Saturday Surprise — Fun Animal Stories & Pics

It is finally Saturday, and time for Saturday Surprise.  I know you all have Christmas activities … shopping, baking, parties, shopping, decorating, wrapping, shopping, cleaning, and … did I mention shopping?  So, I really appreciate you taking a bit of time to spend here on this busy Saturday morning.  Like you guys, I have most of the listed activities to do this weekend also, so this morning’s Saturday Surprise may be a bit shorter than usual, but I just couldn’t let you guys down after the week we’ve all had!  If there is one thing I have learned since I started this feature, it is that one can never go wrong with cute or funny animal stories and pictures, so that is what I chose for today!

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This first story is about an orange cat named ‘George’.  We have an orange cat.  His name is … wait for it … “Orange”.  Yes, Miss Goose named him when she was 3 years old.  Anyway, back to George.  George’s housemate is Meloney Blayze from Petts Wood, south east London. Apparently Meloney is in the habit of letting George out the kitchen window early in the mornings to explore in the garden, and then, leaving the window open so he can return when ready, she returns to bed

One morning last week, when Meloney got up later in the day, as she passed George’s bed, she says she found herself thinking “hmm, those are not the cat’s ears”.  A return to the bed and a closer look revealed not George, but a fox had come through the window and was happily occupying George’s bed.  George was none too happy and was hissing at the fox, who, according to Meloney, was “acting like another member of the family who had been there for years and was confused about what all the fuss was about”.

Fox-1Ultimately, Meloney picked up the bed and dumped the fox out the window, restoring order once again.

Fox-2I just had to share this one comment from a reader on Bored Panda

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This next story reminds me of something I would do, being possessed of both a soft, squishy heart and near-blind eyes.

Eric and grandmaWhen Eric Hertlein went to visit his grandma in Kansas, he already knew she would have an array of cats, for she could never resist taking in a stray (gee, why does that sound familiar?)  Sure enough, there were three there at the time.  But wait!  One of those cats looked … oddish.  On closer inspection, Eric discovered not a moggie, but an opossum!  Even as Eric pointed out that the ‘cat’ was not, in fact, a feline, grandma “reassured me it was one of her cats.”  She had named this one Tete.

Tete-1Once Eric convinced grandma that Tete was, in fact, an opossum, she was nonchalant … “Well, he hasn’t bothered me yet, so I’m OK with him being here!”

Tete-2And once again, I loved this comment

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And I will end with some funny animal pictures. These are some of the winners of the  Funniest Wildlife Photos Of 2017.  The first one is a series of four pictures, the rest are singles.

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HELP!

dormouse

The Laughing Dormouse

Hitching a ride

Hitching a Ride

WTF

WTF???

Again, I am orry about this one being a short post, but with only nine short days until Christmas, we all have plenty we need to be doing. Try to relax and enjoy whatever you do today, keep safe & warm, and have a wonderful weekend!  Hugs ‘n love from my house to yours!

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The Real Meaning of Populism …

France did not want Marine LePen and the Netherlands didn’t want Geert Wilders, so they have teamed up and taken their act to the Czech Republic.  The event is the meeting of the rightwing Europe of Nations and Freedom group and is being hosted by the anti-Islam Freedom and Direct Democracy party (SPD). The conference is largely symbolic for the Czech SPD party, a means of raising awareness for the populist movement, justifying the movement by showing that the populist movement has a voice in Western Europe, and an attempt to legitimize populism in the Czech Republic.

It is not my intent, nor is it in my ability, to analyze politics in the Czech Republic.  It is, rather, my intent to briefly take a look at the populist movement itself, as it spreads its tentacles ever outward.

By definition, populism is, briefly, “support for the concerns of ordinary people”.  Sounds okay, looks good on paper, but the reality is something altogether different, as we have seen in the U.S.

Donald Trump rode the waves of populism all the way to the Oval Office, but as we have seen, by the above definition of populism, not one single thing he has done fits the definition.  Granted, Trump is a case-study in and of himself in the art of lying.  But other populist politicians are equally unconcerned with the ‘ordinary’ person, yet call themselves populist.  So, what does populism really mean? Consider these examples:

  • Donald Trump in the U.S., wants to deport undocumented immigrants and ban all Muslims from the Middle East.
  • Podemos, the populist Spanish party, wants to give immigrants voting rights.

  • Geert Wilders, the populist Dutch politician, wants to eliminate hate-speech laws.
  • Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the populist Polish politician, pushed for a law making it illegal to use the phrase “Polish death camps”.

  • Evo Morales, Bolivia’s populist president, has expanded indigenous farmers’ rights to grow coca.
  • Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines’ populist president, has ordered his police to execute suspected drug dealers.

A study in contrasts, yes? It is not a term that is easy to pin down, as evidenced by the many books that have been written in the attempt:

  • What is Populism by Jan-Werner Müller
  • The Populist Persuasion: An American History by Michael Kazin
  • The Populist Explosion by John B. Judis
  • The Global Rise of Populism by Benjamin Moffett
  • The Populist Moment by Lawrence Goodwyn

And the list is seemingly endless.

Müller’s book, published September 2016, is highly rated, and claims that populism is not just antiliberal, it is antidemocratic—the permanent shadow of representative politics.  It seems to me that, in its purest form, strictly applied by the definition at the start of this post, it would be a highly democratic and humanitarian ideology.  But, in the world of today, populism is primarily, I believe defined by a single word: plutocracy.

All a leader needs to do is find that which his people fear, play on those fears, expand them, then promise to keep them safe from said fears.  In the case of the U.S., as in a number of European nations, that fear was terrorism. Ever since the Arab Spring began in 2010 and many in the Middle East were forced to flee their homes with little more than the clothes on their back, the West has been taking on these refugees.  But, leaders and politicians quickly learned that if they equated these refugees with the word “terrorism”, or in some cases, “radical Islamic terrorism”, they could instill fear into the hearts of their populace and people would gladly follow any leader who promised to end immigration from the Middle East.

