Just A Few ‘Toons …

In the interest of keeping it short, sweet, and to the point today (not to mention in the interest of the fact that I have more to do today than there are hours in the day), I have just a few ‘toons to make you shake your head and maybe smile … more likely smirk … on this Saturday afternoon.


I think there can be no doubt that the “Grand Old Party” can no longer be considered very ‘grand’ … I would say the GOP has done a 180° turn from the values they once claimed.GOP-principles.jpg


While Trump claims that he and Kim Jong-un of North Korea have a “very good relationship”, North Korea continues to test their nuclear capabilities, and Kim Jong-un promised, somewhat ominously, to send a Christmas gift to the United States earlier this month … though, as far as I know, said gift has yet to materialize.  North-Korea.jpg


While I work very hard at not critiquing others’ religions, I have to say that I’m a might sick and tired of the religious right, aka evangelicals, hypocrisy and double-standards …

evangelicalsreligious-right


It’s a sign of the times here in the U.S. …

Santa-guns.jpg


And lest we forget what this nation is doing to innocent children …

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Well … perhaps cartoons are sometimes more about waking us up, making us think, than making us laugh, yes?

Thought-Provoking Words

Until just a couple of weeks ago, I had not, that I can recall, heard of Umair Haque.  Then, our friend David sent me a piece by him that I found to be thoughtful and thought-provoking, so I did a bit of research on the man.  Umair is a London-based consultant, and author of at least three books1.  I read several articles by him, in addition to the one David sent, until Medium, where he publishes, told me I had reached my limit of free articles.  While I do not necessarily agree with all he says … after much pondering, I mostly agree.  I have highlighted in red the parts that really made me sit up and take note.  Please read the following and give it some thought.  I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.


Umair-Haque

Umair Haque

Here’s a tiny observation. Forgive me. You might not like it.

I’ve seen many countries collapse. Pakistan. Afghanistan. The Soviet Union. Turkey. Iran. Sri Lanka. Egypt. Some, first-hand. Some from afar, through the eyes of friends and colleagues.

But I’ve never seen a country collapse as fast, as severely, and as hard as America is.

America’s collapsing at an unprecedented rate. Light-speed. Terminal velocity. Turbo-charged implosion. I don’t think a country has collapsed as fast as America — maybe not in all of history. Especially not a rich and powerful one. Rome took centuries. The Soviet Union’s took decades, and it’s still rolling on. Maybe only small countries which had never really built strong institutions, barely-democracies, have I seen crash this fast, hard, and badly — but that’s the point. American collapse is something unique in modern history.

Of course, that’s a subjective judgment — we don’t have an objective speedometer for the collapse of societies. But that is what this essay will be about. To show you, a little bit, what leads me to the idea that America’s crashing and burning at light speed. I want to take a moment to share what I see, by pinning down precisely what I mean by collapse.

First, of course, there is political collapse. From democracy to autocracy, kleptocracy, and authoritarianism. America’s political institutions simply don’t function anymore. It’s [sic] democracy doesn’t represent the 70% of people who want functioning healthcare, gun control, education, safety nets — but only the 25–30% of immovable extremists who apparently want to live in the Handmaid’s Tale meets 1984 by way of Mein Kampf. Its rule of law has devolved to mass trials and mass disappearances and mothers being separated from their kids at the border. It’s critical systems of governance are so broken that 5000 people died from negligence after…a storm.

The American polity doesn’t resemble the French or German one — in fact, it looks very much like the Pakistani polity, the Saudi, or maybe the Soviet polity. It is completely and utterly dysfunctional, to a degree that is unimaginable among its rich peers. And all that took perhaps a decade or two.

Then there is cultural collapse — from a culture of thought, reason, and accomplishment, to one of superstition, violence, and extremism . Kids shoot one another in schools regularly. People die for a lack of basic medicines like insulin — and the average American appears not to know that insulin doesn’t cost $1000 a month, but pennies, even in the world’s poorest countries. Why is that? It is because the are misinformed and kept ignorant by a media that feeds them a diet of Ancient Aliens and Paranormal Files. Hence, what should be a functioning culture is now rife with dark age style superstition.

