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Day 68.

We are beginning to see who is the next target in Trump’s attempt to establish his authoritarian government.  And, of course, it is the free press.  If you want to establish an authoritarian government you must control the media.  If you can’t control it, you simply set up a propaganda arm of the government and refuse to talk to the free press.

We saw an example of that with his so-called press conference last week.  The room was full of paid staff and supporters who were more than willing to boo hard questions from the real press and cheer his campaign zingers as if he was right.

He refused to take follow-up questions if they challenged his honesty, which is a constant problem in covering this little boy.  In an atmosphere of anti-press, it was very easy for him to refuse to take questions from anyone who wrote something he didn’t like.  In a press room with just journalists you can’t get away with that.

The idiocy of calling the press “dishonest” all of the time is starting to take its toll on both the press and on Trump.  He seems almost afraid to face the journalists whose job it is to get facts on any story.  That is understandable since Trump doesn’t usually deal in facts.

Taking a cue from their so-called press conference, the incoming administration is ramping up the heat on the press.  First they announced that they would hold press conferences in the Eisenhower Office Building across the street so they could “accommodate four times a many journalists than they can in the press briefing room”.

That is a bogus argument since what they really want is to have a room large enough to fill it with right-wing, alt-right, and paid staff to cheer on the president.  The idea that they couldn’t accommodate more people in the press briefing room is ridiculous since President Obama had a whole lot more requests to attend briefings in his first few months of office, and did so in the very room Trump people say is too small.

The second step was to float the idea that they would evict all journalists from the West Wing of the White House and move them to the Eisenhower Office Building and then require them special passes to enter the White House.  Those passes would require a separate request for each visit.

The press has had office space in the White House since President Teddy Roosevelt in 1901.  Even during the war years the press had offices in the White House.  But now, the incoming administration doesn’t want them around.

One of the advantages of having the press in the White House is that they get to build relationships with the administration people.  They get to establish what is going on and are able to question visitors as they leave because they are allowed on the grounds to watch the comings and goings.

Yesterday Sean Spicer was asked if they were planning to move the press out of the White House.  He went off about the press room being too small.  He was then pressed if they planned to evict the press corps from the White House and he said” that hasn’t been decided yet.”

At the same time, a senior Trump official admitted that he considered the press as the “enemy”.  What he actually said was:  “They are the opposition party.  I want them out of the building.  We are taking back the press room.”

Of course this all falls in line with Trump’s thin skin and desire to be “loved” by his subjects.  One of the first things that needs to be done in order to set up the tyrant’s government is to control what is being printed and said about him.

That is what this entire war on the press has been all about.  Whenever someone says or prints something that does not place a halo around the tyrant’s head, they attacked.  First on twitter and then by the surrogates.

During the campaign, people like Katie Tur from NBC had to be escorted out of rallies by the Secret Service because of the assaults on her from Trump.  Why did he attack her?  Because she dared to ask hard follow-up questions he didn’t want to answer or challenged his lack of facts.  She wasn’t the only one either.

Then last week he went off on a rampage about CNN comparing them with Buzzfeed.  The difference is that Buzzfeed actually printed the unverified dossier about Trump.  CNN merely reported that the existence of the dossier was included in a classified briefing to Trump and President Obama as an addendum to let them know it was out there.

Trump has waged a personal war on CNN for a long time now, so he used this report as proof that CNN was “totally against me.”  So, when CNN tried to ask a question at the so-called new conference, he refused to take the question and his paid staff members cheered the rejection like they were watching a wrestling match.

We have had contentious relationships between presidents and the press before.  Nixon absolutely hated the press, but even he knew that you don’t evict them from the White House just because you don’t like them.

Every time one of the little boy’s surrogates goes on air to defend something he did or said or tweeted, they look more and more like propaganda puppets.  They refuse to answer the question asked but rather point the finger at everyone else in the world.

