Seeking Election Integrity …

Dan Coats was the director of national intelligence from 2017 to 2019. He resigned on July 28th 2019 when he was apprised that he was about to be fired.  The reason?  He did not play Trump’s game, did not take that oath of fealty that required him to be naught more than a yes-man.  He affirmed in no uncertain terms that Russia had indeed interfered in the 2016 U.S. election, contrary to Trump’s denials of such interference.  Today, Mr. Coats has written the following OpEd in the New York Times about the security of the upcoming election and offers one possible solution.

What’s at Stake in This Election? The American Democratic Experiment

Trump’s former director of national intelligence on how to firmly and unambiguously reassure all Americans that their votes will be counted.

dan-coatsBy Dan Coats

We hear often that the November election is the most consequential in our lifetime. But the importance of the election is not just which candidate or which party wins. Voters also face the question of whether the American democratic experiment, one of the boldest political innovations in human history, will survive.

Our democracy’s enemies, foreign and domestic, want us to concede in advance that our voting systems are faulty or fraudulent; that sinister conspiracies have distorted the political will of the people; that our public discourse has been perverted by the news media and social networks riddled with prejudice, lies and ill will; that judicial institutions, law enforcement and even national security have been twisted, misused and misdirected to create anxiety and conflict, not justice and social peace.

If those are the results of this tumultuous election year, we are lost, no matter which candidate wins. No American, and certainly no American leader, should want such an outcome. Total destruction and sowing salt in the earth of American democracy is a catastrophe well beyond simple defeat and a poison for generations. An electoral victory on these terms would be no victory at all. The judgment of history, reflecting on the death of enlightened democracy, would be harsh.

The most urgent task American leaders face is to ensure that the election’s results are accepted as legitimate. Electoral legitimacy is the essential linchpin of our entire political culture. We should see the challenge clearly in advance and take immediate action to respond.

The most important part of an effective response is to finally, at long last, forge a genuinely bipartisan effort to save our democracy, rejecting the vicious partisanship that has disabled and destabilized government for too long. If we cannot find common ground now, on this core issue at the very heart of our endangered system, we never will.

Our key goal should be reassurance. We must firmly, unambiguously reassure all Americans that their vote will be counted, that it will matter, that the people’s will expressed through their votes will not be questioned and will be respected and accepted. I propose that Congress creates a new mechanism to help accomplish this purpose. It should create a supremely high-level bipartisan and nonpartisan commission to oversee the election. This commission would not circumvent existing electoral reporting systems or those that tabulate, evaluate or certify the results. But it would monitor those mechanisms and confirm for the public that the laws and regulations governing them have been scrupulously and expeditiously followed — or that violations have been exposed and dealt with — without political prejudice and without regard to political interests of either party.

Also, this commission would be responsible for monitoring those forces that seek to harm our electoral system through interference, fraud, disinformation or other distortions. These would be exposed to the American people in a timely manner and referred to appropriate law enforcement agencies and national security entities.

Such a commission must be composed of national leaders personally committed — by oath — to put partisan politics aside even in the midst of an electoral contest of such importance. They would accept as a personal moral responsibility to put the integrity and fairness of the election process above everything else, making public reassurance their goal.

Commission members undertaking this high, historic responsibility should come from both parties and could include congressional leaders, current and former governors, “elder statespersons,” former national security leaders, perhaps the former Supreme Court justices David Souter and Anthony Kennedy, and business leaders from social media companies.

This commission would be created by emergency legislative action. During that process, its precise mandate, composition, powers and resources would be defined. Among other aspects, the legislation would define the relationship between the commission and the intelligence and law enforcement communities with the capability necessary for the commission’s work. And it would define how the commission would work with all the individual states.

Congressional leaders must see the need as urgent and move quickly with common purpose. Seeking broad bipartisan unity on such an initiative at such a fraught time goes against the nature of the political creatures we have become. But this is the moment and this is the issue that demands a higher patriotism. No member of Congress could have any valid reason to reject any step that could contribute to the fundamental health of our Republic. With what should be the unanimous support of Congress, the legislation must call upon the election campaigns of both parties to commit in advance to respect the findings of the commission. Both presidential candidates should be called upon to make such personal commitments of their own.

