Jun 182017
 

I’m waiting for Wendy to arrive to de-stink the sweaty TomCat and to help with chores, including the dreaded task.  If you played Fantasy Football in our league last year and have not told me whether you are still playing, please let me know.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:52 (average 4:53).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From YouTube (MoveOn Channel): A GOP Father’s Day

 

You know Bought Bitch Mitch and his goose-stepping criminal cronies will only make the bad things in the House Bill worse. RESIST!!

From Daily Kos: No experience? No problem! Donald Trump rewards loyalty above all else. Like a king doling out titles and land to loyalists, the U.S. is now Trump’s own personal fiefdom. He’s proved it once again by announcing he’s selected Lynne Patton for a key role at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development:

Patton was appointed Wednesday to head up the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Region II, which includes New York and New Jersey, where she’ll oversee distribution of billions of taxpayer dollars.

What makes her qualified for a job overseeing billions of taxpayer dollars? She coordinated Eric Trump’s wedding, not to mention some ‘celebrity’ golf tournaments.

What’s even sadder is that she may be the most qualified of all of Trump’s appointees. RESIST!!

From NY Times: Many governments must be thinking along the same lines, but few have spelled it out so clearly. Germany did, when Chancellor Angela Merkel said, “The times in which we could rely fully on others — they are somewhat over.” Now Canada, a country tightly bound to its neighbor by history, alliance and the longest border in the world, has declared the need to recognize that the United States is relinquishing its role as the “indispensable nation.”

“The fact that our friend and ally has come to question the very worth of its mantle of global leadership puts into sharper focus the need for the rest of us to set our own clear and sovereign course,” Canada’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, told her Parliament this month.

Ms. Freeland never mentioned Donald Trump. That wouldn’t be diplomatic. But every line of her speech before a silent House of Commons was clearly about a world order thrown into crisis as President Trump scoffs at trade agreements, hectors allies, rips up the landmark Paris climate accord and otherwise demonstrates disdain for anything that isn’t “America First.” Canada’s course, Ms. Freeland said, would be the opposite of Canada First; it would be “the renewal, indeed the strengthening, of the postwar multilateral order.”

Dear world. It is my fervent hope that we will defeat the Republican Reich and return to the community of civilized nations. RESIST!!

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Feb 172017
 

TGIF!  I’m still running on a sleep deficit as humidity remains is 93%, having just dropped below 100% for the first time in three days, so I’m already fighting droopy eyelids.  I hope you all have a peaceful, Republican-free weekend.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:15 (average 5:27).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From NY Times: Harry van Bommel, a left-wing member of the Dutch Parliament, had persuasive allies in convincing voters that they should reject a trade pact with Ukraine — his special “Ukrainian team,” a gleefully contrarian group of émigrés whose sympathies lay with Russia.

They attended public meetings, appeared on television and used social media to denounce Ukraine’s pro-Western government as a bloodthirsty kleptocracy, unworthy of Dutch support. As Mr. Van Bommel recalled, it “was very handy to show that not all Ukrainians were in favor.”

Handy but also misleading: The most active members of the Ukrainian team were actually from Russia, or from Russian-speaking regions of Ukraine, and parroted the Kremlin line.

The Dutch referendum, held last April, became a battering ram aimed at the European Union. With turnout low, Dutch voters rejected the trade agreement between the European Union and Ukraine, delighting Moscow, emboldening pro-Russia populists around Europe and leaving political elites aghast.

It looks like Trump is not the only traitor Russia manipulates.  Lona, how could Bommel be considered "left wing" by the Times, when he acts like a damned Republican? RESIST!!

From YouTube (GQ Channel): Is The Trump White House High? | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann

 

In Keith’s choice between high or what, I actually have to answer "what". I gave not done drugs for over 30 years, but was a stoner in my day. I never dis a drug that could make someone as stupid, as deplorable, or as evil as the Potomac Puppet and his Reich.  RESIST!!

From Salon.com: President Donald Trump’s new secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, doesn’t seem to have a lot of pull in the White House.

Despite a contentious nomination hearing in which Tillerson was confirmed by a party-line vote, Tillerson’s influence is so minimal that senior state department officials need to ask foreign diplomats about President Trump’s impending foreign policy decisions, according to a report by The Guardian. Tillerson has also avoided press questions, such as during his meeting with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. While this could simply be a residual habit from years running a secret multibillion dollar corporation, it could also be the result of Tillerson simply not being knowledgable about the Trump administration’s foreign policy plans.

Tillerson wasn’t consulted about Trump’s controversial Muslim travel ban and no one at the state department was consulted during the dinner when the president approved his disastrous raid in Yemen. Even more telling, Trump rejected Tillerson’s choice for deputy secretary of state, Elliott Abrams, very suddenly and without consulting Tillerson first. The State Department has also issued sweeping layoffs, indicating that the foreign policy-making apparatus is going to be concentrated around Trump’s inner circle rather than through various expert channels.

