Something To Consider …

I first saw Fareed Zakaria several years ago on George Stephanopoulos’ Sunday morning show, This Week. The man impressed me with his intellect and reasonableness at the time, and he still does, although I frequently disagree with him on certain issues.  Mr. Zakaria is a journalist, political scientist and author whose political ideology defies description, as he is mostly considered to be a centrist, but has in some cases been labeled a conservative, and at other times a liberal.

The word ‘impeachment’ has been bandied around a lot lately, and I am one who has used it more than a few times.  I have urged caution, but since the release of the Mueller report am leaning more toward the idea, though I still believe it is prudent to take time, for it’s a one-shot thing, and right at this moment, I believe it would be destined to fail.

Yesterday, I came across an editorial written by Mr. Zakaria in The Washington Post that gave me food for thought.  I have not yet decided to what extent I agree with him, but … I think it’s important for us to keep an open mind and I must admit that much of what he says is valid and makes sense.  So, I share this with you today in hopes you will at least give it a bit of thought.


Democrats, There’s A Better Strategy Than Impeachment

Fareed ZakariaBy Fareed Zakaria

Columnist

April 25 at 5:34 PM

Consider, for a moment, what the growing talk of impeachment among Democrats sounds like to the tens of millions of people who voted for President Trump. Many of them supported him because they felt ignored, mocked and condescended to by the country’s urban, educated and cosmopolitan elites — especially lawyers and journalists. So what happens when their guy gets elected? These same elites pursue a series of maneuvers to try to overturn the results of the 2016 election. It would massively increase the class resentment that feeds support for the president. It would turn the topic away from his misdeeds and toward the Democrats’ overreach and obsessions. And ultimately, of course, it would fail — two-thirds of this Republican-controlled Senate would not vote to convict him — allowing Trump to brandish his “acquittal” as though it were a gold medal.

I know, I know, many argue passionately that this is not a political affair but rather a moral and legal one. After reading the Mueller report, they say, Congress has no option but to fulfill its obligation and impeach Trump. But this view misunderstands impeachment entirely. It is, by design, an inherently political process, not a legal one. That’s why the standard used — “high crimes and misdemeanors” — is not one used in criminal procedures. And that is why the decision is entrusted to a political body, Congress, not the courts.

In 1970, when he was House minority leader, Gerald Ford provided the most honest definition of an impeachable offense: “whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.” Of the three cases in the United States’ past, history’s judgment is that only one — the impeachment proceedings against President Richard M. Nixon — was wholly justified. President Andrew Johnson’s decision to fire his secretary of war — clearly lawful — should not have led to his impeachment. The same is true for President Bill Clinton’s failed Whitewater land deal, which triggered an independent counsel inquiry that went into completely unrelated arenas and used questionable methods of investigation.

Harvard Law School’s Noah Feldman points out that neither history nor the framers’ intent yields clear lessons on the topic. “It’s quite possible that many founders would have supported impeachment for serious substantive matters like the usurpation of power by the president. By that standard, would [Abraham] Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus, FDR’s internment of the Japanese Americans or [Lyndon] Johnson’s massive expansion of the Vietnam War all have been impeachable offenses? Possibly.” But these presidents were not impeached because Congress and the country exercised political judgment. And that is why it is entirely appropriate for Democrats to think this through politically.

For some Democrats, impeachment talk might be a smart, if cynical, short-term calculation. If you are running for the Democratic nomination and languishing in the polls, it is a way to get attention. If you are consolidating your support with the party’s base, the more fiercely anti-Trump you are, the better. But all these moves work only as long as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) slow-rolls the process and stops it from getting out of hand. Others can be irresponsible on the assumption that Pelosi will be responsible. But what if things snowball, as they often do in politics?

The Democrats have a much better path in front of them. They should pursue legitimate investigations of Trump, bring in witnesses and release documentary proof of wrongdoing, providing a national education about the way Trump has operated as president. But they should, at the same time, show the public that they would be a refreshing contrast to Trump — substantive, policy-oriented, civil and focused on the country, not on their narrow base. America is tired of the circus of Trump. That doesn’t mean they want the circus of the House Democrats.

The president is vulnerable. With strong economic numbers, he has astonishingly low approval ratings. He will likely run his 2020 campaign on cultural nationalism, as he did in 2016. Democrats need to decide what their vision will be. That should be their focus, not the unfounded hope that if they pursue impeachment, somehow a series of miracles will take place — a deeply divided country will coalesce around them, and Republicans will finally abandon their president.

The real challenge the Democrats face goes beyond Trump. It is Trumpism — a right-wing populism that has swelled in the United States over the past decade. Surely the best way to take it on is to combat it ideologically and defeat it electorally. That is the only way to give the Democrats the real prize, which is not Trump’s scalp but the power and legitimacy to forge a governing majority.

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They Just Keep Coming … Snarky Snippets

While I’ve always been known for having a quick comeback, and rarely at a loss for words, sometimes snarky, acerbic words, I have never in all my life had as much cynicism and snarkiness bubbling from my being as I do these days!  I hope you aren’t tiring yet of snarky snippets, for they just keep rolling right off my fingertips!  Whatever will I do if things ever return to a semi-normal state in this world?sarcasm-quote-1


Surely you jest!

This morning, when I opened The Washington Post’s website, the first headline I saw was this:

With social program fights, some in GOP fear being seen as the party of the 1 percent

And I darn near choked on my coffee!  “Seen as the party of the 1 percent”?  No, they are the party of the 1%!

“A spate of policy moves in recent weeks by Republican lawmakers and Trump administration officials has driven the party’s agenda hard to the right, giving new fodder to Democratic presidential candidates eager to shift the national debate to such issues as health care and jobs ahead of the 2020 election.

The administration’s budget released this month, for example, includes massive rollbacks of programs including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security Disability Insurance, as well as cuts to the Special Olympics, Meals on Wheels, and programs related to autism and other developmental disabilities.

The policy blitz reflects the deeply conservative agenda at the core of Trump’s administration. It is led by many influential aides and appointees who are unflinching ideologues, even as Trump prefers to call himself a “nationalist” or a businessman with “common sense.”

Coupled with fallout from the 35-day government shutdown that ended in January and a GOP tax plan that delivered major benefits to the wealthy, Republicans once again find themselves on the defensive — fending off Democrats who say they’re not just the party of Trump but also of the rich and powerful.”

class-systemThus far, ever since 2010, I have not seen so much as an ounce of compassion for those who are, shall we say, less than wealthy, from the Republican Party.  I think that what Bill O’Reilly said after the Las Vegas massacre speaks their motto best:  “This is the price of freedom.” No, republicans, this is the price for letting a bunch of greedy, wealthy old men run the country.


Who does he think he is???

Did you hear that Trump wants The Washington Post and the New York Times to have their Pulitzer prizes rescinded?  Why?  Because the joint prize was awarded for their coverage of the Mueller investigation.  Ahem. Who does he think he is and in what country does he think he is living?  Would one of his staff please slap his face a few times and wake him up?

