Wise Words From A Wise Man

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century.

I have shared Mr. Reich’s work a few times before, and today I do so again.  His topic is one that I have given much thought to over the past two years and have serious concerns about.  Please take a few minutes to read it and think about this, for I believe Mr. Reich is correct, have long believed so.

Robert Reich: Be afraid of the president who refuses to lose

Photo of Robert Reich

The United States is now headed by someone pathologically incapable of admitting defeat. This doesn’t bode well for the 2020 presidential election.

Among the most chilling words uttered last month by Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, were “given my experience working for Mr. Trump I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 that there will never be a peaceful transition of power, and this is why I agreed to appear before you today.”

Cohen should know better than anyone, but we already had reason to worry. In 2016, when polls showed Hillary Clinton with a wide lead, Trump claimed the election was rigged against him.

He refused to commit to honoring the election results if he lost, warning that he’d “reserve my right to contest or file a legal challenge in the case of a questionable result.” He added that he’d accept the results of the election “if I win.”

Throughout the summer of 2016, Trump’s claim of election rigging was echoed on Fox News. Newt Gingrich spoke of “a long tradition on the part of Democratic machines of trying to steal elections.” Rudolph Giuliani declared that “Hillary and [Tim] Kaine are right in the middle of the Washington insider rigged system.”

Trump’s campaign manager at the time, Paul Manafort, said federal officials couldn’t be trusted to prevent voter fraud, warning that “if you’re relying on the Justice Department to ensure the security of the elections, we have to be worried.”

By early August 2016, according to a Bloomberg poll, 56 percent of Trump supporters believed the election would be rigged. (Among all voters, only 34 percent predicted a rigged election; 60 percent rejected the idea.)

Even after the election, Trump refused to accept that he had lost the popular vote. Still claiming election fraud, he established a presidential commission to find it. When the commission came back empty-handed, he abruptly dissolved it, saying (wrongly) that it had uncovered “substantial evidence of voter fraud.” No such evidence emerged.

For Trump, losing is the deepest form of humiliation, and humiliation is intolerable.

Every time he has lost a legislative or legal battle during his presidency he has blamed the other side, and has lashed back: shuttering the government, declaring a national emergency, whipping up his followers against recalcitrant judges, Democrats, the media or whomever he holds responsible.

Imagine it’s November 2020 and Trump has lost the election. He charges voter fraud, claiming that the “deep state” organized tens of millions of illegal immigrants to vote against him, and says he has an obligation not to step down.

Only this time he’s already president, with all the powers a president commands.

Traditionally, Americans have trusted our system of government enough that we abide by its outcomes even though we may disagree with them. Only once in our history, in 1861, did enough of us distrust the system so much we succumbed to civil war.

Typically, when an election is over, the peaceful transition of power reminds the public that our allegiance is not toward a particular person but to our system of government.

Five weeks after the bitterly contested election of 2000, and just one day after the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of George W Bush, Al Gore graciously declared: “I say to President-elect Bush that what remains of partisan rancor must now be put aside, and may God bless his stewardship of this country.”

But what happens if an incumbent president claims our system is no longer trustworthy?

Trump’s emissaries have already seeded the battlefield. Last April, Sean Hannity of Fox News predicted that an attempt to impeach Trump (or presumably remove him from office any other way) would cause “fighting and dividing this country at a level we’ve never seen … those that stand for truth and those that literally buy into the corrupt deep state attacks against a duly elected president.”

Trump’s former consiglieri, Roger Stone, has warned of “an insurrection like you’ve never seen” and claimed that any politician who voted to oust Trump “would be endangering their own life.”

Just last month, Steve Bannon, another of Trump’s bottom feeders, predicted that “2019 is going to be the most vitriolic year in American politics since the Civil War, and I include Vietnam in that.” He didn’t make a prediction about 2020, but we can guess.

We should take seriously Michael Cohen’s admonition that if Trump is defeated in 2020, he will not leave office peacefully.

Republican leaders as well as Supreme Court justices and civic and religious leaders across the land must be prepared to assert the primacy of our system of government over the will of the man who refuses to lose.

Who … Or WHAT … is Jacob Wohl?

