U.S. Fails Puerto Rico — Again

Last Tuesday, after ten days of experiencing earth tremors, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico was hit with an earthquake measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale.  Yesterday morning, after days of aftershocks, the island was once again hit with a 5.9-magnitude quake, and today they are experiencing more aftershocks.

PR-flagPuerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States; its 3.4 million residents are citizens of the United States who pay federal taxes and pay into Social Security and Medicare just as any other U.S. citizen.

If almost any city in the continental U.S. had been hit with two earthquakes of this magnitude in under a week, it would be headline news every day, and the federal government would be sending troops to help residents, keep the streets safe, prevent looting, and assist in cleanup operations.  For Puerto Rico?  The government is doing nothing as far as I can tell.

You may remember that in 2017, Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria, with nearly 3,000 human lives lost as a result of the Category 4 storm.  The island still has not fully recovered and they are still waiting for some $18 billion in federal funding that was designated by Congress after Maria.  The holdup has continued past a congressionally mandated deadline last fall for more than $8 billion of the aid to be officially announced, and on Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused the Trump administration of acting unlawfully in withholding the money. (Perhaps he is waiting for them to dig up dirt on Joe Biden?)

You may also recall that after Hurricane Maria, Donald Trump briefly visited the island and … threw rolls of paper towels into the crowd of people who had come to hear him speak, hoping for promise of some real help. trump-paper-towels.jpgTrump has repeatedly claimed that he has done more for Puerto Rico than any other U.S. president, but I think if you ask the citizens of Puerto Rico, they’ll tell you that is naught but another of his lies.  In the aftermath of Tuesday’s earthquake, not a word has been heard from Trump, though he did sign a disaster relief bill authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist.  If it had happened in San Francisco or Miami, he would have at least been tweeting “thoughts and prayers”.  But for Puerto Rico, nothing.

But, the federal government is not the only one who is kicking the Puerto Ricans while they are down!  Given that the aftershocks have not ceased since the initial quake, it is understandable that many residents are trying to leave the island.  Now, on an average day, a ticket from Puerto Rico to Florida would run between $85 – $120.  Today, both United and Delta Airlines are charging between $249 – $349 – a nearly 200% increase!  This, my friends, is how capitalism works. They call it the law of supply and demand, but I call it unconscionable opportunism.  This is taking advantage of people who are desperate.  This makes me sick.

The Florida Attorney General’s office says that airlines prices do not fall under the state’s price gouging statute, and even then, the statute only applies when Florida is under a state of emergency.  The Better Business Bureau said there is no regulation in place for prices of airline tickets during natural disasters.

All in all, Puerto Ricans have gotten a raw deal from the U.S. and the president of the country is too busy assassinating foreign leaders, lying about the reasons for doing so, tweeting criticisms of anybody & everybody, falsely bragging about being the greatest president ever, and ranting about having been impeached, to do his job, to help suffering people.  Meanwhile, Puerto Ricans are without power, many are sleeping outside for fear of the next quake, and most cannot afford to leave and have nowhere else to go.  Once again, I am deeply ashamed of this nation … we have sunk to a new low.

We Must Applaud Political Courage

As always, our friend Keith brings a bit of reasoned calm to the dialogue of the past several days. Please give it a look. Thank you, Keith!

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Earlier this week, two Republican Senators, Mike Lee and Rand Paul, said the briefing by the White House on the assassination of the Iranian Soleimani, was not just poor, but the worst of briefings. I applaud their political courage to push back on the president for less than satisfactory explanation. I have called each Senator to share my thank you as an Independent and former Republican voter.

I had the same type of kudos for the parade of diplomats and other public servants who testified under oath and at great risk to the House Intelligence committee about their concerns over the shadow diplomacy being used by the president in Ukraine to strong arm action for his personal benefit. I watched these witnesses speak under oath about how we should be doing our best to nurture and protect the young democracy in Ukraine. On the flip side, I saw a president…

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The Monsters Under My Bed

Some nights, of late, there are monsters under my bed, just like when I was a child.  Some nights, the nightmares are vivid and I wake up thinking that I am screaming, but not a peep is coming out of my dry throat.  Given the things I write about, the things we all live with day-to-day, I suppose it’s no wonder.


