Keep Your Eye On The … ?????

There is very little news today that doesn’t carry the name ‘Trump’.  It makes it very difficult to concentrate, to focus, to find anything ELSE in the news! Trump had a very busy week firing people last week, spent most of the weekend spewing garbage through his tweeting thumbs, and put down virtually every individual or group he could think of who wasn’t 100% in his camp.  Let us recap …

He fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, basically for two reasons: 1) last year Tillerson astutely called Trump a ‘moron’, and 2) Tillerson spoke out against Russia, saying that a nerve agent used on a former Russian spy in Britain last week “clearly came from Russia”, and that Russia is “an irresponsible force of instability in the world, acting with open disregard for the sovereignty of other states and the life of their citizens.”  The moral of this story:  Never speak the truth if you work for a liar.

He fired Assistant FBI Director Andrew McCabe, basically for three reasons:  1) when Trump asked McCabe who he voted for in 2016, McCabe said he did not vote; 2) McCabe’s wife ran for State Senate in Virginia in 2015 and as part of her campaign funding received funds from a group affiliated with former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, who happens to be a friend of Hillary Clinton; 3) McCabe was involved in the Russian/Trump investigation from the start, and Trump hopes his firing will discredit McGabe’s ultimate testimony.  No obstruction of justice here, right?

One of Trump’s many attorneys (he just hired another yesterday) called for Rod Rosenstein to end the Russian investigation, prompting many to fear that there would be an effort to fire special counsel Robert Mueller.

Trump went on a tweetstorm the entire weekend, thrashing James Comey, Andrew McCabe, and most of all, Robert Mueller.  He referred, as he has many times before, to the investigation as a ‘witch hunt’ and claimed the team was heavily partisan (Mueller himself is a republican – there goes that argument, Donnie-boy).  And of course, he couldn’t have a proper tweet-storm without blaming Hillary Clinton, so he did.

And then there was Cambridge Analytica, which I am not even going to tackle this evening, other than to mention that it is a whole new section of the spiderweb that ought to bring about the downfall of the regime!  But it won’t.

It’s old, folks.  Even though he was obviously on a triple dose of steroids last week and over the weekend, he keeps singing the same ol’ song, and it isn’t even a pretty song.  It’s got no rhythm, just a convolution of percussion sounds that eventually wear on the eardrums as well as the psyche.

Oh … and in case you missed it …

Y’know what else is getting old?  Another impending government shutdown is scheduled to take place at midnight on Friday if our illustrious Congress doesn’t get their collective butts in gear and pass a spending bill.  Yawn.  I could write this script, but I’ll let you remain in suspense for the next few days.  Meanwhile, let’s chat for just a minute about that spending bill.

The spending bill is for a massive $1.3 trillion.  Let me show you $1,300,000,000,000.  I am unclear where that money is going to come from, since they reduced revenues by cutting taxes on all those who could actually afford to pay taxes!  Since the bill is bouncing around in the House at the moment, I do not know all of the provisions, but here is part of what I do know.

It includes $80 billion in new military spending and $63 billion in domestic spending (anybody see a problem with that ratio?). Democrats and republicans are still arguing over whether it should include funding for Planned Parenthood.  It is likely to expand the right to conceal carry across state borders.  It will not include monies for the long-planned railway under the Hudson River, mainly because Trump said he would veto any bill that included it.  It is not likely to include ACA (Obamacare) subsidies.  It is unlikely to contain a much-needed overhaul of sexual harassment policies.  It will almost certainly re-authorize CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) for six years.  $1.6 billion for Trump’s damn border wall is still under discussion in the House.

And that’s just about all any outside of Congress seem to know for the moment.  The House must vote on it, then send it to the Senate, where they will debate and likely disagree with at least some portion, then it will go back to the House, back to the Senate, and then everybody has to be in full agreement in a final vote by midnight Friday night.  Mitch McConnell and other congressional leaders seem fairly confident, but … after the last few fiascos??? I’m not.  Funny, isn’t it, how little attention the spending bill has had in the media the last several days.

Oh, and another thing you may have missed …

Sexual predator Harvey Weinstein’s company has filed for bankruptcy AND, more importantly, has cancelled all non-disclosure agreements.  This means that company employees are now free to tell of any form of sexual misconduct they have witnessed while employed by the company.  Score one for justice!

One final tidbit …

Vladimir Putin won the election in Russia and will serve {yawn} another six years.  Are we surprised?  Not when he disqualified his chief contender!  Look for him to abolish elections in Russia before 2024, as there is already talk of it.

I would like to see somebody stifle Trump’s urges to rant and rail at everything and everyone.  Apparently all the adults in the White House were on hiatus over the weekend. It is painfully obvious to those of us who think at least a few hours a day that Trump has much to hide, much to fear from the results of Mueller’s investigation, for he is acting as guilty as the kid with chocolate all over his mouth saying, “Who me?  I didn’t eat no cookies …”  There is danger in his unhinged state, but it would be a mistake for us to focus exclusively on his child-like antics and take our eyes off the ball.  I fear that is what the media is doing, and it is certainly an easy trap to fall into.  Stay tuned and I will tell you all about his new lawyer … how the heck many lawyers does one man need, anyway?

