Discord & Dissension — Part VI — Disinformation

This is the sixth installment of mine and Jeff’s project, and in case you’ve missed any of the previous posts, we will also be publishing a Table of Contents in just a few minutes that we will keep updated and link to at the end of each future post.  As I mentioned last month in the introduction to the project, as situations change, we will roll with the punches and adjust our focus.  The last 9 days have brought about great change … Trump was acquitted by the Senate, basically being told that whatever he chooses to do, they have his back.  He turned the State of the Union address into a three-ring circus, fired a military hero and a devoted ambassador for no reason other than they did their duty by speaking the truth under oath, has interfered with the rule of law in the sentencing of Roger Stone, has proposed a budget that rewards the wealthy while punishing the disadvantaged, and who knows what tomorrow brings.

The point being that … in the hundred or so comments I answer each day, I sense your frustration, your discouragement, and believe me … Jeff and I have both been there in the past several days.  But we cannot allow ourselves to focus on the negativity, cannot allow ourselves to lose hope or lose sight of the goal.  If we stop fighting, then we lose automatically, without ever knowing if we might have made a difference.  So, join us in picking ourselves up, dusting ourselves off, and going on to fight the good fight for just short of nine more months.

A few weeks ago, I tried to answer the question, “Where do we go from here?”  I concluded that the goal is two-fold:  vote Trump out of the Oval Office and begin to heal the ‘great divide’.  Neither of these goals are going to be easy, folks, and the GOP and others’ propaganda machines are going to make it even harder.

The GOP, or Republican Party, has been actively working to skew the odds in their favour since before the 2016 election.  The Russian interference that triggered Robert Mueller’s investigation was not, as Trump would have you believe, a ‘hoax’ nor a ‘witch hunt’, but was rather a coordinated effort on the part of Russian President Vladimir Putin to launch a propaganda machine demeaning and denigrating Hillary Clinton, while giving rise to Donald Trump.  The Russian propaganda machine has not taken a break since the 2016 elections.  According to FBI Director Christopher Wray …

“That is in some ways an even more challenging area, not the least because it never stopped. It happened in 2016 and it’s been continuing ever since then. It may have an uptick during an election cycle, but it’s a 24/7, 365-days-a-year threat.”

Election security bills were passed by the House of Representatives, but have since languished in the Senate, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to even bring them to the Senate floor for consideration.

But it isn’t only foreign influence that we have to worry about, for much of the propaganda comes directly from the GOP and a plethora of conservative groups.  Consider this example:  The day before the February 3rd Iowa caucuses, Judicial Watch, a conservative advocacy group, put out a report claiming that “Eight Iowa counties have more voter registrations than citizens old enough to register.”  It was a lie, one quickly debunked by Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, but not before the lie had been spread via Fox News’ Sean Hannity and other right-wing media sites.

Iowa-Hannity Iowa-Facebook

Voter fraud is a recurring myth favored by right-wingers, but there are other tactics, such as finding a chink in a candidates armour, real or made up, and using it repeatedly, embellishing on it, to denigrate that candidate.  Of the top candidates, we’ve already seen what Trump’s accusations against Joe Biden … accusations that have long since been debunked … have nonetheless played a role in Biden’s polling plunge.  Bernie’s chink, of course, is that he is a democratic socialist, which will play well with those who do not even understand the concept of democratic socialism.

Politics has always been a dirty game … smear campaigns, mudslinging and outright lies are certainly nothing new.  But, with the rise of social media, these tactics are magnified a million-fold, and every time you log onto Facebook or Twitter, you are likely to be exposed to some form of disinformation.  Facebook collects data on you, based on your friends, what you post, what you comment on, and any personal data you include in your profile, and then they use that data to target what advertisements you see.  My advice is to include nothing in your personal profile, and to use a strong ad blocker at all times, but especially when spending time on any social media site.  There is an app called Facebook Purity that will quite effectively block any and all ads, along with other annoying things Facebook throws in your face.  I highly recommend it.

While, after the fiasco that was the 2016 election, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook promised to do a better job of monitoring political ads and false accounts, he backtracked last year when he plainly said he would allow false and misleading ads to continue on the platform, arguing that his company shouldn’t be responsible for arbitrating political speech.  Facebook-trump-adsMy earliest memories are of political advertisements in newspapers and on television in the early 1950s, and more recently social media has become the platform of preference, but this year there’s yet another venue … your cell phone.  Yep, folks, this year, according to Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale, texting will be at the center of Trump’s reelection strategy.  I highly recommend you install a call blocking program if you don’t wish to be disturbed multiple times a day.  Mine is set to block all calls that don’t come from a number on my contact list, and since my contact list includes only 4 people, I no longer get many such calls.  I do, however, see a list of the ones blocked, and I notice the number has increased of late.

Besides being a major annoyance, though, the disinformation campaign, the propaganda machine, poses a significant hurdle to a fair and honest election.  You are savvy enough to know, if you see an ad or what appears to be an actual news story saying that Elizabeth Warren has a harem of young males she keeps locked in the attic of her home for her personal pleasure, it’s fake.  But some will believe it.  Remember Pizzagate, where the rumour was spread that Hillary Clinton and John Podesta were running a human traffiking and child sex ring in the basement of a pizzeria, Comet Ping Pong?  Someone believed it enough to go shoot the place up!

