Giving Thanks

Our friend Jeff takes this opportunity to tell us a little bit about how & why he and Greg started On the Fence Voters, and what direction they plan for the coming year. I am looking forward to working with Jeff on a project or two in the coming months … thank you, Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

With news coming at us at blinding speed, it’s tempting to do a rant on HIM today. I’m not going to do it, though. There will be plenty of time for that in the coming weeks. We have turbulent waters ahead, and it’s going to take all of us to stay focused so that we can exile the current President of the United States to one of his failing properties. We cannot allow the man to win a second term.

But today, I’d like to veer in another direction. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and well, I’d like to take the time to give thanks.

When my long-time pal Greg, aka Ohio Realist, called to ask if I’d be interested in doing this project in early 2018, I couldn’t say yes fast enough.

Both of us had remained in contact with each other after I moved to the West Coast in 2004…

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Letter To Republican Senator

I think that if there is a chance that the U.S. Senate will remember their oath of office, will remember that their oath is to the U.S. Constitution, not the president, and that their loyalty damn well better be to We the People, it will only happen if we remind them.  Seems many of them have forgotten where to look for their conscience, their values.  I think the time has come to remind them.

Below is the letter I have sent to the republican senator in my own state.  Feel free to take any of the ideas expressed within if you write to your own senators.

Dear Senator Portman,

I am writing to you today, because as a resident of the State of Ohio, a citizen of the United States, I am very concerned about the actions of the Senate. 

First, I would like to remind you that you took an oath whereby you swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution.  Your loyalty is to the people of this nation, not the ‘man’ who sits in the Oval Office today.  We currently have the most corrupt president in the history of this nation, and frankly he has brought our reputation to its knees.  We are no longer regarded as a trusted ally by virtually any nation.  We have let the people of the entire world down with our complete disregard for the environment.  And all this has occurred in the last three years, and all because of the corruption that begins and ends with Donald Trump.

I believe it is a foregone conclusion that the House of Representatives will vote to impeach Donald Trump, possibly before the end of this year.  And then, Senator, the ball will be in your court.  The majority of people in this nation support the impeachment, conviction, and removal from office of Donald Trump.  Nothing less is acceptable, for the fate of not only this nation, but every nation in the world is at stake.  I firmly believe that within the next twelve months, Donald Trump will do everything in his power to ensure that next year’s election will be so dishonest and unfair that it will be a complete sham, a mockery of any democratic principles that remain in our nation.

I ask that you think long and hard about the actions of the Senate, search your own conscience and ask yourself if your loyalty to Donald Trump is of more value than your loyalty to the people who voted you into office.  Is your dedication to Donald Trump truly worth selling out your own values?  Is it worth risking your own career?  Can you look your three children in the eye and tell them how important it is to always ‘do the right thing’?  And perhaps for you the most important question:  Do you wish to be re-elected in 2022?  We the People have long memories, and if you fail us this time, I promise to do everything in my power to see that you never serve a third term in the U.S. Senate.

I think you know the right thing to do.  Please remember your oath of office, remember the people you are paid to serve, and do the right thing.

Sincerely,

Jill Dennison, voter/citizen/taxpayer

The Outcome of the Senate Trial is Not a Done Deal. Here’s Why.

I, like the majority of us, have been guilty of lamenting that though the House will almost certainly impeach the most corrupt president we’ve ever had, I was equally certain that the Senate would never vote to convict and remove him. My reasoning being that it will require 20 republican senators and every single democratic senator to achieve the 2/3 super-majority required and there are not 20 republican senators with integrity. While that may well be the case, I was wrong in that I forgot, briefly, what a powerful voice We the People can have when we work together to use it. Our friend TokyoSand reminds us …

Political⚡Charge

Screen Shot 2019-11-24 at 10.47.58 PM

Do you remember the days and weeks leading up to the Senate’s vote on the disastrous Republican “repeal and replace” healthcare bill during Trump’s first year as president?

