A Bit Of This And A Tad Of That

Thirty-six hours left until we once again have a president, a vice-president, and sanity in the White House.  Just 36 hours until we kick the imposter who has been illegitimately occupying our White House, using our money to buy food, to travel all ’round the globe, and to line his own pockets, while destroying this nation with his ignorance and cruelty.  Still … 36 hours … he could still do a lot of damage.  It is said he plans to issue some 100+ pardons today, and I still don’t trust him any farther than I can throw a feather.  But soon, my friends, we will be shed of him … hopefully forever.  My angst level is at an all-time high tonight, even knowing that 36 hours, only 2,160 minutes, and the source of much of my angst will head to Florida where hopefully he will be eaten by a shark!  The angst I feel I know is shared by  many of you, so feel free to add your own bit of snark here!


Domestic terrorists – some you wouldn’t expect

An Olympic gold medalist in swimming, Klete Keller, was one of those arrested for the January 6th terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol.  His friends and former teammates noticed his picture in the footage of the attack and reported him to the FBI.  After being arrested, Keller spoke with his former coach and according to the coach …

“He kept repeating, ‘You’ve done so much for me, and I let you down.’ He kept saying over and over, ‘I didn’t mean for any of this to happen.’”

Then WHY THE SAM HELL did he go there in the first place?  Every single person who was involved in that mob in any way, shape, or form, was there in an attempt to destroy the government, the Capitol, and some even intended to kill our elected legislators.  No, he isn’t to be pitied, for he is a terrorist, a fool, he is the enemy and I hope they lock his ass up for at least a decade.

Among other terrorists who perpetrated the attack on our government on January 6th were a number of law enforcement officials – people whose salary is paid by We the People, people who are hired for the sole purpose of protecting the people of this nation!  I demand they return the last decade’s worth of their salary, for we damn sure lost out there!  Among them are a New Hampshire police chief, a Philadelphia detective, and two Seattle Police Department officers.  These people wanted to kill those members of Congress who we elected.  They hoped to overthrow the government, overthrow the November elections, and install Donald Trump as a dictator.  And to think … we pay them to stab us in the back!

Also represented on January 6th were that group that call themselves the “Proud Boys”, though from their pictures and behaviour, I would say they’ve got nothing to be ‘proud’ of … they look like what they are … a bunch of bigoted, redneck, jobless, slobs with beer bellies, scruffy faces, and guns.  Lots of big guns.  Turns out they have gotten some portion of their funding for such events as the storming of the Capitol from a so-called ‘Christian’ fund-raising site.  In fact, when Proud Boys leader, Enrique Tarrio, was arrested in Washington on January 4th, he was given more than $113,000 from 2,359 donors on this ‘Christian’ website to help with his bail and legal fees.

I hope that ultimately, every single person who entered the Capitol is arrested and imprisoned for a very long time, for these are not simply protestors, they are domestic terrorists … every one of them … and need to be treated accordingly.  No bail, no plea deals … just orange jumpsuits and prison bars (no, not the kind that serve Canadian Mist).


In other news …

Donald Trump is throwing himself a going away party at Andrews Air Force Base on Wednesday morning.  Attendance is by invitation only and the event starts at 8:00 a.m.  He is planning an ostentatious military parade and an official armed forces farewell as the commander-in-chief, as well as a large crowd of supporters, selected backers and current and former officials in his administration and their guests at a huge red-carpet affair. On our tax dollar. However, senior Pentagon officials say that it ain’t gonna happen like he wants.  Awwww … pobre Donnie.

My immediate concern is … this ‘event’ is to be held just a few miles from the Capitol Building where four hours later Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will take their oaths of office to become the president and vice president.  Remember January 6th, where Trump used a speech to rile the masses, to incite violence, to urge them to ‘fight’?  Is a repeat performance part of the plan for his ridiculous ‘ceremony’?  It is said that attendance is by invitation only … who is he inviting?  White supremacist groups like the Proud Boys and others?

Any other president who had just been impeached for the second time, would be tucking his tail between his legs and slinking out of town with as little fanfare as possible, but not Trump.  Nope, he has to leave with a big bang … I’m just concerned that the big bang might happen four hours later and a few miles distant.  Federal security officials should shut his event down … throw him on the plane bodily if necessary (it will take a few of them to lift his 330 pound girth) and send him on his way!  Good riddance to bad rubbish!


