🇬🇧 The Brexit Conundrum — Frank’s View

When I first came up with the idea for this project, soliciting guest posts from my readers in the UK and Canada offering their views of what is happening in their countries today, I had no idea it would elicit the wonderful response it has!  I am pleased today to offer another post from a UK reader that offers a slightly different tone and perspective than we have seen in either Roger’s or Colette’s excellent posts.  I don’t know about you guys, but I am learning so much from these posts — and the comments!  Please welcome today Frank Parker, a citizen of the UK living in Ireland.  Thank you, Frank!


Why Brexit is Impossible

My Perspective

I have been a proponent of the European ‘project’ ever since I was old enough to take an interest in national and international politics. I recall the UK’s repeated applications to join what was then the 6-member EEC in the early 1960s, and disappointment at our repeated rejection by France. In 1988 I became a founder member of the Liberal Democrats, having previously been a member of the Liberal Party. I served both parties as a councillor at county and district level. During that time, I had the opportunity to visit some of the EU institutions and to learn something about the way they operate.

Upon retirement, 13 years ago this month, I left the UK and came to live in Ireland. My son, his Irish wife and their daughter were already here. So, I am one of the approximately 3 million UK citizens domiciled in another EU country.

I believe passionately in the ideals that underpin the EU. In the years of the cold war it provided a bastion of political and economic strength against the might of the Soviet Union. Of course, NATO provided the military backing, but economic and political unity were, I believe, key components of the defence of Western civilisation against communism. With the collapse of the Soviet Union it was important that the countries of Eastern Europe, released from the yoke of Russian domination, were welcomed into the EU and provided with the opportunity to realise the benefits of life in a free society.

There is far more, culturally and historically, that unites us than divides us.

We now face new threats, from climate change to the rise of China as a global power. European solidarity therefore remains a priority.

The European Union

The EU is first and foremost an international trading bloc. The Single Market ensures that goods traded between the member nations are produced to an agreed set of standards in circumstances that minimise the exploitation of workers. The Customs Union, by removing tariffs on goods traded between member nations, removes the need for customs barriers at the borders between those nations.

At the same time the UK is able to take advantage of free trade agreements reached between the EU and around 70 other nations in order to trade with them on favourable terms which will need to be renegotiated if the UK leaves.

In common with other members, the UK has secured exemptions from certain of the rules and regulations that enforce these standards. It is not a member of the Eurozone, retaining its own currency. It is not a member of Schengen, a scheme that facilitates visa free travel, residence and work throughout those nations that are signed up to it.

Instead, the UK, as a member of the Single Market, is obliged to permit freedom of movement of people for the purpose of work and education. This does not extend to the automatic right to social welfare payments. The citizens of one-member nation, whilst resident in another, must be economically self-supporting. If, after a reasonable period, they have not found a job they are obliged to leave. The UK government chose not to enforce this aspect of the legislation which many UK citizens were, and, it seems, still are unaware of.

Similarly, when Eastern European nations became members there was a transition period during which existing members were permitted to control the number of workers they accepted from those nations. Again, the UK government chose not to apply those controls, probably under pressure from business sectors, such as agriculture and hospitality, that saw an opportunity to exploit the availability of comparatively cheap labour to do jobs that UK citizens were unwilling to take on.

Sometimes such migrant workers were employed in breach of EU laws of which ordinary citizens were unaware so that, once again, the EU was blamed for creating conditions that were actually well within the ability of the UK government to control had it chosen to do so.

The Budget

The fundamental principle under which the EU budget operates is that the richest nations contribute and the poorest regions, some of which are within the richest nations, receive. The simple theory behind this is that by helping the poorer nations and regions to develop and, thereby, improve the economic welfare of their citizens, the possibility of conflict over resources is reduced. It is a principle with which not everyone agrees and is certainly one of the factors underlying the desire of some UK citizens to see the UK leave.

So long as it can be shown that supported schemes meet specific criteria, the way that EU funds are distributed and spent is left to the recipient national or local governments. Thus, it is unfair to blame the EU if such funds are used to support unnecessary or inappropriate schemes. They are intended to be used for social and economic infrastructure developments that increase the ability of the recipient region to attract private investment that creates long term employment. If you want the EU to exercise greater control over such spending you need more, not fewer bureaucrats, and to give up, not reclaim, local control.

