‘Toons To Jump-Start The Weekend!

Whew … what a week, eh?  Take heart, my friends, for it’s Friday and hopefully we’ll have a two-day break from any major screw-ups by you-know-who.  I think he usually spends the weekends golfing and pigging out at one of his golf resorts … on  our dime, of course.  What better way to head into the weekend than with a few ‘toons, mostly at ol’ what’s-his-name’s expense?


Of course the biggest news item of the week was Trump’s idea that he could just pick up the phone, contact Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, and purchase Greenland.  Never mind that Congress had not authorized such a purchase, never mind that Greenland is an autonomous nation … he had a wild hair and acted, foolishly, on it.  Well, at least the cartoon artists had some fun with it.

COLORgreenland-2Nick Anderson cartoongreenland-4greenland-5Bruce Plante Cartoon: Trump and Greenlandgreenland-7


The saddest, most maddening news was that Trump has decided to strip the Endangered Species Act, placing profit ahead of life, ahead of the earth.  All living things are part of earth’s ecosystem and when we lose one species, it disturbs the balance.  Sadly, the only ‘balance’ that Trump and his cronies are concerned about is the one in their investment portfolio.  

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sad


Economists have been warning for a while now that there are signs of a pending slowdown … or worse.  Still, da man in da Oval lives in his own little world, listens to nobody, and says he trusts his ‘gut’ more than all the experts.  Sure is enough of his gut, isn’t there.  Anyway … for two weeks now, certain indicators of a potential recession have caused some market fluctuations.  Trump has an economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, who doesn’t even have a degree in economics … he, apparently, listens to Trump’s ‘gut’, too.  Trump has been bouncing off walls … first he’s going to cut payroll taxes, then he’s not.  He’s demanding that the Federal Reserve lower interest rates even more (really bad move, folks), and when Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell indicated that a huge cut was unlikely, Trump called him “the enemy”, said he didn’t know whether our real enemy was China or Powell.  And as if that weren’t enough, so far he has blamed both the democrats and the media for trying to crash his economy just to make him look bad.  As if he needed help with that … 

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As we all knew he would, he reversed course on backing any new gun legislation, such as expanded background checks or red flag laws … {yawn} … it was only a matter of time.  We the People are far less important that his buddies over at the NRA …

gunsguns-2


I particularly liked this one …

Trump-tweets


And lastly, I just couldn’t resist a poke at the ginormous ego that is part and parcel of Donald Trump.  He was giving a press conference, when suddenly he stopped, looked up at the sky, and declared, “I am the chosen one”.  Please, somebody, shut this man up!!!  First, I have to ask … the chosen WHAT???  And chosen by whom?  Vladimir Putin? 

chosen-onechosen-one-2


Have a great weekend, my friends!

United We Stand … Divided We ???

Sean Spicer … remember him?  The first to claim that Trump’s less-than-stellar inauguration had drawn bigger crowds than Obama’s in 2009, he soon tired of being forced to tell so many lies on behalf of Trump that he resigned his position as White House Press Secretary and returned to private life.  So, what’s he doing now, you ask?  Why, he’s Dancing with the Stars, of course!DWTSThat’s right, folks, Sean is going to be paid between $125,000 and $295,000, depending on how long he remains on the show … as compared to the $180,000 per annum he earned as Trump’s mouthpiece.  Now, the show’s host, Tom Bergeron, is not at all pleased with Sean’s gig, and put out the following statement:Bergeron-statementNew York television critic James Poniewozik also sees it as a bad … really bad idea …

“To treat Spicer, and his reason for notoriety, as a harmless joke is to whitewash the harm of what he did, which was to say things so absurdly false that he invited his political side to join him in denying their own eyeballs, to encourage people to believe that facts don’t matter if they hurt your team.”

But Sean sees it differently.  He claims his appearance(s) on DWTS will “bring the country together” …

Sean Spicer Visits "Extra"

“My overall hope is that at the end of this season that Tom looks at this and says, bringing people together of very diverse backgrounds, whether it’s in politics or other areas, and allowing them to show America how we can engage in a really respectful and civil way, is actually a way to help bring the country together as opposed to bring it apart.”

Which brings me to my topic of the day: the divisiveness in this nation.

