Mindless Slaughter 😿

Could somebody tell me, please, who put humans in charge of deciding which species belongs where, and how many should be allowed to live? Humans themselves have grossly overpopulated this planet to the point where in some areas, there are not sufficient resources such as water and food, to support the population.  But humans think it is their right to determine how many wolves or moose should be in a given area?  Why do humans always have to manipulate, to be in control?  Who the Sam Heck left humans in charge of this planet?  A planet, I might add, that they have done a lousy job of caring for.

Read the following sentence from an article in the Anchorage Daily News

“The ADF&G [Alaska Department of Fish and Game] is charged, by the Board of Game and the Alaska Legislature, to manage moose numbers in Unit 13 at the optimum harvest level for the hunting public.”

moose-hunterHumans believe it is their right to “manage” the number of moose to make certain there are plenty for those damned hunters to kill, come fall – or whenever hunting season is in Alaska!  But wait … it gets even better.

Somebody in Fish & Game, or in the legislature, thinks that when the moose population drops, it is a result of wolves and/or bears killing the moose.  They don’t know for sure, but they think so.  They have determined what is the ‘ideal’ number of wolves in one particular area of Alaska referred to as Unit 13, and that magic number is between 135 and 165.  This year, however, somebody determined that there are between 350 and 550 wolves in Unit 13, and they are concerned that the wolves will dine on the moose and … aw, golly gee, the hunters will be unable to kill moose!aerial-killing-wolvesSo … guess what they are doing to “manage” the number of wolves?  It’s called ‘aerial wolf hunting’, and it is exactly what it sounds like … killing wolves with high-powered rifles from airplanes.  For no reason other than that hunters want to be able to kill moose!  Back when Sarah Palin was Governor of Alaska, she encouraged aerial wolf hunting, and even offered cash incentives!

Congress passed the Federal Airborne Hunting Act of 1972, which made it illegal for hunters to shoot animals from a plane or helicopter.  However, once the Fish & Game guys determine there are “too many” wolves, then the government gives special permission for this mass slaughter. spirit wolfBut, here’s the catch … how do you know how many wolves there are?  Again, quoting from the article in the Anchorage Daily News

“In recent years, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has been able to do population surveys and provide estimates that are a bit more reliable than those of the past. However, one needs to remember that although Unit 13 has boundaries, the wolves do not. [Emphasis added] Obviously real populations are difficult to accurately pin down.”

I’ve got news for these bloomin’ eejits … the wolves and moose were there long before humans were, and hopefully will still be there long after!  They co-existed in nature without any manipulation by humans! People are the interlopers here, folks, not the wolves and not the bears … people.

Now, if we wish to take this a step further, to extrapolate some data here … as I mentioned in the beginning, humans have already overpopulated the earth.  There are currently 7,558,988,647 humans on this planet as of the moment I am writing this, approximately 1:00 a.m.  You can check for yourself.  Go ahead … see how much it has increased since this writing.  It is estimated that by the end of the century, at current growth rates, there will be more than 11 billion humans on earth.  Such population cannot be maintained given the rapid depletion of non-renewable resources or given the degradation of the capacity of the environment to give support to the population.  (Makes the anti-abortion crowd look rather silly, doesn’t it?)

So, what do you think?  Humans have already proven that when it comes to making babies, they think more is better, so they aren’t likely to police themselves.  Personally, I think China had the right idea with their ‘one child’ policy.  But, given humans’ disdain for the lives of wolves, deer, and a host of other beautiful animals, what would you say to instituting a ‘predator management program’ similar to that in Alaska in order to thin the human population?

Now, before any of you start beating the keyboard sending me comments asking me if I’ve lost my marbles, yes, I am being facetious and no, I would not condone the random killing of humans simply to thin the pack.  But there are two points I am trying to make here:

  1. Humans do not have some superiority that gives them the right to kill animals for sport. They damn sure don’t have the right to decide how many of a certain species should be allowed to live in a specific area.  The critters were here long before we were, they are far more beautiful, and far more self-sufficient than we are.  Leave them alone!!!
  2. You’ve heard the expression about making sure your own house is clean before you go about criticizing somebody else’s? Same applies here.  We are doing a crap job of taking care of this planet.  We spew toxins into the air, water and ground as if they would simply dissipate.  They don’t.  We spray chemicals on our food … chemicals that then contaminate our water sources.  We are, whether the climate deniers would agree or not, destroying the only home we will ever have.  No, folks, there is no home for us on Mars, or Saturn or the moon.  Earth is it … and we are killing it.

I am appalled by the story about killing hundreds of wolves from airplanes just so there will be enough moose for hunters to kill and mount the heads over their fireplaces, bragging to their amigos.  Want to impress your friends?  Do something good like join Jimmy Carter in Habitat for Humanity and build houses for poor people.  Volunteer at your local homeless shelter.  That impresses me much more than the head of a moose who gave his life so you could brag.howling wolf.jpg

DOA … Dead On Arrival

Fortunately, since we have a caveman at the helm, the president does not write the budget – Congress does.  The president can submit his proposal, his request or wish list, but at the end of the day, it is Congress who writes the budget.  Thankfully.

This week, Trump gave his wish list to Congress, and as we all suspected, it is atrocious.  In short, he wants to take as much as he can possibly take from We the People and give as much as he possibly can to his wealthy cronies, raising the already-staggering deficit in the process.  Let’s take a look at some of the most egregious items, shall we?

