Religious Freedom Or Persecution?

Religious freedom … now there’s a term that has almost unlimited definitions.  My own, and one that I believe is in synch with that of the Founding Fathers back in 1787, is that each person has the freedom to believe in and practice his/her religion without interference from the government.  But today, there are those who define it as having the freedom to declare that their beliefs are the only correct ones and that every person should be forced to follow their religion and believe as they do.  Well, that ain’t how it works, and if you study history, you will see that this line of thinking has led to many of the wars that have been fought throughout past centuries. 

The United States is a secular nation.  This means that government and laws are not based on any religion and do not favour any one religion over others.  Many today seem to want to call this a “Christian nation”, but that is so wrong it makes my teeth hurt.  This is not a Christian nation, for we have a most diverse population that includes Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Jains, atheists, agnostics, and more.  Each person, regardless of religious beliefs, has the exact same rights and responsibilities under the U.S. Constitution.

Religious freedom means the right to practice and believe any or no religion.  It does NOT mean one religion has the right to impose their views on others.  Period.  Every religion on earth has its biases, and in the U.S. those biases have led to discrimination against others such as the LGBT community and women.  Today, there is a bill working its way through Congress called the Do No Harm Act.  Our friend Nan has written an excellent post about this bill, so rather than re-invent the wheel, I will let her tell you about it … thank you, Nan!

Nan’s Notebook: Religious Freedom

This bill, if passed, would not take away anyone’s rights to observe their religion as they wish, but rather it would restore the civil rights of all, would make it illegal to discriminate based on religious beliefs.  It’s really so simple.

The Republican Party’s End Goal

This afternoon, the Senate actually managed to pass the pandemic relief bill, with no help from the Republicans.  Not a single Republican voted in support of the bill, which passed, 50-49, after an hours-long impasse over competing partisan proposals for the massive bill’s boost to weekly unemployment benefits for those affected by the pandemic.  This, it seems, is to be the state of affairs for the foreseeable future … Democrats vs Republicans, bills taking ten times longer to pass through Congress than they should, especially those that help real people, not tailor-made to make the wealthy wealthier.  What is the end goal of the Republican Party, I’ve often asked?

Dana Milbank, writing for The Washington Post, summarized the Republican’s end goal quite well.  Take a look …


Republicans aren’t fighting Democrats. They’re fighting democracy.

Dana MilbankBy Dana Milbank

MARCH 5, 2021

On the conservative Bulwark podcast this week, two admirable never-Trumpers marveled at what has become of the Republican Party since President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the election.

“I am a little amazed by the willingness to go just authoritarian, to really go anti-democratic,” Bulwark editor-at-large Bill Kristol said.

Columnist Mona Charen was likewise puzzled. “The attraction of authoritarianism, I don’t know, Bill,” she said. “I’m really at a loss.”

And I’m at a loss to understand their confusion. The Republican Party’s dalliance with authoritarianism can be explained in one word: race.

Trump’s overt racism turned the GOP into, essentially, a white-nationalist party, in which racial animus is the main motivator of Republican votes. But in an increasingly multicultural America, such people don’t form a majority. The only route to power for a white-nationalist party, then, is to become anti-democratic: to keep non-White people from voting and to discredit elections themselves. In short, democracy is working against Republicans — and so Republicans are working against democracy.

You don’t have to study demography to see that race is at the core of the GOP’s tilt toward the authoritarian. You need only look at what happened this week.

On Monday, the Georgia state House passed a bill brazenly attempting to deter Black voters. The bill proposed to scale back Sunday voting — taking direct aim at the longtime “Souls to the Polls” tradition in which Black voters cast their ballots after church on Sundays. The bill also would increase voter I.D. requirements — known to disenfranchise Black voters disproportionately — and even would make it illegal to serve food or drinks to voters waiting in long lines outside polling places; lines are typically longer at minority precincts.

Georgia Republicans clearly are hoping they can suppress enough Black votes to erase the Democrats’ narrow advantage that gave them both of the state’s Senate seats and Joe Biden its electoral votes. But Georgia is just one of the 43 states collectively contemplating 253 bills this year with provisions restricting voting access, according to a tally by the Brennan Center for Justice.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court’s majority signaled it would be open to more such voting restrictions. In oral arguments, the conservative justices indicated they would uphold two Arizona laws that would have the effect of disproportionately disqualifying the votes of non-White citizens. One law throws out ballots cast in the wrong precinct, a problem that affects minority voters twice as much as White voters because polling places move more frequently in minority neighborhoods. The other law bans the practice of ballot collection — derided by Republicans as ballot “harvesting” — which is disproportionately used by minority voters, in particular Arizona’s Native Americans on reservations.

