On Promises …

What is a promise and how important is it?  I rarely make promises … never, unless I am reasonably certain that, barring any unforeseen catastrophic event, I will be able to keep that promise.  Because I live by this standard, my family & friends know that a promise from me has value, is not an empty promise.  A promise, to me, is a symbol of my honour, of my word.  To break a promise is a breach of trust, and trust is important to me.  I find that trust is one of those things that has a very tenuous thread, and once broken, is never fully restored.

With that said, however, promises ought to be right and just.  If I promise Miss Goose that from now on, every meal will consist only of sweet treats, it is a foolish promise, I am a fool for making it, and she is the bigger fool for believing it.  It would be a promise to harm her, as it were, to make her less healthy.  It is what I think of as a negative promise, one that does harm … in other words, a threat.

On the campaign trail from June 2015 to present, Donald Trump made a number of promises to his Kool-Aid-drinking minions.  He promised to build a wall to keep out immigrants on the southern U.S.-Mexican border.  He promised immigration reform and to keep out Muslims.  He promised to undo basically everything that President Obama had done – good, bad or neutral.  He promised to undo the non-existent “war on coal” and bring back jobs in the coal mining industry.  Let’s take a closer look at a couple of Trump’s more egregious promises, or threats, as it were, see where they stand and assess whether they have helped or harmed the nation.

One of the first ones that comes to my mind is his ‘promise’ to repeal ACA, commonly referred to as ‘Obamacare’.  I’d just like to point out that little word ‘care’ in there.  Well, Trump was unsuccessful, thanks to Senators John McCain, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins.  However, he has chinked away at ACA by way of executive order, to the point that by the end of this year, there will be several million people without insurance, without access to affordable health care — people who were covered before Trump took office.  The latest assault on ACA came just two days ago, when Trump ordered the halting of billions of dollars of payments designed to help insurers meet the Affordable Care Act requirement that they provide coverage regardless of whether a person is healthy or sick.

Insurers say this move will result in higher premiums for millions of people.  For most of those millions of people, higher premiums mean they will have no choice but to drop their insurance.  It will also lead to insurance companies refusing customers who have pre-existing conditions, else setting the premiums out of reach to such individuals.  Why?  Because Donald Trump made a promise to his base.  Now, never mind that his base will be negatively affected by his keeping of this particular promise as much as any of us.  Frankly, sorry folks, I don’t want to sound cruel, but I will choke on my coffee as I laugh uproariously when I hear the first republican whine and wheedle about not being able to afford her medicine, or having to pay $300 just to see her primary care physician!  ‘Welcome to my world’, I will say!

Let’s talk taxes, shall we?

Trump made a number of tax-related promise/threats.  The first was that he would cut corporate income taxes from 35% to 15%.  Well, he failed in that promise and was only able to cut them down to 21% … do I hear an “awwwwww”?  Another part of his illustrious tax plan was to allow Americans to deduct child care and elder care from their taxes.  Well, folks, sorry to tell you but that one went by the wayside.  Along the same lines, he promised to create tax-free dependent care savings accounts for young and elderly dependents.  Nope, not even on the docket.  Oh … here’s one … he promised to provide matching contributions for low-income families to the dependent care savings accounts!  Nope, not a snowball’s chance in hell.  But what about the one where he promised to incentivize employers to provide on-site child-care services?  Sorry, sucker!  But hey!  Those big corporations got their 14% tax cut, and you know that since they have such big hearts and good intentions, all of that lovely money will ‘trickle down’ to us little folk, right? evil laughBriefly, a few of his other “promises”.  He promised to …

  • Enact new ethics reforms to reduce the corrupting influence of special interests. Um … ethics schmethics.  He has, among his administration, some of the most corrupt individuals in the history of the U.S.  Think Scott Pruitt.  Jared Kushner.  Ivanka Trump. Trump himself.  And the list goes on … and on …
  • Make two- and four-year college more affordable. Trump’s budget contains deep cuts in aid for low-income and first-generation college students. The budget would eliminate the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program, a 50-year-old program, for a savings of $732 million, which goes to more than a million poor college kids each year. The budget would also reduce Federal Work Study “significantly” though no dollar figure was given. The tax bill that Trump signed raised taxes on four-year universities. How is any of this making college more affordable???
  • Establish tariffs to discourage companies from laying off their workers in order to relocate in other countries and ship their products back to the U.S. tax-free. Well, he established tariffs alright, but the results are the exact opposite of what he promised.  Companies are already beginning to lay off workers, and considering moving operations overseas – think Harley Davidson for starters.

For a more complete list, check out the Trump Promise Tracker in The Washington Post  .  Although it isn’t quite up to date (April 2018) it is the best I’ve found so far.

In short, Trump made some 60+ ‘promises’ to the people of this nation. A handful would have been to the benefit of the people, but those he did not even attempt to keep.  The rest were threats.  The threat to take away healthcare from those of us who are not wealthy.  The threat to decrease corporate taxes, thereby decreasing the nation’s revenue, increasing both debt and deficit, and leaving the rest of us without much needed services that can no longer be funded.  The threat to put “America First”, which has isolated us from our allies, put us in danger of a trade war, and proven to the world that we cannot be trusted to keep our word (Paris Accord, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership, etc.).

Promises should be kept.  Unless they are the wrong thing, made for all the wrong reasons, but then they are not promises, they are threats.  Trust is earned.  Loyalty is earned.  Need I say more?

