House Tax Cut For The Wealthy And Corporations

Jake Johnson wrote the following today in commondreams.org.

“With their passage of a deeply unpopular $1.5 trillion tax cut bill on Thursday, House Republicans did their part in ‘paving the way for the greatest transfer of wealth from regular people to the super-rich in modern American history,’—a move that sparked a flood of outrage from progressive activists and lawmakers who vowed to mobilize and do everything in their power to ‘kill the bill.'”

For some time now I’ve said, often out loud that there are three reasons to be a Republican today.  The first is you are a millionaire or better a billionaire.  Second, you are a bigot/racist and hate anyone who doesn’t think, act or look like you.  And third, you are stupid.

Every time I would say number three I felt that the word “stupid” was a bit harsh.  A few times In would ameliorate the statement by saying “ignorant” instead of stupid.  Today, because I felt I didn’t know the dictionary definition of “stupid” I looked the word up in two dictionaries.

Although one of the meanings was “lacking in normal intelligence,”  most of the other meanings were, I felt, appropriate to tar Republicans in the third category.  Of course, each category is not mutually exclusive.  One can be all three.  For example, Trump fits into all three categories.   I also believe that he also is described by the “lacking in normal intelligence definition.

I won’t feel guilty say “stupid” any longer since I think it justified.  Especially in one dictionary, it said, “not using one’s brain or logic.”

Now with the “tax cut” bill the house just passed we can have a subcategory for the rich people and their lackeys, the politicians—GREED!

We can also attach lying sacks of shits too.  Imagine trying to convince anyone but stupid people that this bill will benefit the middle class with their outright lies makes you wonder has Congressional Republicans always been this corrupt since they switched political thinking with the Democrats, especially since Ronald Reagan two terms.

Their mendacity is legion.  How they can shave without being tempted to cut their own throats for being so corrupt is beyond me.  Congressmen/congresswoman, ” You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”   This was said to Joseph McCarthy by Joseph N. Welch a U.S. Army legal counsel toward the end of the Army/McCarthy Hearings.  It was a true witchhunt to find communist in 1950s society.

The words still echo with a truthfulness that should haunt those that want to give their benefactors, the rich, the ability to keep more of their money at the expense of the people of the United States.  The people who drive our economy—the middle class.

Those politicians that voted for this abomination of a bill wearing their American Flag lapel pin should be tarred and feathered and run out of Washington D.C. on a Judas Goat.

Herein ends my rant for today.

Deep South, Paul Theroux

Our last visit to Morton Arboretum’s gift shop resulted in me buying a book.  There is a section of the gift shop that has a selection of books.  Most of them are horticultural in nature.  I always find something that I think I would like to read.  Often I go to Amazon and order it for my Kindle Fire HD.  It’s cheaper than a trade publication printed version.  This time I just bought the book.

I’ll have to admit that I would have had an easier time reading on my Kindle.  The text size is adjustable.  For older readers with trouble focusing on small print that is a wonderful feature.

I took a picture of two pages.   The print looks about the same size as it really is.  I really should have included a quarter for size reference.  The print was very small and the text was very dense.  I didn’t see a hardcover copy of the book to see if it too had the same size print.  In case you’re not familiar with the term trade publication it just means a book that is larger in size from a pocketbook.  Only Captain Kangaroo had pockets large enough to accommodate a trade publication book.

You don’t know who Captain Kangaroo is?  Then, you are under the age of forty.

This isn’t the usual travel book.  It does describe locations, towns, restaurants and such; but the focus of the book is really on people.  I have never read Paul Theroux’s book before.  Years ago, I think I started Mosquito Coast but never really got interested in it.  Or was it the movie of the same name.  I can’t remember.

But this one, Deep South, held my attention and interest throughout the book.  In many instances, it is a bleak picture of decaying, dying cities and towns.  Theroux’s main focus is, for the most part, about blacks and their place in the South.  There is enough about the literature, history, geography, and social science of the south in this book.

Much of the book deals with the problems of the racial and economic divide between groups.  He also characterizes the southern attitude.  It’s an attitude I easily overlook.  It’s one of friendliness, compassion, generosity, and honesty.  I found all of those in Sergeant Bobby Goss.  Bobby and I served as instructors in Montford Point, Camp LeJeune, North Carolina for two years.

I often think about him and his generous act of lending me his car so I could go get my tools and things from my 1956 Ford that died on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in a winter storm.  He lent me his fairly new Volkswagen Beetle.  My friend Bill Galvin, who died here in Chicago recently, and I went up during another storm to Somerset, Pennsylvania.  On our return trip, a snowfall had us looking for a motel to rest and to continue the next day.

Bobby Goss didn’t hesitate—just handed me his car keys.  He lived off base with his wife.  I wonder how he got home.  He was from North Carolina. A wiry, small man, tougher than nails.  I wish more people could be like Bobby Goss.

Getting back to the book, it was worth reading, worth the insights into the deep south.  I enjoyed the reading and I learned a lot reading it.  I’d recommend it to anyone who doesn’t understand what the “Black Lives Matters” organization means.

 

Pictures Of My “Rube Goldberg” Sewer Sludge Cleaner

This will be a show and tell and short in words.  I recently had my sewer rodding guys, Ex-Stink, out to do the yearly rodding of my main sewer line out to the city sewer line.  This year Dave, ran a camera down the sewer and we saw standing water about 25 feet from the front yard clean out.  He had just run a six-inch cutter head through the pipe and was confident that all tree roots were cut.  He didn’t have a jet-rodder with him.  That a pressure washer with a nozzle that can break up sludge pockets in no time.

A few years ago, after paying $600.00 to have my sewer jet rodded by another sewer company I thought of a way to clean up the blockage with a hose, a six-inch brass nozzle and a hundred feet of flat steel.  I’ve been able to keep my sewer clear of blocks since.  It just takes longer than a jet rodder.

A week or so ago I got out my hose and flat steel rod and tried to clear the block.  For some reason, about 25 feet into the sewer the nozzle refused to go any farther.  I think there is a lip that prevents the nozzle from moving forward.  No matter how many times I pulled the hose back and shoved it forward it would stop at the same place.  I marked the place with a piece of tape.

The flat rod was given me terminal gas.  I usually zip tie it to the hose but the ties would loosen and slip down allowing the hose to bend and making it difficult to push forward.  The hose I was using is a rubber hose of 5/8 of an inch diameter.  The flat rod is only 1/2″.   I cut off about 30 feet off the 100 feet and by straightening the hose I was able to push the flat rod into the hose and making it one integral unit.  Worked well except it still got stuck at the same location as before.

I tried to think of some way and some attachment that would allow the hose and brass nozzle to slip easily through the sewer.  I came up with a cylindrical pool float called a “noodle.”  I secured it with zip ties and two hose clamps.  I also added a short piece of flexible hose over the water hose and brass nozzle so it would be tighter in the float.

The above pictures show the apparatus.  I couldn’t see into the sewer of course so I had to work blind and just listen to the water coming out of the brass nozzle.  If I heard a strong stream of water I knew the sewer to be clear to that point.  If the noise diminished or disappeared when it was submerged I knew there was a blockage.

