Monday, January 25, 2016

And So It Begins

Days away from the Iowa Caucus, Donald Trump has yet one more truth-is-definitely-stranger-than-fiction moment when he hands the microphone to Sarah "The Verbinator" Palin. 

Why would anyone with half a brain in their tuchus give that woman a microphone, much less a podium? Really? 

If you haven't listened to her hippy-hoppy rant, skip the video and read it. Really. Everyone in this country needs to actually read what she had to say. And then everyone gets to wonder why anyone in their right mind would let her talk out loud. 

But they do. There is a whole party of peeps who want to her what she has to say. They believe what she has to say. And they will vote accordingly. 

Some people think that voting does not make a difference. If that was truly the case, why do both parties work so hard to suppress voter turnout with gerry-mandering? It does matter. And if you think it doesn't, here's a textbook example why and how it does: Flint, Michigan. 

Here's the short course:
[Governor] Snyder appointed Ed Kurtz to be Flint’s second emergency manager and Kurtz selected Jerry Ambrose to be the city’s chief financial officer. Both men were tasked by the Republican governor’s administration with restructuring the city’s government to save money after it was in danger of becoming insolvent. One cost-saving measure considered was to quit buying municipal water from Detroit.

In a civil deposition not reported until now, Ambrose testified under oath that emergency manager Kurtz considered a proposal to use the Flint River, discussed the option with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and then rejected it.

In 2014, Ambrose was deposed in a civil lawsuit brought by retired Flint municipal workers against the state over severe cuts to their health care benefits. Attorney Alec Gibbs questioned Ambrose about the water decision (a year before Flint learned it was being poisoned).

“There was brief evaluation of whether the city would be better off to simply use the Flint River as its primary source of water over the long term,” Ambrose said. “That was determined not to be feasible.”
“Who determined it wasn’t feasible?” Gibbs asked.

“It was a collective decision of the emergency management team based on conversations with the MDEQ that indicated they would not be supportive of the use of the Flint River on a long-term basis as a primary source of water,” Ambrose answered.

“What was the reason they gave?” Gibbs asked.
“You’ll have to ask them,” Ambrose said.

How could the river that was rejected as Flint’s permanent water source in December 2012 suddenly become suitable for consumption a mere 16 months later?

And who actually made the disastrous choice to start using the previously rejected river as the city’s temporary water source?

Howard Croft, the former director of public works for Flint who resigned in November 2015, asserted more than four months ago in a videotaped interview with the ACLU of Michigan that the decision to use the dangerously corrosive river came directly from the Snyder administration. 
In the interview, Croft said that the decision to use the river was a financial one, with a review that “went up through the state.”

“All the way to the governor’s office?” the ACLU of Michigan asked him.

“All the way to the governor’s office,” Croft replied. 
01.24.16 8:00 PM - THE DAILY BEAST 
This was not an accident. This was a deliberate game of roulette. Governor Snyder and his appointees were playing Russian Roulette with the people of Flint. He was told the water was unsafe, but he permitted the switch-over. What was his motivation? Follow the money. The Flint River option was cheap. No way would this question ever be asked in Grosse Pointe. 

Tap water in a Flint hospital on Oct. 16, 2015.JOYCE ZHU / FLINTWATERSTUDY.ORG
The deeper we dig into this polluted and terrifying well, the clearer it becomes that the managers of Flint and the state of Michigan are not merely Republicans, they are anarchists. Their concept of small government is really not government, simply a hierarchy of feudal war lords appointed by despotic masters in an attempt to disregard the purpose of government....which is, at its most fundamental level, a system devised to protect the inhabitants of a given geographic area. The decisions made for Flint were despotic and knowingly destructive. At the same time, the Clown Cavalcade may be pretty vociferous about Daesh and carpet bombing Syria, but have you heard any of them talk about the murder of our own citizens by polluted water intentionally sent through the tap? Even into hospitals?

One might extend that same model to the Clown Cavalcade itself. They knowingly and willfully preach the destruction of social safety nets in favor of sink-or-swim survival tests. One must ask "who's next?" after the demise of the lower economic strata. When your worker bees are sick and unable to work for you, will you be able to manage without them? Where is the responsibility to the tax payer? After all, we do pay taxes with the expectation that we get something in return. 

The Flint River debacle is not an isolated incident. Porter Ranch in California. Fracking and the removal of waste water. This stuff is happening coast-to-coast, and We, the People, have a communal obligation to speak out against the destruction of our own nation. 

You get the government you deserve with every new election. If you vote for candidates who dismantle your public services, then you must be prepared not to have any. And that is a choice we all get to make. You can vote for a Trump or a Cruz and you will get their vision of American, complete with an entirely new poverty class. 

