Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

In the Pink

April 21, 2017

Palo verdes are still flowering, but the desert ironwood (top) that I pass every day on my way to work or the Y is in gorgeous bloom.  And the almost-dead desert willow in my side yard, which I severely trimmed, with the help of my son-in-law and his chainsaw, is in bloom, although not as dramatic.

Critters

I love the view from my computer.

A common kingsnake just glided along my fence, on the inside.  Don’t know how it got in, but it kept testing the welded wire along the fence, so I figured it wanted to get out.  Opened the gate and edged it along with a rake handle.  It then slithered away into the desert in those S-shaped curves.  By the 4½ inches  between the posts, it appeared to be three feet long.

Yesterday it was a bobcat, a wriggling quail in its mouth, which stopped at my fence to peer in.  I did not go outside to take these photos, as it would have disappeared.  (The snake just became stationary.)  I had thought a couple of quail had nested under a huge Texas ranger in the side yard a week ago, as whenever I went out the gate, in a rapid flurry, one flew out.  But the next day it didn’t happen, and there were a few feathers about.  I couldn’t figure what had gotten the bird until I saw the bobcat.  It could have easily jumped the fence.

Taxes

I got some money back on my taxes – enough to pay the accountant!

But let’s consider tax reform.  How about if we had no deductions? (This list mostly from Five Tax Deductions that Favor the Rich1.)  No charitable-giving deduction.  If you want to give your Picasso to the art museum, do it, just don’t deduct it.  Same goes for your church, or UNICEF, or your kid’s school.  If you believe in it, donate to it.  (Bill and Melinda Gates do, although they have gotten a small tax break, they could probably do find without it.  From 1994 to 2006, Bill and Melinda gave the foundation more than $26 billion. Those donations resulted in a tax savings of less than 8.3 percent of the contributions they made over that time.2) Long-term capital gains, which derive from the sale of investments such as stocks and bonds held for more than a year, are taxed at 15 percent.  They should be taxed as part of your income.  Eliminate the mortgage interest deduction, which encourages people to scrape more of our biome (a large naturally occurring community of flora and fauna occupying a major habitat) to build large houses, thus making our earth less habitable.  No deductions for children.  If people want to have children, they should pay for them.  The government already provides schools.  No deduction for yourself or whomever you care for, as head of household.

No

  • State sales taxes. …
  • Reinvested dividends. …
  • Out-of-pocket charitable contributions. …
  • Student loan interest paid by Mom and Dad. …
  • Moving expense to take first job. …
  • Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. …
  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) …
  • State tax you paid last spring. …
  • Refinancing mortgage points. …
  • Jury pay paid to employer. …3

(I don’t consider tax-deferred retirement plans a deduction, as you end up having to pay tax on the money when you take it out.)

Then everyone who makes at least $31,200 (52 weeks of 40 hours at a logical minimum age of $15/ hr, married or not, old or young, dependents or not) pays 20%.

So for Trump’s 2005 return where

According to the Form 1040, Mr. Trump paid $36.6 million in federal income taxes on $152.7 million in reported income in 2005, or 24 percent…  Significantly helping matters back in 2005 was the fact he reported a $103.2 million loss that year…4

Without his deduction of losses, he’d pay on $152.7M + $103.2M = $255.9M, of which 20% is $51.18M.

Sure, that would hurt me.  I’d be paying almost 4 times what I paid, as an old person with deductions.  (But I wouldn’t have to pay an accountant.)  However, if that happened to everyone, we could take a bite out of the national debt, which is presently $20.1 trillion5.  Kay Bell in 8 tax breaks that cost Uncle Sam big money says that there’s a $4 trillion giveaway in tax breaks.6

I have a feeling that most of my friends will disagree with this proposal…

1http://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2011/12/07/five-tax-deductions-that-favor-rich.html
2http://www.gatesfoundation.org/Who-We-Are/General-Information/Foundation-FAQ
3https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/tax-tips/Tax-Deductions-and-Credits/The-10-Most-Overlooked-Tax-Deductions/INF12062.html
4http://www.cbsnews.com/news/trumps-tax-return-leaked-rachel-maddow-what-accountants-think-alternative-minimum-tax/
5https://www.google.com/search?q=national+debt+today.&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8
6http://www.bankrate.com/finance/taxes/8-tax-breaks-cost-uncle-sam-big-money-1.aspx#ixzz4eqKyTARS

Weeds

March 18, 2017

My grandson was helping me pull weeds.  But Grandma, these have yellow flowers.  Why do we have to pull them?  The line between weeds and wildflowers is a wavy one, or maybe a dashed one.  Had to kill all of the weeds at my last house, then move into another rental house, 4.7 miles away, only to get a note from the HOA that we have to have all of our weeds pulled by April 1.  No joke.


But speaking of wildflowers – while the east coast is covered in snow there is a spectacular wildflower display here in the desert wherever the housing developments haven’t scraped the ground and replaced the natural desert with a few trees, cacti, bushes trimmed into tight balls, and lots of gravel.  This photo from the Web of the flowers at Picacho Peak, where my daughter and family are camping for the weekend with the Boy Scouts, there to see the wildflowers and the reenactment of the Civil War battle at Picacho Peak.  (http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/picachopeak.html)  Unfortunately, the hot weather (it’s 92° right now, at 5pm) has also brought out the rattlesnakes, so she texted me that they’re leaving after the roasting of the marshmallows tonight.

