Damn You, Mitch McConnell – Part I

Mitch-McConnellAddison Mitchell McConnell is the very definition of corruption.  Last Friday, Dana Milbank wrote an opinion column in The Washington Post titled “Mitch McConnell is a Russian Asset”.  The column so incensed McConnell that he went on a 30-minute tirade on the Senate floor yesterday, referring to the column as “modern-day McCarthyism”.  To Mr. McConnell I would say this:  If it walks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.

It is a proven fact that the Russians did interfere in our 2016 election and that without their assistance it is unlikely that Trump could have won enough votes to win the electoral college (remember that he lost the actual vote by nearly 3 million)Proven. Fact.  So, why would anybody who is elected to protect and preserve this nation, its Constitution, and its people, refuse to take steps to prevent intrusion by a foreign adversary?  Why???  Think about that one.  Meanwhile, since Mr. Milbank’s column annoyed ol’ Mitch so much, I present it here and will offer my own, as well as others’ views in Part II of this post tomorrow.


Mitch McConnell is a Russian Asset

Dana-MilbankBy Dana Milbank, Columnist, July 26

 

Mitch McConnell is a Russian asset.

This doesn’t mean he’s a spy, but neither is it a flip accusation. Russia attacked our country in 2016. It is attacking us today. Its attacks will intensify in 2020. Yet each time we try to raise our defenses to repel the attack, McConnell, the Senate majority leader, blocks us from defending ourselves.

Let’s call this what it is: unpatriotic. The Kentucky Republican is, arguably more than any other American, doing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bidding.

Robert Mueller sat before Congress this week warning that the Russia threat “deserves the attention of every American.” He said “the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in our election is among the most serious” challenges to American democracy he has ever seen. “They are doing it as we sit here, and they expect to do it during the next campaign,” he warned, adding that “much more needs to be done in order to protect against these intrusions, not just by the Russians but others as well.”

Not three hours after Mueller finished testifying, Mark Warner (D-Va.), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, went to the Senate floor to request unanimous consent to pass legislation requiring presidential campaigns to report to the FBI any offers of assistance from agents of foreign governments.

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) was there to represent her leader’s interests. “I object,” she said.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) attempted to move a bill that would require campaigns to report to the FBI contributions by foreign nationals.

“I object,” said Hyde-Smith.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) tried to force action on bipartisan legislation, written with Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and supported by Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), protecting lawmakers from foreign cyberattacks. “The majority leader, our colleague from Kentucky, must stop blocking this common-sense legislation and allow this body to better defend itself against foreign hackers,” he said.

“I object,” repeated Hyde-Smith.

The next day, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the minority leader, asked for the Senate to pass the Securing America’s Federal Elections Act, already passed by the House, that would direct $600 million in election assistance to states and require backup paper ballots.

McConnell himself responded this time, reading from a statement, his chin melting into his chest, his trademark thin smile on his lips. “It’s just a highly partisan bill from the same folks who spent two years hyping up a conspiracy theory about President Trump and Russia,” he said. “Therefore, I object.” McConnell also objected to another attempt by Blumenthal to pass his bill.

Pleaded Schumer: “I would suggest to my friend the majority leader: If he doesn’t like this bill, let’s put another bill on the floor and debate it.”

But McConnell has blocked all such attempts, including:

A bipartisan bill requiring Facebook, Google and other Internet companies to disclose purchasers of political ads, to identify foreign influence.

A bipartisan bill to ease cooperation between state election officials and federal intelligence agencies.

A bipartisan bill imposing sanctions on any entity that attacks a U.S. election.

A bipartisan bill with severe new sanctions on Russia for its cybercrimes.

McConnell has prevented them all from being considered — over and over again. This is the same McConnell who, in the summer of 2016, when briefed by the CIA along with other congressional leaders on Russia’s electoral attacks, questioned the validity of the intelligence and forced a watering down of a warning letter to state officials about the threat, omitting any mention of Russia.

No amount of alarms sounded by U.S. authorities — even Republicans, even Trump appointees — moves McConnell.

On Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray — Trump’s FBI director — told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the Russians “haven’t been deterred enough” and are “absolutely intent on trying to interfere with our elections.”

This year, National Intelligence Director Daniel Coats — Trump’s intelligence director — told the Senate Intelligence Committee that “foreign actors will view the 2020 U.S. elections as an opportunity to advance their interests. We expect them to refine their capabilities and add new tactics.”

And on Thursday, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan report finding that “Russian activities demand renewed attention to vulnerabilities in U.S. voting infrastructure.”

The committee concluded that “urgent steps” are needed “to replace outdated and vulnerable voting systems.” (The $380 million offered since 2016 is a pittance compared with the need.) “Despite the expense, cybersecurity needs to become a higher priority for election-related infrastructure,” the report concluded.

But one man blocks it all — while offering no alternative of his own.

Presumably he thinks whatever influence Russia exerts over U.S. elections will benefit him (he’s up for reelection in 2020) and his party.

“Shame on him,” Schumer said on the Senate floor this week.

But McConnell has no shame. He is aiding and abetting Putin’s dismantling of Americans’ self-governance. A leader who won’t protect our country from attack is no patriot.

Sunday Snarky Snippets …

Sunday afternoon seems a perfect time to share a bit of snarkiness, don’t you think?  As usual, I didn’t have to look far to find some targets for my sharp tongue.


Don’t believe it for a minute

On Thursday, this headline appeared in The Washington Post:

Racial prejudice has declined as a reaction to Trump’s presidency, a new study suggests

Racial prejudice has not increased among white Americans since the explosive 2016 election, argues political scientist Daniel J. Hopkins. It has actually decreased by some measures, he found, possibly as a reaction to Trump’s unexpected ascension to the White House.

… Hopkins believes the study provides evidence that the racially incendiary rhetoric and policies issuing from Trump’s White House have pushed the majority of Americans in the opposite direction.

Unbelieving, my jaw dropped.  Sorry folks, but I’m not buying this one.  Look at the number of people clamoring for Trump’s horrendous border wall to keep out Mexicans and Central Americans … is that not racism?  Look at the people pushing for laws to remove protections from LGBT people … is that not homophobia?  Look at the people who denigrate Muslims … is that not Islamophobia?  And then this from the Associated Press …

Hate makes a comeback in the Pacific Northwest

White nationalism has been on the rise across the U.S., but it has particular resonance along the Idaho-Washington border, where the Aryans espoused hate and violence for years.

In 2018, at least nine hate groups operated in the region of Spokane and northern Idaho, including Identity Evropa, Proud Boys, ACT for America and America’s Promise Ministries, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Keegan Hankes, a researcher for the Southern Poverty Law Center, said the number of hate groups is growing across the U.S., driven in part by a toxic political culture. The human rights group counted 784 active hate groups in the U.S. in 2014 and 1,020 in 2018. In particular, white supremacist groups are growing because of fears that the country’s racial makeup is changing.

That is an increase of 30% in just four years.  But racial prejudice is declining?  I think not.


How quickly they forget …

Remember back in November when I wrote about Cindy Hyde-Smith, the junior United States Senator from Mississippi who had said that if she were invited to a lynching, she would be “in the front row”?  It was discovered at that time that she has a history of making racist comments, and had posted this picture, captioning it with “Mississippi history at its best!” Hyde-Smith-rifle

When that news broke, a number of companies requested a refund of campaign monies they had previously donated to Ms. Hyde-Smith.

However, memories are short and this is, after all, the era of Trump, the era of white supremacy in the United States.  Hyde-Smith won her special election last November, despite her racist ways, and is now campaigning for re-election in 2020.  And the following companies are lining up to contribute to her campaign:

  • ExxonMobil ($5,000), the fossil fuel behemoth
  • National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors ($5,000), the trade association for distribution companies
  • National Chicken Council ($5,000), the trade association for the poultry industry
  • National Association of Realtors ($3,000), the trade association for real estate agents
  • American Waterways Operators ($2,500), the trade association for the tugboat, towboat, and barge industry
  • T-Mobile USA ($2,500), the telecom giant
  • Genentech ($2,500), the biotech company that makes Tamiflu and Boniva — now a subsidiary of Roche
  • Foley & Lardner ($1,000), a large legal and lobbying firm
  • General Dynamics ($1,000), the defense contractor and aerospace company
  • Resolute Forest Products US ($1,000), the American branch of a Canadian pulp and paper manufacturer

Hyde-Smith also received the legal maximum donation of $10,000 from Dirigo PAC, the leadership PAC controlled by Senator Susan Collins of Maine.  I’ll leave you to make of that what you will.


