Maine Writer

Its about people and issues I care about.

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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.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Donald Trump cheating- The more things change, the more they remain the same

"To find a man's true character, play golf with him," 
P.G. Wodehouse

Donald Trump’s (IMO stupid!) protestations of innocence remind me of a family story. Thirty-six years ago, my Uncle Dan was invited to play golf with Trump and some young real estate executives. Halfway through the game some of the executives called Trump out for cheating. Trump went ballistic and before long was accusing them of cheating.

Ancient history? Recent events reminiscent of that saying: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Twenty-eight months into his presidency and 10,000 verifiable lies later, we are enduring a president whose moral compass is oriented around his insatiable ego and its need to acquire power and money. The record will show he has zero ability to craft public policy or to implement it. 

We have learned from Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel report that Team Trump was interested in colluding with the Russians. 

Trump’s own lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has even proclaimed it was OK (?!) for Trump to receive support from a foreign adversary.

Furthermore, Trump was not actually found innocent of obstruction. Because of Justice Department practice, Mueller could not indict Trump – big difference.

Back to the golf game. Uncle Dan listened to the squabble for a few minutes, then excused himself to the clubhouse on the pretext of making a phone call. He never returned. He said, “Why listen to a man lie about cheating in a game whose purpose is to have fun?”

I submit to you that today Americans are not having fun or accomplishing anything.  Instead, we are mired in an endless argument about cheating with a man who has been cheating all his life – just ask his business associates, and his employees and not to mention his wives.

The more things change, the more they stay the same … unless you decide to walk away.

Richard McWilliams, Yarmouth Maine

A Maine Writer reference for this opinion is:
Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump, by Rick Reilly

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Thursday, May 30, 2019

Donald Trump and the company he chooses - echo opinion letter

Echo opinion letter published in the Taunton Daily Gazette, a Massachusetts newspaper.

Donald Trump is a poor excuse of a president. Trump prefers dictators and murderer tyrants to aligning with accomplished world leaders.
In my lifetime, there have been presidents I have admired and disliked, but never have I ever felt such disgust for a president as I do for our present president.

There is an old saying my dad used now and then when he disapproved of a person’s character. “You can tell a man who is a boozes by the company he chooses, so the pig got up and slowly walked away.” Donald Trump admires people like Vladimir Putin, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman  (Kim Jong Un, too)... and, the list goes on.

On a daily basis Trump spews his hate, on Twitter mostly, toward Democrats. Trump, for most of his lifetime, was a Democrat, not that the Democratic party misses him. (Good riddance!)

Hopefully this hateful, supercilious, bigoted, poor excuse of a president will not serve a second term.

Myra Dexter from Taunton, Massachusetts

Vote Blue No Matter Who

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Robert Mueller gave the Shakespeare conclusion - "dear Brutus..."

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” *
― William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

In my opinion, if Americans can't see the truth in the message below, delivered by special prosecutor Robert Mueller, then we deserve what we have in the failed and flawed leadership of the evil Donald Trump.

Mueller:  …[I]f we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment. … Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime [add: because to do so would violate due process principles], it does not exonerate him.’ (italics added)..(published opinion by Lani Davis, in The Hill...)

And Mueller's refusal on Wednesday to state legal conclusions on the overwhelming evidence of obstruction of justice in his report, he was actually adhering to due process principles. He passed the baton to where it belongs: the impeachment and removal power uniquely possessed under our Constitution by the U.S. Congress.

Special counsel Robert Mueller, in his first public statement about his Russia probe on May 29, did not exonerate Donald Trump. He, instead, explained why his office never indicted him for the crime of obstruction of justice.

"As set forth in the report, after the investigation, if we had confidence that the president did not clearly commit a crime, we would have said so," he told reporters at the Justice Department Wednesday.

*Prophetic Shakespeare.....

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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Update on Notre Dame de Paris published in France Today

Images of Notre-Dame de Paris engulfed in flames caused shock and dismay the world over. A month on, however, we now know that this beloved landmark will be fully restored to its former glory – even if we don’t yet know what form the renovation will take. Caroline Harrap reports…

It was a moment that many will never forget – the sight of Notre-Dame’s iconic spire collapsing into the flames beneath. 

In Paris, where crowds had convened on the bridges and along the banks of the river, people looked on aghast. Across France, viewers stared at their television screens in disbelief. 

Around the world, others frantically followed the story online.

While the lead-covered spire was a more recent addition to the 12th-century cathedral, having been incorporated during the major restoration of the mid-1800s, its familiar silhouette was an integral part of the Paris skyline. 

Moreover, it was certainly one of the most famous symbols of the French capital.

“I think everyone was just in shock really,” says long-time Left-Bank resident Denise Grassart, who witnessed the blaze firsthand. “For my part, I really had the impression I was living in a historical moment. It was almost surreal, in the truest sense of the word.

“We finally dragged ourselves away from the scene, while the fire was still raging, around midnight. I didn’t want to leave, for fear the whole structure would collapse. Miraculously, though, much of it has been saved, and we now know it will rise again.”

Universal outpouring of grief 
One of the France's most beloved landmarks, this masterpiece of medieval architecture dates back more than 850 years. Located right at the heart of Paris, on the small island called the Île de la Cité, construction began under the reign of Louis VII in 1163. However, it would be almost 200 years before the cathedral was fully completed.

Since that time, the building has been the scene of many major events in French history. As well as the crowning of King Henry VI of England in 1431, Napoleon’s coronation took place there in 1804. Later, it was immortalised in Victor Hugo’s 1831, novel, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, which would eventually be turned into an award-winning animated Disney film.

Notre Dame Cathedral is the probably the most visited monument in France, even ahead of the Eiffel Tower, attracting some 12 million people a year. 

Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that there was such a global outpouring of grief – with hundreds of millions of Euros pledged – and that, only days later, French President Emmanuel Macron had vowed to rebuild Notre-Dame within just five years.
“We now know that our wonderful cathedral, flagship of Christianity and part of the world’s cultural heritage, will be restored after the terrible blaze that destroyed its roof and spire but preserved the rest of its structure,” says Michel Picaud, president of the Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris, a charitable association devoted to raising funds for the cathedral.

“This dreadful event triggered a wave of sympathy and of generosity not only in France but all over the world. This gives the team in charge of the restoration a chance to do it in the limited period of five years, as targeted by President Macron. It will also be an opportunity for an extensive range of trades and craftspeople to bring back this iconic cathedral to its perennial glory.”

As a matter of fact, a month on from the event, reaction seems to have turned from one of global grief over the fire (the cause of which is still being investigated) to relief that it wasn’t as catastrophic as first feared

Not only did the cathedral’s main structure, façade and two towers all survive, the renowned rose windows appear to be intact too – as does the famous organ. Many of the priceless artefacts were also saved, including the Crown of Thorns purportedly worn by Jesus Christ during the crucifixion, as well as a large number of artworks.

However, there is no doubt that a gargantuan task lies ahead. Though the cathedral is still standing, the extent of the damage is not yet known, and it has been estimated that it will take at least four months to fully secure the site.

As well as creating a temporary roof, a huge wooden framework will be erected in order to support the main structure, while most of the stained-glass windows will need to be removed and put into storage. Then there is the clean-up operation. Many of the ancient oak beams in the vaulted roof – which was one of the oldest of its kind – crashed down in front of the altar, leaving a huge pile of charred debris among the rubble. In addition, the lead from the roof melted into the walls – and, of course, that’s not to mention the ensuing water damage.

“For now, the priority will be to make the structure safe,” says Paris-based architect Michael Heurtevant, who has worked on the restoration of many historic buildings in the city.

“We then enter a process of consolidation and cleaning that will take several months. The urgency will be to structurally reinforce parts of the weakened cathedral as, until then, unsecured walls and vaults remain vulnerable to high winds. Also, assessing the damage, beyond the visually obvious, might take extra time. For instance, the mechanical resistance in parts of the limestone construction could have been weakened by exposure to extreme heat and then water.

“It is only after all of this that the diagnostic phase, led by architect Philippe Villeneuve, can begin – and we can start to know more about how the renovation itself could take shape.”

Certainly, though we can now rest safe in the knowledge that the cathedral will be rebuilt, the form of the restoration is still the subject of much conjecture.

While the purists wish to see it renovated exactly as it was before the fire, others feel it should be reimagined for a new chapter. This latter view gathered further credence when it was announced that an international competition would be held to design the new spire– leading to speculation that an entirely different design might be used. “The French do like to provoke culturally, as they did with the Pompidou Centre and the Louvre’s glass pyramid,” explains best-selling author Stephen Clarke, who has written extensively about the city. “So we can’t rule out a surprise.”

On the other hand, several leading restoration experts have expressed their desire to see the cathedral recreated as it was previously and the integrity of the building preserved. They have also pointed out that this would be the quickest and easiest way to restore the cathedral – an important consideration if it is to be rebuilt in five years, as per Macron’s wishes, in time for the 2024 Olympics. “We have all the means necessary to restore exactly what was,” says Frédéric Létoffé, co-president of the Groupement des Entreprises de Restauration de Monuments Historiques, whose specialist artisans and craftspeople will be central to the renovation work. “We have the knowledge, the skills and the three main materials needed: the stone, the lead and the wood. So, the objective of five years can be reached, but it will require everyone working together to achieve this.”

Others have suggested that perhaps a compromise could be reached – where the integrity of the existing structure is respected but new materials are incorporated. For example, the roof could be constructed with steel, concrete or laminated beams – removing the difficulty and expense of finding enough large oak trees.

“If laminated wood was used, it could also have the added benefit of making the building more eco-friendly,” adds Michael Heurtevant.

Whatever the outcome, as well as reviving many ancient skills, the renovation will inevitably draw on the latest technologies too. 

For instance, the experts will be able to call on the extensive 3D mapping done by the late art historian, Andrew Tallon, which included more than 50 different viewpoints of the cathedral. The massive edifice was also chronicled in minute detail for the video game, Assassin’s Creed: Unity,even down to individual bricks.

“Notre-Dame is certainly well documented and could be rebuilt perfectly, stone by stone, but significant thought should be given to whether this is the right approach for the building,” concludes Vicky Saunders, managing director of BTP Architects near Manchester, England, which has worked on many prominent listed buildings and was a consultant on the popular BBC TV show, DIY SOS.

“Our view is that the external appearance should be faithfully restored with all the elegance and majesty of the original cathedral. However, the fire is now a layer of the building’s history and it would be appropriate for the restoration to reflect this in some way.”

In any event, back at the site of Notre-Dame, there’s a new sense of optimism that whatever form the renovation takes, France’s beloved cathedral will be back. There was perhaps no better symbol of this than the moment when the statue that once topped the fallen spire, a copper sculpture of a cockerel, was recovered from the rubble “battered but apparently restorable”. A phoenix from the ashes indeed.

For more information on how to donate to the appeal, go to or


Mitch McConnell disapproval PPP poll - "time for someone new"

The Hill Poll: only 33% of Kentucky voters approve of McConnell reported in The Hill by Tal Axelrod 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) approval rating is underwater in Kentucky, ahead of his reelection race next year, according to a February 2019, Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey.
About 33 percent of registered Kentucky voters polled approve of the job McConnell is doing, while 56 percent disapprove and 11 percent are unsure. 

