Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year's Eve Shocker: Joe Mosca Seeking Appointment to Encinitas City Council Seat

Sierra Madre Gothic
So here we go again. Joe Mosca, the fellow who showed up in Sierra Madre one fine day not so long ago, and then quickly began to campaign for a seat on Sierra Madre's City Council despite having only recently arrived in town, is trying to do that deja vu thing all over again. Joe is now attempting to get appointed to an empty City Council seat in the City of Encinitas. Which, as you may or may not know, is a quaint little seaside town just north of San Diego often celebrated for its arts and vintage home architecture.

Not coincidentally, Encinitas is currently under serious assault from various predatory development forces that would just love to cash the place in for some big time profits.

Does any of that sound familiar to you, Sierra Madre readers?

This news comes to us from our favorite Encinitas blog, the aptly titled Encinitas Undercover (link). A fine local Internet news source sharing that special kind of reverence for local pols we here at The Tattler also hold so near and dear to our hearts.

So to speak. Here is how they broke the big news:

Being the savvy folks they are, the Encinitas Undercover dudes saw this coming a long time ago. Which, in Joe Mosca city residency terms, is just a little under 2 years. With an assist from The Tattler, here is their spot-on call from February of 2015 (link).

Now I realize that by covering this story I will be subjected to the same Lady Wistaria-like criticisms that are usually directed at my esteemed self when I discuss the Sherman Oaks Carpetbagger. The main charge being that I am somehow obsessed with poor Joe and will not leave him alone so that he can continue his bottom feeder political career in peace. 

I don't care. What makes this story newsworthy in my opinion is that it is very very funny. Why on God's sweet earth Mosca would want to repeat his unhappy Sierra Madre experiences down in Encinitas is far beyond my limited powers of comprehension. But I do laugh, and in these troubled times that is important.

A local Encinitas pulper, a weekly called The Coast News (link), has picked up on all of this excitement and expresses their interest in the following way.

So you know, our very own Tony Brandenburg, world-famed lead singer and lyricist for the punk rock band The Adolescents, remains in Sierra Madre. They're talking about a different guy here. 

One more thing before I stop typing for the evening. By the time you read this there will be a lot of comments attached to that Encinitas Undercover article. Joe Mosca is a controversial figure wherever he pops up. But the first one is interesting, and it comes bearing some familiar video links. 

The two videos referenced in the above comment are these. The bold legacy of Neuroblast Films lives on. The first is titled "Joe Mosca Flip Flop In 4 Minutes."  

Link here.

Special bonus points to anyone who can correctly count the number of times Joe uses the word "process" during his speech. So you know, I've lost count.

Here is the other video cited above. It is called "Mosca Meltdown."

Link here.

Ah me, so much vibrant nostalgia. You must realize that if Joe does manage to finagle an appointment to that vacant Encinitas City Council seat, we'll have to start covering the affairs of that town as well. Meaning the list of Tattler afflicted villages will increase by one more.

Everybody have a great New Year's Eve. And please, do stay safe.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Are You Taking Your Life In Your Own Hands If You Go To The Tournament Of Roses Parade In Pasadena?

Bill Cosby will not be there this year.
Mod: I have to go to work on January 2nd, so for the first time in years I will not be able to attend the big parade in Pasadena. However, according to this frightening missive found on the Pasadena Weekly website (link), that might all be for the best. Apparently the City of Pasadena has prepared itself for a full-on parade apocalypse.

Focus on Safety: As in years past, “the Pasadena Police Department is well prepared for the 2017 Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game,” said Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez. “We are working with local, state and federal law enforcement officials to ensure the events are as safe as possible,” said Sanchez said.

As of the last week of December, there were no known threats to the game or the parade, the chief said.

Besides the regular police presence, much like last year there will be a dozen so-called rapid response teams, ground-level and air surveillance that can monitor the entire parade route, and officers using license plate scanners.

Other agencies taking part in the policing the event include the California Highway Patrol, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the US Secret Service.

Also like last year, no-fly zones over the parade and the Rose Bowl have been imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Drones are also prohibited at the parade and the game.

Along the parade route, tents, sofas and boxes of any type that can be used as stools or seats are prohibited. Unoccupied chairs are not allowed and will be removed.

Open containers of alcohol are illegal on public streets, sidewalks and all other public areas, and violators may be cited or arrested. Police will also crack down on use of silly string, as well as marshmallow and tortilla throwing along the route. Umbrellas are also banned. Spectators are encouraged to wear ponchos due to the cold weather. According to extended weather forecasts, it should be cloudy and in the upper 50s on Jan. 2, the day of the game and parade.

Mod: You can read the rest of this article by clicking on the link supplied above. I am not sure if the bans on tortilla throwing and silly string are going to be enough. I guess we will just have to wait and see what happens. There is also this highly dire sounding information provided by the Pasadena Star News (link):

Pasadena police barricading 56 routes to Rose Parade with water-filled barriers to prevent truck attacks: The Pasadena Police Department will lock down 56 streets near the Rose Parade this year with water barricades, police cruisers and armed officers in an attempt to prevent a truck attack similar to deadly incidents in Berlin, Germany and Nice, France.

Though no known threats exist, Police Chief Phillip Sanchez said the Rose Parade’s heightened and constantly evolving security is now the norm for the annual New Year’s celebration, which attracts hundreds of thousands from around the world.

The parade, which is normally on New Year’s Day, is on Monday, Jan. 2 this year due to the Tournament of Roses’ “never on a Sunday” rule.

“This will be very obvious to you when you arrive at the parade route,” Sanchez said Wednesday at a press conference detailing local and federal authorities efforts to secure the event.

The city is installing the barriers on side streets beginning at 5 p.m., Sunday. The parade route won’t close until 7 a.m., Monday.

Sanchez said the decision to use barricades is in response to previous incidents throughout the world.

In July, a terrorist killed 86 people in Nice, France after driving into a large crowd watching fireworks on Bastille Day. Then on Dec. 19, a man in a semi-truck struck and killed 12 people at a Christmas Market in Berlin. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for both attacks.

To prevent a similar attack in Pasadena, the city is closing off all 56 streets that connect to the parade route, Sanchez said.

