Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Steve Bannon Loves War, Trump Is a Fascist, America’s Very Dangerous Situation

President Trump has shaken up the National Security Council. He promoted Steven Banner, his chief strategist, to the top position at the NSC.

Bernie Sanders: his promotion is “Very dangerous and [the promotion] unprecedented.”

Robert Reich: “Here’s the big worry. Trump is unhinged and ignorant. Bannon is nuts and malicious. If not supervised by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, their decisions could directly endanger the world.”

“ [Steve Bannon] has long been obsessed with waging wars.”

“ Lenin [a Russian communist revolutionary, politician, and political theorist] wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal, too. “I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment,” Bannon said at a book party in Washington, D.C., in November 2013.

He is certainly not suitable for either of the positions Bannon holds.

Steve Bannon loves war, and Donald Tr

ump is a fascist, which puts the United States in a very precariously dangerous situation.

Bernie Sanders

Very dangerous and unprecedented. It appears that Trump's foreign and military policy, issues that involve war and peace and the lives of American men and women in the military, will be determined by politics and not the needs of the American people. We do not need an extreme right-wing political operative on the National Security Council. We need smart and experienced people who will do everything possible to protect our country and create a world of peace and justice. Steve Bannon must be removed from the National Security Council.

Robert Reich

Scarier and scarier. Trump has reorganized the National Security Council by elevating his chief political strategist Steve Bannon, and demoting the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Bannon will join the NSC's principals committee, the top inter-agency group advising the President on national security. And the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will now attend meetings only when "issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed," according to the presidential memorandum issued yesterday.

Political strategists have never before participated in National Security Council principals meetings because the NSC is supposed to give presidents nonpartisan, factual advice.

Reminder: Before joining Donald Trump's inner circle, Bannon headed Breitbart News, a far-right media outlet that has promoted conspiracy theories and is a platform for the alt-right movement, which espouses white nationalism.

Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice calls the move “stone cold crazy.” Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who also served under George W. Bush, says the demotions are a "big mistake.” Republican Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, told CBS News, "I am worried about the National Security Council. … The appointment of Mr. Bannon is a radical departure from any National Security Council in history." McCain added that the "one person who is indispensable would be the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in my view."

Here’s the big worry. Trump is unhinged and ignorant. Bannon is nuts and malicious. If not supervised by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, their decisions could directly endanger the world.

With National Security Council Shakeup, Steve Bannon Gets A Seat At The Table

Monday, January 30, 2017

Trump's Muslim Ban Is Just the Beginning

President Trump has been busy fulfilling his campaign promises. Following the inaugurations of Presidents, it seems like a prudent thing to do. The nature of the promise, however, must be justifiable. If there were terrorist activity in the United States caused directly because of failures in our immigration system, Trump's ban would be justifiable. But that has not happened. Trump and his administration claim his recent executive order to suspend entry for immigrants from seven Muslim countries and refugees from Syria to the United States is not a Muslim ban, but many believe, me included, that it is, and this is just the beginning.

This what Robert Reich has to say:

Trump's Wall: Expensive and Least Effective Protection

We already have a wall. It gets climbed over. Trump's will too. But, more than that, Trump's Border Wall Is An Example of Bad Leadership; the cost to build Trump's wall, taking down what is existing, I assume, and building a new cement wall or something similar, is mind-boggling. Like his recent ban on Muslims, which he did not carefully and critically examine prior to implementing, a wall will fail to do what is expected, have unintended consequences—if nothing else, as a result of his proposed 20% tax on Mexican imports—and "is the most expensive and least effective way to secure our border."

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Big Lie: Big Government Sucks

A friend messaged this graphic to me today. The message he wished to make is that big government sucks.

Of course, it’s what a “lefty” should expect from a conservative website. The problem, as usual, is it’s an “alternative fact,” I guess you could call it—or, perhaps, it’s “truthful hyperbole.”

The fact is that Hiroshima was rebuilt because of big government initiatives: The Japanese government through the Hiroshima Peace Memorial City Construction Law passed in 1949. Moreover, “the US occupied Japan from 1945 to 1949, and in that time rebuilt Japan to a large degree, in what was, in effect, the Japanese version of the Marshall Plan,” the American initiative to aid Western Europe after the end of World War ll.

“Between 1946 and 1952, Washington invested $2.2 billion—or $18 billion in real 21st-century dollars adjusted for inflation—in Japan’s reconstruction effort.”

