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"People disagree with me on this, and the reason they disagree is because they are wrong." 
('cuz I tend to deal with facts - the above quote is from scientist Bill Nye but I like it so much I've adopted it, too.)

"I find two opinions are better than one, particularly if one is mine," Sister Monica Joan, PBS Call The Midwife TV series

current thoughts:   archive:
Note from Mike:  I read this article in the 06.25.19 edition of USA Today delivered to my home and felt compelled to "reprint" it here on my webpage.  Why?  'Cuz I believe strongly that the story has not been given fair treatment by the American media and American voters. Even the journalists that Trump loves to bash as "fake news" oughta' be ashamed...MSNBC, NBC, CBS, CNN, ABC, even PBS & NPR seems apathetic & shrugs it off Trump's 16th accuser of sexual assault.  They care more about ratings then they do covering the news.  "Any other candidate would be annihilated" had they been accused of rape...but for the President, even our liberal leaning media barely gives the story hardly any coverage. So, I've copied & pasted Melinda Henneberger's excellent column here because it needs to be read.  By everyone.  If you have any courage you will copy and paste and mail it to your representatives in Congress...to family, friends, enemies, your therapist, teacher(s), neighbors, & co-workers.

Are we bored with rape? I hope not. Jean Carroll's Trump allegation deserves attention.

Melinda Henneberger, columnist USA Today ~  June 24, 2019

'Joe Biden accused of standing too close' is apparently a way bigger story than 'Donald Trump accused of raping a public person in a public place.'

My first thought, reading longtime Elle advice columnist E. Jean Carroll’s description of being raped by Donald Trump in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room decades ago, was that there might still be presidential DNA on the Donna Karan coat dress she was wearing that day and never laundered.

My second thought, though, was that no one would care if there were.  Because — how does that script go again? — she must have been willing.  Because Bill Clinton, always, and because anyway, all of this was so very long ago. Since she’s written a book, nothing in it can be believed. And because Trump is a modern-day King Cyrus, he in any case gets a pass from God himself.

(Apparently, a stray biblical reference to this previously obscure Persian royal, who despite his heathen ways did free the Jews from slavery in Babylon six centuries before Christ, so reminds some evangelicals of Trump — duh, right? — that they’re willing to shrug off every lesson in the New Testament. This imagined divine mandate makes everything from immigrant babies neglected in filthy detention centers to only this latest on-the-record sexual assault allegation against the president somehow not just defensible, but also part of some twisted but who-are-we-to-argue cosmic plan.)

Any other 2020 candidate would be annihilated
Far more unsettling to me, back in our own Babylon, is that days after Carroll’s account was published in New York magazine, my colleagues in the news business seem not to care much, either. Is a detailed rape allegation by a highly respected woman such a nothing that we needn’t take even a minute out from finding fault with the Democratic presidential front-runner to report on it?

To all of the excuses for our lack of interest — that this was more than 20 years ago, that her motives have been compromised by her commercial interest in selling her book and, my personal favorite, that she should have come forward last year, at the #MeToo moment deemed appropriate by those who’ve never had to learn the hard way that whenever a woman comes forward is somehow the wrong moment — I have one question: If this had been alleged of any of Trump’s potential 2020 rivals, in either party, would the coverage and public response be so meek and measured?

"Joe Biden accused of standing too close" is apparently a way bigger story than "Donald Trump accused of raping a public person in a public place." Unlike most women, men and children who are sexually assaulted, Carroll told two friends at the time, and they back her up. Why then is White House counselor Kellyanne Conway’s husband so lonely in noting the credibility of this 16th sexual assault allegation against the 45th president of the United States?

Worn down and worn out is no excuse Yes, we’re exhausted by the sheer volume of Trump scandals, and yes, we’re bored with rape, too, because that is so last year. Maybe if he had been accused of swiping a sweater from Bergdorf’s, that would be new and different? Because allegations of slamming a woman against a wall and penetrating her is same old, same old at this point. From those who camp out to get seats at Trump’s altar calls, I expect the response to be just what it has been — a cascade of excuses that all boil down to blaming E. Jean Carroll. She says she was never much tempted to come forward, both because that’s not what her generation did, and because “receiving death threats, being driven from my home, being dismissed, being dragged through the mud and joining the 15 women who’ve come forward with credible stories about how the man grabbed, badgered, belittled, mauled, molested and assaulted them, only to see the man turn it around, deny, threaten and attack them, never sounded like much fun.”

How inexplicable.

To Trump’s faithful, his denials and claims that “I’ve never met this person in my life” are in no way undercut by a photo of them chatting at a party. But for those who know better but can’t be bothered, I’m sorry to see the extent to which this man and this topic have worn us down and worn us out. And to those who purport to support women but wish this particular woman had said something sooner, later or not at all, I say: What else is new?

Melinda Henneberger is an editorial columnist for The Kansas City Star and a member of the USA TODAY Board of Contributors.

Library:
source material Americans should read, save, & share with others:
  1. Stone indictment
  2. HPSCI Minority report on Russia Investigation
  3. NY Times report on Trump Finances 10.02.18
  4. "Steele Dossier" opposition research outline
  5. Steele Dossier "annotated" [link to website]
  6. Manafort's Indictment-01.03.18
  7. State of the Union - text annotated by NYT 02.05.19
  8. Mueller Report Vol. I & II redacted version issued 4.18.19

 

Trump Bashing; or, More Factual Reasons Why Trump Should Not Be President:

Wake-Up America

Mid-Term Surge

Wishing Obama Could Still Be President

Why Are Voters Hood-winked?

Donald isn't the only Evil-doer!

Block Kavanaugh

Lindsey's Rant

More Dirt On Brett

Pay Up, Donald

Spineless GOP

Trump's Dinky Base

The Donald's 1st Year

Tariffs Hurting American Economy

Trump Pays Porn-Star Hush Money

he’s still the most popular Republican

Russian Connection

Our Twitter President

GOP Performance @ FBI Hearings - What A Disgrace!

Actually, Donald, America has been losing coal jobs for nearly a century

Voters Get To Share The Blame

Other fairly interesting thoughts by Mike:

Maddow Wins Emmy

It's A Snow Day!

Having A Ball (PO)

Fred Rogers Flick

West Wing re-run

Parade of Projects

Going GEO

Zoom!

What sweet delight a quiet life affords

Bombs Away

Turkey Time

Choice

Need more pie

Made In The USA

He Lacked

About Mike

Trump Orders "Millions" Deported...Then Cuts Order To "Thousands"...Then Cancels

As Rachel Maddow likes to say, watch not what Trump says ... pay attention to what he actually does.  And other than nominating 2 conservatives to our Supreme Court ... Donald Trump has few successes.  "I have actually done more than I promised.  We've done a lot," Trump says. Actually, no Donald, you haven't done much that can be considered "good" ... and I have the facts to prove it.

Deporting millions next week?  Likely the Donald accomplished what he sought out to do: appease his base with more immigrant-bashing and scare the heck out of immigrants well assimilated in American life.    Folks who most likely are employed, contributing to society, perhaps children attending local schools.  News that likely has plenty of folks freaking out & wondering if they should gather up family & flee.  But flee to where?

When journalists began pushing back, asking where in Earth would ICE hold millions of people, Trump immigration enforcement staff had to admit they did not have the staff or facilities to accommodate millions.  The deportation estimates shrank over night to thousands.  But then as reasonable people protested our spineless President Trump caved - as usual.  He tries talking tough, but ultimately his words prove to be simple performance art for this reality TV star. 

To be clear I think immigrants with serious criminal records (felonies not misdemeanors) oughta' be booted just as they were throughout the Obama/Biden administration ... assuming the legal violation is something more than simply living in the US of A illegally.  In most cases they are workers not criminals, often tackling jobs that Americans avoid. 

Threats against poor defenseless folks aren't the only challenges & edicts Trump has declared to satisfy & rally his base ... but has not actually accomplished. 

  • Build A Wall ... hasn't happened - even when he depletes defense dept funds in an attempt to break ground & build.  "I'm a builder," the Donald likes to say, but still the only construction along the Southern border was planned-for and paid by the Obama administration are on-going maintenance projects.  And no, Mexico is not paying for Trump's wall. 
  • Repeal & Replace ObamaCare ... he failed - turns out America actually likes many aspects of the Affordable Care Act, and the Republicans have yet to introduce any plan to replace the ACA even though they've vowed they would every year since 2010.  Chew on that fun-factoid for a moment ... nine, going on ten years of whining and complaining, but accomplishing nothing positive ... what a terrible track record Trump and the GOP have when it comes specifically to healthcare. 
  • Create 8.9 million jobs ... didn't materialize, as Pro Publica reported: "The U.S. economy has been producing jobs at a healthy clip for years, creating 188,542 jobs a month on average in the first 24 months of Trump’s presidency, compared with 202,417 jobs a month in the last 24 months of the Obama administration."  The Pro Publica article is an awesome rebuke to Trump's claims that only he can fix America's jobless problems and bring manufacturing opportunities back to the US of A.
  • Drain the Swamp - considering how many former lobbyists Trump has brought into his administration, any claim that he was going to clean-up anything is laughable.

Reminder: Trump lost the "shut-down the Government" argument earlier this year ... seems like decades ago, doesn't it?  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has gotten the best of Trump for months since Democrats regained control of the House.  Politico published a great summary how the Speaker "really gets under Trump's skin".  Trump lied about his decision to alter/cancel his plan to retaliate against Iran for shooting down a US spy drone, but has increased military spending.  He has also cut so-called "legal migration".  When Trump spoke about American carnage at his inauguration few of us predicted how huge his wrecking ball would be, nor could we foresee the destruction Republicans would cause ... all because they just could not accept a black man in the White House the previous 8-yrs.  Pathetic.

posted 06.23.19 

Orlando Sentinel endorsement for president in 2020: "Not Donald Trump"

"I support Trump because of the economy, stupid," the raging-red faced conservative voter shouted, sounding an awful lot like James Carville & his famous line advocating Bill Clinton's 1992 election.  The imitator's distain for the media was obvious & shaped (maybe even brainwashed, some observers say) by Trump's assertion that the press are "enemies of the people" as an angry crowd shouted at reporters in Orlando yesterday.  This gathering was noteworthy: it marked another shameful Trump rally ... this one was dedicated to his 2020 re-election campaign. 

It is difficult for me to even concede that Trump won the electoral college tally that put him in the White House in 2017 ... let alone acknowledge that America is actually contemplating re-electing the guy after all the damage and destruction he's caused in just 2-1/2 yrs.  Recent polls show 42% of likely voters actually approve of Trump's "performance".  YGBFKM (you-gotta-be-freaking-kidding-me).  I keep asking myself rhetorically: what is wrong with people???  The creepy Trump-booster who was positively raging about the economy, as so many others have, is unable to offer any specific data points to support the notion that the nation's economy is so freaking good.  I'll submit that when George W. Bush and Dick Cheney nearly ruined the global economy, triggering the worse recession since the "Great Depression, things did look more bleak that they do now.  Brokerage houses (Bear Sterns, Lehman Brothers) went under, mega-insurance giant AIG and 2 of America's leading car makers (GM & Chrysler) needed financial assistance & reorganization.  Massive investments in our economy by the Federal Reserve were required and the steady hands of patriotic leaders Barrack Obama & Joe Biden guided our recovery.  The nation has enjoyed positive job growth every month since mid-2009 even with aggressive, shameful resistance by the Tea Party faction on the conservative right.  But recently Trump's employment numbers have been flat. 

The best thing most economists can say about Trump's tenure is that he has not totally destroyed the gains we made in our economic recovery, but close.  His decision to back out of the Iran nuke agreement and destabilized the Middle East.  His global trade wars & tariffs have crippled domestic farmers and manufacturers alike.  And even after a banner week so far on Wall Street the Dow Jones Industrial average is still down some 151.17 points from our previous high-water mark established 18-months ago. In December 2018 the DJIA was at 26,616.71 ... closing bell Tuesday: 26,465.54 ... down 151.17 points.

So it's somewhat gratifying to read that the conservative, Republican leaning Orlando Sentinel newspaper has greeted Trump boosters to Orlando for their re-election campaign rally with a stunning rebuke.  "Donald Trump is in Orlando to announce the kickoff of his re-election campaign.  We’re here to announce our endorsement for president in 2020, or, at least, who we’re not endorsing: Donald Trump."

The editorial was specific and spot-on ... realizing that Fox News won't likely read the article on their broadcast I figured I needed to help spread the word by sharing the rest of their awesome editorial:

"Some readers will wonder how we could possibly eliminate a candidate so far before an election, and before knowing the identity of his opponent. Because there’s no point pretending we would ever recommend that readers vote for Trump. After 2½ years we’ve seen enough. Enough of the chaos, the division, the schoolyard insults, the self-aggrandizement, the corruption, and especially the lies. So many lies — from white lies to whoppers — told out of ignorance, laziness, recklessness, expediency or opportunity. Trump’s capacity for lying isn’t the surprise here, though the frequency is. It’s the tolerance so many Americans have for it. There was a time when even a single lie — a phony college degree, a bogus work history — would doom a politician’s career. Not so for Trump, who claimed in 2017 that he lost the popular vote because millions of people voted illegally (they didn’t). In 2018 he said North Korea was no longer a nuclear threat (it is). And in 2019 he said windmills cause cancer (they don’t). Just last week he claimed the media fabricated unfavorable results from his campaign’s internal polling (it didn’t). According to a Washington Post database, the president has tallied more than 10,000 lies since he took office.

"Trump’s successful assault on truth is the great casualty of this presidency, followed closely by his war on decency. Trump insults political opponents and national heroes alike with middle-school taunts. He demonstrates no capacity for empathy or remorse. He misuses his office to punish opponents, as when he recently called for a boycott of AT&T to get even with his least favorite media outlet, CNN. He tears down institutions, once airily suggesting the U.S. should try having a leader for life as China now allows. He seems incapable of learning a lesson, telling an ABC interviewer last week — just two months after Robert Mueller’s report on election interference was released — that he would accept dirt on an opponent from Russia or China. Trump has diminished our standing in the world. He reneges on deals, attacks allies and embraces enemies.

"This nation must never forget that humiliating public moment in Helsinki in 2018 when the president of the United States chose to accept Vladimir Putin’s denials of Russian interference in the 2016 election over the unanimous assessment of the American intelligence community. Such a betrayal by a U.S. president would have been the unforgivable political sin in normal times.

"As if that’s not enough, Trump declares his love for North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, a genuine villain who starves and enslaves his people and executes his enemies with antiaircraft guns and flamethrowers. But he wrote the president a “beautiful letter.” Flattery will get you everywhere with this president, and that’s dangerous.

"Domestically, the president’s signature issue — immigration — has moved in fits and starts. Happily, he abandoned pursuing an outright — and unconstitutional — ban on Muslims entering the U.S., opting instead to restrict travel for people from a handful of nations, most of them majority Muslim. He’s tried separating families, sending troops to the border and declaring a national emergency. For all of that, illegal border crossings are, as the president himself calls it, at crisis levels.

"He blames House Democrats because casting blame is Trump’s forte. But Republicans controlled the House and the Senate for two full years. That seemed like an ideal time to fix what the president believes ails our immigration laws. Even with Democrats now controlling the House, where is Trump’s much-touted deal-making mojo, an attribute he campaigned on? “But the economy!”

"Yes, the market has done well since Trump’s election. The S&P 500 was up about 21% between Trump’s inauguration and May 31 of his third year in office. Under President Obama, it was up about 56% in that same period.

"Unemployment is headed down, as it was during seven straight years under Obama. Wages are up, and that’s a welcome change. But GDP increases so far are no better than some periods under Obama. Deficit spending under Obama was far too high, in part because of the stimulus needed to dig out of the Great Recession. Under Trump, it’s still headed in the wrong direction, once again pushing $1 trillion even though the economy is healthy. Trump seems to care nothing about the deficit and the national debt, which once breathed life into the Tea Party. Through all of this, Trump’s base remains loyal. Sadly, the truest words Trump might ever have spoken was when he said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose his supporters.

"This non-endorsement isn’t defaulting to whomever the Democrats choose. This newspaper has a history of presidential appointments favoring Republicans starting in the mid-20th century. Except for Lyndon Johnson in 1964, the Sentinel backed Republican presidential nominees from 1952 through 2004, when we recommended John Kerry over another four years of George W. Bush. As recently as 2012 we recommended Republican Mitt Romney because of what seemed at the time to be Obama’s failure to adequately manage the nation’s finances.

"If — however unlikely — a Republican like Romney, now a senator from Utah, or former Ohio Gov. John Kasich successfully primaried the president, we would eagerly give them a look. Same if an independent candidate mounted a legitimate campaign. We’d even consider backing Trump if, say, he found the proverbial cure for cancer or — about as likely — changed the essence of who he is (he won’t).

"The nation must endure another 1½ years of Trump. But it needn’t suffer another four beyond that. We can do better. We have to do better."
    -- Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board

posted 06.19.19

Trump Warns of Epic Stock Market Crash If He's Not Re-Elected

Seriously, the guy is now resorting to threats.  “The Trump Economy is setting records, and has a long way up to go," Trump told his 61 million Twitter followers on Saturday.  "However, if anyone but me takes over in 2020 (I know the competition very well), there will be a Market Crash the likes of which has not been seen before!”   [source - or see the Donald's Twitter feed]

Yeah, right.  About the only record team Trump is establishing right now are new depths for our budget deficit.  The Wall Street Journal reported today: "U.S. Budget Deficit Grew 39% in First Eight Months of Fiscal Year."  The Dow Jones Industrial average continues to run sideways as previously noted here just a few weeks ago ... the index is still negative over the past 18-months.  The DJIA 18-months ago was at 26,616.71 ... closing bell Friday: 26,089.61 ... down 527.1 points.  But wait, Donald, there's more negative economic news that you're trying hard to cover-up: the Labor Dept's May jobs report was a major disappointment - barely 75,000 jobs were created last month ... and the previous 2-months were re-calculated down 75,000 jobs ... which means we nearly established the 1st negative month for job growth since 2009 ... the last time the Obama/Biden team helped dig America out of the ditch the Republicans drove the nation into. 

Facts, people are stubborn.  We've gotta' pay attention to the numbers ... there is no good reason to cast any votes for any Republican in our next election.  None, nada, zip.

posted 06.15.19

Trump Bizarrely Says 'It’s Not What I Meant, It’s What I Said'

Crooks and Liars website reports: "Donald Trump's answer about North Korean spying leaves more questions than answers."  The link includes video evidence of the President's remarks - just to keep the Trump supporters from claiming he was "misquoted".

