Trump Picks More Losers …

The rollback of regulations that were meant to protect the environment and the withdrawal from the Paris Accord were bad enough.  The nomination of climate change deniers Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke to top positions in agencies whose primary functions pertained to protecting the environment added insult to injury.  And now, to ice the cake, Trump has appointed William Happer for the key job of “senior director for emerging technologies” at the National Security Council.Will-Happer-climate-science-denierWant to know what’s wrong with William Happer?  Happer is a “theoretical physicist”, whatever the heck that is, at Princeton, and is one of the most demented climate change deniers in existence.  Here are just a few of the things he has to say about climate science …

  • In Defense of Carbon Dioxide: “The demonized chemical compound is a boon to plant life and has little correlation with global temperature.”

  • “This is George Orwell. This is the ‘Germans are the master race. The Jews are the scum of the earth.’ It’s that kind of propaganda.”


  • “The demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler. Carbon dioxide is actually a benefit to the world, and so were the Jews.”  Say WHAT???


  • “Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Every time you exhale, you exhale air that has 4 percent carbon dioxide. To say that that’s a pollutant just boggles my mind. What used to be science has turned into a cult.”

So, just what qualifies him for this position?  Well, for many years, he was chairman of the board of the George C. Marshall Institute, which was funded in part by the Koch brothers to promote climate science denial.  He also writes and co-signs anti-science Wall Street Journal op-eds.

Will-HapperThe reality is that Happer knows little about emerging technologies or real threats to America’s national security but he does know a great deal about denying climate science. And, sadly, that appears to be the only qualification you need to join the Trump team these days.

Another Trump nominee, J. Steven Gardner, had been nominated to lead the Interior Department’s mining agency, but withdrew his nomination earlier this week.  Gardner was a long-time coal advocate who applauded the decision last year to allow coal companies to dump their toxic waste into streams.

According to Tom Morris of the Sierra Club …

“Gardner has shown time and again that he will try and fight anything that gets in the way of profits for coal executives — even if it means sacrificing the health of the families and communities …”Steven GardnerLike Zinke, Pruitt, Happer and all the rest in the current administration, he is a denier of climate science.  Some of his beliefs:

  • Mining is simply “accelerated erosion”
  • Mountaintop mining is good because it creates flat land
  • There is no such thing as renewable energy

Fortunately, Gardner has withdrawn his nomination in light of the stalled confirmation process, and certain requirements by the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) with which he was unwilling to comply.  Good riddance, but who will be next?  No doubt another person who doesn’t believe in science, but rather puts corporate profits above preserving our lives.Patrick Chappatte / International New York Times

environment-toon-2

Saturday Surprise — Puffins (& beer)

Hello friends!  Thanks for dropping by before starting your weekend!  Today is the first day of September already!  Can you believe it?  Where has this year gone?  Here in the U.S., it is a 3-day weekend, for Monday is Labour Day.  My Iraqi friends asked me last week, “What is this Labour Day”, and I had to explain that while it was once a day to honour the working people, now it is pretty much just an excuse for a beer-fest.  Then, of course, I was left to explain “beer-fest” to people for whom alcohol is forbidden.  I fall into these traps often … you’d think I would learn, yes?

I know you all have big weekend plans, but I am still taking you on a short journey today … I promise to have you back in plenty of time to carry on with all your weekend plans, but this is just the perfect weekend to make this little jaunt!  Well … actually it’s not all that perfect, because where we are going is to be rainy and the high temps only around 55° F, or 10° C.  But still … we’ll have fun, I promise.  We can pick up some light jackets along the way … apparently the heat wave missed Iceland.  Oh … didn’t I tell you?  Yes, we are traveling to Iceland!Iceland-forecastWhat do you mean, “Why on earth are we going to Iceland?”  We are going to Iceland to see … PUFFINS!!!  You know … puffins … cute little birds … look sort of like miniature penguins?  Oh, c’mon … it’ll be fun … just hope onto the Filo-mobile and let’s go!

The puffin population in Iceland has been decreasing in recent years.  Though some puffin colonies are prospering, in Iceland, where the largest population of Atlantic puffins is found, their numbers have dropped from roughly seven million individuals to about 5.4 million.  The reasons are many:  fickle prey, overfishing, pollution, and climate change, which is diminishing food supplies like the silvery sand eels, which dangle from the parents’ beaks as they bring them to their young.  In addition, since they are considered to be very tasty, they are hunted as game birds.  No, we will not be trying them!

We have arrived, so let us check out some puffins, shall we?puffin-2.gif

The puffin is not the official bird of Iceland – that would be the gyrfalcon.  But puffins get far more attention, especially from tourists.  Did you know that puffins are only on land for about four months a year?  Right … they will soon be taking themselves back out into the cold Atlantic sea, where they will spend the next eight months or so hunting for fish.  They really only return to land in the spring in order to mate and nest.

