Again. We. Were. Warned.

Remember me?

I’ve been trying to write this one since the assaults on the two mosques in New Zealand, but I kept having a nagging feeling that the words I wanted to say were not original.  They were my own words, but I had that feeling of deja vu like I had written those sentiments already.  So, I went through my archives on a hunch tonight, and lo and behold, I came across this little gem here that explained that nagging feeling inside my brain that I was trying to understand.

We were warned, but we refused to listen

I wrote that on April 14, 2014 which was the day after a white supremacist killed three people near and at the Overland Park Jewish Community Center.

I decided to read it again to see if that post was the source of my writer’s frustration, and I feel that I could simply update the stats and call it a night.  Five years (almost to the day) after that post and ten years since the release of the DHS report titled Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment, it seems that we still refuse to listen to the canary in the mine while it is chirping its ass off.  As a matter of fact, I’d go as far to say that canary has basically said eff it and flown off to safety on its own.

The same contributing factors that existed then are still in play today minus the black American president.  We’ve since replaced him with a white American president who has green lighted white supremacy in his words and actions.  The economic anxiety is still there now.  That anxiety also runs parallel with that anxiety that some have of no longer being the “majority” in America.  I laugh at that because that infers that being considered a minority is equitable with being considered to be inferior when we’ve been told countless times that minority does not mean inferior by the same group of people.

The problem with the 10 year gap however is that the rise in extremism isn’t just an American thing anymore.  This is not some sickness that’s confined within our national boundaries.  Thanks to the internet, anyone can self-radicalize at any point where they can access the internet.  We’re seeing a rise in right wing violence in all directions of the world from Europe to now New Zealand.

Some people choose to not say the shooter’s names after these incidents to avoid giving them any time in the light.  I used to think that way, but then I looked back on how that worked in the past.  People remained silent during the Red Summer of 1919 when innocent people died at the hands of white supremacists.  Even in the 1960s, we saw the justice system look the other way when white supremacists killed with reckless abandon.  Not saying their names or speaking of their evil deeds does nothing more but give them the freedom to continue their murderous ways.  I think we need to adopt a new strategy if we want different results than what we had before.

The way to fight ideas is with better ideas.  White supremacy is nothing more than an idea.  It is not real.  It is not factual.  Don’t cower from these people.  Blast their names in the news.  Talk about the evil they’ve done.  I’d go as far as to say that we need to quit sanitizing the news and show the graphic nature of these incidents without filters or blurred images.  The evilness of these killings need to be burned into the brains of us all to remind us that evil exists.

At the same time, we need to counter that evil with better ideas and examples to show that we can all co-exist without killing each other.  No single race is superior.  We are all the same.  The only things that makes us different is our ability to learn and adapt to our environments.  I’m trying to teach my oldest child that doing the same thing over and over again will get you the same results over and over again.  Judging how things have gone over the past 10 years, it seems that she isn’t the only person who needs to learn that lesson.

In 2009, Republicans and conservatives whined and complained enough about that one report that it got ignored and the part of the FBI that was tracking right wing extremism got disbanded.  Think of how many lives we could have saved had President Obama not caved in to placate a bunch of crybabies.  Don’t expect any of the crybabies to own up or apologize for this either.  They will never admit to being wrong, even with the mounting body count to prove them wrong.

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The president that Republicans and conservatives desperately need right now

Driving home from work this morning, I was thinking back to a piece I wrote back in 2017.  Six months into his term, I wrote an essay on Trump and why I thought that he was The president America rightly deserves.  When I got home and re-read it, I felt that it needed to be updated a bit.  Although, I still have my reasons to believe that Trump is exactly the president that America deserves to have in office right now, I feel that it’s more important that Republicans need Trump.  They desperately need someone like Trump in office right now, but it’s likely not for the reasons you’d think.  Give me a minute to explain.

Whether they want to admit it or not, most Republicans and conservatives are in quite a pickle right now.  The overwhelming support for Trump directly contradicts the image the GOP has tried to cultivate for itself over the past generation as the staunch defenders of the Constitution and American way of life.  Remember the pocket Constitutions that Republicans used to carry and wave around as props?  Where are they now?  Have you seen any of them hold one up to view since January 20, 2017?

Trump is the perfect test case for testing the limits of political power vs Constitutional authority and norms.  Since he’s taken office, Constitutional norms have disappeared from the GOP lexicon.  The GOP-controlled Congress ceded their Constitutional authority and power to allow Trump to do as he pleased with no push back at all.  As a result of that, we see Trump’s former lawyer heading to prison for lying to that same GOP-controlled Congress over issues that appear to show that Trump may have broken laws after he took the oath of office as well as before that time.  Now, some of those same Republicans want to cry foul over the moves made by the Democratic-controlled House to investigate these potential violations.

Most recently, we’re hearing that Trump ordered his daughter and son-in-law to receive security clearances after background investigations flagged them both as not meeting the necessary requirements to be granted those clearances.  I’ll be the first to admit that the president does have that authority to grant those clearances in that instance.  Considering the current president AND his party made the 2016 election all about classified information security, you would think caution would be the play in this case as opposed to giving a finger to the process that’s been in place to guard our secrets.

Hillary Clinton’s emails?  Give me an effin’ break about that now.  That dog won’t hunt.  Reality Winner’s leak?  So much for that one too, huh?  Edward Snowden?  Bradley/Chelsea Manning?  The list goes on and on in regards to security clearances and violators.  Now, Trump has turned the whole security clearance process into a joke.  There was even wide reporting on how some countries sought to leverage knowledge on Kushner to help with their negotiations.  God only knows if we’ll pay dearly for this one.

Even beyond the security clearance issue, there the Emoluments Clause to deal with.  Don’t forget the Muslim ban.  There’s the immigration “emergency” which led to parent/child separations at the border as well as the recent emergency declaration to reallocate funding to build a wall on the southern border.  On the horizon, there’s the issue with Hoda Muthana’s citizenship and whether she will be allowed to return to the US and face justice over her actions.

Republicans long portrayed themselves as defenders of the Constitution and the party of competent governance.  We’ve all heard about their fiscal stewardship and other things.  We’ve listened to them warn about the socialism and other boogeymen we’d face if we did not keep them in control of the government.  All of that is garbage when you look at how the GOP has abandoned the Constitution altogether and turned to Trumpism.  I saw the GOP as completely giving up on the Constitution as soon as they decided to go along with Trump’s emergency declaration for the wall.  They were already turning their backs to the document, but that cemented the deal.

Donald Trump is exactly what the GOP needs now.  They are at a crossroad where they have to decide on whether they love the Constitution or whether they love Trump.  There is not room for both, especially considering how Trump has behaved thus far while in office.  If I felt that Trump was able to change, I wouldn’t see this as an either-or choice for Republicans.  There was evidence before the election to point out that Trump wasn’t fit to be president, but they voted him into office anyway.  Now the country, especially Republicans, have to deal with this.

Just as the dilemma posed in the short story “The Lady, or the Tiger?”, Republicans are facing two stark and distinct choices.  Unlike the lead in that story, the GOP has a clear view of their choices and the ramifications of their choice.  The moral dilemma boils down to whether they want power or sound governance.

Cohen speaks, will America believe him?

I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is.
He is a racist.
He is a conman.
He is a cheat.

With those words, the firestorm begins.  Michael Cohen, the guy who once stated he would take a bullet for Trump, is now putting his finger on the hypothetical and proverbial trigger of that gun himself.  This is a guy who has been with Trump long enough to be able to classify the soil of all the Trump dirt as well as tell the stories of the skeletons in the closet.  Listening to the opening remarks from the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee, this will undoubtedly be a partisan affair.  One side will try to get to the truth.  The other side will attack the credibility of Cohen.

America needs this, but we don’t need the BS that Rep. Jordan and others are trying to do.  If you believe Cohen is lying, then just say so and don’t ask him any questions.  If you want to find out whether or not he’s being truthful now, then you need to ask questions to see.

The reason why Cohen is going to prison is because he lied to Congress.  He lied to the Republican controlled Congress who basically held kangaroo court hearings over two years instead of doing their job of oversight of the Executive Branch.  There was a very noticeable difference between the oversight conducted on Obama vs Trump.  There should not have been any different considering the same people were in control of Congress during Obama’s last two years and Trump’s first two.

Today marks the beginning of the change people voted for in November.  Cohen is a tainted witness because of his conviction.  That said, he appears to be setting himself up to be this generation’s version of John Dean.  At this point in time, he has nothing to gain by lying to Congress.  He’s already going to prison for that.  Spurned by the guy that he worked so hard to protect, why would he not be completely honest and tell all that he knows?  It’s not like he will be employed by Trump again.  There’s no need to take that bullet any more.

Cohen’s full opening statement can be found here.

Update 11:40am EST:

Based on the first few volleys from the committee members, it appears that the Democrats are asking questions to get Cohen to spill the beans on Trump’s actions during the campaign and first year or so in office.  On the other hand, Republicans appear to have settled on attacking Cohen’s credibility.  Both tactics do have drawbacks.

For the Dems, they need to let Cohen correct his previous testimony to set the record straight as best as he can.  Let him delve into the Trump issues without them directly going there first.  That way, they don’t come off as being all about a “witch hunt” as opposed to truth seeking.

For the GOP, they need to take heed to the past.  Attacking the credibility of a member of a crime family doesn’t work quite often.  Mob bosses have been put away by informants who were members of their own crime families that were convicted of crimes themselves.  This is not a court proceeding, but people remember the stories of folks like Sammy the Bull and Frank Lucas.

Friday night jam session

It’s after 5pm, and another week is done.  It was a long one that ended in a flurry of arrests, indictments, and charges flying faster than kicks in a Bruce Lee movie.

In honor of today’s raining of justice, I had a few different songs in mind.  There’s Sabotage by the Beastie Boys because who doesn’t think Cochise and The Chief kicks ass.  There’s always Judas Priest’s Breaking the Law just because…

I considered Elvis Presley and Jailhouse Rock as well as Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues. There’s something about rock music and jail that just seems to go together like peanut butter and jelly.  I even considered going the hip hop route.  Snoop Dog’s Murder Was the Case didn’t quite fit.  Public Enemy’s Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos wasn’t quite upbeat enough to be celebration music.

In the end, I decided on something a bit more upbeat.  So, here’s to you Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Robert Kraft, Robert Kelly, Christopher Hasson, Jussie Smollett, and every other person who decided to tangle with the justice system this week.  I know justice isn’t always blind, swift, or applied correctly, but hopefully you all will get exactly what you have coming to you.  That also includes you unindicted co-conspirators as well.  May the waves from the ocean of justice come crashing down over your heads a million times over.

No amount of money or prestige should ever shield anyone from facing justice in this country.  The moment we allow justice to depend on power, money, or social status, then we no longer exist as the United States of America.  I’m going to drink a beer or two in hopes of seeing the guilty all get the punishment they’ve worked to achieve.  Enjoy the weekend.

 

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.