Simply, Happy New Year

Awoke this morning to the dog’s barking alarm. We had a hot air balloon operating in the area and both Yaeger and Buddy are suspicious of such objects floating over our neighborhood.

Made for a beautiful photo-op, though. Once I snapped all the pictures I wanted, I came in a downloaded them to my computer.

Digital photo-suites are a very handy item to have these days because so much can be done. I have taken old, damaged, and faded pictures and brought new life to them, so others can enjoy these treasures as I do.

For this particular picture, I edited it by reducing the subjects to black-and-white and removing all the frightened birds that were flitting about as the pilot fired up his burners. Not only do I think the slightly sheer look of the central stripe of the balloon makes a specifically interesting visual, I believe the varying layers of contrails also add to the frame as they create an off-setting look at aerial travel in general.

This is officially my final photograph for the year that was — the year 2017. May you and yours have a wonderful New Year Day and a most prosperous and generous 2018.

Fortune Cookies

Mary brought home Chinese order-out, using a gift card she received for Christmas. After finishing our meal, I cracked open a fortune cookie and read my ‘fortune,’ while crunching on the broken cookie-shell.

It reads: “Your ability for accomplishment will follow with success.” Not satisfied in either my appetite or for a better ‘fortune,’ I broke open a second cookie and proceeded to munch away.

It reads: “Your kind spirit will lead to many new friendships.” Though, I still was not satisfied, I refused to have a third.

I’m afraid two fortune cookies and two ambiguous fortunes are my limit.

Another Facebook Banning

It’s another Friday, and it’s another Facebook (FB) ban for me. This time I’m in social media detention for three-days, which means it’ll be a new year before I can login and post anything.

The last time I found myself banned from FB was last week and that came because of having been hacked. This time they accused me violating their community standards after I posted a photograph from 1968 where Adam and I can be seen washing each other’s back while in the tub.

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Why my parents thought this was a picture worth taking, I don’t know. What I do know is that Adam is dead nearly eight-years and I’m not getting any younger and I want others to experience the ‘simpler days’ when we didn’t have social media fascist turning ‘innocent photo’s’ into brazen ‘child pornography.’

Meanwhile, I saw a post from a friend that showed a naked woman, her back severely arched downward and her ass jutting up in a very sexualized pose. It was a meme she shared — meaning coming from someplace else on FB — and it asked, “How would you hit it?”

As far as I know, it is still on her timeline and she hasn’t been banned, not that she should be. I’m simply referring to it because it shows the double-standard FB has imposed on its users.

Immediately, I launched a protest and jus’ like the last time this happened, I’m not expecting a reply as it isn’t only Friday, it is also a holiday. And while I’m disappointed with FB and it’s over-reaction, I’m not gonna let it get in the way of celebrating the upcoming new year.

So, with all this stated — have a safe and wonderful Happy New Year and I’ll catch you on the flip side of the holiday!

Nuts

It’s really hard to watch our eldest dog coming to the end of her life. She has dementia and – even though she dances around for her food at dinnertime – she needs hand-feeding as she’s has for the most part forgotten how to eat out of her supper bowl. I know that someday, sooner than later, I’ll have to make that final decision and lay her to rest, but not today as I watch over her, sleeping peacefully and twitching from little dog dreams.

And while on the subject of our eldest dog, I’m certain the neighbor’s think I’m nuts as I told them that I think there’s an owlet living in one of their pine trees. This came about the other evening when they texted Mary to let her know there were a couple of owls in our tree.

This is why I don’t let our eldest dog, which happens to also be our tiniest dog outside at night. She is literally small than the rabbits that invade our grass after dark and it would be easy for a hawk or owl to swoop in and carry her off.

Anyway, once outside, I could see one of the owls, but not the other. I tried to get some photo’s of it but my camera refused to focus or to flash, so when it dropped from our tree and into the neighbor’s trees, I had nothing to show for my efforts.

The next night, I when took her outside to do her business, I heard the flapping of a large bird’s wings coming from my neighbor’s side of the fence, in the area of the pine trees. Since I don’t have a cellphone capable of texting, I ask Mary to let the neighbors know that I think they could have an owl, and owlet or even an owl’s nest in their trees.

Thus, this is why I believe they may think I’m nuts. Oh, and as for my camera’s failure — a lack of a battery will do it every time.

