A ‘Letter’ From Trump to MAGA’s

These days, we often find ourselves saying, “You have to laugh about it, else you’ll cry”. Our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters has written a great bit of satire in the form of a letter from Trump to his ‘fans’, that I think will give you a chuckle … at least until you stop and think about it. Thank you, Jeff, for adding a bit of humour to our day!

On The Fence Voters

A confidential letter from Donald J. Trump to his supporters … P.S, please don’t tell the fake news.

Dear MAGA’s,

Hello everyone. As you know, in a few days we’ll be celebrating the anniversary of the most miraculous day in the history of modern civilization. That’s right. Thanks to all of you and my pal Vladimir, I was elected to serve as your President of the United States of America. Almost instantly, our country went from being the laughing stock of the world, to well, a bigger laughingstock of the world.

Soon though, our calendar will switch to a new year, 2020. And you all know what that means, right? Yes, your favorite little President is running for reelection, and I’m going to need your help again to stave off the radical socialist Democrats. I know I can count on you.

From time to time over the next year, I’m…

View original post 1,184 more words

‘Toons

I think it’s about time we found some humour in all the muck going on in this country today, don’t you?  Three things are big news this week:  ACA, also known as Obamacare, and the republican’s urge to ensure that some 20 million people will have no access to health care; Jussie Smollett’s sudden and mysterious exoneration; and of course the Mueller report, Barr’s slowness in releasing the entire report, and Trump’s false claim that he was cleared of any wrongdoing.  Let’s see what the talented cartoonists have done with these …

First, the Smollett case …

Escaping chargessmollettsmollet-3amollett-2

ACA?  Obamacare?  Trumpcare?

aca-1aca-2aca-3aca-4aca-5

And of course the biggest news of the day spawns the most ‘toons …

barr-1barr-2barr-3barr-4barr-5barr-6barr-7barr-8barr-9barr-10barr-12

And a few random ‘toons …

boeingBruce Plante Cartoon: A Betsy DeVos SpecialMike-LeeSelf-regulationtrump-1trump-2

They Just Keep Coming … Snarky Snippets

While I’ve always been known for having a quick comeback, and rarely at a loss for words, sometimes snarky, acerbic words, I have never in all my life had as much cynicism and snarkiness bubbling from my being as I do these days!  I hope you aren’t tiring yet of snarky snippets, for they just keep rolling right off my fingertips!  Whatever will I do if things ever return to a semi-normal state in this world?sarcasm-quote-1


Surely you jest!

This morning, when I opened The Washington Post’s website, the first headline I saw was this:

With social program fights, some in GOP fear being seen as the party of the 1 percent

And I darn near choked on my coffee!  “Seen as the party of the 1 percent”?  No, they are the party of the 1%!

“A spate of policy moves in recent weeks by Republican lawmakers and Trump administration officials has driven the party’s agenda hard to the right, giving new fodder to Democratic presidential candidates eager to shift the national debate to such issues as health care and jobs ahead of the 2020 election.

The administration’s budget released this month, for example, includes massive rollbacks of programs including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security Disability Insurance, as well as cuts to the Special Olympics, Meals on Wheels, and programs related to autism and other developmental disabilities.

The policy blitz reflects the deeply conservative agenda at the core of Trump’s administration. It is led by many influential aides and appointees who are unflinching ideologues, even as Trump prefers to call himself a “nationalist” or a businessman with “common sense.”

Coupled with fallout from the 35-day government shutdown that ended in January and a GOP tax plan that delivered major benefits to the wealthy, Republicans once again find themselves on the defensive — fending off Democrats who say they’re not just the party of Trump but also of the rich and powerful.”

class-systemThus far, ever since 2010, I have not seen so much as an ounce of compassion for those who are, shall we say, less than wealthy, from the Republican Party.  I think that what Bill O’Reilly said after the Las Vegas massacre speaks their motto best:  “This is the price of freedom.” No, republicans, this is the price for letting a bunch of greedy, wealthy old men run the country.


Who does he think he is???

Did you hear that Trump wants The Washington Post and the New York Times to have their Pulitzer prizes rescinded?  Why?  Because the joint prize was awarded for their coverage of the Mueller investigation.  Ahem. Who does he think he is and in what country does he think he is living?  Would one of his staff please slap his face a few times and wake him up?

“So funny that The New York Times & The Washington Post got a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage (100% NEGATIVE and FAKE!) of Collusion with Russia – And there was No Collusion! So, they were either duped or corrupt? In any event, their prizes should be taken away by the Committee!”

fascism.jpgThe New York Times’ communications team tweeted: “We’re proud of our Pulitzer-prize winning reporting on Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. Every @nytimes article cited has proven accurate.”

Don Junior re-tweeted Trump’s tweet … of course … he is naught but a parrot.


NEVER another Trump in the White House!!!

