Why I’m Worried About America’s Future

Our Founding Father’s worried about the future of the Colonies. King George had to balance his checkbook, and the Seven Years War had put the British Empire deep into debt.

Although six European powers had been involved – and the war stretched over the whole of the Empire – George and his Parliament leaned heavily on the American colonies to pay off their debt. After all, the French and Indian War had been a part of this global conflict.

So Mother Britain looked to the Colonies to pay down the debt.

A series of laws flowed out of Parliament – where the colonists had no representation – placing heavy burdens on the Colonies. For many, the Stamp Act was the final straw.

The Stamp Act placed a duty (tax) on virtually every legal document produced in the Colonies. And on newspapers, playing cards, pamphlets, calendars, and more.

Want to place an ad in the local paper? His Majesty gets two shillings. Are you printing pamphlets of less than one whole page? That will be one penny. Each. Want to play dice? Not till you’ve paid the King’s ten shillings tax on them.

Taxation without representation triggered a rebellion. And, so, our nation was born.

Fast forward 244 years…

Once Again, Liberty Stands at a Crossroads

The election of 2020 was messy. America is polarized. Though he’s wildly unpopular, Donald Trump’s base is solid. His opponent is a respected Washington insider: Joe Biden. Biden’s last job was serving as V.P. under the charismatic Barak Obama.

Trump and his allies did all they could to sway the election. Many GOP-controlled states made early and mail-in voting as difficult as they could.

Key states fell, one after another, to Biden. Trump refused to concede.

Trump’s campaign and his allies mounted dozens of legal challenges. The courts slapped down all but one. Even judges appointed by Trump himself deemed some cases meritless.

Trump’s personal lawyers floated conspiracy theories. Votes were changed while being counted in Spain. Catering vans delivered fake ballots to counting locations. A dead Venezuelan dictator had voting machine software sabotaged. Each claim was crazier than the last. All have been disproved.

State after state certified the results. Even swing states controlled by Republican administrations. Trump’s own Depts. of Justice and Homeland Security noted there’s no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

Still, Trump and his cronies continue to claim fraud. And they’re turning to ever more desperate ways to overthrow a duly elected government. Even before that government has been seated.

Meet the Party From Crazytown

In Arizona, Trump supporters chanted, “Count those votes!” in hopes of Trump gaining an advantage. At virtually the same time, in Michigan, Trump’s minions were chanting, “Stop the count,” as Biden pulled ahead.

Some GOP-controlled legislatures blocked counting mail-in ballots before election day… meaning millions of votes were counted after in-person votes. Since Democrats were far more likely than Republicans to vote by mail, this led to large last-minute gains by Biden.

Their own party created this situation. But that didn’t stop many Republicans from claiming this predictable situation proved election fraud.

Seventeen Republican attorneys general signed on to a Texas lawsuit trying to deny four swing  states the right to count mail-in ballots received according to those states’ laws. Laws that are strikingly similar to the laws in some of the states that joined the suit.

Consider what Trump’s lawyers are saying in court.

Rudy Giuliani and Trump’s other minions are quick to claim massive fraud in front of the media. But in front of a judge? Not so much.

  • In a PA case, the judge asked a Trump lawyer if he was claiming voter fraud. The response was, “To my knowledge at present, no.”
  • In an AZ suit, a Trump campaign lawyer said, “We are not alleging fraud in this lawsuit.”
  • And, in federal court, Rudy Giuliani himself told the judge, “This is not a fraud case.”

Why? Maybe because lying to a judge has serious consequences.

More Word from Crazytown

Texas Rep. Louis Gomert tried to overthrow the Constitution by suing V.P. Pence over Pence’s role in the counting of Electoral College votes. This suit was such a stretch, Pence and the Dept. of Justice both asked the court to dismiss the case. Which it did.

And still GOP operatives try to overthrow the will of the people.

Freshman Senator Josh Hawley (R- MO), says he will challenge Biden’s victory when the Electoral College count comes up in the Senate on Jan. 6. He joins more than 100 GOP members of Congress.

Hawley’s challenge will trigger debate in both Houses… but should have little effect. First, all the evidence points to Biden winning by over 7 million votes. Second, the grown-ups in the House and Senate are generally opposed to undermining our democracy.

So, Hawley and his co-conspirators appear to be doing this just for political points. And you really have to be from Crazytown to risk our Republic for personal political gain.

But that’s exactly what Donald Trump did when he called Georgia’s Secretary of State, Republican Brad Raffensperger.

Trump spent an hour begging and bullying Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to turn the election his way. After the votes had been counted and recounted… twice.

Trump offered a list of already-disproven rumors as excuses. But it all came down to this:

“All I want to do is this,” Trump said. “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.”

Flattery, threats, pleading… Trump tried it all. It was pitiful, but there it is.

What About the Aftermath?

Here’s where I really worry. Because the only effective solution is a painful one. It’s tempting to “let bygones be bygones.” But that teaches a destructive lesson:

If you get away with it long enough, they’ll let you off scot-free.

To preserve our Democracy, Trump and his cronies must face the music. All the lies… the ethics violations… the crimes. They have to be laid bare. And they must have consequences.

