Here we go again

In 2016, the media inadvertently helped Donald Trump by being so fascinated over his unlikely candidacy that they gave him almost unlimited FREE coverage. And today, our beloved “mainstream” media are doing something similar. Please read Jeff’s post, for this is something that I had not considered, and I bet many of you haven’t either, but we need to be aware. Many thanks, dear Jeff, for this post!

On The Fence Voters

It’s happening folks. Once again, our media is dropping the ball. If you remember, about 11 years ago, not long after the inauguration of the first African-American president, a so-called ‘grassroots’ movement began that called itself the Tea Party. Supposedly, this group was immensely upset at what they saw as an out of control socialist government. We now know, of course, that the grassroots part of this equation was bogus. Much of the movement was financed and promoted by right-wing billionaires like the Koch Brothers and Fox News (Trump TV).

And now with most of the country shutdown trying to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, another so-called grassroots movement seems to be gathering steam. But is it really?

Media expert Eric Boehlert at PressRun has another take. When it comes to exposing media hypocrisy, nobody does it better than Eric. Here’s his take on what looks increasingly like what we saw…

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An Economic Wakeup Call

Our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters is more of an optimist these days than I am, and has more faith, I think, in the human species, but I like to think that his hopes for our future will bear fruit. Thank you, Jeff … perhaps I need a new glass, for I think mine has a hole in the bottom that prevents the glass from ever getting quite half full. Good post, my friend.

On The Fence Voters

Will the world demand a more humane economy after this crisis?

Wherever you stand on the current Covid-19 pandemic crisis, I think we can all agree that life as we know it has drastically changed. We can agree to disagree on whether the types of mitigation deployed by countries around the world, including our own, will work or not. Frankly, that’s for another day.

But the economic reality about to hit us is real and disconcerting. How we deal with the calamity going forward may define our society and culture for generations to come. I want to look at what we’re about to go through from a glass-half-empty, glass-half-full perspective.

The half-empty part of this equation is what we’re about to experience. The economic pain that’s coming is something our country hasn’t seen since the Great Depression. Time is of the essence, and the over $2 trillion dollar rescue package…

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Rules Rein in Our Worst Impulses

Jerry over at On the Fence Voters provides us with an introspective summary of our government today … and why we must make some changes soon.

On The Fence Voters

Before the bizarre 2016 presidential election, Alt-Right hero Steve Bannon wrote, “The Tea Party in the United States’ biggest fight is with the Republican establishment, which is really a collection of crony capitalists that feel that they have a different set of rules of how they’re going to comport themselves and how they’re going to run things.”

Bannon and his Alt-Right compatriots were ready and willing, but not quite able, to crush conventions, to eliminate the establishment, and to relegate long-established rules to a bygone era. One must destroy the status quo in order to build Utopia.

They just needed a bellicose bull to obliterate the china shop. And along came Donald Trump.

Bannon portrayed the defenders of the status quo—particularly within “the Republican establishment”—as “a collection of crony capitalists that feel that they have a different set of rules.” So Bannon and millions of like-minded Americans set about to…

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Lindsey’s Great Tirade …

There was a time I had some respect for Lindsey Graham.  However, since that time, he has fallen prey to the machinations of the far, far right movement and its current icon, Donald Trump, and I now find Lindsey to be despicable … and that was the kindest word I could come up with.

Lindsey used to be known for his willingness to be bipartisan and work with Democrats on many issues like campaign finance reform, line item veto, global warming, waterboarding ban, immigration reform and more.  In the beginning, he was opposed to the Tea Party movement, arguing for a more inclusive Republican Party.  After his own brief, unsuccessful run for president in 2015, he threw his support behind Jeb Bush, and when Bush dropped out, behind Ted Cruz.  He adamantly refused to support Donald Trump, and I applauded his values. But that was then, and this is now.Lindsey-Graham-4Since the 2016 election, Graham has become a boot-licker just like all the rest, often speaking out in defense of Trump, even when his actions are indefensible.  Last week during the Judiciary Committee hearing, Lindsay Graham decided to go into a tirade leveled at the democratic senators in the room, and by extension, all democrats.  Here are some snippets from that rant, along with my own snarky remarkys in blue:

“What you want to do is destroy this guy’s life, hold this seat open and hope you win in 2020.”  Wait just a damn minute, Linds … wasn’t that precisely what YOU did when President Obama nominated a candidate with integrity, Merrick Garland???  YOU wouldn’t even talk to him and held the seat open for one year and 58 days!

