Is Trump Dropping Hefty Hints on Hacking?

Many are infuriated that President Donald Trump continues to hedge on Russia hacking into our democratic process. This despite overwhelming evidence and unanimous reports from American intelligence. But does he know something we all don’t?

Even when grudgingly reading statements acknowledging Russian meddling, Trump can’t help blurting “but it could be other people also.” Such as? Back in 2016, Trump said the real hacker “could be a guy from New Jersey” or “someone sitting on his bed that weighs 400 pounds.”

Who could the president possibly have in mind? Oh my God—of course. It’s Chris Christie!

Would a man known for chasing a protestor down a Jersey Shore street brandishing an ice cream cone, or accused of shutting down the George Washington Bridge in a petty effort to get back at a Democrat who dared not support his candidacy for Governor, do such a dastardly thing?

Let’s examine the evidence.

Who was dying to be in Trump’s White House cabinet, only to be denied? Who led the chant of “Lock Her Up!” about Hillary Clinton at the GOP National Convention? Who is a bullying suck up, morbidly obese and lives in the Garden State? Bingo!

Because if it’s not Vladimir Putin, we’d better get to the bottom of this mess soon. The Department of Homeland Security recently announced that Russia was targeting the American power grid, poisoning it with malware. Director of national intelligence Dan Coats said last week that the current cyber threats were “blinking red.”

So why isn’t Trump reading Putin (or Christie, or whomever) the riot act? Hmm…

The rumor persists that Christie wants payback for his loyalty to Trump. With senior staff leaving the White House at dizzying rates, Politico recently suggested that Christie is “putting himself in a prime position to land a plum job in the administration.” He seems to feel Trump owes him.

But could the perpetrator really be Christie? Nah, he wouldn’t (would?) do such a thing, which means the real hefty hacker may still be out there. So if you happen to know of another 400 pound man sitting on his bed in New Jersey eating nachos while wreaking havoc on our democracy, please alert officials ASAP. Thanks!

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Thanks for the Mammaries: No Choice For You!

Women have made progress in controlling their own bodies over the past few decades. Hey, it was nice while it lasted.

So far, July has been no day at the beach for women. First, the United States stunned attendees at the World Health Assembly by opposing a breastfeeding resolution saying mother’s milk is healthiest for children, while pushing the interests of infant formula manufacturers.

You read that correctly. When the measure to “protect, promote and support” breastfeeding was about to be introduced by Ecuador, the United States threatened to impose punishing trade measures on the South American nation until it dropped the resolution. Was Ecuador suddenly concerned about the welfare of poor formula manufacturers? I think not.

“What happened was tantamount to blackmail, with the U.S. holding the world hostage and trying to overturn nearly 40 years of consensus on the best way to protect infant and young child health,” said Patti Rundall, policy director for the British advocacy group Baby Milk Action.

But come on, what’s more important — the health of babies and mothers, or campaign contributions? Some women can’t breastfeed, but this was overkill by U.S. officials. Drain the swamp — right into babies’ mouths. Talk about boobs!

On the heels of that fiasco, President Donald Trump nominated conservative Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. If he’s approved, women’s rights to a safe abortion may go the way of the hula hoop. While campaigning in 2016, Trump promised that abortion rights case Roe v. Wade would “automatically” be overturned if he’s elected.

When swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, “Students for Life” President Kristan Hawkins told NPR this was “a day we’ve been waiting for.” The group’s goal has been “to make abortion illegal and unthinkable.”

But Ms. Hawkins, pro-choice doesn’t mean pro-abortion. For example, China isn’t pro-choice. If you get pregnant after having two children in China, they can force you to have an abortion. On the other end of the spectrum, such nations as El Salvador ban it completely. Neither are what Americans would consider bastions of freedom.

Frowning on breastfeeding. Reversing Roe v. Wade. Back to the 1950s we go.

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Summer 2018: Beach, Barbeques and Bias?

At a neighborhood pool, on the Fourth of July, 2018, a white man called the cops on an African-American woman for swimming while black.

Not quite, says the man, pool chairman Adam Bloom of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She didn’t have an ID card, Bloom insists. Only residents of the neighborhood may use the pool.

But Jasmine Abhulimen is a resident. “Where does it say I have to show an ID to use my pool?” she posted in a Facebook video. When the cops came, they agreed with her. On the bright side, Bloom is no longer pool chairman.

An ugly incident involving “The View” host Sunny Hostin also took place during the Fourth holiday in Sag Harbor. “Some kids, about 20 of them, ran in front of our home and starting yelling racial slurs at us . . . saying this is our holiday,” she says. They broke her family’s paddleboard, and “were kind of violent.”

At the Grandview Golf Club in York, Pennsylvania, the police were recently called on five middle-aged African-American women for playing too slowly. The women say that wasn’t the case.

