Sunday, January 21, 2018

Vice President Mike Pence's Bold-Faced Lie On Military Pay During #TrumpShutdown

Check out Vice President Mike Pence's bold-faced lie speaking to US troops in Syria today.

“I’m sure you’re all aware of what’s happening in Washington, D.C. Despite bipartisan support for a budget resolution, a minority in the Senate has decided to play politics with military pay. But you deserve better.

"You and your families shouldn’t have to worry for one minute about whether you’re going to get paid as you serve in the uniform of the United States. The President, the Vice President, and the American people are not going to put up with it.”

During her time on the Senate floor yesterday, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri specifically introduced a measure to ensure payment to military service members during the shutdown.

GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shut it down with his own objection on record.

Let's go to the video tape.

(h/t JoeMyGod)

Trump's 24-Year-Old Top Drug Policy Appointee Discharged From Law Firm: "Just Didn't Show"

Taylor Weyeneth with Donald Trump

Donald Trump only hires "the best people." Remember that from the 2016 campaign?

In addition to having the highest percentage of White House staff departures in a president's first year, there's this from The Washington Post:

A former Trump campaign worker appointed at age 23 to a top position in the White House’s drug policy office had been let go from a job at a law firm because he repeatedly missed work, a partner at the firm said.

While in college, late in 2014 or early in 2015, Taylor Weyeneth began working as a legal assistant at the New York firm O’Dwyer & Bernstien. He was “discharged” in August 2015, partner Brian O’Dwyer said in an interview.

“We were very disappointed in what happened,” O’Dwyer said. He said that he hired Weyeneth in part because both men were involved in the same fraternity, and that the firm invested time training him for what was expected to be a longer relationship. Instead, he said, Weyeneth “just didn’t show.”

In a résumé initially submitted to the government, Weyeneth said he worked at the firm until April 2016. When an FBI official called as part of a background check in January 2017, the firm said Weyeneth had left eight months earlier than the résumé indicated, O’Dwyer said.

Trump recently told lawmakers and the press that "We're going to have a tremendous team of experts" to address the opioid epidemic.

James Corden's Perfect Melania Trump Parody of "Part Of Your World"

James Corden parodies "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid reimagined as a lonely, White House-bound Melania Trump.

I've got diamonds and purses aplenty,
I've got Donald's hair pieces galore,
You want red hats? I've got twenty.
But who cares? No big deal, I want more.

Out where they walk, out where they run
Out where they don't collude with Russians,
Wandering free, wish I could be part of that world...


Tonga's Summer Olympic Sensation Pita Taufatofua Incredible Bid For 2018 Winter Olympic Games

Pita Taufatofua at the 2016 Summer Olympics

Now, many of you will remember how the world stopped when hunky, handsome, coconut-oiled Pita Taufatofua of Tonga made his entrance at the opening ceremony of the 2016 Summer Olympics carrying his country's flag.

After two previous attempts to qualify, Pita made it to the Summer Olympics to compete in Taekwondo. Unfortunately, he was eliminated early in Rio.

But his good looks and upbeat personality definitely made an impression on the world. He was featured on NBC's The Today Show and in the games' closing ceremonies.

Four months later, he announced to his burgeoning social media that he wasn't waiting four years for the next Summer Olympics. He decided to pick a winter sport and qualify for the Winter Olympics Games in Pyeongchang.

He picked cross-country skiing.

Now, living in Brisbane, Australia, with no snow nearby presented an obvious challenge.

That and the fact that he'd never picked up a pair of skis.

But Pita was a man on a mission.

Over the course of a year, Pita would need to drop 30 pounds from his muscular Taekwondo physique and learn to ski in tropical weather.

Instead of driving long hours to the nearest mountain in the winter, he worked out on the beach with roller-skis.

According to the Wall Street Journal which has chronicled this story in detail, there's an Olympic rules loophole that didn’t require him to ski on snow. After the Sochi games, the International Ski Federation changed its rules to allow points from roller-skiing events to count towards cross-country skiing.

To just qualify for the 2018 Olympic games, Pita needed five finishes that satisfied a formula designed to keep newbies like him out of the Olympics. In a truly herculean effort, Pita achieved four qualifying finishes during a week of roller-skiing in Colombia this winter.

But Pita found himself one finish short. And there were no more roller-skiing events left.

Pita raised funds via GoFundMe (Tongan culture frowns heavily on asking for support) and headed to Austria to train with a real coach in the snow.

With only six weeks to the 2018 Winter Games, there was a lot to be learned: basics like letting a faster skier pass you and knowing the different kinds of wax for your skis depending on conditions like dry snow, wet snow, hard snow, soft snow. Pita only had a stick of snowboard wax purchased on eBay.

In late December, Pita used the last of his money to compete in the final races of the season in Europe. But being new to the pace, altitude, and conditions of actual cross-country skiing he fell short.

Choosing a race in Armenia over Croatia didn't give him the results he so badly needed. Pita only had "hard track" skis and the night before the event a blanket of powder snow fell on the track.

In a harrowing journey he shared on his Instagram, he decided to make a mad dash to that final Croatian race. With no flights nearby, Pita traveled six hours via taxi.

After racing across 5 countries over 24 hours to Istanbul Airport, he arrived at the gate 15 minutes before his flight was scheduled to depart.

But - Turkish Airlines had closed the gate and would not allow him on the plane. Truly heartbreaking.

He posted a photo of his airline ticket in hand from the airport gate with the plane in the background.

In truth, I read Pita's post six days ago and marveled at his world-class determination. This IS Olympic spirit. Sitting at my desk, I sat back and applauded all this incredible effort.

And then.

This morning my blogger buddy Larry at The OUTFront sent me a link to the next 'straight-out-of-the-movies' chapter that had escaped me. Total props to Larry for following through.

A few days after missing his flight, Pita heard "whispers" of one more qualifying race near the Arctic Circle in northern Iceland. Over two days, he and his friends tried to reach the event even under the downpour of a massive snowstorm.

Reaching the event, the storm continued. But Pita used the time to keep conditioning himself indoors.

I know you're waiting for me to type the words, so here you go via Pita:

"On the last day of my Olympic qualification, at the end of the world, I said a little prayer before my race and then a miracle happened! TONGA IS GOING TO THE WINTER OLYMPICS! 🇹🇴 Mathew 17:20 -Faith"

Technically, the only thing left is for Tonga to name him to the Olympic team but considering there are no other Tongan skiers, I think he has this.

He will be the first Tongan skier in Winter Olympics history.

However, other countries have Olympic Federations and support groups but not Tonga. Pita will have to fund his own way to South Korea.

If you are so inclined, I urge you to donate anything you might feel appropriate to his GoFundMe here.

If anyone has ever demonstrated Olympic "can-do" spirit, it's this guy.

Check out his Instagram journey below.

This is me and an Armenian taxi driver speeding on a 6 hr drive from Armenia through the border to Georgia to catch a flight. I’m not sure what the red light is for but I hope it makes the car go faster. My race in Armenia didn’t work out. The night before the race we had a downpour of fresh soft snow which doesn’t work so well for my one pair of Hard track skis, that mixed with my weight and I struggled through the course. 21 hills and I felt every one. But there are no excuses, I fell short of the mark. I chose the Armenia race over the Croatia race and paid the price. As soon as I finished the race I decided no matter what we would try and find a way to get to Croatia by tomorrow morning. None of the flights connected so we searched all surrounding countries on both sides and here I am next to my friend who doesn’t speak a word of English, probably a good thing as I need the rest. My amigo from Chile Yona helped by lending me a pair of his skis in case the conditions are soft snow again and we waxed them on the hotel dining table. My other amigo German from Mexico helped find a private taxi to try and get to the race on time. There is a very slim chance we will get to Croatia in time for this race and with no sleep. Wherever there’s a chance we will take it. We don’t give up. #armenia #georgia #turkey #croatia all in 12 hrs #noSleep #olympian #life
A post shared by Pita Taufatofua (Pita T) (@pita_tofua) on