“So funny that The New York Times & The Washington Post got a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage (100% NEGATIVE and FAKE!) of Collusion with Russia – And there was No Collusion! So, they were either duped or corrupt? In any event, their prizes should be taken away by the Committee!”

fascism.jpgThe New York Times’ communications team tweeted: “We’re proud of our Pulitzer-prize winning reporting on Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. Every @nytimes article cited has proven accurate.”

Don Junior re-tweeted Trump’s tweet … of course … he is naught but a parrot.


NEVER another Trump in the White House!!!

Kushner IncSpeaking of Junior … a new book was published two weeks ago by British-born author Vicky Ward, titled Kushner, Inc., about Jared and Ivanka’s “rise to power”.  I have not read the book, nor am I likely to, but one thing I found interesting in the synopsis I read is that Junior and Ivanka are in a bit of a dispute … over which will be the next Trump in the White House.  I was horrified!  One Trump in the White House has been one too many!  NEVER AGAIN!!! 

According to the summary of the book …

“Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are the self-styled Prince and Princess of America. Their swift, gilded rise to extraordinary power in Donald Trump’s White House is unprecedented and dangerous. In Kushner, Inc., investigative journalist Vicky Ward digs beneath the myth the couple has created, depicting themselves as the voices of reason in an otherwise crazy presidency, and reveals that Jared and Ivanka are not just the President’s chief enablers: they, like him, appear disdainful of rules, of laws, and of ethics. They are entitled inheritors of the worst kind; their combination of ignorance, arrogance, and an insatiable lust for power has caused havoc all over the world, and may threaten the democracy of the United States.jared-ivankaWard follows their trajectory from New Jersey and New York City to the White House, where the couple’s many forays into policy-making and national security have mocked long-standing U.S. policy and protocol. They have pursued an agenda that could increase their wealth while their actions have mostly gone unchecked. In Kushner, Inc., Ward holds Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump accountable: she unveils the couple’s self-serving transactional motivations and how those have propelled them into the highest levels of the US government where no one, the President included, has been able to stop them.”

Go figure.


Betsy, Betsy, Betsy … 🙄

Ms. DeVos may have been thrown under the bus regarding her budget line that would have de-funded the Special Olympics, but that doesn’t stop her from coming up with still more really ridiculous ideas.  The latest?  She has decided, contrary to decades of study and data, that a higher student-to-teacher ratio (ie., larger classes, fewer teachers) is actually better for students.  But then, remember, this is the same woman who long ago advocated guns in classrooms in case of a bear attack!

“There is no evidence that the Federal taxpayer investments in existing professional development programs or class-size reduction have meaningfully improved student outcomes. In fact, students may be better served by being in larger classes, if by hiring fewer teachers, a district or state can better compensate those who have demonstrated high ability and outstanding results.”

When asked where she got that information, DeVos was unable to cite any research or study.  Take a look for yourself

And THIS is the Secretary of Education???  Seriously???  Oh my aching head.


Okay folks, I’ve taken up enough of your weekend, so I now return you to your regularly scheduled … or preferably spontaneous … weekend activities!  Have fun!

Nothing To Hide???

We’ve all done some dumb things in our time, for me probably as recently as yesterday or even an hour ago!  But if asked, I will tell you about it and either laugh along with you or hang my head in shame.  Either way, I won’t go to great lengths to keep it a secret.  I’ll even tell you that I failed Biology in high school.  It was not my first, nor would it be my last act of rebellion, but I almost never went to class, for I absolutely refused to cut open earthworms or frogs.  Instead, I hung out in the boys’ bathroom and smoked.  I will also confess to having smoked marijuana a few times in my earlier days … if I had liked it, I would likely still be smoking it, but I hated it!

I may have some things that I’m not exactly proud of in my past, and likely you do too, but I have to ask why the leader of a nation would go to great lengths to keep his high school transcript out of the public eye.  We already know he isn’t the brightest bulb in the pack, contrary to him calling himself a ‘genius’.

According to a report in yesterday’s Washington Post,  in 2011 a group of “prominent, wealthy alumni” had requested Trump’s academic records from New York Military Academy, and the school’s Board of Trustees intended to hand said records over to this group, who said they wanted to ensure the records remained secret.  In other words, his high school transcript would have been buried.  Superintendent Jeffrey Coverdale refused the request but did relocate the records to another area where they could not be released upon request.  Now … why???  This was 2011, the year he considered running against President Barack Obama in the 2012 election.

To this day, Mr. Coverdale refuses to release Trump’s transcripts or to identify the people who ordered him to pull them from his files, saying …

“I don’t want to get into anything with these guys. You have to understand, these were millionaires and multimillionaires on the board, and the school was going through some troubles. But to hear, ‘You will deliver them to us?’ That doesn’t happen. This was highly unusual.”

Seems to me that just about everything having to do with Trump is “highly unusual”.genius-2.jpgWe already know that there were disciplinary problems associated with Trump, such as the time he attempted to shove another cadet out a second-story window.  To add fuel to the fire, or more likely smoldering remains, there was Michael Cohen’s testimony last week that Trump ordered him “to threaten his high school, his colleges and the College Board to never release his grades or SAT scores”.

After the military academy, where we can only speculate that he did manage to graduate, he spent two years at Fordham University.  Michael Cohen, under Trump’s orders, wrote to the administration at Fordham, demanding that that the records be “permanently sealed” and said any release was “criminality,” which “will lead to jail time.”  In addition, Fordham officials confirmed Cohen’s letter, and said they had also received a phone call from Trump’s campaign.  Why???

After Fordham, he attended University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton business program.  While Trump claims he was “first in my class”, his name does not appear on the school’s dean’s list or on the list of students who received academic honors in his class of 1968, giving rise to the lie in his claim.  Why???

See, when somebody lies about something like this, it leaves the door wide open for speculation.  One could think, perhaps, that he had the lowest grades in the military academy and that his daddy bought his diploma.  Or, one could think, as I have previously speculated, that he rarely even attended classes at Wharton, and that daddy bought his degree, just as he bought his military deferments.  Or, one could even wonder if Trump ever actually attended the first class at Wharton and daddy made a special ‘deal’ for a degree to be signed, sealed, and delivered for an unspecified amount of money.  One’s imagination can just run wild when secrets are kept and lies are told.

There is definitely something fishy here.  But the real joke is Trump himself.  For a man who claims to be a ‘genius’, he is pretty damn stupid.  He has taken extraordinary and suspicious measures to keep his school records secret, but here’s what he said about President Obama …

“I heard he was a terrible student, terrible. How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard? I’m thinking about it, I’m certainly looking into it. Let him show his records. I have friends who have smart sons with great marks, great boards, great everything and they can’t get into Harvard. We don’t know a thing about this guy. There are a lot of questions that are unanswered about our president.”

