Ignoring Emoluments? #ImpeachTrump

I mean, what exactly does somebody like Trump pray for?

I want to hear him lead a prayer for the people he called our enemies.

I want to know how that goes. If he’s going to offer up “thoughts and prayers,” well let’s have the details then. C’mon. – Stonekettle Station on Facebook

We’ve heard the phrase constitutional crisis all our lives. It’s a phrase I’ve heard and seen attached to many different people for many different reasons over the course of my 50+ years. The phrase is more than just a little misleading. As I’ve heard several pundits note in the last few years, the United States is always in a constitutional crisis because there is always someone out there doing something that is questionable from a constitutional basis. But the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) represents a level of disregard for lawful behavior that shocks even a dyed-in-the-wool non-conformist like myself.

Jim’s quote concerning the Capital Gazette mass shooting is typical for the everyday crisis we deal with in Trump’s America. The recitation of the conservative mantra of thoughts and prayers after tragedies rang hollow even before the current level of disdain for lawful behavior was exhibited by the most corrupt and compromised leader in US history. To hear those words come out of his mouth is to need to dig your own ears out with an icepick. A sentiment that any tinnitus sufferer can sympathize with.

The Hill

Funny thing though. Funny thing. Just last night, at yet another political rally, President Trump was telling us, yet again, how the Press — the PRESS — is the enemy of America. – Stonekettle Station on Facebook

I too would like to know what kind of prayers the OHM might offer because; frankly, I can’t imagine him ever praying to anyone or anything. The very notion that he would willingly bend a knee in supplication at any time is foreign to the machismo that he tries to present. That he could put words into a supplication that didn’t sound as false as every other thing he says, making the prayer a mockery, baffles even my (ahem) yuge imagination.

While he’s airing the laundry, as Jim suggests, laundry like his secret thoughts and prayers, perhaps he’d do the people he’s supposed to serve, the American people, a few other favors?

Like what?

Let’s start with other things mentioned in the Constitution. The document that contains that holiest of holy conservative amendments, the Second Amendment, outlines pretty succinctly the kind of strictures that a holder of the office of President must comply with. Not the first amendment, I split that portion of the Constitutional Crisis out and made it its own post. Not engaging in political assassination on a level that would even put Nixon to shame. That also is its own post now. Not even the failure to protect the general health and welfare of the citizens of the United states. That could become many posts all on its own because the list just keeps getting longer. For now it is simply a recitation of the suffering of the people of Puerto Rico. People who still haven’t seen the relief promised by the OHM over a year ago.

No I’m talking about an obscure little clause in the Constitution that hasn’t needed to be litigated until today, largely because no president before the OHM was so brazen as to believe he could flaunt law in the way that he has so far in his presidency. Not since Ol’ Hickory had his agents buy up lands formerly set aside for native Americans in Georgia have we seen profit taking on this level. I’m talking about emoluments, dear reader. Emoluments yet again. Would the OHM mind too much doing we the people the courtesy of releasing his financial statements and clue us in on who is paying him how much and for which favors? He swore an oath to uphold the Constitution that requires this of him, but his lackeys are still telling us how they can’t be bothered to comply with the requirements of the Constitution.

“To fully and completely identify all patronage at our Properties by customer type is impractical in the service industry and putting forth a policy that requires all guests to identify themselves would impede upon personal privacy and diminish the guest experience of our brand,” the Trump Organization wrote in its policy pamphlet, which the company’s chief compliance officer said had been distributed to general managers and senior officials at all of its properties. – The Atlantic, ‘Not Practical’ to Comply With the Emoluments Clause 

So while he’s out there offering thoughts and prayers to obscure the blood all over his interpretation of the Second Amendment, maybe he could do the other things that document requires and inform us of just who’s pockets he is in? It’s not too much to ask. Lyin’ Hillary as the OHM refers to her, released 40 years of her financial records to the press, a fact that the press took full advantage of, using it (among other things) to beat her down at the polls. Using her openness to keep her from becoming President. Did I trust Hillary Clinton? No. But then I didn’t have to. Her history was an open book. Her excesses were known. Her habits had been gauged. She would have at least been predictable, would at least have not worked to destroy the world as we’ve come to know it, in the first year of her presidency. All of which is more than I can say about the OHM.

He won’t reveal his financials even though every modern president before him has done this. He won’t tell us who is paying him now, much less who was paying him in the past, refusing to divulge information that has always been public record for elected officials including presidents. This is much more of a crisis than anything else that he’s done or failed to do in office. It is at the heart of his malfeasance and he won’t tell us because he knows just how dirty his financial records are. So either he has to divest himself of all his properties now, declare all his finances, now, or he has to be impeached, now.

Countable

Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell of California has introduced a bill that would make it a criminal offense for the president and his family to “enrich themselves by using his presidency.”

