Sold Downriver

Paul Ryan, Jeff Flake, Ben Sasse, Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Bob Corker, Tim Scott, John Kasich, Newt Gingrich … what do these men have in common?  Two things:  they are all republicans and they have all spoken out against Trump’s behaviour in yesterday’s meeting/summit with Vladimir Putin.  Surprised?  So was I, but it is a testament to just how abominable Trump’s actions/words actually were.  Perhaps more surprising yet is that even his state-news network, Fox News, disagreed with his handling of this meeting:

“There is a growing consensus across the land tonight … that the president threw the United States under the bus.” — Fox News White House correspondent John Roberts.

“No negotiation is worth throwing your own people and country under the bus.” – Abby Huntsman, Fox News Channel host and daughter of Trump’s ambassador to Russia, John Huntsman

Some republicans in and out of Congress who routinely lick his boots were appalled:

“There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia.” – Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan

“One of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.” – Senator John McCain

“This is bizarre and flat-out wrong. The United States is not to blame. America wants a good relationship with the Russian people but Vladimir Putin and his thugs are responsible for Soviet-style aggression. When the President plays these moral equivalence games, he gives Putin a propaganda win he desperately needs.” – Senator Ben Sasse

“I have said a number of times, I’ll say it again: The Russians are not our friends. And I entirely believe the assessment of our intelligence community.” – Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell

“I never thought I would see the day when our American President would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression. This is shameful.” – Senator Jeff Flake

“It’s depressing, really unlike anything we’ve seen in my lifetime. A president of the United States saying, ‘You know, I kind of believe a former KGB agent over our intelligence community.’ This is a sad day.” – Ohio Governor, John Kasich

“When he had the opportunity to defend our intelligence agencies who work for him, I was very disappointed and saddened with the equivalency that he gave between them and what Putin was saying. The president’s comments made us look as a nation more like a pushover and I was disappointed in that.” – Senator Bob Corker

“It’s certainly not helpful for the President to express doubt about the conclusions of his own team. He has assembled a first-rate intelligence team handled by Dan Coats and I would hope that he would take their analysis over the predictable denials of President Putin.” – Senator Susan Collins

“As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I am deeply troubled by President Trump’s defense of Putin against the intelligence agencies of the U.S. & his suggestion of moral equivalence between the U.S. and Russia. Russia poses a grave threat to our national security.” – Representative Liz Cheney

“The President’s summit in Helsinki today should have been an attempt at confronting Russian aggression, hacking, and election interference. Russia is not a friend or ally. As Americans, we stand up for our interests and values abroad; but I fear today was a step backwards.” – Senator Tim Scott

“President Trump must clarify his statements in Helsinki on our intelligence system and Putin. It is the most serious mistake of his presidency and must be corrected—-immediately.” – Former House Speaker, Newt Gingrich

“I’ve seen the Russian intelligence manipulate many people many people in my career, and I never would have thought the US President would be one of them.” – Representative and former CIA officer, Will Hurd

“The American people deserve the truth, & to disregard the legitimacy of our intelligence officials is a disservice to the men & women who serve this country. It’s time to wake up & face reality. #Putin is not our friend; he’s an enemy to our freedom.” – Representative Adam Kinzinger

Needless to say, democrats were outraged, but that was to be expected.  I am only slightly encouraged by the above comments, all by republican sycophants, for the proof will be in the pudding.  Are they disturbed enough to act, or are they only paying lip service to an enraged public?  And speaking of the public, what about Trump’s ignoble followers?  Are they angered at all, or are they still cheering?  Do they even understand the ramifications of his actions, his words?   Do they understand that We the People have been sold downriver?

TREASON!

I just love starting Monday in a haze of white-hot fury.  The Washington Post headline reads:

Putin Again Denies Russian Interference in the 2016 U.S. Election; Trump Calls Probe a ‘Disaster for Our Country’

It comes as no surprise that Putin denies interference … nobody with half a brain thought he would admit it, but no matter, for there is more than ample hard fact-based evidence that he did.  But for Trump to call the investigation a “disaster for our country”???  NO … NO NO NO NO NO!  The investigation is essential and the only thing that gives us hope we might get rid of the real disaster: Trump himself!  I am in a white hot fury over his asininity!

