A Sorry Tale Of Two Men …

With Donald Trump’s purge of many immigrants from this country, and what amounts to essentially closing our southern border, there are many low-paid, menial jobs in the agricultural industry that are left unfilled, and farmers large and small are crying for people to harvest crops and pick fruit.  Perhaps it is fortuitous, then, that so many people in the current administration will find themselves out of work come January.  I delight at the vision of Mike Pompeo, Betsy DeVos, Kellyanne Conway and others on a ladder under a tree picking oranges!  Yes, yes, I know these arseholes are all independently wealthy and don’t need to find other jobs, but still … give me my moment of pleasure here.

Now that I’ve had my moment of joy, there are two people on the snark radar today … Sebastian Gorka and Mike Pompeo.


gorkaIn January 2017, Sebastian Gorka was appointed Deputy Assistant to the “President” and Strategist in the Trump White House. He was a member of a White House team known as the Strategic Initiatives Group, which was set up by White House advisors Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner. The Strategic Initiatives Group never got off the ground, and Gorka failed to obtain the security clearance necessary for work on national security issues.

Gorka is a radical whose background and education are questionable, and who has ties to a Nazi-allied group in Hungary known as Vitézi Rend.  Congress, as well as the Council on American-Islamic Relations called for Gorka’s firing, along with a number of Jewish groups.

On August 25, 2017, Gorka left the administration, one week after Steve Bannon’s departure.  Gorka claimed that he had resigned because White House officials were “undermining” the Make America Great Again (MAGA) platform. The White House disputed his claim that he resigned and confirmed he was no longer employed there and did not have further access to the White House grounds.

Okay, gone, good riddance, right?  Let him show up on Fox every month or so to rant and opine, and on his own radio show, as long as he isn’t in our government, yes?  But wait … on Tuesday, it was announced that Donald Trump plans to appoint Gorka to be a member of the National Security Education Board!  Like a bad penny, he keeps coming back!

If you’re like me, right about now you’re scratching your head and wondering just what the Sam Heck the “National Security Education Board” does.  The 14-member board oversees a government program that awards scholarships and fellowships to students and offers grants to colleges and universities to address “the national need for experts in critical languages and regions.” In its mission statement, NSEP says one of its goals is to “produce an increased pool of applicants for work in the departments and agencies of the United States Government with national security responsibilities.”

Sorry, folks, but I don’t want Gorka within our government in any capacity, let alone one that pertains in any way, shape or form to education!  Thankfully, he can join the others in January looking for jobs picking fruit!


Mike-PompeoA year ago, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo launched the “Commission on Unalienable Rights”, a panel tasked with reviewing “the role of human rights in American public policy”.  At the time, I questioned the need and intent of such a panel, for knowing Pompeo’s evangelical religious views, I did not trust that it wouldn’t be more exclusionary than not.  I wasn’t alone, as advocates warned it could imperil LGBTQ and women’s reproductive freedoms.

Said Pompeo at that time …

“As human rights claims have proliferated, some claims have come into tension with one another provoking questions and clashes about which rights are entitled to gain respect. Nation states and international institutions remain confused about the respective responsibilities concerning human rights. We must, therefore, be vigilant that human rights discourse not be corrupted or hijacked or used for dubious or malignant purposes.”

Odd that, for I never felt any confusion as to what ‘human rights’ are.  I promptly forgot about it, in light of other more immediate concerns, until this weekend.  On Thursday, Pompeo and the panel released a draft version of their past year’s work, and it concludes that the two highest human rights are property ownership and religious freedom.  Property ownership???  Quite frankly, people who cannot afford sufficient food to feed their families, who cannot pay their rent, and who cannot afford to take their sick child to the doctor don’t give a tinker’s damn about owning property!  And just how consoling does Pompeo think it is to tell a starving person that, “Oh well, at least you have religious freedom”?  This reminds me of the “thoughts and prayers” they send when somebody’s child is the victim of a school shooting!

This nation and its government have many massive problems that need to be addressed … defining human rights might be a start if the people doing the defining weren’t wealthy bigots who have never missed a meal in their lives, or had to decide between paying the rent and buying food.  It might have had seriousness of purpose if they considered such things as equality for all, regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.  But rather, the entire purpose seems to have been to continue to oppress the oppressed and give legitimacy to the wealthy and the evangelicals.

Pompeo acknowledged historical US failings, including slavery and the dispossession of Native Americans, but he argued that those wrongs had been remedied and was scornful of those who argued that they represented enduring flaws.  Pompeo, and apparently the rest of his panel, are so out of touch with the 99% of us who live in the real world that it’s pathetic.  This panel is naught but an attempt to deny women’s rights, to deny the rights of blacks and Native Americans, and to deny the rights of the LGBT community.  If you’ve got the stomach for it, you can read his draft here.

In his draft, he condemns the New York Times’ 1619 project … an excellent project I have mentioned on two separate occasions and that I strongly recommend.  According to the Times

The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.

Links:

Really Snarky Snippets!

snarky-4My last snarky snippets post failed the snark test … not quite snarky enough.  So, you’ll be happy to hear that tonight I am loaded with snark … it is oozing from my pores!  Mondays are rather always like that, though … Trump & Co kick back into high gear after the weekend and give Filosofa much fodder for the gristmill.  So, sit back and be prepared for … S-N-A-R-K (all caps!).


