Why Didn’t I Think Of That???

Nicholas Kristof’s column yesterday in the New York Times was his usual excellent analysis of the five craziest things about the government shutdown and Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion for his ego wall.  But what iced the cake for me was the brilliant idea he posed at the conclusion of his piece.  And so, I share his column with you … let me know what you think of his idea!


Trump’s Five Craziest Arguments About the Shutdown

Oh, and about that wall. Here’s a financing plan that’s a win-win.

nicholas-kristof-thumblargeBy Nicholas Kristof
Opinion Columnist

I’d like to apologize to all the “banana republics” I’ve offended over the decades with snarky references to their dysfunction. This is karma: I now live in a nation where a petulant president has shut down much of the most powerful government in the world — so the White House isn’t even paying its water bills.

The government has shut down before, under presidents of both parties. But this shutdown is particularly childish and unnecessary; to revise Churchill, rarely have so many suffered so much at the hands of so few.

It’s difficult to pick the craziest of the arguments that President Trump is making about the shutdown — there’s a vast buffet of imbecility to choose from — but here’s my good-faith effort.

1. This is a crisis! Terrorists are crossing the border! Rapists!

This is more like a lull than a crisis. The number of people apprehended at the border remains near a 45-year low. From 1972 on, there were more apprehensions every single year than there were in 2017.

As for terrorists, experts say that there isn’t a single known case of a terrorist sneaking into the United States along unfenced areas of the southern border. Ever.

2. Only a wall can do the job. A big beautiful wall that stops people and drugs.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was wrong to describe a wall as “an immorality,” for we need border security, and a wall in some places can be effective. But a great majority of the undocumented immigrants in the country didn’t arrive by sneaking across the border, but rather came legally, often at airports, and overstayed their visas. The most beautiful of walls wouldn’t stop them.

Likewise, drug smuggling is a real problem, but narcotics have mostly been smuggled in on trucks, cars and airplanes at official ports of entry, or through tunnels under the border, or through the postal system — not by individuals crossing remote parts of the border.

“The Daily Show” dug up a 2004 college graduation speech in which Trump counseled perseverance of just the kind that makes walls, by themselves, not terribly effective: “Never, ever give up. … If there’s a concrete wall in front of you, go through it, go over it, go around it, but get to the other side of the wall.”

3. But this is a humanitarian issue!

Yes, it is. The most egregious humanitarian concern has been Trump’s brutal policy of separating children from parents at the border.

“Kids are still being separated,” Lee Gelernt of the A.C.L.U. told me. Mostly the government does this when it says that a parent has a criminal history, but the offenses sometimes were minor or unsubstantiated.

Meanwhile, the government shutdown causes other tragedies. For example, even in normal times 3,000 people a year die in the United States from food-borne illness, yet the Food and Drug Administration has now had to stop most routine food inspections, with inspectors sent home on furlough. The result may well be more people getting sick or dying from food poisoning.

4. The president doesn’t need Congress. After all, he’s the president!

Plenty of people would be a bit relieved if Trump took the dubious route of declaring a national emergency and trying to steal, er, divert money intended for disaster victims to pay for his wall. It might be a way out of our national stalemate, allowing the government to reopen.

But look, folks, when we welcome our president doing something possibly illegal, as he unjustly takes money from disaster victims, that just confirms that we have a crisis — not at the border but in Washington.

Trump’s wall isn’t about governing but about creating a political symbol and rallying his base. The problem is that it’s an expensive symbol.

By my calculations, the $5.7 billion could send 100,000 at-risk American kids to a high-quality preschool for a year AND provide Pell grants for 100,000 students to attend college for a full four years, with enough left over to ALSO provide a year’s comprehensive treatment to 115,000 Americans struggling with opioid addiction.

5. Anyway, Mexico will pay for the wall.

Trump repeatedly declared that Mexico would pay for the wall, and he still insists that Mexico will pay for it indirectly “many, many times over.” So I have a solution to the whole mess.

Since Mexico will pay for the wall eventually, the problem now is one of cash flow. Fortunately, we have financial instruments to deal with precisely this issue.

I propose that Trump pay the $5.7 billion himself, and then the U.S. will repay him (with a nice interest rate) as the Mexican payments for the wall pour in. The Federal Reserve can verify the Mexican income stream and forward the sums to Trump.

Since he’s so confident that the wall will pay for itself, he should be delighted with this option. Right, Mr. President?

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Now why didn’t I think of that???

America In The Eyes Of The World — A Guest Post By Colette

Today I have another guest post in response to my plea for readers around the globe to share with us their views of the U.S. in today’s world.  Colette has generously taken the time to write a thoughtful analysis of how the U.S. fits … or doesn’t fit … with the rest of the world today, and how our policies and leadership have affected the rest of the world.  Thank you so much, Colette, for this excellent and sobering analysis!


How did America Lose its Way in the World?

