Sigh … More Snarky Snippets …

Some nights the mind bounce simply does not allow me to focus on my more in-depth projects … I have three of them in-process at the moment … and so nothing will do but a few snarky snippets.  Sorry, folks … I simply cannot help myself.  Sigh.


Underpaid???

I want you to get out your box of tissues and don your sympathy hats, for this one’s a real tear-jerker.  Members of Congress have not had a pay raise … not even so much as a cost-of-living increase … since 2009 – ten years!!!  The horror!  I mean, the majority of them only earn a paltry $174,000 per year!  How on earth are they managing?  So, two republican representatives, Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise, have quietly proposed a pay increase … just about a 2.5% increase … ballpark $3 million per year in total … nothing to break the bank.

But wait!  The minimum wage rate of $7.25 also has not been raised since 2009.  The full-time minimum wage worker earns $15,080 per year.  Um … that is a mere 8.67% of what those members of Congress are earning.  All of which might not cause a raised eyebrow except … back in March there was a bill in Congress to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour in increments by 2024.  Guess what?  The bill ran into a bit of a snag, with every single republican, including Representatives Scalise and McCarthy, committed to voting against it, and even some democrats refusing to support it, saying it would place an “unfair burden” on small businesses.  Unfair burden?  Unfair burden???  What about the burden of all those people working second jobs just to survive???

The very people who are poised to grant themselves a $4,500 per annum pay increase, would deny the minimum wage worker an increase. The bill hasn’t garnered the 218 votes needed to pass the House, and even if it passes the House, Mitch McConnell has indicated that he will not bring the bill to a vote in the Senate.  And even if it passed both the House and the Senate, in all likelihood Trump would veto it.

Think about that one … the people who are making 11.5 times as much as minimum wage earners, most of whom are already millionaires, want a raise for themselves, but none for the man or woman who is struggling every day to feed their children, pay the rent, pay the doctor’s bills, and keep the electricity from being shut off.  My answer to the members of the U.S. Congress is do what the minimum wage earners are having to do … take a second or even third job!!!


Ignorance

In year’s past, a president might be applauded for a brilliant speech, or criticized for one that wasn’t so good, but it tells you all you need to know about Don Trump when he is praised for not veering off-script.  The speech he gave at the ceremony for the 75th anniversary of D-Day was praised by two of Trump’s media antagonists, Jim Acosta and Joe Scarborough, not for it’s content (Trump didn’t write it) or sincerity (there was none), but because he stayed on script and didn’t go off on a tangent as he is prone to do.

“This is perhaps the most on-message moment of Donald Trump’s presidency today. We were all wondering if he would veer from his remarks, go off of his script but he stayed on script, stayed on message …” – Jim Acosta, CNN

“I’m also glad the president chose to have the discipline to stick to script …” – Joe Scarborough, MSNBC

Sorry, guys, but given that he spent three full days making an ass of himself and of this nation while visiting our allies, he gets no kudos from me for managing a few minutes reading from a paper without veering off course.  Two and a half years in office, and this is his crowning achievement – being able to read a speech that somebody else wrote???  That’s sad.  That’s really, really sad.


Truer words have never been spoken than these by President Dwight David EisenhowerD-Day


Th-th-that’s all f-f-folks

bugs bunny

Timely Advice From Morning Joe

Yesterday, I found myself completely overwhelmed by the amount of news … tariffs, Trump’s trip to the UK, anti-trust investigations, impeachment, gun control, anti-abortion laws, etc., etc., etc.  Where to start?  My mind spun, then bounced as I read article after article, most somehow involving Donald Trump.  I think we are all beginning to feel as if we are on a carousel that is spinning faster and faster while we try to hold on for dear life.

This morning I happened upon an OpEd by former member of Congress, now host of Morning Joe on MSNBC with Mika Brzezinski, Joe Scarborough that I think makes a lot of sense.  Mr. Scarborough offers us some timely advice about keeping our eye on the ball, so I decided to share it with you.

Disregard Trump’s ground noise. Focus on the signal.

By Joe Scarborough, June 3 at 4:08 PM

Joe-ScarboroughMy first year in Congress was spent absorbing attacks from a local newspaper unimpressed by the fact I was the first Republican elected in my area of Florida since Reconstruction. They appreciated my lectures on small government conservatism no more than does the current collection of Big Government Republicans in Washington.

During my freshman year on the Hill, I tried to respond to every charge from every article, political cartoon or editorial page. After one particularly stem-winding speech that I delivered at the downtown Rotary Club in Pensacola, Fla., three-star admiral Jack Fetterman took me aside and gently offered advice that I carry with me a quarter-century later. He put his arm around me and said, “Joe, you have to learn to separate the ground noise from the signal. And here’s the secret, son: It’s almost always ground noise.”

I thought of the admiral’s words this weekend as I glanced at the news feed coming in over my phone.

Video from the Sun, a British tabloid, showed that President Trump called a princess “nasty”; then he denied calling her that; then Trump had his team release a tape that showed he called her that; then Fox News hosts attacked those quoting the Trump manuscript that showed he called her “nasty.”

Trump then dismissed reports of him calling her “nasty,” waving off the Sun’s transcripts as “fake news.”

I also learned from my news feed that Trump staffers told the Navy to keep the USS John S. McCain out of Trump’s line of sight; Trump then denied that request was ever made; Reporters proved that request was, in fact, made. Trump staffers admitted to the request.

Trump then dismissed the reports as “fake news.”

It is easy to be blinkered by the ground noise generated by from the president’s Twitter feed, or from his ministers of propaganda, or from his quivering quislings on Capitol Hill. It is difficult to brush aside the steady stream of lies and half-truths that insult our intelligence. But the good admiral would tell you that you have no other choice unless you want to fly your fighter jet straight into the side of a mountain.

Ignore the ground noise and search for the signal, instead. That may seem difficult but, after three years of Trumpian madness, it is imperative.

The signal is the Mueller report. Read it. The evidence inside is both impeachable and indictable. It also documents that the Russians tried to undermine U.S. democracy and that the president and his team, rather than reporting the interference, welcomed our enemy’s help.

William P. Barr is ground noise. The attorney general has been caught lying to the American people with his letter, lying to Congress with his testimony and lying to the media in his interviews. Maureen Dowd of the New York Times accurately labeled Barr as Trump’s minister of disinformation. She is right. His words are now as meaningless as Kellyanne Conway’s or Roger Stone’s.

The signal is the United States’ $22 trillion debt; record deficits; a fading bond market; trade wars with Mexico and China; a $16 billion welfare scheme for farmers; tariff taxes; a bloated defense budget that funds military-industrial complex programs that the Pentagon does not even want; a Middle Eastern war taxpayers are underwriting for the benefit of a bloodthirsty Saudi prince; and rising tensions in the Persian Gulf also aimed at mollifying that same leader, who had a Post contributing columnist tortured and killed.

Focus also on the pattern of behavior. After the economic crisis, Donald Trump endorsed the Wall Street bailout and praised the feds for giving billions of dollars to bankers whose greed had crushed middle-class workers. A decade later, the populist plutocrat championed tax cuts for multinational corporations and millionaire members inside his clubs. As Trump told a group of wealthy Mar-a-Lago Club members the day he signed the tax bill into law, “You all just got a lot richer.” In this one respect, Trump was right. His Palm Beach buddies did make millions from “tax reform,” but as with the tariffs he keeps touting, it is working-class Americans who will ultimately pay the tab.

Ignore the noise and focus on the signal coming from North Korea, where the building of a nuclear program continues unimpeded. The president’s bewildering response to this growing threat has been to adopt the party line of North Korea’s Communist Party and profess his love for the dictator who tortured and caused the death of a U.S. college student for trying to bring a poster home. A strong warning signal also gets sent every time Trump chooses to accept the word of a former KGB agent over the professional conclusions of the FBI, CIA, the director of national intelligence and Homeland Security leaders that the president, himself, appointed.

That signal may lead us back to the Mueller report as well as Trump’s personal pursuit of riches. And focusing on that signal may lead us to better understanding why the president has been so willing to sell out American democracy to Russian dictators and Saudi Arabian sheikhs.

Text dividers

A Terrorist By Any Other Name …

On February 15th, just over two months ago, Christopher Paul Hasson, a U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant and white supremacist was arrested after federal investigators uncovered a cache of weapons and ammunition in his Maryland home.  His plan was, in his words …

“I am dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth.”

