Thursday, January 19, 2017

We need another French Revolution to get out of the Plutocracy voters have chosen. By Geniusofdespair

Earth to Trump: We only have ONE White House.

Somehow the middle class in this country think the rich, who have been bleeding them dry and dwindling our middle class numbers, are the answer to our prayers. They will save the economy and everything else. Rick Scott, what an example of a rich guy ruining our State. Even the Florida Democrats believe this rich guy savior routine, installing TerraNova (opererating over a billion dollars in Commercial Real Estate) Chief as their Florida party chair.

What's left of the middle class and angry white guys and gals are banking on Billionaire Donald Trump the ultimate flim flam man to save their sorry asses --- from what?? What has Donald Trump actually been installed to do? What do they think he can accomplish? All he has done over the years is get rich off the backs of others -- ripping off scores of people and he has used the system to increase his wealth (bankruptcies and tax breaks). What have rich guys done except fuck up our country (e.g. Koch Brothers with the T Party)?

And so far, what has Donald Trump done -- installed a bunch of really rich people to do his bidding. Marco Rubio, not even rich, is a zombie like politician who religiously follows the rich guy ethics hoping to be one some day. He actually voted to lift the pre-existing condition requirement for health care, hurting millions of plain folks like us. Does anyone see what is happening? Many of you have actually placed us in a plutocracy because of racism and your hatred/fright of immigrants.

Our country is royally fucked. Do you really expect all these rich people to generate jobs or anything? Betsy DeVos, Trump's nominee for Education Secretary admitted her family gave about 200 million to the Republican party. If she cared about education, why didn't she give to that?

The people Trump appointed will be cutting jobs and health regulations for their own profit margin. Those jobs you have been promised, don't exist. You aren't trained for the ones that do. Anyway there aren't enough of those kinds of jobs to go around. You can pick tomatoes angry white guy and try to better the health of your asthma/cancer suffering child, sick from polluted air and water,  because you won't be able to get health insurance. Or, will everyone become Uber drivers and retire with nothing. There might be jobs with "0" benefits.

You guys and gals that voted for Trump are as dumb as my socks that get lost in the dryer, never to be seen again.

The Rich are so in touch with your lives...

On Trump Administration: we know what is to come, the horizon is here ... by gimleteye

Please follow my Twitter feed: @gimleteyemiami

US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) wrote an excellent OPED for the Washington Post the other day, "Republicans want to fight climate change, but fossil-fuel bullies won't let them." (Reprinted, below.) Yesterday on C-SPAN, Senator Whitehouse and other senate Democrats grilled Trump's choice to lead the U.S. EPA, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt. The confirmation hearing was a clear indication that Senate Republicans will not show any backbone with respect to a Trump executive branch.

It was instructive in another way, as well. Scott Pruitt is an important player in the GOP task of empowering states rights over federal authority. Never mind what is in Donald Trump's words or heart: since Ronald Reagan, the nation's biggest corporate polluters have been aiming to shift regulatory authority from the federal government to the states, where they (ie. Koch-funded legislatures) can most easily shape legislation and influence law.

Although Donald Trump promised American voters he would "drain the swamp" and "make America great again", if it is accomplished it will be by right-wing ideologues. Trump is turning, much like Florida Governor Rick Scott did, straight back to the GOP insiders who thrive professionally and financially on the swamp.

There is, among many voters, an unfounded hope that the Trump administration won't do much damage, anyway, because Trump lacks a mandate. Based on the Senate confirmation hearings, they are wrong.

The media did not feature the Pruitt confirmation hearings. For one, the media showed a real antipathy to environmental issues during the presidential campaign, despite the fact that climate change and global warming are defining policy, both social and economic, of our times.

Yesterday, Sheldon Whitehouse and his colleagues (notably including Kamala Harris, the junior senator from California) were unafraid to take Scott Pruitt into the weeds of EPA and environmental policy.

What emerged was a vivid picture of the future: ideologically pure states' rights advocates who will be, in the words of one senator, "plaintiff, defendant, judge and jury" to the wholesale dismantling of federal authority.

Although Pruitt did admit that climate change is real (Trump calls it, "a hoax invented by China"), although he did admit to a federal role in limiting air pollution that wrecks the quality of life and public health of states downwind from major polluters, questions by Democratic senators like Whitehouse showed that Pruitt will be a standard-bearer for what billionaire interests -- like the Koch Brothers and Florida's Fanjul Big Sugar oligarchs -- want: the devolution of regulatory authority to the level where they can best control outcomes: state capitols. Period, end of story.