Vaccinate my kids? No way! Never mind that humanity only eradicated smallpox in 1977. But vaccination is the least of America’s descent into superstition: then there is conspiracy theory, “truth” movements, a kind of hypocritical religious fundamentalism that’s quite happy to let kids shoot each other, bigotry, supremacism. And among the professional classes who look down on that, there is a culture of overwork and abuse and greed and cruelty — followed by lowest-common-denominator consumerism as a salve for the wounds of its emptiness. All these things rising are a function of a culture that fails to educate, inform, connect, or bond people together anymore.

A culture’s role is to help people makes sense of the world, as Marcel Mauss once argued — but American culture appears only to drive people into a kind of madness, either a frenzy of violence, a paralytic resignation, or a blind rage of fear and ignorance now. How fast did that happen? Well, it didn’t seem to do that so much even a decade ago, did it?

Then there is social collapse — from a modern society of broad-based prosperity, to something more like a dystopian caste society, where each stratum bitterly resents the next, and tries to pull it down, no one lifting anyone else up. The structure of American society is not that of a healthy society any longer. A once prosperous middle class has imploded into a new poor — while a tiny number of rich grew ultra rich. American society now resembles something more like Latin America in its darker times, Egypt, or Pakistan, perhaps. But even that understates the issue, because in America, trust imploded. People don’t trust institutions. They don’t trust society. They don’t trust their neighbours. Social bonds have completely imploded — predatory capitalism’s dream of a disintegrated society of atomized human commodities has finally come true.

As a result, of social bonds imploding, norms and rules no longer appear to work at all in America. Kids shooting each other? Ah, that’s terrible — but what can you do? Shrug. Every day brings a fresh scandal — this TV star is a supremacist, that celebrity is a bigot, that politician is a wife-beater ,and so on. How far have norms of decency shattered? There is an open pedophile and rapist running for public office.2 I don’t think that has happened anywhere in the modern world, ever, so far as I know. Not even in Pakistan, Iran, or Rwanda. And it would have been unimaginable even in the America of the 2000s.

Then there is economic collapse — from modernity’s rising living standards to a new kind of poverty. America has pioneered a new kind of impoverishment — precarity, living at the knife’s edge, in constant anxiety and panic and trauma. The average person has less than $500 in emergency savings. His or her income has been stagnant for decades — and even that economic “number” vastly understates the issue, because while their parents had jobs with benefits, pensions, retirements, protections, they have none of those things. Meanwhile, the price of the basics of life — healthcare, education, finance, food, housing — has exploded, skyrocketed, gone supernova.

How much? So much so that just the hospital bill for having a child costs half of median income. Who can afford to live a decent life in a society like that? Not even in Pakistan, Iran, or Afghanistan does having a child cost so much. Not even in severely broken countries do relatively well off people face so constantly the plight of living every day right at the razor’s edge — there, they have, at least, informal safety nets, family support systems, communities to shield them, and public goods to protect them. But Americans have none of these — because predatory capitalism has reduced them to prey.

For all these reasons, the average American has no optimism left in the future. He doesn’t believe that his children will live a better life. He is right, sadly. And that is because America is now collapsing at terminal velocity — faster than any society in history, as far as I can tell.

And I think that while Americans have a sense things are breaking down around them, they don’t really understand — because they aren’t often told — that a) this is the real thing, genuine collapse b) it is happening not slower or better than elsewhere, but in fact far faster, worse and harder, and c) because it is happening so fast, there is added to the constant stress of predatory capitalism, the heart-stopping turmoil of all these kinds of collapse, political, cultural, social, and economic.

Terminal velocity. So what happens when a society hits the ground? Usually, like anything, it shatters, breaks, and explodes.

Umair
June 2018

Text dividers

1 The New Capitalist Manifesto: Building a Disruptively Better Business (2011); Betterness: Economics for Humans (2011); Why Are Europeans (So Much) Happier Than Americans? (2019)

2 The pedophile and rapist running for office was Nathan Larson, who in 2018 was running for election to Congress from the 10th congressional district of Virginia, an election he lost by a landslide.  Larson served 14 months in prison for the felony of threatening President George W. Bush’s life.

Post-Christmas Snarky Snippets

Well, Christmas is over, and it’s back to the drawing board … back to Trumpmania … back to the chaos and vitriol that defines the United States in this, the 21st century.  I hope you all are ready for a new dose of snark, for I have an overflow of it today.


Lock her UP!