Tillerson is there to relate work with Russia to destroy the Arctic to get the oil for Putin (R-RU). Foreign policy is conducted via tweets by twits that grab twats.  RESIST!!

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Jan 142017
 

I ended up feeling rather stupid yesterday, when I called Safeway.com to ask why my food was late and they told me I had scheduled the delivery for today.  Then I ended up feeling frustrated today, when they called me to tell me my delivery was cancelled due to hazardous driving conditions.  I’m hoping I can reach Wendy in time to ask her to pick up a few staples for me before she goes to work and bring them in the morning.  Today and tomorrow are holy days in the Church of the Ellipsoid Orb.  If your team is still meditating, may the Orb bless them with it’s divine light.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:34 (average 5:28).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Common Dreams: The rise of political populists threatens democracy worldwide, a new report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) released Thursday says.

In its World Report 2017, the human rights organization highlights President-elect Donald Trump‘s victory in the U.S., the power grabs of "strongman" leaders in Russia, China, Turkey, and the Philippines, and the rise of right-wing demagogues in Europe, as trends that "denigrate legal standards and disdain factual analysis, directly challenge the laws and institutions that promote dignity, tolerance, and equality."

Trump and other populist leaders work from a similar propaganda playbook that supports bigotry and discrimination; scapegoats immigrants and refugees for economic problems; encourages people to give up their rights in favor of authoritarian rule as a defense against outside threats; and foments division between demographics, the report states.

We aren’t the only ones. We just have the worst Fuhrer.  RESIST!!

From Daily Kos: The Democratic National Committee is holding the first of four regional “Future Forums” today in Phoenix, Arizona. The forum begins at 9 AM Mountain Time.  You can view a livestream at democrats.org

…Candidates for Chair:
• Sally Boynton Brown, Idaho Democratic Party Executive Director, President of Association of State Democratic Executive Directors
• Ray Buckley, New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair, Association of State Democratic Parties Chair
• Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, IN
• Keith Ellison, U.S. Representative (MN-5)
• Jehmu Greene, Fox News Political Analyst
• Jaime Harrison, South Carolina Democratic Party Chair
• Tom Perez, secretary of Labor.

I still like Ellison because of his progressive resume. If you disagree, who do you support and why?

From Think Progress: Early Saturday morning, President-elect Donald Trump attacked the Georgia congressman and famed civil rights hero John Lewis for being “all talk, no action” and presiding over a “crime infested” district that’s “falling apart.”

The thinly veiled racial smear — essentially suggesting Lewis is a slumlord — came on the weekend of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, as the nation prepares to honor the civil rights leader with whom Lewis worked closely in the 1960s to advocate for racial and economic justice.

What else would a Republican Racist say?  RESIST!!

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Nov 102016
 

hedgehog-looks-binocularsHOW THE WORLD REACTED TO TRUMP’S PRESIDENTIAL WIN

The outcome of the American Presidential election has sent a shock wave through the not-so United States, and it won’t come as a surprise that Donald Trump’s victory has left many others in the world quite stunned too.  As many here are still coming to grips with it and perhaps fear an overload of information, I won’t try to refine on the excellent overview Lynn gave of reactions of world leaders in her article “Winter is here” she posted on PP today. Instead I’ll give you the general idea of how the world is reacting to the new President of the United States of America through easy-digestible images, peppered with a tiny bit of text where needed.

Before I start with some front-pages of mainstream newspapers and magazines, let me tell you that I’ve tried to find some positive headlines on Trump’s victory, I really have. But I couldn’t find any; some neutral ones, yes, but not any really jubilant or laudatory ones. I think I’d have to widen my search an look beyond Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to find them. To get the general atmosphere across in the countries just mentioned I’ve picked out the not-so neutral ones.

For the following front-pages I am in debt to Britain’s Telegraph which also features a very nice (and short) video compilation of news headlines in their article Dear God, America what have you done?': How the world and its media reacted as Donald Trump became US President-elect'.

France:

Canada:

Chile:

UK:

Most newspapers could muster some respect for the choice of the American people, but others just couldn’t.

Australia:

And some have little or no respect for anyone, so they couldn’t bring themselves to do that for the 45th President of America, or for the First Lady, either.

UK:

With one or two exceptions, the front pages were not very enthusiastic about the election results, but they weren’t very offensive either. However, there’s no better way to get a point across than with humor and so I’ll switch to political cartoons to show how many in the rest of the world felt about Mr. Trump’s election.