Puffins-kissing

Awwwwwwww

Puffins choose partners for life, and while on land, they even share parenting duties, but once they go back out to sea, they go their separate ways until next spring.  I’m pretty sure that is the male’s idea.

puffin-chick

Puffin chick

Puffins are great little swimmers and divers, but when it comes to flying … meh, not so great.  So, watching them take off and land is rather hilarious!

puffin-landingAnd did you know that their gorgeous, colourful beaks aren’t always so colourful?  Puffins molt during their time at sea and shed all the colourful portions of their beaks as well as the black markings around their eyes in the process.

puffin-fish-in-mouth

Lookee what I caught!!!

The joint of their beaks are notched so that the birds can hang on to their catch even while diving back in, open-mouthed for more. One little puffin can carry up to 10 fish in its muzzle at any one time!

Okay, folks … it’s getting downright chilly here, and the rain has soaked through to the skin, so I think it’s time to bid adieu to the puffins.

puffin-1puffin-2Before we head back home, though, there is one last stop I want to make.

Welcome to Akureyri, home of the giant beer can! beer-can-1.jpg

From 1915-1989, beer was banned in Iceland. Although it seems completely counter-intuitive compared to the image of the beer and mead-swilling Viking sailor, the malted beverage was outlawed for most of the 20th century. Today, Iceland has begun to embrace the drink, and a giant beer can at the Viking brewery in Akureyri marks that change.

beer-can-2.JPGStand over there … facing the beer can, to the left, near the corner of the building.  See that pipe?  No, no, no Hugh … do NOT drink what’s coming out of the pipe … they say it isn’t potable, but its sole purpose is to add a nice beer smell to the area.  Okay guys … I’m ready to head home now, where the temps should be in the high 70s and the ice in my hair can melt!20180419_141127.jpgWhew … this is better!  Okay, folks … keep safe and have a great time this weekend!

Only in America …

As I scrolled through the evening news last night, I came across story after story that had me shaking my head and saying, “Only in America”.  Not, mind you, in a good way.  So, after about the third one, I decided to compile them all into this post. Turned out I couldn’t fit them all into a single post, so there may be a follow-up … who knows?  I have a backlog …


Does he or doesn’t he believe in climate change science???

CulbersonJohn Abney Culberson is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the State of Texas.  He is a republican … go figure.  He is a climate-change denier who claims that scientists have falsified data and that “the liberal obsession with climate change… is driven by their desire to raise more money for the government”.

Compared to Trump’s nearly half-million dollars spent from campaign funds buying the silence of his former paramours, Mr. Culberson’s improper expenditure of a mere $50,000 might seem like next to nothing, but a crime is a crime, and the hypocrisy in this one is truly astounding.  The expenditures in question include books, coins, Civil War memorabilia and other collectibles … nobody is quite sure how these were needed for his campaign.  It is well known that Culberson has a personal interest in collectibles and antiques, but he denies that these items were purchased to add to his collection.  Instead … guess what his reasoning is?  According to the Houston Chronicle …

“Culberson’s aides explained the purchase as research material on paleo-climatology, a subject that would help him understand climate science for his position on an appropriations subcommittee that oversees the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. They said the materials helped give him a better understanding of the changing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”

But … but … I thought he didn’t believe in climate change?

Only in America


A really bad move that will probably win him votes …

DeSantis-Gullim

Ron DeSantis/Andrew Gillum

In Tuesday night’s Florida primary elections, Ron DeSantis won the Republican Party nomination for the office of governor, and Andrew Gillum won the Democratic Party nomination.  Andrew Gillum is African-American, a fact that I mention only because of what happened after the election.

“The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state. That is not going to work. That’s not going to be good for Florida.” – Ron DeSantis

A word.  A single word turned this statement from a typical hot-air bit of political rhetoric into an ugly, racist remark.  Members of both parties, as well as Fox News spoke out against DeSantis’ comment.  The NAACP Florida State Conference responded to DeSantis, calling comparisons to monkeys “by far the best-known racist references to African Americans in our national folklore.”

So, perhaps racist remarks by politicians are not exclusive to the United States, but the fact that the president of the nation defended the remarks and that he will likely gain voters for his remarks is, I think, unique.

Trump said he didn’t hear DeSantis’ racial slur, but then praised him as being “an extreme talent” and criticized Gillum, calling him a “failed Socialist Mayor”.

Only in America


Are you sure you were born?

