Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Charlottesville: Two Sides to a Story

There are two sides to a story. I thought what took place was a horrible moment for the country, but there are two sides to a story.
               Donald J. Trump, Trump Tower, Aug 15, 2017

According to Donald Trump, both sides were responsible for the violence at Charlottesville:  the Alt-Right and the Alt-Left.  The Alt-Right was protesting the removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee.  The Alt-Left, as Donald Trump now calls them us, was protesting the White Nationalist Rally itself.

On One Side:  Heather Heyer

On the Other Side: James Alex Fields

On One Side:  President Barrack Obama

On the Other Side:  Donald J. Trump

On One Side:  Donald J. Trump

Trump Tower August 15,  2017

QUESTION: Do you think that the -- what you call the alt-left is the same as neo-Nazis?

TRUMP: Those people -- all of those people -- excuse me. I've condemned neo-Nazis. I've condemned many different groups. But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists, by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, Robert E. Lee. So -- excuse me. And you take a look at some of the groups and you see -- and you'd know it if you were honest reporters, which in many cases you're not, but many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. So this week it's Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson's coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you all -- you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop? But they were there to protest -- excuse me. You take a look, the night before, they were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. Infrastructure question, go ahead. QUESTION: Should the statue of Robert E. Lee stay up? TRUMP: I would say that's up to a local town, community, or the federal government, depending on where it is located.

On the Other Side:  Annette Gordon-Reed, Harvard Professor of History,
Quoted in the June 28, 2017 issue of The Atlantic.

     ...Nevertheless, the concerns about erasure of history remain perhaps the most potent objection, espoused not only by irredentist rebels but even by those who declare strong disdain for the Confederacy. And Gordon-Reed offered two rejoinders.

The first was that removing a statue hardly constitutes erasing history. “We’re always going to know who Robert E. Lee is,” she said. “The question is where these monuments are. The public sphere should be comfortable for everybody.” 

But what about the idea that once the Lees and Stonewall Jacksons and P.G.T. Beauregards are pulled down, the revisionists will inevitably start agitating for pulling down monuments to slave-owning Founding Fathers like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

But Gordon-Reed, who won the Pulitzer Prize for her book on the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, said it was not hard to draw a bright line separating Jefferson’s generation of Virginians from the ones who tried to secede.

“We can distinguish between people who wanted to build the United States of America and people who wanted to destroy it,” she said. “It’s possible to recognize people’s contributions at the same time as recognizing their flaws.” 

“You’re not going to have American history without Jefferson,” Gordon-Reed said. Alluding not to the demise of the Lenin statues but to the infamous deletion of disgraced figures from Kremlin photographs, she added, “It’s not the Soviet Union.”

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Some Not-So-Great News Clippings From Down Under

A friend from Australia sent some news clippings to me which portray how Australians view Donald Trump. The articles and political cartoons appeared in The Age, a daily newspaper which has been published in Melbourne, Australia since 1854.

June 2, 2017

June 10, 2017

May 19, 2017

May 19, 2017

November 23, 2016

May 19, 2017

June 4, 2017

June 3, 2017

June 6, 2017

June 6, 2017

The only thing "great" about these clippings is the great embarrassment many Americans are feeling because of Donald Trump's actions.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Lady Justice Smiling Down

Donald Trump is falling down,
Falling down, falling down.
Donald Trump is falling down,
My Fair Lady.

Son in law is falling down,
Falling down, falling down.
Son in law is falling down,
My Fair Lady.

Trump Junior's falling down,
Falling down, falling down.
Trump Junior's falling down,
My Fair Lady.

Off to prison we must go,
We must go, we must go.
Off to prison we must go,
My Fair Lady.

See the Lady smiling down,
Smiling down, smiling down.
See the Lady smiling down,
My Fair Lady.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Seeing Red, Feeling Blue, and Turning Purple

Maps of the 2012 and 2016 Presidential Elections
Republicans were feeling ecstatic when they viewed the increase in red in the map after the 2016 Presidential Election!

