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Folks, this is what our government is all about. How to make more money for the American cleptocracy that has taken over our government, and the Russian opposition killer king.

The only way to stop them is to stop using oil. We have a ways to go.

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The GOP just voted for a law that allows your Internet service provider to sell your browsing history to anyone willing to pay for it. What on earth are they thinking? What’s the point of this?

Obviously, companies like Google, AT&T, Verizon, all the huge Internet service providers love this since there is a whole new revenue stream now going to those companies. There is no other reason on earth that would justify this. Obviously, the Internet service providers have paid off some congressmen and senators big time.

And this is the GOP, who always rants to us about privacy:

  • We can’t have a registry of gun owners, since that would be a violation of people’s privacy.
  • They have no problem not keeping a record of White House visitors anymore, citing privacy.
  • They don’t mind that Donald Trump keeps his tax returns private.
  • They want to keep research by the EPA on climate change private.
  • Mega donors to political action funds can stay private.

However, they don’t give a damn about the people’s privacy, if someone gets to make money off it:

  • Publishing our Internet browsing history, so we can be more exploited by targeted advertising is fine.
  • Publishing our emails and chat logs.
  • Publishing our health history.

Make no mistake about it. Anyone with access to your browsing history can exploit all these areas of your private lives. And now it’s for sale. And the GOP is enabling it.

I think they forgot that they are people, too. You see, for their health plan, Congress has its own and it does not have to live with the same plan the rest of us have to put up with. So they can repeal and replace all they want, and they are not affected. However, on the Internet, we’re all the same, and so are they.

There are already net-neutrality advocates who are crowd-funding initiatives to buy the browsing history of all congressmen and senators and publish it on the Internet. But that won’t quite work.

The problem is that the law will still prevent Internet service providers from selling data that can be connected to specific individuals. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 prohibits the sharing of “individually identifiable” information. However, aggregate customer information can be sold. And that’s where the rub is: There are companies whose specific business it is to match consumer tracking information with identifying details we all publish on Twitter and Facebook, and through this process it is possible to match our personal identity with our browser data.

Now the genius currently occupying the White House is signaling that Obama era regulation is overreach and he wants to tackle this. Oh boy, oh boy.

It won’t be done much legally, but you can bet that the crooks on the Internet will be doing it, and that’s where it’s going to hurt. Do I need to say “Russian bots” to get your attention?

This shows you that our government, the GOP, and Trump, just don’t know what they are doing. Yet, we gave them the keys to our lives.

 

 

 

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The White House wouldn’t publish the financial disclosures of its staffers, so ProPublica.org did it.

Check it out here.

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[photo credit – Wikipedia]

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I just came home from a neighborhood walk and noticed a Trump bumper sticker on the back of an SUV. I would think that just about now Trump voters might be taking down their stickers. Well, I was a Clinton voter, not because I thought she was a great candidate, but rather because I simple could not vote for Trump. For reasons, simply search “Why I Can’t Vote for Trump” on this blog and you’ll get 25 examples.

About two and a half months into his presidency, I believe things are in shambles.

He said he’d work this ass off (his words) and never have time to leave the Oval Office, because there was so much work he’d do for the American people. Instead, he’s been on vacation in Florida, he’s spent more money on travel in a couple of months than Obama did all year, he’s essentially been a part-time president.

He said he’d repeal and replace Obamacare on day one. On day 64 he threw in the towel. He kept telling his voters that they’d have a “terrific health care plan” which would be much better, at a fraction of the cost, if they elected him. He said he had this plan he could not tell us about. In reality, he had no plan, he didn’t even know “how complicated health care was.” And neither did the GOP in Congress. The repeal part would have been easy. The replace part simply could not get done in 64 days of a part-time presidency.

He said he’d drain the swamp in Washington. Instead he seems to be institutionalizing corruption in the White House. People did vote for Donald Trump, that is correct. But people did not vote for Ivanka and Jared, they did not vote for Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller. They did not vote for Donald Jr. and Eric Trump. He practices nepotism on a grand scale. And everyone in his cabinet seems to be mostly engaged in tearing down barriers to getting personally rich or richer.

He said he’d make America great again, whatever that means, but he is degrading the country in front of the world. Leaders the world around roll their eyes when they have to deal with Trump. He acts like a petulant child around them. He cannot communicate with them, and the does not appear to listen to them. On the world stage, he looks like a fool.

