Every day in this country we see examples in the news of people who seem to be without values, lacking integrity, and we ask ourselves, “What is wrong with the people of this country???” Today, Larry asks that question in response to two truly jaw-dropping events in the past week. Are we becoming a nation of fools who have no values whatsoever? Thank you, Larry, for expressing what I think the majority of people are thinking … SIGH.
I wrote about Tuesday night’s debate yesterday afternoon, and I don’t want to seem to be beleaguering the topic, but there was something I missed … something crucial, I think. Due to having only about 10% of my hearing, I rely heavily on closed-captioning, but in live events such as the debates, the captioning is by necessity a few seconds behind and sometimes more. This is why I rarely watch such events. I thought I picked up on the key parts of the debate, but I missed the part where Trump said, “Proud boys, stand back and stand by.” This morning, it was quickly brought to my attention, and even republicans are condemning Trump for this blatantly racist call for potential violence.
I would like to share with you this morning, Nicholas Kristof’s take on the implications of Trump’s statement, as well as a couple other observations. Please take a few moments to read … I think this is very important.
Trump Calls on Extremists to ‘Stand By’
Instead of condemning violent groups, the president marshals them.
By Nicholas Kristof
President Trump didn’t hurt Joe Biden in Tuesday’s debate, but he badly damaged our country.
Trump harmed the United States in three ways, reminding us that the biggest threat to America comes not from desperate migrants, not from “socialists” seeking universal health care and not from “anarchists” in the streets — but from the White House itself.
The first way in which Trump damaged the country was in his salute to violent extremists.
“Are you willing tonight to condemn white supremacists?” Chris Wallace, the Fox News anchor who moderated the debate, asked Trump. Trump initially dodged the question but finally asked petulantly, “Who do you want me to condemn?”
Biden suggested the Proud Boys, a militant group that is fervently pro-Trump.
“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Trump declared.
The Proud Boys, founded in 2016, are part of what the Southern Poverty Law Center calls “a fascistic right-wing political bloc.” The Anti-Defamation League compares it to a gang. The Proud Boys’ founder once said, “I cannot recommend violence enough,” and its members have brandished guns, committed criminal assaults and engaged in rioting. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram have banned Proud Boys.
While the Proud Boys deny that they are white nationalists and the founder is suing the Southern Poverty Law Center for its descriptions of them, the group’s members identify as “Western chauvinist” and assert that “white men are not the problem.” They have longstanding links to racism, and a Proud Boy (since expelled) apparently was the organizer of the 2017 Charlottesville rally that drew neo-Nazis. An anti-Semitic podcast once estimated that if Proud Boys were pressed, “90 percent of them would tell you something along the lines of ‘Hitler was right. Gas the Jews.’”
The Proud Boys responded enthusiastically to Trump’s comments at Tuesday’s debate, celebrating them as “historic” and boasting that they were already bringing in new members.
“That’s my president,” declared the Proud Boys’ leader, Enrique Tarrio, adding, “Standing by, sir.” Some added “stand by” to the group’s logo.
After addressing the Proud Boys on Tuesday night, Trump added: “Somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left, because this is not a right-wing problem … this is a left-wing problem.”
Look, violence is a right-wing problem and a left-wing problem. A careful study by the Center for Strategic & International Studies concluded that “right-wing extremists perpetrated two-thirds of the attacks and plots in the United States in 2019.”
Biden quite properly has deplored leftist violence, but to me the biggest take away from the debate was that the president of the United States refused to condemn white supremacists and instead called on modern brownshirts to “stand by.” Under intense pressure on Wednesday, Trump claimed that he did not know who the Proud Boys were and urged them to “stand down”; disavowals of extremism never seem quite so sincere when they’re made only after public outrage.
The second way in which Trump damaged our country was by seeding further doubts about the election. He served as a mouthpiece for Russian-style propaganda about the illegitimacy of American democracy and laid the groundwork for postelection upheaval and violence. Here’s what Trump said:
“As far as the ballots are concerned, it’s a disaster …. This is going to be a fraud like you’ve never seen …. It’s a rigged election.”
I’ve seen postelection violence explode abroad like a volcanic eruption. In 2008 in Kenya, covering such violence, I met a man whose wife and children had been burned to death and a 16-year-old boy who had been tortured with a machete. A dazed woman arrived at the bus station with the head of her husband, decapitated by a mob; after a similar ordeal, a man showed up with his severed penis in a sock. All this had been unimaginable until an election dispute polarized society and unleashed enraged mobs on rival groups.
Americans should stand together to disavow Trump’s words and ensure we don’t ever go a step down that road.
Ominously, Trump said: “I’m urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully, because that’s what has to happen. I am urging them to do it.”
