Saturday, September 24, 2022

"The paradox that defines this moment."


As democracy takes its last dying breath here in America, articles like the following from author David Graham, writing for The Atlantic, must be shared whenever possible. 

Sadly, fifty percent of the people in the country could care less.  Some, because of partisan tribalism. Some, because the people putting our democracy in danger looks like them (see racism), and some, because...well...they are just typical Americans, and they can't see past the next sound bite (or the latest trend or gadget) to feed into their own selfish desires and immediate needs. 

Article: 

"The good news is that President Donald Trump’s attempts to defy the results of the election and remain in office keep falling flat. In court after court, judges have ruled against the Trump campaign and tossed out its lawsuits. Today, Georgia certified Democrat Joe Biden as the winner of the state’s presidential electors, after a federal judge yesterday rejected a prominent conservative lawyer’s suit seeking to block certification.

The bad news is that as Trump’s chances grow dimmer and deadlines near, his attempts to steal the election and subvert democracy have become more dangerous. This is the paradox that defines this moment: As Trump’s odds of success decrease, the risks that his ever more extreme efforts pose are increasing.

In the first hours and days after the polls closed, the president argued that if all the legal votes were counted, he would win. Now he has moved to trying to have votes thrown out—asking state legislators or courts to just ignore the balloting altogether, flout the will of voters, and simply make him president. Incredibly, he and his aides have not even bothered to offer some other pretense. They are now openly explaining, in media accounts (albeit anonymously) and in court filings, that the point is to disregard voters’ wishes.

“President Donald Trump’s strategy for retaining power despite losing the U.S. election is focused increasingly on persuading Republican legislators to intervene on his behalf in battleground states Democrat Joe Biden won, three people familiar with the effort said,” Reuters reported Thursday. “A senior Trump campaign official told Reuters its plan is to cast enough doubt on vote-counting in big, Democratic cities that Republican lawmakers will have little choice but to intercede.”

As usual, Trump is doing all this in plain sight. He summoned the Republican leaders of the Michigan state House and Senate to the White House today for a meeting. Both men, though allies of Trump, have publicly rejected the idea of legislators throwing out the vote and selecting a slate of electors, and legal experts agree that state law precludes the move—though it will be interesting to see what the leaders say after their meeting.

Earlier this week, Republican members of a board of canvassing in Wayne County, which includes Detroit, threatened not to certify the election over minor discrepancies, then reversed themselves. Trump then reportedly called one of the two Republicans, who tried (unsuccessfully) to reverse their reversal. They insist the president did not pressure them. Meanwhile, Trump’s legal team is trying to achieve the same result by slightly different means in Pennsylvania, asking a court to throw out the vote and declare the president the winner.

A bizarre press conference yesterday at the Republican National Committee headquarters showed how chimerical the president’s legal case is. Rudy Giuliani harangued the press for not reporting that he has evidence of fraud, then refused to share the evidence with reporters. (Sidney Powell, another attorney, wouldn’t even share the supposed proof with friendly TV host Tucker Carlson, presumably because it doesn’t exist.) The lawyers offered a farrago of conspiracy theories—mysterious truckloads of votes arriving at counting centers, poll workers being instructed to ignore rules, shadowy foreign voting-machine companies futzing with the count to hand the election to Biden.

These ideas have all been comprehensively debunked, but they also make no logical sense, whether taken together or individually. Why would Democrats bother stuffing the ballot boxes with paper ballots if they could just change the totals later? Why would they bother fixing the presidential election while allowing Republicans to have a great night in House, Senate, and other down-ballot races? (The Pennsylvania suit asks that the presidential result be thrown out but has no problem with the commonwealth certifying all the other results that depend on the same ballots.) Why did Trump improve his performance relative to 2016 in the cities where fraud allegedly took place, even while losing ground in suburban counties where his campaign isn’t disputing the tallies?

In another case, Trump lawyers argued that the Michigan results are invalid because the number of votes cast exceeds the number of voters in the precinct. But as the Trump-friendly Powerline notes, the lawyers appear to have confused Michigan and Minnesota precincts.

The Trump campaign’s initial strategy this month was to contend that some votes that were cast by mail should not have legally been allowed. This argument lacked grounding in law and sought to disenfranchise citizens who had followed the rules in casting their votes, but at least it offered some consistency and logic about which votes shouldn’t be counted. Since that failed, the president is now simply insisting without evidence that there is fraud and hoping that judges or legislators will toss the results wholesale in certain counties or states.