Putin:  … Russian state has never interfered and is not going to interfere in internal American affairs.

Trump:  There was no collusion. I didn’t know the president. There was nobody to collude with. There was no collusion with the campaign.bullshitNow what, exactly, do these two donkeys expect us to do at this point?  Do they expect that we will all say, “Oh, well, that solves it then.  Let’s stop the Mueller investigation and all other investigations and let Trump get on with his plan for mass destruction of the U.S.”

Somebody needs to take that ugly red tie and wrap it around his neck a few more times and pull tightly!

Trump:  Our relationship has never been worse than it is now. However, that changed, as of about four hours ago.

Why, Donnie?  What changed?  Did you offer him the keys to the Capitol and the White House?  Did you promise to change the name of the country to the United States of Russia?  And what did he offer you?  A lifetime sitting in the Oval Office with no need for another election ever? 

Frankly, if this isn’t a wake-up call to both Congress and Trump’s supporters, then we know that they have all been lobotomized.

Trump:  I think the probe has been a disaster for our country. It’s ridiculous what’s going on with the probe.

Well-respected former Director of the CIA, John Brennan, had this to say:

“Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”

I repeat that question:  Where are you???  Some republicans in Congress absolutely must wake up and step up to the plate, for now there can be no doubt … not a shred of doubt … that Donald Trump is Putin’s asset.  There can be no doubt that deals have been made for our country to blindly support Russia’s agenda, whatever that agenda may be.  I can only wonder, with Trump’s past Russian connections, how many years this plan has been in the making?

Trump:  Much of our news media is indeed the enemy of the people and all the Dems know how to do is resist and obstruct! This is why there is such hatred and dissension in our country — but at some point, it will heal!

The “hatred and dissension” in our country did not begin with Trump, but he has escalated it by a thousand percent, and continues to do so every time his fingers hit the keys on his twittering machine.  Donald Trump cannot heal the rift … the gulf … in this country, for he is the cause of it.  And no, folks, the media is NOT the enemy of the people … Donald Trump is the enemy of the people!  His state-media, Fox News is the enemy of the people, for they spread his lies and further widen the great divide.

I make no apologies, as I normally would, for this rant, for it is time We The People – all the people, including those who have been wearing blinders and earplugs for nearly 18 months now – wake up and see what is right under our very noses!  Donald Trump has no love for this country nor for its people.  He loves two things:  money and power.  And Vladimir Putin is promising him both.  Russia is not our friend and the free press is not our enemy.  There can no longer be any illusion that Trump can be reined in and eventually become the president of the people.  His goals are not ours.  The only solution, if we wish to continue as a relatively free nation, is to get Donald Trump out of the White House as quickly as possible.

Friend or Foe???

Friend: a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.

Foe: an enemy or opponent.syp-v-spy


Shouldn’t be too hard to tell the difference, should it?  Sure, sometimes we think somebody is a friend, only to learn later that they weren’t at all, but most of us are pretty fair judges of character and we don’t often make serious mistakes in choosing our friends.  Donald Trump is the exception to that rule.  But then, Donald  Trump is the exception to most every rule in the book, so why are we surprised?

On Saturday, Trump was interviewed by CBS Evening News anchor Jeff Glor in Scotland.  The full interview will be broadcast on Monday, but a few snippets have been released. Asked who he thinks is the biggest foe the U.S. has right now, he replied …

“Well I think we have a lot of foes. I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now you wouldn’t think of the European Union but they’re a foe.”

President of the European Union Donald Tusk had a good comeback: “America and the EU are best friends. Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake news.”

