Maine Writer

Its about people and issues I care about.

My Photo
Location: Topsham, MAINE, United States

My blogs are dedicated to the issues I care about. Thank you to all who take the time to read something I've written.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Believe Representative Adam Schiff #AdamSchiffStrong

Echo opinion published in the Los Angeles Times - by Virginia Heffernan
Representative Adam Schiff 
Forget what William Barr #fakeBarrLetter wrote about collusion. Listen to Adam Schiff instead

C-Span link to "it's not ok" here.

"Representative Adam Schiff, now chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is faced with a campaign of denial."

"Whatever the legal niceties, for most sane observers, the Barr letter is the latest entry in the administration’s effort to, shall we say, avoid a reckoning."

Twelve years ago, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) called on then-President George W. Bush to recognize the 1915 Armenian genocide. He asked that the history of the Ottoman government’s extermination of 1.5 million Armenians be written into the record so future administrations making foreign policy would take that genocide into account.
Schiff’s resolution passed in committee. But after powerful American politicians of both parties enabled a lobbying blitz by the Turkish government, Schiff’s resolution never made it to the House floor.

"When you think about what we have against us — the president, a foreign policy establishment that has condoned this campaign of denial," Schiff said at the time, "against that you have the truth, which is a powerful thing but doesn't always win out."

Schiff, now chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is faced with another campaign of denial.

This time, what’s being denied is not the past but the present. President Trump and his huffy apparatchiks in Congress and the media insist on trying to skirt what’s self-evident: the facts of Trumpworld’s commitments to the Kremlin.

These have emerged in public testimony (Michael Cohen), in emails in the public record (Don Jr.’s), and the many indictments and court documents produced by the office of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, which delivered its Trump-Russia report to the attorney general on March 22.

Because persisting in denial means censoring anyone who tells the truth, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have been calling on Schiff to resign (HELLO? because he's telling the truth!)

All week they waved Atty. Gen. William Barr’s meager and fuzzy four-page letter, claiming it faithfully represents Mueller’s findings, which Barr says runs some 400 pages.

Of course, we need to see the actual Mueller findings to see how faithful Barr’s letter is. But legal analysts from Jed Shugerman (Fordham Law) to Ken White (former federal prosecutor) to Neal Katyal (Georgetown Law) have questioned Barr’s use of weasel words and his delay in turning over the whole report to Congress.

Against that you have the truth.

So on Thursday, Schiff, as he has done many times before, patiently spelled out the state of play between Trumpworld and the Russians to the members of the Intelligence committee and anyone watching on C-SPAN.

There was none of Barr’s fuzziness or torque in what Schiff said. He didn’t hypothesize. He didn’t speculate. He just laid it all out.

The Russians offered dirt on a Democratic candidate for president as part of what was described as the Russian government’s effort to help the Trump campaign,” he said.

“When that was offered to the son of the president, who had a pivotal role in the campaign, the president’s son did not call the FBI, he did not adamantly refuse that foreign help. Instead that son said that he would love the help of the Russians.

“Paul Manafort, the campaign chair, someone with great experience in running campaigns, also took that meeting…. The president’s son-in-law also took that meeting…. They concealed it from the public…. Their only disappointment after that meeting was that the dirt they received on Hillary Clinton wasn’t better.”

And Schiff kept going. Through Manafort’s offer of campaign information in exchange for debt forgiveness; through his offer of campaign polling data to someone linked to Russian intelligence; through Jared Kushner’s attempt to open a Russian back channel; through Trumpworld contacts with the GRU (“a hostile intelligence agency”); through denied-but-true Moscow Trump Tower negotiations and the promulgation of a “new and more favorable policy toward the Russians” as Trump sought “the Russians’ help — the Kremlin’s help” to make himself a fortune.

Call me crazy, Schiff said, but it all strikes me as immoral, unethical, corrupt — and, yes, as collusion, even if it isn’t part of a criminal conspiracy.

Throughout his incantation, Schiff repeated the phrase: “You might think it’s OK that…” as he walked through the facts. Since he delivered the litany, no one has called him on a single error. And yet, Republicans on the committee seemed to find all the evidence of Trump’s treachery OK.

So that’s it. We can all agree on what happened. The president encouraged computer crimes. Trumpworld has a pattern of back channeling with, digging dirt with, murky real-estate dealing with and swapping favors with Kremlin types. And Trumpworld lies about it.

Whatever the legal niceties, for most sane observers, the Barr letter is the latest entry in the administration’s effort to, shall we say, avoid a reckoning. Barr has suppressed Mueller’s findings, and he may have spun them hard, letting Trump spin that spin and claim, laughably, that he’d been, “Totally EXONERATED.” (Barr letter #fakeBarrLetter: The report “does not exonerate” Trump.)

The American people aren’t buying the president’s tweet, at least not yet. For any conclusion that big, we need the real report. And, according to a CNN poll this week, 87% of Americans want all of the Mueller findings released to the public, including 80% of Republicans.
In the meantime, if you’re interested in understanding the Trump-Russia findings, ignore what Barr #fakeBarrLetter wrote. Watch the Schiff speech instead.

Labels: , , , ,

Sister city history - Bath Maine and Tsugaru Japan

The Cheseborough was a 19th-century American ship which wrecked off the coast of Japan in 1889.On October 30, 1889, driven by a typhoon, she ran aground off the coast of Shariki, Aomori Prefecture, Japan. In a courageous rescue, the villagers saved a number of the crew and nursed them back to health.
Forecaster The Coastal Journal Edition- byAlex Lear 
Sister City history - Bath Maine with Tsugaru Japan

BATH, Maine — The story of the Bath-Tsugaru sister city relationship is one of tragedy turned to friendship. The bond was forged by unlikely circumstances, creating common bonds among people from two greatly diverse societies, separated by more than 6,000 miles.

The tale began in 1889, when a typhoon caused the Bath-built ship Cheseborough to crash on a shoal a mile offshore of Skariki, Japan. Residents of that northern Japanese town cared for the handful of survivors, whose grateful families kept in touch with the benefactors via letters for years to come.

