A New Batch … Hot Off The Press!

Some days I think I have turned into a huge cynic, a shrew, and I remonstrate with myself about it.  Now, I’ve told you before about these three-way conversations with Me, Myself, and I, right?  Well, in this particular conversation. Myself convinced Me that it wasn’t my fault I was turning into an untrusting, cynical human being, and I thanked Myself, while Me felt a bit hurt and left out.  Confused yet?  Welcome to my mind!  Anyway … today I am feeling like a bit of mockery at the expense of Trump & Co., for they deserve it, and it makes me happy.  So … snarky snippets it is!


And the award goes to …

Donald Trump has mentioned a few times that he believes he will be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.  It galls him to no end that his nemesis, President Obama, earned the award, and he has not a snowball’s chance.  However, there is one person in our government today who is being honoured with a prestigious award.  Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, is to be awarded the 2019 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. Nancy-PelosiCaroline Kennedy, the daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy, said in a statement Sunday that Ms. Pelosi is “the most important woman in American political history.” Pelosi is being honored because of her efforts to pass former President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care law and for helping Democrats reclaim control of the U.S. House during last year’s elections.  Kennedy said Pelosi “leads with strength, integrity and grace under pressure.”

The award will be presented to Pelosi on May 19 during a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.  I smile thinking of what Trump must have said when he first heard this news.  😊

trump tantrum


And speaking of awards …

The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, founded in 2014, advocates for the safety of journalists and the release of Americans held hostage abroad.  Each year at its annual dinner, the foundation issues a “hostage freedom award” to someone for “courageous work for hostage recovery, press freedom, and humanitarian efforts”.  This year, the award was initially planned to go to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, but the foundation changed its mind because of what it felt was an inadequate response by the administration to the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Pompeo did not take the loss of the award with good grace, however.

“I regret that there was pressure applied by the media for that award to be withdrawn.”

Ultra-conservative Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen did not miss an opportunity to accuse and abuse the media, saying that the award was rescinded only because “media partners’ promised to boycott the event if Pompeo got the award”.

If you can’t somehow blame the democrats, then blame the media, eh?  However, the foundation published a “Letter to the Editor” of The Washington Post on Friday …

“The decision with respect to the James W. Foley Hostage Advocate award was mischaracterized in Marc A. Thiessen’s April 4 column … While it is accurate that our foundation intended to present our hostage freedom award to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and we extended the invitation to him on Nov. 19, 2018, we ultimately decided we could not present the award as planned because of the dramatic change in circumstances when the Trump administration did not press for genuine accountability from the Saudi government for the brutal murder of Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi. We communicated the reason for this decision to the secretary’s team on Jan. 11.

Our decision had nothing to do with whether we received media pressure. In addition to advocating for the safe return of U.S. hostages abroad, the protection of free speech and promotion of journalists’ safety are key pillars of our foundation, and this award would have been in conflict with that key principle.”

Simple, straightforward, and honest, but Pompeo exhibits the same character flaw that his boss does … he is a sore loser.  Suck it up, Mike.


Even dumber than Kellyanne …

Donald Trump has a ‘campaign press secretary’.  I had never seen her until yesterday when she swooped across my radar.  As I read the headline, I thought … this one is even dumber than Kellyanne!  And that, folks, is a tough act to follow!

Her name is Kayleigh McEnany and she is actually just about to become 31 years of age, though I wouldn’t have guessed it based on what I’ve seen so far.  I think you can see, even before I go any further, why Trump chose her for his campaign press secretary.

She even looks a bit like Kellyanne … that is, before Kellyanne aged 40 years in a month from having to go behind her boss and pick up his messes. McEnany-3But to the point.  McEnany has pulled some dumber-than-dirt moments in the past year or so, but this one takes the cake.  Yesterday, following the lead of Trump and Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, McEnany claimed that Trump should not be forced to release his tax returns to Congress.  She said that Congress doesn’t have a legitimate reason to ask for them.  (Forgive her, but she’s likely never heard of the word ‘ethics’ before).  Her reasoning?  Because Congress isn’t asking for the tax returns of other presidents.  Let that one sink in just a minute, folks.

“Ironically, the only person whose tax returns they’ve asked for — the only president — is Trump. So it’s a sham reasoning.”

Oh, Kayleigh … please … do go back to school!  I hear they offer GED courses at most community colleges?  You’re definitely not ready for this job!

McEnany-4

Wow!  Really???

Now, as we all know, every other president starting with Nixon has released their tax returns voluntarily, so Congress never had a need to demand them.  And even if that weren’t the case … none of those other guys are president today!

President Barack Obama released his tax returns for every year between 2000 and 2015. President George W. Bush released his returns for 2000 through 2007. President Bill Clinton made public his returns from 1992 to 1999 (and then his wife, 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton released their returns from 2000 to 2016).  And Trump?  Not. One. Single. Year.

If you ask me, Trump is down to dredging the bottom of the barrel to find people willing to work in the chaos that defines the current administration.


And on that note, I shall go see what other mischief I can dig up.

They Just Keep Coming … Snarky Snippets

While I’ve always been known for having a quick comeback, and rarely at a loss for words, sometimes snarky, acerbic words, I have never in all my life had as much cynicism and snarkiness bubbling from my being as I do these days!  I hope you aren’t tiring yet of snarky snippets, for they just keep rolling right off my fingertips!  Whatever will I do if things ever return to a semi-normal state in this world?sarcasm-quote-1


Surely you jest!

This morning, when I opened The Washington Post’s website, the first headline I saw was this:

With social program fights, some in GOP fear being seen as the party of the 1 percent

And I darn near choked on my coffee!  “Seen as the party of the 1 percent”?  No, they are the party of the 1%!

“A spate of policy moves in recent weeks by Republican lawmakers and Trump administration officials has driven the party’s agenda hard to the right, giving new fodder to Democratic presidential candidates eager to shift the national debate to such issues as health care and jobs ahead of the 2020 election.

The administration’s budget released this month, for example, includes massive rollbacks of programs including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security Disability Insurance, as well as cuts to the Special Olympics, Meals on Wheels, and programs related to autism and other developmental disabilities.

The policy blitz reflects the deeply conservative agenda at the core of Trump’s administration. It is led by many influential aides and appointees who are unflinching ideologues, even as Trump prefers to call himself a “nationalist” or a businessman with “common sense.”

Coupled with fallout from the 35-day government shutdown that ended in January and a GOP tax plan that delivered major benefits to the wealthy, Republicans once again find themselves on the defensive — fending off Democrats who say they’re not just the party of Trump but also of the rich and powerful.”

class-systemThus far, ever since 2010, I have not seen so much as an ounce of compassion for those who are, shall we say, less than wealthy, from the Republican Party.  I think that what Bill O’Reilly said after the Las Vegas massacre speaks their motto best:  “This is the price of freedom.” No, republicans, this is the price for letting a bunch of greedy, wealthy old men run the country.


Who does he think he is???

Did you hear that Trump wants The Washington Post and the New York Times to have their Pulitzer prizes rescinded?  Why?  Because the joint prize was awarded for their coverage of the Mueller investigation.  Ahem. Who does he think he is and in what country does he think he is living?  Would one of his staff please slap his face a few times and wake him up?

“So funny that The New York Times & The Washington Post got a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage (100% NEGATIVE and FAKE!) of Collusion with Russia – And there was No Collusion! So, they were either duped or corrupt? In any event, their prizes should be taken away by the Committee!”

fascism.jpgThe New York Times’ communications team tweeted: “We’re proud of our Pulitzer-prize winning reporting on Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. Every @nytimes article cited has proven accurate.”

Don Junior re-tweeted Trump’s tweet … of course … he is naught but a parrot.


NEVER another Trump in the White House!!!

Kushner IncSpeaking of Junior … a new book was published two weeks ago by British-born author Vicky Ward, titled Kushner, Inc., about Jared and Ivanka’s “rise to power”.  I have not read the book, nor am I likely to, but one thing I found interesting in the synopsis I read is that Junior and Ivanka are in a bit of a dispute … over which will be the next Trump in the White House.  I was horrified!  One Trump in the White House has been one too many!  NEVER AGAIN!!! 

According to the summary of the book …

“Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are the self-styled Prince and Princess of America. Their swift, gilded rise to extraordinary power in Donald Trump’s White House is unprecedented and dangerous. In Kushner, Inc., investigative journalist Vicky Ward digs beneath the myth the couple has created, depicting themselves as the voices of reason in an otherwise crazy presidency, and reveals that Jared and Ivanka are not just the President’s chief enablers: they, like him, appear disdainful of rules, of laws, and of ethics. They are entitled inheritors of the worst kind; their combination of ignorance, arrogance, and an insatiable lust for power has caused havoc all over the world, and may threaten the democracy of the United States.jared-ivankaWard follows their trajectory from New Jersey and New York City to the White House, where the couple’s many forays into policy-making and national security have mocked long-standing U.S. policy and protocol. They have pursued an agenda that could increase their wealth while their actions have mostly gone unchecked. In Kushner, Inc., Ward holds Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump accountable: she unveils the couple’s self-serving transactional motivations and how those have propelled them into the highest levels of the US government where no one, the President included, has been able to stop them.”

Go figure.


Betsy, Betsy, Betsy … 🙄

Ms. DeVos may have been thrown under the bus regarding her budget line that would have de-funded the Special Olympics, but that doesn’t stop her from coming up with still more really ridiculous ideas.  The latest?  She has decided, contrary to decades of study and data, that a higher student-to-teacher ratio (ie., larger classes, fewer teachers) is actually better for students.  But then, remember, this is the same woman who long ago advocated guns in classrooms in case of a bear attack!

“There is no evidence that the Federal taxpayer investments in existing professional development programs or class-size reduction have meaningfully improved student outcomes. In fact, students may be better served by being in larger classes, if by hiring fewer teachers, a district or state can better compensate those who have demonstrated high ability and outstanding results.”

When asked where she got that information, DeVos was unable to cite any research or study.  Take a look for yourself

And THIS is the Secretary of Education???  Seriously???  Oh my aching head.


Okay folks, I’ve taken up enough of your weekend, so I now return you to your regularly scheduled … or preferably spontaneous … weekend activities!  Have fun!

Deep Sighs From Deep Within …

Filled with angst, I share with you today another version (what is this, version XXMVII?) of Snarky Snippets.  Deep breaths … in … out … in … out …


You know how, if you tell a child not to do something, he/she will do it or die trying? (I know this because I was once that child!)  It seems that such stubbornness is not limited to children, for humans around the globe are guilty of the same.

There has been no dearth of information about how CO2 emissions are causing damage to the atmosphere that will ultimately be fatal to the human race.  Humans have been advised, on a large scale in every nation on the globe, to cut back on energy use, and that the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas are among the largest offenders, putting more CO2 into the atmosphere, when renewable energy sources are more efficient, less toxic, and ultimately less costly.  But have we listened?  Apparently not!

The International Energy Agency released a report yesterday saying that energy demand around the world grew by 2.3 percent over the past year, marking the most rapid increase in a decade.WAKE UP PEOPLETo meet the increased demand, the report continues, some nations did, in fact, turn to renewables such as water, wind and solar energy.  Other nations, however, responded with increased use of fossil fuels, which satisfied nearly 70 percent of the skyrocketing electricity demand.  As a result, greenhouse-gas emissions from the use of energy — by far their largest source — surged in 2018, reaching a record high of 33.1 billion tons. Emissions showed 1.7 percent growth, well above the average since 2010.

Even as renewable energy rapidly expands, many countries — including the United States and China — are nevertheless still turning to fossil fuels to satisfy ever-growing energy demand.fossil-fuels

Way to go United States and China!  Why not just sign our death warrant?

Michael Mehling, deputy director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, described Monday’s findings:

“To me, all this reflects the fact that climate policies around the globe, despite some limited pockets of progress, remain woefully inadequate. They’re not even robust enough to offset the increased emissions from economic expansion, especially in the developing world, let alone to spur decarbonization at levels commensurate with the temperature stabilization goals we’ve committed to under the Paris Agreement.”

Yo, Republicans … want to pat your ‘hero’ on the back and say, ‘Way to go, Prez’?


In yet another effort to quash freedom of the press, the jerk-in-chief has urged major news networks to not allow on their shows several people, including Democratic lawmakers, who have been critical of him.  WHOA … STOP THE PRESSES!  Not even the president, as if we had one, has the right to dictate to the news media what of who they can or cannot cover!

Tim Murtaugh, director of communications for Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, called on the networks to refuse six commentators:

  • Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut
  • Representative Adam Schiff of California
  • Representative Jerry Nadler of New York
  • Representative Eric Swalwell of California
  • Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez
  • Former CIA Director John Brennan

Why?  Because they, as well as millions of others of us, have criticized Trump and stated they (we) believe Trump did conspire with the Russians to sway the 2016 presidential election.  THIS is illegal.  It goes against the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.  I believe Trump conspired … I KNOW he did … so, come on, Murtaugh … I dare you to try to stifle me!

What a ‘fearless leader’ Trump is to be so scared of a little bit of criticism that he would willingly violate the very Constitution he took an oath to uphold!  Look how much criticism President Obama had to contend with, but never once … NOT ONE TIME … did he suggest stifling the freedom of the press!Obama-free-press-quote


Lastly (bet you’re glad, aren’t you?), you don’t hear much from or about ol’ Alex Jones lately, do you?  It could be because he’s been tied up in court a lot these days in the suit brought by Six families of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.  Or, it could be because he has been banned by Twitter, Apple, YouTube, and Facebook.  Personally, I find it like a breath of fresh air not to see his ugly mug and hear his ranting conspiracy theories all over the ‘net.

But apparently, he still does a radio show … or internet show … does anybody still watch this crap?  Anyway, yesterday he began his show by saying ‘traitors’ should be executed, and defining traitors as, I gather, anybody brave enough to stand up to, or disagree with, Donald Trump.  Okay, typical fare for the Jones-inator, yes?  But in the background, while he was spluttering his message of hate, he was playing a video of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow in the background.  Maddow took it all in good spirits …

Maddow

Y’know, Alex, your brand of ‘humour’ went out in the 1930s.  It’s old, Alex.  Take your retirement package and go live on an island somewhere, please?


Okay, folks, that’s all I’ve got for tonight.  You may have noticed that I haven’t written yet about the Mueller report, William Barr’s brief summary, or the right-wing street dances.  I will.  Give me a moment, please.  If I had written on Sunday or Monday what I thought, I would be sitting in a jail cell now.  I need to take just a few more deep breaths, let the hand pull me a bit more out of the rabbit hole, then you will hear my take.  Meanwhile, both Robert Vella and Jeff over at On The Fence Voters have written excellent posts on the topic.

Still More Snarky Snippets …

Will there ever come a day that I can read a news story and not want to throw something?  I wonder.  I had a greater plan for today, but as you may have noticed, my plans often go awry.  Today, I slept too late to finish the post I started last night, so instead, I bring you more snarky snippets …


Abandoning ship?

Donna-BrazileDonna Brazile has long been associated with the fight for liberal causes.  And yet, this week Ms. Brazile joined none other than state television network, Fox ‘News’.  Why?  Brazile is far above the likes of Jeanine Pirro or Ann Coulter.  I first saw Ms. Brazile on This Week with George Stephanopoulos many, many years ago, and she impressed me with her intelligence, knowledge, her ability to speak well on nearly any topic and the warmth she projected.  So why would she align herself with a network known for its extremely right-leaning views, and outright conspiracy theories?

“I know I’m going to get criticized by my friends in the progressive movement for being on Fox News. My response is that, if we learned anything from the 2016 election, it is that we can’t have a country where we don’t talk to those who disagree with our political views. You can be darn sure that I’m still going to be me on Fox News.”

Hmmm … that almost makes sense.  We do have to talk to each other, to try to understand those on the “other side” of the aisle.  Perhaps this should be looked upon as an opportunity for Trump’s supporters to actually hear a reasoned voice, a logical opinion for a change.  I simply have no respect for Fox at this point, and do not trust them or their motives.  I will reserve judgment until we see the results.  Will Fox allow Ms. Brazile to “still be me”?  I have my doubts, but time will tell.


Score one for Planet Earth!

Judge-Rudolph-Contreras.jpgThumbs up for Judge Rudolph Contreras of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia who ruled against the Trump administration and in favour of the environment.  Judge Contreras concluded that the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) “did not sufficiently consider climate change” when making decisions to auction off federal land in Wyoming to oil and gas drilling. The judge temporarily blocked drilling on roughly 300,000 acres of land in the state.

While the judge did not void the leases, what his decision does is to force the BLM to perform environmental impact studies on hundreds of projects currently under way in Wyoming.

The Interior Department began to take into account the climate impacts of federal oil, gas and coal leasing toward the end of President Obama’s second term, but Trump jettisoned those plans almost immediately after taking office.

No doubt Judge Contreras’ ruling will be appealed and will work its way up the judicial ladder, but it is a start … a step in the right direction.


Two peas in a pod …

two-peas-in-a-pod.pngYesterday, Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, visited Donald Trump in the White House.  Bolsonaro had nothing but the highest praise for our Idiot-in-Chief:

“It gives me great pleasure to be here in the United States, to take part in this visit, after decades on end of anti-U.S. presidents in Brazil. We will certainly work toward the benefit of our two nations. Just as [Trump] wants to have a ‘great’ America, I…also want to make sure we have a great Brazil. We have a great deal in common. I have been highly criticized because of this but I will not, of course, deny what I do think. … I’m willing to open my heart up to him and do whatever is to the benefit of both the Brazilian and the Americans.”

Pity the poor people of Brazil!  I cannot help but wonder if Bolsonaro’s election was bought and paid for by Putin, just as Trump’s was.

Bolsonaro-Trump.jpg

Two peas in a pod — Bolsonaro & Trump

Since Bolsonaro took office, police in Rio de Janeiro have averaged more than three killings a day, and residents have accused the police of brutality, including waging unauthorized sniper campaigns and firing indiscriminately from a helicopter.

Bolsonaro’s embrace of fiery populist rhetoric has also frequently boiled over to galvanize supporters into acts of violence, specifically targeted at opposition supporters and the media.  Sound familiar?  During the Brazilian election last November, the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism documented more than 140 cases of violence against reporters, mostly by Bolsonaro supporters.  Sound familiar?

On Monday night, Bolsonaro appeared on Fox ‘News’, and said …

“The vast majority of potential immigrants do not have good intentions.”

Sound familiar?

“Brazil and the United States stand side-by-side in their efforts to ensure liberties in respect to traditional family lifestyle, respect to God, our creator against gender ideology or politically correct attitude and against fake news.”

Sound familiar?  Pity the people of Brazil … and we of the United States.


And that, folks, is a wrap.  Have a great rest of the day!

Be Prepared …

I have long thought, and likely said it here once or twice, that Trump is a loose cannon, his behaviours seeming to become increasingly strange and uncontrolled when he senses he is threatened.  His tweets, never exactly intellectual, become erratic when a new indictment is handed down by Robert Mueller’s team, or when he is called out on one of his many daily lies, or when his boot-lickers don’t behave quite as he wants them to.  This is one of the reasons that, while I would love to see him thrown off his royal perch, evicted from the Oval Office, I cannot support a move toward impeachment at this time, for I suspect he would become even more deranged and call for his base to take to the streets with their AR-15s in hand.  Now, I am a nobody and have no basis for my opinion other than observation, but I’ve run across somebody who shares my opinion, somebody who is certainly qualified to make this statement.  That somebody is Robert Reich, whose words I have shared here before, and today I do so again.

From The Guardian, 16 March 2019 …

Trump is cornered, with violence on his mind. We must be on red alert

Robert Reich

What does a megalomaniacal president of the United States do when he’s cornered? We’ll soon find out.

House Democrats are beginning a series of investigations and hearings about Donald Trump. Senate Republicans have begun to desert him. Twelve defected on the wall. Seven refused to back Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen.

Almost all have gone on record that they want Robert Mueller’s report made public. That report, not incidentally, appears imminent.

Trump cannot abide losing. His ego can’t contain humiliation. He is incapable of shame.

So what does a cornered Trump do? For starters, he raises the specter of violence against his political opponents.

In an interview with Breitbart News published on Wednesday, Trump noted: “I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough – until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.”

In case you missed it, “they” are Trump’s political opponents, including House Democrats and the mainstream media. And the “certain point” could be impeachment but is more likely to be reached if the House investigations reveal crimes Trump committed both before and after he became president.

“I actually think that the people on the right are tougher,” Trump warned in the same interview. “But the left plays it cuter and tougher. Like with all the nonsense that they do in Congress … with all this investigations – that’s all they want to do is – you know, they do things that are nasty.”

Here we have it, in a nutshell. In Trump’s mind, congressional investigations that could cause him shame and humiliation, and quite possibly result in a prison sentence, will be countered by forces loyal to him: the police, the military, and vigilante groups like Bikers for Trump.

To put it another way, the work of a democratically elected Congress will be met by Trump loyalists who, he asserts, are “tougher” because they have brute force on their side.

It is impossible to know what bizarre scenario is playing out in Trump’s head. But another hint came on Friday, when, in the wake of the horrific shootings at two mosques in New Zealand, Trump told reporters he didn’t believe white nationalism was on the rise.

“I don’t really,” he said. “I think it’s a small group of people.”

As usual, the facts are otherwise. The number of hate groups in the US increased 7% last year, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Hate crime reports increased 17%, according to the FBI.

Recall that 11 people were murdered at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue on 27 October, at the hands of a white supremacist. A few days earlier, a white supremacist murdered two black people at a grocery store in Jeffersontown, Kentucky.

It is hardly the first time Trump has played down white nationalism, or signaled his support for those who might use violence on his behalf.

At a Las Vegas rally during the 2016 campaign he said he’d like to punch a protester in the face; at another event encouraged his supporters to “knock the crap” out of any protester making trouble.

“I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees,” he said.

But as Trump becomes ever more entrapped in the web of his own misdeeds, his threats are becoming more ominous.

At a rally for Missouri Senate candidate Josh Hawley in September, Trump said his opponents “were lucky that we’re peaceful”. He continued: “Law enforcement, military, construction workers, Bikers for Trump … They travel all over the country … They’ve been great.” But, he warned, “these are tough people … they’re peaceful people, and antifa and all, they’d better hope they stay that way.”

In February, the White House Correspondents’ Association called on Trump to make it “absolutely clear to his supporters that violence against reporters is unacceptable”. To date, he has not.

Meanwhile, Steve Bannon, another of Trump’s bottom feeders, predicted that “2019 is going to be the most vitriolic year in American politics since the civil war”.

Throughout his campaign and presidency, Trump has given cover to some of the most vile bigots in America. As he grows more desperate, he is giving them encouragement.

It is our job – and the job of all senators and representatives in Congress, regardless of party, and of military leaders – to condemn hatred and violence in all its forms, even when the president of the United States makes excuses for it.

And it is up to all of us to reaffirm our commitment to democracy, even when the president of the United States threatens to unleash the military and vigilantes against it.

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century.

Darkness

Well, folks, it is finally here, the day we had all hoped would give us our lives back, Wednesday, 20 January 2021.  Inauguration Day.  Or what would have been inauguration day.  Instead, it’s just another day of life in a nearly four million square mile prison.

Remember how excited we were a year ago?  Or even a few short months ago?  It was an election year, Trump’s base had dwindled to a scant 30% or so, and all the polls were predicting a huge win for the democratic team of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.  For the first time since Barack Obama left office the majority of us were once again hopeful.  Hopeful that the United States would re-join the Paris Climate Agreement, would re-implement regulations on the coal, oil, gas, auto and other industries to cut way back on carbon emissions.  We would Tear Down That Wall that was built without our consent or advice last year.  We had hope that our voices would once again be heard and count for something.

Then came that fateful Friday, November 1st 2020 … just four short days before the election.  I remember waking to see the blue light flashing on my phone, reaching for glasses and phone, nearly knocking the lamp off the night table in the process.  I immediately knew something terrible had happened, for there were “Breaking News!” updates … no less than five of them … from WaPo, NYT, Reuters, The Guardian, and my local news station.

“Breaking News!  Donald Trump has declared a State of National Emergency, claiming that North Korea is planning to launch nuclear missiles aimed at the United States.” 

My heart stopped, but not because I was afraid of North Korea lobbing nukes at us.  Heck, they couldn’t hit their target if they tried, and although tensions had been on the rise between our two countries, there had been nothing to indicate this level of conflict. In fact, my best guess is that the tensions were manufactured by Trump and Kim Jong-un. No, I was afraid for another reason.  I knew.  I just knew that the next move, or the one after that, would be to ‘postpone’ or cancel next week’s elections.  Trump, after all, studied under the best … Putin and Erdoğan.

And then, sure enough, like clockwork on Monday morning, the day before what would have been election day, more breaking news …

“Breaking News!  Donald Trump has announced that tomorrow’s elections will be postponed indefinitely due to the ongoing threat of war by North Korea.  Stay tuned …”

And a few hours later, this …

“Breaking News!  There has been an unsubsta …

Then nothing.  I well remember trying to log onto The Washington Post … nothing but a little circle twirling round and round, and finally … “This site cannot be reached at this time – please try again later.”  The New York Times … same thing.  I tried BBC, Reuters and about ten other news sites … nothing. I stepped outside … the world looked normal … no tanks in the street, no sound of military jets overhead, no big mushroom clouds on the horizon.  But the world was not normal and never would be again.Democracy dies in darknessI paced.  I texted my daughter … no reply.  I tried to call her … no answer.  I simply had to know what was happening!  I tried Facebook … I was able to log on, and everything appeared normal, but there were no recent posts by any of my friends, and when I tried to use Messenger to get a message to one of my friends in the UK, a message popped up saying “This service is temporarily unavailable.”

In the two-and-a-half months since that fateful day, we have been largely isolated from any credible news.  I am occasionally able to receive worried emails from friends in the UK, Australia and Canada telling me what little they know, but those messages are few and far between, and they bring no hope – only more despair.  Life goes on.  I clean house, cook, and most of all I’ve kept writing.  The grocery stores and shopping malls are still open, and one could almost believe that this is all a figment of my imagination.  People seem to go on about their daily business without even noticing.  Perhaps I appear that way too.

I have written every day, although WordPress was shut down in early November, so my words are silent cries.  Today would have seen the inauguration of President Joe Biden had our republic been allowed to survive the reign of Donald Trump.  I can no longer live in this nation, a nation where we are no longer free people.  I am leaving my writings from the past months in the hands of my daughter, in hopes that someday she can find a way to send them to a friend across the pond who will know what to do with them.  Rest in Peace, United States of America.

United States of America, July 4, 1776 – November 5, 2020liberty cries


Note to readers:  The above is, I hope, a work of fiction, a figment of my over-active mind.  Let’s all do whatever we can to keep it a work of fiction and never let this become our reality.

Don’t Look Now, But …

It is the job of the free press to keep the people of this nation informed.  In order to do so, they must be given access to our government, they must be allowed to ask questions and expect to receive honest answers.  Yesterday, that freedom was cut short by Donald Trump, the bully-in-chief.  It would be a mistake to let this slide, for it is not the first time, nor is it likely to be the last, that Trump has curtailed the freedom of the press.

It all began with a photo op with Trump and Kim Jong-un when a reporter for The Associated Press, Jonathan Lemire, asked Trump to comment on the congressional testimony of Mr. Trump’s former lawyer, Michael D. Cohen.  Another reporter, Jeff Mason of Reuters, had asked Trump a question about his commitment to de-nuclearization.  Note that this is common practice and every president in modern history has submitted to such questions.  But Donald Trump took umbrage.

As a result, mouthpiece Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that reporters from Reuters, Associated Press, Bloomberg News and the Los Angeles Times would not be allowed to attend the dinner with Trump and Kim.  Sanders said that only photographers and television-camera operators would be allowed in … in other words, the American public would be allowed to see, but not hear.  Lauren Easton, spokeswoman for the Associated Press objected …

“The Associated Press decries such efforts by the White House to restrict access to the president. It is critically important that any president uphold American press freedom standards, not only at home but especially while abroad.”

Trump eventually allowed one reporter in … a reporter from The Wall Street Journal, owned by Trump’s good buddy Rupert Murdoch.  Whoopee.  Olivier Knox, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, called foul …

“This summit provides an opportunity for the American presidency to display its strength by facing vigorous questioning from a free and independent news media, not telegraph weakness by retreating behind arbitrary last-minute restrictions on coverage.”

Methinks the American presidency has no strength to display, as became obvious when the summit became a bust and Trump flew home with his tail tucked between his legs, for he refused to compromise.  But that is a story for another time, as today the more important story is this one, the curtailment of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment by Donald Trump.

In recent months, the White House has sharply reduced the number of press briefings it gives and has cracked down on reporters who call out questions during the president’s public appearances. Reporters have publicly and privately been warned by White House aides that it is inappropriate to ask Trump questions in that context.  No, Sarah … No, Donald … it is NOT inappropriate!  There has been so much secrecy, so many blatant lies told to We the People, that reporters must work twice as hard to dig a rare gem of truth from this administration.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads …

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Denying access to an important … nay, crucial … summit meeting is an abridgement of the right to freedom of the press.  Hand-picking reporters who will be allowed to attend that aforementioned meeting is an abridgement of the right to freedom of the press.  Donald Trump and his mouthpiece Sarah Huckabee Sanders have stomped on our right to know what our government is doing.  We cannot … we simply cannot ignore this!

This is a clear-cut case of retribution and revenge taken on reporters for asking legitimate questions of the ‘man’ who is tasked with leading the nation.  Asking those questions was not harassment, but rather an attempt to get answers that We the People need, want and deserve.  Throughout history, the only presidents who have attempted to curtail the right of a free press have been those who had something to hide, such as Richard Nixon who, in 1971 attempted to prevent the New York Times and Washington Post from publishing materials belonging to a classified Defense Department study regarding the history of United States activities in Vietnam.  The Supreme Court, by the way, ruled against the government and in favour of the free press in that case of New York Times v. United States.

To wrap it up, I direct your attention to the 2018 World Press Freedom Index.  A brief excerpt …

“More and more democratically-elected leaders no longer see the media as part of democracy’s essential underpinning, but as an adversary to which they openly display their aversion. The United States, the country of the First Amendment, has fallen again in the Index under Donald Trump, this time two places to 45th. A media-bashing enthusiast, Trump has referred to reporters “enemies of the people,” the term once used by Joseph Stalin.”

Need I say more?

An Open Letter From Adam Schiff

Yesterday, U.S. Representative Adam Schiff of California published an open letter in The Washington Post to his republican colleagues.  I am sharing this letter, for in it Mr. Schiff makes a number of very valid and valuable points that the republicans in Congress need to hear, and not just from Mr. Schiff, but also from We the People.  I have sent a copy of his letter with my own plea to the republicans who represent my state/district and with a rather stern warning that if they fail to step up to the plate, I will do everything in my power to unseat them next year.

Adam Schiff: An open letter to my Republican colleagues

By Adam B. Schiff February 21 at 6:06 PM
Adam B. Schiff, a Democrat, represents California’s 28th Congressional District in the House and is chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

This is a moment of great peril for our democracy. Our country is deeply divided. Our national discourse has become coarse, indeed, poisonous. Disunity and dysfunction have paralyzed Congress.

And while our attention is focused inward, the world spins on, new authoritarian regimes are born, old rivals spread their pernicious ideologies, and the space for freedom-loving peoples begins to contract violently. At last week’s Munich Security Conference, the prevailing sentiment among our closest allies is that the United States can no longer be counted on to champion liberal democracy or defend the world order we built.

For the past two years, we have examined Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and its attempts to influence the 2018 midterms. Moscow’s effort to undermine our democracy was spectacularly successful in inflaming racial, ethnic and other divides in our society and turning American against American.

But the attack on our democracy had its limits. Russian President Vladimir Putin could not lead us to distrust our own intelligence agencies or the FBI. He could not cause us to view our own free press as an enemy of the people. He could not undermine the independence of the Justice Department or denigrate judges. Only we could do that to ourselves. Although many forces have contributed to the decline in public confidence in our institutions, one force stands out as an accelerant, like gas on a fire. And try as some of us might to avoid invoking the arsonist’s name, we must say it.

I speak, of course, of our president, Donald Trump.

The president has just declared a national emergency to subvert the will of Congress and appropriate billions of dollars for a border wall that Congress has explicitly refused to fund. Whether you support the border wall or oppose it, you should be deeply troubled by the president’s intent to obtain it through a plainly unconstitutional abuse of power.

To my Republican colleagues: When the president attacked the independence of the Justice Department by intervening in a case in which he is implicated, you did not speak out. When he attacked the press as the enemy of the people, you again were silent. When he targeted the judiciary, labeling judges and decisions he didn’t like as illegitimate, we heard not a word. And now he comes for Congress, the first branch of government, seeking to strip it of its greatest power, that of the purse.

Many of you have acknowledged your deep misgivings about the president in quiet conversations over the past two years. You have bemoaned his lack of decency, character and integrity. You have deplored his fundamental inability to tell the truth. But for reasons that are all too easy to comprehend, you have chosen to keep your misgivings and your rising alarm private.

That must end. The time for silent disagreement is over. You must speak out.

