Game Over? I Think NOT, Donnie Boy!

The republicans are, once again, dancing in the streets and pouring champagne over each other’s heads.  Party hearty, republican friends, but guess what?  The game isn’t over, but has just begun.  The redacted report that we were given is only part of the story, but even that part is proof that Trump & Co are guilty of having conspired with Russian agents to rig the election in 2016 and put Trump in office.  What more there is, will eventually be discovered.  But … republicans?  Let me ask you a question.  Why, if Trump had nothing to hide and was guilty of naught, did he make this statement when apprised of the hiring of Special Counsel Robert Mueller …

“Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked.”

And then he proceeded to berate the bearer of the news, then-Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. Why, guys?  Doesn’t that sound like the voice of a guilty man?  Sure does to me.

Now on to the present.  Yesterday morning, as I noted in my snarky snippets yesterday, Attorney General William Barr felt it prudent to give us his version of the Mueller report.  Unnecessary and unwanted, but here are a few of the proven lies he told in that event:

  • … We now know that the Russian operatives who perpetrated these schemes did not have the cooperation of President Trump or the Trump campaign – or the knowing assistance of any other Americans for that matter.
  • … The Special Counsel’s report did not find that any person associated with the Trump campaign illegally participated in the dissemination of the materials.
  • … The White House fully cooperated with the Special Counsel’s investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, directing senior aides to testify freely, and asserting no privilege claims. (This one damn near caused me to choke to death!)

Even Fox News’ own Chris Wallace criticized Barr, saying …

“The attorney general seemed almost to be acting as the counselor for the defense, the counselor for the president, rather than the attorney general, talking about his motives, his emotions.”

Let us consider, for a moment, that even if Mueller’s investigation did not turn up indictable criminal activity on the part of Trump, it damn sure did turn up improper behaviour, especially toward the investigation itself.  According to the Associated Press …

Donald Trump tried to seize control of the Russia probe and force Mueller’s removal to stop him from investigating potential obstruction of justice by the president. Trump was largely thwarted by those around him.

Mueller laid out multiple episodes in which Trump directed others to influence or curtail the Russia investigation after the special counsel’s appointment in May 2017. Those efforts “were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests,” Mueller wrote.

I ask you … is this the ‘man’ you want to lead this nation?  Seriously?

Jerry Nadler, Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary, has appropriately determined that the committee needs to hear directly from Mr. Mueller, and as such sent him this letter …Nadler-letter-Mueller

This should make for some real interesting conversations in the White House.

Of course, the republicans are reading into the report what they wish to see … or more likely, are simply accepting Barr’s version, for that is what they want to believe.  Take the blinders off now, people … time to wake up from that little nappie.

“The report is one-sided, it has an incredible standard of proof. It’s that ‘we couldn’t be convinced that he didn’t obstruct justice,’. Can you prove that he did? That answer is, no they can’t. That is like a cheap shot, but if they can’t prove it, why don’t they just regurgitate all the garbage that they have? It’s all one-sided, a lot of it not true, a lot of it exaggerated. Even if it’s all true, which it isn’t, he didn’t commit a crime. He didn’t do anything wrong.” – Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is preparing a rebuttal to the Mueller report

I liked what Jim Wright had to say, and I fully concur at this point …

Impeach Trump.

There is more than enough reason to begin impeachment proceedings. We impeached both Nixon and Clinton for far less than is in the Mueller Report.

So, impeach Trump.

Impeach him in the House. Take up the investigation, one he CANNOT stop or obstruct or redact, one his pet Attorney General and his cronies cannot impede, one that Trump himself has NO control over whatsoever, and impeach him if that’s where the evidence leads.

THEN if the Senate refuses to convict, if Mitch McConnell refuses to take up the impeachment, refuses his duty and the Senate stands by him, hang it around their dirty cowardly necks like a fucking albatross.

Make them own it in 2020. Make them own it forever.

Surely, if they can read, even the republicans in Congress must now agree that Donald Trump has committed, if not indictable crimes, certainly impeachable offenses.  He does not operate in the best interest of this nation.  He is a president in name only.  Game over, Mr. Trump?  Far from it.

Filosofa Reflects …

The majority of the people in the United States have no president.  Only about 40% of the people in the U.S. are represented by a president.  Now, I do not make this statement lightly, nor with the intention of being offensive.  I am merely stating a fact.  I am not registered with either party, but consider myself an independent, although I am considering changing that status in the near future.  I have lived through 12 full presidencies, from Harry S. Truman through Barack H. Obama … 6 were republicans, 6 were democrats.  Although I sometimes disagreed with the policies or certain decisions of those men, I still respected them and considered them as presidents. Every one of them, I felt, was doing the best he could to represent the people of this nation … ALL the people of this nation, not just those who praised them.

Today, however, is different.  Donald Trump is the president in name only for the majority – about 60% – of the people in this country but does not represent them.  He does not listen to us, but only to the people who show up at his campaign rallies wearing red hats and chanting “Lock her up”.  Those of us who do not like his bigotry, his racism, his incitement to violence, his name-calling and ignominious bluster, he calls ‘treasonous’.  He threatens our elected representatives in Congress.  He tells lies that his own supporters enjoy hearing, but that the rest of us know to be falsehoods.

