A Few Thursday Thoughts

Just a few things on my mind this afternoon …

This is a paragraph taken from an article in Foreign Affairs magazine about Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro …

“Days ahead of Brazil’s October 2 presidential election, the country is facing the most serious challenge to its democracy since its inception 37 years ago. President Jair Bolsonaro, a former army captain, triumphed in 2018 amid a wave of anti-establishment sentiment but is now trailing in the polls in his showdown against former President Luiz Inácio da Silva, or Lula, as he is universally known. Confronted with probable defeat, Bolsonaro has made unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud and publicly insists that the only way the opposition can prevent him from winning a second term is by stealing the election. His rhetoric is finding favor among his supporters: of the roughly 50 million Brazilians who say they will vote for Bolsonaro, about one-quarter are so radicalized that they have told pollsters the president should not recognize the result if he loses.”

Does this somehow sound familiar to you?  Yeah, I thought it might.

“Bolsonaro was one of the last leaders in the world to congratulate Biden after he won the U.S. presidency. Indeed, as an avowed Trumpist, Bolsonaro has frequently suggested that the 2020 U.S. presidential election was stolen.”

This is an election I will be keeping an eye on, for it may be yet another nation, one relatively new to democracy, falling prey to populism, to an egocentric, malicious leader.

This morning I received this text message …

“Hello how  are you doing? I’m Ethan William 50 years  old and I’m a Business man but my pastor preached to us on this week Sunday about helping the needy, and it really touched so that’s why I’m here to help other for a little out of what I have, I’m texting you to see if you need some money to payoff bills or do some other things.Kindly reply me back on [phone number] I will be glad to help you out – [phone number]”

I was not only angry, but furious.  Why?  Because this person or group is preying on those who may be so desperate that they will grasp at any straw that is proffered.  Picture that you are a minimum wage worker struggling to pay the rent and feed your family and then one morning you get this text.  Okay, most everybody reading this will understand that this is a scam, that if you respond, you will be promised a monetary gift … just give them your bank account information and … POOF … like magic your account will be cleaned out!  But about half the people in this country may not understand that, may in fact read the text and think that their god has provided this saint to help them pay the rent that’s due in two days.

I promptly reported it as a scam, then deleted the text, but it angers me that some people, rather than seek an honest way to make a living, prey on those who are neediest.  For Pete’s Sake … they should go try to scam the corporate CEOs who can afford to lose a few million dollars and still be able to buy food!

The Nord Stream pipeline is a gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea that runs from the Russian coast near St. Petersburg to north-eastern Germany.  On Monday, Danish and Swedish authorities detected underwater explosions in the Baltic Sea that breached the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines designed to carry gas from Russia to Germany.  The first explosion was recorded early Monday southeast of the Danish island of Bornholm, said Bjorn Lund, director of the Swedish National Seismic Network. A second, stronger blast northeast of the island that night was equivalent to a magnitude-2.3 earthquake.  All indications point to Russia as the instigator of the blasts.  Russia has a long history of using gas interruptions as a geopolitical tool. The Kremlin, predictably, denied any responsibility and blamed the U.S. government — as it has previously done for everything from the spread of AIDS during the 1980s to the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine in 2014 by a Russian missile battery.

But never fear … a solution is near {tongue-in-cheek} … and from none other than the twice-impeached former president of the United States on his social media site, Truth Social where there isn’t any truth to be found …

“U.S. “Leadership” should remain “cool, calm, and dry” on the SABOTAGE of the Nord Stream Pipelines. This is a big event that should not entail a big solution, at least not yet. The Russia/Ukraine catastrophe should NEVER have happened, and would definitely not have happened if I were President. Do not make matters worse with the pipeline blowup. Be strategic, be smart (brilliant!), get a negotiated deal done NOW. Both sides need and want it. The entire World is at stake. I will head up group???”

I don’t know whether to laugh or throw up.

Da Snark Just Won’t Stop …

I have a really bad habit of checking my phone for messages, notifications, and headlines each time I waken during the night.  Since for the past several nights I have been waking up every hour like clockwork, this means I get more news than I do sleep!  I think this is the reason I wake each morning filled with snark and it has to have somewhere to go, lest it overflow!

