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NATIONAL SECURITY!!! FEAR

WHO SHOULD WE FEAR??

“We must keep our country safe”, says Donald Trump at a campaign-style rally in Florida yesterday.  BUT HOW??? That’s really the question we all need to ponder. It’s best to look at the facts, the statistics and then make a rational decision as to who or what you really need to fear.  Here are the FACTS:

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Falling Off A Ladder Is Not Fun

  1. MEXICAN DRUG DEALERS, MURDERERS AND RAPISTS:  That sounds quite ominous, however, that statement wasn’t backed up with any facts or statistics.  I have a cottage on the Jersey Shore in an area heavily populated with Mexicans.  I see them carrying vacuum cleaners and buckets into homes they are cleaning. I see them bussing tables at all of the restaurants all over the shore.  And at 5:00pm when they are finished working and the beach is free, I see whole families walking to the beach past my porch.  So I for one, am not going to put Mexicans, illegal or otherwise, on my fear list.  NO FEAR
  2. TERRORISM:  Isis is a heinous organization.  Are most of their members Muslim? Yes!    Do all Muslims belong to Isis? No! I am very concerned about our national security and especially my own since I live in New York City which is, a) the Financial Capital of the world, b) a coastal city, and c) densely populated. BUT here are some interesting points;  
  3. Between 1975-2015, terrorists born in the 7 countries designated by the Trump Ban have killed ZERO people. Yes, ZERO according the to Cato Institute.*  NO FEAR
  4. GUNS: In the same period, GUNS killed 1,340,000 people including murders, suicides and accidents.*  1.34M that’s a lot of people!  A whole lot of people! FEAR
  5. It’s TRUE that MUSLIM AMERICANS  both born in the U.S. and immigrants from countries other than those subject to the Trump travel ban, have carried out deadly terrorism in America.  There has been 123 such murders since the 9/11 attack and 230,000 other murders.* NO FEAR
  6. Last year Americans were less likely to be killed by Muslim terrorists than being one. That risk is approximately one in a million! * NO FEAR
  7. LADDERS, STAIRS, BATHTUBS AND LIGHTNING kill more Americans than Muslim terrorists. FEAR
  8. HUSBANDS:  are scary because in America, they can have guns.  In other countries, brutal husbands put wives in the hospital.  In America, they put them in the grave.*  FEAR
  9. “I will get rid of  GUN-FREE ZONES ON SCHOOLS”, Trump said last year.  “My first day, it gets signed, OK, my first day.”*  He hasn’t yet…. FEAR
  10. The House of Representatives voted last month to end the restriction on people with severe psychiatric disorders buying guns.*  FEAR
  11. SILENCERS:  “It’s about hearing protection,” Donald Jr. (Trump) explained in a video made for SilencerCo. , A Utah company that makes silencers. “It’s a health issue, frankly.”*… FEAR
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In this case Silence is NOT Golden

**Information derived and quoted from the New York Times article by Nicholas Kristof.

The only fear we have to fear is fear itself.

Remember Seven Days in May??

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A/K/A Three Weeks in the White House

Well, we are three weeks or so into the new administration and it seems as if we can measure the chaos or dysfunction in seven day increments.  The first two weeks of February were particularly “busy” for the White House, the Press Secretary, the news reporters, the political analysts and let’s not forget the Facebook posters and the bloggers (lol).

The highlight or rather the LOW point of this first half of the month was probably Mitch McConnell’s authoritative, paternalistic, demeaning dictum citing Rule 19!  “SHE WAS WARNED, SHE WAS GIVEN AN EXPLANATION. NEVERTHELESS, SHE PERSISTED”.  OMG! The very nerve of her!  Well those words will live on in infamy for quite a while.  When spoken, they have a great cadence.  You will be hearing this mantra from feminists, you will see it emblazoned on tee shirts and baseball caps.  The very MINUTE I heard it, I wanted to design a tee shirt for Cafe Press and make a million dollars. 

