Words Of Wisdom

This OpEd by Noah Bookbinder in the New York Times is an important … nay, a critical read.  The fear that is overtaking this nation as a result of the pandemic cannot blind us to what is being done to our very structure of government, for that is exactly what Trump is hoping for.  Please take a minute to read Mr. Bookbinder’s very important words.

Trump Is Gutting Our Democracy While We’re Dealing with Coronavirus

The president’s firing of the intelligence watchdog who validated the Ukraine whistle-blower complaint is his latest threat to the rule of law.

By Noah Bookbinder

Mr. Bookbinder is the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

When President Trump announced late Friday that he would fire the government watchdog who told Congress about the Ukraine whistle-blower complaint, which ultimately led to his impeachment, it touched off one of the most acute threats yet to our democracy. But it didn’t even make the front page of most papers.

That’s understandable. Thousands of Americans are dying every day from the terrifying coronavirus pandemic. People are worried about their own safety and that of their families, as well as about their jobs and livelihood. Questions abound about how the crisis got to this point, whether the Trump administration took appropriate steps to address it, and what steps are needed to minimize the devastation going forward; there is little bandwidth for anything else.

But we can’t afford to ignore the anti-democratic steps the president is taking while the American people are appropriately preoccupied with this outbreak. If we don’t respond to these outrageous abuses now, the damage may be done by the time anyone is the wiser.

The worst of the president’s latest round of steps to undermine checks and balances came not just in this time of crisis, but on a Friday night, the classic black hole for sweeping problematic actions in Washington under the rug.

First, the president announced that he would be firing Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community. Mr. Trump said in a required letter to Congress that he no longer had “the fullest confidence” in Atkinson; there was not even an effort to disguise the fact that what caused the president to lose that confidence was Atkinson following the law and allowing the truth to come out about Mr. Trump’s lawless attempt to pressure a foreign power to announce politically helpful investigations. Mr. Atkinson will be fired 30 days after the letter went to Congress, the soonest he can be under law, but the president undercut even that law by putting Mr. Atkinson on immediate administrative leave.

Michael Horowitz, the respected inspector general of the Department of Justice and chairman of a council that coordinates inspectors general, went out on a limb to vouch for Mr. Atkinson, praising his integrity and his handling of the Ukraine whistle-blower complaint. Mr. Horowitz is right, and his affirmation that the inspector general community “will continue to conduct aggressive, independent oversight” is heartening.

But President Trump’s further action makes that claim questionable at best. The president compounded the Atkinson announcement on Friday night with his intention to nominate White House lawyer Brian Miller to be special inspector general for pandemic recovery, a key position for oversight of the just-passed $2 trillion coronavirus relief package, which is ripe for fraud and corruption without aggressive review. The position demands ironclad independence, particularly with the risk that the president’s company, relatives, customers and donors could seek to benefit from the stimulus package. Mr. Miller, who served for nearly 10 years as inspector general at the General Services Administration, but more recently played a role in the White House’s response to the impeachment inquiry, is precisely the wrong person to ensure independence. A former senior Senate staff member praised Miller’s “loyalty to the administration” in explaining why he’ll make a good choice, even though loyalty is the exact opposite of what is needed.

The one-two punch of Mr. Atkinson and Mr. Miller is, unfortunately, just the tip of the iceberg of the president’s dangerous attacks on the independence of inspectors general. Mr. Trump will likely fire additional inspectors general because he and his allies view them as “deep state” operatives who undermine him. Indeed, the president seems to view any independence within the government and certainly any checks on him as intolerable disloyalty; that notion, of course, runs counter to our entire system of checks and balances.

Friday night’s actions came at the end of a week of scary departures from democratic practices. Reporting indicates that more and more power has gone to the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, whose coronavirus “shadow task force” of government allies and private sector connections may run afoul of federal law. Mr. Kushner is meanwhile also reportedly playing a significant role in the Trump re-election campaign from the White House, which may also violate federal law. Nepotism and disregard for the law have characterized this administration from day one, but the volume and brazenness of these anti-democratic tendencies is increasing.

Indeed, earlier Friday, the government changed its description on a federal website of the strategic national stockpile to correspond to Mr. Kushner’s description of it as being for the benefit of the federal government, not the states. Also last week, the Navy fired a captain who blew the whistle on the scope of a Covid-19 outbreak on his ship, another example of apparent payback for truthtelling, and the president reportedly wants to have his own signature on stimulus checks to Americans, which may also run afoul of law. All of these autocratic steps come on top of the president’s February purges of officials who testified in the impeachment trial and attempts to meddle in the sentencing of friends and allies convicted of crimes.

Here’s why this matters: times of crisis are when democracies are in the gravest danger of crumbling. We are seeing that play out in the world right now. Hungary, which has watched its hard won post-Cold War democratic reforms slipping away for some time, this week saw its Parliament give Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whom Mr. Trump has praised, unlimited authority, effectively turning the country into a dictatorship. Dictators around the world are using the pandemic to tighten their control.

We’re not there yet. But the president’s attempts to rid the government of those who would provide appropriate oversight and accountability for abuses and speak truth to power, to put in place loyalists who will look out for him rather than providing independent checks, and to empower relatives and disregard laws sets us on a dangerous trajectory. Firing inspectors general and replacing them with loyalists is a serious threat to our democracy. The American people must register our outrage; Congress must investigate the firings aggressively and rigorously vet nominees. If we ignore the erosion of checks and balances because we are preoccupied with more immediate concerns, we may find that our democracy — when we need the institutions of this country the most — is disappearing. Just ask Hungary.