I do. Thousands of everyday Americans called their Senators, and attended town halls, and demanded meetings in their local offices, and wrote op-eds for their local papers, and more. We demanded to be heard on this incredibly important topic and we did not give up. Back in 2017, we had no reason to believe that the Republican Senators would vote the way Democrats wanted them to. But we cared a LOT about this issue and nothing was going to stop us.

And then we won. The Republicans failed to get enough votes to pass their bill.

We’ve all seen the power of a motivated citizenry. So I’m very perplexed as to why everyone, and I mean everyone, says out loud that the…

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Throw The Bums Out!!!

Politics in the United States, or anywhere for that matter, should not divide the people of the nation.  Politics is not supposed to be a game played by only those who can afford to play.  Politics is not supposed to be about the holder of the highest office in the land seeking to commit crimes under the very noses of those who put him into office.

Politics should not be about Donald Trump saying that yes, he did things that were against the law and will continue to do them, and there is nothing that the people he purports to represent, the people who pay his salary (before you say it, yes, he does receive a salary) can do about it.

Politics should not be about a representative who is involved in a university sex scandal bullying his peers in an attempt to validate the criminal activities of the president.  In the United States, the U.S. Constitution provides for a system of ‘checks and balances’ between the three branches of the federal government.  Instead of following the Constitution, though, those who have taken an oath, who have sworn to uphold that very document, are trampling it every day.  The republicans in Congress are naught but paid lackeys … hired hands who say “Yessir” and “Whatever you say, sir”, and when told to jump, ask “How high, sir?” to Donald Trump.

President Lincoln proclaimed in his Gettysburg Address on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863 …

“… government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Friends, it has either perished or is lying dormant today!  Today’s government is of the Donald, by the Donald, and for the Donald … nobody else matters, not even to about half of our representatives and senators in Congress!  You want to talk about ‘quid pro quo’?  Here’s the real ‘quid pro quo’ … Donald says to your district’s representative, or your state’s senator …

“You gotta support me … you gotta throw up roadblock after roadblock to get this impeachment thing stopped.  You do this, I will come do a rally in your state to support you before the election.  You don’t do it?  I will tell so many filthy lies about you, call you so many ugly names, that you couldn’t get a job collecting trash.”

Our elected officials have forgotten that Donald Trump is NOT their boss!  I am their boss, you are their boss, every one of 330 million+ people in this country are their boss.  Donald Trump is not.  We must remind them, and there are two ways to do that.  First, we must call and write to them and inform them in no uncertain terms that they will rot in hell before we will ever vote for them again.  Second, we must vote them OUT!

My own representative in the House, Warren Davidson, is a grade-A jackass who panders to Donald Trump, bends over as far as he tells him to, licks his boots, and then runs around the state doing Donald’s dirty work.  Devin Nunes of California is a weasel, a little yappy dog who does Donald’s bidding even when it is unethical, immoral, and illegal.  He plainly broke the law when, during the Mueller investigation, he told lie after lie and passed on information to Trump that he had no right to do.  The Federal Election Commission is investigating Nunes for campaign finance violations.  Jim Jordan is a bully who is under investigation by the State of Ohio for his role in the Ohio State University sex scandals when he was the assistant wrestling coach some twenty years ago.  This is the bunch of jerks into whose hands we have entrusted our lives, my friends!

We’ve come a long way from 1787 when a group of men gathered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to draft a document, a guideline for the newly formed United States of America.  Those men hoped to put forth a set of laws that would serve as a foundation for the government and the people of this nation.  They were deep thinkers, unlike almost any in our government today.  One of their foremost goals was to ensure that we could trust our government, that we would not be forced to tolerate corrupt politicians or unfair laws.  I think that the framers of the U.S. Constitution would be appalled if they could see the mockery that our government is today.

