Category Archives: Congress

Happy 4th of July, Comrades

The 4th of July.  The celebration of everything good that is America.

Freedom. Democracy (limited, but still trying). Bill of Rights. Fighting against fascism.

The holiday all Americans. Leftists. Rightists. Liberals. Conservatives. Christians. Muslims. Jews. Men. Women. Whites. Blacks. Hispanics. Straights. Gays. The holiday all Americans can celebrate.

Charge up the grill. Throw on some hot dogs. Have a beer.

The most SYMBOLIC holiday. The one holiday that says: We oppose dictators. We oppose fascism. We oppose tyrants. What the Revolutionary War was all about.

So, most US Congressmen are pressing the flesh. Getting photo ops with veterans or kids or old ladies. Listening to voters. Attending parades and picnics and fireworks. Celebrating.

But not all Congressmen (and Congresswomen).

Eight members of the highest lawmaking body in the land chose to skip this 4th of July. They ignored their own citizens and went on a junket. Left the country. Not to some Caribbean beach or exotic Pacific Island. Not to inspect the devastation in Puerto Rico or see for themselves the problems at the border. Not even to use the taxpayers dollars to slip away to Paris or Amsterdam or Rome for a “fact-finding” mission/ vacation.

These lawmakers left the land of the free and the home of the brave to rub shoulders with a dictator and his handpicked representatives. They celebrated freedom by engaging with the rulers of a land run by a dictator. A dictator who , according ot the CIA, FBI and the Senate Intelligence Committee, plotted ( and largely succeeded) to overthrow the US electoral system in 2016. And they are plotting to do the same in 2018, 2020, etc.

These lawmakers left the USA to do homage to Vladimir Putin. Your tax dollars at work.

“…Eight top lawmakers of the American political party now in sole control of Congress running off to Moscow to meet with Russian officials on Independence Day for no urgent reason other than to seek “a better relationship.” In essence, it’s a political gift to Russian President Vladimir Putin and a black eye for America delivered by Republican lawmakers (no Democrats were invited). Let’s remember these GOP names:

  • Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL)
  • Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA)
  • Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND)
  • Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS)
  • Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT)
  • Sen. John Thune (R-SD)
  • Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)
  • Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX)…”

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/7/5/1778318/-What-does-Putin-have-on-eight-GOP-lawmakers-who-fled-America-for-Moscow-on-July-4

Happy 4th of July, Comrades.

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Filed under Congress, Conservatives, Constitution, Elections, flag, GOP, government, Neoconservative, neoconservatives, Politics, Republicans, tea party, United States, US

Tom Reed’s (NY-23) Lies and Children

I called my Congressman, (NY-23rd) Tom Reed’s office last week and complained vociferously about his cowardly statement about the young children being separated from their mothers at the US border. The statement from his website, June 19, 2018:

“We care about these children being separated from their parents. These kids are unfortunate bystanders to a long-standing epidemic of weak border security and outdated laws. Congress must act in this week’s immigration reform bill to change the law so that children are not ripped from their parents’ arms, but provided a fair and compassionate solution to this heart-wrenching issue.”

(Bold face is mine.)

https://reed.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=1461

I suggested to Reed’s assistant that this statement was weak and inaccurate (well, ok, I think I called Reed a “pussy”). At any rate, Mr Reed sent me a response by email (I assume it was a form letter sent out to his constituents and not a personal response). In this latest mailing he says, in part:

“…On June 27, 2018 I voted in support of the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018 that would end this practice of separation, and would allow children to be held with their parents in family facilities. Congress must pass legislation to solve this crisis at our southern border. Current law and court settlements require that children not be held in the same detention centers that adults are held in while they await court proceedings. This means that, under current law, the children of parents who are waiting on legal proceedings cannot be held with their parents. We must work together to fix our immigration system and close the loopholes that allow tragedies like this to take place….”

(Bold face mine).

So. Let’s dissect this.

According to Reed the separation of children and their parents at the border is required by law. He cites no law. He cites no section of any law. He cites nothing. He simply echoes the lies tweeted by Donald Trump. Which is no surprise, since Reed was an early supporter and campaign organizer for Trump in NY.

Why does he not cite any specific law? And a fact check tells us why. According to independent fact checker website Snopes:

“…There is no federal law that stipulates that children and parents be separated at the border, no matter how families entered the United States. An increase in child detainees separated from parents stemmed directly from a change in enforcement policy repeatedly announced by Sessions in April and May 2018, under which adults (with or without children) are criminally prosecuted for attempting to enter the United States:…

“…However, neither the 1997 Flores settlement nor a 2008 human trafficking law cited in that release in any way stipulated that the government separate children from their parents:…

“…A cluster of rumors about the controversial separation of families at the border held that the policy came before the Trump administration, either stemming from a 1997 “law” or purported policies of previous administrations. Those claims were false. No federal law required or suggested the family separation policy announced by Attorney General Sessions in several sets of remarks during April and May 2018....”

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/was-law-separate-families-passed-1997/

So, while Tom Reed and President Trump claim that the ripping of children from their parents is a problem of the law, that is simply not the case. It is an executive decision made by the President. He chose to implement this nasty policy. And Tom Reed chooses to give him cover.

Tom acts as though this horrible situation is just, uh, well, the law. Which it isn’t. President Clinton did not do this. Bush did not do this. Obama did not do this. Why not? Because it is not the law. It is a very repulsive executive decision.

Final point. Just this week President Trump relented and ended the policy . Or at least he said so. Did Trump violate the law ?

Well, Tom, if this was a law mandated by Congress how can Trump unilaterally just change it?  A question I intend to ask next week when I call again.

Reed is one of those Trump politicians who talks the very moderate talk on TV. He is pushing his “brand” as one of the “Problem Solvers”. Then he votes against families, the poor, workers, SNAP and health care.

Now, he double talks about who created the mess of the toddlers from the border who, in his words , “…are …ripped from their parents’ hands…”

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Filed under border control, Congress, immigrants, Immigration, Politics, POTUS, president, Republicans, Trump, United States

Pardoning Oswald

Today Mr Trump pardoned “Scooter” Libby for his crimes against the US government. Just as he pardoned Joe Arpaio for his crimes against the US government. Seems like Mr Trump has a soft spot in his heart for certain kinds of criminals.

What did the “scooter” do? Well. Background.

In the build up to the Iraq invasion the Bush-Cheney White House put out the narrative that Saddam had an active nuclear program. So active, in fact, that he had acquired “yellowcake” uranium from Africa. Hence, the need to attack ASAP to prevent him from building the “bomb” !!

Concerned about this revelation (and knowing nothing about it) the CIA sent Joe Wilson to Niger to investigate. For 8 days. He found that the claim was false. Not only that, he wrote an op-ed to that effect. Congress had been given twisted information in the run up to the war. They voted for a war based on lies.

Not long after that a conservative pundit, Novak, published the name of Valerie Plame announcing to the world that she was a CIA operative. He got this information from 2 Bush administration sources, one of whom was the “Scooter”, a Cheney staffer. Why would the White House leak the name of a CIA operative? And why would a journalist publish her name? To what purpose? How does this help anyone?

It turns out that Plame was the wife of Joe Wilson. So, her career with the CIA was over. More important, her informants  in Europe, where she had been working under cover, were now at risk. Anyone associated with her might now be at risk. Who was feeding her information? We will never know how many lives were effected. And how many potential informants now would hesitate to deal with the CIA in fear of eventually being found out.

So, that was “Scooter’s” crime. The outing of a CIA agent for no other purpose than payback for her husband telling the truth. GW Bush REFUSED to pardon him, although he commuted his sentence.

So, why pardon “Scooter” now?

Some possible reasons. To send a message. Anyone who lies to the FBI in support of Trump has been given a clear signal…I will pardon you. Don’t worry. Keep the faith. Hold the line. Stick with the boss. Take the heat for the godfather.

Another possible reason? Distraction. Comey’s book came out today. And his interviews. And Trump is shitting himself. He has to distract. Give Hannity something to talk about? Distract from the Cohen raid. Distract form the Mueller probe.

Or, maybe Donald simply has a soft spot for criminals. White criminals. White collar criminals. Criminals he can relate to. Which leads me to conclude we will see even more pardons as the days progress and Mueller gets closer and closer to Donalds’ financial shenanigans.

I predict the following pardons from the Nuremberg trials. So many were falsely accused !!!:

April: Oswald Kaduk. Guilty of crimes against humanity. Auschwitz Trial; Karl Seufert. Guilty of crimes against humanity. Auschwitz Trial; Emil Bednarek.  Guilty of crimes against humanity. Auschwitz Trial

May: Bruno Schlange. Guilty of crimes against humanity. Auschwitz Trial; Lutz Graf Schwein von Grosigk. Guilty. Ministeries Trial.; Max Otto Ihn, Guilty, Krupp Trial.

June: Ernst Biberstein. Guilty. Einsatzgruppen Trial; Carl Krok. Guilty. IG Farben Trial; Carl Genzken. Guilty. Doctors Trial.

July: Jared Kushner. Paul Manafort.  Ivanka Trump. Mike Flynn, Donald Trump, Jr…..and Donald Trump…

And Congress will do nothing.

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/have-your-yellowcake/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Axis_personnel_indicted_for_war_crimes

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More Donuts, Please

There is an epidemic of gun violence in America. That is not even debatable. And there have been a multitude of solutions offered over time.

Most recently the President of the United States, the NRA and many members of Congress have offered the latest solution. Arm teachers. More armed guards. More guns. And more guns. And more guns.

A creative and exceptionally innovative solution to the problem of gun violence. More guns. So, I said to myself, why stop there. Maybe we can apply that same “reasoning” and “logic” to the many other problems we face. Let’s try.

Obesity is a major problem in the US. Anyone who has ever traveled to Italy or France or Spain immediately notices that there aren’t so many obese folks walking around. It could be limited to urban areas, perhaps. But, at least in my experience, folks in those countries  as a rule, seem not so chunky as Americans. I , myself, have done my patriotic duty by increasing my body mass significantly over the last 50 years or so. A proud American. A BIG proud American.

What is a reasonable solution to the health issues caused by obesity? Well, former First Lady Michelle Obama started a healthy eating program to encourage kids to develop good eating habits at a young age. She was vilified by the right wing extremists for that. Big government interfering with the proper parental role. Then Sarah Palin showed up at an elementary school with cookies for kids. She passed them out. She didn’t bother to ask parents if they wanted their kids to eat cookies or perhaps had allergy issues. The right wing applauded. More cookies. More cookies. More cookies.

So, a reasonable solution to the obesity problem is more donuts. More junk food. Less fruits and vegetables. The problem of obesity can be solved by increasing the availabilty of junk food. Yepper.

Drunk driving kills thousands of Americans each year. Currently we have DUI laws and put folks in prison for that. Take away licenses for driving drunk. But that has not solved the problem.

What we need is more and better access to booze while on the road. Every gas station should have a liquor license. Every driver should be given a free beer with a fill up. End DWI laws and impose DWS laws (Driving While Sober). Pull over anyone who is not weaving side to side at 50 MPH in a school zone. Fine em. Drink or don’t drive. The obvious solution to drunk driving is more access to alcohol by automobile operators. Yepper.

The opioid epidemic. Killing thousands every year. These opioids, many prescribed legally, have wreaked havoc on families and individuals. They have destroyed families. They are agents of death. So, what is the solution?

Easy. We need complete and total access to opioids . No prescription necessary. Over the counter. At the supermarket. The drug store. In our schools. Free opioids with every order of fries at Mc Donald’s. (Solving two problems at once)  The only way to stop the madness is total access to opioids. The more the better. Every teacher should be armed with opioids in case of an emergency. The emergency being that Billy forgot his opioids today. Yepper.

We could go on and on. But the message is clear.

The best way to solve a problem, according to our current leadership, is to make it even bigger.

Which reminds me, where are those donuts?

