Signing Off

After 11 months and 20 posts, I am ending the Admitted Liberal blog.  It has been a great experiment that has provided me a better understanding of how the digital world works, both the technical and the societal, though I still have plenty to learn.  I intend to explore future blogging options, but with a domain theme that doesn’t automatically revile nearly half of the nation or is limited strictly to politics.

I’ve enjoyed researching the topics, trying to reframe some concepts and hearing what my subscribers have had to say, both on-line and off.  Unsurprisingly, not all of you agreed with what I had to share, but everyone was civil in their responses, which I appreciate.  

I am not ending this blog due to a sudden disinterest in politics or the welfare of our republic.  I will continue to act, phone, contribute and vote as I always have (and I hereby reserve the right to make the occasional political comment on any future blog platform I develop).  But in addition to being literarily confined by the parameters of this blog’s domain name, I realize that I am for the most part, preaching to the choir.  Fortunately there are a myriad of other sources—in print, on-line and on cable–available for all of my readers to get the information they seek.  

I’m also ending this endeavor because I don’t feel that I’m helping to bridge the huge national divide.  I’m pretty sure that none of the President’s guild are reading my entries, and even if they were, are not being swayed.  It is a little fortuitous that between the second and third drafts of this post I discovered an opinion piece in the (failing) New York Times entitled When Smug Liberals Met Conservative Trolls in which the author attempts to diagnose why the two political flanks can’t find common ground.  I admittedly do not and cannot understand why at least 35% of opinion-poll-taking American adults support the current POTUS.  I cannot hear the reasons for their political views without becoming irate.  The opinions they offer are based either on misinformation or disinformation, are often lacking in logic and are almost always revealing a selfish “what about me?” motive.  Until I can find either the patience or the empathy required to calmly interact with those I see as the enemy, I believe I need to resist “feeding the trolls”.

Lastly, while I still believe it’s important to be informed and involved, the time spent researching and writing about our dysfunctional system can really take an emotional toll on one’s psyche.  It is reassuring that there are journalists, columnists and commentators willing and able to keep up with the madness, but for me, the cumulative hours spent probing our current demise has intensified the dark disposition that many of us are experiencing each day.  Why would I choose to end this blog the same week that we had the implementation of distracting tariffs, Gary Cohn’s departure from the White House, Stormy Daniels’ countersuit and the announcement of a bromance with Kim Jong-un?  Exactly.  While I really am optimistic about our future, my acute focus on events of the past year have sometimes left me feeling like a character in Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, seeing no end in sight.  The remedy, I think, is for me to impose a little distance.

To those of you who have inquired about my book, thank you for your interest.  My novel was actually put into a medically-induced coma during the holidays and will now be undergoing fresh diagnostics, hopefully followed by a positive prognosis.  I am retaining the addresses of those who subscribed to this blog and may generate a single, unsolicited email to announce a new blog roll-out or a book launch, should either of those events occur.

Thank you for your faithfulness and your encouragement.  To end on a positive tone, I want to leave you with a quote from a dear friend of mine:

“In Mueller we trust!”




Georgia On My Mind

Whether true or not, social media and the 24-hour news cycle make some of us feel as though we are experiencing the most dynamic era in human history.  It would be impossible to track all important daily events, partly due to the volume, partly due to the filters that our preferred news sources utilize and partly due to so many unimportant events (e.g. what did Kim K. do today?) competing for time and space.  But there are two things going on in the state of Georgia today that everyone should be aware of.

The first thing is Georgia SB 375, a bill that the Georgia senate passed last Friday by a vote of 35 to 19.  Entitled “Keep Faith in Adoption and Foster Care Act”, it would allow private adoption agencies—who accept taxpayer fundsto refuse placing children with same-sex couples.  The actual wording of the bill is “…allow a child-placing agency to decline to accept a referral from the department and decline to perform services not referred under a contract with the department based on the child-placing agency’s sincerely held religious beliefs.”  According to, the lead sponsor of the bill, Republican William Ligon,  indicated that “Just because you are a faith-based organization, doesn’t mean you have to check your faith at the door and cannot participate in government programs.”  One presumes, then, that if an agency’s god didn’t approve of inter-racial marriage or even inter-faith marriages, they could refuse placing children with couples meeting those descriptions.  But the main thrust of the legislation appears to be another attempt to allow someone’s feelings to override someone else’s rights, specifically, those of gay people.

I’m not sure what sort of constitution they’ve got down in the Peach State, but we have a national constitution that is fairly clear on some things, despite a barrage of recent court challenges.  One of those things is found in the first amendment, which reads “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  I have always understood that sentence to mean that our government will neither make me worship in a particular way nor prevent me from worshiping in a particular way (unless that worship results in activities that have been prohibited by a constitutionally supported law).  The very title of the Georgia bill seems to suggest that someone’s religious beliefs will become a litmus test for someone else’s chance to adopt or foster a child and Senator Ligon’s characterization of the bill indicates that he would like Georgia to finance that test.