“This is the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics. And if you really wanted to know the truth, you sure as hell wouldn’t have done what you’ve done to this guy … y’all want power and I hope you don’t get it.  If you vote no, you are legitimizing the most despicable thing I’ve ever seen in my time in politics.”  The most unethical sham I see is your behavior, ranting and pointing fingers, blaming everyone except those who deserve the blame:  Trump & Kavanaugh & the unethical senators who are doing Trump’s bidding.

“This is going to destroy the ability of good people to come forward because of this crap – your high school yearbook.  You have interacted professional women all your life, not one accusation.  You’re supposed to be Bill Cosby when you’re a junior and senior in high school and all of a sudden you got over it. It’s been my understanding that if you drug women and rape them for two years in high school, you probably don’t stop.”  I thought your degree was in the field of Law, not Clinical Psychology?  It is your determination to push, shove and cram this nominee who, as we can see, has a problem controlling his temper, onto the bench of the highest court in the land that is the problem.  Mr. Kavanaugh has shown us multiple times in the past week how he reacts under pressure, and it is not what we would expect of a Supreme Court justice.

Graham’s performance was unhinged, irrational, and nakedly partisan.  But after his outburst, other republican senators began apologizing … apologizing to Kavanaugh!  Sarah Huckabee Sanders and doofus Eric Trump weighed in on Twitter …sanders-trump tweets

And it is reported that Melania Trump passed along a message that she was “very proud” of him, although we have only Graham’s word on that one. If Lindsey Graham is now the face of the Republican Party, either the party is doomed, or the nation is.  This is not the first complaint, however, that I have had about Lindsey.  In 2009, he supported a climate change bill along with democratic Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman.  Then in 2010, he withdrew his support, saying, “The science about global warming has changed. I think they’ve oversold this stuff, quite frankly. I think they’ve been alarmist and the science is in question. The whole movement has taken a giant step backward.”  Somewhere between 2009 & 2010, the Tea Party/Donald Trump brainwashing machine apparently got to him.

Lindsey Graham is showing his true colours and that he is a party minion rather than a man who is willing to stand for truth, justice, and equal rights.  Oh, and by the way, it might interest you to know that in May 2016, Graham made this statement:

“I think Donald Trump is going to places where very few people have gone and I’m not going with him.” 

And while he voted for independent candidate Evan McMullin, he did get on that train with Donald Trump and is now licking his boots and asking, “How high?” when Trump says “Jump!”

Shoot The Messenger???

The news on the street … well, okay, on the internet … is that the Freedom Caucus of the House of Representatives has prepared paperwork to propose impeachment proceedings against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.  Apparently, in light of his indictments against 12 Russians in the Robert Mueller investigation of Russian interference into the 2016 election, the House Freedom Caucus has decided to shoot the messenger rather than try to understand what happened two years ago.  Now, in preparation for this post, I did some research into the House Freedom Caucus (HFC) and the Tea Party movement and I turned over some facts that I found very interesting.

The Tea Party movement began almost immediately following Barack Obama’s first presidential inauguration (in January 2009) when his administration announced plans to give financial aid to bankrupt homeowners.  It is notable that this was one of the first things Trump reversed via executive order after he took office.  The driving force behind the movement was none other than David H. Koch of Koch brothers fame.  But here’s the really interesting thing … one of the things the party stands firmly in favour of is a reduction of the national debt and federal budget deficit.  The tax bill of December 2017 ensured the exact opposite of both of these goals!  Both debt and deficit have been increased and are projected to be ‘bigly’ increased over the coming decade.