If there is another nation on the planet that has done as poor a job in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic as the U.S., it is Brazil.  In truth, Brazil hasn’t done quite as badly as the U.S., but they’re sure as heck running a close second.  Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, is another pea in the Trump pod, denying climate change, ruling from self-interest rather than common interest, has an ego the size of his country, and tolerates no criticism.

Like Trump, Bolsonaro has been skeptical of the coronavirus and the preventative measures that are required to curb its prevalence.  He has described the virus as “a little cold”, repeatedly waded into crowds of supporters, threatened to host a large barbecue to defy health measures, and as recently as last week attended a Fourth of July party at the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia without wearing a mask. A Brazilian court last month ordered Bolsonaro to wear a mask while in public.

Well, guess what?  Jair Bolsonaro now joins the 1.6 million people in his country who have tested positive for the coronavirus!  Sometimes karma just catches up with you.  This morning he told reporters …

“There’s no problem. It’s natural. There’s no dread. It’s life.”

Okay, then.  It couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy.  Well, perhaps there is one other who is equally deserving …

These days, there are so many ‘breaking news’ stories that it’s hard to keep up with them all, and today’s jaw-dropper may fade to the back of our minds by three days hence.  Remember just over a week ago when the news broke that Russia had paid Taliban operatives a bounty to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan?  Trump had been briefed by the intelligence agencies but had kept quiet and not acted on the information.  He claimed he hadn’t been briefed, but there was ample evidence that he had.

To date, Trump has still done nothing … no sanctions against Russia, no promises to act in order to protect our military in Afghanistan and elsewhere, no … nothing.  Trump has, however, ordered an investigation.  No, not an investigation into Russia or the Taliban, but an investigation to try to find out who leaked the information!  It matters not that Russia is paying to have our military killed, but it only matters to Trump & Co who “ratted him out” for sitting on the information rather than acting on it.

Remember back a few years ago when we had a real leader in the White House?  Ah, those were the good ol’ days.

Well, folks, Trump and his family tried really hard to keep his niece, Mary L. Trump, from publishing her book. Not only did they fail, but now the publication date has been moved up from July 28th to July 14th, due to “high demand and extraordinary interest”.  That attempt to stifle rather backfired on Trump, didn’t it?

Two snippets from the New York Times article this morning …

mary-l-trump-bookEven at the start of Mr. Trump’s campaign, his sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, a retired federal appeals court judge, had deep reservations about his fitness for office, Ms. Trump writes.

“He’s a clown — this will never happen,” she quotes her aunt as saying during one of their regular lunches in 2015, just after Mr. Trump announced that he was running for president.

Maryanne Trump was particularly baffled by support for her brother among evangelical Christians, according to the book.

“The only time Donald went to church was when the cameras were there,” Ms. Trump quotes her aunt as saying. “It’s mind boggling. But that’s all about his base. He has no principles. None!”

As a high school student in Queens, Ms. Trump writes, Donald Trump paid someone to take a precollegiate test, the SAT, on his behalf. The high score the proxy earned for him, Ms. Trump adds, helped the young Mr. Trump to later gain admittance as an undergraduate to the University of Pennsylvania’s prestigious Wharton business school.

Mr. Trump has often boasted about attending Wharton, which he has referred to as “the best school in the world” and “super genius stuff.”

Hmmmm … no wonder the one with a super thin tolerance for criticism was trying to block the book’s release!

There is a pharmaceutical company, Novavax, based in Maryland, that has never yet brought a product to market.  And yet, the federal government has contracted to pay the vaccine maker $1.6 billion to expedite the development of 100 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine by the beginning of next year.

Think about that one for a minute.  The company has never yet been tried or tested, has never successfully produced a drug, and yet Donald Trump has decided to place the lives of some 330 million people in this company’s hands.  And he is giving away a massive amount of our money to do so.  And if you have any doubts, Trump will demand that the drug be for U.S. citizens only, which is probably a relief for people in other countries, for you and I both know this drug will not be properly tested before it is turned loose on a largely unsuspecting populace.

