Your Right to Work for Less!

As a right-to-work law appears inevitable, Missouri AFL-CIO turns to voters

By Celeste Bott St Louis Post-Dispatch

JEFFERSON CITY • As GOP lawmakers and an incoming governor vow to make Missouri the 27th right-to-work-state, Missouri AFL-CIO President Mike Louis has filed several versions of an initiative petition that would amend the state constitution to protect union negotiating rights.

A right-to-work law, which would limit the ability of labor unions to collect dues from members, has been a longtime priority for Republican legislators who found a continual roadblock in Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.

But while Nixon has used his veto pen to block the right-to-work legislation in the past, on the grounds that it’s anti-worker, Gov.-elect Eric Greitens has promised to sign it.

In the weeks leading up to their return to Jefferson City in January, leaders of the Legislature’s GOP super-majorities said it’s the top task in their pro-business 2017 agenda, and several lawmakers have already filed right-to-work proposals.

 

The push was largely financed by David Humphreys, a Joplin roofing company magnate who spent millions on candidates who support labor reform, including Greitens.

Louis’ petition for the 2018 ballot would essentially reverse any right-to-work law passed during the upcoming session by giving employers and employees the “unalienable” right to negotiate contracts that would require workers to pay fees covering the costs of union representation.

 “That employees shall have the right to organize and to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing,” it reads. “No law or ordinance shall restrict or impair an agreement which requires employees to support their chosen collective bargaining representative.”

In a statement, Louis said such negotiations were essential to ensuring fair wages, good benefits and safe working conditions.

“We do not need the puppets of David Humphreys or any other corporate billionaire to pass laws to interfere with a process that has long made Missouri a great place to have a business and a great place to work,” Louis said.

The initiative petition process has become an increasingly popular way for Missouri activists, particularly Democrats, to push agenda items that wouldn’t be palatable to the GOP-led Legislature. Recently, that’s included efforts to raise the tax on cigarettes, limit campaign contributions and legalize medical marijuana.

But it’s a difficult and arduous process to get a referendum on the ballot, one that requires approval of the secretary of state and attorney general, analysis of fiscal impact by the state auditor, and a certain number of signatures from registered voters.

 

Response, December 14, 2016,   John Hanno, www.tarbabys.com

A big thank you to outgoing Democratic Governor Jay Nixon for consistently standing up for workers. With a Republican Governor and both houses of the Missouri legislature controlled by Republi-cons, the courageous minority Democrats will have their work cut out for them.

The simple fact is, right to work means right to work for less. Sure, you can depress wages for your fellow workers and neighbors and it might benefit your own cost of living a bit; but eventually it will come back to harm all workers. Sure, we can all work for peanuts and all that crap coming from 3rd world countries will be cheap. You can buy all the crap you want, crap that will end up in garage sales 6 months from now but what is that doing to your community? What the hell is that doing to our environment?

We now have a contracted manufacturing sector; lost 60,000 or so manufacturers. 71% of our economy is now dependent on retail. More and more folks are just barely getting by. 75% of American’s are one paycheck away from bankruptcy. Adult children are still living in their parents basements well into their 30’s because they’re hobbled with a 30 year mortgage of student debt. They can’t get a living wage job that will allow them to prosper and pay off debt. There’s now more student debt than consumer debt. These young people can’t get married or buy a home. They can’t even pay rent or support themselves without a living wage.

And the dimwit Republi-cons wonder why the economy is growing at such a slow rate. Dah! Old farts like myself don’t buy anything except gasoline and food. We already have everything we need. Is it any wonder why erstwhile great companies like Sears Roebuck are going bankrupt?

I worked for almost 50 years for a dozen different unions at successful fortune 50, 100 and 200 companies. All my jobs paid living wages. I made $20 an hour as an industrial electrician/electronic technician in 1989, almost 30 years ago. Now thanks to the Republi-cons decades long war on workers and the middle class, started by Regan, those same jobs now pay $13 or $14 per hour. And they wonder why no one will take those dangerous crap jobs. I can work under the table for $45 per hour. But how does that improve our economy. I don’t pay taxes.

Republi-cons just don’t understand the concept of community, of working together to benefit all Americans, not just themselves or the super rich oligarchs like the Koch brothers, who sponsor anti-worker right to work laws. How much money is enough for them? Like Ted Kennedy said, “Where is the limit to their greed?”

Missouri will soon follow Wisconsin, Indiana and other red states in the race to the bottom. No, matter how much workers offer to give up to the employers (like the steel union tried with Carrier in Indiana), it’s never enough. Carrier said they would have to work for $5 an hour, lower even than the federal minimum wage. Even with the $7 million payoff Indiana Gov. Pense gave Carrier, they’ll move the rest of the jobs to Mexico within a couple of years.

After all the unions and collective bargaining are gone, good luck sitting down with the company lawyers and asking for a raise by yourself. Keep fooling yourselves; let yourselves be bamboozled by the evil plutocrats. But if you have any sense, you’ll support progressive Democrats and Independents who place workers rights ahead of more money for the likes of Drumph. John Hanno

The Republi-cons May Soon Be in Charge

December 10, 2016, John Hanno  www.tarbabys.com

My Comment on Joy Ann Reid’s, “Hey White Working Class, Donald Trump is Already Screwing You Over”

Joy, no one could have said it better! But I would like to add…

“The Republi-cons May Soon be in Charge.”

Maybe it’s actually a good thing that these Republi-cons may soon take over the White House and both houses of Congress. They’ve demonized President Obama ever since the congressional leaders met on the eve of his inauguration, where they hatched the conspiracy to obstruct his administration at every turn, just so that he would be a one term president. They couldn’t care less if America’s middle class and working poor perished along the way. Even though the President and the Democrat controlled congress reeled our economy back from the abyss, after the previous Republican administration, as usual, plunged the  economy into a deep recession, there was never a single word of praise. If President Obama would have cured cancer, these Republi-cons would have blamed him for reducing employment in the medical field and for grand standing.

But now, they’ll have no one to blame but themselves, if they finally succeed in their decades long campaign to dismantle programs created during FDR’s New Deal and the Johnson Administration’s Great Society. That includes turning the Social Security trust fund over to the banksters and Wall Street, privatizing Medicare, block granting Medicaid and ending any scrap of common sense governmental regulation.

They’ve been bashing Obamacare for 6 years, spending $10’s of millions attempting to repeal the ACA more than 60 times. They say they’ll repeal and replace it on day one, but still, after all this time, they have no credible alternative. Their idea of a health care plan, is as always, dictated by and aligned with the insurance industry and big pharma. If they succeed in repealing Obamacare, hospitals throughout the nation are already predicting total chaos and financial collapse.

What people who voted for Trump can’t understand is that the Republi-cons couldn’t care less about their rising insurance premiums. If they were, they would have jumped at the chance to expand federally paid Medicaid in the red states controlled by Republi-con governors and legislatures. And they wouldn’t have voted against the ACA public option. They could have partnered with the President and Democrats to find ways to improve the ACA instead of trying to cripple it, but obstructing any success for the Obama Administration was more important than fashioning a modern health care system or addressing the number one cause of America’s deficits. They know that if Obamacare hadn’t been implemented, premiums would be even higher than they are now. Under Obamacare, insurance companies can only take 15% of premiums for administration and profits, unlike the 30% average they enjoyed before the ACA was passed. Any excess premiums have to be returned. And Medicare has lower administrative costs than pre-ACA plans. So if  Obamacare is repealed and the Trump supporters policies are canceled or premiums skyrocket for crappier plans, they can’t blame the Democrats.