But really, that is all these leaders, such as Trump, need to do, and they can then proceed with their own agendas, just so long as they keep doing their best to “protect” their citizenry from “those terrorist Muslims”.  And so, we are left with a Donald Trump who has attempted to rob tens of millions of their ability to afford healthcare in order to further enrich the big insurance companies; who has set the wheels in motion to destroy the environment in order to further enrich the coal and oil barons; and who has promoted tax reform to cost each of us “ordinary people” hard-earned money in order to further enrich the nation’s mega-corporations. And as long as he promises his travel ban to keep Muslims out, and keeps on promising to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border to keep those “murderin’, rapin’ Mexicans” out, even though he knows the wall will never be built, he can keep on being Robbing Hood. This then, defines the populist movement as well as any.  It could be called, more aptly, the plutocratic movement, or a move toward governance by a handful of the wealthiest.

Oh sure, Trump throws out an extra bone to his followers every now and then, like a promise to pad the courts with uber-conservatives in order to eventually overturn Roe v Wade.  Or a reduction in food stamps and social services that are unpopular with many in the middle income brackets. Promise them whatever they scream the loudest for, then get back to the business of crafting legislation to make the top 1% happy, for those are the ones who truly matter, those are the ones who line his own pockets.  It is no different in the rest of the  Western world.

Voters in Today in the U.S., we have the wealthiest Congress in recent history, and thus it is in their personal best interest, rather than to serve as a check on the president’s power, to speak out of both sides of their mouths, promising their constituents one thing, while licking Trump’s boots from the other side.

France, Austria and the Netherlands, I firmly believe, looked at what was happening in the U.S. and came to understand that this populist thing was not all it was cracked up to be.  However, there is still a large contingent in those nations, as well as other European nations, and even Canada I recently discovered, that are supportive of the populist ideology, and have not yet realized that it is a veneer for a deeper, more destructive platform. As my old friend Shafer used to say to me, “Be careful what you wish for, as you just might get it”.

The REAL War on Christmas …

Whereas I typically awaken with a smile on my face, this morning I awakened with a sense of dread, without knowing quite why.  I moved through my morning chores with no sense of joy, with no song in my heart, and by the time I was ready for my first ‘sit-down’ break, I was near tears … still no idea why.  And then, bless their hearts, the guys over at The Washington Post gave me my first clue …

“Breaking News: FCC repeals net neutrality rules in sweeping act of deregulation”

No surprise there … the five commission members are presidential appointees … they are not elected, had no incentive to please anybody but Trump.  I knew the result before WaPo confirmed it, yet I still felt a rock in my stomach and tears pooling in my eyes as I read the news.

Then there was this from NPR …

“Republicans Reconcile House And Senate Versions Of Tax Deal”

But the icing on the cake, the straw that broke the camel’s proverbial back, was this from a friend’s blog …

“President Trump on Thursday hailed the Republican tax plan as a ‘big, beautiful Christmas present’”

Of course, he said that over a month ago, and I had heard it before, but today was probably not the day I needed to be reminded of it and after more than a few choice words, I truly almost put my fist through a window.  I do not want any Christmas present from Donald Jerk Trump beyond his resignation, effective immediately.  A Christmas present should not cost one thousands of dollars, as this tax bill will cost me and most of you.  A Christmas present should not ruin Christmas, as this has done for me.

But wait … fate and angst still wasn’t finished with me, for as I perused my morning email, there was this:

screen shotBelow the picture read:

“Christmas is meant to be shared with close friends and family, and what better way to spread the spirit than by signing the Official First Family Christmas Card.

Wish President Trump, First Lady Melania, and the rest of the First Family a very Merry Christmas with a personal message before December 23.

We know the President would love to see your name, Jill. It’s you he’s fighting for every day in office.

So please, sign the Official First Family Christmas card today.

Thank you,

Team TRUMP”

Now, if you think that didn’t complete my black humour, then you don’t know me too well.  I have been unable to write, for my fingers couldn’t hit the right keys … couldn’t even write an email that I much wanted to write to a treasured friend, couldn’t eat, folded clothes with such a vengeance I put a hole in a towel.

Back on the campaign trail last year, Trump began talking about “ending the war on Christmas”.  At first, I was puzzled as to what, exactly, he meant.  Part of it, of course, is that strange illusion some of the Christian faith have that everyone should go ‘round saying “Merry Christmas” at this time of year, and those of us who may say, “Happy Holidays” instead should be smited. Personally, I do not care if you say “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Hanukah”, “Joyous Kwanzaa”, “Happy Holidays”, or just a simple “Hi, how are you” or “Have a nice day”.  As long as you aren’t cussing me, I’m happy. I. Do. Not. Care.  Those who are offended need to remember that, while the Christian religion may be the majority in this nation, the nation is a secular one, and there are many who are of other faiths.  In this nation, there are Jews, Muslims, Jains, Buddhists, agnostics and atheists, to name a few.  Why would you impose your religion on the rest of us?

More to the point, however, there is no war on Christmas!  The war is on everybody else! Allow me to quote a tidbit from a Washington Post article:

“There is no war on Christmas. But there is a war on Jews, led by the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville in August, carrying torches and chanting “Blood and soil” and “Heil Trump” and “Jews will not replace us!”

And there is a war on Muslims, fueled by our commander in chief, who sees nothing wrong with trying to ban Muslims from entering the United States or fanning the flames of hatred by retweeting unverified and inflammatory videos of purported Muslims doing despicable things.”