The Good, The Bad, And … The Fun!

I was writing a somewhat in-depth post that I had planned for this morning, but ‘things’ kept distracting me – a small family crisis, a catfight, and the flotsam & jetsam of news stories that kept floating across my screen.  So, I finally set it aside and decided to write about a bit of that flotsam & jetsam, for my snark-o-meter is quivering somewhere around the high end.


The Good …

maxine-waters-1Let’s start on a positive note:  Maxine Waters.  Ms. Waters has served in the U.S. House of Representatives representing Southern California, including much of Los Angeles, since 1991.  She is the most senior of the twelve black women currently serving in Congress, and she chaired the Congressional Black Caucus from 1997 to 1999. She is currently the chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee.  What I most like about Ms. Waters is that she does not pull any punches … she “calls ‘em like she sees ‘em”.

Donald Trump managed to get on her wrong side early on, and in the early days of his term, she referred to him as “a bully, an egotistical maniac, a liar and someone who did not need to be President”, and “the most deplorable person I’ve ever met in my life”.  On Monday, when Trump was once again congratulating himself for his “perfect” response to the pandemic crisis, Ms. Waters let loose with both barrels on … where else but Twitter …

  • Trump, since you destroyed the WH unit designed to plan for pandemics like #COVID19, you need to stop being duplicitous about the DPA & get more corps to develop masks, respirators, & everything needed to protect hospital workers trying to save lives. Get your act together!
  • Trump, weren’t you taught at an early age that self congratulations are improper? When you’re doing a good job, you will be commended. When you have to congratulate yourself it’s b/c of incompetence & insecurity. No one values hubris. A lesson you should’ve learned long ago.
  • Trump, stop congratulating yourself! You’re a failure & you’ve mishandled this #COVID19 disaster! You’re not knowledgeable & you don’t know more than experts & generals. Your ignorance & incompetence are appalling & you continue to demonstrate that every time you open your mouth!
  • Trump, Gov Whitmer, the governor you called “that woman”, is what you think of ALL women, period! We women are all “that woman”! We are mothers & working professionals; we’re doctors & lawyers; & we’re elected officials, even governors, & you will show us the respect we deserve!
  • Trump, you incompetent idiot! You sent 18 tons of PPE to China early but ignored warnings & called COVID19 concerns a hoax. You’ve endangered doctors, nurses, aids, orderlies, & janitors – all risking their lives to save ours. Pray 4 forgiveness for the harm that you’re causing!

maxine-waters-2A woman after my own heart!  Now THAT is what I call “telling it like it is”!  Every word is true, and every word deserved.


The Bad …

Howard-BrownePastor Rodney Howard-Browne runs Revival Ministries International and serves as resident pastor of Alex Jones’ Infowars, which should tell you something in itself.  Browne is also the pastor at River at Tampa Bay Church in Tampa, Florida.  At this time when all non-essential businesses are shuttered and schools nationwide are closed, most not expected to re-open until the beginning of next school year, most all churches have also shut down.  Florida was, unconscionably, among the last states to issue a statewide “shelter-in-place” order, but Hillsborough Country, where Howard-Browne’s church is located, has had such an order for “social-distancing” guidelines since last Friday.

However, Mr. Howard-Browne knows better than all the experts, and he was not about to close his church!  He insisted that his church was an essential business (say WHAT???), and that such things as ‘social distancing’ was “for pansies”.  So, when he spoke to a packed church last Sunday, he told the crowd that he had purchased a $100,000 ‘air purification system’ …

“The Lord has helped us secure our congregation. We have brought in 13 machines that basically kill every virus in the place. If someone walks through the door, it kills everything on them. If they sneeze it shoots it down at a 100 mph. It’ll neutralize it in split-seconds. So we have the most sterile building, I don’t know, in all of North America.”

I try very hard to be respectful of people’s religions, though I follow none myself, but this guy … seriously???

So, on Sunday, despite a warning from the Sheriff’s Department, he held not one, but two church services, both filled with hundreds of people, some of whom Howard-Browne had bused in.  And, by the end of the day on Sunday, Mr. Howard-Browne had been arrested on misdemeanor charges of unlawful assembly and violating quarantine orders during a public health emergency.

Howard-Browne has rather a history of being a conspiracy theorist (remember, he is the ‘resident pastor’ of Infowars), and as recently as March 22 said that the coronavirus was a “phantom plague” created by the Chinese but also somehow planned at a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation event.

His attorney, the notorious Mat Staver of anti-LGBTQ fame, claims …

“Contrary to Sheriff Chronister’s allegation that Pastor Howard-Browne was ‘reckless,’ the actions of Hillsborough Country and the Hernando County Sheriff are discriminatory against religion and church gatherings.”

And these are the people who try to tell the world that their values are so superior to the rest of us, that they and only they know that such things as same-sex marriage and abortion are so wrong?  Freakin’ nutcases!!!!