But the real reason these Republi-cons and their corporate benefactors hate the ACA, is that folks who signed up, especially those with pre-existing conditions, now have the freedom to quit the crappy jobs they were hanging onto just for the insurance. Because of the much better quality Obamacare plans, with lower deductibles and the generous subsidies for lower income folks, 10’s of millions of older workers not yet eligible for Medicare, jumped at the windfall and have either left the workforce, found better, higher paying jobs or even started a business. That’s now why virtually 100% of small and medium size businesses are desperately looking for workers and why the employment participation rate is so low. These employers may soon have to start paying workers a living wage unless they can get the Republi-cons to repeal Obamacare. That’s also why they will try to privatize Medicare.

Anything Trump and the Republi-cons replace the ACA with, will be either much worse, or a clone of Obamacare with a different name attached. But anyone with half a brain knows that the only sensible alternative or improvement, is Obamacare with a public option or a true single payer health care system. These Republi-cons will do the bidding of employers that want total control of their employees; that want workers who have no choices, who are so desperate for health insurance that they will be forced to hold onto those crappy low paying jobs.

Maybe when these incompetents finally muck up our governing institutions, our health care system, our departments of housing, education, labor, agriculture, environment, Veterans Administration, and then drive the economy into a ditch again, we can only hope that bamboozled voters may actually start paying attention to the facts and ignore the fake news stories propagated by the diabolical far right and their Russian handlers. Unfortunately, folks who disseminate these conspiracy theories and fake news seem extremely proud and unapologetic. And if you point out that these are insane stories not supported by any facts, it just seems to have no effect on the gullible.

If you took a poll about the merits of the 2016 Democrats platform, I would guess that the lower 90% of American wage earners would overwhelmingly approve of each issue. And the top 10% of wage earners would overwhelmingly approve of most of the issues in the Republican platform.

Trump is heading into office with the lowest (41%) approval rating of any president in many decades. Vice President elect Pence has only a 39% approval rating. Less than 40% approve of Trumps cabinet choices. Only 45% believe he can handle an international crisis, only 44% think he will use the military wisely and only 44% think he will avoid a major scandal. George Bush entered office with a 70% approval rating on all these issues. Trump is personally viewed favorably by only 37% of Americans, only 41% view him as honest, only 37% see him as well qualified, only 31% see him as a moral person and only 26% view Trump as a role model. A majority of Americans believe Trump’s business interests will surly present conflicts and 65% of those polled believe his business ties will adversely conflict with America’s best interests.

Even though Hillary received more than 2.7 million more popular votes than Trump, and even if we’re to believe the questionable vote counts in the swing states, you still have to wonder how more than 60 million American’s could vote for Trump. I guess there’s an awful lot of suffering Americans desperate for change. But still, we’ve witnessed a con job extraordinaire.

It’s hard for me to believe a majority of white women and so many union workers and working poor voted for Trump. You’re much more apt to prosper and find a living wage job if you support the Democrats, who have always supported unions in particular and labor in general, than you would if you go out of your way to support a billionaire who is hiring other billionaires and multi millionaires who will cut taxes for the top 1% on day one. And who will systematically attack all the underpinnings of the quickly fading American middle class.

If you think a Trump Administration run by billionaires will propose an increase in the minimum wage, you’re dreaming. Trump nominated fast food Carls’ Jr. and Hardee’s Andy Puzder for Labor Secretary. Puzder believes the only thing better than an employee earning $7.25 and hour is a robot, which he praises by saying “They’re always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex or race discrimination case,” Who does Puzder think will be able to afford his burgers; robot don’t eat. The Trump Administration is teeming with plutocrats who can’t wait to enter what’s left of America’s middle class in the global race to the bottom. I honestly believe these guys hate anyone who isn’t rich. I guess these folks never heard of Henry Ford, who believed that no matter how many or how well he made his automobiles, if his own employees couldn’t afford them, the company would fail.

And if Trump supporters think this cabinet of billionaires will reverse the exodus of living wage jobs to China, Mexico and other low wage countries, they’re fooling themselves. These corporate titans have discovered that when their companies decide to lay off American workers and ship the jobs off shore, their stock price always increases substantially. Executives make enormous profits. And they don’t even invest the purported savings in plants and equipment or R&D, they usually just implement stock buy back programs which then increases the value of their own generous stock holdings. There’s enormous incentive for CEO’s and boards of directors to continue exporting jobs.

Trump and his billionaire ideologues will try to drag America back to the gilded age, but the folks who were so desperate for change may turn on these evildoers like a rabid dog, although I probably won’t hold my breath. I think it was Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce who said Trump is hiring four kinds of people for his cabinet, ideologues, billionaires, people who have no governing experience and billionaire ideologues who have no governing experience. For extremely complicated jobs that demand expertise, nuance and being able to hit the ground running, Trump has employed ideological novices with training wheels. Can you imagine this group taking over in January 2009, when our economy was imploding and we were losing 800,000 jobs a month. That’s why Trump will eventually jump on the TPP bandwagon.

These phony conservatives have proposed no credible solutions for what ails America and only pledge to shrink government down to the size where they can drown it in a bathtub. But there’s a big problem with that philosophy; the special interests that they pander too, Wall Street, multinational corporations, the fossil fuel industry and crony capitalists around the world, depend on rational, functioning American governance and regulations more than anyone. They just don’t want to pay for it.

I guess one thing we can depend on is that these ult right governing pretenders can’t help but overreach. We may only have to endure a two year assault on our Democratic American Ethos. John Hanno

Hey, White Working Class, Donald Trump Is Already Screwing You Over

The Daily Beast-Wake Up

Hey, White Working Class, Donald Trump Is Already Screwing You Over

The Carrier deal was a sham. Ivanka’s moving her shoe production out of China—and into Ethiopia. Wake up, people. You’ve been played.

Joy Ann Reid

12.09.16 12:05 AM ET

Dear Working-Class White Trump Voter,

You’re probably going to read this as sour grapes, and I certainly am sour about a family of kleptocrats moving into the White House because 80,000 of your votes in states that get more federal tax dollars than they put in, trump 2.7 million of ours, even though we carry you financially, and California and New York could function just fine as our own countries, without you.

But the reality is, I do live in a blue state. My governor and mayor are Democrats. Undocumented immigrants are safe where I live. Two of my kids attend a private college, so they wouldn’t have gotten free tuition anyway, and the third goes to a really good public school, where they teach science. I have a job (actually, multiple jobs) that can’t be outsourced to Mexico. And I’ll probably get a tax cut. So I’ll be fine over the next four years, as long as I don’t encounter an angry cop who’s had a bad day. But allow me to be blunt, since I don’t have any desire to pander to you, and it wouldn’t work to pander to you anyway.

You voted for Donald Trump, thinking that he was on your side; that he will save your jobs and your way of life, whatever you imagine that is. Well, you got played.

Over the course of his decades in business, Donald Trump has never given a damn about people like you. When he tore down the old Bonwit Teller building—where my Jamaican godmother was one of the few black women allowed to work as a cashier in the 1960s (her big claim to fame was meeting Troy Donahue)—to build Trump Tower, Trump used undocumented white laborers, mostly polish to do it. When his company forced them to work in deplorable, dangerous conditions and even failed to pay them the meager wages they were promised and they complained, Trump threatened to have them deported.

Trump built Trump Tower using mob concrete, not Bethlehem steel. In fact, he has rarely used American steel in the few buildings he’s actually built; opting for Chinese steel instead. That includes two of his last three projects: the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas and the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago. Then again, Nevada and Illinois voted with us in the anti-Trump majority, so the joke wasn’t exactly on them.