  • First, there is “the wall”. Since he couldn’t bully Congress into giving him the $5.7 billion he asked for to start work on the wall, he is now asking for $8.6 billion!  And this guy is supposed to be a master dealmaker?  The art of compromise is entirely lost on him!
  • Then there is the environment. His proposal is to cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by 31%.  It would cut the EPA’s Global Change Research office, which exists to provide scientific information to policymakers about the threats posed by climate change, as well as a number of other programs involving clean water and air.
  • Along similar lines, he proposes massive cuts to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) renewable energy and energy efficiency budget … some 70%!!! The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which falls under the DOE, provides hundreds of millions of dollars a year in grants and other financial assistance for clean energy, has financed research into technologies ranging from electric vehicles to energy projects powered by ocean waves. It has been credited with financing research to help make the cost of wind power competitive with coal, and cutting the costs of LED lighting.

Note that Trump has repeatedly vowed to zero out federal spending on clean energy research and development, while doing everything in his power to promote and even subsidize the fossil fuel industry.  The only conclusion that can be drawn is that either he truly desires the destruction of the human race, or he is really that damn stupid.

  • He proposes to cut safety net programs such as food stamps, Medicaid, and housing assistance, all programs that low-income families depend on for their very survival. In spite of inflation, he proposes to freeze the maximum Pell Grant for low-income college students.
  • He has also proposed to cut Medicare … that benefit that we all paid into every single paycheck of our lives … by $845 billion over the next ten years! And … he plans to cut $25 billion from Social Security … again, a program that we all paid 6.2% of our gross pay into every paycheck we ever earned in our entire lives!

Note that in 2016, when he was still a wanna-be, he said, “I’m not going to cut Social Security, like every other Republican, and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.” More damn lies! 

  • He also proposes to cut the Department of Housing and Urban Development by 16 percent and the Education Department by 12 percent.
  • He does, however, wish to increase the defense budget by $750 billion (that’s in addition to the $8.6 billion for his damn wall).

No part of the plan addresses increasing revenue, and in fact it extends the tax cuts for the wealthy that were passed in December 2017.  It is by no means a balanced budget, and will absolutely, without question add to the national debt and deficit, both of which are already out of control, by trillions of dollars.  What happened, I would ask, to those fiscal hawks that put Obama down for eight years for not balancing the budget, for deficit spending?  Yo!  Republicans!  Can y’all hear me out there in la-la land???  This ‘man’ you all think so much of, that you’re willing to lose friends over, is going to cut Social Security … the money you have saved for your retirement since the first day of your first job.  Are you going to continue to sit on those fat, white posteriors and not even raise a stink?

But, there is good news.  And that is …

Trump’s budget proposal does not stand snowball’s chance in hell of passing Congress!  Not even a slight chance.  Even the republicans don’t like it!  It is naught but his pie-in-the-sky wish list.  However … what it does do is it speaks volumes about Mr. Trump’s priorities, and his lack of concern for the people who put him into office.  A president is elected, in theory, by the majority of the voters.  In Trump’s case, he was not elected by the majority at all, but was nearly three million votes short of it.  One might think that would make him work a lot harder to win over those of us who did not vote for him, but instead, he devotes seemingly every waking moment to finding ways to stab us in the back.

We’re tired of it.  Instead of working with Congress to attempt to develop a budget that benefits the nation and its people, he is submitting a proposal that his own advisors have told him will not fly.  He is working against the very people he swore to represent.  His priorities are a wall, his rich cronies, his Star Wars-type toy, a ‘Space Force’, and other useless crap, for lack of a better word.  Meanwhile, the poor and middle class, the 99% of the nation, will suffer if he gets his way.  Those are his priorities, folks.  His budget proposal tells us exactly where we stand … out in the cold.

Forty-Seven Lousy Months …

Forty-seven months.  Forty-seven lousy months is all Paul Manafort, who could have gotten as much as 24 years, was sentenced to on Thursday afternoon!  This is an abomination!  It is a miscarriage of justice!  It is a freak show!  A slap on the wrist for the man who worked for the Russians and with them, who dodged his taxes so that he could buy ostrich skin jackets, and who sold our country out, not to mention working to help elect another criminal to the highest office in the land.

Angry?  Moi???  Hell yes I’m angry!  If I run a stop sign or write a bad check, I will likely get more jail time than this greedy, rich turncoat got!  Why?  Who knows.  The judge likes Trump or felt sorry for Manafort?

Manafort-wheelchairManafort entered the courtroom in prison greens (did they stop using orange?) in a wheelchair!  Ain’t nuthin’ wrong with that man that a smack upside the head wouldn’t take care of!  He claims that the last nine months in jail have taken a toll on his health.  Well, Paulie, y’know what???  The last two years with the jackass you helped get elected has taken a toll on the health of every thinking, sane person in the United States of America!  Sympathy?  You’ll get none from me, Jack!

But perhaps the wheelchair (which was naught but a stage prop) played on Judge T.S. Ellis’ sympathy, or perhaps it was his whining that did it … wah, wah, wah …

“The last two years have been the most difficult my family and I have experienced.  To say I feel humiliated and ashamed would be a gross understatement.”

Hardly an apology or a statement of remorse, is it?  The judge noticed that too, saying …

“I was surprised that I did not hear you express regret for engaging in wrongful conduct. I hope you will reflect on that and your regret will be that you didn’t comply with the law.”

Even so, Judge Ellis apparently took some form of pity on Paulie, for while the sentencing guidelines for his crimes in this case called for 20-24 years, Ellis sentenced him to a lousy 47 months, with time served, meaning that he will spend only 38 months, just over three years, in prison.  And Ellis had the unmitigated gall to claim that he believed Manafort had “lived an otherwise blameless life”Say WHAT???  The man has been a greedy crook all his life, playing both ends against the middle and making money hand over fist!  He killed animals so he, instead of they, could wear their skin, for Pete’s SAKE!

Manafort had cut a deal with Robert Mueller to cooperate in Mueller’s Russia investigation in exchange for a lighter sentence, but he blew that by lying to the FBI, the OSC (Office of the Special Counsel) and the grand jury concerning matters that were material to the investigation, including his contacts with his Russian associates during the campaign and later.  And the reason he has been sitting in jail for the past nine months is because his $10 million bail was revoked last June after it was discovered that he had tried to influence the testimony of two government witnesses.

