Who’s REALLY in charge here?

I have grown quite weary of playing whack-a-mole with Donald Trump’s game of “Controversy of the Day”, haven’t you?  In an effort to understand just what the h*ll is going on from day to day, I realized that what I need to do is to look beyond the information we receive from Trump’s tweets, his lackey crew, or the timid television news media and try to figure out the “why’s” for some of-or all of-the bizarre actions & appointments of this administration so early in the term.  After weeks of trying to avoid the headline of the day and look for the “big picture” of what these folks are up to, I figured I’d start by taking a look at the inner circle filling and surrounding the Oval Office and why they’ve been appointed to their positions.

First, of course, the nepotism in the Trump cabinet is very clearly on display. Somehow they have managed to circumvent the law that says government officials may not hire family members to work in the same place by claiming that at least one of those family members, Trump’s daughter Ivanka, will forgo receiving a salary in order to occupy the office next to the Oval one. Even though she is, then, not an official member of the President’s cabinet, she has been called upon to receive and interpret sensitive, classified information, act as an official host to dignitaries of other countries, and develop policy regarding women and the issues we face in 2017.    Then, of course,  the “Russian Connection” is quite curious; the players in both  countries are caricatures of characters from every James Bond or Tom Cruise/Matt Damon movie ever made.   I get a massive headache trying to follow media coverage of  all those individuals and then attempting to connect the dots. It’s obviously suspicious that there is such a shady connection between our president’s cabinet appointees and the “unofficial officials” in the Russian government they are said to have been talking to. Isn’t this is the same party that anointed Saint Ronald Reagan for his perfect example of “conservative Republican” politics, and who, as President, deemed the Soviet Union “The Evil Empire” and the enemy of Democracy? Yes, this is presumably the “party of Reagan”. So what happened to change the US-Soviet relationship from “enemies” into a “bromance”? Something about it stinks. So what do we have to do in order to open the curtain on the multiple layers of dark money and secret meetings and the reasons for them? We ask questions, and we keep asking until we get the real answers.

Of course, the first clue the hero acts on in any sort of Hollywood blockbuster is to “follow the money”, right? Never has the axiom “Money is the root of all evil” been so perfectly revealed! Given Trump’s obvious lust for money and power, and his grandiose displays of both, it seems only logical to start there.

What we think we know about Donald Trump is only the information he has spoon fed us.  He says he’s worth billions, but that is not a provable statement in the absence of his filed tax returns.  And if he is worth billions of dollars, how is it that he has acquired so much wealth? He is said to have real estate holdings in countries around the world, but even a cursory examination of the real estate transactions we know about don’t add up to such a hefty payout.  Again, no independent acknowledgement of those transactions, who he dealt with, or what kind of financial resources are provided.

Let’s face it, the first 100 days of this Trump presidency have been an embarrassing disaster for the citizens of the US.  And most of it, probably, has to do with the hubris that Trump himself causes. But he does not operate in a vacuum, and his favorability rating is lower than any president in our history. The citizens of our country are disgusted, but that does not seem to have any meaning for Donald Trump. But what does seem to be important to him is that powerful people see him as powerful. His reputation is one he has created in other countries; here in the US, that reputation is a bit more tarnished. Simply by virtue of his flamboyant presence in the headlines or in the entertainment industry, we have some inkling that maybe this man isn’t quite as brilliant as he claims; and he has enemies. Even among the members of his own Party, there are opposing forces operating to try to manipulate him for his ignorance of the law, protocol, and statesmanship.  But what force in this country has enough presence to think that they could sway his actions or speech? His allegiance, despite his many promises to the contrary, is to his fellow millionaires and billionaires; but many of them are not convinced that he is capable of leading the most powerful nation on earth, and are making his presidency into the exact opposite of the presidency he thought he would have. But what could create such frustration for him in such a short time? Is there someone or something in this country that could make him bow or relinquish some of the power he thought he would be entitled to? Who could dare to go toe-to-toe with his supportive Russian billionaire oligarchs? Who would have the money, the stamina, the influence to be able to take on wealthy Russians who are not satisfied by the felonious fortunes they have acquired or the lucrative but hidden roles they play in their own governments? The answer was simple, really.  All I had to do was go back to the largest source of  Republican money, influence, and policy in the US: the Koch brothers. 