I wish to God the Clinton campaign had spent every waking month telling you guys about this stuff, instead of allowing the moving and cinematic “Man of Steel” TV ad by a pro-Trump super PAC probably funded by the same billionaires to whom he’s about to give massive top-rate and corporate tax cuts, to stand. But they didn’t. And here we are.

Now, your supposed hero of the working class, the “blue collar billionaire” who you insisted both during the campaign and afterward heard you, understood you, spoke to you, and cared about you, is attacking one of you. Trump used his Twitter account this week to savage United Steelworkers 1999 of Indiana and it’s president, Chuck Jones, an ordinary working man who dared to tell the truth about the phony Carrier deal that the media shamefully allowed Trump to ride to glowing headlines and boosted poll numbers.

To review, Trump used his Twitter feed to credit himself for saving 1,100 jobs at Indiana furnace and air conditioning manufacturer Carrier. In fact, it was still-governor Mike Pence, Trump’s soon-to-be vice president, who cut the deal to hand over $7 million in state tax abatements to Carrier in exchange for delaying the movement of 770 jobs to the company’s new plant in Monterrey, Mexico. That move, over the next three years, and the shutdown of the Indianapolis plant, is still planned. Another 300 white collar jobs Trump claimed credit for, meaning researchers and administrators, not steel workers, were not being moved to Mexico in the first place. And an additional 600 jobs at the plant, plus 700 at a plant in nearby Huntington, Indiana, plus 350 more at a ball bearing factory owned by Rexnord Corp., are still being shipped south of the border.

Meanwhile, despite the willingness of the incoming Trump-Pence administration to bribe a company with your tax dollars, there’s no guarantee that the small number of jobs saved are more than temporary. For all you know, Carrier only agreed to delay moving those 770 jobs until Christmas, to get the good press. And unlike President Obama’s deal to save literally millions of auto industry jobs in 2009, there’s no agreement for Carrier to pay taxpayers back with interest.

When Jones pointed out that Trump used Carrier employees as props and ” lied his as off” about the jobs he was supposedly saving, Trump got mad. He tweeted at Jones, blaming him, and US1999, for driving jobs out of Indiana and out of the United States. Think about that for a moment—your next president doesn’t think corporate greed and the pursuit of low wages are driving jobs out; he thinks unions are. That means he thinks your health care benefits and retirement package are the problem, not your CEO and the singular goal of “enhancing shareholder value” at your expense. Sounds like a proper plutocrat to me. Well, Trump went after Mr. Jones, and now Mr. Jones is getting death threats.

You see, Trump is “for” you, as long as you’re quiet and obedient. The moment you step out of line and stop praising him, it’s on. He’ll treat you no differently from how he treated the Gold Star family, the Khans, or former Miss Universe Alicia Machado for criticizing him during the campaign. You didn’t care much about them, since they belonged to groups you were voting to sideline—the Muslims and the Hispanics you think are taking over “your” country. But you might want to give a damn about Mr. Jones. Because what Trump is doing to him is a sign of things to come for you.

Meanwhile, Trump torched the stock of another American manufacturing company, Boeing, in retaliation for its CEO criticizing him; first inflating the size of their new contract to upgrade the Air Force One fleet, and then threatening to cancel the deal altogether, which would cost American jobs and help Boeing’s only competitor: Airbus, of France.

Trump is a big businessman. He’s your boss or CEO, not one of your brothers on the line.

He is on record saying that in his view, wages in the U.S. are too high. Trump’s pick for labor secretary, fast-food CEO Andy Puzder, is against raising the federal minimum wage too.

Trump the CEO manufacturers his tacky suits and ties in Mexico and his daughter manufactures her clothes and shoes in China. But neither of them plan to set the example for their fellow tycoons by moving those jobs to the U.S.A. Ivanka is moving some of her production to Ethiopia. And she just struck a new production deal in Japan, while on the phone with her dad and the Japanese prime minister. The Trumps have spent exactly zero percent of their lives caring about anyone other than themselves. Don’t expect that to change now, especially since they can now enrich themselves on international bribes, courtesy of daddy’s new job.

Trump’s threat (again via Twitter) of a 35 percent tax on companies who ship jobs overseas is complete bull. It’s never going to happen, and he knows it. It’s Congress, not the president, that moves legislation. And this Congress, which you voted for, is controlled by Republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan, who don’t want to take the country back to the 1950s, where you want to go, but rather to the 1920s. You might want to Google “Calvin Coolidge” or order the collected works of Aldous Huxley for Christmas if you need a primer.

Many of you voted based on the fiction that Hillary Clinton was going to take your guns—the way Barack Obama sent fleets of black helicopters to take them, right? Just pause for a moment to think about how ridiculous that sounds; sending who, the military, door to door to collect your silly firearms? Wake up, people. That idea is as foolish as the notion that before Nov. 9 you weren’t allowed to say “Merry Christmas.”

So Merry Christmas, Trump voters. Your guns are safe. They always were. Instead, while Trump is entertaining you by hiring white generals named “Mad Dog” to make you feel powerful again, the Republicans in Congress fully intend to take away every program that saved your parents and grandparents from the Great Depression.

Sure, they’re coming for “Obamacare” first. And you’re happy about that because you think that’s just free insurance for black “Obama phone” users and so-called illegals. But it’s not. It’s the access to insurance covering 20 million people, including millions of people like you; including 400,000 of you in very-not-black Kentucky. It’s covering disabled kids and people with pre-existing conditions, many who are too sick to get insurance without it. And Ryan and his friends want to cancel it, and then take three years to replace it, probably with Ryan’s favorite thing: vouchers.

But that’s not all. Ryan is also coming for Medicare. He wants to privatize that, too, and not for your mom and dad—they vote in midterms. He’s going to privatize it for you. So when you retire, working stiff in your forties or fifties, you’re going to get a handful of vouchers, instead of Medicare. And he’s also coming for Medicaid, to turn it into a block grant. That’s not a problem for me, since my blue state will keep caring for our poor. Your state—with its Republican governor and legislature? Not so much. Your emergency rooms are going to fill up with the sick, and your bankruptcy courts will fill up with their cases when they can’t pay the bills. And your rural hospitals are going to close.

You’ve turned your country over the top tenth of 1 percent. Talk about “establishment.” Their interest is not in helping you. It’s in further enriching themselves, by privatizing every public program—Social Security can’t be far behind—dropping the corporate and top income tax brackets as close to zero as possible, and making you pay, for everything from privatized roads owned by multinational corporations to elementary school. They’re into taking land, including our public lands and parks, or using another Trump favorite—public domain—to drill and frack, endangering your water just as surely as they poisoned Flint’s. And when they can’t steal any more from the Native Americans—who have shown they still have some fight left—they’ll come for your farms.

In Michigan, Republicans have already gotten started. They voted to further gut unions’ ability to bargain for decent health care and retirement through the use of strikes. And congressional Republicans have already voted to strip the “buy American” clause out of a bill to repair the nation’s water infrastructure.

As for black Trump supporters, don’t be fooled. Remember when Trump said he didn’t want black people counting his money, only Jewish people? Well look at his appointments. He didn’t even respect neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson enough to insist that he take over Health and Human Services. Instead, he’s tossing the black guy in the “urban” chair.

So good luck, Trump voters. I hope at some point you realize what’s happening and fight back. Your choices, unfortunately, do affect us all, and they will until we wake up and junk the Electoral College, which puts rural states’ zeal for Christian rule ahead of blue states’ desire for good government.

Until then, all I can do is try to warn you, and then wish you good luck.