Next Wednesday, Manafort faces a different federal judge for sentencing in his other case involving acting as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukraine, money laundering and witness tampering.  Let us hope that judge, Amy Berman Jackson, will better understand the seriousness of Manafort’s crimes and sentence him accordingly.  Jackson is the same judge who finally tired of Roger Stone’s games and subjected him to a gag order and a threat of jail if he screws it up again.  She is also the judge who revoked Manafort’s bail last year, so I don’t think she’ll smile as kindly upon Manafort as Judge Ellis did.

Whether Manafort’s two sentences will run concurrently or consecutively is up to Judge Jackson.  I hope she sees fit to make him serve the maximum time – hopefully the rest of his life – in prison garb.  Paul Manafort ripped our government out of millions, defrauded banks and tried to sell our country’s interests to foreign powers, and yet today he received a lesser sentence than a black person in some parts of the country would get for smoking marijuana.  Equal justice for all?  I think not!

End of rant … for now.

Stop Calling Me!!!

Seven.  Seven.  Eight.  Seven.  NINE!  This is ridiculous.  This must stop!  NOW!!!  Those are the number of scam or robo-calls I have gotten per day for the past few days.  It used to be two or three a day, and while I found that annoying, I could live with it.  But this has gone far beyond what I find acceptable and I am, quite frankly, highly pissed!  This is harassment, especially considering they start before I am awake and go as late as 9:00 p.m.!  I have to keep the ringer turned off on my phone, meaning I occasionally miss a call that I needed or wanted to receive.  I do not answer these calls, for I’m told that doing so confirms to the caller that it is a working number and the calls will merely increase in number.  I did answer one a few months ago with, “What the [expletive deleted] do you [expletive deleted] want???”, and perhaps that is why the calls have increased, but still, there must surely be a way to stop it, other than giving up my cell phone altogether?  And besides not answering, I immediately block every number from which I receive a call from an unknown number.  My ‘blocked calls’ list now numbers more than 400!!!  It doesn’t seem to matter, for these scammers buy blocks of hundreds of numbers, so if I block one, their computer just uses another.

Last year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) stepped up its fight against unwanted calls, implementing a rule authorizing phone companies to block scammers before they reach consumers by spotting invalid numbers and an initiative to develop an authentication system for caller ID.  Sorry, guys, but it ain’t working!

The problem, in part, is that although phone companies are now authorized to preempt scammers under the FCC’s rules, they are not required to.

It is not my imagination that these unwanted, harassing calls have increased.  In 2017, only 3.7% of all cell phone calls were by scammers.  Last year, the number jumped to 29%, and in early 2019 it is estimated at 45%.  For me, it is more like 90%, since on average I receive only one wanted call per day, and 7-9 unwanted ones!

As I said, I do not take these calls, and rarely do they leave any message, but a few times they have left a message warning me that I am wanted by the FBI, that there is a warrant out for my arrest in _____________ (name that state, typically one I haven’t been in for 40 years or more, if ever), and I must call now!  But imagine the person, most often a senior citizen (I refuse to think of myself as one just yet), who does answer the call.  Here are a few of the possibilities …

  • Callers use telephone numbers that mimic actual IRS assistance centers, claim to be IRS employees and use fake names and phony badge numbers. The IRS says victims are falsely told they owe money to the government and are urged to pay through a gift card or wire transfer. Scammers may also take advantage of the devastation caused by Hurricane Florence, the IRS warned. Scammers can pose as a charitable organization, preying on the generosity of Americans who want to help those affected by the storm.
  • Scammers also trick people into answering their calls with a scheme known as neighborhood spoofing, in which they manipulate caller ID information so that their actual phone number is masked. Instead, the calls appear to have been placed locally. A person looking at their caller ID will see a number that matches their own area code, as if the caller is a neighbor or a relative. Because the number appears familiar, people are more likely to answer the call. (Approximately 70% of my unwanted calls are from numbers where the first 6 digits match my own)

scam-callIt’s illegal for telemarketers to call someone whose number is on the national do-not-call registry (as mine is), unless they have an existing business relationship or the phone owner’s explicit written permission. But people who ignore the list or engage in deception are often hard to hold to account. They make calls from abroad, obscure their locations and place a tremendous number of calls.

Now, enter our knight on the white horse (sarcasm intended), the United States Federal Government.  According to a February 10th article in The Washington Post

Thankfully, proposals in both chambers of Congress offer some hope. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J) introduced a bill in the House last week closing the loophole on autodialers who today take advantage of outdated legal language. That should deter legitimate businesses from abuse. As for the spoofers, major carriers could deploy a technology as early as this year that will tell consumers whether an incoming call comes from a verified number. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai had already urged carriers to adopt these authentication systems, but he stopped short of mandating it. Mr. Pallone’s bill would do just that, as would legislation in the Senate co-written by Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and John Thune (R-S.D.). And Mr. Pallone’s sensibly would require phone companies to provide blocking services against spoofers free of charge.

My antennae automatically go up when I hear Ajit Pai’s name, for he is the one who killed net neutrality, thereby making it quite clear that his interests are tied with big business, not We the People.  However, we must start somewhere, for otherwise our cell phones have become naught but an albatross.  Congress needs to get busy on this and pass these bills, although I have doubts that it will be enforced.  It’s a damn shame that we pay exorbitant amounts to purchase and use our cell phones, and then find that we have no control, they are not for our convenience, but for the convenience of scammers and big business who have found a cheap way to market their junk.

Damn You, Donald Trump!