This, my friends, is the face of evil …Nicole-FranklinHer name is Nicole Marie Poole Franklin of Des Moines, Iowa, and on December 9th, she struck not one, but two children with her car, in separate incidents.  No, they weren’t accidents, neither was a case where a child ran out in front of her car.  She intentionally aimed at and hit a 12-year-old African-American boy and a 14-year-old Hispanic girl who she “thought was Mexican”.  To top it off, in between hitting the two children, Franklin entered a convenience store, went on a tirade, yelling racial epithets at the clerk, throwing items, then walked out without paying for her purchases.  In both hit-and-runs, tire tracks in the snow show that she veered onto the sidewalk to intentionally hit the children, and video from nearby homes show that she did not slow down, nor did she so much as tap her brakes.

Both children are physically alright, having suffered relatively minor injuries, though the girl was hospitalized for two days and missed a week of school.  Ms. Franklin is in jail charged with assault, committing a hate crime, and attempted murder, the latter a charge that could carry a 25-year prison sentence.  Frankly, I hope she serves every single day of those 25 years, but prosecutors fear that the jury may opt to convict her on the lesser charge of committing a hate crime.

CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper and Joe Henry, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens Council No.307 in Des Moines, told the Des Moines Register that hate crimes and racist attacks have been on the rise in Iowa since President Donald Trump was elected in 2016.  What a surprise, eh?  He opened a door and the bigots walked through it.

A California State University study released this fall by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism shows person-directed hate crimes rose to a 16-year high of 4,571 last year, accounting for 61% of all 2018 hate crimes. For Latinos, those crimes have risen 13% over one year and 48% over five years, according to the analysis of FBI crime statistics.


Home Alone without Trump …

Home-AloneI’m sure that somewhere along the line, I have seen the movie Home Alone 2, though I don’t remember.  Apparently, though, Donald Trump has a cameo in that movie, and earlier this week when he did a video conference call with overseas service members, he took saw an opportunity to brag on himself a bit (what a surprise, eh?) …

“A lot of people mention it every year, especially around Christmas. They say … especially young kids … they say, ‘I just saw you on the movie.’ They don’t see me on television as they do in the movie. But it’s been a good movie, and I was a little bit younger, to put it mildly. And it was an honor to do it.  And it turned out to be a very big hit, obviously. It’s a big Christmas hit — one of the biggest. So, it’s an honor to be involved in something like that, you always like to see success.”

So, given my antipathy for all things Trump, you can imagine my glee when I heard that the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) cut out Trump’s cameo when they aired the movie earlier this week!  CBC says it cut it in the interest of time, and that it was not integral to the plot … I fully agree, and would add that Trump is not integral to … well, never mind.  Anyway, it gave me a chuckle.  Trump, on the other hand, blamed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau …Trump-Home-Alone


At least there’s one …

One good republican, that is.  Nebraska State Senator John S. McCollister came onto my radar a while back, though I can’t quite remember how.  He is a republican, but one who seems to have a fair sense of play, a conscience in other words.  On Christmas Eve, I noticed a post by him on Facebook that I thought worthy of noting …John-McCollister

Two thumbs up 👍👍 to Senator McCollister.  It’s only too bad that he isn’t in the U.S. Senate!


Well, folks, that’s enough snark for one day.  I know that Christmas is over, but I came across this yesterday and thought it just begged to be shared.Santa-Claus.jpg

Ignorance Is NOT Bliss!

Yo … republicans!  Gather ‘round here for just a minute … I want you to listen to this bit from a speech your so-called president gave on Saturday …

“We’ll have an economy based on wind. I never understood wind. You know, I know windmills very much. I’ve studied it better than anybody. I know it’s very expensive. They’re made in China and Germany mostly — very few made here, almost none. But they’re manufactured tremendous — if you’re into this — tremendous fumes. Gases are spewing into the atmosphere. You know we have a world, right? So the world is tiny compared to the universe. So tremendous, tremendous amount of fumes and everything. You talk about the carbon footprint — fumes are spewing into the air. Right? Spewing. Whether it’s in China, Germany, it’s going into the air. It’s our air, their air, everything — right? So they make these things and then they put them up. They are noisy. They kill the birds. You want to see a bird graveyard, go under a windmill someday. You will see more dead birds than you’ve ever seen in your life.”

“I know windmills very much.  I’ve studied it better than anybody”???  What the hell does that even mean???  Trump claims that he doesn’t drink alcohol, but I’m not so sure I believe that, for he sure sounded like an old drunk to me!  He uttered 156 words that made not one little bit of sense, that had absolutely no meaning, except to prove his utter ignorance, for not one single thing he said is true!!!  And some of you guys still think he’s the greatest thing since sliced white bread???