Backstory

My life has gotten just a tad busier the beginning of February.

Did dislike the last rental.  January’s gas bill was $148!!!  The insulation was terrible, and, in the winter, it was cold downstairs, with drafts, and hot upstairs.  But good news – hah!  So many things had gone wrong with it (such as the heat going out four times in one year!) that they decided to sell.

My lease was up end of January,  then was on month-to-month, but four families had looked at it in the first week, so I figured I better find another rental as my son-in-law won’t finish his training (to be a hospital CFO) for another year, and when the hospital chain assigns him to a hospital somewhere, if it’s a nifty place, I may move there too, to be near the grandkids.  Another move!  Much harder than finding a place to buy, as rental agents “own” their own properties.  Thank goodness for the internet!

Online, looked at 50 (!) houses near here (which means near my daughter and my grandkids), and chose five.  One zapped me for having a cat, so I looked at four.  Found a smaller, less expensive rental (but with a view of the desert and mountains) west of the last house.  The people were moving out the middle of February, so I started packing, yet again.

Here’s a photo from my bedroom window, after I got all of the windows cleaned.  (Not as good as the professional photo above, but it is 5pm, with its long shadows.)


Was chest high in boxes on that first weekend and I was sore to the bone, double-popping ibuprofen.  In order to get my security deposit back, had to have the empty house clean, including the tops of the fans (ten feet up in the living room), the outdoor lights, garage, you name it.  And no weeds.  (This all in the lease that I had signed.)  Of course, we had had our winter rain, and then the temperatures soared into the 80’s.  Never saw so many weeds.  Too many too small to pull, even with my grandson’s small hands, so I had to resort to the dreaded poison.  (Sorry Mitch!  It was that v. $2200.)  My daughter, having never read Silent Spring, had a poison sprayer canister, which I borrowed.

Final inspection.  A woman came to spend an hour taking photos of everything with cabinets open, lights on. Then she gave the set to the rental agent (the fourth one I’ve had, and never met) and he would decide how much of the security deposit to return in two+ weeks (per contract).  The photographer called me the next day and said that they had just put a check in the mail for the entire security deposit.  Guess I overdid it!

Speaking of rental agents- I mentioned to my present one that the garbage disposal was backing up and she said she’d get back to me. Four days later and no return call to my message left, so I tried it when the dishwasher had filled up the sink, and it magically fixed itself. What a way to get things done…  (There’s an apocryphal story that Napoleon opened his mail about once a month. Why? Because if it was still important after a month, he attended to it; if not, one of his minions had dealt with it, or it was just junk mail.)

Too Much to Protest, Too Little Time

As I was packing, moving, unpacking, etc I was feeling very guilty about not having enough time to protest!  Sure, I had emailed my senators regarding Trump’s appointments, especially of Scott Pruitt and Betsy DeVos.  (See my blog from January: https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2017/01/26/trumps-appointees/)  As if Flake and McCain care about my opinion.  But my rep is Tom O’Halleran, and he’s a Democrat, so no prob.  Next was the protest against Monsanto, which is building a huge greenhouse near here.  https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2017/01/13/monsanto/

Then I sent off an email to my governor because he…

 …defended state laws that let parents use public funds to send children to private and parochial schools.  But he sidestepped questions of whether he would sign legislation to open up that possibility to all 1.1 million public school students statewide.
http://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2017/01/27/ducey-depends-using-public-funds-for-private-schools/

Unfortunately,

Republican lawmakers in the Arizona Legislature are attempting to fast-track a plan to eventually offer vouchers to every public-school student and, in separate legislation, privatize oversight of the public money given to parents to pay private-school tuition and other expenses.

The Legislature is training its sights on the plan to broaden eligibility for Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, a school-choice program created six years ago for disabled children. Under the legislation, all of Arizona’s 1.1 million students would be eligible for the program by 2020.

Sen. Debbie Lesko, of Peoria, and Rep. John Allen, of Scottsdale, have introduced identical bills to expand the program in their chambers, a move intended to expedite passage. ESAs allow families to use public-school dollars on private-school tuition and other educational expenses.

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/arizona-education/2017/02/08/republicans-fast-track-school-voucher-bill-arizona-legislature/97572798/

As I had pointed out to my governor, private schools, including Catholic or Christian, are segregated – either by economic inequality (with shades of race discrimination) or by religion.  As Wikipedia points out,

Separation of church and state is a phrase used by Thomas Jefferson and others expressing an understanding of the intent and function of the Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause of First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States which reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

Consequently, I believe that it is in our constitution that our taxes should not be used to fund private and parochial schools, and that includes the school tax credit, which comes out of our taxes.  But Arizona is a red state, so it’ll no doubt pass.

Zero to 1.34 Million

You must read Nicholas Kristof’s column from Sunday’s New York Times from a month ago, regarding Trump’s original travel ban:
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/11/opinion/sunday/husbands-are-deadlier-than-terrorists.html

Peoples Climate Movement April 29th

This was in my Sierra Club magazine:

Michael Brune on the People’s Climate Mobilization, Feb 24 2017

Two years ago, the first People’s Climate March took place on a crisp, blue-sky September day in Manhattan. An estimated 400,000 people, representing the full display of American diversity, were united in the same righteous purpose: to demand that our leaders act fast to address the climate crisis.

