The Thirty Minute Blogger

Exploring Books and the Writer's Life, Faith and Works, Culture and Pop Culture, Space Science and Science Fiction, Technology and Nostalgia, Parenting and Childhood, Health: Physical and Emotional ... All Under the Iron Hands of the Clock and That 30 Minute Deadline

Monday, September 25, 2017

Americans Suffer While Trump Turns Attention to Squabbles with NFL & North Korea

American presidents are supposed to try to unite the nation, especially in times of crisis. Right now we have a monster crisis, a humanitarian crises of apocryphal proportions in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Puerto Rico will be without power for roughly a year. They are running low on water. Where I live many people have friends and family in Puerto Rico and are extremely worries as there is limited communications with them and great difficulty to provide them support. (I'm not dealing with Texas here, since Trump did pay some attention to flooded Texans before going off on the NFL.)

We get no (have I missed something, please, if I have ... something more substantive than a tweet ... I'd really like to know) response from Trump. The Senate is obsessed with trying to gut the ACA and put roughly 32 million Americans permanently off health insurance. Trump would rather misconstrue the protests of football players during the national anthem (they are protesting the deaths in the black community of unarmed people at the hands of police, by the way) and play chicken with a nuclear armed nation. This is craziness personified. This is dangerous. This will lead to violence if it continues. Never before have I heard a president take to a stage and call a citizen a "son of a bitch" and that is truly disgusting and potentially dangerous. This is the same president who thinks there are a lot of good people to be found among neo-Nazis and white supremacists in the US. How repellant. This president (a purported Christian) also attempts to turn the symbol of the US, the flag, into something akin to a religious icon. That is simply wrong.

There is one way in which Trump has managed to unite some of the country. The NFL is united against his inflammatory statements about their players. A number of veterans have risen up against this tirade as well, stating that yes, the did fight for everyone's right to speech, their right to state their outrage peacefully.

So ends the soapbox rant.

P.S.: Commentators state Trump goes off on these wild tangents when he has something to hide ... when the Russia investigation heats up, when some policy he supports staggers or fails, when his base become furious with him talking to "the enemy," i.e. Democratic politicians. Oh how I want to see this dark period of US history end.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Senator Bob Casey Responds to Republican Attempts to Destroy ACA

Writing in concern for all those who receive health insurance through the ACA, and the Republican's endless attempts to kill the program 22 million use, here is the Senator's response:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me about recent efforts to change our health care system. I appreciate hearing from you about this issue.

During the week of July 24, 2017, the Senate majority brought several of their health care schemes to a vote. Together with the House majority’s bill, each of these proposals would have increased premiums for middle income consumers and stripped millions of Americans of their health insurance. Some of these proposals would have shredded important consumer protections that individuals have come to count on, in Pennsylvania and throughout our Nation, and some would have decimated Medicaid, hurting children, individuals with disabilities and hospitals throughout our state. Each of these schemes was fundamentally unacceptable, and voted against each of them. Any changes to our health care system must maintain or expand coverage, quality and care, and the majority’s proposals did not meet that standard. Ultimately, they were defeated on a bipartisan basis.

Although their health care schemes failed in the Senate, the majority could still bring these or similar proposals up for a vote. I do not support these efforts, and I will continue to vote against them. Instead of continuing down a path that would decrease consumer protections and increase the number of uninsured Americans, the majority should instead get serious and work with the minority to build upon and improve our current system. President Trump and the majority in Congress must also commit to properly implementing current law and end their efforts to sabotage our existing health care system. These efforts only harm middle class consumers and families.

We have made significant strides in improving our health care system in recent years: 20 million individuals have obtained health insurance since 2010; insurance companies are no longer able to discriminate against individuals with pre-existing conditions, women or older Americans; and senior citizens have saved more than $20 billion on the cost of prescription drugs. Even so, I recognize that our health care system is far from perfect and that too many Americans continue to pay too much for their health care and prescription drugs. More work needs to be done, and I am hopeful that the majority and the minority might come together to seek further improvements to bring down the cost of care and to improve its quality.

