Friend or Foe???

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Protest ahead of Trump-Putin meeting in Helsinki

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

Wise Words From A Wise Man …

Last night President Barack Obama spoke at a Democratic National Committee (DNC) fundraiser in Los Angeles.  He has stayed largely, and wisely, out of the public limelight and has had almost nothing to say for the past 17 months about the disaster known as the Trumptanic.  Obama is a professional in every way, a man of heart and courage, a man who has always had  the best interests of this nation and its people in mind.  He is, however, planning to be a presence in the build-up to the November mid-terms, attending fundraisers such as the one last night, and helping democratic candidates in competitive races.

Let us take a look at some of the things he said last night:

“The simple message right now is that if people participate and they vote, that this democracy works. And if we don’t vote, then this democracy does not work.”

“The majority of the country doesn’t want to see a dog-eat-dog world where everybody is angry all the time. To a large degree, we are seeing a competition between two stories. . . . There’s the story that is based largely on fear, and there is a story based largely in hope. There’s the story that says we’re in it together, and there’s the story that says there’s an us and a them.”

“Fear is powerful. Telling people that somebody’s out to get you, or somebody took your job, or somebody has it out for you, or is going to change you, or your community, or your way of life — that’s an old story and it has shown itself to be powerful in societies all around the world. It is a deliberate, systematic effort to tap into that part of our brain that carries fear in it.”

“I would caution us from extrapolating too much from a bunch of special elections and starting to think that, ‘okay, this will take care of itself.’ Because it won’t.”

“I’m giving you the executive summary: Vote. Participate. Get involved. And do not wait for the perfect message, and don’t wait to feel a tingle in your spine because you’re expecting politicians to be so inspiring and poetic and moving that somehow, ‘OK, I’ll get off my couch after all and go spend the 15-20 minutes it takes for me to vote.’ Because that’s part of what happened in the last election. I heard that too much. Politics, like life, is imperfect. But there is better, and there is worse.”

“If what you are doing requires no sacrifice at all, then you can do more. If you are one of these folks who is watching cable news at your cocktail parties with your friends and you are saying ‘civilization is collapsing’ and you are nervous and worried, but that is not where you are putting all your time, energy and money, then either you don’t actually think civilization is collapsing … or you are not pushing yourself hard enough and I would push harder.”

“I am not surprised that instead of replacing what we had done with something better, they just have done their best to undermine and erode what’s already in place. Of course people are going to be angry about that, because if you had health care and suddenly somebody who says they’re going to make it better comes in and makes it worse, you’ll be pissed. You should go out and vote.”

“Reality has an interesting way of coming up and biting you, and the other side has been peddling a lot of stuff that is so patently untrue that you can get away with it for a while, but at a certain point, you confront reality. The Democrats’ job is not to exaggerate; the Democrats’ job is not to simply mimic the tactics of the other side. All we have to do is work hard on behalf of that truth. And if we do, we’ll get better outcomes.”

I think that no matter what your party affiliation, you have to admit there is a 180° contrast between the speech of Obama and that of the current occupant.   Professional vs. clownish, quietly impassioned vs ridiculously vulgar.  Listen to what he is saying, please, be proactive,  work toward a better future for this nation than what we are currently facing.  Most of all, in a word:vote-3

 

A Question With No Answer

A few days ago, our friend Hugh asked a question:

“Apropos of nothing in particular, but I wonder if Trump’s popularity, not to mention his election, is a cultural reaction to the fact that America had a black president for eight years. If this is even a possibility, it would suggest a racism that is endemic to this country and goes much deeper than I had imagined. Just asking…?”

Not for the first time, I revisited this question, for it is one I have asked since well before the election, when Trump’s popularity seemed to rise in direct proportion to his level of obnoxiousness.  My answer to Hugh was …

“This is the question I have wrestled with for more than a year, and I have concluded that yes, indeed, the “Trumpian revolution”, if you will, is naught more than a push back response to the election of an African-American president. Much of our nation is, indeed, extremely racist. That anybody could condemn Obama for wearing a beige suit one day, for trying to ensure that everyone is able to seek medical assistance, and at the same time support a ‘man’ who calls white supremacists “fine people” and proves time and again that he has no morals, no character … to me, that is the proof. I think there are more in this country like you and I, who are appalled by the current climate, but the racists, for the moment at least, own the stage. Some say Trump’s win was a response to economic frustrations among the middle class, but that argument doesn’t hold water for a number of reasons. Others say they were tired of the corruption in Washington, but look at it now! So … sad to say, but blatant racism, hatred for any who is different, seems to be the only answer.”

Each time I revisit this question, my conclusion is the same, and in my mind, I have often likened it to a pendulum that swings to the left and back to the right.  Or vice versa.  But the thing I have never been able to wrap my head around is the answer to the next question:  WHY?

Last night I came across an article on NPR:

Why More White Americans Are Opposing Government Welfare Programs

“A new study shows that since 2008, more white people in the United States oppose welfare programs, in part because of increasing “racial resentment.”