Additionally, only 32 percent think McConnell “deserves to be reelected,” and 61 percent think it’s “time for someone new.”

The PPP poll was conducted on behalf of the Ditch Mitch Fund, an advocacy group that opposes McConnell. McConnell’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

Despite low approval ratings, McConnell holds a razor-thin lead against a generic Democratic opponent. About 45 percent of Kentucky voters say they would vote for the Senate leader and 42 percent say they would support a “Democratic opponent.” About 12 percent are unsure.

Exactly half of the people surveyed in the PPP poll said they supported McConnell in 2014.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is reportedly courting former Marine fighter pilot and recent congressional candidate Amy McGrath to challenge McConnell next year. 

Steven Cox, a Kentucky health care advocate, already declared his candidacy in the race.

McConnell consistently polls poorly but has been serving in the Senate since 1985. Morning Consult found last month that the Kentucky Republican was the third most unpopular senator in the country, with 47 percent of Kentuckians disapproving with his job performance. He was only more popular than Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who retired, and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who was voted out of office.

The Senate leader’s approval rating nationally is also underwater, with a Hill–HarrisX poll showing last month that 40 percent of Americans view McConnell unfavorably, while 28 percent have a favorable view.

Accuracy of this poll is noteworthy- The PPP poll surveyed 748 registered Kentucky voters from Feb. 11 to 12 and has a margin of error of 3.6 percentage points.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Existential commentary about truth - an echo essay from Texas

"....truth is an organic need.....both the most human and divine thing about us"....echo opinion published in the Dallas Morning News*
Truth needs another hero like George Orwell
Truth is a writer's first responsibility, to conquer the lie, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said.

Our need of truth is "more sacred than any other need," Simone Weil wrote. 

A compulsion, Aristotle taught, rooted in human nature, our need to hear and know the truth is ineradicable. 

It's why there are lies, because of our desire for truth.

It's why the loss of the arts and crafts of truth (the decay of literature, the demise of journalism) is a grave social problem, even existential, something more than economic, political or cultural. Because truth is an organic need, both the most human and divine thing about us.

The external threats to truth, of course, are familiar: shifting markets, the short-term logic of profit, aesthetic and moral tastes deadened by pop cultures and politicians, themselves merely instruments of profit. These are the tolls taken on our culture's guardians of truth. 

Newspapers, writers, those with public voices have been changed into something else. Most have been refitted to more lucrative business models or perished; survivors have been made into mere cashiers of influence.

Yet, there are dangers to truth that are equally deadly, and maybe more so, insofar as they go unnoticed. Not bias, but something else: it's the self-inflicted, unspoken temptation to write "sentences that sell," as Mark Thompson of The New York Times put it. 

This desire to be liked, to be hired, to be thought sufficiently "woke," is primevally serpentine, the Luciferian desire to shine. 

At the core of our cultural demise lies narcissism, that so many of us are untruthful for likes, for gigs, for ego.

Which is why we who write need a new hero to exemplify truthfulness. We need a hero who shows us how to resist those forces internal and external bidding us to betray truth. A hero like George Orwell, obscure as that may sound. 

After reading again books like 1984 and Animal Farm, I think him now something like a prophet or patron saint, a writer whom every writer should read.

This summer marks 70 years since the publication of 1984. Dorian Lynskey's fascinating new book, The Ministry of Truth, a "biography" of 1984, makes a similar appeal. He says Orwell's classic is a book "we turn to when truth is mutilated." It's a book, he says, "I urge you to read again," because it "continues to define our nightmares."

He's right. In this fake news, Russian-influenced, strangely over-screened world, and before yet another presidential campaign, we should read 1984 and Orwell's other works, because truth was his theme. Born from his experience of the Spanish Civil War, of seeing firsthand the evils of communism and totalitarianism. He saw, too, his confrères on the Left turn a blind eye as blatantly as those on the Right. It's a novel born of what he called the "nightmare feeling caused by the disappearance of objective truth."

It's the nightmare of 1984. In a world of rewritten history, suspicion and hate, the first, most mortal crime is "thoughtcrime," the crime of free thought unsanctioned by the Party. 

Everyone in the book holds everyone else in suspicion, and everyone acquiesces. "Always yell with the crowd, that's what I say. It's the only way to be safe," says the character Julia, explaining her charade as a good member of the Party. This is the moral substance of 1984, and of Orwell generally, and it's why the book's still so relevant and Orwell the sort of hero we still need.

Orwell's work underlines what's at stake. "Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime IS death," wrote Winston, the main character, in a diary he thought private and secure. They're words fit for an epitaph, for ours. They show what we lose when we choose ideology, identity, institution, party or political loyalty over truth, especially in a world in which we're afraid we'll be ridiculed and ratioed.

Tribal civil society, fickle corporate mob morality, politics and politicians of misinformation screaming "fake news," dividing the nation to strengthen their base: This is what we've become. Certainly, it's not yet Oceania. We've not yet come to the gray darkness of Airstrip One nor to the terrors of Room 101. Yet we've come too close. The terrors of Orwell's fiction are not fiction. 

We're in danger again, because truth is in danger. And where are the writers, the reporters, the preachers of truth?

It's why those who work in words should read Orwell again. Before history is erased and common sense becomes the heresy of heresies.

*Joshua J. Whitfield is pastoral administrator for St. Rita Catholic Community in Dallas. He is a
 former Anglican minister. He was ordained a Catholic priest through the Pastoral Provision of Pope John Paul II in 2012. Before he became Catholic, he went to seminary in England at the College of the Resurrection. He holds degrees in theology from the University of Leeds and also Duke University. He is also the author of Pilgrim Holiness: Martyrdom as Descriptive Witness(Cascade, 2009). Whitfield is a frequent contributor to the Dallas Morning News.

