Blog Catalog

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Response Number Two to Trump's Attack On the People of Puerto Rico Today

This second one is from political commentator, professor, and author, Robert ReichHe served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and was Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton.

The disaster in Puerto Rico continues unabated, and the response from the Trump administration is woefully inadequate. So what does Trump do? He spends another weekend at his golf resort in New Jersey, and blames the messengers.

Trump’s first target this morning was Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan Puerto Rico: "The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump," he tweeted just after 7 a.m. Trump then turned to the news media: "Fake News CNN and NBC are going out of their way to disparage our great First Responders as a way to 'get Trump.' Not fair to FR or effort!," He followed that tweet up with: "The Fake News Networks are working overtime in Puerto Rico doing their best to take the spirit away from our soldiers and first R's. Shame!" Trump did all of that before 8 a.m. on the East Coast.

Our morally disabled president is incapable of hearing criticism, even when human lives are at stake.


Response Number One to Trump's Attack On the People of Puerto Rico Today

From reporter, writer, Dan Rather, today:

Excuse me, Mr. President but your tantrum tweet storm this morning attacking the mayor of San Juan, a fellow American citizen dealing with a real-time life and death struggle for hundreds of thousands of her constituents on an island of millions in crisis, is not only far below the dignity of the office you hold. It fails even the most basic test of humanity.

Did she have harsh words for your Administration's response to the aftermath of Hurricane Maria? Yes. It's called a reality check, and one that conforms to every firsthand account coming out of Puerto Rico no matter how much you try to deflect with your "Fake News" epithets. To take this personally is to put ego before country. And you also blame the Puerto Ricans themselves? That they want "everything done for them"? No. They just expect to be treated as any other American would.

I have seen more than my share of wretched desperation over the course of my career. I have reported from crisis zones where matters of life and death hang moment to moment in the balance between action and inaction, where communication is limited, and the sense of panic is building. I have seen the most steadfast of leaders feel the crushing weight of responsibility as they survey a landscape of almost incomprehensible need.

It does not take a saintly amount of compassion or empathy to feel for those who are struggling to stay alive, who are worried for the fate of family and friends, and who have seen so much that they have known and loved blown and washed away. You swore to "faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States" and that means a responsibility to look out for all Americans, even if they live on an island in the ocean, or look different or even speak a different language than what you think is America.

I worry that whoever has your ear has not adequately impressed upon you the gravity of this situation, or even the political price you are likely to pay (although that can be no where near the top concern at the moment). Or perhaps you have been told and haven't listened.

Regardless, what Puerto Rico needs now is not rhetoric but help, not a bumbling response, but the precision and competence we expect of our government. I do not believe "blame the victim" is what Americans expect of their president.

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump can't be bothered. He's off at his New Jersey property today, this weekend.


The Large--and Glaring--Problem of the Vietnam Documentary

Crying children, including 9-year-old Kim Phuc, center, run down Route 1 near Trang Bang, Vietnam after an aerial napalm attack on suspected Viet Cong hiding places as South Vietnamese forces from the 25th Division walk behind them

Like so many Americans this past week, I've watched a good deal of Ken Burns' and Lynn Novick's documentary on PBS covering the Vietnam War.

I'll say right off the bat, it's good and it's important. It's important we Americans know more about this horrible saga. It's important we know more fully what took place and they do cover a lot of that and well.

That said, it seems it also needs to be made clear that this program also lets America off any moral hook and that it leaves out a great deal more information, information we sorely need to know. No one puts this information out there better on the series than Christopher Koch in his writing online this week in Medium.

The Tragic Failure of Ken Burns Vietnam

A bit from the article:

Burns and Novick tell us that the war was begun “in good faith by decent people out of fateful misunderstandings, American overconfidence and …” whatever the current threat. That’s probably true of most wars. However, as we used to teach our children, you have to be accountable for your actions. If you kill someone speeding the wrong way down a one way street you’ll get charged with manslaughter even if you’re rushing someone to the hospital.

