Today in the ‘Alternative Universe’ …

A few headlines caught my eye today …

Trump’s FEMA chief under investigation over use of official cars

I have to ask the question:  Is there anybody in this administration who is not under investigation???  A quick 10-minute search turns up …

  • David Shulkin – Former United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs – spent more than $122,000 of department money on a 10-day trip to the UK and Denmark in July 2017—which involved only three and a half days of meetings. A government investigation into the trip found he had committed several “serious derelictions,” including bringing his wife on the trip at the taxpayer’s expense and improperly accepting free Wimbledon tickets.
  • Steve Mnuchin – Secretary of the Treasury – requested a government plane to take his wife on a honeymoon to Europe, and has come under fire for spending nearly $1 million on just seven trips.
  • Scott Pruitt – Former EPA Administrator – spent $168,000 on charter, military, and first class flights in his first year in office, despite EPA guidelines saying he should travel coach. The trips often included weekend layovers in his home state of Oklahoma. Pruitt splashed around $43,000 on a sound-proof phone booth in his office (to name only a few!).
  • Ryan Zinke – Secretary of the Interior – failing to keep proper records of his travel, been criticized for booking charter flights, and taken helicopters costing thousands of dollars when he could have taken a car. He spent $139,000 on new office doors (following a slew of embarrassing headlines, he says he has cut their cost by nearly half).
  • Ben Carson – Secretary of HUD – ordered a $31,000 dining set. The inspector general of Carson’s agency is also investigating whether Carson broke ethics rules by involving his son, the owner of a private equity firm, in government activities.
  • Tom Price – Former Secretary of Health & Human Services (HHS) – spent more than $1 million of taxpayer funds on his own travel in private jets.
  • Wilbur Ross – Secretary of Commerce – pledged to recuse himself from any matters involving his shipping interests, but he negotiates trade deals that could benefit some of his shipping interests.
  • Betsy DeVos – Secretary of Education – despite a potential conflict of interest, increased by as much as $10.5 million her investment in Neurocore, a company that offers brain performance training to children with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, autism and depression.

And then there are the ones tagged by Robert Mueller in his investigation:

  • Paul Manafort
  • Michael Cohen
  • Michael Flynn
  • Rick Gates
  • George Papadopoulos
  • Jared Kushner
  • Stephen Miller
  • Don Trump, Jr.

And the list goes on … and on … where it ends, nobody knows!

Oh … and I left out another who, in addition to being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller …

  • Donald J. Trump – continues to earn money from his businesses. The Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., has become a fundraising mecca for special interest groups, foreign governments, Republicans and GOP-aligned groups. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort doubled its initiation fee after Trump’s election. Trump has also visited his properties more than 100 times since he was elected, according to news organizations that have tracked his travels.

All of this could explain why Walter Shaub, who resigned from his position as Director of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) said on his way out, “I think we are pretty close to a laughingstock at this point.”

Do I recall somebody promising to “Drain the Swamp”???swamp-3


Trump pushes conspiracy theory about Puerto Rico death toll

“3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000. … This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!”

That’s right, folks … the death toll, reported by George Washington University, was cooked up by some unnamed, evil democrats who only want to make Trump look bad.  Does anybody else feel like just slapping this man across the face … over and over again?

The hue & cry was almost immediate, with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz saying, “This is what denial following neglect looks like: Mr Pres in the real world people died on your watch. YOUR LACK OF RESPECT IS APPALLING!”.  Representative Bennie G. Thompson, the ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee, called on Trump to resign. “The fact that the President will not take responsibility for his Administration’s failures and will not even recognize that thousands have perished shows us, once again, that he is not fit to serve as our President.”

Even Paul Ryan, while not directly mentioning Trump’s tweet, said “This was a function of a devastating storm hitting an isolated island, and that is really no one’s fault. The casualties mounted for a long time, and I have no reason to dispute those numbers.”

The Washington Post’s Fact Checker was quick to issue Trump’s claim a ‘Four Pinocchio’ rating.

