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Day 74.

If this past weekend is any indication of what we can expect from trump and his administration, forgive the language, but we are fucked!  I mean, the stupidity of this administration to really believe that they can say whatever they want and the whole world will believe it is amazing.

It began with trump’s shameful performance at the CIA where he complained about coverage of his inauguration and he said how we should have broken international law by “stealing” Iraq’s oil.

Then we have his Justice Administration giving the green light to him hiring his son-in-law to his administration in contrast to the anti-nepotism law.  Funny how the law means so much until a Republican breaks it.

Then we have two separate “executive orders” which trump and Republicans claim are “unconstitutional when President Obama” used them.  The first was so confusing that no one really understands what it means.  Priebus called it reducing financial burden of Obamacare order.

The second was eliminating the reduction in FHA mortgage insurance premiums for first time home buyers.  That was intended to help first time home buyers afford their insurance premiums.  The mortgage insurance covers the home if something happens and the homebuyers can’t make their payments for any number of reasons.  So, he is costing these people $500 per year.  You know, the same people he claims he is going to help.  Some help.

Then his Justice Department decided that they wanted a judge to delay hearings in the suite against the Texas Voter suppression law, which is the strictest in the country.  Arguments were supposed to take place tomorrow.

Then as a final act of, I don’t even know what to call it, Sean Spicer showed up in the Press Briefing Room, one and a half hours later than announced, and virtually scolded the press for not praising trump, especially his inauguration.  As Spicer put it, “this inauguration was the most watched inauguration ever, period!”  Except it wasn’t and there is photographic evidence to prove it.  Plus Nielsen said that 30.8 million people watched on television.

That is far below President Obama’s first inauguration which came in at around 39 million viewers and the 43 million people who watched Reagan’s first inauguration.  Spicer also gave a fairytale story about a journalist who tweeted that the bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office.  He further claimed that the journalist gave a weak excuse for his tweet when he discovered that it was false.

On the contrary, the journalist did make the original tweet.  However, as soon as he noticed he had made an error, he tweeted again apologizing to everyone for his mistake.  To make matters worse for Spicer, he tweeted back “apology accepted”.  That all happened 24 hours before Spicer’s rant in the briefing room.

Yesterday, trying to defend these blatant lies, Kellyanne Conway whose title should not be “counselor to the President” but rather “chief confuser of the facts for the President” said that Spicer was simply using “alternative facts”.

The Sunday Morning talk shows fought back.  When one pointed out that “alternatives facts” are not facts they are falsehoods, Conway quickly tried to change the topic.  She even threatened the media on air by saying the administration may “rethink [its] relationship with the press if the media continues to criticize Spicer”.

Even Chris Wallace on Fox News was against these alternative facts.  He said Trump had made statements that were “flat wrong” and that there needed to be discussion about “the president’s honesty.”   He went on to say:  “I was there on the Mall. … I am telling you, there were huge empty areas.”

Wallace also challenged Priebus on the comment made at the CIA that trump did not have a grudge or feud with the intelligence community.  It was all made up by the media.  He said:  “It’s not the media, it’s what he was saying”.

At that point Priebus changed the topic and complained about the dossier that was leaked.  Even though the intelligence community was not the source of that leak.

Finally, Conway also announced that the promise to “release my tax returns after the audit is complete” by trump was a complete lie.  She now says that he will not release his tax returns because people didn’t care.  She forgot to mention that there is a petition on whitehouse.gov demanding he release his tax returns and it has over 100,000 signatures on it.  Sounds like a lot of people really “do care”.

What this really boils down to is what Hitler called the “Big Lie”.  In his world the more you tell a lie, the more people will believe it to be fact.  We have also seen this kind of nonsense in George Orwell’s book 1984.  In that world, the government changed the facts by changing history.  They would actually go back and change stories in newspapers to coincide with today’s happenings.

In the first 72 hours of his administration, trump has managed to tell more lies than most Presidents tell in an entire four-year term.  He is setting the stage for falsehoods to become the norm for our country.

I have to tell you, when Spicer went into his rant, I had flashbacks to newsreels of the past showing Joseph Goebbels ranting in front of German Press back in the 20s and 30s.  Is that what we can expect from this administration?

In the next 30 days, according to trump’s administration, we can expect a slew of those “unconstitutional executive orders” being signed by the new “law and order” president.  I know, that sounds like a conflict, but trump is well-known for his conflicts.