Donald Trump is turning this nation into something it was never intended to be, and our elected representatives in Congress are helping him do it.  Trump has committed impeachable crimes, and the House of Representatives is in the process of impeaching him for those crimes.  However, the republicans in both chambers of Congress are doing everything in their power to turn the impeachment process into a three-ring circus.  Each and every one of the republicans in Congress are guilty of obstructing justice.  Nunes is threatening to open a second investigation and call his own witnesses.  He and others have apparently taken an oath of fealty to Donald Trump and forgotten about the oath of office they took to this nation.  There is one and only one way to rescue what is left of a “government of the people, by the people, for the people”

Throw The Bums Out!!!

Time For ‘Toons!

I thought it was about time for a ‘toon post … a bit of humour to dull the pain of the 24/7 news cycle where we are always being bombarded with some new abomination.


There was one bright spot last Friday, when Roger Stone was convicted on all seven felony counts with which he was charged.  Now, if ol’ Roger had been charged and convicted for every crime he’s ever committed, according to my calculations, he would be serving a 2,347 year sentence.  The truth of the matter is I won’t be surprised if Trump pardons him, but let’s enjoy his downfall while we can.

Roger-Stone

Roger-Stone-2

Only trouble with this one is they made Trump look slim … 

Roger-Stone-3Who will where it best?


The thing that is on everybody’s mind, of course, are the ongoing impeachment hearings, and the cartoonists on both sides are having a field day.

impeach-1impeach-2impeach-3impeach-4impeach-5impeach-6


Rather than either shutting up, or having some logical rebuttal to the witness testimonies, the republicans, most notably Jim Jordan, Devin Nunes, and Trump himself, are engaging in a smear campaign.  Why, Trump even tried to blame former Ambassador Marie Yovanovich for the Civil War in Somalia!

smear-campaignYovanovitch testimonysmear-campaign-3


And speaking of Jim Jordan …

Jim-Jordan


Some in the GOP seem to be having a hard time these days.  It must be difficult to have to give full support to a ‘man’ who has no values, no integrity, lies, cheats and steals.  Surely some of them are considering whether Trump is worth them throwing away their own careers.

GOPGOP-2


The foundation for our government is the U.S. Constitution.  Presidents take an oath to protect and uphold the Constitution.  The document has withstood many challenges over the past 232 years, but I have to question whether it can stand up to the constant shredding and burning it is being put through under Donald Trump and his cadre of oafs.

ConstitutionConstitution-2Tom Toles Editorial Cartoon - tt_c_c191106.tifcorruption-3


And just a few miscellaneous ‘toons …

Trump-charityTrump-liesTrump-stupidTrump-tweets

crazy-TrumpTrump-witch


Remember when the worst thing the opposition could find to criticize the president for was wearing a tan-coloured suit?  I long for the good ol’ days.Obama

Snarky Snippets: Filosofa Growls

I awoke this morning to an odd noise that I couldn’t seem to pinpoint.  At first I thought it was a car motor outside, but everywhere in the house I went, the noise stayed the same.  I asked the girls if they could hear the noise (my hearing is strange … I don’t hear what is there, and I often hear that which doesn’t exist), and they said they heard it only when I was near.  Hmmmm … a mystery.  Well, we finally figured out that it was a low, growling sound emanating from somewhere deep in my throat.  Well, you all know what that means, right?  It means that it’s time for … Snarky Snippets!


Donald Trump, whose claim to fame is firing people, who even had a television show that was based solely, from what I’ve heard, on him screaming, “You’re Fired!” every week, is in firing mode this month.  The latest in a series was Matthew Doherty, who until last week served as executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.  What, you may ask, did Mr. Doherty do wrong?  Nothing, as far as I can discern, but the timing is interesting.

The council was created in 1987 and is supposed to coordinate the government’s approach to tackling homelessness. It is unclear who will lead the organization now.  Trump has recently promised to take action against California’s homelessness problem, arguing that homelessness hurts the quality of life and the “prestige” of some of its largest cities. One measure that has been discussed is razing the tent camps that house many homeless.

