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Archive for the ‘Things That Suck’ Category

The Democratic National Convention is finally over and the election really begins.  There are about 101 days until the election on November 8.  Quite frankly, there is a huge difference between the two candidates.  Both in the views they have of our country today, and how they plan to move it forward.

If anyone thinks this is going to be an easy election, you better think again.  I am very willing to “discuss” differences with our opponents, but I don’t always release comments or bother with a reply if they are filled with vulgar threats and name calling.  And, I get quite a few of them. Which tells me that this is going to be a very nasty election.

As I have said, I am a registered Independent.  I have cast votes for moderate or left leaning candidates from both parties.  I would even like to say there are a few Republicans that I could support this election, but they have all seemed to have left the building.  In the case of the Republic National Convention, that was quite literal since many major players didn’t even show up.

I say all of this because today’s Republican Party has been hijacked by bigots, haters, and liars.  They have nothing to offer our country.  They offer no plans.  They offer no vision.  They offer only fear, hate, and divisiveness.  Those are not the ideals that this country was founded on.

More than once I have asked “where have all the Republicans gone?”  Last week, we discovered they all needed haircuts or went fly-fishing.  We have always had opposing views.  We have always had deep discussions about policies.  But, we have never seen such hate in my lifetime since the 1960s and the Civil Rights movement.

And, if you remember those days as vividly as I do, you will also remember that it was mostly Democrats, namely the “Dixiecrats” on the side of hate.  It was Republicans who were fighting for desegregation.  Those roles have done a complete 180.  And, with the advent of Donald Trump, the white supremacists feel safe enough again to crawl out from their sewers and become “mainstream” again.

Today, we constantly hear about Benghazi and “missing emails” from Republicans.  If the Democrats had such hate in their hearts for their opponent in the 1980s, we would have heard about the “murderous” Ronald Reagan and chants of “lock him up” about him too.

Ronald Reagan was president when 250 Marines were killed with a truck bomb that exploded at their barracks in Beirut.  The Democrats did not call for his head because he “allowed” those 250 Marines to die.  Instead, there were discussions surrounding the incident and what happened and how to fix the problem.

It was also Ronald Reagan and his administration that violated the law and sold weapons to the one country that Republicans hate so much today.  The Reagan administration violated the law against selling weapons to Iran.  But they did anyway so they could fund their “war” in Nicaragua.  Some members of his administration were convicted of this scandal and today the crazies in the Republican Party call them “heroes”.  They aren’t “heroes” they are “criminals”!

Furthermore, when Ronald Reagan was President and a recession hit, we were told by his “economists” that a steady growth rate of about 2% was what we needed to sustain a continued growth.  Over the last seven years that is about what we have seen as an average of growth in our economy since the Great Recession of 2008.

Only today, those same Republican “economists” say that is not enough.  They say that we should be growing faster.  They use those figures as “proof” that our economy is in a shambles.  They use those numbers to “prove” we need more tax cuts for the wealthy.  Reagan slashed taxes, then realized the arithmetic didn’t add up and he raised them to stop the bleeding he let loose.

I have not brought this up to defend anyone or to blame anyone.  I am stating facts to illustrate the different ways Democrats and Republicans handle issues when the “other” side was in power when they occurred.  The differences are stark.

At the RNC last week we heard a very dark and grim view of America today.  This week at the DNC we heard a different version of America today.   I believe that the reality is somewhere in between.  Depending on where you sit today, you are either gaining benefits from the economy, or you are still suffering.

If you are one of those still suffering, you are angry because you believe you have been left behind.  If you are benefitting, you may still be angry because you haven’t seen a decent pay raise for years.  I share your anger.  I understand your suffering.

I grew up on the South Side of Chicago in the manufacturing hub of the city.  Our little neighborhood was surrounded by steel mills, Pittsburgh Paint, Inland Coke company, and many more plants.  As I grew up, I also witnessed the closing of these plants.  I witnessed the devastation that their closings wreaked on the neighborhood and my neighbors.

And, we were not alone.  These closings swept across the Midwest like a plague.  Millions of hard-working people lost their good paying jobs.  Local economies were shattered.  Instead of spending capital to upgrade the existing plants, owners spent that capital to build new factories overseas where labor was cheaper.  And, got tax breaks for it.   Then they blamed the workers for their closings.  Imagine that.  Shows how much things have changed so little over the years.

So I do understand the anger.  I do understand the feelings of frustration.  I do understand the painful cries of “what about me?”  I have seen it and witnessed it.  My family was fortunate because my father did not work at a steel mill.  He owned his own small auto repair shop.

But, that was no easy thing either.  His business boomed between April and the first snow fall.  After that first snow fall, business fell off.  People only cared about their car starting on cold winter days and not anything else about them.  My dad worked about 12 hour days during the busy times.  As a result, we were not as affected as our neighbors.

This year we have a choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  We have a choice between two platforms of both parties that are so different they can be called polar opposites.  We must decide on which of these we want to run our country.

