Meanwhile, Down Here In The Rabbit Hole …

While I very much enjoyed writing my “good people” post for this morning, a quick glance at the news shows me that I must now go back down the rabbit hole.  Sigh.

Yesterday Donald Trump was a very busy man.  He gave the most disgusting speech ever to be given at a Boy Scout Jamboree (see previous post) and then moved on to a campaign-style rally in Youngstown, Ohio where he was equally obnoxious (is he capable of being otherwise?).  Not surprisingly, he spent most of the hour-long speech tooting his own rusty, off-key horn, but there were a few things to note.  I was appalled and somewhat angered to read that he “appeared before a crowd of adoring supporters”.  Adoring supporters???  These are NOT my fellow countrymen!

A few of the “highlights” from his speech:

  • “It’s much easier, by the way, to act presidential than what we’re doing here tonight, believe me. And I said with the exception of the late great Abraham Lincoln, I can be more presidential than any president that’s ever held this office. That I can tell you. It’s real easy.”  Then why don’t you try it, just once?

  • “I’m here this evening to cut through the fake news filter and to speak straight to the American people. fake news. fake, fake, fake news. Boy oh boy, people. Is there any place that’s more fun, more exciting and safer than a Trump rally?” Yes, I’m thinking open heart surgery would be more fun.

  • “Yes, our Second Amendment is very, very sound again. that would have been gonzo. It would have been gone, but I never had a doubt. We support the constitution of the United States and believe that judges should interpret the constitution as written and not make up new meaning for what they read.” Support the 2nd but trample the 1st.

  • “But I think that with few exceptions no president has done anywhere near what we’ve done in his first six months. Not even close. But they don’t let you know. They don’t want to write about it.” Quite right … no president has ever destroyed as much in his first six months as Trump.

  • “And boy, have we put those coal miners and coal back on the map.” Wrong. Coal is a dying industry.

  • “The great president from the state of Ohio, William McKinley and you know William McKinley, does anybody know who the hell he is? Do you know who he is?” Sigh.

  • “Every single President on Mt. Rushmore — now here’s what i do. I’d ask whether or not you think I will someday be on Mt. Rushmore …” Bozo the Clown would stand a better chance.

  • “We are actually liberating towns and cities. We are liberating — people are screaming from their windows, thank you, thank you to the border patrol and to General Kelly’s great people that come in and grab the thugs and throw them the hell out.” Somebody please get the duct tape for this guy’s mouth.

And the pain goes on … and on … and on.  But two other things stood out apart from Trump’s own hateful rhetoric.  First, he called a man from the audience, a man named Gino Defabio, who claims to be a long-time democrat who voted for Trump and says, “I love this guy, this guy’s got something, he’s the real deal. Every one of these people love you, Sir. And I don’t want to sound silly or anything, but i thought what would I say to the President if I ever got to meet him, which this is an honest to god over the top moment for me. I thought you know I’m just going to tell him something. And sir, like I said, thank you for Justice Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. Right?”  It was almost surreal … I have to wonder if he wasn’t a paid actor.

And the second, very disturbing thing, was that protesters were thrown out for nothing more than holding a sign!  Think about this one … it curtails our right to free speech in a most chilling way.  The first protester removed was holding a sign that read, “Trump/Pence Must Go.” Trump watched as police removed the protester and then turned back to the audience, saying “Where the hell did he come from?” The second protester was physically removed for holding a Russian flag. Two other protesters were removed, though I do not know the nature of their “crimes”.  When questioned, a spokesman for the Youngstown police department explained the violation of 1st Amendment rights thusly:

“Those situations can be explosive and we were able to keep everything to a minimum. We use a force continuum. We react to what they display to us. With those gentlemen that had to be pushed and prodded to get them out of the building, they were at a point where they were ignoring verbal commands.”

Folks … think about this one for a bit.  These protesters were doing nothing wrong. They were not being disruptive; they were not yelling obscenities or shaking fists.  They were simply displaying signs and flags to express their opposition to Trump.  We DO have the right to do this!!! The lawbreakers here were the police.  Isn’t it interesting how emphatically Trump and his minions defend the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution while trampling all over the 1st Amendment?  Freedom of the press is being vehemently challenged, and now our rights to stand quietly holding a sign that expresses our opinion is being quashed.  I am suddenly chilled to the bone.

*Time has published a full transcript of Trump’s Youngstown speech for any who can stand to read it.

Good People Doing Good Things – Ariel Nessel and the Pollination Project

Today’s good person, believe it or not, is a real estate developer. I never thought … well, never mind … suffice it to say that there are good and bad people in every walk of life.

The first time the Pollination Project came onto my radar a few months ago, I rejected it after a quick glance, seeing the words “seed grants”, and thinking that what they did was give away money to buy seeds.  That in itself is a noble thing, of course, but I did not feel it provided enough material for an entire post.  The Pollination Project and its founder, Ariel Nessel, however, are persistent and they once more became a blip on the radar this week, when I decided to give them a bit more than a cursory glance.  I am so glad I did!  This organization actually has very little to do with plant seeds, and a whole lot to do with humanity and compassion!  So without further ado, allow me to introduce to you Mr. Ariel Nessel, co-founder of the Pollination Project.