Meet the new Alex Jones.  His name is Jacob Wohl, he is 21-years-old, and calls himself a “corporate and political intel consultant”.  In truth, he is a scammer and a conspiracy theorist who has been banned from Twitter and was barred from the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last week.  By himself, he is a joke … laughable.  The danger lies in that some people are actually falling for his multiple hoaxes.

So, who … or what … is Jacob Wohl?  He first came onto the scene in the middle of 2017, when he posted a lovey-dovey tweet about how ‘wonderful’ Donald Trump was and Trump, naturally, re-tweeted it for it fed his very hungry ego.  At that time, he billed himself as a ‘financial manager’, or a hedge-fund manager (at 20 years old???), and had already gained a reputation “for defrauded investors, various boffo shenanigans and a batch of regulators on his trail”, according to TalkingPointsMemo.    According to his website at the time, which is no longer in existence, he “launched his first ‘hedge fund’ at age 16 while still in high school and ‘received attention from around the world for being the youngest hedge fund manager of all time.’”

After a 2017 investigation into fraudulent practices and complaints about thievery, the National Futures Association (NFA), a non-governmental industry watchdog, banned Wohl for life from the NFA or operating as a principal for any NFA member.  The State of Arizona has banned him from all business activities in their state.  There are numerous instances of his dishonesty, nay … thievery … but that is not my purpose today … my purpose today is his present scam.  Not even ‘of age’ yet, and one career already shot to heck.

You’ll remember the unsubstantiated and false rumour that Donald Trump started in 2011 where he posited that President Obama was not, in fact, born in the U.S.?  Well, Wohl started his own ‘birther’ rumour …

“Kamala Harris is NOT eligible to be President. Her father arrived from Jamaica in 1961—mother from India arrived in 1960.  Neither parent was a legal resident for 5 years prior to Harris’s birth, a requirement for naturalization.  Kamala was raised in Canada.” — Jacob Wohl (@JacobAWohl) January 22, 2019

The facts:  Ms. Harris was born in Oakland, California, in 1964, thereby making her a citizen of the U.S.  When she was twelve years old, her parents had been divorced for five years, and her mother took the children and moved to Canada.  In 1981, Mr. Harris moved to Washington, D.C., to attend Howard University where she majored in Political Science and Economics.  After graduation from Howard, she returned to California where she earned her Juris Doctor (J.D.) from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, in 1989.  She meets every criteria for the office of president, contrary to Wohl’s suggestion, and is, in fact, far more qualified than the current occupant of the Oval Office.

Wohl also set his sights on Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg after her recent cancer diagnosis, claiming she was either secretly dead, or in a vegetative state from which she would never return.  I wonder how silly he feels now, seeing that she has returned to the bench?

He also claimed that the pipe bombs sent to a number of democrats last year were a ‘false flag’ operation.  I wonder how he explains the arrest of Cesar Sayoc last October and the 30 charges against him for making and sending the bombs?

And just before the mid-term elections last year, he claimed to have ‘proof’ that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had been credibly accused of sexual assault.  Another blatant falsehood, the product of Wohl’s imagination, as even the woman he claimed had accused Mueller, one Carolyne Cass, said that Wohl “made it up,” deceived her with a false identity and tried to coerce her to appear at a news conference against her will. That one put him on the radar of the FBI.  And one of his most infamous tweets was his claim that Donald Trump should be made “president for life” … oh, the horror!!! 😱

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David Wohl, Donald Trump, Jacob Wohl

His latest conspiracy theory centers around the freshman representative from Minnesota, Ilhan Omar.  He claims that Omar’s ex-husband Ahmed Elmi is actually her brother and that she married him to help him get US citizenship.  There is absolutely no evidence to support his claim, and it wouldn’t make sense anyway, for she could have just as easily petitioned US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to bring her brother to the U.S. without marrying him!  But, Ms. Omar is the target of a number of conspiracy theories, including one that she has some connection to the 9/11 terrorists.  Again, there is no evidence at all to support this, but she is an easy target because … she is a Muslim, one of the first two Muslim representatives in Congress, and Trump’s supporters believe his lies that all Muslims are terrorists.