Trump Fires Pollsters After Internal Polls Show Him Losing

Also reported at the ... Crooks and Liars website.  "Uh oh, someone's having a tantrum this morning ... If you have the unfortunate habit of following Donald Trump on Twitter, it's pretty clear that he's not spending any of his Father's Day with his kids (his official schedule has him playing golf with Lindsey Graham instead). But before he steps out on the green, Trump has spent the better part of the morning lashing out against some of his favorite targets (The New York Times, etc) and insisting that he's very, very popular."   Love it when we catch the Donald flipping-out.  For those who doubt me or the Crooks & Liars website, go read the Donald's actual Twitter feed for yourself.  Trump's Tweet continued: "do you think the people would demand that I stay longer?"  In a word, Mr. President, NO.  Hopefully Congress will proceed with impeachment proceedings and even if McConnell blocks action in the Senate the voters will surely give him the boot in November 2020 ... and then we can begin criminal prosecution for his crimes.  The man needs to go - he's dangerously unstable ... and no, Mr. Trump, the press is not the "enemy of the people" - but, personally I think you are [the enemy of humankind].   This is just too rich!

posted 06.16.19

Maddow Reports: 'Dr. with dubious past decided on unnecessary pelvic exam rule'

It's classic Rachel Maddow investigative journalism - she finds some relevance in the news of the past to shed light on current events.  In this case Maddow delivered a 2-part summary regarding the state of Missouri's attempt to squelch medical services at the lone remaining clinic licensed to perform legal, safe medical abortions. "Rachel Maddow reports on Dr. Randall Williams, the Missouri state health official who decided that women seeking a legal abortion from the state's last clinic offering abortion services must first submit to a vaginally invasive, medically unnecessary pelvic exam," MSNBC reports

Medically unnecessary?  But he's a doctor - it would seem he'd know what is or is not a safe procedure. Yeah, well, it would also seem he shoulda' known better when he held a similar position in the great state of North Carolina.  Williams was appointed NC's public health director in 2015. He became embroiled in controversy over the safety of household well water near coal ash ponds.  You can't make this stuff up; it's rich ... given the headline of the Post-Dispatch story mentioned above, the latest news should not come as a huge surprise - the doctor with his sorted past, was appointed by a governor in MO who had to resign in disgrace in an unrelated scandal. [source]

Just goes to show how evil and desperate the Republicans have become in their efforts to advance their agenda of hate ... and it's all such a waste.  Likely the GOP wing-nuts have just shot themselves in the foot (again).  The vast majority of Americans support a woman's right to determine her own reproductive health & the polling on the issue is not even close ... and, women in Missouri will rally and vote these creepy people out of office in the 2020 election ... and meanwhile, the courts will rule the MO laws to be unconstitutional.   Sure glad we have honest folks like Rachel Maddow and her staff to keep us informed!

posted 06.08.19

'Trump Baby' Resurfaces as the Donald Greets UK With Twitter Attacks

Donald Trump, American Reality TV Star of the radical right-wing extremists, launched his state-visit in the United Kingdom with a Twitter attack on London Mayor Sadiq Khan.  [source for news and photos]  Back here in the states as images of the inflatable 'Trump Baby' blanket domestic newscasts CNBC reports: "A rally held by the Stop Trump Coalition and other campaign groups started an hour later, with thousands planning to march from London’s Trafalgar Square to Downing Street." 

Even before Air Force One touched-down  Trump landed his below-the-belt Tweet:
@SadiqKhan, who by all accounts has done a terrible job as Mayor of London, has been foolishly “nasty” to the visiting President of the United States, by far the most important ally of the United Kingdom. He is a stone cold loser who should focus on crime in London, not me
...... [source]

This tirade followed similar behavior during Trump's state-visit last week in Japan.   The Associated Press reported: "President Donald Trump opened a state visit to Japan on Saturday by needling the American ally over its trade imbalance with the United States. “Maybe that’s why you like me so much,” he joshed." [source]

President Trump is a total disaster no matter where he's charging his unsecure mobile device ... England, Washington D.C., or Tokyo.  In between his disastrous foreign travels the President announces his harebrained concept of adding a 5% tariff on goods imported from Mexico ... and he wants to add 5% each month that Mexico does not suppress, to his liking, the caravans of Central American immigrants en route to the US of A.  Economists predicts each monthly increase of 5% will add $17 Billion in added tax/cost to US consumers, and could reduce our GDP by as much as 1% by October.  Other money watchers say it is likely what the Donald wants to see happen because the Federal Reserve Board may well have to lower interest rates ... even though our monetary supply has never been cheaper (for commercial borrowers).  Can we really wait another year-and-a-half to get rid of this guy?  Another thought: can we rent the Trump Baby balloon from our friends in the UK and let it hover over our Southern border during this latest manufactured crisis?  Hindsight thought:  Flying Trump Baby along the Southern border may just invite target practice by some camo-clad sniper.  [economic source]

Suggested Playlist (while reading this article):
  Send In The Clowns - Glynis Johns version
  Rebel Rouser - by Duane Eddy (Run, Forrest, Run!)
  Lollipop - Chordettes (because we're all being treated as suckers)

posted 06.04.19

Mueller Speaks...Jeanine Pirro is a Trumpflake* too.

Limbaugh wasn't the only radical right wing-nut news commentator to go crazy over Robert Mueller's recent 8-minute public statement (see below). Jeanine Pirro, the certifiable wacky FOX News host of Justice w/ Judge Jeanine proved that even former Judges can say some really silly stuff.  Amazing.  Pirro is a Trumpflake and legal "analyst" for FOX - which reminds me of another unanswered question: how the heck did Louie Gohmert R-TX get elected as a state district judge? (Just as I'll never understand why anyone would faithfully watch Pirro's hate-filled program.)

Pirro's rant is based, much like Limbaugh, on AG Barr's inaccurate interpretation of Robert Mueller's report, specifically why Mueller declined to offer a conclusion regarding Trump's obstruction of justice.  Barr was wrong - most legal experts agree ... which means Limbaugh & Pirro are also wrong.  The special counsel’s job is different from that of ordinary prosecutors in a fundamental way, as Mueller explained in his report, the DOJ has concluded that a sitting president is immune from criminal prosecution, stating “under our constitutional plan … only Congress by formal process of impeachment, and not a court by any process should be accorded the power to interrupt the Presidency or oust an incumbent.”  [source]   "The report is the best evidence of the investigation," Pirro says.  "It IS the investigation.  There is no need to unilaterally emphasize or add to the document."  That's exactly what Mueller's live statement accomplished, Ms. Pirro, and had you actually read the report you would know that Mueller was not attempting to "add" anything to the public record.  I think, personally, that Mueller was speaking to the millions of Americans and particularly Republican Congressmen, who obviously have also not bothered to read the report.

Pirro continued to repeat Trump's favorite line: "no obstruction - no collusion“ and claimed Mueller had said things in his statement that was not included in his written report.  That's painfully false.  On May 29th Mueller said: "If we had had confidence the president clearly did not commit a crime we would have said so.” But Pirro says that line was not included in the written report.  Mueller's written words were only marginally different.  Page 182, Section 2 of the written report, under the section titled "conclusion" Mueller wrote:  "Because we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment, we did not draw ultimate conclusions about the President's conduct. The evidence we obtained about the President's actions and intent presents difficult issues that would need to be resolved if we were making a traditional prosecutorial judgment. At the same time, if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.  Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgmentAccordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him." 

Instead of using facts and sound legal reasoning Judge Jeanine opts to employ disgraceful name-calling (Cardinal Comey, Monsignor Mueller, demon-rats) and misleading her viewers - a typical ploy on FOX.  All of this explains the connection to Pirro's comments and the cute little mug below that I found online featuring a quote: "playground bully mentality" in defending Trump.

The former judge is not this stupid - she knows full-well that the DOJ policy to not prosecute means evidence uncovered in the investigation simply needs to be handed over to Congress for further action ... it is not the place for the AG to step in and make a legal determination or render an opinion ... particularly since Barr admitted he did not read or consult the underlying documents. Barr read the Mueller report and it's analysis and issued an opinion that would please President Trump. Shameful. FOX News needs to treat Judge Pirro the same way they did following her disgraceful comments about Rep. Ilhan Omar (Pirro's show was suspended by FOX for 2-weeks).

posted 06.02.19

Mueller Speaks...Limbaugh Goes Bizzerk

(Just in time for Father's Day!)  After seeing the same stock images of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller on cable news for the past 2-yrs it was refreshing to actually see & hear the man speaking live even if it was just 8-minutes ... "no questions" at the end of his prepared remarks was slightly disappointing.  Even though everything the Special Prosecutor said verbally came direct from the report he and his staff had written - and had been made public in mid-April.  If you missed Mueller's hello/goodbye address ... fear not ... the video folks at YouTube have multiple copies on-the-ready for your viewing pleasure.  The press had some advance notice that Mr. Mueller was going to break his silence: "tune-in at 11" the talking heads said, indicating the pending appearance would be brief ... 7-minutes, they said.  And, true to his word, a few ticks of the clock past 11 a.m. and out walked the former FBI Director. 

The ensuing media attention over days that followed have been both appropriate and disappointing.  Some news venues like FOX acted as if some new ground had been covered: "This was not—as the president says time and time again -- 'no collusion, no obstruction.’ It was much more nuanced than that,” said FOX NEWS 'Special Report' anchor Bret Baier.  FOX had repeated Attorney General Wm. Barr's conflated summary a few hundred times daily for 6-weeks or more, exonerating Trump.  Like I said: appropriate & disappointing to hear FOX and other media outlets repeat from the report that Mueller was legally barred from charging President Trump with a crime, as if that was "news".  It wasn't news to those of us who are better informed. 

FOX also emphasized for the first time that the probe did not exonerate Trump. Mueller noted that if he could have cleared the president of any obstruction of justice claim, he “would have said so.”  As some members of the media like FOX's Baier were finally acknowledging that "Mueller contradicted the remarks of Attorney General William Barr."  Or rather, that Barr had misquoted the report & Mueller.  Gee.  No kidding.  Trouble is, the lazy conservative right-wing American voters had latched-onto the 'no collusion, no obstruction' narrative.  Damage done.

But with Mueller's live remarks now reverberating across the nation rabid Trump boosters like Rush Limbaugh were scrambling; Rush had less than 45-minutes to finish his "show prep" and when his broadcast went "live" el-RushBo struggled to mask his angry tone a sounded quite agitated & nearly unhinged as he tried to shove the "Genie" back in the bottle.  The "Genie" being his previous rants & retorts on this subject - because the problem is, until today, Rush had made up all sorts of silly stuff that he imagined Mueller would say, as Rush often does.  Limbaugh was not prepared when Mueller actually refuted what Attorney General Barr said about DOJ policy not having any bearing on the case.  "Robert Mueller made it clear as a bell today that he wants to nail Donald Trump," Limbaugh ranted, "and he wants Donald Trump out of office, he just doesn’t have the evidence. And so he’s asked Congress to take over the job. But he kept talking about how guidelines, regulations in the DOJ prevent the indicting of a sitting president."  Those who doubt these quotes attributed to Limbaugh are welcome to read the for yourself transcript and/or listen to his opening segment recorded by the golden EIB microphone [source].

Rush obviously is among the majority of American voters who have not bothered to read the report.  "They can’t do it," Limbaugh inaccurately opines. "So what was the purpose of this? Why do this investigation at all if from the very beginning you could not nail the president?"  Well, Rush, besides not reading the report you obviously were not listening, either.  The DOJ policy clearly states that you & Trump's personal "Roy Cohn" (Barr) are wrong and Mueller is right.  "The dossier is all they ever had. There is no evidence," Rush continued - further exposing how naive & flawed his reasoning is.  The opposition research "Steele Dossier" was not the basis or "oranges" of the case as Trump claims.  "You interviewed 500 witnesses," Limbaugh continues his rant.  "You had over a million documents. You put people in jail.  You sweated people. You destroyed their lives. You wiped them out financially. And you still don’t have any evidence! And yet you do an eight-minute little press conference today with no questions where you imply the president did it?"  Well, first, Rush, the only people in jail are those who pled guilty or were found to be guilty of crimes.

Limbaugh continued: "The report speaks for itself. Meaning: 'I don’t have any evidence of collusion. I don’t have any evidence of obstruction. I don’t have any evidence of anything.' But that’s not what he said. He said, “I don’t have enough evidence to tell you he didn’t do it.”"  Actually, no, Rush.  Mueller said, "the opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing."  [source/read the transcript of Mueller's remarks]

Deep state/administrative state, silent coup ... some of Rush's favorite claims.  "There was no collusion." You're right Rush and as Mueller explained in the report there is no legal distinction for 'collusion' - the investigation sought to find evidence of conspiracy - which they documented to be true but Mueller explained none of what was found rose to the level of a crime that could be prosecuted.  Maybe now a few more voters will bother to stay informed.

posted 06.01.19

Trump takes credit for Obama's gains for vets

I spotted this news story and was sickened by it I figured it would be best to simply "cut & paste" and give attribution - in this case: thank you Associated Press for keeping us informed of the latest shameful act by Donald Trump:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Boastful on the occasion of Memorial Day, President Donald Trump and his Veterans Affairs secretary are claiming full credit for health care improvements that were underway before they took office.  Trump said he passed a private-sector health care program, Veterans Choice, after failed attempts by past presidents for the last "45 years." That's not true. The Choice program, which allows veterans to see doctors outside the government-run VA system at taxpayer expense, was first passed in 2014 under President Barack Obama.  [Source: I urge readers to go to the source and read the entire AP report because, as it seems to be case when it comes to Trump misstatements & lies, there is more to this story.  https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/ap-fact-check-trump-takes-credit-for-obamas-gains-for-vets]

posted 05.28.19

Trump's GOP Base Say They Love What He Can Do For Our Economy...

“What appeals to me mostly about Donald Trump is basically how he is a businessman and we kind of need a businessman right now to fix our economy,”  says Gary J. from Ohio ... Trump supporter. 

"So I finally feel like we have somebody who has credentials outside of Washington, who has proven himself. Look at this building right here. Look at all of his buildings that he owns across the world. He’s a billionaire," said a Connecticut voter standing in front of Trump Tower. (1)

Some of the rationale voters have given to explain their support for Donald J. Trump is his business experience and the impact he can have on the nation's economy.  The trouble is, Trump's base gets their "news" from FOX or their Twitter or Facebook account "News feeds" ... that's assuming they're paying attention at all. 

If you're enjoying a lovely Memorial Day weekend and there happens to be a Trump supporter handy, I suggest you gently ask a few questions to see if they understand what a freaking mess Republicans have created.  (Tip: blurting out "what the heck is wrong with you?" is not the recommended approach.)

First, lets agree on a few basics.  Like: what's a budget deficit?  The budget deficit is the amount of money the federal government spends compared to the amount of money that is collected (taxes, fees).  Each year this budget deficit gets added to our total national debt which now stands at $22.3 TRILLION or nearly $68,000 for every US citizen. (2)  

Wow.  That sounds like a lot of debt - how are we ever going to pay that off?  Well, since the President has been in office over 29-months ... 856 days oughta' be enough time to implement changes to the way Congress spends money, don·cha think?  So, gwon ... ask the nearest Trump Supporter how much the Donald has cut from our current national debt.  Admittedly, that's sort of a trick question 'cuz those who pay any attention to genuine news know Mr. Trump hasn't cut a dime - in fact, he's added over $3 TRILLION to our national debt since January 20, 2017.  The exact figure gets a bit complicated because the government budget does not run on a calendar year basis - rather, our fiscal year runs October thru September.  So to be fair he's had just one-and-a-half fiscal years to work his magic. In 2017 Republicans rammed thru Trump's tax cut for corporations and wealthy folk which is added over $1 trillion to our national debt according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. Ouch. What happened to Trump's pledge:  "We’ve got to get rid of the $19 trillion in debt ... Well, I would say over a period of eight years." (3)  You could say that pledge has been just about as effective as Trump's plan to drain the swamp. 

sources:  (1) the quotes at beginning of this article came from USA Today Network interviewed Trump Supporters and published their comments which I think folks oughta' read - but first, a warning: you may find things these people say to be quite disturbing.  (2) National Debt Clock with data from the US Treasury.  (3) Washington Post lets us read & hear it for yourself in Trump's own words: "get rid of the $19 trillion debt".

Trump's Supporters Say The Darndest Things...

Reading the comments from Trump boosters in the USA Today feature article mentioned above reminded me of a 1950's era TV program: Art Linkletter's House Party.  A feature from that show became a spin-off program on it's own known as "Kids Say The Darndest Things!"  You just never knew what sort of hilarious, whacky stuff that Linkletter would draw out of these kids.  Just great, innocent fun.

There is little that these folks interviewed by USA Today have to offer that I think is "fun".    I find 'em largely to be pathetic, sad, and their comments to be very unsettling.  The country is in the mess it is in largely because we have a nation of voters who don't bother to stay informed.  It's not a matter of opinions - its a matter of laziness, in my humble opinion.  The average adult voter in our society today doesn't even bother to vote in most elections.  The group of people that USA Today interviewed appears to "normal" - largely, they're nicely groomed & attractive.  They could be our next-door neighbors or the clerk at a local store that we frequent ... but my goodness, how ignorant & misinformed they can be!  

“I’m voting for Donald Trump because of his determination to improve our country and his honesty and his perseverance to make our country a better place. Hillary Clinton is a compulsive liar, and there’s many proven facts to show the history of that. She has gotten our country into a lot of trouble, started wars and she is also responsible for the death of four American citizens in Benghazi," says one particularly wrong individual named Christine P. from Nebraska.  There is just so much about this comment that is factually inaccurate.  It disturbs me to read that sort of nonsense but we have to face the reality that there are a lot of misinformed people out there ... so, no, Christine: Hillary Clinton did not start any wars, and no, she was not responsible for the brutal murders of 4 Americans in Benghazi.

“I can’t consider any other candidate. I mean, the choice that the Democrats made in Hillary Clinton, I think is insane. With her background ... she’s coming out of an old hippie culture that I think halfway destroyed our country. That’s just the way I see things. It’s not that I’m for Donald Trump so much, but I’m definitely against Hillary. We know what Hillary brings to the table. We only know about half of what Trump brings to the table. But Trump’s strong points is that he’s going to make the [US] a world power again. Right now we have the power, we won’t use it. And that’s not meant in a militaristic way, it’s just defensive. What I’m saying is for a defensive stature. We have no defense. Our country is falling apart.”  Steve H., Iowa.  Steve:  huh?  Hippie culture?