Snarky Snippets To Start The Weekend …

Today I am running short on time and short on patience, so I decided to humour myself by indulging in a bit of snarkiness to start your weekend!


Pruitt Out, Wheeler In …

I let out a WHOOP when I saw the news banner cross my screen, then just a few seconds later heard the ‘knock,  knock, knock’ on my cell phone that indicates breaking news from The Washington Post.  The news?  Scott Pruitt was out … O.U.T. … at the EPA.  I quickly posted the story on my Facebook page, sent Herb a quick message, then sat back to read the whole story and … gloat … only … wait …

My ‘whoop’ turned sour. Turns out, we may be even worse off than before!  My joy dims …

The agency’s deputy administrator, Andrew Wheeler, will be temporarily filling Pruitt’s position, and may end up being Trump’s nominee to fill the position permanently.  Wheeler has a few ‘claims to fame’, but perhaps two bother me the most:

He was a top aide to Senator Jim Inhofe  (you will remember that he is the one who earned the honour of being my first and so far, only Idiot of the Week).  And … this is the most concerning … he was a lobbyist for Murray Coal Company, one of the most corrupt in the industry.

Wheeler is said to be every bit as determined as Pruitt was to follow a path of deregulation of environmental regulations.  Environmental groups say they fear Wheeler even more than they did Pruitt!  “Wheeler is much smarter and will try to keep his efforts under the radar in implementing Trump’s destructive agenda,” said Jeremy Symons, vice president for political affairs at the Environmental Defense Fund. “That should scare anyone who breathes.”


They Can’t Find The Kids …

On Tuesday, 26 June, US District Court Judge Dana Sabraw ordered that the migrant children who had been separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexican border be returned to their parents quickly.  Children under the age of 5 were to be returned within 14 days, and older children within 30 days.

Now, just 4 days before the first deadline, the Trump administration is asking for an unspecified extension of time, saying that the tight timeline is putting them at risk of violating their “statutory obligations to ensure the safety of children before transferring them out of HHS custody.” 

Translation:  We do not know where all the children are, did not engage in good record-keeping when we removed the 3,000 children, and do not know which child belongs to which parent.

They claim they are using DNA testing to match children to parents, saying …

“Given the possibility of false claims of parentage, confirming parentage is critical to ensure that children are returned to their parents, not to potential traffickers.”

Bullpoop!

The other reason they give is that they are running criminal background checks on all the parents in order to ensure they are not returning the child into the hands of a criminal.  Again … Bullpoop!

The Justice Department under Jeff Sessions has said that if the judge wished, they could prepare an alternative timeline.  They are to have a phone conversation this afternoon with Judge Sabraw.  I hope the judge stands his ground, even though it is highly unlikely that the tangled web ICE has woven will be straightened out by the first deadline, next Tuesday.  But if the judge does not relent, and the government does not comply, watch the lawsuits start to fly!  Personally, I hope they do.  This entire thing is unconscionable and should have already been grounds for the impeachment of the man who came up with the idea.


The Coward Heads Abroad …

Next Thursday, Trump heads to the UK for a few days before heading to Brussels for the NATO summit.  I wish he weren’t going to either, for he will certainly shame, humiliate, and embarrass us again, and I have a number of friends in the UK.  But he will not be spending much time in London.  Why?  Because there are mass protests scheduled, and little Donnie is scared.

London-protesters

Londoners protest ahead of Trump’s visit

The citizens of the UK do not want Trump anywhere near their nation, and frankly I don’t blame them.  I doubt very much that Ms. May or the Queen want him, either, but they have this diplomatic duty thing to consider.  But seriously … Trump should feel honoured, for the Londoners have even made a special tribute to Trump — a blimp in his image!  What could be more fitting?  Take a look for yourself …Trump baby blimp-1Trump baby blimp-2Trump baby blimp-3The best we can hope for in this trip is that we not end up in a war with our friends in the UK.  I’m fairly certain he won’t treat them any better than he has treated our Canadian friends, and I am apologizing in advance to my UK friends for the abomination that is about to be unleashed upon your nation.


And that ends today’s snippets, folks.  I must now go mop floors and start chopping veggies for Pasta Primavera tonight!  Have a great weekend!!!weekend

Thoughts On This ‘Independence Day’

fireworks-promo-articleLarge.gifToday is the Fourth of July … typically a fun holiday involving grill-outs, get-togethers with friends, and at the end of the day, a fireworks display.  I remember many a Fourth spent with our old friends Kim & Jerry, cooking out on their patio, then going to a local park where every year there was an awesome fireworks display.  It was a much-anticipated day.  This year, I actually forgot that it was the fourth until yesterday when I was talking on the phone with my friend Herb, and he reminded me.  Whoopee.

The point of the holiday is to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence back in 1776, some 242 years ago.  It would be another eleven years before the U.S. Constitution was born, but still, it was the beginning of the process that eventually led to the nation we now know as the United States of America, the USA.

Frankly, while I still have admiration for those who have gone before and helped shape this nation, those who worked tirelessly to make it a good place to live by abolishing slavery, working toward civil rights and equal rights for women, those who have engaged in humanitarian ventures to help the people … the ordinary people … of this nation thrive, I have very little pride in this country today.  I really do not feel like celebrating the hypocrisy that this nation has become.