I imagine Trump considers Canada and Mexico among the other foes. Lest you fall into the trap of believing a single word this man says, allow me to clarify.  The European Union and the countries that comprise it are our allies – our friends.  The UK is also our friend and ally. North Korea, China and Russia are not.  They are foes.  They are our antagonists.  They do not seek an alliance where both sides stand to gain.  Russia, in particular, has a goal, an endgame in mind whereby Russia dominates a large portion of the globe, and because of the ignorance of Donald Trump, Russia – specifically Vladimir Putin – views the United States as a pawn in their game.

Typically, a president has many advisors, each an expert in his or her field, and the smart president will listen to those advisors, process the information they are given, then make what seems the best decision at the moment.  By ‘best decision’, I mean that which will keep the world safest, and benefit the citizens of the U.S.  That style of leadership went out the window the day Trump took office and because of it, the world becomes a little less safe every day.

In the past week, Trump has been rude & crude – his trademark – to the Queen of England, to Prime Minister Theresa May, and to German Chancellor Angela Merkel – all are leaders of nations that are our friends, our allies.  On the flip side of that, he has praised DPRK leader Kim Jong-un, saying, “He’s very smart, great personality, he’s funny and tough, good negotiator.”

And, of course, he is meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin tomorrow, just three days after indictments were handed down for 12 of Putin’s henchmen who are accused of having acted as agents to sway the 2016 election in favour of Trump.  Many things are concerning about his meeting with Putin, not the least of which is his insistence that the meeting take place without advisors, staff, note-takers or other witnesses.  This is highly unorthodox and should not be allowed.  Presidential conversations are a matter of record – documented.  Period. One might speculate that Trump has an agenda for the meeting that is not in the best interest of the U.S.  Yep … one might just speculate that …

Trump is very angry over the indictments of the 12 Russians on Friday … angry, but not at Putin, not at Russia … no, he is angry with his own people, angry with Robert Mueller and Rod Rosenstein.  He says he may ask Putin about the data theft conducted by the 12, but will absolutely not ask for their extradition to the U.S.  Ask yourself “WHY?”

Trump claims the data theft was solely the fault of the Democratic National Committee (DNC):

“I think the DNC should be ashamed of themselves for allowing themselves to be hacked. They had bad defenses and they were able to be hacked.”

Oh yes, I forgot … the democrats are also a foe.  And it was all Obama’s fault for letting it happen.  Barack Obama is also a foe.

The world should be concerned about the Trump-Putin meeting without credible witnesses or documenters.  Trump says he has low expectations for the meeting, but that nothing bad will come of it.  Sorry, folks, this man’s ‘word’ has about as much value as the rotten milk in my refrigerator.  He cannot even tell the difference between a friend and a foe, and in truth, the U.S. may not have many friends left after the past week.  Think about it.

Protest ahead of Trump-Putin meeting in Helsinki

Protesters in Helsinki, Finland, ahead of Putin-Trump ‘summit’

Shoot The Messenger???

The news on the street … well, okay, on the internet … is that the Freedom Caucus of the House of Representatives has prepared paperwork to propose impeachment proceedings against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.  Apparently, in light of his indictments against 12 Russians in the Robert Mueller investigation of Russian interference into the 2016 election, the House Freedom Caucus has decided to shoot the messenger rather than try to understand what happened two years ago.  Now, in preparation for this post, I did some research into the House Freedom Caucus (HFC) and the Tea Party movement and I turned over some facts that I found very interesting.

The Tea Party movement began almost immediately following Barack Obama’s first presidential inauguration (in January 2009) when his administration announced plans to give financial aid to bankrupt homeowners.  It is notable that this was one of the first things Trump reversed via executive order after he took office.  The driving force behind the movement was none other than David H. Koch of Koch brothers fame.  But here’s the really interesting thing … one of the things the party stands firmly in favour of is a reduction of the national debt and federal budget deficit.  The tax bill of December 2017 ensured the exact opposite of both of these goals!  Both debt and deficit have been increased and are projected to be ‘bigly’ increased over the coming decade.

