Trump’s Priorities

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I’ve refrained from writing much about the Trump years partly because I still can’t believe he was elected president.  It feels like a cruel joke and I’ve suffered terribly watching the Trump administration roll out the most vile policies and comments that I have ever seen or heard from politicians in the U.S.  Trump has been an utter disgrace and embarrassment to a majority of Americans.  And that he still has the support of 45% or so in his pocket frightens me. I say still because despite his racism, bigotry, lying, criminality, and just overall ignorance in every area in which a president should have expertise, his supporters remain loyal.  I get why Republicans politicians support him. They won’t cross him for fear of being shamed and primaried. However, the MAGA crowd seems to view him as a sort of sports figure who they love to cheer on.  He’s the underdog with power who is kicking the liberal butts.  They don’t like elite liberals who make them feel inadequate, and they see in Trump a kind of savior.  They fanatically and uncritically embrace all that he says and does defending even the most deplorable policies.  And they don’t seem to understand that Trump’s ineffective policies and inept leadership have in many cases made their lives appreciably worse.  They don’t get that Trump is President (by accident) to further his own brand and that he could care less about them.  He wants to be reelected to stay out of prison, not to MAGA. His idea of make America great is to sell it to the highest bidder – Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the fossil fuel industry or to anyone else with cash.  I can’t help but wonder if his antics with Kim Jong Un are nothing more than a ploy to get himself a Nobel Prize or a lucrative North Korean land deal for a future Trump Hotel and Resort.  His deference to Russia clearly suggests he’s more interested in future financial deals and gaining acceptance into the Dictator Club than he is in preserving democracy.  He’s less interested in border security than he is in creating a monument to himself in the shape of a wall.

As to priorities other than himself, his family and his brand, let’s look at some of the key vacancies in executive branch positions that need Senate confirmation.  Out of 726  positions, 137 have no nominees even named.  These vacancies say a lot about Trump’s priorities. Below are a list of a few with brief commentary:

Homeland Security has only an acting director and just 41% of positions within the department filled.  One would think that the 2 billion request for the wall might be more wisely spent to adequately staff the department.  Amazingly, Homeland Security has no Deputy Secretary, no CFO, no Undersecretary for Management, no ICE Directors, (one just announced after two withdrew their nominations) and no Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Over at the Justice Department, less than half of the positions have been filled (and we are almost three years into the Trump presidency). There’s no nominee for Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Program Division (surprised?), no Assistant Attorney general for the Tax Division (but of course not), no DEA Administrator or Deputy Administrator,  no Parole Commissioners, no Special Counsel for Immigration-related Unfair Employment Practices, and no Director of Community Relations Service.

At the Department of Interior, incredibly, there is no Director for the National Parks Service, one of the most treasured of our resources and widely visited by tourists from all over the world. But not having a Director for the Parks Service is no accident because Trump hates the environment and can’t understand why we don’t just chop down the forests and frack the hell out of Yellowstone.

Even the Executive Office of the President is understaffed. Clearly key positions are deemed unimportant like Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs, Office of Science and Technology Policy and of course who needs an Associate Director for Technology Policy? Not Trump.  I mean, there’s no need to secure our elections or to invest in technology.  We have the Internet, what could be more advanced? And there’s no Chairman for Economic Advisers, and no members even nominated for the Council on Environmental Quality, but who cares about the environment and we all know global warming and climate change are a big hoax.  God is just punishing Macron with a hot summer for levying a tax on big tech companies. We’ll get them back by taxing French wine and anyway, American wine looks better.

And here are some key ambassadorships that are vacant:

Ukraine, Honduras, Belize, Brazil, Chad, Chile, Cuba, Estonia, Georgia, Japan, Jordan, Pakistan, Panama, Qatar, Singapore, Tanzania.

I wonder if Putin told Trump to stay the hell out of Ukraine, Estonia, and Georgia.  And that we don’t have diplomatic relations with Brazil and Chile is unconscionable.  No diplomat in Japan, what?  And how on earth are we supposed to address the refugee crisis on the border if we have not established a diplomatic relationship with Honduras? Oh, right, Bolton says we can’t do diplomacy.  And that’s also what Senator Tom Cotton is whispering into the President’s ear.