 

Credit David Fitzsimmons/Cage Cartoons

Credit Matt/The Telegraph

Credit: Paul Voth

Credit: Alan Moir/The Sydney Morning Herald

Credit: Ruben L. Oppenheimer/NRC Handelsblad

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Oct 202016
 

hedgehog-looks-binocularsDONALD TRUMP MAY BE ON HIS WAY OUT, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE TRUMP VOTER?

You might say that Donald Trump has put his foot in it in last night’s final Presidential Debate when the Jeff Flake, senator from Arizona, one of the swing-states twitters:
.@realDonaldTrump saying that he might not accept election results is beyond the pale
and when conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer from Fox News thinks that Trump blew his chances with this answer on accepting the results. “Political suicide.” Krauthammer called it because in his view Trump should have stopped the slide in this debate. The slide of people grudgingly going over to Clinton after holding out for a year. He thinks that people are not going to change their views on Clinton, but if they can change their views on Trump. Trump should have shown them that he is acceptable as president, not a radical. They don't want a radical who will challenge the foundations of the republic.

Right-wing New York Post-columnist John Podhoretz also comes to the conclusion that Donald Trump just handed Hillary Clinton the election with his refusal to be clear on what will happen if he loses the election.

Not accepting the results is the main theme of comments in many Western countries.  Anna Caldwell in from News Corp Australia Network blogs: “Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump doubled down on controversial claims that the US election is rigged during a presidential debate, refusing to say he will respect the result.

Other news sites media commented on the debate, and on Trump in particular, in a more general fashion. Australian The New Daily quotes Bryan Cranston, a Swinburne University politics expert: “Trump’s biggest strength is himself, but it is also his weakness. Facts play little role in his campaign and his rhetoric and spin works well when he is only with supporters. [emphasis mine] But in a debate with an opponent you need facts, and the holes in his argument became dramatically transparent.”

Anthony Zurcher, North America reporter for the BBC describes how “after roughly half an hour of something resembling an actual policy debate about the Supreme Court, gun rights, abortion and even immigration, the old Donald Trump – the one who constantly interrupted his opponent, sparred with the moderator and lashed out at enemies real and perceived – emerged.” And concludes with “Mr Trump has called American democracy into question – and when he shakes that particular tree, it's impossible to determine who might get crushed by falling branches.

On the Dutch national news site Sander Warmerdam warns: “The big question remains what happens when Trump doesn't win this time. Clinton is doing very well in the polls. This debate will go down well with the angry Trump supporters but will move few undecided voters.” [my translation]

There is a certain feeling of unease emanating from the European and Australian comments since Donald Trump became the Republican nominee and that becomes most apparent in statements about the Trump’s voters pointing out that his supporters stay loyal to him no matter how many of his statement are debunked by fact checkers or how many times his statements are called bigoted, racist, misogynist or islamophobic. Much attention is payed to Trump voters not believing the facts that are revealed about his personal life and behavior nor of his disdain for them as group. The fact that about 40% of Americans still favor Trump is both baffling and worrying to the media, but also a grateful subject to keep ratings high.  

Wilson/AP PHOTO

This has also been noted by TV  reviewers like Hans Beerekamp who noted: “I’m starting to find the outrage in the media about the American circus quite hypocritical, because many of the same media have always eagerly reported on the polarization and to a large extent have created it. It's TV that has given birth to Trump (Verdonk, Wilders), not the other way around. By the excessive media attention for their views, these have become more acceptable. [translation mine]" Beerenkamp refers here to Rita Verdonk and Geert Wilders, two Dutch populists, and by doing so uncovers the source of the unease felt by many in the West: large groups of voters, unhappy with the way their country is run, looking for leaders who appear to listen to them.

Europe and Australia are no strangers to a growing population of grudging, anti-establishment or protest voters who are willing to throw in their lot with populist politicians and parties. The Dutch have their Geert Wilders and his PVV, claiming to be Prime Minister after next year’s elections, France has her Marine Le Pen and her Front National who did very well in the local elections this year, Australia has seen the return of Pauline Hanson and her One Nation in the senate. And of course Nigel Farage and UKIP have made their indelible mark on the British Brexit referendum.

Dutch protester welcoming fugitives told off by Wilders supporter
AD/Jean-Pierre Jans

Britons, edged on by UKIP and some conservatives in the Tory party (Boris Johnson), have voted to leave the European Union and have left Europeans and its economies, especially that of the UK itself) in a state of shock and have made leaders more aware of the attraction populist have to dissatisfied and angry people, both in Europe and in America. Even “establishment” institute like the IMF have seen the writing on the wall and are willing to (partly) put blame where blame is due. In a report released at the beginning of the month the IMF said “Globally, concerns are growing about political discontent, income inequality and populist policies, threatening to derail globalization.” IMF chief economist Obstfeld said "that persistently weak growth that leaves lower-income people behind has fueled a political movement "that blames globalization for all woes" adding that the vote for "Brexit" was one example of this. He warned governments that "Without a determined policy action to support economic activity over the short and longer terms subpar growth at recent levels risks feeding on itself through the negative economic and political forces it is unleashing." In other words: governments should invest more in those that have not benefitted from growth in the past and decrease income inequality instead of widening the gap if they want to see economic growth in their country.