In any nation at any time, there will be conflicts, issues that divide the pro-business right and the pro-humanitarian left.  It has always been so, and that isn’t going to change, probably ever.  Most often, this is a healthy thing, leads to the best possible solution, a meeting of the minds.  But, today that divisiveness, which I have often enough referred to as ‘the great divide’, is at the highest level since the end of the Civil War in 1865.  Having a highly controversial political figure on an entertainment show is not going to change that.  And make no mistake, Sean Spicer is still lying for Donald Trump, as a senior advisor and spokesman for a pro-Trump super Political Action Committee (PAC) called America First.great-divideToday, there is no middle ground … the right has gone to the extreme right, and the left has moved further left than ever before.  There is no room for moderates, no tolerance for bipartisan lawmaking, and very little civil discourse taking place.  You’re either with us, or you’re ‘agin us’. Social media is a large part of the culprit here … sites like Facebook and Twitter could be venues for respectful, meaningful dialog, searching for answers to better understand ‘the other side’, but instead people have turned these sites into a venue for spewing hate and ugly reactions.

While I fully support the 1st Amendment right to free speech, there are times that unfettered freedom of speech does far more harm than good.  Conservatives and liberals, right and left, will never completely see eye-to-eye, will always be ideologically divided, but the state of affairs we see today cannot endure.

On June 16, 1858, President Abraham Lincoln gave an address after accepting the Illinois Republican Party’s nomination as that state’s US senator.  An excerpt from that speech is apt today …

“A house divided against itself, cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.”

The situation was different then, the ideology different, but in some ways not so different after all.  Then, as now, there were some who believed that people with darker skin had less value.  That, certainly, is one of our issues today, but others are more complex.  Today, we fight over whether there is more value in large corporations having nearly-unlimited profit margins, or in protecting our environment and rescuing all life on earth.  Today, we fight over whether it is the role of government to assist those who cannot, whether temporarily or permanently, meet their own financial needs, or whether those people should simply be left to die.

Today, we fight over whether health care is a right for everyone, or a privilege for only the few.  Today, we fight over whether or not every Tom, Dick and Harry should have access to guns that were meant for one purpose only:  to kill.  Today, we fight over whether LGBTQ people are to be afforded the same civil rights as the rest of society, or whether they should be looked down on and treated as ‘sub-human’.  And today, despite the mandate for a separation of church and state in the U.S. Constitution, we fight over whether one specific religion has the right to impose their beliefs, their will, on all in this secular nation.

The above are only a few of the issues dividing this nation, but they are highly-charged, emotional issues, and they are leading us down a path that can only end in disaster.  Shortly after Lincoln’s speech, we ended up in a Civil War.  In that war, there was a line of demarcation – there can be none this time, for on any given street in this country, you will find people on both ends of the spectrum.  In the Civil War, the north wore blue and the south wore grey … in this war, everybody looks essentially the same.  The civil war divided families, brother fought brother.  This ‘war’ has already divided families, destroyed decades-long friendships, and led to bloodshed.

Sadly, the people who we have elected to govern this nation, are only widening the divide.  It is in their power to bring the two sides together, to ‘reach across the aisle’ and set an example for the people of this nation.  It is their responsibility and duty to do just that, but they have chosen to shirk those duties, to help widen the gap, to breed even more hatred and division across the nation.  Unless things at the top change drastically, this is not going to end well, my friends.  Sean Spicer is not an ambassador for good will, but rather is as much a part of the dividing wedge as any.  Watching him tap dance and likely end up on his arse is not the cure for what ails this nation.

I offer no solutions, for if I were that smart, I would be sitting in the Oval Office, or have an office on Capitol Hill.  I only know that we must do something soon, else the United States will be torn asunder, and likely end up in tatters.  All I ask is that you … think about it.

The Boiling Frog

Most of the blogs I read on a semi-regular basis are political or historical in nature, but there are a handful that I try to catch once a week or so for their humour or feel-good value. Recently, our friends Ellen and Benjamin introduced me to a new one, Nuggets of Gold. Nuggets is usually humorous and/or uplifting. The blogger, Joy of Roses, is a very lovable lady, and about once a week I pop in there for a smile or two and a hug. Yesterday, however, she took on a more serious tone, just for the day, and wrote this post which I think puts into words something that most of us feel at a gut level but have tried to avoid voicing, rather like the elephant in the room. So, allow me to introduce you to Joy of Roses, and please think about her words … I hope they are not prophetic, but they are certainly reflective of our situation today. Thank you, Joy of Roses, for this well-written and thoughtful post and for your permission to share it.

