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Monday, 7 November 2016

November 8th, 2016….The Day America Proves That It Isn’t A Totally Insane Country

I just managed to squeeze this piece under the wire. Tomorrow there will be a lot of fingers crossed around the world.

November 8th.....Boy was I ever wrong. I was counting on 55% of Americans not being totally fucking nuts!

By the time you read this the US election will probably have already happened. My prediction is Hillary Clinton will win with about 330 electoral votes, 60 more than the 270 she would need to become president. Millions of Americans on the right will be very pissed off. I also believe that the Democrats will retake The Senate by 2  seats. Congress will still be controlled by the Republicans and they will do anything they can to make things uncomfortable for Mrs. Clinton. They may even try to impeach her.
What The Last Republican President, George W. Bush, And The Republican Party Did To America
Donald Trump and other Republicans have predicted that the US will come apart at the seams if Hillary is elected. Their followers agree. Obama will be leaving office with a popularity rating of around 55% after 8 years in office. George W. Bush had a popularity rating of 32% when he left office and no Republican wanted to be seen with him when the 2012 election was held.
Many Americans have short memories when it comes to the George Bush Jr. years. He went to war with Afghanistan and Iraq when all but 1 of the 9/11 terrorists came from Saudi Arabia. The invasion of Iraq was based on bullshit that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The total cost of the wars is somewhere between 4 and 6 trillion and it was just added on to the US national debt. On the insistence of Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, and Cheney, Bush had the Iraqi army disbanded and without jobs they formed Al Qaeda which later morphed into ISIS.
Bush introduced tax cuts for the very wealthy and corporate America that they didn’t need. Between this loss of government revenue, spending on Homeland Security, and the huge costs of the wars, Bush increased the US national debt by over 100%, about 5.7 trillion dollars in his time in office. He also left a legacy of continued debt for things like the costs of taking care of the wounded and psychologically damaged war veterans. Bush also introduced something called Medicaid Part D that wasn’t funded.
Bush put a guy named Michael Brown in charge of a federal department called FEMA. FEMA was responsible for helping people out who had been hit by natural disasters. Brown’s previous experience had been in breeding Arabian horses. Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and FEMA’s response to it was slow and mostly ineffective.
The real shit hit the fan in 2008, Bush’s last year in office. Republicans have always believed in as few regulations as possible when it comes to business. The stock market crashed, the major banks had to be bailed out because of risky practices, major US auto makers were teetering on bankruptcy, hundreds of thousands of people lost their jobs and many also lost their homes. It was the greatest US economic downturn since the Great Depression.
Obama And Repairing America

When Obama became president the US in 2009 the country was hemorrhaging over 100,000 jobs a month. The banks and the auto makers had to be bailed out. Fixing the US economy was not something that could be done instantly. There were huge costs including extending unemployment benefits. During Obama’s close to 8 years in office more than 9 million new jobs were created.  Unemployment is now under 5%. The US is now almost oil independent. US car companies have seen record sales. The stock market has gone through the roof. More than 20 million more Americans now have health care coverage. On top of all this the US national debt has been decreased by 1 trillion dollars.
What hasn’t seen dramatic increases are worker’s pay cheques. No president can force businesses to pay their employees more nor can they prevent corporations from shipping jobs overseas.
Obama had to work with one arm behind his back. For the last 6 years Republicans have controlled Congress and for the last 2 years they have controlled the Senate. One would be hard pressed to think of 1 thing the Republican Party has done for the middle class or the poor in the US. Perhaps Medicaid Part D but then again it wasn’t funded. Republicans are against bills about increasing the minimum wage or equal pay for women. A number of Superior Court seats have been left empty for years because Republicans refuse to accept a Democratic president’s nominees. One of the biggest roadblocks the Republicans have laid out is the refusal to consider a bill where the federal government would invest in the rebuilding of the US infrastructure. One would think that would be a no brainer considering interest rates have never been lower. It would work for the private sector in providing goods and services and employ millions more people for at least a decade, many in areas of the country where good jobs are hard to find.
Obama pulled most of the US troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq. He also had Bin Laden killed, something that George W. Bush became disinterested in doing. The US armed forces no longer have to try to hide body bags coming back to their shores. Gay soldiers no longer have to pretend that they aren’t gay.
Gloom and Doom From Trump And The Republican Party?
When you are a party that insists on always giving the very rich and corporate America more and more tax breaks, even the dumbest American might figure out that this is not helping him or her. Distractions are needed. Fear works. The truth doesn’t matter.
Tell the American public that the Dems want to take their guns away. Say that their religious beliefs are under attack. The abortion issue and being against them (whether they believe it or not) automatically gets most of the votes from the 94 million Evangelicals living in the US.
Blaming minorities for problems in the US works has been a tried and true way of getting the Archie Bunker types on the Republican’s side. Every general election cycle the Republicans bring up voter fraud even though the evidence shows that only 30 or so individuals have been prosecuted for voting more than once out of 1 billion votes cast in the US in the last 10 years.
The way Republican politicians describe America’s current and future fortunes is that the country is totally falling apart. It isn’t. .
Trump Blaming The Media?
Trump and the Republican Party love to blame the “liberal” media for being biased against conservatives. It’s just pure bullshit. Most Americans don’t follow the news on a daily basis and those that do tend to watch NBC, CBS, and ABC nightly news. These 3 networks are generally neutral unless Trump says something absolutely crazy. NBC, CBS, and ABC all have Sunday morning news programs like Meet The Press. If anything. Republicans are more than equally represented on these programs. Arizona Republican Senator John McCain has been on more of these political TV shows than anyone else.
FOX News is 100% biased towards the Republican Party. MSNBC is believed by many to a liberal response to FOX. The 3 liberals on MSNBC are Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, and Lawrence O’Donnell and each has a daily weekday 1 hour program. Morning Joe is a 3 hour morning TV show on MSNBC with Republican Joe Scarborough as the host. Republicans are well represented on Joe’s program. In fact Donald Trump was getting about ½ hour free of daily air time for months on end before he became totally repugnant. Regular Republican panelists on MSNBC include Republicans Michael Steele, Hugh Hewitt, William Kristol, Steve Schmidt, Mike Murphy, and Nicole Wallace. Trump surrogates get daily exposure on MSNC and Trump’s pals Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, and Rudy Gingrich have all made frequent appearances on the cable news network.