When Democrats viewed the map after the 2016 Presidential Election, they were feeling blue; they were hoping it was FAKE NEWS.

Hillary Clinton lost six states that Barack Obama won in 2012:  Michigan, Wisconsin,  Pennsylvania, Iowa, Ohio, and Florida.  She lost Michigan by 10,704 votes, Wisconsin by 27,257 votes, and Pennsylvania by 44,292 votes.  The third-party candidate, Gary Johnson, drew over 100,000 votes in each of those three states.

The popular vote cartograms from the University of Michigan below show how the areas of the country voted in the 2012 and 2016 Presidential elections.  The red areas show where Mitt Romney and Donald Trump received more than 70% of the popular vote.  The blue areas show where Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton received more than 70% of the popular vote. The purple areas show where neither party received more than 70% of the popular vote.  There isn't much difference between the two cartograms, but it does explain how Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, yet lost the election.

What is not shown in the maps is what effect the Russian hacking and meddling had on the election.

I wonder how many of those 300,000 plus voters in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania who voted for Gary Johnson were Bernie supporters?  I don't have to wonder if the Wiki Leaks revelation that the DNC favored Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders had any effect on the Bernie supporters.  They were pissed!

I wonder how many voters in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania were influenced by the misinformation about Hillary Clinton that was posted on social media by Russian bots?  I don't have to wonder if the Trump camp colluded with the Russians in the election. It's just a matter of Robert Mueller gathering evidence and proving which Trump people colluded with the Russians.

Is it just a coincidence that almost all of Trump's advisers either had previous ties with Russia or had met officials of the Russian government before or after the election?  The list is long:  Michael Flynn, Rex Tillerson, Jeff Sessions, Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., Carter Page, Roger Stone,  Michael Cohen, and J. D. Gordon.

I also wonder if Cambridge Analytica, the data mining company Jaren Kushner hired to assist in the campaign, pinpointed the Russian bots to influence the opinions of voters in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania?  It's no secret that Steve Bannon was on the board of Cambridge Analytica, or that the company's stated goal was to change audience behavior.

As for Donald Trump, I believe they'll take him away in a straitjacket before Congress has the chance to impeach him for interfering with the investigation.

As for the Republican base, 80% of which still supports Donald Trump,  I wonder if they'll still support him when they no longer have health insurance, much less operating hospitals in rural America.

As for the Democratic base,  a new leader needs to step forward to energize the voters for the 2018 midterm election.  Bernie Sanders is not the answer; he is not a Democrat.

The 2018 midterm election will be a stepping stone to the 2020 Presidential Election.  In both elections, I believe the Democratic base, together with independent voters, will turn the color of the voting map from red to purple, and from purple to blue.

Friday, March 17, 2017

A Close Look at Our Old U.S. Refugee Admissions Program

In Fiscal Year 2016, the United States welcomed 84,995 refugees from around the world.  In Fiscal Year 2017, which began on Oct. 1st, the United States was supposed to welcome another 110,000 refugees; however, President Donald Trump has limited the number of refugees to the United States from around the world to 50,000 for Fiscal Year 2017.

According to The New York Times, more than 37,000 refugees have already entered the United States since the 1st of October, leaving only 12,700 slots remaining under President Trump's limit for the remainder of this fiscal year.

Are the purposes of President Trump's ban on travel and his limits on the Refugee Admissions Program purely to enhance security for the United States, or are they simply a means to fulfill a campaign promise to ban Muslims from the United States?

Are the hoops and hurdles of security procedures under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, which take anywhere from 18 to 24 months to complete, already stringent enough?

