A President That Can’t Stay On Task: A Monday Rant.

As we know, DACA participation is limited to children that arrived in 2007 or earlier and that the President doesn’t understand it.

We know that the free press is important to our democratic systems.  We know that they play an important role in keeping the government in check. We know that his communication through Twitter primarily reaches his base when they are reported on in the news outlets he calls fake, not directly from his phone.

We know that a Trade war will hurt our economy.  Trade with China is tricky.  One thing that the President does not seem understand (or maybe he does) is that they have purchased a huge amount of Treasury notes.  It would be a disaster for America if the Chinese sold or cashed in on the US debt that backs them up.

We know that his obstruction of continuous funding for Obama health care to teach the democrats a lesson is only hurting and jeopardizing the lives of millions of Americans.  I hope that he recognizes how important Social Security an Medicare are.  He says he does, so I hope he keeps congress in check.  For many of those living on the SSA and Medicare benefits that they and their employers contributed to, live way below the poverty line as it is.  Age cycling is part of the process.

We know that the easiest way for the Russian probe to quickly conclude is for the President to tell the truth and not attack the FBI,CIA and Special Counsel.

We know that we will never see a 2,000 mile long border wall.

I worry that when Trump meets with Putin, the conversation will be more about the bromance rather than serious international relationship issues. We know for instance, he probably won’t increase pressure on Russia to end the genocide in Syria. We may never see a productive meeting between Trump and Un.  I think that it is weird that the President claims to be good friends with every foreign leader he meets after just 30 minutes.  We know that he is really uninformed on specifics when it comes to the war on ISIS and the increasing threat of the Taliban.  We know that he does not take seriously that the use of, or threat of even one nuclear weapon attack would probably provoke an Armageddon.

We know that he does not have any practical knowledge of the US Constitution nor the Bill of Rights.

We know that the President has no clue about the regulations that are being repealed.  If he did, he would know that some of these regulations are very key to the well-being and future of Americans.

We know that by not staffing cabinet and professional positions within the Administration, he is making many of our efforts, both domestic and international ineffective or non-existent.  We know that he doesn’t have a clear understanding about what is happening in several government (almost all) departments.  The EPA, Interior, Education and Urban development departments are suffering as a result of inexperienced leadership.  Also, there is no clear agenda or mission for any of these departments.

We all know that he struggles when it comes to international affairs…he seems confused about who is an ally and who is an adversary.  I am pretty sure  that he doesn’t understand the existing conflicts that we are involved in around the world besides the most publicized ones.

We know that his tax plan will catch up to the average American.

We know that his apearant loyalty to the NRA and his disregard and dismissive actions relative to the welfare of our children, or for that matter, American’s in general is not good.

The Stormy Daniels and Apprentice women’s legal activity can be resolved if he would again, tell the truth.

We know that he doesn’t take seriously that the war on drugs is a real war.  We know that he doesn’t understand that big pharma is responsible in part, for the transition from opioids to heroin.  Also, the war includes much more than Mexican cartels and addicts.  We know that talking about the gang problem won’t fix it.  We know that he doesn’t understand that many crime issues are not the exclusive responsibility of states and municipalities.

I worry that the President does not show or express his pride in being the leader of the strongest, most prosperous country in the world.  I also hope he understands that we need our allys, especially if we get into a complicated conflict that will require our friends help.  I also hope that he understands that the democratic members of our inner circle are collectively the key to all of our growth thru shared creativity and mutual expertise.

I am of the opinion that our President will suffer the same demise as pet rocks and beanie babies after his first couple of years. I am pretty sure that even some of his base will become weary and tired of his antics.

I hope he gets to a point where he realizes he is not helping himself by counting on the likes of Sean Hannity to provide advice on all things presidential.  I personally think that Hannity among others should be compelled to run for office.  If nothing else we will see if they are truly expert or full of it. I am pretty sure it is the latter.

I dream about the President’s last day in office, I have nightmares thinking of Pence as President.

I am sure you can tell that I didn’t vote Republican.  I do hope that our government gets on track, even though I don’t see any vehicle to take it there.

Well, that’s all I have for today.  I have to get up and walk ten miles uphill to pick up some Pepsi and popcorn to get ready to watch the next episode of Rosanne.

 

 

Advertisements

Protest and Government

Whether you have been paying attention to the “March for Our Lives” movement or not, you have been affected, whether you recognize it or not.

The large and extremely well-organized protests on Saturday demonstrate the influence that young Americans have on the culture of this country.  The message and call for action at its core reflects a collective voice determined to challenge those who claim power and influence over our government, thus our citizens.