The Humorless Faithful

Knock, knock, knock…
The door opens to smiling faces:

“Have you found God?”
“Oh, no, is God missing?”
“No, no, I mean – have you found Jesus?”
“Oh, dear, is he missing, too?”

The trio turns, walks from the porch without another word.
Don’t come to the door without having a sense of humor.
Even Jesus found the time to laugh from time to time.

Post Confessional Truth Disorder

While I fully understand the idea behind ‘confession,’ and how a Priest is an intercessor and such, I wonder if any other ‘Reformed Catholics,’ like myself, suffer at the idea of surrendering our deepest, innermost secrets to another human being. It is truly easy to go directly to God, the Son and the Holy Ghost when we have sinned, but telling aloud one’s shameful errors to another flawed being is frightening.
It leaves me wondering, does anyone else suffers from what I call “Post Confessional Truth Disorder” and the battle to keep nothing a secret?

Other People’s Writing

After reading other people’s writings from the various blog site’s I follow, I find myself dealing with a twinge of jealousy. ‘Damn, I wish I had said that,’ or ‘Man, that is a line that expresses everything.’
Then I have to return to myself, remembering that I have my own writing-style and that my thoughts are as unique as any of those other writers. Besides, who says I can’t copy a particular line down and re-contextualize it to reflect me.
After all Mark Twain supposed said, “Plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery.”

Adam’s Search for Prince Albert

Uncle Adam was known as a jokester and at a young age, I thought his favorite ‘target’ was my younger brother and his namesake, Adam. After all. it was Uncle Adam, who persuaded my brother that eating his ‘toe jam,’ would make him grow up strong.

How and why it came up, I don’t know; what I do remember is Uncle Adam convincing my kid brother that Prince Albert lived in a red tobacco tin and needed releasing before he suffocated. It would be a few more years before I learned this tale came from a popular crank call.

***

“Hello, do you have Prince Albert (a tobacco brand) in a can?” the caller would ask.

“Yes, we do.”

“Go let him out before he suffocates!,” followed by a quick hanging up of the phone.

***

The following day, Uncle Adam said he was going down to the hardware store, which also double as a sporting good store and a ‘five and dime’ department store. Adam and I begged Uncle to let us go with him, which he said yes too.

As Uncle Adam did his business, I wandered through the aisles, daydreaming about what I’d buy if I had a bunch of money. Finally, finished at the register, Uncle Adam called for us.

Having raced to the front of the store, I waited with Uncle for Adam to appear. Nothing.

After a minute, Uncle Adam, with me tagging behind, went looking for his other nephew. Rounding a corner, seated in the aisle, surrounded by one opened red canister after another was Adam, in the process of searching for Prince Albert, whom he was certain had to be in one of the many tins.

A Self-Ass-Kicking at Christmas-time

“There’s nothing like kicking my own ass,” I kept thinking as I tried to fall back to sleep. It began about half-an-hour earlier when I got out of bed, still asleep and in the midst of a night-terror.

Night-terrors, for me at least, happen when I feel stressed out. In this case it is Christmas-time and I still do not have a job and so I fill my time with writing, reading, taking photos – all which leave me feeling guilty that I am not earning a paycheck.

Yes. It’s a vicious circle and both its creation and activity are all in my mind.

Anyway, in this night-terror I was the only ‘White’ face in a sea of protesting Black people. (Please don’t ask me why this is – I’ve no clue.) They were yelling, screaming and pushing me around, calling me names and accusing me of stuff that I’d never done.

And of course, me-being-me, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut as I hollered back at all these people, shoving and jostling me about. This is when my wife woke me up and I evidently got snotty with her for having done so and then jus’ as quickly as I barked at her, I was back asleep.

As I fell back to sleep, I transitioned from being in the crowd to the edge of the crowd. I was getting punched in the head by one man, kicked in the back by another and I was fighting back.

Now my wife, whom I had awaken with my screaming, was sitting up in bed, reading, when I suddenly got out of the blanket and sheets and commenced around the foot of the bed. She figured I was getting up to use the bathroom.

Instead, I was getting ready to square off on the dude that was punching me in the head. However, I never laid a hand on him, as he struck me (in my night-terror) right on the chin and as my wife put it, “you suddenly took a couple of steps backwards and fell on your ass.”