Desperate North Dakota Governor Blames Social Media for Failure on DAPL

From Mean Read, North Dakota Media and Politics News.                   Posted By: The Editor December 9, 2016

It’s become apparent to everyone that North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple’s leadership was nonexistent during the Dakota Access pipeline fiasco.

Even the conservative commentator Chris Berg of Valley News Live couldn’t help but ridicule the governor’s inability to reach a negotiation with pipeline protesters.

The Fargo Forum revealed that Jack has sent and received a total of zero (0) emails regarding the pipeline protest, despite it being the most significant issue in the state over the past few months. How is that possible?

Under his watch, the state has become a symbol of bullying to audiences worldwide for the ham-handed law enforcement response to the pipeline protests. And at the end of it all, the federal government decided to deny a necessary easement where the pipeline hoped to cross Lake Oahe.

In short, Dalrymple failed on every imaginable front.

Yesterday the lame-duck governor, who resembles less a duck and more a naked mole rat, met with the Forum Editorial Board to make a big announcement: It’s social media’s fault.

“There’s a new paradigm,” he said, referring to social media. “I try to do what I can, but I’m not match for that organization.”

So the governor, with all the authority of the state behind him, says he’s powerless in the face of Facebook shares. Very weak.

Obviously grasping for straws, Dalrymple also blamed the Dakota Access pipeline company for “abdicating” its role to publicly defend the project.

“It’s as safe a pipe as you can build,” Dalrymple pointed out, oblivious that pipelines have been leaking all over the state, including one just this week.

Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley, also in attendance at the editorial board meeting, came up with a unique scapegoat of his own: Native Americans!

“The Native Americans are being used, absolutely being used, by these outside agitators,” he said.

Speaking of “being used,” Dalrymple has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in  campaign contributions from the oil industry.

 

December 9, 2016, John Hanno, www.tarbabys.com

North Dakota is the poster child for the past; fossil fuel extraction at whatever cost to the environment. The future Trump Administration and the Republi-con controlled Congress should take notice. If they insist on rolling back progress made by the Obama Administration on climate change and the transition from dirty and toxic fossil fuel to sustainable energy, they will garner the same determined opposition. Native Americans, environmentalists, American Veterans and other protectors are the future, and they are becoming expert at exploiting social media. The evildoers like Gov. Dalrymple, as he stated himself, are no match for this new social media juggernaut because they are on the wrong side of the issue. The earth destroyers have on their side, fossil fuel interests, the uber banks, multi-millionaire and billionaire investors, and the red state political panderers, but the Earth Protectors have their God, their prayers and everyone else, with a modicum of common sense, standing with them.  It’s really no contest.

The Dakota Access bank funding map is shown at, http://www.commondreams.org/views/2016/09/07/whos-banking-dakota-access-pipeline

Thanks to All the Veterans Who Stood With Standing Rock

As a Veteran, I’m proud of my thousands of brother and sister Vets who stood with the  Standing Rock Sioux. I believe it was the final nail The Obama Administration needed to temporarily close up the Dakota Access coffin. No one wants to mess with Veterans who are damn serious about their oath to defend America and it’s Democratic ethos. We all hope the environmental impact will delay the DAPL enough that the Uber Banks will decide to pull their credit lines. The pipeline claims it’s losing a million dollars a day. And if oil isn’t pumping on January 1st. Some of the pipeline contracts will have to be renegotiated. I know if Trump tries an end round President Obama’s and the Corp’s decision, the Vets will be there standing strong. I have a change.org petition asking the President to cede the land back to the Standing Rock Sioux or designate the land a National Park or National Monument. Please sign on if you can.

John Hanno, Oak Forest, Illinois change.org petition

Posted on Veterans For Standing Rock #NoDAPL gofundme

Posted on Veterans For Standing Rock #NoDAPL gofundme

John Hanno December 7, 2016

I’m a veteran who’s supported Standing Rock Sioux Protectors since the beginning of the protests through my blog www.tarbabys.com. Please sign the petition to President Obama. Change.org Petition The Dakota Access pipeline poses a catastrophic threat to Native American sacred lands and to the critical water source for more than 17 million Americans down stream of the Missouri River crossing. We know that President Elect Trump has a serious conflict of interest by owning large investments in DAPL and other fossil fuel assets; and his energy team includes Harold Hamm, billionaire founder of Continental Resources oil company, and someone Mr. Trump might name as his Secretary of Energy. Mr. Trump and the Koch brothers said they support extractive exploitation of public lands and National Parks. President Obama must not only order the Army Corps of Engineers to revoke the pipeline permits and stop the Dakota Access pipeline but we petition President Obama to cede to the Sovereign Standing Rock Sioux Nation water protectors, ownership rights to Army Corp land surrounding and including Lake Oahe and land at the pipeline crossing of the Missouri river, before he leaves office; and / or in the alternative, permanently protect this land by declaring it a National Park or National Monument. After suffering centuries of persecution and exploitation, Native Americans deserve justice. This land belonged to the Standing Rock Sioux Nation Rez before it was taken back. President Elect Trump has stated he will quickly approve the Dakota Access pipeline and also reverse President Obama’s decision to deny approval of Keystone XL pipeline. We have an enormous glut of oil reserves at Cushing, Oklahoma. The clear purpose of Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines is not to make America energy independent but to reap enormous profits for greedy oil interests exporting oil to China. We must protect our environment and our oil resources. This outdated fossil fuel infrastructure is not needed and railroads serving the Bakkan North Dakota oil fields have invested heavily in improved railroad oil tank car safety and have stated that they have more than enough railroad capacity to transport the Bakkan oil. They will also be able to permanently rehire thousands of laid off North Dakota railroad workers. America must finally honor the first Americans and our first environmentalists by stopping Dakota Access.

Thank You to All Standing Rock Protectors, Dave Archambault, II, Chairman

John,

Yesterday we were notified that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will not grant the easement to cross Lake Oahe for the Dakota Access pipeline. Instead, they will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement regarding alternative routes for the pipeline. This action strongly vindicates what the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has been saying all along – that we all have a responsibility to protect our waters for future generations.

This is an historic moment. For centuries, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and tribes across the country, have faced fundamental injustice at the hands of the federal government – which time and again took our lands and tried to destroy our way of life. Our Treaties and our human rights were ignored, our interests in protecting lands and waters were considered unimportant, and our voices were not heard.
It was this shared history that led Tribes to come together as never before to seek the protection of our waters against the threat of the Dakota Access pipeline. With peace and prayer, indigenous people from hundreds of Tribes said: our future is too important. We can no longer be ignored. The goal was to protect these sacred waters, and to do so in the name of our children.
And, with yesterday’s decision, it is clear that our voices have at long last been heard.
Yesterday’s decision demonstrates that, despite all the challenges that Tribes face and all of the terrible wrongs the federal government has committed in dealing with us over the years, justice for Indian people still remains possible. My thanks to the Obama Administration, and particularly to Assistant Secretary Darcy, for upholding the law and doing the right thing.
Yesterday’s decision belongs in large measure to the thousands of courageous people who put their lives on hold to stand with Standing Rock in support of a basic principle — that water is life. At Standing Rock, our youth played an important role in spreading our message and I am so proud of what they have been able to accomplish.
But Standing Rock could not have come this far alone. Hundreds of tribes came together in a display of tribal unity not seen in hundreds of years. And many thousands of indigenous people from around the world have prayed with us and made us stronger. I am grateful to each of you. And, as we turn a page with yesterday’s decision, I look forward to working with many of you as you return to your home communities to protect your lands and waters, and the sovereignty of your tribes.
My thanks to all of our allies, here and around the world, each of whom contributed to this effort. I want to give a special mention to the veterans who have come to Standing Rock in recent days. I am sure that the strength of your message in support of Standing Rock, and the rights of the Water Protectors, had a powerful impact as the Army made its decision. I appreciate all you have done.
While today is a great day, there is still much that needs to be done to protect Tribal rights and ensure justice for indigenous people everywhere. Using peace and prayer as our guideposts, and with the teachings of our elders and with inspiration from our youth, I believe there is much we can accomplish for the future.

