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Day 155. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Day 153. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

 

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Day 152. 

If you are one of those who believe that we are living in a police state, the incident on a United Flight from Chicago to Louisville the other day is more ammunition for you.  If you believe that we live in a country that is run by corporations, the same is true.  If you believe that we live in a free society, then maybe you should rethink that belief.

Here is a brief description of what happened, according to what I have read so far.  United Airlines is known for over booking their flights.  Over booking is an airline’s way to help ensure that they are flying with nearly full if not completely full airplanes.  When this happens, they usually ask for volunteers to give up their seats for “compensation”.  However, that compensation is often less than what the law says they must pay.

We will get back to that in a little bit.  So, on this particular flight, an air crew arrived at the gate and needed to get to their next airport to fly another plane.  Their airline asked people to voluntarily give up their seats.  Not enough people volunteered.  So, the airline invoked what is known as “involuntary deplaning”.

One of the passengers who was told to get off the plane refused.  So, the crew called the airport police to remove the person from the plane.  Here is where it gets a little fuzzy.  According to reports the passenger told police that he was a doctor and had to get back home.  They refused to listen.  Then, according to the video circulating, a police officer forcibly tried to remove the man from his seat, and he began screaming.

The man is a 69-year-old Asian man.  He was forcibly thrown out of his seat and he clearly hit his head of the arm rest of the seat across the aisle.  Then you see the police officer literally drag the person from the plane.  A later video shows the man running back on the plan saying “I have to get home”.  There is obvious blood on the man’s face, and he seems disoriented.

After the video went viral, the CEO of United Airlines apologized, but didn’t really apologize.  In an internal memo, he actually claimed that the Airline and the Airport Police acted properly and that he was standing by his staff.

This is what happens when we give up our rights and our money.  When you purchase an airline ticket you go to the airport with full anticipation that you will board your flight and arrive at your destination on time.  But, the law says otherwise.  Your “reservation” is not really a reservation.  It is just something that says you may get your seat on your scheduled flight.

However, there are some caveats that go with the law.  If you do not volunteer to get off the plane, the airline is required to pay you in cash for you inconvenience.  If you are rebooked on a plane that arrives at your destination between one and two hours after your scheduled flight, you are to be paid 200 times the cost of your ticket.  If you are scheduled to arrive more than two hours late, they are required to pay you 400 times the price of your ticket, up to $1350.

The funny thing is that they don’t tell yo that.  They try to buy you off with “flight ticket credits” or offer less money than they are required.  Which is why experts say never voluntarily give up your seat.  Make the airline pay you what they are supposed to pay you under the law.

However, this situation goes beyond this matter of law.  There are a lot of questions that go into their “involuntary deplaning” selection process.  As it turns out, this man was an Asian American.  Why was he singled out?  Was it because he was Asian?  I am not saying that was the case, but the question needs to be asked.  Additionally, he was a senior citizen.  Was that why he was singled out?

Why was it so important to select this man and not simply try to entice another passenger to get off by explaining he would get proper compensation under the law?  If it is true that he told them he was a doctor and really needed to get back to Louisville, then why go through all the bother.

United Airlines is guilty of being one of the most overbooked airlines in the country.  Their bump rate is about 21 times higher than the lowest among airlines.  Delta is even worse with a rate about 30 times higher.  And, if you are mad now, believe me you will get even madder when it happens to you.

As I mentioned above, there is no way to tell how an airline decides who should get bumped and who should not.  We know for example, that if you are a member of their “frequent flyer” program, you will not be involuntarily bumped.  So we know automatically that they do target the casual or “vacation” flyer.

That is a problem because I know people who were booked on cruises and missed the cruise because the airline bumped them off of flights they had paid tickets to be on.

On one hand I understand why airlines over book their flights.  However, as the economy picks up and more and more people are flying, they should adjust their over booking rates so this doesn’t happen as much as it does.  But they don’t.  They just keep over booking at the rates they used when the economy was worse and fewer people were actually flying.

However, part of this problem is also our fault.  We have ceded our rights to corporations in order to get to where we are going.  It has gotten so bad, that it is a federal crime to disobey a flight attendant.  We don’t want unruly passengers on our flight, so we allow a flight attendant to tell a passenger anything they want, if that passenger doesn’t immediately comply, they can be charged with a federal crime.