And speaking of spreading conspiracy …

Remember how Parler, the website frequented by Trump-fanatic, right-wing domestic terrorists, was virtually dead in the water after being dropped by Amazon, Apple, and Google?  Well … they’re baaaaaaack.  And guess who helped them make a comeback, just in time for the inauguration?  DDos-Guard (no, I didn’t stutter), a Russian-owned technology company.  Put that one in your skillet and let it simmer for a while.


Since this post is mainly a rant, I’ll leave you with a bit of humour … dark humour, as it were, but humour nonetheless …

pol-toon-1pol-toon-2pol-toon-3

Something To Ponder …

Our nation has become a frightening place in the last two weeks since domestic terrorists stormed the Capitol on January 6th with the intention, it is now known, of doing bodily harm or even killing some of our elected officials such as Nancy Pelosi and Mike Pence.  And now, only five short days from the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, we know that the terrorists have even more mayhem planned for the days before, during, and after the inauguration. 

While I am not an alarmist, this situation has me frightened for the lives of Biden, Harris, and members of Congress, but also for the continuity of our government, for the future of this nation.  Law enforcement dropped the ball last Wednesday and I cannot help but wonder if they will be able to keep our lawmakers and our new President and Vice President safe next week.

Ryan Cooper, writing for The Week, has written a well-researched column outlining some of the threats and possible solutions, both immediate and long-term.  It is well worth spending a few minutes to read …


Do Democrats realize the danger they are in?

ryan-cooperRyan Cooper

Democrats, already rattled by nearly falling into the hands of a violent mob during the attempted putsch at the Capitol on January 6, are facing the possibility of worse happening soon. Democratic members of Congress were briefed on three different additional conspiracies to overthrow the government on Monday, and at least one member has faced harassment by Trump loyalists out in the wild.

One has to wonder: Are Democratic leaders able to face how much danger they and their party are really in, or what it might take to preserve their lives?

As I’ve written previously, the fascist mob was within yards of seizing members of Congress on several occasions during the January 6 putsch. If the guns, pipe bombs, flex cuffs, and literal gallows they carried are any indication, many members would have been hurt or murdered by the putschists — as they did murder one Capitol Police officer, as well as seriously injuring some 15 others. Now the extreme right is plotting new conspiracies to overturn democracy during the Biden inauguration, including by assassinating Democratic members of Congress or President-elect Biden, according to the new leadership of the Capitol Police. One plot “would involve insurrectionists forming a perimeter around the Capitol, the White House and the Supreme Court, and then blocking Democrats from entering the Capitol ― perhaps even killing them ― so that Republicans could take control of the government,” writes Matt Fuller at HuffPost. One Chicago man has already been arrested for allegedly threatening violence against President-elect Biden.

What’s more, law enforcement agencies are clearly less than trustworthy. There were many off-duty cops and members of the military involved with the putsch, and already several Capitol Police officers have been suspended for fraternizing with the putschists. Meanwhile, a Secret Service agent is under investigation for unhinged social media posts accusing Democrats of treason and stealing the election. For every member of law enforcement dumb enough to get caught doing that, it’s probably safe to assume there are several more with similar views but who keep such thoughts to themselves.

Even if we think it is comparatively unlikely that the vast security apparatus will fail to protect the new president at least, there is still a major danger to the Democratic rank-and-file. Backbenchers get no Secret Service protection, and a pack of Trump supporters — who have been constantly whipped into a frenzy with inflammatory lies from half the Republican Party elite — were reportedly on the verge of violently attacking Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) at Dulles International Airport before security intervened (though Correa says those same security officers failed to even take down the names of his assailants).

What is most urgently needed right now is for elected Republicans and conservative media to tell their constituents the truth, and deescalate the situation — admitting that Biden won the election fair and square, and telling conservatives to go home and try to win the next election instead of threatening violence. This would be far too little, far too late, but it might avoid major bloodshed. Unfortunately, it is also exceedingly unlikely given that President Trump has gone back to doubling down on his rhetoric that incited the mob in the first place, and many Republicans are now whining about impeachment and the lack of unity they themselves created, so more unilateral options are needed.

Luckily, there are a great many legal and regulatory actions Biden and the incoming Democratic Congress could do to crush right-wing extremism. For instance, the far right runs on a flood tide of oligarch money — the app Parler, on which much of the putsch was organized, was funded by the notorious ultra-wealthy Mercer family — which could be taxed and regulated. As Alex Pareene suggests at The New Republic, “Rigorous audits and reclassification of 501 nonprofits would do more to disrupt right-wing organizing than any new domestic terror law as interpreted and enforced by our current security state.”