Robert Mueller found 10 instances of Trump possibly obstructing justice. Prosecutors should evaluate each. The Georgia phone call. Profiting from his lease on the Old Post Office in DC. The list goes on and on.

Plus the state investigations. Did the Trump Organization manipulate values for favorable loans and tax rates? That’s potential bank and tax fraud. Why did Deutsche Bank loan Trump so much money when nobody else would? And why did the executives in charge of Trump’s accounts suddenly resign on Dec. 22, 2020?

We need a full accounting and a resolution to these – and many other – questions before we can move on as a nation.

America’s future hangs in the balance. The resolution lies in laying bare all of Trump’s antics. And that’s why I’m worried.

Because it will involve exposing all Trump’s cronies in Congress.

Can it happen? Yes. But only if Joe Biden’s Department of Justice is ready to yank the bandage off a particularly nasty scab.

Sources:

Peters, C., “The Supreme Court rejects Texas’s undemocratic election lawsuit,” msn(dot)dom. Dec 12, 2020.

Kruzel, J., “GOP lawmaker sues Pence in bid to overturn Biden win,” TheHill(dot)com. Dec 28, 2020.

Berenson, T., “Donald Trump And His Lawyers Are Making Sweeping Allegations of Voter Fraud In Public. In Court, They Say No Such Thing,” time(dot)com. Nov 20, 2020.

Scannell, K., “Trump’s private bankers resign from Deutsche Bank,” CNN(dot) com. Dec 22, 2020.

Surprise! Coronavirus Relief Favors the Rich

The GOP sure takes care of its masters.

A full quarter of the recently passed $2 trillion relief bill is earmarked for giant corporations. These are the same folks who used billions in Trump tax savings to buy back stock… instead of investing in the economy.

Even worse, Trump crippled congressional oversight by announcing he’d ignore the bill’s requirements for an independent inspector general. Instead, he will only allow reporting he approves personally.

Now, the Washington Postreports, tax changes in the relief package will largely benefit people with annual incomes of $1 million or more. These changes were inserted into the bill by Senate Republicans.

According to a report by Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), more than 80% of the benefits go to a small group of high earners. How small a group? About 43,000… out of our population of over 320 million. Just one of these tax breaks will cost taxpayers a whopping $90 billion. And that’s in 2020 alone.

These tax breaks go mostly to people who invest in hedge funds or own real estate businesses. People like Donald Trump and his cronies.

Republicans are funneling relief money into the pockets of the rich. Meanwhile, Americans are dying and going broke. No wonder Trump wants to hamstring congressional oversight!

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Sources:

Snell, K., “What’s Inside The Senate’s $2 Trillion Coronavirus Aid Package,” National Public Radio. Mar 26, 2020.

Lanard, N., “Trump Says He’ll Ignore Key Oversight Provision in Stimulus Bill,” Mother Jones. March 28, 2020.

Stein, J., “Tax change in coronavirus package overwhelmingly benefits millionaires, congressional body finds,” The Washington Post. Apr 14, 2020

The Will of the People

If you’ve been listening to the President’s defenders, you’ve probably noticed a common theme. Trump’s supporters say – over and over – the Democrats are trying to reverse the will of the people. To undo the vote. To overturn the election.

But here’s the thing: Trump didn’t win the election. He won the Electoral College. And that’s something very different.

In real terms, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million. In other words, Americans elected Clinton President… and the system overruled the election results.

Which is exactly how the last two Republican presidents came into office. Not by the will of the people… but by the will of an outmoded system.

That’s why the GOP doesn’t want to mess with the Electoral College. But here’s why we should…

A (Sort of) Good Idea Gone Bad

It’s the end of the 18thcentury. A new Republic is getting its first footing. But there are challenges. According to some sources, election logistics were the major issue.

The 13 colonies covered a vast territory in a time when traveling 20 miles a day was admirable. There were no phones… no telegraph… no mass communication. How could you get election results from New Hampshire or South Carolina to the Capital in short order?

The simple answer: Consolidate. Don’t deliver results from every podunk town and village to the capital. Just deliver the state results.

Meet the Electoral College.

The Electoral College boiled every hamlet and village’s votes into a state-by-state result. Which made the final tally quick and simple.

Other sources say the College began as a compromise. Some Founding Fathers felt Congress should choose the President – instead of the average bumpkin landowner. Others felt it should be left entirely to the will of the people. The Electoral College system gave something to both sides.

For those who didn’t trust the average farmer or craftsman to make good decisions, the College diluted the bad choices of individuals. But it would still ensure – usually – that the candidate with the greatest overall support would win.

Still others point to concerns over big state advantages. Just three colonies – Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts – had nearly half the population of the original colonies. These three could have effectively decided any presidential election… mooting the votes of most of the other colonies.

The thing is, we’re not in the 18thcentury any more. None of these arguments hold water in today’s world. The Electoral College has become more hinderance than help. Because the person with the most votes doesn’t win… the person with the most Electors does.

And, as the last two Republican victories show, this means America may choose one candidate, but their opponent wins the election.

The Electoral College Is Anti-Democratic… and Anti-American

The Electoral College effectively negates the “one-person, one-vote” concept. With electors awarded on a winner-take-all basis in 48 states, narrow victories for one party in key states can easily hand the election over to the loser of the popular vote.