It’s the lack of accountability, the failure to prosecute those who lied to get us into the war, who encouraged battlefield tactics that resulted in the massacre of women and children, who authorized the indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets, who drenched Vietnam in chemical poisons that will cause birth defects and death for generation.

In order to maintain this central lie, Burns and Novick must establish a false balance between good and evil on both sides. Every time the United States is shown doing something bad, Burns and Novick show us how the Vietnamese also did bad things. In one absurd example, Coyote intones something like, “we called them ‘Dinks,’ ‘Gooks,’ ‘Mamasans;’ they called us ‘invaders’ and ‘imperialists.’” The GI terms are dehumanizing, but the Vietnamese terms are accurate. People who cross 3,000 miles of ocean to attack a country that has done them no harm, are accurately called ‘invaders.’ I suppose you could argue about the ‘imperialist’ charge.

Vietnamese soldiers killed some 58,000 Americans and wounded a couple of hundred thousand more. Buns and Novick put the number of Vietnamese we killed at 3 million, but most experts say it was more like 4 million and Vietnam says its 6 million, with more people continuing to die from unexploded ordinance and Agent Orange. We destroyed 60% of their villages, sprayed 21 million gallons of lethal poisons, imposed free fire zones (a euphemism for genocide) on 75% of South Vietnam. They attacked US military bases in their country and never killed an American on American soil. There are no equivalences here.

Finally, besides we Americans knowing our history and knowing what happened in Vietnam, the horrors and tragedies and even the lies, all the lies, that got us there and then kept us there, it's important to know it all and to put and keep it in perspective because of what it's since gotten us first in Iraq and then in Afghanistan, where we still are, to this day.

Without the peace movement, there is no moral center to this series. The lack of accountability is fatal. That an American general can watch from a helicopter the massacre at Mai Lai (as the films tells us) and suffer no consequences is sickening. If military courts had aggressively prosecuted violators of human rights, or even if we only had held detailed and accurate reconciliations where the truth came out, there would have been a chance that our reckless invasions of Iraq with its policy of torture and the invasion of Afghanistan would not have followed so easily. When people are held accountable for their actions, perpetrators of questionable violent acts think twice.

Last week on NPR an American general in Afghanistan announced that we are not trying to occupy territory in Afghanistan, we are simply trying to kill terrorists. Here, again, is the same rationale of the body count that led to disaster in Vietnam. We are reliving the Vietnam War because no one was ever really held responsible for its horrors.

We need to learn. We need to know. And then we need to apply the lessons of this nightmare, of this past, of our past, to the mistakes we're making now and that we continue to make.

I understand that they wanted to make this series both palatable and acceptable to most all, if not all Americans. They didn't want it to be "harsh." They didn't want it to be seen as "too hard" on our nation, too critical, too condemning, if not damning. It would have instantly been branded as "Leftist" and "against the troops" and so, then, against the nation. But by making it palatable, they whitewashed the history, our history. They whitewashed and prettified what happened and what we did over there.

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick let us off easy. In not telling all that happened, they let us off easy. Consequently, we learn nothing. Tragically, we repeat the same mistakes, killing in other, different parts of the world.

Additional links: 

What Trump’s Bravado and Bluster Gets Us---and the World

This broke this week—

 Maduro: Venezuela must prepare for war with the United States

Followed by this:

Here's hoping the Trump supporters learn and learn quickly.

They would be the first sent off to war, after all.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Missouri's Ozarks Are Getting Embarrassing

Image result for hillbilly ozarks

Two headlines yesterday from the Star: 

Gruesome details of transgender teen’s Ozarks slaying emerge as four are charged

A lot of us thought we were better than this. All of us.

A lot better than this.

Trump's and the Republicans' Tax Cuts for the Nation?

Did we learn nothing from the Kansas' Republican Party disaster that was their tax cuts for the already-wealthy and corporations so very recently?

Trump could learn from Kansas' flawed 

tax-reform experiment

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Tonight's NFL Sunday Night Football Game

Roger Goodell and the NFL are, today, tonight, playing this video as a commercial during their Sunday Night Football game on TV.

The NFL stands with its players.

Meanwhile, Today in America

Shooter kills one, wounds 7 

at Tennessee church

When can we talk about this, America?