Did Trump fire Mr. Doherty because Doherty is a man of integrity and refused to go along with Trump’s inhumane ideas?  And think about it … what does Trump plan to DO with the homeless people?  Remember, we are talking about people here, not just some things that are lying about detracting from the “prestige” of the cities.  Will he throw the children in cages?  Since for the most part these people are citizens, not immigrants, he cannot send them “back where they came from”, so will he throw the adults into the Pacific Ocean and say, “Sink or swim”?

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr


Remember those tax cuts for the wealthy that Trump & Congress so generously approved in December 2017?  One of the beneficiaries of those tax cuts came onto my radar just this morning.  In 2017, the year prior to the implementation of the new tax cuts, FedEx paid $1.5 billion in taxes.  Last year, however, was a different story … last year FedEx paid -0- in taxes.  That’s right, folks … almost ever single person reading this post paid more taxes in 2018 than the corporation that saw a net income of $4.57 billion in fiscal 2018.  Let that one sink in for a minute.

Now, the rationale for the tax cuts on corporations was that the companies would use the extra money they had on investments that would create more jobs … you know, that ‘trickle down’ theory that has never worked and never will work.  Well, the company spent less in the 2018 fiscal year than it had projected in December 2017, before the tax law passed. It spent even less in 2019. Much of its savings have gone to reward shareholders: FedEx spent more than $2 billion on stock buybacks and dividend increases in the 2019 fiscal year, up from $1.6 billion in 2018, and more than double the amount the company spent on buybacks and dividends in fiscal year 2017.

In a nutshell, the country’s national debt is higher than ever before, the budget deficit (you remember, the one that republicans were so concerned about when Obama was president?) is in the tank, but a lot of rich people got even richer, thanks to their rich friends in the U.S. Congress and in the Oval Office.

Oh, and one last thing … this year, FedEx cut back on employee bonuses in an effort to reduce labour costs.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr


Just so you know, my friends, Attorney General William Barr says that We the People (those of us who still use our brains to think) are “undermining the rule of law”.  Yes, that’s right.  Trump can break the law, trample the Constitution, and even shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, but it is those of us who disagree with him that are undermining the rule of law!

“Immediately after President [sic] Trump won election, opponents inaugurated what they called ‘The Resistance’ and they rallied around an explicit strategy of using every tool and maneuver to sabotage the functioning of the executive branch and his administration. The fact of the matter is: that in waging a scorched-earth, no-holds-barred war of resistance against this administration, it is the left that is engaged in the systemic shredding of norms and undermining the rule of law.”

He forgets that after Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008, it was the right that formed the Tea Party movement, and republicans in Congress who conspired to oppose every effort put forward by the incoming administration.  He forgets that the Koch brothers initiated the “Tea Party” movement immediately after Obama’s election, to shout down democratic lawmakers, protest in the streets and at state capitols across the nation, and even protest violently outside of the U.S. Capitol building. Some of them reportedly spit on lawmakers as they were walking into Congress to vote on healthcare legislation, and some called black lawmakers the N-word.

Yet it is those of us who want the madman out of the Oval Office, who wish to restore some integrity and intelligence to the position of president, who are “undermining the rule of law”???????

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr


Okay, folks, I think I’ve growled so much that my throat hurts, so I’ll stop here and leave you with a bit of humour.

Robert Reich And The Founding Fathers Speak

Many people who support Trump, both in and out of government, claim that what Trump has done is not an impeachable offense.  Some even go so far as to claim his extortion of the Ukrainian president, holding up much-needed military support in exchange for President Zelenskyy announcing he would investigate Trump’s rival Joe Biden, is “business as usual”.  I can talk until I’m blue in the face, and those people will say I’m just a sore loser, still angry because Hillary Clinton didn’t win in 2016.  They’d be wrong … Hillary actually did win by nearly 3 million votes.  The unfair skewing of districts in many states, however, handed Trump enough undeserved electoral votes to carry him into the Oval Office.

