Send In The Adults … PLEASE!!!

PLEASE, people, let us put some adults in charge of this sinking ship!!!  In a nutshell, if you combine all the statements about Syria and condense them into a single statement, it reads something like this:

We are going to withdraw all U.S. forces from Syria by the end of last year, but it may not happen for several years.

Scratching your head over that one, aren’t you?  See, what happens here is that Donald Trump gets up one morning all in a fizz and while he’s sitting on the potty wondering what to tweet next, an idea comes to him.  So, without consulting any of the two people on his staff who have brains, he tweets that he will be pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria.  Then, as an afterthought, he tweets that this will happen by the end of December.Bolton-Mattis-Pompeo.jpgImagine the look of utter incredulity on the faces of James Mattis, John Bolton and Mike Pompeo on seeing that tweet as they sit at their breakfast tables!  We know Mattis’ take on it, for it gave him the reason he had probably been looking for to tender his resignation and get off the Trumptanic before it meets the iceberg.  Bolton likely turned red in the face and nearly had apoplexy, moustaches twitching while his eyebrows went up and down.  And Pompeo probably just popped yet another donut into his mouth.bolton-near-tearsApparently, despite his bluster and his reputation as a warmonger, even Bolton has a problem with Trump’s decision, bred of ignorance, but he could hardly ignore his boss man, so he found a compromise this week … pull out the equipment and leave the troops!  Brilliant … that way he can honestly say we are in the process of pulling out, yet not risk the lives of all Kurds and other innocent people in the area by leaving them unassisted with the threat of Turks attacking.moving equipment-Syria.jpgOnly thing is … without equipment, without jeeps, tanks and the like … of what use are the soldiers?  And how safe are they?  Oh this was such a well-thought-out, brilliant move!  CHAOS!  ICEBERG AHEAD!!!titanic-2Interestingly, despite some equipment being moved out of Syria, the Department of Defense says that the number of U.S. troops in Syria may “increase slightly”.  Trump, apparently after talking to Bolton, changed his ’30-day’ time frame to four months, but even that seems highly unachievable … and undesirable from a foreign policy point of view.  I doubt that Bolton has had the nerve yet to tell him that he may increase the number of troops and that they may yet be there for years.

There are valid reasons for the U.S. to remain in Syria.  One, daesh (aka ISIS) has not, as Trump said it had, been eradicated and if U.S. forces leave the area, are likely to regroup and increase their numbers.  Two, Turkish President Erdoğan has already said that it is his intent to murder every Kurd in Syria, and without the protection of the U.S. troops, that is almost a certainty.

Trump is almost certain to have to eat some crow on this one … could that be part of the reason he’s digging his heels on the border wall?  His ego cannot seem to take two major defeats in such a short time frame, and his buddy Sean Hannity will definitely not be pleased with him if he caves on the border wall.

Let’s talk about that border wall for a minute.  I found it heartbreaking yesterday to read that some of the federal workers who have been without pay for nearly a month now are selling household goods on Ebay to try to scrape together enough to pay the rent and keep the electricity on … it is winter, y’know.

Limo.jpgMeanwhile, Trump rides around in his ostentatious $1.5 million limo (we paid for that, too), takes Air Force One to Texas for a wasted trip that accomplished nothing at a cost of $200,000 per hour!  And he obviously has not so much as missed a meal.  He claims democrats are to blame for his ignominious shutdown for not being willing to negotiate, but in truth it is he who is not willing to negotiate.  He has set a number he wants immediately for his wall at $5.7 billion, and that is the only outcome he will accept.  He isn’t willing to settle for a portion of that amount … it’s all or nothing at all.  So really, there is only one person to blame, and that person is definitely not a democrat! He will bankrupt this nation within the next six months at the current rate he is spending our money.

The victims of the chaos that reigns in this administration are each and every one of us.  It only begins with those 800,000+ workers who are in danger of losing their homes, cars and even lives, but in the near future the pain will trickle down to us all.  This is the most irresponsible presidency in the history of this nation, bar none.  It’s time we put some adults in charge, for we damn sure don’t have any today!

A Slap In The Face!

This morning, Trump sent a letter to all members of both chambers of Congress.  The letter is long-winded and not particularly interesting, filled with his typical bluster and lies, but you can read it  if you wish.  There is one part, however, that stuck out like a sore thumb:

“Absolutely critical to border security and national security is a wall or a physical barrier that prevents entry in the first place.  Members of both parties—including then Senators Obama and Clinton, current Senator Schumer, and many other members of the House and Senate—all voted for a hard, physical barrier.  Walls work.  That’s why rich, powerful, and successful people build them around their homes.  All Americans deserve the same protection.  In Israel, it is 99 percent effective.”

I live in a relatively poor neighborhood that is bordered by a very wealthy neighborhood … it is, in fact, where former Speaker of the House John Boehner lives.  Until a few years ago, we were able to drive through that neighborhood, called only “Wetherington”, and I had frequently done so, as it connects our area of town to the area where most shopping and dining venues are located. I never once saw a wall surrounding a single house.  Most do not even have fences.  The community eventually put up a gate at the entrances to the area, for the residents complained about the noise we commoners made driving through their community, but there are no walls.

