Snarky Snippets — Thriving On Chaos

Never before in the history of this nation has there been a more chaotic government, one that had so little clue what they were doing or what the ramifications of their actions would be.  It is truly as if 7-year-old children are the decision-makers in Washington today!

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He wasn’t invited, but nonetheless, Mike Pompeo crashed the meeting.  A group of European foreign ministers were meeting in Brussels yesterday morning to work on how to best handle the situation with Iran that has turned into a mess, thanks to none other than Donald Trump.  The group did not grant Pompeo inclusion in their meeting, but several diplomats from the UK, France, Germany, and the EU’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, granted him private meetings.

The Europeans have all expressed fear not only about how Iran will behave, but equally about the aggression by the U.S.  British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said …

“We are very worried about the risk of a conflict happening by accident, with an escalation that is unintended really on either side. Most of all, we need to make sure we don’t end up putting Iran back on the path to re-nuclearization. Because if Iran becomes a nuclear power, its neighbors are likely to want to become nuclear powers. This is already the most unstable region in the world, and this would be a massive step in the wrong direction.”

Since Trump reneged on the Iran nuclear agreement a year ago, he has been taunting Iran, as well as our allies who are trying to hold the deal together without any assistance from the U.S.  Iran finally said, “Enough”, and is threatening to cancel the agreement and return to building its nuclear program.

Apparently little, if anything, was gained by the private meetings with Pompeo, as each side dug in, with Pompeo saying that the nuclear deal should be scrapped.  Apparently, he would like to have a reason to go to war with Iran?  Pompeo has enough foreign policy experience to understand that a war in the Middle East will involve many more nations than only Iran and is a no-win proposition that can only make matters worse in the area than they already are.  If, as I suspect, Trump is all too eager to try out his nuclear button … well, you know where I’m going with that.

Trump, Pompeo, and Bolton have put our allies in a tough spot and have increased tensions in the Middle East dramatically and dangerously.  Way to go, Donnie … what else do you plan to destroy?


The trade negotiations between the U.S. and China were reportedly going well and expected to wrap up within a matter of days.  But … sigh … Trump apparently never heard that old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.  He prefers to break that which isn’t broken, and that is precisely what he did last week.  He increased the tariffs on some $200 billion worth of goods the U.S. imports from China, causing China to retaliate and impose new tariffs on some $60 billion worth of goods they buy from us.

Remember how Trump has been bragging about that good economy (the one that was already doing very well when he inherited it)?  Well, guess what folks?  Based on the news of all these new tariffs being bandied about, the market took a bit of a nosedive.  Does this ‘man’ understand nothing???  No, Donnie, tariffs are not good, China isn’t the one paying for the tariffs that YOU imposed … WE are!  And NO, Donnie, trade wars are not easy to win!

Trump claimed his reason for increasing the tariffs was that China was reneging on certain concessions, but there is no evidence of that, and people who have long dealt with Trump in the world of real estate say that this is his modus operandi … he throws a fit over some imagined problem at the last minute, then attempts to bully his way into a better deal.  Trouble is … this isn’t a real estate deal and … our economy and our livelihoods are at risk here.  He is playing with the lives of real people.


I got through my first four years of college with the help of Pell Grants and by often working three jobs.  Pell Grants, for those who may not be familiar with them, are subsidies the U.S. federal government provides for students who need it to pay for college. Federal Pell Grants are limited to students with financial need, who have not earned their first bachelor’s degree.  I could not have gone to college had it not been for those Pell Grants.  Today, they are more important than ever, with the high cost of college.  But guess what?  Donald Trump has decided that playing with his space toys is more important than educating our youth.

Yesterday evening, Trump sent a budget amendment to Congress to take $1.9 billion from the Pell Grant program and give it, instead, to NASA “so that we can return to Space in a BIG WAY!” 

bullshit

Some spokesperson for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) claims that it will not impact the Pell Grant program … I guess he must think we are all pretty damn stupid.

Trump has already proposed budget cuts for other student aid programs to the tune of $3.8 billion!  It would seem that his ultimate goal is to ensure that only the children of the wealthy can afford to attend college.  Picture the U.S. in 25 years.  Your children and grandchildren will be digging ditches, working in dead-end factory jobs, clerking at a grocery store or McDonald’s, while Betsy DeVos’ and Donald Trump’s grandchildren will be the corporate CEOs and will be the people running our government … if, in fact, there is still a government to run.


And now, I believe I have spent most of my snark, so I shall leave you to find a cheerier blog than mine to read for the rest of the morning.  But never fear, I shall return!