It's all very short-sighted. And the worst part is, the people who would be hurt the most by this evisceration of the social service system are the ones cheering on Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Fiorina, and the rest of the clowns. 

Makes you also wonder about the education system in this country. 

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Pay attention to the topics. That's a big hint for who cares about this country.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Fear in Terror's Clothing

I had a much different blog in mind for today, one about the Democratic debate and how I really appreciated the exchange of ideas, as well as the lack of the use of the word, “mess.” But then I read about Dafna Meir. And then, in the New York Times,  I read this:

             Palestinian Wounds Israeli Woman in West Bank, Military Says
A Palestinian stabbed and wounded an Israeli woman in a West Bank settlement on Monday, according to the Israeli military.The attack came the day after an Israeli woman was fatally stabbed at the entrance to her home in a settlement to the south. Searches continued for the assailant, who managed to flee after the assault on Sunday in the settlement of Otniel, south of Hebron.The assailant in the attack on Monday, which took place in the settlement of Tekoa, south of Jerusalem, was shot and wounded at the scene.
According to Israeli news reports, the assailant was a Palestinian boy, who was about 15 years old and who had entered the settlement through a hole in its perimeter fence.The focus on settlements signaled a possible shift in the recent surge of violence, during which Palestinians have attacked Israeli soldiers, police officers and civilians, usually using knives, cars and guns as weapons.Most of the previous attacks took place on the streets of Jerusalem, in cities around Israel, or along roads and at military checkpoints in the West Bank.
Dafna's Funeral /AFP-M.Kehana
Since Oct. 1, Palestinian assailants have killed more than 20 Israelis, an American student and a Palestinian bystander. More than 150 Palestinians have been killed during the same period, many of them after they attacked or tried to attack Jews and others during protests and clashes with the Israeli security forces.The attack on Monday occurred as the funeral was beginning in Jerusalem for Dafna Meir, 38, the woman who had been killed the day before. Ms. Meir, a hospital nurse, was a mother of six, including two foster children. At least three of her children were in the house at the time of the attack, but they were unharmed.

The victim on Monday, a pregnant woman around age 30, was stabbed in a clothing warehouse in Tekoa.
This line really got me: "...many of them after they attacked or tried to attack Jews and others during protests and clashes with the Israeli security forces."  Can someone explain this excuse to me...and to the families of people standing at bus stops who have been mowed down by terrorists?

I went back to look for the headlines for Dafna Meir’s murder, and found 2 in the Times:
Two young Israeli women were fatally stabbed by assailants unknown to them simply because they were Israeli. They were not the first to be murdered in such an act, and they will not be the last. The headlines don't say this, but these are acts of terror. 

Reem Riyashi -homicide bomber
The men who murdered them were Palestinian. They had been taught that to murder women is a pathway to heaven, an act of holiness. They believed that murdering a young mother and a pregnant woman was an okay thing to do. 

This line really got me

Who taught them that? Was it their own parents? Was it the teacher in the school? Was it the imam? Does it matter?

Well, actually, it does. Throughout Israel, Palestinians are walking up to street corners, into markets, into restaurants, onto beaches to randomly stab people who are doing nothing more sinister than breathing. Some die, some live. Some of the murderers die, others who are wounded receive the same superb medical care as the victims who survived. Despite the acts of terror, that is an act of humanity in the face of terror. 

Dafna Meir/ blog photo
Interestingly, Dafna Meir, the mother of 6 murdered in the doorway of her home while her children were there, was a nurse at Soroka Medical Centre in Beersheva; she was studying Arabic to improve her communication skills with her Arab speaking patients. Her death means there is one less skilled, Arabic speaking nurse who can treat and care for Israeli Arab and Palestinian patients. While the loss to her family is incalculable, the loss to her patients and future patients is equally staggering. 

Terror is not knowing if you will be safe when you open your front door. Terror is kissing your kids goodbye in the morning and really not being 100% sure you will see them in the evening. Terror is knowing that there are people walking the streets who believe that killing you is a good thing. And terror is knowing there are whole schools and playgroups devoted to teaching 4 year olds to be suicide bombers. 

Terror is not what the GOP Clown Cavalcade thinks it is. Trump is afraid of his own shadow, Christie is paranoid, Cruz is delusional, Rubio...well....he's just naive. These clowns think you deal with terror by carpet bombing another country. That wholesale destruction of a country far, far away will stop Daesh from coming here. So they dress up fear in terror's clothing. They tell us the only way to live is to cringe behind the closed door they want all America to be.  

