Thursday, July 28, 2016

WHAT THE ELECTION OF 2016 IS ABOUT

Progress is often slower than we'd like.  I never thought I'd see an African-American as president in my lifetime, but I thought I might see a woman. The order will be reversed if Clinton is elected, but boys and girls growing up will know the reality that African-Americans and girls can grow up to be president. That may not be a revolution, but it's enormous progress.

Also, I never thought I'd see a 74 year old senator lead a movement that drew many enthusiastic young people into politics to work hard and contribute to his candidacy. Bernie Sanders will not be the nominee of the Democratic Party, but I hope Sanders supporters do not view their efforts as having failed. The platform is the most liberal/progressive in history, thanks to their hard work. Sanders will be a force in the Senate working to implement his policies.

From now on, the campaign is not about Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, but rather about the people of the country working together for the election of politicians, from the presidency, to the Congress, to state and local offices, who are focused on implementing liberal/progressive policies, which the president cannot do alone. Last night on MSNBC, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) reminded us that some of President Obama's legislation was blocked even during the two years when Democrats had a majority in both houses.

Also, the Supreme Court could have as many as three vacancies during the term of the next president, and a Democrat in the White House is vital to prevent a conservative court that could pull us backward for decades to come.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

DONALD TRUMP - CHAMPION OF SMALL BUSINESS

According to the Miami Herald, Trump National stiffs a small business by refusing payment for the full amount of the paint contract because it has “paid enough”.

In this instance, Donald Trump was penny wise and pound foolish.  Why not just pay the $34,863? Now he owes nearly 10 times the amount. Here's why: Trump has pulled the same stunt on other contractors, but not all small businesses have the funds to take him to court. In this instance the attorneys took the case with the agreement that they would not get paid if they lost.
Circuit Court Judge Jorge Cueto, presiding over a lawsuit related to unpaid bills brought by a local paint store against the Trump National Doral Miami golf resort, ordered the billionaire politician’s company to pay the Doral-based mom-and-pop shop nearly $300,000 in attorney’s fees.

All because, according to the lawsuit, Trump allegedly tried to stiff The Paint Spot on its last payment of $34,863 on a $200,000 contract for paint used in the renovation of the home of golf’s famed Blue Monster two years ago.
Note that the judge is Latino, but he is of Cuban descent, so perhaps Trump will not demand that he recuse himself from the case, as he did for Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is of Mexican descent.

TRUMP AND PUTIN



Excellent post by Josh Marshall at TPM on the Trump/Putin relationship.
To put this all into perspective, if Vladimir Putin were simply the CEO of a major American corporation and there was this much money flowing in Trump's direction, combined with this much solicitousness of Putin's policy agenda, it would set off alarm bells galore. That is not hyperbole or exaggeration. And yet Putin is not the CEO of an American corporation. He's the autocrat who rules a foreign state, with an increasingly hostile posture towards the United States and a substantial stockpile of nuclear weapons. The stakes involved in finding out 'what's going on' as Trump might put it are quite a bit higher.
According to Trump, Obama vs, terrorists - weak and wrong; Putin vs. terrorists - strong and right. "There is something going on," but not with Obama and terrorists.  

And that, my friends, is only one of the reasons why Trump's tax returns from the last 10 years will never see the light of day.

Marshall's entire post is well worth a read.

Monday, July 4, 2016

HAPPY 240TH BIRTHDAY USA

To the Hon. Charles P Pierce (title bestowed by me): This superb post is an example of why I read your blog. The patriotic holidays leave me in such a state of inner conflict that I have no words for the celebratory days. I made a sign for my Facebook page that says, "HAPPY 240TH BIRTHDAY USA" (below right), and that was it. Your post expresses in words what is in my mind and heart on this holiday especially. You did the homework and added your own eloquent words to form the perfect post.


