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The Hard Life of a Foster Child

by Mike Tikkanen on July 28, 2016 · 0 comments

(Please share this post with your foster family friends and let them know you love them for what they do. If the spirit moves you, support foster children through CASA Cares by making a gift that will go to a state ward child.)
In America, the average cost of foster care for dogs is about $30/day. Foster care for children in this nation runs from $8.07 / day (Nebraska) to $30 / day (DC) with an average of about $18 / day. Dogs (owners) must bring dog food and don’t need to supply diapers. Foster parents must buy food and sometimes diapers for foster children (and generally provide for transportation costs to doctors, schools and the broken and worn out things that will be broken and worn out by a foster child). Dogs require 30 to 60 minutes / day of a caregiver time – traumatized children require 12 to 24 hours of caregiver time daily.
Foster children have been traumatized. After many years as a CASA guardian ad litem volunteer, I have never seen a state ward child that has not suffered severe and repeated traumas. Any foster mom or dad that’s stayed awake all night to monitor a violent or sexualized state ward on psychotropic medications to insure that the rest of the family stay safe from unpredictable behaviors of a dangerous, traumatized child can tell this story with greater impact (I know, I’ve heard it many times). No dog ever carries lighter fluid or has the intention of burning down the house. (I love dogs and believe that they are worth every penny of the daily rates we pay to take care of them. What is mind boggling to me is that children in some states are not worth one quarter of that figure to care for a child (Hey Nebraska).)
Children not getting adequate help for their traumas often exhibit terrorizing behaviors that hurt themselves (cutting, suicide attempts) and others (lighting fires, stabbing pets and other children). Our communities are dealing with the fifth and sixth generation of traumatized children without coping or parenting skills having their own generation of traumatized children without coping or parenting skills.


13335529_10157076057630492_8977891793245887712_nI did some polite, constructive criticism of corporate media the other day, as I have indeed been wont to do from time to time ever since I’ve been here. (Pushing seven years? Seriously? Hadn’t thought about it lately.) And I subsequently saw this.

Franken plainly said that Trump “is a liar . . . all the time.” Andrea Mitchell, sitting next to him, followed up by saying “Facts don’t seem to matter in this campaign. What has happened to our politics?” And Franken’s response was brilliant:

“I think they still matter. I still think, at the end of the day, they will still matter. And you know what, I would challenge you, all of you (pointing his finger at each of the reporters), to make them matter. To repeat them when there are lies. I would say that the media — you know, I used to write quaint books like ‘Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them’, and things like that, and I do think people think like, ‘Oh, wow, there used to be books about when people lied, and now no one cares.’ You guys have kind of a job to do.”

(Daily Kos)

This may seem odd coming from me, but I think there actually is a pretty good chance that corporate media will to some extent turn against the Donald Trump campaign. (I was heartened to see that this morning’s dead tree Star Tribune front-page headlined the appalling Trump/Russia deal, instead of using the Dem convention as an excuse to bury it on the inside as I had expected.) In 2012, they were pro-Romney for quite a while, but for the last couple of months turned slightly pro-Obama, largely because of the correct perception that he was going to win handily. This being America, you know about how good it is for a profit margin to be associated with a loser.

Most, or at least many, media owners/bosses, though Republicans, likely don’t want a Trump presidency either. Not because of its effect on women, minorities, children, etc. – that would be their problem, let them deal with it – but because a Trump presidency would also ultimately be very bad for business. And they mostly are not such witless ninnies, at least not in some ways, that they don’t know that.


Truthiness – when something isn’t true but it FEEEEELs true (previously covered by the term delusional). Because clearly, facts do not matter to the right; reality does not matter to the right. Ugly delusions matter to the right.

Trump is not qualified to run for office. He is ignorant, and he is corrupt. And that should go for those in politics who support him, and for his voters.

You cannot govern successfully, even minimally competently, if you deny and ignore and are oblivious to facts.  You can only govern in the real world if you are IN that real world.



