Vacation and politics in the Pacific Northwest

Today, I am sharing with you a post that Jeff wrote last week (I am chronically behind on everything these days!). First, I am sharing it because the pictures of his vacation are absolutely gorgeous, and I thought you guys would enjoy them. Second, though, is Jeff’s commentary about what Trump is attempting to do to the Pacific-Northwest, arguably one of the most beautiful parts of this country. Enjoy the pics! Thanks, Jeff, for sharing your vacation with us! I’m jealous!!!

On The Fence Voters

So I spent nearly a week on the road recently, traversing the great Pacific Northwest and chilling out with my better half. There was a lot of beer and wine, a lot of unbelievable scenery, and a brief respite from the goings-on in our upside-down political world. But I must say, politics is never too far away in my daily life, even on vacation. While I wasn’t into the daily back and forth as much, I still managed to follow what was going on.

And while the vacation itself was enjoyable, as well as relaxing, I still can’t forget what’s going on in the world around me. Looking out at the majestic vistas and mountains around me, I could not help but think of how fragile our beloved ecosystem has become.

In the process of driving over 1500 miles through some of the most beautiful areas you could ever imagine…

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Saturday Surprise — Environmentally Fun!

Welcome and Happy Saturday, my friends!  Big plans for the weekend?  Not me.  Chris is drumming this morning at the Walk for Prostate Cancer, and the rest of the weekend will likely be spent just trying not to roast, as our air-conditioning is still, after a new heat pump, new thermostat, and new condensing unit, not working!  And, of course Mother Nature picked this time to send temps to record highs in the 90s for a ten-day streak.

Today’s two stories are both eco-friendly … they pertain in one way or another to conservation … but they’re fun, too!


I am not a fan of McDonald’s … at least not the food.  Many years ago, when Miss Goose was little, we made it a once-a-week destination, but fortunately her palate matured, and she has moved on to other favourite restaurants.  But, today I must give two thumbs up to McDonalds for their environmental conscience!

Most of us are aware of the bee crisis.  It is estimated that in the U.S., 44% of the bee colonies died out in 2016 alone, and since bees pollinate some 80% of the food we eat, this has serious implications for life on this planet.  McDonald’s in Sweden has begun trying to save the bees in the most charming ways!

It started out with planting bee-friendly flowers around the restaurants, and hosting beehives on their roofs.  But then, a few months ago, McDonald’s commissioned a professional carpenter to make the ‘smallest ever McDonald’s,” which is, in fact, a fully functioning beehive featuring a McDonald’s sign, drive-through, an outside seating area and even little advertisements on the windows!McDonalds-1

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McDonalds-5Take a look …

But it doesn’t end there!  Now, they are at it again by creating small ‘bee hotels’ on the back of their billboards.  30% of wild bees in Sweden are threatened, mainly because they do not have enough resting areas, so the company teamed up with outdoor advertising firm JCDecaux to turn the backs of its billboards into tiny “hotels.”McDonalds-3Granted, these are all small things, likely only to save a few thousand bees, but hey!  It’s a start, right?


This week celebrated the 5th year of the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, and as you might guess from the name, some of these animal pictures are quite funny!  If you’re looking for your daily dose of cuteness, you’ve come to the right place!

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Family Disagreement

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Holly Jolly Snowy

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Oh My!

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Laid Back

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Deer?  What Deer?

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Excuse me

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Squirrel Wishes

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Hi

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Warning:  Territory Marking.  Follow At Your Own Risk

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Monday Morning Blues

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Hello

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Laughing Zebra

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Spaceman

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Dancing … Yeah

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Who Would Like A Peanut?

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Indecent Proposal

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To Be Or Not To Be?

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Sea Otter Tickle Fight

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Snarling Snappin In The Slow Lane

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Hip Hop

Tom Sullum and Paul Joynson-Hicks are the founders of the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, and in addition to having fun with it all, they have a serious purpose as well …

“Remember, we are all about conservation. We want you to take up our banner of wildlife conservation, bang the drum, beat the cymbal and make some noise, we need to spread the word – wildlife, as we know it,  is in danger, all over the world and we need to do something to help save it. You can start by going and having a look at what the Born Free Foundation are doing at www.bornfree.org.uk


And finally, it wouldn’t be Saturday Surprise without a funny animal video, now would it?


