Two Former Presidents … Voices of Reason

When your ‘enemies’ say things about you, say that you are no good, a liar and a cheat, and call you names, you rather expect it and most of us simply laugh it off.  I have acquired many new monikers during the last 28 months, since that day in June 2015 when I fell off a stool laughing because Donald Trump actually had the gall to throw his hat into the ring of presidential contenders.  But those new names don’t phase me, for they are people who disagree with me and have declared me their enemy.  A few threats have set my teeth on edge, but those are few and far between.  But when your allies and friends start calling you names and saying things about you, then perhaps it is time to take a long, hard look at yourself and ask yourself some tough questions.

The GOP is not exactly a tight-knit, cohesive organization these days, and more and more we are hearing members of Congress and other party officials speak out against Donald Trump.  The latest in this series was former President George W. Bush who yesterday gave an unexpected and rather eloquent speech at a forum for the George W. Bush Institute in New York. If he had said no more than a handful of words, it would have spoken volumes, simply because he is a fellow republican and a former president.

Like Senator John McCain’s speech on Monday evening, Bush did not specifically mention Trump, but his meaning was obvious to all with half a mind.  I will not replicate the entire speech, but merely a few of the most relevant snippets.

  • And we know that when we lose sight of our ideals, it is not democracy that has failed. It is the failure of those charged with preserving and protecting democracy.

  • Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.

  • We have seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times, it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates into dehumanization. (Think, “Lyin’ Ted,” “Little Marco,” “Liddle” Bob Corker, “Crooked Hillary,” “Lock her up,” to name but a few)

  • We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade — forgetting that conflict, instability, and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism.

  • Our country must show resolve and resilience in the face of external attacks on our democracy. And that begins with confronting a new era of cyber threats.

  • According to our intelligence services, the Russian government has made a project of turning Americans against each other. This effort is broad, systematic and stealthy, it’s conducted across a range of social media platforms. Ultimately, this assault won’t succeed. But foreign aggressions — including cyberattacks, disinformation and financial influence — should not be downplayed or tolerated. This is a clear case where the strength of our democracy begins at home. We must secure our electoral infrastructure and protect our electoral system from subversion.

  • This means that people of every race, religion, and ethnicity can be fully and equally American. It means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed.

  • We need a renewed emphasis on civic learning in schools. And our young people need positive role models. Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children. The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them.

The ones in bold are the ones I find the most relevant, especially the last two.  You can read the entire transcript if you wish.

And, though much lower keyed, President Obama also made some statements this week, while stumping for Democratic gubernatorial candidates in New Jersey and Virginia:

  • What we can’t have is the same old politics of division that we have seen so many times before that dates back centuries. Some of the politics we see now, we thought we put that to bed. That has folks looking 50 years back. It’s the 21st century, not the 19th century. Come on!

  • You can’t take this election or any election for granted. I don’t know if you all noticed that.

For two former presidents to speak out against the policies, actions and behaviours of the sitting president is … unprecedented (pun intended – needed to lighten things up a bit).  That they are doing so speaks loudly that they are concerned for the fate of our democracy and the path that the nation is on.  I concur and I appreciate them using their large, yet elegant and respectful voices to make these points.

A Sort of Despotism

Our friend and fellow-blogger Hugh Curtler has provided a short excerpt from Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, long considered one of the most influential and relevant books of the 19th century. This is a short piece, but even though it was published 182 years ago. Please take a moment to read it and think about it. Many thanks, dear Hugh, for such a timely piece and implied permission to re-blog!

hughcurtler

In 1831 Alexis de Tocqueville visited the United States for nine months ostensibly to examine our prison system, but in fact to examine the American political system. He later wrote Democracy In America, a most remarkable book that very few read any more (sad to say). In a chapter of that book titled “What Sort of Despotism Democratic Nations Have to Fear” he provided us with an analysis that is as timely today as it was when he wrote it, proving once again that the classics are always relevant:

“I seek to trace the novel features under which despotism may appear in the world. The first thing that strikes the observer is an innumerable multitude of men all equal and alike, incessantly endeavoring to procure the petty and paltry pleasures with which they glut their lives. Each of them, living apart, is a stranger to the fate of the…

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Good People Doing Good Things … Little Things Mean A Lot

I started today’s good people post about a single person, Mama Rosie, who is doing wonderful things.  But, she is doing so many wonderful things, and having such an impact, that I quickly realized I would not be able to finish it in time, so I switched gears (another symptom of my bouncy mind) and decided to write about multiple good people doing good things.  I went in search, and I found these …


I had never heard of the band Midnight Oil, but of course daughter Chris had … she knows every band that has existed since the beginning of time (and refers to my music as “bad taste”).  Anyway, the band Midnight Oil, an Australian band dating back to the 1970s,  is giving a concert in Fremantle, Australia on 29 October.  According to the band’s lead singer, Peter Garrett, every single cent will go to support marine protection organizations, charities that work in the areas of reef protection and climate change.

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Peter Garrett

The band has long identified with environmental causes, and Garrett himself was on the international board of Greenpeace for two years from 1993-1995.

