This Planet Earth

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Watching the solar #eclipse today made me think about this planet Earth, our place in the universe, and how we, as some of the inhabitants of this planet, have affected it.

#Earth is but a tiny dot in a vast universe. Imagine how everything came together here to give us all the ingredients necessary for life. The right atmosphere to breathe, the water to drink, the soil in which to grow our food. Imagine how it is so unlikely that this could have happened. It makes me think that we cannot possibly be alone. Somewhere out there, there must be other life, although maybe not life like us.

What have we, as intelligent human beings, done to our precious atmosphere, water, and soil? We have polluted it beyond measure, almost to the point where it is not useful to us anymore. The Environmental Protection Agency was established in 1970. If not for the EPA, I’m not quite sure where planet Earth would be at this point in time. Would it be able to sustain our life? I think it’s doubtful. But it was created and it began to study the concept of pollution.

The EPA determined that the smoke pouring from steel mills and other manufacturing companies was polluting the air. They had to install scrubbers. Sure, it cut into their profits in the short-term. In the long run, it helped save our atmosphere, keep us healthy, and the share price of these corporations did not suffer in the long run. The same is true of the water in which manufacturers and coal companies poured sludge. This is only one of hundreds of examples of how the EPA has protected our environment since 1970. Protecting our environment is protecting us, our health, and our long-term survival on this planet.

There is one irrefutable truth. The EPA doesn’t know what to protect us from without scientific research. That is the backbone of the organization. Unfortunately, our current President does not understand this or does not care. He has slashed scientific research and EPA programs in his 2018 budget by 31%, a steeper cut than for any other governmental organization. Around 3,200 jobs will be lost, just from the EPA, many of them highly trained and valuable scientists. Is this really wise?

I could list the other cuts the President is making to EPA programs that will impact our ability to live on this planet. The Paris Climate Agreement which addresses rising seas levels. An order to expand off-shore drilling. Then, we have such things as dropping the agreement to protect sea turtles and whales from fishing nets. Do we want to live on a planet when the caretakers don’t care about such things?

We have another solar #eclipse in 2024. Unless the EPA is given its money back to protect us from air pollution, we may not be able to see that one for the pollution in the air. It’s good we all enjoyed the 2017 #eclipse.

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Fake President

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I’m tired of hearing the term “fake news” from the big, fat mouth of Donald Trump. Particularly since he has shown himself to be a fake President. He uses the term “fake news” simply to fire up his base. His latest tweets slam Hillary Clinton again regarding her emails. What does that have to do with Trump’s issues of today, such as the Russian investigation and his utter incompetency as President of the United States? I’m not sure he remembers that he is no longer campaigning but is actually in the Office of President of the United States.

Trump’s latest exhibition of incompetency happened today when he turned down the NAACP’s invitation to speak before their 2017 convention. This smacks of racism along with incompetency. He’s worried about Clinton’s emails? A woman who is out of politics for the rest of her life? I think he has bigger problems than that.

This past week, the Election Commission even reported that the results of the entire 2016 election results are suspect. Perhaps he worried that he will be ousted from the office. He may be ousted, but it won’t be because there is a “do-over.”

The most shocking development is that Trump is suddenly, as of today, supportive of new sanctions being placed on Russia. Since Trump and Putin of Russia are such big buddies, all this says to me is that our fake President is scared. He is thinking if he acts supportive of the sanctions against Russia now, it will somehow save him.

We don’t have the findings of Robert Mueller or the House and Senate Committees about the Russian investigation or anything else yet. If Trump can manage it with his money and perceived power, we never will. What has prompted this article today is the fact that the Committee’s are not requiring Donald Trump, Jr. and Paul Manafort to appear in front of them in either a closed or open session. They are simply asking for documents. EXCUSE ME? Trump, Jr. gave them documents in the form of emails. They already know he is guilty of collusion with Russia. They don’t want to question him under oath? Trump wins again. They are requiring Jared Kushner to appear before them in a closed session. Why not an open session so the American people can learn the truth? Don’t we deserve that?

So what’s going on here? For starters, we have a Republican House of Representative and a Republican Senate. Trump is still polling at about 36% popularity. He could bomb Seattle and his base wouldn’t move, in my opinion, though rumor has it that his base is starting to erode..