The stupidity is astounding, would be astounding coming from anybody, but … the leader of a nation of some 330 million people?  No … just no.  But wait … it gets even worse.

He was speaking to approximately 5,000 high school and college students at the Turning Point USA conference in West Palm Beach, Florida.turning-point.pngAlso in attendance were Don Junior, Melania, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Dinesh D’Souza, Ted Cruz, Matt Gaetz, and Rudy Giuliani.  What a bunch, eh?  What is most disgusting, though, is that these young people, the future of this nation, were wildly enthusiastic about Trump’s message.  The topic that seemed to get the loudest applause, and a standing ovation, was when he bragged about turning away asylum seekers and exaggerated the amount of new border wall that his administration has built.  They repeatedly jumped to their feet, at one point chanting, “Four more years.”  And the part that should give you cold chills came when Trump yelled …

“From now on, start yelling 16 more years.”

This is not the first time he has hinted at or alluded to serving more than the maximum two terms.  This is not the first time, nor is it likely to be the last, that he has given the distinct impression that he will not leave the Oval Office without a fight, that he sees himself as a “ruler for life”.  The U.S. Constitution places certain limitations on the power of the presidency, but Donald Trump has shown disdain for the very document he took an oath to uphold.  Sure, there are ‘checks and balances’, but again, he has already broken those in more ways than one.  And he has his slavishly loyal supporters in Congress who refuse to do their job and rein in his power.

There are so many reasons that Trump must go, or we will find that by the end of his second term he has managed to destroy whatever was once good about this nation. And there is no reason he should be re-elected … not one single reason.  If the republicans put him back in office, it may well be the darkest day in the history of this nation, and will certainly be the darkest day for the future of the nation.  Read that bit of his speech from Saturday again and tell me if you think this is a person suited to lead.

Shopping Makes For Snarky Snippets!

I spent several hours today driving through packed parking lots, wending my way through crowds in stores, and watching my bank balance take a nose-dive, all of which has only added to my normal snarkiness.  Yes, yes, it’s called “finish the last-minute Christmas & stocking shopping on the last Saturday before Christmas”.  Bah humbug. I am not a shopper … the various concoctions that humans put on their bodies to make themselves smell flowery sets off my asthma, I am uncomfortable in crowds, and I tire easily … all of which adds up to not being a very happy shopper.  When I returned home and sat down, removed shoes, and let out a deep sigh, daughter Chris said I looked like I had just come through a war zone.  In truth, the stores on the last Saturday before Christmas rather resemble a war zone.  Anyway … the end result is that I’m tired, wheezy, and snarky.  You know what that means, right?


An update …

First, I start with an update on an October post, titled Her Life Mattered, about Atatiana Jefferson, an African-American woman who was shot through her apartment window by a trigger-happy police officer, Aaron Dean.  In October, Dean was charged with murder, and on Friday a grand jury indicted him.  The county prosecutor’s office has announced plans to “prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law,” though a trial date has yet to be announced.  With so many cases in the past few years where a white officer killed an unarmed black person and the officer was let off with no more than a slap on the wrist, it is good to see this case being taken seriously.


Gotta love George Conway

George Conway, husband of the infamous Kellyanne Conway, is a smart man.  The first clue was that he turned down a job in the Trump White House, and I imagine he congratulates himself on a daily basis for that move.  I still wonder, though, how he manages to share a home and a dinner table with his wife, one of Trump’s biggest bootlickers.

After Trump’s impeachment on Wednesday, then Nancy Pelosi’s announcement that she will not send the Articles of Impeachment over to the Senate just yet, until she sees some signs that the Senate is prepared to hold a fair and impartial trial, Trump is fuming and stewing.  Oh wait … Trump is always fuming and stewing about one thing or another, isn’t he?

So what do you call a person who holds the most powerful office in the nation, stewing over his inability to influence a coequal branch of government that just accused him of high crimes and misdemeanors? George Conway has an idea …ImpotusWorks for me!  He’s always giving others nicknames, maybe it’s his turn to acquire one!  I can’t wait to hear if he likes it!


The “Space” is in his head!