Who knew a tweet …

Could cause such a stir?  Here’s how it started …

U.S. Representative Paul Gosar from Arizona, a republican, posted this tweet

rouhani-obama-tweet-2.jpgThe image purports to show President Barack Obama shaking hands with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran.

Trouble is, other than the obvious, that a) the photo was photoshopped – Obama never met Rouhani in person, and b) Rouhani is still in power, still the president of Iran.  The purpose?  Well, as best as anyone can figure, Mr. Gosar was, as many republicans have been scrambling to do over the past several days, attempting to find some justification or purpose for Trump ordering the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s second-highest ranking government official. The name of the game is “blame Obama”.

But Mr. Gosar’s response, when it was pointed out that this was obviously a fake picture, is what I find interesting.  His response was basically of the “yeah, so what?” sort …Gosar-tweetI guess that makes me a dimwit, eh?

Y’know, folks, Trump & Co, the Republican Party as a whole, have an unnatural hatred of President Obama and seemingly everything he stood for, but it has gone many steps too far.  Obama was a hundred times the man Trump is, and a thousand times better president than Trump.  It’s time for the republicans in power to start doing their jobs and stop finding ways to prove how much they hated having an African-American president, for that is what it really all boils down to.

Mr. Gosar has flown onto my radar a time or two before.  For one, he is a member of the ignoble House Freedom Caucus – a misnomer if ever there was one.  And for another, as a recipient of donations from the NRA.  He has engaged in conspiracy theories ala Alex Jones about such things as the fatal Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, and has also supported Iowa Representative Steve King, who was removed from his congressional committees for his blatantly racist public remarks.  He has accused both the FBI and the Department of Justice of treason and has referred to Native Americans as “wards of the federal government”.  He claims that the 2nd Amendment is the single most important amendment set forth by the Bill of Rights, even more important than the 1st Amendment, freedom of speech, press & religion.  He has signed the Koch Brothers pledge promising to vote against any legislation to combat global warming.  In September 2018, prior to the 2018 elections, six of Gosar’s nine siblings actively supported his democratic opponent, David Brill, saying their brother had become an extremist.  And the list goes on … this is the face of our republicans in Congress today, my friends.  This is the sort of garbage that has been lured out from under the rocks in the past decade.  Thirty years ago, such a sample of pond scum would not have gotten even 1% of the vote.

Arizona … do not send this dolt back to Washington in November!  You dishonour the name of your favourite son, the late, great John McCain when you send your trash to Congress!


Tie his hands … please!!!

The House of Representatives is expected to vote today on a resolution to force the president to halt any military action against Iran unless Congress authorizes it.  Nothing quite like closing the barn door after the cow’s already out, eh?

The measure would require that Trump cease all action against Iran unless Congress votes in advance to approve it, effectively tying his hands in the escalation of tensions between Trump and Iran.  We all see the handwriting on the wall, yes?  The House, with a democratic majority, will approve it and send it to the Senate where either it will languish along with a few hundred other House-passed bills, or rapidly be voted down.  There is a ray of hope, albeit a slim ray, because yesterday, two Republicans signaled they were inclined to support it.  Just need two more … any takers?  Doubtful, as most congressional republicans are still praising Trump for assassinating Iran’s highest ranking general.

In her statement yesterday, Nancy Pelosi said …

“Members of Congress have serious, urgent concerns about the administration’s decision to engage in hostilities against Iran and about its lack of strategy moving forward. Our concerns were not addressed by the president’s insufficient War Powers Act notification and by the administration’s briefing today.”

The divide in Congress is representative of the divide in this nation … and it is a lethal divide.  Make no mistake … that old saying, “United we stand, Divided we fall” is apt.  We certainly cannot continue as we are … that much is clear.  There is a disconnect among the people of this nation, and it extends well beyond political parties.  Donald Trump and his minions are using that disconnect to widen the gap, to make this nation so dysfunctional that it is an easy prey.  Frankly, I am sick to the death of the “us vs them” mentality. Trump-fate

The Stuff Nightmares Are Made Of …

I thought I had said all I wanted to say, for the moment, in yesterday afternoon’s post regarding Trump’s ignorant decision to assassinate Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.  I was wrong.  This is one that may occupy any number of posts here on Filosofa’s Word in the coming weeks/months.  Sigh.

