Friday, October 20, 2017

hey people now, smile on your brother

from BBC News, today
(a reprint)
(since it's from the BBC, one must read it with a British accent...)

U.S. & Canada

| |   Obama and Bush decry deep US divisions without naming Trump

^ ^   Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W Bush have voiced concern about the current political climate in the US, in comments seen as a veiled rebuke of Donald Trump's leadership.

Mr Obama urged Americans to reject the politics of "division" and "fear," while Mr Bush criticised "bullying and prejudice" in public life.

They were speaking separately.  Neither mentioned President Trump by name.

Mr Trump, who has been critical of his two predecessors, is yet to comment.

Ex-presidents traditionally shy away from commenting publicly on their successors, and Mr Obama said on leaving office he would extend that courtesy for a time to Mr Trump, as George W Bush had to him.

He has broken his silence since to issue statements on Mr Trump's efforts to dismantle Obamacare, as well as his controversial "Muslim ban" and decision to abandon the Paris climate accord.

Speaking at a Democratic campaign event in Newark, New Jersey, Mr Obama said Americans should "send a message to the world that we are rejecting a politics of division, we are rejecting a politics of fear."

He added:  "What we can't have is the same old politics of division that we have seen so many times before that dates back centuries.

"Some of the politics we see now, we thought we put that to bed.  That's folks looking 50 years back.  It's the 21st Century, not the 19th Century.  Come on!"

He touched on similar themes at another event later in Richmond, Virginia, saying:  "We've got folks who are deliberately trying to make folks angry, to demonise people who have different ideas, to get the base all riled up because it provides a short-term tactical advantage."

Speaking just hours earlier in New York, Mr Bush said:  "Bigotry seems emboldened.  Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.

"There are some signs that the intensity of support for democracy itself has waned -- especially among the young."

Americans, he said, have "seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty."

"At times it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together.

"We've seen nationalism distorted into nativism, we've forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America."

Both former presidents have until now largely avoided commenting publicly on Mr Trump's policies.

Before his election last year, Mr Trump was highly critical of both Mr Obama and Mr Bush, describing each of them at one time or another as "perhaps the worst president in the history" of the US.

Since his inauguration in January, Mr Trump's combative style and direct public comments on a number of key issues have caused controversy both among Democrats and Republicans.

He has regularly blamed the media, which he says do not focus on his achievements and instead choose to concentrate on what he describes as "fake news."


Shared concerns

Analysis by Gary O'Donoghue in Richmond, Virginia

President Barack Obama still knows how to draw a crowd -- and they queued round the block for hours to see him speak.

If they were hoping for head-on attacks on Donald Trump, they were to be disappointed.

However, the criticisms when they came were scarcely veiled -- with talk of pandering to the extremes and sowing divisiveness.

The speech followed a much more full-frontal attack on the current political situation by former Republican President George W Bush.

He talked about bigotry and falsehood threatening American democracy -- while celebrating immigration and arguing for a more open trade policy.

These attacks certainly aren't co-ordinated -- but they do demonstrate just how widely concerns about the current president are shared.


Some differences in phrasing and wordage (is that a word...?) between American style and UK-style are displayed in the above article.

They didn't, for example, "line up" to hear the speech, they "queued" -- and not, "around the block," but rather "round the block"...

  (And now, along with worrying about North Korea starting nuclear holocaust and destroying world, must add to Worry-List:  why do UK writers put "Mr." without the period, typing it as "Mr" ?  Oh, the burden of it all....)


Thursday, October 19, 2017


"Everything happens at a slower pace here.  Everyday life in Hawaii is generally relaxed, laid-back, easygoing...  Casual dress is standard in the Islands -- rubber slippers are worn almost everywhere.  

Business wear can be an Aloha shirt, chinos and loafers.  It's extremely rare to see someone in a suit and tie and if you do, they are probably going to court."

~~  Christine Kobzeff, Modern Bohemian Lifestyle blog

"This president cannot govern if whenever the hard right frightens him and says, 'Jump,' he says, 'How high?'"