I have, when I was younger, traveled through many areas in this nation from Boston to Los Angeles and points in between, and I have never seen a house surrounded by a wall.  It is not the “rich, powerful, and successful” people who would build walls around their homes, it is the paranoid fools who would do so.  This is another of Trump’s many thousand lies, but it is offensive as hell to We The People! It is a slap in the face by the very ‘man’ whose salary we work hard to pay. It suggests that if you are not “rich, powerful, and successful”, then you are of little or no value.

Who would want to live in a house surrounded by a wall?  I would not.  I would feel horribly isolated from the world, and that is exactly what Donald Trump is trying to do to the United States – isolate us completely from the rest of the world.  Why?  The U.S. and its people are no better than any others.  People from other nations bring wealth to our culture … they bring us new foods, fashion, dance, music, art, and the list goes on.  They add value to our nation, to our lives.

There are many things that can be done to enhance the security of our borders, however … most crime, most murders in this nation are not committed by immigrants, legal or illegal.  Most murders in this nation are committed by people who were born and raised right here in the United States.  And most are committed with guns.  Donald Trump and his cast of characters are not … I repeat are NOT … concerned in the least bit with the safety of the people living in the U.S., for if they were, they would forget about the damn wall and turn their attention to gun regulation that would truly make this nation a safer place to live.

The fact that Trump is willingly making this country less safe by keeping parts of the government shut down unless he gets his way with the wall tells the story in its entirety.  He is on a huge ego trip and will stop at nothing to have his way.  I urge both the Senate and the House of Representatives to pass a spending bill that is veto-proof, one that will be supported by at least a 2/3 majority in both houses of Congress, so that we can resume the business of government despite Trump’s best efforts to destroy the nation.

As I was writing this, came the news that Trump said he is willing to keep the government shut down for months, or even years unless he gets the initial funding for his wall.  And … to add insult to injury, while 800,000 federal workers are not being paid, Mike Pence and ‘hundreds of senior political appointees’ will receive a $10,000 pay raise tomorrow!  Yet another slap in the face!

I close by asking that we all consider the poem written by Emma Lazarus that is on a plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty:

lady liberty criesNot like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Note to readers:  Since this was published, it was reported that Trump is also considering declaring a state of national emergency.  The beginning?  Or the end?

The Radar is Crowded Tonight!

Puff-magic-dragonIf you could see my radar screen tonight … blips all over the place!  Oh yeah, 2019 is going to be the year that finally drives Filosofa to lose her marbles and do something crazy like streaking nude through Grand Central Station screaming, “Run for your lives – Puff the Magic Dragon is attacking!!!” Long story short, this morning’s hodgepodge are not snarky snippets, but out-and-out rants … mini-rants, but rants nonetheless.  Hold your ears …


Trump’s history lesson:

Yesterday, Trump called a cabinet meeting, apparently for no reason other than to brag about the things he says he has accomplished but hasn’t, to blame everyone but himself for everything that is wrong, and to give us a new view of world history.

“Russia used to be the Soviet Union. Afghanistan made it Russia because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan. So you take a look at other countries—Pakistan is there. They should be fighting. But Russia should be fighting. The reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there. The problem is it was a tough fight.”   Anybody want to buy him a copy of World History for Dummies or The Idiots Guide to World History?

While it is true that the former Soviet Union was financially drained by its 10-year campaign in Afghanistan, and collapsed only two years later, there were many other long-term factors in the USSR’s demise. In addition, the Soviets didn’t invade Afghanistan because “terrorists were going into Russia,” as Trump said, but because they wanted to shore up their pro-communist puppet government there.  And by the way, Donnie … Pakistan is supporting the Taliban, not fighting them.

A few other preposterous statements he made at the meeting …

“I shouldn’t be popular in Europe. I want Europe to pay. I don’t care about Europe.” This one was apropos of nothing, other than to criticize Germany, repeating for at least the millionth time that they are not contributing what he, Trump, considers proper to their own defense.  There are reasons for this, but they require an explanation of the history of Germany, and … well, let’s just not go into history with Trump anymore, okay?

Trump now claims, falsely, that he fired General James Mattis.  Not even a shred of truth to this … Mattis resigned in response to Trump’s utterly asinine plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan without even consulting his military advisors or our allies.  Period.  Trump did not fire him.

And he has new justification for his abominable wall … that the Vatican “has the biggest wall of them all”. 

The meeting lasted 95 minutes, after which all cabinet members likely headed to the nearest bar.

drunk


Another child is dead …Jazmine BarnesThe little girl in the picture above is Jazmine Barnes.  Correction … was Jazmine Barnes.  Jazmine was 7-years-old when she was murdered while riding in a car with her three sisters and her mother, LaPorsha Washington, in Houston, Texas.  The gunman has not yet been caught, even though the police know the vehicle he was driving.  Ms. Washington was also hit, albeit not fatally. Two things about this infuriate me.  First, that it happened.  Even though the majority of people in this nation are in favour of realistic and sensible gun regulation, thanks to the National Rifle Association (NRA) and corrupt politicians, we have almost none.  And so, little Jazmine Barnes is dead, and her mom, dad, and sisters are bereft.