Have a wonderful weekend, my friends!

The Purpose of Life?

My mind is in a state of rambling and introspection today …

What, for most humans, is the purpose of life?  I’m not asking about the ‘meaning’ of life, for that will be something very unique and personal to each of us … what gives your life or mine meaning is not necessarily universal.  But, what I am asking is the purpose … what justifies me or you taking up space and using valuable resources on this planet?

No, I haven’t lost my bloomin’ mind … I’m just cleaning it out a bit.  Much of the news over the past few weeks/months/years, have led me to ask this question, have taken my mind down a path that needs to be explored.  And no, this isn’t in the least bit a deep philosophical discussion, but rather an ideological one.

Is the purpose of life to gather as much wealth, as many toys and shiny objects as possible during the course of one’s life?  It sure does seem that some people would answer in that way.  Think … here in the U.S., people applauded when the fool-on-the-hill rolled back environmental regulations in order to benefit the fossil fuel industries.  Why?  Well, the robber barons in the coal and oil industries applauded because it extended, albeit briefly, their ability to make money at the expense of the planet, the future.  Other people applauded because they hoped it meant their jobs in those industries would be secure, at least for a few more years, for they know no other trade.  And some applauded simply because it was Barack Obama, an African-American, under whose tutelage the regulations had been established in the first place.

Donald Trump ran in 2016 on the buzz-phrase, “make America great again”, but what does ‘great’ mean?  My vision of a ‘great nation’ is different than that of those who wear the silly red hats and cheer Trump’s slogan.  My vision of what makes the U.S. … or any nation, for that matter … great is diversity, people of all nationalities, all getting along together.  In my vision of a great nation, people help each other just because it’s the right thing, the compassionate thing to do, not because there is something in it for them.  But, in the maga crowd’s view, I think greatness is defined differently.  I think it is defined in terms of relative wealth and of bigotry.  I think the maga crowd wish to turn this into a nation of straight, white, Christians, and in my book, that would be hell on earth.

So, what is the purpose of life?  And please note that I am not coming at this question from any religious viewpoint … that speaks, again, to the ‘meaning’ rather than the purpose.  To me, I would feel I had fulfilled my purpose if I made other people happy, if something I did improved the quality of life on earth for as many as possible.  I’ve no interest in wealth, am quite content with the basic essentials (essentials, of course, includes books!)  Do you think Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell or any other politician in our government today would be satisfied with such?  Or what about the CEOs of Exxon-Mobil, Amazon or Nike?

In my view, the purpose of life should be about making life better for everyone, not just for oneself, or even one’s family.  I fail to understand what pleasure is derived from gathering wealth just for the sake of wealth.  The only purpose I see in wealth is the ability to use such wealth to help others, to help find ways to improve the quality of life for as many people as possible.  But instead, those who value their wealth over humanity are using their wealth to destroy all life on earth.  They are using it to build more factories that spew more chemicals into the earth’s atmosphere.  They are using it to develop harmful products that enable them to grow more food but are killing the bees – bees without whom we will all die sooner than later.  They are using it to build and buy weapons, both for military and civilians, that have the sole purpose of killing.

Socialist?  Yeah, I pretty much lean that way these days.  I would much prefer to see equality among all than the scant 1%, or I believe it is now ½%, living in houses with gold-plated toilets while others go to bed with empty bellies.  I would like to see people getting along rather than the bitter gulf that exists between the political parties and their followers these days.  I would like to see people throw their guns into the sea, deciding that life has more value than the false sense of power the gun gives them.  I would like to see all people caring enough about future generations of all life forms to make the sacrifices necessary to protect and preserve the planet and its resources.

I think that our lives can have purpose, and for many they do, but that purpose isn’t money.  If one’s purpose is to amass great wealth, then I posit that the person truly has no purpose at all.  Thanks for putting up with my rambling thoughts for the day … and now … back to the news of the day.  I see Trump just fired John Bolton. More chaos. Sigh.

Sunday Afternoon … Humour???

It’s Sunday afternoon, a lazy sort of time when we all try not to think about getting back to the grind tomorrow.  Today is also National Grandparent’s Day, and my girls are taking me to the local ice cream stand this afternoon to celebrate! Sunday is typically a slow news day, for the subject of most news here in the U.S. is on the golf course cheating in order to turn those 25 strokes on a par 4 hole to 3, rather than sitting in the Oval Office tweeting ignorance and vitriol.  So, what better time than to see what the cartoonists have been up to in the past week, yes?


Naturally, the whole incident with Trump using a Sharpie pen to re-draw Hurricane Dorian’s projected path to include Alabama was the subject of much mirth and mockery …

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There are still fools in this world, most of them in the United States, I do believe, who would deny that the effects of the industrial revolution and our current lifestyle have led to a phenomenon we now call ‘climate change’ and that we are within years of destroying our own atmosphere.  As if that weren’t bad enough, the Amazon rainforest that provides 20% of the earth’s oxygen is still burning and far too little is being done to put the fires out.  Sigh.

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So True!

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2019 has been the year for mass shootings in the U.S.  The NRA, though reportedly having its own troubles, is still adding to ours by insisting that more guns is a good thing and … well, what’s a few thousand lives, eh?  Trump, McConnell, and the rest of the republicans who are in the pockets of the gun manufacturers and lobbyists continue to make excuses for their inaction.  And meanwhile, the people of this nation continue to die at an exponentially higher rate than any other nation on earth.

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And finally, a few random ‘toons I stumbled across …

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Enjoy the rest of your Sunday afternoon, friends!

Trump vs Facts

It shouldn’t have been a big deal … but it was.  It shouldn’t have received the attention of the international press … but it did.  It was stupid, foolish, but relative to the news of the day, irrelevant – just another example of the ignorance of the ‘man’ who sits in the Oval Office.  I mostly ignored it, save for a brief mention, but an ego was involved … perhaps the most bloated ego of any in the world … and thus it was blown up, mocked, and the ‘man’ in the Oval Office refused to simply say, “I made a mistake”.

I try hard not to waste my voice here on my blog with irrelevancy, unless it is to bring a smile, a laugh, a bit of levity to my readers.  But, what was irrelevant has now become yet another sign of the despotism that flows around the White House today.

The incident, of course, is the one that began last Sunday, September 1st, when Trump tweeted …

“In addition to Florida – South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated. Looking like one of the largest hurricanes ever. Already category 5. BE CAREFUL! GOD BLESS EVERYONE!”

The fallacy was that Alabama was not in the path of Hurricane Dorian.  Within an hour, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued a statement correcting Trump:

“Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east.”

And then the sh*t hit the proverbial fan.  Had it been left there, it would likely have died before the next round of late-night television shows, for there were more important things to worry about.  But, Trump can never be contradicted, can never be told he is wrong about anything, despite the fact that he has been proven wrong about most everything.  The notice by the NWS was important and necessary, for Trump’s statement could have sent Alabama residents into a frenzy, wondering why they hadn’t been warned and running out stripping the store shelves of bottled water and other essential supplies.  It was the responsible thing for the NWS to do.

So, Trump couldn’t let it lie, took one of the official maps showing the likely trajectories of Hurricane Dorian, and with a Sharpie pen, drew an additional line to include Alabama in the path of the storm.  It was as if a 5-year-old child had done it, was obviously a stupid thing, but … well, Trump’s ego, y’know.  And then the whole thing blew up.altered-map.jpgTrump continued to defend his tweet and complain about the flak he’s received over media reports that point out that he was wrong, his vile rhetoric becoming more ludicrous with each tweet.  He tweeted a doctored video of a CNN segment that noted Alabama might feel the effects of the hurricane.  WHAT PRESIDENT DOES THIS???  Where is the professionalism of the office?  Where is the dignity?  For six straight days, he tweeted obsessively about the whole thing, even demanding an apology.

But, on Friday this truly became a serious issue, and one that should have every person in this nation up in arms.  On Friday afternoon, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the parent agency of the National Weather Service, issued a statement declaring that its Birmingham, Alabama office was wrong to dispute the president’s warning that Alabama “will most likely be hit” by the hurricane despite forecasts to the contrary.

“The Birmingham National Weather Service’s Sunday morning tweet spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time.”

