Discord & Dissension-Part XIII-The Administrative State

In this week’s episode of mine and Jeff’s project, Jeff reminds us all just why it is so important that we vote Trump and his band of crooked cronies out in November. If the people of this country weren’t convinced that Donald Trump & Co are out to destroy our government before, then they surely must be after the bungling ineptitude of the past two months! Thanks Jeff … great post!!!

On The Fence Voters

As my friend Jill and I have been pointing out over the last several months of our project, the issues that confront us in this year’s election are enormous and growing by the minute. While many Americans may not have realized how crucial good government is to our well-being before, they certainly do now. We see, in real-time, what an incompetent and unresponsive government can do to a society. Lives continue to be lost at an alarming rate, while the leader of the free world dithers and blames everyone but himself.

Unfortunately, though, our current president and the Republican Party paved the way for this. When a political party believes that government should only exist for security purposes, and not much else, what you see is what you get.

This mantra is nothing new. The attack on the government by the Republican Party began many years ago, highlighted by none…

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Just A Little Bit Of Snark …

I’m going to take the rare option of starting today’s snarky snippets with a humorous piece before indulging in snark-worthy detritus.


Oh, da embarrassment!!!

Brant-WalkerBrant Walker is the Mayor of Alton, Illinois, population 26,528.  Like every other city, town and municipality in the U.S. right now, public gatherings are discouraged and isolation is the recommended norm.  Seems the people of Alton didn’t much like the idea of staying home, though, and after the Alton police reported to Mayor Walker that people were still defying the request, the Mayor told police to crack down, to use their discretion.

The mayor even held a press briefing, where he urged the citizens of Alton …

“These are very serious times and I’m begging you to please stay at home.”

Less than 48 hours later, police broke up a gathering at Hiram’s Tavern in downtown Alton.  Walker made the announcement the next day …

“At approximately 1am on Sunday morning, I was informed by the Police Chief that the Alton Police Department was investigating and stopping a social gathering in downtown Alton that was occurring in violation of the provisions of the statewide “Stay At Home” order.

I was also made aware that my wife was in attendance at this prohibited social gathering. I instructed the Police Chief to treat her as he would any citizen violating the “Stay At Home” order and to ensure that she received no special treatment.

My wife is an adult capable of making her own decisions, and in this instance she exhibited a stunning lack of judgement. She now faces the same consequences for her ill-advised decision as the other individuals who chose to violate the “Stay At Home” order during this incident.

I am embarrassed by this incident and apologize to the citizens of Alton for any embarrassment this incident may cause our City.”

Oh, the embarrassment!!!  But I have to give kudos and thumbs up to Mayor Walker for insisting that his wife receive no special treatment … how many people in power do you know who would have done the same?  I would have loved to be a fly on the wall when he next saw his wife, and I would have hated to be the wife!


Jair … a Donnie clone?

Donald Trump has hinted at firing Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and point man for the daily briefings on the coronavirus.  Why?  Likely because Dr. Fauci has corrected Trump’s misstatements on more than a few occasions, and because Dr. Fauci is a scientist, a man who deals in facts.  Donnie doesn’t much like facts.  He likes ‘yes-men’, and Dr. Fauci, though he tries hard to be diplomatic, is not a yes-man.  Still, Trump has stopped short of firing him, likely because of strong warnings from his advisors, a few of whom, at least, were born with a brain.

President Trump Holds Joint Press Conference With Brazilian President Bolsonaro

Bolsonaro (l) and Trump 

Swivel to the south, to Brazil and Dictator President Jair Bolsonaro who, I have said on more than one occasion, is a Donnie-clone.  Yesterday, Bolsonaro fired his very popular Health Minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, for much the same reason Trump has been hinting at firing Dr. Fauci … because he didn’t pander to him.  Just as Donnie is more concerned with his precious economy than he is the lives of the people of the U.S., Bolsonaro was also more concerned with Profit over People.  Said Bolsonaro …

“I know … life is priceless. But the economy and jobs must return to normal.”

I would like to ask both Donnie and Jair a question:  How do you plan to get businesses back up and running in order to fuel your precious damn ‘economy’ if all the people who do the real work, are dead?  The billionaire CEOs are useless … they do not stand for 8 hours a day putting bolts and roof liners into cars on the assembly line, they do not cook the food that is served in restaurants, and they do not serve the endless stream of customers who put their money into the economy.  For that matter, Donnie and Jair … who do you think will buy the goods and services you purport to re-start if you have nary a care for the lives of We the People?

Jair Bolsonaro and Donnie Trump are two peas in a pod … neither has a smidge of foresight, neither a concern for the average person.  They see the world in U.S. dollars and Brazilian reals.  Not much else matters to them.  Jerks.trump-bolsonaro


While you were napping …

The nation and the media have had a single focus for the past month or so:  the coronavirus.  Meanwhile, back at the ranch … Trump and his minions have been taking advantage of the fact that nobody seems to give a shit about anything else going on in the country, and they have been busy little beavers indeed.

