A Bit More Snark …

It is a sign of the times that I cackle with glee upon hearing Republican Senator Ben Sasse say of Trump’s latest round of executive orders …

“The pen-and-phone theory of executive lawmaking is unconstitutional slop.”

Way to go, Ben!!!

Earlier today, I wrote about these executive orders and “presidential” memorandums, but I failed to comment on the venue in which Trump put his scrawl to paper to sign these dictums. Typically, he signs such things in the Oval Office with smiling sycophants gathered ‘round for the photo op, but this time, he chose to take his little show to his luxury golf club in New Jersey. Well-heeled members gathered with wine but without much social-distancing or mask wearing in the ornate ballroom to cheer his action … an action that is, as Senator Sasse said, ‘unconstitutional slop’.  But, what’s new, right?

In other news … yet another mass shooting, this one in Southeast Washington D.C.  As of this writing, at least 21 people were shot, a 17-year-old is dead, and a police officer is fighting for her life in the hospital.

From The Washington Post

“D.C. police said at least three shooters opened fire from different locations at the gathering in the 3300 block of Dubois Place, in the city’s Greenway neighborhood, at about 12:30 a.m. Victims scattered over several blocks, creating a sprawling crime scene. Police found about 170 bullet casings.

Sunday’s shootings came three weeks after nine people were shot in front of a restaurant on 14th Street in Columbia Heights in Northwest. That shooting on the afternoon of July 19 left one of the victims dead.

More than 115 people have been slain in the District this year, a 17 percent increase over this time in 2019, which ended the year with a decade high. Those killed include an ­11-year-old boy shot at a stop-the-violence cookout on the Fourth of July and a 71-year-old shot while protecting her granddaughter.

Remember that surge in gun sales I told you about in the early days of the pandemic?  No surprise, then, that those guns are being put to use, is it?  Trump claimed to be so concerned about Portland that he felt the need to send militia in to harass citizens and terrorize the city … maybe he should be looking to clean up his own backyard first.

If you want to keep your job in the Trump administration, you must be willing and able to lie, lie, and then lie some more.  This is why the men and women of good conscience have left the administration and what remains is the dregs.  One area in which this is most glaringly obvious is the intelligence community where Dan Coats, former Director of National Intelligence, was fired last year for refusing to cover up the fact that Russia did and continues to wreak havoc in our elections.

Since that time, numerous officials have come and gone, and the intelligence community as a whole is in danger of becoming a Trump parrot.  I would like to direct your attention to a piece published yesterday in the New York Times Magazine about Trump’s attempts to politicize intelligence — in particular by preventing the intelligence community from speaking honestly about Russian attacks on our elections.  It is a lengthy and chilling article, but one I think is imperative to read and comprehend.  An excerpt …

“The options faced by the intelligence community during Trump’s presidency have been stark: avoid infuriating the president but compromise the agencies’ ostensible independence, or assert that independence and find yourself replaced with a more sycophantic alternative.”

Since day #1, Trump has attempted to deny Russia’s assistance in his 2016 election, even though there has been incontrovertible evidence.  Today, with the 2020 election less than three months away, Russia is even harder at work, has more at stake.  According to William Evanina, a career law enforcement official who was chosen by Trump as director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, in a statement issued on Friday …

“Russia continues to spread disinformation in the U.S. that is designed to undermine confidence in our democratic process and denigrate what it sees as an anti-Russia ‘establishment’ in America.  Russia is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President Biden … some Kremlin-linked actors are also seeking to boost President Trump’s candidacy on social media and Russian television … pro-Russia Ukrainian parliamentarian Andriy Derkach is spreading claims about corruption — including through publicizing leaked phone calls — to undermine former Vice President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party.”

November’s election is our last, best hope for maintaining or regaining some semblance of a democratic nation.  Donald Trump cannot win honestly, so as is his modus operandi, he will lie, cheat and steal to maintain his power.  This does not come as a surprise, except, perhaps, in knowing the lengths he has already gone to in order to strip our intelligence communities of their ability to do their job to protect the people of this nation.  I hope you will take a few minutes to read this chilling article.

Fresh Off The Snarky Press …

Okay, friends, I am having a case of snark overload tonight so hold on to your hats.

He can’t do that … except he did it anyway

“Our Constitution doesn’t authorize the president to act as king whenever Congress doesn’t legislate.” – U.S. Representative Justin Amash

When Congress was unable to resolve their trillion-dollar differences over a pandemic relief bill before the weekend break, Donald Trump decided to take matters into his own hands, bypass Congress, and dictate law via executive order and “presidential” memorandums.  For the record, he does not have the constitutional right to do this.  Period.  And what he has done will no doubt be challenged in the courts first thing Monday morning.  However, lest you think he was attempting to do something good for the people of this nation, think again.  Let’s look at just one of the four elements of his dictums.

