Monday, April 30, 2018

The New Segregation

I remember a hockey player at Edina High in 1985 telling me to play hockey for the year cost his family $3000.  That covered equipment, team fees and the expensive ice time.  Back then, it was a staggering amount of money, even for Edina, over $8000 a year when adjusted for inflation, but that $8000 today might not even get you on the JV squad of today's most competitive High School programs.  As costs to participate skyrocket, not just for sports but for everything, we've created a 'new' version of segregation, one that eliminates participation for most middle and lower income families.

This article is in no way an effort to diminish traditional segregation, a disgusting scab on our country's history, an abhorrent policy which even today has it's champions.  Where traditional segregation was used in the past to separate different minority and religious groups from the predominate white population, today's modern version is just as wrong, undeniable, but, for the most part, being implemented unintentionally.  It's a system which has eliminated the opportunity for most kids to advance financially upwards via scholarships; pricing almost all school activities out of reach for most families.

I started realizing the new segregation was a problem not in sports, but rather in music.  At my kid's school's band concert, it was my daughter who noticed the shocking lack of minority students participating in the music program.  There were a few (7), but the vast majority of kids, in a school district with a 55-45% caucasian to minority ratio, were white.  Considering music has universal appeal, I started wondering why the minority participation rate was so low.  I focused on the cost.    All three of my kids have instruments, so I'm fully aware of the participation costs.  After beginner music programs (in elementary school), costs begin to kick in around junior high.  It's then participation becomes more expensive, with specialty bands, private lessons and auxiliary costs which start dampening participation numbers. Considering the demographic make up of wealthy Americans is a mostly caucasian, and the demographic makeup of America's lower class has a much higher minority ratio, that might explain the lower minority participation rate in band.  Then it dawned on me; with the extra costs involved, it was more likely ALL lower income families were being excluded due to extra financial burden.

A friend told me an even scarier music program revelation; there are some school districts where to even be considered for the top level bands, the child HAS TO be paying for private lessons.  Cheap private lessons are $100 a month, meaning to participate in the top bands at some schools requires AT LEAST an additional $900 a school year, an amount which is the entire disposable income for many American families today.  I didn't believe it, only to be informed by others it's a rigid standard, with very few exceptions.  There are high school bands where regardless of how good you are, if your parents don't have the money, you can't play at the top level.

I'm sure those schools would insist they make exceptions for kids who are worthy of inclusion but have limited financial options, but the message before the tryouts is always very clear; 'this is the amount you HAVE TO PAY to participate.' Some innovative schools offer fundraising opportunities to offset costs, but if you are living in a lower income neighborhood, it might be harder for you to find people willing to make a purchase for a plant or wreath sale, especially when most of the fundraisers are more of the 'premium' variety.

The cost of sports in obnoxious.  The days of a few hundred dollar participation levels are gone.  You have sign up costs, equipment costs, fundraising requirements, specially coaching, specialty clinics, off season teams and travel expenses.  Even for sports without heavy duty equipment costs, the price is a few thousand dollars per year, or more.  For a sport with a lot of equipment and more competition to participate, you're looking at $7000 to $10000, per year, to participate in one activity, and there's still no guarantee your kid will even make the roster.  It makes it near impossible for kids whose families aren't able to afford these advantages to even make the beginner or junior squads.

A few years back, some parents on my kid's sports teams starting sending their kids to participate in high profile tournaments, held across the country, with a 'professionally' coached 'all-star' team, at $3000 to $5000 per weekend!  That number factors in not only the cost for the tournament, and team roster, but for the flights and hotel rooms needed not only for the kid, but for the family who would pay big money to travel to Las Vegas, or LA, or Miami to go sit on some regional baseball fields for a weekend.  Sometimes their kids would play a lot that weekend.  Sometimes they'd ride the bench, but they would send the kids out five or six times a year to these weekend specialty clinics.  It seemed like a massive waste of money, but these kids, with the high end coaching and training, get results.

Most of the kids whose families are at the top end of the spending are playing varsity. Middle class families with their less expensive, 'inferior' $3000 - $4000 annual training programs, are playing down a level.  Lower income kids are not participating at all.  The wealthiest student athletes forgo the high school experience all together, instead playing for hyper competitive club teams from places like The Domination Zone or Winner's Pro Sports Training (made up names), traveling internationally, usually with college scouts in tow.

And once again, it's not just sports.  To be considered for the lead in the school musical or play at one public school, you have to be taking high end acting classes and have appeared in a major show in town.  Even one time clubs like chess, debate and junior UN are now being infiltrated with camps, clubs and excursions to "help your kid get the advantage!"  My son has been offered a chance to travel internationally for three weeks to learn international world leadership, to "better prepare your child for a position in student government."  The cost, $10,000.  We passed.