In Case You Don't Get or Agree With the Silent NFL Protests

One picture. One example.

Again, this is just one example. There are many, many more.


Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue: Trump’s comments are ‘insulting and disgraceful’

Here's two teams, anyway, that aren't "taking a knee" during the National Anthem:

What Have Poor People Ever Done For This Country?

So many in America call out the poor as "moochers" and the programs for them as unnecessary and even wasteful. They say having these "welfare programs" keep them poor and "enables" them to be and stay poor.

Being Sunday, I think it an especially good day to examine just what and who the poor are and what, exactly, they do.
Image result for poverty in america

What Have The Poor Ever Done For Us

  1. They built it. The country was literally built on the backs of poor immigrants and slaves. To this day, construction workers are some of the hardest working people in the country, yet their average wage is only $50,000 per year, which includes management. People that maintain the roads driven by the wealthy (and everyone else) are paid only $30,000 per year.
  2. They care for our children. The average nanny is paid only about $30,000 per year, usually without benefits.
  3. They teach our children. The average teacher makes around $45,000 a year, which might not sound poor, but for that salary, most positions require advanced degrees.
  4. They make the world beautiful. It would be difficult to determine the average salary of an artist, but very few of even the most talented artists achieve financial success.
  5. They inform and entertain. Writers, actors and filmmakers are just as likely to live in poverty as visual artists.
  6. They create. Inventors are often poorly paid for their inventions, if paid at all.
  7. They are entrepreneurs. Two thirds of startup businesses fail. Many of them fail because they were simply out financed (think the big coffee chain moving on to the same corner as the independent coffee house).
  8. They keep our world clean. People that do the dirtiest jobs are notoriously some of the least paid, yet can you imagine a world without people emptying our trash and cleaning our toilets?
  9. They keep you alive. Without poor people, produce would rot in the fields. There would be no goods on the shelves. There would be no store clerks to sell them to you. Most Americans would most likely starve.
  10. They fight for our country. The average starting salary of enlisted personnel is about $30,000 per year.
  11. They save the world. Many of history’s most selfless people live their lives in or near poverty. They join the Peace Corps. They work for or start charitable organizations.
  12. They pay their taxes. Much is made of the statistic that between 40 and 50 percent of people don’t pay federal income tax. That is typically because they are too poor. But even if they don’t pay federal income tax, they pay taxes. They pay Social Security taxes. They pay state taxes. They pay the identical sales tax on food and clothing as their wealthy brethren. They pay identical gasoline taxes as their more fortunate counterparts. Unlike the wealthy, taxes deeply impact the well being of the poor, yet, unlike the wealthy, they are unable to take advantage of the loopholes that were designed to specifically benefit the wealthy.
What have the poor ever done for this country?


Of course, we can debate the definition of the word, “poor”, but the fact is that the gap between the people that have the most and the people that have the least is growing. People are not becoming less valuable. They are simply getting paid less.


An Example of Why Black Lives Matter

One example. Just one, of many.  Many.

Image may contain: text

It's Sunday----And Your Prayers?

What they really are---from America's Best Christian, Betty Bowers.

Enjoy your day, y'all.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

International Day of Peace, 2017

Image result for international day of peace 2017

Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.

The theme for 2017 is “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All.”

The theme honours the spirit of TOGETHER, a global initiative that promotes respect, safety and dignity for everyone forced to flee their homes in search of a better life. TOGETHER unites the organizations of the United Nations System, the 193 Member States of the United Nations, the private sector, civil society, academic institutions and individual citizens in a global partnership in support of diversity, non-discrimination and acceptance of refugees and migrants. It was initiated during the United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants on 19 September 2016.

See more here:

Monday, September 18, 2017

The American Worker Doesn't Know What He Doesn't Have---But Could

FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2011, file photo demonstrators rally in support of Wisconsin workers at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill. As other states move to weaken public employee bargaining rights in the aftermath of the Wisconsin showdown, unions and their allies dare to hope they can turn rage into revival. This could be a make or break moment for a movement that brought the nation the 40-hour week, overtime pay, upward mobility, and now a struggle to stay relevant in the modern age. ( AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)

Wil Wheaton:

I was at work today for Labour Day and on TV was Good Morning America. The theme was celebrating the American worker and their accomplishments. I’ll tell you how it went down.