A man who has admitted guilt cannot save himself and yes, Donald Trump has, indeed admitted guilt. We don’t yet know what he is guilty of, but if a man is questioning if he can pardon HIMSELF, you can bet that man is guilty. Why else would you ask that question? Not only is he guilty, but he knows members of his staff and family are guilty as well, since he has been trying to find out his power to pardon them as well. Can someone tell me why Congress has not drafted Articles of Impeachment at this point? Actually, I think I can answer my own question.

Trump still has about a 36 percent approval rate in the U.S. If Congress impeaches him, many of them will lose their next election. That means the senators and representatives are trying to hang on for their own self-interest. They aren’t representing us. They are representing themselves.

Trump does not involve himself in the legislative process. Some say the Senate Health Care Bill might have passed had he taken more of an interest. He has recently been out of the country more than he’s been here. Due to his narcissistic, volatile personality, it is worrisome to me what might happen if Trump starts to feel cornered. I think it may be happening now. He is talking about firing Robert Mueller, Special Counsel, which takes me right back to 1973 and the impeachment of Richard Nixon. Nixon fired his Special Counsel, Archibald Cox, and that set up Nixon’s eventual resignation.

Nixon went relatively quietly. Do you think Trump will do the same? I don’t.

 

Freedom of the Press, the U.S. Democracy, and Donald Trump

I sat down at my desk just now to work on a book I’m writing. I started thinking about Donald Trump’s attacks on the free press in the United States and the relationship between our free press and our democracy and I found myself pulling up my blog to write this article because this is important. Once again, a disclaimer. Don’t read this if you are thin-skinned, if you can’t see both sides of an issue. Only read it if you are disturbed by the video that Trump tweeted today that shows violence toward one of the news networks, CNN. Only read this if you think that this was patently wrong and illustrated the President of the United States advocating violence. Thinking more about it, maybe you should read it anyway. Feel free to say whatever you wish in the comments.

The comment was made earlier in the week that Donald Trump denigrated the Office of the President of the United States by his low-blow attacks on the co-hosts of the show “Morning Joe” on the cable news network MSNBC. He didn’t just do it once, but a number of times. My questions about his attacks are two-fold: Doesn’t he have anything better to do with his time than watch Cable News, like work on U.S. policy or prepare for the G-20 summit and his meeting with the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin? and second, Is Donald Trump ignorant to the fact that the existence of a free press is necessary if a country is to have a democracy? I was under the impression he had advanced degrees from some pretty good schools. That begs the question of whether Trump has yet another agenda. We’ll get to that later.

A couple of days after he first trashed the Office of the President with his big, nasty mouth, Trump posted his video on Twitter that was particularly violent regarding CNN. This is where Congress should draw the line. Where is Congress? Having a nice Fourth of July weekend? Really? The anniversary of our Independence? One would think that the members of Congress would realize that our way of life and our form of government is at risk because of this man who is taking up space in the White House. I stated earlier that it is necessary to have a free press in order to have a democratic form of government? Perhaps Trump is interested in an authoritarian form of government where he is the “end-all, be-all” dictator? He is so insecure and has such a low sense of self-esteem that he keeps having to have even his Cabinet praise him and he constantly refers to the fact that “he won” the election (like we don’t know that).

He has set up his inner circle like a dictator (or a king) with his family at the core and a member of the disgusting publication, Breitbart, an alt-right, white supremacist publication as his right hand. That is extremely similar to what a dictator would do since he would be unwilling to trust others. Steve Bannon, of Breitbart, obviously has a great deal of influence over Trump.

Trump first trashed the judges who first stopped his travel ban. He ordered the Senate Majority Leader to use the nuclear option to get his Supreme Court nominee confirmed. Now, he has ordered the 50 states to turn over the voter records and confidential voter information to a commission he created. The last time I heard, 29 out of 50 states had refused. He doesn’t use Congress as a legislative body. He uses Executive Orders. All of these actions, and more, are hallmarks of an authoritarian President. Then there is the fact he has shut down White House daily briefings, for the most part.

Why does he fear the press? Because they expose these actions to the American people. He fears the press because he is afraid the American people will become wise to his actions. Without the press, there is no democracy. Look at Russia and other authoritarian governments. They have no free press.