The financial advantages start earlier and earlier for kids.  The days of walking onto a sports field for the first time at 12, picking up an instrument at 14, or starting in community theater at 16 are long gone.  Some elementary school kids are already on traveling teams.  If parents haven't already been spending outrageously by (in some cases) 7 to 10 years old, their kid's window is already closing (for soccer and hockey particularly).  Some schools offer financial assistance programs, but most families, when confronted with applying for assistance annually, fundraising constantly and trying to overcome the training disadvantage, eventually opt out of participating.  And then there is the demands for parents beyond the money.  If you don't have a car, or if you're a single parent working two jobs, who's going to get your kid to these classes, clubs, clinics and games?

And the damage to lower income families being pushed out of all these actives goes beyond their kid's individual participation.  Due to drastic conservative budget cuts, many schools no longer offer advanced academics kids need to get into college.  As quality of education suffers, the options for lower income families are further limited.  If they can't open enroll, or don't have the money for private school, the best they can do is shoot for top scores in the basic classes and hope it will be good enough.  When it comes time to take the SAT's or ACT's, kids in lower funded schools are less prepared (for the record, you can take prep and practice tests for those too, if you have the money).

People can spend their money however they want, and if they choose to spend it helping their kids, more power to them.  This is not about wealth shaming the individual.  They're just using the products available.  This is why I believe a large part of this problem is unintentional.  One parent who could afford it opted for a pricer training regiment and better equipment, followed by another wealthy family and then another, and so on.  I don't think most parents were saying "Not only will my kid get ahead, but that poor kid will get left behind. WIN!"  I don't think schools were asking "how do we limit participation by the student body in these activities."

Regardless, with our current system, wealthy parents are able to buy their kids a scholarship.  Scholarships (academic, athletic and activity based) are being gobbled up not by the best of the best, but rather the best of the wealthiest.  The opportunities for lower income families to achieve a post K-12 education for their child is growing smaller.

What can be done to reverse this?  I have no freaking idea.  It's a mess.  No college is going to offer the school musical's understudy an acting scholarship.  No college is going to offer the first trumpet in the school's secondary band a scholarship.  No college is going to offer the JV player a scholarship.  No college is going to offer the kid who has good grades at a substandard school with no advanced classes an academic scholarship.  The current system is for the wealthy, predominantly white kids, and not for the poorer, predominantly minority families.  It's the new segregation.

Here's my recommendation: save that money.  Get your kid into a school which offers advanced classes, especially in the STEM categories.  Sit down and help your kid with their homework.  If they can get through school with A's, your kid will likely get into college, and with all the money you didn't spend, you might be able to afford it.  After they graduate, maybe they'll be successful enough to where their kids might be able to participate.

One thing I can guarantee: this new segregation will get FAR worse before it gets better.

Friday, April 27, 2018

The Friday Link for 4/27/18

I have a fun one for you this week...okay it's fun for me.

I stumbled upon Numberphile on YouTube.  These are math crazed individuals, people who talk about math like most of your friends might talk about the Minnesota Vikings, Marvel Movies, or their favorite band.  They really love math, bringing you a realization there are math fans across the world enjoying, and obsessing about, math.

Matt Parker is featured in both of these videos.  First is a problem with the number 10,958.  It takes a little time to set it up, but if you follow along, you come across an interesting math anomaly (at least I thought it was interesting). Matt's solution for the 10,958 is on You Tube as well.

I enjoy how excited this guy gets about math.  I'm not so excited by the math, more of the cool party trick aspect of it all.  The main difference is I would never obsess over the one number which doesn't fit the paradigm, unlike math fans apparently do.  I just accept it and move on.

At the end of the video, he mentions 'Parker's Square.'  I'm also posting the link for that math problem, and Matt's pseudo-solution (classic Parker's Square!).  I found this clip to be riot.

I have actually ordered the t-shirt.  A math problem for you:  6,210,001,000 is a number which if you line up the ten digit number to the numbers 0123456789, each number tells you how many of that corresponding number exist in the number (6 zeros, 2 ones, 1 two...).  See, I'm not just all good looks!

Finally tonight, in commemoration of Avengers: Infinity War coming out, here is Jimmy Kimmel's unnecessary censorship! Warning: A touch adult!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Trump Top 20 Countdown for the Week of 4/16/18

Welcome to the Weekly Top 20 Countdown of Trump's ineptitude and stupidity for the week of 4/16/18 to 4/22/18.