The war on Christmas?  Trump fired the first shot when he took office and began taking away the things that matter to us.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am having to really work hard at even the appearance of having Christmas spirit this year.  The other night, my granddaughter, for whom I would lay down my life, said to me, “Grannie, are you even a little bit excited about Christmas this year?” My family, though not of the Christian faith, has always loved this season.  I bake almost daily for friends, neighbors, my daughter’s co-workers.  We love our decorations, the candles, and the tree.  Enjoy choosing just the right gift and then wrapping them to look ever so special.  But this year, none of that … not a bit of it … matters.  But still, when Miss Goose asked me that question, I donned a smile (I hope it didn’t look like a grimace) and said, “Oh yes, absolutely!  And tomorrow I shall dig through my closet and we shall begin to decorate!”  And inside I cried.  I did dig through my closet, and we did decorate.  Last night I even did a little in the kitchen, making Muddy Buddies for Miss Goose and a cheeseball for daughter Chris.  And this weekend we will get our tree, shop for the Significant Seven, and I shall do stocking shopping and some baking.  But inside, I cry.

Donald Trump has robbed us of Christmas this year.  That, my friends, is the real “war on Christmas”.

Good People Doing Good Things … Three Amazing Kids

Have you ever noticed that for some reason, people seem kinder around this time of year?  People just seem more willing to open both their wallets and their hearts during the Christmas season, and I don’t see it as a religious thing, for many of the most generous people are not Christians.  There is just a certain magic that comes from the lights, the scents, the sounds, that makes people feel better.  This week’s ‘good people’ post begins with a young man who shows us his “Christmas Spirit”.


Jayden Perez – age 8

His name is Jayden Perez and he is 8 years old, living in Woodland Park, New Jersey.  Not long ago, Jayden told his mom that he wanted to donate all his Christmas gifts this year to the children in Puerto Rico who lost everything to Hurricane Maria in September.  But his mom, Ana Rosado, gave him the idea of taking it a step further and starting a toy drive to collect toys for the children of Puerto Rico, and that is what Jayden, with a little bit of help, did!  His mom helped to get the word out by posting about the toy drive on her Facebook account, and the response has been overwhelming!

  • A man in Pennsylvania donated a trailer-load of toys
  • NBA manager Brandon Eddy sent 11 large boxes full of toys
  • And of course people from the neighborhood did their share, too

Jayden was even featured on ABC News’ Good Morning America.  Jayden and his mom will be flying to Puerto Rico to distribute the toys to several small cities that were hit hard by Maria, and also to an orphanage that needs help.

Jayden-1.jpg

There are many good people in this story, but it all started with a little boy who wanted to give away his own Christmas presents to help others in need.  Thumbs up, young Jayden … keep up the good work!


Jameshia Attaway – age 14

Jameshia Attaway of Indianola, Mississippi turned 14 years old this month.  Since her birthday is so close to Christmas, she has a unique way of celebrating … she gives all her gifts away — and then some!  It all started six years ago when Jameshia was eight years old and in third grade.  She noticed that a girl in her school wore shoes with holes in them. “Children made fun of her,” said Jameshia. “I told my mother that I wanted to buy her a pair of new shoes.” She then realized that many other kids were in need of help, too, while every year she was “overwhelmed” with birthday gifts. So she decided that she could “put on a smile on my face and theirs” by giving her gifts away.

In the six years since that first philanthropic deed, Jameshia’s project has expanded and she now begins preparing in November for the huge birthday bash she throws for local children in need. She writes letters to local businesses and civic groups to garner donations of toys and food, and contacts agencies that provide services for people in need. She also asks family and friends to make gift boxes, teachers to read to children who attend the party, and her mother’s friend to dress up as a princess.

JameshiaThe hardest part, Jameshia said, used to be finding a place large enough to hold the party, but the mayor of her town now allows her to host the event in a city-owned building. She estimates that about 40 local families benefit from her project every year. In addition to her annual party, Jameshia participates in a wide variety of community service projects with her school’s PTA, the Indianola Youth Council and a mayor’s diversity council.

Two years ago, Jameshia was awarded the Prudential ‘Spirit of Community Award’,  at a national award ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Remember, if you will, that this young woman is only 14 years old!  She has already accomplished, in the past six years, barely half of her young life, more than many of us accomplish in an entire lifetime! I don’t know about you guys, but I am humbled.


When I began this post this evening, I had a direction in mind … people giving because of the holiday spirit.  But, as sometimes happens, the stories had a mind of their own and took me down a different path than I first saw, and I stumbled across so many young people doing good for their communities, that the piece changed focus without my realizing it.  So often we despair about the youth of today, wonder what the world will look like when this next generation with their droopy drawers and ‘all about me’ attitude is in charge.  But if these young people are any indication, I think we will be just fine.  Read on …


Deoshanic Petaway – age 15

Homicides hit a ten-year high in the small town of Lima, Ohio last December, much due to an increase in gun violence.  Enter Deoshanic Petaway, age 15, who wasn’t about to sit idle while young people were being killed in her community.

deoshanicDeoshanic started working with an organization called CeaseFire Lima, hoping to help find a solution to the violence at its root cause, so that violence and conflict could be resolved before becoming a life or death situation. What Deoshanic and the group discovered was the story that we are hearing across much of the U.S. today … many community members felt that individuals were arrested or hassled by police without cause.

To help create communication between the police and community members, Deoshanic created a community dialogue space for youth and police to discuss their perspectives and build understanding of one another.  Imagine that, folks … a 15-year-old girl advocates for communication as a solution … darn, why didn’t we adults think of that???  Working together with the Chief of Police, City Council members, and her peers, Deoshanic began raising money for body cams for the police officers and for awareness of the safety issues within the community for both police and community members.