And The Fun …

Today is {drumroll 🥁} … National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day!!! PB-JDid you know that the average American will have eaten over 2000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by the time they graduate from high school?  A bit of trivia …

Peanut butter was considered a delicacy in the early 1900s and was only served in New York City’s finest tea rooms. In a May 1896 article published in the Good Housekeeping magazine, a recipe “urged homemakers to use a meat grinder to make peanut butter and spread the result on bread.”  That same year, in June, the culinary magazine Table Talk, published a “peanut butter sandwich recipe.”

It is thought that Julia Davis Chandler issued the first reference to peanut butter (or paste) paired with jelly on bread in the United States in 1901. Her article is found in the Boston Cooking School Magazine of Culinary Science and Domestic Economics. In the late 1920s, the price of peanut butter declined, and the sandwich became very popular with children.

According to the Peanut Board, during World War II, both peanut butter and jelly were part of the United States soldiers’ military ration list.

In 1968, The J.M. Smucker Co. introduced Goober, a jarred product that combined alternating vertical stripes of peanut butter and jelly.

What’s your favourite PB&J sandwich?  Mine is, I think, Jif Peanut Butter with Blackberry jam.  However, I wouldn’t turn down one with Strawberry jam or Wimberry either!  Now, you’ve put up with enough of Filosofa’s snark for this morning … get thee to the kitchen and have a PB&J sandwich … go on … you know you want to!

Coronavirus Kills Its 1st Democracy

Want to take your mind off the coronavirus, shortages of food and cleaning supplies, being imprisoned in your home and isolated from your friends & family?  Well, I’ve got just the thing for you … here’s something even bigger to worry about …

On Monday, Hungary’s parliament passed a controversial bill that gave Orbán sweeping emergency powers for an indefinite period of time. Parliament is closed, future elections were called off, existing laws can be suspended and the prime minister is now entitled to rule by decree. Opposition lawmakers had tried to set a time limit on the legislation but failed. Orbán’s commanding two-thirds parliamentary majority made his new powers a fait accompli. – Ishaan Tharoor, The Washington Post

Granted, Hungary isn’t the U.S. and Viktor Orbán isn’t Donald Trump.  Orbán had already corroded the state’s checks and balances, cowed the judiciary, encroached on civil society and the free press … much as Donald Trump has done to the United States.

Orbán has his supporters, too. He has been lionized as a nationalist hero for the West’s anti-immigrant populists and welcomed to the White House by Trump.orban-trump-2It should be noted that congressional democrats initially included election reforms such as vote-by-mail, same-day registration and early voting in the $2.2 trillion ‘stimulus bill’ … measures that were struck down by their republican colleagues.  Now, make sure you’re sitting down when you read what Trump had to say about those stricken measures that would have ensured we could all vote in the November 3rd election …

“The things they had in there were crazy. They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again. They had things in there about election days and what you do and all sorts of clawbacks. They had things that were just totally crazy and had nothing to do with workers that lost their jobs and companies that we have to save.”

And now, my friends, I suggest you start to do some serious worrying about the November elections, for it becomes obvious that Trump and the republicans have little or no concern for our right to elect new leadership in November, and that they see voter suppression as their only path to power.  I’ve been concerned all along that Trump would find some way to cancel or postpone indefinitely our elections, and nothing I’m seeing is alleviating those concerns.  I believe that Mr. Trump is seeing the coronavirus pandemic as a very fortuitous event for him and his cronies.

In 1980, Paul Weyrich, an influential conservative activist, said …

“I don’t want everybody to vote. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

Chilling.

We are running out of time to put in place policies and processes that would enable every eligible voter to cast a ballot, even in the event that the coronavirus remains a threat into November.  The republicans are playing a game … a game with our lives, with our freedoms, with our rights to participate in our government.

Look again at what the Hungarian Parliament has handed to Viktor Orbán.  The only thing stopping our own Congress from doing the same is the democratic majority in the House of Representatives.

orban-parliament

It must also be noted that the emergency law also stipulates five-year prison sentences for Hungarians found to be spreading “false” information.  Think on that one a minute.  Who determines what is “false” information?  Think how many times Trump has declared stories published by The Washington Post or the New York Times to be “fake news”.  Or what about us bloggers?  In such circumstances, historically information is considered ‘false’ if it contradicts what the dictator says.  Facts and reality become secondary and eventually are suppressed.

orban-trumpThere are checks and balances to keep what has happened in Hungary from happening in the U.S.  But, many of those have been destroyed in the last three years.  The Supreme Court tends to rule in favour of Trump, even when that ruling is in blatant disregard of the U.S. Constitution.  The Attorney General has decreed that Trump is ‘above the law’ and can operate in whatever manner he sees fit.  And the U.S. Senate basically affirmed Barr’s opinion when they refused to do their job and convict Trump of what were obvious abuses of power and obstruction of justice.

The U.S. Constitution, or any set of laws for that matter, is only as good as the people who enforce it.  This is why the most important thing this year in the U.S. is that we have fair and honest elections on November 3rd as scheduled, no matter what.

About That ‘Stimulus Bill’ …

Let me just start by saying one thing:  No, Donald Trump, you have not done a great job.  Thanks to your bungling and mismanagement, the U.S. is quite possibly in the worst shape it has ever been in.  Thanks.  It speaks volumes that a number of television networks are editing or refusing to air Trump’s daily bragging sessions, otherwise known as ‘updates’ or ‘press briefings’ because they say he is providing too much misinformation.