(239 pounds = he has birthing hips)

These are the 20 meatiest morsels of incompetence coming from Trump and his Administration for this week alone.  All the things on this list should lead to investigations, committee hearings, firings, resignations and even one or two impeachment charges.  Instead we are subject to a Republican shrugging of the shoulders, as they pathetically march towards November, hoping they aren't voted out in mass.

A quick Google search will give you plenty of news options on all of these stories.  The ranking is purely on me.  Please feel free to disagree and comment why below.

On with the countdown!

20. After Former FBI Director James Comey's stunning interview on ABC News about his book, 'A Higher Loyalty,' where he questions the mental stability of the 'Commander and Chief,' Trump attacks Comey, as well as former FBI Director Andrew McCabe, in a deranged tweet accusing the both of them of committing crimes. (4/16)

19. South Korea and China, on their own, have successfully negotiated with North Korea, getting closer to finally ending the Korean conflict, and laying the foundations for a possible nuclear free Korean peninsula.  Meanwhile, Trump's still insisting he's going to make "all of it happen," but reveals he has no game plan or agenda in place to deal with already progressing negotiations. "Just get me in at the room with the guy [Kim Jung-Un] and I'll figure it out." (4/19)

18. Trump's EPA Director Scott Pruitt's outrageous spending habits are back in the spotlight.  It's determined Pruitt broke federal law when he installed his $43,000 sound-proof, phone booth in the EPA Headquarters.  The cost of the phone booth exceeded the department's authorization ability, meaning the costs should've been submitted to Congress first.  Pruitt also upgraded his official government car to a FAR more expensive model. The old EPA Director's vehicle, a Chevy Tahoe, is sitting at the EPA parking lot, ready to use, but Pruitt has gone with a new Chevy Suburban, one with all the bells and whistles.  It's a far more expensive vehicle.  Plus Pruitt demanded a major upgrade; kevlar like car seat covers which are bullet proof.  (4/17)

17. Cambridge Analytica, the London based data mining firm who helped Trump win in 2016 by lying to numerous social media companies as they accumulated personal data on their customers, and somehow (mysteriously) had most of their data end up in the hands of the Russians, might even be worse.  A Cambridge Analytica whistleblower says the initial report the company created a database of 87 million people is actually grossly underreporting the data collection operation, putting the number of people impacted by their information gathering operation well into the hundreds of millions.  The implication is there are other apps and programs which illegally harvested data, data which was used with surgical precision to manipulate the voting base in the US, apps and programs which haven't been discovered/revealed yet. (4/17)

16. Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, is caught doing something weird and dishonest, AGAIN.  Multiple times Zinke has claimed to be a geologist.  While he did take a few geology courses in college, he's in no way an actual geologist.  Not only has he made these claims in public, he's also said this during sworn testimony. (4/19)

15. As Rudy Giuliani joins Trump's personal legal team, many people are speculating this might be a sign of Trump's potential removal of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the first step needed to shut down of the Mueller investigation. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has threatened to quit his position if Trump fires Rosenstein.  It's also noted Trump has had to 'settle' for Giuliani, one of the few lawyers willing to represent Trump with his legal troubles. (4/20)

14. In a blow to Trump's anti-immigrant agenda, the Supreme Court has limited the amount of immigrants who can be deported due to their criminal records.  The case has more to do with what charges are considered violent and which ones aren't (as opposed to the individual rights of immigrants), but the real shocker is that the four liberal judges were joined by Trump Appointee Neil Gorsuch in the 5-4 ruling. (4/17)

13. Trump has personally blocked new sanctions which were to be imposed on Russia, in response to Russia's continued support of the Assad regime in Syria, especially in the wake of the most recent chemical weapons attack by Assad on his own people.  New sanctions were announced by UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, but Trump quietly ordered the sanctions to be disregarded. (4/16)

12. When Trump attacked Maggie Haberman and the New York Times for their story on whether or not Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen will cooperate in the Mueller investigation, Trump specifically attacked one of the sources as a "drunk/drugged up loser." He didn't specify which source he was referring too, but the only two sources for the story were Trump BFF Roger Stone and former Trump aide Sam Nunberg.  Haberman has revealed Trump was clearly referring to Nunberg.  It's also pointed out Trump would never go after Roger Stone, because Stone knows "where all the bodies are buried." (4/21)

11. Trump, who twice has said he fired former FBI Director James Comey because of the Russian investigation (Once on NBC News and once to Russian officials in the Oval office, according to official transcripts of that meeting) has once again changed his story, insisting on Twitter Comey was NOT fired for the Russian Investigation.  He's such a bad liar he can't remember what story he's told. (4/18)