Out of control gun violence in America is something that needs to be acknowledged and addressed by all of us…now…not later after hundreds more innocent people are gunned down and murdered by individuals who have no business owning or carrying a gun.

The solutions are complicated, if not elusive.  If a group of high school students can organize and articulate specific demands in order to stop the violence, they are obligated to pursue change.

Although the protest is anchored by the events at a high school in Florida, the movement is inclusive of all those affected by the horrific and tragic killings happening all over this country.  Collectively, they can flex their muscles to further their message with far more strength than any one individual.

Interestingly, the entire subject of gun violence as well as possible solutions including specific gun controls is a part of a debate.  A debate…we can not forget this.  As American’s we have the right to be passionate and vocal regarding our beliefs, principles and points of view.  The whole definition of debate starts with two opposing points of view, followed by thoughtful conversation and hopefully an agreement based on compromise and respect.

As it stands now, when it comes to many in politics there is no thoughtful debate.  Those who have the ability to make changes are fighting tooth and nail to oppose anyone who challenges their agendas, regardless of how sound the demands and expectations may be.

It is discouraging to me to listen to many of the politicians and special interests try to say that their positions are based soley on what they perceive as being in the best interest of their constituents and for the associations, their membership.  For this, I call “foul”.  If you listen to some law makers and special interest groups including the NRA, you can plainly see that there is a common theme.  If you listen to the opposition speak, they are expressing some ridiculous examples on how possible solutions, in this case gun control are going to jeopardize the second amendment rights of responsible gun owners in this country.

Rick Santorum was on the Sunday shows saying that it is wrong for the protest group to expect government to do something,  He said that the students need to look at themselves for a solution, not try to force someone else to do it for them.  He said they would be better served by learning CPR.  His comments are ridiculous.  Who else are they going to seek out to force change?  Is he saying that the government and it’s representatives are not responsible for changing the laws in this country.  The NRA is also pushing arguments that are weak and diliberatly in opposition of anyone who questions their position on gun related issues.  For the NRA to push the narrative that these groups are trying to take the guns away from citizens is dangerous and ludicrous.  By getting some of their members to believe this message, they are undercutting their own mission.  I hear people say that the kids are trying to say that they will no longer have the right to defend themselves. This mis-information is based on the messages propagated by media connected to the NRA. As far as legislators, it is immoral to accept money from the special interests and demonstrate their willingness to be owned and influenced by the agendas of these groups.  If they take the money, they are obligated to support their contributors causes…This applies to the influence of all special interest groups such as oil companies, agriculture lobby and many other industries, not just the gun manufactures.

Nobody can or will destroy the second amendment.  This doesn’t mean that reasonable regulation isn’t important and appropriate.  Why would anyone say differently? Regulations that work to make the country safer are at debate, not the second ammendment.

You don’t have to be a constitutional scholar to understand how the second amendment works.  The framers of the constitution included the right to bear arms as a provision to allow Americans to take up weapons, organize and defend our democratic form of government from being overcome by any attempt by an authoritarian group to take over control of our country and our people.  More recently, the Supreme court added to the ammendment, the right for citizens to possess firearms to protect themselves.

By the way, the NRA was not created to be a special political interest that represents the gun industry.  The association was founded in 1872 to provide training for military and American gun owners to improve their accuracy and marksmanship.  Back then rifles had smooth barrels and were incredibly inaccurate.  Even today, Shooters, when hunting or range firing, would or do have to fire off several shots to hit their target. Today, safety and marksmanship are still the major components that benefit the association’s membership.  Most of the best ranges, safety and marksmanship facilities in the country are supported by the NRA.  Their lobby is really not related to those functions.

Today and for the last several years gun manufacturers fund the NRA and their political efforts, not the members.  The gun manufactures count on the association to help sell firearms. This is not to say that some gun marketing isn’t beneficial to gun owners.  In depth product demonstrations and reviews are good for the consumer.

For me the rub is that the NRA didn’t become overwhelmingly political until a few decades ago.  The first candidate that they endorsed was Ronald Reagan.

It is very relevent and important to consider that gun regulations are prescribed by state and local governments based on their individual principles, not the federal government. There are examples of these laws all over the country.  Where I live it is illegal to discharge a gun within the city limits (very small town).  Just outside the city is some of the best hunting in the country.

The fact is that three percent of the country owns half of the nations guns.  Basically, the NRA, even with five million members represents a small part of our population.  If the The political debate and the opposing arguments for gun regulation is good for America…What is not good, is forcing such opposition through funding and support of American politicians.