Yesterday, the House passed and Trump signed the “Coronavirus Aid Package”, aka bailout bill, aka emergency stimulus package.  The U.S. government doesn’t actually … have … $2 trillion … to spend, being $23 trillion in debt (this works out to approximately $69,696,969.69 worth of debt for every man, woman and child in the U.S.), but Donald Trump has always used other people’s money to do what he wants, so that’s nothing new.  But, let’s take a look at that ‘stimulus package’ and what’s actually in it:stimulus-pkgYou’ll notice that big corporations are getting almost as much as individuals.  Funny that, for the CEOs of the big corporations have plenty of money … in fact, they should be giving us money instead of the other way around.  And you’ll also notice that education was just an afterthought.  Close all the schools with no advance planning, no guidance or direction, and then throw them a biscuit.

But the thing I want to talk about today is that $339.8 billion for state and local governments.  Or rather, the strings attached to that money.

  • Trump demanded that governors show deference to the administration during the coronavirus crisis, saying, “I want them to be appreciative. I don’t want them to say things that aren’t true. I want them to be appreciative. We’ve done a great job.”

  • Trump has sparred with a handful of Democratic governors who are asking for aid and medical equipment to help combat their coronavirus outbreaks, most notably Jay Inslee of Washington and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan. On Friday, he called Whitmer “the woman from Michigan” and said “she has no idea what’s going on.”

  • Trump implied that he believed Vice President Mike Pence shouldn’t call them if they did not show the proper appreciation. “You know what I say? If they don’t treat you right, I don’t call,” Trump said.

I ask you, friends, is this the sort of person you really want leading the nation in a crisis (or at any other time, for that matter)?  It isn’t Trump’s money … it is our money!

I remember a time when my children were little, and my son wanted something at the store that I couldn’t afford.  I explained to him that I did not have enough money to buy it for him, and he responded, “But mommy … you gots a checkbook!”  He was probably 3 or 4 at the time, so it was understandable that he did not understand the concept of banking and money.  Donald Trump is 73 years of age and doesn’t it just seem like he should have figured this all out by now?

Another aspect of this ‘stimulus bill’ is that democrats insisted on a newly appointed Inspector General who would provide oversight in the disbursement of funds, especially the loans to businesses.  The democrats intent was to ensure that Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin could not abuse the bailout fund. They feared that Mr. Trump, who has previously stonewalled congressional oversight, would do the same when it came to the corporate aid program.

Now, however, Trump is claiming that he can and will ignore the oversight provision.  Two hours after signing the bill, Trump issued a statement saying that as president, he can gag the special inspector general for pandemic recovery, known by the acronym S.I.G.P.R., and keep information from Congress.

“I do not understand, and my administration will not treat, this provision as permitting the S.I.G.P.R. to issue reports to the Congress without the presidential supervision required.”

Checks and balances???  Congressional oversight???  Not for Donald Trump.  This, folks, is the behaviour of a dictator.  This is a Putin or an Erdoğan.  This is not in any way, shape or form, in accordance with the foundation of law in the United States, the Constitution.

In light of his authoritarian ways, his unconscionable lust for power, and his complete disregard for the laws of the land, it is more imperative today than ever before that this ‘man’ be removed from office.  It is more crucial than ever that we have a fair and honest election on November 3rd no matter what.

Sneaky

This, my friends, is how democracies die …

“The Justice Department has quietly [emphasis added] asked Congress for the ability to ask chief judges to detain people indefinitely without trial during emergencies — part of a push for new powers that comes as the coronavirus spreads through the United States.

Documents reviewed by POLITICO detail the department’s requests to lawmakers on a host of topics, including the statute of limitations, asylum and the way court hearings are conducted.

[…]

The move has tapped into a broader fear among civil liberties advocates and Donald Trump’s critics — that the president will use a moment of crisis to push for controversial policy changes. Already, he has cited the pandemic as a reason for heightening border restrictions and restricting asylum claims. He has also pushed for further tax cuts as the economy withers, arguing that it would soften the financial blow to Americans. And even without policy changes, Trump has vast emergency powers that he could legally deploy right now to try and slow the coronavirus outbreak.

The DOJ requests — which are unlikely to make it through a Democratic-led House — span several stages of the legal process, from initial arrest to how cases are processed and investigated.”

You can read the rest of the article here, but let’s talk a bit about what this could mean.

This could mean, if somehow either Congress passed it, or failing that, Trump took his ‘executive power’ to an unprecedented level, that you might be arrested for any or no reason.  Say your state is under a mandated “lock down” (something that is outside of the law to begin with), and you are out for a walk in your neighborhood.  A police car is patrolling the area, sees you, stops and the officer arrests you simply for being outside.  He couldn’t do that under normal circumstances, and if he did, you would be able to appear before a magistrate, explain the situation, and almost certainly be released immediately.  But, if this suspension of constitutional rights were to fly, you could be arrested, tossed in jail, and not go before a judge “until this crisis is over” … possibly months or even as long as a year.

That scenario is frightening enough, but let’s project a bit.  If allowed to suspend constitutional rights, what other areas of our civil liberties might be affected?  The one that worries me the most is the 1st Amendment, our rights to freedom of speech and freedom of the press.  Already, our right to peaceful protest has been suspended by default with the ruling that no more than ten people are allowed to gather in one place.  What next?  Could it become unlawful to … say, speak against our government, to call Trump out on his lies and ignorance?