For the record, Barack Obama graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and was the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. That’s magna cum laude, the second highest academic honour.  You and I know Trump did not fare nearly as well, or we would be hearing about it daily, if not hourly.  After all … look at this tweet from 2013 trump-tweet-geniusThe epitome of arrogance.  Now, there are two questions I leave you with today:

First, why is he going to such lengths to ensure that the people of this nation do not see his academic records?  We already know he is no genius, we already know his daddy used his money to buy privileges for his boy, so to find that he had lousy grades, disciplinary problems and poor attendance would be no surprise.  He plays only to his base, and the majority of them likely have some poor grades in their own record.  So … why?  Which leads to the next, and most important question …

What else is he hiding?  He has steadfastly refused to release his tax returns – what would we find there?  If he would hide something as minor as his academic records, then it is a certainty that he has deeper, darker secrets.  Has daddy bought him out of trouble other than the financial sort?  We already know he has a problem keeping wee willie winkie in his pants and has sexually abused women in the past.  Could it be he was accused or rape even before he became a public persona, perhaps while still in school, and daddy paid to have it covered up?  genius-1Speculation?  Sure, but when you hide things that are relatively innocuous, people are going to speculate as to what else you’re hiding.  Are there secrets being hidden with the help of his wealthy donors that would ensure his removal from office, or perhaps even ensure him a cell next to Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen?  Think about it.

ASSAULT! … On Freedom of the Press

Donald Trump on Tuesday said he told White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders “not to bother” with press briefings anymore.

“The reason Sarah Sanders does not go to the ‘podium’ much anymore is that the press covers her so rudely & inaccurately, in particular certain members of the press. I told her not to bother, the word gets out anyway! Most will never cover us fairly & hence, the term, Fake News!”

Olivier Knox, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, decried the growing infrequency of press briefings in a statement Tuesday, warning that the trend could set a dangerous precedent …

“While other avenues exist to obtain information, the robust, public back-and-forth we’ve come to expect in the James A. Brady briefing room helps highlight that no one in a healthy republic is above being questioned.”

This headline from The Washington Post seems fairly accurate …

The White House has transitioned from daily press briefings to monthly press beratings

Here’s what happens, folks, when an autocrat moves in and tries to assume power.  Little things, like repeatedly calling the free press the “enemy of the people”.  Little things like pulling a reporter’s press credentials because he asked tough questions.  Little things like calling every legitimate news story “fake news”.  Pretty soon, it seems commonplace and before long nobody thinks much about it.  Oh, those daily press briefings only happen on rare occasions now?  Hmmm … hadn’t noticed.

The first step on the path to authoritarianism is to make sure the press never has the whole story to tell the people.  Make it hard for them to get information, maybe even toss out a few scraps of false information.  Close the blinds and paint over the windows … no need for transparency … nothing to see here, folks.

The New York Times, which is not, by the way, the “failing” New York Times, as Trump has claimed, published a list:  The 551 People, Places and Things Donald Trump Has Insulted on Twitter: A Complete List  

Let us take a look at just the things he has tweeted about the mainstream media in general (just skim the list, for it is mostly repetitive, but I wanted you to see the volume of his denigration)