He says he is a great leader, but he divides the people. In his rallies, he incites hatred and division between people. In Congress, where he should be building alliances, he insults people personally and tries to bully them. The United States is not a company, and he is not a CEO. Bullying will not work. He is not a leader. He is a bully.

And most importantly of all, with every day that goes by he looks more illegitimate. The noose of the Russian scandal is tightening around his neck. Everyone around him appears to have had discussions and interactions with Russia, a bully nation with a leader running it like an organized crime institution. If any of the activities that appear to have gone on turn out to be true, people will go to prison for treason for those activities. And that would bring Trump down as a traitor. Certainly, if I were caught in such activities, they’d throw me in prison. Now the first person on the team, Flynn, is already asking for immunity. To quote Flynn during the campaign when he talked about Clinton: “If you’re asking for immunity, you probably committed a crime!”

I don’t think Trump will last four years in office. I think it’s time to scratch off those bumper stickers.

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The Affordable Care Act is not perfect. There is room for improvement. Nothing is perfect, and something this complicated will need constant and iterative improvement and updates.

But after the House voted more than 60 times over the last 7 years to repeal the law, knowing fully well that it would be vetoed, you’d think they’d do a better job getting it done this time around, with a president ready to sign.

The president said in every speech that he would repeal and replace the law on his first day. There are a few references listed above. Those are obvious and documented.

So why would the president say:

I never said repeal and replace Obamacare, and you’ve all heard my speeches, I never said repeal and replace it within 64 days.

What is this man thinking? That we’re all stupid and have amnesia? Of course he said it! He said it a hundred times or more. It’s documented.

But then, does he actually mean he never said he’d do it in 64 days? Is it the 64 days that he’s referring to? I sure hope not.

So then, what is this president saying when he makes such a statement?

I don’t like to have a president that says stuff that either:

  • makes no sense
  • is purposely misleading or obfuscating
  • is obviously wrong and can be documented as such (is that a lie?)
  • is wrong but can’t easily be proven (that is a lie)

Why does he do that? Does he think we can’t figure it out? I don’t seriously think so. I think he simply does not give a shit. He is so enamored with himself that it really does not matter to him what we all think. He is in the history books now as the 45th President of the United States. And nobody and nothing can take that away.

How does he expect us to treat him with any respect? How does he expect other world-leaders to treat him with respect? They will never know if what he is saying is true, reliable, and accurate.

No, they actually know the opposite: Whatever Trump says is mostly not true, not reliable, and certainly not accurate.

Trump is doing serious damage to his own credibility, and he is sullying the presidency.

Will the dignity and decorum of the office ever return?

 

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In the past couple of months, I have done book reviews and reminders on this book here and here.  The book largely tells the story of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer of the British investor Bill Browder, who was tortured and eventually killed by the Russian authorities in what looks like a case of political punishment and retribution instigated by Putin himself.

We have recently seen several stories of Russian dissidents and opponents of Putin getting killed, poisoned, and splashed with die – all to keep Putin in power.

Today I heard a remark in the Rachel Maddow show about the lawyer of the Magnitsky family. Supposedly he fell from the fourth floor of his apartment building one day before he was supposed to appear for a court hearing on the Magnitsky case.

Who falls from a building? The government says he was moving a Jacuzzi and fell. How convenient! He couldn’t appear in court the next day.

Does any of this make you want to start business ties with Russia?

 

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This is the cover of the Bloomberg Businessweek of March 6 – 12. There is a lead article about Stephen Miller, one of Trump’s advisors, and it speculates that it’s Miller who calls the shots, as you can see from the subtitle:

Is Stephen Miller speaking for Donald Trump? Or vice versa?

Miller has an impressive resume for a man that’s only 31 years old. My own daughter is only a few months younger than Miller, and I remember vividly the months when she was an infant, carrying her in a snugly for long walks in the evenings to tire her out before putting her into her crib. Right around the same time, Miller’s dad probably did that for him. That time seems like yesterday.

Now, this young man, half my age, appears to wield enormous power in the Oval Office. To find out how that happened, you have to read the Businessweek article.

But what gets me is his picture. I must admit, I don’t know Miller, but the few clips I have seen of him speaking gave me goosebumps, and his looks, his eyes and his demeanor appear outright sinister. He is one of those people I intuitively avoid when I cross paths with them in life.

They say you should not judge a book by its cover. But I am judging here, and I can’t help myself.

I do not have a good feeling about Stephen Miller.

