Tuesday, May 30, 2017
The Democracy of the United States has survived wars and the Great Depression. At no other time has the foundation of our Democracy been threatened as it is today.
THIS MEMORIAL Day, we heard much about all the brave men and women who fought and died so that we can live in a free country. They proudly gave their ALL. My greatest fear is that one day soon we may learn those we honored on this Memorial Day and those soldiers in the future, may have given their life in vain. Our democratic government is being threatened! I know that's an appalling statement to make and I do not make it lightly, but examine the evidence presented by the Trump administration.
FIRST, IT was proven that the Russians interfered with our democratic elections. Trump has denied this, and has never castigated the Russians for this dastardly deed. May I remind you, “Russia is an evil empire.” Not my words, but the words of President Ronald Reagan.
THEN THERE'S Trump's inexplicable obsession with the Russian government and Vladimir Putin throughout Trump's campaign. To this day, Trump has steadfastly refused to acknowledge Putin's heinous crimes against humanity. Instead, we learned that Trump's closest advisers have plotted and schemed to subvert our democratic government by attempting to set up covert communications between Trump, his associates, and Putin and his associates. Adding insult to injury to the American government, it was requested that Trump and Associates use the Kremlin's communication system to accomplish this work-around. Even Putin thought that was the most bizarre and shocking request his administration ever had.
IMMEDIATELY, upon taking office, Trump began alienating allies and ingratiating himself to dictators. You will recall Trump's strained meetings with Angela Merkle of Germany and Justin Trudeau of Canada. In contrast, you will recall the very warm reception given the Foreign Minister and Ambassador of Russia. Trump's gift to them was blurting out highly classified information. You will also recall his fawning over Erdogan of Turkey. Turkey, at one time, had a quasi democratic government. Under Erdogan, he moved to have the government changed to give him all ruling power. Trump's preference for these autocrats over our long-time allies was clearly visible.
NEXT CAME, Trump's first trip abroad—our Representative to the entire world. His first stop was Saudi Arabia, ruled by a King. (Trump's Secretary of Commerce said it was nice not to see protesters and placards when they arrived. In Saudi Arabia, doing such calls for beheading.) Trump loved the decadence of the palace and deference shown to the King. He pledged his friendship to this autocrat who commits crimes against humanity routinely. This was the “kind” Trump.
MOVING ON to the NATO Summit in Brussels, we saw the “bully” Trump. He acted like a belligerent, ill-mannered child. These are our closest friends and allies. These are our partners, but Trump's actions and words showed disdain for them. From the handshake attempting to dominate the newly elected President of France, to the shoving of the President of Montenegro to place himself in front of the entourage, he has created a situation with our allies that may take years to overcome.
IF THERE ARE any adults in the room, they need to discipline Trump and his associates. We now have enough evidence and information to pull security clearances of many of Trump's associates while we await the outcome of the investigation. Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and co-President, should be the first in line. At this point, we do not know the extent of the relationship with Russia, but continued sharing of highly sensitive national security information with these individuals is dangerous. It's going to be interesting to see who in the government has the guts to call for Kushner to step down until he is cleared. This is the prime reason we have laws against nepotism.
THE MOST compelling evidence our democracy is being threatened is Trump's war on the media. “Freedom of the Press” is so important, it's the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The media is not an “enemy of the American people,” as Trump has stated. Trump's consistent attacks on the media is creating an atmosphere of hate and violence that puts hard-working journalists at risk. Just last week in Montana, a candidate for the U. S. Congress body-slammed a reporter for merely asking an important question on the eve of the election. He still won and many electors stated it didn't make any difference to them. This man, now a Congressman, is dangerous. Trump's words put hate in his heart and he acted on it. His despicable behavior was rewarded, now he is emboldened. Speaker Ryan has the authority to refuse to seat him. Yeah, like that's gonna happen.
THESE ARE very confusing times. We don't know who our friends are. We don't know who our enemies are. We don't know who we can trust. After this much-hyped over-seas trip, Trump has not given any press conferences or interviews to tell us details and share his foreign policy plan. We've lost our way. We better find it fast or all those who gave their ALL will have died in vain.
Monday, May 22, 2017
As an opinion writer for the Monroe County Reporter for nearly three years, I know my audience. I know the majority of you are Republicans and that you voted for Trump. I have many friends who fall into that category. I know my audience is smart and discerning. This free advice is for you.
If you have pledged your troth to Donald Trump, I'd like to tell you it's time to leave him. During my years as a family law paralegal, I saw many clients holding on to bad marriages because they didn't want to admit they made a mistake. They were looking for something and they believed the promises. They did not want to believe their spouse was having an affair with someone else. They did not want to give up their hopes and dreams. Deep down, these clients feared losing their identity. They knew the “handwriting was on the wall” but did not want to read it.