If we fail to take every conceivable effort to ensure the integrity of our election, the winners will not be Donald Trump or Joe Biden, Republicans or Democrats. The only winners will be Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping and Ali Khamenei. No one who supports a healthy democracy could election 2020want that.

Dear Kentucky, Please do us a Favor

Mitch McConnell is the poster boy for why we need term limits … the man has long overstayed his welcome in the U.S. Senate and needs to be put out to pasture. Our friend Jeff has written an impassioned plea to the good people of the State of Kentucky to please remove this wart from our posterior! Actually, Jeff phrased it far more kindly than I would likely have done, which is why he’s so great at what he does! Thank you, Jeff … let us hope Kentuckians are listening!!! The few I know are ready to dump Mitch, but they obviously don’t speak for the whole.

On The Fence Voters

A letter to the voters of the great state of Kentucky:

For the last 36 years, you have elected Mitch McConnell to the United States Senate. The loyalty shown to Mr. McConnell is genuinely something I’m sure he takes quite seriously and appreciates greatly. However, this year, I’d like to ask you a favor. Would you please consider removing Senator McConnell by voting for Amy McGrath on November 3, 2020?

Yes, I know. Who am I to ask such a thing? Well, I’m a concerned American who currently resides in the great state of Oregon. I’m about as far away as you can get from your state, not just in miles, but also in political ideology. But I’m also an individual who believes that we can and should do better for all Americans. And the truth is, your Senator has almost singlehandedly stopped hundreds of pieces of legislation.

Now, you…

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Skewed Priorities!!!

Coronavirus cases have hit 5.6 million in the U.S., the highest of any single nation on the globe.  The death toll in the U.S. is an astounding 171,535, again, the highest of any nation, despite the fact that the U.S. accounts for less than 5% of the global population.  More than one thousand people are dying in the U.S. every damn day.  People … moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, children.  We are 80 days away from arguably the most important election in the history of this nation, while the Trump-dominated federal government is doing everything in its power to keep We the People from our constitutional right to vote.  The economy is largely, contrary to what some will tell you, in the tank, and millions of people are out of work, facing eviction by the end of the month.  Congress has stalled on the rescue bill that would help people over the hump, and the U.S. Senate has taken a vacation until September.  Many … some 20 million people … have no medical insurance.  Children are going to bed hungry at night.  So what, given all this grief, does our government choose to focus on???

Well, for one thing, UFOs.  That’s right … Unidentified Flying Objects!  According to Politico …

The Pentagon, under growing pressure from Congress, said Friday it has established a new high-level body to investigate reports of “unidentified aerial phenomenon” following multiple incidents in recent years of UFOs reportedly intruding into military airspace.

The Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force was created by Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist on Aug. 4, elevating an effort that since 2018 has been under the purview of the Office of Naval Intelligence, officials said.

Our government, for which we pay dearly, is more interested in looking for spaceships from fucking Mars than helping people keep their homes, keep safe, and feed their children!!!

What else are they focused on?  Hillary Clinton’s emails!  Yep, you heard me right, folks.  The damn fools in the conservative group Judicial Watch are still hounding Hillary Clinton who … listen to me closely, please … who HAS BEEN ABSOLVED OF ANY INTENTIONAL WRONGDOING.  Yes, she used poor judgment in choosing to keep certain emails on a private server … 8 years ago!!!  She has answered written questions under penalty of perjury about her email practices.  Leave the woman alone, for Pete’s Sake!!!

Fortunately, a trio of judges felt the same, and ruled in a 3-0 decision that Judicial Watch was not entitled to depose Clinton in connection with an 8-year-old Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking records of details about information national security adviser Susan Rice discussed during interviews in 2012 about the deadly attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya.

It has been proven 40,000 times that Hillary Clinton did not cause nor have knowledge of the attack in Benghazi, that she could not have stopped or prevented it.  LEAVE HER ALONE!  Concern yourselves with the multiple crises facing this nation today, not what might have been done differently 8 years ago!