Voting In America

The New York Times has started a series on voting in America, which will run up to Election Day in November.  I thought the first part of the series, originally published on 10 March 2018, was worth sharing with you.  It is a bit lengthier than my average post, but there are points here that I think we all need to consider as we head into the midterms.  Please take a few moments to read and think about these things.

Vote. That’s Just What They Don’t Want You to Do.

This is a fragile moment for the nation. The integrity of democratic institutions is under assault from without and within, and basic standards of honesty and decency in public life are corroding. If you are horrified at what is happening in Washington and in many states, you can march in the streets, you can go to town halls and demand more from your representatives, you can share the latest outrageous news on your social media feed — all worthwhile activities. But none of it matters if you don’t go out and vote.

It’s a perennial conundrum for the world’s oldest democracy: Why do so many Americans fail to go to the polls? Some abstainers think that they’re registering a protest against the awful choices. They’re fooling themselves. Nonvoters aren’t protesting anything; they’re just putting their lives and futures in the hands of the people who probably don’t want them to vote. We’ve seen recently what can happen when people choose instead to take their protest to the ballot box. We saw it in Virginia in November. We saw it, to our astonishment, in Alabama in December. We may see it this week in western Pennsylvania. Voting matters.

Casting a ballot is the best opportunity most of us will ever get to have a say in who will represent us, what issues they will address and how they will spend our money. The right to vote is so basic, President Lyndon Johnson said in 1965, that without it “all others are meaningless.”

And yet every election, tens of millions of Americans stay home. Studies of turnout among developed nations consistently rank the United States near the bottom. In the most recent midterms, in 2014, less than 37 percent of eligible voters went to the polls — the lowest turnout in more than 70 years. In 2016,

The problem isn’t just apathy, of course. Keeping people from voting has been an American tradition from the nation’s earliest days, when the franchise was restricted to white male landowners. It took a civil war, constitutional amendments, violently suppressed activism against discrimination and a federal act enforcing the guarantees of those amendments to extend this basic right to every adult. With each expansion of voting rights, the nation inched closer to being a truly representative democracy. Today, only one group of Americans may be legally barred from voting — those with felony records, a cruel and pointless restriction that disproportionately silences people of color.

In the months leading up to the midterm elections on Nov. 6, when the House, Senate and statehouses around the country are up for grabs, the editorial board will explore the complicated question of why Americans don’t vote, and what can be done to overcome the problem. The explanations fall into three broad categories.


A 96-year-old woman in Tennessee was denied a voter-ID card despite presenting four forms of identification, including her birth certificate. A World War II veteran was turned away in Ohio because his Department of Veterans Affairs photo ID didn’t include his address. Andrea Anthony, a 37-year-old black woman from Wisconsin who had voted in every major election since she was 18, couldn’t vote in 2016 because she had lost her driver’s license a few days before.

Stories like these are distressingly familiar, as more and more states pass laws that make voting harder for certain groups of voters, usually minorities, but also poor people, students and the elderly. They require forms of photo identification that minorities are much less likely to have or be able to get — purportedly to reduce fraud, of which there is virtually no evidence. They eliminate same-day registration, close polling stations in minority areas and cut back early-voting hours and Sunday voting.

These new laws may not be as explicitly discriminatory as the poll taxes or literacy tests of the 20th century, but they are part of the same long-term project to keep minorities from the ballot box. And because African-Americans vote overwhelmingly for Democrats, the laws are nearly always passed by Republican-dominated legislatures.

In a lawsuit challenging Wisconsin’s strict new voter-ID law, a former staff member for a Republican lawmaker testified that Republicans were “politically frothing at the mouth” at the prospect that the law would drive down Democratic turnout. It worked: After the 2016 election, one survey found that the law prevented possibly more than 17,000 registered voters, disproportionately poor and minority, from voting. Donald Trump carried the state by fewer than 23,000 votes.


The legitimacy of an election is only as good as the reliability of the machines that count the votes. And yet 43 states use voting machines that are no longer being made, and are at or near the end of their useful life. Many states still manage their voter-registration rolls using software programs from the 1990s. It’s no surprise that this sort of infrastructure failure hits poorer and minority areas harder, often creating hourslong lines at the polls and discouraging many voters from coming out at all. Upgrading these machines nationwide would cost at least $1 billion, maybe much more, and Congress has consistently failed to provide anything close to sufficient funding to speed along the process.

Elections are hard to run with aging voting technology, but at least those problems aren’t intentional. Hacking and other types of interference are. In 2016, Russian hackers were able to breach voter registration systems in Illinois and several other states, and targeted dozens more. They are interfering again in advance of the 2018 midterms, according to intelligence officials, who are demanding better cybersecurity measures. These include conducting regular threat assessments, using voting machines that create paper trails and conducting postelection audits. Yet President Trump, who sees any invocation of Russian interference as a challenge to the legitimacy of his election, consistently downplays or dismisses these threats. Meanwhile, Mr. Trump’s State Department has not spent a dime of the $120 million Congress allocated to it to fight disinformation campaigns by Russia and other countries.