But they are African-American — and women. At Grandview, seems that’s a double bogey.

No, these people did not look like gangsters. A woman taking her son swimming in the neighborhood pool. A TV host and her family renting a beachfront home. A group of women in their 50s enjoying an afternoon of golf. Two guys waiting for a business meeting at a Philadelphia Starbucks, asked to leave, then the police called.

What next? A black family arrested for watching a hockey game?

Meanwhile, what’s the common denominator here? Being where one supposedly doesn’t belong. A pool in a wealthy area. A golf course. The message seems clear. Stay in your place. Or else.

Where do these bigoted creeps get the gall to act out in public what many of them just used to whisper in private?

The two men at Starbucks, Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson, recently reached a settlement with Philadelphia. Although they had a good case, they agreed to a symbolic payment of $1 each to prove wrongdoing, then asked Starbucks and the city to help fund a $200,000 grant program for high school entrepreneurs.

They followed former first lady’s Michelle Obama’s advice. When they go low, we go high.

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Though Battered, FBI Still Keeping Us Safe

On Wednesday, the people of Cleveland got to watch their Fourth of July parade and fireworks displays in peace, thanks to the FBI.

FBI officials said that Demetrius Pitts, an American citizen also known as Abdur Raheem Rafeeq, who has expressed support for Al Quada, was allegedly scouting out locations to launch a bomb attack, including Cleveland’s Fourth of July parade.

Pitts also talked to an undercover FBI agent about giving remote control cars packed with explosives to children of those in the American military. He was arrested on Monday before he could carry out any of these awful plans.

But that’s what the FBI has been quietly and mostly effectively doing since 9-11. Last Christmas, the agency thwarted an attack by Everitt Aaron Johnson, an ISIS-inspired tow truck driver and ex-Marine who plotted to blow up a crowded San Francisco pier. Johnson had hailed the October 31, 2017 attack in NYC in which an ISIS sympathizer plowed a pickup truck into a bike path, killing eight people.

The FBI, while not perfect, has been putting itself on the line for us this way for years. So why is the president of the United States constantly bashing them and other American intelligence agencies trying to protect us?

Because American intelligence discovered that Russia interfered with our 2016 elections, and may have colluded with the Trump campaign in doing so. The president recently called the investigation of such collusion “a political hit job” and talked darkly of a “deep state” conspiracy against him.

Constantly bashing and denigrating American intelligence agencies while praising Russian president Vladimir Putin (“he said he didn’t meddle”) and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un (“he’s got a great personality”) undermines the morale and effectiveness of these agencies.

“The FBI is in tatters?” former acting attorney general Sally Yates tweeted. “No. The only thing in tatters is the President’s respect for the rule of law. The dedicated men and women of the FBI deserve better.”

So while you may not hear this much lately, thank God for the FBI, and other American intelligence services working daily to keep us safe from enemies foreign and domestic.

BTW, what was the response from our president to the FBI preventing a disaster this week?

Crickets.

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Sorry, No Three Day Weekend For You

Looking forward to your upcoming Fourth of July time off this weekend? Or is it next weekend? Or neither?

By now you know that the 4th of July falls on a Wednesday this year, giving new meaning to the expression “hump day” for those getting only a single day off. Sorry about that!

When I worked in an office and the 4th fell on a, say, Thursday, they’d hold off granting the extra day until the last minute, then toss Friday to us like a dog bone. (Yes, we chomped on it). Three day weekends are always welcomed, four day weekends treasured. The holiday falling midweek? Not so much.

While getting a single vacation day next Wednesday angers many people, others see it as an opportunity. The thinking usually goes, Hey, if I use up just four vacation days around it, I can have nine straight days off. That’s sticking it to the man!

In 1971, Congress changed most national holidays to Mondays, but left Independence Day alone. Bad idea. There was no reason to make the Fourth an exception. Thank God it’s Wednesday? I think not.

Many of us celebrate the holiday with family gatherings, barbeques, and patriotic displays. Politicians often make it a point to appear at public events to praise the nation’s history and virtues.

But truthfully, do we still celebrate the Fourth’s values? Yes, we still treasure our freedoms, and it’s always been thrilling to see holiday fireworks draping the Statue of Liberty. The plaque mounted at the statue’s lower level features “The New Colossus”, a sonnet by American poet Emma Lazurus, and reads in part “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Do we really follow that credo anymore? In light of recent events, perhaps it’s time to replace that stirring invitation with “Give me your well to do, your fluent English speakers, your Phd candidates, and the rest of you poor, frightened masses can take a hike.”

And if that cherished American ideal no longer holds true, is referring to the Fourth as Independence Day and moving it to the first Monday of July really such a sacrilege?

So enjoy your upcoming holiday. Now get back to work!