If the top experts in a field don’t give you the answers you wanted, don’t tell you exactly what you wanted to hear, then the best thing is to find people who will say precisely what you want to hear and abide by their opinions.  For example … say your tax accountant, a long-trusted Certified Public Accountant tells you that you owe a few thousand dollars in federal income taxes, and you don’t want to pay any more taxes, you can always find a shyster who will find illegitimate deductions and with a bit of creative accounting, can make your tax bill vanish into thin air.  This is what all the smart, wealthy businessmen do all the time … businessmen with last names like DeVos, Ross, Mercer, Koch, Craft and Trump.  That’s why they are so wealthy!

Now, my point today has nothing to do with income taxes, though I have spent the last three hours working on them, but with the science of climate change.  Trump doesn’t like the report that was issued last November by the National Climate Assessment (NCA).  He doesn’t like it largely because the results do not fit in with his grand scheme to roll back all environmental protections and give free rein to the fossil fuel industries, as well as others such as the auto industry.  And so, if the puzzle piece doesn’t fit where you want it, then grab a knife and whittle it until it does fit!

The NCA report is a result of the work of 13 different federal agencies, and I urge you to take a look at the section titled Summary Findings, at a minimum.  When the report was first issued, Trump summarily dismissed it, saying he is not among the “believers” who see climate change as a pressing problem.  Go figure, huh?

“One of the problems that a lot of people like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence but we’re not necessarily such believers.”

Did he really say “high levels of intelligence” as referring to himself???  What a son of a b**ch!  But on to the business at hand …

Trump has now decided to set up his own ad hoc group of select federal scientists to reassess the government’s analysis of climate science and counter conclusions that the continued burning of fossil fuels is harming the planet.  In other words, Trump is going to establish a group of climate deniers to state that the NCA report is wrong, thus giving him free rein to follow through on his policies that will bring about, in short shrift, the extinction of not only the human species, but likely all life on earth as we know it today.  Alarmist?  Nope … ask the real scientists.

Trump has tasked the National Security Council with establishing the initiative that would include scientists who question the severity of climate impacts and the extent to which humans contribute to the problem.  The group would not be subject to the same level of public disclosure as a formal advisory committee.  NSC officials said they would take steps to assemble a group of researchers within the government. The group will not be tasked with scrutinizing recent intelligence community assessments of climate change.

Understand that the NCA report was subjected to intense scrutiny by scientists worldwide before it was released and is not the only report to provide similar warnings.  Last year, a military-funded study warned sea level rise and other climate impacts could make more than a thousand low-lying islands in the Pacific Ocean “uninhabitable” by midcentury.  Just last month, the national intelligence director delivered a worldwide threat assessment that “climate hazards” including extreme weather, wildfires, droughts and acidifying oceans are worsening, “threatening infrastructure, health, and water and food security.”  In the words of Camilo Mora, a geographer and environmental professor at the University of Hawaii …

“When it comes down to climate change, we are talking about thousands of independent papers, from everywhere, finding exactly the same thing: that the climate is changing, that we are doing it and that most often than not, the impacts are pretty bad.”

A few very important things should be noted.  While I am admittedly ‘science-challenged’, I am fully convinced that humans have created environmental problems that have been ignored for far too long and are now at crisis stage.  Every other nation on the globe … every single one … have signed the Paris Climate Accord and are diligently finding ways to reduce their carbon emissions, as well as other climate initiatives.  But the United State, the second largest emitter of CO2, and the largest per capita, has reversed course and is actively increasing fossil fuel usage, refusing to take advantage of technology that allows vehicles to become more fuel efficient, and has taken every step imaginable to further increase carbon emissions!Co2 emissions by nationOur carbon emissions do not simply affect the atmosphere directly over the U.S.!  Our emissions affect people in every nation on the globe! Put yourself in the place of a citizen of the United Kingdom, a country that has reduced its carbon emissions by some 43% since 1990, a country where clean, renewable energy has reduced much of its reliance on coal, where industrial pollutants are strictly regulated.  Yes, there is a price … some industries have taken a hit and there are other ramifications, but at the end of the day, they are doing their part … the U.S. is not.  Plain and simple.  Germany is doing its part. Even China is taking climate change far more seriously than the U.S.!

And now, the head of our government has undertaken a new mission to form a group of climate deniers to tell the American people that CO2 is not actually harmful to the atmosphere and that we should all support the coal and oil industries, that we should all drive big vehicles that get 10-12 miles per gallon as opposed to more fuel efficient cars that average more than 40 miles per gallon.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry has written an OpEd in The Washington Post titled “Disband Your Climate Denial Panel, Mr. President” that is well worth the short read and is further proof that those who are thinkers, those who have education, knowledge and intellect, understand that man has abused the environment just about as long as he can, and we are on a path to destroying the very resources we need to survive.

When our cities look like this …China-pollutionThere is one person who bears the responsibility:  Donald J. Trump.  Damn you, Donald Trump!

The United States of Chaos

I don’t know about you folks, but personally I am beginning to feel very irrelevant, inconsequential when it comes to the current administration and the republicans in Congress.  You will notice, those of you who are employed, that during the 35-day shutdown, federal income taxes continued to be withheld from your paycheck.  Every pay, like clockwork, we pay our taxes, and most of us don’t grumble about it, for we understand that it is our taxes that are used to build roads, maintain the military, provide food and shelter for those less fortunate, and pay the salaries of those who serve in our government.  It is as it should be.  BUT …

I don’t think there is a single person reading this blog who appreciates Donald Trump spending $50,000 for a toy to keep him entertained on rainy afternoons, during his 60% “Executive Time”.  What, you ask, am I prattling on about?  This …

Trump plays a lot of golf, as we all know.  When he was on the campaign trail in 2016, he criticized President Obama for the amount of time he spent playing golf, and said this …

“I’m going to be working for you. I’m not going to have time to go play golf.” – Donald J. Trump, August 2016