Wed-nessel-1Mr. Nessel is a successful real estate developer in Dallas, Texas, where he purchases older, dilapidated buildings and brings them back to their original condition, or better.  “Through efforts to increase the energy efficiency of our properties and extend their useful lives, we help create housing which is much more environmentally sustainable. By offering yoga classes, after school programs for children, and installing bird feeders, hammocks, water fountains, sculptures, fire pits, and bark parks, Nessel Development endeavors to create a sanctuary of peace for our Residents in an often high-stress world. We endeavor to be generous with the fruits of our labor by making significant donations to charities that promote living that is compassionate, peaceful and environmentally sustainable.” He donates more than 30% of his operating income to charity.  However, it is not his business that I want to talk about today.

In 2013, Ariel and his sister-in-law,  Stephanie Klempner, came up with the idea for the Pollination Project, an organization that makes daily seed grants to “inspiring social change-makers who are committed to a world that works for all. Our daily grant making began on January 1, 2013 and since then, we have funded a different project every single day. We also make larger impact grants of up to $5000 to projects that have demonstrated impact and success.”

The daily $1,000 grants are available for anyone who is sincerely wants to use their resources to improve the world.  There are some qualifications: “One is that everything we support is volunteer based, it’s service based. None of the money we provide can be used to pay yourself for your work. It’s an orientation towards service. Some other qualifications are that we look at … This is early seed. We’re trying to water seeds and not to water oak trees. If you’re part of a larger organization, or any organization that has full-time paid staff, any paid staff, then that would not qualify for the Pollination Project.”

Pollination Project does not merely issue a check for $1,000 based on a good idea and then walk away.  They have a 3-program process that includes:

  • The seed grants – “We make $1000 seed grants to individual changemakers all over the world, helping them launch and expand grassroots social change projects.”
  • Philanthropic education – “We provide educational events, writing and presentations on the topic of innovations in philanthropy.”
  • Grantee Capacity Building – “We provide an assortment of tools, resources, coaching, training, p/r and more to support our grantees in growing their leadership and building their project, far beyond what our seed grant of $1,000 provides.”

In 2015, the Pollination Project teamed up with Levi Strauss & Co. to make seed grants that give a leg up to young people working on environmental solutions all over the globe. The goal is to develop the next generation of global environmental leaders who will conserve, protect, restore and advocate for the ecosystems upon which our civilization depends.

Let’s take a look at some of the young people who have been given a leg up by this joint effort …

Wed-KirstenNine-year-old Kirsten Chavis has been an activist since age five. She explains, “I have been involved in all sorts of outreach and have attended a lot of council meetings, events, fundraisers, and workshops alongside my mother. My experiences range from taking notes in Board Meetings to collecting food for families and running green lessons.” Kirsten runs the Youth Earth Club at her inner city Los Angeles middle school. Her project brings environmental and health education and events to the school’s population of primarily low-income Latino and African American families, including kids with special needs, and kids in foster care. Kirsten’s club teaches kids much more than recycling. “Now kids can tell you about indoor and outdoor composting, e-waste, and different ways of saving water like by turning off the running water while brushing your teeth.”


Wed-JulienBuilding on his experiences with the 4-H Million Trees project, 16-year-old California student Julien Levy founded Seeding Malawi to create an immediate win-win solution to rampant malnourishment among students in Malawi. Julien explained that while he was working in Malawi to establish tree nurseries in schools, the children were so malnourished that “tree planting events had to be in the morning, because they were too hungry and had no energy by the afternoon.” Seeding Malawi is establishing permaculture gardens at schools throughout the country. Participating villages will set aside a football field-sized plot of land on school grounds and students and residents will be given instruction in permaculture techniques. Each garden will provide food for up to 3,000 children, and will also serve as a means of teaching best-practice permaculture and agriculture techniques to youth and the communities they live in.


Wed-donieceA number of the Pollination Project’s grantees have received awards or public recognition, for example Doniece Sandoval who was featured on CNN this June. Doniece Sandoval noted a jump in San Francisco homelessness with an economic downturn. The homeless, many of them elderly, lacked basic amenities like bathing facilities. Determined to help, Sandoval bought old buses and turned them into mobile showers. Her nonprofit, Lava Mae, has since provided more than 20,000 showers to more than 4,000 homeless individuals.


Wed-Ponce-3I was especially thrilled to find that one of my previous “Good People” from May, young Thomas Ponce  received a grant from the Pollination Project!  Life is full of little coincidences.


There are so many great, humanitarian projects that have been helped by the Pollination Project that I wish I could share them all.  In fact, to date, the project has awarded 2,236 grants in 107 nations around the globe.  There is a special East African hub that is led by a team of local change-makers who are also Pollination Project grantees themselves. Their goal is to reach geographically and technologically marginalized grant applicants (with no internet access, no computer skills and limited English).

wed-east-africaThe types of programs the Pollination Project supports are widely varied:

  • Animal Rights & Welfare
  • Arts & Culture
  • Economic Empowerment
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Health & Wellness
  • Human Rights & Dignity
  • Kindness & Generosity
  • Leadership Development
  • Schools & Education
  • Youth

Unfortunately, I cannot begin to cover all the great projects that have begun with just a $1,000 grant from the Pollination Project, but their website  is a veritable treasure trove of information, including a brief summary of all the projects they have funded and the impact they have had all over the world.  $1,000 is not a lot of money, but it is amazing to see what it can do in the right hands.  Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of help, and knowing there is somebody who believes in you.