The Exercise of Democracy

In most EU member states elections are conducted using systems that produce a result in which the number of representatives of each party in parliament or legislative assembly is roughly proportional to the number of votes cast for that party. This is also true of the EU institutions. The practical effect of this is that, more often than not, no one party has a parliamentary majority and two or more parties have to come together to agree a programme that is broadly in the national interest. That also tends to mean a centrist approach, either centre-left or centre-right. The extremes at either end of the political spectrum have little say. It should be no surprise that I, as a centrist, approve of such systems and the results they produce.

In the UK, however, the system regularly produces a majority for one party (not always the same party) even though that party may have fewer than 40% of the votes cast. Thus, the majority of UK citizens are used to a situation in which their needs are ignored in favour of those of a minority.

The 2016 referendum provided a rare opportunity in which they were assured, albeit dishonestly, that the wishes of the majority would be respected. It was presented as a simple choice between leaving or remaining, with the question of what kind of relationship, if any, the UK might seek to establish with the EU after it left, buried under a fog of speculation. In or out of the Customs Union? The Single Market? A relationship like the one Norway has? Or Switzerland?

The Irish Problem

This is something that was barely touched upon during the 2016 campaign but has proved to be an impenetrable stumbling block ever since. To understand why, it is necessary to review, however briefly, 850 years of British and Irish history and religion.

Around 100 years after the Norman conquest of England two childhood friends became respectively King of England and Archbishop of Canterbury. They disagreed about the extent to which the King should interfere in the affairs of the Church. At some point the king is supposed to have said something along the lines of “Will someone rid me of this troublesome priest.”

Like most such remarks uttered in moments of frustration it was not meant to be taken literally. But a few knights who wanted to curry favour with the king did. They murdered the Archbishop in his cathedral.

It so happened that the Pope was exercised about the fact that the Church authorities in Ireland were backsliding so, when an Irish provincial king was deposed, he used that fact to persuade the English (Norman) king to come to his aid. The king, needing to appease the Pope, agreed.

As a direct result, Ireland became subject to the English Crown, its land parcelled out to assorted knights and barons who had assisted with the invasion.

Move forward 4 centuries to the reformation and the long period of conflict in the British Isles between protestantism and Roman Catholicism. The Irish refused to be reformed, despite Cromwell’s massacre of tens of thousands and the confiscation of land from Catholic owners, giving it to protestants. These religious wars were effectively brought to an end when a Dutch Prince defeated a largely Catholic army on Irish soil and was crowned King. Troublesome tenants were removed from Scottish land to be replaced by sheep. They were granted large parts of Ulster in a further attempt to dilute Catholic influence on the island.

At the beginning of the 19th century Ireland, which had hitherto had a degree of autonomy but with its own Parliament still subject to the Crown, became a part of the United Kingdom. Throughout the next century the Irish campaigned for independence until, just under a hundred years ago, it was granted. But throughout the campaign the Ulster Protestants objected, so the treaty that granted independence drew an arbitrary border around 6 of Ulster’s 9 counties.

They would remain in the UK whilst the other 26 counties of Ireland became an independent republic. That division remained controversial, and a civil rights campaign in the 6 counties at the end of the 1960s escalated into widespread acts of terrorism on the island and within England.

This ultimately led to the Good Friday Agreement, an international treaty, underwritten by the EU and the USA, which, among other things, enshrined the idea that citizens of the 6 counties have dual citizenship, able to choose to hold UK or Irish passports, and total freedom of movement of goods and people between the two parts of the island.

That is, of course, perfectly practical so long as both the UK and Ireland remain members of the EU. It is incompatible with the UK’s desire to leave the EU in order “to control our borders”.

There is a lot of talk about technological solutions, and the arrangement agreed in principle in December of 2017 was that, until those solutions are available, the 6 counties will remain in the Single Market and the Customs Union (the “backstop”).

It is this part of the Withdrawal Agreement, reached by Prime Minister May and the EU at the end of last year, that has failed to secure the support of a majority in Parliament. Prime Minister Johnson’s attempt to time limit the arrangement by giving the Northern Ireland Assembly a vote every 4 years is not acceptable to Ireland or the EU.

To me the only solution is one which involves the whole of the UK remaining in the Single Market and Customs Union, a relationship not unlike that which Norway and Switzerland have, and which would seem to meet the Labour Party’s “tests”. Or the UK could abandon the attempt to leave and return to the status quo.

A New Trail of Tears?