Yes, my friends, a government agency tasked with reporting facts, tasked with the safety of the nation under severe weather conditions, was forced to bow to the whims of a megalomaniac for the sake of salving his ego.  Let that one sink in a minute.

This is no longer a laughing matter, for it is further evidence that the safety of this nation matters less than the ego of Donald Trump.  This only happens in autocracies, it does not happen in democratic nations.  It is but one in a long line of such incidents, but this one received the notoriety to put it front and center and the perfidy cannot be ignored.

The biggest issue facing every industrialized nation on the globe is climate change, yet because Trump says it is a “Chinese hoax”, our government doesn’t talk about climate change.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has removed all references to climate change from every one of its documents.  The EPA has also removed the Climate Science page from its website.  All to stroke the ego of a madman who just happens to be the highest-ranking official in our government.  And now, our National Weather Service is not allowed to give us accurate warnings when a devastating, life-threatening storm is looming.

Can we ever again trust anything we are told by any government agency?  No.  We now know that Trump manipulates the information given by every agency under his control, and we should not take a single thing at face value.  Yesterday, the Bureau of Labour Statistics released their report for August, saying that the U.S. had added some 130,000 jobs during the month.  I do not believe it for one minute.  What if we actually lost 50,000 jobs?  Trump is apprised of the report before it is made public.  What if he said, “NO … we didn’t lose jobs, we added jobs — lots of beautiful jobs — great jobs!  This report is ‘fake news!!!’  Then, would the Labour Department have changed the numbers to match Trump’s whim?  I posit that no new jobs were added in August, and that the Labour Department report has no validity.  For the duration of Trump’s term in office, I shall not believe another piece of data that comes out of our federal government.

It is a damn shame when one ‘man’, in just under three years, can completely shred the credibility of the entire federal government, but that is exactly what has happened.  Would we receive proper warning if there were a pending threat from another nation?  Maybe, maybe not.  Depends on what Donald Trump wants us to know.  This is a dangerous and disturbing situation.  Next time there’s a hurricane, the NWS will ask Trump where he would like them to draw the projected trajectory.  I can envision a number of scenarios where lives would be placed in danger, lives perhaps lost, to protect the fragile ego of a man-child.  Think about it.

We The People …

“… government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

The above words were spoken by President Abraham Lincoln on Thursday, November 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  The speech was to become one of the best-known speeches in the history of this nation.  Read the words again, please. lincolnToday, I truthfully and without rhetoric or bombast, state that the government of the people, by the people, and for the people has, in fact, perished from at least the United States.  The word ‘democracy’ is a fantasy that is bandied about by some, but the majority of us can plainly see what is before our very eyes … we have been had.

Earlier this year, four of the world’s largest auto makers — Ford Motor Company, Volkswagen of America, Honda and BMW – struck a deal with the State of California to ignore Trump’s rollback of emissions standards and continue their efforts to reduce CO2 emissions in an effort to stem the tide of climate change.  Our health depends on it.  The air we breathe and the water we drink depends on it.  The lives of 7+ billion people, including you and me, depend on it.  I applaud this cooperative effort between one of the most polluting industries and the State of California.

The federal government does not applaud this effort, and in fact is challenging it.  Today, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it will open an investigation as to whether the four automakers violated federal antitrust laws by reaching a side deal to follow California’s stricter rules.  Additionally, Trump is considering a plan to revoke California’s legal authority to enforce stricter greenhouse gas emissions rules within its state borders.

To put this into the simplest possible terms … California is saying that they want to try to rescue our environment, save lives, and Trump is saying, “No … you must make the air as unhealthy as possible!”.

And, if you aren’t concerned enough about the environment, think of your own wallets!  Trump is actively promoting cars that use more fuel, which means you will be buying more fuel just to get to work and back home each day.

According to the New York Times

Top lawyers from the Environmental Protection Agency and Transportation Department on Friday sent a letter to Mary Nichols, California’s top clean air official, saying, “The purpose of this letter is to put California on notice” that its deal with automakers “appears to be inconsistent with federal law.”

