U.S.A. — Circus Of Horrors

Imagine for a moment that you are in a position of power.  Now, imagine that recently you’ve made a number of bad decisions, big mistakes, and the people who decide whether you keep your position are not pleased … not at all pleased.  How do you react?  What steps do you take to try to salvage your job?  I can’t speak for everyone, but I think I would be working extra hard to try to right my past wrongs, to put my “nose to the grindstone”, work extra hours trying to do a better job, to show my superiors that I was worth keeping on.

Donald Trump is in a position of great power.  We can argue ‘til the cows come home about whether he should ever have been handed the keys to the Oval Office, but it is a moot point, for he is there.  He has made so many mistakes over the past three years that in the business world, he would have been ousted long before now.  But in the past few months, he has made grievous mistakes, and there is reason to believe he did so with the intention of destroying the country’s democratic principles.  His superiors, at least the majority of us, are looking to end his employment via the constitutional process known as impeachment.

Under this threat, one might expect him to “man up”, admit to his mistakes and work extra hard to try to salvage his job.  But nooooooo …. instead he is ramping up his vitriolic rhetoric, lashing out at all he perceives as ‘enemies’, and turning our federal government, with the help of certain members of Congress, into a damn three-ring circus!

Yesterday, just as a Pentagon official was about to testify before a closed-door hearing of the House Intelligence Committee, a group of some thirty republican congressmen forced their way into the secure facility on Capitol Hill.  Their intrusion caused a five-hour delay in the proceedings, wasting time and taxpayer’s money.  In addition, they were taking pictures and texting on their cell phones in an area where, for security reasons, cell phones are strictly forbidden.  Are these really the people we elected to represent us in Congress, or a bunch of juvenile delinquents???

Let us be clear here … we are currently at the ‘inquiry’ stage of the impeachment process.  Inquiry … as in collecting information, interviewing witnesses, trying to piece together the details of any impeachable offense Trump may have committed.  This stage of the process is, and has always been, handled by committees and not open to any outside the committee.  Soon enough, the information they have collected will be made public, but that time is not now.  Now, the republicans that disrupted the process yesterday, led by none other than the little scrapper Matt Gaetz, claimed that the democrats were trying to withhold information from republicans, but it should be noted that there are nine republicans on the House Intelligence Committee who were to sit in on the interview!

It was later reported that Trump was aware beforehand that the republican congressmen planned this little drama show and, in fact, encouraged it.

As evidence mounts that Trump did, in fact, use the threat of withholding U.S. aid to enlist the aid and assistance of a foreign power to benefit none other than himself in next year’s election, the republicans seem to have thrown professionalism and caution to the wind and are acting like I would expect a group of five-year-old children to act.  And now this …

None other than the two-faced Lindsey Graham proposes to introduce a resolution condemning the impeachment inquiry!  The “resolution” will be co-sponsored by Moscow Mitch McConnell. Now, mind you this resolution is worth about as much as the piece of paper it will be written on and carries no weight, but … its intent is to stop the bleeding.  Trump’s approval rating has been declining and congressional republicans who have tied their fortunes to his are running scared.  This is Lindsey’s way of saying to the masses who support Trump that he did nothing wrong and that the whole impeachment process is just the mean ol’ democrats who are still pouting over losing in 2016 trying to strike back at poor, innocent little Trumpty Dumpty.

What Lindsey, Mitchie, Matt and all their other ignoble cohorts would do well to remember is that this impeachment is not only sanctioned, but also mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the very document they took an oath to uphold. This impeachment is also long overdue.  There was sufficient evidence in Robert Mueller’s report that Trump had committed impeachable offenses, but Speaker Pelosi held off beginning the process.  It is obvious that Donald Trump thinks of this nation as his own personal playground.  He takes liberties that no other president in the history of the nation has ever done before.  If I didn’t have a horse in this race, it would almost be laughable, but since I have to live in this country, I find nothing funny in any of this.

That bad employee, rather than trying to shape up and do a better job, is instead trying to burn the company down. It is time … past time … to hold Trump AND those like Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell and others who defend the indefensible, accountable for their actions, accountable for turning the U.S. into a laughingstock and our lives into the Nightmare on Elm Street.

Rep. Rooney warns his party-Will they listen?

There have been bits ‘n pieces of evidence in recent days that indicate the republicans in Congress may be getting a bit tired of Trump’s antics, a bit tired of trying to defend that which has no legitimate defense. Our friend Jeff delves into the latest and offers us some food for thought on this topic. Thanks Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

Yesterday, on CNN’s State of the Union show, Florida Representative Francis Rooney told host Jake Tapper that he was troubled by President Trump’s actions concerning the quid pro quo issue and Ukraine. So much so that he could not rule out voting to impeach the president if the evidence warranted. Rooney also fired a warning shot to his fellow Republicans concerning the future of his party.

I have a few thoughts about the Congressman’s remarks from yesterday. First, as for his concern with possibly impeaching Trump, I welcome any Republican who speaks out when they think this president has gone too far. Sadly, we haven’t had enough of them willing to do so. However, when someone does, we should commend them.