Trump refused to elaborate on what he meant. Was he calling on supporters to act as legal poll watchers? To disrupt voting? To engage in street violence? He was artfully ambiguous — but he managed both to undermine election integrity and increase the risk of mayhem.
That leads to the third way in which Trump wounded our nation: He made our country a laughingstock around the world. Trump claimed in 2016 that he would make Americans respected around the globe — but instead, we are pitied.
A Nigerian friend emailed me after the debate: “I regret to say that this is the most disgraceful public display by a leader of a developed country I have seen …. And this from the United States of Roosevelt, Kennedy, Reagan …? Good God. Sorry, Nick.”
If Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping and Al Qaeda worked together, I don’t know that they could damage the United States as deeply — unraveling our social fabric, destroying our norms, devastating our global image — as Trump has. And we still have two more presidential debates.
Roger Stone … he’s a nasty piece of work. He’s part of the reason we are in the mess we’re in today, with a president who thinks he’s king, with the wealthy calling the shots while the rest of us are lied to and our rights diminished on a daily basis. But let’s go back a little further …For many years in the 1980s and ‘90s, Stone was a lobbyist for Donald Trump on behalf of his casino businesses. Stone has been involved in so many scandals that I’ve lost count. Stone is also associated with Proud Boys, a far-right, fascist, white supremacist group. He has been affiliated with Alex Jones’ Infowars, Breitbart, and the conspiracy theory that claimed President Obama was born outside the U.S. Stone has linked his fortunes with so many nasties that it would take me the whole day to tell you about them all. But his most recent crimes landed him, finally, in very hot water.Roger Stone was largely responsible, along with Russian operators and Julian Assange, for hacking into Hillary Clinton’s emails during the 2016 election. On January 25, 2019 Stone was arrested on seven criminal charges in relation to Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election: one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of false statements, and one count of witness tampering.
On February 18, 2019, Stone posted on Instagram a photo of the federal judge overseeing his case, Amy Berman Jackson, with what resembled rifle scope crosshairs next to her head.After a week-long trial in November 2019, the jury convicted Stone on all counts. His sentencing hearing was originally scheduled for February 6th, but his attorneys requested a delay until sometime after March 9th. Stone’s attorneys have argued for no jail time, but only probation. Yesterday, prosecutors recommended a sentence of between 7 and 9 years. Immediately Donald Trump tweeted inanely …
“This is a horrible and very unfair situation. The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!”
And now I come to the part of this story that should horrify you.
The Department of Justice plans to reduce its sentencing recommendation. No word yet on whether they will recommend only probation, or perhaps a sentence of only a few months. But think about this one, folks. The man is a criminal, has been a criminal all his adult life, has been proven to have broken countless laws including lying to Congress and threatening a witness, and he is a large part of the reason that Donald Trump is sitting in the Oval Office today, though not through legitimate means. And yet, because Donald Trump threw a hissy fit, the Department of Justice, under Trump’s lackey William Barr, is going to actually override justice to please the “president”. In other words … we have no Department of Justice and Trump is now calling the shots.
Think about it … it can work in both ways. Say I’m arrested outside the White House for protesting something that Trump has done … if Trump told William Barr he wanted me put away for life, no amount of arguing by my attorneys would change the verdict. Is this what we’ve allowed to happen in this nation? Paul Manafort is serving a 7 ½ year sentence for his crimes … why should Stone get any less, for his crimes were every bit as serious as Manafort’s?
Justice. It’s a funny word, for it’s open to interpretation. There are grey areas, for sure. But, when the ‘man’ sitting in the Oval Office can literally override the courts, can decide what he wants and the Department of “Justice” will accede to his whims and wishes, then … there is no justice. If the court gives Roger Stone no more than a slap on the wrist for his very serious crimes, then this nation is in deep trouble … the last bastion of hope for salvation from a cruel dictator will have crumbled.
Good morning and welcome to a peek inside my mind, a mind that is currently filled with all manners of angst, which undoubtedly results in an abundance of snarky snippets.
He who has the most toys wins???
The headline in the New York Times reads:
Trump Raises $24.8 Million in 24 Hours, Swamping Democrats’ First-Day Totals
So what? Is next year’s election to become a race to see who can raise the most money? Of course Trump can, for a couple of reasons: a) all his friends are filthy rich and can afford to donate obscenely huge sums; and b) the fossil fuel and other industries that stand to gain from his scorched earth policy of deregulation will donate millions; and c) he has no scruples and will take money from anybody, including the National Rifle Association (NRA) and probably Porn Society of America. And the other thing to consider is that the RNC is throwing 100% of their contribution to Trump, rather than having to dilute it by spreading it among multiple candidates as the DNC must do. But, other than the obvious that money helps pay for such things as campaign rallies and air time for advertising, it should not matter.
His $24.8 million did not come about because people liked him. The people who like him don’t have much money, so their contributions were likely under $25. The money came from his own kind, wealthy, greedy people who have no concern for the environment or for those who have less than themselves. These people don’t even like him, but they like what he can do for them, like tax cuts for their ‘class’, de-regulation of their industry, and general pandering to their own interests. I wonder how much of his war chest will be used to pay off his paramours so they don’t go public with his affairs right before the election?
Next year’s election should not be about who can collect the most money, nor should it be a popularity contest, though in my opinion that is exactly what the democratic primary will end up being … a mandate on who has the best chance to beat Trump. We are a sad lot, you know that? How many children could be fed for a year with what is spent on political campaigns?
Even the republicans don’t want to …
… sell weapons to Saudi Arabia. The good news is that the Senate will vote later today on 22 separate measures to block Trump’s proposed sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia. According to The Hill …
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the Senate will hold three votes on the 22 sales that would also send weapons to the United Arab Emirates and Jordan. Two standalone votes will be on resolutions to block sales to Saudi Arabia. Senators would then have a third vote that would condense the remaining 20 resolutions of disapproval into one vote.
The resolutions blocking Trump’s arms sales are anticipated to be able to pass the Senate, where they only need a simple majority. At least four Republicans are expected to vote with all 47 Democrats to block the arms deal.
It is incredible that McConnell is actually allowing this to be brought for a vote, and even more remarkable that it is expected to pass, that at least some republicans in the Senate are not, for once, giving carte blanche to Trump. The bad news, of course, is that Trump will veto the bill once it hits his desk, and there is very little if any reason to believe that either the House or the Senate could garner the 2/3 majority necessary to override the veto. So, at the end of the day, we will likely sell arms to the very person who ordered the brutal murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and who will use those weapons to murder innocent civilians in Yemen and other places.
The crowd he attracts …
On Tuesday, in Orlando, Florida, Trump held a rally to announce his candidacy for 2020, even though he announced it on 20 January 2017 when he rushed right out after his inauguration to register. I have no desire nor interest to write about his speech, and in fact I have not read it nor do I plan to. Boring. However, what does interest me is the sort of people he attracted.
There were members of the right-wing conspiracy group, Q-Anon …
And those ultra-white supremacists who call themselves the “Proud Boys”, though they’ve nothing to be proud of …The ‘boys’ were heard chanting that Roger Stone did nothing wrong, and praising former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. Both groups were denied entry to the area where anti-Trump demonstrators were peacefully protesting, but they made their presence known.
What a lot of nice people follow and support Trump, eh? He draws them like honey draws flies. Makes you stop and think, doesn’t it?
Fox ‘persona’ Laura Ingraham is certifiably insane. No, I’m not a psychologist, but this ‘woman’ is nuts, people! For reasons of my own health and well-being, I cannot watch or even listen to her, but every now and then a snippet crosses my path online. This time it is a series of podcasts she has done … the premise of which is that the democrats are “replacing Americans” with immigrants in order to further their agenda of big government and socialist ideals. A snippet from one …
“No, you’re for replacing the current American population, or swamping the current American population, with a new population of people who are perhaps more hospitable to socialist ideals.
Perhaps they are more hospitable to big government, perhaps they want more across the board social spending, they want to — they want Spanish to be at least on par with English as a national language. I mean, pick your issue, but that’s what they’re hoping for.
They can’t risk — they can’t risk a situation where a guy like Trump keeps getting elected. I mean, they tried to knock him out with the stupid Russia investigation, and that backfired, but they — they can’t risk that again.
So, they have to have a new electorate — and the new electorate, they think will be new immigrants who are just — they’re not in tune, at least in this current — going through this current public schools situation that we have, they’re not in tune with the American founding, or even taught to love the American founding.”
This … this is the utter stupidity that is promoted by Fox ‘News’ and that is being spoon-fed to those who know no other news source, or who believe Trump’s false claim that all the other sources are “fake news”. It seems to me that a major network like Fox ought to be held to a standard of truth, honesty, and integrity. Sigh. But what do I know, eh?
I have more snark that is as yet unreleased, so … stay tuned.
Today is your lucky day! I have far more to do than I can possibly accomplish, nearly everything in the news sets me off on a grouse or a grumble, and my family has long since tired of listening to me, telling me to “go write a blog post or something”. And so you are the beneficiaries of today’s snarkiness! Thrilled, aren’t you?
I have lost count of how many times I have said we need to overturn Citizen’s United, need to remove money from the equation of elections. The utterly obscene amounts of money that are spent by corporations and lobbyists to promote candidates come with a hefty price tag … one that We The People always pay.