 

 

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Creamer-Fed Cows

From the very opinionated desk of Ribbie’s Weblog

I was scanning my Facebook Newsfeed and ran across an article that could have been from The Onion.  And holy cow, dairy cows are now being fed coffee creamer to make their milk taste better!  This is one of the most absurd ideas I have ever heard and I am astonished that this practice even exists.

If there’s one thing I dislike more than skim milk, it would be coffee creamer, particularly that flammable non-dairy creamer powder.  In my opinion, it tastes nothing like cow’s milk and in coffee, what a disaster.  The petroleum like substance overpowers the flavor of the coffee and leaves a terrible aftertaste that lingers on the palate for months.  Why even go there when you could add real milk to your coffee? The common answer to this I suppose is convenience.  You don’t have to refrigerate non-dairy creamer because of the preservative qualities of its chemicals.  Just pour and store like you would a salt shaker. Half and Half isn’t much better in my opinion because it’s not clear what the halves are – is it half disodium phosphate and sodium citrate and half milk and cream?  Anyway, the creamer in the convenient polluting cups probably has a half life of about 24,000 years.

Mad Cows

“All I wanted was some grass, man, and he wouldn’t give it to me!”

And why on god’s green earth would dairy farmers feed their cows this toxic brew of powder? The Iowa farmer who favors this practice says it makes the cows’ milk taste better? Really? I suppose if you like creamer in your milk.  It simply makes no sense in an age when consumers, like me, increasingly demand organic milk from grass-fed cows.  With the movement toward truth in labeling, farmers should be required to stamp across the carton of milk, Coffee Creamer-Fed Cows.  Poor cows.  All they wanted was some grass, man, and one Iowa farmer wouldn’t give it to them.

Warren might be the best candidate

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How do the Dems beat Trump? It goes without saying that they need to nominate the best candidate.  But which of the candidates would have the strongest chance of beating Trump? Or should that even be the metric, especially if any of a number of candidates could beat Trump.  According to the latest Quinnipiac poll that Trump calls fake and 538 rates as an A- pollster, Biden, Warren, Harris, Buttigieg, Bernie, and Booker all beat Trump.  Of these candidates, who would be the most formidable on the campaign trail and who among them would be the best president? Frankly, I think the most formidable campaigner would be Elizabeth Warren.  I think Trump fears her or maybe Bernie the most.  Bernie might give Trump a good go,  but a shouting match in all CAPS between the two I think would work to Trump’s advantage.  Harris should fare better than HRC in that she is more likely to stand up to Trump,  but she is not the choice of the progressive crowd who the Dems need to turn out to have a chance.  And then there is Buttigieg.  I think his greatest appeal is that he is an outsider and the polar opposite of Trump.  He’s much smarter and calmer, and more thoughtful and articulate, and more accomplished.  I think he could turn out the vote although he too may struggle with progressives and to attract blacks, women and latino voters though he should fare well with moderates, young and old.  However, Trump will pounce on Pete’s youth, the fact that he wasn’t a combat fighter and served the military “deep state” in intelligence.  He’ll try to concoct some deep conspiracy that Buttigieg is a part of.  Trump will say Mayor Pete is a CIA plant and perhaps even question his credentials and attack his status as the son of an intellectual “foreigner” who maybe didn’t “belong”, not unlike he did Obama with the racist birther nonsense that he claimed Hillary started.  Biden on the other hand is who Trump HOPES to face.  He thinks he can characterize Joe as slow and sleepy, which are not exactly the attributes of a leader.  Trump will associate Biden with Obama who he claims left the country a mess for him to clean up.  Biden could very well be put on the defensive, in the same way that HRC was put on the defensive in regard to her record as Secretary of State under President Obama.  The defensive candidate always looks weak.

So here’s how I rate the candidates in 20 categories:  just the top 3 in each category and only considering the top 5 candidates in the national polls: Biden, Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg and Harris.  Points: 3 if listed 1st, 2 if second and 1 if 3rd.