One of the organizations the environmentally-minded band will be supporting will be the Australian Marine Conservation Society. Started in 1965, the independent charity works to create large marine national parks and sanctuaries, support sustainable fishing practices and protect threatened ocean life such as whales, sharks and seals. The organization also works to protect the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system (344,400 square kilometres), which is severely threatened by environmental pressures and climate change.

Midnight Oil typically earns up to $210,000 per concert, so their contribution is nothing to sneeze at!  Great job, guys …. and thank you!


Joseph Badame and his wife, Phyliss, were survivalists who stocked up on everything: dry food, generators, fuel, survival books, thousands of rolls of toilet paper — all to keep them alive in the event of a disaster or some other crisis. When the crisis came, however, all the food they had stockpiled would be of no use.  In 2005, Phyliss had a massive stroke that left her paralyzed, and she died after another stroke in 2013.  Joseph, then nearly 70 years of age, had quit his job years before to take care of his wife, and had eight years’ worth of medical bills. He managed for a few years, but this year he defaulted on his mortgage and could not pay his taxes, and in August received a foreclosure notice from the bank.

Joseph planned to move to a small apartment that he could afford with only his Social Security, but what to do with all this food stored in the basement of the house?  Sometimes, I think, fate steps in and brings people together for a reason.  Last month, Joseph met Victoria Barber, a local food truck owner who just happened to be taking donations to help people in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Joseph donated $100 in cash, but more importantly … he took Ms. Barber to see the food in his basement and told her he would like her to send it to the people of Puerto Rico, who needed it more than him.

Barber and her husband spent the next week raising money to transport the barrels. Badame helped, too, and wore a red T-shirt: “#PRSTRONG” it said, with a heart below it. Members of the local police department and a high school soccer team helped carry the supplies out of the basement, and the barrels were repacked so that each contained a variety of dried goods.

joseph-badameBadame said it was his own life that was saved. “I’m tired, old, depressed, feeling like I’m a failure regarding the survival thing,” he said. Then Barber “came along, gave me a shot of adrenaline. I couldn’t believe it.”

Sometimes things just happen that way.  Hats off to Joseph Badame and Victoria Barber whose ships just happened to pass one day, and together they made a difference to the good people in Puerto Rico.


jonathon drouinPro athletes have been much in the news of late.  Until recently, I thought of most pro-athletes as overpaid, greedy people, but I am learning that many of them have big hearts and generous spirits. Not a hockey fan, I had never heard of the Montreal Canadians player, Jonathan Drouin.  Drouin has partnered with the Canadiens Children’s Foundation to host less fortunate children at a Bell Centre suite for the team’s games. He is making a personal annual contribution of $165,000 that will go toward a suite that will be used to provide underprivileged children and their families an opportunity to attend games they would not otherwise be able to. And just last month, Drouin donated $500,000 to the Fondation du Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM), and a pledge to help raise $5 million for the hospital.

This is one athlete with a heart of gold!


It’s just a little thing, really … it didn’t cost anything except a small bit of time.  But sometimes those little things mean so much.  An unnamed 92-year-old man went to his local Bank of America in Montebello, California, to withdraw some cash from his account.  Unfortunately, his state-issued I.D. had expired and the bank teller refused to honour his request.  Perhaps confused, and definitely upset when the employees would not help him, he was told to leave, but he refused, for he needed to withdraw his cash.  So, the bank employees called the police (nice folks, eh?)  Luckily for the man, the officer who arrived on the scene was Officer Robert Josett, a man with a good heart.  Officer Josett took his time to take the man to the nearest DMV (Division of Motor Vehicles) and helped him renew his identification card.  Officer Josett then took the man back to the bank and made sure he was able to withdraw his money.  As I said, a small thing, but we can understand how much it meant to the man.  Thumbs up to one caring officer!

Josett and man


Stephen Davies was born without a lower left arm.  He spent his first decades on earth without the aid of a prosthesis, and finally, as an adult, decided to invest in one.  He was disappointed in the available designs … he wanted something ‘cool’, but they were all the same … functional, yet boring.  He posted about his experience online, where it was seen by one Drew Murray, a volunteer for a group called e-NABLE that was doing some innovative things using 3D printing to create artificial hands.  Drew offered to make a functioning arm for Stephen.  Stephen was so impressed with the results that he talked Drew into a partnership, and together they formed Team UnLimbited, an organization that makes prostheses for children free of charge.

While I do not understand this technology of using a 3D printer to create prosthetic limbs, I do understand innovation, character, and generosity, and these two men are rich in all three of those!  Just look at some of the fun ones they have made …

“We’ve done Iron Man designs, Harry Potter, Lego and Spider-Man. The key is making something the child actually wants to wear and feels is cool enough to show their friends.”

Two great men, a wonderful organization, and a bunch of happy kids!


 

And I end with a story about the City of San Diego in California.  In March, 2016, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced a “Housing Our Heroes” initiative to provide secure rental housing for 1,000 homeless veterans.  Last week, they exceeded that goal and have provided housing for 1,007 previously homeless veterans. But the city is not stopping there.  According to CEO Rick Gentry, they will be expanding the program to include other homeless people and hope to house another 1,000 by the end of the year.