U.S. citizens – people who were born in this country and have the official birth certificate that proves it – are being denied their rights to obtain a passport, and not only that, but their very citizenship is in question.  Even worse, some citizens are being refused entry to their country of origin, the country the were born in! In some cases, passport applicants with official U.S. birth certificates are being jailed in immigration detention centers and forced into deportation proceedings.

passportWHY, you ask?  Because this is part of Trump & Co’s effort to reduce both legal and illegal immigration, and the State Department claims that “the U.S.-Mexico border region happens to be an area of the country where there has been a significant incidence of citizenship fraud.”  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Guess what, Mr. Michael Pompeo, head of the State Department?  I would rather let 100 immigrants in than to abuse a citizen … or anyone … in this manner.  In my book Mike Pompeo and Donald Trump both earn a ZERO rating on human rights issues!

(Sorry, folks … my blood boiled for a minute there)

Only in America


Alternative Reality?

In January 2017, KellyAnne Conway, some sort of assistant to Donald Trump, though none of us have figured out quite what her role is other than to put her feet on the furniture and dress funny, coined the phrase ‘alternative facts’, when referring to the paltry number of people that attended the inauguration of Donald Trump.  It has become rather the Orwellian buzzword, the joke of the day every day, ever since.  Then we saw evidence of an alternative vocabulary, where up was down, good was bad, red was green, and so forth.  Today, though, I believe we are seeing an ‘alternative reality’.

On September 20th last year, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico … hard!  It is on record as being the worst natural disaster to hit the island in all of recorded history.  The storm caused at least $90 billion of structural damage; the power grid was destroyed, leaving millions without electricity; neighborhoods were flooded; communication networks were down; over 1 million people had no drinking water; 93% of roads were impassible; infrastructure was heavily damaged, more than 60,000 homes were destroyed or heavily damaged, and the list goes on.

Keep in mind that Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, and its residents are U.S. citizens.  Yet, response and aid from the U.S. to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Maria was slow … it was nearly two weeks after the storm before the first official U.S. aid arrived on Puerto Rico’s shores.  Trump made a visit in early October 2017 and made a virtual ass of himself by throwing rolls of paper towels to people who were suffering from a lack of food, electricity, potable water, had lost their homes, and in some cases their loved ones.  But yesterday he went one better …

trump paper towelsFor a long time, the death toll was officially recorded at only 64, though we all knew it was much higher, but there were a number of reasons it could not be accurately tallied.  This week, the official death toll is 2,975 people as a direct or indirect result of Hurricane Maria.  Some of those deaths would likely have been prevented with more and speedier assistance from the U.S.  But take heart, for Donald Trump says we did great.

“I think we did a fantastic job!” said he to … whomever believes hisbullshit.

We did a terrible job.  Too little, too late, and for too short a time.  We should be hanging our heads in shame, apologizing to the residents of Puerto Rico.  Donald can toot his horn, but ain’t nobody buyin’ it.

Only in America


Yeah, I know we are not the worst.  Many nations’ human rights violations should give us nightmares, many countries use and abuse their citizens far worse than we do.  No, we are not the worst.  But I’ve got news for you … we are far from being the best.  We are far from being even as good as we once were.  And we are getting worse by the day.  Think about it.

Letter from Newtie!

Yesterday afternoon, as I was flipping through my AOL spam folder to make sure nothing had gotten in there that shouldn’t have, I came across an email from, of all people, Newt Gingrich!  For my non-U.S. friends, Newt represented the State of Georgia in the House of Representatives from 1979 to 1999, and was Speaker of the House for his last four years in office.  Since Trump took office last year, Newt has hung on his coattails and is yet another of Trump’s bootlickers, although he seems to have no official capacity within the administration.

I was fairly excited to see that he had emailed me, for I was a bit stressed and needed a good laugh, which I was sure anything coming from a republican politician would provide.  Here is the text of the letter …

**************************************************

Fellow Conservative,

I have alarming news. This year, Senate Democrats have built a substantial fundraising lead over Republicans. Democrats are strategizing ways to use their fundraising advantage to bombard Republican candidates with attack ads on television, radio, and online.

With only 3 days until the August fundraising deadline, we don’t have much time to catch up.

Unless we take immediate action, Republican Senate candidates in battleground states will not have the resources needed to respond to negative and misleading attacks from the left. Donate today and a generous group of donors will quadruple-match your contribution.

Liberal elites are throwing everything they have towards winning races in battleground states. There is a real possibility that Republicans could lose the majority in the Senate and Chuck Schumer could take over as Majority Leader. If this happens, this would be disastrous for President Trump’s agenda. Please contribute now to stand with Senate Republicans as they fight to stop Schumer and the liberal establishment from taking over.

Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters, and all of their cronies are utilizing every underhanded tactic available to prevent President Trump from accomplishing his plans for Making America Great Again.

It’s crucial that we have the resources to respond to deceptive attacks from the left. Otherwise, Democrats could sway public opinion towards their side, and President Trump’s Majority could be lost.