That’s how Donald Trump and George W. Bush both wound up in the Oval Office.

The College has become little more than a way to legally steal elections. Now it’s time for it to go away. Because Democracy matters.

Of course, you won’t get much support for this idea from the GOP. They’ve learned how to twist Electoral College results to their benefit. To ensure the will of the majority of voters doesn’t count.

Which has led to handing the Oval Office over to a dangerous clown like Donald Trump.

Trump, who’s alienated most of our key allies… aligned himself with dictators and oligarchs… used his office to enrich himself… and altered tax laws to favor his cronies.

Trump, who’s elevated crooks and incompetents to Cabinet-level positions… promoted white nationalism… and dismantled environmental protections.

Trump, who’s lied to voters over 16,000 times in just 3 years… used his office to damage political rivals… and spent 20% of his time in office golfing.

All accomplished with 3 million fewer votes than Hillary.

It’s Time to Bid the Electoral College Good-Bye

The Electoral College doesn’t serve America’s best interests. It’s become little more than a tool for cynical politicians to “game” the system.

Narrow victories in swing states, like Florida, can hand an election to the popular vote’s loser. And overrulethe will of the people.

Far more voters identify with the Democrats’ platform. Yet manipulation of a flawed system hands elections to the minority party. And our government has begun to look less and less like the one voters say they want.

Trump’s tax breaks for the rich come with calls for cuts to programs that support Americas poorest and most vulnerable citizens.

“Give me your tired, your poor,” Emma Lazarus wrote in The New Colossus, “Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” Today’s GOP leadership complains about immigration from “sh*thole nations,” and wonders why more Norwegians don’t move here.

Republicans use “massive voter fraud” as an excuse to enact laws making voting harder for minorities and the poor. Yet the only cases of large-scale voter fraud in recent years have been perpetrated by pro-GOP forces.

This is why every eligible voter must exercise their rights. Why every election matters. And why the Electoral College has to go.

Every office in the land is filled by direct election… except the most important one. And the Right is using that exception to pervert Democracy. This must stop.

It’s time to end the Electoral College. To end what’s become a perversion of Democracy. And to hand our most important election over to the people.

Why the Dems Are Doomed. Unless…

I just received this tweet from the Democratic party:

  • Elect a Democrat to the White House.
  • Elect Democrats to the Senate.
  • Elect Democrats to the House.
  • Elect Democrats statewide.
  • Elect Democrats to state legislatures.
  • Elect Democrats to local office.
  • Elect Democrats everywhere.

Wow. I’m just so… so… underwhelmed. Compare this to just one of the GOP’s many tweets from the same day:

While Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Bernie Sanders all parroted Russian talking points by calling the Soleimani strike an “assassination,” Speaker Pelosi said the strike was “disproportionate.”

Seriously, Nancy?

And, while the Dems tweeted once, the GOP sent multiple messages. All far more motivating than the lone tweet from their rivals.

Who’s appealing to emotions? Who’s naming names? Who’s winning the Twitter Wars?

Republicans. Republicans. Republicans.

But here’s the crazy part: The Dems have far more ammunition. They just don’t use it.

Here’s how the Blues can finally turn the social media tide… and win in 2020.

Step 1: Stop Being Shy

The GOP tweets constantly. The Dems? Maybe every few days. If we’re lucky.

Which message do you think gets more traction: The one you hear over and over, day after day… or the one you hear once or twice per month.

Bingo! Unchallenged lies from the GOP get a lot more traction, because they’re repeated a lot more. And – yes – I said, “Lies.” Because many of the GOP’s messages are demonstrably false. But nobody’s out there challenging them. So, their “alternative facts” become the truth for uninformed voters.

The Dems have to get out and challenge the GOP narrative. And there’s plenty of ammo. Here are just a few points…

  • Mueller’s team found 10 instances where Trump likely obstructed justice.
  • Trump’s golf outings have alreadycost taxpayers about $120 million. According to Forbes magazine, Trump’s golf outings could cost taxpayers up to $340 million. That’s equal to his presidential salary… for 106 years!
  • Trump and his allies had at least 140contacts with Russian officials – or with WikiLeaks – during the 2016 campaign and during the transition period.

Instead of pointing out these atrocities – and many others – the Dems tweet, “Vote for us. Elect us. Yeah!”

Is it any wonder the minority keeps winning?

Step 2: Start Working Together

If there’s one thing Democrats are good at, it’s tearing each other down.

We saw the start of it with the Republican primaries in 2016. But Trump’s opponents quickly fell in line when his nomination was certain.

Here’s what Ted Cruz said about Trump during the primaries: “We need a commander in chief, not a Twitterer-in-chief. … I don’t know anyone who would be comfortable with someone who behaves this way having his finger on the button. I mean, we’re liable to wake up one morning, and Donald, if he were president, would have nuked Denmark.”

Lindsey Graham said, “I think he’s a kook. I think he’s crazy. I think he’s unfit for office.”

Today, both these men are ardent Trump supporters. Because, when the GOP circles the wagons, they circle the wagons.

Compare that to the Bernie Sanders supporters who voted for Trump… because their man didn’t get the nomination.