Every time there is new “breaking news” on the topic, my growling escalates just a bit.  The latest?

“Trump says Iranian military leader was killed by drone strike ‘to stop a war,’ warns Iran not to retaliate”

Seriously???  The way to ‘stop a war’, especially one that doesn’t exist, is to kill people??? Is this more of that alternative facts stuff that Kellyanne so likes to spout?  He ‘warns’ Iran not to retaliate???  WTF???  Who does he think he is that he can shake his short finger, while saying “unh unh unh” and The Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will just sit down, hang his head, and slink quietly away?  Not a chance, Donnie Boy!  Do you even remember 1979??? Go back to Georgia or Mar-a-Lago or wherever you came from, for you are so far out of your league that you don’t even merit the position of water boy!

Whew … puffa puffa puffa … this has been happening all day long …

So, Iran will retaliate … it isn’t a matter of “if”, but “where, when and how”.  Trump is an ignorant slob if he believes that him ‘warning’ them not to retaliate will phase the powers that be in Iran.  And nobody else thinks so, either, for cities around the U.S. are on high alert tonight, as are embassies around the globe. What then, once Iran retaliates?  Two choices … war, or back down.  I vote we opt, just for once, to put all human life ahead of the egos in Washington, tuck our tails between our legs, and go home peacefully.  But will Trump?  Not unless cooler heads prevail and tell him in no uncertain terms that they do not support any further action against Iran on our behalf.  Even then, he isn’t likely to listen, for remember … he claims to have “great and unmatched wisdom”.

So, what are the ramifications here?  Many.  For starters, lives will be lost, and soon, unless I miss my guess.  And those lives are on Trump’s shoulders, whether they are the lives of U.S. citizens, Iraqis, Iranians, or the people on the island of Gullah Gullah!

Next up … our allies have lost whatever little faith they still had in this nation, for we have put them in the line of fire, through no fault of their own.  And when I say “we”, make no mistake, I blame Trump first and foremost, but after him I blame all the jackasses in Congress who have been licking his boots, such as YOU, Warren Davidson, and Mitchell McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Jim Jordan, Devin Nunes, and many others.  YOU ALL have blood on your hands!  And I also blame all those average Joe’s in this nation who continue to support the megalomaniac in the Oval Office who has brought all this down on us.  That means YOU, Kitty Cline, and YOU, Lisa Connelly or whatever your name is now, and YOU Janet Klar!

Our allies have been struggling to keep the Iran nuclear agreement intact since Trump pulled out of it for no other reason than President Obama’s signature was on it.  They have worked hard to ensure that Iran would agree not to develop nuclear weapons that would make the world a lot less safe.  The agreement was working and by all reports from independent inspectors, Iran was keeping their end of the deal.  And then along came the bastard who couldn’t stand the fact that his predecessor had accomplished something remarkably good, and he tore it up and threw it in the trash, saying that he could get a ‘better deal’.  Only … he never even tried.  He left our friends – France, the United Kingdom, and the European Union – hanging out to dry, struggling to keep the deal afloat without the U.S.

My heart broke this evening when I read a comment from one of my dearest friends in the UK that read, in part …

“I had not long finished reading about this before I saw your Snarky post. I was horrified. While the rest of your ‘allies’ are trying to keep the Nuclear Agreement alive, Trump does this and doesn’t even have the courtesy to inform us. I no longer consider America a friend to my country as long as this lunatic is in charge.”

I know he did not mean me or my readers, but our nation as a whole … still, it breaks my heart to think that some 40% of the people in this nation, some of whom I once called “friend”, have brought us to this point, the point at which we are no longer trusted, no longer respected.  And deservedly so.  It is not only our politicians who have brought the wrath down on us, but the average Joe who thinks Trump is “telling it like it is”, who says, “he’s one of us”.  He is NOT telling the truth about anything on any day!  And he is NOT “one of us”!  He is a spoiled brat jerk who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, whose daddy bought his way out of trouble more than once, out of the military, and bought his worthless business degree from Wharton.  He has NEVER in his life been held accountable, has never missed a meal (obviously), and has a complete lack of conscience.

As it became clear that Trump would and should be impeached, I warned that if he felt trapped, he would respond like a trapped animal, he would do something so horrendous that it would take all eyes away from impeachment, away from his crimes.