To the best of my knowledge, there has never been another president so entrenched in partisanship that he completely ignored the needs of the majority, pandering only to the minority.  We, the majority, need representation also.  Who is there to speak for us?  Who is there to represent our values of diversity, peace, humanitarianism?  Who is there to say that no, we do not want to lock children in cages just because they are from another place?  It is truly a sad day in the history of this nation, a nation no better and no worse than any other, when most of the people are without a voice.

People in Trump’s camp mock the saying “Not my president”, but it isn’t just a saying, it is the reality.  Donald Trump does not bother with the pretense. He is speaking to his people, not the people. He has become, or so it often seems, the president of the United Base of America.

I have long believed that old adage, “United we stand, divided we fall”, and yet Trump seeks to divide, relishes the division that, while not of his making, he has encouraged and enhanced with his divide-and-conquer politics.  Perhaps we are coming upon a time where this nation must become many instead of just one, for we are now so far apart in ideology that I cannot see a united nation in the future.  On the right, there are the nationalists, tribalists, who prefer a nation sans immigrants, a nation where it’s basically “every man for himself” rather than a nation where all people are equal.

I see a nation where those in Trump’s camp care more about their guns than their own children.  I see a nation where ‘hate’ is becoming the norm.  I see a nation where violence is seething just under the surface, waiting for a single spark to set it off.  I see a nation where for far too many, acceptance of others is based on skin colour, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.  I see a nation where profits are valued more highly than humans.  I see a nation where for some, there is no care for the future, but it’s “live for today, and to hell with tomorrow”.

I don’t like the nation I see.  We need a president.  We need a president who governs, not rules – there is a difference.  We need … nay, we must have a president who is not above the law. We need a president where every single person matters, not just those who support him, not just those whose skin is white, not just Christians, and even not just citizens, but everybody.  We need a president who understands the word ‘respect’. People matter.

I want change in this country.  I want us to heal the rifts, and that cannot, will not happen as long as Donald Trump sits in the Oval Office spouting hate and encouraging bigotry, tribalism and violence.  We need to focus more on what we have in common than those issues that divide us.  We need to talk to each other, not at each other.  We need to meet each other halfway sometimes.  We need to take care of our planet, putting the future ahead of corporate greed.  These things cannot happen under the regime of Donald Trump, for he will do everything in his power to keep it from happening, to keep us divided and hating.

Think about it.

How Mitch McConnell Killed The Senate

On occasion, I share with you the work of Robert Reich.  Mr. Reich has served under three U.S. presidents of both parties and is a wise man who sees things as they are and isn’t afraid to call a spade a spade.  In the following essay, he analyzes the ways in which McConnell is changing not only the Senate, but the whole of the U.S. system.  I think his words are worth sharing …

 

Robert Reich-4How Mitch McConnell Killed The Senate

by Robert Reich

Congress has recessed for two weeks without passing a desperately-needed disaster relief bill. Why not? Because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t want to anger Donald Trump by adding money for Puerto Rico that Democrats have sought but Trump doesn’t want.

America used to have a Senate. But under McConnell, what was once known as the world’s greatest deliberative body has become a partisan lap dog.

Recently McConnell used his Republican majority to cut the time for debating Trump’s court appointees from 30 hours to two – thereby enabling Republicans to ram through even more Trump judges.

In truth, McConnell doesn’t give a fig about the Senate, or about democracy. He cares only about partisan wins.

On the eve of the 2010 midterm elections he famously declared that his top priority was for Barack Obama “to be a one-term president.”

Between 2009 and 2013, McConnell’s Senate Republicans blocked 79 Obama nominees. In the entire history of the United States until that point, only 68 presidential nominees had been blocked.

This unprecedented use of the filibuster finally led Senate Democrats in 2013 to change the rules on some presidential nominees (but not the Supreme Court) to require simple majorities.

In response, McConnell fumed that “breaking the rules to change the rules is un-American.” If so, McConnell is about as un-American as they come. Once back in control of the Senate he buried Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court by refusing even to hold hearings.

Then, in 2017, McConnell and his Republicans changed the rules again, ending the use of the filibuster even for Supreme Court nominees and clearing the way for Senate confirmation of Trump’s Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

Step by step, McConnell has sacrificed the Senate as an institution to partisan political victories.

There is a vast difference between winning at politics by playing according to the norms of our democracy, and winning by subverting those norms.

To Abraham Lincoln, democracy was a covenant linking past and future. Political institutions, in his view, were “the legacy bequeathed to us.”

On the eve of the Senate’s final vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act in July 2017, the late John McCain returned to Washington from his home in Arizona, where he was being treated for brain cancer, to cast the deciding vote against repeal.

Knowing he would be criticized by other Republicans, McCain noted that over his career he had known senators who seriously disagreed with each other but nonetheless understood “they had an obligation to work collaboratively to ensure the Senate discharged its constitutional responsibilities effectively.”

