Posted by: coastcontact | February 21, 2018

Revered Reverend Billy Graham

Billy Graham, revered by the evangelicals and Christian conservatives, has died at 99.

He was the most dominant American pastor of the second half of the 20th century and lifted evangelism into the religious mainstream. He also was more than an anti-Semite. He appeared to despise those of us who are not Protestant and follow his beliefs.

Reported in Wikipedia: Graham was a registered member of the Democratic Party. In 1960 he was opposed to the candidacy of John F. Kennedy because as a Catholic he was bound to follow the Pope. Graham worked “behind the scenes” to encourage influential Protestant ministers to speak out against him.

Reported in Wikipedia: Graham held anti-gay views. He believed that AIDS was a “judgement from God” and he was opposed to same-sex marriage.

In a conversation with President Nixon, the evangelist complained about what he saw as Jewish domination of the news media. The conversation was among 500 hours of Nixon tapes released last week by the National Archives. Most were recorded from January to June 1972.

The networks will all broadcast the Billy Graham funeral. I will be reading or watching Vertigo starring staring James Stewart.

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Posted by: coastcontact | February 20, 2018

This is Code Red!

When I post an opinion to this blog it receives modest response of usually 30 to 40 views.  My recent post on gun violence was viewed over 70 times on the first day it appeared.  New York Times’ Thomas Friedman most recent post has had 2,700 comments so far.  Now that the column received attention from CNN that number will probably explode to a really phenomenal number.  Here is the Friedman column.

Whatever Trump Is Hiding Is Hurting All of Us Now

Thomas L. Friedman FEB. 18, 2018

 

Our democracy is in serious danger.

President Trump is either totally compromised by the Russians or is a towering fool, or both, but either way he has shown himself unwilling or unable to defend America against a Russian campaign to divide and undermine our democracy.

That is, either Trump’s real estate empire has taken large amounts of money from shady oligarchs linked to the Kremlin — so much that they literally own him; or rumors are true that he engaged in sexual misbehavior while he was in Moscow running the Miss Universe contest, which Russian intelligence has on tape and he doesn’t want released; or Trump actually believes Russian President Vladimir Putin when he says he is innocent of intervening in our elections — over the explicit findings of Trump’s own C.I.A., N.S.A. and F.B.I. chiefs.

In sum, Trump is either hiding something so threatening to himself, or he’s criminally incompetent to be commander in chief. It is impossible yet to say which explanation for his behavior is true, but it seems highly likely that one of these scenarios explains Trump’s refusal to respond to Russia’s direct attack on our system — a quiescence that is simply unprecedented for any U.S. president in history. Russia is not our friend. It has acted in a hostile manner. And Trump keeps ignoring it all.

Up to now, Trump has been flouting the norms of the presidency. Now Trump’s behavior amounts to a refusal to carry out his oath of office — to protect and defend the Constitution. Here’s an imperfect but close analogy: It’s as if George W. Bush had said after 9/11: “No big deal. I am going golfing over the weekend in Florida and blogging about how it’s all the Democrats’ fault — no need to hold a National Security Council meeting.”

At a time when the special prosecutor Robert Mueller — leveraging several years of intelligence gathering by the F.B.I., C.I.A. and N.S.A. — has brought indictments against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups — all linked in some way to the Kremlin — for interfering with the 2016 U.S. elections, America needs a president who will lead our nation’s defense against this attack on the integrity of our electoral democracy.

What would that look like? He would educate the public on the scale of the problem; he would bring together all the stakeholders — state and local election authorities, the federal government, both parties and all the owners of social networks that the Russians used to carry out their interference — to mount an effective defense; and he would bring together our intelligence and military experts to mount an effective offense against Putin — the best defense of all.

What we have instead is a president vulgarly tweeting that the Russians are “laughing their asses off in Moscow” for how we’ve been investigating their interventions — and exploiting the terrible school shooting in Florida — and the failure of the F.B.I. to properly forward to its Miami field office a tip on the killer — to throw the entire F.B.I. under the bus and create a new excuse to shut down the Mueller investigation.

Think for a moment how demented was Trump’s Saturday night tweet: “Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign — there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”

To the contrary. Our F.B.I., C.I.A. and N.S.A., working with the special counsel, have done us amazingly proud. They’ve uncovered a Russian program to divide Americans and tilt our last election toward Trump — i.e., to undermine the very core of our democracy — and Trump is telling them to get back to important things like tracking would-be school shooters. Yes, the F.B.I. made a mistake in Florida. But it acted heroically on Russia. What is more basic than protecting American democracy?