But that was only one incident in a cacophony of chaos and crisis;  Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch uneasy with Trump’s Tweet calling Judge James Robert a “so-called judge” was quoted saying that the comments were “disheartening” and “demoralizing”.

Then there was the TOTALLY UNFOUNDED and UNTRUE  remarks by Mr. Trump that the media (newspapers and news reporters) do not report terrorist attacks to the public.  Mr. Trump knows better because he is all about ratings and he knows that disruption and disaster are always bigly news and bring bigly ratings.  So why in the world would ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and MSNBC overlook and omit such a news opportunity?

In an interview with Bill O’Reilly, Trump again defended Vladimir Putin;  O’Reilly said, “He’s a killer though. Putin’s a killer”.  To which Donald Trump replied, “There are a lot of killers,” Trump replied. “We’ve got a lot of killers. What, do you think our country’s so innocent?”….  After O’Reilly said he did not “know of any government leaders that are killers”, Trump turned to the Iraq war, seeming to equate George W. Bush with Putin, though he did not name the former president.

Who knows what and when?  Yesterday in the late afternoon, Kellyanne Conway appeared on MSNBC and when questioned about Mike Flynn’s position as National Security Advisor, her response was, “Yes, Gen. Flynn does enjoy the full confidence of the president,”.  Within the next hour or so, Sean Spicer, Press Secretary informed the news media that the president was “evaluating the situation”.  And late last evening Mr. Flynn tendered his resignation to the president.  Yet today we have heard that Mike Flynn offered his resignation  because he knew he was a lightening rod and then we heard from Sean Spicer that the president asked for and accepted the Flynn letter of resignation!   So I repeat who knows what and when?

Dinner at Mar-a-Lago with Japan’s Prime Minister turned into yet another bit of drama à la Donald.  Smack dab in the middle of the resort’s public dining room, not only did Mr. Trump take a call on his cell phone, it has also been reported that papers were passed and discussed in plain view of the  dining room’s guests as well as waiters and the piano player.  Oh dear, short memory all around!  Remember it was a waiter who brought Mitt Romney down with recording of his (Romney) offhand remarks about the infamous 40%.  And let’s not forget how horrified every Republican was with the carelessness of Hillary Clinton and her private server.  Note the word private with server and public with the dining room. National security where art thou?

Time for one more faux pas which is my own rather mild term for Kellyanne Conway’s gross error (and in some minds law-breaking ) remark urging the public to “Go buy Ivanka’s clothes”.  And how did Kellyanne get herself into this position?  Her boss tweeted, 

@realDonaldTrump

My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!10:51 AM – 8 Feb 2017   A father defending his daughter is certainly admirable and okay BUT Mr. Trump should NOT have used the White House Twitter account!  Yes he did in addition to a personal tweet.

Stay tuned….

I’m perversely glad that Donald Trump is president (not mine of course), because he has brought enlightenment and commitment to our household.  My husband is pleased and happy that I am now reading more than the Wednesday Food Section and Sunday Styles in the daily delivery of the New York Times to our apartment.  Maureen Dowd, Nicholas Kristof (well I became a fan of his way back to Darfur), Charles Blow and the letters to the Editor are now part of my morning routine.  And as the day wanes I’m often drawn to my blog so I can spout, pout, complain about Mr. Trump.  I had virtually abandoned my blog over a year ago but this seemingly endless supply of content and the deeply disturbing emotion Trump stirs in me, have breathed new life into Pbenjay’s Blog.

Maureen Dowd wrote about the silver – NO make that the  gold lining one can find in the daily chaos in the Oval Office.  She mentioned how “he has breathed new zest into a wide range of things: feminism, liberalism, student activism, newspapers, cable news, protesters, bartenders, shrinks, Twitter, the A.C.L.U., “S.N.L.”, town halls, George Orwell, Margaret Atwood, Hannah Arendt, Stephen Colbert, Nordstrom, the Federalist Papers, separation of church and state, athletes and coaches taking political stands and Frederick Douglass.”

Every time DT mentions “the “failing” New York Times, the digital subscriptions and the stock price jumps.  Americans are eager for help negotiating the disorienting Trumpeana Oceana Upside Down dimension rife with gas lighting, trolling, leaking lying and conflicts”.

Look what he has done for “Saturday Night Live”!  I haven’t watched that show in years and now the show’s ratings are at 20-year high.  The power of the Tweet is proving to be a boon to “S.N.L..”

Personally I’ve found new words to integrate into my vocabulary and bring new life and meaning to some old ones.  During the very long campaign, I found myself wondering about the stamina of some friends and the temperament of my spouse and co-workers. Up until one of the debates I hadn’t thought of the people I might not be friendly with or didn’t care to associate with as a basket of deplorables.  And how clever to refer to some of those same people as skittles.

I thought the spike in my blog readership was all about me but then I realized how braggadocious I sounded and so let me give credit where credit is due and say “thank you Mr. President” for injecting new life and humor into my writing.  I’ve also become acutely aware of the dangers of cyberwarfare,  wondering just when my blog will be hacked by some  fat 400 lb. guy sitting on his bed somewhere.  Some days I never leave my apartment because you never know when you’re going to be the subject of stop and frisk.  These are dangerous times, you know!

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The Russians Are Here!

Well they’re not really here, in fact they were Ukrainians.  Yesterday afternoon, we went to The Lehman Arts Center and watched the most amazing performance of Russian classical music expertly performed by The National Symphony Orchestra of the Ukraine.

The land of the Czars and Tzars has given us some of the greatest composers in the 19th and 20th Centuries.  To name a few and some of their more well known concertos and symphonies: Pyotr Iliyich Tchaikovsky – Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, 1812 Overture.  Igor Stravinsky – Rite of Spring, The Firebird, Petrushka.  Dmitri Shostokovich – Suite on Finnish Themes,  Sergei Rachmaninoff -Rhapsody on a Theme of Pagagnini, Monna Vanna, Piano Concerto I and II, Sergei Prokofiev – Peter and the Wolf, Romeo and Juliet, The Love of Three Oranges, Nicolai Rimsky-Korsokov-Capriccio Espagnol, and my favorite Scherherazade.  So much talent!

The first piece was Rachmoninoff’s Symphony No.3 and it was an elaborate production with full orchestra and three movements.  From where we were seated, I had a full-on view of the whole orchestra. Besides the usual violins, violas, cellos, oboes, French horns, clarinets and bass fiddle, Rachmoninoff included a harp, a triangle, symbals, a tambourine, and percussion.  Most of Sergei Rachmoninoff’s work is complex, especially his piano concertos, and in this Symphony it was quite evident.

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Dima Tkachenko – Violin Virtuouso

The real highlight of the concert was Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with soloist Dima Tkachenko.  He was a child prodigy playing the piano and the violin before he was six!!  He has won numerous competitions and was awarded the Guildhall School Concert Recital Diploma (Premier Prix).  I was overwhelmed and swept away by his mastery of his instrument.  Like most virtuosos, in his hands the violin becomes an extension of himself.  Pure genius.  Under his expert manipulation, the violin sang, I mean really sang.  In his intensity, he broke at least 8 strings on the bow.  The violin is a wondrous instrument capable of producing an unbelievable number of sounds and notes in rapid succession.  The standing ovation lasted long enough to convince Dima to give us an encore.  And OMG, he played for at least another 10 minutes.  I don’t know what he was performing but it seemed to incorporate every nuance of sound and technique known to man and violin.

The Firebird Suite is one of Stravinsky’s better known compositions.  I have heard it many times however, the technical proficiency and emotional commitment of this orchestra is quite extraordinary.

Lastly, we were treated to a brief and informative talk by the conductor, Theodore Kuchar, who gave us some history of the conflicts his country has undergone for 100 years.  He explained that pure Ukranian music existed outside of better known Russian composers and proceeded to introduce a famous Ukranian piece.  We also were treated to a beautiful excerpt from a movie soundtrack created by Ukranian born Myroslav Skoryk.

All in all, I can’t think of a better way to have spent this gray, rainy and chilly Sunday afternoon.  It was a peaceful and joyful break from the daily stress of the political shenanigans going on.

 

One of my favorite columnists in the New York Times is Nicholas Kristof; the title of this blog was the heading of his column published on Thursday, February 9th.  Apparently he challenged his readers to write a poem about Mr. Trump, some of which he published this week.

There was one in particular that caught my eye and I’m sort of borrowing it with credit given to its author, Dan Letwin, a history professor at Penn State.  His piece is titled “Ode to Alternative Facts”.

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An Enlightened Child

” Well now, Kellyanne Conway has lately conceived of a new understanding   of what to believe.    When the truth gives you heartburn, don’t worry, relax.    You can always resort to alternative facts.   Oh it works for the Donald and all of his hacks    As they go  ’bout promoting their retrograde acts.    Don’t fret if your documentation is lax.   You can always get by with alternative facts.    Don’t fear all those women with signs on their backs    The straight and the queer, the whites and blacks.   You can trivialize them with snide little cracks    And wash them away with alternative facts.   Just as loggers might swing an alternative ax    And fell a giant tree  with alternative whacks.   When the truth won’t cooperate, try some new tacks.    We live in an age of alternative facts!”

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Fake America Out Again

I know I’m a day late and a dollar short but I just can’t pass up an opportunity to tell it like it is!  Thursdays are great for my Top Ten List and for Throwback Thursdays.  This Thursday is all about mendacity, as Big Daddy would say in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.  The subtitle of this blog could easily be named Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire!

You can call a rose by any other name and it’s still a rose and that goes for lies also.  Lately lies have been called untruths, alternative facts, and misspoken words.  A lie is a lie is a lie!

 LIE: Feb. 7, 2017: Lied that the murder rate was the highest in 45 years 

FACT: The US murder rate is at close to an all-time low, and law enforcement experts say Trump’s claim is so far away from the facts that it’s ludicrous. Based on FBI statistics, the murder rate was 5.0 homicides per 100,000 people in 2015, down from a peak in 1980 of 10.2 per 100,000 people. The highest number of total homicides was in 1991, when 24,703 were killed. Though several US cities have seen the number of murders rise from 2015 to 2016, the overall number is still dramatically lower than what it was in the 1980s and 1990s.

LIE: Feb. 6, 2017: Claimed that terrorist attacks across Europe are “not even being reported”. Trump says, “the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report” on terrorism: “They have their reasons, and you understand that.”

FACT: The Paris and Nice attacks that Trump mentioned in his speech were extensively covered by every major US media organization. Other attacks that have also received extensive media attention include an attack in Brussels in March 2016, as well as an incident in February 2017 at the Louvre museum in Paris in which a man attempted to use a machete and was shot by a soldier.

LIE:  (Tweet 1+2) Donald J. Trump ✔@realDonaldTrump
Only 109 people out of 325,000 were detained and held for questioning. Big problems at airports were caused by Delta computer outage,…..
7:16 AM – 30 Jan 2017

Donald J. Trump ✔@realDonaldTrump
protesters and the tears of Senator Schumer. Secretary Kelly said that all is going well with very few problems. MAKE AMERICA SAFE AGAIN!
7:20 AM – 30 Jan 2017

FACT: The mass outrage and confusion at airports from Friday through Sunday was caused by Trump’s executive order itself, which travelers, immigration attorneys, airlines, judges, and custom officials struggled to interpret. Delta’s outage didn’t happen until Sunday night, and no protesters interrupted the arrivals process at airports. 

LIE: Jan. 26, 2017: Lied about Mexico’s president “agreeing to cancel” a meeting

FACT: Hours earlier, Peña Nieto tweeted that he called the White House to cancel the meeting, adding, “I lament and reject the decision of the United States to continue building a wall that for years does not unite us, but divides us.”

LIE: “Look, when President Obama was there two weeks ago making a speech, a very nice speech. Two people were shot and killed during his speech,” Trump told ABC News’ David Muir. “They weren’t shot at the speech. But they were shot in the city of Chicago during his speech.”

