Pitchforks, Torches and Democracy (Re)Awakened?

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If there is one thing that politicians do not like (and there are many), it is being held accountable, especially in the form of answering direct questions. Generally, they don’t answer such questions. They talk, and talk, but they don’t often answer. Town Hall meetings, a most cherished democratic tradition, have been the venue of extreme discomfort for elected officials the past few weeks.  Angry constituents have placed so many politicians on the hot seat in these meetings that many are opting out of the traditional venue and hiding behind conference calls where questions can be screened, and ignored.

In recent weeks over 23 elected officials have opted for the safety of conference call bunkers in place of face to face town halls, including Tom MacArthur (NJ), Carlos Cubelo (FL), Martha McSally (AZ), Ron DeSantis (FL), Ken Buck (CO), Chris Stewart (UT), Mike Kelly (PA), Matt Gaetz (FL), Brian Babin (TX), Michael Burgess (TX), Randy Weber (TX), Kay Granger (TX), John Culberson (TX), Peter Roskam (IL), Dan Donovan (NY), Patrick Meehan (PA), Rodney Davis (MI), Barbara Comstock (VA), Elise Stefanik (NY), Bill Huizenga (PA) and Mike Bishop (MI). The fact that they are all Republicans may or may not be a coincidence. Nevertheless, they are hunkering down with their security blankets, to avoid the fate of their fellow officials.

In a recent Town Hall meeting, Senator Tom Cotton had to deal with two hours of direct democracy, peppered with questions on immigration, healthcare and the actions of the Trump Administration. Flustered and unable or unwilling to directly answer simple questions, he was not the only senator this past week to hear chants of “Do you job”.

Representative Buddy Carter was so overwhelmed by his constituents and their taxing questions regarding the Trump Administration, he hid behind the Bible and defended President Trump by stating “I am not here to tell you Donald Trump is perfect. I am not here to tell you I agree with everything he has done. Those of you who have studied the Bible know that God has used imperfect people to do great things before”.

Senator Joni Ernst, 45 minutes into her town hall meeting, abruptly left to loud jeers and chants of “Your last term”.

And finally, (but probably not if politicians again venture forth among the people), the people are proving more informed and educated than their political servants, as Representative Tom Reed got schooled by a woman over his remarks on Planned Parenthood. Reed made the mistake of sharing his canned position, stating “I do not support taxpayer-funded paying of abortion”. Amid the boos a woman quickly educated him on what he should know (or does and ignores) when she said “You, an elected official, are giving misinformation. Right now, our taxes do not pay for abortions, they pay for mammograms, they pay for birth control. Planned Parenthood, less than 3 percent of the services they provide is abortion. And none of that 3 percent is funded by you” she noted just in case he did not get the message. She was apparently referring to the Hyde Amendment.

Today’s pitchforks and torches come in the form of an enraged electorate armed with fact-checking tools and one of democracy’s oldest traditions, the Town Hall, hostile territory for those politicians unable or unwilling to take responsibility, assume accountability and simply, listen to the people you serve. Has Democracy (re)awakened?

 

 

 

 

Sorry Kids, You Don’t Matter

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Today, fifty soul-less Republican lawmakers, with the historical assistance of an equally heartless Vice President Pence, taught the students of America a brutal lesson in democracy.

Today Betsy DeVos and her family’s Republican campaign contributions bought the highest education office in America, Secretary of Education.  No matter that she is woefully unqualified for the job ahead, knows nothing professionally or personally about the American public school system (save for the need of guns to protect against bears), advocates using taxpayer funds to move students into private, for-profit schools and stumbled like an overwhelmed student who had not done her homework during her confirmation hearings.

None of that mattered.  The children did not matter. What did matter were her contributions of $115,000 to individual Republicans, her family contributions of $950,000 to individual Republicans and DeVos family contributions of $8,300,000 to Republican SuperPacs during the past couple of election cycles.

Only two Republicans showed decency and the ability to do what is simplistically right by the children.  Senators Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Susan Collins (ME) voted against the confirmation of Mrs. DeVos.  Two.  Two women.

And what is the lesson for the children of America, their real-world lesson in democracy?  If there is enough money kids, you don’t matter.  Not in this Congress, not in this administration, not with this “so-called” president.

Long Hiatus Is Over

Our long, long hiatus from posting is over.  It is infinitely unimportant why we took such a long break, but it does matter (at least to us) why were are back.  We have elected a (insert numerous and factual derogatory descriptors) president that should not, shall not go unchallenged in his alternate universe prosecution of his job.  Stay ready…

Government Of, By And For Wall Street (Or How Congress Castrated Dodd-Frank In Time For Corporate Christmas Parties)

The ongoing incestuous love-fest between Wall Street and the federal government was blatantly on display recently as Congress passed the $1.1 Trillion (we just have to cap that word) bill with broad bipartisan support. The bill essentially castrates previous financial reform of 2010 under Dodd-Frank. Now, or should we say yet again, the American taxpayer will assume all of the burden of high-risk activities of the major banks. It is back to the future, this is what gave us the wonderful economy and job situation of 2008. Wells-Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Citi Group control over 90% of the derivatives market and will be able to roll the dice on anything and know the American taxpayer is there to empty their wallets of those minimum wage dollars to bail them out…again. In fact, Citigroup was so helpful as to literally write the bill for Congress, almost word for word.

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Chart-Mother Jones

We have taken yet another giant leap for corporate personhood on the highway to becoming a government of, by and for corporations. Since Congress has been sold yet again, perhaps Citi Group et al received a written receipt, not that they will want to return the goods.

Obama Attends Meeting Of The President's Export Council

Before you place all the blame on Geriatric GOPers keep in mind that quite a few dimwitted and spinless Democrats supported this bill. And the president himself shoulders some blame, not that he would admit it. In his usual amateur politicing he tried to take a position yet, not really. Publicly he opposed the bill while more privately he lobbied Democrats to pass the bill. We wonder if he ran into JPMorgan Chase Chairman/CEO Jamie Dimon as he too was personally lobbying individual members of Congress.

The president’s own party leadership, fading Nancy Pelosi and ascending Elizbeth Warren (who appears to be the only person in government with the intelligence and fortitude to call Wall Street on its outright lies) are wondering aloud what this president is doing. We can help with that question if they just ask. Follow the money, later. When the president leaves office, in time he will become quite wealthy with speaking engagements, endorsements, books and no doubt, a few lucrative board and advisor roles in one or more of those companies we mentioned above.

A government of, by and for the People? If there is a chance to keep it that way the People need to get involved and hold government officials and corporations responsible. If it is not already too late with this corporate coup.

IF IT WALKS LIKE A DUCK…IT IS WHAT IT IS

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In President Obama’s speech outlining his strategy for dealing with ISIL he emphatically made a point to separate ISIL from Islam. “ISIL is not Islamic” he stated. This may be news to the leadership and fighters of ISIL, all of whom are followers of Islam and fighting and committing horrific acts in the name of Islam.

The President made his case by stating “In a region that has known so much bloodshed, these terrorists are unique in their brutality. They execute captured prisoners. They kill children. They enslave, rape, and force women into marriage. They threatened a religious minority with genocide”. It seems the President has chosen to forget history or perhaps never knew it. These barbarous acts he described are exactly how Islam spread as a religion 1,200 years ago. The President’s own words and logic not only refute his argument, they make the point on how completely wrong he is.

It would take political courage on the world stage to call ISIL what it is and that is something we have learned not to expect from this president, the same president seen by many in the Middle East, most notably Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, as an outright ally of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Perhaps the Australians would believe President Obama that ISIL is not Islamic. But perhaps not since this morning 800 Aussie police officers served 25 search warrants that apparently prevented the random public beheadings of innocent Australians in the name of ISIL and Islam.

Saying that ISIL is not Islamic is like saying the Crusaders were not Christian, the Nazis were not German and the North Koreans are not Communist. It does not change the fact by tepidly tip-toeing around reality, they are. It’s a duck (with apologies to ducks), not a Dove.

OBAMA TRADES LIVES FOR A PHOTO OP

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If you think Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is a hero, stop reading now. If you can’t handle the truth of what this man is, stop reading now. More importantly, if you think President Obama has the best interest of this country in mind by negotiating with terrorists in this case, please, stop reading now.

There is no way for President Obama and his administration to sell their story of rescuing an American hero to even the most naive and ignorant among us, numerous though they may be. No, no…no. Bluntly, almost no one can be so stupid as to accept it. But you have the usual howling group of mendacious politicos giving it lip service even though they know the truth.

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How do we know the truth? Don’t ask the politicians. Don’t ask the media. Don’t even ask the generals (they have their gag orders, you can be sure). Ask the men who served with Bergdahl what they know. Ask them independently, ask them collectively and compare their stories. You will see remarkable consistency and thought on Bergdahl, and none of it is related to the Obama spin machine.

“The fact of the matter is, he deserted us in the middle of Afghanistan to go and find the Taliban.  People calling him a hero, people calling him this great soldier, it’s a spit in the face to the soldiers who were there… and more importantly it’s a spit in the face to the soldiers who died as a direct result of him leaving.”  said former team leader former Army Sgt. Evan Buetow to CNN.

Former Sgt. Matt Vierkant, a member of Bergdahl’s platoon at the time he deserted on June 30, 2009 als told CNN “Bowe Bergdahl deserted during a time of war, and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him”.

Also, many soldiers in Bergdahl’s platoon said Taliban attacks increased in Paktika province in the weeks after his disappearance.

“Any of us would have died for him while he was with us, and then for him to just leave us like that, it was a very big betrayal,” said former U.S. Army Sgt. Josh Korder

Keep in mind that, according to CNN, the 7 men who served most closely with Bergdahl as well as those in the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, were ordered to sign non-disclosure statements regarding Berfdahl’s desertion and the deadly efforts to rescue him, efforts that killed 6 Americans and wounded others.

Bergdahl tweeted anti-American comments before he deserted his post. Bergdahl shipped home personal items such as his guitar before he left his post. Bergdahl laid down his rifle before he left his post. This was a conscious, planned desertion, not an impulsive act of frustration.

And lest you think we are part of a right wing or Republican effort making these statements for political gain against the president, talk to Senator Diane Feinstein, Democrat, “I strongly believe that we should have been consulted, that the law should have been followed. And I very much regret that that was not the case…”.

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But the most disturbing story is not Bergdahl, it is the president. Bergdahl will be dealt with in time. As for the president?   He apparently broke the law.  He set a dangerous precedent by negotiating with Terrorists and it will cost us lives in the future.  He released a handful of senior Al Qaeda members from Guantanmo. Again, that will cost us lives in the future. He dishonored the six men who died trying to rescue Bergdahl, the others wounded and all of those that have sacrificed in the war in Afghanistan. And he did this for what?  A photo op?  Who is the real traitor here?

LEFT COAST PATRIOTISM SIGHTED IN MARIN COUNTY CALIFORNIA ON MEMORIAL DAY

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Photo by Frankie Frost, Marin Independent Journal

Marin County, California is rich with the 5th highest per capital income in the US.  It is also Caucasian (86%), educated (55% Bachelors degree or higher), small (260,000 people, 520 square miles) and politically Berkeley-esque.  It is a prime market for Teslas and BMWs and Priuses.  It is the home of John Walker Lindh, the American Islamist terrorist captured as an enemy combatant during the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan.  Marin County is many things but good old fashioned Rockwellian patriotic is not usually considered one of them.  People should reconsider that.

Each year at the Veterans Auditorium of the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Marin Civic Center, itself a National Historic Landmark, Memorial Day services are held.  The usual local mendacious politicians sit on stage but so do representatives of various American Legion and VFW posts and until recently, a Pearl Harbor survivor.  His empty chair makes as much of a statement as the MIA/POW table does.

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Photo by Frankie Frost, Marin Independent Journal

There is a featured speaker, usually an active or retired military person.  This year it was retired Lt. Commander Ted Robinson, 95, who as a young PT boat Ensign was the man who rescued John Kennedy and his crew after their famous PT109 was cut in half by a Japanese destroyer in 1943.

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Photo by Frankie Frost, Marin Independent Journal

The Lt. Commander had the strong voice of a 40 year old and the sharpness of mind as well as humor of a comedian.  He enthralled the audience who interrupted him twice with standing ovations.  In that audience was a stream of old fashioned patriotism; high school ROTC students, Blue Star Moms, Patriot Guard Riders, and many former and current military who all had a chance to stand up and be recognized by great applause when the band played their service song.

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Photo by Gail Giacimini

After the indoor service concluded hundreds of people walked outside to the Avenue of the Flags where they witnessed various wreath laying by different organizations at the Army, Navy, Marine Corp, Air Force and Merchant Marine statues of different wars.  They then stood silently and for some, with tears as Taps was played.

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Photo by Gail Giacimini

Marin County: Rich, Democratic, Liberal, …and patriotic on Memorial Day.