Where Did Our Money Go?

Remember that $1,200 check you received from the IRS in April?  Didn’t last too long, did it?  Still, it helped … every little bit helped.  At the rate Congress is acting, you’ll be long dead before you receive another.  But look … many did benefit greatly and received hefty checks.  They are … well, let’s have a look …

  • Robert Jeffress of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, who has served on Trump’s evangelical board, was approved for a loan of $2 – $5 million.
  • The American Center for Law and Justice Inc, a nonprofit founded by televangelist Pat Robertson and also known as Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism Inc., was approved for a $1-2 million loan. Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s cadre of lawyers who represented Trump during his impeachment trial, is listed as chief counsel on the organization’s website.
  • City of Destiny Inc. of Florida, where Paula White, Trump’s spiritual adviser, is listed as a pastor, was approved for a loan of $150,000-$350,000.

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that was part of the larger $2.3 trillion relief package was intended for small businesses, to allow them to keep paying their employees even when shut down due to the coronavirus.  The keywords here are ‘small’ and ‘business’.  The churches mentioned here are wealthy in their own right.  And churches are not businesses.  If they are, in fact, businesses, then they no longer qualify for tax-exempt status, and should be paying taxes on their income.

Given the separation of church and state that is part of the foundation of our government, the government should absolutely not be giving money to churches … any churches.  Additionally, it is highly suspicious that all of the aforementioned churches’ leaders have close affiliations to Donald Trump.  This is our tax money, people.  We are throwing it all away … or rather, we are allowing Donald Trump to throw it away, to give it to those he thinks can help him in some way … like telling their congregations to vote for him in November.  In essence, part of the money that was to help small businesses, went into Trump’s campaign coffers.

Jay Sekulow, Paula White, Robert Jeffress, and Pat Robertson are all wealthy individuals who could have easily afforded to continue paying their staff.  None of them needed the money.  They are of a religion that many of us do not support or believe in.  And yet, we paid them … for what?  This opens a whole new can of worms in regard to cronyism and also defies the separation of church and state clause.  Worse yet, these religious organizations pay no taxes, so they have contributed virtually nothing, yet they are taking.  And, unless I miss my guess, their loans will ultimately be forgiven, which makes it not a loan but a gift.  I didn’t authorize giving my money to any religious organization, nor would I.  Once again, we have been robbed.

Religious organizations weren’t the only ones to receive money undeservedly.  Remember Kanye West, the rapper, who cozied up to Trump in the early days of his tenure?  Turns out he owns a clothing line called Yeezy, and thus he was given a loan of between $2 million and $5 million.  Mr. West has a net worth of $1.3 billion … I really do believe that he could have afforded to pay his employees out of his own pocket.

More than 30 Girl Scout chapters across the country received PPP loans. The Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming were approved for between $350,000 and $1 million each.  Now, I fully support Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, I think they do good work.  But, with schools closed since March, no gatherings such as scout meetings allowed … why the Sam Heck do they need that much money?  Their troop leaders are all volunteers, not paid employees!

Jim-Justice

Gov. Jim Justice

West Virginia’s Governor Jim Justice is a very wealthy man … he is actually considered the wealthiest person in the State of West Virginia, with a net worth of $1.2 billion.  Justice owns a number of businesses, including coal, agricultural, and a lavish resort.  Justice and his family members received $6.3 million from the PPP program.

How’s that little $1,200 check looking to you now?

The list goes on and on.  As much as $273 million in federal coronavirus aid was awarded to more than 100 companies that are owned or operated by major donors to Trump’s election efforts.  Fast-food chains, oil and gas companies, and white-collar firms were all granted a slice of more than $659 billion in low-interest business loans that will be forgiven if the money is used on payroll, rent and similar expenses.  Money that was meant to keep those small businesses, the mom-and-pop bookstores and diners afloat during the crisis.

This is what happens when there is no oversight.  You’ll remember that Trump fired Glenn Fine, the man tasked with leading the group overseeing the entire $2.3 trillion package.  The United States now has $24.95 trillion in national debt, a sagging economy that will not recover this year, the people who could most afford to pay taxes, pay little or none.  There will come a day of reckoning, my friends.  Do you suppose Robert Jeffress, Jim Bakker, Governor Justice, Kanye West and the others will step up to the plate and offer to pay higher taxes to help bring the debt down?  Think on that one for a while.

The First Amendment …

The First Amendment covers a lot of ground and has been interpreted and re-interpreted ever since its writing.  In the news this week are three things pertaining to the 1st Amendment that worry me in one form or fashion.


Freedom of the Press …

I had heard the name ‘Samantha Bee’, but had no idea who or what she was, nor did I much care … until this morning.  According to Wikipedia, Ms. Bee is …

“… a Canadian-American comedian, writer, producer, political commentator, actress, and television host. Bee rose to fame as a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, where she became the longest-serving regular correspondent.”