“We’re trying to take the speed out of the equation,” Sanchez said of the barricades.

Mod: The rest of this article is available at the link supplied above.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Obama Bests Trump as Most Admired Man in 2016

Mod: Somehow I get the feeling that people are going to miss the outgoing president. Especially after they've gotten their fill of Bigly Blowhard.

PRINCETON, N.J. -- Americans are most likely to name President Barack Obama as the man they admire most in 2016. Twenty-two percent mentioned Obama in response to the open-ended question. President-elect Donald Trump was second at 15%. It is Obama's ninth consecutive win, but the seven-percentage-point margin this year is his narrowest victory yet.

The results are based on a Dec. 7-11 poll. Since 1946, Gallup has asked Americans to name the man, living anywhere in the world, whom they admire most.

Incumbent presidents typically win the distinction -- in the 70 times Gallup has asked the question, the president has won 58 times. The 12 exceptions were mostly times when the sitting president was unpopular, including 2008, when Americans named President-elect Obama over President George W. Bush. Obama and Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 are the only presidents-elect to win the distinction. Eisenhower finished first 12 times, more than any other man in history. Obama is now second all-time with nine first-place finishes.

Obama's win over Trump this year is largely a result of the president earning more mentions among Democrats than Trump receives from Republicans. Fifty percent of Democrats named Obama as most admired, compared with 34% of Republicans choosing Trump.

You can read the rest of this article by clicking here.

Why is the Rose Parade on January 2nd this year?
Mod: I was curious about this year's Rose Parade taking place the day after New Year's, so I Googled my question and came up with this answer from KCET (link).

Answer: Because January 1st happens to fall on Sunday this year. And way back in 1893 January 1st also fell on a Sunday. That’s when the “Never on Sunday” tradition began.

You see back then you could find a lot of horses hitched in front on churches along Colorado Boulevard. They were the common form of transportation for parishioners. So if a parade was going by with a lot of show horses, the hitched ponies would get frightened and agitated. Then the churchgoers would have to leave the services to attend to their horses. Like a car alarm going off.

Of course horses as daily transportation are no longer, but the Never on Sunday tradition has continued.

And so this year the Rose Parade will take place in all its equine glory on Monday, January 2nd.

Mod: I'm going to assume most people have January 2nd off. Especially if you work in downtown Pasadena.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Putin's Many Fans On The American Right Will Be Aghast

Mod: The United States government is about to retaliate against Russia for its now notorious hack of our presidential election last month. I am sure the so-called "alt-right" and others who side with this hostile foreign military power will not be happy about what is about to happen. Not since the 1960s have so many sided with an enemy of our country as a part of their narrow ideologically driven political agenda. The biggest difference today being this capitulation is not coming from the left, but from those who have gratuitously self-identified themselves as being "patriots."

Obama Finally Decided How To Punish Russia For Hacking The Election (Occupy Democrats link): President Obama is reportedly preparing a fresh wave of sanctions against the Russian Federation over dictator Vladimir Putin’s personally supervised electronic warfare and propaganda campaign against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee during the election.

An executive order passed in April 2015 allows President Obama to levy sanctions against individuals or nation-states that perpetrate cyberwarfare crimes against the United States.

The hacking efforts began as a personal vendetta just to spite Hillary Clinton, but once Putin realized how easily manipulated an egomaniacal idiot like Donald Trump was, the efforts became a full-fledged campaign to put him into the White House. Russian hackers working under the pseudonym of “Guccifer” hacked the files of the DNC and the personal emails of  Clinton campaign manager John Podesta as well as the accounts of down-ballot Democrats.

Those emails were strategically released to the public in edited forms to stir up dissension among liberals and to underscore the false themes being trumped in Trumpian/Putinist propaganda narratives.

One of the primary objectives of Vladimir Putin’s pro-Trump efforts were to get the sanctions previously imposed by the Obama administration in 2014 following Putin’s occupation and annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. Those sanctions were as follows:

Summarized, the sanctions keep Putin and his oligarch buddies from funneling more of Russia’s wealth into their private Swiss bank accounts – and from capitalizing on a potentially $500 billion deal signed with the man Trump just appointed as his secretary of state – the CEO of Exxon, Rex Tillerson. This fresh round of sanctions will hit Putin and the Russian Federation where it really hurts – in his wallet. With luck, President Obama will write them into law in such a way that Trump simply can’t repeal them on his first day.

Click for video here.
Obama administration is close to announcing measures to punish Russia for election interference (Washington Post link): The Obama administration is close to announcing a series of measures to punish Russia for its interference in the 2016 presidential election, including economic sanctions and diplomatic censure, according to U.S. officials. The administration is finalizing the details, which also are expected to include covert action that will probably involve cyber-operations, the officials said.

An announcement on the public elements of the response could come as early as this week.

The sanctions portion of the package culminates weeks of debate in the White House on how to revise a 2015 executive order that was meant to give the president authority to respond to cyberattacks from overseas but that did not cover efforts to influence the electoral system.

The Obama administration rolled the executive order out to great fanfare as a way to punish and deter foreign hackers who harm U.S. economic or national security.

The threat to use it last year helped wring a pledge out of China’s president that his country would cease hacking U.S. companies’ secrets to benefit Chinese firms.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

CBS News: Donald Trump now does things he criticized Hillary Clinton for

Mod: Was Donald Trump's run for the presidency all based on some sort of strange projection? Was he actually running against things he fully intended to do himself? The following CBS News article would seem to indicate that was the case.

Donald Trump now does things he criticized Hillary Clinton for (CBS News link): Donald Trump spent the past two years attacking rival Hillary Clinton as crooked, corrupt, and weak. But some of those attacks seem to have already slipped into the history books. From installing Wall Street executives in his Cabinet to avoiding news conferences, the president-elect is adopting some of the same behavior for which he criticized Clinton during their fiery presidential campaign.

Here’s a look at what Trump said then - and what he’s doing now:

Then: “I know the guys at Goldman Sachs,” Trump said at a South Carolina rally in February, when he was locked in a fierce primary battle with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. “They have total, total control over him. Just like they have total control over Hillary Clinton.”