By slowly moving the hose back and forth I think I was able to free the sludge build up.  The problem is in the city’s sewer line in the parkway.  The last time an inspector was out he said it wasn’t bad enough for the city to fix.  I guess I’m stuck until it gets much worse.

Just so this isn’t all about sewer backups and equipment I’ll post a few seasonal tree pictures.

Breakfast With The Doctor

Snow flurries were falling as I drove south on I294 to meet Dr. Mike for breakfast.  I had made arrangements to meet him in Darien, Illinois at a restaurant called Blueberry Hill.  I had never eaten there before but in searching for a restaurant in the southwest suburbs of Chicago I happened upon the Blueberry Hill Breakfast Cafe.  It turned out that they served breakfast and lunch then closed at 3:00 P.M.

It was located in a strip mall, one of many throughout the United States, on Route 83 and 75th Avenue.  It was a large location taking about three normal sized stores in a strip mall.

I arrived early thinking it would take longer if there was any lingering morning rush hour traffic.  I sailed down going above the speed limit in order to keep up with traffic.  I arrived a half hour early.

The time went quickly and Dr. Mike arrived just a few minutes late due to the first measurable snowfall we’ve had.  There wasn’t much in Darien but further east and in Chicago the snowfall played havoc with the morning rush.

I hadn’t seen Dr. Mike since his retirement and I had a gift for him that I bought just before his retirement earlier this year.  He’s still a young man, at least younger than me.  At sixty-two he had reached burnout state.  It’s not easy being in family practice.  For years he worked long hours in his office and then again at home.  His phone always disturbing his peace with patients concerns.

A good doctor works well beyond forty hours.  There are very few doctors that work alone in private practice.  The exigencies of the medical profession require that a practice pool the load, expenses, and hazards.  The government, with Medicaid and Medicare patients, have set guidelines as to the amount of time spent on seeing patients, usually about 15 minutes,  and the owners of the practice require profits—the bigger the better.  That usually means getting patients in and out as quickly as possible.  No time to chat.

Dr. Mike didn’t work that way, he liked to chat, to get to know his patients and become involved in their life and well being.  Dr. Mike would talk about sports, which he likes, if the patient wanted to talk about sports; he was more than happy to talk sports with them.

Still, beyond that, he was an excellent doctor.  How do I know?  I’ve was never one of his patients but I had witnessed his caring for people when he took time to talk to a woman, a stranger, he just happened to talk to while we were together on a vacation.  He patiently listened and gave her doctoral advice.  I knew then how he would be in his office talking to his patient about their worries.

It was a pleasant breakfast with good food and good conversation.

Today is Veteran’s Day.  A day set aside to honor those who served in our armed forces.  I guess people were forgetting the original observation of today as the end of the First World War.  It was 11:00 A.M. on the 11th Of November, 1918.  There aren’t any veterans alive from that war.  The veterans of World War II and the Korean War are dying at an alarming rate.  Today, only 1/10 of 1% of the population of the United States serve in the military.  Most of them serve with honor and distinction and often act in a heroic manner.

Yesterday was the Marine Corps’ birthday, 242 years old.  Today is Veteran’s Day.  Hoorah to all who served.  I’m a little disappointed that no one said happy Veteran’s Day to me or Happy Birthday yesterday.  Although people who weren’t in the Marines would not know that it was the Marine Corps birthday.

I consider Dr. Mike to number one of the heroes for the service he provided to his community in such an honorable manner.  The medical profession suffered a great loss when Dr. Mike retired.  I’m glad to know you, Dr. Mike.  Enjoy retirement and long life to you.

It’s Gotten Disgusting Now

Let me just do a copy and paste and call it my blog for tonight.  Although the elections held yesterday in various places in this country was good news for the righteous—I mean Democrats—I still don’t feel sanguine about the future of the United States of America.

A report that a video journalist/commentator had that Trump supporters in Pennsylvania think that their hero, Trump is doing well and getting his agenda through Congress left me speechless and shaking my head.  Then on commondreams.org comes this article which I copied and will paste now.

"A century ago, a similar anti-inequality upsurge took on America's vastly unequal distribution of income and wealth and, over the course of little more than a generation, fashioned a much more equal America," write Chuck Collins and Josh Hoxie. (Image: Institute for Policy Studies)“A century ago, a similar anti-inequality upsurge took on America’s vastly unequal distribution of income and wealth and, over the course of little more than a generation, fashioned a much more equal America,” write Chuck Collins and Josh Hoxie. (Image: Institute for Policy Studies)

In the United States, the 400 richest individuals now own more wealth than the bottom 64 percent of the population and the three richest own more wealth than the bottom 50 percent, while pervasive poverty means one in five households have zero or negative net worth.

“All combined, households in the bottom one percent have a combined negative net worth of $196 billion.”
Billionaire Bonanza

Those are just several of the striking findings of Billionaire Bonanza 2017, a new report (pdf) published Wednesday by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) that explores in detail the speed with which the U.S. is becoming “a hereditary aristocracy of wealth and power.”

“Over recent decades, an incredibly disproportionate share of America’s income and wealth gains has flowed to the top of our economic spectrum. At the tip of that top sit the nation’s richest 400 individuals, a group that Forbes magazine has been tracking annually since 1982,” write IPS’s Chuck Collins and Josh Hoxie, the report’s authors. “Americans at the other end of our economic spectrum, meanwhile, watch their wages stagnate and savings dwindle.”

Collins and Hoxie are quick to note that the vast gulf that currently exists between the rich and everyone else is not the product of some inexplicable “natural phenomenon.” It is, rather, the result of “unfair economic policies that benefit those at the top at the expense of those at  the bottom.”

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Based on data recently made public by the Forbes 400 list and the Federal Reserve’s annual “Survey of Consumer Finances,” Billionaire Bonanza examines in detail the principal beneficiaries of America’s “deeply unbalanced economy”: the mega-rich.

“The wealthiest 25 individuals in the United States today own $1 trillion in combined assets,” the report notes. “These 25, a group equivalent to the active roster of a major league baseball team, hold more wealth than the bottom 56 percent of the U.S. population combined, 178 million people.”

The top 25 list features billionaires who have attained their vast riches through a variety of means, from inheritance to investing to founding a corporate giant like Amazon or Google. What unites these enormously wealthy individuals—aside from the fact that they are all white—is that they just keep getting richer, decade after decade.

Average Americans, by contrast, have not fared nearly as well: a significant percentage of the U.S. households “have no savings at all or owe more than they own,” making them residents of what Collins and Hoxie term “Underwater Nation.”

“Excluding the value of the family car, 19 percent of U.S. households have zero or negative net worth,” the report notes. “Looking at this trend through the lens of race reveals that 30 percent of black households and 27 percent of Latino households have zero or negative wealth.”

In order to get a broader sense of the size of the chasm between rich and poor in the U.S., Collins and Hoxie place the net worth of the top one percent and the bottom one percent side by side.

“The wealthiest 25 individuals in the United States today hold more wealth than the bottom 56 percent of the U.S. population combined, 178 million people.”“All combined, households in the bottom one percent have a combined negative net worth of $196 billion,” the report finds. “For comparison, the top one percent, a category holding the exact same number of people, have positive $33.4 trillion in combined net worth.”

