Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Manchester: Crucible of Concern for Children

In the wake of the diabolical attack on tweens attending last night's Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, we are likely to see an outpouring of sympathy from all sides. Here is what Donald Trump said.

Many Republicans will probably echo his message.

Before they go superimposing the Union Jack on their avatars and offering their "thoughts and prayers," Republicans should make an examination of conscience. Those who voted for Trump and this GOP Congress also voted for the budget that plans to make $616 billion (with a "b") cuts to children's healthcare and Medicaid, according to The New York Times.
Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program: $616 billion
Changes to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program would save the federal government money, but would reduce the number of people with insurance. Medicaid savings are estimated at $610 billion over 10 years. The administration would shift some costs to the states, by setting annual limits on federal payments to each state, starting in 2020.
Read more >>>>
Chemical attacks in Syria, where children are among a plurality of the victims, and terrorist attacks like the one in Manchester are, of course, outrageous. Children should be protected  and safe.

But Republicans are waging a war of life or death here at home against children and low income families. Nothing can be more hypocritical than Donald Trump's remarks about the children of Syria and Manchester when the health of American children is at risk.

Donald Trump campaigned on an "America First" platform. Crocodile tears for children who are attacked en masse and visibly are meaningless when our own children are put in peril by heartless legislation.

Hillary Clinton, as First Lady, fought hard to get health care insurance for children (Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). From Politifact.
The late-Sen. Kennedy received much of the credit for CHIP because the Massachusetts Democrat shepherded the legislation through a Republican-controlled Congress. Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch was the lead Republican co-sponsor.
Yet, in 2007, Kennedy told the Associated Press that Hillary Clinton played a critical role.
"The children's health program wouldn't be in existence today if we didn't have Hillary pushing for it from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue," Kennedy said.
Nick Littlefield, a senior health adviser to Kennedy at the time, agreed.
"She wasn't a legislator, she didn't write the law, and she wasn't the president, so she didn't make the decisions," Littlefield told the Associated Press. "But we relied on her, worked with her and she was pivotal in encouraging the White House to do it."
Read more >>>>

During the 2016 campaign Hillary said, "When it's your kid it's a big deal. It should be a big deal for your president, too."

Apparently it is a big deal for Trump and for the GOP - a big deal budget cut! This budget is a form of terrorism. When you leave families and kids in fear and destitution in the face of disease and disability, you are a terrorist.

So until these cuts to CHIP,  Medicaid, and other social programs (e.g. SNAP, and disability) are removed from this budget, let's reject the hypocritical sentiments and hand-wringing from Republicans of every stripe - including our friends on social media who voted for this bunch. No teary emoticons :'( . No Union Jack avatars. No candles. No b**s**t!

Protect our own kids before you go crying about others. What happened to America First?

“Resist, insist, persist, enlist.”  Call your Reps! Call your Senators.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Hillary Clinton Pays Tribute to Yale Classmate and Friend Carolyn Ellis Staton

Hillary Clinton leaves Paris-Yates Chapel at the University of Mississippi after speaking at a memorial service for Carolyn Ellis Staton, on Monday, May 22, 2017

Hillary Clinton in Oxford today for Carolyn Ellis Staton funeral

Published Monday, May 22, 2017
Former first lady and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is in Oxford today for the funeral of Carolyn Ellis Staton, who passed away late last week.
Ellis Staton, a longtime Oxford resident, has been close friends with President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary Clinton since college.
Ms. Clinton is in Oxford today for Ms. Ellis Staton’s memorial service, scheduled for 11 a.m. on the Ole Miss campus at the Paris Yates Chapel. She spoke at today’s memorial service in honor of Ms. Ellis Staton.
Read more >>>>

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Cracking Down on Protests: A Baited Strategy

One way for ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) to ensure that proposed multi-state, anti-protest bills receive publicity and are perceived as necessary is to set a stage that will draw protestors.
Late last week, news of the United Nations warning the G.O.P. on pending state laws criminalizing protests brought out attention to ALEC , and their "free speech" agenda that focuses on the right of alt-right speakers to float their messages on university campuses.

