Monday, December 26, 2016
I trust everyone had a wonderful Christmas and I’m happy Santa and his reindeer made it off the North Pole and was able to deliver all his toys for the children. I was worried about it for a while. You see, I made a joke last week about SantaLand may flood if the polar ice caps melt. The day my column came out in the Reporter, I heard a news report that the temperature of the North Pole has risen 50 degrees above normal and temperatures will be at, or above 32 degrees by Christmas time. I had no clue my joke was actually a true statement. Sad.
One year ago in this column, at this same time as we approached the New Year, I warned everyone to “Buckle up! 2016 may be a rough ride.” Rough ride? That turns out to be an understatement. It was like we were shooting white water rapids, without a life preserver, on a thin inner tube, while trying to protect eggs of an endangered species. (Something I actually experienced one time, without the eggs, of course.)
It was a wild ride and very educational. What we thought was normal changed each day. What I learned that surprised me the most is Americans are quick to sweat the small stuff but show little indignation over the big stuff, as long as it’s self-serving, and done in the name of patriotism or religion.
We’ll never forget 2016! The year something happened so shocking that all America was outraged. Ariana Grande licked a doughnut in a shop in LA! This caused a backlash that nearly ended her career.
What about Colin Kaepernick of the Seattle Seahawks who first sat, and then kneeled during the playing of the National Anthem at a football game as a protest for Black Lives Matter? Boy, that caused quite a stir in America! The backlash to Kaepernick was swift. He received death threats and was harassed. He just may be the most hated man in football today.
Then something happened in 2015 that carried over into 2016, which caused arguments between friends, families, and co-workers that monopolized the news for weeks. “Is that dress blue, black, or gold?” Everybody had an opinion; different people perceived the colors differently. That was a vexing time for everyone.
We’ll remember 2016, as the year a powerful man helped make twitter a mainstream mode of communication. Joaquin Guzman“El Chappo,” the Drug Lord King, made his second daring escape from a Mexican prison. Before he was caught, he tweeted threatening messages to a candidate for the U.S. presidency.
This is the year that an election defied all logic and all the polls. Nobody thought that it could happen. The entire world was shocked. People voted without considering the serious ramifications. Immediately, people wanted a “do-over.” The voters in the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union (Brexit!)
Oops! This slipped my mind. The People Choice Awards were held this year. Hillary Clinton won! She received 2.8 million more votes than her runner-up, but our Founding Fathers knew best 240 years ago when they said, “That doesn’t matter.”
Now we have a man calling for unity of the American people. This man represents everything that the normal America abhorred in the past. He unabashedly advised Hillary Clinton supporters to “accept their failure,” and “stop scapegoating external factors.” He further stated, “You need to learn how to lose gracefully.” This, from a man who punishes anyone who disagrees with him—Vladimir Putin.
In 2017, I feel Americans should stop sweating the small stuff that does nothing to protect our country or affect our lives, and speak out more about the big stuff.
This is my third New Year’s Column. I would like to thank all my faithful readers for your support and kind words. I would also like to thank Editor, Will Davis, for giving me a voice that is often (if not always) contrary to his ideology.
P. S. Did you notice I made it through this column without talking about the “elephant” in the room?
Monday, December 19, 2016
Have you ever wondered how I decide what to write about each week? I didn’t think so, but wanted to share anyway. I write about whatever is weighing the heaviest on my mind. It’s not always what I want to write about, but it’s things that make me feel satisfied that I have imparted what is screaming from my brain that needs to get out. For instance, this week I wanted to write something light and appropriate for the Christmas season. I wanted to write about joy and peace on earth kinda stuff. It was not to be. My brain would not cooperate.
I lamented in my column last week about the Russian interference with our election and that I was waiting for someone to yell “Fire!” Finally on Friday, President Obama did. Well, kinda, sorta. It was more like being in a crowded theater and someone saying calmly, “Hey guys, “There’s a small flame over here.” With all due respect to my President Obama, I wasn’t satisfied. I understand that Obama was trying to avoid more deeply dividing our country. However, based on the premise that we are bigger than partisan politics and are all loyal, patriotic Americans, one would think that since Russia effectively waged war on our democracy, it would bring us all together to fight this common enemy.
Make no mistake about it. Putin is an enemy, no matter how much Trump admires him. He is now, and never will be an ally of America, no matter what Trump tells you. If you think there’s a chance he will change, think about this… A butcher will cut his own finger off but continues to butcher.
Obama said in his press conference on Friday, “Russia cannot change us. Russia cannot make us significantly weaker.” Yes they can. They already have! By influencing our democratic process, over half of our electorate have doubts about the legitimacy of our President. Those that voted for Clinton or an alternative to Trump, represent 54% of Americans. Trump won the majority of Electoral College votes by only 100,000 votes spread out over three states. We are deeply polarized in our country. There is a not just a divide, but, a gulf so wide with our people that we are significantly weaker as a country.
Trump is the only one that can bring the nation back together. His teleprompter words about unity fall on deaf ears. If Trump really wants unity, he will start addressing concerns of 54% of the voters. He has chosen the majority of his cabinet and most are a slap to the face of 54% of the people. Trump has a cabinet of extremes: Extreme wealth and extreme views.
Trump says he has an “open mind.” So why appoint people who don’t; people who are extreme and strident in their thinking? Like, Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt, an attorney, is a climate change denier and has spent most of his life fighting the EPA. Or, Georgia Congressman Tom Price, as Secretary of Health and Human Services. He has always been a big proponent of cuts to Medicare, repealing the Affordable Care Act, and Planned Parenthood. And, like Andrew Puzder as Secretary of Labor. Puzder’s experience is in the fast-food industry. His contempt for minimum wage and benefits for America’s workers dissipates the hope of the working poor in this country. There’s Jeff Sessions, Attorney General, who has made his career as a racist. He’ll be investigating hate crimes and voter suppression. Oops! I almost forgot the man that couldn’t remember the name of this agency that he wants to abolish: The Department of Energy, Secretary Rick Perry.
I have seen nothing from Trump thus far that will bring any of the 54% of the people into Trumplandia. If he truly wants unity, he needs to give more than lip service to the 54% of the people. Speaking as one who knows her way around the Internet, I can tell you that those who voted for Hillary Clinton are not assuaged and are ramping up more every day. It’s comforting to know that we are not in the minority, because we represent 54% of the people.