Porshia Washington

LaPorsha Washington

The second thing that inflames me about this is that I only found this news on the BBC, three days after the fact!  The BBC!  British Broadcasting Corporation!  Where was The Washington Post?  Where was the New York Times? I had to cross the pond to find out that a child was shot to death in my own country! This should have been front-page news, but if it was even reported, it was tucked far behind all the Trump-related headlines.  I did find the news on a Houston news outlet, Heavy.com, and The Root.  Two days after the shooting, CNN finally reported on it.  C’mon, media!  Trump is not the only show in town!


What am I, chopped liver???

“Do the Dems realize that most of the people not getting paid are Democrats?”

This was a Trump tweet last Thursday morning.  Two days prior, he had told reporters that the furloughed federal workers were fully in support of Trump holding the nation hostage as he holds out for his abominable wall.  In just two days, the workers went from being on his side, patting him on the back, to being “just democrats” in his rhetoric.  Does this ‘man’ ever take time out to think???

The president, senators, representatives, governors, et al, are elected officials who are chosen by the voters to represent all citizens of the United States.  Their job is not only to represent the specific party with which they are affiliated.  Their job is not to represent only the people they like, or the people who approve of them or agree with them.  They are to represent We The People … ALL of ‘We’!  In addition to the aforementioned books, we should also send him a copy of U.S. Constitution For Dummies!

As a member of We The People, I am calling for the immediate resignation or impeachment and removal from office of the ‘man’ occupying the Oval Office, for he is not representing all of us, but only the minority.  He is endangering the lives of the people he is tasked with protecting and he must be removed NOW!  Hear that, Mitchell McConnell?  Hear that, Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows and the rest of you in the House “Freedom” Caucus?  Get. Him. Out.


Okay, well … I had one more rant, but I got so worked up over these three that I have forgotten the other.  Consider yourself lucky, I suppose.  Yep, folks, welcome to 2019.  Have a lovely day!Maxine-2019.jpg

Another WTF Moment …

Now wait just a doggone minute here!  Donald Trump willfully, irresponsibly, and recklessly shuts down the government, affecting close to one million federal workers, emasculating the food stamp program, demands that the case against him for emoluments violations cannot proceed, as his lawyers are not allowed to work during the shutdown, but he can take Air Force One and make an unplanned trip to Iraq for no better reason than a photo op???

Would you all like to know that it costs between $180,000 and $200,000 per flight hour to operate Air Force One?  PER. FLIGHT. HOUR.  The trip to Iraq would have taken somewhere between 13- 15 hours.  Do the math.  No wait, I’ll even do it for you.  Round trip, the cost of Air Force One alone for this photo op on which Trump also took his ‘wife’, was between $4,680,000 and $6,000,000.  Let me repeat … it cost between $4.7 million and $6 million of our taxpayer dollars in travel alone, not counting security, meals, lodging, etc. for Donnie & Melania to go have their picture taken with soldiers in Iraq! How many of you have ever even seen one measly million dollars in your lifetime?  Not me, that’s for sure! If you aren’t furious over this, then roll over and go back to sleep.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch …

  • Only about 5% of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food & Nutrition Services’ employees are at work. This is the department that administers food assistance programs to low-income families and individuals.

  • More than 800,000 federal employees (more than one-third of the total) are impacted, either being laid off or working without pay. Many are like the rest of us and live from one payday to the next, contrary to what Scott Perry, a congressman from Pennsylvania said: “Who’s living that they’re not going to make it to the next paycheck?”  Nice, Mr. Perry, real nice.  Such empathy.


  • Most of those who are expected to work without pay during the shutdown will be given backpay once the government is once again ‘open for business’. However, non-citizens who are employed by U.S. embassies overseas may well not be eligible for back pay!


  • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is closed, but don’t worry … your income taxes will still be withheld from your paycheck! Gotta keep paying for Donnie’s travel on Air Force One now, don’t we?

Trump has claimed that the federal workers are supportive of the shutdown, saying he’s heard from federal workers who want him to “stay out until you get the funding for the wall.”  Predictably, it’s another of his multitude of blatant lies, and federal workers were none too happy hearing him tell it …

“I am a federal worker who is working without pay. And yes, we live paycheck to paycheck. Who will pay my mortgage January 1st? You?”

“My husband is a federal worker, we need our paycheck next week to pay our mortgage.”fuck wall

Now, Trump claims that he will keep the government shut down until such time as the $5 billion initial funding for his wall is approved by Congress.  Well, first of all, as I have discussed before, $5 billion is only the first part, and the wall has the likely potential to end up costing around $70 billion.  And frankly one billion would be too much.  No, Donnie, I ain’t giving you a damn dime toward your wall!  Congress is highly unlikely to give in to Trump’s bullying tactics to get his white elephant … thankfully.