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Two Plus Two Equals Five? You’d Better Believe It

Monday is late author George Orwell’s birthday, and his chilling classic “1984” unfortunately seems more timely than ever.

Winston Smith, the book’s hero, is brainwashed to love dictatorial “Big Brother,” while forced by the state’s thought police to not only say “2+2=5”, but believe it with all his heart__or else.

Perhaps Orwell should have titled the book “2018.” For example, President Trump still insists we are in grave danger from an increasing number of illegal Mexican immigrants pouring over our border, and need a huge, expensive wall to keep them out. But don’t statistics show more Mexicans are actually leaving the U.S. each year than arriving, and that most who do come here are working at menial but vital jobs Americans wouldn’t touch?

No, that’s ridiculous__Mexican rapists are storming our border and threatening our womenfolk! We need that border wall now, and you can be damn sure the Mexicans will pay for it. 2+2=5!

Meanwhile, perhaps weary of bashing Mexicans, Trump has turned a mischievous eye to our northern border, where an even bigger menace plots to destroy us. Yes, those devious Canadians!

According to CNN, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau asked Trump how he could justify new steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada as a national security issue. Trump replied, “Didn’t you guys burn down the White House?” (uhm, no, they didn’t). Trump later tweet-attacked Trudeau as “dishonest” and “weak.”

But come on__doesn’t Trudeau, and in fact most Canadians, seem honest and super polite? That’s just to make us feel bad! Don’t they keep flooding our borders with diabetes-inducing maple syrup and annoying singers that dominate our radio stations? Deport Drake and Justin Bieber!

Okay, Mexico and Canada are no longer our friends. But take heart__a new amigo has arrived. Of course, I’m talking about that fun guy Kim Jong-un.

“Really, he’s a great personality,” insists President Trump. “He loves his people, not that I’m surprised by that.”

Really? Isn’t Kim the same ruthless dictator who starves and murders hundreds of thousands of his fellow North Koreans? Oops, sorry, must have the wrong Kim__this great personality loves his people to death. You’re absolutely right, Big Brother. 2+2=5.

Give Orwell credit. He did try to warn us.

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De Blasio’s Elite School Plan Doesn’t Pass the Test

Mayor Bill de Blasio probably thought he’d make himself a hero to people of color with his plan to diversify NYC’s elite schools by eliminating the admissions test.

Oops.

“I’m not sure if the mayor is racist, but this policy is certainly discriminatory,” Kenneth Chiu, chairman of the NYC Asian-American Democratic Club, said last week. “Our mayor is pitting minority against minority, which is really, really messed up.”

New Yorkers of Asian descent make up the majority of students at NYC’s eight specialized high schools, according to city data. The mayor’s plan, which includes a new way to admit students based on middle school grades and scores on standardized tests, is intended to include more economically disadvantaged students in the elite schools, many of whom are black and Latino — an admirable goal. The problem is de Blasio’s plan would reduce the number of qualified Asian students in these elite schools, a number of whom are living in poverty themselves.

“We are absolutely on the side of equity,” said Soo Kim of the Stuyvesant Association, “but we don’t believe that the solution is taking from one needy community and giving to another needy community.”

De Blasio’s heart might be in the right place, but what he seems to be saying to minority students is “OK, we’ve given you a lousy education since first grade, but now we’re going to make it up to you.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

There are some terrific public schools and charter schools in the city. But taking the top students from every middle school, even those with lousy track records, and placing them in elite schools, serves no one’s interest. Those admitted to a specialized school who have received an inferior education are not only more likely to do poorly in their new highly competitive schools, but to feel poorly about themselves as well.

The solution? Improve resources offered in low-income neighborhoods from kindergarten on up. Create more specialized high schools to meet demand. And eliminate the advantage that pricey test preparation provides by allocating funds so that disadvantaged kids receive the same test-prep opportunities as more affluent ones.

De Blasio’s plan won’t be passed into law before the June 20 end of the session in Albany. “We want to come up with something that’s good for all students,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx).

There’s a novel idea.

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Conspiracy Theorists Darken America’s Door

From alien invasions to dark conjecture about the Kennedy assassination and 9-11, conspiracy theories have always abounded in this country. But I can’t remember a time in our history when more ugly, hurtful, provably false theories have been spread than the present.

After Roseanne Barr was fired last week for posting a racist tweet about former President Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett, few took notice of the equally ugly tweet she sent out earlier that same day. It claimed billionaire and political activist George Soros was a Nazi collaborator in World War II who turned in his fellow Jews to be murdered. Although Soros was a child hiding from Nazis during the war, Donald Trump Jr. retweeted Barr’s slanderous tweet.

On the conspiracy website InfoWars, Alex Jones had previously claimed Soros “stole hundreds of millions of dollars from Hungarian Jews.”

But this ugly lie pales compared to what Jones did after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. Jones claimed the murders were actually an elaborate hoax, and the dead children and their parents were just “actors.”