But, we shouldn’t be ready to award the man a medal for profiles in courage either. Much like former Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, Rooney has announced that…

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Why Impeachment? Because …

Ron-Chernow.pngRon Chernow is a presidential historian and biographer who has written excellent biographies of Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, and Ulysses S. Grant.  On Friday, Chernow wrote a piece for The Washington Post that gives some background and insight into the thought process behind the inclusion of impeachment in the U.S. Constitution.  I think you will be stunned by the prescience with which Alexander Hamilton predicted that Donald Trump would one day arrive on the scene.


Hamilton pushed for impeachment powers. Trump is what he had in mind.

He wanted a strong president — and a way to get rid of the demagogic ones.

By Ron Chernow

OCTOBER 18, 2019

Hamilton.jpgPresident Trump has described the impeachment proceedings as a “coup,” and his White House counsel has termed them “unconstitutional.” This would come as a surprise to Alexander Hamilton, who wrote not only the 11 essays in “The Federalist” outlining and defending the powers of the presidency, but also the two essays devoted to impeachment.

There seems little doubt, given his writings on the presidency, that Hamilton would have been aghast at Trump’s behavior and appalled by his invitation to foreign actors to meddle in our elections. As a result, he would most certainly have endorsed the current impeachment inquiry. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Trump embodies Hamilton’s worst fears about the kind of person who might someday head the government.

Among our founders, Hamilton’s views count heavily because he was the foremost proponent of a robust presidency, yet he also harbored an abiding fear that a brazen demagogue could seize the office. That worry helps to explain why he analyzed impeachment in such detail: He viewed it as a crucial instrument to curb possible abuses arising from the enlarged powers he otherwise championed.

Unlike Thomas Jefferson, with his sunny faith in the common sense of the people, Hamilton emphasized their “turbulent and changing” nature and worried about a “restless” and “daring usurper” who would excite the “jealousies and apprehensions” of his followers. He thought the country should be governed by wise and illustrious figures who would counter the fickle views of the electorate with reasoned judgments. He hoped that members of the electoral college, then expected to exercise independent judgment, would select “characters preeminent for ability and virtue.”

From the outset, Hamilton feared an unholy trinity of traits in a future president — ambition, avarice and vanity. “When avarice takes the lead in a State, it is commonly the forerunner of its fall,” he wrote as early as the Revolutionary War. He dreaded most the advent of a populist demagogue who would profess friendship for the people and pander to their prejudices while secretly betraying them. Such a false prophet would foment political frenzy and try to feed off the confusion.

So haunted was Hamilton by this specter that he conjured it up in “The Federalist” No. 1, warning that “a dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that . . . of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.”

Throughout history, despots have tended to be silent, crafty and secretive. Hamilton was more concerned with noisy, flamboyant figures, who would throw dust in voters’ eyes and veil their sinister designs behind it. These connoisseurs of chaos would employ a constant barrage of verbiage to cloud issues and blur moral lines. Such hobgoblins of Hamilton’s imagination bear an eerie resemblance to the current occupant of the White House, with his tweets, double talk and inflammatory rhetoric at rallies.

While under siege from opponents as treasury secretary, Hamilton sketched out the type of charlatan who would most threaten the republic: “When a man unprincipled in private life[,] desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper . . . despotic in his ordinary demeanour — known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty — when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity — to join in the cry of danger to liberty — to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion — to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day — It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may ‘ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.’ ” Given the way Trump has broadcast suspicions about the CIA, the FBI, the diplomatic corps, senior civil servants and the “deep state,” Hamilton’s warning about those who would seek to discredit the government as prelude to a possible autocracy seems prophetic.

At the time of the Constitutional Convention, foreign powers, notably Britain and Spain, still hovered on America’s borders, generating fear of foreign interventions in our elections. Hamilton supported the electoral college as a way to forestall these nations from seeking “to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?” He prophesied that competing countries would try to clip the wings by which America “might soar to a dangerous greatness.” That Trump was so cavalier about Russian meddling in the 2016 election and then invited Ukraine to furnish defamatory material about his political rival Joe Biden would have shocked Hamilton and the other founders, all of whom were wary of “the insidious wiles of foreign influence,” as George Washington phrased it in his farewell address.

In defending impeachment in two “Federalist” essays, one might have expected Hamilton to engage in close textual analysis, parsing the exact meaning of “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Instead he couched his defense in broad political language, stating that impeachment should “proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust.” In short, the president didn’t need to commit a crime per se. “If the federal government should overpass the just bounds of its authority and make a tyrannical use of its powers,” the people must “take such measures to redress the injury done to the Constitution as the exigency may suggest and prudence justify.” Trump’s telephone call with the Ukrainian president would seem to suggest a clear abuse of power and possibly a campaign finance violation, although we will need a fair and impartial inquiry to confirm this. As Hamilton wrote, “Caution and investigation are a necessary armor against error and imposition.”

