Snarky Snippets … Version MCXII

I used to do Snarky Snippets once every couple of weeks.  Now, it’s more like several times a week.  There is just so much …


Who could blame him?

Yesterday, a man in a wheelchair tried to set fire to himself outside the White House gates. The man lit his jacket, officers immediately responded, extinguishing the fire and giving the man first aid, the man was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries yada, yada, yada.

A “suspicious package” was found near the area … turned out to be the man’s backpack.  The White House was put on lockdown because the Idiot-in-Chief was there, even though it was obvious there was no threat to him.  And thus ends the story, right?

So why did the guy do it?  There comes a point where hopelessness leads to not caring anymore which leads to … this.  A man who figures life isn’t much worth living any more, and whose fault is it?  Donald Trump’s.  And so … let’s put an end to it, but let’s make sure Trump knows that this blood is on his hands, that he is responsible for the death.

The official story, by later today or tomorrow, will be that the man had a history of mental illness.  I’m betting not.  I’m betting that he’s given up on the hope of seeing this country rise above the abomination that is Donald Trump, decided it’s not worth sticking around to watch the final chapter, but wants Trump to know … as if Trump had a conscience and could understand human pain, the suffering of humanity.


Score one for Maxine Waters

Steve Mnuchin … just seeing his picture makes me want to relieve him of that smirky little smile he always seems to wear.  For any who are unaware, Mnuchin is Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, another of Trump’s boot-lickers.

Well, on Tuesday he met his match in the persona of one Representative Maxine Waters!

Waters-Mnuchin

Mnuchin had been testifying before the House Financial Services Committee, when he decided he had enough and cited a meeting with a “foreign leader” as his reason for needing to leave.  Ms. Waters, chairperson of the committee, asked Mnuchin if he could give the committee another 15 minutes so members who had been waiting for their five-minute turn could ask him questions.  He again cited the importance of his meeting.

Finally, Ms. Waters said, “If you wish to leave, you may.”  Well, Mnuchin was caught off-guard by that, apparently, and responded with …

“Please dismiss everybody. I believe you are supposed to take the gavel and bang it.”

WHOA-DEE … You could have heard a pin drop, for about 3 seconds, until Representative Waters said …

“Do not instruct me as to how I am to conduct this hearing.”

Mnuchin stayed the extra 15 minutes and then told Waters, “I look forward to being back in May, and we will work on a date.”  Waters responded, “Thank you very much.”

The lady has class!


He just keeps coming back …

Ol’ Roger Stone just won’t go away and stay gone.  On Friday, his lawyers asked a federal judge to dismiss Stone’s indictment for lying to Congress and obstructing justice and to order that Stone receive a full unredacted copy of Mueller’s recently completed report.  Say WHAT???  We the People are as unlikely to see it as a man is likely to give birth, but Roger Stone thinks he deserves a copy?  Yo … Roger!!! You can read the heavily-redacted version in the New York Times the same as the rest of us! At least, I suppose they let you read the Times in prison.

“No other person, Committee, or entity has Stone’s constitutionally based standing to demand the complete, unredacted Report,” said the lawyers.

bullshit


A new bromance for Trump?

Trump has found himself another strongman dictator to love … what a surprise, eh?  This time it is Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, a ‘president’ in name only, but in reality, a dictator who is in the process of making changes to Egypt’s Constitution that will make him a de facto dictator for life, while permanently enshrining military control over Egypt’s political system. He continues to hold tens of thousands of political prisoners, including at least a dozen U.S. citizens.Trump-al-SissiSo, how did Trump respond when al-Sissi arrived at the White House for a visit on Tuesday?

“I think he’s doing a great job. I don’t know about the effort. I can just tell you he’s doing a great job. Great president.”

The Egyptian president, naturally, returned the compliment …

“Let me emphasize, Mr. President, that the relations have not been better over the years of our bilateral relationship, and that is why I’m extending, Mr. President, to you our thanks … All the credit goes to you, Mr. President.  Thank you very much for your support on all fronts.”

Feeling sick yet? 🤢 Trump also took the opportunity to lie and whine to al-Sissi …

“We are building a lot of wall, and we are being very strong on the border. But we are bucking a court system that never, ever rules for us, and we are bucking really bad things with the Democrats in Congress not willing to act. Nobody can believe these decisions we’re getting from the 9th Circuit. It’s a disgrace.”

