Dear Mr. President: It didn’t have to be this way

Our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters has truly outdone himself tonight! He has written an open letter to Donald Trump that I could never have written, for my temper gets in the way and before I know it, I am speaking in @#$%& symbols! Thank you, Jeff, for so eloquently stating what we are all feeling … and, of course, for your generous permission to re-blog!

On The Fence Voters

An open letter to the President

Hello, Mr. President. I saw you went to a World Series game, expecting to be welcomed with open arms. Basking from the news that our special forces had eliminated the leader of Isis, surely, our great leader would be greeted with cheers, bells, and whistles.

Sorry, Mr. President, the people at the game weren’t in the mood.

Frankly, the majority of Americans aren’t in the mood either. After nearly three years of constant gas-lighting and destruction of our democratic norms, the masses are restless and ready for your departure, one way or the other.

Indeed, not everyone feels this way. You still have a solid 35 to 40% of the public firmly in your corner, according to most polls. You’ve not deviated from your divisive governance and racial scapegoating, which appeals to many of your supporters. But, you’ve done nothing to court the rest…

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First Amendment Run Amok

Rick Wiles is an American non-denominational senior pastor at Flowing Streams Church in Vero Beach, FL, radio host and pundit. He is the founder of TruNews, a website known for promoting racist and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

Mr. Wiles came onto my radar yesterday when I saw this …Wiles-tweetHe went on to say …

“If they take him [Trump] out, there’s gonna be violence in America. That’s all there is to it. However he leaves, there’s gonna be violence in America. I believe there are people in this country, veterans, there are cowboys, mountain men, I mean guys that know how to fight, and they’re going to make a decision that people who did this to Donald Trump are not gonna get away with it. And they’re gonna hunt them down. The Trump supporters are going to hunt them down. It’s going to happen, and this country is going to be plunged into darkness and they brought it upon themselves because they won’t back off.”

Yes, before you beat me to the punch, I know this is just ignorance and hatred talking, I know that Mr. Wiles is but a gnat on the posterior of humanity.  But … I propose that his speech is classified as hate speech and as incitement to violence and must be stopped.

I’ve said this at least a thousand times before on this blog … ‘Rights’ come with responsibilities.  Rights are not unconditional.  Those who cannot use their rights judiciously, who continually abuse them, who cause harm to others by invoking their own rights, must lose those rights.  I’ve spouted endlessly about the Second Amendment, how it does not give the right to unfettered and unconditional gun ownership, nor the right to own an unlimited number of guns with the capability of killing hundreds within minutes.  I don’t think the gun advocates or NRA supporters have heard me, but … know that someday, somehow, somebody will figure out how to shut the gun lobby down and inject common sense into the interpretation of the amendment.

The First Amendment is no different.  Contrary to popular belief, it does not give people the unlimited right to say whatever pops into their mind, in any venue, and at any time.  Mr. Wiles is a public figure, and as such, he has even more responsibility than the rest of us.  He has a history of racism and anti-Semitism.  He frequently referred to President Obama as a “demon from hell”.  He has asserted that the effects of Hurricane Harvey on the city of Houston, Texas resulted from Houston’s LGBT community; has described Judaism and Islam as “the Antichrist”; has called Central American immigrants a “‘brown invasion'” being used by God to punish American whites because of abortion; has claimed that the Las Vegas massacre was conducted by government death squads; has asserted that Antonin Scalia was murdered; and, in July 2018, predicted an imminent coup that would result in the nationally televised decapitation of the Trump family on the White House lawn.

There are those who would say all of the above fall under the protections of the First Amendment right to free speech.  I disagree.  Remember when Alex Jones claimed that the Sandy Hook school shooting was all a hoax and that the grieving parents were paid actors?  Some parents are still being threatened by the fools who bought into his theory. Remember when the same Alex Jones bought into the theory that Hillary Clinton and John Podesta were dealing in human trafficking and child sex slavery in the basement of a local pizzeria?  Yes, folks, words have consequences.

Do you seriously believe that the framers of the Constitution would endorse or support a man calling for the death of members of a political party solely because that party followed the mandates of the Constitution?