We are currently in the midst of such great upheaval, such chaos, that I no longer even feel that it is a single nation, but rather a bunch of people living on the same continent, but being engaged in a constant battle with prize being … nothing.  The things that once made me proud to live in this country are being eroded day-by-day.  Police killing unarmed blacks simply because they can get away with it.  White supremacists, neo-Nazis and other hate groups marching, holding rallies, all because they are arrogantly convinced that somehow pale skin is a virtue.  Conspiracy theories running rampant. People at either end of the political spectrum engaging in juvenile name-calling, threats and taunts, rather than trying to work together to solve the nation’s ills.  And nearly 3,000 innocent children, torn from the arms of their parents and being held hostage by our own government, innocent pawns in a high-stakes game of politics. Where this nation began as a nation of immigrants, we now vilify immigrants.

The people we voted for, we elected to represent us and our values, sit in their fancy air-conditioned offices and scoff at our needs, our desires.  “Vote for me and I’ll promise you everything you ask for,” they say in the lead-up to November, but then after they are elected, it’s “Ha ha, sucker!  Don’t call me … I’ll call you!”  They do not even hear or see our cries for equality, for truth, for justice, for help.

The history of this nation has sometimes been noble, often not.  We killed the Native Americans in droves and ran them off their land for our own greed.  We held on to the notion that African-Americans were not wholly to be considered human beings, but rather slaves, for far too many years and even today, some hold onto that belief.  We interned citizens of Japanese ancestry for no other reason than unwarranted fear during World War II.  We murdered more than a quarter-of-a-million people by dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki Japan in 1945.  The list of our less-than-glorious moments in history is long.

And today, we are engaged in actively and knowingly destroying the earth for no other reason than to put more money in the pockets of rich corporate barons.  We are devaluing our poor people, robbing them of health care and even food & shelter.  We are condoning the blatant discrimination of people whose skin is not pale or who do not believe in the “Christian values” that are determined by a small group of men called ‘televangelists’ who are getting rich off people who can ill-afford to support their luxury lifestyles.  We are supporting corrupt politicians who are milking us for their own personal gain.  We are intentionally scaling back our education system so that only the wealthy will be well-educated enough to hold political offices in the future.

There are many things to love about this nation, but today I have trouble remembering what they are.  I love the wonderful forests, rivers, lakes and coastal areas, but those are being destroyed by greed, by oil pipelines, drilling and mining operations that put more money in the pockets of the wealthy.  It feels like everything that was once good is being destroyed, and I find it difficult to feel any joy in celebrating the birth of a nation that is now eating its own.  A nation that places more value on a dollar than on a life.

Many will not like this post, will not like my harsh words, and I understand that.  Frankly, I don’t like them either, but they are honest words.  Honesty … one of the values, along with integrity and compassion, that we have thrown in the trash as we race to become a nation of rich white people.  It is a vision that sickens me and one that I want no part of.

Keep safe and enjoy your holiday, friends.  Love ‘n hugs to you all!

Putting 2 + 2 Together …

A few of the recent headlines …

Heat Wave Grips Northeast U.S.

Dangerous Heat Wave Hitting U.S. Over Fourth of July Weekend

UK Weather Forecast:  Summer 2018 To Be Hottest Ever

Town Hit By Major Freak Flooding in the Midst of a National Heat Wave

And the list goes on.  In my city, it has been over 90° F (32° C) and with heat index factored in, has hit 104° F (40° C) for the past four days. A check with The Weather Channel shows that there is very little, if any relief in sight at least through July 15th, another two weeks.  The average temperatures here in the two hottest months, July & August, are typically 86° and 87° with rarely more than 3-4 days over 90°.  I remember a few years that there were no 90-degree days all summer!  Humidity has been between 56% – 99% for the past several days.climate map eastern usFunny thing about all of this, though … nobody seems to be too concerned beyond the inconvenience of being uncomfortable, having trouble breathing and/or sleeping, and worrying about seeing next month’s electric bill.  I haven’t once heard mention of that forbidden phrase … climate change. I haven’t heard any others express my own concern, that this is how summers will be from now on.  For the past two winters, we have barely had any snowfall.  Last year saw a record number of intense hurricanes, including three Category 5 hurricanes, Harvey, Irma & Maria, that together caused over $281 billion in damage!

When Trump took office on 20 January 2017, he had already made it known that he believed climate change was a “hoax invented by the Chinese”.  He then nominated Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Pruitt had already sued the EPA thirteen times while he served as Oklahoma’s Attorney General!  And now, as EPA Administrator, he has climbed into bed with the fossil fuel industry, hidden his agenda from the public eye, falsified records, spent taxpayer monies recklessly and on personal items, engaged in unethical activities and in short, been one of the most corrupt cabinet members in history!  The one thing he has not done, is address the most serious issue facing our environment, climate change.

In June 2015, Trump announced that the U.S. would cease all participation in the 2015 Paris Agreement, saying that “The Paris accord will undermine [the U.S.] economy, and puts [the U.S.] at a permanent disadvantage.”  In keeping with that philosophy, he has rescinded, via ‘executive order’, a large number of regulations and safeguards that were put into place to regulate CO2 emissions, water standards, chemical toxicity, wildlife and national park protections, and the list goes on.

Now, it is not my intention to say that because Trump has given free rein to coal and oil companies, that is the reason we are sweltering.  However, I do say that unless this nation, the only one on the globe that is not remaining in the Paris Accord, takes responsibility for doing its share to take care of the planet, we will continue to see the effects that we are seeing and they will only continue to multiply.  The predictions of the climate scientists are being realized even sooner than they anticipated.