Left to right:  Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows, Mick Mulvaney

The House Freedom Caucus was founded by none other than current Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Mick Mulvaney, and is currently chaired by Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina, consists of the following members:

Justin Amash Michigan
Joe Barton Texas
Andy Biggs Arizona
Rod Blum Iowa
Dave Brat Virginia
Mo Brooks Alabama
Ken Buck Colorado
Ted Budd North Carolina
Warren Davidson Ohio
Ron DeSantis Florida
Scott DesJarlais Tennessee
Jeff Duncan South Carolina
Matt Gaetz Florida
Tom Garrett Jr. Virginia]
Louie Gohmert Texas
Paul Gosar Arizona
Morgan Griffith Virginia
Andy Harris Maryland
Jody Hice Georgia
Jim Jordan Ohio
Raúl Labrador Idaho
Mark Meadows North Carolina
Alex Mooney West Virginia
Gary Palmer Alabama
Steve Pearce New Mexico
Scott Perry Pennsylvania
Bill Posey Florida
Mark Sanford South Carolina
David Schweikert Arizona
Randy Weber Texas
Ted Yoho Florida

These 31 men are the most radically conservative in the U.S. Congress, and they have been preparing the impeachment documents against Mr. Rosenstein since April, it is said.  Their focus on Rosenstein is explained by the fact that it is he to whom Robert Mueller reports on the status and results of the ongoing investigation into the election of 2016.  Initially, the investigation was to determine the extent to which Russia had interfered in the election and who was involved.  The investigation quickly expanded, however, as various members of the Trump campaign, and even some of his family members were found to have involvement.  The HFC is apparently feeling threatened by the mounting evidence and intends to shut the investigation down, one way or another.

The House Freedom Caucus has only 31 members, and 31 is not a majority in a House comprised of 435 members.  It would require the support of 187 additional members to pass, and that seems somewhat unlikely.  But then … there are an awful lot of boot-lickers these days who seem willing to sell their souls to support and protect the worst president in the history of the U.S.

Rosenstein, for his part, deserves a standing ovation.  He has stood his ground and been the voice of reason, perhaps the only voice of reason in this past week.  Here is a small part of his speech … you can read the full speech here if you are interested.

“We do not try cases on television or in congressional hearings. Most anonymous leaks are not from the government officials who are actually conducting these investigations. We follow the rule of law, which means that we follow procedures, and we reserve judgment. We complete our investigations, and we evaluate all of the relevant evidence before we reach any conclusion. That is how the American people expect their Department of Justice to operate, and that is how our department is going to operate.

The indictment was returned today because prosecutors determined that the evidence was sufficient to present these allegations to a federal grand jury. Our analysis is based solely on the facts, the law, and Department of Justice policies. I briefed President Trump about these allegations earlier this week. The president is fully aware of the department’s actions today.

There will always be adversaries who seek to exacerbate our divisions and try to confuse, divide, and conquer us. So long as we are united in our commitment to the values enshrined in the Constitution, they will not succeed. A partisan warfare fueled by modern technology does not fairly reflect the grace, dignity, and unity of the American people. The blame for election interference belongs to the criminals who commit election interference. We need to work together to hold the perpetrators accountable, and we need to keep moving forward to preserve our values, protect against future interference, and defend America.”

In addition to the data theft, hacked emails and computers of key people in the DNC, it has been determined that the Russians were responsible for hacking the website of a state election board and stealing information about 500,000 voters.  A half-million of us private citizens had our personal information stolen as part of a giant scheme to rig the election in favour of Donald Trump, and the republicans are mad at Rod Rosenstein???

I am going to be emailing my representatives tomorrow to inform them in no uncertain terms that I will break their kneecaps not stand silently by and allow this ridiculously blatant attempt to cover up a massive crime against the citizens of this nation!  I stand by Mr. Robert Mueller and Mr. Rod Rosenstein – possibly the only two men in Washington that have a conscience and are trying to do the right thing for the people of the U.S.