This is just the most current example of arguments that have been going on for years.  What can churches say or do without putting their tax-exempt status in jeopardy?  What can some religious hospitals or schools refuse to do and still accept government monies?  And while I still find myself on the fence as to exactly what behavior our government can require of private religious institutions who mind their own business, I feel no ambiguity as to what it can require of those sucking on the public teat.  If you want to preach politics to your congregation each Sunday, then pay your taxes like everyone else.  If you don’t want to perform abortions in your clinics or teach science in your classrooms (wait, when did we start talking about Texas?), then stop accepting government funds to keep your doors open.

I’d also like to remind the good folk of Georgia that homosexuality is neither a choice nor contagious, but it is legal, as is the ability for same-sex couples to marry and even to be parents.  Gay people enjoy the same rights as any other citizen in this country.  While those rights include being able to despise someone else, they do not include the ability to strip rights from those we dislike.

The second thing going on in the Goober State involves the Lieutenant Governor (and gubernatorial-hopeful), Casey Cagel who is threatening Delta Airlines with negative tax legislation if it doesn’t reinstate its relationship with the NRA.  

Though it is safe to say that most of us have never worked in the meat industry, we have a vague idea of how sausage is made.  And while most of us have never been lawmakers, we intrinsically know that there have been unscrupulous, unfair and self-serving deals made in backrooms ever since they created politicians and taxes.  But I can’t think of a more brazen and public example of attempting to use one’s political office to punish (or reward) an entity for having a different political opinion.  I can only surmise that Mr. Cagel believes the potential pay-off for this political theater out-weighs the risk of being removed for abuse of his office.  Maybe he knows what he’s doing.  I don’t live in Georgia.  And I don’t how much Casey has historically received from the NRA, but I bet the blood ink is still wet on the fat check his campaign is about to get.

Delta announced that it was ending its discount program offered to NRA members because “…it will not support organizations on any side of any highly charged political issue that divides our nation”.  The Lt. Governor tweeted that “Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back.”

I try not to use the proverbial broad brush, but the Lt. Gov. has wrapped all conservatives in a single cloak, suggesting they all support the gun manufacturer’s chief lobbyist and hatchet man (the NRA), so I’ll join him.  I’ll assume, too, that every conservative in Georgia is a gun-owning NRA member who believes the second amendment guarantees them the right to own a weapon of war and that any law preventing the sale of any gun just propels Big Brother’s scheme to come in the night and castrate them.  But the stereotype also mandates that every conservative has a love affair with unfettered business.  Have we finally verified what it will take for an American company to feel the sting of a Republican whip?

Delta (whose crime was attempting to minimize it’s perceived support for the merchants of death), is a publicly traded company with over 80,000 employees that happens to be tied for 13th of Georgia’s largest employers and is directly linked to millions of dollars in annual revenue generated by its largest hub, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International airport.  It has not suggested that those who support responsible gun ownership are wrong or are not deserving of a cheap flight.  I believe it just recognized that the organization pretending to represent those citizens is really just a divisive money-making machine that plays on people’s fears while sharing complicity for getting people killed.

So what are you going to do, Georgia?  Do you believe a child should remain in an institution rather than in the home of a loving couple who want and are willing to take him/her based on an individuals unfounded bias?  Are you willing to codify and then subsidize prejudice?  

Are you going to allow elected officials to alienate and punish one of your largest economic engines due to a perceived slight?  And would your answer be different if Delta had in fact advocated for more gun control?  Your Lt. Governor is banking on the belief that you’ve become so polarized and dogmatic that you actually believe law makers should craft economic policies to benefit only those who share their political views, to reward loyalty.  Is he right?  

You’re on my  mind, Georgia.


What’s A Beto?

To those friends and family that I left back in Texas, to other readers who care about the Lone Star State and to ANYONE who would like to end Senator Ted Cruz’s destructive incumbency and impede his stated path to the White House, I call your attention to Congressman Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke and the links below.  

If Beto tics enough of your boxes and you have a dollar or two to spare, keep in mind that the DNC has little intention of using its resources against Cruz in what it foolishly still labels a firmly red state, but miracles can happen.

Lone Star Longshot

Who’s Beto O’Rourke

Beto for Senate

Thank You!

Tipping Point?