I am actively working on commonsense solutions to improve our health care system. I recently joined several of my colleagues in introducing a bill to bring down prescription drug costs by allowing the importation of drugs from Canada. I also support creating a Medicare-like “public option” to compete with private insurance and provide consumers with more choices. I have also proposed changes to the Affordable Care Act itself, such as making it easier for families to access the law’s tax credit for health insurance when one spouse already has insurance at work.

In addition, I am pleased that the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, of which I am a member, has announced a series of hearings in September on stabilizing the individual health insurance market. These hearings will bring together a bipartisan group of elected officials, state insurance commissioners, insurers and health care providers to talk about steps that can be taken quickly to prevent dramatic increases in health insurance premiums. This is precisely the kind of serious, bipartisan work that the American people deserve, in contrast to the majority’s earlier attempts to ram their partisan proposals through the Senate without a single hearing or markup. Though I regret that it has taken so long for the majority to make a serious effort on health care, I am nonetheless hopeful that this represents the start of a new and more deliberate approach to improving the health care system for all Americans.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about this or any other matter of importance to you.

For more information on this or other issues, I encourage you to visit my website, http://casey.senate.gov. I hope you will find this online office a comprehensive resource to stay up-to-date on my work in Washington, request assistance from my office or share with me your thoughts on the issues that matter most to you and to Pennsylvania.

Sincerely,
Bob Casey
United States Senator

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Welcome to 50th Birthday of TV's Animated Spider-Man and George of the Jungle: GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE CARTOON INTRO.



Ah yes, damn fine viewing for a 7 year old 50 years ago this month! Animated Spider-Man and George of the Jungle (plus Super Chicken and Tom Swift). George was brought to us by two maniacs from Rocky and Bullwinkle and molded our young minds with satire. It didn't last a season, but lived on in syndication forever. Spider-Man joined my young pantheon of superheroic icons with Superman (first introduced to, Great Caesar's Ghost) and Batman ('60s groovy Batman that is). Both series had memorable, fast paced theme songs you just can't forget once you hear them. Imagine being hopped up on sugary cereal on Saturday morning and getting those themes hopping in your young skull. No wonder so many moms pitched so many kids out the door after the morning hyperactivity inducing TV themes to burn off the sugar in the community and NOT to come home until lunch.



Spider-Man Animated Series theme (50 years ago): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4o29VoxtsFk

Friday, September 8, 2017

Falcon 9 launches X-37B OTV-5 & Falcon 9 first stage landing, 7 Septembe...



SpaceX beats Hurricane Irma, launches the US Air Force's mystery crewless space shuttle successfully. What the X-37B does, we don't know for sure and the Air Force won't tell. What the Falcon 9 does we do know, and congratulate SpaceX on this newest success!

Senator Pat Toomey's Response to Violence in Charlottesville, VA 8/10-11/17

I wrote to the Senator to express my anger at the bigoted violence during the "Alt-Right" Klan, Nazi violent demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, and my disgust with Mr. Trump's initial response ... and the follow up beyond the "hostage statement," where Mr. Trump expressed himself more clearly. Here is the Senator's response:

Thank you for contacting me about the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia. I appreciate hearing from you.
Like you, I am deeply troubled by the racist march in Charlottesville and terribly saddened by the tragic loss of life that occurred there. The racism, hate, and violence seen in Charlottesville are vile and unacceptable. I am disgusted by the white nationalists, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis, and believe that the racism and hate spewed by these groups have no place in our society.
As to President Trump's statements about the events in Charlottesville, I believe and have publicly stated that there is no moral equivalency between neo-Nazis, bigots, and white supremacists, and those who oppose them. Our country has no room for corrupt ideology or violent acts.
I hope that what occurred in Charlottesville will be an isolated incident. Moving forward, I pray that members of Congress will put politics aside, unequivocally condemn hate and bigotry, and find ways to work together to protect our shared American values of equality and justice for all.
Thank you again for your correspondence. Please be assured I understand and appreciate hearing your concerns, and will continue monitoring the fallout from the recent events in Charlottesville. Do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of assistance.
Sincerely,
  
Pat Toomey
U.S. Senator, Pennsylvania

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Hurricane Irma Causes Damage Across the Caribbean: Our Prayers with You



I know someone on Puerto Rico, have friends with family there, and am very concerned. My prayers go out to all in the path of Hurricane Irma, all those who have survived Hurricane Harvey, and everyone under threat by both wildfire in the west and terrible political decisions in Washington, DC, including all 800,000+ dreamers out there. I stand with you all. To the dreamers, many of us are with you here in the US and are doing what we can to change this terrible, ignorant, bigoted decision.

