Posted by: coastcontact | March 28, 2017

Remember Slow Food?

Someone asked the other day, ‘What was your favorite fast food when you were growing up?’
‘We didn’t have fast food when I was growing up,’

I informed him.

‘All the food was slow.’

‘C’mon, seriously. Where did you eat?’

“It was a place called ‘at
Home,” I explained. !

‘Mom cooked every day and when Dad got home from work, we sat down together at the dining room table, and if I didn’t like what she put on my plate I was allowed to sit there until I did like it.’

By this time, the kid was laughing so hard I was afraid he was going to suffer serious internal damage, so I didn’t tell him the part about how I had to have permission to leave the table.

But here are some other things I would have told him about my childhood if I figured his system could have handled it :

Some parents NEVER owned their own house, never wore Levi’s, never set foot on a golf course, never traveled out of the country or had a credit card.

In their later years they had something called a revolving charge card. The card was good only at Sears Roebuck. Or maybe it was Sears & Roebuck.
Either way, there is no Roebuck anymore. Maybe he died.

My parents never drove me to soccer practice. This was mostly because we never had heard of soccer.

I had a bicycle that weighed probably 50 pounds, and only had one speed, (slow)
We didn’t have a television in our house until I was 11.

It was, of course, black and white, and the station went off the air at midnight, after playing the national anthem and a poem about God; it came back on the air at about 6 a.m. And there was usually a locally produced news and farm show on, featuring local people.

I was 19 before I tasted my first pizza, it was called ‘pizza pie.’ When I bit into it, I burned the roof of my mouth and the cheese slid off, swung down, plastered itself against my chin and burned that, too. It’s still the best pizza I ever had.

I never had a telephone in my room. The only phone in the house was in the living room and it was on a party line. Before you could dial, you had to listen and make sure some people you didn’t know weren’t already using the line.

Pizzas were not delivered to our home. But milk was.

All newspapers were delivered by boys and all boys delivered newspapers–my brother delivered a newspaper, six days a week. It cost 7 cents a paper, of which he got to keep 2 cents. He had to get up at 6 AM every morning.

On Saturday, he had to collect the 42 cents from his customers. His favorite customers were the ones who gave him 50 cents and told him to keep the change. His least favorite customers were the ones who seemed to never be home on collection day.

Movie stars kissed with their mouths shut. At least, they did in the movies. There were no movie ratings because all movies were responsibly produced for everyone to enjoy viewing, without profanity or violence or most anything offensive.

If you grew up in a generation before there was fast food, you may want to share some of these memories with your children or grandchildren

Just don’t blame me if they bust a gut laughing.

Growing up isn’t what it used to be, is it?

Posted by: coastcontact | March 26, 2017

Donnie in the Room

This entertaining piece from The Weekly Sift.  You will laugh. Read it to the end!

(with apologies to Ernest Lawrence Thayer)

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for Republicans that day.
They’d promised for six years that they’d repeal the ACA.
But when the caucus gathered, and they looked from man to man
They knew that not a one of them had ever had a plan.

“I’d counted on a veto,” said a rep from Tennessee.
“The blame Obama always took would fall on Hillary.
Then Pennsylvania went for Trump, and Michigan the same.
And now we run the government, we can’t just play a game.”

A colleague from Wyoming was equally concerned.
Shaking his head sadly, he stated what he’d learned.
“My hopes from the beginning always had one little flaw.
I’d pictured making speeches, never thought I’d write a law.”

Neither had the others, though they often said they would.
They knew what programs shouldn’t do, but not the things they should.

Then said a man from Texas, “We’ll never have success.
We got so used to saying No, we’ll never get to Yes.”

“I know,” said Ryan hopefully, “that’s sometimes how it feels.
But Donnie wrote the book about the art of making deals.
I know agreement’s hard to find, and deadlines closely loom.
But we can still succeed if we get Donnie in the room.”

Oh Donnie! Clever Donnie! How everyone agreed.
The plan that he campaigned on was just the one they’d need.
It ended it all the mandates! It set the markets free!
And still it covered everyone, from sea to shining sea!

“It offers better treatment,” noted one committee chair.
“And cheaper,” said another, “I know cause I was there.
You should have heard the cheering. I thought the roof would fall.
And Mexico will pay for it! No, wait, that was the wall.”

But just how would he do it? That wasn’t in their notes.
It wasn’t in the speeches that he made while seeking votes.
It wasn’t on his website, and they recognized with gloom.
They’d never reproduce it without Donnie in the room.

So Ryan checked the White House, but Donnie was away.
He wasn’t in Trump Tower, and he hadn’t been all day.
Ivanka took his message, “Call me when you can.
We can’t repeal ObamaCare without your TrumpCare plan.”

