What Do You Want: Governance Or A Show?

There are many policy and ideological differences between the two major political parties in the U.S., but as I was reading an article yesterday, one came to me that I had not thought of before:  Democrats in Congress take lawmaking seriously, while for Republicans it is a game, a show.  Republican voters seem to require a circus … the most ludicrous, most outrageous and loudest candidate wins with the Republican voters.  Democratic voters, on the other hand, prefer old school staid, nose-to-the-grindstone politicians who they can trust to make laws that benefit the nation and its people.  Don’t believe me?  Let’s take a look at one issue that exemplifies what I just stated … the impeachment of Joe Biden et al.

Already, even without a majority in either House or Senate, knowing their efforts would come to naught, numerous impeachment resolutions have been filed against President Biden, the first one coming less than 24 hours after he took his oath of office on 20 January 2021.  That one, House Resolution #57,   was filed by mad dog Marge Greene, claiming that the President had committed “abuse of power by enabling bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors.”  Wow … all that within less than a day of taking office!  Actually, she was referencing his time four years prior as Vice President, conjecturing something mysterious about his son, Hunter, and more of the right-wing conspiracy theories she’s picked up from her QAnon buddies and from watching the likes of Tucker Carlson over at Fox ‘News’.

Since that first resolution, there have been at least 8 more resolutions to impeach President Biden, and also one introduced by mad dog Greene’s best buddy, pistol mama Lauren Boebert, to impeach Vice President Kamala Harris!  And oh the irony here, but one of the bullet points in Boebert’s attempt to impeach Harris is that the Vice President “neglected her duties as Vice President by failing to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove President Biden from office due to his clear inability to effectively and competently handle his duties as Commander in Chief.”  Say WHAT???  Boebert wants to impeach the Vice President because she didn’t invoke the 25th Amendment?  OH THE IRONY!

None … not a single one … of these resolutions will lead to actual impeachment, for the Republicans don’t have the votes to get them through now, and in January when the next Congress is seated, these resolutions will all expire.  It’s not serious legislative work … it’s all for show, my friends.  The people whose salary YOU pay, wasted precious time and resources playing games that they knew had no actual meaning. They can then go back to their districts and yell and puff out their chests and say, “I wrote a resolution to impeach the President!” and their supporters will whistle, applaud, and cheer.  It is not governance, it is a circus.

And what should we look forward to come next year?  More of the same crap.  Already, they are gathering their resources, consulting with the Heritage Foundation, a Conservative ‘think tank’, and plotting ‘strategy’, such as it is.  They not only plan to impeach President Biden and Kamala Harris, but also Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.  I seriously doubt they will be successful, and even if they are, I would not expect the Senate to convict and expel any of these from their positions, but these faux impeachments, along with other of their clownish antics, will keep this nation in perpetual turmoil for the next two years, which may well be the goal of the soulless Republican Party.

  • Democrats talk about enhanced voting rights; Republicans talk about impeaching the President
  • Democrats talk about expansion of renewable energy sources to help save life on Planet Earth; Republicans talk about impeaching the Attorney General
  • Democrats talk about gun regulations to cut down on violent crime; Republicans talk about impeaching the Vice-President
  • Democrats talk about human rights – LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, etc.; Republicans talk about impeaching the Secretary of Homeland Security

Do you begin to see a pattern here?  Once again, my friends, repeat after me:  Republicans do not want governance, they want a show.  Vote for them and that is all you’ll get … a horror show.

Will He Or Won’t He? Should He Or Shouldn’t He?

The great debate these days seems to be over whether Attorney General Merrick Garland will, or should, charge Donald Trump for crimes committed while in office.  You all know my opinion:  charge him, convict him, put him in a cell and throw away the key!  But, there is more to consider and political author/journalist Bill Press assesses it in his latest column …


To charge or not to charge?

Bill Press, 28 July, 2022

To charge or not to charge?

For months in Washington – whether over breakfast at the Four Seasons, lunch at The Palm, or dinner at Café Milano – the only topic of conversation has been: What’s Merrick Garland up to? Is the Justice Department conducting its own investigation of possible criminal activity related to Jan. 6? And, if so, how high would it go? All the way to Trump? Why hasn’t he already filed charges? Or is Garland, afraid of making the department look political, just holding back and leaving it up to Congress?

Nobody knew. And Garland only deepened the mystery with his sphinx-like pronouncement that “no person,” not even a former president, is “above the law.”

This week, we finally got some answers. Washington’s sleepy, summertime media exploded with first, the rumor, then confirmation, that none other than Marc Short, former chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, and Greg Jacob, Pence’s former chief counsel, had met with a federal grand jury looking into possible criminal charges related to the failed insurrection of Jan. 6.

Now we know for sure: The Justice Department, having already filed charges against more than 855 people who took part in the violent assault on the Capitol, is moving up the chain of command – is already inside the White House – investigating who in the top tier of the Trump administration is responsible for summoning and inciting the mob. And we know that the DOJ was, in fact, conducting its own investigation even before receiving any request to do so from the January 6 Select Committee. That’s big news.

But that news has also re-ignited another old debate in Washington: No matter how outrageous his conduct before, during, and after Jan. 6, should Merrick Garland even file charges against Donald Trump? Many leading attorneys, including CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin, with whom I usually agree on everything, have urged Garland not to act. Their arguments are wide-ranging: that such a case is complicated and might not succeed; that prosecuting a former president’s never been done before in this country; that that’s how autocracies work, not democracies; and that charging Trump with a crime will only give him another opportunity to paint himself as a political victim in a trial that could drag on for years.