To create safe spaces for youth, Deoshanic hosts events, including a Halloween event. For the holiday season, Deoshanic planned a Christmas party in partnership with the Walmart Foundation, United Healthcare, the Lima Police Department, the Lima Public library, a local church, and other youth groups that provide food and toys to children in need. Under the guidance of the West Ohio Foodbank, Deoshanic and Ceasefire Lima’s youth group created Lima’s first youth-led food pantry, the only pantry that has weekend access.

Deoshanic additionally helped establish the Lima Junior City Council so that youth can have a voice in policies that affect their community. By collaborating with other community groups, Deoshanic has demonstrated that change has a greater impact when everyone comes together.


All three of these young people deserve our respect and a round of applause.  They obviously come from families with true values, not the faux values of those whose words do not match their actions.  And all three of these kids are going to make this world a better place, mark my words.

I began with a story about a young man who wanted to help the displaced youth in Puerto Rico, and I would like to end with a reminder, and perhaps even a plea.  In September, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico with a vengeance, doing far greater damage than any of the other devastating hurricanes this year.  More than 60% of Puerto Ricans remain without electricity or running water.  This will be a bleak Christmas for the residents of Puerto Rico, and especially for the children.  I ask that you remember them, for they have been largely forgotten by their own government.  And if you can find it in your heart, if you can find a few spare dollars in your wallet, please do what you can to help make Christmas just a little bit brighter for these children.

Thank you all, and remember, my friends, the majority of people on this planet truly are “Good People” … they just get overshadowed by the other variety. Hugs and Love from my home to yours.

Robbing Hood … on Net Neutrality

Dear Readers,

Today is Wednesday, and time for my weekly “Good People Doing Good Things” feature.  I apologize, but I am delaying that feature until tomorrow (Thursday) morning.  As I mentioned yesterday evening, I planned one more post in my series about the most important and imminent issues facing us this week, and this one is about net neutrality.  Since the vote is to be tomorrow, I felt it imperative to get this post out as early as possible, and I knew I could not do both posts by 3:00 a.m., for I have indeed promised that I would have an early bedtime tonight.  So, I hope that you will understand my decision, and I do promise the ‘good people’ post on Thursday.


This year, the federal government under Donald Trump and a republican-led Congress, has a theme.  The theme of 2017 is: Robbing Hood: Rob From The Poor, Give To The Rich. If there is any way for the wealthy and big corporations to squeeze another nickel from We The People, they are going to give it their best shot.  They came for our healthcare, they’re trying to raise our taxes, and now they are coming for our internet.  Time to fight back, folks.

The vote on reversing net neutrality rules is scheduled for tomorrow, December 14th, and it is almost certain to pass along party lines.  Let us start with some basics.

What is net neutrality?

paiNet neutrality is a term used to describe a set of regulations that ensure all information flowing over the internet is treated equally. It means companies cannot block websites or offer certain companies faster loading speeds for money. In a simple sentence, the reversal of net neutrality will mean corporate domination of the internet, pure and simple.

The FCC under President Obama implemented the set of regulations known as net neutrality.

Who is the FCC?

The FCC, Federal Communications Commission, is made up of five commissioners appointed by the sitting president. The current chairman is Ajit Pai, who was appointed to the commission under President Obama at the recommendation of Senator Mitch McConnell.  Trump appointed Pai to the position of Chairman after taking office in January.

What does it all mean for me and you?

Example:  You want to watch the movie Lord of the Rings on Netflix.  Simple, right?  You pay a flat monthly fee, usually either $7.99 or $8.99, and in return you can watch unlimited movies, television shows, etc., free of commercials.  Not a bad deal … certainly better than the $120 we used to pay for satellite service and still had commercials!  So, you go to Netflix, select Lord of the Rings, and sit back to watch your … hey, wait a minute … why is it taking so long?  Oh, there … now it’s starting.  The credits roll and … it freezes up and there is an annoying circle going round and round in the center of the screen.  You give up and call Netflix.  They tell you that they are working on the problem.  The first of the month comes, you receive your Netflix bill for $18.99 … and … WAIT A MINUTE!!!  That’s $10-$11 more than I agreed to!  Well guess what.  In order to stream your movies at the speed that actually allows you to watch them, Netflix had to pay millions of dollars to Verizon and/or Comcast, and so they are now passing that cost on to you the consumer.  You’ve been ROBBED.

Or … that app I have called Mighty Text, that sends all my phone notifications such as text messages, Twitter messages, Facebook notifications, chat & email notifications, along with phone calls and text voice mail directly to my computer screen so that I can read and respond on my laptop where I can see them better?  Um … I cannot access it any more because the developers of Mighty Text were small potatoes and couldn’t afford to pay AT&T to keep it accessible, so AT&T blocked it.  I have been ROBBED

The internet survived without net neutrality before net neutrality, some would argue.  I would agree but … we are living in a different world than we were five years ago, a different universe, as it were.  Corporate greed has become the numero uno killer of common sense in the U.S., and where there can be found another way to enrich the already-rich at the expense of the poor and working class, the elderly and the infirm, they will find it and they will use it.  Before I close, let me give you one more example.

You want a new pair of Skechers running shoes.  You know exactly what you want, you know precisely what size you want.  You work all week, clean house all day Saturday, and who feels like going shoe shopping on Sunday, right? But who needs to, for there is the internet and there is nothing that cannot be found on the internet.  So, sit down, Google “Skechers running shoes turquoise size 6 women’s”.  You get a number of hits within moments, and you go to the first one.  Wow … I don’t remember them costing that much when I bought the last pair, but that was 5 years ago.  Check out the 2nd and 3rd hits, still over $60.  So, pick one and order the shoes … $60 won’t break the bank, now will it?  No, but guess what, friends?  You’ve been ROBBED For there were a number of online stores that sell those exact same shoes for $39.99 plus tax, but Google did not direct you to those stores, for they did not pay for the privilege of being ranked high enough to show up when you searched.