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Trump Tower meeting with Russians- echo opinion letter

Obviously, William Barr misrepresented the Mueller Report because this is what the Office of Special Counsel really said:

Opinion letter published in the Press Democrat, a Sonoma California newspaper:  

Dear Editor: April 20 editorial (“No conspiracy, but no exoneration of Trump either”) began and ended with the (false) claim that Robert Mueller and his team concluded that Donald Trump didn’t collude with the Russians. This is simply not true

Here is what the Mueller report "really" said about collusion:
“In evaluating whether evidence about collective action of multiple individuals constituted a crime, we applied the framework of conspiracy law, not the concept of ‘collusion.’ 

Collusion is not a specific offense or theory of liability found in the United States Code, nor is it a term of art in federal criminal law. 

For those reasons, the Office’s focus in analyzing questions of joint criminal liability was on conspiracy as defined in federal law.”

The Mueller report did cite that, on multiple occasions, the Trump campaign did meet with Russian officials, the Trump campaign sought and welcomed Russian assistance as evidenced by the Trump Tower meeting, and its chairman shared sensitive campaign polling data with an individual associated with Russian intelligence. Collusion did take place, and the report also cited numerous examples of obstruction of justice by Donald Trump. 

Richard Neffson in Rohnert Park

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Monday, May 27, 2019

Detestable Donald Trump- a New York echo opinion

An echo opinion letter published in The Buffalo News, a New York state newspaper.

As the (#fake) “leader” of the free world and (presumably) the most powerful man in the western hemisphere, (the stupid!) Donald Trump has an obligation and responsibility to set an elevated example of morality and principle, while representing and defending the broad diversity of these United States.

Instead, he plays to the most detestable and base aspects of our societal flaws.

He fortifies and encourages the worst characteristics of our human nature to divide, separate and isolate while he promotes xenophobia and intolerance.

Regardless of how well the economy may be doing for some, or how low the unemployment rate may be (thank you President Barack Obama), overtly telling over ten thousand lies within the past two years is unconscionable, and economic well-being in no way justifies his excessive indiscretions.

I am far from alone in my concern that if the heat and pressure continue to back him into a corner and the prospects for impeachment or removal from office loom heavier and more plausible, there is little doubt that he will resort to creating a military conflict (Iran looking most probable right now) to divert the attention away from him.

If Obama had been alleged of doing any one of the things Trump has been queried of doing Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, and the Republican leadership would have to be tied down and tranquilized for fear of them injuring themselves in spasms of uncontrolled indignation.

The (the 21st century version of the right wing GOP KuKluxKlan...) Rush Limbaughs, Sean Hannitys, and Marc Theissens of the world can only hope to reduce the severity of his reckless image and his influence on the office of the presidency and our Democracy using their hollow propaganda and jargon to reach the simplest of minds in the voting public; fortunately, most of us recognize skewed partisan fabrications when we hear them.

Just as the outcome of the 2018 election was pivotal, the 2020 election results will be crucial!

I don’t want to think that the America I grew up believing in and honoring was just a transitory illusion vulnerable to the destructive capabilities of a misguided, prejudiced and greedy megalomaniac. (In other words, Vote Blue no matter who!)

James Galbo from Buffalo, New York

In MaineWriter opinion, Donald Trump is a #fake_potus!

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Why is William Barr behaving so badly?

Even The Washington Examiner is wondering, what is going on?
Shame on William Barr!  First, he legitimizes Trump's obstruction of justice reported by Robert Mueller and now his reputation is being further compromised by appearing to accept emoluments*, while being entertained at Trump hotels.

Attorney (#fakeAGBarr) General William Barr was photographed dining at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, on Wednesday night — a business his boss, Donald Trump, still owns and profits from, and one that has become something of a de facto clubhouse for business people and government officials looking to curry favor with the president.

In fact, The Washington Examiner reported how the spotting of Trump and Barr comes at a time when Democrats in Congress are fighting the Justice Department for full access to special counsel Robert Mueller's report on the Russia investigation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has accused the Trump administration of a "cover-up" that extends to Democrat-led investigations into Trump, his inner circle, and his finances, while House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., has called the attorney general Trump's "personal attorney."
Zach Everson, who reports on conflicts of interest stemming from the Trump International Hotel, tweeted that it was his “first time seeing Barr” at the hotel.

Trump was also at the hotel for an event hosted by America First Action, the Super PAC supporting his reelection. CNN’s Jeremy Diamond reported that the plan was for Trump to address “high-dollar donors” who have contributed to his reelection effort.

ABC’s Ali Dukakis snapped a photo of Barr dining at a restaurant in the hotel.

Trump broke decades of precedent by refusing to divest from the business he still owns and profits from while president. Although his sons Donald Jr. and Eric are responsible for the day-to-day management of his corporate empire, the hotel — which Trump leases from the federal government — is one of his most lucrative properties. According to a financial disclosure form released earlier this month, Trump International generated nearly $40.8 million in revenue for the president in 2018.

Not only do people who spend money at Trump’s hotel directly line the president’s pockets, creating potential conflicts of interest the Constitution’s emoluments clause is aimed at preventing, but by patronizing the Trump International on a night the president was there for a political event, Barr promoted Trump’s business. For donors, lobbyists, or foreign governments who want access to the administration, the message is clear: Patronizing the president’s business is a way to get it.

In theory, the attorney general is supposed to run the Department of Justice independently of the executive branch. 

