Time For Some ‘Toons!

It’s been another of those weeks that was filled with ‘breaking news’, most of it angst-inducing.  These days, as never before at least in my recollection, has it been so difficult, nearly impossible, to keep up with it all.  To a large extent, perhaps that is the intent of the small mind in the Oval Office.  I have no less than five posts started, but before I can finish one, something else pops up and the result is I cannot focus at all now, so … I decided it’s time for a cartoon break!


Last Monday morning, after a telephone conversation between Trump and Turkey’s President Recep Erdoğan, Donald Trump announced that he would be pulling U.S. troops out of Syria, thus leaving our Kurdish allies to fend for themselves.  Since then, hundreds of Kurds have been slaughtered by the Turkish army.  Nothing funny about the situation, but the cartoonists sum it up well …

kurdskurds-2kurds-3kurds-4Thank you Kurdskurds-6kurds-7kurds-8kurds-9


And, of course the other big news concerns Trump’s other phone conversation, this one with President Zelenskyy of the Ukraine, whereby he attempted to bully, blackmail, or bribe Zelenskyy into ‘digging up dirt’ on one of Trump’s potential competitors in next year’s election, Joe Biden.  A whistleblower, concerned about the call and other issues, came forward, and it was this that at long last motivated the House to open a formal impeachment inquiry …

impeach-2impeach-4impeach-5ukrainewhistle-blower


Just under three weeks ’til Hallowe’en, folks.  Those kids who are hoping to score some treats at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue might want to re-think that plan …

Tom Toles Editorial Cartoon - tt_c_c191009.tifimpeach-1-a


We all know of Trump’s ego … it goes beyond ego, really … narcissism, megalomania … I’ve never seen someone who thought himself to be so superior …

trump-egoBruce Plante Cartoon: Trump's new doortrump-ego-3


A last one … this, I believe, sums up the entire past three years …

trump-smoking-gun


Enjoy your weekend!

If we don’t vote, we’ll get HIM again

I know thirteen months seems like a long time, but … November 3rd 2020, election day in the U.S., will be here before you know it. It is not too soon to start thinking about some things. Oh sure, most who are reading this know that they will vote for the democratic nominee, no matter who it is. But what about those who won’t likely vote? Just this morning I saw a tweet that said if Biden is the nominee, she won’t vote. What, if anything, can we do to motivate and encourage everyone to vote? Our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters has written a thoughtful and thought-provoking post about this and I encourage you to read it, think about it. We’ll chat more soon, for I have some ideas. Thank you, Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

I can’t remember a time where the news cycle is so fluid that you can’t even keep up with it. The media is undoubtedly earning their stripes in the era of Trump. When one scandal erupts over here, another one erupts over there. I go on Twitter for 10 minutes, and multiple stories are breaking all at once.

Is this what we signed up for? Sadly, yes, it is. According to Pew Research, Americans are one of the least active voting populations among developed countries, ranking 26 out of 32 countries in voter turnout. Belgium, for example, saw over 87 percent of voters turn out it 2014. Compare that to the approximately 56 percent who turned out in the 2016 American election, and it’s tough not to conclude that there’s a sizable portion of our population who are not engaged in our democracy.

And in 2016, that disengagement hurt…

View original post 486 more words

Filosofa’s Thoughts

Tonight, I was in an introspective mood, doing some thinking about where this nation appears to be headed and about the people of this nation who seemingly applaud the direction we are taking.  In the midst of my introspection, came the news that the so-called president of this country was once again conducting a rally and that he was, once again, denigrating those of us who speak or have spoken against him or his actions.  The rally was in Minnesota where he said of Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden …

“He was only a good Vice President because he understood how to kiss Barack Obama’s ass.”

This isn’t Dave down at the corner bar talking after a few beers, my friends … this is the ‘man’ who was elected to lead a nation of 330 million people.  At the same rally, he slammed Ilhan Omar, the U.S. House representative from Minnesota, saying …

“How do you have such a person representing you in Minnesota? I’m very angry at you people. She is a disgrace to our country, and she is one of the big reasons that I am going to win, and that the Republican Party is going to win, Minnesota in 13 months.”