Perhaps most effective immediate step would be squelching the spread of extremist propaganda, which genuinely appears to be driving much of the nutcase behavior we see around the country. Look into the history of the putschists, and in virtually every case one finds someone who melted his or her brain watching conservative YouTube, or people who are themselves conservative media personalities. I have argued that rolling back Section 230 (which protects internet companies like Facebook from being held legally liable for the material that is posted on their sites) would expose the social media behemoths to titanic legal liability, and force them to remove all extremist content — probably causing them to shrink drastically in the process, which would be its own benefit.

Finally, Democrats could conduct a purge of all the right-wing extremists in law enforcement and the security apparatus. Rather than passing a new domestic terrorism law, they could excise the fascist sympathizers from the FBI, Secret Service, NSA, and so forth, and use existing legal authorities to smash far-right political structures. The Capitol putsch was already a massive crime spree, all is needed is to enforce the laws that are already on the books.

On the other hand, it is worth noting how the space of possibility shrinks if anti-democratic extremism is allowed to metastasize. Eventually, meeting force with force becomes the only option available. This was the case by 1860, just after the Republican Party had been formed to combat slavery, when a small group of men calling themselves the “Wide-Awakes” took to protecting a Republican campaign in Connecticut. Soon there were copycat organizations springing up across the North, and the Wide-Awakes became a sort of paramilitary wing of the Lincoln campaign — serving as security for Republican events, conducting big marches through towns and cities, and recruiting thousands of young people to the anti-slavery cause. (As historian Matt Karp argues in a big article for Catalyst magazine, the Wide-Awakes were just part of a massive organizing campaign that united the Northern working class under the Republican anti-slavery banner.)

Few historians believe that the Civil War could have been avoided without splitting the U.S. in half. But today, untrammeled violent conflict could still be avoided — if the Democrats are willing to mobilize the vast powers of the American state to protect democracy and freedom from the fascist threat. It seems like a long shot, but let’s hope that being in literal physical peril motivates them to get over their usual timidity.

And In Other News — There’s A Pandemic!

In light of the storming of the Capitol by white supremacist terrorists one week ago today, much of the rest of the news has fallen by the wayside, not even seen by many.  For instance, on Saturday an Indonesian jetliner, a Boeing 737, crashed into the Java Sea shortly after takeoff on Saturday with 62 people aboard, all presumed dead.  Typically, this would have been headline news for several days, but in the U.S., it was barely a blip. 

One of the things that has dominated the news for nearly a year now is the coronavirus pandemic, yet for the past week it has received far less attention than the Capitol attack and Donald Trump’s role in it. Yesterday the U.S. recorded 4,281 deaths for the 24-hour period, yet we barely batted an eye.  This morning’s email contained my usual daily briefing by David Leonhardt of the New York Times with an update on the pandemic that I thought well worth sharing.


‘A game changer’

david-leonhardtLast week’s attack on the Capitol has understandably dominated the news. But I want to take a few minutes this morning to focus on the other vital story right now — the pandemic.

Below is a three-point summary of where we are now, with help from my colleagues covering the story and from a couple of charts. I’ll warn you up front: The situation is not good.

  1. The new variants are scary. Scientists are still learning about new versions of the coronavirus, including variants that emerged in Britain, South Africa and Brazil. The evidence so far indicates that they “are much more infectious than the Italian strain, which has been circulating here since February,” my colleague Donald G. McNeil Jr. told me. “That’s a game changer.”

Behavior that may once have been only moderately risky — say, airplane travel — may now be more so. The variants seem to be one reason cases worldwide are spiking:

pandemic-chart-1

  1. The mass vaccination campaign in the U.S. is off to a terrible start. The Trump administration promised that 20 million Americans would be vaccinated by Jan. 1. Instead, fewer than three million were — and only about nine million have now had their shots.

The Deep South has the country’s lowest vaccination rates. But this isn’t just a Republican failure: California, Virginia and some other Democratic-run states have also been slow. (Here’s data for every state.)

Vaccinations will probably accelerate in coming weeks, especially because President-elect Joe Biden and his team seem much more focused on the problem than President Trump. Goldman Sachs forecasts that about one quarter of Americans will have received their first shot by April 1, half by June 1 and three quarters by mid-autumn. The coming vaccination speedup is the one good piece of good news right now.

  1. Things are likely to get worse before they get better. The virus is spreading so rapidly that hospitals are struggling to keep up. About 130,000 Americans are hospitalized with Covid symptoms, more than double the number two months ago. The strain on hospitals raises the possibility that many patients will not receive the best available treatments.

