Ulcer-Inducing Mini Rants

Tonight’s min-rants have me growling, my ulcer flared up, and I will probably need a few hours of winding down before I can sleep.  But, rather than jump straight into a rant, let’s start out with something I found at least mildly humorous …


A bit of humour …

One of my many daily newsletters had this paragraph in talking about the comparison between the former guy and the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, affectionately called BoJo in the UK …

There’s been talk about how Biden and Johnson — whom the President’s predecessor referred to as “Britain Trump” — won’t get on. After all, Johnson, like the 45th US President, is a populist who won power by courting blue-collar grievance, had an itinerant love life, a distant acquaintance with the truth and a blond edifice on his head that defies gravity. 

That last part about the hair especially made me laugh.  At least, though, Boris doesn’t wear ugly orange makeup!  And … he can speak in full sentences … I’ve HEARD HIM!


Where did she get her medical license?

Sherri Tenpenny is allegedly a medical doctor based in Cleveland, Ohio, though if she does, in fact, have a license to practice medicine it should be immediately revoked.  She is known for her anti-vaccination campaigns and conspiracy theories and in May she put out a video claiming that the Covid vaccine would cause infertility in males and birth defects in a fetus if the mother received the vaccine.  She claimed this is all linked to a conspiracy by “the globalists and the de-population eugenicists, the stated Satanists who are out to destroy the world”.  I wonder if she’s been hanging out with ol’ Margie Greene?  Why would a doctor … someone the public is supposed to be able to trust, tell her patients bald-faced lies?   But wait, you haven’t heard the latest.

For some reason that I will never understand, this fruitcake was invited to testify as an “expert” witness Tuesday to a hearing in the Ohio House Health Committee in regards to a bill that would prevent businesses or the government from requiring proof of vaccination.  Her testimony was bizarre, to say the least, as she claimed that the vaccine turns people into magnets …

“I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures all over the Internet of people who have had these shots and now they’re magnetized. They can put a key on their forehead. It sticks. They can put spoons and forks all over them and they can stick, because now we think that there’s a metal piece to that.”

Gee … I scan the internet 12 hours or so every day and not once have I seen a person with keys or silverware attached to them!  In fact, having recently received my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, I decided to try this at home.  Nope, the butcher knife did not stick to me, though it did almost cost me a toe or two as it fell rapidly to the floor!  If you live in or around Cleveland, Ohio, please stay as far away from this quack as possible!  Meanwhile, I am writing to the State Medical Board to request that her license to practice medicine be immediately revoked … she’s a bigger nutcase than even Rand Paul!

Tenpenny also vaguely suggested that somehow the vaccine interfaces with 5G towers (those cellular towers that everyone seems to have some conspiracy theory about).  Now, you and I can blow this woman off, see her for the psycho that she is, but apparently Ohio legislators aren’t as intelligent as we are, for there was almost no pushback against her lunatic ramblings.  In fact, Representative Jennifer L. Gross, a nurse who co-sponsored the bill, told Tenpenny …

“What an honor to have you here.”

Say WHAT???  I’m moving out of this damn state!!!  My daughter’s company has its headquarters in New York … perhaps she can request a transfer!

It should come as no surprise to learn that Tenpenny is an anti-vaxxer who authored a book titled “Saying No to Vaccines” in 2008.  What does come as a surprise is that she’s still allowed to practice medicine.  And you wonder why I have a difficult time trusting the medical community?  Here we are trying to convince people to get the vaccine so that we can all be safer and freer, and this loon is perpetuating all these frightening lies to people who probably believe her and will continue being a walking germ tree.


What are they teaching their children?  What is this nation becoming?

People all across this nation and around the globe have found the brutal murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin to be a horrific crime.  We have all mourned Mr. Floyd’s death, it has led to massive rallies by Black Lives Matter groups, and there has been nothing even remotely humorous about it.  Until three high school boys … racist juveniles … thought it would be funny to re-enact the murder.

It happened at Mead High School in Longmont, Colorado when a trio of male students there published an image of them re-enacting Floyd’s murder in the school’s parking lot last month. Two of them had their knees on their classmate’s neck and back. The teen who was supposed to be Floyd was in blackface and lying motionless on the ground.  “Bye bye senoirs [sic],” the caption read, with a hand-waving emoji to the class of 2021.  They cannot even f*cking spell the word ‘seniors’ and they are in high school doing this disgusting, criminal sort of thing!

What the hell sort of values are we teaching our children?  Apparently in Longmont, Colorado, parents are teaching them to be racist jerks!  Just yesterday morning I wrote about young people seeing a need and reaching out, starting charities to help people, and now THIS!

To their credit, most students were sickened and outraged by the episode, and some claimed there has long been a culture of racism at the school.  The school’s principal of the last 12 years, Rachael Ayers, resigned as a result.

Folks … this story has literally made me ill.  I hold the parents of these three teens responsible for failing to even attempt to teach them values or kindness to others.  If we, as a nation, continue to allow these sort of incidents, then we are signing the death warrant of the nation.  The three students were each suspended from school for five days … big fat deal … they probably enjoyed those five days, rather than seeing them as punishment.  At the risk of sounding radical, I would like to see every parent of these three in jail for 50 days each and then forced to attend parenting classes, for they’ve obviously got it all wrong!


I’ll end as I began, with a bit of (dark) humour …

Snarky Legal Snippets …

I’m afraid I’m in a bit of a rant-y mode tonight.  I sometimes wonder what it would be like to be a judge and hear some of the garbage excuses people come up with for the evil they do, but … no way I could do that job!  I’d be leaping over the desk and bashing heads in!


They let one of the terrorists skate!  WHY???

