When is it enough?

Is it the $1.1 million his businesses charged the Secret Service for rooms and services at his various clubs, from New Jersey to Glasgow, Scotland?

Is it playing golf 266 days, an average of once every 4.92 days, usually at a golf course he owns (and charges tax payers to use), instead of working?

Is it the throttling of Brian Murphy, the senior DHS official in charge of intelligence, for reporting on the threat of Russian interference in the 2020 election?

Is it threatening witnesses like Laura Cooper of the Pentagon for testifying against Trump during the impeachment trial?

Is it proposing to loosen regulations outlawing health care companies from exchanging bribes and kickbacks for patient referrals?

Is it when he withheld military aid to Ukraine unless they investigated Hunter?

Is it abandoning Kurds on the battlefield in Syria, fighters who had already suffered 11,000 dead and 24,000 wounded in a war that we asked them to fight,?

Is it calling US military war dead “suckers” and “losers”?

Is it the indictments of seven Trump advisors (Roger Stone, Steve Bannon, Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, Rick Gates, Micahel Cohen) as well as 27 others?

Is it the 5400 children separated from their parents at the border (over a thousand of whom have suffered sexual abuse) “to keep people out of this country — namely Central American migrants” according to Pence’s press secretary Katie Miller?

Is it the 545 children, now permanently orphaned because their parents can’t be located, that Trump says are “so well-taken care of”? 

Is it his telling “Proud Boy” terrorists to “stand back and stand by”?

Is it his putting a top donor to his campaign in charge of the Post Office then watching him deliberately slow delivery of mail-in ballots by cutting hours and tossing sorting machines?

Is it his calling mail-in ballots “a scam” and “fraud”, because if the United States switched to all-mail voting, “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again?”

Is it paying no US taxes for 10 out of 15 years, then $750 in 2016, but paying $188,561 over two years in taxes to China?

Is it his refusal to acknowledge climate change, something 11,000 scientists around the world endorse, even as the US west is burning?

Is it his total non-management of the Covid 19 pandemic,  causing 8,680,611 cases and 226,171 dead and counting?

Is it his his no mask, no social distancing Super Spreader events at the White House and around the country? 

Is it his effort to prevent DHS, the CDC, WHO and other agencies from telling the truth about COVID 19?

Is it appointing a Secretary of Education who never attended a public school and doesn’t believe in the public school system?

Is it Attorney General Barr assigning Justice Department lawyers to defend a defamation suit against Trump, firing US Attorney Geoffrey Berman for investigating Trump, and minimizing the Mueller investigation? 

Is It Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s abuse of power in firing his Inspector General, using his office to punish Trump critics, and using staff for personal errands?

Is it his cozying up to Putin and defending him at every step?

Is it his support for the Saudis and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in murdering Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi?

Is it his attempt to get rid of Obamacare thus eliminating healthcare for 19 million Americans in the middle of a pandemic?

Is it the new healthcare plan he claims to have but can’t produce?

Is it his stacking the Supreme Court 6-3 with Amy Coney Barrett so she can “look at the ballots” in what he calls a rigged election, as well as kill Obamacare?

Is it all the lies – over 20,000 and counting?

Is it all the insults he’s thrown at US allies?

OK, I could keep on going, but space is a problem. And you get the point. When is this socio-pathic, uninformed, bully going to convince you that a vote for him is a vote against all of us, not to mention everything this country has ever stood for?

When it’s too late?

(If you like this, pass it on. If you don't, pass it on anyway. Why should you suffer alone?)

It’s The State of The State We’re In

On Friday, Trump came to town.

In the morning sun, as he walked past the Fort Myers Convention Center, a few early birds wearing Trump shirts, MAGA hats, and carrying  US flags gathered at the corners near the Convention Center. They laughedand talked excitedly like football fans at a tailgate.

He walked along the river’s edge past parked security cars and clusters of police officers. It had been two weeks since his European friend of 25 years sent the email.

“You have seen (and so have they) the Mussolini moment on the balcony of the White House yesterday. What DON”T you SEE?! Do I have to constantly tell you about the German history that cost untold people (and writers like you) their lives? — Your former friend”

By the time he rounded the far edge of town and headed back, barricades and more people with Trump regalia blocked more streets. An older lady with a MAGA hat and thinning hair was mocking some Biden sign holders, “Gimme free stuff! Gimme free stuff!” 

Trump’s caravan arrived late, a line of vehicles, large and small, weaving through streets like an army on the march. 

A few minutes later, he and a friend watched as secret service agents came out the large double doors and invited some Trump flag wavers into the auditorium. 

“This is one Trump event that is definitely not sold-out”, his friend said.

They watched three young women in masks with Biden signs being interviewed by a TV news crew. Suddenly four men crowded around the young women, jeering and waving “2020 Trump!” signs at the camera.

“We have to leave, now,” said his friend. 