Sincerely,
Dave Archambault, II, Chairman
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe

Army Corps of Engineers Will Deny Easement for Dakota Access

That’s great news, but as soon as the Trump Administration takes over, they will try to order the Corps to issue the easement. President Obama must permanently protect this land and water by ceding the land at Lakes Oahe and Sakakawea back to the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, or in the alternative, to designate it a National Park or National Monument. The Rez will surely take care of the land better than a corporation interested only in financial profit and extracting every ounce of fossil fuel asset for export to China. The Sioux Nations will make decisions based on what’s best for the next seven generations, not on the bottom line of the next quarter. Sign one of the Change.org petitions that asks President Obama to permanently protect this land. John Hanno

Army Corps of Engineers Statement on Dakota Access

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers statement

Posted: Sun 4:48 PM, Dec 04, 2016

 

The Department of the Army will not approve an easement that would allow the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota, the Army’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Works announced Sunday.

Jo-Ellen Darcy said she based her decision on a need to explore alternate routes for the Dakota Access Pipeline crossing. Her office had announced on November 14, 2016 that it was delaying the decision on the easement to allow for discussions with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose reservation lies 0.5 miles south of the proposed crossing. Tribal officials have expressed repeated concerns over the risk that a pipeline rupture or spill could pose to its water supply and treaty rights.

“Although we have had continuing discussion and exchanges of new information with the Standing Rock Sioux and Dakota Access, it’s clear that there’s more work to do,” Darcy said. “The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.”

Darcy said that the consideration of alternative routes would be best accomplished through an Environmental Impact Statement with full public input and analysis.

The Dakota Access Pipeline is an approximately 1,172 mile pipeline that would connect the Bakken and Three Forks oil production areas in North Dakota to an existing crude oil terminal near Pakota, Illinois. The pipeline is 30 inches in diameter and is projected to transport approximately 470,000 barrels of oil per day, with a capacity as high as 570,000 barrels. The current proposed pipeline route would cross Lake Oahe, an Army Corps of Engineers project on the Missouri River.

Thanksgiving 2016

November 24, 2016, John Hanno

Thanksgiving 2016

On Thanksgiving 2008, exactly eight years ago, I had an article published in a Chicago newspaper, where I described all the things I was thankful for. Although the war in Iraq was finally winding down, ours and most of the worlds economies were imploding, thanks to the risky and criminal financial schemes of the world’s banking giants. We were losing 800,000 jobs a month and markets were in free fall. America had just chosen Democrat Senator Barack Obama to be it’s next president and savior; and I truly believed he and Michelle understood why I was thankful for the 35 things listed in my article.

I was thankful the eight years of the Bush Administration were almost over and we didn’t elect John McCain because the world could not have survived another Republican term like that. I was thankful the world was welcoming President Obama with open arms and a deep sigh of relief because it showed they believed America could still lead us from despair. I was thankful Barack Obama realized we all had to work together to solve the enormous problems because being divided was what got us into the mess in the first place. I appreciated the important things; family, friends and community because we had to depend on each other. I was thankful and hopeful that 60 years from then, people would be glad they were born in 2009, because it was the beginning of another period of great hope and change, and not because they were sorry to have been born into another great depression.

Some of that hope was quickly dashed when the Republican leaders in Congress, led by Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, met on the eve of President Obama’s inauguration, to hatch a plan to obstruct the President on everything he tried to do, just to make him a one term president. They didn’t care about the consequences to Americans reeling from an economy driven off a cliff by, too big to fail banks and neocon ideologue’s in the Bush Administration.

Every time the President held out a hand, the Republicans slapped it away. They refused to allow him to succeed at anything. Compromise to them meant total capitulation. But what they really accomplished was to make America even more polarized, and it showed during this election. Donald Trump took advantage of and widened that divide to Grand Canyon proportions.

As the votes continue to be counted, Hillary has received more than 2 million more votes than Donald Trump. The 64.5 million folks who voted for Hillary, the media and pollsters, most Republicans and even the Trump campaign, still can’t believe she lost. Computer experts have found evidence that the results in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin may have been manipulated or hacked; possibly by the Russians, who favored Trump. And if these shenanigans with electronic ballots are proved valid, Hillary’s supporters might yet be vindicated. The Jill Stein campaign has collected millions of dollars from concerned Americans, who like me, can’t believe America is still not able to guarantee a free and fair national election.

The OpenSecrets.org Center for Responsive Politics reports that the cost of this 2 year long election is approaching 7 billion dollars, thanks to Citizens United and dark money. Couple that with Republican legislatures throughout the country passing bills aimed at voter suppression, gerrymandering, a reality candidate who believes lying and deception are invaluable traits, debates where discussing critical issues are put on the back burners, a media more concerned with profits than truth in journalism, campaign hacking by the Russians, and the latest peril of Russian propaganda spreading fake news stories, is it a wonder that 53% of America’s eligible voters didn’t bother to vote.

Some of the 62.5 million folks who voted for Mr. Trump believe he will govern much different than he campaigned; that all the nativist, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, anti immigrant and violent dialog and conduct was just chalked up as campaign talk. But half of those who voted for Trump, who Hillary named the “Deplorables,” are in sympathy with the alt right tea party and obstructionist McConnell. They want to burn down the government. They want to “Make America Great Again,” which really means they want to take America back to the dark ages, when America was primarily male controlled,  white and Christian, before workers rights and women’s rights and civil rights for our black and brown brothers and sisters. Before regulations on banks and corporations and protections for workers and the environment.

But so far, based on the people he’s chosen for his cabinet, it’s clear he will govern exactly like he campaigned. He told his supporters that he knows, and would choose, the best and the brightest people for his cabinet. Then he turns around and picks rich, alt right ideologues; Rudolf Giuliani, who most people think has gone off the deep end, Steve Bannon, alt right white supremacist sympathizer, Mike Flynn for National Security Advisor, who has endorsed the use of torture and other war crimes that violate the Geneva Convention and Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General, who worked hard to gut the Voting Rights act and suppress minority voting. Fellow Republicans denied Sessions a federal judgeship because of his racist track record. Trump also nominated Koch Brothers aligned Billionaire charter school and voucher advocate and $9.5 million Trump campaign contributor Betsy DeVos, as his Secretary of Education, someone who American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten describes as “the most ideological, anti-public education nominee put forward since President Carter created a Cabinet-level Department of Education.” Weingarten said, “In nominating DeVos, Trump makes it loud and clear that his education policy will focus on privatizing, defunding and destroying public education in America.” This coming on top of the 31 mostly red states that have already cut funding to public schools.

During the election, Mr. Trump told his supporters he would not touch Social Security or Medicare, two of the most successful government programs in our history. But the Republican House of Representatives, led by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, has the privatizing of those programs at the top of their to do list.