Representing the Arizona Republican Party in Tuesday’s argument, lawyer Michael A. Carvin explained why the party supports laws tossing out ballots: “Politics is a zero-sum game.”

It was a stark if inadvertent admission that Republicans have abandoned the idea of appealing to new voters.

Then, on Wednesday, House Republicans mounted lockstep opposition to H.R.1, a bill by Democrats attempting to expand voting rights. The bill would, among other things, create automatic voter registration, set minimum standards for early voting and end the practice of partisan gerrymandering.

In the House debate, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), sounding like Trump, made unfounded claims of “voter fraud” and asserted that the law would mean “future voters could be dead or illegal immigrants or maybe even registered two to three times.”

“This,” McCarthy said, “is an unparalleled political power grab.”

So, in the twisted reasoning of this white-nationalist incarnation of the Republican Party, laws that make it easier for all citizens to vote are a power grab by Democrats.

The foundation of a white-nationalist GOP has been building for half a century, since Richard Nixon’s Southern strategy, through Ronald Reagan’s welfare queen and George H.W. Bush’s Willie Horton. But Trump took fear of non-Whites and immigrants to a whole new level.

Researchers have repeatedly documented that racial resentment is the single most important factor motivating Republicans and Republican-leaning voters. They have also shown that White evangelical Christians, a huge part of the GOP base and Trump’s most reliable supporters, are highly motivated by appeals to white supremacy. By contrast, Democratic voters — White and non-White — are primarily driven by their favorable views toward a multiracial America.

President Biden’s victory reveals the obvious political problem with the Republican move toward white nationalism: When voters turn out in large numbers, Democrats win. And the odds will only get worse for Republicans as racial minorities become the majority and the young, overwhelmingly progressive on race, replace the old.

This is why Republicans aren’t really fighting Democrats. They’re fighting democracy.

The Rich Get Richer While The Poor …

The minimum wage increase to $15 per hour is essentially dead in the water … for the moment.  I saw a comment from a woman in the state of Washington that every member of Congress should be forced to answer …

“I live in Eastern Washington state and we are fortunate to have a much higher minimum wage for our workers. Our neighbors in Idaho are not so lucky. Many people who are able to live in Idaho work in Washington to benefit from the higher wage. The wage a person earns should be equal to the amount of effort that is required to do the work. I would really like to know though why our politicians think they deserve to make so much money. They say they care about the average worker and want a better life for all Americans, but when was the last time they tried to live on minimum wage?”

She makes excellent points, especially when you consider the fact that nearly half the members of Congress are millionaires!  Many members of Congress live in wealthy enclaves, use expensive healthcare services, and send their children to private or high-income schools.  Never once in their lives have they had to put something back at the grocery store because the total came to more than they had.  Never once have they had to make a choice between paying the rent or the electric bill.  Never once have they lived, even for a single week, in poverty.  Never once have they watched through tear-filled eyes as the repo man took their car away.  And yet, these are the people who make the decisions about our lives.

The current minimum wage of $7.25 equates to $15,080 per year.  The lowest paid member of Congress ‘earns’ $174,000 per year, which equates to $83.65 per hour, or 12 times what the minimum wage earner makes.  Think about that one for a few minutes.

Time in Washington is disproportionately spent fixated on the needs and desires of America’s wealthiest citizens, for they are the donors on which politicians’ campaigns rely.  I have said before that I think every candidate running for a seat in Congress should have to spend one full month in public housing, paid $7.25 per hour for a 40-hour week, and have zero access to their own money or resources.  I think it would be a tremendous eye-opener for many who have spent far too long in ivory towers and cannot possibly understand the challenges most of us face every day.

Amazing, isn’t it, that with the country deep in debt ($28 trillion), Congress was able to find it in their hearts to pass a tax cut benefiting almost exclusively the wealthy, but they cannot find it in their heart to increase the minimum wage that has remained stagnant for twelve years now, despite consistent increases in the cost of living!