Campaigners: Warren, Buttigieg, Sanders

Policy: Warren, Biden, Buttigieg

Credentials: Biden, Warren, Harris

Star Power: Harris, Buttigieg, Warren

Personality: Warren, Harris, Biden

Communicator: Buttigieg, Biden, Warren

Fear Factor: Sanders, Warren, Harris

Women: Harris, Warren, Buttigieg

Presidential: Warren, Buttigieg, Harris

Least Baggage: Buttigieg, Harris, Sanders

Cool Factor: Buttigieg, Harris, Warren

Known Quantity: Biden, Sanders, Warren

Restore Image Abroad: Buttigieg, Harris, Biden

Climate Change: Harris, Buttigieg, Warren

Stand up to Russia: Biden, Warren, Harris

nonTwitter Dems: Biden, Buttigieg, Harris

Progressives: Sanders, Warren, Harris

Rust Belt Appeal: Buttigieg, Biden, Sanders

Big States: Biden, Harris, Buttigieg

South: Biden, Warren, Harris

And the winner is:  Warren (29), Buttigieg (28), Biden (27), Harris (25), Sanders (11)

And it’s fairly close though Sanders’ star has fallen and the novelty has worn off.  Now that he has branded himself as a Democratic socialist, which was not a particularly smart strategy, he’s toast.  I predict that O’Rourke will pick up some support from the Bernie and Biden crowd making the race even closer and paving the way for Warren to take the lead.  If her debates skills are as good as advertised, I expect her to become the frontrunner.

 

 

A Winning Ticket?

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What are Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s chances of becoming the Dem. Nominee for President in 2020? Not very good, but possible. Consider this, in the 9 states for which there are polls, he’s running 5th.  Now wait before you say that doesn’t sound right.  It is right.  Don’t forget that some of those polls are from early April.  A lot has changed since then.  In the most recent Economist/YouGov national poll as reported by Real Clear Politics  he’s in 4th. Rounding out the top five is Harris is at 9%, Buttigieg at 10%, Warren 12%, Sanders 15%, and Biden 27%.  Given that Mayor Pete is still not well-known, these numbers are pretty good for him. After the upcoming debates, I imagine there will start to be some separation between these candidates.

What’s interesting is the question of momentum.  And there are only 2 candidates who seem to have any and they are Warren and Buttigieg, both of whom have increased their standings in the national polls versus the states polls, some of which as I mentioned are from early April.  In the state polls, Mayor Pete would have received a total of 8% of all of the delegates in IA, TX, NH, CA, NC, FL, PA, SC and MA, whereas in the latest national poll, he’s at 10%.  Warren’s numbers are 10% and 12%.  By contrast, Biden and Sanders have lost momentum.  Biden’s numbers are 32% and 27% and Bernie’s 17% and 15%.  Harris’ state number is 10% and 9% in national polling.

So what accounts for this momentum?  The obvious answer is campaigning.  When people hear Mayor Pete for the first time, they are impressed.  And when they hear him again and again, they are struck by his consistency.  He is passing each test, each appearance with the highest marks.  Similarly, Warren has been impressive with her focus on her plans – she’s like that saying, “there’s an app for that” only replace app with policy – “I have a policy for that.”  Unlike Buttigieg, she has name recognition, but her name has been somewhat tarnished by the DNA debacle.  She has worked hard to earn back respect as someone who could legitimately beat Trump.  The theory of the case previously had been that Trump would never let her off the hook for claiming Native American heritage and would taunt her with chants of Pocahontas (by the way, Scott Brown was the first to do this when he rain against her for the MA Senate seat) in an attempt to throw her off her game. And she might take the bait and hit back, but that would play into Trump’s small hands.  But she is one hell of a fighter and would give Trump the fight of his life.  She could talk about his bone spur deferments, his inflated claims of wealth and success and of course hit him hard on all of his criminal behavior while in office.  She could intimidate him with the I words – Impeach and Imprison but I don’t think that is what would get her elected.  I think if she stays focused on policy details and continue to discuss them with the raw passion that Hillary failed to express, she has a good shot of taking him down.

Now imagine this:  Warren/Buttigieg.  That would be an intriguing ticket and perhaps a winner.  Time will tell.

Harriet Tubman on the 20 dollar bill

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Trump will go down in history as the worst president ever and it won’t even be close.  His presidency will also contain an asterisk because there is sufficient evidence to suggest that a foreign government meddled in the election to help him become president.  Not surprisingly, “45’s” favorite president appears to be #7, Andrew Jackson, one of the worst presidents, IMHO, in our nation’s history.  He supported the Indian Removal Act, the product of a land deal in which a minority of Cherokee ceded all tribal lands to the U.S. The deal was challenged and struck down by the Supreme Court. However, Jackson ignored the ruling (sound familiar?) and forced the “migration” of tens of thousands of Cherokee to Oklahoma. During this traumatic forced relocation march along what was known as the trail of tears, an estimated 4,000 Cherokees died.

And now Trump, in predictable fashion, is on the wrong side of history again.  During the Obama administration, Harriet Tubman was selected to replace Andrew Jackson on the 20 dollar bill by the year 2020.  It was high time for a women to represent on paper money and particularly an African-American one who was instrumental in saving the lives of hundreds of slaves through the Underground Railroad.  For most, the move to replace Jackson with Tubman on the 20 dollar bill is not in the least controversial, until Trump set in motion a plan that would delay this action until at least 2028, according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin when questioned by MA Representative Ayanna Pressley.

Today, Democratic Presidential hopeful, Mayor Pete Buttigieg was asked in an interview with Robert Costa of the Washington Post whether he thought President Trump is a racist.  Buttigieg said that Trump’s words AND his actions indicate that he is.  And this latest move, in a sign of bad faith, defending Andrew Jackson, the architect of what many consider a genocidal policy toward native Americans, over an abolitionist and national hero, who risked her own life to save many others from a life a slavery is unconscienable but not surprising. It is very much in line with his defense of preserving civil war monuments, and supporting white supremacists, and is just one more exhibit to demonstrate that Trump is hell bent on fueling culture wars and erasing Obama’s legacy, which seems to be his only governing philosophy.

Specialty Ride Sharing Idea

I’m a little old school when it comes to ride sharing.  I’d rather take public transportation when I can, or walk wherever I am, or take a taxi, or maybe a shuttle service to and from an airport.  I’ve only ever taken Uber (or was it a Lyft?) a few times with others who arranged the ride.  I do have an Uber app, but have never used it, and frankly, embarrassingly, I don’t know how.  I’m sure I could figure it out, but it’s just that the idea is still a little strange to me.  I don’t fully trust these services.  True, they are cheaper, but there have been too many terrifying incidents with rogue drivers.  And for all the honest folks trying to make a living driving their OWN cars, they aren’t compensated very well, which in part accounts for why some drivers went on strike. You might counter with the fact that there are rogue taxi drivers too, but at least, or so it seems anyway, the taxi industry is better regulated and perhaps safer, albeit more expensive than a ride sharing service and less convenient and not as accessible or available. But this post isn’t about ride sharing vs. taxi.  It’s about a novel idea I have, at least I think it is novel, but who knows, maybe someone has already thought of it and put it into practice, however unlikely.  The idea is essentially, this: speciality rides.  Now stay with me.

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Let’s say you miss that old 70’s car your parents drove, maybe it was a Chevy Chevette, remember that one? My mom owned a white four speed four door. It had a clutch so tight that I had to stand up and push it down with all my weight to shift.  And let’s say you need a ride, but you want THAT ride, a 70’s Chevette, or, I don’t know, it might be an  AMC Gremlin. There’d be an app for that and it would have car categories and you could order anything, like renting a car, only it’s a ride, but not just any kind of ride. Categories would include 70-80’s Japanese subcompacts – a Datsun B210 or Toyota Tercel.  Or you could pick British roadsters from the 70’s – a Jag, Austin Healy or an MG Midget, the car I learned to drive a stick on.  If you want to ride in style, why not a 70’s Chrysler Imperial, the one that’s as long as a boat or an 80’s Dodge Monaco.  You want a musical car, why not order up a Nissan Note or a Hyundai Sonata? Go ahead, have some fun! And here’s the twist, the driver picks you up, and YOU get to drive! It’s a brilliant idea, don’t you think?

 

Limericks for Dems

From the poetry desk of Ribbie’s weblog.

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“Elizabeth Warren”

Elizabeth Warren from OK to MASS

For some in the field she’ll be hard to surpass

She frightens Wall Street

Biggest foe they will meet

The cure for D Trump’s raving bombast.

“Kamala Harris”

Oakland to San Fran then Capitol Hill

Senator Harris is full of goodwill

For the people

Treats them as equal

Medicare for all an all but signed bill.