He would cut payroll taxes through the end of the year.  And he proclaimed that if he is re-elected, he will make the payroll tax cut permanent.  This move fails … fails miserably … to help any but the wealthy.  Payroll taxes are paid by the employee and matched by the employer.  HOW, then, does this help the unemployed???  Hint:  it cannot and does not.  Now, if you’re the average worker, this might actually save you $5-$6 per week, but it will save your employer hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of a year. But more importantly … understand what those payroll taxes fund … they fund Social Security and Medicare!  So, you save a few bucks a week, and when you retire in a few years, perhaps you’ll get enough in Social Security to buy a loaf of bread and a bag of dried beans each month!

Trump has long wanted to cut Social Security and Medicare but was stymied in his efforts.  So, he obviously sees the deadlock in Congress as his opening to do the dirty deed and make it appear that he is helping people in this time of crisis.  For the record, when Trump demanded this payroll tax cut be included in the relief bill, both democrats and republicans rejected the notion.  Finally, something both parties could agree on!

The real tragedy here is that so many have failed to educate themselves or to listen to the experts, to pay attention to the facts, that they are likely to fall hook, line, and sinker for Trump’s spin on this.  Once again, his ‘policies’, if they can be called such, will hurt the average person, help only the wealthy, and yet his base will praise him for helping them.

None of the dictums he signed are likely to fly, however his base will give him kudos for trying, and his wealthy donors will cheer in hopes of seeing their own fortunes grow even more.  That was all he really wanted anyway … something to bring his sagging poll numbers up.  If he cared one whit about the people of this country, he would not have run for president in the first place.

Friday night massacre …

“America is in a dead sprint to authoritarianism. The man is pulling out all the stops to prevent the citizens of this country from holding a legitimate election in which he might face removal from office.” – Walter Shaub, former head of the Office of Government Ethics

I recently wrote about Louis DeJoy, Trump’s recent appointee to the position of Postmaster General, who has begun the destruction from within of the United States Postal Service.  On Friday night, DeJoy took another step, firing or ‘reassigning’ some 23 postal executives and a number of other staffers within the USPS in what has been dubbed a ‘Friday night massacre’.

Earlier on Friday, more than 80 members of Congress sent a letter to DeJoy expressing “deep concerns” about operational changes he has made for mail carriers that have delayed deliveries and lowered standards.  And now, he has effectively expelled the very people who had experience within the USPS, centralizing power around himself … a man with zero experience within the postal service and whose only qualification for the position was the major donations he has contributed to both Donald Trump and the GOP.  The letter reads, in part …

“It is vital that the US Postal Service not reduce mail delivery times, which could harm rural communities, seniors, small businesses, and millions of Americans who rely on the mail for critical letters and packages. Eliminating overtime and directing postal workers to leave mail on the floor of postal facilities will erode confidence in the Postal Service and drive customers away, resulting in even worse financial conditions in the future.”

The United States postal service has never been more critical than it is today, for a number of reasons.  In this time of a major pandemic where more than a thousand people are dying every single day, many of us rely on the USPS for timely delivery of life-saving medications.  Twice in the past month I have experienced serious delays in receiving such medications.  And of equal importance, due to the pandemic, a large portion of the people in this nation plan to rely on voting by mail in November’s election, which means we must be able to trust the USPS to do its job in an efficient and timely manner.  The way things are right now, it wouldn’t surprise me if Mr. DeJoy announced on October 25th that the USPS would be taking a ten-day break, shutting down completely until after the election.  “Not possible,” you say?  Really?  Think about that one for a bit … how many things were unthinkable 4 years ago that have since come to pass?

I have still more, but I will save it for this afternoon’s post.  Until then …


Never-Ending Snarky Snippets

snarky-4I just can’t seem to tamp down the snark these days … every time I see any news, it raises the hackles and the snark just rolls out.  Today is no exception, and the three four stories below are only the tip of the iceberg.

The purpose of an executive order is not to bypass Congress, though Trump is not the first ‘president’ to use them as a tool to accomplish their goals without the muss & fuss of waiting for congressional action.  Trump has abused the power many, many times, and is planning to do so again this week.

According to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows …

“We’re going to get them done when Congress couldn’t get them done.  The interesting thing is this president will do more in the next four weeks than Joe Biden and his team did in the last 40 years. So, you just need to stay tuned.”

Somehow, this raises red flags, especially that last sentence … it sounds rather like a threat to me.  Rumour has it that the latest batch of executive orders will involve China, immigration, and prescription drugs.

Meadows also said, in the same interview on Fox & Friends, that Trump was right when he claimed that the coronavirus is ‘mostly harmless’.  Without actually presenting any data, Meadows claimed the data shows that for 99% of people, the virus is not harmful.  Hmmm … I wonder why, then, there have been more than a half-million deaths worldwide, 133,000 here in the U.S.?