Kushner IncSpeaking of Junior … a new book was published two weeks ago by British-born author Vicky Ward, titled Kushner, Inc., about Jared and Ivanka’s “rise to power”.  I have not read the book, nor am I likely to, but one thing I found interesting in the synopsis I read is that Junior and Ivanka are in a bit of a dispute … over which will be the next Trump in the White House.  I was horrified!  One Trump in the White House has been one too many!  NEVER AGAIN!!! 

According to the summary of the book …

“Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are the self-styled Prince and Princess of America. Their swift, gilded rise to extraordinary power in Donald Trump’s White House is unprecedented and dangerous. In Kushner, Inc., investigative journalist Vicky Ward digs beneath the myth the couple has created, depicting themselves as the voices of reason in an otherwise crazy presidency, and reveals that Jared and Ivanka are not just the President’s chief enablers: they, like him, appear disdainful of rules, of laws, and of ethics. They are entitled inheritors of the worst kind; their combination of ignorance, arrogance, and an insatiable lust for power has caused havoc all over the world, and may threaten the democracy of the United States.jared-ivankaWard follows their trajectory from New Jersey and New York City to the White House, where the couple’s many forays into policy-making and national security have mocked long-standing U.S. policy and protocol. They have pursued an agenda that could increase their wealth while their actions have mostly gone unchecked. In Kushner, Inc., Ward holds Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump accountable: she unveils the couple’s self-serving transactional motivations and how those have propelled them into the highest levels of the US government where no one, the President included, has been able to stop them.”

Go figure.


Betsy, Betsy, Betsy … 🙄

Ms. DeVos may have been thrown under the bus regarding her budget line that would have de-funded the Special Olympics, but that doesn’t stop her from coming up with still more really ridiculous ideas.  The latest?  She has decided, contrary to decades of study and data, that a higher student-to-teacher ratio (ie., larger classes, fewer teachers) is actually better for students.  But then, remember, this is the same woman who long ago advocated guns in classrooms in case of a bear attack!

“There is no evidence that the Federal taxpayer investments in existing professional development programs or class-size reduction have meaningfully improved student outcomes. In fact, students may be better served by being in larger classes, if by hiring fewer teachers, a district or state can better compensate those who have demonstrated high ability and outstanding results.”

When asked where she got that information, DeVos was unable to cite any research or study.  Take a look for yourself

And THIS is the Secretary of Education???  Seriously???  Oh my aching head.


Okay folks, I’ve taken up enough of your weekend, so I now return you to your regularly scheduled … or preferably spontaneous … weekend activities!  Have fun!

Betsy DeVos As Cruella DeVille

Trump and his minions surely do know how to win friends and influence people, don’t they?  The latest slap in the face by the current bunch came from Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education, who has decided she would like to end the Special Olympics!

Special Olympics in the U.S. began in the 1950s and early 1960s, when Eunice Kennedy Shriver saw how unjustly and unfairly people with intellectual disabilities were treated. She also saw that many children with intellectual disabilities didn’t even have a place to play. She decided to take action.Eunice-Shriver-Special-OlympicsSoon, Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s vision began to take shape. She held a summer day camp for young people with intellectual disabilities in her own backyard. The goal was to learn what these children could do in sports and other activities – and not dwell on what they could not do.

Throughout the 1960s, Eunice Kennedy Shriver continued her pioneering work. She was the driving force behind President John F. Kennedy’s White House panel on people with ID. She directed the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation. Her vision and drive for justice grew into the Special Olympics movement.

Special-olympics-1

For the first time in history, people with intellectual disabilities were placed on a podium and publicly rewarded in recognition of their athletic abilities.  Courtesy Special Olympics

The first Special Olympics hosted 1,000 athletes from the U.S. and Canada. In the years that followed, the event achieved greater recognition from the Olympic Committee and from athletes and advocates around the world, and it expanded to include winter events as well. By 2006, by the sponsoring organization’s official count, there were 2.5 million participating Special Olympics athletes worldwide.specialy-olympics-2The proposal to cut all funding for the Special Olympics came as a part of DeVos’ budget proposal that would cut $8.5 billion, or about 12%, from the department’s budget.  What makes anybody in their right mind think that cutting funds from education is a good idea???  This country has been slipping in the worldwide rankings for education for years now, and ol’ Betsy wants to cut it more?

In addition to eliminating the Special Olympics program, other programs to be cut would be after-school activities for children in impoverished communities, as well as a grant program for textbooks, equipment, counseling services and other needs for schools, as well as school safety efforts, including mental-health services and safety equipment.

Note, however, that her budget proposal does include $5 billion to help children attend private schools. She refers to the initiative as “education freedom.”  The proposal would give individuals and corporations a 100 percent tax credit for contributions to state-sanctioned scholarship funds, meaning that donors could get back their entire donation through federal taxes. The money would be given to students to help pay tuition at private schools and other expenses.

Betsy DeVosSo, let’s put this in context.  Children with disabilities do not matter.  Children from families who are not wealthy do not matter.  The safety of our children does not matter.  Education in the United States, under the Trump administration, under the uber-wealthy Betsy DeVos, is for the children of already-privileged, wealthy families.

