For the past two weeks, the spending bill and threat of a federal government shutdown has been the front page news … and the 2nd and 3rd page news. The other big news was whether Oprah Winfrey might one day run for president, and the allegations that Trump paid $130,000 to a porn star, Stormy Daniels, to keep her quiet about an affair. I have repeatedly upheld the rights to a free press, and will continue to do so as long as there is breath in this body, but I do wish that our legitimate press would find a way toward better balance. So, here are a few snippets that you may have missed in the glare of the partisan bickering and trumpeting over the past two weeks.
Not a racist???
Kansas State Representative Steve Alford is a 75-year-old white Republican. Alford was giving a speech at a public meeting earlier this month, when he was asked why Kansas had not yet legalized marijuana as other states have done. His response?
“What you really need to do is go back in the ’30s and when they outlawed all types of drugs in Kansas [and] across the United States. What was the reason why they did that? One of the reasons why — I hate to say it — it’s the African Americans, they were basically users and they basically responded the worst off those drugs just because their character makeup, their genetics, and that.”
Two days and much criticism later, Alford gave a tepid apology while claiming that he is not a racist …
“I was wrong, I regret my comments, and I sincerely apologize to anyone whom I have hurt.”
The fox guarding the henhouse …
U.S. Representative Patrick Meehan, a republican from Pennsylvania, is a member of the House Ethics Committee.
Ethics: moral principles that govern a person’s behavior or the conducting of an activity.
As such, we would expect Mr. Meehan to abide by the highest standards, yes? Well, don’t hold your breath, folks. True, Patrick Meehan has been outspoken about the issue of sexual harassment in Congress, but he hasn’t exactly applied those standards to his own circumstances. It seems that Mr. Meehan, age 62, took special interest in one of his aides who was decades younger than he.
Meehan professed his romantic desires for her — first in person, and then in a handwritten letter. The aide rebuffed his overtures, and then he became ‘hostile’ toward her, according to several others in the office. The environment became so toxic that the aide filed a complaint, but ultimately resigned from her position.
Eventually a settlement was agreed upon by Meehan and the aide, for an undisclosed amount, said to be several thousand dollars, and a confidentiality agreement was included. And guess where the money to pay the settlement came from? You guessed it … Meehan’s congressional office fund. We The People paid because Patrick Meehan wished to let Wee Willie Winky out to play with younger girls. I do hope the good people of Pennsylvania remember this in November when they head to the polls.
Putin joins the NRA …
In a report from McClatchy Publishing, it appears that the National Rifle Association (NRA) had more than one reason for supporting Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. According to the report …
“The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency, two sources familiar with the matter have told McClatchy.
FBI counterintelligence investigators have focused on the activities of Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA, the sources said.”
Thanks to the conservative attack on campaign finance restrictions (ie., Citizens United) and disclosure rules, the system has become much less transparent, in ways that enable those with resources — including, perhaps, hostile foreign governments — to influence the elections while keeping their tracks covered.
I don’t know about you, my friends, but I am beginning to feel as if I am living within a John le Carré novel.
North and South – Reunited …
On Wednesday (January 17th) it was announced that North and South Korea will march together under one flag to kick off the XXIII Winter Olympics opening ceremonies on February 9th in PyeongChang, South Korea. This will be the first time in twelve years that the two Koreas will come together since the 2006 Olympics in Turin. It is far from a peace treaty between the two nations who have been at war for the better part of six decades, but it is a step in the right direction
Meanwhile, guess who wants credit? You got it … the Great Divider, Donald Trump, who has added to the tension and concerns in the area with his constant threats and taunts against North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un. On January 4th, during a phone call with South Korean President Moon Jae-in,Trump reportedly asked Moon to publicly give him credit for making the talks between North and South possible. And then he tweeted …
“With all of the failed “experts” weighing in, does anybody really believe that talks and dialogue would be going on between North and South Korea right now if I wasn’t firm, strong and willing to commit our total “might” against the North. Fools, but talks are a good thing!”
No, Donnie, you don’t get credit for this one.
I’m sure there is more news behind the smoke screen of the government shut down, but this is all I have for this afternoon. Stay tuned tomorrow for the return of Jolly Monday after its one-week hiatus.