The House Is Afire!!!

Donald Trump … he claims to have made only one mistake during his 29 months in office.  Can you guess what it is?

Helsinki?  Charlottesville?  Family separations?  Nope, nope, and nope.

Failure to ‘drain the swamp’?  Nope.

Pulling out of the Paris climate accord and rolling back many important environmental regulations?  No way.

Triggering the longest government shutdown in U.S. history in a futile attempt to get funding for a border wall – or subsequently declaring a national emergency to divert money from the military?  Not a chance.

His quest to expel transgender service members who are willing to die in combat, his mockery of the #MeToo movement or his demonization of African American athletes?  Nay, nay, nay.

Throwing paper towels at Puerto Ricans, and then trying to minimize how much federal funding these U.S. citizens get to rebuild their devastated island?  Hardly.

Firing James Comey as FBI director, or the other nine cases of obstruction of justice outlined in Bob Mueller’s report?  Wrong again.

Trump says his only mistake was … wait for it … hiring Jeff Sessions to serve as U.S. Attorney General, because he hired him fully believing that Sessions would protect him by putting an end to the Russian investigation led by Special Counsel Bob Mueller.  When Sessions recused himself and thus could not protect Trump, he became Trump’s only mistake, at least in Trump’s mind.

When concerns were raised about the high turnover in Trump’s administration, he responded …

“Let me tell you, the one that matters is me. I’m the only one that matters, because when it comes to it, that’s what the policy is going to be.”

sonny-perdue

Sonny Perdue

And it is in this context, the “my opinion is the only one that matters” monologue, that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), under Trump appointee Sonny Perdue, has decided to bury the results of dozens of government-funded studies that carry warnings about the effects of climate change.  WHY?  Because … climate change is damned inconvenient.  An example …

If a person is watching a really good television program (are there actually any “really good” ones these days?) and suddenly smells smoke, he has two choices:  go investigate, or ignore the odour.  If he ignores the odour, odds are that the house will be on fire before the next commercial break, but hey … don’t want to miss seeing the guy beat his wife, right?

The house is on fire, and our government, led by Bozo Trump, is in favour of ignoring it, for to acknowledge it means having to take action to try to put the fire out, and means missing out on the big love scene where thousands of people chant “lock her up” because they are so happy with Trump.

The studies that the USDA is refusing to make public, range from a groundbreaking discovery that rice loses vitamins in a carbon-rich environment — a potentially serious health concern for the 600 million people world-wide whose diet consists mostly of rice — to a finding that climate change could exacerbate allergy seasons to a warning to farmers about the reduction in quality of grasses important for raising cattle.  All have been peer-reviewed by scientists and cleared through the non-partisan Agricultural Research Service, one of the world’s leading sources of scientific information for farmers and consumers.

Researchers at the University of Washington had collaborated with scientists at USDA, as well as others in Japan, China and Australia, for more than two years to study how rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could affect rice — humanity’s most important crop. They found that it not only loses protein and minerals, but is also likely to lose key vitamins as plants adapt to a changing environment.

The study had undergone intensive review, addressing questions from academic peers and within USDA itself. But after having prepared an announcement of the findings, the department abruptly decided not to publicize the study and urged the University of Washington to hold back its own release on the findings, which two of their researchers had co-authored.

The person sitting in the burning house, watching television, is also admonishing the neighbors not to call the fire department and to simply pretend they don’t see or smell the smoke either!  Let the entire neighborhood burn down, but don’t arouse the man from his bloomin’ television show!

There is an election in less than 17 months that will, hopefully, remove not only Trump, but also most of his boot-lickers from office.  People need to be informed in order to make smart voting choices.  How can the public be well-informed if the government is withholding facts, simply because the facts don’t agree with what Trump wants???  I guess, if we are not to be told the facts, but rather only the falsehoods propagated by Trump & Co., then the best thing is to remember Trump’s own words …

“Let me tell you, the one that matters is me. I’m the only one that matters, because when it comes to it, that’s what the policy is going to be.”

Is that really the person you want at the helm of this ship? Think about it.

Game Over? I Think NOT, Donnie Boy!

The republicans are, once again, dancing in the streets and pouring champagne over each other’s heads.  Party hearty, republican friends, but guess what?  The game isn’t over, but has just begun.  The redacted report that we were given is only part of the story, but even that part is proof that Trump & Co are guilty of having conspired with Russian agents to rig the election in 2016 and put Trump in office.  What more there is, will eventually be discovered.  But … republicans?  Let me ask you a question.  Why, if Trump had nothing to hide and was guilty of naught, did he make this statement when apprised of the hiring of Special Counsel Robert Mueller …

“Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked.”

And then he proceeded to berate the bearer of the news, then-Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. Why, guys?  Doesn’t that sound like the voice of a guilty man?  Sure does to me.