Any president who would keep the government shut down ‘indefinitely’ for his own ego is no president, for he is failing to even consider the people he was hired to represent.  Other nations agree …

“Canadians like to think their system of governance is better than the American one. If they want more evidence, they need only look at what’s happening now — a government shutdown in Washington — and be thankful their system doesn’t allow the same shenanigans.”

I can think of a couple of solutions here.  First, what if all the White House crew, such as chefs & cooks, housekeepers, laundry staff, maintenance staff, groundskeepers were to be furloughed during the shutdown?  Now, include Trump’s chauffeur and limo, and furlough the cast & crew of Air Force One and the helicopters Trump frequently flits about in.  Think he might have second thoughts now?

And the best solution of all, though I’m sure nobody would have the guts to participate, is a massive nationwide worker’s strike.  Every employee in the manufacturing industries, from the auto industry to the coal industry should walk off the job the first Monday after the new year.  The only language Donald Trump understands is the one where ‘money talks’, and he is indebted to his wealthy cronies in the upper echelons of nearly every industry.  When General Motors, Procter & Gamble, Kraft Foods, Smith & Wesson, and many, many others are dead in the water for they have no workers, I give it two days until they demand Trump sign the budget bill sans wall and get on with the business of governance.

Folks, this situation is both unconscionable and untenable.  Somewhere, sometime soon, Mr. Trump is going to need to be forced to realize that he is not “making America great”, but instead is making America a) the brunt of jokes in every nation on the globe, b) less safe than we have been in more than 50 years, c) economically unstable.  He.  He alone.  He alone is responsible for the chaos in our government, for the highest turnover rates of any administration before, for the divisiveness of our nation, and for isolating us from our allies while pandering to our enemies.

One theory is that Trump knows he will never get the wall funded, and as such is using it as a point to get the shutdown for another reason … to keep his own posterior out of legal trouble (see Xena’s post for more information).  This theory may well have merit, and if so, Trump’s shutdown is even more unconscionable.  At this point, I think we seriously need to wake up the GOP senators and make it clear that We The People are against this shutdown and against the damn wall.  So, stretch your fingers and start writing again, folks … please … for our future, our lives as well as lives around the globe depend on stopping this runaway train!

And one last thing … would somebody stop him from all this wasteful travel that serves no purpose?  Federal employees aren’t getting paid and he’s wasting $6 million for a photo op???

CHAOS!!!

He is … he isn’t … he will … he won’t.  Our federal government is in full-chaos mode and for the most part, the blame can be laid squarely at the feet of the so-called president, who is playing childish games, and those who put him in office.

“I am proud to shut down the government for border security. I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it.” – Donald Trump in meeting with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, 11 December

Then only two days later, he appeared to signal he was on board with backing down, writing in a series of Twitter posts that he would continue to press Democrats for wall funding next year and also claiming that he had taken other steps to make the border “tight.”

And now, one week later …

“At this moment, the President does not want to go further without border security, which includes steel slats or a wall. The President is continuing to weigh his options.” – Sarah Huckabee Sanders, 20 December

And now, to add insult to injury … as if Trump isn’t already creating enough turmoil … enter Mark Meadows and his mis-named “Freedom Caucus”.

Meadows appeared on Fox News on Thursday morning, warning that a continuing resolution without border wall funding was not a “punt” but a “fumble,” and complaining that Trump’s mind must have been poisoned by “bad advice.” Meadows urged Trump to veto the spending bill, should it reach his desk, and to shut down much of the government days before the Christmas and New Year’s Day holidays.  How very mature, yes?

Then Trump tweets …

“The Democrats, who know Steel Slats (Wall) are necessary for Border Security, are putting politics over Country. What they are just beginning to realize is that I will not sign any of their legislation, including infrastructure, unless it has perfect Border Security. U.S.A. WINS!”

Does anybody in this administration have a maturity level beyond 3rd grade?  This isn’t a government – it’s a zoo!!!

The fact is that the wall is not a pragmatic solution to illegal immigration.  It will be costly, likely somewhere near $70 billion, and experts who have studied the situation have plainly said it will achieve little.  Border states stand to lose billions of dollars in tourism.  There is the potential for significant damage to wildlife and the environment. And frankly, there are much better uses that money could be put to … silly little things like feeding the poor, improving our foundering education system, affordable healthcare, renewable energy development, updating our infrastructure, and the list goes on.

baby-trump-temperCongress cannot cave in to Donald Trump’s virulent temper tantrum, for just as with a child, he would then know the way to get what he wants is to throw a 2-year-old fit.  In fact, I’ve known 2-year-olds with more maturity than Trump.

Last January, during another of Trump’s back-and-forth position-shifting episodes, Chuck Schumer said that negotiating with Trump was like “Negotiating with Jello”.  Seems an appropriate comparison, for Jello has just about as much substance and intellect as Donald Trump, and it’s jiggly.

