We The People Have Had ENOUGH!

Dear Donald Trump … our lives ARE NOT your personal playthings to do with as you wish for your own greedy, egotistical, narcissistic purposes!  Grrrrrrrrrrrr.  Filosofa is growling and grumbling tonight for a number of reasons …


#1

Several days ago, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said …

“I’m increasingly worried that President Trump will want to shut down the government again because of impeachment. He always likes to create diversions. I hope and pray he won’t want to cause another government shutdown because it might be a diversion away from impeachment.”

When asked on Sunday if he would shut down the government in light of the ongoing impeachment investigations, he said …

“It depends on — it depends on what the negotiation — I wouldn’t commit to anything. It depends on what the negotiation is.”

This is NOT how government works … at least not unless your country is a tinpot dictatorship!  But then, Donald Trump is neither educated nor enlightened on how government works, and has no concern for the standards and practices, nor for the people of this nation, let alone the U.S. Constitution.

Trump’s last government shutdown, which was also a political ploy to attempt to force Congress to fund his damnable wall, was the longest in the history of the nation.  It cost people their homes, their cars … their livelihood.  Is he going to do it again?  Does he foolishly believe that the House of Representatives will shirk their duty and drop the impeachment investigations in exchange for his signature on the short-term spending bill before November 21st?  If he believes that, he better think again.  If he shuts our government down again for his own personal gain, somebody really ought to put strychnine in his Big Mac!


#2

For those republicans and Trump supporters who may be unaware … California is one of the 50 states in the United States, and the most populous state.  The population of California is 39.56 million, or approximately 11.9% of the nation’s total.  And California is burning!  California is experiencing horrible wildfires that are threatening land, structures, crops, and lives.  Nearly 100,000 acres have burned in recent weeks, and thousands of people have been forced from their homes.  And how, you might ask, is the head of the federal government helping?California-fire-1In his usual way, by placing the blame on others, by saying he could have done it better, and by threatening to cut off federal aid to the state — all done via tweet, of course.

First, he blamed California Governor Gavin Newsom who has been a critic of Trump for some time.

“The Governor of California, @GavinNewsom, has done a terrible job of forest management. I told him from the first day we met that he must “clean” his forest floors regardless of what his bosses, the environmentalists, DEMAND of him. Must also do burns and cut fire stoppers …”

California-fire-2This from a ‘man’ who has no idea what he is even talking about, a ‘man’ who last year said that Finland ‘rakes’ their forests, a faux pas that the president of Finland quickly put paid to, showing Trump for the fool that he is!

Newsom fired back …

“You don’t believe in climate change. You are excused from this conversation.”

Thumbs up to Governor Newsom!  👍👍California-fire-3The reality is that increased temperatures due to global warming are causing the huge wildfires in California, according to a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  Drier, warmer conditions lead to vegetation drying out and becoming more flammable.  And what has Trump done?  He has rolled back nearly every single environmental regulation that would have helped reduce carbon emissions that are exacerbating the effects of climate change.  He is more nearly responsible for those wild fires than any other individual on the planet, in my book!  And yet …

“Every year, as the fire’s [sic] rage & California burns, it is the same thing – and then he comes to the Federal Government for $$$ help. No more. Get your act together Governor.”

Jackass.


#3

And speaking of climate change …

Yesterday, Trump kept to his threat, taking the first step in the process to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, making the U.S. the only nation to ever have done so, making us the only nation that appears not to give a damn about the environment, or the future of life on Earth.  In a tweet, Mike Pompeo bragged about the move, saying …

“Today we begin the formal process of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. The U.S. is proud of our record as a world leader in reducing all emissions, fostering resilience, growing our economy, and ensuring energy for our citizens. Ours is a realistic and pragmatic model.”

I beg to differ.  First of all, we are NOT proud of anything this nation has done regarding the environment since Trump took office.  We have, under the lunacy of Donald Trump, done not one damn thing to cut emissions, protect the land or wildlife habitats, the water or air, but instead have removed nearly every regulation that was in place prior to January 20, 2017!  I had hoped he would be gone from office long before this day rolled around.  There is still some hope, since the country will not be officially out of the agreement until November 4, 2020 … the day after Trump is (fingers crossed) voted out of office.

In response to Pompeo’s tweet, Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and a leading expert on the United Nations’ international climate negotiations process, warned …

“President Trump’s decision to walk away from the Paris agreement is irresponsible and shortsighted. All too many people are already experiencing the costly and harmful impacts of climate change in the form of rising seas, more intense hurricanes and wildfires, and record-breaking temperatures.”