Robert Reich on Aetna, one of the most irresponsible corporations in America

I’m placing Aetna, the giant health insurer, on my list of the most irresponsible corporations in America. Why? Because last summer Aetna falsely claimed it was pulling out of all but four of the 15 states where it was participating in Obamacare because it was losing money. That pullout has been used by Republicans to justify repealing the act. Just last week, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Aetna’s action proved how shaky Obamacare’s exchanges are.
Yesterday, a federal judge found Aetna had lied. Federal judge John D. Bates said Aetna pulled out of the exchanges in response to a pending federal antitrust suit to block its proposed $37-billion merger with Humana. Aetna threatened the pullout from states and counties where Aetna was making money but where the Justice Department thought the merger would produce unlawfully low levels of competition. By pulling out, Aetna wanted to make the government’s argument irrelevant. “The evidence provides persuasive support for the conclusion that Aetna withdrew from the on-exchange markets in the 17 complaint counties to improve its litigation position,” Bates wrote.
Aetna executives did everything possible to conceal their decision-making from the court -- discussing the matter on the phone rather than in emails, and by shielding what did get put in writing with the cloak of attorney-client privilege, a practice Bates found came close to “malfeasance.”
Bottom line: Aetna is partially responsible for jeopardizing the health coverage of more than 20 million Americans, so it could achieve a merger that would reduce competition and raise prices for consumers, and thereby improve shareholder returns and raise their executive’s pay.
If you have a health insurance policy with Aetna, you might want to consider switching to a responsible health insurer.

Charlie Chaplin's ‘The Great Dictator,’ a Sad Commentary on Our World

I am 80-years old. Over the years, I have heard versions of this same rhetoric—here by Charlie Chaplin but most of the time from presidents and world leaders, religious leaders, winners of the Nobel Laureate peace prize, celebrities and others—time and time again. Seventy-seven years later nothing has changed. Seventy-seven years from now nothing will change either. Sad commentary on our world. We talk about it but we don't unite to make it happen. Instead we accept men like Donald Trump, who does not possess one endearing quality—politically, morally, or ethically—to lead . . . that apparently too many of us would want our children to emulate, and we accept "alternate facts" and "truthful hyperbole" as being acceptable as fact.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Boston.com via The AP: Trump orders media blackout at EPA

The Trump administration has instituted a media blackout at the Environmental Protection Agency and barred staff from awarding any new contracts or grants.

Emails sent to EPA staff since President Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday and reviewed by The Associated Press detailed the specific prohibitions banning press releases, blog updates or posts to the agency’s social media accounts.

The Trump administration has also ordered a ‘‘temporary suspension’’ of all new business activities at the department, including issuing task orders or work assignments to EPA contractors. The orders are expected to have a significant and immediate impact on EPA activities nationwide.

The EPA did not respond to phone calls and emails requesting comment Monday or Tuesday.

The Problem is Trump as President of the United States

To email questions by The New Yorker’s Judith Thurman, Philip Roth, the author of “The Plot Against America,” said, “It isn’t Trump as a character, a human type—the real-estate type, the callow and callous killer capitalist—that outstrips the imagination. It is Trump as President of the United States.”

And, I might add, “It is Trump as President of the United Sates” who believes he can use “alternative fact” and “truthful hyperbole” to con America. Providing facts does not make it easy to deceive or trick someone.

“I was born in 1933,” [Roth] continued, “the year that F.D.R. was inaugurated. He was President until I was twelve years old. I’ve been a Roosevelt Democrat ever since. I found much that was alarming about being a citizen during the tenures of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. But, whatever I may have seen as their limitations of character or intellect, neither was anything like as humanly impoverished as Trump is: ignorant of government, of history, of science, of philosophy, of art, incapable of expressing or recognizing subtlety or nuance, destitute of all decency, and wielding a vocabulary of seventy-seven words that is better called Jerkish than English.”

Thurman’s column is worth a read.

 By Judith Thurman

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Did Not Consent To the Presidency of Donald Trump

People say just give Donald Trump a chance. President Obama said, if he succeeds, America succeeds. But I will not support Donald Trump. If he succeeds in making America great, as he envisions it to be, he will have succeeded in making America all I do not want my country to be.