Today, the Senate began debate on the pandemic relief bill that was passed by the House on Wednesday night.  The bill would provide a payment of $1,400 to individuals earning under $75,000 and families earning under $150,000.  Personally, I think those limits are too high and it should be reserved for those who are truly struggling … a family earning $150,000 is hardly struggling.  But to the point, the republicans in the Senate are against the bill, they want it to be far less, saying that the economy is coming back, people are going back to work, therefore they don’t need that much.  Tell that to the mother of three who is about to be evicted from her home because she can’t pay the rent!

Republican senators plan to delay passage of the bill by proposing numerous amendments, forcing valuable time to be spent debating each amendment, then voting on it.  Yesterday, thanks to Senator Ron Johnson, valuable time was wasted by forcing clerks to read the entire 628-page bill aloud to an audience of one – Senator Johnson.  Some people, meanwhile, cannot pay their electric bill and are in danger of having their electricity shut off.  The 535 members of Congress have never been in that situation and therefore cannot comprehend what it’s like.  I have been there and worse, and likely many of you have been too, but the people we elect and whose salaries we pay have no idea what being poor means.  They are blind to how the people they say they represent live, and yet they arrogantly say that $7.25 is enough for a family to live on, that the same family does not need a $1,400 stimulus payment.

A word of caution to members of Congress in both parties – keep up the delaying tactics, keep pushing the poor further and further into poverty, and there will be a price to pay.  Enough is enough, and We the People are sick of their greed and arrogance at our expense.  Some claim the U.S. is a democracy – it isn’t.  It is a plutocracy:  government by the wealthy.

Mostly Positive With Just A Bit Of Snark

One of the most devastating things we lost under the previous administration was our standing in the global community.  We lost much ground, lost the respect of the world, became first the laughingstock of the world, and later the least trusted nation among our allies.  President Biden said he would make it one of his top priorities to rejoin agreements we had let lapse, and to work with our allies to become a team player once again, rather than a nation that isolates itself from the rest of the world.  After 30 days in office, progress is already being made.


Coming back into the world …

Today is a red-letter day for the United States, hopefully only the first of many.  The U.S. has officially re-joined the Paris Climate Accord!  Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a statement saying …

“The Paris Agreement is an unprecedented framework for global action. We know because we helped design it and make it a reality. Its purpose is both simple and expansive: to help us all avoid catastrophic planetary warming and to build resilience around the world to the impacts from climate change we already see.”

Under the terms of the agreement, the U.S. promised to reduce its carbon emissions by about 25% by 2025 compared with 2005 levels. But according to analysts, the country is only on track to achieve about a 17% reduction, largely due to the rollback of numerous environmental regulations that took place under the previous administration.  Can we catch up?  Well, the lives of future generations around the globe depend on it, so we damn well better.

No other country has emitted more cumulative carbon dioxide into the atmosphere since the industrial era began in the mid-1800s than the United States. And even though U.S. emissions are falling, the rate of the reduction is far too slow to avoid catastrophic warming, according to climate scientists.

President Biden has also assured world leaders, during a virtual address to the Munich Security Conference this morning, of the U.S. commitment to NATO.

“The United States is fully committed to our NATO alliance, and I welcome your growing investment in the military capabilities that enable our shared defenses. An attack on one is an attack on all. That is our unshakeable vow.”

And earlier, during a virtual G7 meeting, Biden also sought to assure world leaders that he and his administration are committed to once again being an ally, rather than an enemy …

“I know the past few years have strained and tested our transatlantic relationship, but the United States is determined – determined – to re-engage with Europe, to consult with you, to earn back our position of trusted leadership.”

Now, I know that these words must be followed up with actions that prove the intent.  I also know that the damage done over the past four years will not be undone overnight.  There will long be a mistrust among our allies, and for a long time, they will wonder if the people of this nation will be so foolish as to bring back another administration such as the previous one.  It may take decades before the trust is fully restored, but we are on the right path.


And just a bit of snark …

And lest you think that today I have only positive news without a bit of snark …

I strongly suspect that two new members of Congress will be single-term congresswomen, for they are more suited to a position in the circus than in Congress.  The two, of course, are Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert.  The latest?

During a virtual House committee hearing yesterday, Ms. Boebert logged in remotely with an arsenal as her backdrop.

boebert

The freshman lawmaker and gun-rights advocate, who owns a gun-themed restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, had two AR-15-style rifles arranged like an X on a shelf behind her head and another large firearm lying across books on the shelf below. There was also a handgun.

Representative Jared Huffman of California rightly took umbrage, saying …

“If somebody wants to have a shrine to their gun fetish as a Zoom backdrop in their private life, they can do that. But this is our hearing room, and at some point we will get past the covid epidemic and we’ll all start showing up in person. It’s necessary that we lay down these ground rules that whatever your fetishes or feelings are about guns, you’re not going to bring them into our committee room.”

Boebert whined that he was infringing on her ‘constitutional rights’.

There has been an ongoing debate recently about whether guns should be allowed into committee rooms.  My question is:  WHY???  Why should guns be brought into committee rooms or anywhere else in Congress?  Don’t we have enough violence in this world?  Ms. Boebert herself further proved my point when she said …

“Who says this is storage? These are ready for use.”

Has sanity left the room?

They Walk Among Us

Thomas Edward Caldwell, age 65, from Berryville, Virginia, is a U.S. Navy veteran.  Caldwell, once a lieutenant commander in the Navy, also had a top-secret security clearance and served as a section chief for the FBI after leaving the armed forces in 2009.  After leaving the FBI, Caldwell founded a consulting firm that has done business with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Coast Guard and the Army Personnel Command.

Thomas Edward Caldwell has now been indicted on federal conspiracy and other charges in connection with the January 6th attack on the U.S. Congress and U.S. Capitol.  As a member of the right-wing group calling themselves the “Oath Keepers”, Caldwell was involved in planning and coordinating the attack on the Capitol.  On social media, in the days leading up to that fateful day, Caldwell reached out to another right-wing group known as the “Three Percenters”, in order to arrange plans to “transport weapons across the Potomac by boat.”

On January 1st, Caldwell wrote on Facebook …

“I swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. I did the former, I have done the latter peacefully but they have morphed into pure evil even blatantly rigging an election and paying off the political caste. We must smite them now and drive them down.”

During the attack on the Capitol, Caldwell received a text message from a cohort saying …

“All members are in the tunnels under capital seal them in. Turn on gas.”

And later that evening, after the National Guard had secured the Capitol, Caldwell sent a Facebook message to another cohort, saying …

“We need to do this at the local level. Lets storm the capitol in Ohio. Tell me when!”

This gave me chills.  Yes, it’s been over a month ago, and yes, we now have a President, with a capital ‘P’, and yes, over 230 of the perpetrators of that monstrous event have been arrested and charged with a variety of crimes.  But some roam free on bond, and … let’s face it folks, the 230+ who have been arrested are a drop in the bucket.  There are more people out there with these warped notions and diabolical intentions.

Dawn Bancroft is 58 years old and lives in Doylestown, Pennsylvania where she owns a gym.  She, too, was part of the attack on the Capitol, and her words are as chilling as Caldwell’s, perhaps more so …

“We were looking for Nancy to shoot her in the friggin’ brain but we didn’t find her.”

They walk among us, my friends.  They are the lady who asked you where she could find pizza crust in the grocery store, the man you saw on the corner waiting to cross the busy street, the guy who gave you a friendly smile while he was waiting to pick up his prescription at the pharmacy yesterday.  They don’t, in everyday life, go about half-naked with horns sticking out of their heads so that we can identify them as certifiable nutjobs.  They look and act normal, for the most part.  How many like Caldwell and Bancroft are there in your city?  I’d bet money there are some, probably living within a few miles of you.

What’s my point, you ask?  My point is that in order to deter such future attacks, we must make an example of these people.  We must find as many as possible, and they must be charged, tried, and convicted, then sentenced to the maximum allowed by law, in order to deter any who might be thinking to do the same.  And those like the former guy who inspired and incited these people, must also be charged and punished, preferably with a very long prison sentence.

The people mentioned above are the ones I have often referred to as the snakes that came slithering out from under the rocks when the former guy was campaigning for the 2016 election and basically told them that it is okay to be a racist, that white people, especially white ‘Christian’ people, are superior and have the right to denigrate and even kill ‘others’.  These snakes slithered out from under their rocks, and now they have no intention of going back, of accepting that this is a very diverse world, that Black people are just as deserving as any others, that Muslims are not terrorists, and that LGBT people have the same rights as anybody else.  That is not the world they want, and not one they will readily accept.

I call on every judge and jury in this nation to hold these people accountable for their actions on that day.  I call on the FBI to diligently root out those who remain free, to find them and prosecute them.  These people do not belong in our society … not now, not ever.