Israelis open the front door. Israelis kiss their kids and send them to school before they go to the office. Israelis go to shopping malls and restaurants and bars and clubs. Israeli civilians rarely own guns; permits are almost impossible to get. What Israelis don't do is hide. If you hide, the terrorists win. 

Whether or not the Associated Press or the New York Times wish to acknowledge that terror is what's happening in Israel speaks volumes about their shared perspective. Those two news outlets are willing to call anybody and everybody a terrorist....unless they are white and taking over federal lands in the Pacific Northwest....or Palestinians committing murder in Israel. In reporting, headlines matter. 

The media has become the message. Whether it's an attack in Marseilles or in Otneil on the West Bank, not calling it terror implies that this is random thinking, not intentional attacks on an identifiable group. 

Draw your own conclusion. 

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Routinely, throw stuff out. You don't need it. 
It makes thinking about moving much less terrifying.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Truth, Justice, and the American Way of Not Thinking

I'd been  harboring hopes, I am almost ashamed to admit, that when one year turned into another and the first primaries were about to happen, the Clown Cavalcade would round up the wagon to begin talking sensibly. Not so, Kemosabe. In fact, the rhetoric has gotten worse. There is something so disheartening about that. 

So, let's go back to birther business: one might think turnabout would be fair play, but there are no Democrats holding up birth certificates in this one. No, Republicans are holding up Mama Cruz's birth certificate at the same time they point out that very same Mama Cruz was counted in the Canadian poll count. Now, if you even do the most basic homework, you know that the Canadian poll count is kinda like a census; it counts age-eligible potential voters, it does not mean you a) get to vote, b) give up your citizenship if you're a citizen of another country or even c) you get to be Prime Minister. No, it's just means you are a person of a certain age and therefore may be eligible to vote if you meet all the other criteria. For pity's sake, folks, the woman was born in Delaware, the first state admitted to the Union on December 7th, 1787...the FIRST STATE, people. Mama Cruz is definitely an American citizen. Her son, however, was born in a foreign country and happens to have had two citizenships, Canada and the US. 

Of course, that didn't stop Ted Cruz's fire'n'brimstone spewing pastor Dad from demanding Barack Obama "go back to Kenya" even though POTUS's mother Stanley Ann Dunham, POTUS's mother, was born in Wichita, Kansas...Kansas, admitted to the Union on January 29th, 1861 and her son was born in Hawaii, admitted to the Union on August 21, 1959 two full years before Barack Obama was born there. POTUS was born in an actual state, not a province, so if we're gonna have a "who's-more-a-citizen-of-these-here-United-States contest, someone has a definite leg up just cuz he was born here....and it ain't Señor Cruz. 

Does anyone know exactly what means, "natural born citizen?' Does that mean it was a vaginal birth as opposed to Caesarean section? Or birth without drugs? Or do they have something else in mind altogether? Like citizenship is automatically bestowed... because his mother was a citizen of these here United States even though he was born in another country????? Really people; make up your collective pea-sized minds!

And for a guy who claims he's the poster child for fiscal responsibility, Cruz keeps talking about carpet bombing Syria. He's threatening the entire region. And he's going to use our kids and our money to do it. Ask him how he's paying for this little misadventure. If you think the 2% are going to contribute, guess again. It's gonna come right outta the paychecks of the working classes. This is at the same time he's defunding the ACA without any offer of an alternative, leaving millions without access to health insurance. 

Not to be left out, the Donald has his own issues. According to the Huffington Post, Herr Trump has received the coveted endorsement of the American Freedom Party. If you are unfamiliar with their True American Platform, you might want to check them out. After all, they have dialed over 200,000 robo-calls in Iowa on Herr Trump's behalf. Listen to the call; this is the voice of the New America...according to supporters of the Donald. These guys are the direct descendants, and proud ones, at that, of the Brown Shirts. And they have every intention of promoting that cause through the Donald. He has other endorsements as well, ones worth noting include: Dennis Rodman (yeah, he's still around,) Mike Tyson, Stephen Baldwin, Gary Busey, Ted Nugent, Tila Tequila, Wayne Newton (yeah, he's a walking testament to plastic surgery...and is still around,) Hulk Hogan, Charlie Sheen, Mike Ditka, some guy from Duck Dynasty, and, I am so sorry to say, Jesse, The Governator, Ventura. This is a veritable brain trust....between them I have to trust they compose a single brain. Not a real high functioning one, mind you, but a brain nonetheless. 

Which makes me wonder why the general membership of the GOP doesn't rise up and protest. Do they really want one of these clowns negotiating for anything more than what one is served for breakfast? 