Some people wouldn’t vote if you put a ballot box in their living room. Whether they believe there is no meaningful difference between the major parties or that the government doesn’t care what they think regardless of who is in power, they have detached themselves from the political process.

That attitude is encouraged by many in government, up to and including the current president, who cynically foster feelings of disillusionment by hawking fake tales of rigged systems and illegal voters, even as they raise millions of dollars from wealthy donors and draw legislative maps to entrench their power.

The disillusionment is understandable, and to some degree it’s justified. But it creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. When large numbers of people don’t vote, elections are indeed decided by narrow, unrepresentative groups and in the interests of wealth and power. The public can then say, See? We were right. They don’t care about us. But when more people vote, the winning candidates are more broadly representative and that improves government responsiveness to the public and enhances democratic legitimacy.

These obstacles to voting and political participation are very real, and we don’t discount their impact on turnout. The good news is there are fixes for all of them.

The most important and straightforward fix is to make it easier for people to register and vote. Automatic voter registration, which first passed in Oregon just three years ago, is now the law or practice in nine states, both red and blue, and the District of Columbia. Washington State is on the cusp of becoming the tenth, and New Jersey and Nevada may be close behind. More people also turn out when states increase voting opportunities, such as by providing mail-in ballots or by expanding voting hours and days.

The courts should be a bulwark protecting voting rights, and many lower federal courts have been just that in recent years, blocking the most egregious attacks on voting in states from North Carolina to Wisconsin. But the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. has made this task much harder, mainly by gutting a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in a 2013 case. Decisions like that one, which split 5 to 4, depend heavily on who is sitting in those nine seats — yet another reason people should care who gets elected.

In the end, the biggest obstacle to more Americans voting is their own sense of powerlessness. It’s true: Voting is a profound act of faith, a belief that even if your voice can’t change policy on its own, it makes a difference. Consider the attitude of Andrea Anthony, the Wisconsin woman who was deterred by the state’s harsh new voter-ID law after voting her whole adult life. “Voting is important to me because I know I have a little, teeny, tiny voice, but that is a way for it to be heard,” Ms. Anthony said. “Even though it’s one vote, I feel it needs to count.”

She’s right. The future of America is in your hands. More people voting would not only mean “different political parties with different platforms and different candidates,” the writer Rebecca Solnit said. “It would change the story. It would change who gets to tell the story.”

There are a lot of stories desperately needing to be told right now, but they won’t be as long as millions of Americans continue to sit out elections. Lament the state of the nation as much as you want. Then get out and vote.

Conservation … A Strange Definition

Lion-not a trophyAt what point in the evolution of our vocabulary did the word ‘conserve’ come to mean ‘kill’?  I did not get that memo.  To me, the word conserve means protect, save.  A January CNN Special Report  carried the following headline:

Trophy hunting: ‘Killing animals to save them is not conservation’

I agree 100%.


Ryan Zinke

In December 2016, Trump named Ryan Zinke to lead the Department of the Interior (DOI).   On his first full day in office, Zinke rescinded the policy that banned the use of lead bullets and lead fishing tackle in national wildlife refuges. On June 2017, Zinke recommended that Bears Ears National Monument boundaries be scaled back. In August, Zinke 2017 added the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument to the planned list of monuments to be shrunk as well.  Last month, Trump, acting on Zinke’s advice, lifted the import ban on elephant and other big-game trophies from Zambia and Zimbabwe to the United States.  Zinke, himself a passionate trophy hunter, justified himself against critics by saying that he had his best childhood memories of hunting with his father and that he was anxious to promote hunting for American families.  What the heck ever happened to family picnics and games of Monopoly???


Don and Eric Trump … and dead leopard

Zinke recently established a new commission, the International Wildlife Conservation Council (IWCC).  The purpose of the commission?  In a nutshell, to make it easier to kill wild animals.  According to Zinke, it is about removing barriers to importing trophy hunting animals and relaxing legal restrictions on hunting and importing endangered species.  I repeat … its purpose is to make it easier to kill wild animals, even those on the endangered species list!  And in case you are not already mad enough, this commission will cost the taxpayers of the U.S. $250,000 per year … that’s a quarter of a million dollars!

Tiger, Petchaburi, ThailandAllow me, please, to introduce to you the members of this group:

  1. Paul Babaz, President of Safari Club International (SCI)
  2. Bill Brewster, U.S. hunter actively engaged in int’l and/or domestic hunting conservation
  3. Ivan Carter, Ivan Carter Wildlife Conservation Alliance
  4. Stephen Chancellor, Chancellor Foundation for International Wildlife Conservation
  5. Jennifer Chatfield, Wildlife and habitat conservation/management organizations
  6. Cameron Hanes, Archery and/or hunting sports industry
  7. Peter Horn, Tourism, outfitter, and/or guide industries related to international hunting
  8. Chris Hudson, Wildlife and habitat conservation/management organizations
  9. Mike Ingram, U.S. hunters actively engaged in int’l and/or domestic hunting conservation
  10. John Jackson, President, Conservation Force
  11. Gary Kania, Vice President, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
  12. Terry Maple, Tourism, outfitter, and/or guide industries related to international hunting
  13. Keith Mark, Tourism, outfitter, and/or guide industries related to international hunting
  14. Olivia Opre, U.S. hunters actively engaged in int’l and/or domestic hunting conservation
  15. Erica Rhoad, Director of Hunting Policy, National Rifle Association
  16. Denise Welker, U.S. hunters actively engaged in int’l and/or domestic hunting conservation