But do you know what disgusts me the most, my friends?  At that last malicious statement by Trump, his audience stood and begin chanting “Four more years” and “Send her back”.

That’s right, my friends … a large number of the people of this nation still, despite his rants, his foul language, his illegalities, his anti-humanitarian rhetoric and policies, his self-serving nature, still find something to relate to … something to cling to.  And that is what disturbs me most.  People who I once thought I knew, people I once called “friend”, support the speech and actions of a person who is … a lawbreaking, lowlife bucket of scum.  And they want him to lead this nation … straight over the cliff or into the iceberg, whichever analogy you prefer.  I find that I can no longer respect or even tolerate those who would support a president whom I cannot respect.  And this led me to some thoughts … thoughts which, if you care to listen, I will share with you tonight.

  • I think that when the person who sits at the highest level of our government invites foreign nations to create chaos and promote falsehoods in our elections, as Trump did in 2016 and is doing already for the upcoming 2020 election, we cannot respect that person, for he is breaking the law, undermining the Constitution, and acting out of self-interest, not the interest of the nation.

  • I think that when the person who occupies an office that has been respected for more than 200 years stoops to calling any who don’t agree with him names such as ‘pompous ass’, ‘fat Jerry’, ‘nervous Nancy’, ‘lyin’ Ted’, ‘shifty Schiff’, and more, that person cannot expect and does not deserve the respect of the nation.

  • I think that when the person who was elected to lead a nation of 330 million people turns his back on that nation’s allies, pulls out of crucial previously negotiated treatises, and leaves other allies to certain death, that person loses the respect not only of the people of the nation, but of the people of the globe.

  • I think that when the person who supposedly ‘leads’ a nation disregards environmental threats to not only the nation, but the entire globe, and instead provides incentive to wealthy industry barons to further decimate the planet, that person has earned the scorn and wrath of every person on the planet.

  • I think that when the person elected to the highest office in the nation lies, cheats, steals and then bullies those who would hold him accountable, we cannot possibly have any respect or compassion for this person.

  • I think that any person who has taken an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of a nation, then breaks that oath on a near-daily basis, does not deserve the honour of the position to which he was elected.

  • I think that a person who holds an office that historically has been internationally respected, but yet praises strongman dictators while stabbing that nation’s allies in the back, can only be considered a traitor who deserves no respect.

  • I think that any person who defends a president guilty of the above trespasses, cannot claim to be a good person, a patriot, or a concerned citizen, for he or she is defending a creature who has no concern for the nation and its people.

In the words of writer and friend John Pavlovitz …

“I just want a President with compassion, intelligence, and simple human decency.”

And in the words of Filosofa …

“I just want a president I can respect and trust. I don’t need to like him, but I need to be able to respect him.”

Tonight, as I write this, I sit here with tears in my eyes and a very heavy heart, for we do not have a president that meets either John’s standards or my own.  We have a dishonest, deceitful, bullying ‘person’ in the White House who is leading us quickly down a path to … what?  Destruction, certainly, but … will this nation survive intact?  I once thought I knew this nation, thought I understood our government even with its flaws, and thought I liked the people I called ‘friend’.  If our friends and neighbors who are still wearing their slightly frayed maga hats, who are still playing that somewhat warped “he tells it like it is” record, don’t take off their tinted glasses and find a functional mind and a conscience, if he is allowed a second term, I think this nation will not come out in 2024 only slightly damaged, but completely destroyed.  I shan’t be here to see it.

🇬🇧 The Brexit Conundrum — Frank’s View

When I first came up with the idea for this project, soliciting guest posts from my readers in the UK and Canada offering their views of what is happening in their countries today, I had no idea it would elicit the wonderful response it has!  I am pleased today to offer another post from a UK reader that offers a slightly different tone and perspective than we have seen in either Roger’s or Colette’s excellent posts.  I don’t know about you guys, but I am learning so much from these posts — and the comments!  Please welcome today Frank Parker, a citizen of the UK living in Ireland.  Thank you, Frank!