Fortunately, DeVos’ budget proposal is likely to be shredded in Congress and Betsy will be told to go back to the drawing board and try again.  Some comments from members of Congress:

“Cuts to autism funding and ending all for @SpecialOlympics is outrageous. When I was chair of the House Budget Cmte, we worked to balance the budget & these types of programs were off limits – for good reason. Hope ldrs in DC stop this ridiculous proposal.” – John Kasich, former Governor of Ohio

“I still can’t understand why you would go after disabled children in your budget. It’s appalling.” – Barbara Lee, U.S. Representative from California

“I believe this budget is cruel, and I believe it is reckless. I really am left with a very serious question for you: How can you support this budget? I mean that genuinely.” – Rosa DeLauro, U.S. Representative from Connecticut, and Chairperson of the education subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee

special-olympicsAlso fortunately, the Special Olympics in the U.S. do not depend entirely on funding by the Department of Education, but losing federal funding would certainly deal a blow to the program.  The bigger picture is that Ms. DeVos – the entire Trump administration – obviously views education as a ‘privilege’ for only the wealthy.  Since when was it decided that children who, simply by luck of the draw, were born into families with lots of money, had more value than others?

It should be noted that DeVos and her husband’s net worth is estimated at $5.5 billion. Pick on someone your own size, Betsy DeVos!

 

Your Tax Dollars To Buy Guns …

I think that most of us with reasonably sound minds agreed some time ago that arming teachers, having guns in schools, was just a bad … really bad … idea. Those of us, that is, who believe the purpose of schools is to educate.  Those of us who do not believe the NRA mantra that “a good guy with a gun …”. Those of us who have not fallen prey to the horseshit that has been spewed by the NRA that more guns make for a safer society.

We The People also realize that our current education system is falling into disrepair, that not enough money is allocated to do the job our schools need to do, and since Betsy DeVos became Secretary of Education, money has been diverted away from public schools and into her own pet projects, mainly charter schools that serve very few.

gun-pointingSo, what next, you may ask?  Ms. DeVos is proposing to take more money away from schools and use it to buy guns to arm teachers and staff in schools.  After the Parkland school shooting, students and activists urged the government to implement gun regulations, to make guns harder to get, but instead, Donald Trump who is a boot-licker to the NRA, called for more guns in schools!  A child could tell you this makes no sense.

“I want a hardened school. I would like to see true people with great talent at guns, being adept at guns, of which there is only a percentage of people. You can’t hire enough security guards.”

Oh for Pete’s Sake …

Research has shown that arming teachers or increasing the number of armed guards in schools will not keep students safer and may actually lead to more shooting deaths.

  • Armed personnel would have little chance of stopping a shooter
  • The more guns in schools, the higher the chances of deadly accidents or unintended casualties

In March, a month after the Parkland shooting, the House of Representatives passed the “Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act of 2018” that would have authorized grants to train students, law enforcement and teachers to identify the signs of school violence before it occurs.  Sensible legislation, especially given that in the case of the Parkland shooting, there were warning signs that were overlooked or misunderstood.  Such training might have saved the lives of those 17 students and teachers who died that day.  But the bill died in the Senate.

The Department of Education currently controls $1 billion that is set aside for Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grants.  The grants are intended for academic and enrichment opportunities in the country’s poorest schools, and can be used for three specific purposes:

  • Promoting a well-rounded education
  • Improving school conditions
  • Ensuring the effective use of technology

None of these would cover the purchase of guns in my book, but in the mind of Ms. DeVos and her fellow fools, they believe that it would be classified as ‘improving school conditions’.  Oh yes, by all means, more guns floating around in lockers, teachers’ desks, and untrained hands will almost certainly lead to improved school conditions.

I no longer have children in school, but as a taxpayer, parent and a grandparent, I have knowledge and am entitled to my opinion.  Frankly, if I did have a child in a public school that was either arming teachers or hiring armed guards, I would remove my child from that school immediately.

The purpose of schools is to provide education, not to become a firing range.  Money allocated to schools should be spent wisely on hiring excellent teachers, purchasing textbooks, renewing and upgrading equipment, providing materials so that teachers do not have to spend their own money to do so.

For once, Congress was spurred to action and yesterday morning (Thursday), Senator Chris Murphy introduced an amendment to a massive funding bill up for a final vote as soon as Thursday afternoon that would block the Department of Education from allowing school districts using federal funds to purchase firearms.

“I’m introducing legislation today to block the arming of teachers, and I do so knowing that earlier this year, Democrats and Republicans in Congress came together to pass a bill that expressly opposed putting guns in the hands of teachers. Congress doesn’t think this is a good idea. Parents don’t think this is a good idea. Teachers don’t think this is a good idea.”

A voice with some common sense, but Senator Murphy is a democrat.  Will this proposal fly with the republicans in Congress?  I suppose it depends on how strong the link between them and the NRA still is.  The ranking Democrat on the House Education Committee, Representative Robert C. Scott of Virginia, said granting state requests to use federal funds for firearms would be “openly violating the spirit of the law as well as common sense about gun safety.”