The Democrats this week laid out their plans for our future.  They told the American people how they planned to put Americans back to work.  They showed us what we can expect from them.  Throughout the four days, we were given ideas and policies.

Last week the Republicans failed to tell us anything.  They failed to let us know how they planned to put Americans back to work.  They failed to show us what we can expect from them.  They failed to tell us what they believed in.

Last week we heard a lot of talk about whom to blame.  We heard a lot of talk about whom to fear.  We heard a lot of talk about our lives being miserable from top to bottom.  We heard a lot of talk about separatism.  We heard a lot of talk about nativism.  And, we heard a lot of “believe me”.

We have been told, especially by Republicans who are trying their best to distance themselves from Trump, this is a binary election and must choose between two evils in the candidates.  I do not subscribe to that theory.  This election is between two people and two parties who have very diametric views of who we are and where we should go in the future.  The real binary choice is between the platforms and their ideas, or lack thereof.

The Republican platform wants to take us backwards in time to those “good ole days”.  I am just not so sure how far back we need to go to reach their definition of the “good ole days”.  I suspect they are talking about the turn of the century.  And I am referring to the turn of the 20th century from the 19th century.

In those days, the rich kept getting richer and the poor kept getting poorer.  Mining and other companies didn’t just own the mines and factories, they owned the town you lived in and the store you had to buy everything from.  In essence the “owned your soul”.

Is that where the Republicans want to go?  Their policies have just about made that happen already.  The rich are still getting richer while everyone else is getting poorer.  It was a time when wages were about 25 cents per hour.  There was no middle-class.

Women were supposed to “stay home” and take care of the man’s house and have as many babies as they could.  More babies meant more workers for the factories for the future and therefore pay wouldn’t have to go up.

Today’s Republican party’s platform of “social issues” handsomely disguised from the “conservative religious beliefs” they really are tell us that is how it should be now.  Women should just shut up, stay home, have babies, and be subservient to their husbands.

This week the Democrats painted a different picture.  They want to improve our infrastructure.  They want to create non-outsourcable jobs in clean energy.  They want to teach new skills and trades to those being hurt by the inevitable change from fossil fuel to clean renewable energy.

They want to reform our immigration policies so they are enforceable and inclusive.  While the Republicans want to shut down our borders and build walls.  They want to improve education so our children are better equipped to compete in a global market.

They want to reestablish trade schools so anyone who does not want to go to college can get training in a skill they can support their family on.  They want to raise the minimum wage so people working full-time don’t still live in poverty or have to work two or three jobs to get ahead.

This is not a binary election between two candidates.  It is a binary election between the two parties platforms and they are stark.  It is really a choice of moving forward or moving backwards.  It is a choice between being “one nation indivisible” or a nation of divisiveness and bigotry.

We have seen the Republican’s platform unchanged for at least the last 40 years.  They are stuck in the mud.  They have no vision of what the future of our country should be.  They long for the days when there was social order.  A time when we all “knew our place” and just went along with what they told us.

That lack of vision is stifling our economy.  It is resulting in our infrastructure crumbling around our heads.  It has resulted in the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs that our country desperately needs so our people can work and live in comfort.  It has resulted in divisiveness in our social structure.

Rather than seeing the glorious nature of diversity, the wonderfulness of innovation and new technologies, and the energy and desire of our people to work hard and move forward, they prefer to take us back to a time that was even worse than anything today.

They then nominated a person in Donald Trump that exemplifies those very old and failed principles.   A man who claims to be a “businessman” that made his wealth on the despair of those who “believed him” and then he betrayed by not paying his bills forcing them out of business and out of work.  Even worse, he brags about doing just that!

As Michael Bloomberg said during his speech this week: “Donald Trump wants to run America like he runs his businesses?  God help us!”  He says he wants to “make America strong”.  Yet he is willing to abandon our allies because he doesn’t believe they “pay enough” for our protection.  That sounds more like a gang-related “protection racket” to neighborhood businesses than a foreign policy to me.

In the 1960s I was considered a Hippie Liberal.  Today, my son tells me I am more of a left-leaning moderate.  He may be right since times change.  However, I am a left-leaning Independent.  You may argue that my writings here indicate that I am a definite Democrat.  But, that is only because today’s Republican Party has abandoned all of its policies.  It has abandoned it principled ideals of being the “Party of Lincoln”.  It has even abandoned its “conservative credentials” in favor of “strong-man” tactics.

You only need look at their nominee for the proof.  I don’t just listen to words that are spoken, I look at body language as well.  Body language tells you more about the person than the words coming out of the mouth.

Donald Trump exhibits the body language of all of the dictators he seems to love.  He poses like Mussolini.  He claps to himself like Stalin and the rest of the old Supreme Leaders of the old Soviet Union.  He has praised people like Saddam Husain and Kim Jung Un.  Then he tells us “only I can fix our problems” just like Hitler did in the 1920s in Germany.

In this election you will need to make up your own mind on who to support.  I am a left-leaning old Hippie.  I am a twenty-year veteran who served my country in the U.S. Coast Guard.  I am a retired white “old fart” that spent my entire working life in careers dedicated to helping others.