On Valentines’s Day a 19-year-old man murdered 17 students and staff at a high school in Parkland, Florida with an AR-15 (ArmaLite) style rifle, which he apparently obtained legally.  As of this writing, the size of the bullet magazine(s) involved has not been released, but clips containing from 5 to 60 rounds of ammunition (and even a 100-round drum), can be obtained for the type of rifle used, with a 30-round clip being the most common.  Florida is not one of the eight states that limits magazine size, so regardless what capacity boxes the shooter used, they were apparently legal as well.  AR-15 style rifles are classified as semi-automatic because while an ammunition magazine can reload the gun automatically, each firing of the gun requires an actual pull and release of the trigger.

Within hours of confirmation of the tragedy, politicians went to their corners.  A handful of liberal law makers called for stricter gun laws and nearly every conservative law-maker sent thoughts and prayers with reminders that “this is not the time to discuss gun control”, once again engaging in what appears to be our new favorite national pastime: Shoot, Bury, Repeat.

The initial responses were followed by the usual avalanche of commentary from all sides.  One example that caught my attention appeared on ABC’s The View on friday.  The panel included Meghan McCain, daughter of Senator John McCain.  I don’t share many political opinions with either McCain, but I appreciate that they are usually measured and thoughtful in their remarks.  Meghan’s school shooting remarks made to her fellow hosts were also measured and thoughtful, or at least well-intended.  She began by reaffirming that she is a proud member of the NRA.  She then correctly pointed out that Democrats bear some responsibility for the current gun laws as they did nothing to re-enact the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban that expired in 2004, even though they controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress in 2009 and 2010.  And if you’re  wondering if those two years represented a slow killing season, thus making re-enactment of the statute a low priority, 155 Americans–excluding gunmen–were killed in mass shootings from Jan 2009 through Oct 2010 (though not all of the incidents involved semi-automatic weapons).

But Meghan went on to say “For me, I’m like, ‘OK we can talk about assault weapons’ — that being said, I know people who own them that obviously aren’t mass murderers, they’re hunters…”

I want to be careful here.  My immediate inclination is to believe that men (or women), who stalk animals in the wild and use semi-automatic weapons to kill them are not hunters, but butchers.  My personal hunting experience has been limited to that of quail and deer.  While I’m sure that killing either of those creatures could be achieved using a rapid-fire gun, I seem to remember that you use a shotgun for birds and that you don’t humanely take down a deer by spraying its body with bullets.  If any readers can correct me or add to my understanding, please do.  Regardless, I do not believe that preserving the preferential tool of recreational game hunters is more important than limiting the tools of those who hunt other men.

Meghan went on to say that many gun rights advocates are resistant to any prohibitions relating to fire arms for the same reason that Pro-Choice advocates resist any restriction to abortion—the infamous slippery slope.  While not all Pro-Choice supporters resist ANY restriction to abortion nor all gun rights supporters resist ANY gun restriction, a valid comparison of those two issues would necessitate agreement on the definition of human life.  Regardless of how one views a fetus, all Americans will agree that the 17 beings who lost their lives last Wednesday (or the 58 in Las Vegas, or the 49 in Orlando or the 27 in Newtown, or the 26 in Sutherland Springs, et cetera, et cetera, on and on) were human beings.  The core argument in the abortion issue, though, has revolved around a disagreement as to when human life begins, so it’s not exactly an apples-to-apples political analogy.  However, Meghan’s juxtaposition of those two fights got me thinking.  I’m sure that contrary to stereotypical belief not all anti-abortion advocates are pro-gun rights crusaders (and for those that are, I encourage them to rethink their position).  But what if all of the folk claiming to be ProLife who work so hard to protect innocent unborn life worked equally as hard to protect innocent already born life?

David Brooks opined in the New York Times yesterday that to make real progress, gun control advocates need to start respecting gun rights advocates because they believe “snobbish elites look down on their morals and want to destroy their culture.”  His piece goes on to introduce a team that’s trying to bridge the great American divide, which I applaud.  I have aspirations of becoming a peacemaker someday myself, but I would be more inclined to embrace sensitivity training once there are no longer children bleeding-out on the gymnasium floor.   I acknowledge that we must not use too broad a brush to paint those with differing opinions.  I get that we should strive to find commonality in order for our society to function at its best, but I have mistakenly assumed that the freedom to go to class (or to church, or to the movies or to a concert or even to just walk down the street), without the fear of being shot was something all American’s shared.  And I don’t see how “from my cold, dead hands” implies any wiggle room in the discussion for solutions.

I am admittedly one of those Earthly inhabitants who wishes there were no guns at all.  In my world hunters would have to rely on the single-shot spears or arrows of their ancestors.  Global conflicts would be resolved by hand-to-hand combat between the leaders of the quarreling countries (which, by the way, might certainly have caused some 2016 voters to rethink their decision).  I am a dreamer, but I’m not an idiot.  I know the world is full of bad actors and that we as a species want to protect ourselves and our property, which can be physically threatened.  Also, you will find no greater fan of the Constitution than I, with its warts and all (and I won’t use space here to argue that the second amendment can be read a couple of different ways).  I know there are citizens who can only sleep at night knowing there’s a pistol within reach to thwart any midnight intruder.  I know there are folk who not only enjoy, but may actually subsist on, the killing of wild animals and that they require a rifle to do so.  I am not advocating that every firearm be collected and destroyed, just that the weapons with most multi-victim lethality be restricted to our military and police forces.