One of the reasons for this opposition, according to the report, is white Americans’ perceptions that they might be losing their financial and social status while people of color make gains in those areas.”

According to the findings of the study, while white American’s perception is that minorities are the biggest recipients of safety net programs such as Medicaid, food stamps and housing assistance, the reality is that 52% of the recipients are actually whites.  African-Americans are fewer than 25% of the recipients.  But even when these statistics were pointed out to them, whites were against safety net programs that they continue to perceive as helping minorities.

Another study in 2016, by the same researchers, linked racial bias to the Tea Party movement.

Kevin Boyle, an American history professor at Northwestern University, says that white supremacy has always lurked in America’s shadow, and …

“Donald Trump gave them permission to come out into the real world.”

There is some agreement among scholars as to how the widening racial and ideological divide took root: Some white Americans began feeling left behind by progress. The decline of the white working class coincided with drastic cultural changes, like quickly diversifying demographics and the election of the nation’s first black president.  According to Steven Hahn, a history professor at New York University …

“With the election of Barack Obama, there was so much talk about being this post-racial moment, and on some levels it was extraordinary. But it didn’t take long for the really vicious racism to surface. It turned out to be an instigator of an enormous amount of rage, and I think Trump both fanned it and inherited it.”

All of which is intended to explain, but in my mind, it doesn’t.  Decline of the ‘white working class’?  What, exactly, is the ‘white’ working class?  In a factory or an office, there are people doing a job.  If you do the better job, perhaps you will be promoted, given a raise.  It doesn’t matter whether your ancestors hailed from Africa, Northern Ireland, Samoa, Argentina or Germany does it?  It doesn’t matter whether you consider yourself a Christian, a Muslim or an atheist, does it?  And it doesn’t matter whether the partner you go home to at night is of the opposite or same sex, does it?  What matters is that you are dedicated and enterprising at the job you do.  Or at least that is what should matter.

Last night I spent nearly three hours reading articles, studies, OpEds and the like, seeking an answer, and I still do not understand.  Yes, Donald Trump sits in the Oval Office today because Obama sat there for the previous eight years.  But WHY?  Obama was intelligent, well-educated and soft-spoken, and the majority of his policies were for the betterment of the nation and its people.  Obama’s presidency saw no scandals … not a single one.  His daughters did not appear drunk in public, he did not engage in extramarital affairs, and he and his family were the epitome of grace and dignity.  His policies were humanitarian, seeking to help people from all walks of life.  He was not perfect and did not always make the best decisions, but what president does?  If one considers the many foibles of his predecessor … and his successor … well, enough said.

So yes, the fact that a racist, ignorant, ill-spoken madman was elected to the highest office in the land is a push back, a response to the fact that we had a black man who was the opposite of all those things in office for the previous eight years.  It is, but I do not understand why, and likely never will, for I think the explanation defies logic.  That our nation is heavily racist is no longer in doubt, and the current climate that gives permission to such racism is setting this nation back in time.  As I said in the beginning, it is like the swing of a pendulum and I do wish somebody would take the battery out of the damn clock so the pendulum might come to rest.

Max Boot: President Trump Has Been Working To Normalize Racism

Most of us do not rely on others to set an example for us of how we should think, speak and act. Most of us have functional brains and were taught by responsible parents. But there is a contingent in this nation who will play “follow the leader” and “monkey-see, monkey-do”, and those are the ones who are following Trump’s example of blatant racism. Gronda, with just a little help from Max Boot of The Washington Post, has written an excellent post tying the racism that is Donald Trump to some of the events happening today. Please take a few minutes to read and ponder. Thank you, Gronda!

Gronda Morin

Related image THESE ARE TYPES OF SIGNS CARRIED BY SOME AT SARAH PALIN AND DONALD TRUMP RALLIES

As a former republican until 2016, I have become painfully aware that there is a racist living in the white House but President Donald Trump could never have been elected without the help and support of the current republican party which created the environment to guarantee his success.

In 2013, I had started to become painfully aware of a strain of racism that had permeated the republican party to where I finally left it in 2016. It started with the Trayvon Martin case. Too many in my former party (2012-2013) were propping up as a hero the likes of a bum, George Zimmerman. Then there was the demonizing of Trayvon Martin as a pot smoking thug when he was just a kid walking home from a store. When George Zimmerman was declared “not guilty” by…

View original post 1,290 more words

There Once Was A Time …

There once was a time when the United States was a trusted ally to all the nations in the EU as well as the UK.  There once was a time when we had the respect of our allies, and even the grudging respect of some who weren’t.  There once was a time that the U.S. was considered a world leader and looked up to, looked to for solutions to global issues.  There once was a time that the U.S. had a leader. Tusk tweetWhen Donald Trump made the decision to pull the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal, he set off what will become a series of events that will inevitably re-shape global politics and alliances.  Iran has every right to be angry, for they were upholding their end of the bargain and Trump failed on his end.  The other nations in the agreement, the EU, UK, Russia, and China have the right to be angry, for Trump single-handedly destroyed an agreement without consideration for the other signers.  The citizens of the world have a right to be angry, for Trump single-handedly made the world far less safe than it was a short few days ago.

