End of Week 333 – The Home Stretch…

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A picture of a cardinal in my back yard. Just because. I like cardinals. I like birds.

I’m getting ready for my second chemo infusion on Tuesday. There is another site where I chronicle that experience. I mention it here as context because I’ve dropped 15 pounds since mid-August. I haven’t been able to exercise as much as I’d like, but I also don’t eat as much. The first chemo infusion took away my appetite for a while and while I wasn’t eating I think my stomach shrank because I’m just not as hungry as I used to be.

I’m also not as interested in SCROTUS as I used to be. Trying to follow the idiocy masquerading as an administration is difficult enough, but when you’re tired anyway for other reasons trying to follow it is irritating. Still, there are things going on that get my attention.

One of the big stories this week has been the disappearance of a journalist, a WashPo contributor, Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi is a citizen of Saudi Arabia, but lives and works in the Northern Virginia area of the USA. He is also a harsh critic of the current monarchy in Saudi Arabia. That I am using the present tense here is me being hopeful. It is becoming more and more likely that while he was in Turkey he entered the Saudi consulate to get the forms required to get married, and never came out. The theory is that a Saudi hit squad was waiting for him, killed him, dismembered him, and shipped his body parts out. Sounds like it should happen only in the movies, right?

If there is an area of the world from which it is difficult to get the truth, it is the Middle East, and especially conservative autocratic countries like Saudi Arabia (SA). Right now there are way more questions than answers. There are reports of Turkey having recordings of the murder, but we have not heard them yet. SA insists Khashoggi left the consulate on his own, but they have not provided video of him leaving. There is video of him entering, so there should also be video of him leaving. Khashoggi’s fiancée was waiting for him just outside the consulate. She was there for hours and he never emerged. It does not make sense that he would voluntarily depart the consulate and just leave her standing there. When Khashoggi first inquired at the consulate regarding obtaining the marriage forms, they told him to come back on October 2nd to get them. They gave him a specific date, and that is the date he returned to the consulate and vanished. We have a lot of different parties making a lot of different claims and no proof of anything, except that Khashoggi is definitely GONE.

So, how does the USA fit into this? First of all, Khashoggi may have been in Turkey when this happened, but he was officially working and living in Virginia, USA. Second, SCROTUS has close ties to the monarchy in SA, all monetary of course. He has way too much personal wealth tied up in that country to be trusted to do the right thing in this case. This sinister mystery made headlines for several days before SCROTUS said anything. It apparently was more important for SCROTUS to hold court for, and be worshiped by, F-bomb dropping Kanye West in the Oval Office than to take a position on the possibility of his rich friends committing a horrible crime.

Besides personal wealth, SCROTUS does not want to endanger the arms deal he has going between the US and SA. When asked about it, SCROTUS said he doesn’t want to endanger the defense industry jobs that are dependent upon us filling SA’s arms order. Someone in Congress should investigate how this ties in to any and all Trump family business in SA. Rather than hold SA’s feet to the fire to get the truth; it is more important that the US provide SA with even more arms than we already have. That way we can be even more complicit and responsible the next time SA launches weapons against another country and kills a bus full of school children.

SCROTUS also said he asked the SA monarch about Khashoggi, and the monarch denied the accusations “in every way imaginable”. Well, I guess that settles it. SA is innocent. After all, all it took was Putin denying that Russia cyberattacked us to convince SCROTUS. Since he does not want to anger SA, their denials will probably be all SCROTUS needs to just brush off the whole thing.

Until next week….

 

 

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End of Week 332 – The Predictable Disaster Happens….

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Ok, Kavanaugh is on SCOTUS. Happened over the weekend. I knew that was how it was going to end. The GOP is in control and they restricted the follow-up investigation. Once the vote was taken Saturday night they brought Kavanaugh (BK) in for a sneak swearing-in before anything could go wrong.

The aftermath is interesting. Two senators are having to explain their votes for Kavanaugh – Republican Susan Collins of Maine, and Democrat Joe Manchin of WVA. WVA is a “red” state. Manchin broke with his party to support BK, probably because he is from a red state and it appears he is up for reelection. The people of WVA are in a “no win” situation. Manchin is the Democratic candidate, but that doesn’t seem to mean much since he will vote GOP when it is expedient and benefits him. So, WVA has either a DINO (dem in name only) senator, or a genuine GOP senator. Either way the vote results are the same.

Collins is different. She is not up for reelection, and I’m sure she is counting on everyone forgetting about what she has done and said in 2018 prior to her reelection in 2020. Even though she is from Maine, considered a blue state, she appears to be so comfortable in her position that she doesn’t have to worry about what anyone thinks.

Collins spent most of the weekend after the vote explaining on various talk shows and in news interviews why she voted to confirm. During those explanations she managed to insult Dr. Ford (Kavanaugh’s main accuser), express doubt as to Dr. Ford’s mental abilities, talk patronizingly about Dr. Ford and other assault victims, and completely ignore the fact that one cannot find corroborating evidence when the GOP knows where that evidence is and deliberately keeps it from being obtained. But that wasn’t the worst.

It seems a victims rights group informed Collins that if she voted to confirm Kavanaugh they would raise as much money as allowed and contribute to her opponent in 2020. Collins proceeded to call what they said “blackmail” and “buying votes”. Really?? How is what that group did any different from the NRA buying every GOP politician they can? Until Collins said that I actually kind of respected her, despite disagreeing politically. Now I see she is really just like the rest of the GOP, and I hope the Dems can get someone strong to run against her in a couple of years.

And SCROTUS, in true SCROTUS fashion, is now making outrageous statements about the whole process. He has called victims of sexual assault “paid professionals”, and said that Dr. Ford, her painful disclosures, and all her supporters are one big Democratic HOAX. He has called Kavanaugh “flawless”. Now, I’m not religious, but last I heard there was only one person anybody ever claimed was flawless, and that was over 2000 years ago!

I think the most discouraging thing about this is how similar Susan Collins sounds to SCROTUS. I really thought she was classier than that.

Until next week….

End of Week 331 – Well, that was a circus…

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Ok, running a little late this week. It is October 1st and October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Right now, no one is more aware than I, for obvious reasons. For more on this go to http://www.weightloss4charity.com and click on “blog” in the upper right corner. I’ll do a new post there sometime this week.

Meanwhile, SCROTUS is calling Dr. Ford “credible”; he is blackmailing an unnamed US senator in public (like in front of the mics); and he has fallen in love – with Kim Jong Un???

Of course, all the stuff about Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has to do with the confirmation hearing of Brett Kavanaugh for a vacant SCOTUS seat. I think SCROTUS is being dumb like a fox in this case. After Dr. Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee panel SCROTUS tried to sound a little sympathetic and open-minded, even to the point of ordering an additional FBI investigation. The flip side is, despite his statements to the contrary, it appears SCROTUS/”the White House” is placing restrictions on what this investigation can cover. There is a time restriction, and there are certain people and alleged events that the FBI has been told they cannot investigate/interview. This can change, naturally, once the WH gauges public reaction.

As we all know, many women are angry that a man who they believe attacked Dr. Ford a long time ago may be appointed to SCOTUS for life, especially since he has made it clear that he does not believe in women’s rights. That is not my overriding concern. It does concern me, and I believe Dr. Ford, but I am also concerned about Kavanaugh’s position that a sitting president is above the law. I believe the position is that a sitting president should not have to worry about being indicted or sued while in office. If a serious enough situation arises there is impeachment, and then he or she can face other legal action after leaving office.

That’s all well and good, but what if the sitting president travels beyond the reach of our laws right after leaving office? Seems extreme I know, but I wouldn’t put it past SCROTUS, who I think believes he has nominated a “stay out of jail free card” in Kavanaugh.

With the GOP controlling both congressional houses, the White House, and a lot of the judiciary, I think eventually Kavanaugh will be approved and will end up on SCOTUS for many years – certainly for the rest of my life. A lot of what SCOTUS considers does not affect me directly at this stage of my life, but I am concerned for the well-being of younger generations and those continuing to fight for their rights. I am concerned about a conservative-dominated federal government trying to do things like making everyone be “Christian” (in the Trump style evangelical sense, which is nothing but evil). Sure, that would be unconstitutional, but a conservative SCOTUS would find a way around that. They’ve already done it once.

But on to more entertaining absurdities. When I first heard that SCROTUS stated he and Kim Jong Un “fell in love”, I thought it was a joke; didn’t believe it at all. Today I was watching the news and saw the video. He really did say that – more than once in fact. If Obama or any other Democratic president had said that the GOP would be going nuts. I’m not even sure another GOP prez could get away with that statement. The GOP is supposed to be the party of “superpatriotism”, conservative pro-military nationalistic isolation, right? So, what is it about SCROTUS?