Knowing that impeachment would be divisive, arousing violent party agitation, Hamilton never wanted it used lightly or capriciously, but neither did he want it relegated to mere window-dressing. It was a tool intended for use as conditions warranted. “If there be no penalty annexed to disobedience, the resolutions or commands which pretend to be laws will, in fact, amount to nothing more than advice or recommendation,” he wrote. For Hamilton, each branch of government required a mechanism to check encroachment by the others. He discerned a perfect symmetry between the president’s veto over legislation, constraining congressional overreach, and presidential impeachment, curbing executive excess. In his notes for the New York state convention to ratify the Constitution, he jotted down: “Legislative in the Congress, yet checked by negative of the Executive. Executive in the President, yet checked by impeachment of Congress.”

Throughout his “Federalist” essays, Hamilton foresaw impeachment as a possible two-step process and noted multiple times that after removal from office, an impeached president would “be liable to prosecution and punishment in the ordinary course of law.” He was adamant that the Senate should hold a trial, with the chief justice presiding, and pointed out that other Supreme Court justices should be excluded in case the ousted president then became a defendant for his misdeeds in the regular court system.

Our constitutional system, with its separation of powers, is an exquisitely calibrated mechanism. James Madison, one of Hamilton’s “Federalist” co-authors, noted that no single branch of government “can pretend to an exclusive or superior right of settling the boundaries between their respective powers.” But that is exactly what the president is doing by trying to shut down Congress’s powers of executive oversight.

In the last analysis, democracy isn’t just a set of institutions or shared principles, but a culture of mutual respect and civility. People must be willing to play by the rules or the best-crafted system becomes null and void, a travesty of its former self. We are now seeing on a daily basis presidential behavior that would have been unimaginable during more than two centuries of the American experiment. Not only is Trump himself on trial, but he is also testing our constitutional system to the breaking point. In his worst imaginings, however, Hamilton anticipated — at least in its general outline — the chaos and demagoguery now on display in Washington. He also helped design and defend the remedy: impeachment.

The Words Of A Wise Man

Thomas Friedman is a weekly columnist for the New York Times, a well-respected author of seven books, numerous documentaries, and the recipient of three Pulitzer prizes.  His forte is foreign affairs, global trade, the Middle East, globalization, and environmental issues.  Yesterday, his latest column crossed my desk and I felt it worthy of sharing.


It’s Not Trump vs. the Dems. It’s Trump vs. the Country’s True Defenders.

Public servants who swore to protect the Constitution also set the impeachment process in motion.

thomas-l-friedman-thumbLarge

by Thomas L. Friedman

Last Thursday and Friday, two important Americans bore witness to the state of our nation. One was President Trump, addressing political rallies. The other was Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine until suddenly told to get “on the next plane” — because Trump wanted her removed — without explanation.

Every American should contemplate their remarks, which I excerpt later, and then ask two questions: Whose speech would you want to read to your children’s civics class and which speaker do you think represents the America you want to see evolve and leave to your kids?

This exercise is vital because this impeachment process was not set in motion by the Democratic Party. It was set in motion by civil servants — whistle-blowers from the intelligence community, now supported by National Security Council staffers and diplomats. These public servants also took an oath to serve the country and protect the Constitution, and they have shown remarkable courage to risk their careers, and maybe more, to call out the president for violating his oath.

They are like antibodies fighting the cancer in our political system. John Bolton spoke for all of them when, while national security adviser, he reportedly instructed Fiona Hill, the N.S.C. Russia expert, to tell White House lawyers that he wanted no part “of whatever drug deal” the president’s cronies were cooking up as part of an off-the-books diplomatic effort being led by Rudy Giuliani to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden.

It is breathtaking that virtually no Republican lawmakers have manifested similar courage — when all they have to lose is $174,000 in salary and free parking at Reagan Washington National Airport.

This point can’t be stressed enough. Because if Trump is removed from office and the country is healed afterward, it will only be because a majority of Americans understand that this is, at its core, a fight between these noncorrupt, apolitical civil servants — whose norms and institutions make America’s government so envied and respected around the world — and Giuliani and Trump and their pals, who care only about serving themselves and their conspiracy theories.

Trump and his enablers at the state-directed Fox News want to portray this as just another partisan fight — between Trump and his Democratic rivals — in the hope that the public will shrug and say, “There they go again.” They don’t want Americans to understand that this fight is about guarding the most cherished norms and institutions that define us as a nation.

We can’t let that happen. In service of that goal, I repeat some of Trump’s and Yovanovitch’s remarks.

Here’s Trump in Louisiana: “The radical Democrats’ policies are crazy. Their politicians are corrupt. Their candidates are terrible. And they know they can’t win on Election Day, so they’re pursuing an illegal, invalid and unconstitutional bullshit impeachment.”

And here’s Trump in Minneapolis about Joe Biden: “He was only a good vice president because he understood how to kiss Barack Obama’s ass.”

And here’s Yovanovitch in her opening statement to the House impeachment investigators: “For the last 33 years, it has been my great honor to serve the American people as a Foreign Service officer, over six administrations — four Republican, and two Democratic. I have served in seven different countries, five of them hardship posts, and was appointed to serve as an ambassador three times — twice by a Republican president and once by a Democrat. Throughout my career, I have stayed true to the oath that Foreign Service officers take and observe every day: ‘that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,’ and ‘that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.’”