A century later, in 1989, a delegation of officials from Shariki – which later merged with four other villages to form Tsugaru City – traveled to Bath to propose a formal sister-city relationship. 

Since 1990, students from the Bath and Tsugaru regions have taken part annually in an overseas exchange program, and a declaration of the relationship was signed in 1993.

The Bath-Tsugaru Student Exchange Program is marking the 30th anniversary of the delegation’s arrival in two ways.

1.  An April 1, dinner at the Henry and Marty Restaurant in Brunswick will raise money for student travel scholarships. The program’s board hopes to raise at least $3,000 toward trip scholarships. 

About half of the dinner’s 50 seats were sold as of last week.

2.  The milestone anniversary will also be commemorated through the installation on the city’s planned Riverwalk of a memorial to the longtime friendship – a bright red torii gate like those often encountered in Japan.

“There are a lot of places where you go through these gates, and it’s just so welcoming,” said Aaron Park, a city councilor who owns Henry and Marty. He was one of the adult chaperones on last year’s trip to Tsugaru, along with exchange program coordinator Jen Jones.

Imbued with the value the sister city hosts placed on the friendship’s milestone, “I came back with this idea that we need to celebrate something on our side, and do our part, because they are definitely attaching significance to this,” Park said March 21, in an interview alongside Jones, program President Will Laliberte, and Lindsey Goudreau, the city’s marketing and communications specialist.

Park, a program board member along with Goudreau, seeks ways to boost the organization’s profile and renew its message of amity across the miles, with Japan.

Labels: , ,

#fakeBarrLetter - egregious letter did not exonerate Donald Trump: multiple echo opinions

...."Barr letter was wildly inadequate"...

Release the Mueller report now- Byron York in The Washington Examiner

Tim Dickinson in Rolling Stone: For the sake of American democracy, and the public’s faith in our justice system, the full, final report produced by Special Counsel Robert Mueller must be made public. Immediately.

Sunday’s slender, four-page memo to Congress by Attorney General William Barr was wildly inadequate. Claiming that the special counsel had not found an illegal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, Barr provided a cursory summary of Mueller’s findings — managing to not even quote a complete sentence of the actual report.

More egregious: Barr used the same letter to slam shut a heavy door that Mueller appeared to intentionally leave open. The special counsel presented evidence for a possible charge of obstruction of justice by Donald Trump, writing: “While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

Mueller described “difficult issues” of fact and law that needed to be weighed, based on 22 months of investigation. Barr made his assessment in less than 48 hours, concluding that no such crime had been committed, because the president’s (all too public) attempts at a cover-up did not, in the end, conceal an underlying crime.

The Mueller report must be released in full. The impetus behind the special counsel statute is to enable investigations to take place outside the normal bounds of partisanship. Even in our hyper-polarized environment, Mueller’s investigation appeared insulated from the thrum of politics, gaining the trust of nearly 60 percent of Americans. It is unacceptable, then, that the only public glimpse of the special counsel’s work has been filtered through a Trump political appointee.

And Barr is not just any political appointee. 

In fact, he may have been picked to lead the Justice Department precisely because of his views that Trump is immune from obstruction of justice charges in the context of this particular investigation. In June 2018, five months before his appointment by president Trump to lead the DOJ, Barr submitted a memo titled simply “Mueller’s ‘Obstruction’ Theory.”

That memo is nearly five times the length of Barr’s Sunday letter to Congress. Last summer, Barr wrote that Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, and his suggestion that Comey not prosecute former national security adviser Michael Flynn, were not acts of obstruction absent an underlying crime. “[T]he President’s motive in removing Comey and commenting on Flynn could not have been ‘corrupt’ unless the President and his campaign were actually guilty of illegal collusion,” Barr wrote, “[b]ecause the obstruction claim is entirely dependent on first finding collusion.” In sum, Barr concluded: “Mueller’s obstruction theory is fatally misconceived.” (#fakeBarrLetter)

In his new letter to Congress, Barr leaned on the same logic in justifying his decision not to indict Trump for obstruction: “In making this determination, we noted that the Special Counsel recognized that ‘the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference.’” Barr added another sentence or two of legalese, but the Attorney General is saying, in essence, that a coverup in the absence of an underlying crime is not obstruction.

Barr’s behavior in this case raises a troubling possibility: That his appointment to head the Department of Justice, and his work in that post under color of law, is itself an act of obstruction by the president of the United States — that Trump is using his powers as the nation’s chief executive to tip the scales of justice in his own favor.

Until the Mueller report is released in full, Americans will rightly doubt the integrity of our justice system. That creeping doubt is a cancer, capable of hollowing trust in yet another core institution of our republic. Sunshine in this case is the only cure. But Barr, in his letter to Congress, indicated that he intends to shield some of Mueller’s work product from public view, citing secrecy that “protects the integrity of grand jury proceedings.”

The full publication of Mueller’s report and evidence will not satisfy everyone. Some Russiagate theorists will never be convinced that President Trump’s rise to the White House was possible in absence of a partnership with Vladimir Putin. The confounding decision by Mueller not to make a prosecutorial recommendation on the obstruction of justice charge may remain confounding, even in the light of all evidence. But the citizens of our democracy deserve the chance to struggle over these facts, honestly and evenly.

Congress has made clear its intention: By a vote of 420 to 0 the House of Representatives has called for the release of the Mueller report. A recent poll found 81 percent of the American public also want the report published in its entirety. Neal Katyal, who helped draft the regulations that govern the special counsel, wrote recently: “Absolutely nothing in the law or the regulations prevents the report from becoming public.” The health of our democracy depends on it.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Border wall world history 101 - echo opinion from California

Donald Trump promised a border wall and Mexico was going to pay for it.  HELLO? Who will pay for it? Instead, the cost of the useless border wall will be paid by cutting middle class safety net programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP, children's health CHIP and important social services. #Cruel_Donald_Trump
Actually, history proves that border walls are an ineffective protection for cities or countries.