Yesterday, for example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), declared that it is not “appropriate and necessary” for the government to limit mercury and other harmful pollutants from power plants, even though every utility in America has complied with standards put in place in 2011 under President Barack Obama.

Some coal executives have lobbied for the rollback, calling the Obama-era rule one of the worst examples of what Trump has labeled the “war on coal.”  The rule in question, known as the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), targets a powerful neurotoxin that can affect the IQ and motor skills of children, even in utero. Between 2006, when states began to curb mercury from coal plants, and 2016, when the Obama-era rule took full effect, emissions have declined 85 percent.  And now … the EPA has said

Yet another example of the republican’s motto:  Profit over People.


On a brighter note …

You may have forgotten, amidst all the detritus over the last three-plus years, but back in the day, when we had an actual President and a real First Lady, said First Lady Michelle Obama was the mover and the shaker behind the higher standards for school meal programs.

The year after Trump took office, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reversed those standards, particularly the ones that applied to sodium and whole grains in our children’s school diet.  But this week, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland vacated the rule, saying …

“The court concludes that the rule is not inconsistent with federal law, it does not reflect unexplained and arbitrary decision making, it does not represent an unacknowledged and unexplained change in position …”

A little thing, perhaps, but … we must take our victories wherever we can find them these days.


And on that note, I will leave you and go try to find a bit of peace somewhere, a place where I can breathe and stem the flow of the tears that seem to assail me at random times these days.

Little Donnie

BAH HUMBUG!

I looked in the mirror this morning … I try to avoid doing that, but this morning I had something in my eye, and I had no choice.  I asked the person I saw there to please move out of my way so that I could see myself to check out my eye.  Then I realized the person I saw there, the person with deep gouges around her mouth, sad downturned eyes with dark circles ‘neath them, and a perpetual scowl on her mouth was, in fact, me.  And I got angry … not that I really look much different than I did three years ago, but … I have a perpetual sadness coupled with intense anger that wasn’t there before.  I growl a lot, even when I’m drifting off to sleep, I hear myself growling.  Every day, there is something new to growl about, so … since I don’t like to growl alone, here are my two for today …


Steven Mnuchin – Bastard of the Year

This isn’t the first time, nor will it likely be the last, that Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s Secretary of Treasury, has come onto my radar and caused my blood to boil.  This time, however, he has crossed a line … has unfairly criticized a 15-year-old girl who is trying her best to wake us up, to save the world, to save us from ourselves.  Obviously, I am speaking of the young environmental activist from Sweden, and Time Magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year, Greta Thunberg.

One of the things Ms. Thunberg has advocated is for investors to take their money out of fossil fuel stocks, invest instead in companies that are working to make renewable energy sources more efficient, more prominent, and less costly.  Apparently, Mr. Mnuchin owns stock in oil and/or coal companies, for he took umbrage and he did so in his usual snide, nasty manner …

“Is she the chief economist or who is she? I’m confused. After she goes and studies economics in college, she can come back and explain that to us.”

Bastard.

Now interestingly, someone with even higher credentials in economics than Mnuchin disagrees with ol’ Stevie.  That someone is Laurence D. Fink, the founder and chief executive of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager with nearly $7 trillion in investments.  In his annual letter to the chief executives of the world’s largest companies, Mr. Fink outlined some of the ways in which climate change is changing our world and then said …

BlackRock announced a number of initiatives to place sustainability at the center of our investment approach, including: making sustainability integral to portfolio construction and risk management; exiting investments that present a high sustainability-related risk, such as thermal coal producers; launching new investment products that screen fossil fuels; [emphasis added] and strengthening our commitment to sustainability and transparency in our investment stewardship activities.

Ms. Thunberg responded to Mnuchin on Twitter …

Thunberg-Time“My gap year ends in August, but it doesn’t take a college degree in economics to realise that our remaining 1,5° carbon budget and ongoing fossil fuel subsidies and investments don’t add up.  So either you tell us how to achieve this mitigation or explain to future generations and those already affected by the climate emergency why we should abandon our climate commitments.” 

My suggestion to Mnuchin is that perhaps he is the one who needs to go back to college and study a bit of climate science.  Y’know … people who are squawking about how to do what is needed to help stop the destruction of life on earth would cost too much, would interfere with world economies … they really need to sit in a quiet room and think for a few hours.  THINK, people!  What the hell is the economy going to matter if you cannot breathe the air, find potable water to drink, and sufficient food to eat???  In fact, the economy will be completely irrelevant at that point, but will have already crashed by then anyway.  Damn capitalists have a one-track mind and that includes Mnuchin and his effing boss!

mnuchin-wife-2

Steve Mnuchin and wife (apparently, like Melania, she doesn’t own a bra)

Oh, and by the way … a bit off-topic, but in case you were wondering, poor Mnuchin is practically on the welfare rolls, having a net worth of over $300 million.  His wife, Louise Linton, recently came under criticism for bemoaning the fact that they now have to pay more in taxes, and then bragging about her name-brand designer clothing on social media.  Nice people, those Mnuchins … I have more respect for Greta than Stevie.  Heck, I have more respect for a cockroach than I do for the Mnuchins.  BAH HUMBUG!