And al-Sissi sat smiling at Trump, for he has had his own troubles with judges who were trying to thwart him by upholding the law.  President al-Sissi’s answer to his troubles was to change the law.  Think about that one for a minute.


Okay folks, I’ve vented enough for one day.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend … I’ll be back!

Pity The Nation …

Khalil-Gibran

Those last few lines especially sound familiar, don’t they?  Perhaps this makes the case that, “the more things change, the more they stay the same”.  Lebanese writer Khalil Gibran’s poem Pity the Nation, published posthumously in the book The Garden of the Prophet in 1933, inspired another poet named Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Today I focus on Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s version of Pity the Nation, for although it was written and published in 2006, I think it fits the current circumstances of the United States today, as well as a number of other nations.  A bit about Mr. Ferlinghetti who, by the way, celebrated his 100th birthday last month!Ferlinghetti-birthdayLawrence Ferlinghetti is an American poet, painter, socialist activist, and the co-founder of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers. He is the author of poetry, translations, fiction, theatre, art criticism, and film narration.  FerlinghettiFerlinghetti has expressed that he is “an anarchist at heart”, however he concedes that the world would need to be populated by “saints” in order for pure anarchism to be lived practically. Hence he espouses what can be achieved by Scandinavian-style democratic socialism.

Without further commentary, I give you Mr. Ferlinghetti’s poem …

PITY THE NATION
(After Khalil Gibran)

Pity the nation whose people are sheep
And whose shepherds mislead them
Pity the nation whose leaders are liars
Whose sages are silenced
And whose bigots haunt the airwaves
Pity the nation that raises not its voice
Except to praise conquerers
And acclaim the bully as hero
And aims to rule the world
By force and by torture
Pity the nation that knows
No other language but its own
And no other culture but its own
Pity the nation whose breath is money
And sleeps the sleep of the too well fed
Pity the nation oh pity the people
who allow their rights to erode
and their freedoms to be washed away
My country, tears of thee
Sweet land of liberty!

 — Lawrence Ferlinghetti
San Francisco, January, 2006

A New Batch … Hot Off The Press!

Some days I think I have turned into a huge cynic, a shrew, and I remonstrate with myself about it.  Now, I’ve told you before about these three-way conversations with Me, Myself, and I, right?  Well, in this particular conversation. Myself convinced Me that it wasn’t my fault I was turning into an untrusting, cynical human being, and I thanked Myself, while Me felt a bit hurt and left out.  Confused yet?  Welcome to my mind!  Anyway … today I am feeling like a bit of mockery at the expense of Trump & Co., for they deserve it, and it makes me happy.  So … snarky snippets it is!


And the award goes to …

Donald Trump has mentioned a few times that he believes he will be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.  It galls him to no end that his nemesis, President Obama, earned the award, and he has not a snowball’s chance.  However, there is one person in our government today who is being honoured with a prestigious award.  Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, is to be awarded the 2019 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. Nancy-PelosiCaroline Kennedy, the daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy, said in a statement Sunday that Ms. Pelosi is “the most important woman in American political history.” Pelosi is being honored because of her efforts to pass former President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care law and for helping Democrats reclaim control of the U.S. House during last year’s elections.  Kennedy said Pelosi “leads with strength, integrity and grace under pressure.”

The award will be presented to Pelosi on May 19 during a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.  I smile thinking of what Trump must have said when he first heard this news.  😊

trump tantrum


And speaking of awards …

The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, founded in 2014, advocates for the safety of journalists and the release of Americans held hostage abroad.  Each year at its annual dinner, the foundation issues a “hostage freedom award” to someone for “courageous work for hostage recovery, press freedom, and humanitarian efforts”.  This year, the award was initially planned to go to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, but the foundation changed its mind because of what it felt was an inadequate response by the administration to the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Pompeo did not take the loss of the award with good grace, however.

“I regret that there was pressure applied by the media for that award to be withdrawn.”

Ultra-conservative Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen did not miss an opportunity to accuse and abuse the media, saying that the award was rescinded only because “media partners’ promised to boycott the event if Pompeo got the award”.

