Friday, August 31, 2018

News Links

Why I refuse to read any more Trump stories.   I copy bullet items from the NY Times daily headlines on to a separate sheet to read later.   I read the first two or three, and then decided to abandon them all.  I may move to Ireland and remove myself from any access to the Internet.   Or I will find the Island that Papillion was based upon, and raise any uncontrolled substance for my personal use, and see about opening up a Burger King franchise for a day job.

Why It Can Happen Here

The End of Impunity

After Trump, the Deluge?

Trump's Swamp Things

The Commander of Fear

Trump's Assault on Google

For Whom the Economy Grows


 "A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity."
- Ralph Nader

Something to Know - 31 August

You've Never Seen Luxury Like This on a Cruise Ship
You've Never Seen Luxury Like This on a Cruise ShipYahoo! Search

As many of you know, my wife and I and several close friends recently completed a 3-week cruise which included Amsterdam, Norway, Iceland, and Scotland.   This was on the same Holland America ship (Koningsdam) we sailed on earlier this year around the English Channel to Spain, Portugal, more ports along the way to Italy, and back to Ft. Lauderdale.   The ship is around 2,700 passengers, and is about as big a ship that I would ever want to be on.  It's a new ship, and has all the bells and whistles of a new ship, and they all work.   I was struck by this tiny ad on the Internet that got me thinking.  The cruise industry seems to be migrating to the behemoth class in size and passenger capacity.   I am concerned about the stability of those 16-deck monsters that just might tip over in a strong wind.   The industry is trying like crazy to convince the public that these floating housing projects are the lap of luxury.  They may be for some, and I am sure the revenue generated per square meter is a lot higher than the smaller boats, but Lynne and I have been around the seas a few times, and we are not convinced.  Our next boat ride is on something more to our liking - 950 passengers - in December.


 "A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity."
- Ralph Nader

Something to Know - 31 August

 I am sorry, but I have tried to get back to deep-reading of the current issues, but I just can't get motivated.  I seem to be waiting for the wrecking ball, suspended up high by Mueller, to drop on the fat head of our current white house occupant.   He keeps on a demonic run of stupid and ugly behavior, and every day something worse comes out,   His latest was to suspend planned pay raises for civilian federal personnel - yeah, right.   His upper crust got a huge budget-busting tax cut, and he has stopped funding for any program that Obama instituted to help middle class tax payers stay above water.   Betsy DeVoss is going to make students pay all the money they got conned into borrowing, plus usurious interest to help pay for tax cuts.   Hell, even US citizens along the border cannot get passports from their own government because Trump does not believe they deserve on.  It's getting really sick, and reading about it day after day is not helpful to my disposition.   So, this little ditty got my attention and raises my spirit off the floor:

These are very good, considering the irony of them.

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 "A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity."
- Ralph Nader

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Something to Know - 29 August

Rob Rogers for August 28, 2018 Comic Strip

President Trump speaks during a dinner for evangelical leaders in the State Dining Room of the White House on Monday, Aug. 27, 2018. (Alex Brandon/AP)
August 28 at 7:33 PM

In a closed-door meeting with evangelical leaders, President Trump on Monday warned of "violence" from the left if Democrats retake control of Congress in November, according to multiple reports.

The comments, which mark an escalation of Trump's rhetoric, come amid deepening investigations into the president's associates as well as a midterm battle that is entering its crucial final months.

"They will overturn everything that we've done, and they'll do it quickly and violently, and violently," Trump told the assembled leaders at the White House dinner, according to reports Tuesday by NBC News and the New York Times. "There's violence. When you look at antifa, and you look at some of these groups — these are violent people."

Black-clad "antifa," or anti-fascist, protesters made headlines last year when they allegedly attacked another group of demonstrators in Berkeley, Calif. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) denounced the violence at the time, saying in a statement that "the violent actions of people calling themselves antifa in Berkeley this weekend deserve unequivocal condemnation, and the perpetrators should be arrested and prosecuted."