I don’t know where this will go, and I hope that the Democratic-majority House of Representatives will put a stop to such nonsense, but I do not have a crumb of trust in our government at this time – not Donald Trump, not William Barr and his Department of ‘Justice’, not the Republican-led Senate under Mitch McConnell.  I don’t trust our law enforcement agencies, nor our Departments of Labour, Education, Health and Human Services … none of them.  They are led by people who do not care about the people of this nation but will do almost anything to enhance their own profits and power.  Just something to think about.  Let’s keep our eye on the ball and hope our free press does the same.


And just one little snippet that I found humorous in a macabre sort of way …

“In Rhode Island, among businesses cited for ignoring social-distance warnings was Wonderland, a strip club, where customers were still receiving lap dances last weekend.”

Gotta get your priorities straight, y’know!

Sherrod Brown Speaks … Boy Does He Ever Speak!!!

There are very few politicians in Ohio for whom I have the least bit of respect.  Jim Jordan and Warren Davidson are the lowest of low in my book, and after Tuesday’s fiasco, I’d like to take a baseball bat to Governor DeWine’s head.  But Senator Sherrod Brown has always seemed like a good guy who cares about the people he represents.

Earlier today, a friend sent me this video clip and … WOW!  You tell ’em, Sherrod!  Take a look for yourself …

What You May Have Missed

If you go looking in the usual places for news that has nothing to do with a) coronavirus, or b) the stock markets, or c) 2020 presidential race, you will be out of luck.  That is all the news that exists in the usual places such as The Washington Post, New York Times, CNN, Politico, ABC News, Time, The Guardian, BBC, AP, and others.  Mind you, all those stories are newsworthy and I am definitely NOT downplaying the importance of any, especially the coronavirus.  But once you’ve read the same ol’ same ol’ about 60 times, you begin to wonder if the rest of the world is locked in a closet somewhere.  However, Filosofa does not give up easily.  Filosofa is sick and damned tired of reading the exact same information about coronavirus, the financial melt-down and the Bernie & Joe Show.  So, I stuck a carrot in my pocket for the wabbits, grabbed my shovel and went digging …


Is Betsy complicit?

Betsy DeVos was made Secretary of Education in 2017 as a reward for the large campaign contributions she and her hubby made to Trump’s 2016 election campaign.  As I said in 2017, DeVos was, like so many of Trump’s cabinet picks, the least suited for the job.  She had little respect for public schools, instead supporting the charter schools that can accommodate very few students in need.  But she had money, she had a rich husband, and that mattered more than qualifications or competency.

Well, now it turns out that Betsy’s brother, Eric Prince, is somewhat of a nasty character.  Like his siter, Prince is a Trump supporter with close ties to the Trump gang.  According to a New York Times article last weekend, beginning in 2017, Prince started recruiting former spies to infiltrate Democratic congressional campaigns, labor organizations and other groups considered hostile to the Trump ‘agenda’.

One of the former spies, an ex-MI6 officer named Richard Seddon, helped run a 2017 operation to copy files and record conversations in a Michigan office of the American Federation of Teachers, one of the largest teachers’ unions in the nation.  They secretly taped the union’s local leaders and attempted to gather information that could be made public to damage the organization.  This and other covert operations were conducted under the auspices of Project Veritas, a conservative group that has gained attention using hidden cameras and microphones for sting operations on news organizations, Democratic politicians and liberal advocacy groups.

According to the Times report, though both Mr. Prince and Project Veritas have close ties to the Trump family, it is “unclear” whether any of the Trump clan are complicit in the operations they have been conducting.  My bet?  Take a wild guess.  But … a question of equal concern is whether Miss Betsy is involved.  Again, my bet?  Hell yes.

An independent watchdog group has asked the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform to investigate whether Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had any involvement in her brother’s efforts to spy on the Michigan teacher’s union.  DeVos has long had a hostile relationship with teacher’s unions.  According to the letter the group wrote to Congress …

“It stretches the imagination to the breaking point to believe her brother never at least mentioned his intel operation to her. At the end of the day, who would benefit more from this ill-gotten information than the Education Secretary at war with the union?”

Prince is under investigation by the Justice Department over whether he lied to a congressional committee examining Russian interference in the 2016 election, and for possible violations of American export laws. Last year, the House Intelligence Committee made a criminal referral to the Justice Department about Mr. Prince, saying he lied about the circumstances of his meeting with a Russian banker in the Seychelles in January 2017.  Care to make any bets about whether Prince will ever be convicted?

Keep your eyes on this ball, my friends.


A day late and a dollar short, but still …

On Tuesday, in a 2-1 ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Judge Judith Rogers wrote in an opinion joined by Judge Thomas Griffith that the House of Representatives may see redacted passages in the public version of the Mueller report that was issued, heavily redacted, in April of last year.  Said Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi …

“This ruling is an unequivocal rejection of the President’s insistence that he is above the law and his blanket refusal to cooperate with Congressional requests for information. It is also another rebuke of Attorney General Barr’s brazen efforts to prevent evidence of Presidential wrongdoing from being uncovered, which the Courts continue to challenge. … Yet again, the Courts have resoundingly reaffirmed Congress’s authority to expose the truth for the American people.”