Despite the losses of life and property during last year’s hurricane season, despite the nearly unbearable extended heat wave both in the U.S. and across the pond, people seem to be oblivious.  I don’t see people leaving their cars at home, taking a bus or walking to their destination.  The lady across the street from me even starts her car and drives her bag of trash to the dumpster at the end of the street!  And no, she is not disabled, but is more ‘abled’ than I am, while I walk my trash to the dumpster! The end result is that people are much more concerned with things such as jobs, the economy, health care, taxes and other things that they can see affecting their own lives on a day-to-day basis.

This explains in part why it has been so easy for the current bunch in Washington to pull the wool over the public’s eyes about climate change, for it is seen as having more long-term than immediate effects, and also the science is not well understood among those of us who are non-scientists.  One has to take much on faith, believing that the men and women who have the education and have spent most of their lives studying the earth and environment know of what they speak.  And, of course, part of the resistance to climate change is the convenience factor, for once you acknowledge that human behaviours are destroying the environment, it is hard to argue against changing those behaviours.dinosaurAnother part of the reason that people are failing to sit up and take notice, I think, is that lackadaisical attitude that “somehow things will work out … they always do”.  I imagine the dinosaurs believed much the same once upon a time, eh?

It is encouraging that some states and cities in the U.S., as well as some corporations are taking matters into their own hands and taking steps toward being more environmentally responsible.   It is encouraging to see that in 2017, renewable energy sources accounted for about 11% of total U.S. energy consumption and about 17% of electricity generation.  But it isn’t enough.  The U.S. is not only letting its own citizens down, but is letting every man, woman and child on the globe down, for this is a global problem, not a local one.  The U.S. has emitted more planet-warming carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than any other country.  Yet while we are a big part of the problem, we refuse to be a part of the solution.

This summer’s high temperatures and humidity will lead to increased energy use as air-conditioners run non-stop in homes and businesses.  People will drive their cars more, rather than walk, and run the a/c in the car, thereby using more fuel … more polluting fuel.  What does it take to wake people up to the fact that we are very likely bringing about the extinction of the human race, and unlike the dinosaurs, who did not have the ability to control their fate, we have a choice.  Perhaps we cannot force Donald Trump to care about the earth, to care about our survival, but we can get the knuckle-draggers out of Congress and elect people who care enough to do something.  AND … we can do something.  We can combine trips so we drive less, turn our thermostats up (or down in winter), turn off lights, conserve energy in any way possible.  It may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the energy used by factories, office buildings and big trucks, but every little bit counts.  WE MUST WAKE UP!!!

A few informative links, if you’re interested:

What Exactly IS Freedom?

Been a lot of talk about that thing called ‘freedom’ lately.  Started me thinking about some things.  What is freedom, anyway?  Freedom from what?  Freedom to do what?  Am I free?  Are you?  Are any of us?  And what is the trade-off for freedom, for there is a trade-off, a price to pay for everything, y’know.

I did a bit of thinking about it … and one thing I can say for certain is that we don’t all see freedom in the same way.  There are those, some are friends of mine even, who think freedom means you get to have a gun … any ol’ gun you want, carry it wherever you go … and use it however you want.  To them that is freedom, but wait … if they have that gun, and they can use it when and how they want … suddenly I don’t feel quite so free as I did a minute ago.  And … if my kid gets shot and killed at school by some student whose daddy has an arsenal and he snuck one out to take revenge on those kids he thinks don’t like him … then the people who think owning guns makes them free just tell me, “we send our thoughts and prayers”.  But … what good is that???  I don’t want your thoughts and prayers … they don’t bring my child back!  And then they say, “well, that is just the cost of being free”.  If that’s the cost of being free, maybe it’s time somebody did a cost-benefit analysis.

And then there’s that freedom of speech.  Now, I’m happy that I can write my opinions on this blog, and some may not like them, but I haven’t gone to jail yet, so I think that is my freedom of speech.  And I appreciate it, believe me I do, for I have a sharp tongue and if criticism and words could send you to jail, I’d surely be wearing an orange jumpsuit right now!  But … I never have and never will tell people they ought to go out and kill somebody else.  I never have urged my friends and readers to physically hurt another human being.  It seems to me that there’s a difference between calling Donald Trump or Paul Ryan a fool, and asking people to go out and hurt one another.  I keep hearing that the human race has become so advanced … but frankly, folks, I don’t see it.

On March 23rd 1775, Patrick Henry in a speech to the Second Virginia Convention is reported to have said, “Give me liberty, or give me death”.  The liberty that he was seeking was freedom from oppression, freedom from being ruled by a monarch 4,000 miles away, paying taxes to that monarchy, without having a say in the rules that bound the colonies that would become the United States of America.  Freedom from oppression, and freedom to self-govern.

Freedoms are either from something or to something.  The second amendment to the Constitution of the United States calls for the freedom to ‘bear firearms’.  But, in its present-day incarnation it has been interpreted as the freedom to kill.  The freedom to own an assault weapon that was never … NEVER … intended to be placed in untrained civilian hands.  And by so interpreting that ‘freedom to …”, the freedom from having to fear for one’s life in a school, church or shopping center has been trampled.  When you, Mr. Christian Republican, bought your AR-15, as was your perceived right, you robbed me of my freedom to be safe next time I go out in the same place you go.

In the same vein, when a person uses his freedom of speech to call for my death, as one of my readers did a while back, then that person is robbing me of my freedom to feel safe in my own home.  When a person like Milo Yiannopoulos says, “I can’t wait for the vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down on sight,” and just three days later five people are gunned down in a newspaper office … whose freedom took away whose?

