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Day 25

Donald Trump named Betsy DeVos to head up the Department of Education.  About the only thing that would have been worse is if he had named one of the Koch brothers.  It is quite possible that DeVos could totally ruin or make public education disappear completely.

DeVos and her husband have been arguing for voucher systems all across the country.  They are using phrases like “we just want every child to get a good education regardless of socioeconomic status”.  But, that isn’t what this is all about.

What they are really trying to do is make tax payers pay for religious education by sending children to “Christian” schools.  They are interested in placing “religious teachings” in our classrooms.  They have pushed for “intelligent design” to be taught in public schools instead of evolution.

DeVos managed to get privatized public education in Michigan.  It has been terrible, especially in Detroit where children need better education not worse.  In addition, they are the types of people that believe “competition” is necessary for education to improve.  Since when does “market-type competition” belong in education?

I know a lot of people are in favor of these voucher programs.  But what they don’t understand is that is blurring the line between separation of church and state.  They also don’t understand that private schools are not required as much as public schools to take in children with physical or learning disabilities.

Because they are “private” they are not required to adhere to integration rules either.  There a several “private religious” schools that have not children of color in attendance.

What this means is that if too many children are allowed to attend private schools using vouchers, there will be far less money left for the Public Schools.  That means that every child who cannot get into one of these private religious schools will get an even worse education than they are already getting.

The answer to our public schools is not vouchers and allowing millions to attend private schools on the taxpayer dime.  It is to use the money allocated to public education wisely.  It is to improve all sorts of areas like modernizing old crumbling buildings.  It is to provide a curriculum that will both challenge and help our children become successful in the future.

Look, I don’t have anything against private schools.  I am a product of private schools.  However, my parents paid for my tuition not the government.  If someone wants their children to attend private religious schools, that is fine.  But, the tax payers should not have to foot the bill.

You also need to look at the very fact that “Christian” schools are the largest benefactor of these voucher programs.  And, that is the purpose of the voucher programs.  Instead of building new Christian schools and setting up scholarship awards for poor children, the DeVos’ want to use taxpayer money to educate everyone in Christian doctrine.

They have decided that “to impact our culture in ways that are not the traditional funding-the-Christian-organization route, but that really may have greater Kingdom gain in the long run by changing the way we approach things, in this case the system of education in the country.”

Meaning, they want to do away with public education altogether and replace it with their version of “Christian schools” that every child will have to attend.  Can you spell indoctrination?

Public education has been the backbone of our education system.  It is necessary to ensure that all children get a good education.  Replacing it with “for-profit” schools or vouchers is not the answer to improving it.  We need to have a very serious discussion about education, how to improve it, and work together for the sake of all children.

Betsy DeVos is not the person who will lead that discussion.  She is not the person to improve our public education.  She is intent on destroying it and making it go away.  Neither she nor her husband are interested in educating our children.  They are merely interested in indoctrinating them into their narrow view of Christianity.

How much do you want to bet she isn’t in favor of using vouchers to send your child to a Muslim School.  If she is approved and her plans are put n place, you can chalk up “religious freedom” as another right lost to the Trump authoritarian government.

Repeal, Delay, And Bailout

Day 24

The Republican Congress is so excited about repealing the Affordable Care Act as soon as President-elect Trump takes off, they are preparing how to take care of the insurers not the insured.  That is par for the course for the do-nothing Congress we have had to deal with for six years.

So, here is basically their plan.  They will repeal the Affordable Care Act, delay the replacement by up to three years, and bailout any insurance company that suffers financial loss because of their recklessness.

Republicans in the House are already talking to insurance companies about this bailout plan.  As usual with Republicans, there is no plan in place so if they go ahead and repeal the Affordable Care Act, our health care insurance business will probably go into free-fall.

Repealing the Affordable Care Act is bad enough.  But, not having a replacement ready to go is even worse.  Once the Act is repealed what gives insurance companies incentive to stay with the program during the “delay” period?  Why should they take any risks if they don’t know what will replace it?

If the Act is repealed without a replacement plan ready to go, most experts say that the market will collapse because carriers will pull out of the plan.  Insurance companies could lose millions of dollars because of this collapse.  Millions of people would lose their insurance coverage.  It would be a mess.

Knowing this, Republicans want to pacify the insurance companies.  So they are looking at a plan that would allow the Trump administration to “pay the companies for their losses”.  Only, no one has set a “value” to those losses yet.

Imagine, the Republican Party, the “free market” party is already looking to bail out an industry because they don’t know how to do their own job.  On the other side of the coin, there is no “bailout” plan for any Americans who lose their insurance coverage because of the repeal and delay plan of theirs.

