Mar 222017
 

Another day, another nickel!  I am still feeling a little lost time wise since my mother passed.  I know things will right themselves before too long, if no other reason than I have taxes to do for the end of April, and of course I still have my mother's estate to prepare.  I am running into a few bumps in the road estate wise, but nothing I can't handle.  The rest of the week is busy but I hope to be back with another OT.

Short Takes

YouTube — Last Week Tonight with John Oliver – World War Trump (HBO) March 15, 2017              

The Atlantic — As it turns out, this was only a warm-up for the dual press conference the two leaders held later Friday afternoon, during which Merkel stood beside Trump as he ridiculed a German reporter, lied about his statements on his baseless conspiracy theory that President Obama surveilled him, and refused to back down on claims that have set off a diplomatic incident with the United Kingdom.

The fact that it might be a tense conversation was clear from the two leaders’ opening statements. Trump, during his, once again complained about the cost of NATO. “I reiterated to Chancellor Merkel my strong support for NATO as well as the need for our NATO allies to pay their fair share for the cost defense,” he said. “Many nations owe vast sums of money from past years and it is very unfair to the United States. These nations must pay what they owe.”

As for Merkel, she used her own statement to issue a veiled scolding for Trump, who previously said she was “ruining” Germany with a “catastrophic mistake” of an open-door refugee policy. “I've always said it's much, much better to talk to one another and not about one another, and I think our conversation proved this,” Merkel said.  …

During the press conference, the American journalist Mark Halperin asked Merkel a question about whether she thought Trump’s “different style” than past president was good for the world. The chancellor gamely tried to answer.

“For Germany I can say, well people are different, people have different abilities, different traits of character, have different origins, have found their way into politics along different pathways,” she said through a translator. “Which, well, that is diversity, which is good! Sometimes it’s difficult to find compromises, but that’s what we’ve been elected for.”

The fact that Merkel had to work hard to say something diplomatic in response to such a softball question said a great deal about the press conference. But give the chancellor credit for effort—Trump didn’t even bother to try diplomacy.

Drumpf knows nothing of diplomacy.  He is like the proverbial "bull in a china shop" and it is quite obvious that he doesn't care.  The National Post ran an article in which it recorded the following,

President Donald Trump said Saturday that Germany owes "vast sums of money" to NATO and the U.S. "must be paid more" for providing defence, reiterating his stance that European allies need to end their part of the bargain if they are to continue benefiting from the military alliance."

It is quite clear that Drumpf does not know or understand the funding formula that was agreed upon in previous years.  The NATO agreement was signed on 4 April 1949 and constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party.  I probably know more about NATO than Drumpf does, and that can't be good.  In the picture, this handshake is the most awkward looking handshake.  Drumpf looks like a downright nasty beast.

msn.com (USA Today) — The Pleasant Run Elementary students had just won a robotics challenge at Plainfield High School, and the students — new to bot competition this year — were one step closer to the Vex IQ State Championship.

The team is made up of 9- and 10-year-olds. Two are African American and three are Latino.

As the group, called the Pleasant Run PantherBots, and their parents left the challenge last month in Plainfield, Ind., competing students from other Indianapolis-area schools and their parents were waiting for them in the parking lot.

“Go back to Mexico!” two or three kids screamed at their brown-skin peers and their parents, according to some who were there.

More despicable behaviour as a result of Drumpf's targeting of minorities.  What well adjusted young people that are putting the hate behind them and enjoying the learning experience and the competition.

Washington Post — On the 60th day of his presidency came the hardest truth for Donald Trump.

He was wrong.

James B. Comey — the FBI director whom Trump celebrated on the campaign trail as a gutsy and honorable “Crooked Hillary” truth-teller — testified under oath Monday what many Americans had already assumed: Trump had falsely accused his predecessor of wiretapping his headquarters during last year’s campaign.

Trump did not merely allege that former president Barack Obama ordered surveillance on Trump Tower, of course. He asserted it as fact, and then reasserted it, and then insisted that forthcoming evidence would prove him right.

But in Monday’s remarkable, marathon hearing of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Comey said there was no such evidence. Trump’s claim, first made in a series of tweets on March 4 at a moment when associates said he was feeling under siege and stewing over the struggles of his young presidency, remains unfounded.  

Comey did not stop there. He confirmed publicly that the FBI was investigating possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and associates with Russia, part of an extraordinary effort by an adversary to influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. election in Trump’s favor.

I'll bet that "He was wrong." was hard to swallow for narcissistic Drumpf!  . . . or did he really hear and understand it?  Will he demand Comey's resignation?  Who knows.  My bet says he will bring it up again.  . . . and again . . . and again.  He doesn't know when to quit!  After all the Monday drama, in dire need of some adulation to feed his narcissistic soul, Drumpf headed out to Missouri for yet another rally that is nothing more than a love fest so his supporters thinking he is looking after them.  Or should I say to fleece his flock?! 

YouTube — The Most Telling Thing About the FBI’s Probe into Trump | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann | GQ  

Keith hits it out of the park, doesn't he!

YouTube — The Only True Surprise? Trump’s an Idiot | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann | GQ              

Another fine piece by Keith.  "These people are idiots!"  Truer words have not been spoken!

 

Resist and Persist!!!

 

My Universe — This gives new meaning to going postal!

 

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Mar 172017
 

Happy St Paddy's Day

Well tomorrow is St Paddy's Day and the green beer and blarney will be overflowing.  You certainly should be familiar with blarney after listening to Drumpfenfarten and his minions.  So dust off your dancing shoes because tomorrow it is time for an Irish jig!

Jig Zone Puzzle — It took me 4:43 (average 7:27).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

I enjoy doing these puzzles so much that I thought I'd throw one in from time to time.  I will be choosing a puzzle that we haven't, to the best of my memory, had before.

Short Takes

The New Yorker — Notching the first major achievement of his Presidency, Donald Trump has broken the world record for unconstitutional travel bans, the White House confirmed on Wednesday.

In an official statement announcing the new world record, the White House called Trump’s second unconstitutional ban “especially impressive” because it came only thirty-eight days after his first.

PHOTOGRAPH BY OLIVIER DOULIERY / BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY

“In addition to the world record for unconstitutional travel bans, President Trump has also smashed the speed record for signing them,” the statement read.

Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, touted the new world record in a press briefing that sometimes resembled a victory lap.

“After the first unconstitutional travel ban, a lot of people questioned whether the President could follow it up with another unconstitutional one so quickly,” a gloating Spicer said. “I think he silenced a lot of doubters today.”

Does Drumpf do anything that is not unconstitutional!  This smells a lot like straight reporting Andy!

OtherWords.org —

Khalil Bendib/ OtherWords.org

Having only recently discovered Khalil Bendib's work, I find it quite good and as JD remarked on the last one, worth more than a thousand words.

Common Dreams — Just as his unverified wiretapping claims were seemingly dispelled, President Donald Trump stuck his foot further in the mire and is now facing accusations he may have let slip highly classified information during a televised interview Wednesday evening.

When asked by Fox News host Tucker Carlson why he hasn't gone to the agencies he is "in charge of," to "gather evidence" to support his claim that President Barack Obama tapped Trump Tower, Trump said: "Because I don't want to do anything that's going to violate any strength of an agency. You know we have enough problems. And, by the way, the CIA—I just want people to know—the CIA was hacked and a lot of things taken. That was during the Obama years. That was not during us."

That information, it appears, was not for the public.

On Thursday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, which has asked the administration to provide evidence of the alleged tap, accused Trump of "leaking" classified information.

Click through for the rest of the read.  Drumpfenfarten would argue red is green, and green is red.  He hasn't a clue what he is talking about.  Evidence?  I doubt there is any that is credible, and the ravings of a twitterhead should not be considered credible.  Even members of his own party are calling him out.

Huffington Post — A presidential budget isn’t so much a policy proposal as a statement of an administration’s moral vision for the country. The budget presented by President Donald Trump on Thursday is a document fundamentally unconcerned with the government’s role in improving the plight of its most vulnerable citizens.

That message is clear in the budget’s topline proposals and its deeper details. Trump calls for a $54 billion boost in defense spending and immigration enforcement. More border patrol agents, more Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, more fighter jets that don’t work, and a border wall with Mexico. To offset those fresh expenses, he wants to take an ax to a host of anti-poverty programs ― everything from public housing to food programs helping elderly people with disabilities.

This was an ideological choice. When explaining why it would eliminate a $35 million affordable housing program, the administration declared the endeavor simply wasn’t the government’s business: “This program is duplicative of efforts funded by philanthropy and other more flexible private sector investments.”  …

That Trump’s budget is devoid of even modest nods to social welfare is not something that the administration is trying to hide. Instead, they’ve turned the argument on its head. At a press briefing Thursday afternoon, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney was asked how he could justify cutting programs for the elderly and the poor while ramping up spending in other areas. In response, he insisted that, on the contrary, taking food from the mouths of hungry children should be seen as an act of “compassion." 

“I think it’s one of the most compassionate things we can do,” Mulvaney said, referring to reducing anti-poverty spending. The government, he declared, has an urgent moral priority to ensure that “the single mom of two in Detroit” doesn’t pay for programs that don’t serve “a proper function.”

For a so called moral document, this budget is very immoral!  Since when does taking food from hungry children constitute compassion?  And Meals on Wheels benefits the elderly and those with disabilities who cannot get out. It is also a social lifeline and contributes to better health outcomes.  This administration is morally bankrupt and the budget proposal proves it.  I wonder if the Republican Congress will  rubber stampthe proposal.  There are indications that not all are onboard the Drumpfenfarten train.

 

 

My Universe —

 

 

 

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Dec 112016
 

If you read the monthly reports, you will find that Politics Plus readers tend to be older, poor, and more female that male (although of course both are represented.)  Those of us living in the Unitd States who fit that description are probably living mostly or totally on the earned benefits of Social Security.  I know I am.

So I thought that the content of this article from Mother Jones should be posted to Politics Plus.

Now, it's nothing new that Republicans want to cut Social Security (or should I say gut Social Security?)  That has been true since it was created in 1935.  But usually, when government programs are cut that people depend on, current recipients at least are "grandfathered" in so that the cuts will apply to future beneficiaries.  Well, that's not exactly true of this bill.

The Mother Jones article includes the complete first draft of the bill, but also refers to Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo, from whom I'd like to quote:

[Y]ou're out of luck even if you're a current beneficiary….  [R]eviewing the summary of the GOP bill, keep the following in mind. If you've been working for any number of years, but especially if you've been working for two or three decades, you've been paying in not only money for current beneficiaries but additional money which was invested in US government bonds to make it possible for Social Security to pay benefits of Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers….  This plan appears to foresee the government never paying that back to Social Security. In other words, your payroll taxes have been socking away additional money to cover the growing senior population. But this bill says too bad. That money goes for high income tax cuts.

Nancy Pelosi had this to say:  "Apparently nothing upsets House Republicans like the idea of hard-working people getting to enjoy a secure and dignified retirement."  Yes, she went into more detail, but that sums it up.

Even Yahoo! Finance has a scary article: 

The bill introduced by Johnson, who was recently acting Chair of the Ways and Means committee, slashes benefits, adds means testing, and would raise the retirement age from 67 to 69.  For most workers, the bill would cut Social Security benefits substantially. As Michael Linden, associate director for tax and budget policy at Center for American Progress, pointed out on Twitter, a letter from Social Security’s Office of the Actuary calculated workers making around $50,000 would see checks shrink by between 11% and 35%.  Nearly every income bracket would see a reduction….

The Mother Jones article is the only one I found which has the actual complete text of the draft bill.  It is 54 pages long.  I haven't finished reading it myself yet – I am still dreading it.  But I wanted to get this up so we can all share.

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Feb 122016
 

I awoke very late after chasing someone's pet rat all night long!  The furry critter kept getting away from me, so I chased it.  I finally woke up to find myself cuddling one of my furbabes who bears no resemblance to a rat.  Tomorrow is busy with physio and teaching.

Short Takes

Huffington Post  Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy was charged in federal court on Thursday with conspiracy, assault on a federal officer and obstruction of justice in connection with the 2014 standoff on federal land near his ranch.

Bundy was arrested on Wednesday night in Portland, Oregon, near the site of another standoff that previously included his sons.  …

The takeover at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which began on Jan. 2, was sparked by the return to prison of two Oregon ranchers convicted of setting fires that spread to federal property in the vicinity of the refuge.

The standoff, which was originally led by brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy, came to a head after the arrest on Wednesday in Portland of their father, Cliven Bundy. 

My first thought, I hope the cases against these characters is rock solid.  In my mind, they have demonstrated that their "rights" supersede those of everyone else.  I guess only time will tell.

Common Dreams — In a move being hailed as both "defiant" and common sense, Democratic lawmakers in the U.S. House on Thursday introduced the "Keep It in the Ground" Act, which would permanently block all new fossil fuel leases on public lands and waters.

"Anyone who does the math of climate change knows we need to keep most fossil fuel underground," said Bill McKibben. (Photo: kris krüg/flickr/cc/with overlay)

The bill, introduced by California Rep. Jared Huffman and cosponsored by 16 colleagues, specifically bars new leases and ends non-producing leases for coal, oil, gas, oil shale, and tar sands on all federal lands, as well as for offshore drilling in the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico. Further, the bill outright prohibits offshore drilling in the Arctic and the Atlantic.

Although this action is sorely overdue, this has about as much chance of suceeding as a snowball in hell with the current Republican dominated Congress.  Hopefully, that dominance won't last forever.