Nuggets of Gold

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When I was in school and first studied about Hitler I remember feeling sickened by what I learned. It was mind boggling to me how a Country could let someone so evil take over power and do all the horrible things that he did!

What I grew to realize was that he wasn’t outright evil all at once. It was a growing thing. He didn’t call for the extermination of the Jews right away. He started slowly taking their rights away, and then encouraging people not to buy from them and so on. He persuaded people to believe that he was doing the right thing for the Country, that he would make Germany great again. He was disgruntled about how Germany was.

There are articles that say that his stare could be mesmerizing and intimidating and he would use that when making speeches and making eye contact with others. It…

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The Twilight Zone Presidency

A day late to the party, I was reading Jeff’s post over at On the Fence Voters, and he was doing a wrap-up of yesterday’s news … you know, Trump referring to himself as the “chosen one”, picking a fight with Denmark, gloating over conspiracy-theorist Wayne Allen Root’s nauseating praise of Trump … and suddenly my jaw dropped. I try to stay on top of the news, but I had missed this one. There’s a new media outlet in town, folks, and this, as Jeff says, will leave you feeling like we truly are living in the Twilight Zone. Take a look at what he has found out about Epoch Times … but first, take a few aspirins and perhaps have an antacid handy, for you may feel ill by the time you get to the end. Thank you, Jeff, for this enlightenment …

On The Fence Voters

I was too young to remember the original television series The Twilight Zone, which ran on CBS from 1959-1964. But I do remember watching those same shows, which ran in syndication for several years in the late 60s and 70s. Yes, I’m dating myself here. So for those who have no recollection of the series, the host, Rod Serling, would appear at the beginning and introduce each show with a short monologue explaining what we were about to see.

The show was unique for its time and entered into strange and often highly imaginative themes that bordered on the bizarre and extreme. After the last few days of President Trump’s continued hijacking of all available oxygen in the media world, I found myself remembering the legendary series and thinking that we have indeed entered The Twilight Zone. Even a guy with the innovative imagination of Rod Serling would have had…

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Two Mini-Rants …

As best I can figure, the only thing Donald Trump did yesterday was stir the pot on Twitter.  He surely must have blisters on his thumbs by now.  Does he ever actually work?  He was on his very worst behaviour today.  Early on, I began comparing his presidency to a train headed at full-speed toward a big cliff.  Today, that cliff seems to be looming just over the horizon.  I don’t know how one ‘man’ can get so many things so wrong in the course of a 24-hour period! train-cliff


trump babyThe child got his tender little feelings hurt when he asked a dumb question and was put in his place by the adult in the room.  The baby is now pouting and hurling objects at the adult in the room.  Typical?  Sure, in a household with a two-year-old child, but not in the Oval Office.

When Trump floated the idea of buying Greenland, even his own staff was confused.  One doesn’t, after all, just get up one morning and decide to buy another, autonomous country.  But, he persisted, and eventually the word got out and was published by the Wall Street Journal.  And then, inevitably, Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen got wind of it, and replied to the press …

“Greenland is not for sale. Greenland is not Danish. Greenland is Greenlandic. I persistently hope that this is not something that is seriously meant. Thankfully, the time where you buy and sell other countries and populations is over. Let’s leave it there. Jokes aside, we will of course love to have an even closer strategic relationship with the United States.”

Trump got a bee up his {ahem} and decided, based on PM Frederiksen’s response, to cancel a trip that was planned for September 2nd – 3rd, the invitation to visit having been issued by Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II.

PM Frederiksen was wise when she said, “Let’s leave it there”, however Trump is not used to being told “No” and handled the incident so poorly that it is likely to create ill-will between the two nations.

Headlines in Denmark read …

  • “The U.S. and Denmark’s relationship has never been this ice-cold. It will have wide-ranging consequences.”
  • “Trump sends Denmark and the U.S.’s relationship to the freezing point.”

Way to go, Donnie … you just drove a wedge between us and yet another ally. How many is that now?  I’ve lost track.


