Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Tucson, Mid-July

July 10, 2017

It’s 110° and the clouds are building up over the mountains for our anticipated monsoons, but the humidity is only 9%, so guess it won’t rain tonight.  Yesterday evening had eight drops of rain on my kitchen window!

For the Fourth of July we had BBQ with another family (also with a grandmother included).  The family room had an enormous television on the entire time with a miscellaneous movie.  Some of the kids watched it for ten minutes or so.  The living room was taken up by a jumping castle, kinda like this one.  Six kids, from three to eleven, make an incredible din!

Dinner.  It was much too hot to eat outside so we adults got the dining room, the kids the breakfast room.  The father smokes his own pork, and the pulled pork was incredible delicious. (I didn’t try the ribs.)  My daughter made sangria and marvelous hors d’oeuvres (prosciutto spread with boursin, wrapped around asparagus), I brought watermelon with a cute sculpture on top (which I copied from an internet video, but it’s no longer there!) all of which the kids devoured, and there was coleslaw and a potato salad and a red-white-and-blue cake which I didn’t even taste, I was so full.

Then fireworks in the street.  (In Arizona you’re only allowed fireworks that stay on the ground, so sparklers and smoke bombs are popular.)  After which we drove to a school parking lot above Naranja Park, so we didn’t have to battle for parking, and watched the fireworks with about a dozen other clever families, all with camp chairs.

The coyote wandered by my fence yesterday afternoon, which is no doubt why the ground squirrels are not agilely climbing over my fence today to dine on the wandering jew, with mint for dessert.  (Oops – until just now!)

There was a cactus  longhorn beetle at my door yesterday.  Then are very large, and eat chollas and prickly pear cacti.

Had the grandsons (six and eight) over Friday afternoon, as the rental agency had a guy fixing the leak in the drip system. (! I thought I’d have to do it, so spent two days digging a hole to the PVC pipe in this hard hard dirt.)  The boys got into my games cabinet and I taught them pente, mastermind, and backgammon.  The youngest wants to play monopoly all of the time, but I’ve gotten tired of it.  We played battleship, jenga, and Jamaican-style dominoes at their house the other day.  (You can only spend so much time in the pool!)

Reading

To get my mind off politics, and instead of streaming any more TV series in the evening (except for binging on Anne With an E, and the movie Okja), had read a few scifi.  Got an audio book from the library, an oldie, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert A. Heinlein (used to read a lot of his novels), about a lunar colony’s revolt against rule from Earth.  Interesting look at the future.  The guy who does the reading does the many accents very well.  I usually fell asleep to it, then had to figure where I left off.

Next read The Mote in God’s Eye, by Niven and Pournelle, about the first contact between humanity and an alien species.  Creative take on aliens (not limited to two arms and two legs, as the aliens in the “gateway drug”, Star Trek, which were restricted due to budget – except for the tribbles).  Heinlein described the story as “possibly the finest science fiction novel I have ever read.”

Then I finally got A Man Called Ove,  an international bestseller, recently translated from Swedish, from the library as CD’s, as I enjoy someone reading to me at night.  Loved it!  Laughed and cried (numerous tissues).  Highly recommend it.  It’s now a movie, nominated for two Academy Awards, streaming on Netflix.  Wonder if I’d like that as much as the book…

The New York Times had an article, Summer Reading Books: The Ties That Bind Colleges (college-summer-reading), last Sunday.  Shall put a number of the recommended books (Just Mercy, Hillbilly Elegy, and possibly Silence, which is now a movie, as well as others) on my request list at the library after I get back from my next trip, visiting cousins in Colorado.

Politics

Speaking of which, also in the Times, was a commentary, The Problem With Participatory Democracy Is the Participants.  I was insulted.  You may wish to read it and comment: participatory-democracy

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Back in The Heat

June 28, 2017

Seen Today

A quail with two young’uns crossing the road.  A ground squirrel climbing up the welded wire into my yard to break off pieces of my purple wandering jew; would have thought that it was poisonous. A pair of pyrrhuloxias on the fence.  (Photo of the ground squirrel on the other side of the fence with branch, and a pyrrhuloxia on the purple sweet potato vine.)

A gila woodpecker at the birdbath.  A dove on the barrel cactus eating the fruit.  A coyote behind my  yard chasing (unsuccessfully) the ground squirrels.  (Sorry – bad photo; he was moving fast.)  This hot (106° today) desert is home to many.  But the neighbor’s mesquite has rained seed pods all over; where are the javelina and deer who should be eating them?

My housesitter found a baby snake in the house (how did it get in?), said it refused to be caught, so she had to kill it and save its body for me.  It appears to be a baby kingsnake.

Missed so much last week!  Oro Valley police beat said that one woman was ticketed for illegally making a U-turn, and three teenagers were caught with a bong.

And hadn’t been watching the national news either.  Never heard of Kim Kardashian’s blackface controversy.  Nor of Randy Rainbow’s “Covfefe: The Broadway Medley.”  (He’s A Bit Much, but he has a nice voice, and you can google it.) Or that Jared Kushner finally speaks: Jared Kushner Speaks.

But yes, I do know that Bill Cosby got off, and that the Congressional Budget Office said of the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 that The Senate bill would increase the number of people who are uninsured by 22 million in 2026 relative to the number under current law.

(Have time to catch up on my blogs ’cause my daughter’s family is escaping the heat with another family in the White Mountains for a few days.)

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 fooling.


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

People’s 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/
https://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/