The USA, for many decades, maintained leadership in the world of economics, politics and living standards.

In 2008, that all changed when a poor economy, during the end of the Bush administration, triggered job losses and foreclosures on newly purchased real estate. The Prime Rate Mortgage scheme unravelled spectacularly, as people walked away from their homes. Financial Institutions holding the debt load across the world, fell like dominoes, crippling the world economy. The Bush administration had allowed for a scandalous mortgage scheme to exist. Outrageously, Senator John McCain exonerated Republicans by falsely pinning the blame for the financial fallout on the Democrats. Trust was lost in America.

Then, the rise of Chinese, Russian, Brazilian, and Indian (BRIC) economies created the global financial growth once enjoyed by the USA. They, and the fifth member, South Africa, have developed enormously. These nations are forming stronger inter-development alliances with interested parties and no longer depend on the EU and the US economies for survival.

America, despite the best efforts of Barack Obama to rebuild confidence, has lost the respect of other nations. With the loss of trust in America, came the loss of safety for political allies. America was no longer a major player in the World. Barack Obama was unable to adequately rebuild those fractured relationships. There were no viable Democrats waiting in the ‘wings’ who had a definitive strategy for bringing back jobs and rebuilding the economic status that the American public wanted. A political void existed.

I don’t like Donald Trump. I read his ‘Art of the Deal’ when it was first published in 1987. It didn’t take me long to realise that the man could use spin to sell any abhorrent idea to anyone. I also noticed how he manipulated officials to win planning permission for constructing his ostentatious buildings.

I thought Donald Trump to be the perfect TV host of the American version of ‘The Apprentice.’ His bullying, bellow of ‘You’re Fired!’ to contestants was an accurate personification of his real self. Donald Trump is not the perfect man for the position of President of the United States.

Trump, fresh from his instant TV stardom, rode in like a cowboy with guns blazing. Mowing down friends and foes alike, he boasted to his TV audience, “We’re gonna Make America Great Again!” It was a terrible ‘John Wayne’ imitation, but it was enough to mobilise poor-town Americans into lifting their heads up from dusty bars across the Nation. They recognised Trump from his appearances on their living room screens as someone who knew business and how to make money. As a collective, they put their fists in the air and said, “Yeah, we’re gonna make America great again! They were not seemingly aware of the debts that Trump had incurred in his own dealings, nor of his use of tax avoidance and double dealing tactics.

My husband, a financial man for much of his working life, saw a visionary Donald Trump providing hope for a better economy. His view, was to give the man a chance! He tells me that Donald Trump, whether you like him or not, has made progress on his pre-election promises.

I don’t really think my husband knows Trump’s full history, nor do I think that he cares, so that may also be true of Trump’s many supporters.

Unfortunately, Donald Trump is full of old ideas, old philosophies, and old tricks. And he believes that he, ‘The Donald,’ is above the law, above the Constitution, and above any need to be diplomatic with other nations. He plays the Presidency as he did his own empire. He believes that his only hindrances are the Democrats and a few million Hispanics on his southern border. He does not personally like or feel any compassion for economic migrants because he is a covert racist and doesn’t want them in ‘his’ America.

The lack of trust in America has extended into the very real issue of world climate change. There is hesitation on global action as America, under Donald Trump’s instruction, has now left the bargaining ‘table.’ Other nations mumble verbal commitments, but their trust in American leadership has been abused yet again. Suspicion and hostility about how the Paris Agreement might work without US involvement has ground proceedings to a halt.

I watched a May 2018 interview with ‘Stephen Fry,’ a British actor. How did he see America today? He dropped his head saying, “Oh it’s terribly unfortunate! ” He also went on to say that Donald Trump used gangster and criminal tactics to force his agenda. He says Trump’s popularity is driven by ‘clickbait’ issues posted on social media, that is then reiterated over and over again, in televised news.

Stephen Fry also predicts that Donald Trump will run a second term, and so does my husband. Why? Because Donald Trump commands attention. He keeps his fingers working on his Twitter account so that he makes world news every day! A certain percentage of Americans see Donald Trump’s constant barrage of media blustering as ‘the real thing.’ They are fooled into believing that ‘America IS Great Again! ” So, they will vote him in again because Trump’s fake news fiasco is working!

Donald Trump tosses out outrageous propaganda which the media just gobbles up and feeds to us wholesale. Stephen Fry said that if nobody listened, and nobody clicked on the social media links, all the propaganda would disappear, and so would Donald Trump’s success.

Brits in general, feel that they hear far too much about American politics, especially during elections. And in truth, not many ordinary people on this side of the pond care what Donald Trump does, but those same people lap up the articles written about Trump because they reinforce some parallel issues that arise with Brexit.

