Snarky-Inducing Things On My Radar

You would be surprised if I said I didn’t have any snarkiness built up and just waiting for an outlet, wouldn’t you?  Just when we think it’s gotten as bad as it can get here in the U.S., fate (or Donald Trump) steps in to prove to us that no, it can get much worse.  Which has me lying awake nights wondering … what’s next?  But, for today, here are a few of the things on my radar …


The press must do better!

I am fully supportive of our free press, I realize that they are the only thing standing between us and a dictatorship, but sometimes I get frustrated with them.  One example … the headline reads:

The president’s convention speech will be moved from Charlotte, N.C., after Republicans clashed with Democrats over virus concerns.

Makes it sound as if it were just more political fighting … democrats vs republicans, round 2,114.  But that was not the case at all!  North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper refused to allow a full-fledged, packed stadium style convention to take place in light of the precautions the state is taking due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Yes, Governor Cooper is a democrat, but his decision was not an attempt to stifle the Republican National Convention on political grounds, but rather to protect the people of his state.  That is, after all, his job!

Now, the republican leadership and Donald Trump may choose to view it as a political move, but the free press should be neutral, should be above the petty grievances of political parties.  I am disgusted and disappointed that the New York Times stoops to such cheap tactics.  Governor Cooper did offer a compromise, a smaller convention with safety measures in place, but Trump and the GOP said, “All or nothing at all.”  So fine, let them have it elsewhere — it looks like Florida’s Governor DeSantis is eager to invite more coronavirus cases to his state.  North Carolina may lose a bit of bar and restaurant revenue, but they may also save a heck of a lot of lives.  Thumbs up to Governor Cooper!


One bit of good news …

Representative Steve King of Iowa has been on my radar for several years.  He is a blatant racist and doesn’t care who knows it.  He even earned the Idiot of the Week award back in 2017.

In the past year or so, his rhetoric has become even more offensive, so much so that last year his own party stripped him of all his committee assignments.  But on Tuesday, Steve King got what he deserved!  He lost the Iowa primary by ten points to his contender, Iowa State Senator Randy Feenstra.

King claims that his loss came from an effort to “push out the strongest voice for Christian conservatism”.  He then went on to claim that the “spirit of America is being fractured by anarchists in this country.”  Yep, he’s still as much an idiot as he was in 2017!

Thumbs up to the people of Iowa for finally removing this ugly racist wart from our Congress!


Another good bit of news …

Donald Trump has been throwing his weight around (and there surely is a lot of it to throw around!) these past few days, and one of his threats has been to send the military into our cities to quell the protests, most of which are peaceful, that are a response to the continual racism in this nation.  Turns out that his Defense Secretary, Mark Esper, doesn’t agree with him.  Esper actually found his cojones and said in no uncertain terms that he opposes sending active-duty troops into U.S. cities to deal with violent protesters.

“The option to use active-duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire situations. We are not in one of those situations right now.  I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”

Is it possible that even some of Trump’s sycophants are beginning to see what sort of tyrant they’ve aligned with?  We can only hope.


About damn time …

Finally, more than a week after the brutal murder of George Floyd by police in Minnesota, the other three officers involved who stood watching while Derek Chauvin choked Mr. Floyd to death, have been charged with “aiding and abetting murder.”  The three former officers are Thomas Lane, 37, J. Alexander Kueng, 26, and Tou Thao, 34.  Thus far, Thao is the only one who has been arrested, though there are warrants out for Kueng and Lane.

Tou Thao has faced six prior misconduct complaints in his career with the Minneapolis Police Department. He also was the subject of a lawsuit that claimed he and another officer punched, kicked and kneed an African-American man, leaving the man with broken teeth and bruises.

In addition to the charges against the three, charges against Chauvin were upgraded to 2nd degree murder on Wednesday, charges that carry a potential maximum sentence of 40 years.  I really hope he serves every single day of those 40 years.  And, since these are not federal charges, Trump won’t be able to pardon him!


And speaking of pardons …

On Tuesday, Charlie Kirk, the founder of the conservative group Turning Point USA, wrote on Twitter (do any politicians actually communicate in more than 280 characters anymore?):

“Roger Stone will serve more time in prison than 99% of these rioters destroying America All because he supports Donald Trump. This isn’t justice. RT for a full pardon of Roger Stone!”