Say ‘Goodbye’, Sue …

Good ol’ Susan Collins is back in the news.  This time, as she has on rare occasions, she found a shred of conscience and called out Trump (very mildly) for his firing of yet another Inspector General, Steve Linick, the latest in his Stalinistic purge.

“I have long been a strong advocate for the Inspectors General. They are vital partners in Congress’s effort to identify inefficient or ineffective government programs and to root out fraud and other wrongdoing.  The investigations and reports of IGs throughout the government help Congress shape legislation and oversight activities – improving government performance, providing important transparency into programs, and giving Americans better value for their tax dollar.  The President has not provided the kind of justification for the removal of IG Linick required by this law.”

Well said, Susan … a day late and dollar short, but thanks for finding your voice and your conscience.  Turns out that in addition to investigating Mike Pompeo for having staff run personal errands such as picking up the dry cleaning, and walking the dogs for Mike and his wife, Linick was also investigating a highly questionable sale of arms to Saudi Arabia in their quest to overtake Yemen and kill as many Yemenis as possible.  Trump’s administration has admitted that he fired Linick as per a request by Pompeo.Senate Judiciary Committee Scrambles After Accusations Against Judge KavanaughMs. Collins is trailing behind her Democratic opponent, Sara Gideon, in the polls by 2.5%.  It’s hard to say whether this will give her a boost or bring her even lower, but it is well past time for Susan Collins to retire.  She has been in the Senate since 1997, twenty-three years, and while she has done some good things, of late she seems to be more of a Trump bootlicker than not.  She was, of course, one of the Republican senators who voted not to convict Trump on the impeachment charges, thereby handing him the keys to the castle, giving him carte blanche to do such things as purge all oversight via the Inspectors General.


Do you know where your tax dollars are going?

It comes with the job … Secret Service protection for the president, his wife, and immediate family members.  Nobody argues with it, for we surely don’t wish to see a member of the president’s family kidnapped or gunned down, but there are limits.  Since Donald Trump took office, those limits seem to have been repeatedly broken, as We the Taxpayers are funding Secret Service protection for Trump’s grown children while they flit about the globe conducting Trump Organization business … nothing to do with the nation or its people … the only beneficiaries carry the surname ‘Trump’.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so take a look at this one …

Yes, my friends … those last three super tall bars represent the number of trips Trump or his family have taken that required protection that WE paid for.  On average, Obama’s family took 133.3 protected trips per year, while the Trump family has taken an average of 1,625 annually. More than twelve times as many!  Much of the Trump family’s known travel has been to promote Trump Organization businesses, which Trump still owns and profits from.  But does he use some of those profits to reimburse the U.S. Treasury for the protection Junior and Eric were afforded?  NO, he does not. Next time somebody tells you that Trump doesn’t take a salary (which is not true, either), remind them that he is spending more money protecting his grotesque sons than the past three presidents combined!  trump-kidsThis, my friends, are what you and I are paying millions of dollars to protect.  WHY???


Oh, the irony!!!

You’ll remember that last week, North Carolina Senator Richard Burr stepped down as Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee because he is under investigation for insider trading, among other things.  Well, of course a replacement had to be chosen … now, before I tell you who it is, remember the name of the committee … the Senate Intelligence Committee.  Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that … wait for it … Senator Marco Rubio would replace Burr!  I nearly choked on my coffee, for when I think of Rubio, ‘intelligence’ is the furthest thing from my mind.

marco-rubioFirst, he is the 17th most conservative republican in Congress, leaving no room for negotiation, no compromise whatsoever.  Second, he is in the pockets of the NRA, and in February 2018, after the Parkland school shooting, he made a virtual ass of himself when he was questioned by a survivor of the shooting about the more than $3 million he had received in donations from the NRA. Rubio replied, “I will always accept the help of anyone who agrees with my agenda.”

He has been dead-set against ACA, is dead-set against women’s rights, immigrant’s rights, and has vacillated on LGBT rights, depending on which side of the coin seemed most popular at the moment.  And, of course his most recent crime in my book came in February of this year, when he refused to stand for justice and instead voted “not guilty” in the Trump impeachment trial.  That one is unforgivable, for look at the consequences.  Intelligence???  I think NOT.


Doctoring the numbers?

The headline in The Washington Post caught my eye …

By order of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp: The day after Thursday is now Sunday

So naturally, I had to take a quick glance.  Turns out that, eager to prove his decision to be among the first to ‘re-open’ his state, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp played fast and loose with the statistics regarding new cases, hospitalizations and deaths due to coronavirus in his state.  The graph looked real nice … that ‘curve’ the experts keep talking about appeared to represent a steady decline in the new cases and deaths.

But on further investigation … the dates on the chart showed a curious ordering: April 30 was followed by May 4; May 5 was followed by May 2, which was followed by May 7 — which in turn was followed by April 26. The dates had been re-sorted to create the illusion of a decline.  I ask, of nobody in particular, why a governor’s office should be the ones reporting these statistics anyway?  Especially one of the most appallingly corrupt governors in the state’s history!