You guys probably already knew that, though, didn’t you?  So why, you ask, did Ms. Bee buzz across my radar?  On her show, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, on Wednesday, she made some very astute statements about freedom of the press …

“Look, I know, it’s not exactly a revelation that the president is always trying to undermine the media, but that’s the problem: We’re all so used to it that we act like it’s normal. And the more that we ignore anti-press sentiment in America, the more it will spread.  When Trump became president, he was crushed to find that the job comes with criticism and that the glowing PR he got from the business media isn’t typical of the political press. Since the media refused to love him back, Trump has chosen to do the mature thing and use his presidential power to destroy them.  The scariest part about Trump’s war on the press is that he’s winning. No one’s been able to stop his attacks, so we just go about our lives while they run constantly in the background like white noise — which is, of course, Trump’s preferred color of noise. … When Trump undermines the free press, he’s not just attacking journalists’ rights to do their jobs, he’s attacking your right to know what’s going on in the world.”

She’s right.  If not for the free press, we would know only what Trump wanted us to know.  We would not know that Russia was paying the Taliban to kill U.S. soldiers and that Trump knew about this yet failed to act.  We would not have known that he attempted to blackmail the president of the Ukraine to ‘dig up dirt’ on his political rival, Joe Biden.  We would not have known any of the acts that Trump has committed against the people of this nation.  At all costs, we must … must support our free press!  We cannot become complacent and accept the denigration of the press as ‘normal’, for it is anything but normal … at least in this country.


Freedom of Speech …

The 1st Amendment includes many freedoms, including the aforementioned freedom of the press.  It also includes freedom of and from religion, and the one most-oft quoted, freedom of speech.  Over the past two centuries, that ‘freedom of speech has been interpreted by the courts to mean a wide variety of things.  Signs and symbols by hate groups such as white supremacists and neo-Nazis have been ruled acceptable because … freedom of speech.  KKK rallies have been deemed allowable under freedom of speech.  But, in my opinion, there simply must be limits.

This …nazi-flag-shooting… is highly offensive to all but the most ardent anti-Semitic white supremacists.  A woman was shot four times in the back in Garfield County, Oklahoma, for trying to remove one of the flags.

Now, I can tell you for a fact that if anybody in my neighborhood were to sport such a flag, I would not only remove it, but would douse it with lighter fluid then set fire to it.  The Nazi flag is a symbol of anti-Semitism, of hatred, around the globe.

The owner of the house and flags, one Alexander Feaster, was arrested and has been charged with assault and battery with a deadly weapon, and shooting with intent to kill, and is due to appear in court later this month.  A neighbor said that he had been flying the flags for around a year, and they had been snatched from his home a few times in the past. They added that he would occasionally dress up in black uniform with a red swastika armband – an outfit reminiscent of Nazi SS uniforms.  No less than 15 guns were recovered from Feaster’s home upon his arrest.  Who the hell needs that much firepower?

The district attorney says he is considering possible charges against the woman, who is expected to recover from her gunshot wounds.  Why?  Trespassing?  Destruction of private property?  In this case, I don’t see it … it was justified.  However, I know at least two of my readers who will disagree with me, so it is only my opinion.


Freedom of/from Religion …

The 1st Amendment says this about the freedom of religion …

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

That’s all … just 16 words.  However, lengthy tomes have been written in order to interpret how this clause should be applied.  There are those who argue this is a Christian nation … it is not!  It is a secular nation, the foundation of which calls for a distinct separation between church and state.  This includes education.

A portion of our tax dollars is used to fund public schools.  PUBLIC schools, not parochial or religious schools.  If you want to send your children to a religious school, you do have that right … just not at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer.

This week the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the state of Montana could not use a provision in its Constitution to exclude religious schools from its private school scholarship program.  Although the ruling was narrow, applying only to the case before them, it is likely that religious groups in other states will be heartened by the decision and file their own cases against states.  By the end of next year, we could easily see a broader ruling stating that any state that issues vouchers or similar programs to help with tuition at private schools must also include religious schools in the process.

In fact, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos suggested just that …

“I’m calling on all states to now seize the extraordinary opportunity to expand all education options at all schools to every single student in America.”

I’m betting that those who championed and cheered this decision will be horrified when some day a family uses their vouchers to send their child to an Islamic school, won’t they?  Meanwhile, though, I am offended and angered by this decision.  As a citizen, as a taxpayer, and as a non-religionist, I absolutely do NOT want my tax dollars supporting a religious school where children are taught every form of bigotry imaginable.  It is a gross miscarriage of justice that people of differing religions and of no religion must pay to send another person’s child to a school that teaches only one religion and teaches that it is the one and only right religion and the rest of us are wrong in our beliefs or non-beliefs.  This is, in part, why there is so much hatred in this country today.

You want to send your child to a religious school, fine, but not on my dime!

Very Snarky Snippets

For starters, yes the stock market gained some 7% yesterday … ho hum.  Don’t get too excited, for it’s going back down … maybe today, maybe tomorrow, but there is no foundation for the gain and it is inevitable that it will plunge again.  As I said … ho hum.


Despite the fact that Trump claims to know more about everything under the sun than all the experts, he actually knows very little about anything.  So, early on when Trump visited the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), he claimed that all the scientists and medicos there were astounded that he knew so much about it all.  Funny, though, that we never actually heard any of those experts say they were astounded … no doubt they were astounded when they met him up close and personal to find that the ‘man’ who filled the seat of the highest office in the land was such an egotistical moron.