If you can’t somehow blame the democrats, then blame the media, eh?  However, the foundation published a “Letter to the Editor” of The Washington Post on Friday …

“The decision with respect to the James W. Foley Hostage Advocate award was mischaracterized in Marc A. Thiessen’s April 4 column … While it is accurate that our foundation intended to present our hostage freedom award to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and we extended the invitation to him on Nov. 19, 2018, we ultimately decided we could not present the award as planned because of the dramatic change in circumstances when the Trump administration did not press for genuine accountability from the Saudi government for the brutal murder of Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi. We communicated the reason for this decision to the secretary’s team on Jan. 11.

Our decision had nothing to do with whether we received media pressure. In addition to advocating for the safe return of U.S. hostages abroad, the protection of free speech and promotion of journalists’ safety are key pillars of our foundation, and this award would have been in conflict with that key principle.”

Simple, straightforward, and honest, but Pompeo exhibits the same character flaw that his boss does … he is a sore loser.  Suck it up, Mike.


Even dumber than Kellyanne …

Donald Trump has a ‘campaign press secretary’.  I had never seen her until yesterday when she swooped across my radar.  As I read the headline, I thought … this one is even dumber than Kellyanne!  And that, folks, is a tough act to follow!

Her name is Kayleigh McEnany and she is actually just about to become 31 years of age, though I wouldn’t have guessed it based on what I’ve seen so far.  I think you can see, even before I go any further, why Trump chose her for his campaign press secretary.

She even looks a bit like Kellyanne … that is, before Kellyanne aged 40 years in a month from having to go behind her boss and pick up his messes. McEnany-3But to the point.  McEnany has pulled some dumber-than-dirt moments in the past year or so, but this one takes the cake.  Yesterday, following the lead of Trump and Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, McEnany claimed that Trump should not be forced to release his tax returns to Congress.  She said that Congress doesn’t have a legitimate reason to ask for them.  (Forgive her, but she’s likely never heard of the word ‘ethics’ before).  Her reasoning?  Because Congress isn’t asking for the tax returns of other presidents.  Let that one sink in just a minute, folks.

“Ironically, the only person whose tax returns they’ve asked for — the only president — is Trump. So it’s a sham reasoning.”

Oh, Kayleigh … please … do go back to school!  I hear they offer GED courses at most community colleges?  You’re definitely not ready for this job!

McEnany-4

Wow!  Really???

Now, as we all know, every other president starting with Nixon has released their tax returns voluntarily, so Congress never had a need to demand them.  And even if that weren’t the case … none of those other guys are president today!

President Barack Obama released his tax returns for every year between 2000 and 2015. President George W. Bush released his returns for 2000 through 2007. President Bill Clinton made public his returns from 1992 to 1999 (and then his wife, 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton released their returns from 2000 to 2016).  And Trump?  Not. One. Single. Year.

If you ask me, Trump is down to dredging the bottom of the barrel to find people willing to work in the chaos that defines the current administration.


And on that note, I shall go see what other mischief I can dig up.

Just Two Things …

On Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg …

rbgIf I had to pick a favourite among the current Supreme Court Justices, it would be Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  The woman is intelligent, has spunk, and her heart is in the right place, unlike some others.  She has gone through a lot, but she bounces back.  Since her most recent bout with cancer, she has returned to the Court, heard oral arguments, authored opinions, and even made a few public appearances outside the courtroom.  But yet …

There are some who claim Justice Ginsburg has been dead for weeks, and that democrats … of course, it’s always the democrats … are covering up her death in order to keep the jackal in the Oval Office from nominating another one of his sycophants for the seat.  Say WHAT???  How can a person who is in the public eye, who goes to work every day and is seen by her co-workers and others, be believed to be dead?  What rock have these people slithered out from under?

According to The Hill

The Supreme Court has been bombarded with Twitter users demanding evidence that Ginsburg is still alive, while some online videos allege her public appearances have been manufactured.

There are also claims that audio of her from recent Supreme Court oral arguments has been doctored and is nothing more than phrases pieced together from earlier recordings of her remarks.

There’s little chance the Ginsburg conspiracy theory is going away anytime soon, experts say, mainly because the biggest proponents are unlikely to accept any proof that she’s alive.

I have a solution.  Invite them all to visit the court at a specified date and time, then let Justice Ginsburg go ‘round the room and poke each one of them in the eye with a stick.  Perhaps that will convince them.