And in other environmental news …

On Thursday, Trump signed his long-promised regulation to remove millions of miles of streams and roughly half the country’s wetlands from federal protection, the largest rollback of the Clean Water Act since the modern law was passed in 1972.  Why?  Because the wealthy dudes who own the agriculture, home-building, mining, and oil and gas industries matter more than We the People, matter more than the wildlife that depend on those wetlands for their very survival.

Heretofore, the law required those industries to obtain permits to discharge pollution into waterways or fill in wetlands, and imposed fines for oil spills into protected waterways.  According to Janette Brimmer, Earthjustice attorney who fought for the Clean Water Act after the Cuyahoga River fire in 1969 …

“President Trump’s administration wants to make our waters burn again. This all-out assault on basic safeguards will send our country back to the days when corporate polluters could dump whatever sludge or slime they wished into the streams and wetlands that often connect to the water we drink.”

Even the EPA’s own scientists disapprove of this move, saying that in addition to potentially losing fully half of the nation’s wetlands, as much as 94 percent of Arizona’s waterways could lose Clean Water Act protection under the regulation, as well as 89 percent of Nevada’s.

Environmental groups are already planning lawsuits, and rightly so.  But, do you realize that NO administration in the history of this nation has been embroiled in as many lawsuits as Trump???  And guess who pays for all those lawsuits, my friends?  Not Donald Trump or EPA head Andrew Wheeler.  Not the rich bitches who got a huge tax cut in 2017.  Nope … me and you, the very people who are struggling to pay our rent and buy food, despite Trump’s claims that we are so much better off.  BAH HUMBUG!


Stay tuned this afternoon for Part III of mine and Jeff’s project, Discord & Dissension — Where do we go from here?

Donald Trump — Environmentalist??? 🤣

Donald Trump is going to read a book!  Or, so he says anyway.  The book, of course, is about him (the only subject that interests him) and is surely as big a farce as any ever written.  There have been numerous books written about Donnie both before and since his occupation of the Oval Office, but this one …

Trump-book-farce

The book was written and self-published in 2016 by Edward Russo who acted as an environmental consultant for Donald F. Trump and the Trump Organization for fifteen years.  Russo claims to be an environmentalist, but let’s face it folks … no true environmentalist is going to applaud Donald Trump’s destructive policies.  Russo praised Trump’s EPA budget cuts, claiming they will increase the agency’s “focus”.  Say WHAT???  And in a 2017 interview, he said …

“Every time there’s lightning or thunder that, oh, it’s climate change. Climate change is a natural change in balance of the Earth, it happens all the time.”

Wow … try telling that to the Australians!  I’m not sure of Mr. Russo’s background, but I suspect he doesn’t have a Ph.D. in any branch of science that would give him credibility here.

At an event at the White House yesterday, the same day that Trump announced a rollback of environmental regulations at the White House, taking an ax to the environmental review process required for infrastructure projects, he was asked by a reporter if he still considers climate change to be a hoax, as he has claimed so many times.  His reply …

“No, not at all. Nothing’s a hoax. Nothing’s a hoax about that. It’s a very serious subject. I want clean air. I want clean water. I want the cleanest air, want the cleanest water. The environment is very important to me.

Somebody wrote a book that I’m an environmentalist and actually called, ‘The Environmentalist’, actually, before I did this. But they wrote a book. I’d like to get it. I have it in the other office. I’ll bring it to my next news conference, perhaps. I’m sure you’ll be thrilled to see it. I’m sure you’ll report all about it.

But no, I’m a big believer in that word: the environment. I’m a big believer. But I want clean air. I want clean water. And I also want jobs, though. I want I don’t want to close up our industry because somebody said, you know, you have to go with wind or you have to go with something else that’s not going to be able to have the capacity to do what we have to do. We have the best employment numbers we’ve ever had. We have the best unemployment numbers we’ve ever had. So that’s very important.”

So … he’d like to get the book, but he has it in the other office and will bring it to his next news conference … perhaps.  FOR PETE’S SAKE … this man can barely read at a 1st grade level!!!  Remember the book titled The Art of the Deal, which carried Trump’s name as author, but was actually ghost-written by Tony Schwartz?  Here’s what Mr. Schwartz said back in 2015 when Trump first announced his candidacy for president …

“I put lipstick on a pig. I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is. I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”

If he were writing The Art of the Deal today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, The Sociopath.

