Wise Words From A Wise Man

Last night, I read Nicholas Kristof’s column from yesterday, an open letter to his conservative friends.  While he is kinder and more forgiving than I am, I do agree with most of what he says, so I’ve decided to share his letter here with you.  Mr. Kristof has twice won the Pulitzer Prize, as well as numerous other honours far too numerous to list here.

A Letter to My Conservative Friends

Hold us accountable, but please do the same for the charlatans who deceive you, use you and cheat you.

nicholas-kristof-thumblargeBy Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

  • Jan. 27, 2021

AMHILL, Ore. — This is an open letter to some of my old friends and neighbors who believe that Donald Trump won re-election, who think that face masks are for wimps and who fear that Democrats are plotting to seize their freedom.

Dear friends and neighbors,

Relax! We liberals aren’t plotting to round you up in “re-education camps.”

I was horrified when a couple of old friends here asked if they were in danger for having supported Donald Trump. I gently told them that they were in no peril — and I was stung that they felt greatly relieved to hear it.

Yes, I know that Fox News is peddling nonsense about Democrats setting up re-education camps, and that a Wall Street Journal column asked, “If you were an enthusiastic Donald Trump supporter, are you ready to enter a re-education program?”

Folks, you’re being played. Again.

These are some of the same charlatans who argued last year that, as Fox News put it, the coronavirus is “just like the flu” and that mask mandates are a step toward “tyranny.” More than 400,000 coronavirus deaths later, some people are dead because they believed that drivel.

Then there’s the rubbish about the election. This month, just days before Joe Biden’s inauguration, a childhood friend told me confidently that Trump would swoop in to serve a second term. When I told him he was wrong, he was astonished that I could be so poorly informed, and he helpfully advised, “Don’t pay attention to those liars in the mainstream media.”

You’ve been hoodwinked, exploited and manipulated by con artists waving flags, casting lies and monetizing bigotry. Steve Bannon, who suggested beheading Dr. Anthony Fauci, defrauded Trump supporters into donating to build a border wall and then used some of the money for himself, according to a federal indictment.

Here on our family farm, we received a direct mail appeal warning about “Islam in Yamhill Schools” and pleading for donations to protect Christianity. No, that isn’t about conservative values, but about spreading hate and hysteria while grabbing at your wallet.

So let’s give America a chance to heal. And, as I told my worried friends, don’t hesitate to stand up for your conservative values. We need Republicans! America benefits from a loyal opposition.

For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week called for trying harder to keep schools open. On that issue, Republicans have been more right than many Democrats.

But half a century ago we didn’t need the racist George Wallace wing of the Democratic Party, and today we don’t need the wing of the Republican Party that embraces conspiracy theories and winks at violence.

The grand question: Without that wing of today’s G.O.P., what’s left?

One glimpse of the conundrum: The G.O.P. representation in Congress is losing Rob Portman, a widely respected senator who announced he will step down, and just gained Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, an extremist who in 2019 endorsed the idea of shooting Nancy Pelosi in the head. When a party loses a statesman and gains a kook, that’s a bad omen.

Meanwhile, the Hawaii G.O.P. this week recommended the “high quality” commentary … of a Holocaust denier. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich warned on Fox News that Democrats are trying to “exterminate the Republicans.” Sure, Democrats sometimes say and do dumb things, too, but there’s no symmetry.

As I see it, the last, best hope is twofold. First, Republican leaders must learn that extremism is a losing strategy. Only one G.O.P. candidate for president has won the popular vote in the last three decades, and the loony Arizona Republican Party has lost about 10,000 members since the riot in the U.S. Capitol and its censure of party elders like Cindy McCain. If Trump is further discredited through prosecutions or scandals, it is possible (though far from certain) that his malign influence on the party will diminish.

Second, to dampen that extremism, advertisers should stop supporting networks that spread lies and hatred, and cable companies should drop channels that persist in doing so. As a start, don’t force people to subsidize Fox News by including it in basic packages.

Is this a slippery slope? Yes, and it makes me queasy. But we all recognize that there are red lines: Neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan grand wizards have First Amendment rights, but we shouldn’t pay to give them microphones, nor should commentators on the left or the right get megaphones to promote violence. Extremists enjoy free speech but shouldn’t be buttressed by advertisers or our cable fees.

So, conservative friends, fear not: We’re not plotting to lock you up in detention camps. We need you to keep us honest. But you’ve been scammed in ways that have hurt the country we all love. Hold us accountable, but please do the same for the charlatans who deceive you, use you and cheat you.