Does Donald Trump have an agenda concerning the press besides whining about his image? I’ll let you be the judge. My answer to that question is an unqualified yes and it is to fundamentally change our form of government.

 

 

 

Donald Trump, Health Insurance, and A Big, Ugly Mouth

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Fair warning, friends, readers. I’m pulling no punches, holding nothing back in this blog post. You can do the same if you post a comment. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. If you can’t take the heat, hear the truth, stay out of this particular kitchen. Trump has finally gone too far and, by the time he meets with Vladimir Putin of Russia this week, those among you who still support him, may even agree with me.

I have tried for six months to find something redeeming about Donald Trump. Some reason why he got the majority of the electoral college votes for President of the United States. Some legitimate rationale. I have determined there was no legitimate rationale. Some people bought his rhetoric, bought what he was selling. He can be pretty convincing. It sounds good when someone totally different from a previous administration says they are going to step in and fix everything. It sounded good that he was a businessman and was going to run the government like a business. But, the government is not a business. Running the huge machine that is the federal government is not very much like running Trump’s real estate businesses. For one thing, we just try to balance the budget. We do not seek to necessarily make a profit. Not that Donald has made a profit many times. He’s taken bankruptcy several times. So the profit-seeking motive is still eluding him. His billions (if they are billions) came primarily from investing his father’s money. Do you know the last President that balanced the federal budget and, actually, had a surplus? Bill Clinton.

Trump apparently has an attention-deficit problem. He does not read. He spends his time tweeting and watching Cable News. He was great screaming out all of the things he was going to do at his famous rallies. But, sitting down and reading his briefings and his foreign policy reports is something he does not do. He doesn’t even have anyone in the White House that can talk to him about the contents of the briefings verbally. No one there has any experience. They are either his family or his own appointees who are as inexperienced as he is. Even the Secretary of State, a deeply experienced man, has been reported to be screaming in the White House that he can do nothing because he finishes second to Trump’s son-in-law.

I cannot say this strongly enough. Donald Trump does not know what he is doing. Not with regard to domestic policy nor foreign policy.

Health care insurance. Everyone is upset about health care insurance. Do you know what the problem is? YOU elected him. YOU elected a man who is going to take away Medicaid and, eventually, Medicare and probably some Social Security benefits. You thought that Obamacare was so bad? Well, parts of it are, indeed, terrible and way too expensive. Was that a reason to elect a toddler to serve as President of the United States? If you voted for Trump, YOU caused this horrendous situation in which we find ourselves. Your health care insurance may be going away? Really? TOUGH. You did it. You voted for him. Why didn’t you nominate a Republican candidate for President that was experienced and wasn’t a con artist and grifter who would rather bash the Morning Joe program than help figure out health care? Don’t even mention Hillary Clinton. There were sixteen other Republican candidates to choose from. Obamacare could be fixed if Congress had support by this so-called President to fix it.

Speaking of health care, now we have a situation where Mitch McConnell, the senior senator from MY state (a fact of which I am deeply ashamed) running things with regard to developing a new health care bill. We have millions of people in our state, a poor state, who voted for both Trump and McConnell because they are low-information voters who were taken advantage of. I am not giving them a pass. Educate yourselves, people. Do not vote for the person who just SOUNDS good. Now whatever is passed will likely scale Medicaid way back as well as Medicare benefits. That will decimate Appalachia. Half of my family comes from Appalachia. This saddens me more than I can say. But, the Appalachian people can educate themselves just like anyone else. I am sad, but I do not feel sorry for them. We had enough choices in the primary election that we could have elected someone head and shoulders better than the gross, disgusting man that sits in the White House. Mitch McConnell is one of the senators highest paid by the lobbyists. Do you suppose that might be a reason that he is sucking up to the drug and insurance companies? OPEN YOUR EYES AND FOLLOW THE MONEY. Mitch McConnell is not representing his constituency.