Now that we have a President Trump, it’s up to us to fight the forces that put him there and the forces that want change so badly that it seems anything is okay as long as it’s a change from what they perceive as wrong in our county. I do not believe they are going to get the change most are expecting.

Heather McGhee, appearing on Bill Maher’s Real Time show on Friday said, it’s a “Test of character for the American people.”

I join with John Pavlovitz in saying, “Let the record show that I did not consent to this.

“And if I prove to be wrong, it will be one of the most joyful errors of my life. I will own these words and if necessary, willingly and gladly admit my misjudgment because it will mean that America is a better and stronger nation, and the world a more peaceful place.

“But right now I don’t see that happening.

“Right now I am worried for my country, concerned for our planet, scared for the future of my children, and greatly saddened that 62 million Americans seem okay with all of this.”

Let the Record Show

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Donald Trump Says He Will Evict the Press from the White House

Many of us warned that this was coming. Disappointingly, not enough people were paying attention.

Donald Trump's antagonistic behavior toward the press will continue. It will get much worse.

Here is Robert Reich's report:
According to three senior officials on the transition team, the incoming Trump administration is considering evicting the press from the White House press room and moving them – and news conferences -- to a conference center or to the Old Executive Office Building. (The “press room” contains work stations and broadcast booths, as well as the briefing area for presidential news conferences.)

Sean Spicer, Trump's press secretary, acknowledged that "there has been some discussion about how to do it” because the new administration would like to allow more members of the press into press conferences (and, presumably, more paid staffers to jeer at reporters who ask critical questions and applaud Trump’s answers, as they did at last week’s press conference).

Another senior official suggested that the move was a reaction to hostile press coverage, and the view that the press had become the enemy. "They are the opposition party," said the senior official. "I want 'em out of the building. We are taking back the press room."

Reporters have had workspace at the White House since Teddy Roosevelt was president, in 1901.

Another blow against democracy.


Exclusive: The Trump Administration May Evict the Press from the White House

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Good Old Days before Obamacare

Does anyone remember the ‘good old days’ before the Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare)?

For years before Obamacare, healthcare insurance had steadily increased. In the years just prior to ACA, private insurance premiums rose 9.9% in 2008, 10.8% in 2009, and 11.7 % in 2010, according to the Commonwealth Fund. That is about 10.8% a year on average.

“Increased costs for employers and employees are up around 50% over the past eight years—but they could have risen far higher had the Affordable Care Act never passed.”

People, who support the repeal of ACA, cite higher costs of premiums and out-of-pocket costs as their major concern. However, increases in costs are not because of ACA. ACA does not govern what insurance companies charge for premiums or what they require in out-of-pocket costs. Insurance companies are responsible for increasing costs that are increasing at a greater rate than incomes. On the other hand, ACA sets limits on out-of-pocket maximums and deductibles.

Before Obamacare, the only way most of us could afford good comprehensive healthcare insurance was through employers. But, if you lost your job and could not afford COBRA, you were out of luck.

Before Obamacare, insurance providers could charge people more depending on how sick they were. Companies could drop coverage or deny coverage altogether. Insurance companies kept their cost down simply by denying sick people coverage.

Before Obamacare, women could be charged more for insurance or even denied coverage if they were pregnant, because insurers designated it as a pre-existing condition.

Before Obamacare, your insurance plan could be cancelled because you got sick.

Before Obamacare, children could remain on their parent’s health plan if they were a full-time student. Otherwise, at 18 years old you were on your own. However, typically the cut-off age was 22 years old.

Before Obamacare, about 2 out of 10 people had no healthcare insurance in 2006, according to the U.S. Census. In 2006, approximately 19.3 % of children in poverty were uninsured.

President-Elect Donald Trump has repeatedly promised to repeal and replace Obamacare, which he called "a disaster."

The problem is the Republicans don’t have a replacement plan. And, despite  rhetoric of needing to keep some aspects of Obamacare intact, 
Senate Republicans voted to completely repeal ACA. The Senate's repeal package is now in the hands of House Republicans.