Remember my post from yesterday with the Founding Fathers singing a song to the tune of American Pie?  Creative use of technology, wasn’t it? Well, that was harmless, but some aren’t.  Take a look at this simple, doctored photo of Stacy Abrams that was used by her opponents in the Georgia 2018 gubernatorial race …

Just as social media has increased the spread of disinformation, technology has taken it to a new level.  I would ask that you take just a few minutes … 8 of them, to be precise, to listen to this interview on NPR radio (there is a transcript attached, if you prefer to read the interview)  with McKay Coppins, a writer for The Atlantic, about an article he published earlier this week on the topic of the GOP propaganda machine.  It is very enlightening, and if you would like to read his entire article, which is lengthy, but well worth the time, you can do so here .

As Mr. Coppins said in the interview, even he found himself questioning what was real and what wasn’t, so I think it’s important … nay, crucial … for us all to be hyper-aware of the information that bombards us from all directions most every waking moment these days.  If something sounds off … check it out, don’t just assume it’s correct, even if it’s from a credible source.  Let’s all help stop the flow of propaganda … this election will be enough of an uphill battle, without people being manipulated.

Next week, Jeff will be back with Part VII of our project … stay tuned!

Snarkier Than Usual Snippets

Disclaimer:  Filosofa is in a foul mood tonight.  While doing laundry, I cursed one of my daughter’s shirts, calling it a bitch and threatening to cut it into a thousand pieces, if that gives you any indication.  All day long I’ve tried to write my piece for mine and Jeff’s Discord & Dissension project for tomorrow, and I feel completely dysfunctional, unable to focus.  So, long story short, you can expect the snippets to be even snarkier than usual tonight.


Ay, Pobrecito Barr …

Poor Bill Barr, ultimate boot-licker and sycophant who has sacrificed the integrity of the United States Department of Justice for whatever it was Trump promised him.  Now he is whining that mean ol’ Donnie isn’t being fair to him.  In an interview with ABC News yesterday, Barr said …

“I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody … whether it’s Congress, a newspaper editorial board, or the president. I’m gonna do what I think is right. And you know … I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me.”

Say WHAT???Trump-BarrThis from the man that has given the keys to the kingdom to Trump and told him that no matter what he does, as long as he is the sitting president, he cannot be charged with a crime?  This from the man that has changed the laws to suit the president, has opened an investigation into one of Trump’s rivals even though it has already been proven that there was no wrongdoing?  And this from the man who totally and completely misrepresented the results of Robert Mueller’s report?  Are we actually supposed to feel pity for Billy boy?  The man who once had a decent reputation sold his soul downriver to become one of Trump’s toadies, and now we’re supposed to feel sorry for him?  No way, José!

Barr said he was determined to lead the justice department without being influence by outside forces, including the president.

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Too late, Billy Boy!Bill-BarrFormer Justice Department official, Matthew Miller, wrote on Twitter: “Don’t be fooled by this one, people. Barr is telling the president that his impulsiveness is making it politically harder for him to deliver the results he wants. If Trump would just shut up, Barr could take care of him much more effectively.”

No doubt.


Trump’s bloody wall …

Yesterday, the Pentagon informed Congress that it intends to divert some $3.8 billion earmarked for military equipment to Trump’s damn stupid, useless, abominable border wall!  You know what?  If the Pentagon has so much more money than it needs, then let’s cut their budget and leave only enough to take care of the troops – salaries, benefits, medical care, housing, etc.  They are obviously well over-funded, if they can afford to give it away for something so useless.

If Congress intended to fund the bloody wall, they would have allocated monies for it.  They didn’t.  Therefore obviously the representatives of We the People do not see the wall as a priority at this time.  Congress, and We the People, have spoken, MISTER TRUMP.  Even some of Trump’s boot-lickers in Congress were actually upset over this one, saying that Trump had overstepped his constitutional authority by second-guessing congressional spending decisions.

“Once those choices have been made, the Department of Defense cannot change them in pursuit of their own priorities without the approval of Congress. Attempts to do so undermines the principle of civilian control of the military and is in violation of the separation of powers within the Constitution.” – Representative Mac Thornberry, top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee

Frankly, I hope the wall gets blown to bits, section by section, until there is naught left but a brick or two.


John Kelly found them!

Former Chief of Staff John Kelly finally, some 13 months after leaving Trump’s employ, found his cojones!  I wonder where they were hiding all this time?  Kelly, who is also a retired Marine Corps general, was giving a speech at Drew University in Morristown, New Jersey, on Wednesday night when he let off a bit of steam about Trump’s firing of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman last week.  Of Vindman, Kelly says …

“He did exactly what we teach them to do from cradle to grave.  He went and told his boss what he just heard. Through the Obama administration up until that phone call, the policy of the U.S. was militarily to support Ukraine in their defensive fight against … the Russians. And so, when the president said that continued support would be based on X, that essentially changed. And that’s what that guy [Vindman] was most interested in. We teach them, ‘Don’t follow an illegal order. And if you’re ever given one, you’ll raise it to whoever gives it to you that this is an illegal order, and then tell your boss.’”

But, once the box was opened, Kelly didn’t stop there.  Kelly laid out his doubts about Trump’s policies regarding North Korea, illegal immigration, military discipline, Ukraine, and the news media.  He said he did not believe the press is “the enemy of the people”, and he sharply criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Trump has steadfastly courted.  He also disapproved of the president’s language about migrants, saying that most migrants are merely looking for jobs …

“In fact, they’re overwhelmingly good people … They’re not all rapists and they’re not all murderers. And it’s wrong to characterize them that way. I disagreed with the president a number of times.”

Kelly faulted Trump for intervening in the case of Eddie Gallagher, the Navy SEAL who was convicted last year of posing with the corpse of an Islamic State fighter, and later pardoned by Trump …

“The idea that the commander in chief intervened there, in my opinion, was exactly the wrong thing to do. Had I been there, I think I could have prevented it.”