This is a principle Trump seemed to understand back in the summer of 2016, when he made a big deal about then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch having a private conversation at the Phoenix, Arizona, airport with Bill Clinton while the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails was still open.

That meeting was also a bad look, and it resulted in Lynch saying, “I certainly wouldn’t do it again.” She tried to quell concerns by announcing she’d accept whatever charging recommendation regarding Clinton the FBI made.

But the norm of DOJ independence is being obliterated by the Trump administration. Barr’s visit to Trump’s hotel came less than two months after he sent a misleading letter to Congress announcing that Trump would not be prosecuted for obstruction of justice, despite the evidence of obstruction laid out in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report — a report he wouldn’t make public until weeks later.

Since then, Barr has conferred legitimacy upon Trump’s flimsy conspiracy theories about the entire Mueller investigation being rooted in anti-Trump bias in the FBI, and threatened to investigate Democrats who accused him of lying to Congress during his testimony about the Mueller report. 

Trump, for his part, has promised that Barr “is going to give a very fair look” to the baseless treason allegations he’s made against law enforcement officials and Democrats.

Barr has now taken things further and patronized the president’s business on the same night of an event meant to help his reelection campaign. That the Lynch-Clinton meeting was a huge scandal and Barr’s trip to the Trump International isn’t reflects the extent to which the Trump administration has normalized corruption.

*A salary, fee, or profit from employment or office.

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Sunday, May 26, 2019

Senator John McCain: a political prophet foretold Trump's tyranny

Donald Trump obviously needs a Bible tutor:  
1 Samuel 31: Honoring the Dead
Meghan McCain, the daughter of Senator John McCain, mourns at her father's the military funeral 
"Honoring the dead involves more than where a person is buried; it involves treating life with respect, with honor, with dignity. After all, we are each created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). The implication of this creation includes the way we honor the dead."

Senator John McCain grave at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD (L'Heureux photograph)
Apparently, Donald Trump carries with him some sort of *Pharoah wish*, because he acts like his mortality is never in question.  Yet, as we the faithful know, there will come a judgement day when Trump will be forced to stand in the brilliant light of our Creator and receive his justice. At that inevitable time, the spirit of Senator John McCain will be there to witness Trump's eternal banishment.  

Reported in Business Insider:  Senator John McCain recited the names of dictators during Trump's inauguration ceremony, according to Amy Klobuchar, in an echo report published in Business Insider, by Ellen Cranley. In my opinion, by framing the failed Trump inaugural speech with the echos of notable dictators, Senator John McCain was demonstrating his prophetic political wisdom.

Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar said the late Senator John McCain compared Donald Trump to notable dictators during his 2017, inauguration ceremony in Washington DC

United States Naval Academy cemetery
(L'Heureux photograph)
Klobuchar, a 2020, presidential candidate contender, told a crowd in Iowa that the Republican senator recited the names of dictators while seated onstage for the president's swearing-in.

Senator John McCain compared Donald Trump to notable dictators aloud during the president's 2017, inauguration ceremony.

Speaking in Iowa on a campaign stop ahead of the 2020 presidential election, Klobuchar said she was seated next to Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders and longtime Republican McCain, who "knew more than any of us what we were facing as a nation."

"I sat on that stage between Bernie and John McCain, and John McCain kept reciting to me names of dictators during that speech because he knew more than any of us what we were facing as a nation," Klobuchar said. "He understood it. He knew because he knew this man more than any of us did."

McCain and Trump publicly squared off multiple times since the 2016, Election. Trump jabbed at the senator for his vote that killed the Obamacare repeal and raised eyebrows by mocking his capture while serving as a fighter pilot in Vietnam, saying he likes "people who weren't captured."

McCain's August 2018, death brought the pair's fraught relationship into focus, as Trump was asked not to attend the funeral and McCain's daughter Meghan took aim at the state of the country under the president in her eulogy for the massive crowd of Washington heavyweights.

"We gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness," Ms. McCain said. "The real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly, nor the opportunistic appropriation of those who live lives of comfort and privilege while he suffered and served."
In the eulogy to her father, McCain then zeroed in with a harsh rebuke to Trump's campaign slogan.

"The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great," she said to thunderous applause.

Trump has kept up his hits against the senator, even after his death, complaining in March that he didn't get a "thank you" for approving funeral plans for McCain, despite his dislike for him.
(MaineWriter-  Donald Trump is stupid and cruel. In fact, Trump didn't realize that Senator John McCain had earned his right to have a funeral with full military honors because he was a graduate of the US Naval Academy and a retired senior Navy officer.)

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Colorado- a person who has diabetes will receive life saving insulin thru insurance plans

Echo report published in The Denver Post by Anna Staver

Colorado becomes first state in nation to cap price of insulin
Under bill signed by governor this week, diabetics will pay no more than $100 a month for insulin. PLUS- a directive to find out why the cost of insulin has increased so rapidly.

Diabetics in Colorado who use insulin to control their blood sugar levels won’t pay more than $100 per month for the drug starting in January thanks to a bill signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis on Wednesday.

“Today, we will declare that the days of insulin price gouging are over in Colorado,” Polis said in his office as he signed the bill, according to CBS Denver.

Insulin has been around for nearly a century, but the price that patients with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes pay for the drug has doubled since 2012, according to the Healthcare Cost Institute. 

The cost of insulin can creep up toward $1,000 for those whose health care coverage requires significant cost-sharing.

The sudden spike in insulin prices lead to congressional inquiries and public outrage, but Colorado is the first state to implement a cap on what its residents can be charged for the medication. The law doesn’t limit what insulin manufacturers can charge insurance companies, and it’s expected those insurers will pay the difference.

Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Avon, told The Denver Post earlier this year that the projections he saw showed the price of health care plans increasing by “a couple of cents, per person, per month.”