CNN historically has been like a training ground for FOX News. Many former CNN on air personalities now work for FOX including Lou Dobbs, Greta Van Susteren, Howard Kurtz, and John Roberts.

Talk radio in the US is almost exclusively controlled by hosts who are dyed in the wool Republicans. Rush Limbaugh, Michael Medved, Hugh Hewitt, and Alex Jones have millions of listeners. It is kind of like a religious following as the same old fears are trotted out on a daily basis justifying the hate of anything remotely liberal. Conspiracy theories are rampant. Not trusting the federal government is a common theme. Being that most of these programs are on in the daytime one might wonder what kind of jobs the listeners have that allows them to listen to the radio while they are working. 

Pretty well every hate group in the US is run by people that vote Republican from clandestine militias to the KKK. The internet is crawling with right wing websites including Breitbart News and The Drudge Report. Right wingers often use Facebook to espouse their political beliefs.
To say the left controls the media is just pure bullshit. Part of being a Republican is to feel like they are victims.
Really Dumb Americans

Americans by and large like to brag about their country. USA! USA! Less than 50% of Americans have passports and most Americans have little interest in any country but their own. They are not a people in general that likes to apologize for anything, Republicans in particular.
-One has to wonder, if Americans are supposedly so very patriotic, why is it that only 57% of them bothered to vote in the 2012 general election? Apparently spending an hour or two once every 4 years to line up and vote is too heavy a burden for them to shoulder. And it isn’t that voters are always restricted to 1 day to vote. They can vote early if they care to in many states.
-Over the years both Jimmy Kimmel and Jay Leno have interviewed people on the street and asked them questions that any high school student should be able to answer and most often they have either the wrong answer or can’t answer at all. One would think they would be embarrassed about being ignorant but they aren’t. For some reason they think it is funny being stupid.
-Most Americans won’t admit that their country has lost wars in Viet Nam. Afghanistan, and Iraq. Commonly they explain the losses as could have, should have, and would have. The irony is some of them say these things while wearing running shoes made in Viet Nam.
-30% of Americans don’t believe in climate change. 53% of Republicans believe it is a hoax. Trump has suggested it is a Chinese plot.
-Americans think that having insurance companies dictate their health care is a natural thing. Most of them don’t realize that they are dealing with a cartel with anti-trust exemption. To many of them, universal healthcare is beyond their comprehension. The fact that universal health care is practiced in every country in the world with a decent economy is not something they are curious about. In a lot of cases in the US, health care insurance eats up 1/3 of peoples’ income.
-For some strange reason many religious Americans believe that their Jesus is mostly concerned about the US and the Deep South in particular, and other countries not so much. The bible’s Jesus was a poor man who walked with the poor and didn’t have old ladies opening envelopes and counting money in church basements. Pastors are living in mansions with 12 bathrooms and flying around in privately owned jets. What would Jesus say? Is he more concerned about people in the wealthiest country in the world or the millions of kids that starve to death in poor countries each year?
-72% of Republicans doubt that Obama was born in the US even though Trump finally admitted he was. Producing his Hawaiian birth certificate and the two birth notices printed in Honolulu newspapers 55 years ago is not enough for them. Most Republicans also believe that Obama has raised their taxes. He hasn’t.
-57% of Republicans believe the Constitution should be dismantled and Christianity be established as the national religion.
-25% of Americans don’t believe in Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.
-Most Republicans believe Obama is a socialist. He isn’t. He hasn’t socialized any American business. Bernie Sanders is a socialist. Obama is centrist Democrat.
-The vast majority of Americans are not capable of finding Iraq or Afghanistan on a map.
-The Kardashians, Honey Boo Boo, Duck Dynasty, and Jerry Springer have been watched by millions of Americans and most watchers are not disturbed about what they see. Dying 5 year old girl’s hair and putting lipstick on their mouths and entering these kids in beauty contests seems normal to millions of Americans.
-More Americans can name 2 of the 7 dwarves than 2 Supreme Court Justices. More Americans can name the 3 Stooges than the 3 branches of government.
-35% of Americans believe being gay is a lifestyle choice.
-30% of Americans don’t know what year 9/11 took place.
-29% of Americans believe that an armed revolt against the federal government makes sense.
The list of “stupid” goes on and on.
The Cowardly Religious Right

The Republican Vice Presidential nominee, Mike Pence, while governor of Indiana spent money on trying to de-gay gay people. When Trump was heard on tape talking about grabbing women’s pussies, Pence said his religion taught him to forgive those that have sinned. Apparently his religious beliefs don’t include forgiving Hillary Clinton or the Democrats for anything he perceives she has done wrong.
The basis of Christianity is the 10 Commandments. One of the stranger things about Christianity is that you can sin, be forgiven, and then go right back to sinning again. It’s like a free pass.
The most powerful religious entity in the US is the Evangelicals with 94 million followers. Pastors in these churches have simply refused to call Trump out on any awful thing he has done. Most likely it is because Trump has said he is against abortion. 10 years ago when Trump was 60 years of age and a registered Democrat he was pro-choice.
About the only commandments Trump hasn’t broken on numerous times is Thou Shalt Not Kill and Honour Thy Mother and Thy father.
The only time anyone has spotted Trump in a church was at his own weddings.
Not only has Trump committed adultery on a number of occasions so have some of his chief advisors including Gingrich and Guiliani.
Thou shalt not steal has not prevented Trump from not paying taxes and stiffing investors and contractors. Not paying people for goods and services they have provided is simply theft.
-Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. Trump lies on a daily business and makes shit up about others that just aren’t factual. Statistics show that Trump has told more lies in his run for president than any other candidate for president in history. Hillary isn’t even close. Its chilling that he has the nerve to call others liars.
-The not coveting stuff. Trump has a long history of displaying jealousies. As a for instance he wasn’t satisfied owning 1 casino in Atlantic City but had to own all of them. The end result was he went into over 3 billion dollars of debt.
-Remember the Sabbath Day. Like most Christians real or fake working on the Sabbath is okey dokey.
-Christians are expected to be charitable. Trump has a charitable foundation with no record of helping any needy group of people. Instead he has used his foundation as a piggy bank.
Not matter what ugly thing that Trump has done in the last 16 months, and there have been plenty of them, the religious right has refused to call him out on anything including the filthy language he uses. Absolute cowards! Would these pastors like their children to talk like Trump or emulate him?

