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Open Thread……………………December 2016

wintersolsticeWhose woods are these?  I do not know.  Certainly none around these parts.  The Japanese maple outside my front door still has all its beautiful leaves.  Winter doesn’t seem to be right around the corner.

So what kind of winter will we have?  I have heard all sorts of predictions.  Cold, no snow.  Very snowy.  Warmer than usual.

What do the woolly caterpillars tell us?  I don’t know.  I never saw a one of them this year.  Nor were the fruit trees laden with fruit.  My holly tree doesn’t have a single berry.  Last year it was full.

 

It’s all a mystery to me.

The trashing of Lauren Batchelder

Washingtonpost.com:

About a year ago, 18-year-old college student Lauren Batchelder stood up at a political forum in New Hampshire and told Donald Trump that she didn’t think he was “a friend to women.”

The next morning, Trump fired back on Twitter — calling Batchelder an “arrogant young woman” and accusing her of being a “plant” from a rival campaign. Her phone began ringing with callers leaving threatening messages that were often sexual in nature. Her Facebook and email inboxes filled with similar messages. As her addresses circulated on social media and her photo flashed on the news, she fled home to hide.

“I didn’t really know what anyone was going to do,” said Batchelder, now 19, who has never discussed her experience with a reporter until now. “He was only going to tweet about it and that was it, but I didn’t really know what his supporters were going to do, and that to me was the scariest part.”

This is what happens when Trump targets a private citizen who publicly challenges him.

This was just the beginning of Ms. Batchelder’s problems:

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Old soldiers’ perspectives: Pearl Harbor

“The mothers suffered the most.”  I think the fathers suffer equally.  It’s hard to imagine that the ones who died were 17 and 18 years old.  That’s the age most kids graduate from high school.

Often Americans envision our military as “fighting men” when actually those men are really someone’s son or daughter.  When we are chest thumping and calling for blood, it is prudent to remember who really goes in on the front lines.

The survivors are few now.  Pearl Harbor is passing into the ages.
Another personal perspective

More reading:  Tom Brokaw:  Pearl Harbor is the birth place of America’s “Greatest Generation”

Pearl Harbor: 75th Anniversary

After 9-11, I asked my mother how it was different from Pearl Harbor and if she knew at the time how Pearl Harbor was going to affect all of them. She said on that Sunday afternoon, none of them had any idea just how life-altering the attack on Pearl Harbor would be on their lives. Most people had never heard of Pearl Harbor.

“Pearl Harbor” would soon be a household word in every American home.  Yes, it was life-altering for just about everyone in the world at that time and for as much of the future as most of us can imagine.

75 years ago seems like ancient history to many people.  To put some of the passage of time into perspective, Pearl Harbor happened 80 years after the start of the Civil War.  Queen Elizabeth was a young woman driving an ambulance for her country.  She was still a princess.  My mother was going to marry my father in 6 months.  My father would enlist a year to the day after Pearl Harbor.

Pearl Harbor will always be remembered and will always be a solemn day for America.

The power of fear and incompetence

This video speaks for itself. Even though it was first published November 18, 2016, nothing has changed. If anything, there has been lots of crowing over a misidentified mandate (there is NO mandate), some right wing fear mongers are beginning to ratchet up playing on people’s fears.

Is some of the most recent ratcheting an attempt to scare the left into submission? Control the right and scare the left seems to be the not-so hidden agenda.

Ben Carson to head up HUD? He has never held a government post. Of course, neither has the president. While we are at it, let’s destabilize our relationship with China. I sure hope we don’t need their help with North Korea any time soon.

Throw in Retired US Army Lieutenant-General Mike Flynn as National Security advisor. Has he denounced his radical son yet?  What other leaders have surrounded themselves with generals?

What Trump is doing is disgraceful, irresponsible, and unacceptable.  His behavior brings a whole new meaning to bully pulpit.   I can’t wait for the impeachment hearings to begin.

No one is surprised.  Trump is filling our dreaded expectations, even before taking office.

What happens when lies and fake news get spread….

Washingtonpost.com:

A North Carolina man was arrested Sunday after he walked into a popular pizza restaurant in Northwest Washington carrying an assault rifle and fired one or more shots, D.C. police said. The man told police he had come to the restaurant to “self-investigate” a false election-related conspiracy theory involving Hillary Clinton that spread online during her presidential campaign.

The incident caused panic, with several businesses going into lockdown as police swarmed the neighborhood after receiving the call shortly before 3 p.m.

Police said 28-year-old Edgar Maddison Welch, of Salisbury, N.C., walked in the front door of Comet Ping Pong and pointed a firearm in the direction of a restaurant employee. The employee was able to flee and notify police. Police said Welch proceeded to discharge the rifle inside the restaurant; they believe all other occupants had fled when Welch began shooting.

Welch has been charged with assault with a dangerous weapon. Police said there were no reported injuries.

We should not be surprised when more and more people start taking the law into their own hands.   I expect by now there is a conspiracy theory about what happened today.

