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Gender: Male
Hometown: Maryland
Member since: Sun Aug 17, 2003, 11:39 PM
Number of posts: 77,376

Journal Archives

We should be outraged by this GOP suggestion to 'purge' the FBI

...anyone selling this anti-democratic treason should be run out of the country.

Here's an agency that moved to discredit Hillary Clinton in the election by 'reopening the email investigation,' and these republican clowns want us to believe the FBI was some kind of anti-Trump cabal.

Worst is the way republicans (and the administration) are outdoing Russians in their efforts to remove anyone from government who isn't loyal to Trump. It's bad enough to have this open, ongoing campaign to criminalize his political opponent in the last election, but this talk of a 'purge' is one of the most anti-democratic notions ever embraced by national political leaders.

If we're to assume people in government who supported Hillary are unable to do their jobs fairly and objectively, we'd be free to assume the governmental actions of supporters of Trump are also biased and tainted. It's absurd, yes, but it's also tyranny in action.

The FBI agent who sent anti-Trump text messages to a friend, did so with a reasonable expectation that those expressions were private. It's not as if there was some open display of bias, on Twitter, for instance. More importantly, there's no process (thankfully) to determine the private conversations and opinions of anyone else at the FBI and make a similar judgment that they're unfit to serve.

This is an open assault, a witch hunt, on anyone who dares hold a different political view from the party in power. That's as dangerous a proposition as anything I've ever heard in politics. It's a direct assault on our democracy, our constitution, and our freedom from tyranny.

FDR in '36 DNC speech:

"In 1776 we sought freedom from the tyranny of a political autocracy - from the eighteenth-century royalists who held special privileges from the crown. It was to perpetuate their privilege that they governed without the consent of the governed; that they denied the right of free assembly and free speech; that they restricted the worship of God; that they put the average man's property and the average man's life in pawn to the mercenaries of dynastic power; that they regimented the people.

And so it was to win freedom from the tyranny of political autocracy that the American Revolution was fought. That victory gave the business of governing into the hands of the average man, who won the right with his neighbors to make and order his own destiny through his own government. Political tyranny was wiped out at Philadelphia on July 4, 1776."

Political tyranny was reborn on January 20, 2017. We are in a fight to regain any reasonable expectation that we can control government against a craven republican party determined to deny representation to all but their narrow political base of supporters.

'Constitutional crisis' doesn't even begin to describe this perilous moment in our history.

Happy Christmas, DU!

...it's a cold and windy holiday this year without any snow, but it's still a perfectly picturesque Christmas day.

I do miss snow on the holidays, though. I dug up a poem I wrote here last year for a bit of a dusting... Merry Christmas, y'all!

When You Smile at the Falling Snow

When you smile at the falling snow,
You're likely remembering joy and beauty,
Experienced over a lifetime.

From the very first time your parents,
Bundled you up with layers of long underwear;
Woolen trousers and several pairs of socks;
Oversized sweater over a turtleneck;
All crammed inside that impossibly small snowsuit.

You remember that first misshaped snowman,
Mixed with dirt and grass, and snot;
More brown than the white ground surrounding it,
Well-dressed in Mother's good scarf you borrowed
And perfectly natty in Father's old cap.

There's hastily erected snow fort on the front lawn,
Fully fortified with a neat pile of perfect snowballs,
Smoothed over by stiffening, soaked mittens,
Too precious, maybe too deadly to actually throw.
The fort is everything; only room for friends, and you.

Was there ever a truly safe hill for sledding;
One without the sharp drop into the half-frozen creek?
A sledding hill without that fence at the end,
Or that busy street with cars whizzing by past the curb,
Threatening to drown, decapitate, or drive over you?

Soaked to the bone, soaked through seven solid layers,
Stubbornly ignoring frostbitten feet and swollen hands,
Struggling with your sled back up to the top of the hill,
Standing in line behind the big kids, you spot your sister,
Shivering from the cold; you're suddenly shivering, too.

I was able to recreate all of that winter magic, as an adult;
My own sons, layered and stuffed into impossibly small snowsuits.
We made our own dirty snowmen; sturdy snow forts;
And sledded down unsafe hills; scraping swollen knuckles;
Stubbornly shivering as we stayed too long.

It's snowing, and there's a family of deer in my suburban yard,
Taking refuge on the softer ground deliberately layered
With the trees' fallen debris and evergreen litter.
There's spirit here; they know it's safe from predators,
A perfect place to digest their food and nibble a bit more.

They startle when I open the door to scatter birdseed,
Standing perfectly still once more, when they hear my voice
Softly reassuring them there's no reason to run away.
They're covered with snow, and one is trying to lick flakes off of the other.
The snow is falling fast, and I'm smiling again.

Alabama is a turning point

...if Democratic voters can rally to win in Alabama, they can rally and win anywhere.

We had an inkling that the tide was turning against the republicans with the upset in Va., but there was still a lingering risk that republican voters would overcome the nationwide rejection of Trump and republican policy and, nonetheless, show up in numbers large enough to beat us at the polls.

Alabama is a major repudiation of the media's insistence that Trump's 'base' is fireproof and inviolable. You can bet there are more than a few republican pols quaking in their boots today, worried that their dwindled approval ratings are irreversible and can't be overcome by tried-and-true right-wing, dog-whistle appeals to their bigoted, racist electorate.

What's more, black voters are fully realizing the power of their participation at voting time. That's icing on the cake to have such an influential and loyal base of Democratic voters energized and active at such a pivotal point in our history.

These are politicians making political judgments about Franken, not necessarily moral ones

...and dirt-dumb political strategy, at that.

'Zero-tolerance' is being used here as a slogan, not a responsible policy which will judge accusations on merit and degree. There needs to be some system in place in which there are clear, defined guidelines for behavior and consequences which are mindful of the degree of the offenses or allegations.

Moreover, there needs to be more than just some semblance of due process, especially when making judgments about anonymous or unsubstantiated accusations. Due process isn't some dodge, it's an integral function of our system of justice.

Then there's still the matter of the precedent set for this forced resignation from Franken's own party members rushing to protect their political selves without regard to the almost certain exploitation by republicans of some Democratic pols' reflexive need to self-immolate, and their timidity in demanding accountability from their republican counterparts.

This isn't a 'line drawn in the sand' as some have mused, unless it's applied to more than just our own party, and unless it's applied with fairness, based on clear evidence of actual harm to someone, not just a bruise on a party's political profile.

They took down one of our best fighters against Trump with mostly anonymous complaints

...mostly unbelievable complaints, at that. At the very least, this should have been buttressed by a dual call for the resignation of the POTUS for his own 'admitted' crimes against women.

What happens next should be obvious to all. Republicans will continue to deny wrongdoing and evade accountability, still in power, still crafting legislation and advancing Trump's dismantling of democracy.

The right-wing has to be overjoyed. This is a formula that has worked since Iran-Contra failed to bring down Reagan-Bush, and has been a standard of republican politics since Democrats failed to hold Bush Jr. accountable for tortures, renditions, and for his lies leading the nation to war in Iraq (the consequences, a continued war).

We paid with 'Benghazi' investigations, and a phony email investigation which were allowed to mushroom as Democrats allowed both undue legitimacy, and even encouragement from some of our quarters, in the case of Hillary's emails.

If this latest self-immolation isn't part of a larger strategy of zero-tolerance for more than just our own party members, it will turn out to be a dagger in the back of every other attempt to hold republicans and their WH accountable, at least for the foreseeable future.

Whether or not Trump camp committed a crime, it was direct, covert action against interests of U.S.



Asha Rangappa‏ @AshaRangappa_
7. I explain all this to give some context to how extraordinary and serious the sanctions that the Obama admin took last December were. This was not just one diplomat, but *35*. And it was done very publicly.

Asha Rangappa‏ @AshaRangappa_
8. The idea was to send a VERY strong message that the U.S. knew that Russia had meddled in the election, and that there were going to be consequences. Clearly both the CIA and State were on board with this.

Asha Rangappa‏ @AshaRangappa_
9. For an incoming admin to covertly, and against the explicit request of the Obama admin, to send messages directly contradicting the official US stance is crazy. Apart from making the US look weak and impotent, it essentially was telling Russia that what it did was OK.

Asha Rangappa‏ @AshaRangappa_
10. Whether or not these actions amounted to a crime, it was a coordinated, covert effort directly against the interests of the United States. It threw off what was likely a lot of planning and analyses and contingencies that various agencies had prepared.

Asha Rangappa‏ @AshaRangappa_
11. I think when we focus exclusively on the criminality aspect, we (continue to) miss how these efforts essentially aided and abetted a hostile foreign state who attacked our country. That is the big picture.

Mueller cleverly loaded the bases today

...Manafort and Gates indictments, although unrelated directly to the Trump campaign, provide top level officials in that election effort (charges including period of their involvement w/ the campaign), engaged in stunningly egregious criminal behavior, for public consumption.

At the same time, the Papadopolous guilty plea, very likely unveiled today to coincide with the indictments, provides a standard prosecution effort, much like an organized crime prosecution, working the case from the bottom to the top, turning defendants into witnesses for the prosecution along the way.

Mueller has brilliantly covered all bases today, effectively refuting any speculation or spin that he's only ensnaring small fish in his dragnet (strongly signaling that he's fully engaged in prosecuting collusion with Russia, and Russian interference in the election).

Stirring Up The Dust At Ground Zero

. . . this is an essay/article I wrote on September 10, 2006. I would have wanted to write something new for the remembrance today, but I think this says it all for me.

What's missing, of course, is a critique of our current President's attitude and policy response to the militarism the last administration adopted as a result of the sad events of that tragic day. However, I think we can certainly recall Bush's malfeasance and his anti-constitutional power-grab. We can also judge for ourselves where this president has embraced the vestiges of the former CiC's opportunistic militarism, and determine for ourselves whether or not he has adopted or co-opted planks of Bush's 'terror war.' Maybe we can learn something by looking back at our response to the republican President who presided over it all. -Ron

"I will show you fear in a handful of dust." -- T.S. Eliot

Is there anything more repugnant than hearing bin-Laden's taunting words so close to the anniversary of the 9-11 attacks? I don't mean the latest video he sent Bush to amp up the president's fear and smear campaign. I'm not thinking of the grainy shots of bin-Laden greeting his accomplices out in the open air of his mountain refuge.

Bush has been practicing his new protection scheme this past week with a series of speeches in which, as the explainer-in-chief, he's been methodical and zealous in his elevation of Osama bin-Laden; carefully reciting the most offensive and threatening of the terrorist's statements and dispatches. Beginning in the second in his series of speeches, Bush chose the moment right after he had remarked on the "flood of painful memories" and the "horror of watching planes fly into the World Trade Center", to amplify bin-Laden's gloating remarks that the attack was "an unparalleled and magnificent feat of valor, unmatched by any in humankind." On Sept.11 he'll travel to New York's 'Ground Zero' looking for a pile of rubble and a bullhorn to elevate himself and talk down to us from some lofty perch.

Bush is desperate to revive and re-animate the demoted specter he had called his "prime suspect" in 2001. "I want justice," Bush had said then. "There's an old poster out West… I recall, that said, 'Wanted, Dead or Alive.' Six months after the attacks, however, he simply turned away from his 'hunt' and acted as if he didn't care anymore about catching him. Our forces had Bin-Laden cornered at Tora Bora, and then, he was allowed to escape into the mountains. "I don't know where he is," Bush replied when asked why the terrorist hadn't been caught. "I-I'll repeat what I said, Bush sputtered, "I am truly not that concerned about him."

It's five years from the date of the attacks, and Bush has finally found cause for concern. His party is poised to lose their majority in the House and, possibly, in the Senate. Voter opposition to Bush's occupation in Iraq has pulled his republicans down in the polls and threatens to take away the power that enabled him commit the troops to Iraq and keep them there. The specter of Osama bin-Laden is the only wedge Bush has to rally his dwindling base and convince voters that his party should be allowed to continue to lord over the authority they squandered in the five years since the attacks.

It's strange to hear Bush bring up bin-Laden. Bush has barely mentioned the terrorist since he claimed to be unconcerned about his whereabouts. In fact, the Senate went ahead and unanimously passed a Democratic amendment this week which restored the Pentagon unit charged with finding bin-Laden that Bush just up and closed without offering an alternative strategy or effort. In Bush's updated, 'National Strategy for Combating Terrorism' that he references in his speeches, Osama bin-Laden is mentioned only once, in a reference to his 'privileged upbringing'. Dredging up all of the offensive rhetoric from bin-Laden now is designed to re-inflate those emotions that were so raw right after the horror unfolded; that uncertainty and anxiety which made Americans fold in the face of his consolidation of power.

Bush's own initial reaction to the terrorist attacks on 9-11 was a mix of paranoia and bluster as he cast the fight as a defense of 'freedom' that he said the attackers wanted to 'destroy'. "They hate our freedoms - our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other," he declared in an address to a joint session of Congress. In his statement at the signing of the "anti-terrorism," Patriot Act, in October 2001, six weeks after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, President Bush claimed that the measure would counter the threat of enemies that "recognize no barrier of morality and have no conscience." He sought to assure that the measure "upheld and respected the civil liberties guaranteed by our Constitution." He ends his statement with a pledge to enforce the law with "all of the urgency of a nation at war."

However, the President neglected to tell us which war he was referring to. The anti-terrorism measure was cobbled together in a few short months to take political advantage of the urge in Congress for a legislative response to the terrorist attacks, despite the president's claim that the bill was "carefully drafted and considered." It was a direct assault on the liberty, privacy, and free expression of all Americans.

From that document came a flood of legislative 'remedies' that would take advantage of the administration's blanket excuse of 'national security' that they and their minions in Congress draped over every stalled piece of legislation that could be remotely tied to their 'war on terror'.

But, their transparent politicking with their new anti-terror tools had nothing at all to do with catching the perpetrators they said were responsible for the 9-11 attacks. Their hunt became eclipsed by the violence their Iraq diversion had produced. Iraq became a terror magnet, just as Bush had planned. Instead of just "fighting them over there", our occupation had the effect of producing more individuals with a grudge who would do our troops, our interests, and our allies harm.

No amount of saber-rattling at Iran, showdowns with North Korea, or escalation of troops in Iraq to further prop up the crumbling Maliki regime can substitute for bringing bin-Laden to justice. Five years on the loose has made the terrorist into an inspiration for others who have been provoked by the mindless collateral killings by the U.S. in Bush's dual Mideast occupations. Yet, Bush has decided to elevate bin-Laden even more in his speeches and remembrances leading up to the 9-11 commemorations.

In Bush's radio address for Sunday, he speaks of a 'solemn occasion' and proceeds to muddy it up with more of bin-Laden's taunts. The president advances the terrorist's call for a Caliphate as he bids us to "hear the words" of the terrorist. "Osama bin Laden has called the 9/11 attacks, "A great step toward the unity of Muslims and establishing the righteous Caliphate," Bush tells us. "Al Qaeda and its allies reject any possibility of coexistence with those they call "infidels."

Hear the words of Osama bin Laden," Bush says about his partner. In their respective protection schemes, both use the extreme violent reactions of the other to justify their self-appointed roles as saviors and protectors of their followers. Both are counting on their words to elicit fear among their minions and their foes alike, but, Bush is playing bin-Laden's surrogate in this latest promotion; elevating the terrorist to a political equal, looking to give bin-Laden's words a place in our commemorations; hoping Americans will focus on the barbarity and zeal of the attacker rather than his own inability to suppress and capture him.

So, Monday, in his 9-11 commemoration tour, Bush will return to Ground Zero, looking for rubble and a bull horn to elevate his made-up role as protector-in-chief. But, the residents there have gone on with their lives, removed the debris, and paved over the hallowed ground for politicians to come and preach, and for others, to pray.

All that is left in that city of the tragedy of September 11 are survivors and memories; and dust; the scattered remains from those pernicious, poisonous mountains of dust that exploded from the towers as they fell. The dust of the humanity of innocents and terrorists alike co-mingled with the debris, hovering for an eternity before it fell down upon the city; memories and the past inextricably mingled in the miasmic haze.

Bush can do nothing this September 11 except stir up settled dust from that hallowed ground; stirring up resentments and recriminations, deliberately soiling his immaculate cloak. He will not be there to unify our nation, as it had come together on its own right after the attacks. He's coming to Ground Zero with bin-Laden's specter on his sleeve, looking for a political lift out of his swaggering militarism.

He will be looking to widen the divide that he's been nurturing since he ascended to power between those who have resisted his imperious grab for false authority in the wake of the violence, and those who still believe that he's protecting them with his blustering militarism and assaults on our own civil liberties.

However, there is no pile of rubble and humanity left in New York, or anywhere else, that Bush can stand on and bullhorn his way back into the nation's confidence. Some of the disturbed dust has revealed a shameful, reckless indifference to catching bin-Laden, as those individuals in the top echelons of our government who were responsible for directing our nation's defenses ignored the myriad of reports coming from the agents in the field. His 'War on Terrorism' has been nothing more than a scam unleashed against the liberties of blameless Americans, and his collateral military campaigns have had a unifying effect among those combatants in Iraq and Afghanistan who would resist his swaggering imperialism and consolidation of power.

Bush spoke of "vigilance" at the end of his radio address. "With vigilance, determination and courage, we will defeat the enemies of freedom," he says, "and we will leave behind a more peaceful world for our children and our grandchildren. That's an amazing contradiction to his own strident use of our nation's military to overthrow and occupy two sovereign nations in his term. It's a load of hubris from Bush, who has pledged to continue the occupation of Iraq "as long as he's president", and has bequeathed the disaster to "future presidents.'"

Abraham Lincoln spoke of our responsibility to vigilance at a debate in Edwardsville, Illinois, on September 11, 1858:

"While the people retain their virtue and vigilance," he said, "no administration, by any extreme of wickedness or folly, can very seriously injure the government in the short space of four years."

"What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence is not our frowning battlements, our bristling seacoast, the guns of our war steamers, or the strength of our gallant and disciplined army. These are not the reliance against the resumption of tyranny in our fair land. All of them may be turned against our liberties without making us stronger or weaker for the struggle."

"Our reliance is in the love of liberty, which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is the preservation of the spirit, which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands everywhere." Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism at your down doors."

"Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage," Lincoln warned, "and you prepare your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of others, you have lost the genius of your own independence and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises among you."

We must resolve ourselves to vigilance against Bush's campaign to divide Americans into those who support his terror policies that he regards as patriots; and those who resist his imperious assaults on our civil liberties, diversion of forces and resources to Iraq, and his failure to catch the perpetrators defined in the very authorization that he claims gives him the power to ignore our nation's laws and our Constitution, that he portrays as traitors.

"By the frame of the government under which we live," Lincoln said, "these same people have wisely given their public servants but little power for mischief; and have, with equal wisdom, provided for the return of that little to their own hands at very short intervals."

Come, November we must hasten the return of our democracy to our hands. No amount of fear-mongering from Bush and his murderous specter should be allowed to stand in the way. Bush should not be allowed to dictate our future to us, using the voice of this terrorist's violence.


'Praying for People in Texas'

colmant_‏ @colmant_ 4m4 minutes ago

to Dalai_1

Trump's Arpaio Pardon is a Constitutional Crisis

...you don't need to look any further than the crime he's pardoning Arpaio for.

from Bloomberg:

If President Donald Trump pardons Joe Arpaio, as he broadly hinted at during a rally Tuesday in Arizona, it would not be an ordinary exercise of the power -- it would be an impeachable offense. Arpaio, the former sheriff of Arizona’s Maricopa County, was convicted of criminal contempt of court for ignoring the federal judge’s order that he follow the U.S. Constitution in doing his job. For Trump to pardon him would be an assault on the federal judiciary, the Constitution and the rule of law itself...

Specifically, Arpaio was convicted this July by Judge Susan Bolton of willfully and intentionally violating an order issued to him in 2011 by a different federal judge, G. Murray Snow.

Federal judges don’t much like it when their orders are flouted. Snow held extensive hearings in November 2015, and in July 2016 he issued a lengthy opinion finding Arpaio in civil contempt of court. Snow didn’t mince words. He wrote that the department’s “constitutional violations are broad in scope, involve its highest ranking command staff, and flow into its management of internal affairs investigations...”

Judge Bolton convicted Arpaio of criminal contempt. She found he had “willfully violated” the federal court’s order “by failing to do anything to ensure his subordinates’ compliance and by directing them to continue to detain persons for whom no criminal charges could be filed.” And she held that Arpaio had “announced to the world and to his subordinates that he was going to continue business as usual no matter who said otherwise.”

This is the crime that Trump is suggesting he might pardon: willful defiance of a federal judge’s lawful order to enforce the Constitution...

Consider that Trump's reasoning for the pardon was made clear in his tweet announcing the deed, essentially praising Arpaio for his anti-constitutional acts (assumed culpable of those crimes by virtue of the pardon) and calling him a "patriot."

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
I am pleased to inform you that I have just granted a full Pardon to 85 year old American patriot Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He kept Arizona safe!
10:00 PM - Aug 25, 2017

This is the President of the United States officially approving flagrant violations of the Constitution; openly subverting a bedrock foundation of our democracy which is at the heart of the oath he swore in front of the nation - the Constitution he swore to 'preserve, protect and defend.'

—"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
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