Obama and Hillary Clinton are actually practicing Christians but the religious right wants no part of them. There is something very strange about that.

The Hillary Clinton Hate Club

Hating Hillary Clinton is a fetish for most right wing Republicans. It isn’t as if she says outlandish things or attacks others viciously.  Right wingers love to think that she is scheming woman doing awful things out of sight of the American public.
When Bill Clinton left office in in January of 2001 he had a popularity rate of 55% in spite of his lying to the American public about his numerous affairs. What kept him popular wasn’t that Americans thought his adultery was a good thing but more that the country wasn’t engaged in any major wars and the economy had been booming for a continued length of time. Most Americans thought that Republican prosecutor Kenneth Starr had gone too far in his investigation of Bill Clinton when he got into semen stains and blowjobs.
There was a lot of empathy for Hillary Clinton at the time and she was parachuted into New York State where she was elected junior senator. Like her husband Hillary often worked with Republicans on political issues. 9/11 happened a few years after she was elected and the loss of 3,000 lives in New York City devastated her and her home state. She chose to listen to George W. Bush and his cronies instead of Ambassador Joe Wilson or the Swedish diplomat Hans Blix and his inability to discover WND in Iraq. When Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, a CIA agent, was outed by Bush’s pals, Mrs. Clinton chose to ignore it. It seemed that it was important to her that she didn’t look like an indecisive women when it came to making some country pay the price for attacking the US.
In 2005 the Clintons attended Donald Trump’s 3rd wedding. Trump was a Democrat at the time and in the ensuing years he had a lot of nice things to say about both Clintons that included saying that she did a good job as Secretary of State.
In 2008 she decided to make a run for president and it looked like she had it in the bag. On a broad scale it became whether the Democrats wanted to see a seasoned woman or a younger black man in the White House. The black man won but Hillary sucked it up. She wouldn’t have another shot at the presidency for 8 years.
In 2009 she became Secretary of State at Obama’s request. She left that office in 2013 after serving for 4 years. She had 3 years to prepare for next and last run for president. Both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party were well aware of her goal. There was really good money available for ex-presidents who were willing to give speeches to private groups and corporations and between Hillary and Bill they made over 153 million dollars. It was legal but a bit on the shady side considering they were selling their experience as public servants.
Hillary had been through a lot in her political life and she scared the crap out of the Republicans. They hatched a plot. The Benghazi episode of 2012 where 4 Americans died in the dead of night seemed a good place to start. There would be investigations and hearings about what happened that night that would lead up to laying the deaths at Hillary’s feet. Historically something like Benghazi would have been considered part of “the fog of war”. During Bush’s time as president there had been 13 attacks on American embassies and 60 deaths without 1 single investigation.
The idea was to tie Hillary up for months on end and make her look incompetent. Altogether there were 8 investigations. One might think that Benghazi was right up there with Viet Nam or WW2. Ambassador Stevens’s own sister didn’t hold Hillary at fault. She described her brother as somebody who was infatuated with the Middle East ever since he was a boy and dressed up like Lawrence of Arabia.
Mrs. Clinton wasn’t found guilty of anything including her response to the attack on Benghazi. The 3rd most powerful Republican in Congress, Kevin McCarthy openly admitted the Benghazi Committee was formed to discredit Hillary Clinton.
Because of the Benghazi investigations America became aware that Mrs. Clinton was using a private server for her e-mails. Most Democrats and pretty well all Republicans found this to be sheer arrogance on her part. The facts are that the FBI, the Republican Party, nor the Russians were aware that she was using a private server. It may have been inappropriate and risky but there is no record of her server ever being hacked. In other words no highly confidential material ever got into the wrong hands.
Next up on the Republicans agenda was The Clinton Foundation. There is no record of the Clintons personally profiting from The Clinton Foundation. They made their money from speeches. Some of the sources that they got money for the foundation may be a bit dubious, particularly from foreign dictatorships, but the money all went to good causes. Yes they hired friends to run the foundation but why wouldn’t they want it run by people they trusted?
85% of the funds collected by The Clinton Foundation go directly to people in need throughout the world. It has been enormously effective are here are just some of the things it has accomplished.
-It has provided HIV/AIDS drugs to 11.5 million people in the world.
-Raised 313 million dollars for R&D into new vaccines and medicines.
-Helped provide better maternal and child care to more than 110 million people.
-Provided treatment for more than 36 million people with tropical diseases.
This is only a partial list of the good works the foundation has done.
On the other hand Donald Trump also has a foundation. The last gift he gave to his foundation was $35,000.00 in 2008. There is no record of Trump donating a dime to the 9/11 charities.
There is one group in the US that particularly hates Hillary and that is white men without college degrees. I have a theory of why this is. They probably remember a girl or two in grade school or high school who was an over achiever and seemed like a goody two shoes. They hated the praise the teacher gave the girl(s) and the attention she got. Often the teacher was a woman and that just made it worse. There are still millions of men in America who have a hard time with women being in authority.
To combat their fear of a woman like Hillary they will go to any lengths to bring her down and destroy her. Some fill their Facebook pages with cartoons of her looking like she is totally unhinged. The strange thing is that these same people can get all warm and fuzzy about a baby, a dog, or a cat.  

Dazed And Confused?

The evidence is there. It is often most noticeable in small towns and cities throughout the United States, the abandoned factories with grass growing through the concrete in the once packed parking lots, the boarded up shops with the signage long removed. The busiest business in town now is often the local coffee shop.
There was a time, decades ago, that if going to college wasn’t your thing or not affordable, an American kid out of high school could get a job with a reasonable pay cheque at a local factory or mill. Perhaps even work with his dad.

