Snarky Snippets — Thoughts on Stuff

Every now and then I let my mind run loose … take it to the park, unsnap the ol’ leash, and just give it free rein to run amok.  This happened today and the ol’ mind took off at warp speed.  It was a while before I saw it again, and when it returned, it was more than a little bedraggled, and was covered in snark.  And so … tonight you get a dose of whatever came from my mind … you may want to don your pith helmets …


And the Most Admired Woman is …

Michelle ObamaThat’s right, folks … none other than the role model of class, style and grace, Michelle Obama!!!

Barack ObamaAnd to really ice the cake, the Most Admired Man in 2018 … none other than the male counterpart role model of class, style and grace, President Barack Obama!!!

I cannot think of two people more worthy of the honour.  What does gall me, however, is that Donald Trump came in second for Most Admired Man … why???  However, even so there is a bright spot, for he is only the second president not to win the top honour during his presidency … the other was Gerald Ford.  Eat your heart out, Donnie!!!


Abortion

It isn’t my intent to have another discussion on when a cell becomes a life … there are plenty of those going ‘round and frankly, each side continues to make the same points, and nobody is listening to the other side, so why even bother?  But I have some questions for those who are so vehemently against abortion based on their religion.

I want you to think about seven-year-old Jakelin Caal and eight-year-old Felipe Gomez Alonzo (shown above).  These two children both died in the past week while in custody of the United States government.  They died because of inadequate care and insufficient medical treatment.  Both of their deaths were preventable.  These were children, not fetuses.  Growing, living, breathing children in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP).  And yet, I don’t see people protesting, carrying signs and demanding that the children in custody of the U.S. government, children who have in many cases been taken from their parents, be treated with care and compassion.  Where is the outrage of those who call themselves “right-to-lifers”?  Whose life?  Is it only unborn white babies whose lives you will fight for?

And the next question … who or what gives you the right to determine what is right for the rest of us?  If you believe abortion is wrong and you don’t choose to have one, fine.  Don’t have one.  This isn’t Nazi Germany (yet) and nobody will force you. Have 20 children for all I care, but do not ever try to impose your values on others.  Not everyone believes in the same god you do, not everyone shares your set of values.  And … AND … not everyone has the same opportunities you have such that they can raise a child, afford food, medical care, clothing and shelter to keep that child safe, happy & healthy.  Don’t judge others’ situations using your own as a moral compass.

Adoption, you say?  Well, let see … domestically, approximately 99,900 children were adopted last year (another 35,000 were adopted from foreign countries).  Okay, so almost 100,000 kids adopted … sounds good, right?  Wrong.  On any given day there are some 438,000 children in foster care, and in the course of a year, some 687,000 children spend at least some time in the system.

My point?  Two of them, actually.  1) No single life has more value than another.  Those who are determined that a fetus qualifies as a life should be equally concerned and willing to act on behalf of those immigrant children at our southern border, the children being killed all over the world – in Syria, Greece, Saudi Arabia.  And those people should be out there advocating for children stuck in a foster care system that barely functions.  2) Freedom of choice belongs to each of us.  I will not force you to have an abortion, but don’t tell me that I cannot until you have lived in my shoes.


Statistics, statistics, statistics …

Politico published a set of year-end data that can be used to fact-check some of Donald Trump’s braggadocio.  I found these statistics fairly interesting and thought you might too.  Naturally, I couldn’t resist adding a bit of snark

  • Number of campaign rallies Trump held in 2018: 44 (Note that the next presidential election will not take place until November 3rd of 2020 … more than two years from the time these rallies were held)
  • Number of times he visited one of his golf clubs: 67 (Remember how he said Obama played too much golf and that when elected, he, Trump, would be too busy working to have time for golf?  Ahem …)
  • Number of war zones visited: 1 (And that was only because the heat in the kitchen at home was getting to be too much for him.  When he went to Iraq earlier this week, rather than a positive talk focusing on the troops, he lied to them about their pay raise, and made the rest of his speech all about him.  It was a photo op, that’s all)
  • Number of 2018 general election candidates Trump endorsed: 90. Percentage of those candidates who won: 55%.  (Some candidates, wisely, asked him to stay the hell out of their states)
  • Percentage increase in the number of tweets from 2017 to 2018: 32% (He has tweeted more than the first forty-three presidents all combined!!!)
  • Percentage increase in references to “witch hunt” from 2017 to 2018: 620% (Holy Smokes, Batman!!!  Does this dude ever w-o-r-k???)
  • Number of Cabinet secretaries who were removed or quit: 10 (And those were the lucky ones who got out while they still had at least a modicum of sanity)
  • Percentage of Trump’s executive staff that has turned over in first two years: 65% (In most corporations, a manager with a turnover rate of 65% would have been long since out the door!)
  • Number of presidents who’ve had more than one chief of staff in their first two years: 4. Number of presidents other than Trump who have had three: 0  (He certainly is a record-setting president, isn’t he?)
  • Percentage increase in U.S. trade deficit since Trump took office: 18% (Hmmm … seems I remember something about how he was so appalled by the trade deficit under Obama and he, Trump, was going to reduce it?  Perhaps I imagined it.)