And yet, absorb this:  President Obama played 306 rounds of golf during the entire 8 years he was in office, which averages to approximately 38 rounds of golf per year.  But Donald Trump, the ‘man’ who said he would be working so hard that he wouldn’t have time for golf, has averaged 70 rounds of golf per year for his first two years!  Where’s all that hard work, eh?  But back to his latest toy …

During the 35-day government shutdown when nearly a million federal workers were either furloughed sans pay, or were expected to work without being paid, Trump’s advisors were apparently able to convince him that it would look really bad if he were out playing golf instead of working to come to an agreement to re-open the government and pay our people.  And thus, he went … wait for it … 69 days without playing golf!  And thus, the above toy … a room-sized golf simulator game at the cost of what, for most of us, is an entire year’s salary or more.  It is said by an anonymous White House staffer that Trump paid for the toy with his own money, but frankly, until I see a canceled check drawn on his personal checking account, I am skeptical.

It was recently reported that Trump spends 60% of his time doing ‘executive time’ … time that he spends watching television, tweeting and talking on the phone, and that he doesn’t leave his residence to begin work until around 11:00 a.m.  Now, you can add another hour to his ‘executive time’, for that is the time it takes to play a round of golf on the new toy.  I wonder … will he get all hot & sweaty and have to take another 20 minutes for a shower after he plays?

trump-golfing


And in other news … again on the campaign trail, Trump promised this …

  • In his official campaign launch address, Trump promised to “reduce our $18 trillion in debt,” which will not happen if annual deficits hit $1 trillion in two years.
  • On the campaign trail, Trump said he would “freeze the budget,” which has certainly not happened.
  • Shortly before his inauguration, he told Fox News host Sean Hannity that he would “balance the budget very quickly… I think over a five-year period. And I don’t know, maybe I could even surprise you.”
  • Previous to that, in March 2016, he told Bob Woodward that he could get rid of the debt “fairly quickly.” When pressed, he said, “Well, I would say over a period of eight years.” Since Trump took office, his own budget director called that promise “hyperbole.”
  • Trump asserted during the second presidential debate that he would bring back energy companies, which would make so much money that they could pay off the national debt. This has not happened.

None of those things have happened but guess what DID happen.  On Tuesday, 12 February 2019, the national debt hit a record high of $22 trillion, nearly $3 trillion higher than when he took office just over two years ago.  Never before in our history has it topped $21 trillion.  For perspective, that is $22,000,000,000.  And climbing.  Why?  While there is no single reason, the biggest reason is the reduction in revenue as a result of the tax cuts for the wealthy that Congress passed, and Trump signed in December 2017.  As tax filers are finding out this month, those tax cuts were truly for the wealthy, and the average taxpayer got shafted.  And still, he presses on for his unnecessary, useless border wall.

Over the course of the last two years, we have gone from a democratic-republic to a plutocracy, a government by the wealthy.  We have ceased to matter to the current administration.  And while Trump’s supporters may crow about the low unemployment rate and the stable economy … a change is coming.  We cannot continue to exist on high deficit spending and an increasing national debt without paying the consequences which I believe are waiting just around the corner.  A rising national debt has been compared to driving your car with the emergency brake on.  Trump’s house of cards may well be about to come tumbling down around us, but he’s having fun playing with his new golf toy, so … no worries, right?

Meanwhile, the Trumptanic keeps chugging toward the iceberg …iceberg

The Shame Of Our Nation …

“The Trump administration says it would require extraordinary effort to reunite what may be thousands of migrant children who have been separated from their parents and, even if it could, the children would likely be emotionally harmed.” – Associated Press, 02 February 2019

Say WHAT???

The first thing that comes to mind is … let’s get somebody to ‘remove’ Trump’s youngest (known) son, Barron, and then say we cannot likely return him.  I wonder if Trump would just shrug his shoulders and say, “Oh well,” as he obviously expects the parents of those stolen immigrant children to do?  In truth, it might be a kindness to Baron, for just look at how Trump’s other children have turned out.

According to Jonathan White, who leads the Health and Human Services Department’s efforts to reunite migrant children with their parents …

“It would destabilize the permanency of their existing home environment and could be traumatic to the children.” 

Where was the concern about the trauma to the children when they were unconscionably stolen from their parents?  Where was the concern when they were dragged, screaming and crying, from the arms of the only caregivers they had ever known?

The reality is that the government did a piss-poor job of record-keeping and now has no earthly idea where a vast majority of these children have landed.  They didn’t even know how many children they had separated from their parents and greatly underestimated the number.  They still don’t know, but Health and Human Services’ assistant inspector general, Ann Maxwell, said that the number of separated children was certainly larger than the 2,737 listed by the government in court documents.  They didn’t even keep records!!!

People, these are lives we are talking about here, not electric light bulbs!  One does not simply take children from their parents, put them into cages, and then dispose of them willy-nilly without so much as a thought to remembering who went where!!!

“The department’s inspector general report didn’t have a precise count, but Maxwell said staff estimated it to be in the thousands.”

You may remember in June that Judge Dana Sabraw ordered all children held in U.S. custody to be returned to their parents, an order that still has not been completely fulfilled.  The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is requesting that Judge Sabraw amend that order to include children who were released to sponsors before his initial ruling.  A hearing is scheduled for February 21st.  ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt said …

“The Trump administration’s response is a shocking concession that it can’t easily find thousands of children it ripped from parents and doesn’t even think it’s worth the time to locate each of them.”

I agree.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) claims that to review the 47,083 cases in an effort to track down these children would require too much time, too many man-hours.  Seriously???  We place a cost on the value of a child’s life and that cost isn’t worth hiring extra staff???  The department claims that 90% of these children were released to ‘close relatives’.  I don’t believe them.  How, after all, can they make that claim when they admittedly do not know where the children went?