There are millions of disgruntled blue collar workers across the US. Many feel they have been left behind and they are very angry. They aren’t politicians and weren’t born wealthy. They don’t have any power. It isn’t just the amount of industry that has disappeared in the past 30 years it is the fear of the future. Will they the next to get a pink slip?
They often don’t have many choices. If they are lucky they might be able to get a job working for the city. They may be able to get 10 or 12 bucks an hour at Home Depot. Some of the younger ones leave town and move to a part of the US with a better economy. Other young people in these communities join the armed services almost as a last resort.
Money and the lack of it is the biggest cause of the breakup of marriages. Low paying jobs can affect a person’s self-esteem. There often is profound bitterness and it isn’t just about the availability of decent paying jobs.
The city or town they live in was once almost entirely white. For some time now there have been more visible minorities living in the community. Some are Mexican illegals whose kids are attending local schools. A lot of the illegals will work at labour jobs for very low wages. Usually they are paid under the table in cash and they don’t have taxes taken off of their pay cheques like people with regular jobs do. What are they doing being in the US? They aren’t citizens.
Angry people look for ways to vent and they have found it in talk radio. Mayhem and panic sells. There are lots of right wing radio talk show hosts who are quite willing to fan the flames for a large disgruntled group of people. Blaming the federal government is an easy thing to start with. Racism is another common theme. Sometimes it is masked a bit but the angry mass can recognize the dog whistles. The ideas that religion in the US is under attack or that Dems want to take people’s guns away creates additional fears. Hating Hillary Clinton becomes a passion.
A lot of these people used to be called “rednecks”. They have nothing but distain for anything considered to be intellectual thought. Most of their tastes are quite simple. Beer over wine, Country Music over Hip Hop, NASCAR over Formula 1, jeans and tees over suits, Bar-B-Q over sushi, USA! USA! over humility.
With their fears stoked and being on the bottom rung in terms of personal success, desperation has set in. For some violence is an option. Some have even joined militia groups. It shouldn’t be any surprise that the KKK and other White Supremacists are part this group that wants upheaval instead of the status quo.
So why have they decided to be part of the Republican Party? Because the Republican Party doesn’t care how crazy their followers are as long as they are on their side. The Democratic Party has their progressive base that wants to make America more equitable but they have zero toleration for racists, homophobes, or misogynists.

Dispelling The Beliefs Of The Trump Morons

Make America Great Again?
Just what does this mean? What time in America’s history is better than now? Was it The Great Depression years? Was it the 2nd Word War Years when thousands of American soldiers were killed and rationing was a part of how Americans lived? Was it the 1950s when American kids were taught to hide under their school desks if the Russians dropped a bomb or when Jim Crow laws were still in effect in the US South? Was it the Viet Nam years when 50,000 American soldiers lost their lives? Maybe Trump is talking about the Bill Clinton years when the economy was sound, the debt reduced, and most American soldiers remained within the US?
Illegal Immigrants?
Most Americans would agree that foreigners should not be able to enter the US illegally. It is pretty obvious why there are 11 million and more illegal Mexicans in the US. Even the low wages there are paid in the US, usually under the table, are far more money than they could ever make back home. Mexicans will often do work like picking crops that most Americans would never even consider.
Trump has been all over the place on illegal immigrants over the last several years including stating that he didn’t want to break up families. He opened his campaign by saying Mexico was sending rapists to the US. It was red meat for the rednecks and they ate it up.
Trump’s own wife, Melania, worked illegally in the US before getting her papers. Hundreds of illegal Polish immigrants worked on demolishing the old building that stood where Trump Tower now stands. They were easily identifiable because they didn’t wear hard hats. They worked 12 hour shifts and were paid so purely that many of them lived on the site. Trump’s resort in Florida, Mar-a-lago, has hired hundreds of foreign workers.
Virtually no American business is in any jeopardy if they hire illegal immigrants. 11 million of them aren’t sitting around twiddling their fingers. They work on construction sites, hotels, anywhere that will use them for low cost labour. If they get injured on the job they are out of luck as far as coverage goes. They end up in the emergency rooms of hospitals and taxpayers pick up the tab.
Over 600.000 employers in the US use e-verify when hiring new employees. Many employers want to know if applicants have criminal records. E-verify could be made mandatory and the authorities could be notified if an illegal immigrant applies for a job but the Republican run congress refuses to discuss the matter or making it a criminal offense to knowingly hire illegal immigrants.
Republicans have a long history of wanting low taxes for businesses and they and others have no problem with not collecting taxes on illegal’s pay cheques. Let someone else pay is the meme.
Many illegals that pick fruit and vegetables are only needed at particular times of the year. Stricter laws could require them to go back to Mexico when they are not needed. Enforcing a law like this would mean that these workers would not be able to bring their families to the US but they could still send money home improving their family’s lives.
The Wall?
A wall works in Israel but it is a small country. Most illegal Mexican immigrants don’t come to the US by sneaking across barren country in the middle of the night. They simply drive across the border or come to the US under the guise of being tourists. There are about 350 million Mexican border crossings yearly. Trump says that Mexico will pay for the wall and that it will be “huge”. It’s just bullshit. If the wall was 12 feet underground, tunnels 15 feet underground would be constructed.
American Jobs Going To Other Countries?
Maybe Trump’s followers don’t know what the Republican Party they are voting for stands for? The Republican Party has always been on the side of Corporate America and the very wealthy. Corporate America has a long history of not caring about the American worker. Years ago the big US car company’s used to hire people to beat up workers if they went on strike. Mine owners never cared if coal miners got black lung. 100 years ago it was common to find 12 year olds working in mines.
The last Republican to run for president, Mitt Romney, owned a business called Bain Capital. One of the company’s frequent practices was to buy businesses in financial difficulty, sell off the assets, fire workers who had been with the company for years, and ship the jobs and equipment overseas where they could pay the workers lower wages.
Hewlett Packard has call centers all over the world, including India, that service their US customers. Apple i-phones are all made in foreign countries. These are just a couple of examples. Corporate America could give a rat’s ass what happens to people who lose their jobs.