Los Angeles has recently had to ration oxygen. And Esteban Trejo, an executive at a company in El Paso, Texas, that provides oxygen to temporary hospitals, told Kaiser Health News, “It’s been nuts, absolutely nuts.”

The recent data on cases and deaths is noisy, because diagnoses artificially slowed during the holidays, says Mitch Smith, a Times reporter who follows the numbers. Still, deaths have already hit a record this week — more than 3,000 a day, on average — and the recent explosion of cases suggests they may be heading to above 3,500 and perhaps to 4,000.

pandemic-chart-2

The bottom line: Biden will be taking office next week during the nadir of the coronavirus crisis. His administration will need to both accelerate vaccine distribution and persuade more people to change their behavior — and the second goal is even more urgent than the first.

Unless Americans start wearing masks more often and spending less time together in cramped spaces, many more people are going to die.

MOVING ON.

Sometimes we see other people’s problems more clearly than they are able to see them. About half of my readers are from outside the U.S. and it’s always interesting to get their perspective on what is happening here in the U.S. My special friend David, sickened by the events of last Wednesday at the Capitol in D.C., has written his take on our current situation, and in my book he is spot on. Thank you, David, both for this post and your (implied) permission to share!

The BUTHIDARS

It’s been just a week since one of the most sickening events in American History, some say since my lot were over there kicking ass before having our collective asses kicked. Whenever it was, and whatever it was are irrelevant as nothing in recent history compares to this. It was a definite attempt at a coup and there’s no denying that had the insurrectionists managed to get their filthy hands on certain people like Nancy Pelosi or Mike Pence there may well have been executions.

Mike Pence - Wikipedia

Whilst I don’t care for Mike Pence I think it ridiculous that he’s being targeted by Trumpites for letting Trump down. Firstly he obeyed the vow he’d made to the country-not to Trump- and secondly he did not have the power to do as he was asked anyway. What does leave me with a sour taste in my mouth and the obvious question, is why…

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A Few Thoughts About Yesterday …

Well, my friends, it’s been quite a 24 hours, hasn’t it?  Y’know … I’ve heard many people in the past day say, “This is not who we are”.  Often in the past four years, I’ve said it myself.  But today, as I attempt to take in all the news, attempt to figure out who I hate more, Donald Trump, those who have enabled him for the past four years, or those who did his bidding yesterday, I came to a conclusion:  Yes, this is who we are, or at least this is who a good portion of this country are.  It’s not who I am, and if you’re reading this blog, it’s not who you are, but … it’s obvious that there are many out there for whom yes, this is exactly who they are.

And following that realization, I ask myself, can “we” and “they” find a pathway to mutual respect, can we find a way to live side-by-side in this nation in peace and harmony ever again?  It is too soon for me to answer this question, for I’m still far too angry to step back and assess it with a cool head, but it’s a question to ponder for another day, and one that I think we will need to try to answer sooner rather than later.

Yesterday’s chaos didn’t only affect the United States and those of us who live here, but was heard and felt around the globe.  How could it not be?  We are, whether some choose to believe it or not, all interconnected, we rely on each other in this global era.  What happens here has ramifications far and wide.  Here are some of the reactions from around the globe …

“The scenes from the Capitol are utterly horrifying. Solidarity with those in 🇺🇸 on the side of democracy and the peaceful and constitutional transfer of power. Shame on those who have incited this attack on democracy.” – Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland

“The United States stands for democracy around the world and it is now vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power.” – Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

“Trump and his supporters should finally accept the decision of the American voters and stop trampling on democracy. From inflammatory words come violent deeds. Contempt for democratic institutions has disastrous effects.” – German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas

“In this sad episode in the U.S., supporters of fascism showed their real face: anti-democratic and aggressive. American society and institutions react with vigor to this threat to democracy.” – Luis Roberto Barroso, Brazilian Supreme Court justice and the head of the country’s electoral court

“Canadians are deeply disturbed and saddened by the attack on democracy in the United States, our closest ally and neighbour. Violence will never succeed in overruling the will of the people. Democracy in the US must be upheld – and it will be.” – Justin Trudeau, Canadian Prime Minister

“Closely following what is happening in Washington DC. These images are shocking, also because they hurt our democratic ideals. They show the extent of President-elect Biden’s task, which will be to unite American society around a common project. We trust him to do that.” – Sophie Wilmès, Belgian Prime Minister

“Like so many others, I’ve been watching what’s happening in the United States. I share the sentiment of friends in the US – what is happening is wrong. Democracy – the right of people to exercise a vote, have their voice heard and then have that decision upheld peacefully should never be undone by a mob. Our thoughts are with everyone who is as devastated as we are by the events of today. I have no doubt democracy will prevail.” –  Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand

And from our own, former President George W. Bush …

george-w-bush“I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions, and our law enforcement.  This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic – not our democratic republic.”

