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Archive for the ‘Church & State’ Category

Day 132. 

There is a lot of talk about Neil Gorsuch’s performance at the hearing about is nomination.  A few of the Democrats have tried to hold his feet to the fire over some of his rulings, but the rest seem to be rolling over.  Even those who try to hold him accountable, don’t always ask the correct questions.

For me, there is one huge red flag flying over the Gorsuch camp.  This red flag is typical retorts from conservatives, especially when it comes to the Supreme Court.  That one retort is simply that judges, even Supreme Court Justices, are merely rubber stamps for whatever a law says.

As an example, Sen. Durbin brought up a case about a truck driver whose case came before Gorsuch.  Here is a brief explanation of the case.  This truck driver was forced to pull his truck over because his breaks froze.  As a result, he could not drive the truck because it was considered an unsafe vehicle.

The driver’s dispatcher told him to move the truck, but he said he couldn’t because the brakes would not work properly because the brakes were frozen and couldn’t stop the tuck with the trailer properly.  The dispatcher told him to stay put until help arrived.  The truck, for reasons I don’t know, did not have any heat in the cab.  The temperature was about minus 14 degrees.

After waiting for sever hours without help arriving, the driver was near freezing to death.  He then got out, unhitched his trailer and drove the truck to a place to get it fixed and warm up.  The company fired the truck driver for “operating an unsafe vehicle”.

Seven different courts sided with the truck driver citing his safety and desire to stay alive.  Then the case got to Judge Gorsuch’s court.  He ruled in favor of the truck company and the driver lost his job.  According to Durbin, he is still without a job and seems to be blackballed from driving again.

During the hearing, Gorsuch said he “felt for the driver” but the law was the law.  The driver drove what was considered “an unsafe vehicle” and therefore he should have lost his job.  He even went so far as to tell Congress that if they don’t like the results they should change the law.  “I was merely adjudicating the law as it was written”.  However, judges do have the right, and the responsibility to say when a law is unjust and not adjudicate is as it is written.

In this case, the driver had two choices.  Take a chance and get the cab somewhere he could get it fixed and save his life, or simply sit still and freeze to death.  Gorsuch says that he should have sat still and froze to death.  This a very real case that proves that extenuating circumstances should have ruled the day and not just the letter of the law.  Gorsuch, once again placed the company’s interests in front of the person involved.

Gorsuch also said that the same-sex marriage situation is “settled law”.  But, he would not say the same thing about Roe v. Wade.  If you are wondering why, just look at his stance on the so-called “Freedom of Religion” laws he favors.  The ones that allow companies to discriminate against LGBTQ people based on “religious beliefs”.

If anyone would ask me, I would have suggested a few questions for Mr. Gorsuch that would not involve any cases of the past giving him an out.  But, they would let everyone know exactly where he would stand if these kinds of cases came before him at any level.

These questions would be something like this:  Do you believe that there are two different types of laws, one type being secular which rules civil society and one type being religious law that rules religious beliefs?  Do you believe that religious law should be considered when making secular law?  If, yes which religion’s or religious sect’s religious laws should be considered?  Do you believe that religious law should take precedence over secular law in civil matters?

Those questions would unmask anyone’s beliefs on issues like Roe v. Wade.  Let me explain.  I believe that civil society is ruled by secular law.  In a country like ours that offers freedom of religion, secular law must be the law of the land.

Religious law should never be considered when making secular law.  If you really believe in freedom of religion, then it would be impossible to say one religion’s laws should be considered and another’s religious laws should not.

Religious laws should never take precedence over secular law in a civil society that claims to be open and free.  If someone believes their religious laws take precedence over secular laws in civil society, you know where they stand on a myriad of issues.

The case of Roe v. Wade is a case of secular law v. religious law.  The entire case hinges on the definition of life and when it begins.  Religious law, especially with Catholics and Evangelicals, says that life begins at conception.  However, there are differences between religious life and secular life.

One could easily argue that life does not begin until the fetus is capable of surviving outside of the womb.  The arguments are purely based on different beliefs of secular law or religious law.  The pro-life group is based on the idea of life begins at conception.  The pro-choice group says otherwise.

If someone asked Gorsuch if religious law takes precedence over secular law, and he said yes, it would be a clear indication that he would override Roe v. Wade if it came before him.  I believe I already know that he does believe that religious law supersedes secular law with his stance in the Hobby Lobby case and his support of these “freedom of religion” laws that allow discrimination against groups based on religious beliefs.

That is not someone I would want on the Supreme Court.  But, since Democrats are not interested in getting to a person’s true feelings and beliefs, these types of questions are never asked.

Additionally, if you simply look at our own history, you will discover that conservatives always believe that religious law supersedes secular law.  You can see that in laws that banned intra-racial marriage, same-sex marriage, separate but equal laws, and many more.  All of those laws were justified by “religious beliefs”.  If a judge cannot interpret the law and declare it unconstitutional, we would still have those laws on the books.

That is why conservatives argument about “minimal justices” is totally wrong.  It is the responsibility of judges, especially on the Supreme Court to interpret laws for their constitutionality.  The Constitution is secular law, and NOT religious law.  The Constitution protects all minorities from bad laws passed by the majority.  If judges are simply rubber stamps for Congress, then we would still have slavery in this country.