A US owned air conditioner manufacturer named Carrier had 56 billion dollars in revenue in 2015. They are very profitable but decided that they weren’t profitable enough and laid off most of their American workers and shipped the jobs to Mexico.

Trump says he would stop this kind of thing if he becomes president. A president doesn’t have the ability on his own to change how corporations run their businesses. It would be very unlikely if Trump became president that he could get congress to change the rules. They have been bought and paid for by corporate lobbyists.
Trump is also a terrible example of keeping jobs in the US. Some of his buildings have been built with Chinese steel. His clothing line is manufactured in China, Honduras, Viet Nam and India. Most of his furniture line is produced in Turkey.
What is a bit confusing is that Trump’s followers blame the federal government and the Democrats instead of the real culprits. The federal government can’t dictate how a corporation runs its business.
Those deserted factories that dot the American landscape and the boarded up shops on Main Street didn’t happen overnight. It goes back 30 years ago and longer. The local hardware store has been replaced by a Home Depot or a Lowes. The neighbourhood drugstore has been replaced by the Walgreen’s chain. The local coffee shop has been replaced by Starbucks. The local grocery store has been replaced by Costco. The local clothing store has been replaced by Wal-Mart.
NAFTA has often been cited as one of the main reasons many blue collar jobs have been lost in the US over the past 20 years. It is estimated that close to 1 million jobs were lost and most of them went to Mexico. Bill Clinton signed NAFTA into law but most of the votes to get the bill passed came from Republicans in Congress. Democrats voted against it 156 to 102. Republicans voted for it 132 to 43. In the Senate Democrats voted for it 27 to 26 and Republicans voted for it 34 to 12.

Wages have been driven down. Wealth has shifted dramatically. In the last 30 years the middle class has lost 30% of its wealth. The 400 richest Americans have more wealth than 61% of the rest of Americans combined. In some ways it is like living in the 1930s again when working people were in distress and went to the movies and saw rich people in tuxedos and furs being driven around in limousines. Things today are not nearly as bad as the Great Depression but millions watch the Kardashians and the Real Housewives of whatever city and some wonder just what value there is in people being so rich that all they seem to do is quarrel with one another about petty things while contributing nothing to society.
Some people like to say that anything is possible in America. A person can sometimes rise from nothing and become very rich. The question that needs to be asked is how rich is enough? Is having endless riches for a few more important than the quality of most American’s lives? It should be in country where people care about one another but sadly it often isn’t.
 The Dems Want To Take Away American’s Guns?

This is more pure bullshit by Republicans and Trump. The Democratic Party has never talked about taking people’s guns away even though there are a lot of people who have guns that shouldn’t. What the Dems have talked about is having guns registered so when the police go to a house on a domestic dispute that they know somewhat what they are dealing with. The Dems are also against guns being sold on-line or from a car trunk without the buyer and seller having to fill out a form identifying the parties in the transaction and a background check being made.
Most Democratic politicians are also against the sale of high powered rifles with large clips that hold up to 100 bullets. These are the guns that have been used in mass shootings including at grade schools and high schools all over the US. You don’t use a rifle like this to shoot wild animals. Who has ever heard of a home owner defending himself from a home invasion by firing off 100 shots in a few short minutes? It just doesn’t happen. 
American’s Religious Beliefs are Under Attack?
This is just more Republican bullshit. Church leaders still have carte blanche to bilk their followers while being tax exempt.


Trump has spoken about how an unborn baby of almost 9 months can be ripped out of a woman’s womb. Less than 1% of abortions happen in the last trimester and they occur either because the life of the mother is in jeopardy or because the baby has problems that wouldn’t see it live very long or it is missing things that are needed to sustain a normal life. Women should have the right to control their own bodies.

Trump told MSNC’s Chris Mathews that he thought women who have abortions should be punished.
Trump Speaks His Mind and Identifies With Struggling Americans?

The only person Donald Trump identifies with is himself and his enormous ego. Living in an apartment filled with European art and French period furniture is not something most Americans can identify with. There is nothing in Trump’s home that reflects America. Average Joes and Jills don’t have their own bullshit made up family crest either. They also weren’t born with silver spoons in their mouths as he was.

The average working stiff hasn’t declared bankruptcy 6 times or written off a 920 million dollar business loss in one year. If the average working stiff went bankrupt they would find a bailiff’s notice on their house and a tow truck in their driveway within days.
Working American pay taxes but Trump with high priced lawyers and accountants has avoided paying millions in taxes. Many American families have relatives who have served in the US military. Nobody in Trump’s family, past or present, has. The average American doesn’t eat pizza with a fork either. What working stiff wears a suit with a baseball cap?
Where was Trump all those years in helping out the little guy? He left many small contractors high and dry and didn’t pay some a dime. Some of the ones he did pay did not receive all they were owed. Trump’s one concern all of his adult life is getting as much wealth as he could.
The real reason he has run for president is that he can’t get enough attention. At 70 years of age he can’t chase women any more. He’s a jowly old fart now. Could anyone imagine him being locked to the White House for the next 4 years?
The average American doesn’t belong to private golf course or spend their time with billionaires and famous people either.
But this is the guy who is going to lead struggling Americans to a bright future? I don’t think so.
Trump has promised to kill Obamacare on day 1 if he is elected. His party agrees with him. They promise to replace it with something much better. In 6 years they haven’t been able to describe what it is they are offering other than saying there would be more competition. Maybe they don’t know that there really only 6 major health care insurers in the US and that it is a cartel with anti-trust exemption. No other American business other than professional baseball has anti-trust exemption. They don’t compete. They just divide things up. The biggest Us healthcare insurance company has 75 million customers. They aren’t too worried about competition.
World Affairs?