In approximately 1300 BC, the Spartans were able to bypass the walls of Troy to burn, sack and loot the city.

In Rome’s Third Servile War,(73 -71 BC) the Roman army had Spartacus’ forces bottled up on the tip of Italy, so they built a wall to contain the rebels. Spartacus not only escaped, but took his army with him and fought additional battles with the Romans.

Masada was a walled fortress on the top of a mountain. In 66 AD Jewish rebels took the fortress away for the Romans and in 73 AD the Romans breached the wall and re-took the fortress. All of the Jews committed suicide rather than be captured by the Romans.

According to historians, Hadrian’s Wall in Britain was never built to prevent invasion or immigration, but to demonstrate the power of Rome.

The Great Wall of China, built in stages between 7 BC and 1644 AD, was built to protect China from the invaders from the north. It did not stop Kublai Kahn from conquering China in 1271 AD and establishing the Yuan Dynasty that ruled China until 1368 AD.

Jerusalem in probably an excellent example that walls don’t work. It was invaded by the Arabs in 68 AD, the Turks in 1073 AD, the Crusaders in 1099 AD, Saladin’s Muslim army in 1187 AD. It was sacked by the Tartars in 1244 AD and the Ottoman Turks captured it in 1512 AD.

Now there was the Berlin Wall. It was pretty effective because there were soldiers on the wall that shot anyone trying to cross it. If we establish a border wall, how many soldiers will we have on it and how many people will they have to shoot?

It would be better to take the $5 billion proposed for the wall and invest it in Central America to improve conditions so the natives of those countries would not have to flee to the U.S. for sanctuary and a better way of life. Putting up a wall won’t do it.

From Jim Clark in Lemoore, California

Labels: , , , , , , ,

End Russian influence in the American democracy

Russia is trying to disrupt flow of information democracy depends on- echo opinion letter from Florida published in TCPalm.  

"Donald Trump has publicly made more than 8,000 false or misleading claims, according to The Washington Post," Sooo, is Donald Trump being fed propaganda by a Russian source?
Information is power in a democracy.
One of the major elements of any democracy is an “information system*.” And because ordinary citizens play a significant role in political decision-making within a democracy, information is power. Therefore, if a foreign nation wants to disrupt a democracy, it will use tools (weapons) to damage the democracy’s information system.

Historically, some of these tools have been control of the press; use of rumors, insinuation, fake news techniques; clandestine operation of radio/TV stations; manipulation of political and media figures as collaborators; infiltration of organizations. Add to this, widespread disinformation, intimidation, fear-mongering and infiltration of social media systems.

Does any of this sound pertinent to today’s events? There is overwhelming evidence that Russia is using these tools in its campaigns against the United States.

To examine just a few, look at fake news: Donald Trump has publicly made more than 8,000 false or misleading claims, according to The Washington Post. Collaborators: The list of known indictments and plea deals in Robert Mueller’s probe is more than 37! Infiltration of organizations: A Russian agent with ties to the NRA is under arrest. Radio/TV: Is our president being fed propaganda by a national news agency? The list goes on and on!

We need to proclaim a national emergency and provide funds to build a metaphorical wall around our democracy’s information systems. We need to drain D.C. of any and all individuals with secretive ties to Russia, by means of forced resignation, censorship or impeachment.

We need to end secret spending by dark money groups. We need to be ever vigilant that First Amendment rights are protected. We need to contact our elected representatives and make sure they do not have their heads buried in the sand.

Lee Klein, Vero Beach

*Information History: During the American Revolution, Thomas Paine (1737-1809) was influential- Published in 1776 to international acclaim, Common Sense was the first pamphlet to advocate American independence.

Labels: , , , ,

Donald Trump makes dangerous tweet decisions - North Korea is nobody's friend

Trump makes foreign policy decisions without consulting allies
Tweet policies are dangerous. Echo opinion letter published in the TCPalm a Florida newspaper.
Donald Trump’s most recent foreign policy reversal toward North Korea continues to create confusion for both our allies and enemies. Less than 24 hours after his secretary of the treasury announced well-deserved additional economic sanctions on North Korea, Trump suddenly announced that he was rescinding these sanctions- in a tweet.

When asked why, Trump’s press secretary stated that the North Korean dictator was Trump’s friend and did not deserve these additional sanctions.

The North Korean dictator, like his late father and grandfather, is a ruthless mass murderer who is not going to denuclearize his nation just because Donald Trump likes him (and other tyrannical murdering dictators like Putin and the Saudi Crown Prince!). This is just the latest example of Trump making an abrupt foreign policy decision without consulting his advisers or our allies.

After his first meeting with the North Korean dictator, Trump shocked South Korean leaders and his own military by cancelling the annual joint military exercises with South Korea. These joint military exercises that anger the North Korean dictator have been considered critical to the defense of South Korea.

Another example of President Trump making foreign policy decisions without notifying his advisers and our allies, was his tweet that the 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria would be completely withdrawn within 30 days. That shocking tweet led to the resignation of Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who had not been consulted.

Fortunately, under pressure from members of Congress, Trump at least for now has reversed that spontaneous and dangerous decision. Trump’s military and foreign policy decisions that surprise our allies and enemies make our nation less safe. It is dangerous for our nation and the world to have a president who makes impactful decisions without careful consideration and consultation with our allies.

Ken Foster, Vero Beach

Labels: , , , ,

Fake Barr letter - release the Mueller Report now

National Public Radio:
Poll: After 
#fakeBarrLetter, An overwhelming Majority Wants Full Mueller Report Released

And this reported in Rolling Stone: Release the Report
The American people can handle the truth, whatever it is. It’s time to release Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report in full

Release the whole Mueller report and do it soon by Lisa Gilbert

Echo reported in The New York Daily News
"We cannot rely on a conclusion that comes through the filter of the president’s inner circle."

Robert Mueller walks to St. John's Episcopal Church on March 24, across the street from the White House
As the entire world now knows, Attorney General William Barr sent a letter to Congress this week outlined findings of the 400 page special counsel investigation. But #fakeBarrletter in his brief summary, is not a substitute for the full and final 400 page report, the complete report that Robert Mueller and his team handed over last week.