To be more specific, I want the expired ban on assault weapons not only revived, but also re-worked (the original statute had more holes than a shooting range target).  I want a single, comprehensive gun safety law.  It should not only specifically ban the sale or ownership of any semi-automatic rifle, but also any device or accessory that could make it so.  It should limit the size of ammunition magazines for unprohibited guns to 10 rounds.  A dear reader and great blogger quoted a friend in one of her recent post (which I encourage you to read, I’ve Been Around Awhile…) that included some of his ideas for restrictions, including “…prohibit clips of more than 10 rounds for home defense. If you can’t take down a home intruder with 10 shots, best you throw the gun at ’em and try to bite ’em to death.”  

The law should require a buyer to pass a comprehensive, universal background check prior to ANY sale of ANY gun, the designation of clearly defined mental illness issues or inclusion on the federal No Fly List causing an immediate (but appealable) fail.  The law should include guidelines for agencies (yes, i.e. the FBI), to enforce and investigate reports of violations and/or suspicious behavior related to threats of gun violence.  The new legislation should also mimic Australia’s tremendously successful edict which included a government buyback program for all of the items being prohibited.  Would that be expensive?  Yes, but the price of failing to act for all of these years has naturally produced some inflationary tariffs (that might be partially offset by an assessment made on the NRA and gun manufacturers).  Also, I don’t think it will seem like so much money if you break it down by cost-per-corpse.

But what about that group of western ranchers who believe that we are still living under the principle of Manifest Destiny or those “religious” paramilitary militias who believe that David Koresh was wronged?  They will argue that their “midnight intruder” will be the well-armed law.  Those folk have legitimate concerns for their safety, but their best protection would be to obey the laws that the rest of us have agreed upon until they can figure out a way to change them.  Otherwise, they will need to become proficient with the wrist rocket.

Am I going to get what I want?  It seems doubtful.  But I do feel that something is about to happen.  I feel that maybe the tragedy in Florida pushed us to a tipping point.  I feel that the children who experienced and survived the horrific event have been prematurely thrust into adulthood, but having been so with the energy of youth, conviction based on real world experience, a lack of political allegiances and perhaps most importantly, unlimited access to  social media.  But let’s not abandon them.  We can’t leave it to them alone.  Make sure you echo and amplify their calls in a loud and coherent way.  Maybe this time we can at least interrupt the Shoot, Bury and Repeat loop.


Blog Break

This posting is to let my readers know that I will be taking an indeterminate break from this weblog.  I’ve discovered that my stated goal of dealing only in facts without hyperbole isn’t as easy as it sounded.  And I am aware that I haven’t always achieved that goal, but I’ve enjoyed trying to adhere to it thus far.

I am not pausing my weblog efforts because it’s hard, however, or because I don’t think it has value, but because I am simultaneously attempting to write a novel that is completely unrelated to politics.   Those who know me know my stance on multitasking: if focused on more than one task, none of the tasks are getting your full attention.  I also think many writers might agree that the world offers no shortage of diversions to prevent attacking the blank page.  I’m sure there are some folk out there more dexterous and disciplined than I, but I know my own limitations, and rather than shortchange the readers of this weblog or further neglect my book, I’m opting to temporarily suspend The Admitted Liberal.

I can’t provide the definitive duration of the hiatus, though if in the meantime an outrageously heinous or absolutely wonderful political event occurs, I definitely reserve the right to interrupt my radio silence with an interim post.  As an FYI, those subscribers who remain subscribers do not need to randomly check this site for new content as any new post would still auto-generate an email to you.

I appreciate all of the support and the comments I’ve received, both public and private, and I look forward to sharing my opinions again soon.  Until then I encourage everyone to remain vigilant and engaged.

Thank you!

A Tale of Two Baskets

At an LGBT for Hillary fundraiser on Sept 9, 2016, candidate Clinton made a “grossly generalist” comment indicating that you could put half of <POTUS’s> supporters in a (Basket of Deplorables), listing them as either racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic or Islamaphobic.  She went on to say that the other (half) basket contained folk who just felt that the economy and the government had let them down and felt uncared for.

I, like many Hillary supporters, cringed the next day when the clip of that comment was replayed a hundred times.  I didn’t cringe because she had said anything that wasn’t absolutely true.  I cringed because one of the shrewdest politicians around had made the mistake of attacking voters instead of their candidate—a political no no.  Experts disagree whether it cost her votes or not, though most agree that it probably didn’t deprive her opponent of any.  She later apologized, but only for having gotten the percentages wrong.