 

 

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Filed under Congress, crime, debates, gun control, healthcare, logic, obama, Politics, POTUS, Republicans, Society, Trump, United States, US, violence

2nd Amendment and Guntrol, Part 2

The DC v Heller decision of 2008 established 3 things, according to the majority opinion written by Justice Scalia. (See https://josephurban.wordpress.com/2018/02/22/2nd-amendment-and-gun-control-part-1/ for details.)

First, individual citizens, not part of a militia, have the right to own weapons.

Second, the government has the right to regulate who can have weapons.

Third, the government has the right to determine the legality of specific weapons. 

So, any attempt by any member of Congress to suggest that any gun control violates the 2nd Amendment should be referrred to the Scalia opinion. Gun control is constitutional.

So, what kind of gun control , which does minimal damage to the desire (not right) of gun owners to certain weapons, are possible?  Here are some possible gun control measures which Congress could take.

  1. A mandatory background check for any gun purchaser. Using a nationwide data base that identifies felons out on parole, individuals convicted of spousal abuse, individuals convicted of any violent crime, individuals currently charged with a violent offense pending trial.
  2. A ban on the ownership and sale of military-style assault weapons and any devices that can be used to enhance the firing capacity of weapons, including bumpstocks. (Except in licensed shooting ranges).
  3. A ban on the sale and/or transportation of weapons across state lines.
  4. Mandatory written and field and safety tests for anyone purchasing a weapon, including a screening for emotional and mental stability.
  5. A ban on any sale of guns other than that of a registered gun seller. This includes the ban on trading, swap meets or other gun sales not taking place in an established,  permanent location.
  6. The registration of all weapons with the local authorities. Including the free transfer of weapons to immediate famiy members, which would be legal.
  7. Establishment of shooting ranges for those who wish to fire military style weapons. These establishments would be able to legally rent military style weapons to shooters to be used only at the shooting ranges.
  8. The ban on any bullet or projectile designed to explode on entering the body or designed to pierce armor.
  9. The licensing of any gun owner, renewable every five years, to determine that the person keeps up with the skill, visual acuity, mental capacity to handle a weapon safely  and understands the law relating to weapons.
  10. Establishment of free clinics and classes to teach and train gun owners as to the proper and safe use of firearms.
  11. A Right To Know Law which gives parents the right to know which households have guns in them. A parent could then decide for themselves if they want to expose their child to a household which has a weapon. (Many children die playing with guns each year).
  12. A yearly weapons licensing tax to help defray the costs of gun safety programs.
  13. A health care premium Gun Violence Tax for gun owners. This would help defray the massive costs to hospitals,police, courts, jails and the insurance industry for costs related to the care of victims and perpetrators of gun violence nationwide. Hang on to your six-shooter. The annual estimated cost of gun violence in the USA is $8,600,000,000 (billion) in direct medical care. And the overall cost of gun violence to the economy is $229,000,000,000. See references at the end of this blog for details.

I am confident that many or all of these solutions, taken as a whole, would significantly reduce both intentional and accidental gun mortality.  All of these ideas are constitutional and easily implemented. I am also sure that people more astute and informed than I have even more and better solutions.

We license people to drive cars. We renew auto license plates every year or two. We tax vehicles and gas  used in those vehicles. We let people know if there is a sex offender living in the neighborhood so parents can protect their children. We heavily tax tobacco to reduce usage and pay for the costs of medical care caused by tobacco. So, none of the ideas above, if applied to weapons , is radical or unusual.

Would these solutions stop ALL gun violence? Of course not. Even places with strict gun control laws have some gun violence. But the likelyhood of desth by gun in these nations is minimal compared to the USA.

In Austria you are as likely to drown in a swimming pool as be killed by a gun.  In New Zealand, your chances of death by gun are the same as falling from a ladder. In Poland, the chance is the same as being killed on your bicycle. And in Japan you are just as likely to be hit by lightening as killed by a gun.

Think about that last statistic the next time you watch a thunderstorm brewing.

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/get-there/wp/2018/02/22/the-enormous-economic-cost-of-gun-violence/?utm_term=.e68d8c3d5463

http://www.businessinsider.com/gun-violence-costs-america-more-than-229-billion-every-year-2015-4

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Filed under Congress, gun control, healthcare, logic, NRA, police, Politics, Society, Taxes, United States, US, violence

2nd Amendment and Gun Control, Part 1

There is a very strange argument that is made by politicians, the NRA gun manufacturing lobby and some others concerning the 2nd Amendment and the rights entailed therein. The argument goes like this:

The Second Amendment guarantees any person’s right to own any kind of weapon.

They take the 2nd Amendment and parse it out, emphasizing some of the words and ignoring others. Kind of like when Betsy asks me to take out the garbage. Me? Take out? OK , Let’s order a pizza.

“Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

They kind of skip the first 13 words and then start reading. Speed reading? Skimming for the general idea? Hmmmm.

The obvious intention of the founding fathers was that, in the 18th century, there would be times when the local government would need a call to arms. Maybe the injuns were coming or the Brits had decided to try to retake the village. Or perhaps the Canadians were on the march attempting to impose universal health care on our children and widows.

Hence the first 13 words. A well-regulated militia. Pretty clear. Well…regulated …militia.

Some folks, however, ignore those words. They don’t like them. The 13 words not only imply a strict government control over arms, they specify it. We may need a local militia, so you should keep a gun handy. That does not mean you can have a gun for any other reason.

Of course, if the founding fathers INTENDED that everyone should have access to a gun for any reason they had no need for those 13 words. They could have kept it much simpler, as in the 1st Amendment. Short and sweet.

So the first argument supporting the notion that anyone can have any kind of weapon for any purpose is easily shot down and understood by anyone with a modicum or more of cognitive ability.

Of course, because the Constitution is interpreted by the Supreme Court, it really does not matter what the founders were thinking. The Supreme Court decides what the words mean, not the founders.

And here we see an interesting phenomena. The conservative justices  who CLAIM to be “strict constructionists” have actually changed the meaning of the 2nd Amendment. Now, I don’t mind the Court trying to keep up with modern times. I think the Supreme Court should do so. But I do find the hypocrisy of the conservatives on the Court somewhat amusing.

These same justices who claim to interpret the Constituion based on the “original” document and words of the founders tend to let this one slip by. The “originalists” suddenly found, after more than 200 years , that the founders didn’t realy mean “militia” when they wrote “militia”. The majority opinion in the Heller decision goes through more contortions than a Chinese acrobat trying to justify that one. But, they had the votes. So be it.

The Heller decision, giving all of us the individual right to own a gun  states, in part:

“Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.”

So, the founders were simply wrong when they wrote “well-regulated militia“. So much for the “strict constructionist” viewpoint.

But that’s ok. Everyone now has an individual right to own a gun. We all agree because the Supreme Court says so.

Which brings us to a second argument made by the NRA gun manufactuting industry and their employees in Congress. It goes like this.

Since I have the right to a gun, that means I have the right to ANY gun. And that means I can carry any gun anywhere I want. Therefore, no state or national government can make any laws restricting my right to own my gun or where I can wander around with it. Any government that does that is trying to take away my gun.

The obvious fallacy of that position is clear. If you want to think about it. It would mean that the only unlimited right granted to citizens by the government is the right to have a gun. All other rights have associated responsibilities and limits, but not my right to a gun. It places the 2nd Amendment in a different category than every other right.

Of course, that argument is easily refuted. Just look at the 1st Amendment. We have the right to free speech. It’s right there, in black and white. But that right is not unlimited. We have libel laws which restrain speech. We have regulations as to what words can be used on non-cable tv stations. We have slander laws. We have laws against threatening to kill others, especially political leaders. Try telling a joke about having a bomb in your backpack when you are boarding a plane and you will see how quickly your “free speech” is dealt with.

The same is true of freedom of  religion. You have the freedom to worship in the church or mosque or synagogue or basement of your choice. You can pray to anything you want to pray to. Some Native American churches are even allowed to void anti-drug laws because they have a longstanding use of peyote in their rituals. But if you are an Aztec and believe in human sacrifice, that is a no-no. A fundamentalist Mormon may believe he can have numerous child wives (and some do) but that is illegal. You can believe it is your right and religious duty as the “father” of the house to beat your kids and wife. But that is not tolerated. Limitations.

So, every right has legitimate, common sense restrictions. Even in the Heller case, the most conservative of the justices, Justice Scalia, pointed out that this right is not unlimited. Specifically stating, in his majority opinion, that schools and government buildings are places where restictions may be logically imposed. Also, certain categories of people, like felons, could be legally restriced from owning guns. Further, he stated that the government has the ability to restrict certain kinds of firearms, like military weapons, as well.

So, the idea that every person has an unlimited right to any type of gun he wants does not pass muster. Even the most conservative member of the Court, Justice Scalia,  recognized that, while you have an individual right to a weapon, that right is not without proper government restrictions.

In essence, the most radical arguments of the NRA gun manufacturing lobby and the extremists goes down the toilet.  The only question that remains is: What are reasonable restrictions?

2nd Amendment and Gun control, Part 2, next time.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/second_amendment

https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/07-290.ZS.html

http://www.scotusblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/07-290.pdf

 

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Filed under Congress, Conservatives, Constitution, GOP, government, gun control, logic, Neoconservative, NRA, Politics, Supreme Court

Crocodile Tears…YAWN

 

Another school shooting today in Florida. YAWN. 17 people, mostly kids,  dead; a bunch more injured. YAWN. The shooter was known to be a problem. YAWN. The shooter used an AR-15 assault weapon. YAWN.

We now have about 1 school shooting every 2 or 3 days.

So, join me and Governor Scott of Florida. And Senator Rubio of Florida.And President Trump. And the rest of Congress.

Join me as we call for prayers. Our thoughts and condolences are with these children. And their families. Our deepest sympathy for the mothers who bore these childeren and will never see them graduate from high school. The fathers who changed their diapers and rolled around the living room floor with them. The brothers and sisters who fought with them, loved them, hated them and hugged them. Join me in prayers.

Congress and the president and all the decent people in America must join together in a moment of silence. We feel their pain. It is awful. We must all cry together.

We must all cry the crocodile tears. Doesn’t matter if it is Florida crocodiles or Connecticut crocodiles or Nevada crocodiles or South Carolina crocodiles. We all need to shed those tears.

But don’t shed too many. Save some. Because next month you will need to shed them again. Don’t cry yourself dry. You may run out of tears, but you can always pray.

The choice is clear. We can support the gun sellers, supported by the NRA. Or, we can keep our children safe with sane gun laws.

The solution is clear. We must share the pain. We must stand with the victims. We must pray.

And stand with Governor Scott who made this statement.

After the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub that left 49 people dead and dozens injured, Scott responded to questions about gun control in Florida.

“I’m not going to call a special session. The Second Amendment didn’t kill anybody,” Scott said.

Stand with Marco Rubio who just yesterday pointed out what needs to be done:

Fox News’ Pete Doocy asked Rubio if he thought it was appropriate to be discussing gun control after the events.

“It’s not, only because people don’t know how this happened,” Rubio said. “[We don’t know] who this person is, what motivated them, how did they get a hold of the weapon that they used for this attack.”

To quote Rubio again: “How did they get a hold of a weapon ???” I mean, who knows how? It’s a mystery!

So. Let us cry those crocodile tears. And let us pray. Like the governor of Florida and Congress and the president, please feel the pain. Because it makes us sad.

But oppose background checks. Oppose any ban on assault weapons. Oppose any national solution to a national issue. Stand with the NRA gun sellers. And shed those crocodile tears.

Please print and save this blog. Tape it to your refrigerator. You can read it again next month when the next school mass shooting takes place.