Part of what is so disillusioning for Democrats, today, is that those of a certain age believed that the progress of the Obama terms, at least on issues of culture, race, and civil discourse, confirmed battles that were fought and won. For example, Obama's victory across the spectrum of American society and the achievements of African American culture was "a done deal", a shining example to other nations where ethnic, religious, and racial divisions still prevail.

This is also true of the environment where progress of the 1970's, including the creation of the nation's most important environmental laws (by Republicans), was viewed as a foundation to address the existential threats posed by climate change and the rapid loss of biodiversity.

In fact, on the environment it turns out that fossil fuel billionaires were just waiting to permanently shift federal authority in favor of states, including a concerted effort to shape the federal judiciary and U.S. Supreme Court with "constitutional advocates".

We know what is to come. The horizon is here.

Republicans want to fight climate change, but fossil-fuel bullies won’t let them
By Sheldon Whitehouse January 10
The writer, a Democrat, represents Rhode Island in the Senate.

Talking to my Senate Republican colleagues about climate change is like talking to prisoners about escaping. The conversations are often private, even furtive. One told me, “Let’s keep talking, but you can’t let my staff know.”

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Big Sugar hires 64 lobbyists, again, in Tallahassee to reinforce its closed loop system of government ... by gimleteye

Florida's most profitable industry, Big Sugar, and its closed loop system
Peoples' memories are short. Apparently in Tallahassee, few recall what happened only one year ago after historic rainfall in mid-winter, normally Florida's dry season, filled Lake Okeechobee to the brim and caused water managers to freak out.

Lake Okeechobee is the diseased, liquid heart of Florida. For more than seventy years and until very recently, the lake was used by Big Sugar -- that farms on hundreds of thousands of acres around the lake, mostly around its southern half -- as its cesspit.

In wet season, Big Sugar used to routinely pump water off its fields back into the Lake. That runoff was laden with fertilizer and other chemicals, like sulfate, used to increase crop yields. In dry season, Big Sugar would pump water back onto its fields, nourishing the most heavily subsidized agricultural crop in America.

Lake Okeechobee is part of a closed loop system that serves Big Agriculture, including dairy farms to the north. This closed loop system has worked extraordinarily well, thanks to the integration of industry profits in the operation of water management infrastructure. Those profits benefit some of the wealthiest farmers in the United States. The closed loop system requires constant attention; from water managers who work for state and federal agencies to the legislative and executive branches of government in Tallahassee who regulate both the flow of water and the quality of water.

The system's many moving parts also include an army of lobbyists who serve the biggest corporations involved in sugarcane production: the Flo-Sun/ Florida Crystals empire owned by the Fanjul family, U.S. Sugar Corporation owned by the descendants of Charles Stuart Mott through a charitable trust, and other smaller, but important players like the King Ranch, the largest land-owner in Texas.

There are some variables in the closed loop system that require the intervention of legislators and lobbyists. Environmental rules and regulations are one. The other: rainfall. Broadly speaking, environmental rules and regulations affect the region because the Everglades and water quality, downstream of Lake Okeechobee, are protected by law. So are the waters of Florida that serve the state's number one industry: tourism and real estate.

Although businesses that involve tourism and real estate are attentive to water quality, as an historical matter it has never been its top priority. As long as the sun shines and the weather is warm in winter and taxes are low, the state's biggest profit centers are complacent. For Big Sugar, on the other hand, environmental regulations are critical. Florida's natural environment is uniquely susceptible to injury from the chemicals in fertilizer. Its needs are also upside down from the seasonal requirements to put water on and to dry down sugarcane.

In other words, the closed loop system that serves both Florida politics and sugar industry profits has been superimposed over a natural system and that the entire arrangement mostly works unless one looks too closely -- through the lens of science -- and unless it rains too much.

A year ago, too much rain fell in South Florida at the wrong time of year. In December and January, nearly two feet of rain fell causing lake levels to soar.

Water managers, fearing an historically wet winter would be followed by a wet hurricane season, opened the lake's floodgates to lower water levels as a matter of caution and in consideration of a possible catastrophic failure of the lake's berm. Sugarcane fields stayed mostly dry as downstream real estate and tourism-related businesses on both Florida coasts were pummeled by a massive, months-long flood of terribly polluted water.