Trump went on to share the tweet Thursday morning, writing in his own accompanying message:

“No. Roger was a victim of a corrupt and illegal Witch Hunt, one which will go down as the greatest political crime in history. He can sleep well at night!”

roger-stoneRoger Stone … a lifelong criminal with a list of crimes longer than my arm, can sleep well at night as Trump will pardon him, ensuring he doesn’t pay for his crimes. Meanwhile the rest of us lie awake worrying about the state of our nation with a madman at the helm.  See the irony here?


TrumpThe answer is “EVERYTHING!”

A Wiser Man Speaks …

mattisGeneral James Norman Mattis served 44 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, commanding forces in the Persian Gulf War, the War in Afghanistan, and the Iraq War.  After his retirement, Mattis served as the 26th U.S. Secretary of Defense from January 2017 through January 2019.  His resignation came about as a result of Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, leaving the area vulnerable, but Mattis had disagreed with Trump on a number of issues before, such as pulling out of the Iran nuclear agreement.  I have tremendous respect for General Mattis, and thus I am sharing an OpEd he wrote that was published in The Atlantic yesterday.


In Union There Is Strength

I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled. The words “Equal Justice Under Law” are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.

When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.

We must reject any thinking of our cities as a “battlespace” that our uniformed military is called upon to “dominate.” At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict—a false conflict— between the military and civilian society. It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part. Keeping public order rests with civilian state and local leaders who best understand their communities and are answerable to them.

James Madison wrote in Federalist 14 that “America united with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more forbidding posture to foreign ambition than America disunited, with a hundred thousand veterans ready for combat.” We do not need to militarize our response to protests. We need to unite around a common purpose. And it starts by guaranteeing that all of us are equal before the law.

Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that “The Nazi slogan for destroying us…was ‘Divide and Conquer.’ Our American answer is ‘In Union there is Strength.’” We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis—confident that we are better than our politics.

Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.

We can come through this trying time stronger, and with a renewed sense of purpose and respect for one another. The pandemic has shown us that it is not only our troops who are willing to offer the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of the community. Americans in hospitals, grocery stores, post offices, and elsewhere have put their lives on the line in order to serve their fellow citizens and their country. We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution. At the same time, we must remember Lincoln’s “better angels,” and listen to them, as we work to unite.

Only by adopting a new path—which means, in truth, returning to the original path of our founding ideals—will we again be a country admired and respected at home and abroad.

James Mattis

“Final decisions about the nation’s existence are at stake here…” America at the Tipping Point of Dictatorship and Democracy

As we see the threat of an authoritarian regime becoming increasingly real, comparisons to the start of Hitler’s regime in the 1930s come to mind. Last night, I read this post by Padre Steve, a historian whose views I value. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read his wise words, and understand why it is so important that we take action to change the course the U.S. is currently on. Thank you, Padre.

The Inglorius Padre Steve's World

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

I started this article last night but could not finish it because of how upset I was after seeing President Trump’s speech last night where he threatened the use of active duty military forces against protestors, declared an unorganized amorphous group known as Antifa, as a terrorist organization on the order of Al Qaida, and launched into a tirade worthy of Hitler in a teleconference with the nation’s governors.

But what got me was what happened during his speech. He promised the use of dominating protestors, as he ended his speech tear gas was launched and a line of unarmed peaceful protestors near St John’s Episcopal Church were suddenly assaulted by heavily armed police in riot gear and officers mounted on horseback. An aid station was overrun and two priests handing out water assaulted. I do not know if National Guard personnel were involved in…

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What is White Privilege?

Jeff’s post needs no introduction from me — it speaks for itself. Thank you, Jeff.

On The Fence Voters

I’d like to share something with all of you. I’m not on Facebook, nor do I like Facebook. I think the platform is intrusive and, quite frankly, a danger to America in many ways, especially now, with the complicit Mark Zuckerberg refusing to fact check any political ads, regardless of whether they are outright lies. That’s a story for another day.

But while I’m not a participant on the platform, my wife is, and she shared a post with me that’s been getting a lot of attention. It’s very subtle and understated, but it shows the sheer volume of young black men and women who’ve lost their lives in recent years. For, quite simply, being a person of color in America and engaging in activities that many of us could never imagine might jeopardize our lives.