“Redirecting that money to arm teachers and school staff will recklessly endanger the safety of both students and educators, while robbing underserved students of the support and opportunity they deserve.”

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said …

“We knew Betsy DeVos would try to do the bidding of the National Rifle Association and the gun manufacturers, but to even consider diverting resources used to support poor kids to flood schools with more guns is beyond the recklessness we believed she was willing to pursue.”

There was a time that this notion would have been laughed off the table and DeVos would have been quickly replaced for even suggesting such a thing.  But then, that was a time when DeVos would never have been given the position she is in.  That was a time when we had a legitimate government that remembered to whom they answered.

What Next???

trump thinksWhat is he thinking???  Oh wait … Donald Trump does not think; Donald Trump acts purely on the emotion of the moment, said emotion typically being profit or revenge.

Today it is announced that he plans to ‘overhaul’ the federal government and the core of this ‘overhaul’ will be to combine the departments of Education and Labour.  Please note that while the fruits of one ultimately feed the other, these two absolutely do not go hand-in-hand.  It would be impossible to find a person to lead this new department, for what qualifies one does not the other.  Oh … that’s right … qualifications for a position are irrelevant in Trumplandia.  According to Mick Mulvaney, head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the two departments are “overlapping and duplicative”.  Mick, obviously, is not the brightest bulb in the pack.

Now, here is the really disturbing part for those of us who believe that the goal of education is to open minds, to teach young people to think, to understand the world (or at least try to) and to develop into active citizens who can participate and contribute to the democratic process and American society. The main goal, apparently, of this departmental merger is to “allow the Trump administration to focus its efforts to train students in vocational skills in one place.”  In other words, start preparing them at a very early age for their ‘vocation’ in life.  Rather than introducing them to a wide world of possibilities, train them, give them the skills for a job when they leave school.  Does anybody else feel a chill here?

school to workPicture this:  The ‘labour’ portion of the department determines that in ten years there will be a shortage of … oh, say bricklayers.  So, the ‘education’ side of the department begins focusing more on teaching bricklaying skills.  Yes, yes, that is a ridiculous example, but … you see my point?  Rather than opening young people’s minds, the focus appears to be on directing, or guiding young people into the bins the government decides they belong in.

The Education Department is the smallest Cabinet agency in number of employees, with just under 4,000, and a $68 billion budget. It oversees federal student loans, distributes K-12 education funding, and enforces federal civil rights laws at public schools and colleges.  Think about this:  your son/daughter is about to graduate high school and is planning for college.  He is undecided just what path he wants to take in life, so is planning to begin with a Liberal Arts program to gain some insight.  But … he cannot get a student loan.  He could get a student loan if he were interested in studying brick-laying, but the government directs what academic pathways it will or will not support.  So, the young person who wishes to study philosophy or history will only be able to do so if he can fund it himself.  The only people, ultimately, who would be well-educated enough to hold high public offices would be … wait for it … the wealthy!!!

I focus here on the effects this plan would have on education, but there are also concerns by trade unions and others that such things as worker safety, minimum wage laws and fair labour laws would suffer.

The Republican Party has long wanted to do away with the Department of Education altogether. In 2016, Donald Trump said that the Department of Education “is massive and it can be largely eliminated.”  This from a man who is ‘largely’ uneducated and cannot manage to string together a coherent sentence! And his choice for Secretary of this department, Betsy DeVos, has long advocated elimination of the department. DevosDetails have not been made available, so I can only generalize here, but I have grave concerns, knowing the mentality of the current administration, of any reorganization attempts.  We have come to understand that the intentions of Trump & Co are not pure, do not have the best interests of the nation and its people at heart, and that we are being lied to multiple times every single day.  Think about this one for a moment:  It is much easier to pull the wool over the eyes of the un-and-under-educated than those who have been exposed to a wealth of ideas and know how to interpret data and think for themselves.

Most analysts believe that Trump’s attempt to merge these two departments will fail, for it requires the approval of Congress, and with the mid-terms on the horizon, it is not likely to be a popular proposal.  Nonetheless, I am disturbed that it is even being proposed.  What next?

Schools Say ‘OK’ to Racism under DeVos/Trump

African-American students in Bryan, Texas, are four times more likely to be suspended than white students.  Even black preschool students are more than three times as likely as their white peers to be suspended from school. Why?  Well, the Department of Education was investigating to try to find the answer to that question.  Was.  And then along came Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

Betsy DeVosWith more than 1,500 complaints of racial discrimination in schools across the nation between 2011-2017, the Department of Education under President Obama launched investigations nationwide, from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Oakland, California.  And yes, even Bryan, Texas.  It is nothing short of systemic racism.  DeVos, however, ordered at least 65 such investigations halted, and ordered investigators to limit proactive civil rights probes rather than expanding them.

