Wednesday, September 20, 2017

"Trump administration officials, under pressure from the White House to provide a rationale for reducing the number of refugees allowed into the United States next year, rejected a study by the Department of Health and Human Services that found that refugees brought in $63 billion more in government revenues over the past decade than they cost."

New York Times: Trump Administration Rejects Study Showing Positive Impact of Refugees

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Quoting the Washington Post article Children Under Fire

"In total, an estimated 8,400 children were hit, and more died — 1,458 — than in any year since at least 2010. That death toll exceeds the entire number of U.S. military fatalities in Afghanistan this decade."
"Among high-income nations, 91 percent of children younger than 15 who were killed by gunfire lived in the United States."

Stop the endless promotion of guns and gun culture. Please.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

My reading and eating diet.....

I have been vegetarian since 1975,  In the past year or so I have become more and more vegan in my approach to food.  I have figured out that dairy really does not sit well with me, and I was also was heavily influenced by reading The China Study about a year ago.

I have noticed that people tend to be semi-amused by my lunches.....I usually pack a bunch of carrots and kale and nuts.  I like to get all of my veggies in early in the day.  I might do something more complicated in the evening.....if I am not too lazy to do so.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Trade Lies. How Ross and Trump use free trade myths to put us in a deeper hole.

Wilbur Ross, our new Secretary of Commerce, is similar to the President in his ability to flat-out lie. He recently wrote that the US has the lowest trade barriers in the world. We don't. You can refer to the World Bank for that data....I am sure he knows about the World Bank. At least I hope so. Canada, Israel, the European Union, Japan, Indonesia, Belarus, Malaysia, Paraguay, and more all have higher tarrif rates than the U.S. Also, if you split it down to economies, instead of countries, Hong Kong and Singapore are the two most open economies in the world. These two large provinces in China support a huge amount of U.S. economy as a result.

Politicians play upon free trade myths to the detriment of our country and to our economy. Ross is correct that we havethe largest trade deficit in the world — $500bn annually. However he does not address what this really means. We have a large economy. A large trade deficit will occur in a large economy, folks.

The fact is that trade deficits mean many things. For a reference, take a look at this article at Investopedia. Trade deficits are in sync with our GDP. If we have a low GDP, one take-away is that we don't have a healthy index of product developed here in the U.S.  (The other take-away would be that we are a demand-driven economy and part of the low GDP is a result of that). Policies promoted by the current administration, and the past administrations (both Democrat and Republican) do not support the increase of product development in the U.S. At all. That would require policies that promote healthy local economies, instead of policies that promote Mega-international corporate growth.

Don't be fooled by reports that are economy is improving whenever the trade gap shrinks either. This is not a reliable tool for predicting an economic growth that benefits the majority of Americans. It is a predictor of growth for those who are super-investors, not consumers. It is not a predictor of growth for the average JoAnn or Joe, or for jobs. The recent shrink in the trade gap was due to weak imports and had nothing to do with an increase in our economic productivity. In fact it was another measure of the common person's inability to continue the same pace of spending on goods. A shrinking trade deficit also suggests a relative decline in foreign investment in the United States. We cannot afford that right now.

As reported in the Mises Wire, the trade gap is "a measure of relative consumption and foreign investment in the United States" and "a factor in the shrinking trade gap is the fact that slowing domestic demand weighed on imports. In other words, Americans apparently had less money to spend on goods and services imported from other countries. Did Americans just decide to spend more money on domestic goods instead of foreign goods? It's possible. But the more likely explanation is that Americans simply had less money to spend."

This gets to the root of truth. Don't pay attention to the spinning arms of people like Ross and Trump. Pay attention to what is right in front of our own eyes. We will become a healthy economy when policies shift away from protectionism for the wealthy. Trump has given every indication that he intends to continue to stack the deck in favor of those who have nothing to lose, and the cost for this will be paid by those who have already lost a lot.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Skillet Cornbread Biscuits

Mark has become great at making soup. Tonight we enjoyed a cabbage cauliflower soup with skillet cornbread biscuits that I hope to make more often. They were super easy, and especially good with a little bit of maple syrup. Vegan of course.