Who are the Koch Brothers?  Charles and David Koch are prolific conservative donors who helm the nation’s second-largest privately held corporation, Koch Industries. It is an energy and industrial conglomerate with $115 billion in annual revenues that has “fingers” in many aspects of our country’s foundational operations, including lobbying legislators on political issues and donating large sums of money into the campaigns of politicians willing to sell their votes (and souls) to further the brothers’ goals.

For citizens who may not know much about the Koch brothers, or those who want to deny the Koch influence, their presence is as influential as any of the Russian oligarchs that seem to have aligned themselves with Donald Trump.  That alliance with the Russians, however legal or illegal, is fairly obviously a real one, and has contributed to a real rift between the Russian-backed Trump group in the White House and the Koch-backed Mike Pence and Congress.  While there are some Republicans who have allied themselves with Trump, more of them recognized where the real money is and voted the way the Kochs “suggested”, most recently and most obviously on the “repeal and replace Obamacare” bill.

As Theodore Schleifer of CNN reported on Thursday, March 23, 2017:

“A powerful network of conservative donors said Wednesday it would create a new fund for Republican 2018 reelection races — but they’ll only open it up to  GOPers who vote against the bill. The advocacy groups helmed by Charles and David Koch have unveiled a new pool of money for advertisements, field programs and mailings that would exclude those who vote for the health care bill they oppose on Thursday. The effort, which they described as worth millions of dollars, is an explicit warning to on-the-fence Republicans from one of the most influential players in electoral politics not to cross them.
The Koch-aligned networks oppose the bill because they think it does not do enough to scale back former President Barack Obama’s health care policies….The Kochs typically support Republican congressional candidates in competitive races, though they have withheld their volunteers and advertising in the past when they felt snubbed by a particular candidate, such as Kelly Ayotte, the New Hampshire senator who lost her reelection battle in 2016 and did not receive Koch funding for much of the race.”   (Emphasis mine)

Striking how obvious the passive aggressive maneuver to control our legislators is! If we want to know about the relationship between the Koch brothers and the latest appointment trying to pass in the House, Schleifer adds:

[The Koch Brothers] have spent some of their sums to boost Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and have applauded his attempts to scale back federal regulations.
The group of high-powered donors plans to spend between $300 million and $400 million on political projects over the 2018 cycle. (Emphasis added)

So how does that work?  In years before the Citizen United ruling in 2010, large donations to political candidates running for office was illegal.  Of course, wealthy (men) have always provided funds backing political candidates in exchange for favorable rulings that would influence the providers and further line their pockets.  But then, the repercussions for trying to buy that kind of influence was usually a jail sentence or ruined career.  There was, (officially anyway,) no tolerance for graft and bribery in our political processes. Then came the Citizens United ruling that granted “personhood” to corporations, and then decreed that corporate contributions were, in fact, a form of “free speech”

My very strong belief that the repeal of the Citizens United ruling is the first and IMO, the most important action that must be taken to prevent the “Wall Street” politicians and other power/money hungry characters from destroying no less than our very Democracy.  And as wealthy as Donald Trump claims to be, he is no match for the influence the Koch money can buy.  When Trump gets mad at someone, his childish response has been to reprimand the offender with at least one nasty “tweet” containing foolish threats of non-support from the administration. The consequences for any politician who goes against the Koch brothers or any of their numerous PACs, such as Americans for Prosperity (AFP) can be harsh and swift.  The current strong arm of the US Congress, The Freedom Partners, is a committee of all Koch-backed politicians.