I can understand if that passenger is endangering everyone else.  But in this case, the man was not endangering anyone.  According to the video, the man did not become belligerent or start screaming until a police officer physically tried to grab him and forcibly remove him from the plane.

Our beloved leader says he is going to bring back “law and order”.  This is a perfect example of what happens when we allow our political leaders and our corporations to determine just what “law and order” is.

The laws governing over booking on airline flights need to be changed.  The definition of what really constitutes “disobeying a flight attendant” needs to be reexamined to determine if it has gone too far, which I believe it has.

We also need to know exactly how an airline determines who should get thrown off their flight and why they are being chosen.  Should we really be picking on elderly people?  Should we really be targeting minorities?  Just what determines why you should have to deplane and someone next to you doesn’t.

I used to do a lot of flying when I was in the business world.  Fortunately for me,  was a “frequent flyer” and was never forced to involuntarily deplane a flight.  But, I did often wonder just how passengers were selected for this dubious privilege.  I even saw couples split up because one was selected and the other was not.

When you purchase an airline ticket, you expect that your money is good enough and you won’t be inconvenienced by the airline just because. Only that is not the way of the airline world.   Instead, when you purchase your ticket to go on a cruise vacation, or to see your child get married, you are at the mercy of the airline.  If they over book and someone of “more importance” than you needs that seat, you lose.

Yes, there are laws about being compensated, but the airlines don’t tell you about them so they don’t have to pay you the money.  Why isn’t that a requirement laid out in the law?  Because airlines and their profits are more important to Congress than you are.

This situation is not something that is unusual.  It may be unusual because it was video taped and the world got to see the obnoxious behavior of the airport police.  But, getting bumped off flights is an ongoing thing you just don’t usually hear about.

It is also a simple snapshot of today’s country.  There have been many “advertisement” parodies popping up like “you carry them on, we carry you off”.  But, to me it says “do as you are told, or else”.  We have gotten to the point where everyone is treated like a child who misbehaves.  The difference is if we treated a child who is misbehaving like the police treated this elderly man, we would face child abuse charges.

Before you go off on this man for “not doing what he was told”, think about if that was you and you needed to get home.  What would you have done?  What if it meant that you would miss your cruise ship?  What if it meant that you would miss your child’s wedding?

Besides, what gives an airline the right to deny you a seat you paid for if you haven’t done anything wrong?  And before you use the old conservative argument that “flying is a privilege” save your breath.  When I purchase a ticket, it is no longer a privilege.  I paid the money, it is up to the company to honor the their end of the bargain.

More importantly, you need to ask just how far are we supposed to let companies treat us in this fashion?  Where will it all end?  This isn’t going to end with airlines.  What will you do the next time you plop down 35,000 hard-earned dollars to purchase a new care and then be told you have to wait an extra three weeks because someone more important needs that car more than you do and you already sold your old car?

The problem is that I don’t expect our Congress or even our beloved leader to saying anything about his or try to change the laws that allow it to happen.  And, that is the real tragic part of this whole sickening tragedy.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

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Day 145. 

I am sorry, but last’s night game between North Carolina and Gonzaga was a perfect example of what is wrong with major sports in today’s society.  It was a perfect example of mediocrity trumping excellence.  And, I am not speaking about the teams.

Last night three men went to the arena and sat in a dressing room waiting for tipoff.  The eventually got dressed in their striped shirts and went out on the floor for what should have been a great basketball game to watch.

If you happened to miss the game, don’t be too sad, the three people who were supposed to referee the game missed it too.  That was without doubt the most pathetic example of how to referee a basketball game I have seen in a very long time.

For some unknown reason, these three morons decided that they were going to be the center of the game.  They interfered with the pace and play of the game to a point where neither team knew what to expect next.  I am used to the usual favoritism that often comes across in games such as this.  Especially when North Carolina is involved.

But, last night’s game was not so much a case of favoritism, but rather a case of incompetence.  Those three officials should be forced to return the pay they received or be charged with felony theft.  They stunk up the place.

On one hand, it was almost expected.  The game of basketball used to be a game of finesse, beauty, grace, and skill.  But, as with most other games, it has lost those wonderful athletic skills.  Over the years, the game has changed to a point where we aren’t even watching basketball anymore.

The rules have changed to a point where it is almost impossible to play defense anymore.  Simple point, just because someone tries to reach in and knock the ball away does not make the act an automatic foul as it is today.  The rules have favored the offense just so scores will go up and more casual fans will watch.  You almost never see a player called for traveling anymore.  The “offensive” foul has all but gone away, except the most obvious ones.  Referees don’t even watch the game close enough to determine who is out-of-bounds and who isn’t.

