STOP The World … I Wanna Get Off!

(Note to Readers:  I had already finished this post when I realized what day it is … gasp … Wednesday … good people day!  I am too exhausted tonight to spend 4 hours or so working up another post, so ‘good people’ will be pushed back one day and will appear right here on Thursday morning.  My apologies.)


Just when you think it can’t get any crazier, any more chaotic … it does.  You know it’s gotten bad when you read that the human species will become extinct soon and you breathe a sigh of relief and hope it’s tomorrow.

I no longer know if I’m being snarky or just outright ranting, so I didn’t call this post Snarky Snippets, but it is some cross, some combination of snarky & rant.  Hmmm … maybe I should come up with a new category … Snark & Rant.


The shape of things to come …

From the Moorhead, Minnesota police department …

Schumacher

Joseph Schumacher

On Monday, October 7, 2019, at approximately 12:08 pm, officers were dispatched to the area of 24 Ave and 8 St S. for a disturbance call. The female caller stated she was driving southbound in the 1000 block of 8 St S when the suspect pulled up next to her and rolled his window down. The male began yelling at the female expressing his dislike for the political bumper sticker the female had displayed on her car. He then pointed to his bumper sticker and further expressed his difference in national political views. The male eventually continued past the victim’s vehicle, and once in front of her, he held up a handgun inside his vehicle.

Officers were able to locate the suspect in a nearby business. After seeing a box for a handgun in plain view inside the suspect’s vehicle, officers found a loaded handgun in the center console during a further search. A passenger in the suspect vehicle also confirmed the actions of the suspect driver.

Joseph Schumacher, age 27, of West Fargo, was booked in the Clay County Jail on two counts of Felony Terroristic Threats and Misdemeanor charges for having a loaded handgun inside a vehicle without a permit.

He is a Trump supporter, she was sporting an Elizabeth Warren bumper sticker.  I fear that given the increased venom and vitriol in Trump and his supporters’ rhetoric these days, we are going to see a lot more of these incidents until that inevitable day when …


Death of the innocent

My friend Carolyn lives in a very rural area just outside of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, in the Smoky Mountains.  Like me, she is a lover of nature and a lover of all critters, large and small.  Two days ago she posted this on Facebook …

“It’s days like this (very rare) that make me hate Appalachia. Some #$%& drove by and shot a young tame doe and her baby in my front yard and left them lying there together dead. The little doe had raised the fawn close to my house. I saw them every morning and evening.

If anyone knows who did this, tell me and I will report it so they will get in serious trouble. Thanks for any help.”

Speaks for itself, doesn’t it?  😢


Two thumbs up for da judge

On Monday, Judge Victor Marrero of Federal District Court in Manhattan ruled against Trump, dismissing a lawsuit that had been filed by Trump seeking to block a subpoena for eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns.  A win for the good guys, but the best part was how the judge stated his decision.  The judge said Mr. Trump’s lawyers were, in essence, arguing that the president, along with his family, associates and companies, were above the law.

“This court finds aspects of such a doctrine repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values …”

Hooray … finally somebody understands that Trump cannot, must not be allowed to be above the law.  Of course, Trump’s attorneys, knowing full well what the verdict would be, already had their appeals ready, so for now … no tax returns.  I reiterate what I have said time and time again:  if there is nothing to hide, then what’s the big deal?  Obviously, there is something very serious being hidden, for them to go to so much trouble.


Where are the courageous?

Gordon Sondland, the United States’ ambassador to the European Union, had been expected to testify yesterday morning as part of the expanding impeachment probe by three House committees related to Trump’s efforts to press Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.  Notice I said, “had been expected”.  Trump forbade Sondland to testify, and Sondland, apparently unable to find his cojones, caved.  He did not have to … he could have defied Trump & Co, gone right on up to the Capitol and given some honest answers.  Instead, he cowed in the face of Trump’s bombast.

Wouldn’t it be nice if he, or any republican in Congress, stood up to Trump and said, “There comes a point in every person’s life where they have to make a choice between doing what’s right or wrong, and that time has come for me.  I will do what I believe is right, even though there may be consequences.  I will put my country before my own self-interest.”?

I have to ask … is there one single republican in Congress with the guts, the courage to do what’s right and put this nation ahead of their slavish devotion to Trump, damn the consequences?  I think we have the biggest bunch of wusses and wimps on the right-hand side of the aisle on Capitol Hill that I have ever seen.  Gordon Sondland should be at home sucking his thumb and cuddling his dolly if this is the best he can do … we need some people with integrity and strength in our government, not a bunch of cowards.

In light of Sondland’s cowardice, Democrats have subpoenaed Sondland for his testimony and documents that they say are being withheld by the State Department. The subpoena demands those documents be turned over by October 14th, and that Sondland sit for a deposition on October 16th before three congressional panels.

Then later yesterday, White House lawyers called the impeachment investigation “illegitimate” and “constitutionally invalid” and said they will block any and all cooperation with the ongoing inquiries and investigations.

THEY CAN’T DO THIS!!!

Except … they can if nobody will stop them.  Who will stop them?  Will the republicans in Congress finally wake to the fact that Trump is rapidly escalating his position to that of a dictator?  Will they finally hold Sondland and others accountable by giving them a nice cozy jail cell where they can have plenty of time to think about their actions?  Will they finally provide the oversight that is mandated by the Constitution of the United States?  Will the Courts keep up the pressure, and as Judge Marrero did, say “No, the president is NOT above the law”?  Will the trumpeters out there in La-La-Land finally wake up and see what they have wrought?