Information courtesy of FACA Database


Cecil the Lion and Dr. Walter Palmer, his murderer

Of the sixteen council members, at least ten are known to have ties to Safari Club International, an international organization composed of hunters dedicated to protecting the freedom to hunt.  One ‘esteemed’ member of SCI is Dr. Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who killed Cecil the lion in 2015 in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park.  Mike Ingram, the ninth on the list, set up an illegal non-profit in 2016 that was used solely to sell access to Donald Trump.  Peter Horn, #7 on the list, is the vice-president of Beretta, a gun manufacturer.  Ivan Carter, #3, is a television personality hosting such shows as Dallas Safari Club’s Tracks Across Africa, and his own Outdoor Channel show, Carter’s W.A.R. Denise Welker, #16, killed an elephant in Botswana on one of Carter’s safari hunts. She received an award last year from SCI underwritten by the NRA.  Number 14, Olivia Opre, is a former Mrs. Nebraska who judges the televised Extreme Huntress competition for female trophy hunters.  These are not nice people.

wolvesDespite the fact that polls show that between 80% – 90% of Americans are opposed to big game hunting, this committee has been established at our expense to make the killing of animals easier.  Now, you all know I am an animal lover, but even so, just what gives humans the right to take the life of an animal for no good reason?  Who deemed that lions and tigers and elephants were put on this earth so man could take some perverse joy in killing them?  Frankly, the way I see it is that every creature on this earth has as much right to life as I do.  If my house were on fire, I can guarantee you that I would not leave until I had gotten every last one of the Significant Seven to safety, for their lives are as valuable in the grand scheme of things as mine.  Most of you probably wouldn’t go that far, and I understand that, but to viciously murder an animal just to hang its head over your fireplace and brag???

trophy hunting 2The United States is already the largest importer of hunting trophies by far, accounting for a staggering 71 percent of the import demand, or about 15 times more than the next highest nations on the list—Germany and Spain.  What, I ask, is there to brag about?  More often than not, it is not a fair contest, for the animals are actually enclosed, and safari guides lead the hunters (who have often paid upward of $250,000 for this ‘privilege’) directly to them.  Sport?  I don’t think so.  The lion, tiger or bear stands zero chance against a man with a huge rifle.  It would be rather like one football team beating another whose hands and feet were bound together with duct tape!

bearsThis International Wildlife Conservation Council has not one single member from the Sierra Club, from World Wildlife Fund (WWF), from International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), or any of the other organizations that actually DO work toward protecting and preserving the animal kingdom.  Not one.

elephantsI began this post with a musing about the word ‘conserve’.  I think I have it figured out now … it is to conserve/preserve the right of wealthy, arrogant Americans to kill the innocent.  That must be the definition Trump’s and Ryan’s slogan “Make America Great Again”.

Once again, I hang my head in shame for what my country has become.


They Have Killed My Country and Murdered My God

This post by my young friend, Anam, needs no introduction from me, for her words say it all.

Fade Into Oblivion

They have killed my country and murdered my God
and called it collateral damage.
They have buried my homeland
under their bombs and the cries of its residents.
The women of my country are their playthings
And the men are prisoners of war.
My house has collapsed in on itself
burying its inhabitants under six feet of rubble
like a grave.
Colonisation, The Occupation, Ceasefire.
I can’t hear my own thoughts
Maybe that’s what they want to do
Overwhelm you with external destruction and voice
So you have no idea who you are
They blaspheme my God and place of worship
call Him a liar
spit upon His shrine
challenge His authority
believe they are better off without Him.
My country has become their playground
Paradise on Earth, now even worse than Hell.
I think the dead are luckier
They can’t see their beautiful land littered
with bullet shells, bombs…

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From Bad To Worse …

The first news I saw this morning was that Tillerson had been fired, which anybody with half a brain predicted months ago.  Now, Tillerson was highly unqualified for the job of Secretary of State, as I wrote in May 2017.  However, in defense of Mr. Tillerson, he was trying to learn his job, was trying, I think, to do the right thing.  Or perhaps I am only in his corner because he had the nerve to call Donald Trump a moron last October.

At any rate, Tillerson is out and in his place comes Mike Pompeo, who until today was the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  Now, I know that hearing me say what I’m about to say is getting old and you’re tired of hearing it, but hey … I’m not the one who keeps finding these people.  Mike Pompeo is highly unqualified to be in the position of Secretary of State.  Surprised, aren’t you?  Let’s take a brief look at ol’ Mikey …

He graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from West Point in 1986, and with a JD from Harvard Law School in 1994.  And what has he done since then?  He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 2011 until Trump tapped him for the CIA position almost immediately after the 2016 election.  His political views make him a perfect fit for the Trump ‘team’, for he leans far to the right and is or was a member of the “Tea Party” movement.  Let’s take a closer look … you may want to make sure you have an antacid close by …

On climate change and protecting the environment:

“There are scientists who think lots of different things about climate change. There’s some who think we’re warming, there’s some who think we’re cooling, there’s some who think that the last 16 years have shown a pretty stable climate environment.”  (Seriously?  It seems that I recall reading that 97% of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities.)