Public and most private U.S. universities tend to lean liberal. We have seen incidents of alt-right speakers being invited, mysteriously, to universities where the scheduled speeches were protested.

Milo Yiannopoulos, notably, canceled an early February appearance at Berkeley due to protests. Late last month, Ann Coulter similarly canceled an appearance on the same campus recognized as the birthplace of the free speech movement of the 60s. The protests against Yiannopoulos turned ugly, destructive, riotous. Resistance protesters eschew violence leaving us with a second mystery. Who were the violent protesters?

Today's story from the New York Times provides an answer to one question: Who invites these speakers?

So these appearances are arranged and financed, not by the schools, but by an organization, Young America's Foundation. The speeches are bait. Hearing that an alt-right speaker is scheduled to speak at a school, students are certain to protest. We know that protests potentially draw troublemakers.

Resistance protests are peaceful. We do not know who the troublemakers were at Berkeley but they certainly were not part of the Resistance. The marches in cities, so far, have been peaceful. So why this marked difference on campus?

At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, I would suggest that these Berkeley incidents were intentionally set on that campus because its history guaranteed protest  - that much is obvious. I would suggest further, that the rioters were part of the staging.

Protest organizers, going forward, must remain mindful that these alt-right speakers are bait.  Protest behavior is the prey. Suppressing alt-right speakers inhibits their 1st Amendment rights. If we do that, we give the G.O.P. exactly the excuse they are looking for to push these laws that are intended to criminalize our own protests.

I will not pretend to have answers, but sometimes silence can be deafening. Silence and signs, shirts, and banners. We can predict that where these folks come in to speak, the riot goons will also appear. For that, we must be prepared and also plan to be distinct, separate, and present marked non-violent contrast.

Friday, May 19, 2017

U.N. Monitoring Potential Human Rights Violations in the United States

Every year, the U.S. Department of State issues a Human Rights Report based on data collected from sources operating in U.N. member states and countries receiving U.S. assistance.  Upon the release of the 2009 Human Rights Report, Hillary Clinton announced that the United States would be added to the list of countries under review.  Republicans and conservatives did not take this news well.

Human rights are universal, but their experience is local. This is why we are committed to holding everyone to the same standard, including ourselves. This year, the United States is participating in the Universal Periodic Review process in conjunction with our participation in the UN Human Rights Council. In the fall, we will present a report, based on the input of citizens and NGOs, gathered online and in face-to-face meetings across the country attended by senior government officials. Assessing opportunities for progress and soliciting citizen engagement is one way that we demonstrate our commitment in word and deed to the basic principles that guide us toward a more perfect union and a more peaceful world.
Read more >>>>
The U.N. also reviews human rights conditions among member states.

It should be no secret to readers here that an organization exists that formulates legislation to be put forth in multiple states. If you were watching MSNBC in the wake of Trayvon Martin's killing, you saw Karen Finney unveil ALEC.
One example of  Karen’s  effect at MSNBC was her unmasking of ALEC  (American Legislative Exchange Council) behind the Stand Your Ground laws in many states, including Florida, in the wake of George Zimmerman’s fatal attack on Trayvon Martin.  No one, in my experience of viewing multiple hours of MSNBC,  had ever mentioned ALEC.  But after Karen filled in for Bashir that day, it seemed that not an hour went by without some anchor bringing up ALEC.
Read more >>>>
This comes as disturbing news.