Hats off to Mr. Nessel, the Pollination Project, and all those beneficiaries who are going the extra mile to help make the world just a little bit better place for us all!

doffing-hat

Art From The Holocaust

Last week, a new art exhibit opened in the German Historical Museum in Berlin. Its title? Art From The Holocaust. A blogger who I only discovered yesterday, thanks to Rob Goldstein, has written a beautiful tribute to this exhibit, complete with some wonderful pictures. This is a bit outside my normal subject matter, but I thought it was very tasteful and beautifully written, and I wanted to share it with my readers. Many thanks to artinmanyforms for this post, and for permission to share!

artinmanyforms

A new exhibition in Berlin explores the grim realities of life for Jews in Nazi camps and ghettoes.

A historic new exhibit, Art from the Holocaust, opened in the rear wing of the German Historical Museum in Berlin last week. For the first time ever, art from the collection of Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Museum is being shown outside in Germany. The exhibit features 100 works, mostly drawings and paintings, by Jewish inmates of labour camps, ghettoes and concentration camps. Many of the works portray the dark realities of day-to-day life in Nazi imprisonment. The fact that the works survived to the present day is, in most cases, a miracle: many were hidden or smuggled out at great risk by friends of the artists.

The show, which is timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel, comes at a moment of…

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A Tale Of Trump And The Boy Scouts

The crowd at the latest Trump rally was different from other crowds at previous rallies.  They were children.  Children who ranged in age from 7 to 18.  They were Boy Scouts who belong to an organization that promotes the values of good citizenship and service to others in the community.  Their oath is:

“On my honor, I will do my best. To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”

For 80 years, American presidents have been speaking to the National Scout Jamboree, a gathering of tens of thousands of youngsters from around the world eager to absorb the ideas of service, citizenship and global diplomacy. In keeping with the Scouts’ traditions, all eight presidents have stayed far, far away from partisan politics. But as we all know, Trump prides himself on not being politically correct, on not showing respect for anyone, and yesterday was no exception.  Apparently Donald Trump forgot where he was and to whom he was speaking, for his speech to the 2017 Boy Scout Jamboree resembled nothing more than a campaign rally.

A few snippets:

  • “Tonight, we put aside all of the policy fights in Washington, D.C. — you’ve been hearing about with the fake news and all of that. I said, who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts? Right? ” Remember this one …

  • “You know, I go to Washington and I see all these politicians, and I see the swamp. And it’s not a good place. In fact today I said we ought to change it from the word swamp to the word cesspool or, perhaps, to the word sewer. But it’s not good. Not good.”  What a way to instill respect for government, huh?

  • “Secretary Tom Price is also here. Today Dr. Price still lives the Scout Oath, helping to keep millions of Americans strong and healthy as our Secretary of Health and Human Services. And he’s doing a great job. And hopefully, he’s going to get the votes tomorrow to start our path toward killing this horrible thing known as Obamacare that’s really hurting us, folks. He better get them. He better get them. Oh, he better — otherwise, I’ll say, Tom, you’re fired. I’ll get somebody. He better get Senator Capito to vote for it. You got to get the other senators to vote for it. It’s time. After seven years of saying repeal and replace Obamacare, we have a chance to now do it. They better do it.” Remember that these are children he is addressing, some as young as seven!

  • “As the Scout Law says: “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal” — we could use some more loyalty, I will tell you that.”  His definition of loyalty may differ somewhat from the one used by the boy scouts.

  • “By the way, what do you think the chances are that this incredible, massive crowd, record-setting is going to be shown on television tonight? One percent or zero? The fake media will say: President Trump — and you know what this is — President Trump spoke before a small crowd of Boy Scouts today. That’s some — that is some crowd. Fake media. Fake news.”

  • “Now with that, I have to tell you our economy is doing great. Our stock market has picked up — since the election November 8th. Do we remember that date? Was that a beautiful date?  What a date. Do you remember that famous night on television, November 8th, where they said — these dishonest people — where they said there is no path to victory for Donald Trump?” Again, remember the age group … did you care about the stock market when you were 10 years old?

  • “The polls — that’s also fake news. They’re fake polls. But the polls are saying — but we won Wisconsin. So I have to tell you what we did, in all fairness, is an unbelievable tribute to you and all of the other millions and millions of people that came out and voted for Make America Great Again.”

  • “And by the way, do you see the billions and billions and billions of additional money that we’re putting back into our military? Billions of dollars. New planes, new ships, great equipment for our people that are so great to us.” By all means, Donnie, let’s encourage them to put warmongering above feeding the poor.

  • “And by the way, under the Trump administration, you’ll be saying, merry Christmas again when you go shopping. Believe me. Merry Christmas. They’ve been downplaying that little, beautiful phrase. You’re going to be saying, merry Christmas again, folks.” Guess it never occurred to him that some of these kids might be from Jewish or Muslim families???

  • “We’ll be back.” Doubtful.

In addition to the above, he told a long, pointless story about the real-estate developer William Levitt and alluded to “interesting” activities he engaged in on his yacht. The story is too wordy to repeat here, but you can read the transcript of his speech if you wish.

For some, it was reminiscent of a Hitler Youth rally.

At the very least, it was vile and highly inappropriate.  If I had a son who had been there, I would be incensed, as I imagine many parents were. One mother wrote, “Done with scouts after you felt the need to have my kid listen to a liar stroke his ego on our time.” Interestingly, a post on the Jamboree’s blog had warned troops to be “courteous” and refrain from chanting phrases like “lock her up”.  Apparently somebody realized in advance how Trump was likely to behave.  Even so, that did not prevent the audience from applauding Trump’s partisan attacks and even booing when he mentioned Hillary Clinton. Indoctrination, anyone?

