Rep. Rooney warns his party-Will they listen?

There have been bits ‘n pieces of evidence in recent days that indicate the republicans in Congress may be getting a bit tired of Trump’s antics, a bit tired of trying to defend that which has no legitimate defense. Our friend Jeff delves into the latest and offers us some food for thought on this topic. Thanks Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

Yesterday, on CNN’s State of the Union show, Florida Representative Francis Rooney told host Jake Tapper that he was troubled by President Trump’s actions concerning the quid pro quo issue and Ukraine. So much so that he could not rule out voting to impeach the president if the evidence warranted. Rooney also fired a warning shot to his fellow Republicans concerning the future of his party.

I have a few thoughts about the Congressman’s remarks from yesterday. First, as for his concern with possibly impeaching Trump, I welcome any Republican who speaks out when they think this president has gone too far. Sadly, we haven’t had enough of them willing to do so. However, when someone does, we should commend them.

But, we shouldn’t be ready to award the man a medal for profiles in courage either. Much like former Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, Rooney has announced that…

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Why Impeachment? Because …

Ron-Chernow.pngRon Chernow is a presidential historian and biographer who has written excellent biographies of Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, and Ulysses S. Grant.  On Friday, Chernow wrote a piece for The Washington Post that gives some background and insight into the thought process behind the inclusion of impeachment in the U.S. Constitution.  I think you will be stunned by the prescience with which Alexander Hamilton predicted that Donald Trump would one day arrive on the scene.


Hamilton pushed for impeachment powers. Trump is what he had in mind.

He wanted a strong president — and a way to get rid of the demagogic ones.

By Ron Chernow

OCTOBER 18, 2019

Hamilton.jpgPresident Trump has described the impeachment proceedings as a “coup,” and his White House counsel has termed them “unconstitutional.” This would come as a surprise to Alexander Hamilton, who wrote not only the 11 essays in “The Federalist” outlining and defending the powers of the presidency, but also the two essays devoted to impeachment.

There seems little doubt, given his writings on the presidency, that Hamilton would have been aghast at Trump’s behavior and appalled by his invitation to foreign actors to meddle in our elections. As a result, he would most certainly have endorsed the current impeachment inquiry. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Trump embodies Hamilton’s worst fears about the kind of person who might someday head the government.

Among our founders, Hamilton’s views count heavily because he was the foremost proponent of a robust presidency, yet he also harbored an abiding fear that a brazen demagogue could seize the office. That worry helps to explain why he analyzed impeachment in such detail: He viewed it as a crucial instrument to curb possible abuses arising from the enlarged powers he otherwise championed.

Unlike Thomas Jefferson, with his sunny faith in the common sense of the people, Hamilton emphasized their “turbulent and changing” nature and worried about a “restless” and “daring usurper” who would excite the “jealousies and apprehensions” of his followers. He thought the country should be governed by wise and illustrious figures who would counter the fickle views of the electorate with reasoned judgments. He hoped that members of the electoral college, then expected to exercise independent judgment, would select “characters preeminent for ability and virtue.”

From the outset, Hamilton feared an unholy trinity of traits in a future president — ambition, avarice and vanity. “When avarice takes the lead in a State, it is commonly the forerunner of its fall,” he wrote as early as the Revolutionary War. He dreaded most the advent of a populist demagogue who would profess friendship for the people and pander to their prejudices while secretly betraying them. Such a false prophet would foment political frenzy and try to feed off the confusion.

So haunted was Hamilton by this specter that he conjured it up in “The Federalist” No. 1, warning that “a dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that . . . of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.”

Throughout history, despots have tended to be silent, crafty and secretive. Hamilton was more concerned with noisy, flamboyant figures, who would throw dust in voters’ eyes and veil their sinister designs behind it. These connoisseurs of chaos would employ a constant barrage of verbiage to cloud issues and blur moral lines. Such hobgoblins of Hamilton’s imagination bear an eerie resemblance to the current occupant of the White House, with his tweets, double talk and inflammatory rhetoric at rallies.

While under siege from opponents as treasury secretary, Hamilton sketched out the type of charlatan who would most threaten the republic: “When a man unprincipled in private life[,] desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper . . . despotic in his ordinary demeanour — known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty — when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity — to join in the cry of danger to liberty — to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion — to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day — It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may ‘ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.’ ” Given the way Trump has broadcast suspicions about the CIA, the FBI, the diplomatic corps, senior civil servants and the “deep state,” Hamilton’s warning about those who would seek to discredit the government as prelude to a possible autocracy seems prophetic.

At the time of the Constitutional Convention, foreign powers, notably Britain and Spain, still hovered on America’s borders, generating fear of foreign interventions in our elections. Hamilton supported the electoral college as a way to forestall these nations from seeking “to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?” He prophesied that competing countries would try to clip the wings by which America “might soar to a dangerous greatness.” That Trump was so cavalier about Russian meddling in the 2016 election and then invited Ukraine to furnish defamatory material about his political rival Joe Biden would have shocked Hamilton and the other founders, all of whom were wary of “the insidious wiles of foreign influence,” as George Washington phrased it in his farewell address.

In defending impeachment in two “Federalist” essays, one might have expected Hamilton to engage in close textual analysis, parsing the exact meaning of “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Instead he couched his defense in broad political language, stating that impeachment should “proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust.” In short, the president didn’t need to commit a crime per se. “If the federal government should overpass the just bounds of its authority and make a tyrannical use of its powers,” the people must “take such measures to redress the injury done to the Constitution as the exigency may suggest and prudence justify.” Trump’s telephone call with the Ukrainian president would seem to suggest a clear abuse of power and possibly a campaign finance violation, although we will need a fair and impartial inquiry to confirm this. As Hamilton wrote, “Caution and investigation are a necessary armor against error and imposition.”

Knowing that impeachment would be divisive, arousing violent party agitation, Hamilton never wanted it used lightly or capriciously, but neither did he want it relegated to mere window-dressing. It was a tool intended for use as conditions warranted. “If there be no penalty annexed to disobedience, the resolutions or commands which pretend to be laws will, in fact, amount to nothing more than advice or recommendation,” he wrote. For Hamilton, each branch of government required a mechanism to check encroachment by the others. He discerned a perfect symmetry between the president’s veto over legislation, constraining congressional overreach, and presidential impeachment, curbing executive excess. In his notes for the New York state convention to ratify the Constitution, he jotted down: “Legislative in the Congress, yet checked by negative of the Executive. Executive in the President, yet checked by impeachment of Congress.”

Throughout his “Federalist” essays, Hamilton foresaw impeachment as a possible two-step process and noted multiple times that after removal from office, an impeached president would “be liable to prosecution and punishment in the ordinary course of law.” He was adamant that the Senate should hold a trial, with the chief justice presiding, and pointed out that other Supreme Court justices should be excluded in case the ousted president then became a defendant for his misdeeds in the regular court system.

Our constitutional system, with its separation of powers, is an exquisitely calibrated mechanism. James Madison, one of Hamilton’s “Federalist” co-authors, noted that no single branch of government “can pretend to an exclusive or superior right of settling the boundaries between their respective powers.” But that is exactly what the president is doing by trying to shut down Congress’s powers of executive oversight.

In the last analysis, democracy isn’t just a set of institutions or shared principles, but a culture of mutual respect and civility. People must be willing to play by the rules or the best-crafted system becomes null and void, a travesty of its former self. We are now seeing on a daily basis presidential behavior that would have been unimaginable during more than two centuries of the American experiment. Not only is Trump himself on trial, but he is also testing our constitutional system to the breaking point. In his worst imaginings, however, Hamilton anticipated — at least in its general outline — the chaos and demagoguery now on display in Washington. He also helped design and defend the remedy: impeachment.

♫ You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me ♫

Originally, this was a Italian song composed by Pino Donnagio. Dusty Springfield heard Donnagio perform it at the San Remo festival and asked her friend Vicki Wickham, who produced the British TV show Ready Steady Go, to write some English lyrics for it. With the help of Yardbirds manager Simon Napier-Bell, she did.

According to Napier-Bell …

“Vicki and I used to eat together, and she told me that Dusty wanted a lyric for this song. We went back to her flat and started working on it. We wanted to go to a trendy disco so we had about an hour to write it. We wrote the chorus and then we wrote the verse in a taxi to wherever we were going. It was the first pop lyric I’d written, although I’ve always been interested in poetry and good literature. We’d no idea what the English lyric said. That seemed to be irrelevant and besides, it is much easier to write a new lyric completely.”

I like the song for the music, the tune, but admittedly, the lyrics disturb me, for it seems she is saying that “he” can do as he wishes, never having to say he loves her, never needing to commit, while she will always be there for him.  Seems a bit one-sided to me, and it makes me rather sad.  But still … I like the melody, so it stays.

Dusty recorded this in 1966, and then along came Elvis Presley, who covered it with an also-popular version both in the U.S. and UK in 1970.  I prefer Dusty’s, but Elvis’ isn’t bad, either.  So … you get both!

You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me
Dusty Springfield/Elvis Presley

When I said I needed you
You said you would always stay
It wasn’t me who changed but you and now you’ve gone away
Don’t you see that now you’ve gone
And I’m left here on my own
That I have to follow you and beg you to come home

You don’t have to say you love me just be close at hand
You don’t have to stay forever I will understand
Believe me, believe me I can’t help but love you
But believe me I’ll never tie you down
Left alone with just a memory
Life seems dead and quite unreal
All that’s left is loneliness there’s nothing left to feel

You don’t have to say you love me just be close at hand
You don’t have to stay forever
I will understand believe me, believe me
You don’t have to say you love me just be close at hand
You don’t have to stay forever
I will understand, believe me, believe me

Songwriters: Giuseppe Donaggio / Simon Napier-Bell / Vito Pallavicini / Vicki Heather Wickham
You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me lyrics © Downtown Music Publishing

Jolly Funday Monday!

Good Monday morning, friends!  I hope you all had a fun and/or relaxing weekend.  Mine?  Oh, nothing much … you know, hiked up Mount Everest, paddled down the Amazon … just the same ol’, same ol’.  Okay, okay … I did next to nothing!  The girls and I did our usual lunch/bookstore trip on Saturday … I took a break from my blog on Saturday, by the way!  A whole day without writing a single post!  That’s the first time since sometime late 2018, I believe!  But, now begins another week, and I’m trying to psych myself into getting back into my household chores routine, because for the past several weeks I have seriously lacked motivation to do more than the absolute essentials.

Anyway, enough of that … there are treats on the table … I have no idea what, since I let Jolly prepare the table, though I baked the treats (you remember how Jolly is in the kitchen!)  So, grab a bite and let’s start this week off with some fun!

 

 

 

 

Note to rawgod:  Note that all three plates of bacon are uniquely different.  Take whichever you wish, but take only one, please, for the others are for Emily and Larry!


When you go fishing, you expect to catch … er … fish, right?  Sure, you might get a surprise by catching a mollusk of some sort, or these days you might well pull up a net full of plastic bottles ‘n such.  But what you really do not ever expect to catch is a …bobcat.pngThat’s right … a bobcat!

Bob Hereford was out fishing on Flathead Lake in Montana, with his wife, son Brett, and the family pooch, when they heard something thrashing around in the water.  Bob very carefully steered the boat in the direction of the splashing for a closer look, and there he was, struggling to stay afloat, the little bobcat.  Son Brett gently scooped him up in their fishing net, and they drove the bobcat back to shore, releasing him on dry land.Brett-bobcatExperts say that while bobcats can swim, they typically avoid bodies of water, and they speculate that it is possible an eagle had picked up the bobcat and dropped him over the water.  Either way, all’s well that ends well, and this fish story had a happy ending!


It’s no secret that cats like to get ‘in’ things.  Leave a cardboard box lying around … before you can turn around, there’s a cat in it … well, if you have cats, that is.  When Orange was still alive, his favourite place was the fruit bowl!  A laundry basket full of clothes left unattended?  There will soon be a cat in it.  Every time daughter Chris is packing for a band trip, the cats love getting into her suitcase.Candy-mom-dadLast week, Nick and Voirrey Coole – a couple from Isle Of Man, the United Kingdom – had scheduled their 40th birthday celebrations in New York.  When they went through airport security with their carry-on baggage, the security staff repeatedly asked them if that was their bag after it had gone through the scanner, they were puzzled.  They had purposely put very little into their carry-ons, for they intended to use them to bring back souvenirs.

The security staff unzipped the bag in question, and out climbed the Coole’s cat, Candy!  Nick later posted on Facebook …Candy-1

“You know that feeling when you get ushered into a side room at airport security because you’ve got a cat in your hand luggage? Candy decided to sneak into our hand bag, thanks Barry and Lorna for picking her up so we can head off on our holiday. Fair play to airport security for helping to get her home so we could catch our flight.”

Candy-2.jpg

As one commenter, Richard Lee said, “Cat was obviously thinking, ‘I fits, I sits, I fly’”


How about a few houses, all decked out for the spooky season…

spooky-1spooky-2spooky-4spooky-5  spooky-3spooky-6

spooky-7

Oopsie … my bad … wrong scary holiday!


Shay Bradley died earlier this month, and his funeral was held on October 12th in Kilmanagh, Kilkenny, Ireland.  As friends and family stood around the grave where the casket had just been lowered, imagine their surprise when, from down in the hole, came a knocking sound and “Hello … hello!” … more knocking … “Hello.  Let me out!  Where the f*** am I?” … knocking … “Let me out.  It’s f***ing dark in here.”

His daughter, Andrea, posted on Twitter …

“It was his dying wish that we played this at his funeral. What a man, to make us all laugh when we were incredibly sad. He was some man for one man. Love you forever Poppabear.”


I think we have time for just a few cartoons …

toon-1toon-2toon-3toon-4toon-5


Alright, folks … time for us all to go forth and be useful … no, Joe, not multiply … you’ve already done your share of that!  Oh, but first … how could I forget the cute animal video?  This one comes to us courtesy of Colette … she saw it, and knew we would all love it!  It’s short, but guaranteed to bring a smile to your face!


jollyAnd now, we must really go.  Jolly and I have so enjoyed spending time with you this morning.  Share those smiles, friends … some people seem to have lost their own!  Keep safe and have a wonderful week!  Love ‘n hugs from Filosofa and Jolly!

Voices From Under The Hats …

I would like to make a disclaimer before I proceed:  I am not name-calling, and I am not generalizing in what I am about to say.  I do not include all republicans, nor even all Trump supporters, and I am stating a fact, not calling anybody names with the intention of being derogatory.  Please note that the word ignorance is defined simply as “lack of knowledge or information”.  

We keep reassuring ourselves that the Trump supporters are finally waking up, finally beginning to see the light of day, to see that the person they’ve been slavishly supporting is a narcissistic crook.  I have evidence to the contrary.

Trump, under a dark cloud of likely impeachment, weathering a number of scandals of his own making, was still welcomed with what can only be called mass ignorance when he held a rally in Minneapolis, Minnesota last week.  Listen to what one attendee said when asked his thoughts about the impeachment inquiry …

“They’re just making stuff up. He’s starting to fight back.”

Say WHAT???

Nobody is making anything up … both Trump and his Chief of Staff have admitted that he tried to coerce a foreign power to interfere in our upcoming election, to undermine the very principles that make this a free nation, a republic!  Facts, folks … cold, hard facts.  But, though Trump is far from the brightest bulb in the pack, he does know how to rile the masses, how to play to the audience …Maga-1

“They want to erase your vote like it never existed. They want to erase your voice and they want to erase your future. But they will fail because in America, the people rule again.”

Ha ha ha ha ha … the people rule!  What a crock!  Donald Trump rules by bullying and threatening.  Period.  The people are the last thing he cares about, but they, in all their ignorance that they wear like a badge of honour, cannot (or will not) see it.  The more of these comments I read, the snarkier I became.

Another comment from a member of the maga-hat-wearing crowd …

maga-hat-2“I think it’s a witch hunt. I don’t think Donald Trump has done any impeachable offence that’s a high crime or misdemeanour. There was nothing wrong with their conversation. It seems to me they’re turning a Biden scandal into a Trump scandal. I think the phone call has been taken out of context. They’re making it sound like he was trying to take down a political rival. If Biden was using his position to further his son’s career, then that in itself is corrupt.”

Now, here is my evidence, the facts that back up my claim that the people who attend these rallies and cheer ‘til they lose their voice are ignorant.  The thing that matters here is that Trump attempted to coerce a foreign power to interfere in the election.  Period.  The fact is that Joe Biden has already been proven innocent of any wrongdoing, but that is not the point.  The point is that Donald Trump, acting as president of this nation, broke the law.  Broke. The. Law.

And yet another …

maga-hat-3

Yes, Pleeeeeease!

“It’s a joke. It really is. It’s not an official inquiry. It’s Pelosi, having her own private poll. She’s only asking the people she wants to ask. They produced the transcript. That’s the whole story. Trump never said he was going to withhold money. They’ve tried to impeach Trump since before he was in office. It’s not really the Democratic Party – it’s just anti-Republican. If they want an official investigation, they should just go to the courts and do it.”

Obviously, this person is beyond clueless.  Still more …

“We wanted to do our little bit. We wanted to show our support for the president we love and support our free country. We know what they’re investigating. But we know what we know. I’ve read the transcript and I didn’t find anything illegal in it.”

And are you, madam, a lawyer or Constitutional Law scholar???

maga-hat-1“I don’t think he’s done anything wrong. He’s nothing to hide. If there’s corruption, we need to know about it. It’s all a big scam and the Bidens are trying to cover their tracks.”

“All these channels except Fox – it’s the only one that speaks the truth – they’re trying to come up with whistleblowers that don’t exist. They try to change people’s minds with misinformation.”

“As a president, he’s supposed to be looking for corruption. He didn’t do a quid pro quo. He didn’t say ‘I’m going to withdraw funds’. He didn’t withhold anything at all.”

Maga-2Do you even know the meaning of “quid pro quo”?  We’re not talking about “withdrawing funds”, lady!

“I don’t know, like sneaking off with a billion dollars in cash, that might be something. It’s not even a crime, what Trump did. I wish they would take it to a vote. Then both sides would have full disclosure. But Democrats don’t want that to happen.”

Trust me, a vote will be taken, and Trump will be impeached.  Wait for it, madam.

maga-hat-4“I’ve been on the Trump express ever since he got going. If you read the transcript, which I have done, there’s nothing there which was bad. If Democrats want to impeach him, that’s their loss. What did he do that broke the law? The Democrats can’t answer that.  If Obama had that same conversation would any of this be coming up? The answer is 100% no. That’s all it is. They’re out to get him. The Russian election thing failed on them massively. And when this one fails they’ll move into the next thing. They’re going to have four more years trying to get rid of him.”

Yo, buddy!  You can read???  Wow, I’m impressed.  But let me set you straight here … if Obama had done any one, single thing that Trump has done, he would have been impeached, tried, convicted and removed from office within a week.  Can you spell r-a-c-i-s-t?

And lastly, this …

“If people were open minded about what he’s doing, and put aside what they think of him anyway, I think they’d find his views are a lot closer to theirs than they think.”

No, lady, I can guarantee you that there is not one single thing I would agree with him on.

So, there you have it folks … the voice of the 40%.  Differences in political opinion are one thing.  I can deal with someone having a different ideology than I have, being more or less liberal, etc., but I have no idea how to have a sensible discussion with those who are ignorant, and I think that all of the above comments bespeak of ignorance.  Lack of knowledge, and a disinterest in trying to learn about things they don’t understand.  One part of me wants to feel sorry for them, but … these are the very people who got us into this mess we’re in, the very ones that have elected and supported a demagogue who is shredding our Constitution.  Sorry, but I find I cannot dredge up a shred of empathy for them.

Senators, Please “Just Say NO”

Donald Trump has a heavily vested interest in the U.S. court system.  I mean, anyone who has sued or been sued some 5,000+ times, surely knows his way around the courts, right?  Just since he took that oath of office that he has failed miserably in upholding, he has been involved in more than 100 lawsuits … in under three years, and that is not counting personal or business lawsuits, only the ones that involve his office.

Numerous times, judges have ruled against Trump, and his lawyers have filed appeals, so it stands to reason that, as there is currently a vacancy on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, he would nominate a candidate he felt would be on his team, in his court, so to speak.  Enter one Steven James Menashi, Trump’s current nominee to fill the vacancy.  Let’s learn a bit about Mr. Menashi’s career thus far …

  • Menashi graduated from Stanford Law School in 2008 with a Juris Doctor (JD)
  • Menashi served as a law clerk to Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit during the 2008–2009 term, and to Associate Justice Samuel Alito of the Supreme Court of the United States during the 2010–2011 term
  • He has been a partner in a law firm, and an assistant professor of law at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School
  • He served as general counsel on an acting basis to the Department of Education from mid-2017 to mid-2018
  • In September 2018, Menashi moved to the White House to become a Special Assistant to the President and Associate Counsel to the President

You may note that he has never been a judge.MenashiIn September, Trump sent his nomination for Menashi to fill the seat on the Appellate court.  Now, you might say that he sounds well enough qualified, even though he’s never been a judge before.  And the American Bar Association has rated him as “well qualified”.  So, where’s the beef?

On September 11, 2019, a hearing on Menashi’s nomination was held before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  It did not go well.  Menashi declined or outright refused to answer many of the committee’s questions.  Even Trump sycophant Senator Lindsey Graham appeared antagonistic toward Menashi …

“That’s not an unfair question. Did you work on the subject matter? I’m not asking you to talk about what you did in terms of legal advice, I’m asking did you work on the topic.”

Senator Richard Durbin also lost patience with Menashi …

“We’re trying to understand if you have any values that are consistent with the awesome responsibilities you are seeking, and I’m hoping you would show some candor and honesty.”

Senator John Neely Kennedy:

“Counsel, you’re a really smart guy, but I wish you’d be more forthcoming. This isn’t supposed to be a game; we’re supposed to try to understand not how you’re going to rule but how you’re going to think.”

But perhaps even more disturbing than his obfuscation are some of his beliefs as expressed through his prior writings.  One in particular titled “Ethnonationalism and Liberal Democracy”, has drawn concern and criticism. In a nutshell, the piece argues that “ethnonationalism remains a common and accepted feature of liberal democracy that is consistent with current state practice and international law.”

Just to clarify, the term ethnonationalism is defined as “a form of nationalism wherein the nation is defined in terms of ethnicity. The central theme of ethnic nationalists is that “nations are defined by a shared heritage, which usually includes a common language, a common faith, and a common ethnic ancestry”.  While this may well be the case in many nations, it should not ever be considered to be in the United States, the melting pot of the world.  The U.S. is a nation founded on the principles of openness, of welcoming all to its shores, of religious freedom.  Ethnonationalism promotes bigotry in all its ugly forms and certainly has no place in the Courts of the land!

But wait … there’s more.

  • He has spoken strongly against abortion, likening it to infanticide
  • Menashi had a history of denouncing feminists, diversity efforts and gay rights groups in his college columns and other writings
  • He has a history of denouncing women’s marches against sexual assault, dismissing education about multicultural awareness and accusing a major LGBTQ group of exploiting the brutal murder of a gay student for political ends

In a word, Mr. Menashi is a bigot.  If confirmed to the Second Court of Appeals, it would be a lifetime appointment.  Menashi is only 40 years old, so conceivably his bigoted, misogynist, racist ideology could shape the face of the court for as long as the next 40 years.  Given that quite a few senators were displeased with his performance at the confirmation hearing, there is some hope that this nominee will not be rubber-stamped as so many have been in the past 33 months.  Since the confirmation hearing was more than a month ago, I’m guessing there is a good chance that this nomination will fail.  I certainly hope so, anyway.

The Words Of A Wise Man

Thomas Friedman is a weekly columnist for the New York Times, a well-respected author of seven books, numerous documentaries, and the recipient of three Pulitzer prizes.  His forte is foreign affairs, global trade, the Middle East, globalization, and environmental issues.  Yesterday, his latest column crossed my desk and I felt it worthy of sharing.


It’s Not Trump vs. the Dems. It’s Trump vs. the Country’s True Defenders.

Public servants who swore to protect the Constitution also set the impeachment process in motion.

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by Thomas L. Friedman

Last Thursday and Friday, two important Americans bore witness to the state of our nation. One was President Trump, addressing political rallies. The other was Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine until suddenly told to get “on the next plane” — because Trump wanted her removed — without explanation.

Every American should contemplate their remarks, which I excerpt later, and then ask two questions: Whose speech would you want to read to your children’s civics class and which speaker do you think represents the America you want to see evolve and leave to your kids?

This exercise is vital because this impeachment process was not set in motion by the Democratic Party. It was set in motion by civil servants — whistle-blowers from the intelligence community, now supported by National Security Council staffers and diplomats. These public servants also took an oath to serve the country and protect the Constitution, and they have shown remarkable courage to risk their careers, and maybe more, to call out the president for violating his oath.

They are like antibodies fighting the cancer in our political system. John Bolton spoke for all of them when, while national security adviser, he reportedly instructed Fiona Hill, the N.S.C. Russia expert, to tell White House lawyers that he wanted no part “of whatever drug deal” the president’s cronies were cooking up as part of an off-the-books diplomatic effort being led by Rudy Giuliani to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden.

It is breathtaking that virtually no Republican lawmakers have manifested similar courage — when all they have to lose is $174,000 in salary and free parking at Reagan Washington National Airport.

This point can’t be stressed enough. Because if Trump is removed from office and the country is healed afterward, it will only be because a majority of Americans understand that this is, at its core, a fight between these noncorrupt, apolitical civil servants — whose norms and institutions make America’s government so envied and respected around the world — and Giuliani and Trump and their pals, who care only about serving themselves and their conspiracy theories.

Trump and his enablers at the state-directed Fox News want to portray this as just another partisan fight — between Trump and his Democratic rivals — in the hope that the public will shrug and say, “There they go again.” They don’t want Americans to understand that this fight is about guarding the most cherished norms and institutions that define us as a nation.

We can’t let that happen. In service of that goal, I repeat some of Trump’s and Yovanovitch’s remarks.

Here’s Trump in Louisiana: “The radical Democrats’ policies are crazy. Their politicians are corrupt. Their candidates are terrible. And they know they can’t win on Election Day, so they’re pursuing an illegal, invalid and unconstitutional bullshit impeachment.”

And here’s Trump in Minneapolis about Joe Biden: “He was only a good vice president because he understood how to kiss Barack Obama’s ass.”

And here’s Yovanovitch in her opening statement to the House impeachment investigators: “For the last 33 years, it has been my great honor to serve the American people as a Foreign Service officer, over six administrations — four Republican, and two Democratic. I have served in seven different countries, five of them hardship posts, and was appointed to serve as an ambassador three times — twice by a Republican president and once by a Democrat. Throughout my career, I have stayed true to the oath that Foreign Service officers take and observe every day: ‘that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,’ and ‘that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.’”

She added: “My parents fled Communist and Nazi regimes. Having seen, firsthand, the war, poverty and displacement common to totalitarian regimes, they valued the freedom and democracy the U.S. represents. And they raised me to cherish these values as well.”

She continued: “From August 2016 until May 2019, I served as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Our policy, fully embraced by Democrats and Republicans alike, was to help Ukraine become a stable and independent democratic state, with a market economy integrated into Europe.”

Then Yovanovitch added: “I have heard the allegation in the media that I supposedly told the embassy team to ignore the president’s orders ‘since he was going to be impeached.’ That allegation is false. I have never said such a thing, to my embassy colleagues or to anyone else. … With respect to Mayor Giuliani, I have had only minimal contacts with him. … I do not know Mr. Giuliani’s motives for attacking me. But individuals who have been named in the press as contacts of Mr. Giuliani may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.”YovanovitchAnd then she explained that after being asked in early March “to extend my tour until 2020, I was then abruptly told in late April to come back to Washington from Ukraine ‘on the next plane.’ You will understandably want to ask why my posting ended so suddenly. I wanted to learn that, too, and I tried to find out. I met with the deputy secretary of state, who informed me of the curtailment of my term.

“He said that the president had lost confidence in me and no longer wished me to serve as his ambassador. He added that there had been a concerted campaign against me, and that the department had been under pressure from the president to remove me since the summer of 2018. He also said that I had done nothing wrong and that this was not like other situations where he had recalled ambassadors for cause.”

Alas, Secretary of State Pompeo did nothing to protect her.

Yovanovitch continued: “Although I understand that I served at the pleasure of the president, I was nevertheless incredulous that the U.S. government chose to remove an ambassador based, as best as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives. …

“I have served this nation honorably for more than 30 years. … Throughout that time, I — like my colleagues at the State Department — have always believed that we enjoyed a sacred trust with our government. … We repeatedly uproot our lives, and we frequently put ourselves in harm’s way to serve this nation. And we do that willingly, because we believe in America and its special role in the world. We also believe that, in return, our government will have our backs and protect us if we come under attack from foreign interests. That basic understanding no longer holds true.”

If this is how our government will now act, great long-term harm will be done to “our nation’s interest, perhaps irreparably,” Yovanovitch concluded. We will lose “many of this nation’s most loyal and talented public servants,” and “bad actors” in countries beyond Ukraine will “see how easy it is to use fiction and innuendo to manipulate our system. In such circumstances, the only interests that will be served are those of our strategic adversaries, like Russia, that spread chaos and attack the institutions and norms that the U.S. helped create and which we have benefited from for the last 75 years.”

In both Minnesota and Louisiana, Trump supporters chanted “U.S.A., U.S.A., U.S.A.” at his red-meat lines. Read these two transcripts and then ask yourself, who’s really protecting and honoring “U.S.A., U.S.A., U.S.A.”?

♫ Runaway ♫

Hop into your time machines, for tonight we are traveling back … to 1961!  I was only ten, but I remember this song well.

Del Shannon once said he wrote the words to this about himself because he was forever running away from relationships.  Shannon and his keyboard player, Max Crook, came up with this while they were playing a club in their hometown of Battle Creek, Michigan. Crook played a keyboard called a “Musitron” on the song.

According to Shannon …

“We were on stage and Max hit an A minor and a G and I said, ‘Max, play that again, it’s a great change.'” The drummer, Dick Parker, followed them and after 15 minutes, the manager of the club shouted, ‘Knock it off, play something else.’  That night I went back to the club and I told Max to play an instrumental on his musitron for the middle part, and when he played that solo, we had ‘Runaway.'”

The song hit #1 in the U.S., Australia, Canada, and the UK to name a few.  This was Del Shannon’s biggest hit, and a few years later his career trailed off.  Del Shannon committed suicide in 1990.

Runaway
Del Shannon

As I walk along, I wonder
A what went wrong whit our love
A love that was so strong

And as I still walk on
I think of the thing’s we’ve done
Together, while our hearts were young

I’m a walkin’ in the rain
Tears are fallin’ and I feel a pain
A wishin’ you were here by me
To end this misery

And I wonder, I wa wa wa wa wonder
Why a why why why why why
She ran away
And I wonder where she will stay
My little runaway
My run run run run runaway

I’m a walkin’ in the rain
Tears are fallin’ and I feel a pain
A wishin’ you were here by me
To end this misery

And I wonder, I wa wa wa wa wonder
Why a why why why why why
She ran awayway
And I wonder where she will stay
My little runaway
A run run run run
Runaway

Songwriters: Del Shannon, Max D. Crook
Publisher: BMG Rights Management

He’s Got To GO!

Folks, it’s just not funny anymore, okay?  Oh wait … it was never funny, was it?  When lives are at stake, there can be no laughter.  When the foundations of a government is at stake, the time for laughter has passed.

On November 8th of 2016, some 62,979,879 people voted for a ‘man’ named Donald Trump.  A ‘man’ few had heard of in political circles, for he was naught but a real estate ‘mogul’ and a television entertainer.  I had heard the name, but not being a watcher of television, nor an occupier of casino stools, it was largely irrelevant to me.  Until June 2015, that is.  The vote for Trump was not the majority, but nonetheless, because of racial gerrymandering, he managed to win the electoral college and thus was inaugurated on January 20th, 2017, into the highest office of the United States government.

Since that fateful day, he has been hellbent and determined to destroy the nation he swore to protect, to oppose the Constitution he swore to uphold, and most of all … to profit.

He was the most unqualified, unprepared person imaginable for this position.  He said he would surround himself with the ‘best people’.  They said he would learn … they said he would become ‘presidential’.

They were all wrong.  He didn’t.

It is now 33 months into his term, and much of the destruction he has wrought is irreversible.  The latest horror may well have been the last straw for this nation, for it has convinced our allies that our word is worth less than the paper it is written on.  As a result of his decision to remove U.S. troops from northeastern Syria, at least 38 civilians and 81 Kurdish fighters have been killed.  Those deaths are attributable to the United States.  Their blood is on the hands of none other than Donald Trump who negotiated with Turkish President Recep Erdoğan, Trump immediately removed troops from Syria, and within hours Erdoğan began brutally attacking the Kurds.

