The Licensing of the Presidency (White House for Sale)

I rarely follow new blogs these days, as I don’t have time to keep up with the ones I already follow, but recently one crossed my path that seemed exceptional, so I followed it. The blog is Enigma in Black, and according to the authors bio it is “one man’s opinion about matters primarily involving politics, education, and race.”
We all know that Trump is profiting from the presidency, that he sees this nation as his own private domain and that his hired thugs are profiting as well. This post, however, shines some new light on it all and is appropriately titled, “The Licensing of the Presidency (White House for Sale)”. Thank you, Enigma, for both this excellent post, and your permission to share.

ENIGMA IN BLACK

It’s how Trump has done business the past couple of decades. After six bankruptcies, Trump did learn a new trick and started selling his name and not trying to run a profitable business. Trump doesn’t really own many of the properties with his name on them. In 2015, his name was on seventeen properties in New York of which he owned only five. At present, the number of buildings in New York with his name has dwindled to eleven, as the six“Trump Place” properties elected to have the Trump name removed. The Trump Organization continues to manage the properties. A typical deal involves Trump licensing his name which once attracted buyers/renters for a fee while also being paid for management duties.

Trump’s new business model allowed him to eliminate risk while raking in a percentage, whether the venture succeeds or fails. When The Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower…

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Happy Earth Day – Redux for 2019!!!

Today is Earth Day … the 49th anniversary of Earth Day, to be exact.  Last night, I was struggling, trying to write a new Earth Day post for 2019, the theme of which is “Protect Our Species”.  Motivation just would not come, so this morning I looked back on my prior years’ posts and found that last year’s post expresses my thoughts just as well as anything I could write today.  So, I am ‘re-cycling’ that post.  I will have more soon, for Earth Day is only a motivator — we must learn to be good stewards of our planet Earth every day.


Today is Earth Day!  I am always surprised by people who say, “Yeah, so???” Or those who say “What the heck is Earth Day?”  So, please bear with me while I explain very briefly.

History – In The Beginning

The concept for Earth Day was conceived in the mind of then-Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Senator Nelson recruited help from Republican Congressman Pete McCloskey and others, and on April 22,1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

Earth Day 2018-4Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. By the end of that year, the first Earth Day had led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.

In 1995, President Bill Clinton awarded Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the highest honor given to civilians in the United States—for his role as Earth Day founder.

From Then To Now

Through the years, Earth Day has focused largely on global warming and a push for clean energy. Earth Day 2000 used the power of the Internet to organize activists, but also featured a drum chain that traveled from village to village in Gabon, Africa. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, DC for a First Amendment Rally. Earth Day 2000 sent world leaders the loud and clear message that citizens around the world wanted quick and decisive action on global warming and clean energy.Earth Day 2018-3Earth Day 2010 saw new challenges:  Climate change deniers, well-funded oil lobbyists, reticent politicians, a disinterested public, and a divided environmental community all contributed to the narrative—cynicism versus activism.  Still, some 250,000 people showed up at the National Mall for a Climate Rally, launched the world’s largest environmental service project—A Billion Acts of Green®–introduced a global tree planting initiative that has since grown into The Canopy Project, and engaged 22,000 partners in 192 countries in observing Earth Day.

And In 2018???

Under the current administration, with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) having been nearly decimated under the auspices of Scott Pruitt, the United States stands alone among all nations in eschewing the science of global climate change, and I am inclined to say that we have no right to even celebrate Earth Day.  However, thankfully, the vast majority of people in this nation are more intelligent than our leaders and understand how critical our environment and our stewardship of the planet earth is.

The Plastics Crisis

A mound of plastics

This year’s Earth Day theme is a call to end plastic pollution.  This year, a six-ton sperm whale washed up on the shores of southern Spain with 64 pounds of plastic in its stomach!  The plastic crisis is a truly global one, and the numbers are staggering: A 2015 study found that between 4.8 and 12.7 million metric tons of plastic makes it into the ocean from land each year. By 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by weight.

Plastic is not biodegradable and does not break down in nature.  Some 32 percent of plastics end up in nature, where it often ends up in the bellies of fish, birds, and whales. 83 percent of drinking water samples all over the world were found to contain plastic fibers, even bottled water. Environmental activists are pushing to reduce or end the use of disposable plastics. Curbing plastic pollution is a key theme in this year’s Earth Day and there’s a high-profile campaign underway to ban plastic straws in particular. UK Prime Minister Theresa May called for a ban on plastic straws, swabs, and stirrers. Some researchers last year openly called for an international agreement to control plastic pollution.

Animal Extinctions

We failed to save the Northern White Rhino species, as the last male of the species died last month. His name was Sudan …

There are now only two Northern White Rhinos left in the world, both females.  Why did these animals become extinct?  Two main causes:  poaching and loss of habitat.  Humans must bear the blame for both.  In 1900, there were an estimated half-million of the rhinos.  By 1970, that number was reduced to 70,000.  And today the number is 2.