Franklin Delano Roosevelt used the occasion to talk about good citizenship. Harry S. Truman extolled fellowship: “When you work and live together, and exchange ideas around the campfire, you get to know what the other fellow is like,” he said.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower invoked the “bonds of common purpose and common ideals.” And President George H.W. Bush spoke of “serving others.” Trump destroyed that norm. His speech was widely and swiftly condemned by former Scouts.

“As a Scout leader, my stomach is in knots about what Trump did today. If you haven’t watched it yet, don’t. It’s downright icky.” – Chris Murphy, Connecticut

“This is nauseating. I’m an Eagle Scout and a former scoutmaster. The BSA was never partisan.” – Dan Kennedy

Beyond Bad Manners …

Given the abysmal hate speech that is so frequently engaged in by Donald Trump, I should not be surprised to see that others in the Republican Party are following suit.  Values, kindness, tolerance are all principles that few in the party have managed to maintain in this Trump-era.  But the latest, to me, qualifies as an all-time low.

 

That, folks, was U.S. Representative Mo Brooks from Alabama. And yes, he stooped so low as to attempt to profit by using the tragic shooting of his fellow congressman, Representative Steve Scalise, in his political advertisement.  When I heard he had done this, my jaw dropped and my first thought was, “are there no limits?  Is there no shame?”  And the answer to those questions, of course, is “no”. Wondering if perhaps I was simply being overly sensitive, I went in search of the reactions of others.

“The day of the shooting, while waiting at the hospital, I avoided the news/audio/video as much as possible. This makes my stomach turn.” – Brett Horton, Scalise’s chief of staff

“I guess some people have their own ideas about what’s appropriate.” – Chris Bond, spokesman for Scalise

I expected outrage from some of Brooks’ fellow members of Congress, but I found none.  I guess I should not be surprised at this point, to find them all either completely lacking a conscience or else too lacking cojones to say what they think.  But the outrage from the public was what I expected …

 

When asked if he would consider removing the ad, in light of the criticism, Brooks responded …

“The truth is always appropriate. It’s one thing to talk about defense of the Second Amendment, it’s another thing to have lived through an assassination attempt and to reaffirm your commitment to the Second Amendment right to bear arms.”

Brooks is currently running to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions.

Let us also remember that Mo Brooks was the one who, earlier this month, said of the Senate health care bill, “My understanding is that it will allow insurance companies to require people who have higher health care costs to contribute more to the insurance pool. That helps offset all these costs, thereby reducing the cost to those people who lead good lives, they’re healthy, they’ve done the things to keep their bodies healthy.”

You know … Trump & Co., along with some number of republicans have eschewed ‘political correctness’ and Trump himself has said, “I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct. I’ve been challenged by so many people and I don’t, frankly, have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time, either.”  I see political correctness as nothing more or less than politeness.  We are all well aware that Trump has neither the inclination nor, I believe, the ability to speak rationally, to speak with kindness and compassion.  His supporters have chosen to not only accept that character flaw, but to embrace it.  But why does that mean that the rest of the GOP must follow suit?

In my opinion, every member of Congress needs to speak out against Mr. Brooks’ terribly poor taste, poor judgment, his downright cruelty.  If they do not, then they are as guilty as he.  And to the good people of Alabama:  If you do not stand against this man, if you elect him to the Senate, then you get what you deserve.  Sadly, you also subject the rest of the nation to it.

Scaramucci Strikes …

“With Scaramucci, Trump is going to war – with the media, with the truth, with America.” – Scott Reid, Canada’s Globe and Mail, 22 July 2017

Newly appointed communications director Anthony Scaramucci made the talk show rounds over the weekend.  If I thought this man was a pandering ‘operator’ before, I am now convinced.  He is a highly paid mouthpiece for the egomaniacal Donald Trump and whatever comes out of Trump’s mouth on a given day will be the party line for that day.  I shall treat Scaramucci as I do Trump … believing not one single word that he says.

One example sums it up quite well: “He’s {Trump] one of the most effective communicators that’s ever been born, and we’re going to make sure that we get that message out directly to the American people.” An effective communicator???  He cannot even string a simple sentence together, repeats himself constantly, and makes up words as he goes along.  Based on his communication skills, I would rate him at about a 5th grade level!

In case that didn’t convince you that Scaramucci is a boot-licker, let us see where else he traveled and what else he had to say over the weekend.

His first interview after being named communications director on Friday was with alt-right media outlet Breitbart.  That in itself should tell you something.  In his interview with political director Matt Boyle, Scaramucci said, “One of the things Breitbart has done is you’ve captured the spirit of what’s actually going on in the country. We have enough outlets, whether it’s Breitbart, the president’s social media feed, all of the different apparatus that we have, where people will allow us to deliver our message to the American people unfiltered. We’re having a rough time with the mainstream media, but last time I checked during the campaign we were having a rough time with the mainstream media and the people see through it.”

Then on Sunday, he made the rounds, starting with CNN’s State of the Union with Jake Tapper.  This is only a snippet, but I was proud of Tapper — he held Scaramucci’s feet to the fire and had Scaramucci stuttering more than a few times. You can read a transcript of the full interview here.