 

 

 

 

http://www.wesh.com/article/gov-scott-responds-to-questions-on-gun-control/4450513

https://www.mediaite.com/tv/marco-rubio-now-not-the-time-to-talk-gun-control-because-people-dont-know-how-this-happened/

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Filed under Congress, GOP, gun control, Politics, United States

My Secret Society

Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has dropped a BOMBSHELL. He has evidence that the FBI is running a “secret society” to destroy Mr Turmp. He has an INFORMANT who has proof of that secret society. I know this because the Senator said so on TV:

“..Speaking to Fox News on Tuesday, Johnson suggested bias and potential corruption at the upper echelons of the agency.
“What this is all about is further evidence of corruption — more than bias — but corruption at the highest levels of the FBI,” Johnson said.
The Republican senator said at the time he obtained his information from an informant.
“And that secret society — we have an informant talking about a group that were holding secret meetings off-site. There’s so much smoke here, there’s so much suspicion,” Johnson said.
Johnson confirmed to CNN Wednesday he spoke to an informant who told him about the “off-site” meetings FBI managers were holding. But he acknowledged not knowing what the meetings were about, suggesting he wanted to dig into the matter…”
So there you have it. A US Senator accusing the highest levels of the FBI of actively engaging in  a criminal conspiracy. With meeting secretly in groups to undermine the administration. And he has the informant to prove it. Certainly a US Senator would not make such a charge lightly!
 So, another Senator, McCaskill of Missouri asked for the evidence. After all, this is a serious charge:
“You have now made serious and damaging allegations,” McCaskill wrote. “I would assume that you would never make those kinds of allegations without serious and substantial hard evidence. If the committee has any evidence that the FBI is, as you have stated, biased and corrupt at the highest levels, I assume that evidence is strong in both quality and quantity, and extends far beyond a casual mention in a text message between two agents who were involved in personal crosstalk. And as ranking member of this committee, I deserve access to this evidence.”
Well…er…uh…no hard evidence. Well, er…no evidence of any kind. 
So, 24 hours later Senator Johnson has backed down. He had no evidence. He had no informant. He just had Fox News  (which never asked him for hard evidence, either). So, another “scandal” about the FBI bites the dust.
But beware. There are secret societies out there . Plots and counterplots. With nefarious intentions. You just have to connect the dots. In fact, I have been able to unearth a secret society that held secret meetings going back to the 1970s!!! This group had a number of members, and was so secret that some members did not even know each other. And also so secret that the members never even met!!! I was in the group but it was so secret that even I did not know it.
I am changing the names to protect their identities, but the plot goes like this. A guy named Ray (not his real name) went to school at MSU (not a real school). He drove around in BIG PINK, a gas guzzling massive mobile. He got a degree in liberalism. Then he disappeared from the state for many years and finally was tracked down in Alabama. Now Alabama just elected a Democrat to the Senate. So, connect the dots. Ray…PINKO…Hides out…Democrat elected in Alabama, which just happens to be where he emerges.
Then there is Jack (not his real name) . Became a pyschologist (not a real job). Disappeared from Michigan for many years. Grew a beard as a disguise (didn’t work). Tracked down to Nevada. Nevada has Las Vegas. Lots of lights in Las Vegas. That means using electricity. The electric chair is used in some states for executions. So, connect the dots. Disappearance… disguise…death penalty…psychologist. Shorten psychologist and what do you get? PSYCHO!!!
Then there is Dan (not his real name). Went to war in Vietnam. Worked (if you call it that) for the US “Postal” Service  for many years. Or did he? Why did he go to Nam instead of having heel spurs? Figure it out. Writes songs. Sings songs (well, drones songs). Connect the dots. Vietnam, a COMMUNIST country. Why was he in a COMMUNIST country? Connect the dots. Communist…infiltrates the post office….what goes on in the post office? …letters…letters to the White House !!! Holy cow. A communist with access to top secret letters to the White House.
This secret society (Not Ray, Not Jack, Not Dan, Not Joe ) have never met as a group. Yet, you see the nefarious connections.  It is so OBVIOUS !
I am sending this to Senator Johnson of Wisconsin. I am sure he can connect the dots. Sorry “Not Ray”, “Not Jack” and “Not Dan”. You will be getting your subpoenas forthwith.  From the House on Unamerican Activities Committee. You recall? The same committee that was chaired by another distinguished senator from Wisconsin. Joe McCarthy.

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New Year Predictions 2018

This is the time of year when we think about the new year and what it will bring.  My new year predictions for 2018. While a couple might be a little off, I remain confident that my overall predictions will hold true.

The Cleveland Browns football team will be allowed to leave the NFL and play against selected college teams. While they do not fair well against Southeastern Virginia Disability Institute and the Outer Waco Texas Girls Ballet School the season is not a total loss. They will end up with a 1-11 record, having eked out a 3-0 victory over the Northern Idaho School for the Blind.

Robert Mueller’s third cousin on his mother’s side, 12 year old Cynthia Woggles,  will be investigated by a Congressional Committee headed by Trent Gowdy. The investigation, which will cost $ 7,000,000 and the calling of 98 witnesses, all of whom are commentators on Fox and Friends, will discover that Woggles  voted for Hillary Clinton in her 6th grade mock election in 2016.  (Not to be confused with the national mock election held the same year) Mr Trump will use this evidence of bias to fire the Republican Mueller. In  his place Mr Trump will appoint Roy Moore to take over the investigation. Moore immediatley calls Woggles for a play date.

Major League baseball will announce that after a study of fan injuries at 6 ballparks they have discovers 14 fans who had died during the game. At first the cause of the deaths was a mystery, since none of these fans were hit by foul balls or bats. Medical examiners confirm that these deaths can be attributed to a cerebral shutdown of the inner brain, caused by intense boredom.

The US will recognize the following new capitals. Scotland. Former capital: Edinburgh. New capital: Trump International Golf Links.  China. Former capital: Beijing, Forbidden City. New capital: Shanghai, Ivanka Shoe Factory.  Iran. Former capital: Tehran. New capital: Jersusalem.  USA. Former capital: Washington, DC. New capital: Mar-A-Lago, Florida. Congress passes a law concuring.

FEMA will announce, sometime in June, that they have devised a plan to bring power back to Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico has not had full electric power resumed since Hurricane Maria in September, 2017. Despite the fact that the FEMA response was the “best response ever” to a catastrophe (a close second being the FEMA response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans) . The new plan calls for running an extension cord from Merida, Mexico to the island to bring power back on line to the millions of foreigners living in Puerto Rico.  As long as Mexico agrees to pay for the cord.

The 1st Annual Scott Pruitt “Global Warming is a Hoax” seminar takes place in a yacht named “The Golden Dollar” off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina in July. Guest speakers include climate experts Sean Hannity, Clint Eastwood’s empty chair and the entire Duck Dynasty family. The conference is cut short when a family of polar bears swims past searching for ice.

In the Vatican, Pope Francis is caught on mike saying that he thinks “this god stuff is a bunch of BS”. Nevertheless,  he speaks out against war, violence, disease, global warming and hatred. He calls on all government leaders of the world to join in peace and harmony. No one calls back.When asked what common people should do to solve these problems he answers: “I tell you, I’m all outta ideas. Reality sucks so you might as well pray to a fantasy. Gets ME through the day.”

The New England Patriots win the Super Bowl, 17-14, on February 4 in a thriller over the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles have 7 TDs called back by the replay officials in NY, who are nowhere near the actual location of the game in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Days later it is discovered that the league officials in NY had mistakenly been watching the replays of the Bournemouth vs. Stoke City English Premier League soccer match of February 3, in which no one scored. As usual.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announces the closing of all National Parks, except for Mount Rushmore. All parks will be sold to the Koch Brothers at a deep discount and the proceeds, which are tax deductible, will be spent renovating Mount Rushmore. The faces of Teddy Roosevelt, George Washington , Thomas Jefferson and Abe Lincoln will be sandblasted away to make room for giant head of Donald Trump, surrounded by his three wives. The monument will be renamed: Best Monument Ever. Congress concurs.

On a strict liberal vs. conservative vote the Supreme Court approves Executive Order 5,678 on the topic of voting rights. Since the court had previously ruled , under Citizens United, that money equals speech, they extend that ruling to include voting. Under the new ruling “money equals voting”, as well. Based on the principle of “one dollar equals one vote” the 2018 election will be determined by a new voting method. Every citizen must bring in their tax returns to show their gross income from wages and investments. Each dollar will count as one vote.

North Korean leader, professional golfer and all around bozo Kim Jung Un  announces a new building plan. He has signed an agreement with Trump University to open up a “Kim-Donald School For Learning Stuff” in Pyongyang. The school will focus on business related seminars including: How to Get Stuff  For Free; 12 Ways to Evict “Those People”; Tax Evasion 101: Avoiding Those Nasty Import Fees; and, Bankruptcy, The Real Estate Developers Best Friend. Eric Trump attends the ribbon cutting ceremony which is a disaster as none of the Korean made scissors are sharp enough to cut the paper ribbon. Eric calls the “Kim-Donald “school  the “best university ever” and announces at the same time that the US will begin selling nuclear technology to Kim as a gesture of good will.

Finally. Congress votes itself a 50% pay raise for a “job well done”. The legislative branch passed a total of three bills. They were: 1. “The Amazing Trump is the Best President Ever” bill awarding the Trump Medal of MAGA to the best person in America. This year’s recipient? Donald Trump. 2. “The FBI Traitor” law. Which labels all members of the FBI, former and current, official “enemies of the people” and subject to immediate permanent detention and prosecution for doing “bad stuff”. Mueller is the first to be perp walked. 3. “Congressional Vacation Act” which allows Congress to take a vacation for a period including January 2 through December 30, with pay and expenses for fact finding travel.  Mr Trump signed all three bills and praised Congress for their services… which will no longer be necessary.

 

 

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I’m Rubber, You’re Glue

Many times when I was in 2nd grade there were often various verbal conflicts among the students. Some examples might be : You’re a big dummy. Another good one: You stink. And the classic: You’re ugly and stupid.

It may seem that these rhetorical barbs are impossible to contradict. How can one defend oneself against such succinct and astute accusations? How does one fend off these clever verbal retorts?

Well, other 2nd graders were up to the task. When confronted with verbal abuse (by other students; verbal abuse by Sister Clamidia dare not be challenged) we were armed with the nuclear weapon of rhetorical excellence: I’m rubber and you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you. 

OUCH. The attacker slinks off defeated. There is no response to this statement. Anything the attacker says now just ends up applying to the aggressor. The nuclear option.

Which brings me to modern politics.   Politicians sometimes make a claim about an opponent. The opponent is a crook. A sexual abuser. A criminal. You know the drill. And sometimes politicians just make statements which attribute certain other behaviors to their political foes.

Sometimes these accusations and statements end up being true or partially true. Other times the accusations end up being the 2nd grade equivalent of  “I’m rubber and you’re glue…” 

Some examples: Michael Flynn leading the chant at the GOP national convention: Lock Her Up. Lock Her Up. All the while Flynn himself had been secretly breaking the law and taking money from the Turkish dictator, possibly money funneled to him and his son from Putin. Now, Flynn has pleaded guilty and his heading for “Lock Up”.

I’m Rubber, You’re Glue

Donald Trump:  “How low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!” March 4, 2017. Now the Mueller investigation closes in, Watergate -style, on Mr Trump. More and more evidence of the conspiracy between at least 9 members of the Trump campaign and Putin’s Russians. The firing of Comey to try to cover up the crimes.  Sounds an awful lot like Nixon/Watergate.

I’m Rubber, You’re Glue

“Why isn’t the House Intelligence Committee looking into the Bill & Hillary deal that allowed big Uranium to go to Russia[?]” he ( Trump) asked in a message posted to Twitter. Well, the Congress and special prosecutor are looking into deals with Russia. Trump deals. Even though Trump has denied ANY deals with Russia.

I have no deals that could happen in Russia, because we’ve stayed away,” Trump said in early January 2017 as President-elect. “We could make deals in Russia very easily if we wanted to, I just don’t want to because I think that would be a conflict. I have no loans, no dealings, and no current pending deals.”  