Now, check out this tweet from 2018 …

Trump-tweet-2

And yet, he never wrote the first word in any book.  In fact, Tony Schwartz, who in 2016 said he deeply regretted his work on The Art of the Deal, said of Trump …

“He doesn’t read books and he doesn’t write them.” 

Frankly, it is my humble opinion that he isn’t capable of reading books with large words or complex subject matter, though at one time he claimed to have kept Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf by his bedside for nighttime reading.  Um … tells you something, yes?

But, back to the Russo book … it has such a great rating on Amazon that if you own a Kindle, you can read it for free.  No, thank you, I will pass on this freebie.  Here are a few of the one-star comments …

“Alternative facts abound. What a strange, mendacious little book. Hard to believe it wasn’t intended as satire.”

“And now I have some real estate on the moon I’d like to sell you. Right – because banning the EPA from posting anything regarding climate change or using social media, period – that’s the work of an environmental hero.”

But there were some 5-star reviews, as well …

“A surprising side of the DONALD, from an Insider! The book shows interesting examples of why he is such an all-around brilliant businessman, and surprisingly, truly concerned about nature and the environment.”

“Amazing how the tabloid press kept all of this hidden. This is a matter of public record, but they purposly ignored it because it doesn’t fit their anti-Trump narrative. Great job. We want more!”

facepalm

Thus far, Trump has rolled back most of the environmental regulations that were in effect when he took office, dissing the environment in favour of his friends, the fossil fuel and logging barons.  And, as mentioned above, yesterday he announced revisions to one of the most consequential environmental laws in U.S. history known as the National Environmental Policy Act. The changes would essentially gut parts of the act, making it so regulators can’t consider the climate impacts of oil, gas, and other harmful projects and ensuring some projects are exempt from environmental review altogether, all while reducing the time for public input on projects. The whole rollback could result in harm to communities near major infrastructure projects as well as the global climate.

No, my friends, Trump is no environmentalist and the book by Mr. Russo should rightly be classified as fiction.  There is a fascinating article about Tony Schwartz and his writing of The Art of the Deal in The New Yorker … I strongly encourage you to take a look!

Corporate Profits Over Life?

There is yet more evidence that corporate profits matter more than life in the U.S.  Last November one of the issues on the California ballot was Proposition 12.  In a nutshell, Proposition 12, the Prevention of Cruelty to Farm Animals Act …

“…  outlaws the most extreme forms of animal confinement throughout the Golden State. Once it’s implemented, egg-laying hens, baby calves raised for veal, and mother pigs will no longer be confined in cages. Additionally, all eggs, veal, and pork sold in the state will meet this standard.”

Some 60% of voters approved the measure, and it was signed into law.  The Humane Society of the United States backed the measure, while People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals opposed it, saying it did not go far enough.

However, the meat industry claims that it violates the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause by requiring out-of-state producers to comply with California’s rules or face a sales ban. The North American Meat Institute, whose members include processors such as Tyson Foods, Cargill, Smithfield Foods, and retailers including Wal-Mart, Chipotle, Target, and Whole Foods, said enforcing Proposition 12 would hurt producers and consumers by significantly increasing their costs.  And so, on Friday they filed a lawsuit (isn’t that the answer to everything these days?) in Los Angeles federal court seeking an injunction against the sales ban targeting out-of-state veal and pork.

The law, if enforced, would …

  • Prevent egg-laying hens, breeding pigs, and veal calves from being housed inhumanely in small cages for their entire lives.
  • Reduce the risk of people being sickened by food poisoning and factory farm pollution by preventing overcrowding of animals in small spaces.

It would also likely cost producers more to comply, and thus raise the consumer prices for eggs, pork and veal, for we all know that companies like Tyson and Wal-Mart aren’t going to eat a single penny of that increased cost but will pass it on to consumers.

My take?  Thanks for asking … if these producers cannot treat the animals humanely, then they can go out of business for all it matters.  People should eat less pork and veal anyway, and fewer eggs as well.  We would all be healthier.  I’m sick and tired of the big corporations putting their profit ahead of lives, whether human, animal, plant, or the planet.  And speaking of the planet …

CaliforniaCalifornia seems to consistently be ahead of the pack on trying to improve such things as the environment, human and animal welfare, etc.  California has the strictest emissions standards in the nation for autos and trucks, and recently the state worked with auto makers to maintain those standards, but last month Trump & Co revoked the state’s authority to set state-level standards.  Why?  Because Trump & Co are in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry.  Higher emission standards like California’s mean the oil companies will sell less fuel and … GASP … may lose some of their multi-billion dollar profits!  ¡Ay, pobrecitos!

But then … wait for it … the Environmental Protection Agency last week followed up with letters to California that threatened to wield rarely used provisions of environmental law to withhold federal funding from the state if it did not take specific steps to clean its air and water!  That’s what they were trying to do, for Pete’s sake!!!

