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This is the cover of the Bloomberg Businessweek of March 6 – 12. There is a lead article about Stephen Miller, one of Trump’s advisors, and it speculates that it’s Miller who calls the shots, as you can see from the subtitle:

Is Stephen Miller speaking for Donald Trump? Or vice versa?

Miller has an impressive resume for a man that’s only 31 years old. My own daughter is only a few months younger than Miller, and I remember vividly the months when she was an infant, carrying her in a snugly for long walks in the evenings to tire her out before putting her into her crib. Right around the same time, Miller’s dad probably did that for him. That time seems like yesterday.

Now, this young man, half my age, appears to wield enormous power in the Oval Office. To find out how that happened, you have to read the Businessweek article.

But what gets me is his picture. I must admit, I don’t know Miller, but the few clips I have seen of him speaking gave me goosebumps, and his looks, his eyes and his demeanor appear outright sinister. He is one of those people I intuitively avoid when I cross paths with them in life.

They say you should not judge a book by its cover. But I am judging here, and I can’t help myself.

I do not have a good feeling about Stephen Miller.

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For those of us who thought that Trump might “clean up his act” once he was president now know: What we saw is what we got. Trump is a boor. Always been one, always will be one.

When he was a businessman in New York, he could trample on others, throw tantrums, sue people, stiff contractors and insult employees.

Now, the whole world is listening to every word that comes out of his mouth. And it’s not pretty. Trump speaks like a fourth grader, and he rambles. Listen carefully and you will notice that he says everything two or three times to fill dead air. A point that could be made with five well-chosen words expands into ten paragraphs of drivel. Only when he reads off paper or a teleprompter does he utter sentences, but they are stiff and wooden. He is not even a good reader, or his speech writers are bad writers so his words don’t ring real.

Here is the problem, though. As a CEO, if you can’t speak, or can’t control what you say, you’re being punished by your business and your customers. When you’re the president of a nation, you have the smartest people in the country paying attention to what you do and say, and the very sharpest foreign leaders and diplomats are at your table or next to you at the lectern.

These people can tell immediately when you don’t know what you’re talking about. Trump’s statements about NATO funding today were utterly ridiculous and simply exposed him as a fool. Every world leader knows that now. And worse, everyone who works for Trump, either his direct reports in the White House or Cabinet, or the people in the EPA, in NASA, in the CIA, FBI and the NSA – all highly intelligent, expertly educated, highly credentialed professionals – all cringe every time our Embarrassment-in-Chief opens his mouth or posts on Twitter.

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.

— attributed to Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln, and many others.

I know what Angela Merkel is thinking now, and it’s not just because I speak German.

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During the presidential campaign, I used to ridicule Ben Carson and state that he gave brain surgery a bad name. I recently blasted him for his comments on slavery.

So I decided to read up on Ben Carson:

He was the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland from 1984 until his retirement in 2013. As a pioneer in neurosurgery, Carson’s achievements include performing the only successful separation of conjoined twins joined at the back of the head, pioneering the first successful neurosurgical procedure on a fetus inside the womb, performing the first completely successful separation of type-2 vertical craniopagus twins, developing new methods to treat brain-stem tumors, and reviving hemispherectomy techniques for controlling seizures. He became the youngest chief of pediatric neurosurgery in the country at age 33. He has received more than 60 honorary doctorate degrees, dozens of national merit citations, and written over 100 neurosurgical publications. In 2008, he was bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.

— Wikepedia

Now he is the Secretary of HUD.

Dude, what in the world happened to you? Get away from Trump and do some more brain surgery!

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You can’t make this stuff up. Ryan is aghast because the healthy are paying for the sick. Congressman John Shimkus of Illinois doesn’t think men should pay for prenatal care. There is this odd sentiment that the healthy should not pay for the sick.

It’s called INSURANCE, gentle congressmen!

I have automobile insurance so I never, ever use it. I have it so I have coverage in the extremely remote event that I do some serious damage to some other person or vehicle, and I am not bankrupted by my mistake – or accident. Everyone that does not have accidents pays for those that do. That’s what we have insurance for.

I have fire insurance for my home so if I am unfortunate enough and my iron fails and burns down my house, I get it replaced. Everyone else’s money pays for my house. I have paid homeowners insurance for 40 years, and never once used it. I am sincerely hoping that I will never use it. Yet, I gladly pay. That’s what we have insurance for.