Consider yourself warned

Our friend Brosephus is a mite grumpy today … and with good reason. Once republicans figured out the only way they could win is to cheat and disenfranchise those who are unlikely to vote for the ignoble republican candidates, they they did the inevitable — they cheated. And they are still at it today, even as the electoral college is verifying Joe Biden’s win. And down in Georgia … well, I’ll let Brosephus tell you why he’s grumpy today …

The Mind of Brosephus

I’m just a tad bit grumpy this morning. Maybe it’s due to cabin fever because of my current quarantine status. Maybe it’s due to other things. However, a tweet this morning from Jim Galloway pushed me over the edge and into that deep abyss where the Angry Black Man resides.

For a reference point, here’s three of Newt’s tweets within the past 24 hours.

Why, why, why? It’s a cold in Georgia this morning Newt, w so why don’t you enjoy a nice warm cup of Shut The F**k Up since we’re in a why mood. I’m tired of having to fight tooth and nail to protect my right guaranteed under the US Constitution from these a**holes. I’m also sick and tired of the media downplaying the dangers faced by my community.

This isn’t some new fangled GOP idea either. Remember this guy here?

Or, how about this guy here?

View original post 427 more words

Just A Wee Bit Of Snarky

Steve Bannon has been banned from Twitter … I hope for the rest of his days.  What did he do?  He called for the beheading of Dr. Anthony Fauci and the FBI director, Christopher Wray, and the posting of their heads outside the White House as a “warning”.

“Second term kicks off with firing Wray, firing Fauci … no I actually want to go a step farther but the president is a kind-hearted man and a good man. I’d actually like to go back to the old times of Tudor England. I’d put their heads on pikes, right, I’d put them at the two corners of the White House as a warning to federal bureaucrats, you either get with the program or you’re gone.”

I have long said that Steve Bannon is a nasty piece of work … there can no longer be any doubt in anyone’s mind.  Trump & Co have been inciting violence with their constant charges of voter fraud (virtually non-existent) and their claims that ‘democrats are stealing the election’.  Newt Gingrich, former Republican House Speaker, went so far as to say that the people counting the ballots should be ‘locked up’, but at least he didn’t call for their execution.  All of this does nothing but encourage Trump supporters who already seem prone to violence.  Thus far, there have been no reports of incidents involving injury or death, but gun sales are up again, and it’s only a matter of time.

Philadelphia police arrested two men who were allegedly involved in a plot to attack the Pennsylvania Convention Center where ballots were being counted on Thursday night. Police were tipped off, possibly from a concerned family member of one of the men, who had driven 300 miles from Virginia.  But what if the plot had been successful?  People would have died, ballots would have been lost … and all for what?

Paula White – remember who she is?  She is a televangelist and Trump’s “spiritual advisor”, chairperson of his “evangelical advisory board”, and a nutcase by any definition of the word.  I’ve written about Ms. White before, and in fact back in 2017 she won the cherished “Idiot of the Week” award. Since then, she has featured in a few other posts here, mostly ‘Snarky Snippets’, for there is much in Ms. White to snark about.

On Wednesday night, Ms. White led a ‘prayer service’ to ensure Trump’s victory {cough, cough}.  She called for help from ‘angels’ in Africa and South America … no idea why she picked those two continents, both of which are comprised of countries that Trump has referred to as ‘shithole countries’.  But, if there was ever any doubt that this woman is a lunatic … just watch this short clip of her Wednesday night service …

All l can do is shake my head and wonder what this woman has been smoking.

Comedian Stephen Colbert led into his nightly monologue on Thursday night with a serious moment …

Words of Wisdom … But Will We Listen?

Once again, Robert Reich has wise words, but will this nation listen?  That, my friends, is the $64 million question.

Voters can replace a party that knows how to fight with one that knows how to govern

Robert Reich-4Robert Reich

As America heads into its quadrennial circus of nominating conventions (this year’s even more surreal because of the pandemic), it’s important to understand the real difference between America’s two political parties at this point in history.

Instead of “left” versus “right”, think of two different core competences.

The Democratic party is basically a governing party, organized around developing and implementing public policies. The Republican party has become an attack party, organized around developing and implementing political vitriol. Democrats legislate. Republicans fulminate.

In theory, politics requires both capacities – to govern, but also to fight to attain and retain power. The dysfunction today is that Republicans can’t govern and Democrats can’t fight.