I though Japan had better sense …

Trump traveled to Japan this weekend (on our tax dollars) and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe rolled out the red carpet.  Understandable, I suppose, given that Japan is currently experiencing an economic slowdown and Abe is hoping for a lucrative trade deal from Trump.  Still …

It began with a round of Trump’s favourite activity, golf.  I wonder if he cheated?  Silly me, of course he did!Trump-Abe-fatman

Trump-Abe-golf

Why am I suddenly reminded of that t.v. show, “Jake and the Fatman”?

Then there was the sumo wrestling “basho”, complete with a special new trophy, a 60-pound ‘President’s Cup’ trophy designed just for Trump to present to the tournament winner, Asanoyama.

Trump-sumo

Twins???

Trump-sumo-2

Trump-sumo-toonDinner was a lovely affair … wait!!!  We paid for Melania to go too???  I can’t afford a weekend trip to the Smokies and … Sheesh!

Trump-Abe-dinner

Presumably Trump and Abe managed to find some time to talk business, as Trump said …

“The prime minister and I talked lot today about trade and military and various other things. I think we had a very productive day.”

Your tax dollars hard at work.


On that note, I shall leave you with something to ruin your appetite so you don’t eat too much this holiday weekend …Trump-as-sumo

 

First Snarky Snippets of 2019!!!

Okay folks … the holidays are over!!!  Whew … now it’s time to get back into the routine, and what better way to start 2019 than with an abundance of snarkasm?  Perhaps I will make it a tradition to begin every year with Snarky Snippets! snarky-toon 2019 deserves to be started in such a manner, for just a few hours into the year and just look at all that is wrong with the world!  Let’s begin with a man who I have long abhorred … Representative Peter T. King, a republican from New York.


Just last week …

Peter-King-ICE

Now, I first take issue with his statement that ICE is doing a great job, since only two children have died!  ONLY???  What if one of those children had been your own, Mr. King???  But it goes even deeper than that, for also last week, video footage was obtained by The Arizona Republic from the Arizona Department of Health under the public records law.  The videos show children being physically abused – dragged, slapped, and shoved – by staffers at Casa Padre, a migrant shelter operated by Southwest Key. The videos are from September, and the facility was shuttered in October after a number of violations, including failure to obtain background checks on staff members.

Another such facility, Casa Kokopelli, also operated by Southwest Key, has been charged with eleven sex offenses by a staff member against at least eight children in their care.  ProPublica investigated Southwest Key and the sex offenses back in August, and when they asked Southwest Key representative Jeff Eller a question regarding how the company would assure children’s safety in the future, Mr. Eller replied …

“We find the premise of your question dishonorable.”

Say WHAT???  Who’s the dishonourable party here?  And Mr. King says they are all doing a great job because only two children have died so far.

bullshit

This is not the first time Mr. King has crossed my radar, by the way.  In May, I wrote a piece titled An Ugly Voice — Peter T. King.  I will be writing a letter to Mr. King later today.  Meanwhile, anyone want to lay odds that more children will die while held in U.S. custody in the coming year?


Without conscience …Hyde-SmithRemember Cindy Hyde-Smith, the racist woman who won a U.S. Senate seat in a special election in Mississippi in late November?  She said she would happily attend a lynching, and made a host of other racist remarks, yet Trump called her a “fine woman” … I guess he meant that in the same vein as when he called the white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, “fine people”.  Anyway, after her blatantly and sinister racist remarks, a number of people who had donated to her campaign asked for their contributions back, not wishing to be affiliated with such a horrid person.

Aetna, AT&T, Boston Scientific, Facebook, Google, Leidos, Pfizer, Union Pacific, and Walmart all requested their donations back, but Cindy has, apparently, decided she would keep the money.  Legally, she is under no obligation to return the money, and she seems to have no intention to do so.  Surprised, aren’t you?


How does he love thee?

Donald Trump claims to be on the side of the people … says he loves the people (just so long as they aren’t democrats, African-Americans, Muslims, or gay) and just to show them how much he loves them, he has … frozen their pay!  And some 800,000 of them aren’t getting any pay right now, either, thanks to Uncle Donnie!  I’m so happy that he doesn’t love me!

In what was, I hope, his last ‘executive order’ of 2018, with a slash of his pen he played god and froze the salaries & wages of some 2.1 million federal workers!  The military will still get their 2.6% pay increase (not the 10% Trump falsely told the soldiers in Iraq when he visited there at Christmas).  Civilian federal workers were initially slated to receive a 2.1% increase, but back in the summer, Trump began saying that the government could not afford it.  Funny, isn’t it, that we can afford all Trump’s excesses, covering Secret Service expenses for his sons as they flit about the world on Trump Organization business?  We can afford Trump’s near-weekly golf outings and trips to Mar-a-Lago, and he claims we can afford $5 billion to be thrown away on the beginnings of a useless border wall.  But we cannot afford a lousy 2.1% pay increase for the men and women who work to keep the federal government running smoothly.  Damn shame, if you ask me!

And what about last December’s tax cut for the wealthy?  If we could afford to give huge raises to multi-millionaires and billionaires, why can’t we afford to give measly 2.1% pay increases to the woman who helps us sign up for Social Security, or to the man who keeps our planes from crashing, or the person teaching our children?

Congress can and likely will include raises for federal workers in any spending bill they propose after the new Congress is seated in two days, but speculation is that it will be for 1.9%, not 2.1%.  Peanuts?  Sure, but hey … 0.2% of a $60,000 salary means a lot more to the federal worker than the extra million or more the rich coal barons got via Trump’s tax cuts.

I won’t be surprised to see a bad case of the ‘blue flu’ before long in the departments of the federal government.


Okay … that concludes this morning’s snippets.  I just felt the need to show those in power that the 2019 Filosofa is not any kinder or gentler than the 2018 Filosofa was, and I will pursue truth and justice this year even more diligently than last!  Look out, Trumpie … I’m in line right behind Bob Mueller for a pound of your flesh!

Mind-Numbing, Jaw-Dropping Moments …

Two things in yesterday’s news were “Say WHAT?” moments.  Mind-numbing, jaw-dropping … the things that make you want to go live somewhere inside the Arctic Circle and forget you ever heard of the United States.

Ugly Trump“One of the problems that a lot of people like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence but we’re not necessarily such believers. As to whether or not it’s man-made and whether or not the effects that you’re talking about are there, I don’t see it. You look at our air and our water and it’s right now at a record clean.” – Donald Trump in interview with The Washington Post on Tuesday, 26 November 2018

One of the problems I have with that statement is that I cannot decide whether it sends me into gales of laughter or fits of rage.  “High levels of intelligence”???  Even his most avid followers must surely be either shaking their heads or laughing hysterically at that one!  Intelligence is definitely not one of the words I would use to describe this pimple on the posterior of humanity!!!

People who are truly intelligent have no need to point it out to others.  People who are truly intelligent realize that there are some topics on which others may be more well-educated, and therefore they listen to the opinions of scientists, advisors, etc.  People who are truly intelligent do not act stupidly 99% of the time.  People who are truly intelligent read books.  I could go on and on in this vein, but I think you get the picture.  Trump is undoubtedly the least intelligent person to have been in the Oval Office in my 67 years at least.  And no, I don’t say that because I dislike him immensely.  I immensely dislike Vladimir Putin, but I consider him a fairly intelligent man.

The second problem I have with this statement is that the thing Trump was claiming to be “not necessarily” a believer in was man-made climate change and the need to work cooperatively toward cleaning up our planet.  That, in itself, is proof enough that he is not possessed of ‘high levels of intelligence’.pollution-2And, it goes without saying, the third problem I have with his statement is the lie that our air and water right now are “at a record clean”.  He removed regulations that prohibited coal companies from dumping sludge into creeks and streams, he has reversed other regulations that controlled the amount of CO2 industries could put into the atmosphere.  Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposed to weaken or roll back three key public health safeguards directly limiting particle pollution: the Clean Power Plan, clean car rules, and methane standards for the oil and gas industry. These safeguards also indirectly cut particle pollution by fighting climate change—which is fueling larger wildfires and unhealthier wildfire smoke.  Compared to China, our air and water may be relatively clean, but we are doing a lousy job keeping them that way, and in the last week or two, since the smoke from the California wildfires made its way across the nation to the East coast, people with asthma can tell the difference.

So no, there is nothing highly intelligent about either Mr. Trump or his statement of ignorance.  But since he disgusts me, let’s move on to Mississippi …


Hyde-SmithThis is the face of an extreme racist.  This is the woman who will be sitting in the U.S. Senate for the next two years, fulfilling the term of former Senator Thad Cochran, who resigned earlier this year due to illness.  This is the woman who has said she would like to sit in the front row at a lynching.

Yes, Cindy Hyde-Smith won the run-off election against democrat Mike Espy on Tuesday night.  For a brief time, when the returns first began rolling in, Espy was ahead by a slim margin, but with only 1% of the votes counted at that time, I was pretty sure I knew what came next.  When next I glanced over that way, she had a 9% lead and so it remained for the rest of the evening.

As Hugh reminded me not long ago, we must be careful about painting an entire group with the same brush, but I still contend that for this racist woman to win by 7.8%, or 68,585 votes, tells us some things about the majority of people in Mississippi.

The headline in the New York Times read …

In Electing Cindy Hyde-Smith, Mississippi Stays True to Its Conservative Roots

Okay, ‘conservative roots’ are one thing, but blatant, crude, cruel racism is quite another – it is dangerous.  Regarding her win, Ms. Hyde-Smith said …

“The reason we won is because Mississippians know me and they know my heart. This win tonight, this victory, it’s about our conservative values, it’s about the things that mean the most to all of us Mississippians: our faith, our family.”

Translation:  The reason she won is that she is anti-immigration, pro-white supremacy, and her “values” mirror those of at least 54% of the state.  How much of this is due to voter suppression methods, I do not know.  Either way, though, 479,278 people voted for her.  479,278 people voted against Civil Rights, against equality, against LGBT rights, against women’s rights, and more.  Way. To. Go. Mississippians.


On that note, I am going to bed.  Good night, folks.  😴 💤

Still More Snarky Snippets …

It has been snowing for 24 hours now, and yet there is no more than 1/4-inch on the ground.  How does that work?  Anyway, the last time I recall seeing more than just a brief glimpse of that big, bright ball that used to be in the sky was August, I think.  Cold and gloomy make me even more grumpy than usual, which makes today a good day for just a few snarky snippets.  snow-covered-house


Where’s da salad …

I was at the grocery, my local Kroger store, on Sunday evening, my usual time to buy groceries, and one of the things on my list was a bag of salad.  Guess what?  No salad.  None.  Nada.  Nunc.  Zip.  Zilch.  Nary a bag of salad to be found.  Why?No saladLast Tuesday, two days before Thanksgiving, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a food safety alert urging Americans to refrain from eating, and retailers from selling, any romaine lettuce.  Apparently, five people had died from an E. coli outbreak in June, and nearly two hundred people got sick.  In June.  This is November.  Okay, sigh, I bought a head of iceberg lettuce, some carrots and made my own damn salad … no biggie.  Except …

Every day in America, 96 people on average are killed by guns and hundreds more are injured.  We cannot buy romaine lettuce because … GASP … five people died, yet tens of thousands of people die from guns every year, and buying a gun is about as simple as walking into a Wal-Mart store and saying, “I’ll take that one … and 100 rounds of ammo, too.”  Does anybody see anything wrong with this picture?  Is lettuce really more dangerous than a gun?  No, but it is a hell of a lot easier to ban!


Sssssnakesssssssss in Mississippi …

You may remember my post from Sunday titled The Ugly Face of Racism, about the run-off election today in Mississippi for the Senate seat left vacant by Thad Cochran.    The republican candidate, Cindy Hyde-Smith has made multiple blatantly racist comments, and yet, the race is close.  Trump went to stump for her yesterday, which many believe will give her the winning edge. (Seriously???  Sheesh.) But this snippet isn’t about her, isn’t about whether she wins or loses, but instead is about the venomous monsters she unleashed.

Nooses and signs with messages about lynching were discovered on the grounds of the Mississippi State Capitol on Monday.  You’ll remember that Ms. Hyde-Smith said that she would be in the front row if invited to a lynching?  Well, apparently some took her at her word and are extending that invitation.Nooses.pngMs. Hyde-Smith currently holds about a 5-point lead over her African-American democratic opponent, Mike Espy.  After the bigoted insults she has hurled, she should be polling so low that she drops out. This, to me, says something about the people of Mississippi.


Prescience buried …

In April 2009, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in conjunction with the FBI, released a report  titled Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment. The report  warned that “rightwing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about several emergent issues.” It also predicted that the possibility of new gun restrictions and the return of “military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities” might mean “emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.” The report called this convergence of factors the “most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States.”

Are you scratching your head and wondering why you don’t remember hearing of this report?  It is because the report was quickly squelched after congressional republicans threw a temper tantrum.

Representative Lamar Smith of Texas said the administration was “awfully willing to paint law-abiding Americans, including war veterans, as ‘extremists.’”  Then-representative Steve Buyer of Indiana, the top Republican on the House Veterans’ Affairs committee at the time — called it “inconceivable” that some veterans could pose a threat.  But the final blow came from then-Speaker of the House, John Boehner, who issued a formal statement:

John-Boehner“To characterize men and women returning home after defending our country as potential terrorists is offensive and unacceptable.  The Department of Homeland Security owes our veterans an apology.

Furthermore, the Secretary of Homeland Security owes the American people an explanation for why she has abandoned using the term ‘terrorist’ to describe those, such as al Qaeda, who are plotting overseas to kill innocent Americans, while her own Department is using the same term to describe American citizens who disagree with the direction Washington Democrats are taking our nation.  Everyone agrees that the Department should be focused on protecting America, but using such broad-based generalizations about the American people is simply outrageous.”

Thus it came to be that the report was removed from the DHS website and never made public.

And now, perhaps it doesn’t seem so far-fetched.  Just last month, 13 people died in two incidents: A Kentucky gunman attempted to enter a historically black church, then shot and killed two black patrons in a nearby grocery store. And an anti-Semitic loner who had expressed anger about a caravan of Central American refugees that Trump termed an “invasion” has been charged with gunning down 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue, the deadliest act of anti-Semitic violence in U.S. history.

This month brought two more bodies: A military veteran who had railed online against women and blacks opened fire in a Tallahassee yoga studio, killing two women and wounding five. All told, researchers say at least 20 people have died this year in suspected right-wing attacks.

It is true that to a large extent Donald Trump must shoulder much of the blame for the aforementioned incidents, for his support of white ‘nationalism’ has opened the door for much of this.  And it is also true that even had the 2009 report been made public, it might not have made much difference.  But the very fact that the republicans, led by John Boehner, squelched the report that we now know contained predictive information, kept it from the public, is infuriating and perhaps some of those who were injured in Charlottesville, or killed in the synagogue in Pittsburgh, should lay the blame at the feet of Mr. Boehner.


And now, though I could go on for quite a bit longer, I must get busy.  I have a list of things that must get done today, the first one being to make a list!  Miss Goose’s birthday is tomorrow … she will be 24, but don’t tell her I told, for she is rather upset at being so “old”.