Wayne Allen Root … the name rings a bell … let me check my archives … AHA!  There it is … I knew he sounded familiar, and no big surprise that he was awarded Idiot of the Week in May, 2017.  You notice how the idiots keep popping back up?  A bit of background …

root-bookRoot is a conspiracy theorist and was on the hate bandwagon when Barack Obama was our President.  He claimed that Obama lied about attending Columbia University, then turned around and said that Obama did, in fact, attend, but that he did so as a foreign exchange student.  He claimed that Obama “cut his afro” in order to infiltrate the political class and become a “Manchurian candidate” meant to take down America from within.  He claimed to have diagnosed Obama as an “arrogant, egomaniacal sociopath” who is either “mentally ill” or committing treason and must be removed from office “before he kills us all” with Ebola-ridden terrorists.

Well, you can read the rest of the idiocy that won him the award, for today there is more!  Mr. Root hosts some ‘call-in’ show on Newsmax TV, and yesterday, his idiocy kicked into full gear, and he said the following on his show …

root-5“I happen to be Jewish by birth and 75% of all Jews vote Democrat, and they don’t like Trump. This is the greatest president for Jews and for Israel in the history of the world. Not just in America, Trump is the best president for Israel in the history of the world. And the Jewish people love him like he is the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God.

In America, American Jews don’t like him. They don’t even know what they’re doing or saying anymore. It makes no sense. But that’s okay. He keeps doing what he’s doing. He’s good for all of us. Good for Jews, good for blacks, good for gays.

He is good for everyone in America who wants a job.”

What. A. Fool.  Trump, predictably, ate it up and tweeted Root’s words on Twitter.  But that wasn’t even enough for Trump.  Noooooo … he had to go on and make the most inflammatory comment that has everyone, Jew and non-Jew (except, of course, his blind followers) up in arms.

“If you vote for a Democrat, you’re being disloyal to Jewish people and you’re being very disloyal to Israel.”

Ladies and gentlemen … the United States of America has at the head of its government a madman.  He lacks every single qualification that is needed to lead the nation:  intelligence, common sense, compassion, humanitarianism, integrity, honesty, the ability to compromise when necessary, the ability to speak properly, the ability to remain calm under pressure, and the list goes on.

I hereby invite any republican to respectfully tell me what, exactly, they see of value in Donald Trump.  Please be specific … don’t say “he tells it like it is”, “he’s making America great again”, or “he’s one of us”.  Those don’t tell me a thing.  Give me specifics, positive things you believe he has done.  The door is open … feel free to walk through it …


And now, I shall go take a handful of aspirin 💊, pour a glass of sherry 🍷, and seek solace in a bit of music ♫ before going to bed.  Goodnight all.

It’s Not About Abortion – It’s About Life

Yesterday, Planned Parenthood announced that it would withdraw from the federal family planning program known as Title X.  The Title X Family Planning program was enacted in 1970 as Title X of the Public Health Service Act. Title X is the only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services. The Title X program is designed to provide access to contraceptive services, supplies, and information to all who want and need them. By law, priority is given to persons from low-income families.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), under Trump’s hand-picked Alex Azar, attached a new condition on receiving Title X funding – that the recipients, such as Planned Parenthood, can no longer make abortion referrals.  This, my friends, is nothing more than the federal government attempting to inflict the beliefs of the Christian evangelical community, a vocal minority of the population, on everyone in the nation.  It is an attempt to make religious beliefs into public policy.  It is a huge step away from being the secular nation that we started out to be, that we need to be.

But let’s be clear … while the intent may be to deprive a woman of the right to have an abortion, this is not about abortion.  This is not about whether a woman has a right to decide what is right for her, in some cases having an abortion.  This is about whether a woman has a right to live or not.  Planned Parenthood is not just about helping a woman get an abortion, and in fact that is a very small percentage of what they do.

planned-parenthood-servicesAs you can see, money spent on providing abortions is a mere 3% of their total, AND … NO FEDERAL MONIES are spent on abortion.  Now, look at some of the other things they do …

  • STD and HIV testing and treatment
  • Birth control
  • Screening for reproductive cancers (like breast, cervical, testicular, and prostate cancers)
  • Pap tests and well woman exams
  • Vaccines
  • PrEP and PEP (medicines to help prevent HIV)
  • Pregnancy services and prenatal care
  • Transgender health services, including hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
  • Vasectomy and other sterilization services
  • Condoms

Planned Parenthood saves lives.  In many rural areas, they are the only provider of the above services that may save a woman’s life.  Or a man’s, for you may note they also do screening for testicular and prostate cancers.  They provide prenatal care … the anti-abortion group might do well to consider that they are robbing that fetus they care so much about of such things as the vitamins to ensure they are healthy, and regular screenings to detect any potential problems that might be avoided with timely treatment.