Why Brexit is Impossible

My Perspective

I have been a proponent of the European ‘project’ ever since I was old enough to take an interest in national and international politics. I recall the UK’s repeated applications to join what was then the 6-member EEC in the early 1960s, and disappointment at our repeated rejection by France. In 1988 I became a founder member of the Liberal Democrats, having previously been a member of the Liberal Party. I served both parties as a councillor at county and district level. During that time, I had the opportunity to visit some of the EU institutions and to learn something about the way they operate.

Upon retirement, 13 years ago this month, I left the UK and came to live in Ireland. My son, his Irish wife and their daughter were already here. So, I am one of the approximately 3 million UK citizens domiciled in another EU country.

I believe passionately in the ideals that underpin the EU. In the years of the cold war it provided a bastion of political and economic strength against the might of the Soviet Union. Of course, NATO provided the military backing, but economic and political unity were, I believe, key components of the defence of Western civilisation against communism. With the collapse of the Soviet Union it was important that the countries of Eastern Europe, released from the yoke of Russian domination, were welcomed into the EU and provided with the opportunity to realise the benefits of life in a free society.

There is far more, culturally and historically, that unites us than divides us.

We now face new threats, from climate change to the rise of China as a global power. European solidarity therefore remains a priority.

The European Union

The EU is first and foremost an international trading bloc. The Single Market ensures that goods traded between the member nations are produced to an agreed set of standards in circumstances that minimise the exploitation of workers. The Customs Union, by removing tariffs on goods traded between member nations, removes the need for customs barriers at the borders between those nations.

At the same time the UK is able to take advantage of free trade agreements reached between the EU and around 70 other nations in order to trade with them on favourable terms which will need to be renegotiated if the UK leaves.

In common with other members, the UK has secured exemptions from certain of the rules and regulations that enforce these standards. It is not a member of the Eurozone, retaining its own currency. It is not a member of Schengen, a scheme that facilitates visa free travel, residence and work throughout those nations that are signed up to it.

Instead, the UK, as a member of the Single Market, is obliged to permit freedom of movement of people for the purpose of work and education. This does not extend to the automatic right to social welfare payments. The citizens of one-member nation, whilst resident in another, must be economically self-supporting. If, after a reasonable period, they have not found a job they are obliged to leave. The UK government chose not to enforce this aspect of the legislation which many UK citizens were, and, it seems, still are unaware of.

Similarly, when Eastern European nations became members there was a transition period during which existing members were permitted to control the number of workers they accepted from those nations. Again, the UK government chose not to apply those controls, probably under pressure from business sectors, such as agriculture and hospitality, that saw an opportunity to exploit the availability of comparatively cheap labour to do jobs that UK citizens were unwilling to take on.

Sometimes such migrant workers were employed in breach of EU laws of which ordinary citizens were unaware so that, once again, the EU was blamed for creating conditions that were actually well within the ability of the UK government to control had it chosen to do so.

The Budget

The fundamental principle under which the EU budget operates is that the richest nations contribute and the poorest regions, some of which are within the richest nations, receive. The simple theory behind this is that by helping the poorer nations and regions to develop and, thereby, improve the economic welfare of their citizens, the possibility of conflict over resources is reduced. It is a principle with which not everyone agrees and is certainly one of the factors underlying the desire of some UK citizens to see the UK leave.

So long as it can be shown that supported schemes meet specific criteria, the way that EU funds are distributed and spent is left to the recipient national or local governments. Thus, it is unfair to blame the EU if such funds are used to support unnecessary or inappropriate schemes. They are intended to be used for social and economic infrastructure developments that increase the ability of the recipient region to attract private investment that creates long term employment. If you want the EU to exercise greater control over such spending you need more, not fewer bureaucrats, and to give up, not reclaim, local control.

The Exercise of Democracy

In most EU member states elections are conducted using systems that produce a result in which the number of representatives of each party in parliament or legislative assembly is roughly proportional to the number of votes cast for that party. This is also true of the EU institutions. The practical effect of this is that, more often than not, no one party has a parliamentary majority and two or more parties have to come together to agree a programme that is broadly in the national interest. That also tends to mean a centrist approach, either centre-left or centre-right. The extremes at either end of the political spectrum have little say. It should be no surprise that I, as a centrist, approve of such systems and the results they produce.