I do not believe that Judge Gorsuch belongs on the Supreme Court.  His rubber stamp mentality, his willingness to let someone die just because he is too lazy to include extenuating circumstances in applying a law, and his apparent belief that religious law supersedes secular law, makes him unqualified to sit on the highest court of the land.

However, I don’t think that the Democrats are willing to go full-bore on rejecting him.  I am not convinced that they are willing to dig in too much on this nominee.  There are a lot of old people on the Supreme Court.  And, I don’t think they are willing to fight one nominee that might make it easier to get a more conservative wacko on the court with the next opening, which could be any day.

But, in my mind he doesn’t belong there.  He appears to me to be just another sleazy snake oil salesman in a fancy suite with a fancy haircut masquerading to be “mainstream”.  He isn’t mainstream.  He is a far right social conservative activist and his rulings have proven that to be the case.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

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Day 108. 

We are seeing a time in our history that I don’t think will read very well in future text books.  It is a time of a rise and a fall.  What we have seen since trump was elected our president is a rise in hate and a fall in decency.  And of course, we have heard nothing from our beloved leader about this either.

Ever since trump started running for president we have seen hate grow in leaps and bounds.  We have seen anti-Muslim groups triple in number since 2015.  We have seen more Mosques being burned down to the ground.  We have seen attacks on Muslims on the rise.

We have also seen anti-Semitism grow and grow.  Just since inauguration day we have seen bomb threats to Jewish Centers  grow tremendously.  Vandals have destroyed a Jewish cemetery.  Places of worship have been vandalized with swastikas.

Immigrants of all kinds have seen various assaults and attacks.  We have seen the conviction of a white man who intended to burn down a Mosque in an upstate New York town and he said if anyone interfered, he would kill them.  We saw a man shoot and kill one man and wound two others in Kansas after shouting “get out of my country”.  The men were Indian-Americans.  Later he bragged at a bar in Missouri about killing two “mid eastern men”.

Mass deportations are beginning all across the country.  Even in Santa Cruz, CA. the police chief told the press that during the raids in his town ICE had lied to him.  He said they were supposed to be holding raids on a criminal gang, but ICE also detained 10 other people who were not involved in the gang but were undocumented immigrants.

A Mosque in Texas outside of Houston was the victim of arson.  A Mosque in Tampa was the victim of arson.  That Mosque was at least the sixth Mosque attacked in just the last six months.  Hell, even Mohammad Ali, Jr., was detained at a Florida airport when he and his mother returned from a trip to Jamaica.  He was asked questions like:  “Where did you get your name?” and  “Are you a Muslim?”

Our beloved leader has said nothing condemning any of these attacks.  He has kept complaining about non-existent attacks like the one he keeps talking about in Sweden.  He keeps talking about how Muslims are the root of all terrorism.  But, he refused to discuss the terrorism being placed on American Citizens by white people right here in America.

Are you aware of the simple fact that more people of color have been killed in America by white supremacists than the total number of Americans killed by Muslim terrorists since 9/11?  And, trump has said nothing about it.

Instead of doing anything to help quell the problem, trump ignores it and pretends that Muslims are the real problem.  He goes off on tantrums that mean nothing in the big picture.  He attacks our media and calls it “the enemy of the people” because they won’t print only glowing raves about him.

Rather, they print the truth of what is going on in his administration.  His cabinet members have had to sweep up all of the bullshit he spouts towards our allies.  They have to say, “no, he doesn’t mean that”.

The other day, his administration blocked admission of several major media groups to an off-camera news briefing.  Funny, all of the blocked media groups were the exact ones reporting on the Russia connection.

Our beloved leader keeps crying about how everyone is picking on him.  He complains that no one is reporting on his “great achievements”.  Only, he doesn’t have any great achievements to report about.  Unless you consider his blocked Muslim Ban something “great”.

His propaganda minister keeps spouting the trump line even though you can see in his eyes that he knows they are lies.  The administration has tried to interfere with the investigations into the Russia scandal, even going so far as to asking the chairmen of the two committees supposedly investigating it to call the press and “tamp down” the stories.  They even tried to get the FBI to do the same.

Unlike the FBI, the two chairmen went along with the administration and called the press.  They even admitted that fact that they called the press at the urging of the White House.  Sen. Burr and Rep. Nunes are disgraces to the American People.  They should both recuse themselves from the investigations, but they won’t.

As a matter of fact, Nunes seems to think that if there was an actual independent special investigation into the matter that would be bad.  He says it would be like “McCarthyism”.  There is a big difference between McCarthy hurling innuendos and accusations without proof and an investigation that gets to answers not predetermined.

More states are introducing or passing more and more hate bills against the LGBT community.  Our beloved leader already rolled-back one LGBT rule passed by the Obama Administration, and more are likely to follow.

Finally, I guess in order to “punish” the media, our beloved leader has said he will not attend the White House Correspondence Dinner.  Though we all know it is more of not being the brunt of too many jokes instead of any punishment.  He probably figures since he has named them “public enemy” he knows what would happen if he showed up.

Hate is definitely on the rise.  The lack of any response to or any attempt to halt this rise in hate shows that decency is on the fall.  No one ever accused trump of being a decent man.  No one ever accused trump of being an honest man.  And, I will never accuse him of being a moral man either.

This is the reality of our nation today.  We are not even finished with two months of his presidency, and we are looking at a very bleak, divided future under his administration.  Just about all of his cabinet picks have shown a total lack of ethics and integrity.  They are not in place to “govern” they are in place to destroy our government and our democracy.  Steve Bannon even said so at the tin-hat convention known as CPAC.

We have gotten to a point where no one is actually safe from the rise in hate.  With shootings of immigrants on the rise, you be caught in the cross-fire.  With arson on the rise, you could get caught up in the fire.  But, don’t expect anything from the White House about it.  This is the America trump wants.

And, don’t think you are immune.  Soon, they will turn their ire on anyone who speaks out against their savior.  They will turn their ire on average people who don’t think things are going well and are willing to protest.  Actually, several states are passing laws to basically make protesting illegal.  The divide will get far worse before it gets better.

But it is with this increase in hate, that trump can put in place his plan to destroy the country and set up his authoritarian rule.  You need chaos and hate to prove you are the “savior”.

We are seeing a rise in hate and a fall in decency.  And, our beloved leader is behind all of it.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

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Day 104. 

The one thing we learned about trump’s presidency in the first 32 days or so is that we definitely need hip waders just to be able to wade through the bullshit that constantly comes out of his mouth.  If people worried about the swamp flooding out Washington, D.C., they forgot that you can drown in bullshit just a well as water.

After at least three attempts to get trump to say anything about anti-Semitism, yesterday he said he was against it.  Most people think that since he didn’t stutter as much as usual, he meant what he said,.  Only he really didn’t mean much of what he said.

Besides saying he denounces anti-Semitism, he also talked about a culture of hate.  He even said that the “country will come together”.  He talked about how hate seems to run in cycles, and at least that part was true.  Even still, I will give him some credit, he did sound genuine in his comments.

But it is still words.  Just words, and trump uses more words than anyone I have ever listened to before.  As a matter of fact, he uses so many words, at the end of his statement never know what the hell he said.  Does he hate anti-Semitism or does he just hate that is was brought to light?

A lot of people are saying he caved to the press on this matter.  I don’t believe that.  I think he caved to his daughter.  Ivanka tweeted the day before his comments to say that we should all be tolerant of other religions.  That tweet was met with a lot of responses that were less than praising her.

The main theme of the responses was “tell that to your daddy”.  There were also many questions about if that “tolerance” includes Muslims.  The very next day, trump made his announcement about the issue.

But, since you cannot trust the words that come out of trump’s mouth, you need to watch his actions.  His actions do not show any attempt of “bringing the country together” or helping to eliminate “hate”.

Yesterday, the same day, DHS released two memos about deporting undocumented immigrants.  In essence, these memos mean that anyone who can be picked up and deported if they are here undocumented.  Of course there are fears of a “mass deportation” on the horizon.

There is also nothing in the memos that talk about how to handle undocumented immigrants who have children who are U.S. Citizens.  Are we really going to break up families just to get “rid of those damn illegals” as the right-wing wants?

If we do deport parents of these children, what happens to them?  Are we also going to deport U.S. Citizens with their parents?  Or, are we going to place them in an orphanage or the mostly broken foster care program?  What happens to these children?  Of course the memos also talk about our upcoming Berlin Wall being built.

I also find it amazing that these memos were released the day before the Sec of State and Sec of DHS are to go to Mexico to try to mend the gulf growing between our two countries.  What the hell were they thinking?

I am not going to argue about this being illegal, because as the laws are written, they are not illegal.  However, what I am questioning is the rush to deport as many people as possible in a short period of time without regard to any circumstances that may change things.

What makes breaking up families moral?  What makes breaking up families even nice?  These attempts to deport 11 million people is simply stunning.  Rather than working with Congress and fixing our immigration problem, this administration is more interested in showing “power” than humanity.

The next thing is the so-called revised travel ban.  The administration is saying that this will pass muster in the courts.  Yet, one of his top advisors says that it is basically the same order that caused all of the chaos when it was first released.

We don’t know much about this revised order, but we are pretty sure that green card holders won’t be affected.  Other than that, we know nothing.  Are they going to make it effective immediately so people already on their way here with valid visas are turned away when they get here, like they were under the original order?  That is not how civilized people treat other people.  But, I must admit that I never accused trump of being civilized.

These are the contradictions that trump has unleashed on us.  On one hand, trump talks about anti-Semitism all the while he is issuing orders on deportation of mass amounts of people with no compassion in the orders.

On one hand he says we should not be anti-Semitic, and on the other hand he orders the deportation of massive amounts of people who are mostly Latino.  On one hand he says we should be more inclusive and on the other hand he says Muslims aren’t welcome here.

As a country, even an immigrant country that we are, we do need borders and have a proper system to allow immigration.  However, we cannot be a country that just rounds up people based on their race, religion or immigration status and either lock them up or deport them.  Instead of placing so much vigor in deportations, we should be putting that much vigor in fixing our immigration rules and make it more humane to the people of the world.

This is a country of immigrants.  Unless you are a Native American, you are either an immigrant or a descendent of an immigrant.  This is a country that claims to be a nation of immigrants.  Yet, we seem to want to slam the door on “certain” people from being immigrants to add to our diversity.

Instead of fixing a broken system, trump wants to punish people by breaking up families to show how “tough” he is.  That is insane.  Yes, we need to fix our broken immigration system.  Yet, we do not need to punish people just because they came here without visas.  Especially those who have been here for years and have actually contributed to our economy which most have.

I agree that criminals need to go if they are not here legally.  However, we need a very certain definition of what constitutes “criminal”.  Driving with a broken tail light is not “criminal”.

We have lost our moral compass.  We have a president who is the descendent of an immigrant claiming nativism as his excuse.  And, at the time his grandfather immigrated to this country, visas weren’t always necessary.  So technically, trump could be called a descendent of an “undocumented immigrant”.  His grandfather even went back until he found out he could be prosecuted for evading mandatory military service.  Which means he came here as a “criminal” back home.

All of the major groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are against these mass deportations.  They understand the havoc that deporting all 11 million undocumented immigrants would cause on our economy.  Yet our beloved leader is deaf to their concerns.

We were once told by the liar Kellyanne Conway to judge trump by what is “in his heart not his words”.  If you look at just this one issue, you can see what is in trump’s heart.  Hate and contempt for people of color.  There is not other explanation for his actions.

Our beloved leader can use all the words he wants to claim he is not a bigoted person.  He can use all the words he wants to claim he is “trying to bring the country together”.  But, his actions say just the opposite.  His actions show his contempt for anyone who is “different’ from him.

He claims to not be anti-Semitic and not to be bigoted.  Yet, when his propaganda minister was asked about the tripling of hate groups against Muslims since 2015 at his press meeting yesterday, he avoided the question like the plague.

We know what trump believes ever since he rode that escalator down from his big office in Trump Tower and announced how Mexico is sending us “drug dealers and rapists”.  We know what trump believes ever since he declared that there should be a ban on all Muslims immigrating to our country.  We know what trump believes ever since he said there should be a “Muslim registry”.

Conway told us to look into trump’s heart to see what he really means when he speaks.   I agree to a point.  But, if you do, you will find a hate-filled heart.  Is that what she really wants us to see?

As we know, justice is not absolute.  There is far more than a story of if a person came here “legally or illegally”.  We are not just a country of laws.  We are a country of compassion.  Just look at what happened after that Jewish cemetery was vandalized.  Who were the people who started a fund-raising program to help repair the damage?  Muslims!

When the Mosque in Texas was burned down a couple of weeks ago, who was the first group to hand over keys to their place of worship to help them?  Jews.

We need the president to be more interested in working with Congress to fix our immigration laws instead of acting like a heavy-handed dictator who will solely determine who is allowed in and who isn’t.

If you support this mass deportation on the horizon and the banning of Muslims, don’t dare speak to me about your Christian Values.  You don’t have any and you are a liar.  You have no Christian Values.

It doesn’t matter if you are religious or not, this matter isn’t just about law, it is about humanity.  It is about treating other people like we want to be treated.  It is time for this bullshit to stop.  It is time to look at the problem with a humane lens and figure out the best ways to make things better for everyone.

These issues will not be stopped with laws that restrict immigration.  They will not be stopped with a Berlin Wall on our southern border.  They will not be stopped with a Muslim ban.  They will not be stopped with mass deportation.

We have seen this story before.  We have seen groups being made scapegoats before.  We have seen it in places like Russia.  We have seen it in places like Mussolini’s Italy.  We have seen it in Nazi Germany.  We have seen it in Hussein’s Iraq.

Our Constitution was designed to protect minorities from the excesses of the majority.  These actions are making a mockery of that premise.  It is time for it to end and real solutions to this problem found.  That is how democracy is supposed to work.  To me, these actions are more fascist than democratic.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

 

 

 

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Day 90. 

Today the Senate approved Jefferson Sessions as the next Attorney General.  I was against his nomination, and I am definitely against his approval.  In my opinion, Jeff Sessions is a bigoted man who does not care about any minorities.  He is even considered the most anti-immigrant Senator by his peers.  He was refused an appointment as a Federal Judge because of his racist past, and while in the Senate he has done nothing to change that record.

Just in the past few years he voted against the ending of torture.  He was one of about 5 Senators that voted against the bill that said the U.S. would never engage in torture.  When the Voting Rights Bill was gutted by the Scalia led Supreme Court, he said it was “a great day for the south”.

Lastly, he voted against the renewal of the Violence Against Women’s Act.  He gave a very scary reason for his denial of the bill.  The renewal bill included a section that allowed Native American Tribal Courts to conduct trials of violence against Native American women even if they were victims of non Native Americans.  In other word Sessions does not believe that Native American Tribal Courts have any right to prosecute white people.

Now, if you think none of this matters, let me tell you about two terrorist crimes that have not found the headlines, but Jeff Sessions might be required to prosecute in the future.  They are also appropriate since trump wants to ban Muslims from seven countries from coming to our country but is ignoring white supremacist and Radical Christian Terrorists in our country..

The first took place in 2012.  And, as it happens it took place in Bowling Green, OH.  But, it wasn’t a massacre because the FBI who Sessions will be responsible for stopped it before it happened.

In that case, a federal raid had uncovered what the authorities feared were the makings of a massacre. There were 18 firearms, among them two AR–15 assault rifles, an AR–10 assault rifle and a Remington Model 700 sniper rifle. There was body armor, too, and the authorities counted some 40,000 rounds of ammunition. An extremist had been arrested, and prosecutors suspected that he had been aiming to carry out a wide assortment of killings.

In case you may be wondering why you haven’t heard a bunch about this it is because the suspect was a white supremacist named Richard Schmidt.  Schmidt came to the attention of the federal government almost by accident. He had been suspected of trading in counterfeit NFL jerseys and while searching his home and store for those fake goods, the FB discovered the vast arsenal.  There was a secret room attached to his shop that “contained nothing but rifles, ammunition, body armor, his writings and a cot” wrote prosecutors in a court document.

Schmidt had spent years in the Army as an active-duty soldier and a reservist. His military service ended in 1989 when he got into a fight and shot three people, killing one of them, a man named Anthony Torres. As a result, Schmidt spent 13 years in prison on a manslaughter conviction and was legally barred from owning firearms.

The FBI believed from his writings that he was associated with the National Alliance.  Which is a long-standing white supremacist organization that was founded by the writer of the Turner Diaries which Timothy McVeigh said was his inspiration for the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

The prosecution presented into evidence Schmidt’s planned targets, such as African-Americans and Jews. They’d found a list with the names and addresses of those to be assassinated, including the leaders of NAACP chapters in Michigan and Ohio.

Yet the judge said prosecutors had failed to adequately establish that he was a political terrorist and sentenced him to six years in prison.  He is due to be released sometime next year.

The second case is actually taking place right now.  In this case, a radical religious cleric who allegedly planned to kill Americans of another religion to “prove his commitment to god”.  Of course you haven’t heard about this one either because this radical religious cleric is a white Christian and not a Muslim.  He was planning to kill Muslims.  His name is Robert Doggart.

This case was brought because undercover FBI agents allege that Doggart was plotting to travel to upstate New York to kill Muslims there using explosives, an M-4 assault rifle and even a machete to cut the infidels to shreds. The FBI’s investigation also found that Doggart viewed himself as a religious “warrior” who wanted to kill Muslims to show to his commitment to his Christian God. Doggart even boasted that the attack on the Muslims “will be cruel. And we will burn down their buildings [Referring to their mosque and school.]… and if anybody attempts to harm us in any way… we will take them down.”

I did write about this some time ago when it first came to light.  I had hoped that it might make the media before or at least at the time of his trial, but that has not happened.

Of course there have been other cases you have never heard about.  In December white supremacist Glendon Scott Crawford was sentenced to 30 years to life for trying to build a radioactive weapon to kill Muslim Americans. Crawford served in the Navy and is a member of the Ku Klux Klan.  He was an electrical engineer and carried out extensive research on his radiation dispersal device designed to target a Muslim community.

And in September three men known as “The Crusaders”—as in the Christian crusaders—were arrested for plotting to kill Muslim refugees in Kansas.  According to the FBI, the three had been engaged in surveillance of the apartment complex where primarily Somalian Muslim refugees lived. The FBI also noted that the three spoke of dipping their bullets in pig’s blood before shooting the Muslims—which was reminiscent of a Trump’s campaign stump speech when he wrongly claimed that General Pershing had done the same when fighting in the Philippines.

These are all very real and recent episodes of domestic terrorism conducted by white supremacists and Radical Christian Terrorists.  Why hasn’t our beloved leader made mention of any of these horrific incidents?  Why isn’t he calling for wiping out Radical Christian Terrorists?  Is it because these people are all white?

Additionally why, if the report from Reuters is correct is the Department of Homeland Security planning to retool its Countering Violent Extremism Program to focus solely on Islamic radicals. Why are they planning to rename it “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism,” and according to government sources “would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States?”

Which brings back full circle to Jefferson Sessions, our new Attorney General.  If you look at his record, can you honestly say that any of these cases would even be brought to trial by the FBI?  Can you really believe that Sessions would even allow the FBI to even investigate these domestic white supremacist and radical Christian Terrorists?  I find it impossible to believe he would.

This is a man who supposedly joked “I thought the KKK was okay until I found out some of them smoked pot after their meetings”.  What we don’t know is what part of this so-called joke is the funny part?  The part he says the KKK was okay, or the part about smoking pot?  Due to his ardent opposition to pot, I would suggest it is the latter.

Our beloved leader wants us to be terrified of Muslims.  He wants to wage a cultural war against Islam all the while he is willing to turn his back on the white supremacists and Radical Christian Terrorists who live among us and have killed more Americans since 9/11 than any other groups including Extremist Muslims.

This is the reason he was willing to nominate Jefferson Sessions to be our Attorney General.  He needed someone who approves of his plan to go after Muslims and let the domestic terrorists have their run at our people.

This whole mess is just another step in the trail of trump to undo our democracy, our constitution and our country.  And it is just beginning.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

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Day 83.

A lot of things happened again yesterday, and not many of them were good for the country.  The biggest news should have been the nominee for the Supreme Court.  Neil Gorsuch was named as the nominee.  There will be plenty of time to get into this pick, but I am not going to say a lot today.  I need to review his record more before making serious comments.

However, from what I have researched so far, if you like the idea of a religious state, and allowing discrimination against anyone who does not share your narrow views of religion, you will love Gorsuch.  Some people are calling him Scalia 2.0.  But, at first glance he is even worse than Scalia when it comes to civil liberties for every citizen.

As I said, we will have more on Gorsuch as time goes on.  I need more research on his record so I am going to take my time on this matter.  Though I will say that since the only real “vetting” of him was from the right-wing Federalists, it doesn’t look good if you love all of our freedoms.

There was other news that we cannot stop looking just because trump nominated someone for SCOTUS.  The nomination was supposed to take place tomorrow, but his weekend was so bad with his unconstitutional executive order, he needed to change the subject and hope we wouldn’t notice the rest of the shit happening.

The Dissent Chain memo at the State Department now has about 1,000 signatures on it.  It was first reported that 100 employees were going to sign it, but that number rose significantly and more people are reportedly eager to sign it as well.

That will place all of these people in trump’s crosshairs.  They are risking their careers to show dissent against the immigration order.  Yes, it is true that in State, this dissent channel is supposed to “protect” employees who express dissent, but with trump and his henchmen in charge, there is nothing to stop him from trying to “get them”.

Then we have the problem of the nominations for HHS and Treasury.  Yesterday, the Democrats on the finance Committee boycotted the hearing that was supposed to vote on these two nominations.  They boycotted because the day before, reports and evidence said that both Price and Mnuchin lied to the committee in their hearings.

Democrats wanted them to be recalled to explain their lies.  Republicans hated the idea and did nothing except complain about Democrats using the same tactics they used in 2013 in a hearing for the EPA Secretary.  Oh, yeah, Republicans boycotted a hearing trying to get their way.

Only Democrats did not do what Republicans did today.  In an effort to show their support for their dictator in waiting, Republicans changed the rules for the committee that said they didn’t need any Democrats to attend to form a quorum.

As a result of this rule change, both were approved by Republicans on the committee by a 14 – 0 vote.  Republicans have no problem that nominees for their dictator lied to the committee.  That just shows Republican values, I guess.

Also yesterday, Betsy DeVos was approved by her committee to be voted on in the Senate to tear apart our public education system.  It was a total party-line vote and we can see the end of public education in the works.

The actions taken by Republicans on these three nominations show clearly that Republicans do not give a shit about the American people or what they want.  There is more pushback on these three nominees than any others with the possible exception of Jeff Sessions.

DeVos is totally unqualified to head up the Department of Education, and the other two were caught is bare-faced lies to the committee.  Yet, Republicans don’t care about qualifications or honesty.  They only care about pleasing their beloved leader.

This is the exact type of behavior we expect from a dictatorship.  If you can’t get what you want quickly through the normal rules, change them and do whatever you want anyway.  Democrats wanted more information on these two liars, and Republicans did not even talk to them about how to resolve the situation.

Yes, it is true that they would have probably been approved by the committee anyway, but the American People have a right to know if the people being placed in positions of authority in our government have even an ounce of integrity.

Republicans don’t seem to believe the same thing.  They seem to believe that if the nominee is appointed by a Republican, nothing else is required.  This also shows just how much and how quickly Senate Republicans are willing to change decorum and integrity of the Senate.  They only care about power, and now that they have a little bit of it, they are going to ram through whatever they want, the American people and our democracy be damned.

If you take a look at the SCOTUS nominee, what is going to keep McConnell from changing the 60 vote threshold for this nominee to be approved?  The filibuster is a tool that allows the minority to have a say in governing.  Without the filibuster, the majority can ram through anything without any problem.  That is true regardless of which party is in control.

The nominee for SCOTUS is far more serious than even the Appeals Courts judges.  SCOTUS is the final court.  There is no appeal to a Supreme Court decision.  If you claim to really love the Constitution, then you should be more in favor of centrist judges who will look at each law individually not ideologues who will make their mind up before the case is even heard.

The filibuster and the 60-vote threshold on SCOTUS nominees are intended to help make that possible.  They are intended to help keep the court independent of ideologues who want to dominate the rest of the country with their views.

The real frightening part of the rules change in the Finance Committee is that Republicans have shown that they only care about their agenda.  They are willing to destroy the very fabric of our government just to please their beloved leader.

Republicans have been very quiet about the executive order banning Muslims, except to say it “wasn’t rolled out very well.”  They have been very quiet about spending billions of dollars building our Berlin Wall on the Mexican border.  They have been quick to complain that Democrats have used some of the very tactics they used in their hatred of President Obama to “obstruct” him at every turn.

They have shown with their action in the Finance Committee they are not interested in cooperation with the other party.  They are not interested in bi-partisanship between the two parties.  They are not interested in what is good for America.  They are only interested in their authority and their power grab.

What they don’t understand is that once trump gets his dictatorial powers, they will also become “surplus to requirements”.  Our president came into office with the clear intent to establish an authoritarian government with him having all of the power.  Republicans in Congress are more than happy to give him exactly what he wants.

I am not even sure that the upcoming battle over the nominee to SCOTUS is even worth fighting.  If trump doesn’t like what the court says, he isn’t likely to follow it anyway.  That became clear over the weekend when courts across the country said detainees at airports were supposed to be allowed to speak to lawyers and CBP refused to let them anyway.

The administration has said over and over that trump won because many people wanted change.  That is true.  But, I don’t think the majority of Americans thought that change meant destroying our democracy.  They are beginning to discover that is what their votes will get them.  The real question is when and if trump voters will realize their mistake and join the resistance to his authoritarian desire?

Until they do, the shirts keep marching along.

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Day 71.

Today Donald John Trump will place his hand on a bible and take the oath of office to become our next president.  And, for the first time, I am beginning to lose my optimism for the future of our country.

To be totally honest, if I were a Christian, I would wonder if he is going to burst into flames once his hand touches the bible.  He has shown that he is anything but a Christian in his actions before, during and after the election.

He will be taking that oath knowing that he is the least favorable president-elect to be sworn in in our history.  Usually, after an election, the favorability numbers of the president-elect go up.  This time, they have gone down.  Maybe that is because of his caustic behavior, or his overflowing the swamp with his cabinet picks, or maybe just because even his supporters are realizing what a virtual pig he really is.

The other thing that has gone virtually unnoticed during the transition is his absolute horrible leadership.  When a new president takes office, they are required to fill about 4,000 positions in various departments of the government.  The most important positions include the National Security Council, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Homeland Security.

When he takes office, almost all of those positions will have empty desks this afternoon and the unforeseeable future.  So far, not counting his cabinet nominees, they have hired about 30 of the 4000 people needed to fill those positions.

He had announced at first that every political position would end today when he takes office.  Then, when he realized that he isn’t even close to fill any of those critical positions, he started asking people to hang around for a “few months”.  Some have agreed and some have not.

Now remember, this is supposed to be a “great businessman who organizes tremendously”.  Well, this situation shows that statement is true in his own imagination.  As someone who worked in business for over 20 years and in the Coast Guard for 20 years, I find this a total disaster caused by someone who loves himself but has no clue about leadership.  In simple words, he has totally botched the transition.  If he can’t handle that, how can we expect him to handle the country?

We can only be thankful that there are thousands of professional public servants who will take up the responsibility of these critical positions until Mr. Incompetent finally gets around to filling them.

Then we have his conflicts of interest hanging over us and him.  At the moment he becomes president, he will be in violation of his lease for the hotel in the Old Post Office building.  Only, nothing will probably be done because the lease if owned by the General Services Administration and he will be in charge of it.

And, since he and his team always rave about the hotel and suggest that everyone including foreign governments use it, he is in possible violation of the emoluments clause.  That is just the beginning of his possible conflicts of interest.  This is something that will need to be watched very closely.  Only, it will be difficult because Mr. Secret won’t divulge his holdings or where he is actually getting his money.

If you love the Constitution, and all Republicans claim to do so, then the first piece of legislation needed to be passed is one that requires all public officials in the federal government, including the president, must release their tax returns.  That is the only way to ensure the emoluments clause will be honored and openly enforceable.

We are looking a very uncertain next four years.  Trump made so many promises to so many people he doesn’t even remember which ones he made or to which group of people he made them to.

He keeps talking about bringing jobs back, but he still refuses to ensure his own family brings their manufacturing to the U.S. and leaves those 12 countries they currently use.  If he doesn’t add his family’s products to the 35 percent “border tax” he keeps threatening, we will know he doesn’t mean a damn thing he says.

There is talk about cutting the budget, again.  But, the only items on the cut list are things that support the rights of every citizen.  Things talked about being cut are grants to help prevent violence against women.  Closing down several agency departments that protect civil rights of minorities of all kinds.  And of course closing down PBS or at least privatizing it.

Then we need to watch out for cuts in several social safety nets.  Republicans want to privatize Social Security.  They want to voucherize Medicare.  They want to “block grant” Medicaid.  And, of course they want to throw about 18 million people off of their health care by eliminating the Affordable Care Act without even telling us what their replacement plan is.

These are just some of the issues and potential problems that America will face under a Trump presidency.  We will have a cabinet with more ethical questions than we have seen in over 100 years.  I will be quite surprised if any of the nominees are stopped.  The current Republican Party is not interested in ethics or integrity.

The anti-regulation crowd known as the Republican Party is itching to eliminate all of the same regulations they eliminated under George W. Bush which caused the Great Recession of 2008.  That is a very scary thing indeed.  Are they actually trying to cause another Great Recession?

Then again, all of this could be mute.  We will have a president who loves to attack people on twitter.  What is going to happen when his target is some unstable foreign leader?  How certain are we that he won’t start a war just because of his bitter, and immature use of twitter?  And, if he does start a war using twitter, will he launch nuclear weapons. After all, as he said “why do we have them if we aren’t going to use them?”

We are moving into a very uncertain future.  We are most likely going to see attacks on African-American rights.  Gay Rights.  Women Rights.  Religious Rights.  Our Health Care.  Our Environment.  Our Economy.  Our Farms.  Our Small Businesses.  Our Public Education.  And, Our Decency.  It is probably the most uncertain future in my lifetime and I lived through the “great red scare”.  I also lived through the so-called “hippie” movement and civil rights and anti-Vietnam war protests.

The future was far more certain during those times than it is today.  The only reason those times were more certain was because we had leaders who were reasonable and rational people leading our country.  Today we will get what I consider the least rational person in history in charge.

It is that instability that causes concern for everyone in the world, not just in our country.  As a result, I am very cautious about the future of our country.  I served my country and I hate the idea of someone so irrational being in charge of the nuclear codes.

I can only keep voicing my opposition to this madman.  I can only try to point out his conflicts as they arise.  I can only try to educate anyone who wishes to be educated about any damage he causes our liberties and freedoms.

We have heard for the last eight years that President Obama restricted our freedoms.  But, when asked to name just one, there is silence.  I am afraid that will not be the case under a Trump presidency.  I am afraid that we will see our Constitution be shredded by him and his Republican lackeys in Congress in the name of Power.

I find it extremely ironic and very frightening that a man is going to take the oath of office that swears to “protect the Constitution of the United States” when he doesn’t even know what is in it.

Furthermore, his actions during his entire life has shown a complete disregard for the law and decency.  He ran for president to line his pockets with more money.  That is all he is interested in and that is all he will work towards.

Hopefully, the near future will also be a time of activism.  It will be a time when people take to the streets again to hold our elected officials somewhat accountable.  It is all up to us now.  We can no longer pretend that the people in charge have our best interests at heart.  They don’t.

And the shirts keep marching along.

 

 

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Day 57

Yesterday four people, one adult and three teenagers were arrested and charged with hate crimes for that sickening video showing them torture another teenage boy.  Racial slurs were heard being shouted.  The whole affair was sickening.

There are a lot of people trying to bring up the meme of Black on White hate crimes being rampant, which it is not.  The boy tortured was white and the attackers were black.  Furthermore, the boy went to school with one of his attackers.

This is incident is totally about hate.  It really has not a lot to do with anything else but hate.  I don’t care what color the victim is and I don’t care what color the attackers are.  The fact that something like this can actually happen is out of pure hate.

The absurdity of hate was on full display this past election.  The fact of the matter is that just about everyone could be the victim of hate.  The only problem is that it usually takes race or sexual orientation to make officials charge someone with hate crimes.

When charges are made in hate crimes, both sides all get in an uproar.  Rather than look at the incident it was, we need to “categorize” what type of hate is really is.  We have seen the “justification” of hate crimes by both sides of the issue rather than talking about the hate that caused the crime in the first place.

Don’t you think it is time we faced our hate problem?  Don’t you think it is time put an end to all of this nonsense?  Yes, I know we can never eliminate it completely, but our actions after such incidents tell me that we have no intention of ending the hate.

You have probably seen other posts that tell you that our problem is because we have “turned away from god”.  You have also seen posts that say “this is what happens when you don’t believe in god.”

Sorry, but that is a form of hate all by itself.  The very idea that only “god-fearing” people are good people is total bullshit.  Morality is based more on how humanity treats other members of the human race.  It has nothing to do with religion.

In fact, religion is one of the primary forces behind our hate.  We hate minorities because “god mad us superior”.  We hate women because “god made them subordinate to men”.  We hate gays because they are “sinners in the eyes of god”.

Then we have people who hate just because they love to hate others.  Hating someone else makes them feel good about themselves.  It makes them feel superior.  It categorizes people into bins that allow us to separate ourselves from them.

The world we live in is complex and can be very divisive.  You cannot have black without white.  You cannot have light without dark.  You cannot have love without hate.  And, you cannot have good without evil.

The thing that makes us get along is our basic humanity.  Love is not based on religion it is based on our common humanity.  Hate on the other hand is based on ego.  The idea that I am better than you so therefore I can hate you.

We also live in a country that is supposed to be based on the claim “that all men are created equal”.  Yet, too many of our politicians have led the charge against inclusiveness.  They “categorize” people into those handy bins to make them lesser people than the “chosen” category of people.

Legalized discrimination bills based on so-called religious beliefs makes hate much easier.  The so-called bathroom bills make hate much easier.  Voter restriction laws make hate much easier.  Any law that restricts or bars access to basic rights make hate easier.

You can make the argument that problems like these are taught in the homes.  You can make the argument that parents need to teach their children better.  You can make a lot of arguments about cases like this.  But, making arguments is fixing blame and not addressing the real problem of hate itself.

When someone says “I’m not a racist” but refuses to acknowledge the civil rights of minorities, you are lying to yourself.  If you say you “love gays, but hate the sin” you are lying to yourself.  Whenever you argue against your own beliefs you are lying to yourself.

You cannot say that you love our neighbor and then send disparaging emails against people or groups.  You cannot say you are compassionate and then call someone with a disability a “gimp” or someone with a mental disability “nuts” or “stupid”.  That is simply lying to yourself.

Lying to ourselves makes our hate covert, but it is still there.  Lying to ourselves allow us to make excuses when something like this happens.  Lying to ourselves does not help stem hate, it actually feeds it.

When you really look at it, hate is nothing more than an act of terrorism.  Letting people know your hate towards them should be classified as terrorism because we you are trying to make them fear you.

I hope with all my heart that these people who tortured this boy get exactly what they deserve according to the law.  Just like I do whenever any of the thousands of hate crimes that occur everyday in this country find justice.

But, if you want to see an end to these types of crimes, you cannot keep lying to yourself.  You need to look yourself in the mirror and confront your hate.  Then, you need to work to overcome and end your own hate.  Otherwise, hate will continue.  Hate crimes will continue.

I don’t care if you are religious or not.  I don’t care what color you are or nationality, or sex, or sexual orientation.  The fact is we are all part of the human race.  We are all brothers and sisters with a single common factor.  We deserve better from our neighbors.  We deserve better from ourselves.

The fact of the matter is only we can stop hate.  Then maybe we will see an end to these sickening crimes.  One can only hope.

 

 

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