“Cory Booker”

The great Cory Booker of Jersey

Won’t show 45 any mercy

So when on the stump

He rails against Trump

To bring back our DEmocracy.

“Pete Buttigieg”

This is the story of a young Mayor Pete

With solid credentials to fiercely compete

At the helm of South Bend

With wisdom to lend

A practical polyglot who cannot be beat.

“Beto O’Rourke”

Guitar playing Dem from West Texas

Live Streaming Midwest for breakfast

Although he does smile

We won’t know for a while

Whether Beto’s appeal is infectious.

“Bernie Sanders”

He’s a force is the Bern from Vermont

A voice in all CAPS who can taunt

Appeals to the left

With considerable heft

Got lots of loyal Berners to flaunt.

“Amy Klobuchar”

Tough Amy K from the great state of Minn

To centrist ideas she is more than all in

A graduate of Yale

Not running FROM jail

Were she to catch fire she surely could win.

 

Hey Dems – This is how to beat Trump

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Before I dive into this topic, let me say that I’ll vote for whoever wins the Democratic primary, even the candidates I’m not too enthusiastic about including Delaney, Sanders, Gabbard, Hickenlooper, and Gillibrand. I have to say too that I am still irritated by Bernie’s behavior during the Democratic primary of 2016, and the fact that he only cooly supported HRC, and to this day wants nothing to do with her or by extension her supporters. By I’ll leave it at that for now.

If there are any lessons from the 2016 Republican primary that Trump opponents could learn, it would be that you can’t out bully Trump.  He thrives on petty fights on the low road.  He’ll give his opponent a nickname, remember “Little Marco”, “Lying Ted”, “Pocahontas”, “Low Energy Jeb”, “Crazy Bernie” and bait the candidate to go on the defensive or to strike back.  As long as the debate is about nicknames, and grade school insults, Trump wins.  The second lesson is that he lies, by the Toronto Star’s Daniel Dale’s count, 4,424 falsehoods as of February 20, 2019, nearly 6 lies per day since Trump became president. Practically everything he will say on the debate stage will be misleading, a falsehood or a flat out lie.  Given this fact, the democratic candidates need to understand that Trump supporters don’t care if he lies – truth is of no importance.  Nor do they seem to care that Trump may have committed crimes while in office, that he and his campaign may have colluded with the Russians to win the election. Many Dems and Repubs view events through a partisan polarized lens – us vs. them; good guys vs. bad guys.  What Republicans seem more interested in is fighting culture wars rooted in the fear that they may loose their guns, their cows and hamburgers, their bibles, the right to life, the right to pollute with impunity, the right to large tax breaks, the right to keep blacks, legal immigrants, and the elderly from voting, and the right to keep the country as white as possible by walling out non-white immigrants.

Now that I’ve laid this out, one word of advice to the Democrats is not to engage the extreme right wing or give any oxygen to their conspiracies. The Dems have already won the culture wars by a fairly wide margin as evidenced by the popular vote and the landslide victory in the midterms.  The Dems should focus on the issues that the majority of Americans want action on – climate change, income inequality, racial justice, immigration reform, women’s rights, LGQTB issues, judicial appointments that look like America, infrastructure, and rehabilitating the reputation of the U.S. in the eyes of our traditional allies.

Here’s a look at some of the top candidates and how they could beat Trump:

Booker v. Trump – Trump seems to think he has Booker’s number, that he can intimidate him.  It may be a New Jersey turf competition for Trump who will use his thuggish ways to smear Booker.  Like his racist attacks on Obama, Trump will attempt to diminish Booker’s accomplishments by questioning his education and credentials.  And Trump has some nerve given that he threatened lawsuits against Fordham if they released his transcripts. I think the worst thing Booker could do is go on the defensive.  He needs to challenge Trump’s abysmal record and push forward his own agenda and force Trump to debate the issues.

Harris v. Trump – Trump is going to brand Harris an extreme liberal or a socialist who was bad on criminal justice issues.  He’ll take the Democrat opposition research on her and use it to his advantage.  And don’t be surprised if he pushes out a birther issue calling into question her legitimacy because she lived in Canada and her parents were born outside the U.S. She shouldn’t spend much time on the defense.  If he questions her citizenship, she can demand his tax returns.  I think she could bring issues of race to the fore, citing Charlottesville, the lack of diversity in his cabinet and with his judicial picks.  But she should focus most on her policies and on restoring democracy.  Her message must be positive and aspirational.