Evangelicals have been calling for the government to ‘de-fund’ Planned Parenthood for decades, but instead of de-funding it, the government set a criteria that they could no longer make abortion referrals.  Planned Parenthood said, in essence, “Okay, keep your money then … for there are times that a woman’s life and health depend on abortion.”

There’s a certain irony here, too, that a large portion of what Planned Parenthood does involves birth control and family planning education, both of which significantly lower the need for abortions, and yet those who claim to be “pro-life” are depriving women of those services as well.

I do not applaud Planned Parenthood’s decision, but I do support it … it was the right thing for them to do.  However, I do not support the government’s imposition of the criteria, I do not support the evangelicals who coerced the government into setting the criteria.  Those evangelicals call themselves “pro-life”, but they are not.  They are not considering the lives of the thousands of women who rely on Planned Parenthood for birth control, annual checkups, family planning services, and much more.

There will be backlash over this.  I do not know what the end result will be, but somehow, we must continue to fund Planned Parenthood.  They do not provide abortions with Title X funds, but only with private funding.  They provide a tremendous service to women, they save lives of both babies and mothers, and they are an integral part of women’s healthcare, especially among lower income women.

I came across a short video on Scottie’s Toybox that I think explains the issue quite well … please take a minute or two … well, actually 7 minutes, but it is well worth the time spent.

Are we going to be held hostage in other areas by the evangelicals?  Are we going to let them dictate, for example, that there must be mandatory religious classes in schools?  Are we going to let them tell us that it is okay for employers to discriminate against LGBT people?  The United States is, appropriately, a secular nation, not as some would believe, a Christian nation.  Twenty-five percent, fully one-fourth of this nation are non-Christians.  We are Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, atheists and agnostics.  We have a voice, too.  We pay taxes, too.  We contribute our skills and ideas as much as any.  And 50.52% of this nation are women.  We pay taxes and have a voice, too.

Abortion is not the root of all evil.  Often a woman has an abortion because she is unable to provide for her child.  The world is already over-populated and the last thing we need are more hungry mouths to feed.  Those same people who call for an end to all abortions, also fight against their tax dollars going to help feed and shelter those children once they are born.  Pro-life???  I don’t think so … just anti-women.  If you ever doubted that it’s still a man’s world, doubt no more.mans world

Trumponomics 101

He’s cutting taxes … again.  No wait … he isn’t cutting taxes!  He’s reversing his trade tariffs.  No wait … he isn’t doing that, either!  Just what the hell is the fool in the Oval Office doing???  Nobody knows, for sure.

Economists have been predicting that the nation will see another recession before the end of 2020.  I am not an economist, but nonetheless put my two cents worth in and say I think it will come by the end of 2019, or at least a harbinger of a recession.  Trump has seemingly believed that his house of cards would stand at least through November 3rd, 2020 … election day.

Well, last week there were some warning signs.  First, Trump’s latest round of tariffs on imports from China sent retailers into a frenzy, with the holiday shopping season on the horizon, and so as the Dow headed south, Trump postponed those tariffs, and the next day all was well once again.  Then, the bond market flashed a warning signal, as the spread between the 2-year Treasury note and 10-year bond inverted for the first time in more than a decade.  That has historically presaged a recession, and so once again the market turned southward, losing about 3% last Thursday.

Trump to his base, the only people who believe a word he says, claimed that …

“Our Economy is very strong, despite the horrendous lack of vision by Jay Powell and the Fed. The Fed Rate, over a fairly short period of time, should be reduced by at least 100 basis points, with perhaps some quantitative easing as well. If that happened, our Economy would be even better, and the World Economy would be greatly and quickly enhanced-good for everyone!”

Oh, wouldn’t it be lovely if the “man” actually had a clue about what he is speaking?