Trump’s firings of his staff, the withdrawal of troops, the detention and degradation of migrants, the threat to keep the government in lock down, and his never-ending tirade about the ‘wall,’ all invoke fear. Trump hopes to trigger a state of emergency in a paralysed nation fearful of attack. These are the ‘plays’ of a man desperate to have the rest of the world take notice of America and see her power. Trump wants to build the economy using the steel industry to build the ‘wall’ and to create an arsenal of new weapons (in the event of a war that he will likely instigate). It is so unfortunate for the American people who must endure the consequences of the lies churned out by Trump. They may see the economy build, but it is not building for them.

The sinister side to all of this, is that Trump may eventually use his bullying tactics one too many times with China. It could backfire spectacularly in 2019 as a China/Russia alliance becomes a mega joint strategy against the perceived US threats. Donald Trump is playing with fire. His military commanders know it, and so do his allies. Other countries are quickly backing away from Trump’s influence as he drags the good citizens of America down a very dark black hole whilst chasing his own empire.

 ‘Trust’ and ‘Safety’ no longer exist in my vocabulary for describing Donald J. Trump’s America. And the consequences of Donald Trump’s flawed plans could herald a change of leadership on the political world stage. If so, it will not be the United States of America in that lead role.

A Guest Post by David M. Prosser …

Yesterday, I put out a plea for some of my friends and readers who live outside the U.S. to write a guest post for this blog about how they view the United States as it stands today.  I’m calling my project simply ‘Coexist’, for despite thousands of miles and oceans between us, we really are neighbors in todays global world, and as such, we need to find a way to understand, to coexist.  We rely on each other for trade, for security, and perhaps most importantly, for cultural understanding.  The U.S. has not been a very good neighbor of late, and most of us are well aware that our standing in the world is greatly diminished.  We know from the media how the leaders of other nations view us, but I want to know how the people of those nations, our friends and neighbors, view us, both as a nation and as people.  The first person to respond to my plea was my dear friend, David Prosser of North Wales in the UK, and today I am publishing his guest post.  Thank you so very much, David, for your time and effort, and for sharing your thoughts.


In answer to my friend Jill Dennison’s call, I am writing to give an opinion from abroad as to how Trump, and more importantly America are viewed these days.

It’s important to note that back in 2016 the American elections were the cause of more interest than usual because a woman was attempting to get to the White House and this time in her own right and not as the wife of a candidate. Would we see the President and her First Man? To be honest most of us gave little or no credence to Donald Trump as the nomination of the Republicans. This was the man who started the rumour that President Obama was not American born. Probably the vilest man in America. As the campaign wore on he started with a chant of ‘Lock her up’ against Hilary Clinton which seemed to overshadow any of her policies, but even so, he couldn’t win. When he had neo Nazis at his events, or KKK and could describe them in glowing terms you knew he couldn’t win. The American people had more sense.

He won, after the electoral college gave him their votes. The popular vote was for Hilary Clinton showing that Americans could vote for both a black man and now a woman to be President. But the electoral College votes were enough to overturn expectations. The worrying thing is that here was a man who had waffled his way through an election on an  unwarranted chant against an opponent and a call for a wall to be built between Mexico and the United States which Mexico would be funding. Most of us never took that as a promise made and thought Mexico would be surprised at Trump’s cheek. It appears they were and they quickly made it clear that no funding for a wall would be coming from Mexico. Trump is a fanaticist who just opens his mouth and lets any stray thought slip out.

We’ve all been following Mr Mueller’s efforts to find the truth behind the election and some of Trump’s mutterings. Within my own little group expectations are that we’ll find that Trump is heavily in hock to Russian banks and that he’s accepted a degree of help from his friend President Putin at manipulating the election. Certainly Russia spent an awful lot of money on the Social sites to bolster Trump’s campaign.

In the two years since he was elected Trump seems to have emasculated the US and turned it into either a laughing stock or a nonentity on the world stage. Trump has single-handedly removed America away from Europe and has canceled America’s promises from the Paris Accord regarding global warming. It amazes us that Trump seems to have declared friendship for the World’s greatest Dictators and have OK’d it for the States to become racist again. It appears the last 50 years have been wiped out and he black people are to be treated as inferior beings again. The worst thing is it looks like this was a feeling kept in the background just waiting to come out again. It’s also OK to want to deny immigration. A country built on immigrants now says ‘No More’ and attempts to block any Moslems from entering the country except Saudi Arabia which though it funds terrorism including the planes hitting the twin towers can do no wrong in Trump’s eyes. It’s still a major surprise here that despite the rubbish that Trump spouts, much of it deliberate lies, that approx 40% of the US continue to support him. At this rate he’ll sell America to the highest bidder before his term ends and retire to some isolated island where he and all his money can happily retire. The family can stay behind and face Mueller’s findings.

Know this, that most of the UK feels for you and wishes you were Trump free. The best we can say for now is Good Luck.Text dividers

Thank you again, David!  And thank you for the Good Luck wishes … after tomorrow night we may need them more than ever!  Now come on, dear friends!  I need a few more volunteers!  I promise it’ll be fun!  