When I sat in a small radio room in the middle of the night and the call came in for help, I never asked what race you were, I never asked what religion you were, I never asked what nationality you were.  I simply responded and got the mechanism moving to rescue you.

As such, I cannot in any way, shape or form support a candidate like Donald Trump or a party that has the gall to put him up to be our President.  I cannot remember ever voting a straight ticket.  This year that will change.

Donald Trump and the platform of the Republican Party is so disgusting to me, I will vote and I will support Hillary Clinton and the Democrats up and down the ticket.  I am actually hoping that this crop of Republicans get beat so badly this year, that the real Republicans will take back their party.

I believe in discussions.  I believe in political differences.  That is the only way to bring about change and necessary improvements.  I believe in compromise where each side gets something out of the deal as long as Americans are the benefactor.  Today’s crazies who control the Republican Party will never allow that to happen, and they must go.

Now, I don’t expect Hillary Clinton or the Democratic Party to be jumping up and down over my endorsement.  I know I write for a small somewhat obscure little blog.  But, I do believe that more of us “small” people must speak up, take a stand, and say enough is enough.  And, more importantly, to vote the crazies out!

One last word to Donald Trump.  If I were still in active uniform and you gave me an order to burn down the house of suspected terrorist, or to kill the family of a suspected terrorist, or torture a suspected terrorist, or any of the other idiotic things you claim will happen, I would refuse to obey.  I would also order my people not to obey.

Our oath says we will “obey all lawful directives given to us by those appointed above us”.  What you are saying is illegal, inhuman, and downright fascist.  To put it in terms you may understand, I would simply look you in the eye and say “Fuck you!”

Enough said.

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In 1972 there was a break-in at the Watergate.  The break-in occurred at the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters.  The end result of that break-in was the downfall of Richard Nixon and his Presidency.  He was the only President to resign in shame!

Last week, WikiLeaks released hacked emails from the DNC right before the opening of the Democratic National Convention.  Since the actual hack was discovered in April, the DNC hired a cybersecurity company to figure out where the hack originated.

That company says the hack came from Russia.  An additional cybersecurity company has investigated the incident as well and came to the same conclusion.  The FBI is also investigating the incident.

Someone who calls himself Guccifer 2.0 said he was the one who hacked the DNC emails.  He claims to be Romanian.  However, ThreatConnect, a cybersecurity company, said they traced Guccifer 2.0 to an internet server in Russia.  They further said that this was probably not a single person but a collection of people from the Russian propaganda arm.

“These are bureaucrats, not sophisticated hackers,” Rich Barger, ThreatConnect’s chief intelligence officer, said.  He further said that Guccifer 2.0 made inconsistent remarks and given a version of how he penetrated the DNC networks.  Barger said that they technically don’t make sense.  For instance, the hacker claims to have used a software flaw that didn’t exist until December 2015 in order to break into the DNC networks last summer.

That is what is known so far about the hack.  The evidence, so far, shows Russian involvement in the hack.  Russia has also attempted to hack government agencies in our country and our European allies.  Those are simple facts.

Trump held a news conference today.  He claims that “no one knows if Russia was involved.”  I guess his “wonderful brain” he claims to have hasn’t read any papers recently.  But, it gets worse, and quite frankly I can’t believe I heard what he said.

Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.  I think you will probably be mightily rewarded by our press.

When he was pressed to answer if he was actively encouraging Russia, or any other government, to interfere with our elections or to hack into private emails of Mrs. Clinton or any other citizen he said:  “That’s up to the president” meaning Putin.  When Katy Tur tried to follow-up, he simply told her to be quiet.

When he was asked why he refused to unequivocally call on Vladimir V. Putin, Russia’s president, to not meddle in the United States’ presidential election, he said:  “I’m not going to tell Putin what to do.  Why should I tell Putin what to do?”

As a veteran who gave 20 years of service to my country, I find these remarks bordering on treason.  We now have a candidate from a major political party encouraging our enemies to hack into our country’s cyber systems.

Donald Trump is a despicable human being.  He has a history of making money from the misery of other people.  He is feeding hate and division in our own country.  He wants to put an end to immigration of “special groups”.

But, now we know exactly where his loyalties are.  He has crossed the line and should be held accountable for this very egregious behavior.  It is time for the groundswell to grow for him to “resign” the nomination and crawl back into the sewers where he belongs.

As far as I am concerned, Donald Trump is a traitor!  He sees no problem with an enemy hacking into our emails as long as it benefits himself.  He has even “encouraged” such actions by our enemies as long as he gets to read everything they get.

That is the very definition of treason!

 

 

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Last night the Democratic Party formally gave their nomination for President to Hillary Clinton.  There really wasn’t any drama in the decision.  We knew going in it was happening.  Yes, there was some media “drama” about what Bernie Sanders would do, but that all worked out in the end as well.

No, the real thing about the nomination is the differences between generations as to what it actually means.  I have admitted repeatedly that I am an old guy.  I have favored and fought for civil rights for everyone.  Yet, I must admit that I never thought I would ever see a black man become President or a woman even be nominated by a major political party in my lifetime.  Fortunately, I was wrong on both parts.