And from the incoming President-elect, Joe Biden …

Featured Image -- 66441“Let me be very clear: The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect the true America. This is not who we are. What we are seeing is a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness. This is not dissent. It is disorder. It is chaos. It borders on sedition. And it must end. Now.

You’ve heard me say this in different contexts: the words of a President matter, no matter how good or bad that president is. At their best, the words of a president can inspire. At their worst, they can incite. To storm the Capitol, to smash windows, to occupy offices, and to threaten the safety of duly elected officials is not protest. It is insurrection.

The world is watching — and like so many other Americans, I am shocked and saddened that our nation, so long a beacon of light, hope, and democracy has come to such a dark moment.”

It is past time for Donald Trump to be removed from office, and I’m not sure this nation can afford to wait another 13 days until Joe Biden takes the Oath of Office.  But then again, might his removal by the 25th Amendment set off fresh attacks like the one we saw today … or worse?  Barring his removal, I think that at the very least, Mike Pence, Congress, cabinet members, and perhaps even the Supreme Court must find a way to tie his hands (and mouth) until January 20th.  This ‘man’ has no business having his finger on either his Twitting machine or the nuclear codes.  Think about it.

REBIRTH OF A NATION?

Like it or not, the U.S. has a place in the global community, and as such, what happens here affects our friends and neighbours all ’round the globe. Here is an assessment … a spot-on one, as it happens … from our friend David in the UK. Thank you David, for your thoughts on our disastrous day, your hopes for our future, and for caring.

The BUTHIDARS

Yesterday, January 6th 2021 will be a day long remembered in the history books. I saw something I never thought to witness outside of a Banana Republic. A Western Nation go to war with itself. There was armed insurrection in the Capital and the home of Democracy in America , The Capitol Building, was attacked by armed civilians carrying every type of weapon. These people had not gone to demand a more Democratic State, they had gone to destroy Democracy itself.

People were forewarned of such an event and it surprised me that there wasn’t a stronger defence of he building though it seems likely that there may have been some collusion between these insurrectionists and members of the current ruling party. The President who has made an almost single handed assault on Government during the last four years, and who has done little to earn his salary for the…

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CHAOS!!! TERRORISM!!! INSURRECTION!!!

By now, you all know of the chaos that has reigned all afternoon in the Capitol, halting the electoral certification process and causing turmoil throughout the nation.  Our friend Keith often reminds me that name-calling gets us nowhere, wins no arguments.  While I both respect and agree with him, today my fury, my rage, have taken over and I shamelessly call Donald Trump and every single person who voted for him in November stupid jackasses.

chaos-6The hordes, incited by none other than the Idiot-in-Chief, have vandalized the Capitol building, broken windows, shot at least one person, injured multiple police officers, and say they are planning to “occupy the Capitol through the night”.  Were it my decision, I’d instruct police to arrest every last one of them, and then go find Trump and arrest him, too.  Yes, my friends, I am angry … I am furious.

Meanwhile, Trump remains, as of this writing, largely silent, for this was his plan all along.  One of his aides, noting the frustration of his staff at his negligence, said …

“If we could throw him [Trump] to the angry mob, we’d throw him to the angry mob now.”

Trump has been urged by many to publicly order the mob to disperse … instead, he told them “We love you”WHAT THE SAM HELL????

chaos-2Every one of the people protesting in Washington today should be in jail.  Don’t ever again ask me not to say that people who voted for Trump are stupid, because they ARE.  They are stupid, they are evil, they are terrorists every bit as much as was Osama bin Laden!