On January 4th, The Guardian reported that the U.S. has stopped cooperating with the United Nations’ investigators over potential human rights violations occurring inside the U.S.:

Quietly and unnoticed, the state department has ceased to respond to official complaints from UN special rapporteurs, the network of independent experts who act as global watchdogs on fundamental issues such as poverty, migration, freedom of expression and justice. There has been no response to any such formal query since 7 May 2018, with at least 13 requests going unanswered.

Nor has the Trump administration extended any invitation to a UN monitor to visit the US to investigate human rights inside the country since the start of Donald Trump’s term two years ago in January 2017. Two UN experts have made official fact-finding visits under his watch – the special rapporteurs on extreme poverty and privacy – but both were invited initially by Barack Obama, who hosted 16 such visits during his presidency.

Paradoxically, the Trump administration’s decision to shun the UN’s independent watchdogs places the US among a tiny minority of uncooperative states. There are very few countries that resist international oversight from UN special rapporteurs – one of them is North Korea.

Imagine, if you will, being a parent of a young child, living in a country where turmoil and violence are the norm.  Imagine wanting to protect your child, wanting to give your little boy or girl a better life.  You’ve heard that the U.S. is one of the ‘greatest’ countries in the world, the ‘land of opportunity’, so you give up everything you have, which is little enough, to make the long trek on foot to a place where you believe you and your child can live in safety, can carve out a life, can have a hope for the future.  And then … suddenly, bright lights shine in your eyes, booming angry voices scream at you, guns are pointed at you, and your child is taken screaming and crying, while you are powerless.  Imagine being told, then, that you will likely never see your child again because … “We don’t remember where we put him, and it’s just too much trouble to figure it out”.

This is the United States of America under Donald Trump.

WHY????????

Ask yourself this question:  Why should it be necessary in the United States, a developed Western nation, a nation where people are educated and claim to be good, caring people … why should it be necessary for states to legislate fairness?  Why should a state have to make laws that say, “you cannot refuse to rent a house, or to employ a person simply because they are African-American, or because they are gay”Why do we have to do that?  Aren’t some things just common sense?  Why do you care if the person working in your factory is gay or straight?  They aren’t hitting on you, for Pete’s Sake!!!

Sorry for the rant, but this one galls me to no end.  We learned from the Civil Rights era of the 1950s – 1960s, didn’t we?  Didn’t we learn that all different sorts of people make the world more interesting?  Didn’t we learn that a woman can be just as good a lawyer as a man?  And now, haven’t we learned that gay people are just as nice, just as caring, just as clean, honest and hard-working as straight people are?

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed two bills into law last Friday which seek to protect LGBTQ New Yorkers from discrimination and abuse.  The first new law, known as the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) codifies a 2015 executive order banning discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Under GENDA, New York businesses may not discriminate against transgender or non-binary New Yorkers in employment, housing, education, or public spaces.

The second new law bans so-called “ex-gay” conversion therapy, a discredited form of treatment which purports to turn people with same-sex attractions away from those desires. According to the American Psychiatric Association, “the potential risks of ‘reparative therapy’ are great, including depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior.”

My hat is off to the New York State Legislature and to Governor Cuomo for these two laws.  But I still ask … WHY do we need these?  Why are some people, especially, it would seem, religious groups, determined to either condemn or change gay people???  And why on earth would anyone in their right mind subject either themselves or a loved one to a psychiatric treatment that is known to cause terrible emotional problems???  But wait … you haven’t heard the worst of it yet.  Consider this single sentence from ThinkProgress …

Yet, while both new laws are undoubtedly victories for LGBTQ rights, it remains to be seen whether either law will have staying power in the face of a Supreme Court that is increasingly hostile to civil rights claims brought by non-conservatives.

WHY???  Why does it matter whether claims are brought by conservatives, moderates or liberals?  WHY should civil rights be disavowed?  Is it the intent of the conservative thinkers on the Supreme Court to walk back civil rights reform all the way to the days of segregated bathrooms, water fountains, schools and buses?  The Supreme Court is supposed to uphold the U.S. Constitution, not the doctrine of the Republican Party or the religious right!

Members of religious groups have 1st Amendment rights, the same as anybody else. What they do NOT have is the right to impose their will on the rest of the nation!  What they do NOT have is the right to discriminate against an entire group of people with whom they disagree, or who they simply do not like!  And the United States Supreme Court is supposed to judge fairly what is right for the entire nation, not for only white Christians!

I certainly hope that the New York laws can withstand the bigotry that now resides in the highest court in the nation.  Meanwhile, speaking of the Supreme Court, four conservative members of the Supreme Court joined an opinion calling for an expansion of the rights of religious conservatives to defy laws they disagree with — and a fifth justice, Chief Justice John Roberts, appears broadly sympathetic to this agenda.

One of the Christian right’s top policy priorities is to effectively create two different codes of law in the United States. The first code, which applies to people who do not hold conservative religious views, is rigid and unmoving. The second code, which would apply primarily to Christian-identified conservatives, contains broad exceptions for people who hold the “right” religious beliefs.

bullshit

The endgame is a world where Christian conservatives can treat much of the law as optional, giving conservative Christians broad immunity from the rules that govern all other Americans.  For example, these groups want to have the legal authority to deny housing or employment to members of the LGBTQ community but would be up in arms if it were suggested that, say, a Jew could deny housing or employment to them on the grounds they are conservative Christians.  That’s the biggest load of you-know-what (see above picture) I have heard, but what’s worse is that, as was the case in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Supreme Court upheld the discriminatory acts!

The executive and legislative branches of our government are already compromised by power, greed and corruption.  If the judicial branch goes the same way, as it appears they are prepared to do, this nation can no longer possibly be called the United States of Anything.  As my wonderful late mother-in-law used to say, “Folks is folks … some are good, some aren’t … but in the end, we’re all just folks”.  Think about it.