 “Fake News Media”“Fake News Media!”“Fake News”“Fake News Media”“Fake News”“FAKE”“Fake News”“tries so hard to paint the opposite picture”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Never in the history of our Country has the “press” been more dishonest than it is today”“Stories that should be good, are bad”“Stories that should be bad, are horrible”“bad!”“Fake News”“Fake News”“has it purposely wrong”“Please report news correctly”“Fake News”“Fake News Media”“totally out of its mind”“truly the Enemy of the People!”“Fake News Media”“FAKE NEWS”“THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”“Fake News”“disgusting Fake News”“Fake News”“Fake Media”“FAKE NEWS”“They never like to ask me for a quote b/c it would kill their story”“Fake News Media”“Fake News”“Fake News”“FAKE NEWS”“the Enemy of the People!”“Fake News”“FAKE NEWS MEDIA, crazy”“always seeking to make us look as bad as possible”“Very dishonest!”“Fake News!”“Nasty”“Hostile”“FAKE NEWS!”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Disgraceful!”“Fake News”“keep purposely and inaccurately reporting that I said the “Media is the Enemy of the People.””“Fake News”“Enemy of the People”“false information not good!”“Fake News”“Enemy of the People”“dishonest reporters”“Fake News”“Fake News, Fake & Dishonest reporting”“inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting of the news”“Fake News Media”“the true Enemy of the People”“Fake News, Fake & Dishonest reporting”“purposely false and inaccurate reporting”“Fake News”“so bad and hateful that it is beyond description”“Fake News”“FAKE NEWS!”“FAKE NEWS (of which there is plenty)!”“Fake News”“Fake News”“hates to discuss the real facts!”“Fake News”“going Crazy – & they don’t know what to do”“going CRAZY!”“constant and intense Fake News”“totally dishonest”“Truth doesn’t matter to them”“they only have their hatred & agenda”“This includes fake books, which come out about me all the time, always anonymous sources, and are pure fiction”“Enemy of the People!”“Fake News”“They love to portray chaos in the White House when they know that chaos doesn’t exist”“Fake Reporting”“Fake News!”“fiction!”“Fake”“made up stories”“Fake News”“trying endlessly to make me look as bad and evil as possible”“Fake News”“worked hard to get Tiger Woods to say something that he didn’t want to say”“phony story”“Fake News Media!”“Fake News, of which there is soooo much”“Fake News”“the Enemy of the People”“So bad for America!”“Fake News”“don’t watch at all”“THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY”“very bad for our Great Country”“much of what it says is FAKE NEWS, pushing a political agenda or just plain trying to hurt people”“Fake News!”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Fake News”“hates me saying that they are the Enemy of the People only because they know it’s TRUE”“purposely cause great division & distrust”“very dangerous & sick!”“Fake News”“refuses to report the lies and corruption having to do with the Rigged Witch Hunt”“FAKE NEWS!”“FAKE NEWS”“the enemy of the people!”“Fake News Media”“going CRAZY!”“totally unhinged”“In 7 years, when I am no longer in office, their ratings will dry up and they will be gone!”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Enemy of the People”“driven insane by their Trump Derangement Syndrome”“Very unpatriotic!”“anti-Trump haters”“dying”“they try to distract and cover it up”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Corrupt”“Fake News”“always anonymous sources”“Wrong”“Fake News, Hypocrites!”“Fake News”“going Crazy!, They make up stories without any backup, sources or proof”“total fiction”“Fake News”“wants so badly to see a major confrontation with Russia”“the real enemy of the people”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Fake News”“going Crazy!”“Fake News”“it is FAKE NEWS!”“the enemy of the people”“Fake News”“doesn’t want to report the truth”“Fake News”“constantly likes to pore over my tweets looking for a mistake”“Fake News is working overtime!”“Fake Media”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Total corruption”“Fake News”“the enemy of the people”“Fake News”“they put their own spin on it – truth doesn’t matter to them!”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Fake News”“only shows the bad photos”“Fake News”“once again, WRONG!”“Fake News!”“Fake News”“Our Country’s biggest enemy”“Fake News”“easily promulgated by fools!”“Fake News”“so unfair, and vicious”“Fake”“Fake News is really bad!”“Fake News”“desperate to distract from the economy and record setting economic numbers”“Fake News”“corrupt”“working overtime not to mention the infiltration of people, Spies (Informants), into my campaign!”“Corrupt”“Fake”“run the most highly sophisticated & dishonest Disinformation Campaign in the history of politics”“No matter how well WE do, they find fault”“corrupt”“Fake News”“Fake News”“got it purposely wrong, as usual!”“Fake News”“Fake News”“got it purposely wrong, as usual!”“Fake News”“made up, unsourced stories”“Fake News”“Much of the Media may be corrupt”“Fake News”“Fake News”“a disgrace!”“The Fake News is working overtime”“Fake”“Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt? Take away credentials?”“FAKE NEWS”“Fake News”“going crazy making up false stories and using only unnamed sources (who don’t exist)”“totally unhinged”“the great success of this Administration is making them do and say things that even they can’t believe they are saying”“Truly bad people!”“Fake News”“going ‘bonkers!’”“so silent”“Fake & Disgusting News to create ill will!”“93% bad stories”“Fake News Media”“phony an dishonest press”“Fake News”“Fools”“Fake News Media”“Much of the media is a Scam!”“Fake News Media”“phony stories”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Fake News”“dishonest and corrupt!”“Fake News”“among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with”“So much Fake News”“Never been more voluminous or more inaccurate”“Fake News Media”“crazed”“They are wrong!”“Fake News”“beside themselves that McCabe was caught, called out and fired”“Fake News Media”“they are lying”“Turn off the show – FAKE NEWS!”“being mocked all over the world”“They’ve gone CRAZY!”“Total Fake News!”“Fake News Media”“Fake News Media”“Fake News Media”“approval ratings are correctly at their lowest levels in history!”“untruthful”“Fake reporting”“FAKE NEWS”“very corrupt”“dishonest”“Fake News”“talks about anything negative or that can be turned into the negative”“contrived!”“So much Fake News is being reported”“They don’t even try to get it right, or correct it when they are wrong”“crazed that WE won the election!”“Fake News”“Fake News”“corrupt & biased”“losers”“lapdogs”“Fake News Mainstream Media”“screaming mental stability and intelligence”“Fake News”“Fake News”“DISHONEST”“CORRUPT”“Dishonesty & Bad Reporting”“Fake News”“very dishonest”“Fake News”“VERY dishonest”“unfair”“Fake News Media”“Phony and non-existent ‘sources’ are being used more often than ever”“Many stories & reports a pure fiction!”“Fake News”“loves to talk about my so-called low approval rating”“massive negative Trump coverage”“The Fake News”“refuses to talk about how Big and how Strong our BASE is”“They show Fake Polls just like they report Fake News”“only negative reporting”“Fake News”“Fake”“the Fake Mainstream Media will NEVER talk about our accomplishments in their end of year reviews”“Fake News Media”“Fake News Hate Shows”“Fake News”“working overtime to follow the lead of their friends, the defeated Dems”“Fake News Media”“untrue stories”“has become a joke!”“Fake News”“purposely false and defamatory stories”“Fake News Media”“They are out of control”“correct reporting means nothing to them”“Major lies written”“a stain on America!”“Fake News!”“Fake News”“FAKE NEWS!”“dishonest”“corrupt”“distorted in its political coverage of your favorite President (me)”“They are all bad”“FAKE NEWS”“their ratings are terrible, nobody cares!”“Fake News”“#FakeNews”“They are wrong”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Disgraceful!”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Fake News”“FABRICATE STORIES ABOUT ME”“FAKE NEWS”“Lost cred”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Fake News”“going crazy”“Fake”“Fake News”“Fiction writers!”“Fake News”“has become so partisan, distorted and fake”“licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked”“going all out in order to demean and denigrate!”“Such hatred!”“Fake News”“story is totally made up”“dishonest”“Fake News”“one-sided coverage”“Fake News Networks”“just made up”“FAKE!”“Fake”“Fake News”“No matter what I do or say, they will not write or speak truth”“Fake News”“out of control!”“Fake News”“Fake News”“working overtime in Puerto Rico doing their best to take the spirit away from our soldiers and first R’s”“Shame!”“Fake News”“#FakeNews!”“Because of #FakeNews my people are not getting the credit they deserve”“FAKE NEWS”“anti-Trump”“Collusion?”“Fake News”“totally biased”“dishonest”“Fake News”“they know nothing about me & have zero access”“#FAKE NEWS!”“false reporting”“dying magazines”“Fake News”“Fake News”“a platform to hate groups”“turns a blind eye to the gang violence on our streets!”“Fake News”“very dishonest, Fake News”“worst”“dishonest”“Fake News reporting”“Fake News”“dishonest”“Fake News”“totally misrepresent what I say about hate, bigotry etc. Shame!”“Fake News”“truly bad people!”“Fake News Suppression Polls!”“Fake News”“refuses to report the success of the first 6 months”“phony”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Fake News”“TOTALLY UNTRUE”“Fake News”“Fake News!”“Fake News”“Purposely phony reporting.”“Fake News”“Fake News”“LEAKS”“FAKE NEWS”“Fake News”“sick”“Fake News”“becoming more and more dishonest”“Even a dinner arranged for top 20 leaders in Germany is made to look sinister!”“Fake”“phony”“unnamed sources”“highly slanted”“fraudulent reporting”“#Fake”“DISTORTING DEMOCRACY in our country!”“when you hear the words “sources say” from the Fake Media, often times those sources are made up and do not exist”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Fake News”“will never cover me accurately but who cares!”“dishonest”“FAKE”“FRAUDULENT”“working hard to convince Republicans and others I should not use social media”“#FakeNews”“Fake News”“likes to say that I am not totally engaged in healthcare”“Wrong”“Fake News”“Fake”“hates when I use what has turned out to be my very powerful Social Media”“made up a phony collusion with the Russians story”“has never been so wrong or so dirty”“Purposely incorrect stories”“phony sources”“agenda of hate”“Sad!”“at an all time high”“Where is their apology to me for all of the incorrect stories???”“#FakeNews”“report the great economic news since Election Day”“FAKE”“working so hard trying to get me not to use Social Media”“They hate that I can get the honest and unfiltered message out”“Fake”“Fake”“works hard at disparaging & demeaning my use of social media because they don’t want America to hear the real story!”“fabricated lies”“#FakeNews”“fake”“fake”“#FakeNews”“Fake”“Fake”“Fake”“fake”“fake”“#FakeNews!”“Fake”“FAKE”“Fake”“did everything in its power to make the Republican Healthcare victory look as bad as possible”“Fake”“rarely reports Ocare is on its last legs”“Fake”“officially out of control”“will do or say anything in order to get attention”“FAKE”“refuses to state our long list of achievements”“fake”“FAKE”“almost always negative”“FAKE”“BAD!”“Fake Media (not Real Media)”“has gotten even worse since the election”“Every story is badly slanted”“Fake News”“Fake News”“now pushing the phony Russia story”“vicious”“inaccurate”“Fake News”“FAKE NEWS”“rude”“FAKE NEWS”“Russia talk is FAKE NEWS put out by the Dems, and played up by the media”“FAKE NEWS”“knowingly doesn’t tell the truth”“A great danger to our country”“Sad!”“FAKE NEWS”“fake news”“Fake”“FAKE NEWS”“the enemy of the American People!”“FAKE”“Dishonest”“FAKE NEWS”“makes up stories and ‘sources,’”“fading fast!”“fake news”“going crazy with their conspiracy theories and blind hatred”“FAKE NEWS, Very dishonest!”“FAKE NEWS”“lies!”“lied”“Very dishonest”“dishonest”“Dishonest”“fake!”“Dishonest”“Terrible!”“dishonest”“lies”“dishonest”“More dishonest than anyone knows”“distorted and inaccurate”“Serious bias – big problem!”“crooked”“typically false”“Very unfair!”“Very dishonest”“We are winning and the press is refusing to report it”“Don’t let them fool you”“in the tank for Clinton”“refuses to talk about the three new national polls that have me in first place”“has deceived the public by putting women front and center with made-up stories and lies”“dishonest”“distorted”“rigging election!”“rigging election!”“pushing false and unsubstantiated charges, and outright lies”“dishonest”“So dishonest!”“want me out of the race so badly”“totally one-sided “spin””“VERY dishonest”“just made up lies!”“never covered Hillary’s massive “hacking” or coughing attack”“It is being reported by virtually everyone, and is a fact, that the media pile on against me is the worst in American political history!”“dishonest”“corrupt”“dishonest”“My rallies are not covered properly”“never discuss the real message”“disgusting”“corrupt”“dishonest”“desperate to distract from Clinton’s anti-2A stance”“totally distort so many things on purpose”“Very dishonest!”“very dishonest”“totally biased”“distorted”“one-sided”“biased”“dishonest”“dishonest”“coverage this morning of the very average Clinton speech and Convention is a joke”“phony”“dishonest”“will find a good spinnnn!”“biased”“spending more time doing a forensic analysis of Melania’s speech than the FBI spent on Hillary’s emails”“so dishonest”“If I make a statement, they twist it and turn it to make it sound bad or foolish”“They think the public is stupid!”“Dishonest”“trying their absolute best to depict a star in a tweet as the Star of David rather than a Sheriff’s Star, or plain star!”“so totally biased”“dishonesty”“one big lie!”“totally biased”“biased”“phony”“on a new phony kick about my management style”“dishonest”“dishonest”“disgusting”“really on a witch-hunt against me”“False reporting, and plenty of it”“pushing the false narrative that I want to raise taxes”“unfair”“has not covered my long-shot great finish in Iowa fairly”“able to so incorrectly define a word for the public”“sad!”“dishonest reporters!”“dishonest”“always tough when they falsify”“won’t report!”“dishonest”“wants to surrender constitutional rights”“they only want negatives”“will not report the highly respected new national poll that just came out”“how will the media put a negative spin on this one?”“troublemakers”“despite the[ir] best efforts, the people are speaking loudly and clearly”“totally dishonest”“So sad!”“lies”

