Nothing To Hide???

We’ve all done some dumb things in our time, for me probably as recently as yesterday or even an hour ago!  But if asked, I will tell you about it and either laugh along with you or hang my head in shame.  Either way, I won’t go to great lengths to keep it a secret.  I’ll even tell you that I failed Biology in high school.  It was not my first, nor would it be my last act of rebellion, but I almost never went to class, for I absolutely refused to cut open earthworms or frogs.  Instead, I hung out in the boys’ bathroom and smoked.  I will also confess to having smoked marijuana a few times in my earlier days … if I had liked it, I would likely still be smoking it, but I hated it!

I may have some things that I’m not exactly proud of in my past, and likely you do too, but I have to ask why the leader of a nation would go to great lengths to keep his high school transcript out of the public eye.  We already know he isn’t the brightest bulb in the pack, contrary to him calling himself a ‘genius’.

According to a report in yesterday’s Washington Post,  in 2011 a group of “prominent, wealthy alumni” had requested Trump’s academic records from New York Military Academy, and the school’s Board of Trustees intended to hand said records over to this group, who said they wanted to ensure the records remained secret.  In other words, his high school transcript would have been buried.  Superintendent Jeffrey Coverdale refused the request but did relocate the records to another area where they could not be released upon request.  Now … why???  This was 2011, the year he considered running against President Barack Obama in the 2012 election.

To this day, Mr. Coverdale refuses to release Trump’s transcripts or to identify the people who ordered him to pull them from his files, saying …

“I don’t want to get into anything with these guys. You have to understand, these were millionaires and multimillionaires on the board, and the school was going through some troubles. But to hear, ‘You will deliver them to us?’ That doesn’t happen. This was highly unusual.”

Seems to me that just about everything having to do with Trump is “highly unusual”.genius-2.jpgWe already know that there were disciplinary problems associated with Trump, such as the time he attempted to shove another cadet out a second-story window.  To add fuel to the fire, or more likely smoldering remains, there was Michael Cohen’s testimony last week that Trump ordered him “to threaten his high school, his colleges and the College Board to never release his grades or SAT scores”.

After the military academy, where we can only speculate that he did manage to graduate, he spent two years at Fordham University.  Michael Cohen, under Trump’s orders, wrote to the administration at Fordham, demanding that that the records be “permanently sealed” and said any release was “criminality,” which “will lead to jail time.”  In addition, Fordham officials confirmed Cohen’s letter, and said they had also received a phone call from Trump’s campaign.  Why???

After Fordham, he attended University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton business program.  While Trump claims he was “first in my class”, his name does not appear on the school’s dean’s list or on the list of students who received academic honors in his class of 1968, giving rise to the lie in his claim.  Why???

See, when somebody lies about something like this, it leaves the door wide open for speculation.  One could think, perhaps, that he had the lowest grades in the military academy and that his daddy bought his diploma.  Or, one could think, as I have previously speculated, that he rarely even attended classes at Wharton, and that daddy bought his degree, just as he bought his military deferments.  Or, one could even wonder if Trump ever actually attended the first class at Wharton and daddy made a special ‘deal’ for a degree to be signed, sealed, and delivered for an unspecified amount of money.  One’s imagination can just run wild when secrets are kept and lies are told.

There is definitely something fishy here.  But the real joke is Trump himself.  For a man who claims to be a ‘genius’, he is pretty damn stupid.  He has taken extraordinary and suspicious measures to keep his school records secret, but here’s what he said about President Obama …

“I heard he was a terrible student, terrible. How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard? I’m thinking about it, I’m certainly looking into it. Let him show his records. I have friends who have smart sons with great marks, great boards, great everything and they can’t get into Harvard. We don’t know a thing about this guy. There are a lot of questions that are unanswered about our president.”

For the record, Barack Obama graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and was the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. That’s magna cum laude, the second highest academic honour.  You and I know Trump did not fare nearly as well, or we would be hearing about it daily, if not hourly.  After all … look at this tweet from 2013 trump-tweet-geniusThe epitome of arrogance.  Now, there are two questions I leave you with today:

First, why is he going to such lengths to ensure that the people of this nation do not see his academic records?  We already know he is no genius, we already know his daddy used his money to buy privileges for his boy, so to find that he had lousy grades, disciplinary problems and poor attendance would be no surprise.  He plays only to his base, and the majority of them likely have some poor grades in their own record.  So … why?  Which leads to the next, and most important question …

What else is he hiding?  He has steadfastly refused to release his tax returns – what would we find there?  If he would hide something as minor as his academic records, then it is a certainty that he has deeper, darker secrets.  Has daddy bought him out of trouble other than the financial sort?  We already know he has a problem keeping wee willie winkie in his pants and has sexually abused women in the past.  Could it be he was accused or rape even before he became a public persona, perhaps while still in school, and daddy paid to have it covered up?  genius-1Speculation?  Sure, but when you hide things that are relatively innocuous, people are going to speculate as to what else you’re hiding.  Are there secrets being hidden with the help of his wealthy donors that would ensure his removal from office, or perhaps even ensure him a cell next to Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen?  Think about it.

