Category Archives: Politics

Save Noura

Noura Hussein lives in Sudan. And that’s likely where she will die. Very soon. At 16 years old, her family forced her to marry a man she did not want to marry. She refused to consummate the marriage, and so he raped her.

The first rape occurred with the help of his family. They pinned her down while her new husband forced sex on her.

He attempted the second rape by himself. Big mistake. Noura took up a knife and stabbed him to death. But this was a big mistake for Noura, also. She was arrested and charged with premeditated murder.

Now this young, underaged child, who was forced into marriage and raped, has been sentenced to death by hanging, by a Sharia court. Self-defense is apparently no excuse for women who are raped by their husbands, under Sharia law. Her lawyers have until May 25th to save her.

The clock is ticking. Soon Noura’s fate will be sealed.

But apparently the international community is trying to put pressure on the Sudanese government to spare her life. If you have a Twitter account there is a way you can help, by signing some sort of petition. I don’t Tweet, so I have no idea how this works. But here are a few hashtags you can try:

#JusticeForNoura
#Save Noura

Dalia al Najjar brought this story to my attention in her blog. She’s from Gaza, and occasionally posts very interesting articles about her life as a Palestinian from that area. Here’s a link to her blog:

https://daliaalnjjar.wordpress.com/2018/05/19/getting-married-too-soon-or-too-late

And here are a few other links, if you want to read more about Noura:

https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/hammad-sjbn/

https://www.yahoo.com/news/sudan-teens-death-penalty-puts-spotlight-womens-rights-044018167.html

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/may/14/sudan-urged-pardon-teenager-facing-death-for-killing-husband-who-raped-her-noura-hussein

Stolen Quote: Shithole Countries

Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here? ~ Donald Trump


This question was asked by our president very close to the Martin Luther King, Jr holiday. So I thought I’d just go ahead and steal the quote from Big Orange, and answer it for him on this day.

First of all, unlike so many of our president’s critics, I agree that there really are some shithole countries out there. I’m with you on that point, Mr. Prez.

I know I sure as hell wouldn’t want to live in a country like Haiti. Nor would I want to live in just about any country in Africa. From what I hear on the news, these countries are rife with all kinds of problems, such as poverty and corruption. And then there are the civil wars, religious fighting, dictatorships, and on and on.

No, I agree, there really are some shithole countries beyond our borders.

But the question you asked, Mr. President, is why are we allowing people from those countries come here?

The way I see it, most of our ancestors came from shithole countries. I’m part Irish and British, and a bunch of other European blood. When the Irish immigrated here they were escaping famine, poverty, British oppression, and so on. What a shithole country Ireland was back then.

For that matter, when the pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, they too were escaping a shithole country. What shits the British were, for all the religious persecution that drove those pilgrims onto the Mayflower.

And every other European country has been a shithole country at one time or another.

America has traditionally been a place of escape from shithole countries. That’s why we allow the poor huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, to reach our shores and inhale deeply.

If this has been harmful to us, then we would be one of the worst countries in the world to live in. But in spite of our problems, and we do have a few, I say we are one of the best, if not THE best nation on earth. In fact I would go so far as to say that immigration is one of the main reasons we have such a great country.

The escapees who travel so far to reach our shores tend to be the brightest and best. Consider their motivation. Consider that they come here to better themselves. Consider that they want to live free and prosperous. These are the very kind of motivated folks we want. They are like our ancestors, who built this great nation. They are willing to work hard to make a better life for themselves, and their community.

We skim the cream of the crop from the shithole nations. We win, they lose. Maybe after they lose enough of their best and brightest they’ll learn to treat their citizens better, and stop being such shitholes.

So there’s the best answer I can give to our President (other than the way I cast my vote in 2020).

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr day to you! And whether you are an immigrant or not, may all your dreams come true.

The Beauty of Climate Change

I think most folks really haven’t grasped the utter splendor and beauty of climate change. Especially the folks in our government. Recently, David Smith, the superintendent for Joshua Tree National Park, got chewed out by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, just for bringing up the subject.

On November 8th, Joshua Tree National Park posted some tweets that left officials in the Trump administration feeling alarmed and disturbed. Tweets such as the following:

An overwhelming consensus—over 97%–of climate scientists—agree that human activity is the driving force behind today’s rate of global temperature increase.

and

Current models predict the suitable habitat for Joshua trees may be reduced by 90% in the future with a 3°C (5.4°F) increase in average temperature over the next 100 years.