And so the question of the day has become: To charge or not to charge? Frankly, I can’t even believe we’re having this debate. It’s a no-brainer. Of course, Donald Trump should be charged with crimes he committed as president. There’s no good argument for not doing so.

Granted, this would be the first time a former president faced criminal charges. But why? Because we’ve never had a president like Donald Trump before. No other American president tried to bribe the president of another country; refused to accept, and then tried to overturn, the outcome of an election; asked a state official to “discover” 11,000 more votes; encouraged his lawyers to create slates of fake electors; summoned a mob of supporters to Washington and, knowing they were armed, directed them to storm the Capitol and prevent Congress and his vice president from carrying out their constitutional responsibilities.

Plus, the evidence is clear. Trump is guilty as sin. The January 6 Committee has made the case. Trump’s guilty of violating the law against rebellion and insurrection. S2383 strictly prohibits anyone who “incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto.” That’s exactly what Trump did leading up to Jan. 6.

And, among other possible charges, Trump’s guilty of obstructing justice, according to which it’s a crime “to corruptly obstruct, influence or impede any official proceeding or attempt to do so.” Which is exactly what Trump did on Jan. 6.

There’s also the matter of fairness. There were two different sets of players on Jan. 6: those who carried out the attack, and those who planned and organized it. It would be a gross miscarriage of justice for the DOJ to prosecute only the members of the mob, and not the man who sent them.

Finally, it’s important to hold Trump responsible in order to send a message: In this great country, anybody has the right to complain about the outcome of an election. But nobody has the right to overturn the government and destroy our democracy in order to stay in office. That’s an attack on the United States of America.

For those reasons, Merrick Garland must file criminal charges against Donald Trump. The sooner, the better.

Republican Voices of Experience Speak Loudly

It’s one thing for someone like me, a mere political observer, to say that Donald Trump must be prosecuted for his crimes, particularly the crime of inciting an attempted coup to overturn an election, to kill the voices of We the People.  You and I can say it all we want, but our words carry little or no weight with the courts or the Department of Justice, the people who really matter.  However, when former Justice Department officials who served in Republican administrations say it, then it carries weight and significance.

The following article, published in The Atlantic, was penned by the trio of Donald Ayer, Stuart M. Gerson, and Dennis Aftergut.  Ayer and Gerson worked in the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations. Gerson also briefly served as the acting attorney general under President Bill Clinton, while Aftergut is a former federal prosecutor and former chief assistant city attorney for San Francisco.  Their words are powerful and I hope that those who need to listen … are listening.


The DOJ Must Prosecute Trump

The January 6 committee has provided overwhelming evidence that the former president was not some bit player along for the ride, but the central driver of a nefarious plot.

By Donald Ayer, Stuart Gerson, and Dennis Aftergut

After seven hearings held by the January 6 committee thus far this summer, doubts as to who is responsible have been resolved. The evidence is now overwhelming that Donald Trump was the driving force behind a massive criminal conspiracy to interfere with the official January 6 congressional proceeding and to defraud the United States of a fair election outcome.

The evidence is clearer and more robust than we as former federal prosecutors—two of us as Department of Justice officials in Republican administrations—thought possible before the hearings began. Trump was not just a willing beneficiary of a complex plot in which others played most of the primary roles. While in office, he himself was the principal actor in nearly all of its phases, personally executing key parts of most of its elements and aware of or involved in its worst features, including the use of violence on Capitol Hill. Most remarkably, he did so over vehement objections raised at every turn, even by his sycophantic and loyal handpicked team. This was Trump’s project all along.

Everyone knew before the hearings began that we were dealing with perhaps the gravest imaginable offense against the nation short of secession—a serious nationwide effort pursued at multiple levels to overturn the unambiguous outcome of a national election. We all knew as well that efforts were and are unfolding nationwide to change laws and undermine electoral processes with the specific objective of succeeding at the same project in 2024 and after. But each hearing has sharpened our understanding that Donald Trump himself is the one who made it happen.

As former prosecutors, we recognize the legitimacy of concerns that electoral winners prosecuting their defeated opponents may look like something out of a banana republic rather than the United States of America; that doing so might be viewed as opening the door to prosecutorial retaliation by future presidential winners; and that, in the case of this former president, it might lead to civil unrest.

But given the record now before us, all of these considerations must give way to the urgency of achieving a public reckoning for Donald Trump. The damage to America’s future that would be inflicted by giving him a pass far outweighs the risks of prosecuting him.

The committee’s evidence to date establishes multiple significant points for prosecutors. (A comprehensive summary of the evidence—offense by offense—is available at Just Security’s “Criminal Evidence Tracker.”)

First, contrary to speculation that Trump may have genuinely believed he won the election, and thus in his own mind was seeking rough justice in trying to change the outcome, the committee has demonstrated repeatedly that he knew beyond all doubt that he had lost fair and square. Trump’s former attorney general Bill Barr told the president that claims of widespread voter fraud were “bullshit.” Numerous reinforcements of that message were delivered by many others, including Barr’s successor, former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen; former Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue; and multiple Trump-campaign officials.

