Fantasy Headlines in 2018 (or are they?)

The following are fantasy predictions of headlines based on opinions formulated over the last few years and months from actual news stories. Will some of them come true? Who knows, but I tried to come up with a plausible forecast, recognizing I took many liberties to tell a story.

Rex Tilllerson tenders his resignation; Trump names CIA Director Mike Pompeo new State head

Damaging videotapes from “The Apprentice” are released – Blacks, Jews outraged as Trump denies authenticity, threatens lawsuit of producer

Congress, Governors condemn Trump’s racist language in Apprentice tapes

More women come forward to accuse President of sexual assault after release of tapes; Trump says all are lying

Several female GOP Senators and Congress members add their voice asking for an ethics investigation of the President

Trump attacks Collins, Murkowski, Ernst for daring to condemn him

McCain, Corker, Flake and Graham call for  ethics investigation joining growing a number of female legislators

Huckabee-Sanders tenders resignation after being unable to defend President – Sources say she was fired

Congress yields to pressure for ethics investigation of the President. President, Bannon threaten all involved

Mueller indicts Jared Kushner on collusion with Russian agents and not reporting all financial dealings with foreign interests

Trump asks Sessions to have Mueller fired, Rosenstein and Sessions refuse to do so

Trump fires Sessions, appoints Chris Christie

Christie fires Rosenstein, Senate leadership assumes Mueller investigation

Mueller indicts Trump, Jr. for lying to the FBI, Senior says he is not involved throwing son under the bus

Trump tweets reveal a totally unhinged President causing alarm to supporters

Trump’s approval rating falls beneath 30% as base shows concern and support wanes

Senate leadership pushes Trump to consider resigning – he refuses calling them cowards

Trump is indicted for obstruction of justice and collusion with Russians

Congress begins the impeachment process, Ryan and McConnell again encourage Trump’s resignation

Putin turns on Trump saying he should consider resigning

Kelly, McMaster and Mattis threaten resignation en masse unless Trump resigns

Ivanna begs father to resign to save himself, brother and husband, Trump refuses

Donald J. Trump resigns as 45th President, Pence to be sworn in

Trump base cries foul, violent protests break out. Bannon, Hannity rage

Pence names Senator Joni Ernst as Vice President in surprise move

Plea deal is revealed. Trump, Kushner, Trump, Jr. won’t face trial if Trump resigned

Pence, McConnell and Ryan ask for calm as global leaders look forward to working with Pence

Vindictive Trump appears on Hannity accusing everyone of a witch hunt and unfair treatment

Mueller arrests Trump for violating plea deal after Hannity appearance

Recalcitrant Trump is released, goes into seclusion

Democrats retake majority in House. GOP keep slim majority lead in Senate.

 

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Wednesday Wanderings

One of my favorite hiking shirts draws comments given the slogan on the back – “all who wander are not lost.” In search for the right alliterative match to a Wednesday review of various and sundry topics, allow me to walk out “wanderings.” So, lace up your hiking boots and lets wander a bit.

Decency Won: The Senate vote in Alabama had a pleasant surprise with Doug Jones defeating Roy Moore in a close race. I applaud the citizens of Alabama for doing the right thing. Retiring Republican Senator Jeff Flake said, “Decency won.” This says it all. For those Moore proponents who say Moore is a fine man, that may be the case, but the three words that come to my mind are “bigotry, unlawfulness, pedophilia.” The middle word is overlooked as the former Judge was fired twice for disobeying the law. We all must obey the laws whether or not we agree with them, but especially our judges and senators. Jones is a good man and public servant.

Emmanuel Macron assumes a Climate Leadership role: A continuing frustration is the ceding by the US President of our leadership role in the world. Pulling out of the Paris Climate Change Accord is a key example of this, as the US President is too beholden to fossil fuel interests and money. French President Emmanuel Macron hosted a meeting this week where foreign leaders discussed dealing with climate change and a noticeable absence was Donald Trump, who was not invited. The US had people there, but not in a capacity of the federal government. The US is no longer at the adult table. Macron has followed through on inviting renowned scientists to conduct research in France and, out of eighteen grant recipients, 13 of them came from the US. Fortunately, good things are happening even in the US, but it would be nice if the federal government aided and abetted this important cause and did not throw up road blocks.

Nevada legislature reverses utility anti-neutral pricing on solar energy: In a huge change, the Nevada governor signed earlier this year a bipartisan law to overturn a highly contentious and job-impacting utility decision to pay solar energy homeowners less than they charge back for electricity. In short, when the sun shines more power is produced than needed and is sold to the utility. When the homeowner needs more electricity they buy it back from the utility who had been charging a higher rate after their decision. This cost jobs and new development and it did not take the legislature long to realize the sun shines a lot in Nevada and this is where the cheaper and cleaner energy future resides. So, they passed a law to get back to neutral pricing or close thereto, giving the utility a minor transaction fee. Now, the solar energy boon which stalled as a result of the utility action, has taken off again.