This type of petulance in a world leader is simply unacceptable.  It is counter-productive and extremely dangerous.  If Donald Trump’s goal is to thoroughly destroy the government of the United States, he is doing a damned good job of it.  If ever, in the history of this nation, there was a cause to remove a leader from office, this is it.  His announcement that he is, against all advice, pulling out of Syria is dangerous and potentially catastrophic, but he woke one morning and just decided that it was what he wanted to do to please his buddy Putin.  Some will applaud the move … most will not, and I will have more on that in another post. Trump-chaosBut the evidence is clear that we cannot afford another two years of this madman in the White House.  Impeachment?  Amendment 25?  Neither seem feasible at the moment because of the sycophants in both the Senate and the cabinet.  I don’t know the solution, but I know that these past weeks, ever since the mid-term elections, have proven what an inept and dangerous situation we have with Trump in the White House.  Republicans in Congress and in the cabinet need to be finding their consciences and putting this nation ahead of their own gluttony.  Those 40% of voters who still support Trump might want to take their blinders off, turn off state-run Fox News, and do a bit of research, enlighten themselves, before they get us all killed.

Make America great again?  What he has done is the exact opposite.  He is destroying the country with every breath he takes.  Would that he would simply stop taking them.

ACA Is NOT Unconstitutional!!!

I would really like to know just how much Donald Trump paid to U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor of Texas.  Or perhaps it wasn’t money, but the promise of a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.  Whatever the enticement, Judge Reed O’Connor has just thrown the citizens of the United States under the proverbial bus.  What, you ask, did he do?  Last night, Judge O’Connor ruled that ACA in its totality is unconstitutional.  Not just part of ACA … the entire bloomin’ Affordable Care Act!Judge O'ConnorJudge O’Connor isn’t new to controversial rulings.  Let’s take a look at just a few he’s made in the past decade …

  • Halted implementation of ACA Section 1557 that prohibited discrimination against transgender people by federally funded health programs. Why?  Because the judge felt it violated religious rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. – December 2016
  • Ruled against the Title IX law that required that schools receiving federal funding not discriminate against students on the basis of sex or gender identification – October 2016
  • Ruled that the Indian Child Welfare Act was unconstitutional. The act halted the forcible removal of as many as 25% – 30% of Native American children from their homes for no reason other than their heritage, and then being put up for adoption, placed in non-Indian homes with a deliberate absence of American Indian cultures – October 2018

So, we have here a judge in the southern state of Texas who is a proven bigot and racist, and he has decided that the entirety of ACA, the program that was intended to ensure that every man, woman and child in the U.S. would have at least basic healthcare insurance, goes against the Constitution.  And Trump’s own ‘surprised’ reaction?

“Wow, but not surprisingly, ObamaCare was just ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL by a highly respected judge in Texas. Great news for America!”

No, you fat, pimple-faced, fake-hair jerk!  It is the worst possible news for America!  Only wait … that’s right, you don’t give a damn about America, do you, for your allegiance lies elsewhere … in Russia … in Saudi Arabia.

And later …

“As I predicted all along, Obamacare has been struck down as an UNCONSTITUTIONAL disaster! Now Congress must pass a STRONG law that provides GREAT healthcare and protects pre-existing conditions.”

Yeah, sure, right … and I believe that the Easter Bunny lays chocolate eggs, too …

Judge O’Connor has been sitting on the case that prompted his ruling for several months now, but it was decided to wait until the end of the open enrollment period and, more importantly, after the mid-term elections, where health care was a major deciding factor for many voters.  Clever, aren’t these damn republicans?

The judge’s ruling will no doubt be appealed all the way up the line until finally it lands on the docket of the U.S. Supreme Court, so for the time being, nothing changes.  What happens when it reaches the Supreme Court?  Good question.  Remember how just this week, Kavanaugh sided with liberal and moderate judges in a refusal to hear a case that could have ended in defunding Planned Parenthood?  People were scratching their heads, wondering if perhaps Kavanaugh was a decent guy after all.  I said he was biding his time, picking his battles.  What do you want to bet this is one of those battles he was saving up for?

The basic difference in ideologies between democrats and republicans boils down to whether the government’s focus should be on people or industry.  Prior to ACA, health insurance was so expensive that a large portion of Americans took their chances without insurance.  ACA sought to remedy that, sought to ensure that no child would have to die because his parents could not afford to take him to the doctor.  But the republicans believed that their tax dollars should not be wasted on the lives of those of us they view as second-class citizens because we haven’t had the same opportunities for enrichment they have had.

And now a bigoted judge in Texas has decided all by himself that healthcare should only be accessible to those who earn over a certain amount of money.  ACA is not unconstitutional.  ACA is about helping people live their lives.  Nowhere in the Constitution does it state that people should not be allowed to live if they are poor.  Unlike Donald Trump, I have actually read the Constitution … many times.  We The People are sick and tired of having to fight battle after battle to be treated with a bit of respect in our own country, the country that our hard-earned tax dollars support.  We are paying a high price for the follies of the current administration and it is past time for people to realize it.

As for Judge Reed O’Connor … I’m betting that next time Trump has an opportunity to nominate a Supreme Court justice, O’Connor’s name will be on the short list.