She added: “My parents fled Communist and Nazi regimes. Having seen, firsthand, the war, poverty and displacement common to totalitarian regimes, they valued the freedom and democracy the U.S. represents. And they raised me to cherish these values as well.”

She continued: “From August 2016 until May 2019, I served as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Our policy, fully embraced by Democrats and Republicans alike, was to help Ukraine become a stable and independent democratic state, with a market economy integrated into Europe.”

Then Yovanovitch added: “I have heard the allegation in the media that I supposedly told the embassy team to ignore the president’s orders ‘since he was going to be impeached.’ That allegation is false. I have never said such a thing, to my embassy colleagues or to anyone else. … With respect to Mayor Giuliani, I have had only minimal contacts with him. … I do not know Mr. Giuliani’s motives for attacking me. But individuals who have been named in the press as contacts of Mr. Giuliani may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.”YovanovitchAnd then she explained that after being asked in early March “to extend my tour until 2020, I was then abruptly told in late April to come back to Washington from Ukraine ‘on the next plane.’ You will understandably want to ask why my posting ended so suddenly. I wanted to learn that, too, and I tried to find out. I met with the deputy secretary of state, who informed me of the curtailment of my term.

“He said that the president had lost confidence in me and no longer wished me to serve as his ambassador. He added that there had been a concerted campaign against me, and that the department had been under pressure from the president to remove me since the summer of 2018. He also said that I had done nothing wrong and that this was not like other situations where he had recalled ambassadors for cause.”

Alas, Secretary of State Pompeo did nothing to protect her.

Yovanovitch continued: “Although I understand that I served at the pleasure of the president, I was nevertheless incredulous that the U.S. government chose to remove an ambassador based, as best as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives. …

“I have served this nation honorably for more than 30 years. … Throughout that time, I — like my colleagues at the State Department — have always believed that we enjoyed a sacred trust with our government. … We repeatedly uproot our lives, and we frequently put ourselves in harm’s way to serve this nation. And we do that willingly, because we believe in America and its special role in the world. We also believe that, in return, our government will have our backs and protect us if we come under attack from foreign interests. That basic understanding no longer holds true.”

If this is how our government will now act, great long-term harm will be done to “our nation’s interest, perhaps irreparably,” Yovanovitch concluded. We will lose “many of this nation’s most loyal and talented public servants,” and “bad actors” in countries beyond Ukraine will “see how easy it is to use fiction and innuendo to manipulate our system. In such circumstances, the only interests that will be served are those of our strategic adversaries, like Russia, that spread chaos and attack the institutions and norms that the U.S. helped create and which we have benefited from for the last 75 years.”

In both Minnesota and Louisiana, Trump supporters chanted “U.S.A., U.S.A., U.S.A.” at his red-meat lines. Read these two transcripts and then ask yourself, who’s really protecting and honoring “U.S.A., U.S.A., U.S.A.”?

Elijah Cummings — A Brief Tribute

“Our Congress & our country has lost a champion for justice, a fighter for good, an honorable and zealous leader.” – Democratic U.S. Representative Veronica Escobar

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Congressman Elijah Cummings, who was a fierce advocate for civil rights and for Maryland for more than three decades. Congressman Cummings leaves behind an incredible legacy of fighting for Baltimore City and working to improve people’s lives. He was a passionate and dedicated public servant whose countless contributions made our state and our country better.” – Republican Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland

“There was no stronger advocate and no better friend than Elijah Cummings. I am heartbroken for his wonderful family and staff—please pray for them. I will miss him dearly.” – Republican Representative, Member of the House Freedom Caucus, Mark Meadows

These are but a few of the comments that could be heard today following the announcement that U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings has died.  People on both sides of the political chasm were deeply saddened to hear of his death.  Let me tell you just a little bit about this man …

Born on 18 January 1951 in Baltimore, Maryland, his parents were sharecroppers.  But Elijah rose above his beginnings, graduating from law school at the University of Maryland School of Law, receiving his J.D. in 1976.  He practiced law for 19 years until 1996 when he successfully ran for the U.S. House of Representatives, where he has served tirelessly ever since. Elijah-4Elijah came of age in the Civil Rights era, and got his first taste of racial hatred when he was eleven years old.  He and his friends were getting too big for the small, shallow public pool where they had been spending the summer of 1962 …

“As a matter of fact, it was so small, we had to wait turns to get in.”

But there was another pool, and someone they knew as “Miss Mitchell” told them they could swim there.  It was Riverside Park Pool, an Olympic-size pool that was theoretically open to all, but the reality was somewhat different.  So, Elijah and his friends headed over to the pool, and for a few days enjoyed swimming there.  Until … hordes of arrogant white people, numbering nearly 1,000, showed up carrying signs that read “Keep Our Pool Germ Free”, “Go Back Where You Came From”, and “White People Have Rights Too”.