“The thing that appeals to me about Donald Trump is he is a political outsider, and he has succeeded at something; he’s succeeded at running something. He runs his own companies. Granted, he’s been bankrupt a number of times but he’s worth about $8 billion. He funded most of his campaign himself. In my opinion, we need somebody to think outside the box, and a political outsider with some, frankly, I’ll use the nice word, I'll say chutzpah, to say "yes we’re going to do this, no we’re not going to do that," and just stop the political correct speak and get down to the bottom line where we can get some things fixed.”  Mike C., New York   Yo, Mike: we don't know what Trump's worth because he refuses to release supporting data - but we're about to find out.  And if you were reading the previous articles here like the NY Times expose` you know that the Donald received over $413 million grub-steak from his daddy, Fred C. Trump.  He's hardly a successful self-made fellow.

“If we continue to vote for the same old governors, the same old senator, the same old politicians, we’re going to get the same old government. Changes have to take place in Washington, and I honestly feel that Mr. Trump is the one that can make those changes happen at the very minimum. It hasn’t worked with the career politicians, let’s give it a try. I don’t know how this is going to take, but at the victory party we had in Lee County at the California primary, I sat next to these folks and I was explaining [that] I was having a little difficulty with what he said and she looked at me and she said, "Have you put yourself in his position, okay, the same thing, you've got an issue that concerns illegals (sic) and this judge happens to have a Mexican background or Latino background, okay, would you not feel that quite possibly you’re not getting a good deal? Privately, when you’re thinking about that, you’ve got a case and it involves this sort of thing,"’ and I had to agree with her, I would think that way, but quite honestly I think I would put up with it, but I don’t know, I haven’t been in that position, but that’s the way I think I would feel.” Roz L., Florida   Roz:  It sounds as if you may need medical attention - your comments hint at possible prejudicial leanings.  Regardless, I did not want to be accused of cutting you off so that entire quote is 100% Roz, and I say 100% wing-nut.  Implementing "change" doesn't require insulting your allies and cozying-up to your enemies.

“He's not a politician in the strictest sense of the word. He doesn't owe anybody anything after the election. So I think he'll have at least a chance to accomplish something, to straighten out the business end of what's happened with government. I don't like the fact that he is very verbally disrespectful sometimes, but I think he's very honest, and it's not something we see. Usually politicians will tell this group what they want to hear and then they'll go tell the next group what they want to hear. It's refreshing to have somebody who actually has an opinion and is not afraid to voice it.”  Meredith M., North Carolina  Meredith:  'Honest' is hardly what I'd call someone who has told as many documented, proven lies as the Donald...and he obviously has no problem repeating his lies ... so he obviously has that swagger you seek in a chief executive.

“He seems to tell the truth. He don't 'bullcrap' and 'politic' you and lie to you upfront like Obama did and the rest of them did to get your vote and then you’re on your own. He’s about his business. He’s about a man of his word.”  Randy H., Maryland    A man of his word?   Well Randy, somewhere along the line you missed the news analysis from Fact Checkers who have provided folks like us with detailed lists of the 10,000 LIES and INACCURATE statements he's made over the past 2-yrs ... and most of the Trump's nonsense has been captured on video - so its not like its all that difficult to research the truth.

“If Trump simply secures the border and protects us from foreign and domestic enemies as per the U.S. Constitution, balances the budget. If he just does those two things then I’m a happy camper.”  Lynn M., California  Lynn: I'm curious who you would define to be a "domestic enemy" ... perhaps some of the 16 candidates who ran against Trump in the GOP primary? Regarding your pipe-dream for this President to submit a balanced budget to Congress, most observers are less optimistic.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently reported that Trump's "Goal for a balanced budget would be 2035."      Likely you're ready to bolt & support someone new for 2020?

“Even before this cycle started, you know, I posted a number of posts to Facebook and social media about a need to return to a nationalism feeling in this country. And you know, I think mom and apple pie and baseball are notions that bring people together and it promotes unity. And so, you know, I think that the message that Donald Trump brings, "Let's make America great again," is you know, is a message that everyone can get behind ... So I think it's really a big opportunity for America to look at a candidate who has experience that extends beyond the government ... we need to be proud of who we are. And be proud about a country of immigrants. I mean, but, we can all be different and the same. I mean, we've been doing it for 200 years. And you know, I think the next president, if all they do, if they accomplish nothing for four years, is to get out of the American people, that greatness.”  Craig M., Kentucky   Craig: I'll just assume you were having a difficult time expressing yourself because, if you'll pardon my expression, but that's BS.  You offer 'pablum' (simplistic notions).  Are you by any chance in the business of selling something?

source: USA Today Network

WH says "Trump's economy is roaring" ...

Republicans say the president should focus more on the economy as he campaigns for a second term.  Radical right-wing extremists have repeated the phrase so often they hope to brainwash their base of supporters into believing it is true ... even when it is not and even when there is plenty of data to support the fact that our economy has been running sideways for over a year and a half.  Consider:  Dow Jones Industrial average closed yesterday (May 23, 2019) at 25,490.47 ... 17 months ago the Dow was at 26,616.71 points.  Mr. Trump:  the market has actually gone down by 1,126 points ... 17-months wasted as you've attacked the Justice Department, attacked the FBI, attacked NATO and our allies.

Sure, the national employment picture looks great - USA job growth has enjoyed over 10-yrs of consecutive monthly growth ... which means it started shortly after Joe Biden was sworn-in as Vice-President, and continued thru 8-years of the Obama administration.  The good news: even with all of the negativity and division created by Donald J. Trump: he has not been able to completely destroy our economy, but if his trade war with China continues much longer that likely will tank, too.  Any chance you read about the Donald's $16 BILLION farm aid bill?  Farmers have been hit hard by Trump's tariffs - but so have many other American workers.  But his base of dwindling supporters includes a big block of farmers.  So, to retain that voting block among his base supporters he treats 'em like he treated Stormy Daniels ... with a bribe.  Do the nation a favor, voters ... stay informed.    

posted 05.24.19

Fox News Town Hall participants & viewers give Buttigieg warm welcome

It drove Donald J. Trump absolutely insane that the youthful but experienced South Bend Indiana Mayor & Democratic candidate for President Pete Buttigieg was so warmly received at a Town Hall gathering in Claremont, New Hampshire this past weekend.   Trump was particularly pissed that Fox News would broadcast the program, but he also mentioned on Twitter how crushed he was that Fox News anchor Chris Wallace offered such a glowing assessment of Buttigieg. 

In response to the 2nd question of the event (RE:  a woman's right to have an abortion) Mayor Pete said: "I believe that the right of a woman to make her own decisions about her reproductive health and about her body is a national right.  I believe it's an American freedom and I believe that should be enjoyed by women in every state."  It was obvious that his comments struck a positive cord with the crowd who have watched with great concern several state legislatures passing highly restrictive anti-abortion legislation ... notice the applause Mayor Pete received ... it appears as if 30% of the audience is not clapping ... 2/3 of the crowd is clapping & cheering. [video timestamp - part one 8:21]  You can view it for yourself if you doubt my characterization.

Impressive resume:  Harvard grad, Rhodes Scholar - Oxford. US Naval Reserve - served in Afghanistan 2014, executive experience serving as Mayor of S. Bend, IN since 2011.  Speaks 8 languages, plays guitar and piano (well enough to perform as a guest soloist with S. Bend Symphony Orchestra). 

posted 05.21.19

Game of Thrones finale disappointing?  Khloe Kardashian 'open to marriage'...

Game of Thrones & Khloe Kardashian ... two headline stories ripped from today's mindless "news feed".  Sorry folks - I'm not a fan of 'popular culture'.  And it's not just because I am not a very hip sort of guy, I actually dislike much of what is popular for specific reasons - like 'excessive violence'.  Matters not if it's movies in the theatres, commercial television, computer games, or music ... I avoid it if the subject involves humans intentionally injuring others for fun, sport or some other rationale.  Heck, I can't even stand watching "Michigan Outdoors" on PBS if it involves hunting Bambi or a turkey shoot. 

Game of ThronesThe Walking Dead?  Never saw - never watch.  I'll watch commercial free PBS, thank you.  Gamers may be addicted to Mortal Kombat or Resident Evil 7 but I'll stick to my 20+ year old computer golf game - Links - it offers enough intrigue and challenge for me ... or a good book.  It always amazes me the stuff that is passed off as "entertainment".  Even the fluff, non-violent garbage like all-things-Kardashian - and why are Kim & Khloe famous for being famous?  What are their positive contributions to mankind?  What have they ever done to warrant attention and such riches?  (Forbes magazine estimates Kim's net worth exceeds $350 million.  Why?)

So many interesting things are available to us in this modern age ... I just don't comprehend why people want to spend any part of their life dwelling on fights, death, destruction, and hurting living things & beings.  The Evening News is filled with examples how aggression by humans is the issue: wars, conflict, violence, guns, death.  How hypocritical some folks on the radical right can be ... attacking a woman's right to make decisions for herself & determine her own reproductive health ... yet supporting a President charged with dozens of cases of sexual assault.  These are likely the same folks who advocate America's gun culture saying they need their AK47 for target practice while displaying their Confederate flags in the rear window of their Monster SUV or pick-up truck.

posted 05.20.19  [We prefer programs on commercial-free PBS like Call the Midwife, American Experience, This Old House, Mystery, American Masters, Masterpiece, Frontline (depending on the subject), Doc Watson, Antiques Roadshow, etc.]   

The Focus Must Be On GOP...

The daily news digest today offers plenty of examples of the sort of on-going scrutiny the public oughta' apply to all elected officials ... in particular: Republicans. 

First Republican Calling For Impeachment
From the US House of Representatives Justin Amash (R-MI) appears to be the first member of the GOP to put a stake in the ground expressing his dissatisfaction with President Trump. [source]  Regarding his Tweet (right) I have no idea what AG Barr's intent may be, but I agree with Amash.  Barr has misrepresented the Mueller Report, and I think Trump's conduct warrants much deeper investigation which his administration is currently obstructing.  Those not abiding by Congressional Subpoenas should be charged with crimes - Barr, Steven Mnuchin - Treasury Sec't, Charles Rettig - Commissioner of the IRS ... each should be taken to court and forced to produce the material requested by Congress.  BTW: I found the responses on Twitter to Justin's posting to be rich & representative of the American public - there were a dozen or more reasonable replies essentially thanking him for taking a stand ... but as expected there are more than a few examples of harebrained thinking ... one person tried to connect the dots to the House Benghazi investigation (which found nothing after 4+ yrs of "investigation").  Overall I am not surprised but I am disappointed many members of Congress haven't bothered to read the Mueller Report ... chances are they're the same creeps who are saying the "investigation is over".  No, Mr. McConnell ... it's far from being over.  For those readers who also haven't read the report: see my "library" on right-hand column, item #8.

Michigan’s bridges are bad
The Detroit Free Press provides a detailed report on the state of our bridges (and roads) in Michigan and the country as a whole - the report includes a searchable map if you're wondering where the most dangerous Michigan bridges are located which you or your family may encounter on a regular basis.  I discovered I cross one such bridge that is rated "poor" each time I drive to Goodrich, a cute lil' village just East of us.  The bridge in question is on Baldwin Rd. over Thread Creek.  Another local bridge rated "poor" carries far more traffic:  it's the SB bridge connecting I-475 with SB I-75.

How does this happen?  Neglect.   We can "thank" our Republican controlled state legislature for inadequate funding - fortunately voters put a smart woman in the Governor's mansion this past mid-term election: Gretchen Whitmer has several proposals pending to begin fixing our problems with roads & bridges ... but predictably, the GOP controlled legislature is resisting, just as they are resisting common-sense auto insurance reform.  Folks, we need to put a shovel in the ground and stop waiting for Republicans to act before citizens are injured in the next bridge catastrophe.  It's time to take a stand.

Republicans have rigged Michigan's last 4 elections...
... "They want to rig one more" ... so says Brian Dickerson, the mostly brilliant editorial writer for the Detroit Free Press.  "In a unanimous ruling, the panel concluded that the Republican legislators and the Republican governor who drew Michigan's current political boundaries after the 2010 census had broken the law to give their party's legislative and congressional candidates an unfair advantage in every election since.  An illegal advantage."   An illegal advantage ... and yes, it was a Republican scheme.   The case will likely be appealed to the Supreme Court.  Will the majority of Associate Justices appointed by Republicans prevail?  Michigan voters passed, overwhelmingly, a referendum to have an independent commission be responsible after 2021 to revise/redraw Michigan's districts to ensure boundaries do not favor any political party ... but what about the 2020 election?

79% of Americans Favor "Choice"
The reality is that more than 7 in 10 Americans support Roe vs. Wade and the right to legal abortion.  Legislative action in multiple states is likely a desperate effort by Republicans who see their clout & influence in decline.  Before you respond: "Trump was elected and Republicans hold a majority in something like 29 state legislatures" consider that Clinton won the popular vote by more than 3 million, and many states are in court fighting claims of gerrymandered districts ... including Michigan.  Republicans & religious wing-nuts want to make it illegal for a woman to have an abortion ... soon!  Before they lose control of the White House & Congress.  They see the handwriting on the wall as Republicans are destined to become the minority party just as Anglo-white folk are about to become the minority ethnic designation in coming years.  The aforementioned Freep Editorial Director, Dickerson, published an excellent column this past week that should be cut out and posted above every water cooler in the state ... or clipped and mailed to your crazy Uncle Harry who just loves for government, not women themselves, to determine laws that govern reproductive health in this country.

posted 05.19.19 

A Nation Obsessed Over 'Smart Phones'

I noticed something in today's USA business section (aka: "money") and thought it was yet another example of how obsessed people have become over all-things smart-phone.  Nearly half of the text / articles in that section of the newspaper had something to do with "smart phones" (ok, for those seriously keeping track, 47.7% of the column-inches of news text that day had something to do with these devices).  There was a story about the next network generation for mobile connectivity dubbed: 5G.  Another story about a Smart Phone "app" for exercise, and yet another related to parents buying kids their first car - and the need kids feel to stay connected.

The telecommunications industry initially called 'em "cellular phones" then "mobile phones" ... and for 35-yrs their popularity has grown steadily.  Louise & I were among the first in the county to have mobile phones - in the mid-80's I was working for Ameritech and loved to be able to take advantage of time on the road to conduct business and stay in touch with customers and my office.  The phone was "hard-wired" with some equipment stashed under my seat ... and a cute pig-tail antenna affixed to my trunk lid. If I was near a tower, the reception was awesome ... trouble was, in 1985 there were not a lot of towers & coverage in rural areas was weak.  If I was traveling the signal along the I-75 & US-23 corridors was strong - but it was common to lose calls when driving a few miles away from the highway.  Then there were these pesky and expensive "roaming" charges if the call originated from a non-Ameritech tower (as if the consumer had any choice) ... and back then you paid for incoming and out-going calls.  Fortunately the bulk of my calls were business-related and reimbursed. 

Louise got a mobile phone a few years later commonly known as a "bag-phone" because all the components were neatly stuck in something that resembled a gym-bag which was typically left in the trunk of her car.  The early phone was awkward to use at times, it still provided state-of-the-art service in emergency situations.  That was a nice feature - the sensation that you had the ability to reach out and call someone just about any time you wanted or needed.  And, at first it was a novelty & lots of fun to say: "guess where I'm calling from!"

Today, it seems, people are lost without their "smart phones".  No matter where folks may be, they have their device glued to their ear, endangering the rest of us while driving their car, or out for a meal with family in restaurants ... everywhere.  After retiring, Louise & I opted to avoid upgrading to "smart phones" opting instead for a simple & cheap emergency pay-as-you-go "TracFone" - we are among the dinosaurs who still use a "land-line" at home.  But increasingly we have minor troubles doing business with some entities.  The other day we needed to make some changes with our bank and they asked for our "smart phone number" to send us a code ... when we confessed that we didn't have one the banker looked at us like we had a 3rd eye on our foreheads or something ... repeating out loud in that incredulous tone: "you don't have a smart phone...?"  

posted 05.17.19  [confession: astute, knowledgeable readers may know already - the above image of Mike is the product of Photoshop. The give-away?  Mike's '85 Volvo was a sedan, not a station wagon.]

Your President Is Obsessed With Twitter

In the past week your President has fired off 217 Tweets.  Allow me to repeat that fun-fact to ensure it sinks in: Donald J. Trump has sent on average 31 Tweets daily for the past week.  He's extended his trade war with China via Tweet, he's threatened via Twitter to take our country to war with Iran. He's even claimed to be responsible for the Boston Red Sox success, via Twitter.  He's slammed several US Congressmen, praised FOX News, attacked Democrats, Joe Biden, the NY Times, and the FBI ... all on his favorite social media tool ... a tool that few Americans even bother to use because it can be so moronic and simplistic.  Thirty-one times a day the President is sending out Twitter messages rather than acting like an adult ... 102 of his messages were "re-Tweets" (forwarding/sharing material someone else wrote) and 115 original Trump Tweets were written ... over 16 per day.  [source]

There are plenty of topics that Trump repeats - over and over.  Like his habit of denying climate change ... 106 times Trump has implied "global warming" is a hoax.  436 times he's Tweeted about the "fake news media". 

He's also obsessed with the opposition research report by Christopher Steele that began as a Republican project before DJT got the GOP nomination.  The matter is over 2-yrs old but he can not let it go ... once again referring to it as the "Fake Dossier" - even though no one in his administration and no one on Fox News has EVER proven any of the material in the report to be false.  "Fake Dossier"?  No Donald, it's real ... but it was simply an outline - a preliminary "opposition research" report like virtually all political campaigns assemble prior to an election.  But by constantly trashing the report you've brainwashed your base of supporters into believing that the Steele Dossier is something rare and hideous.  It's not - and those who have bothered to read it, understand that.  Trump supporters most likely have never read it (even though a .pdf copy has been right here on my bookshelf - glance to the right, it's item #4, Einstein).