Secretary Zinke himself was so upset about these tweets that he had the reprobate Smith flown all the way to Washington, DC so he could vent to him in person. When Mr. Smith went to Washington, he made it clear to him, and all other national park superintendents, that the Trump administration doesn’t want national parks to put out official communications on climate change.

You can read more on this story by clicking this link: Trump’s Tantrum Over Terrible Tweets.

Anyway, I believe everyone is missing the point. Climate change is nothing we should feel ashamed of. Climate change is beautiful!

Drought and warmer temperatures are killing off pinyon pines in the Southwest. But you can’t help admire how majestic this pine skeleton appears, near the Pine City trail in Joshua Tree National Park, with its naked branches pointing upward, as if imploring something from the heavens.

I live near Joshua Tree National Park, and hike there frequently. I have snapped many photos of our park, and some of these pics graphically demonstrate the beautiful effects climate change has had on our environment.

Another expired pinyon, in the Pine City area of Joshua Tree National Park, lifts its lacy tendrils upward, as if it were shouting, “Why?! Why?!” How inspiring.

Please take a moment to drink in the awesome scenes. Reflect on the beauty of nature, and how we humans have improved the pulchritude of our parks with the artistic touch of carbon emissions.

This fallen pinyon, on the West Side Loop Trail, advertises the beauty of its bark, as it dehydrates, and strips of its integument selectively peel away. The brindle-striped pattern that remains is stunning.

This is the tallest pinyon pine in Joshua Tree National Park, and in fact, one of the tallest in the United States. Its towering form invites the question, “How did it achieve such lofty heights?” And, “What made it stop growing?” You can find this majestic spectacle on the eponymous Big Pine Trail–a trail established for nature lovers at a time when this tree was just another ugly example of living biology.

This view atop Ryan mountain shows off the mysterious beauty of carbon haze, as it enshrouds rocky inselbergs in the distance.

Barker Dam was built by cowboys in the early 1900s. Bill Keys, a historic pioneer of this park, extended its height after the cowboys left, so that Bighorn Sheep could use it year-round for water. But bah-h-h humbug to those sheep. Drink in the beauty of the sinuous lines and water-level marks left by the extended droughts of global warming. What a work of art!

Instead of trying to hide from climate change, and shirking our responsibility for causing it, let’s put it on display with all its magnificence and beauty, point to it, and proudly proclaim, “Here is what we humans have accomplished!”

Brush fires have devastated large swathes of Joshua Tree National Park, leaving denuded areas such as this. Twenty years ago a forest of Joshua trees thrived in this spot. But a massive blaze left the desert floor studded with silvery skeletons of Yucca Brevifolia, except this lone survivor. Magnifico, eh! To capture this artistic impression of loneliness I had to commence hiking on the Quail Springs trail before sunrise, to be there in time for the long shadows of short shrubs. But it was worth it, to see the long shadows cast by puny creatures. Thank you global warming, and all the wildfires you have so generously bestowed upon us!

When He Came Back

saturndevouringhisson_by_peterpaulrubens_1636

I was ten years old when my mother divorced him. I didn’t know at the time that he had molested my sisters. Neither did she. Nobody knew but them, and they kept their dark little secret to themselves until they became adults. I just knew about the abuse we all knew about. His verbal abuse against my mother and all of us children.

I also knew that he could be fun to be around at times, but then in the middle of the fun he would turn on us. He’d lash out and belittle us and threaten physical violence. He’d lure us into relaxing and showing our vulnerabilities, and then he’d move in for the attack.

He rarely actually resorted to physical violence, but his verbal assaults and threats were terrifying, just the same.

So when my mother divorced him, I felt relieved. Very, very relieved. My spirit lightened. The world looked bright and new. I learned how to relax and be vulnerable and how to play, without fearing the mercurial temperment of a sadistic stepfather.

My new stepfather was a drunk. A likable drunk, but a terrible, falling-down drunk just the same. Two years after the wonderful divorce, my mother made a stunning announcement. She was leaving the drunk and going back to my previous stepfather.

