A Good Deal!!!

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

How To Build A Wall …

My friend Valerie posted this on Facebook last night …

“We just got a phone call wanting us to buy a brick in Trumps wall. No, not happening.”

Say WHAT???  Surely just some new phone scam, right?  Well, yes and no.  Turns out that there are a couple of different ‘things’ going around, but at least one is actually a project of Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign!  Yes, folks, but the bricks aren’t real, and they don’t go to build the wall!  They are fake bricks that you can purchase for only $20.20 each and have them sent to either Senator Chuck Schumer or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Campaign manager Brad Parscale issued a statement:

“The Democrats have been stonewalling President Trump for too long, as the President remains fully committed to make a deal to secure our border. Now the American people can send a message directly to Chuck and Nancy on a faux red brick that tells them to build the wall. Because they clearly don’t understand the facts about the critical need for a wall and border security, our bricks will teach them the truth about the crime, drugs, and human trafficking that result from open borders.”

A fake brick. For only $20.20.  Enough to feed a family of four for a day or two, at least.  Instead, some fools will throw away their money on this foolish little game.  By the way … the market price of an actual brick is around $1.96 per square foot.

The campaign also set up a website called Build the Border Wall, where respondents can donate their money and choose if they want their brick to be sent to Pelosi or Schumer. They can send up to seven bricks to each with one donation.

There is also a robocall going about that may or may not be associated with the Trump campaign, where they are asking for $35.  The voicemail says …

“To secure the border and stop criminal gangs, drug smugglers and human traffickers, it’s a tremendous problem. President Trump wants to send bricks to Chuck and Nancy for every donation of at least $35 right now. That’s why we need your help, now more than ever to get these bricks sent, so Chuck, Nancy and the Democrats know you’re serious about helping President Trump secure the border and fund the wall. So please press 1 now to support President Trump by donating and getting your brick sent to Chuck and Nancy. Again press 1 to donate, that’s on your keypad to donate now, press 9 to unsubscribe.”

I came across these stories in several media venues, including The Hill and Newsweek.  I liked what one Newsweek reader, Philip Bergeron, suggested:newsweek


Meanwhile … remember a while back when I reported that a GoFundMe account had been set up by a man named Brian Kolfage for the purpose of financing Trump’s border wall?  Kolfage was asking that every American contribute $80.    Well, as of January 9th, it was reported by MarketWatch that the account had raised $19.7 million.  Now, that’s quite a bit shy of the $5.7 billion that Trump is demanding only to make a start on his blasted wall, but it is still an astounding figure!  I am stunned and appalled that more than 346,000 people had no better sense than to donate an average of $56.94 to a wall that is not needed, is not wanted, and is one of the biggest hoaxes of modern times!!!  Fools!!!  I can actually feed my family for a week on $56.94 if I try!

However … two days later, on January 11th, GoFundMe announced that they would refund all donations after Kolfage made a strange change to the wording of the account.  Whereas in the beginning, he claimed that ‘every single penny’ would go directly toward building the wall, he later added the following verbage …

WE EXPANDED OUR MISSION! We are no longer just funding the wall, we are now BUILDING the wall. 

Eight days before Christmas I started this GoFundMe campaign because I was tired of watching the U.S. government’s inability to secure our southern border. Like most Americans, I see the porous southern border as a national security threat and I refuse to allow our broken political system to leave my family and my country vulnerable to attack.

The plan of action was simple and straightforward to raise money to construct a wall on our southern border. We have raised over $20 Million from 325,000 plus donors and we are only just getting started! I have been literally overwhelmed and inspired by the outpouring of support, calls, and emails from American citizens who support our efforts to Build the Wall. I got some hate as well but that was easy to ignore with all the positive feedback I was getting. I immediately sought out and consulted with some of our country’s leading professionals in law, politics, national security, construction, and finance. This team has spent countless hours over the holidays reviewing all issues pertaining to the construction of a southern border wall. Unanimously, we have all come to the conclusion that:

  • The federal government won’t be able to accept our donations anytime soon.

  • We are better equipped than our own government to use the donated funds to build an actual wall on the southern border.

  • Our highly experienced team is highly confident that we can complete significant segments of the wall in less time, and for far less money, than the federal government, while meeting or exceeding all required regulatory, engineering, and environmental specifications.

  • Our team strongly believes that we can complete our segments of the wall for less than half of the government’s estimated costs on a per mile basis.