The UN Has Stepped In To Issue A Severe Warning To GOP After Their Plans To Strip Americans Of Freedoms Is Exposed

If you thought your rights are protected in the USA, think again. There are lawmakers who are working hard to under-handedly take them away. Sixteen states have proposed bills that would criminalize peaceful protests. This is a worrying trend that may result in fatal blows to our rights and freedom to peacefully protest, assemble, and express our opinions and voices.
It is so concerning, that even the United Nations has weighed in on the trend. In an unprecedented move, representatives from the UN have sent a letter to the US government offering a strong condemnation for proposed legislation in sixteen states that is meant to limit peaceful protest.
The letter, penned by David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and Maina Kiai, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, claims that if passed, these bills would be “incompatible with US obligations under international human rights law.”
Read more >>>>
There is a link to a PDF of the 19-page letter in the body of the article. I encourage you to take a look. At the end of the letter, there is a link to the U.N. Human Rights website.  Please also see that. Here are the letters sent regarding the U.S. in 2017 according to that page.
United States of America
  • 9 May 2017 - Intensified screening of travellers at the US border based on their religious affiliation - OL USA 6/2017
United States of America
  • 1 May 2017 - Intensified social media screening of travellers at the US border - OL USA 7/2016
United States of America
  • 27 March 2017 - Draft bills on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression - OL USA 3/2017
Those are the letters sent this year.  Further down the same page is a list of  all communications sent since 2011 divided by country. Here are the letters sent to the U.S.
United States of America
  • 30 September 2016: Proposal to request travelers' social media information on immigration forms - USA 9/2016.
  • 20/04/2016 – Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement –USA 4/2016
Read more >>>>
There is a danger of rapid erosion of human rights afoot. The U.N. is watching. It is not clear the degree to which such pending legislations will make their way into the State Department's Human Right Report for 2017.  The easy out for this administration would be for DOS to exclude the U.S. from that report as it had been until Hillary Clinton included us.

The multiple pending legislations are most likely the work of ALEC. When you look at the menu bar on their website,  you see a "more" category.  There is a drop-down where you can access their "free speech" position.  The proposed curtailment of protest rights appears to be tied to recent protests against right wing speakers on university campuses.

This is going to become a matter of framing as our friend George Lakoff often reminds us. We need to make sure that protest remains framed as freedom of expression and not as the enemy or abrogation of someone else's right to speak. That, from what I see on their page, is how they plan to frame these legislations.

While it is encouraging that the U.N. Human Rights folks are looking out for us, it also raises concerns that our own local governments are working formally to curtail our rights. The federal government, specifically the State Department, could potentially stand down on reviewing and reporting on rights violations within our borders. Lastly, and most dangerously, this administration, already inimical to the U.N. having its headquarters here, could move to exit the U.N. altogether.  I know that sounds far-fetched, but we ought to keep that in mind. Though I doubt it would ever pass, there are factions in our country that despise the U.N.  We need to be vigilant.

Amendment 1 - Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Targeting Hillary Clinton

In chapter 11 of Hard Choices, Hillary Clinton discusses Vladimir Putin blaming her for Russian civil unrest following the December 2011 parliamentary elections. By December of 2016, accounts began appearing in the press attesting to Putin's interference in our election as a direct response to Hillary's purported influence over the Russian protestors.

Now, The Hill reports that U.S. intelligence sources heard and transcribed a Russian intel agent bragging about his organization targeting Hillary.

US spies heard Russian intelligence agent vowing to target Clinton: report

 US spies heard Russian intelligence agent vowing to target Clinton: report

© Getty
U.S. spies reportedly heard a Russian military intelligence officer bragging about his organization planning to target Hillary Clinton in May 2016.
The officer told a colleague that GRU would cause havoc in America’s presidential election, Time reported Thursday.
The officer reportedly described the intelligence agency’s effort as retribution for what Russian President Vladimir Putin considered Clinton’s influence campaign against him while serving as secretary of State.
Senior U.S. intelligence officials told Time that American spies transcribed the conversation and sent it to headquarters for analysis.
Time reported that an official document based on the raw intelligence was then circulated.“We didn’t really understand the context of it until much later,” a senior U.S. intelligence official said.
Putin publicly accused Clinton of conducting a major operation against Russia when protests erupted in more than 70 cities in 2011.
Read more >>>>

