The Mueller Report–First impressions

Jeff, over at On The Fence Voters, has been wading through the 448-page report issued by Robert Mueller regarding the Russian interference into our 2016 elections, as well as the involvement of Trump, his family, and his campaign. I, too, have been wading through the report, but I took yesterday off from it, for it was taking a toll on me both emotionally and physically. Not to mention that I had cleaning, shopping, cooking, baking, and Easter-egg dyeing that had to be done yesterday. Anyway … Jeff has shared a few of his thoughts and observations about the report, and they are well worth sharing with you. I will have my own thoughts at some point in the future, but truly, what Jeff has said here mirrors my own thoughts. Thank you, Jeff, for this excellent summation and for your generous permission to share!

On The Fence Voters

I’ve tried my best in the last 24 hours or so to read as much of the Mueller Report as I possibly could. While I haven’t completed this endeavor, I nonetheless have consumed quite a bit. Here are just a few of my thought thus far.

Robert Mueller has produced a report one might expect from a man who has spent a good portion of his life in law enforcement. It’s a thorough, fact-based account on what transpired between the Trump campaign and their alleged involvement with the Russians in the 2016 election, and an equally comprehensive look at the actions of President Trump after the appointment of Mueller as Special Counsel in May of 2017.

In no uncertain terms, Mueller lays out the facts of what the Russians did to try to sow discord in our democracy and help elect Donald Trump to the presidency. Their actions were systematic…

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Beto O’Rourke: The 7 Issues Guide

Today I bring you the 10th installment of TokyoSand’s excellent series, The 7 Issues Guide, helping us get to know a bit about the platforms of the democratic candidates running for the office of president next year. Beto O’Rourke is on deck today. Last year, Mr. O’Rourke challenged Senator Ted Cruz for his Senate seat and came very close to winning. He is, in my opinion, an exciting candidate, so let’s learn a bit more about his platform. Thank you, TokyoSand, and your diligent volunteers, for helping us get to know Mr. O’Rourke!

Political⚡Charge

Beto Beto O’Rourke, Photo by MICHAEL STRAVATO via The Texas Tribune

The Democrats have a big field of candidates running for President in 2020. To briefly use a sports analogy, I see our candidates as the starting players on the Blue team, each bringing their own unique strengths to the table in a bid to take our country in a very different direction than the one we’re on today.

But as we well know from 2016, the media (and especially social media) gets fixated on non-substantial issues that take up all the oxygen. Plus, they don’t give the candidates the same treatment or the same amount of airtime.

In order to help voters get to know the Democratic candidates, I’ve gathered quotes and information about what the candidates have said or done in regards to the 7 issues that midterm voters identified as the most important. I hope that these…

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Game Over? I Think NOT, Donnie Boy!

The republicans are, once again, dancing in the streets and pouring champagne over each other’s heads.  Party hearty, republican friends, but guess what?  The game isn’t over, but has just begun.  The redacted report that we were given is only part of the story, but even that part is proof that Trump & Co are guilty of having conspired with Russian agents to rig the election in 2016 and put Trump in office.  What more there is, will eventually be discovered.  But … republicans?  Let me ask you a question.  Why, if Trump had nothing to hide and was guilty of naught, did he make this statement when apprised of the hiring of Special Counsel Robert Mueller …

“Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked.”

And then he proceeded to berate the bearer of the news, then-Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. Why, guys?  Doesn’t that sound like the voice of a guilty man?  Sure does to me.

Now on to the present.  Yesterday morning, as I noted in my snarky snippets yesterday, Attorney General William Barr felt it prudent to give us his version of the Mueller report.  Unnecessary and unwanted, but here are a few of the proven lies he told in that event:

  • … We now know that the Russian operatives who perpetrated these schemes did not have the cooperation of President Trump or the Trump campaign – or the knowing assistance of any other Americans for that matter.
  • … The Special Counsel’s report did not find that any person associated with the Trump campaign illegally participated in the dissemination of the materials.
  • … The White House fully cooperated with the Special Counsel’s investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, directing senior aides to testify freely, and asserting no privilege claims. (This one damn near caused me to choke to death!)

Even Fox News’ own Chris Wallace criticized Barr, saying …

“The attorney general seemed almost to be acting as the counselor for the defense, the counselor for the president, rather than the attorney general, talking about his motives, his emotions.”

