The Week’s Best Cartoons ⚡ 1/25

Once again this week, TokyoSand has come up with some great cartoons, and since I see no reason to re-invent the wheel, I shall share her post! Thank you, TokyoSand!

Political⚡Charge

Infuriating. Accurate. Insightful.

The best editorial cartoons express a strong opinion, and in so doing, make us feel something emotionally. This week, these were the cartoons that made me stand up and take notice. Which ones grab you the most?

Republicans Set the Terms

By Matt Davies, Newsday

By Walt Handelsman,The Advocate

By Matt Davies, Newsday

By Ann Telnaes, Washington Post

By Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

By Matt Wuerker, Politico

By Kevin Siers, Charlotte Observer

The Trial Begins

By Ann Telnaes, Washington Post

By Ann Telnaes, Washington Post

By Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

By Ann Telnaes, Washington Post

By Bill Bramhall, New York Daily News  (from 2019 but so relevant)

By Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

By Lalo Alcaraz

Screen Shot 2020-01-24 at 11.44.30 PM

And Other News

By Ed Hall

By Lalo Alcaraz

By Marc Murphy, Louisville Courier-Journal

By Paul Szep

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The Little Boy Who Cried 🐺

Remember the story about the little shepherd boy who cried wolf?  You don’t?  Aw, c’mon … you’re not so old you’ve forgotten that one.  Well, the story goes that the little boy got bored while tending his master’s sheep, and I suppose to get attention, kept crying “Wolf!!!”, even though there was no wolf after him (not to mention that wolves aren’t bad guys anyway).  The townspeople all ran to his rescue, only to find there was no wolf, no threat, the kid was just bored. Then one day, a wolf really was after the kid, or more likely the sheep, and though he kept crying “Wolf!!!”, nobody came to his rescue, for they were all onto his tricks.  Thus, the wolf ate all the sheep and the little boy, mostly to get him to shut up (poor wolf had a severe case of heartburn for days after).  And the moral, according to Aesop, is “this shows how liars are rewarded: even if they tell the truth, no one believes them”.thinking wolfSo why, you ask, do I tell you a fairy tale on this Saturday afternoon?  I wish I could remember!  I know I had a purpose … but I cannot remember it just now.  So, I shall just proceed with a few snippets and perhaps it will come back to me, eh?


The impeachment trial, for those who might not know, is in its fourth day.  Funny, the senators haven’t done a bit of work all year, but they are so eager to get this trial out of their way, supposedly so they can, as one senator claimed, “get back to doing the work of the people”.  What work???  What “people”?  They haven’t passed a piece of meaningful legislation in the Senate in over a year now!  They don’t even discuss meaningful legislation.  Oh wait … they voted to re-name a few federal buildings … that was pretty important to us all, wasn’t it?

Anyway, one Senator, Roger Wicker from Mississippi, responded to the impeachment charges that Trump had acted inappropriately, had abused the power of his office, in attempting to withhold aid to the Ukraine in exchange for personal gain …

“I do things every week that are inappropriate. So no, I’m not going to go down that road.”

Yo!  Mississippi voters … are you listening here?  Your ‘esteemed’ Senator does things that are inappropriate every week!  Now, I might make mistakes on a near-daily basis, but … ‘inappropriate’ carries a connotation of corruption, of a lack of morals, of values.  I think you Mississippians better be keeping a closer eye on ol’ Senator Wicker!

wicker

He looks a little confused, don’t you think?


Funny, but the republicans seem a mite on edge these days, don’t you think?  For example, yesterday Mike Pompeo apparently didn’t like some of the questions asked of him by NPR radio host Mary Louise Kelly.  His answers were brief non-answers, but it was what happened after the interview that is telling.  As he walked out of the room, he stopped at her desk, leaned in and silently glared at Kelly for several seconds before leaving the room.  Within a minute, an aide asked Kelly to follow her into Pompeo’s private living room at the State Department without a recorder.

She would have been wise to decline, but curiosity got the better of her, I suppose, and she went.  According to Ms. Kelly, Pompeo shouted his displeasure at being questioned about Ukraine. He used repeated expletives, according to Kelly, and asked, “Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?”   Either the republicans are nervous about something and on a short fuse these days, else they are trying to win brownie points by emulating their idol, King Trump.king-trump


And then there was the freshman senator from Tennessee, Marsha Blackburn – a real nasty piece of work in my book.  It seems almost as if each republican picks his or her own target to vilify, and Ms. Blackburn’s target is Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman.  Vindman, you’ll remember, testified to House impeachment investigators about Trump’s July 25th phone call to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy and concluded that he considered it to be inappropriate.

blackburn-2

Notice anything about the mouth … the exaggerated contortions … reminds me of???  And didn’t women stop teasing their hair in the ’70s?

Blackburn has been busily tweeting, appearing on television and social media that she considers Vindman to be vindictive and a coward.  A coward?  Excuse me, but Vindman is a combat veteran of the Iraq War. He served in Iraq from September 2004 to September 2005. In October 2004, he sustained an injury from a roadside bomb in Iraq, for which he received a Purple Heart. He was promoted to the rank of major in 2008, and to lieutenant colonel in September 2015.  That, to me, is not the career path a ‘coward’ would take.