I used to referee high school basketball.  I know the rules and I know how a game is supposed to be officiated.  What I saw last night was a perfect example of how not to officiate a game.

I don’t necessarily blame the players for the awful changes to the game.  I mostly blame the league officials who constantly change the rules for no particular reason and I blame the coaches for not teaching the real game.  I also blame places like ESPN and Fox Sports for showcasing some of the easiest plays and raving over how wonderful it was.

For example, I am not impressed with someone who can do a 360 slam dunk.  Whoopee!  It counts for two points and there really isn’t any skill involved.  If you are 6 foot 4 or taller and can’t dunk a basketball, you probably shouldn’t be on the team.

I especially hate it when someone does what is called a “monster dunk” and then poses trying to show off how tough he is.  Even when his team is trailing by 20 points with about 5 minutes left in the game.

They behave this way because that is what will get their face on ESPN or Fox Sports or some other sports station.  Team be damned, I want my face time on TV.

Even with “replay” available, the refs still get the call wrong.  Last night in a critical point in the game, a North Carolina player had his hand clearly out-of-bounds when he had possession of the ball on the floor.  The refs blew the call.

Last night could have and should have been a great game between two very talented and highly skilled teams.  But, three men decided that everyone was paying to watch them make a mess of the game and called an horrendous game.

Last night also proved that you don’t have to be a member of one of the so-called “power conferences” to make it to the finals.  Gonzaga did themselves proud last night, and they have nothing to hang their heads about.

I know and expect that in all things change is inevitable.  However, change in sports should only be made when those changes will make the game better, not worse.  So far, I believe the changes to basketball have made the game worse, and have given rise to the glory hungry referees who believe they can do no wrong.

Basketball is not alone.  I am an avid baseball fan.  This year, MLB made a change that I consider the most stupid and reckless change they have made in a long time.  They decided that if you want to intentionally walk a batter, you just tell the umpire and the batter gets first base automatically.  They claim the change would speed up the game.

However, they also forgot that there have been many times when during an intentional walk situation, the pitcher threw the pitch to the back screen and the winning run scored.  Or, the pitch was too close to the plate and the batter hit it out of the park.  Or, how about the time when the reds played a trick on Carlton Fisk during the World Series at a critical point in the game.  With a 3-2 count, the catcher indicated an intentional walk on the next pitch.  Fisk relaxed and the catcher crouched behind the plate and Fisk took strike three thinking he was being walked. With this rule change, that can no longer happen and the fans miss out on something possible that can change the outcome of the game. I say shame on baseball for even thinking about changing that rule.

So despite the fact that I absolutely despise North Carolina basketball, congratulations to them for winning the national title.  Only, I can’t help but feel that those three incompetent referees stole a potentially great game from us.  Fans around the country should be outraged by their conduct.

 

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Day 145. 

Monday has come and gone, and things are getting even worse for the average person in America.  One of the first things trump did was sign the bill that allows ISPs to make money off of you without your consent.  He signed the bill that allows them to sell your personal information, including browsing history, to anyone they want to as long as they pay the price.

Not only is this law an invasion of your privacy, one right going away under trump, but it also steals from you.  Yes, I said it steals from you.  Under this bill, if an ISP gets a high bid for your browsing history, they can sell it and not give you a dime in compensation.  I don’t know about you, but I consider that theft of my money!  If an ISP sells my information to some advertiser, they should have to compensate me with a commission on that sale price.

The odd thing is that over 75 percent of the American people were opposed to this bill.  Over 72 percent of trump voters were opposed to this bill.  Shows just what trump thinks about us and his voters.  So under this bill, we lose our right to privacy and we lose our right to make money off of our use of the internet.  We lose two rights in one bill.

Then he decided that women in the workplace, especially those who work for government contractors don’t need to be paid fairly or protected.  He rolled back the Obama Rule that made federal government contractors be transparent with their pay and not be allowed to use “secret arbitration” for sexual harassment or sexual discrimination cases.

The law required contractors to report pay to the government so they could ensure that women are paid the same rate as a male counterpart doing the exact same work.  It took away the arbitration part because under it, companies could hide any sexual discrimination or sexual harassment cases from the public.