I have a few questions about today, starting with WHERE THE HELL were the police?  The masses that descended on DC today were no surprise … we’ve heard Trump ‘inviting’ them, egging them on, for weeks now!  Even I was smart enough to know these terrorist bozos would show up with their guns, so where were the cops???  Second question is … what would have happened if this had been a Black Lives Matter protest rather than a pro-Trump protest?  Think long and hard about that one, my friends, and then try to convince me that this isn’t a racist, bigoted nation.

chaos-4President-elect Joe Biden, who WILL be inaugurated as President in two weeks, was more controlled than I am in his statement a bit ago …

“At this hour, our democracy’s under unprecedented assault. Unlike anything we’ve seen in modern times. An assault on the citadel of liberty, the Capitol itself. An assault on the people’s representatives and the Capitol Hill police, sworn to protect them. And the public servants who work at the heart of our Republic… Let me be very clear. The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect a true America. Do not represent who we are. What we’re seeing are a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness. This is not dissent. It’s disorder. It’s chaos. It borders on sedition. And it must end now.

Threatening the safety of elected officials, it’s no protest. It’s insurrection. The world’s watching. Like so many other Americans, I am shocked and saddened that our nation, so long the beacon of light and hope for democracy, has come to such a dark moment.”

This is how a president speaks, my friends.  This is the president I am looking forward to having in just under two weeks.  But meanwhile … the FBI, Homeland Security and every law enforcement agency must work day and night to ensure that the chaos, the tragedy of today is not repeated on January 20th as Joe Biden takes office!  If needs be, if possible, we need to invite NATO security forces to protect not only Biden, but every member of Congress and the Supreme Court, for Trump and his band of idiots have proven there is no low to which they won’t sink.

Snarky Snippets With A Twist

There is much I could find to write a scathing rant about today, but there is also some good news, so I thought just for once I’d try to focus on that.  Don’t expect this to become the new norm, though!


Score one for justice!

On March 16, 2016, President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.  Garland is politically moderate, and Obama’s hope was that he would not be found offensive to either side, particularly Republicans in the Senate led by Mitch McConnell.  His hopes were to be dashed, for McConnell was determined that President Obama would not be allowed to fill that seat.  Period.

Republicans themselves had spent years suggesting Garland as an acceptable Democratic choice for the Court, and it is said that Mitch McConnell and Merrick Garland were friends.  However, McConnell and other Senate Republicans refused to even so much as hold a hearing or vote on the nomination, claiming that with only eight months until the presidential election, the seat should remain open for the incoming president to fill.  Some even said that if Hillary Clinton were elected, the seat should remain open for four years … or forever!

It had nothing whatsoever to do with Merrick Garland’s qualifications, and everything to do with partisanship.  The Senate Republicans wanted only an ultra-conservative to fill that seat, not a liberal or even a moderate.  Why?  Their goal was to gain a conservative majority in the Court that would be willing to overturn two previous Supreme Court decisions if the opportunity arose:  Roe v Wade, and Obergefell v Hodges.

Well, today it is Merrick Garland who will have the last laugh, for President-elect Joe Biden, who will take the Oath of Office in just two weeks from today, has announced his intention to nominate Merrick Garland as United States Attorney General!  From what little I know of Garland, I think he will be a fine Attorney General, and I’m admittedly not above being thrilled to know that Mitch McConnell and his uber-conservative cronies must be pulling their hair out … or will be once today’s circus in Congress has finished.


Score two for justice!

And in other positive news, the Georgia runoff elections for Georgia’s two seats in the U.S. Senate was yesterday.  While the count is only about 98% complete as of this writing, Raphael Warnock, the democratic candidate, has been declared the winner over Kelly Loeffler, although by a narrow margin of 1.2%.

The other race, being even closer, has not yet been called as of this writing, but Democrat Jon Ossoff is leading over David Perdue by about .4%, or 17,567 votes.  I fail to understand how so many people in Georgia could vote for Loeffler and Perdue, both of whom have allegations of insider trading and other criminal conduct in their past.  However, a narrow win is better than no win.  For the sake of my own health, I have stayed largely off of Twitter today, so haven’t seen any of Trump’s tweets, but I’m sure he is crying “Foul” as loudly and ignorantly as usual.  However, his voice is becoming less and less relevant, even to many Republicans.


Tidbits

Rumour had it that Trump was planning to head for his golf course in Scotland on the 19th, the day before Joe Biden will be sworn in as President of the United States.  However, Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says that Trump will not be allowed into Scotland, for the country is in strict lockdown and nobody is allowed to enter, including Trump!  Guess he’ll just have to settle for Mar-a-Lago for a while.

We all need a chuckle today.  You’ll love this parody of Trump’s felonious phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger last Saturday, put to the Stevie Wonder song, I Just Called to Say I Love You

Stop This Madness!!!

