Monday, March 20, 2017

Liar in Chief Exposed in Congressional Hearing

The House Intelligence Committee met today to investigate President Trump's recent charges that President Obama ordered phone taps of Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign. FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers were clear with the results of their investigations: Trump's tweets containing these allegations are complete fabrications without a shred of evidence behind them. In other words, the President of the United States is a brazen, bald-faced liar.

"I have no information that supports those tweets," Comey told the committee, adding that the Justice Department, along with the FBI, had no information to support the allegations. Comey said that no president could order a wiretapping operation against a specific American citizen.

Trump's spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump would not apologize to Obama for the accusations against him, adding that there were questions still remaining about surveillance that may or may not have taken place during the campaign.

A Fox News report had also intimated that British intelligence might have done the job for Obama, a charge that Trump and his Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, have repeated. CNN reports: Rogers said under questioning from the top Democrat on the committee that there was no information that the Obama administration requested the British surveillance agency GCHQ to conduct eavesdropping on Trump, as stated in a Fox News report that has been cited by the White House. He also said that he had not personally done so."No, sir, and nor would I, that would be expressly against the construct of the Five Eyes agreement that has been in place for decades."

Comey and Rogers were also questioned about Russian involvement in trying to sway the 2016 election to Trump. The FBI investigation is still proceeding on this, and based on the research so far Comey directly corroborated these suspicions. "They wanted to hurt our democracy, hurt her, help him. I think all three we were confident in at least as early as December," Comey said.

Friday, March 17, 2017

What Jesus Would Say to Paul Ryan

What are the ethical underpinnings of society? Are there moral principles which provide a guide for the objectives of public policy? How do the foundational standards of the Judeo-Christian world view, the starting point for any discussion of right and wrong in Western Civilization, guide our steps in meeting societal needs? These are big philosophical questions, and any political debate is conditioned by the moral perspectives of those involved. Since the object of politics is to accomplish good for the polity, what is done depends on what one considers good, and that depends on where one goes to find moral guidance.

Nicholas Kristof has written a column on the health care debate in the form of a parable. It expresses his idea of what Jesus would say to Paul Ryan. It expresses my own views as well. I invite you to read it for yourself and see what you think. Read it on this link.


Monday, March 13, 2017

Hacksaw Ridge

I saw "Hacksaw Ridge" today and I'd have to rate it the best World War II movie I've ever seen. That's saying a lot because I include such films as "The Longest Day," "Saving Private Ryan," "Letters from Iwo Jima," and even "Patton." It's a marvelous story and character study, with enough background to both lay the groundwork and develop empathy for the people involved. Then of course come the combat scenes, and in this case I find them unparalleled for their realism.

The true-life story of Desmond Doss set the stage for this magnificent film. Almost drummed out of the service for his refusal to carry a gun and shunned by his comrades-in-arms for what they mistook to be his cowardice, he went on to save 75 of their lives under the utmost peril of his own life in one of the most epic stories of heroism ever told. He is the only conscientious objector ever to win America's highest military award, the Medal of Valor. 

Andrew Garfield is brilliant in the title role and director Mel Gibson turns in an incredible job of painting the picture and telling the story. Unless you can't take graphic combat wounds "Hacksaw Ridge" is a must-see.

Friday, March 10, 2017

AARP Urges Defeat of GOP Health Plan

AARP has come out strongly against the Republican health proposal. The organization's  announcement today is reproduced below. It's one of the most concise list of the plan's shortcomings I've seen. This harmful legislation would take health care away from millions of people, take billions of dollars away from Medicare and inflate the budget deficit. If it passes in its present form many thousands of people will die. It's that stark. To go to the AARP's full newsletter on the topic click here.

In a statement today, AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond announced AARP’s opposition to the House plan that would make changes to our current health care system, such as shortening the life of Medicare, hiking costs for those who can least afford higher insurance premiums, risking seniors’ ability to live independently, and giving tax breaks to big drug companies and health insurance companies:

“AARP opposes this legislation, as introduced, that would weaken Medicare, leaving the door open to a voucher program that shifts costs and risks to seniors.
“Before people even reach retirement age, big insurance companies could be allowed to charge them an age tax that adds up to thousands of dollars more per year. Older Americans need affordable health care services and prescriptions. This plan goes in the opposite direction, increasing insurance premiums for older Americans and not doing anything to lower drug costs.
“On top of the hefty premium increase for consumers, big drug companies and other special interests get a sweetheart deal.
“Finally, Medicaid cuts could impact people of all ages and put at risk the health and safety of 17.4 million children and adults with disabilities and seniors by eliminating much-needed services that allow individuals to live independently in their homes and communities. Although no one believes the current health care system is perfect, this harmful legislation would make health care less secure and less affordable.