You be the Judge:

U.S. Refugee Admissions Program

Application and Case Processing
When UNHCR — or, occasionally, a U.S. Embassy or a specially trained nongovernmental organization — refers a refugee applicant to the United States for resettlement, the case is first received and processed by a Resettlement Support Center (RSC). The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) funds and manages nine RSCs around the world, operated by international and nongovernmental organizations and one U.S. interests section. Under PRM’s guidance, the RSCs prepare eligible refugee applications for U.S. resettlement consideration.
Some refugees can start the application process with the RSC without a referral from UNHCR or other entity. This includes close relatives of asylees and refugees already in the United States and refugees who belong to specific groups set forth in statute or identified by the Department of State as being eligible for direct access to the program.
The RSCs collect biographic and other information from the applicants to prepare for the adjudication interview and for security screening. Enhanced security screening is a joint responsibility of the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security and includes the participation of multiple U.S. Government security agencies.
Officers from the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) review all the information that the RSC has collected and also conduct an in-person interview with each refugee applicant before deciding whether to approve him or her for resettlement in the United States.
All USCIS-approved refugees undergo a health screening to identify medical needs and to ensure that those with a contagious disease, such as tuberculosis, do not enter the United States. Finally, the RSC requests a “sponsorship assurance” from a U.S.-based resettlement agency that is experienced in providing assistance to newly arrived refugees. Most refugees undergo a brief U.S. cultural orientation course prior to departure for the United States.
Those refugees who are approved by USCIS receive assistance upon arrival in the United States through the Department of State’s Reception and Placement Program – a cooperative public-private program made up of a number of participants. The support of millions of Americans is fundamental to the program’s success. Though Congress mandated the program, it is local communities that have ensured the success of the resettlement program by welcoming and helping refugees from around the world.
United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) is comprised of:
  • The Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) of the U.S. Department of State.
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  • The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Five international or nongovernmental organizations operating Resettlement Support Centers around the world under the supervision and funding of the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) of the U.S. Department of State
  • Nine domestic nongovernmental organizations with a total of about 350 affiliated offices across the United States.
  • Thousands of private citizens who volunteer their time and skills to help refugees resettle in the United States.
The total processing time varies depending on an applicant’s location and other circumstances, but the average time from the initial UNHCR referral to arrival as a refugee in the United States is about 18-24 months.

I copied and pasted the above information from the Department of State website just in case the information on the website is deleted by the Trump Administration.


Friday, March 10, 2017

The Unaffordable American Health Care Act

On Oct. 16, 2015, Rep Tom Price [R Ga.] introduced H.R. 3762, a bill that would effectively defund the Affordable Care Act.

On Jan. 08, 2016, President Barack Obama vetoed the bill.  And he provided his reasoning in a message to the House of Representatives:

Nevertheless, with H.R. 3762, the Republicans clearly demonstrated that there was a path to repealing the Affordable Care Act if a Republican was elected President of the United States of America in November 2016.

Shit happened.

Donald Trump was elected President of the United States.

And now the Republicans are gutting the Affordable Care Act, and trying to replace it.

With few exceptions, the American Health Care Act, as House Speaker Paul Ryan dubs it, isn't much different than H.R. 3762.  And how it will affect health care coverage and insurance premiums won't be much different than what the Congressional Budget Office  reported on January 17, 2017 concerning the effects of H.R. 3762.  Millions of people will lose their health care coverage.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Do You Really Think Flynn Discussed Sanctions with Russia On His Own?

                                      Dec, 22, 23, 24

Dec. 29, 2016

                                              Feb. 15, 2017

                                                      Feb. 16, 2017

Gotta stop those leaks!  America doesn't need to know what's going on!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Misogynist

I offer this poem, written by Austin Dobson in 1874, as a token of solidarity with today's Women's March on Washington, and in cities all around the world. It is a message for all those Americans who voted to elect the 45th President of the United States of America.


When first he sought our haunts, he wore
His locks in Hamlet-style ;
His brow with thought was 'sicklied o'er,'–
We rarely saw him smile ;
And e'en when none was looking on,
His air was always woe-begone.