The day was filled with promise, and in the following years our enthusiasm was reciprocated with progress. The Paris Agreement. The Clean Power Plan. The rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline. We could say that, powered by a movement of millions, the United States was truly leading on climate.

Now the political landscape is different. Donald Trump’s election will upend U.S. climate policy. I doubt that many citizens voted for Trump because they were enthusiastic about his views on climate change, but that’s beside the point.

The Trump-Pence administration has no mandate to roll back environmental progress. Polling before the election showed that seven in 10 Americans agreed the government should do something about global warming. Polling after the election showed that 86 percent of voters—including three out of four of those who voted for Trump—support “action to accelerate the development and use of clean energy.”

… we can’t afford to underestimate the Trump administration. Unchecked, Donald Trump and Mike Pence are a threat to our climate and the civil rights and liberties guaranteed by our Constitution. This is a dangerous moment in U.S. history.

…If the Trump-Pence administration attempts to roll back the progress we’ve made in the past 50 years, we do not have to stand for it. Instead, we will stand up against it. We will march, organize, and keep marching—and we will not give up.

The Tucson march:


https://www.evensi.us/tucson-peoples-climate-march-el-presidio-plaza-park/202310124

LOL

February 10, 2017

dogWhen I think something’s funny, I don’t say LOL, I actually laugh out loud!  Here are a commercial (especially the horse watching porn and this family scene)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Kj-4F8pWfk
and an article from the New Yorker that had me laughing (especially the bathing suit):  Shouts & Murmurs, New Yorker February 6, 2017 Issue
Melania’s Diary 1/21/2017, by Paul Rudnick

…Then [Kellyanne] brought up the Tiffany gift box that I’d given Michelle Obama on Inauguration Day. “What was in that box?” Kellyanne demanded. I smiled in my alluringly mysterious way, which makes people wonder if I have wads of cash duct-taped to my body at all times, in case I need to flee the country.
“It was just a gracious parting gift,” I said. I will never reveal the box’s true contents, except in the pages of this secret diary: it was a framed photo of me modelling swimwear in a JCPenney catalogue, on which I’d written my cell-phone number and the words “Please come to visit. And never leave.”  http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/02/06/melanias-diary-1-21-2017

Just a Grimace

Yesterday it was 86° here in Tucson.  Today 87°,  20° above normal.  Must be the overheated political climate.

trump-vacationTrump’s Mar-a-Lago getaway could cost taxpayers more than $3 million
The president regularly hassled Obama for his travel. Now Trump is about to get a taste of his own medicine.
by Matthew Nussbaum 02/03/17

Trump’s multimillion-dollar trip, which comes just two weeks into his presidency, shows that Trump is not shy about engaging in the same type of jet-setting that he and other Republicans heavily criticized Obama for throughout his presidency…
“The habitual vacationer, @BarackObama, is now in Hawaii. This vacation is costing taxpayers $4 milion +++ while there is 20% unemployment,” Trump wrote on Twitter in December 2011 (when the unemployment rate was actually 8.5 percent).
“President @BarackObama’s vacation is costing taxpayers millions of dollars——Unbelievable!” Trump opined again on Twitter a few days later.
http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/trump-mar-lago-taxpayers-234562

hidden_figuresFriends and I went to see a movie, Hidden Figures, the true story of the women who crunched the numbers for NASA. It was great!

Much better than La La Land, which we saw last weekend, and which has 14 Academy Award nominations.  A friend commented:  “…Why not get actors who can sing and dance?  It’s not like there aren’t plenty of them in LA…”  But hey, they have to keep the “Oscars so white”.

tom-bradyThis on Sunday, instead of watching the Super Bowl.  There were the controversies of Tom Brady having a Trump Make America Great Again baseball cap in his locker, and spending his four-month suspension sunbathing nude in Italy, but he was back, and the New England Patriots won, so who cares?  (Or as the Washington Post said, Tom Brady won this Super Bowl…)

Laugh, and the world laughs with you…

January 28, 2017

President Trump Orders the Execution of Five Turkeys Pardoned by Obama
2017-01-24 by R. Hobbus J.D.

turkey
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In another sweeping move aimed at undoing the perceived damage done by the Obama administration, President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday directing the Department of Justice to revoke all sixteen Thanksgiving Day turkey pardons issued by the former president during his eight years in office.

…Of the sixteen turkeys pardoned by Obama, all but five are deceased. “These birds, despite their deaths, will have their pardons revoked posthumously during a ceremony in the Rose Garden,” Secretary Spicer explained. The remaining birds – Tater, Tot, Abe, Honest, and Cheese – are scheduled to be remanded into federal custody on Friday before they are turned over to officials from the Federal Bureau of Prisons who are under orders to execute the turkeys by firing squad…

http://realnewsrightnow.com/2017/01/president-trump-orders-execution-five-turkeys-pardoned-obama/

Somebody Edited the Invertebrate Wikipedia Page to Include Paul Ryan
by Madison Malone Kircher

paul-ryanSure, Wikipedia is good for easy-to-digest information about any topic your heart desires, but it’s also good for pranks against public figures. This week’s victim was Paul Ryan, by way of the Wikipedia page for invertebrates. As per the page’s definition, “invertebrates are animals that neither possess nor develop a vertebral column (commonly known as a backbone or spine),” and for a brief period of time on Thursday, this included Ryan. Estimated members of described species: One.

http://nymag.com/selectall/2017/01/wikipedia-invertebrate-page-edited-to-include-paul-ryan.html

That’s all of the humor I could find today.  But a touch of the serious: Please write a postcard to Paul Ryan asking him to say no to defunding Planned Parenthood, no to repealing the Affordable Care Act, and no to privatizing Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security!  (He has blocked his office phones and fax numbers, and is turning away people who show up to deliver petitions; time to change tactics.)