I think we have long passed the point where we need to codify the limitations on certain ‘rights’, starting with both the First and Second Amendments.  For far too long, it has been open season … people claiming that they have a right to say whatever they wish, whenever and wherever, and damn the consequences.  Mr. Wiles presents a clear and present danger to all of us who do not sing the praises of the Oaf in the Oval, and this is not … I repeat … THIS IS NOT the idea upon which this nation was founded.  The right to free speech was intended to provide people the ability to engage in political discourse, to state opposing viewpoints without fear of repercussions.  It was never ever intended to be a tool given to those who would incite violence for any reason.  This nation was once a hell of a lot better than it is today.  Think about it.

♫ Desiderata ♫

Last night I went with a light-hearted song, “You Can’t Hurry Love”, by the Supremes and also Phil Collins.  Tonight, I’m feeling more solemn, more … I’m looking at this nation, and others … Canada and the UK specifically … and I’m not liking what I see.  A woman posted on Facebook that “We should be better than this … God wants us to be better than this”.  Now, I’m not religious, but I thought her heart was at least in the right place and her comment in no way offended me.  However, she was slammed in comments by people being rude, crass, and obnoxious toward her.  And I started thinking … is this really who we are these days?  Can we not just agree to disagree, can we no longer tolerate those whose views do not match our own?  Whatever happened to “live and let live”?

I typically do not use the music posts to make a statement, though on occasion I do.  Tonight is one such occasion.  Les Crane’s Desiderata is a song that makes a statement … a simple, no-brainer sort of statement, but one that I think maybe we all should hear.

The song is based on a poem by Max Ehrmann that was written in the early 1920s, but not published until 1948, three years after his death.  The poem was about the search for happiness in life. In the 1960s, the poem made its rounds as “anonymous” ancient wisdom – it was widely reprinted because most people assumed it was in the public domain. Crane read the poem on a street poster (which stated the words “Found in Old Saint Paul’s Church, Baltimore, dated 1692”) and decided to record it.

The song reached either #6 or #7 in the UK, depending on who you believe, #4 in Canada, and #8 in the U.S.

Desiderata
Les Crane

Desiderata. Desiderata. Desiderata.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender,
Be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others –
Even the dull and ignorant, they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons – they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter,
For always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career –
However humble, it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is.
Many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself.
Especially do not feign affection, neither be cynical about love.
For in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
It is as perenial as the grass.
Take kindly the council of the years,
Gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune,
But do not distress yourself with imaginings –
Many fears are borne of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe.
No less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
Keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be careful. Strive to be happy.

Songwriters: Jonathan Douglas / Soren Rasted / M Ehrmanns
Desiderata lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc

WTF???

My jaw dropped and for a moment I was unable to breathe this morning when the first headline of the day read …

Trump compares impeachment probe to ‘lynching’

This is a new low, even for the ‘man’ who has re-defined such words as ‘crass’, ‘vulgar’, ‘immoral’, and more.  This is … beyond anything that can be defined by words.  And this, folks, is the so-called “president” of the United States.  Here’s what he said … er, tweeted  …

“So some day, if a Democrat becomes President and the Republicans win the House, even by a tiny margin, they can impeach the President, without due process or fairness or any legal rights. All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here — a lynching. But we will WIN!”

Even despots who rule third-world countries with an iron hand and where corruption is rampant have more sense than to make such an utterly stupid and offensive remark!  These are the words of a person who is cruel and ignorant, not the words of a person who is ultimately responsible for the lives of 330 million people.

Never mind that the impeachment process is only at the inquiry stage, that Nancy Pelosi and the committees investigating are, wisely, doing everything by the book, and that Trump will get his “due process” and “legal rights” when the Senate holds his trial, as is set forth by the U.S. Constitution.  The bigger issue, besides his whining and lying, is his use of the word ‘lynching’ to describe the investigations.  Nobody has placed a noose around his neck, and in fact, he is more than welcome to simply pack his bags and GO!

It was bad enough when he referred to the impeachment investigations as a “witch hunt”, his favourite word for the Mueller investigation.  It was even worse when he referred to it as a “coup”, which would indicate that he was being illegally unseated by a violent group of people physically forcing him to leave.  But lynching.  That one … takes the cake.  It is a slap in the face to every single person in this nation, whether they realize it or not.  No, Mister Trump, nobody has tied a rope around your neck. Nobody has set out to kill you because of your skin colour.  You are being investigated because it appears quite likely that you have broken the law, failed to uphold the Constitution you took an oath to defend, and abused the power of your office.

