Have you ever heard of a Koenigsegg?
It’s a Swedish “super car.” Street legal in the U.S., tops out at a little over 241 miles per hour, and costs $2.1M ( that’s “two point one million.”) There’s one owned by the son of the President of Equatorial Guinea. He has a $35M mansion in California and numerous other cars like Ferraris. He bought Michael Jackson’s glove. He’s got money. How did he and the family get their money? Oil. Who paid them? Exxon Mobil. At his confirmation hearings Rex Tillerson said that they hand a check over to the heads of lots of states, what they do with the money after that is up to them. Kind of like a block grant program, I guess. Well the Mbasogo family, the ruling family of Equatorial Guinea, what they have done for decades is to keep it. Meanwhile the general population lives in squalor. We’re talking tin roofs, cardboard or scrap wood siding and mud streets, if you can even call them streets.
The father of this playboy kid is well known for the use of imprisonment, torture, kidnappings, and arbitrary arrests, etc. Nice guy. Their constitution said he had to step down in 2011. He didn’t.
In an effort to curb such abuses of money not going to the people of a nation, groups have worked to have governments around the world pass laws that require extraction companies to reveal their payments to such individuals and nations. You’ll be surprised to know that extraction companies: oil, gas, and coal are rated the most corrupt in the world, cause ya know, ya gotta grease a few palms to get things done and then turn a blind eye to other things going on – that’s reality. Right? Come on. Everybody knows that.
Well, you’ll be happy to know that our Republican legislators yesterday were busy with their repeal efforts to lift the undue burden on corporations so the companies can get back to business without government interference by voting to get rid of our law that requires companies to reveal what they pay folks like Mr. Mbasogo and his son. It now goes to the Senate for passage.
Also Rex Tillerson was sworn in as Secretary of State. He couldn’t be a better pick for Vladimir Putin. Yes, he’s supposedly divested himself of his holdings or put them in a blind trust, do you think that he’s forgotten the five hundred billion dollar deal he did with Russia for his old company ExxonMobil? When it comes to keeping sanctions on Russia, which keep them in need of money from the west, do you think letting ExxonMobil drill in Russia and hand over a ton of money will make America Great Again? Just asking.
Oh yes, there are reports that Putin is again on the move in Ukraine.
Also, the Democrats did not show up for the committee votes for two of Trump’s cabinet nominees. This means that their nominations can’t go forward. What to do? Why suspend the rules and push them through to a full Senate vote. So Lying Steve Mnuchin and Double-Dealing Tom Price go to the Senate for a full vote. Okay, he’s not really lying is he? Just because he admitted for the record that he forgot to disclose $100M in Cayman Island accounts and that he wasn’t “completely truthful” about who owned that money he oversaw. Oh wait. That is lying? Who knew? And Tom Price didn’t double deal, not really, he just bought stock in companies days before he introduced legislation that directly helped those companies. Maybe that’s called insider trading? Maybe, he didn’t know that he was going to introduce that legislation? Maybe, he didn’t know that the legislation was going to directly help those companies? So many unknowns.
Meanwhile, Betsy DeVos, perhaps the most unqualified candidate for any cabinet position ever in the history of our country might get approved. She’s one vote away from not making it, which means she has at least one vote necessary to make it. Good times.
Meanwhile, Iran fired a ballistic missile, Michael Flynn had a press conference where he said Iran was “put on notice.” Then he left the room without taking questions. Questions like, “What does that mean?” Tough guy. One thing it doesn’t mean is that our military command in that area has gotten any change of status orders. Maybe, the White House doesn’t know we have a command center out there? Hard to say.
Trump has been busy. Yesterday, he threatened to invade Mexico, and hung up on the Australian Prime Minister. That will show them.
A CNN reporter contacted a department for comment on how some order would affect that agency. Sorry, I can’t remember which one at the moment. The order would directly affect that agency. CNN asked the typical “How?” and “Why?” type questions a reporter would ask to learn more. The department asked “What?” Apparently, they hadn’t been told. The “Who?” was obvious. That would be the White House. I think those folks should be fired (“You’re Fired!) because they didn’t tow the line. Kinda reminds me of the stories of James Brown who would change a routine in the middle of a performance and if a dancer didn’t pick up on it he’d fire them. Ow. Hold me back, Mr. Funky President, it’s Getting’ Too Hot in Here! Yeah. What I say!
It seems more and more clear that Bannon is tightening his control over the president and the levers of power. In a positive note, apparently there’s a law that specifies who has to be on the National Security Committee. It includes some of the people kicked off. It remains to be seen if the president will abide by the law or if like President Mbasogo will ignore it.
As far as the Supreme Court nominee goes, Democrats are divided how to respond. Some say this is a stolen seat and unless the Republicans give Merrick Garland a hearing and vote then they intend to hold the seat open. Other Dems say two wrongs don’t make a right, but give us someone we can vote for. Trump says he told McConnell to suspend the rules of the Senate on the 60 vote threshold and go with a simple majority, known as the nuclear option. This will be an interesting test for the majority leader of the Senate, a place where he has spent most to his life. Will he screw over the tradition and rules of the Senate to get a nominee through or not?
He might be looking at the political landscape and how quickly it is changing. Protests in every state: red and blue, cold and warm, and in cities and towns: big and small. Political representatives are finding their local offices besieged by numbers they have never seen before. There are now polls that show the effect of all this as compared to the Tea Party at its height. The Tea Party at the time of its rise compared to the Women’s March both get about a 60 percent awareness of each movement in the general population with a few percentage points going in favor of the Women’s March. However, when you ask if you are in favor of each movement you get 29% for the Tea Party at its height compared to an over 60% favorability rating for the Women’s March and we are just seeing the beginning of this movement. It hasn’t reached its peak. There are questions of how long can this go on, will people get exhausted protesting? etc. It remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, Rex Tillerson will have his hands full when he gets to the Department of State. Over 1000 State Department personnel have registered their dissent through the official channel for doing so. The point of the dissent channel is that they are guaranteed no retribution. The White House has weighed in – Fire Them! Good luck Rex. At least he has experience with running a large organization.
In Saudi Arabia there’s a music video out with a very catchy tune. Women in burkas are singing, then they are doing all kinds of activities: like riding bikes and wearing day glo colored clothes. What are they singing? Something about “Men are the sickness” and “they are causing us pain” or something like that. The video has taken off around the Mid-East.
There is hope.
Don’t give up the fight.