It is past time for our government to govern.  It is past time for all parties in the United States Congress to put aside their differences, to put aside partisanship and work in the best interest of the people.  It is time for somebody to put Mitch McConnell on a plane to Siberia with a one-way ticket so that Congress can get on with their work.  It is way past time for Congress to STOP enabling the actions of the madman in the Oval Office!

The top priorities of the government of this nation, if we are to survive into the next decade are:

  • Get financial assistance to those who need it most — quickly!!!
  • Implement mandatory masks, close schools, bars & restaurants, do whatever is necessary to halt the increase in the number of cases and deaths due to the coronavirus
  • Ensure the right of every eligible voter to vote safely, either by mail or drop box, in November
  • Force Congress back to the bargaining table … bring the Senate back to Washington and sequester all 535 members of Congress in the Capitol building until such time as they hammer out a compromise that helps people in need. Keep Steve Mnuchin, Donald Trump and Mark Meadows out of the negotiations … it is NOT their place!

UFOs and Hillary Clinton are NOT the priority today!  If the executive and legislative branches cannot fathom that simple concept, then we need to throw da bums out … EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM!

More Pandemic Of Stupidity

Pandemic of Stupidity rages on …

When I wrote the post Pandemic of Stupidity on July 30th, I had no intention of turning it into a series, or even a two-part post.  But for Pete’s sake … stupidity just seems to be surrounding me … everywhere I look, there are blatant examples of it and I am truly beginning to despair that far too many people in this country have partaken of some strange substance that turns the brain to mush in just a very short time!

Of course, there was never any doubt that Trump is a victim of the pandemic of stupidity, but the latest example even had my trump-weary jaw dropping with this utterance from yesterday …

“The closest thing is in 1917, they say, the great pandemic. It certainly was a terrible thing where they lost anywhere from 50 to 100 million people, probably ended the Second World War. All the soldiers were sick. That was a terrible situation.”

Through gritted teeth I tell you that World War II ended in 1945, some 26 years after the Spanish Flu came to an end in 1919.  If an average Joe made this statement, it would be bad enough, but for the person who is entrusted with the lives of 330 million people, the person who is entrusted with the nuclear codes, to be this effing stupid is just beyond reason!

And from the annals of stupidity …

“I’m sorry, Jill, but I’m unfriending you.  I really like you, you’ve been a good friend, but your blogs are just too serious all the time!”

This person, once a valued friend and co-worker, informed me that since I’ve become ‘obsessed’ with politics, social justice, and global affairs … since I ‘insist’ on carrying on about the pandemic, about Trump, and about racists … she can no longer be my friend because my writings “make it hard for me to stay happy.”

Okay, then.  There was a time I would have mourned the loss of a good friend, but … no longer.  You see, it’s people like this who would bury their heads in the sand, who would put their own ‘happiness’ ahead of human lives, ahead of the environmental crisis that threatens to bring about the extinction of numerous species including the human species … it is the people with this mentality who threaten our very existence.  So, sayonara, so long, see ya, hasta la vista.  Enjoy your blissful ignorance.

QAnon is coming to Congress?

It is reported that there are as many as a dozen members of the conspiracy theory group known as QAnon running for seats in the United States Congress this year.  Some are low-key, only espousing one or two of the conspiracy theories and not publicly proclaiming their membership in the group, while others are more … shall we say, outspoken. marjory-taylor-greeneTake, for example, Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican who is perhaps the most unabashedly pro-QAnon candidate for Congress and has drawn a positive tweet from President Trump. She recently declared that QAnon was “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take this global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles out.”

In April, Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, a high-profile lawmaker and a favorite of Trump, donated $2,000 to Ms. Greene’s campaign. A political action committee with which Mr. Jordan is associated, the House Freedom Fund, gave her thousands of dollars more.angela-stanton-kingOr Angela Stanton-King, a House candidate in Georgia who has repeatedly posted QAnon content and obscure hashtags, such as “#trusttheplan.” The Republican National Committee gave $2,200 to her campaign, and the Georgia Republican Party gave an additional $2,800 to Ms. Stanton-King, who, by the way, was pardoned this year by Trump for her role in a car-theft ring!