Government for the people?  I think not.  More like … government for the rich fossil fuel barons.  Government by the people?  With a billionaire in the White House and 358 of the 535 members of Congress being millionaires, I don’t think we can say it is a government by the people.  Government of the people?  Our elections are increasingly unfair and dishonest:  think voter disenfranchisement, lack of voter security against outside influences, gerrymandering.  Additionally, once elected, our senators and representatives seem to forget the best interest of those of us who put them in office.  So no, I don’t think our government is of the people, either.  Mr. Lincoln was fortunate not to have lived to see this day.lincoln

 

 

Who Loses?

Well, folks, the Fool on the Hill is determined to have his wall/fence/whatever at any cost and no matter who it hurts.  I’ve already discussed the concept of the wall, how it has no value other than as a propaganda tool, so I shan’t repeat all that.  However, we need to be aware of where the money is coming from for that wall … who will be hurt the most.

James Hohmann is a national political correspondent for The Washington Post, and author of The Daily 202, The Post’s flagship political newsletter.  Just as I was looking for information for this post, his newsletter hit my inbox and … lo and behold!  Mr. Hohmann had done my work for me.  What follows is portions from Mr. Hohmann’s article, for it is too long for this post, but if you’re interested in further details, you can read the entire newsletter here.


The Daily 202: The biggest losers from Trump’s diversion of military funds for his wall

HohmannBy James Hohmann
September 5 at 10:18 AM

THE BIG IDEA: Sometimes it’s worthwhile to step back and remember how we got here.

President Trump promised repeatedly that he would get Mexico to pay for a border wall when he ran in 2016. Unable to accomplish that, he failed to persuade Congress of the need to appropriate the money – even when his own party controlled both chambers. Just before Christmas, Trump forced what became a 35-day partial government shutdown, the longest in American history, in a bid to coerce the legislative branch to give him the money he wanted for the wall.

When House Democrats stayed unified, buoyed by their mandate in the midterms, the president declared a “national emergency” in February. Under the auspices of that emergency, Trump announced he would divert money that had been explicitly appropriated for the military to move ahead with his pet project. In late July, the five Supreme Court justices appointed by Republicans voted to lift a freeze on the money that had been put in place by a lower court and upheld by an appellate court.

Last night, the Pentagon finally released to the public a list of the 127 construction projects that stand to lose funding to free up $3.6 billion for 175 miles of fencing and other barriers on the southern border. These are spread across 23 states, three U.S. territories and 20 countries. Here are some of the most notable projects that Trump is raiding:

1) Puerto Rico will lose out on more than $400 million of planned projects.

The Pentagon is defunding 13 projects at military installations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, 10 of which were related to recovery from Hurricane Maria. Among them is the rehabilitation of Camp Santiago, a training facility operated by the Puerto Rico National Guard.

Guam, another U.S. territory, will lose a quarter of a billion dollars in construction projects. North Korea threatened to strike the Pacific island in 2017.

Trump’s disdain for Puerto Rico and his resistance to helping the U.S. commonwealth has been well established. It led to a delay of several months in a disaster relief funding bill.

2) Another $770 million is being diverted from projects that have been approved to help American allies deter attacks from a revanchist Russia.

This is the bulwark of the European Deterrence Initiative, which was created after Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea. Along with Trump’s push to get Russia back in the G-7, this is the latest illustration of the president projecting weakness in the face of Kremlin bellicosity.

A facility for special operations forces and their training will not get built in Estonia, the tiny but thriving democracy whose sovereignty depends on the American security guarantee. Also on the chopping block are projects to construct ammunition and fuel storage facilities and staging areas in Poland, and planned upgrades to surveillance aircraft facilities in Italy, as well as airfield and fuel storage upgrades in Slovakia and Hungary.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling tweeted: “To the untrained eye, the 127 defense projects postponed for the border barrier may seem confusing. But as a former commander in Europe, many of these … are big deals. ‘Support the troops?’ Not so much.”

3) Nine of the projects on the list involve renovating or replacing schools for the children of U.S. troops.

4) Utah will lose $54 million. This is striking because both of the state’s conservative senators, Mike Lee and Mitt Romney, voted against Trump’s border emergency in March and supported the resolution of disapproval. Is it retaliation?

5) To be sure, GOP senators who supported Trump’s emergency declaration didn’t get spared.

“Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), one of those who voted in support of the declaration, announced early Wednesday that the Trump administration was diverting $30 million in funds from an Army base in her state to construction of the wall ― even though she previously received assurances from an acting secretary of defense that her state would be spared,” HuffPost’s Igor Bobic reports.

“Other Republican senators whose states are impacted by Trump’s diversion of military construction funds to build the wall include Thom Tillis of North Carolina ($80 million), Mitch McConnell of Kentucky ($62 million), John Cornyn of Texas ($48 million), Lindsey Graham of South Carolina ($11 million) and Cory Gardner of Colorado ($8 million),” Bobic notes.

6) In the long term, the greatest damage from the diversions could be the fundamental break that it represents with the founding fathers’ conception of the separation of powers. James Madison made the power of the purse explicit when he drafted Article I, Section 9, Clause 7 of the Constitution: “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”

Trump is creating a potentially dangerous precedent for future presidents to disregard the will of a coequal branch. He’s using an obscure provision from a law passed during the Cold War that was intended to give executive branch officials flexibility in the event of truly existential emergencies, such as a Soviet first strike.

“Officially, the Pentagon is saying the affected projects are ‘deferred,’ but in order for them to go ahead in the future, Congress must again fund them,” Paul Sonne and Seung Min Kim note.

Just For Fun …

I’m working on a couple of pieces, hope to have another later this evening, but a while ago I took a break to check my email, and found that Ellen had sent me a couple of short videos to give me a laugh or two.  Well, it actually DID give me a laugh … more than a couple, in fact, and I thought … “Y’know … I’ve been too serious lately … maybe my friends would like a laugh, too!”  And so, I went in search of some ‘toons to go with the videos.

There are many adjectives that apply to Donald Trump, but the two I find myself using most frequently are “stupid” and “ignorant” — both are terms I would prefer not to have to use, especially in regards to the person whose decisions affect all of our lives!  However, over the course of the past week, he has exceeded even his own level of stupidity when it comes to Hurricane Dorian, and hurricanes in general, and it seems the cartoonists and the late night talk show hosts all decided to have a bit of fun.  If they can have fun with it, so can we, right?  Yeah, I know, there are more relevant issues I should be addressing, but I just needed a laugh, and from the looks on your faces, so do you!  I’ll get back to the serious stuff in a minute …

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Take a look at Stephen Colbert … he’s always funny, but this one will have you laughing … I promise!

And not to be outdone, Seth Meyers touches on a number of topics and literally had me choking on my coffee …


Now that we’ve had our afternoon chuckle … back to work!Men working together on road

Good People Doing Good Things — Saving Critters

Today’s good people post is a little different than the usual fare.  Typically, I seek out people helping other people, but today I want to focus on a couple of people helping non-human critters, for their lives are important too.


Chella Phillips lives in the Bahamas, where Hurricane Dorian left a trail of devastation this past weekend.  She also runs a refuge for homeless dogs, called The Voiceless Dogs of Nassau, Bahamas.  On this day, her refuge celebrated its fourth anniversary, and in that time she has taken in some 1,000 dogs and found homes for them.  But on Sunday, Ms. Phillips home became an extension of the refuge.chella-phillips.jpgHurricane Dorian was beginning to hit the island and there were dogs everywhere, some abandoned by owners fleeing the island, some were strays, but all were definitely in harm’s way.  And that’s when Chella Phillips stepped in and did what not many people would do.  She took the dogs home with her … 97 of them!pups-1No, Ms. Phillips doesn’t live in a mansion, but just an ordinary house.  Here’s what she posted on her Facebook page …

“97 dogs are inside my house and 79 of them are inside my master bedroom.

It has been insane since last night …

I managed to bring some less fortunate ones and I really appreciate some of you donating for crates.. I really needed it for the scared ones and the sick ones. so Thank you!

Coincidently, today is the Fourth anniversary since the refuge opened its doors to homeless and abandoned dogs and we have cared for nearly 1,000 of them which we are very proud that we managed to give them hope so they could all be happy at last.

Please pray for the Bahamas!”

pups-2And then, on Monday she posted …

“We are alright after a stressful night were we flooded bad inside the refuge, not even 3 pumps could contain the rain from washing us inside and after an hour all 3 pumps reheated and burned down and we have been outside with buckets fighting a losing battle..

