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Archive for February 12th, 2018

Navy bean salad with feta – 4 points per serving

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1 cup of dry navy beans
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 large yellow bell pepper, chopped
5 oz baby arugala, chopped (about 2 cups)
8 oz feta, crumbled
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice or lime juice
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp minced or crushed garlic
1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
1 cup chopped celery (chopped small)
1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp capers, drained
3-5 anchovy fillets, minced
2 Tbsp tamari
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp smoked paprika

Cook beans, drain, and add all ingredients. The arugula probably amounts to 2 cups, compressed.

Might try with fresh tarragon or mint instead of cilantro. Italian parsley is another possibility.

Optional ingredients:

optional: 1 can of tuna or salmon; or 1.5 cups cooked shrimp, small or cut small; or 8-10 oz chopped poached chicken breast
optional: cooked green beans cut in 1” lengths
optional: several tender young asparagus stalks, cut into 1” lengths
optional: 1 bulb fennel, cored and chopped small
optional: use two bunches of chopped scallions instead of the sweet onion—improves the nutritional value
optional: chopped jalapeño peppers (2 or 3)

I had it tonight with the tuna option and also some fresh asparagus (raw).

It makes quite a bit, but it’s very tasty, so eating it will not be a problem. The 4 points is for a 1-cup serving, conservatively estimating the total recipe at 10 cups.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 February 2018 at 5:52 pm

Posted in Food, Low carb, Recipes

The path of weight loss, like that of true love, never did run smooth

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The graph sows my daily weight loss/gain, with the scale at left being pounds. Positive weight loss is good, negative weight loss = weight gain. Fortunately the losses dominate the gains: 14 lbs lost to date. But as you can see, there are some almighty swings along the way (thus the practice some have of weighing only once a week).

Still, it’s going well and still enjoyable.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 February 2018 at 4:43 pm

Posted in Daily life, Health

Trumpism for Thee, but Not for Me

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David Leonhardt writes in the NY Times:

There are a lot of problems with living near an offshore oil rig. The smell can be nasty. The rigs produce something known as tarballs — little globs of petroleum that wash up on land. Even modest oil spills, which happen pretty frequently, can disrupt life. A major spill can devastate a community.

No wonder, then, that people living along both the East and West Coasts objected when the Trump administration announced a big expansion of drilling last month. But only one area has managed to win a promised exemption to the drilling: Florida.

Why? Well, Florida’s governor is Rick Scott, a Republican whom President Trump is trying to persuade to run for the Senate this year. If Scott does run, he doesn’t want to be forced to defend an unpopular new drilling plan.

So Trump’s larger agenda will move ahead, with a special exception to that very same agenda for the president’s closest allies. It’s Trumpism-for-thee-but-not-for-me, and it is becoming a pattern.

Here’s how it works: First, the Trump administration, often with congressional Republicans, enacts a policy that harms a large number of Americans. Then local or state allies of the administration raise objections. Ultimately, the administration and Congress create a carve-out that protects a small number of favored constituents while leaving most of the damaging policy in place.

It is splendidly hypocritical, of course: If Trump’s agenda is as wonderful as he says, his loyal supporters should surely get to benefit from it as well. But I think it also contains an important lesson for anyone trying to stop Trump’s agenda: Keep calling attention to the substance of that agenda, because it is deeply unpopular — and even Trump’s allies know it’s unpopular.

The pattern first appeared during the attempts to repeal Obamacare last year. The repeal bills would have sharply cut federal spending on health insurance. Yet not every part of the country would have experienced a cut. Most blue states would have suffered large reductions (Trumpism for thee…), while many red states would actually have received more federal subsidies (…but not for me).

Then came the tax law passed in December. Not only does it shift billions of federal dollars from blue states to red, it does so partly through duplicity.

The clearest example is a new tax on colleges with an endowment of at least $500,000 per full-time student. It was aimed at bastions of liberalism, like Harvard, M.I.T., Stanford and Amherst. But members of Congress eventually realized that the endowment tax would also apply to Berea College, a small institution in Kentucky with a nice-sized endowment.

Kentucky, as you are probably aware, is the home state of Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader. So McConnell “insisted” (his word) that last week’s budget deal create a carve-out to spare Berea from the tax.

I want to emphasize that Berea is an extremely impressive place. It enrolls only lower-income students, most of them from Appalachia, and doesn’t charge tuition. But the idea that congressional Republicans are just trying to protect low-income students — their rationalization for the carve-out — is ridiculous.

For one thing, those same members of Congress have repeatedly taken steps to make college more expensive for both low- and middle-income families. So have state-level Republicans, which helps explain why nationwide per-student funding for higher education has dropped 16 percent since 2008. Trump and House leaders both recently proposed further cuts.

For another thing, Berea, admirable as it is, happens to be tiny. It graduated about 315 lower-income students last year. By comparison, N.Y.U. graduated more than 1,000 lower-income students. Arizona State — located in the state suffering from the deepest college funding cuts — graduated 7,500 such students. McConnell hasn’t done any “insisting” on their behalf.

All of this hypocrisy is certainly maddening. But as the old saying goes: Don’t get mad, get even. The Trumpism-for-thee phenomenon helps point the way to fighting back against Trumpism.

In other countries, the most effective way to stop recent demagogues has been to treat them as normal politicians who are failing to deliver on their promises, as Luigi Zingales of the University of Chicago has noted. Don’t focus mostly on the outrages, the insults and the scandals. Most voters have become inured to them. Focus instead on the demagogue’s policies and job performance. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 February 2018 at 2:56 pm

Houston-Area Officials Approved a Plan for Handling a Natural Disaster — Then Ignored It

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Government can do a lot of good if it attracts competent people, but if is filled with incompetents, the ball will be dropped. Jessica Huseman and Decca Muldowney report in ProPublica:

Seven months before Hurricane Harvey inundated the Houston area with a trillion gallons of water and led to widespread criticism of the Red Cross, Harris County adopted a disaster-preparation plan that’s key assumption was that the Red Cross would be slow to act. “In a major disaster where there is widespread damage, the local resources of the Red Cross may be overwhelmed and not available immediately,” stated the plan. “It may be upwards of 7 days before the Red Cross can assume a primary care and shelter role.”

The 17-page document, entitled the “Mass Shelter Plan,” was unanimously approved by the county’s governing body on Jan. 31, 2017. ProPublica obtained the plan, which until now has not been public, as part of a public records request.

The Mass Shelter Plan described the Red Cross as the county’s “lead partner” but was unequivocal in assigning responsibility should a calamity occur: “In the event of an emergency that requires evacuation of all or any part of the Harris County population, Harris County is ultimately responsible for the coordination of the evacuation, shelter and mass care of displaced local residents.”

The goal, according to a county spokesperson, was to provide shelter for up to 10,000 displaced residents. (Harris County’s population is 4.5 million; roughly half of those people live in Houston.) The plan proposed that county employees be trained as shelter volunteers, outlined specific roles for shelter staff and indicated the county would identify and survey buildings that could be used for emergency housing beyond those already identified by the American Red Cross.

“The main idea behind the plan is to have county personnel staff and manage the shelters up to 7 days until ARC volunteers can transition operations,” county emergency management planner David Alamia wrote in a December 2016 email obtained by ProPublica.

But in the seven months between the plan’s passage and the landfall of Harvey, the county took few steps to implement its strategy. Indeed, when dire flooding forced thousands of people from their homes, 3,036 emails obtained in a public records request suggest, officials didn’t even seem aware that a plan existed.

“Harris County had the forethought to identify — and rightfully so — that the Red Cross might not be able to be there for upwards of seven days depending on storm severity, and then they didn’t follow through on their plans,” said Meghan McPherson, an adjunct professor of emergency management at Tulane University, who reviewed the plan at ProPublica’s request. “It doesn’t seem they made a connection between what they promised the public and what they did.”

Hurricane Harvey, which struck in late August last year, generated a heroic response. The tales of citizens taking care of each other and volunteers improvising were legion. By contrast, the Red Cross came in for lacerating criticism. Local media chronicled myriad problems. Cities within Harris County emailed the county’s emergency management office asking for Red Cross help and the county acknowledged it couldn’t send it. “I hate to say this, but the Red Cross is completely out of resources,” county official Kristina Clark told the fire marshal in Humble, Texas. She advised him to open his own shelter, and get the word out that evacuees would need to bring “THEIR OWN food, sleeping bags, clothes, medication, etc.” One Houston councilman grew so exasperated that he confronted the Red Cross’ CEO in a parking lot and called the Red Cross, during a council meeting, the “most inept, unorganized organization I’ve ever experienced.”

For its part, Harris County’s emergency management department clearly scrambled to open shelters on short notice, emails show. Indeed, employees seemed taken aback that their department would have a role. “As far as coordinating mass care, GOODNESS we had to do that too,” wrote Stevee Franks, a recovery specialist in the county’s office of homeland security and emergency management, in a Sept. 10 email to a peer in a nearby county. “Shelter after shelter and Red Cross was absolutely no help.” As she put it, “we had to open shelters ourselves which was stupid stressful.” (We have left the spelling and punctuation in emails as is. Franks did not respond to a request for comment.)

Franks’ email did not mention that the county had passed a plan to avoid this exact scenario — nor did any of the emails examined by ProPublica.

Similarly, Steve Radack, a Harris County commissioner for nearly three decades, seemed unaware of the existence of the plan — which he voted for — when asked about it in an interview with ProPublica. “I cannot speak to that,” he said.

Like many, Radack praised the efforts of volunteers in the aftermath of Harvey. But as stirring as those efforts were, the Mass Shelter Plan envisioned a more centrally organized approach that emphasized training. “Harris County employees will have the opportunity to be trained in Shelter Operations,” it stated.

The plan cited more than a dozen roles that could be filled by shelter staff, and noted that the Red Cross recommended six staff members per 100 shelterees. But in the months between the plan’s passage and the landfall of Harvey, the county hosted only one training, for about 40 volunteers, in May 2017.

Paul Suckow, a senior planner with the Harris County Community Services Department, was among those trained. He said the group was taught the basics of shelter operations: what needed to be set up before the public arrived, how to assemble and clean the cots the Red Cross would provide and what to do with other supplies. All of the scenarios they role-played, Suckow said, assumed that a shelter run by the Red Cross would already be set up and waiting. Opening and managing a shelter, he said, “would be a higher level of training than we received.”

Harris County emergency management spokesman Francisco Sanchez said only one training session was held because that was all the county and the Red Cross — which offered the training — had time to organize. A second training was scheduled for Aug. 30. It was canceled, Sanchez said, because of Harvey.

Sanchez said the Mass Care Plan came about as a result of “candid conversations” with the Red Cross about its sheltering capacity during flooding events after previous missteps in the county. “There is a tendency,” he said, “for American Red Cross process or flow to become very challenged, quite frankly overwhelmed, in flooding events.” But plans are made to be changed in emergencies, Sanchez said, and that’s what happened after Harvey hit. “A plan is flexible,” he said. “It’s scalable. We can apply it and we can adapt it — and we can throw the rules out the window to serve the residents of Harris County.”

Other county officials mostly sidestepped questions about the lack of preparation and defended their efforts. . .

Continue reading.

There’s lots more. Later in the article:

Among our requests for documents, ProPublica asked for a list of shelters that the county had identified and surveyed in advance, as the Mass Shelter Plan called for. That request yielded an unexpected response.

Harris County did not provide any emails showing such preparation, but did — seemingly unintentionally — send internal emails in which county officials discussed ProPublica’s request with each other. An email dated Nov. 1, 2017, sent by Brian Murray, the office of emergency management’s planning supervisor, indicated that the shelter surveys envisioned by the county plan “do not, and never did, exist.”

Rosio Torres-Segura, a media specialist for emergency management, then emailed her supervisor, asking, “Do you want to reply to the reporter or do you want me to tell her these documents do not exist. She’s going to ask why?”

That supervisor, Francisco Sanchez, then told ProPublica the reason they did not exist was because the county had decided to leave the task to the Red Cross. “The end result of the plan and how it was implemented included extensive dialogue offline where we came to an understanding with the American Red Cross that they had unique expertise in selecting and inspecting pre-identified sites,” he said. “As hurricane season approached, it made sense to rely on the work of the American Red Cross and their existing inspections so we could be prepared to act more swiftly in the event of a storm that threatened our community.”

The Red Cross offered a different recollection. The organization “was always under the impression that the county might take steps to identify additional shelters beyond those listed” in the Red Cross system, said spokeswoman Elizabeth Penninman. “That kind of flexibility is critical in large and complex disasters like the response to Hurricane Harvey.”

Speaking more broadly, Penninman disputed the premise of Harris County’s plan. A seven-day response, she wrote in a statement, is “not the Red Cross standard, nor does it reflect the actual performance of the Red Cross and its partners. The Red Cross national standard is to respond immediately, maintain sufficient local resources to handle 48 hours of emergency sheltering activity, and resource for planned peak shelter populations within the continental United States within 96 hours.” Penninman asserted that within 48 hours of the arrival of Harvey, “the Red Cross had 6 shelters open in Harris County with a population of 3,649.” And by 96 hours in, she said, the Red Cross was operating 43 shelters serving 14,154 people.

Asked about the county’s failure to identify shelters in advance, Sanchez pointed to a space that was used successfully — the NRG Convention Center, which ended up housing 7,400 people — but only at the last minute. According to Sanchez, “Many of the relationships necessary to make that happen were a direct result of writing the mass shelter plan.”

But Rene Solis, who leads disaster relief efforts for BakerRiply, said he was unaware of the Mass Shelter Plan. BakerRipley, a nonprofit that focuses on community development, ran the emergency operations at the NRG Center.

The decision to allow BakerRipley to manage the NRG Center was made only the day before the shelter opened, Solis said. “There was no expectation or plan for us to [manage] the NRG Center,” Solis said. “It came about because of urgent need.”

Asked to identify any ways in which the county adhered to the Mass Shelter Plan, Sanchez said the county “worked to secure a cache of cots and other supplies” to supplement the Red Cross’ resources; updated the county’s mapping system to reflect the location of existing Red Cross shelters; and “worked extensively to strengthen partnerships with school districts and nonprofits that might support shelter operations.”

Here, too, some of Sanchez’s assertions didn’t square with the memories of others, in this case the Houston Independent School District. “No one from the county asked HISD for anything,” said school district spokesperson Lorena Cozzari, “nor did HISD ask the county for anything during the storm.”

Notwithstanding the steadfast defense of county efforts by its executives, some staffers seemed to recognize, in emails they sent in the weeks after Harvey, that the planning didn’t go as well as hoped.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 February 2018 at 2:47 pm

The Deadly Rule of the Oligarchs

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Chris Hedges writes at TruthDig:

Oligarchic rule, as Aristotle pointed out, is a deviant form of government. Oligarchs care nothing for competency, intelligence, honesty, rationality, self-sacrifice or the common good. They pervert, deform and dismantle systems of power to serve their immediate interests, squandering the future for short-term personal gain. “The true forms of government, therefore, are those in which the one, or the few, or the many, govern with a view to the common interest; but governments that rule with a view to the private interest, whether of the one, of the few or of the many, are perversions,” Aristotle wrote. The classicist Peter L.P. Simpson calls these perversions the “sophistry of oligarchs,” meaning that once oligarchs take power, rational, prudent and thoughtful responses to social, economic and political problems are ignored to feed insatiable greed. The late stage of every civilization is characterized by the sophistry of oligarchs, who ravage the decaying carcass of the state.

These deviant forms of government are defined by common characteristics, most of which Aristotle understood. Oligarchs use power and ruling structures solely for personal advancement.

Oligarchs, though they speak of deconstructing the administrative state, actually increase deficits and the size and power of law enforcement and the military to protect their global business interests and ensure domestic social control. The parts of the state that serve the common good wither in the name of deregulation and austerity. The parts that promote the oligarchs’ power expand in the name of national security, economic growth and law and order.

For example, the oligarchs educate their children in private schools and buy them admissions into elite universities (this is how a mediocre student like Jared Kushner went to Harvard and Donald Trump went to the University of Pennsylvania), so they see no need to fund good public education for the wider population. Oligarchs can pay teams of high-priced lawyers to bail them and their families out of legal trouble. There is no need, in their eyes, to provide funds for legal representation for the poor. When oligarchs do not fly on private jets, they fly in first class, so they permit airlines to fleece and abuse “economy” passengers. They do not use subways, buses or trains, and they slash funds for the maintenance and improvement of these services. Oligarchs have private clinics and private doctors, so they do not want to pay for public health or Medicare. Oligarchs detest the press, which when it works shines a light on their corruption and mendacity, so they buy up and control systems of information and push their critics to the margins of society, something they will accelerate with the abolition of net neutrality.

Oligarchs do not vacation on public beaches or in public parks. They own their own land and estates, where we are not allowed. They see no reason to maintain or fund public parks or protect public land. They hand such land over to other oligarchs to exploit for profit. Oligarchs cynically view laws as mechanisms to legalize their fraud and plunder. They use their lobbyists in the legislative branch of government to author bills that increase and protect their wealth, through the avoidance of taxes and other means. Oligarchs do not allow free and fair elections. They use gerrymandering and campaign contributions to make sure other oligarchs are elected over and over to office. Many run unopposed.

Oligarchs look at regulations to protect the environment or the safety of workers as impediments to profit and abolish them. Oligarchs move industries to Mexico or China to increase their wealth while impoverishing American workers and leaving U.S. cities in ruins. Oligarchs are philistines. They are deaf, dumb and blind to great works of art, reveling in tawdry spectacles, patriotic kitsch and mindless entertainment. They despise artists and intellectuals who promote virtues and self-criticism that conflict with the lust for power, celebrity and wealth. Oligarchs always unleash wars on culture, attacking it as elitist, irrelevant and immoral and cutting its funding. All social services and institutions, such as public housing programs, public parks, meals for the elderly, infrastructure projects, welfare and Social Security, are viewed by oligarchs as a waste of money. These services are gutted or turned over to fellow oligarchs, who harvest them for profit until they are destroyed.

Oligarchs, who do not serve in the military and who ensure their children do not serve in the military, pretend to be great patriots. They attack those who oppose them as anti-American, traitors or agents for a foreign power. They use the language of patriotism to stoke hatred against their critics and to justify their crimes. They see the world in black and white—those who are loyal to them and those who are the enemy. They extent this stunted belief system to foreign affairs. Diplomacy is abandoned for the crude threats and indiscriminate use of force that are the preferred forms of communication of all despots.

There is little dispute that we live in an oligarchic state.  . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 February 2018 at 12:17 pm

Lead, Crime, and New York City

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The lead-crime hypothesis has been solidly verified, but journalists seem to remain ignorant of it. Kevin Drum in Mother Jones points out the most recent example of journalistic ignorance on display:

A whole bunch of people have emailed to ask what I think of Adam Gopnik’s latest piece in the New Yorker“The Great Crime Decline.” It’s a review of Patrick Sharkey’s new book, “Uneasy Peace: The Great Crime Decline, the Renewal of City Life, and the Next War on Violence.” Sharkey’s basic point is that crime is bad, a view that I hardly need to be convinced of, but he seems to have an unfortunately conventional view of why it declined so much in the 90s and aughts:

What made the crime wave happen and what made it halt?…[Sharkey] is an enthusiast of the hypothesis that local community organizing was a key factor in the crime drop….He also finds that incarceration accounted for some of the crime decline, and so did more aggressive policing.

….Sharkey, as good as he is at explaining what happened—whom it helped, what it permitted—isn’t as good at explaining why it happened. The curious truth is that the decline in crime happened across the entire Western world, in East London just as it did in the South Bronx. At the same time, the relative decline in New York was significantly bigger than elsewhere. Sharkey’s guess that the crime decline can be attributed to the uncomfortable but potent intersection of community action and coercive policing seems about as good as any….With the crime wave, it would seem, small measures that pushed the numbers down by some noticeable amount engendered a virtuous circle that brought the numbers further and further down.

….We cured the crime wave without fixing “the broken black family,” that neocon bugaboo. For that matter, we cured it without greater income equality or even remotely solving the gun problem. The story of the crime decline is about the wisdom of single steps and small sanities.

In some sense I don’t blame Gopnik for this. He’s primarily an essayist and critic, not a social scientist or a reporter who specializes in urban policing. At the same time, reviewing a book in an unfamiliar field and then shrugging his shoulders and saying the book’s guess about crime “seems about as good as any”—well, even an essayist might think about spending an hour or two googling to get up to speed on alternate theories.

Sharkey, of course, is a different matter. For some reason he doesn’t explain, he dismisses the effect of lead as “vastly overstated” and says he finds it “difficult to believe” that the crime decline was caused by either lead or any other exogenous shock. Ten years ago that would have been fine. Today it’s journalistic malpractice. And the weird thing is that if Sharkey had spent any time with the lead-crime hypothesis, he would have found that it was practically made to order for him. Check this out:

A real problem, going forward, is the one identified by Black Lives Matter and associated groups: police violence. As the social cost of stop-and-frisk and mass incarceration has become, rightly, intolerable, we ask if the crime decline, with its unprecedented benefits for the marginalized populations, can survive. Sharkey emphatically thinks it can, and so far there’s no evidence to counter his view.

….Effects that we don’t normally track are surely related to the crime decline, not least the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement itself. Without a general understanding that crime was no longer the real problem but that the response to crime might be, the movement could not have caught a surprisingly large, sympathetic audience….Ironically, though the urban crime wave is over, it still persists as a kind of zombified general terror, particularly in places where it was never particularly acute.

Sharkey very much wants to persuade us that the crime decline is permanent, and that we should change our policing and incarceration strategies to recognize this. He’s absolutely right, but the best evidence for this is the lead-crime connection. It was lead that poisoned young brains and produced a generation of criminals. With the lead mostly gone, young people today are back to normal. They just aren’t as dangerous as they used to be, and that change is permanent. It’s really peculiar that Sharkey dismisses this, given how strongly it reinforces his point. It’s also peculiar since it explains otherwise mysterious things like the fact that crime declined throughout the world, not just in the United States.

But in another way, this isn’t surprising. I don’t understand why this is so, but for some reason New Yorkers seem to be especially resistant to recognizing lead as a prime cause of crime. Part of this, I suppose, is that New York was ground zero of the great crime wave and New Yorkers have been bombarded with theories about crime for decades now: Bill Bratton, CompStat, Rudy Giuliani, broken windows, community policing, stop-and-frisk, the breakdown of the black family, etc. etc. More than any other city, they’ve been told over and over and over that the great crime decline is due to various interventions by the great and good. But the truth is that although New York’s crime rate fell faster than the national average, it didn’t fall any faster than it did in other big cities, all of which have seen violent crime rates drop by 70-80 percent since 1991:

I don’t know why Sharkey so casually dismisses the effect of lead, since it explains so much: the overall decline in crime; the decline in different cities with different policing strategies; the international decline in crime; the fact that crime rose and fell more in big cities than in rural areas; and the fact that crime rose and fell more among blacks. No other theory comes close to explaining all this, or to explaining why crime rose in the first place. In the end, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 February 2018 at 11:09 am

The GOP has been corrupted by Trump

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Juan Williams writes in The Hill:

Wow, what happened to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)?

In the last year, Ryan has squandered his stellar reputation as a smart, conservative visionary. By excusing President Trump’s bad behavior, he has made it clear his only priorities are that Trump put conservatives on the Supreme Court and sign tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefit the rich and corporations.

Similarly, what happened to Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.)?

The man who once called out the president for turning the White House into an “adult day care center” vowed never to vote for a tax cut bill that added “one penny” to the deficit.

Corker voted against an early draft of the tax cut law. But he then jumped on board when a provision was inserted into the law that would greatly increase his personal wealth through tax treatment of his commercial real estate holdings. Corker denied any impropriety.

The fact remains that Corker switched his vote and voted for a bill that added billions of pennies to the deficit while feathering his own nest. He could have shown real courage and voted ‘No.’ He did not.

And what happened to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)?

McConnell once took pride in defying Trump by having his Republican majority pass a law last year to punish Russia by imposing sanctions on countries buying military equipment from that nation. The penalties were intended to penalize Russia for interfering in the 2016 election and stop its ongoing meddling in American politics.

But McConnell had little to say when the Trump administration said in late January that it would not impose Congress’s sanctions.

Ryan, Corker and McConnell are leading GOP lights who have ceded their party’s moral center in service to protecting Trump.

Until Trump came along, the party stood for cutting federal spending. It was the pro-immigration party. And after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Republicans backed the secret surveillance provisions of the Patriot Act to protect against spies and terrorists.

Now it is a different party.

Currently, congressional Republicans make excuses for refusing to put checks and balances on the excesses of Trump’s executive branch.

Today’s GOP offers political cover for a man with no history in the party as he denigrates, degrades, and destroys vital American institutions, including law enforcement, the free press and the GOP.

Ryan is the biggest disappointment.

Even if you disagree with him, Ryan has a history of standing up for what he thinks is right.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, a fearless Ryan said Trump, then the leading candidate for the GOP nomination, was wrong to attack an Indiana judge because the judge had Mexican ancestry. Ryan pulled no punches in calling out Trump for making “the textbook definition of a racist statement.”

Now Ryan is looking the other way on far more damaging Trump behavior.

He ignored pleadings from the Justice Department and the FBI to stop the release of a classified memo — written by Republicans — that purportedly showed wrongdoing by law enforcement in obtaining a warrant to conduct surveillance of a known friend to Russian intelligence, the Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Ryan said the memo had nothing to do with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign. It was about misconduct by some agents, he said.

But once it was out, Trump tweeted that the memo “totally vindicates” him, even though it said nothing about collusion or obstruction of justice, the focus of Mueller’s work.

When Ryan was asked about this, he mumbled and walked away from reporters.

He had no explanation for allowing his credibility to be used by Trump. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 February 2018 at 10:56 am

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