Senator Bernie Sanders, an advocate of a single-payer system with universal healthcare coverage, writes:

Saturday, January 14, 2017

President-Elect Trump, Republican Party, and a Country with No Sense of Ethical or Moral Behavior

It's an American right to criticize whether qualified to do so or not. That's free speech, granted under the United States Constitution. But apparently it’s not if your criticism is of president-elect Donald Trump. Walter Shaub, director of the federal Office of Government Ethics, whose independent office is responsible for making sure that federal officials observe conflict-of-interest laws, called the arrangement for Trump's business “wholly inadequate and would leave him susceptible to “suspicions of corruption.” That roused the ire of the Republican Party who have summoned Walter Shaub to a closed-door interrogation session to explain his criticism of President-elect Donald Trump’s conflict-of-interest plans.

Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Chairman of the  House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, “noted that his committee has the power to decide whether to reauthorize the ethics office — a pointed threat to punish the office for the director doing his job.”

The United States of America has always bragged of its lofty ideals. However, it can no longer. We have a soon to be President Donald Trump who has no sense of ethical or moral behavior, and a Republican Party and citizenry complicit in it.

Donald Trump treats Vladimir Putin with more respect than he does John Lewis

Representative John Lewis was a significant participant in the dangerous days of the Civil Rights Movement.

"One thing you cannot say about John Lewis is that he is "all talk, talk, talk - no action or results," says Dan Rather of Donald Trump's Tweet: “Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk - no action or results. Sad!”

Lewis’ whole life has been about supporting the civil rights of all Americans. His actions speak load and clear that he is not a man of just talk: “Lewis and fellow activist Hosea Williams led over 600 marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. At the end of the bridge, Alabama State Troopers who ordered them to disperse met them. When the marchers stopped to pray, the police discharged tear gas and mounted troopers charged the demonstrators, beating them with night sticks. Lewis's skull was fractured, but he escaped across the bridge to Brown Chapel, the movement's headquarter church in Selma. Before Lewis could be taken to the hospital, he appeared before the television cameras calling on President Johnson to intervene in Alabama. Lewis bears scars from the incident on his head that are still visible today.”

Here is Dan Rather’s take”:

I want to avoid getting too caught up in the tweets of Donald Trump, but there are some comments that are so far beyond the pale that one risks normalizing them by ignoring them. And the message that Mr. Trump said today about Representative John Lewis, a true American hero, is such an instance.
To be sure, Mr. Lewis levelled some very sharp criticism at the incoming president yesterday - calling his election illegitimate on account of Russian interference. We all know this story seems to grow darker and more worrisome by the hour. I have never seen an administration begin under such a serious cloud.
One can easily understand why Mr. Lewis' comment would anger Mr. Trump because it is a real threat. The famed and respected Civil Rights leader is putting into words what few of his political peers have dared say out loud. And we must note that there are still many more questions about this issue than there are answers. The fact that the Senate will now conduct hearings - mark you hearings that may very well cast doubt on the legitimacy of a president who has yet to be officially inaugurated - will hopefully lead to a more complete account of what took place.
But whatever the truth is about these swirling allegations on Russia, and whether one feels such conclusions of illegitimacy are premature, Mr. Trump would have been well served to have let Mr. Lewis' comments pass. Of course he couldn't. In a pair of tweets the President-elect wrote:
"Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to......mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk - no action or results. Sad!"
I have known Mr. Lewis for decades. I covered him in those early and dangerous days of the Civil Rights Movement when almost all the institutions of government and society, especially in the South, seemed to be arrayed against the young activists. One thing you cannot say about John Lewis is that he is "all talk, talk, talk - no action or results." This man came within a hair's breath of dying after being beaten by Alabama State Troopers on a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. His expert organizing skills and moral clarity made the United States a far more just and equitable nation. And for all this to happen at the beginning of Martin Luther King weekend, of all times.
Perhaps the conservative political commentator Bill Kristol said it best in one of his tweets:
"It's telling, I'm afraid, that Donald Trump treats Vladimir Putin with more respect than he does John Lewis."

There are a few conscientious Republicans, believe it or not.

"A Senate Republican is blasting President-elect Donald Trump's criticism of Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), praising the lawmaker for his leadership in the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

"Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) on Saturday seized on Trump's characterization of Lewis as 'All talk, talk, talk - no action,' pointing out that his 'talk' made a significant contribution in the civil rights movement.

'John Lewis and his 'talk' have changed the world,' Sasse tweeted.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Robert Reich:Trump is Nixon squared

Robert Reich, who served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and was Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton, always has a point of view worth considering. He is always a good read.

Here is Reich's view on Trump's Russia problem and Trump's financial conflicts.