10. A war is breaking out between UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and White House Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow.  After Trump 'swept the leg' on Haley, publicly contradicting her claim of new US sanctions against Russia, Kudlow stated she was 'ahead of the curve,' and Haley was having some 'momentary confusion.'  Haley's immediate response (in a very terse manner), "I don't get confused." (4/17)

9. Former First Lady Barbara Bush passed away on Tuesday, April 17th, 2018.  The White House immediately released a statement which said she passed away on April 17th, 2017.  Reminder:  Trump claimed his Administration is 'detail oriented,' but, CLEARLY, no one in the Administration actually proofreads anything.  By the way, Barbara Bush, who was known for her literacy work, privately and repeatedly slammed Trump. (4/17)

8. The Trump Administration, quietly hoping no one would notice, has gut an anti discrimination statute designed to guarantee health care access for transgender patients.  The rules were designed to stop health care providers from getting federal financial assistance if they were found to be discriminating on the basis of gender identity.  Now, according to Trump, it's legal to openly discriminate in the health care profession. (4/22)

7. After a stunning day of Twitter stupidity on Friday (called Debbie Wasserman Schultz 'Wendy,' deletes 'Wendy' tweet, misspelled 'shady,' misspelled 'Special Counsel' TWICE(!), and floats the dumbest, most laughable James Comey conspiracy yet, implying The Press generated the Special Counsel, not the DOJ...WOW!!!) Trump is at it early on Saturday.  Trump, clearly concerned his horrible treatment of Michael Cohen might come back to bite him, attacks reporter Maggie Haberman (Trump spelt it Habberman) and the New York Times for printing a story about how Michael Cohen might be enticed to flip for the Mueller's investigation.  Trump attacks the sources for the story, implies the story is completely false, and then attempts to suck up to Cohen. (4/21)

6. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned the USA, due to Trump's tax bill, the US is the only advanced economy who will see their public debt ratio increase over the next three to five years, an increase which could have a major destabilizing effect on the country's economy. (4/19)

5. Appearing in court on Monday, Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen had to publicly state the name of his third client, after (1) Trump and (2) the former RNC Financial Chair whom Cohen paid off a Playboy model for, to keep her quiet.  An audible gasp accompanied Cohen's reveal, as Fox News host Sean Hannity was named the third client.  Hannity has not revealed his connection to Trump's lawyer, and hence Trump, even though he spends most weeknights defending Cohen and Trump specifically against the encroaching investigations. The judge on Monday also ruled against Cohen reviewing the evidence against him prior to law enforcement getting it. Can you imagine what the response would be if it was discovered Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann shared former President Obama's personal lawyer, while he was in office, even though he was NEVER investigated for personal malfeasance? (4/16)

4. EPA Director Scott Pruitt, in 2003, while a state senator in Oklahoma, bought a house.  Technically a shell company bought the house, which Pruitt eventually became the owner of.  The shell company was linked to one of his business partners, Kenneth Wagner.  The mortgage was financed by another personal friend, former banker Albert Kelly, a man who's currently banned from the banking industry FOR LIFE, because he repeatedly broke federal banking laws.  Both Wagner and Kelly are current employees of...wait for it...the EPA!  Wagner is a Senior Advisor for EPA Regional and State Affairs.  Kelly is currently the Director of the EPA's Superfund Program. (4/22)

3. The Sean Hannity story keeps getting weirder.  Not only is Hannity, a man who has religiously defended Trump and his lawyer Michael Cohen, outed as being one of Cohen's clients, but now we hear another of Trump's lawyers, Jay Sekulow, is also one of his lawyers.  On top of that, apparently Trump and Hannity talk quite regularly, with his calls getting connected wherever Trump is, with one White House official stating it's as if Hannity is an unofficial Chief of Staff.  More attention is being focused on Hannity's potential role in the Trump/Russia affair.  Not only are there clear connections between Hannity and Wikileaks (Reminder: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, the main supplier of Russian propaganda during the 2016 campaign, was actively trying to get in touch with Hannity, actually direct messaging a fake Hannity Twitter account, with Assange implying there was a long standing relationship between the two men), Hannity has been the source for numerous stories which seem to have originated from Russia, and has used his TV show as a main outlet for Trump and his people to get an uncontested platform to deny allegations. (4/18)

2. After claiming the Administration would never participate in such cruel behavior, it's reported the Department of Homeland Security, since October, has separated 700 children from their immigrant parents at the border.  At least 100 of the kids separated from their parents are under the age of 4.  The Trump Administration has bragged they'd install such harsh tactics, but have downplayed and denied their actions, knowing these methods are so cruel, even a majority of Trump's supporters don't endorse such mean spirited, anti-Christian tactics. (4/21)