If none of the above happen, people … if Trump is allowed to virtually render the impeachment investigations dead in the water, then we have lost any semblance of a free nation, we will have become a dictatorship.


Every day seems to get crazier and crazier.  I miss having a government I can trust, miss going to bed at night feeling that at least my corner of the world is in capable hands.  I want this crazy world to stop, just let me off, let me find a quiet corner, find some peace, sleep without night terrors.

🇬🇧 The Brexit Conundrum — Colette’s View

Yesterday, I shared Roger’s guest post, his views and thoughts on the current state of the United Kingdom in the age of Brexit.  As promised, today I am sharing our friend Colette’s thoughts and views.  Thank you, Colette, for helping us to understand just a little bit better what is happening in your country and how you came to be where you are.


How to describe the mess in UK politics?

One word – Brexit!

OK that is self-explanatory but doesn’t really address the issues. While the history of our troubled partnership in the EU goes back much further, today’s Brexit hinges on David Cameron’s term as the Conservative prime minister. In 2013, Cameron approached the EU with a series of issues he wanted resolved to ensure that Britain wasn’t being used as just a revolving door of finance and payouts and basically a drop-in zone for every migrant wanting to take advantage of Britain’s free health care, and family benefits. He promised the UK taxpayer, in his ‘Bloomberg Speech’ that he would succeed in getting certain concessions (a boast to intimidate EU leaders that he would later regret), or he would give the general public, a referendum on an ‘in’ or ‘out’ vote on EU membership. I have simplified what he asked for, and what he got here…

  1. “Limit the access of union workers newly entering its labour market to in-work benefits for a total period of up to four years from the commencement of employment” The EU allowed for a one year only period. Cameron felt that supposed migrant workers freely flowing into Britain, were quickly finding ways to go straight onto Britain’s social benefits programs, with payouts for unemployment, and accommodation and living expenses for each member of the family. It was becoming a huge taxpayer burden

  2. Cameron wanted UK left out of financial ‘bailouts’ for other EU countries in the Euro zone or beyond it. As the UK kept the British pound, it felt it had never signed up to the financial solidarity with other EU countries. Cameron won this point.

  3. Working time directives come straight from Brussels. The UK wanted autonomy on setting working times for doctors, etc. Cameron failed to get this. The EU insists on setting all work hours, etc.

  4. The 2015 Conservative manifesto said, “If an EU migrant’s child is living abroad, then they should receive no child benefit, no matter how long they have worked in the UK and no matter how much tax they have paid.” Cameron did not want to pay benefits to EU workers for their dependent children if they lived in another EU country. Britain’s benefit payments were much higher than in other Member States. While he fought for Britain not to have to pay for the (often) large dependent families abroad, he won only the concession to pay them the equivalent of their home country benefit plans, but on a four-year sliding scale that would eventually bring them up to the UK payment rates after four years anyway.

  5. There was an issue with sham marriages (for people to get in to the UK). I actually heard about a few of these bogus cases from a lawyer friend of mine who works for the Home Office. The cases were truly shocking … and these people are difficult to deport. They were not just from the EU, but from all sorts of countries. Cameron wanted EU legislation to stop it. He got a bit of rhetoric, but in essence, nothing has changed from the EU perspective.

  6. An agreement that if, proportionately speaking, 55 percent of national EU parliaments object to a piece of EU legislation “within 12 weeks” the Council Presidency will hold a “comprehensive discussion” on the objections raised and “discontinue the consideration of the draft legislative… unless the draft is amended to accommodate the concerns expressed in the reasoned opinions”. (p13 of draft agreement). Cameron sort of got a part concession on this but in reality, it doesn’t happen. Brussels is in firm control, and other Member States don’t have a lot of sway.

  7. “It is recognised that the United Kingdom, in the light of the specific situation it has under the treaties, is not committed to further political integration into the European Union.” It also promises to incorporate this in the EU treaties next time they are opened. Donald Tusk gave this concession to the UK on an ‘Ever Closer Union.’ The EU continues to squeeze its member States into full and uncompromised adherence of Brussels dictates. Britain does not want to be drawn in on ever increasing EU political dominance.

  8. “To seek increased powers to bolster UK defences to “stop terrorists and other serious foreign criminals who pose a threat to our society from using spurious human rights arguments to prevent deportation.” This was intended as a method to bring forward a defendant’s’ related past history in terrorism trials. The legislation remained unchanged by Brussels. Past history could not be used.

  9. Cameron wanted member States to be able to hold on to their own currencies and not be forced into using the ‘Euro,’ but won no concessions on this. (My take on this is that if Greece had been allowed to move away from the Euro, huge bailouts would not have been necessary. Basically, Germany does very well on its exports as the Euro creates a level playing field with much poorer nations. If it used the Deutschmark as currency its exports would fail as too expensive for anyone else. It wants all its member States to use the Euros currency).

David Cameron did not get what he wanted, so he decided, in the face of his critics that he would take it to the people with the promised Referendum.

He never, in a million years thought that the vote in his conciliatory referendum would be ‘to leave.’ It shocked all of Parliament, not to mention the media.

The press and a lot of politicians believe that people didn’t understand that they would be leaving without any deal. I don’t really think that is true. It was a simple yes or no vote.

Why did the majority vote to leave? A number of issues do bother Brits. Our fishing industry collapsed as a result mostly of Spanish trawlers, but French too, coming into our waters and depleting the fish stocks to decimated numbers. Just this last month a huge East European Super Trawler has been seen in British waters off the South Coast. This thing is huge and drags nets 600 x 200 metres in size, through our waters, taking everything. Our fishermen are beside themselves with fury over this. Many years of trying to get fish stocks to recover are shot to hell as the Super Trawler takes everything in one fell swoop and then moves on to other waters. We have no power to stop this.

EU rules dictate a lot of things to how UK farms are run. There are farmers on both sides of the ‘in’ or ‘out’ debate, dependent largely on where their export market lies. Certainly, British farmers spent hundreds of thousands of pounds to gear their operations to EU dictates. All vegetables and fruits must be of a standardised size which is quite ridiculous. Anything smaller or bigger, has to find a different export market, be fed to animals or simply go to waste. And, we cannot for instance, stop ‘Live Exports’ of animals (a particularly gruesome experience for animals in journeys of days in cramped lorries all over Europe and beyond) as the EU dictates animals must be able to ship over EU borders without hindrance. Britain has already said that it will stop all live export when it leaves the EU (and will address the issues of the super trawlers too). Some manufacturers who export mostly outside the EU, want to leave, while those who rely on export to EU countries don’t. There are a few people (mainly the unemployed) in Northern counties who saw a migrant workforce (many Polish) taking lower pay for agricultural jobs. The disenchanted amongst them see immigration as changing traditional English values and taking jobs. They are a small number who feel this way, but the press coverage certainly portrayed immigration as a major sticking point (mainly with the fires of the anti-immigration rhetoric fanned by Nigel Farage).

The UK has become strong in the Service sector which is also true of Eire and that is directly a result of EU membership. American companies, like Google and Amazon use the footholds of the UK and Eire to do business within the EU block. If we leave the EU, there will be a few companies who move elsewhere to gain a better advantage.

On the positive side of staying in the EU. There is free movement across all EU countries, there is no border control on goods and there are no additional import taxes. Goods can travel freely to any member state. Britain does export to member states but only imports a portion of its goods from member states. The vast majority of goods come from other places. Also, people from any EU country can cross country borders with full autonomy (and without passport controls once arrived on the European mainland and within EU borders). People can travel freely and participate in the education system and find jobs in the EU block without penalty.

Of course, Cameron was a coward and walked away, resigning after the referendum decision, sighting that he did not believe in separating from the EU so could not negotiate it.

Meanwhile, in the Labour opposition Party, things were not too rosy. Jeremy Corbyn had been elected as leader after the resignation of Ed Milliband when David Cameron won a second term as Prime Minister in 2015. Corbyn was an extreme hard leftist totally unlike Blair, Brown and Milliband predecessors who were centre left. The party almost had a meltdown as the cabinet was made up from backbenchers who reflected the hard left model. Some MP’s disappeared altogether, having lost their seats (like the former, rather likeable, Ed Balls, the former shadow chancellor). The party itself, even today is very split on issues, including Brexit. They are also beset with some rather contentious racist extremism which they are having a tough time stamping out with a leader who refuses to do anything much about it. Corbyn also initially supported Brexit but is now soft peddling his own game of resistance in the hopes that he will become Prime Minister in the next election. He is rattling the cage, but he does not have full support of his own party, nor of every traditional labourite voter. He sways all over the place on his decision making, leaving supporters frustrated.

Both Labour and the Conservatives have lost elected members of Parliament to other political parties or to become independent Members of Parliament with no affiliation. This further dilutes the vote and the next election is unlikely to elect a clear winner.

There are lots of issues about Brexit that are too numerous to go into (needs a book), but Teresa May took over from David Cameron and despite her position as a ‘remainer’ she tried to deliver Brexit with the best of both worlds. To give us back some autonomy over our laws while remaining in a free trade agreement in ‘The Single Market’ exchange of goods. This operates within the EU ‘Customs Union,’ a block of countries who agree on the political rules and trade rules and taxation, etc., but Britain is negotiating to leave the Customs Union while maintaining a relationship in the ‘Single Market,’ for free movement of our exports and imports. This is ‘the deal’ and meant to keep the movement of people and goods open.

The EU have played hard ball with us. They do not like making concessions that may set up precedents for other member States to try to get similar ‘special treatment.’ They have basically always said ‘rules is rules and we will not break them for one member-state.’ However, at the same time, they do not want to lose a large financial partner like Britain. Despite its tiny geographical size, Britain has a large GDP output making it one of the wealthiest states. The EU membership fees are commensurate with the financial state of each member. So small members like Eastern bloc countries, Greece, etc, pay a much smaller amount in fees, but receive equal portions of distributed benefits.

So, our exit deal (and God knows what it is as we have never really got a good look at it) has been turned down in an increasingly fractious, divided Parliament which is tearing itself asunder over lies, misinformation and some whipped up fever by the ever-speculative media.

The main sticking point is the Irish Backstop. This seems to have most Brits kerfuzzled, let alone anyone abroad. My sister (a staunch Labour supporter all her life) didn’t know what it meant (and is probably still confused).

Basically, Northern Ireland is part of the UK and operates under UK laws and jurisdictions. Southern Ireland, or Eire, is autonomous and independent as a country since the 1916 Easter uprising that saw the division of the North and South and separation from British Rule. We had a long period known as ‘The Troubles’ which resulted in a lot of bloodshed in Northern Ireland. The IRA (Irish Republican Army) also set some of its bombing targets on the UK mainland with consequent casualties in cities. I won’t go into all that (messy religion and politics) but essentially, in 1998, the Good Friday agreement for peace was signed, mostly putting a stop to the fractious behaviour between Irish Catholics and Irish/British Protestants. The border between the Irish countries, was open for free movement and British soldiers disappeared from the various border checks. And along with that, the bombing and killing stopped. Clicking on this link will take you to an interactive map with all the border points and the documented violence.

The Irish Backstop (the reintroduction of customs checks either on a hard, or soft border) in the Brexit agreement is a real threat to keeping the Peace Accord in place. The EU will not allow a ‘deal’ that does not put a customs border in place to stop the transfer of goods between Northern Ireland and Eire so they want border checks on goods (like live sheep that might move from Northern Ireland to Eire). No one but the EU wants this.

Boris Johnson has said Northern Ireland will come out of the Customs Union (along with the UK) but will retain the right to govern its own ‘single market’ agreement with the EU and can revisit it every 4 years. This does not get around the problem with the EU wanting border checks.

It isn’t a huge change, but it puts the control of the outcomes of any borders in the hands of a Northern Ireland. It has made the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, happy. It has not made the Prime Minister of Eire happy. Nor has it made Corbyn happy, so there will be more fighting in Parliament ahead. The EU have seen this as slightly positive moving forward on Brexit negotiations but are not really saying whether they approve of it in its entirety at this point in time. And time is running out.

There are plenty of backstories about the Characters of Johnson and Corbyn, but basically, both are pretty narcissistic and belligerent people. Other political characters are narcissistic and belligerent too, including Farage and his centre right Brexit Party. Richard Braine, leader of the failing far right Ukip party (previously led by Nigel Farage, but having become a racist party, he stepped away from it) is not a real contender.

Corbyn and Labour is now making noises that they would support a second ‘Brexit’ referendum.

The young Jo Swinson, leader of the centrist Liberal party, who is absolutely against Brexit on any level is also fighting with a minority, though growing number of Voters. She will keep Britain in the EU.

The hard-left Green Party, led by Siân Berry and Jonathan Bartley is gaining momentum but unlikely to make majority gains. It is usually quite low on voter choices. They generally are currently fighting on Environmental platform and will also call for a second referendum on Brexit.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) led by Nicola Stergeon, wants to stay in the EU, but is also fighting for Scotland to become Independent, breaking the 400-Yr union with England.

The Welsh Assembly have generally indicated that it will go with a deal to leave the EU, but it has concerns about a no-deal Brexit.

There are many who would prefer not to leave the EU for a variety of personal reasons, but even many former remainers are now committed to leaving as the road back looks quite fraught with problems. Not least of them is the fact that if (and it is an ‘if’) the EU takes us back as a member, we will lose much of our bargaining power, and we can never trigger an article 50 mandate to leave at any time in the future. We will have shot our one arrow and missed spectacularly. I don’t think the EU will ever give us enough rope again that we can hang ourselves with.

If we do exit the EU, and worst-case scenario, with no deal, the country will go to an election. That will not have a clear-cut outcome.

And there, you have it. Clear as mud!

Brits will survive without an EU partnership, but it won’t be easy. Companies who use the UK for services to connect them to the EU will go elsewhere, but despite some initial hardships, and needing to resource import supplies from other non-EU countries, the UK will rebound, its currency will not suffer for long, and it will remain as a place full of hard working people as it always has been. We just have to be self-sufficient, and that isn’t the end of the world.

Britain leaving the EU with a deal, will at least have some easier trading, but won’t have to follow EU politics, fiscal dictates, or tightening rules.

Britain remaining in the EU, will have to follow the tightening rules, pay even more into the ‘pot’ and I would not discount the idea that they would insist on us taking on the EU currency eventually.

Guilty As Charged!!!

The ultimate betrayal …

Donald Trump is now, in my book, if not officially, guilty of genocide.  He was already guilty of treason, having conspired with a foreign nation not one, but twice, in order to influence a U.S. election and to benefit himself, thereby putting our nation in grave danger.  And now he is guilty of the likely murders of potentially thousands of Kurds … Kurds who have long been our allies!  There are estimated to be between 1.4 million and 2.7 million Kurdish people — human beings — in Syria whose lives, thanks to Donald F. Trump, are now in jeopardy, as Turkey begins to implement its plan for a ground invasion of northern Syria.

What happened?  Trump had a phone call with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the president of Turkey.  We all know these days about Trump’s phone calls to foreign leaders, right?  Whether or not he asked Erdoğan to help dig up dirt on his political opponents is not known, but what is known is what he promised Erdoğan.  Very soon after the Monday morning phone call, the United States began withdrawing American troops from Syria’s border with Turkey.  Erdoğan has made no secret of the fact that he wishes to kill the Kurds, and the only thing standing in his way were U.S. troops in northern Syria.  Trump promised to step aside and let Erdoğan have at it.  The Kurds are … were … our allies, people!!!  Great friends we have proven to be, yes?  What next, Donnie?  You gonna bomb the UK?  Perhaps you’d like to send troops to overthrow the government of Germany?

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Not only did he betray an ally in the most horrific of ways, but he proved to the world, as if they didn’t already know, just how utterly stupid he is.  Take, for example, this tweet …

“As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!).”

First … what sort of bloomin’ eejit claims to have “great and unmatched wisdom”???  I really, really had to hold onto my hands to keep from throwing something when I read that.  And second, he has never obliterated the “Economy of Turkey”, unless he’s talking of the kind that make their way to the dining table on Thanksgiving!

One journalist, Richard Engel of NBC News, commented …

“’I, in my great and unmatched wisdom …?’  Who talks or writes like this?  The closest I can come up with was Qaddafi. Not Mubarak. Or Ben Ali. Or Assad, let alone any European leader.  Really can’t remember a current or recent example.”

Qaddafi.  Trump.  Two peas in a pod?

Surprisingly, even his republican cronies were aghast at his decision to stab our allies in the back.  EVEN MITCH MCCONNELL split with Trump on this issue, saying …

“A precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime. And it would increase the risk that ISIS and other terrorist groups regroup.”

Republican Senator Patrick Toomey from Pennsylvania rang in with …

“This betrayal of the Kurds will also severely harm our credibility as an ally the world over. President Trump should rethink this decision immediately.”

The bottom line is that Trump has made a disastrous decision on an issue of which he has zero understanding.  He does not have great and unmatched wisdom – he has the wisdom of a five-year-old.  He does not understand the Middle East at all.  And worst of all, he is once again pandering to an autocrat, just as he has in the past to Putin, Kim, Bolsonaro and others.  His actions yesterday will have dire consequences, at the very least for our allies, the Kurds, and quite possibly for the entire globe.

And speaking of betrayal …

Now, transitioning to another story here, Lindsey Graham, that ignoble Senator from South Carolina, also spoke against Trump’s foolhardiness in pulling our troops out of Syria at this moment, saying …

“By abandoning the Kurds we have sent the most dangerous signal possible — America is an unreliable ally and it’s just a matter of time before China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea act out in dangerous ways. No matter what President Trump is saying about his decision. It is EXACTLY what President Obama did in Iraq with even more disastrous consequences for our national security.”

Strong words for a republican senator, eh?  Taking the right side for once in his life, yes?  But wait … Senator Graham had something else to say on another topic …

Lindsey-Graham-2“Here’s what’s going to happen: if the whistleblowers’ allegations are turned into an impeachment article it’s imperative that the whistleblower be interviewed in public, under oath, and cross-examined. If that doesn’t happen in the House, I’ll make sure it happens in the Senate.”

This … this essentially amounts to signing a death warrant for the whistleblowers and would ensure that nobody … nobody … would ever again come forward with the sort of information that our government officials may be attempting to bury to suit their own purposes.

There are laws that protect those people who come forward with information that is deemed illegal, unethical, or not correct within a private or public organization.  Is Lindsey Graham planning to break those laws?  Does he see himself, as Trump sees himself, as being above the law?  And, is this a threat that he hopes will keep the House from following through with the impeachment proceedings?  Impeachment proceedings that, I might add, are long overdue.

It seems to me that there are a heck of a lot of people within the Republican Party who wish to break down the very foundations of our government, and they don’t care how they do it.  Now, admittedly there are some less-than-stellar people in the Democratic Party as well, but … today, the republicans win the honour of being the biggest jackasses in the nation.


Note to readers:  Stay tuned for the next installment of ‘The Brexit Conundrum’ where we will hear Colette’s views at 3:00 p.m. EDT, 8:00 p.m. BST.

Still waiting for Republican spine

Our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters has been eavesdropping on my conversations between Me, Myself and I … only he has somehow made it sound humorous, whereas my own sound dark and foreboding. Good post, Jeff … you managed to combine humour and despair, light and dark, and did it well. Ever think about doing standup comedy? Seriously, though … thanks Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

Mark Twain once said, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence of fear.” The failure of Congressional Republicans to show the kind of courage America so desperately needs, while the leader of their party runs roughshod over our democracy, is one of the most challenging dilemmas of our time.

So perplexing in fact, that I’ve found myself talking … to myself. That’s right, after nearly four years since Donald Trump entered the political arena, I’ve now become a blithering fool. I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this. But, I guess the subconscious of my soul could only take so much.

I’m about to share some of these conversations—with myself—that occurred over the last couple of days as I walked and jogged with my two four-legged canine buddies in our Great Pacific Northwest backyard. They say admitting to one’s insanity is a significant first step. So, here it…

View original post 1,049 more words

Corporate Profits Over Life?

There is yet more evidence that corporate profits matter more than life in the U.S.  Last November one of the issues on the California ballot was Proposition 12.  In a nutshell, Proposition 12, the Prevention of Cruelty to Farm Animals Act …

“…  outlaws the most extreme forms of animal confinement throughout the Golden State. Once it’s implemented, egg-laying hens, baby calves raised for veal, and mother pigs will no longer be confined in cages. Additionally, all eggs, veal, and pork sold in the state will meet this standard.”

Some 60% of voters approved the measure, and it was signed into law.  The Humane Society of the United States backed the measure, while People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals opposed it, saying it did not go far enough.

However, the meat industry claims that it violates the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause by requiring out-of-state producers to comply with California’s rules or face a sales ban. The North American Meat Institute, whose members include processors such as Tyson Foods, Cargill, Smithfield Foods, and retailers including Wal-Mart, Chipotle, Target, and Whole Foods, said enforcing Proposition 12 would hurt producers and consumers by significantly increasing their costs.  And so, on Friday they filed a lawsuit (isn’t that the answer to everything these days?) in Los Angeles federal court seeking an injunction against the sales ban targeting out-of-state veal and pork.

The law, if enforced, would …

  • Prevent egg-laying hens, breeding pigs, and veal calves from being housed inhumanely in small cages for their entire lives.
  • Reduce the risk of people being sickened by food poisoning and factory farm pollution by preventing overcrowding of animals in small spaces.

It would also likely cost producers more to comply, and thus raise the consumer prices for eggs, pork and veal, for we all know that companies like Tyson and Wal-Mart aren’t going to eat a single penny of that increased cost but will pass it on to consumers.

My take?  Thanks for asking … if these producers cannot treat the animals humanely, then they can go out of business for all it matters.  People should eat less pork and veal anyway, and fewer eggs as well.  We would all be healthier.  I’m sick and tired of the big corporations putting their profit ahead of lives, whether human, animal, plant, or the planet.  And speaking of the planet …

CaliforniaCalifornia seems to consistently be ahead of the pack on trying to improve such things as the environment, human and animal welfare, etc.  California has the strictest emissions standards in the nation for autos and trucks, and recently the state worked with auto makers to maintain those standards, but last month Trump & Co revoked the state’s authority to set state-level standards.  Why?  Because Trump & Co are in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry.  Higher emission standards like California’s mean the oil companies will sell less fuel and … GASP … may lose some of their multi-billion dollar profits!  ¡Ay, pobrecitos!

But then … wait for it … the Environmental Protection Agency last week followed up with letters to California that threatened to wield rarely used provisions of environmental law to withhold federal funding from the state if it did not take specific steps to clean its air and water!  That’s what they were trying to do, for Pete’s sake!!!

Legal experts say this amounts to weaponizing environmental laws intended not only to undermine California’s liberal government but to send a message to other states that might defy Trump.

The Clean Air Act specifically offered states the ability to set their own environmental standards if Washington grants them a waiver.  This move infringes on states’ rights, is a threat to the very principle of states’ rights.

Andrew-Wheeler

Andrew Wheeler

Andrew Wheeler, who now heads the EPA, worked in the law firm Faegre Baker Daniels, representing coal magnate Robert E. Murray and lobbying against the Obama Administration’s environmental regulations.  Conflict of interest???  It seems to me that under Wheeler, just as under Pruitt before him, the Environmental Protection Agency is doing the exact opposite of protecting the environment!

Are we to sit quietly while big corporations and Trump’s gang of thugs abuse animals and destroy the air we breathe, the water we drink, and everything else under the sun only for the sake of lining their own pockets?  Think about it.

An interview with Putin in 2035

Apocalypse Now? Our friend Keith has stated what I’ve only had the nerve to whisper under my breath. Please read!

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Good morning. This is Natalia Smirnov with Fox/ RT News. I am here with Tsar Vladimir Putin in the first of a series of interviews looking back on his career. Good morning Comrade Tsar.

Q – Comrade Tsar, what do you see as your greatest achievement?
A – I believe the reconstitution of the New Soviet Republic. We are once again a country of great importance.

Q – What were the key events leading to this ascension?
A – Clearly, the fall of a united west was most critical, but that took a lot of planning. I also believe our alliance with China helped show the world that we are the future.

Q – You mention a lot of planning, what do you mean by that?
A – It took proactive and reactive planning to accomplish our goals without using military might. My training allowed us to take advantage of…

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Bursting The 25th Amendment Bubble …

I have been asked numerous times of late about the possibility of using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.  Folks, believe me when I tell you that I want the madman gone just as much as you do, but I’m not going to give you false hope.  The odds of the 25th being used to remove Trump are almost as good as the odds that I will sprout wings and fly.  I addressed this topic just over a year ago, but I think it’s time I revisit it, perhaps with a bit more detail.

The 25th Amendment, Section IV reads …

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

The Amendment was not intended in the first place to remove a president for cause, but to transfer power to the Vice President in the event that the president were truly incapacitated.  The mechanism for removing a president ‘for cause’, is impeachment.

Now, even if you wanted to stretch it a bit and try to use the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, and there is some justification there, for he proves every day that he is mentally unstable, and it could be argued that this often renders him “unable to discharge the powers and duties …” you still have to read that first sentence very closely.  “Whenever the vice president and a majority of … principal officers …”  By principal officers, it means the Cabinet.  I cannot see Mike Pence being willing to invoke the 25th, but even if he were, let us look at Trump’s cabinet for just a minute.

  1. Vice President – Mike Pence
  2. Secretary of State – Mike Pompeo
  3. Secretary of Treasury – Steven Mnuchin
  4. Secretary of Defense – Mike Esper
  5. Attorney General – William Barr
  6. Secretary of Interior – David Bernhardt
  7. Secretary of Agriculture – Sonny Perdue
  8. Secretary of Commerce – Wilbur Ross
  9. Secretary of Labour – Eugene Scalia
  10. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) – Alex Azar
  11. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – Ben Carson
  12. Secretary of Transportation – Elaine Chao (married to Mitch McConnell)
  13. Secretary of Energy – Rick Perry
  14. Secretary of Education – Betsy DeVos
  15. Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs – Robert Wilkie
  16. Secretary of Homeland Security (acting) – Kevin McAleenan
  17. White House Chief of Staff – Mick Mulvaney
  18. Director of the Office of Management and Budget – Mick Mulvaney
  19. United States Trade Representative – Robert Lighthizer
  20. Director of National Intelligence (acting) – Joseph Maguire
  21. Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) – Gina Haspel
  22. Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – Andrew Wheeler
  23. Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA) – Chris Pilkerton
  24. Ambassador to the United Nations – Kelly Craft

Now, you all know at least something about most of these individuals.  I’ve written at least a time or two about most of them.  Four – Bernhardt, Perry, Wheeler, and Craft – have close ties to the fossil fuel industry.  Pompeo and Barr have both proven to us that they sold their souls downriver and are willing to break the law in favour of Trump.  And others, such as DeVos, got their position as a reward for donating large amounts to Trump’s 2016 campaign.  These are not nice, honest people of integrity … they are self-serving people hanging onto Trump’s coattails because there is something in it for them.

I look at the list, and I see five, maybe six of the 24 who either I don’t know much about, or who I believe may have enough of a conscience to be willing to put themselves in the line of fire in order to do the right thing.  Five or six out of 24 does not constitute a majority, folks.

I’m sorry to burst that bubble … I know how badly you need hope right now, for I need it too.  But, what we don’t need is false hope.  Amendment 25 simply ain’t gonna happen in the foreseeable future.  Now, that could change down the road, but for today, for this week, next week … no, it’s not even worth wasting time thinking about.  Our best hope at this point is impeachment.  Focus on that … focus on contacting your senators and representatives and letting them know that you support impeachment and that you want/expect them to uphold the rule of law.  That is where our best hope lies for today.

Yes, Virginia … There Are Still More Snarky Snippets

The best fiction writer in the world couldn’t have made this one up … and by ‘this one’, I mean all the back-and-forth, all the ranting, the lies, the deflections and obfuscations that have become the ‘norm’ in our government of late, and especially the past two weeks.  Whew … I don’t know about you guys, but I’m both exhausted and depressed as hell.  Can’t somebody just lock Trump up in a room without his tweety-machine for just one day and give us a chance to catch our breath?  But, of course, it isn’t only Trump, but his minions as well.


Trump and Xi – you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours?

Already under intense scrutiny over his attempt to bully and blackmail Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy in order to enlist Zelenskyy’s assistance in digging up non-existent dirt on presidential hopeful, Joe Biden, Trump had the unmitigated gall to then call on China to also investigate Biden!  In front of the press, nonetheless!  Boy, he must really be afraid of Joe is all I can say. I’m curious … what’s he going to do when, as I believe will happen, Elizabeth Warren overtakes Biden in the polls?  Never mind … I don’t even want to think about it.

Anyway, there’s another angle to this story.  Now that it’s been discovered that a number of Trump’s phone calls with foreign leaders had been moved to a server where few knew of them, things are beginning to come to the public eye.  One of those things is a phone call that Trump had in June with Xi Jinping, the president of the People’s Republic of China.  In that phone call, Trump promised Xi that he, and by extension the U.S., would remain silent about the Hong Kong protests, and he also just happened to mention not only Joe Biden, but also Elizabeth Warren.  I have not seen the transcript of the call, so I don’t know the context, but … why would he even mention them?  When questioned about it, so-called White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham responded …

“World leaders need to be able to speak freely in their conversations with the President–that is a key component to effective diplomacy. And that is why such conversations are kept confidential. We are not going to start discussing the contents of every conversation President Trump has with world leaders, other than to say his conversations are always appropriate.”

Oh, wait just a moment, Ms. Never-Speaks-To-The-Press Secretary … I think we will discuss whatever We the People deem is important to discuss.  Trump is already on the wrong side of the law … that law that he claims doesn’t apply to him because he’s “got that Article II”.  Oh yes, we will discuss why U.S. officials have been banned from supporting pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.  And we will discuss why a so-called president is discussing his campaign with the leader of a communist country!  We will, ultimately, demand to see a transcript of that phone call and others.

For the record, the U.S. should be fully supporting the Hong Kong protestors who are fighting for their democracy, fighting, in fact, for their lives.


Moscow Mitchie – still an asshole

Mitch McConnell, still recovering from a fall that broke his shoulder, is back in the saddle.  But, that didn’t stop him from running a new campaign ad on Facebook.  A snippet from that ad …

“Nancy Pelosi is in the clutches of a left-wing mob. They’ve finally convinced her to impeach the President. All of you know your Constitution. The way that impeachment stops is a Senate majority, with me as majority leader. Pelosi is obsessed with impeaching President Trump, and your conservative Senate Majority is the ONLY THING standing in her way. But I need your help. Please contribute before the deadline.”

A ‘left-wing mob’, eh?  So, according to Moscow Mitch, the man who has worked with Putin to undermine the democratic processes of our elections, the man who refuses to even consider election security measures, is calling We the People a ‘left-wing mob’.  Well, Mitchie … if you want, why don’t you just have every one of us arrested for being part of a mob?  Oh … because then we couldn’t work and thus couldn’t pay the taxes that pay yours and your wife’s salaries!

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr


Crazy women!

Donald Trump uses and abuses women.  He treats them like chattel and obviously thinks that the only purpose women serve is for the pleasure of a man.  There is plenty of evidence to support that statement.  Part of his campaign promise was that he would appoint to the Courts, judges who would not uphold women’s rights, ie., overturning Roe v Wade.  His nasty remark about women that was released in 2016 on the Access Hollywood video.  The fact that he has had three wives and cheated on every single one of them, including the current wife.  He has had numerous affairs, and paid off two women to buy their silence during his campaign three years ago.  He is a male chauvinist pig, and yet …

“According to the POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, fewer Republican women (7 percent) than Republican men (10 percent) support the impeachment inquiry. When asked whether Trump could, in theory, do something that would cause them to support impeachment, 44 percent of Republican men said yes. Only 33 percent of Republican women agreed.”

What a bunch of fools they are.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr


What an impression that must have made …

On Wednesday, Trump hosted Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö in the Oval Office.  As is typical with Trump, he went off on a tear and made a fool of himself, venting about Adam Schiff and other topics near and dear to his … whatever.  A couple of pictures capturing the look on Niinistö’s face tell the story.

Trump-Finnish-pres

What is this guy … a fruitcake?

Trump-Finnish-pres-2

Help?  Somebody?  I need to be rescued?  Oh why didn’t I stay home?

Trump-Finnish-pres-3

Get. Your. Hand. Off. My. Knee. Fatso.


The one good thing …

The one good thing to come of all this corruption and chaos is that the late-night talk show hosts are having a blast with it all.


Well, folks, I hope you’re enjoying your weekend and that my snarkiness and growling didn’t put a damper on it.  Have a great one.

Schiff and Pelosi strike the right tone

I did not catch the press conference with Speaker Pelosi and Representative Schiff on Wednesday, though I have read a bit about it and have seen a few clips about Trump ranting like a 2-year-old while the president of Finland looked on in either amusement or disgust. But, our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters did see it and this is his take on it. Thanks Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

After watching the press conference yesterday with Rep. Adam Schiff and Speaker Pelosi, I became a believer that things are getting serious. And not only did the press conference strike the right tone, but it made me realize that we need more of them.

I’ve been critical of Democratic leadership in recent days, and rightly so in my view. More often than not, when compared to President Trump’s bombastic and confrontational style, they’ve appeared weak and on the defensive. With the White House in pure panic mode, though, it seems the Democrats have found their voice. And it couldn’t have come at a more convenient time.

At times, both Pelosi and Schiff have gone out of their way not to appear partisan. They’ve always struck a cautionary tone when it comes to the prospect of impeachment. But after yesterday, it seems that the gloves are officially off. When you hear…

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But Will He Leave?

I’ve been doing a bit of thinking, my friends.  While today, it looks unlikely that the Senate will vote to convict Donald Trump of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ and boot him out of office, I suspect that as the impeachment investigations turn up more and more skeletons, some republican senators may begin to have second thoughts about throwing their lot in with Trump.  The end result, by somewhere around mid-February of next year, may well be that he is not only impeached, but tried and convicted in the Senate, and removed from office.  Granted, this isn’t a likelihood, but is nonetheless a possibility.

But … what if he digs in and says, “Hell no, I won’t go!”?  What then?  This is uncharted territory, friends … we’ve never before had a president who alluded to staying in office longer than his two terms … Trump has made that statement more than once.  We’ve never before had a president who was so paranoid that he couldn’t handle even the slightest criticism.  We’ve never before had such a bully, such a manipulator, in the Oval Office.

And the concern goes beyond the threat of impeachment and conviction.  What happens when he loses the election next November?  Does he, as every other president in the history of this nation has done, quietly pack up and move out of the White House on 20 January 2021?  I can’t picture it.  There are 77 days between the election on November 3rd and the inauguration of (hopefully) a new president the following January 20th.  How do you think Trump will spend those 77 days?  Protocol would demand that he spend the time briefing the incoming president, wrapping up loose ends, aiding in the transition, but I don’t think anybody with half a brain believes that Trump would spend his time following that protocol.

I am not alone in this line of thinking.

An article in yesterday’s Foreign Policy, titled The Tyrannical Mr. Trump, posits that even if Trump is impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate, he may well reject such a verdict as illegitimate.  A snippet from the article …

What were once only hints of anti-democratic tendencies have become clearer in recent weeks as news surfaced of Trump’s efforts to find dirt on Biden—allegedly holding Ukraine’s military aid hostage to this effort (and including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the call, as we’ve now learned). Trump appears to have ordered his administration—including, most recently, Pompeo—to defy congressional perquisites and subpoenas. He has insisted that he can do as he pleases and has abused any coherent interpretation of the Constitution, telling a crowd of young people in a July speech: “I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president.”

Most political analysts cringed last week when Trump tweeted …

“As I learn more and more each day, I am coming to the conclusion that what is taking place is not an impeachment, it is a COUP, intended to take away the Power of the People, their VOTE, their Freedoms, their Second Amendment, Religion, Military, Border Wall, and their God-given rights as a Citizen of The United States of America!”

In 2016, Donald Trump waffled over whether he would accept the election results if he lost. Since then, Trump has repeatedly joked about staying in office beyond the two terms the Constitution allows. Jerry Falwell Jr., Trump’s most prominent evangelical supporter, has suggested Trump should get two years tacked on to his first term as “pay back” for the Mueller investigation. The president’s own former lawyer, Michael Cohen, has warned that “there will never be a peaceful transition of power” should Trump fail in his reelection bid.

Some have argued that the fears are ludicrous, noting there are too many forces working against a sitting president simply clinging to power — including history, law and political pressure.  Ordinarily, I would agree.  Up until 3 years ago, I would have agreed wholeheartedly.  But, there is nothing ‘ordinary’ about these times or this ‘president’, and almost all of the norms have been shredded already.  The Constitution has been trampled many times over by Trump, with Congress and the Courts being only partly able to rein him in.

At a recent rally in Pennsylvania, Trump said …

“We ran one time and we’re 1-and-0. But it was for the big one. Now we’re going to have a second time. And we’re going to have another one. And then we’ll drive them crazy. And maybe if we really like it a lot — and if things keep going like they’re going — we’ll go and we’ll do what we have to do. We’ll do a three and a four and a five.”

The stuff that nightmares are made of.  So, what happens if Trump is put out of office, either by impeachment or the vote in 2020?  What happens if he refuses to go?  One political scientist argues that the courts would evict him … okay, sure, but how would they physically remove him from office?  Who’s going to do that?  Will the FBI bring a swat team and physically drag him from the White House?  Will D.C.’s Metro Police?  Or, will the military be the ones who physically remove him?  And, perhaps the bigger question is, once he is removed, what does this fiasco do to an already polarized nation?

If Donald Trump had any integrity, any loyalty to the nation, he would have already stepped down, as did Richard Nixon in 1974.  But, he has already shown us time and time again that he has neither integrity nor loyalty to country, that he is completely self-serving, that he believes himself to be a supreme leader, above the law.  It is my hope that if there are any sane heads left in our intelligence services and military, and I believe there are, they are already quietly making plans for dealing with this eventuality.  Meanwhile, life goes on here inside the Trump circus.