Too bad that Kelly didn’t find his conscience when he was still there, as perhaps he might have done some good.  Trump, of course, was quickly informed of Kelly’s words and had to retaliate, for that’s the only thing Trump knows to do …

“When I terminated John Kelly, which I couldn’t do fast enough, he knew full well that he was way over his head. Being Chief of Staff just wasn’t for him. He came in with a bang, went out with a whimper, but like so many X’s, he misses the action & just can’t keep his mouth shut, which he actually has a military and legal obligation to do. His incredible wife, Karen, who I have a lot of respect for, once pulled me aside & said strongly that “John respects you greatly. When we are no longer here, he will only speak well of you.” Wrong!”

One can only hope that Karen Kelly is undergoing psychiatric care.


One bright spot …

Marie YovanovitchI shall end with a bit of uplifting news.  Former ambassador to the Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who became a central witness in the impeachment inquiry against Trump, received the Trainor Award at Georgetown University this week, in recognition of her 33-year career as a diplomat.  If anybody has earned the award, it is Ms. Yovanovitch who had a difficult and unexpected role during the House investigation into the administration’s shadow diplomacy and the pressure campaign on Ukraine.  She was vilified by Trump and his family, and it was later learned that Trump directly ordered her firing, claiming she had shown ‘disloyalty’ to him – sound familiar?

Thumbs up to Ms. Yovanovitch.  👍


And on that note, I shall leave you and go finish my post for this afternoon, hopefully in time for Jeff to review it before posting.susan-collins

Discord & Dissension – Part V – Corruption

Today, Jeff tackles corruption in our political system — what and where, why and how — and reminds us why it is going to be so important that we vote in November to remove the most corrupt politicians ever from office. Thank you, Jeff, for this very comprehensive post!

On The Fence Voters

Continuing the project that Jill and I started a few weeks back, I’d like to take a look at a subject that encapsulates so much of what is wrong with our politics today.

What is corruption? According to Merriam Webster, corruption is dishonest or illegal behavior by powerful people, such as government officials or police officers; an inducement to wrong by improper or unlawful means (such as bribery).

Sound familiar? The fate of our politics in 2020 has never been more perilous. We’re now in the midst of perhaps the most corrupt administration in history, whose leader was impeached by the Democratically controlled House of Representatives, but acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate.

It seems every time you turn around, someone in power is doing something he or she shouldn’t. When folks obtain a level of power in our society, especially in the Washington D.C. political world, the lure to keep…

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We Are … WHAT???

It seems that you and I, my friends, have suddenly become the “enemy of the people”!  Just this morning, the invisible White House Press Secretary, what’s-her-name, said in reference to Donald Trump’s impeachment …

“… how horribly he was treated, and maybe people should pay for that. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but they’re being sore losers.”

Maybe people should pay for that???  What, should we all send him sympathy cards, or did she mean something more sinister?  He’s an impeached president, for Pete’s sake!  A criminal!  She went on to say that Mitt Romney’s vote to convict Trump on the ‘abuse of power’ charge was just sour grapes, that he was only jealous because he isn’t president.  This woman seriously needs to stop drinking the Kool-Aid!

Then, Trump spoke at a “national prayer breakfast” in Washington … I’m not clear just what a national prayer breakfast is, since this nation is so diverse that there really is no “national prayer”, and why do they need breakfast for their prayers?  Leaves me scratching my head.  But listen to what Trump, the impeached president, said …

“As everybody knows, my family, our great country and your president has been put through a terrible ordeal by some very dishonest and corrupt people. They have done everything possible to destroy us and by so doing very badly hurt our nation. They know what they are doing is wrong, but they put themselves far ahead of our great country.”

Wait just one damn minute here … WHO has been putting themselves ahead of the nation for three years now???  WHO has done everything possible to destroy the nation???  So, we are all ‘very dishonest and corrupt’ people, eh?  Well, funny he doesn’t seem to mind taking our money, does he?  Oh … and he doesn’t like us, either …

“So many people have been hurt, and we can’t let that go on, and I’ll be discussing that a little bit later at the White House.  When they impeach you for nothing, then it’s not easy to like them. It’s not easy, folks.”

Which is perfectly fine with me, because I don’t like him, either!  I’m thinking we should all send a letter to him …

“Dear Donnie … Since you believe I am such a terrible person, then I will no longer burden you by sending you my tax dollars each month.  I’m sure this will greatly relieve you of the burden of having to accept money from a terrible person.”

And then came his “victory lap”, a speech he gave shortly after noon today, whereby he further criticized and name-called democrats in general …

“We’ve been going through this now for almost three years. It was evil, it was corrupt. This is a day of celebration because we went through hell.”

Not a sign of that remorse Susan Collins claimed he felt, but instead he equated his crimes with jaywalking …

“Because if they find that I happen to walk across the street and maybe go against the light or something, let’s impeach him. So, we’ll probably have to do it again, because these people have gone stone cold crazy. But I’ve beaten them all my life, and I’ll beat them again if I have to. But what they’re doing is very unfair, very unfair.”

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr … I’d like to beat him … with a club!  And then …

“They’re vicious and mean, vicious. These people are vicious. Adam Schiff is a vicious, horrible person. Nancy Pelosi is a horrible person.  Mitch, he stayed there right from the beginning. He never changed. And Mitch McConnell, I want to tell you, you did a fantastic job. … He understood this was crooked politics. This was crooked politics.”

Crooked politics?  Who is the biggest purveyor of crooked politics???  Have you ever, in all your years, heard a president speak in such a way about his fellow public servants?  I have not.  Not even Nixon, not even G.W. Bush … and certainly not Jimmy Carter or Barack Obama.  Why are we putting up with this?  Why are we paying to be treated this way?  Last year, We the People paid $1.698 trillion … in exchange for which we get to be cursed, called names, cheated, lied to, and our lives endangered by this ‘man’ and his cronies.  Frankly, folks, I don’t feel like we’re getting our money’s worth, do you?