Health insurance is no different. It’s designed to cover me against catastrophic illness, accident, or other medical misfortune. It’s the job of the actuaries to find out how much it takes from the public to pay for the sick. Younger people pay less. They are less likely to need it. Older people pay more. Smokers should pay more. That’s what the Affordable Care Act was all about.

It’s called insurance.

 

 

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Immigrant Statistics

Our prisons are bursting with illegals right now.

— Donald Trump

Well, let’s take a look at the numbers:

For the American-born population of males 18 – 39 years old, 3.3% are in prison. That’s a huge number. In contrast, for foreign-born men 18 – 39, 1.6% of them are in prison. So the likelihood of being in prison for an immigrant is less than half of that of an American-born man.

12.9% of the United States population is foreign-born. I am one of those.

Here are some “success” numbers:

immigrant-statistics-1

From this chart you can see that immigrants are much more educated than American-born, on average, in all categories. It’s most obvious and overwhelming in the Ph.D. categories in engineering and sciences.

Also, immigrants are twice as likely to start businesses, 41% of them have college degrees, versus 30% of American-born population.

This is not to say that illegal immigration isn’t a problem in the United States. It is. It is a problem that needs solving. But after decades of Congress not doing anything about it but whining, it is completely irresponsible by the president to foment immigrant hatred that covers all foreign-born people in its dragnet, illegal or not. The bigots among the population are now feeling empowered to abuse immigrants indiscriminately. People are getting killed on the streets based on the color of their skins.

It is right to enforce the laws of the country. It is not right to create or stir up vigilantism against people who “look different” or “speak another language.” Our president has a responsibility to calm the nation, to protect its citizens and to enforce its laws.

This president, however, incites fear and bigotry with his rhetoric, he lashes out indiscriminately against entire groups of people, he divides and he spreads misinformation.

He says immigration is a problem in the United States.

No, it is not a problem. Immigration creates jobs, raises the level of education, and produces the most industrious and productive section of our population. Lashing out at immigration does not make America great, it makes America shrivel.

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Paul Ryan Knows

paul_ryan_official_speaker_portraitPaul Ryan can’t lose, and he knows it.

I don’t know Ryan personally, I have never met him, but I can see by the look in his eyes that he knows what’s going on in the White House right now is a travesty. But he’s holding tight, he’s walking with the party, because he has a plan.

If the Trump administration goes down in flames, for instance by impeachment due to a constitutional transgression the Congress can’t continue to cover for, we have a Pence administration, provided that Pence does not go down with Trump along the way.

If both Trump and Pence were to go down in flames, Ryan is next in line as the Speaker of the house, and we’d have a Ryan administration.

For 2020, Pence, by himself, is not electable. Since Trump would run again, he’d likely ask Pence to stay on. Pence is too uninspiring a personality to win the presidency on his own.

Ryan will run against Trump in 2020 and he will beat him in the primaries by a landslide. The country will have had three years of a Trump presidency, it will have dozens of scandals to point to, and incompetence to point out. Trump will be toast.

Ryan has already gained national campaign experience with Romney, so he knows the ropes. He also knows he can beat Trump easily. Ryan is only 47 years old now, approximately the age Obama was when he took office. That’s young.

Whether it’s 2020, or 2024, or 2028, we will see a president Ryan in the United States.

The only question I have is: Who are the Democrats going to put forward to oppose this formidable challenger?

 

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Well, Speaker Ryan, the problem as I see it is this: The Republican-controlled Congress, from 2000 through 2008, and then again from 2010 through 2016, has not done one thing to deal with this problem of healthcare in our nation. The Affordable Care Act may not be perfect, but it’s one hell of a lot more and therefore better than the big NOTHING the Republicans provided in all those years in control.

Now, if you get to work and produce a healthcare product that works, that’s less expensive, that covers preexisting conditions, and that does not kick millions of Americans off what they have now, GREAT. We will all welcome that.

So, please, refrain from upsetting the apple cart until you show us the orange cart – pun intended.

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U. S. President Donald Trump is depicted beheading the Statue of Liberty in this illustration on the cover of the latest issue of German news magazine Der Spiegel. Spiegel/Handout via REUTERS

U. S. President Donald Trump is depicted beheading the Statue of Liberty in this illustration on the cover of the latest issue of German news magazine Der Spiegel.