Global Warming

Earth’s polar regions are warming twice as fast as the average rate of the planet. NOAA scientists reported late last year that the Arctic losing ice at its fastest rate in at least 1,500 years. For the third year in a row. January saw the lowest extent of Arctic sea ice for the month on record. Researchers reported last year that a section of Greenland’s ice sheet suddenly started melting 80 percent faster. Another study found Greenland’s entire ice sheet is melting at its fastest rate in at least 400 years, and that the melt rate sped up drastically in 1990. If the entire Greenland ice sheet were to melt, it would raise global sea levels by more than 20 feet.

The climate change deniers can deny until they turn blue in the face, but facts speak louder than bullshit, and the facts tell us that we are losing this battle and will face our own extinction if we don’t take collective action soon.

In Summary

This is a post about Earth Day, but more to the point it is a post about the need for Earth Day.  It isn’t just about one day a year, about marches and articles such as this one, but it is about awareness.  The entire purpose of Earth Day is to raise awareness, to stir people to take action.  The U.S. government and Fox News will continue to deny the need to protect our environment, not because they are as stupid as they seem, but rather because they are as greedy as they seem.  But there is much that each and every one of us can do without the help of our elected officials.  Recycle, pick up trash when you see it on the streets or in your local parks, plant a tree, plant flowers to encourage pollination, turn the thermostat down, conserve water, reduce food waste, turn off lights, consolidate errands and trips in the car, walk more/drive less, take the bus … use some common sense and be a good steward of the planet.  And meanwhile, keep petitioning your elected officials at local, state and federal levels … let them know that a healthy environment is more important to you than the finances of the fossil fuel industry.  Please … my life and yours are at stake, but more importantly our children’s and grandchildren’s lives are at stake.

Happy Earth Day, my friends!  Why not celebrate by planting a sapling or a few flowers in the back yard?

On Draining the ‘Swamp’ …

swamp-1Remember back in 2015-2016, that long, ugly, disgusting, tiresome campaign Trump conducted?  Yeah, who could forget, right, especially since he doesn’t seem to realize that the 2016 election has ended and the campaign is over, so he keeps holding more and more of his really crappy rallies where he still has his minions chanting “Lock her up!”, even though they have forgotten who it was he wanted locked up.  One of the many things that he spent that year-and-a-half (have I mentioned that it was a very looooooong year-and-a-half?) shoving down people’s throats was how he was going to “drain the swamp”, a euphemism for getting rid of corruption in the federal government.  Well, we now know, thanks to Kellyanne Conway, that Trump uses a different dictionary, a different vocabulary than we do, called ‘alternative facts’, and that by ‘drain the swamp’, what he really meant was he was planning to bring in much more lethal, corrupt, greedy, criminal gators ‘n crocs.

One of my favourite comedians, John Oliver, has applied his own special brand of humour to the notion of Trump ‘draining the swamp’, and it is worth a watch … both educational and humorous …

Thank you, John!swamp-4

The Dirtiest Game(s) in Town

Trump’s staff and cabinet are among the most corrupt people in the nation.  Remember EPA head Scott Pruitt and his abominable misuse … downright theft, actually … of taxpayer money?  Then there was Tom Price, Secretary of Health & Human Services (HHS) who wasted more than a quarter-million on charter flights to jet all over the country.Pruitt.pngPrice & Pruitt are gone, but the corruption remains. Take, for example, Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).  Mulvaney has a friend, Michael O’Shaughnessy, back in his home district in South Carolina.  O’Shaughnessy is the founder and president of Element Electronics, a television assembly plant in Winnsboro, South Carolina.  O’Shaughnessy was also a financial contributor to Mulvaney’s 2016 Congressional campaign.

mulvaney toonElement Electronics stands to be seriously hurt by Trump’s tariffs, and O’Shaughnessy has said the plant will close in October if they cannot be exempted from the tariffs.  Mulvaney is doing everything in his power to see that an exemption is granted to Element.  Now, it isn’t that I am unsympathetic to the situation Element finds itself in, but many, many other companies are in the same boat, and is Mulvaney trying to help them?  No, because they are not owned by his friend.  Trump’s tariffs are destructive and despite his claims, are going to cost jobs and hurt the U.S. economy.  But we cannot single out only certain companies to help because they are friends of somebody on Trump’s staff or cabinet.Zinke toon.jpgAnd then there’s Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior who, at his confirmation hearing in January 2017, said, “I am absolutely against transfer or sale of public land.”  And again, in March 2017 … “You can hear it from my lips. We will not sell or transfer public land.” Doesn’t that one remind you of that infamous Bush Sr. line: “Read my lips — No new taxes!”? And yet, last week watchdog environmental groups got wind that Zinke was negotiating to sell off some 1,610 acres of public lands that had been part of the Grand Staircase national monument until Trump radically shrunk the size of the monument last December.  The planned sale included 880,000 acres carved out by Trump from Grand Staircase and the 200,000 acres remaining in Bears Ears from its original 1.35 million acres.

The planned sale was cancelled last Friday, after questioning by the environmental groups, and Interior Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt took the blame, saying it was an “oversight” …

“The failure to capture this inconsistency stops with me.”

Most, myself included, are not buying it, for Zinke surely cannot be so out of touch with the department he is tasked with overseeing that he was unaware of this.  These are public lands, folks … OUR land!  stompingIt does not belong to Mr. Zinke nor to Mr. Trump and it certainly is not their right to sell it.  I’m still not convinced they had the right to shrink it.