Defeating Democrats and securing our Republican Majority will require all of us doing our part. Make a Quadruple-Matched Donation today!

Chip in $250 immediately >>>

Chip in $100 immediately >>>

Chip in $50 immediately >>>

Chip in $25 immediately >>>

I hope you will help us fight back against relentless attacks from the left and achieve conservative victories in this year’s midterm elections.

Thank you,

Newt Gingrich

**************************************************

And I shall now reply to Uncle Newtie …

Dear Newt (I hope you don’t mind that I do away with formalities here),

First of all, I think your information machine needs to go to the shop for repair, or perhaps even be replaced, for whoever told you that I am a “fellow conservative” was dead wrong.  I am, if you insist that I must have a label, a democratic-socialist.  I used to be fairly moderate, but you guys have pushed me far to the left.

I have news for you … Democrats do not need to do a whole lot of work or be particularly devious in order to out-fundraise you republicans.  People are fed up with you guys.  People are willing to give ‘til it hurts to ensure that the sycophants in Congress are sent packing in November.  You guys had a chance to do something good.  You had an opportunity to rise above the trash in the White House and stand for the people you represent.  Instead, every republican in Congress with the occasional exception of the late Senator McCain, sold out our country, failed to stand for doing the right thing, and chose instead to lick the boots of the man whose stench is so bad it crosses oceans.  And that, dear Newt, is why people are donating more to the democrats than the republicans.

Republicans in battleground or any other states don’t need money to win the election so much as they need something that not a one of them has:  integrity.  Sorry, old chap … money cannot buy integrity, it cannot buy respect.  You guys have lost our respect with your constant barrage of lies and your blind support of Donald Trump.

Yes, if democrats win a majority in Congress, we will certainly do everything in our power to put the brakes on Trump’s ignoble agenda.  First on the agenda will be to reinstate environmental regulations, for we rather like having clean air to breath, clean water to drink, and a home that is capable of sustaining life.  Second, we will begin working on serious sensible gun regulations to try to ensure that our children can go to school safely, and be taught by teachers who teach, rather than having to play armed guard.  Other issues on the agenda are: to confirm only people who are qualified for the job for which they are being considered and, in the case of the Supreme Court Justice, are very moderate, non-partisan judges; to protect the investigation by Robert Mueller and his team from the whims of the madman in the Oval Office; to consider a repeal of the tax bill that was passed in December that has cut revenue to a critical point such that our national debt and deficit are inevitably going to spiral out of control soon.  You will notice that I did not mention “impeachment”.  That is not the plan at this time, though I wish it were, but we are smart … smarter by far than you give us credit for, and we realize we could not remove the clown from office just yet.

Trump’s agenda was never going to “make America great again” by any stretch of the imagination.  His agenda was only going to “make the wealthy wealthier” and to hell with all the rest of us.  In order to get and keep the backing of his 40% or so base, he has proven he is willing to give them what they want … a white, Christian, straight society with no room for those of us who are different in any way. Thus far, not a single thing he has done has been to the benefit of the average citizen.  Not. One. Single. Thing.  His agenda needs to be toasted until it is naught but ashes.  He is in the process of selling the soul of this nation for his own enrichment … and yours.

As regards your request for a donation, first of all, you are barking up a dead tree, and secondly, I wouldn’t contribute to the evil that has become the GOP if I did have money to spare, for the reasons noted above.  I’m sure your wealthy donors, as well as your bedfellows in the NRA will be more than happy to continue shelling out money for your agenda, since it benefits them.  It does not benefit me, or frankly anybody I know, and I am appalled on a daily basis by the shenanigans you guys are pulling.  It’s time to stop the madness.

Sincerely,

Jill Dennison

P.S.  Your book on Pearl Harbour was very good, as was the one on Gettysburg.  Perhaps you should have stuck with writing historical novels and stayed out of politics?

Thoughts on “Making America Great … Again?”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo came under fire this week for comments he made on Wednesday at a bill-signing ceremony.

“We’re not going to make America great again — it was never that great. We have not reached greatness. We will reach greatness when every American is fully engaged. We will reach greatness when discrimination and stereotyping against women — 51 percent of our population — is gone and every woman’s full potential is realized and unleashed.”

For the record, and at the risk of drawing my own fire, I agree with him.  There are things about this country that are truly wonderful, but there are a lot of things that are broken and need to be fixed, as well.  To his comments, I would add that we will reach greatness when there is no discrimination and when we accept that it is the responsibility of every adult to care for those less fortunate, and when we acknowledge that people matter more than ‘things’.