The mob surrounded the pool, held back by a line of police with K-9 dogs, while the kids tried to splash and play. Then, over the police officers’ heads, the mob threw rocks and bottles. One of them hit Cummings in the face, cutting his eyebrow and leaving a scar he carried all his life.  Perhaps it was this that led Cummings to a lifetime of fighting for justice.

While Cummings has long been an advocate for Civil Rights, and has fought for justice since his early days, he first came onto my radar in the wake of the murder of Freddie Gray in Cumming’s district in Baltimore.  He gave an impassioned speech at Gray’s funeral in April 2015, promising “we will not rest until we address this and see that justice is done.”

In early May of that year, charges were filed against the six officers who were involved in the murder of Freddie Gray, and riots erupted in the city.  Elijah Cummings defused the situation, placing himself between the crowd and the police, and urging protestors to go home, to be peaceful.  (Not a single one of the officers involved in Gray’s death was convicted)Elijah-3Former President Barack Obama paid tribute to Cummings this morning …

“It’s a tribute to his native Baltimore that one of its own brought such character, tact, and resolve into the halls of power every day. And true to the giants of progress he followed into public service, Chairman Cummings stood tallest and most resolute when our country needed him the most. May his example inspire more Americans to pick up the baton and carry it forward in a manner worthy of his service.”

Elijah-2.jpgElijah Cummings was one of the good guys.  There are too few of them left, and he will be sorely missed.Elijah-1

Still waiting for Republican spine

Our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters has been eavesdropping on my conversations between Me, Myself and I … only he has somehow made it sound humorous, whereas my own sound dark and foreboding. Good post, Jeff … you managed to combine humour and despair, light and dark, and did it well. Ever think about doing standup comedy? Seriously, though … thanks Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

Mark Twain once said, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence of fear.” The failure of Congressional Republicans to show the kind of courage America so desperately needs, while the leader of their party runs roughshod over our democracy, is one of the most challenging dilemmas of our time.

So perplexing in fact, that I’ve found myself talking … to myself. That’s right, after nearly four years since Donald Trump entered the political arena, I’ve now become a blithering fool. I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this. But, I guess the subconscious of my soul could only take so much.

I’m about to share some of these conversations—with myself—that occurred over the last couple of days as I walked and jogged with my two four-legged canine buddies in our Great Pacific Northwest backyard. They say admitting to one’s insanity is a significant first step. So, here it…

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Snarky Impeachment Snippets!

Y’know … I really wanted to write about almost anything except impeachment, Ukraine, Trump, Biden … the whole wacky mess.  Yes, it is probably the single most important thing happening in the U.S. today, and yes, I will continue writing about it, but I had hoped for a break tonight.  I was working on something else, but … it wasn’t going well, and the news of the moment kept distracting me and breaking into my beam of focus.  So, here I am with a couple of “Impeachment Snippets”!


Score one for the media …

I am not a fan of MSNBC, they are not among my lengthy list of ‘go-to’ resources, and I’ve never actually watched the network except for an occasional clip relevant to my topic at hand.  But, I must give them a thumbs-up for what they did yesterday afternoon.

Trump conducted his version of what passes for a press conference, scheduled at 4:00 p.m. yesterday.  The usual television media crowd was dancing attendance, and the major networks broke into their regularly scheduled programming to carry the event.

In the first seven minutes of his speech, without evidence, he alleged that former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son had profited from dealings in Ukraine (it should be noted that this has been investigated and debunked ad nauseam). He insulted journalists and accused The Washington Post of publishing a “fake article.” He asserted without evidence that Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut had “threatened” Ukrainian officials and claimed that Democrats had timed their impeachment inquiry to disrupt his trip to the United Nations.  Not a single fact to be found amongst all the lies.

It was at this point that MSNBC made the decision to tune out and turn off.

“We hate to do this, really, but the president isn’t telling the truth.”

Those were the words of anchor Nicole Wallace as MSNBC cut the video as Trump was mid-sentence.  Now, you might argue that the public has a right to know what Trump is saying, that this was censorship in some form.  Another time, I might agree with you.  But, Trump thrives on the attention of the very media he calls the “enemy of the people”, and frankly, if he cannot tell the truth, then I don’t wish to hear what he says anyway.  And, there is no doubt that his words will be repeated ad nauseam on every other network and in the print media.  The public has a right to know … truth and facts.  When all we hear is lies … of what value is it?  None, it is merely a waste of our time.

Other networks handled the lies in different ways.  Wolf Blitzer of CNN told viewers at the end that “The president leveled several distortions, falsehoods in the course of that 45 minutes.”  His colleague, Jeffrey Toobin, was more direct, saying it was a “torrent of lies”.  ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos appeared onscreen halfway through the event, informing viewers that there was “no evidence” to support Mr. Trump’s claims about the Bidens. Andrea Mitchell, on NBC, said the accusations against Mr. Murphy were “contrary to any information we have.”