Left to right:  Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows, Mick Mulvaney

The House Freedom Caucus was founded by none other than current Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Mick Mulvaney, and is currently chaired by Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina, consists of the following members:

Justin Amash Michigan
Joe Barton Texas
Andy Biggs Arizona
Rod Blum Iowa
Dave Brat Virginia
Mo Brooks Alabama
Ken Buck Colorado
Ted Budd North Carolina
Warren Davidson Ohio
Ron DeSantis Florida
Scott DesJarlais Tennessee
Jeff Duncan South Carolina
Matt Gaetz Florida
Tom Garrett Jr. Virginia]
Louie Gohmert Texas
Paul Gosar Arizona
Morgan Griffith Virginia
Andy Harris Maryland
Jody Hice Georgia
Jim Jordan Ohio
Raúl Labrador Idaho
Mark Meadows North Carolina
Alex Mooney West Virginia
Gary Palmer Alabama
Steve Pearce New Mexico
Scott Perry Pennsylvania
Bill Posey Florida
Mark Sanford South Carolina
David Schweikert Arizona
Randy Weber Texas
Ted Yoho Florida

These 31 men are the most radically conservative in the U.S. Congress, and they have been preparing the impeachment documents against Mr. Rosenstein since April, it is said.  Their focus on Rosenstein is explained by the fact that it is he to whom Robert Mueller reports on the status and results of the ongoing investigation into the election of 2016.  Initially, the investigation was to determine the extent to which Russia had interfered in the election and who was involved.  The investigation quickly expanded, however, as various members of the Trump campaign, and even some of his family members were found to have involvement.  The HFC is apparently feeling threatened by the mounting evidence and intends to shut the investigation down, one way or another.

The House Freedom Caucus has only 31 members, and 31 is not a majority in a House comprised of 435 members.  It would require the support of 187 additional members to pass, and that seems somewhat unlikely.  But then … there are an awful lot of boot-lickers these days who seem willing to sell their souls to support and protect the worst president in the history of the U.S.

Rosenstein, for his part, deserves a standing ovation.  He has stood his ground and been the voice of reason, perhaps the only voice of reason in this past week.  Here is a small part of his speech … you can read the full speech here if you are interested.

“We do not try cases on television or in congressional hearings. Most anonymous leaks are not from the government officials who are actually conducting these investigations. We follow the rule of law, which means that we follow procedures, and we reserve judgment. We complete our investigations, and we evaluate all of the relevant evidence before we reach any conclusion. That is how the American people expect their Department of Justice to operate, and that is how our department is going to operate.

The indictment was returned today because prosecutors determined that the evidence was sufficient to present these allegations to a federal grand jury. Our analysis is based solely on the facts, the law, and Department of Justice policies. I briefed President Trump about these allegations earlier this week. The president is fully aware of the department’s actions today.

There will always be adversaries who seek to exacerbate our divisions and try to confuse, divide, and conquer us. So long as we are united in our commitment to the values enshrined in the Constitution, they will not succeed. A partisan warfare fueled by modern technology does not fairly reflect the grace, dignity, and unity of the American people. The blame for election interference belongs to the criminals who commit election interference. We need to work together to hold the perpetrators accountable, and we need to keep moving forward to preserve our values, protect against future interference, and defend America.”

In addition to the data theft, hacked emails and computers of key people in the DNC, it has been determined that the Russians were responsible for hacking the website of a state election board and stealing information about 500,000 voters.  A half-million of us private citizens had our personal information stolen as part of a giant scheme to rig the election in favour of Donald Trump, and the republicans are mad at Rod Rosenstein???

I am going to be emailing my representatives tomorrow to inform them in no uncertain terms that I will break their kneecaps not stand silently by and allow this ridiculously blatant attempt to cover up a massive crime against the citizens of this nation!  I stand by Mr. Robert Mueller and Mr. Rod Rosenstein – possibly the only two men in Washington that have a conscience and are trying to do the right thing for the people of the U.S.

From Bad To Worse …

The first news I saw this morning was that Tillerson had been fired, which anybody with half a brain predicted months ago.  Now, Tillerson was highly unqualified for the job of Secretary of State, as I wrote in May 2017.  However, in defense of Mr. Tillerson, he was trying to learn his job, was trying, I think, to do the right thing.  Or perhaps I am only in his corner because he had the nerve to call Donald Trump a moron last October.