When the President returned his call, he sounded tired and mean,
As he contemplated bogey from the bunker on fifteen.
“Write whatever bill you want. I really couldn’t tell.
Content doesn’t matter, Paul. It’s all in how you sell.”

“But what about the plan you had, the one in the campaign?”
“I only planned to have a plan, that’s no cause to complain.
Grasp this opportunity, and you’ll know what to do.
I sold all the voters, now you get to come through!”

So Ryan then picked up his pen, and wrote a plan so good
It didn’t do a single thing that Donnie said it would.
And as the caucus read it, they all wanted to vote No,
Both from the left, and from the right, and from the CBO.

The Speaker counted noses, and he always came up short.
And for the ones who criticized, he had no good retort.
But Ryan still was smiling as he sorted hateful mail.
For Donnie, clever Donnie, would soon complete the sale.

Trump was back in Washington with all his awesome charm.
He flattered and he compromised and twisted by the arm.
“Those whip counts are fake news,” he said, “we’ve got the votes and more.
Everyone will back me when we take it to the floor.”

Oh, somewhere in a favored land, the people get their way,
And illness leads to treatment, even if you cannot pay.
And somewhere leaders pass the law that makes their promise real.

But there’s mourning in the caucus, Donnie could not close the deal.

   The failure of Trumpcare was good news for some.  Doctors didn’t like it.  Nurses didn’t like it.  The AARP was one of the biggest critics.

If nothing else Mr. Trump has learned that being president of the United States is nothing like owning your own company.  You cannot make demands of the people and expect they will follow your orders merely because you are president.  As the owner of your own company you can give directions to your employees and know they will be carried out.

So promising to repeal and replace Obamacare was a winning promise on the campaign trail.  As president Trump has learned that making promises is easy but fulfilling them takes another set of capabilities.  Donald Trump has not yet learned that he is confronted with a set of circumstances that are entirely different than those he faced as the head of his company.

It’s not just his health care proposal that did not pass the House of Representatives that has been a challenge.  He has seen his immigration executive orders stopped by the courts, faced questions about his proposal to defund domestic programs in order to raise defense spending, and learned that foreign affairs are far more complicated than he imagined.

It seems that when things don’t go his way he finds someone else to blame.  The Democrats are to blame for the health care defeat. “So called judges” are to blame for the hold on his immigration ban.  There are leakers who are to blame for information going to the press who only deal in fake news.

As Charles Krauthammer pointed out in his latest column the country’s checks and balances really do work.  This is a feature of government that Donald Trump either does not understand or hopes will go away.  It won’t go away.

Mr. Krauthammer listed these checks on the usurping of power.

1.     The courts.

2.     The states.

3.     Congress.

4.    The media.

Posted by: coastcontact | March 18, 2017

Trump Presidency Accomplishments on Day 56

America’s president has accomplished something I doubt any other president has ever done in one day. A distinct dislike by two of our most important allies and a threat of war.

First he accused Great Britain, America’s most valuable ally, of participating in the wire tapping of the Trump Tower in New York City. He suggested that former president Barack Obama convinced Britain’s spy agency to monitor Mr. Trump during last year’s election campaign. Livid British officials adamantly denied the allegation and secured promises from senior White House officials never to repeat it. But a defiant Mr. Trump refused to back down, making clear that the White House had nothing to retract or apologize for because his spokesman had simply repeated an assertion made by a Fox News commentator. Fox itself later disavowed the report.

Second, Mr. Trump in his first face to face meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, not only refused to shake hand with her, accused Germany of manipulating the Euro in a way that gave Germany an unfair trade advantage against the United States. She sat, obviously in an awkward situation, as Trump defended his wire tapping accusations.

Third, while Trump was busy in Washington, D.C. his Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson was in Seoul, South Korea threatening a pre-emptive military strike against North Korea. He said that “The policy of strategic patience has ended.”

 

No doubt that Donald Trump has stirred things up in Washington. How has these actions put America in a better place?

Posted by: coastcontact | March 14, 2017

The Conflicted Presidency

The following editorial appeared in today’s Los Angeles Times.  While I do not usually re-print their editorials, this one is particularly important.   This commentary points out that Donald Trump does not care what you think or what you believe.

Donald Trump in the East Room discussing health

 

Financial conflicts abound when the orbits of the highest office and the family business overlap.

Donald Trump ran for office as a candidate so deeply enmeshed in his family business that just about any remedy short of selling the Trump Organization would lead to conflicts of interest for his presidency. Two months later, that’s exactly what we’ve got: conflicts galore.

Trump made a big pre-inaugural show of separating himself from active participation in the Trump Organization by turning control over to his children. Yet he retains a financial stake, so any profits that accrue to the business accrue to him too. And since Trump has broken with four decades of tradition by refusing to make his tax returns public (an outrage that he still should rectify), the nation doesn’t even know where all his conflicts might be. And as Trump has repeatedly noted, the president is exempt from the federal conflict-of-interest laws that his appointees must follow.