I do not have that problem. I’m white and have never once been stopped…

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When Silence Is NOT Golden …

There is an old saying that, “Silence is golden”.  Sometimes that may well be true … I utter that line frequently when Trump is heard going off on another of his many tangents.  But, there are times when silence is criminal.

Last week, as you all know, a man by the name of George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, who kept his knee pressed into Mr. Floyd’s throat for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, causing Mr. Floyd’s death by asphyxiation.  Chauvin has been arrested and charged with murder and manslaughter, for which he could be sentenced to as much as 15½ years, or as little as 3½ years.  George Floyd will still be dead when Chauvin is released from prison.

But, there were four officers at the scene.  What did the other three officers do?  Not a damn thing.  They stood there looking on while their compadre killed a man for no reason.  In my book, they are just about as guilty as Chauvin, for they could have stopped him and instead they stood silently by.

Who were the other three officers?  We haven’t seen much about them in the media, have we?

  • Tou Thao, videotaped watching as Chauvin continued to press on Floyd’s neck with his knee, has left Minnesota, his lawyer confirmed Friday. Criminal defense attorney Robert Paule said Thao is “safely elsewhere” and that he couldn’t comment further.
  • J Alexander Kueng, one of the two first officers at the scene who helped pin Floyd down, is believed to be staying with family in Minneapolis.
  • Thomas K. Lane has left and didn’t tell anyone where he was going, a relative said Friday.

Although Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced murder and manslaughter charges against Chauvin and said he anticipated charges against Thao, Kueng and Lane, no such charges have been filed as yet … more than one week since Mr. Floyd’s murder on May 25th.  WHY???  It isn’t rocket science, Thao, Kueng, and Lane were complicit in the murder of George Floyd.  Are prosecutors hoping it will all simply disappear, as the three former officers have done?  Not.  Gonna.  Happen.

enablersThere were bystanders who can be heard on the video yelling at Chauvin to let him go, to remove his knee, to no avail.  But the bystanders … where was the one brave enough to push Chauvin off Mr. Floyd?  Sure, he probably would have been arrested, but so what, if he saved a life?  He (or she) wouldn’t have stayed in jail long, once the facts of the matter were revealed.  Where was that brave soul?  Not in the group of gawkers, that’s for sure.  Would you or I have been that courageous bystander?  I like to think I would have, but when push came to shove, would I have, or am I all talk and no moxie?

Courage.  It’s something within us that we likely don’t even realize is there until one day something happens and we just jump into the fray.  Twice in my adult life, there have been situations where I found that my brain disengaged completely, adrenaline took over, and I plunged into the middle of a fight, once stopping a man from beating his wife, another time keeping a group of teens from hurting a younger child.  Would I have jumped on Chauvin?  I still cannot say.  It’s one thing to threaten a man with a rolling pin if he hits his wife again, and quite another to assault a police officer who has a gun!

The point that I’m trying to make, though, is a larger point.  I have friends … we all do … who are content to ignore what is happening in the world today so long as their own little lives aren’t affected.  I often hear, “Oh, I ignore the news … it stresses me too much.”  Not all of us can actively protest in the middle of the city, but we can all do something.  Write a letter to the editor of your local paper, write to your representatives and senators in Congress, make your voice heard!  If you can join a peaceful protest (note that I am NOT encouraging any of you to loot or riot, for I cannot cover your bail!), then by all means do so!  But if you cannot, there are other ways of being heard.  Condemn the racism, condemn the attacks on our free press, condemn the rollbacks of environmental regulations … stand for something.  Those who remain silent, who are more interested in posting pictures of their meals on Facebook or playing games rather than waken to the fact that our nation is in crisis, are guilty of supporting the destruction of this nation.  Period.  There are times that silence is golden, but these are not those times.

Voice Of Wisdom — Barack Obama

The people living in the United States have no leader, the country is a rudderless ship adrift in a very stormy sea.  But one man stands out, his words are wise and offer real solutions, and today I would like to share with you those words, the words of a true leader, President Barack Obama …


How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change

Barack Obama

Barack-Obama

As millions of people across the country take to the streets and raise their voices in response to the killing of George Floyd and the ongoing problem of unequal justice, many people have reached out asking how we can sustain momentum to bring about real change.