The older generations of women understand what this means in historical contexts.  Women have fought for equal rights for generations.  Remember, it has only be 96 years since women were granted their right to vote.  Women have been rendered as “second-class” citizens for most of history.

During World War II, we had lots of advertising about “Rosie the Riveter.”  Millions of men were sent offer to war and that left a huge hole in the labor force.  Women from all walks of life filled that hole.  Of course, it was with the understanding that they “would return to the kitchen” when their men came home.

Women were not taken seriously when they ran for public office.  They were treated like some kind of freak show.  The simple narrative was that women did not have the mental capacity or the “toughness” to work in politics.  Politics was a male world and women were not welcome.  When the first woman showed up in the U.S. Senate, there wasn’t even a “woman’s restroom” for her to use.

Women have struggled for equal rights for generations.  To most of us “old farts” the nomination of a woman to run for President by a major political party is historic.  And, it has been too long coming.

However, as often happens, the younger women in the country are not as impressed with this historic nomination.  They seem to have the opinion of “well, okay that is supposed to happen.”  They are right.  It is supposed to happen.

One of the real problems with our country, is that with each new generation of Americans, the struggles for equality by different groups become “history” and not considered very important anymore.  We make progress, move on, and ignore what came before us.

And that is one of the reasons that old saying is very true.  “Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.”  We see that fact evidenced today.  The right-wing is still fighting their “war on women”.  We don’t need to pay women equally for equal work.  They should be happy we let them into the workplace in the first place, they say.

Women are not “smart enough” to make decision about their own bodies.  They are not “tough” enough to be real leaders.  The Bible tells us women are to be “subordinate” to us men.  It goes even deeper.

When Michelle Obama the other day said she “wakes up every day in a house built by slaves” Bill O’Reilly had to chime in about that comment.  “Well, the slaves who built the White House were well fed and given decent lodging”.  Like that justifies them being slaves.

Whether you like Hillary Clinton or not, the fact is history was made last night.  The only drawback to that history is “what took so long?”  We have finally caught up to 1960 Sri Lanka who had a woman lead their country back then.

The rest of day two was fairly predictable.  The speeches were an attempt to “reintroduce” Hillary to us.  It is amazing just how little we really know about a woman who has been in the spotlight for so many years.

Some people talk about Bill’s speech as good or bad or so-so.  The biggest complaint is that he spent too much time talking about his beginning with Hillary and the story about how they met.  Of course, the real issue behind that is the “scandals” that the pair have gone through mostly from Bill’s behavior

Say what you will about Bill Clinton’s behavior.  Say what you will about Hillary Clinton’s behavior during these “scandals.  The fact is they are still together which tells me there is more to their relationship than anyone wants to admit.

They could have gone the way of Donald Trump.  You know, have an affair, divorce your wife and marry the person you hare having an affair with.  Three marriages later, maybe you got it right.  But, they didn’t.  They stuck together.  I am sure people will come up with lots of nefarious reasons for their staying together, but I would like to think that they actually do love each other and were willing to work through their problems.

I don’t know about you, but hat says a lot to me about her character and her Methodist beliefs.  She didn’t need Bill to become Senator or to run for President.  Actually, she might have been better off without him.  But, she stuck with him even during trying times.  That is true courage and character.

About the only bombshell that was exploded last night came during the 9/11 part of the story telling.   That came when it was told that after 9/11 “Trump cashed in”.  I do a lot of research before I write anything.  That caught me off guard, so I did some research.

It happened like this.  After 9/11 many small businesses near the area were hurting because their business was interrupted or damaged.  The government, pushed by Hillary Clinton, passed legislation to help these small businesses recover.

In the legislation the small businesses were granted tax breaks to help them get their businesses back up and running.  Without that help, many of those small businesses would have been put out of business forever.

Donald Trump had already announced that none of his properties were affected by the terrorist attack.  Yet, his company decided that they could apply for the tax break anyway.  As a result, Trump’s companies received $150,000 in tax breaks.  As I understand the legislation, that is the maximum tax break granted.

Trump actually did “cash in” on the tragedy.  He admitted that none of his properties were affected, yet he still managed to get the tax breaks intended to help small businesses get back up and running.  You may ask, how a company a large as Trump was “classified” as a small business?  That is an honest question, and frankly I don’t have a direct answer.  All I can say is defining “small business” is usually buried in legal speak.

So, while Clinton was fighting to get legislation like this passed and working hard to ensure medical care for the first responders who worked at the scene, Donald Trump was figuring out how he could make more money off of the tragedy.  It appears that both succeeded in getting what they wanted.  Hillary Clinton got help for those that needed it, and Donald Trump lined his pockets.

Today, we move into day three.  President Obama is scheduled to speak, and Tim Kaine will get the nomination to be Hillary’s running mate.  I am really more interested in Kaine’s speech than the President’s.  I know the President will give a great speech, that is one of his strong points.