Now on to the present.  Yesterday morning, as I noted in my snarky snippets yesterday, Attorney General William Barr felt it prudent to give us his version of the Mueller report.  Unnecessary and unwanted, but here are a few of the proven lies he told in that event:

  • … We now know that the Russian operatives who perpetrated these schemes did not have the cooperation of President Trump or the Trump campaign – or the knowing assistance of any other Americans for that matter.
  • … The Special Counsel’s report did not find that any person associated with the Trump campaign illegally participated in the dissemination of the materials.
  • … The White House fully cooperated with the Special Counsel’s investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, directing senior aides to testify freely, and asserting no privilege claims. (This one damn near caused me to choke to death!)

Even Fox News’ own Chris Wallace criticized Barr, saying …

“The attorney general seemed almost to be acting as the counselor for the defense, the counselor for the president, rather than the attorney general, talking about his motives, his emotions.”

Let us consider, for a moment, that even if Mueller’s investigation did not turn up indictable criminal activity on the part of Trump, it damn sure did turn up improper behaviour, especially toward the investigation itself.  According to the Associated Press …

Donald Trump tried to seize control of the Russia probe and force Mueller’s removal to stop him from investigating potential obstruction of justice by the president. Trump was largely thwarted by those around him.

Mueller laid out multiple episodes in which Trump directed others to influence or curtail the Russia investigation after the special counsel’s appointment in May 2017. Those efforts “were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests,” Mueller wrote.

I ask you … is this the ‘man’ you want to lead this nation?  Seriously?

Jerry Nadler, Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary, has appropriately determined that the committee needs to hear directly from Mr. Mueller, and as such sent him this letter …Nadler-letter-Mueller

This should make for some real interesting conversations in the White House.

Of course, the republicans are reading into the report what they wish to see … or more likely, are simply accepting Barr’s version, for that is what they want to believe.  Take the blinders off now, people … time to wake up from that little nappie.

“The report is one-sided, it has an incredible standard of proof. It’s that ‘we couldn’t be convinced that he didn’t obstruct justice,’. Can you prove that he did? That answer is, no they can’t. That is like a cheap shot, but if they can’t prove it, why don’t they just regurgitate all the garbage that they have? It’s all one-sided, a lot of it not true, a lot of it exaggerated. Even if it’s all true, which it isn’t, he didn’t commit a crime. He didn’t do anything wrong.” – Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is preparing a rebuttal to the Mueller report

I liked what Jim Wright had to say, and I fully concur at this point …

Impeach Trump.

There is more than enough reason to begin impeachment proceedings. We impeached both Nixon and Clinton for far less than is in the Mueller Report.

So, impeach Trump.

Impeach him in the House. Take up the investigation, one he CANNOT stop or obstruct or redact, one his pet Attorney General and his cronies cannot impede, one that Trump himself has NO control over whatsoever, and impeach him if that’s where the evidence leads.

THEN if the Senate refuses to convict, if Mitch McConnell refuses to take up the impeachment, refuses his duty and the Senate stands by him, hang it around their dirty cowardly necks like a fucking albatross.

Make them own it in 2020. Make them own it forever.

Surely, if they can read, even the republicans in Congress must now agree that Donald Trump has committed, if not indictable crimes, certainly impeachable offenses.  He does not operate in the best interest of this nation.  He is a president in name only.  Game over, Mr. Trump?  Far from it.

A Shared Opinion …

There are a number of opinion writers who I read regularly, and Charles Blow of the New York Times is one.  His column on Sunday struck a chord, for much of what he says mirrors my own thoughts very closely, especially when he says, “I would love nothing more than to write about other things, worthy things, more intellectually stimulating things. But for more than two years, I have written almost exclusively about Donald Trump.”  I initially intended to only provide a few snippets from this column, but after I studied and pondered it a bit, I decided to share the entire column after all.  Give it a read … I think you’ll be able to relate to much of what he says …

You Have a Right to Weariness

The struggle for goodness and decency is an eternal struggle, not a seasonal one.

Charles BlowBy Charles M. Blow, Opinion Columnist

Do we have a right to weariness in an era of animus? More precisely, can we afford it, or is exhaustion a luxury reserved for those whose wealth, privilege and status insulate them from the losses the rest of us could suffer? Does patriotic defense of country require perpetual, obsessive vigilance, or is it permissible to retreat occasionally for one’s own mental and spiritual health?

These are questions I ask myself regularly, and ones that are frequently asked of me, if not in those exact words. People are trying to figure out the proper posture to take in a world riven by deceit and corruption, a world in which the leadership of the country represents an assault on decency.

This is a conundrum, I must confess.

I, as much as anyone else, feel trapped by our current predicament. I would love nothing more than to write about other things, worthy things, more intellectually stimulating things. But for more than two years, I have written almost exclusively about Donald Trump.