He talks of further tax cuts.  Our national debt and budget deficits are both already at a historic high … and he wants to cut revenue even more???  Where the heck is the money going to come from to keep the government functioning, to pay Social Security checks and pay the military and pay for food stamps, Medicare/Medicaid, etc., etc., etc.???  How will the United States pay its loans?  Has the “man” no sense of how the economy works, how revenue vs expenses work, how a budget works?  Yeah, silly question, isn’t it?  He has no concept … he thinks you have to have an ID to buy groceries.

But it gets even better (where ‘better’ means ‘worse’ in the alternative universe).  Remember back in May 2016, when Trump was hot on the campaign trail and he made this statement …

“People said I want to go and buy debt and default on debt, and I mean, these people are crazy. This is the United States government. First of all, you never have to default because you print the money, I hate to tell you, OK?”

Oh, my aching head!!!  Donnie, Donnie, Donnie … it is NOT that simple!  The money that is printed is expected to be backed up with real assets!  This is not an effing game of Monopoly but is real world economics!

Printing more money will only exacerbate the problem, yet that is precisely what Trump is proposing to offset the market downturn that he swears doesn’t exist.  Or rather, that he believes has been created by his enemy, “the media”.

“The Fake News Media is doing everything they can to crash the economy because they think that will be bad for me and my re-election. The problem they have is that the economy is way too strong and we will soon be winning big on Trade, and everyone knows that, including China!”

print-moneyPeople … sigh … the incumbent does not know what he is doing.  He does not understand how global markets work.  He does not understand how the economy works.  He barely understands how to wipe his patootie.  To my republican friends:  I beg of you, please study this situation, try to understand what your “hero” is doing to not only this nation, but to the world.

Most presidents are not economists.  But then, most presidents hire economic advisors who ARE economists, who DO understand how the world of economics and high finance works, and more importantly, they actually LISTEN to those paid advisors.  Trump is convinced that his “gut” (and there is certainly enough of it) is smarter than all the advisors that WE THE PEOPLE are paying, and he listens to nobody.  Folks … there is a price to be paid for this folly.  We will all pay that price.  Think about it.

If You Give A Kid A Gun …

In this era of Trump, we’ve heard some pretty stupid things, but something I read just this morning takes the cake.  With the subject of gun control back in the headlines in the wake of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton a couple of weeks ago, the NRA is spewing their message once again about “a good guy with a gun”, etc.

Florida is one of the states considering a ban on assault weapons, so the NRA jumped into action, sending one of their leading lobbyists and former president of the NRA (1995-1998), Marion Hammer, to speak to a group of economists. marion-hammer.pngMs. Hammer’s first argument against the proposed amendment to ban assault weapons was that Florida Governor Rick Scott “solicited and offered significant financial incentives to gun manufacturers to come to Florida to bring more jobs”.  And now, the poor gun manufacturers may suffer a financial loss if assault weapons are banned.  They’ve got my deepest sympathy.  Hey!  I’ve got an idea … let’s send them “thoughts and prayers”, shall we?

But, Ms. Hammer’s second argument for why Florida should drop the ridiculous notion of saving lives by banning these guns that were intended only for use by the military, is even more ludicrous …

“How do you tell a 10-year-old little girl who got a Ruger 10/22 with a pink stock for her birthday that her rifle is an assault weapon and she has to turn it over to government or be arrested for felony possession?”

pink-assault-riflePick your jaws up off the ground now, take a deep breath.  Yes, she actually said that.  What sort of an idiot gives a 10-year-old child a damn assault rifle???  Anybody … ANYBODY who would give a child a gun of any sort, let alone an assault weapon, deserves to be drawn and quartered!!!

This is not the first time Ms. Hammer has come onto my radar.  About a year ago, I dedicated an entire post to her when she asserted her power to force the state to issue certain questionable gun licenses.  I was appalled that someone who doesn’t even hold a position in government had the sort of power she had, that she was able to browbeat and intimidate government officials to do her bidding.

Lest you think that most of the nation has better sense than to place firearms in the small arms of children, read this excerpt from an article in The Guardian last year …

A 2012 report by the Hunting Heritage Trust and the National Shooting Sports Foundation states: “It is important to consider more hunting and target shooting recruitment programs aimed at middle school level, or earlier.”