For incentives, landlords received $500 for the first units they rented to a homeless veteran and $250 for each additional unit. They also received an average of $1,500 in security deposits and $100 in utility assistance per household.

San DiegoJimmie Robinson, a landlord who rents out several houses, took in seven homeless veterans in the Housing Our Heroes initiative. Robinson said the incentives were “eye-catching,” but were not the greatest motive for taking in homeless veterans.

“When you get to meet them, the satisfaction of helping people turn their lives around was more important. When you see somebody rebuilding their lives, that’s what it’s become for me, more than than the incentives.”

Wonderful job, San Diego!  I hope we see more cities taking this initiative soon.  That there are people living on the streets in this nation of plenty is unthinkable.


These are just short stories about people doing mostly small things, but every one of those things counts, each one of these people are showing compassion for their fellow man, and they are making a difference.  My hat is off to each of these fine people!

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Thoughts on “Value Voters”

Recently I have heard the term “value voters” bandied about.  I did not really think much about it until this past Saturday when Steve Bannon spoke harshly at a “Value Voters Summit”, and then I began to wonder … what, exactly, are value voters?  The short answer I found is …

“One who participates in elections and makes decisions based on issues such as religion, abortion, capital punishment and same-sex marriage.”

In other words, one who places their own personal morals above the good of the nation, the security of the world, and the important issues that should be the business of government. Banning same-sex marriage is, to the value voter, more important than protecting the environment, the air we breathe and the food we eat.  Banning abortion takes precedence over international security.  And prioritizing one religion over another ranks higher than human rights.

And the Values Voter Summit at which Bannon spoke on Saturday is …

“An annual political conference held in Washington, D.C. for American social conservative activists and elected officials from across the United States. The Values Voter Summit is hosted by the Family Research Council. There are numerous conservative organizations sponsoring or otherwise participating in the conference. In the most recent summit, 38 organizations and an audience of 2,000 people participated. The summit is usually held in September or October of each year.”

The all-star cast of previous summits have included right-wing commentators and conspiracy theorists Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter.  All three of these have received Filosofa’s Idiot of the Week award … need I say more?

This year, Steve Bannon, Trump’s friend, ‘former’ chief strategist, and advisor, spoke at the summit and ‘declared war’ against the GOP at the ballot box in next year’s midterm elections.

“This is not my war. This is our war. And y’all didn’t start it. The establishment started it. But I will tell you one thing — you all are going to finish it.”

Bannon’s two main targets were Senators Bob Corker and Mitch McConnell.  Corker, you may remember, spoke out last week, saying that republican lawmakers were privately concerned about Trump’s ability to lead the country, and later tweeting, “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift …”  Bannon said the incumbents in Congress must now “come to a stick [microphone] and condemn Senator Corker.”

Since leaving the White House in August, Bannon has returned to his post as chairman of Breitbart and made it his express mission to purge the Republican Party in the 2018 primary challenges to sitting members of Congress. His efforts are reportedly being backed by conservative hedge-fund mogul Robert Mercer, a real piece of work in his own right.

White supremacist and former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka also spoke at the summit …

“The left has no idea how much more damage we can do to them as private citizens, as people unfettered. 2018 will be the crucial year. This is the year. Steve has declared war on the RINO class as have I and we must tell them we have had enough.”

Not one to pass up an opportunity to be in the spotlight, Trump also spoke at the summit, the first sitting president ever to do so.

“We know that it’s the family and the church — not government officials — who know best how to create strong and loving communities. We don’t worship government, we worship God.” (Somebody shoot me now, please?)

Trump continued to toot his horn and condemn Congress for failing to rubber-stamp his own agenda, but nothing that we haven’t all heard before, so I won’t waste mine or your time repeating it ad nauseam.  What I would focus on, however, is the ideology of the ‘value voters’ who attended this conference.

This was a group, at least some of whom believe that God placed Donald Trump in the White House.  My snarky self simply cannot resist asking the question, do they believe, then, that Vladimir Putin is God? This is a group who place their own religious values far above truth and integrity in government, environmental protection, global security, human rights, justice, international relations, crime prevention, healthcare, the economy, or any of a number of other serious issues facing our nation today.  These are people, evangelical Christians, as they refer to themselves, who believe this nation should have a state religion:  Christianity.  They have no room in their hearts for those who are Muslim, Jewish, atheist or agnostic.  Many have no room in their hearts, even for those who are Hispanic or African-American.  I am not speaking of Christianity as a whole, but this relatively small group of ‘value voters’ who choose to push their religion upon us all, to the detriment and exclusion of all else.

Bannon, Gorka and Trump knew their audience, knew what would sell.  But they also spoke to a much larger audience:  We The People.  This writer found their message ridiculous, but also chilling, for if they have their way in November 2018, a large portion of Congress will be their hand-picked choices from the radical-right.  Soldiers for Bannon’s army in his self-declared “war” on the 64% of us who do not support Trump and his ideology – an ideology that is the opposite of “government of the people, by the people, for the people”.  That is the government that Abraham Lincoln proclaimed “shall not perish from the earth.”  If Trump, Bannon and the value voters have their way, I fear it will perish after all.