The Kaine speech will tell us a lot about himself and how his policy views match up with Clinton’s.  We are already seeing differences between Pence and Trump.  They have differing viewpoints on things like the economy, for example.

Day two went smoothly and was full of information most people never knew about Hillary Clinton.  Yes, some of the Berniacs are still very unhappy and will continue to be so.  But, overall, the party is coming together and primed for a hard-fought election.

Let’s see what day three brings.

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Yesterday was quite a day.  First, Roger Ailes was forced out at Fox News because of the sexual harassment cases against him.  It became too much even for Rupert Murdoch.  Secondly, the NBA announced it was pulling the 2017 All-Star game in Charlotte, NC because of the anti-gay HB2 bill.  And the courts have been striking down the Republican photo-ID bills.

But, the most headlines are all about Donald Trump accepting the Nomination of the Republican Party to be President of the United States and his acceptance speech.  In his speech, he painted the gloomiest, darkest, most dreadful picture of our country I have ever heard in a political speech.  It is hard to know where to begin critiquing it.

I think the best way to start is to quote Mike Murphy, a Republican strategist, who said “I didn’t know I was living in Gotham City and needed a billionaire caped crusader to rescue me.”  Until last night, I don’t think anyone knew that either.

Of course, in his Trumpian fashion the truth was “stretched” during the speech.  For example, crime is lower today than it has been for 40 years, not higher.  That according to the FBI statistics.  Secondly, during this administration, fewer police officers have been killed in the line of duty per year than under any other administration going back before Ronald Reagan according to FBI statistics.

But, its okay.  After Donald Trump takes office “crime will come to an end”.  He didn’t say it would “decline” he said t would “end”.  Nice phrase.  But, how is he going to eliminate crime?  Didn’t say.  Is he planning to back up police vans and empty out our inner cities?  How is he going to know who is a criminal and who is not?  Or, is he just going to assume that they are all criminals and “lock them up”.

He is “going to wipe Radical Islamist Terrorists” out “real fast”.  Again how?  Didn’t say.  How do you know which Muslims are “radical Islamist terrorists” and which ones are not?  Which means according to my logical mind to ensure that “all radical Islamist terrorists” are wiped out is to wipe out all Muslims.  Is he planning to conduct a war of genocide against all Muslims in the world?  Should be easy peasey there are only about 2 billion of them.

He says he is going to bring about the “biggest tax cuts” in history.  Yet he pledges to build roads, bridges, railroads, airports, and a bunch of other infrastructure projects.  How is he going to pay for all of these projects if he is going to reduce revenue?  He is also going to “rebuild” our third-rate military.  Again, how is he going to pay for that?  Didn’t say.

In all fairness, Donald Trump gave the best example of how to string together 20 second bites over one hour and fourteen minutes.  All we heard last night was the same 20 second bites he has uttered ever since he decided to run for President.  There was no substance.  There was no policy.  There was nothing but 20 second sound bites.

He is definitely going to build his wall, but this time he left out the part on how Mexico will pay for it.  That was an interesting omission.  To me, he seemed to veer all around the place.  His speech was incoherent at times and the pace was terrible.  On top of that, he yelled through most of it.

It does not appear that any of the pundits noticed what I did.  During each of his “breaks” to listen to the applause from his followers, he stepped back and posed almost exactly like Benito Mussolini.  The only thing missing was the crossed arms.  He jutted out his chin and gloomily and angrily stared out at the crowd.  He even gestured like Mussolini while he was talking.

The part that was meant to tell us how he plans to “fix our country” sounded like another dictator in Germany at the same time Adolph Hitler.  All we need to do is “trust me” he said over and over.  He never talked about working with Congress to get his “agenda” done.  He claimed he was going to do it all by himself “trust me”.

As a white man I definitely heard Donald Trump tell us white people that we are in danger from all these non-white, non-Christian people and he is going to save us from them.  As a white man and veteran of this country, I totally reject that premise.

Many of the pundits are claiming that Trump echoed Richard Nixon last night.  In some aspects that is true.  But, Richard Nixon never espoused an authoritarian government for the U.S.  Last night, Donald Trump used his acceptance speech to lay out why we need an authoritarian government and why he should be named dictator.

For the very first time in my 56 years of watching and following politics, I heard the nominee of one of our major political party’s come out and clearly state that democracy should be abandoned in our country.  For the first time, I heard a nominee of a major political party lay out the reasons we need authoritarian rule in this country.  That wasn’t the real scary part.  The real scary part was all of those people in the convention center applauding his speech and agreeing with him.

If there was ever a time when white supremacy was on full display in our political conversation it was last night.  It is time for Trump to put on his signs what he really means.  “Make America White Again”!

Last night we were assured that Donald Trump is the second coming.  Last night we were assured that if we blindly allow him total control of our country, we will love the end results.  I am not “buying it”.  I reject everything Donald Trump wants to make our country.  Not only that, I reject the Republican Party for supporting this maniac to be our next President.