There in lies the argument for blaming the government for not enacting laws to protect the American people no matter what the issues are.  The truth is that the NRA as well as groups such as shale energy special interests spend a fortune on forcing individual politicians to support their industry through legislation. There efforts have nothing to do with what is in the best interest of the participating representative’s constituency, just their industry’s profits.

For the young American’s, opposition to the NRA’s message and their seduction of politicians serves them well in forcing their message.

At the end of the day, this new movement has big muscles to flex.  If not, why would the politicians and groups such as the NRA care?  Why would those that support the NRA and some politicians care about the student movement?  Why don’t these groups organize eight hundred thousand people to get their opposing message across?

I can tell you why.  As I have pointed out in many posts, those of us who are older will soon have to give way to the younger citizens who will dictate the culture and social environment of this great country.  Voter turnout has been the downfall of many good efforts to force change.  This movement promotes and strives to increase voter participation by getting our young to vote. Remember, many of these kids are around seventeen or eighteen years old which is the demographic of the lowest voter turn out.

As with any group protesting for change, the most important, effective component is their voices.  If I was on the other side of the issue, I would worry about the millions of people who will soon be able to vote as well as their parents who will support their causes at the voting booth.  No amount of money for influence will change the overwhelming effectiveness of millions coming together to insist on change.

Remember the woman’s march and the conversations and actions that continue today. Remember the protests of the sixties, when young americans were drafted into the military without a choice.  In this movement’s case and because the French were defeated, President Johnson elevated the conflict in Vietnam just to demonstrate America’s military power while causing hundreds of thousands of American servicemen’s lives.  This war was not won by anyone…Remember the Black American protests led by Martin Luther King and civil lberty groups?  We still today have a very serious need to force action to close the gap of inequality and oppression.  These examples have or will change the course of this great country’s history.

It is important to respect all sides of any argument made by any citizen of this country. We have a responsiblity to listen to everyone and take action when we can.

Just my two cents worth.

Fusion GPS Transcript, Some Takeaways

I have had the opportunity to read the entire transcript of the Glenn Simpson Senate hearings.  With my usual unorthodox viewpoint, I came away with some observations.

Mr. Simpson indicated that not all campaigns can afford GPS’s services, which would explain why the Clinton campagne engaged them rather than the DNC.  This also explains to me why the Sanders campaign was not in the loop.  Not just because Clinton was running against him, but because his party couldn’t afford to pay for it.

It appears that the research project started with the conservative group the Washington Free Beacon originally retaining them to do the research on Trump.  The plan was to gain information that would be helpful to several candidates in the 2016 election.  At some point, they ended their agreement with GPS.

If it was me, given the substantial amount of information that had already been collected by Fusion GPS, I would jump at the chance to get them to help me, which the Clinton campaign did.

Interestingly, a lot of what Fusion GPS found in the beginning of their process focused on Trump dealings in countries other than Russia.  Also, I understand that the first thing that pointed them into the direction of ongoing improper business dealings, was Trump’s connection to the Russian mob.

In my opinion, it would make sense to focus a significant amount of intellectual resources to uncover issues related to the financial health and practices of Trump’s organization.  It is apparent that everywhere Fusion GPS was digging for information, Trumps name and involvement popped up.

For Glenn Simpson, It is a good thing he subcontracted or associated with people he has been dealing with for years who have significant expertise or ongoing relationships with certain groups.  Not only does that mean he can trust them, he is also able to utilize their expertise effectively.  A great example is the retaining of the Russian diplomatic interpreter.  If you don’t speak Russian and were trying to gain information from Russians, it would be imperative that you worked with a translator you can trust to properly convey or gather relative information.

It also sounds like his projects are not based on party affiliation which is supported by the make up of his group.  As an aside, I am sure that Mr. Simpson has run across some real flakes over the years, especially when he was an investigative reporter working for the Wall Street Journal.

When he first started his investigation, he testified that he was very familiar with Trump, his slimy business practices and his association with unsavory characters well before he was commissioned to take on this project.  He also said that during the most recent investigation, he discovered through public records that Trump is a horrible business man with many properties that didn’t make any money and are always embroiled in lawsuits related to his practices including his failure to pay his bills.  He also revealed that Trump’s ability to get money for places like the building in SOHO could only happen with the help of Russian financeurs.  If you remember anything from the old mob movies, you should remember that when you get into bed with the mob, you usually end up with a debt so large that you have to give them major control over what you do.  Can you say money laundering?

Fusion GPS didn’t commission Christopher Steele to do his research until long into the project.  Simpson testified that Steele was brought into the fold because of his ability to do extensive “human” research.  By the time he was commissioned, Fusion GPS had basically come to the end of their ability to gain information using their traditional methods.

