Monday, August 28, 2017
Some things, as human beings, we just know. “We hold these truths to be self- evident” that Sheriff Joe Arpaio was the most racist sheriff in our country. But, Donald Trump pardoned him. Arpaio terrorized and made life a living hell for any person of color in his jurisdiction. He bragged his jails were like concentration camps. He arrested so many Latinos, he built a tent city for the prisoners when his jail was full. Among many atrocities, he made them wear pink underwear and eat green bologna sandwiches. Arpaio was the chief judge and executioner as evidenced by the death of some inmates.
YET, HE WASN’T convicted for being a racist, he was convicted for disobeying an Order by a Judge to stop being a racist! This Order was issued in 2011 and he refused to stop racial profiling and illegal arrests. No discernable difference, except the fact that Arpaio demonstrated that he, himself, was above the law. His excuse for ignoring the 2011 Order, as stated by his attorney, “He’s an 85 year- old man and he was confused.” Was he confused in 2011 when he was 79, as well? This excuse begs the question, is there an age limit in this country when you can commit crimes and face no legal consequences?
THE PARDON of Arpaio was not your run of the mill presidential pardon. Traditionally, a person found guilty must exhaust his appeals. Then he must apply for a pardon and express remorse. Arpaio was pardoned before he was even sentenced, he did not apply for a pardon, and he’s certainly not showing remorse. In fact, he is doubling down on his innocence. And, Arpaio was given a future pardon for a case that is pending and has not even gone to trial yet.
“WE HOLD these truths to be self-evident” that Trump’s pardon of Arpaio is not the first time he has shown a disdain for the rule of law or our judicial system, nor will it be his last. Trump called Judge Curiel who presided over the Trump (fake) University lawsuit, a “hater” and a “Mexican.” Trump castigated Judges for ruling against his Muslim ban.
“WE HOLD these truths to be self-evident” that Donald Trump is a racist and a bigot. Some things we just know and whether you are willing to admit it, you know, too. We’ve heard it from his own mouth many times. A few examples, he rose to prominence with his birther movement for no other reason than Obama was Black, a belief still touted by Joe Arpaio. Racism is the only explanation for Trump’s inexplicable on-going hatred for Obama. He provided comfort and sympathy to the White Supremacists and White Nationalists in Charlottesville. Until the outcry became so great, he had an avowed White Nationalist in his inner-most circle, Steve Bannon.
SOME THINGS you just know. “We hold these truths to be self-evident” that Donald Trump is like an egg-suckin’ dog. Now that Trump has tasted his first “pardon” he will not stop. When the Russia collusion investigation is completed, he will have lots of pardon eggs to eat. The pardon of Arpaio was a taste test for Trump. At the very least, it serves as a message to those implicated in the Russia investigation not to cooperate and turn State’s witness because he will pardon them. He just held a pardon trial run and it worked, even for future charges.
“WE HOLD these truths to be self-evident” that if his son-in-law, Jared Kushner is charged with money-laundering, he will pardon him. If his son, Don, Jr. is charged with colluding with Russia, he will pardon him. And, of course he will pardon himself.
“WE HOLD these truths to be self-evident” that Trump is only interested in uniting his base of fellow haters; not Americans who believe all people are created equal, as our founders stated.
“WE HOLD these truths to be self-evident” that Trump is for Trump, and places politics before compassion for others. Friday, as Hurricane Harvey was moving ashore and the lives of millions were in danger, Trump took the opportunity to do a news dump in hopes it would receive little news coverage. He pardoned Arpaio, he ousted Sebastian Gorka (thank goodness!) and he signed an Order to ban transgendered people from the military. Using the hurricane as cover is one way of looking at it. However, I suspect the timing of this news dump was to keep himself in the limelight so he wouldn’t be upstaged by Harvey.
WHAT HURRICANE Harvey is doing to Texas and its people is heart-wrenching. The great flood here in middle Georgia in 1994, pales in comparison to the flooding and devastation in that state. I saw a picture of very elderly women in a nursing home sitting in water up to their waists. They were rescued, but I weep for what they endured. As I watch the coverage of the evacuations, I’m struck by what I noticed during hurricane Katrina. They appear calm, they are quiet, and they are in shock. We must now open our hearts and our wallets to help our fellow Americans as they struggle to put their lives back together.