The problems exist at two levels. First is the clear potential for self-dealing. But benefits also could fall to President Trump through unbidden acts by others, such as foreign governments granting advantages to his overseas properties hoping to win favor with the administration. In fact, China recently approved three dozen Trump-related trademarks in what some experts say was an expedited process. And with Trump as the U.S. government’s chief executive, his private business holdings will routinely put underlings in fraught situations. If they roll back regulation, was it because it needed to be changed or because it might help the boss?

So where are Trump’s conflicts? Pretty much everywhere. Since the inauguration, Trump has spent four weekends at Mar-A-Lago, his private Palm Beach resort that on Jan. 1- three weeks before Trump’s inauguration – doubled its initiation fee to 9200,000. Trump’s backers argued that it was overdue- the fee had been halved in the aftermath of the Bernie Madoff scandal, which hit Palm Beach hard. Yet the timing is, at the least suspect, as though the resort was capitalizing on the desire of the well-heeled to hobnob with the new president.

And when Trump is in Florida, he plays golf at one of two nearby Trump courses, among the 17 owned or controlled by Trump Golf, five in foreign countries. Son Eric Trump, who oversees the golf portfolio, said recently that “the stars have all aligned … I think our brand is the hottest it has ever been.” What aligned those stars? Trump’s election, which added value to the brand.

And among the first regulations Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency targeted for repeal is known as the Waters of the United States rule. That rule put costly restrictions on runoff from, you guessed it, golf courses.

The Trump Organization also lists 14 hotels, six overseas and eight in the U.S., including the new Trump International in the renovated and government-owned Old Post Office building a few blocks from the White House. The lease for that building bars elected officials from receiving benefits from it, and although it appears Trump is now in violation, it is up to his government employees to enforce or re-negotiate. Foreign diplomats have thrown business to the hotel because the president’s name is on it, revenues that ethics experts say violate the emoluments clause in the U.S. Constitution barring the president from receiving money from foreign governments. And last week the owners of a nearby wine bar sued, complaining that competitors operating in the hotel had an unfair advantage because the president’s name is on the building.

The list goes on. Trump says he is under audit by the Internal Revenue Service, which now works for him, raising questions about its independence. Trump will be appointing a majority of the National Labor Relations Board, which lists 47 active cases involving Trump businesses. Trump’s been renting space to the Secret Service in his Trump Tower to provide security for his wife and son, who remain in New York City.

Trump will not resolve these conflicts on his own – he’s shown that he intends to bull ahead, the interests of the nation be damned. Among those who could force the issue are congressional Republican leaders – but they seem content to let it simmer. That is unacceptable. The system of checks and balances requires action, not quiet acquiescence, and Congress should be ensuring that the executive does not violate the Constitution.

Posted by: coastcontact | March 8, 2017

Fearful Immigrants in U.S. Seek Protection in Canada

My parents were born and raised in Winnipeg, Canada.  My father told me numerous times about the cold winter weather.  He said it reached 40 degrees below zero on the coldest days.  It did reach 24 degrees below this past January.  Both those temperatures are dangerous to humans beings.  110 km or 68.35 miles from Emerson (U.S. Canadian border) to Winnipeg. Winnipeg is a pretty city in the summer.

By Alexandra Zavis | Reporting from Emerson, Canada to the Los Angeles Times

The migrants staggered into this sleeping border town before dawn, cold and exhausted.

They had struggled through farm fields for hours in knee-deep snow, hoping to evade detection by the U.S. Border Patrol. A man cradling a baby wrapped in a puffy parka and gray blanket peered anxiously at the darkened clapboard homes.

“Is this Canada?” he asked.

HIghway to Canada

The tiny community of Emerson — population less than 700 — has seen its share of U.S. “border jumpers” over the years, but nothing like this. Until last year, residents might spot five or six strangers passing through town over the odd weekend, carrying backpacks and looking disheveled.

But since President Trump was elected last year on promises to crack down on illegal immigration and conduct “extreme vetting” of Muslims, the numbers have surged. Recently, at least 22 people sneaked across the border near Emerson in a single night, including the man with the baby, who said he was from Djibouti.

Two Royal Canadian Mounted Police vehicles pulled up to his group within minutes, lights flashing. The officers explained that they were going to arrest the migrants — six adults and three children — and drive them to a nearby border post to apply to remain in the country as refugees.

The migrants looked relieved. They are part of a small but rapidly growing population of asylum seekers who have lost hope that America will accept them and are embarking on a perilous trek north to petition for protection in Canada.

