Thursday, March 30, 2017

Call for Demonstration Against Nunes

Representative Devin Nunes, Republican of the 22nd Congressional District that wends its way from Tulare through Visalia up to Clovis, has long been a local embarrassment. He is now also a national laughingstock. As Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee he is in charge of the crucially important investigation to determine the extent of Russian interference in last November's election and whether any Americans were complicit. If they were it would amount to treason against the United States. The Director of the FBI has confirmed that his bureau is also conducting its own investigation into this very subject. A number of people involved with the Trump presidential campaign are subjects of this investigation.

Rather than fulfilling this important role impartially in the interest of American national security, from the outset Nunes has engaged in a public campaign to minimize the importance of the issue and to deflect blame from President Trump and any of his associates. Once some evidence did begin to become available, Nunes went to the White House to receive it and briefed Trump, without even sharing the information with the members of his own committee. Imagine what type of "independent" congressional "investigation" Nunes has in mind when he informs the target of the investigation what is going on before he even allows the Democrats and Republicans on his committee to see and vet the intelligence themselves. The obvious partisanship was unfortunately predictable given that Nunes was a leading figure of the Trump transition team. Newspapers across the political spectrum from the Wall Street Journal to the Washington Post have all called on Nunes to step down, which he has up to now refused to do. His own constituents have little say; he hasn't had a town hall, debate or other open public appearance in his district in years.

The congressman will be back in the area to talk to his favorite kind of people, big money supporters, tomorrow. If you can make it to Fresno, I encourage you to go and help encourage some accountability from Rep. Nunes. I've pasted the appeal below from the Visalia Democratic Club. If you participate, remember to keep it peaceful!

Event: Rally Against Nunes
Date: Friday, March 31st
Time: Noon to 2 PM, Sign-ups start at 10:30 AM
Place: Tornino's Banquet Hall in Fresno
          5080 N. Blackstone Ave. (Just north of Shaw and Blackstone)

Representative Devin Nunes will be giving a speech at the Ag Lenders Society of California. Our group will be rallying outside Tornino's, where he will be speaking. Since he is getting so much national coverage, various organizations have contacted the Rachel Maddow show to drum up attention to help get support for the UnseatNunes Crowdpac. Therefore, this rally needs to be BIG!!!! It's also critical that the rally be nonviolent and does not interfere with the Lenders' meeting that will be going on inside Tornino's. The goal is to send a message to the country, with lots of signs and attendance that we are not happy with Nunes.
We need your help to spread the word so we can get lots of people at this rally!
Sherry Timmons (559)334-7531

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.