I hear there are ‘events’ planned for March 4th, and I can only hope that federal law enforcement agencies are on high alert and far better prepared and more effective at preventing a repeat of what happened on January 6th.  And given that social media has proven to be the venue through which these terrorists communicated and planned their attack, I would have no problem with Facebook, Twitter, and the rest being shut down for several days prior to March 4th.  Freedom of speech?  Sorry, folks … it’s time for some checks on unlimited 1st Amendment ‘rights’, if people do not also accept the responsibility that accompanies those rights.

Lost Values …

The time has come, say the Republicans in Congress, to put the impeachment behind us and move on.  In one sense, I agree.  It is more relevant to study the positive changes President Biden is making, to look to the future which we can do now that we have a president who is intelligent, who will honour his oath of office, and who genuinely cares about the people of this country.

However, there are a few loose ends that still demand our attention, lest we make the same mistakes in the future that we made in the recent past.  One of those things, perhaps the one that most bothers me, is what the acquittal and related events say about nearly half of this nation, nearly half of Congress – the Republican Party, aka GOP.  The acquittal becomes, at this point, secondary to the fact that the Republican Party and likely the voters on that side of the aisle, are busily censuring the 10 members of the House of Representatives who voted with conscience to impeach, and the 7 senators who voted, again with conscience, to convict.  It speaks volumes about the values, or lack thereof, of the Republican Party as a whole, and what we can expect from them in the future.  The values of the Republican Party … what an oxymoron that is.

Our friend Keith has written a letter to the editor of his local paper expressing his views on the plans of the party to censure those 17 people who had the courage to do the right thing, to uphold their oaths to We the People.  Please take a look at Keith’s letter, and he invites you to adapt and use it if you wish, as I plan to do.

It is my sincere hope that the people in this nation, the voters, will remember that when push came to shove, the majority of the Republicans in Congress shredded their copy of the Constitution and instead pursued a course of action that will have ramifications well into the future.  Future presidents who have an axe to grind will not hesitate to commit heinous abuses of power in their last weeks in office, knowing that the precedent has been set, that they will not be punished for their actions, even if people die as a result.  At some point, will a president more successfully stage a coup such as the one that ultimately failed on January 6th, taking unearned power and turning this nation into an autocracy?  I don’t know, but I suspect at some point it could happen.

At present, I am less concerned about Donald Trump running for office again in 2024 than I am about future attacks occurring around the country by those domestic terrorists, Trump’s ardent, conscienceless followers egged on by Trump and others such as Josh Hawley, Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, et al.  I suspect that Trump will be dealt with in the coming year or two, but his reckless, ignorant base will remain … a can of worms has been opened that will not simply disappear.  This, then, is what the Republicans in Congress have wrought and if their party goes down the tubes as a result, then good enough.

Meanwhile, we should thank and applaud those 17 Republicans who put the nation ahead of their personal fortunes, who had the courage to tell the truth, that what Donald Trump did was unthinkable, and that he must pay the price for his actions.  These people deserve a medal, not censure!  If the Republican Party has a future, it lies with people like Lisa Murkowski, Ben Sasse, Liz Cheney, Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, and the others who still remember their oath, who still have a conscience.

Foot-Stomping Mini Rants

Filosofa is on a tear tonight, so fasten your seatbelts, and if you’re offended by a bit of cussing, go visit another, tamer blog, perhaps one that only features happy things like critters, flowers, or recipes.


We’re paying for this terrorist to eat what we cannot even afford!

Does the name Jacob Chansley ring a bell?  He is one of the two most photographed and most horrible of the domestic terrorists who attacked Congress and the Capitol on January 6th.  This half-naked creature …

jacob-chansley

… does not either look or act human.  He was arrested on January 9th on federal charges of “knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds”.  Pretty damn mild charges if you ask me.  At the very least he should have been charged with domestic terrorism, and I would have added intent to commit murder.  However, I was not consulted.

Now, Mr. Chansley is 33 years of age, an adult, right?  But his mommy, Martha Chansley, worried that he might get sick if he didn’t get his organic food while in jail.

martha-chansley

Martha Chansley, Jacob’s mummy

And so, at a hearing on Wednesday, lawyers for Chansley said he had not eaten in more than a week because of a lack of organic food. The attorneys argued that Chansley needed the food for medical reasons and because it is a tenet of his religious beliefs in shamanism.  BULLSHIT!

Freedom of religion dos NOT translate into a terrorist being able to demand the much more expensive organic foods!  And as for the health reasons … BULLSHIT!  No specific conditions were cited, and I probably have as many health issues as anyone, but I cannot afford organic food and wouldn’t eat it if I could!  I am not paying taxes to feed this asshole the food his so-called “religion” requires!  For all I care, he can effing starve to death! He tried to undermine and overthrow our election, our votes, to silence our voices!  He damaged OUR property and endangered the lives of OUR elected officials!  We owe him NOTHING!