Some have already passed through up to a dozen countries, braving vast forests and raging rivers on a months-long odyssey across South and Central America before surrendering to officials at the U.S.-Mexico border. Others fly directly into major U.S. cities but, convinced they won’t receive refuge, head north from there.

Few are prepared for the harsh weather they will face on the icy prairies along the frontier between the Canadian province of Manitoba and the U.S. states of North Dakota and Minnesota.

Two men from Ghana lost most of their fingers to frostbite after getting lost in sub-freezing temperatures and are recovering in Winnipeg. Local farmers wonder whether they might find a body when the snow melts in the spring.
The two Ghanaians, Razak Iyal, 34, and Seidu Mohammed, 24, met for the first time on Christmas Eve at a bus terminal in Minneapolis.

Both men said they feared for their safety in their home country, Iyal because he had been assaulted by supporters of a rival political party, and Mohammed because he is bisexual.

But after making treacherous overland journeys to the U.S. from Brazil, they did not receive the welcome they expected. They were both detained the moment they showed up without passports at the San Ysidro border crossing between San Diego and Tijuana.

Iyal was placed in handcuffs and chains — standard procedure — for the flight to a detention facility in Arizona. “I was crying, ‘What is going on?’” he said. “Am I a criminal, or am I a terrorist or what?”

Neither could afford a lawyer to represent him in immigration court, and both lost their U.S. asylum cases.

After 22 months in custody, Iyal said, he petitioned successfully for release and went to stay with an uncle in New York while U.S. authorities tried to obtain travel documents from Ghana to deport him. Mohammed, who was freed on bond after about nine months in detention in California, joined a friend in Ohio.

Late last year, they both received word from their deportation officers that they should get ready to go back to Ghana.

In a panic, each started making inquiries about how to get to Canada. They were the only Africans at the Minneapolis station the night they met, so they caught a bus together to Grand Forks, N.D. There they found a driver willing to get them closer to the border — for $200 each.

It was past 11 p.m. and the temperature was around zero degrees Fahrenheit when the driver dropped the pair off by the side of the road and pointed in the direction of Canada.

As soon as they stepped into a farmer’s field, they sank into waist-deep snow. They had to use their hands to lift their feet out and lost their gloves. The wind picked up and blew Mohammed’s hat off. His eyelids froze shut. They both started feeling a horrible burning in their hands and feet.

Neither had ever heard of frostbite.

After walking about three hours, the men emerged onto a highway near Emerson. They could see the bright lights from the border post but were afraid to ask for help, in case they were sent back to the U.S.

Trucks lumbered by but didn’t stop. Finally, after they had waited about seven hours, a driver pulled over for them and dialed 911.

Video link: http://www.latimes.com/videogallery/

Most of those fleeing the U.S. for Canada avoid official ports of entry because of an agreement between the two countries to send back asylum seekers.

The arrangement is based on the principle, enshrined in international law, that those fleeing persecution should apply for asylum in the first safe country they reach. But once they set foot on Canadian soil, legally or not, they can petition for designation as refugees on that side of the border.

Migrant rights advocates argue that this encourages people to make dangerous illegal crossings and have called on the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to rescind the agreement.

They contend that the U.S. can no longer be considered a safe place for asylum seekers to have their claims heard in light of recent orders issued by the Trump administration — including one this week that temporarily suspends refugee resettlement and bars travel from six Muslim-dominated countries.

Canada’s government so far has said it will uphold the deal with the U.S., noting that it provides “an orderly system of managing asylum claims.” But Trudeau has told Parliament that he won’t turn away refugees who enter illegally.

Bashir Khan, a Winnipeg immigration attorney, said the problems that are driving asylum seekers to flee the U.S. did not begin with Trump. “They are kind of not well-treated by the U.S. justice system,” he said.

He is representing 37 refugee claimants — including Mohammed and Iyal — who had asylum claims denied in the U.S. All were jailed upon arrival there and held for an average of seven months, he said. They had no idea how to fill out asylum forms and were not offered government-appointed lawyers.

In contrast, asylum seekers who enter Manitoba illegally are usually held for less than 24 hours, the time it takes to do security checks and file refugee claims. Local aid groups routinely help them complete the paperwork, and a government-paid attorney will represent them at the hearing — increasing the odds of a successful outcome.
Even with the recent surge, the number of asylum claims handled in the U.S. is significantly higher than in Canada, and applicants there might have to wait years for a decision because of a backlog of cases. Here, the average wait time is four months.

The number of asylum seekers crossing illegally into Canada has been growing for several years.

The biggest increase has been in Quebec province, where there are major cities on both sides of the border. The Canadian Border Services Agency said 1,280 of the refugee claims it handled in Quebec between April 2016 and early January 2017 were for people who entered illegally, three times the number in the previous fiscal year.

In Manitoba, 430 claimants entered illegally in the first nine months of the fiscal year, compared with 340 for all of 2016. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have picked up more than 180 people in and around Emerson since then.