This situation is another reason why the president- elect needs to put down his twitter account and stop  tweeting.

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Trump steps in it with China–speaks with Taiwan president

Washingtonpost.com:

President-elect Donald Trump spoke Friday with Taiwan’s president, a major departure from decades of U.S. policy in Asia and a breach of diplomatic protocol with ramifications for the incoming president’s relations with China.

The call is the first known contact between a U.S. president or president-elect with a Taiwanese leader since before the United States broke diplomatic relations with the island in 1979. China considers Taiwan a province, and news of the official outreach by Trump is likely to infuriate the regional military and economic power.
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Governed by the fabulously wealthy

gold-dollar-sign1

Washingtonpost.com:

Trump is putting together what will be the wealthiest administration in modern American history. His announced nominees for top positions include several multimillionaires, an heir to a family mega-fortune and two Forbes-certified billionaires, one of whose family is worth as much as industrial tycoon Andrew Mellon was when he served as treasury secretary nearly a century ago. Rumored candidates for other positions suggest Trump could add more ultra-rich appointees soon.

Many of the Trump appointees were born wealthy, attended elite schools and went on to amass even larger fortunes as adults. As a group, they have much more experience funding political candidates than they do running government agencies.

Their collective wealth in many ways defies Trump’s populist campaign promises. Their business ties, particularly to Wall Street, have drawn rebukes from Democrats. But the group also amplifies Trump’s own campaign pitch: that Washington outsiders who know how to navigate and exploit a “rigged” system are best able to fix that system for the working class.

“It fits into Trump’s message that he’s trying to do business in an unusual way, by bringing in these outsiders,” said Nicole Hemmer, an assistant professor in presidential studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center. But Trump and his team, she added, won’t be able to draw on the same sort of life struggles that President Obama did, in crafting policy to lift poor and middle-class Americans.

“They’re just not going to have any access to that” life experience, she said. “I guess it will be a test — does empathy actually matter? If you’re able to echo back what people are telling you, is that enough?”

Does this situation not scare the rest of us earthlings?  There is something sinister about the 1% having power over us all.   Some Orwellian sc-fi plan that I just can’t put my finger on is lingering in the back of my mind.

What were the American people thinking?  [shaking head!!]

Trump wants to jail flag-burners, ignoring Texas v. Johnson

trump-protesters-burn-american-flag-twitter-ajplus-575x431

Mediaite.com:

In the newest example of “Jesus Kellyanne can you PLEASE take his phone away?” President-elect Donald J. Trump — who will soon be sworn in as our nation’s 45th Commander-in-Chief — took to Twitter this morning for one of his more stunning admissions in quite some time.

On the table is the issue of burning the American flag, perhaps in reaction to the news that a handful of college students in Massachusetts burned a flag this week in protest to the election results. Burning the American flag is a Constitutionally protected right under the First Amendment stemming from the SCOTUS 1989 case Texas v. Johnson. The landmark case under Chief Justice William Rehnquist argued that any statute or law that criminalizes the desecration of a venerated object like the American Flag violates a person’s First Amendment privileges as outlined by the Bill of Rights.

Despite the law, our President-elect seems to have different ideas for the future of our country:

 

“Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag,” Trump wrote. “[I]f they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!” The Tweet is at least the first one in a while not to take bizarre aim at CNN, his favorite target as of late.

Someone absolutely needs to tell Trump to put away his Twitter account.  He is acting like a petulant adolescent, not the president of the greatest nation in the world.

 

Trump has little knowledge of the law and plays to the dumbest person in the room.  We might all want to punch someone in the face for flag burning or we might say we want to deport them or some other dire threat.  We know we can’t but it feels good to say it.  The difference is that WE are not the president, or soon-to-be president.  Donald Trump is and he needs to stop acting like a teenager who is getting off on mouth-flashing.

 

Romney: To be or not to be…?

Many people, both Democrats and Republicans want Donald Trump to select Mitt Romney as Secretary of State.  Romney is known as being dignified, knowledgeable,  and a cool head, unlike some of the other suggestions.

Some Trump loyalists disavow Romney because of his harsh words before the election about Trump’s suitability to hold the office he will soon hold.

Romney also would have an easy time being confirmed by the senate.

Should Trump nominate Romney because of his statesmanship or should he stick with his loyal supporters like Giuliani or Gingrich?

New economic election discoveries

imrs

 

Washingtonpost.com:

In the modern era of presidential politics, no candidate has ever won the popular vote by more than Hillary Clinton did this year, yet still managed to lose the electoral college. In that sense, 2016 was a historic split: Donald Trump won the presidency by as much as 74 electoral votes (depending on how Michigan ends up) while losing the nationwide vote to Clinton by 1.7 million votes and counting.

But there’s another divide exposed by the election, which researchers at the Brookings Institution recently discovered as they sifted the election returns. It has no bearing on the election outcome, but it tells us something important about the state of the country and its politics moving forward.

The divide is economic, and it is massive. According to the Brookings analysis, the less-than-500 counties that Clinton won nationwide combined to generate 64 percent of America’s economic activity in 2015. The more-than-2,600 counties that Trump won combined to generate 36 percent of the country’s economic activity last year.

Clinton, in other words, carried nearly two-thirds of the American economy.

So what does this data tell us?  What does it tell us moving forward?

According to the WaPo:

In between those elections, U.S. economic activity has grown increasingly concentrated in large, “superstar” metro areas, such as Silicon Valley and New York.

How will Trump keep his promises to return the coal industry and jobs to areas that don’t have the money and aren’t the population centers?  He has a tall order before him.

 

Trump demands an apology from cast of “Hamilton”

Washingtonpost.com

The cast of “Hamilton” was not going to throw away its shot.

After Friday evening’s performance, at which Vice President-elect Mike Pence was in the audience, several dozen of the Broadway musical’s cast members zeroed in on Pence during their curtain call. Brandon Victor Dixon — the actor who played Aaron Burr — stepped forth and cut through the applause.

“You know, we have a guest in the audience this evening,” he said to audience laughter. “And Vice President-elect Pence, I see you walking out, but I hope you will hear us just a few more moments. There’s nothing to boo here, ladies and gentlemen. There’s nothing to boo here. We’re all here sharing a story of love. We have a message for you, sir. We hope that you will hear us out.”

As he pulled a small piece of paper from his pocket, Dixon encouraged people to record and share what he was about to say “because this message needs to be spread far and wide.”

(see above)

Twitter exploded late Friday night with responses that cleaved into two camps: Those who cheered the cast for voicing their concerns so directly and those who found the exchange “rude.” In the latter was President-elect Donald Trump, who tweeted twice Saturday morning about Pence’s musical visit, saying that the cast had “harassed” the vice president-elect with “cameras blazing.”

 

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Making sense of the Trump victory

Charles Murray explains how many of us are insulated from working class America.

I found his bubble quiz to be difficult to answer. I grew up in a pseudo-bubble. My parents were educators but not at the college level. Perhaps the mere fact that I found the bubble quiz difficult to take speaks volumes.

Northern Virginia is unique in itself and probably gives a false negative on bubble-dom.

TAKE THE BUBBLE QUIZ

Virginia looks like a red state from a distance.  It’s obvious Virginia would have gone for Trump if Northern Virginia counties had not kicked in late.  Prince William, Fairfax and Loudoun saved the day for Clinton.

Do you believe Northern Virginia insulates us from the rest of the country?

 

Pence calls Mrs. Obama “vulgar”

U.S. Representative Mike Pence (R-IN) arrives for a news conference about their goal of permanently extending Bush-era tax rates at the Capitol in Washington, DC, U.S. on December 2, 2010.    REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

USpoln.com

Mike Pence said he didn’t understand why Michelle Obama had so passionately condemned his running mate, Donald Trump, for boasting about forcibly grabbing women by their genitals. The First Lady denounced the Republican presidential nominee, although she never dismissively spoke his name, for “speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behavior” – which she said had “shaken (her) to the core.”

“First and foremost,” Pence argued, “I have no idea why Mrs. Obama, who will be departing the White House shortly, is even commenting on the future President of the United States, God-willing. That’s the first thing I don’t quite get. Secondly, if she’s the First Lady, shouldn’t she be focused on doing whatever it is that First Ladies are supposed to be doing as their duties while their husbands are rescuing the world? What’s she doing commenting on and obviously worrying about her successor? That’s not what she should be doing.”

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Students and faculty ask President Sullivan not to quote Jefferson

Richmondtimesdispatch.com:

University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan is being asked to refrain from quoting Thomas Jefferson because of his racist beliefs, according to The Cavalier Daily.

A letter, signed by 469 faculty members and students, was sent to Sullivan on Nov. 11 protesting the use of a Jefferson quotation in her email calling for unity after the presidential election, the student newspaper reported.

“We would like for our administration to understand that although some members of this community may have come to this university because of Thomas Jefferson’s legacy, others of us came here in spite of it,” the letter read. “For many of us, the inclusion of Jefferson quotations in these e-mails undermines the message of unity, equality and civility that you are attempting to convey.”

In her message after the election, Sullivan said that “Thomas Jefferson wrote to a friend that University of Virginia students ‘are not of ordinary significance only: they are exactly the persons who are to succeed to the government of our country, and to rule its future enmities, its friendships and fortunes.’”

She encouraged “today’s U.Va. students to embrace that responsibility.”

Noelle Hurd, an assistant professor of psychology who drafted the letter, said in a statement that the intention “was to start a conversation with our administration regarding ways to be more inclusive.”

Oh Dear God!  Do these youngsters realize they wouldn’t have a college if it weren’t for Jefferson?  I am so tired of irrational behavior.  Why do students refuse to accept the fact that times change, values change, and what was the status quo then, in Jefferson’s day, was different than today?

I hope Sullivan says BITE ME to them.