Even Snarkier Than Usual Snippets …

Lies, LIES, and more LIES!!!  Does anybody really believe a word the ‘man’ in the Oval Office utters anymore?  Does anybody still believe this is a government “of the people, by the people and for the people”?  Does anybody blame me for being MAD???  Our friend Gronda told me yesterday that I can never be too snarky for her.  And so, if you thought I was snarky before … welcome to the Filosofa of 2019 … the Uber-Snarkstress!!!


So many bloomin’ lies … where to start?  Remember this one regarding the ‘need’ for a border wall …

“This should have been done by all of the presidents that preceded me.  And they all know it. Some of them have told me that we should have done it.”

Turned out, just as we could easily have predicted it would, that of the four living former presidents, not a single one ever said that to him, or even discussed it with him.  Just another lie that suited his purpose at the moment.  But his lapdog, Mike Pence, found a rather unique way to justify it.

“I know the president has said that that was his impression from previous presidents, previous administrations. I know I’ve seen clips of previous presidents talking about the importance of border security.”

Um, no Mikey … seeing a president say something on television does not constitute a direct, private conversation.  And talking about ‘border security’ does not necessarily imply a wall.  Wow, Mikey … how low will you stoop to shore up Trump’s lies?  Does it not leave a horrid taste in your mouth?  🤢


One down, 19 to go!

“I continue to stress that there is no good reason for a shutdown. The reality is thousands of federal employees & contractors have no paycheck in sight, small businesses that rely on them are suffering & there’s no reason they should be held hostage to a political dispute. It’s important that we continue the debate on how we address border security & address the President’s top priorities, but it’s possible to provide for security & to address the humanitarian crisis on our border, while still doing our jobs to keep the government fully functional.” – Lisa Murkowski, Republican Senator from Alaska


True or false?  

Senator Lindsey Graham spoke with Trump’s potential nominee for Attorney General, William Barr, recently.  After the conversation, Graham was asked if he felt Barr could be trusted to protect the Mueller investigation.  His answer?

“They’ve been personal friends for over 20 years. His opinion of Mr. Mueller is very, very high in terms of ethics and character and professionalism.”

He went on to say that Barr’s and Mueller’s wives attend Bible study together and Mueller has attended the weddings of two of Barr’s daughters.

Not exactly a written guarantee, and I’m not sure I trust Lindsey, but still, there’s something a bit comforting in knowing that Barr & Mueller are friends.  Let us hope Barr has a conscience and doesn’t pander to the whims of the madman in the Oval Office.


Ever hear the term ‘separation of church and state’???

The headline reads …

North Dakota lawmakers want to require Bible study in public schools

North Dakota is one of those states that largely seems to go unnoticed, so I have to wonder if this isn’t simply a cry for attention … “Hey … Look at us … We’re going to defy the Constitution … nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah … “

“A group of North Dakota lawmakers — all Republicans — have introduced legislation that would require the state’s public schools to teach a unit on the Bible. The unit could be on the Old Testament, the New Testament, or a mix of the two, and would count toward students’ social studies credit requirements.”

YO — North Dakota ‘lawmakers’ of the republican variety!!!  Listen up … some of us are NOT Christians, do NOT ascribe to the bible, but still, we send our kids to school!!!  Just what are we … those of us who are Muslims, Jews, Hindus and atheists … chopped liver???  But wait … North Dakota is not alone!  A member of the Florida State Legislature, Kim Daniels, has proposed a bill, HB195, that would require — rather than just permit, as is the case now — high schools to offer an “objective study of religion.”  In 2017, Kentucky passed the “Bible Literacy Bill”, the purpose of which was to “provide to students knowledge of biblical content, characters, poetry, and narratives that are prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture.”

In normal times, I would look for all these cases to land in front of a judge quite quickly, but … these are not normal times.  However, in the interest of fairness, I think each of these states should also require equal time for the study of Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Little Red Riding Hood!!!


The temper tantrum …

Since when is it appropriate to react to a temper tantrum by giving the thrower of the tantrum lots and lots of attention?  Try that with your toddler sometime and watch what happens!  So, on Wednesday, Trump met with Pelosi and Schumer for the 895th time in two weeks, and predictably Trump said, “I want my wall … WAH!  Gimme gimme gimme my wall!”  Equally predictable were Pelosi’s and Schumer’s responses:  “NO!”