While President Trump’s allies are busy trying to declare victory, it’s important to realize the only public information we have at this point has come from the president’s hand-picked choice to lead the Department of Justice #fakeBarrletter. 

Barr is the same man who just last year wrote a memo dismissing the legitimacy of Mueller’s probe into obstruction of justice.

While Trump’s allies are busy trying to declare victory, (but there was no exoneration in the report) it’s important to realize how the only public information we have at this point has come from the president’s hand-picked choice to lead the Department of Justice. This is the same man who just last year wrote a memo dismissing the legitimacy of Mueller’s probe into obstruction of justice.

American voters cannot rely on a conclusion that comes through the filter of the president’s inner circle. 

American people must see, and Congress must continue to demand, the full report. If necessary, that means a subpoena.

Thankfully, everyday Americans continue to demand the full report and its underlying findings.

Grassroots groups from across the country are demanding the full report is released and are raising their voices to show this isn’t just a beltway concern. North Carolinians came together just last month for a town hall calling on their leaders to make the full report public. And in Alaska, demonstrators not only protested in the streets, but projected images onto buildings in Anchorage to shine a light on transparency and demand their senators fight for them to get all the facts the people deserve.

For months, organizations across the country like mine at Public Citizen have worked to collect tens of thousands of petition signatures across the country demanding that the report is released untampered by the Trump administration.

In Iowa, activists delivered petitions with hundreds of signatures against Barr’s nomination to Sen. Joni Ernst’s (R-Ia.) five district offices. As one of Ernst’s concerned constituents Jackie Stellish said, “[Barr] thinks the president is above the law and shouldn’t be held accountable and that’s not okay."

Voices like hers can be found across the country as they mobilize to tell their representatives that they won’t accept attacks on our democracy or a government that enables them.

A recent poll found that 87% of Americans want a full, public report on the findings. Their efforts and enthusiasm have echoed inside DC. In a rare moment of bipartisan unity on an extremely controversial topic, the House voted 420-0 in favor of a resolution supporting transparency of the special counsel’s report.

It’s clear that in choosing secrecy over transparency the attorney general could not be more out of sync with the overwhelming sentiment of the country.

And despite Trump’s (#fakeBarrletter!
claim of exoneration, we can’t forget that he has attempted to brand the investigation as a witch hunt and dismiss it as baseless and partisan. If his administration is so certain the findings vindicate him, then there should be no opposition to a full release.

Let’s not forget the incredible success of this investigation, with more than 200 criminal charges filed against 37 defendants — seven of whom have already been found guilty. In no universe but Trump’s could that be interpreted as a complete vindication of this administration.

At a time of distrust with the government, Americans of all walks of life are calling for the full reporting of the facts. Recent polls even show that 80% of Republicans want to know the truth and are in favor of the full report’s release. This sentiment isn’t something that can be washed away with a terse press statement from the White House or a (caustic) tweet from Donald Trump.

The people won’t stand for that.

Gilbert is vice president of legislative affairs for Public Citizen and a board member of Protect the Investigation.

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Donald Trump - the cruel budget with broken promises

To say the budget is revolting and immoral would be a vast understatement.- Mel Gurtov

Moreover, the cruel Trump budget breaks his promise to protect Social Security and Medicare.
Donald Trump's cruel budget is another broken promise to Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries
“I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.”- Donald Trump

An echo opinion essay published in the Biddeford Maine Journal Tribune, by Mel Gurtov, a syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University.

Two things can be said with certainty about Donald Trump’s 2020 budget request: It is DOA, dead on arrival, in the House; and it is a political document, catering to his loyal supporters, rather than a serious fiscal statement.

What the budget request reveals is that Trump, left to his own devices, would further skewer the middle class and low-income groups, downgrade diplomacy and environmental protection, give the military more than it really wants or needs, and fulfill his obsession with a border wall. To say the budget is revolting and immoral would be a vast understatement. But it may (and should) give Democrats additional evidence of Trump’s unfitness to lead.

Below is a quick breakdown of the budget proposal. 

The Washington Post has a very good analysis March 13, and is the source for the figures below.

Proposed changes to funding in Trump’s budget

-31 percent Environmental Protection Agency
-24 percent State and USAID
-19 percent Transportation
-16 percent Housing and Urban Development
-15 percent Agriculture
-14 percent Interior
-12 percent Health and Human Services
-12 percent Education
-11 percent Energy
-10 percent Labor
-2 percent Justice
-2 percent NASA
-2 percent Treasury
+5 percent Defense
+7 percent Commerce
+7 percent Homeland Security
+8 percent Veterans Affairs

Key proposed additions

— Adds more than $33 billion to the Department of Defense budget, for a total of $718 billion, 57 percent of the proposed federal discretionary budget
— Allocates $8.6 billion to build sections of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, on top of the close to $7 billion Trump already announced in his national emergency declaration
— Sets aside $750 million to establish a paid parental leave program and $1 billion for a one-time fund to help underserved populations and encourage company investment in child-care
— Commits $291 million toward ending the spread of HIV in the United States within a decade, a promise Trump made in his State of the Union last month

Key proposed cut$

— Cuts $845 billion over the next 10 years from Medicare, the federal program that provides health insurance to older Americans
— Removes $241 billion from Medicaid, the health-care program for low-income Americans, over the next decade as part of an overhaul that shifts more power to states
— Slashes $220 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) over the next decade, with proposed reforms including mandatory work requirements and food box delivery service in lieu of cash benefits for low-income families
— Reductions to the federal student loan programs that total $207 billion in the next 10 years and include eliminating Public Service Loan Forgiveness and subsidized student loans.

Mel Gurtov, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University.

Labels: , , ,

Stupid Border Wall: echo from Mississippi with a history lesson

A stupid Border Wall is an ancient idea- An opinion letter from Moss Point*, Mississippi, echo published in the Sun Herald, a Mississippi newspaper.  