Yes, the national party screwed up. But do we want to punish ourselves? Apparently – for some Dems – the answer was, “Yes.” Somehow, they thought a Trump presidency would be better than having Hillary in the White House.

How has that worked out, guys?

I’m not saying we should condone internal issues. But don’t lose sight of the big picture over them. Helping elect the antithesis of all your beliefs is not the way to correct an internal party problem.

Identify the problem, expose it, and work to correct it. But don’t help hand the presidency to your worst nightmare and think that will fix it.

Step 3: Get Active

I’ve said this before – and I’ll probably say it again. For crying out loud, Dems, start using the social media opportunities Obama pioneered.

For every post I see from the Dems, I’m bombarded by 10 or 20 from the GOP. And that doesn’t count the posts from Trump’s reelection team… and the many other GOP groups flooding the Twitterverse with posts.

It’s as if the GOP learned the lessons taught by the Obama campaigns… but the Dems didn’t. And all of America is worse off for it.

Right now, I’d have to say the Dems’ online team is massively overpaid. Because they’re not doing squat. They’re putting out one or two bland posts for every 50 or 60 emotional appeals the GOP’s team produces.

Dems, it’s time to tell your online team it’s time to put up… or get fired. They’re not doing you any favors. In fact, they don’t seem to be doing anythingfor you. If I didn’t know better – and I don’t – I’d think they were working for the opposition.

Let’s face it: The Dems are doomed. Unless they finally face reality. Which means calling out Trump’s abuses… supporting their most promising candidates… and working together.

2020 is winnable. But only if we finally face the opposition with a unified face. Otherwise, we can count on another 4 years of Trump.

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“Trump Golf Count,” TrumpGolfCount.com. Jan 7, 2020.

Jones, C., “Trump’s Golf Trips Could Cost Taxpayers Over $340 Million,” Forbes. Jul 10, 2019.

Yourish, K. and Buchanan, L., “Mueller Report Shows Depth of Connections Between Trump Campaign and Russians,” The New York Times. Apr 19, 2019.

 

Let’s Hope We Can Last ‘Til November

Politics have always caused friction. But 2020 is shaping up as the knock-down, drag-out battle of our lives. Take the “racist” video of Joe Biden just released by the Right.

In it, we hear Biden run down African and Asian culture. Except we don’t. We hear a couple dozen words, taken out of context. Thirteen minutes of context. In fact, we don’t even get the whole second sentence.

But the usual suspects jumped all over Biden, and the video clip spread across social media like wildfire. The truth is, Biden didn’t say anything bad about Asian of African culture. He was criticizing the culture handed down through English common law.

Expect to see lots more of these distortions in the coming months. Along with more efforts to suppress Democratic votes. Take the new voting law in Texas, for example.

They Can’t Win if They Can’t Vote

Hillary won the 2016 popular vote by nearly 3 million. The Right doesn’t want a repeat. Especially in states that may be in play this time around.

In Texas, a new law bans “temporary” polling places that aren’t open during 100% of early voting. That may sound innocent enough. After all, it’s giving all voters equal opportunities to vote, right?

Sort of. But here’s the thing: Many districts are strapped for cash. They can’t afford to open all polling places all the time. So, they have to close down these temporary polling places. Which tend to be at colleges, elderly housing, and other locations that – Surprise! Surprise! – lean Democratic.

The real result of these shut-downs won’t be equal voting opportunities for all… but the denial of voting rights to groups that tend to lean leftward.

It’s just another example of the Right’s program of voter suppression. After all, the Left can’t win if its voters can’t vote.

And while the Right is suppressing the vote on the Left, they’re revving up their base. Take their boss’s constant refrain as an example…

Meet “The Do-Nothing Democrats”

How many times have you heard President Trump call his opponents “the do-nothing Democrats”? Dozens… scores? To hear Trump and his allies tell it, the Dems have focused on nothing but impeachment since Trump “won” the election.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy quoted the Right-leaning WA Times on this topic. According to McCarthy and the Times, House Dems have issued more subpoenas than they have passed bills.

 

The Times claims only 46 House bills became law in 2019… while the Dems issued 56 subpoenas. Can you believe it?

No; you can’t. The House passed a whopping 298 bills during 2019’s legislative session. Most of those bills were blocked from coming before the Senate by Majority Leader “Moscow Mitch” McConnell. In other words, House Dems got a lot of work done. But the GOP scuttled all that hard work in the Senate.

No matter how hard the House works to serve voters, they’re only one-third of the equation. The Senate has to pass the same/similar bill… and then the president must sign the resolved bill to make it law.

The House did it’s third of the job. But Trump and his allies in the Senate kept these bills from becoming law. The Times article was extremely misleading… McCarthy knew it… but he pushed the lie for political gain.

And speaking of “do-nothing…”

Where’s That Wall… the Obamacare Repeal… Etc.?

Here’s an interesting fact for you: From 2016 to 2018, Republicans controlled the White House, the Senate, and the House. So where were all the accomplishments Trump promised in his first 100 days?

With the entire Congress behind him, Trump didn’t manage to build a single inch of new Wall in those two years. To date, his administration has only managed to replace some aging sections of existing wall. And the concrete he promised us was abandoned long ago.