“Why?” he said. “No social distancing, no masks?”

“Because I’m about to hit one of them!” she said.

On Saturday, A Woman’s March came to town. 

He had never done this before, attend a protest. Not through the Kent State shootings, Watergate, the 2000 election, 9/11, or the Women’s March of 2017.  

But on this Saturday, he bought a Biden-Harris T-shirt, grabbed a Biden-Harris sign and joined hundreds of women lining the main thoroughfare into town for a two hour Woman’s March Call To Action.

They held Biden-Harris signs, along with “Black Lives Matter”, “The color of your skin should not put a target on your back”, “Let Felons vote”, “My Body My Choice”, “ERA now”, “Science Is Real!”.

People on Saturday errands drove by. Supporters honked. Detractors didn’t. He heard two drivers shout “Baby Killers!”  One screamed “Fu^@k You!” Three yelled “Socialists!” But most Trump voters drove by in silence. Some pointed a thumb down, or a middle finger up.  But the honks dominated the two hours.

Other than that, no Trump signs, not one, no MAGA hats, not one, no-one wrapped in the American flag, not one. No jeering. No bullying. No hissing or chest-thumping. Just a two mile line of women (and a few men) in masks, standing on the sidewalk socially distanced from each other, waving signs (mostly home-made) and chatting.

On Sunday he skipped politics.

He watched NFL games, the ones that hadn’t been canceled due to COVID19. He walked the dog, enjoying the return to quiet. He phoned his kids. He watched a movie on Netflix. He tried not to think about the pandemic, the 20,000 lies, the insults, assaulted women, alienated allies, racism, 23 million losing healthcare, 25 million unemployed, a highly partisan court system, …

“The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself”, Roosevelt had said.

He wondered.

On Monday, the first day of voting, he voted early.

The polling place was in a poorer area. His friend had chosen it for that reason. 

They joined a line of brown, black, and white people, everyone in a mask. It was raining, but no-one complained. There was occasional gentle laughter. At the entrance to the building an old guy on a walker directed voter traffic and reminded people to socially distance.  

“I like your handbag” his friend said to a woman who was dressed like she’d just come from church.

“You can get it at Macy’s or Dillards.” The two discussed the handbag’s compartments, then the weather – nothing about politics.

The voting booths were spread well apart in a large hall. The line worked its way past elderly poll workers, each of whom examined licenses and signatures and patiently answered even (his) dumb questions.

He got his ballot, filled in the right spaces, and pushed it through the scanner. It felt reassuring, calming, good.

(If you like this, pass it on. If you don't, pass it on anyway. Why should you suffer alone?)

Welcome to the McConnell Supreme Court

You know what angers me most about the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings? The lies – not Trump’s, McConnell’s.

McConnell lied in 2016 by saying voters should decide about Garland being on the Supreme Court. And he lied this year by saying the same group should not decide about Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court.

Here’s the truth. Those lies had nothing to do with voters. They had everything to do with McConnell’s long term goal of shaping the US Judiciary into a reflection of his biases, his racism, his ‘screw the little guy” attitude. 

McConnell has used his power to confirm 200 Federal Judges – every one conservative – since Trump became President. They include 51 circuit court judges, 139 district court judges, and 2 Supreme Court Justices.  He quietly confirmed 15 Federal Judges while the rest of the country was focussed on Trump’s impeachment. And, during just one week this past September, he pushed through 6 more.

Before Ginsberg died, the Supreme Court was reasonably balanced, with 5 Conservatives and 4 Liberals. Now it will be 6-3, the very definition of a stacked Court. This Court will make religious and conservative bigotry legal for decades. This Court is designed to end healthcare for 23 million people, as well as overturn Roe v Wade, affecting fully half of the entire country for the next 40 years. Republicans may lose the Senate, the House, and the Presidency here and there over those 40 years, but their wall will be the McConnell Supreme Court. 

That’s why McConnell is so loyal to Trump. It’s a pact with the Devil. The question: which one is the devil?

Now, even as the sham hearings unfold (McConnell already has the votes, so the hearings are just theater), Florida Senator Mark Rubio is proposing a bill to limit the number of Supreme Court Justices to the current 9. Why? Because the next time the Democrats take power, they can increase the number from 9 to 13, thereby bringing the balance back to where it was with Ginsberg. Changing the number of judges has been done many times before. Nothing in the Constitution prevents that, until or unless Rubio and the Republicans can.

We all know politicians lie. But until recently the lies were more restrained, part of the “art of politics”,  like “shadings” and “half-truths”. Now, with Trump as McConnell’s big brother, the restraints are off. 

But enough about McConnell and Trump’s lies, let’s hear from Amy Coney Barrett, the Judge,… no, the politician,… no…

OK, let her talk.

Barrett in 1998, in the Marquette Law Review: “(Catholic judges) …are obliged to adhere to their church’s teaching on moral matters.”