The Trump team’s tenuous claims would be laughable were they not so dangerous. First, there is always the outside chance that some enterprising legislators might actually try to discard votes, which would be a miscarriage of democracy. Second, the flimsiness of the claims is probably irrelevant. Polling suggests that huge portions of Republicans believe the election was rigged, and no number of debunkings is likely to convince them otherwise—this is motivated partisan reasoning, not thoughtful analysis. Besides, once the president has decided to place all his chips on simply circumventing the will of the voters, the strength of his argument no longer matters. What is important is brute strength. Luckily, he doesn’t seem to have it.

Nonetheless, most Republicans remain distressingly slow to challenge Trump’s claims. Early on, GOP lawmakers contended (anonymously, of course) that there was little harm in letting Trump throw his tantrum, since it would come to naught. This was a bad argument then, and it has not improved with age. As the president’s claims get more and more far-fetched, and his attempt to steal the election grows more overt, most Republicans are still remaining on the sidelines.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appears to have concluded that Trump’s strategy probably won’t work, but that if it does, that’s fine. The few exceptions include the usual suspects, including Senators Mitt Romney and Ben Sasse. Other Republicans have tried to have it both ways, declining to condemn Trump or call Biden the president-elect, but also saying the administration should allow the transition to proceed, just in case. None of this rises to the challenge of the moment. Former President Barack Obama seems to have it right when he says these officials are going along with the subversion “not because they actually believe it, but because they feel intimidated by it.”

Although Trump is deeply unlikely to succeed in his attempted theft, he’s revealing weaknesses and softening up the system for a future authoritarian, who, as Zeynep Tufekci has written, is unlikely to be as bumbling as he is. Defeating Trump in an election was a straightforward enough task, and defeating him in court has proved even easier. But if he succeeds in undermining the system badly enough, it will mean that defeat at the polls just won’t matter next time." [Source]

The author is more optimistic than I am.  Yes, tfg's efforts are "falling flat" for now. But for how long? His rabid base and cult like followers are still out there. And now, thanks to being under the umbrella of a major political party, they have hijacked the halls of power. 

All we can do now is wait for the inevitable.   


Saturday, September 10, 2022

Above the law?

 


The thing you have to understand about the legal system in America is this: Yes, it's fundamentally a fair system, and it probably has no equal anywhere else in the world. But sadly, we have to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge its flaws. 

We tend to selectively prosecute for certain crimes in this country. Often who gets prosecuted will depend on their wealth, level of influence, and their social connections and political clout in their community.  

I think you all know where I am going with this. 

There is a fellow down in South Florida who lives in a very large estate, and who used to have a game show on television. This fellow should probably have been indicted for some very serious crimes by now. Honestly, after all we have seen and heard over the past few weeks, most of us of sound mind are wondering why the former game show host has not been charged and arrested. 

I agree with Glenn Kirschner. 

"Ex-prosecutor Glenn Kirschner said Trump should be arrested "promptly" in light of the Mar-a-Lago search.

The FBI recovered dozens of empty folders marked confidential or containing instructions to return the contents to an aide.

"Did he sell them to America's adversaries? Did he use them to blackmail people?" Kirschner asked.

In the probe, investigators recovered nearly 100 empty folders, according to a detailed inventory unsealed and released by the Justice Department. It's unclear where the contents of each empty folder are.

Kirschner, speaking in an episode of his YouTube channel, questioned whether Trump might have sold or given away some of those classified government documents. 

'The most reasonable inference is that Donald Trump disposed of those classified documents after unlawfully taking them from the White House," Kirschner said. "To what purpose did he put them? Did he sell them to America's adversaries? Did he use them to blackmail people? Did he use them to leverage a favorable business deal in some country or another? We don't know yet.'"

True, we don't know all the details yet. But we know enough to know that the former game show host broke the law. And if he was just a another "normal" citizen like most of us, he would be talking to his lawyers about the best way to stay out of prison for a long time. 

This is what a former federal employee, James Turnage, wrote about the theft of classified docs: 

"The removal of secret documents from the protection of the United States federal government is a crime punishable by fines and imprisonment. Trump stole 15 boxes of documents when he was removed from the White House, many of which were classified. This author was a federal employee for about two years and was told that if anyone violated the oaths of office, they could receive a punishment that could include a 25,000 dollar fine and 10 years in federal prison.

This author asks Trump supporters included, “if anyone violates federal law, should he or she be allowed to run for office?” Many believe that Trump’s theft of classified documents combined with his close relationship with Vladimir Putin should be treason.

How many times will this government, most importantly the Department of Justice, allow Trump to commit acts of sedition and irrefutable treason before he is tried for the ultimate crime against this nation?