Two For Twoday …

I had every intention of writing a nice, calm peaceful piece this afternoon … something NOT about Trump or his minions, something either funny, promising, or inspiring in one way or another.  But then, a couple of things crossed my radar and suddenly I find myself beating the print off of my keyboard (literally, for I no longer have lettering on my ‘I’, ‘o’, or ‘n’ keys!).  So, I hope you’re in the mood for a few of my snarky snippets …


Non-Press Secretary Sanders leaves climate change to God …

Sarah Huckabee Sanders-1Sarah Huckabee Sanders was told by her boss not to bother with daily, or even weekly press briefings anymore, for the press don’t talk nice to her, and they don’t say nice things about da prez, so why bother?  So … I’m very puzzled as to what her job description is these days, why We the Taxpayers are still paying her the $179,700 annual salary, for she damn sure isn’t doing anything to earn it!  But now I know … she goes on Fox New talk shows and makes a complete fool of herself …

Earlier this week, newly-minted House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in an on-stage interview that we needed to act on climate change before it was too late. She noted that the “world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change,” referencing the tipping point after which scientists say it’ll be too late to address greenhouse gas emissions. She’s right about all that. And she’s especially right to point that out when we have a government that rejects climate science in addition to ignoring science in general.

So then on Tuesday night, during an interview with, of all people, Fox ‘News’ Sean Hannity, Sarah Huckabee Sanders decided that only God should be concerned about climate change, and that our government has bigger fish to fry …

“Look, I don’t think we’re going to listen to her on much of anything, particularly not on matters we’re gonna leave in the hands of a much, much higher authority, and certainly not listen to the freshman congresswoman on when the world may end. We’re focused on what’s happening in the world right now.”

Need I say more?


Come into my parlour, said the spider to the fly …

Remember back in July, when we learned that Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, did not have the highest-level security clearance necessary to review high-level documents?  The reason was he kept messing up his security review, because he kept ‘forgetting’ to record interactions with a number of foreign officials, primarily Russians.  I had mostly forgotten about it, and I imagine you did too, but yesterday I saw this headline …

Report: Security officials rejected Kushner’s top secret clearance, but were overruled

kushner.jpegTurns out that two career White House security specialists rejected Jared Kushner’s application for a top-secret security clearance after Kushner’s FBI background check raised red flags, and there were concerns about his foreign entanglements.  Kusher’s family businesses leave him vulnerable to foreign influence, they said, and he has not satisfactorily explained some of his Russian connections.  Why is this guy even working in our government???  But wait …

Their supervisor, Carl Kline, who became director of the personnel security office in the Executive Office of the President in May 2017, decided to override their professional opinion and give Kushner the highest level of security clearance despite the concerns of the FBI!!!  Think about that one for a moment, folks!  And … not only that, but this Kline person has also overruled at least 30 other rejections of incoming Trump officials!  I want to know who those people are and what the objections were!  Is our government being infiltrated with Russian agents or those who are entangled with Russian agents?  Who knows?

Those who keep saying that the foundation, The U.S. Constitution, the rule of law, will protect us from a Trump-dictatorship need to think about this one long and hard.  Sure, there are rules in place, but Donald Trump has long since decided that those rules do not apply to him and his chosen minions!  Our lives, our future, are in the hands of a maniacal madman who believes the world is made only for him.

Oh The Generosity …

Last Thursday, CNN published a list of members of Congress who will decline their paycheck this month, in light of the government shutdown, and today the list is updated to include 102 members. Noble, eh? The list is comprised of an almost equal number of republicans and democrats. 20 Senators … out of 100, or 20%. 82 representatives out of 435, or 19%. Here is the list:


House of Representatives
• Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Louisiana)
• Rep. Rick Allen (R-Georgia)
• Rep. Kelly Armstrong (new, R-North Dakota)
• Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa)
• Rep. Don Bacon (R-Nebraska)
• Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Michigan)
• Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Oregon)
• Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Indiana)
• Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Florida)
• Rep. Tim Burchett (new, R-Tennessee)
• Rep. Kevin Calvert (R-California)
• Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-California)
• Rep. John Carter (R-Texas)
• Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Georgia)
• Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming)
• Rep. Jim Costa (D-California)
• Rep. Angie Craig (new, D-Minnesota)
• Rep. Dan Censhaw (new, R-Texas)
• Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah)
• Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Washington) (donating to the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project)
• Rep. Antonio Delgado (new, D-New York)
• Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-New York)
• Rep. Dwight Evans (D-Pennsylvania)
• Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pennsylvania)
• Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tennessee)
• Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-North Carolina)
• Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Montana)
• Rep. Lance Gooden (new, R-Texas)
• Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas)
• Rep. Garret Graves (R-Louisiana)
• Rep. Mark Green (new, R-Tennessee)
• Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Oklahoma) (donating to veterans groups)
• Rep. French Hill (R-Arkansas)
• Rep. George Holding (R-North Carolina)
• Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas)
• Rep. Dusty Johnson (new, R-South Dakota)
• Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio)
• Rep. John Joyce (new, R-Pennsylvania)
• Rep. David Kustoff (R-Tennessee)
• Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado)
• Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio)
• Rep. Susie Lee (D-Nevada)
• Rep. Elaine Luria (new, D-Virginia)
• Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) (donating to food banks in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens)
• Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-New York)
• Rep. Ben McAdams (new, D-Utah)
• Rep. Mark Meadows (R-North Carolina)
• Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-Michigan)
• Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Massachusetts)
• Rep. Ralph Norman (R-South Carolina) (donating to a charity to be determined)
• Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Arizona)
• Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas)
• Rep. Chris Pappas (new, D-New Hampshire)
• Rep. Greg Pence (R-Indiana)
• Rep. Denver Riggleman (new, R-Virginia) (donating salary to volunteer fire department)
• Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Delaware) (donating to the First State Community Action Agency, the Food Bank of Delaware and the Coast Guard Mission Fund)
• Rep. Max Rose (new, D-New York)
• Rep. Chip Roy (new, R-Texas)
• Rep. Dutch Ruppersburger (D-Maryland)
• Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pennsylvania)
• Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Illinois)
• Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Oregon) (donating to an Oregon charity)
• Rep. David Schweikert (R-Arizona)
• Rep. Brad Sherman (D-California)
• Rep. Mikie Sherrill (new, D-New Jersey)
• Rep. Elissa Slotkin (new, D-Michigan)
• Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (new, D-New Mexico)
• Rep. Jason Smith (R-Missouri)
• Rep. Abigail Spanberger (new, D-Virginia)
• Rep. Ross Spano (new, R-Florida)
• Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-New York)
• Rep. Van Taylor (new, R-Texas)
• Rep. David Trone (new, D-Maryland)
• Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Michigan)
• Rep. Mark Walker (R-North Carolina)
• Rep. Michael Waltz (new, R-Florida)
• Rep. Steve Watkins (new, R-Kansas)
• Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vermont)
• Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Virginia)
• Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas)
• Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Virginia) (donating to a charity to be determined)
• Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-New York)