Trump says he knows more about how to deal with ISIS than US generals. He has figured all this out by watching his big screen TV. Trump has suggested that it might be a good idea that Japan, South Korea, and even Saudi Arabia have nuclear arms. He has threatened to back out of NATO. He scares the crap out of America’s allies. Over and over he has proven that he really doesn’t know much about the world other than where some really nice golf courses are.
In the last few weeks he has mocked the American generals for announcing in advance that the Iraqi city of Mosul would be under siege. He can’t believe that the US military would do this. The fact is that Mosul sits on a flat plain and it would be impossible to hide 30,000 Iraqi troops. Many Iraqis are hostages in Mosul so it isn’t a bad idea that they are prepared for an invasion. Maybe some of them can hide somewhere until it is safe to come out?
He faults Hillary Clinton for the US attacking Libya even though he once wanted to bomb the crap out of the country.
Trump changes his mind on foreign affairs and domestic affairs as a regular pattern. It doesn’t make that much difference when he doesn’t have any power but if he did he could start a war with just a few of his crazy twitters.
Remembering What Trump Has Said In The Last 16 Months
Trying to document the crazy things Trump has said in the past 16 months is a daunting task. It would take up pages and pages here just listing those he has insulted. Here are just a few of the high-lights….





Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Manzanita, Oregon And Nehalem Bay State Park

Manzanita, Oregon is about 85 miles west of Portland on the Pacific coast. It is a small town with a population of about 750 people.  A 5 minute drive away or 45 minute walk away (along the beach) is Nehalem Bay State Park. Manzanita is just off Highway 101, a road that many, including me, consider to be the most beautiful highway in the US. Nehalem Bay State Park is about a 10 minute drive from the 101. Up the road about 14 miles is the town of Cannon Beach with its toney restaurants and beachfront hotels. Haystack Rock which is about 240 tall, sits on the edge of the beach at Cannon Beach.

I’ve been down to Oregon about 10 times now. The first time was back in 1968. For a number of years I’ve wanted to spend a week or so in either Manzanita or a campground close by. Last fall, on our way back from The Grand Canyon, we discovered Nehalem State Park and we made a reservation earlier this past summer for 7 days of camping from September 10th to September 17th.
Years ago I made it down to Oregon from Vancouver, BC in 9 hours. This time we left Vancouver Island, where we live, at about 10:30 a.m. The ferry ride added on 2 hours. There was a bit of line-up at the US border and traffic slowed to a crawl north of Seattle. Our plan was to find a motel in Olympia, Washington (the state capital), get a good night’s sleep, and stock up on some provisions the following morning at Costco. We ended up staying in Tumwater, Washington right next to Olympia where Olympia beer used to be brewed.
I spent a night at a truck stop in Tumwater 48 years ago back in 1968 when I hitchhiked across the US that year. I must have had 15 coffees that night and wasn’t feeling that well when the sun rose the following morning. My guess is that truck stop probably doesn’t exist anymore. Who knows? I wasn’t about to go looking for it.
On our way through Seattle we passed by the old Rainier Beer brewery. Mickey Rooney used to do commercials for Rainier beer back in the 70s. Rainier and Olympia were both bought out by other breweries some time ago and are no longer marketed.
The trunk of our car was packed with camping gear and other stuff and we had a big cooler in the back seat. The other half of the back seat was reserved for our golden retriever, Shelby. The back window on his side was often open so he could stick his head out and do that cheek flapping thing that dogs like to do.

Our general plan once we got to Nehalem Bay State Park was to not have a plan at all. We would just wing it mostly, deciding what we wanted to do shortly after we woke up each day.
We arrived at the campground at about 2 p.m. and Linda set up the tents while I took Shelby down to the beach for a spin. We brought 2 two person tents and Linda shared hers with Shelby. I gave a bigger tent I had away to a charity a number of years ago thinking my camping days were over. They aren’t apparently and for some reason I like doing it again.

Artist at work.
Linda and I both have fairly decent cameras and we like taking pictures. Linda is quite comfortable reading a book on the beach while I am more inclined to just sit and drink in the surroundings. While we were away Linda also did some sketching. She has done a fair amount of painting in the last few years and several of them are now in a gallery near our home.
Nehalem Bay State Park

Overhead view of 4 miles of beach.
In some ways the campground is a bit of a secret. It isn’t one of those places you can see from the 101 Highway. My guess is that about half the campers were from British Columbia. Some have been going to the park for years.
The park and the beach are separated by sand dunes and the beach area is about 4 miles long. At the far end of the beach there are horse rental places and horses on a beach are a Kodak moment if there ever was one.

Sand Dunes.
At the end of the sand spit is the mouth of Nehalem River where fishing for salmon is popular in the month of September. There are lots of trails around the camp including one that leads to the river where the small town of Wheeler can be seen across the water.

Wheeler, Oregon

Nehalem River.
Salmon fishing.
People turn up at the park with a variety of shelters including every kind of tent one can think of. Some come with their expensive motor homes or long trailers. A few have remodeled old school buses. Each site has a fresh water tap and an electrical outlet. The washroom area also has showers. Every night one of the camp workers drives around the campground in a golf cart with firewood for sale. It seems to me that some kind of unwritten deal had been made by those who sell firewood. A bundle always costs 5 bucks in or out of the park and nobody was selling a bundle for $4.75 or two bundles for 9 bucks.

The Beach At Night

Shelby Steals The Show
There is something about golden retrievers. Small kids like them. Older people like them. I think it is because of their appearance and demeanor. People seem to know that this breed of dog will not harm them. (Kudos to all of those kind folks who have rescued dogs from animal shelters.)
During the week that we were camping Shelby was patted by complete strangers well over a hundred times. Possibly even 200 times. If I took him for a walk through the campground some people would say hello to him by name. One older couple came over just to see him. When we were in Manzanita a guy in his car rolled down his window and yelled “You have a gorgeous looking dog!”

Cannon Beach
Dogs have to be on leash in the campground and there was no shortage of them. I’m not a big fan of small yappy dogs or cats too for that matter. One older couple told me about their cat taking off after opening their trailer door and that they hadn’t seen it in days and had basically given up hope. Small dogs seem to be a prerequisite in owning a motor home. There were a few times that I was a bit embarrassed when someone who was walking their own dog would come over and pat Shelby. I wondered if their dog appreciated them giving another dog that much attention.

At our campsite we would tie Shelby’s leash to several yards of nylon rope allowing him to get within a few feet of the single lane service road. This allowed Shelby to be the unofficial greeter.