Even mainstream institutions like the International Monetary Fund have acknowledged that such vast disparities of wealth and income are not sustainable, politically or economically. But as Billionaire Bonanza notes, the Trump administration—with the help of the GOP-controlled Congress—appears bent on making these disparities worse by slashing taxes for the wealthy while gutting programs that primarily benefit low-income and middle class Americans.

So the first priority, Collins and Hoxie note, is to “reject tax and other federal policies that will add oil to the inequality fire.”

In terms of going on the offensive once the “do no harm” principle is observed, the report makes several suggestions, including:

  • Enacting higher marginal tax rates on individuals earning above $250,000 and $1 million;
  • “Addressing the problem of hidden wealth,” which often leads to an underestimation of the level of wealth inequality;
  • Instituting a tax on Wall Street financial transactions, which could bring in an estimated $350 billion in federal revenue over a decade;
  • Eliminate the carried interest loophole, which allows hedge fund managers to “reclassify wage income as capital income” and pay less in taxes as a result; and
  • Bolstering, rather than eliminating, the estate tax, which only affects a tiny number families.

As “the elite ranks of our billionaire class continue to pull apart from the rest of us,” the report notes, many Americans—including students saddled with loan debt, workers suffering from stagnant wages, and families who have seen “their wealth and savings evaporate”—are revolting against the system that allowed the richest to accumulate such wealth at the expense of so many.

“A century ago, a similar anti-inequality upsurge took on America’s vastly unequal distribution of income and wealth and, over the course of little more than a generation, fashioned a much more equal America,” Collins and Hoxie conclude. “We can do the same.”*

This article was written by Jake Johnson a staff writer at Common Dreams.  I hope you’re just as incensed as I was to read about the greed of the 1%.

  • This emphasis is mine.

Then They Came For Me

In yesterday’s blog I said I would write on the exhibit I saw on Saturday at the Alphawood Gallery called “Then they came for me.”  Those words come from Martin Niemoller, a Protestant pastor (1892-1984).  He was an early critic of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party and spoke out against them.  Consequently, he spent the last seven years of the Third Reich’s reign in concentration camps.  Most people, I’m sure, have heard the words before.  Still, I think in this period of hatred of minorities and immigrants it is well we remember his words.

 “First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me.”

 

The above video is from youtube.com and introduces the exhibit at the Alphawood Gallery.  It is there only until the 19th of November.

Those faces, strange to Whites, were the faces of the enemy even though many of them were born in the United States and therefore citizens of this country.  That makes no difference in the face of fear, greed, and ignorance of the United State’s  Constitution.

Due process was forgotten and 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry were told to either move away from the United State’s west coast states inland or face incarceration in concentration camps.  They were given from a week or for some only a few days or a single day to be prepared to move.

The Supreme Court during those war years held that Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 was constitutional.  Although a suit against Fred Korematsu who failed to report for relocation.  On appeal to the Supreme Court Korematsu lost for the final time when in a 6-3 decision it upheld the constitutionality of EO 9066.

Then in “1982, a congressional commission concluded that the internment of Japanese-Americans was “a grave injustice” animated by “race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership.” It added that “the decision in Korematsu lies overruled in the court of history.”

Korematsu has refused a pardon claiming he did nothing wrong.  Korematsu’s verdict was vacated.  But the conclusion of the 1944 Supreme Court’s decision still stands.  In times of crisis, it is sometimes necessary to waive individuals right for the greater good.

Adam Liptak on January 27, 2014 wrote: “In his dissent in the 1944 Korematsu decision, Justice Robert H. Jackson wrote that the Supreme Court ‘for all time has validated the principle of racial discrimination in criminal procedure and of transplanting American citizens.

“The principle then lies about like a loaded weapon, ready for the hand of any authority that can bring forward a plausible claim of an urgent need,’ he added.”

When the sitting president says of New-Nazis, “there were good people” on both sides of the protest.  And trying to institute a Muslim travel ban we, all of us, have to be vigilant in ensuring that the Constitution is defended against fascist assaults.

So what do I think of the exhibit.  Oorah!

For additional information and video go to the Alphawood website at:

http://www.alphawoodgallery.org/exhibition/

A Semi-Shocking Event

Yesterday I went to see an exhibit of Japanese-American internment during the Second World War.   It was held at the Alphawood Galleries and sponsored by the Alphawood Foundation.  They are located at the corners of Fullerton and Halsted, 2401 N. Halsted.  It’s a multi-media presentation with videos, photos, speakers, tours, and includes a room where one can tell their story.

I’m not sure if the stories they want to collect are general in nature or confined to the stories of those that were interned in the ten camps and several Federal Justice camps.  I’ll have more to say about the exhibit and my thoughts about it another day.  Today I want to tell you my experience with a CTA park and ride site located at Kimball and Lawerence Avenues.

The area around Fullerton and Halsted is very congested.so I decided to drive to the park and ride site.  I parked in the lot and went to the two machines located near the entrance to the lot.  Being Saturday the lot had many spaces.  The machine, like most computer/phone screens, get washed out in light, even on a cloudy day they are hard to read especially those two for the parking lot.

I put a credit card in the slot since I didn’t know if the machine gave change for a ten.  The charge is $5.00 until 11:30 something last night.  That was the weekend rate.  I tried to follow the instructions but was having a hard time seeing them.  By the time I pressed a few buttons I wondered when I was to enter the space’s number.  I had parked in space #1414.  While I was wondering I noticed that the screen indicated that it was printing a receipt.

Having not put in the space number I wondered why it would print a receipt without it.  When I got the receipt out of the bottom of the machine I saw that the space number was 5.  There is no space #5.  Still, I had a paid receipt so I went back to my car and decided to put my car in space #1415.  At least there was one of the numbers listed on the receipt.  I left it on the dashboard.

I went to the terminal of the Brown Line El and boarded the train waiting there.  I made it to Fullerton and Halsted without incident.  I did remark about all the attractive young people that were walking purposefully up and down Halsted.  In my neighborhood, there are old people with dogs, younger people with children, and young adults.  I’m not saying they are unattractive—but there aren’t many people walking about and they aren’t as attractive as the young people I saw there.

Jumping ahead when I got off the Brown Line El at Kimball and walked to the parking lot.  I looked for my car but it wasn’t there.  I saw the Suburban parked where I had parked next to.  I thought of car thieves taking my car and its contents.  I considered calling the police to at least file a stolen car report.

I walked to where the machines were and I noticed a warning sign saying that illegally parked cars would be towed by A-1 Towing Company.  There was a phone number.  I knew then what had happened.  I called the number listed and asked whether or not they had towed my Sleek Blue Beauty.

After a few minutes, the voice said yes and it would cost $200.00 cash or credit to get it back.  My care held hostage and me at the CTA Terminal.  I asked if they hadn’t seen the paid receipt.  The voice said, “let me explain as simply as I can.”   “You were parked in space #415 and the receipt said #5”

I responded that there was no #5.  He shot back, “that doesn’t matter.”  At the point, I started to laugh at the ludicrousness of the whole conversation.  I asked him if they wore masks there.  He wasn’t pleased and I think he hung up then.