It was also discovered that Kolfage has a history of running sites that promoted conspiracy theories and racist content.  A BuzzFeed News investigation published Thursday found that Kolfage allegedly pocketed money donated to a previous GoFundMe account he started for wounded veterans.  Nice guy, huh?  Fits right in with the rest of the Trumpeters.  Although GoFundMe is refunding the money of all who donated prior to January 11th, the campaign is still open and people are still donating, for I saw no less than ten donations that had come in within the two hours before I visited the site.

I would be willing to bet that many, if not all of the people donating to any of these schemes are in the bottom half of the income scale and can ill afford the money they have thrown away.  Surely it is only the under-educated and uninformed that would be so foolish?  Sigh.

Oh The Generosity …

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


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


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


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

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

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

lara trump

Lara Trump

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snarky Snippets … Again …

A couple of things in the news yesterday bothered me … really bothered me.  And you guys know what happens when things bother me, right?  I erupt into Snarky Snippets!  Grab your coffee, or better yet, your glass of wine, for I am full-on snark today.


A smooth shave turns bumpy …

First off, let’s talk razors, shall we?  I kept seeing remarks, mostly negative, about razors.  Meme’s, comments on Facebook, bad jokes … and I thought, “what the heck is up with razors?”.  But I didn’t think much beyond that until I saw this …gun-toting-dadHOLY SHIT!!!  I don’t know about Gillette, but it offends the heck out of me and makes me want to call Social Services on this guy!  And then I knew I must find out what all the hullabaloo is about.

Turns out, it is all over an advertisement that razor-maker Gillette recently placed, softening the male image from their usual “tough man” image, and appealing to men’s gentler sides.  It appears to be Gillette’s response to the #MeToo movement, and a response that I personally applaud.  So, what is the problem here?  Take a quick look at the ad and see what you think …

People are throwing away their razors and threatening a boycott of Gillette products.  WTF???  Do people really have nothing better to think about or to do with their time?  And are people so enamoured of the “he-man” image that they would rather see men portrayed as macho men than as kind, respectful men?

One such fool wrote on Twitter …

“I’m researching every product made by Proctor & Gamble, throwing any I have in the trash, and never buying any of them again until everyone involved in this ad from the top to bottom is fired and the company issues a public apology.”

Hold your breath, bucko!  Okay, so those gun-toting, tattooed, swaggering macho men feel threatened by a suggestion that they tone it down, treat women with a bit of respect.  I get that … well, no, really I don’t, but having known a few such men in my lifetime, I’m not surprised by it.  But what does surprise me is the response of some women!johnstoneSeriously, Kathleen???  You like to be shoved around a bit, maybe even slapped once in a while?

Although there were favourable responses to the ad, the response was overwhelmingly, 2-to-1, negative.  Folks … I think this says an awful lot about our society today, don’t you?


Clipping Pelosi’s wings …

In a rare event of petty revenge, Donald Trump told Nancy Pelosi that since she wouldn’t invite him to give the State of the Union Address before Congress on 29 January, then he wouldn’t allow her to fly via military transport for a previously undisclosed visit to U.S. troops in Afghanistan.  Shocked, aren’t you?  I’m surprised he didn’t burn her house down.  A few things here … the trip was not made public out of concern for the Congresswoman’s safety … HELLO DONNIE???  And now the whole world is aware, so Nancy, who Trump told could fly commercial airlines if she still wished to go, is forced to either stay at home, else fly through the air with a big red bullseye painted on her back, thanks to the loose lips of the fool on the hill.  Watch what Stephen Colbert has to say about it (if you have time, watch the whole 8 minutes … I promise you will laugh …)


Nancy can’t go, but Lindsey can?

And yet, though Trump claims the Trump-shutdown is the reason to disallow Ms. Pelosi’s travel, look who turned up in Turkey yesterday …lindsey-graham-erdoganYep. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi cannot go visit our troops in Afghanistan, but Senator Lindsey boot-licking Graham can go visit the Dictator of Turkey, one of the few men who Trump admires, or more likely envies.  You will remember that it was a telephone conversation with President Erdoğan that convinced Trump to announce that he would pull all U.S. forces out of Syria, presumably in order to give Erdoğan a chance to fulfill his mission of destroying our allies in Syria, the Kurds.