Despite the fact that premiums have gone up, the Affordable Care Act is actually a winner.  It has succeeded so much that only 25 percent of the American people are in favor of this “repeal”.

According to the American people polled, they would prefer that the Act be fixed where it needs to be fixed and left in place.  Besides, there are a lot of Trump supporters who only have insurance now because of the Act.

You must also remember that for the last six years we have heard Republicans falsely tell us they are ” only doing what the American People want.”  If that were really true, they would fix the Act and not repeal it since 75 percent of Americans want it that way.  The poll indicates that the vast majority of Republicans are in favor of fixing not repealing the Act.

Besides, if the insurance industry does collapse under this weird plan, what will happen to Medicare?  Ryan says that once they privatize it, only people under 50 years-of-age will be affected.  Will Ryan decide to privatize it now and make current Medicare patients go on the open market to help out his biggest donors, the insurance companies?

This “plan” of the Republicans is nothing short of governing by petty peeves and not governing according to the will or the needs of the people.  Something the Republican Party has been doing for decades.

We are on the precipice of a government run totally by Republicans.  They have ignored the “will of the American people” for so long, what makes you think they will change courses now?  They won’t and this ridiculous repeal, delay, and bailout plan is proof.

So, if you are one of those who voted for “change” you failed and your vote doesn’t count.  The change you voted for is not the change you will get.  The new administration will be full of Wall Street People and Lobbyists.  They have proven they don’t care about you, only how much money they make.

Cronyism, Corruption, Lies, Deceit, and Conflicts of interest will be the real agenda of the new administration and Republican controlled Congress.  Doesn’t that sound like the government we want?  NOT!

Day 23

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Day 22

 

CANNON BALL, ND - NOVEMBER 24: Water protectors join hands in prayer at the end of the day's protest as police line the hill at Standing Rock on Nov. 24, 2016, during an ongoing dispute over the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The protesters, or rather Water Protectors, are getting threatened by several areas.  The Corps of Engineers has said they want the camp where they are staying evacuated because of the harsh winter weather.  However, they said they would not “forcibly” force the protesters off the land.

The governor of North Dakota has also ordered an evacuation of the land, also citing harsh weather.  But, he also said it was for the “safety of the people who live nearby”.  Then he said he would block all food and supplies from entering the area of the camp.  Finally, he said anyone who does not leave will be faced with a $1000 fine.

As you know, the Water Protectors are protesting the pipeline from going under Lake Oahe.  The lake is a reservoir created by a dam on the Missouri River.  The lake is also the main source of drinking water for the Standing Rock reservation and an additional 71 million people.

The tribe claims that the pipeline under this lake would potentially cause the pollution of that drinking water.  Furthermore, the tribe says that the work would destroy sacred lands.  According to reports from the Guardian, some of these lands and sites have already been destroyed by the company.

The pipeline is being built by Energy Transfer Partners LP.  President Obama asked the Corps of Engineers to explore an alternate route for the pipeline.  The company’s CEO said he would not reroute the pipeline even if the Corps says it should be done.

The help coming is from 2000 veterans.  They announced that they would act as “human shields” for the protesters in the event of a forceful evacuation.  There has already been plenty of violence during the protests.  Most of that violence was initiated by the police and not the protesters.  Yes, some protesters have caused sporadic violence, but the vast majority has been initiated by the police.

The veterans plan to be there from December 4 through December 7.  The Corps ordered the evacuation by December 5.  To add more fuel to this fire, the GOP has finally taken notice.  And, as usual, they are blaming the President.

“The ongoing protest activities ― which at times have turned violent ― are being prolonged and intensified by the Obama administration’s refusal to approve the final remaining easement at Lake Oahe,” Sen. John Hoeven said on the Senate floor.

What he is saying is that since the President hasn’t rolled over in favor of the energy company, he is to blame for the violence not the company, state, police, or anyone else.  He is basically saying in usual GOP fashion that people don’t have a right to protest if they believe a company is threatening their drinking water.

We are supposed to take the company’s word that “everything will be just fine, believe me.”  He along with the governor and the state’s congressman, Rep. Kevin Cramer (R), have previously called on Obama to deploy federal law enforcement personnel to subdue the protest activity.

In a letter to the president on November 23 they wrote:

We recommend you provide federal law enforcement resources immediately to state and local agencies in order to maintain public safety, which has been threatened by ongoing ― and oftentimes violent ― protest activity.  These resources are essential to prevent further destruction on and surrounding federal lands.

So far it has been the police escalating the violence.  They have been using tear gas, rubber bullets, bean bags, and percussion grenades often without any warning.  There have been injuries especially among the protesters because of this activity by police.  They have even used water cannons to spray the protesters with water in freezing temperatures.