So, Trump slams his little tiny fist on the desk and storms out, slamming the door behind him.  And then … the parents of this brat … the media, go into full circus mode and report it multiple times in every single media outlet both here in the U.S. and abroad.  Every. Single. One.  Thanks, guys … thanks a lot for giving the spoiled brat in the Oval Office the attention he was seeking!  Oh, and by the way … Trump brought candy to the meeting … did he really think a pack of Skittles was going to be worth $5.7 billion???

This little temper tantrum should have been ignored, just as we are well-advised to ignore the fits thrown by our two-year-olds.  It should never have even been reported, let alone turned into “the breaking news of the day”.  We already know he is a hot-headed bully … we really didn’t need to be reminded.


And now, I shall stop and breathe for a little while, perhaps even read a book that has nothing to do with politics in hopes of stabilizing both blood pressure and heart rate.  Good Morning, my friends.

The Circus Is Coming To Town …

Yesterday, Senator Elizabeth Warren announced that she will be running for president in 2020.  Well, to be fair, she announced that she has launched a campaign “exploratory committee” to determine whether she has a chance at winning.  Rarely, if ever, has such a committee in modern times concluded that the potential candidate stands no chance and should go back to the farm, so in essence, Senator Warren announced her intent to run.  There are at least 32 others who have either announced their intent or are said to be considering a run, namely …

  • Joe Biden (former Vice President under Obama)
  • Senator Kamala Harris (California)
  • Senator Bernie Sanders (Vermont)
  • John Kerry (former Secretary of State under Obama)
  • Julián Castro (former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under Obama)
  • Senator Cory Booker (New Jersey)
  • Michael Bloomberg (former Mayor of New York)
  • Eric Holder (former Attorney General under Obama)
  • Michael Avenatti (attorney for Stormy Daniels, Trump’s former paramour)
  • Senator Kirsten Gilibrand (New York)
  • Senator Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota)
  • Deval Patrick (former Governor of Massachusetts)
  • Governor Steve Bullock (Montana)
  • Representative John Delaney (Maryland)
  • Beto O’Rourke (former Senate candidate from Texas)
  • Mayor Eric Garcetti (Los Angeles)
  • Senator Sherrod Brown (Ohio)
  • Senator Michael F. Bennet (Colorado)
  • Senator Jeff Merkley (Oregon)
  • Senator Bob Casey (Pennsylvania)
  • Senator Chris Murphy (Connecticut)
  • Mayor Pete Buttigieg (South Bend, Indiana)
  • Mark Cuban (owner of the Dallas Mavericks sports team)
  • Mayor Bill de Blasio (New York)
  • Representative Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii)
  • Andrew Gillum (former candidate for Governor of Florida)
  • Governor John Hickenlooper (Colorado)
  • Governor Jay Inslee (Washington)
  • Mitch Landrieu (former Mayor of New Orleans)
  • Terry McAuliffe (former Governor of Virginia)
  • Representative Seth Moulton (Massachusetts)
  • Richard Ojeda (West Virginia State Senator)

And those are just the ones who are already talking the talk.  I actually left a few out, such as Howard Schultz, the former Chairman of Starbucks, and entertainer/philanthropist Oprah Winfrey, for I think they are beyond the realm of what is reasonable.  Then again, I said the same about Donald Trump four years ago.  Sigh. Some even speculate that Hillary Clinton might give it another shot.  Personally, I think (and hope) that she is far smarter than that.

Now think about this.  There is just over 22 months until the 2020 election.  That is 672 days, folks.  672 days of listening to the ranting, the babbling, watching the mud-fest and slinging of dirt.  Donald Trump on one side and all these others on the other side.  Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro will be in their element. For 672 days!  Shoot me now, please. The title of a podcast on The Washington Post yesterday sums it up: “Goodbye, 2018. Hello, 2020.”  In other words, welcome to 2019, the year that wasn’t.

The above list of candidates all have some positive attributes, with the possible exception of Michael Avenatti, who I believe is saying he will run mostly as a publicity stunt anyway.  But along with the positive, each one also carries with him/her some baggage.  Okay, nobody is perfect, but this is the year the democrats really, really need a perfect candidate, one with no skeletons in the closet, no dirt hiding in their past.  Donald Trump’s campaign will be brutal this year and next in digging up dirt and buried skeletons.  They will leave no stone unturned.  And we will have to listen to it all … every day … ad nauseam.  And you thought 2019 would be an improvement over 2018?