Representative Paul Ryan
U.S. House of Representatives
1233 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-0001

Trump’s Appointees

January 26, 2017

scott-pruittI’m sorry – I’ve tried to stay away from the Trump cabinet, but today a rep called from the National Wildlife Federation, which I belong to, to please call my senators to oppose Scott Pruitt‘s confirmation as head of the EPA.  This is what I said, after pressing “1” to comment on an issue, and you can quote me if you want when you call your senators (Sen. Flake: 202-224-4521 and Sen. McCain: 202-224-2235).

I hope that Senator McCain/Senator Flake will not vote for Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Mr. Pruitt has tried to dismantle EPA standards that ensure clean air and clean water.  His super PAC has taken  money from the fossil fuel industry, corporate interests which he would be charged with regulating. We need someone who does not deny climate change, but is guided by science to protect public health and the environment to head the EPA.  Thank you.

In addition, the Sierra Club (to which I also belong) has a few videos here:
http://www.sierraclub.org/compass/2017/01/scott-pruitt-should-not-be-head-epa

betsy-devosMany friends and I have agreed that the worst of President Trump’s nominees is Betsy DeVos, proposed for secretary of education.  This time I sent an email to each Senator McCain and Flake
(https://www.mccain.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-form and https://www.flake.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-jeff – and you may quote me at will):

Dear Senator (choose one) –
Please do not vote to confirm Betsy DeVos for secretary of education.

I am an educator, teaching at Pima College.  I believe in public education, something that Mrs. DeVos does not.  She did not attend public schools, nor did her children.  She advocates for public-supported segregation in the expansion of charter schools and programs that would allow parents to use public money to send their children to private schools; she has  given millions to groups that support those issues.

She has also donated to at least four of the senators who heard her testimony on Tuesday, a bit of a conflict of interest.

In her hearing (the only one, as Sen. Lamar Alexander rejected Sen. Patty Murray’s request for a second hearing), she didn’t have answers for the most basic questions about her qualifications to lead the $68 billion federal education agency!  I shall not go into the details here – the Web is replete with them.  But, really, are schools in need of guns to protect the children from grizzly bears?

Thank you for your attention-
Your name here

Here is one of the websites that I referred to: http://www.seattletimes.com/education-lab/how-did-betsy-devos-do-in-her-confirmation-hearing/  The article is actually a bit hilarious.  Well, maybe not the article, but what Mrs. Devos is quoted as saying!

You too can sign a change.org petition opposing DeVos’ nomination, which already has hundreds of thousands of signatures.

Can’t do anything about these:

The Senate confirmed former Kansas congressman Mike Pompeo (a Tea Party Republican) for CIA Director and Nikki Haley (born to an Indian Sikh family in South Carolina, who became governor of the state after I left it) for U.N. ambassador.  In addition, two of Trump’s Cabinet nominees have been confirmed — retired Marine General James “Mad Dog” Mattis as his secretary of defense and retired Marine General John Kelly to be secretary of Homeland Security.

tank_paradeTwo Generals!  President Trump did tell the Washington Post that he wanted to show off our military.  Then there is an unsubstantiated claim by the Huffington Post that he wanted the tanks for the inaugural parade!  (I couldn’t believe it so I check with snopes.com.)

The military “may come marching down Pennsylvania Avenue,” Trump told the Washington Post in an interview . “That military may be flying over New York City and Washington, D.C., for parades. I mean, we’re going to be showing our military.”

During the preparation for Friday’s transfer-of-power, a member of Trump’s transition team floated the idea of including tanks and missile launchers in the inaugural parade, a source involved in inaugural planning told The Huffington Post. “They were legit thinking Red Square/North Korea-style parade,” the source said, referring to massive military parades in Moscow and Pyongyang, typically seen as an aggressive display of muscle-flexing…
http://www.snopes.com/trump-military-inaugural-parade/

His Cabinet moved a few more steps closer to being rounded out Tuesday when [three] nominees got approval votes from Senate committees: Ben Carson to head Housing and Urban Development (a famous neurosurgeon, who knows nothing of urban development, but has lived in a house), Elaine Chao (conveniently married to Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader of the Senate), for Transportation, and Wilbur Ross (an American investor, and former banker, known for restructuring failed companies in industries such as steel, coal, telecommunications, foreign investment and textiles) for Commerce.

Black ✓
Asian  ✓
Brown person  ✓
A few women  ✓
But, for the first time since Ronald Reagan, the president’s Cabinet won’t include a Latino.

Sorry – I can’t stand any more of this today.

The March

January 24, 2017

img_6756The sky in Tucson intermittently drizzled on the morning of January 21, 2017, the day after Donald Trump’s Inaugural, but still 15,000 people (¡here, in this little cow town!) showed up at Armory Park downtown, for rousing talks and music, followed by a v-e-r-y slow “march” to the library, to merge with the Solidarity Rally.  Many imaginative chants were used to buoy our spirits, such as, We need a leader, not a creepy tweeter!  Imagine how many more would have joined us if the weather had been good.