It was once said that you can lie your way into power, but once you try to govern the truth eventually gets its boots on and runs you over.  We can only hope that the truth gets its boots on real quick this year.

 

 

 

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We heard what was probably the most bleak, dark, and nonsensical rambling of an inauguration speech I have ever heard.  That was without doubt terrible.  It shows that Donald Trump cannot give a good speech to save his life.

This speech was terrible.  He stood on that stage as the least popular president-elect in history.  His numbers, for the first time, actually went down between his election and his inauguration.

That is bad enough.  His speech made all of our allies very nervous.  He talked about “protecting our borders and not others”.  Needless to say that make our allies nervous since we have treaties to help protect their borders.

I could go on about how he bragged that his inauguration would shatter records for attendance.  It might have, but on the low-end not the high-end.  Did you notice all of those empty seats in the bleachers next to the reviewing stand?  Those seats required tickets and they were empty!  But that isn’t the really important thing about today.

In his speech he talked about equality and making lives for everyone, including minorities, better.  It almost sounded like he was really interested in the welfare and the rights of minorities.  But, hold your horses, as they say.

A little background.  Under Rick Perry as Governor of Texas, the Republican legislature passed the most voter restrictive law in the country.  Naturally, it wound up in court with the Department of Justice bringing the suit.

A Federal Judge said the law was not only racist, but from his listening to the testimony, it was clear to him that it was deliberately racist in nature and intended to keep African and Latino Americans from being able to vote in the State of Texas.

A three judge Appeals Court agreed with that ruling and also called the law intentionally racist.  Then it went to the most conservative Appeals Court in the country.  They also ruled that the law was violating the voting rights of African and Latino Americans, but they were not convinced that it was intentional.

So, they ordered the case returned to the original judge to re-exam the intent of the law.  The case was scheduled to be heard on Tuesday next week.

Here is where we come to Trump’s actions speaking louder than his words.  At 1201 this afternoon, right after he took the office, his people at the Justice Department asked the judge to delay the case.

This was something that was not announced.  It was done in secret hoping the nation would not notice.  What we have is a person giving an inauguration speech talking about civil rights, and while he is talking, his Justice Department is trying to delay a case against a racist voter restriction law.

Of course, the Appeals Court that decided the law as racist, but sent it back anyway to determine intent was wrong in its decision.  They should have stopped the law completely because it doesn’t matter if a law is passed with intent to be racist.  The very fact that it is racist makes it unconstitutional and the judges should have said so in the first place.

Now we have a situation where the new administration could easily tell the judge that they are dropping their suit against the racist law.  Of course, that doesn’t really mean that the suit will stop since others will continue with it.  But, with DOJ dropping out, the case becomes more difficult.

When you also consider that Jeff Sessions, the nominee for the Department of Justice has been openly in favor of such racist laws the discriminate or restrict the voting of minorities, there is little doubt in my mind that the case will probably be dropped by DOJ.

Then you have the real problem where this Texas law is not the only one that is currently in the courts.  Other states face similar cases against their racist voter restrictions.  Will the DOJ under Sessions drop all of those cases as well?

As you can see, the Liar in Chief says one thing all the while his administration is doing just the opposite thing behind the curtain.  That is not a very good start to a good government that will work for all of our citizens.

Trump laid out a very bleak and dark view of our country.  He started laying the foundation for his authoritarian government.  His DOJ request to delay a civil rights case tells me that is his main goal.

If you believed his line that the people will be the real rulers of the country, you need to wake up.  He is the only person who is intended, in his mind, to rule the country.

As the title says, actions speak louder than words.  You don’t need an amplifier to know that his actions are opposite of his words.

 

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Day 69.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Day 65

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Day 63

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Day 61

We hear the phrase “support our troops” all of the time.  Especially from Republicans and arm-chair patriots.  They seem to think that if they repeat that phrase a lot of times, people will actually believe they do support our troops.  But, support has nothing to do with words, it has everything to do with actions.

Which brings us to today.  The confirmation hearings for Trump’s cabinet nominees begin, except no one has accepted the position to run the Veteran’s Administration.  It seems that Trump cannot find anyone to carry out his agenda about the VA.

In case you forgot, during the campaign he said he was in favor of “privatizing” the VA.  He even thought it would be a good idea to voucherize it and make it work like the insurance industry.  The Wall Street Journal said it best last summer:

Donald Trump Adviser Signals Plan to Change Veterans’ Health Care

GOP front-runner would likely push VA toward privatization, shift to an insurance model.