Yessir, a record-setting president … too bad none of his records are good for the country, yes?


And so, I shall save any remaining snark for another day.  Have a lovely Friday, my friends!

Strength, Not Fear; Love, Not Hate

On Tuesday, a man in a rented Home Depot truck plowed into bicyclists and pedestrians just blocks away from the World Trade Center, killing eight people and injuring more than a dozen.  The man was Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, 29, a Uzbekistan native who came to the US legally in 2010. It is said today that he had been planning this attack for weeks, and that he said he carried it out under the name of Daesh (aka ISIS).  Donald Trump, predictably, wasted no time politicizing the tragedy to further his own agenda with the following tweets:

“Senator Chuck Schumer helping to import Europes problems” said Col.Tony Shaffer. We will stop this craziness!  @foxandfriends

We are fighting hard for Merit Based immigration, no more Democrat Lottery Systems. We must get MUCH tougher (and smarter).  @foxandfriends

The terrorist came into our country through what is called the “Diversity Visa Lottery Program,” a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based.

I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!

We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!

There is much that could be said here, such as that Trump has no understanding of the root causes of terrorism, causes to which the United States has contributed.  But my point today is that this is not a time to politicize such an event, further adding to the divisiveness of this nation at a time when unity should be called for.

We should not be surprised by his inappropriate behaviour, however.  Remember back in June, immediately following a terrorist attack in London, when Trump then attacked London Mayor Sadiq Khan, tweeting …

At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is “no reason to be alarmed!”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio both say they have not been contacted directly by Trump, and both are quite content to leave it that way.  Cuomo said, of Trump’s tweets …

“The president’s tweets, I think, were not helpful. I don’t think they were factual. They tended to point fingers and politicize the situation. His tweet wasn’t even accurate, as far as I’m concerned. That was a bipartisan law that was passed that had basically no relevance to the facts of this situation. … As I said before, you play into the terrorists to the extent you disrupt and divide and frighten people in this society. The tone now should be the exact opposite.”

I couldn’t have said it better.  What do terrorists want?  They want attention and they want to create an atmosphere of fear.  Trump certainly gives them both.

It is wrong to politicize this situation.  Trump’s job, if only he would do it, is to bring unity, to express compassion and concern, but not to jump to conclusions without having information, not to further divide the nation by turning it into a partisan issue, attacking a well-respected senator.  Is “attack” the only mode this ‘man’ knows?

I keep thinking of how President Obama, were he still in office, would be responding.  I think he would have personally called both Cuomo and De Blasio, and I think his speech would be much more moderated, more calming rather than trying to stir fear.  After the aforementioned London attack, here is how President Obama reacted:

“My heart goes out to the victims and their families in London. No act of terror can shake the strength and resilience of our British ally.”

That, my friends, is how a president should respond. I miss Barack Obama, especially at times like this.  That said, my heart goes out to the good people of New York City and the family & friends of the victims of this tragedy.  But we must not allow the event nor the rhetoric to instill fear in us.  No nationality, no religion, no single group of people can be blamed nor held to account for the actions of one individual.  This man did what he did for reasons we may never understand, but his actions are not representative of the religion Islam, nor are they representative of people from the Middle East.  Our only reaction must be empathy, humanity and kindness.  Anything else lowers us to the standard of those who prefer hate to love.  Give someone a special hug today. Practice strength, not fear; love, not hate.

The Latest Playground Feud …

kitten-yarn-2The unraveling continues in Washington … it reminds me of a tangled ball of yarn in the hands of a playful kitten.  A number of members of Congress have recently announced that they will not seek re-election next year, one of whom is Senator Bob Corker, a republican from Tennessee.