On November 6th, Americans spoke loud and clear when we sent a number of women and minorities to the House of Representatives. We said, “We are sick and tired of being left behind. We are sick and tired of our voices not being heard, of only those people who have millions, or billions of dollars being listened to. We are sick of our government representing only the top 1% and to hell with the rest of us.” And so, we elected new blood, people who are not yet so jaded that they cannot see the forest for the trees. And they will do the jobs they have been elected to do, despite pressure from others to ‘conform’ to the old ways.
On Tuesday, the incoming freshman lawmakers attended an orientation event sponsored by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics. The event was billed as a bipartisan event and on its website the school says the sessions are designed to help incoming House members “forge bipartisan relationships and learn practical skills of lawmaking just one month prior to taking the oath of office.” Uh-huh.
Who were the speakers at this event? Corporate CEOs and Corporate lobbyist groups. Guess who else was there? Donald Trump’s former chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn. Hold on to your hats … you’re going to love what he told the newbie members-elect …
“You guys are way over your head, you don’t know how the game is played.”
Say WHAT??? This, Mr. Cohn, is not a game … this is people’s f-ing lives!!!
Goldman Sachs, the financial behemoth where Cohn was CEO before joining Trump’s administration were at the event. The heads of General Motors, Johnson and Johnson and Boeing were there. There was not a single labor leader or community activist, nobody who represented the average citizen. Only people who represent that all-important upper echelon, the infamous 1%. And we wonder why we have the most corrupt lawmakers ever in the history of the nation? Wonder no more.
The FBI has changed its mind and decided that one of the currently most radical white supremacist groups in the nation is not, after all, an extremist group. What, they’re just a bunch of kindergarten kids going around the country promoting political violence?
According to the Proud Boys website …
“The basic tenet of the group is that we are “Western chauvinists who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world.” Like Archie Bunker, we long for the days when “girls were girls and men were men.” This wasn’t controversial even twenty years ago, but being proud of Western culture today is like being a crippled, black, lesbian communist in 1953. Our group is and will always be MEN ONLY(born with a penis if that wasn’t clear enough for you leftists)!”
The group claims not to be white supremacist, however according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) …
“Their disavowals of bigotry are belied by their actions: rank-and-file Proud Boys and leaders regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists. They are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric. Proud Boys have appeared alongside other hate groups at extremist gatherings like the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville. Indeed, former Proud Boys member Jason Kessler helped to organize the event, which brought together Klansmen, antisemites, Southern racists, and militias.”
In November, the FBI categorized the group as an “extremist group with ties to white nationalism”. That was actually fairly mild, if you ask me, for I would categorize them as a bunch of bigoted, chauvanistic, murderous white supremacists. But yesterday, for reasons unbeknownst to anyone of good sense, the FBI recanted, saying they did not mean to designate the whole group, rather to characterize the potential threat from individuals within that group. Would somebody please explain to me what the Sam Heck the difference is? Nobody would join the group for any reason other than to follow their violent, bigoted ways, so … why is it only certain unnamed individuals and not the entire group that pose a threat? Oh wait … perhaps one of Donnie Trump’s family is a member and that is why the designation had to be changed! I call B.S.
On November 6th, We The People spoke. We spoke loud and clear. We made clear that we are not all a bunch of bigoted louts as some would like us to be, and we made clear that we value substance over form. We elected to the U.S. House of Representatives two very qualified women who are of the Muslim faith. Why? Because they are the best qualified to make laws that are in the best interest of the people of this nation … that is, ALL the people, not just the wealthy few.
Ilhan Omar (left) and Rashida Tlaib
The two, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan are both Democrats and both well-qualified for the jobs to which they were elected.
However, there is one man, Earl Walker Jackson a protestant minister and wanna-be politician, who doesn’t think these two women should be in Congress. Why? Because he claims …
“Folks, I’m still trying to get over this whole issue of Nancy Pelosi allowing these women — these Muslim women — and apparently other women in Congress are now going to start, if this movement takes root, are going to start wearing the hijab on the floor of Congress. So what are we now gonna do? We’re going to turn Congress into an institution of Sharia law? I mean, folks, this stuff is just crazy … Lord help us. Floor of Congress is now going to look like a, it’s going to look like an Islamic republic.”
Mr. Jackson, by the way, is African-American and a disgrace to his race, for he has often made statements that were derogatory to gays, blacks, and Democrats and other minority groups. However, he is outdone this time, for representative-elect Omar had the best imaginable response to Jackson’s bigoted statement …
“Well sir, the floor of Congress is going to look like America … and you’re gonna have to just deal.”
Yes indeed, folks, we’ve got some new blood coming into Congress!
And now I hope I have gotten enough of the snarky out of my system so that I can proceed with the weekend, for I have much to accomplish this weekend and little enough time and energy with which to do it. Have a great weekend!