Unless I miss my guess, there will likely be somewhere around 25-30 candidates in the running initially.  Some will be weeded out in short order, whittling the list down to around 10-12 by the end of this year.  Folks … Barnum & Bailey might not be around any longer but trust me … a circus is coming to town.

A circus is exactly what we don’t need.  The Democratic Party needs to be the responsible one with candidates who can stand up to close scrutiny and who are focused, who have strong ideologies, well-communicated platforms, and who will not be distracted by mud-slinging and name-calling.  They need to be above the fray of the GOP and not wallow in the hog pen with Donald Trump.

Given that there are 22 months yet until the election, and given the above list of potential candidates, some of whom I’ve never even heard of, and in light of my disastrous predictions in 2016, I make no predictions at this point as to whose name will end up on the ballot by November 3rd, 2020.  I will make one prediction, however, that alcohol and tobacco sales will increase dramatically this year!  It is going to be a looooooong and ugly 22 months.  And I voice a serious hope that whoever ultimately becomes the Democratic candidate can stand firm and defeat either Donald Trump or Michael Pence, whichever name is on the GOP ticket by then.  Welcome to the never-ending election season!

A Snarky Snippet Friday …

It seems that the closer it comes to election day, the more fired up the rhetoric gets, the snarkier I feel.  Having just finished a three-part series on Voter Apathy, I was ready to let loose with some snark this afternoon!


A big deal …

1-mike-pence.w330.h412“I heard Oprah was in town today. And I heard Will Ferrell was going door-to-door the other day. Well, I’d like to remind Stacey (Abrams) and Oprah and Will Ferrell — I’m kind of a big deal, too.”

— Vice President Mike Pence at a campaign event for gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp in Georgia, reminding voters he’s a big-ticket name, too.

As one commenter said: “On one side, beloved American institutions. On the other, a man with as much charisma as an empty cottage-cheese tub.”

 


The judge can’t make up his mind …

Remember two weeks ago when I wrote a piece on some of the ways in which states are disenfranchising certain groups of voters?  One such state was North Dakota, where voter identification laws require an ID with an actual street address. Problem is that many of the Native Americans live in rural areas where their address is a P.O. box.

Late Tuesday, the Spirit Lake Tribe and six individuals filed suit in U.S. District Court to prevent North Dakota’s new voter ID laws from being implemented during next week’s mid-term elections.  Seems reasonable, yes?  Apparently not to U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland, who declined to grant emergency relief and ruled that granting an injunction days before the election “will create as much confusion as it will alleviate.”  Say what???

Daniel Hovland

Judge Hovland

Versions of North Dakota’s voter identification law have been the subject of litigation for the past few years. Earlier this year, the very same Judge Daniel Hovland found the requirements, including identification carrying a residential street address, disproportionately burdened Native American voters.  He also found that thousands of Native Americans were less likely to possess identification that met the requirements or the documentation required to obtain identification.

So, to clarify, the judge has understood for some time that the laws are restrictive and keep thousands of Native Americans from voting, but he feels it would be too confusing to put a hold on the laws in order to allow Native Americans to vote in next week’s election.  This move is almost certain to unseat democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp who is trailing behind her republican challenger, Kevin Cramer by 7-9 percentage points.  Does anybody smell a rat here?  Fair and honest elections?  Balderdash!!!

Heitkamp-Cramer.jpg

Heidi Heitkamp / Kevin Cramer


Another strike against women …

Okay, so the evangelical right-wing republicans are dead-set against abortion under any and all circumstances, right?  No exceptions, life begins before the cigarette is even lit, and is something sacred from that point forward.  So, doesn’t it make sense that those same people would favour birth control so that there would be far fewer abortions needed, and an added bonus, far fewer children in need of help from the government for such luxuries as medical care, food, clothing and shelter?  But no … they want to be able to determine whether their religion allows a woman access to birth control, too!

Trump is attempting to revise the rules of ACA in order to allow companies to refuse to cover birth control in their employee health plans if they have moral or religious objections.  Thus far, the courts have struck his revision down twice, but he has once again made what is said to be a minor adjustment in hopes of getting the blessing of the courts before next week’s mid-term elections.  The average cost of birth control, if not covered under an insurance plan, is $160 – $600 per year.  It may not sound like much, but to a lot of women, that may be two months’ worth of groceries.

I see this as blatant misogyny … an attempt to dictate that “Woman, you WILL have babies whether you desire to or not!” 