It seems, though, that Donald Trump is hoping for Justice Ginsburg’s demise, for he has already decided on a nominee for her replacement:  Judge Amy Coney Barrett.  Barrett, not surprisingly, is known as a “superstar” among the religious right.

Barrett is young (46) and has vociferously made known her willingness to overturn Roe v Wade, which, along with Obergefell v Hodges seem to be the only thing the religious right cares about when it comes to the Supreme Court.  Take away women’s rights and take away the rights of the LGBT community, and Trump’s biggest fan base will be happy.

Personally, I hope that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stays healthy for at least another two years.


Not tough enough???

Kirstjen-Nielsen.jpgThe big news of the day is that Trump apparently forced the resignation of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.  Now, I’ve never liked Nielsen, always considered her to be rather a cold, heartless bitch, but apparently she wasn’t heartless enough to suit Trump, and that should concern us all.  It will likely thrill his base of white supremacists, however, who would like nothing better than to line the southern border with armed guards who are told to shoot first and ask questions later.

Bruce Plante Cartoon: DHS Secretary Kirstjen NielsenRumours abound, as they will when facts are not made available.  One, the most probable one, is that Trump is eager to reinstate his horrendous child-separation policy, taking children from their parents when they cross the southern border.  Ms. Nielsen rejected the plan, in light of the fact that a federal judge struck down the policy last year.

Another theory was proposed by Josh Campbell, the former FBI agent turned CNN national security analyst.  Mr. Campbell believes it possible that Ms. Nielsen was the author of the anonymous OpEd in the New York Times last year that caused such a stir.    The basis for his conclusion is stylistic similarities between Nielsen’s letter of resignation and the OpEd.  Not much to go on, but if she was the author of the OpEd, now that she has resigned from her position she has nothing to lose by coming clean, so … maybe?

I’m still stunned, though, that she wasn’t ‘tough enough’ to please Trump, even after she authorized the use of tear gas to repel a large crowd attempting to break through a border fence on New Year’s Day.  I’m also stunned that Trump has plans to defy Judge Dana Sabraw’s order and reinstate his cruel, inhumane child separation policy.

Are there no longer any restrictions or limitations on the power of the presidency?  Has Donald Trump, in fact, become the dictator he always wanted to be?  He shuts the government down in an attempt to get his way.  That doesn’t work, so he declares a state of national emergency to get his way.  That hasn’t worked yet, so he demands the resignation of the Secretary of Homeland Security to replace her with a man who is even more cruel and heartless.  Where does it end.  When do We the People finally say we have had ENOUGH???  Or do we keep burying our heads in the sand, believing that somehow, in some way, it will all work itself out.  Believing that our Constitution, or next year’s election will stop him.  Think about it.

Remember The Children …

Imagine, if you will, your child being torn out of your arms at, say, age 5, and then not seeing him again until he is 7 or 8 years old.  You did nothing wrong, he did nothing wrong, but this is how we welcome you to the “great” United States of America.  We take your child, then we lock you up in one place, throw your kid in a cage and forget where we put him.  Finally, after a couple of years, we get it all sorted out and … here’s your kid back … hope you enjoyed your visit.immigrant child-2Last June, Judge Dana M. Sabraw ordered the reunification of children and parents who had been separated under the Trump administration policy.  Ten months ago.  Since then, some 2,800 children have been reunited with their parents, however a group of separated families including possibly as many as 2,000 children was unaccounted for because the government lacked an effective tracking system.  Even after Judge Sabraw’s order that the government cease separating children from their families, another 245 children were taken from their parents.  But the government let the ball drop when it came to record-keeping, so there is speculation that the number may, in fact, be much higher than 245.immigrant-children-2.jpgOn Friday, the Department of Justice filed court documents stating that it will take at least a year to review about 47,000 cases of unaccompanied children taken into government custody between July 1, 2017 and June 25, 2018.  Why?  Because record-keeping was shoddy, or perhaps non-existent.  Because nobody cared enough about these children to take time to even find out who they were.  Because the people currently responsible for running this nation care only about people whose skin is white.

The government said it would apply a statistical analysis to about 47,000 children who were referred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement and subsequently discharged.  After that, the government said it would manually review the case records of the children who appeared to have the highest probability of being part of the separated families.  Officials estimated that the process would take at least one year and potentially two. In explaining the reason for such an arduous process, the government said United States Customs and Border Protection did not collect specific data on migrant family separations before April 2018.immigrant-childrenWhat???  Did they not think it would ever be necessary to figure out who these kids were and where they belonged, such as with their parents?  Did they just hope the children would disappear, and that the parents would forget about them?