He's a gonner. Cut your losses! Trump has not fulfilled on a single promise he made to you. You dreamed you would be living in a utopia if Trump was President. Trump loves only himself and is having an affair with Russia. You will not lose your identity as a Republican; you won't turn into a lib-tard. You are showing your true patriotism and love of country. And, the “handwriting is on the wall,” or in this case, on the White House stationery-- “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off.” (wrong!)
That was in the official notes of the oval office meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister and the Ambassador. (No wonder they were so happy). This leaves little doubt as to why Comey was fired, to stop the Russia investigation. After Trump fired Comey, he sent all his staff, including Vice-President Pence, to lie to the American people that Comey was fired because of how he treated Hillary Clinton and a scathing report from the Assistant Attorney General. The next morning, Trump threatened Comey in a tweet. The next day, Trump told NBC's Lester Holt that he did fire Comey because of the Russia thing. This, coupled with the notes of what he said to the Russians, sure sounds like obstruction of justice to me.
Then there's General Flynn... Trump's strange obsession with General Flynn! We now know that Trump and his transition staff knew about Flynn's relationship to Russia BEFORE he appointed him National Security Adviser. Trump knowingly allowed a Russian agent to be privy to our nation's highest classified information. Just prior to being appointed National Security Adviser, Turkey paid Flynn $500 thousand to represent their interests with Trump. Trump's a good actor, showing surprise and blaming Obama when it became public. Trump's willful decision to hire General Flynn who would be unable to pass security for employment with Seven-ll, gives us great insight into his judgment. That can mean one thing—Trump doesn't give a hoot about our national security. That infidelity to our country alone is enough to separate yourself from him.
Trump loves him some Putin and that remains the biggest mystery of all. His campaign staff and now members of his White House Staff had 18 conversations with Russians in the last seven months of the campaign. Why? I would like to know how many conversations they had with our allies such as Great Britain, Germany, France, and Canada in that same period. My guess is zip.
The cold hard truth you must face is that Trump is seriously flawed, and is missing the switch that tells him right from wrong. While he may be an excellent real estate developer, he knows nothing about how our government works or governing this country. You would not call an electrician to fix your plumbing. As a life long self-employed business man, Trump does not know how to work as a team. He has never had to take advice. As a real estate developer, you can make all your own decisions. If you make the wrong one, you can file bankruptcy and start over. As President, you have to weigh your decisions carefully because everybody's everything is at stake. We have already learned that Trump is a “knee jerk” reactor. Most importantly the people that surround him must be experienced and capable, because a President can't know or do everything himself. And, the people you hire must be of the highest integrity and character. He has not surrounded himself with those people.
The chaos and complete incompetency of the Trump Presidency will not get any better. Our country will not survive with new scandals every day and people being fired as routine. Whether they be sins of omission or commission, the result is the same. A telling sign was the admission by his staff that in order to accommodate Trump's very short attention span, they must place all reports and memos on one page. Further, they have to insert his name as many times as possible, to hold his interest to read that one page. I find it embarrassing to our nation that the foreign Heads of State on his over-seas trip were told to keep their speeches short to accommodate Trump. He has publicly stated that he does not read his daily security briefings. “They bore me.”
So, it's okay to admit you made a mistake. If you can't separate yourself from Trump due to a
misplaced sense of loyalty, then you should do it for the children's sake.
On Monday, Memorial Day, I will be in Alma, Georgia where George will be delivering the keynote speech for the Memorial Day Observance for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. I hope you have a great holiday weekend, but please take time to honor our veterans who sacrificed ALL for our great nation.
Monday, May 15, 2017
THE NEWS was slow last week. Nothing much happened, except the abrupt firing of the FBI Director who was conducting an investigation into Russian ties to the White House, the President yuking it up with Russian Diplomats in the Oval Office and only allowing Russian media in the room, and the President tweeting a threat to the fired FBI Director by insinuating he has “tapes” of their conversations. I was hoping for something more rousing, like Trump shooting Melissa McCarthy on Friday as she drove the Spicer motorized podium in front of NBC's headquarters in downtown Manhattan. However, the reaction would have been the same from our spineless Republican Congress--“Troubling.”
I WAS greatly relieved this past week to learn beyond a shadow of a doubt that Trump has no business ties to Russia. We know this because Trump paid the law firm of Morgan Lewis to write a certified letter to him attesting to that fact. In Trump's words, this law firm is the most respected in the world. It sure is! In 2016, Morgan Lewis law firm was named “Russian Law Firm of the Year.” Folks, I'm not a fiction writer. I can't make this stuff up.
IF I WAS sentenced to work in the West Wing of this White House, I would douse myself with gasoline and set myself on fire. If you think your workplace is stressful and chaotic, think again. I can't imagine a more hostile workplace than the West Wing. There is no workable chain-of-command. And your boss is uncontrolled, a nice way of saying “unhinged.” You have a boss who popularized the phrase, “You're fired!” You have a boss who directed your cell phones checked to see with whom you are communicating. These people hold some of the most prestigious jobs in our country. No real work for America is happening in this White House. I cannot fathom that they find any joy in their work—except maybe Bannon, as he watches our government disintegrate.
AND, indeed our Government is disintegrating. The Republican icon, former Vice-President Dick Cheney said that interfering in our elections by the Russians is an “act of war.” Does it seem like we are at war with Russia? Have you ever heard Trump say anything about Putin less than complimentary? Compare how German Chancellor Angela Merkel, our ally, was treated by Trump versus the Russian Diplomats. He refused to even shake her hand. With the Russians in the Oval Office, he was grinning like a “a possum.” This behavior weakens our government in the eyes of the world.
FURTHER, “Regardless of how you feel about former FBI Director James Comey, he was fired for not pledging his loyalty to Trump and proceeding with the Russian investigation. That is more than “troubling.” This has been a great distraction to the very agency that is tasked with keeping us safe. Do you feel safer today? This behavior causes the American people to have doubts about the FBI and makes our government weaker.
THE REPUBLICAN Congress shares in the blame for the disintegration of our government. They showed their lack of concern for the American people when they passed a healthcare bill without any semblance of study or forethought. None of these elected Republican Congressmen have sent a message to Trump to stop the craziness. They have not seemed to take the Russian interference in our democratic elections seriously. They appear to have pledged their loyalty to Trump and the Republican Party, and not our country. Each of these men (and a very few women), took the following Oath of Office:
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”
AT THIS moment in time, they are not defending the Constitution and the American people but their President and their party. They are not defending our country against foreign enemies. If they continue to refuse to uphold their oath, then in 2018 we must clean “house.”
IT'S ABOUT time we start paying attention to the antics of those hoping to be the new Governor of Georgia. First out of the block is Secretary of State Brian Kemp. If you want to learn more about his campaign, go to the OFFICIAL website for the Secretary of State. Click on the Facebook icon and it will take you directly to his campaign page. Or, you can click on “after hours contact” on the official site and it will take you to his campaign Facebook page. Yes, he is using State government official property to advance his campaign. You may be surprised to learn that this does not violate an ethics law. It may not violate a written law, but it violates the rules of integrity. Lack of integrity among our elected officials seems epidemic these days.
Note: This column was written before we learned Trump gave Russians classified info in the Oval last week. Now we know why Russians were so happy!
Monday, May 8, 2017
Okay, Everybody! Sing with me. “Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah. Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah. Hey! Hey! Hey! Good-Bye!” That song was sung to the Republicans last week by the Democrats when they passed Trump's healthcare bill, reminiscent of the day when Bill Clinton's tax increase bill passed the Democratic House. Now the shoe was on the other foot.
HEARING THAT refrain sung on the floor of the House of Representatives to 217 members after the devastating healthcare vote was the only time I smiled last week. The rest of the time I could only think of the Culhane's song from the old Hee-Haw show-- “Gloom, despair, and agony on me. Deep dark depression, excessive misery.”
YOU SEE, I have held on to the idea that 217 congressmen would not be so morally bankrupt they would vote for a Bill that could possibly kill millions of Americans all for the sake of politics. Lest you think it wasn't for politics, 20 Republicans with vulnerable seats in 2018, were given a pass. These MEN caved to a President simply because he wanted a win because winning is everything to him. Additionally, healthcare spending had to be cut to the bone to pay for Trump's wall and the big tax cut for the mega-rich and corporations. These MEN threw the plan together with no regard for the impact on American lives. We expect our elected officials to do their due diligence. They did not. Most admitted they did not read the bill. They do not care for anyone or anything but their careers, their Party, and making Trump happy.
THEN CAME the most despicable act—celebrating in the Rose Garden while people suffering from cancer, parents with babies suffering from congenital defects, and anyone with a preexisting condition, wept.
AS TRUMP stood in the Rose Garden, beaming with joy, saying, “I'm the President, right? Can you believe it?” This made me more than “mildly nauseous,” as Jim Comey said of his decision to throw the election in favor of Trump. Standing behind Trump were all his “bobble heads;” those white men bobbing their heads from side-to-side and smiling in agreement with every utterance. They have no shame.
THE HEALTHCARE bill, passed by Paul Ryan and the band of “bobble heads” clearly targets the less fortunate. For example, the Bill cuts Medicaid by $880 billion. That's poor families and children. That's children born with congenital defects. That's elderly people who need nursing home care. It is the people you look at and say, “There, but by the grace of God, go I.”
THESE MEN have lost their moral compass. They have forgotten who their bosses are. These “bobble heads” have to go!
THE BIG question now is, will the Senate do any better? After last week, I will not swear by it. My faith in our entire system of “checks and balances” is shaken. That's why if you care about making sure we don't have a third world healthcare system, you have to speak up. We know that our Senators Isakson and Perdue will walk lock-step with Trump. Don't make it easy on them.
WE Georgia have great reason to cry. The bill allows the states to opt-out of covering preexisting conditions. If Governor Deal opted out of Medicaid Expansion which was free money, there's not a snowball's chance in hell he and the Republican legislators will allow us to have effective and affordable healthcare coverage.
GOVERNOR DEAL'S “bobble heads” in the Georgia legislature have to go! Passing the Campus Carry law is proof enough they have lost their way. If this Bill is seen to fruition, instead of going bankrupt paying for inferior healthcare, you'd be wise to pay that money to Spanky for a burial plan.
IF IT'S EVER going to happen, now is the time. Single payer or Medicare for all is the only thing that will be fair and equitable to all citizens of our country. The thing we don't hear discussed is the role insurance companies are playing in our disastrous healthcare mess. They are salivating over the Bill's increase in premiums. Single Payer is the last thing they want. We need elected officials with the gumption to stand against these powerful companies. We have been arguing about healthcare for nine years. Single payer insurance is the only way to stop this insanity.
OH, BY THE way. If you are a “bobble head” and think Trump is the cat's meow, you aren't paying attention. Bless your heart!
Monday, May 1, 2017
One hundred days! Has it really been only 100 days since the world turned on its axis and started spinning in the opposite direction? Seems more like a thousand days to me. They say, “Time flies when you’re having fun.” I’m definitely not having fun.
THESE PAST 100 days have been gut wrenching for people who feel as I do—Patriots that only want the best for our country and preserve our democracy. For starters, we have a President who is not, and never will be a statesman. We have a President who declares important information in 140 characters. We have seen our White House infiltrated by proven foreign agents and white supremacists. We have an administration taken over by a “family.” The administration has no set foreign policies. The Secretary of State, the Ambassador to the United Nations, the National Security Adviser, and the President, all make conflicting statements on vital issues. We have a President who cannot discern the truth from a lie. We have a President who diminishes the respect our country has enjoyed with the rest of the world.
HAVING NO prior knowledge of how our legislative process works, Trump turned to the very thing an authoritarian is good at-- signing edicts. Even that hasn’t gone so well for him. The edicts that he’s signed targeting immigration have been challenged in our court system. It’s the notion that we still have a semblance of “checks and balances” that keep myself, and people that feel like me, hopeful.
IN TRUMP’S speech Saturday night, he bragged about how many “bills” he had signed. Someone should explain to him the difference between an edict and a “bill.” For me, and those that feel like me, the fact that Trump did not pass a single piece of legislation and has not received funding to build his wall, is a good thing. Trump promised that Mexico would build the wall and it comes as no surprise that he is seeking funding from the American taxpayers to fund this ill-advised promise. The only way our country can afford to pay for the wall is to get rid of healthcare funding. The Wall vs. Healthcare. For people who feel as I do, this is a “no-brainer.”
FOR PEOPLE who feel as I do, the fact the Russia interfered in our election weighs heavy on our mind. It appears highly likely that members of Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to assist Trump. There has been no comment by the President condemning Putin’s actions, or denying his campaign may have been involved. This behavior is out-of-character for Trump and adds to our suspicion. This should be investigated doggedly. Our highly partisan government leaders do not want to investigate for fear it will hurt their party. People who feel, as I do, fear it will hurt our Democracy.
JUST THIS past Saturday, Trump declared his devotion to the Second Amendment while speaking to the National Rifle Association. Saturday night, Trump chewed up the First Amendment and spit it out. For people who feel as I do, we get that people love their guns. That’s okay. However, we feel it borders on treason to attack our First Amendment rights and the vehicle that brings us the truth—the press!
FOR THOSE of us who find all this unacceptable, we live with a sense of foreboding and 100 days can seem like a 1,000.
THE GOOD NEWS? Millions of women who feel as I do are leading the resistance to protect our Democracy. Trump’s election woke up many in our population who had become complacent in that our Democracy would always be here. When Trump and the Republicans threw together a poorly planned healthcare bill, this provided the impetus for many Americans to express their opinions to their elected leaders. The resistance worked and the message was heard loud and clear! The only thing legislators fear more than Trump is losing their jobs. This is another form of “checks and balances” to protect our democracy.
FOR SEVERAL years the Republican’s excuse for not doing something good for our country was, “that would be a slippery slope.” Those words used to aggravate me. Now a slippery slope seems pleasant, compared to where we are—plunging down the steepest mountain at warp speed headed into the abyss. And it’s only been 100 days!