More importantly, however, is this makes us wonder if ANY statistic we have been given is true, or if the numbers, bad as they are, are being manipulated and hundreds of thousands of new cases, as well as thousands more deaths are being hidden from the public.  I’ve long said that I do not believe a single word that comes out of the Trump administration, and this only confirms what I’ve been saying all along.  Over the past month, I have seen numerous articles positing that the death toll in the U.S. has been under-reported by tens of thousands.  Perhaps even more?  Perhaps we’ve already hit the 200,000 mark, while the statistics say we will hit 100,000 by the end of this week.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could TRUST the government that our hard-earned tax dollars support???

Saturday’s Snarky Snippets

First, I must apologize that there is no Saturday Surprise post today … Saturday showed up, but Surprise didn’t.  Hopefully it will return next week.

I suppose it goes without saying that I have enough snark buildup this morning to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool, and I imagine most of you do, too.  I shall try hard not to mention the cause of it all, since I cannot do so without smoke emitting from my ears.  Twice already the neighbors have called the fire department.


Why is Kellyanne even allowed to speak?

Ms. Kellyanne Conway has opened her mouth once again and as always, it came out stupid.  On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that the life expectancy rate in the U.S. had risen from 78.6 years to 78.7 years.  whoopee.  36 days.  Thing is, it’s likely untrue.  The CDC is a federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  We quite literally cannot trust any information that comes from any federal agency at this time.  Not to mention the fact that with the elevated stress levels in this nation, we are all at greater risk of dropping dead any day.  And, the suicide rate, which must be factored into any such equation as life expectancy, has increased over the last three years.  And … far more people currently have no insurance, thanks to the chipping away at ACA in the past three years.  Prescription medications are ridiculously overpriced. All things considered, I would say it’s far more likely that the life expectancy in the U.S. has decreased.  And … in 2014, when the nation had an intelligent human being for a president, the life expectancy was 78.9 … higher than the one reported today.KellyanneBut, Ms. Kellyanne Conway has decided that we should all sent ‘thank-you’ notes to Donald Trump and his family …

“This has not happened through coincidence, it’s happened through causation. It’s owing in large part to a whole-of-government approach to treat the whole person led by President Trump, first lady Melania Trump, and really the entire administration.”

Bullshit.

According to the report, the slight uptick is due to a decrease in heroin overdoses … not a damn thing to do with Trump or Melania or anybody else in the administration.


Meanwhile, Kellyanne’s better half, George …

Tweeted a response to House Democrat Adam Schiff …George-ConwayDon’t you just wonder what dinner table conversation at the Conway house is like?


The wall came tumbling down

Trump has bragged about his “big, beautiful wall” … that is actually just more of a fence, and there is only, at last reckoning, about 75 miles of it built.

“What I do best in life, I build. … I want it to be so beautiful because maybe someday they’ll call it ‘The Trump Wall.’ Maybe. If they call this ‘The Trump Wall,’ it has to be beautiful.”

Believe me, there is nothing beautiful about a structure designed to keep people out, but apparently there’s nothing very strong about it, either.  In Mexicali, Baja California, it got a little windy on Wednesday morning.  Turns out, Trump’s wall can’t stand up to the wind, for a 130-foot section blew right over.wall-blew-overLet’s see … so far, men have proven it can be cut through with cheap saws, mother nature has proven a bit of a wind gust can knock it down … oh yeah, Donnie, that’s about a wall, alright.  Personally, I’m giving some thought to going to the border and setting fire to it … I’d probably only need my zippo lighter and a little help from the wind.


Pompeo the Pompous …

Remember a few days back when I told you about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo being rude and hyper-critical of NPR host Mary Louise Kelly because he didn’t like the questions she was asking him during an interview?  Well, it has turned into somewhat of a feud, for the next day, Pompeo issued a statement wherein he did not even deny his disrespect and verbal abuse toward Ms. Kelly, but claimed she had lied to him and told him their “post-interview” conversation would be off the record.  Well, buddy, when you curse and berate a reporter, make a blatant attempt to belittle her, I think you get what you deserve.

Ms. Kelly wrote an excellent OpEd in the New York Times explaining the interview and her stance — I highly recommend you read it.  Then, Pompeo barred another NPR reporter from accompanying him on his trip this week to … where else … the Ukraine … presumably as “punishment” for Ms. Kelly’s interview.  But here’s the kicker … since the feud started, NPR (National Public Radio) has seen a major increase in donations from listeners among the 1,000-plus NPR member stations.  Put that one in your pipe and smoke it, Mikey!

Two of my favourite late-night comedians, Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert, did a great job with this … it’s a short one (2:24 minutes) and guaranteed to make you laugh.

The Little Boy Who Cried 🐺

Remember the story about the little shepherd boy who cried wolf?  You don’t?  Aw, c’mon … you’re not so old you’ve forgotten that one.  Well, the story goes that the little boy got bored while tending his master’s sheep, and I suppose to get attention, kept crying “Wolf!!!”, even though there was no wolf after him (not to mention that wolves aren’t bad guys anyway).  The townspeople all ran to his rescue, only to find there was no wolf, no threat, the kid was just bored. Then one day, a wolf really was after the kid, or more likely the sheep, and though he kept crying “Wolf!!!”, nobody came to his rescue, for they were all onto his tricks.  Thus, the wolf ate all the sheep and the little boy, mostly to get him to shut up (poor wolf had a severe case of heartburn for days after).  And the moral, according to Aesop, is “this shows how liars are rewarded: even if they tell the truth, no one believes them”.thinking wolfSo why, you ask, do I tell you a fairy tale on this Saturday afternoon?  I wish I could remember!  I know I had a purpose … but I cannot remember it just now.  So, I shall just proceed with a few snippets and perhaps it will come back to me, eh?