During his Army career, Vindman earned the Ranger Tab, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, and Parachutist Badge, as well as four Army Commendation Medals and two Defense Meritorious Service Medals, yet Ms. Blackburn writes …

“Alexander Vindman broke the chain of command and leaked the contents of the President’s July 25th phone call to his pal, the “whistleblower.” Over a policy dispute with the President! How is that not vindictive?”

“Vindictive Vindman is the “whistleblower’s” handler.”

“Adam Schiff is hailing Alexander Vindman as an American patriot. How patriotic is it to badmouth and ridicule our great nation in front of Russia, America’s greatest enemy?”

There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support any of her claims.

I think Tennesseans, like Mississippians, need to re-think their choice of people to represent them in Congress!toon-1


I still don’t remember quite where I was going with the ‘little boy who cried wolf’ story, but perhaps you guys can come up with something?  Ah well, it’s a good story anyway.  And now, I shall return you to your weekend activities!

Discord & Dissension — Part III — Where Do We Go From Here?

Where do we go from here?

Last week Jeff did a marvelous job explaining much of what has led us to where we are today, a place I call The Great Divide.  This nation is divided more than at any other time since the end of the Civil War in 1865.  The divide is complex … not just white vs non-white, but Christian vs women, LGBTQ, & non-Christian, even once again male vs female.  And perhaps most notably, conservative vs liberal.  Those who are for smaller governments with fewer powers, for unlimited wealth, for uber-capitalism, versus those whose values are all about people, about using tax monies to help those in need, to reduce the ever-widening income disparity, to educate the nation’s youth, to provide such things as health care, housing and food for those who cannot provide for themselves.

Trump was able to rise to power largely because of those divisions.  He played them, he pitted one against the other, he instilled in his supporters a ‘fear of other’.  Since 9/11, people in this nation have worked to quell their fear of Middle-Easterners, and then along came Trump and fanned the flames of fear.

Today we stand at a crossroads, a place where we must decide to either accept the rifts, to allow a madman to divide and conquer, or to move past the things that divide us and search for common ground, to find ways to heal this nation.

So, Jeff answered the question, “How did we get here?”, and I must attempt to answer the question, “Where do we go from here?”  My inclination is to answer with three words:  to the polls.  But, while that is obviously the short answer, there must be more.  We must find ways to reach out to that 40% I mentioned in our introduction two weeks ago … the 40% who did not bother to vote in 2016.  We must find ways to remind ourselves that we are all in this together and that if we don’t make some serious changes, we will all go down … together.

To those of us who are displeased with the corruption, greed, and lack of integrity in Trump’s administration, it is clear that we must vote him out of office.  No doubts there.  But, my friends, that is not the end of it, for Trump is not the entirety of the problem.  I have long said, and I still believe, that Trump is but a symbol of a greater problem.  Some 40% of the people in this country still, despite massive corruption and ineptitude among Trump and his cohorts, support him.  Even if Trump leaves the White House on January 20th 2021, those 40% are still out there, and they are going to be mightily displeased.

So, the problem is multi-fold.  First, we need to vote Trump out of office, for it is the opinion of this writer that he presents, as our friend Keith has often said, a clear and present danger to the future of this nation.  But then what?  How do we heal the ‘great divide’?  How do we find a middle ground, some common cause?  When I was doing graduate work back in the 1980s, one of my jobs was as a research assistant for a professor of Political Science, Joe Scolnick.  At the time, Joe was writing a paper on conflict management, and I well remember the theme.  According to his research, when the people of a nation are so seriously divided, often a threat from outside the nation is the only thing that will bring them together.

In our lifetime, we have seen how this works, albeit briefly.  Remember in the days and weeks following 11 September 2001, aka 9/11?  New Yorkers, notorious for their callousness and stand-offish personas (which is somewhat of a myth anyway) came together, they helped their neighbors, they volunteered both time and resources.  All around the nation, people were kinder, more human.  It didn’t last for long, but it was there … it was palpable.

I experienced this on a personal level.  I live in a neighborhood that is comprised of about 30% Middle-Eastern refugees.  They are all truly wonderful people, generous to a fault, kind and caring.  A couple of days after 9/11, a woman from down the street, a Pakistani woman, brought me flowers, a card, and said that she just wanted me to know how sorry she was.

But back to my point.  Governments have, at some points throughout history, created an external threat to bring about internal cohesion.  Think about that one for a minute.  Do we really need to have a threat from outside, whether real or perceived, to bring the people of this country together for the common good?  I don’t think so, but if we don’t find ways to heal ourselves, we leave ourselves open to that very real possibility.

I like to think there are more things that we have in common than there are things that divide us, though sometimes it certainly doesn’t seem that way.  For one thing, we are all humans with shared needs of family, food, clothing, shelter, jobs, friends … and love.  This is our country, our home.  All of those are basic human needs, far more substantial and important than the things that divide us.  Among those things that divide us, I think there are three that rank at the top of the list:  religious beliefs, income disparity, and bigotry.

So, our first goal must be the November elections, not only the presidential, but also the congressional and gubernatorial elections.  And, in the interest of staying focused, keeping our eye on that ball, we will focus most of our attention in this project toward that end, but keep in the back of your mind, that the problem does not end when Donald Trump walks out of the White House.

Now, beyond going to the polls on November 3rd, we have other things we need to do.

Every day, states are working on ways to disenfranchise minority and lower income voters.  Some of their tools are gerrymandering, voter ID laws, closing or reducing the hours of polling stations, purging voter registration rolls, making registration harder, and the list goes on.  Most of this we have little voice in, but there are things we can do.  The most important thing, I think, is … talk.  We need to work toward convincing people how imperative it is for them to vote.  And, we need to have conversations about the reasons Trump must be voted out of office.  This is the tough one, folks, but … we have been going about it all wrong, I think.  A few of you may remember my post from August 2017 about Daryl Davis,  a black man who befriended members of the KKK by listening to them, talking to them, reasoning with them, and had convinced more than 200 KKK members to lay down their robes.  He didn’t call them names, didn’t belittle them … he tried to understand them, and to help them to understand him.  This, I think, is the approach we must take, this is how we will help some Trump supporters understand what it is we want for this nation.

We have our work cut out for us, my friends.  There are just under 10 months until election day, just 286 days.  Right now, if I had to lay odds, I would say that if the election were held tomorrow, Donald Trump would get another 4-year term, for he has played the victim card on the impeachment issue, and played it well.  His fan base are typically single-issue voters, and the two most important issues to them are immigration and religious ‘rights’, including an abortion ban.  Let’s put our heads together, let’s try to find common ground with those who view the world through a different lens than we do.  In the long run, it will be worth our effort.

*Note to Readers:  This project will be ongoing for … some time, we’re not sure how long yet, but we would like to keep up the momentum through election day, at least.  In keeping with that, we will cover various topics once a week for (with an occasional break) the next ten months, including how to motivate voters, the lifetime appointments of the judiciary, where we go from here, the role of the U.S. in the larger, global world, and more.  After the Democratic National Convention, when there is a final Democratic nominee, we will move more into the area of platforms and ideologies.  We hope you’re enjoying this project as much as we are and really would welcome any ideas or suggestions you may have.


Table of Contents to Project Discord & Dissension

Discord & Dissension — Part I — Introduction

Discord & Dissension – Part ll – “How did we get here? – Part 1”  

Discord & Dissension – Part ll – “How did we get here? – Part 2”

BAH HUMBUG!

I looked in the mirror this morning … I try to avoid doing that, but this morning I had something in my eye, and I had no choice.  I asked the person I saw there to please move out of my way so that I could see myself to check out my eye.  Then I realized the person I saw there, the person with deep gouges around her mouth, sad downturned eyes with dark circles ‘neath them, and a perpetual scowl on her mouth was, in fact, me.  And I got angry … not that I really look much different than I did three years ago, but … I have a perpetual sadness coupled with intense anger that wasn’t there before.  I growl a lot, even when I’m drifting off to sleep, I hear myself growling.  Every day, there is something new to growl about, so … since I don’t like to growl alone, here are my two for today …


Steven Mnuchin – Bastard of the Year

This isn’t the first time, nor will it likely be the last, that Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s Secretary of Treasury, has come onto my radar and caused my blood to boil.  This time, however, he has crossed a line … has unfairly criticized a 15-year-old girl who is trying her best to wake us up, to save the world, to save us from ourselves.  Obviously, I am speaking of the young environmental activist from Sweden, and Time Magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year, Greta Thunberg.

One of the things Ms. Thunberg has advocated is for investors to take their money out of fossil fuel stocks, invest instead in companies that are working to make renewable energy sources more efficient, more prominent, and less costly.  Apparently, Mr. Mnuchin owns stock in oil and/or coal companies, for he took umbrage and he did so in his usual snide, nasty manner …

“Is she the chief economist or who is she? I’m confused. After she goes and studies economics in college, she can come back and explain that to us.”

Bastard.

Now interestingly, someone with even higher credentials in economics than Mnuchin disagrees with ol’ Stevie.  That someone is Laurence D. Fink, the founder and chief executive of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager with nearly $7 trillion in investments.  In his annual letter to the chief executives of the world’s largest companies, Mr. Fink outlined some of the ways in which climate change is changing our world and then said …

BlackRock announced a number of initiatives to place sustainability at the center of our investment approach, including: making sustainability integral to portfolio construction and risk management; exiting investments that present a high sustainability-related risk, such as thermal coal producers; launching new investment products that screen fossil fuels; [emphasis added] and strengthening our commitment to sustainability and transparency in our investment stewardship activities.

Ms. Thunberg responded to Mnuchin on Twitter …

Thunberg-Time“My gap year ends in August, but it doesn’t take a college degree in economics to realise that our remaining 1,5° carbon budget and ongoing fossil fuel subsidies and investments don’t add up.  So either you tell us how to achieve this mitigation or explain to future generations and those already affected by the climate emergency why we should abandon our climate commitments.” 

My suggestion to Mnuchin is that perhaps he is the one who needs to go back to college and study a bit of climate science.  Y’know … people who are squawking about how to do what is needed to help stop the destruction of life on earth would cost too much, would interfere with world economies … they really need to sit in a quiet room and think for a few hours.  THINK, people!  What the hell is the economy going to matter if you cannot breathe the air, find potable water to drink, and sufficient food to eat???  In fact, the economy will be completely irrelevant at that point, but will have already crashed by then anyway.  Damn capitalists have a one-track mind and that includes Mnuchin and his effing boss!

mnuchin-wife-2

Steve Mnuchin and wife (apparently, like Melania, she doesn’t own a bra)

Oh, and by the way … a bit off-topic, but in case you were wondering, poor Mnuchin is practically on the welfare rolls, having a net worth of over $300 million.  His wife, Louise Linton, recently came under criticism for bemoaning the fact that they now have to pay more in taxes, and then bragging about her name-brand designer clothing on social media.  Nice people, those Mnuchins … I have more respect for Greta than Stevie.  Heck, I have more respect for a cockroach than I do for the Mnuchins.  BAH HUMBUG!


And in other environmental news …

On Thursday, Trump signed his long-promised regulation to remove millions of miles of streams and roughly half the country’s wetlands from federal protection, the largest rollback of the Clean Water Act since the modern law was passed in 1972.  Why?  Because the wealthy dudes who own the agriculture, home-building, mining, and oil and gas industries matter more than We the People, matter more than the wildlife that depend on those wetlands for their very survival.

Heretofore, the law required those industries to obtain permits to discharge pollution into waterways or fill in wetlands, and imposed fines for oil spills into protected waterways.  According to Janette Brimmer, Earthjustice attorney who fought for the Clean Water Act after the Cuyahoga River fire in 1969 …

“President Trump’s administration wants to make our waters burn again. This all-out assault on basic safeguards will send our country back to the days when corporate polluters could dump whatever sludge or slime they wished into the streams and wetlands that often connect to the water we drink.”

Even the EPA’s own scientists disapprove of this move, saying that in addition to potentially losing fully half of the nation’s wetlands, as much as 94 percent of Arizona’s waterways could lose Clean Water Act protection under the regulation, as well as 89 percent of Nevada’s.

Environmental groups are already planning lawsuits, and rightly so.  But, do you realize that NO administration in the history of this nation has been embroiled in as many lawsuits as Trump???  And guess who pays for all those lawsuits, my friends?  Not Donald Trump or EPA head Andrew Wheeler.  Not the rich bitches who got a huge tax cut in 2017.  Nope … me and you, the very people who are struggling to pay our rent and buy food, despite Trump’s claims that we are so much better off.  BAH HUMBUG!


Stay tuned this afternoon for Part III of mine and Jeff’s project, Discord & Dissension — Where do we go from here?

The Sham Trial Begins

I gave you my take on the impeachment trial, the dog-and-pony show yesterday, but I thought it would be interesting to read Jeff’s perspective as well. He and I think a lot alike, and even use some of the same verbiage, but since he is actually listening to the trial (what a way to spend your vacation, eh?) he has a bit better view of the participants. Thanks Jeff … good work!

On The Fence Voters

Reflections from the car

So here we are my friends. Finally, the President of the United States is being held to account. The impeachment trial is in progress and it’s heartening to see the Republican Party stepping up to the plate to make sure he answers for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist. My sarcasm vein is ready to burst!

Seriously, though,  I wanted to quickly share some thoughts from yesterday’s sham trial in the United States Senate. And I’m going to do it from a different perspective. Yesterday, my better half and I departed on a vacation to Southern California. The trip is a long one from the Pacific Northwest, and we’re driving.

Instead of watching it on TV, we listened to the proceedings on the radio, in the car for over six hours. To some, that might be considered torture. To me…

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History lessons on sham justice

Blogging friend Brosephus doesn’t post daily, and in fact today’s post is his first this year, but when he does post, his words are memorable and wise. In today’s post, he compares what is happening in the impeachment trial to certain events in the 1960s … history does repeat itself. Take a close look at the picture at the top of his post – it captures this moment in our history perfectly. Thank you, Brosephus, for this prophetic post.

The Mind of Brosephus

It’s my first post of 2020, and I have a ton of stuff on my mind. We’re only 23 days into the new year, and I’ve already hit life highs and lows that will be hard, if not impossible, to surpass. This post, however, isn’t about me or my personal life. This post is about what America is about to experience and to question how Americans will respond in return.

As we know, the impeachment trial of Donald Trump is underway in the Senate as I type. As some have prognosticators have pronounced, most Americans know “the fix” is in the works to acquit Trump for his crimes. Indeed, there may not be much that we Americans can do to stop the acquittal, but there is a lot we can do as a result.

I chose the cartoon at the top for an explicit reason. There are many of us…

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And Then There Were Two … More … Snarky Snippets

I have just two bits of snark … well, actually I have around 15, but I won’t make you listen to them all …


Remember when almost immediately after moving into the White House, Trump initiated a travel ban on people from seven predominantly Muslin nations?  The courts struck it down almost as quickly as he initiated it, and after much back and forth, he got some watered-down version of it.  Well, now he is considering another travel ban, this one expected to be implemented next Monday, to mark the 3-year anniversary of his original travel ban.  I am thoroughly confused by the countries he intends to include in this ban:

  • Belarus
  • Myanmar (also known as Burma)
  • Eritrea
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Nigeria
  • Sudan
  • Tanzania

I can see not one shred of justification for banning people coming from a single one of those nations, can you?  However, it is interesting to note that four of those countries are African nations.  Hmmm … nah, surely fair and equitable Trump wouldn’t discriminate based on something like skin colour … would he?  Yes, of course he would, and my guess is that for those four nations, that is precisely his reason.

I have read no less than 7 articles on this topic, trying to get a feel for the method behind the madness.  One article promised …

Trump’s call to dramatically expand the travel ban, explained

… but it lied … it explained nothing that I didn’t already know from the other articles.  Now, back in 2018, the Supreme Court affirmed that Trump has broad authority to restrict immigration where national security demands it. But to the best of anyone’s knowledge, these countries do not pose any threat to national security.  Every time somebody in Trump’s cadre mentions the threat of terrorism from the outside, I want to scream, for the terrorism we have experienced in the last several years has been domestic terrorism … homegrown nutcases.

So, I still puzzle over the connection of these seven nations, and why on earth he wishes to ban people coming to the U.S. from those countries.  I also, at this point, puzzle over why anybody from any other nation would even want to come to the U.S.  Take my word for it, folks … if you don’t have a good reason, you’d be better off going to almost anywhere but here!

It is interesting to note, however, that other, similar nations … nations where Trump, Inc. has businesses, say hotels, golf courses and the like … nations like Turkey, Egypt, Azerbaijan, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Suadi Arabia are never mentioned in talk of a travel ban.  Hmmmmm …

This has largely flown under the radar, in the shadow of the impeachment trial and Trump’s trip to Davos, but I think it bears watching.


Yesterday, our friend Scott (sklawlor) sent me an article about a proposed bill in the Kentucky State Legislature, Senate Bill 89 that would give police new powers to stop people on the street and demand that they identify themselves and explain their actions, rather like New York’s stop-and-frisk laws that ended two years ago.  The program was highly discriminatory, with officers stopping disproportionately larger numbers of African-Americans and Hispanics than others.

By the end of the day, the Kentucky Senate bill had been withdrawn, but it left a bad taste in my mouth and disturbed both Scott and me that after the experience with stop-and-frisk in New York, any lawmakers would even consider such legislation.  So, I did a bit of digging … and … I was truly shocked to find that no less than 24 states … nearly half the states in the nation … have some form of “stop-and-identify” statutes!  So, in the following states, if you are walking down the street, you can be stopped by a police officer and forced to show identification and explain why you are walking down the bloody street!

Arizona Ari. Rev. Stat. Tit. 13, §2412 (enacted 2005) & Tit. 28, §1595
Arkansas Ark. Code Ann. [1]§ 5-71-213 – Loitering
Colorado Colo. Rev. Stat. §16-3-103(1)
Delaware Del. Code Ann., Tit. 11, §§1902, 1321(6)
Florida Fla. Stat. §901.151 (Stop and Frisk Law); §856.021(2) (loitering and prowling)
Georgia Ga. Code Ann. §16-11-36(b) (loitering)
Illinois Ill. Comp. Stat., ch. 725, §5/107-14
Indiana Indiana Code §34-28-5-3.5
Kansas Kan. Stat. Ann. §22-2402(1)
Louisiana La. Code Crim. Proc. Ann., Art. 215.1(A); La. Rev. Stat. 14:108(B)(1)(c)
Missouri (Kansas City Only) Mo. Rev. Stat. §84.710(2)
Montana Mont. Code Ann. §46-5-401
Nebraska Neb. Rev. Stat. §29-829
Nevada Nev. Rev. Stat. §171.123
New Hampshire N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §594:2, §644:6
New Mexico N.M. Stat. Ann. §30-22-3
New York N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law Laws of New York → CPL §140.50 (requires suspicion of crime)
North Carolina State v Friend + N.C. Gen.Stat. § 14–223
North Dakota N.D. Cent. Code §29-29-21 (PDF)
Ohio Ohio Rev. Code §2921.29 (enacted 2006)
Rhode Island R.I. Gen. Laws §12-7-1
Utah Utah Code Ann. §77-7-15
Vermont Vt. Stat. Ann., Tit. 24, §1983
Wisconsin Wis. Stat. §968.24

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause.  After one lawsuit, Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada, made its way to the Supreme Court in 2003, the Court upheld the legality of officers stopping people so long as there was “reasonable and articulable suspicion of criminal involvement”.  Well, that’s probably fair enough … if you’re skin is pale and you speak flawless English.  But if you are black or brown, or speak with an accent … how fair do you suppose it is?

An August 16, 2019 article in the Los Angeles Times says that getting killed by police is a leading cause of death for young black men in America.

My friend Rob, an African-American, told me a couple of years ago that about half the time he drives downtown, he is pulled over for no reason or some minor reason … something a white person almost certainly would not have been pulled over for.  His son has been stopped more in the few short years he’s been driving than I have been in my entire lifetime.  After the blatant racism that has resulted in killings of unarmed black men by police – Michael Brown, Walter Scott, Alton Sterling, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Freddy Gray and more – do you trust police to act only when there is “probable cause”?

I don’t.


Okay friends … now that I’ve given you something to frown about, let me finish by giving you something to laugh at … well, sort of anyway.

Mad As Hell! (Part II)

Last week I wrote a post titled “Mad as Hell!”, and then after some thought, I had a sneaking suspicion that there would be more to come, so I added “(Part I)” to the title.  Lo and behold, I was right.  I can only wonder how many parts I will end up with.

The word of the day is … well, actually there are several words of the day:  stonewall, injustice, dishonesty, and I could think of more, but why bother?  Yes, I am talking about the Mitch McConnell Dog-and-Pony show happening as we speak in the Capitol building in Washington D.C.  McConnell and his cronies seem to be programmed to say one word only:  NO.  No, you can’t subpoena documents from the White House.  No, you can’t call John Bolton or Mick Mulvaney or Robert Blair or Michael Duffy or virtually any other witness.  No, you cannot subpoena documents from either the Department of Defense or the Office of Management and Budget.  What a SHAM this trial has already, after only one day, turned into.

My question … at least my first one … is this:  If McConnell and the other 52 republican fools in the Senate truly believe that Donald Trump is NOT guilty of any wrongdoing, then why the hell are they so afraid of any witness testimony or document review?  It seems to me that if they believe he is innocent, they would welcome such witnesses and evidence, to show the American public once and for all that Trump did nothing wrong.  So … all this subterfuge, all the games that McConnell is engaging in … they point heavily to the fact that McConnell and the entire rest of the right side of the aisle in the Senate are altogether too well aware that the defendant, Donald Trump, is guilty as charged … and then some.

And if you thought that Chief Supreme Court Justice John Roberts presiding over the trial would bring even an element of fairness, then think again, for he is proving himself to be naught more than just another of Trump’s hired goons.  History will not be kind to him, nor to any of the actors in this dog-and-pony show, but they don’t seem to think past the nose on their faces.

Granted, we all knew that at the end of the day, Trump will be acquitted because … for some reason that as yet eludes me, they seem scared shitless of Trump and will throw their very careers in the trash to bow to his wishes.  However, one would think they would at least … at the very least … give the appearance of a fair trial.  But nooooooo … they might as well stand up and say, “Trump is guilty as hell and we therefore find him innocent.” 

The thing that disturbs me most about this is not that Trump will remain in office until he is (hopefully, fingers crossed) voted out in November … I already had that one pegged from the first time the word “impeachment” was mentioned.  No, what is most disturbing and should scare the hell out of us all is the precedent this sets.

At just over 8,000 words, the U.S. Constitution does not cover all bases, but merely lays the foundation for a government based on democratic principles.  Specifics are left to two things:  laws and precedent.  Both, once set, are difficult to reverse.  If a fair trial, at least on the surface, is conducted and Trump is yet acquitted, it would be no different than when Bill Clinton was impeached but acquitted at trial.  However, if this trial continues to be a sham, a circus according to the wishes of Mitch McConnell, the precedent it sets is that no president is ever likely to be impeached again.  But … even that is not the worst of it.

The very worst is that in using his office, his power, for personal gain and political purposes, Trump effectively tore down any constraints or barriers to unlimited power.  Checks and balances?  Where???  Congress is tasked with overseeing the executive branch, and yet they have handed him the keys to the kingdom and said, “Do whatever you wish … we won’t stop you.”  The judiciary has largely said the same.  Where, my friends, do you suppose that leaves us … the 330 million people of this nation whose voices have been stifled by the very people we voted into office and whose salaries we pay?

We have laws in this country … laws that are not being enforced today, laws that are being laughed at by the very people we have entrusted to enforce those laws.  Imagine if you vandalized your neighbor’s car and ten people were standing on the street and saw you.  One of them finally calls the police while you continue to use your baseball bat to break every window in the car.  Now imagine that at your trial, not a single one of those ten people are called to testify.  A neighbor’s home security camera caught the whole incident on video, but that is not allowed at your trial, either.  That is exactly what this impeachment trial is.  There is no doubt that what Trump did was wrong, nor is there doubt that he did attempt to use the leverage of assistance to the Ukraine in order to force them to publicly announce an investigation into Trump’s political opponent, Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.  There’s not a shred of reasonable doubt.  But … if no evidence is allowed to be presented, if no witnesses are allowed to tell what they know … where’s the damn justice???

Too many times already in the past three years, Trump has gotten by with abusing the power of his office, with obstruction of justice, with endangering the nation and its people.  If he is not held accountable now, then folks, we have an autocrat, an “Imperial President” who has no bounds, no conscience, and no reason to honour his oath of office.  The republicans in Congress are in the process of creating a monster, one that will destroy this nation.

I have emailed the republican senator for my state, Rob Portman, twice within the past ten days and have not received a single response, which leads me to believe that as a citizen and taxpayer, I have no voice in my government.  And that leaves me mad as hell!

I Have A Dream …

Tomorrow is Martin Luther King Day, a federal holiday in the United States.  I first wrote this tribute to Dr. King in 2017, and each year I reprise it, with slight changes or minor additions, for I find that it still says exactly what I wish to say.  I am posting it a day ahead this year, for a few reasons, the main one being that I don’t wish it to be overshadowed by the white supremacist/gun rally that will be taking place in Virginia tomorrow.  Dr. King’s memory deserves better than that.  So please, take just a minute to, if nothing else, listen once again to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.  In these troubled times, it is good to be reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream.


“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that.” 

“That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.”

mlk-3Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on 15 January 1929.  He would have been 91 years old last Wednesday, had he lived. On this day, we celebrate not only his life, but also his legacy. Martin Luther King Day celebrates not only Dr. King, but the movement he inspired and all those who helped move forward the notion of equal rights for ALL races, all those who worked tirelessly during the civil rights era of the 1960s, as well as those who are continuing the good fight even in this, the year 2020.

Dr. King, along with President John F. Kennedy, was the most moving speaker I have ever heard.  To this day, I cannot listen to his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech without tears filling my eyes.  If you haven’t heard it for a while, take a few minutes to watch/listen … I promise it will be worth your time.

This post is both a commemoration and a plea for us to carry on the work that was only begun, not yet finished, more than five decades ago.  Today we should remember some of the great heroes of the civil rights movement, those who worked tirelessly, some who gave their lives, that we could all live in peace and harmony someday: Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Nelson Mandela, Nina Simone, Mary McLeod Bethune, Lena Horne, Marva Collins, Rosa Parks, W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X, Roy Innes, Medgar Evers, Booker T. Washington, John Lewis, Percy Julian, Marcus Garvey, Desmond Tutu, E.D. Nixon, James Meredith, and so many more.  I am willing to bet there are some on this list of whom you’ve never heard, or perhaps recognize the name but not the accomplishments. If you’re interested, you can find brief biographies of each of these and more at Biography.com .

Yet, while we celebrate the achievements of Dr. King and the others, there is still much to be done. Just look around you, read the news each day. Think about these statistics:

  • More than one in five black families live in households that are food insecure, compared to one in ten white families
  • Almost four in ten black children live in a household in poverty, nearly twice the rate of other racial groups
  • Among prime-age adults (ages 25 to 54), about one in five black men are not in the labor force, nearly twice the rate of other racial groups
  • Although blacks and whites use marijuana at approximately the same rate, blacks are over 3 and a half times more likely to get arrested for marijuana possession
  • For every dollar earned by a white worker, a black worker only makes 74 cents
  • Black families are twice as likely as whites to live in substandard housing conditions
  • Black college graduates now have twice the amount of debt as white college graduates
  • The likelihood of a black woman born in 2001 being imprisoned over the course of her lifetime is one in 18, compared to 1 in 111 for a white woman
  • Similarly, the likelihood of a black man being imprisoned is 1 in 3, compared to 1 in 17 for a white man
  • Of black children born into the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution, about half of them will still be there as adults, compared to less than one-quarter of white children

Data courtesy of the Brookings Institute – for charts and supporting details of above date, please click on link. 

And of course the above data does not even touch upon the recent spate of hate crimes, racial profiling, and police shootings against African-Americans.  There is still much of Dr. King’s work to be accomplished. But who is left to do this work?  Most of the leaders of yore are long since gone. There are still noble and courageous people out there carrying on the programs and works of Dr. King and the others, but their voices are perhaps not as loud, and there are none so charismatic as the late Dr. King.

In the current environment of racial divisiveness, we need more than ever to carry on what Dr. King only started. Instead, the past three years have found our nation backtracking on civil and human rights in a number of areas, ranging from discriminatory travel bans against Muslims to turning a federal blind eye to intentionally racially discriminatory state voter-suppression schemes, to opposing protections for transgender people, to inhumanely separating children from families seeking to enter the country.  I think Dr. King would be appalled if he returned to visit today.

In a speech on April 12th, 1850, then-Senator and future President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis said:

“This Government was not founded by negroes nor for negroes, but by white men for white men.” [1]

That was wrong then, it is wrong today, and it will always be wrong.  That is what Dr. Martin Luther King fought against, that is what I rail and sometimes rant against, that is why we need activists and groups dedicated to fighting for equality for all people … today, tomorrow, and forever.

Here is a bit of trivia you may not know about Dr. King …

  • King’s birth name was Michael, not Martin.
    The civil rights leader was born Michael King Jr. on January 15, 1929. In 1934, however, his father, a pastor at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, traveled to Germany and became inspired by the Protestant Reformation leader Martin Luther. As a result, King Sr. changed his own name as well as that of his 5-year-old son.

  • King entered college at the age of 15.
    King was such a gifted student that he skipped grades nine and 12 before enrolling in 1944 at Morehouse College, the alma mater of his father and maternal grandfather. Although he was the son, grandson and great-grandson of Baptist ministers, King did not intend to follow the family vocation until Morehouse president Benjamin E. Mays, a noted theologian, convinced him otherwise. King was ordained before graduating college with a degree in sociology.


  • King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was not his first at the Lincoln Memorial.
    Six years before his iconic oration at the March on Washington, King was among the civil rights leaders who spoke in the shadow of the Great Emancipator during the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom on May 17, 1957. Before a crowd estimated at between 15,000 and 30,000, King delivered his first national address on the topic of voting rights. His speech, in which he urged America to “give us the ballot,” drew strong reviews and positioned him at the forefront of the civil rights leadership.


  • King was imprisoned nearly 30 times.
    According to the King Center, the civil rights leader went to jail 29 times. He was arrested for acts of civil disobedience and on trumped-up charges, such as when he was jailed in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1956 for driving 30 miles per hour in a 25-mile-per-hour zone.


  • King narrowly escaped an assassination attempt a decade before his death.
    On September 20, 1958, King was in Harlem signing copies of his new book, “Stride Toward Freedom,” in Blumstein’s department store when he was approached by Izola Ware Curry. The woman asked if he was Martin Luther King Jr. After he said yes, Curry said, “I’ve been looking for you for five years,” and she plunged a seven-inch letter opener into his chest. The tip of the blade came to rest alongside his aorta, and King underwent hours of delicate emergency surgery. Surgeons later told King that just one sneeze could have punctured the aorta and killed him. From his hospital bed where he convalesced for weeks, King issued a statement affirming his nonviolent principles and saying he felt no ill will toward his mentally ill attacker.


  • King’s mother was also slain by a bullet.
    On June 30, 1974, as 69-year-old Alberta Williams King played the organ at a Sunday service inside Ebenezer Baptist Church, Marcus Wayne Chenault Jr. rose from the front pew, drew two pistols and began to fire shots. One of the bullets struck and killed King, who died steps from where her son had preached nonviolence. The deranged gunman said that Christians were his enemy and that although he had received divine instructions to kill King’s father, who was in the congregation, he killed King’s mother instead because she was closer. The shooting also left a church deacon dead. Chenault received a death penalty sentence that was later changed to life imprisonment, in part due to the King family’s opposition to capital punishment.

Dr. King fought and ultimately gave his life for the values I believe in, the values that should define this nation, though they often do not.  Dr. Martin Luther King was a hero of his time … thank you, Dr. King, for all you did, for the values you gave this nation, and for the hope you instilled in us all that your dream will someday come true.

[1] (Kendi, 2016)   stamped

2nd Amendment Run Amok

You’ve most likely heard about the big gun rally planned at the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond on Monday, but perhaps you don’t know all the who, why, and what-for of it.

Why?

You mean, apart from the fact that a handful of gun nuts care more about their right to own an arsenal than they care about their own children?  Well, pull up a chair, my friends.  After the 2018 elections when both chambers of the Virginia legislature flipped from a republican majority to a democratic one, one of the priorities was to pass some meaningful gun legislation.  Now, it wasn’t as if they were banning assault weapons, or taking away people’s guns.  The proposed legislation has only three parts:

Two things should be noted … First, 80% of the people in this country support gun regulations such as these, and Second, these are only common-sense measures … nothing that requires gun owners to give up their currently-owned guns, nothing that stops people from buying guns … simple, common-sense measures that might actually save a few lives.

But …

A group calling themselves ‘Virginia Citizen’s Defense League’, a misnomer if ever I’ve heard one, has taken umbrage.  And thus, they are planning a rally at the State Capitol that has attracted the riff-raff and gun-toting scum in and outside of the state.  The rally has drawn the attention of militia groups from as far away as Nevada and Oklahoma, including those tracked by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League.

Others vowing to attend include individuals associated with the Light Foot Militia, some of whom were banned from Charlottesville after the “Unite the Right” rally in 2017, which ended in the death of a counterprotester. Richard B. Spencer, a prominent white nationalist who is among 24 defendants in a lawsuit over the rally in Charlottesville, also said he might attend.

So far, Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam has declared a ‘state of emergency’ and banned guns from the capitol building and grounds, and the FBI has arrested three neo-Nazis linked to the ‘Base’, a group that aims to create a white ethnostate.  Chatter picked up on Facebook and in chat rooms by the FBI indicates that various extremist organizations are calling Monday’s rally the “boogaloo.” In the lexicon of white supremacists, that is an event that will accelerate the race war they have anticipated for decades.

These people, folks, do NOT represent the population of the United States.  They are an extreme minority, and yet …

“They are fanning the flames for this event.  They want chaos.”

The three bills will almost certainly pass the legislature, and Governor Northam has already promised to sign them into law, and yet these gun-loving people (and I use the term ‘people’ loosely here) are determined to bring chaos into the capitol.  If I had to guess, I would guess there will be violence and there will be injuries, if not deaths.

Let me quote for you the text, word for word, of that 2nd Amendment they so love …

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Twenty-seven words.  Nowhere does it say that every household should have the right to own a gun.  Nowhere does it say that people have the right to own high-powered, automatic weapons that can mow down hundreds within minutes.  Nowhere does it say that people have a right to keep an arsenal in their garages.  The framers’ language was vague, but their intent was not.  Their intent was not for John Doe to have the right to carry a gun into the grocery store and start shooting, nor for a family in the suburbs to keep a loaded pistol in their home.  People have so broadly interpreted this that any law that has the word “firearm” in it automatically riles the gun-lovers.  If I were given the task of making revisions to update the Constitution, the 2nd Amendment and the electoral college would be on the chopping block.

Now, to add insult to injury, the fool that sits in the Oval Office felt a need to ring in on the subject.  Now, as president, he might have used his office to call for calm, to call for the rally to be canceled, or to urge people to keep the protest peaceful, right?  But noooooo … he tweeted …

“Your 2nd Amendment is under very serious attack in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia. That’s what happens when you vote for Democrats, they will take your guns away. Republicans will win Virginia in 2020. Thank you Dems!”

This from the so-called “president” of a nation of 330 million people.  Keep your eye on Virginia tomorrow, my friends, because this may well be a harbinger of things to come.