In words that have even greater relevance today, McCain added that “it is our responsibility to preserve that, even when it requires us to do something less satisfying than ‘winning’.”

In politics, success should never be measured solely by partisan victories. It must also be judged by the institutional legacy passed onward. The purpose of political leadership is not merely to win. It is to serve.

In any social or political system it’s always possible to extract benefits by being among the first to break widely accepted norms. In a small town where people don’t lock their doors or windows, the first thief can effortlessly get into anyone’s house. But once broken, the system is never the same. Everyone has to buy locks. Trust deteriorates.

Those, like Mitch McConnell, who break institutional norms for selfish or partisan gains are bequeathing future generations a weakened democracy.

The difference between winning at politics by playing according to the norms and rules of our democracy, and winning by subverting them, could not be greater. Political victories that undermine the integrity of our system are net losses for society.

Great athletes play by the rules because the rules make the game. Unprincipled athletes cheat or change the rules in order to win. Their victories ultimately destroy the game.

In terms of shaping the federal courts, McConnell has played “the long game”, which, incidentally, is the title of his 2016 memoir. Decades from now, McConnell will still be shaping the nation through judges he rammed through the Senate.

But McConnell’s long game is destroying the Senate.

He is longest-serving leader of Senate Republicans in history but Mitch McConnell is no leader. He is the epitome of unprincipled power. History will not treat him kindly.

HELP!!! — Part I

People who are not consumed by greed or blinded by Trumpism understand that the human race is racing toward self-extinction as a result of careless lifestyle habits in the industrial age.  It isn’t just one single thing, but a conglomeration of many things, the extraction and burning of fossil fuels, increasing use of plastics, increased consumption of beef and pork, overpopulation, far too many vehicles on the roadways, and more.  Credible climate science tells us that we have a very narrow window of time to take major steps to control and reverse the damage being done to the atmosphere.  And yet, while many countries are heeding the call, the United States is not, as a nation, taking the warnings seriously.

Point in case is this headline from ThinkProgress:

Republicans push anti-wind bills in several states as renewables grow increasingly popular

In regions like the South, the potential for renewable energy abounds. That isn’t going over well with fossil fuel interests.

Data shows that renewable alternatives to energy sources like coal are increasingly cheaper, in addition to helping offset greenhouse gas emissions. But as they continue to gain prominence, power sources like wind are becoming a popular target for those with a vested interest in fossil fuels. Now, opponents are using everything from national security arguments to targeting tax incentives in order to hobble wind power.

North Carolina is one of several states in which lawmakers are pushing new proposals to undercut wind energy. State Senator Harry Brown has proposed Senate Bill 377, the ‘Military Base Protection Act’, that posits that wind farms pose a national security risk and would essentially outlaw wind farms built on land within 100 miles of the state’s coast.

North Carolina’s Amazon Wind Farm, the first large-scale wind farm in the state, went through years of review and permitting studies, in addition to coordinating with the U.S. Navy and Department of Defense. Proponents of renewable energy say arguments about national security are just another way for fossil fuel interests to dissuade potential wind and solar investments in the state.

Folks, I don’t care if you’re republican or democrat, Christian, Jew or atheist, you are a member of the human race, and as such ought to care a bit more than this about our home.  Members of Congress, state legislatures, and voters need to wake the heck up!  CEOs of fossil fuel interests need to take their heads out of their patooties and realize that all that lovely money they are making isn’t going to do them a damn bit of good when they’re dead!  And dead is where they, their children, and their children’s children are going to be before the end of this century if this greed and ignorance continues!

An environmental firm, Energy Innovation in partnership with the grid analysis company Vibrant Clean Energy, issued a report on March 24th.  Their findings …

America has officially entered the “coal cost crossover” – where existing coal is increasingly more expensive than cleaner alternatives.  Today, local wind and solar could replace approximately 74 percent of the U.S. coal fleet at an immediate savings to customers. By 2025, this number grows to 86 percent of the coal fleet.

There is no longer any justification for the fight against renewable energy, and yet corporate greed and politicians in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry are trying to keep this nation from moving ahead.  Trump has claimed that there was a “war on coal” and that he is ending it, even calling for a bail-out of the coal industry.  There is no “war on coal”, but there is a battle to save the human race from extinction – a near certainty if we do not act soon.

Take Iceland, for example.  They are the country that generates the most clean electricity per capita on earth, with almost 100% of its energy coming from renewable sources.  Sweden, Costa Rica, United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark … the list goes on of countries that are taking climate change effects seriously and being proactive in the fight to save lives, to save the planet.  The United States does not even come close.  There are states, cities and even some companies that are doing their part, but the effort needs to be wide-scale, it needs to start at the federal level.