The United States of Chaos

I don’t know about you folks, but personally I am beginning to feel very irrelevant, inconsequential when it comes to the current administration and the republicans in Congress.  You will notice, those of you who are employed, that during the 35-day shutdown, federal income taxes continued to be withheld from your paycheck.  Every pay, like clockwork, we pay our taxes, and most of us don’t grumble about it, for we understand that it is our taxes that are used to build roads, maintain the military, provide food and shelter for those less fortunate, and pay the salaries of those who serve in our government.  It is as it should be.  BUT …

I don’t think there is a single person reading this blog who appreciates Donald Trump spending $50,000 for a toy to keep him entertained on rainy afternoons, during his 60% “Executive Time”.  What, you ask, am I prattling on about?  This …

Trump plays a lot of golf, as we all know.  When he was on the campaign trail in 2016, he criticized President Obama for the amount of time he spent playing golf, and said this …

“I’m going to be working for you. I’m not going to have time to go play golf.” – Donald J. Trump, August 2016

And yet, absorb this:  President Obama played 306 rounds of golf during the entire 8 years he was in office, which averages to approximately 38 rounds of golf per year.  But Donald Trump, the ‘man’ who said he would be working so hard that he wouldn’t have time for golf, has averaged 70 rounds of golf per year for his first two years!  Where’s all that hard work, eh?  But back to his latest toy …

During the 35-day government shutdown when nearly a million federal workers were either furloughed sans pay, or were expected to work without being paid, Trump’s advisors were apparently able to convince him that it would look really bad if he were out playing golf instead of working to come to an agreement to re-open the government and pay our people.  And thus, he went … wait for it … 69 days without playing golf!  And thus, the above toy … a room-sized golf simulator game at the cost of what, for most of us, is an entire year’s salary or more.  It is said by an anonymous White House staffer that Trump paid for the toy with his own money, but frankly, until I see a canceled check drawn on his personal checking account, I am skeptical.

It was recently reported that Trump spends 60% of his time doing ‘executive time’ … time that he spends watching television, tweeting and talking on the phone, and that he doesn’t leave his residence to begin work until around 11:00 a.m.  Now, you can add another hour to his ‘executive time’, for that is the time it takes to play a round of golf on the new toy.  I wonder … will he get all hot & sweaty and have to take another 20 minutes for a shower after he plays?

trump-golfing


And in other news … again on the campaign trail, Trump promised this …

  • In his official campaign launch address, Trump promised to “reduce our $18 trillion in debt,” which will not happen if annual deficits hit $1 trillion in two years.
  • On the campaign trail, Trump said he would “freeze the budget,” which has certainly not happened.
  • Shortly before his inauguration, he told Fox News host Sean Hannity that he would “balance the budget very quickly… I think over a five-year period. And I don’t know, maybe I could even surprise you.”
  • Previous to that, in March 2016, he told Bob Woodward that he could get rid of the debt “fairly quickly.” When pressed, he said, “Well, I would say over a period of eight years.” Since Trump took office, his own budget director called that promise “hyperbole.”
  • Trump asserted during the second presidential debate that he would bring back energy companies, which would make so much money that they could pay off the national debt. This has not happened.

None of those things have happened but guess what DID happen.  On Tuesday, 12 February 2019, the national debt hit a record high of $22 trillion, nearly $3 trillion higher than when he took office just over two years ago.  Never before in our history has it topped $21 trillion.  For perspective, that is $22,000,000,000.  And climbing.  Why?  While there is no single reason, the biggest reason is the reduction in revenue as a result of the tax cuts for the wealthy that Congress passed, and Trump signed in December 2017.  As tax filers are finding out this month, those tax cuts were truly for the wealthy, and the average taxpayer got shafted.  And still, he presses on for his unnecessary, useless border wall.

Over the course of the last two years, we have gone from a democratic-republic to a plutocracy, a government by the wealthy.  We have ceased to matter to the current administration.  And while Trump’s supporters may crow about the low unemployment rate and the stable economy … a change is coming.  We cannot continue to exist on high deficit spending and an increasing national debt without paying the consequences which I believe are waiting just around the corner.  A rising national debt has been compared to driving your car with the emergency brake on.  Trump’s house of cards may well be about to come tumbling down around us, but he’s having fun playing with his new golf toy, so … no worries, right?

