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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.

 

 

Day 67.

We are looking at having the most corrupt administration in our nation’s history.  I don’t make that accusation lightly.  However, the facts are beginning to show that is a real possibility.

First we have a president-elect that doesn’t think any conflicts of interests are a bad thing as long as he is the one in conflict and personally benefitting from them.  For example, after his infomercial where he announced he would do no more foreign deals, he just announced he in fact is expanding his golf course activity in Scotland.  Sounds like a foreign deal to me.

But, he isn’t the only one in the administration that will have conflicts of interest or will be willing to take “political donations” just to look the other way when his donors break the law.  As a matter of fact, his EPA pick is already leading the pack in that category.

Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick to head up the EPA was more than willing to take over $40,000 in donations from chicken industry executives and then not force them to clean up the pollution they caused in the Illinois River which is the drinking water for millions of people in Oklahoma and Arkansas.

The problem is that he was the Attorney General for Oklahoma, but was unwilling to continue a lawsuit against several chicken companies for the pollution.

When he took office, there was a six-year ongoing lawsuit against several chicken companies trying to force them to pay for the clean up of tons of chicken manure that had fouled the water of Northeastern Oklahoma.  Most of the pollution had come from companies in Arkansas.

After taking office, Pruitt decided to drop the law suite which could have resulted in tens of millions of dollars to clean up the mess, and instead negotiated a deal with the companies to “study the problem further.”

This was only one in a series of instances where Pruitt supported and cooperated with industry before confrontation as he sought to blunt the impact of federal environmental policies in his state — against oil, gas, agriculture and other interests. He has also sued the EPA at least 14 times since he took office.

Now he has been chosen by Trump to head up the organization that is supposed to enforce laws on pollution and climate change.  Mark Derichsweiler, led the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality division responsible for overseeing the poultry-related cleanup.  Mr. Derichsweiler retired in 2015 after 40 years with the state, frustrated with Mr. Pruitt’s approach.  He said:

He has advocated and stood up for the profits of business, be it the poultry companies or the energy industry and other polluters, at the expense of people who have to drink the water or breathe the air.

Pruitt has the idea that only states should worry about pollution and that the federal government shouldn’t be involved.  Yet, this case shows clearly that is a really stupid position to take.  Pollution does not abide by state lines.  In this one case most of the pollution came from Arkansas yet Oklahoma’s water was affected.

The same is true for air pollution and other forms of pollution.  Without federal oversight, one state could literally poison another state’s population without any consequences.

“Pollution doesn’t respect state boundaries,” said Patrick A. Parenteau, a professor of environmental law at Vermont Law School. “States have limited ability to regulate pollution from outside the state, and almost every state is downstream or downwind from other pollution.”

After Pruitt got his donations from about a dozen poultry companies, he decided not to go ahead with the suit that was started by his predecessor.  Instead of pushing the federal judge for a ruling that, seven years later, still hasn’t been issued, he negotiated an agreement with Arkansas and the poultry companies to conduct a study of the appropriate level of phosphorus in the Illinois River.

His argument?  “Regulation through litigation is wrong in my view.  That was not a decision my office made. It was a case we inherited.”  The one thing that is missing in this story is that the cleanup has never been paid for by the polluters, which I believe everyone thinks is the right thing.

So, there is nothing to keep them from doing it again, and again, and again.  J. D. Strong, director of Oklahoma’s Wildlife Department and the state’s former Secretary of Environment, praised Mr. Pruitt for negotiating the settlement.

“You can’t force a judge to rule,” Mr. Strong said. “Pruitt didn’t sit back and wait or badger the judge for a ruling. He worked to get the states of Oklahoma and Arkansas around the table.”

Yeah, they got around the table and did nothing of any consequence except give the poultry industry license to continue their polluting ways.  That is not what I expect from my Attorney General.  I expect him to punish the companies that dare to pollute my drinking water.

In 2003, Mr. Edmondson, Pruitt’s predecessor, negotiated an agreement with Arkansas to reduce poultry waste pollution, and to monitor the progress.  Pruitt let that agreement lapse without seeking another formal extension of the deal.

And, Mr. Pruitt also shut down the specialized unit of four attorneys and a criminal investigator that helped initiate the lawsuit against the 14 poultry companies.