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could actually trust our ‘leaders’, if every utterance by Trump & Co didn’t send up red flags?  Sigh.toon-1

Could it be that Trump and Fox are headed for a divorce?  Trump claims he’s done with Fox and urges his base to switch to OAN.  OAN stands for One America News, however it is anything but a news network … it is a right-wing propaganda network, pure and simple.  So, what led to this breakup?

On Sunday, Fox presented the results of their latest polls, showing Trump still trailing Joe Biden.  As usual when a network says something Trump doesn’t like, it is labeled ‘fake news’ by him.  In this case, he claimed he was leading in “real polls” but did not cite any such ‘real’ polls.

“@FoxNews gladly puts up the phony suppression polls as soon as they come out. We are leading in the REAL polls because people are sick & tired of watching the Democrat run cities, in all cases, falling apart. Also, now 96% Approval Rating in the Republican Party. Another 2016!”

Um, Donnie?  You might want to double check those numbers.  You are trailing Biden in every legitimate poll, and the 96% republican approval rate you cite is way off base.  Last I heard, it was around 85%, with only 57% of republicans saying they strongly approve of the job you’re doing.  And you wonder why we don’t believe a word you say.

At any rate, the switch to OAN doesn’t trouble me overly much, for they do not have nearly the exposure nor the credibility that Fox has (not that Fox has much credibility, either).  Most people never even heard of OAN until a couple of months ago when they started replacing Fox as Trump’s new love interest.

You may remember the controversy over the Dakota Access Pipeline?  The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have opposed the pipeline for years, saying it endangers Lake Oahe, a reservoir on tribal land that the pipeline passes under.  Today, Judge James Boasberg for the U.S. District Court District of Columbia ruled that the Dakota Access pipeline must be emptied and shut down while the Army Corps of Engineers conducts the environmental impact review that it should have completed before it granted an easement that allowed Energy Transfer Partners to build the pipeline bringing North Dakota crude oil to Illinois in the first place.  The judge gave ETP 30 days, until August 5th, to shut it down and empty it completely.  The environmental review is expected to take approximately 13 months.

And in other pipeline news, another highly controversial pipeline, the Atlantic Coast pipeline, has been canceled after numerous lawsuits by environmental groups had kept the project in limbo for nearly six years.  Duke Energy and Dominion Energy said that lawsuits had increased costs to as much as $8 billion from the $4-5 billion initially projected.  The project would have crossed the Appalachian Trail, a historic 2,190-mile hiking trail.

So, score two for the environment this week!

We are personae non grata, and rightly so.  Our failure to take the needed precautions to tamp down the coronavirus has led to a steep escalation in new cases, and last week, the EU announced it would not accept travelers from the U.S.  Canada had already closed their borders to us, and the UK is likely to follow suit.  And now … Mexico!  This is the ultimate irony, after Trump has spent nearly four years trying to ban Mexicans from coming into the U.S.  This is what I call poetic justice!toon-3The town of Sonoyta, just across the border from Lukeville, Arizona, has blocked the border from the U.S. due to growing concern about the surge of cases of the virus in Arizona. Sonoyta Mayor José Ramos Arzate issued a statement Saturday “inviting U.S. tourists not to visit Mexico,” and that people from the United States should only be allowed in “for essential activities, and for that reason, the checkpoint and inspection point a few meters from the Sonoyta-Lukeville AZ crossing will continue operating.”

Good for you, Mayor!  It was the right decision … but I’m beginning to feel a little trapped.  If the election should go wrong on November 3rd, and we all feel like leaving the country, will there be anyplace left where we would be welcomed? toon-2

Two Things To Ponder …

The United States, like every other Western government, has numerous laws to protect the people living in this country.  Or perhaps I should re-phrase that to say, “had numerous laws …”.  Rules and regulations … some grow outdated over time and need to be revised or scrapped, but most exist for a reason.

Take, for example, the rule that requires commercial truck drivers to take a 30-minute break after 8 hours of consecutive driving.  Makes sense, right?  You’ve probably taken driving trips and you know how tired your eyes get, how you rather zone out after staring at mile after mile of Interstate highway.  Well, that rule is gone now, as is the one that capped a trucker’s workday at 14 hours, with only 11 hours behind the wheel.  Suspended, because Trump wants truckers moving goods as fast as possible, and so what if a few million lives are put in danger by a trucker falling asleep at the wheel?  I will no longer drive on the Interstate highway, knowing that the big rig beside me may be driven by a zombie who has been on the road for 20 hours without sleep.

Yesterday in my snarky snippet post I wrote about Trump removing the requirement for environmental reviews on infrastructure projects such as oil and gas pipelines, highways and fossil fuel export terminals.  But those are not the only environmental regulations he has quietly trashed, using the coronavirus and the economy as his excuse.  Two weeks ago, he signed an executive order instructing agencies across the government to rescind, modify or simply stop enforcing regulations if they burden the economy.