Scaramucci: “Listen, there’s obviously a communications problem, because there’s a lot of things that we have done as it relates to executive orders, bills that have been signed, economic progress.”  Progress???

Scaramucci: “You know, somebody said to me yesterday — I won’t tell you who — that if the Russians actually hacked this situation and spilled out those e-mails, you would have never seen it. You would have never had any evidence of them, meaning that they’re super confident in their deception skills and hacking.”

Tapper: “Well, you’re making a lot of assertions here. I don’t know who this anonymous person is that said, if the Russians had actually done it, we wouldn’t have been able to detect it, but it is the unanimous…”

Scaramucci: “How about it was — how about it was the president, Jake? And he basically said to me, hey, you know, this is — maybe they did it. Maybe they didn’t do it. And I’m going to maintain for you — hold on a second.”

And then, on to the really important things …

“So, Sarah Huckabee is the president secretary [sic]. If you’re asking me for my personal opinion — and maybe the president will be upset for giving my personal — we should put the cameras on. That’s no problem. I don’t think we need to have the cameras off. But if the president doesn’t want the cameras on, guess what? We’re not going to have the cameras on. It’s going to really be up to him. But I think we should put the cameras on. … The only thing I ask Sarah — Sarah, if you’re watching, I loved the hair and makeup person that we had on Friday. So, I would like to continue to use the hair and makeup person.”

Then Mr. Scaramucci moved on to Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace …

“One of the first things I want to do, as was just mentioned, we got to get the leaks stopped, Chris. … So my three simple things is I would like to reset the culture inside the comms department so that people recognize that I’m actually there to serve them, and they’re going to be working with me, not for me. That’s a very big distinction. And that all of us are there to serve the President of the United States and his agenda.

If we don’t get the leaks stopped, I am a businessperson, and so I will take dramatic action to stop those leaks. And then the third thing is I’ll be traveling with the president this week and we’re going to focus and refine the messaging from the White House. He’s one of the most effective communicators that’s ever been born, and we’re going to make sure that we get that message out directly to the American people. And I think that arbitrage* spread, the gap between how certain people think of him and how I see him, or say like someone like Ivanka sees him, that will start to narrow so.”

  • the meaning of “arbitrage pertains to the buying and selling of securities or other assets … not sure how it applies here

Full interview transcript

And last but not least, he visited CBS’ Face the Nation with John Dickerson …

Dickerson: “What happens to leakers on your watch?”

Scaramucci: “They’re going to get fired. I’m just going to make it very, very clear, okay? Tomorrow I’m going to have a staff meeting. And it’s going to be a very binary thing. I’m not going to make any prejudgments about anybody on that staff. If they want to stay on the staff, they’re going to stop leaking. If the leaks continue, we are strong as our weakest link. And I’ll say it a little differently in a pun. We’re strong as our weakest leak. So if you guys want to keep leaking, why don’t you guys all get together and make a decision as a team that you’re going to stop leaking? … But if you’re going to keep leaking, I’m going to fire everybody. It’s just very binary*.”

  • Binary relates to a numerical system using a base 2 rather than base 10. Again, I’m not sure how that applies in this context.

Full interview transcript

wavy-line

In sum, Mr. Scaramucci intends to do Trump’s bidding, right or wrong, and to hell with building a relationship with the press, to hell with the people’s right to know what is going on in their government. For the sake of our free press, the backbone of our democracy, we better all hope that those who are willing to be “leakers” have the courage, to continue to do so.  It may well be that they are the heroes of the day.

In the words of the aforementioned Scott Reid, “Mr. Scaramucci is in his new post not because he will offer superior counsel or elevated strategic skills. He is not in because he will better manage a frothing, manic press gallery. Or shape a stronger, more coherent defence of Mr. Trump’s agenda. He is in because he will fight to his last breath – without question or contest …”

Heeeeere’s MONDAY!!!

 

Here we are once again, yet another fine Monday morning!  I always look forward to these Monday mornings … I do so enjoy finding things to bring smiles to your faces.  Last week, Colette and Jack really enjoyed the apple, but a few others were disappointed and I had to promise my friend Steve extra donuts this week!  So grab a treat or two … hey Steve – leave a few for the rest of the gang!!!  Here … have some coffee … sit back and get ready for a chuckle or two!


Green beer, Green Eggs & Ham, and now ….

Imagine, if you will, the surprise Louise Sutherland experienced last week when, assisting her 3-year old golden retriever, Rio, give birth, one of the puppies came out … GREEN!

Monday-green puppyI will let Louise tell you the story in her own words …

“The first pup was stuck, so myself and my daughter Claire managed to free him and pull him out safely. It was all hands on deck but then as the puppies started to arrive, we noticed that one of the puppies had green fur. We couldn’t believe it. When we checked it out later we found out it is very unusual and to do with the placenta. The colour has faded quite a bit already and will be gone soon, I’m told. We’ve named him Forest.”

Monday-green puppy-2Turns out that, while very rare, this has happened before.  In 2014, two puppies from a litter born in the Spanish province of Valladolid were born green. The breeder, Aida Vallelado Molina, said, “I thought the puppies were dirty and tried to clean them, but the colour wouldn’t come off.”  And in 2012, a green Labrador puppy was born in England.

The green colour is caused by a bile pigment called biliverdin that is found in the placenta of dogs which can stain the puppy’s coat.  In the past cases, the colour has faded within about 10 days.  Too bad … I think a green dog would be quite the novelty!