But Zinke’s corruption doesn’t end here.  Earlier this year, he and his wife entered into a business agreement with Halliburton, one of the world’s biggest oil field services firms and a company that, needless to say, does quite a bit of business with the U.S. government, including the Interior Department that Zinke oversees.  You can find the details here.ethics scrutiny.jpgAnd then there’s Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce who not only failed to properly divest himself of certain investments upon taking his position but has continued to meet in an official capacity with the chief executives of the companies in which he owns millions of dollars’ worth of stock.  There is no evidence that he discussed deals that could be considered conflict of interest, but there is the appearance of wrongdoing.  If I meet with a hitman, and the FBI gets wind of it, given my supreme dislike and public criticisms of Trump, guess what the FBI will assume, and guess where I’ll be going? Appearances are important in the eyes of the public.

Ross has denied wrongdoing but admitted only to “inadvertent errors”.  Last month, Ross came under fire by the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) for failure to divest certain holdings that he had agreed to do upon taking office. One of those holdings was Invesco, where Ross once worked and still owns stock valued at up to $50 million.  Ross recently met with a board member of the Qatar Investment Authority, a sovereign wealth fund that had given Invesco money to manage.

Ross has met with auto executives who are customers of the company he founded and still has a financial interest in. He has met with the chief executive of a rail car manufacturer whose board he once sat on and whose shares he still owns.  Sorry, Wilbur, but there is too much smoke here for there not to be a fire somewhere.

Helaine Olen, an opinion writer for The Washington Post, recently began her column …

“At least once a week, a member of the Trump administration demonstrates in an entertaining way that public service can be a great way to make a buck.”

She hit that nail spot on the head, didn’t she?  But then, when the ‘man’ who is over all these people is the most corrupt leader in the western world … what else can you expect?drain the swampIsn’t it interesting that Trump’s administration contains some of the wealthiest people ever to hold government positions, and yet they are the most corrupt, bar none?  It would seem to me that this is as good an indicator as any that wealth is addictive, always seeking more, willing to go to great lengths to obtain more, not caring a whit who they step on in the process.  It rather reminds me of a drug addict who will do anything and everything, including murder, to get his next fix.  What’s next?  Stay tuned.

Afternoon Snarky Snippets …

Call it mind-bounce, call it angst, call it fed-up-with-Trump syndrome … whatever it is, it is interfering with my ability to settle in on a single topic today, so I decided to vent on a few topics.  Sometimes getting some of the detritus out of the way helps me focus.


First, the good news …

Eight of the boys who have been trapped in a cave in Thailand since June 23rd have been brought out to safety!  Four boys and the coach remain in the flooded cave and it is hoped that they can be rescued tomorrow.  The boys are being kept in quarantine in a hospital to ensure they haven’t picked up any diseases.  rescueI am disturbed, however, by the fact that they have not yet been allowed to see their parents.  It seems unnecessarily cruel to both the children and the parents, and the parents do not even know which boys have been rescued and which remain in the cave. Psychologists already anticipate that the boys are likely to suffer from short-term psychological symptoms.  I am not a psychologist, but just from the standpoint of a human and a parent, it seems that the most important thing at this point would be reuniting the boys with their parents, letting them feel secure in the embrace of their moms and dads.  But what do I know, right?

Anyway, I am thrilled that the eight boys so far have been rescued and seem to be in good health overall, and hope that the other four and the coach will be brought to safety tomorrow.


Scott Pruitt – one final bootlicking …

As we all know by now, Scott Pruitt resigned his position as head of the Environmental Protection Agency last week amid numerous major scandals.  His resignation letter is something to behold, a true work of … I don’t even know the word for it.  Here, in all its glory, is the letter, with my snarky remarkys in blue

“Mr. President, it has been an honor to serve you in the Cabinet as Administrator of the EPA. Truly, your confidence in me has blessed me personally and enabled me to advance your agenda beyond what anyone anticipated at the beginning of your Administration. Your courage (you have GOT to be kidding!!!), steadfastness and resolute commitment to get results for the American people, both with regard to improved environmental outcomes (define ‘improved’, please?) as well as historical regulatory reform (reform = destruction), is in fact occurring at an unprecedented pace and I thank you for the opportunity to serve you and the American people in helping achieve those ends.

That is why it is hard for me to advise you I am stepping down as Administrator of the EPA effective as of July 6. It is extremely difficult for me to cease serving you in this role first because I count it a blessing (define ‘blessing’?) to be serving you in any capacity, but also, because of the transformative work that is occurring. However, the unrelenting attacks on me personally, my family, are unprecedented and have taken a sizable toll on all of us (Awwwww, pobrecito).

My desire in service to you has always been to bless you as you make important decisions for the American people. I believe you are serving as President today because of God’s providence (spare me the bullpoop!!!). I believe that same providence brought me into your service. I pray as I have served you that I have blessed you and enabled you to effectively lead the American people. Thank you again Mr. President for the honor of serving you and I wish you Godspeed in all that you put your hand to.”