How to get to 2954 N California from 4800 North on Kimball.  I considered calling for a cab.  But then I decided to take the Brown Line to California.  While on the train I looked at the map showing stops and the closet would be Western Ave.

I got off at Western walked to California.  Down California to 2954.  There was my car.  I could see it sitting forlornly in the lot.  I tried pushing to heavy duty chain link gate.  It was locked.  I looked to my right there was an intercom.  I pushed the button.  A garbled voice answered with something.  I said I was there to collect my car.

$200.00 cash or credit and a driver’s license said the voice clearly this time.  I place both in a security drawer under a blacked-out window and pushed it in.  I heard metal slamming.  The “voice” said to sign the receipt.  The drawer slid out, opened a tiny clipboard with a pen attached to a retractable cord.  I signed the receipt and pushed the drawer back in.

The “voice” said to push in the gate drive to the exit and the gate would open.  “Have a nice day,” said the voice.  There wasn’t a human being visible anywhere.  I’m sure the blacked-out window was bulletproof.  I wonder why there aren’t explosives and shootings at towing company yards instead of workplaces?

For all the good it would do I shall contact my Alderman, John Arena and ask him why a number is printed on the receipt when a number isn’t entered and also why the stall numbers are off to the side of the stall lines making it difficult to determine which number is for what stall.  If the number is present at all.

It seems to me that many things make it certain that you’ll have to pay $200.00 or more to retrieve your car should you not enter the exact stall number when you should enter it.  The parking machines on the street don’t ask for location numbers just a paid receipt on one’s dash is sufficient.

In the park and ride facility at Cumberland and the Kennedy, which I’ve used many times.  You get a ticket when you drive in and pay at machines before you drive out.  When you drive out you insert the paid ticket into a machine that opens the gate.

Like so many things in this city: it smells like a scam.  Why do we have to pay for parking in a city lot?  Or need permits or pay for parking on city streets?  Perhaps if we didn’t have to pay out $44+ millions for wrongful shooting injury and other unnecessary things we’d have enough not to charge citizens of this city for parking.

Tax Cuts, Gerrymandering, And Voter Suppression By Republicans

From commondreams.org I copied the following statement by Bernie Sanders.

“Sanders concluded (a) debate by calling on Americans to resist attempts by Cruz, President Donald Trump, and the Republican Party to ‘give $1.9 trillion in tax breaks to the top one percent” and “throw 15 million people off of Medicaid, cut Medicare by over $450 billion, cut Pell Grants, [and] cut programs like the Women, Infant, and Children program.

“‘I do not believe that America is about giving tax breaks to the very, very wealthy and cutting life-and-death programs for working families. This Trump Republican tax proposal is a disaster,’ Sanders concluded. ‘And the American people have got to stand up. And together we are going to defeat that awful proposal. Thank you very much.'”

And from Mother Jones an article about voter suppression.

On election night, some pundits were “shocked to see Trump carry Wisconsin by nearly 23,000 votes. The state, which ranked second in the nation in voter participation in 2008 and 2012, saw its lowest turnout since 2000. More than half the state’s decline in turnout occurred in Milwaukee, which Clinton carried by a 77-18 margin, but where almost 41,000 fewer people voted in 2016 than in 2012. Turnout fell only slightly in white middle-class areas of the city but plunged in black ones. In Anthony’s old district, where aging houses on quiet tree-lined streets are interspersed with boarded-up buildings and vacant lots, turnout dropped by 23 percent from 2012. This is where Clinton lost the state and, with it, the larger narrative about the election.”

Another reason for Republican’s winning is gerrymandering.  Gerrymandering is when the party in power is able to redraw lines of districts to have a majority in the districts of their party.  It’s something that Democrats have done but for the most part, it is a tactic of the Republican party.  These districts look, unlike anything that a reasonable person would approve of as boundaries of districts.

And finally from commondreams.org again is a poster from Elizabeth Warren about the Republican plan to cut taxes for the 1%—here it is.  There is an update though—if the ceiling on taxpayers contributions to their 401K is lowered the National Debt will increase to over $2.5 billion.  Some pundits think that many Republicans need to have a win to show their base they are doing something and will vote to pass anything even if it will hurt their own constituents.  So much for Republicans and their oaths.  Party before the welfare of America.  So much for the flag waving, God fearing party.

 

John Donne/Picture Window

I’m sure John Donne is kicking and screaming as I drag his name and one of his poem from a sadly forgotten past to the present.  Born in 1572 John Donne became the Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, in London, England from 1621-1631.  This is one of his most famous poems.  I’m sure parts of it are familiar to many people today.

“No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.”

                               MEDITATION XVII: Devotions upon Emergent Occasions
He was obviously being generous when he says “any man’s death diminishes me.”  I’m not that charitable.  I’ll just leave it at that.  I’ve written about how I feel about some people before.
Still, doing work by oneself makes one think about that first line, “no man is an island.”  There were times in my life—either in physical work or in emotional status that it was shown to me the truth in the statement “no man is an island, Entire of itself.”  We all need to be social.  We need to be “involved in mankind.”  We need to remember the first golden rule which is to treat others as you would have them treat you.
So speaking of needing help I post pictures of the picture window that is 99.9% complete.  I still have just a little caulking to do on the bottom of the trim and two filler pieces to install.

Trump Does It Again And Again

Trump became the first sitting president to address a group, Family Research Council, that the Southern Poverty Law Center designates as a hate group.  The FRC is one of the groups sponsoring the Values Voters Summit.  They, The SPLC, Tweeted:

In  speech speaking to anti-Muslim, anti-LGBT groups, Pres. Trump says he is proud to be among so many friends https://www.splcenter.org/values-voter-summit-whose-values 

Just when Trump has said and Tweeted that he finds NFL players disrespecting the flag and the National Anthem disgusting, he first stomps on the First Amendment by saying something should be done to censor the “false news” created by the press.  And now he embraces another hate group and trods on the rights of groups of people that have rights, the same rights as Christian bigots, that is guaranteed to all who reside in the United States of America by the Constitution.
Minorities have the same rights as Trump and his loyal band of haters, although they are too ignorant to understand that.
And to top it all off Trump has signified with an Executive Order that they will not pay the subsidies for ACA insurees.  Many of them are Republicans.  How do you like him now?  Or don’t you know what’s happening yet?  Will you have to die before it hits you?  I hope not.

 

My Oft Repeated Trump Rant

Every single day Trump’s actions cause outrage among those who aren’t among his ardent supporters—supporters who are unconscious of what is actually going on.  Today he intimated that aid to Puerto Rico just might be cut off.  FEMA, the military personnel, and first responders aren’t going to be there forever he warned.  Three weeks into this calamity he is threatening over three million Americans—Americans of color.  He says the Puerto Rican infrastructure was bad, to begin with, and unspoken was the conclusion that they deserve what they got.

Trump isn’t getting good press for the “fake news.”  He seems to need constant ego stroking from sycophants like Sean Hannity of FOX.  With an audience of Trump’s supporters, there was an ass kissing session by Trump and Hannity.  It was almost as nauseating at Reince Priebus’, the ousted Chief-Of-Staff, ass licking during a cabinet joint session of one-upmanship in who could be the champion ass kisser of the Trump administration.

