Nothing to see here. Move along. (US House of Representatives)

Devin_Nunes,_officialI wasn’t holding my breath.

I suppose I can spin it to say my Congressman, Devin Nunes, did exactly what I expected, so that it almost sounds like a positive. But when you are expecting to get clobbered, having it happen isn’t all that wonderful. (and that’s exactly what he did to his constituents, clobbered them with higher taxes. Well, not his political constituents. Not the moneyed interests that send him huge checks every year. Those folks are having their needs well met. It’s just the majority of the voters in his district that are going to get clobbered.)

Nunes voted “aye” on H. R. 1, the latest tax and spend bill by the Republicans. (yes, I know. “Tax and spend” is supposed to be the Democratic party’s theme. The GOP has usurped it, lock stock and barrel.)

Tax the poor and middle class, and, in effect, spend it by cutting the taxes of wealthy individuals and large corporations. Further cuts are planned in Medicare and Social Security. The individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act is on the chopping block, in a stealth maneuver to include it as an amendment in the Senate version of the bill. (The GOP couldn’t repeal the ACA, even after more than fifty attempts, and even after they controlled the House, the Senate, and the White House. Now their best effort is to try to gut it with amendments in unrelated bills.) The loss of the mandate, a conservative idea that used to be the apple of their eye even for far-right ideologues like Mitch McConnell (until a certain President adopted it as part of his plan), will drive up insurance rates across the board, as millions are thrown off the insurance rolls. Kaweah Delta, Sierra View, and (assuming it comes back) Tulare District hospitals are going to see a dramatic increase in un-insured patients landing at their emergency room doors. We’ll save some bucks by not subsidizing insurance plans, but we’ll end up paying bazillions more in emergency room costs. This brought to you by those who are supposed to be fiscal conservatives, and good with money.

Nunes voted “aye”.

In a district that covers some of the poorest areas of California, he voted “aye”.

“Aye” to increasing the taxes on those making $10,000 to $75,000 a year. Cutting taxes for those making $200,000 to $500,000. REALLY cutting taxes for the highest income brackets.

“Aye” to cutting the estate tax, so that silver-spoon set can inherit mommy and daddy’s money with no pesky government auditors asking for a small share.

“Aye” to no longer taxing American corporations for profits made overseas. Watch how domestic operations suddenly begin to run at a loss, while foreign profits (non-taxable) soar, once that becomes law.

It’s almost like the Russians have taken control of our government, and are working to destroy the United States. Without firing a single shot.

Yeah. Congress(man Nunes) these days: “Nothing to see here. Move along.”

Trump: Putin, trustworthy. CIA, NSA, FBI (+14 more), political hacks

putin_wink_API first intended to write a short blog about Armistice Day history, celebrated in the United States since 1954 as Veteran’s Day, but then President Trump, as is his wont, made another public comment that screeches like a needle across a record.

“I mean, give me a break, they are political hacks,” Trump said, of former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and former FBI Director James Comey. “So you look at that and you have President Putin very strongly, vehemently says he had nothing to do with them (attempts to disrupt the 2016 elections).”

The CIA responded today: “The Director stands by and has always stood by the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment entitled: Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections. The intelligence assessment with regard to Russian election meddling has not changed.” The Director is Mike Pompeo, a Trump appointee.

The Intelligence Community Assessment lays out the findings of the investigations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Trump is dismissing the conclusions of the finest intelligence organizations in the world, and taking the word of a former KGB agent.

The President claims “You can only ask so many times,” and that he wants to work with Putin, “I can’t stand there and argue with him, I would rather have him get out of Syria, I would rather get to work with him on the Ukraine.” So the secret to deflecting the United States is simply to tell Trump “nyet” enough times, and he’ll fold and leave the table. Left unsaid was the likely real reason he doesn’t want to challenge Putin: the ongoing attempts, started during the campaign, to secure a deal on “Trump Tower Moscow”.

President Obama slapped sanctions on Putin and his cronies for their meddling, and since Trump has a pathological hatred of anything done by POTUS 44, Hair Furor can’t let the sanctions stand, or accept the findings of the intelligence community. He’ll take the KGB’s word over the CIA’s. That’s got to do wonders for the morale of our intelligence operatives around the world.