If the U.S. does, in fact, officially pull out, we will be THE ONLY nation on the entire globe that is not in the agreement and is not even trying to save the environment.  Think about that one for a minute.  Or two minutes.


I have more, but … well, that’s enough for the moment … I don’t want to make you all growl and grumble too.  There is one bit of a bright spot.  Remember last week I wrote about Washington Nationals’ pitcher Sean Doolittle who, after much thought, decided he would decline the offer to visit the White House for a celebration of the team’s win?  His reasoning was that Trump had gone against many of Mr. Doolittle’s own values with his racist ways.  Well, when I wrote that, it was rumoured that several other players were also considering declining the offer, and I am pleased to report that six other players in addition to Mr. Doolittle did not attend the White House ceremony yesterday.  They are Anthony Rendon, Joe Ross, Javy Guerra, Wilmer Difo, Victor Robles, and Michael Taylor.  I applaud them for having the courage to follow their conscience.

What’s A Week Without Snarky Snippets?

Someday perhaps I will go an entire week without feeling a need to impart my snarky snippets, but today is not that day.


In dispute of science …

We’ve all seen and heard the climate change deniers … those who, regardless of background or education, claim that they know more than all the highly-educated scientists who have studied the environment and climate for years, some for decades.  But here’s a new one … a germ denier!

Fox News host Pete Hegseth has said on air that he has not washed his hands for 10 years because “germs are not a real thing”.

Say What???  Has this dude never caught a cold?

“My 2019 resolution is to say things on-air that I say off-air. I don’t think I’ve washed my hands for 10 years. I inoculate myself. Germs are not a real thing. I can’t see them; therefore, they’re not real.”

If you ever had doubts that Fox News does not hire the brightest in the field, here is your proof.  Hegseth later said that he meant it as a joke, but personally … I’m not so sure.

“We’re on a show and we have fun and we banter and I’m like, eh, you know, maybe I haven’t washed my hands for 10 years. My half-hearted commentary to the point is, we live in a society where people walk around with bottles of Purell in their pockets, and they sanitize 19,000 times a day as if that’s going to save their life. I take care of myself and all that, but I don’t obsess over everything all the time.”

This explains, maybe, why Hegseth works for Fox instead of CNN.


Oh yeah … alternative facts … how could I forget?

You’ll remember how Trump and his minions attempted to say that the crowd at his inauguration was “the biggest ever”?  Turned out it was a significantly smaller crowd than Obama had at his inauguration in 2008, but Trump never gave up the lie.  Well, last night he held a pep rally in El Paso, Texas, designed to stir up enthusiasm for his ridiculous border wall, and once again he inflated his crowd size.

Trump told the crowd gathered to watch him speak in the El Paso County Coliseum that so many people wanted to be there that the El Paso Fire Department found a way to cram 10,000 people inside the Coliseum, which typically has a capacity of only 6,500. The El Paso Fire Department, however, told Zahira Torres, an editor for the El Paso Times that the arena holds 6,500 people and that’s exactly how many were permitted to enter.

Trump also had to downplay Beto O’Rourke’s competing rally …

“A young man who’s got very little going for himself, except he’s got a great first name, he is, he has challenged us. So we have, let’s say, 35,000 people tonight — and he has 200 people, 300 people, not too good. In fact, what I would do is I would say that may be the end of his presidential bid. But he did challenge us.”

Beto-rally.jpgPolice estimated that Beto’s rally was attended by between 10,000-15,000 people.


The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree …

I don’t know why Trump’s older sons, Don, Jr. and Eric, are given a platform to speak, for neither are particularly intelligent, neither are charismatic, neither hold a position within our government, and thus they are irrelevant.  But speak they do, and like their father, neither are particularly well-spoken. Trump-jr.But that didn’t stop Trump’s eldest, Don, Jr., from speaking at the aforementioned rally in El Paso last night.

“I love seeing some young conservatives, ‘cuz I know it’s not easy.  Keep up that fight, bring it to your schools. You don’t have to be indoctrinated by these loser teachers that are trying to sell you on socialism from birth. You don’t have to do it.”

I repeat … Say WHAT???  Needless to say, Don’s comment did not go over well with teachers who, while not in the audience because they were out teaching socialism to these poor little kiddos, nonetheless heard about the comment.  If it’s possible, I think Junior is even dumber than Senior!


The master speaks … will Trump listen?