~~  Chuck Schumer, U.S. Senator


two headlines

| |   The Upshot:  Trump's Attack on Insurer 'Gravy Train' Could Actually Help a Lot of Consumers

The New York Times

| |   In Italian Schools, Reading, Writing and Recognizing Fake News

the NYT


They also ran a story with the headline, "Trump's Condolence Call to Soldier's Widow Ignites an Imbroglio" -- Mark in Florida


----------------- Reporting like this ... makes Trump supporters think that the media looks for any misstep that this president makes to pounce, and in this case I fully agree.

I have no doubt that Trump did not intend for his comment to be taken as a sign of disrespect.  These types of conversations would be difficult for anyone much less someone like Trump.

How about focusing on Trump's tax plan which would be the largest transfer of wealth to the ultra rich in the nation's history all paid for by the middle class voter that Trump campaigned for.  How about showing how that Virginia coal miner would be paying for tax cuts that would ensure people like Trump and his family continue to pay little to no taxes.  That would be news worth reading.

--------------------- And a comment on the Comment:  the "tax reform" and "healthcare"  legislative proposals to transfer working Americans' money to wealthy Americans didn't come from Pres. Trump in the first place, it's what some members of Congress have been saying they want.  The President's moves in that direction are, I think, his attempt to call their bluff and "rub their noses in" that rhetoric.


"Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised, or a little mistaken."

~~ Jane Austen, 19th Century English novelist


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

hard to tell, if anything is goin' to sell

"Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth."

~~  Abraham Lincoln

"Not since Harry Truman has anybody done so much.  That's a long time ago."

~~  Donald Trump

"My goal is to be one with the music."

~~  Jimi Hendrix

"I can see why people get sick of politics and have no time for it, but this is interesting."

~~  miscellaneous blogger

Headline one day ago:

"2 Senators Strike Deal on Health Subsidies that Trump Cut Off"
The New York Times

2 paragraphs
6 Reader Comments

WASHINGTON -- Two leading senators, hoping to stabilize teetering health insurance markets under the Affordable Care Act, reached a bipartisan deal on Tuesday to fund critical subsidies to insurers that President Trump moved just days ago to cut off.

At the White House, virtually as the deal was being announced, Mr. Trump voiced support for it while insisting that he would try again to repeal President Barack Obama's signature health law.


San Francisco
The thought of bipartisan leadership on an issue as divisive as healthcare (one that really shouldn't be divisive at all) is encouraging.  Only when Republicans and Democrats learn to reach across the aisle and dispel the "I'm right, you're wrong" rhetoric, will our government truly be great.

Donald Trump forced Congress to start doing its job and gave specific encouragement to Senators Murray and Alexander to find a short-term fix for subsidies.

It appears that his strategy is already paying dividends in the short term.  In the long term, this will hopefully be a first step in a return to normal democracy where the legislative branch legislates and the executive branch executes.

Thank you, Mr. President.

The stock of UnitedHealth Group, the largest health insurance company in the United States, reached an all-time high today on the back of record profits, despite the possibility of losing the government subsidies.  

Does the American taxpayer really need to subsidize the health insurance industry as a means to guarantee that their profit margins are maximized?  Is that what the free market is all about?

By-the-way, UnitedHealth Group CEO, Stephen J. Hemsley, received $66.13 million in compensation last year

William Lustig
Let's not be so quick to celebrate.  Giving states "more flexibility in the variety of choices they can give to consumers" means ending the defined benefits which, in turn, can make insurance unaffordable to those who need it.

"But it remains to be seen whether conservative-leaning Republicans will get on board with the agreement..."  

Come on, reporters, call the facts.  

These are not "conservative-leaning Republicans."  

They are a new breed of extremist Conservatives determined to undermine and destroy our federal Republic. The GOP leadership has been coddling this crew for 7 years.  They are making Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell look cowardly and unpatriotic, which they are.  Call the cards as they are, please!

Christopher P.
Say what you want about Trump, but our legislators are actually legislating for a change, crossing the aisle to reach creative consensus.  

Now let's just hope they put a bill on the President's desk immediately, since he claims to support it but is known to change his mind more often than the wind changes direction.


...Watch the plain clothes
You don't need a weatherman
To know which way the wind blows

Aah -- get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
Try hard, get barred
Get back, write braille...


