BAH HUMBUG!

I looked in the mirror this morning … I try to avoid doing that, but this morning I had something in my eye, and I had no choice.  I asked the person I saw there to please move out of my way so that I could see myself to check out my eye.  Then I realized the person I saw there, the person with deep gouges around her mouth, sad downturned eyes with dark circles ‘neath them, and a perpetual scowl on her mouth was, in fact, me.  And I got angry … not that I really look much different than I did three years ago, but … I have a perpetual sadness coupled with intense anger that wasn’t there before.  I growl a lot, even when I’m drifting off to sleep, I hear myself growling.  Every day, there is something new to growl about, so … since I don’t like to growl alone, here are my two for today …


Steven Mnuchin – Bastard of the Year

This isn’t the first time, nor will it likely be the last, that Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s Secretary of Treasury, has come onto my radar and caused my blood to boil.  This time, however, he has crossed a line … has unfairly criticized a 15-year-old girl who is trying her best to wake us up, to save the world, to save us from ourselves.  Obviously, I am speaking of the young environmental activist from Sweden, and Time Magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year, Greta Thunberg.

One of the things Ms. Thunberg has advocated is for investors to take their money out of fossil fuel stocks, invest instead in companies that are working to make renewable energy sources more efficient, more prominent, and less costly.  Apparently, Mr. Mnuchin owns stock in oil and/or coal companies, for he took umbrage and he did so in his usual snide, nasty manner …

“Is she the chief economist or who is she? I’m confused. After she goes and studies economics in college, she can come back and explain that to us.”

Bastard.

Now interestingly, someone with even higher credentials in economics than Mnuchin disagrees with ol’ Stevie.  That someone is Laurence D. Fink, the founder and chief executive of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager with nearly $7 trillion in investments.  In his annual letter to the chief executives of the world’s largest companies, Mr. Fink outlined some of the ways in which climate change is changing our world and then said …

BlackRock announced a number of initiatives to place sustainability at the center of our investment approach, including: making sustainability integral to portfolio construction and risk management; exiting investments that present a high sustainability-related risk, such as thermal coal producers; launching new investment products that screen fossil fuels; [emphasis added] and strengthening our commitment to sustainability and transparency in our investment stewardship activities.

Ms. Thunberg responded to Mnuchin on Twitter …

Thunberg-Time“My gap year ends in August, but it doesn’t take a college degree in economics to realise that our remaining 1,5° carbon budget and ongoing fossil fuel subsidies and investments don’t add up.  So either you tell us how to achieve this mitigation or explain to future generations and those already affected by the climate emergency why we should abandon our climate commitments.” 

My suggestion to Mnuchin is that perhaps he is the one who needs to go back to college and study a bit of climate science.  Y’know … people who are squawking about how to do what is needed to help stop the destruction of life on earth would cost too much, would interfere with world economies … they really need to sit in a quiet room and think for a few hours.  THINK, people!  What the hell is the economy going to matter if you cannot breathe the air, find potable water to drink, and sufficient food to eat???  In fact, the economy will be completely irrelevant at that point, but will have already crashed by then anyway.  Damn capitalists have a one-track mind and that includes Mnuchin and his effing boss!

mnuchin-wife-2

Steve Mnuchin and wife (apparently, like Melania, she doesn’t own a bra)

Oh, and by the way … a bit off-topic, but in case you were wondering, poor Mnuchin is practically on the welfare rolls, having a net worth of over $300 million.  His wife, Louise Linton, recently came under criticism for bemoaning the fact that they now have to pay more in taxes, and then bragging about her name-brand designer clothing on social media.  Nice people, those Mnuchins … I have more respect for Greta than Stevie.  Heck, I have more respect for a cockroach than I do for the Mnuchins.  BAH HUMBUG!


And in other environmental news …

On Thursday, Trump signed his long-promised regulation to remove millions of miles of streams and roughly half the country’s wetlands from federal protection, the largest rollback of the Clean Water Act since the modern law was passed in 1972.  Why?  Because the wealthy dudes who own the agriculture, home-building, mining, and oil and gas industries matter more than We the People, matter more than the wildlife that depend on those wetlands for their very survival.

Heretofore, the law required those industries to obtain permits to discharge pollution into waterways or fill in wetlands, and imposed fines for oil spills into protected waterways.  According to Janette Brimmer, Earthjustice attorney who fought for the Clean Water Act after the Cuyahoga River fire in 1969 …

“President Trump’s administration wants to make our waters burn again. This all-out assault on basic safeguards will send our country back to the days when corporate polluters could dump whatever sludge or slime they wished into the streams and wetlands that often connect to the water we drink.”

Even the EPA’s own scientists disapprove of this move, saying that in addition to potentially losing fully half of the nation’s wetlands, as much as 94 percent of Arizona’s waterways could lose Clean Water Act protection under the regulation, as well as 89 percent of Nevada’s.