Fox News’ Sean Hannity had as much to do with causing that last shutdown that lasted 35 days as any, save perhaps radical bimbo Ann Coulter.  Today, Sean rides again!

Bipartisan negotiators in Congress have been working day and night to come up with a deal that would be acceptable to both parties, as well as Trump, and avert another shutdown starting at midnight on Friday.  A tentative agreement has been reached, but Sean is not happy …

“On this so-called compromise, I’m getting details. 1.3 billion and not even a wall or barrier… Any Republican that supports this garbage compromise, you will have to explain.”

hannity-trumpGarbage compromise?  Sean Hannity, the lowest of low in the broadcast world, should be largely irrelevant.  Instead, the so-called president actually listens to Sean more than he listens to his experienced, educated advisors (Sean is a college drop-out with zero experience in lawmaking or government), and therein lies the danger.  Will Trump take Sean’s words to heart?  Is it possible that, rather than sign the bipartisan bill, Trump will allow the government to shut down once again on the advice of a media personality?

As of this writing, it is reported that Trump claims he is “not happy” with the deal and that if the government is shut down again, it is all the “fault of democrats”.  Yeah, right, Donnie.


And now, I return you to your regularly scheduled programming!

The United States of Fox

Since when do television personalities drive U.S. policy?  Since when does the president of the nation ask the media pundits what he should do?  Why, the answer is simple:  Since 20 January 2017, the day Donald Trump was inaugurated to an office he is incapable of managing.

No one person can know everything … I get that.  In the past, though, presidents have hired people called ‘advisors’ to help them determine the best course of action.  Trump hired people called advisors, but refuses to listen to or heed the advice of the ones who actually know what they’re doing.  The others are just window dressing or campaign donors to whom a favour was owed.  The ones who knew what they were doing got tired of being berated, abused and ignored, and they have since left the room.

Left to right:  Sean Hannity, Sebastian Gorka, Steve Doocy, Lou Dobbs, Ann Coulter

“Is there any, in your judgment, any reason in the world why he should not call that emergency?” —  Fox News host Lou Dobbs

“Let’s be very clear, this is just politics, this is about the vote. This has nothing to do with the security of the nation. And on February the 16th, I expect [Trump] to declare a national emergency to build the wall.” – Sebastian Gorka to Sean Hannity

“Agreed.” – Sean Hannity

“If the committee of Republicans and Democrats now meeting on Border Security is not discussing or contemplating a Wall or Physical Barrier, they are Wasting their time! And if they’re contemplating amnesty, it’s also a waste of time.” – Ann Coulter

Now, I don’t think any of the above people were elected by We the People to govern this nation, were they?  And I seriously don’t think any of them have the education or experience to do so (yes, yes, I know – neither does Donald Trump, but that is a whole ‘nother issue!).

Sean Hannity attended three different colleges – New York University, UC Santa Barbara, and Adelphi University – but lasted only two years total before dropping out to start a house-painting business.  He has never held a position within the U.S. government.

Ann Coulter, surprisingly, graduated cum laude from Cornell University with a B.S. in History, and then received her Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School.  I shake my head over this one, as I do over the fact that Kellyanne Conway has a J.D. from George Washington University Law School.  An education wasted in both cases, I would say.

Lou Dobbs has a B.A. in Economics from Harvard University, and briefly attended law school.

Steve Doocy has a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Kansas. Doocy is also implicated in Gretchen Carlson’s lawsuit against Roger Ailes. The lawsuit alleges: “Doocy engaged in a pattern and practice of severe and pervasive sexual harassment …”

All of the above have been involved in the promulgation of conspiracy theories over the past decade.  None were hired to determine public policy.  None are, as far as I know, on the U.S. federal payroll, although it wouldn’t surprise me to find that they are.  And yet, they are influencing Donald Trump far more than We the People who elected him and pay his salary are.  (And yes, folks, he receives a salary)

The most glaring example, of course, came in December when Trump had agreed to sign the spending bill that would prevent a government shutdown, until …

  • Ann Coulter described Trump as a gutless “sociopath” who, without a border wall, “will just have been a joke presidency who scammed the American people.”

  • Rush Limbaugh said on his show that without the $5 billion, any signing of a budget stop gap would show “Trump gets nothing and the Democrats get everything.”


  • Steve Doocy of ‘Fox and Friends’ said that without wall funding, “the swamp wins,” adding that Trump will “look like a loser” without wall funding and stating, “This is worth shutting down” the government.