Meanwhile, the Trumptanic keeps chugging toward the iceberg …iceberg

Facts Are Facts … Or Are They?

Fact:  A thing that is known or proven to be true.

When is a fact not a fact?  When it is uttered by virtually anyone in the U.S. Federal Government.

It all started, you may remember, two years ago … January 20, 2017, when then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer claimed that the number of people attending Trump’s inauguration was much higher than those who had attended President Obama’s inauguration four years earlier.  It wasn’t true, there are numbers from DC Metro to show that the number of attendee’s at Trump’s inauguration were the lowest of the past four presidents.  Only about 61% as many attended Trump’s inauguration as attended Obama’s.  And if that weren’t proof enough, the pictures speak no lies …

inauguration crowds.jpg

Inauguration crowds … Trump’s (left) Obamas (right)

Two days later, Kellyanne was making the rounds and made an appearance on Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.  When Todd, armed with facts and pictures, asked Kellyanne why Spicer would “utter such a provable falsehood”, Kellyanne herself uttered the sentence that would re-define language as spoken by anyone in the Trump administration:

“Our press secretary, Sean Spicer, gave alternative facts to [these claims], but the point remains that…”

And we knew right then that we would never be able to trust a single word that came from anyone in the Trump camp.

Alternative facts, also known as ‘lies’, have come to be what we expect when Trump, Kellyanne, or Sarah open their mouths.  For example, just one week after the lies about the size of the inaugural crowd, Kellyanne told another whopper …

“I bet it’s brand-new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized, and were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green Massacre. Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.”

Just to set the record straight, there never was a “Bowling Green Massacre”.

The lies, or ‘alternative facts’ have continued almost daily for two years, and we’ve mostly learned to ignore them, perhaps roll our eyes and shake our head, but overall we look through them and dig for whatever kernel of truth we may be able to find.  But there comes a point when the lies are so blatantly stupid that our jaws drop.

Yesterday, Trump spoke to reporters, futilely attempting to garner support for his ego-wall on the southern border between the U.S. and Mexico, when this jewel slipped from between his lips …

“Everybody knows that walls work. You look at different places, they put up a wall, no problem. You look at San Antonio, you look at so many different places, they go from one of the most unsafe cities in the country to one of the safest cities, immediately, immediately.”

San Antonio?  Does he mean the San Antonio in Texas, the one that is some 150 miles north of the border?  The one where the Alamo is the major tourist attraction?  Ain’t no bloomin’ wall in San Antonio, folks.  We have a ‘man’ sitting in the Oval Office who flunked geography in high school!  Folks on Twitter had some fun with it, though …

“Is he talking about the Alamo, clearly, the only wall I know of in San Antonio? Has he forgotten how poorly that walll protected its occupants?”

“For the love of God…. can SOMEONE please get @realDonaldTrump a map? His shocking level of ignorance is absolutely frightening.”

“I believe the #BowlingGreenMassacre lead to the creation of the great #SanAntonio wall. ….i could be wrong. Im really just looking for a #SmockingGun. #hamberders”

“Geography is hard.”

And this from the mySanAntonio.com website …

“A quick search (consisting of looking out the window and then checking Texas Department of Transportation traffic cameras) found no walls barring anyone from San Antonio. In fact, the city is often known as one of the most welcoming and friendly cities in Texas.”

Proving once again that Donald Trump is a bad joke … a horrible joke … and that facts in our government have become completely meaningless.  And on that note, I must don long underwear, coat, hat and gloves and go shovel about a foot of snow from daughter Chris’ parking space so that she can park when she gets home from Kansas City late tonight.  Kansas City, by the way, has no walls either … just in case you were wondering.

By the way … Today is National Cheese Lover’s Day, so enjoy a few bites …cheese.jpg

An Important Message …

I came across this video created by Greenpeace a few days ago.  Greenpeace, founded in 1971, is a non-governmental environmental organization focusing on worldwide issues such as climate change, deforestation, overfishing, commercial whaling, genetic engineering, and anti-nuclear issues.  Their mission statement:

Greenpeace is a global, independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

The video contains probably some of the worst singing you will hear this week, but the message is important, the message is one that needs to be remembered and shared.  Our lives, the lives of our children and their children are at stake here, and every person on this planet has the ability to make a difference.

America In The Eyes Of The World – A Guest Post by Gary Metcalfe

Today I am happy to present the second guest post in response to my plea for friends outside the U.S. to give us their insight about how they view the U.S. today.  This one is by Gary Metcalfe, who blogs as bereavedandbeingasingleparent, or as I call him, Bereaved Dad.  Thank you, Gary, for taking the time and effort to write this illuminating piece!


