Wednesday, October 26, 2016

How Georgia Could Decide the Senate

I promised myself that I would not write about Donald Trump this week.  I’m sick of him, you’re sick of him, even my dogs are sick of him.  However, I was sucked in by the hype of Trump’s big announcement on Saturday of his 100-day plan and I thought we would find out his policies finally!  WRONG!  WRONG!

This speech was delivered in Gettysburg, PA, the site of Abraham Lincoln’s renowned Gettysburg Address.  Honest Abe is spinning in his grave now.  Trump stole many of his words, but it sounded much better and believable when Abe spoke them. 

For the first twenty minutes of his big policy speech, he told us what he really wanted us to know.  His policies took a back seat to his continued insistence that the election is “rigged” and how mean, nasty, and ugly the Media, Hillary’s campaign and his fellow Republicans have been to him.  He topped it off by saying all the women are liars who made allegations against him and he will sue every one of them (all eleven of them) as soon as the election is over.  I have lost track of how many people and entities he has said he would sue.  I like what the New York Times said, “We look forward to it.” 

We all know by now that Trump’s method of operation is to threaten or bring lawsuits.  In his three speeches Saturday, he stood strong and proud and threatened these women who had the courage to speak out against the suing machine.  Trump brags about his many, good lawyers.  He should talk to them.  First, when you make yourself a candidate for public office, your character as it relates to fitness and qualifications for office is on the table.  Your prior actions and conduct is fair game.  Trump knows this!  In a 1999 interview with Chris Matthews, he told him that he could never run for President because of his history with women.  He said, “People want me to [run for president] all the time … I don’t like it. Can you imagine how controversial I’d be? You think about [Bill Clinton] and the women. How about me with the women? Can you imagine?”

Second, Trump is threatening to sue the ladies for defamation of his character.  A defamation case is balanced between a person’s First Amendment protections of free speech.  Trump will have to prove that his reputation has been hurt.  He is a man, who has spent his lifetime building his reputation as a rich cad, bragging about his sexual escapades and ripping off his contractors.  He is on a video describing his sexual assault.  If anything, the ladies solidified the reputation Trump has sought throughout the years.

Third, in political campaign defamation cases, the candidate must show that the campaign is his “profession” or “business”.  Trump has repeatedly told us that he is not a politician; that he is a businessman. 

Trump promised when the ladies started coming out of the woodwork that he had “proof” they were lying and “I will release it soon.”   We’re still waiting.  If he had one iota of proof, he would still be waving it in our face.  Good luck with your lawsuits, Donald!

In my Unfair and Unbalanced column last week, I wrote of the threat of a Cyber-War and how Russia’s threat 55 years ago “We will bury you without firing a shot,” was coming to fruition.  I assure you, I am not a prophet. However, last Friday, the largest cyber attack we’ve ever had, took down large segments of the Internet and millions lost service.  On-line commerce was severely affected by millions of lost revenue.  This hacking was only a test. 

We may have a surprise in Georgia on election night.  No, not that Hillary will win Georgia, although that could happen.  Johnny Isakson and Jim Barksdale may be in a run-off for the Senate race.  The current polling shows Isakson ahead with 47% of the vote and Barksdale 32%.  Before you laugh, consider the Libertarian candidate, Allen Buckley has 11%.  Then consider, Isakson has to have 50% + 1 to win without a run-off.  Katie bar the door if that happens!  Control of the Senate could come down to a run-off election right here in Georgia.  All eyes in the nation will be upon us and there won’t be an available hotel room in the state.  That would be good for our economy, so vote for Barksdale! 

It’s Halloween time!  Got your candy yet?  We had a trick-or-treater one time about five years ago.  I was so excited.  After ten years of living here, we finally had a trick-or-treater.  Actually it was three in a group, pitch dark, during a torrential downpour.  Don’t know where they came from.  All I had to give them were two-week old apples.  That reminded me of when I was young and we’d surprise elderly people while trick-or-treating.  All they ever had were apples.  I don’t like apples.  I like candy. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Who Will Bury Us First--Putin or Trump?

Those of us born into the earlier years of the “baby boomer” era remember vividly the fear we felt during the years leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.  We knew we had two enemies who were unstable madmen—Fidel Castro of Cuba and Nikita Khrushchev of Russia.   Cuba, located only 90 miles off the coast of Florida, joined forces with Russia and Russia moved ballistic missiles onto their island, pointed at America. This is the closest our country has ever come to nuclear war. Thanks to the leadership skills of President John F. Kennedy, an agreement was negotiated to dismantle those warheads.  This was a tense and stressful time for our country.

As a child of this era, I remember schools issuing every student military style “dog tags” for identification in case of war.  We were taught the “duck and cover” technique during school drills.  Bomb shelters and fallout shelters were promoted.  “Preparedness” was the subject of many public service announcements. I recall joining my parents every night to watch NBC’s Chet Huntley and David Brinkley.  As a child, I was scared then, and as an older adult, I’m scared now!