Monday, May 15, 2017

Email from Hillary Clinton

Friend --
Over the last few months, we've seen something remarkable:
From the Women's March to airports across the country where communities are welcoming immigrants and refugees to town hall meetings in every community, Americans are speaking out like never before.
I believe more fiercely than ever that citizen engagement at every level is central to a strong and vibrant democracy.
To support this wave of grassroots organizing, we're launching Onward Together, an organization dedicated to advancing the progressive vision that earned nearly 66 million votes in the last election. Onward Together will work to build a brighter future for generations to come by supporting groups that encourage people to organize and run for office. I'm so grateful to everyone who has reached out to say that you're still fighting for the values we share. Will you add your name to let me know you're with us?
Since November, I've been doing my fair share of reflecting, spending time with friends and family -- and yes, going for long walks in the woods.
I've been particularly inspired by everyone who has stepped up to lead in this crucial moment for our country, and so I'm proud to announce Onward Together is beginning by supporting five groups leading the way.
At Swing Left, experts from the tech, media, finance, nonprofit, and arts industries are working to take back the House in 2018 by mobilizing volunteers in swing districts, where votes will count the most. The team at Emerge America has doubled down on finding, inspiring, and training their most diverse slate of Democratic women yet to run for office and start to close the political ambition gap. With more than one million members, Color Of Change leads national accountability campaigns to fight for criminal justice reform, voter freedom, fairness and accuracy in the media, and other critical issues of racial justice. Hundreds of thousands of people have made their voices heard thanks to Indivisible, an effort led by former Congressional staffers who are using their expertise to help ordinary people reach their members of Congress. And since two former campaigners announced the creation of Run for Something on Inauguration Day, more than 9,000 young people have signed up to run for local office to make real change in their own communities.
In some cases, we'll provide direct funding to these organizations. For others, we'll help amplify their work and do what we can to help them continue to grow their audiences and expand their reach.
If you're committed to standing up for a fairer, more inclusive America, add your name to join us right now. We'll be in touch about how you can support these groups and more like them. There's no time to waste.
The challenges we face as a country are real. But there's no telling what we can achieve if we approach the fights ahead with the passion and determination we feel today, and carry that energy into 2017, 2018, 2020, and beyond.
“Resist, insist, persist, enlist.”
Hillary Rodham Clinton

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Update: The Arctic and The Paris Agreement

Here is Rex Tillerson's address to the Arctic Council in Fairbanks. Bolded emphasis is mine.
Rex W. Tillerson
Secretary of State
Fairbanks, Alaska
May 11, 2017

SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, it’s my pleasure to welcome all of you, foreign ministers, permanent participant heads of delegation, Arctic Council observers, and honored guests. And I want to thank again the tribal leaders of the aboriginal groups for their greeting this morning and their very meaningful message to all of us, and we appreciate their opening this session for us.
I want to welcome all of you to the 10th Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting and this beautiful city of Fairbanks, and we thank them again for their great hospitality in hosting us.
I would now call your attention to the provisional agenda for this meeting and seek its adoption.
(No response.)
SECRETARY TILLERSON: As I see no delegates seeking the floor, I take it that the agenda can be adopted without change. It is so decided.
As the next agenda point, I would like to call for the adoption of the SAO Report to Ministers.
(No response.)
SECRETARY TILLERSON: As I see no delegations seeking the floor, I take it that the report can be adopted without change. It is so decided.
Let’s turn to the agenda item on the accomplishments of the Arctic Council during the U.S. chairmanship.
The United States had been privileged to lead the Arctic Council at a time when the Arctic Region has been facing unprecedented change and challenges.
I am grateful for the level of cooperation that the nations and the peoples of the Arctic have demonstrated as they continue to address these challenges.
The Arctic Council, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, has proven to be an indispensable forum in which we can pursue cooperation. I want to affirm that the United States will continue to be an active member in this council. The opportunity to chair the Council has only strengthened our commitment to continuing its work in the future.
We look forward to working with Finland as they assume the leadership role of this council. There are still issues of great concern to each of us that we can address, including advancing the welfare and living conditions of those who call the Arctic home; recognizing that each country has a strategic interest in being part of the Arctic’s future; and making sure that we continue to be vigilant in protecting the fragile environment.
In the United States, we are currently reviewing several important policies, including how the Trump administration will approach the issue of climate change. We are appreciative that each of you has an important point of view, and you should know that we are taking the time to understand your concerns. We’re not going to rush to make a decision. We’re going to work to make the right decision for the United States. The Arctic Council will continue to be an important platform as we deliberate on these issues.
I could not hope to mention all of the individual initiatives and programs that the Council has brought to fruition over the past two years under U.S. chairmanship. Each of the Council’s subsidiary bodies has done outstanding work in this respect, and I do wish to acknowledge and commend all of their efforts, even as I highlight but a few.
The signing of the Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation will facilitate the movement of scientists, scientific equipment, and importantly, data sharing across the international boundaries of the Arctic.
The Council has produced the first-ever assessment of telecommunications infrastructure in the Arctic. During the Finnish chairmanship, the Arctic Council will build on this work in conjunction with the private sector to advance this ongoing effort to strengthen connectivity throughout the Arctic Region.
Arctic Council members have conducted multiple exercises to prepare for potential search-and-rescue events in the Arctic as well as to coordinate responses to environmental incidents. These exercises significantly advanced our capacity to address risks inherent in the increased human activity that is undergoing and will continue to expand in the Arctic Region.
At the community level, the council broke new ground in a number of ways. A compelling initiative known as RISING SUN has produced resources that will prove truly valuable to Arctic residents in addressing suicide prevention, particularly among indigenous youth. The council also built on work initiated by the State of Alaska to improve water and sanitation capacity in rural Arctic communities.
As Arctic shipping continues to increase, the Council took a number of measures designed to ensure that such shipping remains safe and reliable, including the Arctic Ship Traffic Database that will improve our understanding of the ship traffic in the Arctic, including the number and types of vessels in the Arctic, their exact routing, and other important information.
And finally, the Council has strengthened resilience at the national and local levels in the face of environmental and other change.
I could go on at length about our shared accomplishment, but I am certain other speakers today will mention the many other Arctic Council projects deserving of recognition.
Let me close my remarks by thanking again all of those involved in these initiatives – the many government officials, the permanent participants, the working group and task force chairs, the secretariats, the observers and invited experts. The last two years have witnessed remarkable growth in the reach and productivity of the Arctic Council, thanks to all of you. And I am confident that, under the leadership of Finland, the Council is poised to do even more.
With that, we’re ready to move to the next agenda item, which is the statements from the Arctic States and from the permanent participants. I now offer the floor to each of the other heads of delegation in turn for these statements, beginning with Canada.
Here is an update on the administration's position on the Paris Agreement.  It remains no position.

The Paris Climate Agreement: Why is President Trump Still Waffling?

By Joel B. Stronberg
Predictably there’s been a lot written over the last few weeks about the Paris Climate Agreement and whether the Trump administration will continue to sit with other nations.
Driving the coverage is the on-again off-again meeting between Trump and a pace of senior advisors. The ultimate decision will be his to make—purportedly after the G-7 summit at the end of May. His advisors are divided. EPA Administrator Pruitt leads the leavers, while Secretary of State Tillerson, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are shepherding those advising to stay.
Read more >>>>
Looks like there might be a big battle there.

Here is Hillary Clinton's statement on the Paris Agreement issued in December, 2015.