Lincoln

A Fairy Tale Even Grimmer Than Grimm’s

Once upon a time there was a president, a leader, and he tried to do the right thing for the people who had elected him.  Some of the people did not like him and made up stories about his religion, his birthplace, and anything else they could think of.  They said they hated him, and they rallied against everything he wanted to do to try to help the people.  But he was a kind and benevolent leader, well-reasoned and being possessed of an even temperament, and he did not respond to their taunts.  Eventually, as must happen at least every eight years, he was replaced by another, a man possessed of a sharp, untruthful tongue, a man who thought only of himself and cared not one whit for the people who had elected him.  When the first leader spoke to the people at an event called a ‘news conference’, he used the opportunity to present information about things that were important to the people, to the nation.  He informed, he sometimes joked briefly with the reporters, and he always tried to explain what he and his team were doing and why it was important.  But when ‘the other’ came along, he rarely spoke at these news conferences, but he held rallies to tell the people lies about how great he was. And when he did speak to the people, it was ugly-speak.  He spoke in an ugly language, criticized most everyone, threatened, bullied and spoke falsely about what a great job he was doing.  And the people, most of the people, cried and asked themselves, “What have we done?” And they did not live happily ever after …

The ’other’, of course, is none other than Donald Trump.  Last evening, he gave a press conference whereby he bashed Hillary Clinton for her election loss, criticized former President Obama, praised himself, and went to great lengths to assure every one of his “outstanding” relationship with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell was at Trump’s side, looking rather like a recalcitrant child or an obedient house pet. Trump’s speech was relatively short, a lot of tooting his own horn, but the more interesting parts came with the rather lengthier Q&A session afterward. Let us take a look at a few of the ‘highlights’ … as always, my snarky remarkys are in blue italics.


Trump: What Mitch will tell you is that maybe, with the exception of a few — and that is a very small few — I have a fantastic relationship with the people in the Senate, and with the people in Congress.  (This came totally unsolicited, as a response to a completely unrelated question.)


Reporter: Why haven’t we heard anything from you so far about the Soldiers that were killed in Niger?  And what do you have to say about that?

Trump: I’ve written them personal letters. They’ve been sent, or they’re going out tonight, but they were written during the weekend. I will, at some point during the period of time, call the parents and the families — because I have done that, traditionally. I felt very, very badly about that. I always feel badly. It’s the toughest — the toughest calls I have to make are the calls where this happens, soldiers are killed. It’s a very difficult thing. Now, it gets to a point where, you know, you make four or five of them in one day — it’s a very, very tough day. For me, that’s by far the toughest. (Aye, pobrecito!!!) So, the traditional way — if you look at President Obama and other Presidents, most of them didn’t make calls, a lot of them didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate, when I think I’m able to do it. They have made the ultimate sacrifice. So, generally, I would say that I like to call. I’m going to be calling them. I want a little time to pass. I’m going to be calling them. I have — as you know, since I’ve been President, I have. But in addition, I actually wrote letters individually to the soldiers we’re talking about, and they’re going to be going out either today or tomorrow. (Multiple points here.  1) The Green Berets killed in Niger were killed on October 4th, fully 12 days before this speech.  2) It is highly unlikely that Trump wrote any letters, but more likely that someone on his staff hastily wrote them, if they have even been written, once Trump came under criticism.  Trump spent the weekend at his golf course. 3) President Obama not only called the families of slain soldiers, but in some cases even visited them.)


Reporter: Mr. President, in 2012 you tweeted that “Obama’s complaints about Republicans stopping his agenda are BS,” in your words, “since he had full control for two years.”  You wrote, “He can never take responsibility.”  But today, you’ve said about some of the challenges right now in Congress and in Washington, “I’m not going to blame myself, I’ll be honest. They’re not getting the job done.”  So what’s different then than now?  (Oooh … good one!)

Trump: Well, let me just explain what’s different. We have nominations pending right now, and we have 182 approved — if you look at this:  the number that he had approved was 65 percent and 70 percent, and we have 39 percent. They’re holding up every single nomination. (Did he answer the question and I missed it?)

Reporter: How about the agenda broadly?

Trump: Schumer and the group are holding up every single nomination. They are obstructing. They’re doing — I’m telling you, they’re not good politicians, but they’re very good at obstruction. (But I thought Schumer and Pelosi were his new, best friends?)


Reporter: If it would help you — if it would help Special Counsel Robert Mueller get to the end of the Russia investigation, would you –

Trump: Well, I’d like to see it end. Look, the whole Russian thing was an excuse –

Reporter: Would you –

Trump: Excuse me. Excuse me. The whole Russia thing was an excuse for the Democrats losing the election, and it turns out to be just one excuse. I mean, today Hillary blamed Nigel Farage. That one came out of nowhere. So that was just an excuse for the Democrats losing an election that, frankly, they have a big advantage in the Electoral College. They should always be able to win in the Electoral College, but they were unable to do it. So there has been absolutely no collusion. It’s been stated that they have no collusion. They ought to get to the end of it because I think the American public is sick of it. (No, Mr. Trump, the American public is not sick of it. The American public wants answers and it is clear to any who can see, hear and think, that you and your team have, in fact, colluded with Russia.)