Kellyanne Conway was asked last night if Trump would try to mend the fences with Rep. John Lewis by calling him.  Conway tried to, sorry for the use of the word here, legitimize Trump’s tweets by saying Lewis fired the “first shot.”  When asked again if Trump would call Lewis to try to mend fences, she responded by saying “we would accept a call from Rep. Lewis”.  Meaning, of course that they have no intentions of “mending fences” by reaching out themselves.  That might give the impression that Trump might be an adult.

On Friday, this little boy will become our 45th president.  He will take the oath of office which says he “swears to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic”.  The problem is, you cannot defend the Constitution of the United States against domestic enemies if you are the primary domestic enemy.

Slowly but surely, we are seeing the plans to unravel our liberties and freedoms.  By expelling the press from the White House, if indeed that is their plan, is another shot at the freedom of the press.  But, if you want to be an authoritarian tyrant, you must eliminate the free press and control what your subjects hear and read.

 

 

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Day 62

In nine days the Presidency of Barak Obama will come to and end.  During his eight years in office we have seen the least productive three Congresses in our history.  In his last six years, the House was under Republican control due to gerrymandered districts.  In the last two years he faced a total House and Senate in Republican control.  What came from these Congresses?  Nothing.

President Obama was not perfect.  There were some things that I disagreed with him on, but overall, he did more than most other Presidents to help the country.

When he took office, the country was at the beginning of the worst recession since the Great Depression.  The day he took office, we were losing over 850,000 jobs per month.  Before he even had time to even consider the damage taking place, the unemployment rate rose to over 10%.

The President, with a friendly Congress took actions and got Congress to pass the Republican hated stimulus packages.  He worked to help save the auto industry which over 3 million jobs relied.  Slowly, the brakes started to be placed on the economic free-fall.

In the last quarter of his first two years, unemployment rates stopped gaining and new jobs began to be created.  Since then, we have seen 75 consecutive months of new job growth.  That is an unheard of accomplishment.  During those 75 months over 15 million jobs were created.  That is over 2 million jobs per year.  We have never seen jobs grow for so many consecutive months in our history before.

As a result, when the President leaves office, that over 10% unemployment rate sits at 4.7%.  It was cut by nearly 60%.  The auto industry is on firm economic footing again.  In the last two years, income increased at record levels as well.

You know that the workers are beginning to see gains when you look at a state like Kentucky who just passed that “right to work for less” law that Republicans love so much.  It was another attack on unions and an attempt to keep wages low so employers can make more money in profits.  That is the only reason to even consider “right to work” laws.  When workers start making more money, companies turn to Republican controlled state legislatures to put the brakes on those gains.

On top of all of this, our economy has come back without all of the “austerity” measures that European countries tried during the same time period.  Their economies are still lagging behind ours.  That proves that “austerity” does not work the way conservatives say it does.

At the time he took office, the Stock Market was just over 6,000.  Today it is nearly at 20,000.  So, if you own stocks they have tripled in value under President Obama.

I argued about income inequality, and I was hoping that the President could do something about it.  However, I also realize that he cannot do everything by himself.  With an obstructive Congress, there was no way the workers would gain the same attention as the top 1% of the economic ladder do.

Our economy is on strong footing again.  Our companies are healthy again.  People up and down the economic ladder are seeing greater income for their families.  Rather than sinking into a second Great Depression, we were pulled from the brink and put back on the road to a healthy economy.

The Affordable Care Act helped over 20 million people who never had health insurance now have it.  The percentage of uninsured people is at the lowest rate in our country’s history.

Under President Obama our NATO allies were comfortable with us and our actions.  They worked with us and were happy to have a President who did not dictate what everyone should do.  The President worked to build coalitions rather that the rogue “go it alone” of his predecessor.

NATO did not get real nervous until Donald Trump won the election.  His rancorous rhetoric about NATO and his love fest with Putin have made them very nervous about our national interest and our commitment to NATO.  When you say that if a country of NATO is attacked, he would decide to defend them once he reviewed “if they have paid their fair share” makes our allies very nervous.

The other thing is that this President has not been accused of any scandals.  Yes, the conservative wackos will talk about Benghazi and the IRS thing, but there were no real scandals.  We did not see anything like Watergate, the Iran/Contra Affair, or the Monica Lewinsky matter.