There! I feel better! Now I can make my brain think about Christmas. Uh, oh! All that comes to mind is my fear that the polar ice cap will melt and flood Santa Land. What will happen to Santa, his wife, and all the little elves? What about the reindeer and poor little Rudolph? What will we tell our children?
Have a great Christmas, and I hope you make a memory!
Monday, December 12, 2016
I didn’t feel well this past weekend, so I decided to avoid what was making me sick—the news! When I finally tuned back in I realized when you miss a day in this Trump world, you miss a lot! I feel like I’ve missed an entire episode of the television series, 24 starring Keifer Sutherland. People you thought were dead are reappearing, people you never saw before are now center stage, and our country is drawing closer and closer to the edge of destruction as the clock ticks on.
Remember Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager way back in the first episode? When the public outcry over Manifort’s ties to the Kremlin became unbearable, Trump fired him and he was not heard from again during the campaign. But the latest episode reveals he was hiding in Trump Tower and is still one of his closest advisors. This is a reveal that becomes relevant when coupled with the other news of the latest episode.
After a month of different names being considered for Secretary of State, the tension mounted. Different day. Different name. Rudy Giuliani, former Mayor of New York who has made his living off of 9/11. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, Chair of Foreign Relations Committee, General David H. Petraeus, who would have to visit his parole officer every week. Jon Huntsman, former Governor of Utah and former Ambassador to China under Obama. The biggest teaser was Mitt Romney, the loudest Republican voice against Trump. Remember when Trump said, “I could tell Mitt to get on his knees and he would.” Well, Trump did, and Mitt did! It appears that Mitt Romney failed in his bid to be Secretary of State but he did manage to get his niece, Ronna McDaniel, appointed as chair of the Republican National Committee. Romney sold his soul and now he will be forever quiet about Trump.
Since October, when 17 national security agencies announced it has been proven that Russian agents hacked into the Democratic National headquarters’ server and that of Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Manager, John Podesta, the smoke has gotten thicker. I keep waiting for someone to yell, “Fire!” This weekend, it was released that a CIA detailed report exists with intelligence from our intelligence agencies that Russia sought to influence the election of Trump. Just one day after this revelation, Trump reveals his favorite for Secretary of State. It is none of the names we have heard for a month. It is the name of a man whose relationship with Vladimir Putin is unprecedented for an American. It is Rex Tillerson, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Exxon Mobile. Tillerson brags about his fifteen-year friendship with Putin. He is so close to Putin and the Russian Oligarch, in 2013, Tillerson was presented with the highest award by Putin-- Russia’s Order of Friendship.
Exxon Mobile, with Tillerson’s leadership, received a contract to explore for Russian oil, made possible by the melting sea ice. In 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea, the U. S. instituted sanctions and froze Exxon’s agreement with Russia. That leaves little doubt that with Trump as President and Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, the sanctions will be lifted and the deal will go forward. Adding insult to our injury, Trump has nominated this billionaire, this climate denier, as the first Secretary of State in U. S. history that has zero experience in the public sector.
Tillerson joins the ranks with General Mike Flynn, Trump’s National Security Advisor, and Paul Manafort, Trump’s advisor, as Putin’s bff’s. In light of the CIA report confirming Russia’s involvement to get Trump elected, and in light of Trump’s timing of dropping the Tillerson’s probable appointment as Secretary of State at the 23rd hour, this would lead any reasonable person to believe that this was the plan all along. Putin’s plan. This was not Trump deciding on the spur of the moment to appoint Tillerson. This deal was solidified on election night, if not before. Wonder what Putin has in store for us next? The clock is still ticking down.
So much smoke. FIRE! FIRE! Let’s face it folks, we are in a mellava hess!
Monday, December 5, 2016
It has been nearly a month since the election. After many sleepless nights asking myself the same question, I finally had an epiphany today. The question I kept asking myself was not “Why did Hillary lose?” She didn’t lose, she got over 2.5 million more votes than Trump. Was it “Why did Trump win?” Not that either. I know he won because of the Electoral College system. The big question that kept shooting through my brain like lightning bolts was “How could so many people want to have a President like Trump, with his lack of experience and knowledge, his temperament, his lack of moral compass, and one that suffers from an obvious personality disorder?” Today I realized he received most of his votes for just those reasons!
Trump received all those votes because of President Barack Obama! After eight years of a scandal-free presidency, a President who was careful to measure his words and his actions, a predictable and steady hand, Americans longed for drama and unpredictability. The reason was stated to us many times by Trump backers. Perhaps you even said it. “I’m voting for him because I want someone to shake things up.” “I like that he tells it like it is.” People get bored easily nowadays. People love drama. People want entertainment every day. This is evidenced by the hours people spend online each day watching cat videos, funny dogs, and pranks gone bad. Trump offers a President that will do or say anything for attention and will provide an unending stream of entertainment.
I admit that there were times during Obama’s presidency that I thought his responses to things could have been, and should have been, more aggressive in nature. For instance, from the git-go when Mitch McConnell stated he would do everything in his power to make Obama fail, instead of telling him what time it was, Obama ignored it. Instead of aiding Obama in crafting the Affordable Care Act to make it the best possible insurance plan, they coined it “ObamaCare” and went so far as to shut down the federal government and brought law suits to stop it. Obama didn’t castigate them as I thought he should. Instead, he did what he could from the back door. Obama tried to avoid drama at all cost and he understood that every word a President utters matters.
Another prime example of a statesman being too careful was Obama’s response to the birtherism campaign by Trump. Trump was relentless in his insistence that Obama was born in Kenya and was a Muslim. We have experienced Trump’s brainwashing technique of saying something over and over; until people believe it, even without one iota of proof. As late as August 2016, a poll showed two-thirds of Trump backers believed Obama was born in Kenya and only 13% believed he was a Christian. Obama’s response about birtherism “I have watched with bemusement.” Not exactly what I would have said!