Trump repeatedly told supporters that he would repeal Obama-care (Affordable Care Act) on his first day in office but he’s already backpedaling on that promise. He might have discovered that the popular parts of the ACA, which he also favors, the preexisting conditions part and the ability to keep children on their parents policy thru age 26, must be paid for, by mandating that everyone sign up or pay a penalty. It’s mind-boggling to me that many of the folks who signed up for Obama-care, some who never before had medical insurance, voted for Trump. Thanks to Democratic Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, more than 60% of Kentuckians, most of them poor, had signed up for subsidized Obama-care. But they not only elected a new Republican governor who favors ending the ACA, but more than 70% of them voted for Mr. Trump in this election. And with Kentucky’s 2 Republican Senators and full cadre or Republican Congress persons, I’m sure the Republican Congress, who already tried to repeal the ACA more than 60 times, will finally succeed without President Obama to veto them. I believe some of the poorest of the poor, those left behind by the new economy, jumped on the Trump train because they were desperate for any type of change.

Mr. Trump said many times during the election, that if elected, he would build a wall on the border with Mexico and make them pay for it, ban all Muslims from entering the U.S., send 11 million illegal immigrants back to Mexico, cancel the nuclear peace treaty with Iran, cancel all of President Obama’s executive orders, bring all the jobs back from China, keep others from off shoring, bring back the coal industry, drop out of the Paris agreement, exit the TPP, renegotiate NAFTA and the China PNTR agreement, end the carried interest exemption, drain the Washington swamp of lobbyists, throw crooked Hillary in jail, destroy ISIS because he knows more than the generals, cut taxes for individuals and corporations, rebuild the depleted military and a whole list of other things. And that’s just in the first 100 days. I hope those who voted for him don’t hold their breaths waiting for most things on this list. It should soon be obvious that Donald Trump was feeding his supporters a monumental line of bull dung. And how these poor souls will react, when they wake up from their Kool-aid induced stupor, is anyone’s guess.

I suspect Mr. Trump will quickly reveal himself as a traditional billionaire zealot who champions, and will again try to implement, the neocons discredited trickle down economics. He despises paying any taxes even though the rich and corporations benefit from them more than anyone, so he will again place cutting taxes above all else, even though it will surely blow up the deficit. He will fall in line with fossil fuel interests and join with his Republican Congress to gut environmental regulations, and to support drill baby drill and heavy investment in pipeline infrastructure; and of course at the same time, they will dial back investments and subsidies for alternative energies. He will fully support charter schools and school vouchers because he simply hates free public education. He will go along with the Republican Congress to attack middle class entitlement and social safety net programs, while at the same time passing out favors to crony capitalists, fossil fuel companies and the prison and military industrial complexes. He will hire a long list of other billionaires, who like himself, have little regard for 99% of the rest of America.

There are some things the Democrats would be willing to work with Mr. Trump on, like an infrastructure bill, modifying trade agreements to make them fairer for America and the American worker and real tax reform that includes ending the carried interest tax dodge. But if the Republican juggernaut resumes efforts to steamroll America’s middle class, the poor and the environment, the Democrats will have to use every tool, including the Republican’s favorite filibuster, to minimize the damages.

America is starkly divided; there’s a pitched battle for America’s Democratic ethos:

Between those who believe a rising tide lifts all boats and that all of us should share in the profits and benefits of a free society and economy….. and those who believe in a plutocratic, corporatist, limited government with lax regulations, low or limited taxes to support our commons and consequently, diminished worker and middle class rights.

Between those who believe our diversity makes for a stronger America and a better future …..and those who long for a lily white, male dominated, Christian past.

Between those who embrace science, innovation and a green future based on sustainable alternative energy….. and those steeped and mired in fossil fuel’s dirty and unsustainable past.

In spite of the Republican’s unrelenting obstruction, the Obama Administration still accomplished a lot, primarily during the first 2 years, when the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. I think history will regard him as one of our best presidents.

With the help of the admittedly weak stimulus after the economic crash, they were able to apply a tourniquet to the bleeding economy. In spite of staunch opposition from the Republicans in Congress, they bailed out the auto industry, which has increase production each year since 2009 and reached a new record of 17.5 million last year. I wrote the president a letter in early 2009 advocating for the auto bailout and also saying I thought the three most important issues were Jobs, Jobs and living wage Jobs. But he concentrated on and expended a lot of capital and good will on the Affordable Care Act. I guessed that when he sat down with the corporate executives after the crash, he asked them about creating more jobs at home. I’m sure they told him the number one reason for exporting jobs was the escalating, enormous and unpredictable cost of health care. For auto manufacturing, that means between $2,300 and $2,700 per vehicle.

So the administration did what 5 presidents couldn’t do; they committed to finally providing healthcare for 40 million Americans, which caused more than 20,000 deaths a year simply because folks didn’t have insurance. They also slowed the double digit escalating health care costs. They not only had to tackle the number one cause of America’s long term fiscal problems but needed to level the playing field for companies that must compete with countries with much lower wages and much lower health care costs. It wasn’t pretty but it’s a start. America is finally on the path to universal health care. And on the path to healing and rebuilding the finances of the families where medical costs contributed to 65% of all personal bankruptcies.

As part of the ACA, the Obama Administration also took the banks out of the Federal Student Loan Program and expanded Pell Grants. Since 2010, students now get their loans directly from the federal government instead of from subsidized banks. This will save the Treasury almost $70 billion dollars over 10 years. And $36 billion of that will go into expanding Pell Grants for low income families. They also cracked down on predatory for profit colleges.

With the help of Michele Obama, they passed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010, giving $4.5 billion for higher nutritional and health standards for school lunches. It doubled the amounts of fruits and vegetables and whole grains in foods served to school children.

They passed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.

They repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

They helped make same sex marriage, the law of the land.

I believe the Obama Administration has done more for Veterans than any since Truman’s and Eisenhower’s. They increased the budget for the Veterans Administration by 16 percent in 2010 and 10 percent in 2011, passed a new G.I. Bill that provided $78 billion dollars in tuition assistance and gave tax credits to businesses who hire Vets.

And they still created more than 15 million jobs, including the biggest (800,000) growth in manufacturing jobs since the 1990’s. Unfortunately many of those are not living wage jobs. They’ve created an average of almost 200,000 jobs for 29 straight months between 2010 and 2016 and the unemployment rate dropped from more than 10% to 4.9%.

Medium household income has gone up $1,140 or 2 %.

The buying power of the average workers weekly paycheck is up 4.2%

Median sales prices of existing single family homes are up 23%

The murder rate is down 5%, despite an increase in 2015.

The number of unauthorized immigrants is also down.

Our national deficit has been cut by three-quarters, from the 2009 bail-out deficit of $1.4 trillion to the $439 billion 2015 deficit.

The stock markets have soared. The S&P 500 was up 220% over 2009. Nasdaq is up more than 320% and the Dow is up almost 200%, rising from about 8,000 after the crash to a new record of more than 19,000 now.

The Federal Reserve also played a big role in digging us out of the financial crisis and deep recession, by keeping interests low, which also helped the housing sector recover.

They passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010 to regulate the practices that bank engaged in that crashed the economy and caused the Great Recession. Dodd-Frank improved the regulation of eight areas that led to the financial crisis. The “Volcker Rule” banned banks from being involved in hedge funds. The Financial Stability and Oversight Council regulated hedge funds and banks that became too big to fail. Dodd-Frank also directed the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to regulate the riskiest derivatives, like the credit default swaps and commodities future that were the primary causes of the collapse.

They also created the Consumer Financial protection Bureau, which has returned billions of dollars back to victimized consumers and improved regulation of credit cards and mortgages.

They also passed the Credit Card Accountability Act in 2009.

And the first bill they passed in 2009 was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Play Act, which gave women who are paid less that men for the same work the ability to sue their employers after they finally discover the discrimination.

They passed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act in 2011, which increased the Food and Drug Administration’s budget by $1.4 billion dollars, so they can expand food inspections, issue direct food recalls and increase safety practices of countries importing products into America.

They Passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009. Which mandated that tobacco manufacturers disclose all ingredients and obtain FDA approval for any new tobacco product.

They passed the 2009 Children’s Health Insurance Program (Chip) to cover health care for an additional 4 million children, paid for by a tax on tobacco products.

In 2009, they got the EPA to declare carbon dioxide a pollutant and allowing them to regulate its production.

In 2009, they eliminated the Bush-era restrictions on embryonic stem cell research.

They engineered Federal Communications approval to transfer $8 billion in subsidies away from landlines and toward broadband Internet for lower-income rural families.

In 2009, they passed the Claims Resolution Act, which provided $4.6 billion funding for the legal settlement for black and Native American farmers who the government denied loans and natural resource royalties to in the past.

They passed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act in 2009, which designated more than 2 million acres of wilderness, created historic trails and protected more than 1,000 miles of rivers.

They invested $90 billion dollars in research for smart electric grids, energy efficiency, electric autos, renewable electric generation, clean coal and bio-fuels.

They issued an executive order in 2009 requiring all federal agencies to reduce their environmental impact. This includes 30% reduction in fleet gasoline use, 26% increase in water efficiency and sustainability requirements for all federal contracts.

They passed in 2011, over staunch objections from fossil fuel pandering Republicans, new fuel efficiency standards that will double fuel economy for cars, and for the first time trucks by 2025. Some auto manufacturers have already surpassed those standards.

Wind and solar power have quadrupled; coal production has dropped 36% and carbon emissions have gone down 12%.

Clean energy production (300 million megawatt hours) from solar, wind and biomass has doubled since (150 million megawatt hours) in 2009.

The Administration engineered an agreement with British Petroleum to set up a $20 billion dollar fund to quickly compensate victims of the Deep-water Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico after pointing out that it took almost 2 decades for the victims of the Exxon Valdez Alaska oil spill to receive $1.3 billion.

President Obama led global efforts for the International Climate Agreement in Paris in December 2015. Countries agreed to reduce carbon emissions and increase carbon trading and to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures.

He also enacted the Clean Power Plan in 2015. It reduces carbon emissions by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030. This is accomplished by reduction goals for the nations power plants. Power plants will create 30% more renewable energy generation by 2030.

They reduced military spending in 2011 by $450 billion dollars.

They stopped the $1 billion per launch Space Shuttle program boondoggle and the even more bloated Bush era Constellation program in 2011.

In 2009 they ended the Lockheed Martin single-seat, twin engine, fighter aircraft program, which cost $358 million dollars for each plane. The plane never flew a single combat mission, even though they already had 187 planes built. Eliminating the program saved $4 billion.

They also created Recovery.gov, an independent board of inspectors general directed to look for fraud and abuse in the stimulus program. It provided transparent information on every contract funded by the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

They ended the war in Iraq and wound down the war in Afghanistan.

They captured and killed Osama bin laden.

They joined with European and Arab governments to topple Moammar Gaddafi and helped unseat Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

After rescinding Bush Administration torture policies, President Obama began rebuilding the world’s opinion toward the U.S, which was severely damaged during the previous Republican administration.

President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in March 2010. The committee cited “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” He withdrew troops from Iraq in 2011 and reduced the U.S. nuclear warhead stockpile by 10%.

The Iran sanctions they helped get passed in 2010, with other countries, led to the Iran Nuclear weapons program agreement.

They helped the South Sudan declare Independence. They appointed envoys to the Sudan, and had U.S. United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice negotiate a peaceful split

And I think one of the most important issues, especially in light of the potential conflict of interest issues for the incoming Trump Administration, is that President Obama has served longer than any other president in decades without a scandal. When he came into office, he told the American public that he was demanding that everyone who worked in his administration would be held to a higher standard of ethics and he has faithfully delivered on that promise.

When the President came into office, he said he would be a president for all the American people, even those who didn’t vote for him. He said he made mistakes but got up every day determined to help improve the lives of all Americans. I think he was successful in spite of Republican refusal to compromise on anything. But looking at the list of achievements, we see that he has helped 100’s of millions of folks in countless ways.

President Obama’s administration has helped:

The banks and financial institutions who benefited from the bail-out,

The investors and pension funds harmed by the financial crash and then made whole,

The homeowners who lost equity in their homes and then recovered with TARP funds,

The entire auto industry and the millions of new workers in that industry,

The 40 million folks now eligible for Obamacare,

The 10’s of millions of who can’t be denied insurance because of preexisting conditions,

The millions of young folks who can stay on their parents policy through age 26,

The 10’s of millions of folks who won’t have to file bankruptcy because of medical costs,

The 10’s of millions who can now get preventative care at no cost,

The millions of students and their families who now pay reduced student loan interest,

The millions of students and their families who have benefited from more Pell Grants,

The 10’s of millions of children who now have healthier and more nutritious lunches,

Those less likely to be the victims of hate crimes,

The LGBTQ members of the military who can now openly serve their country,

The same sex partners who can now legally get married,

100’s of thousands of men and women of the military and vets who depend on the V.A.,

The 15,000,000 Americans who now have a job,

The 10’s of millions of taxpayers who will have to pay less interest on the deficit,

The millions who profited from the doubling and tripling of the stock markets,

The millions of homeowner families who have benefited from low home mortgage rates,

The 10’s of millions who are protected by Dodd-Frank and the Consumer Protection Act,

The 10’s of millions of women who are now protected by the Lilly Ledbetter Act,

The 10’s of millions of young people who will not start smoking, or will decide to quit,

The 4 million additional children in the expanded CHIPS health program,

The 10’s of millions who will benefit from reduced carbon dioxide emissions,

The millions who will benefit from embryonic stem cell research,

The millions of rural folks who can now use the Internet,

The black and Native American farmers who can now get farm loans and royalties,

The millions who use the 2 million acres of new wilderness and 1,000 miles of rivers,

The millions who benefit from a smart electric grid, energy efficiency and electric autos,

The millions of taxpayers who benefit from a more efficient environmental impact,

The 10’s of millions who will benefit from doubling the fuel economy standards,

The folks in the Gulf who will receive payouts from the Deep Water victims fund,

The billions of people around the world who will benefit from the Paris accord,

The 10’s of millions of American taxpayers who benefit from reduced military spending,

The 100 million folks in Iraq and Afghanistan who can now see the end of the tunnel,

The 100’s of millions around the world who are glad Osama bin laden is in hell,

The 100 million people of Libya and Egypt who have new leadership,

The 10’s of millions of Iranians who are no longer suffering sanctions and,

The 100’s of millions who no longer have to worry about Iran’s nuclear program,

The 100’s of millions who are just a little safer after we reduced our nuclear arsenal,

The many millions in the South Sudan who now have an independent country,

Add to this list the millions of folks helped by the presidents signing of executive orders, including undocumented children and young Latinos, and we can see why President Obama’s approval rating is 57%, the highest it’s been since 2009; and why folks in the U.S. and around the world are sad to see Barack and Michele leave the White House.

What amazes me, when honestly considering this list of accomplishments, is the 43% of American’s who don’t approve of the job the President has done. The alt right, the tea party and virtually every member of the far right media refuse to give the President any credit at all. Anyone who claims this isn’t racism is fooling themselves. And Trump, with his “birther” rants, was the main culprit in this racist campaign to diminish the first black America President.