Members of the GOP and SCROTUS supporters will tell you that they like his strength. They think that because SCROTUS acts strong, the country is strong. How long will it take before they realize SCROTUS is not trying to make the USA strong? Everything he does is to make himself personally strong, and not in a good way. Why does he like Kim, and other leaders like Kim, so much? Because they have TOTAL CONTROL OVER ENTIRE NATIONS. SCROTUS is an authoritarian wannabe. To SCROTUS, strength rests in him and only him! His supporters may not realize what’s happening until it is too late.

Finally, the news broadcast that showed SCROTUS declaring his undying love for Kim also showed him saying that he has compromising information on a democratic senator, and the Dems better not stand in the way of Kavanaugh, or else! Seriously, he said this in front of the public, the press, and into the live mics! Sounds like blackmail to me; something I thought was illegal (but I’m no attorney).

He was asked to name the senator, and would not. This is typical of SCROTUS. He often makes outlandish statements with no evidence and not enough information to confirm or deny. So, in this case, I CALL BULLSHIT!! I think he’s talking through his ass and making more empty threats. Either that, or he thinks it’s ok to blackmail people in front of  everyone. Really??

Until next week….

End of Week 330 – Waiting Game, but for what?

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We are coming to the close of baseball season. I want to post this picture now just in case my Cardinals do not make the post-season play. They still have a chance to get the second wild card spot in the National League, but I never assume. So, I’m waiting for the last few regular games to be played, and then we’ll see.

We’re all playing a waiting game politically as well. Most of it revolves around Brett Kavanaugh and his confirmation hearings to be a SCOTUS justice. A woman named Dr. Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexually attacking her back in high school. Now we are all waiting to see if she will testify before Congress, and if so, when?

Just a guess on my part, but I suspect this will not keep the GOP members of the committee holding these hearings from voting to send Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate. What interests me about all this are the side arguments it has precipitated. Some male GOP committee members have been pushing the idea that even if the attack happened, it was back in high school and that kind of thing happens in high school all the time.

So, according to these men, during high school years girls are fair game and boys cannot be held accountable??

Next there is the problem of various GOP politicians making jokes or dismissive statements about sexual assault. Rep. Ralph Norman (R – SC) opened a campaign debate by stating that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, when she was nominated, claimed she was groped by Abraham Lincoln. Of course he was kidding, but the real message was that the women coming forward with their stories of assault and abuse should not be believed. I haven’t heard how, or even if, Justice Ginsburg responded.

Trump showed some restraint at first, but that didn’t last. He finally had to say something or bust I imagine. So, he displayed his complete lack of understanding of the abuse victims’ situations by saying that if the attack were really that bad it would have been reported when it happened, and why didn’t she report it. This upset many who support the victims of sexual assault, but I’m not sure what they expected. Trump has bragged ON TAPE about what he is able to do with women. What else would he say?

Then there is the ever-present question of the release of records. A good portion of Kavanaugh’s records have not been provided, and many Democrats in congress, and many of us who have been following these hearings, are wondering what Trump and the GOP are hiding.

Finally, we are waiting for midterm elections. Campaigns are rolling along. Polls are being reported almost daily. I don’t pay much attention to any of it. I find out about the candidates, decide who I want, vote in November, and that is it. I do worry about getting the Blue vote out. It is vital for the country that Democrats do very well in midterms. If things continue the way they are the country is going down the tubes.

And outside my window I see cardinals and house finches and goldfinches and titmice. All this summer I’ve had a pair of hummingbirds buzzing about my back yard. I know they will migrate south soon, but I’m glad they decided they liked my yard this summer. Watching the birds puts things in perspective.

Until next week….

End of Week 329 – There’s the circus, and then there’s what’s really important…

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It has been an active week to say the least. I’m recording my breast cancer experience on my second site, http://www.weightloss4charity.com/blog. As you can see, I intended the site for another project, but that project will have to wait until I get through this cancer thing. If you are interested, the first post is up.

Any week has the important and the not so important. This week was a perfect example. We began with the release of “FEAR” by Bob Woodward on Tuesday. I’m sure it will be an entertaining book, but in the grand scheme of things in the world it certainly is not the most important event. Of course, you wouldn’t know that to hear SCROTUS react.

He tweeted and he had his minions, particularly Sarah Sanders, denounce the book at every opportunity. SCROTUS’ reaction falls in the category of protesting too much. Woodward couldn’t have bought better exposure. I think book sales are already over a million copies. I’m waiting for mine to arrive.