 Dogs are free to roam the beach area off leash. A few were kept on leash because they had surly dispositions. It’s hard to say whether Shelby is more of a people animal or a dog animal. He likes everyone. He tends to want to play with dogs his own size. Often he would run ahead of us on the beach and greet people walking or relaxing on the sand taking in some rays. There was just one time that his exuberance was rejected. A jogger got a bit annoyed with him. I hope he got his Zen moments back.

At one point we had a young couple with 2 year olds camped on either side of our site and both kids gave Shelby a number of hugs.
I took Shelby down to the beach 4 times the first day. That night he started licking one of his front paws and for the next few days he was hesitant about walking on the hot sand. We made a point of getting to the cooler sand by the ocean’s edge as quickly as possible. A few days later he had his mojo back.
After a while it can get a bit tiresome having a “rock star” dog. I appreciate the fact that strangers cottoned to Shelby but there are only so many dog stories I can listen to.
Camp Chatter
There is kind of a golden rule for Canadians travelling in the US these days. Never discuss politics with Americans unless you are 100% sure that their beliefs concur with yours. Right wing Americans can get pretty hostile very quickly if they think you are a “lefty”.
The first couple we met had a motorhome directly across from our campsite. They spent a lot of time reading in their lounge chairs while taking in the sun. The husband is a retired police detective from Victoria, BC. (I’ve never cared much for cops.) My conversation with the ex-cop was going along fine until I mentioned that I really liked travelling in the US but it still was America. He took that comment as a political statement and told me not to go there. I realized that I was talking to a conservative Canadian who is in the Trump camp. After that I just nodded when I saw them.
A few days later I was talking to 3 younger people and commented that I thought it was interesting that someone travelling around in a 125 grand motorhome along with a 50 grand car would think the US was on its way to ruin. Belonging to a police union and getting a hefty pension is kind of a socialist thing, isn’t it?
I talked to an Australian born guy with a leather cowboy hat several times. He has lived in the US for around 20 years and is a carpenter by trade. He was travelling in a VW pop up van along with his wife and 3 boys. The boys are home schooled and the dad seemed to be somewhat overly attentive and kind of smothering. He told me that he and his boys have surfed up and down the US west coast. He also told me that they didn’t have a couch, never mind a TV, at their home in Portland. He did allow his boys to read surfing magazines.
Another interesting guy we met was travelling in an old converted school bus with murals on it. He built his own slide out extension on his bus. We talked about folk music for a while. (I’m currently working on a story about folk music.) He told me about his search for the perfect Martin guitar and how he had been to the Appalachian Mountains several times to get to the roots of American folk music. He has a lot of knowledge but unfortunately he was kind of speedy and hardly stopped to breathe while he was talking. Our conversation was mostly one way.
I’ve never been shy about starting a conversation with complete strangers. I’m a curious kind of guy. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. The best conversations are those that are shared without one person trying to dominate. Socializing shouldn’t be a pissing contest.
There is something a bit weird about staying at a campsite for a week. Sometimes a neighbour would disappear while we were sleeping or at the beach and we would discover that we had new neighbours. There’s a lot of coming and going in a campground.
For a few days we had young couples, each with small children, camped on either side of us. One of the couples was from Abbotsford, BC. I asked the husband what he did for a living and he told me he did some framing on construction sites and worked at his dad’s farm. I asked what kind of farm his dad had and he said “a pigeon farm”. The pigeons are “squabs” (usually eaten at around 4 weeks of age) and apparently very popular at Chinese restaurants in the Vancouver area.
We got to know a couple from Wenatchee, Washington over a few days, Ken and Debbie. Wenatchee is the middle of Washington State, a tree fruit and farming area that is mostly conservative politically. We tried to stay in the Wenatchee area last fall on our way to The Grand Canyon but the motel rooms were all booked because of a Foo Fighters concert nearby.
Ken has just retired in the past year or so and Debbie is about a year away from doing the same. They were travelling in a pick-up truck pulling a fair sized trailer. Ken and I got into a conversation after he came over to dump some coffee in a waste water thingamajig that was on the edge of our campsite and said hello to our dog.

We chatted for about an hour and Ken had some really good stories to tell. He grew up in New Jersey and after serving in Viet Nam he decided to travel around the US. He bought a couple of big horses in Vermont and did some winter log hauling one year. He also drove from Vermont down to Key West, Florida with a truckload of Christmas trees. Somehow he ended up in Idaho with some Aryan Nations types as neighbours. If I remember correctly he had lined up a job in Alaska and the company that was going to hire him sent him a plane ticket. He was reading a Farmer’s Almanac and became intrigued about the small city of Wenatchee, Washington. At the last minute he changed his mind about going to Alaska and moved to Wenatchee about 40 years ago, got married. And has lived there ever since.
I talked to Ken again the following day and the stories kept on coming. I love good stories. I suggested that the 4 of us share a campfire that night. He told us how he and his wife had eaten at a seafood joint a few days earlier that they liked in the town of Rockaway Beach and had gathered coloured rocks on the beach at the town of Oceanside after walking through a 75 foot tunnel. Both Rockaway Beach and Oceanside are south of Manzanita. After seeing their rock collection Linda thought it might be a fun thing to do.

Ken, Debbie & friend at Oceanside Beach


The next morning I knocked on Ken and Debbie’s trailer door and asked them if they would be interested in showing us where the seafood joint was and that I would like to buy them lunch. After lunch we would then head on down to Oceanside. They were up for it. Linda and I had the clam strips for lunch and Ken and Debbie settled on a couple of bowls of clam chowder. We travelled in separate vehicles with us following them. Ken asked me why Linda was driving and not me. We take turns depending on who is more up for it.
It’s a good thing that we followed them too because we would never have found the rock picking place. Rock picking isn’t my kind of thing and the other 3 started searching while I assumed the pose of lying down with one leg resting on a knee. I’ve had my picture taken many times in many places in this pose. 
On the drive back to camp we stopped at a meat smoking place. They sold 2 feet long pepperoni sticks for a buck each and they came in a variety of flavours. Ken and Debbie seem to know where to find good deals.