But now, he has taken his ‘genius’ to a dangerous level.  You may remember that I have referred to him as a snake oil salesman more than a few times.  Well, he is truly selling snake oil now, and lives are in danger, for he has no idea what he’s doing.  He is telling people to take some drug called “hydroxychloroquine” (please do not ask me to pronounce that!) that used to be a treatment for malaria.  He has no idea what it does, only that some country bumpkin doctor wrote to him and told him it would work, and now he is telling the public, on national television, to take this drug.

If you or I did that, we would be sued.  Doctors and people who really do know something are cautioning against it.  One man has already died as a result of taking the drug.  Trump says, with cameras rolling, “What have you got to lose?”  Um … perhaps our lives?  Apparently on Saturday, Trump and the real expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, got into a rather heated “discussion” about Trump touting a drug for which there is no evidence it will work against the current pandemic.  Trump sycophant Peter Navarro said, in response, that “Doctors disagree about things all the time.”  Um … yeah, maybe, but only one of the two in question is a doctor.  Donald Trump isn’t even a human, let alone a bloody doctor!

In Trump’s ego-trip that some are calling a press conference on Sunday, a reporter asked Dr. Fauci for his thoughts about the effectiveness of the anti-malaria drug in treating coronavirus patients, and Trump interrupted before the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases could answer. “He’s answered that question 15 times,” said Trump, which was an outright lie, but what’s new, right?

So, in essence, We the People are not to be allowed to hear the truth from the experts, but will be fed the passel of lies that Trump in his warped mind has made up.  A word to the wise, do not bother to watch his pressers and for Pete’s Sake do not take his medical advice!  He is not a doctor, but a circus clown!  But wait …

A pastor in Fairland, Oklahoma, Curt Landry, told his congregation to listen to Trump’s advice over that of experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, because Trump has “God’s authority.”  SAY WHAT??? 

curt-landry“I am not a scientist, I am not a doctor, and I do respect [Fauci’s] knowledge, I respect where he comes from, and I respect him in his position that God has put him in. But in the order of spiritual alignment, Donald J. Trump is the Cyrus above him … As believers, we need to agree—I believe that God puts kings and leaders in their place, I believe God has put Donald Trump in his place as a Cyrus—and we need to agree with what he’s saying.”

Fool!  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.


You’ve all heard of the concept of ‘separation of church and state’, right?  Well, for three years now, Trump has been trying to erase that line of separation, largely to appease his evangelical base who want the laws of this nation to align with their own narrow-minded religious beliefs in such areas as women’s rights and the rights of the LGBT community.  But now … guess what?  Part of that $2.2 trillion bill that was passed last week to help people suffering financially because of the coronavirus pandemic is going to be used to … wait for it … help churches pay the salaries of their pastors!

Yep, folks, even if you don’t attend a church, are not religious, are a non-believer, your tax dollars will be used to help support specific churches!  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.  One more corner of the U.S. Constitution burned to a crisp.


This country, the U.S., is not the country I grew up in.  It is not the country that gave us such great men as Martin Luther King, John and Bobby Kennedy, and so many others.  I no longer recognize nor respect this country.  It is no longer the country where we were told that ‘all men are created equal’.  This is no longer the country that adheres to the words on the base of the Statue of Liberty …

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

This is a country filled with bitterness and hate, with racism, misogyny, homophobia, Islamophobia, and most any other ‘phobia’ you can think of.  It is no longer a nation that I recognize, or that I can respect.  It is a nation burning itself from within.

Pro-Life??? I Think Not.

Let’s make a few things clear from the start.  Those who call themselves “Pro-Life” are actually not in favour of protecting all life.  They are only anti-abortion.  Those who call themselves ‘pro-life’ support the death penalty … a barbaric procedure with the potential for taking an innocent life.  Those who call themselves ‘pro-life’ most often are also ‘pro-gun’ … guns have one purpose and one purpose only:  to take lives, to kill.  Among those who call themselves ‘pro-life’ are many who are climate change deniers, who eschew regulations to protect and repair our environment such that it may continue to support life into the next century.  Those who call themselves ‘pro-life’ are the most likely to argue against government aiding single mothers struggling to feed their children, or to pay their bills in order to keep their children alive.  So no, the pro-life movement is naught but an anti-abortion movement.  Let’s call a spade a spade.

Now, I have a couple of issues with these anti-abortionists.  First of all, nobody is forcing them to have an abortion!  If I choose to have one, that is my business and nobody else’s, for this is my body … not yours.  By the same token, I certainly would not attempt to force a woman to have an abortion, even if she already had 15 children and no way to support them.  It’s her choice, plain and simple.

My second objection is that 99% of the people who oppose a woman’s right to choose, do so based on their own religious convictions.  Since I don’t share those religious convictions, their beliefs do not apply to me.  Since we have a secular government that demands a wall of separation between church and state, it is grossly unconstitutional for the government to trample my right to choose.

My third objection, of course, is that I see the anti-abortion movement, largely funded and founded by men, as a further attempt by men to dominate what they still, after all these years of the women’s movement, see as “the weaker sex”.  “Pro-life” … just one more form of bigotry, as if we needed more.  What if women were allowed to decide when a man should have a vasectomy?  Can you imagine the hue and cry?