Except:  “Around the time presidential candidate Donald Trump was touting his real estate dealings at a Republican primary debate, a proposal was in the works to build a Trump Tower in Russia that would have given his company a $4 million upfront fee, no upfront costs, a percentage of the sales, and control over marketing and design. And that’s not all: the deal included the opportunity to name the hotel spa after his daughter Ivanka….”

I’m Rubber, You’re Glue

There’s more. A Trump tweet about Al Franken: “The Al Frankenstien picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words. Where do his hands go in pictures 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 while she sleeps? …”

Of course, Trump himself has bragged about sexually assaulting women. And at least 13, (the number seems to keep growing) different women over the years have charged that Donald has assaulted them. As far back as 1980. And he seems to really like the Moore-age girls. ” Tasha Dixon, who competed as Miss USA Arizona—not in the teen competition—in 2001 said: “He just came strolling right in. There was no second to put a robe on or any sort of clothing or anything. Some girls were topless. Other girls were naked.” Some of the contestants in Miss Teen USA were as young as 15. “Don’t worry, ladies, I’ve seen it all before,” Trump allegedly said.”

I’m Rubber, You’re Glue

So , next time you hear a member of Congress say that Bob Mueller is a “crook” or we should “lock her up” or that “everybody does it”, remember the second graders at St. Mary School.

I’m rubber and you’re glue. Perhaps that should be engraved on the Capitol Building and White House.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/08/politics/document-trump-tower-moscow/index.html

https://www.aol.com/article/news/2017/03/27/trump-calls-for-investigation-into-hillary-clinton-russia-connection/22014433/

https://www.thedailybeast.com/all-of-donald-trumps-accusers-a-timeline-of-every-alleged-grope-and-assault

 

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Turkey Tax Theory

For over 30 years I have insisted on cooking the Thanksgiving turkey. I say “insisted”. It is my right as the head of the family. As a man. I decide these things. I know better than anyone else how to cook a turkey, so I take control. End of discussion. (Right, dear?)

I have a very sound theory of turkey cooking. First, you buy a turkey.  Then you cook it. Simple. Common sense.

Of course some folks might look to socalled “experts” when it comes to cooking turkey, but not me. They look in cook books and on line videos and some even ask grandma. But not me. I have a theory and I am sticking to it.

Now, the cookbook “experts” will tell you to cook a turkey at 325 degrees for a certain length of time, depending on the size of the bird. So much for experts. I have been using my own theory for 30 years. Ignoring the experts.

Here’s my theory.  I get a 15 pound turkey. Now, the “experts” say that you should cook a 15 pound turkey at 325 degrees for 3-3 1/2 hours. Balderdash. My common sense theory says  this is a waste of time. I don’t want to wait 3 1/2 hours for a turkey.  So, using common sense and math (Well, a calculator) my theory says this.

Cooking a turkey at 650 degrees will shorten the cooking time by exactly one-half. So, my turkey will be ready at 1 1/2 hours or so. No reason to wait for 3 hours. Simple. To the point. Common sense. A theory any idiot can understand.

I have been cooking Thanksgiving birds like this for 30 years and EVERY year, I mean EVERY year, the turkey ends up charred on the outside, partially cooked on the inside and a smoking mess. There is always a problem with the smoke filling the kitchen and the smoke alarm going off. I solve that easily by opening windows and disabling the smoke alarm ahead of time. Clever. The volunteer fire department is on retainer.

Why does the turkey always burn? For the first 20 years I figured it was a bad batch of turkeys. Not my fault. So I tried every turkey under the sun. I cooked each of the following , in order:

Honeysuckle, Butterball, Jennie-O, Norbest, Shay Brook, Riverside, Foster Farms, Boar’s Head, Plainville Farms, Trader Joe’s , Nature’s Promise, Perdue, Smithfield, Organic Prairie, Carolina, Pilgrim’s Pride, Applegate, Private Selection, O Organics, Cooper Farms.

As fate would have it, every one of these turkeys ended up being defective. They all burned.  They all filled my kitchen with smoke. Sad. Very sad. I thought maybe you just can’t get a decent turkey nowadays.

But then I thought. Wait. Maybe it’s the oven. So, I bought a new oven. Nope. Same problem. No matter what turkey I tried or oven I tried the end product was the same. I know that if only I had the right turkey and right oven my theory would be proven. It is just a matter of time. No amount of evidence can dissuade me from my theory.

Which brings us to the latest Tax Plan.

In 1980 Ronald Reagan had a great theory. A SPLENDID theory. Increase spending on the military. Give money to the rich by lowering taxes and they will create jobs. The economy will BOOM and unemployment will disapper. So, he put the theory into practice.  George H W Bush called it “voodoo economics” and said it would not work. By 1982 the US economy had experienced a recession and unemployment had RISEN to 10.8%. The GDP declined 2.7%. Opposite of the growth expected. Still, despite the evidence, it was a good theory.

In 1990 there was another smaller recession. This time George HW Bush was president. He had run on the slogan of “No New Taxes”. A great theory. Unfortunately circumstances beyond his control led him to abandon that theory and call for “revenue increases” to stabilize spending.  But he still had a good theory.

In 2001 George Bush had a theory. If we cut taxes on the wealthy they will invest in US jobs. GREAT! Wonderful theory. So, Congress cut corporate and individual taxes to stimulate the economy.  And he theorized that we needed to de-regulate big business. Too many restrictions were just strangling these major corporate and financial institutions. So, de-regulate we did. Excellent theory. Of course, it would take a few years for the effects to be felt. But the theory was sound.

And the effects were the biggest recession since 1945. Growth tanked to a negative 5.1%. Unemployment rose to 10%. Big money investors with all that extra capital did not create jobs in the US. Deregulated financial institutions simply made bad loans with investors money and went bust. (Well, they didn’t go bust, they got bailed out. Another theory. Too big to fail… even when they do).

When President  Obama left office unemployment was about 4%. A relatively stable rate. And there were no Obama-era recessions.So, the economy is back on track and continues to chug along. No reason to tamper with it.

BUT, we need to follow theories, not evidence. So, Congress is proposing the biggest tax breaks ever while proposing a massive increase in military spending . In 2015 the USA spent more on the military ($ 597,000,000,000 that’s billion) than the next 10 nations combined. The US spent more than the total spent by China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, UK, India, France, Germany, Japan, S Korea and Brazil…COMBINED). This is not to suggest the US does not need a strong military, but this seems a bit excessive. Spend more, take in less. Voodoo economics, anyone?

So, once again we are following a theory that has been shown to have no evidence supporting it, IF the goal is a stable , fair economic system. But the theory sounds pretty good.

For my part, I continued to use my theory to cook my Thanksgiving turkey. Despite the naysayers. OK, so it got burned again this year. No turkey for Thanksgiving. On the positive side, my wife has made a standing reservation for Thanksgiving at Hop Sing’s Chinese Restaurant.  She is  no theoretician. And I am developing a taste for Mu Shu Pork.

http://www.butterball.com/how-tos/roast-a-turkey

https://www.ranker.com/list/best-turkey-brands/ranker-shopping

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_recessions_in_the_United_States

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Read_my_lips:_no_new_taxes

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures

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Senator Gillibrand and The Death of Due Process

Roy Moore may or may not be elected to the US Senate tomorrow. He has been accused by multiple women of icky behavior. Of cruising malls looking for girls. Of dating teens. Whether or not this enough reason for the good people of Alabama  to reject him remains to be seen.

Moore’s defenders have, rightly, pointed out that he has never been convicted of violating any woman or girl. I saw an interview (which I personally found disturbing) of Moore supporters in Alabama. A number of them saw nothing wrong with him trying to date a 14 year old girl. One guy pointed out that his grandmother was 13 when she got married and had 2 kids by the time she was 15. Others pointed out that things were different in the past  (they were, but this is the present) and many Alabama moms would have been happy to have their 14 or 16 year old daughter dating an assistant DA. Others were certain that the accusers had been paid by George Soros.  Moore denies all claims and says they are all liars. So be it.

Al Franken posed for a prank picture of him groping a sleeping Leeann Tweeden. When on a USO tour with this sports commentator and former top Hooters girl. The fact that she was a playboy model does not diminish any sexual assault, nor does the fact that she works for FOX. Just sayin’ . Other women have also come out and claimed that Franken touched them inappropriately. His supporters point out that he has not been charged with anything and while he denies many of the complaints he has apologized for others. He has asked for an Ethics Committee hearing. But that was not enough, so Franken, under pressure from Democratic congresswomen  and congressmen, has resigned.

A Republican from Arizona wanted to pay millions to one of his female staff members to be a “surrogate” mother since he and his wife cannot have kids. Doesn’t sound so bad until you learn that his “religion” forbids artificial insemination.  Had to do it the regular way. I see. He resigns.

Old John Conyers, Democrat of Michigan, accused by staffers of inappropriate touching, resigns. Like it matters. The guy was old, even for Congress. If he did touch someone he couldn’t remember five minutes later. But that is another topic. He’s gone.

https://josephurban.wordpress.com/2015/01/07/80-is-the-new-36/

Another Congressman owes me $84,000 as far as I am concerned. Farenthold  (Texas Republican) had the Congressional Sex Slush Fund pay $ 84,000 in hush money to a woman he assaulted. I want my money back. Oh, wait, he promises to pay it back. We shall see.  My question: Why is there a Congressional Sex Slush Fund to begin with?

http://time.com/5048265/blake-farenthold-sexual-harassment-settlement/

Which brings me around to one of my New York senators, Gillibrand . Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed to the Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton by then-Governor Patterson, who had  admitted to numerous extramarital affairs. This did not bother Kirsten at the time. Nor did the money and support funneled to her by the Clintons bother her. Nor does it bother me. She won an election on her own, well, maybe with a little Clinton help. Gillibrand started out as a “Blue Dog” Democrat (conservative) but has “evolved” over the years to become a leading liberal in the Senate. Evolution is a wonderful thing. I confess I voted for her in the last election.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirsten_Gillibrand

Recently Senator Gillibrand was at the forefront of the movement by Democratic congresswomen to oust Al Franken. She called for his resignation and got it. She has also condemned former president Clinton for his dalliances and said he should have resigned from office. For having an affair. (Did I mention she took money and support from the Clintons to help her get elected?)

Now, since Gillibrand is my senator I was concerned with her motives. So, I just called her  Washington DC office and asked a couple questions.

First, I asked why she has not called for President Trump to resign. After all, compared to the allegations against Mr Trump , Al Franken is an altar boy. If Franken’s unproven behavior merited a resignation, why not Trump’s much worse unproven behavior?

The response from her representative  was that Gillibrand has spoken out about Mr Trump. No reason given as to why she has not called for his resignation.

My second question was based on the 2014 claims by Gillibrand that she was sexually harrassed while in the Congress by other Congressmen. She talks about 3 or 4 specific cases, yet refuses to name her harrassers. The answer given to me was that Gillibrand HAS named her harrassers but I can find no evidence of that on any website.  At the time Gillibrand was challenged to name her harrassers but she refused, using this logic:

“So why didn’t she call out the men who wronged her by name? “Because then our conversation would be about the idiocy of any one individual male,” Gillibrand said. “And I don’t want to talk about that. I want to talk about the broader problems that are far more relevant.” For a woman who’s trying to carve out her position as a leader for women, it’s not a bad conversation to own.”

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/09/kirsten-gillibrand-explains-why-she-didnt-name-her-harassers/439767/

So, now Kristen has decided that the “idiocy of any one individual male”, namely Al Franken, is good enough for her. So, the “broader problem” is more important than “due process”? The end justifies the means? We keep silent about sex harrassers for the greater good?

Gillibrand is a lawyer by trade. She is a very smart person. She understands the Constitution. She understands “due process” and what that should mean. She has been in the forefront to deny that “due process” to one man, Al Franken, while protecting the identity of other sexual harrassers. Even though she claims personal knowledge of sexual harrassment in Congress by other Congressmen she refuses to “name names”, thereby aiding and abetting those who would prey on women not as psychologically strong or powerful as she. Silence is what sexual predators thrive on. And Gillibrand has been silent allowing predators to go unpunished.