I was now twelve. I pondered what it would be like to have that asshole as my stepdad again. And part of me was excited about the prospect. Maybe he would be different this time. Maybe he had changed. Maybe this time he’d only show us his fun side, and never the sadistic side. I actually looked forward to having him back in my life again.

I was young, naive, and possessed of youthful optimism. It’s the kind of optimism you develop after you’ve gone for awhile letting your guard down, without any harm coming to you.

But I was wrong. He was just as abusive as before. Maybe worse. My carefree childhood was over at the age of twelve. I had to put up the old guard and once again try to hide my vulnerabilities.

I went a little crazy in the ensuing years. But I also learned how to resist and and stand up to this bastard. My failure was letting myself go crazy. That took a long time to overcome. But my success was learning how to stand up for myself. It’s a lesson that has served me well ever since.

I draw from my childhood experience an important lesson for those who are happy, and for those who are horrified, about the recent presidential election.

When he came back, I hoped my stepfather would be a different, better person. He wasn’t. You see, he was a sexual predator. Just like the president-elect. Sexual predators have committed themselves deeply to taking advantage of the vulnerable. If they don’t sexually abuse them, then they abuse them in other ways. Because it’s not about sex, it’s about power and control. And they haven’t learned any other way to obtain power and control, than through abuse.

Based on my personal experience with the sexual predator who was my stepfather, I doubt our new president will change after he assumes office. I believe the next four to eight years will be difficult for vulnerable people who place trust in him. He will not save you. You must save yourself. The occasional good times you experience under his leadership will quickly be overshadowed by problems he will create for you. Be alert, and avoid complacency.

And for those who distrust him, keep in mind that the opposition party will not completely protect you from him. Just as my siblings did not completely protect me from my stepfather. We colluded, and tried our best to be strong together. But we only had limited success.

You must protect yourself. Do your very best to learn how to resist oppression and stand up for yourself. And be as self-sufficient as possible. Try as much as you can to avoid relying on political leaders. Your best hope lies within you, yourself.

And most importantly, don’t let yourself go crazy over this. Calm, objective reason and sanity is what you need most during a time of crisis. When you lose that, it can take a long time to recover it.

Take charge of your life and be your own salvation. That will give you your best chance of succeeding during the next presidency. And for the rest of your life afterward.

Our National Zzzz Debt

The election is almost here, and who the hell knows who’s going to win? But I think the loser will be our national debt. Neither Trump nor Clinton seem like they will do what it takes to lower our national debt.

Should we worry? I wasn’t sure, so I did some internet sleuthing to see if I could understand our national debt better.

According to http://www.usdebtclock.org/, the national debt is currently approaching 20 trillion dollars.

Are you bored yet? Yes? Okay, here’s a fun fact about the national debt. If you lay 20 trillion one-dollar bills end-to-end, they will wrap about three-quarters of the way around Donald Trump’s head. And they will nearly cover his mouth.

Who do you think our government owes the most money to? Did you answer China? If so, you get a big “nnnnnngggggg!!!”. You may have gotten that impression from listening to Donald Trump, but no, China is not our biggest creditor. But they are our biggest foreign creditor. We owe about 1.2 trillion dollars to that nation. A close second is Japan, who we owe 1.1 trillion dollars. Our total foreign debt is about 6.2 trillion dollars.

Actually the country our government owes the most to is the good ol’ USA. Our government borrows money from trusts owned by our government. This is called intergovernmental debt, and much of this borrowing is from the Social Security trust fund. We currently owe more than 6 trillion dollars to ourselves, with 3 trillion of that debt being owed to Social Security.

Aha! I caught you sleeping. So here’s another fun fact to keep you awake. The fiscal year 1835-1836 was the only year the U.S. Government has not been in debt. Which is the same year Bernie Sanders was born.

This guy was president the only time we had no national debt.

This guy was president the only time we had no national debt.

The best way to evaluate U.S. debt is as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product. Currently our public debt (which does not include intergovernmental debt) is at 77% of our GDP. But our total debt is about 106% of the GDP. Let’s check out Wiki, and look at total debt historically. Wait! Wake up!

Here’s a joke to get your eyes open. No? No more of my jokes? Y-you’d rather just slog through the dry facts? Well, shit. Okay.

In 1910, our ratio of total debt to GDP was just 8%. But by 1920, thanks to World War I, our percent of total debt to GDP had grown to 29%. But hey, war is hell and hell is expensive.