Bryan, Texas, has a history of discrimination.  When the Supreme Court ordered school de-segregation in 1954 as a result of Brown v Board of Education of Topeka, the town of Bryan thought the law excluded them, and refused to comply.  Only when one parent filed and won a federal lawsuit in 1963, nearly a decade after the Brown decision, did the courts order Bryan to de-segregate … one grade per year.  Progress comes slow, especially to small, southern towns.school racism-2Which brings us to today, where black students in Bryan are four times as likely to be ticketed, arrested, suspended or expelled as their classmates with lighter skin.  Black students are also less likely to be selected for honours classes or given awards.

When DeVos was asked during her disastrous interview for 60 Minutes about institutional racism in the schools, she replied, “We’re studying it carefully. And are committed to making sure students have opportunity to learn in safe and nurturing environments.”  Would this ‘studying it carefully’ be the same studies that she has ordered to be halted, such as the one in Bryan?

And now, let me tell you what happened to 13-year-old Trah’Vaeziah in Bryan last October.

Trah’Vaeziah Jackson, a student at Arthur L. Davila Middle School in Bryan, was frequently a victim of bullying – so much so that her mother, Yvola Polk, made frequent trips to the school to protest that the school was doing nothing to keep her daughter, and others like her (black) safe.  The school eventually sent a police officer to Ms. Polk’s home where he issued her a warning citation for trespassing. Trah_Vaeziah JacksonBut back to Trah’Vaeziah and her ordeal on a Friday afternoon last October.  The class was doing some sort of craft project involving hot glue guns and popsicle sticks in the hallway outside their classroom.  The teacher was inside the classroom and could not see the children.  As will happen when children are left unsupervised, a bit of horse play, some joking around started.  Long story short, Trah’Vaeziah accidentally burned another child’s arm with a popsicle stick that had hot glue on it.  The burn was not serious, the other child stated that they were just playing and teasing, but guess where Trah’Vaeziah was sent.  Yes, to the principal’s office, but only long enough to wait for the school police officer to come and escort Trah’Vaeziah to the Brazos County Juvenile Justice Center.

Once there, she cried as employees patted her down, cut off her hair extensions, and took her photo and fingerprints. She was served dinner — chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes and an apple in a plastic container with a carton of milk — but had no appetite.  Trah’Vaeziah had not yet been allowed to contact her mother – remember that this is a child of 13 years!  In the shower room, guards applied thick anti-lice shampoo to Trah’Vaeziah’s hair. As she washed and combed it, clumps fell out. Afterwards, she reluctantly changed from her school clothes, a T-shirt and jeans, into the detention uniform, an orange shirt with matching shorts. Then she was locked in her cell, which contained a sink, a toilet, and, instead of a bed, a stuffed blue mat atop a brick base. High on the wall was a sliver of a window, but she wasn’t tall enough to see outside.

It was after 8:00 p.m. when she was finally allowed to call her mother. She was held in the juvenile facility for three days until a judge finally released her on condition that she do 20 hours of community service and write an apology letter. She also stipulated that Trah’Vaeziah would have to keep a clean record until the next court date and couldn’t access social media, cellphones or cash. Any violation of the agreement would result in further detention.  All this for an accident that could have been avoided had the teacher been doing her job.  But wait … there’s more.

The following week, the school held a hearing on the incident, where Trah’Vaeziah was sentenced to five weeks in the district’s disciplinary alternative school.  Her mother argued and was able to get her sentence reduced, but I ask you … if that had been a white girl, would the consequences for an accident have been this severe?  I think not.

Before the investigation was halted, no less than 10 incidents where black students received harsher punishment than their white peers were discovered.  The importance of bringing a stop to institutional, or sanctioned racism in the schools cannot be stressed enough.   When our African-American students are bullied, are treated less fairly than their white counterparts, they feel that they do not belong here.  The dropout rate rises among those students, and when jail or juvenile detention is a part of their ‘punishment’, it is a mark already on their record.  They tend to give up at an early age.  It is what sociologists call the school-to-prison pipeline, a process of criminalizing youth that is carried out by disciplinary policies and practices within schools that put students into contact with law enforcement.

It should come as no surprise that Betsy DeVos is not only oblivious to the situation, but also unconcerned and uncaring.  Ms. DeVos, born with a silver spoon in her mouth, does not, even by her own admission, visit any of the troubled schools for which she is responsible.  She was, after all, the one who referred to historically black colleges as “pioneers of school choice”!  She has no teaching or public school experience and does not even support the idea of public schools, but has expressed her strong preference for charter schools that serve only a few, while draining money from the public school system that serves the majority.  She has called for massive budget cuts to the Department of Education at a time when schools are in desperate need of repairs, new textbooks, and teachers are supplying many of their students’ needs out of their own meager pay.DeVos caricatureBelow is a sample of one page from the investigative report as it stood at the time it was shuttered.  It is plain to see that there is definite evidence of racial disparity, despite what DeVos and her underlings claim.  And, as we all know, it is not just in Bryan, Texas, but all across the nation.  Now the question is:  what do we do about it?  investigative-report.gif