The regulatory rollbacks covered in this executive order are supposed to be temporary, just a brief relief to help get the economy rolling again, but one White House source says that Trump intends to make them permanent.  He signs an executive order and then conveniently forgets about it, as do we, since we are bombarded on a daily basis with so many piss-poor decisions and actions on his part.  Out of sight, out of mind.  Until people start dying.

Under his executive order …

  • The federal consumer watchdog agency suspended requirements that financial institutions investigate disputed information on consumers’ credit reports.
  • The Labor Department relaxed some worker protections, including how businesses report paid sick leave.
  • The Food and Drug Administration cut the time it takes to approve new antimicrobial products from years to months.

And do you remember the financial crisis of 2007-2008?  It was caused by deregulation in the financial industry.  Now, the Federal Reserve has lowered the amount of capital a bank must hold … a key safeguard against a repeat of the Great Recession.  The rule change “will provide flexibility” so banks can “provide credit to households and businesses in light of the challenges arising from the coronavirus response.”  Until the banks over-extend themselves and come crying for another federal bailout, and working people lose most of their 401(k)s.

What’s next?  Will regulations on worker safety be disregarded, exposing factory workers to unsafe conditions?  Will food safety regulations be scaled back?  I just don’t know what else Trump has in mind, but I do know that he is concerned only with his re-election, and he sees a thriving economy as crucial to that effort.  For my part … I will not buy one damned thing I don’t absolutely need.  There is a right way and a wrong way to revive the economy … putting lives and the environment in danger is the wrong way.

I’m rapidly losing respect for most politicians, but there is one who I really like and admire … Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser!   In fact, I would love to give this woman a huge hug!

Muriel-BowserHer first run in with Donald Trump came in the summer of 2018 when Trump had decided to honour himself with a military parade, after attending the Bastille Day Parade in Paris the prior year.  It was a stupid idea to begin with, but … well, Trump is the master of stupid ideas.  Mayor Bowser informed him that the cost of local security and logistics would come to a whopping $21.6 million.  Trump, of course, threw one of his Twitter tantrums …

“The local politicians who run Washington, D.C. (poorly) know a windfall when they see it. When asked to give us a price for holding a great celebratory military parade, they wanted a number so ridiculously high that I cancelled it.”

Of course, the $21.6 million price tag was only a part of the estimated $92 million (of our money) for the entire show.  Mayor Bowser, unlike some politicians in Congress who I will not name, was not intimidated …

“Yup, I’m Muriel Bowser, mayor of Washington DC, the local politician who finally got thru to the reality star in the White House with the realities ($21.6M) of parades/events/demonstrations in Trump America (sad).”

But this week, she has been put to the test by Trump’s imposition of martial law in D.C., and she passed the test with flying colours!  In a letter to Trump on Thursday, she said …Bowser-letter

And when asked about Trump’s little photo op stunt earlier this week, where peaceful protestors were attacked by officers using tear gas, flash grenades and other weapons just so that Trump could put on a show of walking to a church and holding up a bible, Mayor Bowser responded with calm …

“I can say this … I don’t think that the military should be used on the streets of American cities against Americans, and I definitely don’t think it should be done for a show.”

Isn’t it refreshing to hear a simple, calm statement … no facial contortions or hand gyrations, no yelling or ranting, just a statement, calm and intelligent.  Donald Trump and many others could and should take lessons from this woman!

But the coup de grâce came yesterday when Mayor Bowser renamed the street in front of the White House “Black Lives Matter Plaza” and emblazoned the slogan in massive yellow letters on the road.blm-streetScore one … no wait, score two for Mayor Muriel Bowser!

Executive Power …

More than a few times over the past year or so, people have tried to assure me that there are limits to what Trump can do, that the Constitution, Congress, and the Courts will stop him from going too far, and all will be well.  It is true that the Constitution defines and limits the power of the office of president … except in certain circumstances.  And Congress has a large degree of control … if they can agree to agree on anything and if the issue at hand cannot be done by executive order.  And the Courts can intervene … but there are levels within the court system leading up to the Supreme Court – the one that Trump is stacking with his and the Federalist Society’s hand-picked justices.

On a Friday afternoon in July 2016, a faction of the Turkish military launched a coup attempt allegedly aimed at toppling President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government.  Although Turkey is considered a democracy and Erdoğan was democratically elected, he was and is clearly a threat to Turkish democracy and secularism.  As leader of the AKP Islamist party, Erdoğan had ‘reformed’ Turkish schools along Islamist lines, cracked down on freedom of the press, and pushed constitutional changes that would consolidate dangerous amounts of power in the president’s hands.