By 1930 it shrank to 17%. This was at the start of the Great Depression, which some say was triggered by tight monetary policies. But in 1940, thanks to Roosevelt’s New Deal, it had risen to about 48%. And in 1950, after World War II, the expenses of global warfare had caused the debt ratio to skyrocket to 92%.

But by 1980 it had shrank to 32%, thanks to three decades of high progressive income tax rates. However, those income tax rates were drastically reduced under President Reagan’s trickle-down economic plan of the 1980s, which cut the top tax rate from 70% to 28%. By the year 2000, our shrinking ratio of total debt to GDP had reversed course and risen to 56%.

In 2008, after Bush cut our taxes and started two wars, the ratio was up to 68%. Then the housing market collapsed and the Great Recession struck. The government moved in to bail out Wall Street and just two years later, in 2010, the percentage was towering at 92%, and rising.

Today it is at 106% of our GDP, thanks to whatever the hell happened this year. It had actually declined from 103% to 101% from 2014 to 2015. This year’s jump illustrates just how difficult it is to get our national debt under control.

I see no better way to control and reduce the national debt ratio other than to reintroduce the high progressive income tax rates of post-World War II. We can’t seem to cut our way out of this. Yet no major Presidential candidate other than Bernie Sanders has had the political balls to propose such a thing. And Bernie lost.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported in 2009, that the United States is on a “fiscally unsustainable” path because of projected future increases in Medicare and Social Security spending. Their trust funds will run out of money, and the government won’t be able to pay back what it owes these funds.

Old folks often vote for politicians who promise lower taxes. Perhaps when they get hit with high medical bills and lower Social Security benefits, they’ll change their tune.

Wait a second, I’m one of those old folks.

Expect to see me right there at the forefront of the new, old-fogie revolution. I’ll be pushing politicians to raise taxes on the rich, and get our national debt under control.

If, by that time, I’m not dead.

Okay I’m finished now. WAKE UP!!

Dearest Donald

I like Hillary Clinton, but she has one big weakness. She’s technologically challenged. Which makes her emails super-easy to hack.

I decided to get in on the action. I mean damn, why should all those other hackers have all the fun? So I, too, decided to hack Hillary’s emails.

It was a cinch to guess her password: “Feeling_Berned”. But most of what I found in her server was disappointing. It was just a bunch of banausic, everyday stuff. For example, there was a message to Bill, reminding him to do the laundry. And there was a small missive to her son-in-law, Marc, asking for the definition of the word shemozzle.

And then I stumbled upon a bombshell. A real smoking gun. An email that could blow the lid right off the Clinton campaign.

I really want Hillary to win. But I’m going to shamelessly share this email with you, and the rest of the world, anyway. That’s because I want the credit for this scoop before some other hacker takes credit. I’m trying to become rich and famous, you know. I just hope Donald Trump will keep his mouth shut for at least one friggin’ day, so that this real Hillary scandal can get enough oxygen to survive and grow.

Otherwise this email, like all the others, will be completely ignored, and lost like a needle in a Trump-hair-shaped haystack.

So here goes. This is the bombshell email from Hillary that I hacked, that I desperately hope will make me famous:

HillaryEmail

Dearest Donald:

I want to thank you once again for being such a good friend. Remember that conversation we had eleven years ago, when I attended your wedding? Hell, I thought you were joking. Especially since you were a Democrat at the time. But it turns out you are a stand-up man who really keeps your word.

When you joined the Republican Party (for the third time) in 2012, I still didn’t think you’d actually go through with it. Until June of last year, when you rode down an escalator, insulted Mexicans, and announced you were running for the job I want.

Donald, you are a genius! Who would have thought that a billionairre could win over all those Republican voters by acting like a redneck hillbilly? You did what you promised me, so many years ago. You won the GOP nomination!

And now you are doing such a tremendous job at throwing the election my way. Just as you promised. For every gaffe I make, and every scandal I find myself in, you match me ten times over. You seem really determined to make sure I’ll get elected.

One suggestion: It’s my goal to win all 50 states. But I’m still lagging badly in Texas. Now you know how Texans are so proud. And you know how much it hurts to have a bruised ego. If you could piss off the Texans by, say, commenting on their actual penis size, maybe their damaged egos will enrage them enough to vote for me.