The networks are, each in its own way, trying to inform viewers of the facts, and I applaud them for that.  I still think MSNBC has the right idea, if for no other reason than … can you imagine Trump if he suddenly realized that the cameras had all stopped rolling?  He needs to be held to account for his words, and if the media gives him a free pass, they are pandering to him and doing We the People a great disservice.  So, in my book, MSNBC gets a thumbs-up for this one.  👍


A man of honour?  Maybe — the jury is still out.

Today, acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Joseph Maguire, will testify in both open and closed hearings before Congress about the report filed with his office by the unnamed whistleblower who provided the information about Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, among other things to which we are not yet privy.  Now, Maguire was somewhat unexpectedly thrust into this position last month when former DNI Dan Coats resigned.  You may remember that it was rumoured in White House circles that Coats was about to be fired because he was taking the matter of election security a little too seriously to suit Trump.

Knowing that in the past, those who testified before Congress were given strict guidance by the White House, i.e. Trump & Co., regarding what they could and could not discuss.  Maguire, it was reported by The Washington Post, threatened to resign over concerns that the White House might attempt to force him to stonewall Congress when he testifies.  Since that report yesterday, Maguire has denied that he threatened to resign, but after consideration, the Post stands by its story, which indicates a high probability of veracity.

It is said that Maguire pushed the White House to make an explicit legal decision on whether it would assert executive privilege over the whistleblower complaint.  My opinion?  If he cannot speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, then why waste time and money?  Thus far, every single person with the possible exception of Michael Cohen, who has testified before Congress as regards investigations into Trump’s likely crimes, has been stifled by Trump’s lawyers.  Is there any reason to believe that this time will be different?  I doubt it.


And about William Barr …

The Attorney General of the United States has proven time and time again that there are no boundaries to his corruption, no lengths to which he will not go to protect Trump from … well, Trump!  But this latest might well become his undoing, and frankly I hope it does, for he has proven he has no conscience, no dedication to right vs wrong, and no respect for the law of the land.

Among the recent eyebrow-raising issues …

  • Per the transcript of Trump’s call with the Ukraine president, he indicated that Barr was involved, or would be, with the attempt to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, saying “I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it. I will ask [Rudolph Giuliani] to call you along with the Attorney General.”
  • The Justice Department, i.e. AG William Barr, gave the DNI a written legal opinion demanding his refusal to turn over the whistleblower’s complaint, as the DNI was required by law, to do.

At this point we should remind ourselves that the entire reason Barr is Attorney General is that he made clear that, unlike his predecessor Jeff Sessions, he would make protecting Trump his highest priority.  Think about that one for a bit, my friends.


Well, I have exceeded my self-imposed word limit, and I need to get busy on my music post, so I will now return you to your regularly scheduled activities … that is, if I haven’t already put you to sleep.

Open Letter To Congress …

Dear Congressperson …

Yesterday was a day that will live on in history.  In more than 150 nations, over 4 million people (and counting) turned out in thousands of cities and towns around the globe to raise awareness and to demand action from governments.  Their words, “You had a future and so should we”, and “We vote next”, should have opened your eyes, but somehow, I sense that you are wearing blinders and did not see their banners, and have ears stuffed with cotton and did not hear their chants.

My purpose in writing this letter is to put you on notice that you are marching to the beat of the wrong drummer.  You are putting your own interests, and those of such large corporations as the fossil fuel, logging, and auto industries ahead of the well-being of not only your constituents, but all life on the planet.  Those aforementioned industries, as well as the gun lobby, may put money into your re-election campaigns, but they are not the ones who pay your salary, and they are not the majority whose votes will determine your future on November 3rd, 2020.

Make no mistake … there is a genuine climate emergency happening right under your very nose.  You know it’s true … all you have to do is listen to the scientists who, frankly, are much better educated in the subject than you.  All you have to do is check the weather for the past nine months to see that 2019 has been the hottest year on record.  Ever.  You have no excuse for saying that climate change isn’t real, that it isn’t caused by human activities.  All you have to do is read how many bees and birds have been lost in the past decade.  How many species are either extinct or bordering on extinction.

Rather than act to preserve life on earth, you sit back on your thumbs and allow a madman in the Oval Office to repeal environmental regulations that were never enough but were at least a start.  You allow him to make our air much dirtier, our water less safe, and our entire world a much uglier place.  And all for what?  How much benefit do you think you’ll get from those few hundred thousand dollars that are being added to your coffers when your children cannot even go outside to play because the air is not breathable?

Of the 192 nations on the globe, 190 are actively trying to change the way they do things in order to fix what the industrialized nations have broken – our environment.  All except the United States and Brazil are at least making an effort.  How does that make you feel?  Do you feel proud?  Believe me when I say that the majority of people in this nation look at you and see a person who has sold us downriver to line his own pockets.

Now, let me give you something to ponder on as you lie in bed tonight trying to sleep.  If every other nation is putting their efforts into replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources in order to save lives, and we are not, how long do you think it will be before they collectively take action against the U.S.?  Think about it this way … you live in a neighborhood where everyone takes good care of their property … lawns are neatly manicured, sidewalks are swept, no trash or litter is lying around.  But, there is one family who just doesn’t take care at all of their property.  There is trash all over their yard, and every time the wind blows, their trash is blown into your yard and every other.  How long before you and your neighbors take action against this one family?  Not long, I’m betting.