They include people from a number of African nations. But the biggest share, refugee advocates say, come from Somalia — one of the six countries targeted in Trump’s executive order.

Minneapolis, home to the largest Somali community in the U.S., is a six-hour drive from Manitoba. People there have seen Trump’s attempts to limit immigration and are growing increasingly fearful that they won’t be allowed to stay.

One recent border crosser said immigration enforcement agents raided the warehouse where he worked in the city. The 34-year-old Somali was still waiting for a decision on his asylum claim and hid behind machinery, afraid he too would be taken away.

He knew the trip to Canada would be dangerous, but decided he and his pregnant wife would have to risk it. Militants from the Shabab group killed his father and brother in Somalia’s war-ravaged capital, Mogadishu.

“America has changed,” he said. “That’s why I lost hope in America.”

The reception they received in Canada was very different from the U.S., he said. A pair of early morning walkers found the group they were with on the edge of Emerson and brought them home to warm up while they waited for the authorities to arrive.

The couple is now at a Salvation Army shelter in Winnipeg waiting for a hearing to determine if they can remain in Canada.

“This is our final and last hope,” said the man, who was afraid to give his name, in case it jeopardizes his refugee claim.

“It’s not only me,” he added. “There are hundreds of people coming who are fleeing from this new administration.”

The influx has been a source of tension in Emerson, a town of grain farmers, border agents, small business operators and many retirees. No one wants to leave people out in the cold. But some residents wonder why migrants are crossing illegally, and they worry about the safety of their town.

“It’s the bigger groups that are coming across that are starting to get a little more concerning,” said Greg Janzen, the chief elected official, in the Emerson-Franklin municipality. “Because as the groups get bigger, the law enforcement is going to have a hard time keeping up.”

At the Emerson Inn bar, patrons joke that Canada should build its own version of Trump’s border wall. Some people who never felt the need to lock their doors at night are now doing so.

But others aren’t so worried. Wayne Pfiel, the 46-year-old bartender, said he has talked to a number of border crossers who showed up at the hotel in the early hours. Most just wanted to know if they were in Canada and asked him to dial the authorities.

“I found one person by the front door,” he said. “I let him in and gave him a coffee…. I don’t like to see them freeze.”

When the first group of 19 Africans showed up last month, border officials didn’t have space to keep all of them at their office while they were being processed, and appealed to the town for help.

Brenda Piett, a volunteer emergency coordinator, opened up the community hall so the migrants could rest on makeshift beds. They looked hungry, she said, so she bought bread and Nutella to make sandwiches.

She doesn’t think the migrants would do anything that could jeopardize their chances to stay in Canada. “I just feel sad that they are having to make that journey,” said Piett, 57.

The Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council, one of the main refugee resettlement agencies in the province, has been sending vans to collect the migrants after they are processed and bring them to Winnipeg. But the group’s shelter is now at capacity, so it had to enlist the help of the Salvation Army.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police say they are mobilizing more resources and working with their U.S. counterparts to manage the flow.

In the stillness of the night, their vehicles patrol known crossing points on both sides of the border. Occasionally, an officer emerges to scan the tree line with a thermal imaging device, looking for signs of life.

When temperatures warm up, both sides are bracing for an even bigger surge.

Special correspondent Kristina Jovanovski in Toronto contributed to this report.
alexandra.zavis@latimes.com

Posted by: coastcontact | March 8, 2017

‘Popular Photography’ Magazine Stops Publishing

From DPReview by Dan Bracaglia

Franklin D. Roosevelt was president of the United States of American when the first issue of Popular Photography Magazine hit newsstands in May of 1937. Now, nearly 80 years later, one of the world’s most widely circulated photography print publications is closing.

The upcoming March/April issue will be the last, and as of Friday, March 10th, no new content will be published on PopPhoto.com. This news comes after the publication switched to a bi-monthly print schedule about six months ago.

Pop Photo’s sister publication, American Photo Magazine, had been Web-only for the past couple of years; it will also stop updating its website as of this coming Friday.

Eric Zinczenko, the CEO of Bonnier, parent company of both titles, made the announcement earlier today via a company-wide email.

This news hits especially close to home, as I had the distinct privilege of starting my career as an intern, and later an assistant and associate editor at Popular Photography and American Photo magazines. And I know first hand how dedicated and passionate the staff of these titles is. After all, they’re what made me first fall in love with this industry. So go get yourself a nice hoppy beer (PP tech editor Phil Ryan’s favorite) and take a long deep gulp, because the photography world just got dimmer by a stop.

DPREVIEW is still going very strong.  It is my “go to web” site for all things photography.