In many instances, these candidates sought to spread a core tenet of the QAnon conspiracy: that Trump, backed by the military, ran for office to save Americans from a so-called deep state filled with child-abusing, devil-worshiping bureaucrats. Backing the president’s enemies are prominent Democrats who, in some telling, extract hormones from children’s blood.  Oh for PETE’S SAKE!  What in the Sam Hell have these people been smoking/drinking???

None of these candidates are likely to actually take a seat in Congress next year, but the fact that they are in the race, the fact that they are spewing and spreading such garbage, such nonsense, and that people … some people … will believe their every word and even vote for them, causes me to wonder if the human species even deserve to be on this otherwise beautiful planet.

Impotent Tyranny

I’ve been doing some thinking about Trump’s ‘executive orders’ last week, how he has overstepped his authority, shredded the Constitution yet again, and all for naught, for nothing he did is likely to help very many of the people who need help the most.  He is all pomp, no substance, as is proven by the fact that rather than sign these orders in his office as would have been appropriate, he took them to his country club to sign them in front of a group of rich, old, white men sipping wine who applauded enthusiastically, for they have no horse in this race.

Today I happened across a piece written by a freelance writer, Joel Mathis, writing for The Week, that I thought covered the matter well, so I am sharing it here today.

Donald Trump’s impotent tyranny

joel-mathisJoel Mathis

Everything is a show with Donald Trump.

He was never really a successful businessman — he just played one on TV. Now, as president, a similar pattern has emerged: Trump wants to perform the role of autocrat in front of TV cameras, but cannot or will not act effectively to protect the country from the economic and health challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. He’s a Potemkin strongman.

The latest example of this phenomenon came over the weekend. With the House and Senate hamstrung on a pandemic relief bill, President Trump announced he would act unilaterally — signing executive orders to extend unemployment benefits, continue a moratorium on evictions, defer payroll taxes, and pause student loan payments.

“I’m taking executive action,” he said. “We’ve had it. And we’re going to save American jobs and provide relief to the American workers.”

Trump’s executive orders combined two paradoxical elements: overreach and impotence.

Let’s take overreach first. As The Washington Post noted, Trump’s orders “attempt to wrest away some of Congress’s most fundamental, constitutionally mandated powers — tax and spending policy.” The Constitution plainly gives Congress, not the president, taxing and spending power. One Republican senator called Trump’s orders “unconstitutional slop.”

But this isn’t the first time Trump has tried to usurp the legislative branch’s financial prerogatives: After his failed government shutdown at the start of 2019, he signed an emergency decree diverting defense funds to build his border wall with Mexico. That is plainly unconstitutional, but the courts have so far let him proceed, drifting leisurely toward a final question on the matter. Their failure to act in due haste has given the president an opening for additional transgressions.

Perhaps the sidestepping of Congress and the Constitution would be understandable if Trump’s acts would actually help Americans trying to survive the pandemic and its economic fallout. After all, President Lincoln disregarded habeas corpus during the Civil War, and Americans mostly love him.

Then again, Lincoln won the Civil War. Trump is losing the pandemic. And his executive orders probably won’t help him win it. There is less here than meets the eye. Let’s take them one-by-one:

  • Most unemployed Americans probably will not see the extended benefits. The president announced they would get an extra $400 a week — but that money would be paid under a formula in which the federal government will provide $300 if individuals qualify for an extra $100 from their own states. But states are facing their own financial problems, and observers say implementing that formula is a logistical nightmare. “There are so many problems with people getting a benefit under this,” one expert told CNN.

  • There are several problems with the payroll tax deferral. First, it only applies to Americans who are still working — if you’re unemployed, the cut won’t put any extra money in your pocket. That makes it largely ineffective as a stimulus. What’s more, workers might enjoy having slightly larger paychecks now, but they will still owe that money at the end of the year, unless Congress chooses to forgive the deferred taxes. Despite his claim to act on his own, Trump needs legislators to make the payroll holiday stick — and he is willing to play chicken with workers’ income to do so.