The so-called scandals were all politically motivated.  You don’t have to take my word for it either.  Republicans were caught on tape bragging that all of the Benghazi investigations were intended to hurt Clinton during her run for President.

After dozens of investigations and millions of dollars being spent on them, nothing was found to be improper or illegal.  Every time Republicans said “we got her” they didn’t have her.  Every time they said “we have the proof” they had no proof.

You can argue that the President used too many Executive Orders.  But, he did not even come close to the number of Executive Orders issued by the Republican sainted Ronald Regan.  He issued almost 300 Executive Orders in his two terms in office.  And, he had to deal with the Iran/Contra scandal that resulted in some of his staff going to jail.  It was also under his watch that 250 Marines were killed in a terrorist attack on their barracks in Lebanon.

While we have had a few terrorist attacks in our country, they were all conducted by “homegrown” terrorists who were radicalized.  No coordinated attack by foreign terrorists took place on our soil.

What most don’t know is that thousands of potential terrorists were arrested and charged before they were able to act.  Additionally, all of the “terrorist” attacks were not launched by Muslims.  Dylan Roof used a terrorist attack against a black church in Charleston for example.

The rise of ISIS was the direct result of the Iraq war.  When you overthrow a government and do not have a plan on what to do when the war is over, vacuums take hold and terrorism gains a foothold.  That is what President Bush gave us.  But, you cannot end it by simply invading another country like the warmongers want us to do.

He took on climate change.  He took on immigration reform.  He took on education problems.  He took on fair taxes.  He was opposed by Congress on every issue, but he kept working on them.  That is what a President is supposed to do.

Michele Obama was a First Lady of grace.  She, like all First Lady’s before here, picked a topic that was dear to her and helped to teach our children.  She settled on nutrition.  Even though many Republicans and right-wing media gave her hell for her topic, she stuck to her guns.  As a result, we are seeing children trying to eat better.  Good nutrition is important for health and even productivity.

When criticized.  When called hateful names.  Mrs. Obama kept going.  She never hurled insults back at her attackers.  Her goal was to help children and she stuck to that goal regardless of what her detractors said.  That is grace no matter what you think of her.

It is my belief that the Obama’s understood their role.  They also understood that being the first African-American family to live in the White House was a huge challenge.  They seemed to understand that their behavior and actions would be placed under the microscope like no other family before them simply because they were the first African-American First Family.

They conducted themselves with measured temperament.  They conducted themselves in a manner that can be an example to everyone who desires to sit in the Oval Office.

President Obama took office at a very difficult time in our history.  We were fighting two wars.  We were collapsing economically.  He faced problems head-on.  You may agree with what he did, or you may disagree with what he did.  But, at least he did something in an effort to make things better for the American People.  If that is being a bad president, then we will never see a good president.

This President faced more obstructionism than any President in my lifetime.  He faced more death threats than any President in my lifetime.  Yet, as he leaves office, we have a strong economy.  We are safer than we were when he took office.  He ended torture as a way of “interrogation”.

My opinion is that President Obama was one of the best Presidents we have had.  He faced problems with rational thinking and plans to make those problems go away.  He wasn’t always successful.  He may not have made all the right choices.  But, he worked for us and not his own glory.

There has been a lot of talk about his legacy.  The incoming administration will do its best to erase it.  But, they won’t be able to do that.  Only history will give us a full review of his legacy.  I am convinced that history will say that he was one of our best Presidents.

So, I want to say to President Obama a thank you.  May you have a very happy life after office.  You were a great example of what an American President should be.  Farewell!

 

 

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Day 60

As usual, the Republicans are thumbing their nose at the American People and the rule of law.  They don’t care what laws they avoid or even break as long as they get their way.  We have seen it before, but not to this level.

Starting tomorrow, Trump’s nominees for his cabinet will begin having their hearings in the Senate to be approved.  The Republicans are going to ramrod through these nominations because according to Mitch McConnell “we won” so suck it up.