But, about impeachment … though I studied Constitutional Law for two years, and have read the Constitution probably 30-40 times, I am not an expert on Constitutional Law.  But I know of someone who is.

Robert Reich-4

Robert Reich

Robert Reich is an American economist, professor, author, and political commentator. He served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton. He was Secretary of Labor from 1993 to 1997. He was a member of President Barack Obama’s economic transition advisory board.

Reich has been the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley since January 2006. He was formerly a professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and professor of social and economic policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management of Brandeis University.

Suffice it to say that this man knows how government works, and knows the Constitution far better than, say, a president who has never read the short, 8.000-word document.  So, let’s hear what Mr. Reich has to say about whether what Trump has done is impeachable.

A Chef Who Cannot Cook?

What would you think of a bartender who has never mixed a drink, or a chef who has never cooked a meal?  Or how about a judge who has never tried a case?  All pretty unqualified for their jobs, wouldn’t you say?  Oh wait … or how about a president who has never read the Constitution, who has lied, cheated and stolen, and who has never held a government position?  Seems we’re on a roll here, folks!

But, my point today is the third one … a judge who has never tried a case.  That would be Judge Steven Menashi, whom the Senate just confirmed to a lifetime appointment on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.  Let’s look at a summary of Menashi’s experience …

  • In 2001, Menashi earned a Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, from Dartmouth College.
  • He then worked at the Hoover Institute for three years as a public affairs fellow and an associate editor of the institute’s Policy Review.
  • From 2004 to 2005 he was an editorial writer for The New York Sun.
  • In 2008, he graduated in 2008 with a Juris Doctor from Stanford Law School.
  • He served as a law clerk to Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit during the 2008–2009 term, and to Associate Justice Samuel Alito of the Supreme Court of the United States during the 2010–2011 term.
  • From 2011 to 2016, Menashi worked in the New York City office of Kirkland & Ellis, where he became a partner.
  • From 2016 to 2017, Menashi was an assistant professor of law at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School.
  • In September 2018, Menashi moved to the White House to become a Special Assistant to the President and Associate Counsel to the President.

Th-th-that’s it, folks … the sum total of Mr. Menashi’s career in eight short bullet points.  Never sat on a judicial bench, never tried a case … and now he’s a lifetime, high-ranking judge.  Well, I think I’ll just run for U.S. Senator next year … I’m as qualified for that as Menashi is for a judgeship!

Menashi

Steven Menashi — what a look, eh?

But this is an interesting appointment and sped-up confirmation folks.  You see, his confirmation hearing was on September 11th, more than two months ago, and there were objections from both sides of the aisle, in part because he refused to answer their questions regarding the role he played in shaping the Trump administration’s immigration policies.  Another point of contention was about an article he had written in the University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law about ethnonationalism and Israel.

In addition, Menashi has a history of speaking against women’s rights, as well as LGBT rights.  And, when he was sent a letter by the Senate Judiciary Committee asking about his knowledge of Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Menashi refused to respond.

It is interesting, as well, to note that on Wednesday, the same day the Senate invoked cloture, putting an end to further debate about Menashi’s nomination and forcing a vote, a federal appeals court ruled against Trump’s claim that his financial records should remain closed, upholding last week’s ruling by the very court Menashi has been confirmed to, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.  Perhaps if Menashi’s confirmation had not been held up for two months, he would have already been on the bench last Monday, November 4th, and Trump might well have won his case.  Think on that one for just a minute.  As it is, he is now appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court, begging them to ‘shield’ his tax returns being released.  In other words, begging the Court to affirm that he is, in fact, above the law of the land.

Trump’s argument was that U.S. presidents are immune from investigation while in office. A district judge and a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled against him, saying that the subpoena was proper and that the president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, must comply.  If there is any integrity left on the Supreme Court, they will rule in favour of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and against Trump’s desire for secrecy and dishonesty.  Don’t hold your breath.