It was not that Iran wasn’t upholding their end of the deal, as Trump falsely claimed.  There was only one problem, in Trump’s mind, with the deal …trump-iran-dealThe deal was working, Iran was keeping to their promises, and there was no reason to scrap it.  However, having pulled out, the team of Trump/Bolton now plans to re-impose economic sanctions on Iran.  And if that weren’t enough, Trump is threatening to impose economic sanctions on our friends and allies if they continue to do business with Iran.  This is unconscionable behaviour from the leader of a once-respected nation!  An analogy …

I come back from the grocery one evening and I’m fed up with my local store, Kroger, because once again they were out of celery.  I’m never shopping there again!  So, I go round to all my neighbors and tell them that they must not ever shop at Kroger again.  Period.  “But, it’s only right across the street – so convenient, and we get coupons and discounts,” they reply.  Fed up, I tell them, “If you ever shop at Kroger again, I will break every window in your house … and kill your dog for good measure!”

Ludicrous?  Sure.  But it is the exact thing, only on a much smaller scale, that Donald Trump and John Bolton are doing.  Now, under the above scenario, how long do you think it will be before my neighbors run me out of da hood?  And perhaps even more importantly, if my car won’t start one morning, or I become ill, or my house catches fire … how willing do you think they would be to come to my rescue?  International relations work much the same way as personal relationships do … it is a series of give-and-takes.  Donald Trump is all about the taking, and not at all about the giving.  And this is the man who believes he deserves a Nobel Peace Prize???

trump vs alliesWhile we have alienated our allies, there are a couple of groups who are seeing Trump’s foolery in a positive light:

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wanted the United States to exit the Iran nuclear deal. He gave a televised presentation of Israeli intelligence last week that was a naked attempt to convince Trump to quit the deal.

  • Saudi Arabia’s young crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, has long opposed the agreement and mounted a quiet lobbying campaign to kill it. He has befriended Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner to lobby for his cause.


  • Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the man who makes the final decisions in Iran’s political system, always seemed inclined to favor the hardliners, Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard, over the Rouhani faction. Now Trump has given him reason to continue down that path — meaning more confrontation with Iran’s regional rivals in the Middle East and with the United States is practically certain.

map of alliesTake a look at the map above, then get out your crayons, for the colours are soon likely to change. I see the greens being exchanged with the orange/red if we stay on the current path. Trump panders to the likes of Putin, Duterte and Netanyahu, while slapping our friends.  Make no mistake … there will be a price to pay for his foolishness.  Just how great a price remains to be seen.  There is no doubt that because of Trump/Bolton, tensions will increase throughout the Middle-East.  Will it lead to a full-fledged war?  I cannot predict, but don’t rule out the possibility.  It does not appear that Trump has a strategy beyond bullying friend and foe alike, and unraveling every agreement that carries President Obama’s signature.  John Bolton has long been a graduate of the school of ‘bomb-first, talk-later’, and he is now our National Security Advisor.

Trump’s followers and the Israelis are applauding and cheering in the street.  Believe me, folks … there is nothing for us to cheer about today.  Not one single thing.

The Three Kims …

In the early hours of the morning on Thursday, May 10th, three men arrived back on U.S. soil after having been held in prisons in North Korea.  I am happy the men have been released and returned to their families, but I am disgusted by the way the situation was used as a political tool, so I had no intention of writing a post about it.  However, a friend, rawgod, asked me a series of questions about the situation that I didn’t know the answers to, yet they were good questions, so I reversed my original idea and am writing this post to answer those questions and provide whatever other information I can.

The questions:

  1. How many Americans are currently in NK prisons? How many of those are political prisoners? How many foreign nationals are in NK prisons? How many of those are political prisoners?

  2. Who are these three prisoners that were released? Are they poor people, middle class, or part of the American elite? What were their “crimes”? What were their sentences? Why were they chosen for release over those who were not chosen?

  3. What did the Orange Trumphole give up in order to get these three people released? Was it a “good faith” showing from Kim, or was it a trade, or what. Was money involved in the negotiation? We’re arms involved in any way in the negotiation?

  4. Who approached who to start this negotiation? Was the US negotiator the acter, or the reacter? Was there any other country involved in this negotiation? Who, and what part did they play?

First, let me start off by introducing these three men who, coincidentally all have the same surname, Kim, but are not related.

Kim Dong-chulKim Dong-chul is a businessman and naturalized American citizen from the Virginia suburbs of Washington. Arrested in October 2015, he had been sentenced to 10 years’ hard labor in April 2016 after being convicted of spying and other offenses. He had confessed to committing crimes against the country and pleaded for mercy.  In January 2016, he was allowed to do an interview with CNN, in which he said he used to run a trading and hotel services company in Rason, a special economic zone that North Korea operates near its borders with China and Russia. He also said he had begun spying on behalf of “South Korean conservative elements” in 2013, by bribing North Korean residents to collect data about the North’s military and its nuclear program. He said he was arrested in October while he was meeting one of his local sources, a former North Korean soldier.