The purpose of this law was to make sure that “companies acting badly” cannot make huge amounts of money off of the tax payer.  It told contractors that they had to follow the law in all aspects or they would not lose their contracts.  If a contractor had a history of violations, they would be refused the ability to even bid on a new contract before fixing all of their violations.

Sounds reasonable to me.  Why should the tax payers be forced to pay contractors who abuse their workers?  Well, trump has decided that is exactly what the tax payer should do.  They should be forced to use their tax dollars to pay contractors who cheat, steal, or hide sexual harassment or sexual discrimination.  In other words, trump says if you treat your employees like slaves, that should not keep you from making money off of the government.

So, when it comes to government contractors, trump is saying they don’t have to follow any laws to protect employees.  Especially female employees.  The barbarians are going to be allowed to remain barbarians and still get fat government checks.  How wonderful for the average American.

Then last night it came out that the “repeal and replace” of the ACA has been put on life-support.  It was announced that our vice president mike pence is negotiating with those wacky guys in the so-called freedom caucus.  He is trying to get their support so some version of the bill can pass.  And, in order to keep the moderate Republicans who supported the bill, they are using a nice semantics game that will cause a lot more harm that the original bill did.

The final version of the “bill” hasn’t been made up yet, but there are two parts that came out that show just how heartless these miserable bastards really are.  And, the chances are these changes will have very negative effects on you or a family member if it passes.

The first thing they want to do is claim they will allow those with pre-existing conditions to keep purchasing health insurance.  But, in a nice switcheroo, they are going to allow states to “opt out” of that requirement as long as they have “high risk pools”.

Here is how it would work.  It would allow states to not use community rating.  Under this rule in the ACA, insurance companies are not allowed to charge people more money than anyone else in their age bracket.  Meaning, if you have a pre-existing condition, you cannot be charged more than someone who is healthy and the same age.  That is the basic principle of insurance of any kind.  Spreading the risk and costs.  Under this bill, states could change that part of the law so people with pre-existing conditions would not “technically” be denied coverage, they would simply be charged a whole lot more in premium costs and deductibles.

For example, if a woman is diagnosed with cancer, she would be able to purchase coverage at high rates.  But, the insurance carrier could also say they won’t cover chemotherapy.  So, she would have health insurance, but not the ability to receive the treatment she needs to get healthy.  Unless of course she has lots of money.  In other words, she will probably die.

You must also go back before the ACA to fully understand this problem.  It is not just related to serious life-threatening diseases that everyone wants to talk about.  Prior to the ACA if you didn’t get insurance through your employer, you could not get insurance if you had a pre-existing condition like allergies or arthritis.  If states are allowed to use “high risk pools” to cover people with pre-existing conditions, millions of people will probably be priced out of the market.

The other part of the bill would allow states to change the state requirement for insurance carriers so they don’t have to cover the 10 essential coverages as required under the ACA.  States under the ACA can still opt out of this requirement if they can show that an alternative program would cover as many people with comprehensive coverage at a lower cost to the government.  Not one state has been able to meet that requirement.  So, not one state has been able to “opt out”.

The evil freedom caucus leader, Representative Meadows from the Soviet Socialist State of North Carolina, says:

The fundamental idea is that marginally sick people would pay the risk associated with their coverage.  Those that have premiums that would be driven up because of catastrophic illness or long-term illness, we’ve been dealing with that for a long time with high-risk pools.

Yeah, they have been dealing with that for a long time.  Under the old rules, insurance companies charged sky-high premiums, extremely high deductibles, and had lifetime limits on how much they would be forced to pay before they dropped you like a rock.  Additionally, insurance companies would not cover your pre-existing condition for six months to one year.  And, in some areas, there were waiting lists you went on before you could even buy insurance.

The original Americans Without Health Care Act was going to toss about 24 million people from their insurance.  This new version with these wonderful satanic changes will toss even more people off their insurance.  See, there are two ways to reduce the health care coverage rolls.  Simply cut things like Medicaid and by making those damned sick people pay through their nose to a point they cannot afford coverage.

I wrote once before that Republicans understood our real problem when it came to health care coverage.  The problem as they understood it is that “too damn many people have health insurance”.  So, they came up with the Americans Without Health Care Act to trim those rolls.  When it crashed and burned, they had to go to the crazies in their party to make the bill even worse for the average person.  All in the name of tax cuts for the wealthy.