Reporter: Mr. President, in the wake of an avalanche of allegations made against Harvey Weinstein, your campaign is being subpoenaed for any documents relating to sexual harassment allegations made against you. Do you have a response to that?

Trump: All I can say is it’s totally fake news. It’s just fake. It’s fake. It’s made-up stuff, and it’s disgraceful what happens. But that’s happens in the world of politics. (There has, in fact, been a subpoena for those documents.)


Reporter: Do you maintain that the federal response [to Puerto Rico] has been outstanding?

Trump: Oh, I think — well, that’s according to the Clinton administration’s head of FEMA, it’s been outstanding. Puerto Rico is very tough because of the fact it’s an island. (REALLY???) But it’s also tough because, as you know, it was in very poor shape before the hurricanes ever hit. Their electrical grid was destroyed before the hurricanes got there. It was in very bad shape, was not working, was in bankruptcy, owed $9 billion. And then on top of that, the hurricane came. Now, you’re going to have to build a whole new electrical plant system. We’re not talking about generators. We moved — Puerto Rico now has more generators, I believe, than any place in the world. There are generators all over the place. The fact is, their electrical system was in horrible shape before and even worse shape after. So we are working right now — as you know, relief funds were just approved and are in the process of being approved by Congress. And that includes Texas, by the way. That includes Florida. And it also includes Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, et cetera. But it was in really bad shape before. We have done — I will say this, we have done – (No snarky remarky required here … he does it to himself)


Reporter: Mr. President, in an interview earlier today, Hillary Clinton said that she did not believe that players taking a knee in the NFL was about disrespecting the flag — at complete odds with the way that you have referred to this. You fired back in a tweet saying that you hope that she runs again in 2020. Why –

Trump: Oh, I hope Hillary runs. Is she going to run?  I hope. Hillary, please run again.

Reporter: So she’s at odds with you over whether or not this is disrespecting the flag. Is she right or is she wrong?

Trump: I think she’s wrong. Look, when they take a knee — there’s plenty of time to do knees and there’s plenty of time to do lots of other things. But when you take a knee – But when you take a knee — well, that’s why she lost the election. Honestly, it’s that thinking — that is the reason she lost the election. (Who knew?)


There is much more, but I have already far exceeded my self-imposed word limit.  And, I have run out of patience for tonight … there is only so much of this one can take.  You can read the full transcript or watch the full video (1 hour 17 minutes), if you are a masochist and really want to do so.

And thus ends this chapter in the fairy tale book, but we are a long way from the end of the book.  Let us hope that there is a Prince Charming to come rescue us … perhaps his name is Robert Mueller?

Bits ‘n Pieces of This ‘n That

mind-bounce.jpgMind bounce, as I call it, Grasshopper mind as our friend David calls it … whatever you call it, it is sometimes annoying, other times a good thing.  It is when your mind refuses to settle on any one topic for very long, bouncing from hither to yon, seeking to know something about everything.  I believe it is more prevalent in this, the era of Trump, for there are so many different things happening all at once that one cannot pick just one topic.  So, today I gave in to the mind bounce and instead of one single topic, I am doing a bit of this and a bit of that …


Donnie Junior …

Those who donate to the Trump campaign (yes, they are still soliciting donations, for I occasionally get an email asking for a contribution) will no doubt be happy to know where their contributions are going.  Mostly, it seems, they are being used to pay Donnie Trump Junior’s massive legal fees.  The Federal Election Commission (FEC) reports that the Trump campaign spent $267,924 on Junior’s legal fees from July through September.  The figure includes $237,924 for Junior’s personal attorney, Alan Futerfas. Another $30,000 went to Williams and Jensen, which helped Junior prepare for Congressional testimony.

And if you donated to the Republican National Committee (RNC), hoping that your contributions would help with various republican candidates’ campaigns, you have also helped Junior, for the RNC spent more than $200,000 on his legal fees, with most going to Alan Futerfas.

In total, more than a half million dollars have been spent on Junior’s legal fees for his utter ignorance when he attempted to collud with the Russians to bring Hillary Clinton down last year.  Two observations:  1) Junior isn’t too bright, but that seems to run in the family, 2) Alan Futerfas is racking up some big money from the Trumps.


More of the Harvey Weinstein show …

Once the sexual harassment claims against Harvey Weinstein became public, it was like an avalanche, with one, then another finally feeling free to speak up.  Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie were among the two most well-known.  Last week, it was announced that Weinstein had been expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  Some actors, such as Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are scrambling to distance themselves from Weinstein and claiming to have had no prior knowledge of his exploits.

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Woody Allen & Harvey Weinstein

On the other side, however, there is Woody Allen, the comedian who was accused, but never convicted of sexually abusing his step daughter. Allen referred to the Weinstein case as a ‘witch hunt’.  (Hmmmm … where have I heard that term before?)  Allen called “the whole Harvey Weinstein thing” a situation that is “very sad for everybody involved. Tragic for the poor women that were involved, sad for Harvey that his life is so messed up.”

I initially said that I did not believe Weinstein would ever see the inside of a jail cell, but now I’m not so sure.  He just might, and personally I hope he does.