Skillet Cornbread Biscuits - Vegan
Makes 12 biscuits

  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup vegan butter (I use Earth Balance) or coconut oil - kept cold
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Stir together all of the dry ingredients. It is best to sift the baking powder and baking soda through a wire sieve if they are clumpy.

Start an iron skillet on medium low heat. I used the skillet we had sauteed vegetables for the soup and only barely cleaned it out. It should have a sheen of oil.

Chop up the shortening of your choice into tiny cubes.  Use a pastry blender to cut the shortening into the dry mix. It should be pebbly.

Mix together the almond milk and the apple cider and then pour this into the other ingredients. Mix until everything is combined but don't overmix.

Scoop out about 3 TBS at a time and form into a biscuit patty.  Put 4 to 5 patties into the skillet and use your hand or spatula to flatten them a bit. They should cook on one side for approximately 8 minutes. Check them....turn them when they have browned nicely and cook on the other side for about 6 minutes.

If you are going to make all of them, put the finished ones on a plate inside a very low heat oven. Otherwise, keep the batter in a bowl in the fridge to make more biscuits for the next day.

These are very quick. I hope you have real maple syrup .....

Monday, January 09, 2017

Statement by Major Christian Organizations on President-Elect Trump’s Policy Agenda regarding Trump's Agenda and Appointments

Statement by Major Christian Organizations on President-Elect Trump’s Policy Agenda and Political Appointments
"We are deeply troubled by choices President-Elect Trump has made for his Cabinet, particularly for Chief Strategist, Attorney General, and National Security Advisor. Stephen Bannon, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions and Michael Flynn epitomize extremist, racist and fringe world views that we believe are morally inconsistent with Christian principles of loving neighbor and antithetical to American values of “liberty and justice for all.”

To read the full statement, go here: 

Law School Faculties Oppose Sessions As Attorney General

This is the letter from 1424 faculty members from 180 different law schools in 49 states across the country urging the senate to reject the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions for the position of Attorney General of the United States:

Here is what it says:

We are 1424 faculty members from 180 different law schools in 49 states across the country. We urge you to reject the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions for the position of Attorney General of the United States.

In 1986, the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee, in a bipartisan vote, rejected President Ronald Reagan’s nomination of then-U.S. Attorney Sessions for a federal judgeship, due to statements Sessions had made that reflected prejudice against African Americans. Nothing in Senator Sessions’ public life since 1986 has convinced us that he is a different man than the 39-year-old attorney who was deemed too racially insensitive to be a federal district court judge.

Some of us have concerns about his misguided prosecution of three civil rights activists for voter fraud in Alabama in 1985, and his consistent promotion of the myth of voter-impersonation fraud. Some of us have concerns about his support for building a wall along our country’s southern border. Some of us have concerns about his robust support for regressive drug policies that have fueled mass incarceration. Some of us have concerns about his questioning of the relationship between fossil fuels and climate change. Some of us have concerns about his repeated opposition to legislative efforts to promote the rights of women and members of the LGBTQ community. Some of us share all of these concerns.

All of us believe it is unacceptable for someone with Senator Sessions’ record to lead the Department of Justice.

The Attorney General is the top law enforcement officer in the United States, with broad jurisdiction and prosecutorial discretion, which means that, if confirmed, Jeff Sessions would be responsible for the enforcement of the nation’s civil rights, voting, immigration, environmental, employment, national security, surveillance, antitrust, and housing laws.