  • And, oh yeah: Payroll taxes are what fund Social Security and Medicare. “These systems, which have helped generations retire and live, are already underfunded,” Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) tweeted Sunday. “Cutting the payroll tax without replacing the funding is the same as getting rid of them.” Trump is creating a bigger problem than he is solving.

  • The eviction moratorium is also problematic. As Politico reported, “the ban itself shields barely a quarter of the nation’s 44 million rental units — only residents of buildings that have federally guaranteed mortgages.” That leaves tens of millions of Americans vulnerable. The deferral of student loans is also flawed: It excludes nine million borrowers whose debt is held by private lenders.

All of this means that President Trump is undermining the constitutional order — again — but will probably have little to show for it.

This is in keeping with his now-tedious habit of prizing appearance over substance and ratings over effective action, his love of claiming “total authority” while often leaving states and cities to their own devices as they battle the coronavirus. Trump’s attempts at tyranny do nothing to solve the country’s problems, but they do compound the crisis of American democracy.

It’s the worst of both worlds.

Brief letter to Senators and Congress people (sent Saturday morning)

As I wrote earlier today, Congress has seemingly come to a stalemate in the relief bill intended to help people who are struggling. In lieu of that, Trump has signed executive orders that do little to help people, and that are beyond the scope of his constitutional powers. Our friend Keith compose an excellent letter that he has sent to certain members of Congress, and I am re-posting it here in hopes that others will share his letter with their own senators and representatives. We MUST let them know that we need them to step up to the plate NOW! Thank you, Keith, both for this excellent letter, for permission to re-blog, and for caring so much!


I posted the following on the my two Senators (and select others) and Congressman’s websites.

I am disappointed that Congress has failed to reach a decision to help people. As with any communication problem, it is the fault of at least two parties, so the president’s attempt to blame only the Democrats is just more posturing than fact. Please find a way to make a deal. Americans are hurting and the president does not have the authority to do what is needed.

I am big believer we must deal with the debt, but the hypocrisy of the Freedom Caucus and others astounds me. They had no trouble in voting for a $1.5 trillion tax bill when it helped the wealthy and businesses at a time when we should have been reducing debt with a pretty good economy. So, we wasted that debt cost to make a pretty good economy a…

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An Honourable Man: Alexander Vindman

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman served this nation with honour and integrity for 21 years.  A career U.S. Army officer, he served on the National Security Council as the director for Eastern European, Caucasus and Russian affairs, as the Russia political-military affairs officer for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and as a military attaché in the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.  He received a Purple Heart medal for wounds he received from an IED attack in the Iraq War in 2004.  In October 2019 he testified before the United States Congress regarding the Trump–Ukraine scandal.  On February 7th, two days after the U.S. Senate let the nation down, failing to uphold their oaths and failing to convict Trump on well-proven impeachment charges, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman was fired, or rather “reassigned within the army” and in a tacky gesture, escorted off the White House grounds.  Last month, he resigned, citing untenable circumstances of bullying and harassment by Trump and his sycophants.  What follows is an OpEd he wrote that was published this morning in The Washington Post.  Lieutenant Colonel Vindman is a man of honour and integrity who served this nation well.

Alexander Vindman: Coming forward ended my career.

I still believe doing what’s right matters.

VindmanOpinion by Alexander S. Vindman

August 1, 2020 at 8:00 a.m. EDT

After 21 years, six months and 10 days of active military service, I am now a civilian. I made the difficult decision to retire because a campaign of bullying, intimidation and retaliation by President Trump and his allies forever limited the progression of my military career.

This experience has been painful, but I am not alone in this ignominious fate. The circumstances of my departure might have been more public, yet they are little different from those of dozens of other lifelong public servants who have left this administration with their integrity intact but their careers irreparably harmed.