Even ice cream goes political …

According to a statement by Ben & Jerry’s founders, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield …

“We cannot ignore the Trump administration’s attacks on our values, our environment, and our very humanity. We cannot stand silent while disenfranchised groups are silenced and ignored. We must act, we must resist. Introducing Pecan Resist, a new Limited Batch flavor that packs so much more than fudge and nuts under its lid. This flavor supports organizations that are working on the front lines of the resistance, supporting equality, justice, and respect for everyone. Featuring chocolate ice cream with white fudge chunks, dark fudge chunks, pecans, walnuts, and fudge-covered almonds, it’s a nutty delight that’s sending a powerful message. Together, we can resist. Learn more and find it near you here: http://benjerry.com/pecanresist

The reviews on Twitter were a mixed bag …

  • I am never purchasing anything at Ben and Jerry’s again, this is disgraceful.
  • I am proud to announce my next flavor of Ben and Jerry’s I will be eating….. none of the above. Political food makes my stomach turn.
  • My new favorite ice cream!
    That’s how you make a statement
    And take a stand!
    Well done @benandjerrys
    .. if you wanna make another
    flavor called Kid Vicious
    You have my permission!#PecanResist#TheResistance#Vote #KidVicious

And there you have it … another episode of Filosofa’s Snarky Snippets!  Happy Friday and have a great weekend, my friends!Happy Friday

De-bunking the 25th Amendment Myth

Unless you’ve been in a coma for the past week, you are no doubt aware of the Anonymous OpEd piece published by the New York Times last Wednesday, September 5th.  Anonymous claims to be a ‘senior official in the Trump administration’ who is part of a group within the White House attempting to quell the worst of Trump’s inclinations.  One line in the letter stirred a great deal of conversation:

“Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis.”

Early on in the Trump presidency, I mentioned the 25th Amendment a few times as a possible means for removing the madman, and at that time, I saw some hope.  But, just as I have cautioned you that impeachment is absolutely not going to fly, I must now do the same regarding the 25th Amendment.

A quick explanation of how the 25th Amendment is supposed to work:

Under Section IV of the 25th Amendment, the vice president and a majority of the cabinet can send a letter to the president pro-tempore of the Senate and the speaker of the House notifying them that the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” When that happens, the vice president will assume the role of “acting president” and the president is (temporarily) relieved of his duties. The president can notify congressional leadership that no incapacity exists and unless the vice president and the majority of the cabinet disagree, the president will reassume his duties. Otherwise, two-thirds of both houses of Congress would be required to vote to permanently bestow the title of “acting president” upon the vice president.

The 25th Amendment was intended to deal with a situation in which the president was incapacitated but still alive. Imagine a scenario in which the president has suffered a massive stroke. The stroke has put him in a persistent vegetative state. He is unable to discharge the office but, because he has not died, the vice president cannot assume the presidency in the normal manner. Prior to the passage of the 25th Amendment in 1967, there was no constitutional remedy for such a situation. Such a scenario is real—such a medical crisis happens to Americans every day—and if it afflicted a president, the stakes would be profound.

The intent of the 25th Amendment was not to remove presidential powers because people disagreed with the president or because they questioned his judgment. It could be argued that Trump’s behaviors and actions in office suggest that he is suffering from some mental defect or other psychological disorder that renders him “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” However, the president’s physicians have not declared that to be true, nor are they likely to. We may disagree with Trump, question his motives, or even question his competence in office, but short of a medical assessment saying otherwise, he would not be considered to be incapacitated.

Look at Mike Pence last Sunday, making the rounds of the morning talk shows and licking Trump’s boots at every stop.  Is this a man who is going to invoke the 25th?  Check out his cabinet members … find even two who would be willing to take the risk, let alone a majority.  And think about this … if they did grow a pair of cojones and take that first step … all Trump would have to do is fire the lot of them.  Ridiculous, you say?  Remember who we’re talking about here.

And then, even if all the above obstacles were overcome, we come back to the same argument I made to prove that an impeachment is not feasible:  it requires a 2/3 majority in both chambers of Congress.  The Senate, again, will be sort of a democratic majority even if every single seat that is open in November is filled by a democrat.  The republicans in Congress are not going to risk their necks, their ‘good standing’ with their voters to remove Trump from office.  Period.

So, no, Trump will not be impeached nor removed via the 25th Amendment in the foreseeable future.  My best guess is that, barring a true meltdown such as him removing all his clothing and running naked through the White House brandishing a flaming sword and screaming, “Burn, baby, burn!!!”, he will be in office until 20 January 2021.  The only way I can predict that changing is if the 36% or so who still support Trump can be convinced to listen to reason, to consider facts, to realize the dangers of him remaining in office.  As I have noted before, the republicans in Congress will move against Trump just as soon as their voters tell them to, and not one moment sooner.   It’s gonna be a long 783 days until election day 2020.

Stupidest Idea Ever …

It sounds more like something out of a Buck Rogers comic book than a serious proposal.  Yesterday, Mike Pence outlined Donald Trump’s plan to establish a “Space Force” as the sixth branch of the U.S. military.  My initial thought?  Trump claims that we must cut back on healthcare, food, and shelter for the poor and underprivileged, that we can no longer afford programs that benefit people and the environment, but we can afford a completely useless, unpopular, pointless ‘gas-guzzler’?

“The time has come to write the next great chapter in the history of our armed forces, to prepare for the next battlefield where America’s best and bravest will be called to deter and defeat a new generation of threats to our people, to our nation.”  Oh pleeeease … spare me the dramatics!!!

He called for Congress to allocate an additional $8 billion for space security systems over the next five years.  Again … we cannot afford to help provide health care for the nation’s low income families, but we can spend a bloody $8 billion on this crap?

Fortunately, neither Trump nor Pence can simply snap their fingers and make it happen.  This will need the approval of Congress, and it is a very contentious proposal, unpopular with many.  In addition, Secretary of Defense Mattis was against the idea, saying he did not want to add “additional organizational and administrative tail” to the military.  Of course, since then he has come ‘round to Trump’s way of thinking, most likely in order to keep his job.  Integrity, anyone?  Yesterday, Mattis said that space “is becoming a contested war-fighting domain, and we have to adapt to that reality.”  Seriously?  Have any of you guys seen spaceships filled with aliens in the night sky, waiting to attack the mother ship?

Proponents of a Space Force argue that the Air Force does not pay enough attention to outer space. What is more, they say, Russia and China are developing anti-satellite weapons that could pose a threat to American satellites.  Guess what, folks … they need to be paying more attention to the fact that Russia already has the capability of shutting down large portions of our electrical grid with the click of a mouse, which would effectively bring the nation to its knees.  What if we work on the problems that we know exist, and leave the Star Wars games for Hollywood to deal with?

Retired astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, who flew four shuttle missions, called the space force a “dumb idea” that would duplicate work already done by the air force.  BINGO!

But wait!!!  It gets even better!!!  The most important first step, y’know, is to select … A LOGO!!!  And guess who will be selecting the logo?  Trump’s supporters.  Yep, not all the people who will be paying their hard-earned tax dollars to support this utter nonsense.  Oh no, friends … you and I have no say in the choice of this logo.  Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Pascale, has emailed supporters asking them to vote for one of six space force logos to commemorate the “huge announcement”.  This is the biggest load of you-know-what that Trump has come up with yet!logo-1The ‘supporters’ have been given the above six logos to choose from.  Personally, I think they all look stupid, but then I am already biased against the entire thing anyway. Most have spaceships, though one has an odd yellow shape that some on Twitter have suggested is an homage to the president’s hair.  Twitter users have been having a ball with this.twitter-1

twitter-2

twitter-3If this ridiculous money-waster of an idea actually passes Congress and becomes reality, there is no doubt that whichever logo is chosen will show up on hats, t-shirts, and perhaps even men’s underwear and it will all be available for a small donation to Donald Trump’s campaign fund!  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Now, I’ve done my venting and I do have something serious to say about this.  We have a heck of a lot of troubles right here on planet earth.  There may well be potential future threats to satellites in space … I am not a scientist, so I cannot say.  But even if there are, they are not of the same immediate concern as a multitude of problems right here that absolutely must be dealt with if this planet is to remain habitable for human life.  Think about it … if we continue on our rapid path of polluting our air, water and soil, the satellites in space, whether ours, China’s or Russia’s, will not matter, for there will be nobody left breathing on earth to worry about it.  Donald Trump is not only failing to address climate change, but is intentionally reversing the protections that were in place and attempting to stop states from enforcing their own environmental regulations.  It is almost as if he fully intends to make sure that the next generation has to walk about wearing oxygen masks, and the generation after that will be confined in plastic bubbles.  We don’t need to worry about what is going on in outer space … we need to take care of our own home and the people who live on it first.

We owe it to our children, their children, and all future generations around the globe, not just in the U.S., to protect our environment.  When we have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, soil that is safe to grow chemical-free food, when everybody in this nation has affordable health care and enough food to eat, then let the little boys in Washington play with their space toys.  Not now, not in 2020, not anytime in the foreseeable future.

It Happened Again, Folks …

It wasn’t as widely reported as Parkland or Santa Fe, but there was another school shooting last week, this one in Noblesville, Indiana on Friday.  The shooter was a student who asked for permission to leave the classroom and returned armed with two handguns. This time, nobody died.  Care to know why?  Because the shooter was stopped by the unarmed teacher.  A good guy without a gun stopped a bad guy with a gun.  And that, my friends, explains why you may not have heard about this school shooting – it wasn’t sensationalist enough for the media, since nobody died, and it wasn’t in keeping with the NRA’s motto.jason_seamanThe teacher was 29-year-old Jason Seaman, who is being hailed as a hero.  The shooter entered the classroom and immediately began firing, hitting one female student.  Mr. Seaman sprang into action, charging the shooter and knocking him to the ground.  He was shot three times in the process, but has had surgery and is out of the hospital and doing well.  This is his statement:

“I want to let everyone know that I was injured but am doing great. To all the students, you are all wonderful and I thank you for your support. You are the reason I teach.”

Fortunately, the shooter had only handguns and not an assault weapon, else the ending might have been much, much worse.  And fortunately, Mr. Seaman was quick-thinking and courageous.

An editorial in The Washington Post begins …

“The national cable-news shows didn’t air Friday’s media briefings about the latest school shooting. The attack in Noblesville, Ind., was the third in just the span of a week, after all. And only two people were shot. Good news, right?

Wrong. Wrong on so many levels. Wrong that we are becoming accustomed to a world in which our children are potential targets. Wrong that we should have to feel grateful only two people were shot. And wrong to believe those two people were the only victims Friday when a student at Noblesville West Middle School opened fire.”

What is the limit?  What is the number of students that must be injured in a single shooting event before it becomes major news?  Is it 5?  10?  Or … is it only major ‘BREAKING NEWS!’ if someone dies?  After Santa Fe two weeks ago, many people were stunned to read that it was the 22nd school shooting this year so far.  Why?  Because few were covered at any length … a mere mention below-the-fold on page 22.  I have been guilty of this also, in part because if it doesn’t scream in the headlines, it may not come onto my radar, and in part because I feared that too much coverage could lead to the dilution of the topic … that people would begin to take a ‘ho-hum’ attitude.

But we simply cannot allow the shooting of school children to become the norm.  We cannot become complacent.  We cannot afford to simply shrug our shoulders and send our useless, meaningless ‘thoughts and prayers’.  We can no longer simply be thankful that it wasn’t in our neighborhood, wasn’t our own children.

I no longer call on the republicans in Congress who have time and time again blocked any attempts to limit access to guns, especially assault weapons, to get off their posteriors and do what We The People are telling them to do.  Nope … they had their chances … far too many chances.  Instead, I am calling on every person who is eligible to vote in November to do so, to vote for the candidate, whomever he or she is in your state, who promises to fight the NRA, who promises to fight for sensible and serious laws to prevent our children being murdered.

Oh, and by the way … Mike Pence, former governor of Indiana, sent his thoughts and prayers.

Take A Knee …

1st amendment Today, the National Football League (NFL) took it upon itself to slash the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  The owners implemented a new rule that teams and therefore players will be fined if they take a knee on the field during the national anthem.  Now, they are allowed to remain off the field during the playing of the anthem, but they cannot show their protest as Colin Kaepernick did in August 2016.  Washington Post columnist EJ Dionne said it well …Dionne-tweetCommissioner Roger Goodell had this to say …

“The policy adopted today was approved in concert with the NFL’s ongoing commitment to local communities and our country — one that is extraordinary in its scope, resources, and alignment with our players. We are dedicated to continuing our collaboration with players to advance the goals of justice and fairness in all corners of our society.

The efforts by many of our players sparked awareness and action around issues of social justice that must be addressed. The platform that we have created together is certainly unique in professional sports and quite likely in American business. We are honored to work with our players to drive progress.

It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic. This is not and was never the case.

This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem. Personnel who choose not to stand for the anthem may stay in the locker room until after the anthem has been performed.

We believe today’s decision will keep our focus on the game and the extraordinary athletes who play it — and on our fans who enjoy it.”