I don’t have any real problem with quickly holding hearings, but I do have a problem with the way McConnell is doing business.  First he is going to hold hearings at the same time.  There are actually members of the Senate who serve on more than one committee.  Meaning that they will have to pick which hearing they sit in on.  We will actually have confirmation hearings without having full committee membership attending due to conflict of hearing times.

But, that is the small, what some might say insignificant, part of the problem.  The biggest part of the problem is that not all of the nominees have even completed and submitted their paperwork to the Office of Government Ethics.

The way this process usually works is that nominees fill out a questionnaire and submit it to the OGE and the OGE begins processing the applications to ensure there are no conflicts of interests.

Every President before this president-elect followed the usual practice of submitting the “paperwork” to the OGE even before they made the announcement of their picks.  This gave the OGE and the FBI time to properly conduct their investigations so when the confirmation hearings took place the committee members had a full report they needed to make a reasonable judgement.

However, this year that isn’t the case.  The OGE sent a letter to Democratic Senators complaining about the quick process and worried that their work will not be completed before the hearings are even over much less begin.

OGE Director Walter Shaub wrote in his letter:

The announced hearing schedule for several nominees who have not completed the ethics review process is of great concern to me. This schedule has created undue pressure on OGE’s staff and agency ethics officials to rush through these important reviews.  More significantly, it has left some of the nominees with potentially unknown or unresolved ethics issues shortly before their scheduled hearings.

He also wrote that this appears to be unprecedented.  He said:  “I am not aware of any occasion in the four decades since OGE was established when the Senate held a confirmation hearing before the nominee had completed the ethics review process”.

Of course Republicans and the transition team aren’t very worried about confirming potentially people with huge conflicts of interest.  Even that mind-numbing idiot Newt Gingrich said we don’t have to worry because all of these people “are hugely successful people”.

Senate Democrats are asking that these hearings be delayed until the OGE and the FBI complete their investigations and/or at least until they nominees complete all of the questionnaires they seem to think are not very important.

How can any Republican honestly state that these investigations are not important and a necessary part of the process?  It is true that as McConnell has said, seven of President Obama’s 2009 nominees were confirmed before the inauguration.  Yet, it was also true that they all filled out the proper paperwork and had their investigations completed before being confirmed.  Big difference.

Other experts agree this is unprecedented.  “This is unprecedented,” Trevor Potter, former chair of the Federal Election Commission, tells the Washington Post.  “This suggests that there has been a real breakdown between the transition and the Office of Government Ethics.”

There are not a lot of reasons for this quick ramrod of the nomination hearings unless the Republicans are afraid they will unveil ethics problems with any of the nominees.  What other sane reason could they give.  Sorry, but “we won” so we don’t have to follow normal rules is just not good enough of an argument for anyone.

If that isn’t the reason, then they must be looking at avoiding normal democratic processes in order to set up a Republican Authoritarian Government.  The one thing we have been able to count on during our history, is the peaceful and almost unheard of transition between the current President and the incoming President.

In all my years following politics, I have never seen so much coverage about the transition as I have this year.  The Republicans seem willing to avoid any common decency during this transition and that is simply unheard of in the past by either party.

This kind of behavior does not bode well for the future.  It seems like we are being told to shut up and do as we are told.  It doesn’t give us much belief that if one or more of these nominees are later found to be in serious conflict of interest, that we can count on the Republicans to do anything about it.

I am beginning to get the feeling that this will be the most unethical, most corrupt, and most radical government we have ever seen in our country.  I am also beginning to believe that our media or more importantly our so-called “independent press” isn’t going to do anything about it either.  They all seem to be eagerly willing to “normalize” Trump and his gang of extremists.  There are a few exceptions, but not enough.

If you have been wondering why Trump seems to love Putin so much, these actions are showing us that is exactly what Trump wants to be as our president.  Trump wants to become America’s Putin.  A person I believe to be a power-hungry corrupt businessman wants his presidency to be like a power-hungry corrupt politician like Putin.