It is so obvious what Trump is up to: Again, he is either a total sucker for Putin or, more likely, he is hiding something that he knows the Russians have on him, and he knows that the longer Mueller’s investigation goes on, the more likely he will be to find and expose it.

Donald, if you are so innocent, why do you go to such extraordinary lengths to try to shut Mueller down? And if you are really the president — not still head of the Trump Organization, who moonlights as president, which is how you so often behave — why don’t you actually lead — lead not only a proper cyber defense of our elections, but also an offense against Putin.

Putin used cyberwarfare to poison American politics, to spread fake news, to help elect a chaos candidate, all in order to weaken our democracy. We should be using our cyber-capabilities to spread the truth about Putin — just how much money he has stolen, just how many lies he has spread, just how many rivals he has jailed or made disappear — all to weaken his autocracy. That is what a real president would be doing right now.

My guess is what Trump is hiding has to do with money. It’s something about his financial ties to business elites tied to the Kremlin. They may own a big stake in him. Who can forget that quote from his son Donald Trump Jr. from back in 2008: “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross section of a lot of our assets.” They may own our president.

But whatever it is, Trump is either trying so hard to hide it or is so naïve about Russia that he is ready to not only resist mounting a proper defense of our democracy, he’s actually ready to undermine some of our most important institutions, the F.B.I. and Justice Department, to keep his compromised status hidden.

That must not be tolerated. This is code red. The biggest threat to the integrity of our democracy today is in the Oval Office.

 

Posted by: coastcontact | February 14, 2018

America Loves Guns

It’s our second amendment right!

So the governor of Florida orders flags at half-staff and calls the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School “pure evil.” Soon there will be vigils and everyone will say it was a tragedy.  But congress will sit on its hands and AR15 rifle and similar weapons will still be the killer’s choice for the next mass shooting.

It all about America’s love of guns.

The AR15 was used at the high school in in Broward County, Florida. The AR15 was used to commit the carnage in Las Vegas, Nevada. The AR15 style Bushmaster XM15-E2S semi-automatic was used at Sandy Hook.

Americans love guns so much that they are prepared to see their loved ones die.  Until that view changes there will be no end to the carnage.

Posted by: coastcontact | February 13, 2018

Sports Illustrated Cover Model for 2018

The 24-year-old model from Compton, California, received the surprise of a lifetime when SI Swim legend Tyra Banks greeted her at the Sports Illustrated office with her 2018 cover. Danielle Herrington traveled to the Bahamas for her shoot and poses in a hot pink Ola Vida string bikini on the cover.

Posted by: coastcontact | February 12, 2018

Dismantling the U.S. Federal Government

There is no doubt that there is a very large federal bureaucracy. It probably needs some reorganizing and some parts should probably be ended.  However, Donald Trump appears to be on a path of near total destruction.

It has been reported that he also wants to curtail many of the government programs from health care to the National Endowment for the Arts.  NPR and PBS are also in his cross hairs.

Trump’s cabinet is studded with people who also fought to undermine the missions of the agencies they now lead.  EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt built his political career suing the agency.  Education Secretary Betsy DeVoss has called public education a “dead end.”  Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing, has no problem with proposals to slash housing.   Rex Tillerson is in the process of laying off hundreds of people in the State Department. Trump has appointed lower level department heads who have fought many departments in the past. These department heads and leaders have dreamed of ending the very departments they are now leading.

  • David Bernhardt, Deputy Interior Secretary. Former lawyer representing Statoil
  • Erik Baptist, Senior Deputy General Counsel at the EPA. Former lobbyist for Energy API
  • Susan Bodine, Head of Enforcement for the EPA. Former lobbyist for American Forest & Paper Products
  • Nancy Beck, Deputy Assistant for the EPA’s chemical safety Office. Formerly employed by American Chemistry Council
  • David Zatezalo, Head of the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Former lobbyist for Rhino Mining a coal mining company
  • Joseph Otting, Head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Former CEO of OneWest Bank

Whose interests do you suppose they will be thinking about when they perform their jobs?

Posted by: coastcontact | February 6, 2018

Fear of Deportation from the United States

Fear of deportation is a real fear that most Americans will never know.

President Obama’s DACA program was a well-meaning effort to protect those people brought into the United States illegally. However Obama did not understand the illegal immigrant’s fear of being arrested and being deported.  That fear is most likely prompted by the illegal parents of those children.

When the program was first announced I immediately identified the potential consequence of announcing to the government your name and address.  What if the program was ended? I asked.  Wouldn’t ICE know exactly where to look for all those children and their families.  That same quandary exists in states that have granted driver’s licenses to illegal aliens.  Their addresses are now public record.  ICE now can obtain those addresses and deport those people.