People of conscience who are fortunate enough to have a wide platform want to use that voice to rally against injustice, and they will be fined if they do so.  What’s wrong with this picture?  How did we get so out of sync here?

kneelingPatriotism?  Loyalty to country?  The flag is a piece of cloth and the anthem is a song.  Nothing more.  They are symbols, but symbols of what, exactly?  What is patriotism?  Does patriotism require that we sit down and shut up when we would speak out against an unarmed black man being killed by a cop for no reason other than that he was black?  Does being loyal to our country mean that we cannot speak out when people are being discriminated against because they are gay?  If that’s what patriotism and loyalty mean, count me out!

POLICY STATEMENT
The 32 member clubs of the National Football League have reaffirmed their strong commitment to work alongside our players to strengthen our communities and advance social justice. The unique platform that we have created is unprecedented in its scope, and will provide extraordinary resources in support of programs to promote positive social change in our communities.
The membership also strongly believes that:
1. All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.
2. The Game Operations Manual will be revised to remove the requirement that all players be on the field for the anthem.
3. Personnel who choose not to stand for the anthem may stay in the locker room or in a similar location off the field until after the anthem has been performed.
4. A club will be fined by the League if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.
5. Each club may develop its own work rules, consistent with the above principles, regarding its personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.
6. The commissioner will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.

You know what I would like to see?  I would like to see every single player on every team take a knee during the anthem in the first games of the season.  At least one team owner had some cojones.  Christopher Johnson, the chairman and C.E.O. of the New York Jets, said the team would not punish players who choose to kneel during the anthem, despite the cost.

“There will be no club fines or suspensions or any sort of repercussions. If the team gets fined, that’s just something I’ll have to bear.”

Mike Pence, a known bigot and Trump sycophant, tweeted thisPence tweetStunning. Victory. For. Trump. That, folks, is what this is all about. If Trump speaks out against the NFL, they are afraid they will lose fans and thus lose some of those billions they rake in every season. Gotta keep the madman at the helm happy.

There may be some hope for a reversal, as the NFL and the team owners failed to consult with the players union.  The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) issued the following statement:

“The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new ‘policy,’ ” the NFLPA said in a statement. “NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about.

The vote by NFL club CEOs today contradicts the statements made to our player leadership by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the NFL’s Management Council John Mara about the principles, values and patriotism of our League.

Our union will review the new ‘policy’ and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.”

I hope they find the entire policy to be inconsistent.  This is a slap in the face to the 1st amendment, to the right of free speech, the right to protest.  Football players cannot take a knee, but white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the KKK can shut down entire cities and create an atmosphere of chaos and violence?  Trump denigrates the football players for a peaceful, calm, silent protest, while he calls the violent bigots and racists from the Charlottesville rally ‘very fine people’. Trump nfl vs kkk.jpgThink about this one for a while, folks.  Trump is cherry-picking the U.S. Constitution.  He likes to always be “the winner”.  And who, then, is the loser?  We The People.

Nothing To Be Proud Of …

Racism.  Bigotry.  Phobia.  Call it what you like, it is an ugly phenomenon.  It assumes that one person considers himself somehow superior to another, based on nothing more than race, skin colour, ethnicity.  And make no mistake, folks, in the United States of America, racism is on the rise, is reaching its highest point since the 1960s.  We have nothing to be proud of. I started this post last night with four examples of racist incidents, and by the time I went to bed, I was up to seven incidents.  In a span of a few short days.  WHY????

It was only last month that two men were arrested by police because they were waiting at a Starbucks for their friend to join them before placing their order.  Did I mention that the men were black?

And since then …

And it isn’t only African-Americans who are being targeted, but also Asians, Muslims, and other Middle Eastern and Arab communities.  Last November, the FBI issued a report detailing the rise in crimes motivated by racial bias.  In an article that month, the editorial board of The Washington Post noted that “the groups against whom crimes rose by double digits were the focus of inflammatory rhetoric by Donald Trump over the course of his presidential campaign.”