Federal prosecutors have dropped the case against one Christopher M. Kelly, a New York man who participated in the attack on Congress and the Capitol on January 6th.  The charges were obstructing an official proceeding, aiding and abetting, violent entry and disorderly conduct, and unlawful entry to restricted buildings or grounds.  Additionally, the FBI says that Kelly used a Facebook account to inform “associates” that he had breached the Capitol and was inside the building. Two days before the attack, he told another Facebook user that he planned to be in Washington “with ex NYPD and some proud boys.”

U.S. Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui agreed to dismiss the case against Kelly after prosecutors said in a court filing on Tuesday that they discussed the merits of the case with Kelly’s lawyer and decided that ending the prosecution “serves the interests of justice” based on “the facts currently known to the government.”  No further elaboration was forthcoming.

Now, I want to trust the government again now that we have a president and his cabinet whom I can once again trust.  But … I find this dismissal sans explanation to be highly questionable.  Twice, prosecutors have postponed preliminary hearings, saying there were ongoing plea deal negotiations taking place.  Then on the eve of the rescheduled court date on Wednesday, prosecutors announced that they would move to “dismiss the complaint without prejudice, and end this matter.”  Dismissing it without prejudice gives prosecutors an opportunity to refile charges at a later date, if they decide to do so.  And assuming that at that point they are able to find Mr. Kelly who, unless I miss my guess, will conveniently disappear.

On December 28th, prior to the attacks, Kelly posted on Facebook …

“‘When good men do nothing, evil triumphs. Evil, sin and sinful men must be opposed. God commands those who are good, not just to avoid evil but actively oppose it.’ Where will you be on 1/6?”

He considers himself a ‘good man’???  Sounds like a freak to me!  Read on …

On January 6th, once inside the Capitol, Kelly wrote on a group chat …

“We’re in!  Taking this back by force now, no more bs. Tear gas, police, stopped the hearing, they are all headed to the basement. Fuck these snakes. Out of OUR HOUSE!”

Christopher M. Kelly, January 6th, 2021

I don’t know about you, but to me these do not sound like the words of an innocent man who should be allowed his freedom without penalty!  It seems to me that at the very least, We the People whose freedom was damn near destroyed on that day deserve some explanation for the dismissal of this case.  Are there others who will just walk away without paying a price?  I want justice, I want every single person who entered the Capitol during that attack to spend time in prison!


Probation???  I think not!

Yesterday, prosecutors filed a sentencing memo in the conviction of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who brutally murdered George Floyd, an unarmed Black man.  The prosecutors have asked for a 30-year sentence … one that I believe is entirely fair, given the fact that George Floyd’s death sentence at the hands of Chauvin’s knee is a life sentence.

Chauvin’s attorney, naturally, disagrees as I would expect him to.  I would expect him to try paring the sentence down to 5 years, 10 years, but Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, is asking for Chauvin to not serve a single day in prison, but rather to be given probation!  Say WHAT???  Says Nelson …

 “Mr. Chauvin’s offense is best described as an error made in good faith reliance his own experience as a police officer and the training he had received — not intentional commission of an illegal act.  A stringent probationary sentence with incarceration limited to time served would achieve the purposes of the sentence in this case.”

Bullshit!  For nearly ten minutes, Derek Chauvin kneeled on Mr. Floyd’s neck, listening to his gasps, his cries of “I can’t breathe”, heard him call out for his mother, watched him die.  Yes, Mr. Chauvin had a smirk on his face as he … WATCHED. HIM. DIE.  That is no “error in judgment”, that is murder.  No, probation is NOT good enough.  Chauvin is a murderer who killed Mr. Floyd because his skin was Black.  Period.  I sincerely hope the judge in the case sends him upriver for the full 30 years with no room for early release.


Stand Your Ground … against an iguana???

PJ Nilaja Patterson was arrested in Lake Worth, Florida last September on charges that he brutally beat and murdered an iguana.  The animal died as Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control was transporting it to be euthanized, so serious were its injuries.

Last week, Patterson’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the charge.  On what grounds, you might ask?  Florida’s ‘stand your ground’ law that states deadly force can be used if a person “reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm.”  Bullshit!  This is the same law that enabled George Zimmerman to skate free after brutally murdering a black teen, Trayvon Martin.  The iguana in this case was no more likely to kill Mr. Patterson than unarmed Trayvon Martin was to kill Zimmerman!

The story the lawyers tell is that their client was trying to save the iguana from getting run over by cars. When he brought it to safety, a crowd agitated the animal and it bit his right arm when he tried to move it, so he kicked it as far as he could kick.  Patterson’s attorneys said the animal was the first to engage in aggression, so Patterson had a right to defend himself …

“In this case, Patterson acted in a reasonable manner under all the circumstances because the wild iguana was first to engage with physical violence, during the encounter.”

Um, excuse me but an iguana is not versed in the ways of human laws, in what is ‘socially acceptable behaviour’.  The iguana was no doubt frightened and acted as any animal cornered will act.  Fortunately, Judge Jeffrey Gillen has better sense than Patterson or his attorneys and he rejected the motion last Friday.  Patterson will be back in court on July 30th. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted of animal cruelty.  I hope he serves every single day of those five years!


And to lighten the mood, just a couple of ‘toons …

Jacob Blake … SAY HIS NAME, DAMMIT!

A man named Jacob Blake was trying to break up an argument between two women on Sunday.  Someone had called the police, and when they arrived, Blake left the women to the police to sort out and headed back to his vehicle where his three young sons awaited patiently in the back seat.  But, instead of breaking up the fight between the women, police zeroed in on Mr. Blake … and as he opened the door to his SUV and started to get in, they shot him in the back … seven times!!!