In the court filing, Jonathan White, a commander with the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, wrote that identifying this group of children presented new challenges because they were already discharged from the Office of Refugee Resettlement, meaning the government “lacks access” to them.  One has to wonder if the government even knows quite where these children are.

The government also stated that they would have to rely on computerized statistical analyses, for manually reviewing each of nearly 50,000 cases would “overwhelm” the resources of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.  It didn’t overwhelm their resources to take the kids, did it?  These are human lives we’re talking about here, not Wheat Thins!!!  Somebody is seriously lacking functional brain cells in our government, not to mention a heart!immigrant-children-3Last year, for a few weeks, the story of the children separated from their parents and kept in questionable conditions was in the news every day.  It was front and center in our minds and we … well, most of us anyway … were appalled and horrified.  Then, Judge Sabraw issued his ruling, the government partly complied, and the story receded into the background to be replaced by other abominations of the Trump regime.  But the story is not over … not by a long shot.  Meanwhile, these children are undoubtedly suffering both physical and emotional damage that may last a lifetime.  Is this, then, what Trump meant when he said he was going to “make America great”?  Sorry, Donnie, but in my book this makes America pretty darn lousy.

When Judge Sabraw issued his order that the children be returned, he said, “The hallmark of a civilized society is measured by how it treats its people and those within its borders.”  It would appear that we are not, contrary to popular belief, a “civilized society”.

Jay Inslee: The 7 Issues Guide

Today I bring you the 8th installment of TokyoSand’s excellent series, The 7 Issues Guide, helping us get to know a bit about the platforms of the democratic candidates running for the office of president next year. Jay Inslee is on deck today, and I didn’t know much about him, other than that he is the Governor of the State of Washington, but I like what I see here. Thank you, TokyoSand, and your diligent volunteers, for helping us get to know Mr. Inslee!

Political⚡Charge

Inslee Photo via Puget Sound Business Journal

The Democrats have a big field of candidates running for President in 2020. To briefly use a sports analogy, I see our candidates as the starting players on the Blue team, each bringing their own unique strengths to the table in a bid to take our country in a very different direction than the one we’re on today.

But as we well know from 2016, the media (and especially social media) gets fixated on non-substantial issues that take up all the oxygen. Plus, they don’t give the candidates the same treatment or the same amount of airtime.

In order to help voters get to know the Democratic candidates, I’ve enlisted the help of a team of terrific volunteers who have helped gather quotes and information about what the candidates have said or done in regards to the7 issues that midterm voters identified as…

View original post 1,614 more words

Another Really, Really Rotten Choice …

Some days you have to ask yourself if somehow, in some way, you have slipped into a dystopian universe.  Up is down, inside is outside, big is little, and wrong has suddenly become right.  Point in case …

There are two vacancies on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and Trump has nominated a man named Stephen Moore to fill one of those vacancies.  Now, before I get into Mr. Moore and his qualifications, or lack thereof, remember that the purpose of the Federal Reserve in a nutshell is to ensure a stable economy. *

Federal Reserve board members (there are seven, which includes the Chairman and Vice Chairman) serve a term of fourteen years, and are paid an annual salary of $179,700, with the two at the top receiving $199,700.  It is a position of high trust, controlling such things as interest rates, banking regulations, managing inflation and more. Stephen MooreNow on to Stephen Moore.  First off, he is a great supporter of “supply-side” or “trickle down” economics.  Sigh.  HOW MANY TIMES do we have to prove that it does not work??? I made this point back in September 2017 with my post It Trickles Up … Not Down! In fact, Trump has proven it himself by giving huge tax cuts to the wealthy, stating that the money they saved in taxes would ‘trickle down’ to the consumer, to the working class.  It didn’t.  It never has. It never will.  In a 2012 paper, Moore wrote …

“Cutting taxes can have a near immediate and permanent impact, which is why we have advised Oklahoma, Kansas and other states to cut their income tax rates if they want the most effective immediate and lasting boost to their states’ economies.”

But wait … there is more NOT to love about Stephen Moore.