The Prevent Corrupting Foreign Influence Act would “significantly improve upon the existing ban on America’s highest elected officials receiving financial benefits from foreign powers.”

“Unlike other presidents, Donald Trump has failed to distance himself from his private business interests while serving our nation, and so he and his family are getting richer from Trump companies that receive money and benefits from foreign powers,” Swalwell said. – Countable

Being a United States public official is lucrative enough without resorting to the kleptocratic tactics that the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) his appointees and his family have exhibited. The emoluments clause is in the Constitution for this reason, and the ban on all gifts should be applied to all public offices, not just the president and his administration. The OHM is violating the constitution, has been actively violating the oath he swore to protect and defend the Constitution since he swore it last January. Oaths don’t get any more broken the longer they stay broken. If we don’t respect the law, then the law ceases to have meaning. The Republican party has put lawlessness on display for all to see, while trumpeting their status as the “rule of law” party. They have made a mockery of the United States. It is time to take back our government from them.

The Washington Post

The previously unreported letter — describing a five-day stay in March that was enough to boost the hotel’s revenue for the entire quarter — shows how little is known about the business that the president’s company does with foreign officials.
Such transactions have fueled criticism that Trump is reaping revenue from foreign governments, even as he controls U.S. foreign policy toward those countries. Trump’s company has disclosed few details about the business it does with foreign customers, saying it already reveals more than is required.

This is direct evidence of the OHM’s violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution. Payments directly to Trump from a foreign leader. This is bribery. This is corruption. The Nazi wannabes in congress who are members of the OHM’s party, representatives of the American people who will not move to impeach this poor, white, excuse for a president, are themselves violating their oaths to preserve and protect the constitution of the United States. All of them should be impeached, not just their president. This is the highest crime committed in the United States in my lifetime. That the Republican representatives in congress refuse to act says a lot more about them and their base than they realize.


The Ezra Klein Show, Taking Trump’s Corruption Seriously, August 2, 2018

If there is some scandal lurking that’s going to derail the Trump administration, I think it’s going to be found by following the money, not by following the Russian bots.

Adam Davidson has been investigating this since Trump’s election. If you’re an avid podcast listener, you probably know Adam from his days at Planet Money. He’s now at the New Yorker, doing some of the best investigative work on the Trump Organization. You’ll want to hear what he’s found.

A lot of what is documented by Adam Davidson echoes the kinds of things I was alluding to in Caveat Emptor  in January of 2017. The OHM is dirty, has always been dirty. That is the kind of business he conducts, and this isn’t a secret in any real sense. It was only a matter of time till this evidence became news, and brought down his corrupt administration. The only question is, will the truth arrive in time to save the US from itself, or will the OHM have made such a mess of things that we cannot recover from it?

#TrumpTaxes2018

This was originally part of another article that I have now broken into three parts and embroidered on all three. 

Threatening First Amendment Rights? #ImpeachTrump

I mean, what exactly does somebody like Trump pray for?

I want to hear him lead a prayer for the people he called our enemies.

I want to know how that goes. If he’s going to offer up “thoughts and prayers,” well let’s have the details then. C’mon. – Stonekettle Station on Facebook

Jim’s quote concerning the Capital Gazette mass shooting is typical for the everyday crisis we deal with in Trump’s America. The recitation of the conservative mantra of thoughts and prayers after tragedies rang hollow even before the current level of disdain for lawful behavior was exhibited by the most corrupt and compromised leader in US history. To hear those words come out of his mouth is to need to dig your own ears out with an icepick. It offends the senses. It is so obvious a lie, this fakir pretending that he prays for anything, this narcissist, this solipsist? There is nothing greater in his mind than he is, how could he possibly pray to anyone or anything?

The Hill

Funny thing though. Funny thing. Just last night, at yet another political rally, President Trump was telling us, yet again, how the Press — the PRESS — is the enemy of America. – Stonekettle Station on Facebook

I can’t put too fine a point on this one. When the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) trotted out the phrase enemy of the people and applied it to the United States free press, the world’s free press, inspiring acts of hatred across the world in response including the deaths of five people in Washington DC, that was the moment when the very notion that the OHM could be allowed to leave office unmolested ceased to have any weight. No one who utters that phrase from a position of authority can be trusted unsupervised from that point forward. His time as a free man has come to an end. It is merely a matter of time now before he will be in shackles and facing the judgement of the American people for his assorted crimes. Unlike Hillary Clinton, the OHM has committed crimes, and it didn’t take four years of fruitless investigation to prove this.