Donald Trump is playing games with the lives of the people in this nation.  He is like a child who will destroy anything in sight if he does not get his way, but instead of the stakes being some toys or even a few broken dishes, the stakes are human lives.  We the People are being treated as pawns on a chessboard to be toyed with on a whim.

Finally, after months of back-and-forth, Congress managed to come together to produce a spending bill to fund the government until October 2021.  That bill also contains a nearly $892 billion stimulus bill to help the people of this nation survive the economic consequences of the pandemic that is and has been far more devastating than it would have been, had Trump acted with conscience at the beginning of the year.  Or at any time during the year.  The bill also extends the moratorium on evictions, extends supplemental unemployment, and much more to help people and small businesses survive.  It passed both chambers of Congress with a veto-proof majority.  Trump has neither signed nor vetoed it.

President-elect Joe Biden issued a statement yesterday …

Statement by President-elect Joe Biden on the Need to Sign the COVID-19 Economic Relief Bill

It is the day after Christmas, and millions of families don’t know if they’ll be able to make ends meet because of President Donald Trump’s refusal to sign an economic relief bill approved by Congress with an overwhelming and bipartisan majority.

This abdication of responsibility has devastating consequences. Today, about 10 million Americans will lose unemployment insurance benefits. In just a few days, government funding will expire, putting vital services and paychecks for military personnel at risk. In less than a week, a moratorium on evictions expires, putting millions at risk of being forced from their homes over the holidays. Delay means more small businesses won’t survive this dark winter because they lack access to the lifeline they need, and Americans face further delays in getting the direct payments they deserve as quickly as possible to help deal with the economic devastation caused by COVID-19. And while there is hope with the vaccines, we need funding to be able to distribute and administer them to millions of Americans, including frontline health care workers.

This bill is critical. It needs to be signed into law now. But it is also a first step and down payment on more action that we’ll need to take early in the new year to revive the economy and contain the pandemic — including meeting the dire need for funding to distribute and administer the vaccine and to increase our testing capacity.

In November, the American people spoke clearly that now is a time for bipartisan action and compromise. I was heartened to see members of Congress heed that message, reach across the aisle, and work together. President Trump should join them, and make sure millions of Americans can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads in this holiday season.

Trump claims to want far larger coronavirus relief checks for individuals and major reductions to the foreign aid budget and other spending he has deemed wasteful, even though he was fully aware all along what the provisions of this bill would be.  His own Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, was the very one who demanded the payments to individuals would be only $600, despite Democrats arguing for $1,200.

If Trump vetoes the bill, Congress will need a 2/3 majority in both House and Senate to override the veto.  Based on the votes for the bill, that wouldn’t be a problem, but … at least a few Republicans, such as Lindsey Graham, who voted for the bill have now said they would not vote to override Trump’s veto!  Cowards!!!  Spineless jellyfish!  (My apologies to any jellyfish who might be reading this … that was an unintended insult to jellyfish) It is well past the time that the damned Republicans in Congress act like representatives of the people of this nation instead of Trump’s puppets!  It is past time Republicans put human life ahead of their own financial interests, most of them being far wealthier than any of us to begin with.

If Trump does nothing, as I am told he has been advised by the likes of Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, the clock will run out on January 4th, one day after the current 116th Congress expires.  Bills die if they are not enacted during the Congress in which they are introduced.

If either of these two scenarios transpire, the bill will be dead, and it would be left to the next Congress and President Biden to try to pull together an entirely new bill.  Meanwhile, people who lost their jobs during the pandemic will suffer as unemployment insurance for more than 14 million expired yesterday and the protection against being evicted will expire on December 31st.

Additionally, the U.S. government runs out of money at midnight Dec. 28. If this battle is not resolved by then, Congress must either pass its fourth stopgap funding bill since last September or federal agencies will not have money to fully operate beginning December 29th.  In that case, tens of thousands of government workers could be furloughed, and programs interrupted. If Congress does pass a temporary bill, Trump would have to approve it, or the shutdown begins.

What Trump is doing is pure, unadulterated evil. He has no right to the position of power that he is in, has no right, in fact, to call himself a human being.  I call on the Republicans in Congress to look around to see if they can find both their conscience and a pair of cojones and STOP THIS MADNESS!

The Choice Is Ours

The events of the past few weeks have caused me to step back, try to look at the bigger picture, try to see what’s happening here.  A friend from the UK recently said he did not know what had brought this country to this pass, but that it needs to end.  I think we can all agree that it needs to end, but … what did bring us to this pass?  How did we become such a divided nation filled with racism and hatred, intolerance and threats of resolving our differences through violence?