The new law also requires Attorney General Phil Weiser to investigate why drug manufacturers started rapidly raising the price of insulin in recent years, and it tasks the Department of Law with issuing a report of his findings by November 2020.

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Saturday, May 25, 2019

Speaker Nancy Pelosi Strong!

An echo report published in Daily Kos by Kerry Eleveld

Maestro Speaker Pelosi bests Trump every time and he never knows it until it's too late.

Maestro Speaker Nancy Pelosi has told the truth about Donald Trump.  Indeed, Trump is mentally ill equipped to lead America.  Somebody must protect the U.S. nuclear codes, because he is too crazy to be responsible for their protection.
The last time Donald Trump told Americans he would proudly shut down the work of governance in the nation's Capitol, it ended badly for him. He got a fraction of the funding he had wanted for his precious border wall, suffered a resounding political defeat, and his approvals plummeted. They are now headed in the same direction, and news of Trump's latest Washington shutdown has barely even made it to the American public.

Trump's low point for 2019 came in late January at 39.3%—exactly when he finally agreed to sign a bill reopening the government. On Wednesday, he once again signed on for ownership of governing gridlock when, in a fit of spite, he huffed out of a meeting with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, marched out to the Rose Garden, and reported back to the American people that he wouldn't be doing any of America's business as long as congressional Democrats continued their investigations into him and his administration. "You can’t do it under these circumstances," Trump said.

Actually, one can do it, just as President Bill Clinton piled up signature achievements during a presidency dominated by a sweeping four-year investigation into him, his wife, their financial dealings, and an affair he conducted with a White House intern that ultimately resulted in his impeachment, but not his removal from office. To be perfectly clear, Trump is simply choosing not to do America's business. His new 2020 campaign slogan: Trump First!

But none of this fine spectacle of American leadership would be possible without the exquisite orchestration of Maestro Pelosi, who has repeatedly plucked Trump's strings into a discordant and mesmerizing tizzy. Trump had reportedly been having trouble making the funding work for the $2 trillion infrastructure deal he had previously told the Democratic pair he would take the “lead on.” By Tuesday night, he had sent a letterto them hedging on his previous promise and warning that an infrastructure deal would only be possible if Congress first passed the North American free trade deal he had struck with Mexico and Canada. As Pelosi would later observe, Trump was already "looking for a way out."

On Wednesday morning, Pelosi ensured that Trump's way out would be politically ruinous for him, telling a reporter she believed Trump "is engaged in a cover up." Pluck. Trump was reportedly "livid" following the comment. He had likely already decided to blow up the meeting, but now he would deliver a public grievance fest that would almost certainly back him into a political corner. Sure enough, he did just that.

As former Rep. Donna Edwards told MSNBC following the (temper tantrum!) display, Trump is so routinely crazy that you Democrats can't respond to every single lunatic thing he says or does. But Pelosi tweaks him just so and at opportune moments.

"You can't do it by meeting him with every single blow, but you can do it by using language that then gets him to emote," Edwards said.

Following Trump's Rose Garden rumble, Pelosi did a series of media events. In one, she speculated that Trump had perhaps taken a pass on doing infrastructure out of "a lack of confidence on his part that he couldn’t match the greatness of the challenge before him." Pluck. In another, she took her impeachment comments a step further, saying Trump is obstructing justice "in plain sight" and "that could be an impeachable offense.” Pluck.

Trump is just where Pelosi wants him to be. The question is, has he figured that out yet? Here's what happened the last time Trump finally realized he had suffered a bruising defeat at the hands of Maestro Pelosi. Popcorn anyone?

P.S. - MaineWriter:  Below is the YouTube link to the real and unaltered source data, with Donald Trump,  in the Hollywood Access tape: 

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Fortune 500 Pioneer shrinks work force...aka "layoffs"

The company also cut another 300 workers in April, Reuters reported, noting that the reductions represent a quarter of Pioneer's workforce.

Coal miners never recovered and most likely the industry will not regain the number of jobs lost due to cuts in the use of this dirty fossil fuel.  Now, it would appear, the oil and gas industry employees are facing the same fate.

Dallas Morning News - Pioneer Natural Resources* laid off 230 employees, using police to escort people off the Irving property and promising to pack up their stuff and mail it to them. The layoffs came after 300 workers had earlier accepted buyout offers — and nearly 350 more positions were eliminated elsewhere.

In total, Pioneer has reduced its headcount more than 25% this year, the company said.

That’s a startling number, especially for a Fortune 500 company that appears to be rich and healthy — and often brags about employees being treated like family.

It’s not as if Pioneer were awash in red ink and starved for cash. It’s projecting about $800 million in free cash flow this year and plans to share much of that with investors.

Pioneer doubled its dividend a year ago and doubled it again in April. Those payments to shareholders will top $100 million annually, compared with $14 million two years ago, by my estimate.

Last year and in the first quarter, Pioneer spent about $400 million to buy back company shares. In December, the board of directors approved spending up to $2 billion on stock buybacks.

Pioneer also is building a 10-story gleaming headquarters in Las Colinas, just down the road from its current offices. 

Unbelievable because the cost of that upgrade was $217 million at the end of December, according to a company filing. Moreover, the project still isn’t finished.

Pioneer will lease the new building and pay annual rent of $33 million for 20 years, the filing said.

Does that sound like a company that has to jettison a quarter of its workforce — at a time when record low unemployment has spawned a so-called war for talent?

To put Pioneer’s cuts in perspective, consider that all oil and gas extraction jobs in the U.S. declined almost 21% a few years ago. That was the largest year-over-year percentage drop since at least 1990, and was prompted by oil prices dropping from over $100 a barrel to $44.