Environmental groups are already planning lawsuits, and rightly so.  But, do you realize that NO administration in the history of this nation has been embroiled in as many lawsuits as Trump???  And guess who pays for all those lawsuits, my friends?  Not Donald Trump or EPA head Andrew Wheeler.  Not the rich bitches who got a huge tax cut in 2017.  Nope … me and you, the very people who are struggling to pay our rent and buy food, despite Trump’s claims that we are so much better off.  BAH HUMBUG!


Stay tuned this afternoon for Part III of mine and Jeff’s project, Discord & Dissension — Where do we go from here?

Snarky Snippets Hot Off The Press!

Yesterday I had a bad case of mind bounce … it happens every so often … and the best I could do was an afternoon re-blog.  Today, however, I am back on my game and filled with snark!  Here are just a few of the things flying about on my radar today.


He should have stayed home …

Every time Trump is allowed to travel abroad and attend international conferences or events, I cringe.  Not because I fear he will embarrass us … there is never a doubt but that he will … but because I wonder how much long-term damage he will do to our relationships with the rest of the world, how much more he will tarnish the image of the U.S. in the eyes of the world.

This week, he is in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum.  This year’s forum is focusing on seven themes: Fairer economies, better business, healthy futures, future of work, tech for good, beyond geopolitics and how to save the planet. Young climate activists and school strikers from around the world will be present at the event to put pressure on world leaders over that last theme.  In my opinion, that last one is about the only one that really matters, for if we do not address climate change, none of the rest will be required 100 years from now.

But, of course, Donald Trump feels differently.  He boasted that his support for the coal and oil industries meant the US was self-sufficient in energy.  He attacked climate activists …

“To embrace the possibilities of tomorrow, we must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse. They are the errors of yesterday’s fortune tellers and we have them and I have them and they want to see us do badly, but we don’t let that happen.”

Greta Thunberg, who was also invited and is attending the forum, was apparently one of those “perennial prophets of doom” to whom he referred, as he later said he didn’t know much about her other than that she seemed “very angry”.  She’s not the only one!

Beyond that, he tooted his horn a lot, bragging about the economy, about trade deals, even claiming he would soon be making a “very good deal” with Boris Johnson of the UK, and even had the unmitigated gall to claim proudly that the U.S. is the #1 producer of oil and natural gas – definitely not a boast-worthy claim, whether true or not.

Then, of course, he was asked about his impeachment, and he used the opportunity to whine …

“It’s just a hoax. It’s a witch hunt that’s been going on for years, and frankly, it’s disgraceful.”

Oh, and he also claimed that he and his minions are preparing another “middle-class tax cut”, that he will announce details in 90 days, but that he will only enact it if he is re-elected, the republicans gain control of the House, and hold the Senate.  Well duh … that’s the only way he’ll get any legislation passed, but … ain’t gonna happen, Donnie boy!  And, his last so-called middle-class tax cut actually hurt the middle class and gave the tax cuts to the wealthy 1% and corporations, many of whom pay less in taxes than you or I do.

So, once again, We the People ask forgiveness of our friends across the pond, for the abomination we unleashed on the world in 2016.  Sigh.


And in other news …

Kellyanne said WHAT???

Trump’s mouthpiece, Kellyanne Conway, once again opened her rather large mouth … a mouth that seems to be completely detached from anything remotely resembling a brain.  It was during a news conference yesterday, Martin Luther King Day, and Kellyanne was asked why Trump’s public schedule of events on Monday did not include any functions meant to commemorate Dr. King.

kellyanne“The president … agrees with many of the things that Dr. Martin Luther King stood for and agreed with for many years, including unity and equality. And he’s not the one trying to tear the country apart through an impeachment process and a lack of substance that really is very shameful at this point. I don’t think it was within Dr. King’s vision to have Americans dragged through a process where the president is not going to be removed from office, is not being charged with bribery, extortion, high crimes or misdemeanors.”

Somebody really needs to shut this woman up, for she knows not what she says … she just opens her mouth and out comes stupid.


The hovering dentist

Dr. Seth Lookhart is was a dentist in Anchorage, Alaska.  One of his patients was a woman named Veronica Wilhelm, who one day needed a tooth extracted.  Simple procedure, right?  Well … Dr. Lockhart performed the procedure … while on a hoverboard!  But wait … that’s not even the worst of it!

First, he sedated Ms. Wilhelm, filmed himself extracting the tooth while on his hoverboard, and … wait for it … sent the video clip to at least eight of his friends!

Turns out this wasn’t his only crime, for he has been billing Medicaid for types of expensive sedation not typically covered by private insurance.  His misdemeanor medical assistance fraud offenses carry a possible sentence of up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $25,000 and he could be ordered to return funds to the state of Alaska Medicaid program and his former business partners.


Okay, folks, that’s all I’ve got for today … time to go look in on the impeachment trial …

The bushfires and climate action

The Australian bushfires continue to burn. Last I heard, some 14 million acres had burned or were burning. The devastation and loss of wildlife are simply heartbreaking. Our friend Anne Lawson has written a highly informative post about it that I ask you to take a look at. There are several links to additional information, as well. Thank you, Anne, for this excellent post and for all the information. Keep safe, my friend.

Anne Lawson Art

You know that there are mega-fires burning in Australia.

You know that fires have been burning for months now.

You know that lives have been lost, many houses burnt and huge areas of bush land scorched. If you would like to read more depth about the fires, including the background to the extended fire season and the extent of the fires and scary videos, read this article and/or this one. My heart goes out to those who have lost their loved ones and their worlds. And a huge amount of gratitude to the fire fighters who have done such an incredible job, sometimes sacrificing their lives.

You know too that the generosity of people from around the world has been overwhelming. More about donations later.

So, read elsewhere for the facts and figures; I want to give you my opinions.

There have been horrifying images of injured and dead…

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Snarky … grrrrrr … Snippets

I thought I had gotten rid of most of the snarky yesterday afternoon, but it turns out I had more.  And one of my beloved readers said that yesterday’s snarky snippets were too mild and asked if I was coming down with something.  So, let me see if I can do better today …


Send Lindsey to Siberia … please!

Lindsey-Graham-2-facesYesterday, after Nancy Pelosi appointed the seven impeachment managers who will prosecute the case against Donald Trump, the seven hand delivered the two articles of impeachment to the Senate.  Weasel Lindsey Graham, he who cannot remember which side of the fence he sits on, had this to say …

“The best thing for the American people is to end this crap as quickly as possible, to have a trial in the Senate, bipartisan acquittal of the president. And on Feb. 4, when the president comes into the House chamber to deliver the State of the Union, he will have been acquitted by the Senate.”

Lindsey-Graham-2NOT SO FAST, you little jerk!  The president having already been impeached, this is serious business and you get paid to take it seriously.  Obviously, Lindsey is not qualified to sit on the jury, for he has already shown bias.  Can you imagine during jury selection for a murder trial, if a potential juror said “let’s just end this crap quickly and acquit him”?  Get him out!  Send him … and Moscow Mitch along with him … to Siberia … without winter coats!

Now, there isn’t much hope that the Senate will ultimately convict and evict Trump, but there is now some ray of hope that they will be forced to allow witnesses and testimony, which Mitch had initially said he would not allow.  Republican Senators Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, Lamar Alexander, and Lisa Murkowski appear to be willing to call witnesses, including John Bolton.  Two other senators have indicated that they are not willing to rush the trial just to have it done with before Trump’s State of the Union on February 4th.


Lies, lies, and still more lies …

Trump and his tweets … don’t believe a single thing that comes out of his mouth or his tweety-thumbs.  A few examples from yesterday …

Trump: I was the person who saved Pre-Existing Conditions in your Healthcare.

False. In fact, Trump has done everything he can to undermine protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions, from spending two years trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s protections, to authorizing the sale of short term health plans that don’t have to cover pre-existing conditions so Americans unknowingly lose their protections.

Trump: …if Republicans win in court and take back the House of Representatives, your healthcare, that I have now brought to the best place in many years, will become the best ever, by far.

False. The Trump Administration is currently in the courts trying, yet again, to get the entire Affordable Care Act struck down, which would mean 20 million Americans lose their care and all the protections put in place, including protections for pre-existing conditions, would go away — immediately.

Trump: I will always protect your Pre-Existing Conditions, the Dems will not!

False. Trump STILL hasn’t put forward a health care plan that would do anything other than make millions of Americans lose their care and mean worse health insurance for millions more. He’s had three years to do it.


Send Junior to fight the fires …

Much of Australia is being devastated by the bushfires that have been burning out of control for weeks now.  I hadn’t heard much news on this side of the pond about what the U.S. was doing, other than having sent firefighters, so I went in search of.  Now, between the Soleimani assassination, Iran’s missiles fired in retaliation, impeachment, and the downed Iranian jetliner in Iran, the Australian fires and most everything else have been relegated to the back pages, so I turned to sources outside the U.S.

What I found was that Trump had “sent love” to Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison.  That was about it for Trump’s response.  Go figure.  But Junior had his say … a chip off the ol’ lying block, Junior falsely claimed that the fires were all a result of arsonists, not climate change.

After Junior’s tweet, conservative media outlets quickly picked up and amplified the story. They championed it as finally revealing the true cause of the catastrophe, not to mention undermining the legitimacy of climate change and adding that extra thrill of a conspiracy theory.

But Junior’s wasn’t the only conspiracy theory, nor even the worst of the lot.  One conspiracy bizarrely claims bushfires have been lit to clear a path for high-speed rail down Australia’s east coast. Others baselessly claim Islamic State is instructing its followers to wage war on the country with fire, that Chinese billionaires are using lasers to clear the path for new cities, or that eco-terrorists are trying to spur action on climate change by manufacturing a catastrophe.

Anything to keep from having to admit that climate change is a real threat and that if we don’t change our ways, we will destroy all life on this planet.  Prime Minister Scott Morrison, like Donald Trump, is largely a climate denier, always seeking other excuses.  Animals are dying by the thousands, people’s homes are being destroyed, and the only thing people can seem to think about is making up trashy conspiracy theories?  Some days I hate humans!


Well, I’ve got my blood pressure up and heart racing now, plus I’ve likely worn the lettering off another key or two on my laptop, so I think I shall stop snarking … there, was that snarky enough for everyone?  Oh, one aside … today is National Nothing Day.  According to the National Day Calendar people …

“The observance was created as a day to provide Americans with one National Day when they can just sit without celebrating, observing or honoring anything.  While it may be a good day to celebrate nothing at all, we suppose putting nothing in a glass and setting it on a table might suffice for celebration. You might leave your diary page blank on every January 16th. Don’t mark anything on the calendar on the 16th, either. It would be interesting to see what would happen if you sent a blank email dated January 16th. How many replies would you get saying, ‘There’s nothing here.’ 

For people whose birthday lands on January 16th, wrap an empty box. That should elicit and a nothing response appropriate for the celebration.  When asked, “What are your plans, today?” your response should definitely be, “Nothing.” What else would your answer be on a day like today? Now that we think about it, “Nothing” works well as an answer when recognizing the day.”

So, have a Happy Nothing Day!

Words of Un-Wisdom …

Trump held a rally in Toledo, Ohio, last Thursday, less than a week after ordering the assassination of a high-level foreign official, nearly starting a war, and indirectly causing the deaths of 176 people.  Tonight, I would like to share some of his words of wisdom with you, so you can see just what a brilliant leader this nation has.  And, of course I cannot resist an occasional snarky comment of my own.

  • “So, we have all forms of energy. We have every form of energy and we are doing great, but they want to cripple your state’s economy. And our air and our water right now is cleaner than it’s been in 40 years, and sadly, I can’t say historic because, you know, a couple of hundred years ago there was nobody here, right? So, I assume that 200 or 300 years ago was cleaner, probably. You never know, but our water and our air is as clean as it’s ever been, and I took us out of that horrible Paris accord.” A couple of hundred years ago there was nobody here?  According to the latest scientific journals, humans have been on earth for approximately 60,000 years, and on what is now known as the North American continent for some 17,000 years.  Dumb, Donnie, dumb.  And about that clean air … that you have made progressively worse in your vendetta against our last real president, President Barack Obama.

  • “We are finally putting America first. But while we are creating jobs and killing terrorists, the Washington Democrats are wasting America’s time with demented hoaxes and crazy witch hunts. Think of it. From the day I came down that escalator, it started. Who the hell else could have taken this stuff, right? Do I get some credit for that? Most guys would have been in the corner with their thumb in their mouth. Saying, mommy, mommy take me home. These are bad people.”  Why should “America” be first?  We are among the most arrogant, greedy, bigoted people on earth!  Really, Donnie?  You who whines like a toddler whenever anybody criticizes you?

  • “Last year alone, ICE officers, who by the way, are heroes. These are brave people. I don’t want to do it. You don’t want to do it. Let’s see if you could do it? You could do it over there, you could do it. Mostly, you would not. I mean, I’ve seen it. They have these people, they like are killers and our guys are here and they run and they call them nets, they have nets, and they run and they’re swinging and punching.” Do what, Donnie???  Chase poor refugees with butterfly nets?  Do you know what you’re talking about?  I sure as hell don’t!

  • “Democrats stand for crime, corruption, and chaos. Republicans stand for law, order, and justice. That’s really the way it is. I have to tell you, a lot of things are happening.” Um, yeah, like the illegal assassination of an Iranian general that has no justification, like nearly starting a war, like destroying our reputation in the Western world, like …

  • “But see, I don’t like doing this too soon. I did it with Pocahontas. I came up with this great name. I came up with a lot of different stuff. I said she was a total fraud and everybody believed me, and she went down.” The leader of one of the largest western nations bragging about his bigotry and misogyny, and about making up childish names to taunt an opponent.   Just wow.

  • “Virtually, every top Democrat also now supports late-term abortion, ripping babies straight from the mother’s womb right up until the moment of birth. That is why I’ve asked Congress to prohibit late-term abortion because Republicans believe that every child is a sacred gift from God.” Um, Donnie? “Ripping babies from the womb at the moment of birth”?  That’s called “childbirth” and it is a natural process … the same one by which you, unfortunately, came into the world.

  • “Now, you have a President who is standing up for America. Great. At stake in our present battle is the survival of the American nation. If you want your children to inherit the blessings that generations of Americans have fought and died for, and fought so hard to secure, then, we must devote everything we have toward victory in 2020. We have to win. Only this way can we save the America that we love and drain the Washington swamp once and for all, and I have seen that dirty, rotten swamp better than anybody else in America, a lot of crooked people.” YOU appointed all those crooked people, Donnie! YOU filled the swamp! “Who would’ve thought that’s possible? Who would have thought that’s possible? We will defend privacy, free speech, religious liberty, and the right to keep and bear arms. And above all, we will never stop fighting for the sacred values that bind us together as one big beautiful America. We support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”  Would that be the same Constitution you have trampled, spat on, and lit afire?

  • “I am such a smart guy. I said this is the most brilliant thing ever and I went back to my people and I said, you know, I have an idea.” Mark the day on your calendar folks.

  • “And we have Bernie and Nancy Pelosi, we have them all.” All two of ’em, Donnie?  Let’s just count and make sure, shall we?

  • “We got to get lined up, Adam, you little pencil neck, nine inches.” If he has nine inches, he’s got you beat by five, Donnie.

And this is the one that takes the cake, my friends …

  • “I’m going to tell you about the Nobel Peace Prize. I’ll tell you about that. I made a deal. I saved a country, and I just heard that the head of that country is now getting the Nobel Peace Prize for saving the country. I said, what — did I have something to do with it? Yeah, but you know that’s the way it is. As long as we know, that’s all that matters, OK? I saved a big war, saved a couple of them, but under my administration, we will never make excuses for America’s enemies. We will never hesitate in defending American lives, and we will never stop working to defeat radical Islamic terrorism, never.” The winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize was Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.  Mr Abiy has introduced massive liberalising reforms to Ethiopia, shaking up what was a tightly controlled nation.  He freed thousands of opposition activists from jail and allowed exiled dissidents to return home. He has also allowed the media to operate freely and appointed women to prominent positions.  I fail to see what Trump believes he contributed … 🤷

Well, there you have it folks … as they say in poker … “read ‘em and weep”.  These are the words of the person who holds our lives in his tiny hands.  Think about that one for a minute.

The Week’s Best Cartoons ⚡ 1/11

I hadn’t done a ‘toon post for a while, as events of the past week or so kept me busy, but last night I came across this one by our friend TokyoSand, and it seemed a perfect recap of recent events. Thank you, TS, for this collection of some of the amazing talent that helps put the events of our time into visual satire!

Political⚡Charge

By Graeme MacKay, Hamilton Spectator

Alarming. Insightful. Devastating.

The best editorial cartoons express a strong opinion, and in so doing, make us feel something emotionally. This week, these were the cartoons that made me stand up and take notice. Which ones grab you the most?

Iran

ByJimmy Margulies, King Features

By Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

By Walt Handelsman,The Advocate

By John Cole, The Times-Tribune

By Kevin Kal Kallaugher,Kaltoons

By Ed Hall

By Kevin Siers, Charlotte Observer

By Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune

ByDavid Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Daily Star

By Ed Wexler

By Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune

By Ed Hall

By Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

By Christopher Weyant

Impeachment

By Lalo Alcaraz

By Matt Wuerker, Politico

By Steve Sack, Star Tribune

By Kevin Siers, Charlotte Observer

By Scott Stantis, Chicago Tribune

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U.S. Fails Puerto Rico — Again

Last Tuesday, after ten days of experiencing earth tremors, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico was hit with an earthquake measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale.  Yesterday morning, after days of aftershocks, the island was once again hit with a 5.9-magnitude quake, and today they are experiencing more aftershocks.

PR-flagPuerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States; its 3.4 million residents are citizens of the United States who pay federal taxes and pay into Social Security and Medicare just as any other U.S. citizen.

If almost any city in the continental U.S. had been hit with two earthquakes of this magnitude in under a week, it would be headline news every day, and the federal government would be sending troops to help residents, keep the streets safe, prevent looting, and assist in cleanup operations.  For Puerto Rico?  The government is doing nothing as far as I can tell.

You may remember that in 2017, Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria, with nearly 3,000 human lives lost as a result of the Category 4 storm.  The island still has not fully recovered and they are still waiting for some $18 billion in federal funding that was designated by Congress after Maria.  The holdup has continued past a congressionally mandated deadline last fall for more than $8 billion of the aid to be officially announced, and on Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused the Trump administration of acting unlawfully in withholding the money. (Perhaps he is waiting for them to dig up dirt on Joe Biden?)

You may also recall that after Hurricane Maria, Donald Trump briefly visited the island and … threw rolls of paper towels into the crowd of people who had come to hear him speak, hoping for promise of some real help. trump-paper-towels.jpgTrump has repeatedly claimed that he has done more for Puerto Rico than any other U.S. president, but I think if you ask the citizens of Puerto Rico, they’ll tell you that is naught but another of his lies.  In the aftermath of Tuesday’s earthquake, not a word has been heard from Trump, though he did sign a disaster relief bill authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist.  If it had happened in San Francisco or Miami, he would have at least been tweeting “thoughts and prayers”.  But for Puerto Rico, nothing.

But, the federal government is not the only one who is kicking the Puerto Ricans while they are down!  Given that the aftershocks have not ceased since the initial quake, it is understandable that many residents are trying to leave the island.  Now, on an average day, a ticket from Puerto Rico to Florida would run between $85 – $120.  Today, both United and Delta Airlines are charging between $249 – $349 – a nearly 200% increase!  This, my friends, is how capitalism works. They call it the law of supply and demand, but I call it unconscionable opportunism.  This is taking advantage of people who are desperate.  This makes me sick.

The Florida Attorney General’s office says that airlines prices do not fall under the state’s price gouging statute, and even then, the statute only applies when Florida is under a state of emergency.  The Better Business Bureau said there is no regulation in place for prices of airline tickets during natural disasters.

All in all, Puerto Ricans have gotten a raw deal from the U.S. and the president of the country is too busy assassinating foreign leaders, lying about the reasons for doing so, tweeting criticisms of anybody & everybody, falsely bragging about being the greatest president ever, and ranting about having been impeached, to do his job, to help suffering people.  Meanwhile, Puerto Ricans are without power, many are sleeping outside for fear of the next quake, and most cannot afford to leave and have nowhere else to go.  Once again, I am deeply ashamed of this nation … we have sunk to a new low.

Donald Trump — Environmentalist??? 🤣

Donald Trump is going to read a book!  Or, so he says anyway.  The book, of course, is about him (the only subject that interests him) and is surely as big a farce as any ever written.  There have been numerous books written about Donnie both before and since his occupation of the Oval Office, but this one …

Trump-book-farce

The book was written and self-published in 2016 by Edward Russo who acted as an environmental consultant for Donald F. Trump and the Trump Organization for fifteen years.  Russo claims to be an environmentalist, but let’s face it folks … no true environmentalist is going to applaud Donald Trump’s destructive policies.  Russo praised Trump’s EPA budget cuts, claiming they will increase the agency’s “focus”.  Say WHAT???  And in a 2017 interview, he said …

“Every time there’s lightning or thunder that, oh, it’s climate change. Climate change is a natural change in balance of the Earth, it happens all the time.”

Wow … try telling that to the Australians!  I’m not sure of Mr. Russo’s background, but I suspect he doesn’t have a Ph.D. in any branch of science that would give him credibility here.

At an event at the White House yesterday, the same day that Trump announced a rollback of environmental regulations at the White House, taking an ax to the environmental review process required for infrastructure projects, he was asked by a reporter if he still considers climate change to be a hoax, as he has claimed so many times.  His reply …

“No, not at all. Nothing’s a hoax. Nothing’s a hoax about that. It’s a very serious subject. I want clean air. I want clean water. I want the cleanest air, want the cleanest water. The environment is very important to me.

Somebody wrote a book that I’m an environmentalist and actually called, ‘The Environmentalist’, actually, before I did this. But they wrote a book. I’d like to get it. I have it in the other office. I’ll bring it to my next news conference, perhaps. I’m sure you’ll be thrilled to see it. I’m sure you’ll report all about it.

But no, I’m a big believer in that word: the environment. I’m a big believer. But I want clean air. I want clean water. And I also want jobs, though. I want I don’t want to close up our industry because somebody said, you know, you have to go with wind or you have to go with something else that’s not going to be able to have the capacity to do what we have to do. We have the best employment numbers we’ve ever had. We have the best unemployment numbers we’ve ever had. So that’s very important.”

So … he’d like to get the book, but he has it in the other office and will bring it to his next news conference … perhaps.  FOR PETE’S SAKE … this man can barely read at a 1st grade level!!!  Remember the book titled The Art of the Deal, which carried Trump’s name as author, but was actually ghost-written by Tony Schwartz?  Here’s what Mr. Schwartz said back in 2015 when Trump first announced his candidacy for president …

“I put lipstick on a pig. I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is. I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”

If he were writing The Art of the Deal today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, The Sociopath.