Words Hillary Clinton would do well to heed, because when she wins the election, Donald Trump may soon fade from the political scene, but his voters, and those of all the other populists in the world, will still be there.

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Jun 222016
 

hedgehog-looks-binocularsJoris Luyendijk: It's time to say goodbye to the British

At a time when it seems to be nearly impossible to get away from America’s upcoming presidential elections and the presumptive candidates on either side of the isle, nearly all British and many Europeans have another important thing on their mind: the Brexit referendum.

Two days before the British people are headed to the polls to vote on the Brexit referendum on Thursday June 23, Dutch correspondent Joris Luyendijk has published an op-ed in NRC Handelsblad (6/21/2016) that quickly made it to the Reddit site in a (sorry, rather bad) English translation and really got the negative comments of Brits on both sides of the Brexit chasm flowing.


Luyendijk, who has been living in London for the past five years and has worked as an editor for the British newspaper The Guardian for two years, has seen enough of the Brexit debate – which toned down a bit for only two days after the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox and now has resumed in all its harshness – to propose that perhaps it’s not such a bad idea if Europe took her leave of the UK.

“Enough is enough. In normal times the British sabotage was tolerable. But these are not normal times, Joris Luyendijk ascertains. So let's go our different ways – as friends”

In the years he’s lived in England, Luyendijk has come across much ‘Euroscepsis’ in “A mix of unsuspecting indifference and self-imposed ignorance. Featuring the views of a large part of the mainstream British towards the EU and Europe.” He thinks that’s innocent enough but found it increasingly worrying to listen to a colleague at The Guardian “who recently compared the EU with the Soviet Union, ‘but without the gulag,’ a journalist dead-seriously saying: "Well, ultimately the EU is nothing more than an attempt by Germany to still win the Second World War," or hear politicians like Boris Johnson who “claimed no essential difference between Hitler's plans for Europe and of the EU.”

Luyendijk thinks that the referendum is very useful in this respect: it shows how deep the Europhobia is rooted. Many in the ‘out’ camp media use this absurd and false caricature of Europe to feel superior and dream about making Great Britain great again, blaming the EU for it no longer being a world power. The ‘in’ camp treats staying in the European Union as a favor for which the EU has to make concessions.

For a large part of the English media and politics ‘Europe’ is a dirty word. Yet Luyendijk has misgivings about the Brits choosing to leave the EU in the end. Leaving could mean that the Scots, who are likely to vote to stay, will want to leave the UK to remain in the EU. Northern Ireland is of two minds about this too, as it could rekindle the ‘troubles’. So chances are that a slight majority will vote to stay in and according to Jean Quatremer that could mean: "If the UK decides to stay then they will make the lives of the populations in the other 27 countries worse than ever before."

Is Luytendijk such a EU enthusiast then that he doesn’t want the UK to stay? Far from it; he’s a ‘Eurosceptic’ in his own right: “The EU is not in a crisis. The EU is about to collapse. Schengen is not working. The euro does not work. And the EU is simply not democratic in its current form.” But he also firmly believes that the EU is in desperate need of reforms and all member states should do their level best to bring that about successfully. Luytendijk just doesn’t believe the UK is going to do that. He’s convinced it will keep pushing for concession after concession, for having it 'their' way, not open, or rational and on the basis of a realistic self-image. What is needed are countries where public opinions are not held hostage by Europhobic billionaires, notably by mediate magnate Rupert Murdoch who has been quoted saying: "If I go to Downing Street, they do what I say. If I go to Brussels, everyone ignores me." So much for ‘sovereignty’.

Joris Luyendijk believes Europe should be the wisest of the two and stop its wishful thinking that the British are going to want to fit in some day. What is needed is an amicable divorce, it would be beneficial to all.

Before finishing this article, I watched our national news which of course had an item on tomorrow’s Brexit referendum. ‘Outer’ Boris Johnson was trying to convince undecided voters with something along the lines of: “We need to take back control…otherwise we’ll end up in the trunk of the car…not knowing where we are going to, but probably ending up somewhere we don’t want to go.” To that he gleefully added: “ and the car will be driven by a chauffeur who doesn’t speak the best of English.” Hmmm, perhaps Luytendijk has a point.

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