Wohl has gone so far as to connect with right-wing activist Laura Loomer, solicit funds equal to $25,000 to travel to Minneapolis to attempt to prove his claims.Wohl-solicitationHe and Laura claim they are being targeted, wear bullet-proof vests, and claim they need an armoured car for their protection.  More likely, nobody recognizes nor cares overly much about them.

But by far the most concerning thing he has done is that which got him banned from Twitter.  According to an article in USA Today

Wohl disclosed a raft of schemes he says are in the works that he hopes will resonate in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election. 

He says he plans to create “enormous left-wing online properties” – such as deceptive Facebook and Twitter accounts – “and use those to steer the left-wing votes in the primaries to what we feel are weaker candidates compared with Trump.” It’s a plot similar to what Mueller has charged in indictments that the Russians crafted in an effort to boost the 2016 campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein and hobble Hillary Clinton. 

Another stated scheme: seeking to collect damaging information on left-leaning non-profits including Media Matters for America, the Southern Poverty Law Center and Right Wing Watch by offering their insiders “moral reconciliation,” and if that doesn’t work, “things of worth” – such as money.

Wohl said he planned to create “enormous left-wing online properties” in a bid to steer voters “to what we feel are weaker candidates compared with Trump.”  Twitter’s investigation found Wohl already had created some of those accounts, including @women_4_schultz, which sought to advance the early candidacy of Howard Schultz, former Starbucks CEO who has threatened to run as an independent in 2020.

While Twitter has permanently suspended Wohl’s account, there are other social media platforms, such as Facebook.  I understand that he is a large presence on Instagram.  I found his response to his lifetime ban a bit chilling …

“It’s all fun, man. You gotta have fun with this. I had fun with Twitter. They banned me? Oh well — it’s not the end of the world.”

We need not fear people crossing the southern border seeking asylum.  We need not fear Muslim refugees from the Middle East.  We need to fear the likes of Jacob Wohl who have set out to tamper with our elections, who are filling empty minds with conspiracy theories against good people, and who are seriously trying to bring about the fall of this nation.  This, then, is the face of ugly …face-of-ugly-wohl

Under The Big Top …

I just love it when all the clowns congregate in one place at one time and spout endless, mindless inanities, for it makes my job so much easier … one website has it all!  I’m speaking, of course, about CPAC, the annual Conservative Political Action Conference that is organized by the American Conservative Union and features a star-studded array of many of the most radical right-wingers in the Republican Party.  Take a look at this year’s cast of characters …

These are just some of the strange characters that can be seen, but they are joined by the likes of Glenn Beck, Kellyanne Conway, Ted Cruz, Mike Pence, Jerry Falwell and others too numerous to name – the worst of the worst.  Welcome to … THE CIRCUS!circusYesterday morning at 11:30, the ringmaster, Donald J. Trump, spoke at this circus of horrors.  His speech was long.  When I say long, I mean loooooooooooooonnnnnnnngggg.  How long was it, you may ask?  It was two hours, two minutes and seventeen seconds.  Yes, that’s 2:02:17.  One hundred, twenty-two minutes and 17 seconds.  The speech was nasty, even by his standards.  He couldn’t seem to utter more than three sentences before cussing and using foul language.  And lies???  Holy guacamole, Batman!  I’ve never heard so many lies in one lousy speech!  For the record … I tried to listen to a 2-minute clip of his speech, and right around the 1-minute mark, I jerked my headphones off and threw them on the table in disgust.  Daughter Chris looked at me and said, “Trump?”.  Ayuh … who else?

But the thing is about this speech, is that it was all old material … material he has been using in his campaign rallies since he threw his hat in the ring in mid-2015.  For instance …

  • He joked about Hillary Clinton’s emails and soon had the crowd chanting that tired old phrase, “Lock her up”. Why the Sam Heck aren’t they chanting ‘lock him up’?
  • He railed against former FBI Director James Comey who he fired two years ago.
  • He mocked Representative Adam Schiff, referring to him as “Little Shifty Schiff”, which is an improvement over what he has called him in the past.
  • He criticized Robert Mueller, naturally, and also Jeff Sessions, mocking Sessions’ southern accent … watch …
  • He defended … sigh … his ignominious “declaration of a national emergency”, which is indefensible as the majority of the people in this nation know.
  • He spent, I am told, a great deal of his time mocking the Green New Deal proposed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as a means to prevent the extinction of the human race and other valuable species.
  • He also made false claims about everything from the unemployment rate to the crowd size at his inauguration. Yes, he’s still babbling on … and on … about his inauguration more than two years later.