PruittDoes anybody else feel ill?  You may notice that he didn’t even mention any of the scandals surrounding him?  Happily, the 14 or so investigations of ethics violations will continue and he remains under the gun.  If it is found that he is guilty of ethics violations, it will be up to Attorney General Jeff Sessions to decide whether to prosecute.  Anybody want to guess how that is likely to go?


Even his friends don’t like the tariffs …

Even some of Trump’s closest allies in Congress are unhappy about the trade tariffs he unleashed last month.  Senator Orrin Hatch, a close ally of Trump’s, reportedly said of the tariffs, “I’d like to kill ’em.”  Republican senators say they can’t get the president to comprehend that his tariffs offensive could upend the mid-term elections. Commodity prices in the heartland are sagging, U.S. allies are retaliating with tariffs of their own — and GOP leaders are fretting that the booming economy is about to go into a pre-midterms nosedive.

My response to all that is, “you reap what you sow”.  The republicans in Congress have blindly followed and supported Donald Trump through some of the most abhorrent decisions ever made by a U.S. president.  They have shoved aside their constituents in favour of the upper echelons that Trump so loves.  And so, when it comes home to roost, when the voters in their states finally say “ENOUGH!!!”, I will have not one shred of empathy for these jerks.


The games people play …

Paul Manafort’s trial is scheduled to begin later this month.  Any bets as to whether it will or not?  Thus far, Manafort has asked for a delay and a change of venue.  Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman and a subject of Robert Mueller’s investigation, since he has close and proven ties to a number of Russians, is accused of both bank and tax fraud.

Paul Manafort.In requesting the move and the delay, Manafort’s attorneys cited intense negative publicity surrounding his prosecution by special counsel Robert Mueller. Yes, well???  You play, you pay … eventually.  I am ready for somebody … anybody … to start facing the consequences of this huge criminal scandal that handed the 2016 election to the least qualified candidate imaginable.  I suspect that once the first one falls, the rest will follow.  We may need to build a new federal penitentiary to hold them all!  Frankly, I will be doing the Snoopy Happy Dance in the middle of the street!


And thus concludes my mini-rants for today.  I shall now go clean a bathroom or two and think about preparing supper later on … lemon-chicken, broccoli and wild rice is on the docket for tonight, and I will be teaching Miss Goose how to make the chicken.  Perhaps someday she can fix supper and I can take a nap!  Have a great evening, friends!

Snarky Snippets To Start The Weekend …

Today I am running short on time and short on patience, so I decided to humour myself by indulging in a bit of snarkiness to start your weekend!


Pruitt Out, Wheeler In …

I let out a WHOOP when I saw the news banner cross my screen, then just a few seconds later heard the ‘knock,  knock, knock’ on my cell phone that indicates breaking news from The Washington Post.  The news?  Scott Pruitt was out … O.U.T. … at the EPA.  I quickly posted the story on my Facebook page, sent Herb a quick message, then sat back to read the whole story and … gloat … only … wait …

My ‘whoop’ turned sour. Turns out, we may be even worse off than before!  My joy dims …

The agency’s deputy administrator, Andrew Wheeler, will be temporarily filling Pruitt’s position, and may end up being Trump’s nominee to fill the position permanently.  Wheeler has a few ‘claims to fame’, but perhaps two bother me the most:

He was a top aide to Senator Jim Inhofe  (you will remember that he is the one who earned the honour of being my first and so far, only Idiot of the Week).  And … this is the most concerning … he was a lobbyist for Murray Coal Company, one of the most corrupt in the industry.

Wheeler is said to be every bit as determined as Pruitt was to follow a path of deregulation of environmental regulations.  Environmental groups say they fear Wheeler even more than they did Pruitt!  “Wheeler is much smarter and will try to keep his efforts under the radar in implementing Trump’s destructive agenda,” said Jeremy Symons, vice president for political affairs at the Environmental Defense Fund. “That should scare anyone who breathes.”


They Can’t Find The Kids …

On Tuesday, 26 June, US District Court Judge Dana Sabraw ordered that the migrant children who had been separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexican border be returned to their parents quickly.  Children under the age of 5 were to be returned within 14 days, and older children within 30 days.

Now, just 4 days before the first deadline, the Trump administration is asking for an unspecified extension of time, saying that the tight timeline is putting them at risk of violating their “statutory obligations to ensure the safety of children before transferring them out of HHS custody.” 

Translation:  We do not know where all the children are, did not engage in good record-keeping when we removed the 3,000 children, and do not know which child belongs to which parent.

They claim they are using DNA testing to match children to parents, saying …

“Given the possibility of false claims of parentage, confirming parentage is critical to ensure that children are returned to their parents, not to potential traffickers.”

Bullpoop!

The other reason they give is that they are running criminal background checks on all the parents in order to ensure they are not returning the child into the hands of a criminal.  Again … Bullpoop!

The Justice Department under Jeff Sessions has said that if the judge wished, they could prepare an alternative timeline.  They are to have a phone conversation this afternoon with Judge Sabraw.  I hope the judge stands his ground, even though it is highly unlikely that the tangled web ICE has woven will be straightened out by the first deadline, next Tuesday.  But if the judge does not relent, and the government does not comply, watch the lawsuits start to fly!  Personally, I hope they do.  This entire thing is unconscionable and should have already been grounds for the impeachment of the man who came up with the idea.