{song excerpt:  "Subterranean Homesick Blues" -- Bob Dylan}


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Senator Motown

Last week here was contemplating Smokey Robinson & The Miracles and their hit song, "I Second That Emotion."

1967 is the year when that song came out, but I heard it more during the 1990s when work required some travel, and I would listen to cassette tapes in my car -- The Big Chill soundtrack included "second that emotion" and it grooved into my brain at that time, more than when it was new.

"I second the motion" was a phrase I heard many times in the 90s when working as a lobbyist:  during the annual meetings of the State Legislature, you would hear representatives and senators "seconding motions" both in committees and on the floor.  A person might say,

"I second the motion" or

"I second that motion" or just


When the State Senate (35 members) or House of Representatives (70 members) was in session, lobbyists would be in "our" lobby (on the opposite side of each Chamber was a lobby where only senators or representatives could go, lobbyists couldn't go in).  

Sitting on ancient, reupholstered sofas; standing by the chamber wall where, if you were tall enough, you could look through the strip of unfrosted glass at the bottom of the window and gaze into the Chamber;

or walking through -- the lobby was a sort of heavily trafficked pocket in the Capitol building where many visitors never went, and lobbyists and legislators always went.

One day during a debate on the Senate floor, I was listening, looking briefly in the window, then up at the loudspeaker on the wall -- not that you can hear better when looking at it, but sometimes that can become a habit...  A Democratic senator made a motion, and another Democrat got on her microphone and said, "I second Senator Symens' emotion."

It was one of those moments -- frozen in thick, muddy time for a split second, I looked away from the wall-speaker and happened to catch the eye of another lobbyist standing a few feet away.  

I looked at him, and he looked at me, and above our heads was one of those imaginary, comic-strip clouds with two streams of cloud-bubbles, one stream pointing at his head and the other at mine, and the thought we were thinking simultaneously without saying it, printed in the cloud:  "Did I just hear what I thought I heard?"

And he smiled a little, and I smiled a little more, and we both looked around the lobby to see if anyone else caught it:  Harry's face burst into a big smile (he usually looked solemn and low-key) and he dipped his shoulder to launch into a little modified groovy-dance and started singing, "I second that emotion...!"

(Maybe the senator had been listening to The Big Chill tape in her car, too....)

Go on Google and You Tube and type in

I second that emotion, smokey robinson and the miracles

-- there's a version at the top where they're performing live, wearing grey suits -- I don't recommend, not good, a TV-show house band, no no no...Listen to the vinyl single, looks like this:

Maybe you'll wanna give me kisses sweet

But only for one night and no repeat

And maybe you'll go away and never call

And a taste of honey is worse than none at all

Oh -- little girl -- 
in that case I don't want no part

I do believe that,
that would only break my heart

Oh -- but if you feel like lovin' me
If you got the notion
I second that emotion...

{"I Second That Emotion" - released October 19, 1967.  Recorded at Hitsville U.S.A. (Studio A).  Album:  Greatest Hits, vol. 2.  Genre:  soul.  Label:  Motown.  Songwriters:  Smokey Robinson; Al Cleveland.  Producer:  Smokey Robinson.}


Thursday, October 12, 2017

if you got the notion

Maybe if "Al Green" cannot get an impeachment

 vote passed, they should call Smokey 

Robinson -- then another U.S. House

 Representative might "Second That Emotion"...


times are good or bad, happy or sad

"Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth."

~~ John F. Kennedy


Awoke today to headline:  "impeachment against Trump."

(It's "impeachment of,"

not "impeachment against.")

Articles of impeachment introduced by -- Al Green??!?

The guy with the hit song "Let's Stay Together" 1971, covered by Tina Turner, 1983???

Haha -- different Al Green -- a congressman from Houston, Texas.


I'm...  I'm so
in love with you
Whatever you want to do
Is all right with me --

'Cause you -- make me feel so brand new

And I -- want to spend my life with you

Let me say that since,
Since we've been together
Ooo --

Loving you forever
Is what I -- need --
Let me -- be the one you come running to --
I'll -- never be untrue...


Reading some of the Jane Austen novel Emma each day can be a kind of sorbet for the mind and soul in today's Current-Events-Climate-Of-Weirdness.

