One Cartoon Says It All About Trump

I am always glad to see what Phil Hands, the political cartoonist for the Wisconsin State Journal, has created to better define the news of the day.  This weekend his offering was brilliant, because it is so true.

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Deer In Headlight Interview Makes Senator Scott Look Pitiful

I have been watching news interview programs for over 40 years.  I have seen lively exchanges, witty responses, and wily dodges from news-makers.  But never have I witnessed such a poor performance, sluggish regard for questions, or a total lack of preparation for the topic at hand than what took place today with Senator Rick Scott on CBS.

This week Donald Trump stepped into a policy and political mess when he stated Republicans were going to change health care in the nation and then named Scott as one of the point people on Capitol Hill to “come up with something really spectacular”.

It was clear when Trump spoke he was not aware Scott has some troubles in his past with health care business dealings.  Had Trump done his homework he would have known Scott was not the best match for a public face concerning a new scheme from the GOP on this topic.  Scott was the CEO of the hospital company Columbia/HCA in the 1990s, and resigned four months after a federal inquiry into the company was made public. The company was later fined $1.7 billion in 2000 and 2007 for what was then the largest case of Medicare fraud in history.  OUCH!

It comes as no surprise there is no alternative GOP health care plan. Their plan is to repeal the ACA and leave folks with nothing.  When asked this morning on Face The Nation about his role as point man Scott stated it was the White House that would be weighing in on a plan.  With that it proved the unscripted words from Trump this past week has again placed their party where the leaders of the GOP wish not to land.

Margaret Brennan asked several times how the ACA could be repealed without something concrete to go in its place and Scott looked like a semi was barreling at him going 70 mph.  He offered pauses and then repeated a line about lowering costs for the third time–or was it the fourth?  Brennan nailed him by asking how important lower costs are if a person does not even have a health care plan?

If Republicans had a plan, they would have introduced it at some point in the last 10 years.  They have nothing to offer for policy and now have proved they do not even have a competent point person to spin lines for a news interview.


Counting The Number Of Jews In The Labor Bureau

I do love a well-written and informative obituary.  The New York Times, almost every day, has one which makes me think back while unearthing new information along the way.  Today it was the obit for Fred Malek which intrigues me.  Malek is a personality which has been written about in biographies of Richard Nixon.  The portion of the news story, which leaps out today, is the one that his family surely wishes had never occurred.

Mr. Malek’s initial foray into presidential politics came during the Nixon administration, when he was deputy under secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. He was later a driving force behind the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, raising $25 million for its construction.

Nixon’s daughters, Tricia Nixon Cox and Julie Nixon Eisenhower, said in a statement, “Fred did more for our father’s legacy than anyone else in recent memory.”

But his association with Nixon would leave a stain on his own legacy.

In July 1971, the president was furious when the Bureau of Labor Statistics attributed a drop in the unemployment rate to a statistical quirk rather than to administration policies. According to news accounts as well as the Nixon archives, the president believed that a “Jewish cabal” was trying to sabotage him politically.

And so he instructed Mr. Malek, then the White House personnel chief, to count the number of Jews in the labor bureau.

Malek refused four times to do so, but finally relented. Guessing who was Jewish based on their last names, he sent the president a letter saying that 13 of 35 top employees were. The letter’s existence remained unknown for 17 years.

In 1988, The Washington Post reported on the letter and indicated that it had resulted in the demotions of at least two Jewish officials.

Mr. Malek, who had gone on to serve as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget under both Nixon and Ford in the 1970s, said he had nothing to do with the demotions.

“I would have found it offensive and morally unacceptable, and I would have refused,” he was quoted as saying.

At the time, in 1988, he was deputy chairman of the Republican National Committee and a high-level adviser to Vice President Bush, who was running for president. He resigned from the committee when the story broke. Slate subsequently reported that a White House memo showed that Mr. Malek had, in fact, known about the demotions.




WORLD Famous Grand Ole Opry–Story To Make For The Smile Of The Week

I love the chance to again write about one of my loves, the Grand Old Opry.

This week I needed to address a most incorrect medical bill which was going to cost me over 400.00.  At the heart of the matter was a coding issue which needed to be changed.  When dialing I wondered where in the world I would land for assistance.

When an operator answered I heard a pleasant voiced woman who turned out to be as chatty as I often am when talking.  She was in the Philippines and reported the weather to be very hot, while wishing for the cool spring type weather I spoke of out my windows.  Soon the billing matter was on its way to being resolved.

In the course of the conversation she asked for my email address and upon hearing it wanted it repeated for accuracy.  She then asked what it meant, and I told her it was to honor the Grand Ole Opry, our nation’s longest running radio show from Nashville, Tennessee.