So, these ‘pro-life’ folks held a rally over the weekend in Washington, D.C.  And guess who spoke at that rally?  Yep, none other than Donald Trump, the impeached president, the first president to speak at the annual event.  A number of his sycophants in Congress also attended, including: Steve Scalise, Chris Smith, Ralph Abraham, Warren Davidson, Bob Latta, John Joyce, Lloyd Smucker, Mike Lee, James Lankford, Brian Fitzpatrick, and Brad Wenstrup.  And let us not forget to note the presence of Kellyanne Conway, and Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar.

A few of the more ludicrous snippets from Trump’s speech*:

  • “Together we must protect, cherish, and defend the dignity and the sanctity of every human life.” (This from a ‘man’ who recently ordered the assassination of an Iranian general, that ultimately led to the deaths of 176 innocent civilians)

  • “Sadly, the far left is actively working to erase our God-given rights. Shut down faith-based charities, ban religious believers from the public square, and silence Americans who believe in the sanctity of life. They are coming after me because I am fighting for you and we are fighting for those who have no voice and we will win because we know how to win. We all know how to win. We all know how to win. You’ve been winning for a long time. You’ve been winning for a long time.” (Huh??? Is there an echo?)

  • “Nearly every top Democrat in Congress now supports taxpayer-funded abortion all the way up until the moment of birth. Last year, lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb right up until delivery.” (Um … Donnie?  That’s called ‘birth’, not abortion)

  • “But what is going on in Virginia? What is going on? The Governor stated that he would execute a baby after birth.” (No, Donnie, that is not what Governor Northam said.)

  • “Unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House. And as the Bible tells us, each person is wonderfully made. We’ve taken decisive action to protect the religious liberty. So important. Religious liberty has been under attack all over the world and frankly very strongly attacked in our nation.”  (Is “religious liberty” then, only for those who believe in a certain way, and to hell with the rest of us?)

Now, make no mistake – Donald Trump was not there for any reason other than to shore up his base, the right-wing evangelicals who form the largest portion of the anti-abortion movement.  This was, for Trump, nothing more or less than a campaign rally, sans maga hats.  Donald Trump is a misogynist by any definition of the word … he has a long history of abusing women, including his three wives.  He was having an affair under the very nose of his present wife as she gave birth to his youngest son.  It would not surprise me in the least to find that Donald Trump has paid for a few abortions for his many mistresses.

The “religious freedom” that Trump is speaking of is only for those evangelicals who form a large portion of his base.  It actually deprives the rest of us of our religious freedom … and in more ways than just abortion.  If his staunchest supporters had their way, LGBT people would be discriminated against, as would Jews, Muslims, atheists … just about anybody who didn’t share their views.

Separation of church and state is a concept with a purpose … the purpose being equal rights for all, not only one religious group.  When Trump speaks at an event such as the one last week, when he promises to go against the Constitution in order to appease one group to the detriment of all others, he is breaking his oath of office and he is failing in his duty to represent ALL the people of this nation.


*  Full transcript of Trump’s speech at 2020 March for Life rally

Keep It Personal, Please

Perhaps there is no single place where the concept of separation between church and state is as important as in our public schools.  There was good reason for Thomas Jefferson to call for a ‘wall of separation’ between church and state, and today there are even more reasons.  And yet, in recent years, most especially since Donald Trump took office in 2017, that wall seems to be breaking down.

Today it was announced that …

“The Trump administration is moving to strengthen protections for students who want to pray or worship in public schools and proposing changes that would make it easier for religious groups that provide social services to access federal funds.”

Now, I can hear you saying, “Okay, so what’s the big deal … if a kid wants to pray while in school, who cares?”  But here’s the thing … any kid who wants to pray in school at any time of the day is already free to do so.  Nobody is going to punish the child who closes his eyes and says, “Lord, please help me pass this test”.  But … to allow a child to force the entire classroom to listen to his prayer is an infringement on the rights of the other children.

Prayer should be a personal thing, not a group activity … and especially when not all the group believe in the same things.  In today’s public schools, we have Muslim children, Catholic children, Jewish children, and atheist children.  But, it is the evangelical Christians who are driving the decisions to include prayer in school.  Can you imagine the evangelical parents of little Johnny who comes home one afternoon and starts talking about Allah, because little Mohammed said his prayers in school?  Oh yeah … mommy and daddy would be at the school board office bright and early the next morning, probably with their lawyer in tow.

But yet, Mohammed’s parents are supposed to accept him being subjected to Christian prayers.  There is a time and a place for everything.  If you follow a certain religion, you and your children have every right to pray, but do it at home or do it at church … school is the place we send our children to learn, not to pray.

I would remind those evangelicals who would like to see mandatory prayer in schools that they have a number of options, including sending their children to a parochial school if they feel so strongly about their child praying at school.  What they don’t have is the right to force every other child in the classroom to listen to their child’s prayers.  Public schools are open to children of any or no faith.  Children are in school a maximum of eight hours a day … surely it isn’t impossible for them to go that long without vocal prayer?

