Little green men, Russians, and Congressmen

Manassaspatch.com:

WASHINGTON, DC — A GOP congressman raised some eyebrows at a recent hearing on Capitol Hill when he asked NASA officials about the possibility of an intelligent alien civilization on Mars just a few thousand years ago.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican from California who has been in the news recently for his ties to the Russian government and some inflammatory comments, asked a panel of NASA experts testifying before the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology about the possibility of intelligent Martians living not long ago on the Red Planet. The video of the exchange is embedded below.

“You have indicated that Mars had, was totally different thousands of years ago. Is it possible that there was a civilization on Mars thousands of years ago?” Rohrabacher asked.

Kenneth Farley, who is a project scientist with the NASA Mars Rover 2020 mission, replied that in fact Mars would have been significantly different billions, not thousands, of years ago, and that there is absolutely no evidence that any intelligent life ever existed there.

Rohrabacher pressed Farley, asking him if he would rule it out.

“I would say that is extremely unlikely,” Farley responded.

While scientists are vigorously studying Mars for signs of ancient life, they are looking for very basic microbial life, not for human-like aliens.

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Embarrassment: A failed promise

Washingtonpost.com:

By any measure, the collapse of the Senate health-care bill represents an epic failure for the Republican Party and a major embarrassment for President Trump. The crusade that animated — and bound — conservatives for seven years proved to be a mirage, an objective without a solution. Power comes with consequences.

There is no way to spin to those who were promised that the Affordable Care Act would be repealed and replaced once Republicans held full power in Washington that what has happened is the fault of forces outside the party. This has been a GOP undertaking from start to finish. It is as though Republicans unknowingly set a trap and then walked into it without having prepared escape routes.

What price, if any, Republicans will pay for this setback will be revealed over the coming months. Perhaps they will be able to move quickly on other priorities — a tax bill being the most appealing now, although not necessarily a slam dunk — and wash away the bitter taste of the health-care debate. That might be the best they can hope for, but there are no guarantees.

The failed promise to repeal and replace Obamacare surely will affect the mood and enthusiasm of the Republican base heading toward 2018. When the Gallup organization asked Americans about the future of the Affordable Care Act recently, 30 percent overall said they favored “repeal and replace,” but 70 percent of Republicans supported that option. GOP lawmakers will have left them empty-handed, perhaps disillusioned. That will energize Democrats even more in their quest to take control of the House in 2018.

The health care bill was doomed from the start.  Replacing a flawed plan with an even worse one just isn’t going to please anyone. That new bill that just went died an embarrassingly painful death sounded awful to almost everyone. The really stupid part is that it hurt the Trump base the most.

What does it tell us when the Republicans own the White House and both the House and the Senate and they still can’t get a bill passed?  Trump wants to blame the Democrats.  Well, math must not be his forte.  Maybe the problem lies with the quality of health care the Republicans were proposing.

Here’s a novel idea–keep what’s good about Obamacare and fix the bad parts.  Maybe the idea of repealing the whole thing was repugnant to too many Americans.  Maybe Democrats and Republicans have to work together and push politics aside.

Nicolle Wallace condemns Trump tweets


Washingtonpost.com:

Hours after President Trump posted a pair of ugly tweets attacking cable TV hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, cable news talk shows across the political spectrum featured lengthy, often angry monologues accusing him of demeaning his office as well as women.

Conservatives Charles Krauthammer and Tucker Carlson criticized the tweets on Fox News, with Krauthammer saying, “Presidents don’t talk like this.”

On CNN, Don Lemon and Anderson Cooper dedicated their opening remarks to what Lemon called Trump’s “flat-out gross and disgusting” tweets.

And on a CNN panel Thursday night, USA Today columnist Kirsten Powers got into a lively debate over the definitions of “feminism” and “misogyny” with Trump surrogate Jeffrey Lord.

But even Lord, who usually defends anything and everything Trump does, said, “I don’t think he should have done it.”

Perhaps the strongest repudiation yet comes from Nicolle Wallace.  Wallace served as George W. Bush’s communication chief.  Nicolle Wallace, as a Republican woman sums up pretty much what the rest of us think.

To those who try to excuse Trump or make excuses for him–this is 2017.  This kind of garbage issued in a tweet is unacceptable and beneath the Office of the president of the United States.  The se is sim ycophants need to start telling Trump he is simply rude, crude and socially unacceptable.

Open Thread………………………….June, 2017

June is finally here and we weren’t washed away.  I can’t remember a rainier May than 2017.  Hopefully June will have warm, dry days with low humidity.

Supposedly, the fireflies are out.  That’s always a happy sign of summer.   I haven’t seen any yet but I haven’t been sitting outside on the deck in the rain.

School will soon be out for all the kids. Drive carefully.   Kids and squirrels are on the move.

Lest we forget–Memorial Day 2017

Guest contribution by our very own poet laureate, Captain George S. Harris:

 

LEST WE FORGET-MEMORIAL DAY 2017

It is just a few days past the day our own Civil War ended on May 9,1865-151 years ago.  On that day, two great armies and two great leaders met at Appomattox, Virginia to begin the process of bringing our nation back together again. They were there to salve the wounds that four years of war had inflicted on its participants.  Some 640,000 men, 2% of our population, were lost; the worst war we have ever been engaged in.  A war that saw fathers against sons and brothers against brothers in a fight to the death.  It was the hope of these two great leaders, General Ulysses S. Grant and General Robert E. Lee, that at last we would once again seek the path to the “perfect union” our founders sought some seventy-eight years earlier during several muggy weeks in the spring and fall of 1787 in Phildelphia.

Some who read this may remember when Memorial Day was known as Decoration Day.  It is a day set aside to decorate the graves of those military folks who lost their lives in service to our Nation.  “Decoration Day or, if you prefer, Memorial Day, began shortly after our Civil War. There are several claims as to just when it began but decorating the graves of warriors has been around for many decades or perhaps centuries.

More than a million Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice and almost all of them in two wars-our own Civil War and World War II.  While we are now engaged in the longest war we have ever known, there are fewer deaths but many more have sustained what are often euphemistically referred to as “life alternating injuries”.  These injuries run from simple wounds to multiple limb loss, paralysis, traumatic brain injury and what we now know as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  This latter disorder has had many names in the past but it ultimately means the terrible impact war has on the minds and souls of our military personnel.

No one goes to war who doesn’t come back changed.  It is not always easily recognized but for me and others who read these words, we know because we live with it every day of our lives.  This is not some made up psycho-babble, it is a real, palpable thing.  Most of us continue to live and work and carry out normal lives but others do not even to the point of destroying themselves by suicide.

We have to ask ourselves, “Will the day ever come when we will no longer have any new graves to decorate on Memorial Day?  When will we have peace?” In a speech at American University on June 10, 1963, only a few months before his death by assassination, President John F. Kennedy said this about peace.

“I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children–not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women–not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.”

This Memorial Day, more than 1,000 soldiers will place flags at more than 300,000 graves in the annual “Flags In” ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.  Lest we forget, this is the price of freedom for our great Nation.

 

God bless all those who have gone before and God bless the Untied States of America on this Memorial Day.

“Hymn to the Fallen” by John Williams featured.

More than a name on a wall

“Lord my boy was special and he meant so much to me…”
Those words are probably in the heart of every parent who has lost a child to the ravages of war.

This song is special to me because it was co-written by my classmate and friend, John Rimel.    (Jimmy Fortune was the other co-writer,)   The song also reminds me of a  special Veterans Day I spent with someone’s mother from the midwest who had come to D. C.  to visit the wall.  She had come  to find the name of her only son who died in the Vietnam on his 19th birthday.  The woman had never been to the Wall before and I doubt if she ever went back.  I felt honored to have spoken with her for about a half hour that day.

My generation is etched all over that wall.  There are over 50,000 names on that Wall.  I can’t help but feel that our country wasted the lives of those young men.  It’s probably time for us to start paying more attention to the Vietnam veterans.   They are starting to die off– some due to old age, some to disease, and some because of war inflicted ailments that are killing off those men in greater numbers than should be happening.  I have two friends who have lost their husbands because of exposure to agent orange.  How long were we told that agent orange was harmless?

This Memorial Day I would like highlight the memory of Charlie Milton, another classmate, who died in Vietnam at age 19.  You know, that’s just too damn young to die.

Again the motor cycles will roar and Rolling Thunder will make its way into town to note that some of those POWs never came home.  No one knows what became of them.  Rolling Thunder also pays tribute to the dead.  My generation is loud.  Rolling Thunder is no exception.

I find it difficult to go to the Wall.  If I am in a memorial kind of mood, I always choose the World War II memorial.  It makes sense to me.  Vietnam doesn’t.  It’s also a beautiful memorial.  It’s grand.  It’s shining and it took far too long to be built.  Soon we won’t see any veterans of that war.   They are fading away.  My own father would be 100 this September if he was still alive.  He served in WWII.

If you have a friend or love one killed in combat, please feel free to pay tribute to them here.

 

The “Shover in Charge” pushes past the PM of Montenegro

Trump once again proves what a rude, ugly person he is as he shoves past the Prime Minister of Montenegro, just so he can be in the front center position.  He even poses once he has secured the position.

Something is just wrong with a person who behaves in this manner.  It appears his only concern is himself and his own ego.

I would love to have heard the verbal exchange, although I am sure it was cringe-worthy.

Comments from around the world.

Draconian budget proposals aimed at the poor

 

Washingtonpost.com:

President Trump’s proposal to cut federal spending by more than $3.6 trillion over the next decade — including deep reductions for programs that help the poor — faced harsh criticism in Congress on Tuesday, where even many Republicans said the White House had gone too far.

While some fiscally conservative lawmakers, particularly in the House, found a lot to praise in Trump’s plan to balance the budget within 10 years, most Republicans flatly rejected the White House proposal. The divide sets up a clash between House conservatives and a growing number of Senate Republicans who would rather work with Democrats on a spending deal than entertain Trump’s deep cuts.

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Turkish president’s security guards go thug on protesters

NYtimes.com:

WASHINGTON — Supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, including his government security forces and several armed individuals, violently charged a group of protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence here on Tuesday night in what the police characterized as “a brutal attack.”

Eleven people were injured, including a police officer, and nine were taken to a hospital, the Metropolitan Police chief, Peter Newsham, said at a news conference on Wednesday. Two Secret Service agents were also assaulted in the melee, according to a federal law enforcement official.

The State Department condemned the attack as an assault on free speech and warned Turkey that the action would not be tolerated. “We are communicating our concern to the Turkish government in the strongest possible terms,” said Heather Nauert, a State Department spokeswoman.

A group of Republican lawmakers went a step further, calling the episode an “affront to the United States” and calling for Turkey to apologize.

Photos and videos posted on social media by witnesses showed a chaotic scene of flying fists, feet and police batons — all in the middle of rush hour traffic along stately Embassy Row. The video showed two men bleeding from the head and men in dark suits punching and kicking protesters, some lying on the ground.

 

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When does Trump go?

Trump has lied so much to the American people that I have lost track.  It is time for the Republicans to do the right thing and being impeachment proceedings.

Perhaps Mitch McConnell will step down since he clearly has a conflict of interest, since his wife is part of Trump’s cabinet.

There seems to be no honesty, no integrity, and no accountability.  I am very worried about the nation.

What is it they say about “birds of a feather?”

Dailyprogress.com:

The Charlottesville man who made headlines with his attempts to oust a city councilor will perform 50 hours of community service after being convicted of misdemeanor assault.

Blogger Jason Kessler was in Charlottesville General District court on Monday for a sentencing hearing after having pleaded guilty in April to misdemeanor assault.

The charge stemmed from a January incident on the Downtown Mall, where Kessler was hawking his petition to have Charlottesville Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy removed from office over allegations that he misused his office. James Justin Taylor, of Crozet, has told reporters that when he approached Kessler and insulted the petition, Kessler responded by punching him in the face.

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Starbucks Store Manager Earns a Degree after 25-year Delay

news.Starbucks.com:

By Steve Stolder / Starbucks Newsroom

Every summer for 15 years, Raymond Smith has delivered what he calls “The Professor’s Perspective” to incoming Indiana University Bloomington students and their parents. He estimates 12,000 people have heard him give his talk about the perils of freshman year and the challenges that confront those who don’t make it through the fraught first months on campus.

The 64-year-old professor of literary studies draws on academic research, telling the hundreds who attend each lecture about a crucial time-to-degree variable – the less time you take, the more likely you are to graduate. And he reads “A Letter to Laura,” an unsent note he’d composed in the early 1990s, shortly after he came to Indiana. Addressed to his niece, the letter offers reminiscences from his own undergrad days, as well as four or five tested tips for surviving what he calls “the hottest of the flaming hoops that students jump through.”

“About once every other year, some parent in the question-and-answer period will ask, ‘What ever happened to Laura?’” Smith recalled. “And I’ll say, ‘Well, she really wasn’t in a position to take my advice.’”

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Open Thread……………………………May, 2017

This might just be a great year for irises.  I admit to a particular love of the iris.  It’s low maintenance, unlike the rose.  Individual iris rhizomes are expensive.  Not all make it once planted in the fall.  They just don’t plant right.  But if an iris “takes” you are truly rewarded in the spring

Daffodils are long gone. Violet have pretty much had it.  My one healthy azalea looks pretty good.  The other two are circling the drain.  The Kousa dogwood is getting ready to spring to glory.  A few Jobes’ tree spikes seem to make an old tree young again.

Kentucky Judge refuses to hear adoption cases involving gay parents

Washingtonpost.com:

Two years after a Kentucky county clerk stirred national attention for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a family court judge in the same state announced he will no longer hear adoption cases involving gay parents, calling his stance on the issue “a matter of conscience.”

Judge W. Mitchell Nance, who sits in Barren and Metcalfe counties in Kentucky, issued an order Thursday saying he believes that allowing a “practicing homosexual” to adopt would “under no circumstance” promote the best interest of the child, he wrote in the order obtained by The Washington Post.

The judge disqualified himself from any adoption cases involving gay couples, citing judicial ethics codes requiring that judges recuse themselves whenever they have a “personal bias or prejudice” concerning a case. Nance’s “conscientious objection” to the concept of gay parents adopting children constitutes such a bias, he argued.

The announcement garnered support from some conservative groups, while also spurring intense criticism from some lawyers and judicial ethics experts who viewed the blanket statement as discriminatory, and a sign that Nance is not fit to fulfill his duties as a judge. Kentucky state law permits gay couples to adopt children, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that all states must allow same-sex marriage.

Judge Nance is free to believe what he wants.  However, he has to do his job according to the laws of both Kentucky and the United States of America.  If he cannot, then he needs to step down.  You can’t cherry-pick the law.   The problem with just recusing himself is that other people have to pick up the slack.

What other biases does he have that might preclude fairness on the bench?  Do his colleagues agree to trade off cases so everyone has the same work load?  Is this a new equal pay for equal work question?

Interesting things to follow regarding this case.