Kim Sang-dukKim Sang-duk (also known as Tony Kim) had just finished spending a month teaching accounting at a Christian-funded school, Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, when in April 2017 he was arrested as he boarded a plane for home. He was charged with “hostile criminal acts with an aim to subvert the country.”

Kim Hak-songKim Hak-song was born in China near the North Korean border and emigrated to the United States in the 1990s.  He later returned to China, and later settled in Pyongyang, North Korea.  At the time of his arrest in May 2017, he had been volunteering at the agricultural research farm of the same school where Kim Sang-duk had taught.

These three were the last remaining hostages from the U.S. in North Korea.  The only other foreign nationals still being detained in North Korea are four South Koreans.  At least one had confessed to spying.  Over the years, North Korea has detained several Americans on accusations of illegal entry or spying and other “anti-state” crimes. It has often permitted them to speak to outside news media in interviews or at news conferences in Pyongyang.

They invariably confessed to committing crimes and apologized, asking North Korea for leniency and urging their governments to facilitate their release. But some told reporters after their release that officials had coerced them into making such statements.  I cannot say whether any of the three were guilty of the crimes with which they were charged, and I suspect we will never know for certain.

It does not appear that any concessions were exchanged for the release of the hostages.  It seems to be an act of ‘good faith’ on the part of Kim Jong-un, but … I have a suspicious nature, and somehow I cannot help but wonder if Kim, not Donald, is the one doing the manipulating.  The goals, I believe, that North Korea hopes to meet in his ‘summit’ with Trump in June are, a) to have the sanctions imposed by the U.S. lifted, and b) to have less U.S. involvement in the Korean Peninsula.

Pompeo clearly said that sanctions would not be lifted in a piecemeal fashion, but that Kim would have to fully de-nuclearize before sanctions would be lifted.  In any case, neither Kim nor Trump have a history of honesty and integrity, so from either perspective, I would be leery.  Seeing is believing. Based on the information I could find, the negotiations for the hostages were simply between Pompeo (acting at the direction of Trump, no doubt), and Kim.  South Korean or Japanese leaders may have had input, but I can find nothing to indicate this.

And now that I’ve given you all the pertinent facts I can glean, please allow me to editorialize for just a moment here.  I think it was crass, vulgar and in poor taste for Donald Trump to turn the hostages’ arrival back in the U.S. into a photo-opportunity, a back-patting (himself) session.  It was 3:00 a.m.  These men had been in-flight for hours, and before that had been in forced labour camps for between 1-3 years.  I’m sure all they wanted was to see their families, but no, instead they were forced to be put on display like a performing animal in a circus, and to pander to a megalomaniac.

trump takes creditTrump credits himself with the hostages’ release, but in truth, he had little to do with it.  He also said he had succeeded in getting them released, where Obama had failed.  But two of the three were taken hostage under Trump’s watch, in 2017.  Trump has also said he believes he deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for getting the hostages released.  Here is a list of hostages released from North Korea under the Obama administration:

Euna Lee
Laura Ling
Robert Park
Aijalon Gomes
Eddie Yong Su Jun
Merrill Newman
Jeffrey Fowle
Kenneth Bae
Matthew Miller
Sandra Suh
Arturo Pierre Martinez 
hostages releasedKim Jong-un is a dictator and releasing the hostages was a means to an end.  It was a display of good faith, if you wish to call it such, but on Kim’s part, not Trump’s or Pompeo’s.  And it was not done out of kindness, but rather diplomatic negotiations.

Sunday One (or two) Liners …

It is Sunday morning, and I have promised to make a nice brunch for my family.  And then I must wash my daughter’s uniforms, because otherwise she will have no pants to wear to work tomorrow.  And so, I do not have a lot of time and am going with just a few brief snippets this morning that I came across while trolling the news.


Pinocchio x2

I frequently wonder about the physical and mental well-being of republicans in Congress.  Turns out I am right to be concerned.  Take, for instance, Ohio’s representative Jim Jordan, who told Anderson Cooper last week that he has never heard Trump tell a lie.  “I’ve never heard the president… He’s always been square with me, that’s for darn sure.”  When asked to think harder, he contemplated for a moment, then said, “I don’t know of it.  Nothing comes to mind.”  This man is not only deaf, but also not too smart and does not belong in Congress!


Aliens, Anyone?