Your Tax Dollars … Hard At Work

A blogging friend posted something yesterday that caused my jaw to literally hit the floor.  I will not share her post, for it is personal, but I will share the situation, for it is one that potentially affects all of us.  Her husband recently signed up for Social Security on the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) website.  They checked the website each day, only to see the message “Your application is in process”.  After three weeks, unable to contact the SSA through the website, they paid a visit to the nearest Social Security office. SSA-Logo-and-TaglineA young lady took them into her office almost immediately, asked one or two questions and told them it would be processed ‘now’.  My friend asked her why it wasn’t already processed, as it had been ‘in process’ for three weeks.  Now comes the jaw-dropping part, so I advise you to sit down before reading further …

“The new Administration has cut jobs and there is no one monitoring the website applications.”

My friend asked what would have happened if they hadn’t paid a visit in person, and the answer was “absolutely nothing”, as in, their application would have remained in limbo for all eternity, presumably, or at least until we get a responsible government. The young staffer at the SSA ended by saying, “I really wish someone would take charge in Washington. That idiot is gonna screw us all before too long.”

skeleton-at-computerI want you to stop and think about this one for a few minutes, folks.  The Social Security Administration, the agency tasked with collecting 7.65% of our gross wages every pay period and then seeing that we receive a certain amount each month upon our retirement or disability, has a website but nobody is monitoring it.  How many people are, right this very minute, checking the website, hoping to see that their application to receive their own money, has moved from “in process” to “approved” status?  Hundreds?  Thousands?

What other government agencies have websites where “the lights are on, but nobody’s home”?  What about the Veteran’s Administration?  HUD offices?  What the Sam Hell are we paying taxes for?  Oh yeah … so Trump can keep going to his golf games accompanied by an obscene number of Secret Service agents, wasting fuel on Air Force One, and eating more food in one day than I can put away in a month!

And hey … republicans, listen up … guess what?  This affects YOU every bit as much as it affects anybody else.  You might want to use a bit of your ‘insider’ influence to let your members of Congress know that this is totally irresponsible and unacceptable!

SSA question markThis administration has committed many atrocities, and this is only one more in the ever-growing stack of ‘WTF’ items, but it is a crucial one.  Be advised that in all likelihood, not a single one of the government’s websites are being administered in the manner they should be, and by all means, if you need something from the Social Security Administration, your best bet is to show up on their doorstep.

Just another example of “your tax dollars hard at work”.

The Curious Incident of Prez and Prince

“President Trump’s response to the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is a betrayal of long-established American values of respect for human rights and the expectation of trust and honesty in our strategic relationships. He is placing personal relationships and commercial interests above American interests in his desire to continue to do business as usual with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

The Central Intelligence Agency has thoroughly investigated the murder of this innocent journalist and concluded with high confidence that it was directed by the Crown Prince. If there is reason to doubt the findings of the CIA, President Trump should immediately make that evidence public.

President Trump is correct in saying the world is a very dangerous place. His surrender to this state-ordered murder will only make it more so. An innocent man, brutally slain, deserves better, as does the cause of truth and justice and human rights.

In this failure of leadership from President Trump, it now falls to Congress to stand up for America’s true values and lasting interests.” – Washington Post Publisher and CEO Fred Ryan’s response to President Donald Trump’s statement regarding the murder of Jamal Khashoggi

Two days ago, Trump threw the people of the United States of America under the bus.  He plainly and in no uncertain terms stated that human rights take a backseat to profit (his), and that our allies are less important than Trump’s personal enrichment.  The world is watching, waiting to see what, if anything, our Congress will do to stop the madman at the helm from allying this nation with a murderer.

There is no longer a shred of doubt, but that Mohammed bin Salman ordered the execution of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.  The CIA has verified it, and there are recordings of telephone conversations that can leave little doubt in the minds of any but the most ignorant.  So why, then, is Trump determined to support a murdering tyrant over the objections of almost all?  The simple answer is: $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

In October, Trump made a statement via Twitter, the only medium of communication he knows, saying …

“For the record, I have no financial interests in Saudi Arabia (or Russia, for that matter). Any suggestion that I have is just more FAKE NEWS (of which there is plenty)!”

He lied.  Again.

In the early 1990s, Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bought Trump’s prized yacht on the cheap from the property developer’s creditors when he was on the cusp of personal bankruptcy. A few years later, one of Trump’s lenders forced him to sell the Plaza Hotel, a New York City landmark also mired in debt, to Alwaleed.  At that time, Trump was trying to dig himself out of $3.4 billion of debt, about $900 million of which he had guaranteed personally (remember how people said he was such a good, shrewd businessman?  I think not.)  When Trump made fun of him on Twitter two years ago, Alwaleed responded by tweeting, “I bailed you out twice; a 3rd time, maybe?”  Interestingly, Alwaleed and a number of other businessmen and political rivals were placed under house arrest late last year, immediately following a visit to Saudi Arabia by none other than Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law.  Coincidence?