A New Batch … Hot Off The Press!

Some days I think I have turned into a huge cynic, a shrew, and I remonstrate with myself about it.  Now, I’ve told you before about these three-way conversations with Me, Myself, and I, right?  Well, in this particular conversation. Myself convinced Me that it wasn’t my fault I was turning into an untrusting, cynical human being, and I thanked Myself, while Me felt a bit hurt and left out.  Confused yet?  Welcome to my mind!  Anyway … today I am feeling like a bit of mockery at the expense of Trump & Co., for they deserve it, and it makes me happy.  So … snarky snippets it is!


And the award goes to …

Donald Trump has mentioned a few times that he believes he will be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.  It galls him to no end that his nemesis, President Obama, earned the award, and he has not a snowball’s chance.  However, there is one person in our government today who is being honoured with a prestigious award.  Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, is to be awarded the 2019 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. Nancy-PelosiCaroline Kennedy, the daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy, said in a statement Sunday that Ms. Pelosi is “the most important woman in American political history.” Pelosi is being honored because of her efforts to pass former President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care law and for helping Democrats reclaim control of the U.S. House during last year’s elections.  Kennedy said Pelosi “leads with strength, integrity and grace under pressure.”

The award will be presented to Pelosi on May 19 during a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.  I smile thinking of what Trump must have said when he first heard this news.  😊

trump tantrum


And speaking of awards …

The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, founded in 2014, advocates for the safety of journalists and the release of Americans held hostage abroad.  Each year at its annual dinner, the foundation issues a “hostage freedom award” to someone for “courageous work for hostage recovery, press freedom, and humanitarian efforts”.  This year, the award was initially planned to go to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, but the foundation changed its mind because of what it felt was an inadequate response by the administration to the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Pompeo did not take the loss of the award with good grace, however.

“I regret that there was pressure applied by the media for that award to be withdrawn.”

Ultra-conservative Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen did not miss an opportunity to accuse and abuse the media, saying that the award was rescinded only because “media partners’ promised to boycott the event if Pompeo got the award”.

If you can’t somehow blame the democrats, then blame the media, eh?  However, the foundation published a “Letter to the Editor” of The Washington Post on Friday …

“The decision with respect to the James W. Foley Hostage Advocate award was mischaracterized in Marc A. Thiessen’s April 4 column … While it is accurate that our foundation intended to present our hostage freedom award to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and we extended the invitation to him on Nov. 19, 2018, we ultimately decided we could not present the award as planned because of the dramatic change in circumstances when the Trump administration did not press for genuine accountability from the Saudi government for the brutal murder of Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi. We communicated the reason for this decision to the secretary’s team on Jan. 11.

Our decision had nothing to do with whether we received media pressure. In addition to advocating for the safe return of U.S. hostages abroad, the protection of free speech and promotion of journalists’ safety are key pillars of our foundation, and this award would have been in conflict with that key principle.”

Simple, straightforward, and honest, but Pompeo exhibits the same character flaw that his boss does … he is a sore loser.  Suck it up, Mike.


Even dumber than Kellyanne …

Donald Trump has a ‘campaign press secretary’.  I had never seen her until yesterday when she swooped across my radar.  As I read the headline, I thought … this one is even dumber than Kellyanne!  And that, folks, is a tough act to follow!

Her name is Kayleigh McEnany and she is actually just about to become 31 years of age, though I wouldn’t have guessed it based on what I’ve seen so far.  I think you can see, even before I go any further, why Trump chose her for his campaign press secretary.

She even looks a bit like Kellyanne … that is, before Kellyanne aged 40 years in a month from having to go behind her boss and pick up his messes. McEnany-3But to the point.  McEnany has pulled some dumber-than-dirt moments in the past year or so, but this one takes the cake.  Yesterday, following the lead of Trump and Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, McEnany claimed that Trump should not be forced to release his tax returns to Congress.  She said that Congress doesn’t have a legitimate reason to ask for them.  (Forgive her, but she’s likely never heard of the word ‘ethics’ before).  Her reasoning?  Because Congress isn’t asking for the tax returns of other presidents.  Let that one sink in just a minute, folks.

“Ironically, the only person whose tax returns they’ve asked for — the only president — is Trump. So it’s a sham reasoning.”

Oh, Kayleigh … please … do go back to school!  I hear they offer GED courses at most community colleges?  You’re definitely not ready for this job!

McEnany-4

Wow!  Really???

Now, as we all know, every other president starting with Nixon has released their tax returns voluntarily, so Congress never had a need to demand them.  And even if that weren’t the case … none of those other guys are president today!