I wrote about the reversal of net neutrality in July in a piece titled TRUMP & PAI SET TO WRECK THE INTERNET  I was concerned then, and I am more so now, for I have seen the current administrations cold lack of concern for We The People in other areas, and I have received the message loud and clear that, “You The People” do not matter.  Our future on the internet boils down to five people tomorrow:

  1. Ajit Pai – Chairman
  2. Mignon Clyburn – Commissioner
  3. Brendan Carr – Commissioner
  4. Michael O’Rielly – Commissioner
  5. Jessica Rosenworcel – Commissioner

George Orwell thought the world would change in 1984.  It would actually happen 33 years later, in 2017, and not for the better.  I cannot say how much, if any, good these online protests do, but in this case, I’m willing to make the effort, to take the 60 seconds to fill in my name, rank & serieal number, if it sends my currently barky voice straight to the ear of Ajit Pai and presents my message loud and clear, so I include this link for any who are interested.

Thus concludes my “List of Four” hard-hitting critical issues of the week.  Thank you for your patience, my friends, thank you for listening, for acting where you could, and for sticking together.  We are, in fact, all of us in this together and we must … we simply must … continue to make our voices heard, else we have lost before we left the starting gate.  Love ‘n hugs, my friends.  Love ‘n hugs.

Is The Mueller Investigation In Danger?

The investigation by Robert Mueller began by Trump’s own hand.  When, on 09 May 2017, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, he set the wheels in motion for the appointment of a Special Counsel, for the firing looked suspicious from the beginning.  According to Comey, Trump had asked Comey to pledge his loyalty to Trump, and had also requested that Comey drop the investigation into Michael Flynn’s activities as related to the Russian interference in our 2016 presidential election.  Comey refused on both counts. So, Trump instigated, unknowingly and unwittingly, the appointment of Robert Mueller.

Robert Mueller has conducted his investigation in the most professional manner, selecting his team members carefully to ward off any question of impropriety, and even relieving one of duty when he allegedly sent text messages to his girlfriend that were critical of Trump.  There has not been so much as a breath of scandal from any of his team, no leaks, nothing inappropriate.  He has operated, as he must, under a cloak of silence.  However, when Michael Flynn pleaded guilty as charged, and others were either indicted or pled guilty, including George Papadopoulos, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, it became impossible to keep everything under wraps, and it was obvious that Mike Flynn was willingly cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.

All of this sent panic throughout Team Trump, and now we are seeing some pushback from Trump’s minions who are running scared and when they get scared, they turn to lies, insinuations, conspiracy theories and unjustified attacks, for they have no legitimate grounds to counter the reality that in all likelihood, Donald Trump himself was responsible for much of the Russian attempts to skew our election.

So, what is happening and why does it matter?

Critics, especially among the state-media such as Fox, Breitbart and the Wall Street Journal, (it should be noted that Fox and the Wall Street Journal are both owned by Rupert Murdoch, a large donor of Trump’s)  have been calling for Mueller to be fired almost since day #1, so it may be easy to just write off the latest as just more smoke and mirrors from Trump and his paid media outlets. But the tone and frequency has increased, as the panic level among Trump & Co. rises.  A few examples …

  • “Mueller is corrupt. The senior FBI is corrupt. The system is corrupt.” – Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House
  • “There is a cleansing needed at the FBI and Department of Justice. It needs to be cleansed of individuals who should not just be fired but need to be taken out in handcuffs.” – Fox host Jeanine Pirro
  • A conservative watchdog group has filed a lawsuit to pry loose information about special counsel investigators.
  • “A witch hunt continues against the president with tremendous bias, no purpose and no end in sight.” – Representative Matt Gaetz
  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders signaled that the White House has concerns that the special counsel might be biased against Trump.

It should be noted that these are vague attacks, with no basis in fact, not attacking anything that Mueller has done or failed to do, just that he must be corrupt if he is investigating Trump. Mueller’s investigation and the criminal charges he has brought so far appear solid and do not suggest any partisan bias. In fact, it should further be noted that both Robert Mueller and James Comey are registered republicans.

What could happen next?

Could Trump fire Mueller?  Of course … he could order Rod Rosenstein to fire Mueller, or if Rosenstein refused, he would be forced to resign just as were Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus when they refused to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox.  But, going down the line of succession, Trump would ultimately find someone willing to sacrifice values and fire Mueller, just as Solicitor General Robert Bork fired Cox.  So, the answer to the question is yes, Trump can have Mueller fired.  What happens if he does?

John Q. Barrett, a St. John’s University law professor, says “Robert Mueller is widely perceived as a competent and credible law enforcement official. As long as he doesn’t do something to jeopardize that, Trump would have no justification for dismissing him. And if he did, he’d have to appoint an equally credible replacement, or there would be really catastrophic political consequences.”

Comforting, but still, with both chambers of Congress in control of the republicans and seemingly willing to do Trump’s bidding these days, I would rather not put Barrett’s theory to the test.  I think the investigation has passed the point of no return and cannot be shut down, but it could certainly be delayed, and I think it is imperative that we know the truth, and the sooner the better.

Keep your eyes on the ball, folks, for I cannot predict where this will go.  Ordinarily, I would say that a president would be a damn fool to fire the Special Counsel at this point, for it would be a blatant admission of guilt.  But these are, as we all know, not normal times and Trump is not a normal ‘president’.  When he panics, he is irrational … wait, he is irrational at all times!  So, if he feels threatened enough, I do not know what he might do.  Remember that there are many distractions and smokescreens out there, so don’t be distracted, and try to keep up with the critical issues.