I wish to leave you with something to think about.  Look ahead just a few years.  Many countries will have, through great effort and planning, ceased drilling, mining, or using fossil fuels, but instead will be relying 100% on renewable energy sources.  They will have become carbon-neutral, have stopped using single-use plastics, and found innovative ways to clean up the air and coastlines.  The United States may be the only nation that is doing … nothing.  Now, our pollution doesn’t just affect us, but affects the entire globe.  If you were, say, Germany or the United Kingdom, how would you feel about this?

fat-baronI can foresee a time when the European Union joins with other nations to offer an ultimatum to the United States that, if ignored, could lead to all-out war.  I wonder if the fat coal and oil barons will still think their profits are so all-important?  Frankly, if they were smart men, they would have seen this coming long ago and began investing their resources into renewables, phasing out the coal mines and oil fields.  But they are not intelligent beings, only greedy ones.  And they don’t give a rat’s you-know-what about you or me, or even their own grandchildren.

It’s time to get serious about this, folks … matter of fact, it’s way past time.  Stay tuned, for I am not finished!solar-energy

Small & Feeble Minds …

I live in a community that is probably 35% refugees from Middle-Eastern countries.  Our neighbors to the right are refugees from first Iraq, then Syria and have become our closest friends.  We share meals and holidays, share our cultures, laughter and love.  In the days following 9/11, another Iraqi family down the street whose daughters were friends with Miss Goose came to our door asking if there was anything they could do for us and saying how very sorry they were for what had happened.  I was so touched.  The police had to place patrols in the parking lot of the local mosque 24/7, for the Muslim community began receiving threats.  It was a tough time for us all … including our Muslim brothers and sisters.

We’ve come a long way since September 11, 2001.  Or have we?  Last November, the people of this nation elected three Muslim women to the U.S. House of Representatives, which would seem to indicate that we are moving … have moved … past the bigotry and Islamophobia that seemed in some ways to define the days and weeks after 9/11.  However, at least one person in this nation seems to have a problem with those women, one in particular.  The person I refer to is Donald Trump, and the newly-elected representative is Ilhan Omar, a representative from the state of Minnesota.Ilhan-Omar-Time-magIt all started back in February when Ms. Omar made a comment criticizing Israel’s occupation of Palestine.  House Minority Leader and member of the House Freedom Caucus, Kevin McCarthy, jumped all over her comment, saying it was even worse than Representative Steve King’s support of white supremacy.  He claimed her comment was ‘anti-Semitic’ (it was not), and rallied the forces of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) to condemn Ms. Omar.  What happened next was a series of back-and-forth that isn’t worth the time and space to relate here, but suffice it to say that Ms. Omar made quite clear that she was not speaking against the Jewish people, but against the state of Israel overstepping its bounds by occupying Palestine.  For the record, I agree with her.

“I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country. I want to ask why is it OK for me to talk about the influence of the NRA (National Rifle Association), of fossil fuel industries or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobbying group that is influencing policies?”

Then last month, Ms. Omar once again came under fire after giving a speech at an event hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), where she was speaking in response to the two mosque shootings in New Zealand, speaking about the lingering fear directed at Muslims since 9/11, and the rights Muslims have to speak out about being viewed with suspicion.

“CAIR was founded after 9/11, because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties. Many people expect our community to feel like it needs to hide every time something happens. But repeatedly we have shown them that we are not to be bullied, not to be threatened, we are not to be terrorized, we are strong and resilient, and we will always show up to be ourselves because we know we have a right to a dignified existence and a dignified life.”

Many of us knew this would get worse, we finally have a leader, a world leader, in the White House who publicly says ‘Islam hates us,’ who fuels hate against Muslims, who thinks it is okay to speak about a faith and a whole community in a way that is dehumanizing, vilifying and doesn’t understand — or at least makes us want to think he doesn’t understand — the consequences his words might have.”

And once again, the republicans and Donald Trump were off the rails, with one comment I read even referring to CAIR as a ‘terrorist organization’.  There is no need for me to repeat all the ignorant comments that came out of the depths of ignorance, but one person took the hate and bigotry a step further, possibly even putting Ms. Omar’s life in danger.  That person is Donald Trump.

On Friday, Donald Trump who calls himself a ‘president’, took one small portion of Ms. Omar’s speech out of context and re-tweeted a doctored video that I will not replay here, for it denigrates every citizen of this nation, including Representative Omar, but suffice it to say that it attempts to show her as being dismissive of the lives that were lost on that tragic day.  This is the work of a small and feeble mind.  When the ‘man’ at the helm of a nation of more than 300 million people resorts to such juvenile tactics, he incites violence by the other small and feeble minds in the nation.  Who, really, is the terrorist here?  It seems to me the one who calls himself a ‘president’ is as much a terrorist as were Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, and Ziad Jarrah.

Predictably, the republicans and conservative media outlets went wild.  Ms. Omar has already been the focus of threats, including one by a Trump supporter who was recently arrested.  On April 7, Patrick Carlineo Jr., an ardent Trump supporter, was arrested for making violent threats in a phone call to Omar’s office. According to the criminal complaint, on March 21, Carlineo told one of Omar’s staff: “Omar’s a fucking terrorist. I’ll put a bullet in her fucking skull.”