A year ago, having served the nation in uniform in positions of critical importance, I was on the cusp of a career-topping promotion to colonel. A year ago, unknown to me, my concerns over the president’s conduct and the president’s efforts to undermine the very foundations of our democracy were precipitating tremors that would ultimately shake loose the facade of good governance and publicly expose the corruption of the Trump administration.

At no point in my career or life have I felt our nation’s values under greater threat and in more peril than at this moment. Our national government during the past few years has been more reminiscent of the authoritarian regime my family fled more than 40 years ago than the country I have devoted my life to serving.

Our citizens are being subjected to the same kinds of attacks tyrants launch against their critics and political opponents. Those who choose loyalty to American values and allegiance to the Constitution over devotion to a mendacious president and his enablers are punished. The president recklessly downplayed the threat of the pandemic even as it swept through our country. The economic collapse that followed highlighted the growing income disparities in our society. Millions are grieving the loss of loved ones and many more have lost their livelihoods while the president publicly bemoans his approval ratings.

There is another way.

During my testimony in the House impeachment inquiry, I reassured my father, who experienced Soviet authoritarianism firsthand, saying, “Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth.” Despite Trump’s retaliation, I stand by that conviction. Even as I experience the low of ending my military career, I have also experienced the loving support of tens of thousands of Americans. Theirs is a chorus of hope that drowns out the spurious attacks of a disreputable man and his sycophants.

Since the struggle for our nation’s independence, America has been a union of purpose: a union born from the belief that although each individual is the pilot of their own destiny, when we come together, we change the world. We are stronger as a woven rope than as unbound threads.

America has thrived because citizens have been willing to contribute their voices and shed their blood to challenge injustice and protect the nation. It is in keeping with that history of service that, at this moment, I feel the burden to advocate for my values and an enormous urgency to act.

Despite some personal turmoil, I remain hopeful for the future for both my family and for our nation. Impeachment exposed Trump’s corruption, but the confluence of a pandemic, a financial crisis and the stoking of societal divisions has roused the soul of the American people. A groundswell is building that will issue a mandate to reject hate and bigotry and a return to the ideals that set the United States apart from the rest of the world. I look forward to contributing to that effort.

In retirement from the Army, I will continue to defend my nation. I will demand accountability of our leadership and call for leaders of moral courage and public servants of integrity. I will speak about the attacks on our national security. I will advocate for policies and strategies that will keep our nation safe and strong against internal and external threats. I will promote public service and exalt the contribution that service brings to all areas of society.

The 23-year-old me who was commissioned in December 1998 could never have imagined the opportunities and experiences I have had. I joined the military to serve the country that sheltered my family’s escape from authoritarianism, and yet the privilege has been all mine.

When I was asked why I had the confidence to tell my father not to worry about my testimony, my response was, “Congressman, because this is America. This is the country I have served and defended, that all my brothers have served, and here, right matters.”

To this day, despite everything that has happened, I continue to believe in the American Dream. I believe that in America, right matters. I want to help ensure that right matters for all Americans.

Snarky … Yes Again … Snippets

After a day off from snarking, I find the snark buildup is bubbling, threatening to overflow.  And so … here we go again …

Remember yesterday when I told you about Representative Louie Gohmert who had contracted the coronavirus and tried to claim he got it from wearing a mask?  Well, I knew Gohmert had been on my radar before, and right after I wrote that, another instance of his apparent insanity hit my inbox.

Last week, Gohmert introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives that calls on the U.S. House to bar all Democrats from the chamber because of the party’s historical ties to slavery and racism unless the party is renamed.  Say WHAT???

Said Gohmert in a Breitbart (go figure) article …

“Efforts by Democrats to destroy all public traces of their own history of supporting slavery, the Confederacy, and segregation in an attempt to shift blame onto Republicans must no longer go unchallenged. It is time for Democrats to play by their own rules, and accept the standards they have forced onto everyone else. They must divest themselves of their name that has denied so many the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Now, we all know that this ‘resolution’ is going nowhere and is naught but Mr. Gohmert’s childish attempt to counter the removal of the confederate statues that he apparently loved from the Capitol building.  But for PETE’S SAKE, people of Texas!!!  Keep this arsehole in Texas!  Please, do NOT send him back to Washington, or I might just go bash his head in myself!