The Saudi Arabian government bought the entire 45th floor of the Trump World Tower in 2001.  The Trump International Hotel in Washington has been a favorite venue for Saudi diplomats who have spent lavishly there, as well as at other Trump hotels.  No financial interests???  Do we look that stupid?

And now, when there is no doubt at all that Mohammed bin Salman ordered the hit on U.S. permanent resident and Washington Post journalist Khashoggi, Trump says this …

“It could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t! We may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

“OUR” relationship … think about this, folks … he wakes up one morning and while he’s sitting on the potty (12 Big Macs in a day will do that to you) wondering who or what to tweet about today, decides that all 329 million people in the U.S. will rubber-stamp his horrendous decision to stand by a cruel dictator, a murderer.  Allow me to go on record right here and now as saying that Donald Trump does not represent me.  He does not mirror my values and he does not speak on my behalf.  I will continue to re-iterate this statement, I will send it to Trump himself on a daily basis, I will email it to every member of Congress at least once a week, but I will not … I repeat, I will NOT … stand behind such corruption, such a low-life scumbag as Donald Trump who is willing to put human life far behind his own profit.  Oh … one last thing … Mr. Trump – you owe me a plate and a bowl! Mine accidentally broke when I accidentally threw them against the wall.broken dishes.jpgSeriously, though, it is my fondest hope that everyone … Congress, We The People, our allies and other foreign leaders, and most of all, the press … will reveal Trump’s perfidy for what it is … greed, pure and simple.  Call him out!  Show the world that the U.S. is better than this!  Hold his feet to the fire and force him to put the interests of the U.S., humans, and the world, ahead of his own self-interest.  Do it now, for tomorrow may be too late.

Speaking of Sandra Parks …

Sandra ParksThe day might have come when I would have written about a young lady named Sandra Parks in one of my Wednesday ‘good people’ posts.  She was only 13-years-old, but she had already shown that her heart was good.  Two years ago, in sixth grade, young Sandra wrote an award-winning essay about gun violence and crime in her hometown of Milwaukee for the Martin Luther King, Jr. annual essay contest.  In her essay, she called for more empathy and less negativity, and emphasized the importance of getting an education to make the world a better place.

But I will not be able to see what Sandra might have done to help improve the world, and I will not be able to write about her efforts to help people, for Sandra was shot and killed on Monday as she sat in her bedroom watching television.Sandra Parks-houseThe bullet that hit Sandra in the chest was not meant for her … it was a stray bullet from gunfire on the street in front of her home.  Milwaukee Public Schools, in a statement mourning her loss, said Sandra is the 7th child attending a district school to die by homicide in 2018.  Let that one sink in for a minute … SEVEN children have died by homicide in less than eleven months in a single school district!

Tell me again, Mr. NRA member, how more guns is making us safer?  Or, perhaps you would like to explain this concept to Sandra Parks’ mother, Bernice?  Or her sister, Tatiana?

Bernice Parks

Bernice Parks (mother)

Tatiana Parks

Tatiana Parks (sister)

I saw something in passing a few days ago that posed the question: “If, as the NRA claims, more guns make us safer, shouldn’t the U.S. be the safest nation in the world with the lowest incidence of crimes?”  But instead we have this …gun violenceAnd we have yet another dead child because an angry person fired a gun on the street in front of what should have been the safest place in the world for young Sandra Parks.  Who knows what wonderful things Sandra Parks might have done with her life … if only she had been allowed to live.  What a shame … what a damn shame!  Please take a moment to read Sandra’s award-winning essay …

Our Truth

Sandra Parks-awardSometimes, I sit back and I have to escape from what I see and hear every day.  I put my headphones on and let the music take me away. I move to the beat and try to think about life and what everything means. When I do, I come to the same conclusion. . . we are in a state of chaos. In the city in which I live, I hear and see examples of chaos almost every day.  Little children are victims of senseless gun violence. There is too much black on black crime.  As an African-American, that makes me feel depressed. Many people have lost faith in America and its ability to be a living example of Dr. King’s dream!

The truth is faith and hope in what people can do, has been lost in the poor choices we make. We shall overcome has been lost in the lie of who we have become! So now, the real truth is, we need to rewrite our story so that faith and hope for a better tomorrow, is not only within us, but we believe it and we put into actions.

Our first truth is that we must start caring about each other. We need to be empathetic and try to walk in each other’s shoes. We shall overcome when we begin to understand and accept each other. We shall overcome when we eliminate the negative and nasty comments people make about each other. We shall overcome, when we love ourselves and the people around us. Then, we become our brother’s keeper.

Our second truth is that we need to have purpose. We are the future generation, therefore we must have an education to make a positive difference in the world. We are the future leaders, but if we don’t have an education, we will accomplish nothing. We will overcome, when we use our education to make the world a better place. We will become the next President, law enforcement officers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, and law makers. We cannot continue to put the responsibility on other people. It is our responsibility as future leaders!

We must not allow the lies of violence, racism, and prejudice to be our truth. The truth begins with us. Instead of passing each other like ships in the night, we must fight until our truths stretch to the ends of the world.