Kelly put on her glasses, smile wide, and pulled out a piece of paper which she read from. The paper was from an article (which I have issues with, but I will leave alone for now) by ABC news. Kelly proceeded only to read the opening of it, which reads: ‘Americans work more than anyone in the industrialized world. More than the English, more than the French, way more than the Germans or Norwegians. Even, recently, more than the Japanese. And Americans take less vacation, work longer days, and retire later, too.’

And everyone cheered.

And they kept cheering when Kelly put her paper down and smiled at everyone. (not continuing with the rest of the article which suggests that this may in fact be a problem).

And I just couldn’t BELIEVE that anyone was cheering. America. AMERICA you work more than the French, who are entitled by law to have 5 weeks off a year for vacation and can not work more than 35 hours per week. You work more than Norway, who average 33 hours per week and 44,000 dollars a year. Germany, where AGAIN, we see a shorter work week and better pay! And all of these countries have health care and better pay and free/affordable education!


I have a different interpretation of this information: the American worker is the most taken advantage of worker in the industrialized world. It’s plain and simple. You work long hours and get horrible pay. You take multiple jobs and work and work and work just to get by. Unions are disappearing, jobs are always looking for part timers and all you are doing is giving up your time for less money, less vacation, less safety and stability and less education than anyone else on the list.

Celebrate Labour day. Celebrate the accomplishments of the common worker, but don’t let these people trick you into thinking you should celebrate the theft of your time and energy, or the fruits of your labour.

They are using you. Stop cheering.

(via wilwheaton)

The Real Reason America Doesn't Have Universal Health Care

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Weather Events Our Media Don't Seem to be Reporting

Sure, we're getting coverage, some, anyway, of first Hurricane Harvey that hit Southeast Texas and Western Louisiana. And then we got coverage of Hurricane Irma that hit Florida---and, far more devastatingly, the Caribbean but hey, let's focus just on our 50 states, right?

We and our media have already seemed to have moved on from the Houston area.

Unless you've actively sought out information on that area and storm, Texas and Louisiana and Harvey, it doesn't seem like we're seeing or reading or hearing much about their plight now. We have, again, moved on, as a country, as a people. We're no longer paying them any "never mind."

Meanwhile, as a matter of fact, yet another hurricane is out there and building strength and heading for the same areas. It is Hurricane Marie, thank you very much. And tropical storm Lee is right behind.

So yeah, we're moving on. We're too busy to keep up with all that rebuilding down there in the ravaged South.

And speaking of moving on, how about the areas of the world that have also, in even recent weeks, let alone the last month or so, been ravaged by weather events? Do you have any idea what's been happening lately, around the world?

The Climate Catastrophe We're All Ignoring

Flooding in Bangladesh has submerged a third of the country. (Photo: British Red Cross)

"...multiply the damage from Harvey and Irma a hundredfold and you’ll get a feeling for the climate-related suffering taking place right now in the rest of the world. In India, Bangladesh, and Nepal, an estimated 40 million people have been affected by massive flooding, with over 1,200 deaths. More than one third of Bangladesh’s land mass has been submerged. As if that’s not enough, Africa has been suffering its own under-reported climate disasters, with hundreds of thousands affected by flooding in Nigeria, Niger, Congo, Sierra Leone, and Uganda.

So yeah, maybe we need to know and recognize what, exactly, is already taking place in the world so we can put things, everything, in perspective. The climate scientists have said our planet is warming. They said devastating climate events would increase, from droughts to floods, at least.

Maybe we need to pay attention?



Donald Trump, USA President, Today

From former NPR reporter Jacki Lyden today, from her Facebook page.

What did you do with your morning?

Kiss the kids, hug the spouse, walk the dog, pour coffee for the friend, chat to the neighbor?

Phone abroad, pull a weed?

In some way, be glad you were alive?