I’ve watched the crumbling political situation and hoped (with less and less optimism), that the 62 million-plus citizens that voted for POTUS would see that they were duped, acknowledge their error, voice their dissatisfaction and work to end his reign.  I’ve hoped that of the two baskets, the one containing the deplorables would turn out to be significantly smaller that the basket of the disillusioned.  But let’s examine what has taken place since Hillary’s pronouncement.

Hillary made her declaration before the Washington Post ran their story in October revealing the Entertainment Tonight tape, yet POTUS still won in the electoral college.

Since having become president, POTUS proposed (and has now partially implemented), a travel ban to exclude the issuance of visas to anyone from one of six predominantly Muslim countries or to any refugee.  After the most recent act of terrorism in Barcelona, the president repeated a fully debunked tale indicating that General Pershing eradicated muslim terrorism in the Philippines for decades by murdering all-but-one of 50 offenders while simultaneously violating their dietary restrictions with the murder weapons (a silly but still insulting and inciting claim).

In July POTUS had his administration show his true feelings for the LGBT community in three separate actions completed on the same day.  They included: arguing in court that the sex protections provided by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 do not apply to orientation, nominating gay-hater Sam Brownback as the new Religious Freedom Ambassador and tweeting that transgender people will no longer be allowed to serve in the military ( 3 Punches Against Gay Rights).

Following the tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia, our Dear Leader appeared to give himself a hernia while attempting to denounce nazis and the KKK.

I freely admit that one can support, can like, can even love another person without agreeing with everything they believe.  We would not be able to sustain even the most basic human relationships if it were otherwise.  And I think we can all agree to disagree on things like economic policy, gun control or the best way to protect the environment. But there are some beliefs that are anathema to what America stands for and so contrary to what decent folk respect and treasure that they can only be considered poisonous and incompatible with anything good.  Regardless how many times Fox News may say that “no lines have really been crossed”, multiple lines have been repeatedly crossed.  No matter why one originally supported a leader, if one continues to support them knowing that they hold reprehensible beliefs then we must conclude that they share those beliefs.

If you support a racist in order to get tax reform, you are a racist.  If you have irrefutable evidence that someone is chronically misogynistic but you choose them because you like the Supreme Court justice they will nominate, you are a misogynist.  And for those who don’t believe there is anything wrong with being a racist or a misogynist (or a homophobe or Islamaphobe), then admit it, stand up and be proudly counted.  Why add hypocrisy to the list of your failings?  If you are not any of those things then stop propping this guy up.

I don’t claim to know what POTUS actually believes or doesn’t believe as he lies with alacrity.  I do know, however, that regardless of ideology, this man will do anything to be adored, and as of last Sunday, 37% of all Americans queried (and 79% of Republicans), still approve of him after all he has said and done (Gallup Poll Through Aug 20).  So do the “basket math”.  POTUS may be the most optic problem in the nation right now, but the real problem is the number of our fellow Americans who have now proven that they are immoral.

When Hillary “apologized” for her statement and would only say that she’d assigned incorrect proportions, she didn’t indicate which fraction was in error.  I feel I can now confirm that the basket of deplorables was and is the much larger of the two.

Hate in America…Silence = Complicity

Some of my readers have inquired about the lack of a post regarding the events in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12th and the subsequent actions of the president.  Some of those inquiries may suggest a confidence that I will be able to successfully address the issue.  I’m not sure I share that confidence, but I will try my best to reward it.  Others, I believe, are chastising me for not yet contributing in a time when all voices are needed, regardless of eloquence.   I do admit to being delinquent in addressing the situation.  As so often in the last seven months, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop…and the shoes just kept dropping.  Also, the airwaves and the internet have been so full of noise in response to those events that I thought we were covered.  I now recognize that more noise is necessary.  Those who abhor the precepts of hate must add to the cacophony.  Silence on this issue from anyone claiming morality or dignity is not the answer because there is a malevolent force waiting to utilize every unused podium.

In this post I will use the term hate groups to refer to all those that assembled in Charlottesville last weekend to protest the removal of a statue of General Robert E. Lee .  While they may not all have identical agendas, it is clear that the commonality was white supremacy, which is a hateful concept.  We are not fooled by those who said their only interest was the preservation of history and heritage.  While I may not know the exact reasons that the statue of General Lee was erected in 1924, it is undeniable that confederate statuary and flag have now become thinly disguised symbols for those who believe only white people have value.  I will not be using the term Alt Right as I believe that term was devised to sanitize the concept of white supremacy.