Obama is everything Trump is not. For starters, Trump is white. The phenomenon of Trump’s election was a protest, payback vote to those Americans who had the nerve to vote for a black man, not once, but twice. Their anger has simmered for eight years before boiling out on November 8. Not all people, just the 63% of Trump supporters who still believe that Obama was born in Kenya and is a secret Muslim.
I believe that Hillary did not get the votes from the black community she expected because of Obama. I believe black people felt Obama let them down and did not “tell it like it is.” He never called out the racism that was the root cause of the hatred and bigotry that he experienced for eight years. I believe the Black community had high hopes when America finally elected a Black President. When they experienced more, not less racial bias, many just gave up.
You will never get bored or fail to be entertained by Trump. He’s not even President yet and he has already made a serious diplomatic faux pas by disrespecting China in favor of Taiwan. Look for more of these, and worse, because he shows no interest in learning. He’s not taking his daily intelligence briefings. He is not availing himself to the State Department on matters of protocol, and he’s still tweeting whatever pops into his mind. Trump is the star of the biggest reality show in the world.
For those of you who wanted a President to “shake things up,” you got him! It won’t be long before you will be longing for the days of “No Drama Obama.”
Sunday, November 27, 2016
If there’s one thing we learned from the November 8 election, it’s that Georgians care about education and their children. Governor Deal’s plan to take over our schools was repudiated by 60% of the voters. Who would have thought this vote would be so meaningless, so fast? On one hand, we voted overwhelmingly not to dismantle our public education system, while at the same time, voted for a President who ran on an education platform of doing just that!
Everyone knew Trump promised to build a wall. Everyone knew Trump promised to wage war on immigrants. Everyone knew he promised to repeal ObamaCare. But, how many people knew Trump even had an education plan, not to mention a plan to use public money for unregulated for-profit charter schools? Yeah, that one kinda slipped by a bunch of people.
Trump’s sound bite rallies only allowed for time to say he would abolish Common Core. Betcha didn’t understand that to mean the entire elimination of public education, as we know it. Trump’s plan calls for the states collectively to contribute $110 billion of their education budgets and the Federal would chip in $15-20 billion in Title 1 monies that go to schools in the poorest areas. In turn, Trump’s plan calls for each student from K-12, be allocated $12,000 per year for school vouchers. That will send parents on a shopping spree among private and religious schools, charter schools, and even on-line schools.
Just in case you think that was just “campaign talk” by Trump and he really doesn’t mean it, look no further than Exhibit A, his pick for U.S. Secretary of Education—Betsy DeVos. Unless you hail from Michigan, you may not have heard of her. It is said she is worth $4 billion dollars by marrying into the Amway fortune. She is former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party. She is described as an education activist, even though she has never worked in education, and neither she, nor her children ever attended a public school. Ms. DeVos has deep ties to the Christian Reform community in Michigan. She is founder and chairman of the American Federation of Children, which advocates for school choice reform. She has made it her life’s work to destroy public education in Michigan, spending tens of millions to steer public money away from public education and into State charter programs. Further, thanks to Ms. DeVos’ unwavering support, private companies run 80% of Michigan’s charter schools. That, my friends, is the future of education in the U. S. A. The End.
No! Wait! It doesn’t have to be the end. Betsy DeVos, nominee for U. S. Secretary of Education, must first be confirmed by the Senate. Hold that thought.
Trump’s appointments thus far have been abysmal; the appointment of Steve Bannon, the leader of the Alt-right movement; the appointment of disaffected General Mike Flynn. They do not have to be confirmed by the Senate. So forget them!
South Carolina’s Governor Nikki Haley has been picked by Trump as U. S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Her job will be to keep the Secretary of State informed on issues presented to the world body and inform the Secretary of State and the President on her recommendations on how to handle these issues. Her pick was not due to her vast experience, but her loyalty to Trump. Haley is probably one of the least prepared for this job in recent history. In ordinary times, she would probably never be confirmed. But with so many more important nominations to oppose, we must pick our battles.
The future of our children is worthy of a battle. We cannot put our entire education system in the hands of a person simply because she is a billionaire whose hobby has been making profits for investors in Charter Schools, procuring public funding for Christian schools, But Betsy DeVos does! and busting teacher unions. With Betsy DeVos at the helm of the Department of Education, the constitutional lines between separation of Church and State will be erased.
We Georgian’s sent a clear message on November 8, that our children’s education belongs in the hands of parents and school boards. This is one more battle we must fight.
Call our U. S. Senators today to make your voice heard and say “No” to Betsy DeVos.
Sunday, November 20, 2016
Since the election, I have been experiencing grief. Last week, I was in the first stage of grief--denial. This week I have moved on. Moved on, that is, to stage two--anger. Since all people do not adhere to the five stages of grief we hear so much about, I will not allow myself to experience the other stages; three being bargaining, four being depression, and five being acceptance. I will never accept bigots, racists, homophobes, xenophobes, anti-Semites, and Communists taking over my country. As long as I stay in the anger stage, I will be motivated to stay involved and take action to expose these horrible people.
A “coup” has taken place in our country! No, not the kind of coup where they come in with guns blazing. This coup was legal for the most part, unless you don’t count Russia’s interference with our election and the role the FBI played. It started with a con man so skilled he convinced half a nation that white was black and black was white. Now our Government is being over thrown by one bad appointment after another by Trump. With each successive appointment, we are moving closer to a country we will no longer recognize.
Let me introduce the men who will be running our country and deciding the policies of this Administration. These men do not have to go before the Senate to be confirmed. There is no background investigation to determine if they can qualify for a Security Clearance. It’s handed to them and all the government’s most sensitive secrets.
Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus. He will be irrelevant surrounded by all the extreme alpha males in Trump’s inner circle. They will eat him.
We have the leader of the white supremacy movement, Steve Bannon, as White House Chief Strategist. I hear that title is being changed to Chief Alt-White House Strategist or Chief Anti-Semite.
Most recently, Lt. General Michael Flynn was named by Trump to be his National Security Advisor. Flynn served as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency under President Obama. He was forced out of this agency due to his chaotic leadership style, his extreme right-wing views and opposition to the Administration’s policies. His subordinates referred to Flynn’s repeated dubious assertions as “Flynn Facts.” He became a lobbyist for anti-America Turkey and Russia, although he never legally registered as a foreign agent required by U. S. Law. He stood on the stage at the Republican National Convention and led the chant, “Lock her up!” He was a commentator on Putin’s state run television. “Russia is an evil empire.” Not my words, but the words of President Ronald Reagan.