See what I mean?  Nothing new, just the same old sixes and sevens he began with two, three years ago.  And the same tired people are applauding the same tired lines.  It would be humorous if it weren’t so … old, tiresome, sickening and ridiculous.Trump cuddles flagNow, how can anybody spend two solid hours simply mocking and criticizing others?  Is this, then, Trump’s platform, his ideology?  To mock others?  Has he no actual ideas for how to make America ‘better’, but rather only to denigrate others?  Is this the basis on which our government is now founded, the foundation upon which it rests?  And what of those who salaciously applauded his every word?  Are they off their bloomin’ rockers?

“You know I’m totally off script right now and this is how I got elected, by being off script. And if we don’t go off script, our country’s in big trouble, folks, because we have to get it back.”

Being ‘off script’ was how he got elected.  Yep.  Remember those chants?  Trump saying, “Who’s gonna pay for the wall?”, and the crowd responding as if by rote, “Mexico!”  Well, guess what, folks?  Those of you who bought that line of horse hockey must be feeling pretty foolish right about now, eh?

“Right now we have people in Congress that hate our country and you know that. And we can name every one of ’em if they want. They hate our country. Sad. It’s very sad. When I see some of the things being made, the statements being made, it’s very, very sad.

And find out, how did they do in their country? Just ask ’em, how did they do? Did they do well, were they succeeding? Just ask that question. Somebody would say, ‘Oh, that’s terrible that he brings that up.’ But that’s OK, I don’t mind, I’ll bring it up. How did they do in their country? Not so good, not so good.”

What the heck is he even talking about?

Between Cohen’s credible testimony that Trump has lied, cheated and stolen from the American taxpayer, the evidence that he forced John Kelly to push through top security clearance for his son-in-law Jared Kushner despite concerns by high-ranking officials, and his utter failure in his summit with Kim Jong-un, he has no bragging rights, but brag he did, and lie he did.  A few of the most egregious, nonsensical ramblings from the ‘man’ who some call president, and just a bit of my snarkiness in blue

“I see senators that are there for 20 years, white hair. See, I don’t have white hair. I don’t have white hair. I see these white hairs, longtime senators, standing behind this young woman, and she’s ranting and raving like a lunatic, and these senators: ‘Yes, I agree with this. Yes I agree.’ The crazy female senator from the state of Ohio.”  Um, excuse me, but both of Ohio’s senators are men.  And about that ‘hair’ … it changes colour almost daily, apparently according to which toupee you are wearing, so who knows, if you have real hair, what the colour?

“Robert Mueller put 13 of the angriest Democrats in the history of our country on the commission. How do you do that? These are angry, angry people. You take a look at them. One of them was involved with the Hillary Clinton Foundation, running it. Another one has perhaps the worst reputation of any human being I’ve ever seen. All killers.”  Not a single one of Mueller’s team have run the Clinton Foundation, nor are any of them killers.  Excuse me, but … isn’t this slander?  Is this not illegal?

“I just returned from Vietnam, where I had very productive meetings with Chairman Kim Jong Un. We get along. We’ve developed a good relationship, very good, and made great historic progress. … One administration gave billions of dollars to him and got nothing. We haven’t given him anything yet. I look forward to maybe doing something at some point.”  Huh?  Say WHAT???  Trump failed completely, then lied about it.  How is that ‘great historic progress’?

And there you have it, folks.  Proof positive, in case you needed more, that there is an incompetent megalomaniac in the White House who surely must be removed before he destroys us all.  I may have more about CPAC, about some of the other clowns who attended, a bit later.  Then again, I may decide I’m so disgusted by the whole thing that I cannot take any more of it.

A Good Week For The Toon-ists!

There was so much fuel for the gristmill this week, and the cartoonists didn’t let us down.  In fact, there were so many fine ones that I may have to do two ‘toon-posts’ this week!