On Friday, it was confirmed that the 15 boxes of federal documents stolen by Trump, and recovered in Mar-a-Lago, contained multiple documents containing national secrets. If this had been discovered as an act by anyone other than a disgraced former president, this individual would have been charged with the highest crime against the United States of America."

No one should be above the law, but this is America, and old habits are hard to break.  



  

  

Monday, August 29, 2022

Lindsey's bold prediction.

 


Lindsey Graham did a very bad thing when he went on FOX VIEWS, and then announced to the world that if criminal charges are filed against tfg there will be riots in the streets. This might be tfg's best strategy to prevent being charged: Threaten violence from the MAGA crowd if the DOJ does their job.  And seriously,  how does one get away with saying things such as this when one is a United States Senator? Am I missing something? 

What's scary is that the main stream media will let this pass. And they won't make a thing of it because the right- wing political class in this country has gotten so over the top that this type of rhetoric just seems to be par for the course with them. 

A United States Senator threatening "riots in the street" if the Justice Department does their job is kind of  a big deal, but you would never know it by the way this story has been covered. This is a signal from Lindsey to all the "deplorable MAGA fascists out there to take to the streets in defense of their dear leader. This is happening while said leader is demanding to be be reinstated as president. And you wonder why Joe Biden is throwing the F word around when making a reference to this guy's people is such a big deal. It really shouldn't be, because he is speaking facts. 

As Americans, we don't want to hear the ugly truth about our fellow citizens. It says something about us and this experiment that we chose to buy into, and it's not good. 

‘What happens if you have state changes the law saying that the children who are LGBTQ can’t be in classrooms with other children? Is that is that legit under the way this decision is written?’ said Biden, before referring to Trump’s Make America Great Again group.

‘What are the next things that are going to be attack? Because this MAGA crowd is really the most extreme political organization that’s existed in American history. Recent "

Stay tuned. A certain Senator from South Carolina is predicting bad things.   

*Pic from yahoonews





 

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Movie caption Saturday.

 


What is the title of this movie? 

Bonus points if it features Jim Carrey. 

Friday, August 12, 2022

Donald Capone.

 


Woo chile!  tfg is a whole mess. Lord have mercy! Imagine what it would take to have the feds search the home of a former president.  Believe me when I tell you field hands, that warrant to search tfg's gaudy (and very tacky) compound was rock solid, and there was absolutely probable cause for the feds to go looking. Now we are hearing that some of those docs that tfg sticky fingered out of the White House might have had nuclear implications. Pray church! 

But let me say this to the folks in MAGA land. Imagine, for a minute, that this was a guy named Barrack Obama and not your dear leader acting like Al Capone while playing president of the United States. All of your heads would be exploding, and you would be chanting "lock him up" like you were when you had your sights set on Hillary Clinton.  Honestly folks,  you might want to start reading all the material you can find about cults. 

Of course this story is full of ironies. tfg himself signed a law increasing the penalty for mishandling classified documents when he was president. I am quite sure that he never in a million years thought that he would be in this position, because in his delusional mind he really believes that laws do not apply to him.  

Yesterday he listened to his lawyers for once and pled the Fifth numerous times while sitting for a deposition before the New York AG. (He pled the Fifth over four hundred times for crying out loud!)  It's his right to do that, but man it sure doesn't look good. This is one of at least two other probes looking into the shady practices and criminal acts of tfg. I honestly don't know how he sleeps at night with all that legal jeopardy hanging over his head. Truly mob like.

I just find it hard to believe that folks are still supporting this guy. He is raising money off of his latest legal troubles and the poor folks in MAGA land are sending him their hard earned dollars to pay his legal fees. I suppose being a white supremacist president has its privileges. 

Speaking of lawyers, I am quite sure that tfg's lawyers are in deep conversation now trying to figure out how to respond to the DOJ's request to unseal the search warrant to tfg's home. Merrick Garland is calling tfg''s bluff, and he is daring him to let the American people see the warrant. This should be fun to watch. Let's see how his minions in the political class respond to this.

Anyway, now the right- wing lunatics are calling for a civil war, and one of them decided to have his Morris Island moment today. Needless to say it didn't end well.  By all accounts he was a devoted fan of tfg, and he was outraged that the government would have the nerve to search his dear leader's home. Imagine being willing to die for tfg. A man who cares about only one thing: Himself.  

“The mob takes the Fifth Amendment,...f you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”

I know, right? 


 

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Say what?!

 


When I check out I want to be have my ashes spread over the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Falmouth, Jamaica.  I want a very small gathering, and very short goodbyes. 