Monday-green puppy-toon


A fool and his money …

Two stories about shoes lead me to think, not for the first time, that some people have much more money than they have good sense.  Take a look at this pair of shoes and tell me what you think the price tag might read:

Monday-shoesSo what’s your guess?  $15.99 would have been mine … and that is about $16 more than I would pay for them anyway.  But no, you are wrong … no, not $100 … nope, not that either.  The price for this pair of uncomfortable-looking shoes is $799!

“The Birkenstock classic Arizona model has been recreated in the finest imbued and oiled natural leather in navy blue for this designer collection. The sterling silver buckles; which originate from the metalwork studio of jewelry designer Patrik Muff; are the highlight of the luxury sandals,” the product description reads.

But wait … if you thought that was bad …

Monday-shoes-2This is the “Future Destroyed High-Top Sneaker” sold by upscale retailer Neiman-Marcus.

“Maison Margiela deconstructs their “Future” high-top sneaker with heavy distressing. Leather and textile upper. Round toe. Lace-up front with side lace guards. Logo patch at tongue. Padded collar. Cushioned heel counter. Rubber outsole. Made in Italy.”  Retail price?  $1,425.

Sigh.  And for those who would purchase these shoes, why not pair them with these jeans from Nordstrom that come with pre-caked mud … for a mere $425!!!  Insta-grunge!

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I recently saw this headline:  Neiman Marcus considers sale in wake of financial woes.  Gee, I wonder why?  And by the way … the ‘pre-destroyed’ shoes … have sold out …


When life hands you lemons …

Make lemonade, right?  A lemonade stand run by kids on a hot summer day is almost as iconic as … as … oh heck, I don’t know – it’s just iconic, okay?

Monday-lemonadeAndre Spicer helped his 5-year-old daughter set up her lemonade stand last Saturday in the east London borough of Tower Hamlets.  The little girl was having great fun and was quite successful in her venture, as there was a concert nearby, and many on their way to the concert were charmed by the little girl’s smile and purchased her lemonade.

But then … then came the cops …

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“The lemonade quickly disappeared and her little money tin filled up. A happy scene. And then, after about 30 minutes, four local council enforcement officers stormed up to her little table,” said the senior Spicer.

The charge?  Operating the lemonade stand without a trading permit.

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After being informed that he would be fined £150 ($194 USD), Mr. Spicer sent a message to the council stating he “realized there were broader issues at stake, including how society treats children.”  Ultimately all charges were dropped and an apology tendered:

Monday-lemonade-3“We are very sorry that this has happened. We expect our enforcement officers to show common sense, and to use their powers sensibly. This clearly did not happen, The fine will be canceled immediately and we have contacted Professor Spicer and his daughter to apologize.”


Which one of these parts does not belong? …

Monday-dog-engineLidiane Braga Carlos of Campo Largo, Brazil had been out running errands one day last week and was on her way home when her car suddenly started spluttering and ground to a halt.

“My car just died in the middle of the street and suddenly didn’t want to work anymore so I pulled over to pop the hood and take a look. When I opened the bonnet and saw the dog I almost had a heart attack. ‘The poor little thing was very scared and I called the fire department straight away but before they arrived we managed to get him out. I’m so glad he didn’t get hurt. I took him to the vet but thankfully he was all okay.”

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Lidiane is currently caring for the dog at her home and hopes it’s owner will come forward to claim him.


Dumb … Dumber … Dumbest

David Blackmon, age 32, of Fort Walton Beach in Okaloosa County Florida called police to report a theft on 16 July.  Nothing too unusual there, right?  The stolen items, however, included $50 cash and a bag of cocaine that he claims were stolen from the center console of his vehicle.  Now … how dumb is it to call the cops to report a stolen bag of a highly illegal substance?  Pretty dumb, but it gets even dumber, for it turns out that David is a drug-dealer.  And to add insult to injury, the police found an assortment of drugs and drug paraphernalia in various locations throughout the car.  And dumbest of all … they police found the cocaine David claimed had been stolen, right where he said it was stolen from … in the center console!

David was charged with resisting an officer without violence, possessing drug paraphernalia and possessing cocaine, a felony charge.  He is currently out of jail on $4,000 bail, but I think this guy seriously needs to spend some time … somewhere … perhaps school?  But apparently David is not the only one …

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And so concludes another Jolly Monday together.  I am sad to see you go, but you must go do useful things so you can get a paycheck, and I must go fold yet more laundry and cut up some veggies for tonight’s Pasta Primavera, one of my favourite dishes to make!  If you do just one good thing today, let it be to share that gorgeous smile you have with somebody who needs one.  So go forth and be productive … keep safe and try to stay cool.  Have a happy week!!!

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That extra 1/4 mile will get you a ticket!!!

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This one’s for you, Steve!

Is It Possible That President Will Fire Sessions And Mueller While Congress Is In Recess?

One of my favourite bloggers, Gronda Morin, is supposed to be on vacation in order to recover from a bad case of “trump-itis”, but while soaking in the sun and surf, she simply cannot stay away from the fray! Today she poses a very interesting question … merely a speculation … but of late we have learned that even our wildest imaginings can become reality. Take a minute, if you will, to read Gronda’s post and think about this purely hypothetical scenario. Many thanks, Gronda, for both the post and permission to share!