At any rate, Tillerson is out and in his place comes Mike Pompeo, who until today was the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  Now, I know that hearing me say what I’m about to say is getting old and you’re tired of hearing it, but hey … I’m not the one who keeps finding these people.  Mike Pompeo is highly unqualified to be in the position of Secretary of State.  Surprised, aren’t you?  Let’s take a brief look at ol’ Mikey …

He graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from West Point in 1986, and with a JD from Harvard Law School in 1994.  And what has he done since then?  He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 2011 until Trump tapped him for the CIA position almost immediately after the 2016 election.  His political views make him a perfect fit for the Trump ‘team’, for he leans far to the right and is or was a member of the “Tea Party” movement.  Let’s take a closer look … you may want to make sure you have an antacid close by …

On climate change and protecting the environment:

“There are scientists who think lots of different things about climate change. There’s some who think we’re warming, there’s some who think we’re cooling, there’s some who think that the last 16 years have shown a pretty stable climate environment.”  (Seriously?  It seems that I recall reading that 97% of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities.)

“Federal policy should be about the American family, not worshipping a radical environmental agenda.”  (Just how long do you think the American family will continue to exist if we don’t protect our home, the planet Earth, Mr. P?)

He also opposes the regulation of Greenhouse gas emissions by the United States, and supports eliminating the United States federal register of greenhouse gas emissions.  Are you beginning to understand why Trump picked him?

He has called for the permanent elimination of wind power production tax credits, calling them an “enormous government handout”.

Pompeo is a member of Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the conservative political advocacy group funded by the Koch brothers.  Their agenda, naturally, is to place as many far-right candidates in key Congressional positions as possible.  To that tune, during the 2014 election season, the Koch brothers, David and Charles, contributed nearly a half-million dollars to Pompeo’s campaign.  He signed the AFP’s “No Climate Tax” pledge …No climate tax pledgeAnd the AFP isn’t his only connection to the infamous Kochs.  In 1998, Pompeo co-founded Thayer Aerospace and Private Security, funded in part by investments by the Koch brothers.

He opposes same-sex marriage, opposes workplace protection for the LGBT community, which has earned him a zero rating with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).  But I know you’ll be happy to hear that he has an “A” rating with the National Rifle Association (NRA)!

Toward the latter part of his short tenure, Tillerson seemed to be stepping up to the plate, and only yesterday condemned Russia for the chemical attack against a former Russian spy in the UK – a stance that the Trump White House refused to take, and one that was likely the straw that broke the camel’s back for Tillerson’s tenure in the State Department.  Tillerson was not an ideal Secretary of State, but it is the opinion of this writer that Pompeo will be worse.  Trump has made a shambles of our relations with allies across the pond, and Pompeo is likely to support Trump blindly, causing even more rifts.  Pompeo has absolutely zero foreign policy experience, and has rigid, uncompromising views on human rights.  This is not what we need, especially as Trump heads to his first meeting with Kim Jong-un of North Korea.

Pompeo will have to be confirmed by the Senate, of course, but as we have seen in the past 14 months, that is a rubber stamp, as the republicans in the Senate continue to lick Trump’s boots.

American Civil War Redux

The new American Civil War is not about slavery, but it contains undertones of racism.  It is not neatly divided along an imaginary line such as the Mason-Dixon line, but the divide is a much finer line, splitting homes, schools, families, and workplaces.  As was the case in the 1860s, there is no middle ground.  There are no soldiers in uniforms carrying guns, yet, but there are the media, both mainstream and social.  I have dubbed this war ‘The Great Divide’, and not since the civil rights era has this nation been so ideologically divided.