Reading his words, the criticisms and his rather odd retraction set my mind on a ponderous path, wondering … what, exactly, is “great”?  I strongly suspect that each of us have our own ideas of what makes a nation ‘great’, and that many of our definitions would be at odds with one another’s.  We don’t have to wonder what Trump means when he claims he is ‘making America great again’, for he lets us know in no uncertain terms.  Trump’s idea of greatness and mine diverge more than slightly, however.  But what would really be interesting is to understand how other average people would define greatness, and whether we have any common ground, republican vs democrat, liberal vs conservative, in our ideas about ‘greatness’.

Do we even know what we think would make the nation ‘great’?  We use the term often enough, but have we really sat down and taken the time to think about why our nation is or isn’t great, and what must change to make it so?

And so, dear friends, you have the dubious honour today of being privy to the ponderings and meanderings of my scrambled mind.

What is ‘great’?

I went my usual route, seeking the ‘official’ definition, but Merriam-Webster was no help:

  • notably large in size; of a kind characterized by relative largeness
  • large in number or measure; predominant
  • remarkable in magnitude, degree, or effectiveness
  • full of emotion
  • eminent, distinguished; chief or preeminent over others; aristocratic, grand
  • long continued
  • principal, main
  • more remote in a family relationship by a single generation than a specified relative
  • markedly superior in character or quality
  • remarkably skilled, marked by enthusiasm
  • a generalized term of approval

Hmmmm … likely the only one that even vaguely fits what Trump is referring to when he says he is making the country great is “markedly superior in character or quality”.  But I have a problem with that, for that word ‘superior’ doesn’t define at all what I think of as great, unless I’m talking about an ice cream sundae.  Otherwise, superiority equates with arrogance, a trait I dislike immensely. Dictionary.com likewise had multiple, unhelpful definitions … 23 of them, to be precise!

Okay, I’m going to tell you what I think it would take to truly make this a great nation, thus creating my own definition of great as it applies to a nation.  The following are in no particular order of importance, but are simply in the order they popped into my head.

  • Equality for all, meaning that nobody would denigrate another based on race, skin colour, religion, ethnicity, gender or gender identification, or social status. This means that police don’t shoot unarmed black men, religious organizations don’t discriminate against LGBT people, and we all treat each other as simply being humans.

  • Eradication of poverty and relative income equality. It is true that somebody who works very hard should be rewarded financially.  But the extreme income inequality in this country today is, frankly, ridiculous and the wealth of the upper 1% (or less) is further enhanced by tax cuts, tax loopholes, and other governmental assists.  The wealthy in this nation do not carry their own weight, do not bear a fair share of the tax burden, and until that happens, this nation cannot be said to be ‘great’.


  • Universal health care to ensure that all people are able to be taken care of properly when they are ill.


  • Affordable college tuition so that we can have a better-educated populace, better able to participate in government and make wise decisions on a personal, professional and civic level.


  • Renewable energy taking the place of fossil fuels as quickly as possible in order to protect and repair the quality of the environment that is suffering from decades of deterioration. This would include a return to the Paris Accord.


  • Preservation of natural resources, lands, and wildlife. There should be absolutely no commercialization of national parks and other lands set aside for wildlife conservation.  The earth is one ecosystem comprised of many smaller ecosystems … everything is designed to fit together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, and when you destroy one piece, the rest is affected as well.


  • Campaign finance regulations that prohibit donations by any corporation, lobby or individual. Campaigns financed by state and federal taxes, with each candidate receiving precisely the same amount is the only way to ensure fairness and hopefully encourage honesty in our elected representatives.


  • Improved relations with allies and NATO, for this is indeed a global world, and those who eschew ‘globalization’ as being something evil are choosing to wear blinders and live in the past. We produce soybeans, other nations produce oil … punitive actions such as tariffs are counter-productive to a mutually advantageous trade relationship.  Additionally, it is in the best interest of all nations to get along, for we may need their help someday, or vice versa.  The days when a nation could stand alone, be an isolated entity, are long since gone.


  • Strict gun laws are essential to a peaceful society. Weapons that were designed for military use only must be banned from the civilian population and returned to the military where they belong.  For other guns, there should be competency testing, intense background checks, and periodic re-licensing requirements.  Limits of one gun per household, and a repeal of conceal-carry laws should also apply.

Okay, so it’s just a wish list, and a pie-in-the-sky one at that, but until we are at least working toward the things on this list, I don’t see that our nation is at all great.  Certainly it is better than some, but not at the top of the list by any stretch. Instead of working toward the things that would make it better, we have a leader and a Congress who are actively working against these ideals.