The world now stands at a precipice … even the experts are not sure what will happen next, but the one certainty is that Donald’s taking matters into his own hands without consulting Middle East experts, without consulting our allies, and without notifying Congress has put every man, woman and child on this planet in danger.  My best idea yet is to send Trump Sr., Junior, Eric, and Ivanka all to fight on the front lines when war breaks out … they are more expendable than John Doe!

Thus concludes my rant for tonight … I shall go take a shower now.  My sincere apologies to Keith, for I could not stop the rant, no matter how I tried.  Stay tuned, for I’m fairly certain there will be more.  And my apologies that there is no Saturday Surprise this week … I think you can understand.

Two Very Different Men in Congress …

As I reported last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, along with Lindsey Graham and other republicans in the Senate, clearly stated that he has no intention of conducting a fair and impartial impeachment trial, but that he plans to “coordinate with the White House” every step of the way.  Well, that raised my hackles, for it is an intentional dereliction of his sworn duty to uphold the U.S. Constitution, but apparently it didn’t set too well with some others, as well.

First, Senator Lisa Murkowski from Alaska, the only republican to have voted “Nay” to the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, said …

“When I heard that I was disturbed. To me it means that we have to take that step back from being hand in glove with the defense, and so I heard what leader McConnell had said, I happened to think that that has further confused the process. For me to prejudge and say there’s nothing there or on the other hand, he should be impeached yesterday, that’s wrong, in my view, that’s wrong.”

While I applaud Senator Murkowski’s courage, I wish she had gone a step or two further.  But, another voice of dissention has been heard, this one from an editorial piece in one of Mitch’s home state’s largest newspapers, The Louisville Courier-Journal.

The framers wanted to make sure the Senate would never take such a trial lightly — this oath requirement is over and above the oath each senator has already taken to support the Constitution. The Constitution does not set out the text of the trial oath, but the Senate rules do. Senators will ‘solemnly swear… that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald J. Trump, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: So help me God’ 

 The presidential oath and the senatorial oath to be taken before an impeachment trial are kin. The president must act faithfully and without corruption. In those (presumably) rare situations in which the president has failed to be faithful, the Senate is required to be faithful in its adjudication of the case against him.

But we have already seen indications that McConnell has no intention of doing impartial justice. He has said that he does not consider himself an “impartial juror.” He is coordinating strategy with the White House. He has already called the case against the president “thin” and “incoherent.”

Every senator has a constitutional obligation of impartiality. But McConnell’s role as Senate leader makes his obligation even more important and crucial to the constitutional framework. This is not a time for political cynicism or constitutional faithlessness. McConnell’s loyalty to Trump should not overwhelm his loyalty to the Constitution. If he fails in this, he is not only violating his Article I oath but his Article VI oath.

The GOP line that the whole process is based on hearsay — not even accurate as an evidentiary matter  — could be easily ameliorated by hearing from more people who have direct knowledge of Trump’s mendacity, abuse of power and attempts at cover-ups.

 Short of declaring war, the Senate is about to conduct its gravest and most serious constitutional obligation — to exercise the “sole power to try” impeachments. All senators should take their obligation of faithful impartiality seriously, especially McConnell. History is watching, and it will be a harsh judge.

The editorial was written by Kent Greenfield, a sixth-generation Kentuckian, and professor of law and Dean’s Distinguished Scholar at Boston College … a man who knows of what he speaks.

I am encouraged that there is some backlash against McConnell’s stance, though it is far too little.  At the very least, the full Senate should be appalled enough by McConnell’s remarks, the violation of his oath, that they would vote unanimously to remove him as Senate Majority Leader … perhaps put Senator Murkowski in that position.  Otherwise, in the opinion of this writer, they will have lost all credibility for they will have failed We the People.


In other news, it was with deep sadness that I read yesterday that Representative John Lewis has been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, a deadly disease with a 5-year survival rate of only about 1%.  Mr. Lewis is one of the most respected members of Congress, well-known for his Civil Rights activism back in the days of segregated lunch counters and Freedom Rides.  He was beaten and arrested, but still he fought for the rights of African-Americans.  And he says he will fight this, too …

John-Lewis-Barack-Obama-medal

President Barack Obama awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to John Lewis in 2011

“This month in a routine medical visit, and subsequent tests, doctors discovered Stage IV pancreatic cancer. This diagnosis has been reconfirmed.