I feel compelled by what I view as history, fundamental and consequential, playing out right before me with nothing short of the life of the republic at stake. And yet, at a certain point, words begin to fail, or the obvious has already been stated. Once you have pointed out that Trump is a liar, you can then note only that he is telling more lies. The same goes for his racism, bullying, anti-intellectualism, corruption and grift.

At some point, it becomes clear that the abnormal, outrageous and unacceptable have become a constant, and even the rolling boil of righteous folk’s indignation reduces to a simmer.

People often ask me, “When will it end? What can we do to get him out of there?”

My answer always is, “I doubt it will end soon, and there’s very little anyone can do to change that.”

I hate to bear that message, but it is the only one I can deliver if I wish to be honest rather than popular.

As much as there was to celebrate last week, with liberals winning control of the House of Representatives, and doing so with such a diverse slate of candidates, it was also clear that Republican control of the Senate means that any hope of removing Trump via impeachment has shrunk to nearly nothing. Even if the House impeaches Trump, the Senate remains highly unlikely to remove him.

Democrats are even debating how far they can take oversight in the House without turning off people politically.

The only hope is that the Robert Mueller investigation may deliver something so damning that some Senate Republicans view it as unacceptable. But there is no evidence as of yet that anything would sway them.

Trump is taking steps to severely hamper Mueller’s efforts. Last week, he fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and installed Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general. The F.B.I. is currently investigating corruption at a company where Mr. Whitaker sat on the advisory board.

At this point, it may be more prudent to view what comes from the Mueller probe as fodder for the 2020 presidential campaign. It may not pave the way for an impeachment conviction by the Senate, but could well pave the way for an electoral “impeachment.”

It is very likely that we are stuck with Trump until the 2020 election, and even then the Democrats can take nothing for granted if they wish to defeat him.

That is the root of people’s distress. How can Republicans in Congress abide this behavior and use it for political positioning? How can so many of our neighbors condone open hostility to minorities, the press and the truth?

Or maybe the questions are for us. How could we not have registered fully just how hostile a substantial portion of America is to inclusion and equality? How could we not have registered the full depths of American racism and misogyny? How could we not remember that American progress has always been like a dance with a disagreeable partner, stumbling backward as well as moving forward?

I remember calling my mother when Trump was elected, and she was not nearly as distraught as I thought she’d be. Her stated reason: We’ve been through worse. She is an elderly black woman from the South. Her sense of history and heartbreak are long and fraught.

Recently, I’ve delved even more deeply into this line of thinking, reading about how black people positioned themselves during both Reconstruction and Jim Crow, when the political structures were largely arrayed against them.

I wanted to know how they survived and made progress against open hostility. The recurring themes are to never lose hope in the ultimate victory of righteousness; to focus your fire on the things you are most able to change; and to realize that change is neither quick nor permanent.

The struggle for goodness and decency is an eternal struggle, not a seasonal one.

Don’t beat yourself up if you need to tune out every now and then and take a mental health break. There is no shame in it. This is a forever fight. Once you have recharged, reapply your armor and rejoin the fight with even more vigor.

Another … sigh … Trumptian Terror

On Wednesday, the day after the mid-term elections, Donald Trump demanded the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  We all knew it was coming, and I think others will follow. While I have no love for Jeff Sessions, who is a proven racist, I am greatly disturbed by his termination.  With Sessions gone, the door is open to either terminate or stifle the Mueller investigation.  The Mueller investigation is no ‘witch hunt’, as Trump has claimed, but I strongly suspect has uncovered scandal and corruption beyond what we can even imagine.  Methinks Mr. Trump doth protest far too much, and his claims of innocence are a joke … a bad joke.

Let us take a look at the man who will be serving as a temporary replacement for Session.

Matthew-whitakerHis name is Matthew Whitaker.  He is an attorney with a rather unremarkable career thus far, his biggest ‘claim to fame’ being that he has run for public office three times … and lost ‘bigly’ two of the three.  Whitaker ran as a Republican for Treasurer of Iowa in 2002 and lost by 12%.  He ran for the Iowa Senate seat vacated by Tom Harkin in 2014 but came in only 4th in the republican primary with less than 8% of the votes.  After the 2014 loss, he became a paid advisory board member for a company called World Patent Marketing, a fraudulent business based in Florida that deceived inventors into thinking that the company had successfully commercialized other inventions.  The company was shut down by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2017.

In September of 2017, Whitaker was appointed to be Jeff Sessions’ Chief of Staff at the Department of Justice.  The month before, he wrote an opinion column for CNN titled “Mueller’s Investigation of Trump is Going Too Far.”  His premise was that the Mueller investigation should be limited and should not probe into Trump’s finances.  And in June 2017, three months before becoming Chief of Staff, he said publicly …

“I also think, you know, we have another hearing in front of Congress where there is no evidence of collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign. Democrats continue to conflate the collusion issue, which there is no evidence of, with, with the fact that Russians did try to interfere with the election.”