He didn’t replace “Obamacare,” either. In fact, the GOP still doesn’t have a coherent healthcare policy. And it’s been almost a decade since the Affordable Care Act was first passed. In 10 years, Trump’s party has only managed to chip away at the edges of the act.

And how about that massive tax cut for the Middle Class. Oh, you haven’t seen it? That’s because it was never included in Trump’s tax package.

According to the Congressional Research Service, neither growth nor wages have benefitted from Trump’s tax plan. But the rich have.

The plan – which Trump supporters said would pay for itself – has fallen 95% short. Yup. Trump’s tax cuts have only generated a 5% payback. Which means the national debt will skyrocket. But don’t worry. Thanks to the new tax laws, big corporations and the rich won’t have to cover the shortfall. That will be left to the working stiffs.

 

Things haven’t gone according to plan. So…

Where Is Trump as All These Plans Fall Apart?

Our Commander in Chief spent one of every five days in 2019 at his golf properties.

That’s right. The man who wouldn’t have time to play golf essentially fiddled while Rome burned. We face a nuclear crisis with North Korea… out of control climate changes… healthcare costs most Americans can’t afford… college debt that threatens to sink a generation… and so many more challenges.

But Trump golfs every fifth day. Even worse, he golfs at his own properties… ensuring your tax dollars fill his coffers. While the national debt spirals ever upward.

Now he wants a second term. Really?

We tried the maverick thing. And it turned out exactly as Progressives predicted: We’re in the worst financial mess our nation has faced since the Great Depression. Sure, the stock market is doing great. But most Americans aren’t invested in the stock market. And their wages have stagnated.

Our foreign service is a shambles. We’re seeing health and ecological protections disappear. Heck – to please his trophy-hunting sons – Trump has even eased restrictions on importing animal parts from hunting endangered species!

And the assault shows no signs of slowing.

Which is why we must hold out. Why we have to help everyone we can register to vote. And help them get to the polls. Or submit a valid absentee ballot.

I’ve said it before – and I’ll say it again: We’re facing our Democracy’s last gasp. We can save this noble experiment at the ballot box. But only if we marshal all our forces against those who would make our nation an oligarchy.

We just need to hold out until November.

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Dinan, S., “Nancy Pelosi, Democrats produce more subpoenas than laws,” The Washington Times. Oct 22, 2019.

“House Passes 298 bills to end 2019 legislative session,” KITV Island News. May2, 2019.

Chait, J., “Study Finds Trump Tax Cuts Failed to Do Anything But Give Rich People Money,” NY Magazine. May 29, 2019.

Is This the Secret Republican Strategy?

If there’s one thing Donald Trump is good at, it’s creating chaos. He generates a new scandal, lie, or outrageous executive order almost daily.

Well, okay… In the case of lies, Trump averages several per day. But the daily chaos tends to draw attention away from the chaos of the previous day. And it’s amplified by the departmental chaos created by his underlings.

When the outrages come this thick and fast, they can easily overwhelm the opposition. Here’s what I mean…

They Did What?

Betsy DeVos loosens rules meant to protect students from predatory for-profit colleges. You’re upset. But then the EPA starts to chip away at the Clean Air Act. So, you move to address that. You’ve barely gotten started when Trump okays polluting streams with mine waste. And you can’t let that one go unanswered. Except, next thing you know, the Dept. of Justice is attacking its own FBI…

Now, I don’t have these in order. But they’re all outrageous things this administration has done. And they’re just a drop in the bucket. Now add racist immigration policies… attempts to dismantle the social safety net… ballooning the national debt with tax breaks for the rich… attacks on the Endangered Species Act… rolling back civil rights protections… packing courts with un- and under-qualified judges… and more.

Plus, there’s Trump’s support for white nationalists… verbal attacks against our closest allies… encouraging dictators… weakening NATO… and his countless Twitter feuds. The name-calling. The whacko conspiracy theories. And the lies. Over 14,000 of them in barely 3 years.

Would you stick with a spouse who lied to you an average of 14 times a day? Yet the GOP seems to think it’s a plus in their president.

And maybe that’s their strategy.

Death by Shrapnel

Just before the turn of the 19th century, a British Royal Artillery officer “improved” on the cannonball. Lt. Henry Shrapnel invented a hollow ball, filled with lead shot, that exploded in mid-air. The explosion showered the area in fast-moving lead pellets.

This meant a cannonball – instead of killing or maiming a few soldiers – could take out dozens at a time. Shrapnel’s invention was so effective, his government awarded him a lifetime pension of more than 80,000 pounds sterling (in today’s values).

And those flying bits of metal became forever linked to Shrapnel’s name.

They may have also inspired the current GOP strategy. Instead of lobbing cannonballs to eliminate voting rights or environmental protections all at once, the GOP seems to be using shrapnel.

You can’t get Americans to agree that minorities shouldn’t be able to vote. But you can chip away at the minority vote by eliminating rural polling locations… requiring tougher proofs for eligibility… and restricting early voting.

All of these moves can be excused by claiming they’re “anti-fraud” measures. Even though widespread voter fraud is a myth.

