dollars per unit and a total of 60,000 dollars.  As you can see they would save 340,000 dollars in manpower costs.  If they sold one million units that results in about 3.4 million dollars.

And those numbers do not include any retirement benefits or health care coverage which they won’t have to pay in Mexico.  Since Carrier is a billion dollar industry, the savings would be much higher than my example above.

So, why should they keep their end of the bargain for the full ten years if there are no consequences attached to the deal?  If they follow other companies’ examples, they won’t.

And, Trump knows this.  That is why all of his products are made in 12 countries and none of them made in the U.S.  During the campaign he explained this by saying “I can’t make my products in the U.S.”  He is right.  He can’t make them at 3 dollars per hour in the U.S.  Maybe that is why the 35 percent tax on products made overseas went away in this “deal”.

Speaking of consequences, Donald Trump seems to have gone back on his promise on the campaign trail.  He said at a rally in Pennsylvania:

I’ve watched as politicians talked about stopping companies from leaving our states.  ‘Here’s a tax abatement of any kind you want. We’ll help your employees.’ It doesn’t work, folks. That’s not what they need. They have money. They want to go out, they want to move to another country, and because our politicians are so dumb, they want to sell their product to us and not have any retribution, not have any consequence.”

He even said that if Carrier pulled its plant form Indianapolis they would be charged a 35 percent tax when they try to sell it back in the U.S.  They would pay “consequences” and not get any incentives.

Now that he is the President-elect he seems to have had a need to show us how it works.  He stepped up and showed us what “consequences” really means.  Only, it doesn’t work the way he said it would.  He used the same “dumb politicians” tactics to keep Carrier at that one plant.  The other plant in Indiana?  Gone!

The jury is still out on this deal.  Some are calling it very troubling because it could possibly open the door to corporate blackmail against states.  All a company needs to do is say they are leaving and politicians will fall all over themselves to hand out incentives.

Conservatives are wetting themselves all across the country because Trump “saved” 1000 jobs.  Yet, when the President saved 3 million automotive and automotive related jobs during the Great Recession they complained that he was just handing out incentives.

Then there is the little tidbit that not many are talking about in this deal.  Carrier is owned by United Technologies.  United Technologies has billions of dollars in government contracts mostly with the DOD.  Was this a quid quo pro for United Technologies to keep their contracts by handing out bread crumbs to Trump?

We also need to ask if Trump threatened United Technologies with those contracts if they didn’t “step up” on the Carrier deal?  If that happened, that is a very serious problem for both the government and private companies.  Remember, Pence walked from a similar deal with Carrier back in 2014.  So, this isn’t breaking any new ground on the incentive front.

As usual, Trump has kept the terms of this “deal” secret.  We have only got what we have from Carrier and not Trump or Pence.  So, we don’t know what happened behind those phone calls.  That is the biggest problem in this deal.

Yes, the Carrier deal saved 1000 jobs and that is good news.  The problem is Carrier is still shipping out 1100 jobs to Mexico from Indiana.  Also, there is another company, I cannot recall the name, that is about 1 mile from the Carrier plant that is also closing and shipping 1000 jobs to Mexico.

So it would be fair if those 2100 workers asked Trump and especially their current Governor Pence “what about us?”  As Trump continues his “victory tour” this week we will be hearing all about this wonderful thing he did.  But, we won’t hear about those other workers he has turned his back on.

As I said, I am very happy that these 1000 workers’ jobs were saved by the State of Indiana.  But, we are in another wait and see moment.  Is this deal going to be good for the American workers or is it going to place our states and federal governments up to corporate blackmail?  Only time will tell.

 

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Day 20

(Before we get to todays comments, let me explain the day 20 above.  One of the biggest memes of Trump’s campaign was he would “bring back American jobs”.  As you know, Donald Trump and his family have several products that they sell in the U.S.  These includes things like suits, shirts, ties, accessories, shoes, women’s clothes, and jewelry.