His views on the Mueller investigation are high priority and would take an entire post to discuss, and while that is the most urgent issue that he will likely face in the coming two months, there are others that are equally appalling.  Let’s take a look at a few …

  • On gun control“The mass shootings we’ve seen in our country have been often times and always executed by mentally ill individuals who those laws never would’ve impacted in the first place. So I don’t think infringing on Second Amendment rights will prevent those types of events.”  Right-o … why bother to try to save a few thousand lives every month … they aren’t your lives, after all!

  • On climate change“I think the evidence is inconclusive, but there may be a human component to global warming. But that’s very small and it may be part of the natural warming or cooling of the planet. I’m certainly not a climate expert, but I don’t believe in Cap and Trade or those types of regulations that try to hamstring the U.S. economy as other countries continue to put carbon into the air. I don’t believe in big government solutions to a problem that doesn’t appear to be that significant or quite possibly isn’t man made.”  Yeah, again … what’s a few million lives as long as they aren’t yours?


  • On education“I think the Department of Education should be disbanded and the resources either returned to the taxpayers or put into the schools. Bureaucrats in Washington D.C. shouldn’t know how to better educate my kids than I do.”  Heh heh heh … like you’ve shown yourself to be so bloomin’ smart???  🤣🤣🤣


  • On marriage“I believe marriage is between one man and one woman. Throughout history it’s traditionally been up to the churches and to God to define that. I don’t have an omnibus solution. Certainly it’s affecting all sorts of parts of our country. Here in the state of Iowa we can’t even get our elected officials to do anything about it and that’s really frustrating. It’s affecting our military. There are chaplains in the military under a lot of pressure to go against their religious beliefs.”  Bigot.  Homophobe.


  • On federal judges“I’d like to see things like their worldview, what informs them. Are they people of faith? Do they have a biblical view of justice? — which I think is very important. And what I know is as long as they have that worldview, that they’ll be a good judge. And if they have a secular worldview, then I’m going to be very concerned about how they judge.” Hey Jerkface … every hear of separation of church and state???  Has anyone ever told you that this is a SECULAR government???

Add to that he has indicated his belief that Social Security is unconstitutional and that basic labor laws like the minimum wage must be struck down.

In an interesting twist yesterday, a number of prominent attorneys including none other than George Conway, Kellyanne’s husband, have claimed that it is illegal for Trump to appoint Whitaker as acting Attorney General because he is evading the requirement to seek the Senate’s advice and consent for the nation’s chief law enforcement officer.  Don’t hyperventilate over this one, folks.

Under Article II, Section 2, Clause 2, otherwise known as the “appointments clause” of the U.S. Constitution, a principal officer, that is one who reports only to the president, must be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate under its “Advice and Consent” powers.  Legally, I agree with Mr. Conway and the others, but … this is the reign of Trump, where Trump considers himself above the law, and the relevant people in Congress and the Supreme Court have upheld his lawlessness more than once.  And the bottom line is that if Trump is forced to bring Whitaker before the Senate to confirm his nomination … well, need I say more?  It will mean not much more than a delay of a few days.  Remember Brett Kavanaugh?

He Who Would Be King

It must be galling to Donald Trump that he has to sit tight on the things he has planned.  He is one who filters neither his speech nor his actions.  If he thinks it at any given moment, it free-falls from either his mouth or his thumbs on Twitter.  If he wants to say it, he says it.  If he wants to do it, he does it.  Rarely in his life has he seen any lasting consequences for his speech or actions, so why stop now?  But now he is being strongly cautioned by his top advisors, lawyers, and the GOP that to act now would almost certainly doom the Republican Party on November 6th, and likely bring about the ultimate end of the Reign of Trump.  Democracy hangs in the balance, and if he wishes to defeat it, he must bide his time.

What are those plans he is being forced to sit on?  All the steps that would lead to ending the Mueller investigation, the last remaining impediment to his autocracy.  Plain and simple.  Listen to what he had to say on Fox and Friends this morning when asked if he is planning to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions:

“I’m not doing anything — I want to get the elections over with, we’ll see what happens. I’m very disappointed that we go through this witch hunt, this ridiculous witch hunt… there’s no collusion. There is no collusion. There’s no collusion. There is collusion with Hillary Clinton and the Russians, but there’s no collusion with the Republicans, and there’s certainly no collusion with Donald Trump. And everyone knows it, and they ought to get it over with and save a lot of money, and a lot of time.”

‘Everyone’ knows it?  Who, exactly, constitutes ‘everyone’?

More of what he’s been saying all along?  Sure, but … remember a couple of weeks ago when he had summoned Rod Rosenstein to the White House, everyone was certain he was about to fire him, then … nothing?  My best guess is that he had every intention of firing him that day, but people with functioning minds strongly warned against it so close to the mid-term elections.  The stakes are high next month for the GOP and they are not about to let Trump blow it if they can help it.