Trump’s lies have reached Olympian heights to around 1,700 pants on fire lies.  And still, his supporters love him.  What does it say about all of them—those 32% of Americans who excuse every blunder, every lie, every transgression on the U.S. Constitution?

To all of them who have signs—now probably bronzed and hanging from their rearview mirrors—”lock her up,” “Benghazi,” Vince Foster, White Water, and e-mails, they will never be able to see the truth.   I hope there is a racist section of hell waiting to hold you as you explain why, as Christians and loyal Americans you did the exact opposite of the beliefs of both.

A few more Republicans are coming out against Trump.  Not hardly enough though.  So worried are they about donations and elections.  The good of the people gets lost as the good of their campaign funds become paramount in importance.

 

Window Talk

It’s been almost a year since I’ve talked about installing a window.  Last year it was two for the living room.  This year it was the picture window that sits in between the two I put in last year.  It’s configured in a kind of bay with the picture window facing west and the two sides windows at an angle to the picture window.

This was naturally the heaviest of the windows since it’s the biggest.  I order a Pella window instead of the Jeld-Wens I have been putting in.  Pella had the closest window size to what I needed.  Unfortunately, although the color chart showed that it was a close match to the Jeld-Wen, it’s not.  The new window is altogether a different shade of beige.

When it comes to paint and home decor colors aren’t white or beige.  Whites run from brilliant white to ivory and beige includes taupe and into sand.  Very confusing.  Yet I suppose in the American Victorian period there were many colorful houses across the United States.

A brief history of modern paints I found on Franklin Painting’s website in a blog by Frank Campanelli.  He writes:

“In 1866 the first company to produce ready-to-use paint was formed, Sherwin-Williams. Harry Sherwin, Alanson Osborn and Edward Williams formed Sherwin, Williams, & Co. in Cleveland, Ohio. Henry Sherwin later developed a tin can that consumers could reseal. In 1883, a competition that continues today started when Benjamin Moore began operations. The company put much emphasis on the chemistry to improve the color mixing and production throughout the twentieth century and were the first to design the computer based color-matching system that we all are accustomed to back in 1982.”

At the neighborhood ACE Hardware, I go to they don’t have a computer to read samples you bring in hoping to match colors.  They still have hundreds of color strips with different shades of some color.  After looking at a handful of strips I start seeing all of the colors looking the same.  It’s the same when I go for an eye test and the optometrist asks whether I can see better looking through this lens or this other lens as he or she flips through different variations of, what to me, looks all the same.

Wouldn’t it make more sense if you’re handed a card with different size printing on it and with different lenses you try to see the smallest print you can clearly read?  Then you look at photos representing different distances and you try to see what is the farthest you can see.  I’m sure there is some method in the madness they call an eye examination.  Still, I don’t see it.

Getting back to windows though, all the other eleven windows I changed I’ve done them myself.  But this one I couldn’t fit in my car or any other vehicle that relatives and friends have.  I had them deliver it.   At 5.2′ X 6′ and weighing over a hundred pounds I knew I needed help.  Well, actually I thought I could do it myself.  But trying to lift the unwieldy and heavy window I knew I’d be better off with help.  I didn’t want the window falling out of the opening.

That almost happened.  By the time I was ready to lift the window into the opening the only one around was the neighbor’s son.  He’s a teenager who has become a tall young adult.  He was off yesterday for Columbus Day.  (As an aside, I don’t think we should celebrate the birthday of a sex trafficker/slave trader and all around nasty man.)  He, Justin, gladly came over and we lifted the window into the opening.  I put one three inch screw through each side the wood frame into the opening’s frame.  I thanked Justin and he left without taking any money I offered him.  I should have let him help me more.  Old dogs with new tricks?

I still had to position the window in the opening in the correct position—level on each side.  I unscrewed the two side screws but still had three screws fastened on the bottom.  As soon as I did the window tilted from the top and was falling out heading for the ladder outside.

I thought for sure it would hit the ladder and do a Humpty Dumpty on me.  I grabbed the screw on the left side that I was closest to and managed to stop its fall.  I had to reach for the driver on the floor to screw in the side to prevent it from falling again.  I did reach the electric driver and somehow was able to drive the screw into the side frame.  The only damage was a small gouge out of the window frame, hardly noticeable.

I called my brother-in-law, Peter and after a time he came and we positioned the window in the opening in the correct position.  It just showed that there are times when an extra pair of hands or four is good to have if not absolutely necessary.

Later, I’ll post pictures of my window like Millenials post pictures of their food.

 

 

Veterans Administration Health Care

Yesterday I left my tutoring students about forty minutes early and drove from Skokie, a north side suburb, and went to Hines, Illinois.  Any search of Hines, Illinois will return a patch of Cook County just west of Chicago and south of Maywood, Illinois.  Hines, Illinois is bounded by First and Ninth Avenues on the east and west.  Roosevelt Road on the North and Center Drive that runs from south-east to north-west.

If it wasn’t for the Veterans Administration Hospital, Called Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital there most likely would not be a Hines, Illinois.  Hines Hospital shares the plot of land with Loyola University’s  Medical Center adjacent to First Avenue.

There were stories, I wonder how many were apocryphal, about how bad Hines Hospital was.  Patients left in elevators for days or perhaps it was only just hours.  I heard horror stories about the poor quality of care given veterans there.  But since those days there has been investigations and shakeups of management.  Is it better today?

I can’t answer that question since I don’t know.  I have no way of evaluating what went on before and how it is now.  I don’t know how it was before.  And I haven’t had that much experience with their care now.  I’ve been there several times.  First to register and another time to get a flu shot and join their “Million Veteran Program.”  That’s a long-term study on veteran’s care.

Yesterday was the first time I went there for medical care.  My doctor retired.  I thought I would stay with the practice and just transfer to another doctor in the practice.  My current health insurance is a Blue Cross/Blue Shield Medicare Advantage plan.  I’ll admit I don’t know too much about the plan.  Still, what I do know is that they are cheap.  Oh, not the premiums but how they approach medicine.  If a medication is expensive they require a yearly pre-authorization.  I started receiving notices from Express Scripts, my prescription provider, that said that my doctor or I had to call to beg to be kept on that expensive medication.

Previously, my doctor would call and have a hard time.  In frustration, he would demand to speak to a doctor to have, vis a vis, a doctor to doctor talk.  It would be approved.  I called and even e-mailed the physician’s assistant and asked that they call.  I figured I’d have little chance of getting approval from an insurance company.

Dire warning of a fifteen-day limit was communicated by snail mail.  That has long been past.  I have yet to hear from my new doctor, whom I’ve never met, or the physician’s assistant.  That’s the reason I bailed out and went to the VA.  I figured it couldn’t be much worse.

I was very much surprised and pleased with the efficiency, courtesy, and professionalism I found during my visit with my new primary care doctor.  I was scheduled for an hour visit.  It didn’t take that long.  My doctor is a woman.  She took her time and explained things asked questions about my health history.  I received an EKG for a baseline just in case I’m hospitalized and they need to see what was the condition of my heart before the emergency.  I got a tetanus, whooping cough, and some other disease shot: a three in one.  I had to get a blood test.  I am scheduled for an Agent Orange screening a week from Monday.  I got that screening’s lab work done and X-rays.  I don’t have to go to the lab again.