More important than a book release this week was a development in the Mueller investigation. Paul Manafort has flipped! We knew he was headed for a second trial. Manafort has agreed to plead guilty to a couple of fairly serious sounding charges, like “conspiring against the United States”. Then it was reported that part of the plea agreement is a 17-page agreement to cooperate with Mueller. Now you know Mueller and the prosecutors would not have entered into this agreement without knowing something about the information they were going to get. Everyone is salivating. We all want to know what Manafort is going to tell Mueller. The only reaction from SCROTUS so far is a roundabout denial from Sarah Sanders, in which she refers to “his victorious campaign”.

Yes, he is now occupying the White House, but it is because he was appointed by the Electoral College. He was NOT voted in by the people. He lost the popular vote. We do not currently have a legitimate president (my personal opinion).

Despite all the political excitement this week, there were two events that overshadowed it all in importance. First, natural gas explosions rocked more than one town outside of Boston, MA. Many homes were destroyed and at least one person was killed. They are still trying to figure out what happened. Meantime, many people are homeless and demanding answers.

Second, Hurricane Florence attacked the coasts of both Carolinas and is now moving inland very slowly. Record rain is falling and flooding is catastrophic. Fortunately, many area residents evacuated so damage is mostly limited to property, but that is bad enough. First responders are working around the clock to rescue those who did not heed the orders to evacuate and stranded animals.

Unfortunately, not even something like a hurricane can escape politics completely in the age of SCROTUS. In the days leading up to landfall, which means for most of last week, SCROTUS spent a lot of his time praising himself for the job he did after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, and DENYING the death toll of that storm. Basically, he said that those who died after Maria left, but because of conditions created by Maria, should not be counted. He wants to count only those who died during the time the storm was actually raging on the island.

SCROTUS does not seem to realize that deaths from aftermath count. If they didn’t, it would be like saying the Japanese who died, years later, from cancer due to radiation exposure in Hiroshima and Nagasaki did not die because of the bombs! That’s ridiculous, and so is the position of SCROTUS on this issue!

My picture this week is a reminder that we all need to come to the aid of our fellow-man when disasters like explosions and hurricanes happen.

Until next week…

 

 

 

End of Week 328 – A Week of Fear, Physical And Literary….

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I’m afraid fitness and diet are going to be taking a back seat for a while. I’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer. We’re still in the testing stage; trying to determine what type of surgery will be best and what type of follow up treatment will be required. Wish I could say I’m surprised, but I’m not. My mother got breast cancer early, like at 55. She beat it, but got Multiple Myeloma later. I don’t think the two were related. I’m just hoping I can beat this like she did.

It started with a mammogram, just a standard 3D test, on a Thursday. Friday they called me back for a second mammogram and an ultrasound. The following week I was sent for an ultrasound guided needle biopsy (which was not nearly as uncomfortable as it sounds). Then I met with the PA from a surgeon’s office, who told me they found cancer in the right breast. I was scheduled for an MRI to see if the left breast is also involved. So far, it isn’t. Finally, I met with the surgeon. We decided we needed more information to determine whether I want a lumpectomy or a mastectomy. My PET scan is tomorrow morning (Monday). I will meet with a medical oncologist the following Monday in the morning, and with the surgeon that same day in the afternoon. After all that I am hoping to have a date for my surgery.

In the meantime, I’m going to write. I’d like to journal about this breast cancer experience, and I may switch it to my second blog site that I’m not writing in at the moment.

Last week was very entertaining on the SCROTUS front. This coming Tuesday Bob Woodward’s book, “FEAR”, is being released. It is supposed to be about the chaos inside the SCROTUS administration, from first hand interviews. Excerpts were leaked, and SCROTUS spent the week screaming, mostly via Twitter, about how the book is “a total work of fiction”. Woodward is a great journalist and knows that you never write something like this without the tapes/notes/videos/etc. to back up everything. Can’t wait to read the book!

While SCROTUS was worrying about “FEAR” the New York Times published a letter to the editor about the same subject – how the SCROTUS staff knows SCROTUS is in way over his head, cannot handle the job, and is making dangerous decisions – and what they do about it. The upshot is the USA is currently a country that must be protected from the man who currently occupies the White House. The most entertaining thing about the letter is that the NYT published it anonymously. They say they know who wrote it, but that publishing the author’s name would place the author in jeopardy. The author is supposed to be a highly placed SCROTUS administration official. So, the game of the week in Washington DC has been “Who wrote the letter?”

You can imagine SCROTUS’ reaction. SCROTUS called the author a coward and a liar. He wants the Department of Justice (Jeff Sessions) to investigate the NYT and make them turn over the author’s name, based on national security. There is no classified information in the letter and nothing that comes even close to national security level. SCROTUS has even suggested the person who wrote the letter has committed treason.

You see the danger, right? We have a man in the WH who is willing (and in fact thinks it is completely appropriate) to use federal government agencies to go after those who say unflattering things about him. Basically, to go after his enemies. I have always tried to avoid comparisons with Nazis/Hitler as a matter of respect to the victims of that time. Unfortunately, there is no escaping that what SCROTUS wants Sessions to do makes the DOJ just like Hitler’s Gestapo – going after perceived enemies. This use of governmental units for personal vendettas is a hallmark of authoritarian rule.

And as far as the suggestion of treason is concerned, SCROTUS obviously has no idea what treason means. He seems to think it is treason to criticize the person who is serving as president (I can’t bring myself to refer to SCROTUS that way). In these times, and according to US law, treason involves a US citizen waging war against the US, or aiding and abetting an enemy of the US. The author of the letter did neither.

In the end, we must not let all the silliness and shenanigans of the SCROTUS administration distract us from the midterm elections. PLEASE REGISTER AND VOTE!!!

Until next week….

End of Week 327 – Loss, Distractions, and the Unknown…

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Abnormal is the new normal. As much as I wish our days could be filled with trips to the gym, healthy cooking, and travel, that is not to be for a while. Things are up in the air for us personally. I’m not going into detail until I know more, but as you can imagine, it revolved around the world of medicine. I’m getting very tired of doctors.

Medical happenings and my son’s birthday kept me from writing this last week. Since then there has been a lot of loss. The world mourns Aretha Franklin and John McCain. Since I am political the loss of McCain hit me particularly hard. I often disagreed with him politically, but I respected the hell out of him, as any sane person did. I also knew he could be counted on to reach across the aisle when necessary. Don’t know who will do that now. I can’t think of another US senator who is willing to do that, except maybe Delaware’s own Chris Coons. He seems to be able to work with opponents. I’ve seen bills he has sponsored with GOP senators. Maybe our state can lead the way.

SCROTUS was specifically not invited to Senator McCain’s funeral. This happened months ago and everyone who follows politics knew about it. There was a lot of controversy surrounding what SCROTUS did and did not do when McCain passed. First, the flag at the White House was lowered for a day and a half – the minimum required by the Flag Code. Normally, a president signs a proclamation directing that flags be at half-staff through the day of interment. SCROTUS did this only after receiving major blowback for not doing it right away.

SCROTUS was silent about McCain’s death for a long time. When he finally tweeted something, it was a one liner with sympathy for the family and not one mention of McCain’s personal qualities. SCROTUS disliked McCain, and we all know how SCROTUS acts when he doesn’t like someone. The one line tweet came before he finally signed a proclamation to lower the flags through today.

Perhaps the most telling SCROTUS reaction came during the funeral service in Washington DC. It was beautiful, moving, and inspirational, and it made SCROTUS seethe. He could not stop tweeting. He tweeted constantly while the rest of the nation was watching the service (which was televised by the mainstream news services). Surprisingly, he did not tweet about McCain or the service, so I guess that’s something. It was reported that he said he thought coverage of McCain’s passing was “over the top” and suited more for a president.

What it all boils down to is SCROTUS cannot stand it when he is not the absolute, unquestioned, and sole center of attention.

Case in point, when he said something about the passing of Aretha Franklin he said that “she worked for me a lot.” Regardless of the subject, he has to frame everything around himself.

Many see this as one of the signs of a developing despot. SCROTUS displays several. He has convinced his base that only he can be trusted to give them the truth regarding the country and what he is doing to it; regarding things like Mueller’s investigation; regarding just about anything. He’s trying to convince the rest of us, but it isn’t working as well as with his base. He’s best buds with other dictators and has alienated our longtime allies. He has warned Congress not to interfere with what he wants to do with things like trade agreements – threatening to take unilateral action without consulting them at all. SCROTUS wants to be all-controlling with no checks or balances.

Sound scary? It should. We should all be very afraid.

Until next week….