Up … Down … Either way, Trump wants credit

up-downWhen the stock market soared earlier this year, Trump claimed sole credit. The reasons for the surge, of course, are more complex and largely have less to do with Trump than he would have us believe.  But last week, Trump announced a new health care policy in which the federal government will halt its practice of paying insurance companies for subsidizing health care for low-income people, effectively shafting some 20 million people. Insurance stocks plummeted, and Trump claims proudly that this, too, signals his success.

“Health Insurance stocks, which have gone through the roof during the ObamaCare years, plunged yesterday after I ended their Dems windfall!”

Does this ‘man’ not understand anything? Does he think that only democrats own stock in insurance companies?  Or does he think that all the lower income people who were beneficiaries of the insurance subsidies are democrats?  And, given that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that his stroke of the pen will increase the federal deficit by $21 billion by 2020, does he not realize … oh, never mind … of course he does not …


A lack of respect …

In the 10 days since four Green Berets were ambushed and killed in Niger, President Donald Trump has used his Twitter account to attack a sports commentator, call for a curtailing of the free press, denigrate his political enemies, sell a book, draw attention to Vice President Mike Pence’s public protest at taxpayers’ expense, and congratulate himself for a job well done.

green beret.jpgYet he’s failed to say anything about the four U.S. service members killed in Western Africa: Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, and Sgt. La David Johnson. About a dozen troops were ambushed on Oct. 4 while on a joint patrol with Nigerien troops; five Nigerien soldiers were also killed. This marks the deadliest-yet engagement for U.S. troops since Trump took office, and yet Trump himself has issued no tweets or personal statements about the matter, 10 days after the fact.


And yet another climate-change denier enters the White House …

Last Thursday, Trump nominated Kathleen Hartnett White to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Ms. White not only denies that man’s contribution to a changing climate is destroying our environment, but she actually claims to believe that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is good for humanity!!!

kathleen-white

She has described efforts to combat climate change as primarily an attack on the fossil fuel industry. Christy Goldfuss, who served as managing director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality under President Barack Obama, said …

“Her views are so out of the mainstream, it’s almost as if she falls in kind of a flat earth category. Her number one task is to rip and throw out the environmental laws that this whole country has come to accept as standards and norms.”

Let us hope that the Senate will have enough sense not to confirm this nominee!

I envision the job ad for any position in the Trump administration as including a line that reads: “only liars and people with an IQ of less than 50 will be considered.”


Thus concludes the detritus from the bouncing mind of Filosofa for today!  Now, perhaps since I got all that out of my head, I can focus?  Have a great day, folks!spider

Any more questions?

Last week was a busy one for Donald Trump. It was as if he was on a mission to cause as much damage both domestically and to our reputation abroad as he possibly could in as short a time frame as possible. Friend and fellow-blogger Keith has written a nice summary of some of the areas in which Trump has focused his destructive talents, and since I could not have said it better, I am sharing his words with you. Please take a minute to read this excellent post … and be sure to check out the comments, for there are some good thoughts there as well. Thank you, Keith!

musingsofanoldfart

For over two years, I have been amazed at how a man, who is so consumed with himself and has given so little regard to the plight of others, can become the President of the United States. He convinced far too many people, whose voice has not been heard, that he was on their side. Unfortunately, they did not pay attention to his history which reveals he has only one cause – himself.

Yesterday, this man decided to kick poor people one more time, stripping subsidies under the ACA for deductibles, co-pays and coinsurance for those who qualify because of low wages. This man owns the imperfect, but working ACA. He has sabotaged it from the get go picking up the baton the GOP Congress gave him, so if the ACA fails as a result, it is on his and GOP leadership’s shoulders.

A few weeks ago, he rolled out…

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All Before Noon!!!

Little Donnie Dark apparently got up on the very wrong side of the bed this morning, for already as of this writing (it is now noon where I live) he has made three horrendous decisions.  Would somebody please tie this ‘man’s hands?

U.S. Withdraws From UNESCO, The U.N.’s Cultural Organization, Citing Anti-Israel Bias

The United States plans to withdraw from UNESCO, citing financial reasons, as well as what it said was an anti-Israel bias at the U.N.’s educational, cultural and science organization. –  October 12 at 10:40 AM

UNESCO was established after World War II to help promote global cooperation around the flow of ideas, culture and information. UNESCO’s mission includes programs to improve access to education, preserve cultural heritage, improve gender equality and promote scientific advances and freedom of expression.

This would not be the first time the U.S. withdrew from UNESCO.  We did so in 1984, under President Reagan when he felt there was pro-Soviet sentiment in the organization. Though most people will shrug their shoulders about this move, it is yet another sign that Trump places no value on international cooperation, human rights and global cohesion.  It is another step toward U.S. isolationism.


Trump Threatens To Abandon Puerto Rico Recovery Effort

Trump served notice Thursday that he may pull back federal relief workers from Puerto Rico, effectively threatening to abandon the U.S. territory amid a staggering humanitarian crisis in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Trump on Thursday sought to shame the territory for its own plight. He tweeted, “Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes.” And he quoted Sharyl Attkisson, a television journalist, as saying, “Puerto Rico survived the Hurricanes, now a financial crisis looms largely of their own making.”