Let us consider, for a moment, that even if Mueller’s investigation did not turn up indictable criminal activity on the part of Trump, it damn sure did turn up improper behaviour, especially toward the investigation itself.  According to the Associated Press …

Donald Trump tried to seize control of the Russia probe and force Mueller’s removal to stop him from investigating potential obstruction of justice by the president. Trump was largely thwarted by those around him.

Mueller laid out multiple episodes in which Trump directed others to influence or curtail the Russia investigation after the special counsel’s appointment in May 2017. Those efforts “were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests,” Mueller wrote.

I ask you … is this the ‘man’ you want to lead this nation?  Seriously?

Jerry Nadler, Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary, has appropriately determined that the committee needs to hear directly from Mr. Mueller, and as such sent him this letter …Nadler-letter-Mueller

This should make for some real interesting conversations in the White House.

Of course, the republicans are reading into the report what they wish to see … or more likely, are simply accepting Barr’s version, for that is what they want to believe.  Take the blinders off now, people … time to wake up from that little nappie.

“The report is one-sided, it has an incredible standard of proof. It’s that ‘we couldn’t be convinced that he didn’t obstruct justice,’. Can you prove that he did? That answer is, no they can’t. That is like a cheap shot, but if they can’t prove it, why don’t they just regurgitate all the garbage that they have? It’s all one-sided, a lot of it not true, a lot of it exaggerated. Even if it’s all true, which it isn’t, he didn’t commit a crime. He didn’t do anything wrong.” – Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is preparing a rebuttal to the Mueller report

I liked what Jim Wright had to say, and I fully concur at this point …

Impeach Trump.

There is more than enough reason to begin impeachment proceedings. We impeached both Nixon and Clinton for far less than is in the Mueller Report.

So, impeach Trump.

Impeach him in the House. Take up the investigation, one he CANNOT stop or obstruct or redact, one his pet Attorney General and his cronies cannot impede, one that Trump himself has NO control over whatsoever, and impeach him if that’s where the evidence leads.

THEN if the Senate refuses to convict, if Mitch McConnell refuses to take up the impeachment, refuses his duty and the Senate stands by him, hang it around their dirty cowardly necks like a fucking albatross.

Make them own it in 2020. Make them own it forever.

Surely, if they can read, even the republicans in Congress must now agree that Donald Trump has committed, if not indictable crimes, certainly impeachable offenses.  He does not operate in the best interest of this nation.  He is a president in name only.  Game over, Mr. Trump?  Far from it.

It’s Time For … Snarky Snippets!

You could probably have predicted my angst would be running high today and I would pop up with a new batch of Snarky Snippets, yes?  You guys know me so well!  I have been pounding my keyboard so hard that I no longer have an ‘I’, ‘O’, ‘L’, or ‘N’ … the keys work, but the lettering has been worn off.  Good thing, I guess, that I took that typing class back in high school so I know where the letters are even without lettering to guide me!


Aw shucks, Mr. Barr … we can read as good as you … maybe even better!

I don’t know about you folks, but I learned basic reading skills at an early age.  Since then, those skills have been enhanced and honed, and I am now quite capable of reading many things.  There are things I choose not to read, for they either bore me or are offensive, but my literacy skills are at least on a par with most people’s.  Why, I have even read the U.S. Constitution, something that has not, as I understand it, been done by the ‘man’ who swore under oath to uphold said document.

Along comes Mr. William Barr, the alleged Attorney General of the United States, who determines that We the People are not capable of reading a 400-page document, the Robert Mueller report, and that we haven’t the intelligence to understand it, even if we could make out the words.  So … Mr. Barr decided that he would just save us the trouble of having to struggle with all that reading, and he would call a press conference and ‘splain it all to us!  Why, isn’t that nice of him?

Barr-puppetAnd, guess what else!  Mr. Barr delayed the release of the document in order to have numerous meetings with Trump’s lawyers.  Why, you ask?  Well, remember back when Robert Mueller first presented the report to Mr. Barr, and Barr wrote his own 4-page little summary, whereby he informed us that Trump, Ivanka, Kushner and all the rest were innocent of any and all wrongdoing, and that Mueller’s report cleared their names?  Turns out that Barr felt Trump’s lawyers ought to write their own little report to ‘splain just how, even though Trump & his cronies were in frequent communication with Putin and other Russians, there was no wrongdoing, for we might mistakenly decide on our own that there is some guilt there.  William Barr — Trump’s puppet on a string.

I will not be watching Mr. Barr tell fairy tales at 9:30 a.m., nor do I have any immediate interest in the rebuttal document by Giuliani and Co., though I will no doubt read that later just to see how the spin doctors played their hand.  I will, however, be reading the document prepared by Mr. Robert Mueller, whom I trust emphatically.  And I will draw my own conclusions based on the modicum of intelligence that I possess.  The next act in this play needs to be for Robert Mueller to testify before Congress, specifically the House of Representatives, where not everybody is drinking Kool-Aid.


Two thumbs up 👍 👍 for New York City!

Some good news from New York City.  While Donald Trump and his cronies trash regulations to protect our environment and do everything they can think of to hasten the demise of the human race, New York is taking a big, positive step.  The New York city council is expected to pass legislation today that will set emission caps for buildings and impose strict fines for those buildings that are found not in compliance.  Their stated goal is to achieve a 40% overall reduction in emissions by the year 2030.  It’s not enough, but it’s a start, and a damn sight better than our federal government is doing!NYC skylineAccording to the New York Times

Buildings are among the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions because they use lots of energy for heating, cooling and lighting, and they tend to be inefficient, leaking heat in the winter and cool air in the summer through old windows or inadequate insulation. An inventory of greenhouse gas emissions published in 2017 found that buildings accounted for 67 percent of the city’s emissions.

I admit a bit of demonic glee picturing Trump trying to figure a way around the law.  That is, until I remember that he is ‘above the law’ and will likely be the largest violator.  I hope the city goes after him with the big guns!


It makes sense … it makes perfect sense!Bernie-Sanders-FoxWhen I first heard that Bernie Sanders, not only a democrat, but a democratic socialist candidate, was appearing on Fox ‘News’, it was one of those wtf moments.  But then I pondered on it, did a bit of reading, and suddenly the 💡 came on over my head.  It’s positively brilliant, for a few reasons:

  • Most Trump-supporters are Fox viewers, and vice versa. Therefore, they really have no idea what the democrats stand for, because all they have to judge by is what they are told by the likes of Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Tucker Carlson, and of course Trump himself.  This gives them an opportunity to see that democrats are not, in fact, the big bad wolf, but people whose goals are humanitarian.  Now, I don’t look for them all to jump up and go change their party affiliation after seeing Bernie or another democratic candidate on their favourite news network, but it might open their minds a bit, might actually cause them to start thinking about some of the issues, realizing that there is more to it than they have been told.

  • It gives the democrats an edge they would not otherwise have … it shows they are not pandering only to their own supporters, but are reaching out to everyone. That’s important, folks, if you remember my post from last night where I posited that Trump is not our president because he speaks to and for only those who praise him.  The democrats, by appearing on Fox, are showing that they are for the entire nation, not just their own corner.

  • It is irritating the heck out of Trump! Could this be the end of the romance between Trump & Fox?

Other democratic candidates are slated to appear on Fox as well, including Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Julián Castro, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Cory Booker.  Sanders’ appearance at a Fox Town Hall garnered the biggest television audience of any 2020 Democratic candidate — more than 2.5 million people.  This is a great way for the candidates to begin ‘reaching across the aisle’, and who knows … maybe a few Trump supporters may decide to sit on the other side of the aisle.


Well, I’m about out of snark for tonight, so I’ll return you to whatever you were doing.  great-day

How Mitch McConnell Killed The Senate

On occasion, I share with you the work of Robert Reich.  Mr. Reich has served under three U.S. presidents of both parties and is a wise man who sees things as they are and isn’t afraid to call a spade a spade.  In the following essay, he analyzes the ways in which McConnell is changing not only the Senate, but the whole of the U.S. system.  I think his words are worth sharing …

 

Robert Reich-4How Mitch McConnell Killed The Senate

by Robert Reich

Congress has recessed for two weeks without passing a desperately-needed disaster relief bill. Why not? Because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t want to anger Donald Trump by adding money for Puerto Rico that Democrats have sought but Trump doesn’t want.

America used to have a Senate. But under McConnell, what was once known as the world’s greatest deliberative body has become a partisan lap dog.

Recently McConnell used his Republican majority to cut the time for debating Trump’s court appointees from 30 hours to two – thereby enabling Republicans to ram through even more Trump judges.

In truth, McConnell doesn’t give a fig about the Senate, or about democracy. He cares only about partisan wins.

On the eve of the 2010 midterm elections he famously declared that his top priority was for Barack Obama “to be a one-term president.”

Between 2009 and 2013, McConnell’s Senate Republicans blocked 79 Obama nominees. In the entire history of the United States until that point, only 68 presidential nominees had been blocked.

This unprecedented use of the filibuster finally led Senate Democrats in 2013 to change the rules on some presidential nominees (but not the Supreme Court) to require simple majorities.

In response, McConnell fumed that “breaking the rules to change the rules is un-American.” If so, McConnell is about as un-American as they come. Once back in control of the Senate he buried Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court by refusing even to hold hearings.

Then, in 2017, McConnell and his Republicans changed the rules again, ending the use of the filibuster even for Supreme Court nominees and clearing the way for Senate confirmation of Trump’s Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

Step by step, McConnell has sacrificed the Senate as an institution to partisan political victories.

There is a vast difference between winning at politics by playing according to the norms of our democracy, and winning by subverting those norms.

To Abraham Lincoln, democracy was a covenant linking past and future. Political institutions, in his view, were “the legacy bequeathed to us.”

On the eve of the Senate’s final vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act in July 2017, the late John McCain returned to Washington from his home in Arizona, where he was being treated for brain cancer, to cast the deciding vote against repeal.

Knowing he would be criticized by other Republicans, McCain noted that over his career he had known senators who seriously disagreed with each other but nonetheless understood “they had an obligation to work collaboratively to ensure the Senate discharged its constitutional responsibilities effectively.”

In words that have even greater relevance today, McCain added that “it is our responsibility to preserve that, even when it requires us to do something less satisfying than ‘winning’.”

In politics, success should never be measured solely by partisan victories. It must also be judged by the institutional legacy passed onward. The purpose of political leadership is not merely to win. It is to serve.

In any social or political system it’s always possible to extract benefits by being among the first to break widely accepted norms. In a small town where people don’t lock their doors or windows, the first thief can effortlessly get into anyone’s house. But once broken, the system is never the same. Everyone has to buy locks. Trust deteriorates.

Those, like Mitch McConnell, who break institutional norms for selfish or partisan gains are bequeathing future generations a weakened democracy.

The difference between winning at politics by playing according to the norms and rules of our democracy, and winning by subverting them, could not be greater. Political victories that undermine the integrity of our system are net losses for society.

Great athletes play by the rules because the rules make the game. Unprincipled athletes cheat or change the rules in order to win. Their victories ultimately destroy the game.

In terms of shaping the federal courts, McConnell has played “the long game”, which, incidentally, is the title of his 2016 memoir. Decades from now, McConnell will still be shaping the nation through judges he rammed through the Senate.

But McConnell’s long game is destroying the Senate.

He is longest-serving leader of Senate Republicans in history but Mitch McConnell is no leader. He is the epitome of unprincipled power. History will not treat him kindly.

She … She Said WHAT???

Ms. Sarah Huckabee Sanders sold whatever soul or conscience she once may have had long ago, perhaps on May 5, 2017 when she held her first White House press briefing, standing in for then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer.  Mr. Spicer ultimately had the good sense to realize that he would not be able to sleep at nights if he continued telling the outrageous lies demanded by Trump, for he was possessed of a conscience.

Sarah-cartoon-2I largely ignore Ms. Sanders, for she is naught but a mouthpiece, says what she is told to say, and I cannot stand to look at her facial contortions nor hear her whiny voice.  However, this past weekend she was on a tear, and dear friend Ellen fed me just enough tidbits to pique my curiosity, so I had to go see for myself.  Sigh.  Where is that blood pressure medicine???

How doth she offend me?  Let me count the ways …

During an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox ‘News’ Sunday

Sarah-Sanders-Chris-Wallace“I don’t think Congress — particularly not this group of congressmen and women — are smart enough to look through the thousands of pages that I would assume that President Trump’s taxes will be.  My guess is that most of them don’t do their own taxes, and I certainly don’t trust them to look through the decades of success that the president has and determine anything.”

Grrrrrr.  Any single member of Congress is more qualified to review those taxes than Ms. Sanders, and we don’t need ‘thousands of pages’.  We’re only asking for six lousy years’ worth!  And Sarah … “success”???  The ‘man’ with more than 5,000 lawsuits in his career?  Think about that one, sweet cheeks.

“[Trump] is a person and a president of law and order. That’s his entire focus since coming in is actually restoring law and order to this country. … The president has asked them to do everything they can and everything they’re allowed to do under the law to stop the massive crisis we have at our southern border. It’s the same thing he says publicly day in and day out.”

Grrrrrrrrrr.  Law and order???  Did she really say ‘law and order’?  Trump believes himself and his minions to be above the law.  He incites violence, defends lawless organizations such as white supremacists and neo-Nazis, and she says he’s about law and order?  There was no crisis at the southern border until Trump fabricated one, then started stealing children from their parents and tossing them into cages, not even bothering to keep track of where they were!  Just last week Trump privately urged acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan, to close the border and told him that he would issue a pardon if McAleenan ran into any legal troubles for doing so.  How is this ‘law and order’???Sarah-cartoonOn This Week with George Stephanopoulos …

Regarding Trump’s ignominious, hateful tweet about Representative Ilhan Omar:

“It’s absolutely abhorrent the comments she continues to make and has made and Democrats look the other way. I find what her comments to be absolutely disgraceful and unbefitting of a member of Congress and I think that it’s a good thing that the president is calling her out for those comments, and the big question is why aren’t Democrats doing it as well.”

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.  If you could be bothered, Ms. Sanders, to read the entirety of Representative Omar’s CAIR speech, perhaps you could better understand that the single sentence your boss chose to focus on was taken completely out of context and that there was not a damn thing wrong with what she said!  She did something you never do … she told the truth!  Your boss put her life in danger, with a childish, juvenile act more befitting a 9-year-old than a 72-year-old who happens to be, for better or for worse, the leader of a nation.

Sarah-Sanders-3I’m certain that if I wished to dig deeper, I could find even more, but already I had to take a break from writing this post to de-stress by washing a sink full of dishes … don’t worry, I only broke a couple.  The job of a White House press secretary is to serve as a liaison between the president and the press.  Ms. Sanders is, rather, a puppet … a mouthpiece, who is so pre-programmed that when she is asked a question, the best she can do is condemn the reporter who asked it.  I suppose that if one lacks intelligence, the best defense is a good offense, and Ms. Sanders has that one down pat – she is very offensive.

Snarky Snippets … Version MCXII

I used to do Snarky Snippets once every couple of weeks.  Now, it’s more like several times a week.  There is just so much …


Who could blame him?

Yesterday, a man in a wheelchair tried to set fire to himself outside the White House gates. The man lit his jacket, officers immediately responded, extinguishing the fire and giving the man first aid, the man was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries yada, yada, yada.

A “suspicious package” was found near the area … turned out to be the man’s backpack.  The White House was put on lockdown because the Idiot-in-Chief was there, even though it was obvious there was no threat to him.  And thus ends the story, right?

So why did the guy do it?  There comes a point where hopelessness leads to not caring anymore which leads to … this.  A man who figures life isn’t much worth living any more, and whose fault is it?  Donald Trump’s.  And so … let’s put an end to it, but let’s make sure Trump knows that this blood is on his hands, that he is responsible for the death.

The official story, by later today or tomorrow, will be that the man had a history of mental illness.  I’m betting not.  I’m betting that he’s given up on the hope of seeing this country rise above the abomination that is Donald Trump, decided it’s not worth sticking around to watch the final chapter, but wants Trump to know … as if Trump had a conscience and could understand human pain, the suffering of humanity.


Score one for Maxine Waters

Steve Mnuchin … just seeing his picture makes me want to relieve him of that smirky little smile he always seems to wear.  For any who are unaware, Mnuchin is Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, another of Trump’s boot-lickers.

Well, on Tuesday he met his match in the persona of one Representative Maxine Waters!

Waters-Mnuchin

Mnuchin had been testifying before the House Financial Services Committee, when he decided he had enough and cited a meeting with a “foreign leader” as his reason for needing to leave.  Ms. Waters, chairperson of the committee, asked Mnuchin if he could give the committee another 15 minutes so members who had been waiting for their five-minute turn could ask him questions.  He again cited the importance of his meeting.

Finally, Ms. Waters said, “If you wish to leave, you may.”  Well, Mnuchin was caught off-guard by that, apparently, and responded with …

“Please dismiss everybody. I believe you are supposed to take the gavel and bang it.”

WHOA-DEE … You could have heard a pin drop, for about 3 seconds, until Representative Waters said …

“Do not instruct me as to how I am to conduct this hearing.”

Mnuchin stayed the extra 15 minutes and then told Waters, “I look forward to being back in May, and we will work on a date.”  Waters responded, “Thank you very much.”

The lady has class!


He just keeps coming back …

Ol’ Roger Stone just won’t go away and stay gone.  On Friday, his lawyers asked a federal judge to dismiss Stone’s indictment for lying to Congress and obstructing justice and to order that Stone receive a full unredacted copy of Mueller’s recently completed report.  Say WHAT???  We the People are as unlikely to see it as a man is likely to give birth, but Roger Stone thinks he deserves a copy?  Yo … Roger!!! You can read the heavily-redacted version in the New York Times the same as the rest of us! At least, I suppose they let you read the Times in prison.

“No other person, Committee, or entity has Stone’s constitutionally based standing to demand the complete, unredacted Report,” said the lawyers.

bullshit


A new bromance for Trump?

Trump has found himself another strongman dictator to love … what a surprise, eh?  This time it is Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, a ‘president’ in name only, but in reality, a dictator who is in the process of making changes to Egypt’s Constitution that will make him a de facto dictator for life, while permanently enshrining military control over Egypt’s political system. He continues to hold tens of thousands of political prisoners, including at least a dozen U.S. citizens.Trump-al-SissiSo, how did Trump respond when al-Sissi arrived at the White House for a visit on Tuesday?

“I think he’s doing a great job. I don’t know about the effort. I can just tell you he’s doing a great job. Great president.”

The Egyptian president, naturally, returned the compliment …

“Let me emphasize, Mr. President, that the relations have not been better over the years of our bilateral relationship, and that is why I’m extending, Mr. President, to you our thanks … All the credit goes to you, Mr. President.  Thank you very much for your support on all fronts.”

Feeling sick yet? 🤢 Trump also took the opportunity to lie and whine to al-Sissi …

“We are building a lot of wall, and we are being very strong on the border. But we are bucking a court system that never, ever rules for us, and we are bucking really bad things with the Democrats in Congress not willing to act. Nobody can believe these decisions we’re getting from the 9th Circuit. It’s a disgrace.”

And al-Sissi sat smiling at Trump, for he has had his own troubles with judges who were trying to thwart him by upholding the law.  President al-Sissi’s answer to his troubles was to change the law.  Think about that one for a minute.


Okay folks, I’ve vented enough for one day.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend … I’ll be back!

And The Winners Are …

I wrote a good bit about the republican’s tax cuts that would benefit mainly the wealthy back in 2017 when it was first passed into law.  Since then, I have only mentioned it in passing for the most part.  But today I would like to revisit the topic.  A lot of middle income wage earners are just now figuring out that it was not much more than a shell game whereby they saw a slight increase in their weekly pay, but at the end of the year, when it came time to file their taxes, they were left slack-jawed, wondering why, for the first time in decades, they owed money at year end.

If you have found yourself in that situation, take heart, for some people truly did receive a benefit from the 2017 tax cuts!  Companies like Amazon, Chevron, General Motors, Delta, Halliburton, and IBM paid NO income taxes for the year 2018!  Aren’t you happy?  Aren’t you dancing a jig?  According to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), some 60 Fortune 500 corporations were highly profitable, yet paid no income tax, and in some cases even received rebates!

Take Netflix, for example.  The company earned $845 million, its highest profit ever, and paid not a single dime in income taxes.  In fact, they recorded a $22 million federal tax rebate.  Then there was Amazon who nearly doubled their pre-tax income from $5.6 billion in 2017 to $11.2 billion in 2018, yet paid $0 … that’s right Zero, Nada, Zilch … in income taxes. trump-tax-memeThe tax cuts for the wealthy in 2017 lowered the maximum corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% and allowed companies to write off the total cost of capital equipment in the year of purchase, rather than via a depreciation schedule over the course of the life of the equipment.  Look at the results for the top earning Fortune 500 companies …

Company

U.S. Income (millions)

Federal Tax (millions)

Effective Tax Rate

Amazon.com $10,835 –129 –1%
Delta Air Lines $5,073 –187 –4%
Chevron $4,547 –181 –4%
General Motors $4,320 –104 –2%
EOG Resources $4,067 –304 –7%
Occidental Petroleum $3,379 –23 –1%
Honeywell International $2,830 –21 –1%
Deere $2,152 –268 –12%
American Electric Power $1,943 –32 –2%
Principal Financial $1,641 –49 –3%
FirstEnergy $1,495 –16 –1%
Prudential Financial $1,440 –346 –24%
Xcel Energy $1,434 –34 –2%
Devon Energy $1,297 –14 –1%
DTE Energy $1,215 –17 –1%
Halliburton $1,082 –19 –2%
Netflix $856 –22 –3%
Whirlpool $717 –70 –10%
Eli Lilly $598 –54 –9%
IBM $500 –342 –68%
Goodyear Tire & Rubber $440 –15 –3%
Penske Automotive Group $393 –16 –4%
Aramark $315 –48 –15%
AECOM Technology $238 –122 –51%
Tech Data $203 –10 –5%
Performance Food Group $192 –9 –4%
Arrow Electronics $167 –12 –7%

Source: Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy                                            

Still feeling really good about that extra $20 on your weekly paycheck? Let’s take a look at your tax rates.  If you were single and earned between $38,701 and $82,500, your effective tax rate was 22%, or between $8,514 and $18,150.  Sure, you probably paid less if you had any deductible expenses, but still … look again at the chart above.

ITEP’s Five Things To Know on the One-Year Anniversary of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

  • The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will substantially increase income, wealth, and racial inequality.
  • The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will continue to substantially increase the deficit.
  • The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is not significantly boosting growth or jobs.
  • The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act continues to be very unpopular.
  • Despite the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’s lack of popularity and ill effects, many Republican lawmakers are calling for even more tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.

Next time somebody tries to tell you that the 2017 tax cuts were to benefit the middle class, remember this post and tell them in your loudest voice:  HOGWASH!  And in case your blood pressure isn’t already through the roof, take a gander at this …Corporate tax cuts

A Jaw-Dropping Headline …

The headline:

Failed Texas Bill Would Have Made Death Penalty Possible in Abortion Cases

Say WHAT???  You have got to be kidding me?!?!?! The story …

A bill considered by members of the Texas House of Representatives this week would have criminalized abortions and opened up the possibility for women and physicians to receive the death penalty.

The bill would have allowed women who obtained an abortion or doctors who performed one to be charged with assault or criminal homicide, the latter of which is punishable by death in Texas. It would have allowed no exceptions for abortions in cases of rape or when the health of the mother is at risk.

Yes, the bill failed to pass the Texas state legislature, with even some legislators who identify as being strongly “pro-life” feeling it went too far.  But I find the fact that somebody even thought of it to be chilling.

So, a young mother who already has two children, works two jobs to support them and still struggles to put food on the table and pay the rent, gets pregnant.  Knowing that she cannot possibly manage to support yet another child, she struggles, searches her soul, sheds many a tear, but at the end of the day she sees no choice.  She has an abortion.  Does anybody honestly think she should be punished at all, let alone be treated in the same way as a man who goes on a shooting spree in a mosque, or an African-American church and kills 10, 15, 20 people?  WHERE is the logic in this?

Worse yet, picture the woman who discovers, at the same time she finds she is pregnant, that she has cervical cancer and carrying the fetus to full term would likely cause her death.  Somebody in Texas thinks this woman should be arrested, sent to prison and put on death row for having an abortion in an effort to save her live?  Again I ask … WHERE is the logic in this?

Nobody can dispute that the U.S. has moved backward in terms of civil rights over the past two years.  Bigotry in all its ugly forms has expanded, obviously including misogyny.  One of Trump’s selling points in his campaign was that he would put judges on the bench who would be willing to overturn Roe v Wade, and he has placed two such judges on the Supreme Court so far.  What happens if Roe v Wade is overturned?  If we have people who honestly think that abortion is akin to murder, then folks, we are in deep trouble.

Women make up only 28.7% of all state legislatures in this country.  There are 127 (23.7%) women in the U.S. Congress.  It’s an improvement, but still not what I would define as equality.  I repeat what I said not too long ago … how would men like it if women decided whether or not they should be allowed their Viagra prescriptions?  Ponder on that one for a while.

Oh … one last thing here.  All those who claim to be “pro-life” … why aren’t they out there fighting hard for universal healthcare, for an expansion of social services to protect and preserve the lives of those who are living below the poverty line?  And why aren’t they vociferously speaking out against the death penalty?  If they aren’t doing those things, if abortion is the only area in which they are concerned about human life, then they aren’t ‘pro-life’, but rather they are misogynists, considering women to be second-class citizens.

What’s Next???

“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

That is the oath that every president must take before taking office.  Donald Trump took that oath on 20 January 2017.

On Monday, Judge Richard Seeborg of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that existing law did not give Mr. Trump the power to enforce the policy, known as “migrant protection protocols”, that would force asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases proceed.

Sunday night, Trump fired his hard-nosed Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, because she had refused to engage in activities that were illegal, activities in which Trump was overstepping his authority.

Last June, Judge Dana Sabraw ruled against Trump’s policy of separating immigrant children at the border, and yet recently Trump has said he plans to re-implement that policy.

And last Friday, Donald Trump, the ‘man’ who was placed into office by the auspices of the electoral college despite losing the election, gave a little speech to Customs and Border Patrol agents, telling them not to allow any migrants into the country:

“We’re full, our system’s full, our country’s full — can’t come in! Our country is full, what can you do? We can’t handle any more, our country is full. Can’t come in, I’m sorry. It’s very simple. If judges give you trouble, say, ‘Sorry, judge, I can’t do it. We don’t have the room.’”

After Trump left the room, agents sought further advice from their leaders, who told them they were not giving them that direction and if they did what the President said they would take on personal liability. You have to follow the law, they were told.  Okay, it’s nice to know at least somebody has some good sense, but still … the person who took the oath of office had the gall to blatantly and publicly violate that oath.  He is thumbing his nose at not only the Constitution, but at We the People.

In order for the system of checks and balances as defined by the U.S. Constitution to work, the executive branch must respect the prerogatives of Congress, from appropriations to oversight, and the interpretations by judges of the law and the Constitution.  What does it say about a ‘president’ who defies the rule of law, who defies the very Constitution he took an oath to uphold?  And what does it say about members of Congress who continue to allow such perfidy?

There have been a number of areas in which Trump has defied the Constitution during his nearly 27 months in office.  Just two examples …

  • Trump is violating both the foreign and domestic emoluments clauses of the Constitution, by accepting payments from foreign and state governments at the Trump International Hotel in DC.
  • Trump’s first executive order banning travel from six Middle Eastern countries was in violation of the establishment clause of the 1st  Amendment.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

“When someone becomes president, that person’s responsibility is to the country and doing what is in the best interest of the American people and, at that point, business interests need to be put aside because people need to have faith that their leaders are working for them, not that their leaders are working for their own financial benefit.” — Noah Bookbinder, executive director of CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington)

It is painfully obvious that Donald Trump has absolutely no concern for the people of this nation.  And yet, some 40% of the people in this nation support him.  The current ‘president’ of the United States violates his oath of office on a regular basis, his speech is more fitting for a trucker’s hangout than the White House, he incites white supremacists and supports anti-LGBT groups … and 40% of the nation still love him.  I’m stunned, but that isn’t my point at the moment.  My point tonight is something I want you to really think about.  What’s next?

If he feels so emboldened that he can blow off the U.S. Constitution, that he can defy the orders of federal judges, then where does he stop?  Is there any limit to what he will do?  Yesterday he signed more executive orders taking away state’s rights to halt oil pipeline construction – construction that would harm the environment and wildlife.  Yes, there will be lawsuits and the courts are unlikely to rule in Trump’s favour, but he has already shown that he does not respect the courts.

Until the last month or so, although I was frustrated and sometimes enraged by his behaviour, I felt that the courts and Congress would keep him somewhat in check.  I no longer believe that.  I now think that this ‘man’ envisions himself as a ruler, a dictator, perhaps even a king.  And what choice do We the People have?  Congress has proven useless, the courts are being proven useless … where does that leave us?  I ask again … what’s next?