At Monday's dinner with the Christian leaders, Trump described the November election in dire terms.

"You're one election away from losing everything that you've got," he said, according to NBC News.

What you need to know about evangelicals in the Trump era

The label "evangelical Christian" gets thrown around in politics. Here's a look at how it has evolved and this group's religious beliefs and political leanings. 

  (Trump grabs a few ZZZZZZs between tweets)

During the 2016 campaign, Trump himself appeared to encourage violence in remarks at some of his rallies. After one protester interrupted a Trump speech in Las Vegas in February 2016, the candidate declared: "I'd like to punch him in the face, I tell you."

At another event that month in Iowa, Trump referred to a recent incident in which a protester lobbed a tomato at the stage and told the crowd, "If you see somebody with a tomato, knock the crap out of them."

The following month, at a rally in Michigan, Trump told audience members he would cover their legal costs if they were sued for any violence against protesters.

"Get him out. Try not to hurt him. If you do, I'll defend you in court, don't worry about it," Trump said.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said last year that Trump "in no way, form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence."

Trump also erroneously claimed Monday that he had done away with the Johnson Amendment, which he described to the evangelical leaders as a "disaster for you," according to the NBC report.

The provision bars religious institutions and other tax-exempt organizations from endorsing political candidates. A repeal of the Johnson Amendment was ultimately not included in last year's Republican tax bill. While Trump signed an executive order aimed at making it easier for churches to take part in politics, an act of Congress would be required to repeal the provision itself.


 "A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity."
- Ralph Nader


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Quest to be Car-Free in LA (or Santa Monica, at least)

Paul Goldberg recently relocated to Santa Monica with his wife Cathy and dog from suburban New Jersey for a job in Century City. He and his wife have ditched their cars and are writing about their experience living car-free in Los Angeles, a city famous for its romantic relationship with cars and the worst traffic in America. Paul and Cathy are the parents of Sirinya's best friend from college and have moved into her condo complex in Santa Monica. This is their car-free story.

Week 1


Took a taxi from the office to my new apartment as I had extra luggage, and quite a bit of it. Sirinya - our older daughter’s friend from college - and Sirinya’s toddler son Wilshire met me and we entered the new abode.  They were otherwise engaged that evening so I was on my own.

However, I had a mission – find the Spectrum store to pick up my internet modem so I would have connectivity right away.   Who needs furniture when you have wireless? The store wasn’t far definitely worth a Bird. You really don’t need the app to find Birds in Santa Monica, as you are more likely to just step on one. So I found one down the block, negotiated the purchase and…it was a dud.  Or I am a dud because I seem to have lots of trouble getting them going. No worries, lock it, walk 100 feet and try another. Success.

After restarting my Bird (left it “running” while purchasing internet), I’m off.  But wait, my phone rings and it is Spectrum saying there was a problem. And I had felt so good getting it going! No big deal, just typical cable company challenges.  We resolve it, I restart successfully, and I am back quickly dumping said Bird at CVS where I pick up some apartment essentials.

Modes of transport: Taxi, Bird
Cost: fare + $3
Workout: Hauling luggage

Commute to downtown LA – quick consult determines that the Big Blue Bus operates an express route from the bus stop 50 yards from my front door to downtown. It was running late but I wasn’t on a particular schedule. I had no TAP card yet, so it was cash only - $1.25 at the senior rate.  Feeling very guilty about that, but the low fare does not seem to attract ridership - at least when I’m riding. The bus stop is all of one block from the office, and was a speedy 50 minutes even in rush hour traffic.

That evening, finding the return bus stop was the most complicated part of the journey, as it was not just across from where I was dropped off. Google Maps showed it but I couldn’t quite figure it out as it was down a steep hill and hidden under an overpass. Fortunately, I had time to go the wrong way three times and still be there for it.  Again, a fast ride. Just walking across Santa Monica Blvd seemed to take the longest time.