We already have enough evidence pointing to the Russians having intervened on behalf of Donald Trump in the 2016 elections.  Where there is smoke, there’s bound to be a fire.  Robert Mueller’s team is under the gun to make certain they can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that what they report is true, for their report will no doubt be subject to the highest scrutiny, held under the strongest magnifying glass and picked apart many times over.  The ‘I’s must be dotted and the ‘T’s must be crossed.  That takes time.  Trump’s goal is to make certain they don’t have that time.

What happens if Trump has his way, if the mid-term elections result in an ongoing republican majority in both the House and the Senate, if he fires first Sessions, then Rosenstein?  Trump does not have the legal authority to fire Rosenstein directly, although he thumbs his nose at the limits of his legal authority, and in many cases gets by with it.  Solicitor General Noel Francisco is next in the line of succession if Rosenstein were gone, and he would then have oversight of the investigation.

Trump could legally pursue a number of options from telling Francisco to stop Mueller from pursuing any avenue of inquiry that involves Trump’s financial records or other sensitive topics, or he could order him to fire Mueller and either allow the investigation to continue with a replacement (or without a special counsel at all) or shut it down entirely.  In the past 21 months, Trump has neatly skirted the law more than once, has taken the stance that he, as president, is above the law, that it simply does not apply to him, and, because of a consenting majority in Congress, has pretty much had a free reign.

The Mueller investigation is not a witch hunt, is not a hoax, and is very much a legitimate investigation that is expected to produce eye-opening results that should lead to some changes in our government.  If it is shut down, or Mueller’s hands tied tightly as the FBI’s were in the sham of a Kavanaugh investigation, then folks … we are in trouble.  Today we still have a voice … we can vote the sycophants who have given Trump free rein out of Congress in less than four weeks. We can work to convince others to vote to remove that boot-licking republican majority from Congress so that Congress can once again become what it was intended:  an oversight on the power of the executive branch.  I predict that if we fail in this mission, we may not have another chance in our lifetimes.  Many will argue that the Constitution will protect our freedoms, but I believe that the strength of the Constitution has already been chipped away and eroded by the current administration and it is only a matter of time before it is burned.

The moral of this long-winded story:  VOTE!!!King trump

One Person, No Vote

One Person No VoteA new book was released today.  No, I’m not talking about Bob Woodward’s Fear:  Trump in the White House, although I did start reading that last night … actually this morning around 4:00 a.m.  No, the new book I’m talking about is by Carol Anderson, and the title is One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying Our Democracy.

From Amazon …

From the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of White Rage, the startling–and timely–history of voter suppression in America, with a foreword by Senator Dick Durbin.

In her New York Times bestseller White Rage, Carol Anderson laid bare an insidious history of policies that have systematically impeded black progress in America, from 1865 to our combustible present. With One Person, No Vote, she chronicles a related history: the rollbacks to African American participation in the vote since the 2013 Supreme Court decision that eviscerated the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Known as the Shelby ruling, this decision effectively allowed districts with a demonstrated history of racial discrimination to change voting requirements without approval from the Department of Justice.

Focusing on the aftermath of Shelby, Anderson follows the astonishing story of government-dictated racial discrimination unfolding before our very eyes as more and more states adopt voter suppression laws. In gripping, enlightening detail she explains how voter suppression works, from photo ID requirements to gerrymandering to poll closures. And with vivid characters, she explores the resistance: the organizing, activism, and court battles to restore the basic right to vote to all Americans as the nation gears up for the 2018 midterm elections.

Carol AndersonMs. Anderson is Charles Howard Candler Professor of African American Studies at Emory University and well-qualified to write on this topic.  One example from her book is astounding, and not in any good way:

Jeff Sessions, for example, when he was Alabama U.S. attorney, referred to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as an “intrusive piece of legislation,” then “rounded up twenty elderly blacks and had Alabama state troopers drive them away from their community into a predominately white area to be fingerprinted, photographed and grilled before a grand jury” to intimidate them out of voting. – From an interview published in Kirkus Reviews

And, as if to prove the point, just yesterday the Editorial Board at The Washington Post published the following:

The GOP finds yet another way to suppress the vote

IT WAS 5 p.m. on a Friday, just as Labor Day weekend was starting, when, without warning, faxes arrived at North Carolina’s state board of elections and 44 county election boards. The faxes contained a demand so outlandish — and so blatantly in violation of state privacy laws — that several officials assumed they were a hoax. A federal subpoena demanded practically every voting document imaginable, going back years. Absentee, provisional and regular ballots. Registration applications. Early-voting applications. Absentee ballot requests. Poll books.

In fact, it was no hoax. The subpoena sought a list of items which, if satisfied, would force state and local officials to produce at least 20 million documents — in less than four weeks. Prosecutors also demanded eight years of records from the state Division of Motor Vehicles, through which voters are allowed to register to vote. No explanation was provided by Immigration and Customs Enforcement or federal prosecutors, who sought the documents. It is a fishing expedition by the Trump administration to support the president’s repeatedly discredited assertions that voting fraud is widespread, especially by noncitizens casting illegal ballots.

The effect of this expedition, led by Robert J. Higdon Jr., the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, is easy to foresee: This is one more in a long line of GOP efforts to suppress the vote. Members of the state board of elections, split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, voted unanimously to fight the subpoena, which would overwhelm local boards’ administrative capacity. It also would intimidate voters who, with good reason, would fear their votes and other sensitive information were being handed over to federal officials.

Faced with an outcry from state and local officials, prosecutors dropped their initial, preposterous demand that the records be handed over by Sept. 25, a deadline that would have played havoc with preparations for the fall elections. They also said state officials could redact voters’ choices on some 2.2 million early and absentee ballots — a clerical task that would consume untold hours of work. (More than 3.3 million regular ballots cannot be traced to the voters who cast them.)

The absurdity of the document demand, and the president’s broader assertion that the U.S. voting system is “rigged” and marred by massive fraudulent voting and the participation of illegal immigrants, was underscored by indictments announced last month, also in the Eastern District of North Carolina. The indictments charged 19 foreign nationals — from Japan, Italy, South Korea, Germany, Poland, Mexico, Haiti, Grenada and several other countries — with voting illegally in the 2016 elections.

Nineteen illegal votes, out of more than 4.5 million ballots cast in North Carolina that year, is minuscule. Far from justifying a demand for millions of documents, it underscores the conclusion by dozens of reputable scholars and other investigators that illegal voting is exceedingly rare. That the administration pursues its crusade to show otherwise is an exercise in unicorn-spotting, but it is also something far more sinister. The real agenda is to discredit American democracy and to scare away Democratic-leaning voters. It represents an abominable misuse of law enforcement powers.

It would seem that the GOP is fairly certain they cannot maintain their majority in Congress in a fair and honest election, so the next best thing is to stifle the voters’ voices.  Trump’s claim of the system being rigged may be prophetic, rather than historical.  The North Carolina subpoena reeks of corruption, but it also appears to signal panic within the GOP.

Anderson’s advice for overcoming the challenges is to “Be engaged. Register and vote. Get the people around you to register and vote. Really engage with the issues. Understand the position of the Secretary of State in your state who sits over election machinery. Donate to the ACLU and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, who are fighting to open up the ballot box, to rid the nation of unequal democracy.”

The election on November 6th is our last best hope to curtail the rampant corruption that defines the Trump administration.  Spread the word …

Open Letter to Members of the U.S. Congress

Dear Members of Congress …

Once again, I am compelled on behalf of the citizens of this nation to ask you to please do the jobs you swore to do when you took that oath of office and swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution.  I urge you to recall, if you will, that Donald Trump is not your employer … We The People are, in fact, your employers.  As such, we are very concerned when we hear Trump threaten to interfere with the business of the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and most importantly, the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s influence into our election process in 2016.

Never before in the history of this nation has there been such corruption as we have seen these past 19 months, not even during the Watergate scandal, which pales in comparison to Trumpgate.  If Donald Trump is allowed to continue his worrisome tirades unchecked, there is a very real possibility that we will never know the truth about what happened and who was involved. In that case, elections may well never be fair and honest again in this nation.

There is already more than ample evidence that there was communication and camaraderie between Russian officials and members of the Trump family & campaign, and yet when he calls the investigation a “witch hunt”, you turn a blind eye.  We the People have not only a right, but also a responsibility to find out the truth and act accordingly.  YOU … the members of the legislative branch, the people who are supposed to provide the “checks and balances” on the executive power, certainly have a responsibility to ensure that the facts, the truth, comes out.  Thus far, you have not done the job for which you are being paid!

I, on behalf of every citizen of this nation, call on you today to introduce and pass bi-partisan legislation protecting the integrity of the Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller.  For once in your term in office, please do the bidding of the people who voted you into office and whose hard-earned tax dollars are feeding your children.  This is, quite possibly, your last opportunity to do the right thing.

Sincerely,

We The People of the United States of America

Re-defining “Liberty”

Two weeks ago, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the creation of a “religious liberty task force” to help protect the right of every American “to believe, worship and exercise their faith in the public square.”  Religious liberty … what exactly does that mean?  To me, it means the right of every person to believe as he or she sees fit, to belong to any church of their choice, or none at all.  It is, as I see it, an individual ‘right’. It is not, however, the right to inflict your own beliefs upon others.

George Marsden, a religious historian at the University of Notre Dame, describes religious liberty as ‘inclusive pluralism’, a society in which no religion is preferred over another, and all believers can worship as they see fit.  Sounds about right, don’t you think?

But by Trump’s, Sessions’ and the evangelical’s definition, it changes to connote freedoms and privileges granted mostly to Christians — specifically, the white conservative Christians who form a vital part of the Republican base. Instead of inclusive pluralism, it now stands for exclusive primacy of the Christian faith.  Politicized religion.

In 2016, as he stumped along the campaign trail, Trump met with a large group of nearly 1,000 evangelicals, and here is what he said …

“This is such an important election. And I say to you folks because you have such power, such influence. Unfortunately, the government has weeded it away from you pretty strongly. But you’re going to get it back.”

I have two questions:

  • Why should any religious group have ‘power and influence’ in a secular government? Or society?
  • What the Sam Heck did the government “weed” away from the evangelicals?

bullshit

In the same meeting, he also promised them that they would be allowed to say “Merry Christmas” again. Excuse me, but nobody ever said they couldn’t!!!  Some businesses asked their employees to use “Happy Holidays” instead, as a courtesy to those of us who are not Christians, but are Jews, Muslims, Hindus or atheists, but nobody stopped anybody from saying “Merry Christmas”!

Then, to add insult to injury, Trump promised them that if they voted him into office, he would abandon the Johnson Amendment that forbids tax-exempt organizations from campaigning for a political candidate.  It doesn’t say that members of a church cannot campaign for a candidate as individuals, only that the church itself cannot endorse a specific candidate if they wish to maintain their tax-exempt status.  It is intended to keep religion out of politics – remember the concept of ‘separation of church and state’?

And that is precisely what he did with the religious liberty executive order he signed in May, bypassing Congress altogether … again.  Not that it would have mattered, for when he says “Jump!”, the boot-lickers in Congress ask “How high?”  And when he signed the bloody order, he commented, “We are giving our churches their voices back.”  They. Never. Lost. Their. Voices.

Only about 70% of the American public profess to be Christian.  What about the other 30% of us?  Religious liberty as defined by this administration and its supporters is liberty only for white Christians. In a recent Supreme Court decision, the Court granted Christian business owners the right to refuse service to LGBT people. The next logical step is that Christian business owners will be granted the right to refuse service to a Jew, or a Muslim, or a non-believer.  Perhaps business owners will be allowed to refuse service to African-Americans … or Latinos.

Envision a nation where your drivers’ license has a section for religion. For gender orientation.  Remember Trump’s comment a week or so ago about having to have a photo ID to buy groceries?  Maybe he was projecting into the future he envisions where an ID distinguishing religion, ethnicity, gender identification, and length of toenails are revealed.  Or perhaps … or perhaps all non-Christians will just wear a yellow star and have a number tattooed on their forearm like the one my Uncle Leon had.

Far-fetched?  Maybe, but … seemingly innocuous phrases like “religious liberty” and “family values” have become buzzwords for discrimination against any whose ideas or lifestyles differ from the Christian community.  It has become harsh and discriminatory.  ‘Values’ and ‘Liberty’ have somehow become something very ugly.

When Sessions announced his ‘task force’, he had a little celebratory ceremony … yes, by all means, let’s celebrate widespread discrimination!  He made a comment that was neither true nor sensible, referring to “nuns ordered to buy contraception” under President Obama.  To set the record straight, no nun in the history of the U.S. has ever been forced to buy contraceptives under any president!  And guess who was the guest speaker at Sessions’ little celebration?  None other than the bigoted Jack Phillips, the baker in Nevada who was so offended at being asked to place a topper with two men atop a wedding cake that he went all the way to the Supreme Court and forever changed the face of the nation.

I recently read an OpEd that said the founding fathers would not recognize the definition of ‘religious liberty’ in this, the 21st century.  To be honest, I don’t recognize it myself.  We have taken “white Christian privilege” too far, and this nation is headed down a very dangerous path.  It is one you can find in the history books if you go back to the early 1930s in Europe.

“Say What???” Headlines …

Sometimes they’re funny, sometimes they’re jaw-dropping, sometimes they make you say “WTF?” else just shake your head. You know the ones I’m talking about … those headlines that you just have to click on and read at least the first paragraph of the story.  A couple of them caught my eye yesterday and … I just had to read the story.


PGA Championship Servers Hacked and Files Locked

Wha … wait … doesn’t PGA stand for Professional Golfers’ Association?  Isn’t golf that game that presidents seem to like so much, for it requires little skill or thought … they just hit a defenseless little ball repeatedly until it cries “Uncle!” and drops into a hole, hoping not to be pummeled any more?  So, how does one hack golf???  (Apologies to any of my friends who happen to be golfers)

trump-golf

So THAT’s where all those Big Macs went!