In the March 21 edition of USA Today, the AFP spokesperson is quoted as saying:

“We have spent tens and tens of millions to fully repeal Obamacare, and we’ll commit whatever resources” are needed, said Levi Russell, a spokesman for Americans for Prosperity. “We plan on seeing it through.”
“This is nothing new for Americans for Prosperity,” the group’s policy director, Akash Chougule, told NPR’s Audie Cornish on Thursday. “[T]his is what Americans for Prosperity exists to do.”

So what is it that they do, and who are the beneficiaries? The scope of their influence is hard to gauge, because the Citizens United allows for large donors to give anonymously. But there are a few known undertakings:

  • David H. Koch was the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential candidate in 1980. He advocated for the abolition of Social Security, the FBI, the CIA, and public schools.
  • In 2010 they supported California Proposition 23, which would have suspended the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. The Kochs have also funded efforts to stop the growth of solar power.
  • In 2011, Koch Industries’ political action committee had donated more than $2.6 million to primarily Republican candidates.
  • In the 2012 election season, the Kochs  pledged to defeat President Barack Obama. (According to the Center for Responsive Politics, of $274 million in anonymous contributions, at least $86 million is “attributed to donor groups in the Koch network”.)
  • Support and financial assistance has gone to:
    • Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas;
    • Governors Bobby Jindal and Haley Barbour;
    • commentators John Stossel, Charles Krauthammer, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh;
    • Senators Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn; and
    • Representatives Paul Ryan, Mike Pence, and Tom Price.
    • Through Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers influenced more than 400 members of Congress to sign a pledge to vote against climate change legislation that does not include equivalent tax cuts.
    • In 2010, Koch Industries supported efforts to roll back emission regulations in California.

And just in case you missed it, the failure to pass the Trumpcare health care policy was NOT the devastating victory for the Left that you might have thought. Actually, it was a significant victory for the Koch brothers, who felt that the new plan DID NOT GO FAR ENOUGH IN GUTTING THE ACA/OBAMACARE.  The fight to control health care access  is not over–they will be back.

As we are entertained by Trump’s ridiculous tweets, his oversized ego, thin skin, governmental ignorance, we have to remember that Donald Trump is not the one actually running things.  He is merely the public face of Vladimir Putin’s goal to embarrass the US, and the representation of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan’s smug connivances to get the rulings and personnel they want in the White House without having to get their own hands dirty.  That Donald Trump is so caught up in his own narcissism he cannot–or will not–see that while he feels like he is “the best/most/greatest” savior of US pride and glory, the strings that pull him so easily from one thing to another are being manipulated by forces better/more/greater than even Donald Trump.

Resist

 

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The fight for Bernie Sanders–a year out. 

Facebook just posted one of those “Anniversary” posts of mine from a year ago today, and WOW! What a difference a year makes! I’m sharing that 20/20 hindsight look here:: 

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DID YOU GET INVITED TO THE PARTY? 

Not exactly an “argument” (yet), butHere’s a little discussion I’m having over The Donald:

SOME TRUMPSTER: It’s so unfair that america found out that Hillary and the Democrats had been selling ambassadorships and political appointments and government contracts for their own wealth. If those internal emails hadn’t been leaked then Hillary could have had the presidency she stole from Bernie Sanders. It’s so unfair, we need a Do over!!!!!!!!!!
ME:Yep, I agree we Dems are a slow-moving, confused bunch and it infuriates me more than I can say. The DNC was complicit in this too, because of their own unethical behavior. The problem now, as I see it, is the millions of uncounted or disposed of ballots that gave millions of citizens no voice and no vote. 
But honestly, the whole thing comes down to the billions of dollars that flood the parties and candidates. And The Donald, while pretending to be a real populist who will “make America great” again by appointing fellow millionaires and billionaires so blatantly to positions of power depending on how much money they can make him or have donated. Linda McMann alone donated $7 million and was promptly offered a cabinet position…that he appointed Vladimir Putin’s best friend as our Secretary of State is just appalling–and potentially treasonous. The Citizens United Decision has unleashed a torrent of greed in nearly every politician’s brain, and makes our government open to the same kinds of things that so dismay us about other countries. THAT is why this election has been so important–it keeps the big money rolling in for big pharma, big oil, big chemical companies….who then turn around and buy themselves some politicians who will “see things their way.” The scariest part of this past election is that all this shit WAS known, Matt Simmons, and because both parties benefit, everyone just played along. And some invited their friends in Russia to join in the fun!