Peace and thank you, Brother Pierce and thank you:

Marcy Otis Warren
Frederick Douglass
Susan B. Anthony
Martin Luther King
Lyndon B Johnson

There's no way to do Pierce's post justice except by reading it in its splendid entirety, with quotes from the distinguished names listed above and Pierce's own words.
So, here's to Marcy Otis Warren, and to Frederick Douglass, and to Susan B. and MLK and poor old LBJ, too, kickass women and kickass men who understood that we are children of Revolution, but that this Revolution was based on an enormous bluff that demands to be called by every American generation in its own way. And on this weekend, as we celebrate our independence with bright explosions across the night sky, take a moment and listen for the low rumbling of that land mine in history, detonating again and again, in a thousand places, like a heart that grows stronger with every beat.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

AN...UM...INTERESTING EXPERIENCE


A few weeks ago, Tom drove me to New Orleans to meet with old friends and classmates whom I've known for over 60 years, because my legs are still not up to driving that far.  He drove my car to my daughter's house in River Ridge on the outskirts of NO.  I told him he was not to drive my car anywhere.  He's had two wrecks in NO, one that totaled my car, and another fender bender that cost the earth to repair.  He no longer knows how to drive in the city, if he ever did, farm boy that he was and always will be.  Though I learned to drive in NO, now that I've lived in a small town for so many years, and I am old, driving in the city sets my nerves on edge. so I took a taxi from my daughter's house to Bravo's Restaurant in Metairie and arrived in a calmer state than if I had driven there myself.

On the way home from NO, we had an...um...interesting experience.  We were waiting in traffic in a long line of cars near railroad tracks, and, when the line began to move, Tom moved ahead.  Then we saw the red warning lights flashing that a train was coming.  Tom stopped well short of the tracks but, with not enough time to see if he could back up, the crossing gate came down on top of the car.  No harm done to the car, but the experience was decidedly unnerving.  We made it home without further excitement, thanks be to God and the traffic angels.

Monday, June 13, 2016

IN THE WAKE OF THE ORLANDO, FLORIDA, SHOOTINGS


Last night, I didn't sleep well. I don't have to tell you what made me restless. During the night I woke up several times and thought of the 50 people who were killed in Orlando, Florida, and their grieving families and friends, and I prayed for consolation and and peace for them. I thought of the 53 wounded and their families and friends, and I prayed for healing.

I thought of LGTB friends who, while they have seen progress in acknowledgement of their rights and privileges as citizens of the country, were forcefully reminded yesterday of the hateful and life-threatening prejudice that remains.

I thought of the Founding Fathers who wrote the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution in the days when "well-regulated militia" were allowed to own muzzle-loading muskets. How, in God's name, did we arrived at this moment when citizens (not militia) are permitted to own military style assault weapons? Could the Founding Fathers ever have envisioned or intended us to be where we are now - in a place where, under the guise of 2nd Amendment freedom, people are permitted to own weapons of mass destruction?

If, after 20 children and 6 staff members were shot in their school in Connecticut, we did nothing, then I have little hope that the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the country targeting an LGTB nightclub in Orlando will bring change. But I know this: we can't give up; we can't stop trying for change.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

TRUMP IS YOUR ALBATROSS

When faced with Donald Trump as the nominee of their party, certain GOP politicians give Trump their full endorsement; others say they do not endorse The Donald but they will vote for the nominee of the party; still others say they support the nominee but do not endorse him.  Will someone in the GOP explain to me the difference between endorsing, supporting, and saying you will vote for a candidate?  The choice by Republicans to slice and dice their words is meaningless, because, in the end, they all declare their approval of Trump as the nominee, and they will have to live with that choice.

TalkingPointsMemo keeps score of Republicans in office who endorse, support, or say, "Never Trump".  Prominent Republicans who do not presently hold office, such as members of the Bush family and Mitt Romney, will not endorse, support, or vote for Trump, and I say good for them.  If there is a remnant of the GOP left after the present election, I presume the anti- and pro-Trump forces will have to make up.

The source of the present controversy that divides supporters of Trump are his rants about Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the federal judge who presides over civil litigation trials against Trump University in California, whom Trump labeled a "hater of Trump" and a "Mexican" and called upon the judge to recuse himself.  Judge Curiel was born in Indiana of Mexican immigrant parents who are now naturalized citizens.  Further, the judge is a courageous hero who, in the past, stood up to Mexican drug cartels which resulted in threats to his life, forcing him to live under federal protection for a year.

The latest racist rants by Trump attacking Judge Curiel were too much for some Republican Trump supporters/endorsers, and a number are speaking out against the accusations, calling them what they are - racist. Rather than back down, Trump doubled down in his criticism of Judge Curiel.  Other GOP office holders, including Orrin Hatch and Chris Christie, defended Trump's remarks.  If, in the end, Trump backs down (He will never apologize, as he does not do apologies.), Republicans will still live in fear of his next intemperate tweet or his next intemperate rant when someone gets under his "very thin skin", as Hillary Clinton said in her recent foreign policy speech.

To Republicans who supported, endorsed, or declared they will vote for Trump, he's your albatross. If you choose to withdraw your endorsement, support, or promise of a vote because of some future outrage over Trump's intemperate commentary, he is still your albatross, and he will hang around your necks for the indefinite future.

Monday, May 30, 2016

HONORING THE FALLEN - MEMORIAL DAY, 2016

American casualties returning to Dover AFB

For the past several days, I've been thinking and remembering the the men and women who lost their lives in the many wars over the course of the history of our country and wondering what I might write to pay tribute to them.  Sad to say, new graves for the fallen are still being dug today, for the US seems to be in a place of perpetual war.

Old anti-war songs come to mind like Pete Seeger's "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?", Bob Dylan's "With God on Our Side", and Eric Bogle's "The Green Fields of France".

The other day I read an essay by Jennie Haskemp in the Washington Post titled, "I'm a veteran, and I hate 'Happy Memorial Day.'  Here's why."  The essay is quite moving, but it's a tough read.  Haskemp is a Marine Corps veteran, who lost a number of friends and acquaintances, and she should know.
That’s when it hit me. I’m angry. I’ve come to realize people think Memorial Day is the official start of summer. It’s grilled meat, super-duper discounts, a day (or two) off work, beer, potato salad and porches draped in bunting.

But it shouldn’t be. It’s more than that.

....

How is it then, some century and a half later, after more than a decade of war in two countries that claimed the lives of some 6,861 Americans, we are collectively more concerned with having a barbecue and going shopping than pausing to appreciate the cost of our freedom to do so?


A friend reminded me that plenty of people use the weekend the way it was designed: to pause and remember the men and women who paid the price of our freedom, and then go on about enjoying those freedoms.


But I argue not enough people use it that way. Not enough people pause. Not enough people remember.


I’m frustrated by people all over the country who view the day as anything but a day to remember our WAR DEAD. I hate hearing “Happy Memorial Day.”


It’s not Veterans Day. It’s not military appreciation day. Don’t thank me for my service. Please don’t thank me for my service. It’s take the time to pay homage to the men and women who died while wearing the cloth of this nation you’re so freely enjoying today, day.
Which is what I've been doing for most of the week.  The entire essay is well worth a read.

The photo at the head of the post of the coffins of service members returning to the US from Iraq and Afghanistan to Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware, is memorable, because publication of pictures was banned for 18 years out of concern for the privacy of the families of the fallen, until Defense Secretary of Defense Robert Gates lifted the ban in 2009.  The decision was controversial within the military and within military family organizations
Gates said he came to the conclusion that "we should not presume to make the decision for the families; we should actually let them make it."

Under the new policy, photographs will not be permitted of a coffin if a family says no. The policy is similar to one in place for funerals at Arlington National Cemetery.
....

Jon Soltz, the chairman of VoteVets.org, an anti-Iraq war group that says it has 15,000 military families as members, said he was pleased with the decision.

"So many Americans want to have Memorial Day once a year, when they go to the beach and cook hot dogs in the backyard," Soltz said.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

THE ELITES OF AMERICA

John Dickerson
Usually, I avoid the Sunday morning interview and panel shows, but this morning, I watched Face the Nation with moderator John Dickerson.  The quotes below are from the transcript of the show this morning.

First up was a brief interview with Bernie Sanders, but CBS had given away the best lines from the interview on Saturday, so there was little that was new to me.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) followed.  Johnson supports Trump, but he has his knickers in a bit of a twist over the Muslim ban.  Still, Trump is better than socialism and big government.

The pundit panel offers the same soul-destroying experience that caused me to stop watching years ago.  The participants in the panel may change, but the soul-destruction goes on.  Today, the panel included Jeffery Goldberg, Ruth Marcus, Ron Brownstein,  Mark Leibovich, and last, but not least, Peggy Noonan.

After the folks around the table finished a round of Clinton bashing about the emails, they moved on to Trump.  Conclusion: Trump won't pivot away from his fly by the seat of his pants strategy, because he is simply not able to do so.  His base loves his wildness in saying whatever pops into his head, and that is what gained him the nomination.  Why change what gave him his victory?

Peggy Noonan won first place as the star of the panel show, by offering a few moments of comic relief from the soul-destruction.
Noonan:But I still think the big story that we're talking about here in the e-mail thing is very, very simple. Americans don't really trust Mrs. Clinton to be forthcoming and truthful. That's all in the polls. I forget what words they are, but you know what I mean. When you look at the tape of Mrs. Clinton saying things about the e-mails that have been shown to not of them true in the IG thing, she has been -- I hate to say lied, but she has lied coolly and -- in a creamy, practiced way. It doesn't look good.
Peggums, Peggums, be honest: You know you liked saying "...she lied", or you would not have said it twice. You lie in a not-so-creamy, not-so-practiced way.

Later an exchange about Trump's attack on New Mexico Gov. Suzana Martinez:
NOONAN: And when he makes fun of the official elites of America, in no matter what way, they kind of like it because they don't like us.

BROWNSTEIN: And Mexicans Americans are not the elites of America.


NOONAN: Under -- no, no, but a big personal like Martinez -- do you know what I mean?
Peggums, I get that you think you're among the official elites of America, but, other than that, I don't know what you mean.

I remember Nancy Dickerson, John Dickerson's mother, who was a pioneer as the first woman to appear in in major news broadcasting outlets in the 1950s, and it seems John fell rather far from the tree.

Image from Wikipedia.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

BERNIE SANDERS - STILL LOSING, STILL WHINING


Bernie Sanders was allowed to choose five members of the Platform Committee, and Clinton was allowed to choose six.  In the past, the chair of the DNC picked all 15 members, but Sanders is still dissatisfied.  His lawyers sent a letter to the DNC demanding that the co-chair of the Platform Committee, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, and the co-chair of the Rules Committee, former Rep. Barney Frank, be removed from their positions because they support Clinton.

Good grief!  Nearly everyone at the convention will support either Clinton or Sanders, and the candidate who seems to have little chance of being named the nominee will have fewer supporters than the candidate who has the most votes and the most pledged delegates.  What this latest move amounts to is more whining from Sanders, and haven't we had enough of that?  I know I have.  The two leaders were mean to him, so he wants them removed, or else he threatens to obstruct the business of the convention.  For someone who so recently became a Democrat, this latest action is astonishing.

For me, it is now a question of character for Sanders to threaten to make mischief at the Democratic convention with Donald Trump as the GOP opponent. I hope he's soundly trounced in Pennsylvania and California. And yes, Bernie, I supported you at the beginning of the campaign, but I switched to Hillary months ago. I was yours to have, and you lost me.  If I had not switched to Clinton back then, you would have pushed me away many times over since then.

Here's the link to the video from Rachel Maddow's show on MSNBC.  The segment on the letters from Sanders' lawyers starts about 5 minutes into the video.

And the link to the text of the letter sent to the DNC.