Those who are ‘jumping ship’ have given a variety of reasons, but the reality appears to be that they are not finding it easy to work with Donald Trump, are not fond of the bullying and browbeating tactics he uses when he does not get his way, and are disturbed by the chaos that defines the present administration.  I can relate and I would have resigned long before now … probably on January 21st.

I am not a fan of Bob Corker because of his climate change skepticism and socially conservative ideologies, but he is not the worst of the lot, either.  And he certainly did not deserve the scornful tweets Trump issued this morning:

“Senator Bob Corker “begged” me to endorse him for re-election in Tennessee. I said “NO” and he dropped out (said he could not win without…” – 9:59 AM – Oct 8, 2017

“..my endorsement). He also wanted to be Secretary of State, I said “NO THANKS.” He is also largely responsible for the horrendous Iran Deal!” – 10:09 AM – Oct 8, 2017

“…Hence, I would fully expect Corker to be a negative voice and stand in the way of our great agenda. Didn’t have the guts to run!” – 10:13 AM – Oct 8, 2017

Sigh.  The little boy who was placed in a position far beyond his intellectual capabilities, tweets again.  Wouldn’t it be lovely to have an adult in the White House?

Bob Corker earned a measure of respect from yours truly, however, with his comeback:

“It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.” – 11:13 AM – Oct 8, 2017

You have to love that one, folks!

corker

Senator Bob Corker

Trump just shot himself in the foot, though. He is expected to make the announcement next week that he will de-certify the international nuclear deal with Iran, saying it is not in the national interest of the United States.  (Where he gets these notions, I have no idea, for there is no basis for this move.  Does he just feel the need to be stirring things up at all times?)  Senator Corker happens to be the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and therefore the leading voice on Capitol Hill determining the future of the Iran nuclear deal.

It should be noted that the Iran deal, by all accounts (except Trump’s) is working exactly as it was intended and Iran is living up to their part of the bargain.  It is an important pact in terms of peace in the Middle East and around the globe. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, General Joseph F. Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and others are in favour of leaving the agreement in place, saying it is working.  In fact, in August, 36 retired US generals and admirals published an open letter giving their full backing of the Iranian nuclear deal, hailing it as “the most effective means currently available to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.” The only reason I can see that Trump wants to scrap the deal is because President Obama had a hand in negotiating it.  Immature and very dangerous way of thinking … let us hope the cooler heads are able to prevail here.

I find it interesting that Trump supposedly penned a book titled, “The Art of the Deal”, when his negotiating skills, conversational skills, and ability to play nicely with others are all among the worst I have seen.  His idea of ‘deal-making’ appears to be somewhat along the lines of the proverbial ‘bull in a china shop’ … bluster, bullying and browbeating being his main tools of negotiation.

Corker also sits on the Senate Finance Committee, and as such will play a key role in the upcoming debate over taxes. The senator already has expressed some concerns with the Trump administration’s proposal on tax cuts.

According to the Washington Post …

“A Republican congressional official familiar with Trump and Corker’s recent conversations disputed each of the claims the president made in his tweets. Trump called Corker early last week and asked him to reconsider his decision not to seek reelection, according to this official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the private conversations. The official said the president also reaffirmed that he would have endorsed Corker had he decided to run again — which, the official added, was not the first time that Trump had extended such an offer of support.” – The Washington Post, 08 October 2017

So … who to believe?  Trump or Trump?  He contradicts himself often enough to make one wonder if he has some multiple personality disorder. Corker was a supporter of Trump’s election bid, and was said to be considered as a running mate at one time.  But the tides turned in August, after Corker criticized Trump’s response to the tragic white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, saying [Trump] has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful.”

And thus began the feud, if one would call it that.  It might be humorous, were it not so dangerous. Trump is apparently making decisions that affect not only the U.S., but every nation on the planet, based more on emotion than on intellect or thought.  He defies his own advisors and wastes his time harassing and alienating the very people he needs to be working with instead of against.

Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said on today’s Meet the Press, “I think it’s going to be fun to work with him [Corker], especially now that he’s announced that he’s not running for reelection, because I think it sort of unleashes him to do whatever and say whatever he wants to say.” Well, perhaps, but I might rather see an adult in the White House, working toward goals that are in the best interest of the nation and the world, rather than this petty, grade-school style bickering.

If there is anything good that may come of this it is that perhaps even more members of Congress will begin to shed their rose-coloured glasses and see Trump for what he is.  But don’t hold your breath, friends.