We all know that there is no depth to Donald Trump, that to him the most important thing is that people “say nice things” about him, so when his favourite television pundits seemed to be turning against him, there was no thought in his head about what was the best thing to do for the country, but only what would get his Fox buddies to talk nice about him again.  And thus, we had a 35-day government shutdown that is estimated to have cost us approximately $11 billion.Fox-Trump-3And now … we are headed for either another shutdown or a declaration that the nation is in a “state of emergency”.  As far as I can see, there is no emergency and it is a political tool that Trump is likely to use to keep his friends at Fox saying nice things.  Can the republicans really not see what a total failure their ‘leader’ is?  Can his fealty to Fox News to the exclusion of the citizens of this nation continue to be ignored?  And if so, at what cost?   Think about it.

A Good Deal!!!

I don’t know about you guys, but I could use a little humour at Trump’s expense today.  Andy Borowitz is always good for a few laughs.  This column of his is from 24 January, six days ago, but it’s still funny.


borowitz-andyWASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In a bold initiative aimed at ending the shutdown, congressional Democrats on Thursday agreed to fund a border wall and reopen the government if Donald Trump leaves the country forever.

Calling the deal “a huge win for America,” the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said that Trump would get the wall he wanted plus the opportunity to do something “incredibly patriotic” for his country.

Pelosi brushed aside criticism of the offer’s 5.7-billion-dollar price tag, telling reporters, “When you consider what we are getting in return, nine trillion dollars would be a bargain.”

But, even as Pelosi touted the offer, some details remained unresolved, such as finding a country willing to accept Trump.

Although Russia has a practice of providing country houses to former leaders such as Nikita Khrushchev and Boris Yeltsin, it is unclear whether Trump’s two years of service to the Kremlin qualify him for such accommodations.

The White House offered no official response to the Democrats’ offer, but Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani gave it a full-throated endorsement during an appearance on CNN.

“He should absolutely take this deal,” Giuliani said. “I mean, if he stays in the country, he’s probably going to prison.”


And in case that didn’t quite bring a smile to your face … try this!  I call it “My Dream”

A Shutdown Hiatus …

So, Trump has “magnanimously” agreed to open the government for three weeks sans the $5,7 billion he has demanded for his atrocious border wall.  And he is hailed a hero … for doing what he could have done 35 days ago and saved this nation both mega-dollars and many, many headaches.  I, for one, have no praise for him … he’s a day late and a dollar short.  His reasons for finally agreeing to a very short-term truce?  His ratings in the polls were plunging and … La Guardia International Airport in New York was closed, with others sure to follow suit since workers were largely done working without pay.

Don’t get me wrong … I am thankful that the government will re-open for 21 days, at least.  However, a solution seems unlikely to be worked out during that time, and then what?  Trump didn’t capitulate … he is still demanding his ego-toy aka border wall … he just figured he better appease his base before he woke up one morning to find his approval ratings in the single digits. And, as I said, he could have stopped the bleeding long before, but didn’t care enough about the citizens of this nation to do so.  So no, folks, don’t applaud him or pat him on the back … he is still the same vulgar, self-serving Donald Trump.

Now, you would think that everyone would be breathing a sigh of temporary relief at the news, right?  Wrong.  Remember Q-Anon?  Back in August, I posted a re-blog of Gronda’s explanation of the group.   In a nutshell, it is a group of Trump-supporting conspiracy theorists who believe that Trump, at some unspecified point in the future, will declare martial law and that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will hand down hundreds of sealed indictments against Deep State “traitors” like Hillary Clinton, George Soros and President Barack Obama. The group had their 15 minutes of fame last summer and have rarely been heard from since.

Today, Q-Anon crawled out from under their rock to express their outrage at Trump for, as they so succinctly put it, ‘caving’ on the border wall.  Sheesh … a bunch of nuts!  There is, however, reason to be concerned, for this is a radical, gun-toting group who, though lacking depth or organization, know no bounds.  Last June for instance a man with an AR-15 drove onto the Hoover Dam in an armored truck, demanding the government release evidence validating Q-Anon.  Already I have seen some tweets by Q-Anon members calling for the group to “Take the situation into our own hands.”

Surprisingly, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus Mark Meadows praised the agreement to pause the shutdown until February 15th, although he said that Trump promised him he would not back down on his demand for the border wall funding.  He indicated that if the democrats don’t agree over the next three weeks to fund the border wall, he expects Trump to use “executive action”, in other words declaring the state of national emergency he has been threatening for weeks now.