He also wrote: “We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!” –  October 12 at 11:00 AM

Just last week, Pence visited Puerto Rico and promised that the U.S. would be with them “every step of the way”.  The people who live on the island of Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens.  How on earth can anybody with a conscience simply abandon them?  The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote later today on a $36.5 billion disaster aid package that includes provisions to avert a potential cash crisis in Puerto Rico prompted by Hurricane Maria. If it passes, will Trump even sign it? Would Trump similarly abandon the people of Texas and Florida who are also struggling to recover from hurricanes Harvey and Irma?


Foiled in Congress, Trump Signs Order to Undermine Obamacare

President Trump signed an executive order on Thursday that clears the way for potentially sweeping changes in health insurance, including sales of cheaper policies with fewer benefits and fewer protections for consumers than those mandated under the Affordable Care Act.

“With these actions,” Mr. Trump said Thursday, “we are moving toward lower costs and more options in the health care market, and taking crucial steps toward saving the American people from the nightmare of Obamacare.”

“This is going to be something that millions and millions of people will be signing up for,” the president predicted, “and they’re going to be very happy. This will be great health care.”

But most of the changes will not come until federal agencies adopt regulations, after an opportunity for public comments — a process that could take months. – 

Apparently Trump thinks that if Congress won’t legislate his agenda, he can simply bypass them and write his own law.  Trump has decided that he will repeal ACA all by himself.  Fortunately, as stated in the last paragraph of the above excerpt, it is not that simple.

executive orderLook at the above picture … every single one of those people applauding Trump’s signing of the executive order to undermine the health of the citizens of our nation … every single one of them has excellent health insurance, a portion of which We The People pay for.  Think on that one for a minute.


These three decisions before noon today make me wonder what else he plans to destroy by the end of the day.  With the exception of his threats to Puerto Rico, the actions have been in the works for some time, and I realize that he did not just hop out of bed this morning and write executive orders.  But it sure seems like he is on a mission to first isolate our nation, and then destroy it from within.  If he cannot achieve ‘legislative wins’, then he will take matters into his own hands.  Excuse me, but this is not how a democracy works!

Divided We Fall …

“United we stand, divided we fall” – John Dickinson, July 1768

“Divide and conquer” – attributed to Philip of Macedonia

“A house divided against itself cannot stand” – Abraham Lincoln, June 1858


Regardless of whether you are republican or democrat, conservative or liberal, I am asking you today to suspend disbelief for a few minutes and give some thought to an idea that awakened me this morning.

The great divide, as I have called it for the past year, has been in the making for nearly a decade, having its origins, I believe, in the formation of the “Tea Party movement” which appeared to be mainly a response to the election of the nation’s first African-American president, Barack Obama. Throughout President Obama’s two terms, there was push and then push-back, until the divide widened and then widened some more.  Already, by 2015, any political discussion was likely to turn into a hostile argument, Congress was rendered ineffective by extreme partisanship, friends and families parted ways, and the nation was primed for one of two things:  a large-scale catastrophe that would bring the people together again, or a manipulator who would further widen the gap between ideologies.  Enter Donald Trump.

While I do not credit Trump with a large amount of intelligence, I do credit him with being devious, for it is what he has spent his life doing.  And he had some help from at least one autocratic leader, Vladimir Putin, who is intelligent as well as devious.  It turned out to be a winning combination for Trump, though a losing one for the people of the United States.

Donald Trump quickly realized that the most polarizing issue in the U.S. was immigration, and his entire campaign revolved around that issue.  He had people chanting “build that wall”, while others were protesting at his rallies in support of human rights.  He claimed we would ban Muslims, for they were terrorists, and we would keep out Mexicans, for they were ‘rapists and murderers’. At its core, the immigration debate is not, as Trump has claimed, about either the economy or national security.  At its core, the immigration debate is about racism, pure and simple.  Donald Trump played his cards well. And we became ever more divided.

Congress, having a republican majority in both the House and the Senate, is also divided, but in recent weeks, there have been some signs that members of Congress are willing to reach across the aisle and work together, for the health care debacle proved that without some bi-partisan effort, nothing could be accomplished.  This was good news for the nation, good news for the people, but bad news for Donald Trump, for his goal is to keep them apart, to keep them fighting on every issue.  And so, he reached out to Schumer and Pelosi, knowing that such a move would anger the far right, the radical elements in his own party.  He never intended, I think, to actually follow through in efforts to work with the democrats, and that, from his perspective, was the beauty of the plan.  He annoys a good portion of his own party, then turns 180 degrees around and makes demands that are contrary to what he discussed with Schumer and Pelosi, thus annoying the democrats.

If there is one thing Donald Trump understands, it is how to bring out the worst in people, how to pit them against one another.

I began this post with three quotations that I turn to now.

“United we stand, divided we fall” – Patrick Henry used this phrase in his last public speech, saying “United we stand, divided we fall. Let us not split into factions which must destroy that union upon which our existence hangs.”