Donald Trump is the culmination of a half-century of Republican belligerence. Richard Nixon’s “dirty tricks” were followed by Republican operative Lee Atwater’s smear tactics, Newt Gingrich’s take-no-prisoners reign as House speaker, the “Swift-boating” of John Kerry, and the Republicans’ increasingly blatant uses of racism and xenophobia to build an overwhelmingly white, rural base.

Atwater, trained in the southern swamp of the modern Republican party, once noted: “Republicans in the south could not win elections by talking about issues. You had to make the case that the other guy, the other candidate, is a bad guy.” Over time, the GOP’s core competence came to be vilification.

The stars of today’s Republican party, in addition to Trump, are all pugilists: Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio; Florida governor Ron DeSantis and Georgia’s Brian Kemp; Fox News’s Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson; and attack dogs like Rudolph Giuliani and Roger Stone.

But Republicans don’t have a clue how to govern. They’re hopeless at developing and implementing public policies or managing government. They can’t even agree on basics like how to respond to the pandemic or what to replace Obamacare with.

Meanwhile, the central competence of the Democratic party is running government – designing policies and managing the system. Once in office, Democrats spend countless hours cobbling together legislative and regulatory initiatives. They overflow with economic and policy advisers, programs, plans and goals.

But Democrats are lousy at bare-knuckles political fighting. Their presidential campaigns proffer policies but are often devoid of passion. Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid was little more than a long list of detailed proposals. Democrats seem stunned when their Republican opponents pillory them with lies, rage and ad hominem attacks.

This has put Democrats at a competitive disadvantage. Political campaigns might once have been about party platforms, but today’s electorate is angrier and more cynical. Policy ideas rarely make headlines; conflict does. Social media favor explosive revelations, including bald lies. No one remembers Hillary Clinton’s policy ideas from 2016; they only remember Trump’s attacks on her emails.

As a result, the party that’s mainly good at attacking has been winning elections – and pushed into governing, which it’s bad at. In 2016, the Republicans won the presidency, along with control over both chambers of Congress and most governorships. On the other hand, the party that’s mainly good at governing has been losing elections – pushed into the role of opposition and attack, which it’s bad at. (The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, however, seems to have a natural gift for it.)

This dysfunction has become particularly obvious – and deadly – in the current national emergency. Trump and Senate Republicans turned the pandemic and economic downturn into American catastrophes. They have no capacity to develop and implement strategies for dealing with them. Their kneejerk response is to attack – China, Democrats, public health officials, protesters, “lazy” people who won’t work.

Democrats know what to do – House Democrats passed a comprehensive coronavirus bill in May, and several Democratic governors have been enormously effective – but they’ve lacked power to put a national strategy into effect.

All this may change in a few months when Americans have an opportunity to replace the party that’s bad at governing with the one that’s good at it. After all, Joe Biden has been at it for most of the past half-century.

Trump and the Republican party will pull out all the stops, of course. They’ve already started mindless, smarmy attacks. That’s what they know how to do.

The big question hovering over the election is whether Democrats can summon enough fight to win against the predictable barrage. Biden’s choice of running mate, Kamala Harris, bodes well in this regard. Quite apart from all her other attributes, she’s a fierce fighter.

Racism in Politics

Erase RacismThe organization is one I was not familiar with, and I don’t even remember quite how it crossed my radar, but it did.  The group is ERASE Racism, and they are based in and primarily serve New York, but they report on racial injustices around the nation. For example a recent entry in their blog was titled Media Attempts to Sabotage Botham Jean’s Reputation, about the attempts to discredit the black man who was shot and killed in his own apartment by a white police officer in Dallas, Texas. The organization seems to be doing some excellent work in combating racism. I first glanced the article below, bookmarked it and moved along.  I came back to it a few hours later and was impressed.  It gave me food for thought, and I decided to share it with you today.  The link to the New York Times column by Charles Blow takes us to a 2012 column Blow wrote during the republican presidential campaign that year.  It is as relevant today as it was then … perhaps more so.  I hope you’ll take an extra few minutes to read the column … it is an eye-opener, if we needed one.

I do not know the author of this article, but have included a link so that you can check out ERASE Racism’s website.

Racist Rhetoric: Good for Politics but Bad for America

Throughout the history of the United States, public officials have used the rule of law to deny equal opportunities to African Americans.  Only recently, in the 20th and 21st centuries, have laws been passed that grant equal rights to all persons regardless of race. Unfortunately, advances in racial equality, such as those brought about by the civil rights movement of the 1960s, have not been enough to erase decades of exploitation and discrimination.  More public policies that help to create racial equity are needed to assure true equal access to opportunities, such as quality public schools and economically viable neighborhoods.  But what happens if those with power and influence view the degradation of African Americans as a positive political move?  It’s scary to think about, but the Republican primaries have provided a frightening example of seemingly acceptable racist rhetoric.