In Florida, Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera is looking to replace retiring Miami Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.  Aguilera may fit right in with the current batch in Congress, for she already lives in a world of fantasy.  Ms. Aguilera says she’s been aboard a spaceship crewed by aliens. As in extraterrestrials, not Mexicans. Three blond, big-bodied beings — two females, one male — visited her when she was 7 years old and have communicated telepathically with her several times in her life.  Among other things, she claims to know …

  • There are 30,000 skulls — “different from humans” — in a cave in the Mediterranean island of Malta.
  • The world’s “energy center” is in Africa.
  • The Coral Castle, a limestone tourist attraction South Miami-Dade, is actually an ancient Egyptian pyramid.

Great … well, as I said, she will fit right in with the others who claim that Trump is an honest and decent man … just about as much a stretch of the imagination as alien abductions.


Re-writing History?

Presumably on Trump’s orders, the Department of Homeland Security has removed 12 reports from FEMA’s (Federal Emergency Management Agency) website.  Rather like removing the phrase “climate change” from the EPA’s website, don’t you think?  The reports?  They were primarily positive evaluations of FEMA’s operations during the tenure of President Obama.  Go figure.  I wonder if the next generation, or the one after, will be able to believe anything they read about President Obama in their history books?


Trickle-Down Didn’t Trickle

First quarter reports on U.S. economic growth showed a distinct slowing of such growth.  Why?  Because consumer spending slowed to a pace not seen since 2013.  Now wait … weren’t those ‘tax cuts’ supposed to encourage people to go out and spend more money?  What happened, Donnie?

According to an article in Reuters, “Consumer spending in the last quarter was undercut by a decline in purchases of motor vehicles, clothing and footwear as well as a slowdown in food and beverages outlays.”

Hmmm … who could have predicted this?  Oh wait … I did!!!!

A footnote here … while most working people say they are seeing little, if any, difference in their paychecks, America’s biggest banks are boasting record profits.  Think about that one … more on this later.


Say WHAT?

“I would rather have the popular vote because it’s, to me, it’s much easier to win the popular vote.” – Donald Trump

Trump now says he wants to get rid of the electoral college – the very tool that put him in the Oval Office – as it is much easier to win the popular vote.  If it’s so bloomin’ easy, then why did he lose the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes???

Where is that doctor who supposedly declared him mentally fit?  Oh … yeah …


Shut up, Public!!!

Mick Mulvaney, acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) says that he is considering removing the agency’s database of consumer complaints from public view.  His excuse is that he claims it contains information that has not been vetted by the bureau and could be used unfairly against financial institutions.

Awwwww … gee golly gosh … we certainly wouldn’t wish to be unfair to the very institutions that caused the financial crisis of 2007-2008 now, would we.  We The People, after all, are not smart enough to understand that information and make our own judgments, just like Trump said we aren’t smart enough to understand his tax returns, so he just kept them private.


Well, now that I’ve managed to either make you chuckle or growl on this fine Sunday afternoon, I shall go make some mini-quiche and pancakes for my girls!  I hope you all enjoy a wonderful, relaxing Sunday afternoon!

Not Another One … 🙄

Pastor Mark Burns … ever hear of him?  He is a televangelist from South Carolina, which should tell you just about all you need to know.  Yesterday, Pastor Mark Burns threw his hat in the ring and announced his candidacy for the seat in the U.S. House of Representatives that is being vacated by Representative Trey Gowdy. Burns was, and is, a staunch supporter of Donald Trump.  He claims he had usually voted Democratic, which included support for Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, saying “I’m not ashamed to say that as a black man I wanted the first black man to enter the office.” But he later said, in 2016, he had “seen the light.” Of Trump he said “He’s a smart man. He knows authenticity. I believe he knows and recognizes real character.”  Hey, Burns … if you really believe that, I have a beautiful bridge I’ll sell you real cheap!

Now, Burns is likely to fit right into today’s Congress, for he is a well-experienced liar. Here is just a sampling of his many lies:

  • Burns claimed to have held a bachelor of science degree from North Greenville University. According to the University, Burns attended only one semester.
  • He said he spent six years in the U.S. Army Reserve. He actually spent four years in the South Carolina National Guard, an entirely different and unrelated organization.
  • He claims to have attended Andersonville Theological Seminary, though there is no evidence of it and he is unable or unwilling to clarify.
  • Burns claimed he was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi, a national historically black fraternity, but again, there is no evidence. When confronted with this one, he replied that he had “started the process” but did not complete even the initiation.

When confronted with all these lies on his church website, he admitted that he had lied and had unacceptably exaggerated his education, but said he was attacked because he is “a black man supporting Donald Trump for president.”  Awwwww, pobrecito!

In addition to being a liar, he is not a very nice man.  At a Trump rally in North Carolina, he mocked and criticized Bernie Sanders for being Jewish.  In 2016, he retweeted a digitally manipulated image of Hillary Clinton in blackface.  He was later interviewed on CNN and asked about the tweet.  His reply?

“I think at the time I did my initial tweet was to reinforce my position as to point out why this particular candidate Hillary Clinton is not really good for the African-American community, because the Democrat party automatically assumes they own the black vote, they own that voting bloc. And because they already know that voting bloc belongs to them, very little change takes place.”