IS YORKSHIRE CLOSER TO WASHINGTON OR PARIS

Geography doesn’t really come easily to a simple Yorkshire chap like myself. I’m lucky to find my way round the house never mind circumnavigate the globe.  But distance wise I am pretty sure we are closer to France than America. It has always puzzled me if I should call America – America or is it the USA? Let’s go for America. So, although we are physically closer to France, in terms of relationships are we closer to Washington or Paris?

This is such a difficult question given the fact that my own country has clearly gone barking mad. So badly divided over Brexit. Increasingly violent and seeing the worrying rise of extremism. Less tolerant. Without any effective leadership. Obsessed with the cult of personality over substance. A country with ever widening inequalities. Happy to criticise others yet reluctant to cooperate or make any meaningful international contribution.  Occasionally sending a few war planes into the Middle East does not really count as a constructive policy.

To be fair if Washington and Paris had any sense they would distance themselves from the UK. I suspect the leaders in Europe secretly can’t wait to get rid of us. When I worked for the NHS I went to a conference and the Secretary of State for Health started slagging off our European partners. He held up a European Competition Framework and complained that it was 300 pages long and was a clear sign of European bureaucracy gone mad. Unfortunately, he failed to mention that the vast majority of the bureaucracy in that document had been inserted at the request of the U.K. to protect our own interests. That document will be much slimmer when we have left.

Although we talk as if we are European we have historically seen our closest ally as America. America is often portrayed as vibrant, modern, yes a bit brash but also so very inclusive. Yes, we have seen things which make us shake our heads. The obsession with guns … what is all that about. Wouldn’t an obsession with something like Tea or Old Car Restoration be an awful lot safer for your kids. But still we could trust America. Then Obama came along and suddenly our closest ally became a real beacon of hope.

In 2011 the American President said a few simple words that resonated (he had a brilliant talent for that):

“We should do everything we can to ensure this country lives up to our children’s expectations”

 The words came at such a tragic time for the American People, but Obama was the leader we all wished we had. Intelligent, caring, passionate and someone who understood he had obligations to the upcoming generations. That’s a great look for country and certainly a friend we can work with.  Then the hope appeared to fade, stagnated by a divided country. Principles had to be compromised.  But still America was a trusted partner. Someone we could turn to when we fell out with Europe.

 Then we all got trumped.

 When Trump received his nomination it never really sunk in. We knew of him. A billionaire, a golfer, luxury hotel owner, someone who appeared in Home Alone 2 and the winner of the WWE Battle of the Billionaires with Vince McMahon – didn’t get his head shaved. That was it.

We didn’t focus on him too much as obviously Hillary would win, as obviously the UK would vote to stay in Europe. Then even after he won he wasn’t taken that seriously. He won’t last long, people started placing bets on how long he would be President. Most people seemed to think anywhere between 6 months to 1 week. But he stayed.

For the first period of his presidency it appeared from the U.K. that if you just ignored his frequent twitter rants then things would be ok. He hadn’t blown anything up. Apart from the noise nothing seemed to be happening. Yes, the revolving door approach to presidential appointments seemed vaguely amusing. Moving the White House engine room to a golf course (as clearly a golf course is where a President can do his best work) was not really a surprise. In fact, all we really heard was how much time he spent playing golf.  But slowly the news of the what trumping really meant started to filter across the pond.

  • Apparently dangerous links with Russia and certain Middle East tyrannies existed. But we couldn’t lecture on this as we have equally close links with Saudi Arabia.

  • The Paul Manafort saga (too confusing to really follow as we only heard about snippets of the story) but it clearly implied incompetence or something more sinister. Whatever the underlying cause it’s not a great example to the world of American Ethics.

  • The handling of the Puerto Rico natural disaster was just really insensitive, self-centred and despicable.

  • The apparent haste to fall out with your historic partners like Canada, France and Germany. But you have found a new buddy in North Korea.

  • He bizarrely started to openly condemn his own Intelligence Agencies and the FBI. Yet he didn’t seem as willing to condemn the Extreme Right operating in his own country.

  • The Complete disregard for international climate change commitments. It really felt like he was saying ‘stuff you’ to the world and future generations. Maybe he thinks it’s not my problem as I will be gone by the time the world burns. Contrast that with Obama’s approach. Monumentally stupid or colossally selfish.

  • Favouring the interest of the NRA over child safety. Seriously arming teachers….

  • Attacks on the Free Press and attempts to stifle debate. These are particularly worrying as some of our politicians are clearly starting to copy Trumps strategy. What happened to the Leader of the Free World role.