Senators
• Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado)
• Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) (donating to Homes For The Brave)
• Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania)
• Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia) (donating to local charities)
• Sen. Steve Daines (R-Montana)
• Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) (donating to Hawaiian food banks)
• Sen. John Hoeven (R-North Dakota) (donating to charity, likely the North Dakota National Guard Foundation and the United Way’s Emergency Homeless Shelter in Bismarck)
• Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) (donating to The Boys & Girls Club of Oshkosh)
• Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) (donating to charity)
• Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) (donating to West Virginia food banks)
• Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada) (donating to Nevada charity)
• Sen. Martha McSally (new, R-Arizona)
• Sen. Jacky Rosen (new, D-Nevada) (donating to domestic violence survivor programs in Nevada)
• Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) (donating to Vermont charities)
• Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minnesota) (donating to Advocates for Human Rights)
• Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska)
• Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland)
• Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia) (donating to unspecified charity)
• Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) (donating to refugee group HIAS)
• Sen. Todd Young (R-Indiana) (donating to the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation)


Notably absent from the Senate list is Mitch McConnell, who has done more than his share to keep the government shut down.  His net worth being just under $27 million, I suppose he cannot afford to forego that $16,000 monthly paycheck.  But then, I also don’t see Nancy Pelosi’s name on the list either.

I do applaud the gesture these 102 men and women are making, but where are the rest of the loons in Congress who are mostly millionaires and can well afford to give up a month’s pay?  And while I always applaud those who donate to charity … wouldn’t it have made more sense to donate to the 800,000+ men and women who are not getting paid because our federal government can’t get its act together?

Erik Trump’s wife, Lara, who is a campaign advisor to Donald Trump, had something to say about those 833,000 federal workers who have now gone a full month with no paycheck …

lara trump

Lara Trump

“Listen, it’s not fair to you and we all get that.  But this is so much bigger than any one person. It is a little bit of pain but it’s going to be for the future of our country. And their children and their grandchildren and generations after them will thank them for their sacrifice right now.”

A “little bit of pain”Seriously, bitch?  This is a woman who has enough money to buy whatever she wants, a woman who has never in her life gone hungry or had to wonder how to pay the damn electric bill so she can keep the heat on!  Think about it, folks … a month with no pay, and now Trump is indicating that the shutdown could last well into March … or April.  And more than half these people are expected to show up for work every day, to pay for the gas or bus fare to get to work.  What happens when they cannot make their car payment and the car is repossessed?

To add insult to injury, while furloughed workers, those who are not working, are eligible for unemployment benefits during the shutdown, workers who are deemed ‘essential’ and are forced to work without pay are not eligible, per Donald Trump.  He has refused to allow states to offer unemployment benefits to federal workers who are required to work without pay during the shutdown.  I applaud three states, California, Colorado and Vermont, whose governors have defied Trump in this and will be paying unemployment to all federal workers who are not being paid.

“A matter of commonsense and compassion.” — Vermont Governor Phil Scott, a republican

“Jaw-dropping and extraordinary. The good news, we’re going to do it, and shame on them.” — California Governor Gavin Newsom

At least somebody has humanitarian values.  The ‘man’ who would be king certainly has none.  This government shutdown, now in its 33rd day, is the most serious screw-up by this president yet, and all based on a myth that he perpetuates to keep his base riled.  833,000 people are not paying taxes now, for they have no income.  The wealthy aren’t willing to make up that difference.  Those of us who do work for a living are still paying taxes, but … for what?  We have no government … what little government we have isn’t doing anything.  Air travel will soon begin grinding to a halt.  Tax refunds will not go out until … who knows when?  And we’re to applaud a handful of millionaire members of Congress for donating a paycheck back to the government?  I would rather they take their paycheck and donate it to those who are working as slave labour, with no pay.

There are a number of organizations that have established funds to help the federal workers:

  • United for U.S. – a joint effort by corporate partners, organized labor, the United Way network and nonprofits
  • Feeding America – makes donations to local food banks for distribution to federal workers
  • GoFundMe – distributes donations to nonprofit organizations across the country that are offering general relief to government workers, including but not limited to, food, counseling, and housing support.

Meanwhile, I read on Facebook tonight that one of my friends is “sending thoughts and prayers”.  I’m sure that will help them pay the mortgage and put food on the table.  I ‘un-friended’ that person.

I won’t apologize for my cynicism tonight, for it is well-founded, however tomorrow I will highlight the people who are truly being helpful and making generous contributions of time, goods and services to help the unpaid workers.  Fair enough?