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I for one do not agree with your military spending, and the need for increasing it. We spend way too much on the military, and from THAT program, we’re not getting the results we expect. Taking meals from seniors and school children to pay for another fighter jet is ludicrous, despicable, and immoral.

It was immoral under Reagan, under Bush, under Clinton, under Bush, and under Obama.

It is still immoral under Trump.

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For those of us who thought that Trump might “clean up his act” once he was president now know: What we saw is what we got. Trump is a boor. Always been one, always will be one.

When he was a businessman in New York, he could trample on others, throw tantrums, sue people, stiff contractors and insult employees.

Now, the whole world is listening to every word that comes out of his mouth. And it’s not pretty. Trump speaks like a fourth grader, and he rambles. Listen carefully and you will notice that he says everything two or three times to fill dead air. A point that could be made with five well-chosen words expands into ten paragraphs of drivel. Only when he reads off paper or a teleprompter does he utter sentences, but they are stiff and wooden. He is not even a good reader, or his speech writers are bad writers so his words don’t ring real.

Here is the problem, though. As a CEO, if you can’t speak, or can’t control what you say, you’re being punished by your business and your customers. When you’re the president of a nation, you have the smartest people in the country paying attention to what you do and say, and the very sharpest foreign leaders and diplomats are at your table or next to you at the lectern.

These people can tell immediately when you don’t know what you’re talking about. Trump’s statements about NATO funding today were utterly ridiculous and simply exposed him as a fool. Every world leader knows that now. And worse, everyone who works for Trump, either his direct reports in the White House or Cabinet, or the people in the EPA, in NASA, in the CIA, FBI and the NSA – all highly intelligent, expertly educated, highly credentialed professionals – all cringe every time our Embarrassment-in-Chief opens his mouth or posts on Twitter.

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.

— attributed to Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln, and many others.

I know what Angela Merkel is thinking now, and it’s not just because I speak German.

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During the presidential campaign, I used to ridicule Ben Carson and state that he gave brain surgery a bad name. I recently blasted him for his comments on slavery.

So I decided to read up on Ben Carson:

He was the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland from 1984 until his retirement in 2013. As a pioneer in neurosurgery, Carson’s achievements include performing the only successful separation of conjoined twins joined at the back of the head, pioneering the first successful neurosurgical procedure on a fetus inside the womb, performing the first completely successful separation of type-2 vertical craniopagus twins, developing new methods to treat brain-stem tumors, and reviving hemispherectomy techniques for controlling seizures. He became the youngest chief of pediatric neurosurgery in the country at age 33. He has received more than 60 honorary doctorate degrees, dozens of national merit citations, and written over 100 neurosurgical publications. In 2008, he was bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.

— Wikepedia

Now he is the Secretary of HUD.

Dude, what in the world happened to you? Get away from Trump and do some more brain surgery!

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Trump’s Management and Budget Director, Mick Mulvaney, said that reducing government spending on ineffective programs is “probably one of the most compassionate things we can do.”

Now how is that for a batshit crazy statement from an apparently deranged administration? I would definitely not call it “compassionate.” Maybe frugal, fiscally responsible, socially responsible, responsible — those would all be words that I could marginally accept, since valid arguments can be made. Taking something of significance away from people is not compassionate under any circumstances.

One of my readers (MB) has suggested that it’s not just the meal, but the fact that volunteers deliver the meals, and that this visit by a volunteer is often the only human contact the elderly recipient gets all day, is a huge contributing argument.

Finally, I challenge Mulvaney’s term “ineffective programs” in this context. Who decides whether it’s ineffective? Ask one of the recipients that’s eating. Not a single one of them will call it ineffective.

It has been estimated that an entire year of meals on wheels for a senior costs as much as ONE DAY in the hospital for that senior. The whole idea of the program is to provide nutritious meals for low-income seniors in their homes, so they don’t have to go out in the cold to shop and eat out, and risk hurting themselves by falling.

Supposedly 500,000 veterans are on meals on wheels. In 2016, 219 million meals were delivered to 2.4 million seniors.

The cost of the program is about $1.4 billion, $523 million come from the Federal Government. So we’re saving $523 million dollars.

Every single F-35 fighter plane costs over $100 million. We’re buying 2,443 of them, this was under Obama. Trump is increasing the military budget by $50 billion.

Are we really saying that we can’t live with five F-35 planes less to pay for meals on wheels in 2017?

Hell, in the Yemen raid they abandoned a single Osprey helicopter valued at $75 million due to a poorly planned and executed raid. That’s 15% of the entire annual meals on wheels budget for the Federal Government.

And more hell, Trump has already spent more than $10 million on vacations for himself since he’s been in office. That would have paid for the program for one week. But Trump getting to spend time in Florida is obviously more important.

A society shows where its values are by where it spends its money. Trump obviously has no values other than his own aggrandizement. But I am ashamed for everyone else in the government and Congress who go along with these despicable and senseless changes to a well-working system.

But then, lies are truth, war is peace, and taking meals away from 2.4 million seniors is compassionate.

Crooks, they are.

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Rex Tillerson used the fake email name Wayne Tracker (his middle name is Wayne) within the Exxon email system for dialogs about global warming and how it could affect Exxon’s business. Of course, we have seen smoking gun documents from within the fossil fuel industry for decades about global warming, just like we saw tobacco documents in that industry in prior decades, before we all got smart.

Now you can’t smoke in public buildings anywhere in the United States. We have come to accept the reality that has been there all along, even though the tobacco lobby obfuscated it for decades and fought against it.

My question is: Why would Tillerson use a fake name? Is it because the CEO of Exxon can’t be seen discussing climate change issues within Exxon?

We have elected a clown president. With every new day it looks like we have also elected a crook president. We are still waiting for the truth to come out. Regarding climate change, Trump’s election may actually be a good thing, in the long run, because there is no way this issue will remain obfuscated with the international flood lights now shining on this issue from all directions. Climate change will be settled once and for all, and if the president and his cabinet are a bunch of crooks, as it is starting to look, they’ll eventually all be thrown out and the country can heal again.

They railed about Clinton being corrupt, and as I learn more I tend to agree, but for Trump to call Clinton corrupt….

Well, we all have heard about the kettle, haven’t we?

 

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You can’t make this stuff up. Ryan is aghast because the healthy are paying for the sick. Congressman John Shimkus of Illinois doesn’t think men should pay for prenatal care. There is this odd sentiment that the healthy should not pay for the sick.

It’s called INSURANCE, gentle congressmen!

I have automobile insurance so I never, ever use it. I have it so I have coverage in the extremely remote event that I do some serious damage to some other person or vehicle, and I am not bankrupted by my mistake – or accident. Everyone that does not have accidents pays for those that do. That’s what we have insurance for.

I have fire insurance for my home so if I am unfortunate enough and my iron fails and burns down my house, I get it replaced. Everyone else’s money pays for my house. I have paid homeowners insurance for 40 years, and never once used it. I am sincerely hoping that I will never use it. Yet, I gladly pay. That’s what we have insurance for.

Health insurance is no different. It’s designed to cover me against catastrophic illness, accident, or other medical misfortune. It’s the job of the actuaries to find out how much it takes from the public to pay for the sick. Younger people pay less. They are less likely to need it. Older people pay more. Smokers should pay more. That’s what the Affordable Care Act was all about.

It’s called insurance.

 

 

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Amidst all the confusion and obfuscation by the president and his stooges, the real work is being done by Congress, and nobody seems to be watching.

1. HR 861 Terminate the Environmental Protection Agency
2. HR 610 Vouchers for Public Education
3. HR 899 Terminate the Department of Education
4. HJR 69 Repeal Rule Protecting Wildlife
5. HR 370 Repeal Affordable Care Act
6. HR 354 Defund Planned Parenthood
7. HR 785 National Right to Work (this one ends unions)
8. HR 83 Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Bill
9. HR 147 Criminalizing Abortion (“Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act”)
10. HR 808 Sanctions against Iran

Congress is quietly dismantling our country as we know it. They are “making America great again” by throwing it back to the way things were in the 1940s. Seriously?

Pretty soon they’ll turn the Internet off because too many of us pesky citizens are watching and posting nasty fake news like this.

Pretty soon we’ll all be poor, since the billionaires are going to suck up more and more of our taxes and resources, and then they’ll take our iPhones away because we’ll need this money to buy health insurance on the open market.

What is DeVos going to do when the Department of Education no longer exists? What is Scott Pruitt going to do when he turns off the lights at the EPA?

I am seriously scratching my head. America is going to be “great again” when abortion is criminalized, when there is no EPA to keep a check on the rampant rape of our land by industry, when every state makes its own decisions about education, when millions of people who just managed to get health insurance will lose it again?

This is all going on while the presidential clown show is underway in Florida, keeping us distracted from the real changes happening that affect all of us every day.

Are they serious?

We really want this?

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