Posted by: coastcontact | March 5, 2017

The End of Free Speech in America

Does anyone understand the first amendment to the constitution of the United States? Does anyone understand the intent?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

A Vietnamese woman came to this country when she was five years old. She was part of the “boat people” who escaped Vietnam when the United States abandoned its efforts to stop the spread of communism. That was at the end of the Vietnam War that ended in defeat for the United States.

That woman is now Senator Janet Nguyen, R-Garden Grove, California. She is the first Vietnamese American in the country elected to a state senate seat. She dared to criticize late state Sen. Tom Hayden’s, D-Santa Monica, support of the communists in Vietnam. California State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles had Senator Nguyen physically dragged off the Senate floor for pointing out that Tom Hayden was in fact a traitor to the United States.

 

Fires burned in the cradle of free speech, University California Berkeley. Furious at a lecture organized on campus, demonstrators wearing ninja-like outfits smashed windows, threw rocks at the police and stormed a building. The speech? The university called it off. The university was under siege for canceling a speech by the incendiary right-wing writer Milo Yiannopoulos and words like intolerance, long used by the left, were being used by critics to condemn the protests on February 3 that ultimately prevented Mr. Yiannopoulos from speaking.

 

In April 2014 Ayaan Hirsi Ali was invited to Brandeis University’s commencement festivities and then she was uninvited.  So, what’s all that about? Well, Hirsi Ali is a figure of some controversy, don’t you know! She has been a strong voice against such barbaric practices as female genital mutilation, and the more totalitarian aspects of Islamic sharia law that oppress women, such as so-called “honor killings.” Personally speaking, I am glad she has done such things. However, she is not of the mind that Islam is a legitimate religion that has been, in some instances, tragically co-opted in some benighted corners of the world by nihilistic death-cults. She does not believe it is possible for a moderate or Westernized form of Islam to exist. She has said so: “There is no moderate Islam.” And so, she has called for the complete destruction of Islam existentially.

 

In September 2011 jurors on found 10 of the “Irvine 11” Muslim students guilty on charges that stemmed from the disruption of a speech by the Israeli ambassador, Michael Oren, to the United States when he visited UC Irvine in February of 2010.

 

What do all of these incidents have in common?  The denial of freedom of speech.  How did we get here?  We have come to a time when we insist not to hear any opinions that do not coincide with our own.  We want an echo chamber that returns all of our thoughts and all of our ideas.  We have come to believe that no other thoughts and no other ideas are worth considering.  We are so sure that our ideas are the right ideas that we want to deny anyone from hearing other ideas.

Where do we go from here?

Posted by: coastcontact | March 5, 2017

Donald Trump manipulates the Media and Congress

Donald Trump know exactly what he is doing when he claims there has been wiretapping of Trump Tower.

I have not read or heard any of the any commentator’s explanation for the latest tweets that Barack Obama was instrumental in the phone wiretap at the Trump Tower in New York. After all it was Trump in his address to congress who said “The time for small thinking is over. The time for trivial fights is behind us.”

Did he forget the speech or was that the words of his speech writer?

My theory is quick and easy to understand. Use the media to redirect the focus of the American people. In doing that his administration will not be the center of attention. Trump, I suspect, believes the public focus on wire tapping or other Alt-facts will enable him to carry out his agenda without a great deal of media focus.  In other words, get the media and the congress to focus on fake news.

As of today he has succeeded. The Sunday morning TV talk shows have been talking about wire tapping. In coming days Trump will say other things to distract the media and the congress.

This Huffington Post report supports my contention that we are now focused on the Alt-news. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Saturday that if former President Barack Obama actually wiretapped Donald Trump’s phones, either legally or illegally, it would be the biggest scandal since Watergate.

Speaking at a town hall in Clemson, South Carolina, Graham addressed Trump’s baseless claims that Obama eavesdropped on him prior to the 2016 election. Trump claimed Obama’s actions were as scandalous as “Nixon/Watergate” in one of several tweets on Saturday morning.

“I don’t know if it’s true or not, but if it is true, illegally, it would be the biggest political scandal since Watergate,” Graham said, referring to a scenario in which the Obama administration tapped Trump’s phones without a warrant. The crowd, which was evidently packed with anti-Trump residents, booed at this suggestion.

senator-lindsey-graham

Sen. Lindsey Graham addressed Trump’s baseless claim Saturday that former president Barack Obama had wire tapped Trump Tower phones.

Posted by: coastcontact | February 28, 2017

‘new chapter of American greatness’

The Washington Post offered the following on line article summarizing President Donald Trump’s address to a joint session of the Congress of the United States.  The summary was a strictly non-partisan report.  It is not “fake news.”

president-trump-addresses-a-joint-session-of-congress-on-tuesday-2-28-17

Trump lays out plan for ‘new chapter of American greatness’ in speech to Congress

by Philip Rucker, Sean Sullivan, Abby Phillip

President Trump sought to repackage his hard-line campaign promises with a moderate sheen in his first joint address to Congress Tuesday night, ushering in what he termed “a new chapter of American greatness” of economic renewal and military might.