Trump’s dilemma, of which he is seemingly unaware, is how to unite the people of this nation.  Trump claims that he did not create the divide, and in that he is right.  America has always had a political divide; one that was probably at its smallest in the years immediately following World War II, when the nation came together in relief and the beginnings of a new prosperity.  But since the origination of the so-called Tea Party movement in 2009, the divide has been growing exponentially.  Ostensibly, the movement is in opposition to excessive taxation and government intervention in the private sector while supporting stronger immigration controls.  But beneath the surface, there are undertones of bigotry.  The beginning of the movement can be traced back to 19 February 2009, less than a month after the inauguration of the nation’s first African-American president.

With the divisiveness generated by the dissatisfaction of those associated with the Tea Party movement, the gap between right and left, liberal and conservative, Republican and Democrat, began to widen.  The right swung farther to the right and the left pushed back by going farther to the left.  By the end of President Obama’s first term in 2013, there was no longer any noticeable middle ground, no moderates who might have been able to help bridge the gap.

During President Obama’s second term, the gap continued to widen, with Republicans in Congress determined to throw up barricades to any and all of the President’s policies, even those they agreed with in theory.  The term, A House Divided, came to be the reality of the U.S. government, with Congress accomplishing less and less each year, and the President barely able to direct any meaningful domestic policy.

Enter the 2016 election and one narcissistic, demagogue candidate whose only hope to win the election was to “divide and conquer”.  So no, Donald Trump did not cause the divide, however he widened the gap by a very large margin.  He ranted, lied, cheated and stole, figuring either that he would clean up the mess later, or that it would eventually take care of itself.  But guess what?  Since taking office, he has only added to the gap, without the slightest attempt to bring the two sides together.  Now, nearly one-third of the way through 2017, there is more hatred, more disruptiveness, more bigotry, and more divisiveness than at any time in the last 50 years.

Which brings me back to my original point:  Donald Trump has many problems facing him, however perhaps the biggest one is the society that he helped split into two radically differing sectors.  Yet, instead of attempting to be more moderate, to take into consideration the needs and ideologies of both sides, he is as a bulldozer, plowing his way through any who do not agree with him.  Those in his camp applaud, while those outside the camp only get angrier and feel more and more marginalized.

A president needs to be much more than a politician.  He must also be a statesman and a diplomat, for he answers to ALL the people, not just those of his party, not just those who voted for him, and not just those who nod their heads in agreement every time he opens his mouth.  He represents We The People, every single man, woman and child living in this nation, and if he forgets that, he is doomed to failure.  Donald Trump has not forgotten that … he just never understood it to begin with.

We have seen much destruction and devastation within our country in the past three months, and if Trump persists in his goals to build a wall, to deport refugees, to ban immigrants, to defund environmental protections, to defund public schools, to destroy the ACA, and to strip civil rights from minorities, there will indeed be a civil war in this nation.  Where President Obama worked toward creating transparency in government, Trump has pulled the curtains shut tightly.  Where President Obama sought inclusiveness for all, Trump’s policies are clearly exclusionary.

Thus far, the only thing that has halted major outbreaks of violence throughout the nation is the expectation by those of us on the left that the investigations into the Russian connections of Trump and his gang will ultimately result in charges of treason, and Trump will be impeached.  In the event that those investigations are somehow stifled, or go by the wayside without satisfactory results, there will be an internal war in the United States.  There will be riots such as have not been seen in 50 years, families will be split asunder, and people will die.

I gave this much thought before writing this post, and searched my own soul, asking myself if I was being an alarmist.  The end result, after weeks of thought, is that no, I am not an alarmist.  I am, just as I have always been, a realist.  I talk to people on both sides of the invisible fence, and I know that both are spoiling for a fight. And the Great Divide goes well beyond politics, beyond even ideology … it goes to the core of who we are.

At this point, there are no simple solutions, no panaceas, and it will require more than our elected representatives can do to fix the problem. It will require that each of us, no matter which side of the partisan aisle we support, find it in our hearts to remember our humanitarianism, to be flexible, to be willing to meet the other halfway.  However, Trump and Congress must be the drivers of any possible solution. If they fail to understand the magnitude of the problem, if they ignore the problem and further divide the nation, if they discount We The People, they have only themselves to blame for being short-sighted.  They will pay the price at the polls next year, but we will pay in the streets this year.  Think about it.