The impeachment trial, for those who might not know, is in its fourth day.  Funny, the senators haven’t done a bit of work all year, but they are so eager to get this trial out of their way, supposedly so they can, as one senator claimed, “get back to doing the work of the people”.  What work???  What “people”?  They haven’t passed a piece of meaningful legislation in the Senate in over a year now!  They don’t even discuss meaningful legislation.  Oh wait … they voted to re-name a few federal buildings … that was pretty important to us all, wasn’t it?

Anyway, one Senator, Roger Wicker from Mississippi, responded to the impeachment charges that Trump had acted inappropriately, had abused the power of his office, in attempting to withhold aid to the Ukraine in exchange for personal gain …

“I do things every week that are inappropriate. So no, I’m not going to go down that road.”

Yo!  Mississippi voters … are you listening here?  Your ‘esteemed’ Senator does things that are inappropriate every week!  Now, I might make mistakes on a near-daily basis, but … ‘inappropriate’ carries a connotation of corruption, of a lack of morals, of values.  I think you Mississippians better be keeping a closer eye on ol’ Senator Wicker!

wicker

He looks a little confused, don’t you think?


Funny, but the republicans seem a mite on edge these days, don’t you think?  For example, yesterday Mike Pompeo apparently didn’t like some of the questions asked of him by NPR radio host Mary Louise Kelly.  His answers were brief non-answers, but it was what happened after the interview that is telling.  As he walked out of the room, he stopped at her desk, leaned in and silently glared at Kelly for several seconds before leaving the room.  Within a minute, an aide asked Kelly to follow her into Pompeo’s private living room at the State Department without a recorder.

She would have been wise to decline, but curiosity got the better of her, I suppose, and she went.  According to Ms. Kelly, Pompeo shouted his displeasure at being questioned about Ukraine. He used repeated expletives, according to Kelly, and asked, “Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?”   Either the republicans are nervous about something and on a short fuse these days, else they are trying to win brownie points by emulating their idol, King Trump.king-trump


And then there was the freshman senator from Tennessee, Marsha Blackburn – a real nasty piece of work in my book.  It seems almost as if each republican picks his or her own target to vilify, and Ms. Blackburn’s target is Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman.  Vindman, you’ll remember, testified to House impeachment investigators about Trump’s July 25th phone call to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy and concluded that he considered it to be inappropriate.

blackburn-2

Notice anything about the mouth … the exaggerated contortions … reminds me of???  And didn’t women stop teasing their hair in the ’70s?

Blackburn has been busily tweeting, appearing on television and social media that she considers Vindman to be vindictive and a coward.  A coward?  Excuse me, but Vindman is a combat veteran of the Iraq War. He served in Iraq from September 2004 to September 2005. In October 2004, he sustained an injury from a roadside bomb in Iraq, for which he received a Purple Heart. He was promoted to the rank of major in 2008, and to lieutenant colonel in September 2015.  That, to me, is not the career path a ‘coward’ would take.

During his Army career, Vindman earned the Ranger Tab, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, and Parachutist Badge, as well as four Army Commendation Medals and two Defense Meritorious Service Medals, yet Ms. Blackburn writes …

“Alexander Vindman broke the chain of command and leaked the contents of the President’s July 25th phone call to his pal, the “whistleblower.” Over a policy dispute with the President! How is that not vindictive?”

“Vindictive Vindman is the “whistleblower’s” handler.”

“Adam Schiff is hailing Alexander Vindman as an American patriot. How patriotic is it to badmouth and ridicule our great nation in front of Russia, America’s greatest enemy?”

There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support any of her claims.

I think Tennesseans, like Mississippians, need to re-think their choice of people to represent them in Congress!toon-1


I still don’t remember quite where I was going with the ‘little boy who cried wolf’ story, but perhaps you guys can come up with something?  Ah well, it’s a good story anyway.  And now, I shall return you to your weekend activities!

True Believer Pompeo Drives Iran Policy

The United States is a secular nation, one that welcomes people of all or no religions, but does not govern based on the beliefs or principles of any religion. At least, that’s the intent as laid forth by the U.S. Constitution. Today’s “leaders”, the people driving public policy, seem painfully unaware of this principle. Our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters has written an excellent post about this, the greatest hypocrisy. Thank you, Jeff …

On The Fence Voters

It’s an open secret that the evangelical community has forged a somewhat uneasy alliance with the current president of the United States. He gives them the judges they want, gives them lip service supporting ‘religious liberty,’ and does a travel ban on Muslims. All of this overrides the fact he’s perhaps the most un-Christian president in history who’s a pathological liar and who publicly bullies people he doesn’t like.

To them, while he’s an imperfect leader, he’s the ‘chosen one’ who might get them the ‘end days’ they so desperately crave. And while that’s enough to make me grab a shot of whiskey (even though I’m a beer drinker), even more frightening is that the two men driving his Iran policy are Vice-President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Both consider themselves proud members of the evangelical community.

