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Archive for the ‘Political’ Category

Why would our government craft bills that allow hunters to kill bears while they hibernate, or wolves and their young in dens?

There has been a public outcry about Trump’s initiative. Looking at it further, it’s less about bears and wolves, than it is about governmental reach and what conservatives call “wrongful seizure of authority.” Of course, this was supported by the NRA and the Safari Club International.

In reality, however, most of those practices were already prohibited to sport hunters under Alaska law, and some of them, including hunting coyotes in their dens and killing hibernating bears and cubs, were permitted to subsistence hunters even under the federal regulations.

The deeper issue all along was state vs. federal control of wildlife management. Despite support from scientific, environmental, and animal welfare advocacy groups, the federal restrictions were considered intrusive and unwarranted by many Alaskans. The state filed a lawsuit in January 2017 contending that the rules amounted to federal overreach, harming the ecosystem and citizens of Alaska. With the support of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Safari Club International, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) introduced H.J. Res. 69 in February 2017 to redress what he termed a “wrongful seizure of authority”:

— Snopes

If you read the Snopes analysis you will come away with the realization that as a result of this, no more or less bears will really be affected. It’s about Obama, and undoing his initiatives, relentlessly, one after the other.

Since Trump has no real convictions, or strategy, or vision other than self-aggrandizement, he will sign anything his special interest friends and kleptocrats will put in front of him.

Bears be damned.

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Trump remarked on “Fox and Friends” in an interview Friday that special counsel Robert Mueller is “very, very good friends with Comey, which is very bothersome.”

I find it bothersome that our President of the United States is appears to be very good friends with Vladimir Putin, and he does not find it disturbing that a foreign adversarial power appears to have messed with our elections in 2016. I find it bothersome that the president is not doing his duty, defending the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

What do you find more bothersome?

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What is with these outfits? Anyone? I thought we had the Trumpashians in the White House, instead it’s the Adams Family. And the Pope is not having any fun.

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Trump, in his first international trip, and with his interactions with the top international leaders, has showcased his ineptness and almost helplessness compared to everyone else.

In geopolitics, Russia is playing chess. China is playing Go, a game that focuses not on a decisive clash of forces like in chess does, but on strategic encirclement through subtlety, indirection, and the patient accumulation of relative advantage. The United States must strengthen its alliances to avoid a Russian checkmate and keep China from encircling a dominant sphere of influence.

ForeignPolicy.com

And there you have it. Russia is playing chess, China is playing go. I play both games, go at the Shodan level, so I understand the elegant complexity and long-term strategy. Trump is playing checkers. One clumsy move at a time, thinking he is getting immediate advantage by asking for money.

On the world stage, Trump is now meeting with the best, the brightest, and the most cunning diplomats from all nations. He cannot match them. He does not even come close. When he talks, they roll their eyes. Watch the eyes of the Pope when Trump speaks. Watch the eyes of Merkel. Hell, watch the eyes of Netanyahu when he sits there listening to Trump spewing drivel about Iran.

We Americans are viewed by the world as a nation of merchants. They think that making money is all that’s important to us, and unfortunately, our actions in the last five decades have reinforced that. We have now elected a glorified used car salesman, and while the rest of the world is trying to move on and forward, Trump is peddling 10-year-old jalopies. “Do I have a deal for you!”

Or “Iran will never have nuclear weapons, that I can promise you,” while Netanyahu rolls his eyes.

The United States, which is now taking massive steps to isolate itself away from the world stage, includes only 5% of the world’s population, but encompasses 22.5% of the world’s gross domestic product. We don’t have tact, or diplomatic skill. We play with checkers strategy against chess and go players. Frankly, we look stupid. The only reason we’re accepted anymore is because we have money, and we have big guns. With the strategy we’re applying now, the money will continue to dwindle, and with it the big guns. Decades hence, the history books will show the Trump administration at an inflection point downward, and they will indicate where the real decline of the United States actually started, and where the American century gave way to the Chinese century.

And Angela Merkel, and Emmanuel Macron, and Theresa May, and Xi Jinping, and Valdimir Putin – they all chuckle.

And I cringe.

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Trump, Obama, Bush, and Clinton never served in the military.

Each of them didn’t have any problem sending the sons or daughters of other fathers to far away lands to die. Every president, it seems, wants a good war. Trump is itching for a good war to gain relevance. This attitude of our country, this war-machine fueled economy, is what poisons the world, and – I honestly believe – is what actually causes Islamic aggression. If we left the Middle East alone, if we didn’t constantly meddle and send soldiers and drones, a new generation would grow up and go to college, put bread on their tables, and enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, in their own way.

But I digress on utopian ideas.

President Jimmy Carter has a reputation of being one of our weakest presidents. During his years, inflation was severe. Interest rates were in the high teens. I started my life in the United States during the Carter years.

President Carter is also one of the smartest presidents ever, with an estimated IQ of 153. He took graduate courses in nuclear physics and reactor technology as a Navy officer and submariner. Except for Dwight Eisenhower, no president of the 20th century spent more time in the service than Jimmy Carter. And finally, there were no wars in the Carter Administration. Eight people died in a hostage crisis, but otherwise, he is famous for having said: “We never dropped a bomb, we never fired a bullet.”

In a world where we have an entire generation that has grown up witnessing war overseas waged by the United States, a generation that doesn’t even remember Carter as anyone but a 92 year old ex-president that always seems to be working on humanitarian causes, I thought it might be a healthy reminder that there are other conduct options for our country than war.

And with that thought, let’s all go back to waking up every day seriously worried about what insane thing Trump might do today that can get millions of people killed while we’re making America great again.

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Desiree Fairooz was found guilty of “disorderly or disruptive” conduct after laughing at Sen. Richard Shelby’s (R-Ala.) claim that Sessions had a well-documented record of “treating all Americans equally under the law.”

— Mother Jones

This woman is now facing a year in jail.

I’d burst out laughing at such a statement too.

Jeff Beauregard Sessions, who was named after Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard, reminds me of a garden gnome every time I see him speak. I believe he is a disgrace to our law enforcement establishment and an embarrassment to the nation.

What concerns me most about this is that our current administration is slowly chipping away at our rights under the mantle of freedom as they define it. Freedom in their view is freedom to carry guns, even for certified mental cases, freedom for corporations to pollute without consequences, freedom to take land that is there for the public, and freedom to take the people’s money and put it into missiles, and trips to Florida for the king and his entourage.

But when it comes to the freedom of the people to laugh at their dunce hats and their clownish behavior, they have concerns. When it comes to the freedom of the press to report what they see as the truth, they want to change the First Amendment.

King Trump and the entourage are chipping away at our freedoms. They have another 1.75 years left to do it, until we throw out the enablers in Congress in the midterm elections.

I am too old to wish for time to go by quickly. But I can’t wait for the next 1.75 years to pass. I can’t stand it anymore. The swamp has turned into a cesspool.

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What were they thinking?

Why would a presidential campaign, just because two southerners were running, use a symbol of oppression, hate and treason as one of the campaign icons? Or were we less sensitive then?

Here is more of what I think about the confederate flag.

 

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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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