That environmental unit had broad jurisdiction, forcing pork-producing farmers to spend millions of dollars on their own cleanups and collecting tens of millions of dollars to clean up toxic sites in the state, including poisonous waste left at an abandoned lead and zinc mine known as Tar Creek.

With this kind of history, do you really think that Pruitt should be allowed anywhere near the EPA?  I don’t.  He is the perfect example of what happens when someone who is willing to benefit businesses instead of his constituents.

He is willing to let the poultry industry pollute water used as drinking water by his own constituents.  They don’t have as much worth to Pruitt than the paltry $40,000 dollars in political donations from the very industry poisoning his constituents.

To put a finer point on this, Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund said:

The president’s choices deserve a lot of deference from Congress and even environmental groups.  But at some point when the nominee has spent his entire career attempting to dismantle environmental protections, it becomes unacceptable. That’s why Mr. Pruitt is the first E.P.A. nominee from either party that the Environmental Defense Fund has opposed in our 50-year history.

The entire concept of letting industries police their own pollution is ridiculous.  They will not worry about who they are poisoning or even killing as long as they keep their profits high.  And, as shown by this shameful example, in Red State America all they need to do is give a paltry donation to a politician and they will get away with that pollution.

The vast majority of people Trump has nominated to be in his cabinet are being shown to be anything less than stellar in protecting the American People.  They are only interested in protecting their own profits and those of their companies or donors.

From Rex Tillerson to Jeff Sessions to Betsy DeVos to Scott Pruitt, we are looking at the worst administration in history.  We are also probably looking at the most corrupt administration in history.

You better get used to being used as pawns by this administration.  Because you won’t gain any benefit from this gang of thieves.  You will only wind up paying the price for their power grab.

Every amount of progress made since the end of World War II is on the line from civil rights to public education to clean air and water.  But, business will do quite nicely during this time.  Only, they won’t “trickle-down” any of that benefit to you.

Since these autocrats with help from the Republican Party are hell-bent on establishing a new country, should we name it the “United Businesses of America”?  I am sure our new president would prefer the “United States of Trump”.

Maybe we should change our money to read “In Money We Trust”.  Or, change the pledge of allegiance to say “One nation under business”.  We can change the Declaration of Independence to read “all non-business executives are created as serfs”.

If this goes as it appears to be heading, we will all be singing that old folk song.  The one that says: “St. Peter don’t call me because I can’t go.  I owe my soul to the company store”.

Welcome to Trump’s bold backwards future.  Lackeys like Pruitt will help him achieve it.  And we all lose while the “shirts keep marching along.”

 

 

Day 65

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 64.

You have probably read a lot of articles about how to establish an authoritarian government since Trump was elected.  I haven’t read any of them, because I already know history.  One thing I can tell you is that the best way to establish an authoritarian government is to threaten reprisals against anyone who dares to comment negatively on the “leader”.   Especially against political rivals or presumed political rivals.

In the last few weeks, we have seen Trump go after the news media with vigor.  He has attacked our Intelligence Agencies, which he will head up in seven days.  He has attacked Democrats who oppose repealing the Affordable Care Act, reducing Medicare and Social Security.

However, Trump is not alone in his reprisal bluster.  Republican Congressmen are also getting into the act.  The other day, an Alabama Representative in the U.S. Congress said that the questions Democrats asked Jeff Sessions proved there was a “war on whites”.  Which is totally ridiculous and only adds fuel to the argument that Sessions is an open racist.

While all of this was going on, Trump was hit with that unverified dossier about Russia having some dirt on him. Mostly, he has still not said he would continue the sanctions placed on Russia over the interference in our elections.

He keeps deflecting that it “could have been others like China”.  All seventeen Intelligence Agencies have said Russia was involved, and tried to swing the election against Hillary Clinton.  They never said if it resulted in changing the outcome, but Trump keeps saying they said it did not.

Yet, despite calls from people like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell refuses to set up a special committee to investigate these hacks and their intentions.

There are also reports about Trump team contacting Russia.  The last claims that Mike Flynn called the Russian Ambassador the day Obama ordered several Russian spies out of the country.  I don’t know if it is true, but if it is that is disturbing.

There are all kinds of conflicts of interest facing Trump and his Presidency.  That came to light “big time” as Trump would say during Carson’s confirmation hearing.  Carson was asked if he could assure the people that none of the HUD money for public housing would end up in Trump company properties enriching the president and his family.  He said he could not.

The day Trump takes office he will have more potential conflicts of interest screaming for investigations into his practices than anyone in our history.  So, what does Jason Chaffetz plan on doing about all of this?  He has threatened to hold an investigation.

The problem isn’t that he is planning on investigating any of these potential conflicts of interest about Trump.  No, he is planning on investigating the Office on Government Ethics.  Why?  Because Mr. Shaub, who heads up the OGE didn’t say nice things about Trumps plan to “step back” from his businesses.

Shaub has said the whole thing announced at that infomercial the other day is “meaningless”.  In a speech at the Brookings Institute, Shaub said”

Stepping back from running his business is meaningless from a conflict of interest perspective.  The idea of setting up a trust to hold his operating businesses adds nothing to the equation. This is not a blind trust — it’s not even close.

Later defending his comments he said”

The only thing this has in common with a blind trust is the label, ‘trust.’ His sons are still running the businesses, and, of course, he knows what he owns.  The idea of limiting direct communication about the business is wholly inadequate. That’s not how a blind trust works.

So, the head of the OGE gave his opinion about the trust Trump claims he is setting up to avoid conflicts of interest which won’t avoid anything.  Besides, you cannot tell what conflicts of interest exists because Trump refuses to release his tax returns.  That is the only way to see everything he has and where conflicts could arise.

That was enough for Mr. Reprisal.  Chaffetz blew his top so to speak.  He immediately sent a letter to Mr. Shaub including a veiled threat to hold investigations on the OGE.  In his letter, Mr. Reprisal accused Mr. Shaub of:  “blurring the line between public relations and official ethics guidance”.

Republicans are also upset because they don’t believe that the OGE needs to finish all of its investigations into the ethics paperwork for each of the cabinet nominees.  Because of this, several nominee’s confirmation hearing had to be put on hold until the OGE and the FBI finish their background checks.

Chaffetz also noted in the letter how his committee has the authority to “reauthorize” the OGE and possibly even shut it down.  He wrote:

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is the principal oversight committee of the House of Representatives and may at ‘any time’ investigate ‘any matter’ as set forth in House Rule X.

There is no veiled threat here as far as I am concerned.  Chaffetz is openly telling Mr. Shaub that his agency, which ensures ethics in our government, must say nice things about Trump or face investigations.

Remember, when Republicans put their “rules” together, ethics was the one thing they wanted to erase from the government.  Only thousands upon thousands of people calling their Representatives kept them from putting that “rule” into their rules.

We are just seven days from this little boy gaining the power of the presidency.  Trump and his cronies have shown their disregard for the law and for ethics.  They have shown their willingness to threaten people who say things that are not favorable to them.  And, they are more than willing to conduct reprisals against any of their “enemies”.

I have never understood why Republicans are so anxious to kill our country and tear down our democracy.  Yet, that is exactly what they are trying to do.  You see it at the State level in places like the Soviet Socialist States of Kansas and North Carolina.  You are now seeing it at the Federal level.

The so-called party of “small government” wants that government so small that one man can run it and order you how to behave and live your lives.  Your voice and your opinions don’t count unless you agree with them.  That came to light during the “vote-a-rama” the Senate had the other night.

In order to repeal the Affordable Care Act, they held a bunch of votes.  Remember they said that when they repeal the ACA they would keep things like the protections for preexisting conditions and keeping your children on your plan until age 26.  Only, they voted those protections down during their vote-a-rama the other night.

Trump is going to become president with the least favorable rating of any president-elect in our history.  And, rather than those numbers increasing as we get closer to the inauguration, they are going down.  Congress, especially Republicans in the House, are showing their willingness to help him conduct reprisals against anyone who says something unflattering about him.

I don’t know what the future actually holds for us.  But, from where I am sitting, it doesn’t look bright or cheery.  On the other hand, it looks bleak and dreary.

As far as I am concerned, reprisals against political opponents is nothing short of government sanctioned terrorism against your own people.  Is that what we are heading towards?

 

 

Day 63

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

 

 

Day 61

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

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

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

Donald Trump Adviser Signals Plan to Change Veterans’ Health Care

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

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

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

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

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

Here is how the plan would work.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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