I’ve known about Pence for sometime now. He’s a pretty…

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Pompeo Speaks … Sometimes Silence Is Golden

And so it begins.  Iraq’s parliament voted to expel U.S. troops from the country.  This move is understandably for the safety of their own citizens.  Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has promised retaliation for the assassination of Iranian General Soleimani, and one likely target for such retaliation would be U.S. military bases in Iraq and elsewhere.  According to Ammar al-Shibli, a member of the Iraqi parliamentary legal committee …

“There is no need for the presence of American forces after defeating Daesh (Isis). We have our own armed forces which are capable of protecting the country.”

Mike-PompeoSecretary of State Mike Pompeo made the rounds of the Sunday morning talk shows, hitting NBC’s Meet the Press, CNN’s State of the Union, CBS’s Face the Nation, and Fox News Sunday.  On one show he was asked whether the U.S. will leave Iraq, given that they have been asked to, and Pompeo replied …

“We’ll have to take a look at what we do when the Iraqi leadership and government makes a decision. But the American people should know we’ll make the right decision …”

How the Sam Heck should the people of this nation “know” that Trump and/or Pompeo will make the “right” decision when they have made so many wrong ones just in the past week alone, not to mention the past three years?  Trust?  No way, Josè!  Trust and respect are earned … neither Trump nor Pompeo have earned either.  Oh, and by the way, where was Trump while Pompeo was making the rounds trying to convince people that this administration has some clue what they’re doing?  In the Oval Office meeting with advisors?  No … in sunny Florida … on the golf course … of course.

Pompeo went on to say that …

“We are confident that the Iraqi people want the United States to continue to be there to fight the counterterror campaign. And we’ll continue to do all the things we need to do to keep America safe.”

Now wait just a minute … the “counterterror campaign” was against Daesh, aka ISIS, and didn’t Trump say he had defeated ISIS?  Most of us knew he was tooting a fake horn when he said it, and now Pompeo just admitted it.

And speaking of the madman at the helm, yesterday evening he tweeted …

“Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!”

Since when do world leaders use Twitter as a venue for communicating with other world leaders?  But more to the point … this is basically a declaration of war at a time when tensions are already very high in the region, thanks to Trump’s idiocy.  And, by the U.S. Constitution, only Congress has the power to declare war.  This is equivalent to a foreign power threatening to obliterate the Golden Gate Bridge, the Lincoln Memorial, and the White House itself, and dozens of other significant places.  This is the rhetoric of a spoiled brat, a juvenile delinquent … these are not the words of a ‘man’ who leads a nation of some 330 million people!

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, tweeted back …

“Having committed grave breaches of int’l law in Friday’s cowardly assassinations, realdonaldtrump threatens to commit again new breaches. Targeting cultural sites is a war crime; – Whether kicking or screaming, end of US malign presence in West Asia has begun.”

The assassination has placed European nations in danger as well.  Now, I don’t know if Pompeo is truly just stupid, or if he’s continuing to play the little games on behalf of Trump, but apparently he expected the EU and UK to jump up and applaud the foolishness of the United States …

“Frankly, the Europeans haven’t been as helpful as I wish that they could be. The Brits, the French, the Germans all need to understand that what we did, what the Americans did, saved lives in Europe as well.  This was a good thing for the entire world, and we are urging everyone in the world to get behind what the United States is trying to do to get the Islamic Republic of Iran to simply behave like a normal nation.”

Perhaps Mr. Pompeo doesn’t actually understand foreign policy at all, in which case I call for his immediate resignation from the State Department, for he is highly unqualified.  The other alternative is that he is on drugs and is delusional much of the time.

It is my humble opinion that the UK and the EU would be well advised to request that the U.S. close their embassies in those countries and send their ambassadors and diplomats back to the U.S., at least until the tensions ease, for those embassies may well be targeted by Iran at some point, thereby placing innocent citizens in danger.

And all of this, my friends, because of the people in this nation who voted an ignorant madman into the highest office in the land.  Way to go … just way to go.

Just as I finished this post, I received breaking news that Iran has announced it is suspending all commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal.  

The Price For Ignorance …

It is a well-known fact that Donald Trump does not understand the Middle East.  It is an equally well-known fact that diplomacy is not Trump’s strong suit … in fact, I rather doubt the word ‘diplomacy’ is in his vocabulary.  He is a bully who thinks that “might equals right”, and that has not changed simply because he is now in a position where it matters more than ever.

There are a number of people who have dedicated much of their lives studying the Middle East, who understand the dynamics in play, but those people are not in Donald Trump’s administration.  However, those experts have something to say about Trump’s ignorant ‘maximum pressure’ policy toward Iran.

The fight began in May 2018, when Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal, leaving our allies scrambling trying to keep the deal intact, for by all accounts the Iranians were upholding their part of the deal.  The tensions intensified last spring, when the U.S. designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization and moved to shut off Iran’s ability to export oil. Middle East experts warned that Iran would meet America’s escalation with escalation of its own. The Revolutionary Guard Corps designation was opposed by even some top Trump administration national security officials who said it could incite retaliation by Tehran against American troops and intelligence officers.

These predictions have proved correct. In May, the United States accused Iran of attacking oil tankers in the Persian Gulf. Then, in June, Iran shot down an American drone.

Then last week an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia, Kataib Hezbollah, fired on an Iraqi military base, wounding four American servicemen and killing an American contractor. Trump foolishly responded with force: On Sunday, the U.S. military launched air strikes against the militia’s forces in Iraq and Syria, killing 24 people and wounding 50.

Iran-2On Tuesday, thousands of supporters of Kataib Hezbollah and other pro-Iranian militias stormed the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, shouting “Death to America”, a chant reminiscent of the Iran hostage crisis in 1979, 40 years ago. Outraged by the U.S. attacks, many of Iraq’s top clerics and politicians are now demanding the withdrawal of all American troops.  So, what does Trump do now?  Just what Trump always does when he doesn’t know what else to do, he threatens and bullies.

“Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities. They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat.”

He seems to be ignorant of the fact that he does not have the power to force other nations to act according to his will … remember the “Mexico will pay for the wall” statement that he screeched over and over?  How well did that work out?  Former U.S. officials who are experts in Middle Eastern foreign policy are critical of Trump’s “maximum pressure” initiative, saying it is far too heavy on economic sanctions and military deterrence, far too light on serious diplomatic outreach, and not focused enough on the other countries caught in the middle.

“It’s not working because the administration has no idea why it’s applying pressure or what it wants.” — Ilan Goldenberg, a former Pentagon and State Department official

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has reportedly cancelled a trip to the Ukraine in order to closely monitor the situation.  I can imagine he is chewing his fingernails, for he was one of the biggest critics, blaming Hillary Clinton almost exclusively for her handling of the 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including a U.S. ambassador.  Secretary Clinton was absolved of any wrongdoing.

When you play a game without understanding the rules, you will almost inevitably lose.  That is what Donald Trump is doing in the Middle East … the only difference between this and a game of Battleship is that real lives are at stake.  This is likely to end in one of two ways … war or loss of face.  War is unthinkable, but to Trump, loss of face is even worse.  His ego trumps human lives, at least in his mind.

As often happens, Jeff from On the Fence Voters and I were on the same page tonight, and he reminds us that this is an election year, Trump has just been impeached, and Kim Jong-un is rattling his saber once again, all of which adds up to … sigh.  So I would ask you to hop over and take a look at his post, too!

Tears of Shame … Again

Periodically, I write a post that begs for the title “Tears of Shame”, or some variation of that.  Since 2016, there have been eight such posts … tonight makes nine.

Healthy debate, civil discourse … I’m all for both of those.  If I make a statement, you have an opposing point of view, then fine … let’s each present our views and see if we can find a middle ground.  Even if we cannot find that middle ground, we will have each gained a better understanding of why we think the way we do.  This is good for a friendship, it is good for opposing factions within a nation, and it is good for international relations – much better than lobbing bombs.  This is how civilized society remains civilized.

However, when two people disagree and one of those people has neither facts nor sound basis for his views, then his only way of expressing himself is likely to be personal attacks and lies.  It is a tactic that, unfortunately, works well for some people, though it has ended many a friendship.  It is also a very unprofessional way to conduct the business of government.

The republican response to the witness testimony in the ongoing impeachment hearings is an example of such.  Testimony after testimony by credible witnesses, career civil service employees and others, has put the republicans at a loss.  They have zero truthful or valid explanations for the actions by Trump, Pence, Pompeo, Giuliani and others.  So … they attack.  Who do they attack?  Everybody.  Adam Schiff, whose job is to conduct these hearings in a professional manner and get to the truth.  They attack the media.  They attack “Democrats” in general.

But, the worst of their attacks are not only vicious, unfounded and brutal … but they have put human lives, the lives of people who have dedicated their entire career to the service of this nation, in danger.  Their attacks on these people, in my opinion, raises the victims of their attacks to an even higher level of esteem, and frankly the attacks make the republicans doing the attacking look like the fools they are.  They also bring down the reputation of the entire Republican Party, where I assume there are some good people. (sarcasm intended)

These attacks would be laughable except for the current climate of hate and divisiveness in this nation – a climate that has been largely created by none other than Donald Trump.  But, they are not laughable, for in this nation we have 40% of the adult population who still support Donald Trump, who do not care about facts, but rather believe whatever Trump and his cronies over at Fox ‘News’ tell them to believe.  And they own guns.  Some of them own lots of guns.  Please note that I am not saying all republicans are bloody idiots that are going to go out and shoot one of these witnesses for speaking against their beloved leader.  Not at all.  However, there is a portion that would consider it their patriotic duty.  You know it and I know it.

A point in case is Alexander Vindman, who testified on Tuesday that he became so concerned during a July 25 phone call in which President Trump asked Ukraine’s president for help with political investigations that he reported his alarm to a superior.  Immediately, Fox ‘News’ personas Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson jumped on the attack wagon.VindmanOn Ingraham’s show, The Ingraham Angle, it was suggested by her guest John Yoo, with no evidence whatsoever, that Colonel Vindman was guilty of ‘espionage’, a felony punishable by death.  It should be noted here that Colonel Vindman received a Purple Heart after he was wounded in Iraq. He is a Ukrainian-American immigrant who was 3 years old when his family fled to the United States.  Even some republicans were incensed by this, including Mitch McConnell, Mitt Romney, and Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice-President Dick Cheney, who called Mr. Yoo’s accusation “shameful”.

Senator Ron Johnson, a republican from Wisconsin wrote …

“I believe a significant number of bureaucrats . . . resent [Trump’s] un­or­tho­dox style and his intrusion on their ‘turf’. They react by leaking to the press and participating in the ongoing effort to sabotage his policies and, if possible, remove him from office. It is entirely possible that Vindman fits this profile.”