It has been my belief since the beginning that Erdoğan himself played a leading role in staging the coup.  If so, to what end?  To give him the justification to declare a ‘state of emergency’ that would increase the powers of his office.  As part of the state of emergency, Turkey temporarily suspended part of the European Convention on Human Rights.  The initial state of emergency was for three months, but in October 2016, it was extended to be for a year, and the following year it was again extended, and was only lifted in July 2018, after new elections that gave Erdoğan greatly expanded powers.  During that time, there was an extensive purge of the Turkish civil service employees, with more than 45,000 military officials, police officers, judges, governors, and civil servants arrested or suspended, including 2,700 judges, 15,000 teachers, and every university dean in the country.  Turkish authorities said the crackdown was meant to “suppress dissent”.  journalists-TurkeyAccording to Amnesty International, detainees in Turkey have been denied access to legal counsel, have been beaten and tortured, and have not been provided with adequate food, water, or medical care.

Now tuck into the back of your mind for a bit the fact that Donald Trump made the decision, without consulting Congress, without consulting his military and foreign affairs advisors, without consulting our allies, to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria based on a telephone conversation with Erdoğan.  Consider how much Trump admires those ‘strong-arm’ leaders such as Erdoğan, Putin, and even the Philippine’s Rodrigo Duterte.  Ever since he took office, Trump has chafed against the constraints of the office, believing that as president his powers ought to be unlimited.

Fast forward … it is rumoured that Robert Mueller will complete his investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. 2016 presidential election, and the Trump family/campaign role in such interference around mid-February.  While that is strictly rumour at this point, the timing makes sense.  What do you think will happen if, as I firmly believe, Mueller has evidence that Trump’s family with Trump’s knowledge, and perhaps even Trump himself were involved in underhanded dealings to influence the outcome of the election? Trump-angry What if it is proven that Trump broke the trust of his office?  No doubt impeachment proceedings would begin in the democratic-majority House of Representatives.  Given what we know about Trump and his erratic temperament, what is your best guess about his reaction?  Think he’ll just sit down and shut up?  Yeah, right.  If you believe that, please contact me, for I have a lovely bridge in Brooklyn that I’ll sell you dirt-cheap.

Fast forward even more … the year is 2020 and the election for which Trump has been campaigning for four years is rapidly approaching.  And yet … Trump is not winning any popularity contests … his temper tantrums are no longer playing well among his masses, in light of the financial recession caused largely by his tariffs and by the chaos he wrought at the end of 2018 by shutting the government down needlessly while demanding billions of dollars for his ignominious border wall.  Trump is not being supported by the majority of the GOP in Congress, and the Republican Party is lukewarm about his re-election bid, at best.  trump-tantrumThink he’s going to just put his nose to the grindstone, do the best job he can while trying to win over the masses with his honesty and integrity?  Again … see above comment about my bridge.

Not quite two years into his term of office, Donald Trump has signed …

  • 86 Executive orders
  • 42 Presidential memoranda
  • 12 Presidential determinations
  • 01 Administrative order
  • 22 Presidential notices
  • 01 Presidential sequestration order
  • 07 National security presidential memoranda

Can’t you just hear him saying, “nyah nyah nyah nyah-nyah”?

None of these required the advice and consent of Congress.  Many were to overturn regulations that were in place to safeguard our health and safety.  Others were simply to exert his power.  None, as far as I can tell, were in our collective best interest.

Back now to 2019 when impeachment is looming, or 2020 when an election looms large.  What does Trump do?  Does he follow the example of his buddy Erdoğan and create a diversion that will allow him to declare a ‘state of emergency’?  Oh yes, he most certainly can do that, and with little or no reason.  The decision to declare a ‘state of emergency’ is entirely within his discretion, and it makes more than 100 ‘special provisions’ available to him.  The framers of the Constitution never in their wildest dreams imagined a Donald Trump, never believed the nation would need to be protected from its own leader.

What, then, could happen if, say to detract from impeachment proceedings, Trump declared a state of emergency?  Worst case scenario, he could shut down electronic communications.  He could freeze the bank accounts of those he believed to be subversive.  He could disperse troops within the country to subdue domestic unrest, ie., legitimate protests.  And the list goes on.state-of-emergencyIt is not my intent to fear-monger … I don’t play Trump’s games.  It is, however, my intent to proclaim that the time is now to rein in this president.  Now, before it becomes impossible, is the time to set limits on the ‘executive authority’ that the Founding Fathers never thought would be necessary.  When the 116th Congress is seated next Thursday, one of the first orders of business, besides getting the government open without giving in on “the wall”, should be to set limits on what the president can and cannot do without the consent of Congress.

Personally, I would like to see strict guidelines for declaring a state of emergency, and a very narrow interpretation of what he can or cannot do under such a state.  He must not be allowed to shut down the internet, the only means many of us have of getting news of national and world events.  He must not be allowed to stifle the freedom of the press or our First Amendment rights of free speech.