If this was an isolated case of mass stupidity, I might be able to better look past it toward some kind of sensible reality. But it's not. The absurdity is ongoing...relentlessly so... think about Planned Parenthood for a moment. Federal funds cannot be used to perform abortions, so that's a non-issue. When the GOP Clown Cavalcade talks about defunding Planned Parenthood, they're really talking about defunding breast cancer screening, STD screening, annual physicals, pre-natal services, and post-natal services, all stuff the GOP should be supporting if they were supporting the preservation of families. But they're not. 

In the same vein, the GOP is against gun control of any kind. Doesn't matter that the laws are already on the books and the President's executive order only requires the laws be enforced; to the GOP, it's an infringement on the right to bear AK-47s.  It has nothing to do with sane gun laws; it's about how big a dick you don't have. Good grief, people; if you have to license and insure your toy drone, don't you think you should license and insure a gun? Guys if you have to sling a semi-automatics over your shoulder to feel safe while walking through a store, you don't need ammo; you need testicles. 

Do you know about the gas leak in Porter Ranch, California? Bigger than the BP debacle in the Gulf....and no one has a clue how to stop the stuff from spewing into the atmosphere. Southern California Gas seemed to think it was okay not to have a contingency plan for emergencies. We don't need no stinkin' rules or government regulations. Sure, GOP, we need less government oversight.

I could go on forever, but I won't. I'm too tired to keep writing about this stuff. It's so depressing. Guys like Trump and Cruz want to defund everything.....and then what?

We, the People, get the government we elect, and we elect the government we deserve. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Day....
for Viking Blair Walsh
When you score all your team's  points in the game 
then you miss the last field goal,
the correct response is not 
"It's all my fault we lost the big game," 
the correct response is, "I'm truly sorry I missed the field goal, 
but was I the only one on the field today?"

Monday, January 4, 2016

So I Went To The Movies

So, here's the thing. I started writing this week's blog on Saturday night, right after news of some kind of event was slowly slipping out of Burns, Oregon. By Sunday afternoon, there was more news, but that "Peaceful protest in Oregon ranching case followed by building takeover at wildlife refuge" headline courtesy of the Associated Press was getting lots of cyber-inches, even though this was a self-proclaimed act of domestic terrorism.

Ammon Bundy and friends
The marvelous coincidence moment came when Ammon Bundy, son of standoff guy Cliven Bundy, announced that the penny-tossing, flower-sharing march and rally in support of Dwight Hammond, Jr, the guy arrested for setting wild fires on federal land, was really a red herring, and the plan all along was to take over a nearby federal building to occupy it for years, if necessary, in order to free federal land for use by ranchers, loggers and miners. Of course, they are a militia. Really. That's what they say they are. And, as any other self-respecting militia would do, they brought guns, ammo, and plenty of ramen noodles. Just in case they got hungry while fighting for freedom from anarchy. So where's the coincidence?

Gee, did the Bundy Gang take a page from the BLM playbook? 

A couple of weeks ago, the Black Lives Matter movement staged a rather small protest at Mall of America. It was well publicized and there was lots of press coverage. When the demonstrators were warned off by the mall cops ....they exited the building...only to get on the light rail and head over to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, where they made their way out to Highway 5 where they disrupted traffic access to and from the terminals... on the afternoon of December 23rd. Not exactly a light travel day. Leaders of BLM said the Mall event was merely a diversionary tactic; the real target had always been MSP: Black Lives Matter’ Protesters Gather; Mall Is Shut in Response (NY Times.)

There is a big difference though: while the BLM protests were actually peaceful demonstrations, the takeover of the federal building in Burns, Oregon, was an armed insurrection. The Bundy Gang has guns and indicated they are not afraid to use them on federal agents. They call themselves a militia, they dress like a militia, and they are armed like a militia. So whaddya think? Militia....or just fun-loving survivalists?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Dwight Hammond and his son, Steve, the fire-starting guys, are working really hard to disassociate themselves from Bundy Gang. Gee. I wonder why?

And here you thought there wasn't a problem with how news is reported in this country. Guess again, people. Social media, however really took these guys to heart, and the following hashtags are trending on Twitter:

Y'all Qaeda

Vanilla ISIS

Yee Hawdists
Yokel Haram
Meal Team Six

Cute, right? Let's not lose sight of the reality that Team Bundy's stated goal is the overthrow of the United States as we know it. And that, dear readers, is an armed insurrection and most definitely qualifies as terrorism.

And not a Muslim amongst them.

But all this stuff is all over the news. Now, it's old and stale. So, rather than rehash this crapola yet again, I went off to see STAR WARS in 3-D. 

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
It's a great diversionary tactic.