I didn’t sense any apology in there, but he did tweet a half-assed apology:

“I’m so sorry for the offensive #Blackface image of @HillaryClinton but stand by the message that we Blacks ARE being Used by #Dems for VOTES”

In my view, an ‘apology’ that contains the qualifier “but”, is no apology at all.

Back in November 2017, ahead of the Alabama special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions, Burns actually defended Roy Moore, saying that morality isn’t the only quality that makes a good leader.  This, from a church pastor? Wouldn’t you expect a self-proclaimed Christian to have a bit of a problem supporting a pedophile?

Mr. Burns also fails to understand the word racism, if this tweet from January is any indicator:

“Racism isn’t really about COLOR, Racism has always been about the HAVES verses the HAVE NOTS. And President @realDonaldTrump is raising the HAVE NOTS to the same level as the HAVES.  In Today’s society, A Poor White Person gets treated the same as a Poor Black Person.” – 9:45 AM – Jan 24, 2018 · Easley, SC

SAY WHAT????

In announcing his intent to run for U.S. House of Representatives, he stated his reason, at least in part, as “We need to combat the leftist, liberal and even socialist ideology that’s dividing our nation.”  Rather reminiscent of the speech he gave at the Republican National Convention in 2016, where he thanked God for “guiding [Trump], giving him the words to the unite the party, this country, that we together can defeat the liberal Democratic Party.”  Unite the country?  Did he really say that?

And good old Mr. Burns attempted to defend Trump’s recent remarks about “shithole countries”.  I won’t even repeat his rationale there, for even after reading and re-reading it multiple times, it made no sense.

There are, at present, 13 other republicans running for this seat, and 4 democrats.  It is almost a certainty that the district will remain in the hands of the republicans, since all 4 democrats are newcomers with no government experience … they include an electrician, a businessman, a graduate student and a financial expert.  District 4, like almost all of South Carolina, is predominantly republican.  Some believe that Burns has the best chance, due to his close ties with Trump.  Let us hope that the voters are fed up enough with Trump for that alliance to work against, rather than for, Mr. Burns, for we do not need his ilk in the Capitol next year.  He is exactly the type we are trying to get rid of!

He Can Read Trump’s Mind???

You remember ol’ Sheriff Joe, right?  That would be Joe Arpaio … former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona.  What?  You’ve forgotten about him already?  He won Filosofa’s Idiot of the Week Award (that reminds me … I haven’t done one of those yet this year!) on October 18, 2016.  A bit of a memory-refresher …

  • Sheriff Arpaio calls himself “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” though the New York Times has aptly dubbed him “America’s Worst Sheriff.”

  • He was accused of abuse of power, misuse of funds, failure to investigate sex crimes, improper clearance of cases, racial profiling, unlawful enforcement of immigration laws, and election law violations, among others.

  • arpaio-3In 2008, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) brought suit against Arpaio for unconstitutional jail conditions, charging that “Arpaio routinely abused pre-trial detainees at Maricopa County Jail by feeding them moldy bread, rotten fruit and other contaminated food, housing them in cells so hot as to endanger their health, denying them care for serious medical and mental health needs and keeping them packed as tightly as sardines in holding cells for days at a time during intake.”

  • In 2008 and again in 2010, Arpaio was ordered by the courts to end the overcrowding and to ensure all detainees receive necessary medical and mental health care, be given uninterrupted access to all medications prescribed by correctional medical staff, be given access to exercise and to sinks, toilets, toilet paper and soap, and be served food that meets or exceeds the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s dietary guidelines. Arpaio made the statement that even if he had a billion dollars he wouldn’t change the way he runs his jails. Arpaio has said his jails are meant as places for punishment, and that the inhabitants are all criminals.

  • In October 2016, Federal prosecutors charged Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County with criminal contempt of court, saying he willfully defied a judge’s orders to stop targeting Latinos — including citizens and legal immigrants — in traffic stops and other law enforcement efforts, behavior the judge said showed a pattern of discriminatory policing. He was convicted, but …

Arpaio-TrumpOn August 25, 2017, Donald Trump used his executive authority to unconscionably pardon Joe Arpaio of his crimes.  Almost immediately thereafter, the 85-year-old Arpaio announced that he would run for U.S. Senate.  Most analysts agreed early on that his candidacy would be a gift to the democrats, for he would divide the republican vote, neatly handing what had previously been a republican seat over to the democratic candidate.  In many ways, Arpaio’s run closely resembles that of Alabama’s Roy Moore last December.  The only thing missing is the accusations of pedophilia and sexual abuse, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see those before November.

Trump’s pardon, predictably, bought Arpaio’s undying loyalty, lock, stock and barrel.  Arpaio even claims a cosmic bond with Trump:

“I can read his mind without even talking to him. I think he may be reading mine. Is there something that goes through the airwaves? Mental telepathy?”

Seriously???  What murky places those two minds must be!!!