Given that John Bolton and literally all of Trump’s foreign policy advisors cautioned against a rapid pull-out and that removing U.S. troops from Syria is at a standstill, largely as a result of Erdoğan’s threats against the Kurds, Erdoğan is upset that his buddy, Trump, did not follow through on their conversation of December 19th.  And so, wanting to stay on the good side of his buddy Erdoğan, Trump sent Lindsey Graham to smooth the ruffled feathers of the Turkish dictator.  From the look on Erdoğan’s face, it wasn’t working.

Erdoğan welcomed Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria; however, the Turkish president condemned what he said were attempts by senior U.S. officials to delay the withdrawal and link it to conditions including guaranteeing security for our Kurdish allies.

The timing is interesting, too, for it was just on Wednesday that the Turkish Parliament voted to grant emergency powers that give Erdoğan broad authority to act when Turkey’s financial stability is deemed to be under threat.  Deemed by whom?  Why, Erdoğan, of course! This, folks, is the power Trump is so envious of.


Oh, and speaking of travel during the shutdown …

Trump has announced that he will meet with Kim Jong-un again before the end of February.  Presumably, since he has threatened to allow the shutdown to last for years, and since he shows no signs of being willing to make reasonable compromises, he will likely be traveling during said shutdown.  Perhaps …trump-travel-shutdown


A friend posted this ‘toon on Facebook yesterday evening and I just couldn’t resist …toon

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Filosofa’s State of the Union Address

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here at home, we face other problems.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why the Shutdown is Stuck & What We Can Do

Yesterday, fellow blogger tokyosand published a post that gave the clearest, most concise explanation of how the current government shutdown came to be, and what we need to do about it … how we can use our voices to, hopefully, make a difference. Please take a minute to read this fine post, for it may answer some questions you’ve had, or help clarify what you already know. Thank you tokyosand, for this fine post and for your generous permission to share it with my readers!

Political⚡Charge

partial+government+shutdown

Millions of Americans are already affected by the shutdown. Federal employees aren’t getting a paycheck (right at the end of the holiday season no less.) Others are being told their food stamps aren’t guaranteed if the shutdown continues. There is already real damage happening, and it will only get worse.

How did we get here? Why is it still a problem? Is there anything we can do?

How did we get here? 

At the end of the 115th Congress, we hit a deadline to renew funding for a third of the federal agencies. Ideally, we’d have an annual budget that took care of all of our agencies for one year, but since Congress hasn’t been able to agree on the budget, we’ve been patching together funding for these agencies with something called continuing resolutions.

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Since the President sends his requests for the budget to Congress, having the leaders…

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It’s All About Me … Right?

Melania-jacketSo … the government has been shutdown for almost two weeks?  So what? I haven’t noticed any difference … and really, my friends, it is all about MOI, right?  We each see to our own happiness, so I’m sorry, but I see no disruption of my life, so in the words of our gracious {choke, cough, spit, sputter} First Lady {choke, cough, spit, sputter} Melania, “I really don’t care, do U?”

They say there is a build up of trash and debris in the National Parks, but … I haven’t been hiking for a year-and-a-half now, so what do I care, right?  I am, after all, still getting my mail.  They say people cannot sign up for food stamps, as the staff of the Food and Nutrition Service branch of the USDA (Department of Agriculture) is only minimally staffed, but what do I care, for I don’t receive food stamps anyway. overflowing-trash.jpgMy Social Security check was deposited to my account yesterday, so why should I worry?  What’s that you say?  The power station that serves my neighborhood isn’t being monitored?  So what?  I have electricity – I know this because every light in my house is burning brightly!

800,000 people aren’t getting paid?  Oh piffle, but really … I got my social security check, so why should I worry, right?  And after all … surely they have enough money in the bank to carry them over the hump? And anyway, I heard that they will get backpay when the government is open again, so what’s the big deal, Lucille?  And anyway, I’ve heard they’re only democrats, so … who cares, right?

Sorry, I cannot even keep up that charade any longer, for it is making me want to smack myself upside the head!  I just thought I’d try it on for size, but I don’t know how people like that live with their consciences at the end of the day, when all is quiet.

Note, my friends, that the above is not just a figment of my imagination but is the attitude of a large portion of the people in this country.  It is also not exclusively a republican attitude, but I have heard very similar statements from democrats.  It is not only an attitude shared by the un-and-under-educated or the ignorant, for just recently I heard a similar statement from somebody who I know to be well-educated and intelligent.  Indeed, this attitude crosses all divisions:  party, race, religion, etc. In some cases, it is a true disdain for others, or a stubborn ‘faith’ that whatever happens today does not matter and will be righted by some magical force at some point.  But, I believe that in the majority of cases it is simply a case of overload leading to apathy.

