New Poll spells trouble for Dems

I was pondering on a similar post, when Jeff’s post popped up in my inbox. He has said it better than I could have. This is not the news you want to hear, but it is the news you NEED to hear, for next year’s election is not, as some believe, a sure thing. Thank you, Jeff, for this analysis … though it may not be what we hope to hear, it is certainly information that we should be thinking about.

On The Fence Voters

Trump still competitive in battleground states

There’s roughly a year to go before we decide who will become President of the United States on January 20, 2021. Recent polls telling us who’s up and who’s down rarely cause a rise to my blood pressure.

Until the one that just came out, that is.

The New York Times/Sienna College poll, released yesterday, should be a wake-up call to all of us who think that Donald Trump is a disaster for America. The idea that he could win again, even with all we know about his presidency, is beyond frightening. However, when you look at the results of the poll, the warning signs are flashing loudly.

But many may ask, “What’s the big deal? All the top tier Democrats are leading Trump overall nationally, some by nearly ten percentage points.” That’s true. Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders all lead Trump…

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“I Tried Not To Be Snarky” Snippets

Friends … I had every intention of NOT being snarky this morning.  My intentions were pure and good … I would write something upbeat and cheery … surely I could have an attitude adjustment and be happy-go-lucky just for one post, right?  Right?  Sigh.  Wrong.


Why?

Below is a map of the United States … please take just one minute to look at it and see where Colorado is located (hint … it’s the blue state just left of center).us-states-and-capitalsNow, you see Colorado there, right?  And … do you notice that there is at least one whole state, New Mexico, between Colorado and the U.S.-Mexican border?  The southernmost part of Colorado is some 450 miles from the border.  And yet …

“You know why we’re going to win New Mexico? Because they want safety on their border and they didn’t have it. And we’re building a wall on the border of New Mexico.  And we’re building a wall in Colorado. We’re building a beautiful wall. A big one that really works that you can’t get over, you can’t get under.”

Dang! I didn’t know there was a feud going on between Colorado and New Mexico!  Why didn’t someone tell me?  That was Donald Trump speaking at an oil and gas conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, yesterday.  Colorado’s governor, Jared Polis, had a great comeback, though …

“Well this is awkward. Colorado doesn’t border Mexico. Good thing Colorado now offers free full day kindergarten, so our kids can learn basic geography.”

Good one, Guv!  Not so good, Donnie … in fact, downright embarrassing.

Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont also had a good one, inspired by Sharpiegate …Colorado-sharpiegate


And speaking of … misspeaking …

What’s in a name, anyway?

It isn’t the most important thing in the world, certainly not the worst of Trump’s many, many, many terrible tweeting faux pas, but it speaks volumes about how he views other people.

On July 15th, Trump formally nominated Mark Esper as Secretary of Defense.  The Senate quickly confirmed the nomination, as they have with most of Trump’s nominee’s, and Mr. Esper took office on July 23rd.  Imagine Mr. Esper’s surprise on Sunday when he saw this tweet by Trump …esperantoSure, it’s a minor thing, but it tells us that Trump doesn’t even think enough of his own hand-picked cabinet member to get his name right.  And it wasn’t a live broadcast, where he might be forgiven for misspeaking, but rather a tweet, where he had the opportunity to look at it, realize his mistake, and correct it before hitting ‘Send’.  I see this as a matter of great disrespect.  Am I surprised?  Not at all.  However, if I were Mr. Esper or any other member of Trump’s administration, I would take this as yet another sign that he considers his staff as nothing more than disposable assets to be used, abused, and kicked aside when they displease him.


The ultimate hypocrisy …

You’d have to laugh, if only it weren’t more asininities coming from members of the Trump clan.  Now, we all know that Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, served on the Board of Directors of one of Ukraine’s largest natural gas companies.  This had nothing to do with Joe Biden other than perhaps the Biden name gave him a foot in the door.  There is no scandal, such as the one Donald Trump has been attempting to fabricate for the past several months, ever since most polls revealed that if the election were held today, he would lose to Joe Biden.

But, there is a certain irony when the entire Trump clan go on national television to whine … yes, folks, they whined … about nepotism!  Think about that one for a minute.  The Trump clan … is decrying nepotism???

You’ve got Jared and Ivanka, neither of whom could obtain security clearances, serving as “presidential advisors” … and both, I might add, who have business interests tied to Trump’s presidency.  And then, there’s Don Jr. and Eric who are supposed to be running Trump’s businesses, but somehow find time to stick their long noses into the day-to-day business of governance, and frequently tweet on daddy’s behalf, and even appear on Fox News to toot daddy’s horn!  Disgusting animal killers is what they are!

And these infamous fools critique Joe Biden’s son for … um … accepting a job that his education well prepared him for???

Junior and Eric travel all ‘round the country on our dime, folks.  They are accompanied by Secret Service agents wherever they go, and believe me, they go to some places that you and I could only dream of.  And we … yes, We the People, We the Taxpayer, pay for their journeys.  Whatever high-classed (read, expensive) accommodations they choose, the Secret Service must also inhabit … on our dime.  Even though they have NO OFFICIAL ROLE, nor are they qualified for one, in our government.  And they are screeching “Nepotism” at the Bidens???  Yeah, right, dude.  If anyone buys this one, please call me, for I have a lovely little bridge in Brooklyn I will sell cheap!


Granted, none of these stories constitute impeachable offenses … that’s a story for another day.  Nor are they as relevant as certain republicans in Congress, led by the obnoxious Matt Gaetz, disruptong an impeachment inquiry for some five hours today, breaking every rule in the book.  Again, that’s a story for later.  But, even these small incidents have relevance because they show us the mindset that is allegedly running this nation.  Can’t get your own employee’s name right?  Sheesh.  When I was in management, I made sure to know even the names of the children of the people who worked for me … it’s called ‘common courtesy’, ‘respect’, ‘caring’.  And to claim to be a “stable genius”, with “great and unmatched wisdom”, but not even know where the state of Colorado is???  Every bit of this, every ignominious tweet where he misspells words, calls people names, is further evidence that not only is he not a genius, but he is neither intelligent nor educated.  And yet … some 40% of the people in this country want that.

As for my failed attempt at not being snarky … don’t look for it to happen any time soon.  In fact, I’m thinking about changing my middle name to ‘Snarky’.  But, to prove that I am not the snarkiest, here is a clip from Seth Meyers who has snarky down to a science!

Questions … And More Questions

As most of you know, one of my favourite journalists is Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times.  Kristof has received two Pulitzer Prizes, for his coverage of China and of the genocide in Darfur.  He is often out and about covering humanitarian crises around the globe.  But, his political views back here at home are typically spot-on … his is the voice of calm, of reason amidst all the chaos.  His OpEd yesterday is no exception, as he weighs in on … what else?  Impeachment and Trump’s abuse of power.  His words are sound and well worth the read.

Mr. President, a Few Questions

nicholas-kristof-thumblargeBy Nicholas Kristof
Opinion Columnist
SEPT. 27, 2019

“Shall any man be above justice?” George Mason asked in 1787 at the Constitutional Convention. “Above all, shall that man be above it, who can commit the most extensive injustice?”

That was a central question for the framers of the Constitution — to what extent should impeachment be a check on a president? — and it’s the central question for our political system today.

President Trump’s bullying of Ukraine to target Joe Biden is parallel to the kinds of abuse that the framers discussed when they adopted the impeachment clause. What they fretted about was a leader who abused power — by colluding with a foreign country, James Madison suggested — and threatened the integrity of our system.

So, guided by those concerns of abuse of power, let’s see what the impeachment inquiry turns up. Among the areas that merit further investigation:

What was Russia’s role? Did Trump discuss Ukraine with Vladimir Putin in their June meeting in Osaka, in their Paris or Helsinki meetings last year, or in their July 31 phone call? Did Putin plant misinformation that Trump acted on?

In his July 25 call with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump raised the bizarre conspiracy theory that it had been Ukraine rather than Russia that had hacked Democratic emails. Doesn’t that sound as if it was translated from the original Russian?

Likewise, Trump’s distrust of his ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, and his faith that a trove of dirt about Biden corruption was sitting in Ukraine waiting to be dug up — why, all this resembles what a skilled K.G.B. officer might say to manipulate a naïve American acolyte.

Certainly Putin benefited from Trump’s hold on nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine, from the American coolness toward Zelensky and from the sidelining of Ukraine experts such as Ambassador Yovanovitch.

There are whispers of this in the intelligence community, but let’s be clear that these are questions rather than allegations. Unfortunately, the Kremlin came out on Friday against releasing phone transcripts, and Trump has generally concealed details of his conversations with Putin — even taking away notes from an interpreter after one meeting.

Was there a substantial cover-up? The whistle-blower alleges a cover-up, in a complaint that the administration then tried to cover up. Hmm.

The rough transcript of Trump’s call with Zelensky was placed in an unusually secure system. Why?

Ukraine is a longtime Trump fixation, with the president tweeting as early as July 2017 about “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump campaign.” Rudy Giuliani rode roughshod over policymakers in an attempt to hijack foreign policy formation, and the White House has never convincingly explained its hold on military assistance.

Did administration officials try to hide all of this? Did they impede Congress from providing oversight? Was there a cover-up of not just a call, but of a long-term pattern of abuse?

What were the roles of Vice President Mike Pence, Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo? Pence dropped out of the delegation that attended Zelensky’s inauguration, seemingly as a way to pressure Zelensky to investigate the Bidens. Did Pence agree to this?

As for Barr, why did Trump repeatedly suggest him as a contact for Zelensky? And why did the Justice Department try to quash the whistle-blower complaint? Why does Barr regularly act as Trump’s cleanup man rather than as the nation’s lawyer?

Was Pompeo complicit in Trump’s efforts to shunt aside the State Department so that Giuliani could oversee relations with Ukraine? What role did Pompeo play in the recall of Ambassador Yovanovitch?

There’s much debate about whether Trump should or shouldn’t be impeached, but for now that seems to me to be premature. Before any impeachment vote, we need a substantial inquiry to determine facts.

Cass Sunstein, a Harvard Law School professor, has a smart book, “Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide,” in which he advises people to think about whether they would favor or oppose impeachment if they felt the opposite about this president. In that spirit, I approach it this way: How would I feel about impeachment if these Ukraine revelations were about Barack Obama?

There’s a danger that Democrats rush this process in ways that antagonize swing voters, particularly when polls show that a majority of the public both disapproves of Trump’s conduct and does not favor impeachment.

In the end, Mitch McConnell may not even permit a Senate trial after an impeachment. Or if McConnell convenes a trial, he could immediately have the Republican majority vote to dismiss the case.

That makes it all the more important that the House impeachment inquiry meticulously gather information by a process that — to the extent possible in our polarized age — is perceived by the public as fair, deliberate and legitimate. The backdrop must be the question that George Mason properly posed more than two centuries ago: “Shall any man be above justice?”

Impeachment vs 2020 Election

There are so many different thoughts and opinions on the current impeachment process taking place in the House that it’s hard to keep up with them all. The only given is that it is going to be a roller coaster ride, and nobody is sure whether we will fall off or land safely at the bottom. Our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters has some thoughts about the whole thing that are worth pondering, so today I share with you his excellent post. Thank you, Jeff, for this post and your permission to re-blog.

On The Fence Voters

But first, a mea culpa

One of the virtues of being a good citizen is admitting when you’re wrong. So, after a couple of days of continuing breaking news, it appears that my article from Monday, Impeachment Cynicism, was slightly off the mark. In the piece, I lamented the fact that the Democrats were hapless and feckless in their initial oversight of Trump corruption. I did not feel that anything resembling an actual impeachment inquiry would happen. Well, that all changed yesterday.

Finally, Nancy Pelosi lowered the hammer and declared that an official impeachment inquiry was underway. With the newest allegations of the president abusing his office to go after a potential political rival, Pelosi couldn’t stand by any longer.

While she was late to the table, so be it. As the news continues to break, as of this writing, the Trump administration released a ‘memo’ of the conversation…

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Seeing Is NOT Believing …

The Associated Press (AP) has begun a weekly feature titled Not Real News: A look at what didn’t happen this week.  The purpose is to cull the fake news that has become widespread in this day of political corruption, video-doctoring, misinformation and more.  I find it a sad, frustrating statement of today’s world that we need such a column, but am glad that someone is stepping up to the plate to try to call out the liars and cheats.

The first story in this week’s roundup is about a doctored video with the intent of discrediting 2020 presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden.  From the AP piece …

CLAIM: Video shows Joe Biden making a “shocking admission.” Biden’s speech also appears to be impaired in the video.

THE FACTS: Democratic presidential candidate Biden did not make any sort of admission. Rather, in the video, he was referencing comments made about him by President Donald Trump. The source footage was slowed down and two clips from it were cut and spliced together to produce this altered video. A social media user who uses the handle @CarpeDonktum posted the altered video to Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Reddit on Wednesday and Thursday, calling it a “shocking admission” and saying it forced him to question Biden’s mental health. @CarpeDonktum, whose Twitter bio says he creates “doctored” videos in support of Trump, told The Associated Press that he had slowed down the video and cut the two clips together. On Reddit, he labeled the video as “doctored” because he said users on Reddit may not be familiar with his parody style videos. “All I do is make parody and funny videos,” he said. “No ill intent behind it.” The manipulated footage taken from ABC News video of Biden at Iowa Wesleyan University was uploaded following President Donald Trump’s remarks this week that Biden was getting slow and referring to him as “Sleepy Joe.” @CarpeDonktum inserted a person walking in front of the camera to hide a cut he made in the video, where he removed part of it and spliced the remaining footage together, so Biden appears to say, “Joe Biden shouldn’t be president. I think I’m either low IQ or slow or I don’t know what I am. Slow Joe Biden.” The editing of the video makes it appear to depict an uninterrupted quote. The deletion of that middle section and the omission of other, earlier parts of the original ABC footage removed context that’s critical to understanding what’s being seen — namely, that Biden was describing what Trump, as well as North Korea’s official news agency, have said about him. The Associated Press reported in May that North Korea’s official news agency had called Biden a “fool of low IQ.” ″He embraces dictators like Kim Jong Un who is a damn murderer and a thug,” Biden says in the original ABC News clip. “The one thing they agree on, Joe Biden shouldn’t be president.” He goes on to reference some of Trump and Kim’s characterization of him as “slow” or having a “low IQ.”

Carpe Donktum’s claim that there was “No ill intent …” is wrong.  Of course there was ‘ill intent’, and even though the discerning viewer, upon seeing this would at the very least question its authenticity, there are many out there who would accept it at face value.  How many people voted for Donald Trump for the sole reason that they didn’t like Hillary Clinton?  A good percentage, based on what I’ve heard and read.  Why didn’t they like Hillary Clinton, who was well-qualified and had an excellent platform?  Because they saw her as unbending, as cold.  Because they were told, falsely, that she was responsible for the loss of life in Benghazi.  Because they believed Trump and the false news who said she had secret emails that had shared information with foreign powers that breached our national security.  Because James Comey said the FBI was considering re-opening an old investigation.  Because … because … because of what they had seen or heard about her, not from her, but about her, most of which was manufactured by the GOP and the Trump campaign with the assistance of Russian trolls.

Most everyone reading this post is smart enough, savvy enough to check sources, double check the veracity of what they see and hear, especially on social media such as Twitter and Facebook, both of whom allowed Russian trolls to disseminate false information on their sites in both 2016 and 2018.  The illicit dirty pool has already begun for next year’s elections, though they are still 17 months away.  And a large number of people are ignorant enough, or lazy enough to believe everything they see and hear on these platforms.

The upcoming election is in grave danger of being the most unfair, dishonest election in the history of this nation, thanks to a corrupt GOP, a corrupt president, and technology that enables such things as doctored video.  Add to that, the largely republican gerrymandered district maps that dilute the votes of the poor and minorities, states that are trying to pass laws making it harder for young and old people to vote, and it is a recipe for disaster.

What can we do about it?  I wish I had an answer for that question.  Personally, I think that Carpe Donktum’s identity should be discovered and he or she should be tried in a court of law for attempting to rig an election, but I’m sure that’s not going to happen.  We must start holding social media sites accountable for ensuring their integrity by rooting out the faux news and blocking them.  If that’s an assault on free speech, then so be it.  I want an honest election … I want everyone to know the truth, not what the GOP and Donald Trump would like them to believe.

A Little Dose of Snarky Snippets …

The big news of the day, of course, is that Robert Mueller let Attorney General Barr know more than a month ago that he was displeased with Barr’s 4-page summary of Mueller’s report, when Mueller had provided summaries for Barr to use.  And today, as I write, AG Barr is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and methinks he has much to answer for.  I peeked in on the hearing and saw Barr chewing his lower lip and looking downright unhappy.  Serves him right … his lies are catching up with him.  Anyway, since I’m not prepared to write about that whole situation today, but as it has left me in a state of some angst, I am bursting forth with more snarky snippets!Barr-toon.jpg


Trouble brews over at Fox …

Just as Hermie, in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer did not want to make toys, apparently some of the talking heads over at Fox ‘News’ don’t want to tell lies!  It is reported that Fox’s Corporate CEO Lachlan Murdoch has quite the task on his hands to keep Donald Trump and the White House satisfied with regards to loyalty and coverage. They also have to keep advertisers happy. Lachlan also has to deal with the internal conflicts between Fox’s rank and file journalists and the prime time hosts who are the faces of the network.

According to one source …

“Reporters are telling management that we’re being defined by the worst people on our air.”

Ya think?  Golly gee.  You lie down with the dogs, don’t be surprised to get up with a bad case of fleas!

CEO Lachlan Murdoch is in a bit of a tough spot here, for the people who see themselves as journalists, such as Chris Wallace and Shepard Smith don’t appreciate the image the network has taken on, that of being more of an entertainment venue rather than a news station.  And, to further complicate Murdoch’s life, advertisers have begun boycotting some of the more offensive Fox personalities such as Tucker Carlson, Jeannine Pirro, and Laura Ingraham, costing the network money.

Perhaps, however, Murdoch’s biggest worry is that Sean Hannity is said to be leaving when his contract expires in 2021 (Oh yes, please, GO!).  According to one of Hannity’s staffers …

“Sean doesn’t feel supported,. He has no relationship with Lachlan. Sean thinks, Wait a second, I was hired to get ratings and I get ratings, but now people are embarrassed about me? He feels Fox spends a lot of time supporting Shepard Smith but his show makes no money. That’s annoying to him.”

Awwww … poor li’l fella …


Donnie’s mad at the firefighters …

The national firefighter’s union, International Association of Fire Fighters, has given their endorsement for the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden, and little Donnie is none too happy.  To let the world know just how unhappy he is, he tweeted no less than 60 times about it this morning.

“I’ve done more for Firefighters than this dues sucking union will ever do, and I get paid ZERO!”

“The Dues Sucking firefighters leadership will always support Democrats, even though the membership wants me. Some things never change!”

Trump mafiosoIn addition to his own juvenile tweets, he re-tweeted some 53 tweets by others who claimed to be firefighters in support of Trump.  All this in a 30-minute span … wait, is this what we are paying him to do???

He also said that Biden is “not the brightest lightbulb”.  Ahem … do I even need to point out the irony here?

There is a bright side, however, and that is that within a short time after his ‘tweet storm’, people began ‘unfollowing’ him and within an hour and a half,  he had lost 1,150 Twitter followers!  Is it just possible that people are finally getting sick and tired of his crude language, his lies, and his promotion of hate?  We can only hope.


Nitpicking words

After the Easter Sunday bombing attacks on hotels and churches in Sri Lanka that killed hundreds, public figures expressed condolences.  Three such people were former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former HUD Secretary Julián Castro.

  • The attacks on tourists and Easter worshippers in Sri Lanka are an attack on humanity. On a day devoted to love, redemption, and renewal, we pray for the victims and stand with the people of Sri Lanka. – Barack Obama
  • On this holy weekend for many faiths, we must stand united against hatred and violence. I’m praying for everyone affected by today’s horrific attacks on Easter worshippers and travelers in Sri Lanka. – Hillary Clinton
  • On a day of redemption and hope, the evil of these attacks on Easter worshippers and tourists in Sri Lanka is deeply saddening. My prayers today are with the dead and injured, and their families. May we find grace. – Julián Castro

Note the common denominator is that they referred to the victims as “tourists and Easter worshippers”.  Not a problem, right?  It was Easter and they were in church, presumably ‘worshipping’.  Unless, of course, you are a right-wing evangelical, and then it becomes a problem, apparently.

Fox ‘News’ hosts and other conservatives took this opportunity to rant that it was an attempt to avoid using the word “Christian”.

“How do President Obama and Secretary Clinton both come up with Easter worshippers in their tweets about the murders in Sri Lanka? To have both of them use the same term the same day is strange. Is Easter Worshipper the left’s new way to avoid the word Christian? Pathetic.” – Newt Gingrich

Seriously, Newtie?  Have you nothing better to do than nitpick the verbiage of a condolence message?  Even Kellyanne Conway jumped on this bandwagon …

“I think there’s anti-Christianity. That’s why the Sri Lankans were gunned down. They’re not Easter worshippers, Obama and Hillary Clinton. They are Christians.”

Nearly 300 people were killed, and all these fools can do is nitpick the words from well-intentioned people who happen to be democrats.   I think this speaks for itself.


Well, that’s all I’ve got time for today folks.  Have a happy evening!

Darkness

Well, folks, it is finally here, the day we had all hoped would give us our lives back, Wednesday, 20 January 2021.  Inauguration Day.  Or what would have been inauguration day.  Instead, it’s just another day of life in a nearly four million square mile prison.

Remember how excited we were a year ago?  Or even a few short months ago?  It was an election year, Trump’s base had dwindled to a scant 30% or so, and all the polls were predicting a huge win for the democratic team of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.  For the first time since Barack Obama left office the majority of us were once again hopeful.  Hopeful that the United States would re-join the Paris Climate Agreement, would re-implement regulations on the coal, oil, gas, auto and other industries to cut way back on carbon emissions.  We would Tear Down That Wall that was built without our consent or advice last year.  We had hope that our voices would once again be heard and count for something.

Then came that fateful Friday, November 1st 2020 … just four short days before the election.  I remember waking to see the blue light flashing on my phone, reaching for glasses and phone, nearly knocking the lamp off the night table in the process.  I immediately knew something terrible had happened, for there were “Breaking News!” updates … no less than five of them … from WaPo, NYT, Reuters, The Guardian, and my local news station.

“Breaking News!  Donald Trump has declared a State of National Emergency, claiming that North Korea is planning to launch nuclear missiles aimed at the United States.” 

My heart stopped, but not because I was afraid of North Korea lobbing nukes at us.  Heck, they couldn’t hit their target if they tried, and although tensions had been on the rise between our two countries, there had been nothing to indicate this level of conflict. In fact, my best guess is that the tensions were manufactured by Trump and Kim Jong-un. No, I was afraid for another reason.  I knew.  I just knew that the next move, or the one after that, would be to ‘postpone’ or cancel next week’s elections.  Trump, after all, studied under the best … Putin and Erdoğan.

And then, sure enough, like clockwork on Monday morning, the day before what would have been election day, more breaking news …

“Breaking News!  Donald Trump has announced that tomorrow’s elections will be postponed indefinitely due to the ongoing threat of war by North Korea.  Stay tuned …”

And a few hours later, this …

“Breaking News!  There has been an unsubsta …

Then nothing.  I well remember trying to log onto The Washington Post … nothing but a little circle twirling round and round, and finally … “This site cannot be reached at this time – please try again later.”  The New York Times … same thing.  I tried BBC, Reuters and about ten other news sites … nothing. I stepped outside … the world looked normal … no tanks in the street, no sound of military jets overhead, no big mushroom clouds on the horizon.  But the world was not normal and never would be again.Democracy dies in darknessI paced.  I texted my daughter … no reply.  I tried to call her … no answer.  I simply had to know what was happening!  I tried Facebook … I was able to log on, and everything appeared normal, but there were no recent posts by any of my friends, and when I tried to use Messenger to get a message to one of my friends in the UK, a message popped up saying “This service is temporarily unavailable.”

In the two-and-a-half months since that fateful day, we have been largely isolated from any credible news.  I am occasionally able to receive worried emails from friends in the UK, Australia and Canada telling me what little they know, but those messages are few and far between, and they bring no hope – only more despair.  Life goes on.  I clean house, cook, and most of all I’ve kept writing.  The grocery stores and shopping malls are still open, and one could almost believe that this is all a figment of my imagination.  People seem to go on about their daily business without even noticing.  Perhaps I appear that way too.

I have written every day, although WordPress was shut down in early November, so my words are silent cries.  Today would have seen the inauguration of President Joe Biden had our republic been allowed to survive the reign of Donald Trump.  I can no longer live in this nation, a nation where we are no longer free people.  I am leaving my writings from the past months in the hands of my daughter, in hopes that someday she can find a way to send them to a friend across the pond who will know what to do with them.  Rest in Peace, United States of America.

United States of America, July 4, 1776 – November 5, 2020liberty cries


Note to readers:  The above is, I hope, a work of fiction, a figment of my over-active mind.  Let’s all do whatever we can to keep it a work of fiction and never let this become our reality.

A Tale Of Two Mikes — Part II

World leaders, ministers, diplomats, military officers and policy experts gathered over the weekend for the annual Munich Security Conference, the premier global forum on foreign, defense and security policy.  Luckily, Donald Trump did not attend the conference … he was too busy at home playing golf, criticizing Saturday Night Live, and defending his indefensible declaration of emergency from the week before.  Also unfortunately, Mike Pence did attend, and therein lay the problem.Merkel-MunichAngela Merkel spoke before Pence, and resisted Pence’s earlier calls in Poland for the EU to abandon the Iran nuclear deal, which according to experts and analysts, is achieving its goals.  She also criticized the U.S. decision to withdraw its troops from Syria. “Is it a good thing to immediately remove American troops from Syria, or will it not strengthen Russia and Iran’s hand?”  At the end of her speech, she received a standing ovation.  Ivanka Trump, who was in the audience for some reason that is beyond my comprehension, refused to stand or even applaud.  The grade-school mentality must run in the family.Pence-MunichAnd then, Mike Pence began his speech by saying …

“I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.”

And he waited for the applause.  But the room remained silent.  Dead silent.  He waited.  Nobody clapped, apparently not even Ivanka.  See for yourself …

But Sarah Huckabee Sanders later found a way to put a spin on the humiliating moment:

“It was out of respect for our President that world leaders observed a moment of silence during Vice President Pence’s speech in Munich.”

I think not, Sarah, but nice try.  Now go rinse your mouth to get that nasty taste of the lie out of it.

But back to Pence’s speech.

“We came here to reaffirm our commitment that ‘America First’ does not mean America alone and tell leaders, allies and countries around the world that America is stronger than ever before and America’s leading on the world stage once again.”

The reality is that we ceded our leadership role early in Trump’s tenure.  We are not even good allies, let alone a good leader.  You cannot be isolationist and also a global leader, for to be all about “America First” means to put the rest of the globe somewhere below your own interests, and that is not how alliances and friendships work.

Pence credited Trump with spurring NATO allies to spend more on defense but insisted that they are still not spending enough. He also reiterated the ‘demand’ he made on Thursday in Poland regarding the Iran nuclear deal.

“The time has come for our European partners to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.”

Silence.

As a long-time student of international relations, I cannot think of another time in the history of the United States that we have ‘demanded’ our allies act in accordance with our wishes.  This is being a bully, not an ally and certainly not a friend.

Pence ended his speech with a most inappropriate …

“God Bless the United States of America.”

As Amanda Sloat, a senior fellow at Brookings Institute said …

“It sounded more like he was speaking to a Trump rally than to transatlanticists in Europe.”

Pence’s speech was met with disdain by European officials who say they have no intention of abandoning the Iran nuclear deal and felt his aggressive tone would only stir up more opposition.  For the record, Pence’s speech ended with a smattering of light applause, but no standing ovation, other than Jared and Ivanka.  I ask again, why were they even there?

The Munich Security Conference report said the Trump administration displays an “irritating enthusiasm for strongmen across the globe” and “disdain for international institutions and agreements.”

Several hours after Merkel’s and Pence’s speeches, former Vice President Joe Biden was at the podium, and his message was a ray of light after that of Pence.

“The America I see does not wish to turn our back on the world or our closest allies. The America I see cherishes a free press, democracy, the rule of law. It stands up to the aggression of dictators and against strongmen.”

And Biden ended with …

“As my mother would say: This too shall pass. We will be back. We will be back. Don’t have any doubt about that.”

The applause for Biden was significantly more enthusiastic than for Pence.

The Munich Security Report, which is downloadable in .pdf format,  is titled, The Great Puzzle:  Who Will Pick Up The Pieces?  That says it all, doesn’t it?  One of the key points in the report is about a previously unpublished opinion poll by the Pew Research Center showing that traditional allies of the United States perceive America’s power and influence as a major threat to their country, even when compared to China and Russia.

I may write more about the Munich Security Conference and the affiliated report once I finish reading the report, but for now, suffice it to say that the United States is not stepping up to the plate to work with our allies, but rather is becoming more isolationist, more self-serving, and there will be a price to pay for that.  Globalization is the reality, and no country can stand on its own without allies, without friends.  But in order to have a friend in times of trouble, one must first be a friend, and we are not.  As Joe Biden said, “This too shall pass” … but will it pass before the U.S. becomes a true pariah?

The New Normal …

We are all aware that class is not Donald Trump’s strong suit.  In fact, I think it’s a fair statement to say that the man has none at all.  But in today’s administration, there appear to be many more who have no class, no dignity, no sense of propriety.  Perhaps the ‘man’ at the top has set the tone for all, or perhaps it is simply that he has surrounded himself with people just like himself – crass and vulgar.McCain Holds Townhall Meeting In York, PennsylvaniaSenator John McCain is dying of a particularly aggressive form of brain cancer.  For his entire life, he has served his country well.  McCain is a genuine American hero – one who fought and suffered for his country in the theater of war and has dedicated the better part of the last four decades of his life to public service as a House member, a senator and a two-time presidential candidate.  He is not a man who deserves to be derided, and this certainly is not the time for derision.

McCain has not been able to return to Washington for several months, but nonetheless on Wednesday, he felt compelled to issue a statement calling on his fellow-senators to reject Trump’s nominee for Director of the CIA, Gina Haspel.  Haspel, as an undercover operative, was directly responsible for much of the torture that took place in the years following 9/11, and during her confirmation hearings, she refused to admit that such torture methods are inhumane and morally wrong.   McCain was captured, held and tortured for years (1967-1973) during the Vietnam War.mccain-pow

“However, Ms. Haspel’s role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing. Her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying. I believe the Senate should exercise its duty of advice and consent and reject this nomination.”

The next day, special assistant Kelly Sadler made the derisive comments during a closed-door White House meeting of about two-dozen communications staffers.

“It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway.”

Ms. Sadler wasn’t the only one who had something snide and rude to say.  Retired Air Force Lieutenant General Thomas McInerney, appearing on a Fox Business program, said …

“Well she can’t use it anymore because we have determined in Congress that it’s not legal. The fact is, is John McCain — it worked on John. That’s why they call him ‘Songbird John,’”

McInerney’s comment is false.

McCain has already begun planning his funeral and has requested both Presidents Obama and George W. Bush to give eulogies, but has indicated that he does not wish Donald Trump to be at his funeral.  This is understandable in light of an ongoing contentious relationship between the two, starting in 2016 during the presidential campaign when Trump claimed that in his book, McCain was not a hero because he was captured.  I would not, under any circumstances, want Trump within 5,000 miles of my funeral!  But Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah had to say …

“I think that’s ridiculous. He’s the President of the United States. He’s a very good man. But it’s up to John. I think John should have his wishes fulfilled with regard to who attends his funeral.”

A ‘good man’?  Seriously???  I think not.

I concur fully with former Vice President Joe Biden, who said …

“People have wondered when decency would hit rock bottom with this administration. It happened yesterday. Given this White House’s trail of disrespect toward John and others, this staffer is not the exception to the rule; she is the epitome of it.”

And there were others who shared his outrage:

“Our nation should be grateful for the exemplary service and sacrifice of [McCain], and treat this war hero and his family with the civility and respect they deserve.” – Senator Joni Ernst, Iowa

“It’s a sad day in this country when White House officials are mocking a man who was tortured as a prisoner of war. He’s more than earned the right to speak out on these matters. A public apology should be issued immediately.” – Representative Walter Jones, North Carolina

“Whatever one’s differences with John, he’s a patriot who has served our nation selflessly and honorably and deserves our respect.” – Senator Jerry Moran, Kansas

“Look, John McCain is a hero. No two ways about it. John McCain, I mean he gave his entire adult life for this country. John McCain fought for us in Vietnam, was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, came home and dedicated his life to public service. His vocation in life was making life better for people and better for the country. There are so many accolades I could heap on a John McCain.” – Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan

“I spend a lot of time trashing politicians. This [John McCain]  is about the one I’ve admired above all others over the last quarter century.” – Dana Milbank, OpEd columnist, The Washington Post

mccain-2There have been many times that I disagreed with John McCain’s position on certain issues, but he has, I have always believed, had the best interest of the nation and the people in mind.  I have never heard him speak disrespectfully to anyone.  I have the utmost respect for this man.  Perhaps he is among the last of a dying breed, people who believe in dignity, in civil discourse, and in respect for others.  I’m sorry to say that those things have gone by the wayside in our government since January 20, 2017.

A Most Deserving Recipient — Senator John McCain

On Monday night, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Senator John McCain received the Liberty Medal, and I cannot think of a more deserving person for this honour.  The Liberty Medal is awarded annually by the National Constitution Center to men and women of courage and conviction who have strived to secure the blessings of liberty to people the world over. The Medal’s roster of recipients includes many of the men, women, and organizations that have shaped and guided the world through the past two decades, including Nelson Mandela, Sandra Day O’Connor, Kofi Annan, Shimon Peres, and Colin Powell. Last year’s medal was awarded, appropriately, to U.S. Representative John Lewis for his “courageous dedication to civil rights”.

Former Vice-President Joe Biden, Chairman of the National Constitution Center’s Board of Trustees, awarded the medal.  McCain and Biden go back a few decades or more, and the banter between the two was easy …

McCain: Thank you, Joe, my old, dear friend, for those mostly undeserved kind words. Vice President Biden and I have known each other for a lot of years now, more than forty, if you’re counting. We knew each other back when we were young and handsome and smarter than everyone else but were too modest to say so. Joe was already a senator, and I was the Navy’s liaison to the Senate. My duties included escorting senate delegations on overseas trips, and in that capacity, I supervised the disposition of the delegation’s luggage, which could require – now and again – when no one of lower rank was available for the job – that I carry someone worthy’s bag. Once or twice that worthy turned out to be the young senator from Delaware.  I’ve resented it ever since.

Biden: The son of a gun never carried my bags. He was supposed to carry my bags; he never carried my bags.

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And then came McCain’s acceptance speech. I initially planned to provide only some excerpts, but as I read and re-read the speech, I found I could not choose, for the speech is exceptional … humble, meaningful, and important in its entirety. And so, my apologies for the length, but I think is well worth reading and pondering:

“Joe has heard me joke about that before. I hope he has heard, too, my profession of gratitude for his friendship these many years. It has meant a lot to me. We served in the Senate together for over twenty years, during some eventful times, as we passed from young men to the fossils who appear before you this evening.

We didn’t always agree on the issues. We often argued – sometimes passionately. But we believed in each other’s patriotism and the sincerity of each other’s convictions. We believed in the institution we were privileged to serve in. We believed in our mutual responsibility to help make the place work and to cooperate in finding solutions to our country’s problems. We believed in our country and in our country’s indispensability to international peace and stability and to the progress of humanity. And through it all, whether we argued or agreed, Joe was good company. Thank you, old friend, for your company and your service to America.

Thank you, too, to the National Constitution Center, and everyone associated with it for this award. Thank you for that video, and for the all too generous compliments paid to me this evening. I’m aware of the prestigious company the Liberty Medal places me in. I’m humbled by it, and I’ll try my best not to prove too unworthy of it.

Some years ago, I was present at an event where an earlier Liberty Medal recipient spoke about America’s values and the sacrifices made for them. It was 1991, and I was attending the ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The World War II veteran, estimable patriot and good man, President George H.W. Bush, gave a moving speech at the USS Arizona memorial. I remember it very well. His voice was thick with emotion as he neared the end of his address. I imagine he was thinking not only of the brave Americans who lost their lives on December 7, 1941, but of the friends he had served with and lost in the Pacific where he had been the Navy’s youngest aviator.

‘Look at the water here, clear and quiet …’ he directed, ‘One day, in what now seems another lifetime, it wrapped its arms around the finest sons any nation could ever have, and it carried them to a better world.’

He could barely get out the last line, ‘May God bless them, and may God bless America, the most wondrous land on earth.’

The most wondrous land on earth, indeed. I’ve had the good fortune to spend sixty years in service to this wondrous land. It has not been perfect service, to be sure, and there were probably times when the country might have benefited from a little less of my help. But I’ve tried to deserve the privilege as best I can, and I’ve been repaid a thousand times over with adventures, with good company, and with the satisfaction of serving something more important than myself, of being a bit player in the extraordinary story of America. And I am so very grateful.

What a privilege it is to serve this big, boisterous, brawling, intemperate, striving, daring, beautiful, bountiful, brave, magnificent country. With all our flaws, all our mistakes, with all the frailties of human nature as much on display as our virtues, with all the rancor and anger of our politics, we are blessed.

We are living in the land of the free, the land where anything is possible, the land of the immigrant’s dream, the land with the storied past forgotten in the rush to the imagined future, the land that repairs and reinvents itself, the land where a person can escape the consequences of a self-centered youth and know the satisfaction of sacrificing for an ideal, the land where you can go from aimless rebellion to a noble cause, and from the bottom of your class to your party’s nomination for president.

We are blessed, and we have been a blessing to humanity in turn. The international order we helped build from the ashes of world war, and that we defend to this day, has liberated more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. This wondrous land has shared its treasures and ideals and shed the blood of its finest patriots to help make another, better world. And as we did so, we made our own civilization more just, freer, more accomplished and prosperous than the America that existed when I watched my father go off to war on December 7, 1941.

To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.

We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil. We are the custodians of those ideals at home, and their champion abroad. We have done great good in the world. That leadership has had its costs, but we have become incomparably powerful and wealthy as we did. We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don’t. We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn’t deserve to.

I am the luckiest guy on earth. I have served America’s cause – the cause of our security and the security of our friends, the cause of freedom and equal justice – all my adult life. I haven’t always served it well. I haven’t even always appreciated what I was serving. But among the few compensations of old age is the acuity of hindsight. I see now that I was part of something important that drew me along in its wake even when I was diverted by other interests. I was, knowingly or not, along for the ride as America made the future better than the past.

And I have enjoyed it, every single day of it, the good ones and the not so good ones. I’ve been inspired by the service of better patriots than me. I’ve seen Americans make sacrifices for our country and her causes and for people who were strangers to them but for our common humanity, sacrifices that were much harder than the service asked of me. And I’ve seen the good they have done, the lives they freed from tyranny and injustice, the hope they encouraged, the dreams they made achievable.

May God bless them. May God bless America, and give us the strength and wisdom, the generosity and compassion, to do our duty for this wondrous land, and for the world that counts on us. With all its suffering and dangers, the world still looks to the example and leadership of America to become, another, better place. What greater cause could anyone ever serve.

Thank you again for this honor. I’ll treasure it.”

One does not have to always agree with Senator McCain’s ideas to respect him as a patriot, a member of Congress, and most importantly, a human being.  I say a big “Thank You” to Senator John McCain.

*Donald Trump threatened to “fight back” against McCain for this speech.  I will have more on that later today.

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