The leader of the free world (I’m fairly certain) did none of that.

In a 15-tweet-tweetstorm, the day before a UN roll-out, amid N Korea threats and Prez Taunts (now we’re down to taunts like Rocket Man) and post-Irma & Harvey, he woke up with tweet indigestion.

He put misogyny into the mix, re-tweeting from an anti-Semitic account fantasizing that this oaf could possibly swing a golf club hard enough to Hillary Clinton in the back, without getting a hernia. The meme splices in a clip of Clinton visiting Yemen.

Jealousy over Clinton's book reception likely triggered it (as well as raging jealousy over her accomplishments as a female Secretary of State-- (heaven help Ivanka) but -- racism and misogyny and paternalism/white supremacy are absolutely at the core of Donald Trump's id. (I would never reflect on the state of his soul. That remains to be developed.)

Every single day, Americans who worry about the myriad obliques and angles threatening modern life, must additionally worry that this unstable man will further undermine what remains of our democracy, society, and civility.

Every hour.

Columnists write columns about their rising blood pressure (see Dana Milbank, "Trump is Killing Me).

The best antidote, of course, is to prevail with those principles Trump cannot affect -- morality, civility, decency, and courage. It's not about "moving past" Trump's latest outrage -- it's burned into our psyches already. Short of removing this completely unfit human from public office, we must do all we can to hang on to our own characters, which are, of course, already going to be tested by the ungrateful kid, horrid neighbor, food poisoning and dog that bites. 

My point being that life is a series of intended and unintended feints and parries, an equilibrium forever poised on the precipice of eclipse, but with this president we can count on poison and only on poison. 

There are no legislative political accomplishments, and of course, he is politically impotent. 

And knows it. 

Remember we need health care, mental health parity, community need, a fight against ethnic cleansing, fairness for the the frail amongst us, an environment and planet health we must improve. 

Perhaps the test for us is that in addition to never overlooking his sickness--for he is a sick man, very sick--we must expand our empathy gene in direct opposition to Trump’s failure to affect anything except hatred. 

We must speak out. 

That to me is indeed but one good reason to get up in the morning and carry on-- because someone this sick and desperate can make everyone a little more sick and desperate and would revel in doing so if it made him feel powerful. 

There is no moral compass there, just an id. 

So onward friends, in the engagement of your best self, best talents, best friends, best heart. We struggle, but at least, we struggle together.


It Looks Very Bad This Weekend For the Trump White House

There have been a few articles that came out this weekend about Trump's White House and Robert Mueller's investigation of any illegality and possible collusion with the Russians to win the presidency.

Here's the first and it's pretty huge:

Mueller just obtained a warrant that could change the entire nature of the Russia investigation

Here's just a part of it. It seems to implicate Trump's son-in-law, too, on influencing the election, first, but with and through Facebook and the Russians as well as the Republican Party:

"'This is big news — and potentially bad news for the Russian election interference 'deniers,' said Asha Rangappa, a former FBI counterintelligence agent.

Rangappa, now an associate dean at Yale Law School, explained that to obtain a search warrant a prosecutor needs to prove to a judge that there is reason to believe a crime has been committed. The prosecutor then has to show that the information being sought will provide evidence of that crime."

It goes on:

"The Facebook warrant "means that Mueller has concluded that specific foreign individuals committed a crime by making a 'contribution' in connection with an election..."

Here's another.

New details about major Russian money laundering probe raise the stakes of Trump Tower meeting

The Russian lawyer who met with President Donald Trump's son, son-in-law, and campaign manager in June 2016 was representing a client under scrutiny in an ongoing criminal investigation related to a money-laundering case opened in 2013 by former US Attorney Preet Bharara.

Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian prosecutor with ties to the Kremlin, was representing the real-estate company Prevezon Holdings in a civil suit filed by the US government in the Southern District of New York when she visited Trump Tower on June 9, 2016.

Prevezon, which is owned by the son of a powerful Russian government official, was part of a parallel criminal investigation, according to court documents filed late last year. A person familiar with the matter told Business Insider that the criminal case was ongoing, corroborating a Bloomberg report published earlier Friday.