Conspiracy Theory: When Search Engine Hits Dropped

I say this tongue in cheek, and yet ... after posting my experience and video in the 1000 Ministers March for Justice on August 28, 2017, the number of hits this blog site received dropped dramatically, even for this modest operation. Is something nefarious afoot? Is the current administration so thin skinned that participants in a peaceful march against current unjust policies brings about an overreaching, irrational response. Prior to the Trump administration and their actions, I would never have entertained such a thing (although during the W. Bush administration I would have felt compelled to add "I support the troops" to anything I said). Now, I'm not entirely sure. Could it be? It would explain a lot.

P.S. Oh, yes, I almost forgot. During this period, views from the US dropped sharply, and those from RUSSIA* increased dramatically to first place. Coincidence??? The work of Trump??? I wonder!

*Honestly, Russian readers, glad you're here ... but given our current politics and the Trump/Russia investigation, this was too good to pass up! 

Senator Bob Casey Responds to Trump Ethics Concerns

Thank you for contacting me regarding the importance of maintaining strong ethics standards for elected officials in the federal government. I appreciate hearing from you about this issue.

I have heard from many constituents who are concerned about potential ethics problems facing the Trump Administration. In particular, many have expressed worries about the high potential that President Trump and several of his cabinet nominees face significant financial conflicts of interest. Many have also raised concerns about the President stacking his administration with lobbyists, contrary to campaign promises to reduce the influence of special interests in government.

I share these concerns. Public service entails a commitment to always putconstituents first. This means adhering to strict standards of transparency and accountability. Unfortunately, the Trump Administration has not yet lived up to these standards. The Trump Organization has ties to foreign governments and government-run corporations all around the world. A bipartisan group of experts have stated unequivocally that the only way for President Trump to come into compliance with ethics standards is for him to divest his business interests and put his assets into a blind trust, as presidents with significant business interests of both parties have done in the past. Otherwise, the American people will have no way of knowing where the Trump organization ends and where the Trump Administration begins.

On January 11, 2017, then President-elect Trump held a press conference in which he detailed several measures he would take to address ethics concerns. But, far from satisfying these concerns, his proposed remedies demonstrated that he is wholly uncommitted to ethical governance. He indicated he would not follow the bipartisan tradition of putting his assets in a blind trust or releasing his tax returns. Indeed, in the immediate aftermath of the press conference, the head of the Office of Government Ethics condemned the President-elect’s ethics plan as “wholly inadequate”, and the top ethics lawyer to President George W. Bush, Richard Painter, wrote a New York Times column saying the plan “does nothing to fix the serious conflicts of interest and global security threats posed by his existing business relationships.”

Honest and accountable government is important to all of us. When the Trump Administration is weighing whether to approve a contract or propose regulations, that decision must rest on whether those actions will improve our economy and security, not the President’s bottom line. When the Commander-in-Chief decides to put American lives at risk, it must be to protect our national security, not his foreign investments. The potential problems are endless, and until President Trump divests his assets into a blind trust, the American people cannot have confidence that their President is putting them first.

I have been fighting to ensure the incoming administration meets high ethical standards. In December 2016, I signed a letter to the President-elect’s Transition Team urging it to take steps to address ethical concerns, including by divesting financial conflicts of interests and creating a blind trust. I am an original cosponsor of a resolution introduced by Senator Cardin on January 4, 2017, which states that President Trump risks violating the Constitution’s prohibition on receiving money or gifts from foreign governments unless he divests his businesses interests. I am also an original cosponsor of S. 65, the Presidential Conflicts of Interest Act, which was introduced by Senator Warren on January 9, 2017. This bill would require the President, Vice President and certain family members to divest any financial conflicts of interest by placing them into a blind trust. It would also require the public disclosure of the last three years of tax returns by the President, Vice President, and all major-party nominees running for those offices.

On May 3, 2017, I introduced the S. 1026, the Know Conflicts Act of 2017. This bill would increase transparency and accountability regarding financial conflicts of interest in the administration of federal awards. Specifically, it would require that www.USASpending.gov, a searchable public website with information on federal spending, include in any search results information as to whether the President or Vice President has a financial stake in the recipient of any federal awards. This would shine a light on any conflicts of interest that could affect the decision-making of the Administration when it comes to spending taxpayer money. I will continue to advocate for this commonsense bill, which was referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs.

Additionally, I support legislation to improve the transparency and accountability of the federal government as a whole. I am also a cosponsor of the We The People Act, a major package of good government provisions originally introduced in June 2016 and awaiting reintroduction in the 115th Congress. First, this package will increase transparency in the campaign finance system. It requires mandatory, timely disclosure of all special interest campaign donations, prohibits single-candidate Super PACs and restricts coordination between candidates and outside groups. Second, the package will limit special interest influence in Congress by strengthening lobbying laws. It enacts a permanent ban on lobbying by former members of Congress, closes loopholes that currently allow many consultants to avoid registering as lobbyists and eliminates the revolving door between government and the financial services industry.

I will keep fighting to see that essential ethics standards are met by the Trump Administration and the entire federal government. I often think of an inscription on the Finance Building in the capitol complex in Harrisburg that reads, “All public service is a trust, given in faith and accepted in honor.” It is incumbent on all elected officials to hold themselves to the highest standards of ethics, transparency and accountability in order to honor that trust.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about this or any other matter of importance to you.

For more information on this or other issues, I encourage you to visit my website, http://casey.senate.gov . I hope you will find this online office a comprehensive resource to stay up-to-date on my work in Washington, request assistance from my office or share with me your thoughts on the issues that matter most to you and to Pennsylvania.

Sincerely,
Bob Casey
United States Senator

Monday, September 4, 2017

Does This End J.S. Brooks Presents?


Good evening faithful readers ... and everybody else who just happens by. Welcome. This is the second time I've seriously considered ending this blog. The first time came when its original reason for being, the promotion and sale of the children's book Michael and the New Baby (now out of print), ended. At that point, I decided to continue for my own personal enjoyment and as a platform for ideas important to me. I used the platform to get out ideas and positions, especially on culture and religion, that I felt were getting short shrift. The numbers of views grew surprisingly a while back.That was wonderful.  Now they have dropped, equally surprisingly, and disappointingly to be honest.

So here we are. Do I call it quits on J.S. Brooks Presents? If so, what then? I'm a writer at heart and I love to bat around ideas and share stories on the blogging platform. So, to continue or not? What platform to continue on? Will I continue with Blogger or move on to something like WordPress, Weebly, Wix or Tumblr. Free it has to be for me. That's just the way I am.

At this point, if I'm to start over, I'll be a little more likely to follow some of the blogging rules. The site I create will focus on one topic only, rather than cut across a wide range of my personal interests. But which focus to hone in on? I see a few among the most popular blogging subjects (ideas) that interest me. The ones that attract me most, at first glance, include personal stories, charity and activism, product reviews, sourced news, travel, history, or funny stories. I'll just have to mull it over and make some sort of decision. I've enjoyed this. I've enjoyed writing for you and interacting with you. I'd like to do it better. We'll see.

Thank you for being here. Thanks for keeping me company in this endeavor. Whatever I decide, I'll let you know. If you have constructive suggestions for a new direction, please let me know.

The problem that stirs this question: https://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2017/09/sloggin-thru-blogging-attempting-to.html

Contact Trump About DACA Decision

Donald Trump has made it clear he intends to undo the Obama Administration's DACA or Dreamers Act. In doing so, Trump will tear apart families, deporting children to countries they do not know. If you find this idea repellant, email the White House now and register your complaint. You can reach him at https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact