Filosofa Tries Not To Rant … Oops!

I tried really hard last night to write a post that didn’t turn into a rant.  I failed.  The only news I read that didn’t evoke a rant, put me to sleep!  There’s just so darned much to rant about these days …


It appears that the inglorious Republican Party is determined to impeach President Biden.  It started the day after his inauguration when Margie Greene filed articles of impeachment against the President (before he had even settled in, let alone made any policy decisions) claiming that he had ‘abused’ his power.  Nobody took it seriously, knowing that Margie is a conspiracy theorist, follower of QAnon, and not terribly intelligent.

The latest, though, really sent me into rant mode.  Senator Ted Cruz, also not terribly intelligent, has said that the Republican Party will impeach President Biden in 2023 if, in fact, they manage a majority in both chambers of Congress in the mid-term elections this November.  He made it clear that there was really no reason for impeachment, no legitimate cause, other than “just because we can.”

“… whether it’s justified or not … the Democrats weaponized impeachment. They used it for partisan purposes to go after Trump because they disagreed with him. And one of the real disadvantages of doing that . . . is the more you weaponize it and turn it into a partisan cudgel, you know, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”

No, you Jackass!  Trump was not impeached because we disagreed with him!  He was impeached … TWICE … because he broke the law, abused the power of his office, and stabbed the people of this nation in the back with his autocratic ways!  Take your head out of your rather large posterior and wake up, Senator Cruz!

Now, I don’t anticipate that the Senate, even if led by a Republican majority, will vote to convict President Biden and remove him from office, because so doing would leave them with … GASP … a president who is both a Woman and Black!  The two things they hate most!

Unfortunately, Cruz is not up for re-election until 2024, at which time I hope the good people of Texas will remember how he abandoned them when a winter storm left them without electricity, leaving the country and heading for Cancún where the temps were in the 80s and electricity was plentiful.


Two of the former guy’s minions seem to have established organizations that are, in addition to other issues, advocating murder.  Okay, I know that’s a bit of a stretch, but I’m angry.  They are actually suing the Biden administration over vaccine mandates, which in my book means they prefer that everybody has the right to remain unvaccinated and thus go about spreading the lethal virus, infecting and killing people.

The first such organization is headed by the man with Nazi ties, former senior adviser and the architect of the former guy’s draconian immigration policies, Stephen Miller.  The organization is America First Legal (AFL), whose goal is to “oppose the radical left’s anti-jobs, anti-freedom, anti-faith, anti-borders, anti-police, and anti-American crusade” and “defend our citizens from unconstitutional executive overreach.”  Also affiliated with the AFL are former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and former Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker – a whole bunch of arseholes all under one umbrella.

The group is suing the Biden administration over “tyrannical and unconstitutional vaccine mandates,” claiming, among other things, that OSHA doesn’t have the power to “try and end pandemics.”  Like … ending the pandemic is a bad thing??????????  Sheesh!

The second group is led by former Vice-President Mike Pence and calls itself Advancing American Freedom (AAF).  You notice how these groups toss about that term ‘American’ as if anybody not on their side must not qualify to be an ‘American’?  AAF has joined forces with AFL to attempt to convince the Supreme Court to block the implementation of OSHA’s vaccine-or-testing mandate, arguing it is unconstitutional and poses a burden on workers.  WHAT burden???  The burden to keep safe and also help keep their co-workers, families, friends and neighbors safe?  Is that really such a burden?

My daughter, granddaughter and I have all been fully vaccinated, including the booster, and I can tell you that it did NOT infringe on our personal freedoms nor cause us any ‘burden’ in any way, shape, or form!  We can end this pandemic if every person does their part, but some would obviously prefer to spend massive amounts of time and money ensuring that more and more of us will become ill and many more will die needlessly.


And now, I will stop ranting so I can manage a bit of sleep tonight and so you can find something cheerier to read on a Sunday morn!  Have a great day!

Open Letter To All Republicans In Congress

Dear Sir or Madam,

Never in my 70 years have I been as disgusted with the Republican Party as I am today.  You have taken politics to an all time low, completely disregarding the will of the people and the best interests of the nation.  Your only goal seems to be to take over the nation and hand the reins of power to a cruel and evil dictator.

Note that your party is in the minority, both in Congress and in the nation, yet rather than trying to develop policies that would help people and thereby attract new members, you push people away with your hateful, guttersnipe rhetoric.  One example, Margie Greene, the QAnon conspiracy theorist who sits in the House of Representatives.  Just since returning from her Twitter ban, she has said that she will personally spend money to ensure that every one of the 19 senators who voted for the infrastructure bill will face a primary candidate next year.  Why?  Only because they worked across the aisle in an attempt to do their jobs.  And then, she claimed that she is drawing up impeachment papers against President Biden … no reason given.

And speaking of the infrastructure bill, there’s Ron Johnson who tells us that he hasn’t even read it and doesn’t plan to … he just knows he plans not to vote for it no matter what is or isn’t in it.  This is obstructionism to the nth degree.

Politics is a career intended to be peopled by educated people who understand how government works and who are dedicated to the principles enumerated in the U.S. Constitution.  Instead, what we get from your side of the aisle is gibberish that makes less sense than a kindergarten child on the playground.  Those of us who have even a basic knowledge of the Constitution and understand a bit about how government is supposed to work are appalled by your actions of the last decade or so, and especially the past year.

We elect you to act in our best interests, to put our welfare ahead of your own personal wealth and lust for power, but thus far you have not done that.  We elect you, then pay you a fair salary, and in return we expect you to show up for work every day, to read every bill you are asked to consider, to give those bills due consideration, debate them, and then make a decision based on whether this bill will be good for the nation and its people.  That’s really all we ask of you!  We don’t ask you to flit about the country holding rallies in which to spew a message of hate.  We don’t ask you to visit the former guy to help him work up his campaign strategy for the next election that is more than three years away.  In fact, that is a conflict of interest and We the People would be well within our rights to call for the resignation of those who have done so.  We don’t ask you to tweet condemnation of every single thing the president says or does – that’s not in your job description.

We the People are your employers, not Mitch McConnell, not Kevin McCarthy, and for damn sure not Donald Trump!

In 1854, your party was founded for a very noble purpose:  to stop the spread of slavery.  Throughout the years, the Republican Party has made some positive contributions to this nation.  But today?  You contribute only to the angst of the people who need help, who need you to put on your grown-up underwear and step up to the plate, do the right thing.  You have an opportunity to make vast improvements in the Republican Party, but instead you are more concerned about increasing your own power and wealthy at the expense of the very people to whom you owe your jobs.

For far too long now, the Republican Party, once known as the Grand Old Party, has been the “party of ‘no’”, the obstructionist party with no relevant goals or policies other than to naysay any legislation that is proposed by the Democratic Party.  Well, guess what … at least they have ideas!

It is time for the Republican Party to reassess their values, to step back and ask yourselves exactly what are you contributing besides chaos?  With all the challenges that face us today, I would think this would be the time to set partisan politics, greed and arrogance aside and work toward fixing the problems, toward making this a safer, more equal nation.  Instead, you are doing the exact opposite.

Think about it.

Sincerely,

Jill Dennison, independent voter, taxpayer, citizen

The Bright Spots in 2020: Yes, There Were Some

The year 2020 will likely go down as one of the worst in the history of the United States, however … there were bright spots!  Our friend TokyoSand has spent hours and hours digging for the best stories from the past year, and she has done one fantastic job of it!  Please take a few minutes to read her wonderful post, reminding us that all was not lost in this year of the pandemic.


year-in-review

We are very close to putting 2020 behind us, but before we do, let’s take one last look back. Now if you’re thinking this is going to be a dreary look at everything that went wrong, you would be wrong. This list is all about the bright spots of light that appeared throughout the year, including some entries I received from my Twitter friends, plus a handful of editorial cartoons I liked. Let’s take a look:

January

The Supreme Court affirmed that cities may not criminalize conduct that is an unavoidable consequence of experiencing homelessness.

When Trump authorized the killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani (which he may not have had the legal authority to do), anti-war protests were held in over 70 cities and calls from activists poured into Congress. Politicians from both parties, notably in the Senate, pushed back against the administration and passed a resolution to limit Trump’s war powers.

Read TokyoSand’s entire post!

WHY???

Today, Donald Trump is in the process of attempting to bribe two election officials from Michigan to override the voice of We the People in that state.  This is treason, it is illegal, and if these two election officials take the bait and rescind their certification of Joe Biden as winner in the State of Michigan, they should be arrested, charged, prosecuted, and imprisoned for the rest of their lives.  And if he succeeds in bribing these two to lie, cheat and steal, who will be next?  The election officials in Georgia?  Pennsylvania?  Wisconsin?  If he can convince election officials in any three of those states to lie, to override the will of the people, he might just manage to stay in office, against the will of the people and to the detriment of the entire world.  And WHY???   He has never been fit for the office of the president, has never cared one whit about the people of this country, so why the hell is he so damn determined to lie, cheat and steal to stay in office?  The following column by Bill Press may answer that question.


Get the orange jumpsuit ready: Extra-large!

bill-pressBy Bill Press

Everybody knows it’s crazy. But nobody can figure out why he’s doing it. Even Donald Trump knows Joe Biden won. But nobody can figure out why Trump, more than two weeks after the election, still insists he won, refuses to concede, and is doing everything he can to overturn the election results.

Speculation abounds. His ego can’t accept defeat. He thinks Rudy Giuliani can actually pull this off. He’s trying to rev up his base for the January 5 Senate run-off in Georgia. Or he’s laying the groundwork to run for president in 2024.

Interesting theories, but they’re all wrong. There’s only one reason Donald Trump’s so desperate to stay in the White House: because he knows it’s the only way he can stay out of prison. Once Joe Biden takes the oath of office on Jan. 20, 2021, Trump’s open to prosecution for all the crimes he’s committed, both before and after becoming president. And it’s a long list.

Roll the tape. In a telephone call, Trump tried to bribe Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky into opening an investigation into his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. The fact that Trump’s Republican friends in the Senate chose not to convict him doesn’t change anything. It’s still a federal crime.

Read the report. The Mueller Report details multiple occasions in which Trump tried to obstruct justice by undermining an ongoing Justice Department investigation. The fact that Trump’s bootlicker attorney general chose not to indict him doesn’t change a thing. It’s still a federal crime for which he can and should still be held responsible.

Check the record. Every day, Trump’s profiteering from the presidency at his golf courses, office buildings, condos and hotels. By accepting money from foreign governments, he’s in direct violation of the Emoluments Clause. Trump’s lease on his Washington hotel is illegal under rules of the General Services Administration. Again, the fact that Attorney General Barr chose not to prosecute doesn’t change anything. They’re still against the law.

And, speaking of federal crimes, what about standing on the sidelines and doing nothing while 11 million Americans are infected with COVID-19 and 250,000 have died from it? Indeed, he’s making matters worse by deliberately downplaying the disease, telling people not to wear a mask, and holding his own super-spreader events. Trump lied, and thousands of people died. If that’s not a crime, I don’t know what is.

Some argue that Trump will never face federal charges because he could resign the presidency and be pardoned by Mike Pence. That’s true. Like Gerald Ford did for Richard Nixon, Pence could give a blanket pardon to Donald Trump – but for federal crimes only. That would not absolve Trump from prosecution for criminal activity at the state level.

Starting with sexual harassment. Since the ’70s, 26 women have accused Donald Trump of “unwanted sexual contact.” Two lawsuits by women against Donald Trump are actively making their way in New York state courts: one by E. Jean Carroll, who accuses Trump of raping her in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman; a second by former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos, suing Trump for defamation for accusing her of lying about his sexual abuse.

Even more serious is the investigation underway by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance into Trump’s financial dealings, including illegal campaign payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and tax and bank fraud, as revealed by Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen, where Trump inflated his net worth in seeking loans from banks, yet deflated it when paying taxes. Most ominously, courts recently gave Vance access to Trump’s tax returns.

Both at the federal and state level, in other words, Trump’s in deep criminal doo-doo. He’s headed for the slammer. The only real question is whether President-elect Biden will allow his Justice Department to go there. It’s eerily reminiscent of 2009, when Barack Obama decided not to pursue George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for war crimes – because, he said, it was important to move forward and not focus on the past.

And what happened? Donald Trump concluded you could do whatever you wanted as president, no matter how illegal, and still get away with it. We can’t make that mistake again. As Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) noted this week, failure to prosecute Trump would “embolden criminality by our national leaders.”

Trump doesn’t deserve to walk out of the White House a free man. He deserves to be behind bars. And not just him, the whole Trump gang: Donald Jr., Eric, Ivanka, Jared, and Rudy Giuliani.

An Honourable Man: Alexander Vindman

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman served this nation with honour and integrity for 21 years.  A career U.S. Army officer, he served on the National Security Council as the director for Eastern European, Caucasus and Russian affairs, as the Russia political-military affairs officer for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and as a military attaché in the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.  He received a Purple Heart medal for wounds he received from an IED attack in the Iraq War in 2004.  In October 2019 he testified before the United States Congress regarding the Trump–Ukraine scandal.  On February 7th, two days after the U.S. Senate let the nation down, failing to uphold their oaths and failing to convict Trump on well-proven impeachment charges, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman was fired, or rather “reassigned within the army” and in a tacky gesture, escorted off the White House grounds.  Last month, he resigned, citing untenable circumstances of bullying and harassment by Trump and his sycophants.  What follows is an OpEd he wrote that was published this morning in The Washington Post.  Lieutenant Colonel Vindman is a man of honour and integrity who served this nation well.


Alexander Vindman: Coming forward ended my career.

I still believe doing what’s right matters.

VindmanOpinion by Alexander S. Vindman

August 1, 2020 at 8:00 a.m. EDT

After 21 years, six months and 10 days of active military service, I am now a civilian. I made the difficult decision to retire because a campaign of bullying, intimidation and retaliation by President Trump and his allies forever limited the progression of my military career.

This experience has been painful, but I am not alone in this ignominious fate. The circumstances of my departure might have been more public, yet they are little different from those of dozens of other lifelong public servants who have left this administration with their integrity intact but their careers irreparably harmed.

A year ago, having served the nation in uniform in positions of critical importance, I was on the cusp of a career-topping promotion to colonel. A year ago, unknown to me, my concerns over the president’s conduct and the president’s efforts to undermine the very foundations of our democracy were precipitating tremors that would ultimately shake loose the facade of good governance and publicly expose the corruption of the Trump administration.

At no point in my career or life have I felt our nation’s values under greater threat and in more peril than at this moment. Our national government during the past few years has been more reminiscent of the authoritarian regime my family fled more than 40 years ago than the country I have devoted my life to serving.

Our citizens are being subjected to the same kinds of attacks tyrants launch against their critics and political opponents. Those who choose loyalty to American values and allegiance to the Constitution over devotion to a mendacious president and his enablers are punished. The president recklessly downplayed the threat of the pandemic even as it swept through our country. The economic collapse that followed highlighted the growing income disparities in our society. Millions are grieving the loss of loved ones and many more have lost their livelihoods while the president publicly bemoans his approval ratings.

There is another way.

During my testimony in the House impeachment inquiry, I reassured my father, who experienced Soviet authoritarianism firsthand, saying, “Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth.” Despite Trump’s retaliation, I stand by that conviction. Even as I experience the low of ending my military career, I have also experienced the loving support of tens of thousands of Americans. Theirs is a chorus of hope that drowns out the spurious attacks of a disreputable man and his sycophants.

Since the struggle for our nation’s independence, America has been a union of purpose: a union born from the belief that although each individual is the pilot of their own destiny, when we come together, we change the world. We are stronger as a woven rope than as unbound threads.

America has thrived because citizens have been willing to contribute their voices and shed their blood to challenge injustice and protect the nation. It is in keeping with that history of service that, at this moment, I feel the burden to advocate for my values and an enormous urgency to act.

Despite some personal turmoil, I remain hopeful for the future for both my family and for our nation. Impeachment exposed Trump’s corruption, but the confluence of a pandemic, a financial crisis and the stoking of societal divisions has roused the soul of the American people. A groundswell is building that will issue a mandate to reject hate and bigotry and a return to the ideals that set the United States apart from the rest of the world. I look forward to contributing to that effort.

In retirement from the Army, I will continue to defend my nation. I will demand accountability of our leadership and call for leaders of moral courage and public servants of integrity. I will speak about the attacks on our national security. I will advocate for policies and strategies that will keep our nation safe and strong against internal and external threats. I will promote public service and exalt the contribution that service brings to all areas of society.

The 23-year-old me who was commissioned in December 1998 could never have imagined the opportunities and experiences I have had. I joined the military to serve the country that sheltered my family’s escape from authoritarianism, and yet the privilege has been all mine.

When I was asked why I had the confidence to tell my father not to worry about my testimony, my response was, “Congressman, because this is America. This is the country I have served and defended, that all my brothers have served, and here, right matters.”

To this day, despite everything that has happened, I continue to believe in the American Dream. I believe that in America, right matters. I want to help ensure that right matters for all Americans.

The Purge Continues …

At a time when the people of this country are in dire circumstances, one might be forgiven for thinking that the single most important focus of the nation’s government, particularly the person in the highest position of authority, would be focused on the crisis at hand.  That is how we think of leadership, but it is time for those of us who reside in the United States to realize that we actually have no real leader.  Instead, we have a vindictive, cruel, narcissistic megalomaniac at the helm of this sinking ship.  And make no mistake — this ship is sinking.

Late last night, Trump sent this letter to Congress …Atkinson-letterMichael Atkinson, you may remember, is the Inspector General who alerted lawmakers to a whistleblower complaint last September that was at the center of allegations that led to Trump’s impeachment.  Michael Atkinson did his job – Donald Trump did not.  This is nothing more or less than revenge, pure and simple.  One would hope that the person in the highest office of government would be above petty revenge, but not here.

In the words of Representative Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee …

“This is decapitating the leadership of the intelligence community in the middle of a national crisis.  It’s unconscionable. And of course, it sends a message throughout the federal government and in particular to other inspectors general that if they do their job as this professional did and Michael Atkinson was a complete professional, they too may be fired by a vindictive president. He’s settling scores. We’re in the middle of this pandemic and thousands of people are dying and he is retaliating against people who are on his enemies list and doing it in the dead of night.”

Trump claims that Atkinson was wrong to have taken his concerns to Congress, that Trump had the right to hide his own improper and illegal behaviour from both Congress and from We the People, who he is paid to serve.  He seems to have completely forgotten that he is, despite the fancy trappings that accompany his position, naught more than a public servant who serves at the pleasure of We the People.

“Whether it’s Lt. Col. Vindman, Captain Crozier, or Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson: President Trump fires people for telling the truth. Michael Atkinson is a man of integrity who has served our nation for almost two decades. Being fired for having the courage to speak truth to power makes him a patriot.” – Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman was a Ukraine specialist on the White House National Security Council who testified during the House impeachment about monitoring Trump’s July 25 telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. It was that call that raised concerns Trump was pressing Zelensky for a political favor. Vindman was removed from his White House post days after Trump was acquitted by the Senate.

Captain Brett Crozier was the commander of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt who was removed after the leaking of a blunt letter he wrote to his superiors about what he saw as insufficient measures to fight a coronavirus outbreak aboard the vessel.

At this, a time when we look to our heads of government to provide stability and leadership, we are getting slapped in the face, we have a madman with no conscience sitting in the chair in the Oval Office.  I call on Mike Pence and every other cabinet member to invoke the 25th Amendment NOW!  Donald Trump is clearly unfit to lead this nation, is clearly mentally unstable, and is clearly more interested in his own reputation, his own power and wealth, than he is in the people of this nation.  His narcissism is costing lives – OURS!

This is just the latest in a series of people he has fired, people who were doing their jobs, who were protecting this nation, but who refused to swear an oath of fealty to Donald Trump.  A public servant’s oath is to the people of the nation, not the person occupying the Oval Office.  No, I don’t expect that Mike Pence or any other member of Trump’s cabinet will have the cojones to put the people of this nation ahead of their own self-interest, for they are too afraid for their own futures.  But, I DO expect the people of this nation to open their eyes, take off the damned rose-coloured glasses through which you have been viewing the madman, and VOTE HIM OUT in November!  If we don’t then we will have the blood of future generations on our hands.

What You May Have Missed

If you go looking in the usual places for news that has nothing to do with a) coronavirus, or b) the stock markets, or c) 2020 presidential race, you will be out of luck.  That is all the news that exists in the usual places such as The Washington Post, New York Times, CNN, Politico, ABC News, Time, The Guardian, BBC, AP, and others.  Mind you, all those stories are newsworthy and I am definitely NOT downplaying the importance of any, especially the coronavirus.  But once you’ve read the same ol’ same ol’ about 60 times, you begin to wonder if the rest of the world is locked in a closet somewhere.  However, Filosofa does not give up easily.  Filosofa is sick and damned tired of reading the exact same information about coronavirus, the financial melt-down and the Bernie & Joe Show.  So, I stuck a carrot in my pocket for the wabbits, grabbed my shovel and went digging …


Is Betsy complicit?

Betsy DeVos was made Secretary of Education in 2017 as a reward for the large campaign contributions she and her hubby made to Trump’s 2016 election campaign.  As I said in 2017, DeVos was, like so many of Trump’s cabinet picks, the least suited for the job.  She had little respect for public schools, instead supporting the charter schools that can accommodate very few students in need.  But she had money, she had a rich husband, and that mattered more than qualifications or competency.

Well, now it turns out that Betsy’s brother, Eric Prince, is somewhat of a nasty character.  Like his siter, Prince is a Trump supporter with close ties to the Trump gang.  According to a New York Times article last weekend, beginning in 2017, Prince started recruiting former spies to infiltrate Democratic congressional campaigns, labor organizations and other groups considered hostile to the Trump ‘agenda’.

One of the former spies, an ex-MI6 officer named Richard Seddon, helped run a 2017 operation to copy files and record conversations in a Michigan office of the American Federation of Teachers, one of the largest teachers’ unions in the nation.  They secretly taped the union’s local leaders and attempted to gather information that could be made public to damage the organization.  This and other covert operations were conducted under the auspices of Project Veritas, a conservative group that has gained attention using hidden cameras and microphones for sting operations on news organizations, Democratic politicians and liberal advocacy groups.

According to the Times report, though both Mr. Prince and Project Veritas have close ties to the Trump family, it is “unclear” whether any of the Trump clan are complicit in the operations they have been conducting.  My bet?  Take a wild guess.  But … a question of equal concern is whether Miss Betsy is involved.  Again, my bet?  Hell yes.

An independent watchdog group has asked the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform to investigate whether Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had any involvement in her brother’s efforts to spy on the Michigan teacher’s union.  DeVos has long had a hostile relationship with teacher’s unions.  According to the letter the group wrote to Congress …

“It stretches the imagination to the breaking point to believe her brother never at least mentioned his intel operation to her. At the end of the day, who would benefit more from this ill-gotten information than the Education Secretary at war with the union?”

Prince is under investigation by the Justice Department over whether he lied to a congressional committee examining Russian interference in the 2016 election, and for possible violations of American export laws. Last year, the House Intelligence Committee made a criminal referral to the Justice Department about Mr. Prince, saying he lied about the circumstances of his meeting with a Russian banker in the Seychelles in January 2017.  Care to make any bets about whether Prince will ever be convicted?

Keep your eyes on this ball, my friends.


A day late and a dollar short, but still …

On Tuesday, in a 2-1 ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Judge Judith Rogers wrote in an opinion joined by Judge Thomas Griffith that the House of Representatives may see redacted passages in the public version of the Mueller report that was issued, heavily redacted, in April of last year.  Said Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi …

“This ruling is an unequivocal rejection of the President’s insistence that he is above the law and his blanket refusal to cooperate with Congressional requests for information. It is also another rebuke of Attorney General Barr’s brazen efforts to prevent evidence of Presidential wrongdoing from being uncovered, which the Courts continue to challenge. … Yet again, the Courts have resoundingly reaffirmed Congress’s authority to expose the truth for the American people.”

In her opinion, Judge Rogers wrote …

“The courts cannot tell the House how to conduct its impeachment investigation or what lines of inquiry to pursue, or how to prosecute its case before the Senate. The constitutional text confirms that a Senate impeachment trial is a judicial proceeding. The term ‘judicial proceeding’ has long and repeatedly been interpreted broadly.”

This follows on the heels of last week’s ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton that  excoriated Attorney General Bill Barr for distorting the findings of the Mueller Report before its redacted release to the public, saying …

“The Court cannot reconcile certain public representations made by Attorney General Barr with the findings in the Mueller Report. The inconsistencies between Attorney General Barr’s statements, made at a time when the public did not have access to the redacted version of the Mueller Report to assess the veracity of his statements, and portions of the redacted version of the Mueller Report that conflict with those statements cause the Court to seriously question whether Attorney General Barr made a calculated attempt to influence public discourse about the Mueller Report in favor of President Trump [emphasis added] despite certain findings in the redacted version of the Mueller Report to the contrary.”

Too bad these rulings weren’t handed down back when the House was still conducting its impeachment hearings and before the U.S. Senate thumbed their noses at We the People and at the U.S. Constitution.  But, better late than never.  And, there is no law that says there cannot be yet another impeachment, if it is deemed right and proper.  Leave that door open, folks …


Okay, folks … that’s the news that didn’t make the headlines this week.  Let us now return to the center of gravity …

Something To Think About

I have spent the last three years warning that Donald Trump was a wanna-be king, that he would turn the presidency into a dictatorship, given half a chance.  It seems that now, three years into his reign, others are seeing it, too.  Max Boot’s column in The Washington Post last Saturday sums it up well.

This is how democracy dies — in full view of a public that couldn’t care less

By Max Boot, Columnist

Feb. 15, 2020 at 7:00 a.m. EST

Max-Boot

The French philosopher Montesquieu wrote in 1748: “The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy.” We are seeing his warning vindicated. President Trump is increasingly acting as a tyrannical (and erratic) prince. And yet much of the public is so inured to his misconduct that his latest assaults on the rule of law are met with a collective shrug. Public passivity is Trump’s secret weapon as he pursues his authoritarian agenda. “I have the right to do whatever I want,” he says, and the lack of pushback seems to confirm it.

So much bad has happened since Trump was unjustly acquitted by the Senate of two articles of impeachment on Feb. 5 that it’s hard to keep it all straight.

Trump fired Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman for complying with a congressional subpoena and providing truthful testimony about Trump’s attempts to extort Ukraine into aiding him politically. Also ousted was Vindman’s brother, who did not testify. This sends a mob-like message: If you turn stool pigeon, your family gets it, too.

Trump’s ongoing quest for retribution has also claimed Jessie K. Liu, who was abruptly removed as U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia and replaced by a close aide to Attorney General William P. Barr after prosecuting Trump loyalists, including Michael Flynn and Roger Stone. Now Liu’s nomination to a senior Treasury Department position has been withdrawn. Next on the chopping block may be Elaine McCusker, the Pentagon official who tried to tell the Office of Management and Budget that Trump had no right to withhold aid to Ukraine. The New York Post reported that her nomination to be Pentagon comptroller will be withdrawn. (McCusker denies the report.)

While punishing those who dared to tell the truth, Trump is protecting those who assist his coverup. He inveighed against the request of federal prosecutors, following normal sentencing guidelines, to give Stone a seven- to nine-year prison sentence for witness tampering and lying to Congress. Trump also attacked the judge overseeing Stone’s case and the forewoman of the jury that convicted him. The Justice Department then asked for a reduced sentence. Four prosecutors resigned from the case in protest, and one quit the Justice Department.

Even Barr was driven to denounce Trump’s public interference in the legal system, saying that the president’s tweets “make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the prosecutors and the department that we’re doing our work with integrity.” In response, Trump asserted that he has the “legal right” to determine who gets prosecuted — technically true but hardly in keeping with American tradition.

Barr’s protests ring hollow given how eager he has been to subvert his own department on Trump’s behalf — for example, by mischaracterizing the findings of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Barr has appointed one prosecutor to review Flynn’s conviction and another to investigate the FBI and CIA personnel who uncovered the Russian plot to elect Trump in 2016. The New York Times reports that the latter prosecutor, John H. Durham, has raised alarm in the intelligence community by appearing to pursue a theory, popular among right-wing conspiracy mongers, “that the C.I.A., under its former director John O. Brennan, had a preconceived notion about Russia or was trying to get to a particular result.”

Anxiety about attempts to politicize justice will only grow because of a Post report that Trump was furious that the Justice Department did not file charges against former FBI director James B. Comey and former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe — even though there is no evidence that either of these men broke any laws. After learning that his enemies were not being indicted, The Post reports, “Trump has become more insistent that Durham finish his work soon,” because he “wants to be able to use whatever Durham finds as a cudgel in his reelection campaign.”

As Justice Department veteran David Laufman writes, “We are now truly at a break-glass-in-case-of-fire moment for the Justice Dept.” But does anyone give a damn? Democratic lawmakers are, to be sure, perturbed, but it’s easy (if unfair) to write off their outrage as mere partisanship. Republican members of Congress, as usual, either have nothing to say or offer ineffectual expressions of “concern.”

And the public? I don’t see massive marches in the streets. I don’t see people flooding their members of Congress with calls and emails. I don’t see the outrage that is warranted — and necessary. I see passivity, resignation and acquiescence from a distracted electorate that has come to accept Trump’s aberrant behavior as the norm.

A recent Gallup poll found that Trump’s approval rating among Republicans — the supposed law-and-order party — is at a record-high 94 percent. His support in the country as a whole is only 43.4 percent in the FiveThirtyEight average, but he is still well positioned to win reelection, because most people seem to care a lot more about the strength of the stock market than about the strength of our democracy. This is how democracies die — not in darkness but in full view of a public that couldn’t care less.

*Note to readers:  Since this article was published three days ago, Trumps approval rating according to the FiveThirtyEight average has risen from 43.4% to 43.9%.

The Never-Ending Snarky Snippets

It would seem that Filosofa never runs out of something to be snarky about these days.  Gee, I wonder why that is?  Well, tonight is no exception …


Trump’s revenge …

I knew that Trump was likely to escalate his bad behaviour for lack of a better word, once he was acquitted by the Senate.  Even I, the ultimate cynic, didn’t realize how quickly he would act.  Brosephus told us yesterday evening about the data the republicans in the Senate have gathered from federal agencies in just over a day regarding Hunter Biden and his travel.  Then, last night, I learned that Trump is planning to fire Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, for testifying in the House impeachment proceedings.  Yep, you heard right.  Revenge, pure and simple.

VindmanAfter his testimony in November, Vindman and his family received criticism and threats from Trump’s allies, including allegations of political bias and disloyalty to the US because of their refugee status.

There are laws against terminating an employee for testifying against a corrupt boss, but given that Trump has gotten by with breaking hundreds of laws already … well, what’s one more.  Who’s to stop him?  Not Congress, for the Senate doesn’t even have the cojones to censure him.  Not the courts, when all roads lead to Chief Justice John Roberts who didn’t have the courage or integrity to force a fair impeachment trial.

Apparently, Trump also plans to fire other National Security Council officials who he considers were ‘disloyal’ to him, and the White House is expected to say that it is part of a broader effort to clean house and decrease bureaucracy.  If this is the modus operandi of the government of this country, then it’s time we changed the government before we lose the ability to do so.


State of the Environment …

On Tuesday, a coalition of nine conservation groups issued a statement:

“Donald Trump’s administration has unleashed an unprecedented assault on our environment and the health of our communities. His policies threaten our climate, air, water, public lands, wildlife, and oceans; no amount of his greenwashing can change the simple fact: Donald Trump has been the worst president for our environment in history. Unfortunately, our children will pay the costs of this president’s recklessness. Our organizations have repeatedly fought back against these attacks and we will continue to fight to ensure that our kids don’t bear the brunt of the Trump administration’s anti-environmental agenda.”

The statement was offered by Alaska Wilderness League Action, Clean Water Action, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, EDF Action, Friends of the Earth, League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, and The Wilderness Society.

Later that evening, Trump gave his circus-like State of the Union address, but the above statement seems to me far more meaningful.


Midnight in Washington

They are called Eleven Films, and according to their Facebook bio, they are …

Portland/Vancouver based media company founded on 11 November 2011, specializing in creative internet content, documentaries, news, music and film. Since 2018, Eleven Films has amassed over 30 million views across all platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube). Aside from their original films, Eleven Films has created ads for Presidential candidates, Senatorial candidates, PACs, Causes, New York Times best-selling authors and general business. Their ads have aired on MSNBC, CNN and Fox News.

Eleven Films’ content has been shared by celebrities, politicians, insiders and influencers including: Alyssa Milano, Rosie O’Donnell, Don Cheadle, Frances Fisher, Debra Messing, Justine Bateman, Martina Navratilova, Jon Favreau, Judd Appetow, Vincent D’Onofrio, Don Winslow, Adrian McKinty, Alice Evans, Adam Parkhomanko, David Yankovich, Nancy Pelosi, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ted Lieu, Eric Swalwell, Carolyn Maloney, Veronica Escobar, Mike Levin, Maya Wiley, Eddie Glaude, Joy Ried, Abby Finkenauer to name a few.

That’s just about all I know of Eleven Films, but tonight one of their ads crossed my radar and … I was stunned.  This is possibly the most powerful clip of its sort that I have ever seen.  The film, titled Midnight in Washington, is very short, only one minute, 26 seconds, but it packs a punch.  Please take 1:26 to watch this.  You may also want to check out some of their other works on their website.


Stay tuned this afternoon for the next installment in Jeff’s and my project, Discord & Dissension – Part V!

Are You Listening, Democrats?

This morning I happened upon Greg Sargent’s column in The Washington Post in which he writes about what we can expect from Trump in the coming nine months after he is almost certainly acquitted of his crimes tomorrow afternoon.  But more importantly, he makes some suggestions for the democratic-led House in the coming months that I think are very prudent.  At the very least, Congress must continue pulling back the layers to expose the corruption, and keep We the People informed so that we do not go blindly to the polls in November.  Let’s hope Nancy Pelosi and others in the House read Mr. Sargent’s column!