Are You Listening, Democrats?

This morning I happened upon Greg Sargent’s column in The Washington Post in which he writes about what we can expect from Trump in the coming nine months after he is almost certainly acquitted of his crimes tomorrow afternoon.  But more importantly, he makes some suggestions for the democratic-led House in the coming months that I think are very prudent.  At the very least, Congress must continue pulling back the layers to expose the corruption, and keep We the People informed so that we do not go blindly to the polls in November.  Let’s hope Nancy Pelosi and others in the House read Mr. Sargent’s column!


The Plum Line

Opinion

Trump is about to get a lot more dangerous. Here’s what’s coming.

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Greg Sargent
Opinion writer
Feb. 4, 2020 at 9:38 a.m. EST

When President Trump is acquitted by the Senate on Wednesday afternoon, he’ll surely take from it the message that he can continue abusing his powers however he sees fit to corrupt the 2020 election. He now knows he’ll face zero consequences.

But House Democrats can try to do something about this. They can redouble their oversight and investigative efforts, post-impeachment, geared toward the specific aim of illuminating — and preventing — future efforts by Trump to wield the machinery of government to influence the election’s outcome.

Some ultra-savvy pundits will scoff: Didn’t Democrats just get through impeachment? And some Democrats will be tempted to slink away in defeat, muttering that impeachment wasn’t “worth” the “trouble.”

But this is precisely the wrong message to take from what just happened. The impeachment and trial produced a remarkable new fact record documenting extraordinary misconduct and likely criminality on Trump’s part. This has stripped away any illusions about what Trump is capable of inflicting on our political system — demonstrating why continued efforts to protect the country are even more imperative.

“We have to use all the oversight powers we have to try to check efforts by Trump and the White House to steal the election,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the Judiciary and Oversight committees, told me.

“Just because we’ve impeached the president does not mean his schemes have stopped,” Raskin added. “He continues to be a one-man crime wave.”

Subpoena Bolton

For starters: One of the House committees should immediately invite former national security adviser John Bolton to testify, and if he refuses, subpoena him.

Bolton’s forthcoming book will report that Trump privately linked nearly $400 million in frozen military aid to Ukraine directly to his demand for sham investigations validating lies about Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election that absolve Russia of that crime and smearing potential 2020 foe Joe Biden.

Bolton’s book will also report that as early as last May, Trump instructed Bolton to press the Ukrainian president to work with personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani on the scheme to extort those announcements from Ukraine.

Learning more about both these episodes — which Senate Republicans refused to do — will further illuminate the scope, reach and inner workings of this whole scheme. Bolton can almost certainly detail other episodes implicated with it.

This matters because this scheme is still in operation today. Republicans have been running ads in Iowa that echo the fabricated narrative of Biden corruption in Ukraine. Giuliani has been meeting with former Ukrainian officials to further validate that narrative.

And Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, is still pursuing a “review” of the origins of the Russia investigation that appear designed to discredit that investigation — and its conclusion that Russia sabotaged the 2016 election to help Trump — just as Trump wants.

What this all means is that post-acquittal, Trump will simply keep up his smearing of Biden with disinformation, including with “evidence” fabricated by Giuliani with the help of foreign officials, as well as his ongoing whitewashing of Russia’s 2016 attack on our political system.

A maximal picture of Trump’s willingness to corrupt the government in service of this whole effort will better equip the American people to evaluate the disinformation and lies we’ll continue seeing on all these fronts. Testimony from Bolton about Trump’s orchestration of this scheme will focus public attention on it as it continues.

Call Lev Parnas

That’s also why House Democrats should seek testimony from Lev Parnas, the former Giuliani associate who turned on Trump after getting indicted on campaign finance charges in connection with efforts to push out Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine who stood in the way of the extortion plot.

Parnas’s lawyer has indicated he is prepared to testify in detail about the whole scheme, including the role played in it by Trump and Giuliani, and other players such as Barr and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

To repeat, this scheme is ongoing as we speak. Trump’s propaganda network will continue to bombard voters with disinformation about fake Biden corruption and invented Ukrainian 2016 electoral sabotage. House Democrats need to keep the focus on this disinformation’s corrupt origins.

“Parnas can speak to the shady characters Rudy is talking to,” Sam Berger, an expert on democracy reform at the Center for American Progress, told me. “Congress needs to figure out everything it can about Trump’s ongoing efforts to cheat in the upcoming election.”

Get to the bottom of Barr’s activities

As part of the case against Parnas, prosecutors in the Southern District of New York have opened a criminal investigation into whether Giuliani broke U.S. laws by working with foreign officials to oust Yovanovitch, something that could further implicate Trump.

Has Barr allowed this case to proceed undisturbed? We have no idea.

Trump has threatened retribution against Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the lead impeachment manager. And Gabriel Sherman reports that Trump has privately told people he wants to see Bolton criminally prosecuted. Fox News’s Sean Hannity has preposterously claimed Biden broke laws in Ukraine.

Given Barr’s role in helping Trump whitewash Russia’s attack on our democracy, one cannot rule out at least the possibility of Barr somehow using the Justice Department against one or more Trump foes in some form, perhaps to lend validity to Trump’s narratives.

What exactly is Barr doing with his “review” of the Russia probe? Has Trump ever tried to instruct him to prosecute one or more of these enemies? Democrats should try to grill Barr on these matters.