Simpson testified that Mr. Steele was not given anything specific to investigate.  Instead, he was instructed to see what he could find out about Trump without any real expectations of what he was going to dig up.

The Dossier, actually a series of memorandums was the form of communication used by Simpson and Steele.  Given the content and chronology of the memos, it supports Simpson’s contention that he was not looking for anything specific.  As an aside, both Simpson and Steele were cognisent of the fact that they were, along the way, being given misinformation designed to effect their findings.  To me, that may be why there are some events in the dossier that may not be factual.

As Steele’s research unfolded, it became apparent that he and Simpson uncovered that Trump was involved in just about everything Russia.  They discovered relationships with oligarchs, banks controlled by the Russian government and so on.  He also discovered that the Russian government was playing Trump for a fool and had in fact among other things, set him up to be blackmailed.  When Steele discovered this happening he insisted on informing the government.  After settling a disagreement with Simpson on whether or not they should contact law enforcement, Steele met with his FBI contact in Paris.

Simpson testified that at the time, Steele’s information was considered credible by the FBI based on information they already had knowledge of through their own investigaion.  When the FBI was going public with information about Hillary’s email, they apeared to ignore the Dossier that Steele had been working with them on, so he quit cooperating with them.

Fusion GPS had no idea that the Russian government was hacking into the Clinton’s emails and were going to dump them on the American public.  The timing of their investigation proves that.

As far as Mr. Simpson’s testimony,  after 10 hours of grilling which generated 312 pages of testimony,  I can’t see how anyone would not take him at his word.  I believe that even though there was a lot of “I don’t recall” and “won’t answer” responses to the panel, his overall testimony supported the truth.  You would have to be pretty misanthropic to think otherwise.

You would have to be in denial if you can’t see the obvious connection between Trump’s Russian relationships and the meddling in our election brokered by Putin.

I personally am of the opinion that if any of the information gleaned by Fusion GPS were to have been shared with the American people during the campaign rather than six months later, we would possibly have had a totally different outcome to the election.  I am also of the opinion that the attacks on Hillary’s campaign were more a product of Putin’s hate and distane for her, not some overwhelming admiration of Trump.

It is my opinion that Mueller has a ton information that is not related to the Fusion GPS investigation and that the overall Fusion GPS/Steele findings are just one piece of a much larger puzzle for Mueller’s group.

To me the testimony was fascinating, informative and sometimes confusing.  Anyway, that is just a few of my thoughts on the latest news.  I could go on for hours, so I will spare you.

Whoa Democrats; In My Opinion We Need Hold Our Horses.

On Tuesday, the voters of Alabama made it clear that they didn’t want to have Roy Moore represent them in their state.  If this is what it takes for a Democrat to cross the finish line, the Democratic party may be a little premature in thinking that the future is so bright for the party.

In Alabama, had there been any other Republican in the race, the Democrats would have lost.  The evidence is in the numbers of write-in candidates.  Remember that red states are made up of traditional republican values.  These principles are what make up the party.

Unfortunately, for both parties and all Americans in general, we have a Republican President who is at the very least, ideologically miles away from the principles of most Americans.  He also lacks many of the character traits such as wisdom; maturity; knowledge; sincere compassion; integrity and respect among others.  As an aside, why does everyone think that the promises he made during his campaign are good?

I don’t believe that having a leader that behaves more like Biff in Back to the Future rather than the leader of the free world can be a good recipe for either party’s success.

As it stands now, the Republican majority is doing everything they can to flex their muscles as evidenced by their actions.  If the President and both parties adhered to the principles and compromises that were important to the framing of our constitution (the bundle of compromise at the Constitutional convention in 1787), we would have a more effective government.  Just think about it, we apply these principles in business and even our own daily lives.  If we have two opposing views, working together towards a common end makes any relationship much stronger.  I guess this demonstrates we all know that the concept works.  Incidently, I believe this is one reason the President’s business practices don’t translate well to the job he has now is mostly because he employs the old school management style of “my way or the highway”.

As it goes for elections, the opposing principles can be a good thing, not a battle field. When a party takes over the majority, generally, most american’s would be more accepting when both parties have substantive and thoughtful debate.

As it stands now, the Republican party is doing everything they can to dismiss and oppose the contributions of the Democratic party.  The Democratic side is doing everything they can to oppose and dismiss the efforts of the Republicans.  How that is working for them?

It’s kind of like two neighbors feuding over whether or not to cut down a tree.  Whoever owns the tree can cut it down no matter what their neighbor wants to see happen.  If the tree was sick and leaving it standing would endanger both sides, there would be common ground to come together and at least listen to each others viewpoints.  At the end of the day the tree has to come down in order protect everyone.