Is this really the sort of nation we want to be?  Is this how we want to be viewed as a society?  The majority of us are capable of thinking for ourselves, reading or hearing Ms. Omar’s speech and understanding that it was a plea for inclusiveness, a condemnation of bigotry.  Sadly, however, there are people in this nation who, rather than use their own minds, prefer to believe what they are told.  In truth, we should be able to believe what the president of the country tells us, but under the current regime, it has been proven thousands of times that he lies to suit his own purposes.

I have the utmost respect for Representative Ilhan Omar, and if anything happens to her, her blood will be on the hands of one Donald Trump.  It’s time, people, to wake up and oust this abomination who some call ‘president’.

Snarky Snippets … Version MCXII

I used to do Snarky Snippets once every couple of weeks.  Now, it’s more like several times a week.  There is just so much …


Who could blame him?

Yesterday, a man in a wheelchair tried to set fire to himself outside the White House gates. The man lit his jacket, officers immediately responded, extinguishing the fire and giving the man first aid, the man was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries yada, yada, yada.

A “suspicious package” was found near the area … turned out to be the man’s backpack.  The White House was put on lockdown because the Idiot-in-Chief was there, even though it was obvious there was no threat to him.  And thus ends the story, right?

So why did the guy do it?  There comes a point where hopelessness leads to not caring anymore which leads to … this.  A man who figures life isn’t much worth living any more, and whose fault is it?  Donald Trump’s.  And so … let’s put an end to it, but let’s make sure Trump knows that this blood is on his hands, that he is responsible for the death.

The official story, by later today or tomorrow, will be that the man had a history of mental illness.  I’m betting not.  I’m betting that he’s given up on the hope of seeing this country rise above the abomination that is Donald Trump, decided it’s not worth sticking around to watch the final chapter, but wants Trump to know … as if Trump had a conscience and could understand human pain, the suffering of humanity.


Score one for Maxine Waters

Steve Mnuchin … just seeing his picture makes me want to relieve him of that smirky little smile he always seems to wear.  For any who are unaware, Mnuchin is Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, another of Trump’s boot-lickers.

Well, on Tuesday he met his match in the persona of one Representative Maxine Waters!

Waters-Mnuchin

Mnuchin had been testifying before the House Financial Services Committee, when he decided he had enough and cited a meeting with a “foreign leader” as his reason for needing to leave.  Ms. Waters, chairperson of the committee, asked Mnuchin if he could give the committee another 15 minutes so members who had been waiting for their five-minute turn could ask him questions.  He again cited the importance of his meeting.

Finally, Ms. Waters said, “If you wish to leave, you may.”  Well, Mnuchin was caught off-guard by that, apparently, and responded with …

“Please dismiss everybody. I believe you are supposed to take the gavel and bang it.”

WHOA-DEE … You could have heard a pin drop, for about 3 seconds, until Representative Waters said …

“Do not instruct me as to how I am to conduct this hearing.”

Mnuchin stayed the extra 15 minutes and then told Waters, “I look forward to being back in May, and we will work on a date.”  Waters responded, “Thank you very much.”

The lady has class!


He just keeps coming back …

Ol’ Roger Stone just won’t go away and stay gone.  On Friday, his lawyers asked a federal judge to dismiss Stone’s indictment for lying to Congress and obstructing justice and to order that Stone receive a full unredacted copy of Mueller’s recently completed report.  Say WHAT???  We the People are as unlikely to see it as a man is likely to give birth, but Roger Stone thinks he deserves a copy?  Yo … Roger!!! You can read the heavily-redacted version in the New York Times the same as the rest of us! At least, I suppose they let you read the Times in prison.

“No other person, Committee, or entity has Stone’s constitutionally based standing to demand the complete, unredacted Report,” said the lawyers.

bullshit


A new bromance for Trump?

Trump has found himself another strongman dictator to love … what a surprise, eh?  This time it is Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, a ‘president’ in name only, but in reality, a dictator who is in the process of making changes to Egypt’s Constitution that will make him a de facto dictator for life, while permanently enshrining military control over Egypt’s political system. He continues to hold tens of thousands of political prisoners, including at least a dozen U.S. citizens.Trump-al-SissiSo, how did Trump respond when al-Sissi arrived at the White House for a visit on Tuesday?

“I think he’s doing a great job. I don’t know about the effort. I can just tell you he’s doing a great job. Great president.”

The Egyptian president, naturally, returned the compliment …

“Let me emphasize, Mr. President, that the relations have not been better over the years of our bilateral relationship, and that is why I’m extending, Mr. President, to you our thanks … All the credit goes to you, Mr. President.  Thank you very much for your support on all fronts.”

Feeling sick yet? 🤢 Trump also took the opportunity to lie and whine to al-Sissi …

“We are building a lot of wall, and we are being very strong on the border. But we are bucking a court system that never, ever rules for us, and we are bucking really bad things with the Democrats in Congress not willing to act. Nobody can believe these decisions we’re getting from the 9th Circuit. It’s a disgrace.”

And al-Sissi sat smiling at Trump, for he has had his own troubles with judges who were trying to thwart him by upholding the law.  President al-Sissi’s answer to his troubles was to change the law.  Think about that one for a minute.