Chansley has spent the last several years of his life participating in riots and protests, harassing Black Lives Matter peaceful protestors, following QAnon and its conspiracy theories … he does not deserve an ounce of kindness!

However, U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth ruled that Chansley was entitled to the organic food on religious grounds.  Not only that, but the judge also ruled that since the D.C. jail where Chansley was being held did not have the ability to cater to Chansley’s dietary whims, he is to be moved to the Alexandria Detention Center in Alexandria, Virginia, where they will be happy to spend OUR money to accommodate this terrorist’s dietary desires!  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.


I’m sick and tired of hearing about this woman …

Since the Republican leadership, ie., Kevin McCarthy, chose not to take any disciplinary action against Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene for her many inappropriate and criminal transgressions, the House Democrats called for a full House vote yesterday afternoon.  As a result, Ms. Greene has been removed from the committees she served on.

The vote was 230-199, with 11 Republicans voting with Democrats to strip Greene of her committees.  It’s at least something, but far too little.  If I endorsed a plan to kill a member of Congress, as Ms. Greene did, I would be arrested and put in jail to await my trial.  If I spouted some of the conspiracy theories she has done, I would be in a padded room right now, wearing one of those jackets with really long sleeves!  Ms. Greene does it and doesn’t even get a slap on the wrist.  Perhaps House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was too afraid of that gun she carries to censure her.  Or perhaps now that he and Mr. Trump have kissed and made up, he is dancing to the beat of a different drummer.  He damn sure is NOT representing the people of this nation!

Greene gave an 8-minute speech attempting to justify her past behaviour and criticizing one thing after another, including the national debt, at which I nearly choked, for it is the damned Republican tax cuts for the wealthy that have increased our national debt to it’s current level!  It is because the rich assholes aren’t paying anywhere near their fair share, while the rest of us struggle to pay our 13% – 25% each week.  Bah humbug, Ms. Greene!  At the end of her speech, she received a standing ovation from her fellow Republicans.  A standing ovation!  They stood and clapped, as if she deserved even an ounce of respect!  These people are fools and they make me sick!

Either way, Ms. Greene now serves no purpose in the House of Representatives, but she will not be sent packing, expelled from Congress, as would be right and proper, because the Republicans in Congress are cowards, plain and simple.


Heartbreaking and Unforgivable

Elba Pope of Rochester, New York, is the mother of a 9-year-old daughter with mental health issues.  On January 29th, Pope’s daughter was having a meltdown and threatening to kill herself, so Ms. Pope attempted to get mental health services to come to her home to help.  Instead, she got “Rochester’s Finest” [sarcasm fully intended].

When police arrived, they immediately began attempting to physically restrain the child, while Ms. Pope kept pleading with them to call a specialist.  One officer flat out said, “No.”  Officers chased the child through the snow outside, wrestled her to the ground and handcuffed her.  Please remember … this little girl is nine years old and has serious mental health problems.  As the officers attempted to put her into the police cruiser, she sobbed repeatedly, “I want my dad … I want my dad,” but officers ignored her please.  At one point, an officer said to the girl, “You’re acting like a child,” to which she sensibly replied, “I am a child!”  And then, when she couldn’t be calmed down and continued crying for her dad, one officer said …

“Just spray her”

Spray her, meaning pepper spray.  And that is what was done, and this poor little girl was crying, “Somebody please wipe my eyes!”

The following video made me cry, so either watch it or don’t, if you can’t.

Can we say “police brutality?”  Did I mention that the Pope family is Black?  If this had been a white girl, do you think the police would have abused this poor child in this manner?  NO, they would NOT have.  Think systemic racism in police departments isn’t real?   THINK AGAIN!

Good News, Humorous News, and Lindsey Graham

First, the good news

The Department of Transportation, formerly under the leadership of Elaine Chao, Mitch McConnell’s wife, has a new leader!  Yesterday, the Senate confirmed Pete Buttigieg, aka Mayor Pete, to the position of Secretary of Transportation!

buttigiegYou’ll remember that Mayor Pete ran as a candidate for president in the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries and gained significant momentum in mid-2019 when he participated in several town halls and debates. Buttigieg narrowly won the Iowa caucuses and placed a close second in the New Hampshire primary.  By winning Iowa, he became the first openly gay candidate to win a presidential primary or caucus. Buttigieg dropped out of the race on March 1st 2020, and endorsed Joe Biden the following day.