Pioneer reported its largest net income ever last year, $978 million. Oil and gas revenue totaled nearly $5 billion in 2018, also a record high for the company.

For the first three months of 2019, oil and gas revenue declined 10%, but net income doubled for Pioneer.

So what’s the problem? Think Wall Street.**

A year ago, Pioneer’s stock price hit $212 a share. On Thursday, it closed at just over $145. Nearly $12 billion in market value has evaporated for Pioneer investors in the past 12 months.

With Pioneer and other oil and gas companies, investors want to see a bigger payoff from the huge investments in shale plays, including in the energy-rich Permian. While Permian production has grown sharply, profits and stock prices have lagged — and cutting costs is a key piece of Pioneer’s new plan.

The goal is to trim hundreds of millions of dollars in drilling expenses, midstream costs and facilities. 

And Pioneer wants to cut $100 million from general overhead, which is why it decided to do layoffs.

Scott Sheffield, the longtime Pioneer chairman who suddenly returned as CEO in February, is pushing the cost-cutting plan. And he started in the executive suite.

“After listening to a lot of the employees and getting with the management team, the first thing we did, we asked 30% of the officers to retire,” Sheffield said this month in an earnings call with analysts.

“We’re going to a very simple structure, flattening the organization, less managers, more functional,” Sheffield said, adding that Pioneer exceeded its capital spending budget in the previous two years — and won’t miss it in 2019.

That all sounds reasonable, but why the fixation on cutting $100 million in overhead? It’s a nice round number, but what about the impact on corporate culture?

Pioneer offers terrific benefits, including a 2-to-1 match on the 401(k), free buffet lunches for full-time employees and flexible schedules that let workers skip Friday afternoons. 

In The Dallas Morning News’ annual Top 100 Places to Work, Pioneer has been a 10-time winner — placing among the best in every year of the competition.

Last year, it also was recognized for having the best benefits as voted by employees.

Some workers who lost their jobs said the severance package was generous. In a quarterly filing, Pioneer estimated severance and related costs at $140 million to $180 million. It’s unclear how that was distributed among employees and the number who qualified for equity awards with accelerated vesting.

At the end of 2018, according to a company filing, Pioneer had 3,177 employees. Today it has about 2,300, a spokesman said. So it's eliminated 877 jobs since the end of the year.

Pioneer Natural Resources Company is a company engaged in hydrocarbon exploration. The company is organized in Delaware and headquartered in Irving, Texas.

**The message: The CEO and board are determined to pay more to shareholders even if it means cutting more people.

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Canada opinion echo - In Trump's face about Iran

Canada should reopen its embassy in IranCanada has zero interest in war with Iran, echo opinion, May 21, 2019 in The Star, published in Toronto.

Indeed Canada has no interest in a U.S.-led war with Iran. Moreover, Canada can take the following steps to begin a rapprochement with Iran and act as a peace-broker.

First, Canada can reopen the embassy in Iran that Stephen Harper closed. It’s exactly at times like this when Canada needs an embassy in Iran to help mediate between nations on the brink of war.

Second, Canada should join Iran in calling for an immediate end to the relentless bombing of Yemen and end its $15-billion arms arrangement with Saudi Arabia. 

Third, Canada should engage in commerce with Iran in contrast to the policy of economic strangulation favoured by the U.S. Donald Trump administration, which does not work and is only causing unnecessary suffering. 

Canada can prevent war by partnering with Iran to advance peace.

Ali Manji, Thornhill, Ontario

MaineWriter- In other words, the echo opinion describes the incompetent Donald Trump, a failure at international diplomacy. Canada can say "in your face, tRump!"

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Friday, May 24, 2019

Donald Trump and his shoe shine cult

This echo article was published in The Hill

In The New Yorker cover titled 'The Shining' shows Senator Lindsey Graham (Whatever Happened to Lindsey Graham?*), Senator Mitch McConnell, #fakeAGBarr, who are dutifully polishing Trump's shoes. 

The upcoming cover of The New Yorker magazine.  On Twitter, the magazine revealed the "shoe shine" cover. 

The cover, titled “The Shining” was drawn by Barry Blitt. 

Although the cover pictures does not show Trump’s face, as he has his head raised, but shows each of the three men looking unhappy to be doing the task.

Both Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham are prominent supporters and defenders of Trump. They have both become Trumpzi cultists, throughout Trump’s time in office.

#fake Barr faced criticism for how he handled special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Democrats alleged the (#fakeBarr) 4-page memo he released outlining the principal #fake conclusions from Mueller’s more than 400-page report was insufficient and “misrepresented” the full report.

Moreover, #fake Barr opted against showing up to testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee, because he is a coward.

The New Yorker has used previous magazine covers to take shots at #stupid_Trump, recently showing him “walled in” during a prolonged government shutdown.

Another cover from March of 2018, also drawn by Blitt, shows Trump nude behind a lectern while taking questions from the media.

*"The “Little Jerk"- Once defined by his loathing for Donald Trump, but (what happened?) Lindsey Graham is now all-in for the (stupid) president. Why? "....has a politician ever debased himself more in public, than Lindsey Graham...?"

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Thursday, May 23, 2019

Obstruction of Justice by Donald Trump are "thousandfold" more than anything in the past

"Trump is a compulsive liar"....
Donald Trump is guilty of serial documented occasions when he has deliberately obstructed justice.

Does obstruction of justice sound familiar? “The thing that's so appalling to me is that the president, when this whole idea was suggested to him, didn't, in righteous indignation, rise up and say, get out of here, you're in the office of the president of the United States. How can you talk about blackmail and bribery and keeping witnesses silent? 

