How ‘Bout Some ‘Toons?

I think it’s about time to catch up on a few ‘toons, don’t you?  The political cartoons are one way of measuring which issues are on the minds of the people at any given time.  Today, one of the biggest issues is, not surprisingly, the trade war Trump has engaged in with China and the tariffs that are hurting We the People more than any.

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After the recent United Nations report showing that we are in danger of losing one million species from the planet due to our poor stewardship of the environment, climate change and environmental issues once again came to the forefront of everyone’s mind.

environment-1environment-2environment-3Threatened and endangered species


Congress subpoenaed Trump’s tax returns from the Department of Treasury, but of course Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is refusing to honour the subpoena.  Meanwhile, the New York Times released 10 years of Trump’s taxes from 1985 to 1994, showing that in that ten year period, he lost over $1.17 billion … naturally the cartoonists had a field day with that one, as did our friend Don Lemon!

Bruce Plante Cartoon: Trump the business manfinances-2finances-3


And, of course, we are still dealing with Trump’s blatant and now undeniable obstruction of justice.  The Mueller report cites no less than ten instances where Trump obstructed justice, and he is still doing it today by trying to shut down the congressional oversight committees that are trying to pick up where Mueller’s report left off and determine whether impeachment is the right path.  

criminals-2criminals-3criminals-4criminals-5obstruction-1obstruction-2obstruction-3obstruction-4


And just a few miscellaneous ‘toons to finish up …

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Hope Hicks – Fame & Fortune

I had to laugh when I read this CNN headline …

Hicks named permanent White House communications director

One word caught my eye:  permanent.  Can anything really be said to be ‘permanent’ in the current administration?  And of all things, the communication director, of which there have been three before Hicks?  She is the fourth in just seven months!  Permanent?  I think not.

hicks-4So, who is Hope Hicks and how did she come to be the new White House communications director?

Just short of 29 years of age, Hope Hicks graduated from Southern Methodist University with a degree in English in 2010.  Her association with the Trump clan began two years later when, working for the public relations firm of Hiltzik Strategies, she was assigned to the Ivanka Trump clothing line.  In 2014, Ivanka hired Hicks away from Hiltzik Stragegies.  Five months later, in January 2015, Donald Trump called her into his office and, in Ms. Hicks’ words, “Mr. Trump looked at me and said, ‘I’m thinking about running for president, and you’re going to be my press secretary.'”

Although she had no prior experience in politics, no degree in communication, she joined Trump’s campaign before there even was a campaign (Trump did not officially declare his intent to run until June 2015, five months later) and has been an adoring lap puppy ever since.  During the campaign, her main role seemed to be that of guard dog, deciding on a daily basis who among the media would be allowed access to Trump.

hicks-3It is said that Hicks also took dictation from Trump for his tweets, and then sent the text to another person in the Trump organization who actually sent out the tweets from Trump’s official account. Now, I have to question … Trump’s tweets are notorious for spelling errors and poor grammar.  If Hicks has a degree in English, and if she was twitting his tweets … ???

Last year, the New York Times dubbed Hicks as ‘the woman who totally understands Donald Trump’.  I seriously doubt that she understands him, for his mind is a tangled web of frayed filaments.  However, she seems perfectly willing to support him in all things, and to defend his position even when she likely does not understand either the issue at hand or his position.  Take, for example, a statement she issued on 29 May …

“President Trump [sic] has a magnetic personality and exudes positive energy, which is infectious to those around him. He has an unparalleled ability to communicate with people …. He has built great relationships throughout his life and treats everyone with respect. He is brilliant with a great sense of humor … and an amazing ability to make people feel special and aspire to be more than even they thought possible.”

Oh please … did she really say “treats everyone with respect”?  Has she not heard how he calls Mexicans ‘rapists and murderers’?  Did she not hear him mock a disabled reporter?  Has she not heard the names he calls those in his own party when they fail to worship the ground he walks on?  Does she not hear the names he calls democrats, the press, judges, and most of all, Hillary Clinton?