Christopher-Hasson

Christopher Hasson

Hasson had a ‘hit list’ that included almost every journalist who has been critical of Donald Trump, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and most of the democratic candidates for president in 2020, among others.  He had been searching the internet for the home addresses of two Supreme Court justices.

Now, if Mr. Hasson had been an immigrant from anywhere in the Middle East, he would have been labeled a terrorist and treated accordingly, right?  But … Hasson is Caucasian, and thus rather than calling a spade a bloody shovel and charging him with domestic terrorism, what did the Department of Justice do?  They charged him with weapons and drugs violations … not plotting to murder, not terrorism, just weapons and drugs.  But wait … now for the really great news …

Judge Charles Day

Judge Charles Day

On Thursday, United States magistrate Judge Charles Bernard Day of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland decided to grant bail to Mr. Hasson and release him from jail pending trial.  If he had been charged with domestic terrorism, as would have been right and proper, he would not be eligible for bail or release, but since he wasn’t, his public defender argues that her client hadn’t made any direct or specific threats to harm anyone. She said prosecutors are seeking to punish Hasson for “private thoughts” that he never shared.

“They have not come forward with evidence that Mr. Hasson is a domestic terrorist because he is not.”

But listen carefully now to a part of her reasoning … she compared Hasson’s racial slurs and targeting of Democrats and the media to similar views that Trump has taken and said his hit list “looks like the sort of list that our commander in chief might have compiled while watching Fox News in the morning.”

Does anybody care to give me that argument again that Donald Trump’s horrendous attacks on those he perceives as his ‘enemies’ are not causing harm?  NEVER in the history of this nation have we had a president who bullied as he does, who referred to our free press as “the enemy of the people”, and who threatened any and all who cross him.  NEVER! 

When Trump was asked his opinion of the Hasson case, he replied that he thought it was ‘sad’.  When asked if he believed some of his harsh language might have played a part in Hasson’s plot, he replied that his “language is very nice”.

Joe Scarborough of Morning Joe is one of the names on the list.  His wife and fellow anchor, Mika Brzezinski, is understandably upset, saying …

“I think Trump’s doing this. How can I not do that math in my mind that the attorney general is making a clear decision here to make sure the lives of people who are being targeted continue to be in danger because they will not put together the pieces of this case? A stockpile of weapons, a list of people that he wants to kill. Are you serious? There’s no way not to let this guy walk? You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Oyer also said Hasson has had a lifelong interest in firearms and likes to hunt and target practice. She said the number of guns he owned isn’t unusual in North Carolina, where he lived for years before moving to Maryland.  Oh for Pete’s sake … give us credit for not being totally stupid, Ms. Oyer!

Hasson-stash

Part of the stash found in Hasson’s home

And thus, because Hasson was not properly charged, he will likely walk out of jail one morning next week, a free man, at least until his trial.

Hasson pleaded not guilty last month to charges of illegal possession of firearm silencers, possession of firearms by a drug addict and unlawful user, and possession of a controlled substance. He faces a maximum of 31 years in prison if convicted of all four counts in his indictment.  Thirty-one years.  And a conviction on all counts seems unlikely at this point, even though the evidence is plentiful.  But think about something else.  Even if Hasson is sentenced the full 31 years … wait for it … Donald Trump could pardon him.

I shall leave you to ponder on that one.

A Rudderless Ship — Part I

For the second time in as many weeks, I am moved to use the writings of Joe Scarborough as the basis for my post.  Since I wrote this morning’s post last night, one thought keeps nagging at me:  we are a rudderless nation.  We have no leadership, which leaves us vulnerable to onslaught both from within and without.  The administration is so focused on the infighting and trying to fend off criticism and controversy that I do not see how anything remotely resembling ‘governance’ can be happening.  I am sure to have more to say on this topic, but this OpEd by Joe Scarborough in The Washington Post yesterday crossed my screen this morning, and I want people to read this and think about it.  Most of us have long since realized that the man sitting in the Oval Office is unqualified for the position to which he was elected, but I think that even we have underestimated the degree to which he is unqualified.  And so, without further ado, I present to you Mr. Joe Scarborough …


Michael Wolff’s tantalizing takedown of President Trump’s White House is so tightly packed with tales of political convulsion and personal betrayal that official Washington will be buzzing off its sugar high for weeks. But after the shock of Wolff’s account of Trump’s willful ignorance and intellectual incoherence fades, Americans will be left with the inescapable conclusion that the president is not capable of fulfilling his duties as commander in chief.