Like the rest of the nation, I anxiously awaited the president’s response to the outrageous murder of Heather Heyer and the injuring of 19 others committed by a white supremacist with his car.  When the response came (based both on its delayed delivery and its content), I thought it might prove to be the proverbial final straw that would snap the backs of the ignorant and selfish camels who voted for him and have refused to criticize him since.  I was wrong.

My anticipation for the awakening of America was revived on Monday when Potus again took the microphone and, while adhering to the teleprompter for a denunciation of specific hate groups by name, delivered the message like a petulant eight-year-old boy being force to read an apology written by his mother.  I waited for the republican establishment to rain down “fire and fury”.  Again, I was wrong.

I believed the coup de gras had occurred on Tuesday when the man-baby again had the mic and reverted to the “straight shooter” talk that his supporters so cherish, leaving little doubt (even to David Duke), where he stands on persecution based on race, religion or sexual orientation.  Some are suggesting that this Hater-in-Chief is not smart enough or calculated enough to orchestrate this lethal nationalism.  While I’m inclined to agree, the question is not “who initiated this course?”, but “who is implementing it?”  Speaking of which, Potus was flanked during Tuesdays pitiful display by two of his cabinet members: (Jewish) Steven Mnuchin along with (Chinese immigrant and wife of Senator Mitch McConnell) Elaine Chao.  I’ve not heard either of them nor (Black) Ben Carson denounce the president for his complicity in or his lack of leadership on this issue.  Whatever possessed folk to hitch their wagons (and remain hitched) to such a demagogue remains unclear, but for some light reading the next time they are guests on Air Force One I’d like to recommend Hitler’s Henchmen by Guido Knopp.  A few elected Republicans did finally issue their own condemnations of bigotry, but the only current republican official that I’ve heard actually call out the president is Ohio Governor John Kasich.  So again, I was wrong.

It has become much more than trite to say that the actions of this president are “unbelievable” or “shocking”.  His very election was farcical and his actions and words since his inauguration have been inconceivable to any rational person.  Many of us have watched in equal parts horror and incredulity while waiting for the final act that will cause the 62,984,825 voters who unleashed this beast upon our country to cry uncle, to admit they have been duped, to openly demand his ouster.  There have been a few who have renounced their support, but opinion polls show that as of last week 79% of declared Republicans still approve of this guy (Gallup Opinion Poll).  If those numbers hold, we will know beyond doubt that a very large portion of our fellow citizens either promote hatred or are at least willing to tolerate it in furtherance of their personal economic situations, whether real or aspirational.  We will have evidence that the ignorant belief of racial superiority is not just confined to a few disenfranchised individuals on the fringes of society.  We will know that many of our friends, neighbors and families either embrace or overlook that ideology.

I want to find solace by trusting that the population embracing that ideology would be smaller than the population overlooking it, but the refusal to acknowledge and denounce evil is possibly more dangerous than the evil itself.  Cancer detected early and treated can often be eradicated, or at least forced into remission.  Rogue and rapidly growing cells, however, can completely consume the host if ignored, propelling it to a painful and agonizing end.

I do not pretend to understand the fear or loathing that makes aligning oneself with a hate group so appealing, so I can’t propose preventative measures.  But once recruited, those members must be denied the validation that they are correct or represent truth.  Their words and behavior cannot be supported or encouraged in any way by credible persons and absolutely not by the highest officer in the land.

To be clear, I am not suggesting that these groups must be silenced.  As previously mentioned in this weblog, we all enjoy the protection of free speech afforded us by the Bill of Rights.  I believe that even misguided bigots possess the right to share their message (if they can find a platform and are prepared for the possible repercussions).  It is possible, however, to counter and to muffle their homilies of hate.  Those who despise hate also have the right—and the moral responsibility—to exercise their freedom to speak out against such dangerous ideas with whatever means are available to them.  

One of my readers provided the following regarding the function of the first amendment, “…stupid ideas will die in the marketplace of ideas and we, as thinking, rational people have an obligation to make it clear which ideas are valuable and which are worthless“.  So, to the thinking and rational people of these United States, I ask you to participate in the market place of ideas, make clear what you believe has value and what you believe is worthless—including presidents.  I implore you to speak with your physical presence, your pen or your wallet.  The survival of our democracy depends on action.  And since we cannot rely on appropriate behavior from many of our elected officials nor from millions of our fellow Americans, the rest of us must do it both for and in spite of them.

And The Oscar, ahem, The Office Goes To…

We’re now in the seventh month of a presidency most Americans still can’t believe is real.  Watching the news and reading blogs has been such a negative experience for over half a year now, so I’d like to try to interject some levity.  I thought this might be a good time for this post as Potus is on a 17-day vacation.  And it’s not one of those lazy golf trips like Slacker Obama used to take.  No, Potus is just relocating his office…to a golf course…that he owns…which will generate taxpayer supported revenue for his coffers (<Potus’> Interests vs. America’s) for a couple of weeks while “the dump” on Pennsylvania Avenue has some work done.