------------------- [excerpt] ------------------------ "...At any rate, it must be better to have only one to please than two."

"Especially when one of those two is such a fanciful, troublesome creature!" said Emma playfully.  "That is what you have in your head, I know -- and what you would certainly say if my father were not by."

"I believe it is very true, my dear, indeed," said Mr. Woodhouse, with a sigh.  "I am afraid I am sometimes very fanciful and troublesome."

"My dearest papa!  You do not think I could mean you, or suppose Mr. Knightley to mean you.  What a horrible idea!  Oh no!  I meant only myself.  Mr. Knightley loves to find fault with me, you know -- in a joke -- it is all a joke.  We always say what we like to one another."

Mr. Knightley, in fact, was one of the few people who could see faults in Emma Woodhouse, and the only one who ever told her of them:  and though this was not particularly agreeable to Emma herself, she knew it would be so much less so to her father, that she would not have him really suspect such a circumstance as her not being thought perfect by every body.

"Emma knows I never flatter her," said Mr. Knightley, but I meant no reflection on any body.  Miss Taylor has been used to have two persons to please; she will now have but one.  The chances are that she must be a gainer." ------------- [end, Emma excerpt] -----------------


When I discovered E.F. Benson's "Lucia" novels, at Barnes & Noble in the 1980s (what a gigantically fantastic store it was, new at the time!) their style reminded me of Jane Austen's.

-------------- [excerpt, Queen Lucia] ----------------- "You are too wonderful!" he would say.  "How do you find time for everything?"

She rejoined with the apophthegm that made the rounds of Riseholme next day.

"My dear, it is just busy people that have time for everything."

It might be thought that even such activities as have here been indicated would be enough to occupy anyone so busily that he would positively not have time for more, but such was far from being the case with Mrs Lucas.  

Just as the painter Rubens amused himself with being the ambassador to the Court of St. James -- a sufficient career in itself for most busy men -- so Mrs Lucas amused herself, in the intervals of her pursuit of Art for Art's sake, with being not only an ambassador but a monarch.  

Riseholme might perhaps according to the crude materialism of maps, be included in the kingdom of Great Britain, but in a more real and inward sense it formed a complete kingdom of its own, and its queen was undoubtedly Mrs Lucas, who ruled it with a secure autocracy pleasant to contemplate at a time when thrones were toppling, and imperial crowns whirling like dead leaves down the autumn winds. ----------------- [end, excerpt -- Queen Lucia.  1920] ------------------- 

{"Let's Stay Together" -- released November 1971.  Songwriters:  Al Green, Willie Mitchell, Al Jackson Jr.  Producers:  Al Green, Willie Mitchell.  Label:  Hi}


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

happy circumstance

------------ [excerpt] --------- He had returned to a late dinner, after some days' absence, and now walked up to Hartfield to say that all were well in Brunswick Square.  It was a happy circumstance, and animated Mr. Woodhouse for some time.  Mr. Knightley had a cheerful manner, which always did him good; and his many inquiries after "poor Isabella" and her children were answered most satisfactorily.  When this was over, Mr. Woodhouse gratefully observed, "It is very kind of you, Mr. Knightley, to come out at this late hour to call upon us.  I am afraid you must have had a shocking walk."

"Not at all, sir.  It is a beautiful moonlight night; and so mild that I must draw back from your great fire."

"But you must have found it very damp and dirty.  I wish you may not catch cold."

"Dirty, sir!  Look at my shoes.  Not a speck on them."

"Well! that is quite surprising, for we have had a vast deal of rain here.  It rained dreadfully hard for half an hour while we were at breakfast.  I wanted them to put off the wedding."

     "By the bye -- I have not wished you joy.  Being pretty well aware of what sort of joy you must both be feeling, I have been in no hurry with my congratulations; but I hope it all went off tolerably well.  How did you all behave?  Who cried most?"

"Ah! poor Miss Taylor!  'Tis a sad business."

"Poor Mr. and Miss Woodhouse, if you please; but I cannot possibly say 'poor Miss Taylor.'  I have a great regard for you and Emma; but when it comes to the question of dependence or independence! -- At any rate, it must be better to have only one to please than two."

---------------------- [Emma, by Jane Austen]