4 pinocchios


Populist Donald Trump drains swamp with fundraiser where he profits off $70,000 pictures with him

According to The Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey, the cheapest entry price is $35,000 per couple, which entitles an attendee to dinner. A “photo opportunity” with Trump costs $70,000, while participating in a roundtable with the president requires $100,000.

Now I ask you … who in their right mind would pay $70,000 to have their picture taken with … a slimeball???  And by the way … the purpose of the fundraiser is his 2020 campaign.  Shoot me now.swamp-2


The fun just never stops, does it?  Have a great evening, folks!

Not A Success … A Damn Disaster!

On Tuesday, Donald Trump made the following statement:

“The job that FEMA and law enforcement and everybody did, working along with the Governor in Puerto Rico, I think was tremendous. I think that Puerto Rico was an incredible, unsung success. If you ask the governor, he’ll tell you what a great job.”

Not content with that, on Wednesday morning at 5:51 a.m., he tweeted …

“We got A Pluses for our recent hurricane work in Texas and Florida (and did an unappreciated great job in Puerto Rico, even though an inaccessible island with very poor electricity and a totally incompetent Mayor of San Juan). We are ready for the big one that is coming!”

Undoubtedly, some fell for his braggadocio, but for most of us, it was a jaw-dropping moment, knowing as we do that our response in Puerto Rico was anything but ‘great’.  A year later, Puerto Rico still struggles.  Remember Trump’s sole contribution?trump paper towelsPuerto Ricans are still struggling with basic necessities. Fully 83% reported either major damage to their homes, losing power for more than three months, employment setbacks or worsening health problems, among other effects of the storm. The power is spotty, and many are leery of drinking the water. Roads are damaged, dangerous, and difficult to navigate — like “the surface of the moon,” according to one resident — and in some places, the roadways remain impassible.

Eighty percent of Puerto Ricans rate Trump’s response to Maria negatively, an assessment that contradicts the president’s claim two weeks ago that “most of the people in Puerto Rico appreciate what we’ve done.”

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló, who Trump had suggested the press ask about the great job we had done, responded:governor response

The most recent death toll from Hurricane Maria is 2,975.  Nearly three thousand people died, and Trump calls it an “unsung success”?  No, this was no success, it was a disaster … a damn disaster!

Earlier this month, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report assessing how recovery efforts had fared.  Among their findings …

  • Problems with debris removal and a shortage of proper equipment for the task. “Officials said there were resource constraints,” the report reads, “so they had to prioritize debris removal from state-managed roads, before clearing local roads.”
  • Insufficient bilingual employees to communicate with residents and translate documents.
  • Not enough generators were available to meet demand, and not enough recovery material was positioned on the island in advance of the storm. The day before Maria made landfall, four generators had been delivered to the island. Thirty-five were delivered to Texas ahead of Harvey.
  • About 1.6 million meals and 700,000 liters of water were delivered and eight shelters opened to hold 306 people. By contrast, before Irma made landfall in Florida, 4.8 million meals and 9.9 million liters of water were delivered and 249 shelters were opened to hold nearly 50,000 people. That Puerto Rico is harder to access than Florida is both accurate and noted in the report.
  • FEMA faced a staff shortage of 37 percent as of Sept. 1, 2017. Of “reservists” called up to aid the recovery efforts in all the disasters, 46 percent of those deployed last year were not rated as “qualified” for their job functions. At least 15 percent refused a deployment for medical or other reasons.
  • Many reservists on Puerto Rico “were not physically fit to handle conditions on the island,” according to one official, who suggested that “a fitness test should have been required before they were eligible to deploy.”
  • Volunteers similarly indicated that their skill sets weren’t matched to assigned tasks and that training was insufficient.

And that death toll.  Nearly 3,000 people – human beings, U.S. citizens.  😢  No, Donald Trump, we were not in the least bit successful, despite your throwing paper towels at people who had just lost everything.

pr-2pr-3pr-4pr-5

Only in America …

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


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

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

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

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

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

Only in America


A really bad move that will probably win him votes …

DeSantis-Gullim

Ron DeSantis/Andrew Gillum

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

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

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

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

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

Only in America


Are you sure you were born?