Joe Biden is a class act: Former Vice President Joe Biden is making the talk show circuit to discuss his new book about his relationship with his son Beau who died of brain cancer. When he stopped by “The View,” during the discussion Meghan McCain, daughter of Senator John McCain, broke down as she describe her father having the same cancer as Beau. Biden switched chairs with one of the co-hosts and comforted her and spoke to her and the audience. He said many encouraging words to give her hope and strength, but added her father was his best friend. If he ever needed him, John McCain would be there for him. His son Beau idolized McCain and spoke of his courage. Biden said John and him were brothers of a different father. They would argue over things, but deeply respect each other.

Thanks for wandering about with me. Please feel free to offer some of your reactions and wanderings.

How could you let that happen?

I have written before how legislators can play a heavy hand in creating the circumstances for something to happen, then when something bad does happen, say “How could you let that happen?” An example I have used a few times is when funding is cut and social workers are asked to take on 160 clients when the most effective client to social worker is rate is more like 16 to 1. You do not need to be good in math to recognize that is ten times the number of clients each should have.

So, when something bad happens to a family or person being served out of the 160, the legislators will claim “how could you let that happen?” This frustrates me as I see first hand the hard job social workers have and how many qualified ones are quite excellent at what they do. They are counselors, mentors, nudges, shoulders to cry on and providers of some tough love when needed. Yet, the countless times they do their job does not make the news. Only when they don’t makes the news.

In North Carolina, this story is highlighted once again when short-staffed prison guards are put in harm’s way. This apparently is not unique to NC, as I see bill boards advertising the need for prison guards in other states. Earlier this year, a female prison guard in a male prison was beaten to death by a prisoner. She was overseeing about forty prisoners in an onsite work program. She had been fearful for her safety given this oversight long before she was killed.

The NC General Assembly who cut funding on staff and salaries set up the circumstances for this to happen. And, yet last week, the two chamber leaders politicized the issue and laid blame on the new governor for not doing enough. Per The Charlotte Observer today, the editors said this is a new level of chutzpah. They likened it to a child killing his parents then asking for leniency since he was an orphan. It is some chutzpah to cut funding and ask “how could you let this happen?”

This is not the first time nor will it be the last. But, I do not care what political party you are, we cannot tolerate and condone these kinds of statements and behavior. Do not take your sand toys home, then claim other kids do not want to play with you. That is a child’s story not a so called leader’s. The fact the US President does it is no excuse.

Side of the Angels – Richard Shelby

I am not a huge fan of many of the positions of Republican Senator Richard Shelby, the senior Senator from Alabama. He tends to unyieldingly favor the banking industry at the expense of better regulations, for example.

Yet, I must give him a huge shout out for his political courage yesterday. He went on a televised political talk show to state his opposition to Senate candidate Roy Moore in his home state. He noted that he will not be voting for Moore saying the Republican Party can do better than this and he feels there must be a fire under so much smoke of sexual assault and harassment of teen girls. He will be writing in the name of another candidate.

I sent him note complimenting his courage as he will likely be unmercifully demeaned by the President, Steve Bannon and other Republicans. I mentioned the President has no currency on this issue. I told him he is on the “side of the Angels” on this and should be commended.

If Moore wins, there are four big losers. Our country loses as we seat a Senator who was banned from a mall for his trolling of young girls. Doubting Alabama voters should ask themselves why that happened? The state of Alabama loses as this is the third recent episode of sexual impropriety or corruption in elected officials, the latest being the previous Governor who had to resign.

The other two losers must be noted. Common decency loses. Our leaders need to be the best of us, not the worst of us. The office is more important than the incumbent, so when it is defamed, the incumbent needs to resign.

The final loser would be the Republican Party. With an incumbent President who has admitted to and boasted of sexual assault that he has been accused of and Moore, this makes the party look extremely poor. The image will echo for some time and should.

So, kudos to Senator Shelby. You are trying to serve your constituents and your oath.

Wednesday wonderings

Happy Hump Day to all! Please permit me some alliterative license to wonder this Wednesday about a few events in the US and around the world.

I wonder what folks in Russia are thinking when their leader sanctions state sponsored cheating to win the medal count in the Olympics? To be kicked out of the Olympics was a surprise, but necessary result.