In most books and movies depicting coups, it’s always the disaffected General, isn’t it?
When I was a teenager, I read my first political thriller; a book called Seven Days of May, written by Fletcher Knebel, in 1962. It’s still fresh in my mind. It was based loosely on a real-life character, General Edward Walker, a disaffected General during JFK’s Administration. In the book, a plot was uncovered to over-throw our democracy by a fictional General, but for the opposite reason than we are seeing now. General Walker and the fictional General were “anti-communist.” Disaffected General Flynn is “pro-communist.” President John F. Kennedy read the book and said, “This could actually happen.” I bet he never fathomed THIS could happen!
Trump as President. I recall Ohio Governor John Kasich stating that when Eric Trump offered him the Vice-President position, Trump said, “You can be in charge of all domestic and foreign affairs policies in the Trump White House.” That’s pretty much everything of the presidency, except the pomp and circumstances, red carpet, “Hail to the Chief” and fancy State dinners. And, don’t forget the large rallies he vows he will still keep having. Trump, thrives on the adulation received from large crowds. North Korea’s Kim Jong-un has mass rallies and parades, not U.S. Presidents. Trump does not want to govern; he wants to entertain, make more money, and be adulated.
It is comforting, in my angered state, that people who agree with me won the popular vote 63,045,266, topping Trump’s 61,607,950. Trump received 47% of votes cast. Not a mandate! On Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, I will be thankful for this.
Don’t miss the Presidential pardoning of the Thanksgiving turkey this week. This tradition dates back to President Abe Lincoln, but it may be the last you will see for a few years. Trump is still calling for the re-incarceration of the five minority teenagers convicted in the Central Park rape and murder case in 1989, that were later exonerated by DNA evidence and a confession from the actual murderer. That leads me to believe that he will not pardon the turkey, but send it to Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo) instead.
Happy Thanksgiving and I hope you make a memory!
Saturday, November 12, 2016
Donald Trump was elected President because the majority of the people wanted change. Well, you’re gonna get it!
I could put on a happy face and tell you how everything is going to be great and wonderful. I could say all the things you want to hear to make you feel better about this election. That would be disingenuous. That’s not who I am. The truth is, I do not believe the change you voted for will ultimately be the change you sought.
I get that you didn’t like President Obama, but he is an honorable man and has been a role model for our children. I get that many of you did not like Michelle Obama, as well. She wore a dress that bared her arms and was castigated. The future First Lady’s pictures are all over the Internet posing nude, full frontal. Melania Trump, by anyone’s old standards, would not be considered an honorable woman. She is now being compared to Jackie Kennedy. That’s an insult to Jackie O’s memory. We used to be a moralistic country at heart. Is this the change you wanted?
In past elections, such as when Republicans Ronald Reagan and the two Bush’s were elected, I awoke the next morning at peace with the decision America made. These were honorable men and the policies they supported were not extreme and did not threaten our democracy. I awoke the morning after this election with a knot in my stomach that will not go away.
Trump is not an honorable man. Honorable men do not disrespect and threaten entire races of people and religions. Honorable men do not brag about sexually assaulting women. Honorable men do not mock handicapped people and belittle Gold Star families. Honorable men don’t have 55 lawsuits pending when they are elected. Thanks to Trump, our country has a new standard for hypocrisy and pathological liars. By electing Trump President, you put your stamp of approval on him and changed the meaning of what it means to be an honorable man and consequently changed our America. Is that the change you voted for?
Speaker Paul Ryan, emboldened by Trump’s election, said today, “Medicare privatization is happening!” He claims that will be part of the replacement of Obamacare. He falsely claims that Medicare Trust Fund is going broke. On the contrary, the Trust Fund has been extended an additional eleven years because of Obamacare. Is this the change you wanted when you voted?
When I look at Trump’s probable cabinet picks, my angina kicks in. Do you consider Rudy Giuliani a change? He’s a man driven by hate and revenge and made a living off being Mayor during 911. Is Chris Christy the change you wanted? What about Newt Gringrich? He’s been there, done that, and been rejected. And Sarah Palin, she gives all women a bad name. General Michael Flynn running anything in our Government? He works for Russian television. He’s not even qualified to pass the US’s standards for a security clearance. Admittedly, we do need a brain surgeon on staff, i.e. Dr. Ben Carson. I won’t even list the alt-right, fringe flame-throwers in line to shape our new, yes new, country. But, is that the change you wanted? All of these people and many more are in the basket of deplorables.
I know most of you will shrug me off as an ignorant lib-tard (or worse) and claim I speak from sour grapes. Call me what you want, but call me “Scared.” In fact, I’ve never known so much fear in my life. I am not afraid for myself but for my children, grandchildren, and all the people Trump has marginalized, including all women. These are my emotions and I have the right to have them. I will not “change” because you voted for “change.” We all have to suffer from the consequences of Tuesday’s decision and that puts us all in the same boat, but not in the same basket.
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
UNFAIR AND UNBALANCED: No Matter Who The President Is: Don’t bother reading this column! ‘Cause I ain’t got notin’ to say! Due to newspaper deadlines, I’m writing this column three days b...
Don’t bother reading this column! ‘Cause I ain’t got notin’ to say! Due to newspaper deadlines, I’m writing this column three days before the election, and it won’t be out in print until the day after the election. If you chose to read anyway, I guess you’ll have to use your imagination as to how I’m feeling at the moment you read this…. I’m either crying tears of joy, or tears of fear.
I thought of writing with the assumption that Hillary won, complete with a banner headline “Hillary Wins!” However, not that I’m that old, but I’ve seen the collector’s framed newspaper headline all my life, “Dewey Defeats Truman.” I decided not to go down that road.
There are a few things that can be said no matter if there is a President Clinton or (as my fingers tremble on the keyboard), a President Trump. November the 8th will not be the end of the ugliness and hate that has reared its head in our country. In fact, it is just the beginning. There is a deep polarization in our country and that gulf won’t heal at the inauguration of a President. Our country will be engaged in a feud far worse than the Hatfields and McCoys. My biggest fear is that our nation will accept this divide as our new normal.