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

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

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

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

Only in America


Alternative Reality?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Only in America


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

Good People Doing Good Things – The People of Puerto Rico!

Yesterday marked the six-month anniversary of the day Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, leaving behind devastation and death. Hurricane Maria made landfall at 6:15am on September 20 in Yabucoa, in southeastern Puerto Rico, as a Category 4 storm with winds of 155mph. The island suffered significant structural damage and widespread loss of power and communications. Power and communications are only beginning to be restored.

Though the residents of Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens, our government has provided only minimal assistance and the leader of the U.S. has bent over backward to be critical of the people and local governments of Puerto Rico.  But that is not my story today.  My story today is how the good people of Puerto Rico are pulling together and rebuilding their island and their lives, one day at a time.  Yesterday, I accidentally happened upon an OpEd by Mariangelie Ortiz Ortiz in the New York Times   I begin this post with Mariangelie’s story …

COMERIO, Puerto Rico — I live with my parents and older brother in this rural mountain town in the center of this island. Hurricane Maria made landfall here six months ago this week. The strong winds began to lash our area by 2 a.m. on Sept. 20. Our power and water had already been shut off for a day by then.

My family, along with about 200 other people, sought refuge at a high school in our town. Whenever the doors were opened to let others in, the wind would whip through the hallways. I was scared. A few of us gathered in a circle, joined hands and prayed, hoping it would bring us some sense of peace. Then chaos broke out.

The Plata River, which cuts through Comerio, had swelled by more than 60 feet and was creeping ever closer to the school’s front door. Fearing the worst, those of us sheltered on the first floor quickly scrambled up the stairs to the second floor, carrying the bedridden elderly with us.

In the end we were spared. Once the eye of the storm settled over us, things calmed down. Soon from the second floor we saw whole families walking toward the school. In all, about 100 more people arrived; wet, muddy, hugging one another and crying. A mother whose house had flooded told us how she and her kids narrowly avoided drowning. She had lifted her three children — all under the age of 5 — on to her shoulders and waded through the water until she reached higher ground. A woman fainted when she recounted how floodwaters had swept her house away.

On the second night we were finally able to go home. It was pitch black and raining. Our terrace roof was gone; a tree that had fallen on the back of the house caused some structural damage, and water had come in through the windows. But our home, built of concrete, still stood.

We were among the lucky ones.

Three days after Maria hit, the streets were still largely impassable. We set out on foot to the very river that was our source of terror during the storm, checking in on neighbors along the way. There was no electricity and no running water, so the river was now our sole source of water. We bathed in it, washed our clothes and dishes on its banks and carried back home as much of it as we could manage to boil for drinking and cooking.

It would be two weeks before the town supermarket reopened, and two more months before we could use our credit cards to shop there. We ran out of cash. The local bank remained closed until the end of November. Gas was scarce. Before the hurricane, I was working toward a master’s degree in management and leadership at the University of Turabo. My studies were put on hold. When the university reopened in October, I had to go to neighboring towns that had power to contact my professors and my classmates, or to work on my assignments. Everything became complicated.

For about two weeks we didn’t know if my older sister, Maran — who lives in Fajardo, a city in the eastern region of the island — had survived. She finally heard that the street to Comerio was clear and made her way to us. My dad screamed when he saw her. We all gathered around her, crying and hugging.

Since then, little has improved much. There’s so much left to do. We’re still fighting to get our lights back on. The local government hasn’t come to meet with our neighborhood or give us updates. We’re getting by with a generator my uncle on the mainland sent us. Other family members and friends have brought us much-needed water filters, batteries, food and tarps.

In total, some 1,500 homes in Comerio were destroyed and 2,400 others sustained significant damage. I began to volunteer with the recovery effort. We’re in this together and we’re all pitching in to help one another rebuild.

With $10,000 raised through crowdfunding and $5,000 from the Defend Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief Fund, we rebuilt one house and repaired two others with damaged roofs. With the help of Coco de Oro and La Maraña, the organizations I volunteer with, we have raised money to begin work on the next eight houses. But there are 25 more houses in my neighborhood alone needing work and thousands more in all of Puerto Rico.

We’re working collectively to lift ourselves out of this nightmare, but we can’t do it on our own. I struggle to understand why the United States government continues to withhold the aid we were promised. We’re tired of being treated like second-class citizens. The Trump administration must honor its commitment to Puerto Rico. Our hurricane-ravaged island may no longer be in the headlines, but we’re still suffering, and we need help.

Mariangelie’s is not the only such story, and she is far from the only one volunteering, helping get the island and its people back to normal.

  • Father and son, Billy Joe Perez and Juan Perez Ramos painted a beautiful mural at the entrance of their neighborhood depicting the community the way it was before Maria, and inscribed it “Salimos de Aquí” (We Came from Here). The mural has not only brought beauty, but also inspired others …

  • When Aguadilla artisan and painter Jenny Cruz heard of the efforts to bring art to the neighborhood, she pledged to help provide paint for the murals. Cruz, 46, was also busy trying to find a home for a friend who she learned was sleeping under the bleachers of a basketball court in the nearby town of Rincon.
  • Orlando “San” Gonzalez, a boxing coach with a reputation for taking in the toughest kids in the Cerro Calero neighborhood, decided to form a fighters brigade to help the elderly clean and rebuild their homes. Gonzalez, 48, and his friend, businessman Gabo Sola, 31, and other professionals and volunteers help people in need, especially those who are most frail, through a nonprofit group called “We Are One.” Gonzalez’ 22-year-old son, boxer Orlando “Capu” Gonzalez, recently returned from a fight in Kissimmee, Fla., with supplies of water and food, which were distributed in the community with help from other boxers.
  • When the boxers heard that Aguadilla resident Irene Mendez had lost her husband, Leonardo Enchautegui Flores, in an accident days after the hurricane, they vowed to help clean debris off her yard and home. Mendez said Flores, 75, died after falling from the roof of their house while trying to fix damage by the hurricane.
  • Medina Carrero, 59, called in to radio newscaster Victor Vazquez and told the broadcaster he and his parents were hungry. He said the roof on his parents’ home had blown off during the hurricane. He said he helps take care of his father, Maximino Medina, who is 84, and his mother, Iris Carrero, who is 79. Vazquez, 42, contacted Sola and Cruz and together they secured a week’s supply of food for the family. Vazquez also called a friend who volunteered to fix the roof and someone from the neighborhood anonymously fixed the family’s 1991 Oldsmobile, which needed a new radiator hose. The Medinas never found out who fixed the car, but it was a gesture of solidarity that brought Medina Carrero to tears.

See how one thing leads to another, which leads to another?  This, my friends, is how it should always work.Jorge Sanders, 32, a communications consultant and several of his compadres have banded together to provide relief to as many friends, neighbors and strangers in need as they can.  They call their initiative Jóvenes x Puerto Rico (Young People for Puerto Rico) and they have mobilized restaurants to come together to deliver food to those in need, rented trucks filled with water and ice from distribution centers in San Juan and delivered them to other municipalities.  Sanders says, “There is no doubt that the reason the crisis hasn’t been worse is because Puerto Ricans have been helping out their brothers and sisters and not waiting for aid that has never come.”There are many individuals, businesses and non-profits doing what they can to help their communities get back on their feet again – far too many for me to list here.  The people of Puerto Rico are good, kind people who care about their neighbors, and with or without the help of their government, they will rebuild their homes, their businesses, their towns and their island to be even stronger than before.

My hat is off to the good people of Puerto Rico for your perseverance and your love of neighbors and homeland!

Note to readers:  If anybody would like to donate to the efforts of our fellow-Americans, I strongly recommend you contact our good friend Dr. Horty Rex (@hrexach on Twitter), for she is far more knowledgeable in this area than I.

A Must Read, Washington Post’s 12/14/17 Update On Puerto Rico

We must not forget the people of Puerto Rico and the terrible conditions that remain, even some four months after the devastation of Hurricane Maria. Please take a moment to read this important update by our friend Gronda. Thank you, Gronda, for this sad, but important post.

Gronda Morin

“The negligence of the US government towards helping American citizens living in Puerto Rico in their hour of need after the island had been left in ruins after 2 major hurricane storms in 2017, will be remembered as the republican lawmakers who handed the super rich a gift of trillions of dollars in tax cuts while there are American citizens left to suffer because of lack of funds and adequate support. ”

“Most of the White Evangelicals who have supported this president and his republican sycophants in the White House and the US Congress and who bear witness to this travesty, do not demonstrate the good fruits of Christian compassion and action.”

“This story should give all of us the impetus to fight back for the soul of our US democracy by ousting these folks from elected offices who would allow for this shameful negligence.”

The hurricane’s rains triggered bridge…

View original post 892 more words

Good People Doing Good Things … Three Amazing Kids

Have you ever noticed that for some reason, people seem kinder around this time of year?  People just seem more willing to open both their wallets and their hearts during the Christmas season, and I don’t see it as a religious thing, for many of the most generous people are not Christians.  There is just a certain magic that comes from the lights, the scents, the sounds, that makes people feel better.  This week’s ‘good people’ post begins with a young man who shows us his “Christmas Spirit”.


Jayden Perez – age 8

His name is Jayden Perez and he is 8 years old, living in Woodland Park, New Jersey.  Not long ago, Jayden told his mom that he wanted to donate all his Christmas gifts this year to the children in Puerto Rico who lost everything to Hurricane Maria in September.  But his mom, Ana Rosado, gave him the idea of taking it a step further and starting a toy drive to collect toys for the children of Puerto Rico, and that is what Jayden, with a little bit of help, did!  His mom helped to get the word out by posting about the toy drive on her Facebook account, and the response has been overwhelming!

  • A man in Pennsylvania donated a trailer-load of toys
  • NBA manager Brandon Eddy sent 11 large boxes full of toys
  • And of course people from the neighborhood did their share, too

Jayden was even featured on ABC News’ Good Morning America.  Jayden and his mom will be flying to Puerto Rico to distribute the toys to several small cities that were hit hard by Maria, and also to an orphanage that needs help.

Jayden-1.jpg

There are many good people in this story, but it all started with a little boy who wanted to give away his own Christmas presents to help others in need.  Thumbs up, young Jayden … keep up the good work!


Jameshia Attaway – age 14

Jameshia Attaway of Indianola, Mississippi turned 14 years old this month.  Since her birthday is so close to Christmas, she has a unique way of celebrating … she gives all her gifts away — and then some!  It all started six years ago when Jameshia was eight years old and in third grade.  She noticed that a girl in her school wore shoes with holes in them. “Children made fun of her,” said Jameshia. “I told my mother that I wanted to buy her a pair of new shoes.” She then realized that many other kids were in need of help, too, while every year she was “overwhelmed” with birthday gifts. So she decided that she could “put on a smile on my face and theirs” by giving her gifts away.

In the six years since that first philanthropic deed, Jameshia’s project has expanded and she now begins preparing in November for the huge birthday bash she throws for local children in need. She writes letters to local businesses and civic groups to garner donations of toys and food, and contacts agencies that provide services for people in need. She also asks family and friends to make gift boxes, teachers to read to children who attend the party, and her mother’s friend to dress up as a princess.

JameshiaThe hardest part, Jameshia said, used to be finding a place large enough to hold the party, but the mayor of her town now allows her to host the event in a city-owned building. She estimates that about 40 local families benefit from her project every year. In addition to her annual party, Jameshia participates in a wide variety of community service projects with her school’s PTA, the Indianola Youth Council and a mayor’s diversity council.

Two years ago, Jameshia was awarded the Prudential ‘Spirit of Community Award’,  at a national award ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Remember, if you will, that this young woman is only 14 years old!  She has already accomplished, in the past six years, barely half of her young life, more than many of us accomplish in an entire lifetime! I don’t know about you guys, but I am humbled.


When I began this post this evening, I had a direction in mind … people giving because of the holiday spirit.  But, as sometimes happens, the stories had a mind of their own and took me down a different path than I first saw, and I stumbled across so many young people doing good for their communities, that the piece changed focus without my realizing it.  So often we despair about the youth of today, wonder what the world will look like when this next generation with their droopy drawers and ‘all about me’ attitude is in charge.  But if these young people are any indication, I think we will be just fine.  Read on …


Deoshanic Petaway – age 15

Homicides hit a ten-year high in the small town of Lima, Ohio last December, much due to an increase in gun violence.  Enter Deoshanic Petaway, age 15, who wasn’t about to sit idle while young people were being killed in her community.

deoshanicDeoshanic started working with an organization called CeaseFire Lima, hoping to help find a solution to the violence at its root cause, so that violence and conflict could be resolved before becoming a life or death situation. What Deoshanic and the group discovered was the story that we are hearing across much of the U.S. today … many community members felt that individuals were arrested or hassled by police without cause.

To help create communication between the police and community members, Deoshanic created a community dialogue space for youth and police to discuss their perspectives and build understanding of one another.  Imagine that, folks … a 15-year-old girl advocates for communication as a solution … darn, why didn’t we adults think of that???  Working together with the Chief of Police, City Council members, and her peers, Deoshanic began raising money for body cams for the police officers and for awareness of the safety issues within the community for both police and community members.

To create safe spaces for youth, Deoshanic hosts events, including a Halloween event. For the holiday season, Deoshanic planned a Christmas party in partnership with the Walmart Foundation, United Healthcare, the Lima Police Department, the Lima Public library, a local church, and other youth groups that provide food and toys to children in need. Under the guidance of the West Ohio Foodbank, Deoshanic and Ceasefire Lima’s youth group created Lima’s first youth-led food pantry, the only pantry that has weekend access.

Deoshanic additionally helped establish the Lima Junior City Council so that youth can have a voice in policies that affect their community. By collaborating with other community groups, Deoshanic has demonstrated that change has a greater impact when everyone comes together.


All three of these young people deserve our respect and a round of applause.  They obviously come from families with true values, not the faux values of those whose words do not match their actions.  And all three of these kids are going to make this world a better place, mark my words.

I began with a story about a young man who wanted to help the displaced youth in Puerto Rico, and I would like to end with a reminder, and perhaps even a plea.  In September, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico with a vengeance, doing far greater damage than any of the other devastating hurricanes this year.  More than 60% of Puerto Ricans remain without electricity or running water.  This will be a bleak Christmas for the residents of Puerto Rico, and especially for the children.  I ask that you remember them, for they have been largely forgotten by their own government.  And if you can find it in your heart, if you can find a few spare dollars in your wallet, please do what you can to help make Christmas just a little bit brighter for these children.

Thank you all, and remember, my friends, the majority of people on this planet truly are “Good People” … they just get overshadowed by the other variety. Hugs and Love from my home to yours.

A Fairy Tale Even Grimmer Than Grimm’s

Once upon a time there was a president, a leader, and he tried to do the right thing for the people who had elected him.  Some of the people did not like him and made up stories about his religion, his birthplace, and anything else they could think of.  They said they hated him, and they rallied against everything he wanted to do to try to help the people.  But he was a kind and benevolent leader, well-reasoned and being possessed of an even temperament, and he did not respond to their taunts.  Eventually, as must happen at least every eight years, he was replaced by another, a man possessed of a sharp, untruthful tongue, a man who thought only of himself and cared not one whit for the people who had elected him.  When the first leader spoke to the people at an event called a ‘news conference’, he used the opportunity to present information about things that were important to the people, to the nation.  He informed, he sometimes joked briefly with the reporters, and he always tried to explain what he and his team were doing and why it was important.  But when ‘the other’ came along, he rarely spoke at these news conferences, but he held rallies to tell the people lies about how great he was. And when he did speak to the people, it was ugly-speak.  He spoke in an ugly language, criticized most everyone, threatened, bullied and spoke falsely about what a great job he was doing.  And the people, most of the people, cried and asked themselves, “What have we done?” And they did not live happily ever after …