Let’s talk about Trump’s disgusting tweets about Joe and Mika, particularly Mika, of the Morning Joe show on MSNBC. Mika is a consummate professional and the daughter of a brilliant politician and expert in foreign policy. Trump has been tweeting, for two days now, disgusting tweets about Mika’s appearance and sanity and has been doing the same toward Joe. So he is the President? SO WHAT? If I were Mika, I would hire a lawyer and do whatever is necessary to stop him from tweeting one more time anything about me. He is a disgusting pig for doing what he is doing. He is not morally or ethically fit to serve as President of the United States and, instead of being on recess, Congress should be in session determining how to remove him from office due to the fact he has proven himself not “fit to serve.”

Trump’s tweets are nothing but a distraction and he thinks that we, the people, are too stupid to know it. He is trying to distract us from the real issues, the fact that he can’t pass any legislation being one of them.

This is what happens when we let emotion rule our important decisions. People did not like President Obama and I contend part of the reason was because he was half black. I am horrified to have to say that in the United States of America. I’m sure that is not true for everyone, but it is true for some. So many let their emotions rule them when they voted for Trump and this is what has happened. Our democracy is literally at stake and our government is on the verge of authoritarianism. This is not something we want. Imagine Trump as all-powerful leader.

This week, we have to be embarrassed by Trump’s meeting with the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, who will likely have him for lunch. Just remember. YOU voted for him. Those of us who did not vote for him are horrified at his activities. I want to believe that America, the shining city on the hill (a characterization by Ronald Reagan) does not have a society that has deteriorated to the point that we can accept a classless thug as a President.

 

 

Trump: The Apprentice or The Imposter

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There are moments when I feel sorry for Donald Trump. Most of the time, it seems so obvious to me that he is involved in something – something – that is way over his capacity to cope. Something big. A tiny percentage of the time, I look at his face, and his pout, and wonder if he is the incarnation of The Apprentice. He is an apprentice regarding his job. No big-time career as a businessman prepared him to be President of the United States and all the complexities of that job. He could truly yell, “You’re fired,” at people as a businessman and hire another competent person to fill the position. He becomes the President of the United States and he has to justify his actions. He can’t just fire the FBI Director because, guess what, Jim Comey was investigating HIM. The Donald. That is not kosher for a President to do. Maybe it never occurred to him when he was acting out the first half of his dual role as The Apprentice or The Imposter?

Those of us who really think about it say, “Nah.” Anyone would know that. We are the ones who think he is The Imposter. I fall 99% in this category and 1% in The Apprentice category. But, is there a rule book called, “How to be President of the United States?” I don’t really know the answer to that question, but my guess is no. Many presidents rely on their predecessors for advice. Trump can’t do that. He’s too busy rolling back, or trying to roll back, every program President Obama implemented, just because he implemented it. So, he doesn’t have the wisdom of someone who was President for eight years. He doesn’t even have George W. Bush to brainstorm with since Bush has made no secret of his disdain for the President. Bill Clinton? Well, we know why he can’t talk to Clinton. Let’s not go there.

As a result, Trump is flailing around in very deep waters like a person who doesn’t know how to swim. He doesn’t know how to work with Congress. Not that Congress works. They do so little. Yes, they just sustained a terrible tragedy, but let’s be real here. They have been obstructionist for a long time. It appears that they are going to try not to be obstructionist with President Trump since he is their only hope. What do you do with a President who is so focused on and scared of whether or not he is being investigated for crimes against the State that all he does is watch Cable TV all day and use Twitter. He doesn’t appear to have much time to do things like suggest legislation. Instead, he finds it more convenient to sign executive orders, even those which mean nothing. He looks like The Apprentice.

Let’s take Trump’s recent comments on Cuba. Does this mean no one can go to Cuba? Trump would like for his base to stand up and cheer and most of them did, but SURPRISE! His remarks meant very little. We won’t really know the impact of Trump’s remarks until 90 days have passed and the regulations about Cuba are released. However, the major impact will be on any dealings with the Cuban military.

In the meanwhile, Cuban Americans will worry about whether they will be able to see their relatives on the island and cruise ship operators and tour guides/travel agencies will not know what to do about booking travel. It has looked like Trump only tackled the Cuban issue because Obama did. Apprentice or Imposter? I say Imposter with a dash of, “Take that, Obama,” thrown in, since Trump appears to be acting like a petulant child.