Gronda Morin

AFP AFP_QS1EX A GOV USA DC TRUMP/ SESSIONS

THE FOLLOWING COMMENTARY IS SPECULATION ONLY.

Anyone who reads my blogs knows that I am not into conspiracy theories I don’t comment on them unless it is a matter of fact checking to tag a claim as being false.

But I have a fellow blogger Crustyolemothman who is very worried about a lot of chatter that he has been hearing/ reading about how the republican President Donald Trump plans to fire the US Attorney General Jeff Sessions while Congress is in recess.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday (7/20/17) brushed off the public sharp criticism rendered by President Trump during his 7/19/17 interview with New York Times reporters. The president complained  about Mr. Sessions decision to recuse himself from any participation in the Justice Department’s Russia investigation, saying he loved his job and planned to continue serving. So, the attorney general did not bite the president’s bait…

View original post 1,051 more words

If Dr. Trump Were Your Surgeon …

As my long-time readers know, New York Times writer Nicholas Kristof is among my favourite editorial writers. While it is not my habit to copy an entire column, this one was simply too good to pass up!  Mr. Kristof has written a very humorous piece on Donald Trump and health care. I think you will find it both funny and relevant.

It’s a dark and stormy night, and the hospital corridor is eerily illuminated by lightning flashes as Dr. Trump and Dr. McConnell enter a patient’s room and approach the bed of a young woman, Janet.

“We have the best health care plan ever for you!” Dr. Trump says exultantly, to a thunderclap outside. “Tremendous! I’m the best! I take care of everybody.” He uses his stethoscope to listen to Janet’s heart, and frowns slightly.

“Er, doctor?” Janet says. “I think my heart is on my left side, not the right.”

“Let me double-check,” Dr. Trump replies, and he hurriedly moves the stethoscope over. “Who knew health could be so complicated?”

He looks into Janet’s eyes, holds her hand in his own, and says in a silky voice, “Beautiful Janet, you’re in such great shape.”

Janet, creeped out by the doctor’s inappropriate bedside manner, pulls back her hand and tightens her gown around her neck. Dr. Trump doesn’t notice and continues: “Your heart is a disaster. You need a new one, and that’s why we suggest a transplant. We don’t happen to have a replacement ready for you, but never mind.

 “Normally we do ‘remove and replace,’” Dr. Trump adds. “But in this case, if we can’t settle on a replacement, we’ll just do a flat removal. Nothing to worry about. Huge benefits. Huge!”

Dr. McConnell tries to smile reassuringly, but succeeds only in looking constipated. “Once your heart is out,” he explains, “there’ll be new urgency to solve the problem.”

Janet’s eyes have grown wide, so Dr. McConnell attempts reassurance: “Anyway, I’ve never found a heart necessary.”

Janet bites her lip. “You know, you’re the only doctors who ever said my heart had to come out,” she says. “My previous cardiologist, Dr. Obama, tweaked my diet and medications, and it was ticking along fine.”

“NO, it’s a disaster!” Dr. Trump bellows. “That Obama — it’s all his fault. Don’t listen to any other doctors!”

“I just want to be informed,” she says softly.

“Horrible idea!” Dr. Trump says, and then he pats his pockets down. “What did I do with my phone? I have a thought for a great tweet: ‘A closed mind is a terrible thing to waste.’ I know I had my phone during my last surgery, because I tweeted, and then I set the phone down — oh, no! I bet I left it ——”

“In the operating room?” Janet asks.

“In the patient.”

Janet gulps, and her anxiety increases as a peal of thunder is followed by a shrill alarm sounding from a patient’s room somewhere down the corridor. Very politely, she explains that maybe she doesn’t want surgery after all.

“Fine!” replies Dr. Trump. “Go ahead and die. Your heart is failing. It’s a disaster. And it’s all their fault.”

“Pardon?”

“It’s the Democrats,” Dr. Trump says, and a flash of lightning captures his eyes rolling crazily. “We may be running the hospital, but they’re to blame.”

“Don’t you have any other patients you need to see?” she asks. “And maybe you should put that scalpel down?”

“Don’t you see?” Dr. Trump says, as a thunderclap shakes the hospital. “You’re going to die anyway. All Obama’s patients are dying. I’ve always said, let the patient fail.”

“But I’m not failing,” Janet replies firmly. “I’m fine. Just a little nervous watching you with that scalpel.”

Dr. Trump shakes his head. “No, you’re imploding,” he insists. “I can see it. You’re self-destructing.”

“Help!” Janet calls out. “I can’t breathe.”

Dr. McConnell looks sadly at Dr. Trump. “I knew this would happen. But maybe it’s time to move on so we can work on our hospital tax plan? You know, if we just make the medical assistants and custodians pay a surcharge, we can give a break to surgeons. The result will be a leap in innovation that will benefit everybody.”

“Help!” Janet cries weakly.

Dr. Trump looks down at her and shakes his head as she lies gasping. “So sad but inevitable,” he says. “She was bound to implode. Always going to fail. That’s what happens when you get a Kenyan-born doctor. The patient dies on her own.”

“But, but,” Janet tries to speak, “the problem is that you’re stepping on my oxygen hose. You’re the problem.”

Dr. Trump steps more firmly on the hose. “Poor Janet is imploding right in front of us. Democrats created the mess. We’re not going to own it. I’m not going to own it.” He checks for a pulse, finds none, and doesn’t realize he’s checking in the wrong spot. “O.K., Dr. McConnell, I’m just going to FaceTime my buddy Vladimir, and then on to the tax plan?”