The ’other’, of course, is none other than Donald Trump.  Last evening, he gave a press conference whereby he bashed Hillary Clinton for her election loss, criticized former President Obama, praised himself, and went to great lengths to assure every one of his “outstanding” relationship with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell was at Trump’s side, looking rather like a recalcitrant child or an obedient house pet. Trump’s speech was relatively short, a lot of tooting his own horn, but the more interesting parts came with the rather lengthier Q&A session afterward. Let us take a look at a few of the ‘highlights’ … as always, my snarky remarkys are in blue italics.


Trump: What Mitch will tell you is that maybe, with the exception of a few — and that is a very small few — I have a fantastic relationship with the people in the Senate, and with the people in Congress.  (This came totally unsolicited, as a response to a completely unrelated question.)


Reporter: Why haven’t we heard anything from you so far about the Soldiers that were killed in Niger?  And what do you have to say about that?

Trump: I’ve written them personal letters. They’ve been sent, or they’re going out tonight, but they were written during the weekend. I will, at some point during the period of time, call the parents and the families — because I have done that, traditionally. I felt very, very badly about that. I always feel badly. It’s the toughest — the toughest calls I have to make are the calls where this happens, soldiers are killed. It’s a very difficult thing. Now, it gets to a point where, you know, you make four or five of them in one day — it’s a very, very tough day. For me, that’s by far the toughest. (Aye, pobrecito!!!) So, the traditional way — if you look at President Obama and other Presidents, most of them didn’t make calls, a lot of them didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate, when I think I’m able to do it. They have made the ultimate sacrifice. So, generally, I would say that I like to call. I’m going to be calling them. I want a little time to pass. I’m going to be calling them. I have — as you know, since I’ve been President, I have. But in addition, I actually wrote letters individually to the soldiers we’re talking about, and they’re going to be going out either today or tomorrow. (Multiple points here.  1) The Green Berets killed in Niger were killed on October 4th, fully 12 days before this speech.  2) It is highly unlikely that Trump wrote any letters, but more likely that someone on his staff hastily wrote them, if they have even been written, once Trump came under criticism.  Trump spent the weekend at his golf course. 3) President Obama not only called the families of slain soldiers, but in some cases even visited them.)


Reporter: Mr. President, in 2012 you tweeted that “Obama’s complaints about Republicans stopping his agenda are BS,” in your words, “since he had full control for two years.”  You wrote, “He can never take responsibility.”  But today, you’ve said about some of the challenges right now in Congress and in Washington, “I’m not going to blame myself, I’ll be honest. They’re not getting the job done.”  So what’s different then than now?  (Oooh … good one!)

Trump: Well, let me just explain what’s different. We have nominations pending right now, and we have 182 approved — if you look at this:  the number that he had approved was 65 percent and 70 percent, and we have 39 percent. They’re holding up every single nomination. (Did he answer the question and I missed it?)

Reporter: How about the agenda broadly?

Trump: Schumer and the group are holding up every single nomination. They are obstructing. They’re doing — I’m telling you, they’re not good politicians, but they’re very good at obstruction. (But I thought Schumer and Pelosi were his new, best friends?)


Reporter: If it would help you — if it would help Special Counsel Robert Mueller get to the end of the Russia investigation, would you –

Trump: Well, I’d like to see it end. Look, the whole Russian thing was an excuse –

Reporter: Would you –

Trump: Excuse me. Excuse me. The whole Russia thing was an excuse for the Democrats losing the election, and it turns out to be just one excuse. I mean, today Hillary blamed Nigel Farage. That one came out of nowhere. So that was just an excuse for the Democrats losing an election that, frankly, they have a big advantage in the Electoral College. They should always be able to win in the Electoral College, but they were unable to do it. So there has been absolutely no collusion. It’s been stated that they have no collusion. They ought to get to the end of it because I think the American public is sick of it. (No, Mr. Trump, the American public is not sick of it. The American public wants answers and it is clear to any who can see, hear and think, that you and your team have, in fact, colluded with Russia.)