Note to readers:  I initially identified three areas that I felt had to be addressed post haste, the Alabama senate election, the tax reform bill reconciliation, and the attacks on the Mueller investigation.  I have since been advised by at least three readers, and granddaughter Miss Goose, that I need to include a fourth topic, Net Neutrality, to the list.  You are all correct, and I shall address that one tomorrow.  For tonight, Filosofa is 10-7, over and out.

Tax Bill Reconciliation?

Members of Congress have been busy as little beavers, trying to bring the House and Senate versions of the ‘tax reform bills’ together into a single bill for Trump to sign.  They seem to be in such a rush that they do not have time for such things as facts and credible analyses.  They remind me of the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland who is looking at his pocket watch, repeatedly saying, “I’m late, I’m late …”

What’s the rush?  Well, first of all, they are under pressure from Trump and from their rich donors to “get ‘er done”.  More to the point, while the budget was extended for two weeks, that is a very short time to prepare a spending bill, get the necessary votes, reconcile the House and Senate versions, and get it signed.  Look how long the tax bill is taking, after all! Thus, a government shutdown still looms.  So, I understand the rush, but … both of these bills are so terrible that neither deserve consideration, and to completely disregard the facts, to ignore every likely outcome, is destined to do far more harm to the people of this nation than it will benefit them.  Let us take a look …

Today, the Department of Treasury, under the ‘leadership’ of Trump’s handpicked Steven Mnuchin, issued its “Analysis of Growth and Revenue Estimates Based on the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance Tax Reform Plan”. The tax bills are filled with fallacies and fantasies that are far more appropriate for children’s storybooks than for government policies.  Let us begin with the claim by Congress that the gigantic tax cuts for the wealthy will pay for themselves.  The Treasury Department report itself debunks this myth, as have a number of independent and non-partisan groups before this.  The plan will cost an estimated $1.5 trillion in lost revenue from major corporation and wealthy taxpayers, and is only projected to generate an additional $408 billion in additional revenue from growth.  Thus, the deficit would be more than a trillion dollars to add to our already astronomical national debt.

Treasury analysisBut, that isn’ even the worst of it, for that $408 billion in additional revenue is fallacy #2.  It is based on the assumption that all those large corporations that are saving all that money will reinvest it into solvent enterprises that will a) generate corporate tax dollars, and b) employ people who will pay taxes.  In short, it is based on the fantasy of ‘trickle down’ economics, which I have written about previously, and which has been de-bunked and proven wrong so many times that it should not even enter into the equation.  The Treasury report makes an assumption, based on this marvelous falsehood about trickle down economics of a sustained 2.9% growth rate per year over the next ten years.  Ain’t gonna happen, folks.

There are certain rules for the reconciliation process, one of which is called the Byrd Rule.  The Byrd Rule requires all provisions in the bill to be funded by revenues, and they cannot increase the deficit beyond the 10-year budget window. Obviously, neither version of the current bills being considered could pass either stipulation in the Byrd Bill, nor even come close.  That, in itself, should send them scurrying back to the drawing board for something more reasonable.

Thus far, most of the republicans in Congress still support basically whatever outcome the committee reconciling the bills comes up with, but there are some who are beginning to look at the deficit numbers and have concerns.  One such Senator is Susan Collins of Maine, who says she is as yet undecided, and has laid out certain conditions that would determine her vote, including assurances that federal Medicare payments will not be cut and that Republicans will support two separate health care bills aimed at reducing premium costs.  Far too little, and she does not even mention the deficit, but if it keeps her from voting in favour of the bill, then it’s a start.

While the increase to the national debt is the most important fallacy of these abominable bills, the impact on the average citizen must also play a role.  I did some quick and dirty math earlier today and determined that my own household would be left with a deficit of some $2,500 dollars at the end of next year.  Not a huge sum, perhaps, but still … I cannot call this a tax ‘cut’ by any stretch of the imagination. It means that we will be tightening our belts and spending less money next year, contributing less to the economy.

Now, putting this all together, if the Senate finds a way around the Byrd Rule, and if Susan Collins and the rest are somehow convinced to vote ‘aye’, here is what I see happening.

  • Median earners will have less disposable income, for they will be able to claim fewer deductions, thus effectively raising their tax rate. With less disposable income, they will spend less money on non-essential goods and services.  There goes that 2.9% growth rate, folks.
  • As consumers spend less and less, and fewer people have healthcare because the individual mandate will be gone, the economy will actually begin to lose ground, rather than grow. The national debt, therefore, will increase even faster than the Treasury Department predicts.
  • As the national debt increases, as the economy takes a hit, quarter after quarter, consumer confidence will wane and people who are already struggling will slow their contributions to their 401(k) plans, further reducing economic growth and further increasing the national debt. It is at this point that I look for a hug dip in the stock market.
  • The stock market increase in the past year has been unnatural and largely without a solid foundation. It was built on consumer confidence that stemmed from the lies coming from the administration.  When/if it dips very much, look for a recession.  And then, POP goes the republican bubble.

Now, my analysis is an over-simplification, and there are far too many variables to consider in this short post.  Plus, I am not an economist.  But common sense should tell us all that one cannot build a castle on a foundation of hot air, and that is precisely what Congress is trying to do.  There is no long-range view that has been taken, the immediate goal simply being to pass a bill that benefits all the ‘right’ people, for mid-terms are coming up in less than a year and members of Congress need to get those campaign donations coming in.  Besides that, the pest in the White House keeps calling and asking where the bill is, for he is sitting at his desk, pen in hand.

Thus concludes this bedtime story that is worthy of being included in the Grimm’s Book of Fairy Tales, for it is, indeed, a grim tale.