Racism is not only being tolerated, but encouraged by our elected representatives!  Religious groups are being given the license to discriminate against others.  The ‘right’ to shoot and kill others is state-supported (Florida – Stand Your Ground laws).  Tax cuts and breaks are given to the wealthy, not those of us who most need a few extra dollars.  Trade tariffs are causing rising prices on food and other goods, particularly automobiles and home appliances.  College costs are making higher education impossible for the average young person.  Fossil fuels are being encouraged and given advantages, while renewable sources are being shunned by the government.  The gun lobby (NRA) has more power than almost any other entity. Environmental regulations are being scrapped in the interest of big corporations.  We abuse our allies and wine-and-dine our antagonists.  And the list goes on and on.  No, folks, Donald Trump is definitely NOT making America great, at least not by my definition.

So, how would you define ‘greatness’ in terms of a nation?

Stupidest Idea Ever …

It sounds more like something out of a Buck Rogers comic book than a serious proposal.  Yesterday, Mike Pence outlined Donald Trump’s plan to establish a “Space Force” as the sixth branch of the U.S. military.  My initial thought?  Trump claims that we must cut back on healthcare, food, and shelter for the poor and underprivileged, that we can no longer afford programs that benefit people and the environment, but we can afford a completely useless, unpopular, pointless ‘gas-guzzler’?

“The time has come to write the next great chapter in the history of our armed forces, to prepare for the next battlefield where America’s best and bravest will be called to deter and defeat a new generation of threats to our people, to our nation.”  Oh pleeeease … spare me the dramatics!!!

He called for Congress to allocate an additional $8 billion for space security systems over the next five years.  Again … we cannot afford to help provide health care for the nation’s low income families, but we can spend a bloody $8 billion on this crap?

Fortunately, neither Trump nor Pence can simply snap their fingers and make it happen.  This will need the approval of Congress, and it is a very contentious proposal, unpopular with many.  In addition, Secretary of Defense Mattis was against the idea, saying he did not want to add “additional organizational and administrative tail” to the military.  Of course, since then he has come ‘round to Trump’s way of thinking, most likely in order to keep his job.  Integrity, anyone?  Yesterday, Mattis said that space “is becoming a contested war-fighting domain, and we have to adapt to that reality.”  Seriously?  Have any of you guys seen spaceships filled with aliens in the night sky, waiting to attack the mother ship?

Proponents of a Space Force argue that the Air Force does not pay enough attention to outer space. What is more, they say, Russia and China are developing anti-satellite weapons that could pose a threat to American satellites.  Guess what, folks … they need to be paying more attention to the fact that Russia already has the capability of shutting down large portions of our electrical grid with the click of a mouse, which would effectively bring the nation to its knees.  What if we work on the problems that we know exist, and leave the Star Wars games for Hollywood to deal with?

Retired astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, who flew four shuttle missions, called the space force a “dumb idea” that would duplicate work already done by the air force.  BINGO!

But wait!!!  It gets even better!!!  The most important first step, y’know, is to select … A LOGO!!!  And guess who will be selecting the logo?  Trump’s supporters.  Yep, not all the people who will be paying their hard-earned tax dollars to support this utter nonsense.  Oh no, friends … you and I have no say in the choice of this logo.  Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Pascale, has emailed supporters asking them to vote for one of six space force logos to commemorate the “huge announcement”.  This is the biggest load of you-know-what that Trump has come up with yet!logo-1The ‘supporters’ have been given the above six logos to choose from.  Personally, I think they all look stupid, but then I am already biased against the entire thing anyway. Most have spaceships, though one has an odd yellow shape that some on Twitter have suggested is an homage to the president’s hair.  Twitter users have been having a ball with this.twitter-1

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twitter-3If this ridiculous money-waster of an idea actually passes Congress and becomes reality, there is no doubt that whichever logo is chosen will show up on hats, t-shirts, and perhaps even men’s underwear and it will all be available for a small donation to Donald Trump’s campaign fund!  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Now, I’ve done my venting and I do have something serious to say about this.  We have a heck of a lot of troubles right here on planet earth.  There may well be potential future threats to satellites in space … I am not a scientist, so I cannot say.  But even if there are, they are not of the same immediate concern as a multitude of problems right here that absolutely must be dealt with if this planet is to remain habitable for human life.  Think about it … if we continue on our rapid path of polluting our air, water and soil, the satellites in space, whether ours, China’s or Russia’s, will not matter, for there will be nobody left breathing on earth to worry about it.  Donald Trump is not only failing to address climate change, but is intentionally reversing the protections that were in place and attempting to stop states from enforcing their own environmental regulations.  It is almost as if he fully intends to make sure that the next generation has to walk about wearing oxygen masks, and the generation after that will be confined in plastic bubbles.  We don’t need to worry about what is going on in outer space … we need to take care of our own home and the people who live on it first.