All services are down, all TVs are fried from the lightnings so no more cartoons for the sick dogs until we can purchase new ones.

Thank you for the outpouring support and heartfelt prayers from so many people that don’t even know us, my post from yesterday went viral and total strangers are reaching out to us giving us the exposure that we need so bad..

Thank you!”

I give two thumbs up to this kind, caring woman for her dedication to these dogs who likely would not have survived the night of devastation. 👍👍


I would like you to meet Dr. Amir Khalil.

Gaza Lion Cubs Rescue 2015

Dr. Khalil speaks quickly in a voice laced with various accents. Born in Egypt, he has lived in Vienna for the past 27 years and has a Bulgarian wife. He speaks six languages, including Coptic Egyptian.  But none of that is what gave him a spot in this good people post.  Dr. Khalil is a veterinarian who has dedicated much of the last 25 years of his life to rescuing animals from crisis zones in places like Iraq, Sudan’s Darfur region and Bosnia, and creating sanctuaries around the globe for the rescued animals.  He has calmed traumatized bears from Syria and vaccinated thousands of stray dogs in Myanmar. The work can come at personal risk: In Kosovo, he had a pistol held to his head. In Kenya, gunmen shot up his car.

Dr. Khalil has worked for Four Paws International, a Vienna-based animal welfare charity, for 25 years.  Most recently, his mission was to rescue 47 animals — including lions, wolves, baboons and ostriches — from a struggling zoo in the city of Rafah, in the Gaza Strip.amir-khalil-2This was his Khalil’s fifth assignment in Gaza, which is controlled by the militant Islamist group Hamas and blockaded by its neighbors, Israel and Egypt. He had already evacuated two other Gaza zoos in 2014 and 2016. But this rescue would be his biggest.

“We go to places where the logic doesn’t exist. The government doesn’t exist. No one cares. And where no one will believe you are coming to save animals. You see everyone escaping from a city like Mosul, going out. Thousands and thousands. And you are the only car going the other way around. You are going inside.”

Against this backdrop of conflict, Khalil brokered a deal with authorities from Jordan, Israel and Hamas so he could move into Gaza, shut down the Rafah zoo and evacuate the animals.  It was no easy task.  Long story short, he was challenged at the border … twice.  He was threatened, told to leave, denied entry to the area where the animals were in captivity, some dying of neglect and starvation.  But, he persevered and ultimately, Khalil and his rescue team crossed to safety with the animals into Israel.  The story of this rescue is fascinating, but a bit long for this post, but you can read it on NPR.lion-cubsSince the rescue, several of the animals, including three porcupines, three pelicans, two foxes and an ostrich, have been released into the wild in Jordan. The lions, including a declawed lioness, and baboons are living in wildlife sanctuaries in Jordan and South Africa.

Sometimes Khalil wishes he could have a normal life, eat a normal dinner with his three daughters without having to worry about conflict areas, mistreated animals or being trapped in crossfire. “I am a human, I have my weaknesses,” he says. “But I come to be addicted. I am infected by my job.”

Another two thumbs-up for this remarkable man who has saved countless beautiful lives.two-thumbs

A Visit To The Other Side …

I stumbled, quite by accident, onto a very conservative website, Townhall, last night.  As soon as I saw some of the OpEd titles, I knew I was not in Kansas anymore, and was aiming to make a hasty getaway before I was spotted in enemy territory.  But then … I thought … why not take a look at what they are saying?  I’ve long said that in order to meet somewhere in the middle, we must first listen to each other, right?  Here is a sampling of the titles of some of the OpEd pieces on this site …

  • Trump Pushes Back Against Anti-Christian Bullies and Bigots – Todd Starnes
  • Trump Supporters Have ALL The Moral High Ground. Don’t Cede One Inch Of It To The Left – Scott Morefield
  • American Workers Looking Forward to Five More Labor Days With Trump – Bob Paduchik
  • The New York Times’ Revisionist History on the Start and Story of America Is Absurd and Dangerous – Richard Land
  • President Trump—Not Democrats—Is Really Helping Low-income Americans – Michael Busler
  • Mainstream Media Hijack Hurricane Dorian for Climate-Change Alarm – Vijay Jayaraj
  • Democrats Put Their Faith in the Faithless – Robert Knight