Eve of Destruction

My music choices these days seem to run to protest songs … the other night I couldn’t get Joan Baez’ The Night They Drove Ol’ Dixie Down out of my head, and then tonight, as I was responding to comments, writing my post about Trump unleashed on the UK, and answering email, I found myself humming Barry McGuire’s Eve of Destruction.  I hesitated to share this one, for it isn’t a happy, upbeat cheery song.  But, it is reflective of how I feel tonight, and therefore it is honest and genuine … something this country could use a lot more of.  So, without further ado, and with a promise to be cheerier on the morrow, I give you Barry McGuire …

Eve of Destruction
Barry McGuire

The eastern world, it is explodin’,
Violence flarin’, bullets loadin’,
You’re old enough to kill but not for votin’,
You don’t believe in war, but what’s that gun you’re totin’,
And even the Jordan river has bodies floatin’,
But you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

Don’t you understand, what I’m trying to say?
And can’t you feel the fears I’m feeling today?
If the button is pushed, there’s no running away,
There’ll be no one to save with the world in a grave,
Take a look around you, boy, it’s bound to scare you, boy,
And you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

Yeah, my blood’s so mad, feels like coagulatin’,
I’m sittin’ here, just contemplatin’,
I can’t twist the truth, it knows no regulation,
Handful of Senators don’t pass legislation,
And marches alone can’t bring integration,
When human respect is disintegratin’,
This whole crazy world is just too frustratin’,
And you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

Think of all the hate there is in Red China!
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama!
Ah, you may leave here, for four days in space,
But when your return, it’s the same old place,
The poundin’ of the drums, the pride and disgrace,
You can bury your dead, but don’t leave a trace,
Hate your next door neighbor, but don’t forget to say grace,
And you tell me over and over and over and over again my friend,
You don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.
No, no, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

Songwriters: P. F. Sloan, 1965
Eve of Destruction lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

The “president” is a Son-of-a-Bitch

Let’s start with a simple question:  If you are invited to visit a friend, and your own house is in a shambles, dirty because you haven’t cleaned it in months, are you likely to harshly criticize your friend’s housekeeping skills when her house if nearly immaculate?  And to do so publicly, announcing to the neighborhood at large?  I think not.  Why? Because you are sensible, kind and truthful.

Who does Donald Trump think he is?  He was, though only by the minority and not the majority, elected to be the president of the United States.  He was not elected Prime Minister of the UK.  He was not elected President of NATO.  He was only elected to be the president (no caps) of what is fast becoming the most despised nation on the face of the earth.

I won’t even bother addressing just now his abhorrent performance – yes, that is what all his public appearances are, performances – at NATO on Wednesday and early Thursday, but will skip right on to his epic failure in the UK yesterday afternoon.

Donald Trump decided to give an interview to one media outlet in the UK, The Sun. First off, guess who owns The Sun?  None other than Rupert Murdoch, the very same Rupert Murdoch who owns Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, among others.  It is considered Britain’s most right-wing newspaper, or actually more of a tabloid.

The SunThe interview had been done on Wednesday in Brussels, and was strategically scheduled to be published during Trump’s first evening in London.  There can be no doubt … no doubt at all that it was an attempt to add insult to injury as Ms. May is struggling to maintain her position in light of the opposition to the soft Brexit deal she announced earlier this week.  Trump also praised May’s antagonist, Boris Johnson, and alluded to him as a future Prime Minister, further indicating his attempt to influence the fate of Ms. May’s government.

A few of his most obnoxious remarks from the interview (and of course I could not resist adding my own commentary):

“I would have done it much differently. I actually told Theresa May how to do it, but she didn’t listen to me.”  (And why should she listen to the words of a dishonest ‘man’?)

“The deal she is striking is a much different deal than the one people voted on.” (He didn’t even know what Brexit was in early 2016!)

“If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the U.K., so it will probably kill the deal.”  (A mind is a terrible thing to waste)

“I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London. I used to love London as a city. I haven’t been there in a long time. But when they make you feel unwelcome, why would I stay there?”  (You’re finally getting the message — they don’t want you, Bozo!)