General George Patton quotes:  Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man.
Quoted in 50 Military Leaders Who Changed the World‎ (2007) by William Weir, p. 173
Unsourced variant: Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man. Anything built by man, can be destroyed by him.

In my opinion, a border wall will be a target for sabotage.  Besides, you don't need to be a four star general to realize how the Vietnamese built tunnels in their strategy to defeat the Americans in the Vietnam war....

Dear Editor:  General George S. Patton said, "Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man."

The justification for building a wall at the US southern border based on walls that were built during ancient times is absurd. A wall is a 16th century solution for a 21st century problem.

The facts show, a majority of illegal immigrants come into the U.S. from overstayed visas. The majority of drugs come in through open posts of entry, and some through an array of tunnels. Apprehensions of illegal aliens ar our southern border are at historic lows, down from a high of 220,000 a mont in 2000 to 40,000 a month in 2019.

People would have you believe 4,000 suspected terrorists have been apprehended at our southern border, but the actualy nuber is 6 (six!), the other 3, 994 were detained at airports, worldwide. These people are being wrongly portrayed as being criminals, murderers and thieves, out to crate crime in our streets. 

Yet, studies prove that the overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants living in America commit less crime than the general population. These people are just poor souls, looking for a better life, running from poverty and/or certain death from corruption and crime in their native countries.

The majority of illegal immigrant refugees now come from Central American Northern Triangle area. That's not to way we should have open borders, we don't. Yes, we need to account for everybody entering our country but we need to be smart about it, cost effective and humane, and not waste upward of $30 billion dollars for ancient walls.

From David Cameron, Moss Point Mississippi

*Post Script from Maine Writer- I looked up "Moss Point", a practice I try to do before publishing "echoes", to verify locations of the authors. I discovered that this location in Mississippi was devastated by hurricane Katrina. Therefore, I'd say, border walls are not only stupid, ancient and subject to destruction, but also at risk for the destruction caused by natural disasters.

Moss Point is a city in Jackson County, Mississippi, United States. The population was 13,704 at the 2010 census, down from 17,653 at the 2000 census. On August 29, 2005, Moss Point was hit by the strong east side of Hurricane Katrina, and much of the city was flooded or destroyed.Wikipedia

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, March 29, 2019

A Donald Trump world view - brilliantly articulated from Great Britain

He makes Nixon look trustworthy and George W look smart.

#Quora: Nate White Hilariously Answers the Query –”Why Do British People NOT Like Trump?”

MaineWriter....In other words, making Donald Trump feel unwelcome....again.
Brits fly a Trump Baby balloon over London which makes the POTUS “feel unwelcome”…
“Why British people not like Donald Trump?”

Nate White, a witty writer from England wrote the perfect response.

“A few things spring to mind…

Trump lacks certain qualities which the British traditionally esteem.

For instance, he has no class, no charm, no coolness, no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlety, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honor and no grace – all qualities, funnily enough, with which his predecessor Mr. Obama was generously blessed.

So for us, the stark contrast does rather throw Trump’s limitations into embarrassingly sharp relief.

Plus, we like a laugh. And while Trump may be laughable, he has never once said anything wry, witty or even faintly amusing – not once, ever.

I don’t say that rhetorically, I mean it quite literally: not once, not ever. And that fact is particularly disturbing to the British sensibility – for us, to lack humor is almost inhuman.

But with Trump, it’s a fact. He doesn’t even seem to understand what a joke is – his idea of a joke is a crass comment, an illiterate insult, a casual act of cruelty.
Trump is a troll.

And like all trolls, he is never funny and he never laughs; he only crows or jeers.

And scarily, he doesn’t just talk in crude, witless insults – he actually thinks in them. His mind is a simple bot-like algorithm of petty prejudices and knee-jerk nastiness.

There is never any under-layer of irony, complexity, nuance or depth. It’s all surface.

Some Americans might see this as refreshingly upfront.

Well, we don’t. We see it as having no inner world, no soul.

And in Britain we traditionally side with David, not Goliath. All our heroes are plucky underdogs: Robin Hood, Dick Whittington, Oliver Twist.

Trump is neither plucky, nor an underdog. He is the exact opposite of that.

He’s not even a spoiled rich-boy, or a greedy fat-cat.
He’s more a fat white slug. A Jabba the Hutt of privilege.

And worse, he is that most unforgivable of all things to the British: a bully.

That is, except when he is among bullies; then he suddenly transforms into a snivelling sidekick instead.

There are unspoken rules to this stuff – the Queensberry rules of basic decency – and he breaks them all. He punches downwards – which a gentleman should, would, could never do – and every blow he aims is below the belt. He particularly likes to kick the vulnerable or voiceless – and he kicks them when they are down.

So the fact that a significant minority – perhaps a third – of Americans look at what he does, listen to what he says, and then think

‘Yeah, he seems like my kind of guy’ is a matter of some confusion and no little distress to British people, given that:

Americans are supposed to be nicer than us, and mostly are.

You don’t need a particularly keen eye for detail to spot a few flaws in the man.

This last point is what especially confuses and dismays British people, and many other people too; his faults seem pretty bloody hard to miss.

After all, it’s impossible to read a single tweet, or hear him speak a sentence or two, without staring deep into the abyss. He turns being artless into an art form;

He is a Picasso of pettiness; a Shakespeare of shit.

His faults are fractal: even his flaws have flaws, and so on ad infinitum.

God knows there have always been stupid people in the world, and plenty of nasty people too. But rarely has stupidity been so nasty, or nastiness so stupid.

He makes Nixon look trustworthy and George W look smart.
In fact, if Frankenstein decided to make a monster assembled entirely from human flaws – he would make a Trump.

And a remorseful Doctor Frankenstein would clutch out big clumpfuls of hair and scream in anguish:

‘My God… what… have… I… created?
If being a twat was a TV show, Trump would be the boxed set.”

Labels: , , ,

No exoneration for habitual liars - Donald Trump hasn't heard the last of the Mueller Report

Echo opinion about the #fakeBarrletter by Dick Polman published in The Times Record a Brunswick Maine newspaper. 


Habitual liars never have a day or rest, or else they risk having the truth catch up with them. 

Which is why Donald Trump greeted the news (published in the four page #fakeBarrletter) summarizing 400 pages of the Mueller report – correction (!), a report summary prepared and spun by his handpicked attorney general – by going on Twitter and spiking the ball in the end zone: “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION.”  (#noexoneration!)

If what the attorney general says is accurate – and all we’ve gotten so far is the Barr minimum – Robert Mueller has apparently found that Trump did not criminally conspire with Russia when it attacked the 2016 election. He can now legitimately crow about “no collusion.” But the rest of his Sunday tweet was nonsensical. Mueller did not say that Trump was innocent of obstructing justice. Barr’s summary quotes Mueller directly: “while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

We’ll need to see the report itself to determine why Mueller left that door ajar, but we also need to put the report in perspective and focus on the big picture. Ignore for now what we don’t know about the report and bear in mind everything we already know. Because it’s all there, hideously so, in plain sight.

A hostile foreign power staged an unprecedented clandestine invasion of our democratic system, for the purpose of electing Trump. Trump deliberately or obliviously went along for the ride, reaping the benefits, negotiating well into the election season for a Moscow Trump Tower and ignoring umpteen pieces of evidence that Russia was hacking on his behalf and indeed bragging about Russia’s conduit (“I love WikiLeaks!”),

Trump also concocted a fake cover story to conceal his son Donald’s quest for Russian dirt, publicly asked for Russia’s help against Hillary (“Russia, if you’re listening…”), refused to support the U.S. intelligence community’s consensus on Russian interference, spilled highly classified western intelligence to the Russians in an Oval Office chat and sided with Putin against his own country at the Helsinki summit.

Yeah, some exoneration.

As one prominent American told Trump on national TV prior to the election, “It’s pretty clear you won’t admit that the Russians have engaged in cyberattacks against the United States of America, that you encouraged espionage against our people, that you are willing to spout the Putin line, sign up for his wish list, break up NATO, do whatever he wants to do and that you continue to get help from him because he has a very clear favorite in this race.” Thank you, Hillary Clinton.

David Frum, the reality-based conservative commentator, wrote that it’s irrelevant whether Trump actually “colluded.” The bottom line is, “he received stolen goods, but he did not conspire with the thieves in advance…Are Americans comfortable with this president in the White House, now that they know he broke no prosecutable criminal statutes on the way into higher office?”

Is that, in fact, the new (lower) standard? Just because Trump has not been criminally accused, are we supposed to ignore the horrific questions that still demand to be answered?

Why, for instance, did Putin want Trump to win so badly? Why does Trump kowtow to Putin at every opportunity and refuse to safeguard our national security from a future electoral attack? And Evan McMullin, a conservative and former CIA operations officer, tweets another good question: “Is it (now) acceptable for our leaders to secretly pursue business deals with hostile foreign nations while encouraging & covering for their attacks against us?”

Americans in 2018 voted for accountability, so the House Democrats will have to tackle those questions – and multitudes more. The report itself may shed light on those matters, assuming we get to see it. And no Republican victory dance can erase the fundamental truth that the Trump regime was put in place with Russia’s help, and that Trump aides are in jail or heading there because they lied under oath to conceal that truth.

In the words of conservative attorney George Conway, husband of Kellyanne, “Whatever happens this day or the next, or in this investigation or the next or the one after that, we should always remember this: We should expect far more from a president than merely that he not be provably a criminal beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Dick Polman is the national political columnist at WHYY in Philadelphia and a “Writer in Residence” at the University of Pennsylvania. Email him at

Labels: , ,

Enjoy this inspirational report by Tom Purcell - LSP Pittsburgh PA

Tom Purcell: God chose her to be a beggar- An opinion published in The Times Record newspaper in Brunswick, Maine.

"Today, she greatly enjoys being the lead begging sister. Next year, she hopes to celebrate a decade in that role – and 50 years as a Little Sister of the Poor." 

Saint Jeanne Jugan (1792-1879)

On fire with love for God

God led more poor old people to her doorstep.

Let's meet Sister Margaret Mary, who didn’t think she was up to the job.

Nine years ago, during her 40th year of religious service, she had been assigned the most difficult role of her life: full-time beggar at the Little Sisters of the Poor retirement residence in Pittsburgh.

Little Sisters of the Poor (LSP) is a Roman Catholic order founded in France in 1839 by St. Jeanne Jugan. Its mission is to care for the elderly poor in their last chapter of life. Today, 172 LSP homes in 31 countries serve nearly 12,000 aged poor.

The sisters vow poverty, chastity, obedience – and hospitality. You won’t find a more cheerful or meticulous environment than an LSP home.

Since its founding in 1872, the Pittsburgh home has given love, dignity and care to more than 10,000 elderly poor, enabled by a fundraising tradition that St. Jeanne originated nearly two centuries ago: Sisters literally beg for support.

The alms that “begging sisters” seek from local merchants, benefactors and churchgoers are essential. In the U.S., Medicaid only covers 30 percent of each home’s cost. The alms cover the remaining 70 percent. 

Which brings us back to Sister Margaret.

She’d done her share of begging over the years – the sisters always go out in pairs, and she often accompanied the lead begging sister – but never expected to lead a collection program.

She first volunteered at an LSP home during her eighth-grade year in Arizona. The moment she walked inside – the moment she began caring for its residents – she fell in love with the order’s mission and knew God had called her to serve.

Her parents were delighted by the news. You see, eight months before her birth, her parents had lost her infant brother to a tragic birth defect. When she announced she was giving her life to God, her mother said, “God gave you to me and your father to help us heal from the loss of your brother. Now he wants you back!”

In 1965, just before her 18th birthday, Sister Margaret began a whirlwind mission that would take her to Europe, Asia and several stops in the U.S. She studied hard to prepare, including training as a registered nurse (and later becoming a certified dietary manager).