In her opinion, Judge Rogers wrote …

“The courts cannot tell the House how to conduct its impeachment investigation or what lines of inquiry to pursue, or how to prosecute its case before the Senate. The constitutional text confirms that a Senate impeachment trial is a judicial proceeding. The term ‘judicial proceeding’ has long and repeatedly been interpreted broadly.”

This follows on the heels of last week’s ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton that  excoriated Attorney General Bill Barr for distorting the findings of the Mueller Report before its redacted release to the public, saying …

“The Court cannot reconcile certain public representations made by Attorney General Barr with the findings in the Mueller Report. The inconsistencies between Attorney General Barr’s statements, made at a time when the public did not have access to the redacted version of the Mueller Report to assess the veracity of his statements, and portions of the redacted version of the Mueller Report that conflict with those statements cause the Court to seriously question whether Attorney General Barr made a calculated attempt to influence public discourse about the Mueller Report in favor of President Trump [emphasis added] despite certain findings in the redacted version of the Mueller Report to the contrary.”

Too bad these rulings weren’t handed down back when the House was still conducting its impeachment hearings and before the U.S. Senate thumbed their noses at We the People and at the U.S. Constitution.  But, better late than never.  And, there is no law that says there cannot be yet another impeachment, if it is deemed right and proper.  Leave that door open, folks …


Okay, folks … that’s the news that didn’t make the headlines this week.  Let us now return to the center of gravity …

Snarkier Than Usual Snippets

Disclaimer:  Filosofa is in a foul mood tonight.  While doing laundry, I cursed one of my daughter’s shirts, calling it a bitch and threatening to cut it into a thousand pieces, if that gives you any indication.  All day long I’ve tried to write my piece for mine and Jeff’s Discord & Dissension project for tomorrow, and I feel completely dysfunctional, unable to focus.  So, long story short, you can expect the snippets to be even snarkier than usual tonight.


Ay, Pobrecito Barr …

Poor Bill Barr, ultimate boot-licker and sycophant who has sacrificed the integrity of the United States Department of Justice for whatever it was Trump promised him.  Now he is whining that mean ol’ Donnie isn’t being fair to him.  In an interview with ABC News yesterday, Barr said …

“I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody … whether it’s Congress, a newspaper editorial board, or the president. I’m gonna do what I think is right. And you know … I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me.”

Say WHAT???Trump-BarrThis from the man that has given the keys to the kingdom to Trump and told him that no matter what he does, as long as he is the sitting president, he cannot be charged with a crime?  This from the man that has changed the laws to suit the president, has opened an investigation into one of Trump’s rivals even though it has already been proven that there was no wrongdoing?  And this from the man who totally and completely misrepresented the results of Robert Mueller’s report?  Are we actually supposed to feel pity for Billy boy?  The man who once had a decent reputation sold his soul downriver to become one of Trump’s toadies, and now we’re supposed to feel sorry for him?  No way, José!

Barr said he was determined to lead the justice department without being influence by outside forces, including the president.

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Too late, Billy Boy!Bill-BarrFormer Justice Department official, Matthew Miller, wrote on Twitter: “Don’t be fooled by this one, people. Barr is telling the president that his impulsiveness is making it politically harder for him to deliver the results he wants. If Trump would just shut up, Barr could take care of him much more effectively.”

No doubt.


Trump’s bloody wall …

Yesterday, the Pentagon informed Congress that it intends to divert some $3.8 billion earmarked for military equipment to Trump’s damn stupid, useless, abominable border wall!  You know what?  If the Pentagon has so much more money than it needs, then let’s cut their budget and leave only enough to take care of the troops – salaries, benefits, medical care, housing, etc.  They are obviously well over-funded, if they can afford to give it away for something so useless.

If Congress intended to fund the bloody wall, they would have allocated monies for it.  They didn’t.  Therefore obviously the representatives of We the People do not see the wall as a priority at this time.  Congress, and We the People, have spoken, MISTER TRUMP.  Even some of Trump’s boot-lickers in Congress were actually upset over this one, saying that Trump had overstepped his constitutional authority by second-guessing congressional spending decisions.

“Once those choices have been made, the Department of Defense cannot change them in pursuit of their own priorities without the approval of Congress. Attempts to do so undermines the principle of civilian control of the military and is in violation of the separation of powers within the Constitution.” – Representative Mac Thornberry, top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee

Frankly, I hope the wall gets blown to bits, section by section, until there is naught left but a brick or two.


John Kelly found them!

Former Chief of Staff John Kelly finally, some 13 months after leaving Trump’s employ, found his cojones!  I wonder where they were hiding all this time?  Kelly, who is also a retired Marine Corps general, was giving a speech at Drew University in Morristown, New Jersey, on Wednesday night when he let off a bit of steam about Trump’s firing of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman last week.  Of Vindman, Kelly says …

“He did exactly what we teach them to do from cradle to grave.  He went and told his boss what he just heard. Through the Obama administration up until that phone call, the policy of the U.S. was militarily to support Ukraine in their defensive fight against … the Russians. And so, when the president said that continued support would be based on X, that essentially changed. And that’s what that guy [Vindman] was most interested in. We teach them, ‘Don’t follow an illegal order. And if you’re ever given one, you’ll raise it to whoever gives it to you that this is an illegal order, and then tell your boss.’”