Checking in for an appointment or lab work is done by touchscreen.  You answer a few questions to establish your identity and the information that you are there is communicated to whoever is responsible to see who is there.  I DID NOT HAVE TO FILL OUT PAPER WORK.  All information is in the database.

I don’t know what happens in the event of a computer crash.  I don’t think I want to be there in that event.

I didn’t wait longer than a few minutes no matter where I was—waiting for the doctor or lab work.  I’m used to waiting for a while in the general waiting room or in an examination room.  As I walked in the halls hospital workers would smile and some would ask how I was.  I was welcomed into the VA system at least three times yesterday.

I know I shouldn’t be so sanguine this early but if only the care stays at the level that it was yesterday I am all in favor of this truly socialistic healthcare service.  Although I think because of my income my insurance will be billed by the VA.

Stayed tuned for more insights and update to come.

My Website Host/Las Vegas Massacre

Overall, I’m pleased with FatCow my web host.  Still, I’ve had a number of major problems with my website, jamesmats.com.  For the past few weeks, I’ve had problems with comments.  When a reader submits a comment I received an e-mail from WordPress the people that support the program that I use to blog on this website.  The e-mail asks me to moderate the comment.  Do I approve it, shall it be trashed or marked as spam.

The problem I’m having is that the comment doesn’t show up when I go to my website.  And the message is the comment ID is invalid.  That isn’t possible since I’ve received the comment and was asked to moderate.  It’s been days and I haven’t received a reply yet.

FatCow changed their support structure and it’s very difficult to send e-mails to them.  I’ve tried live chats but their heavy hitters aren’t on live chat.  I’d rather send an e-mail but it seems as if they’ve streamlined the path to end up in limbo.  Ah, computers and the cyber age.  The Russians can hack American’s website and change the course of our elections but I have trouble keeping my simple website blog up and running.

However, this is nothing in comparison to yesterday’s Las Vegas massacre.  I feel sorry for the victims and their families.  Civilians should not have to suffer the consequences of the gun lobbies relentless campaign at stifling any common sense gun control.  When will we ever learn?  When will police departments have some M14s with decent scopes in the trunks of some patrol car with qualified shooters to engage active shooters, trucks driving on sidewalks and other crazies?  Did it take more than a few minutes to see that gunfire was coming out of two blown out windows in a high-rise hotel?  Flash suppressors aren’t that effective that you can’t see flames from all those rounds he fired.

As much money that is spent in militarizing police forces you’d think there would be some state of the art response equipment on the street in these days of terrorists.  How does someone check into a hotel with ten or eleven rifles without arousing suspicion?  Did Paddock have a bellboy carry his bags to his room?

Still, if the killing 20 five and six-year-olds and 6 adults didn’t convince our myopic Congressional creatures to do something nothing will.  Now 59, so far, and 200-500, depending on who you hear, wounded will be just another statistic.  I’m saying this as a person who likes to shoot, at targets and still believes that we need to keep guns out of the hands of the stupid, mentally unbalanced, and others that shouldn’t have and have access to firearms.

Those that think the only Amendment that counts is the Second should learn the context and what it literally says.  It’s not about a yahoos right to have any kind of firearm they wish but to have a “well-regulated militia.”  And I don’t mean those Bundy Militia crazies that think they are a nation unto themselves.

We’ve been here so many times.  I don’t see any hope as long as there are the ignorant right wing, flag waving, racists, neo-nazis, K.K.K. members and  Southerners still fighting the Civil War.  I almost swore there.

 

More On The 1% And Other Thoughts

First, a minuscule rant to get the juices flowing. This is a summary of the Tax Policy Institute, a bi-partisan analysis of the Trump unveiled tax plan.  Trump calls it a tax cut.  He states it will not be for him or other rich people, “believe” him.  Not as far as I can throw a ton of similar shit.

“ABSTRACT

The Tax Policy Center has produced preliminary estimates of the potential impact proposals included in the “Unified Framework for Fixing our Broken Tax Code.” We find they would reduce federal revenue by $2.4 trillion over ten years and $3.2 trillion over the second decade (not including any dynamic feedback). In 2018, all income groups would see their average taxes fall, but some taxpayers in each group would face tax increases. Those with the very highest incomes would receive the biggest tax cuts. The tax cuts are smaller as a percentage of income in 2027, and taxpayers in the 80th to 95th income percentiles would, on average, experience a tax increase.”

I have heard apologists for the Republican party trying to make the case that both Democrats and Republicans want, for the most part, the same things.  I wouldn’t disagree with that statement.  However, the 1% of the rich don’t have the same dreams as the rest of the Americans.  They want it all without leaving even scraps for the rest of the 99%.

As Stephen King said Trump (and, I say,  the rest of the 1%) “couldn’t give shit one about you.  He said that when addressing workers.  The dupes that vote for the people that carry out the wishes of the 1% are like the rest of us.  Perhaps they are more bigoted and a lot more ignorant of reality than the rest of us.

How is it possible that there are people who think blacks protesting against police brutality while dealing with blacks are being disrespectful of the flag and the National Anthem.  I’ve become very wary of people that wrap themselves in patriotism, wave the flag, and accuse others of being unpatriotic while believing in denying others their constitutional rights.

Look at who won the Republican primary in Alabamastan.  Judge Moore who is all of the things wrong with Republicans.  You name it, liberal thinking and science mostly, he’s against it.  Except God, I think it’s the Old Testament God he worships too.  He can’t have read the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament.  Most Republicans and quite a few Democrats too, see nothing wrong in the melding of church and state.

Personally, I would hate to live in a country run by a national church that believed in the fundamental nature of its dogma.  Fundamentalists in America are always trying to get schools to teach creation science which isn’t a science.  I think they’d be happy if all science weren’t taught at all.

Republicans are always upset with Muslims and saying that there are communities in the United States Of America that practice Sharia Law.  Isn’t what they believe as rigid and nonsensical as Sharia Law?

Okay!  This has turned into a full-blown rant.  It’s a case of don’t get me started.  I could go on but I’d have to take another high blood pressure pill.  In case you don’t follow Stephen King on Twitter here are a few more directed at Trump

 

“With President Forrest Trump, every day is like a rancid box of chocolates. You never know what kind of shit you’re going to get next.

            “Breaking News: Reliable sources reveal that Donald Trump is                      actually Cthulu. The absurd hairdo isn’t absurd at all.
              It hides the tentacles.

“My newest horror story: Once upon a time there was a man named Donald Trump, and he ran for president. Some people wanted him to win.

 

“Come on, chickenshit, if you’re man enough to drop a mega-bomb on Afghanistan, you should be man enough to release your tax returns.

“Donald Trump: There hasn’t been a novelty act this annoying since Alvin and the Chipmunks.”

 

No Whining?!

Complaining about the machinations of the president and the Republican Congress requires almost no effort.  It seems there is no end to the complaining I could do everyday here.  I would get very tedious to write and read I think.  Almost every day there is a new revelation of something despicable being done by the Federal Government—mostly by Trump and the Republican Congress, the highly politicized Supreme court, and Trump’s cabinet.

All the while Trump support among his base never wavers.  I think the oblivious nature of his base as to what is going on says more about the condition of our society, our culture than it says about the corrupt nature of our president, cabinet, and the Republican party.

The ignorance shown by the 32-34% of Trump’s base is astounding.  It makes all of those late night talk show’s segments meant to denigrate the “man” on the street and his ignorance seems as if they were nuclear physicists.

Just when I thought I wouldn’t complain, at least for one day, I find this blog full of complaints.  I don’t have any new pictures to throw in at this point so I’ll just end here and wish all those who are reading this a wonderful fall.  Enjoy the color if you can. Enjoy life if you can.  Embrace those you love while you can.  Just do it, whatever it is.

ObamaCare Faces Another Repeal/Trump Vs. Black NFL players

I would say “repeal and replace,” if the Republicans had anything that would replace the ACA.  What they have is another bill that would hurt many Americans by denying them the coverage of health care.  The Congressional Budget Office hasn’t had an opportunity to score this Cassidy-Graham middle finger to America’s middle class.  They have run into a shit storm from different people and organizations.

If you’re confused as to why the Senate Republicans have rolled out this sixty some attempt to repeal ObamaCare by Congress I’ll tell you what I’ve heard.  And what I’ve heard makes eminent sense to me.

I heard that Republican donors told Republican Congress creatures that they were upset at them for not being able to produce anything that they promised.  These donors weren’t interested in anything that would benefit the majority of Americans but only what would benefit them, the richest 1% in the form of tax cuts to the rich.  There’s another reason and that, in my opinion, is a very small reason.  They want to carry out their promise to repeal the ACA.

The reason I think it’s a very small fraction of their incentive is easily understood when you realize that the thing Republican Congress creatures need more than the people confidence in them is campaign donations.  The Republicans are always lying about the ACA and trying their best to handicap funding for it.  Why should they care if people think they are going back on their promise.

The majority of Americans like ObamaCare.  Or better the called the ACA since I’m sure there are still many Americans who don’t know that they are both the same thing.

And just to mention Trump’s calling out of work, Colin Kaepernick a “son-of-a-bitch.”  Trump was upset at Kaepernick’s “disrespect” of the American flag and Anthem.  Kaepernick was protesting civil injustice during a 2016 NFL game when he and another player “took a knee” instead of standing with hand over heart.

I read that supposedly Kaepernick’s mother responded: “I guess that makes me a proud bitch.”  Kaepernick was exercising his First Amendment rights of Freedom Of Speech.  If money can be speech then kneeling during the National Anthem is also speech.  Also, I think it hypocritical that Trump a 5 deferment to avoid being drafted pretending to be a patriot.  It’s funny in all the photos from that period Trump never seemed to have any problems with a bone spur in his foot.  And as far as I know, he never had any corrective surgery either.

So far only the NFL commissioner has defended the players and commented on Trump’s lack of understanding.  NFL owners, many of whom donated a million dollars to Trump, will not say anything.  I know why.  They expect something from the Republican branches of government that equal money for them.

Incident In Idaho

“My heart is in pieces right now…my soul feels like it’s ripping from my chest…this beautiful young man my son Jackson has to endure a constant barrage of derogatory comments and ignorance like I’ve never witnessed. He is called ugly and freak and monster on a daily basis by his peers at school. He talks about suicide…he’s not quite 8! He says he has no friends and everyone hates him. Kids throw rocks at him and push him shouting these horrific words…please please take a minute and imagine if this were your child. Take a minute to educate your children about special needs. Talk to them about compassion and love for our fellow man. His condition is called Treacher Collins. Maybe even look it up. He’s endured horrific surgery and has several more in the coming years. Anyway…I could go on…but please educate your children. Please…share this. This shouldn’t be happening…to anyone.”

Not knowing what to do when his ex-wife called and told him the because of bullying their son, Jackson Bezzant wanted to wear a hockey mask to school and was talking about killing himself, Dan took to FaceBook, probably in desperation.  Dan and Kelley live in Ammon, Idaho a good place to have social media.  His post went viral and because of it came the support of strangers and neighbors, Jackson now has some joy in his life.

Jackson has Treacher Collins syndrome.  That is a genetic disease that affects bones and tissue development of the face.  Treacher Collins syndrome results in the jaws and chins being small.  Added to that are misshapen ears and eyes that slant downwards.  Jackson was also born without cheekbones.  At 13 months he underwent facial reconstruction.

I’ve seen individuals with this syndrome although I didn’t have a name to put on the malady.  I learned the details of jackson’s story in today’s Washington Post article by Ellie Silverman.  The first two paragraphs drew me into the story.  It read:

“School bullies threw rocks at their young child, while calling him a monster, a freak and telling him he was ugly — all because he has a condition that causes him to look and sound different.

Seven-year-old Jackson Bezzant’s self-esteem dropped so much that he wanted to wear a mask to school to cover his face and he talked about killing himself. His parents, Dan and Kelley Bezzant, a divorced couple who live in Ammon, Idaho, didn’t know what to do to stop the bullying.”

The article quotes Dan as saying he hopes people get the message about bullying.  I can only hope but I don’t hold out much hope in today’s climate of bullying being accepted by a third of our population.  Yes, I’m talking about the people who voted for and still think Trump is a wonderful president and give tacit approval to his actions.

I’ve called him, Trump a bully and there is ample evidence of that being true.  I’ve said in several blogs about bullying how I feel about it and the people who do it.  Bullying is not instinctual but a learned behavior, at least I believe that.  Bullying in peer groups can be seen as unifying but I think only through fear.  We should be taught how to behave in the society, without discord, with others.  If there are aberrant behaviors in some I think it was learned—usually, it’s in the home.

I think the Ammon, Idaho school system let down Jackson and so did all of the parents of those bullies.  The others that went along with the bullies are just as guilty co-conspirators and probably they were too afraid to stand up for the bullied boy.

Still, I’m glad that circumstances worked for Jackson and his parents.  Silverman closes the article with the following:

“Despite his newfound confidence, Jackson told his mother he still didn’t want to go to school this week. He had not been back since last Thursday’s Facebook post and he was nervous.

Even so, he went. Jackson’s teacher told Kelley that all the children were kind to him and by the time he came home, Kelley said, Jackson seemed happy.

When Kelley asked Jackson how school was, he replied: “At recess, I had 165 friends.”

His parents make no claim that Jackson’s difficulties are over. But for the moment, they say, he is filled with pride.”

Here’s a photo I cribbed from the Post.

Toys brought to him by neighbor boys whose mother saw Dan’s FB post.

Oorah Jackson.  Live long and prosper.

Rod Blagojevich Was Found Guilty And He And His Family Refuse To Accept It

Yesterday, on the local NBC affiliate here in Chicago, Phil Rodgers hosted a half hour show with a recorded phone conversation from the federal prison Rod Blagojevich is serving his 14-year sentence at.  He has completed five years.  Prison authorities refused direct contact with Blagojevich with or without cameras.

Today I picked up at the professional building adjacent to Resurrection Hospital, now Presence Hospital and soon to have another name change, a copy of the latest Chicago Magazine.  Free.