That woke me up! I had landed hard on the floor, smashing into a table, knocking the wind out of me and leaving two fairly sizable cuts on my right butt-cheek.

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It took a minute or so for me to regain my breath and composure so that I could go into the bathroom to look at my injuries. (My poor wife had to take a picture of my wound because I was unable to see it in the mirror and no, I didn’t ask her to kiss my boo-boo to make it all better, either.) Other than a little blood, there is no real damage other than to my pride, which is a bit out of sorts for having lost a fight composed solely in my subconsciousness.

This morning, I’m wearing three large band-aids on my bum, I have a slightly swollen and bruised left elbow and a back that hurts worse than usual, plus it’s painful to sit. In the end, (no pun intended) I guess I could say that I’m as good a fighter as I am a punching bag — because in both cases I lost — to myself.

Santa’s Helper

For the last three months I’ve been sporting a full gray-white beard. I started it on October 15, the day after my son and daughter-in-law got married on Lake Tahoe.

The day before yesterday I went to Walmart to purchase a last-minute gift for my wife. While wondering the aisles, a little girl, about five-years old and her younger brother, stopped me.

“Why are you shopping here, Santa?” she asked.

More than a little taken back, I glanced at her mother, who smile politely and was obviously enjoying her child’s error, I answered, “Because even Santa needs a little help sometimes.”

“Oh,” she responded. Then without missing a beat she asked, “Can me and my brother tell you what we want for Christmas?”

My heart melted. “Yes, you can,” I replied as I got down on one knee so she’d have a place to sit.

She whispered in my ear, telling me it was secret. When done, I responded, “That’s a big one. I think my boss will have to know about this.”

“You have a boss?’

“Yup.”

“Whose your boss?”

“God. Do you say your prayers every night?”

She nodded her head ‘yes.’

“Good,” I said, “and I’ll say a prayer that you get what you want for Christmas, too.”

She hugged me as I added, “Jus’ remember we don’t always get what we want and there’s always a reason and sometimes we don’t know what that reason is. Can you be brave if you don’t get everything you ask for?”

“Is it alright if I’m sad if I don’t get what I want?”

“It is. You can even cry and be mad.” We hugged again as she climbed from my knee.

“Thank you, Santa,” she smiled as she  went to her mom’s side and took her hand. As for the little brother, he was too shy to ask this Santa’s helper for anything.

The mom silently lipped ‘thank you,’ as she turned down the aisle. I winked at her and quickly rushed from the store without buying anything.

It took about 15 minutes before I could drive home, the tears were too much to see through as the innocence of that little girl tore my heart in two. And that night as I lay in bed, I said a special prayer with the faith that her secret – her mother’s cancer – will be healed, then I cried myself to sleep.

Hacked

25975550_10209416830412345_621143089_nObviously, I pissed someone off and they decided to get back at me through Facebook (FB.) I think it began last night when I had trouble loading a video to my timeline. Then this morning around 5:30, I lost control of my mouse’s functions for a couple of minutes.

Half an hour later, I had no control of my FB page and I immediately let the folks over in the Bay area know what was happening. While they couldn’t help, I did get a hold of McAfee and they aided me in shutting down this hack. It took nearly eight-hours to restore my FB page and clean out anything maliciously hidden in my computer system.

In that time period, FB decided I violated their community standards and banned me for a 24-hour period, meaning I can see your post, but I am unable to respond to a post or post anything directly. I figure this happened because of several ‘nudie’ photographs that found their way my page, and while I didn’t see them until a friend sent me me a screen-shot, I apologize for their appearance on my page.

Thank you for sticking with me through this and a special thanks to my friend, Lisa Arteaga for taking the time to explain what was going on and for posting a notice — complete with a tag and everything — to my newly restored FB page to let you know what was happening.  So barring any further blocking by the social media site, I’ll be back in less than 24-hours. Take care of each other till then.

Lincoln Logs

At seven-years old, my younger brother Adam showed a propensity for having a one-track mind. In this case it was his want of ‘Lincoln Logs,’ for Christmas.

Each store we entered, he’d inquire of Dad or Mom if they had the logs. One late morning as we were moving up and down the aisle of the Sears store, Adam spotted them.

“We can’t afford them,” Dad said, causing Adam to ebb into a complete and embarrassing meltdown. And after having heard enough of Adam’s wailing, Dad put a stop to it, by adding, “And if you keep that up, Santa won’t bring them to you either!”

Adam immediately stopped bawling and fell into the sniffles and a gulping of air as he fought off the tears. I felt bad for him and vowed to myself to do something to help both my folks and my brother.

The following day, I went outside and searched the yard under the trees and bushes and it didn’t take very long for me to find what I was looking for, and after a while I concluded 50 pieces was a good start. The rest of the day I spray painted my new-found ‘logs’ a deep, rich brown, followed by a health dip in lacquer to keep the paint in place.

(Yes, America was a different place back then.)

By the next day, my project was dry and ready for packaging. After finding a box to load the ‘logs’ into, I spent a good part of two-hours trying to wrap it up and make certain Adam knew what they were and that they came from me.

With pride, I slipped the box under the tree. Then came the hard part – waiting for Christmas morning, which was still a million-hours away.

Come Christmas morning, we rushed out to the tree to see what not only Santa had brought us, but what other gifts we’d gotten from our parents and relatives. As I ripped open package after package, I kept an eye on that special gift I’d made for Adam.

Finally, he tore into the decorative paper and opened the box. I could see by his face he wasn’t too thrilled with what had given to him.

Mom took the box and peaked into it, then with a half-puzzled, half-joyfilled look on her face, she called Dad over to have a look in the box. They then began laughing which immediately hurt my feelings.

“Tommy,” Mom said, “You’re so sweet, but…”

“Yeah – very sweet,” Dad interrupted, “but dog poop doesn’t make very good ‘Lincoln Logs.’

The next package handed to Adam made it obvious that he was going to get the real thing after-all. I don’t remember him actually opening up the tubular-shaped container, because by then I had raced to my bedroom to cry.

It took my folks the rest of the morning to calm me, letting me know that I had actually done a ‘good thing,’ by convincing me that it was ‘the thought that counted and not the gift.’

The Butt-heads

We were riding our bicycles around the neighborhood, something he and I did quite often. This day though, my brother Adam was wearing an old white motorcycle helmet that belonged to Dad.

Since it didn’t fit him, Adam had stuffed it full of newspaper wads and taped them in place. Then by wearing a beanie-stocking, the helmet didn’t shift from side to side or slip down to cover his eyes.

One of the great joys we partook in was pedaling from in front of the fire station to the hill that lead to the woods, which was between the Methodist Church and the red Simpson building. We used the distance, which was probably a quarter of a mile, to gather enough speed to race up the hill to the logging road above.

The hill, as we called it, was a steep grade greater than 45-degrees and consisted of a path no wider than the handlebars of our bikes. The real trick was not only to make it to the top and onto the road, but to either stop or turn before crashing into the embankment on the far side.

Sometimes we were successful — most times we weren’t and that’s what made it fun.

One day we found our pathway blocked; Mr. Breedon had chained a billy-goat to the entrance of the bike trail. So instead of riding up the hill as planned, we dropped our bikes to play with the billy-goat.

Being limited in his movement, we could easily stay out of danger, should the goat decide to butt us, which is exactly what he did. Standing jus’ out of range of his tiny bump-like horns, I was petting the animal when I heard Adam say, “Watch this!”

Turning, I saw he had the motorcycle helmet on and he was kicking his right leg like a bull, ready for the charge. I stepped out-of-the-way, saying, “I don’t think you should…”

By that time Adam, head down, was sprinting towards the goat. The animal saw him coming and took off in the opposite direction, with Adam chasing it from one place to another.

Finally, out of breath from racing after the billy-goat, Adam trotted down the hill to where I was standing. As for the goat, he was standing in the middle of the bike path, watching Adam retreat.

After a couple of minutes of staring each other down, Adam put his head down and again making with the menacing foot drag, charged up the hillside towards the billy-goat. This time the 60 pound animal met Adam’s challenge as it reared up on it’s hind-legs and bolted down the pathway.

The pair collided head-long into one another with a mighty ‘Clack!’ which echoed off the metal wall of the Simpson building. The goat bounced off Adam’s helmet, while Adam dropped face first to the dirt.

Knowing Adam could be hurt as the goat pranced around and jump on top of him, I rushed over and dragged my brother out of harms way. Once beyond the goat’s chain, Adam rolled over on his back and began laughing – which caused me to laugh.

The next day, Adam complained bitterly about how the top of his head, his neck and both of his shoulders ached, claiming he couldn’t understand why. By then, I was the only one laughing.

Gassed

Bruce Clark’s head snapped about as if he didn’t know where he was at. That’s because he didn’t.

The last thing Bruce recalled was sitting on his couch, passing horrendous clouds of gas. That’s when it struck him; he had finally farted so badly he had literally gassed himself to death.

“Why else would I be in Yuppy-hell, standing in line at Starbucks?” he posed.

Bruce was eighth in line, so he had enough time to assess his situation. That’s when it dawned on him: he’d much rather be standing in line at McDonald’s.

“At least there, I could get one of those mitten cups that’s actually a pole-dancer spreading her ass-cheeks.”

Without having moved, it was suddenly his turn at the counter. That’s when all manner of hell broke loose on Bruce Clark’s self-induced, noxious nightmare of eternal damnation.

As the female barista began to speak, she barked as if she were a dog. And like other dogs, it didn’t take much encouragement for those behind the counter and who had previously had their faces buried in their iPhones and other devices, to join in.

As the barking reached a nerve-shattering crescendo, Bruce jumped back into his poisoned reality. At first he thought he’d been dreaming, but then he could smell the lingering effects of having ripped a toxic terror, plus his poodle was yapping fiercely in his left ear.

“Good boy, Killer,” he cooed towards the dog as it bounced from the floor to the couch then the back door.

As Bruce Clark got up from his stained leather couch to release his would-be heroic K-9 on the outside world, he couldn’t help laugh, “Dog’s are immune to such brain-melting shit – after all they lick their asses all the time.”

He closed the door, heading to the kitchen to pour another cup of four-day old coffee.

Beyond the Main Stream

Note: This will be the last one of these as it was an experiment that failed.

The suspect in a terror-related attack in New York City has been identified as Akayed Ullah, a Bangladeshi Muslim immigrant who lives in Brooklyn and was allegedly inspired by ISIS.

As we were celebrating Thanksgiving, ISIS issued a threatening video message titled “Christmas in New York.” However, authorities claim yesterday’s NYC subway bomber acted alone.

There are now more so-called journalists in Jerusalem than there are Palestinian protesters since President Trump recognized the city as Israel’s capital.

Molotov cocktails were thrown at a synagogue in Malmo, Sweden. No one was injured and the building wasn’t damaged. This is the second incident carried out against the Jewish community within 48 hours.

A Republican National committeewoman from Nebraska, Joyce Simmons has quit the organization, writing that she “strongly” disagrees with the RNC’s choice to resume financial support for Judge Roy Moore.

A federal court has ordered the Pentagon to allow transgender people to enlist in the military beginning January 1, despite opposition from President Trump.

The U.S. Supreme court is refusing hear the case of a Georgia woman who claims she was harassed and forced out from her job because she’s a lesbian. The court gave no explanation why it won’t take the case.

Two-thousand, seventy-five dollars. That’s every American’s personal share of the fiscal year 2017 budget deficit. The total deficit? $666 billion.

Polls no longer reflect opinion. Instead they’re used to push and create opinion.

And finally, you cannot pour from an empty vessel.

Beyond the Main Stream

There’s been an explosion caused by an ISIS inspired suicide bomber in a passageway below ground at the Port Authority in New York City. The attacker was injured and is in custody.

A network of loudspeakers designed to warn people of terror attacks is being set up in Melbourne, Australia, ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says employment in U.S. manufacturing has increased by 189,000 in the year since Donald Trump was elected president.

Independent analyses by the Thomas A. Roe Institute shows the economy will be three percent larger in ten years, thanks to the tax plans being reconciled by a joint congressional committee.

Only six more states are needed to fulfill the required number of 34 states to force Congress to call an Article V constitutional convention for the purpose of proposing a ‘Balanced Budget Amendment.’

Jewish and Christian communities are actually joining together, not battling one another, to celebrate President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Czech President Milos Zeman on Saturday accused EU states of being “cowards” in their response to President Trump recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

German intelligence agencies are warning Chinese hackers are increasingly launching attacks on European companies through trusted suppliers.

Former President Barack Obama continues to globe-trot, claiming responsibility for the improvements to the U.S. economy.

Trump on Twitter: Another false story, this time in the Failing @nytimes, that I watch 4-8 hours of television a day – Wrong! Also, I seldom, if ever, watch CNN or MSNBC, both of which I consider Fake News. I never watch Don Lemon, who I once called the “dumbest man on television!” Bad Reporting.

A woman in Georgia shot Justin Alan Foster who was attacking sheriff Sergeant Randy Harkness after he had given Foster a ride to a gas station. Both Harkness and Foster survived their injuries.

A Washington State University-Spokane study shows law enforcement officers are less likely to shoot unarmed black suspects than unarmed whites.

A new poll shows that 74 percent of ‘young people’ believe that being called a ‘snowflake’ has a negative effect on their mental health.

During the Army/Navy game anthem, not one knee touched the ground. Army won 14-13.

After two investigations, Ahmad Bradshaw, starting quarterback for Army’s Black Knights has been cleared of sexual assault charges.

The nominations for the 75th Golden Globe Awards are underway, but nobody cares.

And finally, passion gives you the power you need to fulfill your purpose.

Beyond the Main Stream

Democrat California Assemblyman Matt Dababneh has resign after he was accused of masturbating in front of a female lobbyist at a party in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The Richmond Roughriders, an indoor football team in the American Arena League, has offered former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick a spot on their roster. No word yet on whether he will take the position or not.

California Governor Jerry Brown claims that the wildfires ravaging the greater Los Angeles area are part of a “new normal” residents can expect due to man-made global warming.

California Democrat and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi continues to condemn President Trumps decision to moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Yet in October 1995, Pelosi voted for the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 , which required the move of the embassy without precondition of a negotiated settlement.

For the second time in a month and a half, Israeli Defense Forces uncovered a Hamas cross-border terror tunnel near the Gaza Strip border.

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley says that any woman who has felt violated or mistreated by a man has every right to speak up, even if she is accusing President Trump.

A Chicago woman involved in a beating of a mentally disabled man that was broadcast on Facebook Live pleaded guilty and has been sentenced to probation.

The U.S. State Department is refusing to recognize “Jerusalem, Israel” as a place that actually exists on maps, documents and passports.

Two more individuals on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team have ties to Clinton and Obama. Aaron Zebley represented Justin Cooper, in the Hillary Clinton email controversy and Jeannie Rhee represented ex-Obama National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, the Clinton Foundation in a 2015 racketeering case, as well as Hillary herself.

American skiing star Lindsey Vonn has withdrawn from her Sunday events at the World Cup in Switzerland after suffering a back injury during a super-G race on Saturday.

Judge Rudolph Contreras, an Obama appointee, has recused himself for unknown reasons, from the sentencing phase of Michael Flynn. Judge Emmet Sullivan is taking over the case.

The U.S. Navy says Marquie Little, a black sailor who claimed to be the target of racial slurs written on his bed, actually staged the entire incident against himself.

Members of the Edina High School Young Conservatives Club are suing their Minnesota school district for disbanding their organization after they spoke out against a national anthem protest.

Senator Bernie Sanders is urging Democrats to wait for special counsel Mueller’s investigation to play out before starting any kind of formal impeachment process against President Trump.

Illinois prosecutors say Metropolitan Opera conductor James Levine, who claimed allegations of sexual misconduct dating back decades are “unfounded,” will not face criminal charges.

A new study by the Federation for American Immigration Reform shows Illegal immigration costs U.S. taxpayers $134.9 billion annually, while state and local expenditures for services provided to illegal aliens total $88.9 billion and federal expenditures $45.8 billion. Meanwhile illegal aliens contribute $19 billion in taxes.

The U.S. Navy has conducted a strike on multiple Taliban narcotics production facilities in Helmand province of Afghanistan destroying nearly $4 million in direct Taliban revenues.

And finally, let ministering Angels come to you now, giving you strength in every weak and weary place.

Nevada Congressman Called on to Resign

Democratic Congressman Ruben Kihuen of Nevada is being pressured to resign by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi following a news story recently published in BuzzFeed. Following Pelosi’s call for his resignation, Kihuen went on record, saying Pelosi knew about the sexual harassment allegations against him since 2016, before he got elected.

Kihuen’s former campaign finance director is accusing the freshman lawmaker of inappropriately touching her and pressuring her to have sex with him while on the campaign trail last year. Kihuen continues to deny the allegations and vows he will not resign.

And though saying he didn’t sexually harass the former campaign staffer, Kihuen still apologized for his behavior in a statement, which reads in part: “ I sincerely apologize for anything that I may have said or done that made her feel uncomfortable.”

In an interview with ABC News, Kihuen questioned ‘why now.’

“I do find it interesting that the DCCC, Leader [Nancy] Pelosi and Chairman Ben Ray Lujan — they knew about these allegations last year. They looked into them. They didn’t find anything, and they continued investing millions of dollars in my campaign. They went out there and campaigned for me.”

As for Pelosi, she denies knowing about the allegations and claims she only learned of the allegations.  She also says that she believes Kihuen’s accuser.

Campaign records from 2016 show the DCCC invested $3 million in Kihuen’s race. The DCCC is already draining financial support for any future campaigns including removing him from a 2018 fundraising program designed to support incumbent Democrat representatives.

Kihuen spoke out against Pelosi on the same day that Michigan Democratic Congressman John Conyers, announced  he would “retire today” amid allegations of sexual harassment by former members of his staff.  Pelosi also called on Conyers to resign over the allegations.

Taxation is Theft, But They Still Gotta Be Paid

Talking taxes is difficult, leaving many people, including me, glassy-eyed and drooling. So I’ve done my best to breakdown how the House and Senate versions of the recent tax reform bills compare as they head to committee for reconciliation.

Currently, there are seven tax brackets with rates of 10, 15, 25, 28, 33, 35 and 39.6 percent. The House plan shrinks that number to four with rates of 12, 25, 35 and 39.6 percent. The Senate measure keeps the number of personal income tax brackets at seven, change the rates to 10, 12, 22, 24, 32, 35 and 38.5 percent.

Looking at the standard deduction, which refers to the deduction of the amount of income we’re taxed. The current rate is $6,350 for the individual and $12,700 for married couples. The House measure increases this to $12,000 and $24,000 respectively, while the Senate increases the standard deduction to $12,000 and $24,000.

Taxpayers in high-tax states – like California and New York – who itemize their deductions are able to deduct four kinds of non-businesses taxes, including state and local income, real estate, property and sales taxes. These are state and local tax (SALT) deductions  Commonly known as state and local taxes (SALT,) the House bill eliminates all deductions expect for a property tax deduction capped at $10,000. The Senate plan repeals SALT deductions when it comes to income and sales tax, yet leaves in place a provision for property tax deductions up to $10,000.

A large concern to many taxpayers is the child tax credit. The current tax code allows for taxpayers to receive up to $1,000 per child under the age of 17. The House plan  raises that to $1,600, while the Senate measure increases it to $2,000.

Another major concern is the individual mandate, which is the Obamacare requirement to purchase health care.  At present, if you don’t purchase health care but can afford to do so, you could face a fine of either 2.5 percent of the household income or a per-person fee – whichever is higher.  Unbelievably, the changes to the individual mandate were not included in the House measure. The Senate bill however eliminates the individual mandate completely.

Commonly called the ‘death tax,’ the federal estate tax is a tax on the transfer of property after someone’s death. At the moment, estates valued at more than $5.4 million in 2017 could be taxed. The House plan would double the estate tax exemption to $11 million for individuals and $22 million for couples, but would repeal it after 2023. Under the Senate plan, the exemption would double.

Then there’s something called the ‘pass-through provision’ for businesses that are sole proprietorship, joint venture, limited liability companies or an S-corporation. The ‘pass-through’ taxation format’s used by the majority of businesses where the profits are counted in the owners’ personal tax returns.

Under current law, ‘pass-through’ businesses are subject to a top rate of 43.4 percent. The House plan reduces the tax to 25 percent and creates a nine percent rate for the first $75,000 in earnings for some smaller businesses. The Senate measure, however, sets up a new deduction of 23 percent for those who qualify. The plan also makes it easier to get this deduction, but will expire after 2025.

On the opposite side from ‘small businesses,’ are the larger organizations, which are subject to a corporate tax rate of 35 percent. Under the House measure, the corporate tax rate would be lowered to 20 percent. The Senate plan would also lower the corporate tax rate to 20 percent, but with a delayed implementation of one year.

Finally, there’s the alternative minimum tax (AMT) which is a supplemental income tax levied on certain taxpayers designed to offset the benefits a high income earner could receive and ensures they pay a minimum tax. The current plan imposes the AMT on taxpayers whose ‘tentative minimum tax’ is higher than the regular tax. The House plan repeals both the individual and corporate alternative minimum tax, while the Senate’s plan leaves the AMT in place, but raises the amount of income to be exempt.

Hopefully, this helps you understand what all the ‘tax reform’ hyperbole is about.  As for me, I think I have brain-fluid leaking from my right-ear from thinking too hard.

Obama’s Misuse of the Logan Act

The Obama administration weaponized the Logan Act to attack the incoming Trump administration.  By knowing its common practice for incoming administration officials to communicate their polices to their foreign counterparts, then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates used the act to link the Trump administration to Russia via his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

The Logan Act makes it a felony for unauthorized persons to negotiate with foreign governments involved in a dispute with the U.S. The Act  came into being following George Logan’s unauthorized negotiations with France in 1798, signed into law by President John Adams on January 30, 1799 and last amended in 1994.

Only two people have ever been indicted for violating its provisions. However, no one’s ever been convicted of violating the law.

It was Yates who told Congress that the Act was the reason she intervened in the Flynn case and the reason FBI agents went to the White House to interview Flynn in the Trump administration’s early days. Flynn recently pleaded guilty to one count of lying to federal investigators about conversations he had with former Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak in December, 2016.

The conversations involved sanctions placed on Russia by the Obama administration following the November election and a U.N. resolution targeting Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The Obama administration was monitoring Kislyak and recorded the calls, which were later illegally leaked to the Washington Post.

Meanwhile, former-President Obama, now a private citizen, continues to violate the Logan Act by shadowing President Trump overseas. In fact, in a recent sit-down with French President Emmanuel Macron, Obama stated of Trump, “I grant you that at the moment we have a temporary absence of American leadership on [climate change.]”

My Wayward Mind

“Holy crap!,” I found myself surmizing, “How is it that I’m able to think at all?”

Earlier, I took my mind for a walk. Both it and the rest of me needed the exercise and fresh air. And while, my body obeyed every command given it, my mind chose to wander off and it got lost.

Yes, I lost my friggin’ mind!

Then after hours of looking under every rock and behind every bush, I remembered where I left it. Having washed it, I failed to put it back in my brain-vault.

But at least I had my house key.

Conversation at the Gas Pump

While fueling my truck at Costco, I heard the gas pump, in a male voice, ask, “Hello, how are you?”

Startled, I answered “I’m doing good.”

Costco recently replaced all the pumps, so I figured it to be something new that came with the reconstruction. That’s when the pump inquired, “What are you up to?”

I responded, “Uhh…getting gas.”

Sounding slightly irritated the voice stated, “I need to call you back,” adding, “There’s a guy on the other side of this pump who keeps answering me.”

Simultaneously peeking around the pump at one another, we both had a really good laugh.

Maybe I Have It Good

“Boredom has got me by the nuts,” I complain to the dogs.

They’re not very good listeners, at least not when it comes to my bitching and moaning. However, grab a bag of potato chips or clink a spoon against a dish and see the four-legged beggars come running.

That’s how a dog’s life works: food and affection and crapping in the yard. Some days, like today, I wish I had it so good, as I watch all four napping at my feet.

Then again, maybe I’m the one that has it good and I’m simply not seeing it. Maybe.

Morning in 100 Words

Perhaps I heard her alarm beeping. I know I hear the shower as she turns it on.

Auto-reflex – I pull my covers over my head, pretending the light from her room isn’t real. Unfortunately, it is.

I know I must get out of bed.

It’s the same activity of the morning, from day-to-day, whether I’ve slept well or not. I tell myself that I can always return to bed after she goes to work.

I never do.

Coffee time instead. I sit at my computer, hoping for ‘good news’ from the media and ‘spying’ on my friend’s world through Facebook.