President Obama, Vice Presiden Joe Biden: A Very Classic Act

Clearly, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden exemplify family values. It would be very difficult, maybe impossible, for anyone to set a better example, and not just family values but of friendship and what a relationship between a President and Vice President of the United States should be.

A friend of mine said, “As I was tearfully watching this, including Joe Biden's thank you, I often asked, ‘how could Donald Trump EVER come close to the greatness and accomplishments in so many areas, including politics, family, personal integrity, and survival under great duress, of this man?’

“The answer? NEVER!”

A Trump Fake Press Conference More Like A Rally

This is how Politico’s Annie Karni explains the fiasco:

“When Donald Trump gathered the press at Trump Tower 20 months ago to announce his unlikely candidacy for president, he reportedly paid actors to fill the marble lobby and cheer.

“Not much — and everything — has changed since.

“On Wednesday morning, when the president-elect once again faced hundreds of reporters from around the globe gathered in his lobby -- this time for his first press conference in seven months — Trump filled the room with paid staffers who clapped and cheered as he blasted members of the media as purveyors of “fake news.”

“It was Trump’s method of battling back an extraordinary report that U.S. intelligence officials have presented both Trump and President Barack Obama with unverified allegations that Russia has compromising information about the incoming 45th president, including about a reported salacious encounter in a Moscow hotel room.”

The Trump Presidency in a State of Total Disorder

It is as the Guardian’s Richard Wolffe expresses it: “a shambolic presidency,” one that will be in full bloom in seven days.

So, look out America, the next four years is going to be a very rough ride.

Wolffe writes:

“Judging from Wednesday’s trainwreck press conference – the first since July – Trump and his handlers have no self-discipline and no strategy to deal with the Russian crisis that has been simmering for the best part of the past year.

“They also have no sense of irony or, apparently, reality. The press conference opened with Sean Spicer, the incoming press secretary, condemning the media coverage of Trump’s compromised relationship with Russia as ‘frankly outrageous and highly irresponsible’.

“It seems churlish to have to recall this tweet from Trump in the closing phase of the recent election: ‘Did Crooked Hillary help disgusting (check out sex tape and past) Alicia M become a US citizen so she could use her in the debate?’

“This kind of thing makes it hard for the new White House to pass the laugh test, never mind the smell test. It’s heartwarming to know that the president-elect is so concerned about how fake news can destroy real people. If only he had the self-awareness and self-discipline to live by his own words.

“In any crisis you generally try to deflect attention from your own misconduct. Instead, Team Trump seems happy to shine a bright light on its own monumental mistakes.

“That included the wonderful personal testimony from the incoming vice-president, Mike Pence, who introduced his boss by assuring us that he was full of what he called ‘energy.’ Perhaps Pence has been spending too much time with someone who liked to criticize his primary opponents for having low energy.

“Donald Trump is full of many things, but his energy levels are neither relevant nor particularly reassuring at this point.

“Besides, if you need your vice-president to attest to your character, you’re such damaged goods that your executive position is already in jeopardy.”

Richard Wolffe: Trump's Trainwreck Press Conference Ushers In A Shambolic Presidency

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Trump: I Could Run My Business Perfectly And Then Run The Country Perfectly

Donald Trump refuses to divest from his business and put it into a blind trust managed by an independent trustee in accordance with the guidelines of the Ethics in Government Act. Nevertheless, legally, as long as he receives no emolument from a foreign country, there is no reason for Trump to divest.

Trump says his children will take over management and operations. He said that it would be difficult to dissolve his business, but that his obligation to serve as President of the United States would not interfere with his duties or be a problem.

“In theory, I could run my business perfectly and then run the country perfectly,” Trump said.

But, the word “President” appears on “the Trump business enterprises all over the world, it's the case that domestic interests, foreign governments, companies, banks and individuals around the world will soon know that if they are dealing with a Trump enterprise, they are also dealing with President Trump.”

Fred Wertheimer’s opinion is “As long as Trump continues to own his business empire and his name continues to appear on his business ventures, we are facing an unprecedented misuse and abuse of the presidency for personal financial gain. The presidency has never been commercialized and privatized like this in the history of the country.

“This fundamental problem, furthermore, cannot be solved by transferring management to his children. As long as Trump continues to own the enterprises, he will be the ultimate beneficiary of the income, profits and benefits that his businesses receive.”