So much has happened in the last two years in this nation, almost all of it with negative impact, that what once would have been horrifying has now become the norm.  People tire of it, they learn to tune it out, for it wears on the psyche, steals their good humour, their Zen, if you will.  So, we hunker down and concern ourselves only with our immediate family, our present situation, and try to ignore the rest.  It is understandable, but dangerous, for we need people to not only be aware and informed, but we need them to care. We need them to care deeply enough to write those letters to their congressmen and women, to stand up and say, “Hey, this isn’t right!”

One of my biggest concerns is that over the next two years people will become so inured that when the 2020 election rolls around, they won’t even bother to vote, and that could very well lead us to a place I don’t even wish to contemplate.  Yesterday I read a piece in The Guardian by Robert Reich, a former U.S. Secretary of Labor, professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley, and author of numerous books.  His thoughts tie in with my own, and I share his words here.

Robert ReichAfter his first bizarre year, his apologists told us Donald Trump was growing into the job and that in his second year he’d be more restrained and respectful of democratic institutions. Wrong. He’s been worse.

Exhibit one: the “Wall.” After torpedoing Mitch McConnell’s temporary spending deal to avert a shutdown, he’s holding hostage over 800,000 government employees (“mostly Democrats,” he calls them, disparagingly) while subjecting the rest of America to untoward dangers.

On-site inspections at power plants have been halted. Hazardous waste cleanup efforts at Superfund sites are on hold. Reviews of toxic substances and pesticides have been stopped. Justice Department cases are in limbo.

Meanwhile, now working without pay are thousands of air traffic controllers and aviation and railroad safety inspectors, nearly 54,000 Customs and Border Protection agents, 42,000 Coast Guard employees, 53,000 TSA agents, 17,000 correctional officers, 14,000 FBI agents, 4,000 Drug Enforcement Administration agents, and some 5,000 firefighters with the U.S. Forest Service.

Having run the Department of Labor during the 1995 and 1996 shutdowns, I’m confident most of these public servants will continue to report for duty because they care about the missions they’re upholding. But going without pay will strain their family budgets to the point that some will not be able to.

Shame on Trump for jeopardizing America this way in order to fund his wall—which is nothing but a trumped-up solution to a trumped-up problem designed only to fuel his base.

In his second year he’s also done even more damage to the nation’s judicial-criminal system than he did before. At least twice in the past month he’s reportedly raged against his acting attorney general for allowing federal prosecutors to reference him in the crimes his former bagman Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to committing.

This is potentially the most direct obstruction of justice yet. He’s now pressuring an official whom he hand-picked and whose entire future depends on him, to take actions that would impair the independence of federal prosecutors.

Last month he blasted Judge Jon Tigar as an “Obama judge” after Tigar blocked the Administration’s limits on asylum eligibility to ports of entry, a decision summarily upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and sustained by the Supreme Court.

Chief Justice Roberts issued a rare rebuke. “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges,” he wrote, adding that an “independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”

Which prompted his rejoinder: “Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have ‘Obama judges,’” followed by his baseless and incendiary claim that “they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country,” and their “rulings are making our country unsafe! Very dangerous and unwise!”

In his second year Trump displayed even less commitment to keeping the military nonpartisan than he did initially. During last month’s teleconference with U.S. troops and coast guard members he continued his rampage against the judiciary, calling the ninth circuit “a big thorn in our side” and “a disgrace.”

Then he turned last week’s surprise visit to American troops in Iraq and Germany into a political rally—praising troops wearing red “Make America Great Again” caps, signing a “Trump 2020” patch, and accusing Representative Nancy Pelosi and other leading Democrats of being weak on border security.

Some Americans are becoming so accustomed to these antics that they no longer see them for what they are—escalating attacks on America’s core democratic institutions.

Where would we be if a president could simply shut down the government when he doesn’t get his way? If he could stop federal prosecutions he doesn’t like and order those he wants? If he could whip up public anger against court decisions he disapproves of? If he could mobilize the military to support him, against Congress and the judiciary?

We would no longer live in a democracy. Like his increasing attacks on critics in the press, these are all aspects of his growing authoritarianism. We normalize them at our peril.

Our institutions remain strong, but I’m not sure they can endure two more years of this. He must be removed from office through impeachment, or his own decision to resign in the face of impeachment, as did Richard Nixon.