The Island of Misfits …

Once upon a time, many moons ago, I worked for a small company, just over 100 employees total.  Since it was a small company, just starting up, all of us in management wore many hats.  My primary title was Comptroller, but I also wore the hats of Human Resource Director and Logistics Manager.  It was around 1990, I think, and one of my accounting staff had resigned, so I placed an ad in the local paper (this was before Monster.com and CareerBuilders).  In the ad, I plainly stated that the applicant must be savvy in Microsoft applications, such as Excel and Word, and have a general understanding of Accounting software.  One lady who came in to interview seemed quite nice, but …

Me:  So, tell me about your computer experience, particularly in Microsoft applications

She:  Well, to be honest, I’ve never used a computer, but if you can show me how to turn it on, I think I can figure out the rest.

No, friends, I am not joking.  That was exactly what she said.  She was the least qualified candidate imaginable for the position, and no, I did not hire her.

Under the current ideology of our federal government, however, I would have hired her. The reigning philosophy in the big White House at the moment, seems to be to hire the person who has no qualifications whatsoever, just so long as they meet certain criteria:

  • Must ardently deny that the emissions of carbon into the atmosphere by the activities of humans have any effect on the environment
  • Must ardently support the right of every man, woman and child to own at least one gun, preferably an assault-type weapon
  • Must be willing to lie, cheat and steal on command
  • Must be a lifelong member of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and support their mission
  • Must have net assets totaling more than $1 million
  • Must not be burdened by either compassion or a conscience
  • Must either have traveled to Russia in the past year, or have significant business holdings in Russia
  • Must be able to change your opinion 180° within 30 seconds flat
  • Must have a history of sexual aggression or perversion
  • Must be willing to agree with Donald Trump 100%, all of the time, even when you know he is wrong
  • Must be a WASP (White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant)
  • Must strongly oppose any form of nationalized universal healthcare

And finally, the most important …

  • Must have no experience or expertise in the field for which you are applying

We have seen so many examples of this …

  • Scott Pruitt – tapped to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) … an agency he had sued 14 times as Attorney General for the State of Oklahoma
  • Betsy DeVos – appointed as Secretary of Education, though she has no teaching background, no degree in education, and has promoted taking funding from public schools to establish charter schools, that would benefit a very small number of students
  • Jefferson Beauregard Sessions – appointed as Attorney General of the U.S., despite, or perhaps because of, his well-documented racist attitudes
  • Ben Carson – Secretary of Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), though his field of expertise is medicine/surgery, and he has nothing that qualifies him for the position
  • Jim Bridenstine – Director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), despite having no background in scientific research, no college degree in any hard science

And the list goes on … and on. Any Human Resource director would be having nightmares over this rag-tag staff!  But now, we can add two more from just the past two days.

Mike Pompeo has just been selected, though not yet confirmed by the Senate, to replace Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State.  I won’t ramble on about this one, for I did that yesterday.  And the latest?  Trump has appointed Lawrence Kudlow to replace Gary Cohn as head of the National Economic Council, top economic advisor.  I am applying for a new passport next week … I foolishly let mine expire.  Let us learn a little bit about Mr. Kudlow, shall we?kudlowIt is said that Kudlow has been wrong about almost everything for at least the past several decades.    Take this one, for example:

“Despite all the doom and gloom from the economic pessimistas, the resilient U.S. economy continues moving ahead. There’s no recession coming. The pessimistas were wrong. It’s not going to happen.  The Bush boom is alive and well. It’s finishing up its sixth consecutive year with more to come. Yes, it’s still the greatest story never told.” – Larry Kudlow, 07 December 2007

Note the date … according to the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research (the official arbiter of U.S. recessions) the recession began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009, and thus extended over eighteen months. (A side note: President Obama, who has often been blamed for the recession by the GOP, did not take office until January 20th 2009, fully 13 months after the official start of the recession, and just 5 months before its end.)  And this is the guy who will now be advising the president, the man who leads the nation into either poverty or prosperity, on economic issues???

In 1993, when Bill Clinton proposed an increase in the top tax rate from 31 percent to 39.6 percent, Kudlow wrote, “There is no question that President Clinton’s across-the-board tax increases … will throw a wet blanket over the recovery and depress the economy’s long-run potential to grow.” This was wrong. Instead, a boom ensued.

The list of his faux pas is long, but the above examples should be enough to convince you that this man does not understand basic economic principles and wears blinders to shut out reality most of the time.

Kudlow’s background includes a degree in history from The University of Rochester in Rochester, New York.  Kudlow also attended, but did not complete, Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, where he studied political science and economics.  He should have stayed there longer.