The problem with the Lake Okeechobee closed loop system, long known to scientists, fishermen, and environmentalists, is that it doesn't include enough water storage and treatment marshes which could accommodate excess rainfall. Scientists are in agreement: for the closed loop system to work, and not destroy downstream Everglades or nearby estuaries and rivers, about 100,000 additional acres of land is required to create shallow, highly engineered marshes to cleanse pollution that is primarily attributable to Big Sugar's farming practices.

That land must be purchased from Big Sugar by the State of Florida. There is the problem. Through its copious campaign contributions and through its careful organization of the political hierarchy in the state capitol, Big Sugar calls the shots. Because the state capitol is far from the population centers of South Florida impacted by Lake Okeechobee, and because Lake Okeechobee itself is geographically sequestered in the middle of the state, there is little occasion for the political order that serves Big Sugar to be troubled by urban and suburban populations.

Until it rains too much. What happened in the winter of 2015 and 2016 was that the district of the incoming senate president Joe Negron was puked on by Lake Okeechobee.

Negron didn't get to be selected as senate president, by his GOP peers, by standing up to Big Sugar. In fact, he has been -- like so many legislative leaders before him -- an enforcer within the Republican majority; who knows how political stars line up according to Big Sugar's influence.

Negron also pays attention to science. As the rains fell, more than 200 scientists signed a letter to Florida Gov. Rick Scott, urging the speedy acquisition of lands from Big Sugar to solve the problem of massive pollution from Lake Okeechobee. Communities and activists on both Florida coasts organized to support the scientists, passing the Now or Neverglades Declaration through social media sites and related groups.

Senator Negron has affirmed that land acquisition in the Everglades Agricultural Area is his top priority. It makes perfect sense that a legislative leader who has supported the closed loop system that delivers profits to Big Sugar would be the best advocate for fixing its costly deficiencies. All that is missing is political will of Negron's colleagues -- especially Democrats in the Senate and state representatives in the House.

Florida's future depends, now, on how skillfully Senator Negron can navigate a budget process where Big Sugar stands in the shadows, using all its financial resources to steer the outcome. According to press reports, there are 64 lobbyists in Tallahassee today organized to block Senator Negron's yet-to-be-released bill.

The question government always faces: who does democracy serve? If the question isn't constantly asked, the institutional exercise of democracy turns into an elaborate pageant or Kabuki drama where every role and plot-point has been honed through generations of actors. Each takes the stage to replace who came before. In time, with each successive performance, they become skilled, then aged by term limits, then fade from view to yield to a younger generation, trained by lobbyists. The retired stars are richly rewarded, with good seats in the skyboxes.

Florida's government is a closed loop system, and it will take all the skill Senate president Joe Negron can muster to protect the state from the destiny of all closed loop systems that fail to adapt to changing circumstances.

Opposition to Joe Negron's Lake Okeechobee land buy shapes up and it's strong
Isadora Rangel, Treasure Coast Palm Published 5:42 p.m. ET Jan. 13, 2017 | Updated 6:17 p.m. ET Jan. 13, 2017

When Senate President Joe Negron announced his plan to reduce Lake Okeechobee discharges last year, he acknowledged his upcoming challenge: to convince the Legislature to fund it.

That challenge began taking shape Wednesday as the Senate had its first meeting to discuss how to curb discharges.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Nationwide Democratic lawmakers are opting out of the inauguration. By Geniusofdespair

Who can resist a party? Apparently 2 Florida lawmakers can Darren Soto and Frederica Wilson. Only two have signed on to skip the inauguration of the Tweeter in Chief. 40 Dems nationwide have banded together and decided not to go according the Washington Post. Who is going from Florida? Bill Nelson? Don't go!

On political and policy responses to climate change, Trump and his cabinet can't be bothered by facts ... by gimleteye

Global Sea Ice Area 1978-2017
by @kevpluck 

Data source NSIDC: Visualisation generated using --
Why, terrifying? Pay attention to the visualization of sea ice loss in 2016 compared to steady decline in recent years. The anomaly demonstrates what scientists have been shouting from rooftops: climate change impacts are likely to be logarithmic and not linear. 