This will require courage. The president is popular among your base, which revels in his vindictive and personal attacks on members of his own party, even giants such as the late senator John McCain. Speaking up risks a primary challenge or accusations of disloyalty. But such acts of independence are the most profound demonstrations of loyalty to country.

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III may soon conclude his investigation and report. Depending on what is in that report and what we find in our own investigations, our nation may face an even greater challenge. While I am alarmed at what we have already seen and found of the president’s conduct and that of his campaign, I continue to reserve judgment about what consequences should flow from our eventual findings. I ask you to do the same.

If we cannot rise to the defense of our democracy now, in the face of a plainly unconstitutional aggrandizement of presidential power, what hope can we have that we will do so with the far greater decisions that could be yet to come?

Although these times pose unprecedented challenges, we have been through worse. The divisions during the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement were just as grave and far more deadly. The Depression and World War II were far more consequential. And nothing can compare to the searing experience of the Civil War.

If Abraham Lincoln, the father of the Republican Party, could be hopeful that our bonds of affection would be strained but not broken by a war that pitted brother against brother, surely America can come together once more. But as long as we must endure the present trial, history compels us to speak, and act, our conscience, Republicans and Democrats alike.

A Tale Of Two Mikes — Part I

This week, the two Mikes, Pompeo and Pence, our two main global envoys, went abroad as ambassadors of the United States, representing our nation.  The blew it.  In keeping with Trump’s modus operandi, they pandered to corrupt strongmen such as Viktor Orban, but worse, they denigrated and threatened our true allies.  Their antics went largely unnoticed amid a looming government shutdown and then a trumped-up ‘state of emergency’, but We the People need to keep our eye on this ball, for the security and strength of any nation lies, in part, with its relations with other countries, particularly long-held close alliances.

The week began with Secretary of State Pompeo visiting Hungary, where he literally pandered to autocrat Viktor Orban, a virtual pariah in European capitals because of his embrace of “illiberal democracy.”  The Orban regime is noted for suppression of independent media, the judiciary, and civil society groups, corrupt cronyism, and demagoguery that drips with xenophobia and anti-Semitism.  Yet the Trump administration lauds him.  Perhaps it is that his rhetoric so nearly matches that of Donald Trump, as he calls immigrants a “threat to Christian culture” and speaks of building a fence along the country’s border to keep them out.

Next stop for Pompeo was Slovakia, where he met with Slovak President Andrej Kiska,  Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini, and Foreign Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajčák.  Pompeo made it clear that the U.S. is putting strategic interests and great power politics ahead of human rights concerns.  Just last year in Slovakia, a leading journalist who exposed government corruption was murdered along with his fiancée.

Pompeo then went to Poland where he met up with the other Mike, Vice President Pence for a U.S.-organized conference on the Middle East.  The intent of this conference was to rally European and Middle Eastern nations against Iran.  It would seem that Trump and his minions have an ill-conceived intent to start a war with Iran!  Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement and impose sanctions on Iran was only one of his worst moves in the past two years, but one that has had serious consequences for our allies.

And so it was that Mike Pence made a complete fool of himself and further eroded our relationship with our allies.  Pence used his address to the conference to demand that European countries withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement. He further urged U.S. allies to back Washington’s sanctions on Iran. Long-standing U.S. allies in Europe favor staying in the deal and have sought ways to keep open trade and financial dealings with Iran.

“The authoritarian regime in Tehran represses the freedom of speech and assembly, persecutes religious minorities, brutalizes women, executes gays and openly advocates the destruction of the State of Israel.”

WHOA there, Mikey!  First, I might remind everyone that Mike Pence is one of the most homophobic people in our government, that as Governor of Indiana he signed into law a bill titled the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that allowed individuals and companies to openly discriminate against LGBT people!  And now he’s concerned about the rights of the LGBT in Iran?  I don’t think so.

But even more to the point, while this nation is supporting dictators such as Viktor Orban, Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Rodrigo Duterte, we are overlooking human rights violations around the globe. Trump has steadfastly refused to acknowledge the hard evidence presented by his own intelligence officials that Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi.  And now he claims to be so concerned about human rights violations by Iran?!?!?  Can we say ‘hypocrisy’?

“Iran endlessly spews hatred against Israel, our most cherished ally,” says Pence.  What a slap in the face to our true allies, the EU, UK, Mexico and Canada, to name a few!  Israel is by no means our ‘most cherished’ ally!!!  Benjamin Netanyahu is just about as corrupt as Donald Trump … he’s just more intelligent and hides his crimes better, but he and his wife are both currently under investigation for multiple issues.  Israel has become a bully-nation just as Trump is trying to make the U.S. into one.

And then came Munich.

Initially I intended to make this a single post, but by the time I reached this point, I realized that the Munich Security Conference is important enough to warrant a separate post.  Stay tuned for Part II of A Tale of Two Mikes on Monday afternoon.