And oh yeah … a few of the Fox ‘News’ pundits – the same ones who goaded Trump into this catastrophic shutdown 35 days ago – are not happy either!  Awwwww … poor babies …coulter-tweet

cernovich-tweetAgain, folks, this isn’t the end of the shutdown, but merely a deferment.  On February 15th, it is quite possible that the whole mess will begin anew.  Trump deserves no praise for finally doing what he should have done more than a month ago, and his motives are his own, not our best interest.

Say WHAT???

Just this morning I wrote about how Trump’s daughter-in-law disparaged the federal workers who are not being paid due to the Trump shutdown, and now this …

Commerce secretary doesn’t understand why unpaid federal workers use food banks

wilbur-rossSecretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said he doesn’t understand why federal workers are visiting food banks during the partial government shutdown, saying they should instead seek low-interest loans from banks and credit unions to supplement their lost wages.  Say WHAT???  How many banks or other institutions do you think are going to be eager to lend a substantial amount of money to a person who has no present income???  Even if they were able to take a loan, the first payment would come due in a month, and Trump appears to be gearing up for a multi-month shut down.  What then, Wilbur???  Oh, by the way … Wilbur Ross has a net worth of approximately $700 million.  Just sayin’.

And then … then he goes on to add insult to injury by saying that these 833,000 men and women who are going without pay through no fault of their own really don’t matter very much to the economy.

“If they never got their pay — which is not the case, they will eventually get it, but if they never got it, you’re talking about a third of a percent on our economy. So it’s not like it’s a gigantic number overall.”

What a slap in the face to the people who have worked for this government in good faith, some for decades.  What a weasel of a little ‘man’ Wilbur Ross is.

wilbur-ross-2

I can’t hear you …

This does, however, give me an idea!  In solidarity with the 833,000 workers who are not able to contribute to our economy by buying new televisions, cars, or other ‘things’, I suggest We The People stage our own ‘shutdown’ … a boycott of all non-essentials for the duration of this shutdown.  I was planning to purchase a new microwave within the coming month (I melted part of mine and now the little micro waves leak out), but I have decided to postpone that … and any other purchases … that are not essential.

I say we show Mr. Ross how very wrong he is!  And to our friends across the pond, I hope you will consider foregoing American-made products for the duration of the shutdown … frankly, you’d do better to buy Japanese products anyway.  Cutting off our nose to spite our face, as my mother used to say?  Not really … the one thing that Trump prides himself on is that despite his efforts to wreck it, the U.S. economy has remained relatively strong.  Threaten that, and perhaps he’ll do what he has to in order to open the government again.

And on a related note …

I would strongly urge all of you to avoid flying if at all possible.  Air traffic controllers and TSA employees are among those who are not being paid.  Fed up with the status quo, many have begun calling in sick, or just frankly saying they cannot afford the cost of transportation to come to work each day.  The three unions that represent air traffic controllers, pilots and flight attendants issued a statement:

“We have a growing concern for the safety and security of our members, our airlines, and the traveling public due to the government shutdown. This is already the longest government shutdown in the history of the United States and there is no end in sight. In our risk averse industry, we cannot even calculate the level of risk currently at play, nor predict the point at which the entire system will break. It is unprecedented.”

Let me go on record here and now as forewarning that if there is any major plane crash in U.S. airspace during this shutdown, it will rest squarely on Donald Trump’s shoulders.  I think it is only a matter of time.  Baggage is not being adequately inspected.  Air traffic controllers are spread thin, are frustrated and tired, which is bound to lead to a loss of focus, distraction.  Some are working second jobs driving for Uber or waiting tables. It is a very intense job that requires constant focus, constant attention to every little detail.  A few short seconds of distraction can lead to a disaster.  An un-inspected suitcase or carry-on could contain a bomb.

It is not my intent to be a harbinger of doom, but face it folks, this is serious.  This shutdown is playing with the lives of everyone in this nation.  It’s time we find ways to do our part to show Mr. Trump and the Senate that this is hurting the people they are supposed to represent and that we have had enough!

Oh The Generosity …

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


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


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


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

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

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

lara trump

Lara Trump

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Filosofa’s State of the Union Address

Yesterday, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, sent a letter to Donald Trump strongly urging that he either reschedule the State of the Union Address or deliver it in writing, in the wake of the ongoing government shutdown, which entered its 26th day on Wednesday, and which has affected nearly 800,000 federal workers. Pelosi cited critical government agencies in charge of overseeing the event — namely U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security — that have been hobbled by the shutdown.