 

A New Project!

Hello friends!

I have been thinking (yes, yes, I know that’s a dangerous thing and trust me, I keep the fire extinguisher close at hand) and I have an idea for a little project that I’d like to run by you.

We know the damage, at least some of it, that Trump and his irresponsible foreign ‘policies’ have done to our reputation, our image abroad from the view of foreign news media and statements by leaders of nations.  But I would like to call on some of my blogging buddies from other nations to kick in their two cents worth as citizens of those nations.

I have blogging friends in Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Australia, the Netherlands, India, Ghana, and Kenya, and I would really like their take on the United States now, with the government shut-down and the looming threat of a national ‘state of emergency’ that will give Trump autocratic powers.

So I’m calling on my friends outside the U.S. — would you be interested in writing a short guest post to be featured here, giving us your own view of the United States as it stands today, with an eye toward our immigration issues, environmental issues (the Paris Accord), the government shutdown, the recent 2018 elections, and any other issues you might like to mention or address?  The more the merrier … I am genuinely interested in your take on this, and also how you think our recent behaviour has affected your own corner of the world.

I will be asking a few of you with whom I regularly correspond via email, but I want anyone and everyone who is interested to participate!  C’mon guys, it’ll be fun!  I only ask that you keep it relatively clean  😄 and preferably to no more than 1,200 words.

Another WTF Moment …

Now wait just a doggone minute here!  Donald Trump willfully, irresponsibly, and recklessly shuts down the government, affecting close to one million federal workers, emasculating the food stamp program, demands that the case against him for emoluments violations cannot proceed, as his lawyers are not allowed to work during the shutdown, but he can take Air Force One and make an unplanned trip to Iraq for no better reason than a photo op???

Would you all like to know that it costs between $180,000 and $200,000 per flight hour to operate Air Force One?  PER. FLIGHT. HOUR.  The trip to Iraq would have taken somewhere between 13- 15 hours.  Do the math.  No wait, I’ll even do it for you.  Round trip, the cost of Air Force One alone for this photo op on which Trump also took his ‘wife’, was between $4,680,000 and $6,000,000.  Let me repeat … it cost between $4.7 million and $6 million of our taxpayer dollars in travel alone, not counting security, meals, lodging, etc. for Donnie & Melania to go have their picture taken with soldiers in Iraq! How many of you have ever even seen one measly million dollars in your lifetime?  Not me, that’s for sure! If you aren’t furious over this, then roll over and go back to sleep.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch …

  • Only about 5% of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food & Nutrition Services’ employees are at work. This is the department that administers food assistance programs to low-income families and individuals.

  • More than 800,000 federal employees (more than one-third of the total) are impacted, either being laid off or working without pay. Many are like the rest of us and live from one payday to the next, contrary to what Scott Perry, a congressman from Pennsylvania said: “Who’s living that they’re not going to make it to the next paycheck?”  Nice, Mr. Perry, real nice.  Such empathy.


  • Most of those who are expected to work without pay during the shutdown will be given backpay once the government is once again ‘open for business’. However, non-citizens who are employed by U.S. embassies overseas may well not be eligible for back pay!


  • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is closed, but don’t worry … your income taxes will still be withheld from your paycheck! Gotta keep paying for Donnie’s travel on Air Force One now, don’t we?

Trump has claimed that the federal workers are supportive of the shutdown, saying he’s heard from federal workers who want him to “stay out until you get the funding for the wall.”  Predictably, it’s another of his multitude of blatant lies, and federal workers were none too happy hearing him tell it …

“I am a federal worker who is working without pay. And yes, we live paycheck to paycheck. Who will pay my mortgage January 1st? You?”

“My husband is a federal worker, we need our paycheck next week to pay our mortgage.”fuck wall

Now, Trump claims that he will keep the government shut down until such time as the $5 billion initial funding for his wall is approved by Congress.  Well, first of all, as I have discussed before, $5 billion is only the first part, and the wall has the likely potential to end up costing around $70 billion.  And frankly one billion would be too much.  No, Donnie, I ain’t giving you a damn dime toward your wall!  Congress is highly unlikely to give in to Trump’s bullying tactics to get his white elephant … thankfully.

Any president who would keep the government shut down ‘indefinitely’ for his own ego is no president, for he is failing to even consider the people he was hired to represent.  Other nations agree …

“Canadians like to think their system of governance is better than the American one. If they want more evidence, they need only look at what’s happening now — a government shutdown in Washington — and be thankful their system doesn’t allow the same shenanigans.”

I can think of a couple of solutions here.  First, what if all the White House crew, such as chefs & cooks, housekeepers, laundry staff, maintenance staff, groundskeepers were to be furloughed during the shutdown?  Now, include Trump’s chauffeur and limo, and furlough the cast & crew of Air Force One and the helicopters Trump frequently flits about in.  Think he might have second thoughts now?