Since he won the election, he has been looking for what can only be described as a “hatchet person” to undo the VA.  The VA does have some problems, especially with wait times.  However, if you look at the real picture you will discover that veterans are mostly happy with the service they receive from the VA.

In case you are wondering, VA still enjoys tremendous favorability among veterans who use its services, according to independent surveys. Not only that, but the VA consistently delivers a higher level of care than private hospitals, according to the RAND Corporation.  A bi-partisan poll found that a majority of veterans strongly opposes the privatization of the VA.

This opposition includes the VFW and the American Legion.  But what would veteran groups know about veteran health care?  Obviously, people like the Koch Brothers know a lot more than we veterans.

The idea to dismantle the VA and strangle and eliminate guaranteed care for veterans comes from the Koch Brothers and a group they founded called Concerned Veterans of America.

Here is how the plan would work.

First, much like school vouchers, VA insurance or care vouchers would be useful for those who could supplement them to get the kind of care they need. For those who couldn’t, they’d be left behind in a dreadfully underfunded VA.  Meaning they would not get the care they need.  Do you really think the awful numbers of veteran suicides would decline if every veteran couldn’t receive the care they need?

Second, it would put veterans in a system with a profit motive, not a care motive.  For all the issues facing the VA, the one thing that cannot be said about it is that it looks to cut costs by denying care — something that can not be said about the private care system.  Only Congress which holds the purse strings for the VA can cut spending for care.

Third, it would bleed the system dry, forcing mass closures of VA hospitals and care centers.  Those centers are specially qualified to handle the needs of veterans that many hospitals and doctors are not qualified to handle — from prosthetics to traumatic brain injuries to exposure to Agent Orange and burning oil fields.  I know that Doctors try their best.  However, without experience or specialized training it is true that not every neighborhood hospital is able to handle those unique needs.  And so, veterans would be left with a voucher and a message of “good luck finding someone who can care for your brain injury,” from Donald Trump.

To illustrate his problems, the Cleveland Clinic’s Toby Cosgrove (Trump’s rumored favorite for the job) told Trump “thanks, but no thanks.” Another top pick, Luis Quinonez turned down the job after meeting with Trump. Thus far, Donald Trump doesn’t seem to have found anyone qualified for the job. Maybe it’s because of what Trump has told his potential nominees what he wants to do to the VA.

I like to think that Mr. Cosgrove and Mr. Quinonez understand what Trump is trying to do to our veterans and are not interested in killing the VA and that is the reason they both turned down the job.  But that doesn’t mean the problem is going away anytime soon.

There are a few people eager to kill the VA and would be happy to be the one to do so like Koch-affiliated CVA Founder Pete Hegseth, failed former Senator Scott Brown, and half-term Governor Sarah Palin.

When we enter the service we are given several promises.  One of those promises is health care for the rest of our lives.  Since we are willing to place our lives on the line to serve our country, that isn’t too steep of a price for the country to pay.  But, using the Veterans Administration and its clinics and hospitals take profits away from health care companies.  It would appear that Trump and Republicans are more interested in those profits than caring for people who served their country.

Instead of eliminating the best health care for veterans they can get, the administration and Congress must expand its services.  Congress should provide it with the funds it needs to hire more doctors and staff, retain good doctors by offering competitive pay, and building more VA centers to deal with the influx of veterans who have entered the system as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And while that is happening, programs like Veterans Choice should remain in place, which temporarily allow veterans who have waited the longest to get full reimbursement for private care.

If you think Trump’s plan is just like Veterans Choice, think again.  He is not interested in veterans getting full reimbursement for the private care he wants to unleash on them.  He want to follow the normal insurance model of partial coverage and the veteran pays out-of-pocket for the rest.  And, with Republicans trying to hard to repeal the Affordable Care Act, most veterans needing this care would fall under the “pre-existing conditions” category.  That means their premiums and out-of-pocket expenses would go through the roof.

Today confirmation hearings are beginning for Trump’s cabinet.  Yet, the VA is sitting on the sidelines because Trump cannot find a qualified person to act as his hatchet person to kill the agency.  As a result no transition to a new team has even started at the VA.

Even before he takes the oath of office, veterans are losing under Donald Trump and his gang of thieves.  But don’t worry, I am sure he will find a nice war for us to be maimed, wounded, or killed in.  We just shouldn’t expect to be taken care of when we come home.