For starters, just looking at his affiliations sends up red flags. He is a member of the Editorial Board of The Wall Street Journal, owned by none other than the owner of state television network Fox News, Rupert Murdoch.  And Mr. Moore is the Chief Economist at the Heritage Foundation.  For those who may not be aware, the Heritage Foundation is an American conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C. and geared towards public policy. The foundation took a leading role in the conservative movement during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, whose policies were taken from Heritage’s policy study Mandate for Leadership. The foundation had a powerful say in the staffing of the Trump misfit administration, being largely responsible for the nominations of Scott Pruitt, Betsy DeVos, Mick Mulvaney, Rick Perry, and Jeff Sessions.

In 2011, Mr. Moore divorced his wife, Allison.  In 2013, he was found in contempt of court for failing to pay more than $330,000 in spousal support, child support, attorney’s fees and a one-time fee to his ex-wife.  Moore had failed to pay six consecutive months of child support — and only a small fraction of the nearly $19,000 a month he had agreed to pay his ex-wife in the divorce settlement. Moore failed to respond to repeated requests from the Virginia court to make payments and did not show up for a deposition in the case. The court ordered him to sell his home to raise money to pay the debt and forced him to set up an automatic bank transfer each month.  Ever hear the term “deadbeat dad”?  Moore is one.

Mr. Moore currently owes $75,000 in unpaid federal taxes, interest and penalties, according to court documents filed last year. A lien for $75,328.80 from the 2014 tax year was entered against Mr. Moore at the request of the federal government in January 2018.  What he owes in back taxes for a single year is more than most of us make in a single year!  And he is too sorry to pay the government, when we would be in jail if we fell behind by a tenth that much?

Now, here we have a man who cannot manage his own personal finances, and yet Trump would elevate him to one of the most important positions in the overall economic health of the nation???  You might think that Mr. Moore would hang his head in shame and walk away from the nomination, but think again.

Two days ago, he stated emphatically that he has no intention of stepping aside.  “It’s full speed ahead.” And Trump & Co have no intention of withdrawing the nomination, according to Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, who said both he and Trump continue to support Mr. Moore for the Fed’s board of governors.

“I think he’ll make a great governor. We are standing fully behind his candidacy.”

beating head in disgustJust as with Trump’s cabinet picks, this one is among the worst possible choices.  We have people leading the Departments of Energy, Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who are climate change deniers and have ties to the fossil fuel industry.  We have a Secretary of Education who does not believe in public schools.  Then there’s Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce, who is the subject of a multi-million-dollar lawsuit claiming he stole from a former partner.  And let us not forget Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), who claims that poverty is “a state of mind”.  I could go on and on, but you get the picture. Trump cabinet.pngSadly for our nation, Mr. Moore’s nomination, just like all those above, and like Brett Kavanaugh who now sits on the Supreme Court despite many disqualifications, will be confirmed by the republican-majority Senate.  And We the People have no voice in this.  Unless there are actually some republican senators who have a bit of decency left, a bit of honour and integrity, and the cojones to defy Trump, then this misfit, just like all those before him, will be confirmed.


*For an easy-to-understand summation of the Federal Reserve, I recommend this article, The Federal Reserve and What It Does 

Good People Doing Good Things — Peter Tabichi

Peter TabichiI would like to introduce you to Peter Tabichi.  Peter is a Kenyan science teacher and Franciscan friar at the Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School in Pwani Village in a remote part of Kenya’s Rift Valley.  More than 90% of his pupils are from poor families and almost a third are orphans or have only one parent. Drug abuse, teenage pregnancies, dropping out early from school, young marriages and suicide are common. Students have to walk 4 miles along roads that can become impassable in the rainy season to reach the school and the area can be affected by drought and famine. RiftValleyMany of Mr. Tabichi’s students would not be able to attend school, if it weren’t for the fact that he gives 80% of his salary to help support the students.  That, in itself, is remarkable, but that isn’t all he does.

Despite only having one computer, a poor internet connection and a student-teacher ratio of 58:1, Tabichi started a “talent nurturing club” and expanded the school’s science club, helping pupils design research projects of such quality that many now qualify for national competitions.  His students have taken part in international science competitions and won an award from the Royal Society of Chemistry after harnessing local plant life to generate electricity.