And the best solution of all, though I’m sure nobody would have the guts to participate, is a massive nationwide worker’s strike.  Every employee in the manufacturing industries, from the auto industry to the coal industry should walk off the job the first Monday after the new year.  The only language Donald Trump understands is the one where ‘money talks’, and he is indebted to his wealthy cronies in the upper echelons of nearly every industry.  When General Motors, Procter & Gamble, Kraft Foods, Smith & Wesson, and many, many others are dead in the water for they have no workers, I give it two days until they demand Trump sign the budget bill sans wall and get on with the business of governance.

Folks, this situation is both unconscionable and untenable.  Somewhere, sometime soon, Mr. Trump is going to need to be forced to realize that he is not “making America great”, but instead is making America a) the brunt of jokes in every nation on the globe, b) less safe than we have been in more than 50 years, c) economically unstable.  He.  He alone.  He alone is responsible for the chaos in our government, for the highest turnover rates of any administration before, for the divisiveness of our nation, and for isolating us from our allies while pandering to our enemies.

One theory is that Trump knows he will never get the wall funded, and as such is using it as a point to get the shutdown for another reason … to keep his own posterior out of legal trouble (see Xena’s post for more information).  This theory may well have merit, and if so, Trump’s shutdown is even more unconscionable.  At this point, I think we seriously need to wake up the GOP senators and make it clear that We The People are against this shutdown and against the damn wall.  So, stretch your fingers and start writing again, folks … please … for our future, our lives as well as lives around the globe depend on stopping this runaway train!

And one last thing … would somebody stop him from all this wasteful travel that serves no purpose?  Federal employees aren’t getting paid and he’s wasting $6 million for a photo op???

Just for a chuckle …

I’m sorely in need of a laugh … okay, I’ll settle for a chuckle … and figured perhaps you are too, so just for a laugh at the end of the day, I give you … Andy Borowitz …

Putin Loses Control of the House

A Kinder, Gentler Time …

It was a kinder, gentler time in the United States.  It was a time when we had a president who valued human life, who placed human life above profit.  The year was 2012, and on Independence Day, July 4th, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former HuffPost editor Jose Antonio Vargas wrote an OpEd titled What Does It Mean To Be An American?  A lot can change … a lot has changed … in six years.

Jose Antonio VargasWhat Does It Mean To Be An American?

As we celebrate America’s Independence Day — as we explore what it means to be American on the most American of all days — I also celebrate my independence from the word “illegal.”

Today’s Fourth of July holiday, our country’s birthday, marks a new beginning for undocumented Americans like me.Time-mag-2012Last month, TIME magazine featured an unprecedented photograph of 36 undocumented young people, myself included, on the cover of its U.S. and international editions. “We are Americans,” the headline declared. “Just not legally.” Shortly after, President Obama, in the most significant step in the fight for immigrant rights since President Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act in 1986, issued a directive to stop the deportation of an estimated 1 million DREAM Act-eligible undocumented youth and welcome them to our workforce. America, in turn, embraced 1 million dreams. And in last week’s Supreme Court decision on Arizona’s immigration law, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion for the highest court in the land: “As a general rule, it is not a crime for a movable alien to remain in the United States.”

As we celebrate America’s Independence Day — as we explore what it means to be American on the most American of all days — I also celebrate my independence from the word “illegal.”

Academics and lawyers will be quick to point out that I, in fact, was never a “criminal.” Being in the U.S. without authorization is not a crime, but rather a civil offense for the country’s estimated 12 million undocumented residents. Yet for too long, the rhetoric around immigration has been shrouded in and synonymous with criminality. As a cable news producer on Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom” tells a colleague in the show’s most recent episode, we’ve grown accustomed to talking about human beings as if “we’re talking about scraping gum off our shoes.”

“These people chose to take a huge risk to become Americans,” the producer notes, “and they deserve a better descriptor than ‘illegals.’”

To me, what it means to be an American goes beyond your place of birth or the documents you have, back to when throngs of Irish, Italian and Eastern Europeans crossed the Atlantic Ocean in search of a better life, no papers asked. What it means to be an American is less about who you are than what you are about— how you live your life, how you contribute to this country, how you pledge allegiance to a flag hoping and praying it will make room for you. What it means to be an American is in the hearts of the people who, in their struggles and heartaches, in their joys and triumphs, fight for America and fight to be American every day.

A few weeks after I “came out” in June 2011 about my undocumented status in an essay in the New York Times Magazine, Washington state revoked my driver’s license. Among the first people to reach out to me was Aaron Sorkin. I’ve interviewed Sorkin before. He told me he was working on a new show about a cable news program, and that the second episode is set on the day Gov. Jan Brewer signed the Arizona immigration bill into law. He asked for my thoughts on immigration. In an email later, I told him about the first time I watched one of his films. It was 1997, not too long after I discovered that I didn’t have the proper documents to live in America. I was watching “The American President,” a movie starring Michael Douglas, and toward the end of the film, Douglas, as the president, says: “America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ‘cause it’s gonna put up a fight.” I was 16, lost and disoriented, and I told Sorkin that hearing those words helped me realize that I had to fight — that America was a fight and that America had to be earned.