On The Media Enemy of the People August 3, 2018

At a rally in Tampa, Florida, Trump supporters attacked CNN reporter Jim Acosta, prompting the president to double down on his anti-press “Enemy of the People” rhetoric. A look at how and why the president incites his base — and where it all might lead. And, as the regulatory battle surrounding 3D gun blueprints rages on, we dive into the worldview of Cody Wilson, the man who started the controversy. Plus, why we’re still living in the aftermath of Trayvon Martin’s killing, six years later.

Fivethirtyeight Politics Podcast: Should The Press Respond To Trump’s Attacks? AUG. 6, 2018, AT 5:19 PM

President Trump’s attacks on the press have reached a new level in recent weeks. On Sunday, he called the press, “very dangerous & sick” and wrote that the media can “cause War.” The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast team talks about what the goal of the president’s rhetoric is and how the press should respond.

Are there limits on speech under the first amendment? Yes. Yes there are. You won’t hear about those real limits from the OHM or from any conservative pundit in the US today. None of the news organizations, not even FOX, have breached those limits. Football players peacefully protesting by taking a knee have not breached those limits. Yelling fire in a burning theater doesn’t breach those limits. What are those limits, then? Threatening violence. Inciting a riot. Falsifying data in pursuit of personal gain. In other words, what the OHM does nearly every time he rage tweets.

If *I* threatened violence like Trump does on social media, Twitter and Facebook would suspend my accounts, no matter what the provocation was. Hell, both platforms have suspended me for far, far less.

It’s not just that Twitter continues to protect this lunatic, the REALLY insane part: NO ONE IN THE ADMINISTRATION NOR IN CONGRESS has so far addressed this madness.

No republican. No democrat.

Congress has abdicated its duty to America.

We reached a point where it’s not enough to throw Trump out of office, CONGRESS needs to be replaced in its entirety. If you sons of bitches don’t show up this time and remove these faithless cowards from office, if you don’t start electing better people, then you are complicit in the destruction of the Republic.  – Stonekettle Station on Facebook

As I said previously elsewhere “Imagine the difference we would see in the world around us if authorities had arrested Donald Trump the first time he incited a riot?” Because he has done that. He’s done it more than once, and no one has ever suggested he be prosecuted. His social media accounts should be banned for violating clearly stated boundaries on those media systems. Do not just suspend his accounts, ban them. He should be kicked out of every decent establishment in society along with anyone who sides with him publicly. The cost will be higher now than it would have been back in the campaign days. Higher on all sides, unfortunately. But he has to go. We cannot allow him to go unpunished. Allowing him to walk away without exacting a price on his behavior from him will send the wrong message and leave us unprotected from the next demagogue to come along thinking they will use the system for their own ends. This has to be stopped here, and it should have been stopped before he took the oath of office because we knew he was dirty even then.


August 2nd, 2018 at 3:00 AM Putin Enemy #1 (with Bill Browder) Stay Tuned with Preet

#TrumpEnemyofthePeople not the free press. Not the protestors. Not the liberals. The OHM is the enemy of the people, and it is about time we recognized this fact and demanded he be removed from office. Before he does something the system will not recover from.

This was originally part of another article that I have now broken into three parts and embroidered on all three. 

US Politics Fix; Starting the Process

This will probably turn into a page of its own at some point, a book-length outline of the problems and processes that have to be reformed, and the obstacles in the way of average Americans retaking control of their government from the political bosses, corporate sponsors, and wealthy contributors who currently control it.

We have to start somewhere, so let’s start at the beginning.

A bright, fresh-faced teenager sees the problems in the world, the calcified systems in the US that seem incapable of dealing with these problems and asks himself/herself

how do I get involved in this? How do I change this?

The answer to that question is related to current events, and the image at right.

In the midst of a sideshow barker taking over the Republican primary process on the one hand, and a proud Socialist trying to pull the Democratic primary onto liberal ground it hasn’t seen since the 1970’s, I find myself without a group I feel can align with once again.

I left the Libertarian Party due to their inability to separate their ideological dedication to anarchism from the goal of actually winning the democratic election process.

Now I’m wondering just what the rest of the American populace is smoking, not just the libertarians, because it must be some good shit for everyone to be so clueless all of a sudden.

I really can’t make heads or tails of the purpose of all of this noise. I’m once again reminded of the Babylon 5 episode with Drazi killing Drazi over what color sashes they randomly select.  What I can say for certain is that Americans in general are dissatisfied with the political process as we’ve come to know it.  I can say that because the only reason that two outsiders could dominate the early potential candidate fields in polling is because Americans don’t like either of the two parties.

So what about third parties? is the question now being asked.  That would be backtracking for me.  I’m a veteran of the failed political process that is third party attempts at wresting control from the two major factions. For more than a decade I worked in the trenches, canvassing, promoting, representing the Libertarian Party in Texas in the best light that I could generate for it. I was never very important to the party (as I’m sure local activists will be quick to point out) but it was important to me, until it wasn’t anymore.