A recent New York Times column by Charles M. Blow skillfully called attention to the anti-black rhetoric that has been embraced by most of the Republican presidential candidates.  Their comments about “the African American community” or “black people” in general have been so negative (and absurd) that one has to wonder whether they believe that racist rhetoric makes for good politics.  “I’m prepared, if the N.A.A.C.P. invites me, I’ll go to their convention and talk about why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps,” Newt Gingrich proclaimed.  Employing the same negative stereotype, Rick Santorum assured his supporters that he doesn’t want, “to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.”  Mr. Blow does a great job of refuting the fallacy that African Americans prefer to rely on government aid than to work.  He points out that a majority of all food stamp recipients are actually white (even though the rate of participation is higher among blacks), a majority are under the age of 18 or are older than 60, and 41% live in low-income households with earnings.

After the recent wave of hate crimes against the Latino community on Long Island, it should be easy to see how racist remarks have real and often dangerous repercussions.   How can we assure our black and Latino children that they can set and achieve goals and should strive for academic success when those in the spotlight, and worse, those in power, are characterizing them as lazy and dependent?  Not only are such negative stereotypes harmful, but they are wrong.  Our research, along with nearly all student performance studies, has shown that strong academic motivation and success is not determined by one’s race, but rather the resources that are made available. In other words, if black or Latino students from a failing school are placed in a high achieving school, the chances of their graduating will dramatically increase and the chances of their going to a prestigious university or college will also increase.  If you have your doubts, then take a look at the personal experiences of two Long Island students, Owen and David, in our documentary A TALE OF TWO SCHOOLS: Race and Education on Long Island .

We should all be conscious of the dangerous effects of negative stereotypes, especially when they have the potential to misinform millions.   It is horrific to hear public officials spew racist rhetoric and degrade African Americans or others for their own political gain.  Regardless of party affiliation, racist rhetoric is unacceptable.

A Total Lack of Conscience …

Donald Trump was planning to use Mollie Tibbetts as a poster child for building “The Wall”, but Mollie’s family wants no part of it.  Hats off to them!

The story:

Mollie Tibbetts was a Psychology student at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.  She was a cross-country runner, and a state-level competitive public speaker; she was active at church and was spending her college summer vacation working at a day camp helping children with literacy and crafts.

On 18 July, Mollie went for an evening run and disappeared until this week, when her body was discovered hidden in a cornfield about 12 miles from town.  Charged with her murder is 24-year-old Cristhian Bahena Rivera who, we are told, is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who has been in the country since at least 2014.  There appears to be sufficient evidence that Rivera did, in fact, murder Ms. Tibbetts, but in this country, there is a presumption of innocence until guilt is proven in a court of law. Neither the media nor Donald Trump are a court of law, nor am I.  However, Trump has already convicted Mr. Rivera in his mind, on Twitter, and in the media, and now is determined to politicize Ms. Tibbetts’ death to serve his own ignoble purposes.

Within hours, Trump created a short (1:06) video clip that he posted to Twitter.  It begins, “Mollie Tibbetts, an incredible young woman, is now permanently separated from her family.”  He then goes on to denigrate Democrats, claim that the wall is being built, claim that we have the worst immigration laws and border security, etc., etc., etc.  It is almost as if he orchestrated Ms. Tibbett’s death to give him this very platform.

While I have no desire to minimize Ms. Tibbetts’ tragic death, I question why Donald Trump is not as disturbed by the hundreds of people who die by the hand of angry white men each and every week in this country?  Where is the empathy, Mr. Trump?  Those murders don’t support your warped theory, do they?  Facts, people … focus on the facts.  While Ms. Tibbetts’ death is tragic, it is the anomaly rather than the norm.

Since his initial video clip, Trump has invoked Ms. Tibbetts name and the tragedy of her murder multiple times.  But the members of Mollie Tibbetts’ family are having none of it.  Her aunt, Billie Jo Calderwood, wrote on Facebook:

“Please remember, Evil comes in EVERY color. Our family has been blessed to be surrounded by love, friendship and support throughout this entire ordeal by friends from all different nations and races.”

I wish I could hug this woman!!!

However, if you think that respect for the family or for this tragedy will stop Trump & Co from politicizing it, from using it to promote their own agenda, think again.