Okay folks, I’ve vented enough for one day.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend … I’ll be back!

And The Winners Are …

I wrote a good bit about the republican’s tax cuts that would benefit mainly the wealthy back in 2017 when it was first passed into law.  Since then, I have only mentioned it in passing for the most part.  But today I would like to revisit the topic.  A lot of middle income wage earners are just now figuring out that it was not much more than a shell game whereby they saw a slight increase in their weekly pay, but at the end of the year, when it came time to file their taxes, they were left slack-jawed, wondering why, for the first time in decades, they owed money at year end.

If you have found yourself in that situation, take heart, for some people truly did receive a benefit from the 2017 tax cuts!  Companies like Amazon, Chevron, General Motors, Delta, Halliburton, and IBM paid NO income taxes for the year 2018!  Aren’t you happy?  Aren’t you dancing a jig?  According to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), some 60 Fortune 500 corporations were highly profitable, yet paid no income tax, and in some cases even received rebates!

Take Netflix, for example.  The company earned $845 million, its highest profit ever, and paid not a single dime in income taxes.  In fact, they recorded a $22 million federal tax rebate.  Then there was Amazon who nearly doubled their pre-tax income from $5.6 billion in 2017 to $11.2 billion in 2018, yet paid $0 … that’s right Zero, Nada, Zilch … in income taxes. trump-tax-memeThe tax cuts for the wealthy in 2017 lowered the maximum corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% and allowed companies to write off the total cost of capital equipment in the year of purchase, rather than via a depreciation schedule over the course of the life of the equipment.  Look at the results for the top earning Fortune 500 companies …

Company

U.S. Income (millions)

Federal Tax (millions)

Effective Tax Rate

Amazon.com $10,835 –129 –1%
Delta Air Lines $5,073 –187 –4%
Chevron $4,547 –181 –4%
General Motors $4,320 –104 –2%
EOG Resources $4,067 –304 –7%
Occidental Petroleum $3,379 –23 –1%
Honeywell International $2,830 –21 –1%
Deere $2,152 –268 –12%
American Electric Power $1,943 –32 –2%
Principal Financial $1,641 –49 –3%
FirstEnergy $1,495 –16 –1%
Prudential Financial $1,440 –346 –24%
Xcel Energy $1,434 –34 –2%
Devon Energy $1,297 –14 –1%
DTE Energy $1,215 –17 –1%
Halliburton $1,082 –19 –2%
Netflix $856 –22 –3%
Whirlpool $717 –70 –10%
Eli Lilly $598 –54 –9%
IBM $500 –342 –68%
Goodyear Tire & Rubber $440 –15 –3%
Penske Automotive Group $393 –16 –4%
Aramark $315 –48 –15%
AECOM Technology $238 –122 –51%
Tech Data $203 –10 –5%
Performance Food Group $192 –9 –4%
Arrow Electronics $167 –12 –7%

Source: Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy                                            

Still feeling really good about that extra $20 on your weekly paycheck? Let’s take a look at your tax rates.  If you were single and earned between $38,701 and $82,500, your effective tax rate was 22%, or between $8,514 and $18,150.  Sure, you probably paid less if you had any deductible expenses, but still … look again at the chart above.

ITEP’s Five Things To Know on the One-Year Anniversary of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

  • The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will substantially increase income, wealth, and racial inequality.
  • The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will continue to substantially increase the deficit.
  • The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is not significantly boosting growth or jobs.
  • The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act continues to be very unpopular.
  • Despite the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’s lack of popularity and ill effects, many Republican lawmakers are calling for even more tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.

Next time somebody tries to tell you that the 2017 tax cuts were to benefit the middle class, remember this post and tell them in your loudest voice:  HOGWASH!  And in case your blood pressure isn’t already through the roof, take a gander at this …Corporate tax cuts

A Jaw-Dropping Headline …

The headline:

Failed Texas Bill Would Have Made Death Penalty Possible in Abortion Cases

Say WHAT???  You have got to be kidding me?!?!?! The story …

A bill considered by members of the Texas House of Representatives this week would have criminalized abortions and opened up the possibility for women and physicians to receive the death penalty.

The bill would have allowed women who obtained an abortion or doctors who performed one to be charged with assault or criminal homicide, the latter of which is punishable by death in Texas. It would have allowed no exceptions for abortions in cases of rape or when the health of the mother is at risk.

Yes, the bill failed to pass the Texas state legislature, with even some legislators who identify as being strongly “pro-life” feeling it went too far.  But I find the fact that somebody even thought of it to be chilling.

So, a young mother who already has two children, works two jobs to support them and still struggles to put food on the table and pay the rent, gets pregnant.  Knowing that she cannot possibly manage to support yet another child, she struggles, searches her soul, sheds many a tear, but at the end of the day she sees no choice.  She has an abortion.  Does anybody honestly think she should be punished at all, let alone be treated in the same way as a man who goes on a shooting spree in a mosque, or an African-American church and kills 10, 15, 20 people?  WHERE is the logic in this?