If these changes are accepted and put in the bill and passes, Republicans will deal a double whammy on the health care coverage of Americans.  They will get rid of many who rely on Medicaid, and they will get rid of the sick bastards that are driving up their costs.  The two ways to reduce the health care rolls in one bill.  Nice!

Who will be the people most affected by this evil bill?”  Those wonderful people who voted for trump believing his lies about making sure that “everyone is covered under my great health plan”.  Most of his voters in rural areas will be the first to lose their insurance.

During the campaign trump said he would “make America great again”.  What his devoted followers didn’t realize was that he didn’t mean “great” for them.  He meant “great” for the rich and the corporations.

To put it in very crass terms, trump voters are nothing but “cannon fodder” in his war against our democracy.  There were three things that trump did yesterday that puts this on full display.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

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Day 141. 

If anyone is looking to get into politics, the election of 2016 should really teach you one thing.  Be careful of what you say because if you are not careful, it just might come back to bite you in the ass.

This week has been a doozy.  The last 24 hours have really turned up the heat on trump and his administration.  First, it came out that the people that Rep. Nunes used to get his “information” to prove that trump was at least partially right about his “wires tapped” tweet, was none other than administration officials.

The other day, Sean Spicer made a comment from the podium during one of his press briefings.  He said:

If Nunes got his information at the White House and then came back the next day to brief the president, it wouldn’t pass the smell test.

For once Spicer actually told the truth.  Unfortunately for him, it doesn’t smell too good right now in the West Wing.  Turns out from a New York Times report, and not denied by the White House, the people who helped Nunes get his “information” are White House officials.

One is Ezra Cohen-Watnick.  He is the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council.  The other is Michael Ellis, who is a lawyer working at the White House Counsel’s Office on national security issues and who worked as general counsel on Nunes’ House Intelligence Committee.

You may remember Ezra Cohen-Watnick.  He was brought into the National Security Council by Flynn.  McMasters who is now the National Security Advisor tried to reassign him away from the council.  Cohen-Watnick cried to Kushner and Bannon.  They went to trump who promptly overruled McMasters and kept him in the position.

From what we can glean right now, it kind of went like this.  On Monday, Comey said there was an open counter intelligence investigation into the trump campaign for possible cooperation with Russia in hacking our elections.  Then on Wednesday Nunes disappeared from one cab without telling anyone where he was going.  This came immediately after he received a message on his phone.

On Thursday Nunes held an impromptu presser to announced he had new information about the investigation about trump tower being wire tapped.  He then hopped in a car and drove down to the White House to “brief” the president.  He held another presser at the White House to confirm that he had this information and felt the President should know about it.  He did say that the information was not “involved in the Russia investigation” and it was all legal behavior.

It turns out, that these two White House employees has scoured classified information looking for “back up” info about trump’s tweet.  When they found whatever they found, they immediately informed Nunes and they were the ones who let him in the White House and signed him into the SCIF to see the information.

Then yesterday, Spicer said that the administration had previously sent a letter to the committees in Congress telling them of this “information” and asked them to “come down to the White House” to view it.  The ranking Democrat on the House committee said that he did not receive the letter until just before the press briefing.  The letter wasn’t even written until the New York Times story broke.

No one other than Nunes has seen this “information”.  I give the Senate Committee credit.  They told the White House to send the information to them at Capital Hill.  They don’t believe it is proper to go to the White House to investigate the White House.  Too bad Nunes doesn’t have the same integrity.  As Spicer said, this “doesn’t pass the smell test”.

To show his support for Nunes, rep Yoho, yes that is his name, said it was proper for Nunes to do what he did because he “works for the president’.  May Rep. Yoho should change his name to Yoyo.  Since when does a member of Congress “work for the president”?

Then late yesterday, it was reported that Mike Flynn “has a story to tell and he wants to tell it”.  But, he will only “tell his story” if he gets immunity from possible criminal prosecution.  Which us back to his quote in the banner.

That quote was a snippet from a quote he gave to Meet the Press back in September.  He was complaining that “five people who worked for Clinton received immunity for their cooperation.”  He then followed it up with the  quote about “you probably committed a crime”.

His lawyer admitted that they are seeking immunity.  They are trying to make it sound different from the Clinton investigations though.  They claim he needs immunity to “escape possible wrongful prosecution in the politically charged witch hunt environment”.  Like the Clinton investigations had no smell of being a politically charged witch hunt.