If you look at everything piece by piece, you will miss the full picture.  You have to look at everything as it ties to everything else.  Kellyanne Conway said the other day we need to “look into Trump’s hears and not listen to what comes out of his mouth”.  Maybe she is right.  If we look into his heart, we will then the authoritarian wanna-be that he really is.  Does she really want us to see that?

Do McConnell and Ryan want a real Congress or a Politburo.  We have a Politburo in North Carolina and we are seeing our democracy here being depleted piece by piece.  We will continue fighting our Politburo here, we need to fight it in Washington before it gets to far along. We cannot let that happen to our country.

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Day 51

The hacking during our election by Russia has shown just how people look at being hacked.  If the other side is hacked, that is okay, but if your side is hacked it is not okay.  That is what really has come out of this whole episode, and it is really sickening.

Additionally, it goes well beyond that.  When is hacking actually helpful, if at all?  If a foreign country can hack into emails and the party not hacked says that it is okay, we wonder if that party thinks it is okay to hack private citizens as well?

We have had issues with the NSA and other intelligence agencies claiming the need to hack into emails or cellphones to “discover” terrorists.  That may even sound like a good thing, but where does it end?

I am asking these questions because of a statement made by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) about the election hacks.  On MSNBC yesterday he said:

There’s no suggestion that Russia hacked into our voting systems or anything like that.  If Russia succeeded in giving the American people information that was accurate, then they merely did what the media should’ve done.

Is this guy actually suggesting that the media should have hacked emails and cyber systems of the Democrats?  Is he suggesting that it is okay to hack emails in general?

Let us be clear.  Hacking is a crime both at home at abroad.  Plus, there is that little annoying thing called the fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that protects our privacy by denying unreasonable search and seizure.

Is Franks suggesting that the Fourth Amendment does not include emails?  Is he actually saying that the media, foreign countries, or even our own government has a right to hack into your emails?

For years now, hundreds of thousands of people have their identity stolen over the internet.  They have their entire finances stolen from them.  If that were to happen to you it will take years to fix the problem.

The other day Trump said the hacking is no big deal and said “we should just move on.”  So, let’s ask another question.  If Russia had hacked the GOP in an attempt to sway the election to Clinton, would he have the same view?  I seriously doubt it.

Hacking cyber systems is a very serious problem.  We cannot have an incoming government and its officials blow off this problem simply because the other side was the one targeted.  We must do more to protect our cyber systems from hacking.

The problem is that you cannot come up with a defense for a virus or other form of hacking before it actually happens.  Hackers change their programming all of the time, and new viruses come up all of the time.  Until the defenders see it, they cannot defend against it.

It is possible to build firewalls that will delay a hack long enough to attempt to stop it, but they aren’t foolproof either.  Besides, normal people with their laptops, tablets, and cell phones are not capable of building such intensive firewalls.

This issue is one thing that has upset both sides of the aisle.  When President Obama announced sanctions yesterday, even Paul Ryan backed them.  Sens McCain and Graham said the sanctions were not tough enough.

And then, we have the Trump camp not saying much about it at all.  Trump said we should “move on” but then said he would meet with the intelligence community to see their evidence.

Both the CIA and the FBI have said more than once that the evidence points to Russia and that the intent was to influence the election towards Trump.  Trump has yet to accept this simple fact.

Then, his spokesperson Kellyanne Conway suggested that the sanctions were only put in place because Obama wants to “hurt” Trump.  The President doesn’t need to do anything to “hurt” Trump on this issue.  His bromance with Putin has shown out way too much in the past year and a half.

His bromance is so strong he refuses to accept information from what will be his own intelligence organizations that says Russia was involved.  But, it is comments like the ones from Franks that should make you nervous.

When someone like Franks makes comments suggesting that hacking the other side is perfectly fine, then we all should raise our eyebrows.  That is an open invitation for our own government to hack into our emails just because they want to.

You really need to look at this objectively.  Your own privacy is at stake.  If the country refuses to make a foreign country pay for interfering or hacking into our cyber systems, then what is possibly going to slow them down?  If foreign countries are allowed to hack into our systems, what will keep your government from hacking into your system?