We do not all define freedom in the same way, and until we do, one man’s freedom will be another man’s prison.  The Constitution, as well as other documents such as court rulings have attempted to bring about a uniform definition for ‘freedom’, but there seems to be a disconnect.  The man who has a few billion dollars in offshore accounts believes that he has the freedom to use those monies as he sees fit.  Fair enough, if the money legitimately belongs to him and was not earned off the sweat of others who were under-compensated for their labours.  BUT … how many who have billions actually earned them without trampling the freedoms of others?  Very, very few, I think.  Any?  I don’t know … perhaps Bill Gates?

As many have commented on this blog in the past, and as I myself have said, “your freedom ends at the tip of my nose”.  You like loud music?  Fine, but understand that not all of us enjoy the same music you do and don’t force it on us.  I smoke.  I have the freedom to do so, but I do not have the freedom to blow my smoke in your face, or even to smoke in a public venue where you might be.  If I can accept that I do not have a right to smoke in public, why can you not accept that you do not have the right to carry a gun in public?  Really, which is more potentially lethal?

In this world, in real life, freedom can never be complete, can never be 100%, for if it were, it would be depriving others of their freedoms.  That is a fact of life.  You can be free from a dictatorship, but you can never be completely free from rules, from laws.  Today, as we live under a ‘man’ who claims to make America “great” again, we are finding that for some, the freedoms are being expanded, but for the majority of us this has meant giving up other freedoms.  There comes a point when we must prioritize:  a right to live vs a right to carry a gun in public?  A right to have medical care for a chronic condition vs a right to pay less in taxes?  A right to breathe clean air vs a right to make a profit from mining coal?

Freedom is not an absolute.  It does not come without a cost.  Freedom for all requires compromise.  Think about it.

Idiot of the Week — Senator Jim Inhofe

Idiot of the Week medalThere are a host of reasons I have been neglectful this year, ranging from Trumpantics to personal issues to health-related issues, but the time has come to stop making excuses and get back in the saddle.  To what, you may ask, do I refer? … … … Well, are you gonna ask or not???  Okay, okay … Here it is just a few days shy of being the middle of the year, and I have not written one single Idiot of the Week post.  Not one!  It certainly isn’t for lack of available material!  Well, today I plan to rectify that situation, so without further ado, please allow me to introduce to you Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma!

radarSenator Jim Inhofe has crossed my radar a few times of late, and last time he crossed a line when he left something sticky and disgusting all over the screen.  Last week, he flitted across my screen when he blocked the proposal filed by Bob Corker, Lamar Alexander and eleven other senators that would have required congressional approval for the imposition of trade tariffs.  Blocked it.  Would not even let it come for a vote.

Now this week, Inhofe is saying that he is “a little embarrassed” to have doubted his longtime friend from Oklahoma, EPA head Scott Pruitt. Less than a week after suggesting Pruitt might have to resign amid the swirl of scandal, Inhofe said he was confident the administrator had done nothing seriously wrong. Any of Pruitt’s lapses were minor and excusable given his lack of experience in Washington, Inhofe said at a news conference Wednesday.

1 … 2 … 3 … 4 … 5 … 6 … 7 … 8 … 9 … 10 …Head explosionScott Pruitt, you might remember, is the subject of at least twelve federal investigations for abusing his position in various ways, including his travel and security costs, purchase of a home in Oklahoma from a lobbyist using a shell corporation and potential use of his office to enrich himself. And Inhofe finds nothing ‘seriously wrong’ with any of this???  I think we need to take a closer look at Senator Inhofe, don’t you?

For starters, Jim Inhofe is 83 years old and since he does not come up for re-election until 2020, so he will be 85 at the time of the 2020 election.  It is time for this hombre to r-e-t-i-r-e!

Inhofe is the most conservative member of both the House and Senate, according to the 2017 GovTrack report card.

Inhofe bookInhofe is a climate change denier extraordinaire.  He once compared the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to a “Gestapo bureaucracy”.  He even wrote a book in 2012, The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future.  The theme of his book is a global warming conspiracy theory that through worldwide acts of professional and criminal misconduct, the science behind global warming has been invented or distorted for ideological or financial reasons, or both.  Ironically, he sits on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.  And Inhofe has been a recipient of monies from the fossil fuel industry.  Per the Center for Responsive Politics, Inhofe has received over $529,000 from the oil and gas industry since 2012.  Inhofe’s book, by the way, has only a 2.5 star ranking on Amazon and the hardback now sells for $1.50.

At a House committee hearing in 2011, Inhofe was questioned by committee member Jay Inslee, who mentioned that perhaps the scientists were more knowledgeable than he, Inhofe.  Inhofe disagreed because, he said, he had already given “five speeches on the science”.  🙄

Now, all that is certainly enough to qualify him for the first Idiot of the Week award of 2018, but Senator Inhofe has so kindly obliged by giving us even more reason …

In a Senate speech, Inhofe said that America should base its Israel policy on the text of the Bible, then he proceeded to quote said text.  Wait … isn’t ours a secular government?  He also said in a speech to the Senate in 2002 that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were a form of divine retribution against the U.S. for failing to defend Israel.  Oh for …

Inhofe is a bigot.  He has earned 0% in every one of his terms on Human Rights Campaign’s position scorecard.  He is in favor of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, against adding sexual orientation to the definition of hate crimes, and voted against prohibiting job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  Wait … this is that religious man who believes we should rely on the Bible?  Isn’t there something somewhere in the Bible about loving everyone?  I’m confused.  Inhofe’s office has said that he will not hire gay staffers.  (Perhaps he has a sign on the door like Mr. Jeff Amyx?)