The Libertarian party wasn’t important to me anymore because several points of reality became clear to me over my time in the party. The points of reality?

  •  The majority of the U.S. population was never going to embrace anarchism and/or smaller government than currently exists in the US right now.

…and 

  • Majority of a population is what determines the leadership in a democratic process.

…Finally 

  • I was no longer personally convinced that the U.S. actually suffers from too much government. What the U.S. suffers from is ineffective and inefficient governance. Looking at the circus acts currently playing, one might well wonder if that wasn’t the purpose from the beginning. Harry Browne said government doesn’t work long before Ronald Reagan said it. Both of them are incorrect. They are incorrect because government works just fine in other nations of the world. It is just that the US government seems doomed to drown in a puddle of its own inefficiencies unless something fundamental to the process is changed.

There have always been third parties. There are several third parties right now (parties 4, 5 & 6?) The system is rigged to only allow two parties to have any real power. Has been rigged since the Republicans rose to national prominence with the dissolution of the Whigs in 1854 over the question of slavery. This is the point that seems to be glossed over. It isn’t that I don’t care about third party politics. The system itself isn’t setup to recognize minority parties in any real way.  It has been codified and calcified over the course of 200 years to the point where, in certain states, it is all but illegal to be a member of any party aside from the Democrats and Republicans.  Third parties, minority parties, minority factions cannot alter the system because it is insulated from their efforts by layers of interference.

And still the question appears “how can anyone vote Democratic or Republican?” The answer is demonstrable; we vote for them because one of the two of them will win. One of the two of them will win because in the vast majority of races throughout history the political system in the US has been controlled by one of two dominant parties in the US.

Whoever the Libertarians nominate (or the Greens nominate) will lose again as they have in every previous election. They will lose because they aren’t Republicans or Democrats; which the rules at the national level and at the state level virtually guarantee will win all electoral races especially the president.

Running for President as a third party is a waste of time, worse it is a waste of resources which could be used to fund campaigns to change rules so that candidates who aren’t part of a party structure can compete. What we get from that investment of time and money is the exact same argument over and over again. Why are you voting for Democrats and Republicans?

First admit that there is a problem and that problem is the electoral rules themselves. Then fix that problem before doing anything else.

Go read Ballot Access News, edited by the magnificent Richard Winger. Top of the page today is a notification that a majority of seats in a particular state are unopposed. Tomorrow it will be a different state. Unopposed means the incumbent will be re-elected. It means no change. It means that the system will remain unaltered.  Why are the seats being handed to the incumbent?  Because ballot access is gated by a huge hurdle in nearly every state.  If the hurdle (be it signatures or party requirements) is topped, the next legislature will simply raise the bar for the next election.

The never asked question is why do Americans insist that voting by itself constitutes meaningful involvement in government? Voting is actually the very least we should be doing if we hope to ever live up to the promise of self-government. Why is the least we can possibly do that constitutes doing something considered active involvement in the political system?

If you concede that voting is not enough, and you should, then the question becomes how to make effective change in our government without reinventing it? The answer to that question is to co-opt an existing party and make it do what we want it to do.

This really isn’t news.  The religious right took over the Libertarian Party with Ron Paul as their nominee in 1980, and then shifted their support to Reagan and their membership to the Republican Party when Reagan invited them to move in and take over the GOP.  The religious right have been the motivating force behind party politics ever since, and were effective at getting their way politically until the election of Barak Obama in 2008.

Even President Obama has been forced to cater to the whims of the religious right, the whims of the minority party, modifying many of his programs specifically to accommodate demands made by them.

This lays bare the how of how to change politics for all to see.  Simply have enough agreement among the population who vote to effect change at the city, state, and national level.  But that agreement is the hard part, the part that requires attention long before you go into booth and cast your ballot.

Political veterans will tell you, it takes work. Years of work.  Which is how we got where we are today, people who went into politics with a clear vision of what they wanted to achieve have been co-opted and subverted by the process of hammering out agreement after agreement in decades of struggle with people who think differently.

Eventually you end up voting for a candidate that you really don’t agree with on any specific issue, but remains the best choice given the compromises required, hopefully not loosing sight of your overall goal in the process.  Not being able to see the forest because of all the trees.

Hillary Clinton is probably going to be that candidate for me. If you read back over this blog you’ll discover that I first abandoned the Libertarian Party to support Barak Obama so that he would be President instead of Hillary.  In 2016 I would vote for Hillary Clinton with almost no reservations.

I will be voting for whoever the Democratic party nominates in this election. I will be voting for the Democrat, because the Republican party has apparently gone over to the magical thinkers, and I don’t believe in magic.  The entirety of the Republican Party has been dispatched on a fool’s errand by the Tea Party’s co-option. Until they can figure out who they are and what they stand for, I don’t have the time of day for the party as a whole.  If they were to nominate someone like Governor Kasich I might have to revise my opinion of them, but I don’t see much chance of that, of Republicans being willing to compromise enough to embrace a man who supports the ACA.