President Barack Obama released his tax returns for every year between 2000 and 2015. President George W. Bush released his returns for 2000 through 2007. President Bill Clinton made public his returns from 1992 to 1999 (and then his wife, 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton released their returns from 2000 to 2016).  And Trump?  Not. One. Single. Year.

If you ask me, Trump is down to dredging the bottom of the barrel to find people willing to work in the chaos that defines the current administration.


And on that note, I shall go see what other mischief I can dig up.

A Tale Of Two Mikes — Part I

This week, the two Mikes, Pompeo and Pence, our two main global envoys, went abroad as ambassadors of the United States, representing our nation.  The blew it.  In keeping with Trump’s modus operandi, they pandered to corrupt strongmen such as Viktor Orban, but worse, they denigrated and threatened our true allies.  Their antics went largely unnoticed amid a looming government shutdown and then a trumped-up ‘state of emergency’, but We the People need to keep our eye on this ball, for the security and strength of any nation lies, in part, with its relations with other countries, particularly long-held close alliances.

The week began with Secretary of State Pompeo visiting Hungary, where he literally pandered to autocrat Viktor Orban, a virtual pariah in European capitals because of his embrace of “illiberal democracy.”  The Orban regime is noted for suppression of independent media, the judiciary, and civil society groups, corrupt cronyism, and demagoguery that drips with xenophobia and anti-Semitism.  Yet the Trump administration lauds him.  Perhaps it is that his rhetoric so nearly matches that of Donald Trump, as he calls immigrants a “threat to Christian culture” and speaks of building a fence along the country’s border to keep them out.

Next stop for Pompeo was Slovakia, where he met with Slovak President Andrej Kiska,  Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini, and Foreign Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajčák.  Pompeo made it clear that the U.S. is putting strategic interests and great power politics ahead of human rights concerns.  Just last year in Slovakia, a leading journalist who exposed government corruption was murdered along with his fiancée.

Pompeo then went to Poland where he met up with the other Mike, Vice President Pence for a U.S.-organized conference on the Middle East.  The intent of this conference was to rally European and Middle Eastern nations against Iran.  It would seem that Trump and his minions have an ill-conceived intent to start a war with Iran!  Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement and impose sanctions on Iran was only one of his worst moves in the past two years, but one that has had serious consequences for our allies.

And so it was that Mike Pence made a complete fool of himself and further eroded our relationship with our allies.  Pence used his address to the conference to demand that European countries withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement. He further urged U.S. allies to back Washington’s sanctions on Iran. Long-standing U.S. allies in Europe favor staying in the deal and have sought ways to keep open trade and financial dealings with Iran.

“The authoritarian regime in Tehran represses the freedom of speech and assembly, persecutes religious minorities, brutalizes women, executes gays and openly advocates the destruction of the State of Israel.”

WHOA there, Mikey!  First, I might remind everyone that Mike Pence is one of the most homophobic people in our government, that as Governor of Indiana he signed into law a bill titled the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that allowed individuals and companies to openly discriminate against LGBT people!  And now he’s concerned about the rights of the LGBT in Iran?  I don’t think so.

But even more to the point, while this nation is supporting dictators such as Viktor Orban, Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Rodrigo Duterte, we are overlooking human rights violations around the globe. Trump has steadfastly refused to acknowledge the hard evidence presented by his own intelligence officials that Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi.  And now he claims to be so concerned about human rights violations by Iran?!?!?  Can we say ‘hypocrisy’?

“Iran endlessly spews hatred against Israel, our most cherished ally,” says Pence.  What a slap in the face to our true allies, the EU, UK, Mexico and Canada, to name a few!  Israel is by no means our ‘most cherished’ ally!!!  Benjamin Netanyahu is just about as corrupt as Donald Trump … he’s just more intelligent and hides his crimes better, but he and his wife are both currently under investigation for multiple issues.  Israel has become a bully-nation just as Trump is trying to make the U.S. into one.

And then came Munich.

Initially I intended to make this a single post, but by the time I reached this point, I realized that the Munich Security Conference is important enough to warrant a separate post.  Stay tuned for Part II of A Tale of Two Mikes on Monday afternoon.

Send In The Adults … PLEASE!!!

PLEASE, people, let us put some adults in charge of this sinking ship!!!  In a nutshell, if you combine all the statements about Syria and condense them into a single statement, it reads something like this:

We are going to withdraw all U.S. forces from Syria by the end of last year, but it may not happen for several years.