Under Ms. Chao, the Department of Transportation faded into the background, for she was rarely available to speak to the press, but make no mistake – this is a very important agency that oversees aviation safety, railroads, transit, highways and more.  At age 39, Buttigieg is also the youngest Cabinet secretary in the Biden administration and youngest person to serve as Secretary of Transportation.

Congratulations, Mayor Pete!


Now for the humorous

You all know that Trump has a golf course in Scotland, right?  Actually, he owns two of them.  The Scottish Parliament is considering launching an investigation into the financing of those golf courses.  Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie is urging the government to seek what is called an unexplained wealth order (UWO) against the Trump Organization’s two golf courses in Scotland.

A UWO is a relatively new piece of British criminal legislation, requiring the subject, in this case Donald Trump, to explain how exactly their assets were acquired. If their reasoning is not satisfactory, then the assets are “presumed to be recoverable property,” meaning they could be seized.  Reading this was my first chuckle of the day today!

Now, nobody in the Trump family can be accused of having an excess of intelligence, but the dumbest of them all is son Eric, who is said to be fuming at the possibility of the investigation …

junior-eric“Patrick Harvie is nothing more than a national embarrassment with his pathetic antics that only serve himself and his political agenda.  If Harvie and the rest of the Scottish government continue to treat overseas investors like this, it will deter future investors from conducting business in Scotland, ultimately crushing their economy, tourism and hospitality industries.”

According to Harvie, the fact that Trump’s businesses and business practices are the subject of a massive investigation in New York prompted his call for an UWO.  Makes perfect sense to me, knowing that Trump has been involved in some 6,000 lawsuits!


And last … ol’ Lindsey Graham

President Biden nominated Merrick Garland as Attorney General, the top position in the Department of Justice.  This is a key and critical position and Merrick Garland is more than qualified to fill it.  Merrick Garland was literally screwed over by Mitch McConnell and his gang of republican thugs in 2016 when President Obama nominated him to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated upon the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.  McConnell would not even permit the Senate to interview Garland then, saying that the next president should be the one to fill that seat … some 9 months before even the election, 11 months before that ‘next’ president would take office.  (Isn’t it funny how he changed his tune last year and hustled to confirm the bigoted and unqualified Amy Barrett to the seat vacated by Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death?)

Merrick-GarlandMerrick Garland is … or should be … a shoo-in for the Attorney General position, and confirmation hearings are likely to be more of a formality, as he is well-known and well-respected by members of both parties.  But Lindsey Graham likes to play games, even when his games are a threat to the nation.  Because as of yesterday, the two parties had not yet managed to come to terms on the ‘organizing resolution’ for the Senate, which is currently split 50-50, Lindsey Graham is still the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman.

When the incoming chairman, Dick Durbin, requested scheduling the confirmation hearing for Garland on February 8th, Lindsey immediately rejected the notion.  Why?  Because it would take place the day before the start of Trump’s impeachment trial.

“A one-day hearing as you are proposing the day before the impeachment trial of a former president is insufficient. Democrats do not get to score political points in an unprecedented act of political theater on one hand while also trying to claim the mantle of good government on the other.”

OH HO HO HO … read that last sentence again!  Is this not the ultimate hypocrisy?  But then, the entire GOP has become the very definition of the word ‘hypocrisy’.  Expecting to hold a confirmation hearing for the top spot in the Justice Department a full month after the nomination is ‘political theater’?  Somebody really needs to send Lindsey Graham back home to South Carolina!

But there is a bright spot in this story.  This morning, Senators Schumer and McConnell finally managed to reach an agreement.  According to Schumer …

“I am happy to report this morning that the leadership of both parties have finalized the organizing resolution for the Senate. We will pass the resolution through the Senate today, which means that committees can promptly set up and get to work.”

So, by tomorrow, Mr. Graham will likely no longer be the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman and the decision will not be his to make!  Let us hope that Senator Durbin will get the confirmation hearings on the schedule for next week, and that the process is completed quickly so that Merrick Garland can take his place as Attorney General and begin doing the serious work that must be done in the aftermath of the January 6th attacks on Congress.Lindsey-Graham

A Few Tidbits …

R.I.P. Tom Moore

Tom-MooreI start today’s post on a sad note.  You’ll remember that I’ve written about Captain Tom Moore, the UK veteran raised tens of millions of pounds for Britain’s health workers by walking 100 laps of his garden last spring.  Sadly, he died this morning after being treated for pneumonia and then testing positive for the coronavirus last month. 