As law faculty who work every day to better understand the law and teach it to our students, we are convinced that Jeff Sessions will not fairly enforce our nation’s laws and promote justice and equality in the United States. We urge you to reject his nomination.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

National Task Force to End Sexual And Domestic Violence Letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee

On the first full day of the 115th Congress, the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (an organization made up of state, local and tribal organizations and individuals who have fought for federal protections for survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking since the 1990’s) submitted a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, urging them to reject Sen. Jeff Sessions’ nomination for the nation’s top law enforcement post.

Open Letter to the Judiciary Committee Regarding Senator Jeff Sessions' Nomination

Dear Member of the Judiciary Committee:
We, the steering committee of the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (NTF), a coalition of national, tribal, state, and local leadership organizations and individuals advocating on behalf of victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking, write to express our opposition to Senator Jeff Sessions’ nomination for Attorney General of the United States of America. We have arrived at this position based upon a review of his record as a state and federal prosecutor, during which he applied the law unevenly, and as a U.S. Senator, during which he supported laws that would afford only some members of our society equal protection of the law. The role of Attorney General requires a demonstrated commitment to providing equal protection under the law—particularly to people who face discrimination because of their race, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or other identities. We respectfully submit that Senator Sessions’ record speaks for itself and that his history of differential application of the law carries with it the potential to harm victims and survivors of gender-based violence, particularly survivors from historically marginalized communities. Thirty years ago, this Committee rejected Senator Sessions’ nomination to the federal bench due to well-justified concerns regarding his problematic record on civil rights and troubling history of making racially insensitive statements. These aforementioned concerns, combined with his equally troubling comments on the nature of sexual assault and other concerns raised below, make Senator Sessions an unqualified choice to serve as U.S. Attorney General.  

The position of Attorney General of the United States of America, created by the Judiciary Act of 1789, bears the responsibility of representing the United States in all legal matters in which the country has an interest.[1] Chief among those interests is the affording of equal protection under our criminal, civil and civil rights laws to all members of our society. Under 28 U.S.C. §503, the President’s appointment of an Attorney General must be with the “advice and consent of the Senate.” The process ensures that the person holding the post of Attorney General is one fit for such duty, a person with the intellectual, moral and steadfast ethical capacity to uphold the laws and interests of the United States and to apply the laws equally to all members of society.  

Failure to Speak Up for Victims of Violence and Discrimination

A threshold qualification for the position of Attorney General is a deep understanding of the laws s/he is sworn to uphold. Of critical relevance are Senator Sessions’ recent comments on the nature of sexual assault in response to the release of a 2005 video in which President-Elect Donald Trump describes grabbing women’s genitalia without their consent. When asked whether he would characterize the behavior described by President-elect Trump as sexual assault, Senator Sessions responded, “I don’t characterize that as sexual assault. I think that’s a stretch. I don’t know what he meant --.”[2] Federal statutes enacted prior to Senator Sessions’ tenure as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama criminalize “abusive sexual conduct.”[3] The applicable definition for conduct prohibited by 18 U.S.C. §2244 is clearly stated: “the intentional touching, either directly or through the clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.”[4] Thus, the Senator is either unaware that abusive sexual contact is illegal under federal law, or he feigned ignorance of the laws he was sworn to uphold as an officer of the court for the sake of political expedience.

The Department of Justice has the exclusive authority to enforce the United States’ criminal statutes, including 18 U.S.C. §2244. The Department of Justice also has exclusive jurisdiction over the prosecution of domestic and sexual violence in the District of Columbia[5], most sexual assaults perpetrated in Indian Country, and concurrent jurisdiction over domestic violence offenses committed in Indian Country. Any candidate for Attorney General of the United States, particularly a former U.S. Attorney, should possess a thorough understanding of the legal definition of sexual assault under federal law and under the laws of the jurisdictions in which the Office of the U.S. Attorney has prosecutorial responsibility. The National Task Force has worked collectively for decades to ensure that legal definitions in the U.S. Code and under state and local laws make it absolutely clear that sexual assault is a crime. The job of the Attorney General is to enforce the law without fear or favor. Thus, we expect the Attorney General to enforce federal laws addressing sexual assault without introducing nonexistent ambiguity, because of the perpetrator’s identity. Senator Sessions’ cavalier statement about sexual assault leaves us fearful that he will not vigorously prosecute sexual assault crimes, a practice unbefitting of the nation’s chief law enforcement officer.  