Legal experts say this amounts to weaponizing environmental laws intended not only to undermine California’s liberal government but to send a message to other states that might defy Trump.

The Clean Air Act specifically offered states the ability to set their own environmental standards if Washington grants them a waiver.  This move infringes on states’ rights, is a threat to the very principle of states’ rights.

Andrew-Wheeler

Andrew Wheeler

Andrew Wheeler, who now heads the EPA, worked in the law firm Faegre Baker Daniels, representing coal magnate Robert E. Murray and lobbying against the Obama Administration’s environmental regulations.  Conflict of interest???  It seems to me that under Wheeler, just as under Pruitt before him, the Environmental Protection Agency is doing the exact opposite of protecting the environment!

Are we to sit quietly while big corporations and Trump’s gang of thugs abuse animals and destroy the air we breathe, the water we drink, and everything else under the sun only for the sake of lining their own pockets?  Think about it.

You CAN’T Do This, Donald Trump!!!

I was just getting ready to fold a load of clothes when the ‘Breaking News’ came across with this headline:

Trump administration to revoke California’s power to set stricter auto emissions standards

NO … No No No No No!  This is not right!  I was so furious that I nearly shredded poor Miss Goose’s favourite shirt as I was folding it.  Just who in hell does this ‘man’ think he is?  He is not the king, nor is he the dictator … at least not yet!

For decades, California has had stricter emission standards, has been a frontrunner in trying to protect life on earth.  Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have vowed to adopt California’s standards if they diverge from the federal government’s, as have several major automakers.  But now, Donald F. Trump (yeah, I know it’s a ‘J’, but in my book he now has a new middle name) has decided that he and he alone can doom all life on earth, bring about our demise even sooner than was previously planned?

In July, California reached an agreement with four companies — Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW of North America — under which they pledged to produce fleets averaging nearly 50 mpg by model year 2026.  The deal upset Trump and his buddies in the oil industry, for it would, conceivably, cut down on the amount of fuel they could sell … never mind that it would make the air cleaner, healthier, more breathable, and perchance help cut down on the carbon emissions that are killing life on planet Earth!  By all means, the profits of companies like Exxon Mobil, and by extension Donald Trump, are far more important than our lives!

Congress has repeatedly reaffirmed California’s right to set its own emissions standards, and in 1977, lawmakers said other states could legally adopt California’s stricter car emissions standards.  Over time, emissions control strategies first adopted by California — catalytic converters, nitrous oxide regulations and “check engine” systems, to name a few — have become standard across the country. Over the decades, the EPA has repeatedly approved waivers for California under the Clean Air Act.  And now, along comes Donald Trump whose fortunes are obviously tied to the fossil fuel industry, and says we all have to spend more money and sacrifice our very lives to put money into the pockets of he and his rich cronies.

This simply cannot be allowed to continue.  We don’t have a president, we have a madman bent on destroying the earth as rapidly as possible.  Let us hope that there is broad intervention by both Congress and the Courts, and that Trump and his oil buddies will have their tiny hands slapped and removed from the cookie jar.  Someone, somehow, must prove to this sorry excuse for a president that he is NOT the dictator of the nation, and that his job is to ensure the safety and best interest of the people of this nation … not to try to destroy us all!pollution-2

She Wants To Go ‘Behind Closed Doors’???

Joni-ErnstJoni Ernst is a U.S. Senator representing the state of Iowa.  Ordinarily, I would respect and admire this woman, for she served for 23 years in the U.S. military.  Ordinarily, given her military service, I would even be able to look past the fact that she is a republican.  But, when somebody starts trying to rob me and millions of other people, they lose my respect real fast.

Before I get into that, let’s take a look at Ms. Ernst and some of the things she stands either for or against:

  • Ernst referred to Obama as a dictator who should be “removed from office” or face “impeachment.” And yet … she wouldn’t support impeaching the most corrupt, autocratic president in history?

  • Ernst opposes the federal minimum wage and has said that states should have sole authority to set their own minimum wages, saying, “I think $7.25 is appropriate.” I wonder how she would like to try to live on $7.25 per hour, which is $15,080 per year?

  • Ernst has proposed eliminating the Internal Revenue Service as well as the Department of Education and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Seriously???

  • She has an ‘A’ rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA) … no wonder she has received $3.1 million from the NRA! Needless to say, she sends lots of ‘thoughts and prayers’ and opposes any and all gun legislation.

  • She endorses and supports U.S. Representative Steve King, the ultimate racist, who also happens to be from Iowa. That speaks for itself.

  • Like most republicans, she opposes same-sex marriage and abortion.