So when Trump’s Chief of Staff, John Kelly, suggest many DACA eligible people were ‘too afraid’ or ‘too lazy,’ he is half correct.  They were ‘too afraid.’  We can see why those concerns are well founded as more illegal aliens, or those suspected of being here illegally, are being arrested.

By the way my family moved legally to the United States when I was six months old.  I would not have divulged my name and address to any government office and I would not have applied for a driver’s license if I was an illegal alien.  It would be out of fear!

When I renew my passport I have to surrender my citizenship document.  After reviewing it they return it along with my new passport.  I am always concerned that some bureaucrat will not return that citizenship document.

My sympathies are with the people brought here as children.

Posted by: coastcontact | February 2, 2018

Unintended Consequences

The lower income tax rates passed into law this past December seemed like a wonderful idea.  Who can object to bonuses and higher take home pay?

The U.S. stock market indexes fell sharply today (Friday, February 2, 2018) as investors digested a stronger-than-expected jobs report that stoked inflation fears.  “The details of this jobs report, especially the numbers behind the wage growth suggest that companies are competing for workers and the shortage of skilled workers is pushing up wages. The trend in inflation is ticking higher and the big question is whether the incoming Fed, which is more hawkish, will allow the economy run hotter in the short term or tighten aggressively,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist, at Prudential Financial.

 

Investopedia: A government or economy often defines full employment as any rate of unemployment below a defined number. If, for example, a country sets full employment at a 5% unemployment rate, any level of unemployment below 5% is considered acceptable. Full employment, once attained, often results in an inflationary period. The inflation is a result of workers having more disposable income, which would drive prices upward.

 

The short term benefit of lower income tax rates are obvious.  It results in a bigger paycheck for almost all workers.  However, with America’s unemployment rate at 4.1% for the past four months and below 5% since November 2016 the shortage of workers along with lower corporate taxes could easily result in a horrible surge in inflation.

Many of us saw the consequences of high inflation.  In 1974 and again 1979 to 1981 we experienced inflation as high as 14.7% in a single month.  We spent using a credit card knowing that the repayment would be in cheap dollars.  Buying a home meant paying an inflated interest rate on the mortgage.  We refinanced when the rate fell.

 I have read nothing about economist’s concerns of higher inflation.  The Federal Reserve Board did not raise rates at last Wednesday’s meeting. They left its benchmark interest rate unchanged in a range of 1.25 percent to 1.5 percent, a relatively low level that the Fed said would help support continued job growth and stronger inflation.

 

Wow! Is the Fed correct or are stock market investors correct?  When you are working you can demand a pay raise to compensate for inflation but if you are retired inflation can destroy your retirement plans.  Roaring inflation will also destroy the party in power in Washington.

Posted by: coastcontact | January 30, 2018

Self Aggrandizement

The first 20 minutes of Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech was all about telling us what a great job he has done.

Happily Trump did not digress from his planned speech.

It is not difficult to find words that describe Donald Trump.  He is the super promoter of himself.  He is the P.T. Barnum of the early 21st century who emphasized with extreme exaggeration his place in American history. Braggadocio, glorification, and boasting are the words that best describe his State of the Union speech.  He clearly reveled in the attention and honor he received both entering and leaving Capitol Hill.  He was in his glory with every moment of applause during his speech.

If you heard his speech or read the transcript you know that other than calling on the Congress to produce “a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment” and an “administrative fix for high drug prices” there were no other plans proposed.

This speech will go down in history as a boring and an utterly uninspiring waste of time.

Posted by: coastcontact | January 25, 2018

Pinnacles National Park

Volcanic slopes in Pinnacles National Park, California

Pinnacles was established as a national park in 2013. That makes it a relatively new national park in the United States, but its namesake features—these rock spires—were millions of years in the making. Roughly 23 million years ago, volcanos erupted to form a 30-mile-wide volcanic field, which was then split in two by a shift in the San Andreas fault. The western side of the field gradually moved nearly 200 miles north, all the while being eroded by water, ice, and wind.

The rock that’s left behind after this erosion is now shaped into these pinnacles. The towering spires attract rock climbers, to be sure, but they also provide homes for many species of animals, including the California condor. In fact, this is just one of four places where captive-bred condors are released into the wild.

Posted by: coastcontact | January 23, 2018

Minnie Mouse Gains More Fame

It’s been a long time coming.  At long last Minnie Mouse, the loved Disney cartoon character, received well deserved recognition for her role with Mickey Mouse.  She now has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  Mickey was the first cartoon character to get a star in 1978, when he was 50.

Minnie Mouse, accompanied by Mickey Mouse and Katy Perrry, gets a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Monday, Jan. 22, 2018

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