Seven times they shot a man … an unarmed man … in front of his children!!!  A man who had committed no crime, had no weapon, wasn’t even acting in any suspicious manner! Jacob-BlakeAsk not why there are protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where the shooting took place!  The only reason I’m not calling it a murder is that by some miracle, Mr. Blake survived and is currently in serious condition at a Milwaukee hospital.  If he dies, this will have been a murder … in cold blood.  If he dies, the Kenosha police department will owe those three little boys a debt that they can never repay.  And whether he lives or dies, this is but the latest in a string of unarmed black people being shot by police in just the past few months … just one more incidence of the systemic racism that is rampant in police departments across the U.S.

  • Breonna Taylor – March 13th – murdered by police in her own bed after police used a battering ram to break down the door.  They had a warrant … for someone else who was not, and had never been, in Ms. Taylor’s apartment in Louisville, Kentucky.
  • George Floyd – May 25th – murdered in cold blood by one police officer, while three others looked on in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
  • Rayshard Brooks – June 12th – murdered by police for the crime of having a bit too much to drink and falling asleep in his car at the Wendy’s drive-thru lane in Atlanta, Georgia.

And these are only the high-profile ones, the ones we’ve heard about in the last five months.  So no, don’t you dare respond to someone saying that Black Lives Matter with your pathetic “All lives matter”, for that is a slap in the face to Ms. Taylor, Mr. Floyd, Mr. Brooks, and Mr. Blake, their families, and every one of us who care about these people.  Don’t you dare make excuses for police departments that tolerate racism among their ranks.  Don’t you dare support people who come out of their homes pointing guns at peaceful protestors who are trying to make their voices heard.  And if you support the racist, race-baiting white supremacist who sits in the Oval Office, then don’t you dare speak to me!

Angry???  Hell yes, I’m angry!  I’ve been in tears all evening, I want to tear someone’s head off!  I hate the racism, the bigotry in all forms, that has become the very definition of the United States.

The officers who shot Mr. Blake, by the way, have been placed on “administrative leave” … why were they not fired?  Why are they on “administrative leave”, still receiving their salary, when they are guilty of nothing less than attempted murder?  These officers were not wearing body cameras, however there was a bystander filming the attempted murder with his cell phone, and that video went viral.  If it hadn’t, would we have even heard of the attempted murder of Jacob Blake?  I wonder.  As Eugene Robinson wrote in The Washington Post  …

“The video doesn’t show all of what happened before Blake headed for the car, and it’s shot from a distance. But what it reveals is enough. Without this cellphone clip, I’m guessing the police report would have spoken of “noncompliance” and “resisting arrest” and some sort of “threatening move” — and that, without evidence to the contrary, Blake might have been filed away as just another Black man who got what he undoubtedly deserved.

There’s a pattern here: Floyd was suspected of passing a fake $20 bill, and he paid with his life. Brooks fell asleep in a Wendy’s drive-through, and he paid with his life. Taylor was just sleeping in her own home, and she paid with her life.

Officials in Kenosha County declared a state of emergency Sunday night. But for African Americans, the emergency is permanent — and it threatens our lives.”

My friends … our country is no longer one in which we can or should take pride.  It is a broken country, one that only works for the wealthy and those with white skin.  The rest of us … are expendable.  Tonight at the Republican National Convention, Mike Pence told cheering supporters, “We will always stand with the men and women who serve on the thin blue line of law enforcement. We’re going to back the blue.”  And reading in between the lines … “To hell with the Blacks, the Hispanics, the Native Americans, the Middle-Easterners …”  The biggest crime in our nation, it would seem, is not colluding with a foreign power, is not shooting someone with an AR-15, is not robbing a bank, is not lying to the American people … the biggest crime is simply being Black.

Tonight, I debate whether it is worth staying here and fighting this fight.  I suppose November 3rd will answer that question, but frankly, if I had the chance to put the United States behind me tomorrow and never return, I would gladly say “goodbye”.

Some Republicans Leaving The Trumptanic

Donald Trump is a frustrated ‘man’.  He thinks he should have won a Nobel Peace Prize, mainly because he is jealous that President Obama won one in 2009.  Only four U.S. presidents have ever won the Nobel Peace Prize, and Trump is about as far away from one as anybody I can imagine.

And then, there is the fact that his ugly mug will never be carved into the side of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, though he has long said he would like to see that happen.  He has illusions of grandeur that are just that … illusions.

And, of course, there is the fact that his poll numbers are tanking and the only way he’s going to win in November is “by hook or by crook”.  Even life-long republicans are stepping back from Trump.  The New York Times recently interviewed some republicans in swing states who enthusiastically voted for Trump in 2016 but either aren’t sure if they will this November or else are sure they won’t vote for Trump again.

Take, for example, Judith Goines of Fayetteville, North Carolina …

“I think if he weren’t such an appalling human being, he would make a great president, because I think what this country needs is somebody who isn’t a politician. But obviously with the coronavirus and the social unrest we’re dealing with, that’s where you need a politician, somebody with a little bit more couth. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve voted for him.”

Or Robert Kaplan of Racine, Wisconsin …

“He said he was going to, quote unquote, drain the swamp, and all he’s done is splashed around and rolled around in it.”

It appears that about 14% of those who voted for Trump in 2016 are less certain this time around.  6% say they don’t support Trump but say there’s “some chance” of voting for him again.  Some 2% claim not to support Trump, and don’t know if they will vote for him again.  Then there is the 6% who say there is “not really any chance” of supporting Trump.  The number of defectors is small, yes, and he still has a rabid base who will vote for him no matter what, but it is encouraging to see that some of those who voted for him last time are not so sure this time.