I would also remind them that this is NOT a Christian nation, but rather a constitutionally-mandated secular nation where people of all religions are welcome, as are people who eschew any religion.  Religion is a personal thing … keep it personal, please … remember that our schools are funded by tax dollars paid by people of all and no denominations. school-prayer

Snarky Snippets ‘N Mini Rants

Filosofa may have mostly come out of her funky mood, but now she’s just flat-out mad.  Why?  Most everything, that’s why!  We still have the Oaf in the Oval spouting inanities, the unconscionable members of Congress who are too dedicated to their own self-interest to be concerned about ours, California is being devastated by horrible fires while our government fights for the right to further destroy this planet we call home.  And that’s just for starters …


Profit over the environment — Again!

Donald Trump and his band of merry republicans have been robbing from the poor and giving to the rich for long enough now.  Remember the Keystone Pipeline?  In a nutshell, it has been one of the most controversial infrastructure proposals in the history of this nation, largely over environmental concerns.  The main issues are the risk of oil spills along the pipeline, which would traverse highly sensitive terrain, and 17% higher greenhouse gas emissions from the extraction of oil sands compared to extraction of conventional oil. In 2015, President Obama, caring about the environment, vetoed the bill allowing construction to proceed pending further environmental studies, and it has been a battleground ever since.  Last fall, a federal judge in Montana halted the project, after finding that Trump’s administration had not done the proper environmental reviews.

But, not to be outdone by a mere court order, last March Trump signed one of his infamous ‘executive orders’ allowing the project to move forward, despite protests by environmental groups.  Well, guess what, folks … on Tuesday that pipeline sprung a leak.  It happened in North Dakota where some 383,000 gallons of crude oil is now covering a half-acre of wetlands, killing whatever wildlife called it their home.  Way to go, Trump … another epic failure in your [lack of] environmental policy.

In the words of Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders …

“This is what happens when we have a president who ignores scientists and puts short-term fossil fuel profits ahead of the environment and the future of the planet.”


Your tax dollars … buying religion whether you want it or not

paula-whiteHer name is Paula White and she is a televangelist located in Florida.  Well, she was located in Florida … now she is located in Washington, D.C., working at the White House, her salary paid by our tax dollars!  I am not religious, certainly not a believer in that which Ms. White calls ‘faith’, so why should I have to pay her salary?  Has nobody in this bloody administration read the U.S. Constitution???  You know, that document that effectively calls for a separation between ‘church’ and ‘state’?

According to a “White House official”, White will work in the Office of Public Liaison, which is the division of the White House overseeing outreach to groups and coalitions organizing key parts of Trump’s base. Her role will be to advise the administration’s “Faith and Opportunity Initiative”, which Trump established last year by executive order and which aims to give religious groups more of a voice in government programs devoted to issues like defending religious liberty.  Again … where is the separation between church and state???  Religion is not supposed to affect public policy!  Government programs are supposed to represent and assist ALL people, not only those of a specified religion!  What about Hindus, Jews, Muslims, agnostics, and atheists???  And what about those groups who are determinedly discriminated against by the religion Trump & White are pandering to, such as members of the LGBTQ community?

Political analysts see this move as Trump trying to ensure he keeps his evangelical base happy in the months leading up to the 2020 election.  He has taken repeated steps to ensure they turn out for him again — by issuing executive orders, making cabinet appointments, and nominating federal judges that pass muster with the religious right. On a range of issues from abortion rights to tax exemptions for churches, Trump has tried to grant Christian conservatives their policy wishes whenever legally and politically feasible.

But what about the rest of us?  Evangelicals do not constitute a majority in this nation, and the rest of us pay taxes too!  I want my money back, for I am getting literally not one damn thing in return for it.  Ms. White isn’t too bright, either, for here’s what she says of Trump …

“He’s in total control. He’s not at all impulsive — he’s so far ahead of everyone, very much a strategic thinker.”

What a crock of you-know-what!


Reverse Robin Hood … again!

Remember December 2017 and the tax cuts that benefited the wealthy and corporations?  As a result, companies like Exxon-Mobil, Amazon and others pay less taxes than you do.  As a result, our national debt is now a staggering $22.9 trillion, and the national deficit was, as of September 30th, just shy of $1 trillion.  Way to go, Trump …

Well, it doesn’t end there.  For you see, the tax cuts were structured in such a way as to help only the wealthiest in the land, but he sold the public such a snowjob that his base genuinely believed that he was doing it to help them.  And they still largely believe it, even though they have hard proof in front of them that they did not, in fact, benefit.  So, since that worked so well, and since Trump is heading into next year’s election with several strikes against him, he has decided to re-play December 2017 with yet another round of tax cuts for the wealthy sometime ahead of the election.

Now, here’s the thing … even if the tax cuts were to help the lower-and-middle income groups, it is a bad … really, really bad idea.  We owe money … trillions and trillions of dollars … more money than you and I could even imagine.  And, we are spending more than we are taking in.  WHO in their right mind thinks the best idea is to cut our revenue???  Au contraire, we need to be raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy, not cutting them for anybody.  If you or I managed our budgets and debt as poorly as Trump is managing this country’s, we would be in debtor’s prison!  It is poor stewardship, it is … it is stupid!  But then, look who we’re talking about.


And then there’s …stage-hook

… wait … I’m not dooooonnnnne

United We Stand … Divided We ???