Without missing a beat she said, “Oh, yes, it is on every Saturday night.  We listen to it on satellite radio”.  I grinned and said she had made my day.

As a young boy I often wondered how the radio waves worked, allowing those signals to be picked up by my radio in central Wisconsin.   This week I must admit it warmed my heart to know one of the longest traditions, which is truly a slice of Americana, was so instantly recognized in another nation half-way around the world.

The woman was kind, funny, most helpful, and part of the ‘large family’ which has joined around radios for 94 years to hear a fiddle, a country song, and humor you could tell your grandmother.  If you needed something to smile about this week–this is, indeed, your story.  It sure was mine!

Donald Trump Disconnected From Reality, Truth, His Own White House

I want to write a few lines to underscore how Trump claims victories for his own unpopular actions. That sentence may seem to be worded oddly–but it is perfectly stated.

We know this week Trump declared that he had decided to save the Special Olympics–after his own budget proposed slashing the program.  Then last night at a campaign rally Trump announced that he’s going to make sure the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is fully funded.   BUT GET THIS FACT–Trump’s budget earlier this month proposed slashing that program, which funds the cleanup of the Great Lakes, by 90 percent – from $300 million to $30 million.

“We have some breaking news! You ready? Can you handle it? I don’t think you can handle it,” he said, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I support the Great Lakes. Always have! They are beautiful. They are big, very deep, record deepness, right? And I am going to get, in honor of my friends, full funding of $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which you have been trying to get for over 30 years. So we will get it done.”

But again let us deal in FACTS–during his first year in office, Trump called for eliminating the program entirely. Last year and this year, he asked Congress to cut it by 90 percent.  Needless to say–and as a Midwesterner I fully know the following–Republicans and Democrats joined arms and fully funded it over White House objections.

Trump has no ability to tell the truth, and is not even aware, seemingly, what happens in his own Administration.

Brexit Failure Continues

Brexit was slated to be a failure from the outset.  Xenophobia, and the belief in a lost, past greatness placed Brtiain in an economic downward spiral when it was passed in a national vote.. The news today is more of the same for a nation that has lost its way.
British Prime Minister Theresa May suffered her third major Brexit defeat after the House of Commons voted down the main part of a deal setting out the terms of the U.K.’s divorce with the E.U.
The 344-286 vote was laden with symbolism, falling on the day the U.K. was originally meant to leave the political and economic bloc.
Britain is now due to leave the E.U. on April 12, although that could morph into a lengthy delay, raising the possibility of a general election, a second referendum or even no Brexit at all.
This blog was fore-square against Brexit from the outset. Aside from the economic pitfalls concerns about the inability of the Brits to fully uphold their commitments under the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement has been a gnawing concern.   I well recall the The Troubles.  Too many did not, or more to the point never saw the relationship between a vote based on bigoted angst and the needs of a major treaty.
Too many British  voters did not know what Brexit meant when they cast a ballot for it. They do now—but it seems late to come to that realization.

What Happens When We Raise A Little Hell?

The back-lash was so intense it even penetrated Donald Trump’s hairdo. Trump says he is rescinding his proposed cut to Special Olympics budget amid a bipartisan outcry.

Trump’s budget had called for eliminating all of the $17.6 million in federal funding for the organization, which gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to compete in a range of athletic contests. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had spent the past three days trying to defend the indefensible. But the uproar from the nation was louder. And, of course, correct.

So Trump abruptly shifted course Thursday afternoon. “The Special Olympics will be funded, I just told my people,” he told reporters in Washington.

We only need to raise a little hell to get a reaction. To all those who did, thanks.

White Nationalism Smacked Down On Facebook

There is good news to report about how a major social media platform is responding to the uptick in White Nationalism.

In a major policy shift Facebook banned white nationalism and white separatism on its platform.  There is no room for these hate groups to have a platform from which to spew their vile horse-rot.  This move marks a major reversal for the social media platform, whose previous internal policies told content moderators that white nationalist and white separatist content should be treated differently than white supremacist content.  That shade of gray provoked outrage and forced the top brass of Facebook to rethink their actions.

As part of the policy update, Facebook will also direct users searching for content related to white supremacy on its platform to Life After Hate, a nonprofit organization that provides support and education to help people leave hate groups and movements.  As we know, the most important thing is education for those who use hate as a tool.

More specifically, the company is going to ban “praise, support and representation of white nationalism and separatism” on both Facebook and Instagram.  Facebook said that it would start enforcing the new rules next week.   It can not come soon enough for this nation.   The long and short of it is that Facebook has now promised to weed out white supremacy from its site.

And so it goes.