The Real ‘Fake News’

“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”

It’s unclear who first said this.  It has been attributed to Sun Tzu and sometimes to Niccolò Machiavelli or Petrarch, but there are no published sources yet found which predate its use by “Michael Corleone” in The Godfather Part II.  But to the point … it is why I do sometimes pop over to such uber-conservative sites as The Daily Wire, from whence came the inspiration for this post.  ‘Inspiration’ may not be quite the right word …

I was first appalled, then infuriated by the headline I saw last night …

Democrat Calls For Gun Confiscation, Suggests Nuking Americans Who Fight Back

The story put forth by The Daily Wire, Fox News, MSN and others is this …

“Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) caused a firestorm on Friday when he suggested using nuclear weapons against American citizens who oppose his far-left gun control agenda, which includes forcing Americans to give up their semi-automatic weapons.”

Now, if that were the truth, it would be quite a “WOW” moment and I would have to ask myself if Mr. Swalwell had gone and lost his bloody marbles!  Turns out there’s more to the story that the aforementioned news outlets conveniently left out … or perhaps didn’t understand.

This is yet another example of taking a sentence out of context and giving it an entirely different meaning than the speaker ever intended.  The danger is that some people will look at that headline, believe it without ever giving it a thought or checking on its veracity, and will be all in a fizz,  running inside, grabbing the old rifle, and sitting on their porches waiting for the band of merry democrats to show up to try to take their guns!

Let’s look at a few of the comments from Representative Swalwell in response to the madness:

  • We should ban assault weapons by buying them back or restricting them to ranges/clubs.
  • Don’t be so dramatic. No one is nuking anyone or threatening that. I’m telling you this is not the 18th Century. The argument that you would go to war with your government if an assault weapons ban was in place is ludicrous and inflames the gun debate. Which is what you want.
  • It’s sarcasm. He said he’s going to war with America if gun legislation was passed. I told him his government has nukes. God forbid we use sarcasm.

And finally, his nutshell summary of the entire situation:

America’s gun debate in one thread.

1) I propose a buy-back of assault weapons

2) Gun owner says he’ll go to war with USA if that happens

3) I sarcastically point out USA isn’t losing to his assault weapon (it’s not the 18th Century)

4) I’m called a tyrant

5) 0 progress

Sigh.  C’mon, folks … get real for a minute, will ya?  Mr. Swalwell was far more generous than I would have been, or than he should have been, in offering a buy-back program.  In my mind, assault-type weapons that were designed for only military use do not belong in the hands of civilians.  Period.  No argument.  Ban ‘em.  Confiscate ‘em.  Destroy ‘em.  They do not belong in your hands, Joe Cracker!!!

No, nobody is going to nuke you, and frankly if I had my wishes, and if there were a safe way to do so, every nuclear weapon on the planet would be destroyed.  Mr. Swalwell’s comment was rather like one that I myself make every so often, when I hear of somebody who has an arsenal in their basement or garage, just waiting for that day when the military ‘comes for mah guns’.  Says Joe Cracker … “Just let ‘em try … hworf, hworf, hworf (picture Beavis & Butthead here) … I’ll blast ‘em into the next county”.  Say I … “Oh really … and when that tank rolls right on through your arsenal, taking most of your house with it …???”

There is this concept these days in both political parties that we must always look for the ulterior motive, the hidden threat in every word that is uttered by “the enemy”.  Why must we be enemies?  Because we cannot be bothered to take the time to understand one another!  Republicans haven’t bothered to ask themselves why the democrats feel as strongly as they do about gun control.  Well, dear right-wing, conservative friends, even though you didn’t ask, let me tell you …

BECAUSE WE ARE SICK AND DAMN TIRED OF SEEING INNOCENT PEOPLE KILLED AT THE HANDS OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE NO BUSINESS OWNING A BLOOMIN’ GUN!!!

Eric Swalwell is not a bad guy, folks.  During his congressional career he has advocated to increase spending on education, for renewable energy jobs creation, to raise the cap on the Social Security payroll tax so that wealthier Americans would pay more into the program, and he has argued against legislation that would allow people to bring knives on airplanes.  He is a strong supporter of LGBT people and is staunchly pro-choice.  In other words, he is in favour of policies to protect and enhance the common people – people like you … and me.  And he wants to see a curtailment of guns in civilian hands.  Most of us do want that.  Those who don’t?  Explain it to me, please, Mr. Joe Cracker?

The far-right and far-left media outlets play on our fears, our sympathies, our desires.  The headline at the beginning of this article is but one example.  Fox News, Breitbart and others do it every day.  The trash that can be found on Twitter and Facebook is astounding.  Americans need to grow up.  They need to learn to distinguish between news and rhetoric.  They need to learn to do their own digging, to separate the bullshit from what is real.  The Great Divide just keeps getting wider and wider … it is to the advantage of people like Trump and his minions to keep us divided, to keep as many as possible in the dark.  Are you willing to let them win?  Are you willing to believe the myth?  Or do you still care about truth?