The Coward Heads Abroad …

Next Thursday, Trump heads to the UK for a few days before heading to Brussels for the NATO summit.  I wish he weren’t going to either, for he will certainly shame, humiliate, and embarrass us again, and I have a number of friends in the UK.  But he will not be spending much time in London.  Why?  Because there are mass protests scheduled, and little Donnie is scared.

London-protesters

Londoners protest ahead of Trump’s visit

The citizens of the UK do not want Trump anywhere near their nation, and frankly I don’t blame them.  I doubt very much that Ms. May or the Queen want him, either, but they have this diplomatic duty thing to consider.  But seriously … Trump should feel honoured, for the Londoners have even made a special tribute to Trump — a blimp in his image!  What could be more fitting?  Take a look for yourself …Trump baby blimp-1Trump baby blimp-2Trump baby blimp-3The best we can hope for in this trip is that we not end up in a war with our friends in the UK.  I’m fairly certain he won’t treat them any better than he has treated our Canadian friends, and I am apologizing in advance to my UK friends for the abomination that is about to be unleashed upon your nation.


And that ends today’s snippets, folks.  I must now go mop floors and start chopping veggies for Pasta Primavera tonight!  Have a great weekend!!!weekend

Early Morning Thoughts …

As I lay awake this morning, unable to return to sleep after having slept a scant 2 hours, I engaged in my frequent activity of pondering.  Today I will share with you some of the results of that mind-bounce sort of pondering …


Taxation without representation …

We declared our independence from Britian in 1776 for a number of reasons, however the main stated reason was ‘taxation without representation’. The British passed many tax laws that impacted the colonists.  The colonists had no representatives in Parliament to vote on or discuss these laws.  In English government, the people had to have representatives who could vote on taxes that would affect them.  The colonists had no such voice in British government. Long story short, the colonists declared their independence, represented by the Declaration of Independence penned by Thomas Jefferson, fought off the British and ultimately became the nation known as the United States. Today, we are in a very similar situation, though there is the appearance that we are properly represented.  Yes, we go to the polls each November and every other year we vote for men and women to represent us, to be our voice in the U.S. Congress.  But are they?  No, they are not our voice, they are the voice, the ‘yes-men’, actually, of only one group of people, the very wealthy.  Our taxes?  They go to those who already hoard the majority of the wealth in the nation, but number less than 1% of the population.  Our taxes are merely donations to those who least need them.  Look at the example of Scott Pruitt, already a wealthy man, who now heads the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).   A very important job, and one that he is not bothering to do, as he is keeping busy trying to absorb as much money as he can into his own coffers.  For the complete story, see Gronda’s comprehensive series:  EPA Head Is One Sick Cheap Corrupt Puppy/ Pity His Poor Wife/ Part I, Part II, Part III  

This is but a single example of how our tax money is going to feed the overfed.  Think about the ‘tax cuts’ of last December.  If you saw any increase in your pay, it was minimal and has since been eaten by rising fuel and food costs, the latter thanks to Trump’s tariffs.  But trust me, people like Pruitt, the Trump family, the DeVos family … they gleefully saw a huge decrease in their quarterly taxes last month, and thus a rise in their profits … as if they needed any more.  And no, folks, it isn’t going to “trickle down” to us.


Free Speech, but for whom?

It’s puzzling to me that nearly 600 women were arrested last week during a peaceful protest against family separation and detention, yet people like Richard Spencer, Milo Yiannopoulos and others who preach hate and incite violence are guarded and their free speech protected.  So … if I am understanding correctly, 600 unarmed women marching in DC from Freedom Plaza to the Department of Justice to Congress, then sitting peacefully in the Senate’s Hart Office Building are a bigger threat than white supremacists and neo-Nazis inciting violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a woman was intentionally murdered and dozens injured by a man driving his car into the crowd – intentionally?  Can anybody explain this one?  I surely cannot.  The 1st Amendment, as I have said numerous times, gives us the right to protest when we feel our government is in the wrong.  If we no longer have the right of peaceful protest, but Nazis have the right to incite violence, what does that say about our nation?  And speaking of abuse of the right to free speech …


Alex Jones rants again …

We haven’t heard a lot from America’s #1 Conspiracy Theorist lately, but he is making up for lost time now.Jones-civil-warSeñor Jones is once again riling the masses, just in time for the nation’s Independence Day celebrations, with his declaration that the democrats are planning to use the July 4th holiday to start a “second Civil War”.  Good grief, what is this man smoking???

I tried to watch the clip from his program, InfoWars, where he expounded on this theory, but frankly after about two minutes, I felt ill, angry, and decided it wasn’t worth putting myself through.  It would, perhaps, be funny if it weren’t so dangerous.  The danger, however, is very real and I will not be surprised to find that tomorrow brings outbreaks of violence in our cities.  If it happens, the blame rests largely on the shoulders of Donald Trump, Alex Jones, Sean Hannity, and the rest of the minions who parrot these ridiculous taunts.  There is a saying among the saner of us, “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should”.  It is a lesson that many in this nation need to learn.  Without this sort of incitement, we might be able to work through some of our differences, find common ground and stop the madness that has led to the great divide.  But no, we have people whose entire careers revolve around keeping the pot of hatred filled and stirred.