  • That Wall. That Magic Wall which will solve all of America’s problems. The Wall which is so precious that it’s worth freezing Government for. That must be some Wall. But the sight of a modern Leader seemingly taking personal delight at the shutdown. Probably thinks it makes him look like a big man. We are talking about people’s lives here being sacrificed for a few bricks.  Kids are dying on the border. Oh, I forgot they are just migrants. Are the golf courses still open?

To the vast majority in our country your President appears to be at best a misguided clown at worst a dangerously unbalanced self-obsessed bully. Either are not a good look for a leader and certainly not as a leader who we are trying to forge a partnership with. Many in our country feel that Trump has gone too far. That we should be distancing ourselves from him. But our PM is desperate, she sees an American trade deal (regardless of how bad it is) as a way of saving her job. So, unless we get a new government it’s going to happen.

Where does that leave us across the pond. Rapidly burning our bridges with Europe. Yet looking on at America with increasing consternation and alarm. At a time when we should be embracing closer links with Washington we see a dangerous superpower. Potentially a threat. Yes, a threat. And yet. And yet. As our country careens out of control into a world with few friends, our government views Trump as someone we might be able to quickly do business with. He clearly hates Europe as much as our Brexiteers. But at what cost. Is an unbalanced trade deal really worth further opening up our beloved National Health Service to Trump’s golfing buddies. Are we really that tainted as a country that we are prepared to sacrifice our moral principles for the price of a document which Trump could declare void at any stage.

So back to the big question. Are we closer to Washington or Paris? The answer is sadly neither.Text dividers

Good People Doing Good Things — Betty Kwan Chinn

You are going to fall in love with today’s ‘good person’ …gateway-to-life.pngHer name is Betty Chinn, and as you may have already guessed, she is originally from China.  I’ll let her tell you about the days of her childhood …

Betty-Chinn“I was born in a very good family. I’m one of 12 kids. And then in the 1960s, they had the Cultural Revolution. My mom was a US citizen and a Western educator. My mom believed in God, religion. Because my parents had religion and education, my family was a target for the government.

I was separated from my family and I lived on the street by myself. I had to wear a sign on my neck that said, ‘I’m a child of the devil.’ I had nothing to eat, hungry all the time. Every time when I asked for food, I was beaten up by people. Torture, separation from my family, abandoned, betrayal … this all happened at a very young age.

My sister took me out of the country … and then to Hong Kong. I did not know my birthday.

I had never been to school. I stayed home. Then I found my best friends on Sesame Street. They were the ones who taught me English.

Each day when I get up in the morning, I get moving, that’s my birthday. I am celebrating my birthday every single day when I can move, and I can breathe. I have my freedom. That’s the way I look at it.”

And now that you know how Ms. Chinn got her start in life, let’s take a look with what she is doing today.  Eventually Betty was sent to live with a sibling in California and settled in the town of Eureka in Humboldt County.  Married to now-retired Humboldt State University physics professor, Leung Chinn, the couple had two sons, and it was this that would spark Betty’s passion for helping others.

One day in 1984, while volunteering at her son’s elementary school, one of his classmates complained that she was always hungry.  Betty began putting an extra sandwich in her son’s lunch for the girl, only to discover a few days later that the girl and her family were homeless, living out of their car. So, Betty began sending extra food for the family, as well.  Although she didn’t realize it yet, she had just started down the path that would last for the rest of her life. She began observing people in the town and was shocked to see how many other people were in the same situation and decided to make it her mission to provide for the less fortunate in her community.

“I’d do anything I could do to make people not hungry. When I even hear somebody say, ‘I’m hungry,’ my stomach hurts. I feel the hunger inside me. I still remember the hunger.”

She used income from her part-time job to buy food, which she would load into her car and deliver to people living on the street, under bridges and highways, anywhere she could find them. At first, she didn’t tell anyone about what she was doing – not even her husband.

“He did ask me, from time to time, ‘Why are you cooking so much food? Why we buy so much food from the supermarket?'”

He eventually found out – ten years later – and is now her biggest supporter!

Though she never publicized what she was doing, Chinn’s efforts were noticed and appreciated. In 2008, she received the Minerva Award for remarkable women from California’s first lady, Maria Shriver, which included a $25,000 prize.  By now, I’m sure you can guess that Betty did not spend that money on new clothes and a lavish vacation, right?  Nope, she built showers!  Yep, you heard me right … showers.  The following March, she opened Eureka’s first (only) free public shower facility, with the mantra “Providing Dignity One Shower at a Time”.