FACT:  Chicago Police told BuzzFeed News there were no people killed by gun violence on Jan. 10. A log of shootings in the city also showed there were five non-fatal shootings in the city that day, but none occurred while Obama gave his speech.

LIE: “You have people who are registered who are dead, who are illegals, who are in two states,” Trump told ABC’s David Muir. “You have people registered in two states. You have people registered in New York and New Jersey. They vote twice.” He also cited a Pew report as evidence, saying, “Take a look at the Pew reports.”

FACT: There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud. The National Association of Secretaries of State — which has a majority of Republicans — said it is “not aware of any evidence that supports the voter fraud claims made by President Trump.” And in a Michigan legal filing by Trump’s lawyers after the election, they wrote, “All available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake.”

LIE:  Trump finished his ABC News interview by pointing to framed photographs hung on a wall. “Here’s a picture of the crowd,” he said. “The audience was the biggest ever. This audience was massive, look how far back it goes.” He then pointed to another panoramic photo, saying the crowd — which he described as “a sea of love” — goes “all the way down.”

FACT: The audience wasn’t “the biggest ever.” As mentioned above, photographs from the inauguration show the crowd did not extend as far back as Trump claims it did.

LIE: The inaugural crowd “looked honestly like a million and a half people” adding that “it went all the way back to the Washington Monument.”

FACT: Aerial photos of the crowd at 11a.m. and 12 p.m. — around the time Trump took the oath of office — show that the crowd witnessing the inauguration did not extend back to the Washington Monument. 

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Inauguration Day January 20th 2017

LIE: Trump said God favored him during his inaugural address by stopping rain from falling when he spoke. “And then it became really sunny,” he said. 

FACT: In fact, It rained throughout his speech.

LIE:   Feb. 7, 2017  Twitter – The claim: “It is a disgrace that my full Cabinet is still not in place, the longest such delay in the history of our country.”

FACT: Trump does not even come close to the record for the longest delay before having a full cabinet in place. We only have to go back one presidency for proof: Barack Obama didn’t have his final cabinet member confirmed until April 28, 2009, 99 days into his presidency. Trump wasn’t even a full 19 days into his presidency when he posted this tweet.

Unfortunately there are more, many more alternative facts, faleshoods – perhaps another Thursday…

 

Now It’s Nordstrom

When Mr. Trump lashed out at businesses such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin it was in the interest of the country to bring back jobs and to cut prices on government contracts.  Of course he has also been berating various news organizations and that’s hardly in the country’s best interests.  

But now it’s Nordstrom who is getting a tongue lashing from our even-tempered, thoughtful and thick-skinned public figure inhabiting the White House.  LOL, LOL.

Here is an excerpt from the New York Times article pertaining to the President tweeting (how surprising!) his dismay about Nordstrom dropping Ivanka Trump’s line of products. 

President Trump lashed out on Wednesday at the Nordstrom department store chain for dropping his daughter Ivanka’s clothing and accessories line, once again raising ethical questions about the relationship between his presidency and his family’s sprawling business interests….

….Six days after Nordstrom announced that, based on sales, it would no longer carry Ms. Trump’s products — a decision that prompted some Trump supporters to call for a boycott of the stores — the president took to Twitter to complain that “Ivanka has been treated so unfairly” by the company. He first posted the message from his personal account, and then re-sent it from his official White House account….

…Mr. Trump’s complaint also raised questions about how he might handle the moves of numerous other companies as their relationships with Trump brands change. The large national discount retailers T. J. Maxx and Marshalls, and Neiman Marcus, the luxury department store, for example, have recently moved away from their ties to Ms. Trump’s products…..

Here is the TWEET:

Donald J. Trump ✔@realDonaldTrump
My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!
10:51 AM – 8 Feb 2017

So is this a really big deal?  Or is it just a father reacting to criticism of his daughter?  Or is this just one more instance where Mr. Trump didn’t take a minute or two before rushing to his phone to TWEET to stop and think and remind himself “wait a minute, I’m the President of the United States, I probably should put the phone down”.

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Ivanka Trump Eau de Parfum