In May, the administration announced it was awarding up to $1.2 billion as part of Operation Warp Speed to the British drugmaker AstraZeneca, which has said that its vaccine could be available by October. Four other companies — Moderna Therapeutics, Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Sanofi — have also received federal assistance for their experimental coronavirus vaccines.

They surely are playing fast & loose with our hard-earned tax dollars, aren’t they?  And would you trust any vaccine that came out of a company that has never successfully developed a drug?  I wouldn’t.  I envision two years down the road, everyone who took the vaccine developing some form of cancer, or suddenly experiencing abnormal heart attacks or strokes.  No thank you, Donnie … could you refund my portion of the money you paid them, please?

Okay, I feel better now … thank you for letting me get all that off my chest!

Two Political Fools …

A crisis of major proportions brings out the best in some people, but it also brings out massive doses of idiocy and foolishness on the part of politicians.  Today there are two such foolish idiots on my radar …


Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is back on my radar again.  You may remember a post I did in August 2018 titled Fools Rush In because at that time, he was running for the office of governor in the State of Georgia.  At the very least, you may remember these pictures …

He won the election and is now Governor Kemp.  He’s no less a fool today than he was in August 2018.  Kemp has a plan for re-opening businesses in his state.  Not all businesses, mind you, but as soon as this Friday, the day after tomorrow, he plans to allow gyms, hair salons, bowling alleys and tattoo parlors to reopen.  Think on that one a minute … tattoo parlors???  Hair salons???  Is this seriously where the priorities lie?  Not libraries, but gyms?  Is this what the people of Georgia think is important, or does Mr. Kemp have friends that own such businesses and who have asked him to do them a little favour?

I hope those businesses are shown by the people how very non-essential they are, but it may be the case that some people have got ‘cabin fever’ so bad that they’ll be willing to go have their hair & nails done, get a new tat, and then go for a nice game of bowling with a few friends.  And it may also be the case that Governor Kemp will be on the chopping block when cases of coronavirus skyrocket in his state because he screwed up.

Kemp said that businesses would still be operating under restrictions including monitoring employee health, enhancing sanitation, and separating workers.  But what about the customers, Kemp???  Every customer who walks through the door will be up close and personal with the employees and other customers, and every one might just be carrying the germ.  You can’t tell a tattoo customer to stay six feet away from the tattoo artist, unless the artist has very long arms.  And the woman who’s cutting your hair?  Again, she’d have to have 6-foot-long arms.  Why are these particular businesses considered a priority?  There’s a reason, and the people of Georgia should be asking that question.

Stacey Abrams, who only narrowly lost to Kemp in 2018, and likely would have won in a fair and honest election, was appalled by Kemp’s announcement …

“By trying to push a false opening of the economy, we risk putting more lives in danger.  There is nothing about it that makes sense.”

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms disagrees with Kemp’s decision, but cannot do much about it, however she said she will be urging the people of Atlanta to continue to stay at home.  How many will listen?  It remains to be seen, but my guess is most will not.  I sure would like to be either a psychiatrist or a lawyer when all this is over.

And south of the equator …


Trump & Bolsonaro — two peas in a pod

I have long said that Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Donald Trump must have some shared DNA, for they are both power-hungry, corrupt, greedy bastards.  And, just as Trump is rallying his base to protest against the continued shut-down of most businesses, prodding them to demand businesses be allowed to re-open far too soon, Bolsonaro is doing much the same. 

Last Sunday, as the number of cases and the death toll were on the rise in Brazil, Bolsonaro himself took to the streets to egg on the protestors who were demanding a return to … wait for it … a military dictatorship!

Among the demands their banners listed were an end to the social distancing measures opposed by Bolsonaro, the closure of Brazil’s congress and supreme court, and a re-run of a dictatorship-era decree used by military rulers in the late 1960s to suffocate their political opponents.