All of the above is enough to make her unsuitable to be in the U.S. Senate, but the latest takes the prize.  A week ago, during the congressional recess, Ms. Ernst held a town hall meeting with constituents in Estherville, Iowa.  During the course of that meeting, she said that members of Congress should negotiate changes to Social Security “behind closed doors” in order to dodge scrutiny from the media and advocacy groups.

“The minute you say we need to address Social Security, the media is hammering you, the opposing party is hammering you—there goes granny over a cliff.”

Say WHAT???

Please, Ms. Ernst, allow me to explain a couple of things to you.  First, every single thing you do in your job, every single word you utter, should be recorded and reported by the media.  Why?  Because you work for us, not the other way around.  We have a right, nay … we have a need … to know everything that any member of our federal government does.  Today, with the most corrupt and ignorant president in the history of the nation in office, that need is even more imperative, for you and others of your ilk have proven time and time again that you do not have the best interests of this nation and its people at heart.

Second, perhaps you don’t understand about Social Security, but WE fund it, just as we fund your salary.  Yes, WE!  Out of every paycheck we earn throughout our entire life, 7.65% is withheld … 6.2% of that is to fund our government-managed retirement account, and the other 1.45% is to fund Medicare.  Our employers match our contributions, dollar for dollar.  Neither Social Security nor Medicare are “entitlements” that the government giveth and thus can taketh away!  I see that you have a Master of Public Administration degree from Columbus State University, so how do you not understand such a simple concept???

I do not live in Iowa, so I cannot vote this woman out of the Senate, however she IS up for re-election next year, so if any of my readers hail from Iowa, or if you know of anybody who lives in Iowa, please encourage them to vote this harridan out of office, and Steve King, too!

Joni-Ernst-Trump

Trump & Ernst — on the campaign trail

Joni Ernst is not alone in wishing to cut Social Security and Medicare.  In August, Senator John Barrasso, a republican from Wyoming told the New York Times that his party has discussed cutting Medicare and Social Security with Trump and said the president has expressed openness to the idea.  The Times also reported that Trump said it was “a second-term project”.  And republican Senator John Thune from South Dakota, reportedly said it is …

“Going to take presidential leadership to cut Social Security and Medicare, and it’s going to take courage by the Congress to make some hard votes. We can’t keep kicking the can down the road.”

What ‘can’???  You take our money for the 50 years or so that we are in the work force, you invest it and, assuming you invested it wisely, you get a return on that investment, and now you don’t wish to give it back?  It’s a paltry enough sum that we get back as it is!

Folks, I could list at least 100 good reasons that this nation cannot afford to re-elect Donald Trump in 2020.  This is just one, but an important one – a crucial one.

Trump vs Facts

It shouldn’t have been a big deal … but it was.  It shouldn’t have received the attention of the international press … but it did.  It was stupid, foolish, but relative to the news of the day, irrelevant – just another example of the ignorance of the ‘man’ who sits in the Oval Office.  I mostly ignored it, save for a brief mention, but an ego was involved … perhaps the most bloated ego of any in the world … and thus it was blown up, mocked, and the ‘man’ in the Oval Office refused to simply say, “I made a mistake”.

I try hard not to waste my voice here on my blog with irrelevancy, unless it is to bring a smile, a laugh, a bit of levity to my readers.  But, what was irrelevant has now become yet another sign of the despotism that flows around the White House today.

The incident, of course, is the one that began last Sunday, September 1st, when Trump tweeted …

“In addition to Florida – South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated. Looking like one of the largest hurricanes ever. Already category 5. BE CAREFUL! GOD BLESS EVERYONE!”

The fallacy was that Alabama was not in the path of Hurricane Dorian.  Within an hour, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued a statement correcting Trump:

“Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east.”

And then the sh*t hit the proverbial fan.  Had it been left there, it would likely have died before the next round of late-night television shows, for there were more important things to worry about.  But, Trump can never be contradicted, can never be told he is wrong about anything, despite the fact that he has been proven wrong about most everything.  The notice by the NWS was important and necessary, for Trump’s statement could have sent Alabama residents into a frenzy, wondering why they hadn’t been warned and running out stripping the store shelves of bottled water and other essential supplies.  It was the responsible thing for the NWS to do.

So, Trump couldn’t let it lie, took one of the official maps showing the likely trajectories of Hurricane Dorian, and with a Sharpie pen, drew an additional line to include Alabama in the path of the storm.  It was as if a 5-year-old child had done it, was obviously a stupid thing, but … well, Trump’s ego, y’know.  And then the whole thing blew up.altered-map.jpgTrump continued to defend his tweet and complain about the flak he’s received over media reports that point out that he was wrong, his vile rhetoric becoming more ludicrous with each tweet.  He tweeted a doctored video of a CNN segment that noted Alabama might feel the effects of the hurricane.  WHAT PRESIDENT DOES THIS???  Where is the professionalism of the office?  Where is the dignity?  For six straight days, he tweeted obsessively about the whole thing, even demanding an apology.