Klobuchar v. Trump – Trump no doubt will pounce on Klobuchar’s temper with staff.  He’ll play the sexist card and brand her emotional and unfit for running the country.  She could challenge him on this issue citing his deplorable history with women.  Like all other candidates, though, she has to remain positive and aspirational.  She won’t get enthusiastic support from progressives, but she may pick up centrist Hillary supporters, and support from Independents and Republicans who are simply feed up with Trump.

Warren v. Trump – Warren can win, but she has to navigate the DNA fiasco carefully and not let Trump get under her skin with the Pocahontas chants.  She is a fighter, however, and she may be the only one who could take him down at his own game.  I think it would be a mistake, though, for her to fight him on the school playground. Her bigger problem may be the extremist label.  Republicans like to use the extremist label (because it has this connection to terrorism) to demonize opponents.  Rather than trying to prove that she’s not an extremist, Warren should focus on income inequality which will resonate with most Americans and a vision for a better future.

Sanders v. Trump – Trump will brand Bernie an extremist and socialist, linking his vision to failed experiments in Venezuela and Cuba.  Bernie will need to brush that aside as ridiculousness and instead focus on gaining traction in the African-American community, maintaining the 2016 enthusiasm from millennials, and winning support from HRC supporters who feel betrayed by the campaign in 2016.  For BS to win, he needs a big turnout.

All the Democratic candidates need to stay laser focused on the issues that the majority of Americans care most about – gun control, climate change, racial justice, immigration reform, infrastructure, income inequality, women’s rights, LBGQT issues, restoring U.S. democracy and U.S. standing in the world, and matters of foreign policy.  And while “Space is the Place”, Peace is the Thing. These issues are the path to victory and the best way to out Trump Trump.

 

10 Things the U.S. needs more than a Wall

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10. Investment in Infrastructure

Sorry, the wall, which is just a metaphor for Trump’s anti-immigrant, xenophobic, racist views,  does not count as infrastructure.  The country needs repairs to roads and bridges, better airports, an updated electrical grid system, new schools and medical facilities and renewed commitments to protecting national parks.

9. Investment in Science

This includes funding for quantum computing, cyber security, space exploration (because space is the place) climate change research, ultra high voltage power lines to create supergrids for clean energy transmission, and artificial intelligence.

8. Gun control

This is a no-brainer. With the vast majority of Americans in favor of expanded background checks and a ban on military assault rifles and other weaponry made for the battlefield, it is almost impossible to believe that nothing has been done.  However, with the NRA becoming less influential, and with politicians being increasingly pressured by their constituents to enact gun safety legislation, the prospects look bright.

7. Climate change action

If we don’t do something, they’ll be nothing left for our children or those who come after us.  Humans who are not yet born may need to find lodging on Mars in the years to come as our planet heats up due to our foolish insistence on burning fossil fuels, polluting the environment and putting profits over people and the planet.

6. Health care for all

That’s right and this should be a right for all, not just a benefit for the privileged. I can’t wrap my brain around why Republicans hated Obamacare but so love tax cuts for the wealthy.  It’s as if they feel that certain people don’t deserve good health care or tax breaks. The question is, what have the rich done to deserve tax relief? Where is the love? Where is the empathy for our brothers and sisters of this country and the world who are sick and suffering.

5. Immigration reform

Not a wall.  Border security, ok. Strategic fencing, fine. We do need to protect DACA recipients and provide a path to eventual citizenship for the undocumented who have been living and working in the country.  We should be a leader in solving the humanitarian crisis at the border and allow refugee and asylum seekers to make their cases freely without delay. The only caravan that is worth attention is the great jazz venue in Ft. Worth called The Caravan of Dreams. Ornette Coleman and Pat Metheny played there once together to bring in the New Year of 1986.

4. Voting rights for all citizens

This voter suppression nonsense has to stop.  Republicans have done all that they can to make it harder for Blacks and Hispanics to vote because they feel their White grip on power slipping as the demographics of the country change.  Just say NO to voter id requirements, and the closing of polling places.  Say NO to doing away with early voting. Say NO to robo calls that contain confusing and false information about elections. And say NO to voter roll purging, another dirty trick that Florida Governor Scott used to play.