During this time, I remember Nikita Khrushchev, Premiere of the Soviet Union, threatening America with the words, “We will bury you without firing a shot!”  These words weren’t taken very serious at the time because we Americans could not fathom that happening.

Now 55 years later, I see the possibility it could happen.  We now live in a different age--An age when a cyber attack of our power grids, communications systems and transportation systems could bring us to our knees and destroy our way of life.

It has been confirmed that Vladimir Putin, President (and ruthless leader) of Russia, directed the hacking of various email accounts to influence the outcome of our Presidential election.  National Security officials have stated Putin wanted us to know he was responsible, evidenced by leaving an easy trail to identify the hackers.

Our security officials and F.B.I. are gravely concerned that Russia will hack into our voter files and delete voters.  This would cause chaos at our polls and hinder our right to vote, thereby seriously undermining our democratic process.  Just the thought that a foreign government has that much power over us is down right frightening!

We ask the question, “Why would Putin risk a cyber-war with our country?”  I think it’s because Russia feels this election is worth taking the chance against any retaliation we may use.  Putin recognizes in Trump for the first time in their history, they have the chance to manipulate and control a U. S. President.

Trump’s own words and actions give us no reason to doubt this assumption.  Trump has made no secret of his admiration for Putin.  For the first time, we have a Presidential nominee whose closest advisors and staffers have close ties to the Kremlin.  Trump’s top advisor on national security is General Michael Flynn, a paid analyst on the Russian television network, Russia Today (RT).  He advocates closer relations to Russia and supports policies not in the best interest of our country.  Further, Trump was briefed by intelligence officials and furnished proof of Russia’s hacking of emails.  He refuses to admit their involvement.  If that doesn’t give you pause, nothing will.

In his bombastic speeches, Trump has warned for many months that if he loses it’s because the election is rigged.  Using these KGB mind control tactics, he is setting the stage for serious unrest among his supporters after the election.  Reasonable Americans know that our election process is sound where little to no fraud exists.  The only way our election could be rigged, would be by a cyber attack. Right now, Putin is our prime suspect.

We need to be fearful of the aftermath of the election. We need to expect great unrest with Trump’s supporters that he has whipped into hysteria. Cooler minds must prevail. Or else, we will be buried without a shot being fired.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Trump's Bus Pre-empts Storm Coverage

Were you a big fan of the television series 24?  I was!  It starred Keifer Sutherland as Jack Bauer, the only one in the counter-terrorism unit that could save this country.   Each one-hour episode depicted one hour’s worth of events over a period of 24 hours in the life of Jack Bauer.  It was a suspenseful, action thriller that kept you on the edge of your seat during the entire show. 

This past weekend, I felt I was watching a non-stop series of the show, 24.  I was glued to the television as a monster storm of historic proportions, was headed to the eastern coast.  This was especially distressing because all my siblings, many close family members, and good friends reside along the coast of Florida and Georgia.  The path of the storm was depicted every few moments on television by a big red menacing arrow.  Add to that, the Governor of Florida was shown every five minutes saying, “This storm will kill you!” 

I spent all day Thursday checking on evacuation plans of family while keeping my eye on the red arrow.  This killer storm kept getting closer and closer and my family was being indecisive.  We’re leaving.  We’re staying.  Leaving.  Staying.  I kept checking to see how long they had to live and my stress was building.  One of my sisters and her family live on an island in Glynn County and wanted to ride it out.  After being deluged with requests for them to leave, they finally headed inland.  Seriously, that was a relief.

I was particularly concerned about my brother who lives on the coast at the Georgia-Florida line.  He was too sick to travel.  In hindsight, I probably should have made a list of all the preparations I wanted him to make, instead of calling every five minutes.  He sure knows how to push my buttons.  He said, “If I don’t make it, I guess someone will let you know.” 

On Friday, my vacationing brother and his wife arrived from Florida.  They weren’t real refugees fleeing the storm but we pretended they were, since my real ones cancelled. All that was left to do was watch the pounding of Jacksonville by the killer storm, and wonder if my brother would be blown away.  At that moment, just like on 24, something happened!   Something that has never happened in the history of the world!  Something so horrendous, the television networks pre-empted coverage of the projected killer storm.  Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for President, bragged about his method of sexual assault! 

For the next two hours, I was mesmerized by the video that was shown over and over again.  Pundits were speculating what this revelation would do to Trump.  Facebook was blowing up.  I suddenly realized I had lost track of the storm!  The only storm coverage I could find was on Fox News because obviously they weren’t interested in showing their golden boy blowing himself up.  Next came the hostage apology video from Trump while being held at gunpoint by his staff and the RNC.  Then Speaker Paul Ryan refuses to campaign with him.  Trump’s own Vice Presidential pick finally refuses to defend him and disappears.  Fellow GOP’ers began un-endorsing him and calling for Trump to leave the race.  The RNC is considering cutting all financial ties to Trump.  Meanwhile Trump is taking his campaign further into the gutter and with it, the American people.  This stuff was incredible to witness.