But, on Friday this truly became a serious issue, and one that should have every person in this nation up in arms.  On Friday afternoon, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the parent agency of the National Weather Service, issued a statement declaring that its Birmingham, Alabama office was wrong to dispute the president’s warning that Alabama “will most likely be hit” by the hurricane despite forecasts to the contrary.

“The Birmingham National Weather Service’s Sunday morning tweet spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time.”

Yes, my friends, a government agency tasked with reporting facts, tasked with the safety of the nation under severe weather conditions, was forced to bow to the whims of a megalomaniac for the sake of salving his ego.  Let that one sink in a minute.

This is no longer a laughing matter, for it is further evidence that the safety of this nation matters less than the ego of Donald Trump.  This only happens in autocracies, it does not happen in democratic nations.  It is but one in a long line of such incidents, but this one received the notoriety to put it front and center and the perfidy cannot be ignored.

The biggest issue facing every industrialized nation on the globe is climate change, yet because Trump says it is a “Chinese hoax”, our government doesn’t talk about climate change.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has removed all references to climate change from every one of its documents.  The EPA has also removed the Climate Science page from its website.  All to stroke the ego of a madman who just happens to be the highest-ranking official in our government.  And now, our National Weather Service is not allowed to give us accurate warnings when a devastating, life-threatening storm is looming.

Can we ever again trust anything we are told by any government agency?  No.  We now know that Trump manipulates the information given by every agency under his control, and we should not take a single thing at face value.  Yesterday, the Bureau of Labour Statistics released their report for August, saying that the U.S. had added some 130,000 jobs during the month.  I do not believe it for one minute.  What if we actually lost 50,000 jobs?  Trump is apprised of the report before it is made public.  What if he said, “NO … we didn’t lose jobs, we added jobs — lots of beautiful jobs — great jobs!  This report is ‘fake news!!!’  Then, would the Labour Department have changed the numbers to match Trump’s whim?  I posit that no new jobs were added in August, and that the Labour Department report has no validity.  For the duration of Trump’s term in office, I shall not believe another piece of data that comes out of our federal government.

It is a damn shame when one ‘man’, in just under three years, can completely shred the credibility of the entire federal government, but that is exactly what has happened.  Would we receive proper warning if there were a pending threat from another nation?  Maybe, maybe not.  Depends on what Donald Trump wants us to know.  This is a dangerous and disturbing situation.  Next time there’s a hurricane, the NWS will ask Trump where he would like them to draw the projected trajectory.  I can envision a number of scenarios where lives would be placed in danger, lives perhaps lost, to protect the fragile ego of a man-child.  Think about it.

Deconstructing government in Trump’s America

The important things, as I have said before, are slipping under the radar. Jeff, from On the Fence Voters, has shone a spotlight on one such thing. This administration is working so hard to destroy not only the nation, but the entire globe. Please take a minute to read Jeff’s assessment. Thanks, Jeff, for keeping us informed!

On The Fence Voters

Bannon’s prophetic prediction playing out before our eyes at USDA

In the early days of the Trump administration, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon declared that the President’s cabinet picks are well suited to implement a complete “deconstruction of the administrative state.” The quote by Bannon is relatively well known. Unfortunately, large swaths of the American people do not understand that that deconstruction is not only alive and well, but proceeding with lightning speed—with no end in sight.

To put it in more simpler terms, the administration is on track to weaken regulatory agencies and other bureaucratic entities, faster and more extreme than any previous Republican administration had ever tried to do. And it’s not like George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan didn’t try mightily to achieve this end. After all, less and smaller government is one of the main objectives of most Republicans as it is. But the…

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A Bucketful … of Snarky Snippets

There is just so darn much to ruffle the feathers, rile the temper, send the ol’ blood pressure soaring these days … I started earlier today on a humour piece that I had an idea for, thought it would be a nice change of pace.  And then … I looked at the news.  Suddenly, my humour piece didn’t seem very funny, and instead it made me want to cry.  So, instead I am back to being my ol’ snarky self, and any humour will no doubt be acidic and acerbic.


Under investigation …

He sure does know how to pick the winners, doesn’t he?  That is, in this alternate universe where up is down, black is white, and winners are losers.  I did a series of posts after Trump took office about his choices for his cabinet, all of which were the antithesis of the “right person for the job”.  ‘Draining the swamp’ apparently meant adding more alligators. Consider, for example, his first choice to head the EPA, Scott Pruitt, who had sued the EPA numerous times.  Or Betsy DeVos, his choice for Secretary of Education who was against public education!  One of his crew is in the news again today.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) seems to have a whole series of corrupt heads and staff.  I’ve long said that Trump’s goal was to dismantle the EPA, or at least render it powerless, and it seems to be the case.  The latest?  Bill Wehrum, who headed the EPA’s air policy division from November 2017 until he resigned under a shadow last month.WehrumWehrum, according to the New York Times …

“… worked for the better part of a decade to weaken air pollution rules by fighting the Environmental Protection Agency in court on behalf of chemical manufacturers, refineries, oil drillers and coal-burning power plants.”