Little boys and their toys … sigh.  Only problem is, this “little boy” is a 73-year-old juvenile delinquent who is using OUR tax dollars … some $4.7 billion in start up costs alone … to fund his stupid games!  Think about that one … do you know how many children could eat for a full year for $4.7 billion???  Approximately 3 million children could be fed for a full year … and he is spending it playing space games instead?  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Stupidest damn president this country has ever had!  I wonder which of his wealthy donors will benefit from this one?

With his signing of the defense spending bill on Friday, Trump created a sixth and completely unnecessary branch of the U.S. military called “Space Force”, joining the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy, and Marines.  Senior military officials have previously raised concerns about what it will cost, and former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned against rushing into creating the force without clearly defined goals, but when does Trump listen to anybody?

According to the oaf in the Oval …

“Space, going to be a lot of things happening in space.  Space is the world’s newest war-fighting domain. Amid grave threats to our national security, American superiority in space is absolutely vital. And we’re leading, but we’re not leading by enough. But very shortly we’ll be leading by a lot.”

What “grave threats”???  The biggest threat to the security of this nation is Donald Trump himself!  War-fighting domain”???  What the hell does that even mean?  I tell you, the only space we need to be concerned about is the one between Donald Trump’s ears!


And now that I’ve managed to raise my own blood pressure, if not yours, I end with a bit of dark humour about the potential impeachment trial in the Senate …

impeach-1impeach-2impeach-3impeach-4impeach-5

Pelosi Rules

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives … some love her, some hate her, but love or hate her, she knows her job and does it like a pro! Our friend Jeff has summarized her most recent accomplishment … impeaching the most corrupt president in history! Thank you, Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

And Trump can’t stand it

A few weeks ago, I wrote about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s all-in decision to bring articles of impeachment against President Trump. She spoke loud and clear then, and she spoke loud and clear last night as the House of Representatives approved two articles of impeachment against the president. Speaker Pelosi is, without a doubt, the most powerful woman in the United States of America. And it drives Donald Trump crazy.

The way she’s handled the whole process, from beginning to end, should be a lesson for all future Speakers. In my lifetime, I don’t know that there’s ever been a Speaker with her skills. Some describe her as being like a conductor of a symphony. Considering the whole process took less than three months, the speed and precision of her rule certainly deserves high praise for such a virtuoso performance.

But it’s not just the…

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Human Rights Day …

Today is Human Rights Day, marking the 71st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.  First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt played a key role as chairperson of the drafting committee of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and I initially considered using her speech before the United Nations as the basis for this post.  However, the speech is long … over 4,000 words … and I decided instead to listen to some of the voices from the past, including Eleanor Roosevelt, speaking of human rights.


11B-Mahatma-Ghandi

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it—always.” – Mahatma Ghandi


Eleanor-Roosevelt

“Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.” – Eleanor Roosevelt


nelson-mandela

“I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” – Nelson Mandela


Martin-Luther-King

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – Martin Luther King


desmond-tutu

“I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of rights.” – Desmond Tutu


cesar-chavez

“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.” – Cesar Chavez


These are but a few of the thousands of people who have worked tirelessly to bring about equality and fairness for everyone, not just for a select few.  Let us hope that today and into the future, there are many more like them.

A New Batch Of Snarky Snippets … Grrrrr

There are a number of relatively minor things that have cropped up in the last couple of days with seemingly the sole purpose of stirring my ire.  So … you know what that means … it must be time for some snarky snippets, yes?


Let’s start with Nikki Haley, former governor of South Carolina, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and some speculate next vice-presidential running mate for Trump in 2020.  As governor, I had a great deal of respect for Ms. Haley.  As ambassador, I had less, for she fell in line with Trump’s ideology, if he can be said to actually have one.  She became one of his sycophants, and I lost much of my respect for her.Nikki-Haley.jpgSo, why is she raising my hackles today?  Well … last Friday she was being interviewed in a podcast on conservative Glenn Beck’s radio program.  One segment of the podcast was about Dylan Roof who, in June 2015, opened fire in an African-American church, killing nine people.  Roof was an avowed white supremacist who had posted pictures of himself posing with the Confederate flag prior to his attack.

dylan-roof-confederate-flagMs. Haley said …

“Here is this guy who comes out with his manifesto, holding the Confederate flag and had just hijacked everything that people thought of. We don’t have hateful people in South Carolina. There’s always the small minority who are always going to be there, but people saw it as service, sacrifice and heritage. But once he did that, there was no way to overcome it.”