From what we can tell, Flynn is seeking immunity from both committees in Congress, and from the FBI.  If you look at Flynn all by himself, he probably needs immunity.  It turns out that while he was working on the trump campaign and while he was sitting in with trump for his daily intelligence briefings, he was being paid by the Turkish government as an agent to help them in the U.S.  He did not disclose that information until just this month.

So, in essence we had what can only be called a “secret agent” for a foreign country sitting in on highly classified intelligence briefings.  Many people could easily call that behavior treason.

Then we have his security clearance while National Security Advisor.  If he had put his lobbying (agent) activities for Turkey on his form, he probably would never have been granted his clearance to fill the position as National Security Advisor.  Which tells me he lied on his form.  That is a felony.

Then what few people talk about is his possible problems with the Pentagon.  Few people understand that once you retire from the military, you are not necessarily free from military justice.  Nor do must people understand that there are time frames when you must still seek approval if you plan to visit a country that is considered an adversary, which Russia is.  The time period depends on your rank and security clearances when you retire.

Flynn went to Russia shortly after he retired.  And, from what we know, he did not receive clearance from the Pentagon before his trip.  We also know that several officials in the Pentagon are not happy with Flynn’s trip.  It is also reported that he is facing an investigation there for his actions on his Russia trip.

If the Pentagon wants, they could still Court Martial him over failing to get clearance before going to Russia.  If that happens, he could have his separation changed to “dishonorable” and he could lose his pension and benefits.  So, as you can see it is very possible that Flynn does need immunity.

The real question is how man other of trump’s former cronies are going to seek the same thing.  Immunity for testimony.  The administration has worked feverishly over the past few weeks to distance themselves from people like Roger Stone, Page, and especially Manafort.  How long before we see people like these decide enough is enough.  They worked for the man and now he is throwing them under the bus to save his own skin.

You have heard the old saying of “honor among thieves”.  My experience dealing with thieves is that the saying is a myth.  Even Mafia insiders will turn on their families to save their own skin  Is Flynn the first to turn against trump to save himself?  Or, is this another ruse being put forth by trump and his crooks to cover up their activities and connections to Russia.  Are they placing Flynn out there to get “immunity” and then not really have a “story to tell” except how trump is the victim without any proof again?

Yes, that is a very dark theory to have, but this administration has proven to us that they will do anything to look good.  They will do anything to make sure that all fault for anything falls somewhere else.  In short, they cannot be trusted in anything.

Yes, this week has been a real doozy.  And it is only Friday.  Who knows what today will bring.  As we watch all of this play out, my cynical and ghoulish instincts makes me wonder one thing.

Is all of this being orchestrated by trump to help set up his authoritarian government?  Look at what happened in Venezuela yesterday.  Their top court decided that their legislature was too much against the dictator and said that the legislature no longer existed and they, the court, would decide which laws should be passed.

If trump gets to stack the Supreme Court, are we looking at the same type of ruling?  I told you I was cynical and ghoulish.  But, this horrible play trump has unloaded on us has all the earmarks of what happened there.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

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Day 140. 

I know that a lot of people may take exception to that question.  I also know that the knee-jerk reaction is “what the hell is he talking about?”  I hope both assumptions are correct, because it is time we have a real discussing about this issue.

I have been around for some time, and I have seen politicians come and go.  I saw the Civil Rights fights that led to the Civil Rights Bill.  I saw the conflicts that led to the Voting Rights Act.  I was part of the anti-war protests over the Vietnam War in the sixties.

I watched George Wallace bring his bigotry to the national debate with his independent run for the Presidency.  I watched as the old Dixiecrats all began to fade away the leave government either by retiring or dying.  I served under five different presidents with varying views of civil rights.  But, everyone of them loved America and American democracy in their own ways.  Even Richard Nixon.

Things were getting better.  Life was getting better for everyone.  Americans were beginning to feel good about themselves again.  Then, something happened and I cannot put my finger on exactly what that was.   In my view it started with Ronald Reagan.  It was Reagan who started coining the term “welfare queen”.

When Reagan was President, we had Iran Contra where his administration broke a real law by selling guns to Iran in order to raise money to fund the Contras in Central America which was breaking another law.

Several of Reagan’s people wound up in jail over the incident, but Reagan escaped untouched.  Then after Bill Clinton was elected, things got real nasty.  Clinton was actually impeached because he had sex with an intern in a consensual relationship.  What was his “impeachable” offense?  He lied about it, like every Republican who also got caught in affairs.