Then we have the tweets. The Tweetmaster. Soon, the hole Trump is digging for himself with those tweets will go all the way to China. Only The Apprentice would not realize you can’t, as President of the United States, go around threatening to fire the people who are investigating you. The tweets are becoming increasingly irrational. They sound like they are written by someone who either thinks he is King, as opposed to President, or that he is scared to death. Again, the Apprentice or the Imposter? I don’t even like him and I want to tell him just to put down his phone. Quit digging that hole. He seems to listen to his daughter. Can’t Ivanka do something? Can’t someone do something? Many of the tweets are about the Russian investigation. Doesn’t he realize he’s making himself look guilty? I’m surprised he isn’t putting the tweets in a bottle and tossing them into that giant hole he is digging for himself.

What will happen if Trump is found to have obstructed justice or other charges and is removed from office? Presumably, Mike Pence will become President unless it is found that he knew about and was complicit in some of the seemingly shady dealings going on in the White House. If Pence can’t become President, Paul Ryan is next in line and Mitch McConnell is next. Please no.

It is difficult to consider that we have elected a President of the United States who is less than honest, who may have ties to a foreign power who is our adversary. I want to believe none of it is true, but the evidence that it is all true is mounting rapidly.. The Apprentice or The Imposter? The jury is still out.

#SoCS – 06/03/2017

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Donald Trump, Weather, Climate

It seems coincidental to me, Linda, that today’s #SoCS prompt is weather. Why? Two reasons. This week, our President decided to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement. The second reason is that hurricane season in the U.S. started June 1, 2017 and runs through November 30, 2017. Mr. Trump has appointed no new director of either FEMA or NOAA, the two agencies that deal with disasters such as hurricanes and that forecast and track hurricanes. Perhaps this is an oversight. The people that a hurricane will affect who live on the Atlantic Seaboard, the Gulf Coast, and every part of Florida will suffer due to such an oversight.

The Paris Climate Agreement. Mr. Trump apparently does not understand the Paris Climate Agreement. If he does understand it, then his withdrawal of the U.S. from it is particularly hateful. He seems to think that polluting the environment of the U.S. will lead to job creation when all it will lead to is more pollution and the continued killing of our planet. The U.S. is well on its way to reducing the use of fossil fuels, like coal, and reducing the greenhouse gases we emit. Mr. Trump is trying to set us back 50 years. Instead of supporting the efforts to develop wind farms and solar farms, for example, he wants to go back to mining coal. Coal miners can and would be trained to work in the clean energy industries. One such industry has already relocated to an area where coal was previously mined. Many of our 50 states vehemently disagree with him and are going to follow the Paris agreement on their own. Many large corporations are going to do the same.

Why is all this happening? Mr. Trump is feeling desperate. With low ratings, he is trying to do something that, during the campaign, he told his base he would do. He told them he would drop environmental regulations in the name of job creation so that’s what he is doing. He has found government too complicated to do much of anything else. So he is pursuing his nationalist agenda by turning his back on the environment. It particularly pleased him because he could turn his back on Europe at the same time since he desires to be an isolationist. In just the short time Mr. Trump has been President, we have lost our position as leader of the free world and either China or a European country will assume that position.

Whether or not our President can or will pursue an agenda that appeals to more than 38 percent of the American people is still a mystery. From what we’ve seen so far, his priorities lie somewhere besides where the priorities of the majority of the American people lie.

Trump: What Are We Waiting On?

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Donald Trump. At this point, I cannot bring myself to say President Donald Trump. Does a President of the United States, the leader of the free world, give away classified secrets to our adversary, the Russians, because he needs to brag to make himself feel good? That’s what happened a few days ago when he met, in private, with the Russian Foreign Minister and Ambassador. It makes the job of any of our enemies so much easier. Our President has put us at risk. What does this mean for our intelligence community?

The intelligence community keeps us alive. Donald Trump has just put that in jeopardy. Do you think that the intelligence community is going to keep sharing information with the U.S.? The answer is no. They are not. We are now in more jeoprady than before our President opened his big mouth because of his bigger inferiority complex. To make this all worse, Donald Trump basically admitted what he did in a tweet.

This, in my opinion, is the worst thing Trump has done. There are other things.