The Plum Line

Opinion

Trump is about to get a lot more dangerous. Here’s what’s coming.

Image without a caption
Greg Sargent
Opinion writer
Feb. 4, 2020 at 9:38 a.m. EST

When President Trump is acquitted by the Senate on Wednesday afternoon, he’ll surely take from it the message that he can continue abusing his powers however he sees fit to corrupt the 2020 election. He now knows he’ll face zero consequences.

But House Democrats can try to do something about this. They can redouble their oversight and investigative efforts, post-impeachment, geared toward the specific aim of illuminating — and preventing — future efforts by Trump to wield the machinery of government to influence the election’s outcome.

Some ultra-savvy pundits will scoff: Didn’t Democrats just get through impeachment? And some Democrats will be tempted to slink away in defeat, muttering that impeachment wasn’t “worth” the “trouble.”

But this is precisely the wrong message to take from what just happened. The impeachment and trial produced a remarkable new fact record documenting extraordinary misconduct and likely criminality on Trump’s part. This has stripped away any illusions about what Trump is capable of inflicting on our political system — demonstrating why continued efforts to protect the country are even more imperative.

“We have to use all the oversight powers we have to try to check efforts by Trump and the White House to steal the election,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the Judiciary and Oversight committees, told me.

“Just because we’ve impeached the president does not mean his schemes have stopped,” Raskin added. “He continues to be a one-man crime wave.”

Subpoena Bolton

For starters: One of the House committees should immediately invite former national security adviser John Bolton to testify, and if he refuses, subpoena him.

Bolton’s forthcoming book will report that Trump privately linked nearly $400 million in frozen military aid to Ukraine directly to his demand for sham investigations validating lies about Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election that absolve Russia of that crime and smearing potential 2020 foe Joe Biden.

Bolton’s book will also report that as early as last May, Trump instructed Bolton to press the Ukrainian president to work with personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani on the scheme to extort those announcements from Ukraine.

Learning more about both these episodes — which Senate Republicans refused to do — will further illuminate the scope, reach and inner workings of this whole scheme. Bolton can almost certainly detail other episodes implicated with it.

This matters because this scheme is still in operation today. Republicans have been running ads in Iowa that echo the fabricated narrative of Biden corruption in Ukraine. Giuliani has been meeting with former Ukrainian officials to further validate that narrative.

And Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, is still pursuing a “review” of the origins of the Russia investigation that appear designed to discredit that investigation — and its conclusion that Russia sabotaged the 2016 election to help Trump — just as Trump wants.

What this all means is that post-acquittal, Trump will simply keep up his smearing of Biden with disinformation, including with “evidence” fabricated by Giuliani with the help of foreign officials, as well as his ongoing whitewashing of Russia’s 2016 attack on our political system.

A maximal picture of Trump’s willingness to corrupt the government in service of this whole effort will better equip the American people to evaluate the disinformation and lies we’ll continue seeing on all these fronts. Testimony from Bolton about Trump’s orchestration of this scheme will focus public attention on it as it continues.

Call Lev Parnas

That’s also why House Democrats should seek testimony from Lev Parnas, the former Giuliani associate who turned on Trump after getting indicted on campaign finance charges in connection with efforts to push out Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine who stood in the way of the extortion plot.

Parnas’s lawyer has indicated he is prepared to testify in detail about the whole scheme, including the role played in it by Trump and Giuliani, and other players such as Barr and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

To repeat, this scheme is ongoing as we speak. Trump’s propaganda network will continue to bombard voters with disinformation about fake Biden corruption and invented Ukrainian 2016 electoral sabotage. House Democrats need to keep the focus on this disinformation’s corrupt origins.

“Parnas can speak to the shady characters Rudy is talking to,” Sam Berger, an expert on democracy reform at the Center for American Progress, told me. “Congress needs to figure out everything it can about Trump’s ongoing efforts to cheat in the upcoming election.”

Get to the bottom of Barr’s activities

As part of the case against Parnas, prosecutors in the Southern District of New York have opened a criminal investigation into whether Giuliani broke U.S. laws by working with foreign officials to oust Yovanovitch, something that could further implicate Trump.

Has Barr allowed this case to proceed undisturbed? We have no idea.

Trump has threatened retribution against Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the lead impeachment manager. And Gabriel Sherman reports that Trump has privately told people he wants to see Bolton criminally prosecuted. Fox News’s Sean Hannity has preposterously claimed Biden broke laws in Ukraine.

Given Barr’s role in helping Trump whitewash Russia’s attack on our democracy, one cannot rule out at least the possibility of Barr somehow using the Justice Department against one or more Trump foes in some form, perhaps to lend validity to Trump’s narratives.

What exactly is Barr doing with his “review” of the Russia probe? Has Trump ever tried to instruct him to prosecute one or more of these enemies? Democrats should try to grill Barr on these matters.

“Every other attorney general has appeared before the Judiciary Committee,” Raskin told me. “I would expect this attorney general to appear as well.”

Administration officials will resist any and all efforts at such oversight. But Democrats must try and, if necessary, go to court. Protecting the country demands no less.

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