George W. Bush took us to war.  I didn’t have a problem with the war in Afghanistan since that was where the terrorists who committed the atrocious act of 9/11 were.  However, that wasn’t good enough for W.  He wanted to take out Iraq too.  As a result, it turns out he lied about getting us into the war.  He said over and over that Iraq had weapons of “mass destruction” and that was the justification for his war.

After the war, we found out that he did lie to us because Iraq did not have any weapons of mass destruction.  It was “proven beyond a reasonable doubt” that the President lied to the American people to start a war and kill hundreds of thousands of people.

The Republican Party began using lies as the only way to speak to the American People.  In the past, they used to wrap it up in “patriotic” language.  They would say things like “I am only dong what the American People want”.  or, “That is what the American People elected us to do”.

And they proved all of this was a big lie too.  When the Sandy Hook massacre took place, 70 percent of the American people wanted reasonable gun control laws.  The one they most wanted was a universal background check law.  The Republicans voted it down with “I am only doing what the American people want” lie.

We have started seeing more and more legal discrimination laws being passed, especially at the state level.  Republican state after Republican state are passing anti-abortion laws, voter restriction laws, anti-LGBT laws, and anti-local rule laws.

They have been trying their best to masquerade these laws as “liberty defense” bills.  For example, they claim that the anti-abortion laws are not intended for anything but “protecting woman’s health”.  Bullshit, they are intended to make safe and legal abortions unlawful.

They tell us that we need Photo IDs in order to vote.  Then they look at the types of photo IDs people have and the ones that are mostly used by non-whites or by the elderly or by young people, become not “authorized” as proper photo ids.  Then just to make sure no one can get around this, they shut down the government services, like Driver’s Licenses offices is areas that are primarily minority.  Making them drive or hitch a ride up to 250 miles to get the ID required to vote.

They pass laws they call “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” claiming that “Christians are being persecuted”.  They claim these laws are necessary because Christians cannot act like Christians anymore and everyone is “picking on us”.

But when you look at the laws, you discover the only purpose of them is to allow people to legally discriminate against any minority they want under the guise of “religious belief”.  They mainly targeted the LGBT community and tried to make it possible that a bakery could discriminate against a same-sex couple and not sell them a cake for their wedding.

Under this hateful behavior, they claim that if a baker must sell a cake to such people they would be “endorsing” the same-sex marriage.  BULLSHIT!  That is like saying that if you sell a cake to a member of the Chinese Embassy, you are endorsing Communism.  Or if you sell a cake to a member of the Iranian Government visiting America, you are endorsing the Iranian political agenda.

The only reason for these RFRA laws is simply to allow “government sponsored discrimination” against minorities.  Maybe they were only targeting the LGBT community, but every minority faces the same hate under these hateful laws.

Republicans claim they are the party that “wants government out of our lives”.  They claim to be the “small government” party.  Only their actions show otherwise.  When it comes to ensuring their pet projects get to see the light of day, they are more than willing to let government tell you what to do.

During the ongoing fight over the ACA, Republicans say they want the government out of the way and not get in the way of you and your doctor.  But, they are more than willing to tell doctors what they can and cannot do if a woman wants to talk about abortion or birth control.

Several Republican states passed laws “requiring” ultrasounds before an abortion could be performed.  Not because they were necessary for the woman’s health, but because they showed the fetus and they hoped that would change people’s minds.

They pass laws, like in Utah the other day, that are very dangerous to women’s health and even their lives.  They passed a law that says doctors “must inform women that after the first of two medications to perform an abortion is given, she can change her mind after the first medication was given and the abortion would be reversed”.  That is absolute nonsense and very dangerous to the health of the woman.

They pass laws like HB2 here in North Carolina.  This bill has several effects on our citizens.  First it mandates who is female and who is male.  It then says that you can only use a bathroom that matches the sex on your birth certificate.  It also says that local governments, like the city of Charlotte, does not have the power to modify this law in any way.

It does not recognize the LGBT community as a protected group under the Civil Rights laws.  It is still legal for a company to fire you simply because you are an LGBT person.  No other reason, just because you are gay.  But, Republicans say they are protecting “civil rights” of all of our citizens.