There have been situations before where a president overstepped the reasonable limits of his power and Congress or the Courts stepped in, such as the Youngstown Steel case in 1952 where President Truman attempted to take over the steel plants, but the Supreme Court said, “no”.  But with Donald Trump the bully in office, I don’t think we can assume that he would be easily stopped from assuming far greater power than he should have, and it would behoove us to put restraints in place before they are needed rather than wait until it is too late.

No, He Cannot Do That …

“We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years with all of those benefits. It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”

That was what Donald Trump said in an interview with Axios that will be aired this weekend.  Out of the gate, it is a lie, for a large number of countries have similar policies, including our closest neighbors, Canada and Mexico.  Trump is vowing to sign an executive order that would seek to end the right to U.S. citizenship for children born in the United States to non-citizens.  That right, by the way, is protected by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

WHY???  You tell me … is a newborn baby, weighing on average 7 pounds, a rapist, a terrorist, out to murder and pillage, out to take the jobs that most U.S. citizens don’t want anyway?  Is he a threat to our lives or our economy?  No.  Trump speaks of that child born a U.S. citizen as if she will be naught but a drain on the nation’s resources for some 85 years, and yet … she will grow, she will learn, she may someday become the scientist that finds a cure for cancer, or who discovers a way to neutralize CO2 so that it no longer makes our planet uninhabitable.  Or just think … he may grow up to be the brave soul who rescues 100 people from a burning high-rise or stops a gunman from killing 60 people in a mosque.  He may be the teacher who teaches our children to be kinder, gentler people.

“It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t.”

Guess what, Donnie – yes, you do.

He claims that after talking to his “legal counsel”, he believes he can achieve what he wants via executive order.  Would that be Rudy Giuliani, or one of his other paid lackeys, none of whom are Constitutional Law scholars?

Trump’s use of the executive order has bordered on the unconstitutional a few times, but this would be a blatant abuse of his power and would not fare well in the courts.  Even conservative-leaning justices on the Supreme Court, with the possible exception of Trump’s lackey Kavanaugh, would take umbrage with this blatant abuse of power.

Article V of the United States Constitution reads:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

In short, an amendment to the Constitution requires a 2/3 majority of both the House and the Senate … or … a Constitutional Convention whereby 3/4 of the state legislatures (38 states) approve the measure.

Think about this for a minute.  If Trump could simply sign an executive order to deny citizenship to children born in the U.S., what else might he be able to do?  Senator Tim Kaine said …

“The U.S. presidency is not a dictatorship. Patriotic Americans must rally to defeat the President’s unprecedented attempt to rewrite the Constitution on his own.”

He’s right.  The presidency is not a dictatorship, but … if Trump is allowed to get away with this latest plan, it will surely be on the path to becoming one.  What would be next?  Well, let’s see … he has repeatedly vilified the press … so, might he sign an executive order stifling the freedom of the press?  A mandate that every household must have at least one firearm?  A law that calls for schools to be racially segregated?  A decree that only white males can vote? Think about it …

With his vow to end birthright citizenship, guaranteed under Amendment XIV, Trump is once again confirming his intention to stall or roll back the country’s evolving racial and ethnic mix.  His base applauds, for they are 99% white Christians who see their whiteness becoming blended, who see themselves one day being in the minority and fearing that they will be on the receiving end of the treatment they and their ancestors have given to minorities for centuries.

Greg Sargent, writing for The Washington Post, summed it up nicely

“Trump is moving to deny citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants, an obvious bid to further feed this climate of xenophobia and hate. This is the only play Trump and Republicans have left, now that their ideas on taxes and health care have been soundly rejected by voters. And, of course, the end goal of fomenting all this hysteria is to hold Congress, precisely in order to further their regressive, deeply unpopular agenda on both those fronts — and, naturally, to protect Trump from the accountability a Democratic Congress would bring.” 

No, he cannot do that … unless we let him …


All Before Noon!!!

Little Donnie Dark apparently got up on the very wrong side of the bed this morning, for already as of this writing (it is now noon where I live) he has made three horrendous decisions.  Would somebody please tie this ‘man’s hands?

U.S. Withdraws From UNESCO, The U.N.’s Cultural Organization, Citing Anti-Israel Bias

The United States plans to withdraw from UNESCO, citing financial reasons, as well as what it said was an anti-Israel bias at the U.N.’s educational, cultural and science organization. –  October 12 at 10:40 AM

UNESCO was established after World War II to help promote global cooperation around the flow of ideas, culture and information. UNESCO’s mission includes programs to improve access to education, preserve cultural heritage, improve gender equality and promote scientific advances and freedom of expression.

This would not be the first time the U.S. withdrew from UNESCO.  We did so in 1984, under President Reagan when he felt there was pro-Soviet sentiment in the organization. Though most people will shrug their shoulders about this move, it is yet another sign that Trump places no value on international cooperation, human rights and global cohesion.  It is another step toward U.S. isolationism.