Congress cannot seem to come up with a single meaningful piece of legislation (thank you, Mitch McConnell), they are allowing critical safeguards for people in dire need to lapse at midnight tonight because they are too damn divided by partisanship and driven by egos to uphold their oaths of office, yet we have representatives … people whose salary WE THE PEOPLE are paying, playing these childish games, wasting both time and money … OUR money!  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr …

The purpose of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is to oversee missions involving anti-terrorism, border security, immigration and customs, cyber security, and disaster prevention and management.  It was created in November 2002 in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and began operations the following year.  And yet, yesterday The Washington Post reported that DHS has compiled “intelligence reports” about the work of American journalists covering protests in Portland, Oregon.  Please take a moment to let that one sink in, my friends.  Journalists are NOT the nation’s enemy, but rather the free press is the one thing that stands between us and a dictatorship!

The DHS intelligence reports, which are unclassified, are traditionally used for sharing the department’s analysis with federal law enforcement agencies, state and local officials and some foreign governments. They are not intended to disseminate information about American citizens who have no connection to terrorists or other violent actors and who are engaged in activity protected by the First Amendment, such as a free press!  Said John Sandweg, who previously served as the department’s acting general counsel …

“This has no operational value whatsoever.  This will just damage the intelligence office’s reputation.”

The two journalists were New York Times reporter Mike Baker and Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the editor in chief of Lawfare.  Baker co-wrote an article on July 28 that revealed an internal DHS memo indicating that the camouflaged federal agents sent to put down the unrest in Portland didn’t understand the nature of the protests they were facing.  Wittes posted, among other information, a DHS memo admonishing department personnel not to give information to reporters.

Once again, my friends, we are being treated as the enemy … our constitutional rights are being trampled!  The Department of Homeland Security is there to keep us safe, but instead they are endangering our very lives by attempting to harm our free press.

On Tuesday, Donald Trump showed us what he is made of.  With, as of this writing, more than 155,000 deaths in the U.S. due to the coronavirus pandemic, Donald Trump held a press briefing, the main purpose of which seemed to be to whine that Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx had higher approval ratings than he does.

“And yet, they’re highly thought of — but nobody likes me.”

Has it occurred to him that … he has cost this nation so much in terms of our democratic foundation, our human rights, our health, and our very lives that he is not at all ‘likeable’?  Apparently not.  Has it occurred to him that the presidency is not a popularity contest, but a serious responsibility — one that he has failed in over and over again?  Has it occurred to him that his constant criticism of all who disagree with him, his constant bragging about things he has no claim to brag about, and his continual shirking of his responsibility makes him an abomination rather than a ‘man’ worthy of respect?

Please take a moment … well, a few moments, actually, to watch Chris Cuomo explain to “Mr. President” [sic] why the people of this nation trust Drs. Fauci & Birx more than they trust Donald Trump … he makes his case well.

No, He Cannot Do That …

This morning, Donald Trump tweeted …

“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

Put your mind at ease, folks … it ain’t gonna happen.

First, his claims about election fraud are unfounded and false.  The reality here is that he is dropping in the polls and isn’t likely to gain much ground in the remaining three months before the election, given the fact that the coronavirus continues to rage out of control, his federal troops are creating chaos in our cities, and he is his own worst enemy.

But more to the point, he does not have the power to postpone the election, the date of which was set by an 1845 federal law placing it the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.  The date could move theoretically with action by Congress — but that would require agreement both by the Democrats who control the House and the Republicans who control the Senate. Neither side supports the idea.  Even the ignoble Mitch McConnell rebuffed Trump’s idea, saying that the election date is “set in stone.”

Representative Zoe Lofgren, chairwoman of the House Administration Committee, which has jurisdiction over elections, issued a statement saying …

“Americans have voted during the Civil War, in the midst of the Great Depression, in the shadow of World Wars, and in the wake of terrorist attacks. Americans will stand united to vote this November.”