The elections and the structure of the many demonstrations prove that party differences are really important to American voters.  A perfect example of this is healthcare.  A part of the bill that is in effect now and is doomed to be repealed is the mandate requiring everyone to have health insurance.  Fundamentally, the Republicans believe that the government shouldn’t be involved in a person’s decision to have health insurance or not. They also believe that as a country, we can’t afford to expand Medicaid and related entitlements.  On the other hand the Democrats want the mandate.  In order to accommodate everyone, Democrats also want the government to pay the healthcare bills of anyone who can’t afford it.  The truth is that without the mandate, the insurance companies can’t turn a profit if there isn’t a significant pool of insured that are healthy and statstically stand less of a chance of  getting sick.  If we want healthcare, it doesn’t really matter what the demands of either party are.

In this case a middle ground would benefit all Americans.  To me, a simple compromise that benefits the Republican ideology would be to support some sort of mandate in order to keep rates down and maintain coverage for the broader population.  On the other side, the compromise could be for the democrats to make a concession to reduce the swelling of a bureaucracy and accept reforms of entitlement programs that would ultimately lower costs while keeping an important program functional.  Think about it, this would make the whole issue palatable and beneficial for both sides.

The us versus them mentality has to stop.  Americans and the voters that represent them need to see their party look out for them, not just win the pissing contests.  Until then the make up of our government by party line can’t be effective.

The point is that the democratic party shouldn’t be so confident moving forward.  Just as the Democrats take one seat by defeating a bad candidate, the Republicans can do the same in 2018 and 2020.

Personally, until we elect a new President, fresh congressional leadership and as long as Washington State is represented by one of the strongest Senators in the country, my views will lean left.  I also strongly believe that compromise is the key to all Americans being effectivly represented by the strongest form of government in the entire world.

For me, our government as a whole needs to get their act together. Yes, that includes state and local governments.

Trump Canada: Russian Ties?

canada

With all of the attention that is being focused on the Trump’s involvement with Russia, it got me thinking.  What is the deal with the properties that the Trump Company is involved with in Canada.  This last week while Trump was holding court to discuss his victory relative to the new tax bill, he, out of the blue brought up the NAFTA trade deal and how he was going to renegotiate this very bad agreement.

Some simple research showed me that Trump’s branding and hotel management agreements with the Canadian developers and owners are not very popular with the Canadian government and their citizens,  It seems that most Canadians have little or no appetite for his business practices, his treatment of Canada and his international ideologies in general.  As a whole, they do not like the Trump brand being plastered on the front of a couple of the most impressive buildings in the Vancouver and Toronto skylines.

The first thing I thought of was the possibility that he is covertly imposing his power while he is the President.  To me, it wouldn’t be a stretch that he could use his current platform to gain leverage.  What a better way to try and put Canada under his thumb than threatening to renegotiate a trade deal that is very important to Canada, their people and businesses.

The Canadian government has said that they are willing to renegotiate the agreement, however, I think that what they are able to do is not what President Trump says he will accept.  Wouldn’t it make sense for the American public to put up with some of the current Canadian trade components even though it would appear that the trade imbalance may not benefit this country in the short-term?  Isn’t it true that they are a very important, cooperative and loyal ally?

All of this being said, as an American, make no mistake about it, I am personally one hundred percent behind our country’s need to promote American interests through fair trade no matter who we have a relationship with.

Back to Russian money in Canada.

Trump’s partner, Russian-Canadian developer Alexander Shnaider, helped finance the hotel after selling his company’s share in a Ukrainian steelmaker for $850 million. The unknown buyer, financed by VEB, was reportedly “an entity acting for the Russian government.  This according to a report by the Wall Street Journal last May.

The fact is that the Trump organization did not have any involvement in the projects except for licensing the properties with the Trump brand.  In addition to the branding agreements, Trump also operated and managed the hotel portion of the buildings.

There is a silver lining for Canada.  The properties do employ a significant number of people.  Funny thing is though that many of the workers are imported from Euerope just as they are for his U.S. properties.  Of course, this practice doesn’t make the news cycle even given Trump’s position on immigration.

There are so many pieces to the workings of the deals, I can’t honestly believe that I can get all of the facts straight, so I won’t try.

The whole point of this article is to suggest that the Russians are involved.  For a guy that claims that he doesn’t have any significant ties to Russia, he sure seems to have significant ties to Russia.

If you are interested, there are some great articles posted by reputable news organizations such as the Wall Street Journal, the BBC and even the Seattle Times that are worth reading.