There is, regardless of Trump’s claim to the contrary, now and will continue to be, a clear conflict of interest, in that his obligations will be twofold:  representing the American people and serving his self-interest. When it involves making a decision that’s in the best interest of the country, but may not be in the interest of his businesses, which do you think he will choose.

Copyright © Horatio Green 2017

Monday, January 9, 2017

Meryl Streep’s Acceptance Speech at Golden Globes for a Lifetime of Notable Work

Meryl Streep is a beautiful woman, and made an outstanding, right-to-the-point speech in accepting a Golden Globe for a lifetime of notable work. Instead of using the time for herself, in 668 words, she expressed one of the most important reasons why I did not vote for Trump and why he will never receive my support. And, "it was effective," because it revealed the true character of the Americans who support and voted for this man; sadly many of them family and friends.

Central to her speech, she said, "There was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it. I still can't get it out of my head because it wasn't in a movie. It was real life."

“Thank you Meryl for not keeping quiet and using your star power and this global platform to make such a powerful and eloquent statement!”

Sunday, January 8, 2017

China Taking Climate Change Leadership, Trump Withdrawing From the Paris Agreement

Xie Zhenhua, China’s special representative
for climate change affairs delivers a speech.
 Photograph: Abdeljalil Bounhar/INBAR/AP
After years of environmental neglect, China is moving in the right direction: China’s National Energy Administration has announced it will spend more than $360 billion on renewable energy.

Unlike Trump and the Republican Party, China realizes that climate change is real and an existential threat. Trump is threatening to withdraw from the Paris agreement on climate change.

So, with the election of Donald Trump, the United States is moving in the wrong direction: Donald Trump and the Republican Party are committed to eliminating/reducing regulatory environmental protections. Trump and the Republicans claim climate change is a hoax, and are committed to fossil fuels to meet our energy needs.

Trump and the Republicans are destroying the place we call home. China is committing to an energy policy that will keep safe the place they call home, and at the same time contribute to making our world environmentally safe for all of us.

An uninhabitable earth at some point in our future is not unreasonable. Years of disregard for mother earth can cause components of the earth system to change. We should not shrug off warnings of cataclysmic environmental transformations.

And, for those who think that climate change warnings are a hoax, just a hullabaloo over nothing, scoffing at the idea of an impending environmental catastrophe, I have one question: what if you’re wrong? What harm can come from taking meaningful action now rather than wait until it’s too late.

Copyright © Horatio Green 2016

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Follow the Money

How could anyone believe the presidency of Donald Trump will not be a significant problem for the United States? The very fact that Trump refused to release his tax returns is a significant indication of an underlying problem. Robert Reich ends one of his recent posts with “Follow the money. Always follow the money.” Beyond the Russian problem, perhaps if we got a look at Trump’s tax returns we would have a greater understanding of what the problems are going to be.

Robert Reich points out the significance of the Russian problem:

This morning, Putin confidante Alexey Pushkov, a Russian senator and former chairman of the parliamentary foreign relations committee, tweeted that American democracy has been undermined “not by Russia, but by the Obama administration and the media that supported Clinton against Trump.”

Trump agreed by tweeting that the “only reason the hacking of the poorly defended DNC is discussed is that the loss by the Dems was so big that they are totally embarrassed!” and that “when I am President, Russia will respect us far more than they do now.”

Here’s the truth:

1. American intelligence agencies have confirmed that Vladimir Putin ordered Russia to intervene in the 2016 presidential election on the side of Donald Trump.

2. Trump refuses to acknowledge this.

3. Over the years, Russian oligarchs, friends of Putin, have financed Trump’s projects and lent billions of dollars to Trump’s enterprises. In 2008, Donald Trump Jr., told a real estate conference “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” and continued, “we see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

4. The financial ties don’t end there. Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, a longtime consultant to Viktor Yanukovich, the Russian-backed president of Ukraine who was overthrown in 2014, has done multi-million-dollar business deals with Russian oligarchs. Also: Trump’s pick for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, came up through the ranks at Exxon by managing the company’s Russia account. After becoming CEO, Exxon bet billions on Russia’s vast oil resources through a partnership with Russian oil giant Rosneft, owned partly by the Kremlin. Putin himself attended the 2011 signing ceremony for the deal. In 2013, Putin awarded Tillerson the Order of Friendship, one of the highest honors Russia gives to foreign citizens.

Follow the money. Always follow the money.