Ultimately, it’s going to be up to a new generation of activists to shape strategies that best fit the times. But I believe there are some basic lessons to draw from past efforts that are worth remembering.

First, the waves of protests across the country represent a genuine and legitimate frustration over a decades-long failure to reform police practices and the broader criminal justice system in the United States. The overwhelming majority of participants have been peaceful, courageous, responsible, and inspiring. They deserve our respect and support, not condemnation — something that police in cities like Camden and Flint have commendably understood.

On the other hand, the small minority of folks who’ve resorted to violence in various forms, whether out of genuine anger or mere opportunism, are putting innocent people at risk, compounding the destruction of neighborhoods that are often already short on services and investment and detracting from the larger cause. I saw an elderly black woman being interviewed today in tears because the only grocery store in her neighborhood had been trashed. If history is any guide, that store may take years to come back. So let’s not excuse violence, or rationalize it, or participate in it. If we want our criminal justice system, and American society at large, to operate on a higher ethical code, then we have to model that code ourselves.

Second, I’ve heard some suggest that the recurrent problem of racial bias in our criminal justice system proves that only protests and direct action can bring about change, and that voting and participation in electoral politics is a waste of time. I couldn’t disagree more. The point of protest is to raise public awareness, to put a spotlight on injustice, and to make the powers that be uncomfortable; in fact, throughout American history, it’s often only been in response to protests and civil disobedience that the political system has even paid attention to marginalized communities. But eventually, aspirations have to be translated into specific laws and institutional practices — and in a democracy, that only happens when we elect government officials who are responsive to our demands.

Moreover, it’s important for us to understand which levels of government have the biggest impact on our criminal justice system and police practices. When we think about politics, a lot of us focus only on the presidency and the federal government. And yes, we should be fighting to make sure that we have a president, a Congress, a U.S. Justice Department, and a federal judiciary that actually recognize the ongoing, corrosive role that racism plays in our society and want to do something about it. But the elected officials who matter most in reforming police departments and the criminal justice system work at the state and local levels.

It’s mayors and county executives that appoint most police chiefs and negotiate collective bargaining agreements with police unions. It’s district attorneys and state’s attorneys that decide whether or not to investigate and ultimately charge those involved in police misconduct. Those are all elected positions. In some places, police review boards with the power to monitor police conduct are elected as well. Unfortunately, voter turnout in these local races is usually pitifully low, especially among young people — which makes no sense given the direct impact these offices have on social justice issues, not to mention the fact that who wins and who loses those seats is often determined by just a few thousand, or even a few hundred, votes.

So the bottom line is this: if we want to bring about real change, then the choice isn’t between protest and politics. We have to do both. We have to mobilize to raise awareness, and we have to organize and cast our ballots to make sure that we elect candidates who will act on reform.

Finally, the more specific we can make demands for criminal justice and police reform, the harder it will be for elected officials to just offer lip service to the cause and then fall back into business as usual once protests have gone away. The content of that reform agenda will be different for various communities. A big city may need one set of reforms; a rural community may need another. Some agencies will require wholesale rehabilitation; others should make minor improvements. Every law enforcement agency should have clear policies, including an independent body that conducts investigations of alleged misconduct. Tailoring reforms for each community will require local activists and organizations to do their research and educate fellow citizens in their community on what strategies work best.

But as a starting point, here’s a report and toolkit developed by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and based on the work of the Task Force on 21st Century Policing that I formed when I was in the White House. And if you’re interested in taking concrete action, we’ve also created a dedicated site at the Obama Foundation to aggregate and direct you to useful resources and organizations who’ve been fighting the good fight at the local and national levels for years.

I recognize that these past few months have been hard and dispiriting — that the fear, sorrow, uncertainty, and hardship of a pandemic have been compounded by tragic reminders that prejudice and inequality still shape so much of American life. But watching the heightened activism of young people in recent weeks, of every race and every station, makes me hopeful. If, going forward, we can channel our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action, then this moment can be a real turning point in our nation’s long journey to live up to our highest ideals.

Let’s get to work.

The Trump Presidency Is Over …

You have heard me say more than once that the United States has no president.  Turns out, I’m not alone in my thinking, but am in fact in very good company.  Nobody says it better than Robert Reich, so I shall turn the platform over to him …


Fire, pestilence and a country at war with itself: the Trump presidency is over

Robert Reich-4 Robert Reich

You’d be forgiven if you hadn’t noticed. His verbal bombshells are louder than ever, but Donald J Trump is no longer president of the United States.

By having no constructive response to any of the monumental crises now convulsing America, Trump has abdicated his office. 

He is not governing. He’s golfing, watching cable TV and tweeting.

How has Trump responded to the widespread unrest following the murder in Minneapolis of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for minutes as he was handcuffed on the ground?

Trump called the protesters “thugs” and threatened to have them shot. “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he tweeted, parroting a former Miami police chief whose words spurred race riots in the late 1960s.

On Saturday, he gloated about “the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons” awaiting protesters outside the White House, should they ever break through Secret Service lines. 

Trump’s response to the last three ghastly months of mounting disease and death has been just as heedless. Since claiming Covid-19 was a “Democratic hoax” and muzzling public health officials, he has punted management of the coronavirus to the states.

Governors have had to find ventilators to keep patients alive and protective equipment for hospital and other essential workers who lack it, often bidding against each other. They have had to decide how, when and where to reopen their economies.

Trump has claimed “no responsibility at all” for testing and contact-tracing – the keys to containing the virus. His new “plan” places responsibility on states to do their own testing and contact-tracing.

Trump is also awol in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

More than 41 million Americans are jobless. In the coming weeks temporary eviction moratoriums are set to end in half of the states. One-fifth of Americans missed rent payments this month. Extra unemployment benefits are set to expire at the end of July.

What is Trump’s response? Like Herbert Hoover, who in 1930 said “the worst is behind us” as thousands starved, Trump says the economy will improve and does nothing about the growing hardship. The Democratic-led House passed a $3tn relief package on 15 May. Mitch McConnell has recessed the Senate without taking action and Trump calls the bill dead on arrival. 

What about other pressing issues a real president would be addressing? The House has passed nearly 400 bills this term, including measures to reduce climate change, enhance election security, require background checks on gun sales, reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act and reform campaign finance. All are languishing in McConnell’s inbox. Trump doesn’t seem to be aware of any of them.

There is nothing inherently wrong with golfing, watching television and tweeting. But if that’s pretty much all that a president does when the nation is engulfed in crises, he is not a president.

Trump’s tweets are no substitute for governing. They are mostly about getting even.

When he’s not fomenting violence against black protesters, he’s accusing a media personality of committing murder, retweeting slurs about a black female politician’s weight and the House speaker’s looks, conjuring up conspiracies against himself supposedly organized by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and encouraging his followers to “liberate” their states from lockdown restrictions.

He tweets bogus threats that he has no power to carry out – withholding funds from states that expand absentee voting, “overruling” governors who don’t allow places of worship to reopen “right away”, and punishing Twitter for factchecking him.

And he lies incessantly.

In reality, Donald Trump doesn’t run the government of the United States. He doesn’t manage anything. He doesn’t organize anyone. He doesn’t administer or oversee or supervise. He doesn’t read memos. He hates meetings. He has no patience for briefings. His White House is in perpetual chaos. 

His advisers aren’t truth-tellers. They’re toadies, lackeys, sycophants and relatives.

Since moving into the Oval Office in January 2017, Trump hasn’t shown an ounce of interest in governing. He obsesses only about himself.

But it has taken the present set of crises to reveal the depths of his self-absorbed abdication – his utter contempt for his job, his total repudiation of his office.

Trump’s nonfeasance goes far beyond an absence of leadership or inattention to traditional norms and roles. In a time of national trauma, he has relinquished the core duties and responsibilities of the presidency.

He is no longer president. The sooner we stop treating him as if he were, the better.

Just Two Bits of Snark …

My hero for this week is the police chief of Atlanta, Georgia, one Erika Shields.  While other police chiefs and mayors in the 20+ cities that saw protests of the brutal murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, were behind closed doors, calling out National Guard troops to try to quell the violence, and while Donald Trump cowered behind the White House doors, tweeting ridiculous lies and not so much as mentioning trying to bring the country together, Erika Shields was calming the protests in her city.

Chief Shields waded right into the crowd of protesters, and here’s what she said to them …

Erika-Shields“Let me tell you something, I am standing here because what I saw was my people face to face with this crowd and everybody’s thinking ‘how can we use force and diffuse this’ and I’m not having it. I’m not having that. You have a right to be upset, to be scared, and to want to yell. And we’re going to have everybody doing what they need to do and we’re going to do it safely. That’s my first commitment. And I hear you. I have heard from so many people that cannot sleep, they’re terrified, they’re crying, they’re worried for their children – there’s a problem.”   

She gently touched the arms of the protesters, and one by one they came and thanked her, with tears in their eyes telling her of their fears.

Now, granted, in and of itself, a few kind words won’t fix the problem, won’t stop the violence, but it’s a damn sight better start than Trump threatening to have them shot!  I give Chief Shields two thumbs up for showing empathy, for understanding that threats are not the answer, for remembering that the protestors are there for a reason and that their voices have been ignored for a very long time now.  They are saying … “No longer will we be ignored and treated as second-class citizens!”

KaepernickThe solutions to these problems will not happen overnight, and they will not happen at all as long as we have people in the upper echelons of our government who simply do not care.  Until the very real concerns are taken seriously, until there are steps made toward real solutions, not band-aid fixes, the protests, riots, and violence will continue.  In September 2016, San Francisco 49ers football player Colin Kaepernick chose to take a knee rather than stand for the national anthem.  He was protesting the exact same thing the protesters today are protesting:  police brutality and murder of black people.  Yet, his very peaceful protest was met with derision, insults, and eventually loss of his job.  Since then, police killings of blacks have continued and now people are tired, they are sick of protesting peacefully and nothing changes.  Until this nation makes changes, there will be protests, some will be violent, some people will die.  It’s a fact, not a speculation.  I don’t condone the violence, but I do understand it and I fully support their cause.


I have long said that Trump’s constant battle with the press would have a disastrous outcome.  When he declared the press the “enemy of the people”, my jaw dropped.  Every president has had his difficulties with the press, but none in the history of this country has ever used the venomous rhetoric that Trump does, and in the last 48 hours, we have seen the results.

On Friday morning, the day began with the chilling arrest of a CNN crew in Minneapolis — two of whom were people of color — even as their cameras rolled. Omar Jimenez, Bill Kirkos and Leonel Mendez were simply doing their jobs, covering the protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.  They identified themselves to police, but to no avail.  Then later in the day, CNN headquarters in Atlanta were attacked and vandalized by protestors. CNN-headquartersIn between, all around the country, journalists were harassed.  In Louisville, a police officer shot pepper balls at a local TV reporter, Kaitlin Rust while in Denver, police fired paintballs and tear gas, hitting a news photographer and his camera.  The seeds for these incidents were planted long ago, when Donald Trump declared the press the “enemy of the people”, but this is only the beginning, my friends.  According to Suzanne Nossel, chief executive of PEN America, the nonprofit organization devoted to free expression …

“By denigrating journalists so often, he has degraded respect for what journalists do and the crucial role they play in a democracy. He’s been remarkably effective in contributing to this topsy-turvy sense that journalists are the opposition.”

During the 2016 campaign, Trump was interviewed by CBS reporter Lesley Stahl, who asked him why he was constantly denigrating members of the press.  His reply?

“You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all, so when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you.”

Well, folks, just like it’s time for the black people to stand up and say, “Hell no, we won’t sit down and take it any longer”,  perhaps it’s time for this entire nation, at least those of us who value democratic principles, to say the same about Trump’s abusive denigration of our press.  Please remember that the free press is the only thing standing between a full-fledged dictatorship and a relatively democratic nation.  THE. ONLY. THING.Obama-free-press-quote

Message to the Right: Racism is Alive and Well in America

I realize I have covered this topic already in the last day, but our friend Jeff has written such a thoughtful post, expressing himself far better than I could, that I simply had to share it. Thank you, Jeff.

On The Fence Voters

When it comes to race in this country, I sometimes hesitate to weigh in. After all, I’m a 58-year-old white male. What gives me the right to comment on the plight of African-Americans and other people of color when I haven’t experienced the kind of institutional racism they have?

I’d be remiss if I didn’t say anything, though. The rage I feel inside is real. It’s called empathy, the last time I checked. It’s putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, or at least an ability to think in that manner.

When I see a white cop with his knee on the neck of a black man screaming, “I can’t breathe!” my first instinct is to say to the white policeman, “take your goddamn knee off his neck, you’re killing him!” If that were me suffering the same fate, I’d like to think most would mouth those very same words.

It…

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Abandoning The World …

On Friday, Donald Trump announced that he would be pulling the United States out of the World Health Organization (WHO), effective immediately.  The thing is, Donald Trump is not a member of WHO … the United States is a member of WHO.  The United States is comprised of some 330 million people.  As one of those 330 million people, I reject his decision, made solely in his own head with no consultation by knowledgeable experts or the people of this country.  It is not right and proper for one ‘man’, a ‘man’ with substandard knowledge and substandard intellect, to make such a decision entirely on his own.  It is dangerous … extremely dangerous.  It is unfair to the people of not only this nation, but of the world.

Let me tell you a little bit about WHO.  The United Nations body was founded in 1948 with a mission to promote health around the world. The organization took on a swath of responsibilities, including managing the response to major global health priorities such as tuberculosis and malaria, as well as helping with access to health care around the world.  In its more than 70-year history, the WHO has tackled some of the world’s most pressing health issues, including emergencies. It helped eliminate smallpox and all but eliminate polio. It supports the administration of measles vaccines worldwide. More recently it played a role in the 2003 SARS outbreak, the 2009 H1N1 influenza outbreak and the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Granted, WHO has its difficulties and has been accused of not responding quickly enough to the current pandemic, as well as others in the past.  But, to simply walk away, to pull $400 million per year away from the organization, is a classic case of ‘throwing out the baby with the bathwater’.  It is like the couple with three children who are having some difficulties, and rather than work through the problems, one partner says, “I’m done, I’m divorcing you and I’m not paying child support!”  It is, in a word, unconscionable.  The problems within WHO could be worked through and resolved, but it takes effort, it takes cooperation among nations, and it takes willingness to compromise.

Other world leaders have been quick to state that they have no plans to follow Trump’s example, but the reality is that the U.S. is the biggest financial contributor to WHO and without that funding, what they can accomplish will be severely limited. WHO fundingDonald Trump, in pulling out of WHO, is putting the entire world at risk, and for only one reason that I can see.  He failed miserably at being a leader when the pandemic hit the U.S., and his failures have significantly reduced his approval rating … just a few short months before the November election.  As is Trump’s way, he must find someone else to blame, and in this case it is WHO.  He has turned the health and well-being of every person on the planet into a political tool to save his own carcass. Senator Chris Murphy says it well …

“It was never about reforming the WHO. That was all lies. It was always about distraction and scapegoating. Leaving castrates our ability to stop future pandemics and elevates China as the world’s go-to power on global health. What a nightmare.”

I am deeply disturbed by the number of international agreements Trump has pulled out of.  First, the Paris Climate Accords that are attempting to find ways to save the environment from the ravages caused by the industrialized nations of the world, of which the U.S. is the largest per capita ravager.  Then he pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal … an agreement that, by all accounts, was working well in keeping Iran from developing nuclear weapons.  He pulled out of the United Nations Human Rights Council, an organization tasked with protecting human rights around the globe.  In all, he has pulled this nation out of more than a dozen international agreements, leaving not only the U.S. vulnerable, but the rest of the world as well.  There was a time that the U.S. was called the “leader of the free world”, but today, I’m not sure we are even a part of the free world, thanks to Donald Trump and his megalomania.   It seems as if Trump wishes us to be so isolated that we are not even a part of the larger world … this is a frightening scenario.  It is my hope that next January, we will quickly re-join these international groups that are trying to keep the world safe, that we will once again become part of the world.

I would urge Congress to stand up, do their job, and stop Trump’s utter madness, but … as we all know, the republicans in Congress are no longer our representatives, but rather Trump’s yes-men, thereby rendering Congress ineffective.  I would urge the people in this country, the ones who still care about people, to write letters to their representatives and senators protesting this unconscionable move by Trump, but again … our letters would be put through the shredders on Capitol Hill.  In short, we have lost our voices and will only have one last chance to exercise our will … on November 3rd.