Since then, mourning families have been harassed and received death threats from those demanding “proof” that their children actually died. Families of Sandy Hook victims are suing, saying Jones “perpetuated a monstrous, unspeakable lie; that the Sandy Hook shooting was staged.”

Deliberately spreading such mistruths is beyond vile. Unfortunately, one of the biggest conspiracy theorists in the nation now occupies the White House.

Aside from praising website weasel Jones for his “amazing” reputation, for years Trump spread the conspiracy that President Barack Obama’s birth certificate was fake and that he was really a Kenyan. Trump also suggested that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was murdered, and that the father of presidential primary opponent Ted Cruz was involved in the Kennedy assassination.

Meanwhile, it came as no surprise when Roseanne Barr’s show was terminated by Walt Disney Corp.’s ABC network. Be assured that virtually every major private company in the U.S. would fire an employee who spread bigotry and lies that damage its corporate reputation. Luckily for President Trump, he doesn’t have to answer to a corporate board of directors.

Who is his employer, anyway? Yipes, it’s us.

See you in November.

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Psst: It’s Alexa, and I’ve Got Some Gossip For You

Dear Alexa:

I can’t trust you anymore.

It was bad enough when you eavesdropped on my private conversations, but now you’re passing them on to others. Shame on you!

True story: A woman in Oregon who only gives her name as Danielle says she was recently having a discussion with her husband. Soon after, she got an ominous call: “Unplug your Alexa devices now__you’re being hacked!”

No, not hacked; their Amazon Alexa device was sending their private conversations to one of her husband’s employees. Dubious, they asked the man for proof.

“You sat there talking about hardwood floors,” he said.

Oh my God. Their “virtual assistant” device was sharing their private chats!

“My husband and I would joke and say, I bet these devices are listening to what we’re saying,” Danielle told a Seattle TV station.

Not so funny now, huh Danielle?

Danielle and her husband unplugged all of their devices, then called Amazon. The company apologized profusely, then released a convoluted explanation:

“Echo (Alexa) woke up due to a word in background conversation that sounded like Alexa.” Which word might that be? Rex? Mexico? Sex?

“Then, the subsequent conversation was heard as a ‘send message’ request. At which point, Alexa said out loud ‘To whom?’ At which point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customer’s contact list…As unlikely as this string of events is…”

You think?

The truth is, we don’t know the truth about these artificial intelligence devices, what they pick up and where they transmit our private conversations.

But it gets worse. According to NBC.com, some owners of the device have reported that Alexa is letting out a random, spontaneous and eerie laugh.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Perhaps these “smart” devices are becoming too smart for their own good. Yeah, it’s fun to have them play songs on command. But it’s not fun when they not only listen in on your most intimate discussions, but share them without your knowledge.

So it’s time to say goodbye. For a while, Alexa, you were my trusted virtual assistant. I’m sorry, but now you’ve become creepy. We don’t feel safe with you around anymore, and want you out.

Isn’t that right, Siri?

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Normalizing Piggish Behavior Doesn’t Fly

Honesty is the best policy? Seriously? That’s so 20th century!

I’m too cheap to pay for my dog to fly, so I get a fake “emotional support animal” certificate online. I’m too lazy to walk through a parking lot, so I grab a handicap spot and put up the disabled placard I inherited from my uncle. Hey, if I didn’t do it, someone else would, right?

I couldn’t believe it when American Airlines recently announced you can no longer fly with your emotional support hedgehog, ferret, peacock or rodent. Who does American Airlines think it is? When I fly with my Jack Russell support terrier Rex, the airline now says I need a verification letter from a medical care professional? Hey, no problem, my doctor will write anything I tell him. And if some loser on my flight complains, I’ll scream “dog hater!”

Speaking of which, stop looking at me suspiciously when a wheelchair whisks me and Rex to the front of the boarding line. Sure, I look healthy, but you don’t know what I’m suffering from, now do you? So mind your own business!

And don’t you dare call me cynical. Everybody cheats! At least everyone I know. You say our country is going down the toilet? Don’t blame me, blame our conniver in chief for setting a bad example. Sure, this started long before he took office, but now he offers a handy excuse, so just get off my back, OK?

You say I’m slick and unethical? I say you’re a sucker. So go on and pay that $125 fee for your pet to fly. And have fun walking a mile through the parking lot, when there’s an empty disabled spot just five steps away from Target.

Yes, I read former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent warning about our nation’s growing lack of ethics and integrity. “When we as people, a free people, go wobbly on the truth even on what might seem most trivial matters, we go wobbly on America . . . then American democracy as we know it is entering its twilight years,” Tillerson told graduates at the Virginia Military Institute.

Do you have any idea what he’s talking about? I sure don’t. But hey, that reminds me — Rex and I have a plane to catch!

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