“Every other attorney general has appeared before the Judiciary Committee,” Raskin told me. “I would expect this attorney general to appear as well.”

Administration officials will resist any and all efforts at such oversight. But Democrats must try and, if necessary, go to court. Protecting the country demands no less.

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Bastards

Filosofa is growling tonight … Filosofa’s blood pressure is likely through the roof tonight … Filosofa needs to rant tonight.  But first, one kudos …


The courage of her convictions …

Whatever else you may think of Senator (and presidential hopeful) Elizabeth Warren, you’ve gotta love the woman’s courage, her chutzpah, as my grandmother would have said.  Yesterday, while the questioning portion of the impeachment trial was ongoing, and senators/jurors were sending their questions, rather like passing notes in high school, to Chief Justice John Roberts to read, Senator Warren submitted one of her own …

“Does the fact that the chief justice is presiding over an impeachment trial in which Republican senators have thus far refused to allow witnesses or evidence contribute to the loss of legitimacy of the chief justice, the Supreme Court and the Constitution?”

elizabeth-warrenThe shock at her audacity was palpable in the chamber.  As Republicans grow increasingly confident that they have the votes to block calling new witnesses and evidence, Democrats have turned to Chief Justice Roberts as a potential savior for their cause: If there is a tie, it could fall to the chief justice to decide whether to break it.  I think Senator Warren’s question was a pointed reminder to Chief Justice Roberts that he is expected to be ‘fair and impartial’.  Let’s hope it works!  Meanwhile, either way, I give Senator Warren high fives and thumbs up for her courage and tenacity.


Meanwhile, back at the ranch …

It might interest you to know that at least two of Trump’s lawyers, Ken Starr and Robert Ray, have donated mega-bucks to … wait for it … Senate Majority Leader and ignominious tortoise … Mitch McConnell!  So … what a shocker, eh?  In July 2019 alone, Starr gave $2,800 to Moscow Mitch, and in September 2019, Ray gave him $5,600.  Not huge sums, relatively, but enough to ensure he would do all in his power to protect a rogue president?  Maybe.  It was only a month or so after that Mitchie announced he would be in “total coordination with the White House counsel’s office and the people who are representing the president in the well of the Senate.”

Trump’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow has contributed to multiple Republican senators, as have White House counsel Pat Cipollone and deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin.  Hmmmm … are you starting to smell a rat here?

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The bastards …

And this just in, as I am writing tonight …

Sen. Lamar Alexander to oppose new witnesses in trial, signaling vote likely to be defeated

lamar-alexanderSon of a bitch!  I hope your dog bites your leg, it gets infected by Tibetan fleas, and you die a slow and painful death, Lamar!  You have single-handedly ensured that we are now officially a nation run by a cruel, maniacal dictator.

What happened to the “5-10” republicans who, upon hearing of Lev Parnas’ statements and John Bolton’s pending book, claimed they had decided we need to hear witness testimony???  Who threatened them and with what?  Did their cojones shrivel up?For those of my readers who are rolling your eyes right about now, thinking, “Filosofa’s done gone and lost her marbles”, let me ask you to ponder something.

The ignoble Alan Dershowitz in his defense of Trump on Wednesday claimed that if a politician, say the president, acts illegally, but because he believes his actions are in the best interest of the nation, then it is okay … he can do that without being called to account.  Once Trump is acquitted, most likely later today, he will gloat … he will be so emboldened that he will push the limits of his power even further than before.

On November 3rd, we are to have an election … an election that we are hoping will replace not only the president, but certain assholes in Congress such as Jim Jordan, Warren Davidson, Lindsey Graham, and most notably Mitchell McConnell.  So … what happens if Trump decides … in all his “great and unmatched wisdom” … to cancel the November 3rd election because he claims to believe it is in the best interest of the nation?

Can’t happen, you say?  Oh ho ho ho ho ho … it couldn’t happen that a presidential candidate could buy an election … until Trump did just that.  It couldn’t happen that a president would defy every law on the books, lock kids in cages, write executive orders to destroy the environment, and assassinate a foreign general … until it did happen.  Between Attorney General Barr saying that Trump is above the law, cannot be charged with a crime as long as his fat ass sits in the Oval Office, and now Alan Dershowitz claiming that Trump can do anything, so long as he claims to believe it is in the “best interest of the country”, a dictator has been created … a monster such as this nation has never seen before.  Thought Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin were bad?  Wait for it.impeach-8


And now, I bid you buenas noches … sleep well, if you can, for I doubt I will.

Cartoon of Woman Lying in Bed and Unable to Sleep Because of Insomnia

Another WTF Moment!

A few days ago, my laptop crashed.  I was able to resuscitate it, but the Bluetooth was completely dead, the pinned tabs on my browser were gone, and a few other minor issues.  I’ve been nursing BD (Baby Dell) along for quite a while now, and I’ve known it was inevitable that soon I would need a new one.  So, I bit the bullet and ordered one on Sunday night.  It was delivered today.  Sigh.  I will bond with it eventually, but first off it weighs twice as much as BD, so it has already knocked a cup of coffee and an ashtray to the floor as I tried to pick it up with one hand and couldn’t.  And, of course, I have spent the better part of my day today loading software, connecting to the internet, copying files only to lose them, installing a wireless mouse and disabling the touchpad, and various other things.  Long story short, this is going to be a short post this morning, for I have a myriad of things I must get done before I can go to bed and I’m exhausted.  But, one thing caught my eye today that I simply could not let slide …

In essence, Trump’s team of lawyers argued yesterday in defense of Trump’s phone call on July 25th that sought to trade U.S. aid to the Ukraine for the Ukraine’s public announcement that they were investigating Trump’s nemesis, Joe Biden, in order to help Trump’s bid for re-election.  Their defense?  That anything Trump did to aid in his re-election was in the best interest of the nation and therefore not impeachable.  Mr. Dershowitz’ exact words were …

dershowitz“Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest. And mostly, you’re right. Your election is in the public interest. And if a president does something, which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment. . . .