Turns out that the PGA Championship started yesterday and runs through Sunday.  Who knew?  Who cared?  Apparently the files containing marketing materials such as banners and logos were attacked using ransomware and are locked until the PGA pays the ransom.  Funny, though, that the hackers failed to specify how much ransom they wanted.

Golfweek reported that the hackers sent an email address and offered to decrypt two files to prove they could unlock them. “We exclusively have decryption software for your situation. No decryption software is available in the public.” The hackers also warned that any attempts to crack the encryption could cause the loss of the data in question.

golferNo word on whether the PGA plans to try to figure out how much money the hackers want and pay the ransom or not.  If they’re smart, they likely have a backup copy somewhere, and hey – it’s banners and logos for a golf game, not state secrets!


US Drink-Drive Suspect Tells Police She’s ‘Clean, White Girl’

Lauren CutshawI knew as soon as I saw the headline that this one was going to make me angry.  33-year-old Lauren Cutshaw had been drinking when she breezed through a four-way stop in Bluffton, South Carolina.  Although she claimed to have drank only two glasses of wine, her blood test proved the lie, for it came back 0.18 percent – well over the legal limit in every state.  She also had marijuana in her car.  But none of that bothers me as much as what she said to the officer who arrested her.

“I’m a pretty girl, please, don’t make me go.” 

Later, at the precinct, police officer Baker Odom wrote in his report, Cutshaw went further. She said she was also a “thoroughbred” and “white, clean girl.”

“You’re a cop, you should know what that means based on the people that come in this room.”

She could have killed somebody, and yet she should be forgiven because she is a white, arrogant b**ch?  I say, “Book ‘er, Dano!”


Jeff Sessions Wants to Keep Working with This Hate group, So He Told Them They Aren’t a Hate Group

Say what??? The group is called Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), and it is, indeed, a hate group.  Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has identified ADF as an anti-LGBTQ hate group. The group has defended wedding vendors challenging nondiscrimination laws, parents and schools that want to reject transgender students, and businesses that want the right to refuse to even employ LGBTQ people. They have even repeatedly advocated for the criminalization of homosexuality. Nonetheless, Sessions empathizes with and supports this group.

adf logoSessions addressed the ADF on Wednesday. He assured them that he does not believe they are a hate group for constantly advocating for discrimination against LGBTQ people. He told the group that people of faith are facing “a bigoted ideology which is founded on animus towards people of faith.” I repeat … Say What???

In a letter to Sessions, SPLC President Richard Cohen wrote:

“If the ADF had its way, gay people would be back in the closet for fear of going to jail. It’s inappropriate for the nation’s top law enforcement officer to lend the prestige of his office to this group. And it’s ironic to suggest that the rights of ADF sympathizers are under attack when the ADF is doing everything in its power to deny the equal protection of the laws to the LGBT community.”

It seems to me that the words ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty’ are misunderstood by our illustrious Attorney General, not to mention the ‘man’ in the Oval Office.  Apparently Sessions intends his newly created and highly controversial “Religious Liberty Taskforce” to work closely with ADF.  Are you frightened yet?  I am.


Ontario Premier Doug Ford Promises ‘A Buck a Beer’

A bit of background … in June, Ontario elected a populist Premier, Doug Ford, who in many ways is a Trump clone, albeit he is more well-spoken (he can actually make whole sentences out of words!!!) and not as outwardly disgusting.  But his platforms are the same, and already he has been busily cutting back on education, environmental regulations, and social services, while cutting taxes on the wealthy.  Another one who failed Econ 101!  But this article is less about his platform as a whole, and more about one ‘promise’ he is keeping to his followers:  cheaper beer!

doug ford

Why do all the ‘populists’ have to be overweight and have weird hair?

From the BBC website …

As leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, Mr. Ford ran a populist campaign last spring, promising to cut taxes, freeze spending, and slash the cost of things like electricity and beer. Specifically, he swore to reduce the minimum cost of beer from C$1.25 (¢96, 74p) a beer to just C$1.  Now that he’s in power, he says that “buck-a-beer” will be implemented 27 August. “The day you’ve been waiting for is finally here. We’re bringing back buck-a-beer to Ontario,” he announced to applause at a brewery in Picton, Ontario, on Tuesday.

While his proposal may be popular with some, others were less pleased:

“I don’t need a #BuckABeer, I need my fellow Canadians to have a #BasicIncome and to be proud to live in a nation that considers food security, and poverty more important than cheap beer.”

“Instead of a dollar a beer, how about dollar a day insulin supplies, dollar an hour day care, dollar an hour tuition, dollar a book, dollar a public transit ride.”

Well, I guess if he makes the beer cheap enough, he can keep them mostly inebriated and they won’t have their wits about them enough to figure out how he’s making a mucky mess of the province just as his role model Trump is of the U.S.


I’m sure I can find more, but that’s enough to give you some things to ponder this happy Friday!  Have a great day, my friends!