Another fallout from this contentious election has been the divide that exists in many families and many friendships. I have heard many stories about the dissension caused by this election. One of my friends was “un-friended on Facebook by his own mother. Luckily, most of my family members are Democrats so there have only been some minor skirmishes. I’ve had some big disappointments with some friends, however. Hopefully this won’t be a lasting situation.
Regardless of who the President is we need to confront the actions of Putin and his hacking of our Internet sites to influence our democratic elections. Putin’s conduit, Julian Assange, aka WikiLeaks, have got to be shut down for any peace to exist in our country. Eric Snowden needs to be made an example by bringing him back to the U.S. by whatever means necessary to face charges for treason.
Regardless of who the President is, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) needs a good housecleaning. For our Democracy to work, we must have faith in our justice system. We need to be able to take the word of the FBI as the gospel. Even under the leadership of J. Edgar Hoover, we never questioned the legitimacy of their investigations. With the eleventh hour interference with the election by James Comey, and the lies leaked last week attributed to FBI sources about a non-existent investigation into the Clinton Foundation, the FBI has lost credibility. It has been said that the FBI employees refer to itself as Trumplandia. From the reports, it would seem that most of the lies and innuendo is being performed by the New York City field office of the FBI in cahoots with former New York City Mayor, Rudy Giuliani. That office would be a good place to start, right after Comey is fired. And yes, he can be fired, contrary to popular belief. When a Director loses his ability to lead his agency, the President may fire him. As my Mama used to say, “He has gotten too big for his britches.”
The Director of the FBI reports to the Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, who is Comey’s boss. Over all she has done a good job, but she has been impotent to stand up against Comey. She needs to go, too.
Another thing we can talk about, regardless of whomever the President may be is the Media. Liberal or conservative outlets have played a major role in making this election so convoluted that we voters have not been able to discern the truth. Whatever happened to the “Equal Time Rule?” Granted, the rule never applied to “news” but political rallies day after day, shown in their entirety is not news. And giving one candidate a billion dollars of free advertising is not equal in anybody’s book. I hope the Media will hold an autopsy on how their coverage influenced this election in its entirety and make appropriate changes for future elections.
I had the great honor of being up close and personal with the Honorable Congressman John Lewis last Friday. I saw the scars on his head from being beaten for what he believes in. For me, it was a very fitting reminder of why I do, what I do.
I suppose I had more to say than I thought. Next week, I’m sure I’ll have more to say than you ever wanted to hear, no matter who the President is.
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
This is important to keep in mind as we tick off the next few days until the election. FBI Director James Comey is a Republican appointed by President Obama. He worked in the Bush Administration, he contributed to John McCain’s campaign, he contributed to Mitt Romney’s campaign, and he publicly professes to be a Republican. Now he announces just eleven days before the election that he “may” or “may not” have some new evidence against Hillary Clinton which “may” or “may not” be pertinent to Hillary’s email investigation. He gave clues leading one to think this email was discovered while investigating Anthony Weiner’s sexting of a 15-year old girl, but has nothing to do with Hillary or her private server. He further stated that it “may be a while” before he can determine if it’s “something” or “nothing.” Huh?
Just imagine if the shoe was on the other foot; that the FBI Director was a Democrat in a Republican administration. Imagine if you can, under the same circumstances, a Democrat dropped a “dirty bombshell” like this one, just days away from the most historic election in our lifetime. No doubt he would be on his way to Gitmo by now and experiencing a hard landing by Pence’s pilot.
Democrats are used to our candidates being treated this way in the eleventh hour of their campaigns. Comey’s remarks or lack of remarks, takes “swift-boating” to an all-new level. Trump, a proven sexual predator according to his own words, is calling Hillary the most corrupt politician in history. Democrats or the “corrupt” Media, are not talking about Trump’s trial next month for fraud with Trump University, or his trial in December for child rape. Instead, they have more emails, which were not written by Hillary, to read. Meanwhile, Hillary has NEVER, I repeat NEVER, been proven to be corrupt!
I personally think someone got to Comey! Someone, like a bigly game show producer. Perhaps he is doing a reality audition for the host of a new version of “I’ve Got A Secret!” Either that, or auditioning for the starring role in remake of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”
Or maybe, just maybe, he is a victim of the thirty-five year old conspiracy by Republicans to destroy Hillary Clinton, no matter what it takes. Maybe he caved to the threats of the Republican controlled Judiciary Committees. Or maybe, just maybe, he’s creating his place in history. He could replace J. Edgar Hoover as the most infamous FBI Director in our history. After all, even J. Edgar never (openly) exercised such influence over the outcome of our Presidential election. We will be debating this issue until the Zombies come.
This is my last Unfair and Unbalanced column before “E” Day. For the past sixteen months, I have made my case against Trump and for Hillary. Here is an excerpt from my column of April 15, 2015:
Nothing Hillary ever does can be low-key. That’s why I feel sorry for her. She’s obviously an incurable glutton for punishment. She is the most vilified, investigated public figure/politician in history. Everything about her is scrutinized. From the way she wears her hair, to what pantsuit she wears, her cankles and other bodily features, and most of all, down to a complete dissection of every word she utters. Is there any wonder she appears guarded, stoic, and distrustful of the media? Sadly, she “ain’t seen notin’ yet!”
In this same column, I asked the question, “Do we want a country of extremes, or one that is more tolerant?” At that time, I couldn’t fathom just how ungodly extreme a Trump presidency could be.
Further, at the end of this same column sixteen months ago, as I was urging voters to have the courage to vote for her, I wrote, “If Hillary is tough enough to withstand what she’s going to face, then so are you!” She has, and she will!
As a reminder when you vote, don’t sell our children to Governor Deal! Vote NO on Amendment 1. And, don’t sell our Justice system to the Georgia Legislators. Vote NO on Amendment 3. In fact, since we weren’t shown the respect of public hearings on these Amendments, just Vote NO on all of them. Also, come to think of it, Republicans have no opposition in Monroe County. So, as Trump says, “What do you have to lose?” Send a message that you’re not happy with the direction Republicans are taking our State and our country. Just Vote the Straight Democratic Ticket!