But, once the box was opened, Kelly didn’t stop there.  Kelly laid out his doubts about Trump’s policies regarding North Korea, illegal immigration, military discipline, Ukraine, and the news media.  He said he did not believe the press is “the enemy of the people”, and he sharply criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Trump has steadfastly courted.  He also disapproved of the president’s language about migrants, saying that most migrants are merely looking for jobs …

“In fact, they’re overwhelmingly good people … They’re not all rapists and they’re not all murderers. And it’s wrong to characterize them that way. I disagreed with the president a number of times.”

Kelly faulted Trump for intervening in the case of Eddie Gallagher, the Navy SEAL who was convicted last year of posing with the corpse of an Islamic State fighter, and later pardoned by Trump …

“The idea that the commander in chief intervened there, in my opinion, was exactly the wrong thing to do. Had I been there, I think I could have prevented it.”

Too bad that Kelly didn’t find his conscience when he was still there, as perhaps he might have done some good.  Trump, of course, was quickly informed of Kelly’s words and had to retaliate, for that’s the only thing Trump knows to do …

“When I terminated John Kelly, which I couldn’t do fast enough, he knew full well that he was way over his head. Being Chief of Staff just wasn’t for him. He came in with a bang, went out with a whimper, but like so many X’s, he misses the action & just can’t keep his mouth shut, which he actually has a military and legal obligation to do. His incredible wife, Karen, who I have a lot of respect for, once pulled me aside & said strongly that “John respects you greatly. When we are no longer here, he will only speak well of you.” Wrong!”

One can only hope that Karen Kelly is undergoing psychiatric care.


One bright spot …

Marie YovanovitchI shall end with a bit of uplifting news.  Former ambassador to the Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who became a central witness in the impeachment inquiry against Trump, received the Trainor Award at Georgetown University this week, in recognition of her 33-year career as a diplomat.  If anybody has earned the award, it is Ms. Yovanovitch who had a difficult and unexpected role during the House investigation into the administration’s shadow diplomacy and the pressure campaign on Ukraine.  She was vilified by Trump and his family, and it was later learned that Trump directly ordered her firing, claiming she had shown ‘disloyalty’ to him – sound familiar?

Thumbs up to Ms. Yovanovitch.  👍


And on that note, I shall leave you and go finish my post for this afternoon, hopefully in time for Jeff to review it before posting.susan-collins

The Purge Begins …

President Richard Nixon kept an “enemies list”, the purpose of which was to “screw” Nixon’s political enemies, by means of tax audits from the Internal Revenue Service, and by manipulating “grant availability, federal contracts, litigation, prosecution, etc.”  According to then-White House counsel John Dean …

“This memorandum addresses the matter of how we can maximize the fact of our incumbency in dealing with persons known to be active in their opposition to our Administration; stated a bit more bluntly—how we can use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies.”

At one point, there were as many as 576 names on Nixon’s list.  Some have jokingly referred to Trump’s own ‘enemies list’.  It is no longer a joking matter.  While Nixon sought to punish his ‘enemies’ through such things as tax audits, Trump uses no subterfuge, no circuities.

In a 1992 interview with Charlie Rose, Donald Trump said …

“I love getting even when I get screwed by someone … Always get even. When you are in business you need to get even with people who screw you. You need to screw them back 15 times harder. You do it not only to get the person who messed with you but also to show the others who are watching what will happen to them if they mess with you. If someone attacks you, do not hesitate. Go for the jugular.”

 When he did a television program called The Apprentice, apparently his buzz line was “You’re fired!”  He used that three times yesterday, and unless I miss my guess, he intends to use it a few more times.

First, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman was fired from his role as the top Ukraine policy officer on the National Security Council and was escorted from the White House.  At the same time, his brother Lieutenant Colonel Yevgeny Vindman was also fired from his NSC job.

A few hours later, Trump ordered U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, Gordan Sondland, recalled from his post and fired.

Alexander Vindman and Gordon Sondland’s only ‘crime’ was that they told the truth.  Both testified in the impeachment hearings held by the House last fall … an act Trump claims was ‘disloyal’ to him.  Funny that … I always believed that any government official’s loyalty was to the nation and to We the People, not to the person occupying the Oval Office.  Yevgeny’s only crime, apparently, was being Alexander’s brother.

The day after the Senate voted to acquit Trump of his crimes, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, who never holds press briefings, said …

“… how horribly he was treated, and maybe people should pay for that.”

It seems the Trump purge has begun.  Of the twelve people who testified against Trump in the impeachment hearings, only three remain in their positions:  David Holmes, a diplomat at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine; Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary at the Pentagon; and George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state.  Will their heads roll next?

Others on his ‘enemies list’ no doubt include various members of Congress, starting with Mitt Romney, the only senator with the courage to vote to convict Trump on one of the articles of impeachment, Jerry Nadler, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Adam Schiff, Joe Manchin and others.  Since Trump cannot fire a member of Congress, one wonders how he plans to extract his ‘revenge’.  Think about this one for a few minutes, folks.  The aforementioned Stephanie Grisham stated earlier this week …

“Adam Schiff lied to Congress and the American people with a totally made up statement about the president’s phone call. Will there be no retribution?”