While I am clear-eyed about the prognosis, doctors have told me that recent medical advances have made this type of cancer treatable in many cases, that treatment options are no longer as debilitating as they once were, and that I have a fighting chance.

So I have decided to do what I know to do and do what I have always done: I am going to fight it and keep fighting for the Beloved Community. We still have many bridges to cross.

To my constituents: being your representative in Congress is the honor of a lifetime. I will return to Washington in coming days to continue our work and begin my treatment plan, which will occur over the next several weeks. I may miss a few votes during this period, but with God’s grace I will be back on the front lines soon.

Please keep me in your prayers as I begin this journey.”

If anybody can beat this, my money would be on John Lewis.  I hope … I really hope that his fighting spirit can bring him through this … he is a good man and this nation needs him now as much as at any other time.

Ignorance Is NOT Bliss!

Yo … republicans!  Gather ‘round here for just a minute … I want you to listen to this bit from a speech your so-called president gave on Saturday …

“We’ll have an economy based on wind. I never understood wind. You know, I know windmills very much. I’ve studied it better than anybody. I know it’s very expensive. They’re made in China and Germany mostly — very few made here, almost none. But they’re manufactured tremendous — if you’re into this — tremendous fumes. Gases are spewing into the atmosphere. You know we have a world, right? So the world is tiny compared to the universe. So tremendous, tremendous amount of fumes and everything. You talk about the carbon footprint — fumes are spewing into the air. Right? Spewing. Whether it’s in China, Germany, it’s going into the air. It’s our air, their air, everything — right? So they make these things and then they put them up. They are noisy. They kill the birds. You want to see a bird graveyard, go under a windmill someday. You will see more dead birds than you’ve ever seen in your life.”

“I know windmills very much.  I’ve studied it better than anybody”???  What the hell does that even mean???  Trump claims that he doesn’t drink alcohol, but I’m not so sure I believe that, for he sure sounded like an old drunk to me!  He uttered 156 words that made not one little bit of sense, that had absolutely no meaning, except to prove his utter ignorance, for not one single thing he said is true!!!  And some of you guys still think he’s the greatest thing since sliced white bread???

The stupidity is astounding, would be astounding coming from anybody, but … the leader of a nation of some 330 million people?  No … just no.  But wait … it gets even worse.

He was speaking to approximately 5,000 high school and college students at the Turning Point USA conference in West Palm Beach, Florida.turning-point.pngAlso in attendance were Don Junior, Melania, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Dinesh D’Souza, Ted Cruz, Matt Gaetz, and Rudy Giuliani.  What a bunch, eh?  What is most disgusting, though, is that these young people, the future of this nation, were wildly enthusiastic about Trump’s message.  The topic that seemed to get the loudest applause, and a standing ovation, was when he bragged about turning away asylum seekers and exaggerated the amount of new border wall that his administration has built.  They repeatedly jumped to their feet, at one point chanting, “Four more years.”  And the part that should give you cold chills came when Trump yelled …

“From now on, start yelling 16 more years.”

This is not the first time he has hinted at or alluded to serving more than the maximum two terms.  This is not the first time, nor is it likely to be the last, that he has given the distinct impression that he will not leave the Oval Office without a fight, that he sees himself as a “ruler for life”.  The U.S. Constitution places certain limitations on the power of the presidency, but Donald Trump has shown disdain for the very document he took an oath to uphold.  Sure, there are ‘checks and balances’, but again, he has already broken those in more ways than one.  And he has his slavishly loyal supporters in Congress who refuse to do their job and rein in his power.

There are so many reasons that Trump must go, or we will find that by the end of his second term he has managed to destroy whatever was once good about this nation. And there is no reason he should be re-elected … not one single reason.  If the republicans put him back in office, it may well be the darkest day in the history of this nation, and will certainly be the darkest day for the future of the nation.  Read that bit of his speech from Saturday again and tell me if you think this is a person suited to lead.

Pelosi Rules

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives … some love her, some hate her, but love or hate her, she knows her job and does it like a pro! Our friend Jeff has summarized her most recent accomplishment … impeaching the most corrupt president in history! Thank you, Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

And Trump can’t stand it

A few weeks ago, I wrote about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s all-in decision to bring articles of impeachment against President Trump. She spoke loud and clear then, and she spoke loud and clear last night as the House of Representatives approved two articles of impeachment against the president. Speaker Pelosi is, without a doubt, the most powerful woman in the United States of America. And it drives Donald Trump crazy.