Let’s call a spade a bloody shovel here.  The Confederate flag never stood for “service, sacrifice and heritage”.  It has always stood for a lifestyle that included slavery, the ownership of other human beings simply because of the colour of their skin.  Period.

Ms. Haley’s argument was that the Confederate flag was noble until Dylan Roof made it appear to represent white supremacy.  IT DOES represent white supremacy, fool!  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Michael Steele, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, shot back on Twitter …

“Really, Nikki?! The Confederate Flag represented ‘service, sacrifice and heritage’? To whom? The black people who were terrorized & lynched in its name? You said it should never have been there. Roof didn’t hijack the meaning of that flag, he inherited it.”

Racism, folks … it’s alive and well in the United States of America.


Seema Verma has flown beneath my radar since she was appointed by Trump, then confirmed by the Senate in March 2017 to the position of Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  This is the agency that oversees Medicare, Medicaid, and the insurance markets.Seema-verdaNow, Ms. Verma came into the job with some conflicts of interest, and had the Senate done its job, she likely would not have passed muster.  She is the founder and previous CEO of SVC Inc., a health policy consulting firm, which was acquired by Health Management Associates (HMA) just prior to Verma’s nomination to head CMS.

One of her first actions was to send a letter to the nation’s governors urging them to impose insurance premiums for Medicaid, charge Medicaid recipients for emergency room visits, and encourage recipients to get jobs or job training.  In her role as CMS administrator, Verma spent more than $2 million of taxpayer funds on Republican-connected communications consultants and other expenses to boost her visibility and public image.  She has made numerous speeches and attacks against the concept of Medicare-for-All … enough so that she is now the defendant in a lawsuit claiming she is in violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal officials engaging in political activity.

But what placed her on my radar was a trip she took back in August.  She claims that jewelry, clothing and other possessions, including a $5,900 Ivanka Trump-brand pendant (that she owned one speaks volumes about her character, in my book) were stolen from her luggage during that business-related trip.  Okay, fine … if that were me or you, we would file a claim against the airline and maybe, if we were lucky, get reimbursed for some small portion of it.

But, Ms. Verma decided that We the Taxpayers ought to reimburse her for what she claims was the value of her ‘loss’.  To the tune of $47,000!!!  More than most of us make in a bloomin’ year!  And what sort of a numptie (been listening to my Brit friends too long) takes things of that value on a business trip anyway?  And why is it my fault or yours?  And why should we pay for her ignorance???  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Her claim included $43,065 for about two dozen pieces of jewelry, based off an appraisal she’d received from a jeweler about three weeks after the theft.  Who takes 24 pieces of jewelry on a business trip, then fails to insure them?  And the claim further included $2,000 to cover the cost of her stolen clothes, a $325 claim for moisturizer and a $349 claim for noise-cancelling headphones.  My entire wardrobe does not consist of $2,000 worth of clothing.  My moisturizer costs $4.99, and my headphones are Skullcandy, $29.99 at Best Buy!  Just one more alligator in the huge swamp that Trump built.

Not to worry, though, for the federal health department that oversees her agency decided to reimburse her for only $2,852.40 of OUR money.


owen-shroyerOwen Shroyer … ever heard of him before?  Neither had I.  He’s a host on Alex Jones’ Infowars program, which I thought had long since met its timely demise since being banned from Apple, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.  Apparently, they still exist somewhere on the fringes.

It would seem that there is no screening process for entrance to the impeachment proceedings, for Mr. Shroyer managed to get in yesterday.  Moments after Representative Jerry Nadler, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, opened the hearing, Shroyer rose from his seat in the packed hearing room and shouted …

“Jerry Nadler and the Democrat Party are committing treason against this country! Trump is innocent!”

owen-shroyer-2Police quickly removed him from the room, during which time he was livestreaming to his personal Twitter account and yelling at the top of his lungs …

“So I’m being arrested right now for disrupting Congress. I’m a criminal for my First Amendment rights.”

Is there any doubt in anybody’s mind that Alex Jones was behind this, that it was naught more than a publicity stunt?  At what cost?

Oh, and by the way, Mr. Shroyer actually called for President Barack Obama to be lynched just this past June …

“Barack Obama is a treasonous…he belongs in jail. He belongs in Guantanamo Bay. I mean look, I’m not saying this should happen but Barack Obama, you know, find the tallest tree and a rope.”