In truth, Arpaio and Trump do share some similarities.  Both are obsessed with their media coverage, they both claim they are persecuted by ‘biased’ judges, they share an affinity for reality television and a focus on railing against immigrant threats.  They even share a June 14th birthday.  And they are both bigoted old white men.

Also like Trump, Arpaio has a bloated ego …

“Actually, the president should make me the press secretary. That would be a great combination, what a great combination. I’ll have all those reporters eating out of my hand, you know that.”

And also like Trump, Arpaio is still obsessed with President Barack Obama.  He jumped on the birther bandwagon early on, and even though Trump finally dropped that one, admitted that he knew all along that Obama was born in the U.S., Arpaio continues to promote the theory that Obama was born elsewhere.  Not only that, but he claims that Obama never attended Harvard Law School.

The seat Arpaio is running for is the one being vacated by Senator Jeff Flake, who announced his retirement last October.  However, there may be a second seat open in Arizona in November, that of Senator John McCain, who is battling brain cancer and has been absent from Washington since December.  If he should announce his retirement before May, then that seat will also be up for grabs in November.

Arizona remains a ‘red’ state, although in 2016, Trump won by a relatively low margin (3.5%).  However, with the dilution of the GOP ticket, there may well be room for a democratic senator.  The GOP primary will be held on August 28th.

Arpaio isn’t the only controversial (I’m being nice here) candidate running for the senate seat.  There is also Craig Brittain, owner-operator of a porn website and self-professed ‘anarcho-capitalist’ (whatever that is).  He wants to end all taxation.  I’m not sure how he plans for his salary to be paid?  He also wants to eliminate most of the important federal agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission, Federal Communications Commission, Internal Revenue Service, United Nations, Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Reserve, Transportation Security Administration, Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  Well, he certainly won’t be much competition for anybody, will he?  Though I imagine there are a few who would vote for him.

brittain.png

Craig Brittain

Arpaio is unlikely to win the senate seat, but in at least two polls, he is closely trailing Martha McSally, one of the two front-runners for the GOP nomination.  It is said that Arpaio’s memory is slipping, and when he was asked how many members there are in Congress, he answered: 356.  There are 535.  And when he made another faux pas, he responded, “Sometimes I am my own worst enemy with diarrhea of the mouth, especially with the media. Is Trump like that?”

The GOP is reportedly not excited by the prospect of Arpaio’s candidacy and many of his recent comments, especially the one about reading Trump’s mind, and vice versa, are causing them to lose sleep at night.  Ah well, sorry GOP, but you opened the door to the nutcases, now you can sleep with them.  And finally, Arpaio’s main reason for running …

“I am running now because of Trump. Because he needs help.”

 

The Puppeteer

Disclaimer:  The story you are about to read is fiction, a product of the bouncing mind of Filosofa, and to the best of my knowledge, none of the following conversations took place, though similar ones may or may not have.

The exact date is unimportant, but it was sometime around mid-2014, when Russian President Vladimir Putin was enjoying a nice supper with two of his closest advisors.  They were discussing Barack Obama and the United States, supposedly an ally, but not acting very much like one, in Putin’s view. seperatorFRANCE-RUSSIA-US-POLITICS-DIPLOMACYPutin:  America’s interference in Iraq and Libya have led to regime changes that give our people ideas.  I do not like it!  The United States needs to stay on its own side of the globe and President Obama needs to tend to his business at home and stop meddling in our business.  Imposing sanctions for what he considers to be human rights violations!  Pah! Я бы удар его задницу!!!

Advisor #1:  Well, Obama has only two more years, and then there will be a new president.  I hear that clown that has some television show in America where he goes around firing people and screaming “You’re fired!!!” is thinking about entering the race.

Putin:  Really?  You mean that … oh, what is his name … Chump?

Advisor #2:  I believe it is Trump … Donald Trump.

Putin:  Oh yes, that’s it!  Both of you, work on a dossier … I want to know everything there is to know about this man, his businesses, his family, his connections, even down to what brand of toilet tissue he buys!  I’m getting a seed of an idea …  Have that dossier on my desk no later than Monday morning!seperatorThe following Monday, Putin meets again with his advisors after reading the information they provided earlier that day.

advisorsPutin: Excellent information!  I just got off the phone with Sergey Kislyak, and he is going to schedule a meeting with this Donald Chump later this week.  From what I have read in your reports, the man is not only an egomaniac, but not a very bright one!  He spends more time in bankruptcy court than he does managing his businesses, he has had as many failures as successes.  He is also a liar and a cheat, according to everyone who has ever done business with him, including his own ex-wife!  Perfect … absolutely perfect for what I have in mind!

Advisor #2: And what exactly is it that you have in mind, sir?  The man, after all, is a bumbling fool whose own ego matters more to him than anything else.

Putin:  Exactly!!!  He is as pliable as clay, and his ego is his Achilles heel.  My plan, you ask?  My plan is to make certain that Donald Trump becomes the next president of the United States!

Advisor #1:  Brilliant, Mr. President!