Many of those interviewed said they initially voted for him because he was a businessman, not a politician, and specifically because he was not Hillary Clinton.  But they largely say they have soured on his handling of the presidency. Several mentioned his divisive style and his firing of officials who disagreed with him, and especially his response to the coronavirus and to the unrest in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in police custody.

The majority of them are not yet willing to commit to backing Joe Biden … that would be a stretch … but would likely just stay home on election day.  Take John Crilly, of Reeders, Pennsylvania, who voted not so much for Trump as against Clinton …

“What changed my mind? 120,000 deaths. He refused to realize, ‘Oh my god, there’s a virus coming our way; shouldn’t we do something, guys?’ Covid was the turning point. It’s the thing that touches home with everybody.”

Crilly says he cannot bring himself to vote for Biden, largely because of his age, but will write-in a local candidate’s name.  Then there’s Ariel Oakley of Grand Rapids, Michigan, who says she will vote for Joe Biden …

“With coronavirus, even just watching the press conferences, having him come out and say it’s all fake. I have family who have unfortunately passed away from it.”

Trump’s blatant racism in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder by police has cost him votes, as well.  Kelvin Pittman II of Jacksonville, Florida, is an African-American who voted for Trump in 2016, because “he was a great businessman.”  Pittman himself owns a small business and thought Trump would be the best option.  But now, in light of Trump’s response to Black Lives Matter protests and calling the movement a “symbol of hate” …

“It was kind of the last straw. It was like, this dude is just in it for himself. I thought he was supposed to be for the people.”

And others say it’s his personality that has turned them off.  I find this one confusing because his personality showed through loud and clear throughout his campaign in 2015-2016 … could they not see then that he was a bully when he told campaign workers to “beat up” protestors, and called his opponent at least 100 different ugly names?

The aforementioned Robert Kaplan, who voted for Trump mainly because he wanted ACA (Obamacare) abolished, says he was disappointed from the start …

“He’s an embarrassment. He’s like a little kid with a temper tantrum when he doesn’t get things to go his way. He’s very punitive — if you disagree, he fires you. He disrespects very good people in Washington trying to do some good. And I think it’s very disrespectful of the office to be tweeting all the time.”

The article in the Times is worth the read and has a number of polling charts showing what people like the least about Trump.  In all, I predict with 90% certainty that Trump will, once again, lose the popular vote.  However, my bigger concern at this point is the bag of tricks the GOP is using and will use to attempt an electoral win, but that is a topic for another day.  I’m just encouraged at the moment to see that some who voted for Trump last time have finally “seen the light”.

Inhumanity

I know the majority of people in this … or any nation … are decent human beings who care about the planet, wildlife, and their fellow humans.  At least … I hope that’s still the case.  But those ‘bad apples’ sure do stink and they seem to be everywhere you look!  The latest example that slapped me across the face this morning was this one …bitch-womanThis woman was part of a counter-protest during a Black Lives Matter event in Branson, Missouri, on Sunday.  Okay, the confederate flag is offensive enough, but we’re used to the fools waving those things around. And the maga hat … it doesn’t even offend anymore … it is a joke.  It was what she screeched at the Black Lives Matter protestors that caused my jaw to drop …

“I will teach my grandkids to hate you all!”

Then she got to her feet with her Confederate flag and screamed, “suck on this.”  What sort of human being does this?  What is our society turning into?  I think some people in this nation have taken their 1st Amendment ‘rights’ just a bit too far!  Frankly, if I had been there, I likely would have lit fire to her damn rebel flag.  Rebellion is one thing … hate is quite another.

So, this woman will teach her grandchildren to hate black people.  Just when we think we’re making progress, that perhaps we can finally begin to end racism in this country, we have people teaching the youngest among us to hate … to hate only because of the colour of another’s skin.  How, then, can we ever end racism?  It is being passed down from one generation to the next by narrow-minded, arrogant, ignorant people.

On Sunday, days after NASCAR announced the banning of the confederate flag at their events, a noose was found in Bubba Wallace’s garage stall at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.  Wallace is the only full-time black NASCAR driver and a supporter of Black Lives Matter.  A noose.  The symbol of lynchings.  Why?  Because his skin is black, because some of those southern ‘good ol’ boys’ are angry at the banning of their symbol of slavery, the confederate flag.

I sit here looking out my window, watching the neighbor’s two dogs playing in the yard.  One is chestnut brown, the other dappled grey, and yet … they are equal.  They have fun together, they live together, share the same food dishes, and snif each other’s butts with never a care for the colour of their fur.  Not long ago, I saw a story of a dog who raised a kitten … not only was their fur a different colour, but they were of two different species … yet it did not matter to them.  Humans believe that they are the highest of all species, that their opposable thumbs and larger brains make them somehow superior.  I don’t think so.

Babies are not born hating.  Go visit a playground … notice that all the children play together … black, brown, white … it doesn’t matter to them.  But as they grow into adults, they are either taught that all people are equal and should be judged only on behaviour, not skin colour, not gender, not who their ancestors were, or else they are taught to hate.  They are taught to hate those perceived as “other”, just as that grandmother in Branson is teaching her grandchildren.  And 20 years from now, one of her grandchildren may become that cop who shoots and kills an unarmed black man … just because he can.

Where does it end, folks?  In the 1960s, I thought it was ending.  It wasn’t, it only became unpopular to express bigoted viewpoints, so people kept their opinions largely to themselves, else aired them only among those who they knew shared their views.  And in the past few weeks, since the brutal murder of George Floyd, with Civil War monuments coming down, protests gaining momentum, and calls for major changes in law enforcement, I once again thought that perhaps we were making some progress.  And perhaps some of us are, but as long as there are people who value their icons of slavery, who believe that people of colour are somehow inferior, we’re not going to end racism.  I think, well … the older generation will die out and the young people today are smarter, more compassionate.  But … not if they’re taught to hate.