Since the C02 we emit into the atmosphere is increasing, and, since feedback loops are accelerating releases and warming around the world, off-the-scale data changes are just the leading edge of climate change impacts. We know what happens next: the world gets much hotter, faster.

The point is that humanity has been spending down the interest on climate systems that sustain life. 

Climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer, Princeton University recently said, "We are entering a climate space now that is entirely different than anything that has existed in the history of humanity, and way out of the range that has existed for the history of civilization." Sadly, Oppenheimer is not the Princeton scientist that Donald J. Trump invited, recently, to Trump Tower.

Instead, Trump met with another Princeton professor, William Happer, a physicist -- not climate scientist-- who questions whether we should be concerned about human-caused climate change. Sad! That's a popular word in the next president's twitter lexicon. "Sad" doesn't capture terror.

In his last address to the nation, President Obama said it well, about global warming, if not intentionally as truth demands. "We need to solve climate issues "now" so future generations can enjoy what we hold in stewardship for them." (or words to that effect.)

What he meant: we are now wealthy enough to solve climate change, but if nations wait until the rapid impacts overwhelm us, we will not be wealthy. We will be too busy fighting for survival to marshal the financial resources and political will to unify against a common threat to mankind.

Trump, himself, and the Cabinet members he has selected are firmly in the do-nothing camp on climate change impacts. They appear to have already decided: there is nothing the federal government can do. Theirs is a cowardly, sham argument that casts around for any shred of proof that what we are seeing is anything but catastrophic. 

Trump policy on climate change is grounded in the shambolic myth that elected leaders should point America back in the direction of the 1950's and recover our primacy in the world economy before any consideration is given to collateral benefits like environmental protection. This idea that "jobs come first" has been a core Republican value for years, most clearly by Jeb Bush in Florida.

It is a fantasy of people who are rich, who can fly off by private jet to hunting safaris in Africa or to fishing rodeos in the Bahamas, and scoff at the analyses of the military and U.S. intelligence concluding that rapid global warming is a threat multiplier to national security.

Elections have consequences but so does the righteous anger of citizens. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Two Events Yesterday to talk about Trump: ONE A DISASTER. By Geniusofdespair

Yesterday afternoon I went to the meeting at the Barnacle in Coconut Grove to learn strategies to deal with the Trump presidency. No one was actually running it. There were people pushing issues, like voting for felons, jobs (unions), rights for people at Krome. WHAT? Who was in charge here? I had no clue. The activity was all focused on water bottles (we were never offered) and waiting for someone to park. The Dumbocrats never have their shit together.


I gave it an hour and then left.

There was another meeting at St. Stephens in Coconut Grove in the evening. I heard that meeting was focused and well-attended. I should have gone but I was so despondent over the Barnacle Meeting I couldn't do it again.

I am thinking of changing parties...AGAIN.

Here are some I have been thinking about: The United States Marijuana Party, The Modern Whig Party created by veterans, United States Pirate Party (they want to roll back corporate personhood). I like the emblem of the Marijuana Party. But I like the techie leanings of the Pirate Party and love the name. I am sorry, the Democrats and Republicans --- all losers. Maybe I will have to resort to the Green Party. I just don't know what to do.

Shaping Public Opinion: on Facebook, Right Wing-Potemkin Villages Abound ... by Alan Farago

From the Facebook page, Trump Friends
For much of 2015 and 2016, on the side of one of the most congested roads in South Florida -- US Route 1 -- there was a man at the same corner of the northbound lane holding a large sign in the morning. If you were among the hundreds of thousands daily commuters headed towards downtown, you could not avoid seeing him and his sign.

The man was dressed casually and well enough. Apart from sunglasses and the sign with big block letters, he would not seem out of place in mall or parking lot. For the first half of the year, the sign message was this: "MAFIA = CORRUPT". I noticed, and my guess is a fair percentage of commuters did, too.

It was an odd message. Of course the Mafia is corrupt. But stalled in traffic or passing by, the sign made me question; what did it mean? The mafia itself is not corrupt. It is powerful. Those are two different phenomenon. Was the sign holder insane? How could he afford to be outdoors, every day?

Later in the spring, the sign changed to, "PUT HILLARY IN JAIL" and, then, "LOCK HER UP". That message was clear. No interpretation needed. Then, still later -- in October -- the sign said, "VOTE FOR TRUMP". Perhaps, that was the point: to get viewers to wonder about the nature of power and point to its single conclusion.