WHEW!  And that doesn’t include the filth he has spewed about virtually every journalist and media outlet who has ever criticized him.  Look back throughout history … has any president of the United States ever spoken so?  I think not.  Thus far he has stopped short of actually having journalists jailed, as other autocrats such as Putin and Erdoğan have done, but what he is doing is only one step short of that.  Never before in any democratic nation has a leader been so irresponsible in his dealing with the press.  And now, he has told the Press Secretary to ‘not bother’ communicating with the press, not bother providing information that enables We The People to know what our government is doing.

Remember last July, when Trump spoke to the VFW annual convention in Kansas City, where he said …

“Stick with us. Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news. … What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”

Believe, in other words, only what he tells you to believe.  Believe only what the man who lies virtually every time he opens his mouth, tells you to believe.  Lies are truth, truth is ‘fake’.

Without a free press, folks, our boat is sunk.  Without a free press, we will live under a dictatorship.  Donald Trump was given the keys to the White House without the majority approval.  He has occupied that house illegitimately for two years now, and in that two years he has made a mockery of many of our institutions, many of our freedoms and protections, and the very foundation of our government, the document he took an oath, swearing to “preserve, protect and defend”.

No more daily press briefings.  Trump will tweet you what you need to know.  Nope, nothing to see here, folks …

President Arrested!!!

Amidst the ongoing debate in Washington circles and around the nation about whether or not a sitting president can be indicted or charged with a crime, I came across this tidbit of a time a president was, indeed, arrested.  There’s some humour here, and as I thought we could all stand to take a bit of a break from the ongoing bleakness that pervades our newsfeed on a daily … nay, hourly … basis.

This came from an article in the Retropolis section of The Washington Post and was written by Michael S. Rosenwald …

In 1872, while president, Grant was arrested at the corner of 13th and M streets in Washington. This was not a high crime, but it was — at least theoretically speaking — a misdemeanor.Grant-arrestedThe man who led the North to victory in the Civil War was busted for speeding in his horse-drawn carriage.

The story of his arrest — confirmed a few years ago by Cathy L. Lanier, who was then the District’s police chief — was told in a remarkable but obviously forgotten story in the Sept. 27, 1908, edition of the Washington Evening Star under the headline: “Only Policeman Who Ever Arrested a President.”

That policeman was William H. West, a black man who had fought in the Civil War.

“Since his retirement,” the story said, “he has decided to let the public know the true story of the arrest.”

It begins with Grant’s love of fast horses.

“Gen. Grant was an ardent admirer of a good horse and loved nothing better than to sit behind a pair of spirited animals,” the Star story said. “He was a good driver, and sometimes ‘let them out’ to try their mettle.”

And that’s where Grant, as president, rode into the law.

The police had been receiving complaints of speeding carriages. After a mother and child were run over and badly injured, Officer West was dispatched to investigate. As West spoke to witnesses, another group of speeding carriages headed toward him — including one driven by the president of the United States.

“Policeman West held up his hand for them to stop,” the story said. “Grant was driving a pair of fast steppers and he had some difficulty in halting them, but this he managed to do.”

Grant was a bit testy.

“Well, officer,” he said, “what do you want with me?”

West replied: “I want to inform you, Mr. President, that you are violating the law by speeding along this street. Your fast driving, sir, has set the example for a lot of other gentlemen.”

The president apologized, promised it wouldn’t happen again, and galloped away.

But Grant could not curb his need for speed.

The next evening, West was patrolling at the corner of 13th and M streets when the president came barreling through again, this time speeding so fast that it took him an entire block to stop.

Now Grant was cocky and had a “smile on his face,” the Star article said, that made him look like “a schoolboy who had been caught in a guilty act by a teacher.”

He said, “Do you think, officer, that I was violating the speed laws?”

“I do, Mr. President,” West said.

Grant had an excuse for his speeding, not unlike one no doubt being given somewhere right now: He had no idea he had been going so fast.

West was sympathetic but firm.

“I am very sorry, Mr. President, to have to do it,” he said, “for you are the chief of the nation, and I am nothing but a policeman, but duty is duty, sir, and I will have to place you under arrest.”