Under the circumstances, it is highly unlikely that Trump will, in fact, deliver a State of the Union address in person on Friday, 29 January.  So, it seemed prudent, just in case I am asked to deliver it in his stead, to go ahead and write my own speech … Text dividersGood evening Ms. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, my fellow Americans.

Ms. Pelosi graciously invited me to fill in for Mr. Trump in giving the State of the Union Address tonight, for with the government shutdown in its 39th day, the Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security are stretched far too thin to provide adequate security to attend this address to Congress.  It was determined that far fewer people want to bump me off than Mr. Trump, so my safety seems not to be at risk and thus I am here to deliver the speech to Congress and the Nation tonight.  Mr. Trump’s speechwriters worked very hard to provide me with a written speech, however, I seem to have left it back at the hotel, so luckily I have written my own.

This is called the State of the Union address because the purpose is to inform the American people how the country is doing, and where we are going, what we plan to accomplish in the coming year.  Let me start with how we are doing.

America is more divided today than at any time since the end of the Civil War years.  We have problems, folks – serious problems.  As I mentioned today marks the 39th day of the partial government shutdown that is affecting everyone in one way or another.  You, the people of this once-great nation are losing confidence, and understandably so, in your government.  Investors are losing confidence and it is being reflected in the dropping stock market and also in the job market.  Consumer prices are on the rise.  The food you buy to feed your families costs more than it did a month ago and there is a very real danger that meat and produce may be contaminated, since the U.S. Department of Agriculture hasn’t sufficient staff to continue food safety inspections. 

Apart from the government shutdown, we have a plethora of other problems that we seem unable or unwilling to address.  Perhaps the most critical one is that of the environment.  Since the rollback of past environmental regulations that were intended to cut back on carbon emissions, it was reported earlier this week that carbon emissions in the U.S. have increased by 3.4%, not decreased as they needed to.  This is a problem, not only for the United States, but for our neighbors, Mexico and Canada, as well as the rest of the globe. 

The other critical problem facing the nation is that we have lost the trust and respect of our allies, which leaves us in an extremely vulnerable position.  We abandoned our allies when we announced our intent to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, when we exited the Iran nuclear agreement, and more recently when we announced that we would pull all U.S. troops out of Syria, leaving our allies holding the bag.  In addition, our threats to pull out of NATO, our unwarranted criticism of our allies, high import tariffs, and seeming attentiveness toward our adversaries further have our allies wondering whether they could depend on us in case of an emergency.  This is a dangerous situation.

Here at home, we face other problems.

Last year we saw a number of mass shootings in the United States.  113 people were either killed or injured in school shootings alone, and young people are asking us why we don’t do something, why we don’t pass laws to keep guns out of the hands of people with mental problems, of people who are known domestic abusers, why we don’t have stronger gun laws in this country. 

The nation is torn apart by the debate about immigration and a wall on the border between the United States and Mexico.  Border states are particularly torn, for such a wall would limit, if not eliminate trade and tourism between our two countries and would almost certainly cause further political and economic unrest. 

Our education system is failing our young people.  They are not receiving the education they need in order to succeed, to become the next generation of leaders, of scientists, of historians or great inventors.  Instead, we are training them only for specific jobs, thereby severely limiting their options.  

We have fallen far behind other Western nations in the development of renewable energy sources, have become far too dependent on fossil fuels which are causing more damage and destruction to the environment every day.

Bigotry in all its forms is at an all time high in our nation today.  Racial tensions are the highest they have been since the 1960s when people died to gain Civil Rights for African-Americans, for all people.  Rights are being taken away from the LGBT community.  Women’s rights are being trampled.  Muslims are discriminated against openly in public.

Our elections are no longer fair, for almost every state has gerrymandered districts, newly imposed voter identification laws that discriminate against the poor and minorities.  Polling places in poor districts are closed, or in some cases the hours dramatically reduced, making it impossible for a working person in one of those neighborhoods to vote.  Foreign entities have interfered in our elections, often skewing results.  Both domestic and foreign lobbyist firms have influenced elections and now have some of the people sitting in this room tonight in their pockets. All of this has led to voter disenfranchisement and apathy.

And healthcare … drug prices are obscenely inflated in the United States, as are insurance costs.  The ACA has been chipped at to the extent that many can no longer afford their health insurance.  People are sick and dying for lack of money. 

I wish I had better news to report, but frankly, ladies and gentlemen, our nation is in a sorry state today.  I cannot speak for Mr. Trump as to any plans for the coming year, but I have given you a rundown, in brief, of the State of the Nation.  And on that note, I thank you for your time this evening.

