Something To Think About

I have spent the last three years warning that Donald Trump was a wanna-be king, that he would turn the presidency into a dictatorship, given half a chance.  It seems that now, three years into his reign, others are seeing it, too.  Max Boot’s column in The Washington Post last Saturday sums it up well.

This is how democracy dies — in full view of a public that couldn’t care less

By Max Boot, Columnist

Feb. 15, 2020 at 7:00 a.m. EST

Max-Boot

The French philosopher Montesquieu wrote in 1748: “The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy.” We are seeing his warning vindicated. President Trump is increasingly acting as a tyrannical (and erratic) prince. And yet much of the public is so inured to his misconduct that his latest assaults on the rule of law are met with a collective shrug. Public passivity is Trump’s secret weapon as he pursues his authoritarian agenda. “I have the right to do whatever I want,” he says, and the lack of pushback seems to confirm it.

So much bad has happened since Trump was unjustly acquitted by the Senate of two articles of impeachment on Feb. 5 that it’s hard to keep it all straight.

Trump fired Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman for complying with a congressional subpoena and providing truthful testimony about Trump’s attempts to extort Ukraine into aiding him politically. Also ousted was Vindman’s brother, who did not testify. This sends a mob-like message: If you turn stool pigeon, your family gets it, too.

Trump’s ongoing quest for retribution has also claimed Jessie K. Liu, who was abruptly removed as U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia and replaced by a close aide to Attorney General William P. Barr after prosecuting Trump loyalists, including Michael Flynn and Roger Stone. Now Liu’s nomination to a senior Treasury Department position has been withdrawn. Next on the chopping block may be Elaine McCusker, the Pentagon official who tried to tell the Office of Management and Budget that Trump had no right to withhold aid to Ukraine. The New York Post reported that her nomination to be Pentagon comptroller will be withdrawn. (McCusker denies the report.)

While punishing those who dared to tell the truth, Trump is protecting those who assist his coverup. He inveighed against the request of federal prosecutors, following normal sentencing guidelines, to give Stone a seven- to nine-year prison sentence for witness tampering and lying to Congress. Trump also attacked the judge overseeing Stone’s case and the forewoman of the jury that convicted him. The Justice Department then asked for a reduced sentence. Four prosecutors resigned from the case in protest, and one quit the Justice Department.

Even Barr was driven to denounce Trump’s public interference in the legal system, saying that the president’s tweets “make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the prosecutors and the department that we’re doing our work with integrity.” In response, Trump asserted that he has the “legal right” to determine who gets prosecuted — technically true but hardly in keeping with American tradition.

Barr’s protests ring hollow given how eager he has been to subvert his own department on Trump’s behalf — for example, by mischaracterizing the findings of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Barr has appointed one prosecutor to review Flynn’s conviction and another to investigate the FBI and CIA personnel who uncovered the Russian plot to elect Trump in 2016. The New York Times reports that the latter prosecutor, John H. Durham, has raised alarm in the intelligence community by appearing to pursue a theory, popular among right-wing conspiracy mongers, “that the C.I.A., under its former director John O. Brennan, had a preconceived notion about Russia or was trying to get to a particular result.”

Anxiety about attempts to politicize justice will only grow because of a Post report that Trump was furious that the Justice Department did not file charges against former FBI director James B. Comey and former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe — even though there is no evidence that either of these men broke any laws. After learning that his enemies were not being indicted, The Post reports, “Trump has become more insistent that Durham finish his work soon,” because he “wants to be able to use whatever Durham finds as a cudgel in his reelection campaign.”

As Justice Department veteran David Laufman writes, “We are now truly at a break-glass-in-case-of-fire moment for the Justice Dept.” But does anyone give a damn? Democratic lawmakers are, to be sure, perturbed, but it’s easy (if unfair) to write off their outrage as mere partisanship. Republican members of Congress, as usual, either have nothing to say or offer ineffectual expressions of “concern.”

And the public? I don’t see massive marches in the streets. I don’t see people flooding their members of Congress with calls and emails. I don’t see the outrage that is warranted — and necessary. I see passivity, resignation and acquiescence from a distracted electorate that has come to accept Trump’s aberrant behavior as the norm.

A recent Gallup poll found that Trump’s approval rating among Republicans — the supposed law-and-order party — is at a record-high 94 percent. His support in the country as a whole is only 43.4 percent in the FiveThirtyEight average, but he is still well positioned to win reelection, because most people seem to care a lot more about the strength of the stock market than about the strength of our democracy. This is how democracies die — not in darkness but in full view of a public that couldn’t care less.