On CNN’s New Day, republican Sean Duffy, a former representative from Wisconsin also called Vindman’s loyalty into question …

“It seems very clear that he is incredibly concerned about Ukrainian defense. I don’t know that he’s concerned about American policy.  He has an affinity, I think, for the Ukraine. He speaks Ukrainian, and he came from the country and he wants to make sure they’re safe and free.”

Tucker Carlson has an even more elaborate conspiracy theory, claiming that the Ukraine has repeatedly asked Vindman to take over their entire military!

And then, Vindman began getting threats against himself and his family.  The U.S. military stands guard and ready to move Colonel Vindman and his family to a secure location on a nearby military base if it is felt that there is an imminent danger.  Other witnesses have also reported getting anonymous threats.  Because they believe that their duty is to the country, not the ‘man’ sitting in the Oval Office.  Because they told the truth.

An attorney for Colonel Vindman, David Pressman, has sent Fox News a letter requesting a public retraction of the comment on Laura Ingraham’s show that suggested Vindman was guilty of espionage.  However, even if Fox retracts and apologizes, it is far too little, too late. Words, once spoken, can never be unheard.

I would ask my republican friends, if in fact I had any left, if this is the legacy they wish to leave, if this is the nation they believe in, and if they are proud of the people, from Donald Trump on down the line, who have so terribly abused those who were willing to tell an uncomfortable truth in order to try to preserve the integrity of this nation.  I, for one, am not proud.  If I were asked by a stranger tomorrow my country of origin, I think I would rattle off the name of the first country I could think of … Sardinia … Cambodia … Sri Lanka.

We The People Have Had ENOUGH!

Dear Donald Trump … our lives ARE NOT your personal playthings to do with as you wish for your own greedy, egotistical, narcissistic purposes!  Grrrrrrrrrrrr.  Filosofa is growling and grumbling tonight for a number of reasons …


#1

Several days ago, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said …

“I’m increasingly worried that President Trump will want to shut down the government again because of impeachment. He always likes to create diversions. I hope and pray he won’t want to cause another government shutdown because it might be a diversion away from impeachment.”

When asked on Sunday if he would shut down the government in light of the ongoing impeachment investigations, he said …

“It depends on — it depends on what the negotiation — I wouldn’t commit to anything. It depends on what the negotiation is.”

This is NOT how government works … at least not unless your country is a tinpot dictatorship!  But then, Donald Trump is neither educated nor enlightened on how government works, and has no concern for the standards and practices, nor for the people of this nation, let alone the U.S. Constitution.

Trump’s last government shutdown, which was also a political ploy to attempt to force Congress to fund his damnable wall, was the longest in the history of the nation.  It cost people their homes, their cars … their livelihood.  Is he going to do it again?  Does he foolishly believe that the House of Representatives will shirk their duty and drop the impeachment investigations in exchange for his signature on the short-term spending bill before November 21st?  If he believes that, he better think again.  If he shuts our government down again for his own personal gain, somebody really ought to put strychnine in his Big Mac!


#2

For those republicans and Trump supporters who may be unaware … California is one of the 50 states in the United States, and the most populous state.  The population of California is 39.56 million, or approximately 11.9% of the nation’s total.  And California is burning!  California is experiencing horrible wildfires that are threatening land, structures, crops, and lives.  Nearly 100,000 acres have burned in recent weeks, and thousands of people have been forced from their homes.  And how, you might ask, is the head of the federal government helping?California-fire-1In his usual way, by placing the blame on others, by saying he could have done it better, and by threatening to cut off federal aid to the state — all done via tweet, of course.

First, he blamed California Governor Gavin Newsom who has been a critic of Trump for some time.

“The Governor of California, @GavinNewsom, has done a terrible job of forest management. I told him from the first day we met that he must “clean” his forest floors regardless of what his bosses, the environmentalists, DEMAND of him. Must also do burns and cut fire stoppers …”

California-fire-2This from a ‘man’ who has no idea what he is even talking about, a ‘man’ who last year said that Finland ‘rakes’ their forests, a faux pas that the president of Finland quickly put paid to, showing Trump for the fool that he is!

Newsom fired back …

“You don’t believe in climate change. You are excused from this conversation.”

Thumbs up to Governor Newsom!  👍👍California-fire-3The reality is that increased temperatures due to global warming are causing the huge wildfires in California, according to a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  Drier, warmer conditions lead to vegetation drying out and becoming more flammable.  And what has Trump done?  He has rolled back nearly every single environmental regulation that would have helped reduce carbon emissions that are exacerbating the effects of climate change.  He is more nearly responsible for those wild fires than any other individual on the planet, in my book!  And yet …

“Every year, as the fire’s [sic] rage & California burns, it is the same thing – and then he comes to the Federal Government for $$$ help. No more. Get your act together Governor.”

Jackass.


#3

And speaking of climate change …

Yesterday, Trump kept to his threat, taking the first step in the process to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, making the U.S. the only nation to ever have done so, making us the only nation that appears not to give a damn about the environment, or the future of life on Earth.  In a tweet, Mike Pompeo bragged about the move, saying …

“Today we begin the formal process of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. The U.S. is proud of our record as a world leader in reducing all emissions, fostering resilience, growing our economy, and ensuring energy for our citizens. Ours is a realistic and pragmatic model.”