Our friend Keith wrote a post a week or so ago titled, “Bad Apples Will Spoil the Bunch”.   How many ‘bad apples’ like the grandmother in Branson, like the person who put the noose in Bubba Wallace’s garage stall, are there among us?  How many more will they infect with their hideous disease?  Racism is a disease far more lethal than the coronavirus, for it is passed down from one generation to the next, and there will never be a vaccine.

The Week’s Best Cartoons: Black Lives Matter

I haven’t done a cartoon post for a couple of months. The political cartoons today are darker, more brooding … but then, so is our nation. Today, though, I am ready for a break from my usual fare … the snarky & angst need to rest for just a minute. So … today I am sharing TokyoSand’s weekly cartoon roundup. The ‘toons sometimes speak louder than words. Thank you, TS!

Political⚡Charge

By Steve Breen, San Diego Union Tribune

Here’s how some of the nation’s best editorial cartoonists covered the Black Lives Matter protests. I hope you’ll let me know which ones you found to be the most powerful.

Black Lives Matter

By Scott Stantis, Chicago Tribune

By Steve Breen, San Diego Union Tribune

By Kevin Necessary

By Michael de Adder

By Matt Davies, Newsday

The Protests

By Serge Birault

By Matt Davies

By Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune

By Ann Telnaes, Washington Post

By Daryl Cagle

By Clay Jones

By Darrin Bell, King Features syndicate

By Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Trump Responds

By Lalo Alcaraz

By Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

By Clay Jones

By Monte Wolverton

By Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

By Ann Telnaes, Washington Post

By Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News

By Steve Breen, San Diego Union…

View original post 66 more words

89 Former Defense Officials Speak

The following is a letter published in The Washington Post yesterday, written and signed by 89 former Defense officials.  The letter speaks for itself …


President Trump continues to use inflammatory language as many Americans protest the unlawful death of George Floyd and the unjust treatment of black Americans by our justice system. As the protests have grown, so has the intensity of the president’s rhetoric. He has gone so far as to make a shocking promise: to send active-duty members of the U.S. military to “dominate” protesters in cities throughout the country — with or without the consent of local mayors or state governors.

On Monday, the president previewed his approach on the streets of Washington. He had 1,600 troops from around the country transported to the D.C. area, and placed them on alert, as an unnamed Pentagon official put it, “to ensure faster employment if necessary.” As part of the show of force that Trump demanded, military helicopters made low-level passes over peaceful protesters — a military tactic sometimes used to disperse enemy combatants — scattering debris and broken glass among the crowd. He also had a force, including members of the National Guard and federal officers, that used flash-bang grenades, pepper spray and, according to eyewitness accounts, rubber bullets to drive lawful protesters, as well as members of the media and clergy, away from the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church. All so he could hold a politically motivated photo op there with members of his team, including, inappropriately, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Looting and violence are unacceptable acts, and perpetrators should be arrested and duly tried under the law. But as Monday’s actions near the White House demonstrated, those committing such acts are largely on the margins of the vast majority of predominantly peaceful protests. While several past presidents have called on our armed services to provide additional aid to law enforcement in times of national crisis — among them Ulysses S. Grant, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson — these presidents used the military to protect the rights of Americans, not to violate them.

As former leaders in the Defense Department — civilian and military, Republican, Democrat and independent — we all took an oath upon assuming office “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” as did the president and all members of the military, a fact that Gen. Milley pointed out in a recent memorandum to members of the armed forces. We are alarmed at how the president is betraying this oath by threatening to order members of the U.S. military to violate the rights of their fellow Americans.

President Trump has given governors a stark choice: either end the protests that continue to demand equal justice under our laws, or expect that he will send active-duty military units into their states. While the Insurrection Act gives the president the legal authority to do so, this authority has been invoked only in the most extreme conditions when state or local authorities were overwhelmed and were unable to safeguard the rule of law. Historically, as Secretary Esper has pointed out, it has rightly been seen as a tool of last resort.

Beyond being unnecessary, using our military to quell protests across the country would also be unwise. This is not the mission our armed forces signed up for: They signed up to fight our nation’s enemies and to secure — not infringe upon — the rights and freedoms of their fellow Americans. In addition, putting our servicemen and women in the middle of politically charged domestic unrest risks undermining the apolitical nature of the military that is so essential to our democracy. It also risks diminishing Americans’ trust in our military — and thus America’s security — for years to come.

As defense leaders who share a deep commitment to the Constitution, to freedom and justice for all Americans, and to the extraordinary men and women who volunteer to serve and protect our nation, we call on the president to immediately end his plans to send active-duty military personnel into cities as agents of law enforcement, or to employ them or any another military or police forces in ways that undermine the constitutional rights of Americans. The members of our military are always ready to serve in our nation’s defense. But they must never be used to violate the rights of those they are sworn to protect.