It’s worth pointing out here that standards of journalism, particularly with quotations, were not as rigorous back then as today, so it’s nearly impossible to know if this is the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help us hot type.

However, Lanier did confirm the arrest, and there are other historical references to it.

Anyway, Grant and several of his speeding buddies also arrested went with West to the police station. The president of the United States was ordered to put up 20 bucks as collateral. A trial was held the next day.

“Thirty-two ladies of the most refined character and surroundings voluntarily came into the court and testified against the drivers,” the Star story said. “The cases were contested bitterly.”

The judge imposed “heavy fines” and a “scathing rebuke” to the speeding drivers, who didn’t include the president.

He didn’t show up for court.

Grant, by the way, was also a republican!  Just sayin’ …

Ahhhhh … What A Fool

The piece I am sharing with you today does not come from The Onion, though you would be forgiven for thinking so.  It is, rather, a tongue-in-cheek look at Donald Trump as per his interview on Fox ‘News’ with Chris Wallace last Sunday by Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank.

This is what happens when a stable genius leads a stupid country

By Dana Milbank, Columnist, November 19 at 7:35 PM

Dana Milbank

President Trump is surrounded by fools.

There’s that fool William H. McRaven, Special Operations commander of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, and the other fools in the U.S. military, who should have brought down bin Laden “a lot sooner,” because “everybody in Pakistan” — all 208 million of them — knew the terrorist leader was living in “a nice mansion.” Trump alone “predicted Osama bin Laden” in 2000 when “nobody really knew who he was.”(Were they waiting for Trump to give them bin Laden’s Zip code plus four?)

There are the fools in the CIA, who have concluded based on so-called evidence that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered last month’s killing of Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi. But Trump alone understands that we’ll never know the truth, because the crown prince denied involvement “maybe five different times.”

There’s that fool Chris Wallace at Fox News, who didn’t understand why Trump skipped Arlington National Cemetery on the Monday after Veterans Day after skipping a visit to a U.S. military cemetery in France two days earlier. But Wallace, if he were wiser, would have known Trump was “extremely busy on calls for the country” as well as “doing other things.”

There are the foolish Finns who, after Trump claimed Finland avoided forest fires because “they spent a lot of time on raking,” are now mocking him by posing with garden tools in the woods. But Trump knows Finnish forest-raking is real because Finland’s president, Sauli Niinisto, told him about it just last week (even if Niinisto can’t remember this).

Worst of all are the fools in California — people who insist on calling the fire-destroyed town there “Paradise” instead of “Pleasure,” as Trump prefers to call it — who assert that the fires were caused by drought instead of their own mismanagement. As Trump well knows, “there is no drought” in California and there is “plenty of water.”

No one has suffered as many fools as Trump has. But this is to be expected when a “very stable genius” leads a “stupid country.”

Trump knows “more about courts than any human being.” He knows “more about steelworkers than anybody.” He knows “more about ISIS than the generals do,” and “more about offense and defense than they will ever understand.” He knows “more about wedges than any human being that’s ever lived.” He even knows more about medicine than his doctor, dictating a doctor’s letter predicting he would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”

How does Trump know so much about so many things? Explaining his disagreement with scientists on climate change, Trump told the Associated Press: “My uncle was a great professor at MIT for many years. Dr. John Trump. And I didn’t talk to him about this particular subject, but I have a natural instinct for science.”

Given Trump’s natural scientific instinct, you don’t need a B.S. from Trump University to know how frustrating it must be to be contradicted repeatedly by “experts” — some in his own administration!

The intelligence community unanimously believes that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, but Trump’s instinct says there’s no reason to disbelieve Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denials.

Satellite imagery shows that North Korea has enhanced its ability to launch missiles, but Trump says, “I don’t believe that.”

The scientific consensus supports the theory of climate change, but Trump says “it could very well go back” to cooling.

Trump’s instinct has led him to a number of scientific discoveries over time:

“The worst hurricanes were 50 years ago.”

Vaccines cause autism in “many” healthy children.

The flu shot is “totally ineffective.”

Exercise is unhealthy.

Coal is “indestructible.”

Windmills are a “killing field” for birds and can make people who live near turbines “go crazy after a couple of years.”

It’s okay to look directly at the sun during a solar eclipse.

California is “shoving” water out to sea “to protect a certain kind of three-inch fish.”

With such a high level of technical expertise, Trump waited 19 months into his presidency to name a White House science adviser. More than 1,000 members of the National Academy of Sciences accuse Trump of the “denigration of scientific expertise and harassment of scientists.”

But they don’t understand. Trump knows more about science than the scientists do.

And this is the problem with being surrounded by fools: Though Trump gives his presidency an “A-plus,” most Americans — about 60 percent — do not appreciate his brilliance.

He deserves better — and he should demand it. He should walk away, withdraw his excellence, maybe get a place in Pleasure — and leave us to suffer our own foolish “scientists” and “experts” and “facts.” That would really show us.

Deep breaths … lighten up … smile, for it is humour.  Any fool who rates himself an A+ when more than half the country, not to mention allies in other nations, hate him enough to wish to send him to Siberia, is a moron.

The Curious Incident of Prez and Prince

“President Trump’s response to the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is a betrayal of long-established American values of respect for human rights and the expectation of trust and honesty in our strategic relationships. He is placing personal relationships and commercial interests above American interests in his desire to continue to do business as usual with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

The Central Intelligence Agency has thoroughly investigated the murder of this innocent journalist and concluded with high confidence that it was directed by the Crown Prince. If there is reason to doubt the findings of the CIA, President Trump should immediately make that evidence public.

President Trump is correct in saying the world is a very dangerous place. His surrender to this state-ordered murder will only make it more so. An innocent man, brutally slain, deserves better, as does the cause of truth and justice and human rights.

In this failure of leadership from President Trump, it now falls to Congress to stand up for America’s true values and lasting interests.” – Washington Post Publisher and CEO Fred Ryan’s response to President Donald Trump’s statement regarding the murder of Jamal Khashoggi

Two days ago, Trump threw the people of the United States of America under the bus.  He plainly and in no uncertain terms stated that human rights take a backseat to profit (his), and that our allies are less important than Trump’s personal enrichment.  The world is watching, waiting to see what, if anything, our Congress will do to stop the madman at the helm from allying this nation with a murderer.

There is no longer a shred of doubt, but that Mohammed bin Salman ordered the execution of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.  The CIA has verified it, and there are recordings of telephone conversations that can leave little doubt in the minds of any but the most ignorant.  So why, then, is Trump determined to support a murdering tyrant over the objections of almost all?  The simple answer is: $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

In October, Trump made a statement via Twitter, the only medium of communication he knows, saying …

“For the record, I have no financial interests in Saudi Arabia (or Russia, for that matter). Any suggestion that I have is just more FAKE NEWS (of which there is plenty)!”

He lied.  Again.