Another seemingly unqualified nominee, Lawrence VanDyke, who Trump nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  His confirmation hearing was held on October 30th, and the Senate is expected to decide on his nomination on November 21st.

VanDyke

Lawrence VanDyke

A couple of things go against Mr. VanDyke … he has taken an anti-LGBT stance in the past, and initially refused to state that he could and would be fair to LGBT people who came before him in the courtroom.  The second thing is that the American Bar Association (ABA) has rated him “not qualified”.  As there is some dispute about the fairness of the ABA rating, and I haven’t as yet had time to do sufficient research, I will withhold my judgment, but just warn that this is one we should keep an eye on.

Since his inauguration, Trump has been stacking the courts with ultra-conservative candidates.  As of November 14, 2019, the United States Senate has confirmed 162 Article III judges nominated by President Trump, including 2 Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, 46 judges for the United States Courts of Appeals, 112 judges for the United States District Courts, and 2 judges for the United States Court of International Trade.  Only a relative handful have been rejected by the Senate, or are on hold pending further consideration.

The U.S. Constitution calls for a separation of powers between the three branches of federal government, it calls for a system of checks and balances to ensure no one branch oversteps its bounds, and it calls for the Judiciary Branch to be non-partisan and independent of the other two branches.  More and more, that independence seems to be slipping away, just as do the separation of powers and the checks and balances.  There are enough boot-lickers in both branches of Congress to ensure that almost no legislation is enacted … and now, it appears there may be enough in the judiciary to ultimately ensure that Trump will, indeed, always be above the law.

Funny, isn’t it, how Mitch McConnell blocked so many of President Obama’s nominees, the most notable being the nomination of Merrick Garland to fill the shoes of the late Antonin Scalia?  Ah well, I guess if you’re rich and powerful, you don’t need to be fair and just, but can make your own rules, eh?

Public Impeachment Inquiry Begins-Will America Care?

Tomorrow begins the public phase of the impeachment process and it will be widely televised. But, will anybody be watching? Our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters ponders this, and his words are astute and well worth sharing. Thank you, Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

Starting this Wednesday, November 13, 2019, the public portion of the impeachment inquiry of President Trump will begin. Will the American people care?

It’s an open question.

For a while, I wondered whether the major networks were going to cover the hearings. Much to my surprise, they indeed will be covering the event. Scheduled to appear Wednesday are Ambassador William Taylor and Deputy Assistant for European Affairs George Kent. ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS will preempt regularly scheduled programming for live coverage. It was music to my ears.

I knew for sure that the major cable news networks and CSPAN would be covering the hearings, but now that the major networks are in the fray, there are no excuses for the American people. If you want to watch the proceedings, you can do so in multiple ways. If you can’t watch them live, you can undoubtedly tape them, or watch…

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separation of church and state

Separation of church and state … a simple concept, right? The government will not support one religion over any other. And yet, as Larry tells us, down in Florida (and other places as well) they are attempting to do just that, by trying to pass legislation that would make the study of the Christian bible mandatory in schools. What about Jews? Muslims? Atheists? Hindus? This nation is only about 70% Christian, so … why should they dominate? Please take a few minutes to read Larry’s excellent post. Thank you, Larry, for permission to share your work!

QUEST

Living as a Democrat in rural, Republican Florida challenges one’s sense of inclusiveness and social propriety.  A recent controversy in local politics regarding funding our library’s request to make the New York Times available online to library cardholders is a case in point. My friend at BY HOOK OR BY BOOK has shared a great post regarding this issue.  It is indicative of a population which refuses to leave the 1950s.

On Florida’s horizon is a bill filed by a State Senator which would require courses be made available in our public schools at taxpayers’ expense providing studies of the Bible.  The following is the letter which I have submitted to our local newspaper.

State Senator Dennis Baxley, a Republican representing the Ocala region, has filed SB 746 to be considered during the 2020 legislative session. The bill would require courses providing studies of the Bible’s Old and New Testaments…

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