I have no proof the man on the side of the road was creative political advertisement. (if so and if he was paid, he would have violated election law, requiring identification of funding source). The man with the sign vanished after the election so I can't ask him, or, I would.

In the parking lot of Starbucks, just half a mile south of the location, there was a Jeep parked right at the edge of US 1 all day long: it also had signs, ever more ominous with a background of the Joker in Batman; an easily recognizable villain next to a caricature of Barack Obama.

Here was a strategy clearly aimed at penetrating the bubble that people are in, especially when they commute to work. "MAFIA = CORRUPT" was designed to first condition its audience with a moral and ethical concern, then to viscerally attach to Hillary Clinton one clear answer, vote for Trump. The sign on the Jeep also wanted to put Hillary in prison; a message highly effective among a certain segment of voters, including voters who just turned off and didn't vote in November 2016.

There is another place in the virtual world that is like US Route 1: a Facebook page called "Trump Friends". It is also filled with moral and ethical concerns although they express in hateful ways.

Anyone can subscribe to this Facebook page or other pro-Trump pages. They are similar; filled with pro-Trump memes, articles, and a kind of full-throated messaging that exults at the "cup of hot liberal tears" bemoaning the defeat of Hillary Clinton.

On each post on the FB page, there are "millions" and "hundreds of thousands" of views -- a metric that is verified only by Facebook -- , curiously, a comparatively tiny number of commenters who all tend to say the same thing or short, single sentences. Like the man at the side of US 1 in Miami.

I randomly reached out to a dozen of the commenters by clicking on links to their names as soon as they "posted" comments on Trump Friends.  I sent email messages to a small sampling size. I politely asked if they had just posted on "Trump Friends" FB page.

One was a woman who, from her FB page, was struggling with advanced cancer. A fair number were Russians or from Eastern Europe,  registered for FB outside the US. One was from Singapore. I asked about their interest in Donald Trump as soon as they posted their comment: I only had one response.

He was a Buddhist vegan from Australia who supports aboriginal rights. He replied: "I am not fond of the war machine which has been on steroids during the rule of this (Obama) creature. As for Jews .... I do not hate Jews. On the other hand Zionists who are not Jews I cannot abide. Khazarians are those of whom I speak." Khazarians?

The fact that only the Australian Pro-Trump vegetarian/ Buddhist replied is troubling. Perhaps my blind queries about sensitive political views caused the other recipients to ignore my message. But it is also possible, none of these people really exist.

For instance: I looked up the FB page of one Danielle Jaskula at the instant she posted her comment. Her FB page has this image:

"This is the way it should be" except that it is affirming the role of Facebook as a virtual black hole mixing misinformation, false identities, and right-wing political agendas

Like many commenters on the Trump Friends FB page who I believe are invented fictions, Ms. Jaskula's own page is filled with patriotic themes: "this is the way it should be"; the same moral and ethical concern that does, in fact, animate real Trump supporters.

Other commenters webpages are similarly filled with Christian symbols, values, and a pervasive sense of tribal isolation; that the world is really divided between us versus them. But what if they are not real? Forget fake news: the Facebook phenomenon of Trump pages filled with invented commenters would be pure and simple propaganda.

I sent Ms. Jaskula an email moments after she posted, asking if she had indeed commented and if so, to please explain the ideas behind her post and whether, like some of the other "friends" of Donald Trump, whether she also lives outside the U.S. No response.

"If you have a voice, you have an impact." That's what President Obama said to 60 Minutes in the final interview of his administration last night. But what if the voices that are having an impact aren't real at all? What if they are conjured from the imagination of political entrepreneurs who are paid to fan the fires of a market-tested basket of attractors?

The FB page of one Trump Friend belongs to Tatonka Gilbert. It is not clear who Tatonka Gilbert is. His page identifies him as "Owner at Small business owner, Studied at The University of Arizona", and his page of photos is filled with hostile images of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and supportive images of Donald Trump and of Native American Indians. Hence, I suppose, Tatonka. Unless he is pure whimsy. I tried contacting Mr. Gilbert as soon as he posted a comment on Trump Friends. No response.