On London Mayor Sadiq Khan: “Take a look at the terrorism that is taking place. Look at what is going on in London. I think he has done a very bad job on terrorism. I think he has done a bad job on crime, if you look, all of the horrible things going on there, with all of the crime that is being brought in.”  (Not your place to judge, Donnie boy — you don’t even understand your own job, so don’t try to tell someone else how to do theirs)

“I have a lot of respect for Boris [Johnson]. He obviously likes me and says very good things about me. I was very saddened to see he was leaving government, and I hope he goes back in at some point. I think he is a great representative for your country. I am just saying I think he would be a great prime minister. I think he’s got what it takes.” (Just proves that Johnson is a lousy judge of character)

Last month, Trump very rudely and using false pretenses offended Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after the disastrous G7 summit where Trump should have been put outside with the canines, based on his behaviour.  And this month, he has gone beyond simply insulting the Prime Minister of the UK, but has attempted to undermine the job she is working hard to do.

Trump-May.jpg

What the heck is Melania wearing — the curtains???

Although I did not vote for Trump and have never supported him in any way, I still feel I owe all my UK friends a humble apology.  Please forgive us, our nation, for being too stupid to see what an ignominious jackass our so-called president is and allowing him to remain in office.  I’m sorry.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who I actually defended recently, saying that she didn’t deserve the public embarrassment she was subjected to when she was asked to leave a restaurant, went above and beyond her usual dog-and-pony show lies:

“The President likes and respects Prime Minister May very much. As he said in his interview with the Sun she ‘is a very good person’ and he ‘never said anything bad about her.’”

Bullpoop.

His behaviour and his interview with The Sun were abominable.  Extremely unprofessional, un-presidential, crass, rude and whatever other adjective you can think of to insert.  Make no mistake — this is a serious diplomatic blunder for the U.S., and one that will likely have long-reaching ramifications for both the U.S. and the UK.  I do not see how it can possibly fail to erode the relations between our two nations.  Donald Trump has absolutely no right to interfere in the negotiations between the UK and EU regarding Brexit.  It is not his fight.

It is worth noting that Trump is not capable of taking care of his own house, is doing a terrible job at home, and yet here he is trying to tell all of NATO what they must do, and now trying to tell the Prime Minister of the UK how she should do her job!  As I said in the beginning, the United States is well on the way to becoming the most despised nation on the earth.  All because of one ‘man’.  Well no, wait, actually the blame must be shared by 62,985,115 others.  The 62,984,828 who voted for him, and the 287 republicans in Congress (51 in the Senate and 236 in the House of Representatives) who have been slavishly licking his boots every day since 20 January 2017.  Thank you all for making our nation the worst it has been since 1865.  Each and every one of you deserve what’s coming your way.  Sadly, the other 265,134,207 of us in the U.S. do not deserve the abomination you have unleashed on us, and the rest of the world does not either!

Say WHAT???

Two stories yesterday just left me … speechless.

Alabama has been a controversial state in recent years, in no small part due to Roy Moore, a federal judge twice tossed off the bench for failing to uphold the law, then a credibly accused pedophile running for a seat in the U.S. Senate to replace proven-racist Jeff Sessions, who is now the U.S. Attorney General.  Whew … makes your head spin, doesn’t it?  Historically, Alabama has been a republican stronghold, though that may be changing, given that they didn’t fall for Roy Moore’s story in December and voted in Doug Jones, a democrat, rejecting Moore for either his lawbreaking ways, his racism, or his pedophilia … who knows which?

Well, Alabama is back in the news, and I want you to sit down, because what I’m about to tell you is going to surprise you … or maybe not, in the current environment of untruth and dishonesty.  Until this week, sheriffs could keep for themselves any excess public money after they had paid for prisoners’ meals.  Yes, you heard right.  Taxpayer dollars fund the upkeep of prisoners, including meals.  So, say the budget calls for $15,600 for prisoner meals for a given week in Etowah County, Alabama.  And say that in the month of May, there were fewer than usual prisoners, and in addition, Sheriff Bubba arranged for some really cheap mac ‘n cheese to be served up twice a day in lieu of a protein, such as … um … meat.  So, the meals only ended up costing around $8,100 for the month.  Well, Sheriff Bubba can now put his darling daughter Darlene through her first two years of college, for he gets to pocket the $7,500 that was budgeted but not spent on prisoner’s meals!  And that’s how it was in ol’ Alabama, until …

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey stepped in and said, NO MORE!!!Kay-Ivey“Public funds should be used for public purposes.  It’s that simple.”

