While We Were Distracted…

The cable news networks have been giving 24/7 coverage of the government shutdown and the emergency declaration and we were all tweeting in righteous fury and…

meanwhile:

Tax Reform is the tax scam we all knew it was and no one is talking about it. Refunds are down and some are quick to point out, yeah…that’s because you got more in your paycheck each week, so you should have adjusted your withholdings. ? So you should have adjusted your withholdings to withhold more, with the hope you’d be exactly where you were before tax reform?

Headlines:

Companies Spent 140 Times More on Stock Buybacks Than Wage Increases in 2018

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Did you forget? The Trump Administration withdrew from the nuclear weapons treaty with Russia. The US isn’t punishing Russia. The US is rewarding the military industrial complex and threatening the stability of Europe along with the rest of the world. It’s kind of a big deal.

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The Trump administration is actively stumbling towards a military intervention in Venezuela. Whether we believe the current situation in Venezuela requires the US to position military forces at the ready or not, it is clear this is the very situation that many of us feared might arise with this administration and according to Cuba it is already happening:

“Between February 6 and 10 military transport aircraft have flown to the Rafael Miranda Airport of Puerto Rico, the San Isidro Air Base, in the Dominican Republic and to other strategically located Caribbean islands, probably without knowledge of the governments of those nations,” the declaration alleged.

“These flights originated in American military installations from which units of Special Operations and Marine Corps operate, which are used for covert actions.”

“Cuba said it was clear the US wanted to “forcibly establish a humanitarian corridor under international protection, invoking the obligation to protect civilians and applying all necessary measures”.

The idea that the Trump administration might create a military conflict as both a distraction and also to shore up support, isn’t a new one. We’ve been concerned about this since before Trump was President. That being said, the current tensions in Venezuela are perfectly timed and perfectly suited to the undertaking.

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The Trump administration continues to actively support discrimination and take the opposing side to anti-discrimination laws in the past 2 months. 1. Taking the side of Texas that past and ongoing discrimination does not need to be examined when redistricting it’s maps. 2. Rescission of Obama-era rules the minority students aren’t disproportionately punished under school discipline rules. 3. Opposing side on affirmative action (current case vs Harvard).

All told, the Trump team continues to demonstrate that despite an atmosphere of disarray, its lawyers have kept a singular focus on transforming racial-bias laws — alarming civil rights activists and gratifying veteran conservative advocates.”Since the 1960s, when these major laws were first enacted, we’ve never seen an administration so intensely focused on dismantling civil rights protections across the board,” Jon Greenbaum, chief counsel for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said Friday.

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The GOP is continuing to pack the courts with conservative ideologues and useful idiots at an unprecedented rate. People hell bent on ruling against our liberal ideals and rights as we currently know them. Just over 80% of the GOP’s picks are members of the federalist society, whereas only 4% of US lawyers are members of that society. 1/5 of all federal judges are currently, quietly, quickly being installed:

“Many of them were holdovers from the previous Congress. A couple of them have said that they couldn’t say if Brown v. Board of Education was decided correctly. One of them has accused Planned Parenthood of killing thousands of women because abortion causes breast cancer. A whole bunch of them are opposed to the rights of LGBTQ citizens, and a few of them have been active in defending voter suppression laws. One of them thinks poverty is “a mind-set,” and that American society has become a society of “leeches.”

How did so many vacancies occur in the first place? How do you think? Ya wanna guess?

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell now insists that there’s nothing “we can do …that’s more important … than confirming judges as rapidly as we get them.” Pretty sure that wasn’t Mitch’s take when he was obstructing Obama.  Pretty, pretty sure. Now he is aghast that Dems are willing to try anything possible to slow down Mitch’s stuffing of the courts. Aghast! How could they?!

Senate obstructionism handed a raft of judicial vacancies to Trump—what has he done with them?

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The Department of Homeland Security is gutting the departments responsible for protecting our elections. DHS priority is not election interference, it’s migration and the created crisis of the border wall. Although Sarah Sanders has said: “The President has made it clear that his administration will not tolerate foreign interference in our elections from any nation-state or other dangerous actor,” the President certainly has never made that clear and no one in DHS interested in finding guidance on election security from this administration is finding anyone in the White House interested in offering that guidance.

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Set to go into effect June 2019, roll back protections for construction/ship-builders against beryllium exposure, a toxic, carcinogenic element laced through the coal waste often used in abrasive blasting grits. Monitoring exposure was deemed too costly by the Trump administration. The limits to which workers could be exposed remain in effect, but without measuring the exposure, the set limit levels are entirely useless. 11,500 workers will be exposed to the carcinogen and we won’t know how dangerous their exposure was until they start showing up in hospitals.

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Department of Energy rolling back efficiency standards of light bulbs, so it’s totally legit to burn more fuel powering them. More energy=more greenhouse gasses.

The EPA issued guidelines to redefine and greatly diminish the Clean Water Act.

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Trump’s EPA pick, Andrew Wheeler, is a coal lobbyist, who can state, clear of conscience, that global warming isn’t that big a deal.

Trump’s Dept. of Interior pick, David Bernhardt, is also a oil/coal lobbyist, whom worked hand-in-hand with former Secretary Zinke to push to open Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling and also seeks rollbacks of a number of Endangered Species Act regulations.

The Trump administration has placed a former Koch Industries official, David Dunlap, as deputy in EPA’s Office of Research and Development. He will be in charge of research that will shape how the government regulates a class of toxic chemicals contaminating millions of Americans’ drinking water — an issue that could have major financial repercussions for his former employer.

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The Trump Administration has recently rolled-back payday loan protections.This proposal is not a tweak to the existing rule; instead, it’s a complete dismantling of the consumer protections finalized in 2017,” says Alex Horowitz, senior research officer at Pew’s consumer finance project.

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The Trump Administration removed another workplace safety regulation, the- Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses’ rule.
“Today, despite the ongoing federal government shutdown, the Trump administration announced yet another rollback of workplace safety protections. The final rule, published today, allows dangerous employers to hide workplace injuries, seriously hindering the efforts of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)—as well as the efforts of state agencies, the public health community, workers, and employers—to identify and prevent workplace injuries.”

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