Stiltwalkers, I guess from TCA (Tucson Circus Arts), including a pussyhatbearded guy in pregnant woman’s garb, top right.  (You can click on photos to enlarge.)

Pussyhats.  I was rather clueless about that, even though the project4 started Thanksgiving weekend.

We were so crowded together that I only saw one couple I knew, but found out from friends’ Facebook posts that many more were there.  piñataBecause the downtown streets are so narrow, it took us more than an hour to go 0.6 miles.  (I didn’t get any good photos, but here are a few, including a piñata.  I was either shooting into the rain or the sun.  And wasn’t clever enough to have someone take a photo of me…)  Rain started to fall the moment Donald Trump began giving his first speech as US President.8  But the sun did come out here in Tucson; Annie had said that it would:

The sun will come out tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow
There’ll be sun…

 

Local law enforcement officials said more than 20,000 people participated in Phoenix … and 1,200 in Flagstaff, which faced a snowstorm the night before.1
nancy

San Diego police estimate 30,000 to 40,000 people participated in the Women’s March in downtown San Diego.  (Photo of a friend – center – who was there.)

 

But dwarfing us, of course, were the half a million people marching in Washington, DC!  (Left EarthCam.) More than the attendees to the inauguration! (Right EarthCam.)

Plus, unlike Trump’s failure to attract A-list celebrities, the DC March had Alicia Keys, Gloria Steinem, Madonna, Cher, Jake Gyllenhaal, John Kerry, Scarlett Johansson, and Michael Moore.

march-on-dctrump-inauguration

It was 23 degrees and snowing in Park City, Utah1, which is hosting the Sundance Film Festival right now, but they had Charlize Theron and other celebrities, and thousands marching.

cousin-lynnlangley-waMy cousin (the other Lynn Blair) drove two hours from Sequim, Washington to Langley, on Whidbey Island, north of Seattle, to march in her Pussyhat.  She wrote,cousin-melissa

I actually didn’t know about the hats until Greg said “they are running out of pink yarn”—well, not in Sequim, so I got mine made just in time!

The turnouts around the world were heartwarming-  now  let’s get to work!

There were approximately 100,000 participants at Women’s March on Denver.  (Photo of my cousin there – third from left.)

nyc-2New York, Trump’s home town, had 250,000 marchers, Helen Mirren and Whoopi Goldberg.  (My niece was there – her appliqué “Smash The Patriarchy”.)

Chicago had a quarter of a million too.  Boston had 100,000 marchers and Elizabeth Warren, among others.  But Los Angeles had more marchers than DC, with three quarter of a million!

President Trump tweets on Women’s March protesters: “Why didn’t these people vote?”

With all the numbers in, Clinton ended up winning 65,844,610 votes, which is 48.2% of the total votes. That vote total is good enough to give Clinton the third most votes of any presidential candidate in history (Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 elections are first and second, respectively).3

A friend posted this video on her Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/omgfactsofficial/?hc_ref=NEWSFEED&fref=nf

womenantarcticAnd there were also 673 marches around the world!  The estimate is 4,814,000 Sister Marchers!  Check out the website – it lists all of the cities in the world who participated!5  Even 30 people “marching” in Antarctica!  (Good video on this website.)6 Map:7

march-map
1http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2017/01/21/phoenix-womens-march-sister-washington-capitol/96849890/
2https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2017/01/21/sundancemarch/?utm_term=.e65b399b6f2f
3http://www.dailywire.com/news/11777/how-many-votes-did-trump-and-clinton-get-final-james-barrett
4https://www.pussyhatproject.com/
5https://www.womensmarch.com/sisters/
6http://www.cnn.com/videos/world/2017/01/21/womens-march-around-the-world-orig-sg.cnn
7http://us.pressfrom.com/news/world/-20317-worldwide-people-rally-in-support-of-women-s-march-on-washington/
8http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-rain-speech-inauguration-president-us-sign-prophecy-a7538686.html

Mea Culpa

December 16, 2016

My favorite columnist, Nicholas Kristof, skewered me in his column, The Dangers of Echo Chambers on Campus

We champion tolerance, except for conservatives and evangelical Christians. We want to be inclusive of people who don’t look like usso long as they think like ushttp://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/10/opinion/sunday/the-dangers-of-echo-chambers-on-campus.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Fnicholas-kristof&action=click&contentCollection=opinion&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection&_r=0

walking-stickspeak-englishWalking stick on my back wall yesterday morning.  Put my fingers in the photo for scale.

And a cute article a friend had on her Facebook page.

 

 

Satire

Scientists: Earth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans

“Scientists: Earth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans,” by Andy Borowitz (May 12th)“Scientists: Earth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans,” by Andy Borowitz (May 12th) PHOTOGRAPH BY NASA EO/REX/FEATURES VIA AP

MINNEAPOLIS (The Borowitz Report)—Scientists have discovered a powerful new strain of fact-resistant humans who are threatening the ability of Earth to sustain life, a sobering new study reports.

The research, conducted by the University of Minnesota, identifies a virulent strain of humans who are virtually immune to any form of verifiable knowledge, leaving scientists at a loss as to how to combat them.