I came across a two-year-old editorial written by Michael Coard from The Philadelphia Tribune a few days ago.  It strikes me as being relevant and timely in today’s environment of white supremacy in the U.S.  Donald Trump has cleared a wide path for those who believe that somehow having pale skin, having ancestors that hail from Europe, makes one better than those who are from other places and have darker skin.  What our government is doing to immigrants along the US-Mexico border is abominable, is inhumane. Trump’s inane rants against four congresswomen can only be called cruel ignorance. But, this attitude has roots that go way back.  At the founding of this nation, African-Americans were considered to be only 2/3 of a person.  And then, there was this …

Trail of Tears: White America’s ‘Indian’ Holocaust

Michael Coard May 27, 2017

trail-of-tearsOn May 28, 1830, the “Trail of Tears” began when President Andrew Jackson signed Senate Bill 102, i.e., the Indian Removal Act (IRA). That legislation forced primarily five Southeastern indigenous nations, including the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole, as well as the Fox, Kickapoo, Lenape, Miami, Omaha, Ottawa, Potawatomie, Sauk, Shawnee, and Wyandot (along with a few other smaller ones), to trek up to 2,200 miles- on foot!- from as far as Florida to what’s now known as Oklahoma where the government’s newly created so-called Indian Territory was established.

These native people were brutally compelled to vacate their homeland on a continent where their ancestors had lived for approximately 14,000 years. That’s 12,508 years before Columbus and his murderous gang of white invaders arrived in 1492.

As renowned historian Dr. Howard Zinn declared in his seminal A People’s History of the United States 1492-Present, President Jackson was “the most aggressive enemy of the (so-called) Indians in early American history.” The learned Oxford Companion to United States History described the president’s actions following passage of the IRA as “the most complete genocide in U.S. history.”

And in his revealing Don’t Know Much About History, lecturer and New York Times best selling author Kenneth C. Davis proclaimed, “From the outset, superior weapons, force of numbers, and treachery had been the Euro-American strategy for dealing with the Indians in manufacturing ‘a genocidal tragedy that surely ranks as one of the cruelest episodes in man’s history.’” Davis went on to note, “The killing, enslavement, and land theft had begun with the arrival of the Europeans. But it may have reached its nadir when it became federal policy under President Jackson.”

The IRA led to what came to be called the “Trail of Tears,” which actually began six years before the 1836 date that most of this country’s history books erroneously cite as the year of its commencement. Although the actual numbers will never be known because, as Winston Churchill so accurately stated, “History is written by the victors,” it has been estimated that from May 1830 (when the IRA became law) until March 1839 (when the last Red person, actually a Cherokee, was savagely shoved into Oklahoma), approximately 100,000 of our Red brothers and sisters suffered the trail’s tortuous tribulations and possibly as many as 30 percent of them were killed on the way as a result of shootings, beatings, starvation, dysentery, whooping cough, cholera in the summer, pneumonia in the winter, and exposure to extreme weather conditions.

Also, this genocidal legislation robbed this land’s aborigines of more than 25 million acres of fertile farmland in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee, and elsewhere.

As horrific as this hell on earth was, the “Trail of Tears” didn’t result in just physical genocide and land theft. It also resulted in cultural genocide. As a History.com documentary entitled Andrew Jackson’s Controversial Decisions, featuring such scholarly historians as museum director Thomas Y. Cartwright and author Professor Harry L. Watson, pointed out, and as did the aforementioned Oxford book, the so-called Indians were forced at gunpoint to convert to Christianity, to cut their hair, to speak only English, to send their children to distant brainwashing and self-hating boarding schools like the Richard Pratt Industrial School here in Pennsylvania, and also to adopt European-style economic practices including and especially private ownership of property- in other words, capitalism.

The documentary continued by pointing out that many had to endure the excruciatingly long haul while being “bound in chains, marching double-file.”

None of that mattered to President Jackson because he viewed these noble people as subhuman. That’s why, in 1833, he said “(T)hose tribes… have neither the intelligence… (nor) the moral habits… which are essential to any favorable change in their condition. Established in the midst of… a superior race, and without appreciating the causes of their inferiority…, they must necessarily yield to the force of circumstances and… long disappear.”

As an aside, I should explain that the Red people ain’t no damn Indians. Columbus called them that in 1492 because he was an incompetent sailor who thought he had traveled east to India when he actually had traveled west to the so-called Americas. The correct (albeit general) name of the indigenous people from the 500 nations here on this continent is Onkwehonwe. And this land wasn’t called America either. It was Turtle Island.

You might wonder why I previously referred to these First Nations people as our brothers and sisters. Here’s why: At least one of these aboriginal groups, e.g., the Seminoles (and others throughout the country), had many Black members who had escaped slavery. And as documented by the Princeton Public Library’s African-American and Native American History Department, as many as one-third of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Choctaw, just like the aforesaid Seminole, was Black. Moreover, the department’s researchers mentioned that the U.S. Army in 1802 listed 512 Blacks as living amongst the Choctaw.