1. The Tump Administration released the Comey memos, claiming they clear Trump's name, but almost immediately their big reveal backfired spectacularly.  Trump's claiming the memos exonerate him, but they don't even come close to that.  Comey wrote Trump himself claimed there was no collusion, but Comey never once said that.  What the memos do show is a wildly paranoid Trump, insisting the Russian prostitute story wasn't true, bringing it up on his own at least three times. Trump lied to Comey about the prostitute story, claiming he never stayed in the hotel that night, even though others have testified, under oath, he did indeed stay there.  Trump was obsessed with Former FBI Director Andrew McCabe's wife, and with defending Russia, who Trump himself brought up five different times.  Trump also blamed the Russia scandal for his failure to repeal Obamacare, Trump pushed the idea of jailing journalists who fail to give up their anonymous sources, and Trump was furious with Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn when he found out about a Putin congratulatory call after the fact.  The memos also show Trump praised Comey repeatedly, especially during the transition and in the early days of his Administration.  After the memo move backfired, Trump attacked Comey via Twitter with name calling, implying Comey is un-American. Once again, his own Administration released the Comey memos! (4/19-20)

Once again, that was only one freaking week...

For the record, I think his hiring of Pompeo and Bolton signifies Trump's intent on starting a war in a Hail Mary attempt to hold the House in 2018. 

That is why #2018IsEverything! Get registered.  Get three of your friends registered.  Be ready to vote in November!  Have a great week everyone.

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Friday Link for 4/20/18

A bit of an unusual video for you tonight, as this, historically, is quite spectacular.

As I've mentioned here, I'm just finishing up a personal project where I took my family's 16mm films from the 1920's through the 1950's, got them cleaned up, did a historical hunt to get the who, where, and when of each film, transcribed my notes and turned the film over to the Minnesota Historical Society for preservation.  The historical importance of the films made them something the Historical Society thought was valuable.

When I was getting the film cleaned and transferred to digital, I worked with the fantastic crew at Saving Tape on W. 36th in South Minneapolis.  When I was talking to them about age and film, they said my films were old, but there are even older home movies.  Prior to that, you get some local news outlets making news reels from the 1910's and 1920's, recording images on a slightly smaller version of a movie camera.  Prior to that, it was pretty much big bulky movie cameras making film.  Most films prior to 1910 are deteriorating fast, and so anything from back then is valuable, and important.

One hundred and twelve years ago on Wednesday, an earthquake stuck San Francisco.  Not only did the earthquake wipe out a large portion of the city, but the subsequent fires which burned for days wiped out many of the remaining buildings.  A total of 80% of San Francisco was lost, with more than 3000 people dead.

San Francisco was a city on the rise in 1906.  Already the 9th largest city in the US within 60 years of California entering the union, it was by far the largest city west of the rockies.  We have photos of the city before the earthquake, but film of what life was like in the bustling new town, prior to the earthquake, doesn't exists too much.

The film below is remarkable.  They attached a movie camera to a street car and recorded the ride down Market Street.  It's 8 minutes, but it's all gold; showing a busy, hectic environment.  What's amazing is they initially thought this film came from 1905, but historical research has shown this actually was likely recorded in the days before the earthquake in 1906.  You're seeing a city which has no idea what's coming it's way.  Many of the buildings you see were wiped out.  Many of the people in this film died only a few days later.  It's amazing and sad at the same time.

Enjoy the fashion.  Hold your breath for a few of the people trying to cross this street.  I find the abundance of cars amazing, but considering the amount of wealth in San Francisco at the time, and the immediate impact automobiles had in American cities, seeing them flying all over the place, in a world where lanes, traffic lights and crosswalks didn't exist, is fun.


And staying with historical films, tomorrow marks the death of Prince.  This is his version of Nothing Compares to U.  The accompanying film is remarkable too.  I miss him so much.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Into Darkness

On September 20th, 2017, Hurricane Maria hit the US Territory of Puerto Rico.  The incredibly destructive storm proceeded to do catastrophic damage to the island, decimating the roads, power gird and infrastructure.  Puerto Rico, an island populated with US citizens, was virtually destroyed.

Nearly 7 months later, Puerto Rico hasn't recovered.  The power grid still hasn't been restored for large swaths of the island, and on Wednesday, a contractor accidentally caused an island wide power failure for the areas which had gotten their power back.  Power, for the lucky ones who have it, was expected to be back by midday Friday.

