Monday, April 29, 2019

Hate rising.

Image result for charlottesville imagesOnce again, thanks to a president who sends dog whistles to his white nationalist base, America is seeing a rise in hate crimes, and lunatics who are being emboldened to slaughter innocent people in their houses of worship. 

It happened again this past Saturday, and I suspect that it will happen again soon. 

When the leader of our country chooses to find a moral equivalency between Nazis and the people protesting them, we might just have a problem.

Here is Will Bunch's take on our current state of affairs. 

"Violent white nationalism had a horrible, horrible moment in America on Saturday.

That was punctuated on a sun-soaked morning in Southern California when the pop-pop-pop of an AR-15 semiautomatic in the hands of a 19-year-old, barely a man shattered the peace of a Passover service at a synagogue in Poway, Calif., near San Diego. A 60-year-old woman named Lori Gilbert Kaye was killed by the gunfire as she jumped in front of her congregation’s rabbi, who’d already had a couple fingers blown off by a bullet. Two others were wounded – all in service of the gunman’s insane rants that the Jewish people have been scheming to boost immigration to replace whites in America.

It was the exact same white-supremacist baloney that caused another man with an AR-15 to slaughter 11 Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue exactly six months earlier to the day. And there were more storm clouds on the horizon. In a popular Washington bookstore, at virtually the same time as the latest synagogue shooting occurred, a crowd of so-called “white identitarians” with a bullhorn showed up to disrupt the author of a book on racial resentment called Dying of Whiteness, chanting “this land is our land.”

It would be hard to imagine a worse time to take a man who’d just been arrested two months ago with a giant cache of weapons and ammunition, whom authorities call a self-proclaimed white nationalist with an alleged hit list that included Supreme Court justices, Democratic politicians and TV journalists – and grant him freedom, even temporarily.

But Christopher Hasson, a 50-year-old Maryland man who was a high-ranking U.S. Coast Guard officer with a security clearance, may walk out of jail in a few days, maybe less. A federal judge said he can’t justify Hasson’s continued imprisonment because – despite his seeming terroristic threats – the U.S. Justice Department has only seen fit to charge him with low-level drug and weapons charges. This after the government had refused to even publicize Hasson’s arrest, which instead was stumbled upon by an enterprising journalist.

Experts say, to some extent, prosecutors are hamstrung by a criminal code that despite a so-called war on terror created no statutes to specifically address the specific terror threat posed by Hasson – motivated by white supremacy and stockpiling the kind of conventional weapons blessed by the National Rifle Association.

That may be true, but let’s be honest: The failure of AG Bill Barr’s Justice Department to move heaven and earth to keep Hasson in custody or even issue a press release alerting the public is symbolic of a giant blind spot in our nation’s capital when it comes to the deadly threat posed by white supremacy. And that giant buck stops at the desk of President Trump. Although U.S. policy on white homegrown terror has been abysmal since the turn of this century, this president – with his vainglorious refusal to admit that an immoral strain of white nationalism helped elect him in 2016 – and his administration are making the problem much, much worse.

Trump has repeatedly made clear his opinion that violent white extremism is not a problem in his America. When an Australian man poisoned by the same kind of internet extremism that’s fueled the U.S. synagogue shootings murdered 50 worshipers in a New Zealand mosque, with words of praise for Trump in his manifesto, reporters asked the president about the wider threat.

I don’t think it’s a problem,” insisted the man who also still stands by his claim that 2017′s violence-sparking, white-supremacist march in Charlottesville had “very fine people on both sides." Trump added: " I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems."

Except that terror attacks by far-right extremists more than quadrupled in the year that Trump became president, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies. That dramatized the fact that after spending billions on a vast infrastructure that primarily targeted Islamic extremism, the much greater threat in this country has a white face. Some of 71 percent of murders by political extremists in America from 2008 through 2017 were by right-wingers, according to the Anti-Defamation League (and 26 percent by Islamists) – and that imbalance seems to be increasing.
Trump’s see-no-evilism about white violence would be worrisome if just for the moral symbolism – but the blind spot has spread to actual policy. Some of this predates the current president – a 2009 government report calling for stepped-up measures on right-wing terror was famously shelved after howls from talk radio and other conservatives –but under Trump, the government has gone much further to avoid the problem.