Worse yet, picture the woman who discovers, at the same time she finds she is pregnant, that she has cervical cancer and carrying the fetus to full term would likely cause her death.  Somebody in Texas thinks this woman should be arrested, sent to prison and put on death row for having an abortion in an effort to save her live?  Again I ask … WHERE is the logic in this?

Nobody can dispute that the U.S. has moved backward in terms of civil rights over the past two years.  Bigotry in all its ugly forms has expanded, obviously including misogyny.  One of Trump’s selling points in his campaign was that he would put judges on the bench who would be willing to overturn Roe v Wade, and he has placed two such judges on the Supreme Court so far.  What happens if Roe v Wade is overturned?  If we have people who honestly think that abortion is akin to murder, then folks, we are in deep trouble.

Women make up only 28.7% of all state legislatures in this country.  There are 127 (23.7%) women in the U.S. Congress.  It’s an improvement, but still not what I would define as equality.  I repeat what I said not too long ago … how would men like it if women decided whether or not they should be allowed their Viagra prescriptions?  Ponder on that one for a while.

Oh … one last thing here.  All those who claim to be “pro-life” … why aren’t they out there fighting hard for universal healthcare, for an expansion of social services to protect and preserve the lives of those who are living below the poverty line?  And why aren’t they vociferously speaking out against the death penalty?  If they aren’t doing those things, if abortion is the only area in which they are concerned about human life, then they aren’t ‘pro-life’, but rather they are misogynists, considering women to be second-class citizens.

Just Two Things …

On Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg …

rbgIf I had to pick a favourite among the current Supreme Court Justices, it would be Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  The woman is intelligent, has spunk, and her heart is in the right place, unlike some others.  She has gone through a lot, but she bounces back.  Since her most recent bout with cancer, she has returned to the Court, heard oral arguments, authored opinions, and even made a few public appearances outside the courtroom.  But yet …

There are some who claim Justice Ginsburg has been dead for weeks, and that democrats … of course, it’s always the democrats … are covering up her death in order to keep the jackal in the Oval Office from nominating another one of his sycophants for the seat.  Say WHAT???  How can a person who is in the public eye, who goes to work every day and is seen by her co-workers and others, be believed to be dead?  What rock have these people slithered out from under?

According to The Hill

The Supreme Court has been bombarded with Twitter users demanding evidence that Ginsburg is still alive, while some online videos allege her public appearances have been manufactured.

There are also claims that audio of her from recent Supreme Court oral arguments has been doctored and is nothing more than phrases pieced together from earlier recordings of her remarks.

There’s little chance the Ginsburg conspiracy theory is going away anytime soon, experts say, mainly because the biggest proponents are unlikely to accept any proof that she’s alive.

I have a solution.  Invite them all to visit the court at a specified date and time, then let Justice Ginsburg go ‘round the room and poke each one of them in the eye with a stick.  Perhaps that will convince them.

It seems, though, that Donald Trump is hoping for Justice Ginsburg’s demise, for he has already decided on a nominee for her replacement:  Judge Amy Coney Barrett.  Barrett, not surprisingly, is known as a “superstar” among the religious right.

Barrett is young (46) and has vociferously made known her willingness to overturn Roe v Wade, which, along with Obergefell v Hodges seem to be the only thing the religious right cares about when it comes to the Supreme Court.  Take away women’s rights and take away the rights of the LGBT community, and Trump’s biggest fan base will be happy.

Personally, I hope that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stays healthy for at least another two years.


Not tough enough???

Kirstjen-Nielsen.jpgThe big news of the day is that Trump apparently forced the resignation of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.  Now, I’ve never liked Nielsen, always considered her to be rather a cold, heartless bitch, but apparently she wasn’t heartless enough to suit Trump, and that should concern us all.  It will likely thrill his base of white supremacists, however, who would like nothing better than to line the southern border with armed guards who are told to shoot first and ask questions later.

Bruce Plante Cartoon: DHS Secretary Kirstjen NielsenRumours abound, as they will when facts are not made available.  One, the most probable one, is that Trump is eager to reinstate his horrendous child-separation policy, taking children from their parents when they cross the southern border.  Ms. Nielsen rejected the plan, in light of the fact that a federal judge struck down the policy last year.

Another theory was proposed by Josh Campbell, the former FBI agent turned CNN national security analyst.  Mr. Campbell believes it possible that Ms. Nielsen was the author of the anonymous OpEd in the New York Times last year that caused such a stir.    The basis for his conclusion is stylistic similarities between Nielsen’s letter of resignation and the OpEd.  Not much to go on, but if she was the author of the OpEd, now that she has resigned from her position she has nothing to lose by coming clean, so … maybe?

I’m still stunned, though, that she wasn’t ‘tough enough’ to please Trump, even after she authorized the use of tear gas to repel a large crowd attempting to break through a border fence on New Year’s Day.  I’m also stunned that Trump has plans to defy Judge Dana Sabraw’s order and reinstate his cruel, inhumane child separation policy.