In other words, a judge’s religious beliefs are grounds for eliminating Roe v. Wade.  

The writers of the Constitution in 1787: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

Roe v. Wade does not prohibit the free exercise of any religion. It allows women to choose which religion or non-religion to exercise.   Reversing, state by state or nationally would, however, make all women subject to religious law disallowing abortion, no matter their religion, thus “prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.  

Barrett in 2017, while being considered for Appeals Court, “If you’re asking whether I take my faith seriously and I’m a faithful Catholic — I am, although I would stress that my personal church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear in the discharge of my duties as a judge.”

Wait. What? Now she’s not “obliged to adhere to their church’s teaching on moral matters?” 

Barrett in 2016, “I don’t think abortion or the right to abortion would change. I think some of the restrictions would change … The question is how much freedom the court is willing to let states have in regulating abortion.” 

Oh, I see. So now as a judge, she wouldn’t prevent a pregnant woman in, say Alabama, from getting an abortion, Alabama would.  Clever.

In other words, Good-Bye Roe v. Wade, one state at a time, but Barrett didn’t do it.

Barrett in 2017: “Chief Justice Roberts pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute.” 

That’s pretty clear: Good-bye Obamacare.

And the final word from McConnell… no, Trump… no, Graham… no, the Republicans… no, Judge Barrett, in 2013: 

“If the Court’s opinions change with its membership, public confidence in the Court as an institution might decline. Its members might be seen as partisan rather than impartial and case law as fueled by power rather than reason.”

Yes, Judge Barrett, well put. No “might” about it. You’ve described the McConnell Court perfectly.

(If you like this, pass it on. If you don't, pass it on anyway. Why should you suffer alone?)

Being a good neighbor in TrumpWorld

I was thinking about the election the other day. Really. Between TV football games and Covid19 and helping my neighbor and his wife install a new mailbox post in the middle of pouring rain (don’t ask).

She is far more politically intense than he is. Their lawn is decorated with Trump signs she painted herself. They look pretty good, especially next to the official Trump/Pence signs nearby. And they thumb a nose at everyone who thinks Republicans have no artistic sense.

She asks if I am behind the Biden/Harris signs in some other yards, one of which is mine. I cop to it, but quickly compliment her signs. She smiles.

Her husband gives me a silent wink of approval as he skillfully packs the base with dirt, and then attaches the mail box to it. Clearly this isn’t his first rodeo with mailboxes or a politically passionate wife. 

Self-taught skills, whether in artwork or home repairs, have always impressed me. 

Of course, if I needed some major house repairs, or say some artwork for a the living room, I wouldn’t necessarily go to my neighbors for it. 

Which makes me think about the election.

Politicians at a low level are also do-it-yourselfers. I know because I was on my town Council for a few years. I knew nothing about politics or running a town. Fortunately the town manager, Pat McGuigan, did know about managing and politics, as well as leadership. He taught all three to all seven of us, subtly so we could think we were doing-it-ourselves, but effectively enough to prevent any grievous mistakes.  The town did quite well under his tutelage.

At a higher level the good politicians either have lots of experience or, if their constituents are lucky, degrees in Political Science. Politicians without any knowledge of politics or governing can do some real damage. 

Knowledge matters. That’s why doctors have medical degrees, lawyers have law degrees, teachers have teaching degrees, and so on.

And they all get tested before they can work. 

We lesser types get tested for our knowledge, too. We take tests to get into college, or the military. We take tests to get driver’s licenses. Your car mechanic had to pass some kind of test to get the job. Your pharmacist had to pass a test. The cop on the street had to pass a Police Academy test.

I think politicians should have to pass tests too, maybe even get a license. We all know what happens if they screw up: we pay one way or another.

The politician tests should include the Constitution, some history, particularly of this country, and every one of the 100 questions on US Citizenship Naturalization Test (the test immigrants must pass before becoming US citizens).

Then someone who, for example, didn’t know about the Battle of Belleau Wood in WWI, or that Frederick Douglas was an abolitionist, orator, and escaped slave in the 1800’s (not today), or that it was the English who burned down the White House in 1812, not the Canadians (Canada didn’t exist then), or that Russia made major incursions into Ukraine in 2015 or that the US is required to defend all NATO members from attack, or… well you get the idea… that someone would not have been elected President.

Yes. These are actual examples of the lack of knowledge of our current President. 

But I don’t mention them.  Instead, we joke about repairing a mailbox in the middle of a rainstorm as I help them collect their tools. I return to my yard and its admittedly unartistic signs. 

“Good fences make good neighbors”, said Robert Frost in 1914. 

“Avoiding politics makes good neighbors”, says the voice in my head in 2020. A sign of the times. Sad, isn’t it?

(If you like this, pass it on. If you don't, pass it on anyway. Why should you suffer alone?)