It's hard to think a response to a natural disaster could be worse than W. Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina, but Trump and the US Government's response to this catastrophe is substantially worse.  After a month, W. Bush was shamed into action, but such shame doesn't seem to exist with Trump.  Puerto Rico only recently got their water service re-established, and the power grid seems to be getting repaired with a "when we get to it" mentality.  Puerto Rico still hasn't been able to get the basics reestablished.  It's so bad, at this point I don't think we can technically label Puerto Rico a 'natural' disaster anymore, as most of the damage done over the last 6 months has been at the hands of Trump and his unbelievably incompetent response.

Imagine the recent Minnesota blizzard took out power around Lake Minnetonka, with the damage done exceeding what the state of Minnesota was capable of repairing.  How many days without power would it take for the politicians, both Republican and Democrat, to be screaming for Federal assistance?  5 days?  6?  Trump's Federal Government would pull out all of the stops to get the power grid back up and running within a week and a half; two weeks at most, with a "Thank Me" Trump pep rally scheduled immediately afterwards.

Parts of Puerto Rico have been without power for 210 days.  It's now the second largest power outage in the history of the world.  OF THE WORLD!  Only a typhoon that scoured the Philippines and parts of Asia clean was worse.  We could fix Puerto Rico if we wanted to, but Trump has decided against it.  Instead, Trump continues to golf at his private resorts (at tax payer expense), never mentioning Puerto Rico.  Instead, he's getting ready to put on a military parade for himself, at a cost of tens of millions in tax payer dollars.

In the initial aftermath of the hurricane, cronyism derailed initial relief efforts, mistakes which were detrimental to the recovery.  The mysterious Whitefish Power, a Montana(?) company with two employees, a company with no major rebuilding or big storm relief maintenance experience, a company which has unexplained ties to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, was awarded the contract to rebuild the island's power grid.  They were horribly unprepared, ill-equipped for the task, and snarky when questioned about their work.   Their ineptitude showed.   The current power outage was caused when a line Whitefish Power claimed to have repaired, failed.  Whitefish was stripped of it's contract after it was determined they were incompetent.

There comes a point where even a bad President should realize the massive failure (W. = a month), making the command decision to send in the any military, manpower and experts to get the Puerto Rican power grid back up and running.  Considering the current Administration's failure, either Trump is purposely withholding the needed fixes for bigoted reasons, or he's quite literally one of the dumbest, meanest and most callous individuals who's ever lived.

Puerto Rico is populated with US citizens!!!  Trump, his Administration and the Republican Party are all to blame for this unacceptable result.  The shame they've manifested is on all of our shoulders.  We could call them and tell them to do something, but they won't care.  We need to hold these horrible human beings, these so called Christians, accountable for they're failure.  In the age where the 'Trump/GOP failure list' is mighty long, Puerto Rico needs to be near the top.

If you'd like to help out, the Hurricane Maria Community Relief & Recovery Fund is still taking donations.  Thanks:

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Trump Top 20 Countdown for the Week of 4/9/18

Welcome to the Weekly Top 20 Countdown of Trump's ineptitude and stupidity for the week of 4/9/18 to 4/15/18.

I've evolved Trump list.  When I spent 42 hours one week calculating all the stupidity Trump, his family and his Administration was actively engaging in, things which undeniably would've brought down a President and his Administration prior to the modern incarnation of the GOP, the Greedy Obstructionist Party, I realized it was too much.  Spending 8 hours every Saturday and Sunday was more than I'd bargained for.

The reason Trump List was taking so much time is simple; this is quite literally the worst President and Administration we've ever seen.  It's the polar opposite of Lincoln and his 'Cabinet of Enemies,' a group of people who steered this country through our darkest internal conflict.  It's worse than W. and his Administration of ulterior motives.  It's worse than Reagan and his alpha males on steroids, "I'm in charge," group of power hunger jackasses.  It's worse than Harding's Administration of thieves, hell bent on carving up this country, and it's resources, for personal gain.  It's worse than the Presidencies and Administrations of Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce and Buchanan, four leaders who knew the country was coming to a head on the slavery issue, but decided to punt, hoping they could pass the issue off to the next guy (to be fair, Taylor died in office of intestinal issues, but even so, there was nothing which implied he would've dealt with the issue).  No, there has never been a worse group of people, dumb, agenda driven, narcissistic, self worshiping morons, leading this country, and the fact the weekly Trump List of impeachable incompetency was getting as long as it was acts as the evidence; poof of the dark times we're in.