Now: A number of former employees of the Wall Street bank will pay a key role in crafting Trump’s economic policy. He’s tapped Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn to lead the White House National Economic Council. Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary nominee, spent 17 years working at Goldman Sachs and Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor, started his career as an investment banker at the firm.

Trump is following in a long political tradition, though one he derided on the campaign trail: If Cohn accepts the nomination, he’ll be the third Goldman executive to run the NEC.

Then: “Crooked Hillary. Look, can you imagine another four years of the Clintons? Seriously. It’s time to move on. And she’s totally controlled by Wall Street and all these people that gave her millions,” Trump said at a May rally in Lynden, Washington.

Now: Trump has stocked his Cabinet with six top donors - far more than any recent White House. “I want people that made a fortune. Because now they’re negotiating with you, OK?” Trump said, in a December 9 speech in Des Moines.

The biggest giver? Linda McMahon, incoming small business administrator, gave $7.5 million to a super PAC backing Trump, more than a third of the money collected by the political action committee.

Then: “She doesn’t do news conferences, because she can’t,” Trump said at an August rally in Ashburn, Virginia. “She’s so dishonest she doesn’t want people peppering her with questions.”

Now: Trump opened his last news conference on July 27, saying: “You know, I put myself through your news conferences often, not that it’s fun.”

He hasn’t held one since.

Trump skipped the news conference a president-elect typically gives after winning the White House. Instead, he released a YouTube video of under three minutes. He also recently abruptly canceled plans to hold his first post-election news conference, opting instead to describe his plans for managing his businesses in tweets. “I will hold a press conference in the near future to discuss the business, Cabinet picks and all other topics of interest. Busy times!” he tweeted in mid-December.

Then: “It is impossible to figure out where the Clinton Foundation ends and the State Department begins. It is now abundantly clear that the Clintons set up a business to profit from public office. They sold access and specific actions by and really for I guess the making of large amounts of money,” Trump said at an August rally in Austin.

Now: While Trump has promised to separate himself from his businesses, there is plenty of overlap between his enterprises and his immediate family. His companies will be run by his sons, Donald Jr and Eric. And his daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, have joined Trump at a number of meetings with world leaders of countries where the family has financial interests.

In a financial disclosure he was required to file during the campaign, Trump listed stakes in about 500 companies in at least 25 countries.

Ivanka, in particular, has been caught making early efforts to leverage her father’s new position into profits. After an interview with the family appeared on “60 Minutes,” her jewelry company, Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, blasted out an email promoting the $10,800 gold bangle bracelet that she had worn during the appearance. The company later said they were “proactively discussing new policies and procedures.”

Ivanka is also auctioning off a private coffee meeting with her to benefit her brother’s foundation. The meeting is valued at $50,000, with the current top bid coming in at $25,000.

United States Secret Service will be Present for the Duration of the Experience,” warns the auction site.

Trump on Saturday said he would dissolve his charitable foundation amid efforts to eliminate any conflicts of interest before he takes office next month.

Then: “If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation, because there has never been so many lies, so much deception. There has never been anything like it, and we’re going to have a special prosecutor,” Trump said in the October presidential debate, referring to Clinton.

Now: Since winning office, Trump has said he has no intention of pushing for an investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state or the workings of her family foundation. “It’s just not something that I feel very strongly about,” he told the New York Times.

“She went through a lot. And suffered greatly in many different ways,” he said. “I’m not looking to hurt them.”

Mod: I am not sure how seriously anyone is supposed to take Tom Arnold, but should he deliver on the kinds of things discussed below it could be quite an interesting (and unusual) Presidential Inauguration next month.

Tom Arnold Just Revealed “Watergate-Level” Journalists Will Soon Release Trump Tapes (Occupy Democrats link): Comedian and Actor Tom Arnold tweeted yesterday suggesting the world may get a late Christmas (or Chanukah, or Kwanza) present in the form of a trove of audio tapes recorded during President-elect Donald Trump’s time as host of The Apprentice that, according to Arnold, include accounts of Trump “walking in on naked teens.”

Arnold, who first told KIRO Radio’s Dori Morrison last week that he has tapes of Trump “saying every racist thing ever,” sent out a series of tweets Christmas Day in response to questions about the tapes. The actor said the tapes are “will be reviewed soon” and that “smart smart Watergate level journalists are on top of this.”

Of course the world already knows about Trump’s penchant for making pervy comments off camera, need we be reminded of how told Access Hollywood that he would sexually assault women by “grabbing them by the pussy.”

But Arnold gave slightly more detail about the content of the recordings he claims to possess.

Mod: Can the Governor of California usurp some of the powers normally given to the President of the United States? Apparently Jerry Brown thinks so.

California, at Forefront of Climate Fight, Won’t Back Down to Trump (New York Times link): Foreign governments concerned about climate change may soon be spending more time dealing with Sacramento than Washington.

President-elect Donald J. Trump has packed his cabinet with nominees who dispute the science of global warming. He has signaled he will withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement. He has belittled the notion of global warming and attacked policies intended to combat it.

But California — a state that has for 50 years been a leader in environmental advocacy — is about to step unto the breach. In a show of defiance, Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, and legislative leaders said they would work directly with other nations and states to defend and strengthen what were already far and away the most aggressive policies to fight climate change in the nation. That includes a legislatively mandated target of reducing carbon emissions in California to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

California can make a significant contribution to advancing the cause of dealing with climate change, irrespective of what goes on in Washington,” Mr. Brown said in an interview. “I wouldn’t underestimate California’s resolve if everything moves in this extreme climate denial direction. Yes, we will take action.”

The prospect of California’s elevated role on climate change is the latest sign of how this state, where Hillary Clinton defeated Mr. Trump by more than four million votes, is preparing to resist the policies of the incoming White House. State and city officials have already vowed to fight any attempt by Washington to crack down on undocumented immigrants; Los Angeles officials last week set aside $10 million to help fund the legal costs of residents facing deportation.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Welfare Hypocrisy: Red States Are The Real Freeloaders (Not California)

Click here to see the video.