Advisor #2:  Brilliant, Mr. President!

Putin:  By dangling shiny objects in front of him and at the same time, stroking his massive ego, he will become our puppet.  Those sanctions that Obama has imposed will disappear, and Mr. Trump will do our bidding!

Advisor #2:  But Mr. President, if you don’t mind my asking, how do you plan to ensure this Mr. Trump is elected?  American elections are very democratic.

Putin:  The details I will leave to the two of you.  You may utilize any staff and any other resources you may need, but it is your job for the next two years to ensure that the election in November 2016 goes to the fool with the bad hair.  Once you have carried out your mission, I will be able to control the puppet we have placed in the White House in Washington D.C.

putin puppeteerseperatorIt is now 02 March 2016.  A lot has happened in the nine months since Trump announced his candidacy, and Putin is once again having a nice dinner at the famed Mari Vanna restaurant with his two advisors.

Putin:  Tonight, we celebrate, yes?  Our Chump has taken the bait and I don’t know how you’ve done it, but the fool just won 7 of the 11 states that vote on Super Tuesday!  You will see a little something extra in your pay stockings this week!

Advisor #1:  Thank you, Mr. President.  It hasn’t been easy, for Trump seems to wish to bring about his own downfall on a near-daily basis!  He offends literally everyone with his crassness and disrespect for all.

Advisor #2:  We have paid agitators at all his rallies, and that has helped, for once they start chanting “Lock her up!”, he re-focuses on his diatribe against Ms. Clinton and we are able to bring him back on track.

Putin:  You’ve done well, but the hardest part is still ahead of us, and that is getting enough votes.  How is the advertising campaign coming?

Advisor #1:  We have set up accounts all over social media, and it is successful beyond our wildest imaginings!  People are actually believing nearly everything we tell them!  I never knew how pliable, how gullible, the American people are!

Putin:  Well you must understand this … they are greedy to a fault.  If you tell them that they are so underpaid, that they deserve so much better, and that Trump is the answer, that he will make them wealthy, they will believe it because they want to believe it.  They want it to be so.  And the hacking of the voting machines?

Advisor #2:  That is not coming quite as well, sir.  The security is excellent, and of the 21 states whose machines we have attempted to breach, only two have been minimally successful, Illinois and Arizona.  We have our best cyber-techs on it, and have even hired assistance from, believe it or not, Silicon Valley!  As well, of course, as the Swiss.

Putin:  Okay, it is clear that we will not have as much impact as we would like in that area, but don’t give up!  We must focus, then, on making sure the people are convinced that Ms. Clinton, whom is actually quite nice, but far too smart, is seen as a criminal with much to hide, and that Mr. Chump, er, Trump, is seen as the one who will make all their dreams come true.  Have you been successful in making contact within the Trump camp?

Assistant #1:  Yes sir, that has been quite successful, and we are told that Trump’s grown children play a major part in his campaign, and even better, that they are no more intelligent than Trump himself, so we are hoping to soon be able to make direct contact with one or possibly two of them.

Putin:  And you have been acquiring the information to use as blackmail if needs be, yes?

Assistant #2:  Of course, sir.  Once elected, he will do our bidding in the areas that concern us, as we will have him ‘by the short hairs’, as they say in the U.S.  In other areas, we will leave him to his own devices.

Putin:  Perfect!  I am well pleased by your work and I think we will be celebrating on the ninth of November!

seperatorRussia's President Putin holds a glass during a ceremony of receiving diplomatic credentials from foreign ambassadors at the Kremlin in MoscowThere were many more meetings over the course of the next nine months, but let us fast forward to November 9th, at 9:00 a.m. Moscow time, 1:00 a.m. in Washington D.C.  Putin and his advisors are once again meeting, and when the advisors arrive, Putin has a huge bottle of champagne waiting.

Putin:  Well, gentlemen, we did it!  We have pulled off the biggest heist in the history of mankind!  We literally stole an election!  There is still much work to be done, however you both must take a vacation for two weeks and recharge, for we now embark on the next phase.

Advisor #1:  {groans}  Yes sir, thank you very much President Putin.

Advisor #2:  {groans}  And what, sir, is the next phase, if I am permitted to ask?

Putin:  Chaos.  We must create so much chaos within the two parties and among the people, in the halls of Congress, that they cannot agree with each other on virtually anything!

Advisor #2:  And might I ask the goal of this chaos campaign?

Putin:  To keep the people of the United States from coming together, discussing ideas, and perhaps figuring out that Donald Trump is a crass fool who cannot fulfill his promises to them, and had no intention of doing so anyway.  It wouldn’t be hard to figure out if they simply stopped screaming at each other and talked, so we must keep the chaos at a high level, keep them biting and snarling at each other, and give the Chump free reign, for he will inadvertently play along with our plan!  {sips champagne}  And now, gentlemen, I must make some calls, if you will excuse me?  Enjoy your vacations!

happy putinseperator

Sleep well tonight, my friends.