In case you are wondering, I would be saying the same thing if the other side had been the one hacked.  This is a very serious problem and it is not a partisan problem.  Hacking is a threat to our democracy, our businesses and our privacy.

If you are treating this issue in the same lackadaisical manner as Trump, don’t cry when you are hacked.

 

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Day 50

We already know that Donald Trump is a simple-minded petty little man.  He is very quick to attempt to slander anyone who dares say anything except high praise for his stupidity.  Those attacks have been against Gold Star Parents, a former Miss Universe and News Reporters.  His latest was the current President simply because he hypothetically said if he could have run for a third-term he would have won.  Needless to say the little man went nuts.

We are looking to at least four years of this pettiness from our president after Trump takes office.  That has been expected since he won and there have been no signs that he will back off from his childish games.

Of course, we expect more from our president.  We also expect more from our elected officials in the House of Representatives.  Although why we would expect more from them is still a mystery.  The Republican side of the House has been extremely petty for at least six years.

That is going to be expanded next year.  Republicans in the House are bound and determined to show their pettiness for the whole world to see.  As a matter of fact, they even plan to throw out the U.S. Constitution at the same time.

As you remember, the Democrats in the House were so upset that they couldn’t get a vote on a gun control bill, the Can’t Fly – Can’t Buy bill, they resorted to a sit-in on the House floor.  The funny thing was there was no way Republicans were going to pass the bill, so why they didn’t hold a vote is anyone’s guess.

The sit-in made headlines only because Ryan decided to shut down the C-Span cameras.  The Democrats decided to go around the cameras and pulled out their cell phones and streamed their sit-in live from the floor over the internet.

That made Ryan and the Republicans look like fools, which they are.  Ever since, they have stewed over the sit-in and being made to look like the fools they are.  I say they are fools because if they had held the vote, practically no one would have even noticed.  But, they had to show their “power” and decided the debate and the vote would not take place.

Even though Democrats did pick up a few seats in the chamber, I seriously doubt that the sit-in was the cause for those pick-ups.  Now that the Republicans have won the election for both Houses and the White House, their pettiness is about to rear its ugly head again.

Here is what Ryan and his petty party is planning:

As part of a House rules package members will vote to approve in early January, House GOP leaders want to empower the sergeant-at-arms to fine lawmakers up to $2,500 for shooting video or taking photos on the chamber floor.

Only there is a problem with this rule that they want to pass.  Most experts say this move is unconstitutional.

Experts say Ryan’s proposal may run afoul of Article 1 of the Constitution, which says “each House may … punish its Members for disorderly behavior.” For more than 200 years that has been interpreted to mean any contested sanctions against lawmakers must be approved by the full House with a floor vote, attorneys steeped in congressional legal matters say.

So Republicans who claim to love the Constitution are willing to pass a rule in the House that is basically unconstitutional.  What new?

Let us assume that Democrats try a sit-in again for some reason.  Let us assume that they decide to use the internet to stream their protest from their cell phones again.  Under this proposed new rule, the Sergeant-at-Arms is to collect $2,500 from each member who uses their phones.

The Democrats will have two choices if that does happen.  They could call a press conference and make a huge media event to show them paying the fine, or they could decide to sue the Republicans because they are violating Article 1 of the Constitution.

In either case, the sit-in that will cause these problems for the Republicans will last in the media for months if not years.  Do the Republicans really want that to happen?

I have finally given up hope that the Republican Party will change anytime soon.  Their pettiness and willingness to “punish their opponents” hasn’t been seen in American politics since Richard Nixon.  Let us hope that we are not headed back to those times.

If Ryan and his petty Republican idiot followers could read, they would know that a mechanism for punishing violation of rules already exists.  But no, they need to make headlines to show just how petty they really are by inserting this meaningless rule to be voted on in January.

We are facing a lot of problems.  We need to rebuild our middle-class in order to save our democracy.  We need better income equality.  We need to end the theism that many Republicans want to institute in our laws.