AARP stands ready to work with both parties on legislation that puts Americans first, not the special interests.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

FBI Director Calls Trump a Liar

Directly from the New York Times below. To see the full original article click here.

WASHINGTON — The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, asked the Justice Department this weekend to publicly reject President Trump’s assertion that President Barack Obama ordered the tapping of Mr. Trump’s phones, senior American officials said on Sunday. Mr. Comey has argued that the highly charged claim is false and must be corrected, they said, but the department has not released any such statement.

Mr. Comey, who made the request on Saturday after Mr. Trump leveled his allegation on Twitter, has been working to get the Justice Department to knock down the claim because it falsely insinuates that the F.B.I. broke the law, the officials said.

A spokesman for the F.B.I. declined to comment. Sarah Isgur Flores, the spokeswoman for the Justice Department, also declined to comment.

Mr. Comey’s request is a remarkable rebuke of a sitting president, putting the nation’s top law enforcement official in the position of questioning Mr. Trump’s truthfulness. The confrontation between the two is the most serious consequence of Mr. Trump’s weekend Twitter outburst, and it underscores the dangers of what the president and his aides have unleashed by accusing the former president of a conspiracy to undermine Mr. Trump’s young administration.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Personal Announcement

Dear Readers:

This is to let everyone know that new entries in Brave Gnu Whirled may be sparse for awhile. My wife Joan and I are preparing our home in Visalia for sale. We are retiring and plan to move to our condominium in Rancho Bernardo (San Diego area) permanently once Joan finishes her school year on June 9. Much of our furniture is being moved out today to ready the house for staging. Our target date to put the house on the market is March 2. I am so grateful for your readership and support. In the mean time, don't forget that now is the time to get involved and make a difference. Several of the new administration's plutocratic and reactionary initiatives have already been derailed or curtailed by the concerted efforts of an aroused citizenry. The U.S. Senate, for instance, reports public contact running five times higher than normal!

The disappointment at Trump's election, nauseating cabinet nominations and first actions as president has been lessened to some extent by the consequent rise of the Resistance movement to oppose his half-baked, inhumane, impractical, unamerican and unconstitutional agenda. The liberal/progressive majority has awakened and its resolve is a heartening thing to behold. We haven't seen this level of commitment and enthusiasm since the Obama candidacy in 2008. I encourage you to act locally to support this movement. Call your representatives, join a march, write letters to your local newspaper, speak out in the public comment segment at your city council and school board meetings, talk to your friends, join an organization, and most of all, vote. Here's a link to a piece on how to effectively get your message across to the office of an elected official. 

Peace to you and yours!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Trump's Strataegy of Divide and Rule

Does Donald Trump have a strategy as president, or is he a loose cannon? His approval rating among Americans is the lowest of any chief executive this early in his presidency, with only 44% approving and 53% disapproving of his performance in a CNN/ORC survey. Trump is the only chief executive underwater in the polls in his first month since such polls began, which go all the way back to Eisenhower. So, is he blowing it big time?

No, his actions are, I believe, intentional and politically calculated. Trump is 90% popular with Republicans, the survey showed. That's what he's after. If, for example, his executive order banning anyone from entering the country from seven Muslim nations continues to get shot down by the courts, this will serve only to rile up his Republican base all the more. This is also why political strategist Steve Bannon was appointed to a permanent position on the National Security Council (NSC) while the Chairman of the Armed Forces Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence were removed from the list of NSC principals. Another gambit is talk of ending the separation of church and state mandated by the Bill of Rights. Every move he is making is for political effect; the national interest is virtually irrelevant. Trump, Bannon, Kellyann Conway and the entire team will continue to do all they can to gin up reactionaries including the GOP base. They are willing to risk also activating the liberals, which they certainly are doing as well. My appearance at the Pacific Beach Democratic Club in San Diego last night showed me just how incensed and energized liberals are to oppose the Trump agenda. Trump's calculation is that red meat to the right will beat the effect of red meat to the left. To oppositely paraphrase Bush 43, DJT is a divider, not a uniter, and by design. We'll see if or how long this works, and whether the nation can maintain its cohesion in the interim.