After mingling with the masses, Bolsonaro climbed into the bed of a truck and gave a little speech, while coughing numerous times … apparently done for effect …

“The era of roguery is over. Now it’s the people who are in power.  Everyone in Brazil must understand that they must yield to the will of the Brazilian people.”

bolsonaro-1bolsonaro-2Former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso tweeted …

“Deplorable for the president to join anti-democratic protests. It’s time to unite around the constitution against all threats to democracy.”

Another former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said …

“The same constitution that allows a president to be democratically elected also contains devices to stop them leading the country to the destruction of democracy and a genocide of the population.”

Eduardo Paes, Rio de Janeiro’s former mayor said …

“There have always been morons going around ranting against democracy … Generally they’re minorities whose tickles you don’t even feel. But it’s something quite different when it’s the president – a democratically elected one – joining this kind of movement. There’s no way to remain quiet and not repudiate this.”

Like Trump, Bolsonaro has attempted to downplay the pandemic, calling it media hysteria.  Last week Bolsonaro fired his popular health minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who had clashed with him for undermining health ministry recommendations designed to protect Brazilian lives.  Sound familiar?  If someone doesn’t agree with you, fire ‘em.  And these are world ‘leaders’??????????

Often I refer to a quote by the cartoon character of yore, Pogo, and this seems an appropriate time to repeat it …


Just A Little Bit Of Snark …

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

Oh, da embarrassment!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jair … a Donnie clone?

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

President Trump Holds Joint Press Conference With Brazilian President Bolsonaro

Bolsonaro (l) and Trump 

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

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

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

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

While you were napping …

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

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

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

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

On a brighter note …

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

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

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

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

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

Little Donnie

Another One Bites The Dust …

So, another one bites the dust.  On Friday evening it was announced that Trump fired … well, ‘re-assigned’ … White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.  Mulvaney will be a “special envoy to Northern Ireland”, another term for another useless person on the payroll doing nothing.  Given some of Mulvaney’s actions, such as when he was attempting to defend the indefensible Ukraine phone call that led to Trump’s impeachment and he told us to “get over it”, I don’t have much empathy for ol’ Mick.  But the person replacing him is none other than the extremely ignoble Mark Meadows, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from North Carolina.  I will tell you a bit about Mr. Meadows in a minute.

This is the fourth chief of staff that Trump has had in just three years … a turnover rate that says more about Trump than it does about the lackeys who held the position.  If there is one word that best defines this administration, it is ‘chaos’.  You cannot have stability in any organization with the turnover ratio Trump has.  It’s not only the chief of staff, but I can name a dozen positions that have been revolving doors since day one.

Now, let me tell you just a bit about Mr. Mark Meadows.

Meadows is one of the founders, along with Jim Jordan and other such characters, of the House Freedom Caucus.  The group was founded in 2015 as a part of the Tea Party movement, and have largely done nothing but cause disruption, obstruction and obfuscation.

  • While running for office in June 2012, Meadows said, “2012 is the time we are going to send Mr. Obama home to Kenya or wherever it is,” implying that President Obama was not born in the United States. He made a similar comment later that month.

  • In February 2013 Meadows voted against renewing the Violence Against Women Act. Meadows has said he casts his votes based not on his personal feelings but on what the majority of his constituents in “God’s Country” tell him to do.

  • In December 2016 Meadows gave Trump a wish list of regulations to be repealed. It included a demand to get rid of federal funding to study climate change. He also requested Trump repeal several environmental regulations, including the Renewable Fuel Standard, end the prohibition of drilling oil on federal lands, and pull the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

  • He is against LGBT rights, against any form of gun regulation, against net neutrality.

  • Last December he blatantly lied about Trump’s phone call to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, even though the transcript of the call put paid to the lie.

  • Meadows presented a letter to Donald Trump in 2016 that demanded the repeal of certain laws that exist to ensure fair pay for public works employees, and also demanded the repeal of the federal overtime rule.

  • Meadows is staunchly against the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and was largely responsible for pushing then-Speaker of the House John Boehner to shut down the government in 2013 unless the ACA was defunded.