Additionally, Senator Sessions’ poor history with respect to fighting for fairness and equity has us justifiably concerned that he will not step in to vindicate the rights of survivors of campus sexual assault and other victims of discrimination. The Justice Department has jurisdiction to enforce a myriad of civil rights statutes, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964[6] and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972[7]. These statutes bar discrimination in education based on race, color and national origin and sex (respectively) by educational institutions that receive federal funding.[8] On college and university campuses alone, we know that 20 percent of women are victimized by sexual assault.[9] Absent an Attorney General’s commitment to ensuring that educational institutions root out bias and violence and hold perpetrators accountable, victims of discrimination, harassment or violence based on sex, race and/or national origin will be unable to pursue their education in an atmosphere of educational equity. Teachers surveyed since the election have described thousands of incidents of “bigotry and harassment,” stemming from incidents involving “racist, xenophobic or misogynistic comments,” and/or “derogatory language directed at students of color, Muslims, immigrants, and people based on gender or sexual orientation.”[10] It is imperative that the person nominated to the position of Attorney General possess a demonstrated record of work and support for these impacted communities, including people of color, immigrants, Muslims and religious minorities, members of the LGBT community, and people with disabilities.  

Regrettably, Senator Sessions’ career is replete with actions taken and statements made in opposition to equitable educational access. While Attorney General of Alabama, Senator Sessions fought equitable educational access for poor, minority and disabled students in Alabama even after being ordered by a federal court to remedy the yawning financial disparities between Alabama’s richest (and whitest) and poorest school districts.[11] Additionally, his mischaracterization of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act as creating “special treatment for certain children,” and being responsible for “accelerating the decline of civility and discipline in classrooms across America,” is appalling.[12] In light of these remarks, we are concerned not only about the Senator’s willingness to use the civil rights statutes to protect survivors of both campus sexual assault and other forms of harassment and violence in the education context, but also his commitment to ensuring equal access and safety under certain programs in the Violence Against Women Act for victims of sexual and domestic violence who have disabilities.

Fair Application of Law

We have additional concerns regarding the Attorney General’s role with respect to the fair, even and unbiased application of the law. Victims and survivors come from all racial or ethnic backgrounds, faith practices, sexual orientations, and gender identities: 33.5% of multiracial women have been raped, as have 27% of American Indian and Alaska Native women, 15% of Hispanic, 22% of Black, and 19% of White women.[13] Additionally, 53.8% of multiracial women and 39.3% of multiracial men experience intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner sexual violence and/or intimate partner stalking in their lifetimes, as do 46.0% of American Indian and Alaska Native women, 45.3% of American Indian and Alaska Native men, 19.6% of Asian and Pacific Islander women (data for Asian and Pacific Islander men is not available), 43.7% of Black women, 38.6% of Black men, 37.1% of Hispanic women, 26.6% of Hispanic men, 34.6% of White women and 28.2% of White men.[14] We know firsthand that many survivors from vulnerable populations hesitate to contact law enforcement or do not trust the court system to address their victimization because they fear, based on prior experience, that any justice system response may not help them. We expect anyone who serves as Attorney General to create a Justice Department accessible to all; the 5th and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution demand no less.

Senator Sessions’ well-documented prosecutorial record[15], as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama and as Attorney General for the State of Alabama, demonstrate his propensity to inequitably apply the law to the disadvantage of historically marginalized populations. Senator Sessions’ history leads us to question whether he will vigorously seek to ensure that all victims and survivors of gender-based violence, particularly vulnerable populations and those at the margins of society, have access to vitally needed services and legal protections.