But, instead of working on problems and making the lives of the American people better, what are the House Republicans doing?  They are showing their pettiness, again.

As I said, we should expect more from our members of Congress.  But, the Republican side has removed any expectations for us to expect anything but pettiness.  Instead of doing their job, they are more interested in “punishing” their opponents, just like their little boy president-elect Trump.

God, it is going to be a very long four years if the Democrats can’t take back the Congress in 2018.  If Republicans are allowed to continue their pettiness, will we even have a democracy left in four years?

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Day 47

Yesterday was Christmas.  I hope you all had a great day.  I know several people watched football.  Some people watched Christmas movies.  Just about everyone had a good meal with family and friends.

Christians probably went to church and celebrated the birth of the man they call “savior”.  Yet, I wonder if any of them considered the “sin” of mankind against our own planet.  The pollution that is causing the climate of our planet to change more rapidly than at anytime we know of is our fault.  And, yes people, if you really believe in your religion, you cannot look at as anything but a sin.

The year 2016 is now the warmest year in recorded history.  And the record it breaks goes all the way back to 2015.  The record that year broke went all the way back to 2014.

You get the idea.  Yet, there is still way too much talk about climate change being a hoax.  Even our president-elect claimed it is a hoax invented by the Chinese to hurt American businesses.  His nominee for Secretary of State runs a company that is under investigation in several states for purposefully ignoring climate change and purposefully issuing misinformation to the public.  It is call the second great Tobacco Scam.

The person Trump nominated to run the Department of Energy is non other than Mr. Oops, Rick Perry, who wants to eliminate the department.  Mostly because he has no clue what the department actually does.  His choice for the EPA hates the organization and wants to eliminate it too.  He has sued it more times than anyone in the name of corporate profits.

Trump has announced he will give the go ahead to the Keystone XL Pipeline.  He will probably give the go ahead to the Dakota pipeline that the Native Americans have been fighting for at least a year.  He plans to open up national lands to drilling for oil and gas.  He wants to remove any restrictions that hurts shale oil drilling.  He said he will remove the carbon emission regulations so power plants can burn coal more easily.

We are seeing the effects of climate change already.   The Arctic lost more ice this year than at any time in recorded history.  Sea levels are rising faster and faster.  We will see more health problems associated with pollution like asthma.  Also, we don’t know what kinds of bacteria or diseases from the ancient past will be unleasheing as the permafrost melts.  Will we be unleashing our next pandemic?

Somewhere in my distant memory I seem to recall sitting in religious classes hearing that we, mankind, are responsible to “take care of our planet for god.”  The planet, it was taught, was a gift from god.  If that is true, and we fail to take care of it and protect it, then aren’t we committing a sin against god?

How can you declare yourself to be a “god-fearing” individual and not fear the consequences of destroying “his” planet?  If the planet is a “gift from god” isn’t it our responsibility to tell our lawmakers to pass legislation that will protect it?  If we don’t doesn’t that make us guilty of “going against god’s will?”

The climate of our planet is changing.  It is not changing for the better.  It is changing faster because we, mankind, is making it change faster by our actions and our pollution.  It is changing because we keep kicking the can down the road.

We are destroying our planet in the name of money.  Period.  The name of money is why we refuse to stand up and say enough.  It is the reason lawmakers refuse to tell the fossil fuel companies to find alternative, clean energy to meet our needs.

We actually elected a man to be our next president who seems to have a phobia against wind turbines.  He has fought using wind turbines to create electricity every where they “interfered” with his “view”.  Our business leaders are so narrow-minded they refuse to see that their own energy costs would be decreased significantly by switching to renewable energy.

If you refuse to look at climate change objectively, at least you could look at it religiously if you are a Christian.  97 percent of all scientists say that climate change is real and that mankind if affecting that change.  That means we are destroying the very gift that was supposed to be given to us by your god.  That is a sin.

Currently, this is the only planet we have.  We cannot yet go to another planet to escape what we have done to our own.  However, even if we could escape, if we don’t start doing something to save our own planet, we will only destroy the next planet we go to as well.  Is that going to be our “legacy”?