Ken’s politics are to the right and mine are to the left but we never got deep in the weeds about it which was kind of nice. Ken said he was thinking of voting for Gary Johnson and The American Libertarian Party.
We said our goodbyes that night as Ken and Debbie would be leaving in the morning. The pulled out of the park at about 9:00 a.m. Nice couple. Our stay at the State park would be 2 more days.
Best Laid Plans?
There were 2 things that I wanted to do on the trip that just never happened but I wasn’t at all disappointed. One was kayaking on the Nehalem River. We left our own kayaks at home and were going to rent a couple. We drove over to the town of Wheeler on the other side of the river and found a kayak rental place. An old guy was in charge of the place and he pulled out his tidal tables and told us the best time of day to be with the current instead of against it. There was just one problem. We needed to find some place or someone who would take care of our dog while we were kayaking. We checked at a few pet shops in Cannon Beach but couldn’t find anyone who had a pet sitting service. I couldn’t see asking strangers to mind Shelby so we just scratched the plan altogether. We do a fair amount of kayaking on Vancouver Island so it isn’t like we totally missed the boat (so to speak).

Kayak rental place, Wheeler, Oregon
The other thing I kind of wanted to do but didn’t was walk along the beach to Manzanita and have a few evening cocktails with the locals at a pub. By the end of each day we were a bit bagged from the sun and an hour and a half of walking along the beach at night didn’t seem that appealing. I’m kind of a night owl but while we were camping I was in my sleeping bag by 9:00 p.m. almost every night.
Other Stuff We Did
On other trips down to the Oregon coast I had noticed places off the highway where they cooked live crab and other seafood. We checked a few of these places out one day before deciding which place we wanted to eat at. The people who do the cooking are mostly in their twenties, kind of counter culture types and a bit loosey goosey. At another time they might be considered to be hippies. Our cook had his hair in a bun.

Mouth of Nehalem River

The live crabs are kept in very cold water in a cold locker. Our cook pointed out that the water is so cold it puts the crabs to sleep and they have no desire to use their pincher claws. A 1-3/4 lb. crab sells for about 20 bucks. Linda and I started off with 1 crab and 4 fair sized oysters. The crab and oysters were put in the same sack before being dumped in a boiling caldron. They were ready to eat in about 15 minutes.
The eating is done from picnic tables that are pretty weather beaten and eating utensils are not needed. It’s all hand to mouth. We ordered a second crab and two more oysters and polished off a bottle of wine we had brought with us. We were told to just throw the shells in the ocean once we had finished eating, which we did.
We spent part of one day at Cannon Beach. I found a take-out crepe place that served the crepes up in cardboard cone shaped things. Cannon Beach is one of the more upscale towns on the Oregon coast. A few years ago Linda and I had a pancake breakfast at a legion in Cannon Beach. 30 years ago my ex-wife and I rented a waterfront suite there with a fireplace in the living room and the bedroom. We also saw the play Arsenic and Old Lace and I remember buying a music cassette of Japanese bells at a bookstore. Japanese bells, what was I thinking?

Cannon Beach

We went into Manzanita a few times. There isn’t much there. On the main street there is a pizza joint, a Mexican restaurant, a grocery store, a pub, a few other restaurants including a deli style place, a hair salon in a former garage, a candy store, an ice cream and fudge store, a real estate office, and an information center that isn’t open every day.

Someone else using "Left Coast"?

There are a few more stores a few blocks away by the 101 Highway including another grocery store, another restaurant, and a place that made homemade pies that was never open the 3 times I checked it out. To be fair there is no sign in their window saying “Fresh Pies”.
Oregon Coast Cannibis

Pot is legal in Oregon State. There is a cannabis store about a block away from the pie place on Highway 101 in Manzanita. Apparently it the only pot store in the general area including Cannon Beach. There is a roofed patio outside with chairs and ash trays but I didn’t see anyone toking up there.
You have to show ID to get into the place and once they have checked you out you are buzzed in. One area is where all the edibles are available including candy, cookies. brownies, and ice cream. The other section offers a variety of weed. I only wanted to purchase a single joint and the guy behind the counter asked me what kind of pot I wanted. I was good with “mellow” and bought a joint of something called Blueberry Kush. I also bought a souvenir ashtray and Linda bought 3 little glass containers with the Oregon Coast Cannabis logo to give to people back home who shall remain unnamed.
The pot store only accepts cash but they do have an interact machine on site. From what I understand there are a couple of reasons for the “cash only”. Cash is anonymous whereas a credit card can be traced. Pot isn’t federally legal in the US and banks won’t accept credit card billing for purchases of pot.
All in all I thought it was a tidy well run operation, one that I would like to see emulated in Canada. One thing that I would like to see in Canada when the Liberal government finally gets around to truly legalizing pot is that corporations don’t take over the business. I would like to see each store run independently.

Back in camp we ran into a woman RCMP cop from Surrey, BC and I offered to show her the joint I had bought and the thin plastic case it came in but she wasn't interested in seeing it. Yeah I'm a bit of a shit disturber. Did I mention that I'm not a big fan of most cops? Yes I believe I did.
The End Of Our Trip
We walked from the campground along the beach to Manzanita and back on our last day. We had an ice cream and checked out the local pub which had a fair sized patio out back. A sign said “Maximum 3 Dogs At One Time” out on the patio. We lucked out as far as the weather went. Each day was sunny until the Saturday that we left.

We woke up to pouring rain. Fortunately we had packed everything except our sleeping bags and tents in the car the night before.
We drove through Portland and up the I-5 Interstate highway. I bought some clothes at a factory outlet place and we spent the night at a motel about 15 miles south of Bellingham, Washington. In the morning we spent a few hours at the Bellis Fair shopping mall and did some more shopping. We only had a short wait at the border and managed to get on the 3:15 p.m. ferry back to Nanaimo.

It was a good trip and I’ll always want to keep going back to Oregon.
Linda is off to Spain, Portugal, and Morocco at the end of October for a month.
Next September we plan on visiting the Maritime provinces in Canada.