Last December, Meadows announced that he would not seek re-election this year.  Our friend Keith, who lives in Meadows’ district in North Carolina, explained that the previously gerrymandered district maps had been re-drawn and that Meadows’ chances of winning re-election would be slim-to-none.  He is apparently hoping to run for the U.S. Senate seat that will be vacated by Senator Richard Burr in 2022.  Meanwhile, I guess he plans to bide his time creating more chaos and havoc as Trump’s chief of staff until next January 20th when Trump will officially be escorted off the premises, and Meadows and all the others along with him.

And in other news …

Last night, amid the growing coronavirus pandemic, after visiting the CDC and making a complete fool out of himself, Trump entertained the torcher of the Amazon Rain Forest, Jair Bolsonaro at Mar-a-Lago.  Not a care in the world for those two destroyers of Planet Earth …


Oh look … Ivanka and Jared are there, too.  I can’t help wondering how much this is costing We the Taxpayer???

One last thought …

If you live in the U.S. and didn’t switch your clocks ahead one hour last night … stop reading this and go do so now, else you won’t know the right time and you’ll be late all day today!  And speaking of Daylight Saving’s Time …

About Those Amazon Fires …

The Amazon rainforest plays a significant role in mitigating the effects of climate change, by removing CO2 from the atmosphere.  It is the largest such ‘carbon dioxide sink’ on the globe.  While it is not at all unusual for fires to occur in the Amazon during the dry season, this year’s fires have been particularly intense and have led to international concern, for obvious reasons.


Jair Bolsonaro

During the summer, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who had previously stated his intention to destroy parts of the rainforest to make way for agriculture, mining, and other business development, mocked the environmental groups who were expressing concern about the fires.  In August, as the fires intensified and photographs of the ongoing fires and impacts caught international attention and became a rising topic among world leaders, suspicions that at least some of the fires had been deliberately set were noted in the press.

The National Institute for Space Research in Brazil (INPE) reported that at least 74,155 fires had been detected in all of Brazil, which represents an 84-percent increase from the same period in 2018.  Bolsonaro mocked the INPE data, and mocked the concerned environmentalists, even going so far as to call himself “Captain Chainsaw”.  This, combined with Bolsonaro’s declared intent to destroy parts of the rainforest, led to speculation that perhaps he was responsible for the setting of some of the fires.

But on Wednesday, August 21, Bolsonaro said he believed non-governmental organizations could be behind the fires as a tactic “to draw attention against me, against the government of Brazil.”

“The fire was started, it seemed, in strategic locations. There are images of the entire Amazon. How can that be? Everything indicates that people went there to film and then to set fires. That is my feeling.”

In August at the G7 summit, a special meeting was called to discuss the Amazon fires.  Trump, by the way, did not attend and lied about his reason for not attending, but what’s new?  At the meeting, the group pledged $22 million to assist with putting out the fires.  The next day, Bolsonaro rejected the offer.

In September, at a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, leaders from around the globe offered assistance in fighting the fires, but Bolsonaro rejected the offers of help, and said that he would use the rainforest’s resources as he sees fit. The Amazon isn’t in flames, he told the group, but brimming with riches. And Brazil will decide how to develop it.  Rather like seeing your neighbor’s house afire, offering to assist in putting the fire out, and being told to go home, that there was no fire and he would appreciate you minding your own business.  You can plainly see that it is afire and could easily spread to your own home, thus making it your own business, but … what can you do?

Since the annual rains started last month, though some fires are still burning, for all intents and purposes the majority have been quelled.  So, I hear you wondering why I am bringing all this up now.  Well …

Bolsonaro’s latest round of the blame game is pointing the finger at none other than actor Leonardo DiCaprio!  Now, this would be laughable just in and of itself, but … Leonardo DiCaprio is an environmental activist who, in August pledged $5 million to help save the Amazon!  Bolsonaro has vowed to drive environmental NGOs from Brazil, and so on Friday he told a group of his supporters …

“This Leonardo DiCaprio’s a cool guy, isn’t he? Giving money for the Amazon to be torched.  Leonardo DiCaprio, dammit, you’re collaborating with the burning of the Amazon.”