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Blue Wave Fading to Aqua?

As a non-republican … an independent voter who, at this point is leaning heavily toward the democratic platform … I have been buoyed by the confidence of many in the “blue wave” that many see as sweeping the mid-terms.  At first, I was skeptical, thinking we were perhaps becoming cocky, over-confident, and that there were yet many hurdles to be either knocked down or jumped over.  But, I eventually became a bit more optimistic and felt certain the democrats will take over at least one of the chambers of Congress in November.  Turns out, my skepticism was justified.  According to a piece in The Washington Post yesterday …

“With the Republicans’ House majority at risk, 47 percent of registered voters say they prefer the Democratic candidate in their district, while 43 percent favor the Republican. That four-point margin compares with a 12-point advantage Democrats held in January.”  — 16 April 2018

Where did the other 8% go???  I wrack my brain, such as it is, trying to think why this should be the case.   The republican candidates in a number of races are notably bad candidates with sometimes outrageous views and histories.  Surely there hasn’t been any bright shining light from our current Congress, nor from the executive branch that would have driven a push to the right.  So … WHY???

According to the analysis in the Post article, one reason is that Trump’s approval rating is hovering at right around 40%, as compared to 36% in January.  Let us make note here that 40% is not a great approval rating by any standards, but it would seem that Trump set himself such a low bar to begin with that 40% now inspires the masses … somehow.

One issue that is almost certain to play largely into the equation in November is that of gun regulation.  In the wake of the February 14 Parkland Florida mass school shooting, young people have taken the proverbial bull by the horns and made their voices heard around the nation.  They want something done … now … before more of their friends die such a tragic death.  And they are a force, for certain.  But … before we become too cocky over that one, remember that there is also a push-back factor among those who see their right to own guns … any and all guns … as sacred.  From the Post article …

“… three-quarters of voters who prioritize enacting new gun laws support Democrats for Congress, while 8 in 10 of those who give protecting gun rights greater significance support Republicans.”

So yes, more people, especially those who will be eligible to vote for the first time in their lives, will turn out to vote and will likely vote for a candidate who supports stricter gun laws.  But at the same time, more people who might have let a mid-term election pass them by, will turn out to ‘protect’ their 2nd Amendment ‘right’.

It is the way of political campaigns to find a chink in the armour of the ‘enemy’ and blow it into a full-size chasm.  The democratic party is not without its Achilles heels, one of which is Minority House Leader, Nancy Pelosi.

“Pelosi has a negative image, with 32 percent of Americans holding a favorable view of her, and 44 percent unfavorable. Among Republicans, she is well-known and widely disliked, with 74 percent holding unfavorable views of her, 63 percent strongly.”

CNN Politics has referred to Pelosi as ‘the Republicans’ secret weapon in 2018’.

As I noted in my three-part project last week, one of the biggest hurdles we face in November is getting people to the polls.  I firmly believe that if we could get 85% of eligible voters to actually vote, the Democrats would sweep the mid-terms, but that is unlikely.  Still, it behooves us all to work toward getting more people to vote, getting more people interested, reminding them what is at stake.  We also face hurdles of gerrymandering, and while I applaud the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for their firm stance on re-districting, I don’t see other states following suit as I had hoped they would.

The Republicans are poised to play a dirty game of pool, and they are likely to continue to have the help of their friends, the Russians.  Although it has been proven that the Russians did, in fact, interfere in several ways in the fairness of our democratic processes in 2016, the Trump regime has declined to take aggressive steps to avoid such interference this year.  The Democratic Party must proactively counter the falsehoods and mud-slinging that is sure to start in earnest any day now, but it must do so without lowering itself to those standards.  We must show the public the face of integrity, the face of values, ethics, compassion and intellect.  Rather than engage in a mud-fest, we must prove why our candidate is the better one for the job.

So, why are the Democrats losing ground in the polls?  Why is the ‘blue wave’ fading to aqua?  I don’t have the answer, but we need to be finding it … SOON!  There are 203 days left until election day.

The November mid-terms are too important for us to sit back and assume that anti-Trump sentiments will carry the Democratic candidates into a majority position in the House and/or Senate. It is said by many that Trump, himself, will doom the Republican candidates in November, and it is a comforting, appealing idea, but … it would be a mistake to become overly-confident.  Remember 2016?  We were so sure that a ‘man’ with no experience, no knowledge, and a big, loud, obnoxious mouth could never be elected to the most revered office in the land.  Well, guess what, folks?