Seeking to steady his presidency after a tumultuous first 40 days, Trump had an air of seriousness and revealed flashes of compassion as he broadly outlined a sweeping agenda to rebuild a country he described as ravaged by crime and drugs, deteriorating infrastructure and failing bureaucracies.

Trump’s speech touched on his plans to overhaul the nation’s health-care system and tax code, but was short on specifics. Struggling to steer a bitterly divided nation with his job approval ratings at historic lows, Trump effectively pleaded with the American people to give him a chance and to imagine what could be achieved during his presidency.

“We are one people, with one destiny,” Trump said quietly near the end. “The time for small thinking is over. The time for trivial fights is behind us. We just need the courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts.”

Trump extended olive branches to his opponents. He called on Congress to pass paid family leave, a reference to a long-held Democratic Party priority that brought liberal lawmakers to their feet to applaud. And he pledged to work with Muslim allies to extinguish Islamic State terrorists, going so far as to acknowledge the killings of Muslims as well as Christians in the Middle East.

Still, Trump did not back away from his most controversial policies. He used typically bellicose language to describe the fight against the Islamic State, calling it “a network of lawless savages that have slaughtered Muslims and Christians, and men, women and children of all faiths and all beliefs.”

The president forcefully defended his travel ban — an executive order that was halted in federal court — as necessary to prevent the entry of foreigners who do not share America’s values.

“We cannot allow a beachhead of terrorism to form inside America,” Trump said. “We cannot allow our nation to become a sanctuary for extremists.”

Pulling from his campaign speeches and others since taking office, the president ran off a list of accomplishments since taking office and issued promises for the year ahead.

“Above all else, we will keep our promises to the American people,” he said.

He touted “billions” in new investments by American companies in the weeks since his inauguration, seeking to highlight the actions his administration has taken to keep his campaign promises.

He vowed to usher in “historic” tax reform, as he appeared to nod to a House Republican “border adjustment” plan, but did not explicitly endorse it.

“Currently, when we ship products out of America, many other countries make us pay very high tariffs and taxes — but when foreign companies ship their products into America, we charge them nothing or almost nothing,” said Trump.

The “border adjustment” is shorthand for a House GOP proposal to tax imports, which some Republicans oppose. Trump didn’t use those words in his address. But his remarks could be seen as a hopeful sign for those Republicans hoping he will back it unequivocally.

Trump’s comments were received with some bipartisan applause and some jeers from Democrats, especially during his mention of a lobbying restriction that some feel does not go far enough.

While his speech pulled upon many of his earlier themes, the president seemed more subdued in his delivery, sticking more to the teleprompter and avoiding the bombastic rhetoric of the campaign.

Reiterating a much-repeated campaign promise, Trump vowed midway thorough his speech to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act but stopped short of resolving disagreements among Republicans about how to do that.

While Trump did not explicitly endorse a specific step-by-step approach to repealing and replacing the federal health-care law, he did say that a replacement plan must utilize “tax credits,” which is a victory for House Republicans leaders who have looked at replacing the Obamacare subsidies with such credits.

“We should help Americans purchase their own coverage, through the use of tax credits and expanded Health Savings Accounts — but it must be the plan they want, not the plan forced on them by our government,” said Trump.

Some House and Senate conservatives oppose the idea of creating tax credits. But supporters of it can now turn to Trump’s words as they seek to build support for the idea.

In one of the speech’s tenser moments, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) who was seated in the audience, looked on, shaking her head as Trump criticized the law. Pelosi helped then-President Barack Obama pass the law and has sharply criticized Republicans for trying to undo it. Trump appeared to be pointing someone out in the crowd when he called the law a “disaster.” It was not immediately clear whether he was singling out Pelosi or someone else.

Trump told a series of stories to highlight his calls for reforms to the Food and Drug Administration and public education.

He pointed to two women who sat in the gallery as a guest of first lady Melania Trump. One who was diagnosed with a rare disease and treated with a new drug. A second who was able to attend a private school and become the first person in her family to graduate from high school and college.

Both anecdotes drew bipartisan applause from members of Congress in the audience.

He also pressed his policies on immigration, including his controversial proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We want all Americans to succeed —- but that can’t happen in an environment of lawless chaos. We must restore integrity and the rule of law at our borders,” said Trump. “For that reason, we will soon begin the construction of a great wall along our southern border. It will be started ahead of schedule and, when finished, it will be a very effective weapon against drugs and crime.”

Trump challenged members of Congress who disagree with him: “I would ask you this question: what would you say to the American family that loses their jobs, their income, or a loved one, because America refused to uphold its laws and defend its borders?”