All my life I have been a proponent for 1st Amendment rights to free speech, but in the past year, maybe two, I have begun to re-think it.  It has been abused so much, by so many unsavouries such as Mr. Shroyer, Mr. Jones, Mr. Carlson and a few thousand others, that I’m coming to believe there must be limits.  As our friend Roger said to me the other evening, “Free speech is not a right; it is something which has to be earned.” I’m not so sure the people of this nation have earned it. Rather a damn shame for the rest of us who use our rights responsibly, don’t you think?


I had one more, but … I shall stop here and give you a chance to breathe.  Make America great again, says Mr. Trump?  I think not … I think he has placed the United States in the worst light it has been in in all of its 232 years.

Snarky Snippets — Bah Humbug!

They say that ignorance is bliss.  If that is true, there must be a heck of a lot of really blissful people in this nation!


The height of ignorance?

Who in their right mind thought it was a good idea to manufacture, let alone sell, Auschwitz-themed Christmas ornaments???  Has the Era of Trump, or the populist movement really made people so cruel, crude, classless, tasteless, and effing ignorant?

From an article in The Washington Post

Amazon has halted the sale of Auschwitz-themed products such as Christmas decorations, a mouse pad and a bottle opener, following an outpouring of disgust on social media led by Poland’s official memorial museum.

The items featured images from Auschwitz, a former Nazi concentration camp where an estimated 1.1 million men, women and children died during World War II. An Auschwitz-themed star holiday decoration was described as a “high quality snowflake,” with the seller, going by the name of Fcheng, describing the bottle opener as a “memorable gift, perfect for every festival.”

In 2018, a report from two watchdog groups found that Amazon was continuing to profit from the sale of white-supremacist propaganda such as books, swastika jewelry and baby onesies featuring an image of a burning cross — despite the company’s policy against selling products that promote hatred.

More than a few times I have noted that the 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech is often too broadly interpreted, and that every ‘right’ comes with a corresponding responsibility.  Amazon shirked their responsibility in allowing these hate-themed items to be advertised and sold.  But, perhaps the bigger problem is the fact that there is actually a demand for such items, that people will actually buy this crap.


What the heck are they thinking???

Every now and then, it happens that a fetus will implant in a woman’s fallopian tube rather than the uterus.  Left untreated, this would ultimately result in the death of the mother, not to mention the fetus.  This is called an ectopic pregnancy, and the only viable treatment is to surgically remove the fetus from the fallopian tube.

The state legislature in Ohio, however, has decided that they know more than all the gynecologists in the world, and there is a bill before the legislature, HB413, that would require doctors to “reimplant an ectopic pregnancy” into a woman’s uterus, or be charged with ‘abortion murder’.

Lots of problems with this bill, but the main one is that reimplanting an ectopic pregnancy is medically impossible!  The procedure does not exist!  It cannot be done!  Are the lawmakers in this state really that effing stupid???

It is bad enough that Ohio and other states have passed some of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the country … the world, for that matter.  Women’s rights?  HAH!  The bozos are spoon-fed by the evangelicals who have an unreasonable desire to ensure that women are given only the rights men see fit to give them.  But now, they are almost ensuring that every gynecologist in the state will be in prison for murder and women who need a doctor will have to go to another state to find one!  Might be a better idea just to sterilize all male babies at birth … there, problem solved!

Sorry … I got a little carried away there, but this is about the stupidest one thing I have seen come out of the state legislature, ever.

Under the bill, physicians who perform abortions would face 15 years to life in prison, and removing an ectopic pregnancy is considered an abortion in this bill.  The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists argues that pro-life physicians should end such ectopic pregnancies as “There is no chance for survival of the child, either inside or outside the womb, but there is a very real, imminent danger of death or disability for the mother.”

But, some people are apparently so appalled by the concept of ‘abortion’ that they would see the mother die in an attempt to save a fetus.  Too bad those same people aren’t equally appalled by children separated from their parents and thrown in cages.  Too damn bad they aren’t equally appalled by children going to bed hungry at night or living on the streets.

Needless to say, doctors aren’t too happy with the bill …ohio-doctor-tweetCommon sense says that the bill is for show only and cannot possibly pass the legislature and be signed into law by the governor, right?  Right?


Okay … I’m going to go do some housecleaning to work off some of this angst & ire.  Have a nice evening, folks!