Hillary Clinton Statement on the Paris Climate Change Agreement

Hillary Clinton released the below statement following the conclusion of an international climate agreement at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The agreement solidifies greenhouse gas pollution reduction targets from more than 180 countries accounting for more than 90 percent of global emissions; establishes transparency provisions to measure global progress and hold countries accountable; and mobilizes financial support and private-sector investment to help developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change and achieve sustainable economic growth.
“I applaud President Obama, Secretary Kerry and our negotiating team for helping deliver a new, ambitious international climate agreement in Paris. This is an historic step forward in meeting one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century—the global crisis of climate change.
“The Paris agreement is testament to America’s ability to lead the world in building a clean energy future where no one is left out or left behind. And it was made possible in part by every person, business owner, and community in the United States and around the world that stepped up to prove we don’t have to choose between growing our economy and protecting our kids’ health and future—we can do both.
“But we will only succeed if we redouble our efforts going forward to drive innovation, increase investment, and reap the benefits of the good-paying jobs that will come from transitioning to a clean energy economy. The next decade of action is critical—because if we do not press forward with driving clean energy growth and cutting carbon pollution across the economy, we will not be able to avoid catastrophic consequences.
“We cannot afford to be slowed by the climate skeptics or deterred by the defeatists who doubt America’s ability to meet this challenge. That’s why as President, I will make combating climate change a top priority from day one, and secure America’s future as the clean energy superpower of the 21st century.”
Read more >>>>

 This is no longer about a political campaign and should not be a political football.  It is about the future, and it is urgent!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Keeping Up with Hillary Clinton

Hillary's Twitter account may be quiet these days, but that doesn't mean she is hiding in the woods. Newsweek caught up with her activities this week.

Where Is Hillary Clinton? Former Presidential Candidate Attends Dinner At Haim Saban's In L.A.

Hillary Clinton returned to the West Coast Thursday when she attended a dinner at Haim and Cheryl Saban’s house in Los Angeles.
The former presidential candidate was among 40 to 50 of her biggest sponsors at the gathering, which was intended to be a thank you dinner for major donors of her 2016 presidential campaign, Variety reported.
The Clintons have had a longstanding relationship with the Sabans. Haim Saban was one of Clinton’s biggest supporters during her campaigns in 2016 and 2008, donating millions of dollars toward Clinton’s runs, including a whopping $12 million to super PAC Priorities USA Action, which also was in attendance at the dinner.
During the event, which was also attended by Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton announced plans to start a new political group called Onward Together, extending from her campaign slogan, Stronger Together.
Read more >>>>

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Mindreaders

Yesterday a FOX News story circulated saying that Hillary Clinton had "a mixed mind" about the firing of James Comey. It was based on anonymous sources, of course. Hillary Clinton has issued no public statement on the matter.

Then there is this from Hillary's close confidante, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

White House Spokeswoman Says Hillary Clinton Would Have Fired James Comey ‘Immediately’
Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Wednesday asserted without any corroboration that Hillary Clinton would have fired FBI Director James Comey “immediately” had she won the election last fall. She added, “thank God she didn’t [win].”
Huckabee Sanders, filling in for Sean Spicer at Wednesday’s press briefing, tried to defend President Trump’s decision to abruptly dismiss Comey late Tuesday — a move that caught much of Washington off guard and sparked outrage from Democrats and several key Republicans as well.
“Most of the people that are declaring war today are the very ones that were begging for Director Comey to be fired,” Huckabee Sanders said. “If Hillary Clinton had won the election, which thank God she didn’t, but if she had… she would have fired Comey immediately.”
Huckabee Sanders's boss, Sean Spicer, was caught hiding in the bushes outside the White House Tuesday night.

This same White House barred American press from the Oval Office yesterday while letting the Russian cameras in the room believing that the photos would not be released.

Not only were they played, they admitted they were tricked ... amazed that the Russians lied to them! Not so good at reading Russian minds, it seems.

Trump with Lester Holt today:
HOLT: Were you angry with James Comey when he went public and said he can't support your unsubstantiated charges of wiretapping, that your predecessor wiretapped you?
TRUMP: I was surprised he said it but I wasn't angry. There's a big thing going on right now which is spying and it's -- you can call it anything you want -- the unmasking and the spying and to me that's the big story right now. That's a very, very big story.

Hmmmmm... wonder what minute drones the Russians scattered around the West Wing.