He worked in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under Reagan … remember ‘supply-side’ economics and the ‘trickle-down’ theory?  But it is what he has been doing since that is mind-boggling in light of the position he was just awarded.  He hosts a talk radio show.  “The Larry Kudlow Show” airs on Saturday mornings from 10am to 1pm ET and via nationwide syndication via Westwood One.  I hear Alex Jones of InfoWars is being considered to replace Rick Perry as Secretary of Energy.  🙄

Suffice it to say that this is yet another on Trump’s long list of inappropriate appointees.  He obviously goes looking for the least capable, least qualified for each position.  We can only hope that they all get voted off the island before they destroy the island altogether.

Island of misfit toys

 

Behind Closed Doors …

It is not unusual for the Attorney General to speak at events and to various groups around the country.  Not unusual at all.  However, when the Attorney General speaks to a designated hate group that “specializes in supporting the recriminalization of homosexuality abroad, ending same-sex marriage, and generally making life as difficult as possible for LGBT communities in the U.S. and internationally” 1, then it is highly unusual. And when the event is closed to the press, no venue information is published, and the Department of Justice refuses to explain why Attorney General Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions is speaking to this group, Alliance Defending Freedom, then there is a problem.

Alliance Defending Freedom is the very group defending the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, whereby a Colorado baker, citing religious objections to homosexuality, refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple.  Last month, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.  Initially, the courts ruled against Masterpiece Cakeshop, and they have followed the ladder of appeals all the way to the highest court in the land.

Jeff Sessions, throughout his 20 years in Congress, has consistently voted against LGBT rights.  In June 2006 he voted in support of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. In December 2010 he voted against repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. In November 2013 he voted against taking up a bill providing workplace discrimination protections for LGBT people. And twice, in June 2000 and June 2002, he voted against expanding the definition of hate crimes to include attacks on people because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. In 2014, a year after the Supreme Court struck down part of the now-defunct Defense of Marriage Act, Sessions co-sponsored a bill that would allow the state definition of marriage to supersede the federal definition.

The Human Rights Campaign keeps an annual scorecard of how lawmakers fare on LGBTQ issues. Sessions’ score, year after year: zero. And now he is the head of the Department of Justice. And last night at 5:30 p.m., he spoke to Alliance Defending Freedom in a secretive, closed door meeting at the group’s Summit on Religious Liberty.

I am not alone in my concerns.  The Democratic National Committee issued the following statement via email:

“You can judge a person by the company they keep and tonight – Attorney General Jeff Sessions is choosing to spend his time speaking in front of one of the country’s leading anti-LGBTQ hate groups. The Alliance Defending Freedom actively helped draft discriminatory legislation, worked to preserve laws criminalizing same-sex relations, and attacked the separation of church and state. ADF has been previously designated a hate group and Sessions’ appearance at this event, as the top law enforcement official in the country, brings in to question whether the attorney general intends to protect all Americans.”

Since being sworn in as Attorney General in February, Sessions has already taken an anti-LGBT stance when he, along with Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, chose to rescind the Obama-era guidelines protecting the civil rights of transgender students, a move that was praised by Alliance Defending Freedom.

There is no information available regarding Sessions’ speech last night, so all any of us can do is speculate.  If Sessions planned to speak on, say, the way the DOJ works, or constitutional law in general, then why the cloak of secrecy?  Alliance for Freedom is typically quite outspoken and welcomes coverage of their events, so … why is this different?  The lack of transparency, coupled with the purpose of Alliance and the documented bigotry of Sessions has thrown up red flags and set off alarm bells for me.

Sessions’ bigotry goes far back, as I have mentioned before, to the racist comments that denied him a federal judgeship during the Reagan era.  How a man with so many prejudices became the highest ranking law enforcement officer in the nation is beyond comprehension, but in the current administration, perhaps not surprising.  However, to carry his personal prejudices into the job he has been given is a slap in the face to the Constitution, it is a slap in the face to the department he oversees, and it is a slap in the face to every single U.S. citizen.

I fail to understand how Alliance Defending Freedom is defending freedom.  This seems to me an oxymoron.  If a baker bakes a cake for a gay couple, how does that take away the baker’s freedom?  It does not.  He is simply baking a cake.  He may not agree with homosexuality, it may be against his religion, but the couple buying the cake are not hurting him in any way.  He is just baking a cake, the thing that he has chosen to do with his life.  If he refuses to bake a cake for a gay couple, or a black man, or a Muslim woman, then he, the baker, is a bigot, and there is no room in this nation, in this world, for bigotry, which is simply another word for unjustified hate.

Eventually I imagine we will find out more about Sessions’ speech last night, and I am willing to bet that most of us, those who value every human being, not just those who are white, straight, Christians, will not be pleased with what we learn. There was no reason for the lack of transparency here, as it is certainly not a matter of national security.  One can only assume that Mr. Sessions intends to operate beneath a cloak of secrecy so that We The People, who pay his salary, cannot know what our own government is doing to us. It is true that you are judged by the company you keep, and Mr. Sessions has chosen some nasty company to keep.