By the way, President Jackson hated Blacks as much as he hated Reds. Even the Andrew Jackson Foundation had to concede that “Slavery was the source of… (his) wealth” and that he enslaved more than 150 Black folks, including children, on his 1,000 acre Hermitage cotton plantation in Nashville, Tennessee,

Many white (and sadly Black) Americans today might argue that as evil as the IRA and the “Trail of Tears” were, they at least ultimately brought “civilization” and progress to this technologically advanced country. However, Oglala Lakota Chief Luther Standing Bear wrote in his 1933 autobiography, From the Land of the Spirit Eagle, “True, the white man brought great change. But the varied fruits of his civilization, though highly… inviting, are sickening and deadening. And if it be the part of civilization to maim… (and) rob… then what is progress?” Good question, Brother Standing Bear. Very good question.

The white supremacy we are seeing today is a resurgence of the very attitude that led to slavery, that led to the Trail of Tears, that led to Jim Crow and more.  Donald Trump says he will “make America great again”, but what he really means is he is attempting to make America a bigoted, narrow-minded, racist nation.  He must be stopped, for if he succeeds, his success will be our ruination.

Humour To End The Week …

It’s Friday … finally!  The end of a loooooong week for us all.  Let’s start the weekend off on the right foot … let’s laugh at some of the stupidity of our government.  We can effect change over time, but there is no immediate solution, so that which you cannot change … you laugh at!


One of the two biggest stories of the week was Trump kicking off his 2020 campaign.  Now, I don’t understand why this is a big deal, considering he registered to run for re-election on the very day he was inaugurated after stealing his first election!  But, a big deal was made by the trumpians, so it made the news.

2020-Trump2020-Trump-22020-Trump-3Bruce Plante Cartoon: Trump launches 2020 Campaign2020-Trump-52020-Trump-6


And the democrats mostly launched their campaigns already, though with somewhat less fanfare …

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The second big news item was the escalation of tensions between Trump and Iran.  Note that I did not say ‘between the U.S. and Iran’, for this attempt to bully Iran into a war is solely a creation of team Trump-Pompeo-Bolton … the rest of us have no interest in starting a new war in the Middle East, especially one that is built on lies and false premises.

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The immigrant situation at the southern border continues, or perhaps worsens as Trump announced that he is going to deport some 11 million immigrants … the fact that it isn’t true matters not to his base, for as long as he says it, they lap it up like a cat laps up cream …

immigrationTom Toles Editorial Cartoon - tt_c_c190517.tifimmigration-3immigration-4


The media was its own news this week, when the New York Times announced the firing of its political cartoonists (baaaad move) and when Trump announced that his primary mouthpiece, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, would be leaving at the end of June (YAY!!!)

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A few ‘toons about the abomination that is Trump …

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Have a great weekend, my friends!

Under The BigTop …

The biggest circus on earth came to town on 20 January 2017, and its cast of characters just keeps expanding.  The latest to put on the clown suit and perform is none other than Steve King, U.S. Representative from Iowa.  Mr. King first came under Filosofa’s watchful eye in March 2017, more than two years ago, when he was awarded the coveted Filosofa’s Idiot of the Week award.    Ever since, he has remained on the radar for one thing or another, the most frequent and troublesome being his blatant and very public racism.  It finally became such an embarrassment to his fellow members of Congress that this past January, Mr. King was stripped of all his committee assignments in Congress.steve-kingThis week, Mr. King hooked up with two other members of this circus, Lynette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, aka Diamond and Silk. Diamond and Silk are two African-American women who are ardent and very vocal Trump supporters.  Though they prefer not to be called African-Americans, as Ms. Hardaway explains …

“You ain’t gotta call me African American ’cause I ain’t never been to Africa. You can call me black.”

Diamond-Silk-2So, the thing that brought Mr. King and the dynamic duo together this week was King’s promotion of a new bill he has proposed in the House of Representatives.  The bill, dubbed ‘The Diamond and Silk Act’, aims to punish so-called sanctuary cities by re-directing federal appropriations to homeless people and veterans.  I’m not quite sure why Mr. King even bothered proposing this bill, since it stands almost zero chance of passing in the democrat-controlled House, but perhaps he thought he would win some brownie points with the head clown, Donald Trump, who has been threatening to pull funding from sanctuary cities for as long as I can remember.Diamond-Silk-1So, where do Diamond and Silk fit in?  Apparently, Mr. King who is still fuming over being kicked off of his committees, thought it might help offset his carefully crafted image as a white supremacist if he had a couple of African-Americans by his side, showing support for his heinous legislation.  It was truly more like a circus act than a news conference.  As often as not, when a reporter asked Mr. King a question, Diamond and Silk literally stepped in front of him and answered for him, as he happily handed the microphone over to them.  One example …

A reporter asked the question, “You’ve been stripped of your committee assignments. What makes you think Republican colleagues will even entertain this?”  Diamond turned to King and asked, “Can I answer this?”  King replied with delight, “Sure”.  Diamond then went on a rant about members of Congress living in mansions, the attempt by environmentalists to ban plastic straws, and concluded with …

“So this ain’t about no Steve King. This is about our homeless, our veterans and Americans.”

Okay, but it didn’t even begin to answer the question, did it?  Another reporter asked Diamond and Silk what they thought of King retweeting white supremacists, and the two women went into what was reminiscent of a rehearsed script …

Diamond: What is the definition of white supremacist?

Silk: You don’t know, do you?

Diamond: Why would you talk that?

Silk: I’m tired of you all playing the race card.

Diamond: Stop calling everybody a racist.

Here is the video, which is truly a circus sideshow, complete with the sound of a horse or horses snorting and snuffling in the background, and a man walking down the street with a box covering his head at approximately the 8:00 mark on the left side of the screen.  The only thing missing was the peanut vendor. I recommend you turn on the Closed Captioning, for the street noises tend to drown out Mr. King’s voice, though it would take a small army to drown out Diamond and Silk’s.

It’s comical that Diamond and Silk go on a tirade, saying “We got Americans living on the streets, we got Americans living in tents okay, we have homeless people …”  Diamond and Silk have a reported net worth of approximately $3 million, and yet there is no record of them donating a single penny to any charity to help the homeless, or anybody else for that matter.

Diamond and Silk are a joke.  They have been in hot water more than a few times for such things as calling Hillary Clinton a ‘slave master’, saying she was responsible for Russia acquiring nuclear weapons (which happened 70 years ago when Hillary was two years old) and falsely stating under oath that they hadn’t been paid by the Trump campaign when, in fact, they had.Diamond-SilkAs for Mr. King, he seemed to be more than happy to turn the Q&A over to ‘the girls’ while he rather shrunk behind them.  He knows his bill is not going to see the light of day, and the only reason I can figure for this little street scene at midday is to prove that he can be seen with black people and not don his KKK hood.

circus-2Come on, people!!!  Mr. King is supposed to be a government official, a lawmaker, and he resorts to publicity stunts like this?  We don’t have a damned government any more, we just have one big circus in multiple acts.  We have a bunch of snake oil salesmen like Steve King, Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Warren Davidson, William Barr, Betsy DeVos, and so many more!  This … THIS abominable clown convention is NOT what We The People are paying hard-earned tax dollars for!  Get these clowns out of office and let us hire some people who take the job seriously!

Rant over.

The Border Crisis-Part Two: Beto O’Rourke has a plan

This is the second part of On The Fence Voters two-part series on the immigration platforms of democratic presidential candidates for 2020. This one introduces Beto O’Rourke’s immigration platform and while similar to Castro’s earlier this afternoon, there are some differences, as Jeff will explain. Thanks again, Jeff, for your excellent work!

On The Fence Voters

Yesterday, I highlighted some of the main points in Democratic Presidential candidate Julian Castro’s comprehensive immigration plan. Today, the focus is on a recently released plan from candidate Beto O’Rourke. You can find the full plan here.

O’Rourke’s plan centers on three main pillars:

1 Using executive authority to stop inhumane treatment of children, reunite families that have been separated, reform our asylum system, rescind the travel bans, and remove the fear of deportation for Dreamers and beneficiaries of programs like TPS.

2 Immediately engaging Congress to enact legislation—focused on the vital role families and communities play—that will allow America to fully harness the power of economic growth and opportunity that both immigration and naturalization will bring to our country’s future.

3 Strengthen our partnerships with our neighbors in the Western Hemisphere—refocusing and supporting democracy and human rights and invest in reducing violence because the only path to regional…

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The border crisis: Julian Castro has a plan

There are many ‘hot topics’ on the docket for next year’s election, not the least of which is immigration. The immigration ‘plan’, if there can be said to actually be a plan, of the current administration is a disaster, with lives being lost at our southern border, and human rights violations that three years ago would have been unthinkable. So, where do the candidates stand on immigration? It isn’t something I’ve given a lot of thought to yet, but luckily our friend Jeff over at On The Fence Voters has. He has analyzed the platforms of two of the contenders for the democratic nomination: Julián Castro and Beto O’Rourke. I find his posts on this topic enlightening, and I think you will too. This is the first of the two, and I plan to re-blog the second later this evening. Thank you, Jeff, for these two posts and your permission to share!