“If Mollie Tibbetts is a household name by October, Democrats will be in deep trouble. If we can be blocked by Manafort-Cohen, etc, then GOP could lose [the] House badly.” – Newt Gingrich

Don Trump, Jr., also had to get his say in, only he couldn’t be bothered to spell Ms. Tibbetts’ name correctly.Don JuniorOn the flip side, one of Fox News’ own contributors, Geraldo Rivera, apparently found a bit of a conscience lying on his dresser, for he said, “This is a murder story. It’s not an immigration story.”

For Donald Trump, or anybody to use this tragedy to promote an agenda, even if the agenda were legitimate, which this one is not, is unconscionable.  It is crass, it is crude, it is unfeeling and unthinking.  The Tibbetts family deserve better than this.  They deserve compassion, they deserve privacy, they deserve respect.  They do not deserve seeing their name on every news site and television news show.  They deserve much better than the fake sympathy Trump uttered in his photo-op video clip.

And once again, I would remind people that the vast majority of murders in this country are committed by U.S. citizens, not immigrants.  And there are literally hundreds every day.  In 2016, there were approximately 17,250 murders in the United States.  That is an average of 47 per day every day.  That is an average of 329 every week.  Have you heard Trump’s outrage over the murder rate statistics?  No, me either.  Did you hear him call for stricter gun laws after the Parkland mass school shooting in February?  Nope, me either.

Mollie Tibbetts’ death was, as so many deaths are, unnecessary, tragic, and sad.  But it was one … one … of tens of thousands that happen every year in this nation of unlimited and unrestricted gun ownership.  Almost without fail, most murders are committed by U.S. citizens, mostly male.  They are not typically committed by immigrants.  Let’s get the facts straight and leave the poor family of Mollie Tibbetts to grieve in private.

Mollie Tibbetts

Mollie Tibbetts  —  R.I.P.

When They Go Low …

Okay, folks … we need to do better.  Midterm elections are in just under four months, we have some inherent advantages going into the elections, but we also have some significant disadvantages, and we are shooting ourselves in the foot!

This morning’s Washington Post reports that members of Trump’s staff are being subjected to public humiliation, taunts, hecklers and even thinly-veiled threats.  Those who engage in such behaviours are doing two things:  they are lowering ‘us’ to ‘their’ level, and they are damaging the image of all democrats.

Mind you, I understand the urge.  Donald Trump is disgusting, as are the majority of his staff and cabinet members, not to mention a large number of the members of Congress.  Together, they have made a mockery of all we thought this nation stood for, and they are seemingly intent on destroying the U.S. Constitution within four years. The desire to confront and denigrate them is one we can all relate to.  BUT … in this case, the old saying ‘fight fire with fire’ is wrong and is going to cost the nation if this insanity continues.  Sure, it may be fun to yell at Kellyanne Conway, telling her she should ‘be ashamed’, but what does it gain, really?

First, there was the owner of the Red Hen restaurant who asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her family to leave.  A week ago, a teacher interrupted her lunch at a restaurant to tell Scott Pruitt — eating with an aide a few feet away — that he should resign as head of the Environmental Protection Agency.  On at least two occasions, demonstrators have assembled outside the home of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.  Two weeks ago, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen walked out of a downtown Mexican restaurant after demonstrators followed her inside to rail against the administration for separating children from migrant parents. “Shame!” the protesters shouted while Nielsen remained in her seat, her head down as she typed messages on her smartphone.

Then last month, Congresswoman Maxine Waters issued the following plea:

“If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd, and you push back on them!”

Predictably, Trump shot back by calling her a low-IQ person, as he always does when he doesn’t know what else to say, and then claimed that she had called for harm to his supporters, which was not true, but when did Trump ever let a little thing like the truth get in his way?  Still, Ms. Waters was wrong and those who are taking her words literally and acting upon them are also wrong.  What is the difference, I ask you dear readers, between what Ms. Waters said and the times Trump has said similar things at his rallies?  There is no difference and two wrongs do not make a right.

We are playing right into the hands of the Trump administration and the GOP.  Newt Gingrich was buoyed by the very public protests, saying, “They should take solace in the fact that we must be winning, since these people are so crazy. They used to be passive because they thought they were the future. Now they know we’re the future, and it’s driving them nuts.”