“These humans appear to have all the faculties necessary to receive and process information,” Davis Logsdon, one of the scientists who contributed to the study, said. “And yet, somehow, they have developed defenses that, for all intents and purposes, have rendered those faculties totally inactive.”

More worryingly, Logsdon said, “As facts have multiplied, their defenses against those facts have only grown more powerful.”

While scientists have no clear understanding of the mechanisms that prevent the fact-resistant humans from absorbing data, they theorize that the strain may have developed the ability to intercept and discard information en route from the auditory nerve to the brain. “The normal functions of human consciousness have been completely nullified,” Logsdon said.

While reaffirming the gloomy assessments of the study, Logsdon held out hope that the threat of fact-resistant humans could be mitigated in the future. “Our research is very preliminary, but it’s possible that they will become more receptive to facts once they are in an environment without food, water, or oxygen,” he said.

Andy Borowitz is a New York Times best-selling author and a comedian who has written for The New Yorker since 1998. He writes the Borowitz Report for newyorker.com.  http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/scientists-earth-endangered-by-new-strain-of-fact-resistant-humans

Melania shall not move into White House

President-elect Donald Trump confirmed Sunday that future first lady Melania Trump and their 10-year-old son, Barron, will remain in New York after he becomes president, as first reported in the New York Post…

Melania Trump’s decision to not to live in the White House, at least for now, appears unprecedented. Nearly every first lady has taken up residence there. According to the White House Historical Association, George Washington and his wife, Martha Washington, did not live in the White House because it hadn’t been built yet. Also, first lady Anna Harrison, whose husband, William Henry Harrison, was the ninth president of the United States, never moved into the executive mansion because her husband died one month after his swearing-in.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/reliable-source/wp/2016/11/20/melania-trump-and-son-barron-will-reportedly-stay-in-new-york-after-the-presidential-inauguration/?utm_term=.38a43bb53211

trump-familyConsequently,

Protecting Donald Trump and his family members costs New York City more than $1 million every day, city officials said.

The expenses come as city police have been assigned to Trump, his adult children and his grandchildren, who all live in New York and can receive Secret Service protection…

The steep costs are not expected to dip very much once Trump is inaugurated because his wife, Melania Trump, and their 10-year-old son, Barron, are not moving to the White House, at least until Barron is done with school, CNN Money reported. Trump has also said he plans to frequently return to New York.

NYPD officers are protecting Trump and his family through security posts around Trump Tower and by assisting Secret Service at screening checkpoints.

http://time.com/4579340/new-york-city-trump-protect-money/

Imagine if Melania said, no, my son should not cost the city of New York $400 million.  We’ll (sigh) live in the White House.  Give that $400 million, instead, to the New York City School District to build a new school in the poorest section of the city.  (As if.)

Yes!

December 1, 2016

Charlie Rangel was being interviewed on NPR two weeks ago, but here is the web version from CBS:

Rangel, Boxer Propose Constitutional Amendment Abolishing Electoral College

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBSNewYork) — Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) has introduced a bill proposing a constitutional amendment that would abolish the Electoral College.

The move would allow future presidential elections to be decided by the popular vote.

“It is time that we do away the antiquated and obsolete Electoral College system. True democracy should guarantee one person, one vote,” Rangel said.

Rangel’s bill is a House companion to S.J.Res.41 — a bill that was introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) earlier this week.1

Animals Run Amok

Runner gets hit by deer.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGwwxD_vD_8

queens-coyoteCoyote, that denizen of the desert, hangs out in Queens, NY.

Squirrel attacks bicyclist.

Bicycle-Riding Chicago Alderman Injured In Squirrel Attack. Howard Brookins had raised the alarm about “aggressive squirrels” wreaking damage on trash cans in his community. The Chicago Tribune reports that two weeks later he was jumped by a kamikaze squirrel.2

finn-recital-2Family

Went to grandson’s piano recital.

 

 

 

 

rusalkaTook granddaughter to the Arizona Opera to see Rusalka, a very dark version of The Little Mermaid.  Definitely not Disney.

 

 

 

 

 

Then dr-strangetook grandson to see the recent movie Doctor Strange, with Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange, a Marvel Comics superhero, and Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One.  I like superheroes.  But Marvel got ‘whitewashing’ criticisms over Tilda Swinton’s casting.  The mystical character is of Tibetan descent in its original Marvel Comics depiction, so Marvel’s casting of Swinton, a white Scottish woman, for the role has generated controversy.3

park2
My daughter had a combined birthday party for all three kids at the park down the street from her house, complete with a jumping castle, a cotton candy machine, and piñatas.  That was Sunday, when the clouds blew over from California, and it grew “cold” (which in Tucson is 57°) and windy, so that all of the candles on the cakes could not be lit at once.  Luckily it did not rain until nighttime.  I will add that it got down to freezing the past two nights.

me-lyn-price2Thanksgiving

As I usually do, spent Thanksgiving and the next couple of days with friends in San Diego.  (Photo of the three of us at my birthday party.)  Great dinner for ten.