Sorry, but if you are unwilling to stand up and fight to save our planet, I cannot consider you a Christian.  You are willing to let our planet be destroyed in the name of money.  That is anything but Christian.  Doesn’t your religion teach you that “money is the root of all evil”?

As we come to the end of 2016 and you start considering New Year’s resolutions, think about helping fight climate change.  If you are religious and believe in heaven and hell, think about the sin of destroying our planet.  If you won’t fight against it, you are guilty of helping to destroy it.  If you can go to hell for lying, you can certainly go to hell for killing our planet.

 

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In two days Christians will celebrate Christmas.  Tomorrow Jews will begin Chanukah.  The holiday of Kwanza is not far off.  There have been other holidays, mostly pagan that have been celebrated.  The holiday season is in full swing.  Just about everyone I know celebrates some holiday this tie of year.  Whether that holiday is religious or secular.

The odd part is the evolution of Christmas in our country.  It was not always celebrated as it is today.  When the Puritans first landed on this continent, they did not celebrate Christmas.  They actually passed laws that made it illegal to celebrate Christmas.  That “tradition” lasted well into the 1700s in New England.

As the country grew, and different “Christian religions” began to grow the celebration began to become more traditional.  We didn’t even see the Christmas Tree, especially in homes until the 1800s.  That began with Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband.

He was a German and brought the tradition of a decorated tree in the home to the castle.  The news papers in England ate it up.  It started to become a fad.  If the Queen could decorate a tree for Christmas, everyone else should as well.

It didn’t take long before the “tradition” started on this continent as well.  The Christmas “tradition” has evolved over the years.  The Christmas Tree, Santa Claus, Kissing under the mistletoe, Decorations and many others were all adopted from different cultures.

Christmas became a holiday of “good cheer”.  The religious values of “good will to men” became the calling card of the holiday.  When I was a kid back in the 50s and early 60s, I kept hearing the complaint that Christmas was being too commercialized.

As I have written before, I grew up in a Catholic family.  We always said Merry Christmas to each other.  But, we never took offense to anyone who simply said “happy holidays”.  People actually seemed happier at this time of year.

But, as everything else, Christmas became a political tool.  The so-called fictitious “war on Christmas” became the battle cry.  There were declarations that Santa Claus was a white man instead of the imaginary figure of happiness towards all children.  The terrible political divisiveness began to creep into the holiday season.

That is extremely sad.  This time of year is supposed to be a time of happiness.  It is supposed to be a time when we are friendly to each other.  We should be that way all of the time, but at least we pretended in the past during this holiday season.

The commercialization is still there.  The day after Halloween the Christmas decorations begin to go up in the stores.  The entire health of our economy seems to depend on the sales numbers during the Christmas season.

To me, it doesn’t really matter how you celebrate Christmas or what religion you belong to.  The idea is that when you celebrate a holiday in which you share gifts with each other, and actually go out of your way to drop some spare change in the red kettles, how can there be any room for anything but love?

If there was ever a reason, or rather an excuse, to put aside our bitterness and hate, this is the season for it.  This is the season we watch our kids open their presents and enjoy the smiles and laughter.

This is the season when we share with friends and family good cheer.  This is the season we actually do smile more.  This is the season when Christians celebrate the beginning of hope.

The Christmas holiday season means different things to different people.  But whether or not you celebrate the religious holiday or the secular holiday, it really doesn’t matter.  In essence they are both really kind of the same.

As you celebrate the holiday season, I hope you all have a wonderful time with family and friends.  I hope the season finds that you are all warm, comfortable, and most of all happy.

But, please also remember, there will be millions of people who will not be home for Christmas.  They include our military, police, fire, paramedics, nurses and other hospital workers, and many more “first responders” who will be working or deployed overseas.  And, if not for their work and dedication, you might not be celebrating this holiday in peace.

So, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanza, Happy what every you celebrate during this holiday season.  Wouldn’t it be nice if the Christmas Cheer lasted throughout the year?  Here is to hoping.

 

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