The GOP’s defense of this indefensible president appears even more preposterous following Wolff’s revelation, in his new book, “Fire and Fury,” of former adviser Stephen K. Bannon’s observation that members of Trump’s team, including his son, committed nothing less than treason. (Disclosure: I am thanked in the book’s acknowledgments and make an appearance in a handful of passages.) Republican politicians who have spent the past year eagerly wading through the slimy political backwash churned up by Trumpism will look even more foolish aping the former reality star’s attacks on the special counsel. Despite their desperate declarations that the Vietnam War hero is dragging his feet, Robert S. Mueller III has proved himself ruthlessly efficient in rooting out public corruption.

In just the past two months, the president’s first national security adviser and most trusted traveling companion pleaded guilty to federal charges; he is now cooperating with Mueller’s investigation. Trump’s campaign manager through the Republican National Convention was also arrested, charged and released only after posting $10 million in bail. A man Trump identified as one of his top foreign policy advisers has also pleaded guilty in federal court and is cooperating with the feds. Another Trump campaign aide was charged in a 12-count indictment. And with the release of “Fire and Fury,” we now know that yet another campaign official for the Republican president — one who subsequently served in his White House — believes that close Trump advisers were “treasonous” to meet with Russians during the campaign.

A cancer again is growing on the presidency, and few know whether the 45th president will survive a single term. Bannon has his doubts. “He’s not going to make it,” Bannon told Breitbart staffers, according to Wolff. “He’s lost his stuff.” But if Trump does escape legal prosecution, Wolff’s terrifying political tome adds weight to a growing body of evidence that the Manhattan billionaire is temperamentally unfit to serve. An email Wolff describes as “purporting to represent the views” of chief economic adviser Gary Cohn neatly summarizes what campaign workers and White House staff have been telling me about Trump for two years. He is an “idiot surrounded by clowns. Trump won’t read anything — not one-page memos, not the brief policy papers; nothing. He gets up halfway through meetings with world leaders because he is bored. And his staff is no better.”

Mika Brzezinski and I had a tense meeting with Trump following what I considered to be a bumbling debate performance in September 2015. I asked the candidate a blunt question.

“Can you read?”

Awkward silence.

“I’m serious, Donald. Do you read?” I continued. “If someone wrote you a one-page paper on a policy, could you read it?”

Taken aback, Trump quietly responded that he could while holding up a Bible given to him by his mother. He then joked that he read it all the time.

I am apparently not the only one who has questioned the president’s ability to focus on the written word. “Trump didn’t read,” Wolff writes. “He didn’t really even skim. If it was print, it might as well not exist. Some believed that for all practical purposes he was no more than semiliterate. Others concluded that he didn’t read because he didn’t have to . . . He was postliterate — total television.” But “Fire and Fury” reveals that White House staff and Cabinet members believed Trump’s intellectual challenges went well beyond having a limited reading list: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called him an “idiot,” Cohn dismissed him as “dumb,” national security adviser H.R. McMaster considered him a “dope,” and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson infamously concluded that the commander in chief was a “moron.”

We are a nation that spent the past 100 years inventing the modern age, winning World War I, defeating Hitler and winning World War II, and liberating half of Europe by beating the Soviets in the Cold War. But today we find ourselves dangerously adrift at home and disconnected from the allies abroad that made so many of those triumphs possible. The world wonders how the United States will survive Donald Trump. And I ask, what will finally move Republicans to deliver a non-negotiable ultimatum to this unstable president? Will they dare place their country’s interests above their own political fears? Or will they move to end this American tragedy only when there is nothing left to lose?


This cannot be allowed to continue, for, as one reader noted in a comment on an earlier post, if we can see it, so can both our allies and antagonists around the globe.  Sooner or later, somebody is going to take full advantage of the fact that we are afloat in a sea, with no rudder, and no captain for our ship.