Only Slightly Snarky Snippets …

As I sit here, looking out at the cold snow, watching Oliver watch the birdies outside the window, wishing for a sign that spring is near, and pondering the meaning of life, I decided today was a snippet sort of day.  I considered building a nice fire to ward off the chill, but the management here doesn’t allow it … just because we don’t have fireplaces.  Silly, I know, but there you have it.  So, wrapped up in a blankie with a purring creature in my lap, it’s either fall asleep or write.


No, Mr. Watson, you are NOT correct!

James Dewey Watson, age 90, is a nasty little man.  In 1962, he won the Nobel Prize for outlining the double-helix structure of DNA.  Okay, an achievement that has provided useful information for medical science.  Sorry, James, but that doesn’t exonerate you from being a racist.

james-watsonIn 2007 Watson, a molecular biologist, geneticist and zoologist, claimed that black people were less intelligent than white people and the idea that “equal powers of reason” were shared across racial groups was a delusion.  In response, he was suspended from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory where he had served as the laboratory’s director and president for about 35 years, and later he assumed the role of chancellor and then Chancellor Emeritus.

It wasn’t only people of African lineage that he disparaged, however.  He had little respect for women or obese people. A couple of quotes …

“Whenever you interview fat people, you feel bad, because you know you’re not going to hire them.”

“If you are really stupid, I would call that a disease. The lower 10 per cent who really have difficulty, even in elementary school, what’s the cause of it? A lot of people would like to say, ‘Well, poverty, things like that.’ It probably isn’t. So, I’d like to get rid of that, to help the lower 10 per cent.”

And then, two weeks ago, he iced the cake.  Appearing on a PBS Documentary “American Masters: Decoding Watson”, he revealed that his scientifically unsupported views on race and genetics have not changed “at all” since 2007.  To their credit, the Cold Spring Harbor Lab has revoked his honorary titles.

“Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) unequivocally rejects the unsubstantiated and reckless personal opinions Dr. James D. Watson expressed on the subject of ethnicity and genetics during the PBS documentary ‘American Masters: Decoding Watson’ that aired January 2, 2019.”

I repeat … James Watson, brilliant though his work may have been, is a nasty little man.


Let the courts decide …

Section One of the thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution reads …

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

Last week a group of federal employees working without pay during the partial government shutdown filed a lawsuit accusing Trump and their bosses of violating the 13th Amendment.  The lawsuit is one of several that have been filed by groups of federal employees who are being forced to work without pay as Trump continues his childish temper tantrum that has kept parts of the government shut down for nearly a month now.  But this one differs in that it is the first such lawsuit to invoke the 13th Amendment.

The group’s lawyer, Michael Kator, said …

“If this is not resolved soon, affected employees may find that beginning February 1 they will no longer have health insurance. And, if this lasts ‘months or even years’ as [Trump] has suggested, there will be defaults, foreclosures and even bankruptcies. A promise to pay back pay will not forestall those consequences.”

Sadly, legal minds aren’t offering much hope that the lawsuit will succeed, but my hat is off to the group for trying.  It is, I think, unconscionable to expect people to keep working for no pay, especially given that there are a couple of very simple solutions to this problem:  Trump could come down off his high horse and sign the damn spending bill, or the Senate could find their cojones and pass a veto-proof bill.

If the approximately 420,000 federal workers who are expected to work with naught but a ‘promise’ of back pay decide to walk off the job, this nation will be plunged into chaos … planes will not fly, trade between the U.S. and Mexico will cease, Secret Service protection to the current and former presidents will cease, U.S. embassies will close, food inspections will be halted, weather forecasts will cease, and more.

Trump claims that the wall is “essential” for national security, but this shutdown is putting national security at risk in ways that immigrants never have, never could.


Canadians have heart …

Let’s finish this post on a positive note, shall we?  A Canadian friend sent me this on Facebook this morning …natca-pizza-new-englandAir traffic controllers from Atlantic Canada directed a fleet of special arrivals into the New York Air Traffic Control Center on Friday night, as a gesture of solidarity and respect.

And each was covered in a layer of gooey melted cheese.

The Canadian Air Traffic Control Association units in Gander, N.L., and Moncton, N.B., ordered pizzas for all of their colleagues at the control center on Long Island, who have been working without pay since the partial U.S. government shutdown began on Dec. 22.pizza!According to Doug Church, deputy director of public affairs with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) in the U.S., there are currently 14,000 controllers working without pay.

And they’re thrilled about the pizzas.