Since Donald Trump is now the President-elect, it is his responsibility to lead our nation.  Anyone who has been in a position of leadership knows the best form of leading is from example.

Since Trump and his family want to “bring back American jobs” and since the simple fact is that none of their products are made in America, I have been waiting for him to announce the change from the 12 countries where his products are made to bring them back to America.

It has now been 20 days since he woke up as the President-elect.  I will continue the count until he announces that his manufacturing jobs will be returned to the U.S.  Once he does that, I will restart the count until the jobs actually begin.  If you expect to make promises to the American worker, start at home with your own products.)

Since Donald Trump began announcing his cabinet and administration picks, he has shown beyond reasonable doubt that he intends to dismantle our democratic country.  I am not sure if he is trying to move quick so there won’t be a campaign in 2020 or if he is toying with that idea still.

I am not kidding about this either.  He is naming people who have been so un-American, in my opinion, that there can be no other reason for their appointments.  Plus, he is proving he is the liar that we all know he is.

During the campaign, he said Hillary Clinton should be in jail.  His reason was because of her private email server.  He, and conservatives in general, claimed it was illegal, which it was not.  They also claimed that she “compromised classified” information because it might have been on the server, and it might be subjected to a hack.

All investigations, including that by the FBI said there were no laws broken and therefore no criminal charges could be brought.  That did not quiet the critics who claimed that it was all a “cover up”.

Now, to prove just how much he meant his railings against Clinton, he has named on person to his intelligence team and is considering another person to be Secretary of State or head of the DIA or some other intelligence position who have compromised classified information.

The first, Mike Flynn was severely reprimanded for handing over classified information to NATO partners without permission from higher authority.  The matter was investigated by DOD and he was considered to have mishandled classified information, thus the reprimand.

The Second Gen. Petraeus who is currently on a two-year probation for mishandling classified information.  That was the result of a plea deal.  His crime was even worse than Flynn’s.  He actually gave some very sensitive information to his biographer, with whom he was also having an affair, then he lied about it.  The FBI discovered this highly classified information in a desk drawer in his house.

Now Trump wants these two men, who have actually been proven to not handle classified information properly to be put into positions that need to handle very sensitive classified information.

He named Jeff Sessions to be his Attorney General.  Jeff Sessions is an open racist.  He said the KKK is okay, except he doesn’t like some of them smoking pot after their meetings.  He has voted against things like the Violence Against Women’s Act, every Civil Rights bill brought to the Senate floor, wants a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, fought against equality rights for disabled children to attend public schools, and a host of other things.

Trump now wants him to “enforce” the very things he hates.  There are effectively two ways to kill civil rights in this country.  First is to pass legislation that repeals those rights, and the second is to simply not enforce their provisions.  Trump appears to be using the second option.

It is the responsibility of the Department of Justice to enforce all of the laws of this country.  However, with Session’s record against human decency, we can be pretty sure he won’t enforce those laws he personally doesn’t like.  Do you really believe he will enforce what is left of the Voting Rights Bill?

Additionally, Sessions is very anti-immigration.  You can bet the first order will be to “round up” all of the so-called “illegals” in the country.  If you were wondering where Trump’s deportation force would come from, you now have your answer.

Sessions is also in favor of banning Muslims from immigrating to our country.  He favors a registry for all Muslims already here.  He is in favor of “monitoring” Mosques to make sure they aren’t “radicalizing” anyone.

Yesterday, it was announced that Rep. Tom Price will head up the Department of Health and Human services.  Remember those 50 bills in the House of Representatives to repeal the Affordable Care Act? He wrote every single one of them.

His “replacement” plan known as the Empowering Patients First Act is nothing more than an Empowering Insurers First Act.  His “plan” would gut Obamacare’s regulation of insurance plans, reduce the total financial assistance going to people buying private coverage and rescind entirely the law’s expansion of Medicaid for the poorest Americans.