The CEO of Energy Transfer Partners is confident that once Trump takes office his pipeline will be approved.  Maybe that is because it turns out that Trump owns stock in Energy Transfer Partners directly and stock in other companies that are partners of Energy Transfer Partners.

The land in question belongs to the Sioux Tribe by treaty.  Of course treaties have never meant anything to the government when it comes to Native Americans.

Before it gets tweeted or reported on Fox News the veterans are traveling on their own dime, so to speak.  They did raise money to help defray costs and food, but to put it in Trump’s language, they are not “paid protesters” trying to make trouble.

During the campaign Donald Trump promised to “drain the swamp”.  The very fact that he has ignored this situation at Standing Rock shows me he has no intention of “draining the swamp” but rather using that swamp for his own financial gain.

But, standing in their way are going to be veterans.  On their Facebook event page, the group says its aim is to “support our country” and “stop this savage injustice being committed right here at home.” Though their protest will be nonviolent, they urge participants to bring body armor, gas masks, earplugs and shooting mufflers since protesters have been injured by police force.  No drugs, alcohol or weapons will be allowed.

If Trump pays attention to this situation, he may learn what integrity, honesty, and duty are really all about.  But, I doubt he will learn anything from these men and women.

We all need to support the Standing Rock protests.  Please write, call, or email the President asking him to stop the pipeline from going under Lake Oahe.  If he doesn’t stop it soon, Trump will give it the go ahead so his stock goes up in value.  Drinking water for Native Americans or anyone else doesn’t count as much as dividends.

 

Day 21

As time has gone by, the laws concerning marijuana have changed around the country.  Some state have totally legalized pot.  Others have made it legal for medical purposes.

However, these law changes have placed a lot of people in serious limbo.  Even if you live in a state that allows medical marijuana your company may still be able to fire you for drug use if you actually use medical marijuana.

This is proven by the case of a football player for the Buffalo Bills.  Offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson has been suspended for the second time for his use of marijuana for helping him cope with the pain of Crohn’s Disease.

Crohn’s Disease is defined as “an inflammatory bowel disease … [that] causes inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract.” Crohn’s disease can cause “abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition,” by the Mayo clinic.

There is no cure for Crohn’s Disease.  One of the things that helps ease the pain according to medical studies is – weed.  “I’ve got doctors telling me this is the No. 1 medicine that would help your disease,” Henderson said in October, according to The Buffalo News. “You try to tell that to the league and it seems like they didn’t care too much.”

To deal with the pain, Henderson smoked marijuana.  Medical marijuana is legal in New York State.  As one source told NFL.com, “He needs cannabis. You can’t take pain killers with the way his intestines are.” The issue is, while the NFL allows medical exemptions for some banned substances, like Adderall, marijuana is not one of them.

“There is zero allowable medical exemption for this per the NFL; however, there clearly should be,” Brian Fettner, Henderson’s agent, said earlier this season.

Since this is Henderson’s second “offense” he is facing a ten game suspension without pay.  If he continues to seek pain relief from the one thing that works best without affecting his intestines, he faces a lifetime suspension.

Several years ago the NFL was being called The No Fun League for not allowing touchdown dances.  Since then we have discovered that the league knew about the links between its game and concussions and brain diseases and did nothing about protecting the players.  Now, we have a player with a serious disease being suspended for using the one thing, medical marijuana, to ease his pain being suspended.

I think the better description is the No Feelings League, especially when it comes to the health and safety of its players.  But this is what happens when a company decides that it is the sole authority to decide what is “medical” and what is not.

It doesn’t matter if you are talking about governments or companies, the will of the people are always secondary to the rules of the elite.  The NFL should be ashamed of itself.  They should apologize to Henderson and reinstate him and even give him back his pay from the four games he lost in his first suspension.

I hope that Henderson sues the NFL and wins big.  There is talk about how the NFL is losing viewers this year.  There a lot of reasons as to why it is losing viewers.  Maybe, just maybe, the fans are tired of seeing their stars being treated like property with no feelings, no rights, and no pain.

I gave up watching football years ago.  They don’t even play football anymore.  The players are treated badly.  If you care to do a little research, you will discover that injuries in football rose dramatically when players stopped playing fundamental football.

Sorry, but you don’t tackle someone by simply running into them trying to knock them out of the game.  And, the league has done nothing to end this farce.  Why?  Because they treat their players like gladiators and love the idea that this increase in unnecessary violence increases viewership.

Stories like this one make me glad I stopped watching years ago.  Yes, players make millions of dollars.  But, they are employees and it is the responsibility of the league to help protect them as much as possible.  If the NFL can get away with this, what makes you feel safe at your workplace?