Twitter claims to have over 328 million unique accounts but fact-checkers say 79% of those accounts are based outside of the US of A.  That means, according to PolitiFact.com that after subtracting duplicate accounts only about 15% of American voters use that social media platform.  What a waste of time ... given how involved the President is with these silly messages it's no wonder the country is falling apart.

posted 05.14.19

Tariff Lies: "We're the piggy bank everyone steals from"

President Donald Trump said Thursday that tariffs are an "excellent" alternative to a trade deal with China, proving once again how clueless he is with another manufactured crisis: U.S. trade negotiations with China.  "We were close to a deal (with China) so our country can take in $120 billion a year in tariffs ... paid for mostly by China by the way, not by us.  A lot of people try to steer it in a different direction ... ultimately it's really paid for by - largely - by China and businesses will pour back into our country so instead it will be the old fashioned way - the way we used to do, we'll be making our own product."

FACT-CHECK:  False.  Trump's tariffs are being paid mainly by American consumers.  Doubt me?  Read it for yourself ... Factcheck.org writes: "The president distorts the facts about tariffs — again ... tariffs are paid by US importers in the form of customs duties and ... by U.S. consumers in the form of higher prices.  They are not paid by China.

FactCheck.org also shared a quote from an interview that aired May 7 on NPR - former White House economic adviser Gary Cohn said: “For every dollar of tariff that’s collected, it’s coming out of disposable income of the United States consumer today.”

The remarks were made following a White House ceremony with Alex Azar Secretary of Health and Human Services and a cast of staff & assorted stakeholders to announce changes in medical billing practices, the Donald took questions from the press on a host of topics including attacks on the Mueller investigation, his son's subpoena, Iran, John Kerry, Barack Obama, and Democrats in general in addition to his ill-fated tariffs on Chinese imports.  The poor folks who were little more than fodder for the President as they stood uncomfortably for over 45 minutes, shifting weight from foot to foot, rarely smiling.  Too bad; it's what they get for supporting Trump.

[For those unfortunate folks who continue to support this President please watch the freaking video and see for yourself - Trump's China comments begin around the 16:00 mark, with more later @ the 31:00 mark in his rambling fact-challenged WH rant.]

posted 05.10.19

Are Republicans Clueless? Or, Is The GOP On A Mission To Self-destruct?

It seems to be intentional.  Almost every week there is some major political development somewhere across this great land that makes voters scratch their heads and ask: "are these Republican boneheads purposely pissing off American voters?"  Whether is it by design or just another silly example that proves this party has become the problem, those who still favor Republicans in any political office today oughta' consider the following:

  • This week the Georgia General Assembly sent Gov. Kemp a "heartbeat" bill making it illegal for women to secure an abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat which can happen as early as six weeks into pregnancy ... often before many women are even aware they are pregnant.  Georgia has 72 women serving on their state legislature, or roughly 30% of the state law-making body even though over 51% of the state population are women.  Yet this male-dominated group felt this may be their last chance (before they become a minority party) to ram another restriction thru in their never-ending anti-abortion fight to change "settled law".  [source]
  • Last November, 2018, Florida voters approved a referendum to restore voting rights for some 1.5 million people with prior felony convictions.  That leaves Iowa & Kentucky as the only states today in America that restricts voting rights for those with a felony on their record.   But now, some 6-months later the GOP controlled Florida legislature has passed a number of radical restrictions that will prevent the majority of felons in their state from ever casting a ballot.  Seems to be a violation of the "will of the people" doesn't it?  The restrictions will require Florida felons to pay back fines, and court costs - reminiscent of Poll Taxes from days gone by.  Republicans obviously fear that the majority of those regaining their right to vote after serving time will be inclined to vote for Democratic candidates & causes - which is an accurate concern.  [source]
  • In another case of Republicans ignoring the "will of the people" in 2012 Michigan residents voted to kill the "emergency manager law" put into place by GOP Governor Rick Snyder ... but in their infinite wisdom Michigan's gerrymandered GOP legislature voted to institute a new law that gave the state and their governor the right to impose their will & replace the Emergency Manager law ... which lead famously to the "Flint Water Crisis." In my humble opinion, Rick Snyder STILL needs to be prosecuted ... instead, the residents of Michigan continue to pay for his legal defense fund.  Sickening. [read more about Flint's ongoing problem with lead contaminated municipal water system]
  • President Trump has been attacking China for years, even before running for office.  So his manufactured "trade war" and imposing tariffs on some imported Chinese goods is not a huge surprise - but it's still a really dumb thing to do.  First, tariffs are paid by American consumers, not China.  So the resulting massive Wall Street declines this week are due 100% to Trump's actions.  I've written about this problem several times (below) but the 500-point decline on the NYSE gives me the right to say it again: "Folks, if you don't like seeing your investments and retirement savings decline ... stop voting for Republicans."  [it's not just Mike who thinks Trump's an idiot; virtually EVERY economist on planet Earth agrees.]

posted 05.08.19 - (and I fully anticipate adding to this article whew I've cooled-off a little...too pissed to write any more at the moment.)

Great Businessman?  Balderdash.  Trump Lost Over $1.1 Billion 1985 thru 1994

Shame we don't have his tax returns to confirm Trump's recent tax picture, but CNBC and the NY Times reported on Tuesday 05.07.19 that "Trump’s IRS receipts showed he lost money every year during the 10-year period, for a cumulative $1.17 billion loss overall."  The Times also said Trump didn’t pay income taxes in eight of 10-yrs 1985 thru 1994.  What a "great American?" we ask those who still support him in spite of his terrible track record which includes, documented, over 10,000 lies, inaccurate statements, and statements proven to be untrue. [source]

"Trump, who rose to national fame in the 1980s as a New York real estate magnate with a tabloid lifestyle, has refused to release his tax returns, citing an ongoing IRS audit. Every president since Richard Nixon has made their tax returns publicly available, and Democrats have used the issue to hammer and investigate Trump," CNBC reported.  Rightfully so. 

The Donald did not dispute the reports but naturally did attempt to distract the public with a series of Tweets - his preferred mode of communications.  "Real estate developers in the 1980’s & 1990’s ... were entitled to massive write offs and depreciation which would, if one was actively building, show losses and tax losses in almost all cases ... You always wanted to show losses for tax purposes," Trump said in part. Naturally he tried to brand the NY Times as "fake news" but never attempted to refute a single item in the report.  What a despicable human being.  On the bright side, just think of how much $$$ the country will save on Secret Service costs when Trump is voted out of office and spends the rest of his life behind bars for tax fraud, obstruction of justice, and dozens of other crimes.

posted 05.08.19

"Nasty Woman" Attack From Trump Sound Familiar?

Well it should if you've paid attention.  He attacked Hillary Clinton right in the middle of their 3rd "debate" back in 2016.  "Such a nasty woman," Trump said, interrupting Clinton who was answering a question about Social Security & taxes.  (Trump supporters doubt the accuracy of that statement?  Glad we have actual video confirming the ugly incident proving I am right and you are wrong.) 

Apparently some voters didn't care.  They voted for the creep anyway even after he refused to release his tax returns, and was charged by dozens of women for sexual assault, including evidence Trump had paid hush money trying to cover-up his escapades.  Now, after 2-yrs of destroying America's global reputation, adding $1.2 TRILLION to our national debt, and spreading evil, hate, discord & division among US citizens, the Donald is back to his disrespectful habit of attacking political opponents: "Trump told a FOX Business host that (Senator Kamala) Harris had "probably" been "very nasty" to Barr during the hearing."  [more proof: source

Glad to see Ms. Harris used the incident to her advantage - enjoying a boost to fund-raising for her Presidential campaign.  As mentioned below, Ms. Harris offered some of the best questions for Attorney General Wm. Barr at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings ... shame the FOX News fans likely missed the actual hearings and probably know as much about what is actually going on as Trump's crass, mindless white supremacist boosters shown above.

posted 05.03.09

Why Bother With Taking An Oath When All They Do Is Lie?

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) on April 9: “Reports have emerged recently, general, that members of the Special Counsel’s team are frustrated at some level with the limited information included in your March 24th letter, that it does not adequately or accurately necessarily portray the report’s findings. Do you know what they’re referencing with that?”  Barr said: “No, I don’t.”

In the same hearing Chris Van Hollen asked Barr whether Mueller supported his conclusions. The question was similar to Crist's and gave the AG another chance to come clean, but Barr opted to lie.  "I don't know whether Bob Mueller supported my conclusion,” Barr responded to Van Hollen.

How do we know these were lies?  Well, the day before the hearing it was revealed that Barr had received 2 letters from Mueller (dated 3/25 & 3/27) plus had a "speaker phone" conversation with Mueller ... witnessed by the Deputy Attorney General and members of their staff.  Sen. Richard Blumenthal asked for copies of any notes taken during the phone conversation with Mueller and Barr declined.  He knows he lied and doesn't want to turn over any evidence that can be used to expose his lies.

So come the next day amid criticism of Barr House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tries to put a little spin on the story & tells reporters he does not believe Attorney General Barr lied to Congress.  So much for McCarthy's credibility.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is right: the Attorney General lied, and it's a crime to lie to Congress.  Barr oughta' be charged ... and everyone who repeated stupid comments like Kevin McCarthy ... should also be outed, publicly shamed, and humiliated.  Why do voters continue to vote for Republicans???  These creepy people are just adding negative reasons to a really, really long list.

posted 05.03.19

Even Some On FOX News Are Critical of AG Barr's Distortions

Even FOX News has begun to wobble on their coverage of Trump and Attorney General William Barr, Trump's "personal Roy Cohn" for their simplistic and inaccurate claim that the Mueller Report cleared the President: "no collusion, no obstruction, total vindication".   The report says nothing of the sort even though the majority of FOX on-air personalities & opinion personnel incorrectly repeat the claim a few dozen times a day. 

So many of us are delighted to read that Chris Wallace, one of the few bona fide journalists employed by FOX News, has "called out opinion hosts employed by his own network on Wednesday [05.01.19] for 'pushing a political agenda'." Wallace points out that Robert Mueller's two letters to Barr do not support Barr's testimony at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.  [source]

Louise & I watched 90% of the 8-hour hearing and at times we both felt more than a little sick over the GOP Senators' questions (blaming Hillary Clinton and Democrats) rather that acknowledging Trump & his administration's despicable acts outlined in the Mueller Report.  Personally one of many highlights had to be when Senator Kamala Harris got Barr to admit that he made his decision to not charge President Trump with obstruction based solely on the Mueller report summary and never bothered to read the underlying supporting evidence.  So no, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) ... this is not over!

posted 05.02.19

Trade Negotiations With China Latest Trump Calamity

How pathetic are the American voters who fall for the Donald's nonsense?  The New York Times reported yesterday that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is nearing a settlement with China.  “We’re getting into the final laps,” Mnuchin was quoted as saying at the Milken Institute Global Conference.

Let's see ... the Donald creates a trade war with China a year ago when he single-handedly applied tariffs to imported Chinese steel & aluminum, among other products which drives the costs up on goods imported in the US of A - tariffs that the American consumer pays.  Also, tariffs are applied to steel & aluminum that our domestic automakers import to produce Chevys & Fords & Jeeps right here in the US of A ... the tariffs add roughly $700 per vehicle to the costs - again paid by American car & truck buyers.  It also reduces the annual bonuses of UAW autoworkers since added costs imposed by Trump, personally, goes right to the bottom-line profit used in calculating employee profit sharing plans.

CNBC appears to be in cahoots with Mnuchin: "According to the report, Mnuchin said that while both countries are nearing a deal, negotiations are reaching a stage where either an agreement could happen — or it could end without a deal."  I s'pose that must be true ... those are the 2 options: fail or succeed.

"But wait," the Trump administration hints to the media - a tiny tease for the voters to gnaw at for a few months.  "We've almost resolved this manufactured crisis ... just in time to give us something to brag about for the 2020 election" ... GOP primary elections begin in Iowa on February 3rd, 2020 and the general election is just 18-months away.  Wanna' guess what the odds will be that this topic is resolved before then?

posted 04.29.19

Social Media News Feeds Are Today's Version of Grocery Store Tabloids!

One aspect to the Mueller report and the investigation into Russian meddling in our 2016 election is that no one has found (yet) that actual votes were altered ... but rather, we've found that Russia's goal has been to sow discord in the US political system.  We have evidence Russians caused disarray and sought to promote disharmony abroad through orchestrated disinformation.  To influence voters they developed multiple, strategic messages of persuasion to be consumed by the electorate by creating Facebook groups for example.  This tactic used by Russian agents tried to make Tweets or various stories & topics go viral.  But rather than going too deeply here into that central issue I suggest that you read more about the origins (or "oranges" as the Donald puts it) of Russian interference.  The New Yorker magazine recently published an excellent summary, but there are plenty of great sources including the Mueller Report, which I assume you are in the process of reading ... because you know it's important to be informed.  (Don't cha?)

But where does one go these days to obtain such info and how do people today get connected with news? Media experts have been saying for years that viewership is down for "broadcast journalism" as are readers of physical newspapers.  People just are not keeping up with what is going on in the world around them ... which explains why 75% of "millennials" cannot name one of their home state's senators, according to a 2015 poll. Only 23% answered the question correctly.  I contend part of the problem is that most Americans today get their news from a newsfeed on their "smart phone".

You may be one of those folks - but can't really define "what is a newsfeed?"  Facebook (FB) says it is a collection of news stories that "matter to their users the most."  Say that's a swell namby-pamby explanation.  How the heck do they "know" what matters to you most?  Data-mining.  The pay attention to what you do read, and over time they develop a profile that drives your specific "news feed ranking" on your device.  Since I encourage folks to get their info as close to the source as possible, let's let FB explain ... Facebook, with it's "News Feed Ranking" their algorithms, "leverage available 'signals' and make a set of 'predictions' that help us to estimate how 'meaningful' we think every story will be to each person on Facebook."

In other words, the list of news topics on your phone doesn't reflect the actual importance of the story ... it's a list of stories FB thinks are best suited to keep you engaged in using their platform, thereby subjecting you to more ads from their sponsors.   Which is why you may be seeing stories like:  "Don't Waste Your Money On These Useless Trucks" ... or ... "Seniors Born Before 1953 Can Save on Medicare in Michigan".  Those "stories" compete with the latest world news about elections, wars, natural disasters, sports scores, or whatever is going on.  Instead of dwelling on hard news, you're tempted to waste more time to learn why "Susan Boyle Is So Skinny Now...And Looks Gorgeous".

The emphasis on "newsfeeds" often features a great deal of sensationalism, trivial events, along with a smattering of "hard news" much like the tabloids sold at grocery store checkout counters: National Enquirer, Star, The Globe, and National Examiner.  No wonder the Russian disinformation campaign is working and millions of voters were subject to Russian trolls and computer "bots" posting articles & feedback masquerading as real American voters.

postscript
To be fair, I will confess I scan topics & stories listed on Google News daily - some days I may check multiple times ... but that's partly 'cuz I'm a bit of a news junkie.  I studied journalism & business in college and worked for several papers early in my working career.  Today, we subscribe to 3 newspapers (the Detroit Free Press since the early '70's, the Flint Journal since the '80's, and USA Today since the early 2000's after leaving Ameritech).  "We're paper-rich," we like to say here at HighPointe.  Besides that collection of print news we also watch some form of "evening news" on TV during dinner ... typically PBS or NBC, as well as one or more cable news summaries - MSNBC's Rachel Maddow ... Nicole Wallace's Deadline: White House, Brian Williams' 11th Hour.  And just to be sure nothing falls thru the cracks I listen to NPR radio through the day and often catch some of Rush Limbaugh's bombastic, negative rants which really helps time fly during my daily walk on treadmill.  When big stories break I read actual source material like gov't reports, court decisions, etc.

I've noticed some trends on the Google News page ... same with the Market-Watch "news" page ... both appear to be more interested in selling advertising then they are in keeping you informed.  With so many Baby Boomers approaching retirement age rarely does a day pass when I don't see multiple stories like this: "Don't make this 'huge mistake' with your 401(k), says one expert" and "Are there advantages to filing for Social Security at 65?". The folks at Motley Fool post stories like this daily because their mission is to sell you something ... such as their special report: "The Social Security bonus most retirees overlook." It's just $16.95 the Fool says ... but first they want your email address so that they can send more direct mail solicitations to you in the future to help you part with more of your hard-earned money.  I get it, newspapers sell ads, as do most TV and radio stations.  But it's not quite the same sort of assault on your money & your mind ... newspapers don't publish a story with a cyber link to enrich their database. But these "news feeds" are hardly providing straight news ... it's a dangerous minefield readers have to maneuver to stay informed and watch what out that you don't step in something nasty.  Which is why I am suggesting it's not a smart move to rely 100% on your Facebook Newsfeed as your sole source for information.

posted 04.28.19 updated 04.29.19

Sarah Sanders Deserves “Lifetime Achievement Oscar for Lying”

So says Sam Donaldson, veteran ABC News White House reporter.   There are days, while anticipating an official White House Press Briefing (vs. one of the parking lot press encounters that has become the norm these days) when I'd program our faithful DVR to record a series of news talk shows for 1/2 of the day ... thereby ensuring I'd capture the complete briefing to view later - not just homogenized 10-second summary during the Evening News.  This habit began shortly after the first Sean Spicer briefing when he claimed Trump's inaugural attendance set records.  (It did not - not even close.)  Spicer became an excellent source for Saturday Night Live parody skits, and he didn't last long.

Amazingly the current official spokesperson, Sarah Huckabee Sanders has held the job the longest in this wild Trump administration ... since July 26, 2017.  I say "amazingly" because there likely has not been a single press briefing that she's held that was not riddled with controversy.  She attacks members of the press that she or Donald Trump do not like.  She is rude and condescending, and rarely answers direct questions completely.  So when I spotted an opinion article that depicted Sanders negatively, I had to read it.  To younger readers who may not be familiar, Sam Donaldson worked for ABC News from 1967 to 2013, much of that time focused on the White House.  Sam was recently quoted saying “Look, I’ve had the pleasure of working with almost every press secretary beginning with Pierre Salinger in John F. Kennedy’s administration and, except for Ron Ziegler who lied for Richard Nixon, I’ve never seen anything like this with Sarah Sanders,” Donaldson said.  And even when it came to Ziegler “there’s a difference” because “Ziegler lied about one thing” and that’s whether Nixon was engaged in a cover-up of Watergate but he was still truthful on other matters. On the other hand, “Sarah Sanders simply lies about everything, taking a cue from her boss. Not just one thing.”  [suggestion: read the entire article in Slate magazine it's really quite rich and offers an expert's view of the daily soap opera @ 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.]

posted 04.28.19

Elizabeth Warren:  thanks but no thanks!