“Take my heart,” Janet moans in her last breath, and a thunderclap drowns out her death rattle. “You need it.”

If Dr. Trump Were Your Surgeon – Nicholas Kristof, 20 July 2017

The Worst Is Yet To Come – Part II

In the beginning … waaaaay back in the early stages of the 2016 presidential campaign, I thought Trump’s candidacy was a joke.  A bad joke, to be sure, but a joke all the same.  I kick myself now, but not too hard, for political pundits with far more experience in these matters than I, made the same mistake.  I genuinely thought that Trump’s candidacy was nothing more than a publicity stunt, something to keep his name in the headlines.  And then, on the night of November 8th, 2016, when it became obvious that Donald Trump was winning this election, I truly thought that he was as surprised as any by his win.  They say a fool is born every minute … well, I lay claim to the minute of 3:12 a.m., 06 June 1951!

I no longer think that Trump was surprised, but rather I think he would have been surprised if he had lost.  There is not a doubt in my mind but that Donald Trump worked through his campaign staff and family to collude with none other than Vladimir Putin and the Russian government to ensure his win. There is too much smoke for there not to be a fire, and Trump himself exhibits signs of guilt every day.  But mine is not the opinion that matters.  What matters now is cold, hard evidence that Trump either assisted the Russian government or, at the very least, was aware of their efforts and remained silent.  And that onerous task belongs to special counselor Robert Mueller and his team of investigators.

Mueller, selected for the position of Director of the FBI by President George W. Bush in September 2001, has earned the respect of members of Congress, both republican and democrat.

“I think the best advice would be to let Robert Mueller do his job.” – Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan

“I don’t think it’s going to influence Bob Mueller’s work one way or another. I’m pretty confident just knowing him and knowing the way he conducts himself he doesn’t wake up in the morning and read those things and have them impact his ability to do his job. He’s going to do his job.” Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio

“It sort of looks paranoid to me. If he fired Bob Mueller, I think you’d see a tremendous backlash response from both Democrats but also House Republicans.” Republican Representative Michael McCall.

Robert Mueller III is well-respected across party lines.  He is considered a man of honour and has cultivated a reputation for independence and fairness throughout his career.  Yet Donald Trump claims that he and his investigators have ‘conflicts of interest’ and Trump’s lawyers and aides are “scouring the professional and political backgrounds of investigators hired by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, looking for conflicts of interest they could use to discredit the investigation — or even build a case to fire Mr. Mueller or get some members of his team recused.”

Former Whitewater prosecutor Ken Starr praised Mueller at length. “I don’t think there’s a legitimate concern about Bob Mueller,” Starr said, explaining that the former FBI director was “honest as the day is long.”

Thus far, it appears that the ‘conflicts of interest’ Trump’s lawyers and aides are looking into are centered around the fact that Mr. Mueller interviewed with Trump for the position of FBI Director that was vacated when Trump fired Director James Comey.  I see no reason why this would create a conflict of interest, nor do most of the legal analysts whose opinions I have read.  The other things they are looking for are donations to Democratic candidates and investigators’ past clients.

Although Mueller is still hiring investigators just one month into the probe, these are a few of the people who so far comprise his team:

  • Aaron Zebley, Mueller’s chief of staff when he was FBI director
  • James Quarles III, former Watergate investigator
  • Jeannie Rhee, former deputy attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel
  • Andrew Weissmann, DOJ criminal fraud section chief
  • Michael Dreeben, DOJ’s deputy solicitor general

You can read more in-depth background of each of these people here.

Several among them have, in fact, made campaign contributions to Democratic candidates including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.  However, according to Justice Department rules, making a campaign donation does not constitute a ‘personal or political relationship’ that would be considered a conflict of interest.

It seems to me that any attempts on the part of Trump associates to discredit Mueller’s team this early in the investigation are strong suggestions of Trump & Co having something to hide.  An interesting article in The Washington Post shows Trump’s response vs how a president who had nothing to hide would respond to some of the tough questions.  I am not alone in my speculation:

“It’s early in the game to begin to impugn the prosecutors,” said Philip Allen Lacovara, a Watergate prosecutor and a Republican. “It’s a pre-emptive nuclear strike. If you’re afraid of what the prosecutors are going to find out, you try to debunk anything they might come up with in advance by attacking them.”

Unlike Trump, Mueller knows how to keep quiet, and has imposed “stringent controls to prohibit unauthorized disclosures that deal severely with any member who engages in this conduct.”

Tuesday morning on Good Morning America, Newt Gingrich  blasted Mueller and his still-forming team. “These are bad people,” Newt Gingrich told George Stephanopoulos. “I’m very dubious of the team.”  Every person listed above is highly qualified, and as far as I can tell, have no dark skeletons in their closet.  The continued negativity from Trump, his lawyers and his aides certainly do lead to perceptions of guilt.

So, would Trump fire Mueller?  Who knows … the man is a loose cannon and anything is possible, though it would, in the minds of most, be as good as an admission of guilt and would have the potential to take him down the same road Richard Nixon walked some 40+ years ago.  However, there are differences.  We currently have a Congress, the majority of whose members appear to be blindly dedicated to Trump.  And Trump has no conscience … none at all.  I cannot predict what will happen, but I certainly hope, for the sake of our democracy, that this investigation is allowed to continue unfettered.  Stay tuned …