But with all your scripted and unscripted lapsus linguae, please don’t let this secret arrangement of ours slip out. Remember, this email is highly confidential. Bill and I have dealt with enough shit, like Whitewater, Troopergate, Travelgate, Vince Foster, Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky, Juanita Brodderick, impeachment, Benghazi, speaking fees, The Clinton Foundation, and private server whatchamacallits. We don’t need to add “Trumpgate” to the list.

Anyway, keep up the good work. And if you ever need anything–anything at all–please let me know. Just wait until after January 20th. Remember, I’ll always be indebted.

Yours Truly,
Hillary

Bernie’s Chances

Is it possible for Elephants to do something sensible? I guess eventually, when they remember to. Over this past week, two Republicans came to their senses and did the sensible thing. They dropped out. So long, Ted Cruz and John Kasich! See ya in three years.

This leaves just one contender fighting an uphill battle for a nomination, and that is Bernie Sanders on the Donkey side. Is this man insane, or does he have a reasonable chance to beat Hillary Clinton for the nomination? He thinks so, and says he’s aiming for a contested convention, where he will win over unpledged delegates (super delegates), and become the Democratic Party’s standard bearer.

Let’s crunch the numbers, to see if Bernie is in his right mind.

There will be 4,765 total delegates at the Democratic National Convention this July. Of these, 4,051 will be pledged delegates. This means they will be bound by rules to vote for whomever they were assigned to vote for, after their state primary or caucus. At least in the first round of voting.

2,383 delegates are needed for nomination. After Bernie’s victory in Indiana on May 3rd, he had 1,414 pledged delegates, and 41 unpledged delegates. Hillary had 1,704 pledged delegates, and 498 unpledged delegates. It seems a lot more unpledged delegates support Hillary than Bernie. But Bernie vows to change that.

Bernie currently needs 928 more delegates to secure the nomination. There are 1,108 delegates remaining, so that means he needs 84% of these remaining delegates to beat Hillary. If he wants to beat Hillary with pledged delegates only, then he needs 969 more pledged delegates. However, there are only 933 pledged delegates remaining. Therefore it’s impossible for Bernie to win the nomination in this manner. This explains why he says he’s going to make a play for the super delegates at the convention.

It seems to me that if Bernie is going to have any chance of winning over the super delegates at the convention, he has to enter the convention with more pledged delegates than Hillary. This seems possible. Hillary currently has 1,704 pledged delegates, which is only 290 more than Bernie. In fact, Hillary would have to win 73% of the remaining pledged delegates before she can secure the nomination with no help from super delegates. It’s highly unlikely she will do this.

Super delegates can change their minds at any time. So the super delegates Hillary currently has can jump ship for Bernie if they decide that is more politically expedient. And they probably would if Bernie entered the convention with more pledged delegates than Hillary. Bernie could then make the case that the majority of Democrats favored him, and not his opponent. Super delegates would have a hard time justifying their votes for Hillary.

If Bernie is to overtake Hillary in pledged delegates before the convention, he will need to win 66% of the remaining available pledged delegates. That is a very steep hill to climb. Not impossible, and if Bernie is the little engine that could, who knows, perhaps he’ll make it. But first he has to win over California. California has 475 delegates to divvy up. It’s the big enchilada. And recent polling shows Hillary with a double-digit lead over Bernie in the Golden State.

Bernie’s challenge is to not only close that double-digit lead over Hillary by June 7th (California’s Primary day), but to also take a strong lead. I mean a VERY strong lead. To the tune of about 66% to 33%.

California may have to fall into the ocean, for Bernie to win.

California may have to fall into the ocean, for Bernie to win.

Under what scenario could this happen? Here’s a few that come to my mind: Hillary gets indicted for reckless e-mailing. Hillary divorces Bill and becomes engaged to Donald Trump (after he, of course, divorces Melania). Hillary announces that she still supports Barry Goldwater. Hillary’s birth certificate reveals she was born in Kenya. Hillary proclaims that California is full of a bunch of commie hippies, and expresses a desire for it to fall into the ocean after the next earthquake. Or, California actually does fall into the ocean, while Bernie wins big in all the other states.

In other words, this is mostly Hillary’s football to fumble. Can Bernie still beat her? Sure he can. Will he? Don’t sell your bank stocks short on it.

My bet is on Hillary.

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