Leon E. Panetta, former defense secretary

Chuck Hagel, former defense secretary

Ashton B. Carter, former defense secretary

William S. Cohen, former defense secretary

Sasha Baker, former deputy chief of staff to the defense secretary

Donna Barbisch, retired major general in the U.S. Army

Jeremy Bash, chief of staff to the defense secretary

Jeffrey P. Bialos, former deputy under secretary of defense for industrial affairs

Susanna V. Blume, former deputy chief of staff to the deputy defense secretary

Ian Brzezinski, former deputy assistant defense secretary for Europe and NATO

Gabe Camarillo, former assistant secretary of the Air Force

Kurt M. Campbell, former deputy assistant defense secretary for Asia and the Pacific

Michael Carpenter, former deputy assistant defense secretary for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia

Rebecca Bill Chavez, former deputy assistant defense secretary for Western hemisphere affairs

Derek Chollet, former assistant defense secretary for international security affairs

Dan Christman, retired lieutenant general in the U.S. Army and former assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

James Clapper, former under secretary of defense for intelligence and director of national intelligence

Eliot A. Cohen, former member of planning staff for the defense department and former member of the Defense Policy Board

Erin Conaton, former under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness

John Conger, former principal deputy under secretary of defense

Peter S. Cooke, retired major general of the U.S. Army Reserve

Richard Danzig, former secretary of the U.S. Navy

Janine Davidson, former under secretary of the U.S. Navy

Robert L. Deitz, former general counsel at the National Security Agency

Abraham M. Denmark, former deputy assistant defense secretary for East Asia

Michael B. Donley, former secretary of the U.S. Air Force

John W. Douglass, retired brigadier general in the U.S. Air Force and former assistant secretary of the U.S. Navy

Raymond F. DuBois, former acting under secretary of the U.S. Army

Eric Edelman, former under secretary of defense for policy

Eric Fanning, former secretary of the U.S. Army

Evelyn N. Farkas, former deputy assistant defense secretary for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia

Michèle A. Flournoy, former under secretary of defense for policy

Nelson M. Ford, former under secretary of the U.S. Army

Alice Friend, former principal director for African affairs in the office of the under defense secretary for policy

John A. Gans Jr., former speechwriter for the defense secretary

Sherri Goodman, former deputy under secretary of defense for environmental security

André Gudger, former deputy assistant defense secretary for manufacturing and industrial base policy

Robert Hale, former under secretary of defense and Defense Department comptroller

Michael V. Hayden, retired general in the U.S. Air Force and former director of the National Security Agency and CIA

Mark Hertling, retired lieutenant general in the U.S. Army and former commanding general of U.S. Army Europe

Kathleen H. Hicks, former principal deputy under secretary of defense for policy

Deborah Lee James, former secretary of the U.S. Air Force

John P. Jumper, retired general of the U.S. Air Force and former chief of staff of the Air Force

Colin H. Kahl, former deputy assistant defense secretary for Middle East policy

Mara E. Karlin, former deputy assistant defense secretary for strategy and force development

Frank Kendall, former under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics

Susan Koch, former deputy assistant defense secretary for threat-reduction policy

Ken Krieg, former under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics

William Leonard, former deputy assistant defense secretary for security and information operations

Steven J. Lepper, retired major general of the U.S. Air Force

George Little, former Pentagon press secretary

William J. Lynn III, former deputy defense secretary

Ray Mabus, former secretary of the U.S. Navy and former governor of Mississippi

Kelly Magsamen, former principal deputy assistant defense secretary for Asian and Pacific security affairs

Carlos E. Martinez, retired brigadier general of the U.S. Air Force Reserve

Michael McCord, former under secretary of defense and Defense Department comptroller

Chris Mellon, former deputy assistant defense secretary for intelligence

James N. Miller, former under secretary of defense for policy

Edward T. Morehouse Jr., former principal deputy assistant defense secretary and former acting assistant defense secretary for operational energy plans and programs

Jamie Morin, former director of cost assessment and program evaluation at the Defense Department and former acting under secretary of the U.S. Air Force

Jennifer M. O’Connor, former general counsel of the Defense Department

Sean O’Keefe, former secretary of the U.S. Navy

Dave Oliver, former principal deputy under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics

Robert B. Pirie, former under secretary of the U.S. Navy

John Plumb, former acting deputy assistant defense secretary for space policy

Eric Rosenbach, former assistant defense secretary for homeland defense and global security

Deborah Rosenblum, former acting deputy assistant defense secretary for counternarcotics

Todd Rosenblum, acting assistant defense secretary for homeland defense and Americas’ security affairs

Tommy Ross, former deputy assistant defense secretary for security cooperation

Henry J. Schweiter, former deputy assistant defense secretary

David B. Shear, former assistant defense secretary for Asian and Pacific security affairs

Amy E. Searight, former deputy assistant defense secretary for South and Southeast Asia

Vikram J. Singh, former deputy assistant defense secretary for South and Southeast Asia

Julianne Smith, former deputy national security adviser to the vice president and former principal director for Europe and NATO policy

Paula Thornhill, retired brigadier general of the Air Force and former principal director for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs

Jim Townsend, former deputy assistant defense secretary for Europe and NATO policy

Sandy Vershbow, former assistant defense secretary for international security affairs

Michael Vickers, former under secretary of defense for intelligence

Celeste Wallander, former deputy assistant defense secretary for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia

Andrew Weber, former assistant defense secretary for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs

William F. Wechsler, former deputy assistant defense secretary for special operations and combating terrorism

Doug Wilson, former assistant defense secretary for public affairs

Anne A. Witkowsky, former deputy assistant defense secretary for stability and humanitarian affairs

Douglas Wise, former deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency

Daniel P. Woodward, retired brigadier general of the U.S. Air Force

Margaret H. Woodward, retired major general of the U.S. Air Force

Carl Woog, former deputy assistant to the defense secretary for communications

Robert O. Work, former deputy defense secretary

Dov S. Zakheim, former under secretary of defense and Defense Department comptroller

Snarky-Inducing Things On My Radar

You would be surprised if I said I didn’t have any snarkiness built up and just waiting for an outlet, wouldn’t you?  Just when we think it’s gotten as bad as it can get here in the U.S., fate (or Donald Trump) steps in to prove to us that no, it can get much worse.  Which has me lying awake nights wondering … what’s next?  But, for today, here are a few of the things on my radar …


The press must do better!