In 2010, she was one of 13 recipients of the 2010 Presidential Citizens Medal from President Barack Obama, the nation’s second highest civilian award. She was honored for showing how one person can touch the lives of hundreds of people whom the rest of the world has forgotten.Chinn-Obama-2010It was at that point that she started dreaming of opening a “Betty’s House,” a type of central location where she could help clients keep warm and fed while connecting them with a variety of services housed under one roof.  Four years later, this dream culminated in the Betty Kwan Chinn Day Center which houses Betty’s commercial kitchen, helps clients connect with services, jobs and housing, while also offering after school care, wellness courses, and educational programming for homeless children.day-center.pngBut Betty didn’t stop there!  In 2016, she opened Betty’s House, a family shelter that provides transitional housing up to 8 families at a time, giving them the stability, services, and support needed to find a permanent place to live. The shelter’s downstairs, operated in partnership with St. Joseph Hospital, offers a space for up to 10 homeless people recently discharged from the hospital to convalesce under a nurse’s 24/7 care.betty-house-front.png

Betty-house-1

Betty-house-2Betty-house-3But we’re still not done …

Also in 2016, as the city of Eureka was working to clear its largest homeless encampment from a greenbelt near the bay, Betty partnered with the Humboldt Coalition for Property Rights to convert some old Connex shipping containers into a housing village, known now as Betty’s Blue Angel Village, that shelters up to 40 people at a time while offering intensive wrap around services aimed at transitioning them into permanent housing situations. It is one of few shelters on the West coast that allows animals.Village-1Village-2There is so much more I could write about Betty Chinn … this woman … this woman is so good, has done so much for her community, that my words feel inadequate to describe her.  Betty arises at 2:07 every morning, ready to go, seven days a week, rain or shine.  I recommend paying a brief visit to her website, The Betty Kwan Chinn Homeless Foundation, where you will find additional information, photo galleries and more.

In 2015, she received yet another award from President Obama …2015-Chinn-ObamaLast week, Ms. Chinn was named one of CNN’s Heroes … an honour well-deserved. In addition to American recognition, Betty has received commendations from China and is hailed as the “Hong Kong Angel.”  And around Humboldt County, she is known as the ‘Chinese Mother Teresa’.  Eureka’s police chief, Andrew Mills, described her as a philanthropic force of nature. “It’s a humbling experience just to sit in her presence.”

Heck, I found it humbling just to research and write about this woman … I am in awe.  If I had a third, I would give this woman three thumbs up, but as I have only two, I shall give her both.  Thank you, Betty Kwan Chinn, for making such a wonderful difference in the lives of so many!  👍👍

Sunday Afternoon Bits ‘n Pieces …

It’s Sunday afternoon, friends, and I know you have better things to do than listen to me go off on some long-winded tangent that will only serve to anger or depress you.  So, I am going off on a few short tangents that shouldn’t get your knickers into too much of a twist.  (Have you noticed that my UK friends are having an influence on my vocabulary?)  So here are just a few little Sunday snippets, and then you can go back to grilling out, tossing a ball around in the back yard, planting a tree, or hugging your ‘significant other’.

A well-deserved honour

Colin Kaepernick, the man whose humanitarian values far exceed those of a president who so cruelly mocked him, has been publicly acknowledged for putting his knee down for the cause of justice.  Amnesty International awarded Kaepernick its Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2018, in recognition of his sideline protests against racial inequality. The former San Francisco 49ers star was given the award at a gala ceremony in the Netherlands.  A few snippets from his acceptance speech:

“Racialized oppression and dehumanization is woven into the very fabric of our nation — the effects of which can be seen in the lawful lynching of black and brown people by the police, and the mass incarceration of black and brown lives in the prison industrial complex. How can you stand for the national anthem of a nation that preaches and propagates, ‘freedom and justice for all,’ that is so unjust to so many of the people living there? While taking a knee is a physical display that challenges the merits of who is excluded from the notion of freedom, liberty, and justice for all, the protest is also rooted in a convergence of my moralistic beliefs, and my love for the people.”

Kaepernick is most deserving of this award, for his single, courageous act started a movement whose voice is heard loud and clear by many who would prefer to remain deaf.   However, he does not deserve the treatment he is receiving at the hands of his former team, the San Francisco 49-ers, the NFL, and the ‘man’ who sits in the Oval Office.

Did he find his conscience?

I have largely regarded Attorney General Jeff Sessions as a man without a conscience.  He is a documented racist, and since taking his current position in the U.S. government, has proven himself to be a lap-puppy to Donald Trump, asking ‘how high?’ when Trump tells him to jump.  But last weekend, he did something that indicates he might be developing a late-stage conscience after all.

In a phone call with White House counsel Donald McGahn, Sessions indicated that he is seriously considering resigning his post if Trump fires Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.  True, he only said he “might consider”, but this is more than I would have expected of the Sessions of yore.