“Federal policy should be about the American family, not worshipping a radical environmental agenda.”  (Just how long do you think the American family will continue to exist if we don’t protect our home, the planet Earth, Mr. P?)

He also opposes the regulation of Greenhouse gas emissions by the United States, and supports eliminating the United States federal register of greenhouse gas emissions.  Are you beginning to understand why Trump picked him?

He has called for the permanent elimination of wind power production tax credits, calling them an “enormous government handout”.

Pompeo is a member of Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the conservative political advocacy group funded by the Koch brothers.  Their agenda, naturally, is to place as many far-right candidates in key Congressional positions as possible.  To that tune, during the 2014 election season, the Koch brothers, David and Charles, contributed nearly a half-million dollars to Pompeo’s campaign.  He signed the AFP’s “No Climate Tax” pledge …No climate tax pledgeAnd the AFP isn’t his only connection to the infamous Kochs.  In 1998, Pompeo co-founded Thayer Aerospace and Private Security, funded in part by investments by the Koch brothers.

He opposes same-sex marriage, opposes workplace protection for the LGBT community, which has earned him a zero rating with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).  But I know you’ll be happy to hear that he has an “A” rating with the National Rifle Association (NRA)!

Toward the latter part of his short tenure, Tillerson seemed to be stepping up to the plate, and only yesterday condemned Russia for the chemical attack against a former Russian spy in the UK – a stance that the Trump White House refused to take, and one that was likely the straw that broke the camel’s back for Tillerson’s tenure in the State Department.  Tillerson was not an ideal Secretary of State, but it is the opinion of this writer that Pompeo will be worse.  Trump has made a shambles of our relations with allies across the pond, and Pompeo is likely to support Trump blindly, causing even more rifts.  Pompeo has absolutely zero foreign policy experience, and has rigid, uncompromising views on human rights.  This is not what we need, especially as Trump heads to his first meeting with Kim Jong-un of North Korea.

Pompeo will have to be confirmed by the Senate, of course, but as we have seen in the past 14 months, that is a rubber stamp, as the republicans in the Senate continue to lick Trump’s boots.


What a complete and total waste of taxpayer’s hard-earned money!  What a travesty of justice!

The headline:

Republicans on House Panel Find No Evidence of Collusion, Russian Preference for Trump

“We’ve found no evidence of collusion … perhaps some bad judgment, inappropriate meetings, inappropriate judgment at taking meetings … only Tom Clancy or Vince Flynn or someone else like that could take this series of inadvertent contacts with each other, meetings, whatever and weave that into some sort of a fiction, page turner spy thriller.  We’re not dealing in fiction, we’re dealing in facts, and we found no evidence of any collusion.” – Republican Representative K. Michael Conaway

Either this man is lying through his teeth, as is every member of that panel, else they did not even open their eyes during their entire investigation.  There is so much smoke that the building is nearly up in flames, and they conclude that there is no fire, and ‘let’s go back to sleep now, boys’.  I wonder how they plan to justify their conclusions when Robert Mueller finalizes his report and proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that there was mass collusion between multiple members of the Trump campaign and the Russians?  They will either be proven liars or ignorant fools. Or both.

Representative Adam Schiff, the ranking democrat on the panel, said just last month that based on what he had seen, there was “ample evidence” of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.  Democrats’ requests for subpoenas for hostile witnesses have been ignored by the panel.  Conaway’s response?  “We’ve interviewed everyone we think we need to interview.”  FOUL!!!

Democrats were not involved with drafting the GOP’s report and were not presented with a copy of the findings.  Conaway said democrats would receive a copy of the report on Tuesday, and the final copy is expected to be made public sometime in April.

Now I ask you this:  How, with all the indictments and guilty pleas that have been a result of Robert Mueller’s investigation, can the House panel simply close their eyes and say, “Nope, nothing to see here, folks.”?  HOW???

Here is the list of the republicans on the panel:And here is the comprehensive list as of February 28 of all who have been indicted and/or made plea deals as a result of the Mueller investigation:

1) George Papadopoulos, former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, pleaded guilty in October to making false statements to the FBI.

2) Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, pleaded guilty in December to making false statements to the FBI.

3) Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chair, was indicted in October in Washington, DC on charges of conspiracy, money laundering, false statements, and failure to disclose foreign assets — all related to his work for Ukrainian politicians before he joined the Trump campaign. He’s pleaded not guilty on all counts. Then, in February, Mueller filed a new case against him in Virginia, with tax, financial, and bank fraud charges.

4) Rick Gates, a former Trump campaign aide and Manafort’s longtime junior business partner, was indicted on similar charges to Manafort. But he has now agreed to a plea deal with Mueller’s team, pleading guilty to just one false statements charge and one conspiracy charge.