The way she’s handled the whole process, from beginning to end, should be a lesson for all future Speakers. In my lifetime, I don’t know that there’s ever been a Speaker with her skills. Some describe her as being like a conductor of a symphony. Considering the whole process took less than three months, the speed and precision of her rule certainly deserves high praise for such a virtuoso performance.

But it’s not just the…

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Filosofa Snarks Some More …

My rant earlier today fueled my snarky side and I’ve been in a foul mood all day, even smacking myself upside the head a few times, and cursing at the washing machine.  It seems, if you read the news even just for a few minutes, that sanity is a thing of the past in this nation.


Helping the poor?

When you think of ‘helping the poor’, what are some of the first things that come to mind?  Volunteering at a homeless shelter or food kitchen, donating to worthy charities, giving clothes you no longer wear to organizations that distribute them to the poor, etc., right?  Well, here’s one to add to your list – upgrading sports arenas!  That’s right, folks.  According to Bloomberg …

For decades, the U.S. has required banks to steer a portion of their money to people in poor neighborhoods. Now, under proposed rule changes, banks may finance upgrades to sports stadiums, call it helping the poor — and potentially even get a generous tax break.

That scenario might seem oddly specific, but it’s what two regulators appointed by President Donald Trump said last week they may allow as they undertake the most significant rewrite of the Community Reinvestment Act in a quarter-century. The agencies drafted a long list hypothetical ways banks could seek to meet their obligations, including this sentence on page 100 of their proposal:

“Investment in a qualified opportunity fund, established to finance improvements to an athletic stadium in an opportunity zone that is also an LMI census tract.” (LMI refers to low- or moderate-income.)

So, if the owners of MetLife Stadium in New York want to renovate the stadium … say, add new AstroTurf, and build a few new luxury boxes for the ultra-wealthy to enjoy … it would qualify as helping the poor, and would make the money they spent to renovate tax-free.  And the poor people struggling to survive in the Bronx would benefit … how?  Yet another example of how far removed Trump and his cronies are from the realities of everyday life in this country.


Turncoat

Van-drewRemember I told you last week about Representative Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, who was the sole democrat at that time to say he planned to vote against Trump’s impeachment?  Well, the next day, Mr. Van Drew announced that he plans to change parties, from democrat to republican, as early as this week.  I imagine that this will doom his chances at re-election next year, given that a weekend poll showed his support in his district had dropped to around 28%.   The republicans are unlikely to give him widespread support, for he has voted against Trump some 93% of the time in his single year in office.

Most of his staff handed Mr. Van Drew their resignations on Sunday, via a letter saying that they can “no longer in good conscience continue our service in the Congressman’s employ.”  Hmmm … seems perhaps the staff have more of a conscience than Mr. Van Drew!  Note, especially, the second paragraph.staff-letter-van-drewThere are some 30 other democrats in the House who, like Van Drew, represent districts that are largely pro-Trump.  Given the fallout from Van Drew’s decision, I’m guessing they will not follow his example!


A tough sentence …

Rick Gates, who was once Trump’s deputy campaign chairman, has been sentenced for his role in lying to the FBI and conspiring to conceal tens of millions of dollars earned from lucrative lobbying work he and Paul Manafort had done for Ukraine. For his crimes, he could potentially been sentenced to 5-6 years in prison.  The judge, however, was somewhat kinder:  45 days in jail that he can serve at his leisure on weekends.  Oh, and three years’ probation.  About what you or I would get for failing to pay a speeding ticket on time!

In fairness, though, he was given leniency because of his cooperation with the Mueller investigation. As Judge Amy Berman said …

“Gates’s information alone warranted, even demanded further investigation from the standpoint of national security, the integrity of our elections, and enforcing criminal laws.”

Only thing is, of course, that the “further investigation”, while yielding much fruit, has not been acted upon and won’t be, as long as we have a crook in the White House and another as senate majority leader.