Sean Spicer … remember him?  The first to claim that Trump’s less-than-stellar inauguration had drawn bigger crowds than Obama’s in 2009, he soon tired of being forced to tell so many lies on behalf of Trump that he resigned his position as White House Press Secretary and returned to private life.  So, what’s he doing now, you ask?  Why, he’s Dancing with the Stars, of course!DWTSThat’s right, folks, Sean is going to be paid between $125,000 and $295,000, depending on how long he remains on the show … as compared to the $180,000 per annum he earned as Trump’s mouthpiece.  Now, the show’s host, Tom Bergeron, is not at all pleased with Sean’s gig, and put out the following statement:Bergeron-statementNew York television critic James Poniewozik also sees it as a bad … really bad idea …

“To treat Spicer, and his reason for notoriety, as a harmless joke is to whitewash the harm of what he did, which was to say things so absurdly false that he invited his political side to join him in denying their own eyeballs, to encourage people to believe that facts don’t matter if they hurt your team.”

But Sean sees it differently.  He claims his appearance(s) on DWTS will “bring the country together” …

Sean Spicer Visits "Extra"

“My overall hope is that at the end of this season that Tom looks at this and says, bringing people together of very diverse backgrounds, whether it’s in politics or other areas, and allowing them to show America how we can engage in a really respectful and civil way, is actually a way to help bring the country together as opposed to bring it apart.”

Which brings me to my topic of the day: the divisiveness in this nation.

In any nation at any time, there will be conflicts, issues that divide the pro-business right and the pro-humanitarian left.  It has always been so, and that isn’t going to change, probably ever.  Most often, this is a healthy thing, leads to the best possible solution, a meeting of the minds.  But, today that divisiveness, which I have often enough referred to as ‘the great divide’, is at the highest level since the end of the Civil War in 1865.  Having a highly controversial political figure on an entertainment show is not going to change that.  And make no mistake, Sean Spicer is still lying for Donald Trump, as a senior advisor and spokesman for a pro-Trump super Political Action Committee (PAC) called America First.great-divideToday, there is no middle ground … the right has gone to the extreme right, and the left has moved further left than ever before.  There is no room for moderates, no tolerance for bipartisan lawmaking, and very little civil discourse taking place.  You’re either with us, or you’re ‘agin us’. Social media is a large part of the culprit here … sites like Facebook and Twitter could be venues for respectful, meaningful dialog, searching for answers to better understand ‘the other side’, but instead people have turned these sites into a venue for spewing hate and ugly reactions.

While I fully support the 1st Amendment right to free speech, there are times that unfettered freedom of speech does far more harm than good.  Conservatives and liberals, right and left, will never completely see eye-to-eye, will always be ideologically divided, but the state of affairs we see today cannot endure.

On June 16, 1858, President Abraham Lincoln gave an address after accepting the Illinois Republican Party’s nomination as that state’s US senator.  An excerpt from that speech is apt today …

“A house divided against itself, cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.”

The situation was different then, the ideology different, but in some ways not so different after all.  Then, as now, there were some who believed that people with darker skin had less value.  That, certainly, is one of our issues today, but others are more complex.  Today, we fight over whether there is more value in large corporations having nearly-unlimited profit margins, or in protecting our environment and rescuing all life on earth.  Today, we fight over whether it is the role of government to assist those who cannot, whether temporarily or permanently, meet their own financial needs, or whether those people should simply be left to die.

Today, we fight over whether health care is a right for everyone, or a privilege for only the few.  Today, we fight over whether or not every Tom, Dick and Harry should have access to guns that were meant for one purpose only:  to kill.  Today, we fight over whether LGBTQ people are to be afforded the same civil rights as the rest of society, or whether they should be looked down on and treated as ‘sub-human’.  And today, despite the mandate for a separation of church and state in the U.S. Constitution, we fight over whether one specific religion has the right to impose their beliefs, their will, on all in this secular nation.

The above are only a few of the issues dividing this nation, but they are highly-charged, emotional issues, and they are leading us down a path that can only end in disaster.  Shortly after Lincoln’s speech, we ended up in a Civil War.  In that war, there was a line of demarcation – there can be none this time, for on any given street in this country, you will find people on both ends of the spectrum.  In the Civil War, the north wore blue and the south wore grey … in this war, everybody looks essentially the same.  The civil war divided families, brother fought brother.  This ‘war’ has already divided families, destroyed decades-long friendships, and led to bloodshed.

Sadly, the people who we have elected to govern this nation, are only widening the divide.  It is in their power to bring the two sides together, to ‘reach across the aisle’ and set an example for the people of this nation.  It is their responsibility and duty to do just that, but they have chosen to shirk those duties, to help widen the gap, to breed even more hatred and division across the nation.  Unless things at the top change drastically, this is not going to end well, my friends.  Sean Spicer is not an ambassador for good will, but rather is as much a part of the dividing wedge as any.  Watching him tap dance and likely end up on his arse is not the cure for what ails this nation.

I offer no solutions, for if I were that smart, I would be sitting in the Oval Office, or have an office on Capitol Hill.  I only know that we must do something soon, else the United States will be torn asunder, and likely end up in tatters.  All I ask is that you … think about it.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Plenty.  Last month, Kay Ivey, Governor of Alabama, signed a bill into law giving a specific church the right to have their very own police force.  The church is Briarwood Presbyterian Church, one that has a history of racism and bigotry.  The law, in summary …

Relating to law enforcement; to amend Section 16-22-1, Code of Alabama 1975, to authorize the president or chief executive officer of Madison Academy and Briarwood Presbyterian Church and its integrated auxiliary Briarwood Christian School to appoint and employ one or more suitable persons to act as police officers to protect the property of the school or academy.

Did these people ever hear of the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution?  I know it’s Alabama, and they are just nuts enough to like a doofus like Roy Moore, but still … last I looked, Alabama was still one of the 50 states comprising the United States.  Thus, they fall under the law as set forth by the Constitution and as upheld by the Courts.

The Establishment Clause begins quite simply …

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion …

What … WHAT is so hard to understand about that?  That the Alabama State Legislature AND the Governor of the State are all so uneducated about the law is simply astounding!

The law is scheduled to go into effect in the fall, but I’m thinking that if there are any judges in Alabama with more sense than the legislature has, it will never see the light of day.  What could possibly go wrong with racist white people toting guns and given a badge, told to protect those good white Christians, eh?  Remember George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin?  Need I say more?

WTF is “Natural Law”???

Mike Pompeo is the nation’s Secretary of State.

Mike-PompeoCreated in 1789 by the Congress as the successor to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of State is the senior executive Department of the U.S. Government. The Secretary of State’s duties relating to foreign affairs have not changed significantly since then, but they have become far more complex as international commitments multiplied. These duties – the activities and responsibilities of the State Department – include the following:

  • Serves as the President’s principal adviser on U.S. foreign policy;
  • Conducts negotiations relating to U.S. foreign affairs;
  • Grants and issues passports to American citizens and exequaturs to foreign consuls in the United States;
  • Advises the President on the appointment of U.S. ambassadors, ministers, consuls, and other diplomatic representatives;
  • Advises the President regarding the acceptance, recall, and dismissal of the representatives of foreign governments;
  • Personally participates in or directs U.S. representatives to international conferences, organizations, and agencies;
  • Negotiates, interprets, and terminates treaties and agreements;
  • Ensures the protection of the U.S. Government to American citizens, property, and interests in foreign countries;
  • Supervises the administration of U.S. immigration laws abroad;
  • Provides information to American citizens regarding the political, economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian conditions in foreign countries;
  • Informs the Congress and American citizens on the conduct of U.S. foreign relations;
  • Promotes beneficial economic intercourse between the United States and other countries;
  • Administers the Department of State;
  • Supervises the Foreign Service of the United States.

In addition, the Secretary of State retains domestic responsibilities that Congress entrusted to the State Department in 1789. These include the custody of the Great Seal of the United States, the preparation of certain presidential proclamations, the publication of treaties and international acts as well as the official record of the foreign relations of the United States, and the custody of certain original treaties and international agreements. The Secretary also serves as the channel of communication between the Federal Government and the States on the extradition of fugitives to or from foreign countries.

That is the official job description for the position of Secretary of State, taken from the U.S. Government’s own website.  Please note that NOWHERE in all that verbiage does it say that the Secretary of State is in charge of setting the moral guidelines for the citizens of the United States!

Without the usual pomp and circumstance that usually accompanies announcements by the Trump regime, yesterday the State Department quietly announced the formation of a new committee to be called the Commission on Unalienable Rights, to be headed by Mike Pompeo.  According to the notice, the “nature and purpose” of the commission is …

“The Commission will provide the Secretary of State advice and recommendations concerning international human rights matters. The Commission will provide fresh thinking about human rights discourse where such discourse has departed from our nation’s founding principles of natural law and natural rights.”

Ponder on this one for a moment, if you will.  “… departed from … founding principles of natural law”???  What is “natural law”?  One definition is …

“Natural law is a philosophy asserting that certain rights are inherent by virtue of human nature, endowed by nature—traditionally by God or a transcendent source—and that these can be understood universally through human reason.”

Mike Pompeo is one of those evangelicals who are anti-everything … anti-abortion, anti-women’s rights, anti-LGBTQ, anti-Muslim … and the list goes on.  On April 3rd, Brunei legalized the stoning to death of LGBT people.  Most of the western world was appropriately outraged.  Actor George Clooney called for a boycott of hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei.  The governments of the EU and UK publicly called on Brunei to abandon the law.  Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo were silent. When pressured by the media to comment, Pompeo finally said he was “concerned”, but neither he nor Trump condemned the brutality.

And now, Mike Pompeo, the evangelical, the man who is only ‘concerned’ about the brutal murder of people in the LGBTQ community, is in charge of a commission on ‘natural law’.  Be afraid, people … be very afraid.

In recent weeks, we have seen numerous states infringing on women’s human rights by passing draconian laws banning a woman’s right to an abortion, even if to save her life.  We have seen laws repealed that prohibited the discrimination of LGBTQ people in almost every area, including health care.  In short, we have seen that this regime does not respect the rights of either women or the LGBTQ community.

The State Department already has an entire bureau devoted to the issues of human rights.  Human rights advocates and activists are worried that the true purpose of this commission is to strip both women and LGBTQ people of protections against discrimination.

The most worrying part, to me, is that term “natural law”, which is typically associated with religion.  The United States is a secular nation.  Some will claim it is a ‘Christian nation’, but that is not the way the Constitution, the framework for our government, is designed.  We welcome people of all or no religions to practice whatever religion … or none … they choose, but … BUT we do not design our laws in accordance with Christianity or any other religion.

For Mike Pompeo, who holds strong and narrow-minded religious views, and a group of his choosing to have input into the legal processes of this nation is a dangerous proposition … it poses, in this writer’s view, a distinct threat to the concept of separation of church and state, and it poses a threat to women and the LGBTQ community at the very least.

Few facts are available about what the commissions goals and processes are to be, and the State department refused to provide further details to the media, but this is something to keep an eye on, folks.  This may well go the way of Trump’s “Voter Fraud Commission” in 2017 and simply fade into oblivion, but what if it doesn’t?  Think about it.

Warren Davidson’s Newsletter

Yesterday, I received a routine newsletter from my representative in the U.S. House of Representatives, Warren Davidson.  I have little or no respect for this man or his policies, did not vote for him and would not vote for him if he were the only candidate on the ballot.  However, I receive his newsletter because a) one needs to keep tabs on what one’s elected officials are doing, not that you can believe a word they say, and b) I like to annoy the heck out of him by responding to each one.  Below is his latest newsletter …

Warren DavidsonDear Friends,

Congressman Davidson voted against H.R. 1, the For the People Act, as this deceptively labeled legislation would put our free and fair elections system under federal control, infringing on several Constitutional rights. H.R. 1 is the top item on Speaker Pelosi and House Democrat’s policy agenda for the 116th Congress. Congressman Davidson introduced several amendments to H.R. 1 that would protect free speech, uphold states’ rights, and defend nonprofits from political targeting by the IRS. He led a debate on these amendments this past Thursday on the floor of the House.

Addressing anti-Semitic Comments

On Fox News Radio Congressman Davidson also reacted to anti-Semitic remarks recently made by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar this week. He told host Todd Starnes that America is not an anti-Semitic country, yet Congresswoman Omar has continued to make anti-Semitic remarks. Congressman Davidson said that if there is any place where these comments would be out-of-line, it would most certainly be the Foreign Affairs Committee, of which Congresswoman Omar is a member.

New Executive Order Aimed at Lowering Veterans’ Suicide

President Trump recently signed an executive order aimed at decreasing the number of veteran suicides and creating a task force of state and local groups to raise awareness of the crisis. The new task force created by the executive order will create a grant system like the Housing and Urban Development VA Supportive Housing program, which provides funding for state and local programs that help homeless veterans and their families find permanent housing.

Davidson Receives Defender of Economic Freedom Award

The Club for Growth recognized Congressman Davidson this week for his consistent defense of economic freedom and pro-growth policies in Washington. This year, only 25 Members of Congress (20 House members and 5 Senators) will receive the Award.

Second Amendment Visit

Congressman Davidson met with a group of gun owners in West Chester this past week where he discussed two gun control bills, which he opposed in the House. He spoke with the group about how these bills would have made it harder for law-abiding citizens to purchase, own, carry and use a firearm.

Thank you for taking the time to keep up with the work I am doing on your behalf in Washington and at home in Ohio. I encourage you to stay connected with our office through my website , Facebook , Instagram , and Twitter pages. It is an honor to represent you.

Sincerely,

Warren Davidson

Member of Congress

Don’t you hate it when someone refers to themself in the third person? So much more I could have said, would have liked to say, but short, sweet and to the point is always best … these guys have short attention spans.

Davidson won in a special election in June 2016 to replace John Boehner after Boehner resigned. He then won again in 2018 by a 68.76% margin … obviously my neighbors have no sense.  He is a member of the ignoble House Freedom Caucus, that most radical of all conservative elements in Congress.  They aren’t even well-liked or respected by their own fellow republicans.

Predictably, Davidson is anti-women’s rights, anti-LGBT rights, opposes the use of renewable energy, has an “A” rating from the NRA, wishes to repeal ACA (Obamacare), supports maintaining a “numerically superior” nuclear arsenal, supports Trump’s border wall and a ban on Syrian refugees, supports a “Judeo-Christian” national code of morality, and more.  In other words, he is against We the People and for a Christian/military complex.  To put it kindly, he is a fool of the most dangerous sort.

I responded briefly, touching only on two of the issues raised in his newsletter …

Mr. Davidson,

I just read your latest newsletter and I have a few questions.  Are we, the people you are elected and paid to represent, supposed to applaud you for voting against legislation that would serve a number of purposes, including taking some of the corruption out of the election process?  And are we to applaud you for opposing sensible gun legislation that might … just might save some lives?  Thus far, you are the antithesis of what this nation needs and what the majority of We the People want.  You’ve licked the boots of Trump and of the NRA for long enough, Mr. Davidson.  Unless you show some accountability and responsibility, I will work as hard as I can to see that you are voted OUT of Congress next year.

Jill Dennison, tax payer, citizen, VOTER

Do you get periodic newsletters via email from your senators and representatives?  If not, you should sign up for them, if for no other reason than to let them know you are watching, you are aware, and you will not tolerate any b.s.