Three Events That Will Change The Face Of The Nation … Forever

I begin this post today with angst, with  trepidation, with a sense of impending doom, though I hope that doesn’t sound an overly dramatic statement.  Why?  For I did a coin toss to decide which of the very important, time-sensitive pending issues it was most important to tackle in this post, and I concluded that there are three issues that simply cannot be pushed aside even for a day.  And while I do not delude myself into thinking that my humble small blog is going to change the outcome of any of the three issues, I know I must try … I have to try, else I might just as well quit even writing this blog.  And so, I will either tackle all three in this single post, or if it becomes unwieldy, I will be putting out extra posts today.

What are the three issues?

  1. The Alabama race for the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions
  2. The “tax reform bill” now being reconciled by Congress
  3. The increased attacks on Special Counselor Robert Mueller and his investigation

The Alabama Senate race is tomorrow, and although I have written several times before, I believe one final push must be made, a final attempt to awaken the voting public in Alabama to the evils of Judge Moore, who is, as I understand it, once again leading in the current polls.

The tax reform bill is being shoved, rushed, and pushed with no regard for accuracy or errors, no regard for outcomes, only regard for giving Donald Trump an empty shell of a “win” and pleasing the wealthy who would just as soon oppress the rest of us.

And as Bob Mueller and his team are getting closer to the truth, and as it becomes nearly impossible to keep details under wraps, Trump & Co. become increasingly panicked, and it is beginning to look very much as if we may end up with another Saturday Night Massacre in the very near future.

So, these three topics cannot be relegated to my “later this week” bin, but must be tackled today, These three things combined have the potential to set us on a very rocky path, one which leads in the opposite direction of what our Founding Fathers envisioned for this nation. If there is any hope that I can reach people who might just stop for a moment and think, then I must at least make the effort.  So, with a newly-opened box of Keurig coffee pods, 5 packs of cigarettes freshly rolled, and a box of tissues by my side, let us begin.


Roy Moore … UNFIT to set foot in the Capitol

Tomorrow is the big day in Alabama, and it appears that, while some Alabama voters are … a bit disturbed over all the credible accusations by women who Moore almost certainly sexually abused from his position of power as District Attorney, they are by and large willing to either a) overlook and ignore Moore’s pedophilia and sexual abuse, or b) discredit the women who, as young girls, were too afraid to come forth and tell what Moore had done to them.

Note that the women, who do not know each other, tell basically the same tale of abuse and degradation, and they are credible.  Also note that there are no less than nine … nine … such women who suffered as teens at the hands of this so-called ‘man’ of power.  Note, too, that former deputy district attorney Teresa Jones, a former colleague of Moore’s, said that back in the day, it was common knowledge that Moore, then a district attorney in his 30s, dated high school girls.  The evidence that has mounted paints Moore as a sexual predator and a pedophile and is insurmountable.  Alabama voters must surely realize the truth!

As if that weren’t enough, there are, as I have written before, plenty of other reasons to believe that he is not senate material.  As a judge, he was removed from the judicial bench … not once, but twice!  Why?  For refusing to uphold the law that he was sworn to uphold.  For putting his personal ‘beliefs’ ahead of the law of the land.  Not once.  TWICE!  Roy Moore is a ‘man’ without values, a ‘man’ without a moral compass, a ‘man’ without a conscience.  And any … I repeat ANY … person who votes for him, is also a person without a conscience, but rather one who is casting their lot with the evil which they claim to eschew.

We all know that democrats stick together, and republicans even more so, right?  Well, it speaks volumes that Alabama’s other republican Senator, Richard C. Shelby, does not support Roy Moore’s candidacy.  When Moore asked Shelby, the state’s senior senator and fellow republican, for financial backing last month, Shelby’s response was …

“I told him he could raise it himself, you know, like I did, you know, like everybody else. He thrives on controversy, seems to me. And I think you can’t be a formidable, effective senator if you’re so controversial your colleagues avoid you, I think Alabama deserves better.”

It is equally telling that the Republican National Committee in Alabama withdrew their support of Moore, then suddenly, without explanation, returned it last week.  And most telling of all is that another sexual predator named Donald Trump has given his full support to this candidate.  This past weekend, Trump held a rally where he sung Moore’s praises, and then recorded a ‘robocall’ to rally Alabama voters to support a pedophile for Congress.

Okay, Alabamans, listen up!  What is your option?  A sane democrat, perhaps?  A man who is known for protecting civil rights.  A man who re-opened that infamous 16th Street Baptist Church bombing case from 1963 in which four young girls were murdered by KKK klansmen who were let off scot-free with a wink and a nod?

And meanwhile, Moore, like Mount Vesuvius, continues to spew lies.  He claims, with bumbling ineptitude, to not know these women …

“I do not know them. I had no encounter with them. I have never molested anyone. When I saw the pictures on the advertisements of my opponent, I did not recognize any of these people.”

“These people” were children, teenagers at the time, nearly forty years ago, so it stands to reason that Moore would not recognize them on sight. Moore admitted to Sean Hannity last month that he dated young girls years ago, yet claims that he does not recognize any of the women.

“I’ve stood up for moral values, so they’re attacking me in that way. When this race is over, on the 12th of December, it will be over. It’s inconceivable to think that someone would wait 40 years because they were embarrassed or ashamed or something, and then less than 30 days before the general election, come out and make allegations – and then appear on a political advertisement, when they’ve waited 40 years not to be embarrassed.”

And already, even before the election, he is giving us reason to believe that he has no intention of upholding the laws when he says …

“I would want judges who recognize that Roe v. Wade, although it has been around since 1973, is not the supreme law of the land because it contradicts the right to life given to us in our founding documents.”

Yes, Roe v Wade IS the law of the land, as the Supreme Court of the United States ruled it so.

Roy Moore places himself and his own personal religion before the laws of the nation, before the good of We The People.  If he wins this election, it says more about the people of this nation than it says about Moore or Trump.  It says that the people of this nation have lost their way, have forgotten, if they ever knew, what is truly important. If Roy Moore is elected tomorrow, Alabamans must hang their heads in shame and embarrassment.