We owe it to our children, their children, and all future generations around the globe, not just in the U.S., to protect our environment.  When we have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, soil that is safe to grow chemical-free food, when everybody in this nation has affordable health care and enough food to eat, then let the little boys in Washington play with their space toys.  Not now, not in 2020, not anytime in the foreseeable future.

World That Once Was …

I was sitting dozing before the fire when my two great grandchildren rushed into the room …

“Grannie, Grannie … we’re bored!  Will you tell us some stories?  Will you tell us about the cabin in the woods?”

“Yeah, an’ Grannie … will you tell us again ‘bout how you used to play outside … an’ how there was grass an’ you could even see the sky?  Please, Grannie, please?”

Now, I know their mother would not wish me to fill their heads with what once was and can never be again, but … it is all I have left to give them … the world that once was.  And so, I make room for one of them on either side of me, and I begin …

Well, you see, when I was a little girl, so many years ago, I would wake up on Saturday morning, do the few chores assigned to me, and then run outside to play with my friends.  Sometimes we played football in the street, sometimes we rode bicycles, and other days we went out in search of caterpillars that we would keep in canning jars with holes poked in the lids and some grass and water in the bottom.  And then we would wait for them to turn into beautiful butterflies.

“An’ you didn’t even have to wear an oxygen mask to go outside, Grannie?”

“What’s a butterfly?”

No, child, we didn’t need to wear oxygen masks to go outside back then, for the air was fresh and clear, and you could look up and see how blue the sky was … not like today when all you see is murky yellow air.  A butterfly, sweetie … well here … let me draw you a picture …butterfly

They aren’t around anymore … I guess they couldn’t survive in the bad air. We would play outside all day, sit in the grass to eat our sandwiches, and when night fell, we caught lightning bugs.  They aren’t around anymore either, but they were little bugs that had some chemical at the tail end of their body, and as they flew, they lit up a pale yellow or green colour.  It was how they ‘talked’ to the other lightning bugs. When I was a young girl, sometimes there would be hundreds of them in the yard, all lighting up at once.  Oh, it was quite a sight to see and I always looked forward to their arrival in summer.

“What about the parks, Grannie?  Tell us ‘bout the parks … pleeeeease!”

Oh yes, the parks.  Sigh.  Back then, we had national parks … hundreds, maybe even thousands of acres of forests with streams where the water was so clear you could see the fish swimming and the rocks in the very bottom.  And nobody could build a business or a factory or even houses in the national parks, because they were protected land.  The government protected them so that the critters that lived in them could live in safety and so that we would always have beautiful natural land to visit.

“What kind of critters lived there, Grannie?”

Well, it depended on where the park was, but most were home to deer, elk, snakes, squirrels, bears, wolves, coyote, birds and many others.

“Why did the parks go away, Grannie?  Didn’t people want them anymore?”

“What happened to the animals?”

Well, child, I think that most of us wanted the parks, we appreciated them and loved being away from the cities, just enjoying the beauty of nature.  But, there were some people who thought it was more important to use that land to drill for oil and gas, and to build hotels and factories, and the government gave in to the wishes of those people without listening to the rest of us.

“Why?”

Because those people who wanted to get rid of the parks had more money than the rest of us, and people with more money … well, they always get their way.  Now as to what happened to the animals … some of them were taken to other places, but as a rule they didn’t adapt well to their new environments and … well, they … just … died.

“Grannie … why are you crying?  Are you sad because the animals died?”

Oh, child … yes, I am very sad because the animals died, but I’m also sad because … well, because the whole life I once knew has died.  I remember running through open fields, watering flowers and letting a big bumblebee land on my nose.  I remember hiking in the woods with my friend Herb, how green the foliage was, how tall the trees, how clear the water in the streams.  And I am sad, for all of that is gone now.  Did I ever tell you about the great redwood trees on the west coast?  Why, those trees … some were so wide that they even made a road right through the center of the tree!!!  And they got so tall that you could barely see the top … sometimes as tall  as almost 400 feet!!!  I saw them plenty of times when I was a girl, but they were always a sight to behold.

“What happened to the redwoods trees, Gran?”

Well, mostly I think they were chopped down, but I hear the ones that were left just died for lack of oxygen.  They can’t put oxygen masks on trees like they can people, you know.  Same reason there’s no grass left in people’s yards … living things need clean air to breathe, even plants.  I’m tired now, children, and it makes me too sad to remember how life used to be.  Tell you what … bring that book about the bears that you like so much and I’ll read to you.

“Grannie … how come you never go to church with us?”

Because, child, I don’t believe in any of that nonsense they tell there about how some people are better than others because of the colour of their skin or who they choose to love.  It’s a waste of time that I can spend doing better things.