The criminal investigation had not yet been disclosed when Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired Bharara in March, and there was no mention of it when the civil case was settled in May for $5.9 million.

The Bloomberg report mentioned broke Friday.

Russia Laundering Probe Puts 

Trump Tower Meeting in New Light

Not stopping there, hopefully there will be an examination of the end of a money-laundering case by someone in this administration--Trump's own Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

It looks for all the world as though we may very well be starting to see the end of this presidency, fellow Americans.

Quote of the Day -- Sunday Edition

Image result for like slavery and apartheid

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Divided St. Louis, Divided Kansas City, Divided America

This New Yorker Magazine cover ran in December, 2014.

It's still so tragically true, of course, and so very still true of our own city and of too much of America.

We need to get and be and stay better than this.

We tell ourselves we are.

Friday, September 15, 2017

KCPT's "Ruckus": All White, All the Time

Image result for kcpt ruckus

Once again this week, KCPT-TV's weekly news program "Ruckus" was all white people, solving all the people's problems. The most open minded they could be was having two women on the panel.

They even discussed the DACA, "dreamers" controversy, possibly effecting 800,000 Hispanic people in the nation but do you think they'd include one minority, one Hispanic from the Kansas City metropolitan area?


They'll keep it lily-white.

Who are we kidding?

Because there aren't any minorities in this city.

No Blacks.  No Hispanics. No Mexican-Americans. None of them. Not in this town.

We know that.


Well, except on their own commercials, asking for donations and contributions--money--to keep the station running.

Side note:  In a -little bit--of a defense of KCPT here, they did include one Black man, Eric Wesson, on their show this week. Of course, it was a discussion, on that show, about the minority community demanding a percentage portion of the work if we do, in fact, build a new single-terminal airport. Two white men, one white woman and Mr. Wesson.


Entertainment Overnight -- Slumber, My Darling

Incredible, beautiful, piercing, simple performance.

John Dickerson on the Presidency and This President

CBS' News "Face the Nation" host John Dickerson makes some excellent points on the job and position that is the presidency, what it entails, what the job calls for and how this President does--and does not--fit the job.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

I Don't Like Where It Looks Like We're Headed

Apocalyptic movies began and, if anything, seem to keep growing in numbers. "Mad Max", for me, seemed to be either the first or one of them. In the meantime, they've grown in number.

This one, "Ready Player One", from Steven Spielberg, is due out next year.

It makes me fear for our future, for our collective futures.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Maybe We Don't Want That Amazon Headquarters Anyway

For a different viewpoint on that Amazon headquarters:

Image result for jeff bezos amazon

Amazon's New Headquarters 

Should Be in Hell

"Amazon is one of America’s largest and most successful corporations. It is worth nearly $500 billion. Its stock is booming. Its CEO is one of the world’s richest men. It has the wherewithal, in other words, to do whatever it wants. If Amazon wanted to purchase five square blocks of midtown Manhattan tomorrow and build skyscrapers on it, it could, just by writing a check. More to the point, if Amazon wanted to help revitalize an American city by investing $5 billion in it to build a new headquarters there, bringing 50,000 new jobs to town, it could. Just by writing a check.

Instead, Amazon is holding a multinational audition, asking for cities to submit proposals to win the exciting opportunity to host tens of thousands of tech (people). Amazon wants to know that cities have an educated work force and good transportation networks, sure, but they don’t need the cities themselves to tell them that. What they are asking cities to submit are economic incentives. They are asking for tax breaks. They are in essence conducting a giant beauty pageant in which desperate municipal governments attempt to offer them the most lucrative possible package of public resources. This is not unlike a rich man standing up in the midst of a crowd of beggars and yelling, “Who will massage my feet for the lowest price?”

Do we really want to give away possible supporting tax money for our schools and infrastructure?

Can we afford that?

It's as I said a long time ago and have said since, our city, county and state governments need to stop letting themselves be used like this. They need to stop allowing themselves to be manipulated to give the lowest and best tax package, just to land possible new business and companies to come into their jurisdictions.

They won't stop but they should.