And now you know how I spent the hour between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m., before finally uttering an expletive and getting out of bed.  To my U.S. friends, please have a fun holiday, but most of all keep safe.

Putting 2 + 2 Together …

A few of the recent headlines …

Heat Wave Grips Northeast U.S.

Dangerous Heat Wave Hitting U.S. Over Fourth of July Weekend

UK Weather Forecast:  Summer 2018 To Be Hottest Ever

Town Hit By Major Freak Flooding in the Midst of a National Heat Wave

And the list goes on.  In my city, it has been over 90° F (32° C) and with heat index factored in, has hit 104° F (40° C) for the past four days. A check with The Weather Channel shows that there is very little, if any relief in sight at least through July 15th, another two weeks.  The average temperatures here in the two hottest months, July & August, are typically 86° and 87° with rarely more than 3-4 days over 90°.  I remember a few years that there were no 90-degree days all summer!  Humidity has been between 56% – 99% for the past several days.climate map eastern usFunny thing about all of this, though … nobody seems to be too concerned beyond the inconvenience of being uncomfortable, having trouble breathing and/or sleeping, and worrying about seeing next month’s electric bill.  I haven’t once heard mention of that forbidden phrase … climate change. I haven’t heard any others express my own concern, that this is how summers will be from now on.  For the past two winters, we have barely had any snowfall.  Last year saw a record number of intense hurricanes, including three Category 5 hurricanes, Harvey, Irma & Maria, that together caused over $281 billion in damage!

When Trump took office on 20 January 2017, he had already made it known that he believed climate change was a “hoax invented by the Chinese”.  He then nominated Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Pruitt had already sued the EPA thirteen times while he served as Oklahoma’s Attorney General!  And now, as EPA Administrator, he has climbed into bed with the fossil fuel industry, hidden his agenda from the public eye, falsified records, spent taxpayer monies recklessly and on personal items, engaged in unethical activities and in short, been one of the most corrupt cabinet members in history!  The one thing he has not done, is address the most serious issue facing our environment, climate change.

In June 2015, Trump announced that the U.S. would cease all participation in the 2015 Paris Agreement, saying that “The Paris accord will undermine [the U.S.] economy, and puts [the U.S.] at a permanent disadvantage.”  In keeping with that philosophy, he has rescinded, via ‘executive order’, a large number of regulations and safeguards that were put into place to regulate CO2 emissions, water standards, chemical toxicity, wildlife and national park protections, and the list goes on.

Now, it is not my intention to say that because Trump has given free rein to coal and oil companies, that is the reason we are sweltering.  However, I do say that unless this nation, the only one on the globe that is not remaining in the Paris Accord, takes responsibility for doing its share to take care of the planet, we will continue to see the effects that we are seeing and they will only continue to multiply.  The predictions of the climate scientists are being realized even sooner than they anticipated.

Despite the losses of life and property during last year’s hurricane season, despite the nearly unbearable extended heat wave both in the U.S. and across the pond, people seem to be oblivious.  I don’t see people leaving their cars at home, taking a bus or walking to their destination.  The lady across the street from me even starts her car and drives her bag of trash to the dumpster at the end of the street!  And no, she is not disabled, but is more ‘abled’ than I am, while I walk my trash to the dumpster! The end result is that people are much more concerned with things such as jobs, the economy, health care, taxes and other things that they can see affecting their own lives on a day-to-day basis.

This explains in part why it has been so easy for the current bunch in Washington to pull the wool over the public’s eyes about climate change, for it is seen as having more long-term than immediate effects, and also the science is not well understood among those of us who are non-scientists.  One has to take much on faith, believing that the men and women who have the education and have spent most of their lives studying the earth and environment know of what they speak.  And, of course, part of the resistance to climate change is the convenience factor, for once you acknowledge that human behaviours are destroying the environment, it is hard to argue against changing those behaviours.dinosaurAnother part of the reason that people are failing to sit up and take notice, I think, is that lackadaisical attitude that “somehow things will work out … they always do”.  I imagine the dinosaurs believed much the same once upon a time, eh?

It is encouraging that some states and cities in the U.S., as well as some corporations are taking matters into their own hands and taking steps toward being more environmentally responsible.   It is encouraging to see that in 2017, renewable energy sources accounted for about 11% of total U.S. energy consumption and about 17% of electricity generation.  But it isn’t enough.  The U.S. is not only letting its own citizens down, but is letting every man, woman and child on the globe down, for this is a global problem, not a local one.  The U.S. has emitted more planet-warming carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than any other country.  Yet while we are a big part of the problem, we refuse to be a part of the solution.

This summer’s high temperatures and humidity will lead to increased energy use as air-conditioners run non-stop in homes and businesses.  People will drive their cars more, rather than walk, and run the a/c in the car, thereby using more fuel … more polluting fuel.  What does it take to wake people up to the fact that we are very likely bringing about the extinction of the human race, and unlike the dinosaurs, who did not have the ability to control their fate, we have a choice.  Perhaps we cannot force Donald Trump to care about the earth, to care about our survival, but we can get the knuckle-draggers out of Congress and elect people who care enough to do something.  AND … we can do something.  We can combine trips so we drive less, turn our thermostats up (or down in winter), turn off lights, conserve energy in any way possible.  It may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the energy used by factories, office buildings and big trucks, but every little bit counts.  WE MUST WAKE UP!!!