5-20) 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies were indicted on conspiracy charges, with some also being accused of identity theft. The charges related to a Russian propaganda effort designed to interfere with the 2016 campaign. The companies involved are the Internet Research Agency, often described as a “Russian troll farm,” and two other companies that helped finance it. The Russian nationals indicted include 12 of the agency’s employees and its alleged financier, Yevgeny Prigozhin.

21) Richard Pinedo: This California man pleaded guilty to an identity theft charge in connection with the Russian indictments, and has agreed to cooperate with Mueller.

22) Alex van der Zwaan: This London lawyer pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with Rick Gates and another unnamed person based in Ukraine.

Nope, no collusion here … nothing to see here … move along and let’s get busy building that wall, mining more coal, trashing more federal lands to drill for oil, and put all this nonsense about collusion behind us, right?


Look once again at that list of the members of the investigative panel.  They should not even have their name on the ballot in November, let alone be re-elected.  Did they bow to pressure from Trump?  Do they really believe that We The People are so stupid as to buy their garbage?  Was there pressure from someone other than Trump?  Were rewards offered, perhaps campaign donations to add to their coffers?  Or were they simply tired of pretending to do a job, the one for which we pay them?  I don’t know the answers, but I do know that their consciences ought to be keeping them awake as I write this post.  I do know that they are Dishonest with a capital ‘D’.  And I do know they do not deserve our respect nor our votes.

Trump was fairly please, as he tweeted …


7:49 PM – 12 Mar 2018

Ultimately, it appears, the only investigation that will get to the truth is that by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.  If something happens that disrupts his investigation, that halts it, we will have no justice in this nation, now or likely ever again.  I will be tweeting this post directly to the two panel members from my state, as well as to Trump.

Is Roger Stone Next On FBI’s Special Counsel Mueller’s Dance Card?

Ol’ Roger Stone is back in the headlines. Is it possible that he is about to finally get what he deserves? Please take a minute to read this post by our friend Gronda who has done her homework on this one, as always! Thank you, Gronda!!!

Gronda Morin


My guess is that Roger Stone, a long time political strategist and friend to the republican President Donald Trump will be next on the FBI”s Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russian probe to be invited for an interview where his testimony will be given under oath.

The circumstantial case that I have developed from public information leads me to think this. First, Roger Stone and Paul Manafort were business partners for years and their firm had actually previously done lobbying work on behalf of the president during his casino business days. Roger Stone has ties to Russia going way back and so does Paul Manafort.

As per the 8/6/15 Hill report by Mark Hensch, Roger Stone said he (was) resigning from the New York business mogul’s political team after concluding he is not aiding its progress…
“I resigned largely because I thought I was having no impact,” Stone told host Poppy…

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NRA Decides Constitutionality???

In the annals of lawsuits, this one has to rank right up there with the old woman who sued McDonalds (and won) for making the coffee too hot and she was burned when she foolishly spilled it between her legs.  Who’s suing who, you ask?  The plaintiff in the case, the sue-er, is none other than the infamous National Rifle Association, the NRA.  The defendant, the sue-ee, is the State of Florida.  And why, you ask, is the NRA suing Florida?  Because the State of Florida had the cojones to stand up and do something about the foolish free-for-all with guns that led to the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, on February 14th.  The State of Florida took the bull by the horns, listened to the grief stricken voices of the Parkland survivors last month, and said, “ENOUGH!!!!!”  My hat is off, and my thumbs are up to the Florida State Legislature and Governor Rick Scott.

First, let us look at the bill that was passed by the Florida State legislature, and then signed into law by Florida Governor Rick Scott on Friday.  The new law raises the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21 and extends the waiting period to three days for the purchase of all firearms. It also gives law enforcement more power to seize weapons, prohibits the sale of “bump stocks” — devices that can be put on semi-automatic weapons to increase their rate of fire. The measure also allows some school personnel to be armed.  The bill is too little; it is, perhaps, merely an effort to pay lip service to the young people who have made a valiant and determined effort to stop the madness, but still, it is a start. A small step.  Small steps are better than no steps.  A journey of a thousand miles, as the saying goes, begins with a single step.

The NRA had been on a long leash, obviously, waiting and knowing the moment was coming, for they filed their suit only one hour after Governor Scott signed the bill into law.  Since when does a lobbyist group have the right to write the laws in this nation?  Since when does the NRA decide constitutionality???  Since when is the NRA the Supreme Law of the Land?

The NRA claims “We filed a lawsuit against the state for violating the constitutional rights of 18- to 21-year-olds.”  Seriously???  18-21-year-olds have a constitutional right to murder?  To buy and carry, concealed, a weapon that can cause mass destruction and take as many as 400 lives in a single 60-second minute?  That’s right, people … the gun the shooter in Parkland, Florida, used on 14 February was an AR-15, which can fire up to 400 rounds per minute.  And we believe that the founding fathers intended children age 18 to be in control of one of these weapons???

No, the NRA filed that suit because they were told by the people controlling their purse-strings to get rid of that law at all costs, for it might cost a few thousand sales to the gun industry.  Might also save a few thousand lives, but hey … no big deal, right?