Second, Trump’s involvement in carrying out the scheme was systematic, expansive, and extraordinarily personal. As if to illustrate how personal his intervention was (and is), Republican Liz Cheney, the committee’s vice chair and the representative from Wyoming, dropped a bombshell at the end of Tuesday’s hearing: Sometime since the previous hearing on June 28, Trump himself had contacted a witness, something that his lawyers certainly could have told him could easily lead to charges of witness tampering. Cheney announced that the committee has notified the Justice Department of Trump’s latest misconduct.

The committee’s previous hearings showed that in the months after the 2020 election, Trump himself—not some aide or lawyer or other ally—tried to interfere with the state vote-counting processes. Among the most memorable incidents was his 67-minute January 2 call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger asking him to “find” 11,780 nonexistent votes, creating a Trump win. Trump himself also called to try to influence the state’s chief elections investigator, Frances Watson, and spoke with Georgia Governor Brian Kemp to urge him to call a special legislative session to appoint alternative electors.

There is also evidence that Trump spoke with Republican Pennsylvania House Speaker Bryan Cutler after he had declined repeated calls from Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, two Trump-campaign attorneys, to bring the legislature into session to decertify the state’s election results. And Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel and Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, also a Republican, both testified that Trump phoned them in December to ask for their help in implementing the infamous bogus-elector scheme. (John Eastman, another Trump lawyer, and Giuliani were also involved with those calls.)

Trump tried persistently to obtain the help of the Department of Justice in creating a false public impression that the election had been fraudulent. After he failed in mid-December to persuade Bill Barr to assert election fraud, Trump called Rosen, Barr’s successor, nearly every day in the same pursuit. And when this effort too failed, at a White House meeting on January 3, he undertook to replace Rosen with Jeffrey Clark, a second-tier DOJ official whom Trump had spoken with personally and found more compliant. This effort failed only when Donoghue and Rosen told Trump that the entire department’s leadership would resign if Clark were installed.

Crucial to the whole plot, of course, was the unlawful scheme to pressure Vice President Mike Pence into rejecting or delaying the electoral count. Multiple witnesses testified about being present to hear Trump’s “heated” call with Pence on the morning of January 6. One witness said that Trump called Pence a “wimp.” Ivanka Trump testified that she had never previously heard her father treat Pence that way, and she told another witness that Trump had used the “P-word” to denigrate the vice president’s manhood.

Ample evidence has also shown Trump well knew that Pence could not properly do as Trump urged. Mike Pence’s counsel, Greg Jacob, testified that Trump was present at a January 4 White House meeting where John Eastman admitted the unlawfulness of his and Trump’s plan to have the vice president not certify the electoral count two days later.

A third significant point for prosecutors is that the hearings have put into sharp focus Trump’s personal involvement and advance knowledge of the dangerous circumstances surrounding the January 6 insurrection. Cassidy Hutchinson, who was the principal aide to Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testified that she overheard Trump complain just before his January 6 speech on the Ellipse that supporters were not being allowed into the security area for his speech while armed, and thus were staying outside. She recalled Trump asking to have the magnetometers removed, saying that he did not care if attendees were armed, because “they’re not here to hurt me.”

Hutchinson also testified that Trump expected to go to the Capitol after his speech and was angry when the Secret Service denied his request to do so, testimony that others have corroborated. He wanted to be part of and lead an armed mob aimed, at minimum, at intimidating Congress and Mike Pence. That is significant evidence demonstrating criminal intent in connection with the crime of inciting an insurrection. Told that the mob had threatened to hang the vice president, Trump apparently responded that he “deserves” it.

Finally, the committee has persuasively established that Trump continued to facilitate the insurrection, even after he returned to the White House once the Secret Service refused to take him to Capitol Hill. Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley testified that during the violence, Pence called him to request the National Guard to restore order; Trump made no such call. In fact, Trump did nothing for more than three hours to quell the insurrectionists.

To the contrary, Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Matthews testified that by tweeting that Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done” to overturn the election, Trump was “pouring gasoline on the fire.”

All of that was enough to show Trump’s personal leadership of the Big Lie effort and his complicity in the violence of January 6. But in addition, at Tuesday’s hearing, the committee focused attention on Trump’s December 19 tweet inviting his supporters to a “big protest in D.C. on January 6th.” He added, “Be there, will be wild!” The committee showed evidence of communications among the militant Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, and Three Percenters hours after the tweet demonstrating that it was the signal that prompted previously unaligned groups to cooperate in developing military-style operational tactics for the violent Capitol invasion.

In assessing the importance and priority to be given to a DOJ decision to prosecute, the Justice Department Manual lists three factors with special relevance here: “the nature and seriousness of the offense,” “the deterrent effect of the prosecution,” and “the person’s culpability in connection with the offense.”

On the first point, it is hard to imagine an offense that would more urgently call for criminal accountability by federal prosecution than a concerted and nearly successful effort to overthrow the result of a presidential election. It is an offense against the entire nation, by which Trump sought to reverse a 235-year-old constitutional tradition of presidential power transferring lawfully and peacefully.

The fact that a related state grand-jury investigation is proceeding in Fulton County, Georgia, relating to the part of the plot aimed at the Georgia vote count and certification process does not alter or lessen the urgency of this federal interest. Separate state and federal prosecutions can and should proceed when federal interests are as strong or stronger than the local interest.

Nor can there be any doubt about the crucial need to deter future attempts to overthrow the government. For the past 18 months, and presently, Trump himself and his supporters have been engaged in concerted efforts across the country to prepare for a similar, but better-planned, effort to overcome the minority status of Trump’s support and put him back in the White House. Moreover, if the efforts of the former president and his supporters garner a pass from the federal authorities, even in the face of such overwhelming evidence, Trump will not be the only one ready to play this game for another round.