— Spiegel/Handout via REUTERS

 

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The term “Leader of the Free World” may have been appropriate for Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson. I am not so sure about Nixon, Carter and Ford. Ok, maybe Reagan was the last Leader of the Free World.

What’s the “free world?” Is China free? With the onslaught of Chinese tourists all over the world, I would say yes. China is free. Is Russia free? I think so. The only countries not free are North Korea, Cuba, a few African countries – mostly un-free due to their economic plight, and a surprising number of Middle-Eastern countries, in their own way. Did I forget one?

What’s a “leader?” If you had asked anyone in Europe if they considered Bush or Obama their leader, they would have laughed at you. Trump is bringing this to a whole new level. By spouting self-aggrandizing bluster about America first, he is making sure that nobody, anywhere, thinks he might be the leader of the free world. The whole concept of leader of the free world is now dying with Trump.

Leadership implies that the leader does something that others admire, aspire to or want to follow. None of that holds true for Trump.

Let’s do the math. America has not quite 5% of the population of the world. Out of 127 million people who voted in the last election, 62 million, or about 47% of them voted for Trump.

That means that only about 0.88% of the world’s population voted for Trump. He is the leader of those 0.88% or 62 million Americans that voted for him. He has command over the world’s most powerful military, so yes, he is probably the most powerful man in the world right now, but leader of the free world he is not.

Unfortunately, due to the damage he is going to do to the image of the United States in the world, his successors are going to have to work for a long time to reestablish any semblance of leadership.

And that brings me to my final point: With Trump openly withdrawing the United States from the world, by threatening to pull out of NATO or the UN, and by implementing protectionist trade policies, he is signaling to everyone, including our strongest ally, that America can no longer be relied upon. He is abandoning the leadership role.

China will be more than happy to step into that vacuum and take over as leader, and others will follow. Trump thinks he is making America great again, but he must not understand that America is not a planet, it’s a country, one that is completely dependent on the rest of the world for trade.

Leader of the free world is a hackneyed and trite term. We should stop using it, as it does not make sense any longer.

 

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[Warning for my religious readers and friends: If you are offended by criticism of religion, do not read any further. I am not holding back here.]

Watching Trump’s inaugural ceremony was painful for me. The speech was dark, negative, and without vision. It portrayed an America reminiscent of Mad Max movies. What world does Trump live in? The speech was insulting, degrading and inappropriate. Listening to it, I was embarrassed for my country and my president. You’d think after a year and a half of practice, Trump would have gained some oratory skills by now. But all he did here was present a wooden delivery by reading the teleprompter, and even that he did poorly, with incongruent cadence and unnatural rhythm. I can’t wait for the State of the Union!

And what’s with all the preachers? Paula White is basically a fake minister, but Trump calls her a spiritual advisor:

Her former ministry, the Without Walls International Church, was one of six investigated in the past decade by the Senate Finance Committee over possible financial improprieties. At the time, Ms. White and her husband, Randy, from whom she is now divorced, refused to cooperate with the inquiry, and kept their lavish spending hidden behind tax laws that allowed religious organizations to operate tax-free with little transparency.

— Noah Weiland, NY Times, Jan 19, 2017

I don’t remember how many “prayers” Obama’s inauguration featured, but I remember none of them. If they were there, they didn’t get in the way. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t object to an occasional invocation at public events. Every Toastmasters club has invocations.

But Trump’s entire ceremony was full references to God and Jesus and boring sections of obscure scripture. Especially when the Jewish Rabbi Marvin Hier droned and blared, everyone tuned out. There was nothing really to listen to. Everyone just waited for him to be done so they could get on with it.

What happened to the separation of church and state? It does not make me comfortable at all that our president and vice president look to a fictional fairy in the sky for guidance and protection of the country. If preachers in their churches do that, so be it. Their congregations signed up for it, are paying for it, and getting their entertainment as required and expected. But this is a country, and I didn’t subscribe to this nonsense.

I do not believe for a minute that grab-them-by-the-pussy Trump even believes in God. I think he is making it all up because it is impossible to run for any office in America as an atheist. The only group more reviled in America than atheists are – probably – communists. I didn’t believe Obama was religious either, but at least he lied about his “faith” gracefully. Rumor is out that Zuckerberg is getting himself ready to run for office in the future, and all of a sudden he is no longer an atheist. He has found his Jewish heritage. I call bullshit on both Trump and Zuckerberg.