Scratching your head over that one, aren’t you?  See, what happens here is that Donald Trump gets up one morning all in a fizz and while he’s sitting on the potty wondering what to tweet next, an idea comes to him.  So, without consulting any of the two people on his staff who have brains, he tweets that he will be pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria.  Then, as an afterthought, he tweets that this will happen by the end of December.Bolton-Mattis-Pompeo.jpgImagine the look of utter incredulity on the faces of James Mattis, John Bolton and Mike Pompeo on seeing that tweet as they sit at their breakfast tables!  We know Mattis’ take on it, for it gave him the reason he had probably been looking for to tender his resignation and get off the Trumptanic before it meets the iceberg.  Bolton likely turned red in the face and nearly had apoplexy, moustaches twitching while his eyebrows went up and down.  And Pompeo probably just popped yet another donut into his mouth.bolton-near-tearsApparently, despite his bluster and his reputation as a warmonger, even Bolton has a problem with Trump’s decision, bred of ignorance, but he could hardly ignore his boss man, so he found a compromise this week … pull out the equipment and leave the troops!  Brilliant … that way he can honestly say we are in the process of pulling out, yet not risk the lives of all Kurds and other innocent people in the area by leaving them unassisted with the threat of Turks attacking.moving equipment-Syria.jpgOnly thing is … without equipment, without jeeps, tanks and the like … of what use are the soldiers?  And how safe are they?  Oh this was such a well-thought-out, brilliant move!  CHAOS!  ICEBERG AHEAD!!!titanic-2Interestingly, despite some equipment being moved out of Syria, the Department of Defense says that the number of U.S. troops in Syria may “increase slightly”.  Trump, apparently after talking to Bolton, changed his ’30-day’ time frame to four months, but even that seems highly unachievable … and undesirable from a foreign policy point of view.  I doubt that Bolton has had the nerve yet to tell him that he may increase the number of troops and that they may yet be there for years.

There are valid reasons for the U.S. to remain in Syria.  One, daesh (aka ISIS) has not, as Trump said it had, been eradicated and if U.S. forces leave the area, are likely to regroup and increase their numbers.  Two, Turkish President Erdoğan has already said that it is his intent to murder every Kurd in Syria, and without the protection of the U.S. troops, that is almost a certainty.

Trump is almost certain to have to eat some crow on this one … could that be part of the reason he’s digging his heels on the border wall?  His ego cannot seem to take two major defeats in such a short time frame, and his buddy Sean Hannity will definitely not be pleased with him if he caves on the border wall.

Let’s talk about that border wall for a minute.  I found it heartbreaking yesterday to read that some of the federal workers who have been without pay for nearly a month now are selling household goods on Ebay to try to scrape together enough to pay the rent and keep the electricity on … it is winter, y’know.

Limo.jpgMeanwhile, Trump rides around in his ostentatious $1.5 million limo (we paid for that, too), takes Air Force One to Texas for a wasted trip that accomplished nothing at a cost of $200,000 per hour!  And he obviously has not so much as missed a meal.  He claims democrats are to blame for his ignominious shutdown for not being willing to negotiate, but in truth it is he who is not willing to negotiate.  He has set a number he wants immediately for his wall at $5.7 billion, and that is the only outcome he will accept.  He isn’t willing to settle for a portion of that amount … it’s all or nothing at all.  So really, there is only one person to blame, and that person is definitely not a democrat! He will bankrupt this nation within the next six months at the current rate he is spending our money.

The victims of the chaos that reigns in this administration are each and every one of us.  It only begins with those 800,000+ workers who are in danger of losing their homes, cars and even lives, but in the near future the pain will trickle down to us all.  This is the most irresponsible presidency in the history of this nation, bar none.  It’s time we put some adults in charge, for we damn sure don’t have any today!

A Bit Of This And A Bit Of That …

Trump thinks Ivanka would be great to replace Nikki Haley.

“So nice, everyone wants Ivanka Trump to be the new United Nations Ambassador. She would be incredible, but I can already hear the chants of Nepotism!” Trump tweeted on Friday morning.  He later re-iterated, saying she would be “incredible,” and that there is “nobody more competent”.  And just what, pray tell, are her qualifications?  Oh wait … Nikki Haley had no qualifications for the job, either. But at least she had government experience, having served six years each as Governor of South Carolina and a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, and until she drank the Trump Kool Aid, she had some good sense.  Ivanka has … well, let’s see … she owns a company that daddy bought her whereby she uses overseas sweatshop labour to manufacture ugly clothing that she sells for an outrageous price.  Oh, and she’s married to a shyster real estate ‘tycoon’ who doesn’t pay taxes.  Oh yeah … everybody must surely want her to represent us at the United Nations.Ivanka-toon.png


Ol’ Duncan Hunter … back in the news again.