Mod: You hear the term "fake news" being used a lot lately. It is kind of a silly term, and hardly a good replacement for what is far better usage, the word "propaganda." The propaganda in this case being that states like California are places where government handouts are the predominant form of economic enterprise, while red states are capitalist powerhouses that produce the wealth from which we here in the west freeload. As the following articles will show, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Welfare Hypocrisy: Red States Are The Real Freeloaders ( link): For years the Republican Party has been telling us that the welfare system in America is helping to make people lazy and making them too dependent on the federal government. If this is true, then a new report has some horrible news to deliver to Republicans.

As it turns out, Red states are far more likely to depend on federal welfare than blue states, and they are also more likely to have a higher percentage of poor people in their states. A new report from the Tax Foundation shows that two of the most conservative states in AmericaLouisiana and Mississippi – rank in the top 3 recipients of federal handouts.

The report says that, of the revenue brought in by these states each year, with about 42% of Louisiana’s total state revenue coming from the federal government and almost 43% of Mississippi’s yearly revenue coming from the Feds. The remainder of that revenue is what the states bring in via taxes, commerce, and other sources of revenue and that’s not a reflection of the workers in the state, but a reflection of the failed conservative principles that govern these states.

Both Louisiana and Mississippi are run by backwards-thinking Republican governors who feel like it’s their job to cut benefits for the needy while at the same time handing out welfare to wealthy corporations. They have both also allowed the energy industry to operate with few limitations in their states, further reducing the health of the overall state.

Overall, the study shows that conservative states are far more likely to depend on the federal government to shore up their budget shortfalls, which is one of the greatest ironies in American politics. Republicans love to tell us that welfare recipients are lazy and shiftless and that an individual’s success or failure is the sole responsibility of the individual, but THEY are actually the ones who depend the most on government handouts.

States Won by Trump Have Highest 'Obamacare' Enrollment (ABC News link): A record number of people signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act for the coming year, Barack Obama's administration announced Wednesday, with the most people selecting coverage in states that Donald Trump won in November.

Some 6.4 million people signed up by the mid-December deadline — 400,000 more enrollees than the same period last year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

In a twist, the states with the most people selecting coverage all went for Trump in the presidential election: Florida, with just under 1.3 million selections; Texas, with about 776,000; North Carolina, with 369,077; Georgia, with 352,000; and Pennsylvania, with 290,950.

The enrollment numbers include new subscribers (2.05 million) and returning consumers who had to renew their coverage and were not automatically enrolled. The tallies do not yet include automatic enrollments, which will be added to the total later.

HHS Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell did not directly attribute the spike to the election of Trump, who has promised to repeal and replace "Obamacare," but noted that more than 30,000 people have called HHS operators "worrying about the future of coverage in the wake of the election."

Speaking to reporters on a conference call, Burwell said officials have been assuring consumers that "Obamacare" remains the law of the land through the 2017 calendar year and that people will be guaranteed coverage at least until then under the existing law.

Mod: An additional article, "10 States Most Dependent on the Federal Government," can be found here

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Radio City Rockettes: In Revolt?

Mod: It has become something of an embarrassment for The Donald Trump. Only a very few of today's most bigly celebrities are willing and able to be seen performing at his Presidential inauguration next month. The Trumpers have asked plenty of America's biggest and brightest stars to stop by and sing a tune or two for His Orangeness, but almost nobody is accepting the offer of America's reality TV president. Imagine their chagrin. You really have to wonder at the lack of respect. Here is some of that extremely shocking news from

Donald Trump struggling to secure talent to perform at inauguration ( link): Getting singers for Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20th is turning out to be harder than it was to fill his Cabinet.

The only confirmed talent so far are 16-year-old "America’s Got Talent" 2010 runner-up Jackie Evancho, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and the Rockettes.

Trump spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway insisted to ABC News there will be more singers, but refused to name them. Many performers -- some who have been asked, others who have not -- have already taken a pass.

* Gene Simmons' wife told TMZ KISS "politely declined" the invitation to perform at the inauguration. Simmons said he would be touring Europe at the time.

* Trump's longtime friend Steve Wynn reportedly promised to deliver Celine Dion to perform at the inauguration, but could not follow through.

* Producer David Foster released a statement “politely declining” the offer to participate in the inauguration after rumors swirled he was participating.

* Elton John told the New York Times he was not performing after Anthony Scaramucci, a member of the presidential transition team, told the BBC the singer would sing a song or two.

* Page Six reported that Andrea Bocelli will not perform because of the backlash he received over accepting the gig. They also reported that President-Elect Trump suggested the tenor not participate because of said backlash.

* Variety and the NY Post have reported that Garth Brooks will not perform at the inauguration after he said earlier this month he "would be honored" to perform. Brooks did not return FOX411’s request for comment.

* The manager for the band Chainsmokers had to respond to New York Magazine’s Brian Feldman after he tweeted the band was performing. They are not.

* Will and Grace” star Eric McCormack told The Wrap he would perform at the inauguration, but only in exchange for a lobotomy, adding: "My whole brain removed from my head…I don’t know what the line-up will be, but I hear Scott Baio’s doing dramatic readings.”

Mod: However, all is not as it appears to be, even amongst some of those who have been enlisted in this celebratory cause. Apparently the Radio City Rockettes are not exactly thrilled at this great honor, and they have even turned to social media to find a way out of dancing for the man with the chemical tan. 

Radio City Rockettes ‘Appalled’ Over Trump Inauguration Command Performance link): The Radio City Rockettes dancers are pushing back after being told they must perform at Donald Trump’s inauguration, TheWrap has learned.

The announcement by parent company Madison Square Garden Company boss James Dolan on Thursday quickly spread through social media and sparked outrage among some Rockettes and members of the Broadway community.

Phoebe Pearl, a Rockette, wrote on her private Instagram account:

“I usually don’t use social media to make a political stand but I feel overwhelmed with emotion. Finding out that it has been decided for us that Rockettes will be performing at the Presidential inauguration makes me feel embarrassed and disappointed. The women I work with are intelligent and are full of love and the decision of performing for a man that stands for everything we’re against is appalling. I am speaking for just myself but please know that after we found out this news, we have been performing with tears in our eyes and heavy hearts. We will not be forced! #notmypresident

An individual who worked for the Rockettes told TheWrap: “Forcing dozens of women to go and perform for this man is without a question going to be problematic.”

The individual said the Rockettes usually have about 36 dancers, with 12 employed full time and the rest freelance. Those employed full-time would presumably be required to perform at any gig booked by the outfit’s management.

Others said that the Rockettes were being forced to perform and that their union told them that they would lose their jobs if they resisted.

Duarte, an actress and commentator whose Facebook page identifies her as the creator, producer and host of “Dead Darlings,” wrote on her social media accounts: “Most of the Rockettes do not want to perform at the inauguration. AGVA, their union, has put in writing to the full time Rockettes that they must accept the inauguration gig or they will lose their jobs. It’s perfect, actually. What could be more fitting for this inauguration than forcing a group of women to do something with their bodies against their will?”

Mod: Ouch! However, it should never be said that all women have a problem with Donald Trump. That is obviously not the case. Here is someone who has courageously decided to speak out.

Saddam Hussein’s daughter heaps praise on Trump: ‘This man has a high level of political sensibility’ (Raw Story link): President-elect Donald Trump once praised the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein for his prowess at killing terrorists — and now Saddam’s daughter is returning the favor with compliments of her own.

CNN reports that Raghad Saddam Hussein has been pleased so far with what she’s seen from the president-elect, who during the campaign trail falsely claimed that he had been against the Iraq War from the very beginning.

“This man has just arrived to the leadership… but from what is apparent, this man has a high level of political sensibility, that is vastly different than the one who preceded him,” she said in an interview with CNN. “He exposed the mistakes of the others, specifically in terms of Iraq, which means he is very aware of the mistakes made in Iraq and what happened to my father.”

Raghad also shared Trump’s view that her father was very tough on terrorists, and said that there’s no way that groups like Islamic State would have been able to set up shop in Iraq if he were still in power.

“Yes, there was brutality, sometimes a lot of it and I can’t support brutality,” she explained. “But Iraq is a country that is difficult to rule and it’s only now that people are realizing it.”

Friday, December 23, 2016

CalPERS Tanks, And It Could Cost Sierra Madre Millions

Mod: Sierra Madre is already in the hole to CalPERS to the tune of $9 million dollars, and now that number is about to grow once again. Despite the claims made during last April's election, Measure UUT was basically a fund raiser designed to cover Sierra Madre's serious debt problems, with its CalPERS nut leading the way. Now that CalPERS has once again failed to hit its projected return on investment, the taxpayers are going to have to dig even deeper. Will this city now need to raise its taxes again?

CalPERS Cuts Investment Targets, Increasing Strain on Municipalities (New York Times link): The board of California’s state public pension system, CalPERS, voted Wednesday to lower expectations for future investment returns, a step that will increase pressure on the budgets of towns and cities across the state.

CalPERS, a giant with roughly $300 billion in assets, has long been a bellwether among America’s thousands of public pension funds because of its sheer size and influence in the investment industry. It manages the investments for more than 1.7 million current and future retirees, making it the nation’s largest public fund outside the federal government. CalPERS’ move to lower its investment expectations is likely to prompt pension systems in other states to do the same.

“This is very monumental for the organization,” one trustee, Richard Costigan, said at a public meeting just before the vote.

With the move, CalPERS is changing its business plan, so that investment returns will cover less of the cost of retirees’ pensions than previously. That will force local governments to pay more, either through higher taxes or reduced public services. Public workers in California will have to chip in more, too.

At the same time, the move has little chance of satisfying critics of public pension systems who have argued for years that the sector’s methodology is dangerously flawed — not just because many investment projections are overly optimistic, but also because pension plans use those projections to calculate their liabilities, violating basic economic principles.

CalPERS moves to slash investment forecast. That means higher pension contributions are coming. (Sacramento Bee link): The cost of that government pension is about to go up again, for California taxpayers as well as some public employees.

CalPERS moved to slash its official investment forecast Tuesday, a dramatic step that will translate into billions of dollars in higher annual pension contributions from the state, local governments and school districts.

Employees hired after January 2013, when a statewide pension reform law took effect, will also have to kick in more money. Older employees could see higher contributions, too, although that would be subject to contract bargaining.

CalPERS’ Finance and Administration Committee voted 6-1 to lower the forecast from 7.5 percent to 7 percent in phases over three years, starting next July. Although the committee’s vote must be ratified by the entire board Wednesday, most other board members indicated they support the move as well.

It would be the first adjustment to the forecast in four years.

The move is a recognition that investment returns are falling and that the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, which is just 68 percent funded, needs higher contributions from government agencies to solve its long-term problems.

Mod: By "government agencies" they're talking about places like Sierra Madre's City Hall. Just in case you weren't aware.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Another Trump Promise Goes A-Swirling Down The Drain

Mod: I don't know how the Trumpies can take it. Everything they were mindlessly parroting just a few short weeks ago is now quickly becoming inoperative. The slogans are changing so fast it is almost like a passage from George Orwell's "1984." You just don't know what might happen to you if you were to fall behind. Think of the consequences! So anyway, you do remember all of that nonsense about Trumplethinskin "draining the Washington DC swamp," right? Well, things have changed a little since then. Now you can't say that anymore. But don't worry, neither can most people. At least not without laughing.

Gingrich: Trump dropping 'drain the swamp' (CNNPolitics link): "Drain the swamp" was a refrain of Donald Trump during the presidential campaign, but Newt Gingrich says the president-elect "doesn't want to use it anymore" now that he's knee-deep in alligators.

"I'm told he now just disclaims that. He now says it was cute, but he doesn't want to use it anymore," Gingrich, who informally advises Trump, said Wednesday on NPR's "Morning Edition."

The former House Speaker said that he had "written what I thought was a very cute tweet about 'the alligators are complaining,'" but that "somebody wrote back and said they were tired of hearing this stuff."

During his campaign, Trump repeatedly vowed to "drain the swamp" -- leading chants of the phrase at his rallies -- part of an anti-establishment, anti-Washington message that was predicated on rooting out corruption and bringing an outsider's perspective to government.

But since the election, the phrase has been turned against Trump with biting irony.

Critics have used it to assail Trump's high-level appointments of Wall Street and DC veterans, like former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin as treasury secretary and Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general. Ron Klain, a former Obama administration official, tweeted, "Sure, Drain the Swamp. Congrats to all you outsiders who thought that Hillary Clinton was too establishment."

Trump himself has expressed mixed views on the "drain the swamp" line. At a rally in Ohio in late October, he explained that he hadn't liked the expression at first, but that it had grown on him.

"We are going to drain the swamp. You know, that phrase started about a week ago, and I thought it was terrible. I didn't like it at all. I said I don't know; I just don't like it. And now it's become one of the hottest phrases anywhere in the world and I'm saying I like it," Trump said at the time.

"That's like -- did you ever see the great singers, Frank Sinatra, some of his greatest hits he didn't like them. But at the end he liked them very much. Right? It's what happened with drain the swamp. It's a great phrase. But it's true. The people like it. That's much more important."

Mod: Right, people like hearing it. Pretty much the rationale of almost all political liars. But when it becomes inconvenient, or even embarrassing? Just tell people they shouldn't say it anymore.

The Bait and Switch Presidency (The Atlantic link): There were many surprising pieces of Trump-related news on Monday, from Donald Trump’s fight with the F-35 to his allies’ fight with the intelligence community over Russian hacking.

Equally or more consequential, though less surprising, was a pair of quiet statements he made later in the day. First, his transition team announced that a press conference scheduled for Thursday, in which he’d pledged to explain how he’d distance himself from his businesses, was being postponed until January, with no specific date given. Later in the evening, Trump sent a series of tweets related to the matter.

“Even though I am not mandated by law to do so, I will be leaving my busineses [sic] before January 20th so that I can focus full time on the Presidency,” he wrote. “Two of my children, Don and Eric, plus executives, will manage them. No new deals will be done during my term(s) in office. I will hold a press conference in the near future to discuss the business, Cabinet picks and all other topics of interest. Busy times!”

That’s an impressively compact amount of obfuscation to fit into three tweets. Trump is first begging the question when he says he is not mandated by law to do so. He is correct that there is no law that requires him to divest all of his holdings, but some ethicists—including former chief ethics officers for George W. Bush and Barack Obama—believe that he risks violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution simply by holding them.

The idea that Donald Jr. and Eric Trump will manage the company was more or less known before. The idea that the company will make “no new deals” while he is in office is so nonsensical as to be meaningless. Even if the Trump Organization makes no major acquisitions, or breaks ground on no new projects, it already has such a wide net of constantly evolving business relationships that there’s no avoiding conflicts of interest. Finally, there’s the vague promise of a press conference at some point in the future. If Trump can simply decide not to hold one on a firm date he’s previously announced, there’s little way to hold him to a nebulous one.

Which is probably just the point. The bait-and-switch is among Trump’s favorite tactics, especially as it relates to claims of transparency. As a candidate and now as president-elect, he followed a pattern: under pressure over some point, promise to do something at a future date; as that future date approaches, change plans; never follow through.

Mod: Violating that "Emoluments Clause" would actually be an impeachable offense. Just so you know. 

Luxury Travel Group Gives Trump’s DC Hotel a Brutal Review (The Washingtonian link): Before the Trump International Hotel opened, Donald Trump liked to brag that the business he and his family built inside the Old Post Office would be “one of the great hotels of the world.”

But according to a year-end list of new luxury hotels from a travel group that specializes in high-end accommodations, it’s one of the world’s worst. The Trump hotel rated as the world’s third-lousiest new hotel, according to the membership-only United Kingdom operation LTI-Luxury Travel Intelligence.

“The building itself is undoubtedly impressive, but once inside we start to ask questions,” LTI’s review begins, acknowledging the Old Post Office as a marvel of late-19th-century Romanesque Revival architecture and design. But from there, the review is brutal.

LTI finds the d├ęcor a little garish and more quantity over quality,” it continues. Few who have been inside the hotel might argue differently. In Trumpian fashion, the hotel is a pageant of too-muchness, from the gold-colored bathroom fixtures to a $29 bowl of hummus to the crystal spoonfuls of sickly-sweet Hungarian wine that go for as much as $140.

It goes on. “Service is poor on occasions and lacks confidence,” LTI founder Michael Crompton writes. “The whole experience seems a little forced, and therefore this place is not for the true discerning luxury traveller.”

For supporters of the president-elect or his hotel, Crompton’s suggestion that his DC hotel is not truly luxurious might be the most cutting. Throughout his business career, Trump has resembled a spoiled outer-borough brat robing himself in glitz and luxury to get in the good graces of rich Manhattan swells, and his political rise could very well be a response to DC establishment types laughing him out of the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner.

Only two hotels—anywhere in the world—fared worse in LTI’s rankings: a Four Seasons on Oahu, Hawaii, and the Palazzo Versace in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Mod: For his idiot supporters none of this will matter. Besides, how would they know the difference between what is truly good and mere gaucherie designed to cozen the greenbacks out of the pockets of simple fools?

It's official: Clinton swamps Trump in popular vote (CNN link): More Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than any other losing presidential candidate in US history.

The Democrat outpaced President-elect Donald Trump by almost 2.9 million votes, with 65,844,954 (48.2%) to his 62,979,879 (46.1%), according to revised and certified final election results from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Clinton's 2.1% margin ranks third among defeated candidates, according to statistics from US Elections Atlas. Andrew Jackson won by more than 10% in 1824 but was denied the presidency, which went to John Quincy Adams. In 1876, Samuel Tilden received 3% more votes than Rutherford B. Hayes, who eventually triumphed by one electoral vote.

Mod: Yeah, he's a loser. Unfortunately, so is everyone else.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Raw Story: Trump’s broken promise is a death sentence to thousands of his voters

Grand Old Pinocchio
Mod: The following was posted in the comments yesterday, and I was asked by a reader if I wouldn't bring it up front today. It is pretty harrowing, and a good example of what can occur when some folks are unsophisticated enough to vote against their own interests. It looks like Trump is set to break his promises on things such as Medicare. Are you surprised?

Trump’s broken promise is a death sentence to thousands of his voters (Raw Story link): Back when the president's health reform plan first passed, Republicans and their media echoes warned loudly about mythical "death panels" embedded in his legislation. Now, the voters who believed that nonsense are about to meet the real death panel -- led by Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate leader Mitch McConnell, and Rep. Tom Price, the Georgia Republican slated to head the Department of Health and Human Services.

Not long ago, Americans learned that the average life expectancy for white people in this country - those most likely to have voted for Donald Trump - actually declined for the first time in many years. The pathologies and frustrations believed to have driven that decline may have motivated the tiny handful of votes that gave Trump his Electoral College victory.

But not long after their euphoria over his inauguration fades, they are going to learn why his administration is so likely to drive those statistics in the wrong direction. Despite his promise to protect Social Security and Medicare - and his vow to replace the Affordable Care Act with "something much better" - Trump's cabinet appointees and his allies in Congress plan ruinous changes to those programs. And that will mean ruin, and in thousands of cases death, for the mostly white and working class people who depend so heavily on them.

Unless the Republicans come up with a plausible bill to replace Obamacare, which has eluded them since 2009, millions of their constituents will lose the health insurance they have only recently gained - and yes, thousands of those people will die next year.

Back when the president's health reform plan first passed, Republicans and their media echoes warned loudly about mythical "death panels" embedded in his legislation. Now, the voters who believed that nonsense are about to meet the real death panel - led by House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Rep. Tom Price, the Georgia Republican slated to head the Department of Health and Human Services.

This is not hyperbole: Before the advent of Obamacare, tens of thousands of uninsured Americans died every year because they didn't receive timely care. Eight years ago, one reputable study estimated that as many as 137,000 Americans had perished prematurely due to lack of health coverage - or more than twice as many as died in the Vietnam War - between 2000 and 2006 alone. The Institute of Medicine has estimated that uninsured adults are 25 percent more likely to die prematurely than those with coverage, with uninsured adults between 55 and 64 years old faring even worse. For them, being uninsured is the third most significant cause of death, behind only heart disease and cancer.

Those estimates don't include the victims of insurance company profiteering who will die if the repeal of Obamacare undoes its protection of patients suffering from "previously existing conditions." Exposed to the tender mercies of corporate actuaries, thousands of them will lose their coverage, watch their families driven to destitution, and many of them will die, too.

That isn't supposed to be what happens under President Trump, who declared in many interviews and debates his determination to provide better and cheaper health insurance "for everybody, let it be for everybody." But by appointing a far-right ideologue like Price to run health policy, Trump effectively violated that promise before even taking his oath of office. Working with Ryan and the Republican majority in both houses of Congress, Price means to destroy Obamacare, slash Medicare, and decimate Medicaid.

The truth about the current incarnation of the Republican Party, which voters ought to have learned long ago, is that its attitudes toward working Americans of all descriptions range from careless to merciless. If not every Republican shares the "let 'em die" position on health care screamed by a GOP debate audience in 2012, all too many believe that government has no role in ensuring that every American is insured - even though that would save money as well as lives.

However ridiculous most of Trump's commitments may seem, his promise to protect Americans who depend on Obamacare, Medicare, and Medicaid is a matter of life or death. Unless he changes course now, we may see a lot of red caps at funerals for people who lost their health insurance, and died much too soon.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

It is Amazing How Little Some People Know About the Origins of the Electoral College

Royalty doesn't need your vote
Mod: That a lot of people don't know very much about many things, nor care to make any effort to overcome their shortcomings in this regard, should be of no surprise to anyone. That's pretty much life, and you just have to deal with it. However, when someone actually comes out and states that proportionally shortchanging the presidential vote of Californians through the Electoral College is OK because it protects the feelings of people in places like North Dakota, that is a bit much. After all, Donald Trump lost California by a 2-1 margin, the worst loss for a major-party presidential nominee here since Alf Landon in 1936. That ought to count for something. And if it did our popular vote loser Donald Trump would not be heading to the White House in a few weeks.

All of that said, when you start to consider that the Electoral College actually has its origins in the slavery era, and was specifically created to protect the interests of the slave owners who designed this remarkably undemocratic method for selecting our presidents, it doesn't make the situation that much easier to live with.

So I thought I'd take a moment to address a comment.

Yesterday someone posted this: "The reason why you support an electoral college that reduces the vote of each individual in the state you hate so much to 3/5s per person is a lot of them aren't white. The electoral college that you love so much was a slave-era solution. Pretty wild that it still performs that same function today."

Here is how a reader responded to that:

So you know, Republican candidates for president have won the national popular vote only once since 1988. Or 1 in the 7 most recent elections. When you figure that the only time a Republican actually won the popular vote lately was the re-election of Baghdad Bush in 2004, and by the smallest margin for an incumbent president in US history, it doesn't look like the GOP is all that popular with actual voters.

But apparently it doesn't matter.

The news site Raw Story ran the following article yesterday. I think it explains the origins of the Electoral College very well. Here is a part of it.

The Electoral College was explicitly designed to protect slavery Because of the Electoral College, for the second time in 16 years, the person with the most votes will not become president. It is likely that Hillary Clinton will have a margin of more than 2,000,000 votes. This will make her the most popular presidential candidate to ever lose a presidential election. She follows in the footsteps of Al Gore, Grover Cleveland, Samuel Tilden, Andrew Jackson, and probably John Adams.

We know the Electoral College is deeply undemocratic. Presidential electors are allocated by adding the two senators to the number of representatives each state gets. Thus the smallest states have proportionally more power in electing the president than the large ones. In 2016 Donald Trump won 66 electoral votes from 14 small states, with a total population of about 26,300,000. Hillary Clinton won 55 electoral votes from California, with a population of 37,254,000. The math is clear. Twenty-six million people substantially outvoted thirty-seven million people. Something is clearly wrong.

How did we get such an insane, undemocratic system for choosing our president? The answer, oddly enough is because of slavery. The system was explicitly designed to protect slavery. One hundred and fifty years after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery, this proslavery provision lurks in our political backyard, like some horrible monster, waiting to spring on us to undermine the very notion of democratic government in the world’s oldest constitutional democracy.