Better late than never? Or better never?

by Dog Gone on July 27, 2016 · 0 comments

That Trump is a con artist, deadbeat businessman, and now apparently it is news he made his money by mob connections is not new. It’s been known in the business world for a long time.
So Mitt — good on you for calling out Trump, but WHY did you pal around with him as a prominent supporter LAST election cycle? Isn’t that something you knew then, all those bad things you are saying about him now? Mitts on our Money should never have sought or accepted the Trump announcement in the first place.  This simply underlines how the right makes deals with the Devil, and then whine when payment is due.


women__s_rights_chalk_by_luckyduck2-d3jfdlvActually, as a pathological narcissist he considers everyone except Donald Trump to be that. But especially women. Yet a lot of women, and not just the hopelessly cognitively rigid, intend to vote for him. What’s to be done?
I don’t consider myself well-qualified to provide good insight on this. What I’ve done instead is find articles by some who are.

In the case of a Trump supporter, you could start off with emotionally charged issues close to his or her heart. If your Trump-supporting friend or family member is a woman who believes in reproductive health rights, explain that Trump supports defunding Planned Parenthood and holds lots of retrograde opinions about women. If it’s a friend whose house was once foreclosed on, perhaps show them a video of Trump saying he cheered for the housing collapse of 2008. If it’s a small business owner who employs immigrants, show them how disruptive Trump’s immigration policies would be to their work.



from Raw Story: Street graffiti depicting Donald Trump passionately locking lips with Russian President Vladimir Putin went viral on social media in Lithuania Friday, appearing to show concern over the US White House hopeful’s attitude toward Moscow. The artwork in the capital Vilnius alludes to a famous 1979 photograph of then Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev kissing communist East German president and ally Erich Honecker.

Vlad Putin is notorious for not only his corruption in association with Russian oligarchs and mobsters, but for taking revenge on those who oppose him. Nothing short of their destruction suffices his petty vengeance seeking and ambition.  Further, Puti has gone a long way towards wrecking the Russian economy, and towards a redistribution of wealth to the rich that is among the worst in the world. His track record with a free press is nothing to brag about either.  Putin is an old style Stalin-esque dictator, with Stalin being one of his heroes he hopes to sanitize and reinstall as a national hero.


The sad thing is that every one of the same characteristics typify Donald J. Drumpf. The best that might be said of Trump is that he is Putin light; as in he’d be worse if he could get away with it in the US of A.


The New York Times summed it up in January 2016:

GOING into 2016, Vladimir V. Putin is a very different politician from the one he was a year ago. His most significant changes have little to do with what he has done in the last 12 months. Instead they were wrought by the justice systems of two foreign countries — Britain and Spain — and a slew of Russian and Western journalists and activists. Thanks to all these disparate efforts, there has emerged a vivid, comprehensive and, most important, public picture of allegations of corruption and connections to organized crime that in the past had been the province of rumors or maverick investigations publishers wouldn’t dare to print.
In May, Spanish prosecutors petitioned a Madrid court for permission to charge 27 people with money laundering, after a giant decade-long investigation that implicated, among others, highly placed Russian officials, some of whom have business or property in Spain. The 488-page complaint names a sitting member of the Russian Parliament, a former prime minister and a former defense minister. It draws numerous connections between the presumed ringleader, Gennady Petrov, an influential figure in St. Petersburg, and Mr. Putin’s inner circle.

Another corruption probe that unfolded during 2015 implicates Mr. Putin’s own family. Early in the year, the Russian business publication RBC released an investigation into a vast university expansion project, undertaken on a giant section of land that belongs partly to Moscow State University and partly to the Russian state. The report meticulously documented the sheer scale and scope of the project, and the involvement of many of Russia’s most prominent state and private business managers. But it gingerly stepped around identifying the woman in charge, who had declined to be interviewed. RBC would say only that she was called Katerina Tikhonova — a very common Russian name — and that she had been seen in public with Kirill Shamalov, the son of a close friend of Mr. Putin’s.

 Yet another investigation released last month revealed apparent links between the Russian prosecutor general and the country’s most notorious organized crime family. Such allegations have become so prominent in the public conversation lately, even in Russia, that they were raised with Mr. Putin on Dec. 17, during his highly scripted annual news conference.

But that Mr. Putin had to face such accusations at all shows that a new understanding about Russia is taking hold: Russia is a mafia state — not only because it is run like the mafia, but also because it is run by organized crime.

The following day the journalist Oleg Kashin posted on his blog a piece titled, “It’s Her.” Katerina Tikhonova, he wrote, was Mr. Putin’s daughter. The president’s press secretary, Dmitri S. Peskov, responded with a non-denial denial. “I don’t know who that is,” he said. “Many girls have been passed off as Putin’s daughters.” Then Reuters, in a large investigation of Russian corruption it published at the end of the year, reported that Ms. Tikhonova, 29, was indeed Mr. Putin’s daughter, that Mr. Shamalov was her husband and that both were billionaires.

Putin is reputed to have amassed a fortune in the range of $40 billion; he has begun to invest some of that ill-gotten gain in Trump properties.  And in return, Trump is proposing to clear NATO out of the way for Putin.  Trump has reportedly sought out Russian mob money from Putin, because his businesses, far from being successful, are no longer welcomed by American banks.  Putin is reported to use the Russian security and intelligence services to control the mafia for the advantage of himself, family and associates, something that we might expect from Trump, should he become president.

Trump in his own right is reported to have close ties with the US mafia for decades.  He is reputed to have only succeeded to the extent he has in the building and casino sectors by paying off politicians not to look to closely.   As Politico reported in May:
Just What Were Donald Trump’s Ties to the Mob?

In his signature book, The Art of the Deal, Donald Trump boasted that when he wanted to build a casino in Atlantic City, he persuaded the state attorney general to limit the investigation of his background to six months. Most potential owners were scrutinized for more than a year. Trump argued that he was “clean as a whistle”—young enough that he hadn’t had time to get into any sort of trouble. He got the sped-up background check, and eventually got the casino license.But Trump was not clean as a whistle. Beginning three years earlier, he’d hired mobbed-up firms to erect Trump Tower and his Trump Plaza apartment building in Manhattan, including buying ostensibly overpriced concrete from a company controlled by mafia chieftains Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno and Paul Castellano. That story eventually came out in a federal investigation, which also concluded that in a construction industry saturated with mob influence, the Trump Plaza apartment building most likely benefited from connections to racketeering. Trump also failed to disclose that he was under investigation by a grand jury directed by the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, who wanted to learn how Trump obtained an option to buy the Penn Central railroad yards on the West Side of Manhattan.

…In all, I’ve covered Donald Trump off and on for 27 years, and in that time I’ve encountered multiple threads linking Trump to organized crime. Some of Trump’s unsavory connections have been followed by investigators and substantiated in court; some haven’t. And some of those links have continued until recent years, though when confronted with evidence of such associations, Trump has often claimed a faulty memory. In an April 27 phone call to respond to my questions for this story, Trump told me he did not recall many of the events recounted in this article and they “were a long time ago.” He also said that I had “sometimes been fair, sometimes not” in writing about him, adding “if I don’t like what you write, I’ll sue you.”

I’m not the only one who has picked up signals over the years. Wayne Barrett, author of a 1992 investigative biography of Trump’s real-estate dealings, has tied Trump to mob and mob-connected men.

No other candidate for the White House this year has anything close to Trump’s record of repeated social and business dealings with mobsters, swindlers, and other crooks. Professor Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian, said the closest historical example would be President Warren G. Harding and Teapot Dome, a bribery and bid-rigging scandal in which the interior secretary went to prison. But even that has a key difference: Harding’s associates were corrupt but otherwise legitimate businessmen, not mobsters and drug dealers.


This can’t have been news to the GOP when they allowed Trump to be first a candidate and then nominee for president.  It should get interesting as the post-convention candidate oppo-advertising picks up.  It will remain to be seen if Trump proceeds to sue, or at the very least to seek an injunction.  I would speculate that not even the worst of the right wing judiciary would be amenable to earning a reputation for giving mobsters legal cover.


Sadly, unlike the rest of the world, too many US citizens are blithely oblivious to any knowledge of world leaders or other countries.  I am consistently shocked at how few people can correctly identify key American figures – like being able to name the members of the U.S. Supreme Court, or even know how many Justices sit on it.  It is therefore less surprising to me that so many people in the US are unable to name the head of government in Canada to our north or Mexico to our south.  I consider it a plus if they reliably know where those two countries are, given how few people know where most of the states in the US go on a map.  So it should come as no surprise that Putin’s reputation for mob activities is ignored or unknown by the likes of Faux News and other right wing media.  We can sit back to wait for their feigned surprise or fake outrage that will eventually come after their robust denials become unsustainable.


The GOP should be writhing in shame; I doubt they have the collective conscience to do so.  It should be particularly fun to watch the Evangelicals scramble to address their claims of how religious Trump is, how god fearing moral.  I guess we no longer need wonder why Trump goes to the former Soviet Union eastern bloc to find two of his three wives…


Trump claims that he could shoot someone on 5th avenue and his supporters would still be enthusiastically behind him.  Let’s put it to the test how well they like a mobbed up candidate for president.  Let’s begin that re-education of the right, right here.  When it becomes undeniable that he is dirty, will he quit before the election — and then what?


I doubt any current polls are taking into consideration this kind of news coverage affecting the election in November.


Fort Myers, Florida aka the Gunshine State, just had another mass shooting.  The last one was a little over a month ago, in Orlando, resulting in 50 dead, 53 wounded.


Germany has had a series of terrorist attacks in 2016, 3 knife attacks, one guy with an axe, one with a bomb, and one non-terrorist attack with a gun.   Each of the terrorist attacks resulted in only 1 dead. Of the stabbings and axe attacks, the knife attacks each left one injured, a third knife attack left 3 injured, and the axe attack left 5 injured.  The suicide bombing left 12 injured.


Only the shooter in Germany, tentatively associated with right wing terrorist Anders Breivik, was successful in accomplishing a mass killing, 9 dead, 16 more wounded.


This proves the point that strict gun laws work; Germany has some of the strictest gun laws in the world.  Most of the illegal guns are from areas in and near the EU which have experienced civil wars like Bosnia.  Eastern European states often have more lax gun laws; for example, the January 2015 shooting in Paris involved firearms legally bought in Slovakia. The number of dead in that attack, on the magazine Charlie Hebdo, was 12.


Right wing gun-huggers would tell you that if there is restrictive gun regulation, only the bad guys will have guns.


That is not true.  For example, Germany has the 4th largest legal gun ownership in the world, after the US, Finland and Switzerland.  People can still own guns under gun regulation, the so-called good guys.


Right wing gun-huggers will claim – wrongly – that gun regulation and gun restriction means that ONLY the bad guys will have guns.  Bad guys encompass terrorists, both Islamic and right wing terrorists, and criminals; that is also not true.  Rather we see terrorists, both right and left, and criminals, and domestic abusers as well, all find it too easy to get guns in the United States, and far too easy to use them against innocent victims.


Germany has a very low level of criminal acts involving guns, giving the lie to the claim that with gun regulation ONLY the criminals will have guns.


NationMaster makes comparisons between countries easy, including regarding firearms and crime.


For example:

Gemany ranks 77th in crime (per capita)  the United states ranks 30th (per capita); the US has more than twice the rate of crime of the USA

Germany ranks 24th for rape; the US ranked 9th with 3 times more rape than the US (per capita)

Germany ranks 15th for violent gun crime; the US ranks 1st with 3 times more than Germany

Germany ranks 43rd for intentional homicide with a rate of 0.81 per 100,000; the US ranked 7th, with 6 times the homicides per 100,000 of Germany with 5 per 100,000.

There are a variety of other metrics; all of them come out with Germany as safer than the US, usually by a very very large margin.


We can continue listing, but the bottom line is that Germany, with their stricter gun laws continues to make legal gun ownership available for qualifying citizens while making their country broadly safer from violence, particularly gun violence.


The right wing gun huggers, as they do with every subject that doesn’t suit how they wish the world to be, simply deny inconvenient facts, be it gun control, Brexit being a disasterous vote, or the science of global warming.


We can’t let those who are willfully disconnected from reality endanger the rest of us.  We need comprehensive gun control in EVERY part of the United States.  It is increasingly clear that it is not merely correlation but causation, more guns means more gun violence, not greater safety.


When, WHEN will we have enough of killing and injuring people because of ridiculous but well-funded right wing myths and propaganda?


stewartheadbandTwo items. This first one does require some context. Rich candidates in both major parties often loan their own campaigns money. Win or lose, they usually do get it back, with interest. But the practice is often seen as an acknowledgment that anticipated funding sources aren’t coming through as hoped.

Federal Election Commission filings for the second quarter show the Mills campaign’s principal committee, Friends of Stewart Mills, took in $794,001 compared to the Nolan for Congress Volunteer Committee’s $428,178. However, Mills loaned his own campaign $500,000, the first time he has loaned the committee money so far this election cycle. Mills also had less than a fourth of Nolan’s cash on hand going into the third quarter, and had spent about five times as much.
(Brainerd Dispatch)

This next one gets no softening “context.” If one campaign manager after another isn’t willing to stay aboard…

The campaign of Stewart Mills III recently had John Eloranta take over the helm as manager.
Originally, Charlie Szold was announced as the manager in March for Mills’ GOP campaign to unseat Democrat U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District. In May, Szold left the Mills campaign to instead manage the re-election campaign of U.S. Rep. David Young, R-Iowa. Szold was replaced by Mike Lukach, who previously served as Mills’ campaign manager during his 2014 bid for the 8th District.
(Brainerd Dispatch)

Comment below fold.

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Donald_TrumpThat cooked “scandals” about e-mail are being treated as far more important than the likes of this, says it all about the degraded nadir to which American corporate “journalism” has fallen. Hillary Clinton will likely wipe her bottom with Donald Trump anyway, come Election Day, but it still sucks.

And in all honesty a big factor in how pissed off I continually am about this is my own sense of helplessness. I cannot for the life of me figure out an effective way to force c. media to shape up. People have been showing for decades now what bulls*it it is. Many millions nonetheless still watch/read/listen, and believe the plutocratic, war pig propaganda that they are shamelessly fed.

This article is comprehensive, brutal, and undeniable. Click and read.

Over the last year there has been a recurrent refrain about the seeming bromance between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. More seriously, but relatedly, many believe Trump is an admirer and would-be emulator of Putin’s increasingly autocratic and illiberal rule. But there’s quite a bit more to the story. At a minimum, Trump appears to have a deep financial dependence on Russian money from persons close to Putin. And this is matched to a conspicuous solicitousness to Russian foreign policy interests where they come into conflict with US policies which go back decades through administrations of both parties. There is also something between a non-trivial and a substantial amount of evidence suggesting Putin-backed financial support for Trump or a non-tacit alliance between the two men.

Additional material, from DKos this morning, here.


trump silhouette

Trump spokesman John Miller speaks on condition of anonymity.

Minneapolis, MN ~ Sources inside the Trump for President campaign have confirmed in an exclusive interview with Minnesota Progressive Project that the newly-minted GOP nominee for president has acquired the power to disappear people.


“Look, he’s already disappeared hundreds and hundreds of people, that I can tell you, okay?” confirmed Trump campaign spokesman John Miller, speaking on the condition that his name not be used and his remarks be kept strictly off the record. “These were bad people, really bad guys that nobody wants around. I mean, look around you. Try to find any of the people he’s disappeared. They’re nowhere to be seen, right? Gone! He disappeared them.”


Miller was asked how Mr. Trump acquired the amazing power to disappear people. “Mr. Trump has never revealed the source of his amazing power,” Miller said. “But I can tell you that he knows, and has working for him in secret laboratories funded by the Trump organization, hundreds maybe thousands of the top scientists in the world. These are the top guys you can find anywhere in the world, the greatest scientists in the world, believe me. It was probably them who developed the power to disappear people. Sort of like cold fusion or something.”


When asked what Mr. Trump intended to do with the power to disappear people, spokesman Miller explained. “Oh, that should be obvious. He’ll use the power to disappear people to solve America’s problems both here and around the world. He’ll disappear the illegal aliens who are living in our country illegally. He’ll disappear suspected Muslims and Latino’s — basically anybody who’s skin tone is darker than Beyonce’s will go first. He’ll disappear all of ISIS. Assad, Putin and the Ayatollah Khameineh all will be disappeared.


“He’ll disappear flat-chested women and flamboyant gay men. Criminals also will get disappeared. Think of the tax savings if we no longer have to maintain prisons! Teenage girls with acne. U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, of course. Ariana Huffington will get disappeared; her first, maybe. And jobless people! He’ll disappear jobless people, because the unemployment rate will plummet and his numbers will look great. Basically, Trump is gonna solve all of our problems by disappearing our enemies and people who aren’t real Americans or aren’t with the program in some way. Poof! Gone! Think of it!”