Though she preferred providing hands-on care to LSP residents – few things bring her more joy – her organizational talents led her to a variety of management roles abroad and in the U.S. Following her standard of “Do whatever God requests of you,” she took on many difficult duties in a spirit of humble service.

But beggar?

Outwardly confident, Sister Margaret admits to inwardly being a bundle of nerves around people she doesn’t know. Lead begging sisters are often spirited and persuasive – skills that didn’t come naturally to her. She dreaded the role, but after prayer and reflection, she humbly accepted her next assignment in 2010.

It turns out she was born to do the job. Building on the Pittsburgh home’s already robust collection program, Sister Margaret’s organizational skills doubled donations.

Today, she greatly enjoys being the lead begging sister. Next year, she hopes to celebrate a decade in that role – and 50 years as a Little Sister of the Poor.

We live in a time of great anger and cynicism. Newspaper headlines suggest we’re coming apart at the seams.

But for every headline that makes us doubt our future, 10 headlines go unwritten – headlines about people whose daily sacrifices and heroism bring great beauty to our world.

People like Sister Margaret Mary.

To donate provisions, funds or volunteer time to The Little Sisters of the Poor Pittsburgh home, or call 412-307-1268.)

"The Trib"....Tom Purcell, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist. Send comments to Tom at

Labels: , , , ,

Vaccinations opinions from a physician, a nurse and a legislator - protecting the public health

Vaccinations are cost effective preventive health care. 
Opinions published in The Times Record a newspaper published in Brunswick Maine.
My opinion letter in The Times Record a newspaper in Brunswick Maine and a guest editorial from a pediatrician Dr. Larry Losey and the Maine State Senator Brownie Carson

Parents should be proud to have our children protected from infectious diseases by taking them to physicians or public health clinics to receive immunizations. My parents were relieved to know that there were vaccines available to protect our family from smallpox, polio and other infectious illnesses. In the year 2000, the measles infections had been eradicated in the United States, because of the effective immunization available in the Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine. In fact, we know how vaccines are safe because they have saved millions of children from suffering with preventable infectious diseases, including measles and polio. Therefore, as a registered nurse, I am proud to be one of many who will testify in favor of LD 798 in Augusta, “An Act To Protect Maine Children and Students from Preventable Diseases by Repealing Certain Exemptions from the Laws Governing Immunization Requirements”, when the bill is heard at a public legislative hearing. This is important legislation and passing the bill will protect the health of Maine citizens, and visitors to our state, by strengthening the requirements for compliance with vaccines administration. I encourage all Maine people to support vaccine protections against infectious diseases. 

Measles, chicken pox and polio are preventable with vaccines. I encourage legislators to support LD 798. 

Juliana L’Heureux, R.N.,

As a pediatrician and a state legislator, the health of our youngest community members is of paramount importance. The current and future success of our state depends on children getting a healthy start in life.

A bill currently before the Maine Legislature, LD 798, would require all children to be adequately immunized before entering public school, with exceptions only for certain medical conditions. At a recent public hearing for this bill, hundreds of people — experts, advocates and everyday Mainers — came to the State House to share their insight and opinions. One of the greatest takeaways from the testimony shared was that we need to make sure our understanding of what qualifies patients for a medical exemption is up-to-date with the latest, best science available. This is something that can and should be explored further as we go through the legislative process.

But for now, we thought it would be best to address concerns around the safety and efficacy of immunizations.

To protect a community from spread of highly infectious diseases such as pertussis (also known as whooping cough) and measles, a community-wide immunization rate of more than 95 percent is needed. Of Maine’s 16 counties, five are below that threshold for kindergarten students and eight are below that threshold for seventh-graders. For the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, seven Maine counties are below the critical 95 percent threshold.

The World Health Organization recently listed immunization hesitancy as one of the 10 leading threats to global health. Maine’s immunization rate has fallen over the last 25 years from being one of the best in the nation to middling or worse. Maine is one of only 17 states that allows children to enter school even if parents decline to immunize children because of personal choice. This results in pockets where there are many children, particularly entering kindergarten, who are not immunized or under-immunized. With these pockets comes a significant increase the the likelihood of disease outbreaks. In 2017, Maine saw its first case of measles in more than 20 years. So far this year, there are more than 200 confirmed measles cases in three separate outbreaks; just a few years ago, there were well under 75 cases annually in the whole U.S. 

Vaccine hesitancy has a long history, going back to the late 1700s when the smallpox vaccine was first introduced. In his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin reflects on how he did not allow his son to be immunized because he worried about the procedure’s safety. When his son died of the disease, Franklin was devastated and reproached himself for not having his son immunized. 

In the last 50 years, there have been unsubstantiated concerns about vaccines — most recently, fears that autism is caused by thimersol, a mercury-based preservative, and by the MMR vaccine. 

Both of these claims have been extensively studied and found to be unsupported. Additionally, mercury has been removed from all children’s recommended immunizations except for multiple-dose vials of the flu vaccine. The concern about the MMR vaccine has a long, sad tale. It all started with an article published in England in 1998 linking the vaccine to autism. Multiple studies tried to replicate the author’s findings, but all failed to do so. Even worse: the author lost his medical license because of many problems in how the study was conducted, and the medical journal ultimately retracted the article. Still, this concern based on bad science persists.

There is also concern about immunization ingredients that aid in stability and enhance effectiveness. These are added in small quantities to assure that the vaccine is effective, safe, and can be reliably stored until administration.

Why do we belabor these points? Immunizations are safe, and they work. There has been a dramatic decline in life-threatening childhood diseases because of immunizations. 

With the introduction of immunizations for the most common types of meningitis, cases of this life-threatening illness have dropped by more than 90 percent. We have not seen anyone in our community with acute polio since we were toddlers; there have been no transmitted cases in the U.S. since 1979. And no chickenpox-related infant deaths have been reported in our community in some 20 years thanks to that immunization.