How did we come up with the Electoral College? The classic explanations are that the Framers feared the common voters and that the Electoral College was needed to protect the small states from the large states. But, except for a complaint about voters from Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, there is no evidence in the records of the Constitutional Convention to support the first contention. On the second issue, delegates rejected allowing governors to choose the national executive precisely because the delegates feared the governors from the more numerous small states would outvote the larger states. Thus, both explanations are essentially urban legends that hide the real origin of the Electoral College.

While discussing how to choose the national executive, James Wilson of Pennsylvania, proposed that the chief executive be elected by “the people,” citing the successful experience of the popular election of governors in New York and Massachusetts. He argued that only the most famous people would be chosen under such a method. Later, Gouverneur Morris also argued in favor of election by the people: “He ought to be elected by the people at large, by the freeholders of the Country.” Morris argued that “If the people should elect, they will never fail to prefer some man of distinguished character, or services; some man, if he might so speak, of continental reputation.”

South Carolina’s Charles Pinckney opposed direct election of the president because the “most populous States by combining in favor of the same individual will be able to carry their points.” This statement cannot, however, be taken at face value. The issue here was not population, but the voting population. Half the people in South Carolina were slaves, and Pinckney could not support the direct election of the president, because that would hurt the South.

Hugh Williamson of North Carolina made this point directly, bluntly noting that the South could not support popular election because the people would “vote for some man in their own State, and the largest State will be sure to succeed. This will not be Virginia. However. Her slaves will have no suffrage.” This was a critical observation. If the president were directly elected by the people, then southerners, especially Virginians, might not get elected. Virginia had the largest population of any state, but about 40% of its people were slaves and none of them could vote. The same of course would be true for the rest of the South.

Somewhat later James Madison, conceded that “the people at large” were “the fittest” to choose the president. But “one difficulty … of a serious nature” made election by the people impossible. Madison noted that the “right of suffrage was much more diffusive in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of the Negroes.” In order to guarantee that the nonvoting slaves could nevertheless influence the presidential election, Madison favored the creation of the Electoral College.

The Convention then accepted the idea of an Electoral College. By this time the Convention had already agreed to count slaves for representation under the three­-fifths compromise, counting five slaves as equal to three free people in order to increase the South’s representation in Congress. Thus, in electing the president the political power southerners gained from owning slaves (although obviously not the votes of slaves) would be factored into the electoral votes of each state.

You can read the rest of this article by clicking here.

The sad irony is those states being disenfranchised today through the continuation of this undemocratic system are the ones with the highest proportion of minority voters. In that way the Electoral College is still fulfilling one of its original goals.

Protecting the white vote.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Spend Your Electoral College Day With

Mod: The chances that the Electoral College will produce enough Republican defectors to overturn Donald Trump's presidential victory today are not all that good. However, since this is a fellow that many Americans feel is uniquely unqualified to serve as President of the United States, and perhaps even dangerously so (link), hope springs eternal., an organization that fact checks the news in a world where so much of that stuff really does require a second look, reported on the following.

Electoral Fallout - Law professor Larry Lessig claims that at least twenty Republican electors are considering abandoning the President-elect (link):

ORIGIN: On 13 December 2016, Harvard law professor Larry Lessig announced that he was aware of "at least twenty Republican Electors who are seriously considering voting their conscience — and not voting for Donald J. Trump."

Lessig launched an organization called Electors Trust, where he offers members of the Electoral College — who are scheduled to cast their votes on 19 December 2016 — legal counsel and support for potentially rejecting the votes in their state and refusing to cast their ballots for Trump, thereby blocking him from being elected (a failsafe that was written into the Constitution, but has never been used to overturn a presidency).

In a press statement, Lessig said:

"Obviously, whether an elector ultimately votes his or her conscience will depend in part upon whether there are enough doing the same. We now believe there are more than half the number needed to change the result seriously considering making that vote."

Trump won enough votes in key states to achieve the 270 electoral votes needed to win the election. His victory was not without contention; shortly thereafter, Green Party candidate Jill Stein filed petitions for vote recounts in swing states Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Now, Lessig believes he can convince 37 electors to cast "faithless" votes and strip Trump of the victory.

Whether it's true that Lessig has 20 electors on board is impossible to verify unless they make themselves public. So far, only one Republican elector has publicly stated he will not vote for Trump Chris Suprun of Texas.

The effort seems unlikely to be successful. While Trump's rival, Hillary Clinton, won the popular vote by roughly 2.8 million votes as of 15 December 2016, Clinton has not contested the election results. Current President Barack Obama has also made it clear there is no question that Trump will succeed him. But Lessig called the ability of electors to take the election away from Trump a "constitutional emergency brake":

"Never in our history has the argument for electors exercising their independent judgment been as overwhelmingly strong—because of the concerns about foreign involvement in our election, because of Mr. Trump’s refusal to comply with constitutional limitations on foreign assets, and because of the overwhelming popular vote margin by his opponent."

Some states require electors by law to vote the way their state voted (although the penalties to vote against their state are relatively low). According to an NPR analysis, that leaves 155 who would still be able to change their votes — however unlikely the prospect seems.

Mod: So there you go. Probably won't happen, but there are those who are trying anyway. And, of course, you never know what might be going on behind the scenes. 

Putin To Sing At Trump Inauguration (The Borowitz Report link): After having difficulty persuading prominent entertainers to participate at the event, the Trump transition team announced on Sunday that the Russian President Vladimir Putin would sing at Donald J. Trump’s Inauguration next month.

In a brief statement from the Kremlin, Putin said, “I will be most delighted to perform for my comrade.”

The choice of Putin raised eyebrows in Washington, since the Russian, while famous for invading neighboring countries and imprisoning political opponents, is not particularly well known as a singer.

The Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway pushed back against such criticism during an appearance on CNN. “If we limited ourselves to people who had talent and experience, that would disqualify half of our Cabinet,” she said.

Putin’s choice of musical material also stirred controversy, as politicians on both sides of the aisle questioned his plan to perform the Russian national anthem.

According to those critics, the spectacle of Putin praising the glory and majesty of Russia in song would be inappropriate for the Inauguration of an American President.

In an attempt to quell that controversy, Putin said late on Sunday that he would instead serenade Trump by singing the Bette Midler classic, “Wind Beneath My Wings.”