What’s Behind The Smokescreen???

Smokescreen:  a cloud of smoke created to conceal military operations; a ruse designed to disguise someone’s real intentions or activities.

Smoke and Mirrors … Trump’s most recent rude & crude tweets appear to have taken over the internet, airwaves, and every other communication venue.  I will address those in a later post, as I, too, have much to say about them, however … those tweets are NOT the most important news of the day.  In my last post, I informed you that your voting history is about to be made public information by the Trump administration, and now I have more news …

smokescreenAll week long, the big news has been the Senate’s so-called ‘health care’ bill, written by America’s #1 Obstructionist, Senator Mitch McConnell, with the assistance of only a handful of other senators. The bill, once revealed, showed that the Senate bill was just as egregious as was the House bill that passed the House in May.  In the Senate, however, it requires only three (3) republican senators to vote ‘nay’ and the bill is dead in the water.  As the week progressed, it became clear that the republicans would not have the votes to pass this abomination of a bill that would cost every single lower-to-middle class person in the country.  So, the vote was delayed, much to the chagrin of McConnell & Trump.

So what next?  Well, Congress is now on its week-long July 4th break, but Trumpty-Dumpty has a brilliant idea!  “If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!”  Excuse me?  Take away healthcare from some 20 million U.S. citizens and give nothing but a vague … “one of these days we might give you something”?  I leave it to your imagination what words initially came from these fingertips, words that I have since replaced with nicer ones. (I may have to have a new computer soon, as I have beaten this poor little Dell to death in the past 5 months!)

Congress is officially on break as of the close of Friday, and the Senate will return on Monday, 10 July for three weeks before taking a month-long break in August.  Must be nice, eh?

To legislate Trump’s ‘repeal, no replace’ plan would cause anywhere between 20 million and 32 million people to suddenly be cut off from affordable healthcare.  Trump and certain members of Congress claim that this is what their supporters want, that they ran on a platform of repealing ACA and that is what they must do, whether or not they can come up with a viable alternative.  I cry FOUL! Though not a Trump voter nor supporter, I am a voter, I am a citizen of this nation, and my voice counts just as much as does any single Trump supporter. And my voice says I do not wish to see one single person lose their medical insurance, have to pay higher premiums, or see a reduction in benefits.

The idea was apparently the brain-child of Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, and is also supported by Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska.  However, health industry officials are warning that overturning the existing law, which has extended insurance to roughly 20 million Americans and changed the rules under which insurance is offered across the country, would create chaos in a sector that accounts for one-sixth of the U.S. economy. The Kaiser Family Foundation polled this very approach back in March, and found only 19 percent of Americans favored repealing Obamacare first and then working to replace it. A 51% majority of Americans say they do not want ACA repealed at all, but simply prefer to work through the problems.

ACA  chart.pngOne theory is that repealing ACA now would force Democratic senators to work more closely with Republicans to craft a viable bill.  The fallacy in that, of course, is that the Republicans have made it clear they are gearing any health care bill toward the wealthy and to hell with the rest of us, and I cannot imagine that Democrats are going to compromise their values for that.  Even some of the high-ranking Republicans who have been working on the legislation rejected it as impractical, making it doubtful that they could even obtain the 51 votes required to repeal without replacing.

A group of Senate Republicans suggested Friday that McConnell should scale back or cancel the chamber’s month-long August recess, given the lack of progress they have made on not just health care but a tax-code overhaul, spending bills, the debt ceiling and a budget resolution. Personally, though I think a month-long recess is excessive, I would just as soon they stay on break throughout August and give us a break from their shenanigans.  Perhaps if they get a nice, long rest, they will be able to actually engage their brains and get something right in September.  Meanwhile, we must all hope that Trump doesn’t get a notion to repeal ACA on his own via ‘executive order’!!!

Oh What A Tangled Web ….

Early in December, Donald Trump, under fire for refusing to divest himself of his business interests in order to avoid a conflict of interest scandal, promised that he would hold a press conference to outline how he plans to distance himself from his businesses.  So, I did not write about it, thinking it would be better to wait and see what his ‘plan’ was before critiquing.  Then just three short days before the anticipated event, Trump cancelled the press conference, saying it would take place sometime in January.

Those of us who think about such things foresee great potential for serious conflict of interest, and today it appears those concerns are coming to roost.