Joe Walsh, former GOP congressman who is now running against Trump in the republican primary said it best …

“Again, I apologize. I apologize for voting for Trump in 2016. I apologize for the role I played in helping to put this horrible human being in the White House.”

Ol’ Lindsey Graham, however, decided it was not only okay for Trump to have said what he said, but Lindsey reinforced it …

“So yeah, this is a lynching in every sense. This is un-American. I’ve never seen a situation in my lifetime as a lawyer where somebody’s accused of major misconduct who cannot confront the accuser, call witnesses on their behalf and have the discussion in the light of day so the public can judge.”

Just what the Sam Hell is “un-American” about it, Mr. Graham?  Read your damn Constitution … it’s right there in black and white!  As to “confronting the accuser” and “calling witnesses”, as a lawyer you must surely realize that comes later in the process.  Where did you get your license to practice law … from a box of Cracker Jacks? And, for you to defend the jackal in the Oval Office … I hope the people of South Carolina finally decide they’ve had enough of you!  I have certainly had enough of you and your bosom buddy McConnell!  It should be noted that Graham was an impeachment manager in the Senate trial of Bill Clinton two decades ago … methinks Graham has been in the Senate far too long!

Lynchings are a part of the darkest, ugliest time in U.S. history.  4,743 people were lynched between 1882 and 1968 in the United States, including 3,446 African Americans and 1,297 whites. More than 73 percent of lynchings in the post-Civil War period occurred in the Southern states, including 164 in Lindsey Graham’s own state.  To use the term to describe a fully legal and Constitutionally mandated process is far beneath the office of president.

It is past time to put an end to this fiasco.  There are serious issues in our nation that need to be addressed, yet not one damn thing is being done because the government has been dragged down by a monster … yes, a monster … in the Oval Office who is ignorant, who is self-serving, and who has no intention of serving this nation or doing the right thing for its people.  It is past time to rid ourselves of this disease.  Any republican who is still defending the indefensible deserves to be sent back home under a cloak of shame, for they have sold their souls upriver.

Voices From Under The Hats …

I would like to make a disclaimer before I proceed:  I am not name-calling, and I am not generalizing in what I am about to say.  I do not include all republicans, nor even all Trump supporters, and I am stating a fact, not calling anybody names with the intention of being derogatory.  Please note that the word ignorance is defined simply as “lack of knowledge or information”.  

We keep reassuring ourselves that the Trump supporters are finally waking up, finally beginning to see the light of day, to see that the person they’ve been slavishly supporting is a narcissistic crook.  I have evidence to the contrary.

Trump, under a dark cloud of likely impeachment, weathering a number of scandals of his own making, was still welcomed with what can only be called mass ignorance when he held a rally in Minneapolis, Minnesota last week.  Listen to what one attendee said when asked his thoughts about the impeachment inquiry …

“They’re just making stuff up. He’s starting to fight back.”

Say WHAT???

Nobody is making anything up … both Trump and his Chief of Staff have admitted that he tried to coerce a foreign power to interfere in our upcoming election, to undermine the very principles that make this a free nation, a republic!  Facts, folks … cold, hard facts.  But, though Trump is far from the brightest bulb in the pack, he does know how to rile the masses, how to play to the audience …Maga-1

“They want to erase your vote like it never existed. They want to erase your voice and they want to erase your future. But they will fail because in America, the people rule again.”

Ha ha ha ha ha … the people rule!  What a crock!  Donald Trump rules by bullying and threatening.  Period.  The people are the last thing he cares about, but they, in all their ignorance that they wear like a badge of honour, cannot (or will not) see it.  The more of these comments I read, the snarkier I became.

Another comment from a member of the maga-hat-wearing crowd …

maga-hat-2“I think it’s a witch hunt. I don’t think Donald Trump has done any impeachable offence that’s a high crime or misdemeanour. There was nothing wrong with their conversation. It seems to me they’re turning a Biden scandal into a Trump scandal. I think the phone call has been taken out of context. They’re making it sound like he was trying to take down a political rival. If Biden was using his position to further his son’s career, then that in itself is corrupt.”