Senator, I am grateful to you for your work on many issues including consumer financial matters.  Your work while serving the Obama administration lead to the creation in 2011 of our Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).  Well done.

The reason for my note today, however, is because I am not a fan of a number of your recent proposals. [link to details for those who aren't familiar with your plans]  I realize you're trying to garner some enthusiasm for your presidential campaign, but I think many of your proposals would cost too much and also destroy some elements of personal initiative and personal responsibility. Specifically, your proposal to cancel existing student debt seems to reward people who made a host of bad decisions.  (Estimated cost of the debt forgiveness plan: $1.25 TRILLION over 10-yrs.)  Can't say I'm wild about your "free college plan" either.  Some sort of assistance may well be desired at a local level for junior and community colleges but your broad plan is a bit too pricey for my tastes. 

While we're at it, as much as I detest Donald Trump, and have previously endorsed the notion that he needs to be impeached - but I have come to realize it's a foolish path without support of your Republican colleagues in the Senate.  Continue the investigations?  Sure.   But hasty moves to impeach the creep will just elevate the Donald to martyr status.  I would prefer to see those who mindlessly support Trump to wake up and do some personal investigating ... read ... think for themselves ... and in so doing, I'm confident most reasonable folks will come to the same conclusion that the majority of Americans have always held: that Donald Trump is not good for America - never has been.   The problems of the world are largely not caused by Donald Trump.   But many of the world's problems can be attributed to our disengaged electorate - voters who ignore facts and information, and make some really, really bad decisions. 

posted 04.23.19

Have You Read The Mueller Report?  Guaranteed, the Russians Are

Donald Trump's initial reaction to the release of the Mueller Report and his personal attorney Wm. Barr's 4-page summary was predictable: "no collusion, no obstruction, total vindication, total exoneration" ... and the media dutifully repeats the same claims including video sound bytes and reprints of numerous Twitter messages.  Never mind the fact that Mueller's report did not say that; the PR battle was launched attempting to frame the conversation.  First impressions matter when we're dealing with a base of supporters who will never bother to read the actual report.  But facts have a way of coming out.  Are enough voters paying attention?

So now, after a few days of news coverage devoted to the actual text of the redacted version of Mueller's Report, the Donald and his surrogates are scrambling to advance the argument that the same report they initially embraced, is now "fabricated" and untrue.  Even though many of the investigators on Mueller's team, including Mueller himself, are registered Republicans, the Donald spews assorted falsehoods: "the product of 18 angry Democrat Trump haters" and question the validity of the "oranges" of the investigation - an obvious "illegal hoax".  The investigation "never should have happened" says a parade of FOX News sycophants.  Forget the fact that the 448-pg report identifies 140 contacts between team Trump & Russians & WikiLeaks.  Forget the details about TEN instances of possible obstruction, or the 14 open investigation cases that are still pending (12 of which were redacted in the report).  It's obvious that Trump supporters do not understand the distinction that a decision not to indict is not the same as being declared innocent.  Even Attorney General Barr attempted to frame the discussion by mischaracterizing Mueller's findings in thinly veiled pre-buttal 30-minutes before the redacted report was released.  Trump and Barr realize the facts in the report are not flattering - they know they are not winning the debate based on facts, so they try winning public opinion.  "The investigation never should have happened," the Donald Tweets.  He's right - voters never should have elected the creep.

posted 04.21.19 

Mitt Romney "Sickened" by Trump White House Dishonesty

The Associated Press reports that Sen. Mitt Romney (UT-R) has read the Mueller Report and is "sickened" by the evidence that Trump's campaign welcomed help from Russia and he's "appalled" by the dishonesty found in the Trump White House by Federal investigators in the 2-yr probe into Russian meddling of the nation's 2016 election.  Trump responded as he often does with one of his infamous juvenile Twitter attacks suggesting that "Romney should have put the same energy into running for president in 2012 that the Utah Republican has tapped in criticizing him." [source]

According to the Donald, had Romney "spent the same energy fighting Barack Obama as he does fighting Donald Trump, he could have won the race (maybe)!"  American voters should note that in 2012 the percentage of popular votes for Romney was slightly greater than the popular vote Trump received in 2016 ... when Trump got 3 million FEWER votes than Hillary Clinton.  Romney is also one of the only Republican leaders to be critical of Trump.  Will anyone else grow a spine?  And if not, why would voters continue to support Donald Trump in the face of so much negative evidence?  Likely that support comes from the MAGA fool who listens to Rush Limbaugh and/or FOX News and hasn't bothered to read the Mueller Report.  Pathetic.

posted 04.21.19

Redacted Version of Mueller Report Released; Time to Read, Absorb

After another attempt to spin the facts by Donald's Trump's attorney William Barr the redacted version of the "Mueller Report" has finally been released.  It should have been out weeks ago; Barr has proven that he's working almost exclusively for Trump and not for the American people.  I hope citizens do themselves a huge favor and read it rather than letting FOX News, Sean Hannity, Barr, or even the Donald himself attempt to water-down the preliminary findings...they already are trying to do that.  Congress should indeed file subpoenas today to obtain the rest of the report and supporting materials. 

The first step should be some analysis on the Attorney General's redactions - likely he's concealing material that is damaging to the President or his supporters. The material should be revealed and legal action should begin immediately to bring to justice those who knowingly participated in this attempt to cover-up truth. 

In my humble opinion the Congressional "gang of eight" should receive a copy of the totally unredacted report, with all supporting background material.  The public version should have redactions only on material the intelligence community considers to be their "sources and methods" as well as the info that would interfere other ongoing prosecutions.  The other 2 categories that Barr redacted should be challenged: grand jury testimony, & third party material involving "peripheral players" who were not charged with crimes (yet). The matters are too critical to limit the information available to the American people, and releasing the FULL REPORT is consistent with the handling and release of previous reports of this type.  Some legal action should be taken against the White House and Attorney General for the 3-week delay that fostered Trump to inaccurately claim exoneration (see article below).

Download .pdf  (save file and read off-line)
posted 04.18.19

Mueller Report Details Conflicts With Trump & Barr Assessment

"...no collusion, no obstruction, complete and total exoneration," President Trump said following the release of the Mueller report - but the trouble is, like many of the things this President says, that is not accurate.  The Mueller Report actually says just the opposite: "...if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him."  Volume 2, page 8 (also referred to as page 220 in the full report under the subsection "conclusion". [bold emphasis and underlined text added by Mike to make sure the wing-nuts don't just gloss over the material and ignore the facts.]
posted 04.18.19

Mueller Report Confirms Much of What Trump Says, Are Lies

"I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge no person that I deal with does," says Trump in February 2017.  He repeated that tale hundreds of times since the investigation began, and usually added phrases like "hoax" and "witch hunt" and "fake news".  Trouble is, the Donald's quote is on video so it's hardly fake...and it has been documented that 17 Trump campaign officials and advisers had contacts with Russian nationals...over 100 meetings and/or calls took place.  [read more at the LA Times]

CNN Business reports today "Sarah Sanders Huckabee admitted she lied to the White House press. Does she have any credibility left?"  Quick answer: no.  "Robert Mueller's report confirms that Sanders simply made it up when she said that "countless" FBI agents had told her that they were thankful Trump had fired FBI Director James Comey," reports CNN.  Sarah's remarkable admission is hardly the 1st time she's been questioned about her efforts to communicate accurately - she's been accused of repeated deceptive practices during her nearly 2-yr gig on Trump's "communication team".  But now the truth is revealed in Mueller's report — striking largely because Sanders Huckabee has actually fessed-up to her lies.  Hopefully if she holds another press briefing in the future the media will ignore her & not attend.

posted 04.18.19 - updated 04.19.19 and as Mike reads more of the Mueller Report, additional notes will be added.

Mike's Hunch: Income Disparity Will Become A Bigger Issue

One topic that is top-of-mind for me these days is the issue of income equality. More to the point, income disparity. I am confident many of the problems in our world today are a result of the massive gap that separates those surviving on average or below average incomes vs. the mega rich. Keep in mind that I am a devoted capitalist, and have profited from some really good paying jobs over time through periods of stellar growth as well as some of the most challenging economies in modern history. Louise & I survived outrageous mortgage interest rates of the 1980's which were as high as 18% ... and we flourished through the fabulous 1990's growth years that many called the “dot.com boom” which was followed by the “dot.com bust” in the early 2000's. No, I didn't own the highly speculative dot.com stocks (mostly tech-based firms). We did survive the '08 recession and economic meltdown by keeping our heads on straight & staying fully invested in solid, conservative holdings: mutual funds with low fees, municipal bonds, and government agency bonds. (Mike's a particular fan of Treasury Bonds and detests paying interest ... hasn't had a car loan since the 80's and today drives a trusty sorta' rusty 14-yr old pick-up truck.)

Some economists say that a low-level of income or wealth disparity helps fuel growth and investment activity which benefits all of society – low and high earners alike.  I'm not convinced; I worry more about social unrest, crime, and political instability. There has to be some connection as well to the overall health of citizens, educational opportunities, and may even lead to cases of political corruption. Wealthy groups of people often spend money to gain political favor among political figures and to appeal to voters of like socioeconomic status.

My interest in conservative economics does not mean I am politically conservative; increasingly I see income disparity growing and becoming a larger issue for all of society. And it's not just me – the media has been filled with stories about the Haves and the Have Nots … heck, even Oprah had a TV show by that same name on her network in 2013. Think of cries for $15/hr minimum wage 'burger flipping jobs and all the talk about the top 1% of wage earners in recent years. The disparity did decline slightly during the '07-'08 recession but today CEO compensation is rapidly increasing while pay to the average worker is not. Michigan's minimum wage is currently $9.45/hr. compared to our pathetic Federal rate of $7.25. 

Meanwhile, the rich get richer: CNBC reports the typical CEO at 350 of the largest companies in the USA was paid over $15 million/year … more than 270 times greater than the average worker income at these same companies. Forty-yrs ago that figure (CEO vs. average worker pay) was 30:1.

Among the many things I've gleaned from my readings about vintage participants of the Golden Age of Sport, 1920-40, gives me a better appreciation for the evolution of pay and income in pro sports over the past hundred years.  Early professional football players often were paid a set amount per game … typically $100 (which would be worth about $1,437 in today's dollars). At his peak for earnings power Babe Ruth earned $80,000 as a ball player … which is a bundle in that era ('14-'19 Boston & '20-'32 NY) and translates to about $1.25 million today - a far cry from what lesser talented players make these days. I recall reading as a kid that Al Kaline, Hall of Fame outfielder for the Detroit Tigers, refused a salary offer of $100,000 reflecting a nominal increase from his 1970 $95K earnings because Kaline said his performance the previous year did not warranted it.

Contrast those earnings with sports stars today: LeBron James, NBA basketball player, rakes in $85.5 million/yr. Several baseball players recently signed lucrative free agent deals: Mike Trout has a record-breaking $32 million annual contract with the California Angles for the next 12-yrs. (That's $384 million over the life of contract.)  And Bryce Harper's new deal from the Philadelphia Phillies will pay him $330 million over 12-years. USA Today recently listed major league baseball salaries team-by-team … currently the Chicago Cubs have the highest average salaries in the major leagues: over $7 million per player. Keep in mind, that's AVERAGE. No wonder it costs north of $100 to see most major sporting events (seat, parking, snack) ... ten times that for a Super Duper Bowl ticket ... same goes for those attending music concerts and Broadway productions.  How can the average dude or dudette afford to attend these events?

While salaries earned by athletes and entertainers can dominate the spotlight, their careers are often shorter than many business people.  One good example of an over-paid business exec is Gary Cohn, former director of the National Economic Council advising President Trump.  Prior to coming to the White House Cohn made much of his fortune on Wall Street ... the final 3-yrs working for Goldman Sachs were particularly profitable.  Cohn was paid $21 million in 2014, $22 million in 2015, and $40 million in 2016 for salary, bonuses, stock options and dividends.  But wait, there's more!  Goldman Sachs also paid Cohn a tidy severance package worth $285 million upon his departure.  Final tally, three years: $368 million.  While Gary likely took some vacation time during those 3-yrs I don't have the details, so for illustrative purposes, let's just assume he worked really, really, really hard for that much cash and was on-the-job 365 days a year.   That translates to $336,073.06 per day.  And when we say Gary worked really hard, let's assume he put in 12-grueling hours each day for 3-straight years...or $28,006.09 per hour.  He made more in just one hour than it cost 14-yrs ago for my trusty rusty pick-up truck  [source].   Pause here for effect and ponder what it might be like to "earn" $28K an hour and then think about Cohn's primary task in the Trump administration: getting the Trump tax cut for corporations and wealthy individuals passed by Congress which had GOP majorities in both houses.  A massive tax cut was promoted during Trump's 2016 campaign & advertised as a benefit for the average citizen ... so much for honesty among the GOP who previously claimed to oppose any increase to our national debt.  Even the Treasury Dept estimates over 10-years that Trump's "tax cuts" are adding $2.3 trillion to our debt that your grandkids get to pay for [source].

Parade Magazine, the famously shallow Sunday newspaper magazine supplement, recently published their annual “what people earn” feature. It compared the income figures for dozens of average Americans like an aircraft mechanic who makes $80,050 or a travel agent who earns $45,000. The US Bureau of Labor stats says the average worker in America earns just about what the travel agent mentioned above in the Parade article: $46,889 /yr. 

This really is a story about greed ... and hypocrisy.  Its easy for me to get sidetracked on this topic because there are so many elements which expose the evil side of individuals & groups of people, particularly on the right.  Think about how crazy it is for a guy like Gary Cohn who, just a year ago, had pocketed $28,006/hour but now has the gall to stand before the American people and brag, with a straight face, about a plan that cut taxes by an average of $4,000 per household.  Tell me again why people keep voting for Republicans. 

posted 04.08.19
update 04.19.19 - GM CEO EARNS $21.8 MILLION WHILE CLOSING 4 US FACTORIES
Detroit Free Press reports on 04.19.19: "General Motors CEO Mary Barra took home slightly less in 2018 than the previous year, but remains one of the 20 highest- paid CEOs in America. For 2018, Barra's total compensation was $21.87 million - about 281 times as much as GM's median employee's compensation of $77,849, according to figures the company released Thursday. In 2017, Barra was compensated $21.96 million."   Wow ... the average GM worker does pretty darn well compared to the national average ... so much for the Donald's recent attack on labor. FOX News reports: "The president criticized the leadership of United Automobile Workers and called on them to lower the membership fees for the organization's 400,000 members."

update 04.23.19 - Disney heiress: CEO Bob Iger’s $65 million salary is ‘insane'
...according to Abigail Disney, granddaughter of company co-founder Roy Disney.  Reportedly Iger’s salary jumped 80% in 2018 to $65.6 million — 1,424 times more than that of the median company employee.

DHS Sec't Nielsen Quits Amid "Security Crisis"

News that Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security has resigned follows a string of failures and disappointments in her job performance ... from both conservatives & progressives.  Just this past week Federal officials indicated it could take DHS 2-yrs to reconnect thousands of immigrant children who were separated from their parents & families along the US Southern border [news source].  Two freaking years!  Tell me again why former Attorney General Sessions, and Nielsen, and Donald J. Trump are not all in jail over this despicable act of cruelty.

It's understandable if Trump's supporters are often confused or misinformed given the volcano of incompetence exhibited by the Executive Branch on a daily basis.  Republicans and FOX News seem to have forgotten about the Donald's Executive Order to hire 5,000 agents "to seal off the Southern border" as they continue to manufacture one crisis after another.  I realize it's hard to keep up with all the craziness.  But consider this: if it truly is a crisis why has the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection added only 118 Border Agents since Trump authorized hiring 5,000 on January 25, 2017?  [link to Trump's Exec Order so you can read it for yourself]

That little fun-fact bears repeating once more: Trump approves adding 5,000 Border Agents but his team hired only 118 agents over two years How does that Executive Order align with other Trump statements like: “Nobody’s ever been more successful than me”?

posted 04.08.19
[Those who doubt the accuracy of this observation are welcome to read about it at length for yourselves ... but be forewarned - reading actual "news" and facts may prove to be unsettling.]

Trump Economy - Is It Really Better Than The Path We Were Already On?

No.  But I am always amazed when I hear voters say they support their President because of what he's done for the nation's economy.  When pressed to offer details, very few can accurately provide any specifics...so I did a little research and have some facts to support my opinions.

Jobs
As mentioned several times on this "blog" (see below), during the economic recovery 2009-2016 Americans enjoyed some 97 consecutive months of jobs growth.  Wages were slowly rising too.  So while it's good news that this trend continued during the Trump Presidency, the Donald can hardly stake a claim that he alone is responsible for the recovery ... it was already happening.

Wall Street
Most investors know the markets have been in a slump for over a year, but showing positive signs for 2019.  Personally my investments are still worth less today than they were over a year ago - my high-water mark is still January 29th, 2018.  And it's not just me ... the Dow Jones Industrial Average was worth 26,616 points on 01.29.18 ... it closed yesterday at 26,258  (358 points lower than it was 14-months ago).   NASDAQ and the S&P 500 are both fractionally higher today than 15-months ago.  How is your IRA or 401K looking?

GDP
Ah, but Trump supporters like to point to the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) which Trump predicted would grow by 4% under his stewardship.  "During each of two previous administrations, we averaged just over 1.8 percent GDP growth," Trump said ... which is actually not true.  The 8-year average for the Obama administration is 2.1% growth ... and that was during one of the worst recessions the country has ever experienced.   The Donald continued to stretch the truth: "By contrast, we are now on track to hit an average GDP annual growth of over 3 percent, and it could be substantially over 3 percent."  How are we doing you ask?  Well the team-Trump has yet to hit 3% let alone exceed it.  2018: 2.9%;  2017: 2.2% ... not much better than President Obama's last two years in office (2015: 2.9%; & 2016: 1.6%). 