Mother Jones — Ted Nugent is no stranger to mounting outrageous defenses of the gun lobby. But this week, the musician's predictable inflammatory language reached new levels of offensive starting on Monday with the following anti-Semitic image posted to his Facebook page:

ted nugent rant

With a long list of seditious and other questionable acts, Nugent, the Pied Piper of Offensiveness, has outdone himself this time.  I didn't think that was possible!  Thanks to Cal M at Care2, here is a petition to TELL THE NRA: REMOVE TED NUGENT FROM YOUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS.

Common Dreams — The Pentagon budget the Obama administration unveiled this week calls for quadrupling spending on efforts to counter Russia.

The money would move more troops, tanks, and artillery into position near the Russia border. This last Obama budget would also fund another installment in a $1 trillion and 30-year plan to “modernize” our nuclear arsenal with new land-based missiles, bombers, and submarines.  

4. We can’t afford it.
We’re now spending more than the next 13 countries put together, more than three times as much as China, and nine times as much as Russia. Meanwhile the water crisis in Flint, Michigan points to the consequences of our neglect of our country’s infrastructure. According to the National Priorities Project, foregoing the cost of beefing up our nuclear arsenal for one year would enable the U.S. to send nearly 600,000 more students to college for four years. Instead we want to spend more to rekindle the Cold War?

Click through for the other 5 reasons.  The proposed US budget would include funds for the nuclear weapons arsenal. Isn't the US a signatory to the Treaty for the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons?  Yes, and this appears to fly in the face of that treaty.  If the Republicans actually take the time to view the budget proposal, they are likely to start licking their chops.

My Universe

Morning

I you can't go around, and you can't go under, go over but be nice about it!

Maxine

Dedicated to all the Big Mouth award winners and their big mouth friends!

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Dec 262015
 

I’ve heard a lot of crowing about how funding for Planned Parenthood survived the budget deal passed by Congress.  Don’t misunderstand me.  I’ll all for Planned Parenthood.  It’s one of few organizations that received a small year-end gift from me, in spite of all my medical expenses.  However, I almost wish their funding had been cut, instead of a couple of the provisions that Republicans slimed in there.

1226politicsdarkmoneyAs untold millions of dollars pour into the shadowy campaign troughs of the presidential candidates, voters need to be reminded of the rosy assumptions of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that legitimized the new spending frenzy.

In allowing unlimited spending on candidates by corporations and unions, the court’s decision, in 2010, blithely pronounced, “A campaign finance system that pairs corporate independent expenditures with effective disclosure has not existed before today.” Effective disclosure exists?

The court majority in the 5-to-4 decision should have been watching this month when the Republican-controlled Congress, which has firmly bottled up all campaign disclosure legislation, voted to further cripple disclosure at two of its most vital points.

In the new budget bill, Republicans inserted a provision blocking the Internal Revenue Service from creating rules to curb the growing abuse of the tax law by thinly veiled political machines posing as “social welfare” organizations. These groups are financed by rich special-interest donors who do not have to reveal their identities under the tax law. So much for effective disclosure at the I.R.S.

In another move to keep the public blindfolded about who is writing big corporate checks for federal candidates, the Republicans barred the Securities and Exchange Commission from finalizing rules requiring corporations to disclose their campaign spending to investors. It was Citizens United that foolishly envisioned a world in which: “Shareholders can determine whether their corporation’s political speech advances the corporation’s interest in making profits, and citizens can see whether elected officials are ‘in the pocket’ of so-called moneyed interests.”… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <NY Times>

Everything Republicans do is intended to further one of two goals.  The lesser goal is the transfer of wealth from the poor and middle classes to the 1%.  The second is the establishment of a permanent Republican Reich, a totalitarian plutocracy in which ece3ctions exist for show only.  These provisions support both goals.  To clarify my earlier statement, how long do you think Planned Parenthood funding will last, is Republicans succeed in establishing their permanent Republican Reich?

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Nov 202015
 

It looks like I’ll have another busy day, as both OT and PT are coming this afternoon.   I took it easy this morning and only made two laps.

Short Takes:

From YouTube: Merkley decries Republican efforts to slip Wall St. favors into must-pass spending bills

 

Oregon leads the way! “Must-pass” spending bill s must not pass, until Republican attempts to enable Banksters to prey on YOU are removed.

From Daily Kos: Since the map went live, Oregon has gone green, so to speak, on this map. And so has Colorado. You red states? Keep on cringing and cowering.

1120DaeshStates

I had no doubt that Oregon would go green and refuse to surrender to the Daesh and their helpers to spread terror, the Republican Party.

From Media Matters: O’Reilly Once Said Terror Attack Would Get Bush Reelected, Now Says It Would Tarnish Obama As Worst U.S. President.

Barf Bag Alert!!

 

Is there any question as to why I call him O’Lielly? He’s a senior propagandist for the Republican Reichsministry of propaganda, Faux Noise!

Cartoon:

1120Cartoon

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