On The Fence Voters

To say the Trump administration’s policy on immigration is a disaster, would actually be a compliment. Let’s be honest, the policy is inhumane, chaotic, horrific, and unsustainable. And word this morning that 37 migrant children who had boarded vans last July in the brutal heat of a Texas summer, only to be forced to stay in those vans for up to 39 hours, exemplifies the incompetence we’ve seen when it comes to this issue.

The migrants were on their way to the Port Isabel Detention Center, hoping to reunite with their parents, who had been taken from them when the Trump administration began systematically separating migrant families who crossed the border illegally. Eventually, the children were reunited with the parents, but to endure such hardship is simply a disgrace.

Of course, this situation arose out of Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, which was officially in effect from April 2018 until June…

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Say WHAT???

My inbox this morning contained the latest column by one of my favourite journalists, Nicholas Kristof.  As I read his column, I was torn between rage and tears, disbelief and horror.  I present portions of that column, but you can read the entire column here

A Good Samaritan and the Border Patrol

A motorist may have saved a life when she stopped to help three desperate young adults. Then she was arrested.

Nicholas Kristof

By Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

The path to Teresa L. Todd’s arrest began when three desperate Central American migrants waved frantically at her car on a Texas highway one night in February.

At least one other car had hurtled by, afraid to stop. But for Todd, compassion overrode any fear. “I’m a mom,” explained Todd, who has two boys, ages 15 and 17. “And I see a young man who looked the same age and size as my younger son. And if my son was by the side of the road, I would want someone to help.”

Todd, a single mom who works as a lawyer for a city and county in West Texas, found three siblings: two brothers ages 20 and 22 and their sister, Esmeralda, 18. To escape violence, they fled their native El Salvador years ago and recently Guatemala, where friends were murdered and a gang leader wanted to make Esmeralda his “girlfriend.”

Teresa L. Todd was detained by Border Patrol agents after stopping her car to help a group of migrants in Texas. CreditJessica Lutz for The New York Times

Esmeralda was suffering from starvation, dehydration and a potentially fatal syndrome called rhabdomyolysis that can lead to kidney failure. Seeing that Esmeralda was very sick, Todd invited the migrants into her car to warm up, and she began frantically texting friends (including one who is a lawyer for the Border Patrol) for advice about getting Esmeralda medical attention.

A sheriff’s deputy pulled up behind Todd’s car, lights flashing, and a Border Patrol officer arrived shortly afterward. The officers detained Todd for three hours, confiscating her possessions and keeping her in a holding cell.

By stopping to help a stranger, Todd may have saved a life — but this also got her arrested.

“It was totally surreal,” Todd recalled. “Especially for doing what my parents taught me was right, and what I learned in church was right, which was helping people. So finding myself in a holding cell for that, it was hard to wrap my head around.”

Esmeralda was hospitalized for four days, and she and her siblings are now in ICE custody. Todd has not been charged with a crime so far, but the authorities seem to have been considering a federal indictment. I reached out to federal and local officials for comment; they did not respond.

Todd told me that she has no regrets. “I think it’s the right thing to help those in need,” she explained. “That’s what I learned from my parents. That’s what I learned in church.”

“This is all about trying to chill the willingness of people to help others,” Todd said. “A friend told me, ‘The other day, someone tried to flag me down by the side of the road and waved an empty water bottle, and I thought about what happened to you and didn’t stop.’”

Referring to Trump, Michele Bachmann, the former Republican congresswoman, recently said, “We will in all likelihood never see a more godly, biblical president again in our lifetimes.”

I thanked Todd for her humanity, and for helping save a life. She said her assistance had been instinctive.

“I’m simply a mom who saw a child in need and pulled over to try to help,” she said. “The whole time I was by the side of the road, I was thinking: What country am I in? This is not the United States.”

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What’s Next???

“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

That is the oath that every president must take before taking office.  Donald Trump took that oath on 20 January 2017.

On Monday, Judge Richard Seeborg of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that existing law did not give Mr. Trump the power to enforce the policy, known as “migrant protection protocols”, that would force asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases proceed.

Sunday night, Trump fired his hard-nosed Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, because she had refused to engage in activities that were illegal, activities in which Trump was overstepping his authority.