I am fully supportive of our free press, I realize that they are the only thing standing between us and a dictatorship, but sometimes I get frustrated with them.  One example … the headline reads:

The president’s convention speech will be moved from Charlotte, N.C., after Republicans clashed with Democrats over virus concerns.

Makes it sound as if it were just more political fighting … democrats vs republicans, round 2,114.  But that was not the case at all!  North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper refused to allow a full-fledged, packed stadium style convention to take place in light of the precautions the state is taking due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Yes, Governor Cooper is a democrat, but his decision was not an attempt to stifle the Republican National Convention on political grounds, but rather to protect the people of his state.  That is, after all, his job!

Now, the republican leadership and Donald Trump may choose to view it as a political move, but the free press should be neutral, should be above the petty grievances of political parties.  I am disgusted and disappointed that the New York Times stoops to such cheap tactics.  Governor Cooper did offer a compromise, a smaller convention with safety measures in place, but Trump and the GOP said, “All or nothing at all.”  So fine, let them have it elsewhere — it looks like Florida’s Governor DeSantis is eager to invite more coronavirus cases to his state.  North Carolina may lose a bit of bar and restaurant revenue, but they may also save a heck of a lot of lives.  Thumbs up to Governor Cooper!


One bit of good news …

Representative Steve King of Iowa has been on my radar for several years.  He is a blatant racist and doesn’t care who knows it.  He even earned the Idiot of the Week award back in 2017.

In the past year or so, his rhetoric has become even more offensive, so much so that last year his own party stripped him of all his committee assignments.  But on Tuesday, Steve King got what he deserved!  He lost the Iowa primary by ten points to his contender, Iowa State Senator Randy Feenstra.

King claims that his loss came from an effort to “push out the strongest voice for Christian conservatism”.  He then went on to claim that the “spirit of America is being fractured by anarchists in this country.”  Yep, he’s still as much an idiot as he was in 2017!

Thumbs up to the people of Iowa for finally removing this ugly racist wart from our Congress!


Another good bit of news …

Donald Trump has been throwing his weight around (and there surely is a lot of it to throw around!) these past few days, and one of his threats has been to send the military into our cities to quell the protests, most of which are peaceful, that are a response to the continual racism in this nation.  Turns out that his Defense Secretary, Mark Esper, doesn’t agree with him.  Esper actually found his cojones and said in no uncertain terms that he opposes sending active-duty troops into U.S. cities to deal with violent protesters.

“The option to use active-duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire situations. We are not in one of those situations right now.  I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”

Is it possible that even some of Trump’s sycophants are beginning to see what sort of tyrant they’ve aligned with?  We can only hope.


About damn time …

Finally, more than a week after the brutal murder of George Floyd by police in Minnesota, the other three officers involved who stood watching while Derek Chauvin choked Mr. Floyd to death, have been charged with “aiding and abetting murder.”  The three former officers are Thomas Lane, 37, J. Alexander Kueng, 26, and Tou Thao, 34.  Thus far, Thao is the only one who has been arrested, though there are warrants out for Kueng and Lane.

Tou Thao has faced six prior misconduct complaints in his career with the Minneapolis Police Department. He also was the subject of a lawsuit that claimed he and another officer punched, kicked and kneed an African-American man, leaving the man with broken teeth and bruises.

In addition to the charges against the three, charges against Chauvin were upgraded to 2nd degree murder on Wednesday, charges that carry a potential maximum sentence of 40 years.  I really hope he serves every single day of those 40 years.  And, since these are not federal charges, Trump won’t be able to pardon him!


And speaking of pardons …

On Tuesday, Charlie Kirk, the founder of the conservative group Turning Point USA, wrote on Twitter (do any politicians actually communicate in more than 280 characters anymore?):

“Roger Stone will serve more time in prison than 99% of these rioters destroying America All because he supports Donald Trump. This isn’t justice. RT for a full pardon of Roger Stone!”

Trump went on to share the tweet Thursday morning, writing in his own accompanying message:

“No. Roger was a victim of a corrupt and illegal Witch Hunt, one which will go down as the greatest political crime in history. He can sleep well at night!”

roger-stoneRoger Stone … a lifelong criminal with a list of crimes longer than my arm, can sleep well at night as Trump will pardon him, ensuring he doesn’t pay for his crimes. Meanwhile the rest of us lie awake worrying about the state of our nation with a madman at the helm.  See the irony here?


TrumpThe answer is “EVERYTHING!”

♫ A Change Is Gonna Come ♫

Sam CookeThis one was never a #1 hit, maybe some of you have never even heard it before, but in light of the recent murder by police of George Floyd and the blatant racism we see by our own elected officials, I felt this was a very appropriate song to share.  I do hope you will spend the 3 minutes to listen … it is poignant, moving.

The song was inspired by various personal events in Cooke’s life, most prominently an event in which he and his entourage were turned away from a whites-only motel in Louisiana. Cooke felt compelled to write a song that spoke to his struggle and of those around him, and that pertained to the Civil Rights Movement and African Americans.

On October 8, 1963, en route to Shreveport, Louisiana, Cooke called ahead to the Holiday Inn North to make reservations for his wife, Barbara, and himself, but when he and his group arrived, the desk clerk glanced nervously and explained there were no vacancies. While his brother Charles protested, Sam was fuming, yelling to see the manager and refusing to leave until he received an answer. His wife nudged him, attempting to calm him down, telling him, “They’ll kill you,” to which he responded, “They ain’t gonna kill me, because I’m Sam Cooke.” When they eventually persuaded Cooke to leave, the group drove away calling out insults and blaring their horns. When they arrived at the Castle Motel on Sprague Street downtown, the police were waiting for them, arresting them for disturbing the peace.