The house managers . . . never allege that it was based on pure financial reasons. It would be a much harder case if a hypothetical president of the United States said to a hypothetical leader of a foreign country, ‘Unless you build a hotel with my name on it and unless you give me a million-dollar kickback, I will withhold the funds.’

That’s an easy case. That’s purely corrupt and in the purely private interest.

But a complex middle case is: ‘I want to be elected. I think I’m a great president. I think I’m the greatest president there ever was. And if I’m not elected, the national interest will suffer greatly.’ That cannot be an impeachable offense.”

SAY WHAT???

Excuse me, Messrs. Philbin and Dershowitz, but may I offer some clarification that you legal beagles apparently lack?

FIRST … Mr. Trump is the worst president, bar none, this nation has ever had.  He is a danger to our Constitutional foundation, he is a danger to the 1st Amendment right to a free press, to free speech, and to freedom of religion.  He poses a danger to the entire planet with his ignorant stance and policies on climate change, wildlife preservation, lethal chemicals and more.  His re-election is in NO WAY in the best interest of this nation!

SECOND … it is up to We the People to decide who should be our next president.  Election tampering is what put us in this terrible situation in the first place, and now you’re saying that it is perfectly fine for Mr. Trump to do whatever he damn well pleases to give him better odds on November 3rd, and that he cannot be held accountable for election tampering, manipulation, etc.

THIRD … You apparently fail to understand the precedent you set with your inane defense!  It is bad enough that somebody along the way said a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime, which is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard … or rather, it was until today!  So, from this point forward, whatever a president does to keep his seat in the Oval Office is okay with you jerks?  Well, guess what?  If your supposition is allowed to stand, then you just signed the death warrant for the United States of America, for by 2024, Donald Trump will have declared himself to be the dictator of the nation and you will have handed him the keys to the castle.

Whew … I had to take a short break after that tirade, for I was out of breath from the typing.  Folks, we have heard more ridiculous bullshit in the past six months out of Trump & Co, than I have heard in the entire 68 years before.  We cannot let this creepshow continue … and yet … how do we stop it?  I’m not sure, but I am planning to draft a letter outlining my three points above and send it to each and every republican senator later today.  And then, I think I’ll go out and break the law … since there is no longer any law and justice, why … I can do anything I please, right?  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Mad As Hell! (Part I)

Okay, folks, I’ve had enough.  All day, there has been a slow burn building up and it’s just about to ‘splode, so hold on to your hats.

Today will be the first official day of the Impeachment Trial of one Donald F. Trump.  This is a serious affair, for Mr. Trump has abused the power of his office, has utterly failed to uphold the Constitution he took an oath to uphold, has used the office of president for his own personal gain, and in so doing has put the entire nation at risk.  He has already, and will remain throughout history, a dishonoured, impeached president, but now it is up to the U.S. Senate to decide whether the evidence is sufficient to convict him, thereby removing him from office and protecting the nation from further atrocities.

Now, if the Senate carefully reviews the evidence, listens to witness testimony, and then decides to acquit Trump, I will be disappointed, but I will not scream from the rooftops.  But, as of this writing, it appears that there will be no such thing as a fair and honest trial, as impartial judges, and We the People will not be served.  First, as I reported previously, Senator Mitch McConnell said he would conduct the trial according to the wishes of the White House, and Senator Lindsey Graham blatantly said he had no intention of being fair and impartial, but that he had already decided to acquit Trump.

The “White House” sent its first ‘legal brief’1 yesterday, all 171 pages, signed by twelve of the attorneys representing Trump.  171 pages!  Twelve lawyers!  I found it highly interesting to note the name of Jordan Sekulow as one of the signers of the document.  Jordan Sekulow is the son of Jay Sekulow, Trump’s personal lawyer.  Both Jay and Jordan are talk radio show hosts, as well as lawyers.  The document begins with the Executive Summary that starts …

The Articles of Impeachment now before the Senate are an affront to the Constitution and to our democratic institutions. The Articles themselves—and the rigged process that brought them here—are a brazenly political act by House Democrats that must be rejected.

Rigged???  Sounds just like something coming out of Trump’s mouth, doesn’t it?  A dozen lawyers and this is how they start a 171-page legal brief?  But more importantly are those last three words, “must be rejected”.  The document goes on to urge senators to “immediately” acquit the president of the charges that will be formally presented at his trial that starts in earnest this week, even before hearing evidence or testimony!  Trump’s legal team, led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone, wrote that Trump “did absolutely nothing wrong” as it accused the House Democrats who impeached the president of attempting to overturn the results of the 2016 election and “to interfere in the 2020 election.”  SAY WHAT???

“The only threat to the Constitution that House Democrats have brought to light is their own degradation of the impeachment process and trampling of the separation of powers.”

Trampling of the separation of powers.  Now, isn’t that funny, coming from the lawyers representing the ‘man’ who has refused to allow congressional oversight time and time and time again.  This from the ‘man’ who ordered an assassination of a high-ranking foreign general without cause and without bothering to mention it to Congress.  This from a ‘man’ who forbade people both within and outside the administration from answering congressional subpoenas.

I am not a lawyer … I took a few Constitutional Law classes during my post-graduate studies, but I am in no way an expert.  Still, I know bullshit when I hear it, I know that these guys, under other circumstances, in a fair and honest trial, wouldn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of getting their client off.  But, these are not other circumstances, and this is not at all likely to be either a fair or honest trial.