Personally, I would have liked to see the law go even further, to include universal background checks and a ban on assault rifles.  And I would, again, have preferred not to call for armed personnel within the school.  However, I still must applaud especially Governor Scott, for it took courage for him to stand against the NRA.  Scott has previously had an A+ rating with the NRA, yet he ignored their threats and signed the bill.  For once, perhaps, he put the safety and the wishes of his constituency above the corrupt gun lobby.  And I also applaud the Florida Legislature, where 67 republicans with A ratings from the NRA also voted for the bill.

If Florida could do it, so can the rest of the states.  Come on Texas, South Carolina, Utah, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Minnesota … get off your collective patooties, grow some cojones, and follow suit.  Don’t let the NRA lawsuit worry you.  The public, the citizens, the voters stand behind stricter gun laws, and the lawmakers damn well better put a higher value on We The People than they do the NRA.  Most gun owners do not belong to the NRA.  The NRA actually represents a very small group of ordinary people.  Their bigger concern is the manufacturers and sellers of guns.  Just think, if every state in the nation passed even the watered-down law that Florida passed, the NRA would bankrupt itself filing lawsuits against every single state!

I wonder if I can file a lawsuit against the NRA, for here I sit at 5:00 a.m., seething as I write this story, drinking my umpteenth cup of coffee and eating pretzels with peanut-butter, as my fingers literally beat the printed letters off my laptop keyboard.  A rather unhealthy lifestyle caused by the angst of reading of the hypocrisy of the NRA.  I should think that at the very least I could sue for a new laptop, as I no longer have an “N” printed on the key between ‘B’ and ‘M’.

This nation has lost its way if we place more value on giving guns to 18-year-olds than we place on human life.  We have lost our way when lawmakers are actually unwilling to do their job for fear of reprisals from an unsavory organization like the NRA.  Wayne LaPierre is not one of our lawmakers.   We The People did not vote him into office, nor has he been, to the best of my knowledge, appointed to a judicial position.  There was a time I would have predicted that the suit by the NRA would have no teeth, no chance of winning.  Today, I am less sure.  I think the answer is for every state to pass similar, or even tougher gun laws.  Make the NRA spread themselves thin trying to keep up with all their lawsuits.  I know of no other answer, for the members of Congress have already shown us that our wishes, our very lives, have less value to them than their NRA funding.  This nation needs to stand up to the bullies in the gun industry … NOW!

Did We Forget To Be Human?

The news from Ghouta takes a backseat to the affair between Donald Trump & Stormy Daniels in the U.S. media.  An extra-marital affair, a payoff, misuse of campaign funds, are all juicier news to the average consumer of news in the U.S. than 1,000 dead and 4,800 wounded so far in 2018 in a nation on the other side of the globe.  Even our leaders turn a blind eye, caring more about partisan bickering and filling their own campaign coffers than human lives.

For those who still think that Ghouta is something to eat, a bit of clarification:

Ghouta is a suburb of Damascus, Syria, the last rebel-held enclave close to the Syrian capital, that has been bombarded by Bashar al-Assad’s forces for weeks on end, with Russian air support.  Perhaps the pictures can explain it better than my words.

Many of the dead are children.  People are bleeding to death, starving to death in the streets.  An estimated 400,000 are trapped with nowhere to go and no way to get there if there were some safe haven.

“France and Britain convene an emergency meeting of the Security Council and press for enforcement of last month’s Resolution 2401, calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities. In this effort, the United States is nowhere, silent, AWOL, as President Vladimir Putin and his Syrian sidekick do their worst. The message to Moscow is clear: Donald Trump’s America does not care about Syria, or war crimes, or human rights. Russian cynicism and American absence produce disaster.

Emmanuel Macron, the French president, calls Putin. He dispatches his foreign minister to Moscow and Tehran in an attempt to stop the slaughter. Trump, to whom moral indignation — indeed morality itself — is a stranger, does not care. His Middle East foreign policy has two components: Back Israel, bash Iran. With respect to Putin, he is compromised, or enamored, to the point of incapacity. Let Syria burn.” Roger Cohen, New York Times, 09 March 2018

Perhaps a personal story might make it more real:

Marwan Habaq and his infant daughter, Yasmina, would spend hours at home watching their fish swimming in circles in a tank at home. Mr. Habaq bought the fish before the war. As supplies dwindled, fish food was harder to find. But nine fish survived.

“Me and Yasmina loved the fish, but my wife used to get jealous, because we were paying more attention to the fish than her,” he said.

Yasmina also loved her stuffed toy, a bright red bumblebee bought by her father.

“Usually babies react to colorful stuff, and Yasmina did the same,” he said.

When the airstrikes intensified, Mr. Habaq and his wife grabbed their daughter and fled into the basement, leaving the aquarium and stuffed bumblebee upstairs.

On Feb. 23, their home was bombed. His voice broke as he described the wreckage.

“Every corner of the house was dear to me, but Yasmina’s stuff was the most precious,” he said. He found the bumblebee, half scorched.

As for the aquarium: “I only found one burned fish under the rubble, the rest were ashes.”

There are many, many other stories, and this is not the worst of them.