*Note to readers:  Since this article was published three days ago, Trumps approval rating according to the FiveThirtyEight average has risen from 43.4% to 43.9%.

Revenge

Alexander Vindman is a decorated war hero.  In addition to overseas deployments to South Korea and Germany, Vindman is a combat veteran of the Iraq War, and he served in Iraq from September 2004 to September 2005. In October 2004, he sustained an injury from a roadside bomb in Iraq, for which he received a Purple Heart. He was promoted to the rank of major in 2008, and to lieutenant colonel in September 2015.

Donald Trump is, in essence, a draft dodger who, while men were dying in Vietnam, had his father pay a doctor to say he couldn’t serve because he had blisters on his feet (too much time in golf shoes?)  Donald Trump does not like war heroes … perhaps they make him uncomfortable because they did their duty while he languished in the lap of luxury.  Remember his remarks about John McCain, who received daily beatings at the hands of the North Vietnamese for nearly six years, refusing early release unless every man taken before him was also released?  Trump said he didn’t like people who were captured.  McCain’s plane was shot down … not much he could have done to prevent that.  While Trump was schmoozing with the likes of Jeffrey Epstein, playing with whatever woman he chose on any given night, John McCain was suffering unimaginable pain and horror, yet Trump didn’t like him.  Just as he doesn’t like Alexander Vindman.

Vindman, as you recall, testified under oath before the House impeachment hearings in October.  Vindman told the truth, and for his courage, his honesty, he was punished with the loss of his job.  His twin brother, also a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army and ethics lawyer for the National Security Council, was also fired … presumably only because his last name is Vindman.  Bad enough … but it doesn’t end there.  Now, Trump is calling for Alexander Vindman’s head, as well.

Trump has expressed his desire for the military to investigate and invoke “disciplinary action” against Alexander Vindman.  Disciplinary action???  So, is it a crime now to tell the truth in the dis-United States of America?

In a press conference, Trump said of Vindman …

“The military can handle him any way they want.”

When asked what he meant by that, he replied …

“That’s going to be up to the military, we’ll have to see, but if you look at what happened, they’re going to certainly, I would imagine, take a look at that.”

Would somebody please teach this man to construct a sentence that makes sense?

With not one shred of evidence, Trump claims that what Vindman reported about Trump’s criminal phone call, the one that Trump says was a “perfect” call, is different than what he actually said.  Of course he says that … he’s the liar in chief, the ‘man’ who wouldn’t know the truth if it smacked him in the ass!

We expect such from Donald Trump, the fat man with a very slim mind, but what’s worse is that others are supporting and defending his actions.  The ignoble Senator Lindsey Graham said, in an interview on Fox News’ American Newsroom …

“I think FBI agents had a political agenda during the investigation of President Trump and they acted on it. I think CIA operatives have been out to try to get the president since he was elected. I think there are people in uniform that can’t accept this result. Because you wear the uniform doesn’t mean you’re exempt from being asked questions. When a military officer engages in a political bias in uniform, they need to be held accountable.”

Political bias???  Lieutenant Colonel Vindman reported, under oath, what he had seen and heard.  Period.  Where’s the ‘political bias’?  Graham, like so many other republicans in Congress, has stopped doing his job and instead is following the Trump agenda.

The Vindmans and Gordon Sondland weren’t the only ones Trump has gone after since the Senate gave him carte blanche last Wednesday.

Jesse K. Liu was, until recently, a U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.  As such, she inherited certain cases from the Robert Mueller investigation, including those of Rick Gates, Michael Flynn, and … Roger Stone.  Last December, Ms. Liu stepped down from her position, as Trump nominated her for a high-ranking position in the U.S. Treasury Department.  Yesterday, after Trump learned that prosecutors were recommending a sentence of 7-9 years for the facinorous Roger Stone, threw a fit, and caused the “Justice” Department to lower their recommendation, Trump withdrew Ms. Liu’s nomination.

