Pandora’s President

Oh. My. God.  How does anyone sit through an entire press conference given by Trump without wondering who ties his shoes every morning?  I just finished watching his presser on declaring an emergency for the southern border, and I don’t think that he even realizes that he killed his defense for the inevitable court cases that are coming.

He declared a national emergency by saying that he didn’t need to declare a national emergency.  In addition, Republican leadership in Congress has basically bent over and lubed themselves and the Constitution with Astroglide by even giving in to the idea of allowing him to do this.  Even pre-president Trump disagrees with his own actions now.

Remember when conservatives cried about Obama shredding the Constitution when he used Executive Power to enact immigration policy?  When will we hear the same cries from those same criers about this act here?  Don’t hold your breath because the current ideology of the GOP is one of bad precedent.  Just look at the actions over the past decade if you doubt me.

In 2008, GOP leadership met in secret and devised the agenda to obstruct the incoming president regardless of his position or ideas.  If he was for something, then they had to be 100% against it.

In 2010, the GOP took control of the House claiming to be fiscally responsible and to repeal the PPACA and provide better health coverage.  It’s 2019, the PPACA is still law, and the GOP have not done jack shit in lowering the cost of healthcare in the US, providing better coverage, or expanding coverage for us.

In 2014, the GOP took control of the Senate.  Controlling both houses, they refused to negotiate with the sitting president that was duly elected TWICE with a majority not seen since the 1950s.  Like him or not, dude was popular with the citizens.  We ended up with a drop in our credit rating as a result of obstinate action from Republicans.

In 2016, the Senate Majority Leader refused to allow Obama to exercise his Constitutional authority in seating a justice on the Supreme Court.  In addition, several Republicans went on record suggesting that they wouldn’t allow Clinton to fill that seat over a 4 year term if she had won the election.

In 2017, the same SML killed the filibuster on voting for Supreme Court justices to allow a Republican to fill a seat that the prior president was not allowed to do.

Now, the same SML has pretty much said the president has the authority of appropriations even though that authority is expressly given to the legislative branch in the Constitution.  So much for an ideology that claims to revere the Constitution.

A decade ago, I was pretty much ambivalent towards ideologies and parties.  Over the past decade, the antics of Republican leaders have pretty much shown me they don’t give a damn about the country, its citizens, or even the Constitution.  All they care about is power and the money that comes with it.  I’ve been accused of being a liberal before, and I’ve always prided myself on being pretty much a centrist.  Now, that has changed.  Until this cancer of a party is removed from our system, I cannot have anything to do with it.  I’ve never associated myself with liars and criminals, and I’m not about to start now.

I really hope the people who elected Pandora’s President understand what they’ve done to this country.  That endorphin rush from the feeling of STIGGINIT to the libs when you put Trump in office won’t be enough to repair the damage that he’s been allowed to do to Constitutional norms and our laws.  I’m not the only one who sees this, and these sentiments come from people all across the spectrum.  When you have lefties, righties, and centrists all agreeing on something, then you should really take notice and heed the warnings.

You can also check out Wilson’s WaPo piece here.  It’s worth the read.

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Yes Virginia, there is racism in America

It’s the year 2019, and we are still having this same debate.  No matter how many times we hash this out, we will undoubtedly do the same thing again sometime in the near future.  That’s just what we do as Americans.  We keep doing the same stupid things over and over without learning from our past to make our futures better.

Racism has no ideology.  It has no political leanings either.  It is as much a founding principle of America as the Constitution itself.  Racism was written into our founding documents and formed the basis of many of our laws and court decisions.  To pretend that it’s not a major issue is nothing more than trying to fool yourself into believing that the sun does not rise.

From Gov. Ralph Northam’s photo to the implicit bias that affects racial disparities in policing, racism colors how we act among ourselves and how we treat others who are different from us.  There’s no reason to continue to tap dance around the issue any longer, so I’ll give my view on how I perceive all these incidents.  You can call it blacksplaining if you wish.