Trump fired the Director of the FBI, James Comey. Comey was leading the investigation into the Russian connection to Trump’s campaign. Trump fired the man who was investigating him. Shades of Richard Nixon and Archibald Cox. Trump could be impeached just for firing the Director of the FBI. Then, he threatens the Director with the existence of tapes if Comey talks about their conversations. The President of the United States threatening someone like a common thug?

Then there is the evidence that Trump is using the Presidency for profit. When the President of China visited, Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, was seated beside him. She ended up with Chinese trademarks for her clothing line.

I have mentioned just a handful of inappropriate actions Trump has taken since his inauguration. Perhaps passing classified information to the Russians is the most dangerous and certainly the worst, but not the only egregious action he has taken.

My question is what is Congress waiting on? This man needs to be removed from office. It may already be too late now that he has passed classified secrets to the Russians. He has now put us all in danger. It is time to act. Impeachment is not enough. We are in uncharted territory. In my opinion, he is mentally incompetent and needs to be physically escorted from the White House. I don’t know who would take his place. Mike Pence, Vice-President, does not seem to be the right choice as he has been complicit with many of Trump’s actions.

What are we waiting on? Destruction of our democracy and our country, not to mention danger and our way of life?

Replacement

One of the promises that President Donald Trump made during his campaign was to address the failing infrastructure in the U.S. That is a campaign promise that everyone, Democrats and Republicans alike, can get behind. His current travel ban on certain groups from certain countries is now a new policy that is not amenable to a high percentage of the population of the U.S., even some of his own supporters.

My suggestion is that he practice a replacement strategy and focus on policies that can be supported by a majority of the American people such as the infrastructure policy. Mr. Trump has very low initial ratings as a President. Focusing on the infrastructure policy, as opposed to this travel ban on groups from other countries, would endear him to the American public. Everyone knows that the infrastructure must be addressed.

Even though Mr. Trump is signing executive orders on issue after issue, there are many of them that Congress has to address before they can before law. Mr. Trump just seems to be flailing around, not listening to his advisers, and perhaps not telling the truth to the American people regarding the travel ban. It has been reported that Mr. Trump conferred with Rudy Guiliani concerning the “Muslim ban” before he put the travel ban in place. This does not start his Presidency out on a positive note. Instead, he has to deal with people demonstrating in almost every airport across the country.

Mr. Trump chose seven countries for his travel ban. Interestingly, he did not put three countries on the list that were involved in the 9/11 attacks and he has business interests in all three countries.

There are questions. Has Mr. Trump violated the Constitution with his travel ban and refusing to allow immigrants into the country? At the very least, this travel ban is unAmerican. The Statue of Liberty has the following quote carved on it:

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

 

#SoCS – Jan. 28/17

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Two things are on my mind for this stream of consciousness post. First, I am away on a trip and the place where I am is where I would like to live. The unfortunate part is that it is likely to take a while, maybe a long while, to make that happen. I don’t want to go home. “Home” doesn’t feel like home anymore. This place, this magical place, feels like home. There is very little I can do to rush the process of making my dream “place” my home. I have to wait for property to become available and it seldom does. I will wait. I would wait a long time.

Second, I am worried about the state of our country, the U.S.A. I don’t want to offend anyone, but I feel so strongly that we have an incompetent in the White House. Not only an incompetent but an egomaniacal narcissistic man. A dangerous combination for someone with access to the nuclear codes. He has been there one week and has violated the Constitution multiple times. He has also violated at least one important campaign promise. I know people whose most important requirement of the President  was that he was going to build a wall on the Southern border and have Mexico pay for it. Clearly, Mexico is not going to pay for it. Instead, he is going to tax us for it, the hard-working taxpayers. Not only that, but he has harmed the middle class by cutting the FHA mortgage insurance premiums. He doesn’t care about the middle class.

Do we let him go on and violate our Constitution and do absolutely nothing about it? The result of that will be the death of our democracy. Donald Trump may be the last President of the United States. We may be looking at a different, and less desirable, form of government. An authoritarian dictatorship, for example. If we’re lucky, a parliamentary form of government. Surely not a democratic form of government.

Then we have his and his Secretary of State’s Russian ties. Thankfully, that is being investigated.

The very most disturbing thing is the President’s efforts to stop the flow of information out of many of the federal agencies. Shades of Nazi Germany.

I’ll stop here, though I have so much more I could say.

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