“A source tells ThinkProgress that the Kuwaiti embassy, which has regularly held the event at the Four Seasons in Georgetown, abruptly canceled its reservation after members of the Trump Organization pressured the ambassador to hold the event at the hotel owned by the president-elect. The source, who has direct knowledge of the arrangements between the hotels and the embassy, spoke to ThinkProgress on the condition of anonymity because the individual was not authorized to speak publicly. ThinkProgress was also able to review documentary evidence confirming the source’s account.”

kuwait

Since I cannot confirm the veracity of the above story as yet, I will say no more, but will wait and see, for if true, as I believe it is, it will be only a matter of days before it becomes widely known. If that does not constitute conflict of interest, and outright abuse of power, then I don’t know what does. In Trump’s view, perhaps nothing does, as he said long ago that he is exempt from the law.

An article from Jim Zarroli, NPR business reporter, listed some questions journalists would have liked to ask Trump at the canceled press conference.  Since I think we all have a right to some answers, I will post a few of them here:

  • Why did your daughter sit in on a meeting with the Japanese prime minister, and did she discuss any business during the meeting?
  • Last month you had a phone call with the Argentine president. Is there any truth to the report that you spoke about stalled permits for a construction project you’re building in Buenos Aires? What is the status of the project now?
  • Why are you skeptical of the consensus of all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, that Russia interfered with the 2016 election process? You have repeatedly said that U.S. intelligence “has no idea” who hacked U.S. institutions. You have access to the classified evidence that supports the intelligence assessment. Do you possess evidence to the contrary?
  • Your former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, said recently the problem with the media is that they took the things you said too literally. Do you want the American people to take what you say and tweet literally? How can the American people judge whether you are being truthful if your own aides say you shouldn’t necessarily be taken literally?
  • President-elect, you have said repeatedly in speeches during your thank-you tour that you will bring the U.S. together — that we’re one country, and we need to be united. But at those same speeches, talk of unity is combined with statements that criticize, even mock those who opposed you. How does that serve the unity you say needs to come about? And can you please list some specific examples of things you will do to help that unity take place?

It has been 145 days since Trump last held a press conference, more than four months.  Are we to expect only 2-3 press conferences a year once he takes office?  However, he has tweeted 1,476 times. Unlike other ways of getting messages out, press conferences hold public officials more accountable to the American people because they have to answer questions in an uncontrolled environment. It is ironic that, during the campaign earlier this year, Trump criticized Hillary Clinton almost daily for not holding press conferences.  Double standard?  Pot calling the kettle … ?

On the one hand, it makes no difference whether he holds a press conference or not, because his speech is typically so disorganized that nobody comes away with a clear sense of what he said, and whether by tweet or press conference, the veracity of anything he says is questionable, at best.

On the other hand, it makes a lot of difference.  When he tweets, it is a closed discussion.  He can say what he will, but there are no journalists to ask him the tough questions such as those listed above, and it is not a venue that is likely to be widely viewed.  I do not follow his tweets, and only know one person who does, and that is so he can comment. Perhaps Trump’s followers hang on his every twit, but most of us do not.

Of course, his minions do hold daily teleconferences.  Here is an excerpt from a recent one:

“Let’s go ahead and open it up to a couple of questions,” Donald Trump spokesman Jason Miller announces at Monday’s installment.

Will the president-elect be staying at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida through the new year?

“Wouldn’t want to go and forecast next week’s schedule,” Miller replies.

Will Trump keep the Internal Revenue Service commissioner until his term ends?

“No decision yet on that front.”

Will Trump keep the D.C. “Taxation Without Representation” license plates on the presidential limousine?

“Don’t want to speculate on that.”

Will he name businessman Toby Neugebauer ambassador to Mexico?

“I don’t know if I’ll have an answer for you.”

Will Trump make any more public appearances while in Florida?

“Don’t want to speculate on that,” Miller says.

 

The Q&A is six minutes and 17 seconds old. “And that,” the operator says, “is all the time we have for questions.”

I am quite tired of Trump supporters who condemn those of us who expect some answers from this man-who-would-be-king.  We all need to remember one thing:  Donald Trump, upon taking office at noon on January 20th, is our employee.  He is not our boss, he is no better than us, and since we pay his salary, he works for us, therefore we have a right to demand answers.  So no, I do not think I will be shutting up any time soon.  I demand answers, I demand to know how he intends to address the concerns of the majority of us, those who did NOT vote for him.