Upon hearing Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” in 1963, Cooke was greatly moved that such a poignant song about racism in America could come from someone who was not black, and was also ashamed he had not yet written something like that himself. However, his image and fears of losing his largely white fan base prevented him from doing so. Cooke loved the song so much it was immediately incorporated into his repertoire.

Many others, including Aaron Neville and Patti LaBelle have recorded this song, but … well, it belongs to Sam Cooke, so without further ado …

A Change Is Gonna Come
Sam Cook

I was born by the river in a little tent
Oh and just like the river I’ve been running ev’r since
It’s been a long time, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

It’s been too hard living, but I’m afraid to die
‘Cause I don’t know what’s up there, beyond the sky
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

I go to the movie and I go downtown
Somebody keep tellin’ me don’t hang around
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

Then I go to my brother
And I say brother help me please
But he winds up knockin’ me
Back down on my knees, oh

There have been times that I thought I couldn’t last for long
But now I think I’m able to carry on
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Sam Cooke
A Change Is Gonna Come lyrics © Abkco Music, Inc

Voice Of Wisdom — Barack Obama

The people living in the United States have no leader, the country is a rudderless ship adrift in a very stormy sea.  But one man stands out, his words are wise and offer real solutions, and today I would like to share with you those words, the words of a true leader, President Barack Obama …


How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change

Barack Obama

Barack-Obama

As millions of people across the country take to the streets and raise their voices in response to the killing of George Floyd and the ongoing problem of unequal justice, many people have reached out asking how we can sustain momentum to bring about real change.

Ultimately, it’s going to be up to a new generation of activists to shape strategies that best fit the times. But I believe there are some basic lessons to draw from past efforts that are worth remembering.

First, the waves of protests across the country represent a genuine and legitimate frustration over a decades-long failure to reform police practices and the broader criminal justice system in the United States. The overwhelming majority of participants have been peaceful, courageous, responsible, and inspiring. They deserve our respect and support, not condemnation — something that police in cities like Camden and Flint have commendably understood.

On the other hand, the small minority of folks who’ve resorted to violence in various forms, whether out of genuine anger or mere opportunism, are putting innocent people at risk, compounding the destruction of neighborhoods that are often already short on services and investment and detracting from the larger cause. I saw an elderly black woman being interviewed today in tears because the only grocery store in her neighborhood had been trashed. If history is any guide, that store may take years to come back. So let’s not excuse violence, or rationalize it, or participate in it. If we want our criminal justice system, and American society at large, to operate on a higher ethical code, then we have to model that code ourselves.

Second, I’ve heard some suggest that the recurrent problem of racial bias in our criminal justice system proves that only protests and direct action can bring about change, and that voting and participation in electoral politics is a waste of time. I couldn’t disagree more. The point of protest is to raise public awareness, to put a spotlight on injustice, and to make the powers that be uncomfortable; in fact, throughout American history, it’s often only been in response to protests and civil disobedience that the political system has even paid attention to marginalized communities. But eventually, aspirations have to be translated into specific laws and institutional practices — and in a democracy, that only happens when we elect government officials who are responsive to our demands.

Moreover, it’s important for us to understand which levels of government have the biggest impact on our criminal justice system and police practices. When we think about politics, a lot of us focus only on the presidency and the federal government. And yes, we should be fighting to make sure that we have a president, a Congress, a U.S. Justice Department, and a federal judiciary that actually recognize the ongoing, corrosive role that racism plays in our society and want to do something about it. But the elected officials who matter most in reforming police departments and the criminal justice system work at the state and local levels.

It’s mayors and county executives that appoint most police chiefs and negotiate collective bargaining agreements with police unions. It’s district attorneys and state’s attorneys that decide whether or not to investigate and ultimately charge those involved in police misconduct. Those are all elected positions. In some places, police review boards with the power to monitor police conduct are elected as well. Unfortunately, voter turnout in these local races is usually pitifully low, especially among young people — which makes no sense given the direct impact these offices have on social justice issues, not to mention the fact that who wins and who loses those seats is often determined by just a few thousand, or even a few hundred, votes.

So the bottom line is this: if we want to bring about real change, then the choice isn’t between protest and politics. We have to do both. We have to mobilize to raise awareness, and we have to organize and cast our ballots to make sure that we elect candidates who will act on reform.

Finally, the more specific we can make demands for criminal justice and police reform, the harder it will be for elected officials to just offer lip service to the cause and then fall back into business as usual once protests have gone away. The content of that reform agenda will be different for various communities. A big city may need one set of reforms; a rural community may need another. Some agencies will require wholesale rehabilitation; others should make minor improvements. Every law enforcement agency should have clear policies, including an independent body that conducts investigations of alleged misconduct. Tailoring reforms for each community will require local activists and organizations to do their research and educate fellow citizens in their community on what strategies work best.

But as a starting point, here’s a report and toolkit developed by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and based on the work of the Task Force on 21st Century Policing that I formed when I was in the White House. And if you’re interested in taking concrete action, we’ve also created a dedicated site at the Obama Foundation to aggregate and direct you to useful resources and organizations who’ve been fighting the good fight at the local and national levels for years.

I recognize that these past few months have been hard and dispiriting — that the fear, sorrow, uncertainty, and hardship of a pandemic have been compounded by tragic reminders that prejudice and inequality still shape so much of American life. But watching the heightened activism of young people in recent weeks, of every race and every station, makes me hopeful. If, going forward, we can channel our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action, then this moment can be a real turning point in our nation’s long journey to live up to our highest ideals.

Let’s get to work.