There is an old saying that “the company you keep speaks loudly about you.”  Supporting Donald Trump says the Republican Party believes in his outlook and his plan for an authoritarian government.  Keeping company with Donald Trump “speaks loudly about them.”  Remember that come November 8.

And, the “shirts” keep marching along!

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The Grumpy Old Party (GOP) is at it once again.  The party that claims to be all for transparency and freedom of speech is trying to kill both in one fell swoop.  They have come up with another expensive meaningless way to spend tax dollars and deny something all at the same time.

It starts out this way.  A recent investigation by the Washington-based Center for International Environmental Law uncovered documents showing that the oil industry, including Humble Oil (now Exxon Mobil), was on notice about the potential role of fossil fuels in CO2 emissions no later than 1957 and already “shaping science to shape public opinion” in the 1940s.

In November of last year, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman subpoenaed Exxon seeking documents related to the allegations that it lied to the public and its investors. In March, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said her office would join the Exxon Mobile Probes in New York and California. In June, Exxon filed a lawsuit against Healy in an effort to bar a so-called civil investigative demand from her office.

Also this spring, a larger coalition called AGs United for Clean Power formed after reports by Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times found that Exxon executives were aware of the climate risks associated with carbon dioxide emissions, but funded research to cover up those risks and block solutions.

In simple terms, these Attorneys General are investigating if Exxon committed fraud against the public and their investors.  If they did, that amounts to a crime.  Something the Attorneys General are supposed to investigate.

But, the GOP in it earnest quest to quell any discussion about climate change and whether or not oil companies knew what the effect of their product had on the climate has kicked in full tilt.  Yesterday, Lamar Smith (R-Tex) and chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology announced he subpoenaed the Attorneys General who are conducting this investigation.

In typical Republican lingo, Smith claims that these investigations “amount to a form of extortion, threaten legitimate scientific debate about climate change and are a blatant effort to silence free speech.”

Can you imagine that?  Attorneys General who investigate a company for possible fraud are now being accused by a U.S. Congressman of “extortion and limiting free speech.”  Maybe we should mention that Smith has received $685,597 in donations from the oil and gas industry since 1998, according to data compiled by OpenSecrets.org.

Of course Smith isn’t alone in his stupidity.  Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas) accused the attorneys general involved in the investigation of veering away from enforcing the law and participating in “environmental activism.”

“Since when did it become a crime to express an opinion or to even hold an opinion?” Weber asked. “This posse of attorneys general believe that those whose opinion or scientific research conflict with the alleged consensus view on climate change should be the subject of an investigation and possible prosecution by none other than our own government officials. You talk about a chilling effect on free speech.”

Well Congressman, how about when that company is deliberately issuing false information to the public and its investors in order to keep the money flowing in?  Isn’t that the definition of fraud? Doesn’t that go away from “holding an opinion” and move into the realm of criminal activity?  Do these Congressmen remember the tobacco industry fraud against the public over smoking hazards?

In one response to this nonsense, Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists said: “It’s beyond ironic for Chairman Smith to violate our actual free speech rights in the name of protecting ExxonMobil’s supposed right to misrepresent the work of its own scientists and deceive shareholders and the public.”

This type of action by the Republican Party is becoming all too common.  If you do not agree with their “world view” they simply open up an investigation to prove that you are violating someone’s “free speech” because you are trying to prove they lied to the public.

Attacking opponents is the basis of their entire agenda these days.  When Justice Ginsberg attacked Trump, he said “her mind is shot, resign!”  He is even suing a former staffer of his campaign for $10 million because after he was fired he backed another candidate.  And, don’t forget about the “blacklist” of journalists barred from Trump campaign events because they don’t write glowing praise for the candidate.

There are two basic ways to limit free speech, aside from killing your opponent.  The first is to throw them into jail where they can be controlled and silenced.  The other is to litigate the hell out of them.  Republicans, at least for now, have chosen the latter.

The “Constitutional Purists” who believe in “separation of powers” and of “states rights” apparently don’t agree with either of these issues if it means their favorite donors are being investigated for fraud.

When that happens, the Attorney General who has the gall to investigate one of these donor company’s is accused of “harassing” the donor company and limiting “free speech”.  Never mind that it is their “duty” to investigate possible fraud.  Go find it somewhere else.

Never mind that investigating the investigators is infringing on the powers afforded under the Constitution for the Justice Department to investigate possible fraud without interference from the Legislative body.

None of that matters.  Especially if you are investigating a donor company whose pollution is hurting the climate, clean air, clean water, and adversely affecting the health of the general public that these Congressmen are supposed to represent.  Smith and his bogus Committee are telling the Attorneys General to knock it off or we will come after you.

This is just another “open window” into what this country will look like if the Republicans gain total control of both Houses of Congress and the White House.  Wake up America!  The Grumpy Old Party is after your freedoms and they won’t stop until you have none left.

And, the “shirts” keep marching along!

 

 

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Rudy Giuliani and Bill O’Reilly and other right-wing nuts are out to prove that we do not have a policing problem in this country.  According to them, we have a “no respect” for the law problem.  However, in all of their rants, they are proving there really is a “policing problem” in this country.