Remember Duncan Hunter?  He’s been on my radar off and on for nearly two years, but the latest was last month when I wrote that he had been caught and indicted on charges of using a quarter of a million dollars in campaign funds for personal expenses.  And then he had the gall to blame it all on his wife!  Well, I guess when you’re caught with your hand in the cookie jar, one thing you can do is start pointing fingers at others.  But his latest antic is a real piece of work.  He has accused his Democratic challenger for the upcoming mid-terms, one Ammar Campa-Najjar, of being a Palestinian terrorist who is trying to “infiltrate” Congress.  No, I swear I’m not making it up!  My imagination isn’t that good!

He produced a television ad that claims …

“Ammar Campa-Najjar is working to infiltrate Congress. He’s used three different names to hide his family’s ties to terrorism. His grandfather masterminded the Munich Olympic massacre. His father said they deserved to die. … ‘He is being supported by CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood.’ ‘This is a well-orchestrated plan.’ Ammar Campa-Najjar: A risk we can’t ignore.”

And …

“He changed his name from Ammar Yasser Najjar to Ammar Campa-Najjar so he sounds Hispanic. … So his signs could actually say Joseph Campa or, or something. That is how hard, by the way, that the radical Muslims are trying to infiltrate the U.S. government. You had more Islamists run for office this year at the federal level than ever before in U.S. history.”

The Washington Post Fact Checker to the rescue:

  • Campa-Najjar is a Christian born and raised in San Diego
  • His grandfather died years before he was born
  • His father wasn’t around much and that Campa-Najjar was raised by his mother and her Mexican American family
  • Campa-Najjar obtained a security clearance for his past work in the Obama White House and the Labor Department

The conclusion:

This ad uses naked anti-Muslim bias in an effort to scare Californians into voting for an indicted Republican incumbent.

The Democrat on the receiving end of these attacks isn’t even Muslim. All the claims in the ad are false, misleading or devoid of evidence.

Hunter earns Four Pinocchios.

4 pinocchios


Mike Pompeo has a heart, but it’s very, very tiny.tiny heartThe policy of the United States has long been to grant visas to partners of foreign diplomats serving in the U.S., even when those relationships are not recognized by their home countries, such as is sometimes the case with LGBT couples.  In July, the U.S. mission to the United Nations informed foreign delegations that beginning Oct. 1, the State Department would no longer issue G-4 visas to same-sex partners of foreign diplomats and U.N. officials who are not legally married.

There are 69 countries around the world that criminalize same-sex relationships, and in 10 countries, LGBT couples face the death penalty for their orientation.  Last week, 119 House Democrats sent a letter to Pompeo protesting the policy change.  Let’s hope he listens, though I’m not holding my breath.  This is a step backward in U.S. Civil Rights, not to mention Human Rights … and a loud statement of Pompeo’s views of the LGBT community.


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Even Snarkier Than Usual Snippets …

As I write this on Thursday night, I am in a foul humour.  Everything in the news annoys and there is seemingly no such thing as ‘good’ news this week.  And so, here is my roundup of Snarky Snippets with a bit more snark than usual.


The Ultimate Hypocrisy …

Wednesday, 20 June was World Refugee Day, an international event designed to draw attention to the global refugee crisis. There could be no possible appropriate response by the United States, under the current circumstances, and silence would have been the best option.  But this is the era of Trump and silence is never an option, so Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued the following statement … a study in hypocrisy …World Refugee Day.jpg

It is one thing to be a bastard, another to keep reminding the world.


The Party’s Over …

The annual Congressional picnic was scheduled for yesterday on the White House lawn.  It was cancelled, just one day prior, by none other than Donald Trump who said it, “just didn’t feel right.” Wait … he feels?  Anything?  Whoa … could’a fooled me!  Anyway, of course there was some other reason.  The first thought was that he was paying back those who essentially forced his hand and made him sign an executive order promising to stop abusing children by separating them from their parents at our southern border.  And that may well be part of it, but there’s more.

Then some speculated that he was punishing Congress for not coming to a vote on an immigration bill that would also provide him with $25 billion to fund his ignoble wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.  And that, too, may be a part of it, but there’s more.

As taxpayers, you might want to note that the chairs and other amenities such as portaloos had already been paid for and delivered.  Steaks and other meats had already been purchased (yeah, you paid for them) and even pre-cooked.  I suppose the White House staff will eat well for the next few days, eh?

“I was just walking over to the Oval Office and I said, you know, it doesn’t feel right to have a picnic for Congress when we’re working on doing something very important. It didn’t feel exactly right to me. We’ll make it another time when things are going extremely well.”   (After you’re out of office, then?)

PAH!!!  It feels okay to him to denigrate our friends, to impose unreasonable and unnecessary tariffs that will hurt global economies?  It feels fine to him to have elicit affairs while he wife just gave birth to his son?  It feels right to him to abuse some 2,000 children seeking asylum with their parents?  And it felt right to him to attend a high-dollar fund raiser at his Washington hotel the same night? He actually has a conscience???  I think not.  The real reason Donald Trump canceled the annual Congressional picnic yesterday was …

… they told him he had to bring the potato salad!


Priorities, Anyone???

Yesterday, Melania Trump traveled to the U.S.-Mexican border to tour a facility where detained immigrant children are being held hostage by the U.S. government.  Now, much could be said here, but … what is the biggest talking point?  Melania’s bloomin’ jacket!!!  That’s right, folks, it matters more what she wears than what she says, does or thinks.  Well, since it’s doubtful that she thinks very much, scratch that one.

In truth, though, her jacket was a slap in the face … to the children she went to ‘visit’, to the immigrants seeking asylum in this nation, and to every concerned citizen in this nation.  Her jacket, a hooded green army jacket with white lettering on the back that reads “I REALLY DON’T CARE DO U?”, was beyond inappropriate.  It was ridiculous, it was abominable, and yes, it was very much a slap in the face. First Lady Melania Trump Visits Immigrant Detention Center On U.S. BorderThere was a time I pitied Melania, felt sorry for her having to be married to a narcissist like  Donald Trump, even though she deserves whatever anguish he puts her through, since she married him for money and citizenship.  But all bets are off, and I now think that Melania is every bit as selfish, narcissistic and uncaring as her husband.  Too bad she didn’t just stay in bed and watch t.v. all day, for her ’visit’ was further proof that humanitarian values do not exist in the White House today.  No word on the actual visit.  Nice job, Melania.  I want Michelle Obama back!!!!!!!


Oh … And About That Tax ‘Cut’ …

Good news, folks!  You won’t have to worry about what to do with those extra few dollars on your paycheck as a result of Trump’s ‘donor tax cut’ last December!  It has been taken out of your hands.  The average cost of fuel at the pump has increased by 20%, from $2.41 to $2.90.  Oh … and by the way, your health insurance premiums are going up, too.  And … um … with the new tariffs, expect to pay more for many things from fresh produce to beer and Canadian whiskey, thanks to Trump’s tariffs.  And … in the market for a new car?  Well, there goes your tax cut for the next 30 years or so.


Charles Krauthammer says he has 'only a few weeks left to live'Filosofa sends heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and co-workers of long-term Washington Post writer Charles Krauthammer who died yesterday from a year-long battle with cancer.  He was a conservative, but one of the good guys and he will be missed.


Well, now that I have managed to completely send your mood into a downward spiral, I am going to bed.  Have a great day, everyone!

The Three Kims …

In the early hours of the morning on Thursday, May 10th, three men arrived back on U.S. soil after having been held in prisons in North Korea.  I am happy the men have been released and returned to their families, but I am disgusted by the way the situation was used as a political tool, so I had no intention of writing a post about it.  However, a friend, rawgod, asked me a series of questions about the situation that I didn’t know the answers to, yet they were good questions, so I reversed my original idea and am writing this post to answer those questions and provide whatever other information I can.

The questions:

  1. How many Americans are currently in NK prisons? How many of those are political prisoners? How many foreign nationals are in NK prisons? How many of those are political prisoners?

  2. Who are these three prisoners that were released? Are they poor people, middle class, or part of the American elite? What were their “crimes”? What were their sentences? Why were they chosen for release over those who were not chosen?

  3. What did the Orange Trumphole give up in order to get these three people released? Was it a “good faith” showing from Kim, or was it a trade, or what. Was money involved in the negotiation? We’re arms involved in any way in the negotiation?

  4. Who approached who to start this negotiation? Was the US negotiator the acter, or the reacter? Was there any other country involved in this negotiation? Who, and what part did they play?

First, let me start off by introducing these three men who, coincidentally all have the same surname, Kim, but are not related.