Implemented on a state-by-state basis, these measures aren’t a cannonball. But they sure stink of shrapnel.

Their sheer volume makes combating them hard. The GOP controls most state legislatures… plus the U.S. Senate and the White House. The constant barrage of new scandals, lies, and outrages makes a coordinated response even harder.

But the stakes are too high to fail. Our Democracy is being driven towards oligarchy… our economy is sliding into hopeless debt… and the American Dream may be gasping for its last breaths.

Which is why every concerned American has to vote. Even if it’s hard to register. Even if there are few opportunities to vote early. Even if it costs a few hours’ pay.

2020 is our opportunity to seize control of our destiny once again. Imagine the joy your children and grandchildren will feel if we do.

And how they may suffer if we fail.

Believe it or not, Uncle Sam will give you a hand. You can register online to vote in 38 states at https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote… plus D.C.

Vote.gov will tell you how to register… even if you can’t register online. Another good resource is www.rockthevote.org.

Be prepared to defend democracy. Don’t let the GOP steal another election. Register… vote… and win!

How Trump and McConnell Are Undermining the Judiciary

Imagine you’re standing before a judge. You’re nervous… and you should be. You’re representing yourself, but…

You’ve never tried a case before. You’ve never examined a witness. You’ve never taken a deposition. You haven’t argued a motion or picked a jury.

Now imagine the judge you’re facing is in the same boat. Virtually no courtroom experience at all. It’s like the blind leading the blind.

Welcome to the Trump/McConnell Judiciary

That’s exactly the case with Sarah Pitlyk, Trump’s latest pick as an appeals court judge.

According to the American Bar Association’s (ABA) William Hubbard, “Ms. Pitlyk has never tried a case as lead or co-counsel, whether civil or criminal. She has never examined a witness.”

“Though Ms. Pitlyk has argued one case in a court of appeals,” Hubbard continued, “she has not taken a deposition. She has not argued any motion in a state or federal trial court. She has never picked a jury. She has never participated at any stage of a criminal matter.”

Which may explain why the ABA deemed her “not qualified” to serve as an appellate court judge.

No matter, Senate Republicans rubber stamped her nomination. Maine’s Susan Collins was the lone GOP senator who felt being unqualified should keep Pitlyk off the bench.

So far, the ABA has rated nine Trump nominees as unqualified. Four of those – including Pitlyk – were unanimously rated “unqualified” by the ABA’s standing committee on the federal judiciary.

Since January 1989, the ABA standing committee has unanimously rated only five nominees as unqualified. Trump nominated four of them.

If qualifications aren’t important, what is Trump looking for? And why is Moscow Mitch ramming them through the Senate? In a word: Ideology.

For Trump and McConnell, the main concern is who will toe the GOP line. An appeals court judge with virtually no courtroom experience? No problem! As long as they’ll safely rule in favor of GOP ideology.

Let’s look at how this stacks up in real-world terms.

The GOP Is Hijacking the Courts

Bill Clinton was in office for eight years. The ABA rated four of his nominees as unqualified. Three were confirmed by the Senate.

George W. Bush also served for eight years. The ABA found eight of his nominees were unqualified. The Senate confirmed five.

In just threeyears, the ABA has already rated nineTrump nominees unqualified. The Senate has confirmed six, with a seventh pending.

Now let’s look at a more revealing set of numbers. How many federal judges did the Senate confirm under Obama vs. Trump?

The GOP controlled the Senate for six of Obama’s eight years in office. During his tenure, the Senate confirmed a total of 94 federal district and appeals court judges.

In just three years, they’ve confirmed 150Trump nominees. That’s over 50% more judges confirmed in less than half the time. Moscow Mitch dragged his feet with Obama nominees. Now he’s fast-tracking Trump’s picks.

Including those the legal community considers unqualified for the job.

As we saw with Merrick Garland, McConnell isn’t concerned about qualifications. Obama’s choice for the Supreme Court should have been a shoo-in, as he had widespread support among Republicans.

But Moscow Mitch refused to hold confirmation hearings… for a year. Essentially reserving a Supreme Court seat for Trump. In violation of the U.S. Constitution.

As GOP support wanes among voters, the party is grasping for power. Stacking the courts is one way they can hold on. Because these federal appointments are for life.

Which is why…

Progressives Have to Vote Like Their Lives Depend on It

Trump and his cronies are counting on another “Bernie or Bust” defection. In 2016, disappointed Bernie supporters helped elect Trump. And we all know how that turned out.

Here’s where we need a hard dose of reality. Progressives can’t afford another four years of Trump. Heck, Americacan’t afford another four years of Trump.

Our relations with our allies are in shambles. The national debt is skyrocketing. The wealth gap is expanding. Racism is making a comeback. Health care is moving out of reach – even for many who haveinsurance. Higher education now leads to a lifetime of debt for many. Social Security and Medicare are under assault.

The American dream is on life support. And Donald Trump stands ready to pull the plug. The 2020 vote may be our last best hope to save our Democracy. We mustpull together.

Harris, Buttigieg, Sanders, Booker, Warren… Whoever you support, keep this in mind:

Allof them are more qualified than Trump. And anyof them will help restore our Democracy from his imperial presidency.

If we all don’t get behind the Democratic nominee, we’re doomed. Another Trump term will be the death knell for our grand experiment in Democracy. And all your hopes for the future will go down in flames.

On the other hand, if we all do join together behind the Democratic nominee, we have the votes to send Trump packing. Along with Moscow Mitch and the GOP’s Senate majority.

We can take America back. We can undo the damage Trump and his cronies have done. We can begin to pack the courts with qualified judges – chosen for their abilities, rather than ideologies.

The ballot box is our last best chance to prevent Trump and McConnell from hijacking the courts. If we give them four more years, we may never recover.

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Thebault, R., “Trump nominee who is anti-IVF and surrogacy was deemed unqualified. She was just confirmed,” The Washington Post. Dec 4, 2019.

“ABA ratings during the Trump administration,” BallotPedia(dot)org. Dec 2, 2019.

Bendery, J., “Trump Has Confirmed 150 Lifetime Federal Judges. That’s A Lot,” HuffPost(dot)com. Sep 17, 2019.

Where the H*ll Are the Democrats?

The GOP tweets propaganda several times a day. Their chairwoman also tweets propaganda on a daily basis. The President tweets propaganda almost non-stop. Fox News issues pro-Trump tweets. And various members of Congress tweet their support for the President regularly.

An endless stream of pro-Trump B.S. floods the Twitterverse non-stop.

Meanwhile, the Democratic leadership seems to tweet almost never. There’s a steady stream of unanswered GOP lies and deceptions. All being sucked up by voters. But virtually no opposition from official Democratic sources.

Here’s the thing: If you repeat a lie often enough, people begin to believe it. The GOP lies just become part of the national narrative.

In other words, Trump is winning – at least in part – because the Democrats can’t seem to post more often on Twitter.

So how can we fix this problem? The answer is depressingly simple.

The Truth Is Powerful… But Only if You Use It

I’ve seen dozens of GOP claims on Twitter that the impeachment inquiry is a “witch hunt.” It’s the same claim they made throughout the Mueller inquiry.

But this so-called “witch-hunt” has snared an awful lot of witches. Where are the Dems’ posts pointing out how many Trump operatives have pled guilty – or been convicted? Or how many Russian operatives have been indicted?

The Dems seem to leave their defense to individual posters. The party has no clear response. So, the GOP’s message takes the forefront in voters’ minds. Even though it’s usually untrue.

The Dems’ lack of a clear response gives the GOP’s point credibility. Faced with an unbroken onslaught of GOP propaganda, reasonable voters will go with the flow.

The Dems have seemingly ceded the Twitterverse to the GOP. Is it any wonder Donald Trump is still in the White House?

Reclaiming Barak Obama’s Turf

It wasn’t that long ago an Internet-savvy candidate used the online world to pull off an “impossible” victory. An unlikely candidate turned, “Yes, we can,” into “Yes, we did.” And Barack Obama became the first African-American president of the U.S.

The GOP may have learned from Obama’s victory, but the Dems apparently didn’t. And pro-Trump tweets, on the party level, outnumber anti-Trump tweets by a wide margin.

Why is this important? For one thing, widely distributed tweets are far more likely to be featured on the platform.

As of this writing, Donald Trump has 67 million followers on Twitter. Newsweek reports almost a third of them – 29% – are fake accounts. Still, that’s nearly 41 million real people following Trump.

Twitter is more likely to feature a tweet from a celebrity with 41 million followers than someone with 41… or 41,000… or even 4.1 million. Especially when that celebrity is the President. When he tweets 130 times over a single weekend… well, that’s a heck of a lot of impressions.

Add in multiple daily tweets from his allies – many with millions of followers of their own – and, Houston, we have a problem.

Obama may have held the high ground early on… but the rest of his party seems to have missed the memo. The GOP has broken the code, and they’re flooding Twitter with propaganda. Virtually unchallenged by their opponents.

It’s Not Too Late… But We’re Getting Close

You know who has more Twitter followers than Donald Trump, by a wide margin? Barack Obama. He proves an intelligent and measured voice can even command more attention than a raging nut job.

Party stand-outs, like AOC, are building solid followings. But Trump has a years-long jump on these rising stars. Still, if the Dems built a real social media strategy, they could at least be competitive.

Today, the GOP posted a clip from Fox News, featuring Devin Nunes declaring the impeachment hearings a “disaster” for the Dems. Really? Maybe Nunes didn’t see his own face after Gordon Sondland’s testimony. “Deer in the headlights” doesn’t do it justice.

Witnesses swore under oath Trump was only interested in getting dirt on the Bidens. That most of his top aides were in the loop on this. That he had no real interest in corruption. And that it was made clear to the Ukraine government the military aide and a Trump/White House visit hinged on a Biden investigation.

This is what Nunes calls a “disaster” for the Dems? Clearly this is a joke ripe for a sarcastic reply. Nope. Cue the crickets. I follow the Dems on Twitter, and there was nothing in my feed. Zero. Zip. Nada. Nothing!

It appears the Dems have either the laziest, or the dumbest, social media team on Earth. Twitter should be awash in impeachment hearing news from the Dems.

Where’s the outrage over Lindsay Graham’s “investigation” of the Bidens? Can you say “Benghazi”? I can. In fact, I’ve covered that charade at least twice.

GOP conspiracy theories? Pizzgate isn’t whacko enough for you? Trump’s links to birtherism? Deep state sabotage? Come on! What are you waiting for? Those naked pics of Trump Nunes said you were after?

The GOP and its allies have made a mockery of our political system. Up is down. Black is white. In is out. And the Dems are tweeting about tech giants and Black Friday deals. Geez! You can’t leave allthe hard work to CNN.

It’s not too late to fight back. But we’re getting uncomfortably close. You need someone tweeting 20, 30, 50 times a day. Not just in response to the GOP propaganda… but getting your story out in advance of their B.S.

If you don’t fight back now, you’ll lose more than the 2020 election. You’ll lose much of the brittle support your party has left.

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Cole, B., “Trump Has 15 Million Fake Twitter Followers,” newsweek(dot)com. May 22, 2018.

GOP Leaders: The Constitution Is Now Optional

With a year left in his second term, Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Garland is well-respected by both the Left and the Right. His qualifications are clear. And his record is spotless. His nomination should have breezed through the Senate. Instead, it never came up for a vote.

Instead, the Senate majority leader – Mitch McConnell – refused to allow Garland even an interview. Let alone a vote. Although the next election was a year away, McConnell insisted voters should have a voice in the decision.

Of course, McConnell quickly cited the Constitution’s “voters’ voice” rule in Article… Um. No. Hold on a minute. There is no “voters’ voice” reference regarding the confirmation of judges. The concept is just something McConnell invented to prevent President Obama from naming a Supreme Court justice.

Welcome to the Republicans’ world… where following the Constitution is strictly optional.

Beware the Phony Emoluments Clause

For more than 200 years, politicians on both sides of the aisle took the Constitution to be the law of the land. Apparently, they were mistaken.

Donald Trump has declared the Emoluments Clause “phony” and impeachment “a hoax” and a “witch hunt.”

His press Secretary, Stephanie Grisham – along with other Republicans – have termed the inquiry a “kangaroo court.” As has Trump.

Never mind the process is enshrined in the Constitution. And the GOP used it with glee to attack Bill Clinton. Suddenly, aspects of the Constitution have become “phony.”

Meanwhile, the Trump Administration – with the explicit support of its Congressional allies – has sought to hinder or delegitimize every aspect of the inquiry.

Claiming non-existent powers to prevent Congressional testimony. Pointing to positive economic numbers to “prove” the inquiry is a sham. Even attacking a decorated military officer – and Trump aide – when his honest testimony wasn’t favorable to Trump.

All while trying to gloss over…

  • How Trump’s businesses have raked in millions from foreign governments. Such as a lobbyist for Saudi interests rented hundreds of nights in Trump’s Washington hotel.
  • Trump sticking taxpayers with over $100 million in bills for stays at his own properties.
  • Trump trying to schedule next year’s G7 summit at one of his own golf properties.

All of which Trump’s Congressional defenders appear more than willing to forgive. Especially since Trump is luring Senatorial support with cash.

Cash “Trumps” the Constitution

Donald Trump speaks one language… and one language only. Cash.

Wealth is Trump’s one measure of worth. And spreading it to gain influence his one measure of power.

Which helps explain why Trump is flexing his fundraising muscles to help vulnerable Republican senators. As long as they stand behind him.

If the House votes to impeach, the trial will be held in the Senate. And Trump desperately wants a favorable majority in the Senate.

One way to ensure that is to keep his supporters in office. So, Trump has been “co-fundraising” with GOP Senators whose seats are in peril. At least, those who are reliably in his corner.

Sometime critics – like Maine’s Susan Collins – have been frozen out.

Stand behind Trump, and his influence with mega-donors is yours to exploit. Cross him, and you have to rely on actual voter support to retain your seat.

Politico points out how backing Trump has helped some of the GOP’s most vulnerable senators. “The donors listen to the president,” former George W. Bush aide Scott Jennings, “and he has the most capacity to energize small-dollar contributions by making the case that he needs a Senate majority to be successful.”

In other words, Trump is buying support in the Senate. If he can ensure a senatorial majority in 2020… any impeachment trial could be doomed to failure. Not based on facts, but on cronyism.

For all practical intents and purposes, Trump is attempting to buy support in the Senate.

Call me crazy – and I’m sure the GOP will – but I’m pretty sure that’s not in the Constitution.

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Easley, J., “Trump Calls The Constitution Phony While Comparing Himself To George Washington,” PoliticusUSA.com. Oct 21, 2019.

Wagner, J. “Live updates: White House expects impeachment, press secretary says; Trump calls Pelosi and Schiff ‘corrupt politicians’,” Washington Post. Nov 1, 2019.

Isenstadt, A., “Trump lures GOP senators on impeachment with cold cash,” Politico.com. Oct 31, 2019.

The GOP Has Abandoned American Ideals

“You people with this phony Emoluments Clause.” That’s what Donald Trump said to reporters. A safeguard enshrined in the United States Constitution. And Trump calls it “phony.”

You’d think this would be the final straw for GOP lawmakers. The line none of them would cross.

You’d think. But you’d be wrong. