He Sure Can Pick ‘Em …

I’ve frequently written about Trump’s staff picks, for they all seem to be the most un-qualified people for the jobs they are assigned.  I mean, he hired Scott Pruitt, a man who had sued the EPA numerous times, to head the EPA!  He chose Betsy DeVos, a woman who doesn’t believe in public schools, to head the Department of Education! It doesn’t get much more buffoonish, does it?  Anyway, I haven’t written about any of his recent staff pics, but since a couple of them are cluttering up my radar screen, it seems a good time to do so!


Mark Morgan …

Typically, we wouldn’t pay much attention to a new Director of Ice (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), but in the era of Trump, we pay attention to things we never needed to before.  And so it was that Trump’s latest staff pick, Mark Morgan, flew across my radar.  Well, truth be told, he rather flopped onto it like a dying bird.

Mark-Morgan

Mark Morgan

The thing that brought Morgan flopping onto my radar screen was his claim that he can look into the eyes of a child and know if that child will grow up to be a criminal.  Say WHAT???  In an interview with Fox News’ resident moron Tucker Carlson, Morgan said …

“I’ve been to detention facilities where I’ve walked up to these individuals that are so-called minors, 17 or under. I’ve looked at them and I’ve looked at their eyes, Tucker — and I’ve said that is a soon-to-be MS-13 gang member. It’s unequivocal.”

Morgan likes to be on television … a lot.  In addition to at least three appearances on Tucker Carlson’s show, he has racked up more than 100 television appearances on other shows such as those of Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck.  He sure knows how to pick ‘em, yes?

Morgan was head of Border Patrol for the last four months of the Obama administration, but was almost immediately fired by Trump once he took office.  Perhaps solely on the basis that he had been hired by President Obama … we all know how jealous Trump is of anything with Obama’s name on it.  However, he has proven his worth to Trump by being a cheerleader for Trump’s ignominious border wall, and Fox News refers to Morgan as a former Obama administration official who “saw the light”.

Morgan has also applauded the administration’s policy for keeping immigrant children in cages, saying how wonderful it is that the cages were designed with the occupant’s safety in mind.  Seriously???

His nomination will have to be confirmed by the Senate, and that, believe it or not, is not a certainty.  Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Cory Gardner of Colorado, both of whom will be up for re-election next year, are treading softly on the issue of immigration, as they have come under fire from their constituents over the abominably cruel policy of separating children from their parents at the border.  Other republicans in the Senate have also expressed concerns, such as Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.  Let us hope that at least 5 of the 54 republican senators find a bit of a conscience and refuse to confirm this animal.  Of course, it won’t matter, for Trump will no doubt find another who is just as unacceptable.


Steve Dickson …

And then there is the position of FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) Administrator.  The purpose of the FAA in a nutshell is to regulate all aspects of civil aviation.  This includes airline safety.  Remember the Boeing crashes in recent months?

Steve-Dickson

Steve Dickson

For this crucial post, Trump has nominated Steve Dickson, a former Air Force fighter pilot who went on to become a commercial pilot for Delta, where he has worked for 27 years. Dickson retired as the company’s senior vice president for flight operations last year.  Okay, so he knows how to fly a plane, but frankly those ties to the airline industry seem a built-in conflict of interest to me.

Initially, Trump had planned to name his own personal pilot, an employee of Trump’s company, to head the FAA, but even senate republicans balked at that one.  So, last fall, Dickson stepped down from his position at Delta almost at the same time that Trump announced his decision to nominate him.

On the surface, there isn’t a lot to dislike, but … something is niggling at me.  Perhaps it is the fact that he just left Delta as a senior V.P. … it’s rather like having people in the interior department and the EPA with ties to the fossil fuel industry.  Inherent conflict of interest.

But perhaps the thing that is causing my antennae to twitch is that two days ago, Nicholas E. Calio, President and CEO of Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, sent a letter to Senators Roger Wicker and Maria Cantwell, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, calling for the quick approval of the nomination of Steve Dickson to serve as the next Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration.  I tend to twitch these days when somebody calls for “quick approval” … remember Brett Kavanaugh?

I would urge caution and research on the part of the Senate, but of course he will be confirmed hands down, in all likelihood, and no doubt quickly.  The FAA dropped the ball on holding Boeing to the industry standards when they rolled out their 737 MAX fleet, and as a result, 346 people died in two crashes within a few months of each other.  The U.S. was the last country to ground the MAX 8 after the second crash, once again putting corporate profit ahead of human lives.  We need to ensure that whoever heads the FAA is independent of Trump and able to stand against industry pressure for profit.  I’m not so sure Steve Dickson is that man.


This administration is looking more and more like a circus every day, but do you notice anything?  Take a look at this picture … granted, some of these are gone and have since been replaced, but you can still see what I’m driving at in this picture, and then look at the statistics chart at the bottom.

Trump-cabinet.png

He’s got his ‘token black (male)’ in Ben Carson, but Ben is … well, let’s just say he is a poor representation of his race.  And a smattering of women, but not nearly representative of the population of women, and as far as DeVos, I’m not convinced that she is a woman at heart.  Oh yeah, folks, we definitely have a racist, misogynistic bigot in the White House, and he is surrounding himself with people who look just like him.  Think about that.

Say WHAT???

My inbox this morning contained the latest column by one of my favourite journalists, Nicholas Kristof.  As I read his column, I was torn between rage and tears, disbelief and horror.  I present portions of that column, but you can read the entire column here

A Good Samaritan and the Border Patrol

A motorist may have saved a life when she stopped to help three desperate young adults. Then she was arrested.

Nicholas Kristof

By Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

The path to Teresa L. Todd’s arrest began when three desperate Central American migrants waved frantically at her car on a Texas highway one night in February.

At least one other car had hurtled by, afraid to stop. But for Todd, compassion overrode any fear. “I’m a mom,” explained Todd, who has two boys, ages 15 and 17. “And I see a young man who looked the same age and size as my younger son. And if my son was by the side of the road, I would want someone to help.”

Todd, a single mom who works as a lawyer for a city and county in West Texas, found three siblings: two brothers ages 20 and 22 and their sister, Esmeralda, 18. To escape violence, they fled their native El Salvador years ago and recently Guatemala, where friends were murdered and a gang leader wanted to make Esmeralda his “girlfriend.”

Teresa L. Todd was detained by Border Patrol agents after stopping her car to help a group of migrants in Texas. CreditJessica Lutz for The New York Times

Esmeralda was suffering from starvation, dehydration and a potentially fatal syndrome called rhabdomyolysis that can lead to kidney failure. Seeing that Esmeralda was very sick, Todd invited the migrants into her car to warm up, and she began frantically texting friends (including one who is a lawyer for the Border Patrol) for advice about getting Esmeralda medical attention.

A sheriff’s deputy pulled up behind Todd’s car, lights flashing, and a Border Patrol officer arrived shortly afterward. The officers detained Todd for three hours, confiscating her possessions and keeping her in a holding cell.

By stopping to help a stranger, Todd may have saved a life — but this also got her arrested.

“It was totally surreal,” Todd recalled. “Especially for doing what my parents taught me was right, and what I learned in church was right, which was helping people. So finding myself in a holding cell for that, it was hard to wrap my head around.”

Esmeralda was hospitalized for four days, and she and her siblings are now in ICE custody. Todd has not been charged with a crime so far, but the authorities seem to have been considering a federal indictment. I reached out to federal and local officials for comment; they did not respond.

Todd told me that she has no regrets. “I think it’s the right thing to help those in need,” she explained. “That’s what I learned from my parents. That’s what I learned in church.”

“This is all about trying to chill the willingness of people to help others,” Todd said. “A friend told me, ‘The other day, someone tried to flag me down by the side of the road and waved an empty water bottle, and I thought about what happened to you and didn’t stop.’”

Referring to Trump, Michele Bachmann, the former Republican congresswoman, recently said, “We will in all likelihood never see a more godly, biblical president again in our lifetimes.”

I thanked Todd for her humanity, and for helping save a life. She said her assistance had been instinctive.

“I’m simply a mom who saw a child in need and pulled over to try to help,” she said. “The whole time I was by the side of the road, I was thinking: What country am I in? This is not the United States.”

Image may contain: 1 person, crowd and outdoor

On Stripping The Rights Of Women …

Today I’m going to touch on a subject that is controversial, to say the least:  abortion.

A number of states, the most recent being Alabama, have recently passed highly restrictive and misogynistic abortion laws.  Anti-abortion evangelicals are patting themselves on the backs thinking, no doubt, that they have once again proven themselves the rulers over women’s bodies.  But make no mistake … these laws are only a tool.  The legislators and governors who have passed these laws are well aware that they don’t hold water, for when there is a conflict between federal and state law, federal law trumps state laws, no pun intended.

The federal law on abortion was established in 1973 with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Roe v Wade in which the Court ruled that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides a fundamental “right to privacy” that protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose whether or not to have an abortion.  It is not within the rights of the State of Alabama or the State of Georgia to change, ignore, or override that ruling.  Period.

So … why are they passing these ‘illegal laws’, you might ask.  Because … long story short, they are hoping for a lawsuit against them that will reach the Supreme Court.  And when it does, they are hoping, believing, that the Supreme Court will then use that lawsuit as a basis to overturn Roe v Wade.

One of Donald Trump’s campaign promises that gained him a large number of followers was that he would put justices on the Supreme Court that would overturn Roe v Wade.  It is an emotional issue that gained him the support of the evangelicals.  However, the Supreme Court cannot simply say, “Let’s overturn a decades-old decision because the president would like us to.”  A case must come before them that challenges that decision before they can take it under advisement.

You might notice that the states did not pass these dranconian abortion laws when President Barack Obama was in office and the Supreme Court was still largely apolitical.  You’ll also notice that Trump was in such a hurry to appoint a second justice to the Court that he had a quiet little talk with Justice Kennedy, and shortly thereafter Justice Kennedy announced his imminent retirement.  And you’ll further notice that there was a mad dash by Trump and his boot-licking Senate to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, thereby giving the court a 5-4 right-wing, conservative majority, despite the fact that the Court is intended to be apolitical.

The stage is set … now the states who have passed these anti-abortion laws that rob women of their rights to have control over their own bodies will sit back and wait for the inevitable lawsuits claiming, rightly, that the states have no right to restrict a woman’s right of choice.  Then will begin the inevitable back and forth through the courts until sometime next year, perhaps even sooner, the cases will reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

Trump is relying on the five conservative justices to vote in favour of overturning Roe v Wade.  Those justices are:

  • Clarence Thomas
  • Samuel Alito
  • John Roberts (Chief Justice)
  • Neil Gorsuch
  • Brett Kavanuagh

Justice Steven Breyer warned in a dissent to another decision earlier this week …

“Overruling a case always requires special justification. I understand that, because opportunities to correct old errors are rare, judges may be tempted to seize every opportunity to overrule cases they believe to have been wrongly decided. But the law can retain the necessary stability only if this court resists that temptation, overruling prior precedent only when the circumstances demand it.”

The Alabama bill, which has been passed by the state legislature and is expected to be signed into ‘law’ by Governor Kay Ivey, bans abortions at every stage of pregnancy and criminalizes the procedure for doctors, who could be charged with felonies and face up to 99 years in prison.  The Georgia bill, recently passed and signed by Governor Brian Kemp (remember him … the guy with the gun pointed at his daughter’s boyfriend?), is only slightly less restrictive, banning abortion after about 6 weeks, often before a woman even realizes she is pregnant.

Those who are so dead-set against a woman’s right of choice, call themselves “pro-life”, but this is a misnomer, as I have noted before.  They are often the same people who support the death penalty.  They are often the people who protest their tax dollars going to help feed and clothe the poor.  Many are the same ones who fought so hard against ACA, which provided affordable healthcare to those who would not otherwise have any.  Pro-life?  No, only anti-women’s rights.

If people are so against abortion, doesn’t it make sense to support such things as birth control, family planning and counseling, and other measures to prevent unwanted pregnancies?  But no, the evangelicals are against all of those, too.  They support de-funding such organizations as Planned Parenthood who help with all women’s health issues, and they argue against company-sponsored health insurance plans covering birth control.  Sorry, folks, you cannot have it both ways!

Thus far through the years, state laws attempting to restrict abortion have all been struck down by the Supreme Court as being unconstitutional.  Will that precedent hold?  I cannot say for sure, but I’m less confident now than I would have been two years ago.  More than 60% of the people in this nation support a woman’s right of choice, but these days it seems that the minority is the only voice that is heard.  If the Supreme Court ultimately overturns Roe v Wade, it will be a slap in the face to every woman in the U.S.  What will be next?  Will they take away our right to own property?  Our right to vote?  Think about it.

How ‘Bout Some ‘Toons?

I think it’s about time to catch up on a few ‘toons, don’t you?  The political cartoons are one way of measuring which issues are on the minds of the people at any given time.  Today, one of the biggest issues is, not surprisingly, the trade war Trump has engaged in with China and the tariffs that are hurting We the People more than any.

tariffs-1tariffs-2tariffs-3tariffs-4tariffs-5


After the recent United Nations report showing that we are in danger of losing one million species from the planet due to our poor stewardship of the environment, climate change and environmental issues once again came to the forefront of everyone’s mind.

environment-1environment-2environment-3Threatened and endangered species


Congress subpoenaed Trump’s tax returns from the Department of Treasury, but of course Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is refusing to honour the subpoena.  Meanwhile, the New York Times released 10 years of Trump’s taxes from 1985 to 1994, showing that in that ten year period, he lost over $1.17 billion … naturally the cartoonists had a field day with that one, as did our friend Don Lemon!

Bruce Plante Cartoon: Trump the business manfinances-2finances-3


And, of course, we are still dealing with Trump’s blatant and now undeniable obstruction of justice.  The Mueller report cites no less than ten instances where Trump obstructed justice, and he is still doing it today by trying to shut down the congressional oversight committees that are trying to pick up where Mueller’s report left off and determine whether impeachment is the right path.  

criminals-2criminals-3criminals-4criminals-5obstruction-1obstruction-2obstruction-3obstruction-4


And just a few miscellaneous ‘toons to finish up …

generalking-trumptrump-tweet

emma gonzalez

On February 14th, 2018, seventeen students and staff members died at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Students were heartbroken, and they spoke out, letting us know that this was beyond tolerable, that they were fed up with we “adults” allowing these things to happen … think Columbine, think Sandy Hook and many, many others. One of the young activists was Emma Gonzales, a courageous young woman who said, “No more!” And still today, the government and the people of this nation are letting our young people down.

Every time there is a mass shooting, especially a school shooting, we are horrified … for a few days … and then, while we don’t exactly forget, we let other matters take precedence and we put it out of our minds. How many of our children must die before we wake up, before we force our legislators to put our children ahead of the profits of the all-powerful gun lobby?

Our friend Larry has written an excellent post featuring a tribute song by Madonna. Thank you, Larry, for this post and your permission to share it.

QUEST

4k-wallpaper-beautiful-flowers-clouds-1266810

photo by SIMON MATZINGER

“So we are speaking up for those who don’t have anyone listening to them, for those who can’t talk about it yet, and for those who will never speak again. We are grieving, we are furious, and we are using our words fiercely and desperately because that’s the only thing standing between us and this happening again.” EMMA GONZALEZ

We rise every morning anticipating a great day filled with joy, happiness and safety in our daily endeavors.  We hug our loved ones as they go out the door about their day’s agenda.  We expect to see them later, don’t we?

We know life has no guarantees, but we trust in goodness and mercy.  Emma Gonzalez chatted with friends before classes at Marjory Stoneman Douglas not knowing that there were a few whom she would never again see alive.  Shots rang out, young people were murdered and…

View original post 363 more words

Election 2020 … Part First of Many To Come

I have lost count of how many times I’ve heard people say that the democrats will win big in 2020, that Trump doesn’t stand a chance, that the democrats have a bunch of good candidates, that the nation will not re-elect Donald Trump, etc., etc.  And I know those people saying this mean well, and in most cases, I think they believe it.  But folks … make no mistake … it will be an uphill battle, and we haven’t yet taken the first step up that hill.  In this post, I want to talk just a bit about what is wrong with the democratic stance and what some of the problems facing the democrats are going to be.  I speak at the moment only of the presidential election, though I will later talk about the Senate and at some point, the House.

First problem … yes, we have a number of highly qualified candidates, from the elders, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, to the newbies like Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker.  But that is exactly the problem.  Let me explain …

In 2016, when Bernie Sanders failed to be nominated by the Democratic Party, what did his most loyal supporters do?  Some voted for independent candidates, some even voted for Trump, but the majority simply did not vote.  If every Bernie supporter had cast their vote for Hillary Clinton, we would not have Trump in the Oval Office today.  So, next year, at the Democratic Convention, if Kamala Harris is the nominee, what will Buttigieg’s and Warren’s supporters do?  Some will vote for Ms. Harris, but more will likely either vote for an independent simply to show their anger with the Democratic Party or will simply stay home and not vote at all.  Some will even vote for Trump.  This is a big problem, folks, and while it makes no sense, it is reality.

Second problem … this election will not be, for the Democratic Party, about who is the most qualified and capable candidate, but will be only about who can beat Donald Trump.  Which translates to:  who has the most public appeal, who is the best-looking, who can win what will be naught more than a popularity contest.  Oh yes, I hear you saying that we all care about the issues, and I agree … those reading this post no doubt care more about the candidate’s stance on such things as climate change, health care, taxes, foreign policy, gun regulation, Social Security, etc.  But we, my friends, are not the majority.  The majority do not vote with their heads, do not study the candidates and issues, but rather vote with their hearts.  Why do you think Hillary failed to attain a larger margin in 2016? (I remind you that she did win the election by nearly 3 million votes)  Because she was not warm & fuzzy, was not a ‘likeable’ persona.  And the two straws that broke the camel’s back were her calling republicans ‘deplorables’, and Jim Comey’s “October Surprise”.

Third problem … nobody seems to be doing a damned thing about the fact that Russia did, in fact, influence our 2016 election and, while we will never know for certain if Hillary would have won the electoral college without the Russian influence, we can surmise that would have been the case.  This should be something that Congress is demanding be addressed by our intelligence community, and perhaps it is being addressed, but it doesn’t seem to be taken very seriously at all.

Fourth problem … voter disenfranchisement and gerrymandering.  Most of Trump’s base are white, middle-income, Christian, non-college-educated voters.  They have driver’s licenses, they own cars, and they live in predominantly white, middle class neighborhoods with a polling place only a short distance.  A large number of likely democratic voters are poor, are minorities, and live in neighborhoods where there are no polling places close by.  They may not have driver’s licenses, they may not own reliable vehicles.  They work at minimum wage jobs and by the time they get off work, take a bus to the closest polling place, it has closed, or the line is so long that they cannot wait in line to vote, for they must pick their child up at daycare.  States are, even today, trying to pass stricter voting laws.  In Texas, proposed legislation would force anyone taking more than 3 non-family-members to the polls to fill out a form listing the people being transported and the reason.  In many states around the nation, voter ID laws are being introduced.  Polling places on college campuses are being dismantled.  And I haven’t seen much being done in the way of re-districting gerrymandered districts.  These are all blatant attempts to discourage poor and minority voters, to make it harder for them to vote, and to ensure their votes are diluted when they can vote.

Fifth problem … voter apathy.  We are so bombarded every day with news of corruption on both sides of the aisle that some people … I have had people tell me this … just throw up their hands and say, essentially, “To heck with it … they are all corrupt, so why bother?”  As heated as the 2016 election was, do you know what percentage of eligible voters didn’t bother to vote?  Take a guess.  Almost 40%!!!  Colorado, Minnesota, Maine & New Hampshire were the only states where 70% or more of eligible voters turned out to vote.

I don’t mean to be a wet blanket, but the real danger, as I see it, is in being too complacent, in believing that because Trump is such a terrible president, he cannot possibly win.  He was an awful candidate, but he won in 2016, largely because of Russian interference, Hillary’s unpopularity, voter apathy, and voter disenfranchisement.  The Democratic Party needs to seriously get their act together, unite behind the best qualified candidate, and put together a winning platform that includes health care solutions, environmental stewardship, civil rights reform, gun reform, and a host of other solutions to the issues that are plaguing this nation today, such as dealing with Iran, North Korea and Russia, not to mention mending fences that Trump has torn down with our allies.

Let us not make the same mistake we made in 2016, thinking that Trump is such a buffoon he cannot possibly win.  He is a buffoon, he is a madman, but … he won in 2016.  Let us not let him win in 2020.

One Man’s Take On The Recent School Shootings

As you already know, Tuesday’s school shooting in Colorado hit me like a ton of bricks, was rather the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Resources already teetering on the ‘empty’ line, this was my undoing.  I tried yesterday to write about it and couldn’t … simply could not do the heroes of this and the previous school shootings justice … my words were cold and flat.  Then yesterday, waiting in my inbox, was Nicholas Kristoff’s piece about the shooting and his related opinion.  I passed it over, bookmarked it for ‘later’.  And then, in an email chat with our friend Ellen, she mentioned that I should read it.  So, at 2:00 a.m., hot (our a/c is on the fritz), and unable to sleep, I read the piece … and it said just what I had wanted to say on Tuesday night.

I try to minimize the number of editorial pieces I share verbatim, but sometimes they simply must be shared, and this is one such.

We Have 2 Dead Young Heroes. It’s Time to Stand Up to Guns.

It’s too late to save Kendrick Castillo and Riley Howell, but we can honor them by taking on gun violence.

nicholas-kristof-thumblargeBy Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

May 8, 2019

Politicians fearful of the National Rifle Association have allowed the gun lobby to run amok so that America now has more guns than people, but there is still true heroism out there in the face of gun violence: students who rush shooters at the risk of their own lives.school-shootingLet’s celebrate, and mourn, a student named Kendrick Castillo, 18, just days away from graduating in Highlands Ranch, Colo., who on Tuesday helped save his classmates in English literature class from a gunman.

“Kendrick lunged at him, and he shot Kendrick, giving all of us enough time to get underneath our desks, to get ourselves safe, and to run across the room to escape,” Nui Giasolli, a student in the classroom, told the “Today” show. Kendrick was killed, and eight other students were injured.

At least three boys in the class — one of them Brendan Bialy, who hopes to become a Marine — tackled and disarmed the gunman. “They were very heroic,” Nui said. Bravo as well to the police officers who arrived within two minutes of the shooting and seized the two attackers.

The courage of those students in Colorado echoes last week’s bravery of Riley Howell, a student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Riley, 21, charged a gunman there and continued even as he was shot twice. As he tackled the gunman he was shot a third time, in the head, and killed, but he ended the shooting.

Riley was deservedly given a hero’s funeral, and presumably the same will happen with Kendrick. But their parents didn’t want martyrs; they wanted children and grandchildren. And it is appalling that we as a society have abandoned American kids so that they must die to save their classmates.

When New Zealand experienced a mass shooting in March, it took the government of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern just 26 days to tighten gun laws and ban assault rifles. In contrast, America has had 53 years of inaction since the University of Texas tower shooting in 1966 claimed 17 lives. Sandy Hook … Las Vegas … Parkland — so many dead; so little done.

Since 1970, 1.45 million Americans have died from guns — suicides, murders and accidents. That’s more than the 1.4 million Americans estimated to have died in all the wars in American history going back to the American Revolution.

This should also make us all cringe: In a typical year, more American children ages 4 and younger die from firearms (110 in 2016) than police officers do in the line of duty (65 in 2016).

So let’s send thoughts and prayers to the families of victims in Colorado and North Carolina, but let’s also push for a sensible gun policy that would make such heroics less necessary.

Granted, this is complicated. America has so many guns out there that new restrictions may not be as effective as we would hope. The 10-year ban on assault rifles from 1994 to 2004 had trouble defining assault weapons and had an uncertain impact.

Still, there are obvious steps worth taking. A starting point would be to require universal background checks before all firearms sales. Some 22 percent of guns are still acquired in the U.S. without a background check; a person wanting to adopt a rescue dog often undergoes a more thorough check than a person buying an assault rifle.

Safe storage of guns — in gun safes or with trigger locks — prevents children and others from accessing firearms. Voluntary gun buybacks would reduce the pool of firearms out there. We should also invest in “smart gun” technologies that require a code or fingerprint to fire. We need more “red-flag laws” that make it more difficult for people to obtain guns when they present a threat to themselves or others.

And tell me: Why do we bar people on the terrorism watch list from boarding planes while still allowing them to purchase guns?

In 2011, a spokesman for Al Qaeda, Adam Gadahn, urged would-be terrorists in America to pick up an assault rifle at a gun show, where there might not be a background check. He emphasized how easy this is and added, “What are you waiting for?”

Other steps to lower gun deaths don’t even directly involve firearms. Programs like Cure Violence and Becoming a Man have been shown effective in reducing violence among at-risk young people. The military has conducted experiments showing that counseling can reduce suicides (a majority of gun deaths in America are suicides).

Every day in 2017, the last year for which we have figures, an average of 107 people died in America from guns. We’re not able to avert every shooting, but we can save some lives. We need not have the courage of the students who charged gunmen; we just need to demand action from our members of Congress and state legislators.

That’s the best way to honor heroes like Kendrick Castillo and Riley Howell, by making such heroics less necessary in classrooms around America.

Thoughts On ‘Executive Privilege’ …

Donald Trump has invoked ‘executive privilege’ more than any other president, though all have used it to a lesser extent.  Just in the past month, Trump has used it to keep a number of people from answering subpoenas by various congressional committees trying to find answers to some very important questions.  Yesterday, he used it to claim that Congress and the public would not be allowed to see the un-redacted version of the Mueller report.  Most of us are scratching our heads and asking, “Can he do that?” 

Executive privilege is defined as “the right of the president and high-level executive branch officers to withhold information from Congress, the courts, and ultimately the public.”  It is not a right that is spelled out in the Constitution, but rather was defined by the Supreme Court when it ruled that it is “fundamental to the operation of government and inextricably rooted in the separation of powers under the Constitution.”

Executive privilege can be asserted for one of two reasons: for national security needs, and for “protecting the privacy of White House deliberations when it is in the public interest to do so.”  Now, at issue here is whether Donald Trump can be said to have known about and welcomed the Russian intrusion into the 2016 presidential election, and more likely, did Donald Trump attempt to interfere with the investigation into said Russian interference?  Neither, at this juncture, qualify as ‘national security’ issues, so that leaves the second reason.

“Protecting the privacy of White House deliberations when it is in the public interest to do so” is rather open to interpretation. Is it in the ‘public interest’ to keep us in the dark and allow Trump to get by with having broken the law? My own opinion is that transparency is in the public interest, that the public has both a right and a need to know the truth.  Just as Nixon’s assertion of executive privilege was widely seen as self-serving and against the public interest, most of us believe that Trump’s repeatedly invoking it makes him look guilty of far more than even Nixon.

If I sidle past you with my hands behind my back, you ask what I’m hiding, and I say “nuffin” then run quickly past and into my room, slam the door and lock it, you’re going to be pretty darn suspicious, right?  Trump has been caught with his hands in the cookie jar and he is trying very hard to hide it.  So … back to the question at hand:  Can he do that?

Is it in the public interest?  No.  It is in the interest of Donald Trump as he wishes to remain in office, for he is enjoying the power of the office, the free jet-setting all over the world, and financial benefits for his businesses.

President Nixon’s abuse of the privilege made future presidents leery of it, and even when he was facing the Iran-Contra investigation during his second term, President Ronald Reagan decided against asserting executive privilege, agreeing instead to provide much of the requested information to Congress.  President Bill Clinton attempted to invoke executive privilege during the investigation into his affair with Monica Lewinsky but was ultimately overruled.

Just as Richard Nixon used executive privilege in an attempt to cover his guilt, there can be no doubt that Trump is doing the same … the proof is in what we already know of the Mueller report.  However, as the courts struck down Nixon’s claim, they are not as likely to do so with Trump’s.  Why?  Attorney General William Barr.  The Justice Department under Nixon refused to pander to the president’s whims and instead held him accountable.  Why do you think Jeff Sessions was fired?  Why do you think Rod Rosenstein is resigning?  And why do you think Trump nominated, and the Senate confirmed, William Barr so quickly?  Why do you think Trump encouraged Justice Kennedy to retire and then the Senate was in such an all-fire hurry to put Brett Kavanaugh on the bench, despite credible allegations of sexual abuse?  Trump knew that Mueller’s report would open the doors to congressional investigations and he was pre-covering his bases.

In U.S. v. Nixon in 1974, President Richard Nixon was ordered to deliver tapes and other subpoenaed materials to a federal judge for review. The justices ruled 9-0 that a president’s right to privacy in his communications must be balanced against Congress’ need to investigate and oversee the executive branch.  That was then, and this is now … Nixon thought he would not be caught and didn’t have time to prepare in advance.  Trump knew he was caught and rushed through terminations and nominations to cover his patootie even before the Mueller report saw the light of day. Remember how Trump’s lawyers refused to let him testify before Mueller’s team, for they knew he would lie and incriminate himself even further.

Now, that is not to say that Trump will not ultimately have his feet held to the fire, but it is likely to be sometime next year before that happens, as I suspect this will work its way up through the court system along with other issues.  I also suspect it is more of a delaying tactic than anything.  Think about it … right this moment, we are furious, and this is the hot topic.  As other things take over the headlines in the media, as our attention is directed elsewhere, how likely are we to stay focused on Trump’s abuse of ‘executive privilege’?

I keep hoping that somebody … Don McGahn, Robert Mueller … somebody will have the guts to stand against Trump and volunteer to testify and provide whatever documents are in their possession.  Yes, it could result in a jail sentence, but … isn’t someone willing to put this nation and its well-being ahead of their own self-interest?  Trump for damn sure isn’t.

Just A Few More Snarky Snippets

My friends … I don’t even know where to begin today.  When they say, ‘truth is stranger than fiction’, they aren’t kidding!  Nobody, in their wildest dreams, could have written the script for the madness and mayhem that is the federal government of the ‘United’ States today.


Good grief …

good griefFirst on the agenda is the fact that Trump’s approval rating has climbed.  He still hasn’t hit 50%, but according to the latest Gallup poll, he is at 46%, while according to the FiveThirtyEight aggregate of polls, he has climbed to 42.7, a 1.5% jump since last Thursday.  Why?  The only thing I can figure out is because his base, who largely do not bother to investigate facts, believe him when he says the Mueller report “completely exonerated” him.  It didn’t, and in fact it pointed out at least ten instances where he was guilty of obstruction that would have landed him in jail if he were not president.  But, Trump supporters don’t read the report.  They also don’t question why he is going to so much trouble to keep Mueller, McGahn and others from testifying if he believes he is exonerated.  They don’t ask why he isn’t encouraging those testimonies that would show us mean ol’ liberals just how innocent he is.

What’s even more concerning is that the jump in his approval rating is not necessarily among republicans but rather democrats and independents!  Among Democrats where Trump’s job approval has improved the most month-to-month, just 4% approved of the job he was doing in March compared to 10% who said the same in April. Independents went from 33% job approval for Trump in March to 39% in April.  Now, I don’t put much faith in the numbers of the polls, for each is biased in its own way, but it’s the trend that is relevant.  What the Sam Heck has he said or done that has democrats swaying in his favour?  Anybody?


Can he do that?

President-Elect Donald Trump Holds Meetings At Trump Tower

Judge Napolitano

Second, let’s talk about freedom of the press, shall we?  Remember a week or so ago Gronda wrote a piece about Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, Senior legal analyst for Fox News, who wrote an OpEd whereby he opined that Trump is, in fact, guilty of obstruction of justice and should be charged as such.  Trump, needless to say, was not happy with the man who he once referred to as a “very talented legal mind”.  I made a comment at the time on Gronda’s post that I wondered how long it will be before he is relieved of his duties at Fox.  And now, Trump is hinting at just that just that to happen.

Trump retweeted an obscure Twitter account on Sunday morning …

trump-re-tweetIf Trump were just anybody, one might overlook it and say he was just blowing off some steam.  But, for better or for worse … mostly worse … he is the president of a nation of some 330 million people and thus is to be held to a higher standard than Joe Blow. This one bears watching, my friends, for this is about more than a difference of opinion or a dispute between Trump and the judge … this one may set a precedent in terms of freedom of the press.


And about those pesky subpoenas …

Last Thursday, Trump said he did not believe he would allow former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify to committees in Congress, saying McGahn had already spoken to the special counsel on the Russia probe.

“I would say it’s done. I’ve had him testifying already for 30 hours.”

I am not a lawyer and hesitate to make a proclamation about what can or cannot be done, but I’ve done a bit of research and as best I can tell a private citizen, which McGahn is and Mueller will soon be, does not have to take orders from the ‘man’ in the Oval Office.  Now, if he were being asked to testify about state secrets or the location of nuclear weapons stashes, that would be a different story.  But, McGahn is being asked only to clarify and elucidate his previous testimony before the special counsel.