First there was the “summit” with Trump and Kim Jong-un which was, as we mostly knew it would be, a complete waste of time and money … our money.

toon-1toon-11toon-12Bruce Plante Cartoon: Trump goes to Vietnamtoon-14toon-15toon-16toon-17toon-18toon-19

Then there was Michael Cohen’s testimony before Congress

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And a few bits ‘n pieces

toon-misctoon-misc-2toon-misc-3

And now, let’s say ‘good-nite’ to Mr. Trump …

thumb-sucking-Trump

Two Peas In A Pod: Ben & Don

Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have a few things in common.  Both are quite wealthy, though neither is in the top 30 wealthiest people in their nation.  Donald Trump is 259th in the U.S., according to Forbes.  They both seem to be attracted to more autocratic leaders, and they have been friends with each other for many years.  They both had an immense dislike of President Barack Obama.  They are both bigots, both despise Iran and want to end or severely limit immigration in their respective countries.  Both have a mainly right-wing following. They also have one other thing in common:  they are both under investigation by their own government.  Mr. Netanyahu is about to be indicted on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust, whereas Mr. Trump is under investigation for a number of as-yet unspecified charges likely to include corruption, bribery, influencing an election, and obstruction of justice.

Yesterday, Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced his plans to indict Netanyahu.  Conversely, it is highly unlikely that Trump will be indicted any time soon. While there is absolutely nothing in the U.S. Constitution that prohibits indicting a sitting president, past justice department guidance has held that a sitting president may not be indicted for a crime, and that precedent is likely to either continue or set off legal battles that will last long past the end of Trump’s reign of terror.

Netanyahu is just 40 days from the election that will decide if he sees a 4th consecutive term as Prime Minister.  The charges against him stem in part from trading lucrative official favors for gifts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars including cigars, Champagne and jewelry, and for flattering news coverage whose value was incalculable.

The news coverage of the investigation into Netanyahu’s corruption and abuse of power have had little effect on his approval ratings, just as the mounting evidence of Trump’s alleged crimes have had little effect on his own approval ratings.  I don’t understand this, for always in the past, a president or Prime Minister was expected to behave in the most circumspect of manners, and if they failed to do so, they were held accountable.  Did it suddenly become ‘okay’ to be a crook, an abuser of women, a liar and a cheat?  I guess I didn’t get that memo.

I’m not sure which of the two coined the phrase first, but just as Trump calls the Robert Mueller investigation a “witch hunt”, so has Netanyahu referred to the investigation into his affairs as a “witch hunt”.  One of them is a copycat.  As Netanyahu’s indictment began to look more and more like a certainty, as the evidence began to pile up, he became more strident and divisive, even alienating some of his own supporters.  Sound familiar?

There’s another Trump/Netanyahu connection.  In one of the charges, Netanyahu stands accused of discussing with the publisher of Yediot Ahronot, one of Israel’s biggest newspapers, the possibility of a deal for favorable coverage: He would press a competing newspaper, Israel Hayom, to curtail its free circulation, and in return Yediot Ahronot would treat Mr. Netanyahu kindlier. Israel Hayom is owned by Sheldon Adelson, the American billionaire casino owner who is a devoted supporter of Mr. Netanyahu’s. Mr. Adelson was also a mega-donor to the Trump campaign in 2016, and as a reward, his wife Miriam was awarded (without qualifications or justification) the Presidential Medal of Freedom last November.  Wow … these rich dudes are thicker than thieves, aren’t they?  Oh wait … they are thieves!

Sheldon-Miriam-Adelson.jpg

Sheldon & Miriam Adelson  (I guess she could afford the facelifts, huh?)

In another of the charges, Netanyahu is accused of pushing regulatory actions through the Communications Ministry, which he controlled at the time, that were enormously lucrative to Shaul Elovitch, the principal owner of the Bezeq telecommunications giant. In return, Mr. Elovitch arranged for fawning coverage of Mr. Netanyahu and his family in Walla News, a popular website owned by Bezeq.  Trump has Fox News, Netanyahu has Walla News.

If the indictment is handed down, as AG Mandelblit intends, it will be the first time a sitting prime minister has been indicted in Israel, just as it would be the first time a sitting president was indicted in the U.S. if Attorney General Barr were to suddenly find the cojones to do so.  The point in all of this?  Both men are already independently wealthy, yet it wasn’t enough.  They broke laws, abused the power of their office, and breached the trust of the very people who put them in office.  In addition, each have the distinction of having made the world a little less safe and a lot less sane.  Thanks guys.