Now for the really fun one.  Inhofe is a licensed pilot (yes, airplanes, Joe!).  On October 21, 2010, at the age of 75, Inhofe landed his Cessna on a closed runway at a south Texas airport, scattering construction workers who ran for their lives. In a recorded telephone call, the men’s supervisor told the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that Inhofe “scared the crap out of” the workers, adding that the Cessna “damn near hit” a truck. In response to the incident, Inhofe stated that he “did nothing wrong”, and accused the FAA of “agency overreach” and causing a “feeling of desperation” in him.  Ayyyyy … pobrecito!inhofe-pruittInhofe has made, on taxpayer’s dollar, more than 140 trips to Africa over the past 20 years.  He admits that much of the reason for his trips was on behalf of The Fellowship, a Christian organization.

There’s more, but I think you get the general idea.  My biggest regret is that Inhofe will not be up for re-election this year, for I really think this dinosaur needs to GO!

village-idiot-2And so, Senator Jim Inhofe, for all of the above reasons and for just generally being a bigot and supporting the destruction of our home, the planet earth, I now award you with Filosofa’s Idiot of the Week award!  Please hang it somewhere that you can show it off to your visitors in the Capitol!

(I really must do these more often … I had forgotten how much fun they are!)

Perspective

Whew!  It certainly has been a week, hasn’t it folks?  This morning I stumbled on something that put our present situation into perspective just a bit.  It is hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel in these dark times, and easy to believe that the destruction of our nation is at hand.  Our friend Roger of Woebegone frequently reminds me that this, too, shall pass and become naught but a blip in history.  An OpEd by Washington Post writer Dana Milbank this morning confirms this and since I found his words encouraging, I wanted to share them with you, my friends.

We interrupt this apocalypse vigil to say that America has conquered worse

dana-milbank.pngIt was another one of those weeks in which the wheels seemed to come off the axle of the American motor coach.

President Trump speculated about his power to pardon himself for crimes, and his lawyer said the president could shoot the now-former FBI director with legal impunity.

Trump is feuding with Canada and our closest allies in Europe, but is looking forward to “friendly” talks with North Korea, which, according to the CIA, has no intention of denuclearizing but is willing to open a hamburger restaurant.

Trump, inflaming racial tensions, disinvited the Super Bowl champions from a White House celebration and instead hosted a “loud” display of patriotism during which he muffed the words to “God Bless America.”

The administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, it was learned, tried to use his position to get a position at Chick-fil-A for his wife, scented lotion from the Ritz-Carlton and a used mattress from the Trump International Hotel.

The first lady, mysteriously missing from public view for more than three weeks, returned in time to hear her husband use a FEMA briefing on hurricanes to talk about election polls, his love of coal and Air Force One.

Oh, and a contractor at the National Security Council was arrested as he arrived for work at the White House on a charge of attempted murder.

There is a tendency amid this chaos to think that American government is disintegrating before our eyes. But this week also reminded us that the country has survived worse. It was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, which itself followed the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., at a time of war and rioting. We survived 1968. We’ll get through this, too.

I took a break from my apocalypse vigil this week to speak with Robert Mickey, a political-science professor at the University of Michigan who specializes in U.S. political history. And I offer this glass-half-full perspective on our current troubles:

Trump will not destroy American democracy.

Trump is a symptom of problems, more than the cause.

We’ll solve these problems — eventually.

“Our political situation is much more stable than it has been at many periods in U.S. history,” Mickey tells me, “and our discourse is more civil than a lot of those periods.”

During the 1790s, it wasn’t at all clear the new country would survive foreign invasion or internal division. The 1810s brought more of the same. The divisions of the 1850s led to the Civil War. The 1890s were filled with farmer revolts, strikes, robber barons, massive immigration, war with Spain, an economic depression and the expansion of Jim Crow. The 1930s brought the Great Depression and the rise of fascism. And then there was 1968.

Now, by contrast, “we have stable democratic institutions across the entire country in a way we profoundly did not before,” Mickey says. “The institutions we have, while being challenged, have been a source of strength.” Federalism has been a check on Trump, as California, New York and other states push back against him. The justice system, though assaulted by Trump, is proving to be a check on him. Trump, though breaking norms, seems to lack the competence to pull off a direct assault on democracy.

The real danger is not from Trump, but from the forces that gave rise to him and could continue to erode democracy over time: broad and persistent wealth inequality, the backlash against America’s shift from a white-majority nation toward a minority-majority one, the accompanying realignment of parties along racial lines and the related radicalization of the Republican Party.

Inequality destabilizes democracy by destroying the belief in “one person, one vote,” and giving rise to demagoguery. The United States is struggling with (and Trump is exploiting) its transformation from an electorate of white men to a multicultural one. “American democracy didn’t really kick in until the 1960s,” Mickey argues. “Periods we romanticize as civil and lovely were such because we struggled to keep race off the national agenda.”

Past crises have been resolved by either war, economic booms or luck. But this crisis could resolve itself by generational change.

Surveys from the Pew Research Center find that millennials are dramatically more likely than older generations to believe the country needs to make changes to give black people equal rights, that discrimination is the main thing holding African Americans back, that immigration strengthens the United States and that a bigger government that provides more services is better. There are indications the youngest and most nonwhite generation, Generation Z, will push against older generations even more on these questions.