In the UK, however, the system regularly produces a majority for one party (not always the same party) even though that party may have fewer than 40% of the votes cast. Thus, the majority of UK citizens are used to a situation in which their needs are ignored in favour of those of a minority.

The 2016 referendum provided a rare opportunity in which they were assured, albeit dishonestly, that the wishes of the majority would be respected. It was presented as a simple choice between leaving or remaining, with the question of what kind of relationship, if any, the UK might seek to establish with the EU after it left, buried under a fog of speculation. In or out of the Customs Union? The Single Market? A relationship like the one Norway has? Or Switzerland?

The Irish Problem

This is something that was barely touched upon during the 2016 campaign but has proved to be an impenetrable stumbling block ever since. To understand why, it is necessary to review, however briefly, 850 years of British and Irish history and religion.

Around 100 years after the Norman conquest of England two childhood friends became respectively King of England and Archbishop of Canterbury. They disagreed about the extent to which the King should interfere in the affairs of the Church. At some point the king is supposed to have said something along the lines of “Will someone rid me of this troublesome priest.”

Like most such remarks uttered in moments of frustration it was not meant to be taken literally. But a few knights who wanted to curry favour with the king did. They murdered the Archbishop in his cathedral.

It so happened that the Pope was exercised about the fact that the Church authorities in Ireland were backsliding so, when an Irish provincial king was deposed, he used that fact to persuade the English (Norman) king to come to his aid. The king, needing to appease the Pope, agreed.

As a direct result, Ireland became subject to the English Crown, its land parcelled out to assorted knights and barons who had assisted with the invasion.

Move forward 4 centuries to the reformation and the long period of conflict in the British Isles between protestantism and Roman Catholicism. The Irish refused to be reformed, despite Cromwell’s massacre of tens of thousands and the confiscation of land from Catholic owners, giving it to protestants. These religious wars were effectively brought to an end when a Dutch Prince defeated a largely Catholic army on Irish soil and was crowned King. Troublesome tenants were removed from Scottish land to be replaced by sheep. They were granted large parts of Ulster in a further attempt to dilute Catholic influence on the island.

At the beginning of the 19th century Ireland, which had hitherto had a degree of autonomy but with its own Parliament still subject to the Crown, became a part of the United Kingdom. Throughout the next century the Irish campaigned for independence until, just under a hundred years ago, it was granted. But throughout the campaign the Ulster Protestants objected, so the treaty that granted independence drew an arbitrary border around 6 of Ulster’s 9 counties.

They would remain in the UK whilst the other 26 counties of Ireland became an independent republic. That division remained controversial, and a civil rights campaign in the 6 counties at the end of the 1960s escalated into widespread acts of terrorism on the island and within England.

This ultimately led to the Good Friday Agreement, an international treaty, underwritten by the EU and the USA, which, among other things, enshrined the idea that citizens of the 6 counties have dual citizenship, able to choose to hold UK or Irish passports, and total freedom of movement of goods and people between the two parts of the island.

That is, of course, perfectly practical so long as both the UK and Ireland remain members of the EU. It is incompatible with the UK’s desire to leave the EU in order “to control our borders”.

There is a lot of talk about technological solutions, and the arrangement agreed in principle in December of 2017 was that, until those solutions are available, the 6 counties will remain in the Single Market and the Customs Union (the “backstop”).

It is this part of the Withdrawal Agreement, reached by Prime Minister May and the EU at the end of last year, that has failed to secure the support of a majority in Parliament. Prime Minister Johnson’s attempt to time limit the arrangement by giving the Northern Ireland Assembly a vote every 4 years is not acceptable to Ireland or the EU.

To me the only solution is one which involves the whole of the UK remaining in the Single Market and Customs Union, a relationship not unlike that which Norway and Switzerland have, and which would seem to meet the Labour Party’s “tests”. Or the UK could abandon the attempt to leave and return to the status quo.

Extra Edition!

I typically only publish two posts (plus the music post) each day, but today I had to do another short one, for this one made me see red.

Lindsey-Graham-2Lindsey Graham is now asking every republican in the Senate to sign a ‘loyalty oath’ to Donald Trump, stating that they will stand behind the president in the face of the impeachment ‘threat’.  Now, the thing that is most galling about this is the fact that … every single member of Congress has already sworn an oath … to uphold the Constitution.  They have in effect sworn an oath to act in the best interests of We the People.  They do not owe loyalty to the president, but to their constituents.  For them so sign an oath of loyalty to the very person who is trampling the Constitution and who is destroying the nation, taking no interest at all in We the People, would be violating their very oath of office.

This is the text of the Oath of Office taken by every single senator:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter.”

It should be noted that Article II, section 4 of the United States Constitution reads …

“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

The Impeachment Clause was included in the Constitution in order to create another check against abuses by government officials and to give Congress the ability to remove from power an unfit officer who might otherwise be doing damage to the public good.

The Founding Fathers did not specify what constitutes “other high crimes and misdemeanors”, for at the time (1787), they had little or no context and felt it better left to future generations to decide.  At any rate, it is in the Constitution, so impeachment of this president, who has arguably done more harm than good in the nearly three years he’s been in office, cannot be called ‘unconstitutional’.

Lindsey Graham is wrong in calling for an “oath of loyalty” to this president or any other.  Members of Congress are intended to provide oversight to the president, not to swear fealty!!!  Lindsey and all his republican buddies would do well to remember by whose good graces they serve, and who can remove them in their next election!  If the senators sign such an oath, it is my opinion that they will be violating their oath of office by failing to uphold the Constitution.

The Latest In Snarky Snippets

It took no time at all for Turkish President Erdoğan to begin implementation of his plan to attack the Kurdish troops in Syria.  Two days, I believe.  Today, Turkey launched airstrikes and fired artillery across its border into northeastern Syria.  This, Donald Trump, is what you have done …turkey_syriaturkey-syria-2Already, two civilians have been killed and others wounded.  There will be many more innocent people who will die or be injured, and the blood of those people is on the hands of Donald Trump.  These were people who were going about their lives, minding their own business, hurting nobody.  They were our allies, until Monday when Trump betrayed them.

It is a complex situation that Trump does not comprehend, that even those who are scholars in Middle-Eastern affairs often find confusing.  But, Trump sold out for some favour from Erdoğan and now the U.S. has sent a clear warning to all of our allies that we are not to be trusted, that we may turn on them any day, with no notice.


I really didn’t want to talk about or even mention the impeachment issue today, but to ignore it would be to ignore the elephant in the room, for it looms larger than life.  Yesterday, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter to Nancy Pelosi and the chairmen of the various committees conducting the investigations in the House of Representatives. An eight-page letter, as it were.  I have muddled through about half of it so far, and a more pompous letter I have never read.  What he had to say could have been said in a single paragraph.

In a nutshell, Cipollone, acting as Trump’s mouthpiece, says that the impeachment process is unconstitutional and that nobody in the Trump administration will cooperate in any way, shape, or form.  Duh … leave it to a lawyer to take up 8 pages to say that.  But, most of it was hateful, arrogant verbiage attempting to defend the indefensible and criticize all those who would wish to hold Trump accountable for his actions.

But wait … it gets even better.

Since there is precedent for impeaching a corrupt, lying, cheating president, the Department of Justice is now claiming that Nixon’s impeachment was unconstitutional and that the courts in 1974 were wrong to approve the release of Watergate documents to Congress during the impeachment inquiry.  This came when Beryl Howell, chief judge for the U.S. District Court, indicated that she may rule in favour of giving the House Democrats access to certain of the redacted parts of the Mueller report.  The judge asked the Justice Department to explain its “extraordinary position” of trying to block lawmakers from seeing the special counsel’s grand jury materials, which include testimony and evidence that has been kept private since the Mueller probe ended in March.

Elizabeth Shapiro, a deputy director in the DOJ civil division, argued that if the same Watergate road map arose today, there’d be a “different result” because the law has changed since 1974. She said the judge wouldn’t be able to do the same thing absent changes to the grand jury rules and statutes.  The judge was stunned, saying only “Wow. Okay.”  Hopefully she will find her voice soon.

Let’s put this in context here.  President Bill Clinton was impeached because he lied to Congress about a consensual affair with a staffer.  Period.  Nothing more.  But Donald Trump has twice … not once, but at least twice that we are aware of … sought favours from foreign governments to unfairly influence our elections.  And, whereas Clinton lied to Congress, Trump has done something much, much worse:  he has lied to We the People … all 330 million of us.


And, on that note I find that I really don’t feel like writing any more, and so I will leave you with Stephen Colbert’s latest take on it all.

♫ I Second That Emotion ♫

Just one more Motown and then I’ll switch to something else, I promise!  This one was sort of a request after I played My Girl on Saturday night, and since after hearing it mentioned it has been bouncing about in my head, I figured I needed to exorcise it from my mind, and at the same time, give our friend David something to tap his toes to!

As Robinson recalls in his 1989 autobiography, he and Motown producer Al Cleveland went to a Detroit department store called Hudson’s to do Christmas shopping in December 1967. Smokey’s wife, Claudette, had recently given birth to twins that didn’t survive the premature birth, and he was looking to get her a gift.

As Robinson recalls in his 1989 autobiography, he and Cleveland went to a Detroit department store called Hudson’s to do Christmas shopping in December 1967. Smokey’s wife, Claudette, had recently given birth to twins that didn’t survive the premature birth, and he was looking to get her a gift.

This was the first Top 10 hit for the group after their 1967 name change from The Miracles. Robinson and Cleveland teamed up to write several more hits for the group, including Special Occasion (#26 US, 1968), Yester Love (#31 US, 1968), and Baby, Baby Don’t Cry (#8 US, 1969).

I Second That Emotion
The Miracles

Maybe you’ll wanna give me kisses sweet
But only for one night with no repeat.
And maybe you’ll go away and never call,
And a taste of honey is worse that none at all.
Oh little girl!

In that case I don’t want nobody
I do believe that that would only break my heart
Oh, but if you feel like lovin’ me
If you got the notion,
I second that emotion.

So, if you feel like giving me a lifetime of devotion
I second that emotion.
Maybe you’ll think that love will tie you down
And you don’t have the time to hang around.
Or maybe you’ll think that love will make us fools,
And so it makes you wise to break the rules.
Oh little girl!

In that case I don’t want nobody
I do believe that that would only break my heart
Oh, but if you feel like lovin’ me
If you got the notion,
I second that emotion.

So, if you feel like giving me a lifetime of devotion
I second that emotion.
In that case I don’t want nobody
I do believe that that would only break my heart
Oh, but if you feel like lovin’ me
If you got the notion,
I second that emotion.
So, if you feel like giving me a lifetime of devotion
I second that emotion.

Songwriters: Alfred Cleveland / William Robinson Jr.
I Second That Emotion lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

STOP The World … I Wanna Get Off!

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


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

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


The shape of things to come …

From the Moorhead, Minnesota police department …

Schumacher

Joseph Schumacher

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

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

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

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


Death of the innocent

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

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

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

Speaks for itself, doesn’t it?  😢


Two thumbs up for da judge

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

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

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


Where are the courageous?

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

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

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

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

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

THEY CAN’T DO THIS!!!

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

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


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

🇬🇧 The Brexit Conundrum — Colette’s View

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


How to describe the mess in UK politics?

One word – Brexit!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And there, you have it. Clear as mud!

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

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

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

Guilty As Charged!!!

The ultimate betrayal …

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

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

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

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

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

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

One journalist, Richard Engel of NBC News, commented …

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

Qaddafi.  Trump.  Two peas in a pod?

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

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

Republican Senator Patrick Toomey from Pennsylvania rang in with …

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

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

And speaking of betrayal …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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