1 Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) 

A Step Back In Time …

In a key event of the American Civil Rights Movement, nine black students enrolled at formerly all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in September 1957, testing a landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that declared segregation in public schools unconstitutional. The court had mandated that all public schools in the country be integrated “with all deliberate speed” in its decision related to the groundbreaking case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. On September 4, 1957, the first day of classes at Central High, Governor Orval Faubus of Arkansas called in the state National Guard to bar the black students’ entry into the school. Later in the month, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent in federal troops to escort the “Little Rock Nine” into the school, and they started their first full day of classes on September 25.

Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. attended graduation ceremonies at Central High School in May 1958 to see Ernest Green, the only senior among the Little Rock Nine, receive his diploma.

In September 1958, one year after Central High was integrated, Governor Faubus closed Little Rock’s high schools for the entire year, pending a public vote, to prevent African-American attendance. Little Rock citizens voted 19,470 to 7,561 against integration and the schools remained closed. Other than Green, the rest of the Little Rock Nine completed their high school careers via correspondence or at other high schools across the country.History.com

Sixty-three years ago, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education, that separate schools are “inherently unequal.” Sixty years ago this year, the Little Rock Nine, heavily guarded by federal troops, entered Central High School.  Today, much of that progress toward equality in education is unraveling, as a new wave of white supremacy rears its ugly head and mostly-white communities are deciding to re-segregate schools through attrition.

Currently, 30 states have laws that allow geographic communities to secede from large public school districts and form their own. As a result, a growing number of predominantly white, middle class neighborhoods are doing just that and taking their local property taxes with them. That makes racial and economic disparities in adjacent school districts even worse. Almost 50 communities have seceded since the year 2000, according to the nonprofit EdBuild, and a story this week in U.S. News and World Report.

In 1952, the illiteracy rate for blacks 14 years of age or older (10.2 percent) was more than five times that of whites (1.8 percent). More than a quarter of black males (28 percent) completed no more than four years of schooling, compared with less than 9 percent of white males.

The general philosophy, especially in the southern states in the 1950s and prior, was that if African-Americans were kept ill-educated they would remain ‘in their place’ in society. There was also a belief in some areas that African Americans were not intelligent enough to deserve an education. I thought we had risen above such nonsense, but have we? If wealthier white communities pull out of their school districts, taking their property tax dollars with them, that leaves the school district without sufficient funding to provide such things as transportation, textbooks, equipment, building maintenance, supplies and teachers.  Let us think for a moment about the state of black schools in the 1950s …

Students often had to walk to school, as no transportation was provided.  The school year for African Americans was shorter; teacher’s pay was less and the books they used were those no longer needed by white schools, therefore often outdated and in poor condition.

It would be impossible for me to cover all the instances of school districts where communities have seceded, but let us take a brief look at Tennessee, specifically Shelby Country, which includes the city of Memphis. Since the Republican-run state legislature voted to enact the law in 2010, six communities have left the school district.

The impact just one year after the six communities seceded from Shelby County was stark: Its budget was slashed by 20 percent, and declining enrollment has since forced seven Memphis-area schools to close and the district to lay off about 500 teachers in both 2015 and 2016. Tennessee has one of the laxest secession policies in the entire country: In order to create a new city school district, the only requirements are that a municipality has a student population of 1,500 and the support of a majority of municipal voters. Tennessee is one of three states – the other two being Alabama and Mississippi – that does not require approval from any county or state authority.

And while this movement has been going on for many years, it is gaining momentum now, in light of an administration that supports de-regulation of all sorts, including an attorney general who is on record as being a racist, and a secretary of education who is against funding for public schools.  Just last month in Alabama, a judge ruled that Gardendale, a predominantly white, middle-class neighborhood outside Birmingham, would be permitted to secede from majority non-white Jefferson County School District. This, even though the judge acknowledged that the secession was based on racial motives!

race-1-gardendale-sign“Across the country, wealthy communities are drawing their own school district boundaries, often creating bastions of wealth next door to high-poverty, poorly funded districts,” according to Rebecca Sibilia, founder of EdBuild, a nonprofit that focuses on education funding and inequality. Last week, EdBuild put out a report that is well worth a look.

Where does this leave us?  It has the potential to return the state of education in the U.S. to the way it was 60 years ago.  Given that there is a direct link between a lack of education and poverty, it seems inevitable that if this becomes a trend throughout the U.S., we will once again become a highly divided society with race being the dividing line.  With a different Congress, under different administration, there might be reason to hope that the federal government would step in, but in the current circumstances that seems highly unlikely.  Ultimately, I think it likely that there will be lawsuits filed that may ultimately reach the Supreme Court, but that is years into the future.  Meanwhile … the middle-to-upper income children get an education, the poor and non-white children get the scraps that are left over. I can see a situation where ultimately we have to have a do-over of the civil rights era, only this time we have no Martin Luther King, no Lyndon B. Johnson, and no Thurgood Marshall to carry the torch.

This story made me sick to write, but I am fairly certain I will be back with a follow-up or two, as this appears to be a growing trend.  My thanks to Keith Wilson for pointing me to this story.

Images from the past … is this really where we want to go again??? race-2race-3  race-5race-4.jpg