Meanwhile, back at the ranch …

Impeachment is a stain on the impeached president.  It is not an honour to be capitalized on.  Or at least, it shouldn’t be, but today we live in the Era of Trump and the rules seem to have all changed.  I read this morning that the Trump 2020 re-election campaign is using the impeachment to increase Trump’s support.  To date, they have spent more than $11 million on impeachment-related campaign ads!  According to Politico

Republican operatives and Trump aides say impeachment has electrified the president’s base heading into an election year. They compare the current moment to last year’s scorched-earth fight to appoint Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Not since sexual assault accusations against the former White House lawyer resulted in the most contentious Senate confirmation process in years have the president’s core supporters been more energized. In their view, Trump — like Kavanaugh — is merely the victim of a smear campaign: guilty of nothing and targeted only because of ideology and politics.

I think this speaks volumes about the values of some portion of this nation.  Think about that one for a bit.


Okay, folks, I’ve about snarked out for the moment and I have house chores, laundry, and a trip to the grocery to do yet.  Have a great evening.toon

You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do

Among my favourite columnists is Eugene Robinson, writing for The Washington Post.  He is a seasoned journalist with over 30 years at The Post, and his opinions are most always thoughtful and well-reasoned.  His column of last Thursday is no exception and summarizes nicely the reason that the impeachment cannot be allowed to fail.  As of this writing, 158 House republicans have said they plan to vote against impeachment, and the 39 who have not yet opined are likely to vote against.  Among democrats in the House, 165 have affirmed that they will vote for impeachment, 19 are sitting on the fence, and 48 have yet to say.  Oh, and let us not forget Representative Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey who has noted that he will be voting against impeaching Trump.  So, the full House vote is as yet uncertain, but I believe that there will be a majority and that Trump will be impeached, despite objections and moronic outcries by the republicans in Congress.  Anyway, I digress … here is what Mr. Robinson has to say on the subject …

The full House has no choice but to impeach Trump

Eugene-RobinsonEugene Robinson

Columnist

Dec. 12, 2019 at 7:37 p.m. EST

You gotta do what you gotta do. The choice that faced the House Judiciary Committee throughout Thursday’s endless debate was a simple one: Either we believe in democracy and the rule of law, or we don’t.

The president’s defenders are correct when they say “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress” are not statutory crimes. They are, in fact, worse. The stripped-down impeachment articles against President Trump go to the heart of his blatant misconduct, which poses a direct challenge to the Constitution. I know that sounds grandiose to describe the offenses of such a small man as Trump. But it is true.

One could make the case that many of our presidents have abused their power in one way or another. I believe the framers of the Constitution would be appalled, for example, that since World War II, we have sent so many troops to fight and die in so many conflicts without a formal declaration of war by Congress. I believe they would be outraged that presidents can make so much law, unilaterally, by calling it regulation. But then again, maybe not. Perhaps Madison and Jefferson would approve of the way the presidency has evolved. We really have no way of knowing.

We do know, however, that the founders worried a president might corruptly misuse the powers of his office to keep himself in office. That is a principal reason the impeachment clause was written. And it is precisely what Trump tried to do.

Not just in one phone call but over a period of months, Trump tried to coerce a foreign government into fabricating a scandal that would tarnish former vice president Joe Biden, the potential rival who most threatened Trump’s reelection. Trump conditioned official acts — the release of nearly $400 million in military aid, along with a desperately sought White House meeting — on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s compliance with his demands.

Incredibly, this was after the conclusion of a two-year investigation into whether Trump and his campaign had solicited the help of another foreign government, that of Russia, to win the 2016 election. The probe by former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III proved that Trump welcomed and encouraged Russian aid but not that he or his campaign participated in a conspiracy. Mueller did turn up reams of evidence, however, that Trump had obstructed justice in trying to shut the investigation down.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) adamantly refused to open an impeachment inquiry after the Mueller probe. “He’s just not worth it,” she said, meaning that holding Trump accountable for the crimes Mueller uncovered was not worth the trauma that impeachment would inevitably put the country through.

When Trump’s Ukraine bribery scheme came to light, however, the opening of an impeachment process went instantly from impossible to inevitable. It was indeed bribery, by the way, both as I believe the founders understood the crime and as the current federal bribery statute defines it. But Pelosi and the House impeachment managers decided to charge Trump instead with abuse of power, because that is a more grievous injury to the Constitution. Trump was elected to be a public servant, and he is acting like an autocrat.