A Class Act — Ilhan Omar

It has nothing to do with how much money a person has, nor does it relate to a person’s position in society.  You cannot purchase it … you either have it, or you don’t.  Barack and Michelle Obama both have it in spades.  Donald and Melania Trump do not.  What is it, you ask?  It is a thing called ‘class’.

U.S. House Representative Ilhan Omar has this thing called class. ilhan-omarMs. Omar has been the target of some of the most vicious racist and Islamophobic threats and verbal attacks imaginable.  Why?  Because she is a Muslim, because the ‘man’ who is masquerading as president of this nation has instilled a fear of ‘other’ into some 40% of our population and has, in fact, launched a personal attack against Ms. Ilhan.

And yet through it all, she has retained her grace and dignity.

Back in March, Patrick W. Carlineo Jr. of Addison, New York, called Ms. Ilhan’s D.C. office and spoke to a staff member …

“Do you work for the Muslim Brotherhood? Why are you working for her, she’s a [expletive] terrorist. Somebody ought to put a bullet in her skull. I’ll put a bullet in her [expletive] skull.”

patrick-carlineoOn Monday, November 18th, Mr. Carlineo pleaded guilty to threatening to assault and murder the freshman congresswoman and for being a felon in possession of firearms.  He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Carlineo hates Muslims and even went so far as to tell the FBI when they began their investigation into him, “if our forefathers were still alive, they’d put a bullet in her head”.

Ms. Ilhan, whose life he threatened, however asks for compassion for the man …

“We must apply a system of compassion to criminal justice. Who are we as a nation if we respond to threats of political retribution with retribution ourselves?”

This, folks, is class.  It is compassion.  It is human decency.

Although she had just turned 19 when, on 11 September 2001, 19 Middle-Eastern terrorists flew planes into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania, some have sought to place the blame, by extension, on her shoulders.  Trump himself re-tweeted an obnoxious tweet several months ago that falsely claimed she was seen partying in the aftermath of 9/11.  And, in the West Virginia State Capitol, a poster was at a table in the Capitol’s rotunda …ilhan-omar-911The poster led to a brawl outside the House of Delegates that eventually spilled into the chamber, where at least one person was injured.  The body’s sergeant at arms submitted a letter of resignation at the end of the day after being accused of a making an anti-Muslim slur during the dispute.

And then in August, Ms. Omar received an anonymous death threat …ilhan-omar-death-threatThis was shortly after Trump said that Ms. Omar and three other Congresswomen of colour should “go back to the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came”, and then-Senate candidate from Alabama, Roy Moore, echoed Trump, saying “… Trump was right, she should go back to Somalia from whence she came”.  When such ugly talk comes from our politicians, especially the faux president, is it really any wonder she receives death threats?

And that brings us to this week, when her republican challenger in next year’s election, Daniella Stella, got herself and her campaign banned from Twitter for her hateful tweets.  On Tuesday, she posted …

“If it is proven @IlhanMN passed sensitive info to Iran, she should be tried for #treason and hanged.”

And she followed up with an image of a stick-figure being hanged.  Her reference to Ms. Omar passing “sensitive info to Iran” stems from a conspiracy theory started by Canadian businessman Alan Bender who has links to the Saudi government, and he implicates everyone from Jared Kushner to Ty Cobb to Ms. Omar.  The story has been proven false, yet apparently Ms. Stella failed to get that memo.

Danielle-StellaThis is not the first time that Daniella Stella has come onto my radar.  Back in July, I wrote a snippet about her having been arrested twice for shoplifting, and once for trying to outrun the police when they stopped her for driving drunk!  She is also a supporter of the conspiracy group QAnon, if that tells you anything.  I don’t think Ilhan Omar needs to worry overly much about keeping her seat next year, if Ms. Stella is the best the Republican Party of Minnesota has to offer!

I began this post talking about class.  What is class, exactly?  It can be a lot of things – being kind and compassionate, being calm in the face of adversity, walking away from a fight.  Class is one of those things that … you know it when you see it.  Class is definitely not defined by racism or any other form of bigotry.  It is not defined by cruelty.  Those who would attack Ms. Ilhan Omar simply because of her ethnicity, her religion, or the fact that she is a woman, are the ones who have no class.  Ms. Ilhan Omar has more of it in her little finger than Donald Trump, Roy Moore, Daniella Stella, and Patrick Carlineo combined.

Note to readers:  Saturday Surprise will return next week … probably.