The report lays out a “Youth Hunter and Shooter Ambassador Program” strategy, in which kids are encouraged to influence their friends to get into guns. “Youth ambassadors and others should focus on getting newcomers to take a first step into target shooting through any means … The point should be to get newcomers started shooting something, with the natural next step being a move toward actual firearms.”

Young children looking to get into shooting have plenty of options when it comes to guns designed just for them. A 2014 article on NRA Family, an NRA-run website, profiles Marlin’s “new kid-friendly rifles”. The writer enthuses that Marlin’s “new XT line of .22 rifles … are not just sized for kids; they’re completely designed for kids”.pink-gunsAnother article on the NRA Family website suggests kids might also think about using Thompson/Center HotShot rifle, “a tiny gun intended for the very youngest shooters”. A company spokesman explains that gun targets “the six- to 12-year-old range”. These come in a variety of fun colour options.

Ms. Hammer was instrumental in the passage of Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law that allowed George Zimmerman to get off scot-free after murdering an unarmed young black man, Trayvon Martin.  And, while Governor Scott was happily giving tax incentives to companies like Colt and the Russian Kalashnikov (makers of the notorious AK-47), there was the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in 2016 that killed 49 people and wounded 53 more.  And then in 2018, the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people died and 17 more were wounded.

gun-ad-kidOh yeah, folks, the answer is not only more guns, but let’s start ‘em off as soon as their old enough to hold one in their hand.  Right out of the cradle, so that by the time they are teenagers, they will already own an arsenal that includes at least 3 or 4 assault rifles and maybe even a grenade launcher or two, eh?

21st Century … or Dark Ages???

“It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer … to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”

— Title VII, Civil Rights Act of 1964

There has been considerable debate about whether Title VII extends protections against discrimination to the LGBT community, and at present, it varies by state and locality, despite the fact that the entire Civil Rights Act is a federal law.  At this time, only 21 states have outlawed discrimination against members of the LGBT community.  A bill, the Equality Act,  was introduced into the House of Representatives in March of this year by Representative David Cicilline. The bill has passed in the House and is now languishing in the Senate committee, but the odds of it becoming the law of the land seem slim at the moment, given the makeup of the current Senate, and the fact that Donald Trump spoke against it after right-wing religious organizations urged the White House to issue an opposition statement to the bill.

There are currently three cases on the docket of the U.S. Supreme Court that will be heard on October 8th.  Briefly …

Zarda v Altitude Express:  Donald Zarda was fired from Altitude Express, where he worked as a skydiver. He informed a woman he was gay while they were strapped to each other because he thought it would make her feel more comfortable. She later informed his employer that she wasn’t happy with his sharing his being gay and he was subsequently fired. Zarda died in 2014 but his estate pursued the case.

Bostock v Clayton County:  Gerald Bostock, a child welfare services coordinator, was in a gay recreational softball league. He said his participation in the league and his sexual orientation became a problem with someone at work. Then he was fired for “conduct unbecoming of a county employee,” which he said was tied to his sexuality.

Harris Funeral Homes v EEOC:  Aimee Stephens, a trans woman, was fired from her job at a funeral parlor after she informed the funeral director she worked for that she was transgender. She had worked in funeral services for nearly 20 years and received positive feedback from her employer.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in all three cases on the same day, and according to Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, senior attorney at Lambda Legal, a civil rights organization focused on LGBTQ people …

“This is a momentous occasion. It is a pivotal moment and the public should be paying attention.  These cases will affect the ability of LGBTQ people to be full members of society and to contribute to society by entering the workplace and be free of discrimination.”

Meanwhile, the United States Justice Department under Trump’s hand-picked Attorney General William Barr sent a brief to the Supreme Court two days ago stating that they should find in favour of the employer in the Harris Funeral Homes case, arguing that …

“In 1964, the ordinary public meaning of ‘sex’ was biological sex. It did not encompass transgender status. In the particular context of Title VII — legislation originally designed to eliminate employment discrimination against racial and other minorities — it was especially clear that the prohibition on discrimination because of ‘sex’ referred to unequal treatment of men and women in the workplace.”

Since when is it right and proper for the Department of Justice to tell the Supreme Court how to rule???  The Judiciary is an independent branch that is intended to be apolitical, not influenced by partisan politics.  However, the reality does not always match the intent.  Today, there are 5 justices who lean toward conservative opinions, 4 who are more liberal.  Chief Justice John Roberts is typically the more moderate of the conservative-leaning justices, often casting the deciding vote.  It is likely to come down to his single vote, and there are serious concerns, for he wrote a dissenting opinion in the 2014 case of Obergefell v Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage at the federal level.  And lately he has disappointed us a few times, such as his vote to give state lawmakers virtually unlimited authority to draw district lines (gerrymandering) once every 10 years, pick their voters and entrench their political power.

This is the 21st century, not the Dark Ages.  It is time we learn to accept people … ALL people … for who they are.  If the employers in these three cases are allowed to prevail, it will indeed be a dark day in the United States, and no doubt it will then be only a matter of time until we see cases coming before the court dealing with discrimination in housing, in education, in every aspect of life.  I’m convinced that it is only a matter of time until a case comes before the Supreme Court that challenges Obergefell v Hodges.  And then what?  If we strip the LGBT community of their rights, will we soon see cases attempting to strip African-Americans of their rights by challenging other aspects of the Civil Rights Act, or of the Voting Rights Act?

Keep your eyes on this one, folks, for how these three cases are decided will be the best indicator yet whether or not there is still “liberty and justice for all” in this nation.

Steve King — Riding Off Into The Sunset?

Well, it looks like U.S. Representative Steve King from Iowa may have finally crossed one line too many.  Maybe.  King is an unapologetic bigot in every sense of the word, and yet his district has re-elected him every two years since 2002!  Says something about the people in Iowa, doesn’t it?  A recap of some of his most egregious offenses …

  • He has a long history of white-nationalist affiliations. The Washington Post described King as the “Congressman most openly affiliated with white nationalism”. His racist comments resulted in him being stripped of all his committee assignments earlier this year.
  • In an interview with the New York Times, King questioned why “white nationalist,” among other terms, are deemed racist language.
  • On the House floor in July 2006, King suggested building a border wall along the country’s southern border and said the top of the fence could be electrified. “We do that with livestock all the time.”
  • In March 2008, King said terrorists would celebrate a Barack Obama presidency and that al Qaeda “would be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on September 11 because they would declare victory in this war on terror.”
  • While talking about “Dreamers” in a July 2013 interview for Newsmax TV, King claimed that for every young immigrant who becomes a school valedictorian there are “100 out there that, they weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”

steve-king-2  steve-king-3

This is but a sampling of his atrocious views … in fact, I awarded him my coveted Idiot of the Week award in March 2017 … check it out to read about more of his idiocy!  In short, he is against anyone who is not white, straight, Christian and preferably male.  But his latest seems to be, perhaps, the straw that broke the camel’s back, even in ultra-conservative Iowa.

King has long been a foe of women’s rights, particularly the right to choose to have an abortion.  On Wednesday, he was giving a speech at the Westside Conservative Club in Urbandale, Iowa, when he attempted to justify his reason for refusing to support abortions even in cases of incest or rape …

“What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled those people out that were products of rape and incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that?  Considering all the wars and all the rapes and pillages taken place and whatever happened to culture after society? I know I can’t certify that I’m not a part of a product of that.  I’ve got 174 people who say they don’t want exceptions for rape and incest because they understand it is not the baby’s fault, to abort the baby, because of the sin of the father, and maybe sometimes the sin of the mother too. And so I refused to do that.”

Even the republicans were riled over that one … well, some of them anyway.  House Republican leaders broke from their August recess to publicly chastise him.  Liz Cheney, the party’s third highest-ranking member, tweeted that King’s comments were “appalling and bizarre … it’s time for him to go.”

Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, and Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the minority whip, both said Mr. King’s comments underscored why he had been removed from his committees.  Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has said she will no longer support Mr. King. Even #MoscowMitch McConnell has said that King should resign!

King faces a republican contender in the primary, State Senator Randy Feenstra, and a number of republicans have said they will support any republican who is not Steve King!  If campaign donations are an early indicator, Feenstra stands a good chance, with $260,000 in donations as compared to King’s significantly lower $62,000.  And, even if King survives the primary race, he will face democrat J.D. Scholten who almost beat him in 2018, losing by only about 10,000 votes.  Perhaps the people of Iowa are tired of King’s perversion, his hateful rhetoric, his bigotry?  Let us hope so.