As many have pointed out, deterrence requires that the quest for accountability succeed in achieving a conviction before a jury—here most likely made up of citizens of the District of Columbia. And the Department’s regulations make the odds of the prosecution’s success an important consideration in determining whether to go forward. In the case of a person who has made a career out of escaping the consequences of his misconduct, this is no small issue for the attorney general to take into account.

But as former prosecutors, we have faith that the evidence of personal culpability is so overwhelming that the case can be made to the satisfaction of such a jury. One of us—Gerson—has tried many difficult cases before D.C. juries with success. As a defendant, Donald Trump would open the door to all sorts of things that wouldn’t come into a normal trial, and the prosecutor could have a field day in argument about how this would-be tyrant tried to overthrow the government that has kept our nation free for two and a quarter centuries. Bottom line: Given what is at stake, even with the risk of a hung jury—leaving room for a second trial—there is no realistic alternative but to go forward.

Any argument that Donald Trump lacked provable criminal intent is contradicted by the facts elicited by the January 6 committee. And the tradition of not prosecuting a former president must yield to the manifest need to protect our constitutional form of government and to ensure that the violent effort to overthrow it is never repeated.

A Pessimistic View of the Mid-terms

Jeff hasn’t been posting much of late, but when he does, he DOES! This post says everything I’ve been feeling, and likely much of what you’ve all been feeling of late. Please take a few minutes to read and think about it … share his words if you feel so inclined, for we need everyone to understand where the current path leads. Thanks, Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

I try like hell to be an optimist. I keep thinking my fellow Americans will ultimately do the right thing when it matters most. When they see the clear difference between our two political parties, they will surely choose the one that gives us the best chance of continuing to live in a democratic society and address the vital issues confronting us in the 21st century.

Unfortunately, of late, I’ve failed to maintain that positivity. I find myself increasingly in the category of folks who say the November mid-term elections will be a catastrophe for Democrats. Our current president has done a lot to move the country forward. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to matter to folks.

The American people are pissed. About everything, it seems. And, if I’m to be completely honest with myself, why shouldn’t they be? Inflation is out of control; the pandemic is still lurking, although…

View original post 1,089 more words

And Speaking of Voting Rights …

I had considered doing a Saturday Surprise post today, but … frankly, my heart wasn’t in it and my mind kept going back to an editorial I read yesterday by Attorney General Merrick Garland.  Perhaps there might be a Sunday Surprise tomorrow, but for today, please read AG Garland’s words, think about them, put them into the context of the post I wrote yesterday about Freedom Summer in Mississippi in 1964.  Then ask yourself … WHERE are we headed?  WHY should a person’s right to vote be infringed upon because of the colour of their skin?  And WHAT, if anything, can We the People do to stop this runaway train that will disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of law-abiding, tax-paying citizens, rob them of their voice in our country’s government?


Merrick Garland: It is time for Congress to act again to protect the right to vote

Opinion by Merrick B. Garland

Friday, 06 August 2021

Merrick B. Garland is attorney general of the United States.

Our society is shaped not only by the rights it declares but also by its willingness to protect and enforce those rights. Nowhere is this clearer than in the area of voting rights.

Fifty-six years ago Friday, the Voting Rights Act became law. At the signing ceremony, President Lyndon B. Johnson rightly called it “one of the most monumental laws in the entire history of American freedom.”

Prior attempts to protect voting rights informed his assessment. The 15th Amendment promised that no American citizen would be denied the right to vote on account of race. Yet for nearly a century following the amendment’s ratification, the right to vote remained illusory for far too many.

The Civil Rights Act of 1957 marked Congress’s first major civil rights legislation since Reconstruction. That law authorized the attorney general to sue to enjoin racially discriminatory denials of the right to vote. Although the Justice Department immediately put the law to use, it quickly learned that bringing case-by-case challenges was no match for systematic voter suppression.

Things would not have changed without the civil rights movement’s persistent call to action. By the time a 25-year-old John Lewis was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., the Justice Department had been embroiled in voting rights litigation against the surrounding county for four years. Although the county had approximately 15,000 Black citizens of voting age, the number of Black registered voters had only risen from 156 to 383 during those years.

By 1965, it was clear that protecting the right to vote required stronger tools. The Voting Rights Act provided them. Central to the law was its “preclearance” provision, which prevented jurisdictions with a history of discriminatory voting practices from adopting new voting rules until they could show the Justice Department or a federal court that the change would have neither a racially discriminatory purpose nor a racially discriminatory result.

By any measure, the preclearance regime was enormously effective. While it was in place, the Justice Department blocked thousands of discriminatory voting changes that would have curtailed the voting rights of millions of citizens in jurisdictions large and small.

One thwarted change involved McComb, Miss. A large group of Black residents in the city had long voted at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, which was close to their homes on the east side of railroad tracks that run through the city. In 1997, the city tried to move that group’s assigned polling place to the American Legion Hut on the west side of the tracks. To cross those tracks, Black voters on the east side — many of whom lacked transportation — would have had to travel substantial distances to find a safe crossing. Recognizing that difficulty, the Justice Department blocked the change.

While the Voting Rights Act gave the Justice Department robust authority, it also imposed checks on that power. Jurisdictions had the option to go to federal court to show that their voting changes were lawful. This ensured fairness and accountability, but without the inefficiencies and ineffectiveness that existed prior to 1965. It was a balance that worked and received broad support: Congressional reauthorizations of the act were signed into law by President Richard M. Nixon in 1970, President Gerald Ford in 1975, President Ronald Reagan in 1982 and President George W. Bush in 2006.

That invaluable framework was upended in 2013, when the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder effectively eliminated the act’s preclearance protections. Without that authority, the Justice Department has been unable to stop discriminatory practices before they occur. Instead, the Justice Department has been left with costly, time-consuming tools that have many of the shortcomings that plagued federal law prior to 1965.

Notwithstanding these setbacks, the Justice Department is using all its current legal authorities to combat a new wave of restrictive voting laws. But if the Voting Rights Act’s preclearance provision were still operative, many of those laws would likely not have taken effect in the first place.

In a column published after his death, Lewis recalled an important lesson taught by Martin Luther King Jr.: “Each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something.”

On this anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, we must say again that it is not right to erect barriers that make it harder for millions of eligible Americans to vote. And it is time for Congress to act again to protect that fundamental right.

Filosofa’s Mind Is Bouncy

There was much in yesterday’s news that I could, perhaps should, be writing about.  There was the Supreme Court decision to uphold Arizona’s voter suppression laws, Bill Cosby’s sentence being overturned, even though he has admitted his guilt, Trump organization along with CFO Weisselberg being charged with running a 15-year tax scam, and some other important stories.  However, as I seem to have a very bouncy mind today that cannot focus on one thing for more than 15 seconds, I instead have for you few fleeting thoughts on this, that, and the other from the bouncing mind of Filosofa …


“He’s not just a pig, he’s stupid!”

That was ol’ Tucker Carlson’s rant after hearing that General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified that he believes the military should be well-read and should learn about the past history of the U.S., including its dark, racist parts, in order to better understand where we are today and why.

So, here’s a talk show host who thinks he is smarter and somehow more educated than the well-respected, highest ranking military officer in the country, a man with not one but two Master’s degrees?  Tucker … in a battle of wits with General Milley, he would wipe the floor with you, then throw you to the dogs.

Why is it that so-called conservatives are so easily reduced to spitting insults and name-calling?  Have they not got the education and intellect, the vocabulary to actually carry on a conversation?  F*** Tucker Carlson … most all advertisers have pulled out of his program … it’s time to send him packing before he infects even more of the right wing.  And let him take his equally ignorant counterpart, Laura Ingraham, with him.


One week ago yesterday, the Florida condo Champlain Towers South collapsed into rubble.  A few survivors were found in the rubble on the first day, but after 8 days, there is no longer any hope that the 145 people still unaccounted for will be found alive.  None.  You don’t survive that and live for 8 days in this …

And yet, officials continue to call it a ‘search and rescue’ operation.  No, they are only looking now for dead bodies … this is now a recovery operation, nothing more.  Why prolong the agony of family members, telling them there is hope for their loved ones when there isn’t so much as a shred of hope of finding life in that mess?  It is cruel and heartless.  Thus far, 18 people are confirmed dead, and in my mind the death toll stands at 163.  Be kind, stop lying to the families so that they can stop holding their breath.


When I first saw this headline in the Associated Press (AP) …

Venomous snake captured in North Carolina capital

I thought … oh, goodie, they’ve finally captured and arrested Madison Cawthorn … or Richard Burr … or Thom Tillis!  But no, this was just an innocent snake, aka a reptile of the suborder Serpentes.

Just a venomous zebra-cobra snake.  Frankly, I think he heard about all the other snakes in the North Carolina legislature and figured he should go visit some of his family!  I’d rather cozy up to the zebra-cobra than any of the aforementioned human snakes!  They are far less lethal, less venomous to a much greater number of people than the human snakes!


And on the upside … yesterday, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced a moratorium on federal executions, reversing the former guy’s reinstatement of the death penalty in federal cases.  Sadly, it will not bring back the lives of …

  • Daniel Lewis Lee
  • Wesley Ira Purkey
  • Dustin Lee Honken
  • Lezmond Charles Mitchell
  • Keith Dwayne Nelson
  • William Emmett LeCroy
  • Christopher Andre Vialva
  • Orlando Cordia Hall
  • Brandon Bernard
  • Alfred Bourgeois
  • Lisa Montgomery
  • Cory Johnson
  • Dustin John Higgs
  • John Gardner
  • Donnie Lance
  • Abel Ochoa
  • Nicholas Todd Sutton
  • Nathaniel Woods
  • Walter Barton
  • Billy Joe Wardlow

All were executed after the federal death penalty was reinstated in 2019 after a 16-year hiatus.  Of the twenty, 9 were executed in Texas, 3 each in Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia, 2 in Florida.  Are you starting to see a pattern here?

Thumbs up to AG Garland for ending federal executions.  Now if only we could convince the 24 states who still practice executions to follow suit.  Texas seems to really enjoy killing people, for in the past 45 years, they have led the pack in killing and I mean by a LOT …

Top Ten State executions since 1976

  1. Texas (538)
  2. Oklahoma (113)
  3. Virginia (113)
  4. Florida (99)
  5. Missouri (92)
  6. Georgia (76)
  7. Alabama (62)
  8. Ohio (56)
  9. North Carolina (43)
  10. South Carolina (43)

Way to go, Ted Cruz, John Cornyn, Dan Crenshaw, Louie Gohmert, Ronny Jackson, et al.


Okay, my mind is still bouncing, so I think I’ll take it out for a walk now. 

The Good, The Bad, And The … Funny!

I vaguely remember the days, back before the year 2016, when I went to bed at night feeling safe and secure.  I can almost remember the days when I didn’t automatically associate the word “Republican” with hatred, racism, greed, cruelty, cheating, lying, and obnoxious.  Ahhhhh … those were the good ol’ days!  Long story short, I have more snark built up since my last snippets post, so … let me share just a few with you!


Kiran Ahuja has a new job!

On Tuesday, the Senate voted on President Biden’s nominee for the Office of Personnel Management, Kiran Ahuja.  Ultimately Ms. Ahuja, a civil rights lawyer and veteran of the Obama administration, was confirmed, but only after Vice-President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote, because not one single Republican was willing to vote to confirm her.  Why?  Well, for one thing she is an Indian-born immigrant.  According to Josh Hawley – you remember him, the guy who did a fist pump in a show of solidarity with the terrorists who attacked the Capitol on January 6th

“I’m concerned that as the federal government’s H.R. director, Ms. Ahuja could use her platform to promote radical ideologies that seek to divide rather than unite the American people. She could bring critical race theory back into federal government training.”

GASP!!!  She could … require sensitivity training by those who make hiring decisions for the federal government!  Oh, wouldn’t it be awful to teach people that it is wrong to discriminate!  She could actually insist that hiring decisions be based on the skill level of the applicants rather than the colour of their skin!

Apparently, the congressional Republicans want an all-white cabinet, and the difficulty of Ms. Ahuja’s appointment was not the first sign of trouble.

Shortly after taking office, President Biden nominated Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  Ms. Tanden is also Indian American, and this time, Biden pulled her nomination once Democratic Senator Joe Manchin (yes, he of filibuster and voter suppression fame) made it clear he would not vote to confirm her.  However last month, the President appointed her to be a senior White House advisor, a position for which no senate confirmation is necessary.  Take that, Republicans … and Republican wannabe Manchin!

And then, there was Deb Haaland, a Native American who was chosen to be Secretary of the Interior, a department that has a long history of being used as a tool of oppression against America’s Indigenous peoples.  Ms. Haaland was ultimately confirmed in March, but only after being grilled at length as Republicans tried to paint her as a radical.  Said Republican Senator Steve Daines from Montana …

“I’m deeply concerned with the congresswoman’s support on several radical issues that will hurt Montana, our way of life, our jobs and rural America.”

Um, Mr. Daines … the population of Montana is less than 1% of the population of this country … put that in your pipe and smoke it.

I am very thrilled that the Biden cabinet looks much different than that of the former guy, that there is diversity and qualified people with experience making the everyday decisions that affect our lives.  I sincerely hope that I never see the day when there is a Republican president and a Republican majority in the Senate again, for all this progress would likely be undone within a matter of a few weeks.


But there was a big, bright spot today!

Judge Peter A. Cahill sentenced former police officer Derek Chauvin to 22.5 years for the murder of George Floyd.  This sentence will not bring Mr. Floyd back to life, but … it is consequential, and I am very pleased.  This is very nearly the longest sentence any police officer has received in this country for unnecessary killing in the line of duty and it is long past due.  It is, to the best of my knowledge, the longest sentence given to an officer for the murder of an unarmed Black person.

Shortly after reading the sentence from the bench, Judge Cahill issued a 22-page memorandum about his decision, writing, “Part of the mission of the Minneapolis Police Department is to give citizens ‘voice and respect.’” But Mr. Chauvin, the judge wrote, had instead “treated Mr. Floyd without respect and denied him the dignity owed to all human beings and which he certainly would have extended to a friend or neighbor.”

The maximum sentence possible would have been 40 years, and the presumptive sentence would have been 12.5 years.  I think the main thing to take away from this sentencing is that it sends a strong message to police officers that the blanket concept of ‘qualified immunity’ isn’t going to protect you when you use excessive force, that times are changing and police, just like anybody else, can be held accountable for their actions.

In the end, Judge Cahill said two “aggravating factors” had affected his decision to sentence Mr. Chauvin to more than 22 years: Mr. Chauvin had acted with particular cruelty, the judge said, and had abused his authority as an officer of the law.  This needs to become the rule, not the exception!  Mr. Chauvin, who is currently 45 years of age, will likely be eligible for parole after serving 2/3 of his sentence, or in about 15 years.


For the People … yeah, right

I am still furious over the Senate Republicans’ unanimous vote to deny even debate on the For the People Act that would have ensured our rights to vote, despite nearly every state in the nation attempting to suppress that right.  But yesterday, there was a glimmer of hope.

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Friday that the U.S. Justice Department is suing the state of Georgia over its new voting law, saying that the controversial measure is intended to restrict ballot access to Black voters.  In his news conference yesterday, AG Garland said …

“Our complaint alleges that recent changes to Georgia’s election laws were enacted with the purpose of denying or abridging the right of Black Georgians to vote on account of their race or color, in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.”

Thumbs up to the Attorney General!  👍 👍

The bill, SB202, has already passed the Georgia State Legislature and been signed into law by Governor Brian Kemp.  In effect, it makes sweeping changes to the state’s absentee voting rules, adds new voter identification mandates and nearly cuts in half the amount of time for voters to request a mail-in ballot.  It also outlaws passing out food or drinks to voters within 150 feet of a polling place or too close to voters waiting in line.

These voter suppression tactics, while aimed largely at Blacks, will also negatively impact Hispanics, working mothers, the elderly, college students, and the poor.  I sincerely hope that the Justice Departments case wins the day, thereby sending messages to other states, but my best guess is that more lawsuits will be required.

Y’know … We the People have a lot of rights per the U.S. Constitution, but I think perhaps there is none more important than our right to vote, to have a voice in our government.


Late night host/comedian Stephen Colbert talked a bit about the travesty of justice regarding the For the People Act, as well as a number of other issues I’ve written about recently, and his monologue actually brought a laugh gurgling up from my throat, so I hope you’ll check it out and maybe you’ll laugh too!

4 Details From Merrick Garland’s Voting Rights Announcement

I was thrilled to read yesterday … or was it the day before? … that the Department of Justice under Attorney General Merrick Garland will be taking on the issue of voting rights, given that the U.S. Senate is almost certain to refuse to uphold and protect our civil rights.  Our friend TokyoSand has written about some of the details of Garland’s plan, and included a short video clip of his speech that I hope you’ll take time to watch.  Thank you, TS, for all your good work!


4 Details From Merrick Garland’s Voting Rights Announcement

It’s been rough on the voting rights front these last few months, but on Friday, a little sun broke through the clouds.

Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks about a jurys verdict in the case against former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, at the Department of Justice on April 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Andrew Harnik / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW HARNIK/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Attorney General Merrick Garland made an important speech outlining some actions the the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice would be taking to combat the attack on voting rights. He specifically mentioned the 14 states that have passed laws that make it harder to vote. He even referenced the SCOTUS decision back in 2013 that invalidated a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that opened to the door to a renewed rush of discriminatory actions.

View entire original post …

A Conundrum … No Easy Answers

Yesterday, I wrote with some annoyance about the Department of Justice continuing to support the previous administrations claims that … basically, the former guy could do no wrong and was above the law, no matter how many women he raped and then denigrated publicly.  Today, one of my favourite columnists, Eugene Robinson, has given me pause, caused me to perhaps look at it from a slightly different perspective.  One sentence says it all … “The meaning of the law does not change depending on who is in power.”  While I still do not support We the Taxpayers having to pay to defend a rapist madman, I now have a somewhat better understanding of why the Justice Department is doing what they are doing.  Like Mr. Robinson, I hope Trump, and by extension the U.S. Justice Department, lose the suit to Ms. Carroll, for she is deserving of retribution, but I now understand it better.  And I think it only fair that any restitution to Ms. Carroll come out of the former guy’s pocket, not mine and not yours.


Merrick Garland is right to be cautious about breaking with Trump’s Justice Department

Opinion by 

Eugene Robinson

Columnist

June 10, 2021 at 4:05 p.m. EDT

As frustrating and galling as it may be to see President Biden’s administration make anything less than a clean break with its predecessors, Attorney General Merrick Garland is right not to peremptorily reverse positions taken by the Justice Department during the Trump era. And his caution is appropriate even if those positions, such as continuing to represent a certain Mar-a-Lago resident in a defamation case, are clearly wrong.

The Justice Department never should have tried to defend Donald Trump in a civil lawsuit filed by advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, who says that Trump, back in his real estate mogul days, raped her in a department store dressing room. When Carroll made her rape allegation public, then-President Trump called her a liar. Carroll responded by suing Trump for defamation, seeking damages.

Trump was initially represented by private counsel. But his Justice Department intervened to have the case moved to U.S. District Court and argued that it should have been dismissed, saying that Trump was a government “employee” acting within “the scope of his employment” when he verbally attacked Carroll, and thus enjoyed immunity for his defamatory words.

U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan ruled against those claims in October and ordered that Carroll’s lawsuit be allowed to proceed. But Garland’s Justice Department is continuing to defend Trump, even though Kaplan determined that the case should be seen as a private matter between two individuals.

I hope the Justice Department ultimately loses the case and Carroll gets her day in court. But Garland, by staying the course, is sending a powerful message: The Justice Department doesn’t “belong” to Trump or Joe Biden or any one president. The meaning of the law does not change depending on who is in power. We should all swallow hard and accept Garland’s general commitment to some measure of continuity, because the alternative can be much worse.

I know that from personal observation. I was The Post’s South America correspondent three decades ago, at a time when most nations on the continent were emerging from long, dark years of military rule and trying to rebuild their democratic institutions. They all found that once faith in those institutions is lost, it is not easy to regain.

I was based in Buenos Aires, and Argentina’s civilian leadership was still finding its bearings. After years of being lied to by the murderous ruling junta, citizens had little faith in what their elected leaders said. And they had even less faith in the ability of the court system to honestly ascertain truth and deliver justice.

One instructive case study was a brutal rape and murder in Catamarca, a province in the Andean foothills. On a Friday night in September 1990, a 17-year-old girl named Maria Soledad Morales went with some friends to a local dance and never came home. Her tortured and mutilated body was found the following Monday in a roadside ditch. The Catamarca police chief initially said only that she had died from cardiac arrest, but it was later found that she had been brutalized and possibly forced to ingest a lethal dose of cocaine.

Suspicion fell on a group of young men with ties to the Saadi family, a powerful dynasty that had been in control of the province since the days of strongman Juan Perón. But none of these men was arrested by local police, whose statements about the case no one trusted.

The Carmelite nun who ran the school Morales had attended began organizing marches calling for justice, and the demonstrations grew so large that the national government had to respond by sending in a strike force of supposedly “untouchable” investigators. But no one trusted anything they said about the case, either.

The problem was that the Saadis had been political allies of then-President Carlos Menem. The universal assumption was that with Menem in power, there would be no honest and thorough investigation that might hold the Saadis or other powerful people accountable.

Finally, eight years later, two men — one of them a well-connected scion — were convicted of involvement in the murder; they each served time in prison and were released. Many Argentines are convinced — as am I — that the justice system never got anywhere near the full truth of the murder. Ramón Eduardo Saadi, who at the time was the provincial governor, was removed from office in 1991 — but only because of how loud the outcry about the case became.

My point is not that Argentina is uniquely flawed, but that we do not want the United States to become a nation where the default assumption is that justice is always political. We don’t want to be a place where culpability and liability depend on who happens to be president.

So if Garland believes there are plausible reasons for the government to keep defending Trump in Carroll’s defamation suit, I’m glad he’s doing so. His job is to follow the law as he sees it — even when I think he’s dead wrong.

WHY???

If you thought I let off all the steam in this morning’s rants, you’d be wrong.  Two things are puzzling me at the moment … puzzling and annoying me … leading me to keep asking over and over — WHY???  The former guy needs to fade into oblivioun … he is, or at least ought to be, irrelevant now, yet he keeps popping back onto the radar.  Somebody please, put him somewhere, like a mental institution or better yet, a prison.


I don’t believe a word of it …

You remember June 1st 2020, right?  That was the day that the former guy, having seen his approval rating drop even lower than usual, decided a photo op was just the thing to boost his ratings.  So, he and his band of merry men (and women) walked from the White House to a church in Lafayette Park so he could hold up a bible and let the press take pictures of him doing so … pictures that would be splashed all over every major news outlet by that evening.  However, his walk was only accomplished after the Secret Service and other federal law enforcement agencies cleared the path of peaceful protestors protesting the brutal police killing of an unarmed Black man, George Floyd, a month prior.

The protests were peaceful, no violence until federal law enforcement officers showed up.  According to The Washington Post the following day …

“In a massive show of force, federal law enforcement officers fired rubber bullets and chemical gas at peaceful protesters outside the White House on Monday evening … Hundreds of protesters were pushed away from Lafayette Square, where they were protesting the police killing of George Floyd, by the National Guard, U.S. Park Police and Secret Service. The ambush began half an hour before the city’s newly imposed curfew of 7 p.m. went into effect.”

There were photos, videos … it cannot be denied.  And yet, yesterday a report by the Interior Department’s inspector general did just that … denied that law enforcement cleared area for the former guy’s ludicrous walk to church.  According to the report, the area was cleared of protestors in order to allow contractors to safely install some fencing.  BULLSHIT!  I believe that just about as much as I believe elephants can fly!

What I don’t understand is why this particular lie?  What is the purpose, one year later, of telling a lie covering up actions that occurred as a result of egomania by the former guy?  Does the inspector general who issued the report honestly think that We the People are so stupid that we don’t remember the scene from one year ago?  And what’s the point?  The former guy is gone, he surely isn’t still pulling strings in the Department of the Interior, is he?  Police do not use violent means to clear peaceful protestors from an area so that they can build a fence.  Period.  Give us credit for a little bit of intelligence!


Defending the indefensible

This week the Department of Justice led by Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that it would continue defending the former guy in the lawsuit brought by E. Jean Carroll.  A bit of a refresher for those who may not remember this situation …

Ms. Carroll has claimed, and for the record I believe her, that the former guy raped her in the 1990s.  More than a dozen others have made the same claim, most quite credible, and I remind you of that old saying, where there’s so much smoke, there’s a fire somewhere.  When Ms. Carroll made her claim, the former guy rudely denigrated her in public, calling her rude names, saying he had never met her (this despite the fact there are photos of Ms. Carroll and her husband with the former guy at a party) and that he couldn’t have raped her because she isn’t his ‘type’.  Ms. Carroll filed a lawsuit against Trump for defaming her character and calling her a liar among other things.  At that point, then-Attorney General William Barr stepped in and said that the former guy was acting in his official capacity as president when he denied ever knowing Ms. Carroll and made statements assaulting her character, and thus could be defended by government lawyers — in effect underwritten by taxpayer money.

Long story short, he lied and called her names, Bill Barr said he had a right to do that because he was the then-occupant of the Oval Office, and that We the Taxpayers should pay to defend him and prove that in his position at the time, he was above the law.

Today, William Barr has left the Justice Department, replaced by a man for whom I have a great deal of respect, Merrick Garland.  However, I am extremely disappointed in the decision by the DoJ to continue defending the former guy at our expense!  WHY???  Is this a democratic republic as stated in the U.S. Constitution, or is this a banana republic that supports egomaniacal dictators???

In 2020, Barr argued that the former guy was a federal employee whose statements were part of his employment duties and who was thus entitled to protection under the Westfall Act, which grants civil immunity to federal employees for actions that are part of their jobs.  Since when is calling a woman a ‘slut’ part of the president’s job?  So, by this standard, if a sitting president kills one of his staff with a knife or a gun, would that be defensible under the Westfall Act?  Where is the line … and when do We the People finally stand up and say, ENOUGH!

Again, I want to know why the current DoJ is still upholding the former guy’s actions.  I just need an explanation … We the People deserve an explanation.