Trump Threatens To Abandon Puerto Rico Recovery Effort

Trump served notice Thursday that he may pull back federal relief workers from Puerto Rico, effectively threatening to abandon the U.S. territory amid a staggering humanitarian crisis in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Trump on Thursday sought to shame the territory for its own plight. He tweeted, “Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes.” And he quoted Sharyl Attkisson, a television journalist, as saying, “Puerto Rico survived the Hurricanes, now a financial crisis looms largely of their own making.”

He also wrote: “We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!” –  October 12 at 11:00 AM

Just last week, Pence visited Puerto Rico and promised that the U.S. would be with them “every step of the way”.  The people who live on the island of Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens.  How on earth can anybody with a conscience simply abandon them?  The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote later today on a $36.5 billion disaster aid package that includes provisions to avert a potential cash crisis in Puerto Rico prompted by Hurricane Maria. If it passes, will Trump even sign it? Would Trump similarly abandon the people of Texas and Florida who are also struggling to recover from hurricanes Harvey and Irma?

Foiled in Congress, Trump Signs Order to Undermine Obamacare

President Trump signed an executive order on Thursday that clears the way for potentially sweeping changes in health insurance, including sales of cheaper policies with fewer benefits and fewer protections for consumers than those mandated under the Affordable Care Act.

“With these actions,” Mr. Trump said Thursday, “we are moving toward lower costs and more options in the health care market, and taking crucial steps toward saving the American people from the nightmare of Obamacare.”

“This is going to be something that millions and millions of people will be signing up for,” the president predicted, “and they’re going to be very happy. This will be great health care.”

But most of the changes will not come until federal agencies adopt regulations, after an opportunity for public comments — a process that could take months. – 

Apparently Trump thinks that if Congress won’t legislate his agenda, he can simply bypass them and write his own law.  Trump has decided that he will repeal ACA all by himself.  Fortunately, as stated in the last paragraph of the above excerpt, it is not that simple.

executive orderLook at the above picture … every single one of those people applauding Trump’s signing of the executive order to undermine the health of the citizens of our nation … every single one of them has excellent health insurance, a portion of which We The People pay for.  Think on that one for a minute.

These three decisions before noon today make me wonder what else he plans to destroy by the end of the day.  With the exception of his threats to Puerto Rico, the actions have been in the works for some time, and I realize that he did not just hop out of bed this morning and write executive orders.  But it sure seems like he is on a mission to first isolate our nation, and then destroy it from within.  If he cannot achieve ‘legislative wins’, then he will take matters into his own hands.  Excuse me, but this is not how a democracy works!

I Can’t Believe He Did That!!!

On Friday, with category 4 Hurricane Harvey barreling toward the east coast of Texas, Donald Trump had other things on his mind … following through on his threats … or keeping his promises, depending on where you stand on such things.

The first was the pardoning of racist former sheriff Joe Arpaio from Arizona.  As you may recall, Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt of court for refusing to end illegal racist practices in Maricopa Country during his tenure there.

“Throughout his time as Sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration. Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now eighty-five years old, and after more than fifty years of admirable service to our Nation, he is worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon.” – Donald Trump

The pardon sends a double message.  The first is that racists and bigots need not worry overly much about consequences for their actions as long as Trump is in office.  The second, equally disturbing message, is that he will pardon with impunity, those who he sees as loyal supporters.

Consider, for example, James Fields, who used his car as a weapon of terror in Charlottesville two weeks ago, injuring 19 and killing 34-year-old Heather Heyer.  If he is convicted, as he must be, of murder, will Trump pardon him?  Would we be surprised if he did?

Ultimately, I believe a number of people will be convicted of treason for colluding with Russia in the interference of the 2016 presidential election.  I speculate that some of those people are  very close to Trump, and others may still be loyal followers.  Will Trump simply pardon them, one by one, as they are convicted?  And again, would it surprise us if he did?

The Constitution gives the president nearly unlimited power to grant clemency to people convicted of federal offenses, so Mr. Trump can pardon Mr. Arpaio. But Mr. Arpaio was an elected official who defied a federal court’s order that he stop violating people’s constitutional rights. He was found in contempt of that court. By pardoning him, Mr. Trump would show his contempt for the American court system and its only means of enforcing the law, since he would be sending a message to other officials that they may flout court orders also.New York Times, 26 August 2017

The second thing Trump did on Friday night was to sign yet another of his over-reaching executive orders, this one to follow through on his tweet of a few weeks ago banning transgender individuals from the military.