MATT SIMMONS: It was them or the Saudis, but one way or the other a foreign frenemy was going to get its wish, yep. Citizens United has GTG. But only way that will ever happen is an amendment. Hopefully Bernie keeps running with that torch.

MARK HARDY; Unethical behavior? That’s putting it mildly to say the least. Tillerson has been in the same room as Putin about 6 times since 1999….. The idea that makes them BFFs is, there’s no other way to put it, but bat shit crazy.
Honestly, not all that many people (who weren’t voting trump anyway) paid much attention to the wikileaks that is the outrage de jour. What sank hillary was her BFF’s husband sexting a 15 year old girl. That’s when HRC lost any chance of buying the presidency with her reccord $1.3B campaign.

MICHAEL KATICH: This is just B.S.! NO ONE HACKED THE ELECTION! People voted and the votes were counted…. no one hacked THAT! IF anything was hacked, it was informatioon PRIOR to the election to the supposed benefit of Trump. IT IS UP TO THE AMERICAN CITIZENS TO DECIDE WHAT TO DO WITH THAT INFORMATION. Don’t you all see how this narrative is being played by the media?!?! People are just being led about by a freakin’ nose ring that is the Democratic National Party and the media. So let’s just rip up the constitution while you’re at it.
ME: I’m not going to get involved in an argument about who “outhuskered”(?) who—there’s been plenty of that since this nation was founded, and one group gets to hang on for a little while, then the other…ad nauseam. But what it comes down to, and always has, is MONEY. Who has it, who wants it, and who is going to do more than the other guy to get it. And it’s been like that since the beginning…the difference now is that instead of calling it “political graft” to slip some politician wads of money under the table in an assumption that it will buy you influence, or an ambassadorship, or a cabinet seat, it’s called “Citizens United”, parts 1 & 2, and its right there on the front page. Michael Katich, I don’t know who or what your source is that you can say with such certainty that no one hacked the election, and all the votes have been counted when the people who are supposed to figure all that out, and who have the tools to do that don’t know themselves what happened to the 10+ million ballots missing from Michigan, California, & possibly Ohio. But maybe you have better sources than I do. 