I actually read a few of these articles this morning, thankful that I hadn’t yet eaten, so there was no danger of a return visit, and then I went to take a shower, for I felt somehow dirty.  These are semi-legitimate journalists, by the way, not the Tucker Carlson variety of ranters, although I did notice Ann Coulter’s name on their list of contributors.  According to Media Bias/Fact Check, their factual reporting gets a mixed review, as they are known to “publish misleading reports and omit reporting of information”. Anyway … in case you care what the other side thinks … I shall share just a few relevant snippets.


From the Scott Morefield piece …

  • Especially given a leftist-controlled mainstream press all-too-willing to portray the president as a monster and his policies as monstrous, you may be forgiven for thinking all of those things. But the reality, however, is actually the exact opposite of what they would have you believe. In fact, it is Trump’s supporters who truly have every inch of the moral high ground. In fact, it is Trump’s policies that are the very definition of objective principles, morals, and values, even if his presentation at times gives his haters ammunition by seeming to belie that fact.
  • Every time these jackals politicize mass shootings to call for more gun control, remember that they really don’t care about any of the lives such legislation would save, especially considering they know full well the legislation they espouse wouldn’t actually save any lives. In their unquenchable thirst for control, leftists would happily take away the right to defend oneself against rogue criminals or rogue governments. They cry alligator tears at the deaths of gun victims while ignoring those who successfully defend themselves with guns or the unarmed who die from a senseless home invasion.
  • Those who refuse to support President Trump based on optics alone are completely missing the big picture. Whether you consider some of his tweets and comments “presidential” or not, the policies Trump espouses and helps to implement through executive orders, signed legislation, and appointing judges result in by far the greatest good for the greatest number of people, full stop.

From Bob Paduchik’s …

  • The Democratic Party’s presidential candidates not only want to repeal the tax cuts that saved taxpayers an average of $1,400 last year and restore the regulatory overreach that crippled American businesses during the Obama era, they’re also urging surrender in the seminal trade negotiations that are still underway between the Trump administration and the Chinese.
  • The Democrats have plenty of other nasty surprises in store for working Americans, too. Their outrageous “Medicare for all” proposal, for instance, would eliminate the private health insurance plans that workers earned at the bargaining table.

And, according to Robert Knight …

  • Democrats can’t seem to figure out whether they want to use the government to drive Christianity underground or just replace the biblical version with fake Christianity. These aren’t mutually exclusive goals; either one brings America closer to a secular, socialist state whose unofficial religion is atheism.
  • Democratic presidential contenders like former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, California Sen. Kamala Harris and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg invoke Christianity to shill for taxpayer-funded, unrestricted abortion and the family values of Sodom, plus confiscation of wealth and redistribution. Note to the media:  Why aren’t Democrats – and Republicans – being asked what they think of Drag Queen Story Hour? Anyone?

Well, I think you get the gist, right?  The thing that disturbs me is that both sides are so far apart on all issues from foreign policy to humanitarian issues to immigration to religion that I see no room for any middle ground.  The middle ground seems to have become a barren desert where nothing can exist.  I mean, how do you debate with someone who calls gun-control advocates “jackals”, and says, “Trump’s policies that are the very definition of objective principles, morals, and values …”?  Where do you even begin?

The name-calling is taking place on both sides, I engage in it myself on a fairly routine basis, but it is detrimental to any meaningful meeting of the minds.  How do you engage in any sort of discourse with people who turn a completely blind eye to the single most important issue of the day:  climate change?  When they applaud Trump’s de-regulation by executive order rather than will of the people or congressional mandate, they are essentially begging to hasten the destruction of life as we know it.  How do you speak to that?

Well, the exercise wasn’t entirely futile, for it got my adrenaline stirring and gave me some food for thought.  How ‘bout I end this with a few cartoons from “the other side” …

rep-toon-1rep-toon-2rep-toon-3rep-toon-4rep-toon-5


I didn’t really find any of them to be that funny, did you?  Thought for the day:  How can we shrink this great divide that is destroying the country?  How can two sets of ideologies that seem so far apart with nothing in common, unite?