Whether you like it or not, we live in an age of globalization. Every nation is in some form or fashion dependent on the others.  Technology has made it so, and there is no turning back.  There are at least a few nations that have the ability, should they choose to use it, to shut down the U.S. power grid today … tomorrow … or the next day.  I hear you saying that we have the technology to stop such an attack, but do we really?  Congressman … we couldn’t stop Russia from hacking the 2016 election, so how great do you really think our security systems are?  I’m guessing not all that great.

The U.S. Constitution provided a system of ‘checks and balances’ with the intention of keeping any one branch of government from gaining so much power that they would pose a danger to the democratic principles of this nation.  Those checks and balances, however, only work when everybody does their job, when Congress actively provides oversight of the executive branch, the president.  YOU ARE NOT DOING YOUR JOB!!!  You are taking a salary that millions of people work their asses off every day to provide you, and in return you are giving us nothing!

Protecting and repairing the environment is the single most important issue facing this nation and the world today, and you are playing Russian Roulette with it, with our lives.  Frankly, your ridiculous crypto currency, your pet projects, even the economy … none of them matter one whit if we don’t address the climate crisis and NOW.  Not next year, or a decade from now … TODAY!

As a citizen and taxpayer, I am determined to do everything in my power, little though that may be, to make the public aware of just how little you are doing, how little regard you have for our lives, in hopes that you will be replaced with someone who actually cares more for life than profit next year.  I find much of this entire Congress to be a sorry lot indeed, especially those of you in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry and the NRA.  You allow the person whose fat arse is sitting in the Oval Office to bully you, and you cower under his wrath.  At what cost?  The cost of all life on earth.

Be afraid, Congressman … be very afraid, for those of us who care more about life than profit are the majority and we are energized, we are sick and damn tired of paying you to further your own interests instead of looking after ours.

Only in America

It’s September, and you know what that means!  Shorter days, cooler temperatures, the leaves on the trees starting to turn from green to vibrant gold, purple and red.  Pumpkins and apples, the smell of woodsmoke in the air, and … oh yes, those big yellow buses once again rumbling down the street – back to school! school-bus.pngYou won’t see a back-to-school ad like this in France, Germany, or the UK.  You won’t even see an ad like this in Syria or Afghanistan.  Only in America would you would ever see an advertisement like this one.

That was a Public Service Announcement by the Sandy Hook Promise, an anti-violence nonprofit founded by the parents of victims of the Sandy Hook shootings in 2012.  Raw, jaw-dropping, disturbing?  Yeah, it was meant to be.  Only in America.  What a claim to fame, eh?

This morning, I watched the neighborhood kids walking down the street, backpacks slung over their shoulders, heading to the corner to await the big yellow bus.  I was thinking, as I watched, that I hope they all make it home safe and sound today.  Only in America.

We do everything possible to make sure our kids are safe from the day they are born.  We spend hundreds of dollars on the best car seat to protect them in case of a crash. We spend even more on monitoring systems so that we can listen for the slightest aberration in their breathing while they sleep.  We sterilize their bottles and insist on only the purest ingredients in their food.  We buy them helmets and other safety equipment to protect them in the event of a fall from a bicycle or skateboard.  But the one thing the citizens of this nation refuse to do to protect their children is to demand Congress pass laws to limit guns in the hands of unqualified civilians.

I’ve often wondered, if Mitch McConnell’s grandchild were the victim of a school shooter, would he then be willing to talk about gun legislation?

Only in the U.S. will you find these …backpacksYep … kid-themed bullet-proof backpacks.  Wow, huh?  According to a CBS News report …

“Demand for bulletproof and bullet-resistant backpacks and related products are soaring this back-to-school season amid growing fear about mass shooters.”

Of course, they are only useful if the child is shot in the back and if he happens to be wearing his backpack at the time he is shot.  What next?  Full body armour and bullet-proof helmets?  Only in America.

Nearly a quarter of a million children have been affected by gun violence in their schools since Columbine in 1999.  Think about that one for a minute.  And we’re not talking about New York City, Houston, or Los Angeles, folks!  We’re talking about Newtown, Connecticut, population 27,560.  We’re talking about Parkland, Florida, population 32,202.  Columbine, Colorado, population 24,280.  The madness isn’t just in the cities … it has come right to a neighborhood near you.  Or, maybe it has come to your neighborhood.

school-shootingsThe NRA and our own lawmakers have suggested that arming teachers is the solution … more guns.  But we all know it isn’t.  Guns don’t belong in schools.  Period.  Not in the hands of teachers, and for damn sure not in the hands of students.  Only in America would such a ludicrous proposal even be considered.

The only answer is serious gun regulation.  You know it and I know it.  Our legislators know it, but their children are safe, they go to posh private schools with the latest technology to protect their children, and thus their interests lie in lining their pockets with donations from the gun industry.  What does it matter if a few of our children die?  Only in America.