The November mid-terms hold enough challenges for democrats as it is.  There are gerrymandered districts, designed to concentrate the minority vote into only a few districts.  There are challenges such as states trying to pass stricter and more restrictive voter ID requirements.  Polling places are being reduced and the hours cut back, especially in areas where there is a concentration of poor or minority voters.  At least one state has passed a law making it legal to remove voters from the rolls if they have not voted for the last two years.  And then there is the anticipated interference by Russia, which has been verified by officials throughout the security community, but little appears to be being done to stop it.  With all these challenges, we do not need to act like 10-year-old children and tarnish our image, for you know that the COP will pounce on any opportunity to highlight our mistakes.

We all have a voice and we should use it.  Write OpEds, write a blog, reach out to the opposition, help your local party canvass the neighborhood, and most important of all, use your voice to VOTE on November 6th.  Use your voice wisely, for if you don’t, we may all stand to lose our voices.

I have no respect or tolerance for the likes of Conway, Sanders, Miller, Nielsen or any of the other sycophants who slavishly follow Trump.  BUT … I believe that no matter how obnoxious they are, they are entitled to a personal life without being provoked and harassed because of their job. The vast majority of Trump’s more well-known staff and cabinet members do not deserve the positions they hold.  They do not deserve their hefty salaries that are paid from our tax dollars.  However they also do not deserve public harassment and their families should always, always be off-limits.  Democrat or republican should not matter … we are human beings and adults, let’s try to act like it?

Is The Mueller Investigation In Danger?

The investigation by Robert Mueller began by Trump’s own hand.  When, on 09 May 2017, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, he set the wheels in motion for the appointment of a Special Counsel, for the firing looked suspicious from the beginning.  According to Comey, Trump had asked Comey to pledge his loyalty to Trump, and had also requested that Comey drop the investigation into Michael Flynn’s activities as related to the Russian interference in our 2016 presidential election.  Comey refused on both counts. So, Trump instigated, unknowingly and unwittingly, the appointment of Robert Mueller.

Robert Mueller has conducted his investigation in the most professional manner, selecting his team members carefully to ward off any question of impropriety, and even relieving one of duty when he allegedly sent text messages to his girlfriend that were critical of Trump.  There has not been so much as a breath of scandal from any of his team, no leaks, nothing inappropriate.  He has operated, as he must, under a cloak of silence.  However, when Michael Flynn pleaded guilty as charged, and others were either indicted or pled guilty, including George Papadopoulos, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, it became impossible to keep everything under wraps, and it was obvious that Mike Flynn was willingly cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.

All of this sent panic throughout Team Trump, and now we are seeing some pushback from Trump’s minions who are running scared and when they get scared, they turn to lies, insinuations, conspiracy theories and unjustified attacks, for they have no legitimate grounds to counter the reality that in all likelihood, Donald Trump himself was responsible for much of the Russian attempts to skew our election.

So, what is happening and why does it matter?

Critics, especially among the state-media such as Fox, Breitbart and the Wall Street Journal, (it should be noted that Fox and the Wall Street Journal are both owned by Rupert Murdoch, a large donor of Trump’s)  have been calling for Mueller to be fired almost since day #1, so it may be easy to just write off the latest as just more smoke and mirrors from Trump and his paid media outlets. But the tone and frequency has increased, as the panic level among Trump & Co. rises.  A few examples …

  • “Mueller is corrupt. The senior FBI is corrupt. The system is corrupt.” – Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House
  • “There is a cleansing needed at the FBI and Department of Justice. It needs to be cleansed of individuals who should not just be fired but need to be taken out in handcuffs.” – Fox host Jeanine Pirro
  • A conservative watchdog group has filed a lawsuit to pry loose information about special counsel investigators.
  • “A witch hunt continues against the president with tremendous bias, no purpose and no end in sight.” – Representative Matt Gaetz
  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders signaled that the White House has concerns that the special counsel might be biased against Trump.

It should be noted that these are vague attacks, with no basis in fact, not attacking anything that Mueller has done or failed to do, just that he must be corrupt if he is investigating Trump. Mueller’s investigation and the criminal charges he has brought so far appear solid and do not suggest any partisan bias. In fact, it should further be noted that both Robert Mueller and James Comey are registered republicans.

What could happen next?

Could Trump fire Mueller?  Of course … he could order Rod Rosenstein to fire Mueller, or if Rosenstein refused, he would be forced to resign just as were Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus when they refused to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox.  But, going down the line of succession, Trump would ultimately find someone willing to sacrifice values and fire Mueller, just as Solicitor General Robert Bork fired Cox.  So, the answer to the question is yes, Trump can have Mueller fired.  What happens if he does?