Trump and his defenders have made a lot of noise but have not even produced quasi-plausible Trumpian “alternative facts” to dispute the real ones. Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said we should all just “get over it.” Unfortunately for Trump, the Constitution does not allow that option.

The Constitution gives the House the “sole” power of impeachment. Yet Trump, unlike prior presidents who faced impeachment inquiries, has brazenly ordered the White House and the rest of the executive branch to refuse to provide documents and witnesses the House has demanded. Hence the charge of obstruction of Congress, which is another grave offense.

The separation-of-powers framework ensures that the three equal branches of our government will be engaged in a permanent struggle, preventing any one from obtaining primacy. But it does not allow Trump to avoid impeachment and removal from office simply by refusing to give the House access to the information it needs to decide whether to impeach. Any future president who committed “high crimes and misdemeanors” would surely do the same.

The Senate may fail to take the charges seriously, but House members will have done their duty. It is a constitutional imperative that Trump go down in history as one of just three presidents to be impeached.

The Measure Of A Man …

In my 68 years, presidents have come, and presidents have gone.  Some have been better than others in one area or another.  None have been perfect … nor will any ever be, for it is a job in which decisions must be made without having perfect information, leading a nation of people with differing opinions in many areas.  Harry S. Truman was president when I was born, and there have been eleven since, not counting the current office-holder, whom I refuse to refer to by that title.

But never, since the founding of this nation, has there been such a corrupt, power-hungry president than we have today.  Making it worse, however, is that in the second line of defense, the U.S. Congress, we also have far too many corrupt senators and representatives. When I say ‘corrupt’, in this case, I mean selfish, greedy, putting their own best interests ahead of those of the nation and the 330 million people living within its borders.

Donald Trump is facing impeachment in the House of Representatives.  I won’t argue that there could have been many more articles of impeachment than the two that have been issued, for that was a strategic decision and I can both understand the reasoning behind it, and on the flip side, rue an opportunity missed.  A few short days ago, I would have said that every single democrat in the House of Representatives would vote their conscience and it was a sure bet that Trump would be impeached.  Today, it is somewhat less certain.

Mind you, I am still 90% certain that Trump will be impeached in the House, but it seems that some of the democrats in the House are putting their own political future ahead of what is right and just, namely impeaching a corrupt president in order to protect the democratic principles outlined in the U.S. Constitution.

It seems that democrats who represent districts that Trump won in 2016, fear losing their seat in next year’s election if they vote to impeach.  Some have said they will vote for only one of the two articles of impeachment, in an attempt to show their constituents that they are operating independently of the party.  Others are considering voting against both articles.

Yes, it is almost a certainty that some democrats in the House will lose their bids for re-election next year as a result of the impeachment.  But, there is a greater purpose here that must be considered.  If Donald Trump is not held accountable for his actions, his horrific behaviour toward the people of this nation, of the entire world, will continue.  If his nearly unlimited power is not checked, then not only the United States, but every nation on this planet will become a little less safe.  But there is still yet an even wider consequence.

If Donald Trump is not impeached for his actions, then what is to stop the next president, and the one after, and the one after that, from acting out of self-interest to the detriment of the nation?  We are at a crossroads in this nation where we must decide whether we wish to continue as a democratic republic, even with all its inherent flaws, or if we are willing to hand over the reins to corrupt politicians who will, no doubt, act as autocrats.

It is up to us to ask our elected officials if their intent is to make this a better nation, a team player in the bigger world, or if it is to further their own self-interests.  I have asked this of my representative, Warren Davidson, and his response was, in essence, that he will follow those things that will secure his own wealth.  I have asked it of others in the republican party, who have assumed me to be a rather stupid being, hence they attempted to convince me that their own net worth and that of the nation are one and the same.  Pity those who mistake me for an idiot only because I have wrinkles and grey hair.

Martin Luther King once said …

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

This is where this nation stands, my friends. This is the test our elected officials in Congress must either pass or fail.  The ‘man’ who sits in the Oval Office has already failed the test … what will the rest do?  What will your senator or representative do?  Ask them!  Let them know your opinion!  Challenge them!  They are, after all, our employees, not Donald Trump’s!  Hold. Them. Accountable.  We may not get another chance, my friends.