The new isolationist stance of the U.S. has gone too far when we, as a once-powerful nation, turn our back on this level of grief and suffering.  These are human beings, each with people who love them, each with lives to live, each with stories to tell.  They are not just statistics to be relegated to page 15 of the New York Times.  Ghouta is not a Hungarian stew!  Ghouta is a city with nearly a half-million people, every one of whose lives are in danger at this very moment.

For now, Yasmina and her family are alive.  Many others are not.  Meanwhile, the U.S. media salivates over news of Stormy Daniels and Donald Trump.  Every “news” story has the word ‘Trump’ in the headlines.  And we sit back eating our morning Cheerios while reading the salacious gossip, hanging on Trump’s every insignificant tweet.  Across the globe, people are starving, wandering amidst the rubble searching for loved ones, for a scrap of food or a bit of water.  And the bombs keep coming.

East vs West?

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” – Donald Trump, 08 August 2017

“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.” – Donald Trump, 19 September 2017

“He is unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme command of a country, and he is surely a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire, rather than a politician.” – Kim Jong-un, 22 September 2017

“Whatever Trump might have expected, he will face results beyond his expectation. I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.” – Kim Jong-un, 22 September 2017

“Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?’ Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend — and maybe someday that will happen!” – Donald Trump, 11 November 2017

“It’s not a mere threat but a reality that I have a nuclear button on the desk in my office. All of the mainland United States is within the range of our nuclear strike.” – Kim Jong-un, 01 January 2018

“North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” – Donald Trump, 02 January 2018

“I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un.” – Donald Trump, 11 January 2018

It would be hilarious, were it not so pathetic, that we can predict when Trump’s approval rating will rise.  On the very rare occasions that he has done something perceived as being the right thing, such as his State of the Union Address in January, his approval rating goes up … not a lot, mind you, but up over 40%. It gradually drops back down to its normal 35% – 37% until the next time.  I knew today before I even looked that it would be up, simply because of his agreement to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in May to discuss nuclear disarmament.  Members of Trump’s base have worn their palms raw from clapping so hard.  But hold on just a minute, folks …

While many are praising Trump for accepting the invitation to meet with the North Korean leader, and are holding out high hopes for wonderful results, I view the potential meeting, should it even take place, with some degree of trepidation.  A large degree of trepidation, actually.  Why?  Because a meeting between these two strange personalities playing at being world leaders is a recipe for potential disaster.  Both are hot-headed, narcissistic, megalomaniacs who have been throwing barbs and insults across the sea at each other for more than a year (see above).  Surely you don’t think that just because they are in a room together, they will each suddenly become calm, rational and intelligent beings whose only goal is to promote global peace, do you?

First, there is the main goal of the meeting.  While both Trump and Kim use the same terminology, ‘denuclearization’, they define the word quite differently.  For Donald Trump, denuclearization means North Korea giving up their nuclear program and cessation of all further nuclear tests.  For Kim Jong-un, the more likely ideal outcome would be a bilateral disarmament and would also likely include reversing sanctions Trump has imposed on North Korea, as well as withdrawal of U.S. troops from the peninsula.  If Trump goes into this meeting thinking to take without giving, he will be sorely disappointed.

Second, this is not the way in which diplomacy happens.  Now, I know some may jump in and say that perhaps this is the better way – two leaders meeting without prior negotiations and planning by seasoned diplomats.  But there is a reason ambassadors and diplomats such as State Department heads are typically involved in the initial negotiations and preparations … that is their forte, they are the experts in the field.  They lay the groundwork, feel out the other side, report back to their respective countries, and go from there.  Diplomats are trained to listen to the other side.  Trump has no penchant for listening, for he believes that his own words are the only ones of any importance. Unfortunately, we are short several diplomats in the area, and Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson is still learning the job he was ill-prepared for, and is often the subject of much ridicule in the Korean peninsula.

And third, we must consider the personalities of these two megalomaniacs.  Look again at the taunts and threats at the beginning of this post.  These are the mentalities that will meet up in a room, these are the two “men”, and I do use the term loosely, who will be trying to come to terms on something about which they both feel strongly, and which, if the talk turns to vitriol and disparagement, could threaten the security of every nation on the planet.

So yes, I am less than enthused by the prospect of a meeting between these two.  Some good may come out of it, and if so, I will be thankful and perhaps the world will breathe a sigh of relief.  But let us not lose sight of the fact that there are potential perils.

One thing that we all need to do is ignore the bombast and braggadocio that comes from not only Trump, but his White House boot-lickers as well.  It is irrelevant.  No, agreeing to meet with Kim Jong-un is not the greatest foreign policy win of the past 100 years.  No, no, and no, it does not make him the greatest ‘president’ in U.S. history.  The proof will be, or fail to be in the results, if the meeting takes place.  Until then, the media and We The People need to not fall prey to his silly self-praise.  Let him pat himself on the back as he will … just don’t watch.  Even if he pulls this off and comes back with a reasonable agreement that makes the world a little safer place, it cannot undo all the harm he has done in the past 14 months.  What he will be doing, if he succeeds in negotiating with Kim, is his job … nothing more, nothing less.