“Divide and conquer” – the key elements of which are: creating and encouraging divisions to prevent alliances; fostering distrust and enmity; and encouraging meaningless expenditures that reduce the capability for other things.  Immanuel Kant, in his Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch, cited three political maxims for an autocrat: Divide et impera – divide and conquer; Fac et excusa – Act now, and make excuses later; and Si fecisti, nega – when you commit a crime, deny it.  Trump has done all three of these to one extent or another.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand” – The North and the South had come to hold distinct opinions in the question of slavery, and now the issue had come to permeate every other political question.  Lincoln believed that unless the issue of slavery was resolved soon, the Union would no longer be able to function.

This is not the first time our nation has been so divided, however it is, I believe, the first time that our divisions are being manipulated by one person for the purpose of increasing the power of the presidency at the cost of reducing the power of the people.  Yes, we still have the vote, but Trump is taking steps to manipulate that, also, with his voter fraud commission that, given the people who are in charge of the commission, seems likely to remove many, perhaps millions, from the voter registration rolls.

I said early on that Trump would not like the confines of the office of president, that he would not like the congressional oversight and the rules that bind his office.  I believed then, as I do now, that his goal is and has always been, to be a ruler rather than a leader.  I cannot predict the outcome, for I still have hopes that the system of checks and balances will hold, that the people will begin to awaken and see what is happening to this nation, and that Trump will be removed from office before his power is such that he cannot be removed.  That is my hope. The end result depends on each and every one of us.

DEMANDS???????????????

Some 800,000 young people are being held hostage.  They are but pawns in Donald Trump’s game of “Gotcha!”  I refer, of course to the Dreamers, the young people brought into this country, typically by their parents or other close relative, and provided certain legal protections against deportation, in order to get an education and contribute, ultimately to become citizens if they choose.

gotcha-2The bully in the White House has sent a long list of demands that Trump will require in exchange for any hope of a deal to protect the Dreamers.  Since when does the president of this nation make demands upon Congress??? This is the behaviour of an autocrat, not a president.  And to toy with the very lives of 800,000 human beings???  Unconscionable!!!

The most objectionable part of his demands?  The damned wall, of course.  The wall that will cost some $70 billion to build and then will serve NO purpose.  Additionally, he demands the hiring of 10,000 immigration agents, tougher laws for those seeking asylum and denial of federal grants to “sanctuary cities”. He is also demanding the use of the E-Verify program by companies to keep illegal immigrants from getting jobs, an end to people bringing their extended family into the United States, and a hardening of the border against thousands of children fleeing violence in Central America.

It must be obvious at this point, even to his most hard-core supporters, that Donald Trump hates people.  That he is against the human race as a whole, for if his demands were met, it would be a death sentence for far too many. While I agree that we must do everything in our power to protect the Dreamers, that it is unacceptable to send them to countries they likely do not remember, where they know no one and have no life, no home, no connections.  But, the demands of the MITWH cannot be given into.  CAN NOT!

The cornerstone of this nation was immigration.  At some point, almost every one of us have ancestors who immigrated here from elsewhere.  Trump’s own mother came to the U.S. from Scotland in 1929, and his paternal grandfather came from Germany in 1885.  Yet he would almost completely shut our borders to all immigrants!

Mr. Trump needs to read the U.S. Constitution, or if he is incapable, he needs to have somebody read it to him, for nowhere in that document does it give the president the right to demand anything from Congress.  Even the republicans in Congress must surely realize that they cannot bend to his demands. No surprise here, but the chief backers of Trump’s laundry list of demands are none other than white supremacist policy advisor Stephen Miller, and racist Attorney General Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions.

In a letter to lawmakers, Mr. Trump said his demands would address “dangerous loopholes, outdated laws and easily exploited vulnerabilities” in the immigration system, asserting that they were “reforms that must be included” in any deal to address the Dreamers.

Remember last month, when hard-core republicans were aghast at the news that Trump had met with Senator Charles Schumer and Representative Nancy Pelosi, both democrats, over issues of immigration and spending?  There were jokes galore about how Trump’s two new best friends were Schumer & Pelosi.  Not anymore!  Schumer and Pelosi issued a joint statement today:

“The administration can’t be serious about compromise or helping the Dreamers if they begin with a list that is anathema to the Dreamers, to the immigrant community and to the vast majority of Americans. We told the President at our meeting that we were open to reasonable border security measures alongside the DREAM Act, but this list goes so far beyond what is reasonable. This proposal fails to represent any attempt at compromise.”

When Trump claimed he was willing to work with democrats, to reach across party lines, I did not applaud, for I knew there was something under the surface, but I wasn’t sure what. I do not trust him, never have and never will, so whatever he says, I either assume the opposite, else take it with a grain of salt.  In this case, I am still not sure what his purpose was.  He alienated some from his own party, and gained nothing.  Was the purpose to get us to lower our guard so that when he delivered today’s slap in the face, we would be unprepared and thus that much more horrified?  I have no idea.

I call on every single member of Congress, regardless of party affiliation, to send Mr. Trump’s demands back to him, marked with a big NODemands are not negotiating tools, they are the methods used by dictators, by bullies, by those who wield such power over others that they have the leverage to make demands, knowing that their victims have no recourse.  This is the United States of America, a democratic-republic, where we do not have a dictator, an autocrat.  We have a government that allows a certain amount of power to each of its three branches, but that power is not unlimited.  Would somebody please inform Trump that his last name is neither Duterte, Erdoğan, nor Putin?