There is a push to reverse this horrible law, but the “compromise” they are announcing today is not very good and keeps in place the rule that local governments cannot pass their own laws or protecting LGBT from being fired just because they are gay.  The only reason this repeal is even being considered is because the Republicans are afraid the NCAA will lock them out of hosting any part of the tournament through 2022.  Since this law was passed by our Politburo the state has lost about $3.1 billion.

Republicans claim that women’s health care is very important to them.  Yet, they have been on a mission to destroy women’s health issues in insurance.  They have been making it difficult for women to get coverage for birth control in their “standard” health care coverage.

They have been going after Planned Parenthood for decades.  They don’t like the idea that you can get an abortion at Planed Parenthood.  So, they are lying to the American people telling them that Planned Parenthood is using federal dollars to perform those abortions.  Only that is untrue and illegal.

They latched onto the phony “sting videos” that claim that Planned Parenthood was “selling body parts” of fetus tissue after an abortion to “make money”.  The videos were proven to be heavily edited and fake.  That didn’t stop Republicans.  They insisted that Planed Parenthood be investigated.  So, many states did just that.

Problem came up.  After dozens of investigations, it was discovered the Planned Parenthood was not “selling baby parts” and they were doing absolutely nothing illegal.  The thing was someone was doing something illegal.  The people who made the videos.

In Texas, the City of Houston brought charges against them.  Felony charges.  Then just this week, California charged the makers of the video with 23 felony charges!  So, Republicans demanded investigations, but now that the only crimes found were by the people who made the videos, they are mysteriously silent.

Still, in the Americans Without Health Care Act that crashed and burned last week, one of the biggest things and most loved part of the bill by Republicans was the defunding of Planned Parenthood.  Again, Republicans say, “that is what Americans sent us to do”.

Only 70 percent of the American People do not want the government to defund Planed Parenthood.  7 in 10 people know that the services that Planed Parenthood offer are only offered by them.  Poor women and poor working women get their health care from Planned Parenthood.  Including cancer screenings, STD prevention and treatment, birth control, and a whole host of other services.

Did you know for example that unwanted pregnancies and abortions, especially among teenaged women and poor women are at their lowest in decades?  Did you also know that these women get birth control form Planed Parenthood and if you remove those services, unwanted pregnancies will increase.  How can you care about women’s health when you want to allow more unwanted pregnancies rather than fewer.

When you look at the whole picture, you have to wonder why today’s Republicans hate America and American democracy so much?  What indoctrination did they go through in order to become so anti-American?

In 2016, it was shown that Russia interfered in our elections.  But, even with this very serious problem, Republicans don’t seem too interested in getting to the bottom of the problem.  They are definitely putting party ahead of country.  Why?

Well if you are a conservative, you claim they are following “conservative principles”.  But, Ayn Rand had no “conservative principles” she only had selfish principles and Ryan is a huge follower if her principles.

If you are a Conservative Christian you will claim they are “protecting” Christian values.  I don’t know any true “Christians” who believe we should abandon the weak and the poor and the sick.  So there are no Christian values in their laws.  Only hate.

If you are a “small government” Republican you will claim they are trying to get government off of our backs and let us live in freedom.  Only,the laws they are passing have nothing to do with individual freedom.  They onely increase discrimination on minorities and favor corporate profits.

These factions of the Republican party are kidding themselves.  Today’s Republican Party is interested in power, and not for the People of America.  They are interested in their power, and mostly in the power of the American Corporations.  They want an Oligarchy.

That is why it is so easy for them to lie and lie and lie.  It is the reason they won’t answer a direct question with a direct answer.  Our current Republican beloved leader claimed he would work for “the average American”.  But, so far, he has only worked for corporations and the Republicans love him for it.

Today’s Republican Party is interested in destroying our democracy.  They are interested in removing civil rights for the people.  They are interested in destroying the middle-class because they are a threat to the oligarchs.

Today’s Republican Party is more enthralled with the way Putin runs Russia than in keeping our country a free country under a great Constitution.  They see the Russian Oligarchs getting richer and richer at the detriment of every other Russian, and that is what today’s Republicans want in America.

Somewhere along the path of our nation, the Republican lost their way.  Somehow they emerged out of a forest, and we discovered they were a lot more greedy and power-hungry than before.  Hate, greed, and discrimination are the Party’s mantra and their religious creed.

Are these the reasons why today’s Republican party hates America and American Democracy so much?  Are they the reasons this Republican Party has passed more intrusive laws against average Americans than any other party in our history?  You don’t do that if you love you country.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

 

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