He did call for Republicans and Democrats to work toward reforming the immigration system into a merit-based program focused on the “well-being of American citizens.”

Trump argued that the country’s current focus on low-skilled immigration hurts American workers and strains the country’s finances.

The comments come hours after Trump said in a meeting with journalists that he would support comprehensive immigration reform efforts with a pathway to legalization for law abiding immigrants.

At his remarks before Congress, Trump did not specify the parameters of a compromise he would be willing to accept. But he outlined a preference for a system that favors immigrants who are able to support themselves financially.

“I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals: to improve jobs and wages for Americans, to strengthen our nation’s security, and to restore respect for our laws,” Trump said.

Trump also vowed to take on “radical Islamic terrorism,” a divisive term that many have taken issue, arguing it unfairly singles out the Muslim religion.

He also pledged to announce new steps to bolster national security and “keep out those who would do us harm,” weeks after his executive order barring immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries was halted by a federal judge.

Pointing to statistics on terror convictions by foreigners from the Department of Justice, Trump said that it was “reckless” to allow foreigners into the country who could then perpetrate attacks on Americans.

“We cannot allow a beachhead of terrorism to form inside America — we cannot allow our Nation to become a sanctuary for extremists,” Trump said.

The comments drew mixed reaction from the gathered lawmakers.

Though Trump did not specifically mention the travel ban, he suggested that new efforts to put in place “improved vetting procedures” would be forthcoming.

Later in his speech, there were some audible groans in the crowd as Trump announced that he has ordered the Department of Homeland Security to create on office to address victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants. The office is called “VOICE” — which stands for “Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement.”

As he often did on the campaign trail, Trump mentioned Jamiel Shaw, whose teenage son was killed by an undocumented immigrant.

Central to Trump’s promise to strengthen the nation’s security is a proposal to massively infuse the military with new spending, including eliminating the defense sequester, which had put caps on military spending.

Trump this week announced that his budget would include a request for a $54 million increase in military spending accompanied by corresponding cuts in other parts of government.

“To keep America safe we must provide the men and women of the United States military with the tools they need to prevent war and —- if they must —- they have to fight and they only have to win,” Trump said.

In a highly emotional moment, President Trump lead an extended tribute to a U.S. Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens, the first U.S. service member to die in the line of duty during Trump’s administration.

With Owens’s widow, Carryn, sitting in the audience, Trump called him “a warrior and a hero” who gave his life for his nation.

“Ryan’s legacy is etched into eternity,” Trump said. “For as the Bible teaches us, there is no greater act of love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

“Ryan laid down his life for his friends, for his country, and for our freedom — we will never forget Ryan,” Trump added.

The comments, which were received with protracted applause, come in the midst of a tense time for Trump. Owens died during a raid in Yemen that left him and civilians dead, prompting a series of investigations by the Defense Department.

Owens’s father, William Owens, has also spoken out against the raid, questioning why it was authorized so quickly after Trump came into office.

Trump defended the raid on Tuesday, saying that his Defense Secretary Jim Mattis recently told him that it was a “highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemies.”

As Trump spoke, Owens’ widow stood and wept openly as the room applauded her.

While not delving too much into foreign policy during his speech, the president said the United States was willing to “find new friends” and noted that the U.S. has forged relationships with former enemies.

The comment came as growing intrigue rises about possible ties his campaign had to Russia and its efforts to influence the election.

While he did not mention Russia explicitly, the comments were reminiscent of what Trump often said on the campaign trail — that it would be a good thing for the United States to have a productive relationship with Russia, even as many U.S. lawmakers in both parties remain deeply skeptical of the Russian government’s intentions.

Trump began the night by strongly denouncing recent threats to Jewish community centers across the country and condemned a recent attack on Indian immigrants in Kansas.

“We are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms,” Trump said.

His speech quickly turned, however, as he declared that the “earth shifted beneath our feet” in 2016 as he took a victory lap over his election victory and nodded to his signature campaign themes.

“The chorus became an earthquake — and the people turned out by the tens of millions, and they were all united by one very simple, but crucial demand, that America must put its own citizens first,” said Trump.

The president closed his speech with a call for unity and an end to “trivial fights,” a comment that, coming from a president known for carrying out small feuds with his detractors on social media, elicited groans from some lawmakers.

Trump seemed to indicate that his speech represented a dawning of a new phase for the country and for his presidency.

“We will look back on tonight as when this new chapter of American Greatness began,” Trump said. “I am asking all citizens to embrace this Renewal of the American Spirit. I am asking all members of Congress to join me in dreaming big, and bold and daring things for our country.

“And I am asking everyone watching tonight to seize this moment,” Trump concluded.

Mike DeBonis and Kelsey Snell contributed to this report.

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