Now, check out this tweet from 2018 …

Trump-tweet-2

And yet, he never wrote the first word in any book.  In fact, Tony Schwartz, who in 2016 said he deeply regretted his work on The Art of the Deal, said of Trump …

“He doesn’t read books and he doesn’t write them.” 

Frankly, it is my humble opinion that he isn’t capable of reading books with large words or complex subject matter, though at one time he claimed to have kept Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf by his bedside for nighttime reading.  Um … tells you something, yes?

But, back to the Russo book … it has such a great rating on Amazon that if you own a Kindle, you can read it for free.  No, thank you, I will pass on this freebie.  Here are a few of the one-star comments …

“Alternative facts abound. What a strange, mendacious little book. Hard to believe it wasn’t intended as satire.”

“And now I have some real estate on the moon I’d like to sell you. Right – because banning the EPA from posting anything regarding climate change or using social media, period – that’s the work of an environmental hero.”

But there were some 5-star reviews, as well …

“A surprising side of the DONALD, from an Insider! The book shows interesting examples of why he is such an all-around brilliant businessman, and surprisingly, truly concerned about nature and the environment.”

“Amazing how the tabloid press kept all of this hidden. This is a matter of public record, but they purposly ignored it because it doesn’t fit their anti-Trump narrative. Great job. We want more!”

facepalm

Thus far, Trump has rolled back most of the environmental regulations that were in effect when he took office, dissing the environment in favour of his friends, the fossil fuel and logging barons.  And, as mentioned above, yesterday he announced revisions to one of the most consequential environmental laws in U.S. history known as the National Environmental Policy Act. The changes would essentially gut parts of the act, making it so regulators can’t consider the climate impacts of oil, gas, and other harmful projects and ensuring some projects are exempt from environmental review altogether, all while reducing the time for public input on projects. The whole rollback could result in harm to communities near major infrastructure projects as well as the global climate.

No, my friends, Trump is no environmentalist and the book by Mr. Russo should rightly be classified as fiction.  There is a fascinating article about Tony Schwartz and his writing of The Art of the Deal in The New Yorker … I strongly encourage you to take a look!

♫ Big Yellow Taxi ♫

A conversation with David yesterday triggered the thought of tonight’s song, a very meaningful one back then … and now.

Released in 1970, Big Yellow Taxi was written, composed, and originally recorded by Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell.

“I wrote ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ on my first trip to Hawaii. I took a taxi to the hotel and when I woke up the next morning, I threw back the curtains and saw these beautiful green mountains in the distance. Then, I looked down and there was a parking lot as far as the eye could see, and it broke my heart… this blight on paradise. That’s when I sat down and wrote the song.”

The song is known for its environmental concern – “They paved paradise to put up a parking lot” and “Hey farmer, farmer, put away that DDT now” – and sentimental sound. The line “They took all the trees, and put ’em in a tree museum / And charged the people a dollar and a half just to see ’em” refers to Foster Botanical Garden in downtown Honolulu, which is a living museum of tropical plants, some rare and endangered.

In the song’s final verse, the political gives way to the personal. Mitchell recounts the departure of her “old man” in the eponymous “big yellow taxi”, which may refer to the old Metro Toronto Police patrol cars, which until 1986 were painted yellow. In many covers the departed one may be interpreted as variously a boyfriend, a husband or a father. The literal interpretation is that he is walking out on the singer by taking a taxi; otherwise it is assumed he is being taken away by the authorities.

Interestingly, the song fared better almost everywhere than it did in the U.S.big-yellow-taxi

Mitchell lived in Laurel Canyon, which is a section of Los Angeles, when she wrote this song (that’s the reference in the album title). At the time, big news in California was the battle to save the redwood forests, which were threatened by developers eager to cut down the trees to build shopping centers and other amenities. As Mitchell implies in this song, this could lead to trees someday becoming something you could only see in a museum.

Now, Joni Mitchell’s is the iconic version of the song, but many in the U.S. may better remember a later recording by a group called Counting Crows … and so, I present you with both here … take your pick, or check them both out!

Big Yellow Taxi
Joni Mitchell/Counting Crows

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot spot

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got til its gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

They took all the trees
And put ’em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half to seem ’em

No no no
Don’t it always seem to go,
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Til its gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Hey farmer farmer
Put away the DDT
I don’t care about spots on my apples
Leave me the birds and the bees
Please!

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Til its gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
Hey, now they paved paradise
To put up a parking lot
Why not?