Age and citizenship is not enough. We need new requirements for president.

Jeff, aka Brookingslib over at On The Fence Voters has read my mind and written the post that I have been thinking about for quite some time now, but never got around to. A lot has changed in 230+ years, and it’s time for a few changes in our Constitution. Take a look at this post, for it is a common-sense, practical solution that would prevent a future recurrence of our current nightmare. Thank you, Jeff, for implied permission to share 😉

On The Fence Voters

Article 2, Section One, The United States Constitution: No person except a natural-born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States. 

So there you have it. In order to qualify to become the president of the United States of America, this little paragraph of our beloved Constitution spells it out. Is it me or doesn’t it seem a bid odd that the requirements to become the most powerful person in the free world are a bit on the weak side? I mean, I’ve seen job postings for dog-walker that are harder to qualify for.

I have to admit, since the election of Donald…

View original post 643 more words

Don’t Look Now, But …

It is the job of the free press to keep the people of this nation informed.  In order to do so, they must be given access to our government, they must be allowed to ask questions and expect to receive honest answers.  Yesterday, that freedom was cut short by Donald Trump, the bully-in-chief.  It would be a mistake to let this slide, for it is not the first time, nor is it likely to be the last, that Trump has curtailed the freedom of the press.

It all began with a photo op with Trump and Kim Jong-un when a reporter for The Associated Press, Jonathan Lemire, asked Trump to comment on the congressional testimony of Mr. Trump’s former lawyer, Michael D. Cohen.  Another reporter, Jeff Mason of Reuters, had asked Trump a question about his commitment to de-nuclearization.  Note that this is common practice and every president in modern history has submitted to such questions.  But Donald Trump took umbrage.

As a result, mouthpiece Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that reporters from Reuters, Associated Press, Bloomberg News and the Los Angeles Times would not be allowed to attend the dinner with Trump and Kim.  Sanders said that only photographers and television-camera operators would be allowed in … in other words, the American public would be allowed to see, but not hear.  Lauren Easton, spokeswoman for the Associated Press objected …

“The Associated Press decries such efforts by the White House to restrict access to the president. It is critically important that any president uphold American press freedom standards, not only at home but especially while abroad.”

Trump eventually allowed one reporter in … a reporter from The Wall Street Journal, owned by Trump’s good buddy Rupert Murdoch.  Whoopee.  Olivier Knox, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, called foul …

“This summit provides an opportunity for the American presidency to display its strength by facing vigorous questioning from a free and independent news media, not telegraph weakness by retreating behind arbitrary last-minute restrictions on coverage.”

Methinks the American presidency has no strength to display, as became obvious when the summit became a bust and Trump flew home with his tail tucked between his legs, for he refused to compromise.  But that is a story for another time, as today the more important story is this one, the curtailment of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment by Donald Trump.

In recent months, the White House has sharply reduced the number of press briefings it gives and has cracked down on reporters who call out questions during the president’s public appearances. Reporters have publicly and privately been warned by White House aides that it is inappropriate to ask Trump questions in that context.  No, Sarah … No, Donald … it is NOT inappropriate!  There has been so much secrecy, so many blatant lies told to We the People, that reporters must work twice as hard to dig a rare gem of truth from this administration.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads …

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Denying access to an important … nay, crucial … summit meeting is an abridgement of the right to freedom of the press.  Hand-picking reporters who will be allowed to attend that aforementioned meeting is an abridgement of the right to freedom of the press.  Donald Trump and his mouthpiece Sarah Huckabee Sanders have stomped on our right to know what our government is doing.  We cannot … we simply cannot ignore this!

This is a clear-cut case of retribution and revenge taken on reporters for asking legitimate questions of the ‘man’ who is tasked with leading the nation.  Asking those questions was not harassment, but rather an attempt to get answers that We the People need, want and deserve.  Throughout history, the only presidents who have attempted to curtail the right of a free press have been those who had something to hide, such as Richard Nixon who, in 1971 attempted to prevent the New York Times and Washington Post from publishing materials belonging to a classified Defense Department study regarding the history of United States activities in Vietnam.  The Supreme Court, by the way, ruled against the government and in favour of the free press in that case of New York Times v. United States.