Are there no longer any restrictions or limitations on the power of the presidency?  Has Donald Trump, in fact, become the dictator he always wanted to be?  He shuts the government down in an attempt to get his way.  That doesn’t work, so he declares a state of national emergency to get his way.  That hasn’t worked yet, so he demands the resignation of the Secretary of Homeland Security to replace her with a man who is even more cruel and heartless.  Where does it end.  When do We the People finally say we have had ENOUGH???  Or do we keep burying our heads in the sand, believing that somehow, in some way, it will all work itself out.  Believing that our Constitution, or next year’s election will stop him.  Think about it.

Capitalism Run Amok

I have said many times of late that ours is a system of capitalism run amok.  It’s a system driven by greed, by wealthy corporate giants intent on squeezing every last nickel out of the consumers without taking responsibility for their own product.  The republicans act as if ‘socialism’ is a bad word, but frankly democratic socialism makes a heck of a lot more sense that todays extreme capitalism.  It seems that a very astute mind agrees with me.  Take a look at what Robert Reich has to say on the subject.

Corporations are endangering Americans. Trump doesn’t care

From Boeing to Monsanto and beyond: this week has revealed the tip of the iceberg of regulatory neglect

By Robert Reich

Robert ReichWhy didn’t Boeing do it right? Why isn’t Facebook protecting user passwords? Why is Phillip Morris allowed to promote vaping? Why hasn’t Wells Fargo reformed itself? Why hasn’t Monsanto (now owned by Bayer) recalled its Roundup weedkiller?

Answer: corporate greed coupled with inept and corrupt regulators.

These are just a few of the examples in the news these days of corporate harms inflicted on innocent people.

To be sure, some began before the Trump administration. But Trump and his appointees have unambiguously signaled to corporations they can now do as they please.

Boeing wanted to get its 737 Max 8 out quickly because airlines want to pack in more passengers at lower fuel costs (hence the “max”). But neither Boeing nor the airlines shelled out money to adequately train pilots on the new software made necessary by the new design.

Nonetheless, Trump’s FAA certified the plane in March 2017. And after two subsequent deadly crashes, the US was slower to ground them than other countries.

Last week Facebook admitted to storing hundreds of millions of Facebook users’ passwords in plain text that could be searched by more than 20,000 Facebook employees. The admission came just a year after the Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed that Facebook shared the personal data of as many as 87 million users with a political data firm.

In reality, Facebook’s business model is based on giving personal data to advertisers so they can tailor their pitches precisely to potential customers. So despite repeated reassurances by Mark Zuckerberg, the firm will continue to do what it wants with personal information.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has the power to force Facebook to better guard users’ privacy. But so far Trump’s FTC has done nothing – not even to enforce a 2011 agreement in which Facebook promised to do just that.

Altria (Phillip Morris) was losing ground on its sales of cigarettes, but the firm has recently found a future in vaping. Because inhaling nicotine in any form poses a health hazard, the FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb wanted to curb advertising of vaping products to teenagers.

Gottlieb thought he had Altria’s agreement, but then the firm bought the vaping company Juul. Its stock has already gained 14% this year. What happened to Gottlieb? He’s out at the FDA, after barely a year on the job.

Wells Fargo has publicly apologized for having deceived customers with fake bank accounts, unwarranted fees and unwanted products. Its top executives say they have eliminated the aggressive sales targets that were responsible for the fraud.

But Wells Fargo employees told the New York Times recently that they’re still under heavy pressure to squeeze extra money out of customers. Some have witnessed colleagues bending or breaking internal rules to meet ambitious performance goals.

What has Trump’s Consumer Financial Protection Agency done about this? Nothing. It’s been defanged.

This week, a federal jury awarded $80m in damages to a California man who blamed Monsanto’s (now Bayer’s) Roundup weedkiller for his cancer, after finding that Roundup was defectively designed, that Monsanto failed to warn of the herbicide’s cancer risk, and that the company acted negligently. It was the second jury in eight months to reach the same conclusion about Roundup.

Roundup contains glyphosate, a suspected carcinogen. Cases from more than 1,000 farmers and other agricultural workers stricken with non-Hodgkin lymphoma are already pending in federal and state courts.

What has Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency done about glyphosate? In December 2017 its office of pesticide programs concluded that glyphosate wasn’t likely to cause cancer – although eight of the 15 experts on whom the agency relied expressed significant concerns about that conclusion, and three more expressed concerns about the data.

These are just tips of a vast iceberg of regulatory neglect, frozen into place by Trump’s appointees, of which at least 187 were lobbyists before they joined the administration.

This is trickle-down economics of a different sort than Trump’s corporate tax cuts. The major beneficiaries of this are the same big corporations, including their top executives and major investors. But these burdens are trickling down as unsafe products, fraudulent services, loss of privacy, even loss of life.

Big money has had an inhibiting effect on regulators in several previous administrations. What’s unique under Trump is the blatancy of it all, and the shameless willingness of Trump appointees to turn a blind eye to corporate wrongdoing.

Trump and his Republican enablers in Congress yell “socialism!” at proposals for better balancing private greed with the common good. Yet unless a better balance is achieved, capitalism as we know it is in deep trouble.