I suppose in looking for new subscribers free copies are left in various locations in the hope someone will subscribe to the magazine.  This month’s cover didn’t have some sexy celebrity, neither male or female.  It had a white-haired and smiling Rod Blagojevich in prison blues.  Rod had to rent a camera from the prison’s exchange and have someone take his picture that he could send to whoever might want one.

I haven’t read the article which appears to be fairly long.  I will get around to it sooner or later.  It will be, I’m sure more of the same “I didn’t do anything wrong.”  The prosecutors were out to destroy me, defense that he has espoused since the beginning of his troubles.

A little over seven years ago In June of 2010, I reported to the Dirksen Federal Building that began a two-month trial of former governor Rod Blagojevich and his brother, Rob Blagojevich.  Unfortunately, that trial ended with a hung jury because one of the jurors who had worked in government offices most of her life decided early on in the trial that Rod was not guilty.  I found that out after the trial from another juror that was told that in their conversations sometime during the early part of the trial.

Her rationale was that all politicians talk the way Rod did.  Although we tried on numerous occasions to show the juror where Rod crossed the line in taped phone conversations we weren’t able to sway her.  We did unanimously find Rod guilty of one count of lying to the FBI during their investigations.

We failed to convict Blagojevich on the majority of the felony counts about 25 counts.  Like most people I had watch Blagojevich on his national tour which he tried to taint the jury pool into believing that he did nothing wrong.  Without any evidence, I thought him guilty.   But because I swore an oath to keep an open mind and judge only on the evidence presented in the courtroom—I did exactly that.

The federal prosecutors presented a case building it evidentiary brick by evidentiary brick that showed all of the reason why we, the twelve jurors, should find Blagojevich, and consequently his brother, Rob, guilty.  I found the evidence compelling.  I was for finding him guilty on all counts.

A few of the jurors weren’t so sure about all the counts.  I don’t see why they had reservations because to me it was easy to follow the case by phone tap recordings in Blagojevich’s own words.

Anyway, two years later he was found guilty of a slimmed down tighter case and Judge Zagel sentence Blagojevich to 14 years.  With one year off for enrolling in an addictive personality course and one year off for good behavior, it would be 12 years.

Still, Blagojevich is sticking to his song—”I didn’t do anything wrong.”  He is just like our president in that he believes just what benefits him the most.  I don’t know if Trump will pardon Blagojevich but if he does and he accepts that pardon it will be an admission of guilt as the Supreme Court has ruled so many years ago.

There are so many people who believe that although Blagojevich may be guilty of felonies he didn’t deserve 14 years.  They, of course, don’t base their convictions on solid evidence, just their feelings.  I firmly believe for the way he conducted himself in the office of governor of the State Of Illinois—based on testimony from phone tap conversations and witness testimony, he deserved every bit, if not more, of 14 years.  Federal sentencing guidelines state he could have gotten 30 years for the charges against him.

I don’t think long sentences for crimes is a deterrent, even when Illinois had the death penalty, but some people truly deserve the sentences they receive.  And some people deserve the death penalty for the crimes they commit.  However, only in cases where there is concrete and irrefutable evidence to substantiate the crime was committed by the accused.  There have been too many cases of convicted felons found not guilty by additional information.

Open Letter To Harvey And Irma Survivors From A Katrina Survivor

I’ve ripped this entire article off from the Common Dreams website without their permission.  I think it important enough just in case someone might show it to a survivor in Texas and Florida and everywhere else these hurricanes caused damage.  I think it’s good advice from some who is knowledgeable and also a survivor of a devastating hurricane.

Published on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 by Common Dreams


Warning Letter to Harvey and Irma Survivors from Katrina Survivor

Above all, watch out for one another and care for one another by Bill Quigley

(Based on the experiences of those who lived through Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, Quigley offers victims of the latest mega-storms some warnings as they start to rebuild.)

Dear Fellow Hurricane Survivors:

Our hearts go out to you as you try to return to and fix your homes and lives.  Based on our experiences, here are a few things you should watch out for as you rebuild your communities.

One.  Rents are going to skyrocket and waves of evictions are likely.  With so many houses damaged and so many highly paid contractors coming into your region whose companies will pay anything to house them, landlords are going to start evicting people to make way for higher paying occupants.  Work with local organizations to enact a moratorium on evictions and a freeze on rents to allow working and low-income people to come home and have a place to stay.

Two.  Rip off contractors and vulture businesses are probably already on the scene. Don’t give money to anyone unless you know and trust them and do not pay for everything in advance!

Three.   Take pictures of everything that was damaged and hold onto all receipts for all your disaster expenses. Get a special binder and keep all your papers in it.  Sadly, the process of getting assistance is going to last for years for many people and you will need to prove what damage you.

Four.  Right after a disaster, there is an outpouring of compassion, support, and solidarity. Take what you need for your community.But realize the window of compassion and support shuts much quicker than it should.  Then people will start blaming the victims.

Five.  Insist on transparency, accountability, and participation in all public and private funding sources for disaster relief. The government is yours and ours.  We need them in times of disaster but they can also be the biggest obstacle to a just recovery. Demand they tell the public what is going on and consult with all parts of our communities, not just the rich and well connected usual suspects.  Same problems arise when dealing with the private relief organizations from the biggest private disaster relief organization to many other smaller groups.

Six.  Insist on telling your own story. Your truth is a jewel that shines brightest in your own hands. If you are going to work with journalists or others make sure the real truth is told, not just the sensational or heart rending stories of poor, powerless victims. You may have been victimized by the hurricane but you are a powerful survivor!

Seven.  Unless you are rich enough to try to go this alone, you have to join together with others to make your voice heard. Many voices together are loud enough to force those in power to listen.  Groups of people are far more effective than individual voices. Neighborhood organizations, church organizations, community organizations, join and work with others!

Eight.  Work in statewide coalitions. Statewide coalitions are very important because many disaster relief decisions are made on the state level.  You have to be able to influence those decisions.

Nine.  Identify members of Congress who you can work with. Many decisions are being made on the federal level. You have to make sure your voice is heard. After Katrina, the best voice for poor people in New Orleans was Congresswoman Maxine Waters from California! Now well known nationally as Superwoman, she was a terrific advocate for and with us.

Ten.  Prioritize the voices of women. Men push to the front when the cameras are on and when the resources are being handed out. But in the long run, it is usually the women who are the most reliable family anchors.

Eleven.  Don’t allow those in power to forget about the people whose voices are never heard.  People in nursing homes, people in hospitals, the elderly, the disabled, children, the working poor, renters, people of color, immigrants and prisoners. There is no need to be a voice for the voiceless because all these people have voices, they are just not listened to. Help lift their voices and their stories up because the voices of business and industry and people with money and connections will do just fine.  It is our other sisters and brothers who are always pushed to the back of the line. Stand with them as they struggle to reclaim their rightful place.

Twelve.  Realize that you have human rights to return to your community and to be made whole. Protect your human rights and the human rights of others.

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Bill Quigley is Associate Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans.  He is a Katrina survivor and has been active in human rights in Haiti for years. He volunteers with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and the Bureau de Avocats Internationaux (BAI) in Port au Prince. Contact Bill at quigley77@gmail.com