Senator Sessions’ Opposition to Protections for the Immigrant and LGBT Communities

We are concerned that the positions that Senator Sessions has taken on immigration and LGBT individuals pose grave threats to vulnerable victims of gender-based violence. His consistent support of immigration policies that increase the barriers to safety for undocumented victims of sexual and domestic violence victims pushes immigrant victims further into the shadows and harms families and communities by allowing perpetrators (batterers and rapists) to abuse, traffic and assault with impunity. During the consideration of two major comprehensive immigration reform bills, as well on various other occasions, Senator Sessions has sponsored amendments and stand-alone legislation to limit the availability of critical safety net assistance for immigrants and increase barriers to protections from abuse and exploitation by penalizing local jurisdictions that fail to engage in immigration enforcement activities. He has made no subsequent statement that indicates that he would rethink these punitive policy positions were he to be confirmed.

His failure to support, and sometimes active opposition to, progress and protections for the LGBT community leave us gravely concerned that if confirmed, he would not stand up for the rights of the LGBT community generally, and particularly with respect to LGBT victims of violence. He opposed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which is of particular concern as we witness a spike in harassment of minorities and bias crimes over the last several months. Additionally, he supported a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. He also opposed the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” Senator Sessions’ record sends the message to marginalized survivors that their experiences will not be understood, nor will their rights be protected, if he is confirmed as the Attorney General.

Opposition to the Violence Against Women Act

We are also concerned that the nominee voted against the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization of 2013. Seventy-eight out of one hundred senators supported the bipartisan bill; Senator Sessions was in the distinct minority. The 2013 Act addresses the gaps in law that were uncovered through outreach to and surveys of programs and service providers and domestic and sexual violence victims themselves.

Our analysis revealed that many survivors were not able to access services and justice to the extent they needed. Of particular note, we found that LGBT survivors often lacked access to justice and support based on their gender identity or their sexual orientation. We also learned of the deplorable lack of access to justice faced by survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault on tribal lands. VAWA 2013 included provisions that removed one of many barriers that prevent access to justice for American Indian and Alaska Native domestic violence survivors. The 2013 statute’s provisions expand and ensure that immigrant survivors can access VAWA protections, allowing survivors to come out of the shadows, help hold batterers and abusers accountable, and enable law enforcement to protect community safety. VAWA 2013’s goal of ensuring equal protection of the law was rejected by Senator Sessions, who cast the bill’s advancements toward inclusion and equal protection as political maneuvering and, in that light, voted against the bill. The Attorney General is tasked with ensuring that VAWA’s protection and programs are available and accessible to all. Senator Sessions’ opposition to the VAWA protections and his prosecutorial record leave us gravely concerned that he would not vigorously or consistently apply these protections.


The 14th Amendment provides the inalienable right that every person receive equal protection under the law.[16] Senator Sessions’ senate record of strenuous objection to protections for historically marginalized populations, coupled with his record of selective prosecutions, demonstrate his unwillingness to protect marginalized victims’ access to justice and disqualify him from holding the position of Attorney General of the United States, a position charged with the responsibility of securing justice for all. Selective application of the law and outward hostility towards victims of sexual and domestic violence in historically marginalized populations has a chilling effect on their willingness and ability to seek services and protection. It drives sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking underground, something we have made great strides to avoid. The Attorney General of the United States must be an individual committed to protecting the inalienable right of equal protection under the law to all within United States’ jurisdiction. Moreover, his minimizing comments about the nature of sexual assault call into question his dedication to enforcing the law and providing justice to victims of this serious crime.

In short, we oppose Senator Sessions’ confirmation as Attorney General of the United States and we ask you, as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to ask him direct questions regarding the concerns raised in this letter, and to advise the President, pursuant to the prescription of 28 U.S.C. §503, that Senator Sessions’ is unqualified to hold this post.

Yours truly,

The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence