Life, Once Again, Goes On

My friends, we now have a President.  I began watching the ceremonies with some degree of trepidation, fearing another terrorist attack similar to the one two weeks ago, but as the program progressed, there was no sign of trouble or even mild dissent, and I began to relax a bit.  I realize that this is only the formal first step, and that Joe & Kamala have much work to do, but it feels as if fresh air has returned, as if I can breathe again.  My tears today were tears of relief, of peace.

It is time, now, to move forward, not to keep looking back at the past four horrifying years.  That’s not to say there won’t be times that it is necessary to look back, for much damage has been done and repairing it will also mean assessing it, but for the most part, I think we need to focus on President Biden’s actions.  Moving forward doesn’t mean we forget the past, but rather that we learn from it, we catalog the mistakes, assess their origins in order to ensure we don’t repeat the same mistakes ever again.

For four years, this nation has been steadily losing the respect of the rest of the world, and it will take time and effort to repair our alliances, to once again be respected in the eyes of the world.  For the past year, we have fought a deadly pandemic, with deaths in the U.S. alone totaling over 400,000 … fully 20% of the total deaths worldwide, though we have only 4% of the world’s population.  The overt racism and police brutality toward Black people is out of control.  Unemployment and poverty are at an all-time high, in part due to the pandemic.  And perhaps the most critical issue is that for four years we have completely disregarded the environment, have added more plastic and CO2 to the atmosphere than ever before.  All of these and more are things that President Biden will need to deal with rapidly, and I believe he will.

Solutions will not happen overnight, and our patience is likely to be sorely tested, but finally we have a President who understands the problems, will listen to the experts and the scientists, and will do his best to repair the damage, to protect not only the people of this nation, but of the world.  My hope is that rather than engage in partisanship and obstructionism, Congress will work with President Biden to help solve some of our many problems.  Members of Congress who fail to do so will earn themselves a place in my ‘snarky snippets’ hall of fame!

And so, we enter a new day in our ongoing history … a day filled with hope for the future, something we haven’t felt for a very long time.  When I awoke this morning, the sky was cloudy and grey, but sometime in the early afternoon, the sun came out and outside my window the birdies are eating the squirrel’s peanuts and the squirrels are eating the bird seed – and thus, life goes on!

Two Men Sans Conscience

I fully intended to do a Saturday Surprise post for this morning, knowing that we could all use a break from the news of the moment, but try as I might, I was not able to do one.  Sure, there were some funny cat pics, a few humorous stories, but … sorry, my friends, maybe next Saturday.  For today, I am just not able to switch gears.  I hope you’ll forgive me.


Guess what?  Yet another lie … a BIG one

Alex AzarSecretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, has handed in his resignation, claiming that, “The attacks on the Capitol were an assault on our democracy and on the tradition of peaceful transitions of power.”  However, lest you think Alex has suddenly found a conscience, he hasn’t … it’s a symbolic move only, for his resignation is effective at noon on January 20th, the moment of Joe Biden’s inauguration, at which time he would be out of a job anyway.  But there’s more here than just Alex Azar’s resignation, for he dropped a bombshell yesterday when, in an interview with NBC News, he said that the ‘stockpile’ of the coronavirus vaccine that Trump has promised exists, actually does not exist at all.

Funny that just three days prior, on Tuesday, Azar himself said that the federal government would begin releasing coronavirus vaccine doses that had been held in reserve for second shots.  There was no reserve.  Alex Azar knew there was no such reserve when he said that barefaced lie.  Is there any single member of the Trump administration who isn’t a consummate liar?  Was that one of the job requirements, that candidates must be able to tell whopper lies while keeping a straight face?  Or was there a ‘Trump School of Lying’ where they learned to emulate the Oaf in the Oval?

So, what does this revelation mean?  It means that states, believing the lie of the reserve, expanded the groups eligible to receive the first dose of the vaccine, and now … there is no second dose.  If it weren’t so damn tragic, you’d almost have to laugh at the name of the group responsible for distribution of the vaccine to the states:  Operation Warp Speed.  Warp speed, I thought, meant fast, but like everything else Trump and his cronies have touched, this has been a disaster from day #1, and far fewer people have received the vaccine than should have.  And now, we find they bungled the procurement and there are no second doses to be had.

Way to go, Trump, Kushner, Pence, Azar, and all the rest.  Obviously, our lives are naught more than pieces on a chessboard to you.


And speaking of idiots and the coronavirus …

Tommy Tuberville is a newly elected Senator from the state of Alabama.  Tommy is 66 years of age … most people would be using Tom or Thomas by now, but Tommy is a good ol’ boy and he likes to be called Tommy.

tommy-tuberville-2Now, ol’ Tommy took his seat in the United States Senate on January 3rd, and within days, he joined a group of Republican senators attempting to overturn Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election based on Trump’s outright lies of voter fraud.  Wouldn’t you think he’d try to learn his job before trying to overthrow the government???  And while most of the Republicans who planned to contest the election results in various states on January 6th backed off after the horrific attacks on the Capitol that evening by Trump supporting terrorists, not ol’ Tommy!  He stuck to his guns and contested the election results in both Arizona and Pennsylvania.  He showed us what he is made of – sawdust.

And yesterday, Tommy got himself in the news again.  I should think it would be a requirement that every single member of Congress should have read the U.S. Constitution at least once, for Pete’s sake!  On Friday, Tommy had been touring hospitals in Alabama … supposedly to get updates about the coronavirus, which he could have done from his office, but whatever.  After one of the tours, he gave an interview to an Alabama television station where he said that he thought the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris should be postponed until “a little later on after we got this virus behind us a little bit.”

Say WHAT???  First of all, MR. TUBERVILLE … the United States Constitution, a document that you obviously have NOT read, directs the exact time and date of the inauguration:  noon on the 20th day of January.  Second, MR. TUBERVILLE … Donald Trump has bungled the federal response to the virus so badly that half of our population may be dead by the time the virus is “behind us”!  For the past year, Trump and his cohorts have not done a single damn thing to stem the surge of this virus, and as a result the U.S. has the highest number of cases and the highest death rate on the planet, despite the fact that we have only about 4% of the world’s population!  Donald Trump has no plan, has never had a plan to either control the virus or to distribute the vaccine.  Furthermore … he has begged people to risk their lives by not wearing masks … he has called the pandemic a hoax, has lied so much that nobody even listens to him anymore!  Joe Biden has a plan to help stem the surge and to distribute the vaccine.  He HAS A PLAN, which is far more than Donald Trump has ever had!  Why in hell would you want to delay inaugurating Joe Biden … are you really so stupid?

I honestly believe we need to amend the U.S. Constitution to say that every person elected to or appointed to a federal office MUST pass a test on the U.S. Constitution.  The entire document, including amendments, is just over 8,000 words.  I have read it more times than I can count, and I still have to consult it on occasion to answer a question.  Consider this … an immigrant applying for citizenship to this country knows more about the document that is the foundation of our government than half of our elected representatives, and that includes the ‘man’ who has been calling himself ‘president’ for the last four years!


Since I wasn’t able to give you a nice humorous Saturday Surprise post, I do have a few ‘toons for you that I nabbed from our friend Scottie’s post yesterday

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A Peek Into Trump’s Future

Given that I have a serious case of mind bounce today, I have not been able to focus on any one thing for more than 20 seconds, so instead I will share with you Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin’s view of what Trump’s life may be like after he leaves the White House next week.  I take some satisfaction in knowing that it won’t be any bed of roses for him, and knowing that he brought it on himself with no help from anybody else.


Trump’s future looks rotten

Jennifer-RubinOpinion by 

Jennifer Rubin

Columnist

Jan. 14, 2021 at 9:45 a.m. EST

President Trump faces a horrid future. He is the first U.S. president in history to be impeached twice; he lost the popular vote twice; he lost both the House and Senate for his party; and more than 383,000 Americans have died from covid-19 on his watch. He has clearly sewn up the title of “worst president ever.” If found guilty by a soon-to-be Democratic-controlled Senate, he will be unable to run for office again and may lose his post-presidential benefits (e.g., salary, travel allowance). But that is far from his biggest worry.

Trump may be sued civilly or charged criminally for tax avoidance or other financial crimes that state prosecutors in New York are investigating. Depending on the charges, he could face significant fines or even imprisonment. (Trump has maintained that he has done nothing improper.)

Speaking of finances, Trump reportedly has more than $400 million in loans coming due. However, his banks are cutting ties. Deutsche Bank, which holds about $340 million of the debt, and Signature Bank do not want to do business with him. It is far from clear what lender is going to take him on as a client. He might need help from his overseas authoritarian friends.

Trump may also face a federal criminal investigation for seeking to change election results in Georgia during two phone calls with state election officials — one of which was recorded. In addition to potential federal crimes for election offenses, prosecutors will need to look at whether his vague threat of criminal liability in his call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger qualified as extortion.

That was all before we got to his Jan. 6 activities. Federal investigators and the U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., as well as senior Justice Department officials will need to determine whether there is a basis to charge Trump with incitement to riot or conspiracy to commit sedition. They will look not simply at Trump’s remarks that day, but also his tweet calling for “wild” protests in the capital, his rhetoric after the election and his conduct during the siege, when he failed to issue a clear, unequivocal directive for his people to stand down. (That the president managed to issue a statement on the day of his second impeachment proactively calling for “NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind” makes his hours-long silence on Jan. 6 look even worse.)

Beyond criminal liability, Trump could surely be sued by the relatives of those killed or injured in the siege, or to cover the costs incurred to repair damage. He cannot be sued for “official conduct,” but leading a riot to overturn an election will be difficult to slot into the category of “official duties,” to put it mildly. It was a continuation of his campaign intended to give him a second term, not to effectuate any policy or interest during his existing term.

Even on the slim chance that Trump is never charged with any crime and manages to escape all civil liability, he will be deeply in debt (his original debt plus any costs to defend himself in court). He will also be a social and business pariah, banned from social media and unwelcome in most democratic countries. It is not clear how many people are going to pay to belong to a seditionist’s Mar-a-Lago Club or stay at any of his properties.

One can surely understand why the prospect of losing was so terrifying for him — aside from the humiliation. Quite simply, he faces a miserable post-presidency.

And In Other News — There’s A Pandemic!

In light of the storming of the Capitol by white supremacist terrorists one week ago today, much of the rest of the news has fallen by the wayside, not even seen by many.  For instance, on Saturday an Indonesian jetliner, a Boeing 737, crashed into the Java Sea shortly after takeoff on Saturday with 62 people aboard, all presumed dead.  Typically, this would have been headline news for several days, but in the U.S., it was barely a blip. 

One of the things that has dominated the news for nearly a year now is the coronavirus pandemic, yet for the past week it has received far less attention than the Capitol attack and Donald Trump’s role in it. Yesterday the U.S. recorded 4,281 deaths for the 24-hour period, yet we barely batted an eye.  This morning’s email contained my usual daily briefing by David Leonhardt of the New York Times with an update on the pandemic that I thought well worth sharing.


‘A game changer’

david-leonhardtLast week’s attack on the Capitol has understandably dominated the news. But I want to take a few minutes this morning to focus on the other vital story right now — the pandemic.

Below is a three-point summary of where we are now, with help from my colleagues covering the story and from a couple of charts. I’ll warn you up front: The situation is not good.

  1. The new variants are scary. Scientists are still learning about new versions of the coronavirus, including variants that emerged in Britain, South Africa and Brazil. The evidence so far indicates that they “are much more infectious than the Italian strain, which has been circulating here since February,” my colleague Donald G. McNeil Jr. told me. “That’s a game changer.”

Behavior that may once have been only moderately risky — say, airplane travel — may now be more so. The variants seem to be one reason cases worldwide are spiking:

pandemic-chart-1

  1. The mass vaccination campaign in the U.S. is off to a terrible start. The Trump administration promised that 20 million Americans would be vaccinated by Jan. 1. Instead, fewer than three million were — and only about nine million have now had their shots.

The Deep South has the country’s lowest vaccination rates. But this isn’t just a Republican failure: California, Virginia and some other Democratic-run states have also been slow. (Here’s data for every state.)

Vaccinations will probably accelerate in coming weeks, especially because President-elect Joe Biden and his team seem much more focused on the problem than President Trump. Goldman Sachs forecasts that about one quarter of Americans will have received their first shot by April 1, half by June 1 and three quarters by mid-autumn. The coming vaccination speedup is the one good piece of good news right now.

  1. Things are likely to get worse before they get better. The virus is spreading so rapidly that hospitals are struggling to keep up. About 130,000 Americans are hospitalized with Covid symptoms, more than double the number two months ago. The strain on hospitals raises the possibility that many patients will not receive the best available treatments.

Los Angeles has recently had to ration oxygen. And Esteban Trejo, an executive at a company in El Paso, Texas, that provides oxygen to temporary hospitals, told Kaiser Health News, “It’s been nuts, absolutely nuts.”

The recent data on cases and deaths is noisy, because diagnoses artificially slowed during the holidays, says Mitch Smith, a Times reporter who follows the numbers. Still, deaths have already hit a record this week — more than 3,000 a day, on average — and the recent explosion of cases suggests they may be heading to above 3,500 and perhaps to 4,000.

pandemic-chart-2

The bottom line: Biden will be taking office next week during the nadir of the coronavirus crisis. His administration will need to both accelerate vaccine distribution and persuade more people to change their behavior — and the second goal is even more urgent than the first.

Unless Americans start wearing masks more often and spending less time together in cramped spaces, many more people are going to die.

MOVING ON.

Sometimes we see other people’s problems more clearly than they are able to see them. About half of my readers are from outside the U.S. and it’s always interesting to get their perspective on what is happening here in the U.S. My special friend David, sickened by the events of last Wednesday at the Capitol in D.C., has written his take on our current situation, and in my book he is spot on. Thank you, David, both for this post and your (implied) permission to share!

The BUTHIDARS

It’s been just a week since one of the most sickening events in American History, some say since my lot were over there kicking ass before having our collective asses kicked. Whenever it was, and whatever it was are irrelevant as nothing in recent history compares to this. It was a definite attempt at a coup and there’s no denying that had the insurrectionists managed to get their filthy hands on certain people like Nancy Pelosi or Mike Pence there may well have been executions.

Mike Pence - Wikipedia

Whilst I don’t care for Mike Pence I think it ridiculous that he’s being targeted by Trumpites for letting Trump down. Firstly he obeyed the vow he’d made to the country-not to Trump- and secondly he did not have the power to do as he was asked anyway. What does leave me with a sour taste in my mouth and the obvious question, is why…

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REBIRTH OF A NATION?

Like it or not, the U.S. has a place in the global community, and as such, what happens here affects our friends and neighbours all ’round the globe. Here is an assessment … a spot-on one, as it happens … from our friend David in the UK. Thank you David, for your thoughts on our disastrous day, your hopes for our future, and for caring.

The BUTHIDARS

Yesterday, January 6th 2021 will be a day long remembered in the history books. I saw something I never thought to witness outside of a Banana Republic. A Western Nation go to war with itself. There was armed insurrection in the Capital and the home of Democracy in America , The Capitol Building, was attacked by armed civilians carrying every type of weapon. These people had not gone to demand a more Democratic State, they had gone to destroy Democracy itself.

People were forewarned of such an event and it surprised me that there wasn’t a stronger defence of he building though it seems likely that there may have been some collusion between these insurrectionists and members of the current ruling party. The President who has made an almost single handed assault on Government during the last four years, and who has done little to earn his salary for the…

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The Week’s Best Cartoons: Hello 2021!

I find myself unable to write a post this afternoon.  The nightmares that have plagued both my sleep and waking hours have left me in a dark mood, down a rabbit hole, and anything I would write today would not be worth reading.  So, I turn instead to that lady who, every week, scours the political cartoons to pick the best for our viewing pleasure, TokyoSand!  Thanks once again, TS, for this terrific selection!


Just like we were, editorial cartoonists were pretty focused on saying goodbye to 2020 and welcoming 2021. Here are my favorite cartoons from this past week.

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See All The ‘Toons!

Second Verse, Same As The First …

It may be a new year, but frankly it feels the same as the old one did, with threats of violence planned by fools and idiots who call themselves the “Proud Boys”, a Republican-run Senate voting against helping the people who need it most, and a few jerks in Congress attempting to declare the United States to be a dictatorship by cancelling the votes of 81 million people to keep a mentally deranged madman in the Oval Office.  Yep, folks … it’s true what they say … the more things change, the more they stay the same.


Moscow Mitch strikes again …

The House of Representatives approved raising the individual stimulus amount from $600 to $2,000.  There are people in this country who cannot pay their bills, cannot afford to buy food for their family, or to see a doctor when needed, and Congress has already wasted months playing games, so it’s time to move on this.  So, the House passes the addendum, sends it to the Senate, and what happens?  It shouldn’t surprise anybody that Mitch McConnell is holding it up, likely to burn it or rip it to shreds today or tomorrow.  Why?

Mitch McConnell claims that $2,000 checks are “socialism for the rich.”  Tell that to the mother of three who lost her job due to the pandemic and is struggling every day to keep her children fed!  I have had just about enough of Mitch McConnell and I must question the intelligence of those who elected him yet again two months ago.  Damn you, Mitch McConnell … you’ve never known a day when you had to choose between paying the electric bill or buying food … you’ve always been an overweight priviledged white male of means.  Don’t you dare call a lousy $2,000 stimulus check ‘socialism’.  You apparently lack any understanding whatsoever of what ‘Socialism’ even is!

Now, if we really want to talk about ‘socialism for the rich’, let’s look for a minute at some of the tax rebate checks that were issued under Trump’s tax plan:

Amazon: $129 million

Delta: $187 million

Chevron: $181 million

GM: $104 million

IBM: $342 million

That’s socialism for the rich!  Oh, and one other example:  Mitch McConnell with an estimated net worth of $22.8 million, takes taxpayer money in the form of a base salary of $193,400, not including perks such as travel and meals.  Talk about socialism for the rich!!!  This nation does not need people like Mitch McConnell making decisions that rule our lives, and in many cases may cost us our lives.


Retaliation or fabrication?

Sunday, January 3rd is the one-year anniversary of the murder of Iranian General Qassem Suleimani by a U.S. drone strike.  Logic tells us that if Iran intended to seek revenge beyond what they did last year, they would have already done it.  But those of us who are able to see the logic here are not sitting in the Oval Office.  The person who does sit in that office claims he expects Iran to seek revenge on that one-year anniversary of the murder.  Certainly, they would be well within their rights to do so, but the Iranian leadership is not quite as stupid as our own, and almost certainly have no such plan.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, on Thursday accused Donald Trump of attempting to fabricate a pretext to attack Iran, and said Tehran would defend itself forcefully.

“Instead of fighting Covid in US, @realDonaldTrump & cohorts waste billions to fly B52s & send armadas to OUR region. Intelligence from Iraq indicate plot to FABRICATE pretext for war. Iran doesn’t seek war but will OPENLY & DIRECTLY defend its people, security & vital interests.”

Under ordinary circumstances, I would accept the word of the president that there was some plot afoot, but … people, we haven’t had ordinary circumstances in nearly four years now, and we all know that Trump is not above lying through his teeth for the sake of his own self-interest.  And what, you ask, could he possibly gain from taking the nation to the brink of war with Iran?  Nothing, but he is leaving no stone unturned in his efforts to remain in office.  If he were to declare a state of emergency and implement martial law …

Think about that one.


And speaking of which …

I was pleased yesterday to read that Mike Pence asked a judge to reject the lawsuit filed earlier this week by Louie Gohmert and others that aims to expand Pence’s power to use a congressional ceremony to overturn the presidential election, arguing that he is not the right person to sue over the issue.  I would have preferred hearing him say that it was not the right thing to do, period, that President-elect Joe Biden is the next president of the United States, but hey … I’ll take what I can get, which is little enough these days.

More than a few times in recent days, I have seen Republicans say “74 million American votes matter”.  Sure, every vote matters, but the bottom line is that while 74 million people, and I use the term loosely, voted for Trump, 81 million voted for Biden.  Biden won, Trump lost … what the Sam Hell is so difficult about that concept?

So, on Wednesday, January 6th, Congress convenes to certify the Electoral College votes, 306 of which are for Joe Biden as compared to the 232 for Donald Trump.  At least one Senator, Josh Hawley of Missouri, and several Representatives (again, I use the term loosely, for they sure as hell don’t represent We the People) plan to contest the results, ensuring that there will be further delays and more of the ulcer-inducing chaos we have been subjected to for months now.  Joe Biden will be certified by Congress, of that I am 99.8% certain.  However …

Also, on Wednesday, January 6th, at least four large rallies have been planned by those who would see the election overturned in one way or another.  The events will be headlined by Trump’s most ardent supporters, including recently pardoned George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during its Russia investigation, and longtime ally Roger Stone, whose sentence for seeking to impede a congressional probe into Russian election interference was commuted by Trump in July before being upgraded to a full pardon.

Formal rallies are planned most of the day and will draw pro-Trump demonstrators to the Washington Monument, Freedom Plaza and the Capitol. But online forums and encrypted chat messages among far-right groups indicate a number of demonstrators might be planning more than chanting and waving signs.

Threats of violence, ploys to smuggle guns into the District and calls to set up an “armed encampment” on the Mall have proliferated in online chats about the January 6 day of protest. The Proud Boys, members of armed right-wing groups, conspiracy theorists and white supremacists have pledged to attend.

Trump, meanwhile, has continued to issue calls to supporters to converge on D.C. “JANUARY SIXTH, SEE YOU IN DC!” he tweeted Wednesday.  My friends … this is not how this nation behaves.  This is the most juvenile, abominable behaviour and surely even his supporters cannot support this madness.  WHY do we have to put up with this?  First, he drags this nation down in the eyes of the world, then he bungles the response to a pandemic so badly that we have the world’s highest death rate … nearly a half-million people in this nation have died from the coronavirus.  And now this.  It’s time for it to end.  January 20th cannot come soon enough, and frankly I think he needs to be removed from office immediately in order to ensure the safety of this nation.


Welcome to 2021, the continuation of 2020.

The Bright Spots in 2020: Yes, There Were Some

The year 2020 will likely go down as one of the worst in the history of the United States, however … there were bright spots!  Our friend TokyoSand has spent hours and hours digging for the best stories from the past year, and she has done one fantastic job of it!  Please take a few minutes to read her wonderful post, reminding us that all was not lost in this year of the pandemic.


year-in-review

We are very close to putting 2020 behind us, but before we do, let’s take one last look back. Now if you’re thinking this is going to be a dreary look at everything that went wrong, you would be wrong. This list is all about the bright spots of light that appeared throughout the year, including some entries I received from my Twitter friends, plus a handful of editorial cartoons I liked. Let’s take a look:

January

The Supreme Court affirmed that cities may not criminalize conduct that is an unavoidable consequence of experiencing homelessness.

When Trump authorized the killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani (which he may not have had the legal authority to do), anti-war protests were held in over 70 cities and calls from activists poured into Congress. Politicians from both parties, notably in the Senate, pushed back against the administration and passed a resolution to limit Trump’s war powers.

Read TokyoSand’s entire post!

The Week’s Best Cartoons: Holiday Edition

Today I am remarkably uninspired to write a post.  Post-holiday exhaustion, or political overload — I don’t know which.  So, since I haven’t yet shared with you TokyoSand’s latest cartoon post, I shall do so this afternoon!  Thank you, TS, for doing such a great job of picking out the best holiday-themed political cartoons!

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View the rest of the ‘toons!