The Year Of The Rat – How Bad Can It Possibly Be?

Don’t worry too much about Donald Trump and this current Republican dominated Senate enabling an American dictatorship. It’s more important to look upon those things that really matter. Issues of real substance, like whether a giant rodent sees his shadow and whether we’ll be bailed out by the Year of the Rat.

Punxsutawney Phil put in his annual appearance at Gobbler’s Knob, apparently whispering in the ear of a member of the local business association that Spring will come early. You know it’s for real, because the man the groundhog whispered to was wearing a top hat. Just like Abe Lincoln.

Now there’s something good. Something nice. Something we can all get behind, because it’s something we can all understand. Like twenty-two over-developed men repeatedly bashing into one-another with all their God-given power on a grassy field while spectators scream their approval and feign their concern should one of the combatants be carried from the field after being repeatedly knocked bloody and senseless. Or two guys getting in a ring or a cage and beating the snot out of one-another.

Our recreational preferences say so much about how far we’ve come, don’t they?

The groundhog, really nothing but a big ugly rat without a tail, had no shadow this year and so Spring, they say (or the big rat says), will be arriving early. Isn’t that wonderful? Who doesn’t want an early Spring, other than shareholders at the power company who want to keep our furnaces burning as long as possible. You got a problem with that? What are you, some kinda Capitalism-hating Commie?

If the groundhog isn’t good enough for you, the Chinese Calendar tells us that this is the Year of the Rat. Being that China started things off with the Coronavirus, I’m not putting too much stock in getting any kind of a positive break from the rat.

But none of that really matters. Spring is coming early. We know this to be a fact, because a groundhog and not a rat, whispered it into the ear of some guy at Gobbler’s Knob. So everything is just ducky. Even though it’s a lie. What’s important is that it’s understandable. Something we can all support without thinking too much.

Don’t worry about any of the rest of that stuff people have been popping pills to try and forget. Stuff like democracy, self-determination or why the Russians seem to own the current occupant of the Oval Office, and whether we will be able to conduct a real election in November.

Groundhogs and rats aside, if you’re into signs, here’s one for you. I was down at the National Archives in D.C. yesterday and the the Declaration of Independence has nearly faded away. You can’t even make out the signatures, so maybe they were never really there? Maybe it’s all just a story made up by a bunch of evil liberal revisionist Trump-hating pinkos.

But don’t let any of that bother you, either. Thanks to Mitch McConnell and his Republicans, we now have someone who will be making all our decisions for us. An American dictator. A man who is above the law. So just let it go. Forget it and pass me another beer. The game is on and it’s something I can understand. Like Spring coming early.

A Nation Divided

The attacks came on September 11, 2001, killing nearly three-thousand people in New York City, at the Pentagon and in a field near Shanksville, PA. The nation’s airports were closed while public officials tried to sort out what was going on.

A few days later flights resumed and I was sent to Los Angeles International Airport to cover it for KTLA. On a spot of grass, just beyond the fence around the airport’s perimeter, I spotted a lone man holding a flag. Thinking it might be a story, we drove over to his location. He told me he had been there for several hours, wanting to be there to welcome the first flights back into Los Angeles. He had been there all morning. He had rigged up the flag in short-order with a pole he had in his garage when it was announced that the FAA was reopening the nation’s airspace. As we drove away he was still there waving his flag as airliners continued coming in.

I’ll never forget that man with his flag, our flag, who did what he did for no reason other than patriotism. And now, with a show-trial in the Senate and a nation divided, it appears we may once again be in for the fight of our lives. It feels as though we are facing a very real threat to Democracy and that there just won’t be any easy way out.

Recently a friend posted a picture on Facebook, a painting of George Washington, showing humility, faith and courage as he kneeled in the snow to pray at Valley Forge. The odds he faced were insurmountable. However, to borrow from the late Eric Sevareid, “This country was not founded by wimps.”

Don’t give up on us just yet. Remember that man with the flag. He had no reason for doing what he did other than he thought it was the right thing to do. The American thing to do. So he did it.

Time For John Roberts To Take The Reigns

So Trump incriminated himself by releasing a transcript of a phone call wherein he laid out that he would withhold military aid to Ukraine unless the Ukraine would open a fake investigation into the Bidens. That’s Article I.

Trump has also repeatedly obstructed the Congress by refusing to honor subpoenas for documents and directing others who work for the White House, to not honor congressional subpoenas. And they’re arguing about witnesses? They don’t need no stinkin’ witnesses.

Trump is guilty as hell. He’s incriminated himself of “high crimes and misdemeanors” and has been indicted by the House of Representatives. It’s over. Take the vote and get it over with. Let the Republicans incriminate themselves by voting to acquit an obviously guilty president. All this other stuff is just muddying the waters and confusing people.

The Constitution lays it out quite plainly when it directs, “When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside.”

To preside: 1 : to exercise guidance, direction, or control 2 : to occupy the place of authority : direct or regulate proceedings as chief officer -Merriam Webster

Mr. Chief Justice, our country is at stake. Please do your duty and take control. This is supposed to be a trial, not a sham proceeding designed to accommodate a president who would be dictator.

A Trial In Need Of A Judge

Chris Matthews just posed the question of whether what’s happening in the Senate is some kind of “jury nullification.” In other words, the jurors know what the law says they should do but they are going to vote for the opposite.

I think the problem is a bit different. Not only is the defense (the Republicans) threatening to nullify the law once it comes time to vote on the guilt or innocence of Donald Trump – they are also preventing evidence from being presented.

What is accepted into evidence, by way of both documents and witnesses, should be up to Justice John Roberts, not Mitch McConnell and the Republicans. The Democrats need to figure this one out and so does John Roberts. Without it there can be no trial, and without a legitimate trial our system of checks and balances, our Constitution, is no longer valid.

Without it, we will have a dictatorship, not just now, but going forward as well.

McConnell and the Republicans are trying to throw away everything that makes the Republic work. They are trying to throw away our basic freedoms. Our liberty based in law. I’m fairly sure the founders never envisioned one party or another stopping evidence from being presented during a senate trial. Simply put, you can’t have a trial without the relevant evidence, and it should be up to the judge to decide what’s relevant.

An Orwellian Chill

I haven’t written anything in a while. The situation with the Trump Administration had become so repetitive, so obvious, so pathetic, so malignant, that I had determined the best course of action would be to stop writing and simply wait it out until November, hoping enough Americans would be awake and informed to the point of saving the country with a Democratic sweep. Today, that changed, with something that sent chills through the very core of my being.

It wasn’t Trump’s needless idiotic attack, sending in a drone to blast an Iranian general in a car at a civilian airport without a declaration of war, or Iran’s measured response to the idiotic attack, getting their country off the hook without starting a world war while Donald Trump appeared determined to do all he could to get a new war going. No, it was neither of those things. It’s the way those events are now being reported.

They are not reporting the Iranian general was assassinated or even killed, which is what happened. I turned on both CNN and MSNBC this morning to hear that the general had in fact been “taken out.” That’s what they’re now saying, “taken out,” much like any of us would take out the trash. Except in this case, they took out human beings.

What’s happening here is pure “Newspeak,” right out of Orwell’s “1984.” Alleged newswriters are using words to make the fact that our military, under orders from Donald Trump, blew a couple of human beings to bits just outside a civilian airport more palatable. They are using less descriptive phraseology to remove the sharp edge from sanctioned murder. In doing so, they are falling into the Orwellian trap of controlling language to limit freedom of thought. In doing so, they are inadvertently doing P-R for the Trump Administration.

If assassination is too harsh, then they could simply say the general was killed in a drone attack. That’s what happened and it avoids the slippery slope of getting into Newspeak with language that would be more fitting for De Niro in a mob movie.

This isn’t a movie, it’s reality. A journalist’s job is to find out what the hell is really going on and then report that out with as much objectivity and clarity as possible. Engaging in Newspeak, is an arrow to the very heart of that credo, threatening our existence as a free people by limiting our freedom of thought.

I won’t get into giving people what they need as opposed to what they want. That train left the station so many years ago that there is probably no calling it back. That said, this flirtation with Newspeak is something different. Something far more subtle and potentially far more dangerous. An infection that arrives in the night and spreads ever so slowly through our consciousness, unrecognizable, even while it robs us of our ability to identify the true nature of current events.


Unfiltered Information Could Be Our Undoing

Donald J. Trump has 65.2-million followers on Twitter. So, whatever idea might pop into his head, no matter how crazed, he can immediately blast it out to all 65.2-million of his minions. That, is political power. It is also frightening, because it is totally unfiltered.

Not long ago, in a time before cellphones, there were the newspapers and three major over-the-air broadcasting networks controlling most of the flow of information in America. For the most part, they had professional news organizations staffed with journalists who took their craft seriously, taking care to uphold the public trust with a standard for quality journalism, while serving as a filter for their readers, listeners and viewers, ensuring a degree of accuracy and truthfulness in what Americans read and heard. The worst thing these journalists could do, and they knew it, would be to betray the public trust and lose their credibility. And so, they took their work seriously.

Consequently, when CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite returned from Vietnam and told America that the Vietnam War had us mired in a stalemate, that the war was unwinnable and that a negotiated settlement was needed, the nation listened. Polls indicated Cronkite to be the most trusted man in America. There were calls for him to run for public office. Journalists were held in high esteem.

There were lapses of course, like “Yellow Journalism” during Hearst’s battle with Joe Pulitzer, but for the most part it worked pretty well. For the most part, America was protected by her journalistic filter. Then came cable, satellite news and the internet, and all bets were off.

And now here we are, with no filter to protect us and a highly questionable personality in the Oval Office with his finger not just on the nuclear trigger but on his massive Twitter feed as well. I’m not sure which might turn out to be more threatening to the country, or what we should do about it going forward. Clearly, what technology has given us may be more than our Democratic Constitutional Republic can handle. In a very real sense, it may be a clear and present danger.

Things I’m Hearing

A couple of reasonable questions: Why are the harmful and even deadly effects of vaping being felt here in the U.S., but apparently not in Europe? Are the Europeans immune?

Should we all listen more carefully when Donald Trump says “that’s what I’m hearing,” because he may in fact be hearing things that no one else can hear? In his head? That would be a problem. Do his aides in the White House have to worry about what he might be hearing from one moment to the next?

And finally, where did all the killer bees go? Not long ago we were threatened by an invasion of killer bees from the south. The horror. The horror. Did NAFTA take care of that? Might the hazards of vaping eventually go the way of the killer bees? Inquiring minds want to know. That’s what I’m hearing.

Where Are The Democrats?

In this age of Trump, it’s something every day, so why should today be any different? King Donald is now sending troops (more troops) over to Saudi Arabia (Sunnis) and the United Arab Emirates (Sunnis), to help defend against Houthi rebels (Primarily Shia) in Yemen. Once again, His Majesty is militarily inserting the United States into a 15-hundred year-old holy war perpetuating the insanity of the past 18 years with the absence of anything even roughly resembling a coherent policy to deal with the Middle East and North Africa.

What is our goal? Is there a plan for an end-game or is the U.S. military the world’s new police force courtesy of American taxpayers with no end in sight?

On CNN, military experts expound upon how vulnerable the Saudis are to drone attacks, adding that the U.S. is equally vulnerable so we should all be very afraid. Okay fine, but why ask someone whose career is built around going to war about going to a war we shouldn’t be in at all? A better question would be, “Why not let the Saudis, who are swimming in oil money and who have the third largest military budget in the world, defend themselves?”

“As long as little children were being bombed in Yemen by the Saudis, no one cared. But touch a Saudi oil pump and it’s WW III!” – FB meme

Could it be because King Donald and his royal family have some personal connection to the Saudi Royal Family? Some debt to be paid, such as it were, that might be revealed should we the people finally come into possession of an actual accounting of his business practices over the past many years? Is there some reason we are still talking to a country that stones women, beheads lawbreakers with swords and murdered a journalist working here in the U.S., by some accounts cutting his body into pieces before secreting it out of the country?

Oh wait, it’s the oil, isn’t it? Even though the United States now exports more oil than it imports?

All of that’s more than bad enough, but true to his disgusting fashion, His Majesty is now calling upon the elected leader of another country to intercede in the upcoming election by digging up dirt on one of his opponents. He’s using the Office of the President as leverage and he see’s nothing wrong with it. Nothing at all. He would say that of course, as he’s openly done it before with the Russians, calling upon them to hack into the private email of a former Secretary of State.

Nothing wrong with any of this, right? Of course something’s wrong. An American election is supposed to be held by and for Americans, without interference from outside parties, who hold their and not our best interest at heart. It’s just that simple. Like His Majesty, King Donald. Simple. Like firing public officials because they’re carrying out proper oversight by investigating the King or treating the Attorney General of the United States as his private attorney, his very own Roy Cohen.

I used to think Nancy Pelosi’s “go slow” technique on impeachment was the smart way to go, as it would drag things out into next year, bringing even more of the madness of King Donald out into the open, in closer proximity to the election. But now, the way things are going as his madness seem to be growing by the minute, I’m afraid the slower Pelosi and the Democrats go, the more perilous the situation will become.

He’s not even trying to hide his absolute belief that he has absolute unchecked power. That he’s in charge with no checks and balances coming from the Congress because Republicans in the Senate refuse to fulfill their pledge to protect and defend. He thinks he can get away with anything because they’re letting him do pretty much anything he wants. As with any spoiled child, it’s only going to get worse.

Those who sit by doing nothing while this madness continues are traitors to the country. The danger King Donald poses is real and immediate, and it must be dealt with now by Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats in the House. I’ve always feared that Pelosi, or at least her image, was just too weak to lead. Image is important. Look what it’s done for Donald J. Trump. Is Pelosi tough enough to take him on? Does she appear to be? Where the hell is she? The country needs a lion, not a mouse. Those of us who had reservations about bringing Pelosi back as Speaker were told she’s a brilliant tactician and tough as nails. Really? Right now it feels like the Democrats are afraid. Like they’re off somewhere cowering in a corner. In some ways it feels like the party could be headed into 2016 all over again.

At the very least the record must show that we tried, that we did something to fight back, as a spoiled man-child tyrant from New York surrounded himself with sycophants and did all he could to disassemble our institutions and tear down our democracy. Congress must do something to re-establish its power as an equal-partner in government and it must act now, even if that means the House taking the lead with impeachment or possibly the power of the purse, and hoping traitorous Republicans in the Senate can be shamed into doing the right thing.

God only knows what King Donald may be doing at this very moment and where it might take us.



Remembering The Good

Governor Ann Richards

With political madness swirling about us like a daily sharknado from hell, it may be good to remember that we have had better times with far better people. Like former Texas Governor Ann Richards.

For me, one of the finest moments in American political history was when Richards took center stage at the DNC to proclaim, “Poor George, he can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth!” I also loved it when she leaned forward at the lectern and said, “Friends, let’s talk about how the cow ate the cabbage.” Rather, must have loved that one. It was pure down-home Texas. And pure Ann Richards.

I did finally get to meet Governor Richards. It was at the DNC 2000 in Los Angeles, and I told her how much I had enjoyed that moment when she talked about the cow eating the cabbage. She was every bit as charming and gracious as she appeared to be on television. She was good for Texas, and for the country. And we need more like her. All that we can get.

Ann Richards, has been described as “salty” and “irreverent.” A mother of four, she wore white leathers to match her hair and she rode a Harley. And she was filled with optimism. Could be that’s why I am so fond of the optimism, intelligence and strength of Elizabeth Warren – because she reminds me of Governor Ann Richards, a larger than life woman who lived up to the larger than life American promise of giving everybody an equal shot at success. Even those who weren’t born with a silver foot in their mouth.

Needed: Another Edwin Newman

Just heard a local newscaster talk about making an intersection “more safe.” Whatever happened to “safer?” Are they also going to start proclaiming things to be “more fast” instead of “faster?” Is it just me? Used to be that if the word preceding the comparative had three or more syllables, you’d drop in the “more.” Otherwise, just add the “er.” It gets complicated, which is why this stuff needs to be drummed into kids heads while they’re still in “grammar school.”

Meantime, if you aren’t sure, go ahead and drop the “more” and just add the “er.” Keep it simple when and if you can. I myself, (that would be me), tend to use too many commas. I have a word for it. I call it “over-commatization.” Picked it up in grammar school where I was taught to drop in a comma every place where a reader would stop to take a breath. Well, hey. That doesn’t always work. The English language is tough. Consequently, I assume no responsibility for you getting it wrong with the “er” thing. You were supposed to have picked this stuff up in grade school. Provided you got there before all the cuts to public education.

Public officials lower our cultural and intellectual bars every time they make another cut to education. Some inner-city schools have no heat in the winter or cooling in the summer. As a group, we are becoming stupider by the moment so that the wealthiest among us can horde their millions while paying tens of thousands to bribe college officials to get their under-educated kids into the best schools.

It’s madness, but then evolution is a difficult thing to watch.

Also bugged about people calling trucks cars and referring to caps as hats. Not long ago I watched a local reporter standing in front of a truck that had crashed into a storefront talking about the car that had smashed into the building. Then there was a ballgame the other night with the announcers talking about a “ballcap” promotion that was coming up. The ballpark, they explained, would be giving out custom baseball caps emblazoned with the insignia of local colleges and universities. A minute later, one of those same announcers was talking about the “hats” the ball players were wearing. Difficult to watch this stuff. Think maybe I’ll open a consultancy biz for tv news. Edwin Newman, where art thou? More dead now than ever before? Deader than a door nail?

Also hate it when writers fail to use personal pronouns. That one really bugs me.

Trump Again Manages To Astonish, Abandoning A Peace Deal With The Taliban

Just when one thinks there is nothing more Donald Trump can possibly do to further amaze and astonish, he again tops himself.

The BBC is reporting that Trump’s pulling the U.S. out of peace talks with the Taliban had nothing to do with the death of a U.S. solider in Afghanistan. No, they say it had more to do with the Taliban’s refusal to take a trip to Camp David, purely to provide Trump with a bigger public relations splash, as a deal had already been reached at the table in Qatar, and the Taliban wanted to sign it. Instead, with a peace treaty at his fingertips, Donald Trump pulled out of the talks because he wanted the signing to take place at Camp David, presumably because he wanted to give the appearance that only he had the skill to get it done.

If anyone on the Republican side has had any reservations at all about continuing to support this president, then with this, those reservations should be fully erased. This president is not well. Agreeing to peace with the Taliban and ending a 20 year war would have been a monumental accomplishment, giving his party and his reelection bid a tremendous boost, with or without a meeting at Camp David. In fact, in refusing to take the trip before signing the deal, the Taliban were inadvertently doing him a favor, as the politics of the situation would probably have left Trump and his party in a weaker position had the Camp David meeting taken place.

Republicans should take heed of what conservatives in the U.K. are doing in response to the madness of Boris Johnson. They are leaving their party, or being ejected from it, in far greater numbers than the few Republicans who have abandoned their party here in the U.S. In other words, British conservatives have the strength and conscience to put the good of their country above their party and their own financial self-interest. Something most American conservatives have not seen fit to do. Their silence makes them implicit with the inexplicable mentality and failures of Donald Trump, who once again appears to be making decisions with all the maturity of a petulant child.

The “walkback” from the Trumpists on this one should be massive.

He did what, now?

Can it be true that Donald invited the Taliban to come to Camp David and then changed his mind? My God, this idiot would have asked Hitler over for tea. Or asked Russian agents into the oval office. Or for a summit with Korea’s Mr. Kim. Oh wait, he actually did those last two, didn’t he?

When each day brings a new and incomprehensible act or pronouncement it feels increasingly like we’re going code blue, a situation made worse by the Republican Party threatening to cancel primaries in an effort to prop up Putin’s puppet for yet another term. History, will see these people as flirting with or perhaps committing treason. And 44% of registered Republicans approve?

No wonder Biden blew out an eyeball at the town hall.

How Can Trump Have A Base?

Riot police have just entered the airport in Hong Kong, where pro-Democracy activists are trying to maintain what freedom they currently have from being taken away by the Commies in Beijing.

In North Korea, a smiling Kim Jong-un, continues firing rockets into the sea.

In Russia, thousands of anti-Putin protesters are in the streets, demanding real elections as opposed to an ongoing dictatorship that either imprisons or murders the opposition.

Here in the U.S., Donald Trump thinks Putin is a good guy and – as has been indicated by his words and actions – wishes our system was more like Russia and North Korea, so he could declare himself president for life and throw big military parades on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Donald Trump obviously does not believe in government of, for and by the people. He’s taking this ride strictly for himself.

Why is this so difficult for some to understand? How can Donald Trump still have a “base?” Who are these people who support a leader who favors tyranny over democracy and his own personal enrichment over promoting “the general welfare” and securing the “blessings of liberty?”