Personally, a blackface incident in 1984 is something that should have never occurred.  In 1984, people knew that blackface was offensive.  Even if you’re within the company of your own friends, you should never engage in something that damn offensive much less allow someone to take a picture of you doing this.  That’s plain damn stupid.

At the same time, if you have voted for or otherwise supported an elected official or political party that condones displays of racist tendencies and attitudes in 2018, you need to STFU with condemnation of an act from 1984 if you’re not doing the same thing for the 2018 acts.  Since you’re a supporter of the 2018 actor(s), then you’re obviously not condemning their acts and the STFU clause applies in full.

Not to paint a broad brush, but many of us black people know that folks exhibit racist tendencies or actions at time.  That even includes people who are associates or even best friends of ours.  That’s human nature at work.  We are capable of perceiving the difference between someone doing or saying something stupid and otherwise being a decent person vs a complete and utter racist a**hole who doesn’t give a crap about us or our lives.  There is a very distinct difference between those two.  When your sanity and sometimes survival relies on your instincts picking up those difference, you tend to become very adept at sensing racists and racism.  As John Blake wrote in a CNN opinion piece, “Some of the biggest champions for black people in America’s past have been white politicians who were racists.”

At one time or another, we have all said or done something that could be offensive to someone of a different race.  We don’t always know what offends other people, so it’s virtually impossible to go through life without offending someone at least once.  So, if you’re sitting there smug within yourself thinking that you’ve never said or done something that may be racially offensive, then you’re doing nothing more than lying to yourself.

We, as Americans know that racism is a problem.

Yet, many of us refuse to take the necessary steps to avoid stepping into the same pile of dog feces and re-enacting this same conversation time and time again.  I’m not suggesting that we wipe out racists or racism because I honestly do not believe that is humanly possible.  What we need to do instead is use these incidents to discuss ways to curtail our latent tendencies to avoid stepping into the same pile of feces over and over.

Let’s learn to love ourselves and those around us.  Do not allow people to goad you into hating an entire group of people over the actions of a bad actor or two.  That’s basically how racism grows.  One black man doing something bad does not mean that all black men are the same way.  One white man saying or doing something bad does not mean that all white men are the same way.  Don’t lose sight of the fact that racism also extends beyond the black/white paradigm too.  Asians, Native Americans, and others also shoulder the burden of racial animosity as well.  Let’s learn to treat each other as individuals and not stereotypes.  Then, let’s teach that to the next generation so they can teach their kids as well.

Update 2/5/19 8:15pm EST:

After watching ABC Nightly News, I had two additional trains of thought that I needed to add here, so forgive me in making this post longer than it already was.  I believe these thoughts pair well with a discussion on racism and how we, as a country, are loath to deal with the issues head on.

Today would have been Trayvon Benjamin Martin’s 24th birthday if he were still alive.  People wrongly associate George Zimmerman’s defense with the Stand Your Ground law, but his defense did not invoke that law at all.  However, what you never hear anyone mention is that Trayvon also had the right to stand his ground in self-defense with someone stalking him while he was walking home from the store.  Why does one get the presumption of the law while the victim does not?  That’s how discretely bias works in human psyche.

In a separate case, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall announced that the Hoover, AL police officer who shot and killed Emantic Fitzgerald “EJ” Bradford Jr. will not face any charges as a result of his actions.  I expected the shooting to be deemed as a justified shooting, but that still doesn’t undo the sometimes heavy-handed response that officers have when suspected perpetrators are black.  There have been numerous studies on implicit bias and how it affects policing.  Implicit bias shows up in several forms and is not exclusive to race only.

I know it often boils down to a training issue, but it boils my blood to see innocent people like Bradford, Crawford, Rice, Scott, and others die unnecessarily at the hands of police while other people have committed mass killings of innocent people and are captured alive, often without any injury at all.  As long as we continue to ostrich this stuff because we’re not personally affected, the trends will continue.  As a sworn officer myself, I understand the split second decision-making issue that’s compounded by the stress of the situation.  We cannot allow that to be a crutch when we have scientific evidence of an existing problem with the decision-making process, and we can use that evidence to slow the trend of innocent citizens being killed.  We owe it to ourselves and our kids.

Second and final update 2/5/19 8:30pm EST:

Liam Neeson should be praised for his brutal honesty involving race, IMHO.  Instead, he’s being castigated for being open enough to say out loud what many others have thought to themselves.  People need to take an extra minute to consider his entire story before going all Samuel L. Jackson angry at him.  When you take in the totality of the circumstances, there are several lessons to be learned.

Yes, he went out seeking a chance to unleash holy hell on a black person to get revenge for someone close to him being attacked.  What people fail to consider is that, by his own admission, he walked around for a week in areas where he expected to be confronted with a situation where he could “defend” himself against a black man.  Yet, an entire week went by without a single, solitary black man doing anything to him that would give him an excuse to beat someone down.

*Housekeeping note:  I’ll try to post as I can for the near future.  I changed shifts, and I won’t always have the time to keep fresh sheets on the bed.  I’ll do what I can to counter the moderated posts as well.

A letter to America

Now that the McConnell/Ryan/Trump shutdown is over, what’s next?  Yes, I place the blame for this shutdown squarely on the actions of the GOP.  We basically sat through a 35 day temper tantrum which was ended by the same agreement that the US Senate voted for 100-0 prior to the shutdown began last December.  In that agreement, a continuing resolution would fund the government for a few weeks to give Congress time to come up with a border security deal.  That agreement gave zero dollars for a border wall.

As we know, the Senate passed that agreement last December.  The Senate passed this agreement after assurances from VP Pence told the Senate that the White House was okay with this legislation.  Former Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan promptly threw fecal matter into the fan by passing a separate bill including funding for a wall.  Then he ran away from DC, never to be heard from again like a damn coward.  Even with Trump changing his mind and saying that he wouldn’t sign the bill, that bill could have easily been passed over a veto and avoided this entire catastraphuck.

Instead, we’ve endured a 35 day shutdown in which the Congressional Budget Office estimates cost the economy $11 billion dollars, $3 billion of which will not be recouped.  All this happened over a wall.  So, with a 3 week agreement in place, what do we do now?  How do we go forward as a country to ensure that our workers are no longer used as hostages for political gain?  How do we stop the weaponizing of the budgeting process to force ideology when it is not wanted by the majority of the country?

One good thing is that now we can bury the bullcrap that government workers are useless bureaucrats.  Let’s see how well the private sector works when there are no planes flying around.  Let’s see how well those businesses function when there’s no cargo coming in through our ports.  Many knew this already, but the Reagan crowd still does not appear to understand how much of a role federal workers play in daily life in this country.  We’re not super heroes or anything, but we are also not worthless and lazy workers either.

We also go to see the great negotiator in action.  How did he do?  He basically held his breath for 35 days and ended up eating his peas like Pelosi told him to.  When a man allows his ego or feelings to control his decision making, it’s a matter of time before things go bad for that man.

We also learned how far out of touch this administration is with average working Americans.  We saw several different ways to say “let them eat cake” from administration officials as well as Trump family members.  I mean, why go to a food bank to get food when you can simply just go get a bridge loan to hold you over until whenever you eventually get paid, amirite?  It’s only a little pain now for the good of the country later on.

It’s not like we were not warned about any of this beforehand.  From the puppet comment during the debate to the unveiling of the Trump/Pence campaign logo:

We knew that Trump would screw America over.  We simply did not know how much or for how long.

And, for the record, no I am not a fan of this administration.  That still has no bearing on me getting up out of my bed every morning, putting on my uniform, and going to work to do my due diligence at keeping my country safe.  I’ve worked under two previous presidents, and I will likely see two or three more before I retire.  When I work, I don’t see ideology.  I see the law.  I see right and wrong, and my actions are done to ensure the protection and enforcement of the Constitution regardless of party or ideology.

Finally, a thank you to friends, family, acquaintances, and even the strangers who expressed empathy for the people who had to endure the brunt of this shutdown.  The generosity will not be forgotten at all.  I saw the qualities that makes America the great country it is during this time.  I also saw the ugly in some people who drag America down and reinforces the negative stereotypes of Americans.  Don’t let ugly win, and don’t allow our country to be hijacked by ideological idiots either.

I can’t even…

Things have been a bit busier than normal because of the current shutdown, so my apologies for not getting new posts up for days.  Also, my apologies for the Trump related stuff as I believe he intentionally does things to garner all the attention possible.  I want to do my best to avoid giving him anything, but today I see that he retweeted this post from his son.

I went to read the article because it’s “worth the read” and my first question is why would the current president co-sign and retweet a message saying that someone believes the majority of federal workers who are furloughed should be fired or not come back to work at all?  Imagine the outcome of things if Mary Barra of GM or Steve Easterbrook of McDonald’s took actions to not pay their employees for almost a month and then retweeted a link to an article suggesting the majority of their employees should not return and look elsewhere for employment.

From the beginning of the article until the end, I found myself floored at the ideas being pushed when considering the president feels that it was worth people’s time to read.

As one of the senior officials working without a paycheck, a few words of advice for the president’s next move at shuttered government agencies: lock the doors, sell the furniture, and cut them down.

Federal employees are starting to feel the strain of the shutdown. I am one of them. But for the sake of our nation, I hope it lasts a very long time, till the government is changed and can never return to its previous form.

The lapse in appropriations is more than a battle over a wall. It is an opportunity to strip wasteful government agencies for good.

Most of my career colleagues actively work against the president’s agenda. This means I typically spend about 15 percent of my time on the president’s agenda and 85 percent of my time trying to stop sabotage, and we have no power to get rid of them. Until the shutdown.

But President Trump can end this abuse. Senior officials can reprioritize during an extended shutdown, focus on valuable results and weed out the saboteurs. We do not want most employees to return, because we are working better without them. Sure, we empathize with families making tough financial decisions, like mine, and just like private citizens who have to find other work and bring competitive value every day, while paying more than a third of their salary in federal taxes.

President Trump has created more jobs in the private sector than the furloughed federal workforce. Now that we are shut down, not only are we identifying and eliminating much of the sabotage and waste, but we are finally working on the president’s agenda.

I apologize for posting even that much of this opinion piece from The Daily Caller, but I posted those to show how not ready for governing that this administration is and it is a danger to the country to allow things to continue to deteriorate.

First and foremost, our government has worked damn good with all things considering for the 88,583 days and counting that this country has existed.  There’s no reason to change things now.  In addition, our government has worked because the people who help ensure it works does not work for the president, the vice president, or any other elected official.  The workers themselves take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution itself.

A president’s agenda is his own personal agenda.  That is not the governing ideology for the country.  We are a country of laws and we operate according to the principles espoused by the Constitution.  If a president’s agenda runs contrary to law or the Constitution, then that president’s agenda loses.  Point blank.

In addition, the jackass who wrote this opinion piece thinks that the current shutdown is eliminating waste and stripping government agencies.  The problem with that line of thinking is clearly shown by looking no further than the department which contains the agencies responsible for enforcing immigration law.  Within the Department of Homeland Security, 87% of the staff are considered essential and therefore exempt from being furloughed.  So, while you think you have unnecessary people sitting at home, you actually have damn near an entire department working without pay which may be a violation of US labor law.

This case is from the 2013 shutdown, and a judge ruled this case in favor of the federal workers.  There were about 25,000 who signed on to that lawsuit.  I can tell you that far more current workers know about that lawsuit and are simply waiting for the 2018-2019 case to be filed.

All of this just to push an agenda?  How about you actually put forth an agenda that works for America and falls within the Constitution itself.  Most career workers have political biases.  However, when you spend 20-30 years working for the feds, most don’t give a damn about any particular president’s agenda.  Considering this president is the first that I can recall to ever have the country’s preeminent law enforcement agency, the FBI, to question his loyalty to America, I can understand why some random “senior official” has such concerns over people not wanting to work on the president’s agenda.

At this point, I refuse to let anyone make me question my faith.  I have faith that God (Insert the name of your preferred deity here) will ensure that we survive all the crap going on now.  It’s not fun listening to your co-workers wondering how long they can continue working before they run out of money.  It’s not easy remaining composed when you hear people bad mouthing federal workers about their financial situations when there’s not been a single person who has stepped forward and stated they would trade places with any of us and work without getting paid for an extended period of time.

The past month has allowed me to see the good and great in many people where I likely would not have seen it before.  Likewise, I’ve also seen the ugly side of my fellow Americans.  We will soon need a leader that can unify the country.  The division and discord cannot continue for much longer before we explode into violence like a powder keg.  As much as I try to avoid and ignore the attention seeker, pushing opinion pieces like he did today makes it very hard to avoid.  One saving grace about working for the federal government is the knowledge that your current leader won’t be there indefinitely.  They are always replaced.

A crises of crisis

According to the current president, America is facing a crisis.  The stated crisis changes depending on the mood, day, or change in wind direction.  The current alarm is the border crisis.  This crisis is a mashup of a mix of terrorism, illegal immigration, humanitarian need, and illicit drug smuggling.  The one solution to solve all of these is a wall.  A $5 billion wall.  I generally avoid topics this close to work, but the conditions now are such that I just need to vent.  So bear with me for a while.

We’re hearing about how the southern border apparently is the new and improved Wild Wild West.  If we are to believe the hype, there are all kinds of bad guys and such running through the desert with drugs in vans full of illegal immigrants all making that left turn to enter America.  If this is true, then why are apprehensions along the Southwest border dropping?

Chart from NPR story/3 Charts That Show What’s Actually Happening Along The Southern Border

That is not to suggest that illegal immigration is not an issue, but the issue obviously goes far and beyond the Southwestern border.  At no point in the argument over a border wall has the president or his supporters offered any support or assistance in trying to deal with the issue of visa overstays.  Visa overstays are also a big contributor to the total of undocumented or illegal immigrants that we have in this country.  What does a wall do to stop someone from entering the country through a port of entry with a legal visa and then deciding to never leave?

What’s going on is we’re getting bombarded by cries of crisis after crisis after crisis.  It appears that the intent is to end up with fatigue or apathy taking root and folks just tuning things out.  There may be some legitimate issues, but we are far from any crisis situation.  The only crisis is the hype coming from the people who are trying to gin up fear.

What sense does it make to claim there’s this illegal immigration crisis and then threaten to withhold the pay from the people who actually enforce the immigration laws?  Has there not been one single person to suggest that it might not be a good idea to demoralize or anger the people who are the ones that would clean up this crisis in the first place?

Before the midterm election, I felt that 2019 could end up being a violent year.  There are people who are unnecessarily provoking situations that could lead to outbreaks of violence.  The longer this shutdown and temper tantrum over a wall goes on, the more I feel the probability of violent acts increase in this country.  It doesn’t have to be someone protesting and breaking out into a riot.  What happens when federal officers who work for the Bureau of Prisons can no longer tolerate working without pay and not show up?  Have you seen what happens inside of maximum security prisons when the guards are not there?

This country is better than what we’re seeing now.  We don’t need bumper sticker solutions and suggestions.  This country was built up by people who actually engaged their brains and came up with creative ideas and compromised to do what was the best for the country.  Now, we’ve devolved into a country where having the memory of a goldfish and the intelligence of a rock is something to be celebrated.

The express train of crisis that we’re seeing isn’t real in the sense that they are all emergency crisis situations.  Cooler heads would have already figured out solutions to take care of things without disrupting society by creating chaos.  What we’re seeing is a person who thrives on chaos wallowing in the pit of his own creation and bringing us all down to his level.  Don’t fall for it.  Seek out thinkers who can take care of this without the unnecessary creation of daily catastraf**ks.  America would be much better if we all did that.