We also know from investigations that we have a “profiling” problem in this country.  Several areas have been found, by the courts, to be racially profiling who they pull over for traffic stops.  When you put the two together, you have a disturbing problem.

Let me be clear.  In my past lives I worked very closely with law enforcement agencies all across the country.  I fully know that the vast majority of law enforcement officers are good, honest, hard-working men and women.  They take their jobs very seriously and do the very best they can every single day.

I also know that there are way too many police officers who should never be allowed to wear the uniform.  They come into the job as racists and use their “power” to harass those they don’t like.  On one hand, it is unfortunate that the “good cops” are lumped together with the bad cops when things go wrong.  On the other hand, if they have remained silent about the “bad cops” they know by keeping the “code of silence”, they are partially to blame in all of this.  They need to speak up and get the “bad cops” off of the force.  I know how hard that is.  But the true definition of courage is doing what is right even if others won’t.

If you don’t believe we have a policing and profile problem, let me explain it this way.  A few years ago on my way to work I was pulled over in a county next to the one I live in.  I was doing 60 in a 55 zone.  The Sheriff’s deputy asked me for my driver’s license and registration which I handed over.  When he returned to my car, he informed me that my registration was “invalid” because I had not signed it.  He then offered me a pen and watched as I signed it.  He eventually let me off with a “warning”.

A few weeks later, a coworker was pulled over in the same county.  He was doing 47 in a 45 zone according to the ticket he received.  Additionally, when the deputy returned to his car he asked him to step out of the vehicle.  He then arrested the man for “driving without a valid registration”.  See, he also did not sign his registration card.

There were two things that differentiated me from him.  I was older and he was black.  Two people stopped for similar minor traffic offenses.  Two people who had forgotten to “sign” their registration cards.  One let go the other arrested.  The one let go an old white man.  The one arrested a young black man.

The situation in the Castile case is not that different.  This man had been pulled over numerous times in the same area.  He was cited at least 50 times for minor traffic violations from speeding to a broken tail light.  A huge majority of those violations were dismissed outright.

The right-wing has gone off about how “more white people” are killed by police officers than black people.  If you look at raw numbers they are right.  However, if you look at the “per capita” rates of white people getting killed versus black people, the numbers are staggering against black people.

But, even if you disregard that fact, as almost everyone on the right does, the fact remains that too many people are killed at the hands of the police.  Even if you take away all of the incidents of the victim first shooting at police, and thus bringing it upon themselves, the numbers are still way too high.

The lawyer for the officer in the Castile case claims his client was “reacting to the gun” not to the man’s race.  Which tells me we have a gun problem in this country as well.  Something the right is not about to talk about.  But, even if this statement were true, the officer still used improper judgement in shooting Castile.

When I was in the Coast Guard, I had to take courses on handling weapons in conjunction with civilians due to our “law enforcement’ work.  I had to take and pass a “shoot, don’t shoot” test.  I vividly remember the test and the instructions I was given about when to shoot and when to hold my fire.  In one scene, a suspect made a sudden move towards a gun in his waistband but instead raised his hands over his head without touching his gun.  Since he never touched the gun, you were not supposed to shoot.

We were instructed that if you see a suspect with a gun in his hand, you are more likely to be valid in a decision to shoot.  However, if the suspect did not attempt to draw his weapon, we were instructed not to shoot.

Which tells me that since Castile never pulled his weapon, the officer involved should not have fired his weapon.  The reason he fired his weapon only he knows for sure.  However, it goes closely with the shooting of Sterling in Baton Rouge.  In that incident, one of the officers reportedly saw a gun in the victims pocket and yelled “gun”!  At that point, the other officer opened fire and shot the victim six times in the chest.

The video clearly shows that the “gun” was never in the victim’s hand.  It clearly shows that the gun was in his pocket, and therefore, according to the training I received, the officer should not have fired his weapon.  Especially since the victim was being pinned to the ground by that officer.

As I have said before, I deplore violence.  I know that from time to time it is necessary to protect citizens from criminals and police from being killed.  But, we seem to have become a nation of “shoot first and ask questions later”.  I say that is the wrong approach to have in policing our citizens.  Especially when we know that some officers will use race as an excuse to shoot an innocent person.

One of the problems in all of this is that there are no real “standards” that police officers are trained to.  Too many times, cadets at police academies get generalized instruction on the law and are put out on our streets not really knowing what they should be doing.  Many communities don’t even have an academy for police officers, especially small sheriff’s departments.  They either rely on hiring someone with “experience” or “on-the-job” training.

Instead of complaining about the police not getting enough military surplus equipment, we should be complaining about the levels of training our officer’s get.  We should be complaining about hiring practices that allow too many “bad cops” to even get on the force.  We should be complaining that too many unarmed, innocent people are being killed.

We should be talking, as Hillary Clinton did, about having “standardized” instruction in training for police officers so we don’t go from one “good jurisdiction” to a “bad jurisdiction” just by crossing a city, county or state line.  Of course the right-wing immediately accused her of “wanting a nationalized police” to take away our rights.

I have great respect for all of the “good cops” in our country.  I have worked with them closely often.  I know what they go through.  I understand the dangers they face everyday.  However, that doesn’t mean I can sit quietly by and not call out “profiling” and “police brutality” when it happens.

Staying quiet does not fix the problems.  Staying quiet does not help our officers get better.  Staying quiet does not get them the training resources they need to properly do their jobs.  Way too many unarmed people are being killed by police officers.  It is time to stop the hysterical speech about “hating police” and start talking about how to make them better.  Both sides need to sit down and rationally discuss the problems and come up with ways to fix them.

It really doesn’t matter what side of this issue you are on.  If you really take time to listen and analyze what the right-wing is saying in all of this, you too will come to the conclusion that there is a police brutality and gun problem in this country.  We can find solutions. We can fix the problem.  But, we need to tell the bloviaters to shut the hell up so we can come together and solve our problems.

 

 

 

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Yesterday, the right-wing went nuts, again.  This time, they were all falling over themselves to place the blame for the murder of the Dallas Police Officer directly at the feet of the President and Hillary Clinton.  I know, so what else is new?

As some examples, Rep Steve King of IA tweeted a connection between the killing of police officers and the President’s remarks about Officer Crowley when he arrested Harvard professor Harvey Louis Gates, Jr. while the professor was trying to enter his own house.  King tweeted:

#DallasPoliceShooting has roots in first of anti-white/cop events illuminated by Obama…Officer Crowley. There were others

I am sure you remember King’s kind comments about undocumented immigrants when he said they have thighs the size of cantaloupes because they are hauling 40 pounds of marijuana into the country taped to their legs.  He is also one of the first to endorse Trump and his Berlin Styled Wall on the border.

Then there is that scholarly lady from Alaska, Sarah Palin.  “Shame on our culture’s influencers who would stir contention and division that could lead to evil such as that in Dallas. Shame on politicians and pundits giving credence to thugs rioting against police officers and the rule of law in the name of ‘peaceful protests’.  It is a farce. #BlackLivesMatter is a farce.”

The most awful tweet came from former Rep. Joe Walsh.  The tweet was deleted, but in essence he said that President Obama and Black Lives Matter should “watch out” because “real America” was coming to get them.  But, of course, he later said he didn’t mean to start any violence.

You may remember Rep. Joe Walsh.  He was the Tea Party favorite who was elected to Congress while he was over $100,000 in the rears in child support payments.  How’s it that for being a “real American?

All of these politicians and pundits in the right-wing conservative movement have been wailing about how “whites” in America are under attack.  Taking the language used by white supremacists as the battle cry for their “conservative cause”.  These snippets are just more of the same stupidity.

Those are just a snippet of the gripes from the very people who have hurled racist comments against Blacks, Latinos, Muslims and just about every group other than white male Christians.  Their hate speech has hurled Donald Trump to the Republican nomination for President.

Fox News was falling all over itself as well.  The major theme, at least when I could stomach a few minutes of watching it, was all about the meme that “this is not about guns”.  I am going to say something here that will probably surprise my liberal friends.  This is not about guns.

This is about who the fuck we allow to buy guns!  Under current laws, anyone, and I mean anyone, can walk into a “gun show” and purchase any weapon they want.  They are not subject to any background check, they usually don’t even have to show an ID.

I know this to be true, because I live in a state that has dozens of “gun shows” every year.  Just to see what goes on there I actually went to one.  I was astonished to see one man purchase six AR15 rifles.  The seller did not question why so many and did not even ask to see his ID before ringing up the sale.  He did say he made his money for the month.

ISIS and al Qaeda have instructions on their sites telling terrorists how easy it is to purchase guns in America.  They are suggesting that they should arm up and attack civilians wherever they can.  And, THAT people is what this is about.  That and all of the hate speech.

Mayor Mike Rawlings yesterday at a vigil for the slain police officers said:  “This is on my generation of leaders.  We have led the next generation down a path of rhetoric that has pitted one another against each other.”

He ended his speech saying “The cancer of separatism is killing this body”.  Think about those words for a moment.  I have never heard a politician state so clearly what is wrong with our country.

Today’s leaders, mostly white conservative Republicans have used this “rhetoric of separatism” for years.  Today, we have mistrust between our police and the communities they serve.  We have mistrust between our politicians and the electorate.  We have mistrust between ourselves.

Mayor Rawlings is correct.  “The cancer of separatism is killing this body.”  This “body” is our country.  This “body” is our society.  This “body” is us.  But, it is not too late.  We can find the cure for this cancer of separatism.

We won’t find it by screaming at each other.  We won’t find it by hating each other.  We won’t find it by blaming each other.  We will only find the cure by talking with each other, by loving each other and by finding solutions to real problems.

Even in the aftermath of Dallas, conservatives still don’t get it!  They still cling to their separatist hate speech.  Say NO to them.  Say NO to hate.  Say NO to separatism.  Then we can kill the cancer that is killing us!

 

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