Last June, Judge Dana Sabraw ruled against Trump’s policy of separating immigrant children at the border, and yet recently Trump has said he plans to re-implement that policy.

And last Friday, Donald Trump, the ‘man’ who was placed into office by the auspices of the electoral college despite losing the election, gave a little speech to Customs and Border Patrol agents, telling them not to allow any migrants into the country:

“We’re full, our system’s full, our country’s full — can’t come in! Our country is full, what can you do? We can’t handle any more, our country is full. Can’t come in, I’m sorry. It’s very simple. If judges give you trouble, say, ‘Sorry, judge, I can’t do it. We don’t have the room.’”

After Trump left the room, agents sought further advice from their leaders, who told them they were not giving them that direction and if they did what the President said they would take on personal liability. You have to follow the law, they were told.  Okay, it’s nice to know at least somebody has some good sense, but still … the person who took the oath of office had the gall to blatantly and publicly violate that oath.  He is thumbing his nose at not only the Constitution, but at We the People.

In order for the system of checks and balances as defined by the U.S. Constitution to work, the executive branch must respect the prerogatives of Congress, from appropriations to oversight, and the interpretations by judges of the law and the Constitution.  What does it say about a ‘president’ who defies the rule of law, who defies the very Constitution he took an oath to uphold?  And what does it say about members of Congress who continue to allow such perfidy?

There have been a number of areas in which Trump has defied the Constitution during his nearly 27 months in office.  Just two examples …

  • Trump is violating both the foreign and domestic emoluments clauses of the Constitution, by accepting payments from foreign and state governments at the Trump International Hotel in DC.
  • Trump’s first executive order banning travel from six Middle Eastern countries was in violation of the establishment clause of the 1st  Amendment.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

“When someone becomes president, that person’s responsibility is to the country and doing what is in the best interest of the American people and, at that point, business interests need to be put aside because people need to have faith that their leaders are working for them, not that their leaders are working for their own financial benefit.” — Noah Bookbinder, executive director of CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington)

It is painfully obvious that Donald Trump has absolutely no concern for the people of this nation.  And yet, some 40% of the people in this nation support him.  The current ‘president’ of the United States violates his oath of office on a regular basis, his speech is more fitting for a trucker’s hangout than the White House, he incites white supremacists and supports anti-LGBT groups … and 40% of the nation still love him.  I’m stunned, but that isn’t my point at the moment.  My point tonight is something I want you to really think about.  What’s next?

If he feels so emboldened that he can blow off the U.S. Constitution, that he can defy the orders of federal judges, then where does he stop?  Is there any limit to what he will do?  Yesterday he signed more executive orders taking away state’s rights to halt oil pipeline construction – construction that would harm the environment and wildlife.  Yes, there will be lawsuits and the courts are unlikely to rule in Trump’s favour, but he has already shown that he does not respect the courts.

Until the last month or so, although I was frustrated and sometimes enraged by his behaviour, I felt that the courts and Congress would keep him somewhat in check.  I no longer believe that.  I now think that this ‘man’ envisions himself as a ruler, a dictator, perhaps even a king.  And what choice do We the People have?  Congress has proven useless, the courts are being proven useless … where does that leave us?  I ask again … what’s next?

‘Toons To Make You Laugh (Or Cry)

I think it’s time for another batch of toons, don’t you?

The two biggest topics in ‘Toonland’ this week are ones I refuse to touch, so let’s start with the third biggest.  Recently the Idiot-in-Chief declared that wind turbines, or rather the noise from them, cause cancer.  This notion came from the cavernous depths inside his rather spongy head, but it made for some good humour at his expense.

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And of course one of the big topics remains, as it has been for over two years now, immigration, or rather Trump’s use of immigration as a fear-mongering tactic.

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On a related note, there was his demand for Kirstjen Nielsen’s resignation because, although she was a cruel and heartless b**ch, she was not quite cruel and heartless enough to suit the ‘man’ without a conscience.

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Let us not forget about his determination to squash ‘Obamacare’ and replace it with … the grim reaper.

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And beyond all of that, it’s pretty much the usual chaos and insanity that define the reign of Donald Trump.

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Have a great weekend, folks!  Wha … WHAT???  It’s not the weekend yet?  It’s only Wednesday?

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#$%&*@ 👿

I try not to use foul language on this blog, try to keep it professional, but tonight, the title of this blog seems to fit as no other would.  In an attempt to circumvent the United States Congress, and to defy the will and best interest of We the People, Donald Trump has announced his intention to declare a state of ‘national emergency’ today at the same time he signs the budget bill.