Trade Deficit
Well, surely all of Trump's efforts to crack down on China for stealing American intellectual property and causing our trade deficit to grow has had an impact, right?  Well, not in a positive way ... our trade deficit keeps growing: 2016 $736.5 billion, 2017 $795.6 billion, 2018  $878.7 billion ... and growing again in 2019 thanks in large part to the Donald's tariff squabbles with China.  And guess who is paying the tariff?   Yep, the American consumer.  Just about anything made of steel like cars, trucks & America's favorite SUV now costs more (thanks to the Trump steel tariff) and farmers all across this rich, fertile land are selling less abroad as China has retaliated with tariffs on stuff we grow and sell to them.  Still doubt me?  Here's an article that the Trump boosters need to read:  "TRUMP'S TRADE WAR HAS HURT MIDWESTERN FARMERS. NOW, THEY'RE FIGHTING BACK."  It breaks my heart to hear about farmers who are forced to sell out after generations of sweat and toil. 

Budget deficit
The Trump administration spends $779 billion more than his Treasury Department collects.  That's over $194 billion more than the budget deficit in Barrack Obama's final year in office...over 30% higher.  Oh, the Donald is such a brilliant businessman: "I went from VERY successful businessman, to top TV. Star ... to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius," Trump said.  No wonder ... Trump's Budget Director is former Congressman Mick Mulvaney who rode the Tea Party wave into Congress in 2010 as white nationalists rose to prominence following 2-years with Barrack Obama in the White House.  Mulvaney has held 3 positions during just 2-yrs of Trump's administration: Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Chief of Staff, Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  He still holds 2 of those jobs today: Chief of Staff & Budget Director.  Personally, I think that is because Trump can not find anyone who is both qualified and willing to take a job in his administration.   

National Debt
It keeps growing.  After 8-yrs of the last Republican in the White House our national debt nearly doubled and many Americans are still underwater today.  And the trend continues under the Donald's watch.  Our debt clock reads: $21.46 TRILLION ... up $1.92 trillion during Trump's occupation of the WH.

So, with these verifiable facts listed above, how are Trump supporters feeling now?  Clearly our strong economy has little to do with anything Trump has done ... his tax cuts for the wealthy have only added to our national debt.   Oh, you never saw the $4,000 individual tax cut Trump was promising you?   When that fact is pointed out many Trump fans pivot and point to his judicial picks as their basis for supporting him. "He's done more for America than any President in history," one wing-nut booster said in Grand Rapids, MI last week while waiting to attend a Trump Rally.  Most Democratic & Independent voters agree - yes, Mr. Trump has implemented a great deal of change ... but not in a good way.

posted 04.02.19
update: 04.08.19 - from the department of "you've gotta' be freaking kidding me" comes a report from the DailyBeast that says essentially, no matter how brilliant the assessment above may be, there is a new poll that says "78% of GOP Fox News Viewers Say Trump Is Best President Ever".  Seriously.

They used to be considered "fringe" but somehow have become "mainstream"

It literally makes me ill sometimes when we consider who it is who has influence on the President or his administration or the base of conservative voters ... factually these folks tend to get it wrong more often than they get it right.  Just a few years ago, these people rarely were considered to be influential.  Not any more.  Guys like Sean Hannity have become part of the Donald's unofficial cabinet.  Consider the following observations (with links to some really great articles about these people):
Rush Limbaugh - the self-prescribed "Mayor of Realville" has a large national audience but continues to refer to the Steele Dossier as "fake" and says nothing in it is true. Actually, Rush, the reverse is true; nothing in the dossier has been proven to be false.
Laura Ingraham - former conservative talk radio host - moved into prime time FOX slot when Bill O'Reilly got fired for inappropriate behavior. Once dated fellow wingnut film-maker Dinesh D'Souza.
Steven Moore - former WSJ writer & head of Club for Growth now is a Trump nominee for the Federal Reserve Board despite the fact that he owes the IRS some $75,000 and has not accurately predicted a single economic development in decades.
Steven Miller - far-right political activist & Trump advisor...seriously. Came to admin thanks to Steve Bannon (below) and one of the loudest voices & author of assorted scare tactics concerning election fraud (even though he's never been able to prove his case).
Betsy DeVos - while spending some $8 million/yr on her personal security detail, our Education Sec't has advocated cutting $18 million in Federal funding for Special Olympics* ... says private donations should fund such programs.  She's also, a huge fan of Charter schools ... ruining the nation's public education system. (Ironic. USA Today editors must have read this as they publish a report this morning 03.29.19 blasting Charter Schools in America - and with good reason!)
Jason Chaffetz - former Congressman loves the limelight so much he resigned just 4-mo after his '16 re-election to take a job with FOX News. Bet Utah voters loved that maneuver, or was there another reason for quitting before fulfilling his term? (Yes.)
Sean Hannity - with rich life experiences (former self-described construction "grunt" & bartender) it's no wonder the FOX News host can be so helpful in advising the President on politics & gov't. Not.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders - tough gig being the spokesperson for an administration that peddles nearly a dozen falsehoods daily. Sarah has set records for having the highest levels of "pants-on-fire" statements on PolitiFact.
Jefferson Sessions - Beauregard fell out of favor with the Donald because of his recusal on all matters related to the Mueller investigation, but he worked hard advancing his conservative agenda for 2-yrs before getting the boot. The plan to separate immigrant children from parents was Jeff's bright idea.
Steve Bannon - he resigned early on and went back to running Breitbart Media.  Hey, this summary is getting a bit too serious & factual - so for fun follow my link to one of my favorite Trump-bashing parodies by the talented Randy Rainbow
Jim Jordan - under investigation for concealing a sexual assault scandal while he coached at Ohio State Univ. The Congressman likely owns the fewest number of suits or sport coats among anyone serving in Congress ... he prefers the rumbled-shirt look with a poorly tied necktie.
John Bolton - there is a reason GW Bush could not get Bolton confirmed by the Senate as UN Ambassador. This angry man is turning out to be one of Trump's more moderate advisors.
Tucker Carlson - FOX commentator used to be the conservative foil on MSNBC 2005-'08 when GOP held the WH.  Famously says immigrants are "dirty" which really does not help drive positive debate on the issues. Also founder of the flame-throwing "Daily Caller" and a devoted climate change denier.
Marsha Blackburn - junior Senator from TN actually takes pride in being referred to as a "wing nut".  Seems to relish attacking all things Planned Parenthood.
Jesse Watters - turned fake "man-on-street" interviews into a full-time gig at FOX...even though virtually none of his interviews are factually accurate. Jesse gives new meaning to the description: "smart-ass".
Kimberly Guilfoyle - former FOX News eye-candy - began dating Donald Trump Jr. while he was still married to Vanessa Trump.  Oops.  Today, she works on a pro-Trump Super - PAC.

posted 03.28.19
03.29.19   *Public outcry forces Trump administration to flip-flop...Donald agrees to fund Special Olympics.

Special Prosecutors Report Just The Beginning

The way conservative news venues are reporting the completion of Robert Mueller's investigation and report delivered to Attorney General William Barr is both maddening and laughable.  Fox News has plastered the ever-present "news alert" banner to their broadcast screen and have aired teaser promos, like: "what is in the Mueller Report?  (Tune in to learn...) everything you need to know about the Russia investigation."   Right.   The fact that the report has been submitted to AG Barr in the Justice Department is about all we know at this point - very little content has been released but that doesn't stop radical right-wing extremists to claim: "see??   No collusion ... it's all been a hoax & waste of time and money."

I agree with the majority of folks who are calling for virtually the entire report to be made public with only a few minimal redactions.  Since the scope of the Mueller investigation was quite narrow, any questionable issue that has been uncovered that did not involve Russian interference with the 2016 election has been referred to others in the Justice Department, such as the raid on Trump attorney Michael Cohen's office and residences.  Other investigations into WikiLeaks, the Trump Foundation and assorted dirty deals by the President's business empire (falsifying property values, for example) will be further investigated by Congress & other Justice Department entities. 

Meanwhile, the Republicans and conservatives have bombarded the public with nonsensical "analysis" that the "witch hunt" is over.  Republican/conservative wing nuts have been dwelling on the cost of the investigation ($25 million) while ignoring that the fines already levied against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort included over $22 million in real estate forfeitures and another $20 million in assorted assets & cash.   Mueller’s team indicted or secured guilty pleas from 34 people including six former Trump advisers, 26 Russian nationals, three Russian companies, and a UK-based lawyer. Seven of these people (including five of the six former Trump advisers) have pleaded guilty.  Advisor Roger Stone goes to trial in November.  And likely there with be a host of additional indictments from other branches of DOJ and the NY state attorney general.  This is far from being "over".

posted 03.24.19

New Feature - Mike's version of "point vs. counterpoint"

Back in the 70's there used to be a popular feature on the Sunday evening 60 Minutes program called Point-Counterpoint (writer Shana Alexander & conservative James Kilpatrick) - they'd go toe-to-toe and beat some issue to death but generally with a bit of humor.  My version of it will attempt to address some of the whacky things said by people in the news and apply a factual response ... for example:  just minutes after announcing his national emergency over border security issues, the Donald hopped on a plane - destination?  Florida for some "well deserved" golf!

point: via Twitter...Donald Trump said in May 2016 "While our wonderful president was out playing golf all day, the TSA is falling apart, just like our government! Airports a total disaster!"

counterpoint: yep, Barack Obama enjoyed a round of golf and a few vacations each year which Conservatives loved to use as fodder for their ritualistic attack each time the President and Michelle Obama flew off to Hawaii or wherever...the destination made little difference, radical right wing commentators would howl.  CBS News reporter Mark Knoller has earned a reputation for keeping track of such details and he calculates during his first year in office President Trump was on "vacation" for a portion of 97 days.  In contrast, President Obama took on average 40 days of vacation time per year during his 8-yr term in office.  
[read more & even more

posted 03.01.19   (While digging up a few of these fun-factoids I'm reminded that Saturday Night Live loved to poke fun at the Point-Counterpoint segment ... viewer discretion advised for those who opt to click the link.)

Iconic WW2 Kissing Sailor Dies at 95 - Inspires Parody

With former Trump attorney & fixer Michael Cohen testifying this week in Washington our master deal maker President has trotted off to Vietnam to solve a decades old North Korean problem that only he alone is able to solve.  He's desperate for a "win."  Meetings between Trump and N. Korean leader Kim Jong-un broke off when they were unable to reach an agreement much to the relief of virtually the entire world.

To Mr. Trump & all the radical right wing extremists who are delighted that our President has engaged in dialogue ... there's a reason his predecessors did not meet face-to-face with Kim (or his father before him) ... the simple act of such a meeting gives Kim a partial victory & lends legitimize his regime. 

The famous pose to the right was captured as the world celebrated the end of WW2.  Sadly, the 95-yr old former sailor George Mendonsa passed away a few weeks ago.

posted 03.01.19

Republicans Appeal to Dirty Tricksters While Progressives & Liberals Advance Real Policy Debate & Serious Dialogue

Jacob WohlWhile I may not agree with 100% of the details behind some ideas proposed by Democrats & liberals - like the New Green Deal, or Medicare For All, or free college tuition for all ... I do respect the notion that at least these are serious ideas meant for discussion.  On the flip side it seems the radical right-wing extremists only care to mix things up with falsehoods, lies, and mischaracterization of facts.  A feature story in this morning's USA Today proves this to be true in their introduction to 21-yr old right wing flame-thrower Jacob Wohl of California.  Wohl is the brainchild of the debunked rumor that Robert Mueller was having an inappropriate sexual encounter.  He was also the guy behind the flawed Kamala Harris birther charge that she was raised in Canada.

The fact that these stories were quickly debunked doesn't seem to bother Wohl - because he knows a certain amount of the fake tales tossed against the social media walls do happen to stick. “The believability stuck at about 15 to 18 percent by my measurement,” Wohl said in an interview shortly afterward, declaring it “not a bad campaign.” 

So Wohl's projects have nothing to do with solving problems or advancing serious ideas ... no, it's all about spreading mischief and creating doubt among a group of voters who are known to turn out in future elections and get people like Louie Gohmert, Jim Jordan, Steve King, and Donald Trump into office.  Heck, Republicans just re-elected two Congressmen currently under Federal indictment for fraud (Collins (R-NY) & Hunter (R-CA) ... but that's a factual matter of a different sort. 

To get back on track, consider USA Today's  description of Wohl's research methods which he casually explained that he makes it up: “I’ll literally hear one thing and I’ll flip it 180 degrees.”  He makes stuff up & admits it.  Makes stuff up ... like other right-wing flamer-throwers Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, Sean Hannity and the vast majority of bimbos & news readers on Fox News ... and people don't even care because whatever the whack-a-doodle story is, it supports their personal beliefs.  Remember the case of James O'Keefe and his debunked videos in 2009 about ACORN voter registration?  It was proven to be false but I suspect there are more than a few radical right-wing extremists who do not know that.  They'd be part of the same uninformed rabel who still believe to this day in the discredited Planned Parenthood videos.

Wohl reportedly has 186,000 followers on Twitter who may be the ideal folks to help spread his falsehoods & lies.  USA Today says that Wohl stressed that the accuracy of the information he spreads is “not the important part.” All that matters is how far those claims travel, and how many people believe them.  In the spread of information, he said, truth is an obsolete concept. “It’s something that can’t be thought about in a linear, binary true-false, facts-non-facts – you can’t do that anymore,” Wohl said.

Tell me again why it is that you're still supporting Republicans.

posted 02.26.19

update 02.27.19 - USA Today reports that Twitter has permanently suspended Wohl's accounts.  Good move ... now we need to work on removing thousands of similar flame-throwing accounts and stop allowing this sort of "fake news" from being posted in the 1st place!

The list of  Trump hypocrisy  keeps growing & growing

Those with challenged memories may need a bit of prompting to recall the immigration debacle of 2014.  Republicans who controlled Congress refused to address immigration issues so President Obama took action to deal with the estimated 800,000 residents who were brought to America as children by their parents.  DACA - Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This action on DACA stemmed from a multi-departmental policy memorandum issued by Homeland Security and the US Customs & Border Protection, US Citizenship & Immigration Service, and ICE - US Immigration & Customs Enforcement ... the very agencies that President Trump loves to cite when attempting to justify his personal biases.   

If your memory needs further factual refreshing read this.  Radical right-wing extremists cried foul and went to the courts to block it.   The trouble is Congress couldn't defund DACA since the program is almost entirely funded by its own application fees rather than congressional appropriations.

So now your two-faced President Trump who said he was the world's best negotiator - but could not get Congress to agree to his threats ... which lead to the nation's longest "government shutdown" in history.  And now he's the one who's guilty of  subverting Congressional authority by funding his manufactured "national emergency" to build the border wall that Mexico was s'posed to pay for ... he will likely fail as several law suits have already been filed to block this ridiculous hypocrisy.

posted on Presidents Day 02.18.19

If the clown face fits, wear it, Rush!

Thursday I caught Rush Limbaugh's opening radio segment while walking on treadmill and was not the least bit surprised when he spent essentially the entire 1st hour conflating & twisting a news report he obviously did not read, titled: "You may be disappointed by the Mueller report," by Ken Dilanian, NBC national security reporter.  Limbaugh took the headline, inserted his own harebrained "deep state" interpretation and twisted facts as usual to prove there has been "no collusion".  Go ahead and read the transcript of his show if you question the accuracy of my comment.  You'll find on that page his staff inserted a photoshopped picture of John Brennan, the nation's former CIA Director with a clown nose ... so I thought I'd turn the tables and see how Rush looked with the same disrespectful spin.   

"It's been a conspiracy on the left to discredit Trump and remove him from office," El Rush Bo ranted.  Well, yes, most Americans do wish to remove Trump from office - but there is no "conspiracy".  Most Americans are disgusted over the many things Trump has said and done prior to the election and since he's been in office.  Americans want Trump out of office for cause ... not just because we don't like the guy ... we don't like what he is doing!

Since you read the article linked above you know the point of Dilanian's NBC News piece was to explain the concern many of us have that the Trump administration will attempt to hide the findings of whatever report that the special prosecutor's investigation produces.  There is no road map that defines how the report is to be released; there is no definition of what details will be shared with the public.  Fortunately there is proposed bipartisan legislation from Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) that is designed to clarify these issues and ensure the findings of the investigation are fully communicated to the American people.  It's a shame you didn't actually read the story you were reporting, Rush.

posted 02.16.19 

Several Movements Brewing - Several Paths Toward Recovery

Whether it is the result of assorted investigations, or direct legal action I say it's time to take the "impeach Trump" movement seriously.  Nearly 8 million Americans have signed the online petition to begin proceedings. 

The "Need To Impeach" organization lists 10 reasons why Congress needs to take action - and it's not just a list - they offer detailed arguments for each of the following: 1) obstructing justice, 2) profiting from Presidency, 3) collusion/conspiracy (facts not yet released but mounting), 4) advocating political & police violence, 5) abuse of power, 6) reckless conduct, 7) persecuting political opponents; 8) attacking the free press, 9) violating immigrants' right to due process, and 10) violating campaign finance laws.  You too can read more about each of these charges to see if you agree with the case "Need To Impeach" is making.  That process may take too long or be too destructive to our country - the next election may be our only recourse.  Already many Democrats & Independents have announced their candidacy to run for President and all of 'em so far have expressed a common goal: "get this guy out before he destroys this great country!" 

My track record predicting such things this early in a political race is not good.  Before the 2008 election my early pick was former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.  Boy, did he have experience ... US Congressman, former UN Ambassador, former Energy Secretary ... but after the 2008 election he became Commerce Secretary - not President.  In just about every election cycle the past two decades I've wanted to see Al Gore resurface, especially given the reality that W stole the 2000 contest. 

So I'm a bit worried about jinxing Amy Klobuchar, Democratic Senator from MN but I think she's a mighty appealing candidate for 2020.  She is bright, focused, reasonable, highly electable (look at her record) and she gets things done.  Last night she was a guest on the Rachel Maddow Show ... an interview worth watching.  Share it with a friend!

posted 02.12.19

Trump's Idea of "Draining The Swamp" Translates to Favors for Gambling Pals

When President Trump awarded Dr. Miriam Adelson with the Medal of Freedom in November of 2018 I didn't give it much thought.  I figured he was doing the right-wing version of "political correctness" by recognizing the $113 million campaign contributions she and gambling magnet hubby Sheldon had poured into 2018 GOP mid-term races ... or the $5 million they contributed to Trump's inauguration ceremonies or the $20 million contributed by the Adelsons to Trump's 2016 campaign.  Heck, what's a few million here or there?  But many of us had one of those "Ah-Ha moments" when news surfaced about the Patriot Legal Defense Fund Trust created to help pay legal fees for Trump associates who are being prosecuted for their roles in the 2016 election and Trump's connections with Russia.  The Adelsons contributed mightily to this fund, too; Politico reports the Adelsons contributed $500,000 [source].  There must be a lot more to this connection, I thought.  Fortunately some of the nation's finest journalists who love to dig deeper for the truth thought it was a bit fishy, too.

Given the volume of negative news the Trump administration creates on a daily basis it was easy to forget this little bit of curious news.  I got sidetracked with mid-term elections and other news like the Donald's ill-fated government shutdown (which cost Americans $11 billion for no good reason).  But then this past week at a hearing with the House Judiciary Committee questions for acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker caused the topic to re-surface - thanks to Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD).  The House committee was trying to find out more about Whitaker's involvement with DOJ special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and other matters.  Raskin asked Whitaker about his position as executive director of a non-profit organization: Foundation For Accountability & Civic Trust which paid Whitaker $1,200,000 in salary from October 2014 to September 2017; the funds reportedly came from a single donor ... Sheldon Adelson.  [See & hear the entire Q&A between Raskin & Whitaker....on YouTube video.]

Raskin was connecting the dots that appear to lead from Adelson to Whitaker to a surprise shift in a recent DOJ’s legal opinion during the government shutdown which benefits Adelson's vast gambling empire. Shelton is CEO of Las Vegas Sands, Venetian Macao Limited, Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and other gambling related ventures ... so it's hardly a shock that Sheldon & Miriam have lobbied against online betting & gambling at the state and federal levels.  The recent DOJ opinion reverses the Obama/Holder-era position that the Wire Act applied only to sports gambling, so a broader interpretation benefits foes of online gambling.  (BTW...closer to our home: news of the DOJ opinion appears to have contributed to scuttling chances of reopening the Sports Creek Raceway - harness racing facility in Swartz Creek, MI.)

Read more about these shady connections and America's new version of Trump's Swamp:

  • Justice Department issues new opinion that could further restrict online gambling - a Washington Post article Jan. 14, 2019  Washington Post website:   Or here's Mike's handy, ad-free text file.
  • Justice Department decision to issue legal opinion long sought by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson draws criticism - article Washington Post February 7, 2019 Washington Post website:   Or another swell ad-free text file from Mike.
  • Advance copy (.pdf file) of some of the House Judiciary Committee questions sent to Whitaker in advance (so much for Trump's claim that his boy Matt was "ambushed".)

posted 02.10.19

Trump's Threats in State of the Union Address Should Concern All Americans

see USA Today for more infoAs predicted below the State of the Union address offered little other than more evidence of the dangers Donald Trump represents.  The address began with Trump showboating, wonky tie & all,  as he cutoff Nancy Pelosi's introduction of the President, which is customary for the Speaker of the House to do.  Big & small things prove how this character is unfit to hold the highest elected office on planet Earth.

If you missed the address the NY Times has a transcript of the lengthy speech and it's annotated by Washington journalists to provide a little a bit of direction for those seeking to fact-check the President.  Example: Trump says in his speech: "We have created 5.3 million new jobs" - Bureau of Labor data shows 4.9 million jobs have been created during the Donald's term.  Example #2: "5 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps" - false.  the number is 3.5 million.  #3: "Now is the time for bipartisan action," says Trump, who went on for nearly 15 minutes trashing Democrats previous response to the wall that he originally said Mexico was going to pay for...and, offered no compromises on the right. The examples reflect small mistakes, but even when he's corrected he keeps misstating the facts, almost as if it's on purpose.  So I keep thinking: why exaggerate the truth?  Trump does it all the time...see "lies" below.

Little was mentioned about Americans paying for the tariffs Trump has imposed...Ford Motor Co. said last week the steel tariffs cut into their profits by $750 million and that was just for a partial year...they also said the tariff on steel reduced bonuses by $750 for each of their hourly employees.  Not nice.  Today the Wall Street Journal reports on the impact this administration is having on small farms throughout America: "Farm Belt Bankruptcies Are Soaring" - adding: "trade disputes over agriculture add pain to low commodity prices that have been grinding down American farmers for years."  Soybean farmers in particular have been hammered by Trump's tariffs. Another self-inflicted wound.

Most thinking and caring people cringed when Trump threatened: "If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation."  So much for the call for unity.  Shallow, hollow, meaningless words that his pathetic base eats up like red-meat.  These "ridiculous partisan investigations" as Trump refers to it have indicted or gotten guilty pleas from 34 people and three companies so far, with the latest being longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone.  That's ridiculous?   Thanks to Justice Department Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, as well as several DOJ districts (NY & DC in particular) the truth is slowly emerging that proves the Trump campaign and his early administration have lied repeatedly.  So it's noteworthy now with Democrats in control of the House - the WH is particularly sensitive to continued investigations by Congress as part of their oversight responsibility and have hired dozens of attorneys to fight and resist the pending House investigations.  Yep...that's how we spell unity these days.

One hour, 22 minutes, 25 seconds ... the third longest address in history.  The end could not come soon enough for many of us especially at the conclusion where his speech writers went over the top as Trump tried to reach his audience "from the rocky shores of Maine and the volcanic peaks of Hawaii." Cue the noble sounding music.  It's largely BS...last year the President called for the nation to “set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve” ... how did that work out in 2018?  The vast majority of Americans would agree: not well.

posted 02.06.19

State Of The Union Will Offer Little "New" Information

Only time will tell if my hunch is accurate, but I doubt we'll hear anything substantially new in the State Of The Union address this evening.  I say that because it seems in public comments the President has made recently, that he's been testing portions of his speech for weeks now.  The Donald was in rare form Sunday (2/3/19) on CBS's Face The Nation.  If you caught only a portion of the interview, or saw news reports about portions of Trump's crazy comments, you really owe it to yourself to read the transcript.  In typical Trump fashion his comments are disjointed as he speaks in partial sentences and often misstating facts & reality ... throughout the entire 20+ minute interview.  Read it.  You can also watch it though I admit, it's painful to view.  There may be a dinky handful of his supporters who loved it...there are good reasons why fewer than 32% of Americans support the guy. 

It drives me crazy when I hear radical right-wing extremists telling me what Democrats, progressives, or liberal folks think on any given issue ... and they know it drives us crazy, Rush Limbaugh often uses the technique and justifies his goal is to "annoy the left".  The Donald uses the same playbook - restating semi-accurately a portion of any given topic but then adding assumptions that are not true.  Example, in describing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's positions on the recent government shutdown, the President says: "She knows that we need border security ... she wants open borders.  She doesn't mind human trafficking ..."  Oh really?  Pelosi favors open borders and supports human-trafficking?  CBS's Margaret Brennan reminded Trump that Pelosi has offered over a billion dollars for border security in the recent negotiations, and Trump cuts her off: "Excuse me? .... she's costing the country hundreds of billions of dollars because what's happening is when you have a porous border, and when you have drugs pouring in, and when you have people dying all over the country because of people like Nancy Pelosi who don't want to give proper border security..."  No, the poor grammar and incomplete sentences are not my doing - its pure Donald.  "I'm like really smart," he says.  And no, if you  read the transcript  as I suggested you'd stop saying things like: "he's really smart."  He's not.  What he is ... is dangerous and Congress needs to take action that limits the amount of destruction he's able to do to our country.  (See Impeachment movement above.) 

"If you look at Afghanistan we're going in very soon we'll be going into our 19th year spending 50 billion dollars a year," Mr. Trump says.  A few sentences later the figure goes up to $51 billion.  Neither number is accurate ... though I do agree with the notion that the US does spend too much money on the conflicts in Afghanistan and we've sacrificed far too many lives on this battle ... the actual number is $45 billion [source].

He doesn't value his intelligence teams - FBI, CIA, NSA...or the Defense Intelligence Agency, or the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. "I will say this: my intelligence people, if they said in fact that Iran is a wonderful kindergarten, I disagree with them 100 percent," says Trump.  The trouble with that simplistic response is his intelligence team never said that.  Trump said they were misquoted ... but Mr. President, we have video of what your intelligence team said at their Congressional testimony ... it is not fake news ... though we realize your base will not bother to check it out.

Some of the other things I expect Trump will repeat tonight:
* "The economy has never been stronger ... and ...we've created more jobs than any administration in history."  Nope.  Untrue.  The nation's economic recovery began in 2009 & 2010 as previously discussed on this website.
*  "No President has been tougher on Russia than Donald J. Trump."  Again, false.  The Trump administration has just relaxed sanctions on Russia that is netting his pals like Oleg Deripaska hundreds of millions of dollars ... a majority in Congress voted to block the move but fell short by 3 votes.

The list could go on, and on ... but you get my drift.  There is very little that Trump says that is accurate, and when you watch his address tonight I hope your critical ear is ready to push back and not accept his bluster.

posted 02.05.19

Why is the public paying legal fees for Wing-nuts?

Thankfully, I am not the only one who questions government expenditures incurred by radical right-wing extremists. Legal bills in the "Flint Water Crisis" paid by the state & city of Flint has already exceeded $34.5 million which has become a bit of an outrage here in the Great Lakes State.

In a similar situation involving right-wing legal troubles in the fine state of Kentucky I read this morning that KY residents are being asked to pay over $222,000 in legal fees for Kim Davis the Rowan County Clerk who did not want to issue same sex marriage licenses ... even though there was a Federal Court order directing her to do so. Davis, shown above, became a celebrity for political pundits like Mike Huckabee who made sure he did not miss a national photo-op when Davis was released from county jail for defying the law.

I'm more familiar with the details of the Michigan case since I live just 17-miles South of Flint - the contaminated water issue has been front page news, perhaps the story of the century around these parts.  It was a man-made crisis caused by the Republican administration, who, at the time were attempting to save money on local water service for the citizens of Flint.  The Republican state legislature & GOP Governor, Rick Snyder, rammed legislation thru Lansing that flipped a voter referendum rejecting Snyder's plans for "Emergency Managers" to take operational control of local governments in bankrupt cities like Detroit, Flint, & Benton Harbor.  The GOP ignored with will of the people...so why are they not paying their own legal fees out of their own pockets?  I do not understand why we allow these radical right-wing Republican extremists to get away with this.

posted by Mike 01.31.19

Wing-nut Central...

Eric Trump speaking with Sean Hannity on Fox News (yesterday 01.29.19):  “They’ve become so radicalized and it’s not going to work. They’ve become crazy. The message doesn’t even make sense anymore.  It’s almost an anti-American message.”    If you hadn't guessed, the "they" in Eric's remarks are Democrats, and Hannity is loving it as he too piles-on to the notion that our nation's problems are caused by "radical" Democrats, liberals & progressives.  These two whack-a-mole characters went on to discuss our "state of the union" as if the Donald has been doing great things that drive a healthy economy and a safer, more secure world. Is there anyone on a regularly scheduled TV program who is more detached from reality than Sean Hannity?  (Ok, Laura Ingraham could be in contention for that title.)

As discussed in previous articles below (and archives of Mike's famous Trump bashing articles listed in the right-hand column) most anything that is going well these days in the world and in the USA has nothing to do with Trump policies.  The improving economy & our nation's employment began turning around 10-years ago when Barack Obama and Democrats were busy cleaning up the messes created by Republicans from 2001-2008 (which to summarize if you've already forgotten, included: two unfunded wars, unfunded tax cuts, unfunded Medicare drug benefits, a cratered economy often compared to the Great Depression).  There are millions of Americans who have still not recovered from the last Republican mess ... entire communities that will never be the same.  Need examples?  See USA Today article "10 years later, these 28 U.S. cities never recovered from the Great Recession".  Trump can not take credit for the few glimmers of positive news that Americans enjoy, and certainly has done very little good on any front.  The current string of 98 consecutive months of job growth dates back to 2010.  However, the past year Wall Street has been flat, as previously discussed, due in large part to the volatility & uncertainty caused by Trump's unfunded tax cuts, destructive tariffs and general instability of his domestic & global policies.  For example: Trump's gov't shutdown cost America some $11 BILLION says the Congressional Budget Office ... for what?  Trump is not getting the funding he wants for his border-wall ... and Republicans have tanked in the polls.  No, Eric, (and no, Sean) the problems we face in this country are not the fault of Democrats.

posted 01.30.19

As seen on TV...

Found myself humming-along to the humdrum tune promoting Apple's latest "smart device".  Have you seen it?

Lyrics:
Come along catch a Heffalump
Sit with me on a muddy clump
We’ll sing a song of days gone by
Run along now don’t be glum
Get you gone now have some fun
Don’t be long for the end is nigh
Come, come, come, come, come along now
Run away from the hum-drum
We’ll go to a place that is safe from
Greed, anger and boredom
We’ll dance and sing ’til sundown
And feast with abandon
We’ll sleep when the morning comes
And we’ll rise by the sound of the birdsongs…

Come Along” by Cosmo Sheldrake.   Commercial made for Apple by ad agency TBWA\Chiat\Day of Los Angles. Production in Czech Republic (because, goodness knows Americans are not capable of these stunts & production).  web-link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8LJXcQhD0k
Seriously, catch a Heffalump!

posted 01.28.19

You too can be smarter than the average Fox News "Journalist"

Rather than relying on your Facebook or Twitter news feeds as your primary information destination, consider reading the actual source material which often is the basis for blockbuster news stories on any given day.  It may be a Congressional report or a report from the Justice Department or other gov't agency.  For example, when Roger Stone was arrested (Friday 01.25.19) most informed citizens learned about the FBI raid on Stone's home in Florida from some "news organization" on radio or TV.  And we know some news outlets are highly influenced by politics like Fox News.  Or perhaps it was a President's Tweet like one the Donald issued Friday which asked in typical Trumpian accusatory manner: "Who alerted CNN to be there?"  (The answer, Mr. President is simple: most news organizations & even Roger Stone himself have stated that they expected Stone was about to be indicted.  CNN reporters, anticipating the same outcome, had Stone's residence on "stake-out".)   

Let me ask you: how many Fox News talking heads do you think actually read the Stone Indictment?  Betcha' it's barely a fraction.  So this is your chance to be as informed, likely better, by reading it for yourself.  It's 23-pgs long, double-spaced.  In the short but amazingly detailed indictment you can see for yourself what sort of information the Special Prosecutor's Office has uncovered about Stone's activities prior to the election including references to emails Stone sent and received regarding the data & information theft and WikiLeaks distribution of private Clinton campaign documents. For example, pgs 9 & 10 and beyond outline in detail what is known about some of the Stone's lies in his testimony with the US House investigation.  Lying to Congress is a felony.  Beginning on page 17 the indictment offers details about Stones obstruction of justice & witness tampering.  If you find it easier to comprehend details presented in an executive summary or chart, see pgs 22 & 23 for a complete list of the seven counts that Stone is charged with.

[For your reading pleasure the Stone indictment is linked above/right in a .pdf format; since it is written in legalese it may help navigation thru the report & prove to be helpful to know the following:  Person 1 = Jerome Corsi; Person 2 = Randy Credico; Organization 1 = WikiLeaks; Head of Org 1 = Julian Assange; High-ranking Trump Campaign Official = Steve Bannon; SSI = US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence; HPSCI = House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.]

You may also find it liberating to read the so-called "Steele Dossier" - the opposition research report that both Republicans & Democrats had an interest in prior to the 2016 election...and other documents listed to the left - my little "library" for folks who want to be more informed than Fox News.

posted 01.27.19

Trump Caves as Americans Blame Him for Gov't Shut Down

A defeated, ashen Donald Trump took to a microphone in the Rose Garden Friday to announce his grand bargain: [roll-film & watch] the 35-day gov't shut down is temporary over and thankfully, no funding for his beloved, divisive border wall. Not yet anyway.  Republicans, who are losing favor with the voting public, urged the President to end the hardship and negativity.  Roughly 800,000 Federal employees will be paid sometime next week after being forced to work for free since before Christmas.  Likely a similar number of contractors and people who work in jobs that support Federal employees will be left holding the bag.

And just like last year at the "Helsinki Summit" with his boss: Vladimir Putin, the Donald appeared sullen & incompetent ... shoulders hunched.  After his brief, nearly incoherent remarks last Friday, the Donald dashed back inside without taking any questions from reporters as had been promised by WH Communications staff.  The reprieve will last just 3-weeks giving law makers a chance to negotiate a budget and immigration reform.  Three weeks for the Donald to hear viscous critique on Rush Limbaugh & Fox News & other conservatives talking-head venues he frequents during his "Executive Time" which makes up some 60% of a typical day.  Something tells me this budget/border wall fight is not "over" and settled.

In mid-December Congress thought they had a budget bill all set to avoid a gov't shut-down before the holidays until the Donald got spanked by Limbaugh, Hannity, Ann Coulter & Laura Ingraham causing Trump to back-peddle and renege.  So before the new deadline of Feb 15th be ready for similar full-court pressure by the radical right-wing conservatives who thrive on spreading fear and ignoring facts they disagree with ... I won't be surprised to hear more threats by the President to fund his border wall thru Executive Order claiming its a national security issue, though Republican leadership is urging the President to avoid that path.  Democrats should be proud the way they held firm in this latest episode of reality-TV-show politics.   Unless Republicans in Congress wish to experience another humiliating defeat they should negotiate a settlement with Nancy Pelosi & Chuck Schumer and Democrats that will over-ride a Presidential veto.  The vast majority of Americans ... including progressives, independents & Democrats will continue to be winners as they fight the Donald's bogus, exaggerated national security claims in court ... they must block the border wall that DJT said Mexico was going to pay for. Mexico won't be paying for it ... just like Trump's tariffs the cost will be shouldered by Americans.  It seems as if a day rarely passed since 2015 when he launched his campaign, that candidate Trump promised all sorts of crazy stuff.  Yes, changes are warranted in our immigration laws and Democrats will be reasonable ... they have a lot of work to do in the next 15 days - I'd like to see Congress in session full-time to get this done & avoid another self-inflicted wound.

posted 01.26.19

Trump & GOP Can't Erase Rant "I am proud to shut down the government"

Republicans are losing the budget battle and soon, they'll be losing control of the WH and the Senate.  Bloomberg News headline from Wed (01.23.19) says it all: "Key 2020 Voters Will Remember the Shutdown."  And remember who caused it and who made it drag-on as long as it has!

The Bloomberg article goes on to say "even though Americans have short memories, those who were most affected may be highly energized assets for Democrats."  

The Donald said on December 11th, 2018 when Congressional leaders visited the WH..."I am proud to shut down the government".  And for those wing nuts who think I'm cherry-picking favorable quotes to support my opinion, turn off Fox News for 20 seconds and read the transcript for yourself.  "I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it," Trump said to Chuck Schumer & Nancy Pelosi...and no, you can't claim it's "fake news"...the mindless rant by the Donald was captured on video and will likely be used in campaign commercial spots from coast to coast in the next election.  That's assuming the Donald survives that long. 

posted 01.24.19

Grow a spine, Republicans...Vote to End Shutdown & Override Trump's Veto

The problems surrounding the gov't "shutdown" are caused 100% by Donald Trump.  In December the Senate voted overwhelmingly for the Continuing Resolution to fund the gov't but Paul Ryan wouldn't bring the bill up in the House.  Now we have a new Congress so Mitch McConnell needs to stop the obstruction and allow the Senate to debate & pass the same or similar bill; and since Speaker Pelosi's House has already passed short-term funding measures, the gov't shutdown would be over for the time being...assuming two/thirds of the Senate votes affirmatively to override Trump's vow to veto any bill that does not fund the wall that he claimed Mexico would pay for.  The notion is laughable that the President is "negotiating" by advocating that Congress approve $5.7 billion funding for a border wall which is more cash than his own homeland security team had requested for the current fiscal year.  The "bargaining chips" the Donald is floating (limited DACA and TPS protection) are ridiculous since both of those problems were caused by Trump himself. I'll admit it - I'm surprised the Donald didn't include a proposal to reunite the children his homeland security staff separated from the parents.  As I said in the 1st sentence above: 100% of the problems the nation faces in regards to this border wall shutdown are created by Donald J. Trump. 

The media is wrong to advance the notion that somehow Democrats and those who oppose Trump need to "come half-way" in these discussions to solve the problem created by one person: Donald Trump.  The majority of Americans do not support the President of his crazy plan...and even if Kirstjen Nielsen, Homeland Security Sec't, had the $5.7 billion likely her department wouldn't get around to spending it anytime soon.  Heck, they've not spent the cash they got in 2018; the only border wall activity last year involved repairs & maintenance to existing border walls & fencing.  Before any construction can begin the Federal government needs to obtain clear title to the land - and that's a process that could be tied-up in litigation for years.  There are already numerous cases pending where land owners are fighting the gov't case for eminent domain.

Meanwhile, Federal employees who are being forced to work with no pay ought to have their grievances expedited thru the courts...if Republicans in Congress are unwilling to bring this despicable chapter to an end, America needs the 3rd branch of gov't to hold Trump accountable and end the shutdown.  Fewer than 37% of American voters support the wacky politics of Trump. 

C'mon, Mueller Investigation!   The nation needs to see your completed report.

posted on 01.21.19 the day we celebrate the life & contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King  

Maddow: Putin's Hold On Our President - "Blackmail In A Bottle"

The New York Times reported Sunday (01.14.19) that "Trump Discusses Pulling US From NATO" based on interviews with senior aides over new concerns about Russia's grip on Donald Trump.  Maddow discussed the impact of General Jim Mattis leaving the Defense Department and the mystery behind Trump seizing the only US record of the July 2018 talks between Trump & Putin in Helsinki.  The only logical assumption analysts say is that the Donald is beholden to Putin for some reason - not clear why, but hopefully details will trickle out.  Maybe the Russians have better records of the meetings...which MSNBC's Rachel Maddow says: it's like Trump faces "blackmail in a bottle".  Trump told Fox News that investigators have "found absolutely nothing" which is hardly a denial to Jeanine Pirro's question: "have you ever worked for Russia, Mr. President?”  So the list of Trump's overly-friendly acts & comments regarding Russia continues to grow...it's actually been going on for over 30-yrs. 

posted 01.16.19   ~    Source links:  MSNBC video clip...NY Times 1.14.19 article.    

President Trump's House of Carbs

College football national champs from Clemson visited the WH the other day to celebrate their victory over Alabama, and the President treated the players to an assortment of fast-food take-out...which he says he's personally going to pay for.  Well, isn't he generous?  

Seriously ... under the portrait of Abraham Lincoln the Donald showed off his feast fit for a (junk food) king ... they served pizza and packaged selections from McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King.   Apparently the Donald thinks the critique over the menu selection is about money rather than the reality that his gov't shutdown has furloughed the staff who normally would have handled the catering for the event.  Some visitors expressed disappointment; "I thought the WH was 'sposed to be 'fancy'..." read one Tweet.  Others wondered why the President didn't have his staff simply cater the buffet from Trump's International Hotel next door and served something more appropriate given the venue ... like a healthier selection of food.  (Clemson actually has a dietary coach ... an "executive performance chef" ... on staff to ensure players do not consume a steady diet of the food groups Trump served.)

posted 01.16.19  ~  Source Links: CNBC

Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo

Just watched Congressman Jim Himes (D-CT) thoroughly trash & dispel Maria Bartiromo's arguments about the FBI investigations of Donald Trump on her Sunday morning news program today.  It was classic & rich. Following a love-fest interview with newly elected Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) Bartiromo sought to tackle meatier subjects with Congressman Himes. Maria tried to continue advancing the destructive Republican strategy of disparaging the FBI and casting doubt on our nation's justice department and legal system (the "no collusion" mime the Donald loves to repeat a few thousand times).  As soon as Himes proved to be better informed with the facts and embarrassed Bartiromo quickly closed-out the Himes interview so that she could move on to a more conservative-friendly guest: Jim Jordan, R-OH.  Since Maria seems to love asking redundant questions of her guests (as she did 3 times with Himes) I'm anxious to see if she'll ask Jordan about the ongoing investigation into sexual assault at OSU while he was a wrestling coach. Well done Congressman Himes!  (The Himes interview began just after the 17-minute mark on her program - see YouTube link above to witness it for yourself.)

posted 01.13.19

Trump Supporters & Fox News Typically Ignore Facts

As much as the Donald likes to control the daily news cycle, especially when most of the news that involves him & his administration is negative, the real problem lies with the American voter.  Few voters who support the right bother to read actual news or information, relying more on Fox News to tell them what they want to hear.  Trump loves to refer to most all non-Fox news venues as "fake" which is really rather pathetic. 

Just wondering...how many right-wing voters question how or why so many people in his administration from his inauguration until now worked previously at Fox News or some other conservative venue?  Does it not strike conservative voters as odd?  Do they really think these people are qualified to take on these jobs?  I don't.  Let's consider a few of 'em: Communications Director Bill Shine was President of Fox News before being forced to resign amid allegations of sexual misconduct...he may know the conservative news business but what does he know about managing the WH communications team? At least former Fox News commentator John Bolton had some previous high-level gov't service experience but he's the rare exception (for those who are not informed, Bolton is now Trump's National Security adviser - the position vacated by convicted felon Michael Flynn, Trump's 1st head of his NSA). Lacking any experience in government service is our acting United Nations Ambassador Heather Nauert.  Communications director Mercedes Schlapp also worked previously at Fox News and is a political animal with minimal experience. There's also Fox News legal pundit Joseph diGenova who joined the WH legal team to defend Trump of his assorted campaign violations and other legal issues of his own making.  Treasury Dept. official Tony Sayegh and former deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland both worked for Fox, as did former US Senator Scott Brown who is now our Ambassador to New Zealand.  Former communications director Anthony Scaramucci lasted just 10-days before returning to Fox Business Network. Former chief strategist Steve Bannon was Chairman of Breitbart News. Former CNBC analyst Larry Kudlow is now the Donald's director of National Economic Council...at least Larry had some experience in the Reagan admin.

Besides those on team Trump who came from cable "news" venues there is little regard for truth or honesty among this bunch.  Astute voters and reasonable Americans regularly consume news from a variety of sources and also make a habit of reading actual reports and documents that much of the "news" is based upon. If you are one of the minimally informed American voters I suggest you do yourself a favor today and visit the Annenberg Public Policy Center's website: FactCheck.Org.  (For those who think this is another liberal think tank, think again...the Annenberg center was funded by conservative Republican Walter Annenberg who made some of his fortune in print & electronic media - Philadelphia Inquirer, TV Guide & Seventeen magazine - among his many holdings).  Annenberg was the US Ambassador to Great Britain in the '70's under Presidents Nixon & Ford.  Please folks, stop relying on your "news feed headlines" on your Smart Phone to keep you informed...that's like reading CliffsNotes study guides before your final exam (and never bothering to read your textbooks).  No, it's not enough, Sparky.

posted 01.07.19

Poll: 47% of Americans blame Trump for Gov't Shutdown

Just 47% of Americans polled by Reuter/Ipsos say Donald Trump is responsible for the government "shutdown" ... even though we have the Donald recorded on video in advance of the shutdown saying that he alone welcomes the shutdown if he doesn't get funding for his border wall...you know the one that Mexico is going to pay for.  47% believe that to be true...and Trump said in advance that he alone would cause that to happen if Democrats in Congress did not cave to his threat. WHY DON'T 100% of poll respondents blame Trump???  Trump made the threat,  Democrats opted to remain steadfastly opposed to the "wall" and even though Republicans control the House, the Senate, and the White House...they can't get an appropriations bill passed.  And the result is Democrats are blamed with being obstructionists???

No.  Obstruction is when Mitch McConnell refuses to schedule hearing and a vote on President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland nearly a year before the 2016 election.   "Let the voters decide," Mitch said, ignoring that voters already HAD decided when they voted TWICE for Barack Obama.

No, this is not going to end well and I hope Democrats continue to maintain this position.  If there is no budget appropriations bill, blame those who are causing this: Trump and the Republicans.   For those of who wish to see gov't function, stop voting for the people who advocate hate, and advocate real obstruction.  Stop voting Republican.  If you disagree with me, watch the video clip (again) posted above.

CNN's Don Lemon dug up the Fox News interview from 2013 when the Donald responded to a question about who should bear the brunt of responsibility for a gov't shutdown:  “Well, if you say who gets fired, it always has to be the top. I mean, problems start from the top and they have to get solved from the top. And the president’s the leader. And he’s got to get everybody in a room. And he’s got to lead,” said Donald Trump calling for President Obama to be "fired".  Pathetic.

America's Proclivity For Excess

Spotted a great news article the other day in USA Today that was not overtly political and I wanted to share it.  But first, now that the mid-term elections are past us I'm trying to remain positive & only think of the Donald as our most recent "past-president" ... so I've archived my previous year's worth of factual Trump bashing (see links to right).

The USA Today article that caught my eye has to do with a fellow minimalist - someone who values simplicity in her life and is sharing ideas with the world thru subtle action.  Meet Julia Mooney a "New Jersey teacher [who] wears same dress for 100 days to promote sustainable fashion" ... the 34-year-old art teacher "has vowed to wear the dress every day she teaches for the first 100 days of the school year. Mooney is trying to raise awareness of what she calls a growing “culture of excess” in America that has filled our closets to overflowing with throwaway garments." 

Mooney says she hoped to spark discussion among her students, friends and co-workers "about the peer pressure children face to buy the latest fashions and the sustainability of their “consume, consume, consume” habits. She has found herself at the center of a wider national conversation around what is known as sustainable fashion."

Good for her!  Louise & I try to be frugal in so many ways too ... like buying high quality goods that are made to last.  Decades ago a Royal Oak fashion shop referred to me as "the sweater guy" because their shop was my go-to place for holiday gifts for Louise. The sweaters I got her are all handmade from natural fibers and still are part of her seasonal wardrobe rotation.  The initial investment may have been significant but given how long these gorgeous sweaters have lasted they're actually inexpensive in the long run.  Our disposable society just can't relate.  Sad.  Anyhow...it's a cute story; I hope you click the links above and read it for yourself.

posted 11.28.18

Updated May 8 2019

In 828 days, President Trump has made 10,111 false or misleading claims

Uninformed American voters are the reason the world has to put up with Trump

Major independent news analysts have concluded President Trump averages more than 12 misstatements or mangled truths every day.  And to make matters worse, Trump often repeats the same false statements hundreds of times.  Said another way: The Donald lies on average, TWELVE times daily.  Notice how the graph depicts how Trump's daily misstatements and lies are increasing?  So far the most outrageous single day in his brief term of office was November 5th (2018) when Donald Trump lied 139 times in a single day.  How can his base of American voters, still support this lying disruptive egotistical jerk?   I realize his supporters will not bother to read the details at the link below, but it may be handy to bookmark the article below and be prepared to counter-punch your weird & argumentative Uncle Harry or your equally mindless Aunt Jane with something they rarely are confronted with: FACTS

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/trump-claims-database/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.09247409f322

Originally posted by Mike on 11.08.17, updated May 8, 2019 

The voice of reason & sanity

And it is good seeing you, Mr. President!  One day recently I sat down for lunch, flipped on the tube to see what in the world is going on...and couldn't believe my lucky stars that Barack Obama was delivering a speech at the  University of  Illinois Urbana-Champaign.  I'm familiar with the tradition that former Presidents maintain a low-profile following their service to the country...as Mr. Obama has been largely silent the past year-and-a-half.  But given the crazy stuff that the Donald has done and said since moving into the White House the majority of Americans - Democrats, Independents, and Republicans largely welcomed Mr. Obama's entry back to our political scene as mid-term elections loom.  (Okay, I realize some 39% of Americans representing the shrinking GOP base, was probably not interested...preferring to wallow in the angry hateful white supremacist inspired nonsense that is the Trump presidency.)  Unlike 2016 and most all mid-term elections during my lifetime, America needs voters to turn out and do their civic duty: vote This is no time to take a pass or to demonstrate your reluctance to get involved and participate.

The speech was nearly half over...but I pressed "record" on the DVR to preserve what I could for Louise (who was off on a nature hike with a good friend).  Besides, I've come to learn that vital public events like this are captured digitally and shared with the world via the internet...that way, Louise & I could watch what we missed on the internet later...and then replay the 2nd half on the large screen.  So I had not heard the President's opening line about flying into Urbana, IL and enjoying the sight of corn fields below as his plane descended & landed.  But sure am glad I caught it on the re-run.  If you missed the speech, I suggest you watch it or read it (or both) and then pass it on for others to experience - there are 2 handy links below...while you're at it, why not share 'em with your representatives in Washington?  You'll be glad you did. 

speech video:  https://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2018/09/07/barack-obama-full-speech-urbana-illinois-sept-2018-vpx.cnn
speech text: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2018/09/07/president-barack-obamas-speech-transcript-slamming-trump/1225554002/

posted 09.07.18

Trump Defeated !

If you were watching the news, you noticed.  Presidents Putin and Trump emerged from their 2-hour "secret summit" and enter the public press conference sporting dramatically different expressions and body language.  As you can see from my collection of news photos that it looks as if the Donald has been spanked, much of the bluster and arrogance beaten out of him.  Putin was smiling, standing tall & proud while Mr. Trump, shoulders slouched, eyes puffy, expression stoic, shows signs he's been defeated in their 2-hours of private "talks".  He seemed to know that he dare not show any disrespect to President Putin...and no one has any evidence that this is not true.  There was no one other than an interpreter present in these meetings who can testify as to the topics or discussion that transpired, though many suspect the Russians actually recorded the event.  The media, and general public were outraged the way Trump bashed NATO the previous weekend, and deferred to Putin at every turn at their "secret summit".  Even a handful of Republicans expressed concern - but already their voices have gone silent.

And, the chances are most folks in America did not notice or pay attention.  The majority of Americans were not watching.  Only a fraction of our adult population knows what the heck is going on - they have tuned-out and gradually have stopped following the news.  Nearly 40% of registered voters skipped the 2016 election, and 66 percent of Facebook users get news there, according to a recent Pew Research study. Seriously, they get their news from social media???  Think about that.  If you fall into that camp you're not alone - some 62 percent of American adults get their news from social media.  Why is that?  Is it because it's just so darned difficult to watch a regular news broadcast or read a newspaper?  Can you name more than one member of Trump's cabinet?  Do you even know the name of your representatives in Congress?  Odds are you can't...or your neighbors can't.  Have you any clue what the "Steele Dossier" is or what it's about?  Have you bothered to read the indictments of the 12 Russians accused of meddling in our 2016 election?  If not, why not Google it now - find a news source and sit down and read...it's only 29-pgs.  (Ok, for those who do want to read the document but are concerned they may not be able to find it, here's a link to the Time magazine website - you can read it there.)  These are dangerous times in America folks...you need to put the "smart phone" down and pick-up a paper...and read ! 

Jobs Growth That Began Under President Obama Continues

It is nearly a daily occurrence for the Donald or his spokespeople (Conway, Huckabee-Sanders) to attempt to discredit or attack the previous administration.  Typically, facts tell a completely different story like in the case of the economy & jobs.  "We inherited a real mess," Trump says over and over.  The fact is, what the Democrats inherited in 2009 was a government that had driven our economy into the ditch with 2 unfunded tax cuts, 2 unfunded wars, and unfunded Medicare drug benefits.  Republicans added nearly 10 trillion to our national debt and had the audacity of blaming President Obama...now they're adding another trillion to our nation's debt thanks to the Trump "tax cut". 
http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/us-lost-jobs-last-month-the-first-time-7-years?cid=sm_fb_maddow
originally posted 10.08.17

See related story in Mike's "archive": Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

Unbelievable...
So goes my faith in the American voters.  Actually most of my disgust is aimed at the 42.1% of registered voters who stayed away from the polls on Nov. 8th.  Pathetic.  My anger also extends to the media particularly commercial TV who have shamelessly chased after every Trump "rally" broadcasted free of charge for over a year.  The talking heads universally trashed the man but coverage fueled the racist, alt-right faction of our society.  "Drain the swamp"?   Laughable.  Look at who he's appointed - largely political insiders, all, except for a handful of faithful cast of wing-nuts. 

So now the Trump reality slime-show will be fodder for the next 4-yrs of Evening News and SNL skits.  The Donald meanwhile calls the media coverage of his flawed presidential administration a "witch hunt".  No, Mr. President, that would be the treatment Republicans who employed 4-yrs of shameful Benghazi investigations against Hillary Clinton.  "Lock her up!"   How rich is it now that news has leaked that both Ivanka Trump and Mike Pence used private email services while employed in gov't service?   Freaking hypocrites. 

I tried the "blog" thing.  90% or more of the "feedback" received was spam.  Sifting thru the crud to find a nugget or two became a chore...so after neglecting it for quite a while I nuked it.   Saved and archived are some of the previous articles I've written that folks responded to...see the right hand column above.  Mainly these articles will be about news, politics, current events. 
Mike
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something on this pg was added or revised on 06.25.19