This may be small comfort as Trump rains chaos and inflames tensions. It’s no excuse to relax in the fight to contain Trump. But we’ll get through this — even L’Affaire Chick-fil-A.

While this is encouraging, obviously we all still need to be speaking out against all the injustices, the threats as they happen.  But it’s helpful, I think, to remember that this nation has faced trials before and emerged intact.  Have a good weekend, my friends!

ENOUGH!!!!

Alright, since Trump so loves to use those words, “You’re Fired”, then it’s time he used them to Mr. Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  NOW!!!  This man is out of control, treating our tax money as his personal expense account and meanwhile doing nothing … absolutely nothing … positive toward the protection of the environment!  I thought I was done writing about him a few weeks ago, thought surely he would be fired within the week, but that has not happened, so I am baaaaaccckkk.

Despite all the scandals that just keep coming, yesterday afternoon Trump praised him!

“… EPA is doing really, really well, someone has to say that about you a little bit, you know that, Scott. People are really impressed with the job that’s being done at the EPA.”

Hello???  Excuse me???  What job?  What EPA, for that matter?  Just two days ago, it was reported that Pruitt had enlisted an EPA aide to help his wife Marlyn obtain and open a Chick-Fil-A franchise.  How does this pertain to the business of the Environmental Protection of the United States?  How does it pertain to anything other than increasing Scott and Marlyn’s wealth, which is already substantial, at least as compared to yours or mine.

When asked about the misuse of agency staff for a personal mission, Pruitt sounded just like Kellyanne, talking in circles all around the issue …

“I think with great change comes, you know, I think, opposition. I mean there’s significant change that’s happening for us, not only at the EPA but across this Administration, and it’s needed, and, uh, look, my wife is an entrepreneur herself. I love, she loves, we love Chick-Fil-A as a, as a franchise of faith, and it’s one of the best in the country, and so, that’s something we were very excited about.”

SOOOO????  I love P.F. Chang’s, too, but I’m not going to lie, cheat and steal to own one!  I will just go eat there once a month or so, and pay my check and leave a tip like everybody else.

But it gets even better … and remember, all this is just in the last week.  Prior to last week, he already had twelve federal investigations into his activities!  TWELVE!!!In December, Pruitt attended a University of Kentucky basketball game as a guest of coal baron Joseph W. Craft III, who has been lobbying the EPA on behalf of his coal company, Alliance Resource Partners.  Pruitt and Craft have met no less than seven times in a fourteen-month period.

And also last week, it was reported that Mr. Pruitt had visited a jewelry store in Washington where he spent $3,230 of taxpayer money!  What, you ask, did he buy?  Well, $1,560 went to buy 12 fountain pens.  $130 per pen.  WHY???  I buy a 12-pack of pens for $5.99 and they write just fine!  And anyway, doesn’t the GAO provide such things as pens, legal pads and toilet tissue?  I do not know quite what the other $1,670 was spent on, but we are told it was “gifts to the Administrator’s foreign counterparts and dignitaries upon his meeting with them.”Prior to any of the above, Pruitt was already under investigation for a host of potential crimes, including frequent first-class personal travel at taxpayer’s expense, inappropriate relations with representatives of the coal mining industry, unnecessary sweeping 24-hour security measures that have cost the EPA roughly $3.5 million, and more.

And amid all the scandal, Pruitt’s top aide, Millan Hupp, resigned on Monday – Friday will be her last day.  Hupp, as the director of scheduling and advance, has been entangled in many of the scandals dogging Pruitt.  She was one of two aides who received hefty salary bumps, even after the White House refused Pruitt’s request for raises. She recently testified to the House Oversight Committee that she regularly spent her days doing personal tasks for Pruitt, from hunting for housing to calling the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., in order to inquire about purchasing a used mattress.  Yes, you heard me right … for some unknown reason, Herr Pruitt wished to buy a used mattress from Trump Towers.  Ick. Pruitt’s top legal counsel, Sarah Greenwalt, also gave her resignation.

The democrats in Congress have long been fed-up with Pruitt’s costly antics, but this week, even the republicans are tired of it.

“I’m not going to come down here, just because he happens to be a nominee of a president I support or a nominee from my party, and try to defend the indefensible. I thought that Mr. Pruitt would have learned his lesson.” – Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana

“Some are true; some are not true. Whether he can weather the storm, I’m not sure. The accusations are all troubling. They are.” – Republican Senator Jim Inhofe of OklahomaThis man thinks the U.S. Treasury is his own personal bank account.  Remember Trump’s claim that he would “drain the swamp”.  Instead, he put Pruitt, the granddaddy of all alligators in it and feeds him well every day, at the White House mess, as it happens.  According to an article in Politico, Pruitt has been eating at the White House mess nearly every day … so often that he has been asked to cut back and “please eat elsewhere sometimes.”

It is past time for Scott Pruitt to hear the words, “You’re Fired”.  It is past time for We The People to demand accountability, starting with this very worst example of corruption, thievery and violations of ethics.  And it is far past time for Congress to demand that the Director of the EPA be fired without severance!  No, Donald Trump, Scott Pruitt is not doing an “impressive” job at the EPA, for he is far too busy wheeling and dealing, and wasting OUR money!

Where Were You, Congressman???

Dear Congressman ____________________,

I am writing to express my displeasure with your performance, or might I say ‘non’ performance over the past 17 months, and to remind you of two things:  to whom you owe your allegiance and that there are mid-term elections on the horizon.