John Q. Barrett, a St. John’s University law professor, says “Robert Mueller is widely perceived as a competent and credible law enforcement official. As long as he doesn’t do something to jeopardize that, Trump would have no justification for dismissing him. And if he did, he’d have to appoint an equally credible replacement, or there would be really catastrophic political consequences.”

Comforting, but still, with both chambers of Congress in control of the republicans and seemingly willing to do Trump’s bidding these days, I would rather not put Barrett’s theory to the test.  I think the investigation has passed the point of no return and cannot be shut down, but it could certainly be delayed, and I think it is imperative that we know the truth, and the sooner the better.

Keep your eyes on the ball, folks, for I cannot predict where this will go.  Ordinarily, I would say that a president would be a damn fool to fire the Special Counsel at this point, for it would be a blatant admission of guilt.  But these are, as we all know, not normal times and Trump is not a normal ‘president’.  When he panics, he is irrational … wait, he is irrational at all times!  So, if he feels threatened enough, I do not know what he might do.  Remember that there are many distractions and smokescreens out there, so don’t be distracted, and try to keep up with the critical issues.

Note to readers:  I initially identified three areas that I felt had to be addressed post haste, the Alabama senate election, the tax reform bill reconciliation, and the attacks on the Mueller investigation.  I have since been advised by at least three readers, and granddaughter Miss Goose, that I need to include a fourth topic, Net Neutrality, to the list.  You are all correct, and I shall address that one tomorrow.  For tonight, Filosofa is 10-7, over and out.

First Actual Press Briefing …



Yesterday (Monday), White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer held the first actual press briefing of the Trump regime.  Last Saturday, what was supposed to be a press briefing, after keeping reporters waiting for a full hour past the scheduled start time, devolved into a stage for Spicer to berate the press for their reports of low turnout at the inauguration.  Then Spicer turned tail and ran, taking not one single question from members of the press.  Today’s was an obvious attempt to reset relations with the press after Saturday’s debacle and establish a more conventional style.

I start with a few of the more eye-roll moments:

  • “I think sometimes we can disagree with the facts … But our intention is never to lie to you.”
  • On Trump & climate: “… going to meet w/team, decide which policies best for environment but not to detriment of jobs/growth. a balance”. (This is not an either/or situation.  Under President Obama, both were consistently addressed … can Trump do only one thing at a time?  Can we get President Obama back?) 
  • Asked about the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, he says he does not “want to get in front of the president’s executive actions”, but he says the president wants to “maximise our use of natural resources”.  (Destroy the land, water and wildlife, he means)

And my personal favourite:

Q: What is the unemployment rate?

Spicer: There are several version of that

Q: Trump at one point said it was 42%

Spicer: Too often in Washington we get our heads wrapped around a number, a statistic. For too long it’s been about what number are we looking at rather than what face are we looking at.

Newspeak or alternative truth? In reality, the unemployment rate is 4.7% as of the end of December, and has not been 42% at any point during President Obama’s tenure – the highest was 9.9% in January 2009, the month President Obama took office in the midst of a recession. Indeed, let us not be troubled with those pesky statistics and facts … after all, we now have ‘alternative facts’!

Most questions received vague non-answers, and frankly after reading most of it, I did not learn anything I didn’t already either know or surmise.  Spicer was obviously trying to “play nice”, and when he entered the room, he smiled and said “Good afternoon”.  Nonetheless, he did not seem comfortable.  He started the briefing by reading from notes on the podium and rarely even looked up from his notes, reminding me of a 3rd grade child reading a report aloud to the class. His attempts at jokes fell flat, and he did not appear to even attempt to begin establishing the rapport he is going to need.

Here are links to the video of the press briefing (note that Spicer does not enter until 20:09, so I have set the link to begin the video at that point, as the first 20 minutes are nothing but people milling around, mumbling.) and the Washington Post annotated transcript.

gingrichIn other, related news Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, appearing tonight on Fox News’ The First 100 Days, said that today’s briefing is just more evidence that members of the “elite media” are not going to treat President Donald Trump or his administration fairly.  (Can we say “awwwwwwwww”?) What the Sam Heck … are the press supposed to treat him with kid gloves and bring him lollipops? “The reason I’d like to see them dramatically overhaul the entire operation of the White House and the press corps [is] you have this small, incestuous group of people.”  Incestuous???  Did he say ‘incestuous’?  “The press corps is so focused on their own belly buttons that it’s very hard for them to deal with what the country cares about and get to the big issues.”

radarGingrich seems to be determined to occupy my radar tonight.  Now he predicts that Trump will be re-elected in 2020 (if the majority of voters have their say, he won’t even be on the ballot, as he will have already have been impeached and replaced) if he does just two things.

