Puff … puff … I don’t know about you guys … puff … pant … but I’m tired. Tired of the non-stop ‘breaking news’ updates, about half of which are “pbth … who cares?”, but the other half of which are foot-stomping, growling, jaw-dropping episodes in the ongoing saga of “Fool on the Hill”. Please … somebody … anybody … rescue me and carry me off to a desert island where nobody has ever heard the name “Trump”! I’m tired of all the time being snarky! I’m tired of having my blood pressure go through the ceiling before I’m even out of bed in the morning! I’m tired of … I’m just tired. Sigh. Meanwhile, though, there are more things you guys need to know about, so … Filosofa will now pick herself up from the floor, dry her eyes, and … snark on.
Nothing to see here, folks …
You all remember when Mike Pence visited Ireland earlier this month, right? And, he could have stayed in Dublin, the city where his meetings were to be held, but instead, he traveled (at our expense, lest anyone forget) to Doonbeg, some 180 miles away (one way), in order to stay at Trump International Golf Links & Hotel. Why? Because Trump had ‘suggested’ it and because Mike Pence has not the cojones to stand up to Trump. The price?
Doonbeg is in County Clare on the west coast of Ireland, nearly a four-hour drive from most of Pence’s scheduled meetings in Dublin. According to an analysis by the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Pence’s stay cost taxpayers $599,454.36 in limousine service alone. I have no idea, and cannot find information about how much the hotel bill for Pence, his wife, and his Secret Service entourage was, but the starting rate there for a single room is $228, so … he and Karen no doubt slept and ate well there.
Ol’ Mikey justified it all, though …
Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution says the president receives a salary while in office but “shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.” Before taking office, Trump promised he would step away from his business while in office. Instead, however, he has kept his stake in his companies. So expenditures of public funds like Pence’s stay at Doonbeg directly line Trump’s pockets.
Not only that, but Pence has made more than 20 such visits to Trump properties since taking office. So has Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, while Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has made 16 visits to Trump properties. According to Senator Gary Peters, the ranking member of the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee …
“Reports now claim that at least 24 of the 32 individuals who have served in the President’s Cabinet have patronized Trump properties, including the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. — another property owned by the President.”
But guess what? Trump’s republican “guardian angels” are trying to block the investigation by the House Oversight Committee, calling it a “partisan attack”. According to a letter sent to committee chairman Elijah Cummings by Representatives Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows, both members of the ignoble House “Freedom” Caucus …
“Although you coordinated your attack with Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, you failed to consult with any Republican Members before demanding voluminous information from four separate entities – none of which bore responsibility for the lodging and accommodations in Ireland. We can only assume that these letters were the result of a rushed process to capitalize on news reporting about the Ireland travel, rather than responsible and deliberative oversight.”
Yep … nothing to see here, folks … only millions, perhaps billions of your taxpayer dollars being filtered directly into Trump’s coffers … move along now.
But there is some good news …
Somebody in the Pentagon has some sense …
Last month, the Pentagon authorized about 20 miles of fencing, lighting and other border infrastructure along the southern border that would have used $2.5 billion in funds redirected from a counter-drug fund. But on Monday, the Department of Defense announced that it would not be able to cover the costs of the project after all. Initially, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers determined that it would likely be able to afford the projects using the counter-drug funds, but the Army Corps ultimately advised the department that the funds would not cover the project, prompting its withdrawal on September 13th.
The projects were a part of Trump’s plan to divert Pentagon funds to build the wall he so needs to appease his base, even though said wall would do absolutely nothing to resolve the problem of immigration, would cause irreparable damage to the land and wildlife, and deprive people of their land. It is merely an ego trip for Trump. No word, that I can find, of Trump’s reaction to this news.
No more AR-15s? Er … not quite
U.S. firearms manufacturer Colt announced yesterday that it will stop production of rifles for the civilian market — including the AR-15, a weapon infamous for its popularity among the country’s mass shooters. Their stated reason? That the market is saturated, that there are already more of their rifles on the market than people can buy.
Why is Filosofa such an untrusting soul? Why do I not for a single minute believe them? Because it is Colt, because they are the makers of firearms, their livelihood is dependent on people wanting to kill other people, and that hasn’t slowed down one whit in recent years. So, what do I think (just in case anybody cares)?
I think that in light of the fact that the AR-15s have been receiving much publicity, having been used in several mass shootings recently, including Newtown, Orlando, Parkland, Aurora, Las Vegas, and Dayton, they are getting out before they get hit with lawsuits.
A bit of background here. In 2005, Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which provides immunity in both state and federal court from civil liability for licensed manufacturers, distributors, and dealers of firearms, as well as their trade associations, in most negligence and product liability actions. So, gun manufacturers and sellers have had free reign with no possibility of being held accountable for damage caused by their product. But this year, democrats in both the House and Senate have introduced the Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act, which would allow civil cases to go forward against irresponsible actors in state and federal courts, just as they would if they involved any other product.
Now, we all know that the bill might pass in the House, but not likely in the Senate, and even if by some rare alignment of the stars it passes in the Senate, the Idiot-in-Chief would veto it. However, there is a good possibility that in 16 months, there will be a democratic majority in the Senate, and a democrat sitting in the Oval Office, under which circumstances, it is probable that this bill, or a similar one will pass into law. It is my belief that Colt sees the handwriting on the wall and is getting out while they can. I could be wrong, and likely we will never know for sure if that is their reason.
So, is this good news? Meh … yes and no. Other arms manufacturers continue to produce the AR-15 and other assault rifles, including Palmetto State Armory and Smith and Wesson. The better news is that companies like Wal-Mart and Dick’s Sporting Goods have discontinued sales of these killing machines and their ammunition. The even better news will be when and if the Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act passes into law. And the best news yet would be a total and permanent ban on all assault-style weapons outside the military and law enforcement. Some say it’ll never happen … I think it might, but it will take time.
And now, I return you to seek cheerier blogs than mine!