The seven House members who will be prosecuting this case submitted a 9-page response2 … nine pages to respond to 171 pages.  Tells you that a) most of the 171 pages were just what I said, bullshit, and b) the House members have better things to do with their time.  The response begins …

The American people entrusted President Trump with the extraordinary powers vested in his Office by the Constitution, powers which he swore a sacred Oath to use for the Nation’s benefit. President Trump broke that promise. He used Presidential powers to pressure a vulnerable foreign partner to interfere in our elections for his own benefit. In doing so, he jeopardized our national security and our democratic self-governance. He then used his Presidential powers to orchestrate a cover-up unprecedented in the history of our Republic: a complete and relentless blockade of the House’s constitutional power to investigate high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

President Trump maintains that the Senate cannot remove him even if the House proves every claim in the Articles of impeachment. That is a chilling assertion.

It is, indeed, a chilling assertion. Any other president in the history of this nation would have been tried, convicted, and escorted out of the White House, probably in handcuffs by now for the many abuses of power Trump has committed, both before his election and since taking office.  Any other president would have been impeached and removed from office after the release of Robert Mueller’s report last year.  But, no other president in the past 233 years, not even Richard M. Nixon, has abused the office of the president in the many ways Trump has.  Since he has gotten by with it thus far, he seems to believe that he is invincible.

And maybe he is, since he has rid the government of those with morals and integrity, surrounding himself with characters who have little experience to qualify them for their jobs, but are slavishly dedicated and loyal to Donald F. Trump.

One more thing …

In the event that at least four republican senators vote to hear witness testimony, Trump’s lawyers and sycophants in the Senate are preparing a “Plan B” to ensure that John Bolton will not be allowed to testify, or that if he does, his testimony will be kept from the public.  Another abuse of the power of the office, another denigration of the separation of powers.  I hope … I sincerely hope that John Bolton has the cojones to give an interview to the New York Times or another credible media outlet and tells all.

If you have any remaining illusions that this is still, as Abraham Lincoln proclaimed, a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people”, you’d be wrong.  This is a government of, by, and for the wealthiest few people in this nation, including Donald F. Trump.  We the People are NOT being served, but rather are being royally screwed.

White House legal brief

House Prosecutor’s response

A Few Mini-Rants …

I am growling today.  Every headline I read raises my hackles and makes me wish I had never heard of the United States, let alone have to live here.  Typically, I blame 90% of it on Donald Trump, and certainly he deserves the lion share, but I also have to blame the blind 40% of this nation that still … STILL … after the corruption, the childish temper tantrums, the shredding of the Constitution and the ill will he’s brought from our allies … they STILL effing love him!  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr …


Ditch the veggies – give the kids burgers instead!

Donald Trump’s main mission in life, it would seem, is to attempt to erase President Obama from the annals of history.  It must be miserable to be so jealous of one man.  Granted, Obama was far wiser, much better looking, had integrity, dignity, spoke well, and had a genuinely beautiful family … all those things that Trump lacks.  But, his envy is costing us in so many ways.  First, there was the rollback of all the environmental regulations that had been put in place during Obama’s tenure to try to do our part to combat climate change.  Then, there was the rollback of law enforcement oversight to try to better screen and train law enforcement officers as we hoped to reduce the tragic shootings by police of unarmed black men.  Then there was the utterly ludicrous pulling out of the Paris Accords and the terrible decision to leave our allies holding the bag on the Iran nuclear deal.  And all for one reason and one reason only:  because he is jealous of President Obama.  But this latest …

You may remember that Michelle Obama’s key initiative during her time as First Lady was fighting childhood obesity and providing better nutrition in school meals.  A worthy endeavour, indeed.  Well, that’s the latest thing being rolled back.  Yes, pick your jaws up off the floor, but the USDA Deputy Under Secretary Brandon Lipps proposed new rules for the Food and Nutrition Service that would allow schools to cut the amount of vegetables and fruits required at lunch and breakfasts while giving them license to sell more pizza, burgers and fries to students.

Why, you ask?  Well, the gobblety-gook explanation Mr. Lipps gave was something about having to provide students with two bananas to meet dietary guidelines.  Okay … sooooo … bananas are cheap … what’s the problem?  Well, the real problem is that it was under Obama that we began taking school nutrition seriously, and both Obamas were instrumental in providing more healthy foods and less fat to kids in school.  Can’t have that now, can we.

Another likely reason is the potato lobby that has been pushing for this change, and that the potato industry was behind a change that happened quietly last March making it easier to substitute potatoes for some fruit in weekly breakfast menus.  Once again, corporate profit over the well-being of people.  Sigh.


Senator Martha McSally, bitch extraordinaire

The incident in and of itself was bad enough.  A CNN reporter, Manu Raju, asked Senator McSally a legitimate question …

Raju: Senator McSally, should the Senate consider new evidence as part of the impeachment trial?

McSally: You’re a liberal hack. I’m not talking to you.

Raju: You’re not going to comment, Senator?

McSally: You’re a liberal hack, buddy.

Whoa!  McSally is quite a step down from her predecessor, the late Senator John McCain.  McCain once interjected when, at a campaign event while he was running against Barack Obama, a fan was being critical of Obama, calling him an “Arab” among other things.  McCain did not let the woman finish, but took the microphone from her and said, “No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign issue is all about.”  And here is his successor calling a reporter a ‘liberal hack’ simply because he asked a very valid question.  Yes, that would have been bad enough, but …

McSally was so proud of her behaviour that she put a video of the incident on Twitter.  And, McSally’s re-election campaign is already using the incident as a fund-raising tool!

McSally-tweet

Now, McSally faces re-election later this year, as she was only appointed to finish the term vacated by reason of John McCain’s death.  She ran for the other Senate seat from Arizona in 2018, but lost to Kyrsten Sinema.  And, she wasn’t even Governor Doug Ducey’s first choice to fill McCain’s seat … he initially chose Jon Kyl, but Kyl resigned due to health concerns.  With such low values as she has shown, I don’t care if it’s Moe from the Three Stooges running against her, I hope she loses big-time.  Where is the decency in politics today???  Oh … I guess she’s just following this example …Trump-mocking-reporter


A great bunch of people … NOT!

Yesterday, Trump announced that Alan Dershowitz; Ken Starr, the independent counsel during President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial; former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi; as well as  Robert Ray, who succeeded Starr at the Office of the Independent Counsel during the Clinton administration; and Jane Raskin, who helped defend Trump during the Mueller probe, would join White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow in defending the president on the Senate floor.

I don’t know much about some of them, but let me share with you what I do know.  For one thing, Dershowitz, Starr, and Ray have made roughly 300 appearances on Fox News in the past year, which should tell you something about their integrity right there.

Ken Starr was named the 14th president of Baylor University in Waco in 2010 and chancellor in 2013. After the mishandling of campus sexual assault allegations, he was ousted as president in 2016 and resigned as chancellor and law professor shortly after, cutting all ties with the university.

Alan Dershowitz defended Trump’s ol’ buddy Jeffrey Epstein in his sex abuse cases, and was himself accused by no less than three women.

Pam Bondi was Florida State Attorney General back in 2013 when her office was investigating the now-defunct Trump University on charges of fraud.  Donald Trump wrote a check for $25,000 to Bondi’s re-election campaign and suddenly there was no longer an investigation.

So, Trump has a fine, upstanding legal team.  Doesn’t matter, does it, since the jury reached their decision before there was even a case to try.  Welcome to the tinpot dictatorship of America.


I shall now retire to my dark tower to growl in private and practice howling at the moon.  Have a fine weekend, if you can.

Nightmare

Well, the day has finally come … we will be leaving first thing in the morning to find our new home.  It has been a nearly two-year process, trying to find a nation that would accept refugees from the U.S., so hated in the world is this nation.  Who would have believed a short ten years ago, when Master Trump won the 2016 election, that it would come to this?  Sure, we knew he was inept and inexperienced, but we all thought he wouldn’t last the first four years, let alone stay in office for ten full years!

We applied for asylum first in the UK, for we have many friends there, but after Trump’s unsuccessful attempt to assassinate members of the royal family there, all Americans are persona-non-grata in the United Kingdom.  Next, we tried Australia, but ever since those fateful fires in the early 2020s, their economy has been suffering and they simply cannot afford to take on refugees, for they struggle to feed their own people.  We tried Mexico but were told “¡Vaya con el Diablo!” We petitioned France, but they stopped accepting refugees from the U.S. after Master Trump had the Statue of Liberty re-carved with his image in place of Lady Liberty’s and renamed it after himself.

And just last week, when we had lost hope of being able to flee the terror that is now our waking nightmare, we received a letter from the Canadian government telling us that we would be welcomed in Canada. We will have only 90 days to prove ourselves useful by finding gainful employment, else we will be sent packing. I am not worried, for I think we will be able to find jobs, even if only in some fast food restaurant. The alternative would be unthinkable and would almost certainly lead to our execution, or at least mine.  Now our only concern is getting across the border tomorrow night.

thought-policeMany have criticized my comparisons of the U.S. today to Germany of the 1930s, but in many ways, this is even worse.  Technology and the age of electronic spying have led to a complete loss of privacy.  Remember Orwell’s 1984 when he wrote of the ‘thought police’?  That is exactly what today’s world is, at least here in the U.S.  So far, I have been arrested four times for my writing that was critical of the government.  The last time, what I wrote was in a private email to a friend, and within 30 minutes of sending that letter, the police were pounding on my door.

If only people had listened back in 2016, or even 2020 … if only people had voted the madman out back when we still had a chance.  We no longer have elections, no longer have a voice in government.  We no longer have an independent media … all information, such as it is, is now disbursed by state-run media outlets and carefully censored.

In nearly every city, new prisons are being built to house the political dissidents, those of us who remember what it was like to have freedom of speech and who continue to speak out.  There are near-daily executions … very public executions, intended to serve as a lesson for those of us who still think we are allowed to have a voice.  “Master Trump” as we must call him now, allows for no differing opinions, and all privileges are only for those who wholeheartedly support him.  Our grocery stores are state-run and one must show a valid state ID to even buy food.  Many of us have taken to growing vegetables in our small yards in order to survive, for the amount and quality of food available to those of us who are not wealthy is poor.

Thankfully, I don’t have young children or grandchildren, for the schools are now segregated by level of wealth, with the average person’s children receiving only the barest of education, and by age 16 being expected to enlist in the military.  For a time, I was teaching the neighborhood children in my own home, the lessons of history and government, but once I was discovered, I was no longer allowed to have children in my home.  The history books that are used in the schools are all new … history has been revised by Master Trump – a ‘man’ who has never read a history book in his life.  It is whatever he says it is on any given day.

Well, I must go pack the meager bit that I will be able to carry to cross the border tomorrow night.  We will be driving up to the Canadian border during daylight, find a place to rest for a few hours, then crossing the border on foot with only a backpack each to carry our belongings.  I hope it is a good sign that tomorrow starts a new year – 2027 – and hopefully a new life for me and the girls.  Wish us lu – who is that pounding on the door at this hour of the ni …………………..

thought-police-2