Insurers could resume some of the practices that Obamacare now prohibits ― like selling bare-bones plans and, in some cases, denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. Price’s proposal would offer people tax credits, but there’d be no guarantee the credits could actually pay for comprehensive coverage.

He also believes that homosexuality is some kind of abnormality.  As such, they should bed shunned and not allowed into “polite” society.  He favors the amendment to ban same-sex marriage and considers homosexuals to have “pre-existing” conditions which could cut them off of insurance under his plan.

He also expressed his belief that same-sex partners should not be allowed to help make medical decisions on behalf of their sick partner.  Nor does he favor same-sex partners having the same visitation rights as any other partner might have.

Furthermore, Price believes that Medicare should be privatized and Medicaid should be abolished.  Under his replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act, it is estimated that at least 20 million people will lose their health care coverage.  Of course, Trump promised not to change Medicare or Medicaid during the campaign.  So much for campaign promises.

Both Sessions and Price argue that children born to non-citizens should not have “citizenship birthright”.  Meaning if a non-citizen gives birth in this country, that child would not automatically become a citizen as the constitution says they would.

Then, yesterday, Trump announced that he believes that anyone who “burns the American flag” should go to jail and lose their citizenship.  I know that a lot of people don’t like the idea of burning the flag in protest.  But, it is a protected First Amendment right of Free Speech as ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Of course to conservatives, the right of Free Speech only applies if they agree with what is said or done.  The fact that a dissenter could have those same rights is unthinkable to them.  They consider shouting at two Asian women in a diner and calling them names and telling them they should “go back to Tokyo” is free speech, but burning the flag in dissent is not free speech.

I served 20 years to defend our freedoms and the constitution.  I may not like seeing the flag being burned, but I refuse to “criminalize” the act.  Are we also going to make burning the President in Effigy a crime too?  Or maybe all of those Obama stunts like showing up a football game wearing an Obama mask with a noose around your neck?  Maybe that should be a crime too.  Or, all of those “funny” emails about the President we have had to put up with for eight years.

Sorry conservatives, you don’t have the right to pick and choose what rights people are allowed to have and which ones they are not allowed to have.  That is not in our constitution which you claim to love so much.

We haven’t even gotten into all of the conflicts of interest that Trump will face as President.  For example, did you know that the lease for his new hotel in the old Post Office building in Washington has a clause that says no one associated with the hotel can serve in public office?  Once Trump takes the oath, he will be in violation of that lease.

We are going to lose our freedoms under a Trump presidency.  The only question is how quickly will it all happen.  Will it be a gradual chipping or a quick repeal of those rights.  In either case, we all lose.

Trump does not have the mandate he thinks he has.  Yes, he wont the Electoral College, but he lost the popular vote by over 2 million ballots.  So, he is basically a minority government, not one with a mandate.

Yet, we are going to see our civil liberties eroded and we will find ourselves back in the 1800s with basically no rights except the right to rent our homes from the company who hired us and to purchase our supplies at their stores.  We will have the right to become poorer and more at the mercy of the one percenters.

If he goes ahead with his plans to abolish OSHA and the EPA we will have no workplace safety rules and no protection for our water and air.  We will have no right to unionizing and fair bargaining rights.  No, we will all live in those good ole days when the company runs our lives and throws us out of our homes if we become less “productive” or too old for their bottom lines, even if it kills us.  There won’t even be any unemployment insurance for us to fall back on until we can find another job.

This is how you dismantle a democratic country.

 

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This weekend we have seen just how badly the mainstream media want to make Trump seem “normal”.  That may sound odd to you, but I think it is the truth.  Not only do they seem to really want to normalize Trump, they want to do it on his terms.

On Friday Jill Stein officially asked for a recount in Wisconsin.  Naturally, Trump took to twitter to downplay the recount and called it a “scam”.  That is the problem.  Instead of talking to Stein and asking why she is asking for a recount, the mainstream media went off on the tweets.

Later over the weekend, Trump claimed that he would have won the popular election if there hadn’t been 3 million illegal immigrants who voted.  Naturally, he did not offer any proof for his claim.  Actually, his claim is based on a story written by Alex Jones of InfoWars.  A conspiracy nut that never tries to prove his points, just makes false accusations and call it “news”.

There are a lot of stories that could be covered that are much more relevant.  Like the infighting about Mitt Romney possibly becoming the Secretary of State.  Or the offer of the Secretary of HUD being offered to Ben Carson who as recently as last year called fair housing rules “communist”.  A very nice choice for someone who is going to head up the agency responsible to ensure fair housing practices.

Or, we could be talking more about Mike Flynn, or his choice for Secretary of Education, who thinks public schools should be closed down in favor of privatizing the education system.  Or his nomination for the head of the CIA who loves torture as an interrogation technique.

Or, there could be more stories about his nomination for Attorney General who has voted against every single civil rights bill that came before the Senate.  Or, that he voted against the Violence Against Women act.  Or the idea that he considers “hate speech” as protected by the constitution, but protesting against say an oil pipeline is more terroristic.

Or, even more troubling to me the idea that Kellyanne Conway says that Trump is “getting intelligence” reports from many sources.  This given as an excuse that Trump has not accepted daily intelligence briefings from the professionals.  So, where are all these “intelligence briefings” coming from?  And, are they even legal?

Or, can someone explain the “coincidence” of the very fact that three days after Trump speaks with the President of Argentina he suddenly gets the “permits’ he needs to build his building there?  Right after the call, Argentine press reported that he brought up the permits with their president.  Both sides said that wasn’t true.  Then three days later, there they are!

But, no, the mainstream media want to rant and rave about a lunatics tweets.  They have yet to figure out that every time that Trump is being cornered with his bad decisions, he goes on another twitter rant.

Trump uses his twitter account simply to distract the media from reporting on just how poorly he is selecting his cabinet.  He uses it to distract the media from reporting that Trump and his team are like rattlesnakes hissing at each other.  He uses it to distract the media from reporting that Trump’s team, including Trump himself, are basically incompetent.

Trump’s use of twitter is not an accident.  He successfully distracted the media all during the primaries and the general election.  The fact that the media was so quick to base all of their reporting on those tweets, helped him win in the end.

Instead of hammering him for his lack of policies and his lack of integrity they went after him for his tweets.  That gave him more ammunition to go after the media at his rallies.  The funny thing, or rather the sick thing, about those attacks on the media was that they were aimed specifically at the reporters who were not reporting on his tweets but on his poor policies.  They tried to hold his feet to the fire and make him answer questions.  Which he never did.

So, why didn’t the media point out that Trump refused to answer reasonable questions?  Why didn’t they report the fact that he changed his policy in mid-sentence?  Because they believed that some stupid tweet from a stupid person would unravel himself.

They never realized it was all a trick aimed at their own stupidity.  Now as we agonizingly go through the transition to a Trump Presidency, they have fallen for the same trick.  Instead of showing just how bad things will be under his administration due to his picks, they are once again running around writing about his dumb tweets.

Also, every time they spend time writing on his tweets, they are placing attention where it doesn’t belong.  They are actually making his meaningless tweets mean something.  In the meantime, Trump goes about his business to ruin our country.

Therefore, if I were in charge of a newsroom, I would place a ban on reporting on anything that Trump tweets for at least the next two months.  I would demand that my reporters vetted each of the nominations he has made so far, and on anyone he nominates in the future.

The number one tool of authoritarian dictators to gain power is distraction.  Hitler used it.  Mussolini used it.  Stalin used it.  Hussein used it.  And, every other dictator in history used it.

If the media does not wake up soon, they will help Trump distract the American people just long enough for him to put his authoritarian plan into practice.  Sorry, but I still believe that is his intention.  Until he proves me wrong, I will continue to believe it.  So far, his picks for his cabinet are indications that I am correct.

If I were you, I would ignore those stupid tweets from a very devious man.  I would concentrate on his cabinet choices and his plans for our future.  Besides, if the media would ignore his tweets, you would see a complete unraveling of our President-elect.  Nothing drives him more insane than being ignored.

So, ignore his tweets and watch the meltdown begin.

 

 

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There is one thing for certain.  Donald Trump will do nothing about any crisis that does not affect the richest people in the country.  He has promised to “drain the swamp” but his appointments so far are only making the swamp deeper.

The Republican Party led by Paul Ryan are licking their chops about “saving money” at the expense of the poor and the elderly.  That is something that Ryan has wanted ever since he was first elected.

We can see this on full display right now in a poor mostly African-American city called Flint, MI.  At least 2 and a half years ago the Republican controlled state poisoned the people of Flint with their own drinking water.  They took over a year of complaints by residents before they even acknowledged there might be a problem.

Since they finally admitted to the lead poisoning, they have done very little to help the people of Flint.  At least one-third of residents do not have water filters for their houses.  It is said that if you have a filter, the water is safe to drink.

About the only thing the state has done so far in this crisis is increase the profits of filter makers.  The lead pipes are still in the ground and the people of flint are looking at years of more problems.

A court ordered the state to immediately start door-to-door delivery of four cases of bottled water to residents who need it.  Currently the state has some pick up areas around town for people to go to.  But, everyone can’t to them.

As a result, it would seem that the court made a reasonable order.  After all, the state caused the problem in the first place and it should be their responsibility to fix the problem.

As you can imagine, the State of Michigan under Governor Snyder doesn’t agree with the court order.  The State is asking for a stay of the order until it has the time to appeal the order.

The herculean effort required by the court order would be on the magnitude of a large-scale military operation,” Anna Heaton, spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Snyder (R), wrote in a statement. “The resources to accomplish this would only be available through the activation of the National Guard or the hiring of several logistics companies.”

The State claims it would cost $10.6 million per month to obey the court order.  In other words in typical Republican fashion they are complaining that it will “cost too much”.

Pastor Allen Overton with the Concerned Pastors for Social Action said:  It’s sad that the State of Michigan continues to disenfranchise the community of Flint.  What happened to Governor Snyder’s pledge that he would work to fix Flint’s drinking water crisis?  This action today inflicts more harm on a city that’s already hurting”.

Here is the real question for Gov. Snyder.  Why haven’t the lead-lined pipes in Flint been replaced?  Why are they still pumping water to residents?  Why should people have to have filters just so they don’t poison their children and themselves?

I know that it takes time and money to replace all of the pipes that is at the heart of this crisis.  But, there seems to be very little going on to replace those pipes and winter is coming on fast and it is difficult to replace pipes in winter with frozen ground.

But then replacing all of the water lines in the city costs a bunch of money.  Something that Republicans are loath to do.  They can’t give their hefty tax breaks to the rich if they actually spend money on the “little people”.

The State of Michigan caused this crisis, not the people of Flint.  The State of Michigan gave the order not to include anti-corrosive chemicals to the water to prevent lead leaching into the drinking water.  The State of Michigan was the one who said there was no problem for over a year after they caused it.

It should be the State of Michigan who pays to replace all of the pipes in Flint because it was their fault the problem happened.  First they took away control of the democratically elected government in the name of saving money,  Then they changed the water source in the name of saving money.  Then they refused to allow the chemicals to be added in the name of saving money.

Then they refused to use any of their “emergency” funds to help the people of Flint replace their pipes in the name of saving money.  Now they are arguing that actually doing something decent like delivering water to residents who need it is too much to ask in the name of saving money.

One other thing to remember.  It was Ted Cruz and Mike Lee in the Senate that held up federal relief money in the name of saving money.  Unfortunately, the State of Michigan is the window into the Republican’s soul.  Allowing poor people and the elderly suffer is just fine with them if it will “save money”.

To prove this point, Donald Trump said during the campaign that he would not touch Social Security or Medicare.  So, what are the two biggest and most wanted bills Ryan wants to get passed?  Privatizing both Social Security and Medicare.  What did Donald Trump say about this?  Well, Medicare should probably be “modernized” which is Republican code wording for privatizing it.

In the next few years we are going to hear a lot about “saving money” and the other favorite phrase of Republicans “it costs too much”.  However, you won’t heat those terms unless they are directed a social programs designed to help the poor and elderly.

When you hear Republicans and Trump talk about tax cuts for billionaires and corporations that will add trillions to the national debt, you won’t hear that it “costs too much”.

When Republicans and Trump propose raising the Defense Budget by hundreds of billions of dollars you won’t hear anything about “saving money”.
When Trump get Congress to pay for his stupid wall, you won’t hear “it costs too much”.

But when Republicans help Trump break his promise about social Security and Medicare and privatize them both you will hear about how we need to “save money”.  When you hear Republicans and Trump talk about gutting Medicaid you will that the program “costs too much”.

When you start hearing all about these topics, just think back to Flint Michigan and the water poisoning that took place under Republican plans to “save money”.  So far the only people who have come out on top are people who make water filters.  The people are still waiting for the State to fix the problem permanently.

Sorry to say this, but according to today’s current crop of Republican politicians, “we the people” can suffer and die in the name of “saving money” just so long as the rich keep getting richer.  Flint Michigan is truly the window on the Republican’s soul.  And, that window is very dark indeed.

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It is called the Dakota Access Pipeline.  It is to run from North Dakota all the way to Illinois.  The pipeline is intended to transport Bakken Oil from fracking to refineries.

As we already know, shale oil is probably the dirtiest oil we can burn.  It produces more greenhouse gases than normal oil.  It will help speed up climate change which is already happening and threatening our planet.

Ground zero in the fight to stop the pipeline is at Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota.  There the Native American people have been protesting for months trying to stop it from going under rivers and destroying sacred burial ground.

But, they are not fighting it alone.  In Iowa and other states, many people have been arrested trying to stop it also.  These people are using the misuse of eminent domain for private companies as a reason for stopping the pipeline.

The company was allowed to use eminent domain to confiscate private property to make room for the pipeline.  Yes, they had to pay for the land, but the owners were not allowed to refuse the purchase which means it was basically stolen from them.

It is at Standing Rock that things are really ugly.  The area where the protests are being held is basically ruled by a Sheriff who apparently thinks he is the North Dakota version of Bull Conner in Mississippi during the civil rights movement.

At one point early in the protest, he allowed a private security force to use attack dogs against the protesters.  Several people were bitten by these dogs including children.  Does that remind you of anything?

The police at Standing Rock are dressed in riot gear and have been using mace, pepper spray, and rubber bullets to break up the protests.  In one incident, a young boy was shot in the back by a rubber bullet at point blank range while he was talking to a police officer.  He was coughing up blood and needed to be rushed to the hospital.

In another incident, a reporter was interviewing a protester when she was shot in the back by a rubber bullet also.  It turns out that bullet was actually fired not from a gun but a grenade launcher.  Something that is not supposed to be used in peaceful protests.

When the pipeline’s route was originally designed, it went through Bismark.  The white people there put up a stink because they felt it would hurt property values in the area.  So it was moved.  It was moved to include the reservation and land that was ceded to the tribe in 1851 by treaty.

There is a corridor that the company is not allowed to dig on just yet.  It is a corridor that is controlled by the federal government and the Corps of Engineers.  They are currently reviewing the route to see if there is a better one that won’t endanger water.

The protesters call themselves “Water Protectors”.  They are interested in saving their water from contamination from a leak in the pipeline. The company says that the pipeline is “safe”.  But is it?

In the last two decades there have been more than 2,000 major leaks.  Since 2009 the number of leaks has shot up over 60 percent.  The real problem isn’t from chance malfunctions either.  Rather they are caused by decades long neglect.  It could be considered as criminal neglect.

The other problem is that there is no federal government agency responsible for oil leaks, except on waterways under the auspices of the U.S. Coast Guard.  There have been hundreds of unreported leaks in North Dakota alone.

Looking at just our recent history, one can see many examples of watersheds that were devastated by oil and gas negligence. The Yellowstone River spill, The Kalamazoo River spill, which several years after their spill, and millions of dollars later, still hasn’t reached any significant state of cleanup.

But, back on the river that is the major front line in this battle, about 40 young people are standing in the water praying and protesting.  They are standing in frigid November water to make their point.  On the banks are up to 100 police in riot gear readying another volley of pepper spray to fire at them.

The situation is really out of hand there.  Wes “Mekasi” Horinek, an activist with the water rights group Bold Alliance was arrested during a camp raid by local police. He described the atrocities he’s witnessed: “peaceful protesters were hooded, put in stress positions, strip-searched. We were placed in dog kennels with numbers written on our arms for hours. Elders were kept in cages in the basement of the police station for days.”

There are even reports that reporters are being targeted by the police.  They seem to think that if reporters are targeted, they will leave out of fear for their safety and no one will hear about the atrocities going on there.

The water these brave native-Americans are trying to protect do not just serve them and their reservation.  It serves about 71 million Americans.  The river they are fighting to keep the pipeline from going under feeds directly into the Missouri River.  That watershed serves millions of people.

I believe that this battle is a microcosm of America today.  We have normal people fighting against another greedy corporation who doesn’t care about their water or their lives.  It is also an example of how white America treats minorities when it comes to such matters as well.

I also believe it is a microcosm of what America will become under a Trump administration.  This case isn’t about civil rights either.  It is about treaties.  The land in question was ceded to the tribe by treaty in 1851.  But, now that corporate America needs the land, they feel free to just take it and use it for their own purposes.

What does that tell the world about our promises to keep our treaties with them?  What does that say about us abiding by our “word”.

Manifest Destiny ignited a genocidal war against Native-Americans in the 19th century.  Our forefathers did everything they could to wipe out the Native peoples in order to “take their land”.

What is happening at Standing Rock is just an extension of that genocidal war.  It is telling the Native Americans they still have no standing when it comes to their rights and their treaties if they interfere with the white man’s greed.

It also tell the rest of us that we don’t matter either.  It tells us the only thing that matters is corporate money and profits.  If the Corps of Engineers don’t come up with a new route and force the company away from the reservation before President Obama leaves office, it will never happen under Trump.

Water is the most important thing we need to survive.  Life cannot exist without water.  That means we need clean water not oil polluted oil.  The people of the Standing Rock reservation is showing us what true courage is.  They are showing us that we must stand up for what is right.

They are risking serious injury, their freedom, and even their lives to protect the water and their sacred grounds.  We can do nothing but support them the best ways we can.

I urge everyone to write to your congressman and the President in support of the tribes at Standing Rock.  We must begin to protect our water, our lives and our planet.  If you think Trump and the Republicans will do it, you are wrong.  They even want to eliminate the EPA from the government agencies.  That should tell you all you need to know about their intentions to “protect our environment”.

In the meantime, the tribe at Standing Rock will continue their protests.  Things are not going to get better anytime soon.  As one writer put it, “this is state sponsored violence at its best.”  It reminds me when Richard J. Daily shouted during the 1968 Democratic convention that “the police are not their to incite a riot, they are there to preserve the riot.”

North Dakota’s Bull Conner is doing a great job of preserving the violence.

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