This is the presidency of the United States. But my president didn't do that. He sat there and he worked and worked to try to cover this thing up so it wouldn't come to light.”
Evidence of Donald Trump directing obstruction of justice is enough to begin impeachment.
Actually, it’s Republican Rep. Lawrence Hogan who said it in 1974, in the House Judiciary Committee.

He was the only high-minded Republican representative to vote to impeach President Richard Nixon.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler has subpoenaed former White House counsel Don McGahn, seeking testimony and documents related to the committee’s investigation into obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump. 

In fact, Nadler also subpoenaed the Justice Department for the uncensored copy of the Robert Mueller report, and requested that Mueller testify before the committee.
Paul Rosenzweig, who served as counsel to Ken Starr, (who recommended the impeachment of President Bill Clinton), said Trump’s attempts to obstruct justice are a “thousandfold” more than anything Clinton did.
Trump is a compulsive liar. The Washington Post has documented evidence, that as president, he has made more then 10,000 false or misleading claims.

At a political rally in Wisconsin, as his crowd booed and screamed; Trump described a hideous scenario that he insists Democrats approve of:
Evil tRump falsely claimed.....
(Lies!) Ugh.....
“The baby is born, the mother meets with the doctor, they take care of the baby, they wrap the baby beautifully and then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby.” He then made a chopping motion with his hand.

Larry Larsen, Mandan, North Dakota, an echo opinion letter to the editor.

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Donald Trump adds farmers to the the exit door line up

Paul Krugman echo opinion published in East Oregonian newspaper:

Economists, reports Politico, are fleeing the Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service. 

Six of them resigned on a single day last month. The reason? They are feeling persecuted for publishing reports that shed an unflattering light on Trump policies.

But these reports are just reflecting reality (which has a well-known anti-Trump bias). Rural America is a key part of Donald Trump’s base. In fact, rural areas are the only parts of the country in which Trump has a net positive approval rating. But they’re also the biggest losers under his policies.

What, after all, is Trumpism? In 2016 Trump pretended to be a different kind of Republican, but in practice almost all of his economic agenda has been GOP standard: big tax cuts for corporations and the rich while hacking away at the social safety net. The one big break from orthodoxy has been his protectionism, his eagerness to start trade wars.

And all of these policies hurt farm country.

The Trump tax cut largely passes farmers by, because they aren’t corporations and few of them are rich. One of the studies by Agriculture Department economists that raised Trumpian ire showed that to the extent that farmers saw tax reductions, most of the benefits went to the richest 10%, while poor farmers actually saw a slight tax increase.

At the same time, the assault on the safety net is especially harmful to rural America, which relies heavily on safety-net programs. Of the 100 counties with the highest percentage of their population receiving food stamps, 85 are rural, and most of the rest are in small metropolitan areas. The expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, which Trump keeps trying to kill, had its biggest positive impact on rural areas.

And these programs are crucial to rural Americans even if they don’t personally receive government aid. Safety-net programs bring purchasing power, which helps create rural jobs. Medicaid is also a key factor keeping rural hospitals alive; without it, access to health care would be severely curtailed for rural Americans in general.

What about protectionism? 

In fact, the U.S. farm sector is hugely dependent on access to world markets, much more so than the economy as a whole. American soybean growers export half of what they produce; wheat farmers export 46% of their crop. China, in particular, has become a key market for U.S. farm products. That’s why Trump’s recent rage-tweeting over trade, which raised the prospect of an expanded trade war, sent grain markets to a 42-year low.

It’s important to realize, by the way, that the threat to farmers isn’t just about possible foreign retaliation to Trump’s tariffs. 

One fundamental principle in international economics is that in the long run, taxes on imports end up being taxes on exports as well, usually because they lead to a higher dollar. If the world descends into trade war, U.S. imports and exports will both shrink — and farmers, among our most important exporters, will be the biggest losers.

Why, then, do rural areas support Trump? A lot of it has to do with cultural factors. In particular, rural voters are far more hostile to immigrants than urban voters — especially in communities where there are few immigrants to be found. Lack of familiarity apparently breeds contempt.

Rural voters also feel disrespected by coastal elites, and Trump has managed to channel their anger. No doubt many rural voters, if they happened to read this column, would react with rage, not at Trump, but at me: “So you think we’re stupid!”

But support for Trump might nonetheless start to crack if rural voters realized how much they are being hurt by his policies. 

What’s a Trumpist to do?

Trumpzism might be cracking, especially with farmers who are not wealthy and the trade war is harming their ability to trade.
Trump repeats zombie lies. A few weeks ago Trump told a cheering rally that his cuts in the estate tax have helped farmers. This claim is, however, totally false; PolitiFact rated it “pants on fire.” The reality is that in 2017 only about 80 farms and closely held businesses — that’s right, 80 — paid any estate tax at all. Tales of family farms broken up to pay estate tax are pure fiction.

Another answer is to try to suppress the truth. Hence the persecution of Agriculture Department economists who were just trying to do their jobs.

The thing is, the assault on truth will have consequences that go beyond politics. Agriculture’s Economic Research Service isn’t supposed to be a cheering section for whoever is in power. As its mission statement says, its role is to conduct “high-quality, objective economic research to inform and enhance public and private decision making.” And that’s not an idle boast: Along with the Federal Reserve, the research service is a prime example of how good economics can serve practical purposes.

Now, however, the service’s ability to do its job is being rapidly degraded, because the Trump administration doesn’t believe in fact-based policy. Basically, it doesn’t believe in facts, period. Everything is political.

And who will pay the price for this degradation? Rural Americans. Trump’s biggest supporters are his biggest victims.

Paul Krugman is a columnist for the New York Times.

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