I beg to differ.  First of all, we are NOT proud of anything this nation has done regarding the environment since Trump took office.  We have, under the lunacy of Donald Trump, done not one damn thing to cut emissions, protect the land or wildlife habitats, the water or air, but instead have removed nearly every regulation that was in place prior to January 20, 2017!  I had hoped he would be gone from office long before this day rolled around.  There is still some hope, since the country will not be officially out of the agreement until November 4, 2020 … the day after Trump is (fingers crossed) voted out of office.

In response to Pompeo’s tweet, Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and a leading expert on the United Nations’ international climate negotiations process, warned …

“President Trump’s decision to walk away from the Paris agreement is irresponsible and shortsighted. All too many people are already experiencing the costly and harmful impacts of climate change in the form of rising seas, more intense hurricanes and wildfires, and record-breaking temperatures.”

If the U.S. does, in fact, officially pull out, we will be THE ONLY nation on the entire globe that is not in the agreement and is not even trying to save the environment.  Think about that one for a minute.  Or two minutes.


I have more, but … well, that’s enough for the moment … I don’t want to make you all growl and grumble too.  There is one bit of a bright spot.  Remember last week I wrote about Washington Nationals’ pitcher Sean Doolittle who, after much thought, decided he would decline the offer to visit the White House for a celebration of the team’s win?  His reasoning was that Trump had gone against many of Mr. Doolittle’s own values with his racist ways.  Well, when I wrote that, it was rumoured that several other players were also considering declining the offer, and I am pleased to report that six other players in addition to Mr. Doolittle did not attend the White House ceremony yesterday.  They are Anthony Rendon, Joe Ross, Javy Guerra, Wilmer Difo, Victor Robles, and Michael Taylor.  I applaud them for having the courage to follow their conscience.

Bursting The 25th Amendment Bubble …

I have been asked numerous times of late about the possibility of using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.  Folks, believe me when I tell you that I want the madman gone just as much as you do, but I’m not going to give you false hope.  The odds of the 25th being used to remove Trump are almost as good as the odds that I will sprout wings and fly.  I addressed this topic just over a year ago, but I think it’s time I revisit it, perhaps with a bit more detail.

The 25th Amendment, Section IV reads …

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

The Amendment was not intended in the first place to remove a president for cause, but to transfer power to the Vice President in the event that the president were truly incapacitated.  The mechanism for removing a president ‘for cause’, is impeachment.

Now, even if you wanted to stretch it a bit and try to use the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, and there is some justification there, for he proves every day that he is mentally unstable, and it could be argued that this often renders him “unable to discharge the powers and duties …” you still have to read that first sentence very closely.  “Whenever the vice president and a majority of … principal officers …”  By principal officers, it means the Cabinet.  I cannot see Mike Pence being willing to invoke the 25th, but even if he were, let us look at Trump’s cabinet for just a minute.

  1. Vice President – Mike Pence
  2. Secretary of State – Mike Pompeo
  3. Secretary of Treasury – Steven Mnuchin
  4. Secretary of Defense – Mike Esper
  5. Attorney General – William Barr
  6. Secretary of Interior – David Bernhardt
  7. Secretary of Agriculture – Sonny Perdue
  8. Secretary of Commerce – Wilbur Ross
  9. Secretary of Labour – Eugene Scalia
  10. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) – Alex Azar
  11. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – Ben Carson
  12. Secretary of Transportation – Elaine Chao (married to Mitch McConnell)
  13. Secretary of Energy – Rick Perry
  14. Secretary of Education – Betsy DeVos
  15. Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs – Robert Wilkie
  16. Secretary of Homeland Security (acting) – Kevin McAleenan
  17. White House Chief of Staff – Mick Mulvaney
  18. Director of the Office of Management and Budget – Mick Mulvaney
  19. United States Trade Representative – Robert Lighthizer
  20. Director of National Intelligence (acting) – Joseph Maguire
  21. Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) – Gina Haspel
  22. Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – Andrew Wheeler
  23. Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA) – Chris Pilkerton
  24. Ambassador to the United Nations – Kelly Craft

Now, you all know at least something about most of these individuals.  I’ve written at least a time or two about most of them.  Four – Bernhardt, Perry, Wheeler, and Craft – have close ties to the fossil fuel industry.  Pompeo and Barr have both proven to us that they sold their souls downriver and are willing to break the law in favour of Trump.  And others, such as DeVos, got their position as a reward for donating large amounts to Trump’s 2016 campaign.  These are not nice, honest people of integrity … they are self-serving people hanging onto Trump’s coattails because there is something in it for them.

I look at the list, and I see five, maybe six of the 24 who either I don’t know much about, or who I believe may have enough of a conscience to be willing to put themselves in the line of fire in order to do the right thing.  Five or six out of 24 does not constitute a majority, folks.

I’m sorry to burst that bubble … I know how badly you need hope right now, for I need it too.  But, what we don’t need is false hope.  Amendment 25 simply ain’t gonna happen in the foreseeable future.  Now, that could change down the road, but for today, for this week, next week … no, it’s not even worth wasting time thinking about.  Our best hope at this point is impeachment.  Focus on that … focus on contacting your senators and representatives and letting them know that you support impeachment and that you want/expect them to uphold the rule of law.  That is where our best hope lies for today.