Wehrum’s clients included Koch Industries, the American Petroleum Institute, the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, the Brick Industry Association, and the Utility Air Regulatory Group.  And then, he went to work for Donald Trump’s EPA where he pushed for rollback of environmental regulations and continued to interact with former clients. This, despite an ethics rule that prohibits former industry lawyers and lobbyists from meeting with former clients in private settings to discuss government-related matters.

During his 19 months at the EPA, he oversaw efforts to ease regulation of the coal industry, slow requirements that cars and trucks become more fuel efficient and overhaul how the agency calculates costs and benefits to favor industry.

In April, the House Energy and Commerce Committee launched an investigation into whether Wehrum had improperly aided his former industry clients since joining the administration.  Last month, Wehrum resigned, and today the EPA’s inspector general is looking at Wehrum’s interactions with his former law firm as well as several of its clients, who rank among the nation’s major emitters of greenhouse gases linked to climate change.

Yet another example, my friends, of Trump & Co. putting their own greed and that of their wealthy benefactors above the well being of this nation and its people.  My best guess is that this investigation will quietly fade away, that EPA head Andrew Wheeler will ensure it is all swept under the carpet, and that Wehrum will be replaced with an equally corrupt, noxious person.


Look what’s crawling out from under the rocks …

I’ve said it before and I say it again … when Donald Trump took the oath of office (which he has failed miserably at upholding) it was an invitation to all the slimy creatures to come crawling out from under the rocks where they had been hiding, lying in wait, biding their time.  Two examples …

A professor of law at University of Pennsylvania, Amy Wax, recently told a group of republicans last week that …

“Conservatives need a realistic approach to immigration that … preserves the United States as a Western and First World nation. We are better off if we are dominated numerically … by people from the First World, from the West, than by people who are from less advanced countries.”

Amy WaxWhat. A. Bitch.  She said her position is not racist because her problem with nonwhite immigrants is cultural, rather than racial.  Bullshit.  And … it isn’t only immigrants against whom she is prejudiced.  Last year, in an interview with a professor from Brown University, she said …

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Black student graduate in the top quarter of the class, and rarely, rarely in the top half.”

And then this …

Charlie Rispoli is a 14-year veteran of the police department in Gretna, Louisiana who apparently shares Ms. Wax’ view of how the demographics of this nation should be.  Last Thursday, he posted to his Facebook page …Rispoli

Rispoli and another officer who “liked” the post were both fired, but only five days later, when the public backlash became loud, or as Chief of Police Arthur Lawson said, “a ripple in a pond that became a tidal wave.” The incident is haunting.  How many police officers are there out there who share Rispoli’s view?  We already know there are police officers who would shoot a black man quicker than a white one … what next?

Representative Ocasio-Cortez’ response was, I think, precisely correct …

“This is Trump’s goal when he uses targeted language & threatens elected officials who don’t agree w/ his political agenda. It’s authoritarian behavior. The president is sowing violence. He’s creating an environment where people can get hurt & he claims plausible deniability.”


Sickening

As I occasionally do in the mornings, I checked Trump’s approval rating yesterday morning.  Yes, I know polls are subject to many vagaries and variables, but I use the FiveThirtyEight aggregate of polls, and while I don’t put a lot of store in the actual percentages, I think the trend is a fair indicator of the pulse of the nation.

Imagine my reaction when I saw that his approval rating was at it’s highest point since March 2017, shortly after taking office.  🤢  WHY????  Last night, I found the answer …

Trump has been prolific in his hate speech the past week, spewing trash talk against four congresswomen of colour and not letting up … every morning, while he sits on the potty, his tiny thumbs work the buttons of his twitting machine, never tweeting anything new or original, just the same hatred over and over and over.  Most of us are sick of it, most of us don’t even bother to read it anymore.  But … according to a Pew Research study, a large portion of republicans claim his speech makes them feel excited, proud, happy, and hopeful.  If this doesn’t make you feel sick …

PEW-study.pngI would love to hear from some republicans in response to this.  C’mon, tell me how the hell racist speech makes you feel excited or proud!  Granted, these only represent some 72% – 79%, but folks … on average that is 3 out of 4 republicans!  What the Sam hell is wrong with these people???  The democrats, however, say his speech makes them feel exhausted, concerned, angry and insulted.  I am an independent, but these days I might as well be a democrat, for I cannot imagine ever again voting for a republican with those attitudes.  In fact, I think I will change my party affiliation this week!


And now that my blood pressure is sky high, my teeth are cracked from gritting them, I will leave you with a cartoon to brighten your morning.'toon.jpg