A few informative links, if you’re interested:

Idiot of the Week — Senator Jim Inhofe

Idiot of the Week medalThere are a host of reasons I have been neglectful this year, ranging from Trumpantics to personal issues to health-related issues, but the time has come to stop making excuses and get back in the saddle.  To what, you may ask, do I refer? … … … Well, are you gonna ask or not???  Okay, okay … Here it is just a few days shy of being the middle of the year, and I have not written one single Idiot of the Week post.  Not one!  It certainly isn’t for lack of available material!  Well, today I plan to rectify that situation, so without further ado, please allow me to introduce to you Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma!

radarSenator Jim Inhofe has crossed my radar a few times of late, and last time he crossed a line when he left something sticky and disgusting all over the screen.  Last week, he flitted across my screen when he blocked the proposal filed by Bob Corker, Lamar Alexander and eleven other senators that would have required congressional approval for the imposition of trade tariffs.  Blocked it.  Would not even let it come for a vote.

Now this week, Inhofe is saying that he is “a little embarrassed” to have doubted his longtime friend from Oklahoma, EPA head Scott Pruitt. Less than a week after suggesting Pruitt might have to resign amid the swirl of scandal, Inhofe said he was confident the administrator had done nothing seriously wrong. Any of Pruitt’s lapses were minor and excusable given his lack of experience in Washington, Inhofe said at a news conference Wednesday.

1 … 2 … 3 … 4 … 5 … 6 … 7 … 8 … 9 … 10 …Head explosionScott Pruitt, you might remember, is the subject of at least twelve federal investigations for abusing his position in various ways, including his travel and security costs, purchase of a home in Oklahoma from a lobbyist using a shell corporation and potential use of his office to enrich himself. And Inhofe finds nothing ‘seriously wrong’ with any of this???  I think we need to take a closer look at Senator Inhofe, don’t you?

For starters, Jim Inhofe is 83 years old and since he does not come up for re-election until 2020, so he will be 85 at the time of the 2020 election.  It is time for this hombre to r-e-t-i-r-e!

Inhofe is the most conservative member of both the House and Senate, according to the 2017 GovTrack report card.

Inhofe bookInhofe is a climate change denier extraordinaire.  He once compared the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to a “Gestapo bureaucracy”.  He even wrote a book in 2012, The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future.  The theme of his book is a global warming conspiracy theory that through worldwide acts of professional and criminal misconduct, the science behind global warming has been invented or distorted for ideological or financial reasons, or both.  Ironically, he sits on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.  And Inhofe has been a recipient of monies from the fossil fuel industry.  Per the Center for Responsive Politics, Inhofe has received over $529,000 from the oil and gas industry since 2012.  Inhofe’s book, by the way, has only a 2.5 star ranking on Amazon and the hardback now sells for $1.50.

At a House committee hearing in 2011, Inhofe was questioned by committee member Jay Inslee, who mentioned that perhaps the scientists were more knowledgeable than he, Inhofe.  Inhofe disagreed because, he said, he had already given “five speeches on the science”.  🙄

Now, all that is certainly enough to qualify him for the first Idiot of the Week award of 2018, but Senator Inhofe has so kindly obliged by giving us even more reason …

In a Senate speech, Inhofe said that America should base its Israel policy on the text of the Bible, then he proceeded to quote said text.  Wait … isn’t ours a secular government?  He also said in a speech to the Senate in 2002 that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were a form of divine retribution against the U.S. for failing to defend Israel.  Oh for …

Inhofe is a bigot.  He has earned 0% in every one of his terms on Human Rights Campaign’s position scorecard.  He is in favor of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, against adding sexual orientation to the definition of hate crimes, and voted against prohibiting job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  Wait … this is that religious man who believes we should rely on the Bible?  Isn’t there something somewhere in the Bible about loving everyone?  I’m confused.  Inhofe’s office has said that he will not hire gay staffers.  (Perhaps he has a sign on the door like Mr. Jeff Amyx?)

Now for the really fun one.  Inhofe is a licensed pilot (yes, airplanes, Joe!).  On October 21, 2010, at the age of 75, Inhofe landed his Cessna on a closed runway at a south Texas airport, scattering construction workers who ran for their lives. In a recorded telephone call, the men’s supervisor told the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that Inhofe “scared the crap out of” the workers, adding that the Cessna “damn near hit” a truck. In response to the incident, Inhofe stated that he “did nothing wrong”, and accused the FAA of “agency overreach” and causing a “feeling of desperation” in him.  Ayyyyy … pobrecito!inhofe-pruittInhofe has made, on taxpayer’s dollar, more than 140 trips to Africa over the past 20 years.  He admits that much of the reason for his trips was on behalf of The Fellowship, a Christian organization.