I vote down ballot based on candidate qualities alone, discarding anyone who pretends at being the better conservative. These candidates generally win in Texas (because conservative=correct in the mind of the average Texas voter) outside of Austin, but you can’t fix any stupid aside from your own. In Austin the down ballot offices (state senate and legislature) are held by Democratic incumbents, usually running opposed only by independent candidates. The independents almost always get my vote, because I want to see change and you won’t get change from an incumbent.

But I’m still talking about voting, the last thing on the list.

The only way to change the system is to infiltrate the two parties and alter them from the inside, thereby altering the system they control. It has to start with ending gerrymandering and real campaign finance reform.  Opening up ballot access and ending party control of the ballots in every state in the nation. Not doing this will simply kick the can forward again. That is the forest that we must keep in sight, the big picture. Gerrymandering must be ended across the entire nation. Districts must be drawn blindly with no consideration of the political, racial or social strata that the people in the districts represent. Campaign finance must be addressed, or the corruption of our electoral process by the wealthy will continue in spite of any other change we might put in place.

Changing any of these fundamental corruptions of the system will take a long, hard effort. It will require canvassing of your local precincts to get a feel for who supports or doesn’t support these changes. It will take joining the local precinct and becoming involved, and bringing enough people along with you to alter the votes at the precinct level. It will take making sure that county gatherings and state conventions also support these measures.

Faction is why these rules, this corruption, has taken hold.  Madison was correct when he cited faction as one of the biggest threats to the Republic.  The Democrats are a faction. The Republicans are a faction. Third parties are all factions.  Faction leads generally sane people to do insane things like drawing districts to favor your party (gerrymandering. The solution? Redistricting commission) allowing contributions that favor your party over your opponent (campaign finance. The solution? Public funds) never taking into account that the practices you use to force the system to cater to your faction can be used to exclude your faction when power is finally wrested from you.

…and it will be wrested from you, eventually.

Wildly expanded Facebook comment and status post. It hopefully will expand even further.


Another complaint voiced during the 2016 primary season.

Allowing independents to vote in Democratic primaries would be like allowing non-union members to vote on union contracts. They want the benefits without having to bear the cost of joining.

Facebook

I agree in principle. The Democrats and the Republicans (as well as the Greens and Libertarians) should be able to say who is or is not a member of their group, who can most effectively carry their ideas forward.

The problem that independents have, and it is a valid concern, is that good candidates can emerge on the political landscape that don’t toe the line of any particular party. Those candidates should be able to appear on primary ballots in spite of not having a political affiliation. Not just for president and not just for independants. There needs to be an overhaul of the entire election process.

Until such time that the ballot is opened up to multiple views (jungle primaries, where ranked voting becomes a solution to a real problem) the voting public will have to be contented with exerting pressure on the parties to conform to popular views; and the only way that pressure can be applied effectively is from within the party.

Facebook comment and status backdated to the blog.

A political party — like it or not — is a continuing institution, an evolving body that reflects the convictions of its various members, and the organizers who keep the party functioning. For someone who is not a member of the party to demand changes … well, remember the story of the little red hen? “Who will help me plant my corn? Who will help me harvest my corn? Who will help me eat my corn?” If you’re not going to do the work, you don’t get a seat at the table.

David Gerrold

The State of the Union Requires No Response

As I have confessed previously, I watch the State of the Union (SOTU) address pretty much every year as a matter of course. Some years I grit my teeth and bear it, some years I have to watch it with an accompanying joke track (the only thing I tolerate an MST3K treatment for is politics) since Barack Obama has been President, I’ve pretty much sat down to watch with something akin to interest if not utter fascination.

The State of the Union address is provided for in the Constitution, Article 2, Section 3;

“He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient”

George Washington and John Adams delivered the address in person. Jefferson, who hated the pomp that surrounded much of the Presidency, declined to give the address in person and had it sent to Congress to be read by the clerk. Every President followed Jefferson’s example until the time of Woodrow Wilson. Carter was the most recent President to decline to address congress in person.

I’m not sure which is more disdainful of the legislature, to have the President speak to them directly or to have his message read to Congress by the clerk. But I can say with pretty firm conviction that the worst and most presumptuous idea ever hatched in American politics is the response to the State of the Union crafted by the opposition party and read by some sacrificial lamb that they’ve convinced to stand up and embarrass themselves before the nation.

The President speaks for the people when he delivers his message; that is the point of it. Here is this year’s State of the Union address;

It has been patently obvious to this concerned voter, pretty much since I started viewing and reading these speeches, that the majority of the content was pretty uncontroversial. At least, uncontroversial at the time. What history teaches is another thing entirely. And yet, every single time that a speech is delivered these days, someone is tapped from the opposition party to make pretense that the content of the President’s address is incorrect in some real fashion.

In the years since 2008, this tendency to pose in mock outrage before the camera has fractured, though.  Not content to offer just one critique, for the last few years the various factions of the opposition have felt that they needed to voice their particular flavor of outrage lest their self-importance be forgotten.

This year was no different. In fact, the clamor for attention after the SOTU was delivered has been comic in proportion. From what I can gather, virtually every Republican member of the House of Representatives felt they had to personally put the President in his place.  Here is the video posted by the bloviating windbag that pretends to represent my section of Austin;

I say bloviating because, like all of the statements in opposition, this one is made up largely of nothing but air. They could have showed up and simply yelled fear! fear! fear! repeatedly for all the facts contained in the (mercifully) short responses.

I am regularly spammed by this… person (and both the Senators for my state) Having unwittingly corresponded with his office, I am now permanently on his spam list, as if I have any interest in anything these Republicans might say.

Which leads me back to the adjective, pretends. Pretends to Represent. This is demonstrable. Austin is overwhelmingly liberal. Not going to change at any point that is discernible to residents within Austin.  They were dope smoking, nude sunbathing hippies long before I got here, and the weed has not gotten less potent with time.  Willie makes sure of that.

The leadership of this state is elected by the rest of Texas which is angry and conservative. (medical marijuana should help with that. Talk to your doctor!) They have taken it upon themselves to attempt to remove the only liberal Representative from Texas by breaking the only liberal areas IN Texas into as many districts as they can reasonably separate them into.  So Austin doesn’t have one or two districts, which would be liberal.  No, Austin is split into no less than 5 different districts, with my district being a narrow strip through the center of Austin that then spreads out to cover 9 additional COUNTIES in Texas so as to dilute the Democratic vote in central Austin and place it in the hands of this… person.

It is also worth noting that the Republicans who have controlled this state since the dear departed Ann Richards was unseated by the then owner of the Texas Rangers, George W. Bush (you’ve probably heard of him) have failed at their dream of removing all traces of the stain of liberalism from their great state because they not only have one liberal member to caucus with, they now have two.

Back to the subject at hand.  This pretender who poses as my Representative (not that I liked the Democrat he replaced. That is another story) helpfully emailed me the text of his response, a further mercy that saves me from having to endure the sound of his voice.  Here is a snippet;

It’s been seven years since President Barack Obama took office. In that time, the United States has accumulated the largest national debt in its history, the fewest number of adults are working since Jimmy Carter’s presidency and the executive branch has expanded its power immensely – the president has chosen which laws to enforce and created new ones without Congress’ approval.  

Just the first paragraph. I can’t stomach the rest of the twisted realities presented. The first paragraph is enough anyway, because it shows the agenda of the response, of all the responses. It is the same theme I pointed out last year, the Republicans are in it for the power alone. The welfare of the general populace be damned, we have a budget to manage! Never mind that the sitting President has presided over the least spending of any President since Eisenhower, or that he has been the deportation President and the anti-drug President and the terrorist-fighting President to a tune that dwarfs the last two holders of that office, that is not good enough. Truthfully nothing would be good enough.

Democrats Organizing for America

Obama came into office with an olive branch, and the Republicans batted it away.  He adopted their policies and positions, and they abandoned them for even more radical conservative positions, taking stances on subjects like healthcare that are frankly hard to fathom. So the poor should be left to die without care? Am I understanding you correctly? We should send the children who surrendered to our border guards voluntarily, back to the gang-run South American states they fled from, so that they can be forced to join gangs or become their sex slaves?  Seriously, what is it conservatives expect to be done about these very real problems that they simply try to wish away?

Last night, Obama once again offered an olive branch to the Republicans. He went so far as to praise the new Speaker of the House, even though his work has been limited to actually doing the job that the previous Speaker simply couldn’t cope with. The Republican response? To once again bat the offer of cooperation away.  Cooperation means progress, and progress means hope. Give the people hope and they might actually vote without fear in the next election. Republican victory is grounded on a fearful voting public.

The most promising part of the State of the Union address?  Obama’s statement that he intends to campaign to fix the gerrymandered districts that plague the House of Representatives in many other states aside from my own. I welcome his help in getting sensible, non-partisan rules for redistricting put into place.  It is about time someone took this issue seriously. maybe then Austin will have a real Representative in Washington. Hope springs eternal.

Military Intervention in Syria is the Wrong Answer

Robert Reich

We’re about to go into Syria. I can’t tell you at this point how, but the U.S. is readying an offensive. We’re rounding up allies, as we did before we went into Iraq. The White House is preparing the American people, as another White House did before Iraq. But doesn’t this at least deserve a real debate? The silence in America is deafening. Didn’t we learn anything from Iraq? Or, for that matter, from Vietnam?
I’m as appalled as anyone by the Syrian regime and its use of chemical weapons on its own people. But what exactly do we expect to achieve by entering this fray? And at what cost — to us, to the Syrian people, to the tinderbox of the Middle East?

Normally I don’t venture into foreign policy, but foreign and domestic policy aren’t easily separated. At a time when almost one in four American children is in poverty, when the middle class is struggling to make ends meet, when inequality is widening, and we’re dis-investing in infrastructure and education, can we really afford what this initiative could easily mushroom into? We have seen the power of the military-industrial-congressional complex to get its way, to get the dollars it wants, and to sway public opinion in the direction that will be most profitable to it. At the very least, we deserve a full and frank discussion of what the Obama Administration is about to get us into. – Robert Reich on Facebook

I think it says somewhere in an important federal document Congress has the power to declare war. The constitutional scholar currently occupying the White House should know this. While President Obama could pull a Bush and pretend moving into Syria is covered under the broad authorization given to President Bush for his War on Terror, I think most Americans will not accept this conclusion.

Conservative memories are even more selective than average people, when it comes to the subject of the actions of their leaders. Conservatives and their leadership have been foursquare in favor of every military adventure the US has embarked upon; with the exception of every military adventure initiated by a sitting Democratic president. At least, this is the way it has been since Jimmy Carter authorized the rescue operation in Iran that ended in disaster

Americans never were in harm’s way militarily in Libya, the military action that the world just came out of. I heard more neocons whining about Obama’s cowardly allowing the French to lead the fight in Libya, as if France didn’t have stakes in seeing the unrest in North Africa settled. As if all of Europe didn’t have higher stakes in the Arab Spring not devolving into chaos than the US did. Obama wisely refused to put Americans into harm’s way in that conflict. Conservatives wanted Obama to do more in Libya. They wanted him to do more right up until the #Benghazi attack, when they suddenly decided it was bad to have Americans in harm’s way and how did Obama allow this to happen?

I floated the question of impeachment when President Obama first announced intentions to intervene in Libya. When he then allowed France to use our facilities to intervene in Libya under UN sanction, I still wasn’t happy about it, but with American servicemen out of harm’s way, it was a moot point. we were not at war, the EU was, using NATO resources that they help pay for. I cared not one bit when Gaddafi got what was coming to him. Like Bush I’s buddy Saddam Hussein, I was unmoved by his suffering at the hands of his people. Dictators sign up for being torn limb from limb by their own people when they become dictators in the first place. I don’t shed tears for dead dictators.

IF Obama goes into Syria with our forces and doesn’t consult Congress, it’s likely an impeachable act. The vast majority of Americans have found their antiwar sentiments again; they are war weary now. Liberals put Obama into office with the understanding he was going to end the wars Bush started. Liberals and antiwar types mistakenly believed this could be done instantly after Obama was elected, and then punished him for not achieving the impossible by not going to the polls in support of a Democratic legislature in 2010.

The limited strikes they are discussing, designed to degrade the Syrian government’s ability to use chemical weapons (if it’s such a big deal, where were the voices of dissent when Bush I coordinated with Saddam to use them on Iranian forces?) will be essentially no different than the hundreds of drone strikes we’ve conducted in countries we aren’t at war with. The lines of what is or isn’t war are blurred, but even Jefferson himself did not consult Congress before sending the navy to Tripoli to deal with the pirates, and they invaded Libya. Congress should be given the chance to weigh in, but only the military and intelligence forces know whether actions in Syria can be conducted without starting a wider war on one hand, or are necessary to prevent further casualties including possible American casualties, on the other.

The blanket allowance that the President could pursue a war on terror was used to go into Afghanistan and then congress confirmed that that SAME allowance would apply to Iraq. W (Bush II) followed the exact same course that Obama will be forced to pursue, eventually. First assert that actions are covered, and then punting to Congress for confirmation, which they will give. W was going into Iraq anyway, because he demonstrably manufactured excuses to go. The same can not be said of President Obama.

In any case, the vast majority of Americans (as polls show) would be opposed to the move to open a wider war in Syria. Most of those people are demonstrably liberal. I invite you, dear reader, to join them.

Modified Facebook status and associated comments.

An Individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms

I’ve been waiting for this decision ever since I heard about the case in a CATO Daily Podcast. From the CATO site:

On June 26, 2008, the Court rediscovered the Second Amendment. More than five years after six Washington, D.C. residents challenged the city’s 32-year-old ban on all functional firearms in the home, the Court held in District of Columbia v. Heller that the law is unconstitutional.

Here’s the pdf for the District of Columbia v. Heller decision.

I’d like to offer a thanks to Rob Balen (who was subbing for Jeff today) for alerting me to the fact that the Supreme Court finally got a decision right. Having said that, I must observe that Rob Balen the food critic is a gun-phobe. I never heard so much whining over someone being allowed to have guns since the last time I heard someone begging not to be shot in a movie.

Someone should explain the danger to this Yankee carpet-bagger, when he goes South and tries to tell Southerners that they can’t be trusted with weapons. It’s going to rile some people up.

Where is Suzanna Hupp when you need a voice?

Suzanna Hupp interview from Penn & Teller’s Bullshit!, Season 3, Gun Control

I was living in Austin when this tragedy occurred. I remember wishing, at the time, that a customer had taken the guy out. No one could wish harder than Suzanna Hupp.

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Militias are the people; each individual person is a member of the militia. Guns equip the militia. Should we amend the constitution? Remove the second amendment and task government with our protection, empower the military as the only form of defense for the country?

If not, then each of us is responsible for our own defense, and the defense of our neighborhood/city/state. That is the way the founders intended for this to work. It’s about time the courts have acknowledged these facts.


There is so much that is being left unsaid in this post, I can’t imagine where to begin, even if I wanted to fix the misconceptions apparent in this piece. Here. Now. Today. (10/13/2017) Since I made a deal with myself ages ago not to erase old posts and simply make corrections through this addendum process, I’m left scratching my head just how to exactly paint the picture of my cognitive dissonance on this subject. I think I’ll start with a link to what is my latest piece on the subject as of this mea culpa review process,

The second amendment is a two-edged sword, in more ways than the one I’ve just outlined. The other argument which can be (and has been) made is the original intent of a well regulated militia; If the people tasked with keeping us safe deem that it the task is impossible with the rules now in place, they can conscript all able-bodied persons into the military for the purposes of weapons assessment. 

That is one sure-fire way to make sure we know who should and shouldn’t have a weapon. I’m as opposed as I can get to the idea of a return to the bad-old days of the draft, but if anyone can have a weapon, and if no other laws are possible to fix the problem of weapons in our midst, then the only remaining solution is the one where everyone is trained and everyone is armed to their proficiency. 

What we need to decide is, which kind of America do we really want to live in? The time for that conversation is rapidly passing us by.

The tragically escalating numbers of mass shootings in the US over the last decade has left us all pretty much scratching our heads. A good number of what I considered allies as of the writing of this 2008 piece have become conspiracy fantasists in the true meaning of the phrase and have decided that any mass shooting that can’t be explained with the label terrorism is automatically a false-flag event. Essentially turning themselves into the kinds of nutjobs that really shouldn’t be trusted with high-powered weaponry in the first place.

This development has left me without a place to call home on this subject. I do find some comfort in the writings of Jim Wright over at Stonekettlestation. Sadly he doesn’t see any end to this craziness either. Not until the US itself gets tired of the bloodshed and settles in for a good old-fashioned discussion of what an American fix for this problem might look like. Here’s hoping that self-reflection occurs sooner rather than later.

Constitution Day

Constitution Day is today (Sunday, the 17th of September) not that the average citizen would know this. If you look on the average calendar, you probably won’t find a mention of the day, which is a sad state of affairs when it comes to honoring one of the most important documents in American history.

When you ask a couple of jaded professors to write something about Constitution day, you get something like what appeared in The Chronicle a few days back; a rather biting attempt at humor from people who have come to revile the founding fathers for creating the document that can’t be made to do what they want, when they want it.

[what do you expect from the author of askphilosophers.org, a rather transparent attempt to make todays philosophy and it’s philosophers relevant to the average person. I don’t think he’s succeeding. Post-modernists have nothing going for them but contempt for everything else that exists]

Which is precisely the problem with gov’t in the US today. Too many people with too little understanding of gov’t and it’s place in society, demanding more from gov’t and never asking where the funds to meet their demands will come from.

Jay Leno said it best:

As you may have heard, the US is putting together a constitution for
Iraq. Why don’t we just give them ours? Think about it — it was
written by very smart people, it’s served us well for over two hundred
years, and besides, we’re not using it anymore.

Anyone who is seriously interested in learning about the Constitution, and how it came to be, should visit Constitution.org. If you write an e-mail message to Cato, they’ll send you a copy of the constitution, as discussed in this Cato Daily Podcast.

The flag I fly on Constitution day? The Gadsden. It expresses everything one needs to understand about the founders and their intent in forming this ‘new nation’.


I really don’t even know where to begin. I don’t fly the Gadsden any longer, although I still have one. The Tea Party stole that icon from me. Flying it now ties one to their lunacy and I really don’t need more confusion in my messaging.

I’m planning on writing an update to this post in 2018. Let’s see if that happens.