It would be bad enough, thinking of the plant and animal life lost, if these fires had only affected Brazil.  The people of Brazil, after all, elected this narcissistic, arrogant, ignorant fool, and it could be said they deserve what they get, just as the people of the U.S. deserve the chaos they invited upon their nation.  But, in this case, it is estimated that the Amazon rainforest is responsible for some 20% of the world’s oxygen.  I said … 20% OF THE WORLD’S OXYGEN!!!  Think about that one for a minute.trump-bolsonaroIf that means that 1 in 5 people are going to have to stop breathing, I vote that Jair Bolsonaro and Donald Trump should be the first two to stop, and then all the rest of the climate deniers should simply be forced to stop breathing, then perhaps there will be enough oxygen for the rest of us.

It is estimated that it will take between 20 – 40 years for the trees that were burned to be fully replaced.  We don’t have that kind of time, folks.  Did Jair Bolsonaro bankroll the destruction that was caused this summer?  Perhaps we’ll never know, and perhaps at this point it no longer matters, except … he’s still the president of Brazil and he’s shown the world how little he thinks of protecting the environment.  If the human race is determined to extinct itself, as appears to be the case, we have certainly made a good start at it.

Still More Snarky Snippets …

Will there ever come a day that I can read a news story and not want to throw something?  I wonder.  I had a greater plan for today, but as you may have noticed, my plans often go awry.  Today, I slept too late to finish the post I started last night, so instead, I bring you more snarky snippets …

Abandoning ship?

Donna-BrazileDonna Brazile has long been associated with the fight for liberal causes.  And yet, this week Ms. Brazile joined none other than state television network, Fox ‘News’.  Why?  Brazile is far above the likes of Jeanine Pirro or Ann Coulter.  I first saw Ms. Brazile on This Week with George Stephanopoulos many, many years ago, and she impressed me with her intelligence, knowledge, her ability to speak well on nearly any topic and the warmth she projected.  So why would she align herself with a network known for its extremely right-leaning views, and outright conspiracy theories?

“I know I’m going to get criticized by my friends in the progressive movement for being on Fox News. My response is that, if we learned anything from the 2016 election, it is that we can’t have a country where we don’t talk to those who disagree with our political views. You can be darn sure that I’m still going to be me on Fox News.”

Hmmm … that almost makes sense.  We do have to talk to each other, to try to understand those on the “other side” of the aisle.  Perhaps this should be looked upon as an opportunity for Trump’s supporters to actually hear a reasoned voice, a logical opinion for a change.  I simply have no respect for Fox at this point, and do not trust them or their motives.  I will reserve judgment until we see the results.  Will Fox allow Ms. Brazile to “still be me”?  I have my doubts, but time will tell.

Score one for Planet Earth!

Judge-Rudolph-Contreras.jpgThumbs up for Judge Rudolph Contreras of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia who ruled against the Trump administration and in favour of the environment.  Judge Contreras concluded that the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) “did not sufficiently consider climate change” when making decisions to auction off federal land in Wyoming to oil and gas drilling. The judge temporarily blocked drilling on roughly 300,000 acres of land in the state.

While the judge did not void the leases, what his decision does is to force the BLM to perform environmental impact studies on hundreds of projects currently under way in Wyoming.

The Interior Department began to take into account the climate impacts of federal oil, gas and coal leasing toward the end of President Obama’s second term, but Trump jettisoned those plans almost immediately after taking office.

No doubt Judge Contreras’ ruling will be appealed and will work its way up the judicial ladder, but it is a start … a step in the right direction.

Two peas in a pod …

two-peas-in-a-pod.pngYesterday, Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, visited Donald Trump in the White House.  Bolsonaro had nothing but the highest praise for our Idiot-in-Chief:

“It gives me great pleasure to be here in the United States, to take part in this visit, after decades on end of anti-U.S. presidents in Brazil. We will certainly work toward the benefit of our two nations. Just as [Trump] wants to have a ‘great’ America, I…also want to make sure we have a great Brazil. We have a great deal in common. I have been highly criticized because of this but I will not, of course, deny what I do think. … I’m willing to open my heart up to him and do whatever is to the benefit of both the Brazilian and the Americans.”

Pity the poor people of Brazil!  I cannot help but wonder if Bolsonaro’s election was bought and paid for by Putin, just as Trump’s was.


Two peas in a pod — Bolsonaro & Trump

Since Bolsonaro took office, police in Rio de Janeiro have averaged more than three killings a day, and residents have accused the police of brutality, including waging unauthorized sniper campaigns and firing indiscriminately from a helicopter.

Bolsonaro’s embrace of fiery populist rhetoric has also frequently boiled over to galvanize supporters into acts of violence, specifically targeted at opposition supporters and the media.  Sound familiar?  During the Brazilian election last November, the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism documented more than 140 cases of violence against reporters, mostly by Bolsonaro supporters.  Sound familiar?

On Monday night, Bolsonaro appeared on Fox ‘News’, and said …

“The vast majority of potential immigrants do not have good intentions.”

Sound familiar?

“Brazil and the United States stand side-by-side in their efforts to ensure liberties in respect to traditional family lifestyle, respect to God, our creator against gender ideology or politically correct attitude and against fake news.”

Sound familiar?  Pity the people of Brazil … and we of the United States.

And that, folks, is a wrap.  Have a great rest of the day!

A Disaster Overlooked …

The Washington Post and New York Times both carried multiple stories about the ‘end’ of the government shutdown, about Roger Stone’s arrest, about Venezuela’s current presidency conundrum, and about the Trump ego-wall.  Neither carried, at least not in the major news sections, this story I found in bold headlines in The Guardian:

Hundreds Feared dead as Brazil dam collapse releases mud tide

Are we so wrapped up in our own detritus, in any story that carries the words ‘Trump’, ‘republicans’, ‘corruption’, ‘scandal’, or ‘immigrant’ that we simply don’t care about people in other places?  I don’t know, but apparently our two most credible media outlets think so.  Sure, I understand that we are interested in our own situation which is, unarguably dire, but can we not take a few minutes to care about people in other countries?

Here’s the story as of 2:00 p.m. this afternoon …

Hundreds of people are feared dead after a dam operated by the mining company Vale collapsed in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, releasing a wave of red iron ore waste and causing the worst environmental catastrophe in the country’s recent history.

Ten bodies have already been found and more than 300 people remain missing, according to the company. The disaster comes only three years after a similar failure of the Fundão tailings dam near Mariana – co-owned by Vale – which killed 19 people.

Take a quick look …

Brazil’s new right-wing populist president, Jair Bolsonaro, has frequently attacked environmentalists who predicted this very thing and who have been calling for tighter regulations at the mine.

Most of the victims of the disaster were Vale employees or subcontractors, around 100 of whom were having lunch in a canteen on the mine complex when the torrent of mud swept over them. A busload of workers was also killed, it was reported.

It cost billions to clean up after the Mariana disaster in 2015, which polluted the drinking water of hundreds of thousands. Yet no individual was ever held responsible.

I notice that CNN did do a piece on this catastrophe, and undoubtedly other media outlets in the U.S. covered it as well, but WHY wasn’t it headline news?  Because the majority of the media outlets thought people would rather read the same news they saw yesterday about the shutdown, about Roger Stone, and about Donald Trump. brazil-4



And We Thought Trump Was Horrible?