Monday? Already? Jolly!!!

Good Monday Morning and welcome, once again, To Filosofa’s Jolly Monday!  In the interest of keeping you jolly, I will not mention that Christmas is exactly two weeks from today and that there is very little time left for you to finish your Chrsitmas shopping, bake cookies & other treats, make a cheeseball, wrap afore-mentioned presents, address & mail cards, decorate the tree, hang the mistletoe, and plan your Christmas dinner.  No, friends, it would just stress you, so I will not mention any of that!  I will, however, mention that I baked fresh treats for you this morning, so help yourselves!  And now, let’s find some fun things to start our work week out, shall we?

After Christmas, I swear I am cutting back on these snacks, for every week somebody requests something else.  The latest request was to add milk!  I love you guys, but I am not running a bloomin’ restaurant!


Do you make homemade pizza at home?  We do, for I do not care for frozen pizza, and it’s pricey to order a delivered pizza, though we do that sometimes also.  But we make pizza at home once or twice a month.  It isn’t hard, just a bit time-consuming with cutting onions, peppers, mushroons, chicken, pineapple (always use fresh!), but not hard at all.  Well, the astronauts on the International Space Station have a bit more difficulty, as you might imagine, but watch this short clip, for they have a system and it looks like they have a lot of fun with it, too!


One day not long ago, we were walking into one of our favourite restaurants when a group came out and advised us against going in, saying they waited twenty minutes and never so much as saw a server.  We reversed course and decided we had better things to do, so we went elsewhere, but we speculated about what might have happened.  I jokingly said that perhaps a serial killer came in and murdered all the staff in cold blood.  Well, we checked the news the next day and no such thing had happened, but now I think I might know what did happen.

Waffle House

Alex Bowen, of Columbia, South Carolina, had been drinking and was, in his own words, ‘pretty inebriated’ when he decided to visit his local Waffle House restaurant at 3:00 a..m. for a bite to eat.  He went in, waited about ten minutes, but nobody came to take his order.  So, he wandered back to the kitchen area and found the lone employee … asleep!  Well, Alex was hungry, had his heart set on a sandwich, so he set to work and made himself a Texas bacon cheesesteak melt and then even cleaned up after himself!  He went out to the dining area to eat, left the employee sleeping, and returned later in the day to pay for his food!  Not only considerate and enterprising, but honest too!

Alex-BowenA spokesperson for Waffle House said in a statement. “We are reviewing this incident and will take appropriate disciplinary action. In a related note, obviously Alex has some cooking skills, and we’d like to talk to him about a job since we may have something for him.”  Anybody care to guess what position might just open up?


How old were you when you stopped believing that Santa really brought all those presents?  I officially stopped believing when I was 8 and asked for an electric typewriter and a piano, so my parents sat me down and explained.  But unofficially, I quit believing long before, however it was to my advantage to let them carry on the myth, for I learned that if you asked your parents directly for a race car set (no, I did not do ‘dolls’ – I did cars and horses), you were likely to get socks and underwear.  But if you asked ‘Santa’ for a racecar set, you got a racecar set, for Santa wouldn’t dream of giving you socks and underwear.

One precocious six-year-old was told to write a letter to Santa for a school assignment, and here is the letter he wrote:

Dear Santa,

Santa I’m only doing this for the class. I know your notty list is empty. And your good list is emty. and your life is emty. You don’t know the troubles Ive had in my life. Good bye.

Love,

Im not telling you my name.

His mom couldn’t resist posting it on Twitter, with an explanation …

“My 6yo Santa skeptic was told to write a letter to Santa at school. So he did. PS – the ‘troubles’ in his life? His brother. Don’t call child services.”


I occasionally eat a Pop-Tart, though I mostly only like the ones with brown sugar and cinnamon, and rarely eat them at all.  But, I have never even once considered putting condiments upon the pastries.  I suppose if I were to put anything on them, it would be peanut butter, for I put that on everything, and even in my oatmeal.  But somebody in Illinois happens to like mustard on his Pop-Tarts.  I say, ‘so what?’ and don’t care at all, so long as he doesn’t put mustard on mine, but apparently Illinoisans were offended.

pop tarts.jpgIt all started when a Twitter user who goes by the handle @adumsteeves tweeted: “You guys aint from Illinois if you dont put mustard on your poptarts.”  The official Pop-Tarts account quoted the tweet with an appeal for help from the Illinois State Police: “@ILStatePolice can you guys handle this?” The State Police did not respond, for they were likely out catching speeders driving 1.27 miles per hour over the posted speed limit.  But the Dixon, Ill., Police Department offered its assistance with a tweet reading, “Let us know if they don’t handle this @PopTartsUS, WE will… Ain’t nobody puttin’ mustard on their Pop-Tarts in Illinois.”

Perhaps it was the threat of a visit from the police, but for whatever reason, the origina tweet was removed, and Pop-Tarts (aka Kellogg’s) claimed victory.  @adumsteeves, however, does not concede the issue, tweeting, “I didnt [sic] delete it and honestly dont know what happened… someone sabatoged my tweet.”  Who knew a bit of mustard could cause such a stir?  And who knew Illinoisans were such food purists?


smile-2Well, my lovely friends, I think we better all get moving, for there is much to be done today, and if we sit here around the cozy fire munching cookies all day, nothing will get done except we will all need naptime soon.  So, I thank you all for taking a bit of time from your busy Monday to drop by and I hope you enjoyed our time together.  Please do remember to share smiles and hugs today, for it costs us nothing and we never know but we might have brightened someone’s day with a simple smile.  And I give you all any hugs and much love!  Keep safe and warm, and have a wonderful week!


toon-Maxine-xmas