There’s more, but I think you get the general idea.  My biggest regret is that Inhofe will not be up for re-election this year, for I really think this dinosaur needs to GO!

village-idiot-2And so, Senator Jim Inhofe, for all of the above reasons and for just generally being a bigot and supporting the destruction of our home, the planet earth, I now award you with Filosofa’s Idiot of the Week award!  Please hang it somewhere that you can show it off to your visitors in the Capitol!

(I really must do these more often … I had forgotten how much fun they are!)

ENOUGH!!!!

Alright, since Trump so loves to use those words, “You’re Fired”, then it’s time he used them to Mr. Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  NOW!!!  This man is out of control, treating our tax money as his personal expense account and meanwhile doing nothing … absolutely nothing … positive toward the protection of the environment!  I thought I was done writing about him a few weeks ago, thought surely he would be fired within the week, but that has not happened, so I am baaaaaccckkk.

Despite all the scandals that just keep coming, yesterday afternoon Trump praised him!

“… EPA is doing really, really well, someone has to say that about you a little bit, you know that, Scott. People are really impressed with the job that’s being done at the EPA.”

Hello???  Excuse me???  What job?  What EPA, for that matter?  Just two days ago, it was reported that Pruitt had enlisted an EPA aide to help his wife Marlyn obtain and open a Chick-Fil-A franchise.  How does this pertain to the business of the Environmental Protection of the United States?  How does it pertain to anything other than increasing Scott and Marlyn’s wealth, which is already substantial, at least as compared to yours or mine.

When asked about the misuse of agency staff for a personal mission, Pruitt sounded just like Kellyanne, talking in circles all around the issue …

“I think with great change comes, you know, I think, opposition. I mean there’s significant change that’s happening for us, not only at the EPA but across this Administration, and it’s needed, and, uh, look, my wife is an entrepreneur herself. I love, she loves, we love Chick-Fil-A as a, as a franchise of faith, and it’s one of the best in the country, and so, that’s something we were very excited about.”

SOOOO????  I love P.F. Chang’s, too, but I’m not going to lie, cheat and steal to own one!  I will just go eat there once a month or so, and pay my check and leave a tip like everybody else.

But it gets even better … and remember, all this is just in the last week.  Prior to last week, he already had twelve federal investigations into his activities!  TWELVE!!!In December, Pruitt attended a University of Kentucky basketball game as a guest of coal baron Joseph W. Craft III, who has been lobbying the EPA on behalf of his coal company, Alliance Resource Partners.  Pruitt and Craft have met no less than seven times in a fourteen-month period.

And also last week, it was reported that Mr. Pruitt had visited a jewelry store in Washington where he spent $3,230 of taxpayer money!  What, you ask, did he buy?  Well, $1,560 went to buy 12 fountain pens.  $130 per pen.  WHY???  I buy a 12-pack of pens for $5.99 and they write just fine!  And anyway, doesn’t the GAO provide such things as pens, legal pads and toilet tissue?  I do not know quite what the other $1,670 was spent on, but we are told it was “gifts to the Administrator’s foreign counterparts and dignitaries upon his meeting with them.”Prior to any of the above, Pruitt was already under investigation for a host of potential crimes, including frequent first-class personal travel at taxpayer’s expense, inappropriate relations with representatives of the coal mining industry, unnecessary sweeping 24-hour security measures that have cost the EPA roughly $3.5 million, and more.

And amid all the scandal, Pruitt’s top aide, Millan Hupp, resigned on Monday – Friday will be her last day.  Hupp, as the director of scheduling and advance, has been entangled in many of the scandals dogging Pruitt.  She was one of two aides who received hefty salary bumps, even after the White House refused Pruitt’s request for raises. She recently testified to the House Oversight Committee that she regularly spent her days doing personal tasks for Pruitt, from hunting for housing to calling the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., in order to inquire about purchasing a used mattress.  Yes, you heard me right … for some unknown reason, Herr Pruitt wished to buy a used mattress from Trump Towers.  Ick. Pruitt’s top legal counsel, Sarah Greenwalt, also gave her resignation.

The democrats in Congress have long been fed-up with Pruitt’s costly antics, but this week, even the republicans are tired of it.

“I’m not going to come down here, just because he happens to be a nominee of a president I support or a nominee from my party, and try to defend the indefensible. I thought that Mr. Pruitt would have learned his lesson.” – Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana

“Some are true; some are not true. Whether he can weather the storm, I’m not sure. The accusations are all troubling. They are.” – Republican Senator Jim Inhofe of OklahomaThis man thinks the U.S. Treasury is his own personal bank account.  Remember Trump’s claim that he would “drain the swamp”.  Instead, he put Pruitt, the granddaddy of all alligators in it and feeds him well every day, at the White House mess, as it happens.  According to an article in Politico, Pruitt has been eating at the White House mess nearly every day … so often that he has been asked to cut back and “please eat elsewhere sometimes.”

It is past time for Scott Pruitt to hear the words, “You’re Fired”.  It is past time for We The People to demand accountability, starting with this very worst example of corruption, thievery and violations of ethics.  And it is far past time for Congress to demand that the Director of the EPA be fired without severance!  No, Donald Trump, Scott Pruitt is not doing an “impressive” job at the EPA, for he is far too busy wheeling and dealing, and wasting OUR money!