Now was the time to explore the neighborhood and find Whole Foods. It’s about a half mile away and walking seemed ok although it is up a not-insignificant hill.  However, I decided a Bird was warranted for the ride home. With most of my purchases in the backpack, I was able to negotiate the trip home with no problems.

Modes of transport: Bus, Bird
Cost:  $5
Workout: Walking uphill


My first chance to work out and the CrossFit gym in downtown Santa Monica about 3 miles away at my preferred time: 5:30 am.  I walked to the bus stop where Birds and the homeless individuals congregate, and off I went. It was an easy and safe trip at with few cars joining me at 5 am. The most substantive activity were the Bird chargers restocking the fleet.  $3.50 got me there (starting to see how Bird makes money) and $3.35 back.

Commuting was on the 704 bus to Century City. Same stop, 20 minutes.

Return home was easy, although I did watch the bus I was hoping to catch speed by since crossing the Santa Monica Boulevard intersection in Century City can take longer than 5 minutes. No big one in 10 minutes.

Modes of transport: Bird, bus
Cost: $7.85, could have been $6.85 but keep forgetting TAP Card
Workout:  84 burpees, deadlifts, and wall throws

A repeat of yesterday’s schedule. Taking a Bird to gym was uneventful but returning it squawked after stopping at a light and refused to go any further. The battery seemed ok, I just have the dud touch.  Walked the rest of the way.

I was more nimble catching the bus home after navigating Santa Monica Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars. Getting the hang of it!

I was going straight to LAX from work. My luggage was more manageable going back to the East Coast so the bus worked.  Using both seats didn’t seem to present a problem as the bus was just 3 quarters full.

I’m back in a week when my road bike from New Jersey will arrive and a newly purchased Fixie with the Copenhagen wheel will be ready for the commute and a whole new experience.
Modes of transport: Bird, walking, bus
Cost: $7.75
Workout: 800 meter run, 50 kettlebell swings, 25 calories on bike, repeat 3 times; hauling luggage

From the Onion

White House Flag Now Moving Minute To Minute To Indicate Trump's Mood
White House Flag Now Moving Minute To Minute To Indicate Trump's Mood

WASHINGTON—Controversy surrounding whether the commander in chief was properly honoring recently deceased Senator John McCain increased Tuesday after reports indicated that the White House flag was now being moved up or down on its staff minute to minute to indicate President Donald Trump's current mood. "It's no…



 "A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity."
- Ralph Nader

Andy Borowitz

Mueller Rents Giant Warehouse to Store Evidence Against Trump

Photograph by SWNS / Alamy

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Robert Mueller is renting a massive warehouse facility in suburban Virginia to accommodate the approximately forty cubic tons of evidence against Donald Trump that the independent counsel's investigation is generating on a daily basis.

Employing over two thousand workers in a warehouse the size of seven football fields, the Mueller investigation has become the fastest-growing sector of the U.S. economy, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Working twelve-hour shifts, the members of Mueller's evidence-storage team rarely leave the warehouse, where the punishing task of filing mountains of evidence against Trump proceeds around the clock.

"It's like a city all its own," one warehouse worker said. "There are people working in the Michael Flynn section who've never met the people working in the Paul Manafort section."

While the warehouse workers are well paid, there have been issues with burnout. "The team in charge of filing all of Donald Trump, Jr.,'s different explanations of his meeting with the Russians had to take time off," one worker said.

As gargantuan as the storage space appears to be, an aide to Mueller said that the investigation would soon be seeking a second, even larger warehouse. "We need a place to put all the Jared stuff," the aide said.


 "A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity."
- Ralph Nader

Monday, August 27, 2018

Something to Know - 27 August

With the passing of Senator John McCain, let's recalibrate what is important and what is not.  One thing for sure, the pettiness and gross lack of humanity by our current White House occupant is on display today.   The TV news showed the US flag at half mast at the Capitol Building in Washington D.C., while the aforementioned White House occupant insisted on keeping the flag at full staff, and omitting any mention of the name of the deceased.  How sad and small can a person be?   Anyway, hopefully we can see through the muck of the swamp and hope for better days.   