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
I promised myself that I would not write about Donald Trump this week. I’m sick of him, you’re sick of him, even my dogs are sick of him. However, I was sucked in by the hype of Trump’s big announcement on Saturday of his 100-day plan and I thought we would find out his policies finally! WRONG! WRONG!
This speech was delivered in Gettysburg, PA, the site of Abraham Lincoln’s renowned Gettysburg Address. Honest Abe is spinning in his grave now. Trump stole many of his words, but it sounded much better and believable when Abe spoke them.
For the first twenty minutes of his big policy speech, he told us what he really wanted us to know. His policies took a back seat to his continued insistence that the election is “rigged” and how mean, nasty, and ugly the Media, Hillary’s campaign and his fellow Republicans have been to him. He topped it off by saying all the women are liars who made allegations against him and he will sue every one of them (all eleven of them) as soon as the election is over. I have lost track of how many people and entities he has said he would sue. I like what the New York Times said, “We look forward to it.”
We all know by now that Trump’s method of operation is to threaten or bring lawsuits. In his three speeches Saturday, he stood strong and proud and threatened these women who had the courage to speak out against the suing machine. Trump brags about his many, good lawyers. He should talk to them. First, when you make yourself a candidate for public office, your character as it relates to fitness and qualifications for office is on the table. Your prior actions and conduct is fair game. Trump knows this! In a 1999 interview with Chris Matthews, he told him that he could never run for President because of his history with women. He said, “People want me to [run for president] all the time … I don’t like it. Can you imagine how controversial I’d be? You think about [Bill Clinton] and the women. How about me with the women? Can you imagine?”
Second, Trump is threatening to sue the ladies for defamation of his character. A defamation case is balanced between a person’s First Amendment protections of free speech. Trump will have to prove that his reputation has been hurt. He is a man, who has spent his lifetime building his reputation as a rich cad, bragging about his sexual escapades and ripping off his contractors. He is on a video describing his sexual assault. If anything, the ladies solidified the reputation Trump has sought throughout the years.
Third, in political campaign defamation cases, the candidate must show that the campaign is his “profession” or “business”. Trump has repeatedly told us that he is not a politician; that he is a businessman.
Trump promised when the ladies started coming out of the woodwork that he had “proof” they were lying and “I will release it soon.” We’re still waiting. If he had one iota of proof, he would still be waving it in our face. Good luck with your lawsuits, Donald!
In my Unfair and Unbalanced column last week, I wrote of the threat of a Cyber-War and how Russia’s threat 55 years ago “We will bury you without firing a shot,” was coming to fruition. I assure you, I am not a prophet. However, last Friday, the largest cyber attack we’ve ever had, took down large segments of the Internet and millions lost service. On-line commerce was severely affected by millions of lost revenue. This hacking was only a test.
We may have a surprise in Georgia on election night. No, not that Hillary will win Georgia, although that could happen. Johnny Isakson and Jim Barksdale may be in a run-off for the Senate race. The current polling shows Isakson ahead with 47% of the vote and Barksdale 32%. Before you laugh, consider the Libertarian candidate, Allen Buckley has 11%. Then consider, Isakson has to have 50% + 1 to win without a run-off. Katie bar the door if that happens! Control of the Senate could come down to a run-off election right here in Georgia. All eyes in the nation will be upon us and there won’t be an available hotel room in the state. That would be good for our economy, so vote for Barksdale!
It’s Halloween time! Got your candy yet? We had a trick-or-treater one time about five years ago. I was so excited. After ten years of living here, we finally had a trick-or-treater. Actually it was three in a group, pitch dark, during a torrential downpour. Don’t know where they came from. All I had to give them were two-week old apples. That reminded me of when I was young and we’d surprise elderly people while trick-or-treating. All they ever had were apples. I don’t like apples. I like candy.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Those of us born into the earlier years of the “baby boomer” era remember vividly the fear we felt during the years leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. We knew we had two enemies who were unstable madmen—Fidel Castro of Cuba and Nikita Khrushchev of Russia. Cuba, located only 90 miles off the coast of Florida, joined forces with Russia and Russia moved ballistic missiles onto their island, pointed at America. This is the closest our country has ever come to nuclear war. Thanks to the leadership skills of President John F. Kennedy, an agreement was negotiated to dismantle those warheads. This was a tense and stressful time for our country.
As a child of this era, I remember schools issuing every student military style “dog tags” for identification in case of war. We were taught the “duck and cover” technique during school drills. Bomb shelters and fallout shelters were promoted. “Preparedness” was the subject of many public service announcements. I recall joining my parents every night to watch NBC’s Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. As a child, I was scared then, and as an older adult, I’m scared now!
During this time, I remember Nikita Khrushchev, Premiere of the Soviet Union, threatening America with the words, “We will bury you without firing a shot!” These words weren’t taken very serious at the time because we Americans could not fathom that happening.
Now 55 years later, I see the possibility it could happen. We now live in a different age--An age when a cyber attack of our power grids, communications systems and transportation systems could bring us to our knees and destroy our way of life.
It has been confirmed that Vladimir Putin, President (and ruthless leader) of Russia, directed the hacking of various email accounts to influence the outcome of our Presidential election. National Security officials have stated Putin wanted us to know he was responsible, evidenced by leaving an easy trail to identify the hackers.
Our security officials and F.B.I. are gravely concerned that Russia will hack into our voter files and delete voters. This would cause chaos at our polls and hinder our right to vote, thereby seriously undermining our democratic process. Just the thought that a foreign government has that much power over us is down right frightening!
We ask the question, “Why would Putin risk a cyber-war with our country?” I think it’s because Russia feels this election is worth taking the chance against any retaliation we may use. Putin recognizes in Trump for the first time in their history, they have the chance to manipulate and control a U. S. President.
Trump’s own words and actions give us no reason to doubt this assumption. Trump has made no secret of his admiration for Putin. For the first time, we have a Presidential nominee whose closest advisors and staffers have close ties to the Kremlin. Trump’s top advisor on national security is General Michael Flynn, a paid analyst on the Russian television network, Russia Today (RT). He advocates closer relations to Russia and supports policies not in the best interest of our country. Further, Trump was briefed by intelligence officials and furnished proof of Russia’s hacking of emails. He refuses to admit their involvement. If that doesn’t give you pause, nothing will.