Something about being buried in the ground just doesn't sit right with me. What if, for instance, there is some kind of life after death experience, and I wake up in a coffin six feet under? I have serious claustrophobia issues, and the thought of...lord I can't even think about it. 

So why I am I talking about how one chooses to be sent off after they say farewell to this life? Well, as you all might have heard by now, tfg's ex recently met an unfortunate end when she fell down a flight of stairs and said goodbye to this life. It was a weird way for her to go out, and needless to say some folks still have some questions. But the place her ex husband chose to bury her... Lord have mercy!    

Read what Matt Prigge had to say about the whole thing: 

"Donald Trump has a lot going on right now, but he’s somehow found the time to draw attention to one part of his empire in particular: his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. The former president has drawn fire from families of 9/11 victims for hosting a (sparsely attended) Saudi golf tournament at his NYC-adjacent course. But there’s more: When he buried his late ex-wife Ivana near the course’s first hole, he may have done so for tax break purposes.2022

As caught by The Daily Mail, Dartmouth sociology professor Brooke Harrington suspected something was up when Trump buried his first wife on one of his golf courses. So she did some snooping, and she discovered that in Jersey, there is no minimum number of bodies required for a plot of land to be designated a cemetery…and therefore be exempt from all taxes, rates, and assessments.

What’s more, tax documents reveal that the Trump Family Trust recently sought to designate a property only 20 miles from the golf club, in Hackettstown, to become a non-profit cemetery company.

So, did self-professed rich guy really use his late ex-wife’s death to save some money? He of course hasn’t addressed the matter. But as per Insider, he’s tried to turn his golf club into a makeshift cemetery before:"

No words. I mean this is beyond tacky even for the tfg. I have no feelings about Ivana one way or the other, but I know she deserved more than this. I mean, who wants to be buried on the first tee of a golf course? Hell Tiger Woods won't want to be buried on a damn golf course, and he made a billion dollars off the sport. 

I will never play Bedminster, but for those of you who do, please say a little prayer for tfg's ex buried below your tee box before you launch one down the fairway. 


Pic from bing.com news. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Feeling the heat.


With all due respect to Nelly, it's already "HOT in herr". WTF is happening to our planet? It was 114 degrees in some parts of the West. One hundred and fourteen degrees! Let that sink in for a minute. Even Denver, the Mile High City, hit 100 degrees. That is not normal, people. 

I wonder if all those right- wingnuts and climate deniers who have been screaming hoax from the mountain- top still believe that this is the hill they want to die on.  And of course they will reappear in the comments after this post to give us all the usual talking points: This is just history taking its natural course. There is no consensus among scientists that climate change is real, Plants and animals can and will adapt. And of course the kicker: Climate change is good for us.   

All I can say is thank the good lord above for air conditioning. If I had known then what I know now, I would have gone to HVAC school and gotten my HVAC certs instead of law school. The guy with one of the largest homes in my neighborhood owns his own HVAC company. God bless him. But I digress. 

Over in the UK, those poor Brits are having a time of it. They weren't built for this kind of heat, and it shows. There were fires breaking out all over London today, and the poor folks were losing their minds. Today was the hottest day recorded in their history.   The ancestors are getting their revenge for all those tropical countries they colonized. Sorry, I couldn't resist that one. 

Look, I'm no scientist, but this feels different. I wish it wasn't so, but I am afraid that it might be too late to save the planet. We should have collectively focused our energy on saving the planet years ago, but instead, we listened to the right-wingnuts and played politics with our survival. 

To my friends in Texas, I hope the power grid holds up. If it doesn't, your senator will just run away to a cooler place, and your governor will blame something [or someone else], while he continues to take  money from the big power companies down there. 

Stay cool field hands, and enjoy the planet while you can.  



Sunday, July 10, 2022

Caption Sunday.

 


What's the name of this movie?  

Sunday, July 03, 2022

Hold the fireworks.

 



I regret to announce that the 4th of July will be canceled this year as the American experiment has been hijacked by Christofascist forces. 

Maybe next year.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

More guns.


As the Supremes continue to take America closer to being a Christofascist state, it is important to read articles like the following from Tom Nichols ----writing for The Atlantic, to get a grasp of where we are heading as a country. I am afraid this trend will continue for awhile, because these Justices are still relatively young, and they have lifetime appointments. 

Just remember to vote next time. Elections have consequences. 

"I used to think of myself as a gun-control conservative—I supported both the right to own firearms and the interest of the state to limit that right—but America’s gun culture isn’t about rights. It’s about performative insecurity.

Back in 1959, the country singer Marty Robbins wrote a ballad about a murderous outlaw who met his well-deserved end at the hands of a handsome young Arizona Ranger who was carrying the “Big Iron on his hip.” (The song was supposedly inspired by a weapon Robbins saw in a shop, but there is some question about whether the Big Iron was a real gun.)

It’s a great song. But it wasn’t supposed to be a guide to life in modern America.

I don’t have the energy or expertise to debate whether the Supreme Court should have taken on the case of a New York State law that limited the ability to carry weapons around in public. Honestly, I just assume that many declines in the quality of American life for the foreseeable future will be announced with “In a 6–3 decision …” Elections have consequences, and with the current composition of the Court, this decision was inevitable.

The problem is not the Court’s decision. The problem is an adolescent, drama-laden gun culture, a romance with weapons that became extreme only in the past quarter century.

It didn’t used to be this way. I grew up around guns; my father had been a police officer, and we had two of them. My older half-brother, who lived a few streets away, was a police officer. Our next-door neighbor was a police officer. My hometown was a military town, and almost all of the men I knew were veterans who owned weapons and knew how to handle them. (There were some female veterans too. My mother, for one.)

What I remember about guns is that I remember almost nothing about guns. People owned them; they didn’t talk about them. They didn’t cover their cars in bumper stickers about them, they didn’t fly flags about them, they didn’t pose for dumb pictures with them. (I’ll plead one personal exemption: When I was a little boy, relatives in Greece once posed me in a Greek Evzone-soldier costume with my uncle’s hunting shotgun. I could barely lift it.)

Today, there is a neediness in the gun culture that speaks to deep insecurities among a certain kind of American citizen. The gun owners I knew—cops, veterans, hunters, sportsmen—owned guns as part of their life, sometimes as tools, sometimes for recreation. Gun ownership was not the central and defining feature of their life.

Don’t take my word for it that things have changed. Here’s Ryan Busse, a former gun-company executive who has now taken on his former industry, talking about the day someone showed up to a hunting party with an AR-15:

The unwritten rules of decency were enforced by firearm-industry leaders … I witnessed how this worked many times, including one occasion when a young writer brought his own AR-15 to a hunting event I was hosting in 2004. The senior figures there responded immediately. “That’s not the kind of thing we want to be promoting,” they said. The newcomer was shamed into locking the gun up for the rest of the event.

This kind of affirmation of cultural norms can be a lot more powerful than any law, and I suspect that the gun-culture extremists know it. They head off expressions of this kind of social disapproval by being aggressive and performative, daring anyone to criticize them for feeling the need to be armed while getting milk and eggs at the supermarket.

I have always trusted my fellow citizens with weapons. Now the most vocal advocates for unfettered gun ownership are men sitting in their cars in sunglasses and baseball caps, recording themselves as they dump unhinged rants into their phones about their rights and conspiracies and socialism.

The Supreme Court has now affirmed that all these guys can be the handsome ranger with the Big Iron on their hip. You can be angry with the Court for furthering and enabling this weirdness, but it’s not the Court’s fault. It is, as usual, our fault, as voters and citizens, for tolerating a culture that is endangering our fellow Americans instead of insisting that all of us exercise our constitutional rights like responsible adults." [Source] 

I have a slightly different take than Mr. Nichols, as I do put a little  more blame on the folks making the laws.  But I agree with his overall sentiment: This pseudo macho culture (mostly angry white men who want to make up for deficiencies in other areas, and young urban terrorist who measure their worth by the weapons they use) that has enveloped our society, will only cause things to get worse from here.  

 



 

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Add climate change to our list of problems.


Still don't believe that climate change is real? 

Well, if you have been living in the FOX NEWS bubble over the past few years, you might still believe that it's all just a hoax. 

I hate to break it to you, but  if you do, you're in for a big surprise. 

The following is portions of an article from the Zinn Education Project: 

"If you have been reading the news or watching Democracy Now!, you have seen how climate chaos is crashing through the world:

Over 100 million people are under heat advisories in the United States as an early-season heat wave continues to break records from the Southwest to the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, firefighters are battling more than three dozen uncontained fires.

In Iraq, a massive dust storm hospitalized more than 5,000 people with respiratory ailments, in the latest of seven terrible dust storms to hit that country in just the last month. Temperatures in the Middle East and Central Asia have already soared to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

In Montana, record flooding has forced the closing of all five entrances to Yellowstone National Park. Roads and bridges in the area have been washed away. Flood levels on the Yellowstone River are now beyond record levels.

Pakistan and India just suffered through their hottest April in a century of record-keeping, with temperatures reaching more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit in parts of South Asia, resulting in misery for millions in that region.[Source]   

As if we don't have enough to worry about. 

Thoughts? 


Image from the University of Exeter.