Kim Dong-chulKim Dong-chul is a businessman and naturalized American citizen from the Virginia suburbs of Washington. Arrested in October 2015, he had been sentenced to 10 years’ hard labor in April 2016 after being convicted of spying and other offenses. He had confessed to committing crimes against the country and pleaded for mercy.  In January 2016, he was allowed to do an interview with CNN, in which he said he used to run a trading and hotel services company in Rason, a special economic zone that North Korea operates near its borders with China and Russia. He also said he had begun spying on behalf of “South Korean conservative elements” in 2013, by bribing North Korean residents to collect data about the North’s military and its nuclear program. He said he was arrested in October while he was meeting one of his local sources, a former North Korean soldier.

Kim Sang-dukKim Sang-duk (also known as Tony Kim) had just finished spending a month teaching accounting at a Christian-funded school, Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, when in April 2017 he was arrested as he boarded a plane for home. He was charged with “hostile criminal acts with an aim to subvert the country.”

Kim Hak-songKim Hak-song was born in China near the North Korean border and emigrated to the United States in the 1990s.  He later returned to China, and later settled in Pyongyang, North Korea.  At the time of his arrest in May 2017, he had been volunteering at the agricultural research farm of the same school where Kim Sang-duk had taught.

These three were the last remaining hostages from the U.S. in North Korea.  The only other foreign nationals still being detained in North Korea are four South Koreans.  At least one had confessed to spying.  Over the years, North Korea has detained several Americans on accusations of illegal entry or spying and other “anti-state” crimes. It has often permitted them to speak to outside news media in interviews or at news conferences in Pyongyang.

They invariably confessed to committing crimes and apologized, asking North Korea for leniency and urging their governments to facilitate their release. But some told reporters after their release that officials had coerced them into making such statements.  I cannot say whether any of the three were guilty of the crimes with which they were charged, and I suspect we will never know for certain.

It does not appear that any concessions were exchanged for the release of the hostages.  It seems to be an act of ‘good faith’ on the part of Kim Jong-un, but … I have a suspicious nature, and somehow I cannot help but wonder if Kim, not Donald, is the one doing the manipulating.  The goals, I believe, that North Korea hopes to meet in his ‘summit’ with Trump in June are, a) to have the sanctions imposed by the U.S. lifted, and b) to have less U.S. involvement in the Korean Peninsula.

Pompeo clearly said that sanctions would not be lifted in a piecemeal fashion, but that Kim would have to fully de-nuclearize before sanctions would be lifted.  In any case, neither Kim nor Trump have a history of honesty and integrity, so from either perspective, I would be leery.  Seeing is believing. Based on the information I could find, the negotiations for the hostages were simply between Pompeo (acting at the direction of Trump, no doubt), and Kim.  South Korean or Japanese leaders may have had input, but I can find nothing to indicate this.

And now that I’ve given you all the pertinent facts I can glean, please allow me to editorialize for just a moment here.  I think it was crass, vulgar and in poor taste for Donald Trump to turn the hostages’ arrival back in the U.S. into a photo-opportunity, a back-patting (himself) session.  It was 3:00 a.m.  These men had been in-flight for hours, and before that had been in forced labour camps for between 1-3 years.  I’m sure all they wanted was to see their families, but no, instead they were forced to be put on display like a performing animal in a circus, and to pander to a megalomaniac.

trump takes creditTrump credits himself with the hostages’ release, but in truth, he had little to do with it.  He also said he had succeeded in getting them released, where Obama had failed.  But two of the three were taken hostage under Trump’s watch, in 2017.  Trump has also said he believes he deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for getting the hostages released.  Here is a list of hostages released from North Korea under the Obama administration:

Euna Lee
Laura Ling
Robert Park
Aijalon Gomes
Eddie Yong Su Jun
Merrill Newman
Jeffrey Fowle
Kenneth Bae
Matthew Miller
Sandra Suh
Arturo Pierre Martinez 
hostages releasedKim Jong-un is a dictator and releasing the hostages was a means to an end.  It was a display of good faith, if you wish to call it such, but on Kim’s part, not Trump’s or Pompeo’s.  And it was not done out of kindness, but rather diplomatic negotiations.

Max Boot Argues Why the President Should Not Blow Up Iran Nuclear Deal Bur He’s Not Listening

Gronda has covered this one, for which I am so grateful, because I am too furious to write it! Today, Donald Trump made one of his most stupid decisions in his 15 months in office. He ignored the advice of all the people who understood what the Iran deal actually accomplished and why we needed it, and he withdrew the U.S. Our European allies are not happy, those of us who understand this are not happy, but Donnie made his buddy Bennie (Netanyahu) happy, so what else matters, right? Please take a few minutes to read Gronda’s comprehensive post, for she did a great job with it! Thank you, Gronda!