To wrap it up, I direct your attention to the 2018 World Press Freedom Index.  A brief excerpt …

“More and more democratically-elected leaders no longer see the media as part of democracy’s essential underpinning, but as an adversary to which they openly display their aversion. The United States, the country of the First Amendment, has fallen again in the Index under Donald Trump, this time two places to 45th. A media-bashing enthusiast, Trump has referred to reporters “enemies of the people,” the term once used by Joseph Stalin.”

Need I say more?

We The People — A Letter

Dear Attorney General Barr,

I write to you on behalf of the majority of We the People of the United States of America.  You may recognize that line from the Preamble to the United States Constitution. Or perhaps not, though I believe this is a document that, as Attorney General of the United States, you have sworn an oath to uphold.

My reason for writing today is that we … that is We the People … are concerned that once the investigation by the esteemed Robert Mueller is complete, we (the People) will not be privy to the results and final report of said investigation.  This, Mr. Barr, is … unthinkable.  Simply put, it will not be accepted by the majority … of We the People.

Since early in 2016, we (the People) knew that something fishy was going on with Trump’s bid for the highest office in the land.  His calls for protestors to be beaten, his chants of “lock her up”, and his brazen calls for violence set our noses to twitching. Then there was the day that, on national television, he called for Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails!  Some people thought it was funny, but to the vast majority of us, it was a defining moment … one that defined Trump as mafia-esque, as a brute.

When the investigation into Russia’s attempts (successful, obviously) to meddle into our election was announced, we all applauded … well, most of us applauded.  Some of those who knew Trump to be a criminal but voted for him anyway kept their hands in their pockets.  And then came the incontrovertible evidence that some in Trump’s inner circle had helped Russia, and we were … what?  Appalled?  Certainly.  Horrified?  Without a doubt.  Pleased?  Yes, even that, for if it would lead to the downfall of the Idiot-in-Chief, it was worth having been played for fools.Robert-MuellerRobert Mueller is the person most qualified to have led this investigation.  He is a man of good conscience (a word vastly misunderstood in the Trump administration), and a man of ethics.  Personal feelings aside, we knew from the start that he could be trusted to do the right thing.  For nearly two years we have patiently waited.  As I often told friends who wanted to rush the process … it is a very tangled web and it will take time to sort through all the filthy filaments.  And so … we waited … mostly with patience, for the outcome would surely justify the wait.

But today, we are in doubt whether we will ever know the truth.  Why?  Because it is said that you may or may not allow us (that’s We the People to you) to know the full truth.  Or even part of the truth.  Let me make something perfectly clear to you, Mr. Barr … We the People will settle for nothing less than the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth!  The ‘man’ who sits in the Oval Office is a shyster, a crook!  We all know this, but what we need is verification to convince the not-so-bright among us.  You know it too, but you … well, you owe your job to that ‘man’, so your view is not without prejudice, is it?  That said, though you may owe Donald Trump for your job, your allegiance, lest you have forgotten, is to We the People, not to the faux president who occupies the Oval Office.

We (the People) demand a full accounting.  We demand to know what Robert Mueller has found – every last dirty detail of it.  We demand truth and justice.  If we don’t get it … if you withhold certain facts and evidence from us (that’s us, as in We the People), there will be a hue and cry, the likes of which have not been seen in this nation since, perhaps, the Vietnam War. For there is no longer a nation if Donald Trump remains in office.  If you withhold Robert Mueller’s report from us, then there is no longer a Department of Justice, by the very definition of the word, “justice”.

We have heard that you are a good man, an intelligent man, and that you can be trusted to do the right thing.  When you declared that you might not be willing to share the results of the Mueller investigation with us (the people), my level of trust in you dropped quite significantly, and I think I can say the same for a majority of the people.  Make it right, Mr. Barr.  Do the right thing.  Remember the Constitution that you swore to uphold.  Remember the people who work hard every day to pay your salary.  Restore our trust, not only in you, but in the laws of this nation, in truth and justice, for that trust has been gone for more than two years now and if this nation is to survive, the people must be able to trust their government.  Restore that trust, please, else suffer the consequences along with the rest of the dirty blokes in Washington.  We the People have had enough.

Sincerely,

Jill Dennison, on behalf of We the People

Against All Advice …

What happens when you are ignorant of a certain situation, yet you make a decision that will impact the lives of millions, and nearly 100 well-informed, well-educated, highly-knowledgeable people tell you that you are wrong?  Do you listen to what they say and perhaps alter your decision?  Or do you tell them to sit down and shut up, and proceed down a destructive path?  Depends on who you are.  If you are a wise person, a thinker, you listen, and you ask questions and you re-evaluate your position.  If, however, you are Donald Trump, you throw the wizards overboard and give the order for “full steam ahead!”, even though the iceberg looms larger and larger.

Ten days ago, Don Trump declared a “state of national emergency”, even as he admitted that there is no emergency, that he could have attempted to go through legal channels, but he wanted to do it faster. He. Wanted. And now, he intends to divert funds that are needed for the safety and well being of the people of this nation to build a wall that wiser men know is not necessary and that almost nobody in the country wants.

Today, a group of 25 former republican members of Congress published an open letter appealing to Congress to block Trump’s intent to act against the Constitution and against the people of this nation.

Also today, a bipartisan group of 58 former senior national security officials issued a statement saying that “there is no factual basis” for President Trump’s proclamation of a national emergency to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.  There is no factual basis.  It is a figment of Trump’s imagination.  It is a waste of our precious resources.  It is an ego trip.

Last Monday, a coalition of sixteen states filed a lawsuit to block Trump’s plan to build a border wall without permission from Congress, arguing that the president’s decision to declare a national emergency is unconstitutional.  The states that are participating in the lawsuit are:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Virginia

If your state isn’t listed here, you need to get in touch with your governor and let him know in no uncertain terms that he needs to take this seriously and join this coalition.

Tomorrow, the House will vote on a resolution to block Trump’s declaration.  The vote is almost certain to pass the House, which will force the Senate to bring it to a vote within 18 days.  If the Senate fails to vote to block the declaration, then shame on the Senate and every senator who votes ‘nay’ must be voted out of office at the earliest possible date.  Trump has forcefully declared that he will veto the measure, but with a 2/3 majority, any veto can be overridden.  At the very least, it sends a message that his decision is NOT what the people of this nation need or want.

But back to the statement by the 58 former national security officials.

“Under no plausible assessment of the evidence is there a national emergency today that entitles the president to tap into funds appropriated for other purposes to build a wall at the southern border.”

These are people who know what they are talking about.  They are people who have been responsible for the safety and well-being of the nation.  They are people educated and with experience in the area of national security.  And they see no reason to declare a state of emergency.  The little boy, Donnie, has cried “Wolf!” one time too many.

In addition to Madeline Albright, other signers include such highly respected dignitaries as Eliot A. Cohen, State Department counselor under President George W. Bush; Thomas R. Pickering, President George H.W. Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations; John F. Kerry, Obama’s second secretary of state; Susan E. Rice, Obama’s national security adviser; Leon E. Panetta, Obama’s CIA director and defense secretary; as well as former intelligence and security officials who served under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Among other things, they said, illegal border crossings are at nearly 40-year lows. Undetected unlawful entries at the U.S.-Mexico border decreased from 851,000 to nearly 62,000 between 2006 and 2016, they said, citing Department of Homeland Security statistics.  They also argue that redirecting money pursuant to the national emergency declaration “will undermine U.S. national security and foreign policy interests.”

Donald Trump’s background is in television and building hotels and casinos.  Nothing … nothing in his experience has prepared him to make the decisions he is making as he sits in the Oval Office.  He has not the background, the knowledge, nor the understanding to make such decisions.  Further, he has chased off the advisors who did have the ability to advise him wisely and replaced them with people who pander to his ego.  It has been repeatedly reported that he does not read and he does not listen to those with more knowledge than he.

If 58 chefs tell a novice cook not to use rotten milk else it will spoil the pudding, the cook darn well better listen!  This ‘chef’ is blind, deaf and dumb, yet he is making decisions that will affect the lives of over 300 million people!  It is past time for Congress to act to stop this madness!