The Vindmans, Sondland, Liu … all cases of pure petty revenge on the part of the person who holds the highest office of the land.  These are only the beginning.  Last Wednesday, 53 U.S. Senators handed Mr. Trump the keys to the kingdom.  They told him that whatever he does, they “have his back”.  This is only the beginning of what will likely become the darkest period in the history of this nation.revenge-4

The Purge Begins …

President Richard Nixon kept an “enemies list”, the purpose of which was to “screw” Nixon’s political enemies, by means of tax audits from the Internal Revenue Service, and by manipulating “grant availability, federal contracts, litigation, prosecution, etc.”  According to then-White House counsel John Dean …

“This memorandum addresses the matter of how we can maximize the fact of our incumbency in dealing with persons known to be active in their opposition to our Administration; stated a bit more bluntly—how we can use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies.”

At one point, there were as many as 576 names on Nixon’s list.  Some have jokingly referred to Trump’s own ‘enemies list’.  It is no longer a joking matter.  While Nixon sought to punish his ‘enemies’ through such things as tax audits, Trump uses no subterfuge, no circuities.

In a 1992 interview with Charlie Rose, Donald Trump said …

“I love getting even when I get screwed by someone … Always get even. When you are in business you need to get even with people who screw you. You need to screw them back 15 times harder. You do it not only to get the person who messed with you but also to show the others who are watching what will happen to them if they mess with you. If someone attacks you, do not hesitate. Go for the jugular.”

 When he did a television program called The Apprentice, apparently his buzz line was “You’re fired!”  He used that three times yesterday, and unless I miss my guess, he intends to use it a few more times.

First, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman was fired from his role as the top Ukraine policy officer on the National Security Council and was escorted from the White House.  At the same time, his brother Lieutenant Colonel Yevgeny Vindman was also fired from his NSC job.

A few hours later, Trump ordered U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, Gordan Sondland, recalled from his post and fired.

Alexander Vindman and Gordon Sondland’s only ‘crime’ was that they told the truth.  Both testified in the impeachment hearings held by the House last fall … an act Trump claims was ‘disloyal’ to him.  Funny that … I always believed that any government official’s loyalty was to the nation and to We the People, not to the person occupying the Oval Office.  Yevgeny’s only crime, apparently, was being Alexander’s brother.

The day after the Senate voted to acquit Trump of his crimes, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, who never holds press briefings, said …

“… how horribly he was treated, and maybe people should pay for that.”

It seems the Trump purge has begun.  Of the twelve people who testified against Trump in the impeachment hearings, only three remain in their positions:  David Holmes, a diplomat at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine; Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary at the Pentagon; and George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state.  Will their heads roll next?

Others on his ‘enemies list’ no doubt include various members of Congress, starting with Mitt Romney, the only senator with the courage to vote to convict Trump on one of the articles of impeachment, Jerry Nadler, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Adam Schiff, Joe Manchin and others.  Since Trump cannot fire a member of Congress, one wonders how he plans to extract his ‘revenge’.  Think about this one for a few minutes, folks.  The aforementioned Stephanie Grisham stated earlier this week …

“Adam Schiff lied to Congress and the American people with a totally made up statement about the president’s phone call. Will there be no retribution?”

It should be noted that a threat was made on Adam Schiff’s life earlier this year.  And then there was this statement by Jeff Buckles, a police department assistant chief in the Alabama town of Geraldine …

“Pelosi just ripped up his speach [sic]. Road Side bomb on her way home and any other Dumbocrats.”

Hyperbole?  Probably, but troubling, nonetheless.  Remember Cesar Sayoc, who sent pipe bombs through the mail to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other democrats?  Remember Jarrod Ramos who shot and killed five employees at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis Maryland in 2018?  In the divisive atmosphere in this nation today, and with so many avid Trumpeters determined to keep their hero in office, and with more guns in the hands of civilians than there are people in the entire nation … what could possibly go wrong?  Trump has convinced his base, some 40% of adults in the nation, that he is their savior, that he is great and has made their lives somehow better.  He riles the masses at his rallies and in his speeches.  This is a toxic situation.

One report I read claims a “person in the know” said former national security advisor John Bolton is at or near the top of the list.  No doubt there are others, perhaps some in the press, perhaps some who testified but have already left the administration, such as Fiona Hill, the Europe policy chief at the National Security Council, and Kurt D. Volker, the special envoy for Ukraine.

I don’t care if you identify as a Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, or none of the above … you must be incensed by this purge!  This is not normal and we simply cannot turn a blind eye and allow it to become normal!  Never in my life did I imagine that this country would stoop so low, would become, in essence, a tin pot dictatorship, yet for all intents and purposes, that is what we have become.  It is a dark day for the United States.  Keep your eye on the ball, folks, for this is only the beginning.darkness

The Never-Ending Snarky Snippets

It would seem that Filosofa never runs out of something to be snarky about these days.  Gee, I wonder why that is?  Well, tonight is no exception …


Trump’s revenge …

I knew that Trump was likely to escalate his bad behaviour for lack of a better word, once he was acquitted by the Senate.  Even I, the ultimate cynic, didn’t realize how quickly he would act.  Brosephus told us yesterday evening about the data the republicans in the Senate have gathered from federal agencies in just over a day regarding Hunter Biden and his travel.  Then, last night, I learned that Trump is planning to fire Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, for testifying in the House impeachment proceedings.  Yep, you heard right.  Revenge, pure and simple.

VindmanAfter his testimony in November, Vindman and his family received criticism and threats from Trump’s allies, including allegations of political bias and disloyalty to the US because of their refugee status.

There are laws against terminating an employee for testifying against a corrupt boss, but given that Trump has gotten by with breaking hundreds of laws already … well, what’s one more.  Who’s to stop him?  Not Congress, for the Senate doesn’t even have the cojones to censure him.  Not the courts, when all roads lead to Chief Justice John Roberts who didn’t have the courage or integrity to force a fair impeachment trial.

Apparently, Trump also plans to fire other National Security Council officials who he considers were ‘disloyal’ to him, and the White House is expected to say that it is part of a broader effort to clean house and decrease bureaucracy.  If this is the modus operandi of the government of this country, then it’s time we changed the government before we lose the ability to do so.


State of the Environment …

On Tuesday, a coalition of nine conservation groups issued a statement:

“Donald Trump’s administration has unleashed an unprecedented assault on our environment and the health of our communities. His policies threaten our climate, air, water, public lands, wildlife, and oceans; no amount of his greenwashing can change the simple fact: Donald Trump has been the worst president for our environment in history. Unfortunately, our children will pay the costs of this president’s recklessness. Our organizations have repeatedly fought back against these attacks and we will continue to fight to ensure that our kids don’t bear the brunt of the Trump administration’s anti-environmental agenda.”

The statement was offered by Alaska Wilderness League Action, Clean Water Action, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, EDF Action, Friends of the Earth, League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, and The Wilderness Society.

Later that evening, Trump gave his circus-like State of the Union address, but the above statement seems to me far more meaningful.


Midnight in Washington

They are called Eleven Films, and according to their Facebook bio, they are …

Portland/Vancouver based media company founded on 11 November 2011, specializing in creative internet content, documentaries, news, music and film. Since 2018, Eleven Films has amassed over 30 million views across all platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube). Aside from their original films, Eleven Films has created ads for Presidential candidates, Senatorial candidates, PACs, Causes, New York Times best-selling authors and general business. Their ads have aired on MSNBC, CNN and Fox News.

Eleven Films’ content has been shared by celebrities, politicians, insiders and influencers including: Alyssa Milano, Rosie O’Donnell, Don Cheadle, Frances Fisher, Debra Messing, Justine Bateman, Martina Navratilova, Jon Favreau, Judd Appetow, Vincent D’Onofrio, Don Winslow, Adrian McKinty, Alice Evans, Adam Parkhomanko, David Yankovich, Nancy Pelosi, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ted Lieu, Eric Swalwell, Carolyn Maloney, Veronica Escobar, Mike Levin, Maya Wiley, Eddie Glaude, Joy Ried, Abby Finkenauer to name a few.

That’s just about all I know of Eleven Films, but tonight one of their ads crossed my radar and … I was stunned.  This is possibly the most powerful clip of its sort that I have ever seen.  The film, titled Midnight in Washington, is very short, only one minute, 26 seconds, but it packs a punch.  Please take 1:26 to watch this.  You may also want to check out some of their other works on their website.


Stay tuned this afternoon for the next installment in Jeff’s and my project, Discord & Dissension – Part V!

The Little Boy Who Cried 🐺

Remember the story about the little shepherd boy who cried wolf?  You don’t?  Aw, c’mon … you’re not so old you’ve forgotten that one.  Well, the story goes that the little boy got bored while tending his master’s sheep, and I suppose to get attention, kept crying “Wolf!!!”, even though there was no wolf after him (not to mention that wolves aren’t bad guys anyway).  The townspeople all ran to his rescue, only to find there was no wolf, no threat, the kid was just bored. Then one day, a wolf really was after the kid, or more likely the sheep, and though he kept crying “Wolf!!!”, nobody came to his rescue, for they were all onto his tricks.  Thus, the wolf ate all the sheep and the little boy, mostly to get him to shut up (poor wolf had a severe case of heartburn for days after).  And the moral, according to Aesop, is “this shows how liars are rewarded: even if they tell the truth, no one believes them”.thinking wolfSo why, you ask, do I tell you a fairy tale on this Saturday afternoon?  I wish I could remember!  I know I had a purpose … but I cannot remember it just now.  So, I shall just proceed with a few snippets and perhaps it will come back to me, eh?


The impeachment trial, for those who might not know, is in its fourth day.  Funny, the senators haven’t done a bit of work all year, but they are so eager to get this trial out of their way, supposedly so they can, as one senator claimed, “get back to doing the work of the people”.  What work???  What “people”?  They haven’t passed a piece of meaningful legislation in the Senate in over a year now!  They don’t even discuss meaningful legislation.  Oh wait … they voted to re-name a few federal buildings … that was pretty important to us all, wasn’t it?

Anyway, one Senator, Roger Wicker from Mississippi, responded to the impeachment charges that Trump had acted inappropriately, had abused the power of his office, in attempting to withhold aid to the Ukraine in exchange for personal gain …

“I do things every week that are inappropriate. So no, I’m not going to go down that road.”

Yo!  Mississippi voters … are you listening here?  Your ‘esteemed’ Senator does things that are inappropriate every week!  Now, I might make mistakes on a near-daily basis, but … ‘inappropriate’ carries a connotation of corruption, of a lack of morals, of values.  I think you Mississippians better be keeping a closer eye on ol’ Senator Wicker!

wicker

He looks a little confused, don’t you think?


Funny, but the republicans seem a mite on edge these days, don’t you think?  For example, yesterday Mike Pompeo apparently didn’t like some of the questions asked of him by NPR radio host Mary Louise Kelly.  His answers were brief non-answers, but it was what happened after the interview that is telling.  As he walked out of the room, he stopped at her desk, leaned in and silently glared at Kelly for several seconds before leaving the room.  Within a minute, an aide asked Kelly to follow her into Pompeo’s private living room at the State Department without a recorder.

She would have been wise to decline, but curiosity got the better of her, I suppose, and she went.  According to Ms. Kelly, Pompeo shouted his displeasure at being questioned about Ukraine. He used repeated expletives, according to Kelly, and asked, “Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?”   Either the republicans are nervous about something and on a short fuse these days, else they are trying to win brownie points by emulating their idol, King Trump.king-trump


And then there was the freshman senator from Tennessee, Marsha Blackburn – a real nasty piece of work in my book.  It seems almost as if each republican picks his or her own target to vilify, and Ms. Blackburn’s target is Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman.  Vindman, you’ll remember, testified to House impeachment investigators about Trump’s July 25th phone call to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy and concluded that he considered it to be inappropriate.

blackburn-2

Notice anything about the mouth … the exaggerated contortions … reminds me of???  And didn’t women stop teasing their hair in the ’70s?

Blackburn has been busily tweeting, appearing on television and social media that she considers Vindman to be vindictive and a coward.  A coward?  Excuse me, but Vindman is a combat veteran of the Iraq War. He served in Iraq from September 2004 to September 2005. In October 2004, he sustained an injury from a roadside bomb in Iraq, for which he received a Purple Heart. He was promoted to the rank of major in 2008, and to lieutenant colonel in September 2015.  That, to me, is not the career path a ‘coward’ would take.

During his Army career, Vindman earned the Ranger Tab, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, and Parachutist Badge, as well as four Army Commendation Medals and two Defense Meritorious Service Medals, yet Ms. Blackburn writes …

“Alexander Vindman broke the chain of command and leaked the contents of the President’s July 25th phone call to his pal, the “whistleblower.” Over a policy dispute with the President! How is that not vindictive?”

“Vindictive Vindman is the “whistleblower’s” handler.”

“Adam Schiff is hailing Alexander Vindman as an American patriot. How patriotic is it to badmouth and ridicule our great nation in front of Russia, America’s greatest enemy?”

There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support any of her claims.

I think Tennesseans, like Mississippians, need to re-think their choice of people to represent them in Congress!toon-1


I still don’t remember quite where I was going with the ‘little boy who cried wolf’ story, but perhaps you guys can come up with something?  Ah well, it’s a good story anyway.  And now, I shall return you to your weekend activities!