Think of your children, your grandchildren, the kid down the street who brought you a handful of wilting wildflowers last week “just because”.  I think the video by Sandy Hook Promise should be required watching for every single lawmaker in this country.  Let them think how they would feel if that little girl in the bathroom at the end were their own child.  Only in America.

Constitution Day???

Yesterday, September 17th, was Constitution Day, a U.S. federal observance that recognizes the adoption of the United States Constitution. It is observed on September 17, the day in 1787 that delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the document in Philadelphia.

The Constitution has served this nation well for 232 years, however its future is in jeopardy today, its fate in the hands of the last person to take the presidential oath of office.  The last one to swear to “uphold” the Constitution, has trampled it almost beyond recognition.  I came across an OpEd in The Week that makes the case as well as, if not better than I could.

Happy Constitution Day to King Trump

Windsor MannWindsor Mann

Happy Constitution Day! Or, if you’re President Trump, Happy Thing You Haven’t Read Day!

During the Obama presidency, conservatives fancied themselves “constitutionalists.” In 2011, members of Congress read the Constitution in its entirety on the floor of the House of Representatives, something that Congress had never done before. Rep. Michele Bachman (R-Minn.) said this proved that Republicans were “serious about respecting the Constitution.”

Indeed, Republicans were so serious about respecting the Constitution that some of them questioned whether President Obama had violated Article II, Section 1, which requires the president to have been born in the United States. Donald Trump was one of them.

Republican adherence to the Constitution evaporated as soon as Trump took office. No president in modern American history has displayed more contempt for — and ignorance of — the Constitution than Trump has.

Trump said that Article II of the Constitution gives him “the right to do whatever I want,” which is incorrect. He said he admires Article XII, which doesn’t exist. As Jonah Goldberg said, “Every time you hear him talk about the Constitution, it’s like he’s trying to remember his high-school French.”

Of the 27 Amendments to the Constitution, Trump has spoken contemptuously of at least 10. His least favorite is the first. Before becoming president, Trump promised “to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.” By “they” he meant “anyone who isn’t nice to me.”

“It’s frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write,” Trump said in 2017. “And people should look into it.”

In July, Trump accused Google, Facebook, and Twitter of “discriminating against conservatives” and promised to use “all regulatory and legislative solutions” against them. In August, he complained that Fox News wasn’t “working” for him. Trump has more respect for his ex-wives than he does for freedom of the press.

He isn’t even a reliable advocate of the Second Amendment. In February 2018, Trump advocated illegal gun seizures. “I like taking guns away early,” he said. “Take the guns first, go through due process second.” Insofar as he defends the Second Amendment, he defends only the second half of it. Like the NRA, he has no interest in “A well regulated Militia,” which, of course, would entail regulations on guns.

Trump called the Fifth Amendment “horrible” and “disgraceful.”

Trump supports cruel and unusual punishment (proscribed by the Eighth Amendment), unless he is the recipient. He implored police officers to beat up suspects and suggested that drug dealers be given the death penalty.

He opposes birthright citizenship, which is guaranteed under the 14th Amendment. “So-called Birthright Citizenship, which costs our Country billions of dollars and is very unfair to our citizens, will be ended one way or the other,” he tweeted.

Trump really, really dislikes the 22nd Amendment, which limits a president to two terms. Last year, he expressed interest in being “president for life.” He recently said he’d leave office in “maybe 10 or 14” years.

As for the 25th Amendment, which provides for the removal of a president if he “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” Trump quoted Alan Dershowitz: “Trying to use the 25th Amendment to try and circumvent the Election is a despicable act of unconstitutional power grabbing.” According to this view, using the Constitution to remove Trump from office is unconstitutional.

“In Republican government,” James Madison said, “the legislative authority necessarily predominates.” Trump disagrees. As New York’s Josh Barro observed, Trump views congressional Republicans as his employees. Some congressional Republicans view themselves that way, too. A Republican congressman said that Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Cal.) “works for” and “answers to” Trump.

Trump’s anti-constitutionalism runs through his party. Forty-three percent of Republicans think Trump “should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior.” In 2017, 52 percent of Republicans said they would support postponing the 2020 election if Trump told them to.

There’s a good chance that many of these people call themselves “constitutional conservatives.” They revere the Constitution in the abstract, in much the same way they cherish the flag, the national anthem, and the pledge of allegiance. To them it is a symbol, not a mechanism for governance.

In 2016, the Republican governor of Maine reckoned that America needed “Donald Trump to show some authoritarian power in our country and bring back the rule of law.” This made no sense, of course. Defying the rule of law is no way to bring it back.

Trumpism and constitutionalism are incompatible. The former entails the concentration of power in a single individual. The latter entails the dispU.ersion of it.

Trump took an oath to uphold the Constitution and to see that the laws be faithfully executed. Yet he reportedly promised pardons to aides who knowingly broke the law to build his much-hyped border wall.

In 2015, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) wrote the foreword to a book called Lawless: The Obama Administration’s Unprecedented Assault on the Constitution and the Rule of Law. I hope he writes a follow-up about the Trump administration.