Why has she been silent about some and why so aggressive at this time towards Franken? My only conclusion is that Gillibrand has seen a bandwagon and has decided to jump onto the driver’s seat. The bandwagon is a dangerous one. It says anyone accused is guilty. Case closed. No hearings. No trial. It also says that we must always believe any woman who makes a claim. Sorry, I just will not accept that.

Kirsten is not done. She wants to climb higher. She has her eyes on the Democratic nomination for president and is using the current scandals, quite selectively I might add, to propel herself into the national spotlight. How is she any different than any Fox-sponsored politician who tries to use selective evidence for political advantage? To throw red meat to a specific audience? She has shown herself to be a typical member of the elite ruling class…. say anything for political gain. I think there is a term for that: opportunistic.

To think I helped put her in office. Sad. Very sad.

https://www.playboy.com/leeann-tweeden

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/does-gillibrand-have-a-responsibility-to-name-her-harassers

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/16/full-text-al-franken-apologizes-for-allegedly-groping-woman-244978

 

 

 

 

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Booze and Women

Regarding the new GOP tax plan which shuffles billions of dollars from working Americans to the top one-half of one per cent.

“I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing,” Grassley told the Register. “As opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”

I am not sure if this is true so I interviewed 2 people. One is a billionaire heiress to a real estate fortune who shall remain anonymous. I shall call her Ivania. The other is a shmuck who worked in factories, sweat shops and as a teacher for over 30 years. I will call him Joe the Shmuck.

Me: Hello, Ivania. Congratulations on receiving a massive inheritance allowance and other tax breaks in the new tax bill.

Ivania: Thank you. No one deserves it more than me.

Me: So, how many jobs do you intend to create with this new found wealth ? Do you feel that you that have earned this windfall?

Ivania: Oh, yes. I have had to work very hard being born into just the right family. It is not easy being wealthy. For example, do we cater in Lobster Newberg or Filet Mignon tonight? Do we open the bottle of “Moet and Chandon Dom Perignon” or the “Boerl and Kroff Brut Rose” ? Would you have any idea which to serve? Commoners just don’t understand the intense pressure I am under.

Me: I see. Back to my question. What do you intend to do with this multi-million dollar windfall? Will you invest it in new jobs in America?

Ivania: Of course. My investment advisor has already begun adding to my investments. I have created thousands of jobs already in my tote bag and high heel shoe factories.

Me: But aren’t those factories in China? And Vietnam?

Ivania: Well, yes. But there is a trickle down effect. Eventually, as we create jobs in China and depress wages in the US, we will be able to bring back jobs to this nation I love so dearly. American commoners must be able to compete with the wages we pay in China. We hope to someday get those wages on par with each other. Right now it is those unions that prevent us from creating more good jobs in the nation I love.

Me: OK. So, you won’t be investing in the USA, is that the bottom line.

Ivania: (chuckling)  I got mine. That is the bottom line. Did I mention how much I love America?

So, after this rather unsatisfying interview I found Joe the Shmuck, retired factory worker and teacher.

Me: Hello, Joe the Shmuck. Can I call you Joe?

Joe the Shmuck: I have spent my entire adult life working for a living and paying my taxes. You can call me Shmuck.

Me: OK, Shmuck. Senator Grassley has made the comment that people like you will just take any tax break and spend it on women and booze. What is your response?

Shmuck: DUH. Of course we will. He is correct.

Me: WOW! So you admit that you will spend any tax breaks on women and booze? Really?

Shmuck: I have in the past, why change now? What choice do I have?

Me: Explain to me then why you should get a tax break if you will just spend it on women and booze?

Shmuck: Look, I worked two jobs most of my life. At least 8 hours a day. Some days 12 hours or more. I have worked in factories, day labor, teaching and coaching and advising students. All for pretty meager wages. So, what do you think? I am not going to come home and have a beer? Of course I spend my money on booze. Wouldn’t you?

Me: Well, ok. but what about spending all your money on women?

Shmuck: I have a wonderful wife and a wonderful daughter. Unfortunately they are money pits. I mean, who needs more than 2 pair of underwear? Women, that’s who. Who needs to get their hair done? Women, that’s who. Not to mention quality food, clothes and  thousands of other items the uses of which completely escape me.

Let’s talk about dental bills and braces, shall we? And schools class trips? And second cars? And dogs and all those expenses? And Xmas gifts? And tuition and fees?

Me: I am not sure that was what Grassley was referring to…

Shmuck: Well, anyone who has a wife and daughter (or husband and son for that mattter) knows what I am talking about. So Grassley is right. All I will do with any tax break is invest in goods and services right here in the US…wait…does that make me an investor?

Me: Sorry. Investors only invest in China. You worked . You supported your family. You drink beer. You are what we call…uh… shmuck.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/12/04/grassley-explains-why-people-dont-invest-booze-or-women-or-

https://financesonline.com/top-10-most-expensive-champagne-bottles-in-the-world/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/stuartanderson/2015/08/17/trump-the-hypocrite-investing-overseas-fine-for-him/#4d5a62aa1dc8

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Sex Harrassment Training

“The Senate unanimously approved legislation late Thursday that institutes mandatory sexual harassment training for senators and aides — a potentially meaningful shift amid calls for overhauling Capitol Hill’s system for handling harassment complaints.”

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/09/congress-sexual-harassment-training-senators-aides-244762

I was able to acquire an actual audiotape of the first meeting of the sexual harrassment training for Congress. I have changed the names to protect my congressman.

From the audiotape:

Anonymous Congressman: Hey, babe, is this the place for the sex training?

9 year old girl: Hi Mister, yes, this is the place for your training.

AC: So, who is running this show?

9YO: I am . I was asked by my mommy to talk to you all today.

AC: Aren’t you a little young to teach us how to harrass women?

9YO: No, Mister. I am here to help you learn how to be good.

AC: Oh, oops. I misunderstood. The email  said “sexual harrassment training”. I thought someone would teach me how to  harrass my female  employees and not get caught.

9YO: No, Mister. I am supposed to help you understand that sex stuff is wrong.

AC: Ouch. Boy am I embarrassed. So, what do I need to know?

9YO: Well, you should be nice to people.

AC: But what if I really want to touch a woman. You know, I really want to. I can hardly control myself. And I am the boss.

9YO: You should not touch anyone who doesn’t want to be touched. It’s not nice.

AC: OK. I never knew that ! Wow! So, if I am the boss I should not just like kiss her or grab her by her..uh.. private parts. You know, like President Trump.

9YO: No, that is wrong. That is being a bad man. You should never touch anyone who does not want to be touched.

AC: So, it would be wrong to just grab a woman? Really? I never knew that. What if I say sexy stuff to her? Like Clarence Thomas.

9YO: No. That is bad. You should not say sexy words to someone  in the workplace. You should never say things to make them afraid or sad. That is bad.

AC: Wow. I never knew that. So I should not make commensts to women about having sex with me or force a women to have sex on my desk. Like Matt Lauer.

9YO: NO! That is called rape. That is a bad thing. Do not do that. That is very naughty. Don’t you understand?

AC: What if I “accidently” grab a female on her butt? I mean, what if it is an accident? Like Al Franken?

9YO: NO! You are making me mad ! No. No. No. That is wrong. Don’t touch.

AC: Well, I am trying. But I never knew that was wrong. I am learning so much today that I never knew! Let me see if I understand. I should not touch women or girls  if they don’t want to be touched. I should not say sexy things to women in the workplace. I should not rape women, even if they are working for me?

9YO: Yes. Now you understand. That is called sex harrassment. That is wrong. I learned in Kindergarten that you should not touch others. Didn’t you ever go to Kindergarten? My teacher said to never touch others who do not want to be touched.

AC: OK. I get it. Thank you for this training. I never knew that it was wrong to touch or kiss or rape a woman. This training has really opened my mind.

(The 9 year old leaves the room but the tape is still running.)

AC: (talking to an aide). That girl was really HOT, wasn’t she? I was going to invite her to have dinner with me tonight at Hooters. Think that would be wrong?

End of tape.

Personal aside: The people who we elect to make our laws need to be TRAINED not to sexually harrass other human beings. Please read the previous sentence again. Then try not to cry.

 

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Fitness for High Office

One of the most laughable statements  by politicians in modern times was made by Mitch McConnell recently. He was talking about Roy Moore, the GOP candidate for the Senate.

“He’s obviously not fit to be in the United States Senate,” Mr. McConnell told reporters on Tuesday.        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/14/us/politics/sex-scandals-mitch-mcconnell.html?src=twr&_r=0

Let me say this about Roy Moore. He is, in my opinion, a pedophile. He is a slug. He sees himself as an Old Testament patriarch whose gender and age allows him to do anything he wants to anyone he wants. At the same time, the people of Alabama have the right to send to the Senate anyone they want.

If the people of Alabama want an accused pedophile and a moron to represent them, so be it.  If he committed a crime in Alabama that is for Alabama to determine. Look at the man who he is trying to replace. Jeff Sessions. A man who actively prosecuted black citizens for registering other black citizens to vote. The “high standards” of the Senate dd not see a problem with that. The Senateand House have been seating bigots and racists for over a century and it seems not to violate any ethical standards.

How many of these giants of the Senate have voted over and over to take away heath care for the working poor? How many times have they voted to end the ACA? How many times have these morally superior men noto voted t raise the minimum wage for those “working Americans” they love to talk about. How many of these fine gentlemen have voted to give massive breaks to the wealthy and screw the poor? How many of these fine representatives have supported voter suppression laws?

I would suggest that there is NO ONE who is morally repugnant enough to be excluded from the Senate or the House . And the record supports me.

I could care less if a senator wants to bang a dog. In some states that may be a requirement. Who knows?

That said, let’s look at a number of these sexual accusations and how they played out over the years.

Dwight Eisenhower and John F Kennedy both had affairs . The press never reported them although they were gossiped about  and well-known. But affairs are consensual sexual relations. Which are in a different category than sex crimes. (Although when JFK and Ike were alive adultery was a crime in most states, and is still a crime in 21 states. Should they have been impeached?)  http://www.freep.com/story/life/family/2014/04/17/in-which-states-is-cheating-on-your-spouse-illegal/28936155/

Did Moore commit sex crimes? Seems so. He was in his thirties and went after very young girls. Pedophilia?  His supporters seem to use the Bible as some justification for his proclivities. I think the guy is just sick and needs treatment. He seems to have  along history of this kind of behavior.

Al Franken has just been “outed” as an abuser as well. He forced himself on a woman and kissed her against her will. He took a fraternity-style photo of himself pretending to grope her while she slept. Is this sexual assault? Was this a one time thing ? A jackass trying to be funny? Franken apologized and said he was ashamed. Will other women come forward? If the people of Minnesota want a former comedian who has apologized for his actions to represent them, so be it.

Bill Clinton had consensual sex with Monica Lewinsky in the White House. She was 22 years old. Is a 22-year-old woman an adult who can make those decisions about who to have sex with or not? Is it crass and icky for an old man to use his position of power and have sex with someone who technically works for him (although in a non paid position). Is it illegal or just smelly? Does it make him unworthy to hold the office of president?

Then we come to the Abuser-in-Chief himself. A man who has bragged repeatedly about sexually abusing women. He has said he forced himself on women. Kissed them when he wanted. Grabbed them by the pussy. He has been found guilty of discrimination in housing  against black renters. He has been found guilty of ripping off young people at his phony Trump University and forced to pay $ 25,000,000 in damages. And he has been accused by multiple women and girls of sexual misconduct, including forcible kissing and groping.

How can Mitch McConnell or anyone member of the government DARE claim that Judge Moore or Al Franken or Bojo the One-Eyed Pedophile is not fit for government “service”.The American people have spoken. Well, at least 60,000,000 have spoken.