“But mommy says you’re gonna get in trouble with the law and have to go to jail if you don’t go to church …”

Hush child … it matters not anymore … now go get that book like I told you.trees-2.jpg

Snarky Snippets From A Grump …

Not having slept particularly well for the past several nights and being particularly peeved by everything in the news for the past two days (or is it two years???), I am in an especially foul humour today.  What better time for a few snarky snippets from the mind of a grump, eh?


Score one for Portland, Oregon!

In 2016, the City of Portland, Oregon, passed a city ordinance that would prohibit new fossil fuel infrastructure, including storage and distribution terminals for oil and gas.  But business groups, including the Columbia Pacific Building Trades Council, Portland Business Alliance and Western States Petroleum Association appealed the ordinance to Oregon’s Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA), saying that it was unconstitutional in that it restricted interstate commerce.

LUBA ruled that Portland had violated the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution in that it restricted interstate commerce, but this past January, a Court of Appeals overturned the LUBA ruling, finding that Portland’s ordinance is not unconstitutional.  The coalition of businesses, seeing dollar signs waving ‘bye-bye’ in their sleep at night, took the issue to the Oregon Supreme Court.

Two days ago, the Supreme Court upheld the ruling of the lower court, placing air quality and lives over corporate greed!  What this means is that existing facilities as well as new ones will be subject to size and capacity restrictions.  Some of the corporations affected include energy giants Shell, BP, Kinder Morgan, Chevron, Phillips 66, and NW Natural.

It is a small step in the grand scheme of things, but an important one.  The region is plagued by sea level rise linked to global warming, in addition to other growing environmental hazards exacerbated by climate change.  Let us hope that other cities follow suit and place a higher value on human life than on corporate greed.


Two thumbs-down to Trump’s trickle-down theory …

According to Donald Trump, we are living in “the greatest economy in the HISTORY of America and the best time EVER to look for a job.”  But, as is most always the case when Trump opens his mouth, this is not quite the truth.

First, while it is true that unemployment is low, the nation is experiencing historically low wage growth.   Take a look …wage-chartNow … what happened to that ‘trickle down’ economic theory?  You will remember that the wealthy and big corporations received a Christmas gift last December in the form of significant tax cuts, and you may also remember that Trump said we would all benefit from those tax cuts, as corporations shared their wealth with their workers.  Guess what, folks?  It didn’t happen.

The beneficiaries of that big tax cut decided to keep it for themselves after all.  Surprise!  Instead, these corporations, for the most part, have spent their additional wealth on their top executives and largest shareholders!

A couple of examples:

  • At Walmart, with 2.3 million workers, half made less than $19,177. Late last year, Walmart launched a stock buyback initiative to the tune of $20 billion in order to boost its stock prices, which disproportionately enriches the biggest stockholders in the company.

  • Median pay at McDonald’s is $7,017, in part because McDonald’s directly employs hourly servers at more of its restaurants. Meanwhile, McDonald’s bought back $1.6 billion in stock in the first quarter of 2018 alone.


  • Gap’s very low median pay of $5,375 per year coincided with the company buying back $100 million in stock last quarter.

There are plenty more examples, including most of the restaurant industry, but you get the picture … it ain’t trickling down, folks, it’s trickling up to those who least need it.  Nothing new here, but it proves the lie, once again, of the theory that giving to the rich will ultimately enrich the poor.


Say WHAT???

The ‘man’ who sits in the spot a president should sit in if we had such a critter, is so out of touch with reality that I’m not sure what planet he even hails from!  I’m sure you have all heard by now that Donald Trump believes a photo ID is required in order to purchase food.  So, how in the Sam Heck does he think people who don’t have a photo ID, and there are many such people, buy groceries???  Oh wait … he doesn’t think … he just opens his mouth and spews.

“You know, if you go out and you want to buy groceries, you need a picture on a card — you need ID,” said he at rally on Tuesday.

Funny that … I’ve been buying groceries for more than half a century, and have never once been asked to prove that I am who I am at the checkout!

Trump’s disconnect with those “American people” he claims to be ‘fighting for’, seems to be a gap about the size of the Grand Canyon.  In addition to believing that buying food requires ID, he thinks that we spend $12 per year on our health insurance!  If you aren’t growling yet, you should be.  I spend more than $130 per month for Medicare that I paid into all my life!  The average American spends close to $10,000 a year on health care.

Trump was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and has never had to enter a grocery store, sit down and figure how to pay a mortgage payment or worry about the electric bill that is more than he can afford.  He has never had to fret over money or do without a single thing.  Not once in his life has he had to do without medical care so that his kids could have food to eat. He is not fighting for the ‘American people’ … he is fighting to preserve a way of life for himself and his rich friends … a way of life that 99% of this country cannot even imagine.


And so concludes Filosofa’s Snarky Snippets, although there will surely be more to come soon!  Have a great evening, friends!

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?