Now, here is my evidence, the facts that back up my claim that the people who attend these rallies and cheer ‘til they lose their voice are ignorant.  The thing that matters here is that Trump attempted to coerce a foreign power to interfere in the election.  Period.  The fact is that Joe Biden has already been proven innocent of any wrongdoing, but that is not the point.  The point is that Donald Trump, acting as president of this nation, broke the law.  Broke. The. Law.

And yet another …

maga-hat-3

Yes, Pleeeeeease!

“It’s a joke. It really is. It’s not an official inquiry. It’s Pelosi, having her own private poll. She’s only asking the people she wants to ask. They produced the transcript. That’s the whole story. Trump never said he was going to withhold money. They’ve tried to impeach Trump since before he was in office. It’s not really the Democratic Party – it’s just anti-Republican. If they want an official investigation, they should just go to the courts and do it.”

Obviously, this person is beyond clueless.  Still more …

“We wanted to do our little bit. We wanted to show our support for the president we love and support our free country. We know what they’re investigating. But we know what we know. I’ve read the transcript and I didn’t find anything illegal in it.”

And are you, madam, a lawyer or Constitutional Law scholar???

maga-hat-1“I don’t think he’s done anything wrong. He’s nothing to hide. If there’s corruption, we need to know about it. It’s all a big scam and the Bidens are trying to cover their tracks.”

“All these channels except Fox – it’s the only one that speaks the truth – they’re trying to come up with whistleblowers that don’t exist. They try to change people’s minds with misinformation.”

“As a president, he’s supposed to be looking for corruption. He didn’t do a quid pro quo. He didn’t say ‘I’m going to withdraw funds’. He didn’t withhold anything at all.”

Maga-2Do you even know the meaning of “quid pro quo”?  We’re not talking about “withdrawing funds”, lady!

“I don’t know, like sneaking off with a billion dollars in cash, that might be something. It’s not even a crime, what Trump did. I wish they would take it to a vote. Then both sides would have full disclosure. But Democrats don’t want that to happen.”

Trust me, a vote will be taken, and Trump will be impeached.  Wait for it, madam.

maga-hat-4“I’ve been on the Trump express ever since he got going. If you read the transcript, which I have done, there’s nothing there which was bad. If Democrats want to impeach him, that’s their loss. What did he do that broke the law? The Democrats can’t answer that.  If Obama had that same conversation would any of this be coming up? The answer is 100% no. That’s all it is. They’re out to get him. The Russian election thing failed on them massively. And when this one fails they’ll move into the next thing. They’re going to have four more years trying to get rid of him.”

Yo, buddy!  You can read???  Wow, I’m impressed.  But let me set you straight here … if Obama had done any one, single thing that Trump has done, he would have been impeached, tried, convicted and removed from office within a week.  Can you spell r-a-c-i-s-t?

And lastly, this …

“If people were open minded about what he’s doing, and put aside what they think of him anyway, I think they’d find his views are a lot closer to theirs than they think.”

No, lady, I can guarantee you that there is not one single thing I would agree with him on.

So, there you have it folks … the voice of the 40%.  Differences in political opinion are one thing.  I can deal with someone having a different ideology than I have, being more or less liberal, etc., but I have no idea how to have a sensible discussion with those who are ignorant, and I think that all of the above comments bespeak of ignorance.  Lack of knowledge, and a disinterest in trying to learn about things they don’t understand.  One part of me wants to feel sorry for them, but … these are the very people who got us into this mess we’re in, the very ones that have elected and supported a demagogue who is shredding our Constitution.  Sorry, but I find I cannot dredge up a shred of empathy for them.

Senators, Please “Just Say NO”

Donald Trump has a heavily vested interest in the U.S. court system.  I mean, anyone who has sued or been sued some 5,000+ times, surely knows his way around the courts, right?  Just since he took that oath of office that he has failed miserably in upholding, he has been involved in more than 100 lawsuits … in under three years, and that is not counting personal or business lawsuits, only the ones that involve his office.