He kept, I think, his bosom bare
To imitate Jean Paul ;
His solitary topics were
Æsthetics, Fate , and Soul ;–
Although at times, but not for long,
He bowed his Intellect to song.

He served, he said, a Muse of Tears :
I know his verses breathed
A fine funereal air of biers,
And objects cypress-wreathed ;–
Indeed, his tried acquaintance fled
An ode he named 'The Sheeted Dead.'

In these light moods, I call to mind,
He darkly would allude
To some dread sorrow undefined,–
Some passion unsubdued ;
Then break into a ghastly laugh,
And talk of Keats his epitaph.

He railed at women's faith as Cant ;
We thought him grandest when
He named them Siren-shapes then 'chant
On blanching bones of Men' ;–
Alas, not e'en the great go free
From that insidious minstrelsy !

His lot, he oft would gravely urge,
Lay on a lone Rock where
Around Time-beaten bases surge
The Billows of Despair.
We dreamed it true. We never knew
What gentler ears he told it to.

We, bound with him in common care,
One-minded, celibate,
Resolved to Thought and Diet spare
Our lives to dedicate ;–
We, truly in no common sense,
Deserved his closest confidence !

But soon, and yet, though soon, too late,
We, sorrowing, sighed to find
A gradual softness enervate
That all superior mind,
Until,–in full assembly met,
He dared to speak of Etiquette.

The verse that we severe had known,
Assumed a wanton air,–
A fond effeminate monotone
Of eyebrows, lips, and hair ;
He read 'The Angel in the House' !

Nay worse. He, once sublime to chaff,
Grew ludicrously sore
If we but named a photograph
We found him simpering o'er ;
Or told how in his chambers lurked
a watch-guard intricately worked.

Then worse again. He tried to dress ;
He trimmed his tragic mane ;
Announcing at length (to our distress)
He had not 'lived in vain' ;–
Thenceforth his one prevailing mood
Became a base beatitude.

And O Jean Paul, and Fate,, and Soul !
We met him last, grown stout,
His throat with wedlock's triple roll,
'All wool,' enwound about ;
HIs very hat had changed its brim ;–
Our course was clear,––WE BANISHED HIM !

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Presidential Thank You

This is the third and last letter I have received from "My President."  Thousands of Americans will receive this letter from their President thanking them for writing him.  And to him, I say, "Thank you for being 'My President."

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

How the Affordable Care Act Really Became Unaffordable

Donald Trump tweeted this morning that the Democrats are to blame for the massive premium increases in the cost of Obama Care.

And that the Republicans must be careful: "the Dems own the failed ObamaCare disaster..."

If Marco Rubio were a Democrat, that might be true...

Republican researchers actually found a way to make the Affordable Care Act unaffordable two years ago.  And Marco Rubio introduced the seemingly unnoticed bill as a rider to the Omnibus Government Spending Bill.

The rider bill prohibited the Department of Health and Human Services from using government funds "to bail out" failing health insurance companies.

When the Affordable Care Act was created, insurers had no idea how much it would cost to insure the people who signed up for Obama Care. To entice the insurance companies to keep premium payments reasonable, the government created a Risk Corridor Program.  This program was set up to reimburse insurance companies who lost money during the first few years of Obama Care.  The funds for the Risk Corridor Program would come from either the excessive profits of successful insurance companies or from the government itself.   Senator Rubio's bill effectively killed the Risk Corridor Program by prohibiting the use of government funds to "bail out" failing insurance companies.

And insurance companies were fleeing from Obama Care as fast as they could. Some insurance companies folded, while others raised their rates a few months before the election.  Insurance companies lost 8 billion dollars.  So surely, the companies that survived would raise their premiums high enough to make a profit and then some.

And whose fault was it?  It had to be the Democrats!

And whose fault is it still?

Donald Trump wants you to think the Democrats own it...