Undocumented Americans, aspiring citizens like me, have been fighting and will continue to fight for this country we call home. And, as more and more undocumented Americans and the people who support us — the Good Samaritans in our lives, the teachers, pastors, neighbors and friends who make up our underground railroad — “come out” and tell our stories, America’s view of immigration and the nature of citizenship itself grows increasingly more complex and nuanced. It becomes about human beings.

Together with a small group of friends, I founded a campaign called Define American, which seeks to elevate conversation on immigration. And elevating and broadening the conversation means engaging different types of audiences from all walks of life. After appearing on “The O’Reilly Factor” last month, I received an email from Dennis Murphy of Omaha, Nebraska. The email reads:

“Mr. Vargas:

As founder and former state chairman of the Nebraska Minutemen, now merged with the Nebraska Tea Party, I was positively impressed by your interview with Bill O’Reilly. If I understand your situation correctly, you [were] brought into the United States by your parents when you were a young child, and they chose for whatever reason to do so in a fashion that avoided our immigration law. You now refer to yourself in your blog as “an undocumented American,” which I believe is a fair and accurate assessment.”

Thank you, Mr. Murphy, for considering me one of your fellow Americans. Let’s keep the conversation going. Let’s keep exploring what it means to be an American.

Yes, folks, it was a kinder, gentler time.  No, it wasn’t perfect … not even close.  But then, life isn’t perfect, people aren’t perfect.  Still, it was kinder and gentler … we cared more, hated less.  I miss that time.

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GOP Is Making Up Conspiracy Theories/ Lies About Caravan Of Immigrants To Cater To His Base

When I read about Trump claiming there is another caravan of immigrants headed this way from Central America, that he has alerted the military, that he considers them a threat to national security, and furthermore that he thinks the democrats funded the caravan, I sighed and said under my breath, “Here we go again, and just two weeks before the election. Distractions, smoke screens and lies, lies, lies … more of the same ol’ same ol’.” And then I sighed again, for I knew I would need to write about this, though I did not want to. And then … it was Gronda to the rescue!!! Her fine post says all that I would have said, and probably even more.
I cannot repeat enough how important it is that we get this message out … there is no threat to national security from a group of people, mainly women and children, coming to the U.S. in hopes of surviving, in hopes of an opportunity to work hard to make a better life for their children. Please take time to read Gronda’s post, for she successfully de-bunks the lies that Mr. Trump is attempting to use to distract the voters in two weeks. Many thanks, Gronda, for writing the post that needed to be written!

Gronda Morin

Image result for photos of refugees on bridge between guatemala and mexico

We have heard all the lies being disseminated by the republican President Donald J. Trump that the there’s the real possibility that leftist groups have sponsored the caravan of refugees/ immigrants that are fleeing the violent ridden country of Honduras via Guatemala heading towards Mexico and then to the USA, to ask for asylum which is supposed to be a legal action.

The president knows that the vision of brown refugees, the majority being women and children on a bridge from Guatemala to Mexico scares the anti-immigration faction of his base to where he has to pander to their fear by painting many of them as being criminals, claims which past credible studies have proven to be way overstated.

Recently, he was heard saying that they are coming to the US, so that they can vote for Democratic Party candidates, which he knows full well is NOT TRUE. They. as…

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U.S. Isolationism: Then and Now — A Guest Post by John Fioravanti

Earlier this week, after Trump spoke to the United Nations General Assembly, and later the Security Council, I asked our Canadian friend, John Fioravanti, if he would be interested in doing a guest post from the perspective of how Trump’s “America First” isolationist policy will affect the rest of the world.  He did me the honour of accepting my request, and so, without further ado, I turn this stage over to John …

U.S. Isolationism: Then and Now

john fioravantiI thank Jill Dennison for her generous invitation to host me on her amazing blog site. Every day I read and enjoy Jill’s posts because she always gives her readers food for thought. I hope my offering below will do the same.
Those of us living outside the USA know how dangerous American isolationism is to world peace and prosperity. The current Trump administration is determined to turn the clock back more than a century in the realms of both domestic and foreign policy. The President emphatically denounced ‘globalism’ in his address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 25th this year. As a retired high school history teacher in Canada, I’d like to enlarge on my first statement that U.S. isolationism is a very dangerous path to follow.

Tuesday, President Trump addressed the United Nations General Assembly.