This is the way Trump and Republicans “support our troops”.  With friends like them offering such support, we don’t need anymore enemies.

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Day 55

The real problem with lying is that you have to keep track of your lies.  Otherwise they become a blur and you get confused about what lies you told, and which lies come together for a full story.

Our president-elect should know this better than anyone.  Yet, he has a problem.  He lies so much he can’t keep track of what lies he has told and how they mesh together.

Last week he said that we was going to meet with Intelligence Officials this week.  Then, he said that he “had information about Russia hacking our elections that no one else had.”  He then promised to let us know what that information was either Yesterday or Today.

I guess he got the two statements mixed up.  Because yesterday he tweeted that the Intelligence Briefing he said would be “this week” was “delayed” until Friday.  While he was tweeting this, the Director of Homeland Security and the FBI were getting ready to fly to New York on Friday to brief him on the intelligence that shows Russia was the guilty party.

His tweet actually read:

The ‘Intelligence’ briefing on so-called ‘Russian hacking’ was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!

In the meantime, he has not yet released the “information I have no one else has” to the public like he promised.  I guess he got confused, again, and is looking to divert his promise to release his own information.

Besides, if he has information no one else has, where did he get it?  If he hasn’t seen the intelligence reports about the hacking, and hasn’t attended any briefings about the hack, how can he have any information?  Unless he got it from Putin.

I am sure that the entire world will believe what Putin has to say about the issue.  I am certain that Putin will look Trump in the eye and say “I don’t know anything about it” and Trump will believe him.  No one else in the world will believe him, but Trump will.

There are two things about this president-elect that I find interesting.  The first is his constant pounding of the very intelligence agencies he is going to head up.  Oh, yes, he keeps bringing up the “weapons of mass destruction” lie that got us into the Iraq war as his evidence, but you have to remember, it wasn’t the CIA saying that to the world, it was the Bush Administration, mostly Dick Cheney.

It is the job of the intelligence agencies to gather the information and present it to the President.  It is up to the President how to use that information, and whether or not to lie about it.  If you are itching for a war, you lie about it.

And, if Trump is such an expert in cyber security, why does he always tell us his 10 year-old son knows more about computers than he does?  That tells me that he doesn’t know anything about computers and probably uses his 10 year-old son to operate his remote control for his television because he can’t figure that out either.

The second thing that bothers me is his love affair with Putin and Russia.  In my 66 years of living, I have never seen an American president fall in love with a country that is considered as our “enemy” as Trump has with Russia.

Russia is run by the former head of the KGB.  In case Trump has forgotten, the KGB was the major spy agency for the former Soviet Union.  He made a living trying to destroy us.  What makes Trump think he has had a change of heart now?

If Putin and Russia were charged in a U.S. Court for the crime of hacking, they would not need hire an attorney.  Trump and his transition team are better “public defenders” for them than any attorney could be.

No matter how you slice it, Trump can’t keep his lies in order.  He tweets so much he forgets what he said before.  He was willing to lie his way into the White House, and he is apparently willing to keep lying no matter what.

I am a progressive person.  I am a 20 year veteran.  I don’t like war unless it is absolutely necessary.  But, I do know that we need our intelligence agencies.  They need to be watched so they don’t abuse their powers, but they are needed.  And, if the information they present is not what you want to hear, it doesn’t make it wrong.

There are rogues in every agency.  However, the vast majority of people who work in our intelligence agencies only look for the facts and tell like it is.  They do not sugar coat the message to appease an administration.  If Trump wants to hear only what he wants to hear, then he is interested in having a KGB instead of a CIA or NSA.

Somehow I cannot imagine what it is like to go through life lying every single day.  Maybe the lessons I learned about integrity are too deep for me to even try to lie so much. It seems very easy to Trump.

Whenever something good happens it is all because of Trump.  Whenever something bad happens it is always some else’s fault.  His inauguration is sixteen days away, and we still don’t know how he plans to divest all of his holdings so there is no conflict of interest.  That is if he even will attempt to divest himself.

We were supposed to learn that last month.  We still don’t know when he will tell us.  Yes, he announced a press conference for January 11, but he never said what it will entail.

My suggestion to Donald Trump is if you are going to continue to lie to the American people, have at least enough smarts to reread your tweets for the previous week so you can keep your lies together.

Imagine, this clown is going to lead our country and be given highly classified material in order to do his job.  Now that is scary.

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