Numerous times, judges have ruled against Trump, and his lawyers have filed appeals, so it stands to reason that, as there is currently a vacancy on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, he would nominate a candidate he felt would be on his team, in his court, so to speak.  Enter one Steven James Menashi, Trump’s current nominee to fill the vacancy.  Let’s learn a bit about Mr. Menashi’s career thus far …

  • Menashi graduated from Stanford Law School in 2008 with a Juris Doctor (JD)
  • Menashi served as a law clerk to Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit during the 2008–2009 term, and to Associate Justice Samuel Alito of the Supreme Court of the United States during the 2010–2011 term
  • He has been a partner in a law firm, and an assistant professor of law at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School
  • He served as general counsel on an acting basis to the Department of Education from mid-2017 to mid-2018
  • In September 2018, Menashi moved to the White House to become a Special Assistant to the President and Associate Counsel to the President

You may note that he has never been a judge.MenashiIn September, Trump sent his nomination for Menashi to fill the seat on the Appellate court.  Now, you might say that he sounds well enough qualified, even though he’s never been a judge before.  And the American Bar Association has rated him as “well qualified”.  So, where’s the beef?

On September 11, 2019, a hearing on Menashi’s nomination was held before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  It did not go well.  Menashi declined or outright refused to answer many of the committee’s questions.  Even Trump sycophant Senator Lindsey Graham appeared antagonistic toward Menashi …

“That’s not an unfair question. Did you work on the subject matter? I’m not asking you to talk about what you did in terms of legal advice, I’m asking did you work on the topic.”

Senator Richard Durbin also lost patience with Menashi …

“We’re trying to understand if you have any values that are consistent with the awesome responsibilities you are seeking, and I’m hoping you would show some candor and honesty.”

Senator John Neely Kennedy:

“Counsel, you’re a really smart guy, but I wish you’d be more forthcoming. This isn’t supposed to be a game; we’re supposed to try to understand not how you’re going to rule but how you’re going to think.”

But perhaps even more disturbing than his obfuscation are some of his beliefs as expressed through his prior writings.  One in particular titled “Ethnonationalism and Liberal Democracy”, has drawn concern and criticism. In a nutshell, the piece argues that “ethnonationalism remains a common and accepted feature of liberal democracy that is consistent with current state practice and international law.”

Just to clarify, the term ethnonationalism is defined as “a form of nationalism wherein the nation is defined in terms of ethnicity. The central theme of ethnic nationalists is that “nations are defined by a shared heritage, which usually includes a common language, a common faith, and a common ethnic ancestry”.  While this may well be the case in many nations, it should not ever be considered to be in the United States, the melting pot of the world.  The U.S. is a nation founded on the principles of openness, of welcoming all to its shores, of religious freedom.  Ethnonationalism promotes bigotry in all its ugly forms and certainly has no place in the Courts of the land!

But wait … there’s more.

  • He has spoken strongly against abortion, likening it to infanticide
  • Menashi had a history of denouncing feminists, diversity efforts and gay rights groups in his college columns and other writings
  • He has a history of denouncing women’s marches against sexual assault, dismissing education about multicultural awareness and accusing a major LGBTQ group of exploiting the brutal murder of a gay student for political ends

In a word, Mr. Menashi is a bigot.  If confirmed to the Second Court of Appeals, it would be a lifetime appointment.  Menashi is only 40 years old, so conceivably his bigoted, misogynist, racist ideology could shape the face of the court for as long as the next 40 years.  Given that quite a few senators were displeased with his performance at the confirmation hearing, there is some hope that this nominee will not be rubber-stamped as so many have been in the past 33 months.  Since the confirmation hearing was more than a month ago, I’m guessing there is a good chance that this nomination will fail.  I certainly hope so, anyway.

Newest Information.

On 16 September, I shared David’s post about Kris Maharaj, the man who has spent more than 33 years in prison for a crime he did NOT commit. At that time, there was good new, but today, David has an update … further delays. Kris Maharaj is 80 years old … how many more delays can he face? We refer to ‘justice’ in this nation, but sometimes it seems that justice is only for the wealthy, the white, the ones who can afford that justice. 😢 Please read the latest … maybe it’s time for us to start a letter-writing blitz!

The BUTHIDARS

Today I received a message from Clive Stafford Smith who has been Kris’s lawyer for about 26 years now, sometimes I think the world has so many problems,  what’s one more and since this one doesn’t involve Kurds being slaughtered by the savagery of the Turkish forces with beheadings and there are children dying in cages inside the U.S. border that maybe a problem like this one can take a backseat as no-one is dying. I find it can’t. I’m invested in this case because Kris is innocent of the murders he was charged with and he has been in prison for 33 years for no reason. You could say that his wife Marita who has stood beside him for the whole time is also in a prison albeit one of her own making. Recently a woman who while a policewoman, shot and killed a man in his own home…

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Elijah Cummings — A Brief Tribute

“Our Congress & our country has lost a champion for justice, a fighter for good, an honorable and zealous leader.” – Democratic U.S. Representative Veronica Escobar

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Congressman Elijah Cummings, who was a fierce advocate for civil rights and for Maryland for more than three decades. Congressman Cummings leaves behind an incredible legacy of fighting for Baltimore City and working to improve people’s lives. He was a passionate and dedicated public servant whose countless contributions made our state and our country better.” – Republican Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland

“There was no stronger advocate and no better friend than Elijah Cummings. I am heartbroken for his wonderful family and staff—please pray for them. I will miss him dearly.” – Republican Representative, Member of the House Freedom Caucus, Mark Meadows

These are but a few of the comments that could be heard today following the announcement that U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings has died.  People on both sides of the political chasm were deeply saddened to hear of his death.  Let me tell you just a little bit about this man …

Born on 18 January 1951 in Baltimore, Maryland, his parents were sharecroppers.  But Elijah rose above his beginnings, graduating from law school at the University of Maryland School of Law, receiving his J.D. in 1976.  He practiced law for 19 years until 1996 when he successfully ran for the U.S. House of Representatives, where he has served tirelessly ever since. Elijah-4Elijah came of age in the Civil Rights era, and got his first taste of racial hatred when he was eleven years old.  He and his friends were getting too big for the small, shallow public pool where they had been spending the summer of 1962 …

“As a matter of fact, it was so small, we had to wait turns to get in.”

But there was another pool, and someone they knew as “Miss Mitchell” told them they could swim there.  It was Riverside Park Pool, an Olympic-size pool that was theoretically open to all, but the reality was somewhat different.  So, Elijah and his friends headed over to the pool, and for a few days enjoyed swimming there.  Until … hordes of arrogant white people, numbering nearly 1,000, showed up carrying signs that read “Keep Our Pool Germ Free”, “Go Back Where You Came From”, and “White People Have Rights Too”.

The mob surrounded the pool, held back by a line of police with K-9 dogs, while the kids tried to splash and play. Then, over the police officers’ heads, the mob threw rocks and bottles. One of them hit Cummings in the face, cutting his eyebrow and leaving a scar he carried all his life.  Perhaps it was this that led Cummings to a lifetime of fighting for justice.

While Cummings has long been an advocate for Civil Rights, and has fought for justice since his early days, he first came onto my radar in the wake of the murder of Freddie Gray in Cumming’s district in Baltimore.  He gave an impassioned speech at Gray’s funeral in April 2015, promising “we will not rest until we address this and see that justice is done.”

In early May of that year, charges were filed against the six officers who were involved in the murder of Freddie Gray, and riots erupted in the city.  Elijah Cummings defused the situation, placing himself between the crowd and the police, and urging protestors to go home, to be peaceful.  (Not a single one of the officers involved in Gray’s death was convicted)Elijah-3Former President Barack Obama paid tribute to Cummings this morning …

“It’s a tribute to his native Baltimore that one of its own brought such character, tact, and resolve into the halls of power every day. And true to the giants of progress he followed into public service, Chairman Cummings stood tallest and most resolute when our country needed him the most. May his example inspire more Americans to pick up the baton and carry it forward in a manner worthy of his service.”

Elijah-2.jpgElijah Cummings was one of the good guys.  There are too few of them left, and he will be sorely missed.Elijah-1

The Video …

By now, I’m sure you have all heard of “The Video”.  That would be the video that was played at a three-day conference, which was held by a pro-Trump group, American Priority, at Trump National Doral Miami.  A conference, I might add, that was attended by Trump’s son, Junior, as well as by former press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, among others.

I watched this video tonight, and halfway through I felt ill and had to turn it off.  Folks, this is the most disgusting thing I have seen in the world of politics in all of my 68 years.  It is vile, it is violent, it is horrific and far beneath the dignity of … well, anybody, except possibly Charles Manson.  But worse yet, it is dangerous.  It was designed for one purpose and one purpose only:  to rile the masses, Trump’s base.

The video was taken from the 2014 movie “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” and showed the actor Colin Firth in a gory church massacre scene. In the movie, the people killed are members of a fundamentalist  church.

The doctored video depicts a scene inside the “Church of Fake News,” where parishioners rise as Trump — dressed in a black pinstripe suit and tie — walks down the aisle. Many parishioners’ faces have been replaced with the logos of news media organizations, including PBS, NPR, Politico, The Washington Post and NBC.

Trump stops in the middle of the church, pulls a gun out of his suit jacket pocket and begins a graphic rampage. As the parishioners try to flee, Trump fires at them. He shoots Black Lives Matter in the head, and also shoots Vice News.

Some of those in the church try to apprehend Trump. He fends them off and makes his way toward the altar, knocking over several pews. He wrestles a parishioner with a Vice News logo as a face to the ground and then shoots the person at point blank range. In the background, the former F.B.I. director, James Comey, is seen trying to get away.

From there, Trump attacks a range of his critics. He strikes the late Arizona senator John McCain in the back of the neck. He hits the television personality Rosie O’Donnell in the face and then stabs her in the head. He strikes Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California. He lights the head of Senator Bernie Sanders, one of his democratic rivals, on fire.

He takes Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, hostage before throwing him to the ground. Then he strikes former President Barack Obama in the back and throws him against a wall.

Others shown in the video include Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC; former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; former President Bill Clinton; the film producer Harvey Weinstein; and Representative Adam B. Schiff, the California Democrat who as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee is overseeing an impeachment inquiry of Trump.

The clip ends with Trump putting a stake into the head of a person with a CNN logo for a face. Trump then stands on the altar, admiring his rampage, and smiles.

I am not embedding the video here, for I don’t recommend watching it, however if you have a stomach of iron, or as I did, feel that you should watch it to see for yourself, here is a link.

Trump did not create this video, nor do I hold him accountable for its creation.  It is the work of an unidentified creator who operates under the name of “The GeekzTeam” and who has proclaimed on Twitter to be a “red blooded American with ZERO tolerance for the liberal agenda.”  However, Trump himself is not without blame.  Since early in his campaign, he has denigrated the press, calling them “fake news”, and worse yet, “the enemy of the people”.  He has made up nasty nicknames for any who disagree with him, for with Trump, there can be no middle ground … you’re either 100% for him, or you are “the enemy”.

Much of Trump’s most avid base is, obviously, comprised of the less-educated … people who could care less about those things they don’t understand:  Syria, alliances, immigration, tariffs, policy goals, Russians, taxes (unless it’s their own).  They care only about what affects them directly and noticeably.  Tariffs affect them, but they don’t notice if the price of apples jumps by 50 cents a pound, and if they do notice, they don’t connect it to tariffs.  The mistrust of our allies, based on Trump’s foreign policies, if they can even be called policies, is naught but a concept to them, and they don’t understand that it makes our own nation a lot less safe.

And … most of them own guns.

So, when a video such as this one is shown online, when those most avid among Trump supporters see it, at least a few are quite likely to get ideas.  They’ve heard Trump tell them that the press is the enemy, and there he is in the video, killing members of every legitimate news outlet.  They’ve heard him put down people like Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama, Adam Schiff, and the woman he will always resent, for she beat him in 2016, Hillary Clinton.  Now, I see you thinking that no sane person would watch that video and then try to act violently against any of those people.  And most wouldn’t, not even those die-hard Trumpeters.  But …

Remember Cesar Altieri Sayoc Jr., the man who sent pipe bombs to Obama, Biden, Clinton, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Maxine Waters, and others including CNN?  He believed certain conspiracy theories he had seen on Sean Hannity’s Fox Network show, and thought that Trump’s critics were dangerous, unpatriotic, and evil.

Remember the Pizzagate conspiracy theory that posited Hillary Clinton and John Podesta were running a pedophilia and human trafficking ring in the basement of Comet Ping Pong pizzeria?  Edgar Maddison Welch took it seriously, took an AR-15 assault rifle to the restaurant with the intent of killing whoever he found there.  Luckily, he was stopped before anybody died, but think what might have happened.

Remember Jarrod Warren Ramos who entered the Capital Gazette newspaper offices in June 2018, began shooting and killed five people?  Though he did not cite Trump, most believe that newspapers and news outlets are increasingly susceptible to violence as a result of Trump’s near-constant criticism.

Remember Brenton Harrison Tarrant?  You probably don’t for his name was intentionally not made noteworthy, but he was the man who killed 57 people in two separate mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, this past March.  In his “manifesto”, he cited Trump as part of his inspiration, calling him “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose”.

Now, is it really so far-fetched to think that someone, somewhere, might see this video and go after members of the media or some of those people who Trump has called names, said they should be “locked up”, or threatened to sue?  Or maybe even a simple little blogger who is anti-Trump and whose blog he just happened to see one day?

Think about it.

Her Life Mattered …

Atatiana Jefferson was playing video games with her nephew, Zion, in the wee hours of Saturday morning.  Zion, eight years old, was her sister’s son and Atatiana loved him like her own, though she had no children of her own.  In the middle of a game, they heard a noise outside, and Zion, ever-helpful, wanted to go see what it was, but Atatiana wouldn’t let him.  Instead, Atatiana went to the window to look out and was immediately shot through the window … and killed … by a police officer, Aaron Dean.

Need I even say that Ms. Jefferson was African-American, and Mr. Dean was white?

Let me tell you a bit about Atatiana.  She had earned a B.S. in Biology from Xavier University of Louisiana and was studying hard to apply to med school.  Meanwhile, to support herself and save money to attend medical school, she worked selling pharmaceutical equipment.  Recently, her mother had been having some serious healthy problems, so Atatiana had moved back in with her mom to help with her care.

It happened in Fort Worth, Texas, sister city to Dallas, where just last week, Amber Guyger, a white police officer, was found guilty of murdering an African-American man, Botham Jean, in his own apartment.  Ms. Guyger was sentenced last week to ten years in prison.

Atatiana-Zion

Atatiana & Zion

So, what happened on Saturday morning?  Atatiana’s mother had been hospitalized, and young Zion was spending the night with his Auntie Tay, the coolest aunt ever.  But, apparently a door had been left open and a neighbor, James Smith, became concerned and called the non-emergency number for the police department, asking them to check and make sure everything was okay next door.

Aaron-Dean

Aaron Dean

Two officers were dispatched to the house, one of them Aaron Dean.  The officers unlatched the gate and entered the yard, shining their flashlights around.  Then, Atatiana appeared in the window, Aaron Dean yelled at her to put her hands up, and before she ever had a chance to do so, he shot her through the window.  What if Zion had been the one to go to the window?

As a stand-alone incident, this story would still be tragic, but perhaps unremarkable.  However, this is not a stand-alone, not a ‘one-off’, but rather one more in a series of such killings involving an unarmed black person and a white police officer.

Dean was equipped with a body-cam, and after reviewing the footage, Police Chief Ed Kraus said …

“Nobody looked at that video and said there was any doubt that this officer acted inappropriately. I get it. We’re trying to train our officers better, we’re trying to shore up our policies and we’re trying to ensure they act and react the way that the citizens intend them to, that they act and react with a servant’s heart instead of a warriors heart. There are times for officers to act as warriors and defenders, and there are times for them to act as public servants and humble servants.”

There can be no doubt that they need to try a lot harder.  Since June, there have been six questionable fatal shootings by Fort Worth police officers.  One man was shot and killed because officers mistook his flashlight for a gun.

Aaron Dean resigned from the police department on Monday, and on Monday night, he was arrested and charged with murder.  By 9:00 p.m., he had paid his $200,000 bond and was out of jail.  Atatiana Jefferson, however, is still dead.