Some historians would argue that the United States was the most powerful nation on the planet in 1900 but no one knew that yet – not even the Americans themselves. While the great European powers of the day were engaged in a struggle for supremacy and jockeying for the most advantageous position by way of formal alliances, America remained entrenched in her isolationism. Her only concern with the looming European conflict was how it would impact trade and her own economy. Attacks on American shipping by German U-boats in European coastal waters roused the U.S. Congress to declare war in 1917. President Wilson understood that America needed to adopt a global perspective in foreign policy and suggested the creation of the League of Nations at the end of World War I. The idea was embraced by the Allies but the U.S. Congress turned their backs on the world by refusing to ratify the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. Without American participation, the League was doomed to failure. The rise of Hitler, the fall of France, and near-defeat of Britain were not enough to compel Congress to emerge from the comfortable cocoon of isolationism. No, it took a direct attack on U.S. territory in Hawaii by Japan to trigger American entry into World War II in 1941. The costs of that war in blood and money were monumental – not to mention the unleashing of two atomic bombs in 1945 that brought Japan to its knees and ushered in the age of nuclear deterrence. I do not blame the American people for the horrors of these wars – that would be preposterous. However, I do blame the idea of isolationism. The United Nations was established at the end of World War II and survives to this day. It’s main mandate was and is still to prevent a third world war. If America had turned its back on the idea of isolationism in 1919, or America First as it is styled today, would the League of Nations have failed to maintain peace in Europe? We’ll never know, of course, but it is a chilling question nonetheless. For the next seventy-one years after World War II, America turned her back on isolationism and took on the mantle of the global policeman. Her newly-minted atomic weapons gave her the military authority. In 1945 American military power was awe-inspiring and unprecedented in world history. American wealth rebuilt western Europe from the shambles of warfare in order to shore up her Allies. The United Nations, headquartered in New York, became the embodiment of the ascendance of globalism in human affairs. Over the next several decades, the UN established World Courts to bring war criminals to justice all over the globe. The Security Council embraced a Canadian suggestion to create Peacekeepers in order to keep opposing military forces separated in areas of crisis until diplomacy could establish solutions. UN agencies were created to address human suffering from natural disasters as well as from the devastation of local wars. The UN took the lead in supporting policies of freedom and equality throughout the world by taking strong stands against discrimination suffered by women and the LGBT communities. The UN evolved from just a tool to avert another world war to a force for fairness and justice in every aspect of living in the modern world. Isolationism is an ugly policy. It turns a blind eye to the evil that is perpetrated outside of its national borders. In other words, your suffering is none of my business. I am not my brother’s keeper. This is not to say that the American people are ugly. They are not. I have lived beside the United States all of my life and consider us to be like brothers and sisters. Like all siblings, we have our differences, arguments, even fights. Unfortunately, Trump has allowed his distaste for Justin Trudeau to play itself out in the worst way. That is ugly. In a little under two years, the Trump administration has bullied and alienated America’s allies. Trump berated NATO leaders about their levels of contributions to the alliance after President Obama had negotiated a process for those contributions to be increased over time. Many of these same allies are also America’s best trading partners. Trump decided that these partners were treating America unfairly and hammered them with tariffs. He used the same bullying tactics with Mexico and Canada in the talks to update the NAFTA treaty. When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada would not be bullied by American tariffs, Trump retorted with rhetoric normally reserved for enemy countries. American policies in the Middle East have served to further destabilize an already dangerous part of the world.

Trudeau makes a point while talking to Trump at G7 Summit.

As America withdraws from her traditional role as leader of the free world and alienates her allies, one doesn’t have to look too far into the past to see a likely outcome. America First is driving anti-immigration policy in the Trump administration as well. The people who are being barred from entering the land of freedom and opportunity are refugees from the Middle East, Central America, and South American countries where life has become unbearably dangerous. Trump’s policies are hurting a lot of good people around the world. History has also proved that restricting immigration is self-defeating since many immigrants and children of immigrants have made significant contributions to the growth of technological innovation and the overall economy in the United States.

Steve Jobs, co-founder of the Apple computer, son of a Syrian political science professor.


Many thanks, John, for your words of wisdom … keep that pencil handy, for I may want another soon!  Meanwhile, I have an open stage here and would love to hear from some of my other friends outside the U.S.: Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany … please let me know if you’re interested in contributing a post from your perspective!

Only in America …

As I scrolled through the evening news last night, I came across story after story that had me shaking my head and saying, “Only in America”.  Not, mind you, in a good way.  So, after about the third one, I decided to compile them all into this post. Turned out I couldn’t fit them all into a single post, so there may be a follow-up … who knows?  I have a backlog …


Does he or doesn’t he believe in climate change science???

CulbersonJohn Abney Culberson is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the State of Texas.  He is a republican … go figure.  He is a climate-change denier who claims that scientists have falsified data and that “the liberal obsession with climate change… is driven by their desire to raise more money for the government”.