Monday, August 21, 2017
Last week was another rough one in our new Trump world. Trump's unprecedented glorification of white nationalists, white supremacists and Nazis when speaking of Charlottesville left us all in shock. For Progressives, our opinion of Trump was validated by Trump himself. Progressives cried because the feeling of helplessness to stop destruction of our country became more of a reality. Conservatives, if they cried, was because they realized that the man they have defended and voted for, does not represent their values.
THEY SAY a President is defined by how he handles a crisis. While there are all kinds of crisis-es, Charlottesville was a moral crisis. It was the first time we've had the opportunity to see how Trump would stand up to a true crisis. He failed miserably! This was Trump's big opportunity to bring our country together. Obviously, he chose to divide us instead. Reverend Falwell, Jr. said, “Trump speaks what's in his heart.” Trump said it. You heard it. Now you should believe him.
WHILE DEALING with this crisis, Trump created a new crisis, or at least took us back three decades or more in our fight against racism. Those times were not when America was great, if that's what he thinks! He has created a racial divisiveness for his own political purposes--to sustain his base of support. In my column last week, before he made this speech, I said Trump had unleashed evil. That was a prescient statement if there ever was one.
IN CASE YOU missed it, we are now under a declaration of war by Trump's “alt-right” man, Steven Bannon. After being fired on Friday, he said, “I'm leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America.” His weapon will be Breibart News. I have been advocating for his ouster in my columns since he was Trump's campaign manager and I cannot imagine the war being any worse now than when he was in the White House. But, Bannon assures us, “Oh, it's going to get worse.”
A WHITE nationalist monster in the form of Steve Bannon has been created and he is procreating more little monsters that need to be exterminated. Unfortunately, the leader of this country sees these monster as “fine people” and will feed them. Our Republican elected officials are afraid of these monsters as evidenced by the fact that not a single elected official accepted an invitation to speak to the horror we witnessed at Charlottesville on Sunday's Meet the Press. All week, their voices have been noticeably absent. Those that chose to speak, spoke out against hate and bigotry via Tweeter. Important things should not be conveyed by “tweets.” Since these elected officials are accountable to “we, the people,” we deserve more insight into their thoughts than one that can be expressed in 140 characters.
MUCH TO Trump and Bannon's glee, we are now distracted from the real problem of today—having an unfit President. Instead, we are now bordering on a civil war about Confederate monuments. While that is a discussion that we need to have, at this moment in time there are far more destructive forces that need our united attention. The “thinking” and “concerned” people in this country can only accomplish one thing at a time with our voices. If we all go off on different issues, our voices will be drowned out on all the issues. The Civil War is not the cause of the problems we have today. The monuments may be a reminder of the Civil War, but the monuments themselves are not responsible for the hate and bigotry permeating our country today. People are.
DEMOCRATS WERE baited and they took it. And for those that are using this divisive issue for political gain, shame on you and voters should rebuke you. We should believe Steve Bannon when he boasted, “The longer they talk about identity politics, I got 'em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.” And if the Democrats are crushed, these hate mongers can erect all the offensive monuments they please and there's not a darn thing we can do about.
DONALD TRUMP does not have a moral compass and in fairness to him, he has never claimed to have one. However, Vice-President Mike Pence claims to be of the highest moral character but yet, in response to Trump's despicable behavior and words about Charlottesville, Pence made a bold and Christ-like statement-- “I stand by the President and the words he spoke.” This makes me wonder if we would be that much better off if Trump was no longer in the picture and he was replaced by Pence. Perhaps we should be careful what we wish for…..NOT!
Monday, August 14, 2017
Donald Trump is normalizing hate and violence in our country. It started long ago at Trump's rallies with his talk and encouragement of violence against protesters. “I'd like to punch them in the face.” “Part of the problem is that no one wants to hurt anyone any more.” “Should be roughed up.” “Knock the hell out of them.” People thought it was funny and entertaining, having never heard such rhetoric from a candidate for public office. By staying silent then, and giving Trump the ultimate reward of the presidency, a monster was created. And an evil one, at that!
On Saturday in Charlottesville, VA, the evil was unleashed. White men took to the streets, dressed in black, adorned with swastikas on armbands, wearing brass knuckles, and shouting a Nazi chant, “Blood and Soil!” They were carrying long guns, short guns, baseball bats, sticks, and they were there to not only intimidate, but kill if necessary. And they did. The response from Donald Trump was barely a reprimand. Each word was calculated to thread a needle of satisfying those that found these acts to be evil, and at the same time, not anger his most fervent supporters. David Duke, the head of the KKK obviously didn't take Trump seriously. He said they were “fulfilling Trump's agenda.”
DID WE really expect Trump to condemn the actions of the White Nationalists? Nope! Just look who his Chief Strategist is—Steve Bannon. (When I look at him, I wonder when he had his last drink). When Trump placed the founder of the Alt-Right (Breitbart News), Steve Bannon, on his campaign staff and later on our government's payroll, it was met with silence. Bannon's bogiemen are Black people. Trump's Deputy Assistant and former editor of Breitbart News, is Sabastian Gorka, whose hope of being on the National Security Council was dashed when he could not get a security clearance. (When I hear Gorka's voice, I get the creepy crawlies). He still works there without a clearance and passes himself off as a national security expert, although true experts have no clue who he is. Gorka's bogiemen are Muslims. Stephen Miller, Trump's Senior Adviser for Policy is the third of the Three Stooges. (It scares me just to look at him). Reports going back to his high school days, show his bogiemen are Latinos and immigrants. These three men write Trump's speeches. They whisper in his ear. Yet, we remain silent. It is past time to rid the White House of these vermin and have an exorcism performed on the White House and Trump.
BUT THERE'S another reason, I think, that keeps Trump from demanding the actions of these groups stop NOW! Last week on Facebook, I noticed an uptick in Trump trolls, the likes of which I have not seen since the election. I also saw no less than three separate posts from alt-right groups threatening various levels of mayhem if Trump is impeached. They are Trump's army gearing up and he knows he will need them.
FOR US sitting here in middle-Georgia it's hard to imagine the fear and chaos in the streets in far away cities. We feel safe here from the hate and evildoers. I hate to burst your bubble, but THEY are here. They go by the name of the Georgia Security Force or the 111% (3 per centers). They were formed by a racist in McDonough (Henry County) shortly after Obama was elected President. They had only a couple dozen members until Donald Trump was elected President. Now their membership is more than 400. They train in the woods of Henry County, Butts County, and sometimes firearms training in High Falls. Just last year, at the height of the Muslim ban frenzy, they announced on Facebook they would be having a rally at the Monroe County Courthouse square. Something or someone must have dissuaded them. But they are still here and following the guidance of their Fuhrer, Donald Trump.
MUCH TO my dismay, the “Trump Effect” of incivility has now spread to the Democratic Party of Georgia. In case you haven't been paying attention to the candidates running for Governor on the Democratic side, there are two Stacey's running. Stacey Evans is white and Stacey Abrams is black. That presents a conundrum for liberals and progressives because we try not to differentiate between race, but their names are far too similar. Democrats talking about the two Stacey's sounds like a version of “Who's on first.” I have decided to call them, Stacey from Ringgold and Stacey from Atlanta.
This past weekend, the meeting of the Netroot's National conference was held in Savannah. It was an opportunity for activists to meet Democratic candidates for various offices.
STACEY FROM Atlanta spoke on Friday and had a grand reception from the group. Stacey from Ringgold spoke on Saturday and I've never seen a fellow Democrat treated so poorly by a crowd. Before she could even start speaking, a large group of attendees gathered in front of the stage, waving placards, and shouting her down in protest. They were shouting, “Trust black women!” They could not have been protesting Stacey from Ringgold on fitness to be Governor or her policies. They never gave her a chance to speak. That's not how we act, that's not who we are. And, what were all those anti-Stacey from Ringgold pamphlets littering the floor? Stacey from Atlanta, Stacey Abrams, the odds on favorite to win the nomination, released a statement that did not condemn the behavior of this group but said, “The mantra of “trust black women” is an historic endorsement of the value of bringing marginalized voices to the forefront, not a rebuke of my opponent's race.” Do tell!
Monday, August 7, 2017
Don't be shocked, I am about to say something good about President Trump. In just six months, his presidency has taught citizens of our country more about how our government works than all the government and civic classes we had in school. We were educated about how the popular vote pales in comparison to the electoral college vote. We've learned much about how Congress works. Unfortunately, what we have learned has not always been the “norm” of how our Congress has traditionally governed. But, these are not normal times.
THERE'S ANOTHER subject concerning government I feel you will be hearing and learning about, and that is—the 25th Amendment. This amendment was adopted to define the line of succession of the President. After the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, it was decided the 25th Amendment needed more clarification and the Amendment was ratified by all the states to include what to do if a President died, was removed, resigned or became incapacitated. Constitutional scholars (something I am not), believe that “fitness to serve” is addressed in the 25th Amendment.
TO REMOVE a President under the 25th Amendment, it requires the Vice-President and eight members of the cabinet secretaries to just state in writing the President is unfit to serve. These statements are presented to the House and Senate and they have three weeks to debate and vote. In the meantime, the Vice-President is acting. That ain't gonna happen! As Trump said, he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and it would be okay.
HOWEVER, the 25th Amendment outlines another way to remove an unfit president from office. Congress is legally allowed to impanel a body beyond the Senate and House. This panel would consist of medical, mental health professions, and other members appropriate, such as former presidents. Among many other things, they would take into consideration whether the President is capable of maintaining a reasonable command of facts or understanding reading materials presented to him. That would be a simple test. Just write something that doesn't have his name on every other line and according to his staff, he won't read it. Barring a complete meltdown by the President ripping his clothes off and running naked down Fifth Avenue (sorry for the visual), the likelihood of the Republican Congress eating their own is very low.
AT LEAST two bills have been introduced by Democrats to impeach President Trump. This starts the conversation and instead of whispers among Members of Congress about their concerns regarding the President's fitness to serve, they will have to be more open with this discussion. Also, as Trump's poll numbers continue to plummet, look for Republicans to be more outspoken about Trump's radical, unacceptable behavior. This week, Trump's approval rating was at an all-time low of 33%. For the first time, polls show his “base” peeling away.
THERE IS a glimmer of hope President Trump could be impeached under the 25th Amendment but we will probably have to wait until after the 2018 elections. The Democrats in the U. S. House are only outnumbered by 23. Historically when one party is in complete control at a mid-term election, they lose an average of 35 seats. Considering the Republican gerrymandering, I don't look for the loses to be that great, but it could happen with the right Democratic message and candidates. It is not normal to impeach a President using the 25th Amendment, but these are not normal times.
SPEAKING OF elections in 2018, I am reminded of our Eighth District Congressman, Austin Scott. We have barely heard a peep out of him in two years and since the election of President Trump, Scott has not shown his face in the District to talk to voters in a Town Hall. Now with the election looming, he has to have something to hang his hat on. So, he introduced a bill to stop poor and elderly people from having cell phones. Congressman Scott calls it a “big waste.” I beg to differ. I don't think giving the poor and elderly a way to contact their family, make doctor appointments, or parents being able to be connect to their children's schools, is a waste. Also, as someone pointed out to me, many low paid health workers have to have cell phones to work in the field. To qualify, you must be at or below 135% of the poverty line.
THIS CELL phone program, called “Life Line” was started in 1985, and during Republican George Bush's presidency, he added broadband service to the cell phones. This program is not paid for with tax monies. It is paid for by one of many surcharges on all cell phone bills and managed by a non-profit organization. Interestingly, Congressman Scott says the bill would not return those surcharges to us, the consumers, but would instead go into the general fund of the treasury for deficit reduction. With the current deficit at nearly 20 trillion, that wouldn't even be a gnat on an elephant's butt.
YOU MAY recognize this program by the term “Obama Phones” even though it was not a program created by Obama. There was no objections heard about this program until President Obama was elected and the Republicans coined the term “Obama Phones.” This term was used as yet another rallying point for their “base” against President Obama. Republicans think they can appeal to voters' inner most “meanness” and win. Scott is hoping to do that in the Eighth District and he and his bill should be rebuked. If there is fraud and waste by a few, then clean it up. Don't punish all the people that need a life-line for the actions of a few.
I THINK Austin Scott underestimates the charitable nature of the people of the Eighth District. I don't believe anyone objects to paying pennies a month to provide someone in need a “life line.”