George Selim, a former Homeland Security and National Security Council staffer under both Democratic and Republican presidents, said the government office most directly targeting domestic terrorism has seen its budget decimated under Trump, down from $21 million to just $3 million, and its staff reduced by more than half. Earlier this month, the Daily Beast reported that an entire unit of DHS intelligence analysts who tracked would-be domestic terrorists, which used to often issue warnings to local police, was quietly disbanded. Critics note the government isn’t even keeping stats on the right-wing attacks, leaving that task for outside groups.

It seems that Team Trump has zero interest in either poking a stick in the eye of the president’s most despicable yet also most enthusiastic supporters, nor would the 45th president’s ego ever allow the acknowledgement that it was a terroristic, hateful fringe that played an important and possibly decisive role in his razor-thin 2016 election.

The truly abominable thing is that white-nationalist terror isn’t the only area where Trump and his government is looking the other way – part because of our narcissistic president’s over-the-top vanity and in part because things that threaten American democracy often seem to be good news for the current occupant of the Oval Office. Consider the Russian election interference that – according to the Mueller report – played a critical role in 2016 and seems to remain a threat for next year’s presidential contest.

When she was Homeland Security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen reportedly concluded that facing down new and different kinds of Russian election threats in 2020 was a major challenge that needed much greater government attention. But, according to the New York Times, Nielsen was ordered to keep that information away from Trump and his fury over any suggestion his 2016 win was less than legitimate. Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney reportedly told her it “wasn’t a great subject and should be kept below his [Trump’s] level.”

Seriously? It’s hard to imagine a greater threat to American democracy and freedom than foreign election interference and computer crimes – until you start pondering the growing white-nationalist movement in this country, and the diminished ability of people to buy a book or get on their knees and pray without fear of harassment or deadly violence.

A true democratic government would be working overtime right now to protect our synagogues, churches and mosques, our bookstores, and our ballot boxes from these insidious threats. Indeed, the grown-ups in Congress should try to pass legislation that will restore funding to the agencies that track domestic terror, require real-time reporting on the threat, and improve our terror laws so an imminent danger like Christopher Hasson can be taken off the streets.

But doing what needs to done will be very, very hard when an egomaniacal autocrat sits behind the Resolute Desk with his tiny hands clasped firmly over his ears – determined to muffle any ideas that might tarnish his legacy, let alone jeopardize the second term he needs to cement his authoritarian legacy ... and maybe keep him out of jail. America wakes up on a grim Sunday morning to the realization that we’re fighting a war against hate with a yawning black hole at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue where its commander is supposed to be. [Source]

*Pic from progressive.org

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Caption Saturday.

  • Melania Trump's Birthday Card from the White House Turns Into Viral Internet Meme
I need a caption for this pic.  

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Sickos.

I'm going to post something and just leave it right there for your comments.

 "Three Pennsylvania men who sexually assaulted more than a dozen animals over a five-year period will spend up to 41 years in prison, according to Local 10 news.

The three animal “lovers,” identified as Matthew Brubaker, 31; Marc Measnikoff, 34, and Terry Wallace, 41, were sentenced to 20 to 41 years for forcing themselves on a cow, a goat, nine horses and an unspecified number of dogs. A teenage boy was allegedly tasked with restraining the animals while the twisted trio committed their bizarre crimes.

The horses that were assaulted by the men were all females, according to local station WTAJ, which also reported the animals were places in the care of Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals."

Now here is the kicker: Apparently the men were leaving a trump rally.

You will note that the animals were all females. These men did not want to get on Franklin Graham's bad side. :) 

America, what have you become?

* (Photo Credit: Clearfield County District Attorney’s Office)

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Some fishy things in the swamp.

TWEET ME"Here they go again.

Attorney General William Barr is already under fire for his March letter to Congress, which reported the results of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation in a way many feel was mostly beneficial to President Donald Trump.

Now, Democrats are taking aim at Barr’s recent congressional testimony in which he slipped in his opinion that federal law enforcement officials may have “spied” on his boss’ successful presidential run.

But if that wasn’t enough, some experts argue that Barr’s previous work in the private sector could conflict with his continuing supervision of the investigation into Russian tampering in the 2016 election campaign.

Why? A few of Barr’s previous employers are connected to key subjects in the probe. And some argue that, even if Barr didn’t break any rules, his financial ties to companies linked to aspects of the Russia investigation raise questions about whether he should—like his predecessor, Jeff Sessions—recuse himself.

“The legal standard is really clear about these issues. It’s not about actual conflict, it’s about the appearance of a conflict, about the appearance of bias,” Jed Shugerman, a professor at Fordham University’s School of Law and an expert on judicial and government ethics, tells Newsweek . “The problem is that we have so many flagrant conflicts that are so obvious, we get distracted from what the legal standard is.”

This much is known: On Barr’s public financial disclosure report, he admits to working for a law firm that represented Russia’s Alfa Bank and for a company whose co-founders allegedly have long-standing business ties to Russia. What’s more, he received dividends from Vector Group, a holding company with deep financial ties to Russia.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Caption Sunday.

  • White House releases photos of Trump, Rush Limbaugh playing golf 
I need a caption for this pic.

*Pic from bingnews.com

Friday, April 19, 2019

No Mr. President, you are not "f-cked", not yet.

  • Image result for trump images crazy
“Oh my God. This is the terrible.” This is the end of my Presidency. I’m f-cked.”

That was Donald trump after learning that Robert Mueller was being appointed to look into the various nefarious acts committed by his administration.

 Thursday we learned, thanks to the release of a redacted version of the Mueller Report, that Mr. trump is not as "f-cked" as he thinks. This is because the man appointed to be his AG, William Barr, (who lobbied for the job to protect him from prosecution) decided that he would act more like the president's personal attorney than a man who is supposed to be the highest law enforcement official in the country serving the American people.

Mr. Mueller had a lot to say about the trump crime cabal, and what we saw of the report revealed that the folks in trump's circle (including Sarah Saunders) lied to the American people over and over again. It also showed us that there were in fact attempts to collude with Russians, but that they were just not successful at it.  Throw in the ten instances of obstruction by the president, and him telling those around him to lie to protect the various cover ups ("The president's efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the president declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests), and you have to wonder who in their rightful mind does not believe that Mr. trump should be removed from office.

"I am sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the President," 

That's a quote from Mitt Romney, a republican Senator. Just imagine who the rest of us feel. It's particular disgusting because the release of the (redacted) Mueller Report will not change the mind of one single trumpnut who have thrown all their chips behind their own version of Jim Jones. 

I was on the fence about this, but now I don't think that the democrats in Congress have a choice but to call for the impeachment of Mr. trump. The democratic leadership is making a political calculation not to pursue impeachment, but they might be making a huge mistake. Nobody likes a coward, and trump is smelling himself now because impeachment is off the table. 

The senate won't vote to remove trump because of all the republican Senators who are afraid of being primaried. But we (the American people) need to put their vote on the record so that history will be able to judge each and everyone one of them accordingly. 

You know how for a couple of years you’ve been thinking, ‘There’s probably bad stuff in the Mueller report that makes Donald Trump look terrible?’” the Late Show host asked. “But then three weeks ago, Attorney General Bill Barr put out his four-page valentine to Donald Trump, and then you thought, ‘Maybe I’m crazy?’ Well, if you just returned to this dimension from the phantom zone, today the Mueller report was released. And I’m here to tell you, you’re not crazy.”  ~Colbert~

Sometimes comics say it best. 

Pic from trofire.com

   

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Those other tragic church fires.

I  previously asked this question on Twitter, because it's something that was really puzzling to me:

Why were Americans so distraught over the fire that consumed the Notre Dame Cathedral? I actually saw people in tears as they watched the fire destroy some of the historic structure.

Now I get it, the building has a lot of historical significance, it's Holy Week, and it is a great landmark in a beautiful city. But does that justify our collective grief and shock after watching the structure burn in real time?

I guess I am asking all these questions because just a few days earlier the man who burned at least three African American churches in Louisiana was caught, and there was the sound of crickets all over the country. In fact, I suspect that many Americans did not even know that this happened.

To me, the intentional burning of historical African American churches in the South is as troubling (if not more) than the accidental burning of a historical church in the city of Paris. 

Mr.trump has made numerous statements (as well as tweets) about the Notre Dame Cathedral, and he has offered to help to rebuild it from his own personal funds. He even offered his condolences to the Pope for crying out loud. The idiot in chief also gave tips on how to put out the fire, and Parisians quickly derided his foolhardy ideas. But I digress. Vice President Pence has chimed in as well, and there has already been millions of dollars raised to rebuild the grand structure. 

I am still waiting for the president to say something about those black churches in Louisiana and the poor congregants of those churches who have suffered the loss of something that is so important in their lives. These are our fellow Americans, and yet, other than a social media go fund me campaigns, there has been no collective will to raise money or help to rebuild these churches. (Although as of me writing this post, there has been a spike in contributions to help these parishioners rebuild their houses of worship.)

We could take it a step further, and point to the lack of funds being made available for the people of places like Puerto Rico and Flint, to understand just how over the top the response has been to the Notre Dame fire.

This is what Arthur Goldhammer writing in The Nation had to say:

 "And yet, when I saw the live images of Notre Dame ablaze, what mattered was not anything I knew about the cathedral in my head but what I felt, along with millions of others around the world, surely including that Chinese couple, in my heart—namely, grief. It seemed so incongruous. Grief is what we feel when the ephemeral meets its appointed fate, but Notre Dame had always seemed the opposite of ephemeral. Notre Dame, even if it had not always been there, seemed to be rooted permanently in its place in the very center of Paris, on the √éle de la Cit√©, where the Romans had first made camp in what they would come to call Lutetia. 

Tourists made it a destination, but for me, a sometime Paris resident, Notre Dame was not a destination but a familiar presence—familiar enough that I could take it for granted, even if occasionally, when the spirit moved, I would drop in to experience, among the multitudes with their cameras and Michelin guides, the magnitude of the achievement, the windows, the carvings, the rood screen and altarpiece, and the side chapels with their painted masterpieces and their flickering votive candles offering a rough-and-ready popularity poll of the various saints and their relative healing powers. I liked to sit there, far from the few actual worshipers (since I am the opposite of a believer and was loath to interfere with whatever transactions they were conducting with their Maker), contemplating rather the many makers of the building itself: the masons, wood carvers, glass and metal workers, hoist operators, carpenters, and framers—a veritable epitome of the forces of production, as it were, of an era whose material challenges we can scarcely imagine in our age of facile mechanical reproduction."

Yeah, but didn't God say something about not worshiping graven images? 

Maybe God is trying to tell us something: Read Matthew 25:40.

Pic from Leslie Westbrook for The Advocate and AP.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Musings.

TWEET MEI have a few things on my mind.

So Tiger won the Masters yesterday, and America was euphoric. What he did was amazing, and he should be celebrated for playing a very difficult sport and being the best that ever did it. But I am sorry, I am not a fan of Tiger Woods the person. I am not and have never been on the Tiger bandwagon. I think that that he is a bad human being.

 Still, I can appreciate his game without appreciating who he is as a person.

Speaking of bad people, Laura Ingraham of FOX News is a truly despicable human being. I mean it takes a special kind of asshole to laugh and make fun of a fellow human being's funeral.

 I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, because she made fun of Parkland survivor David Hogg not getting into the college of his choice.

I am sure that FOX won't do the right thing and fire her,because she fits right into the culture that they have over there.

Today is tax day in America, and the president of the United States is still refusing to release his taxes for the American people to see. He lied and told us that he would release them after elections,  and that as soon as he was no longer being "audited" he would release them. It turns out that him being audited does not prevent him from releasing his returns, and he has vowed to go to the Supreme Court to prevent us from seeing what kind of financial schemes he has to hide. Hell he is even trying to make the argument now that he is being audited because he is a Christian. 

One of the co-equal branchs of government known as congress, is now requesting to see his returns, and the IRS Commissioner has a legal obligation to release the returns to them for oversight purposes. The president is not above the law, no matter what he thinks. 

Finally, a redacted version of the Mueller Report will be released on Thursday, and we know that it cannot be all peaches and cream for trump and his coterie, because he is once again trying to discredit law enforcement officials ("they were dirty cops") and the Mueller team.

I suspect that on Thursday Mr. trump will try to hijack the news cycle to drown out the news that will follow the releasing of the report.

Hold on for the ride America, there is no telling what the lunatic in chief will say or do this time.