And so, we begin to see at least part of the reason that she has now been named White House Communication Director and rewarded for her efforts, whatever they may be, with an annual salary of $179,900. While some, if not most, in Trump’s inner circle see their jobs as being to try to protect Trump from himself, to rein in his unfiltered speech and reduce the controversy, Hicks apparently views her job as to build an ego that is already far too large.

Like Kellyanne Conway, Hicks has sometimes been referred to in the press as the “Trump whisperer”.  My take, not that it matters, but just for the record, is that she is a young gold-digger and will do whatever is required of her, as long as it leads to fame and fortune.

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With fellow boot-licker, Kellyanne Conway

Communications to the press from the White House have been poor since the day Trump took office.  As much as I mocked and sometimes railed at Sean Spicer, frankly he was probably the best of the bunch, for at least you could tell when Sean was lying.  Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Sean’s replacement as Press Secretary, never comes off as being either sincere or insincere, but rather always seems impatient and disgusted with all the media.

Now, with Ms. Hicks implanted as communications director, the team of Hicks/Sanders is sure to deliver nothing more than the party line, in other words, “Donald Trump is wonderful and everything he says is right”. I would not believe either of these women if they told me that water is wet.  Congratulations, I suppose, to Hope Hicks … I hope that years from now she still thinks it was worth whatever she had to do for her fame and fortune.

Trump vs WE THE PEOPLE

Da trumpeter has now begun blocking people who disagree with him or criticize him from his Twitter account @realDonaldTrump.  This has Constitutional law scholars pondering and debating the constitutionality of such a move.

Although he has likely blocked others, The Washington Post reported this morning on two specific individuals who were blocked:

Holly O’Reilly tweeted a GIF at the end of May to President Trump on his @realDonaldTrump account. The image displayed an awkward-looking moment between the president and Pope Francis with the caption, “This is pretty much how the whole world sees you.”

Joe Papp had a similar experience about a week later, when he tweeted a question to Trump. “Why didn’t you attend your #PittsburghNotParis rally in DC, Sir?” he asked, adding “#fakeleader.”

Both were blocked from Trump’s account within minutes of sending their tweets.  Once blocked, they were neither able to see his tweets nor any related comments.  Now, you may wonder what the big deal is.  Well, Twitter is, for the most part, the only source Trump uses to communicate to the public.  I personally do not follow his Twitter account, but have been known to dash off a 140-character tweet to him on occasion.  I have sent him links to some of my posts, and critiqued some of his more absurd statements and actions.  As a citizen, taxpayer, and voter, that is my right.  I call it 1st Amendment right to free speech.

To add fuel to the fire, just yesterday White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that Trump’s tweets are “considered official statements by the president of the United States.” Spicer is an authorized representative in speaking on behalf of Donald Trump.  And We The People have the right to hear (read) what the person we elected is saying about issues that concern us and our lives.  So …. Is it a matter of constitutionality or not?

Most legal scholars agree that it would be a tough case to make, mainly because @realDonaldTrump is Trump’s personal account, not the official @POTUS account.  In fact, he posts only a small portion of his tweets on the official account which, it appears, is actually managed by his staff.

Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University sent a letter to Trump reading, in part …

“Your account constitutes a designated public forum. It is a forum for expression in which you share information and opinions relating to government policy with the public at large and in which members of the public can engage you, engage one another, and sometimes elicit responses from you. Your Twitter account is a designated public forum for essentially the same reasons that open city council meetings and school board meetings are.”

UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh views both sides of the issue, saying …

“On the one hand, my sense is that the @RealDonaldTrump account — though run by Trump on government time and from government property — is the work of Trump-the-man … just as it was before November, and not Trump-the-president. His decisions about that account are therefore not constrained by the First Amendment. [But] what if I’m mistaken, and it’s viewed as run by Trump in his capacity as a government actor, and thus subject to the First Amendment? Can he then block users?”