It should be noted that a threat was made on Adam Schiff’s life earlier this year.  And then there was this statement by Jeff Buckles, a police department assistant chief in the Alabama town of Geraldine …

“Pelosi just ripped up his speach [sic]. Road Side bomb on her way home and any other Dumbocrats.”

Hyperbole?  Probably, but troubling, nonetheless.  Remember Cesar Sayoc, who sent pipe bombs through the mail to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other democrats?  Remember Jarrod Ramos who shot and killed five employees at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis Maryland in 2018?  In the divisive atmosphere in this nation today, and with so many avid Trumpeters determined to keep their hero in office, and with more guns in the hands of civilians than there are people in the entire nation … what could possibly go wrong?  Trump has convinced his base, some 40% of adults in the nation, that he is their savior, that he is great and has made their lives somehow better.  He riles the masses at his rallies and in his speeches.  This is a toxic situation.

One report I read claims a “person in the know” said former national security advisor John Bolton is at or near the top of the list.  No doubt there are others, perhaps some in the press, perhaps some who testified but have already left the administration, such as Fiona Hill, the Europe policy chief at the National Security Council, and Kurt D. Volker, the special envoy for Ukraine.

I don’t care if you identify as a Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, or none of the above … you must be incensed by this purge!  This is not normal and we simply cannot turn a blind eye and allow it to become normal!  Never in my life did I imagine that this country would stoop so low, would become, in essence, a tin pot dictatorship, yet for all intents and purposes, that is what we have become.  It is a dark day for the United States.  Keep your eye on the ball, folks, for this is only the beginning.darkness

The Never-Ending Snarky Snippets

It would seem that Filosofa never runs out of something to be snarky about these days.  Gee, I wonder why that is?  Well, tonight is no exception …


Trump’s revenge …

I knew that Trump was likely to escalate his bad behaviour for lack of a better word, once he was acquitted by the Senate.  Even I, the ultimate cynic, didn’t realize how quickly he would act.  Brosephus told us yesterday evening about the data the republicans in the Senate have gathered from federal agencies in just over a day regarding Hunter Biden and his travel.  Then, last night, I learned that Trump is planning to fire Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, for testifying in the House impeachment proceedings.  Yep, you heard right.  Revenge, pure and simple.

VindmanAfter his testimony in November, Vindman and his family received criticism and threats from Trump’s allies, including allegations of political bias and disloyalty to the US because of their refugee status.

There are laws against terminating an employee for testifying against a corrupt boss, but given that Trump has gotten by with breaking hundreds of laws already … well, what’s one more.  Who’s to stop him?  Not Congress, for the Senate doesn’t even have the cojones to censure him.  Not the courts, when all roads lead to Chief Justice John Roberts who didn’t have the courage or integrity to force a fair impeachment trial.

Apparently, Trump also plans to fire other National Security Council officials who he considers were ‘disloyal’ to him, and the White House is expected to say that it is part of a broader effort to clean house and decrease bureaucracy.  If this is the modus operandi of the government of this country, then it’s time we changed the government before we lose the ability to do so.


State of the Environment …

On Tuesday, a coalition of nine conservation groups issued a statement:

“Donald Trump’s administration has unleashed an unprecedented assault on our environment and the health of our communities. His policies threaten our climate, air, water, public lands, wildlife, and oceans; no amount of his greenwashing can change the simple fact: Donald Trump has been the worst president for our environment in history. Unfortunately, our children will pay the costs of this president’s recklessness. Our organizations have repeatedly fought back against these attacks and we will continue to fight to ensure that our kids don’t bear the brunt of the Trump administration’s anti-environmental agenda.”

The statement was offered by Alaska Wilderness League Action, Clean Water Action, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, EDF Action, Friends of the Earth, League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, and The Wilderness Society.

Later that evening, Trump gave his circus-like State of the Union address, but the above statement seems to me far more meaningful.


Midnight in Washington

They are called Eleven Films, and according to their Facebook bio, they are …

Portland/Vancouver based media company founded on 11 November 2011, specializing in creative internet content, documentaries, news, music and film. Since 2018, Eleven Films has amassed over 30 million views across all platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube). Aside from their original films, Eleven Films has created ads for Presidential candidates, Senatorial candidates, PACs, Causes, New York Times best-selling authors and general business. Their ads have aired on MSNBC, CNN and Fox News.

Eleven Films’ content has been shared by celebrities, politicians, insiders and influencers including: Alyssa Milano, Rosie O’Donnell, Don Cheadle, Frances Fisher, Debra Messing, Justine Bateman, Martina Navratilova, Jon Favreau, Judd Appetow, Vincent D’Onofrio, Don Winslow, Adrian McKinty, Alice Evans, Adam Parkhomanko, David Yankovich, Nancy Pelosi, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ted Lieu, Eric Swalwell, Carolyn Maloney, Veronica Escobar, Mike Levin, Maya Wiley, Eddie Glaude, Joy Ried, Abby Finkenauer to name a few.

That’s just about all I know of Eleven Films, but tonight one of their ads crossed my radar and … I was stunned.  This is possibly the most powerful clip of its sort that I have ever seen.  The film, titled Midnight in Washington, is very short, only one minute, 26 seconds, but it packs a punch.  Please take 1:26 to watch this.  You may also want to check out some of their other works on their website.


Stay tuned this afternoon for the next installment in Jeff’s and my project, Discord & Dissension – Part V!