“It’s just a really good shot in the arm of positive energy and positive emotion to know that, ‘Hey they’ve got our back,’  On behalf of the entire NATCA and air traffic control around this country, we extend our thanks and our gratitude.”


fire in fireplace.gif

America In The Eyes Of The World — A Guest Post By John Fioravanti

I have been so pleased by the excellent guest posts I have received from friends in the UK — David, Gary and Colette — as a part of Project Coexist, giving us a chance to see how people outside the U.S. view us these days, in light of the changes in our nation.  Today I am happy to share with you another excellent point-of-view from Canadian friend, John Fioravanti!

America Today: A Canadian View

I appreciate Jill Dennison’s generous invitation to be a guest on her blog site. As a retired high school history teacher, I don’t presume to be an expert on this topic or any other – nor do I claim to speak for any Canadians other than myself. Having said that, I believe that many Canadians are profoundly saddened and anxious by developments on our southern border since the Trump Administration took power.

Having taught American history for many years, I have some understanding about the events and ideas that shaped America from its colonial days. Like all nations, the United States has evolved throughout its history in many significant ways. Today, I see America at a crossroad as many of the foundational values are being tossed aside for political expediency.

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a bilateral meeting at the G7 Summit in Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada, June 8, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Diplomacy is a dirty word in the Trump White House and I am horrified that the president resorts to bullying and personal insult in his conduct of relations with Canada and the other Allies. Where is the dignity and respect that normally characterize international relationships – especially with allied nations? These were the tactics used against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau throughout the NAFTA negotiations. The worst part about that episode was that it utterly destroyed the trust that existed between Canada and the United States throughout the 20th Century and into the 21st.

Mulroney and Reagan sing “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” at the 1985 Shamrock Summit.

I never expected Trudeau and Trump to become fast personal friends since they are divided by their political ideologies. Brian Mulroney and Ronald Reagan were both conservative leaders and good friends. Stephen Harper, a conservative, did not become friendly with the liberal-minded Obama. Yet, Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau became good friends with Obama. My point here is that the political leanings of our national leaders often determine the temperature of the relationship. Under Donald Trump, that temperature has become decidedly frigid, and that benefits neither nation.

As I consider Trump’s poor behaviour in Washington and on the world stage, I am most concerned with his complete break with truth and honesty. I am appalled that so many millions of Americans still support him. Do they not value truth and honesty? Or are they just willing to subvert those values as a fitting sacrifice to achieve their political agenda? These are very troubling questions. I fear for my American cousins and for the rest of the free world.

Much has been written about the divisions within America. Donald Trump did not create those divisions, but he has single-mindedly exploited them to appease his base. In like manner, he has driven a wedge of distrust between the United States and her traditional allies. At the same time, Trump pays public homage to authoritarian leaders around the globe. His chaotic foreign policy has resulted in trade wars with allies and foes alike and the result is the isolation of America on the world stage.

I live a short two-hour drive from our southern border at Niagara but I have not driven across to visit friends in New York State since Trump took power – nor will I until America votes him out of power. That makes me sad. His mercurial policies cause me to be anxious and fearful about travelling in the States. Perhaps that is silly but it is my truth.

As a youngster, I remember being glued to the TV news as America’s cities burned during the race riots of the 1960s. As I listen to the white supremacist rhetoric and watch news reports of children and minority groups being targeted in mass shootings in America today, the old horror of those bygone days rears its ugly head.

Canada has its fair share of problems too. We have racial divisions of our own. There are people in Canada who think Donald Trump is a great example to follow. As a liberal, I’ve always done my best to accept that others have differing political and social views to my own, but I fear that American conservatism characterized by dishonesty and a total lack of integrity has made inroads among Canada’s conservatives.

Today, America is writhing in the midst of a political stalemate that has caused a partial shutdown of the federal government. Neither Trump nor the Democrat leaders in Congress are willing to blink. Meanwhile, thousands of federal workers find themselves used as political hostages who may lose their savings, their homes, and their peace of mind as a result. This is morally reprehensible!

Presupposing America can emerge from the next two years in one piece, will American voters elect leaders who will take steps to heal the nation and heal the broken relationships with the allies? Who can be certain? The divided house called America is frightening to behold. The fate of the free world hangs in the balance.

Thank  you so much for your perspective as one of our two closest neighbors, John!  I’m wondering if there are plans in the works in your own government to take steps, such as building a big, beautiful wall, to protect your southern border, for under our current circumstances, many of us may be fleeing to the north to escape political persecution here!