Donald Trump does not feel badly about the deaths, but instead made comments on Wednesday that the “Kurds are no angels”, and that the Turks attacking the Kurds in Syria has “nothing to do with us”.

“I view the situation on the Turkish border with Syria to be, for the United States, strategically brilliant. Our soldiers are out of there, they’re totally safe. They’ve got to work it out. Maybe they can do it without fighting.”

A classic case of that arrogant saying, “I got mine”.

Trump’s ignorance has cost human lives.  That, my friends, is not reversible.  I would like to hear from some of those who support Trump if they are okay with our allies being murdered because Trump didn’t know what he was doing.

The House of Representatives held a vote on Tuesday on whether to condemn Trump’s actions in the Middle East.  The bill received overwhelming bi-partisan support in favour of condemning Trump’s actions:  354 Yea; 60 Nay; 4 Present; 14 Not Voting.  81% of the entire House condemns Trump’s foolhardy action.  My own representative voted Nay, and had a scathing email from me waiting in his in box this morning.  The biggest disappointment was that Justin Amash, who left the GOP earlier this year after voicing support for impeachment, abstained, voting only “Present”.  Ah well, I suppose his bout of conscience didn’t last very long, did it?

What does this condemnation mean?  Not a damn thing, really, for it is mainly symbolic.  What it does signal, however, is that at least 129 republicans in the House of Representatives have had enough … for them, Trump has finally crossed a line.  This is, perhaps, the true significance of this move … it sends a message, loud and clear, that there are limits to what he can do and still have the support of his party in Congress.  My hope is that some of those 129 republicans will also now think long and hard about impeachment and see that it may be the only way to salvage what is left of our reputation before he finishes his process of destruction.  The presidency of Donald Trump is costing the people of this nation far, far too much.

Yesterday, Trump boasted of a cease-fire that had been worked out between Mike Pence and Recep Erdoğan.  It is not a cease fire.  Let’s be clear … it is a cessation of attack for five days, 120 hours, to “give the Kurds time to clear out”.  But … the Kurds have a right to be there.  The Kurds should not have to ‘clear out’.  The implication is clear … any who remain at the end of five days will be obliterated.  This amounts to nothing more than a further abandonment on the part of the U.S. of our allies.  What happens, I wonder, if Trump’s buddy Putin decides he would like to add the UK or France or Germany to his vision for an expanded USSR-style Russian empire?

It seems to me that the person who has the least understanding of international affairs, is calling all the shots now.  Or, rather, he is the puppet whose strings are being pulled by the likes of Putin and Erdoğan, who are actually calling all the shots.

And the latest, announced late yesterday, is that he has awarded himself a prize!  He, in his great and unmatched wisdom, has decided that next year’s G7 summit will be held at Trump’s Doral Resort, so that he can profit ‘bigly’.  This, my friends, is against the law.  But, will anybody hold him accountable?  Will anybody say, “No, Donnie, you cannot do that?”  It remains to be seen.  Thus far, I’ve only seen looks of disbelief and shaking heads, but no action.  Perhaps, if Trump stays on his current path of shoving our allies under the bus, he will be the one not invited to next year’s G7.

There is growing support around the nation for impeachment.  Just today, White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, let slip that Trump had, in fact, offered “quid pro quo” to the Ukranian President Zelinskyy, in exchange for providing false information about the Bidens in order to affect the outcome of next year’s election.  My friends … It is time for Donald Trump to go, and frankly, I don’t care in what form or fashion, for if he remains in office for another five years, this nation will hit rock bottom.  I firmly believe that.

Newest Information.

On 16 September, I shared David’s post about Kris Maharaj, the man who has spent more than 33 years in prison for a crime he did NOT commit. At that time, there was good new, but today, David has an update … further delays. Kris Maharaj is 80 years old … how many more delays can he face? We refer to ‘justice’ in this nation, but sometimes it seems that justice is only for the wealthy, the white, the ones who can afford that justice. 😢 Please read the latest … maybe it’s time for us to start a letter-writing blitz!

The BUTHIDARS

Today I received a message from Clive Stafford Smith who has been Kris’s lawyer for about 26 years now, sometimes I think the world has so many problems,  what’s one more and since this one doesn’t involve Kurds being slaughtered by the savagery of the Turkish forces with beheadings and there are children dying in cages inside the U.S. border that maybe a problem like this one can take a backseat as no-one is dying. I find it can’t. I’m invested in this case because Kris is innocent of the murders he was charged with and he has been in prison for 33 years for no reason. You could say that his wife Marita who has stood beside him for the whole time is also in a prison albeit one of her own making. Recently a woman who while a policewoman, shot and killed a man in his own home…

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