As I shared in my earlier post, Ladies and Gentlemen, Meet Pete, I believe it’s not too early for liberals to start planning the reclamation of the White House in 2020, and I introduced some of you to Pete Buttigieg.  There are also other possible contenders out there, like Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker (yes, another woman and another black man, respectively) and some others.  Liberal activist and film maker Michael Moore is floating (pushing?) the idea that Democrats should run a celebrity for the office, maintaining that a “beloved American” could garner the majority of votes in this entertainment obsessed country.  Mr. Moore  seems, however, more interested in just getting a Democrat back in the position than he does about finding someone who could govern.  Regardless, I wanted to use this space to explore the concept, so let’s examine some prospects:

Tom Hanks

Tom is one of the country’s most prolific actors and certainly beloved by many.  After all, he saved Private Ryan, got Apollo 13 home, performed a miracle on the Hudson and showed us all how life is similar to a Whitman’s Sampler.  My concern about a successful bid for the presidency, however, stems from his early work.  Many of my readers may remember that Hank’s earliest starring role came in 1980 in a television show entitled Bosom Buddies.  He played Buffy Wilson to Peter Scolari’s Hildegard Desmond; their female personas created by their male characters in order to live in an affordable, women-only hotel.  If the country isn’t ready for a female president, could they really be ready for a man who does drag?  It’s possible that I could be underestimating the power of a strong ticket, though.  What if Tom got Wilson to run as his Vice President?  Talk about beloved…and what a great listener.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah is undoubtedly beloved…she even has a film by the same name.  She, like someone else we know, has a household name and a great deal of money (though she only got one of those from her father) who could surely fund her own campaign.  Oprah would most likely be the strongest “Education President” we’ve seen, given her devotion to her Leadership Academy.  And instead of “a chicken in every pot” her slogan could be “you get a car and you get a car…”.  The most obvious drawbacks, of course, are her gender and her race.  I remember a remark that the venerable Ann Richards made regarding her loss for re-election as Texas Governor in 1994.  She said that her opponent, newcomer George W. Bush (via Karl Rove) had successfully convinced Texas voters that she was going to send the gays to get their guns.  While I’m not exactly sure how the opposition to this strong black women would frame the national campaign, I’m confident it would have many “conservative” men clutching their Birth of a Nation DVDs as well as their testicles.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

While “The Rock” could have an immediate and positive impact on military readiness (just look at those guns), one wonders if that eyebrow would need to be commandeered and subjected to the nuclear codes like other weapons of mass destruction.  There is also the problem of his heritage.  Though he claims to have been born in Hayward, California, his mother’s parents were Samoan (and her mother wasn’t even from American Samoa), so I can already see those bright, articulate, Republican birthers trying to correctly spell “damn Polynesia” on their Facebook pages.

I’m sure there are many other suitable contestants from the “Entertainment Tonight” catalogue, and I’m not going to argue with Michael Moore about the ultimate electability of such a candidate, but I think our next hopeful needs to not only be electable, but also able to lead.  Mr. Moore’s assumption may be that just having a left-leaning actor in the head office would be sufficient because we could surround them with politically savvy folk to “script and direct” their work, but what happens if the puppet goes rogue?  Heaven knows that’s never happened before.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Meet Pete!

While I attempt to stay abreast of important political facts and folk, I am ashamed to admit that until this week I was completely unaware of an individual who could potentially be the next elected president.  I am sure that some of my readers are already familiar with Pete Buttigieg, but for those of you who are not, I strongly urge you begin your research by viewing the sit-down he completed with Charlie Rose (South Bend Mayor).  The clip is just shy of 26 minutes, but the piece is fascinating and enlightening, so if not today, please take the time at some point to watch it in its entirety.

Many Americans are still suffering from campaign fatigue brought on by the two-plus-year experience that just ended last November.  But most Americans are sad, distraught and extremely dissatisfied with the status quo and are very anxious for possible remedies.  I believe there is enough righteous anger in the land to insure an ideological turnover in both the House and the Senate in 2018 (if the impacted parties will actually go to the polls).  Such a move would at least enable progressives to more effectively resist the destructive actions of the current POTUS and his White House minion until they can be replaced.  I can’t help, however, looking beyond the mid-terms, desperately searching the horizon for both successful liberal messaging and the candidate who can act as the optimal standard-bearer.

Mayor Buttigieg appears, at least, to have the intellect, the pedigree and the poise necessary to not only unite the fractured left, but also attract independents and maybe a few rational Republicans.  Pete is white, so could be more palatable to some of the conservatives still trying to get the stains out of their underwear that resulted from the two-time election of a black president.  The Mayor is not a women, which would be in keeping with the Right’s biblical belief that vaginas and power don’t mix.  In further accommodation of the anti-vagina philosophy, Pete is a gay man.  Hmm…could the majority of voters be ready for a gay leader four Novembers from now?  Well, he got elected mayor of an ailing industrial city in the state that gave us Mike Pence.  And if we’ve learned nothing else in the last six months, I hope we have grasped that ANYTHING is possible.

Pete Buttigieg may, of course, be too good to be true.  His closet (not the one he’s now out of), could be overflowing with ugly skeletons or he might be the shrewdest serial killer on the planet.  I recommend that we risk experiencing total burn-out by 2020 and start the vetting now.  Once he and any other potential contenders garner serious national attention, we can rest assured that the “journalist” at Fox News will uncover any failings—real or imagined.  It is also possible that he doesn’t want the job.  Regardless, I believe he is definitely one to watch.


Free Speech In Jeopardy Again

I just read an article from The Intercept written by Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Grim (Outlaw Support for Boycott), indicating that it could soon be against the law to promote or participate in a boycott against Israel.  I haven’t paid much attention to The Intercept since their debut in 2014, but given the unbelievable subject matter of the article and the amount of fake news out there, I decided to research the topic further before I allowed myself to experience an aneurysm.  The research is done and I can feel my artery walls stretching.

The article mentions near the end that House Bill 1697 (H.R. 1697) and Senate bill 720 (S 720) are actually attempts to amend the existing Export Administration Act of 1979 and Export-Import Bank Act of 1945.  Those acts already make “…furthering or supporting the boycott of Israel sponsored by the Arab League, and certain other countries…” an offense.  The new bills seemingly want to beef up the Export Administration Act to specifically include boycott efforts originating from the United Nations and to link violation of the acts to existing (but much more harsh), punishments found in the United States Code (50 USC 1705).   What is news to me, then, is that there are currently laws on the books that make it punishable for Americans to engage in boycotts that are “…fostered by international governmental organizations against Israel…”  I have neither the time, the space nor the comprehensive understanding needed to tackle the Arab/Israeli conflict, but I will share what I do know.

Our constitution includes a Bill of Rights, which in its very first amendment states that “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech…”  Over the years the Supreme Court has tweaked exactly how far that protection can go, agreeing that fraud, obscenity, speech specifically designed to promote lawlessness or falsely yelling “fire” in a crowded theater are not covered.  It has also been “firmly decided” that money is a form of speech (see Citizens United vs FEC) when someone wants to support a political idea or a candidate, but apparently withholding ones money is not always protected.

I found laws prohibiting Americans from actively engaging with or supporting some foreign entities, beginning with the Logan Act, which prohibits a private citizen from interacting with another country to negotiate national controversies.  There are also many government imposed sanctions that either prohibit trade with or limit access to banking and/or assets for countries that have fallen short of American ideals (Treasury Department Sanctions).  While such restrictions certainly fly in the face of unbridled capitalism, both our citizenry and our courts have apparently agreed that sometimes principles over-ride profits.

I am unable, however, to find any laws (other than the aforementioned acts), that criminalize a citizen’s decision to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with another country by refusing to conduct business with said country.  Nor can I find evidence of any court challenge to those acts, though it appears the ACLU is now poised to fight the broadened offender list and the increased penalties that would result from these new bills (ACLU Letter to Senators). 

When did we the people, via our representative government and our court system, agree that it was okay to prevent a person from refusing to financially support another country unless we ALL refuse to do so?  And other than showing-up if drafted and paying taxes, what other mandate prohibits a citizen’s inaction?  And why does it appear that this “no boycotting” mandate only applies to Israel?

Since I first became politically aware I have heard it said that Social Security is the third rail of American politics, meaning to mess with it will electrocute you and end your political career.  But if one examines the rhetoric and legislation of the past fifty years, we may find that Israel is really the third rail.  I’m not sure what has enabled that country to obtain such a firm grasp of our country’s testicles, but that grip appears to extend to both political parties and to cross generational lines.  What would South Africa look like today if that government had been successful in hypnotizing U.S. lawmakers into preventing American businesses and citizens from boycotts aimed at ending Apartheid?

Again, I am not attempting to use this space to litigate the issues of the Middle East.  If the majority of our elected officials can continue to get elected while proclaiming that Israel is the only country above reproach and that it must be supported by our government without question, then maybe that attitude is the defacto opinion of the electorate.  There is, however, a small clause within the constitution guaranteeing that if even just one citizen disagrees with the actions of that foreign government, they can not only verbalize their dissatisfaction, but also refuse to support that entity with their disposable income or their adoration.