“Ultimately this is about governing. There are two things he’s got to do between now and 2020: He has to keep America safe and create a lot of jobs. That’s what he promised in his speech. If he does those two things, everything else is noise. The average American isn’t paying attention to this stuff. They are going to look around in late 2019 and early 2020 and ask themselves if they are doing better. If the answer’s yes, they are going to say, ‘Cool, give me some more.’”  

Grrrrrr …. Now Filosofa is beyond ANGRY!!!  He apparently thinks we are all too stupid to worry our silly little heads about things like civil rights, foreign policy, environmental issues, and the like. He apparently thinks we are all so self-centered that all we care about is our own well-being!  I plan to write to Mr. Gingrich and let him know exactly what I think.  If anyone else wishes to, his mailing address is P.O. Box 550769, Atlanta, Georgia 30355.  He also has a Facebook page.  I have not been able to find a current email address for him, as he is no longer a federal employee. Yes, I realize it is a futile move and a waste of precious time, but this attitude is exactly why the lemmings are blindly playing ‘follow the leader’ and it is a slap in the face to those of us who are relatively intelligent, well-educated thinkers.

Well, it is time for me to step down from my soapbox tonight, but stay tuned later today, as I am working on more … the radar screen is filling up and I cannot keep up!

Jeff Sessions and Others of the Trump Team

In 1981, a Justice Department prosecutor from Washington stopped by to see Jeff Sessions, the United States attorney in Mobile, Ala., at the time. The prosecutor, J. Gerald Hebert, said he had heard a shocking story: A federal judge had called a prominent white lawyer “a disgrace to his race” for representing black clients.

“Well,” Mr. Sessions replied, according to Mr. Hebert, “maybe he is.”

Mr. Sessions has referred to the American Civil Liberties Union and the N.A.A.C.P. as “un-American” for “trying to force civil rights down the throats of people.” – Matt Apuzzo, New York Times, 16 November 2016

This is the man who is being considered by Trump for the position of either Attorney General or Secretary of Defense under the Trump administration.  He will fit right in with Mike Pence (anti-LGBT), and Steve Bannon (anti-Muslim, anti-LGBT).  It would seem that Trump intends to make his team of advisors as ‘anti-everything’ as possible.  Perhaps his administration will come to be known as the Anti.

In 1986, President Reagan was considering appointing Mr. Sessions to a federal court judgeship, but Sessions nomination was not confirmed in light of his racist remarks.  In 1996, he was elected U.S. Senator from Alabama, a position he still holds today. So now, he is being considered for one of two important, highly sensitive positions. As attorney general, Mr. Sessions would be responsible for upholding civil rights laws. As secretary of defense, he would oversee one of the most ethnically diverse institutions in the country; 25 percent of the military is African-American, Asian or Hispanic.

Sessions has been an opponent of same-sex marriage and has earned a zero rating from the Human Rights Campaign, the United States’ largest LGBT advocacy group.

This is not, I am pretty sure, what Americans voted for last week.  Or rather, it IS what America voted for, but I think those who voted for Trump, by and large, did not realize that this was what they were voting for.  Many, many of us tried to tell them, tried to explain, but they were deaf and blind.  Now the deed is done, we will be forced to live with this culture for four years, and then we will be left trying to pick up the pieces and put our country back together again.


cabinetYesterday, one of my posts included this picture of some of the people being considered for a cabinet or other advisory position in the Trump realm.  A reader from North Wales asked if I would identify each, so I will attempt to do so now.

Left to right, top row:  Michael McCaul (Congressman from Texas), Jeff Sessions (see above), Sheriff Joe Arpaio, David Clarke (Milwaukee Country Sheriff)

Left to right, second row down:  Newt Gingrich  , Rudy Giuliani , Bob Corker (senator from Tennessee), John Bolton (former U.N. Ambassador)

Bottom row:  Sarah Palin  , Jan Brewer (former Arizona governor), Mary Fallin (governor of Oklahoma), Harold Hamm (CEO Continental Resources)

I have included links to some of my previous posts, so you can read more about them.  It should be noted that several have already come onto my radar, none in a good way!  In fact three have already been given Filosofa’s Idiot of the Week award!  I wonder if Trump is using my blog to find eligible candidates for his team???  To see who else may be on his ‘short list’, check out this article in The Washington Post.