The sappy invocations, snake-oil prayers and praising of Jesus at a secular event in a nation that is supposed to keep church and state separate was disheartening. It made me sick.

Now we handed Trump the keys to the White House, along with a free ride on Air Force One and access to the nuclear button. I hope, for all of us, that he governs with more thought and sensibility than he speaks at inaugurations.

Or God help us all.

 

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flags

Symbols from the Nazi-era, such as the swastika or the “Heil Hitler” salute are illegal in Germany. Since the end of WWII, the country has been making a concerted effort to distance itself from the crimes of its past, and it tries to prevent future catastrophes like the Third Reich.

In the United States, in the age of Trump, both the swastika and the Confederate flag have resurged in yards, on the backs of pickup trucks and at rallies and other political events and demonstrations.

I have never been able to understand how the Confederate flag in the United States of the 21st century can have such a strong foothold. It has become a symbol of power for some people, of course. Arguments are that the Confederate flag represents people’s heritage and should therefore be honored and cherished.

I challenge that view. If a family can trace its lineage back to an individual that fought in the Civil War under the Confederate flag, and died for it, yes, I acknowledge that there is family tradition and honor involved. But I believe that 99.99% of the time, the person brandishing the flag cannot identify such lineage. Most people can’t identify the names even of their great-great-grandparents. I certainly can’t. That would bring me back to about 1880 or so. 1865, not a chance.

So, unless a person served in the Civil War under General Lee and died, the Confederate flag has no direct meaning with respect to a family’s heritage.

For the vast majority of people in the United States, the flag is a symbol of slavery, and the misery and oppression it brought to millions of people for many decades. It is a symbol of continued oppression for another 100 or so years until the major civil rights activities of the 1960s. It is a symbol of hate against minorities in the most recent decades.

And it is a symbol of treason of the southern states against the union.

I do not understand how our society accepts the Confederate flag as it does, being that it stands for oppression, hate and treason.

The only justifiable purpose I see is the expression of free speech, a right bestowed upon us by the First Amendment to the Constitution.

You have a right to fly the flag, but you must know that the vast majority of us view it as a symbol of oppression, hate and treason.

Or is it the vast majority of us?

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tweet-trump-1

Read the entire tirade here – this is priceless.

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Here is a link to the entire transcript of the Trump interview with the New York Times.

Several thoughts come to mind:

  • Our new president is a rambler
  • Our new president can’t talk about his office without talking about his hotels and golf courses
  • He compared Breitbart to the New York Times

Read for yourself. I am stunned about how unprepared this man is just for an interview.

How prepared is he to be president?

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The Bigotry of Mike Pence

During his public career, Pence has been an outspoken opponent of equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens. In Congress, he opposed efforts to encourage foreign governments to decriminalize homosexuality and sought to block the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. As a governor, he stood against not only marriage equality, but civil unions as well. He also opposed a law prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people in the workplace and signed one opening the door to wide-ranging discrimination against these residents of his own state under the guise of religious liberty.

Chrys Kefalas in the Washington Post

What causes a politician to do things like that? Why would you go out of your way to actively take away rights of fellow citizens? Ok, he obviously doesn’t like homosexual people.

This country is founded on the principles of equal rights for all. Some people are gay, some are black, some are atheist, some speak Spanish, some are Muslim, some are short, some are tall, and some are female.

But they’re all people.

What gives the white male politicians the right to take away the liberties of others that are not like them? Because they were born white?

White male politicians, leave the people alone. Stay out of their bedrooms, prayer halls, libraries and schools. Let the people live their own lives!

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acluI just made a donation to the ACLU. Their website is www.aclu.org. I encourage all my readers to go to their site right now and make a donation. Donate now and donate often. The ACLU is one of our best chances to keep the Trump bandwagon in legal check. If Trump keeps going the way he went in the last few days, applying nepotism in his appointments, marketing his products and brand from the power of the presidency, and surrounding himself with crackpot bigots like Bannon, we as a country and citizenry will need all the representation we can get. With every day that goes by, he confirms my worst fears. We’re going to need help.

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