Listenin’ late last night
I heard the screen door slam
And a big yellow taxi
Took my girl away
Now, don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Til its gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Hey now, now
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you got
Til its gone
They paved paradise
To put up a parking lot
Why not?
They paved paradise
To put up a parking lot
Hey hey hey
Paved paradise
To put up a parking lot

I don’t want give it
Why you want give,
Why you want give it all away?
Hey hey hey
Now you want give it,
Ah she want to give it
Cause she givin’ it all away
Now now now

I don’t want give it
Why you want give,
Why you want give it all away?
Giving it all, giving it all away

Why you want it?
Why do you want it? (She’s giving it all away)

Hey pave paradise
Put up a parking lot

Songwriters: Joni Mitchell
Big Yellow Taxi lyrics © Crazy Crow Music / Siquomb Music Publishing

A No-Snark (Mostly) Sunday

After my last couple of rather rant-y posts, I felt like giving some thumbs-up and kudos tonight, proving that there are some things to be thankful for.


Christmas was over more than a week ago, but I thought I’d like to highlight a special Santa …Santa-1

That’s right, folks, it’s former President Barack Obama decked out in a fluffy red cap to surprise patients and pass out a few gifts on Christmas Day at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C.  The facility is the same one his wife, Michelle Obama, visited every holiday season during her time as first lady to read stories to patients. She sometimes came with one of the couple’s two daughters.santa-2.pngThis year, it was the 44th president’s turn. He walked the hospital halls with a giant red bag of goodies slung over his shoulder. He visited a hospital playroom and stepped inside patient rooms, to the delight of the children and teens inside.  Dressed casually in a sweater and pair of jeans, Obama posed for selfies while handing out jigsaw puzzles, race cars and other gifts he and his staff collected recently.

santa-3.pngHe also recorded a video message that could be relayed for the people he couldn’t meet during his visit.  Before he left, hospital staff members greeted the president with a rendition of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Obama responded by thanking the crowd for their work during the holidays.

“At a time that obviously is tough for folks, and as the dad of two girls, I can only imagine, in that situation, to have nurses, staff and doctors and people who are caring for them, and looking after them, and listening to them and just there for them and holding their hands. That’s the most important thing there is. What a great reminder of what the holiday spirit is supposed to be all about.”

santa-4.png

santa-5One could make a comparison to another who spent the day in a luxury resort and on a golf course, but I won’t go there.


Two thumbs up to Germany who will close all 84 of its coal power plants. The nation — one of the world’s largest consumers of coal — will rely on renewable energy instead.  The announcement came earlier this year as Germany revealed its struggle to meet its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions targets. Coal accounted for 40% of Germany’s electricity at the start of the year.coal-vs-windCoal is the EU’s biggest economy. Germany accounts for the lion’s share, responsible for around one-third of electricity-related CO2 emissions, according to Carbon Brief. It generates roughly half of the EU’s electricity from brown coal (lignite), which emits higher levels of CO2.

More than halfway into 2019, German coal production had fallen by a fifth, largely replaced by renewables such as wind farms and solar. Wind is on track to become the country’s largest source of electricity, surpassing environmentally-unfriendly lignite. Germany also pledged to close its 19 nuclear power plants since the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster. Renewables will account for 65 to 80 percent of Germany’s electricity by 2040, officials say.


And more good news on the environmental front comes from Australia, where bans introduced by two major retailers, Coles and Woolworths last summer, resulted in an 80 percent reduction in the country’s overall use of single-use plastic bags.

Initially, some customers felt “bag rage” about having to BYO-bag or fork over 15 Australian cents (11 cents) to buy a reusable one. Woolworths execs blamed slumping sales on “customers adjusting” to the plastic bag ban. Coles even briefly backed down on the bag ban and caught a lot of flak from environmentally conscious shoppers for giving away reusable plastic bags.

But the good news is that it seems most Aussies haven’t found it too hard to adjust to the change—and that’s fantastic for our landfills, oceans and the greater environment, which have become dumping grounds for our plastic waste.

There has been a growing movement to ban or tax these bags. Around the world, at least 32 countries have bans in place, according to reusable bag company ReuseThisBag.   The U.S. is obviously NOT one of the nations to ban single use plastic anything.  Only two states, California and Hawaii, have bans on single-use plastic bags.  A handful of others have either a tax or mandatory recycling, but on the federal level there is … nothing.plastic-bagsA personal note here … thanks to the initiative of my environmentally conscientious granddaughter Miss Goose, I now use my own re-usable canvas bags to bring groceries home, and re-usable mesh bags for my produce rather than the store’s plastic bags.  Most of the cashiers and baggers are upbeat about it, but on occasion I have had a surly clerk who acted as if I were intentionally making her life hard by bringing my own bags.  Twice in the past few months, I have written to the management of my local Kroger store, asking what their plans are for replacing plastic bags with paper or some other biodegradable material, but have yet to receive any response.  The U.S., it would seem, is far behine Australia and at least 31 other countries.


Well, that’s your good news for the month, and now I’m going back to my usual fare, complete with snarking, ranting, growling and grumbling.  Have a happy Sunday!