This is why we strongly support LD 798. If this bill is passed, Maine would be able to surpass the 95 percent level of community immunity needed to control the spread of highly infectious preventable disease such as measles, chickenpox and pertussis. There is no reason for our children or their parents to worry about contracting the same life-threatening, serious illnesses we faced decades ago when there is a proven, safe method of prevention.

Senator Brownie Carson represents the good people of Senate District 24, which includes the communities of Brunswick, Freeport, North Yarmouth, Pownal and his hometown of Harpswell. 

Dr. Larry Losey is a pediatrician who has practiced in Brunswick since 1979.

Labels: , , ,

Ku Klux Klan in Maine

This is my report by Maine Writer, published in the Bangor Daily News "Franco-American News and Culture".  

Additionally, an echo report about the potential auction of a Ku Klux Klan coin, removed from the sale. *
Burning of Old South Church by the No Nothings, in Bath Maine by John Hilling

LEWISTON, Maine – A historical overview by James Myall, presented during a seminar on March 19th in Lewiston, described how Franco-Americans were subjected to immigration discrimination during the 19th and into the 20th century. Anti-immigration discrimination campaigns were led by the No-Nothings and the Ku Klux Klan. Myall writes a Bangor Daily News blog at this site here.

Myall included news reports and pictures he obtained during his research.

Three resources I often refer to in my writings about the discrimination demonstrated towards French-Canadian immigrants and Franco-Americans are:
1.  The Silent Playground, by Ross and Judy Paradis of Frenchville, Maine published in Voyages: A Maine Franco-American Reader, pp 428-440.

2.  Réveil-Waking Up French the Repression and Renaissance of the French in New England, a documentary film by Ben Levine.

3.  Remarks of Severin M. Beliveau: 20th Biennial conference of the American Council of Quebec Studies, in Portland Maine on November 3, 2016 published in Hiver/Winter 2017, Vol. 38 # 4 “Le Forum, pp 19-20. (See excerpts below.)

An anti-Catholic riot that occurred on July 6, 1854, in Bath Maine, was one of a number that took place in coastal Maine in the 1850s, led by the No Nothings.

In fact, the horrible riots spread to other areas, including the tarring and feathering of Father John Bapst, in the town of Ellsworth, Maine. The violence in the 1850s was associated with the rise of the Know-Nothing Party.

Although the Ku Klux Klan is most often associated with white hooded mobs who preached white supremacy, the revival of the organization in Maine during the 1920s, was also anti-Catholic. In fact, from news reports of the Klan’s activities, it was evident that the organization was opposed to the burgeoning number of French-Canadian and Irish immigrants who were living in Maine and working in the industrial cities, especially in Lewiston, Waterville, and in York County, in Southern Maine.

In fact, the Klan incited the historic history of contentious relations between Maine’s Protestant ‘Yankee’ population (those descended from the original English colonials), and Irish-Catholic and French Canadian Catholic newcomers, who were immigrating in large numbers. The rise of the Know-Nothing Party in the 1850s even resulted in the burning of a Catholic church in Bath, Maine, and the tarring and feathering of the Jesuit priest Father John Bapst, in Ellsworth.

Following is an excerpt from Beliveau’s presentation:

“In Maine, the Franco-Americans were the targets of hate in communities like Rumford, where I grew up. My father, who was also a lawyer, Albert Beliveau, who became the first Franco-American to serve on the Maine Supreme Court, told me often about watching a cross burn above the Androscoggin River, near Rumford, on a ledge overlooking the tenement buildings occupied by Franco mill workers. This was the 1930s, when Owen Brewster, a Klan member, was first elected the Governor Maine, then one of its senators in Washington, and where, also, in Portland, the KKK held one of the largest parades in Portland’s history, promoting white supremacy and anti-immigration policies.”

Although the caustic history of Klan activities and anti-immigration demonstrations against French-Canadian immigrants may seem distant, the discrimination simmering against new French speaking immigrants was evident in remarks by the recently resigned Shane Bouchard, who abruptly left his position as Mayor of Lewiston, a move caused, in part, by racial remarks.

See my letter to the editor at this link here:

“Shane Bouchard and the Ku Klux Klan text message gives more evidence to the well known quote about those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.”

Beliveau included an optimistic overview about how Franco-Americans have been able to overcome the past. “Nevertheless, there have been many changes. Maine is becoming a Franco-American homeland. Maine is the most ‘French’ state in New England.”

Ceux qui ne peuvent pas se souvenir du passé sont condamnés à le répéter.

Myall’s presentation was given during an evening program on March 19, 2019, held at the University of Southern Maine Lewiston Auburn College (USM LAC) and it was sponsored by the Franco-American Collection.

*A Thomaston Maine auction house was advertising a Ku Klux Klan token on its website, but pulled the item from a planned auction. The token, estimated to have a value of between $40 and $60, was listed on the Thomaston Place Auction Galleries website as a “Ku Klux Clan (sic) Token” and scheduled for an online auction starting Wednesday morning, but within a couple hours of a Portland Press Herald reporter’s inquiry about the item, it was removed.

Described as the size of a half-dollar coin, the token had the images of an eagle and a fiery cross on one side, which are thought by some scholars to be symbols of the founding of the KKK’s “second movement”, more than 100 years ago, in Georgia. 

Alongside the symbols were with acronyms SYMWAO and MIAFA, which stand for “Spend your money with Americans” and “Made in America for Americans” or “My interests are for Americans,” according to the description. On the other side, there is a KKK slogan, Non Silba Sed Anthar, intended to mean “not self, but others.”

Kathi Winchenbach, executive assistant at the auction company, said in an email Tuesday afternoon that the item had been removed. She did not respond to additional questions, including why it was removed. Her email came two hours after a reporter asked for more information about the token.

Thomaston Place Auction Galleries handles a wide array of items for clients, include real estate, antiques and collectibles. The KKK token was to be part of an auction that includes paintings, Asian antiques, rare books, art glass, furniture, folk art and decorative pieces.

In recent years, auctions of artifacts associated with groups that promoted hate and violence, like the KKK or the Nazis, have drawn wide attention and protests, including bans in some places. 

Labels: , , ,