Tabichi and four colleagues also give struggling pupils one-to-one tutoring in math and science, visiting students’ homes and meeting their families to identify the challenges they face.  Enrollment at the school has doubled to 400 over three years and girls’ achievement in particular has been boosted.  Take four minutes, if you will, to see Mr. Tabichi in action.

Last week Mr. Tabichi was honoured at a ceremony in Dubai where he was awarded the Varkey Foundation 2019 Global Teacher Prize and a check for $1 million!  The Global Teacher Prize is intended to raise the status of the teaching profession. The winner is selected by committees comprised of teachers, journalists, officials, entrepreneurs, business leaders and scientists. The 2019 competition included 10,000 nominations from 179 countries. The founder of the prize, Sunny Varkey, said he hopes Tabichi’s story “will inspire those looking to enter the teaching profession and shine a powerful spotlight on the incredible work teachers do all over Kenya and throughout the world every day”.Peter Tabichi awardAccepting the prize, Tabichi said:

“I am only here because of what my students have achieved. This prize gives them a chance. It tells the world that they can do anything. As a teacher working on the front line I have seen the promise of its young people – their curiosity, talent, their intelligence, their belief. Africa’s young people will no longer be held back by low expectations. Africa will produce scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs whose names will be one day famous in every corner of the world. And girls will be a huge part of this story. It’s morning in Africa. The skies are clear. The day is young and there is a blank page waiting to be written. This is Africa’s time.”

The Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, said in a video message:

Uhuru Kenyatta“Peter – your story is the story of Africa, a young continent bursting with talent. Your students have shown that they can compete amongst the best in the world in science, technology and all fields of human endeavour.”

Upon his return to Kenya, he was given the royal treatment by local officials, fellow teachers and students who through songs praised him for his humility and selflessness.  At the school, he was cheered through songs and dances by relatives, local community and students.

Tabichi homecomingWhat do you suppose Mr. Tabichi plans to do with the prize money?  You got it!  He plans to use “much more than 80 percent” of his prize money in educating the needy bright students and empowering the local community to become resilient to effects of drought.

“My focus is not going to be just the children but help the community adapt to climate change. I will be helping them adopt a model of growing drought-tolerant crops in kitchen gardens.”

Tabichi sign.jpgI am in awe of this man and what he is doing, and give him a two thumbs up!

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Evangelicals Have Out-Size Influence In President’s Crafting Of US Foreign Policy

When I read this post by Gronda earlier today, I was most disturbed … as I told Gronda in my comment, this was likely the most disturbing thing I have read in years, and that says a lot! Frankly, while I try never to criticize another’s religion, I have to say that what is described here is not religion — it is insanity! Thank you, Gronda, for the thought-provoking post … and for the nightmares I will surely have tonight!

Gronda Morin

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For the rapture end times Evangelical Christian true believers, their thinking regarding the Middle East is flawed. They are very versed in discussing their thinking/ version of biblical end times, including the rapture doctrine.

The two members of the republican President Trump’s administration who are steeped in these faith based dogmas are his Vice President Mike Pence and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

I’ve no problem with Evangelicals practicing their beliefs even though I genuinely do worry that they are being led astray, but when this thinking seeps into the formation of US foreign policies, then I have a problem.

That the Evangelical community have been exerting an out-sized level of influence on current US policies  is exactly what I believe has been happening. What’s worse is that President Trump is very dependent on their support to keep his hold on power. Evangelicals comprise about 35% of his base…

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Walking, Talking Conflict of Interest

David-BernhardtHis name is David Bernhardt, and he is Trump’s latest pick to head the Department of the Interior, since Ryan Zinke resigned last year in the spotlight of several ethics probes.  Zinke was bad enough … Bernhardt, if confirmed by the Senate, may well be worse.  Bernhardt has been serving as Deputy Secretary of the Interior since August 2017, and thus has been acting secretary since Zinke’s departure.

Where to even start?  This guy is, like so many of Trump’s other cabinet choices, the worst possible candidate for the job!  First, he is a former oil lobbyist, which sets up potential conflicts of interest in itself.  If confirmed, he will become one of two former fossil fuel lobbyists overseeing the nation’s top environmental agencies. The other is Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who heads the Environmental Protection Agency.  Between them, these two are in a position to cause much destruction to our environment.

As a partner in the law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Bernhardt lobbied for the oil companies Cobalt International Energy and Samson Resources. His legal clients included the Independent Petroleum Association of America, which represents dozens of oil companies, and Halliburton Energy Services, the oil and gas extraction firm that was led by Dick Cheney before he became vice president to George W. Bush.

Thus far, while overseeing the Department of Interior, Bernhardt has …

  • Put forth a plan that opens up more land to oil and gas drilling than any other single policy action by the Trump administration, while at the same time stripping away protections from about nine million acres of wild life habitat.
  • Put forth a plan that would allow the federal government to lease almost any part of the United States coastline to oil and gas companies for offshore drilling.
  • During last year’s 35-day government shutdown, Bernhardt managed to obtain approval for 15 new leases for drilling on public lands as well as 71 new permits for offshore drilling. More than 50 recipients of the offshore drilling permits were companies that sit on the board of directors of the National Ocean Industries Association, a former client of Mr. Bernhardt’s. (Note that while his department is also responsible for conservation, maintaining national parks and permitting renewable energy programs, none of those functions were operative during the shutdown)
  • Intervened to block the release of a scientific report revealing the threat presented by three widely used pesticides to hundreds of endangered species (See New York Times investigative report). Bernhardt claims the NYT article is “not even close to true”, however I would disagree, knowing full well the integrity with which the Times do their research.
  • Has worked to loosen key provisions of the Endangered Species Act and to weaken safety and environmental rules on oil and gas drilling equipment.
  • Proposed a budget that would cut funding for the National Park Service by nearly $500 million, cut the budget for the Fish and Wildlife Service by $267 million, as well as cuts to other services including wildfire management (remember last year’s wildfires in California?)

Bernhardt’s confirmation hearing was held in the Senate on Thursday.  Predictably, he was praised by republican senators.

“David Bernhardt is an honest man who puts all his cards on the table and keeps his word. He is a champion of conservation. There is zero question that Mr. Bernhardt is qualified to do this job.” – Senator Cory Gardner, Colorado  (An “honest” man???  HAH!!!  Trump would never nominate an honest man!)

It should be noted that Senator Gardner has received $47,000 in campaign donations from Bernhardt’s former lobbying firm.

“I intend to move Mr. Bernhardt’s nomination as expeditiously as possible. He is ready for this job and has demonstrated he can handle everything it entails.” – Senator Lisa Murkowski, Alaska (How much money did you receive from Bernhardt’s former lobbying firm, Ms. Murkowski???)

However, the democrats in the senate were a bit more discriminating.  Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon mentioned Bernhardt’s blocking of the previously mentioned scientific report, saying …

“Mr. Bernhardt, you came to my office to tell me that you were the guy who stood up for ethics in the George W. Bush administration. You asked to come to my office to say your ethics are unimpeachable. But these documents make it look like you’re just another corrupt official. Why would you come to my office to lie to me about your ethics? Just like Julie MacDonald, you meddled in the science.”

Environmental groups are speaking out against Bernhardt’s confirmation as well.

David Bernhardt“Bernhardt got this nomination as a reward for months of work cramming America’s natural heritage into a wood chipper. He’s already done more damage to our environment than anyone else in Interior Department history. Confirming him as Interior secretary would be a boon to polluters and a colossal disaster for our public lands and endangered species.” – Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity

“With nearly two dozen former clients that have business before the agency, David Bernhardt is a walking conflict of interest who is uniquely unfit to serve as Interior Secretary.” – Jennifer Rokala, executive director of the Center for Western Priorities.

Three Greenpeace activists donned ‘swamp monster’ masks as they sat in the audience at the hearings …

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Perhaps Washington state Governor Jay Inslee said it best …

“Let’s not put big oil in charge of the Interior Department. Today’s Senate confirmation hearing shows that oil lobbyist David Bernhardt is dangerous to America’s public lands and waters and can’t be trusted to be our Interior Secretary. Big oil is literally laughing about the access they have to this administration. His answers today demonstrated his deep conflict of interest and his unwillingness to come clean about his record of mothballing an analysis of dangerous toxic chemicals. The Senate should reject this deeply flawed nomination and prevent this ethics nightmare.”

In the end, none of his conflicts of interest will matter to the republican-dominated, boot-licking, ass-kissing senate who are nearly certain to confirm Bernhardt, but it should matter to We the People, for we are the ones who will suffer from the destruction of our home, planet Earth.