I don't doubt that on Facebook there are real Trump supporters and also real Trump opponents who freely use social media to communicate their political views. My informal survey leads in another, fearful and dystopian direction: that Facebook pages are literal agents of propaganda, amplifying the right-wing megaphone by creating Potemkin-like villages on the web.

It is now up to investigative journalists to verify this theory: are Facebook's right wing political pages filled with devotees of Donald Trump or is this a sophisticated political campaign to shape opinion through identities crafted from a check list of conservative, right-wing values as established by political marketers: a virtual community created from thin air?

I believe Facebook pages like Trump Friends is no different from the man holding the sign at the edge of US 1: low-cost, high impact political marketing. Both channel real Trump supporters by chumming grievance, outrage and populist anger in a virtual ocean. Bots or anonymous worker bees on Facebook have made a right-wing groundswell appear, to "normalize" nationalistic, jingoist, hateful, racist messages now animating enough Trump supporters to turn civility into chaos.

The man standing at the side of US 1 with the "MAFIA = CORRUPT" sign conditions viewers toward a conclusion. He is like an automatic, bot crawler on pages like Trump Friends, inserting inflammatory comments, chumming in the waters of protected, free speech.

IT boiler room operations in Mumbai or Moscow could be inventing hundreds of thousands of Facebook users who comment on FB by automated selection, and we would never know.

All aim to drive traffic to social media pages like Trump Friends; a virtual Trump - Potemkin Village, connected to each other like nested like Russian dolls, that nonetheless gives rise to the notion (to the media as well as to the public) of a great wave of support for an autocratic whose narcissistic behavior is so encompassing, it is possible he does not even know the monsters that created him.

Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook board of directors ought to know if their company platform -- now counting billions of users -- has been hijacked and is being misused to drive a hostile, divisive and extraordinarily dangerous political agenda spanning the world. If they don't know, let this blog post serve that notice and a challenge to investigative journalists: prove me wrong.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Trump's Biggest Blunder Ever: Attacking John Lewis. By Geniusofdespair

John Lewis and Martin Luther King
 Does Donald even know who he is messing with on Twitter? And on Martin Luther King's Birthday. He is so stupid it is mind boggling. Lewis is a hero and civil rights Icon.
Martin Luther King and John Lewis
Martin Luther King, John Lewis, President Kennedy on Right

This attack on Lewis is going to be big trouble for the Tweeter in Chief. In fact, Trump has mischaracterized Lewis's district.

And, Trump hasn't stopped with the twitter crap. That is the crazy part, he knows he is a God of Civil Rights...and he keeps going.

#America is off the tracks #runawaytrain #donaldtrump ... by #gimleteye

I strongly support this point of view. Follow my twitter feed: @gimleteyemiami

America is off the tracks
Michael Cohen, Jan 13, 2017
Boston Globe

I have spent much of my life reading and writing about American politics, but nothing I’ve seen before has prepared me for what happened this week. Increasingly, it feels as though the country is careening out of control and heading straight off a cliff — and nothing can slow it down.

In the past week, admittedly sketchy allegations emerged that the Russian government might have financial and/or personal information that could be used to blackmail President-elect Trump.

We’ve found out that the Trump campaign may have been in direct contact with the Russian government to throw the election to him. We’ve discovered that the FBI sought and eventually received a FISA warrant to look at phone calls allegedly related to this question.

We found out that the intelligence community found these claims credible enough that they brought them to the attention of both President Obama and Trump.

Information has been leaked that suggests Mike Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser, phoned Russia’s ambassador the United States multiple times on the day that the Obama Administration announced sanctions against Russia for its efforts to undermine the US election.

If evidence emerges of collusion between Trump’s advisers and the Russian government, it would represent a potential constitutional crisis. That we are a week away from Trump’s inauguration and we don’t know the truth behind these allegations is terrifying.

As if this isn’t bad enough, we are also a week away from what will unambiguously be a constitutional crisis — namely Trump’s refusal to disentangle himself from his various business enterprises. It’s not an exaggeration to say that at the moment Trump takes the oath of office, he will be in violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which bans the president from taking gifts or payments from a foreign entity or individual. Since Trump does not believe that conflict of interest laws apply to him at all and that he’s under no obligation to ensure that he is not profiting from being president, he will take office under an ethical cloud that we’ve never seen in the 240-year history of the United States.