I wonder what folks in America, who do not believe the Russians influenced and are still influencing our elections and civil discourse, think after seeing the Russians banned from the Olympics. Let me say it plainly, if Putin is willing to cheat over Olympic competition, don’t you think he would cheat in influencing elections that would be in his favor in other countries?

I wonder what Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa was thinking when he was quoted in the Des Moines Register to support the Tax Bill favoring wealthy Americans, “I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing. As opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.” This quote is highly offensive and betrays a line of thinking that is too often felt by those who “have.” No, Mr. Grassley, most Americans are living paycheck to paycheck to buy groceries, medicines, day care services and to pay rent (or mortgages),utilities and bills. I called his office to share my concern over the Tax Bill and to register that this quote is in extremely poor form.

I wonder what the US President is attempting to accomplish with citing Jerusalem as the capitol city in Israel? This move is being condemned by almost every nation as unnecessary and inflammatory. Is it to appease an evangelical base in the US or is it part of some master peace plan? If the latter, many experts I have listened to note that this will likely derail any peace process. Even the ones who have not been totally against it, say if it is to be helpful, then there are very subtle and delicate words that must be used. I am not confident that this President is up to that task, as it is not in his nature. Even beyond his prepared words he will use today, he has shown a bent to unwind progress with his inability to leave it alone.

I wonder why some people are having a hard time believing that Senate candidate Roy Moore sexual assaulted and harassed teen girls. It was not a secret that the man trolled malls looking for pretty teens to exploit. And, he cannot defend himself as his words get in the way. Mr. Moore, did you know these girls or not? When you have trouble answering the question, it means two things to me. Either you are lying or there are so many you cannot possibly remember them. One thing is for certain, they remember you.

I wonder why GOP Congressional leadership are using robocalls and commercials to sell me on their Tax Bills. Only 29% of Americans support the bills and 64% of Americans think the bills favor the wealthy. As a I said in emails, voicemails and conversations with staff of these politicians, we cannot increase the debt as these tax bills do (and should be reducing it) and please do not tell me how much they favor the middle class, when it is obvious who greatly benefits from them. Our friend Gronda refers to them as the “Donor Relief Fund.” Please let them know of your concerns.

I wonder.

 

Three More Renewable Energy Tidbits

In an effort to highlight continuing good news on the renewable energy front, here are three new stories. First, Google has now invested more than twice the nearest company or organization in renewable energy. Google can claim that they generate enough power through renewable energy to cover 100% of their global electricity needs in data centers and offices. Amazon does a lot as well, but they are in a distant second.

Second, Elon Musk’s Tesla Company is primarily a battery company parading as an electric car company. Last week, forty days ahead of schedule, Tesla switched on a 100 MW lithium ion superbattery storage facility in Southern Australia, which will help power 30,000 homes through renewable wind energy provided by French company Neoen. Musk said in the spring if they could not deliver on the promise in 100 days, the batteries and installation would be free.

Third, last week in Miami, the second annual conference on Companies vs. Climate Change was held. Companies like Ford, GM, Walmart, and Mars, e.g. were in attendance. While all regret the President announcing the US pull out of the Paris Climate Change Accord, they are not letting that stop their movement down the path of battling climate change.

It would be nice if the President supported global efforts, but he cannot stop the significant progress that is occurring. And, as one climate scientist has said, Trump did everyone a favor by the announced withdrawal, as it has heightened the urgency and brought even more attention to the problem.

Let’s keep up the momentum.

Congress – Please listen to the nonpartisan economic groups

Early this morning the Senate passed their Tax Bill, complete with hand written amendments and no public hearings. Senator McConnell declared it a victory for the American people. But, which people? From my reading the people doing a touchdown dance already have an awful lot of money. 52% of Americans disapprove of this bill, but only the opinion of the privileged few matters.

On NPR yesterday, I heard Congressman Kevin Brady, the Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, smugly say we do not believe the projections of Congress nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation who measured the Senate bill as increasing the debt by $1 trillion and saying this bill is not as kind as portrayed to people in poverty and middle class. But, Congressman, why do the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Fix the Debt and The Concord Coalition say pretty much the same thing?

Without public hearings, Republicans did not take the time to know this. What should be surprising is the two Senators from Kansas voted for this bill after a similar state bill had to be unwound last year after it decimated Kansas’ economy and budget.

Outside of Senator Corker, my former party seems to have forgotten what fiscal stewardship means. We are projected to have a debt of $31.5 trillion in 2027. I want to hear what Congress plans to do about that.

As a former Republican, this continues to support why I left the party. Passing a bill to get a win is no way to pass good legislation.

Please feel free to use a variation of this to let your Senators and Congressperson know of your concern. I added that they call me with a response to my concern and not send me a form letter.