In his bombastic speeches, Trump has warned for many months that if he loses it’s because the election is rigged. Using these KGB mind control tactics, he is setting the stage for serious unrest among his supporters after the election. Reasonable Americans know that our election process is sound where little to no fraud exists. The only way our election could be rigged, would be by a cyber attack. Right now, Putin is our prime suspect.
We need to be fearful of the aftermath of the election. We need to expect great unrest with Trump’s supporters that he has whipped into hysteria. Cooler minds must prevail. Or else, we will be buried without a shot being fired.
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Were you a big fan of the television series 24? I was! It starred Keifer Sutherland as Jack Bauer, the only one in the counter-terrorism unit that could save this country. Each one-hour episode depicted one hour’s worth of events over a period of 24 hours in the life of Jack Bauer. It was a suspenseful, action thriller that kept you on the edge of your seat during the entire show.
This past weekend, I felt I was watching a non-stop series of the show, 24. I was glued to the television as a monster storm of historic proportions, was headed to the eastern coast. This was especially distressing because all my siblings, many close family members, and good friends reside along the coast of Florida and Georgia. The path of the storm was depicted every few moments on television by a big red menacing arrow. Add to that, the Governor of Florida was shown every five minutes saying, “This storm will kill you!”
I spent all day Thursday checking on evacuation plans of family while keeping my eye on the red arrow. This killer storm kept getting closer and closer and my family was being indecisive. We’re leaving. We’re staying. Leaving. Staying. I kept checking to see how long they had to live and my stress was building. One of my sisters and her family live on an island in Glynn County and wanted to ride it out. After being deluged with requests for them to leave, they finally headed inland. Seriously, that was a relief.
I was particularly concerned about my brother who lives on the coast at the Georgia-Florida line. He was too sick to travel. In hindsight, I probably should have made a list of all the preparations I wanted him to make, instead of calling every five minutes. He sure knows how to push my buttons. He said, “If I don’t make it, I guess someone will let you know.”
On Friday, my vacationing brother and his wife arrived from Florida. They weren’t real refugees fleeing the storm but we pretended they were, since my real ones cancelled. All that was left to do was watch the pounding of Jacksonville by the killer storm, and wonder if my brother would be blown away. At that moment, just like on 24, something happened! Something that has never happened in the history of the world! Something so horrendous, the television networks pre-empted coverage of the projected killer storm. Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for President, bragged about his method of sexual assault!
For the next two hours, I was mesmerized by the video that was shown over and over again. Pundits were speculating what this revelation would do to Trump. Facebook was blowing up. I suddenly realized I had lost track of the storm! The only storm coverage I could find was on Fox News because obviously they weren’t interested in showing their golden boy blowing himself up. Next came the hostage apology video from Trump while being held at gunpoint by his staff and the RNC. Then Speaker Paul Ryan refuses to campaign with him. Trump’s own Vice Presidential pick finally refuses to defend him and disappears. Fellow GOP’ers began un-endorsing him and calling for Trump to leave the race. The RNC is considering cutting all financial ties to Trump. Meanwhile Trump is taking his campaign further into the gutter and with it, the American people. This stuff was incredible to witness.
That brings us to Sunday night—The Big Debate. All America watched to see if Trump’s head would blow up like a volcano, spewing Tic Tacs all over the stage. That didn’t happen but there were some close moments. He was visibly angry and desperate. Just like last debate, I found his continuous snorting very distracting, like a mad bull.
Trump repeatedly called Hillary a devil, and that she had hate in her heart. Trump threatened, if elected, to have Hillary investigated by his Justice Department and if he were President, she would be in jail.” That’s what Putin does, not this country. For those words alone, it shows he is unfit to be President. He’s hateful, nasty, and knows no bounds.
Our country is in crisis and Trump is about to go nuclear. The suspense is building. And, just like on 24, we’ll have to stay tuned to find out if our country will stand.
About the storm...all my family were safe and very fortunate. Others were not. There seems to be a disconnect between the pre-storm hype and coverage of the aftermath. Many are suffering all along the coast. I wish the media would give this dire situation more coverage than Donald Trump.
Please note: The editor of this paper and I don’t agree on anything and butt heads often. However, in the case of Trump, he chose not to endorse him. Kudos to Will Davis!
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
I will be so happy when I can get back to writing mostly humorous columns that make you smile. To me, the threat of Donald Trump being Commander-in-Chief of our military and President of our great country terrifies me. I find little humor in anything having to do with him. Yes, he says a lot of crazy things that ordinarily would make me laugh. However, I am reminded of his unfitness to be President and that sucks all the joy right out of me.
We’ve heard everything else but we have heard very little about his policies. We can all recite Trump’s big lies, his bigoted remarks, his misogynistic attitudes, the details of the Trump University fraud, his remarks about John McCain, the Khan family, and now Alicia Machodo. Other than building the wall and rounding up Mexicans, what do we really know about his policies?
I decided I would hold my nose and go to his website and check. All the issues are lacking one thing. Details. And what I like to call do-ability. The issue with the most detail is CHILD CARE. This one was the brainchild of Ivanka Trump. I might add, a woman who has 24-hour nannies and never worried about maternity leave. First of all, the plan is to change the current “tax credit” to “tax deduction.” There’s a big difference for people trying to make ends meet. Tax credits go directly in your pocket if you’re lucky enough to get a refund. I recall many years when my children were in Day Care, our childcare tax credit made the difference in whether we could buy that new refrigerator or get new tires for our car when our refund arrived. A raise in the tax credit would be more helpful to those struggling and need it the most.
The other detail in Trump’s Child Care policy has to do with six weeks of maternity leave. He proposes that this maternity leave will be paid for by Unemployment insurance that is carried by the employer. That was qualified by, “Employers shouldn’t eliminate company paid maternity care in a competitive job market.” (Notice it didn’t say they could not). The plan also states that it should not harm employers’ taxes because it would be paid for by cutting out unemployment fraud to the tune of $5.6 billion dollars annually. Wealthy people always think there is fraud in unemployment usage. Folks, you need to call Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler and ask him how much fraud in unemployment payments is going on here in Georgia.