Mr. Moore’s own words of optimism come back to us at this time …

“We will get through it in the end but it might take time, but at the end of the day we shall all be OK again… the sun will shine on you again and the clouds will go away.”

Reading of Tom Moore’s death first thing this morning brought a tear to my eye.  He was one of the good people and will be long remembered.  Thank you, Captain Tom Moore, for a lifetime of being a good man … the world needs many more like you.  R.I.P.

tom-moore-graffiti


The price for a conscience …

Representative Liz Cheney from Wyoming was one of ten Republicans in the House of Representatives who voted to impeach Donald Trump late last year, and now she is paying a high price.  The people of her state are turning against her, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will be meeting with her this week, possibly planning to strip her of her committee assignments and her position as House Republican Conference Chair, the third highest ranking position in the House Republican leadership.

This is ridiculous!  The woman voted her conscience, saying that Trump “summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack.”   She also called his incitement “the greatest betrayal by a president of the United States of his office.” She was correct on both counts, and yet she is likely to be asked to apologize for both her words and her vote.  Why?  Because the entire Republican Party is populated by cowards who are afraid of the ‘man’ who is no longer in the Oval Office. 

I am not a fan of Liz Cheney, but she followed the dictates of her conscience, something the rest of the slime in the Republican Party cannot do because they traded their consciences for a box of Cracker Jacks long ago.  She does not deserve to be censured or otherwise punished, and the people of Wyoming need to wake up and realize that Trump was the biggest threat this nation was facing until just 13 days ago!


And on the other hand …

On the other hand, there is Marjorie Taylor Greene, the pistol-packing idiot from Georgia who now sits in the House of Representatives.  I’ve written before about Greene, so I don’t need to repeat what I’ve already said, but she, like Ms. Cheney, will be having a one-on-one meeting with Kevin McCarthy sometime this week for her racist comments, for supporting the attack on the Capitol on January 6th, for saying she wished death upon some of her fellow members of Congress, and other behaviours not acceptable for a member of Congress.

She is likely to receive a slap on the wrist for her horrendous words and actions, though she could lose her committee assignments.  While I definitely hope she loses her committee assignments, one of which is the Education & Labour Committee … she belongs nowhere near those who make decisions concerning our children’s education!  She would likely demand that firearms training be included in every school’s curriculum! 

If McCarthy doesn’t strip her of her committee assignments, the Democrats are likely to do so.  She sits on the following committees …

  • Judiciary
  • Education and Labor
  • Energy and Commerce
  • Financial Services
  • Foreign Affairs
  • House Administration
  • Oversight and Reform
  • Transportation and Infrastructure
  • Ways and Means

She has no relevant education or experience in any one of these areas, so I’m not sure where the logic in determining her assignments was. 

But what I would really like to see is her expulsion from Congress.  It can and should be done before she causes a disaster, either by shooting someone within the Capitol (she has said she would like to see House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a bullet in her head), or by turning the House of Representatives into a three-ring circus. 

The United States Constitution (Article I, Section 5, Clause 2) provides that “Each House [of Congress] may determine the Rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member.”

It would, however, require 70 Republicans to find a conscience and vote to expel Ms. Greene, and we all know there aren’t 70 republicans with courage & conscience in the entire Congress.  Sigh.

The Filibuster, Explained

Many … perhaps most … do not quite understand what is meant by ‘filibuster’. Our friend Jeff’s post will clarify what, exactly, the filibuster is, its origins, and how it has most often been used. Thanks, Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

There’s been much debate in recent years about the efficacy of the filibuster. The Republican Party has used the arcane process to block specific meaningful legislation that would have been beneficial to millions of Americans. To be clear, Democrats have also used the filibuster; blocking judges or presidential appointees, for example.

But it’s time to take a look at what the filibuster is, what are its origins, and what important legislation it has stopped from becoming law. A couple of things stand out. For one, there is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that mentions anything about the filibuster. It’s simply a Senate rule that’s been in place for nearly 200 years. Secondly, the process was born out of pure unadulterated racism — a mechanism that allowed the despicable practice of slavery to continue being used, mostly by wealthy white land owners in the South.

To take a deeper dive into…

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