DAY 21

The Affordable Care Act was passed almost eight years ago.  Despite the fact that it mirrors the Heritage Foundation’s own plan that was unrolled when Hillary Clinton was trying to get universal coverage, they claimed it was no good.

Since that time, they have cried that it “must go” as soon as possible.  Ever since 2011, they have promised a replacement plan.  They have promised and promised, and promised.

The last word on that came from Paul Ryan about a year and a half ago stating that they “have a plan to have a plan”.  We still haven’t heard what their plan is.

Now, Donald Trump is going to be President and they still don’t have a plan.  House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy admits they don’t have a plan.  When asked what would replace the Affordable Care Act if they repeal it in the first 100 days he said:

My personal belief — and nothing has been decided yet — I would [move through] and repeal and then go to work on replacing.  I think once it is repealed you will have, hopefully, fewer people playing politics.

After six years of running down the Affordable Care Act and promising us better coverage for everyone, they still don’t know what the hell they want.  Repealing the Affordable Care Act without having a plan ready to replace it is horrible leadership.  What will happen to all of those people who are now covered under the act and won’t have any coverage once it is repealed?

And, don’t forget, most of the people who were able to take advantage of the Act in order to get coverage voted for Trump.  Now they are facing losing their health care because the Republicans don’t have anything on the table to replace the Act.

To make matters worse, Trump appointed Tom Price who is the most vocal critic of the Act and is dying to repeal it replacement be damned.  This is the same man who complained that the Act should never have included birth control in its mandate.  He said there “is not a single woman in America that cannot afford birth control.”

It is estimated that over 20 million people will lose their health care coverage if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.  What is going to happen to those people?  Where are they going to find affordable care if they get sick?

There is another thing to consider.  Trump claimed that every American deserves affordable health insurance.  In other words, he wants universal health care coverage.  That is totally different from what Republicans are promising in Congress.

The only thing Republicans in Congress is promising is to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  They are not promising any replacement plan.  The new Congress begins on January 3 but McCarthy still refuses to give us any timeline or plan.  Instead he says “Look, we are going to start on this right away. I don’t want to get into timeline.”

Apparently McCarthy nor any other Republican has read Talking Points memo.  It says “any sort of delay between repealing Obamacare and replacing it could jeopardize the entire individual health insurance market and send insurers fleeing the market.”

The one thing that most Republicans agree on is repealing and replacing the Affordable care Act.  Only, they don’t have anything to replace it with so they are only interested in repealing it.

Like all of their failed policies, they say “we will repeal the Affordable Care Act.  Then we will get back to you some time in the future with a replacement, maybe.”  While you wait for their replacement, you may lose your health coverage.  You may then get sick.  Some may even die because they can’t afford health insurance.

All the while we wait for a replacement plan they promised us six years ago.  This is the Republican’s idea of how to run a country.

 

DAY 20

Here we go again.  Another wonderful “white supremacist” shows that white supremacists are not so supreme.  The ignorance of these people is amazing, and I find it hard to understand how anyone can take them seriously.

This latest example of white supremacist stupidity comes to us from the University of Texas A&M.  Preston Wiginton a self-proclaimed white supremacist and member of the so-called Alt-Right shot himself in the foot.  Or rather he proved that race does not have anything to do with intelligence.

Wiginton has apparently invited that renowned racist Richard Spencer to give a talk at the university in December.  So, to make his point, Wiginton spoke to the university’s newspaper The Battalion.  This is what he said”

If we want to have a white state or a white community or a white homeland we should be able to have that.  We respect that for all people.  If we look at the NAACP, black people have the right to have that.  Why can’t white people have a WAACP.

Sorry, but every time I read that I burst out in laughter so bad my stomach hurts.  I don’t think I need to say this, but in case Mr. Wiginton is reading, NAACP stands for National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Somehow, I think Mr. Wiginton thinks the N stands for Negro or worse.  It is also well understood that he has no idea what the AACP stands for.  Then again, no one is accusing Mr. Wiginton of being a member of MENSA.

But let us be fair.  Maybe he has actually seen the error of his ways.  Maybe he really does want to have a White Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Somehow though I don’t think Mr. Spencer would be all that hepped up about giving a speech supporting that organization.  And, as of now, he is still scheduled to speak at the university.

I think that the white supremacists could find someone a little better equipped to speak for them than this buffoon.  Then again, Mr. Wiginton can’t say he was discriminated against by an African-American at admissions that he was better qualified over.  He obviously took a better qualified student’s position.

This is just a bit more proof that these white supremacists aren’t so supreme after all.  There is nothing supreme or special about these racists.  They hate just for the sake of hate.

Sorry, I need to read his comments again so I can end the night with some laughter.  What a moron.