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.





The Wound That Will Not Heal

It has been eight months since the presidential election, nearly six months since the inauguration and almost two months since I published my post entitled Enoughbut I still wake each morning with emotions ranging from disbelief to disgust to horror.  I shared in that earlier post that my psychological dyspepsia is not purely in response to the rejection of my liberal views by the majority of (electoral college) voters.  It is largely a reaction to the clear and tabulated fact that nearly half of those who voted in the 2016 election knowingly cast their ballot for the human being least capable of being president and that the “winner” continues to demonstrate his ineptitude on a daily basis.  Depending on the day, it is difficult to know if he is channeling Nora Desmond or Ron Burgundy, but all of the days are painful and frightening.

As stated elsewhere in this weblog, Potus is not merely a threat to progressive ideals, he is a threat to the homeland and to the planet.  I know some would argue that we shouldn’t fear his effectiveness, given his inability to focus on anything other than his boyfriend Vladimir Putin and his constant display of hatred toward any media outlet other than Fox News.  Even when he is caught attempting to further the conservative agenda, he often thwarts those efforts by either forgetting which position he is supposed to take (Trump Abandons AHCA), or by completely ignoring his role and instead taking to Twitter to degrade folk who criticize him, which he does with particular zeal if they are women (Attacks on Morning Joe hosts).

Of course, Congress and his White House entourage are more than able to inflict damage while he is sidetracked, but the real threats emanate from the man himself.  The hazards include his ally-enraging reduction of global politics to “The Art of the Deal”, boasting that only agreements which seemingly leave America (read: Potus), on top are acceptable (Withdrawal from Paris Climate Accord and Behavior at Nato National Embarrassment).  There is also his very clear intent to do absolutely nothing with regard to foreign interference in our democracy, as demonstrated by his firing of FBI Director James Comey and his reluctance to keep existing or to add new sanctions against Russia for election meddling (though we must stay tuned to learn his actual motivations for those actions).

While I am unable to include the full name due to my unwillingness to further promote the “Marketer-in-Chief”, there is a Twitter feed called “***** Regrets” (I think my readers can figure out what the asterisks stand for), which purports to follow Potus’ twitter account and then retweet messages sent from his former supporters now expressing their buyer’s remorse.  A random sampling of contributors and their historic tweets certainly suggests that they really may have voted for the man.  The messages contained there, however, are exactly the type of messages that all cognizant citizens—whether they are guilty of placing him in office or not—need to be sending.

As real facts continue to unfold, it is entirely possible that the current “threat to democracy” could be impeached (and/or possibly jailed), but failing that, I still believe that if his electoral “Neilsen Ratings” continue to fall and remain low, the narcissist will concede and return to the business of swindling both real estate investors and building contractors.  I also still believe that those conservative voters who helped create this disaster should not fear that their repudiation of this president will compromise their conservative goals.  Again, the reins will fall to Mike Pence, and though it appears that the “Christian, Conservative and Republican…in that order” may turn out to be one of the most prolific liars of all time (All False Statements…Enabling a Dangerous President, and What Did Mike Pence Know?), his political mission is unambiguous and voters on the right have already proven that veracity is not a required virtue for their leaders.

It is evident, even to some errant voters, that a terrible wrong has been committed, a dangerous force unleashed and a severe wound inflicted…a wound that if not cauterized could be terminal.  Keep resisting bad legislation, but also let your representatives (whether of your political stripe or not), know your opinion of this president.  Remember that the way to an egomaniac’s heart is through his ego.  So tweet and email and march and shout your dissatisfaction while encouraging others to do the same.  You’ve nothing to lose by acting, and everything to lose by just wishing the hurt away.  Contrary to the proverb, time does not heal all wounds.