Trump Official: We ‘Let the Biggest Perpetrator of Fake News into the Oval Office’

Team Trump is “either in bed with the Russians or too stupid to understand the severity of this mistake,” an official fumed after Kremlin press got exclusive Oval Office access.
Two senior administration officials, one an Obama holdover and the other a Trump appointee, told The Daily Beast that the resulting reliance of U.S. media on a propaganda arm of a foreign government let Russia set the public tone of the meeting and embarrassed the administration amid already contentious discussions with Russian diplomats.
Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity in order to candidly express their views. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Read more >>>>

[wpvideo iO8J0Erh]

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Times that try our souls: Think twice before you celebrate Trump firing Comey

The Crisis

by Thomas Paine

December 23, 1776
THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.
Read more >>>>
So, last night when we were, depending on our locations, mixing the dinner salad or driving the kids to soccer, James Comey, who was at work in Los Angeles meeting with agents there, was summarily fired by Donald Trump who did not have the grace to learn that Comey was not at the location (FBI HQ) where the letter firing him was sent and leaked the letter to news media so that Comey found out via TV while working. This is the shoddiest, shabbiest way I have ever seen anyone fired.  It was worse than doing it by post it.  Worse than a text or Facebook PM. It was a WTF kind of firing.

No love is lost between Team Hillary Clinton and the guy obsessed with her emails. He probably had a lot to do with some of her election results.  If she had prevailed, none of this would have happened because no matter how inimical he was to her candidacy, she would never have fired him.
Before we arise in a standing ovation that Comey is gone, let's assess the fact that the guy who fired him remains, and he is POTUS. He will be meeting today with Sergei Lavrov and apparently his own Secretary of State, Tillerson, will not be in on the meeting. How weird is that?

Do you see any kind of agenda here? Consolidation of influence at the top - not a good thing.  President Obama always trusted Secretary of State Clinton to meet effectively with FM Lavrov. Why does Trump not trust Tillerson similarly? Despots consolidate influence at the top.

Still laughing about how Comey was terminated? He was getting close to Trump's Russian relations.  Trump fired him in a way that was supposed to humiliate him - and probably did.

But that is nothing to celebrate. Comey was wrong-headed in some ways and deservedly should feel sick about how he wrong-headedly affected the election. Nevertheless he served - honorably  as far as we know.  He did not deserve to be treated like a used mophead.

Think before you laugh or celebrate. You never know. The next head on the chopping block could be your own. See The Tudors, The Borgias, The White Queen, The White Princess. Yes, we codified treason in our Consitution so those things would not happen, but look at James Comey!

We should be very careful about the firing of the head of the FBI.

Don't celebrate. Cerebrate! (Think!)

Monday, May 8, 2017

Arctic Activity.... #WatchThisSpace! Keep Watching!

Never mind that the melting of the ice cap has a human cause --- well mind, but put it aside for the moment.

The Arctic: Source of Conflict or Cooperation?

Tillerson and Lavrov are expected at this week’s meeting of Arctic Council at time of heightened tension

An icebreaker in Russia’s port of Dudinka earlier this month.
An icebreaker in Russia’s port of Dudinka earlier this month. Photo: LEV FEDOSEYEV/TASS/ZUMA PRESS
KITTILA, Finland—In normal times, a meeting of the Arctic Council wouldn’t usually attract much attention.
The intergovernmental forum was established 20 years ago to enable the eight countries with territory inside the Arctic Circle—the U.S., Canada, Russia, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland—to discuss how to protect the polar region’s unique environment.
But at a time of heightened geopolitical tension, this week’s meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska, carries extra significance. With U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, due to attend, the meeting that begins on Wednesday could have broader strategic consequences—both for the Arctic and the world.
Read more >>>>

Speech describes ‘obstacles’ to national security interests, but former official says it shows secretary of state is ‘clueless’
The US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has said Donald Trump’s “America first” approach to the world means decoupling US foreign policy from values such as human rights and freedom.
Addressing state department diplomats and staff, Tillerson said there were times when insistence that foreign countries abide by US values got in the way of the pursuit of national interests.
Read more >>>>
There is probably no statement by a U.S. Secretary of State crazier than what Tillerson said.

It is hard to believe that this is the same State Department Hillary Clinton headed only four plus years ago. Unrecognizable!