Have you heard anything about Trump’s EDUCATION PLAN? It’s a doozy! School Choice for every student K-12. The plan states that $20 billion would be an additional investment by Federal government and $110 billion from the states. This is on top of the $620 billion we already spend. Since most states are already stretched thin, it wasn’t explained where the states would come up with this money, or what services would be cut in Federal Government to supply the $20 billion. Trump will allocate $12,000 per student and the money goes with the student to any school of their choice. The current spending per student is $12,239. That is a shaky plan for such high stakes.
Trump’s education plan is a total destruction of public education, as we know it, except that we will pay for it. This is what wealthy Republicans have always dreamed about. They can send their children to elite private schools and not have to pay for it. People who live in poverty and in rural areas will still be in the same boat they are in now, unless a massive bus system is created. And who decides the selection process for the new privatized charter schools that will be built? Will the students relegated to the schools in the take-over by Governor Deal have a choice if Amendment 1 passes and Trump is elected?
VETERANS HEALTHCARE. Trump has a 10-point plan for reforming VA Healthcare. I was struck that 5 out of the 10 points are punitive in nature. Points 2 thru 6 are all about disciplining VA employees, terminating VA employees, investigating fraud, cover-ups and wrong doings, rewarding employees who report other employees and taking away bonuses. Number 10 is choice between VA or a provider of their choice. This one comes under the heading of “undoable.” Unless he is going to socialize medicine so he can control doctors, neither the President nor the VA have the power to tell doctors and hospitals they have to take patients at a reduced cost. Currently, the VA has a Choice Program but doctors are largely deciding not to participate.
Trump has stated that he plans to privatize the VA Healthcare. Clearly, a vote for Trump is a vote against veterans’ healthcare. There is not a single congressionally approved Veterans Service Organization that has endorsed Trump’s plan on privatization.
I hope you’re not voting for Trump based solely on the emotion he evokes in you. I ask you to examine his policies and Hillary’s and factor in what you learn into your decision-making process.
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Early voting is about to begin and there’s another amendment that you need to take a long, hard look at before casting your ballot. That is Amendment 3. I urge you to vote “No” on this amendment to our constitution that threatens the core of our judicial system.
This is how the Amendment will appear on your ballot:Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to abolish the existing Judicial Qualifications Commission; require the General Assembly to create and provide by general law for the composition, manner of appointment, and governance of a new Judicial Qualifications Commission, with such commission having the power to discipline, remove, and cause involuntary retirement of judges; require the Judicial Qualifications Commission to have procedures that provide for due process of law and review by the Supreme Court of its advisory opinions; and allow the Judicial Qualifications Commission to be open to the public in some manner?
So, why should you care about this seemingly innocuous ballot measure?
This Amendment is a hostile attempt by the Georgia Legislature to take over the one agency that protects our judicial system from Judges who commit acts of criminal and moral turpitude. Plus, all the other reasons a judge may become unfit to serve in a position that has such a great impact on the lives of our citizens.
Let me tell you how Amendment 3 managed to end up on our ballot. In 1972, the Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC) was created by another amendment to our constitution. The JQC is an independent “watchdog” group over all Judges in our state. Normal citizens going about their daily lives have probably given little thought to who polices the judges who judge us and who we depend on to have unbiased judgment.
The JQC, under-funded and under-staffed, has been quietly going about their job protecting the integrity of our judicial system. The JCQ is currently made up of (1) Three members of the State Bar of Georgia active for 10 years or more, who are elected by the State Bar’s Board of Governors, (2) Two judges of any Court selected by the Supreme Court, and (3) Two citizens, neither of whom are members of the State Bar, who are appointed by the Governor. Over the years, the JQC has removed 77 Judges from the bench, only the worst of the worst judges. Judges are human and they make mistakes, but those 77 Judges did not make simple mistakes.
The only person or person who would have a problem with this Agency doing their job is a Judge, and one is former Judge Johnnie L. Caldwell, Jr., not to be confused with his esteemed father that served Georgia well in many positions over his lifetime.
In 2010, Caldwell, Superior Court Judge of the Griffin Judicial District, resigned from the bench after the JQC had a “come to Jesus” meeting with him regarding his sexually explicit harassment of a female attorney. Court transcripts, which Judge Caldwell went to great lengths to attempt to conceal, contained graphic details of his shocking words and perversion. In return for not being “removed,” Mr. Caldwell was allowed to resign to “spend more time with his family.” In a letter to the JQC, he accepted responsibility for his actions and vowed he would never seek another judgeship. Instead, he ran for, and was elected State Representative to the State Legislature. Now he is a co-sponsor of amendment 3, the very legislation that will abolish the JQC and turn it over to the members of the State Legislature. Judges would then be answerable only to members of the Georgia General Assembly! How horrifying is that?
I see this Amendment as a crusade by a former Judge holding a grudge and having a vendetta. As evidence of this, Johnnie Caldwell did not recuse himself from the vote taken by the legislature as another Judge did who was merely a candidate for Judge at that time.
The fact that Johnnie Caldwell, Jr. is a sponsor of this bill is reason enough to vote “No.” No hearings were held prior to this amendment being placed on our ballot and the public was not asked for input. The legislation itself offers little detail as to how this new JQC would work. The last line of the ballot question says, “…open to the public in some way?” Wouldn’t you like to know exactly “what way” before voting on this important measure? If this law is passed, it puts the over-sight of all state judges into the hands of the General Assembly. Then they are free to tinker with the law each time a Judge and his network has a complaint.
Let me give you an example of a Governor and General Assembly controlled commission. The State Ethics Commission! This commission tasked with transparency in government is one of the most political commissions in Georgia. It’s a joke! It has gone from being a “watch dog” group to a Save-a-Pet.
The current JQC is not perfect, but it is as close to being non-political as anything we’ve got. We need to keep it that way. My only advice comes from my years as a paralegal serving in courtrooms and it’s something I have been yearning to tell the JQC for years. The current JQC has used very high standards to remove unfit judges from the bench. Evidently, a Judge with advanced dementia does not qualify for removal under the current standards.