The Twilight Zone Presidency

A day late to the party, I was reading Jeff’s post over at On the Fence Voters, and he was doing a wrap-up of yesterday’s news … you know, Trump referring to himself as the “chosen one”, picking a fight with Denmark, gloating over conspiracy-theorist Wayne Allen Root’s nauseating praise of Trump … and suddenly my jaw dropped. I try to stay on top of the news, but I had missed this one. There’s a new media outlet in town, folks, and this, as Jeff says, will leave you feeling like we truly are living in the Twilight Zone. Take a look at what he has found out about Epoch Times … but first, take a few aspirins and perhaps have an antacid handy, for you may feel ill by the time you get to the end. Thank you, Jeff, for this enlightenment …

On The Fence Voters

I was too young to remember the original television series The Twilight Zone, which ran on CBS from 1959-1964. But I do remember watching those same shows, which ran in syndication for several years in the late 60s and 70s. Yes, I’m dating myself here. So for those who have no recollection of the series, the host, Rod Serling, would appear at the beginning and introduce each show with a short monologue explaining what we were about to see.

The show was unique for its time and entered into strange and often highly imaginative themes that bordered on the bizarre and extreme. After the last few days of President Trump’s continued hijacking of all available oxygen in the media world, I found myself remembering the legendary series and thinking that we have indeed entered The Twilight Zone. Even a guy with the innovative imagination of Rod Serling would have had…

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Too Little, Too Late, But Still …

There have been some positive signs that perhaps this nation as a whole is sick and tired of the white supremacists and their rhetoric, sick and tired of seeing white people with notions of superiority thinking they have more ‘natural rights’ than others.  It’s far too little, too late, but still … it’s a start.


And it only took five years …

In 2014, New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo choked an unarmed black man, Eric Garner, to death.  It was not the first, nor would it be the last case of a white cop killing an unarmed black man, but it was the case that brought the #BlackLivesMatter movement to the forefront of the public eye.  In almost every one of these cases, the police officers have gotten off scot-free, even kept their jobs.  On Monday, a New York City Commissioner James P. O’Neill made a decision that will, hopefully, set a new precedent, by firing Officer Pantaleo, and stripping him of his pension benefits.

Garner’s crime five years ago was that he was allegedly selling cigarettes outside a convenience store.  For this, he paid with his life.  It is my opinion that Officer Panteleo should have been tried and convicted.  The department had a rule against using the chokehold he used on Mr. Garner, and Garner said, “I can’t breathe”, but still Panteleo didn’t release his hold.  Blatant cruelty.  And yet, despite Mr. Garner’s death having been ruled a homicide, Panteleo was never charged.

As I said, this is a case of too little, too late.  Pateleo should be in prison, but instead he is in his lawyer’s office trying to force the NYPD to reinstate him, his benefits, and pay him back pay for time lost.  And, it took James O’Neill five years to decide to fire him.  When they say the “wheels of justice” turn slowly, they aren’t kidding!  Still, it is a small step in the right direction.


A slippery slope …

The 1st Amendment right to free speech is a slippery slope and has been the cause of much disagreement throughout time.  At what point does free speech cross the line and become punishable?  At what point should speech be silenced?  Some would answer “never”, but most reasonable people agree that there must be limits, but rarely agree to the terms of said ‘limits’.  In this age of social media, the question becomes even more relevant, for there are those who believe that hate speech is protected under the 1st Amendment, and spew their hate all over Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for all the world to see.

Last week, social media outlets Facebook and Instagram suspended the accounts of James Orien Allsup, and Twitter had already suspended his account in late 2017.  James Orien Allsup is a white supremacist who marched with the other white supremacists at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 and whose hate speech can still be seen on YouTube.  There will be some, no doubt, who will cry “Foul!” at the move by Facebook and Instagram, but frankly, I support the move.

I am a staunch advocate for freedom of speech and freedom of the press.  However, in my book there is a line.  When you publicly threaten or incite violence, then you have shirked the responsibility that accompanies those rights.  I say the same about media outlets such as Fox and Breitbart that engage in conspiracy theories that have already led to violence and loss of life.  I applaud Facebook and Instagram, and would urge YouTube to remove this man from their platform as well.


The New York Times is doing an excellent series titled The 1619 Project:

The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.

I will be including some of their works in future posts, but I urge you to check it out for yourselves.  Racism, white supremacy, white nationalism … whatever name you give it … is ugly, and in this country, it is increasing at what I consider to be an alarming rate.  We need to tackle this subject, to take off the window dressing and show it for what it is … arrogant hate.  A friend sent me a meme recently that I think should be made into a poster and mailed to every member of any of the 1,000+ hate groups around the country! racism-for-dummies.jpg

A Basketful of Snippets (The Snarky Kind)

Something caught my eye this morning, blatant racist behaviour by cops – the people we are told to respect and look up to.  But first … there was this by Fox News’ own Tucker Carlson …

tucker-carlson

“Duh … who me?”

“If you were to assemble a list, a hierarchy of concerns, problems this country has, where would white supremacy be on the list? Right up there with Russia probably. It’s actually not a real problem in America. This is a hoax. Just like the Russia hoax, it’s a conspiracy theory used to divide the country and keep a hold on power.”

Now, keeping in mind Mr. Carlson’s claim that white supremacy is naught but a ‘hoax’, a ‘conspiracy theory’, consider the following …

I was incredulous, couldn’t believe what I was reading.  Surely this was a joke, albeit a sick one?  But no … this was no joke.  It happened in Galveston, Texas, last Saturday when police arrested Donald Neely on suspicion of criminal trespassing, though there is no indication that Mr. Neely did anything wrong … seems like he was just the wrong colour, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.  Two white officers, identified only as P. Brosch and A. Smith, were on horseback when they saw Mr. Neely, who is African-American, and decided to arrest him.

The officers both had radios and could have called for a squad car to pick up Mr. Neely.  But they did not do that.  Instead, they put him in handcuffs, behind his back, then attached a rope to the cuffs, re-mounted their horses, and pulled Mr. Neely down the street by the rope.Donald-Neely-arrestA couple of passersby saw this abomination and took pictures and videos.  Needless to say, the community, or at least part of it, was incensed.  Galveston police chief Vernon Hale offered a tepid apology …

“First and foremost, I must apologize to Mr. Neely for this unnecessary embarrassment … I believe our officers showed poor judgment in this instance and could have waited for a transport unit at the location of arrest … my officers did not have any malicious intent at the time of the arrest.”

Poor judgment???  No malicious intent???  If you buy into that one, come see me, for I’ve got a great bridge I’ll sell you cheap.  The officers, as of this writing, have not been disciplined nor terminated.  Anybody else thinking “Jim Crow”?


In other news …

  • You guys remember a few weeks ago when I got banned from Twitter for a day for calling Ann Coulter a ‘bimbo’? Well, guess who’s been banned now?  No, no … not me.  @TeamMitch, Mitch McConnell’s campaign account.  Remember that picture I showed you of the faux tombstones, one with McConnell’s opponent, Amy McGrath’s name on it?  Well, since he posted that picture to his campaign account on Twitter, that account is banned until they agree to take the photo down!  So, perhaps Twitter does have some standards after all.  Now, if they would just ban Trump for all his bluster, ranting and lies …

  • Remember back in July, when Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced her resignation as White House Press Secretary? Trump then replaced her with Stephanie Grisham, who until that time had been Melania Trump’s personal slave spokeswoman, but we have seen nothing of her since then!  Nary a press briefing has she held, not even an impromptu gathering on the White House lawn.  Hmmmm … suspicious?

  • But, speaking of press secretaries, Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley, Grisham’s second-in-command, criticized President Obama, saying that while Trump is trying to “move the country forward”, Obama is taking it “to a dark place that we never want to be and we never want to visit again”. Say WHAT???  Presumably he was referring to Obama’s speech earlier this week where he urged us to reject leaders who stoke fear and hatred and normalize racism, but I have no idea how that is taking us to a dark place.  Seems to me it is Trump who’s taking us to a dark place.

  • BrockwaySpeaking of a dark place … here’s a sample of some ‘great’ behaviour. Curt James Brockway took umbrage, I guess, with a child age 13 who failed to remove his hat at an event at the Mineral County (Montana) Fair on Saturday when the national anthem was played.  The kid wasn’t being obnoxious, he just didn’t remove his hat, which is certainly his prerogative.  But ol’ Curt decided to slam the kid into the ground and the child suffered a concussion and temporal skull fractures.  Oh, and by the way, much of the fair is sponsored by the NRA.  Tell you anything?curt-brockway-assault

  • One last snippet, and this one will have you rolling your eyes and shaking your heads. It involves Trump’s buddy Steve Bannon, so don’t look for logic.  Bannon claims that the El Paso shooting was actually a sign of how ‘great’ Trump’s economy is!  That’s right, folks … if the economy were not so great, all those people wouldn’t have been in Wal-Mart (never mind that people only shop at Wal-Mart when they cannot afford to go elsewhere) and that the shooter wouldn’t have had anybody to shoot.  And as for the democrats, according to Bannon … “What the Democratic candidates are attacking is the Trump miracle.”  Stop shaking your heads now, else you’ll develop a rattle up there … trust me, I’ve had one for a while now.

And on that note, I will leave you to go find a more peaceful blog to read.  Something fun and uplifting.  Might I suggest this one by Gottfried over at Banter Republic … he’s always good for a bit of humour!

Your Tuesday Dose of Snarky Snippets

I wonder if the day will ever come in whatever is left of my lifetime that there won’t be something for me to be snarky or rant about?  I’m thinking not, but I wouldn’t mind … honest I wouldn’t!  But, for today, there is plenty to bring my blood to a boiling point and have me gritting my teeth ‘til they crack.


Creative Obfuscation 101

Some of the republicans have scrambled around and wracked their little brains to come up with some of he most novel excuses for the mass shootings last weekend.  The usual stock ‘reasons’ they offer are mental illness, video games, television, and social media.  But this time, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick came up with a rather unique excuse.  He claims it is because we no longer have mandatory school prayer (I’m still scratching my head over this one).  Perhaps Mr. Patrick has forgotten about the concept of separation of church and state?  Frankly, I find religion to be the cause of much of the violence in the world today, not the antidote.

But, you see, they have to make up excuses, for if they cannot direct the conversation into some other channel, then it is going to the most logical reason for mass shootings … guns.  Or rather, gun laws, of which we have too few.  And they don’t want to talk about gun laws, because … their little buddies over at the NRA who are channeling money into their accounts, will be vewy, vewy angwy.assault-weapons.pngIt rather reminds me of the overweight lady who, rather than blame the fact that she eats too much and exercises too little, blames: hormones, metabolism, marital strife, past pregnancies, and anything else that removes the responsibility from her own self.


Where are your values, Mitchie?

We all know that political campaigns can be pretty ugly.  It seems to me that the ugliest ones are by candidates that have the least to offer, so lacking any viable platform on which to run, they go on the offensive and attack their opponents.  Mitch McConnell, aka #MoscowMitch, crossed the line this weekend, though.

On Saturday evening, just hours after a gunman opened fire in a Wal-Mart in El Paso, leaving 22 people dead and 26 injured, there was a campaign event at a place called Fancy Farm.  One of the “attractions” at the event was this …Mitchie-2Notice the “tombstone” in the front on the right … the one that reads “R.I.P. Amy McGrath”.  Amy McGrath is the woman that is running against Mitch next year.  Amy McGrath is also the first female Marine Corps pilot to fly the F/A-18 on a combat mission. McGrath served for 20 years in the Marine Corps during which time she flew 89 combat missions bombing al Qaeda and the Taliban.  Mitchell McConnell, on the other hand, served exactly five weeks in the Army Reserve in 1967.

At any time and under any circumstances, the faux tombstone with his opponent’s name would be highly inappropriate.  But … the timing here could not have been much worse.  We just saw, for the umpteenth time, how a politician’s incitement can lead to deadly violence, and he pulls this crap?  And, not content to leave it alone, his campaign posted the pic on Twitter, alongside one of a smiling Mitchie, and the tweet is still there … has not been removed.  Every comment I read was negative, calling Mitch out for inciting violence, for disrespect, for inappropriateness.  If you ever wondered whether McConnell has a heart or a conscience, this should answer your question.

Ms. McGrath responded the next day …

“Hours after the El Paso shooting, Mitch McConnell proudly tweeted this photo. I find it so troubling that our politics have become so nasty and personal that the Senate Majority Leader thinks it’s appropriate to use imagery of the death of a political opponent (me) as messaging.”


The judge is pondering …

The judge is Judge Reggie Walton, and what he is pondering is … whether the redactions by the Justice Department in Robert Mueller’s final report fall under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and ought to be released to the public.

Two organizations, BuzzFeed and the nonprofit Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), have filed a lawsuit seeking to remove the black bars covering nearly 1,000 items in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page final report.  While no ruling has yet been handed down, at several points during yesterday’s proceedings, Judge Walton seemed increasingly skeptical of the government’s arguments pressing him to leave the redactions untouched.

Now, it is the opinion of this writer that the only valid reason at this point to have all those redactions would be if releasing them would cause a national security issue.  Frankly, I cannot conceive of a single piece of information in Mueller’s report that would create a genuine national security issue.  The long and short of it is that the redacted portions almost certainly prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Trump and his cronies acted outside the law.  It isn’t a ‘national’ security issue, but rather a ‘Trump’ security issue.

But, before you get excited, let me caution you that if Judge Walton rules for the plaintiffs (BuzzFeed and EPIC), Trump’s lawyers will have an appeal all ready to file, and it will be filed before you can blink your eyes five times.  The next judge may well be more of the opinion that Trump is above the law and that the public has no right to know how many laws he broke on the path to the Oval Office.  Still, there is some hope.


Okay, friends … enough snark for one day, don’t you think?  I leave you with a bit of humour …McConnell.jpg

Ignoring Trump

More than once I have said we need to look behind the curtain to see what the ‘man’ in the Oval Office is doing that we are missing. He spews hateful rhetoric, tweets his ignominious prattle while on the potty each morning, and we spend all our time reacting to and dissecting his words. Meanwhile, behind the scenes …

Despite me saying it, I fall into the trap quite often, react to some horrendous, childish rant of his rather than dig deeper for truth. The smoke and mirrors, the shiny objects, are just too easy sometimes. Our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters has written an excellent piece reminding us all that we need to rise above the mudfest, need not to let ourselves be dragged into the fray, for that is precisely what Trump and his sycophants hope we will do.

Thank you, Jeff, for the timely reminder and for your generous permission to share your words with my readers!

On The Fence Voters

I’m done. Yes, I’m officially done with getting bent out of shape at every racist utterance that comes from this President’s mouth or Twitter feed. How much more evidence do we need that the man is a racist? How many more times will the media fall for this man’s continuing effort to dominate the narrative every single day and distract from the absolute mockery he’s making of our Constitution and democracy? Enough, please.

By no means do I mean to minimize any of the horrific things he’s been saying about specific politicians and other people of note. Whether it’s calling Rep. Elijah Cummings’ district of Baltimore a rat-infested whatever, or telling four Congresswomen of color to go back to where they came from, these are purposeful and hateful comments that deserve condemnation and public ridicule.

But once the condemnation occurs, it’s time to move on. What I’d like to see…

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Don’t Get Complacent …

Fred Hiatt is the editorial page editor of The Washington Post and also contributes a bi-weekly column on Mondays.  This morning’s column, titled Don’t get complacent. Things really are that bad under Trump.”, provides astute observations on where we stand today, and the dangers of becoming inured, of allowing this nightmare to become “the norm”.  In light of the past few weeks of juvenile, racist rage from the one who sits in the Oval Office, I think it is more important than ever to realize just how UN-normal all of this is.

Don’t get complacent. Things really are that bad under Trump.

Fred-HiattBy Fred Hiatt
Editorial page editor
July 28 at 6:42 PM

The economy is humming. We’re not at war (much). So he can’t be that bad, right?

Steadfast NeverTrumpers may find it hard to believe, but I’m hearing that argument more and more lately, as people try to come to terms with the possibility of a second Trump term. It’s the “normalization” we’ve been warned about since Donald Trump’s ascension, but in a different form than we might have expected.

After all, many of the people telling themselves that things aren’t “that bad” insist they are as offended as ever by the racist tweets and sexist taunts. They’d prefer someone more civil in the Oval Office, of course.

But . . . the government, and the world, carry on. He insults our allies, but they remain on our side. He imposes tariffs, but unemployment stays low. He threatens defaults, but the debt ceiling is raised. Maybe, people think, a second term wouldn’t be the end of the world.

I’d argue such complacency is not justified. First, because a second term could be a lot more dangerous than the first. There would be more Trump judges on the courts to validate his lawlessness, no Jim Mattis or (God help us) Jeff Sessions in the Cabinet to curb his authoritarian whims, no worries of voter anger to restrain his bellicosity. A second mandate surely would embolden him; at worst, we could find that his jokes about a third term were no joke.

But complacency is misplaced also because — and here’s where the normalization comes in — things are that bad, even now. If people discount the damage, it’s due to a combination of fatigue and relief: fatigue, because it’s almost impossible to maintain outrage when the outrages are so incessant; and relief, because we are constantly aware that things could be worse.

Take North Korea’s missile launches last week, for example. Congress and the media would be scorching any other president right now for allowing North Korea to continue its nuclear and military buildup unimpeded. But we are so grateful that Trump has not blustered and stumbled into a war — into “fire and fury” — that we bite our tongues.

It’s the same around the world: Our ankle-high expectations for the man keep us from noticing how completely he is meeting those expectations. Our two key allies in East Asia, Japan and South Korea, are at loggerheads; a marginally competent president would be helping to mend fences.

Our most important allies in Europe are spinning apart as Britain plunges toward a disastrous Brexit; a normal president would be helping our friends salvage something workable for the future.

When Ebola emerged in West Africa, the Obama administration mobilized; now Ebola is spinning out of control in Congo, and the United States is absent. A Darfur-scale tragedy has unfolded among the Rohingya in Myanmar, also known as Burma; Trump doesn’t know who they are. A human rights violation of epic scale has taken shape in western China — the cultural genocide of an entire people, with as many as 3 million people in concentration camps — and Trump takes no notice. Journalists are murdered and imprisoned, and Trump sides with their murderers and jailers.

To the world, it is not just Trump taking these positions. It is America. The damage will be long-lasting.

And his ignorance and cynicism reverberate through some of the biggest stories of our time: the confidence of authoritarian strongmen in China, Russia and beyond; their distortion of technology from a liberating force into a malevolent tool of surveillance and suppression; the destructive warming of the climate, which the United States ignores and abets. None of these is easily reversible.

The story is similar, if more familiar, at home. The constant, willful lying; the attacks on the press and on the very idea of truth — these are not harmless. They draw from but also foster a lack of trust that will persist long after his presidency.

So does the racism. So do the ugly attacks on immigrants. So do the contempt for science and the refusal to stand up to foreign attacks on our elections. So do the disparaging of public servants and the casual threats to wield the vast powers of the federal government against perceived political enemies. These things used to be not okay. Now they are okay. There will be no easy return.

Yes, we’ve avoided recession, the nation is (mostly) at peace, the government will not default. Naturally, we are thankful.

But when we need to be thankful for avoiding disaster, we don’t really have so much to be thankful for. Things are that bad. We have a right to expect better.

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Snarky Snippets From The Bouncing Mind

Good Sunday morning, my friends!  I haven’t unleashed my snarky side for several days now, and it’s bubbling over.  So, what better way to start Sunday than with a few snarky snippets?


Election security?

While Mitch McConnell continues to refuse to even allow the Senate to consider election security bills that have passed the House already for fear it would upset the tender feelings of Trump, there are some positive things happening in the area of election security.  Tentatively.

The intelligence community (IC) is picking up slack where the Senate is falling down on the job.  Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats has installed a new czar to oversee election security efforts on a large-scale basis.  His choice is Shelby Pierson, an intelligence veteran.  According to Coats …

“Election security is an enduring challenge and a top priority for the IC. In order to build on our successful approach to the 2018 elections, the IC must properly align its resources to bring the strongest level of support to this critical issue. There is no one more qualified to serve as the very first election threats executive than Shelby Pierson, whose knowledge and experience make her the right person to lead this critical mission.”

It’s good to know that somebody in our federal government ‘has our back’… but wait.  You will note that in the first paragraph, I added “tentatively”.  There’s a reason for that.  See, Donald Trump doesn’t want to talk about election security, doesn’t want to hear about it.  Why?  Because, it was the very lack of adequate election security that enabled him to be placed, albeit not elected, into office.  The proven Russian interference, without which it is highly unlikely he would be sitting in the Oval Office today, is a sore spot, a blow to his ego.

Former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said she was told to keep any efforts at election security “below his level”.  Never mind that when it comes to the security of the nation, his personal feelings ought not to matter … everyone in his administration is so scared shitless of him that they will go to great lengths to hide things from him. trump tantrum

Consider this … earlier this month, it was reported that no less than five people in Trump’s administration said (anonymously, of course) that he is eager to tell Dan Coats to “hit the road, Jack!”  If that should happen, then all bets on election security are off.  This wouldn’t be the first time Coats has butted heads with Trump.  He has been critical of Trump’s relationship (bromance?) with Russia’s Vladimir Putin (who hasn’t?) and he told a Senate panel that North Korea is unlikely to be willing to give up their nuclear weapons, contrary to Trump’s claims and his relationship (another bromance?) with Kim Jong-un.  We now know that Coats was right, Trump was wrong, but that does put Coats in an awkward position.

Speculation is that Trump is considering replacing Coats with Fred Fleitz, former chief of staff to National Security Advisor John Bolton.  Fleitz met with Trump recently, and has made no secret that he would like to scale back the Office of the Director of National Security significantly.  If that happens … there can be no doubt that election security will become the lowest of all priorities, if it doesn’t fall off the bottom of the priority list altogether.


Partisan … straws???

You’ve heard, unless you’ve been living on a desert island without communication for the last few years, about the effort among environmentalists to reduce and eventually cease the use of single-use plastics, right?  Plastic straws are one of the worst culprits, for they are so numerous, they do not decompose or biodegrade, therefore they stay in landfills, or worse yet end up in oceans, and unlike some other plastics, there is a relatively simple solution … good old-fashioned paper straws!  But guess what, folks?

Paper straws are ‘liberal’, read democratic, and therefore plastic straws are republicans!  Who decided this?  Well, none other than Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale.

Parscale

Brad Parscale

“I’m so over paper straws, and I’m sure you are too. Much like most liberal ideas, paper straws don’t work and they fall apart instantly. That’s why we just launched our latest product – Official Trump Straws. Now you can finally be free from liberal paper straws that fall apart within minutes and ruin your drink.”

Um … I remember the 1950s, before the advent of plastic straws, when all we had were paper straws and they worked very well, thank you.  However, if there is anyone reading this who really wants to make sure they are getting bona fide republican straws, you can head on over to the Donald Trump campaign store (yes, there really is such a thing … where do you think people get all those ugly red hats?) and pick up a 10-pack of reusable plastic straws, which are red and emblazoned with “TRUMP” in silver, for a mere $15. trump-straw-2What a deal, eh … $1.50 for one lousy straw that … who could put something in their mouth with that word on it???  Oh, and shipping takes two weeks.  Meanwhile, try explaining to your grandchildren why your use of a plastic straw was more important than their life.  Oh, and one other thing … there is yet a third option … you can pick the cup up, bring it to your lips, tilt it a little bit, and drink without any straw!  What a novel idea, yes?


“We will do our best to go on without him …”

Trump was scheduled to attend the 110th annual national convention of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People) this weekend.  Historically, presidents of both parties have spoken and attended a Q&A session at the annual meeting of the oldest civil rights organization in the United States.  As a candidate in 2016, he declined an invitation to attend.  Trump declined to attend the convention in 2017 … no reason given.  But this year, he had accepted the invitation … until he found out about the Q&A session.

“I very much wanted to go, but we had a date. The date got changed and unfortunately they wanted to do it in the form of a question and answer.”

The date was set far in advance and did not change.  Nor did the format, but he thought he would just give a speech and leave.  In light of his recent racist tirade that is largely dominating the media these days, he was apparently afraid to face questions by a civil rights group.

Wendell Anthony, the NAACP Detroit Branch President, said …

“He blew an opportunity quite frankly, but we will do our best to go on without him.”

Dripping sarcasm … I love it!  He continued …

“There is a format; every candidate has said that he or she would be glad to participate in. It’s beyond us as to why that would be of some discomfort for the president. We are American citizens. We have a right to question our presidents and ask the leader of the free world what our future will be.”

Absolutely.  If Trump wishes to continue playing ‘president’, then he must play by the rules of the game … oh wait … for him, there are no rules, right?  Take heart, however, for intelligent people who know how to speak and have something of importance to say will be there:  Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker, Stacey Abrams, Rashida Talib and Bernie Sanders, to name a few.  Who needs Trump anyway?

The interesting thing is that this wasn’t widely published in the media.  I only saw it on BET’s website and a local Detroit station.  Puzzling.  Muzzled?  Chicken?


Well, that’s your daily dose of snark for this Sunday … now go have some fun, enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Dorothy Thompson, the Journalist Who Warned the World About Adolf Hitler

Have you ever heard of Dorothy Thompson? I hadn’t either until our blogging-buddy Mary posted a link to another blog that she thought relevant to my topic-of-the-moment, Trump’s racism. Turns out that Ms. Thompson was a quite notable journalist during WWII, and had the distinction of being the first U.S. journalist to be expelled from Germany by Hitler! This post is noteworthy for three reasons: 1) it is fascinating and I learned much that I didn’t already know; 2) it is very well-written; 3) parts of it are chilling, as you will see, when compared to the situation in the U.S. today. Please take a minute to read and think about this post. Thank you, Peter, for permission to share this with my readers!

Life Unscripted

I write for fun, but not everyone has that luxury. A great many people in the world write to earn their living and I have always thought that to be a tough way to go: deadlines are a pain, and I can attest to that after publishing a small journal for a few years. There is this challenge to stay relevant and also inspired enough to write every day are the fabric of nightmares and sleepless nights, but some people excel at it.temerity

I was struck over this past weekend by the brazen cowardice of the U.S. Congress. It astounded me that a sitting president would tell elected members of Congress that they should go back to some country they “came from” and that

seehearspeakThe U.S. Congress

Congress would sit by silent as brass monkeys. Yet… that is what happened.

One word that has largely disappeared from our vocabulary is…

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Hey! What Happened To MY Freedom Of Speech???

Well, folks, I suppose it was only a matter of time until I was banned from Twitter, and last night it happened.  I don’t get on Twitter much … once or twice a day when I receive a notification that I have a message or that my work has been re-tweeted.  When I do get on, however, if I see something really annoying by either my representative in Congress, Trump, or somebody else, I am not above replying with a short, snarky tweet of my own.  Well, when I got on yesterday evening to reply to a message from a friend, the first thing I saw was this tweet by Ann Coulter …

“The country has been lost.  However I am determined to go down swinging by ruining soccer for as many people as possible.”

Now, you guys know that I’m not ‘into’ sports, and all I knew about soccer recently was that the U.S. Women’s team had won some big event, and that one of the team’s members is Megan Rapinoe who is a member of the LGBT community.  As I said, I do not follow sports and none of it meant diddly-squat to me.  Until I saw Coulter’s comment which I assumed was in reference to Ms. Rapinoe’s gender identity.  Turns out that is part of it, but there’s more … I’ll get to that in a minute, but I shot off a tweet in response to her comment …

 “My, but you are a stupid, bigoted woman.  An outright Bimbo, by my reckoning.”

Apparently, she took umbrage, for it was less than an hour until I received this email:

Coulter-tweet

I actually had a good chuckle over it.  According to Twitter, if I gave them my phone number and took down the tweet, my account would only be inactive for 12 hours, after which time all would be restored.  Or, if I felt that their decision was unfair, I could appeal and they would review the situation.  I wrote to them and explained that a) I spoke only the truth, b) there was no threat to Ms. Coulter, and c) I did not use any vulgar language, not so much as a single “f-bomb”, which I have seen countless other people do on Twitter.

Twitter wrote back an hour or two later, saying that they had “reviewed my appeal” and concluded that I was still in the wrong and in order to restore my account, I would have to give them my phone number and then remove the tweet.  Now, I will likely do that in a day or two, for I do have Twitter friends, and my posts all go to Twitter where they are often re-tweeted, but I’m leaving the tweet stand for now, for I am a stubborn wench and frankly, I’ve made worse tweets than that to Donald Trump and Warren Davidson, neither of whom attempted to take away my 1st Amendment rights!

Turns out that Coulter’s complaint about the women’s soccer team is homophobic, but it is also a result of the fact that two of the women on the team, the aforementioned Rapinoe and another team member, Ali Krieger, have said that they would not pay a visit to the White House, for the have (understandably) no respect for its occupant.  Apparently, there has been a back-and-forth Twitter battle between Rapinoe and Trump, complete with name-calling.  Surprise, huh?

Rapinoe has a history of civil protest, having taken a knee during the national anthem before a game, shortly after Colin Kaepernick did the same, saying …

“Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties. It’s important to have white people stand in support of people of color on this. We don’t need to be the leading voice, of course, but standing in support of them is something that’s really powerful.”

Though I had never heard of Ms. Rapinoe until last week, I admire her, just as I admire Mr. Kaepernick, and much more than I admire Donald Trump.  No doubt we have not heard the last of the battle between Rapinoe and other team members vs Donald Trump, which is a pathetic statement of our nation and the man who is called “president” by some.

But, I think my right to free speech has been violated by Twitter.  If Ann Coulter can say that “the country has been lost” simply because a gay woman who doesn’t like Trump helped her team win the World’s Cup, and if she can threaten to “ruin soccer for as many people as possible”, why is it wrong for me to say she is stupid and bigoted, both of which are true, and call her a ‘bimbo’, which is a lot nicer than most of what she has called Ms. Rapinoe?

Is ‘freedom of speech’ now limited to only those who support Donald Trump?  Will Facebook or WordPress be next to try to stifle what I have to say?  Ann Coulter has, throughout her career, referred to immigrants as pedophiles, called LGBT people ‘mentally ill’, praised white supremacist Richard Spencer, calling him the white people’s answer to #BlackLivesMatter, and much more.  Her right to say those things is upheld, but my right to call her a bigot and a bimbo is not?  Actor Richard Belzer referred to Coulter as a ‘fascist Barbie doll’ … perhaps I should have tried that term.  She has called the French “a bunch of maggots”, and said that only property owners should be allowed to vote in the U.S.  And this is the woman that Twitter defends?  Something is seriously mucked up in this country.

An Important Message … That Nobody Heard

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

One of life’s unanswered philosophical questions.  Last month, a big tree fell in the forest, and nobody heard, nobody listened.  It was not widely reported in any of the major news outlets, there was no notable discussion in blogdom … it was a warning destined to go unheeded, to die of neglect.

The ‘tree’ was a white paper issued by the Department of Defense titled Russian Strategic Intentions.  It is a 150-page, 25-chapter document that outlines Russia’s aggression, which includes the use of propaganda and disinformation to sway public opinion across Europe, Central Asia, Africa and Latin America, and the U.S.  It assesses Russia’s intentions in an attempt to understand what drives its strategy, outlines a range of malign activities attributed to Russia in regions as diverse as Africa and the Arctic and lays out ways the United States could strengthen its response.

The study addresses what it refers to as Moscow’s “gray zone” activities — the emboldened attempts by Putin’s regime to undermine democratic nations, particularly on Russia’s periphery, using means short of direct military conflict.

“These activities include threatening other states militarily, or compromising their societies, economies, and governments by employing a range of means and methods to include propaganda, disinformation, and cultural, religious, and energy coercion.”

‘Compromising their societies’ and ‘propaganda, disinformation’, does any of this sound familiar?  Does anybody recall that every U.S. intelligence agency, bar none, has confirmed Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, with the intent of securing the election of Donald Trump?  Does anybody recall the Mueller report, a 2-year study that verified Russian interference in the election on behalf of Donald Trump – meddling of which Trump and his campaign were well aware?  Does anybody recall that just recently Trump said if somebody came to him with ‘dirt’ on his opponent, he would accept it?

The paper also raises alarm about what the authors view as a burgeoning anti-American alliance by Russia and communist China, who have traditionally been fierce competitors, but may now see mutual benefit in an alliance against the U.S. and its allies.

Now why was a report with such important information, such relevant conclusions largely ignored?  Why didn’t it receive headline status at The Washington Post and the New York Times?  Perhaps only because the average reader is bored with that which he doesn’t believe has a direct and immediate impact on his own life.  But, one has to wonder if reader apathy/ignorance was the only reason, or if there was a more sinister attempt to ‘bury’ the story?  Yes, I understand that I may be seeing shadows where there are none, but in the current climate, can you blame me?

The ramifications of this report are many, but two stand out:

  • The U.S. is ripe for the pickings, as they say, in our 2020 elections. The Russians will use every toy in their large toybox, pass up no opportunity to ensure that Trump stays in office for another four years.  Thus far, thanks to the ignorance of Trump supporters and the malevolence of Mitch McConnell and others in Congress, we are leaving ourselves wide open for Russian interference.
  • The U.S. was once a trusted ally, well-respected and sometimes even liked, among nations in the Western world. We are rapidly losing that reputation under the current administration, and it is disturbing that Trump & Co pander to the strongarm leaders like Putin, Kim, Duterte and Bolsonaro, while denigrating the leadership of our allies.  We once accepted responsibility for supporting and aiding our allies, but that has rapidly changed under the present administration, and we can no longer be counted on, no longer trusted.

I found it deeply troubling that last month while Trump was in Osaka for the G20 summit, he joked with Putin, saying, “Don’t meddle in the election, president”, with a wink-wink and a grin.  Putin chuckled.  This is no laughing matter, folks.  Without Putin’s interference three years ago, we would now have a wise, intelligent President Hillary Clinton.  Without Putin’s interference next year, we might once again return to a position of respect in the international community, but if we continue to ignore Russia’s influence, the world will be left open to the equivalent of Soviet dominance.

Putin has long worked toward restoring a Soviet-style empire, and if his power, his theft of democratic processes is allowed to continue unchecked, the world becomes a lot less safe.  We cannot afford to ignore this, cannot be so apathetic to it that our free press no longer even bothers to report such things.  The world is changing, and Putin is perfectly positioned to take advantage of those changes to put much of the new world order under his domination. Did you ever ask yourself why Putin went out of his way to put Trump in office?  Because, in the absence of any great intelligence or understanding of world affairs by Trump, Putin knew he could control Trump like a puppet and enlist his assistance in his grand plan.

We must wake up, we must see what’s happening and make our opinions known.  We must hold the free press accountable to tell us all the news, else they may someday cease to be the free press, just as we may someday cease to be free to voice our opinion.  Free speech is rather like many other things:  use it or lose it.