3. Renewed commitment to human rights

No more palling around with dictators – Trump, as much as he would like, hasn’t even been accepted into the Dictator club – he’s a bad dictator, a bad President and a terrible businessman.  How he got elected to the presidency is beyond me.  Perhaps he had some help – actually, he did, that fact is not even in dispute.  But did he know – did he or his campaign collude? We shall soon see.

2. Democracy Restoration

The Trump Presidency has done a number on U.S. Democracy and it will take some time to recover from all the damage Trump has delivered.  But with Dems taking over the House and with the ongoing investigation getting ever so closer to the Trump orbit, the systems of checks and balances will begin to restore health to our weakened Democracy.  He’ll have to account for his actions and those of his cabinet.  And once the Mueller probe is over, Trump can’t have the report buried.  This report could lead to impeachment, removal or Trump stepping down.  Trump will go down in history as one of the worst things that ever happened to the U.S., and he will be remembered as THE worst U.S. president of all time.  This will be his legacy – his big “win.”

1.  End to the Shutdown NOW

Let’s make no mistake.  This is a Trump Shutdown, not a Nancy Pelosi or a Chuck Schumer Shutdown. It is not a strike either as Trump suggested.  He said he would be proud to shut the government down and that he would own it.

There are bills passed by the House waiting for the Senate to take action that would end the Shutdown. Once passed, all Trump would need to do is sign one.  Then he could try to negotiate for the border security he claims the U.S. needs.  There is no need for him to declare a national emergency, for there is no emergency at the border – a humanitarian crisis, yes, but not an emergency to justify a wall. His claims have not been supported with facts that point to any kind of security crisis that even comes close to the crisis that our lax gun control laws pose.  In the last 72 hours, 80 people in the U.S. have died from gun violence – with no incidents at the border. The Wall is a metaphor for racism and a failed presidency – in the words of Nancy Pelosi, it’s “an immorality.”

NO WALL.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finger Lakes in the Winter

 

 

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Why would anyone go to lake country in the winter?  What could one do on a freezing cold lake in the dead of winter in Central New York? Not much, not even ice fishing and ice skating because the 11 finger lakes that dot the landscape between Buffalo and Syracuse generally do not freeze in winter. Waterskiing would be challenging in the cold although with the right wet suit, I imagine it’s possible, though silly to ponder. And yet people tour these lakes in the winter nonetheless for one thing and one thing only, WINE.  With some 130 wineries mainly around 4 lakes: Keuka, Seneca, Cayuga and Canandaigua, the Finger Lakes are the 3rd largest wine producing area in the country.  Known for grapes that grow well in cool climates, the Finger Lakes region generates some of the best Rieslings wines in the world and increasingly some of the better examples of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Franc found anywhere.

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On a recent visit to the Finger Lakes, my wife and I sampled and bought wines from 8 wineries on Seneca and Cayuga Lakes.  2016 and 2017 vintages are outstanding, particularly the Rieslings and Cabernet Francs which we purchased in abundance, but of course, before you buy, sample, because not all are the same, and there is a wild variability in the Cabernet Francs and other reds from vineyard to vineyard in my experience.  The same can be said for the Rieslings, but to tell the truth, almost all of the dry Rieslings I sampled, I liked, so fresh and balanced, a little zesty acidic zing with just a hint of sugar and a clean mineral finish; a few really stood out – Wagner, Lamoreaux Landing, and Boundary Breaks come to mind.  I don’t care much for the sweeter Rieslings but if you do, there are many to be had.  Some odd Whites that we sampled and snatched up are worth mentioning and they include Wagner’s Fathom 107, a blend of Riesling and Gewürztraminer and Fulkerson’s Matinee made from the hybrid Himrod grape. The Red standouts that I sampled came from Sheldrake Point on Cayuga Lake for Cabernet Franc, Glenora for an unoaked Cabernet Franc, Wagner for its Meritage, Merlot and Pinot Noir Reserve, and Heart and Hands also on Cayuga Lake for its Pinot Noir.

Winter is a great time to visit the magical Finger Lakes.  The tasting lines at the wineries are short, and the views around the lakes are breathtaking with very little traffic to contend with. It feels like the lakes and the vineyards are there just for me, and me only.

Cheers!

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