Only this morning the head of the executive branch, the so-called ‘president’, declared himself to be above the law, to be by all appearances, a dictator rather than a president.  And where were you? For months now, Donald Trump has been destroying decades’ worth of international diplomacy.  Where was your voice?  Donald Trump has set back civil rights in this nation by at least a half-century, yet I did not hear your voice raised in objection when he called neo-Nazis and members of the KKK ‘very fine people’.  Last week, the man whose boots you have been licking called for the Department of Energy to force … yes force … coal companies to remain open when they planned to close for lack of profit and market.  He intimated that the nation would subsidize certain coal companies in order to keep them in business.  Subsidies, I might add, that will come from the taxpayer’s pockets.  And where was your voice?

These are but a few examples of the many destructive actions Donald Trump has taken in his 16-month tenure, and not once have I heard you raise your voice in objection.  Not once have I seen you take a stand, refuse to do his bidding.  We the People did not elect you to have you be a ‘yes-man’.  Rather, We the People put you in office to look out for our best interests, not just your own.  Donald Trump is not … I repeat is NOT … your employer, not your boss.  WE THE PEOPLE are your employers.  By allowing Donald Trump to destroy our nation, our lives, with his arrogant, hard-headed, narcissistic acts, you are letting down the very people you are supposed to represent.  And I want to know why!

I deserve an answer, and in fact, demand one.  I do not want one of the canned, computer-generated responses that I get anytime I attempt to communicate with my elected ‘representatives’.  I want you to read my letter and I want a thoughtful and honest response from you.  Anything less is unacceptable.  I want to hear why you are standing silently by while one madman destroys the nation.  I want to know what you plan to do about the abomination that sits in the Oval Office today.  I want to know why you are not vociferously advocating to remove this ‘man’ from office.  I want to know why you are willing to sit in your comfortable office and merely watch while Trump destroys our environment.  I would like some answers.

If you have not the integrity to provide the answers to my questions, if you have not the integrity to stand up for what is right, rather than to continue to be a sycophant to Trump, then I can guarantee you that you will not have my vote on November 6th.  I can also promise that I will use my voice to encourage others to vote you out of Congress and to vote in somebody who will perhaps use their power, their voice, to try to save this nation from the madman in the White House.

 

Sincerely,

Jill E. Dennison

Citizen, voter, humanitarian

Tell Him to Stay Home!!!

statement by aidThe G7 summit, a meeting of the leaders of the world’s seven largest advanced economies, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, is scheduled to start next Friday, June 8th, in Quebec, Canada.  With just a short five days left, one would think that the agenda would be set, yes?  Well, it is not.  Not even close.  I will give you only one guess as to the reason the summit plans remain in chaos.  Think hard, now …

Ugly TrumpYou got it!  None other than Donald John Trump, the one who notoriously acted as a stubborn, unsupervised toddler at last year’s G7 in Taormina, Italy, when after three days of meetings and countless discussions, he refused to reaffirm the U.S.’ commitment to cutting greenhouse-gas emissions. In addition, he scolded Germany for its trade practices and lectured NATO members, saying they don’t pay their fair share. But this year is even worse … apparently he has single-handedly blown up the entire agenda!

My humble opinion is that, since Trump has, by his actions, ceded a global leadership role, the summit should be changed to the G6 and Trump considered of no value to the summit.

Initially, the agenda was slated to include such topics as climate change, women’s empowerment, peace, economic growth for all and jobs for the future.  Well, while the other six leaders are in tune with those goals, they are not in keeping with Trump’s “America First” agenda.  The only topic on which Trump did not disagree was ‘women’s empowerment’.  That Trump agreed to this topic is one of life’s great ironies!  Think about it … he calls for de-funding Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of women’s health services in the nation, and froze the equal pay rule, aimed at fighting employer discrimination against women and minorities.  Not to mention that he is currently embroiled in a scandal over paying ‘hush money’ to a porn star after an extramarital affair, and has been accused by … I think the number is up to 19 now … women of sexual misconduct.

As if trying to find common ground for the agenda wasn’t hard enough, Trump’s decision last month to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal left our allies scrambling to try to salvage what was basically a working agreement.  And then, just a few days ago, Trump imposed harsh and unnecessary tariffs on Mexico, Canada and the EU, further angering other G7 nations.  Boy, he sure knows how to make a party fun, doesn’t he?

Then there is the concern that Trump will use the G7 to publicly take Germany to task over its military spending, for it is a known fact that he has no filter and blurts out whatever he is thinking at any given moment.

trump-bully-3The purpose of the G7 summit is to serve as a forum for highly industrialized democracies to coordinate economic, security, and energy policy.  It is a venue where ideas are exchanged and problems discussed.  It is a venue for global cooperation, not for one player to bully all the rest.  These seven leaders are on equal footing … they are each elected leaders of their nations and their interest is in global cooperation to help make the world a more prosperous, safer place.  When one player comes to the table believing that he is somehow superior to the rest, believing that he, somehow is the leader of the group, then nothing good can come out of it.

I seriously think it would be in the global best interest for Mr. Trudeau to call Mr. Trump and rescind his invitation, rename the summit the G6 summit, and move on with an agenda that addresses the pressing issues of the day, starting with climate change.  Let the bully stay at home and spew his hateful bluster here … the rest of the world should not have to contend with him, and when he leaves home, he does nothing but cause us shame and embarrassment anyway.