I think if the Obama Administration would have tried to prosecute some of the evildoers who crashed the economy, had concentrated more on a legitimate jobs program and not just retraining for nonexistent jobs, and had done more about unfair trade agreements and practices or explained their efforts better, they could have dulled Trumps populist message to those who have been left behind in this new economy; and Hillary would have won the electoral college. I realize the administration tried to get a jobs bill, and countless other legislation they thought would help the middle class and the American worker, thru the filibuster happy Republicans in the Senate and past a Republican House unwilling to propose or compromise on any meaningful legislation that would have allowed the President to succeed; but I think the administration could have done a much better job of explaining their goals and the Republicans obstruction, to the voters. The Republicans were adept at framing their obstruction, as handcuffing an out of control socialist spendthrift and as being beneficial to the economy, where in reality, it just exacerbated America’s widening income inequality.

There are any number of mine fields ahead for Trump and the Republicans, including the 25 million dollar Trump University settlement. Neither the plaintiffs nor the courts have signed off on that agreement. Then there’s Trumps upcoming rape trial. Many experts also believe this Trump Administration will explore uncharted new frontiers of governing conflicts of interest. He honestly believes he can run his family business from the White House. And of course, the Republicans always tend to overreach, especially now that they have the White House, the Senate and the House. So strap on your seat belt because it looks like a rough 4 year ride for progressives, the middle class, the working poor, the environment and the economy. Between the cast of characters Trump has assembled for his administration and the temperament and apparent unfitness of the President elect himself, there’s a 50/50 chance this administration may not make it past the 2018 midterm elections intact.

A November 21st article in USA Today by Matt Krantz, highlighted the economic records under Republican and Democratic Presidents. “Recessions are much more common under Republican presidents.” In the last 63 years, since President Eisenhower at the beginning of 1953 until President Obama through 2016, there have been 111 months of recession. 105 of those months of recession have been under Republican presidents, with only 6 months under President Carter. And I think that was because of the oil embargo.

“Every Republican president since Teddy Roosevelt in 1901 has endured a recession in the first term, according to an analysis from Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at stock research firm CFRA.” Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Clinton and Obama had no months of recession. Eisenhower had 28 months, Nixon/Ford had 27 months, Regan had 16, Bush senior had 8 and George W. Bush had 26 months. The average GDP in the last 65 years since President Truman was 3.33%, according to Princeton Professors Alan Blinder and Mark Watson. “With a Republican in the White House, the GDP slowed to 2.54% and with a Democrat jumped to 4.35%.

“A variety of other economic indicators, such as per capita GDP, stock market returns, real wages, and the change in the unemployment rate are also more robust under Democrats. Unemployment fell by .8% under the Democrats and rose 1.1%  with the Republicans.” “The U.S. Economy has performed better when the President of the United States is a Democrat rather than a Republican, regardless of how one measures the performance.” “The current economic expansion has been running for 89 months (under President Obama), 4th longest since 1902.”

Some experts believe this disparate performance may just be a matter of timing or bad luck. I think it’s simply about the economic philosophy of the Republican president and his cabinet and not due to random acts. Republican’s number one goal is cutting taxes, especially for folks who don’t need it (millionaires, billionaires and corporations, who like Mr. Trump,  already enjoy a very low or N/A effective tax rate). Number two is cutting programs started during the FDR New Deal era, especially for those who simply can’t afford it (attacking Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid). And of course continuing the assault against organized labor (attacking teachers, mail-carriers, government workers, collective bargaining and promoting right to work legislation). But these zealots will never understand that these actions severely depress the economy. It’s been proven time and again that when lower and middle class folks have more discretionary income, they freely spend it and the economy flourishes. When rich folks get huge tax cuts and have more money than they know what to do with, they don’t invest it in the economy but engage in risky business practices (the 2008 financial crisis). These folks heading to the White House again are not true conservatives. They can’t wait to get their hands on Dodd-Frank and the Consumer Protection Agency (Overreaching). The richest of the rich always benefit from chaos and financial distress. Like Mr. Trump stated during the campaign, when the economy goes to crap, it’s a great opportunity for him and other billionaires to make a killing. You wonder, by looking at their record, if they actually try to crash the economy on purpose.

But all is not lost. This is after all Thanksgiving and while I don’t have 35 things like I did in 2008, I still have a few things I’m thankful for.

I’m thankful for all the courageous and patriotic American’s in the streets, especially the young folks, who are protesting the election of Divider in Chief Donald Trump, as America’s leader, especially after eight years of President Obama, Michele, and Joe and Jill Biden attempting to unite us.

I’m thankful for all the Native American water protectors, our first environmentalists, standing up for the earth at Standing Rock, especially all the young people. And thankful for all the Native American tribes (more than 300) from all over the country and Canada who have gone to stand with them. I’m thankful for all the environmental activists like myself who have donated and spoken up and stood with them. I’m thankful for all the landowners and farmers like myself, from North and South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, and Illinois who have stood in the way of the Dakota Access and other risky pipelines. I’m thankful for all the earth protectors who stood up in Canada against the Alberta Tar Sands. I’m thankful for the protectors who stood up in Minnesota and stopped the Sandpiper pipeline project. I’m thankful for all the Native Americans, activists, landowners, farmers and members of Bold Nebraska who stood up and stopped Keystone XL. And I’m thankful for all the Americans and Canadians and people around the world who have donated and wrote letters and signed letters and petitions and said prayers and commented on social media. I am thankful for all the celebrities and concerned media who refuse to ignore the plight of our Native American brothers and sisters. I’m thankful for all the environmental organizations around the country and the world who stand with Standing Rock and stand for the earth. I’m thankful for all the activist leaders who organized demonstrations supporting Standing Rock on November 15th across the country, in almost every state and around the world. I’m thankful for all the 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders, with their hand made signs, who were at the Standing Rock protest in downtown Chicago; and for their parents and teachers for showing them the right way to live sustainably. They will be the earth protectors taking over for their elders. And I will be thankful for all of my fellow Veterans who are going to standing Rock the first week in December to stand with Standing Rock, to show that they represent the true patriotic Americans defending their country and our earth.

I’m thankful for all of humanity who shuns greed in order to protect our blessings of clean air, fertile soil, clean precious water and wholesome food.

I’m thankful for those on the front lines, protesting exploitation of our wilderness, our public lands and our National Parks and Monuments.

I’m thankful for all the organic and sustainable farmers like myself, who feed their neighbors without spoiling the earth. And I’m thankful for the organizations like MOSES who promote and teach the next generation of protectors.

And in spite of how hard Mr. Trump, his exploitative cabinet, the fossil fuel pandering Republican controlled Congress and the evil doers in the fossil fuel industry work, to overturn progress made by the Obama Administration, to reverse climate change and global warming, they can’t stop the march to a cleaner more sustainable world. Alternative energy is cheaper than coal, oil and gas, it’s sustainable and 10’s of millions of people around the world are already enjoying it’s benefits. The world is using less coal, more wind, solar and alt energy, emitting less carbon dioxide and growing and farming more sustainably. More than 100 large corporations have pledged to become 100% renewable. Corporations, utilities, countries, states, cities and communities have promoted and invested in renewable energy. Even oil companies and insurance companies have woken up to the new sustainable world order. We are plodding forward. Trump, his fellow billionaires and the big banks who are heavily invested in fossil fuel assets will attempt to extract every ounce before America says, enough is enough. But they’re on the wrong side of preserving humanity.

Like probably 80% of Americans who did not vote for Mr. Trump, I’m worried for America’s children and grandchildren, the poor, our middle class, labor, the environment, our Democracy and half of the rest of the world. And I worry that Trump will try to undo  60 to 75% of what President Obama accomplished. President Obama set the bar high with his performance in repairing the economy after the Republicans drove it into a ditch, by repairing our reputation around the world and by his integrity and concern for all human beings. If the Trump Administration can do half as well, I will be surprised. I sincerely hope I’m proved wrong.

John Hanno