Of course, Congress could take steps to rectify this issue. It could require Trump to turn over his taxes so that Americans could fully understand his business conflicts. It could push him to divest himself of his businesses and use the leverage of impeachment to force his hand. But that, of course, is never going to happen. Instead, as Rep. Jason Chaffetz made clear this week, he’s more focused on investigating the head of Office of Government Ethics for daring to suggest that Trump’s efforts to limit conflicts is inadequate and leaves the president-elect vulnerable to “suspicions of corruption.”

Indeed, Republicans in Congress are too busy pushing forward with a plan to repeal Obamacare and in the process, take health insurance away from 20-30 million Americans. They are doing this with minimal debate and with no effort to engage Democrats, the American people, or those who are at risk of losing insurance coverage. Worst of all, there is zero indication that Republicans fully appreciate the potentially catastrophic consequences of what they are preparing to do.

Meanwhile, the president-elect is giving press conferences in which he is bashing the news media for reporting stories he doesn’t like and branding it, falsely, as fake news. He’s taking to social media to once again attack Hillary Clinton, to encourage people to buy products from L.L. Bean because a granddaughter of the company’s founder donated money to his campaign, and to openly lie about his conversations with intelligence officials.

Taken all together, this confluence of events represents perhaps the most profound political crisis that this country has faced since Watergate. We have a president-elect fully prepared to violate the Constitution. We have allegations that his advisers might have worked directly with a foreign government to win the presidential election and who could also, potentially, be blackmailed by that same government. We have a Congress indifferent to these potential crises and focused instead on repealing legislation that will literally cause the premature deaths of thousands of Americans. It’s almost hard to take all of this in. It’s a disorienting and surreal moment in our history and the worst part is that last week might have represented the calm before the true storm.

Michael A. Cohen’s column appears regularly in the Globe. Follow him on Twitter @speechboy71.

Thumbs way up on the Play "The Kings of of Harlem". By Geniusofdespair

I saw the Kings of Harlem, inspired by the 1939 Harlem Rens Basketball Team,  at the Sandrell Rivers Theater Saturday night. Great acting. Free Parking, beautiful venue. The theater is one block off 95 and they have a parking garage attached to the theater.

 I really enjoyed the show. Go see it to celebrate Martin Luther King. They are not open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The rest of the week they have shows at 8pm and a 3pm matinee on Sunday.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Our Inspector General Mary Cagle too chummy with the Miami Dade County powerful? By Geniusofdespair

The Miami Herald reported that Auditor James Rosenberg was removed because of his audit and he wasn't NICE enough to staff.

A former top watchdog in Miami-Dade government claims he was ousted over his efforts to expose widespread financial mismanagement in the county.

James Rosenberg used to run audits for the Inspector General office, but says he was fired over his aggressive questioning of how the county was spending its transit tax and other funds. “It’s a case of killing the messenger,” Rosenberg’s lawyer, Bill Amlong, said Friday.

This week, the county’s ethics board (ethics chief worked with Cagle at Rundle's office, I hope he recused himself) rejected Rosenberg’s allegations...
Cagle warned Rosenberg last year that she would fire him in part over his inability “to deal professionally with high-level County officials (WTF? me)
and who do you think the HIGH LEVEL official was:
Gimenez’s spokesman, called Rosenberg’s accusations insulting. (the one who I suspect has ordered the cooking of the books.)
His (Rosenberg) complaint centers around an accounting dispute that was the subject of the June 2016 audit that Rosenberg supervised. The report concluded that over the course of seven years, Miami-Dade improperly charged the transportation tax and other restricted revenue sources for $15 million in overhead expenses, including vacation time. The audit found the expenses should have been charged to the general fund, a more than $1 billion pool of money made up mostly of property taxes.

I was not a fan of Mary Cagle even before she was hired. I was at Mary Cagle's interview in October 2013. One thing she said particularly upset me:
One applicant said they would forge relationships and meet with commissioners (MARY said this). ICK on that one. How about arms length? You might be investigating some of them, hopefully, we don't want you to be their friends. No relationships. If someone is going to spill their guts it is not because you are their friend.
Look at his experience with transit. He was there for 16 years.

This sucks big time. We know this is going on "Budget shell game" with the Transit Sales tax increase you idiots all voted for. Where are all the projects? Stop voting for bonds too.

I wish Rosenberg luck because I believe him. And look around, isn't transit just great?