Last month, in one of his palsied morning blurbs, Trump tweeted …

“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,”

Turned out that “his” generals had neither been consulted nor given an opportunity for  input, as they were caught completely off guard and vowed to make no changes until given a formal directive to do so.  Trump’s executive order was just such a directive:

“Accordingly, by the authority vested in me as President and as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States under the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including Article II of the Constitution, I am directing the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Homeland Security with respect to the U.S. Coast Guard, to return to the longstanding policy and practice on military service by transgender individuals that was in place prior to June 2016 until such time as a sufficient basis exists upon which to conclude that terminating that policy and practice would not have the negative effects discussed above.”

The reasons for this abomination, this reversal of civil rights, are stated in his directive to be the additional medical cost.  I suggest there is a more prevalent, two-fold reason. First, his base of social conservatives has no tolerance for the LGBT community anywhere … not in places of business, not in public restrooms, and not in the military.  Second, and this has been the reason for many, if not most, of his executive orders:  President Obama was the one who took the step to stop discriminating against the LGBT community, and Trump is determined to reverse any and all actions his predecessor took.

Both of these actions, the pardoning of Arpaio and the banning of transgender people from the military, are steeped in controversy and there will be a hue and cry.  It has been suggested by at least one analyst that Hurricane Harvey played right into Trump’s hands, providing cover for these two newsworthy items, giving him the hope that his actions would go largely unnoticed.  In this day of ongoing news coverage, that is not going to happen.  There will be, already is, a storm brewing that has nothing to do with wind and rain, but with truth and justice.

With these two latest decisions, as with most of his executive orders thus far, Trump has grossly abused the power of his office.  He is not the first to pardon someone who did not deserve to be pardoned, but in doing so, he has taken our nation a step backward in civil rights, in human rights, as it were.  The same is true of his transgender ban.  Under the past 50-60 years, this country has made strides in civil rights, in acceptance of ALL humans as equal.  Last night, Donald Trump began chipping away at those rights, and sent a message loud and clear that we cannot trust the person in the Oval Office.  What is next?  For make no mistake … the indignities will not stop here.

And On Holocaust Remembrance Day …

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Those are the words inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty that stands on Liberty Island in New York Harbour.  The Statue of Liberty is a symbol for universal freedom to all United States citizens and the people who visit the country.  The statue has become a representation of global friendship, freedom from oppression and democracy. There are seven spikes on the crown of Lady Liberty, representing the seven seas and the seven continents.



Yesterday, 27 January, was Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day set aside each year to remember and honour the victims of the Holocaust: an estimated 6 million Jewish people, 200,000 Romani people, 250,000 mentally and physically disabled people, and 9,000 homosexual men by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. On that solemn day of remembrance, the president of the United States took a proverbial axe to the Statue of Liberty and at the same time spit in the face of all who fell victim to Adolph Hitler and the Nazis in the last century.

Yesterday, Donald Trump signed another executive order, this one effectively banning all immigrants from the countries of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, all predominantly Muslim nations. One of the tenets of our democracy is that our nation is committed to the principle that each person who wishes to practice their religion be free to do so. This goes for people who practice any religion, and no religion. We do not discriminate against people of ANY religion.  That is a core principle of the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  Yet, Trump claims that while banning all immigrants, special priority will be given for Christians wishing to enter the U.S., while all Muslims will be denied entry. This, a mere eight days after he took an oath whereby he swore to uphold the Constitution. That oath was shredded into millions of pieces yesterday.


Anne Frank Today Is A Syrian Girl

Two Iraqi refugees, one of whom had worked as a US Army interpreter, were in transit to the U.S. when the executive order was signed on Friday and as of this morning were being detained at JFK airport in New York. The former interpreter is fleeing persecution because he aided the U.S.! At least three human rights groups, the National Immigration Law Centre (NILC), the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have announced their intention to file lawsuits.

In addition to the fact that discrimination based on religion is clearly unconstitutional, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 banned all discrimination against immigrants on the basis of national origin.  Trump claims his intent in signing this ‘executive order’ is to prevent terrorism, but frankly the threat of terrorism in the U.S. is very small compared to the threat of crime and murder by gun-toting U.S. citizens. The top 5 nations that are victims of terrorist activity are Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Syria … the U.S. ranks only 34th in terrorist activity worldwide, according to the 2016 Global Terrorism Index Report published by National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START).

Holocaust Remembrance Day, designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005, is on January 27th, marking the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration and death camp, in 1945. Each year, the U.S. president has issued a statement in observance of the day.  In years past, both presidents Bush and Obama issued statements referring to Auschwitz, anti-Semitism, and the murder of six million Jews.  This year, Trump issued a statement that mentioned none of these, but merely noted that ‘innocent’ people died at the hands of the Nazis.  Reaction from the public and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was immediate outrage. Those of us who are of Jewish heritage understand that the reason for this day is to never forget and always remember the atrocities that were committed against people of one specific religion, Judaism.  Not only did Trump completely ignore that, but used this day to legalize atrocities against another religion:  Islam.  I rest my case.

lady liberty cries