It’s “SAD” (to use a favorite part of many of Trump’s Tweets) when the President of the United States is so easily manipulated by a foreign tyrant. Putin’s goal has always been to sow discord in the West, and he’s succeeded beyond even his wildest dreams. It’s going to take a long time for the United States, NATO, and other western alliances and governments to undo the damage that’s been done. We can begin by getting Trump out of office as soon as possible, and tossing his supporters and co-conspirators out of Congress.

As for today, we thank and honor our Veterans. Their service and sacrifice stands as a shining example of patriotism in it’s truest form.

I especially want to salute LGBT Veterans for their service. Many had to serve in the closet, and many were drummed out of the service simply for being LGBT. The current attempt by Trump and others to force transgender service members out is despicable, and we stand with them to resist this unconstitutional discrimination.

Trump may not respect the intelligence services of this country, or some members of the Armed Services, but know that he and his supporters are a minuscule minority in this country, and their actions will not stand.

Trump EPA appointee: Air too clean for children

clown-150x150You really can’t make this stuff up.

Scott Pruitt, administrator of the EPA for the Trump administration, has appointed Robert Phalen to the Scientific Advisory Board. In 2012, Phalen told the American Association for the Advancement of Science that “modern air is a little too clean for optimum health”.

Phalen is an air pollution researcher at the Irvine campus of the University of California. He’s been in that field for a long time, so one would assume that he should know what he’s talking about. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Phalen has said that children need irritants in the air, so their lungs learn how to ward them off. Much as Mithridates VI, King of Pontus, is said to have taken small amounts of various poisons to build up an immunity to them, the EPA’s latest appointment to the gutted advisory board says children need pollution to be healthy.

At least he knows he’s off the wall. He told AAAS “My most important role in science is causing trouble and controversy”.

So, if you’re a Trump supporter, how much pollution are you willing to expose your children to, in order to keep them “healthy”? How many parents in the central valley with children who have asthma are willing to let the air get dirtier? Trump won the valley by a handy margin, and now the chickens are coming home to roost. That isn’t cackling and cock-a-doodle-doo you hear, that’s the sound of your children coughing. But don’t worry, it’s good for them. Robert Phalen, Scott Pruitt, and Donald Trump say so.

Nunes votes to reauthorize CHIP, but…

Devin_Nunes,_officialI’ve often taken Representative Devin Nunes to task for things he’s done in Congress, and now we have something that is a case of doing the right thing for all the wrong reasons.

On Thursday, Nunes voted in favor of H.R. 3922, the CHAMPION Act in a procedural vote. Today the House passed it “without objection”, using something called “Rule H. Res. 601”.  The downside of this bill, and you know there had to be one, is that it will try to balance spending for it’s programs by cutting funding from other areas, and, according to Democrats, trying to further undermine the Affordable Care Act. Since the Republicans can’t get their act together enough to simply repeal the ACA outright, it’s clear they’ll sabotage it every chance they get.

The Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which voted strictly along party lines to advance the bill to the House floor, write, “While we support the reauthorization of the critical public health programs included in the CHAMPION Act, we cannot support doing so using the partisan offsets the Republicans have proposed in this bill. Rather than working together to identify offsets that we all could support, the Committee Republicans chose to continue their efforts to repeal and undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through this legislation.”

This blog started to be a compliment to Nunes for voting to support CHIP after Congress let it expire October 1st. As I read some of the details, however, it became apparent that my initial plan was simply not going to hold up. I suppose, based on Nunes’ history, that I should not have been surprised to find out this silver lining has a seriously dark cloud associated with it.

I’m finding it increasingly difficult to understand the thinking of Republicans in Congress these days. Even more than the usual negativity from them for the past decade or two, this current crop seems dead set to destroy as much of the government as possible, regardless of whom it hurts. Tax cuts for the rich, dismantling of pollution prohibitions, dismissal of science, and ignoring treason and collusion just don’t seem like the kind of leadership this great nation deserves.

I can understand conservatism, but I’m finding it impossible to understand Republicans.

“Delete (POTUS’ Twitter) Account?” ‘YES’ ‘NO’


In what has to be one of the best ‘walking out the door’ moments in employment history so far this century, someone at Twitter deleted the personal account of the President of the United States. Twitter says the account was restored in 11 minutes, and blamed an employee who was apparently enjoying their last moments as a Tweetmeister.

I can just imagine the panic that must have set upon the management there as they realized what had happened. “Restore! RESTORE!!!!!” as they furiously pound on the keyboard.

Someone buy that unemployed genius a beer, would you?

I wonder if Twitter will write him or her a recommendation letter?