Many moons ago I said that Barack Obama should have had Lisa Murkowski over for lunch to congratulate her on her write-in victory.  He did not.  That was a stupid mistake. A political idiot would have known to do that.  Right.  That includes Trump.  But Hillary would have.

Murkowski is a key figure in our Arctic interests.

I wonder if she will be at Tillerson's side, as she was at Hillary's at this next Arctic Council event.  Or will they just be ramming through the ice pack to free up the lanes and let Russia drill, baby, drill?

There is common ground. The melting ice caps are an issue.  Protection of the ecosphere is an issue.

We are an Arctic nation. Our values should help form our policies.

Do you still wonder why Russia interfered with our election? Do you think it was for fun?

More here >>>>

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Barbra Streisand Shouts Out to Hillary Clinton at Barclays

Streisand Gives Hillary Clinton Big Shout-Out During Barclays Center Concert

Barbra Streisand paused during her standing-room-only concert in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center tonight to shine a spotlight on an audience member seated near the stage: Hillary Clinton.
According to a video tweeted by one nearby concertgoer (see below), Streisand gave a full-throated introduction to “our groundbreaking First Lady, senator from New York, Secretary of State, and the winner of our country’s popular vote, Hillary Rodham Clinton!” With husband Bill Clinton next to her, Clinton smiled and briefly stood to wave in acknowledgement of the crowd’s loud ovation.
Read more >>>>

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Bill Maher's New Rule Is Worthy of a Partial Indulgence

Bill Maher is no Hillary lover, and that's fine. You don't have to "love us, love our Hillary" for us to be conversant with you.  What we will not tolerate are unfair attacks on Hillary, and in this 2017 season, Maher has been guilty of that.

His worst offense this season came after Hillary spoke to California business women on myriad issues challenging working women from family leave, to discriminatory barriers, unfair hiring practices, and workplace bullying. During that speech in late March, Hillary briefly addressed two recent incidents where professional women, Representative Maxine Waters and journalist April Ryan, had been insulted. That part of her presentation occupied up to two minutes in a 55 minute speech.  Because of those particular remarks, Bill Maher attacked Hillary, suggesting that these comments were thin-skinned, were all she had to say, and ordered her to "stay in the woods."

Hillary had far more to say than the comments he cited.  It was offensive, sexist, and unfair of Maher in the same way Sean Spicer's treatment of April Ryan and Mitch McConnell's silencing of Elizabeth Warren during the Jeff Sessions confirmation hearings were. Interestingly, Hillary referred to the McConnell incident in that same speech, and Maher did not include that reference in his scolding.

Former candidates have every right to speak out.  Anti-Trump Republicans turned to former candidate Mitt Romney in their shock at their own 2016  nomination. I do not hear anyone telling Bernie Sanders to relinquish the talking stick. Why should Hillary?

Well, Maher earned a partial indulgence last night with one of his "new rules."

He would probably have to walk on his knees from California to Chappaqua before he would earn a plenary indulgence, but this is fine. Other media personalities certainly were more offensive and inflicted more damage.  We'll hold off on a final judgment until he gets through the whole season without again suggesting that Hillary should "stifle."

Perhaps he now gets it that silencing women - especially in a week when a woman was convicted of laughing during those same Sessions hearings might put you on the wrong side of history. Convicted of laughing - never imagined I would ever write such a phrase - not even in Duvalieriste Haiti.

We need every voice, especially Hillary's, because she is the one with all the plans.  She knows how to get things done.  Maher is too smart a guy to play the Archie Bunker card.  It was good to see him roll it back enough to break our hearts again with what she would and would not be doing.  We will be watching to make sure he continues to refrain from bashing her. She deserves our thanks and support.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Hillary Clinton, 2017 Women of Vision Honoree

Hillary Clinton was honored at the Ms. Foundation for Women's annual Gloria Awards and Gala.  The event was held Wednesday at Capitale in New York City.  Congratulations, Mme. Secretary!  Your vision continues to lead us.