In the early 1990s, Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bought Trump’s prized yacht on the cheap from the property developer’s creditors when he was on the cusp of personal bankruptcy. A few years later, one of Trump’s lenders forced him to sell the Plaza Hotel, a New York City landmark also mired in debt, to Alwaleed.  At that time, Trump was trying to dig himself out of $3.4 billion of debt, about $900 million of which he had guaranteed personally (remember how people said he was such a good, shrewd businessman?  I think not.)  When Trump made fun of him on Twitter two years ago, Alwaleed responded by tweeting, “I bailed you out twice; a 3rd time, maybe?”  Interestingly, Alwaleed and a number of other businessmen and political rivals were placed under house arrest late last year, immediately following a visit to Saudi Arabia by none other than Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law.  Coincidence?

The Saudi Arabian government bought the entire 45th floor of the Trump World Tower in 2001.  The Trump International Hotel in Washington has been a favorite venue for Saudi diplomats who have spent lavishly there, as well as at other Trump hotels.  No financial interests???  Do we look that stupid?

And now, when there is no doubt at all that Mohammed bin Salman ordered the hit on U.S. permanent resident and Washington Post journalist Khashoggi, Trump says this …

“It could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t! We may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

“OUR” relationship … think about this, folks … he wakes up one morning and while he’s sitting on the potty (12 Big Macs in a day will do that to you) wondering who or what to tweet about today, decides that all 329 million people in the U.S. will rubber-stamp his horrendous decision to stand by a cruel dictator, a murderer.  Allow me to go on record right here and now as saying that Donald Trump does not represent me.  He does not mirror my values and he does not speak on my behalf.  I will continue to re-iterate this statement, I will send it to Trump himself on a daily basis, I will email it to every member of Congress at least once a week, but I will not … I repeat, I will NOT … stand behind such corruption, such a low-life scumbag as Donald Trump who is willing to put human life far behind his own profit.  Oh … one last thing … Mr. Trump – you owe me a plate and a bowl! Mine accidentally broke when I accidentally threw them against the wall.broken dishes.jpgSeriously, though, it is my fondest hope that everyone … Congress, We The People, our allies and other foreign leaders, and most of all, the press … will reveal Trump’s perfidy for what it is … greed, pure and simple.  Call him out!  Show the world that the U.S. is better than this!  Hold his feet to the fire and force him to put the interests of the U.S., humans, and the world, ahead of his own self-interest.  Do it now, for tomorrow may be too late.

Anything To Save The Prince

It is a complex tale of murder and mayhem worthy of John le Carré or Vince Flynn, but no writer of fiction made this one up.  The question is, will the real killer go unpunished?  I doubt there is a thinking person on the globe who doesn’t believe that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the brutal murder of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi, but the Saudis are doing their level best to insulate the prince from paying the price.

The facts:

Missing Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi with his fiance Hatice Cengiz

Murdered Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi with his fiance Hatice Cengiz

Jamal Khashoggi went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, to obtain documents he needed to get a license to marry his fiancé, Hatice Cengiz.  This was on September 28th, but he was told he would need to return at 1:30 p.m. on the afternoon of October 2nd.  On the morning of the 2nd, embassy staff were instructed not to report for work.  Meanwhile, Saudi officials traveling in two charter planes arrived at the consulate early that morning. Khashoggi entered the consulate after telling his fiancé, who remained outside, to get help if he did not return.  He was never seen again outside the consulate. 

His murder, according to Turkish officials, was brutal, including torture, strangulation, beheading and dismemberment. 

The lies:

The Saudi government has told so many lies that it’s hard to keep up.  At first, the Saudi government said that Khashoggi had left the consulate via a back entrance shortly after arriving.  They claimed the reports of his disappearance were “completely false and baseless”.

On October 20th, the Saudi government changed its story and said that Khashoggi had indeed died inside the consulate, but that it was an accident, simply a fistfight gone bad.  And then, a few days later, they changed the story yet again, still denying any involvement, and said that his murderers had been trying to kidnap him to return him to Saudi Arabia, and that his death had been unintentional, a ‘choke-hold’ gone bad.  They also claimed it was a ‘rogue operation’ that was not sanctioned by the government.

The Turkish government was investigating, but at this point the Saudis opened their own investigation, saying that they had arrested 18 Saudi nationals and terminated 2 Saudi officials as a result of their findings.  Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir described the killing as “murder”, yet still denied that Crown Prince bin Salman was involved.

On October 25th, the Saudi public prosecutor said the evidence pointed to a ‘premeditated’ murder.  Although the Saudi government denies it, bin Salman is on record as having told Trump, in a phone conversation, that he considered Khashoggi to be a ‘dangerous Islamist’.

The speculation:SaudisFour of the men arrested have ties to the crown prince, and another, Maher Mutreb, served as a colonel in Saudi intelligence and was based at the country’s embassy in London.  The group brought a bone saw into the country and one of its members was the head of forensics at the National Intelligence Service and specialized in post-mortems.  This was no fly-by-night operation, but rather one that was relatively well-planned and well-funded, given the 4-day time period.  According to Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, “The necessary equipment and people were previously brought in to kill and later dismember him”.MBSSources both in and outside the Saudi government claim that this ‘hit’ could not have taken place without the knowledge and consent of none other than Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.  Turkish President Erdoğan has said the order to murder Khashoggi came from “the highest levels” of the Saudi government. The former head of MI6, Sir John Sawers, has described Saudi claims that Prince Mohammed was unaware of the murder plot as a “blatant fiction”.  Prince Mohammed’s most influential domestic aide, Saud al-Qahtani, has been forced to leave. Qahtani is accused of being the figure who organized the hit squad. The crown prince’s critics, and even some loyalists inside the kingdom, say it is inconceivable that such an operation could have been ordered without his authority.

The scapegoats:

Yesterday, Saudi Arabia announced it will pursue the death penalty for five suspects charged.  While I have no doubt that these five men were complicit in the murder and deserve harsh punishment, charging them was done in an attempt to draw attention away from the crown prince, away from the head of the government who, it is almost certain, ordered the killing.  These five, and likely more to follow, are scapegoats being sacrificed to save the hide of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 

Too many lies were told, the story changed too many times for this to be anything but an order from the highest-ranking official in the government.  Jamal Khashoggi had been critical of both bin Salman and Donald Trump.  And now, though the U.S. has imposed sanctions freezing assets of 17 Saudis said to be involved in Khashoggi’s murder, Donald Trump refuses to even discuss implicating bin Salman.  No mystery there, for both Trump’s and Jared Kushner’s companies do business with the Saudis. 

Conclusion:

Who is more guilty, the men who carried out the execution or the man who ordered it to be done?  While none are without guilt, and I would certainly expect to see everyone who was involved, either directly or indirectly, tried and sentenced to life in prison, I think the greater punishment ought to be for the one who said, “Do it.”  There are, I’m sure, many good people in Saudi Arabia … Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is NOT one of them and in the minds of most, he caused the death of a man whose only crime was honesty.  Nations around the globe are calling for the truth, condemning the Saudi government and most of all, Mohammed bin Salman.  The U.S., meanwhile, is more concerned about the profits of Trump & Co.  Mr. Khashoggi was a permanent resident of the U.S. and employed by one of the most reputable news sources in the country, yet Trump takes a lackadaisical approach, merely shrugging his shoulders. Once again, the U.S. stands alone, not by the choice of the nation, but by the whims of one ‘man’ … and on the wrong side of justice.