They spoke in November of 2016 and said unequivocally that ANY PERSON, no matter how low their moral compass is suited to participate at the highest levels of government. No matter what kind of sluggish behavior a human being can engage in, it was evidently not sluggish enough to prevent 60,000,000 from voting for him.

The Congress is not the synod of bishops or the college of cardinals of the Catholic Church. It is not a moral or religious organization. It is a bunch of men and some women who want to tell the rest of us what to do. They want to make laws. They are fallible human beings who should not be held to any standard other than how they vote on issues.

I do not support sex abuse in any form, but let’s be real. The  “standards” of government behavior hardly eleimnate anyone from serving in Congress.

(Please excuse editing errors. For some reason I cannot control my editor today!)

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Condolences to Ray and Elfreda

The election for GOP candidate for the next senator representing the good people of Alabama is this Tuesday. Mr Trump was in Bama campaigning, kind of, for Luther Strange. His opponent is Judge Roy Moore. Whomever wins this primary election is pretty much assured of beating anyone the Dems put up in the special election to fill Jess Sessions seat. I mean the last time Alabama elected a Democrat as senator (Richard Shelby) he immediately switched parties and became a Republican.

So this election is, in effect, the election for the Senate seat.

A little research shows us that Luther Strange is, well, strange. He supports Donald Trump all the way.  He wants to kill trade deals, cut off funding for family planning at Planned Parenthood and of course, “Drain the Swamp” (but that is a different essay).

Luther, as Alabama attorney general, fought to allow Hobby Lobby to keep women from accessing basic medical care, like family planning services. He also supported Exxon’s refusal to reveal the climate change research it had done. As the replacement Senator for Jeff Sessions he has voted to take away health care for 40,000,000 Americans and to gut Medicaid  (which is the primary health insurance for over 1,000,000 Alabamians, mostly children). And Luther is the SANE candidate!

Judge Roy Moore, former Australian cowboy and kickboxing champion, has his own set of abominations. He was the judge who insisted, contrary to the US Constitution, that the 10 Commandments be placed outside his courtroom. (On a side note, the good judge has a personal set of 10 Commandments he carved himself… maybe he thinks he carved the originals as well). When he lost the court case and was told to remove the 2 ton granite boulders , he refused. He put himself above the law and was removed from the bench. Then Alabamians immediately elected him to the state Supreme Court.

He wants to give public money to Christian schools. ( I guess the Alabama public school systems are glutted with cash). He has condemned homosexuals from the bench. He condemns the idea of universal health care. He condemns trade. He condemns immigration, especially from our “northern border”.  (We don’t need no Canucks!) He condemns…well… just fill in the blank with any concept designed to give folks equal rights or make their lives better. You get the picture.

So, what does this have to do with Ray and Elfreda? I went to college with Ray and Elfreda (not their real names) back in the early 1970s.  (OK, Ray and Elfreda ARE their real names. I mean, who could make up a name like Elfreda?). They both live in Alabama.

Now, you could take any rusted pickup truck with a tail light out, stars and bars decals and gun rack (in other words, ANY vehicle in Alabama) and run over 2,000,000 Alabamians. And you would not hit anyone nicer than Ray or Elfreda. I mean, these folks left the relative sanity of the north and gave their professional lives to educating the kids of the Yellowhammer State. They migrated south of the Mason-Dixon Line to help kids in a state whose leaders couldn’t choose between 2 official fish,  so named them both: the tarpon and large mouth bass.

So I send Ray and Elfreda my condolences. Luther Strange or Judge Roy Moore is going to be “representing ” them for the next 6 years. A choice between an idiot and a bigger idiot. Heads I lose, tails I lose.  Perhaps there will be a tie and BOTH candidates can go to Washington.

“Introducing the distinguished senators fro the great state of Alabama: Moore Strange.”

Ray and Elfreda, I feel your pain.

(Actually I DO feel your pain. My “representative in Congress is an avid Trump supporter and all around con artist named Tom Reed, NY -29.)

 

http://www.lutherstrange.com/on_the_issues

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luther_Strange

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Moore

https://www.roymoore.org/Positions/

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A Deal at Any Price

Tom Price, the Health and Human Services Secretary, has been criticized for flying on charter jets. He spent about $ 60,000 of HHS money on 5 flights in just one weekend.  The one that has gotten the most publicity was his round trip flight from DC to Philly and back. For $25,000. That is about 150 miles each way or 3 hours by car.

Now, this is the same Tom Price who had the best luck in the world when he was on the Senate committee responsible for Health issues. Just by chance, his broker bought him a ton of stocks in a company called Zimmer Biomet. This happened just two weeks after Tom introduced a bill called the HIP act.

Now for those of you with all your appendages intact that may not mean much. But the HIP Act (which should have been called the SLIP Act) deregulated the the hip and knee joint replacement industry. I mean, really, should an artificial limb replacement need regulations? I guess they are warranted for the life (good luck) of the owner!

Well, it so happens that Zimmer Biomet  is a supplier of….(drum roll)… hip and knee joint replacements. Like I said, when it comes to investments Tom is one lucky guy.

(To be fair, the HIP Act was so bad that even the GOP Congress has not yet taken it up).

But, back to charter flights. This must be a different Tom Price than the Georgia Senator who castigated the Democrats for proposing buying 8 passenger planes. Wasteful. That Tom Price said the US government should not buy any. Zero. Government employees should be flying on commercial flights. Tighten those belts you spendthrifts.

Senator Tom Price meet HHS Secretary Tom Price.

So, some perspective. Perhaps it is worth it to keep Tom flying hither and yon. Keep him out of DC where he can only do more damage. Perhaps his broker has recently bought some stock in the charter plane industry. Gee. I wonder if he wants to deregulate safety inspections on charter planes. It would streamline the industry.

A final note: Tom landed and spent the day in Pennsylvania. Minimum wage in Pennsylvania is $ 7.25 per hour. A full time worker in PA who decided to treat Tom to this round trip airfare would have to work 86 weeks to earn that much. Before taxes.

If he or she started working now and took no vacations they could pay off Tom’s airfare bill by the end of May, 2019. Unless he or she got sick. Because Tom doesn’t believe in the working poor getting coverage under Obamacare. Too costly!

 

 

 

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/20/hhs-sec-tom-price-once-slammed-congress-private-jets.html

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/tom-price-healthcare-stock-conflicts-233823

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полезные дураки, (polezniye duraki)

The meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump was a private affair. No cameras. No notes. Two different accounts about what actually happened.

However, while the meeting was in progress, Mr. Trump inadvertently sat on his phone and called my number. So, I was able to record part of the exchange. This is an honest, factual account. Believe me.

Donald: Welcome Mr Putin. It is an honor. A great honor. A fantastic honor for me to meet you. Amazing honor.

Vlad: Stand up. Stand up, please. No need to kneel. It is also a very interesting thing for me to meet you, as well.

Donald: First off, let’s get this election stuff out of the way. You know my fake press is making up stories about you. Awful. Terrible stories. You would never tamper with an election, would you Mr. Putin.

Vlad: Oh, please my good friend. Call me Vlad. Of course not. I never tamper. Never. Fake news, as you say in your very smart twitter writings. Fake news.

Donald: I knew it. I mean you helped me put on a fantastic Miss Universe Pageant. Remember . Best pageant ever. Great looking girls. Young ones. Fantastic ratings. And no one talks about it. CNN , they never mention it. Why are they ignoring it? Fantastic pageant. Amazing.

Vlad: I know. I know. I have the tapes still in the Kremlin. We look every day . We watch you help the girls undress backstage. We have the tapes. Also, of the hotel we have the tapes. Understand?

Donald: This fake news about the election is all Comey’s fault. Nutcase. Fired him. Now I have that other nutcase Mueller to deal with. The elections are a big problem. Do you have that problem with the fake news and elections, Vlad?

Vlad: No , Donnie. We have no problem with elections. It is easy. You just let the people vote . Vote for whoever . Just vote. They vote in Moscow. They vote in Siberia. They vote in Crimea. You know we own Crimea now. Then they send all the ballots to the Kremlin. No problem. We count all the ballots in the Kremlin. Every one. Then there is no mistake to be made. All the ballots are good. A good result. I won again.

Donald: It’s all about security. Good security. Best security. We need a plan for having the best security ever. Best in history. I wanted all the voter’s info in my office. In the White House. All the names. All the Social Security numbers. What party they support. Centralize it. In the White House. Make it easier next time to find those illegal voters. Millions of them.

Vlad: Now , Donnie, let me give you an idea. Maybe you like it, maybe not. Did I tell you we have the tapes of the hotel during the Miss Universe pageant? Oh, good. Now, my idea. We cooperate. We share our voter technology. We do this to prevent any hanky panky in next election, no? Me, personally, I know nothing about computers. I turn on. It works. I surf the net.  We , in Russia , know nothing of what you call it… uh..hacking.

Donald: Me , neither, Vlad. I watch the TV . Great shows. Ever see The Apprentice? Used to be great, now, not so much. Best show ever. I just watch reruns. Got a Tivo? They ruined it. Ruined it. Sad. Very sad.

Vlad: Donnie, focus. focus. We work together, Russians and Americanskys, eh. You give us your classified voter programs, we give you ours. Together we keep them safe. We figure them out together. No more hacking. No more fake news, eh?

Donald: Sounds fantastic ,Vlad. Best system . Cooperation. We need more cooperation with the Russians. I am the president, you know. I can send you any classified information you need. It’s legal. I can do it. Don’t need Congress. Let’s do it.

Vlad: OK. That is good thing we agree on. So, I must go now and talk to spies…er..ambassadors and tell them good news. I give you highest honor of Russian state. The best name ever. I give you name that all Russian people understand , OK.

Donald: Very good meeting Vlad. I accept the honor. Great honor. Best honor ever. Good bye my friend.

Vlad: And good bye to you. I pronounce you the best honor in Russia. I name you the  greatest friend of Russia. You are the biggest полезные дураки, ( polezniye duraki) I have ever known.

End of tape…..

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Useful_idiot

 

 

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The Great Health Insurance Lie

The ongoing debate about about health care continues. Is the ACA better than Trumpcare? Is Trumpcare better because it includes more free market choices? Is Obamacare better because it covers 24,000,000 more people? What about the deficit.

And so forth.

But there is one fact, one truth, one absolute “know” that all sides of the debate seem to accept at face value. If you can disabuse yourself of this “truth” the health care issue can be solved.  There is one “given” that no one  from Sanders to Clinton to Trump to Cruz or any of their associates seems to challenge. That given is the following fallacy

Companies provide health insurance to employees. The government supplies health insurance to employees. Health insurance costs “job creators” billions of dollars a year.

False. Absolutely false.

There is not now, never has been and never will be any company or school district or government that provides health insurance to the employee.  Every employee from the highest to the lowest paid. In every industry. In every business. In every time period. Every employee has always paid and will always pay their own health insurance costs. Period.

Health insurance costs are not taken out of profits. They are not taken out of investors’ dividends. They are taken out of the employee’s salary. Every time.

Anyone who has ever been involved in negotiating contracts should understand this. As should anyone who has an understanding of basic economic theory. Every employer , whether public or private, has  an amount  of money that it sets aside for the “cost of labor”. Part of that “cost of labor” is benefits. One of those costly benefits is health insurance.

Does anyone think, really, that health insurance is some “gift” from an employer? Really? Never. The cost of health insurance is simply deducted from the employee’s salary as part of the “cost of labor”. The employee takes a lower salary and pays for his own insurance.

Does anyone really think that a business negotiates  a contract and then, out of the goodness of its heart, just adds on health insurance? Really?

Once you understand that you, as an employee pay for your own insurance you realize how vile the CEOs of companies like Hobby Lobby truly are. Hobby Lobby employees pay for their own insurance, yet the Supreme Court has decreed that the CEO of Hobby Lobby can dictate the kind of coverage the employee has paid for. Ludicrous.

So, next time someone tells you that their employer is “providing health insurance” and so the employer should be able to dictate what coverage they can have. Set them straight. Tell them they pay for their own insurance. And will continue to do so. Even though their boss may dictate what kind of coverage they get.

Your employer “gives” you health insurance. The big fat heath insurance lie. And another reason why we should have a single payer option. After all, the workers are paying for health insurance, shouldn’t they decide what option they want?

 

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Lugenpresse…Testing the Waters

At a Trump campaign rally in Ohio two of the Trump supporters called out to the journalist filming that rally that he was “lugenpresse”.  A term used by the Nazis to condemn any newspaper or journalist that did not toe the party line . Especially newspapers owned by Jews. The epithet aimed at any newspaper that criticized the Nazi Party. Or failed to bow down to the Fuhrer. “Lying press”.

On Sunday Kellyanne Conway did her weekly news “alternative fact” show, this time in an interview with Chris Wallace.  While not using the term, she echoed the sentiments of the “lugenpresse” when she wondered aloud why many members of the press had not been fired.  Why? For their coverage of Donald Trump.

She wondered why these members of the press were not dismissed by their bosses. Why they continued to appear on talk shows and give their opinions. Why are they not being silenced?

One of the first things the Nazis did when they gained control of Germany was to intimidate and suppress the free press. I say “gained control” because the Nazis never won the popular vote in a free election. They were always a minority party. Hitler was able to get only 32% of the vote for president in the last free election in Germany, with massive support from the rural  areas.

Once the Nazis did gain power they were quick to use it to suppress any opposition. Key to that was the free press. Communist newspapers. Jewish-owned newspapers. Independent newspapers were quickly brought under the control of the new regime. By intimidation.

The “lugenpresse” were any newspapers or journalists who dared contradict the Nazi facts. The Nazi “alternative facts”. Control of the media was seen as crucial to ultimate control of the nation.The opposition, no  matter how slight, must be silenced. Real news must not be reported. Facts must not be reported. An “alternative ” reality must be established with Goebbels deciding what is acceptable. The idea that the press must be the mouthpiece of the government  was the goal. And , for the most part, it was.

Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon are testing the waters. Attacking the press. Calling for the removal of those who dare criticize. Calling for a ban on people of the Muslim faith based on an idea that Muslims are all terrorists and all alike. Mr Trump calling into question the actual photographic evidence of the crowd size at his inauguration.  An attempt to bully the leader of Mexico into paying for a wall that Trump wants to build.  The first “press conference” with Sean Spicer, Mr Trump’s spokesman, was an attack on the press. And the attack ended with Spicer walking off refusing to answer questions. The message was clear. We will control the press. We cannot allow any contradictions or criticisms.

An all out attack on the facts, evidence and common sense. An “alternative” reality compete with “alternative  facts”

They are testing the waters to see how far they can go. Can they bully the press into silence? Can they bully our neighbor into compliance? Can they bully the American people into subservience? Can they bully the GOP controlled Congress into silence?

I think not. (Well, maybe they CAN bully Congress). The USA in 2017 is not Germany in 1933. The US citizens in 2017 are not going to sit back while Muslims are treated harshly and Mexicans are stereotyped and the free press is under attack. And the press is not going to roll over to an alternative reality.

The Trump folks are testing the waters to see how far they can go. Those waters will get hot very quickly.

(Note: The most thorough set of books on the Nazi rise to power is the trilogy by Richard J Evans. The Coming of the Third Reich, The Third Reich in Power and The Third Reich at War)

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Trump’s Inaugural Address

Trump’s inaugural address was interesting. While some people believe that it lost something in the translation from the Cyrillic, I can’t say. Like most Americans, my foreign language abilities are pitiful.  Why should I learn a bunch of foreign languages when it is much easier for the other 6 billion folks on Earth to just learn English? But I digress.

While some found Trump’s speech to be hostile I am willing to approach it as Fox Entertainment, er, News would. I say ignore most of it and focus on what you agree with. Or better yet, twist it to express what you want it to express.

For example. From Trump’s speech:

“…At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction, that a nation exists to serve its citizens. Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves. These are just and reasonable demands of righteous people and a righteous public…”

Trump is taking the liberal position that it is the proper role of the government to serve the citizens! YES. A proper function of government. Serve the people. Chairman Mao could not have said it better.

The government must provide good schools for ALL. No. Not good. GREAT schools. Which means more funding for public schools to help make them great. Innovation.Higher wages to attract the BEST people to the profession. Donald knows that to get the BEST people you need to pay them well. Donald, I agree.

Safe neighborhoods. AMEN. Let’s increase police protection, especially in poor urban areas. Hire more cops. Hire more minority cops who can relate better to our highly segregated cities. Maybe return to police on the beat. Demand that police PROTECT people and not arrest them without  cause. And protect little boys who play with toy guns by not shooting them on sight. (As Trump also stated: This carnage stops right here and right now) Donald, I am with you!

The government must supply good jobs. YES. We have so much that needs to be done. An FDR style public works program is what we need. Build up the economy. Put people to work. Not next year. Not in five years.  But immediately with a massive public works program. I am  with you, Donald! Now, can you get the Congress to go along?

So far, Donald and I see eye to eye on these liberal solutions to the problems caused by 30 years of conservative Congress rule. AMEN.

More from Donald:

“….Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs….”

Finally. A POTUS who understands that low, non-union wages have driven down the middle class and created a class of working poor. He understands that a tax system that gives breaks to millionaires (some haven’t paid taxes in 20 years!)while adding to the tax burden of the working poor is wrong. He will  roll back the Reagan and Bush tax cuts for millionaires and multinational corporations that have robbed America of so much revenue. And transferred the tax burden to the working poor. He will go back to the days when unions were strong and working families could enjoy the good life. He will immediately implement a living wage ! Go, Donald, go! Support the workers! Workers of the World , Unite !

And he will punish companies that buy cheap Chinese steel that undercuts American made steel. Companies like Trump International  Hotel  in Las Vegas. A company that rejected steel from Ohio, Michigan,  Pennsylvania and Wisconsin mills in favor of cheaper Chinese steel. He will  punish the Trump Signature Clothing Collection.  Even though companies like Brooks Brothers use 85% American made clothing, the Trump Collection uses only Chinese fabric. Finally, we have a POTUS who will  stand up for the American worker and buy American made products.  (Sorry,  Walmart…you have to go…)!

One more section of the speech:

“…For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries, while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military. We’ve defended other nations’ borders while refusing to defend our own.

And spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay. We’ve made other countries rich, while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon….”

Go, Donald , go!  The US spends trillions and trillions of dollars overseas and almost NOTHING at home. Our military has been starved of resources. Time to turn it around.

For example, in the last year for which data is available the US spent 50 trillion dollars on foreign aid. No. Wait. That is 50 BILLION dollars on foreign aid. OK. So maybe we don’t spend trillions and trillions. Most of it goes to either humanitarian or economic aid.

According to a poll done by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Americans think that foreign aid consumes about 26% of the US budget. Amen. That is what Americans THINK. Except …well…the fact is that foreign aid consumes about 1 % of the total budget. ONE per cent.

So. Maybe foreign aid isn’t really draining the US economy after all. Maybe one percent is not a big drain.  But, Donald is right that we are starving our military. In 2015 military spending in the US was ONLY $600,000,000,000 (That’s $600 billion). That was about 54% of all discretionary spending. (Spending on education was about one-tenth of that.)

MASS STARVATION in the ranks! How can the US stay safe when the rest of the world is outspending us?  Oops. Well. Er. The total US spending on the military equaled the spending of the next 7 highest spending nations…combined….China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, United Kingdom, India, France and Japan. How do we expect our military to survive when we only outspend the next highest spender, China, by a ratio of almost 3:1?

OK. So maybe Donald fibbed a little on the last point. But you can’t expect him to fact check ever inaugural address!

So. Take heart. Donald is going to spend trillions on infrastructure. Return us to union wages. Make safe streets for black people. And he will send all those little black boys and girls   (without toy guns) to the best schools ever.

It’s all there. Just read between the lines.

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All Mouth, No Ears

I had someone who called himself “Joe Citizen” respond to my post about Hillary Clinton and why I am voting for her. Despite the fact that his post had some factual errors I found the most interesting part his final 3 sentences. They read:

“Reply or don’t reply. I don’t care. I’m not going to read it anyway.”

https://josephurban.wordpress.com/2016/07/27/i-wont-vote-for-a-woman-potus/

This got me to thinking about the very nature of political discourse over the last 8 years. Not limited to the extreme right wing, but certainly manifesting itself there with alarming regularity. The attitude is one succinctly noted by “Joe Citizen”. It boils down to this.

I will talk. But I will not listen. I will state untruths and errors, but I will not accept facts , evidence or data. Mouth open. Ears closed.

We see this in the multiple investigations of Hillary Clinton. Every one has come up empty. All 9 Benghazi committees (8 run solely by the GOP) found no evidence of wrongdoing. No matter. Ears Closed. Regarding Clinton’s use of emails, the FBI found no wrongdoing (carelessness, yes) and stated so on page 57 of the latest released report. Ears closed.

There are just some people who will not open their minds to evidence or facts. They will not let evidence interfere with their preconceived notions or stereotypes. Like the little boy in the back seat of the car cupping his hands over his ears and whining “I can’t hear you. I can’t hear you” to Mom and Dad.

Donald Trump implies that most or almost all Mexican immigrants are rapists and criminals.The fact is that there are approximately 74,000 inmates in prison who are not US citizens.(And not all of these would be Mexican illegals) There are an estimated 11,000,000 illegal Mexican immigrants. Do the math. There is no evidence  to back up Donald’s claims. No matter. Ears closed.

Donald Trump claims that most blacks live in dire poverty when the actual statistics show that 75% of African-Americans are above the poverty level  in income. Not a great statistic. But a major improvement since the 1970s, when the numbers were hovering around 50%. No matter. Ears closed.

The “Hate Hillary” advocates have been crying over and over and over that Clinton or Obama or both issued a “stand down” order and prevented the US military from saving lives in Benghazi. 9 committees have said that is blatantly false. 8 GOP run committees found no evidence of any “stand down” order. No matter. Ears closed.

And the examples could go on and on and on. Obama born in Kenya. Global warming a plot by Al Gore. Bill Clinton responsible for 9/11. Saddam had WMDs. Hillary Clinton on Death’s Door. Obama created ISIS. Blacks hate cops. Etc.

It is one thing to have honest differences of opinion. And to have differing interpretations of events and actions. It is quite another to refuse to consider evidence and facts. Too much of the rhetoric from what used to be the radical fringe and is now personified in the Trump campaign is just plain false. But those who hold those views refuse to consider any evidence to the contrary.Ears closed.

I imagine these same folks were among the those who shook their heads in disbelief as Columbus sailed westward to find the route to the Indies. They were sure he was going to sail off the edge of the Earth. Of course, the educated “elites”  knew  (as did the ancient Greeks) the the world was round and not flat. But that knowledge would not interfere with the preconceived notions of the uneducated. Ears closed.

There are two methods for analyzing data and coming to conclusions. You can have your preset notions and stereotypes in place. And search and search only for the bits and pieces that support your preconceived ideas. Take quotes out of context. Take a line here and a line there from a report. Or in some cases, like Trump’s claim that hundreds of Muslims in New Jersey were rejoicing at 9/11, just make stuff up. You can ignore any and all evidence that forces you to reconsider your world view. Ears closed.

Or. You can have a point of view and seek to find all relevant data. To see if it fits. And then change your point of view as new evidence dictates . In other words, you can use evidence to develop a point of view. That is the scientific approach. Analyze new information and see how it fits. Adjust. Ears open. Mind open.

So, “Joe Citizen” and folks with his point of view don’t need facts. They don’t need evidence. They don’t accept anything that might contradict their stereotypes and prejudices.  ” I am not going to read it anyway”. And there are a lot of them. Which is why Donald Trump is the nominee for the GOP.

He is the perfect example:All Mouth. No Ears.

 

 

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Where There’s Smoke…..

There is an old saying: Where there is smoke, there is fire.

And over the years we have seen the Republican Party stir up a whole lot of smoke when it comes to Hillary Clinton. I am not quite sure why the GOP has gone after Clinton for over 25 years. What are the roots?

Could it be the fact that she was one of the assistants on the committee that investigated the Watergate break in? She was on the staff of the committee that discovered the complicity of Richard Nixon with the cover up of the burglary. Which led to his eventual disgrace and resignation.

Or was it her demand for justice for small children. The whole “it takes a village to raise a child” mentality. The GOP was somehow offended by the idea that all of us should be responsible for all children. That children are not ours to “own” and dispose of as we wish. That in civilized society we have  responsibility to ALL kids, not just children of the elites.

Or was it her support for equal rights for women? Maybe the concept that all Americans should have rights was threatening to the GOP philosophy of patriarchy. After all, it was not until the post WW2 era that women in some states could even sign contracts without hubby’s approval. And her support for the radical idea that a woman should control her own body! Perhaps the GOP was upset with her for that?

At any rate, over the years the Republicans have been constantly investigating Hillary. With tax dollars. Your dollars. My dollars. The attempt to find some law she has broken has become an obsession. And with so many investigations many people are convinced that she must have done SOMETHING illegal. Not sure what. But, where there is smoke, there is fire..

There is plenty of SMOKE. To recap.

The Whitewater investigation by Ken Starr.  Determined to find illegal activity by the Clintons, both Bill and Hillary, in the land purchases in Arkansas. So they investigated. And investigated. Starr found nothing. And investigated. And investigated.Lots of smoke. No indictment for Hillary. No illegal activity. But lots of smoke.

Then, with the help of Linda Tripp, they finally got a young woman alone, without a lawyer present, in a Washington, DC apartment. And they got her, without a lawyer, to admit that she had oral sex with the president. That was it . That was the outcome of the Whitewater investigation. $80,000,000 in taxpayer money (That would be $ 115,000,000 in today’s dollars). Smoke. For their money..I mean, OUR money…  they got the most expensive blowjob in world history. Lots of smoke.

Then we have Vince Foster. A friend of the Clintons . Dead. Well, if he was a friend of Hillary and he dies there must be some connection ! Could not just be a suicide. Pretty suspicious that someone who knows Hillary Clinton happens to commit suicide. Smoke. She must have had him murdered. Smoke.  Why else would he be dead? Smoke. He had terrible secrets. We will never know them, because they are secrets. Smoke.  Although more than 40,000 Americans  commit suicide every year, he was the one who knew Hillary. Connection. Smoke.

Next stop on the smoke parade? The very high speaking fees. Why did she take so much money for speaking? Just because, when she left the White House, the Clintons had massive debts. Up to $12,000,000 in debt when they left the White House.  Debts from what? From legal fees defending those smoky accusations. Debts from defending themselves in the Whitewater affairs. The impeachment proceedings. Lot of debts. But for some reason, making a great deal of money is suspicious. Smoke. Did people want to hear her speak? Evidently. Otherwise why would they pay her to speak. Free enterprise? Nope. If someone else gets massive fees to speak, well, more power to him. But if Hillary commands massive speaking fees it must be related to some illegal activity.Smoke. Can’t put our finger on exactly it is, but it MUST BE something nefarious. Something fishy. More smoke.

Of course Benghazi is in a class by itself. Lots of smoke. Over many years. Mountains of smoke. Smoky Mountains of smoke. The first Benghazi investigation found no wrongdoing or criminal activity. But that can’t be right. So, the GOP have Benghazi 2. Smoke. Nothing. Benghazi 3. Smoke. Nothing illegal. Benghazi 4. Smoke. Benghazi 5. Nothing. Benghazi 6. Smoke. Benghazi 7. Nothing illegal. Benghazi 8. Smoke. But the GOP had to get to the bottom of this, so… Gowdy’s Benghazi 9. Smoke. Smoke. And nothing illegal. 800 pages of nothing illegal. BUT. With 9 investigations she MUST have done something. Otherwise why are they investigating? Smoke and more smoke. Benghazi 9 costs $30,000.000 in taxpayer funds. Money gone up  in smoke.

But, we got her now, boys ! Those emails. Those 30,000 emails the FBI scoured through. And the millions of email fragments they scoured through. Smoke. Or so the GOP FBI Director concluded. Hillary and her staff let about 20 POSSIBLE highly classified emails slip through. Smoke. Nothing illegal. Careless? Yes, a little bit. Illegal. No. Lots of smoke. Lots of tax dollars. Nothing but smoke.

So, now, the GOP want to investigate their own  GOP FBI Director. There MUST BE SOMETHING illegal. All  that smoke.

25 years of smoke. 25 years of innuendo. Investigation after investigation. All paid for by the taxpayer. Accusations. Never supported by the facts.  But all that SMOKE. So the average citizen says: Look,  where there is smoke, there is fire. She MUST have done something illegal. Right?

Where there is smoke there is fire. Sometimes. Or. Where there is smoke there is a smoke machine. Simulated smoke. They use them at concerts and movie sets. Looks like smoke. Seems like smoke. Simulates smoke. Acts like smoke. Cloudy like smoke. Must be smoke.

NOPE. Sometimes , where there is smoke…there is just a smoke machine. Manufactured to look like the real thing. An illusion. Set up and plugged in to fool people. Welcome to the Republican Party Smoke Machine. The 25 year old smoke machine. Spewing phony smoke. Spending millions of dollars on the illusion.

You can buy one for yourself. For less than 50 bucks. I think the GOP overpaid, don’t you?

 

 

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The Pursuit of Happiness

Happy Fourth of July.

We all know the words….”life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. From the Declaration of Independence. 240 years ago.

According to Tom Jefferson these are three of the inalienable rights all human beings possess. (He made a few exceptions in regards to “human beings” which we need not go into at time). In the Lincoln-Douglas debates Old Abe often referred to this phrase and included ALL men, even 0nes not recognized by Tom. A different time.

And anyone who listens to politicians today, especially those on the right side of the political spectrum, certainly recognize the call for “liberty”. Freedom ! Freedom ! Freedom from tyranny. Freedom from Obamacare. Freedom from big government. Ad nauseum.

So, we agree that all men should have life and liberty. Those rights are explicitly mentioned in the Declaration of Independence.

But that third one? The pursuit of happiness? Seems like our modern right wing scholar/politicians are ignoring that third  “inalienable right”. Nothing new there. After all, they ignore half of the 2nd Amendment…the part about “a well-regulated militia”.

The idea that people should be able to be “happy” seems foreign to them. People should be free. People should be rich. People should be able to raise their kids as they see fit. People should not have to pay taxes. People should fight terrorism. But happy?

Happiness is just not part of the right wing equation when it comes to rights. Jefferson and the other men who voted to leave the British empire did so , primarily, because they just weren’t happy. And, gol darn it, they thought every man had the right to pursue happiness. That may have been a more radical idea than the right to life or liberty, which most people readily accepted. Happiness was one of the big three. Important enough to mention in the seminal document in US history.

Watching the “Make Him Fail” haters and the “Make America White…er..Great” chanters you would think that happiness is the last thing on their minds. I would guess that if all the terrible “liberals” like myself disappeared tomorrow it would not make a bit of difference. If all the soft, commie-loving “libtards” suddenly became invisible, it would not change a thing.

These sour politicians with their sour view of life would find something else to be angry about. The very idea of people pursuing happiness seems to bother them. They want laws about everything , from conception to birth to the grave. While they claim to want freedom, they really want to make sure others do not pursue too much happiness. Wipe that smile off your face and salute the flag.

They want to punish women who have sex. They want to punish people who smoke dope. They want to punish hardworking (illegal) Mexicans who are trying to make a living. They want to punish gays for..well.. being gay. Happiness is not in their Declaration of Independence.

I wonder what Jefferson would make of these folks. After all, he did write that we have inalienable rights, and AMONG THEM are the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. So, he did acknowledge that those three were not the ONLY rights. He understood that we have many rights, some unwritten.

I suppose if he lived today he might consider the feelings  of the right wing politicians and add a fourth right. The right to be miserable. And I accept that people  have a right to be miserable. They have to right to emphasize the negative. To be nasty and insulting.

I just wish they would not exercise that right  on the rest of us.

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Keep America(ns) Safe

Keep America Safe.

Protect us from the  (fill in the blank)… Muslims…Mexicans…terrorists…refugees…Syrians…

But never fill in the blank with “Other Americans”.

We hear this from candidates all the time. America is a dangerous place…for some. But not from Muslim terrorists or jihadists. The biggest threat to human life comes from our  fellow citizens. With guns. All kinds of guns. Easily obtained.

Forget about the few “mass killings” At churches . Or schools. They are simply a spike in the graph. The every day, under reported killing of people in the USA is the biggest tragedy not covered by the media. Or candidates.

Keep America Safe.

For some reason keeping Americans safe from other Americans is a very low priority, especially for the two GOP candidates. I give you Matthew 7:3 ” Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye but ignore the log in your own?”. It is easier to point the finger at “the other” than admit to our own societal  and governmental failures.

Fact: On 9/11 a small group of  Muslim extremists, mostly from Saudi Arabia, flew planes into building that killed almost 3,000 Americans. The US government retaliated with a massive attack on Afghanistan and later Iraq. Americans wanted revenge and wanted to make sure that we would be safe. Keep America Safe became the mantra. Ever since then our legal institutions and domestic priorities  have taken second place to our military desires. Keep America Safe. 3,000 innocents killed.

Fact: Since 2002 over 200,000 American citizens have been murdered. (Not including suicides or accidents, which almost doubles the figures) Not by Muslim terrorists. Not by ISIS. Not by hordes of Mexicans or Guatemalans.  By fellow citizens. By other Americans with guns. 200,000 citizens murdered. . And this is not seen as a crisis worth talking about. By any of the candidates.

Fact: Since 2002 over 17,000,000 Americans have been victims of violent crimes. Murders, assaults, rapes. 17,000,000 Americans . That is  MORE THAN the entire population of Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Montana, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, Hawaii, Idaho, West Virginia and Nebraska COMBINED. 17,000,000. And not a peep from the candidates.

Source:  http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm

Not worth mentioning.

These Keep America Safe politicians don’t seem to equate America with Americans. To them “America” is simply a land mass with a border, not millions of people. A geographic entity. Uninhabited? Children living in inner cities? Not Americans. The homeless? Not Americans. Battered spouses? Not Americans.

Perhaps someday a moderator in one of the debates will ask these candidates why they outline no plans to keep “Americans” safe. Wouldn’t that be a good question to ask?

———————————–

Related information from the websites of the 4 major candidates. The 2 Democrats do touch on the issue of gun violence. The GOP candidates simply ignore it.

The Ted Cruz website (https://www.tedcruz.org/issues/) talks about defending our borders. and securing the borders. He wants to install a missile system on the borders of Russia and wage war on..well, just about everybody. (http://www.ontheissues.org/2016/Ted_Cruz_War_+_Peace.htm )

The Donald Trump website (https://www.donaldjtrump.com/positions ) talks about building a wall to keep out Mexicans.  And he wants 30,000 US troops to defeat ISIS. (http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/11/politics/donald-trump-30000-troops-isis/ )

Hillary Clinton is a little more nuanced in her views of keeping America safe. She wants a combination of military, economic and political actions.  War as a resort. But not the first resort. (https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/national-security/). And she has some specifics regarding  domestic gun violence. (https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/gun-violence-prevention/)

Bernie Sanders seems to agree with President Obama’s current policies on ISIS and terror, in general. ( http://feelthebern.org/bernie-sanders-on-isis/ )       Sanders stand on gun control is a little more complicated. He is for it, but does not go as far as Clinton. (http://feelthebern.org/bernie-sanders-on-gun-policy/ )

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