Remember that phrase we all used way back in elementary school, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”?  Guess what, folks … it’s a lie.  The wounds inflicted by ‘sticks and stones’ eventually heal.  But words can and do hurt, and those wounds often never heal, but rather lead to a spreading infection.  I firmly believe that the majority of people in this nation are decent people who would never dream of hurting another simply because of the colour of his skin, or because a woman is wearing a hijab.  But, obviously, there are far too many people who take it to heart when the ‘man’ who is supposed to be the leader, the example for the nation says that Mexicans are criminals and rapists.  People listen when they hear Trump say, “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. … I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks”.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence both have a history of racism, from Trump’s refusal to rent apartments to African-Americans to Pence’s anti-LGBT legislation in his home state of Indiana.  Unfortunately, while most of us are smart enough, compassionate enough, caring enough to not be swayed by these two men, there are others who are not.  Racism has never completely gone away, though some may have believed it did.  But in the last two years, it has been on the rise at an alarming rate, fed and fueled by the leaders of this nation.

I have no solutions to offer, but incidences like those I mentioned at the beginning of this post are intolerable and I find I cannot simply ignore them, I must speak out, for if we ignore them, they become normalized and before long, nobody thinks much about it.  We cannot allow this to happen.  This is nothing to be proud of, and we all share in the shame of this nation.

Good Guy With A Gun??? Guess Again …

According to Wayne LaPierre, all members of the National Rifle Association (NRA), and most gun-toting civilians in the United States, there is a mantra, almost a religious chant, that goes something like:  The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

Well okay, I don’t buy it for a number of fact-based reasons, but then there are a lot of things I don’t believe that many others do.  But here’s the thing … if those who chant this mantra almost religiously truly believe it, then why has the NRA said they will ban guns from their annual convention during  Mike Pence’s and Donald Trump’s speeches on Friday?  What are you guys afraid of???  I mean, this is the NRA, so surely there will be at least one hero, one ‘good guy’ with a gun to stop the baddies, right?  And … aren’t guns supposed to make us ‘safer’?  And didn’t you say that ‘guns don’t kill people — people kill people’?  So … wouldn’t it make more sense to ban people?

The notice on the NRA website reads …

“Due to the attendance of the Vice President of the United States, the U.S. Secret Service will be responsible for event security at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum. As a result, firearms and firearm accessories, knives or weapons of any kind will be prohibited in the forum prior to and during his attendance.”

‘Prohibited items’ include selfie sticks, backpacks, signs, drones, laser pointers, toy guns and weapons of any kind.  Since when is a sign, a selfie-stick or a laser pointer considered a ‘weapon’? My, but it seems that ol’ Pence and Trump are afraid of a lot of things, doesn’t it?  I wonder why?  I mean, they will be at the NRA’s annual convention.  Surrounded by all their NRA friends (read: donors).  What could possibly go wrong?

They can talk the talk, but they cannot seem to walk the walk. The NRA claims, probably correctly, that the rules were imposed by the U.S. Secret Service, the agency charged with protecting the president, vice-president and their families.  However, if any other event were being held, and the event organizers tried to ban guns, the NRA would be screaming “FOUL” so loudly that they would be heard in Central Africa!

The administration, starting with Trump himself, has quite vocally supported near-unregulated gun ownership for all in the U.S. And Pence is a life-long member of the NRA.  And yet … they now seem to be saying they want all of us exposed to the risk of being shot and killed, but that it is a risk they themselves are not willing to take.  What’s wrong with this picture?

Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter, Jaime, was among the 17 people killed in the Parkland, Florida mass school shooting on February 14th, said …

“On so many levels, this is enlightening. According to the NRA, we should want everyone to have weapons when we are in public. But when they put on a convention, the weapons are a concern? I thought giving everyone a gun was to enhance safety. Am I missing something?”

One member of a Texas gun rights advocacy group said …

“If I was a [Democrat], I’d have a field day with this. Obviously even republicans and so called leaders don’t trust the ‘good guys.’ I realize it’s the VP, but still makes our whole argument look foolish. You may disagree … but in my opinion the very people that claim to protect the 2A should never host an event that requires disarming the good guys. Sad. No excuses for this … it makes us look stupid.”

Now, before you think I’ve lost my bloomin’ marbles, NO, I do NOT think that guns should be allowed into the convention during Pence and Trump’s appearances.  I have no desire to see the vice president shot.  BUT … I do not think guns should be allowed into any public venue, and am merely trying to point out the hypocrisy of both the NRA and Vice-President Pence.  Obviously, this shoots down the tired old ‘good guy with a gun’ theory, doesn’t it?  Next time somebody spouts that one, remind them of this.

And one last thing, that has nothing to do with the banning of guns during the speeches … Why are Donald Trump and Mike Pence using the time that we are paying them to govern the nation,  to attend the annual convention of the NRA, a lobbyist group that should have nothing to do with governing this nation?  Think about that one for a while.