Jamal Khashoggi — The Better Man

Jamal-KhashoggiJamal Khashoggi was a resident of the United States and a journalist for The Washington Post.  I am sure you all know at least some of the story of Mr. Khashoggi and his recent disappearance and likely murder, and some may have wondered why Filosofa had not yet written about Mr. Khashoggi.  I have not, to date, even touched upon this story, for there were too many unknowns and too many conflicting bits of information.  I try to ensure that what I write is fact-based, and frankly I could not discern what was fact in this story, for the story changed almost hourly it seemed.  Tonight, I am breaking my silence, for I think I know at least enough to make a start.  I am appalled and horrified at some of the responses from members of our government, including Donald Trump, and I will not remain silent.

Jamal Khashoggi was a citizen of Saudi Arabia and a journalist and author who had for years written for both Arabic and English-language newspapers.  He was among the first to cover the war in Afghanistan and had also covered the first Gulf war.  During the 1980s he had contact with Usama bin Ladin (aka Osama bin Laden) as he covered the battle of Jaji.

Always a defender of human dignity, freedom and reform in Saudi Arabia, Khashoggi came under fire in 2016 for remarks he made about his own government, as well as Donald Trump after his election.  The government of Saudi Arabia shut him down … he was no longer allowed to write or even tweet, and he knew the time had come for him to leave.  In early 2017, he self-exiled to the U.S. where he was provided temporary asylum, and later permanent resident status.

On September 28th, Khashoggi visited the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, Turkey, to obtain the necessary paperwork to marry his Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, but he was told he would need to return four days later on the afternoon of October 2nd.  Long story short, he did return while his fiancée waited outside for him, but he never left the embassy.  He must have sensed something was off, for he told Ms. Cengiz to get help if he did not return.  After a few hours, she called the police and the search began.

A few pertinent facts of the matter:

  • Turkish staff at the consulate had been told to stay home that day
  • Two charter planes carrying nine Saudi officials and intelligence officers had arrived in Istanbul from Riyadh and the passengers had gone to the embassy
  • At around 4:00 p.m., six vehicles left the consulate carrying the nine Saudis. Two other vehicles with unidentified passengers drove to the Saudi consul’s residence and remained there for the next four hours
  • On the night of October 15th, Turkish officials searched the Saudi consulate and reported that it had recently received a coat of fresh paint throughout the interior

Those are the only absolute, verifiable facts in the case to the best of my knowledge.  The Saudi government has changed their story enough times to arouse suspicion. A Turkish official claims to have an audio tape of Mr. Khashoggi’s brutal murder, dismemberment and beheading, and the Turkish government claims that senior figures in the Saudi royal court had ordered his killing.  As yet, this is not verifiable, and I offer it at face value.  U.S. Intelligence agencies are reportedly convinced that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia is culpable in the killing, although they have not yet been able to collect direct evidence.  The Turkish government has reiterated what they say happened and with great detail, but they have declined to share such evidence as they have with the U.S., and so I cannot speak to the veracity of their claims.

Mohammed bin Salman.jpg

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

What I will address, however, is the U.S. official response to the disappearance and likely murder of Jamal Khashoggi which is, in a word, shameful.  Abominable.  Sickening.  Disgusting.

Donald Trump, first of all, came out in support of Prince bin Salman and said he would not cut off arms sales to the Saudi government because Saudi Arabia would spend their money elsewhere, and for Trump, it’s more about money than human lives.  He also at that time stated that while it should be looked into, Mr. Khashoggi was not an American citizen and since the disappearance had taken place in Turkey, it was not a great concern, although, “We don’t like it”.  We don’t like it, but oh well, not my monkeys, not my circus is basically what he is saying.

Justice for JamalThis, as much as anything, exemplifies why the U.S. pulled out of the United Nations Human Rights Council in June.  The U.S. is, itself, in violation of human rights by the detention of children we separated illegally from their parents on our southern border, and Trump has no desire to be constrained by rules that dictate human rights or his response to violations.

Next week is the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh, an event Trump swore he would not pull out of, even as other nations, horrified by the Khashoggi disappearance and the likely scenario, had dropped out of the conference.  Finally, yesterday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that we, too, would withdraw from the conference, only because of the bipartisan backlash over his intent to attend.

And let’s not leave out the evangelicals.  None other than Pat Robertson said …

“You’ve got a $100-billion worth of arm sales which is, you know, that’s one of those things, but more than that we’ve got to have some Arab allies. I know it’s bad, but I mean we’ve had all kinds of stuff, but you don’t blow up an international alliance over one person. I mean, I’m sorry.”

I side with Stephen Colbert on this one when he responded, “Thank you, Reverend, for capturing the core message of Christianity. How important can one man’s death be?”

And now for the real kicker.  A ‘whisper campaign’, for those who may be unfamiliar with the term, is an unethical attempt to spread lies and venom about a person to discredit them.  Another term is ‘smear campaign’.  Yesterday, The Washington Post reported that …

“Hard-line Republicans and conservative commentators are mounting a dark whisper campaign against Jamal Khashoggi that is designed to protect President Trump from criticism of his handling of the dissident journalist’s alleged murder by Saudi Arabian operatives — and support Trump’s continued aversion to a forceful response to the oil-rich desert kingdom.”

The right-wing media, starting with none other than Trump’s state-run media Fox News, has indeed launched a smear campaign to attempt to convince the public that Jamal Khashoggi was a ‘bad guy’.  And why?  To cover Donald Trump’s fat, white arse.  If you cannot convince Trump to act as a human being, then make the rest of the world look like they are donkeys too!  Angry?  Moi?  You betcha!

Conservative House republicans, read members of the House Freedom Caucus, have assisted in the effort, attempting to begin conspiracy theories about the time that Khashoggi covered bin Laden some 14 years before 11 September 2001.  It has even spilled over onto the campaign trail.  In Virginia, republican Corey Stewart who is running against Tim Kaine for his seat in the Senate, claimed with no facts or knowledge that, “Khashoggi was not a good guy himself.”

A Tuesday broadcast of CR-TV, a conservative online outlet founded by popular talk-radio host Mark Levin, labeled Khashoggi a “longtime friend” of terrorists and claimed without evidence that Trump was the victim of an “insane” media conspiracy to tarnish him. The broadcast has been viewed more than 12,000 times. A story in far-right FrontPage magazine casts Khashoggi as a “cynical and manipulative apologist for Islamic terrorism”.

None of these stories are true.  Remember, Khashoggi was a journalist.  Journalists often have contact in the course of their reporting with unsavory people.  It doesn’t mean they are affiliated or share their beliefs … it simply means they are doing their job.

I am sickened by this entire thing, starting with the murder of a good man, Donald Trump’s inhumane response, and ending with the attempts by Donald Trump’s boot-lickers to cover his utter inhumanity.  Thankfully, I am still able to believe that the vast majority of people in this nation are better than this, but unfortunately those in our government are naught but low-lifes.