On Sunday, October 7th, Brazilians elected a new president, Jair Bolsonaro.  Until this man was elected, I thought that the U.S. was alone in having lost its collective mind, as evidenced by the election of Donald Trump.  Bolsonaro is every abominable thing Trump is … and much more.  I have to question the sanity of the 55% of Brazilians who voted for this demagogue.  But then, I have long questioned the sanity of those in the U.S. who voted for Donald Trump, also.  Oh, and guess who worked on Bolsonaro’s campaign?  None other than Trump’s former campaign advisor, Steve Bannon!!!Bolsonaro-TrumpFirst let’s look at some similarities …

  • Opposes most all forms of gun control
  • Strongly opposed to same-sex marriage
  • Opposes environmental regulations
  • Opposes women’s right of choice
  • Opposes affirmative action
  • Opposes land reforms
  • Opposes secularism
  • Plans to pull out of Paris climate accord
  • Plans to move Brazil’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem
  • Is on his third marriage (yes, it’s irrelevant, but still says something, I think)

But then there are those ideas and rhetoric that take him beyond even what Trump dares to say …

He has made statements in defense of the former Brazilian military regime (a dictatorship known for constant human rights violations). He claims that torture is a “legitimate practice” and says that he would try to pass new legislation regarding the introduction of life imprisonment to the Brazilian penal code.

Bolsonaro said that “the error of the dictatorship was that it tortured but did not kill”.

Brazil has the world’s largest tropical rainforest in the Amazon basin. Bolsonaro has chafed at foreign pressure to safeguard the rainforest, and he served notice to international nonprofit groups such as the World Wildlife Fund that he will not tolerate their agendas in Brazil. He has also come out strongly against lands reserved for indigenous tribes. Bolsonaro advisers additionally say that he plans to expand nuclear and hydroelectric power into the Amazon.

In a 2017 speech, Bolsonaro stated, “God above everything. There is no such thing as this secular state. The state is Christian, and the minority will have to change, if they can.”

Bolsonaro argued that men and women should not receive the same salaries, because women get pregnant; adding that he believes federal law mandating paid maternity leave harms work productivity.  Bolsonaro said that he had five children, that the first four were male and that for the fifth he produced a daughter out of “a moment of weakness”.

Bolsonaro said that “I would be incapable of loving a gay son,” and added that he would prefer any gay son of his “to die in an accident…”  Seriously???  Wow, what a dad, huh?  He went on to say that if a gay couple moved in next door to him, it would lower the market value of his house. Bolsonaro linked homosexuality to pedophilia, claiming that “many of the children who are adopted by gay couples will be abused by these couples.”  I have to ask … what rock did this pos slither out from under???  “If I see two men kissing in the street, I will beat them.” He then publicly defended beating gay children by saying: “If your child starts to become like that, a little gay, you take a whip and you change their behavior.”

On October 4, 2018, Bolsonaro said: “A father does not want to come home and see his son playing with a doll by the influence of school. Homosexuals will be happy if I become president”


Don Trump, Jr. (center) with Eduardo Bolsonaro (second from left)

Trump and Bolsonaro both indicate they plan to work together to improve relations between the U.S. and Brazil, and their sons have already met.  Eduardo Bolsonaro, Bolsonaro’s eldest son, met with Don Trump Jr. in Las Vegas. “They went to a shooting range together—not a major meeting but they got to know each other a bit,” according to a member of Bolsonaro’s party.  Following Bolsonaro’s victory, Trump tweeted …

“Had a very good conversation with the newly elected President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, who won the race by a substantial margin. We agreed that Brazil and the United States will work closely together on Trade, Military and everything else!”

Bolsonaro-2Bolsonaro’s election is another feather in the cap of the populist movement.  He won by tapping into a deep well of resentment at the status quo in Brazil — a country whiplashed by rising crime and two years of political and economic turmoil — and by presenting himself as the alternative.  Unlike Donald Trump in 2016, Bolsonaro actually won the popular vote by 55%, but one thing they both said that is striking is that “I alone can fix this”.  And they have in common their loudness, their crassness, their utter contempt for such things as respect, common courtesy and quiet dignity.  They are both loud, ‘in your face’ sorts.  Both countries have a large women’s protest movement … in the U.S. it is “Never Trump” and in Brazil it is “Ele Nao” (Not Him).

Like Trump, Bolsonaro has been a divisive figure in Brazil and those who love him seem to do so mainly for his tough talk.  Having seen what nearly two years of Trump has wrought upon this nation, I can only empathize with the people of Brazil.  Is this, then, the face of things to come, the type of ‘leader’ that people around the world will choose in the future?  Let us hope not.