Compared to Trump’s nearly half-million dollars spent from campaign funds buying the silence of his former paramours, Mr. Culberson’s improper expenditure of a mere $50,000 might seem like next to nothing, but a crime is a crime, and the hypocrisy in this one is truly astounding.  The expenditures in question include books, coins, Civil War memorabilia and other collectibles … nobody is quite sure how these were needed for his campaign.  It is well known that Culberson has a personal interest in collectibles and antiques, but he denies that these items were purchased to add to his collection.  Instead … guess what his reasoning is?  According to the Houston Chronicle …

“Culberson’s aides explained the purchase as research material on paleo-climatology, a subject that would help him understand climate science for his position on an appropriations subcommittee that oversees the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. They said the materials helped give him a better understanding of the changing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”

But … but … I thought he didn’t believe in climate change?

Only in America


A really bad move that will probably win him votes …

DeSantis-Gullim

Ron DeSantis/Andrew Gillum

In Tuesday night’s Florida primary elections, Ron DeSantis won the Republican Party nomination for the office of governor, and Andrew Gillum won the Democratic Party nomination.  Andrew Gillum is African-American, a fact that I mention only because of what happened after the election.

“The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state. That is not going to work. That’s not going to be good for Florida.” – Ron DeSantis

A word.  A single word turned this statement from a typical hot-air bit of political rhetoric into an ugly, racist remark.  Members of both parties, as well as Fox News spoke out against DeSantis’ comment.  The NAACP Florida State Conference responded to DeSantis, calling comparisons to monkeys “by far the best-known racist references to African Americans in our national folklore.”

So, perhaps racist remarks by politicians are not exclusive to the United States, but the fact that the president of the nation defended the remarks and that he will likely gain voters for his remarks is, I think, unique.

Trump said he didn’t hear DeSantis’ racial slur, but then praised him as being “an extreme talent” and criticized Gillum, calling him a “failed Socialist Mayor”.

Only in America


Are you sure you were born?

U.S. citizens – people who were born in this country and have the official birth certificate that proves it – are being denied their rights to obtain a passport, and not only that, but their very citizenship is in question.  Even worse, some citizens are being refused entry to their country of origin, the country the were born in! In some cases, passport applicants with official U.S. birth certificates are being jailed in immigration detention centers and forced into deportation proceedings.

passportWHY, you ask?  Because this is part of Trump & Co’s effort to reduce both legal and illegal immigration, and the State Department claims that “the U.S.-Mexico border region happens to be an area of the country where there has been a significant incidence of citizenship fraud.”  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Guess what, Mr. Michael Pompeo, head of the State Department?  I would rather let 100 immigrants in than to abuse a citizen … or anyone … in this manner.  In my book Mike Pompeo and Donald Trump both earn a ZERO rating on human rights issues!

(Sorry, folks … my blood boiled for a minute there)

Only in America


Alternative Reality?

In January 2017, KellyAnne Conway, some sort of assistant to Donald Trump, though none of us have figured out quite what her role is other than to put her feet on the furniture and dress funny, coined the phrase ‘alternative facts’, when referring to the paltry number of people that attended the inauguration of Donald Trump.  It has become rather the Orwellian buzzword, the joke of the day every day, ever since.  Then we saw evidence of an alternative vocabulary, where up was down, good was bad, red was green, and so forth.  Today, though, I believe we are seeing an ‘alternative reality’.

On September 20th last year, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico … hard!  It is on record as being the worst natural disaster to hit the island in all of recorded history.  The storm caused at least $90 billion of structural damage; the power grid was destroyed, leaving millions without electricity; neighborhoods were flooded; communication networks were down; over 1 million people had no drinking water; 93% of roads were impassible; infrastructure was heavily damaged, more than 60,000 homes were destroyed or heavily damaged, and the list goes on.

Keep in mind that Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, and its residents are U.S. citizens.  Yet, response and aid from the U.S. to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Maria was slow … it was nearly two weeks after the storm before the first official U.S. aid arrived on Puerto Rico’s shores.  Trump made a visit in early October 2017 and made a virtual ass of himself by throwing rolls of paper towels to people who were suffering from a lack of food, electricity, potable water, had lost their homes, and in some cases their loved ones.  But yesterday he went one better …

trump paper towelsFor a long time, the death toll was officially recorded at only 64, though we all knew it was much higher, but there were a number of reasons it could not be accurately tallied.  This week, the official death toll is 2,975 people as a direct or indirect result of Hurricane Maria.  Some of those deaths would likely have been prevented with more and speedier assistance from the U.S.  But take heart, for Donald Trump says we did great.

“I think we did a fantastic job!” said he to … whomever believes hisbullshit.

We did a terrible job.  Too little, too late, and for too short a time.  We should be hanging our heads in shame, apologizing to the residents of Puerto Rico.  Donald can toot his horn, but ain’t nobody buyin’ it.

Only in America


Yeah, I know we are not the worst.  Many nations’ human rights violations should give us nightmares, many countries use and abuse their citizens far worse than we do.  No, we are not the worst.  But I’ve got news for you … we are far from being the best.  We are far from being even as good as we once were.  And we are getting worse by the day.  Think about it.