It is funny, though that “people are just being led about by a freakin’ nose ring that is the DNC and the media” when we know that a) there are five major news organizations in this country that decide up& down what information we get, and that, by & large, those corporate news controllers are wealthy Republican billionaires who would very much like to stay billionaires, and that b) the US citizens have just been led around the ring by one of the biggest con artists to ever participate in this circus. Donald Trump may not be a dangerous man all by himself–he’s had the benefit of surrounding himself with a very closed circle–his children, for example–who may be nice looking, and well mannered, but who are as politically savvy as a box of rocks. And in today’s world, you have to not just know how to win the game, you’ve got to keep playing it for the next four years without stepping on the wrong toes or pushing over the wrong stack of blocks and causing WWIII. Are these spoiled, wealthy children or his other “people” capable enough or smart enough to do that? We willl see, I suppose, if we survive long enough to have another election in 4 years–but it isn’t them damned Dems who are “ripping up the constitution”, sir. That’s the guy chomping at the bit to take the reins and make sure that all of his million -and billionaire- pals get to stay that way, all while failing to disclose his taxes paid (0), or reading a book (0) or putting his company into a blind trust (0) or paying attention to the nepotism laws about family members being given seats at a great big table posing for selfies and “tweeting” them as they unravel 50 years of intricately negotiated treaties, chumming around with guys whose mission in life 30 years ago was to “take down America without firing a single shot”. 
Come on, now, you can’t possibly believe that he’s going to invite people like you or me or even the esteemed Matthew Simmons (esq?) to his next party? I don’t think so–he won’t want to shake his manicured little hands with the people covered in coal dust or might be flammable from the fracking-infested water they showered in this morning, or the seriously disabled people who drool when they attempt to speak to him about the social security or Medicaid checks that get smaller and smaller if they get to those folks at all. No sir, from the penthouses at the quiet, golden rooftops of any Trump Tower, what they see from those gilded windows are simply bugs that need to be squashed or at least “managed” enough to do what he wants them to do. And he will squash us and manage us and threaten us and put our money into his very full pockets, all while telling us how “great” he is, and how much better off we are now that we can’t drink or even swim in non-flammable, non-cancerous water or how proud we should all be that those “unsightly” wind turbines are replaced with deep-rock drills and oil extractors and backhoes rumbling through your backyard and mine in order to build yet another pipeline of some sort to send filth from Canada into Mexico and beyond in order to have it route through Texas and his pal Harold Simmons’ Waste Control Specialists LLC, wherein he would take in all the toxic, poisonous gunk in the US and dump it into a 20 square MILE dump in (west?) Texas that his pal, then-Texas governor Rick Perry bent over forwards and backwards to get the permits for….even though—and this is amazing–the Texas panel invited to make that piece of stinking hell discovered–according to their own findings!–was waaay to close to-wait for it–the Oglala aquifer, a clean water resource forEIGHT STATES! Hahaha! Success in the Dakotas doesn’t mean shit in Texas! (On second thought, maybe that’s exactly what it means!)
And soon after that, Perry & his minions gave him not only the right to take in NUCLEAR waste as well, but were also busy passing legislation making it nearly impossible for people who might get sick or die from a leak anywhere on Simmons’ super pipeline! They call that “Tort reform” and if you get sick from some toxic sludge leaking into your backyard or your drinking well….well, it sucks to be you. 
Remember Julia Roberts in “Erin Brockovich”? Watch it again. Because even though she was brave and successful in the cases she worked on, NOTHING HAS CHANGED. 
If you think HRC is the devil incarnate, I suggest you widen your scope—including the view of those drinking champagne and toasting their billion-dollar schemes in the penthouses of the (how many?) Trump Towers. You’ll find a few devils in that crowd , for sure!

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Colin Kaepernick? Wait…who? 

Yes! Yes! Yes! I love it when that lone voice crying in the wilderness finally gets heard! This young man (Colin Kaepernick) is smart, thoughtful, and, judging by many of the ugly replies given here and in the press, obviously he’s brave, too. I’m not usually impressed with most football players’ knowledge of history, or even current events for that matter, but it’s obvious that this is something that he has thought about, and that affects him deeply; and I believe he understands that by using his public status to call attention to this issue especially, he needs to risk a very public action. To those of you who slam him for being “rich”, and therefore ineligible to speak about oppression or any other social issue, bulls#+t. This isn’t about HIM. It’s about the racist bile that passes for political dialogue these days; it’s about the sustained fear white people have for black men and their corresponding response to them; it’s about being able to see injustice and want to correct it. For those of you who doubt that he has ever faced oppression or prejudice, I wish you could all be riding in a nice car in a lily-white suburb at, say, 2 or 3 in the morning. If he’s not stopped for simply Driving While Black, god help him if he gets a flat tire or has an accident. But that really isn’t the issue, is it? Because, again, ITS NOT ABOUT HIM. Do you really not believe that someone can give a shit about stopping an injustice even if they are not a victim of it? Do YOU not see or care or do anything beyond your own little pink noses? Sad for this old, white, lady activist to think that the work we’ve done in this country for the last 40 years to try to create a better America boils down, now, to creating a better America “for only me.” 