 

 

 

 

 

Next me-butterfield-horseday went to Balboa park to see the museums.  First to the San Diego Museum of Art, which was showing Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture.  Then my friend got a photo of me with a Deborah Butterfield horse which was different than her others (dead). My hand is above it as we can’t touch the art. (I have mentioned her horses in many blogs.3)

 

 

 

Aftererik-gronborg3 a lovely lunch at The Prado we were on to the Mingei International Museum.  Here a photo of Erik Gronborg’s living room in Solana Beach, complete with wooden crows.  The exhibition covers…

…Danish-born American artist’s creative life over fifty-five years… this project brings together examples of Gronborg’s sculpture in cast bronze, carved wood, and other media, as well as studio furniture and a comprehensive survey of his ceramics.

Another exhibition we enjoyed was: Layers of Brilliance: The Journey of Japanese Lacquer Tools.

Thatwhite-xmas evening we went to the Spreckles Theatre to see a stage adaptation of the classic film, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.  The plot was from 1954, but the dancing was fantastic!  I would love to be able to kick straight up!

1http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2016/11/17/rangel-electoral-college/
2http://www.npr.org/2016/11/23/503108904/bicycle-riding-chicago-alderman-injured-in-squirrel-attack
3http://variety.com/2016/film/news/doctor-strange-whitewashing-tilda-swinton-marvel-1201762267/
4https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/denver/
https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2014/02/25/palm-springs/
https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2010/07/05/taking-flight-again
https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2010/03/08/quirky-art/

My life…and the politics continue

November 19, 2016

owlPhotography

My old neighbor and friend, who passed away last December, who used to give me lots of advice on woodworking and lend me his tools, was a serious photographer in retirement.  His goal was to take a photo of every bird in North America.  His widow emailed me to go to Paul Bannick’s talk at Pima College on Saturday.  Paul had been a friend of my neighbor.  So I did.  Now I have to go out and buy $2000 worth of camera equipment (or at least read the manual for my old Canon point-and-shoot).

Marvelous two-hour talk about photographing birds.  I am an inveterate note-taker, so I have two pages of notes.  First find the birds: study their life history, where they are, why they are there, what are they eating, and so on.  Preset your shutter speed depending on their behavior.  Use aperture priority to isolate subject.  Good art – remove everything except what is essential.  Focus on the bird’s eye.  Which is the best lens for the money?  (300mm f/4 telephoto fixed lens for Canon SLR cameras) See dpreview.com  and compare lenses, not cameras.  Shoot raw.  (I know that my brother does.  When shooting in a format like JPEG image information is compressed and lost. Because no information is compressed with RAW you’re able to produce higher quality images, as well as correct problem images that would be unrecoverable if shot in the JPEG format.1)  Shoot in the early morning or late afternoon for the best light.  Then he got into histograms and lost me.

It was sponsored by the Tucson Audubon Society.  About sixty people attended.  I have to add that I had been in the Audubon Society in elementary school, until I found out that John James Audubon killed the birds before he painted them.  I quit and have not joined since.

Audubon, who was born April 26, 1785, first rose to fame through the 435 magnificent paintings he created for his landmark work, “Birds of America,” which detailed more than 700 bird species and was first published as a series on a subscription basis between 1827 and 1838…

He shot and killed every bird he painted. Audubon was a noted hunter and taxidermist, and much of the money he made during his lifetime was from selling animal skins, a practice that in part helped to fund the printing of “Birds of America.” But don’t assume that he took pleasure from killing the birds he painted: “The moment a bird was dead,” he said, “no matter how beautiful it had been in life, the pleasure of possession became blunted for me…”2

Birthday Smiles

My cousin posted photos he and his wife had taken during my birthday week.  This one of my brother, my cousin, me, and my son.me-dick-aaron-and-hal

I just reread all of my birthday cards and noted that four of the fourteen mentioned some aspect of aging:

  • Is this the birthday when you start asking yourself life’s big questions?  Like, “Why did I come into this room?  I knew a minute ago…”  
  • Woo-Hoo!  I remembered my password!
  • A woman opening a box with “My keys!!! My glasses!  How did you know?!” Hope you get everything you’ve been looking for and more! 
  • OMG I thought I was having a hot flash.  Thank God it was only your candles.

 

trump2No smiles here

Trump University agrees to settle lawsuit for $25 million, NY AG announces

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has agreed to settle lawsuits relating to his Trump University series of real estate seminars for $25 million, the New York Attorney General’s office said on Friday.

The suits alleged that the seminars failed to deliver the education it promised. The deal settles two class-action lawsuits in California and a civil suit filed by Schneiderman.

“Today’s $25 million settlement agreement is a stunning reversal by Donald Trump and a major victory for the over 6,000 victims of his fraudulent university,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. “I am pleased that under the terms of this settlement, every victim will receive restitution and that Donald Trump will pay up to $1 million in penalties to the State of New York for violating state education laws…”

— The Associated Press, NBC News and Reuters contributed to this report.3

Hamilton

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 15: Actor Leslie Odom, Jr. (L) and actor, composer Lin-Manuel Miranda (R) perform on stage during "Hamilton" GRAMMY performance for The 58th GRAMMY Awards at Richard Rodgers Theater on February 15, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage)

(Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage)

Many of you will know of the rap musical,  Hamilton: An American Musical… a musical about the life of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, with music, lyrics, and book by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The show, inspired by the 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton by historian Ron Chernow, achieved both critical acclaim [winning the Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album] and box office success.4  I will note that it is the most expensive Broadway show ever, with the average ticket now going for $1200, and has been sold out for months, through January 2017.  Well, Mike Pence went to the show and the actor who plays Burr (and who is black and gay, in fact, all of the characters are historical figures who were all known to have been white, but they are played by actors of many races and ethnicities, notably black, Latino and Asian5) had a closing plea for him.  This is from the New York Times and contains a video.

“Hamilton,” the hit Broadway musical about colonial rebels shaping the future of an unformed country, took an even more political turn at the end of its performance on Friday night.
With Vice President-elect Mike Pence attending the show, the cast used the opportunity to make a statement emphasizing the need for the new administration of President-elect Donald J. Trump, a Republican, to work on behalf of all Americans…
As the play ended, the actor who played Vice President Aaron Burr, Brandon Victor Dixon, acknowledged that Mr. Pence was in the audience, thanked him for attending and added, “We hope you will hear us out.” “We, sir — we — are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights,” he said. “We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”6

michellePhotoshopped but funny

1http://photographyconcentrate.com/10-reasons-why-you-should-be-shooting-raw/
2http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/stories/5-things-you-didnt-know-about-john-james-audubon
3http://www.cnbc.com/2016/11/18/president-elect-donald-trump-nearing-settlement-in-trump-university-case-source.html
4https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamilton_(musical)
5http://www.hesherman.com/2015/12/03/what-does-hamilton-tell-us-about-race-in-casting/
6http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/19/us/mike-pence-hamilton.html?_r=0

Gotta love this country

November 17, 2016

20,000 People Have Donated to Planned Parenthood in Mike Pence’s ‘Honor’…  Pence, Indiana’s governor and a former congressman, has been criticized by some for restrictions on abortion, Planned Parenthood’s president, Cecile Richards, said Tuesday.1

trump‘Knife fight’ as Trump builds an unconventional national security Cabinet2  (Ran out of time in my writing class yesterday or I would have pointed out that’s a metaphor and a hyperbole.)  A friend in Denver cleverly commented, I saw where Trump is already treating his cabinet like the game show and firing people.

She also mentioned, last Wednesday, the day after the election, Tonight I meet with Drinking Liberally- then on Thursday, meet with Denver Pantsuit Nation. I hope that we are moved to action!  So of course, I had to look up those organizations.  There is a Drinking Liberally chapter in Tucson.

What is Drinking Liberally?

An informal, inclusive progressive social group. Raise your spirits
while you raise your glass, and share ideas while you share a pitcher.
Drinking Liberally gives like-minded, left-leaning individuals a place
to talk politics. You don’t need to be a policy expert and this isn’t a
book club – just come and learn from peers, trade jokes, vent
frustration and hang out in an environment where it’s not taboo to talk
politics.

Bars are democratic spaces – you talk to strangers, you share booths,
you feel the bond of common ground. Bring democratic discourse to your
local democratic space – build democracy one drink at a time…

Drinking Liberally is a project of Living Liberally, an organization which builds progressive communities through social networks and events. Living Liberally also runs Laughing Liberally, the political comedy project; Screening Liberally, a series of socially-conscious films; Eating Liberally, events with good gab and great grub; and Reading Liberally, book tours for progressive authors. Living Liberally is a New York-based LLC, led by a team in NYC and fueled by the energy of hundreds of volunteers and partners around the country.

Drinking Liberally was founded in New York City in May, 2003 by Justin Krebs and Matthew O’Neill. With the help of David Alpert, DL went national in the summer of 2004; and with the work of Katrina Baker, that network expanded to 100 chapters by September, 2005. It is still growing today.3

hillaryAlso, had not known that Libby Chamberlain created Pantsuit Nation to support Hillary  less than three weeks ago, according to the New York Times on November 8.

Pantsuit Nation, a ‘Secret’ Facebook Hub, Celebrates Clinton

Some pantsuits were white, in tribute to the dresses of the suffragists. Others were mismatched or borrowed. Many were fished out of the back of a closet, along with a memory of a long-lost job or a somber occasion.

These suits were redeployed by thousands of American women on Election Day, when taking a photo of yourself in a pantsuit and posting it to the “secret” Facebook group Pantsuit Nation became the digital equivalent of slapping an “I Voted” sticker on a lapel.

“They’re coming in at about 1,000 every few minutes,” Libby Chamberlain, the founder of the group, said of the social media posts. “We have over 20,000 posts that are waiting to be approved. We have dozens of moderators and they can’t keep up.”4

celineThis ad was in the New York Times Magazine.  Would anyone actually wear that diaphanous dress (or am I just showing my age?)

punctuation-saves-lives

My daughter sent me that.

ART

Sunday afternoon the TMA CAS (Contemporary Art Society) group went to the renovated Axel building5.  One of our members is a photographer, and she, Cita Scott, has a gallery space there6.  Love these flowers (and carrots!).  She arranges them, then photographs them.

citacrane-day

This is Crane Day, the weaver.  His Ultimate Cocktail Ponchos are fabulous.7

Nicola Marshall was out of town, but I like her paintings8.

img_6571

1http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/20-000-people-have-donated-planned-parenthood-mike-pence-s-n685076
2http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/14/politics/trump-shortlist-national-security-worldview/
3http://livingliberally.org/drinking/about
4http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/09/us/politics/facebook-pantsuit-nation-clinton.html?_r=0
5http://www.centralbarrio.com/new-gallery-2/
6http://citascott.com/
7http://www.craneday.com/index.html
8https://www.facebook.com/nicolamarshallart/