Freedom House issued the following statement:

Washington  –  July 30, 2020 —  In response to President Donald Trump’s latest claims that mail-in voting will enable massive fraud in the November general elections, and suggestion that the elections be delayed, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“The president does not have the power to delay the elections,” said Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House. “The danger here is that he is using groundless claims about the integrity of mail-in voting to try to delegitimize the electoral process. Those of us who hold democracy dear must reject this ploy.”

“The president’s baseless attacks on the integrity of mail-in voting are grossly irresponsible and must end before any further damage to public confidence is done. It is extremely unusual, in the United States or anywhere in the world, for an incumbent leader to predict fraud in his own bid for reelection. President Trump has a duty to safeguard the electoral system while in office, and if he is concerned that state officials and the postal service are unprepared, he should ask Congress to allocate more resources without further delay.”

“The fact is that large-scale postal voting has been used safely for many years in several states, and electoral officials of both parties have moved to increase access to vote-by-mail procedures in light of the threat posed by COVID-19,” Abramowitz added. “While authorities should also ensure that in-person voting is safe and accessible, for instance by allowing early voting and extending voting hours on election day, mail-in voting has become an essential component of democratic practice in 2020.”

So, put your minds at ease, folks … the election will be held on November 3rd!

A Presidential Tribute To John Lewis

The incumbent in the White House chose not to honour the late John Lewis as he lay in state in the U.S. Capitol, but that incumbent is irrelevant in this case.  More relevant are the words of former President Barack Obama who wrote a beautifully touching tribute to Mr. Lewis, and so I share President Obama’s words with you today …

My Statement on the Passing of Rep. John Lewis


Barack Obama

Dad, husband, President, citizen.

America is a constant work in progress. What gives each new generation purpose is to take up the unfinished work of the last and carry it further — to speak out for what’s right, to challenge an unjust status quo, and to imagine a better world.

John Lewis — one of the original Freedom Riders, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the youngest speaker at the March on Washington, leader of the march from Selma to Montgomery, Member of Congress representing the people of Georgia for 33 years — not only assumed that responsibility, he made it his life’s work. He loved this country so much that he risked his life and his blood so that it might live up to its promise. And through the decades, he not only gave all of himself to the cause of freedom and justice, but inspired generations that followed to try to live up to his example.

Considering his enormous impact on the history of this country, what always struck those who met John was his gentleness and humility. Born into modest means in the heart of the Jim Crow South, he understood that he was just one of a long line of heroes in the struggle for racial justice. Early on, he embraced the principles of nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience as the means to bring about real change in this country, understanding that such tactics had the power not only to change laws, but to change hearts and minds as well.

In so many ways, John’s life was exceptional. But he never believed that what he did was more than any citizen of this country might do. He believed that in all of us, there exists the capacity for great courage, a longing to do what’s right, a willingness to love all people, and to extend to them their God-given rights to dignity and respect. And it’s because he saw the best in all of us that he will continue, even in his passing, to serve as a beacon in that long journey towards a more perfect union.

I first met John when I was in law school, and I told him then that he was one of my heroes. Years later, when I was elected a U.S. Senator, I told him that I stood on his shoulders. When I was elected President of the United States, I hugged him on the inauguration stand before I was sworn in and told him I was only there because of the sacrifices he made. And through all those years, he never stopped providing wisdom and encouragement to me and Michelle and our family. We will miss him dearly.

It’s fitting that the last time John and I shared a public forum was at a virtual town hall with a gathering of young activists who were helping to lead this summer’s demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Afterwards, I spoke to him privately, and he could not have been prouder of their efforts — of a new generation standing up for freedom and equality, a new generation intent on voting and protecting the right to vote, a new generation running for political office. I told him that all those young people — of every race, from every background and gender and sexual orientation — they were his children. They had learned from his example, even if they didn’t know it. They had understood through him what American citizenship requires, even if they had heard of his courage only through history books.

Not many of us get to live to see our own legacy play out in such a meaningful, remarkable way. John Lewis did. And thanks to him, we now all have our marching orders — to keep believing in the possibility of remaking this country we love until it lives up to its full promise.