Trump is also attempting to keep Mueller from testifying.  It was assumed that Mueller would resign from the DOJ in April, and I have no idea why the delay, unless it is for this very reason, to keep him from testifying.

And Attorney General William Barr has both ignored the summons to testify before the House Judiciary Committee last week, and refused to release the unredacted Mueller report as requested by subpoena by the deadline yesterday.

Mick Mulvaney, acting as White House Chief of Staff, said in early April that the democrats would never see Trump’s tax returns.  This was in response to a subpoena for six years’ worth of returns, something that every other president since Reagan has submitted voluntarily.  Then yesterday, Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin refused to allow the Internal Revenue Service to release Trump’s tax returns.

ENOUGH!!!!!!!!

Either Donald Trump wants to be the president or he does not.  He cannot be considered the leader of this nation if he cannot even be held accountable to We the People who are paying his salary.  And before any of you say, “but he doesn’t take a salary” … yes, he does receive a salary.  If he donates it somewhere, that is his choice, but he does receive a salary of $400,000 per year.  As comedian Seth Meyers said, Trump should pay his taxes instead of donating his salary. And what are we getting in return?  Obstruction of justice, corruption extraordinaire, destruction of our environment, an average of twelve blatant lies each day, incited divisiveness of our nation, and a ‘man’ who believes himself to be above the law of the land.

Imagine what would happen if either you or I simply ignored or willfully defied a subpoena? Anybody know how to bake a cake with a saw in it? We do not have a president, folks, we have an autocratic wanna-be dictator who has trampled our Constitution, has trampled our democracy, and is trampling on our lives.


And now that I have managed to raise your blood pressure by at least 30 points, I shall leave you to ponder while I go clean my kitchen.  I had a bit of a cooking mishap this evening and there are grease and rice sticks all over the place!  Ever deep fry rice sticks?  I’ll tell you all about it later.

The View From The Other Side …

Earlier this week when I posted some political cartoons, our friend rawgod wrote a thought-provoking comment:

Political cartoonists take aggravating facts and give them life. And laughter.
But what about republican-leaning cartoonists, what are they putting out? How about giving us a glimpse from the other side (if there is one!)? I bet your readers would find them even funnier than these.

And admittedly, I typically don’t post the cartoons I run across that are opposite of my own beliefs, but … that makes me seem not very open-minded, doesn’t it?  In truth, I don’t run across many, for I don’t haunt conservative news sites, but I do see several a week.  So, I thought … “Why not?”  But, a funny thing happened on the way to the right … I became side-tracked by a few headlines …

  • Anti-Semitic New York Times Runs ANOTHER Cartoon Attacking Netanyahu

  • Jews Simply Must Arm Themselves. Now.

  • Parents Who Let Their Toddlers Choose Their Own Genders Are Either Mentally Ill Or Evil

  • Kids In Philadelphia Muslim Society: ‘We Will Chop Off Their Heads’ For Allah

  • Administration Expands Conscience Protections For Pro-Life Health Care Workers

  • Why Facebook’s War On ‘Hate’ Is Just A Thin Excuse To Censor Conservatives

  • Democrats Search for Ways to Downplay Trump’s Great Economy

And on and on and on it goes.  We have asked ourselves so many times in the past 2+ years how on earth Trump’s supporters can be so blind that despite his many atrocities, they still think he is great.  Well, folks, here is our answer.  They are being fed a daily diet of this cow poop.  They are being told that poor Trump is the victim, that Muslims, liberals and democrats are out to get them and they must be constantly on their guard.

I literally had to go take a shower at 2:30 a.m. after visiting several conservative news sites, for I felt filthy.  And while trolling through the conservative sites was enough to make me want to punch something, enough to raise my blood pressure, it also made me realize that … we need to know these things.  We need to know what these outlets are feeding their followers.  It is knowledge we really need to arm ourselves with.  Just a thought.

Anyway, I did not find the plethora of right-wing cartoons that I expected to find, but found enough.  I may do a second post next week, but I’ve spent about as much time on New York Post, Washington Examiner, Breitbart and The Blaze as I can stomach.  The ones I’m presenting today fall into three main areas:  Jerry Nadler’s call for Barr to testify before the House Judiciary Committee; the 2020 democratic candidates; and of course, Nancy Pelosi.

Naturally the invitation to Barr to appear before the committee is a fertile ground …

Nadler-BarrNadler-1

Nadler-committee

And it’s no surprise that both sides, actually, are finding humour in the sheer number of candidates vying for the democratic nomination …

2020-dem-candidates2020-dem-candidates-2

2020-dem-candidates-3

And then there’s Nancy Pelosi …

Pelosi-1Pelosi-2Pelosi-3Pelosi-4

And that is as much as I can take for today … this must be digested in small doses, else it causes massive indigestion, as I have learned.