An update …

Last month I wrote a post about three men in Kansas who had plotted to blow up a mosque and a community of Muslim immigrants on the day after election day 2016, but were caught by an FBI informant.   The three, Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright and Patrick Eugene Stein, had their day in court last week and all three were convicted on Wednesday of one count of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and one count of conspiracy against civil rights.  Their sentencing will take place on June 27th, and all three could potentially face life in prison.

Prosecutor Risa Berkower said at the trial, “They wanted to send the message that Muslims are not welcome here – not in Garden City, not in Kansas, not in America.”  Funny, isn’t it, how a few men think they know what the entire nation of nearly 326 million people want?  Who elected  these three to speak for us all?

Another small kudo to Jeff Sessions here for his support of the ruling:

“The defendants in this case acted with clear premeditation in an attempt to kill people on the basis of their religion and national origin. That’s not just illegal—it’s immoral and unacceptable, and we’re not going to stand for it.”

I hope these three men are given the maximum sentence, for their brand of evil, of hatred, has no place in this world.

When all else fails, blame it on Obama!

The NRA, who in the eyes of most of us bears a large portion of the responsibility for every  single person who dies in a mass shooting where the shooter uses assault-style weapons, has decided who is to blame for the February 14th shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

NRATV host Grant Stinchfield claimed in a segment on his show Friday that President Obama owes an apology to the survivors of the February 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 people dead.  The ‘rationale’?  That President Obama put students in danger by implementing school discipline guidelines and refusing to arm teachers.

In the words of Peter, Paul & Mary … ‘When will they ever learn?  When will they ever learn?’

And I now return you to your regularly scheduled Sunday afternoon activities … hopefully you are doing something fun this afternoon!

How Does President Trump’s Economy Compare To That Of President Obama’s?

Today, Donald Trump wrote an OpEd for the Washington Examiner, extolling his many ‘accomplishments’. One of those was the economy, as he is taking credit for an economy that was doing quite well before he came on the scene. He rides the coattails of the accomplishments made during President Obama’s 8 years in office. Please read our friend Gronda’s post to see how Trump’s economy compares to that under President Obama … thanks Gronda!

Gronda Morin

When the American public listens to the republican President Donald J. Trump braggadocio  about how the economy is booming under his watch with soaring stock prices, low unemployment numbers and an uptick in GDP numbers, they would never guess that the president’s economy is not measuring up to President Barack Obama’s performance in almost every other economic metric.

In addition, because of the republicans’ partisan 2017 “trickle down economics” tax cuts, and the US Congress republicans apparent intransigence in governing with compromise, that there are bound to be some economic hiccups in the president’s portrayal of the “best economic numbers” ever in the near future.

Image result for photos of president obama and president trumpAs per a 9/27/17 Politico report by Tyler Fisher, “The Congressional Research Service published a paper in 2012 that found no correlation between top tax rates and economic growth. Congressional Republicans protested the findings, and the service briefly withdrew the paper.”

These same republicans…

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The NRA Wants You(r money)

In early 2016, President Obama proposed certain minimal gun regulations aimed at reducing gun violence.  It was mainly aimed at making sure gun sales via the internet and gun shows followed the same regulations for background checks, etc., as those who had a physical nexus.  But, of course, the nation went ballistic, claiming that Obama was trying to ‘take their guns away’.  And what do you think happened?  Gun sales, which had been on the rise for the past decade, soared, of course.

Jeb Bush said Obama’s plan would take away the rights of someone “selling a gun out of their collection, a one-off gun”. Marco Rubio says Obama’s plan is to “take away our guns.” And in the light of all this mis-understood rhetoric, gun sales soared.

gun sales 2005-2016.jpgAnd then came Donald Trump.  As I wrote in a July column under Trump, gun sales declined by 17% during Trump’s first two months in office.  This, despite the fact that women and minorities were feeling less safe under Trump and therefore buying more guns!

American Outdoor Brands, alias Smith & Wesson, saw a decrease in revenue of $100 million, a 40% drop. This drop in gun sales has led to the gun lobbyists, specifically the National Rifle Association (NRA) resorting to scare tactics to try to stimulate the sales of guns.  One such method has been through a series of despicable video ads.