It wasn't easy to quit Trump list.  I was usually getting 3000 to 5000 hits per week on those posts.  People liked it.  Thank you, but my family and my sanity were the priority.  Still, I kept saying if there was a way to trim this down, to where it wasn't such a time whore, I'd love to revisit it.

I decided to do more of a countdown; 'a best of the worst!'  Although it removes a lot of the bullet points, it does limit my daily work to less than two hours, and it's not like the orange buffoon doesn't deliver.  All of these things would have undoubtedly gotten their own investigation under Obama, and at least eight of the top 10, up until November of 2016, would've been no brainer causes for an impeachment vote in the House.  And a reminder, THIS IS ONLY ONE WEEK!

Enjoy the new format.  Let me know what you think.  A quick Google search will give you plenty of news options on all of these stories.

On with the Countdown!

20. First Daughter, and White House staffer doing...something, Ivanka Trump is being criticized for filling in (in an official capacity) for Trump and the Secretary of State, as she attended a conference in Peru in place of her father.  It is extremely unusual to have an unqualified, unelected Presidential family member officially sit in for the State Department. (4/14)

19. After John Bolton took office as National Security Advisor on the 9th, there were multiple resignations from Trump's national security team.  The official story all week long was that these resignations had nothing to do with Bolton.  Now we understand these resignations have everything to do with Bolton, as he's purging anyone who doesn't agree with his pro war stances. (4/15)

18. Trump wakes up on Friday and rage tweets against James Comey after the initial revelations coming from Comey's book, 'A Higher Loyalty.'  He called Comey a "Leaker and a Liar."  Funny, I thought Trump loved leakers... (4/13)

17. It's revealed that Trump was intending to fire Special Council Robert Mueller in December, after the story came to light Mueller had subpoenaed Trump's Deutsche Bank account information.  Trump's lawyers calmed him down by assuring him the story was incorrect. (4/10)

16. Trump's 2020 re-election campaign is burning through a stunning amount of cash for legal fees for Trump.  22% of their entire budget, for a fund which is supposed to be dedicated to getting him re-elected in 2 and a half years, is going to pay for his current legal quagmire. (4/15)

15. Trump's UN Ambassador Nikki Haley has said the reason the US doesn't take more refugees from war torn Syria is because the refugees would rather stay in their war torn land as opposed to come to the United States. Either that's a lame excuse for not caring for needy Syrians, or Trump's reputation has placed the US below war torn Syria as far as livable palatability. (4/15)

14. First Daughter, and White House staffer doing...something, Ivanka Trump is schooled by Ret. Gen. Mark Hertling.  She implies the government doesn't look out for healthy lifestyles in America's youth. Hertling has to inform her of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition, an organization championed by all Presidents for over 60 years. Currently, of the 25 appointees to the Council, there are zero. (4/9)

13. A Vice report states that two members of Trump's Administration, Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division in the DOJ Makan Delrahim, and the Second in charge at the Department of the Interior, David Bernhardt, were both registered lobbyists for the Soviet born billionaire Leonard Blavatnik, a man with close ties to Putin (4/13)

12. Trump is reversing course on another one of his major campaign promises.  He now wants National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow to ask about joining the Trans Pacific Partnership, the TPP, the Pacific nation's trade deal which Trump campaigned strongly against, a trade plan he called a "disaster," pushed by people "who want to rape [the United States]."  The remaining countries, minus the USA, signed the deal in March. (4/12)

11. Trump went nutzoid, attacking everything and nearly everyone after the raid on his lawyer Micahel Cohen.  He attacked Attorney general Jeff Sessions, went after Robert Mueller's investigation, threatened to fire Mueller directly, and attacked the FBI as a whole.  Trump is seriously considering firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the first lynchpin he would need to accomplish in order to fire Mueller.  For some reason, during his temper tantrum, Trump outright lied about when exactly he found out about the Cohen raid. (4/9)

10. Former FBI Director James Comey is about to go on his book tour and the book, 'A Higher Loyalty,' is a doozie! Chief of Staff John Kelly called Comey right after his firing and told him he was "sick" of the whole thing, "intended to quit", and referred to Trump as "dishonorable." The book hints Trump is obsessed with the (alleged) urine tape.  Trump wanted the most salacious allegations dismissed by Comey, namely there's footage of Trump watching prostitutes urinate in the same Moscow hotel the Obama's stayed in.  Trump also wasn't concerned in the slightest about the undeniable evidence Russia interfered in the Election of 2016. (4/12)

9. Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer, has been caught lying about a trip he made to the Czech capital of Prague.  Why is this important? The Steele Dossier, opposition research done by Michael Steele during the 2016 campaign, reported that Michael Cohen met with Russian officials in Prague in 2016 to discuss helping Trump.  Cohen had long denied the report saying he had never been to Prague, or the Czech Republic.  Now it's confirmed that Cohen did indeed enter into the Czech Republic in August of 2016, directly contradicting Cohen's claims. (4/14)

8. Ignoring the old adage 'Loose lips sink ships,' Trump decided to inform Russia of an impending airstrike the US military was going to preform in Syria, VIA TWITTER.  For the record, both Russia and Syria probably said thanks and prepared themselves. Less than an hour after Trump informed Russia and Syria of an impending attack of missiles in Syria, Trump tweeted out an olive branch to Russia, asking "Stop the arms race?" (4/11)

7. Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen arranged for a 1.6 million dollar hush money payout to a former Playboy model, on behalf of a top Republican Party member/donor, Elliot Broidy, who had impregnated the model last year, according to the Wall Street Journal.  The model ended up getting an abortion. (4/13)

6. Trump son-in-law and Senior Presidential Advisor Jared Kushner received a miracle!  The Kushner family property, 666 (!!!) 5th Ave. in Manhattan is grossly over priced, wallowing in debt, and was about to bankrupt the entire Kushner family, until a miracle filing with the SEC on 4/6 which shows someone fronting the money to not only overcome Kushner's debt, but to allow the Kushner's to buy out their partner Vornado's debt too. Neither the Kushners nor anyone at Vornado are talking about where the money came from. (4/9)

5. In what is clearly an attempt to change the subject, Trump pardoned former Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff Scooter Libby, in an attempt to take the spotlight off of his scandals.  Trump's also attempting to send a message, albeit a lame one, to Comey and Mueller.  A reminder; the 'hero' Trump pardoned outed undercover American agents across the globe in an attempt to discredit a main critic of the W. Bush era Iraq War agenda, a move which ended with numerous agents killed.  Trump pardoned that guy. (4/13)

4. Trump's latest Judicial Nominee, Wendy Vitter, at her confirmation hearing in the Senate, refused to answer whether she agreed with the landmark ruling, Brown vs. Board of Education, which got rid of segregation in public schools.  She basically admitted she's pro segregation.  She also has definitively stated Planned Parenthood kills 150,000 women a year, but refused to answer if she still stands by the clearly made up number. (4/11)

3. The National Enquirer has been caught once again caught paying off a Trump story peddler, then burying the story to prevent it from getting out.  This time it was the former doorman at the Trump World Tower Dino Sajudin.  They paid him a total of 30K for the exclusive rights to rumors he'd heard about Trump fathering a baby with an employee.  Putting aside the question, 'why would you pay 30K for only a rumor?', the Enquirer is claiming they tried to prove it, but it turned out to only be a rumor.  The Enquirer's story was immediately contradicted by 4 former Enquirer employees who said they were following promising leads which would've proven the rumor to be true, and that top brass at the Enquirer had ordered them to stop.  Since the original story, Sajudin has broken his silence and stated the rumor he heard was Trump had an illegitimate child with a housekeeper he employed.  While working for Trump, he was told to not be too critical of the housekeeper as she had had an affair with Trump, and affair which produced a child. (4/12)

2. Trump takes credit for airstrikes in Syria, with a "Mission Accomplished" tweet and a lot of accolades for himself, but there are a few issues.  It seems someone warned the Russians of the impending attack (specifically time and locations), hence warned the Syrians (Putin's close allies).  The facilities were emptied out, so no one was at these facilities at the time of the airstrikes, with most materials and supplies also evacuated.  England and France had warned the USA they were going to strike with or without Trump, so Trump is once again leading from behind.  The missiles were reported to have struck most of their targets, but the Russians claim the majority were shot down prior to impact.  Most military analysis of the strike says it did nothing to hurt the Syrian regime.  And we still have nothing close to a comprehensive plan in Syria. (4/13-14)

1. Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen, had his offices and personal residence raided by the FBI in conjunction with the Mueller investigation.  The focus of the seizure are document related to payments to porn star Stormy Daniels along with other documents.  Cohen's own words could get him into a lot of legal jeopardy in regards to the Daniels affair, but he's also reportedly being investigated for bank fraud and campaign finance violations.  Also confiscated are numerous audio recordings of Cohen meeting with his clients. (4/9)

That wasn't such a chore now, was it!

Remember #2018IsEverything.  Make sure your registered to vote.  Vote in every primary.  Vote in ever special election.  Vote for your local, statewide and national races.  Know who your judicial candidates are.  Know what ballot initiatives you're going to have a say in, and educate yourselves on what those issues will do.  Vote in November.