Okay, so it’s a thorny issue and not one that is likely to be pursued at length based on Trump’s blocking of a handful of citizens.  But it is not without relevance and I think needs to be monitored.  My take is that no user who chooses to view his account should be blocked.  My reasoning is simple … it is his main venue for communicating public policy.  Just this morning we found out that he has nominated Christopher Wray for the position of FBI director.  He did not hold a press conference to announce this decision, he tweeted it from his ‘personal’ account, @realDonaldTrump.

If he wishes to retain the right to block people from his personal account, then he must use it as a personal account, not a public forum.  He has access to the official public forum Twitter account, and that is the appropriate place for him to make public announcements.  It is rather a shame that the press and citizens must get their information from a Twitter account at any rate, but to have information withheld because we do not agree with him is a disgrace.  Either his account is a public forum, in which case he cannot block a single user, or it is private, in which case he must learn the meaning of the word ‘private’.

Interestingly, the @POTUS account has only 18.6 million followers, while his @realDonaldTrump account has 31.5 million … more than 10% of the entire population of the country!  As I said, I refuse to become a ‘follower’, but nearly every journalist in the country is … they have to be, as that is the only forum from which they can get information directly from him.  And what happens if he decides to start blocking reporters from his account?  Then it becomes, I think, a very slippery slope indeed. This is not a major issue, but it is one more straw on the camel’s back, one more instance of Trump vs. We The People.

HE MUST GO!!! NOW!!!

Yesterday I wrote a post about Trump’s very undiplomatic, ignorant tweets in response to the terrorist attack in London over the weekend.  I thought that was the end of it, that he would move on to other rants, but alas … I was wrong.  This morning, apparently offended by the good Mayor Khan’s response that he was busy taking care of his city and did not have time to respond to Trump’s tweets, Trump’s very small thumbs once again took to the twitting machine and he said this:

“Pathetic excuse by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who had to think fast on his ‘no reason to be alarmed’ statement. MSM is working hard to sell it!”

By ‘MSM’, he is referring to the mainstream media who accurately reported exactly what Mr. Khan did say, rather than the out-of-context falsehood that Trump claimed.

This must stop … it simply must stop!  He is as an angry child who’s bluster and anger is escalating to the point that it is causing people all around the globe to lose what little respect they had left for the U.S.  Trump represents us … each and every one of us, whether we voted for him or not, whether we like it or not.  There is simply no excuse for a 70+ year old ‘man’, a leader of a nation of some 325 million people, to act as a 9-year-old child!

There must soon come an impeachment, or an Article 25 removal from office.  There is no other choice.  He has wrought more damage upon our country in less than 6 months than any other president has done in an entire term of office.  Congress … specifically the House of Representatives … must realize by now that we are in deep trouble and take the first steps in the process to remove Trump quickly.  While I have no love for Pence, at least his mouth has a filter.

Meanwhile … I recommend the following:

  • The administration staff, cabinet members and members of Congress immediately stop enabling this ‘man’, stop licking his boots, and stop defending his words and actions, stop making excuses for him, for there can be no excuses for this irrational behaviour.
  • Put a muzzle on him. Shut down his Twitter account!!! Take away his voice!

muzzleThe Russian probe is almost certain, if carried out with integrity and transparency, to ultimately result in the removal of Trump from office, but that is a long process and will not happen quickly enough to save our country from a loss of respect worldwide.  We all hope that our allies across the pond realize and understand that We The People do not share Trump’s sentiments, but unless we stand up loudly and passionately against him, against his behaviour, then how can they continue to believe that the citizens of the United States are good, caring people?  How can good, caring people possibly remain silent in the wake of his abhorrent speech and behaviour?

It is time for us to stop shaking our heads, rolling our eyes, and grimacing every time he opens his mouth.  It is time for us to demand that Congress take action to remove him from office.  Use Article 25, if nothing else, for his actions of the past two weeks, shoving aside a foreign minister to be in the front row during a photo, berating our allies while cuddling with our antagonists, and now his rants against Mayor Khan, surely prove that he is unfit to govern.

For my part, I hereby proclaim in no uncertain terms that Donald Trump does NOT represent me and is in no way representative of my thoughts or ideology.