The text of the above ad:

“They use their media to assassinate real news.  They use their schools to teach children that their president is another Hitler. They use their movie stars and singers and comedy shows and award shows to repeat their narrative over and over again, and then they use their ex-president to endorse the resistance, all to make them march, make them protest, make them scream racism and sexism and xenophobia and homophobia to smash windows, burn cars, shut down interstates and airports, bully and terrorize the law-abiding until the only option left is for the police to do their jobs and stop the madness and when that happens, they’ll use it as an excuse for their outrage.  The only way we stop this, the only way we save our country and our freedom is to fight this violence of lies with the clenched fists of truth. I’m the National Rifle Association of America and I’m freedom’s safest place.”

gunsThe ad was played at the National Rifle Association’s Leadership Forum in April. NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre’s speech to thousands of members was characterized by a similar type of ‘us-versus-them’ rhetoric. “It’s up to us to speak up against the three most dangerous voices in America: academic elites, political elites, and media elites. These are America’s greatest domestic threats.”

LaPierre.jpgIn addition to the ads, the NRA is pushing for dangerous legislation, such as revoking silencer safety laws and making it easy for anyone to buy a silencer without a background check. Oh yes, we don’t want the neighbors to hear and call the cops when you shoot me in my home for writing against the NRA and advocating for gun safety!

The NRA also conjured up mythical threats from the so-called “alt-left” in the wake of a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, suggesting that conservatives take up arms to fight back. “For those of you progressives out there on the far left who wonder why guys like me, conservatives like me, have an AR-15, the answer is, I have an AR-15 to protect myself and my family from you. From you.” – Television host Bill Whittle, 06 September 2017  Hello??? It was the uber-conservative, white supremacists who held the rally, stirred the violence, and were responsible for the death of a young woman, Heather Heyer!

So, the question comes to mind, after seeing the hateful videos, rhetoric and ads of the NRA … who, exactly IS the NRA?  Do they represent gun owners?  The answer is complex, but the short answer is that no, they represent nobody but the gun manufacturers.  Big businesses who manufacture weapons of mass destruction.  They pay big bucks to members of Congress to put forth their agenda, and they play on the fears of gun owners and advocates, always presenting a perceived threat to 2nd Amendment rights by those of us who see guns as an unnecessary evil.

I have given you the statistics a number of times in the past, so I shall not bore you with them again.  But the reality is that the U.S.’ gun regulations are virtually non-existent as compared to other western nations, and our gun-related crime rate is our eternal shame.  Since Trump took office last January, there have been moves to remove the restriction on gun ownership by mentally challenged individuals, revocation of the ban on assault-type weapons, and now silencers no longer will require a background check.

We know what the NRA does with its money, it makes donations to members of Congress who are in a position to knock down gun regulations affecting gun sales, and even strike down or reverse previous regulations.  Last year, the country’s most powerful lobby gave Donald Trump more than $30 million in campaign contributions.  He is now in their pocket.  Federal campaign finance records show that much of the NRA funds are used to keep pro-gun lawmakers in office

But where do they get their money?

People like you, perhaps.  Some donations, of course, come from the gun manufacturers and other companies who stand to gain from the NRA platform. But much of their funding comes from private individuals. Since 2005, the NRA Political Victory Fund has received nearly $85 million in contributions from individual donors. After the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, donations to this political action committee surged as gun owners worried that their rights to buy and own guns were at risk.

And now gun sales are down, and gun manufacturers are looking to the NRA to stimulate a renewed interest in purchasing guns.  And so we will continue to see obnoxious, untruthful ads such as the one above, as the NRA strives to convince the nation that they are not safe without their damn guns.  With the current level of divisiveness, with white supremacists and neo-Nazis coming out from the rocks every day, the last thing we need in this country is to increase gun sales.  If the NRA truly represented We The People, they would not exist, for We The People stand to gain nothing by increased gun sales. It’s all about money … not rights … money and power.

Think about that … remember that, in November 2018 when you go to the polls to vote for your senators and representatives.  Do your homework and find out just how much in donations your representatives have accepted from the NRA.

President Obama’s Response To The Cancelling of DACA

The words of a real president in response to the actions of a faux president. High fives to President Obama. And many thanks to my friend Gronda for sharing these words of wisdom and compassion.

Gronda Morin

Image result for PHOTOS OF PRESIDENT OBAMA SIGNING daca

On September 5, 2017, the LA Times published our former democratic President Barack Obama’s Response to the republican President Donald Trump’s September 5, 2017 decision to cancel DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program), with the caveat of a 6 month’s delay.

Young people protected from deportation and allowed to work legally under the DACA program will begin losing their protection around March 2018 unless the US Congress finally acts to shield them. “

President Obama (White House photo by Pete Souza)Statement from President Obama 

Immigration can be a controversial topic.  We all want safe, secure borders and a dynamic economy, and people of goodwill can have legitimate disagreements about how to fix our immigration system so that everybody plays by the rules.

But that’s not what the action that the White House took today is about.  This is about young people who grew up in America – kids who…

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