That brings us to Sunday night—The Big Debate.  All America watched to see if Trump’s head would blow up like a volcano, spewing Tic Tacs all over the stage.  That didn’t happen but there were some close moments.  He was visibly angry and desperate.   Just like last debate, I found his continuous snorting very distracting, like a mad bull. 

Trump repeatedly called Hillary a devil, and that she had hate in her heart. Trump threatened, if elected, to have Hillary investigated by his Justice Department and if he were President, she would be in jail.”  That’s what Putin does, not this country.  For those words alone, it shows he is unfit to be President.  He’s hateful, nasty, and knows no bounds. 

Our country is in crisis and Trump is about to go nuclear.  The suspense is building.  And, just like on 24, we’ll have to stay tuned to find out if our country will stand.

About the storm...all my family were safe and very fortunate.  Others were not.  There seems to be a disconnect between the pre-storm hype and coverage of the aftermath.  Many are suffering all along the coast. I wish the media would give this dire situation more coverage than Donald Trump.

Please note: The editor of this paper and I don’t agree on anything and butt heads often.  However, in the case of Trump, he chose not to endorse him.  Kudos to Will Davis!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Something You Don't Know About Trump--His Policies!

I will be so happy when I can get back to writing mostly humorous columns that make you smile.  To me, the threat of Donald Trump being Commander-in-Chief of our military and President of our great country terrifies me.  I find little humor in anything having to do with him.  Yes, he says a lot of crazy things that ordinarily would make me laugh.  However, I am reminded of his unfitness to be President and that sucks all the joy right out of me.

We’ve heard everything else but we have heard very little about his policies. We can all recite Trump’s big lies, his bigoted remarks, his misogynistic attitudes, the details of the Trump University fraud, his remarks about John McCain, the Khan family, and now Alicia Machodo.  Other than building the wall and rounding up Mexicans, what do we really know about his policies? 

I decided I would hold my nose and go to his website and check.  All the issues are lacking one thing.  Details.  And what I like to call do-ability.  The issue with the most detail is CHILD CARE.  This one was the brainchild of Ivanka Trump.  I might add, a woman who has 24-hour nannies and never worried about maternity leave.  First of all, the plan is to change the current “tax credit” to “tax deduction.”  There’s a big difference for people trying to make ends meet. Tax credits go directly in your pocket if you’re lucky enough to get a refund.  I recall many years when my children were in Day Care, our childcare tax credit made the difference in whether we could buy that new refrigerator or get new tires for our car when our refund arrived.  A raise in the tax credit would be more helpful to those struggling and need it the most.

The other detail in Trump’s Child Care policy has to do with six weeks of maternity leave.  He proposes that this maternity leave will be paid for by Unemployment insurance that is carried by the employer.  That was qualified by, “Employers shouldn’t eliminate company paid maternity care in a competitive job market.”  (Notice it didn’t say they could not). The plan also states that it should not harm employers’ taxes because it would be paid for by cutting out unemployment fraud to the tune of $5.6 billion dollars annually. Wealthy people always think there is fraud in unemployment usage. Folks, you need to call Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler and ask him how much fraud in unemployment payments is going on here in Georgia. 

Have you heard anything about Trump’s EDUCATION PLAN?  It’s a doozy!  School Choice for every student K-12.  The plan states that $20 billion would be an additional investment by Federal government and $110 billion from the states.  This is on top of the $620 billion we already spend.  Since most states are already stretched thin, it wasn’t explained where the states would come up with this money, or what services would be cut in Federal Government to supply the $20 billion. Trump will allocate $12,000 per student and the money goes with the student to any school of their choice.   The current spending per student is $12,239. That is a shaky plan for such high stakes.

Trump’s education plan is a total destruction of public education, as we know it, except that we will pay for it.  This is what wealthy Republicans have always dreamed about.  They can send their children to elite private schools and not have to pay for it.  People who live in poverty and in rural areas will still be in the same boat they are in now, unless a massive bus system is created.  And who decides the selection process for the new privatized charter schools that will be built?  Will the students relegated to the schools in the take-over by Governor Deal have a choice if Amendment 1 passes and Trump is elected?  

VETERANS HEALTHCARE.  Trump has a 10-point plan for reforming VA Healthcare.  I was struck that 5 out of the 10 points are punitive in nature.  Points 2 thru 6 are all about disciplining VA employees, terminating VA employees, investigating fraud, cover-ups and wrong doings, rewarding employees who report other employees and taking away bonuses.  Number 10 is choice between VA or a provider of their choice.  This one comes under the heading of “undoable.”  Unless he is going to socialize medicine so he can control doctors, neither the President nor the VA have the power to tell doctors and hospitals they have to take patients at a reduced cost.  Currently, the VA has a Choice Program but doctors are largely deciding not to participate. 

Trump has stated that he plans to privatize the VA Healthcare.  Clearly, a vote for Trump is a vote against veterans’ healthcare.  There is not a single congressionally approved Veterans Service Organization that has endorsed Trump’s plan on privatization.

I hope you’re not voting for Trump based solely on the emotion he evokes in you.  I ask you to examine his policies and Hillary’s and factor in what you learn into your decision-making process.