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Check out this article! Leaked Emails Suggest DNC Was Conspiring Against Bernie Sanders

I found it using the Dems Daily App at http://www.DemsDaily.com

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2016/07/23/wikileaks-dnc-bernie-sanders_n_11154032.html?utm_hp_ref=politics&ir=Politics

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The DNC really did conspire against Bernie Sanders…revisiting Watergate via Wikileaks. 

This breaks my heart and my spirit. Recently, I reluctantly acquiesced to the DNC’s candidate of choice after working for Senator Sanders for several months and supporting him for years, believing that at her worst, Hillary was an overwhelmingly better choice than ANY Republican, but especially Donald Trump. I was also beginning to worry about myself a little bit, having vowed to never be swallowed up by unsubstantiated conspiracy theories, and I’d been preaching the “gospel” of the DNC’s deal to coronate Hillary since the 2008 elections. Recently and reluctantly I’d begun trying to persuade my fellow Bernie supporters that it was important to keep the White House out of Republican hands at any cost, and a switch to Hillary was our only option. 

Mea Culpa. 

This revelation has me seething—with rage, betrayal, sadness, and disbelief. The Democrats really have stepped way over into Karl Rove/RNC territory, opting for Watergate-era tactics and outright dishonesty over supposedly established Democratic values and “the higher road”. The DNC has proven that they have given up fighting for the principles held so strongly by Progressives (formerly the Democrats!) for generations. 

This is a frightening revelation, as this old, feisty, rabble-rousing troublemaker has had enough. It’s a terribly risky, ill-timed, and potentially devastating time for the US, and maybe the world, to have the DNC betray their “believers” in such a crass and devious manner. But as fearful as I am of a Trump presidency, I cannot, and will not, be responsible for enabling the corrupt actions of a political party to which had pledged loyalty for decades. I WILL NOT be voting for Hillary Clinton in this election cycle, and will change my party affiliation from Dem to Independent officially by next week. This is the sh*t that pissed us off about politics & politicians in the 60s, 70s, and 80s…only, it was the Republicans then. (Don’t get me wrong, I still believe that Republican policies and tactics are still the devil’s handiwork, and I won’t be voting that way—probably ever!) Nice work, DW-S and DNC. I know I won’t be the only one leaving the ranks. 

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Nobody pees next to me without permission! 

This is such a sad state of the country that there are still people who are so hung up on who is going to pee next to you…. Get over it, folks. The operative words in this discussion are the usual ones– “WANTS to be [opposite gender]; CHOOSES a gay/lesbian/trans/bisexual LIFESTYLE, etc. I’m getting more convinced every day as I grow into an old woman that those who believe that anyone would CHOOSE to be bullied, discriminated against, humiliated, abused, rejected, and/or assaulted because it’s a much more fun way to live, are first, not very smart, and second, perhaps deeply closeted themselves. If you can look at a person just coming to terms with such a realization, or having to face the rejection of family and friends in coming out and you can honestly think that seems like a fun, carefree, irresponsible lifestyle CHOICE, I’m pretty sure it’s your own longing for the freedom to be a part of that community that informs you, not anything based on logic. And if you subscribe to the ludicrous notion that a) someone is going to be charged with monitoring every ladies room on the planet to make sure (how, exactly?) that no one with a little extra packaging underneath doesn’t get in, or b) that any sick bastard who wants to gain access to you or your children is going to dress up & pretend to be a woman, in order to kidnap & tape you, there isn’t much worth talking about until you educate yourselves about the reality of such circumstances. Do that, and if you are still convinced that any of this has to do with lifestyle or choice, come back here, and those of us who know the truth can guide you further. Until then, keep your damaging rhetoric (and legislation) to yourself, please. 

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