I do know that the racism we thought had largely ended in the 1960s with civil rights laws and integrated schools, buses, diners, etc., had merely gone into hiding.  There came a point where it became politically incorrect to express racist views, and those who dared do so were shunned.  The feelings of superiority by some whites, though, never actually went away, they just festered under the surface.  So, did we come to this pass by electing a Black man as president, not once but twice?  I’ve often thought that was the start of where we find ourselves today.  But that is a simplistic answer, and the election of President Barack Obama, while it certainly plays a role in our current situation, cannot be the entire answer.

Part of the answer, I think, comes from the uber-capitalism that has enabled some to become multi-billionaires, while others stay awake nights trying to figure out how to pay the rent and put food on the table.  In the U.S., with as many millionaires and billionaires as we have, there is no excuse for any child to go to bed hungry at night … but they do.  Single mothers work 2-3 jobs trying to make ends meet, and it’s a daily struggle, while others live in such luxury that they never have to do anything they don’t wish to do.

But what’s really puzzling is why some of those very people who struggle to manage to pay the bills are some of the most die-hard supporters of a regime that nearly worships wealth.  Trump & Co have made no secret of the fact that they have cut taxes on the wealthy, rolled back environmental and safety regulations in order to increase the profits of those already rolling in dough.  And yet, nearly half of the people in this nation – people who work hard to feed their families – still support Trump & Co.  WHY?

Why?  Because they are convinced by his rhetoric that he is their ‘president’, that the things he does are helping them.  Why are they convinced?  Because they are taken in by his fist shaking and his gutter-snipe verbosity.  They believe him when he says he has done more for Black people than any president except Abraham Lincoln.  They believe him when he promises the tax cuts were to help them, even though there is no proof in that pudding.  He has convinced them that immigrants are harmful to our society, to our economy.  They have not yet come to understand that any benefit they have gained from his policies is but a crumb compared to the benefit to the corporate giants.

People in this country want simple solutions to complex problems.  Income disparity, healthcare, education, immigration … Trump offers off-the-cuff solutions to these issues.  Take immigration, for example.  Simple solution:  impose a travel ban on people from Muslim countries and build a wall on the southern border to keep out the “rapists and murderers”.  But this completely ignores the fact that Muslims are not terrorists and Mexicans are not rapists nor murderers.  It also ignores the fact that immigrants add much of value to our country.  They bring new ideas and add cultural diversity.  To deny immigrants entry, to vilify all immigrants, is to spread racism and prejudice throughout the nation.  Those who would wish for a homogenous white, Christian, male-dominated society seek a nation that I would never choose to live in, one that would soon stagnate for lack of innovation, lack of diversity and interest.

The people of this nation are more divided today than at any other time … I would venture to say that the ideological differences in the Civil War era were not as far apart as we are today.  How did we get here?  Perhaps by being a nation of people with too much freedom, too many ‘rights’.  We have become a nation of greed, of “me first”, as evidenced by the refusal of some to wear a mask when in a public venue, claiming that mask mandates violate their civil rights.  Never mind that they are putting not only themselves, but their families, friends and co-workers at risk by exerting their ‘rights’.

Joe Biden has promised to be the president of the people – all the people, not only democrats, not only white Christians, but every man, woman, and child in the country.  He has promised to try to heal the wounds of divisiveness that have festered for the past decade, and especially the last four years.  I fully believe he will try to do exactly that, but his success depends on us … We the People must be willing to work together, to put aside petty and irrelevant differences.  Are we willing to do that?  I wish I could answer in the affirmative, but it’s rather like a loaf of moldy bread.  If there are just a few little spots of mold, you can cut them off and the bread is still good.  But, there comes a point where there is more mold than bread and you might just as well throw it out and buy a new loaf.

Unlike the moldy bread, we cannot simply throw out all the people of this nation and start over, so we have two choices:  we either learn the art of compromise, learn to embrace rather than eschew our cultural and ethnic diversity, learn to respect our fellow humans, else we will devolve into a nation of violence where it isn’t even safe to be on the streets.  We need to stop the petty bickering, need to accept that things won’t always go our way, need to learn to adapt to adversity.

It’s our choice what direction this country takes in the coming year, my friends.  Government can only do so much … the rest is up to us.  My New Year’s wish for us all is that we can build bridges instead of walls, offer friendship instead of hate, put away the guns and offer the proverbial carrot rather than the stick.  The choice is ours …