Reporter: Mr. President, in the wake of an avalanche of allegations made against Harvey Weinstein, your campaign is being subpoenaed for any documents relating to sexual harassment allegations made against you. Do you have a response to that?

Trump: All I can say is it’s totally fake news. It’s just fake. It’s fake. It’s made-up stuff, and it’s disgraceful what happens. But that’s happens in the world of politics. (There has, in fact, been a subpoena for those documents.)


Reporter: Do you maintain that the federal response [to Puerto Rico] has been outstanding?

Trump: Oh, I think — well, that’s according to the Clinton administration’s head of FEMA, it’s been outstanding. Puerto Rico is very tough because of the fact it’s an island. (REALLY???) But it’s also tough because, as you know, it was in very poor shape before the hurricanes ever hit. Their electrical grid was destroyed before the hurricanes got there. It was in very bad shape, was not working, was in bankruptcy, owed $9 billion. And then on top of that, the hurricane came. Now, you’re going to have to build a whole new electrical plant system. We’re not talking about generators. We moved — Puerto Rico now has more generators, I believe, than any place in the world. There are generators all over the place. The fact is, their electrical system was in horrible shape before and even worse shape after. So we are working right now — as you know, relief funds were just approved and are in the process of being approved by Congress. And that includes Texas, by the way. That includes Florida. And it also includes Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, et cetera. But it was in really bad shape before. We have done — I will say this, we have done – (No snarky remarky required here … he does it to himself)


Reporter: Mr. President, in an interview earlier today, Hillary Clinton said that she did not believe that players taking a knee in the NFL was about disrespecting the flag — at complete odds with the way that you have referred to this. You fired back in a tweet saying that you hope that she runs again in 2020. Why –

Trump: Oh, I hope Hillary runs. Is she going to run?  I hope. Hillary, please run again.

Reporter: So she’s at odds with you over whether or not this is disrespecting the flag. Is she right or is she wrong?

Trump: I think she’s wrong. Look, when they take a knee — there’s plenty of time to do knees and there’s plenty of time to do lots of other things. But when you take a knee – But when you take a knee — well, that’s why she lost the election. Honestly, it’s that thinking — that is the reason she lost the election. (Who knew?)


There is much more, but I have already far exceeded my self-imposed word limit.  And, I have run out of patience for tonight … there is only so much of this one can take.  You can read the full transcript or watch the full video (1 hour 17 minutes), if you are a masochist and really want to do so.

And thus ends this chapter in the fairy tale book, but we are a long way from the end of the book.  Let us hope that there is a Prince Charming to come rescue us … perhaps his name is Robert Mueller?

Any more questions?

Last week was a busy one for Donald Trump. It was as if he was on a mission to cause as much damage both domestically and to our reputation abroad as he possibly could in as short a time frame as possible. Friend and fellow-blogger Keith has written a nice summary of some of the areas in which Trump has focused his destructive talents, and since I could not have said it better, I am sharing his words with you. Please take a minute to read this excellent post … and be sure to check out the comments, for there are some good thoughts there as well. Thank you, Keith!

musingsofanoldfart

For over two years, I have been amazed at how a man, who is so consumed with himself and has given so little regard to the plight of others, can become the President of the United States. He convinced far too many people, whose voice has not been heard, that he was on their side. Unfortunately, they did not pay attention to his history which reveals he has only one cause – himself.

Yesterday, this man decided to kick poor people one more time, stripping subsidies under the ACA for deductibles, co-pays and coinsurance for those who qualify because of low wages. This man owns the imperfect, but working ACA. He has sabotaged it from the get go picking up the baton the GOP Congress gave him, so if the ACA fails as a result, it is on his and GOP leadership’s shoulders.

A few weeks ago, he rolled out…

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