I raced through 5 countries in the last 24hrs to try and get to my race in Croatia. I sat in a taxi for 6 hrs driving through Armenia into Georgia in the middle of the night. I sat on the front seat of the @turkishairlines plane, sprinted through the airport and snuck through the business class fast transit lane and somehow managed to arrive at the gate 15 min before departure for my flight to Croatia. Once there I found that @turkishairlines had shut the gate early even after their delayed initial flight from Georgia, leaving me stranded. After remembering a scene from a James Bond movie, I pressed all the buttons on the aerobridge door to see if I could somehow open it and sprint down to the connecting flight, unfortunately that didn’t work, and luckily I didn’t get arrested. So here I am sitting at Istanbul airport missing the race that could have possibly gotten me to the Olympics. It was always going to be a long shot but I had to give it a shot and I did. Soo many times in life we will get disappointed. When this happens I have two options. I can sit on that chair crying about what could have been and how unfair life is.... or I can go and find some good quality chocolate, pull out my notepad and start planning “what’s next”— I always did like chocolate...
A post shared by Pita Taufatofua (Pita T) (@pita_tofua) on

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Millions Take Part In #WomensMarch2018

On the one-year anniversary of the Womens March on Washington, it doesn't look like there's any weakening in #TheResistance.

The Associated Press estimates millions took part in the demonstrations around the world.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, I'll let all this speak for itself.

Just Because: 'Stache Edition

Total props to kenneth-in-the-212 for pointing up French actor Stanley Weber.

This pic embodies so much that my formerly blond teen brain could not process at the time.

#woof #ItsHotInHere

Republicans Are Losing #TrumpShutdown "Blame Game"

Republicans are losing the fight to try and place the blame for the federal government shutdown on the minority Democrats.

Via ABC News:

Republicans are seeking to brand the shutdown with the name of the Senate's leading Democrat, Chuck Schumer of New York, using the alliterative hashtag, #SchumerShutdown."

Democrats, meanwhile, are pointing fingers at Donald Trump, labeling the impasse #TrumpShutdown.

As of Saturday at 1:20 p.m. ET, #TrumpShutdown had been tweeted over 2.6 million times, compared to just under 1.2 million tweets of #SchumerShutdown.

#TrumpShutdown was also the top trending hashtag worldwide.

#TrumpShutdown Continues As "Great Dealmaker" Goes AWOL

With 60 votes necessary to pass a Continuing Resolution bill which would keep the federal government open and operating, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's bill fell way short last night with only 50 'yes' votes while 49 senators voted 'no.'

Sen. John McCain wasn't present due to his ongoing cancer battle.

The legislation, on top of keeping the government open for four more weeks while a budget would, in theory, be hammered out also included a 6-year extension in the Childrens Health Insurance Program which Republicans allowed to expire months ago.

Clearly, McConnell has held this in his backpocket to use as leverage to get the budget he wants.

But Senate Democrats held to their guns saying not only should CHIP be addressed (and it should) but also the issue of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program or 'Dreamers' needs to be resolved now.

Several months ago, Donald Trump decided to end the program at random. Without DACA in force, 800,000 young people who were brought to the U.S. as children and live here without a criminal record could be deported.

So, here we are today as Senate and House leaders try to figure out how to solve this impasse.

Donald Trump, who apparently agreed to a deal that would address all of these issues last week, now says he is not willing to negotiate anything that deals with DACA for now. Many Washington insiders are blaming white nationalist and Trump adviser Stephen Miller who opposes any kind of immigration reform.

And so, we wait.

This is the first time a furlough of federal employees has occurred under single-party control of Congress and the White House. That would be the Republicans.

According to a recent poll, 48% of voters would hold Trump and the Republicans responsible for the government shutdown, only 28% would blame Democrats.

Where is the "Great Dealmaker?" Where is the "Great Negotiator" who says he knows how to bring people together to get a deal done?

Oh, that reminds me: today is the first anniversary of Donald Trump's inauguration as president.

It only took a year for him to shut down the government.

Another record broken... #MAGA