Good grief, people!!!  This really isn’t rocket science!  Sheriffs get paid a salary … skimping on prisoner’s meals shouldn’t result in extra money in the sheriff’s pocket!  Can you even imagine what abuses that must have led to over the years?

A practice begun in the Depression was upheld in 2008 in a ruling by then-Attorney General Troy King, who said a “sheriff may retain any surplus from the food service allowance as personal income,” noting that “most of the sheriffs in the state have retained the food service allowances for personal income for years.”

How many other states, I wonder, engage in similar practices?

say whatLast year NPR reported on a sheriff in Alabama’s Etowah County: “Voters in Alabama lost their appetite for a sheriff who personally profited off hundreds of thousands of dollars meant to buy food for inmates at the Etowah County Jail. Sheriff Todd Entrekin lost his re-election campaign during the Republican primary on Tuesday.”

“At a news conference in March, Entrekin confirmed that he had personally profited by hundreds of thousands of dollars by reducing costs in jail kitchens. He emphasized that it was legal, denied that inmates experienced malnutrition — while agreeing that many ‘are not happy with the food they are served’ — and urged the state to pass a law prohibiting sheriffs from taking the money as personal profit.

Reporters also noted that Entrekin purchased a beach house for $740,000. In his news conference, Entrekin denied there was a link between his hundreds of thousands of dollars in jail-kitchen income and his property purchase, noting that his wife’s income was also factored into the mortgage.”

For decades lawmakers have been trying to change this ‘policy’, but without success.  Governor Ivey stepped up to the plate and succeeded where others had failed, and is hoping to get the matter put to bed once and for all by the Alabama Legislature later this year

“I have changed the way these funds are handled because it is the right thing to do. The law is clear, the attorney general’s opinion is clear, and now I have been clear. I urge the Legislature to follow my lead and codify this policy into law during the next regular session.”

This one just left me speechless.  How could anybody ever think this was okay?


Then there was the letter PayPal sent to a customer … a deceased customer:

“Dear Mrs Lindsay Durdle,

This is a default notice…You are in breach of condition 15.4(c) of your agreement with PayPal Credit as we have received notice that you are deceased. In accordance with condition 15.4(c), we are entitled to close your account, terminate your agreement and demand repayment of the full amount outstanding.”

PayPal letterHas your jaw dropped yet?  Did they expect her to respond, I wonder?  Ms. Durdle died last May of cancer at age 37.  Her husband had sent a letter to PayPal informing them of her death.  He provided PayPal with copies of her death certificate, her will and his ID, as requested.  Her will?  I’ve never heard of such!  And then to get this response from PayPal?  Unfathomable!

PayPal has since realized their error and issued an apology to Mr. Durdle, who said …

“If I’m going to make any fuss about this at all, it’s to make sure that PayPal – or any other organisation that might do this kind of insensitive thing – recognises the damage they can cause the recently bereaved.”

A reasonable response, and much nicer than mine would have been.

 

Trade War Without Ammo

Donald Trump has started a full-blown trade war with his tariffs on both allies and others. He claims that “a trade war is easy to win”, but nothing could be further from the truth, and frankly Trump’s simplistic view is tiresome and dangerous. I have a good grasp of what the short-term effects of this trade war are likely to have here in the U.S., but beyond that, my understanding of macro-economics is sketchy. Fellow blogger Erik Hare, on the other hand, is an economist and therefore understands far better than I what is likely to happen on the global scene. Please take a few minutes to read Erik’s assessment of the current situation. Thank you, Erik, for your keen insight and for allowing me to share this post.

Barataria - The work of Erik Hare

The trade war is definitely on, no matter how Wall Street wants to deny it. Serious investors have downplayed recent events as part of a grand strategy, a negotiating tool that will all work out in the end. The reality, that there isn’t really a good strategy in place here but simply petty tactics, has not sunk in yet, at least in America. But the rest of the world knows better.

For the purposes of this discussion, the European Union will be diminished to Germany. After all, this is the economic engine that powers the continent right now, and Merkel’s leadership is critical. Where is Germany going? The long and short of it, the strategic and the tactical, is to the east. This response is proof enough that there is no US strategy which makes any sense.

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Define “Generous” Please …

My jaw literally (well, okay, figuratively) dropped to the floor this morning when I saw this headline:

HHS Secretary: Separating Immigrant Families Is ‘One of the Great Acts of American Generosity’

Say what???

The separation of children from their parents at the southern border can be defined by only two words:  a fiasco, and chaos.  ‘Generosity’ is definitely the antithesis of what this nation has done to those families seeking a safe haven.  A federal judge ordered all children under the age of five to be reunited with their parents by July 10th  — yesterday.  However, some 84 of the 101 or 102 children under five remain separated from their families in detention centers, aka concentration camps.  How is this ‘generous’?

“We have nothing to hide about how we operate these facilities.” That was Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Tuesday night, referring to what he calls the juvenile and “tender age” facilities in which many of the separated children are currently being detained. It seems strange to me that if they have nothing to hide, they have barred media outlets and public figures from filming or visiting. And then he went on to say …

“It is one of the great acts of American generosity and charity, what we are doing for these unaccompanied kids.” 

I call FOUL!!!  There is no generosity involved in taking a young child, a toddler, from its mother’s arms and putting it in an abandoned Wal-Mart store, surrounded by wire and strange faces!  And why is he referring to them as ‘unaccompanied’?  A two-year-old child does not just wander across the border on his own.  These children were accompanied by their parents!!!  Three thousand – 3,000 – children were accompanied by their parents, then taken away to detention centers, scared, alone, and not knowing why they are no longer with their parents.  And Mr. Azar calls this ‘generous’?  Perhaps his definition of the word is different than mine.  Or perhaps he is in the wrong job, for his agency is titled “Health and Human Services”, and there is nothing … not one thing … humanitarian about what is happening to these children!

HHS and ICE have so royally mucked up this entire fiasco that they deserve to be placed in these detention centers themselves.  First, they have lost track of some 20% of the parents who were either released in the U.S. or deported back to their homelands – without their children.  Second, they are claiming that 27 of the children under 5 will not be reunited because the parents have ‘criminal records’, yet we are not told what crimes they are accused of.  Perhaps nothing more than a speeding ticket or jaywalking in some cases.  We don’t know … we just don’t know.  And frankly, I no longer trust our government to provide us with actual facts, for thus far we have been spoon-fed the b.s. that they want us to believe and I do not buy a single word of it.

The delay in reuniting the children, we are told, is because HHS is conducting DNA testing on children and parents in order to ensure the right kids go to the right families.  I see this more as a delaying tactic than a genuine concern for the children’s safety and welfare.  Part of the reason for the DNA requirement, according to officials, is that the documents proving parentage were initially taken from the parents at the border, and those documents have since been lost!  They cannot keep up with the parents, they cannot keep up with the paperwork … what next?  And now we are told that at least four of the mothers have been told they must pay the cost for the DNA testing before getting their children back!  These mothers do not have $700 – $800 in their pockets!

There are many people in this administration who must bear the guilt of this fiasco, but at the end of the day, it all falls squarely in the lap of Donald Trump.  Separating these children from their parents was a political move, making the children pawns in Trump’s game.  The process was hastily thrown together with little or no thought to record-keeping and eventual reunification.  These children and their parents are human beings, yet they have been treated as … objects, for lack of a better word.  And now, to add insult to injury, Alex Azar has the unmitigated gall to call what we are doing ‘generous’?  I don’t think so, Alex … no sir, I do not see generosity anywhere in this equation.