Gronda Morin

MAX BOOT is a conservative Russian-American author, consultant, editorialist, lecturer, and military historian. He worked as a writer and editor for Christian Science Monitor and The Wall Street Journal in the 1990s.(Wikipedia)

Today’s the day, 8th day of May 2018, when the republican President Donald Trump plans to announce his intent to have the US back out of the 2015 Iran Nuclear deal despite the advice by his own Defense Secretary General James Mattis and the allied leaders of numerous countries.

The president is instead listening to the professionals whom he has recently placed in his cabinet like the National Security Adviser John Bolton and the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as well as the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, all of whom are in favor of tearing up this deal and for promoting regime change in Iran.

See: The U.S. Will Withdraw From Iran Nuclear Deal, Trump Tells…

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The Island of Misfits …

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

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

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

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

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

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

And finally, the most important …

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

We have seen so many examples of this …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Island of misfit toys

 

From Bad To Worse …

The first news I saw this morning was that Tillerson had been fired, which anybody with half a brain predicted months ago.  Now, Tillerson was highly unqualified for the job of Secretary of State, as I wrote in May 2017.  However, in defense of Mr. Tillerson, he was trying to learn his job, was trying, I think, to do the right thing.  Or perhaps I am only in his corner because he had the nerve to call Donald Trump a moron last October.

At any rate, Tillerson is out and in his place comes Mike Pompeo, who until today was the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  Now, I know that hearing me say what I’m about to say is getting old and you’re tired of hearing it, but hey … I’m not the one who keeps finding these people.  Mike Pompeo is highly unqualified to be in the position of Secretary of State.  Surprised, aren’t you?  Let’s take a brief look at ol’ Mikey …

He graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from West Point in 1986, and with a JD from Harvard Law School in 1994.  And what has he done since then?  He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 2011 until Trump tapped him for the CIA position almost immediately after the 2016 election.  His political views make him a perfect fit for the Trump ‘team’, for he leans far to the right and is or was a member of the “Tea Party” movement.  Let’s take a closer look … you may want to make sure you have an antacid close by …

On climate change and protecting the environment:

“There are scientists who think lots of different things about climate change. There’s some who think we’re warming, there’s some who think we’re cooling, there’s some who think that the last 16 years have shown a pretty stable climate environment.”  (Seriously?  It seems that I recall reading that 97% of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities.)

“Federal policy should be about the American family, not worshipping a radical environmental agenda.”  (Just how long do you think the American family will continue to exist if we don’t protect our home, the planet Earth, Mr. P?)

He also opposes the regulation of Greenhouse gas emissions by the United States, and supports eliminating the United States federal register of greenhouse gas emissions.  Are you beginning to understand why Trump picked him?

He has called for the permanent elimination of wind power production tax credits, calling them an “enormous government handout”.

Pompeo is a member of Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the conservative political advocacy group funded by the Koch brothers.  Their agenda, naturally, is to place as many far-right candidates in key Congressional positions as possible.  To that tune, during the 2014 election season, the Koch brothers, David and Charles, contributed nearly a half-million dollars to Pompeo’s campaign.  He signed the AFP’s “No Climate Tax” pledge …No climate tax pledgeAnd the AFP isn’t his only connection to the infamous Kochs.  In 1998, Pompeo co-founded Thayer Aerospace and Private Security, funded in part by investments by the Koch brothers.

He opposes same-sex marriage, opposes workplace protection for the LGBT community, which has earned him a zero rating with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).  But I know you’ll be happy to hear that he has an “A” rating with the National Rifle Association (NRA)!

Toward the latter part of his short tenure, Tillerson seemed to be stepping up to the plate, and only yesterday condemned Russia for the chemical attack against a former Russian spy in the UK – a stance that the Trump White House refused to take, and one that was likely the straw that broke the camel’s back for Tillerson’s tenure in the State Department.  Tillerson was not an ideal Secretary of State, but it is the opinion of this writer that Pompeo will be worse.  Trump has made a shambles of our relations with allies across the pond, and Pompeo is likely to support Trump blindly, causing even more rifts.  Pompeo has absolutely zero foreign policy experience, and has rigid, uncompromising views on human rights.  This is not what we need, especially as Trump heads to his first meeting with Kim Jong-un of North Korea.

Pompeo will have to be confirmed by the Senate, of course, but as we have seen in the past 14 months, that is a rubber stamp, as the republicans in the Senate continue to lick Trump’s boots.