Opera of Demons

Trump has created a series of odd bedfellows.

Charles M. Blow

By Charles M. Blow

Opinion Columnist

Donald Trump has warped reality.

He has turned porn star Stormy Daniels into Joan of Arc.

He has brought Robert Mueller's protectors to the defense of the horrid Jeff Sessions, who may well be a racist and is definitely a monster for conducting the policy of family separations at our southern border.

He has made foul-mouthed, bullying Michael Cohen, Trump's "fixer," emerge as an antihero.

He has made Senators Bob Corker and the Tea Party darling Jeff Flake appear as valiant crusaders for integrity, unafraid to put principle above party.

In this dramatic opera of demons, the lesser evils are part of the phalanx standing between us and the greater evils: Trump's corruption, possible criminality, and definite rage, racism and cruelty.

They are also what has helped to buy time for Mueller to complete his investigation before Trump can end it


This is where we are now: building coalitions around causes, often with those to whom we take offense or even despise. The enemy of my enemy is my temporary tool.

Hopefully these coalitions will not need to be longstanding. Trump's fortress of fraudulence is showing cracks. A life lived on the edges of the law is inching into full view. Justice is yearning to be served.

Last week, not only did Cohen implicate Trump in a criminal conspiracy, Cohen's lawyer, Lanny Davis, told MSNBC: "Mr. Cohen has knowledge of certain subjects that should be of interest to the special counsel and is more than happy to tell the special counsel the obvious possibility of a conspiracy to collude and corrupt the American democracy system in the 2016 election."

Cohen flipped, and Trump flipped out.

He gave a rambling, nearly incoherent interview to Fox News, in which he not only seemed to confess to a campaign finance violation, one of the things Cohen pleaded guilty to, but he also made himself sound more like a mob boss than a law-and-order president. He told the network:

"If somebody defrauded a bank and he is going to get 10 years in jail or 20 years in jail, but you can say something bad about Donald Trump and you will go down to two years or three years, which is the deal he made, in all fairness to him, most people are going to do that. … And I have seen it many times. I have had many friends involved in this stuff. It's called flipping, and it almost ought to be illegal."

The use of informants is a central part of how some criminal prosecutions are executed. This is how the justice system works.

Trump is a man who has lived a life evading justice, using the legal system and the threat of legal action against people. For him, the justice system is a tool at the disposal of the wealthy and the ruthless, one to be used against anyone of lesser means and lesser fortitude.

In his mind, the fact that he may be implicated by the justice system is a blasphemy, a distortion of the American power structure, in which the wealthy almost always win.



As he told Fox: "I've always had controversy in my life and I've always succeeded. I've always won. I've always won."

CNN's Chris Cillizza wrote about that comment:

Two notes here: a) he's right — his entire life has been controversial andb) he only sees things through the lens of winning or losing. There is no other measure of success or failure. If you win, you were right.

Not only has Cohen flipped, but The New York Times also reported last week:

"Federal prosecutors in Manhattan struck a deal earlier this summer with Allen Weisselberg, the longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, granting him immunity for his grand jury testimony about Michael D. Cohen, a person briefed on the arrangement said Friday."

And not only that, but The Wall Street Journal reported last week that David Pecker, chairman and C.E.O. of American Media — which publishes the National Enquirer — was also granted immunity in the Cohen case.

This wannabe-king's court is filled with rats and weasels more interested in their own preservation than his. Trump demands loyalty, and loyalty freely given should be honored and revered. When the dishonorable attempt to purchase it, either with money or fear, it will always prove false in the end.


No one can outrun the truth forever. Eventually, the truth always catches up. It comes out. It shines. I predict that the whole truth of Trump will shock the world, even more than it is already shocked

Trump may have the undying loyalty of the zombies who rose from what was once the mainstream Republican Party, but not even that can forever stave off the reckoning.

I'm not a very religious person, but I am fond of Galatians 6:7 in the Bible:


"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."


 "A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity."
- Ralph Nader