Allow me, please, to begin by making one thing perfectly clear …

THERE IS NO DAMN NATIONAL EMERGENCY AT THE SOUTHERN BORDER OR ELSEWHERE IN THE UNITED STATES!!!

There is no emergency, but this is King Trump using the ‘power’ of his office to spend our money on a wall that the majority in the U.S. do not want and that, if built, would damage both the U.S. and Mexico far more than it would help anybody or anything.   The cost of his wall would be astronomical and would deny food and housing to millions of people.  I fully agree with the joint statement issued by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi …

“Declaring a national emergency would be a lawless act, a gross abuse of the power of the presidency and a desperate attempt to distract from the fact that President Trump broke his core promise to have Mexico pay for his wall.”

Since I am livid and sputtering with rage, my rant is far too likely to turn into an expletive-laden diatribe, so I have decided to let Eugene Robinson, writer for The Washington Post, and a much more professional writer than I, finish this post for me …

We have a national emergency, all right. Its name is Donald Trump.

Eugene-RobinsonBy Eugene Robinson

February 14 at 6:50 PM

We have a national emergency, all right. Its name is Donald Trump, and it is a force of mindless, pointless disruption.

The president’s decision to officially declare an emergency — to pretend to build an unbuildable border wall — is not only an act of constitutional vandalism. It is also an act of cowardice, a way to avoid the wrath of Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the far-right commentariat.

It is an end run around Congress and, as such, constitutes a violation of his oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” — which gives Congress, not the president, the authority to decide how public money is spent. It does not give Trump the right to fund projects that Congress will not approve. Authoritarian leaders do that sort of thing. The puffed-up wannabe strongman now living in the White House is giving it a try.

Let’s be clear: There is no emergency. Arrests for illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border peaked in 2000, nearly two decades ago, at more than 1.5 million a year. They declined sharply under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and, in 2017, were at their lowest point since 1971. In 2018, apprehensions ticked up slightly — but still barely climbed above 400,000.

There has indeed been an increase in families presenting themselves at legal points of entry to seek asylum — those groups of bedraggled Central Americans that Trump calls “caravans.” Under U.S. and international law, these people have an undisputed right to ask for asylum and have their cases evaluated. Again, they come to legal border crossings to seek admission. Only a handful try to navigate the forbidding rural terrain where Trump says he wants to build a wall.

What the administration really needs to do is expand and improve facilities for processing, caring for and, when necessary, housing these asylum seekers. But Trump doesn’t care about doing the right thing, or even the necessary thing. He cares only about being able to claim he is following through on his vicious anti-immigration rhetoric, which brands Mexican would-be migrants as “rapists” and Central Americans as members of the MS-13 street gang.

Trump had two years in which Republicans controlled both the House and the Senate — and could not persuade Congress to give him funding for a wall. He decided to make it an issue only after Democrats won the power to say no. The president’s negotiating strategy — pitching tantrums, walking away from the table, venting on Twitter, provoking the longest partial government shutdown in history — was never going to work. You might think he would have learned something about how Washington works by now, but you would be wrong.

Because there obviously is no legitimate emergency, Trump’s declaration — and the shifting of resources from duly authorized projects to the wall — will surely be challenged in court. It is possible, if not likely, that any actual construction will be held up indefinitely.

Indeed, legal briefs arguing against Trump’s action practically write themselves. An emergency, by definition, is urgent. The 9/11 terrorist attacks, for example, clearly qualified as a national emergency. But Trump has been talking about issuing an emergency declaration to build the wall for a couple of months. If such action wasn’t necessary in December, some judge will surely ask, then why now?

Money for the wall will have to be taken from other projects, all of which have constituencies in Congress and among the public. Ranchers and others whose land would have to be taken by eminent domain for the wall will be up in arms.

Politically, Trump carelessly put Republican senators in a tough spot. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) may have the House pass a resolution of disapproval, which the Senate would be compelled to take up. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his caucus would have to decide whether to support a presidential power grab they know is unwise — or oppose Trump and risk the ire of the GOP base.

One of the most strident Republican criticisms of Obama was that he took executive actions that should have been the purview of Congress. But this action by Trump goes much further and sets a dangerous precedent.

What would keep the next Democratic president from declaring an emergency, in the wake of some mass shooting, and imposing a ban on assault weapons? Is that what McConnell wants as his legacy?

Trump cares only that his base is mollified. And that nobody remembers how Mexico was supposed to foot the bill.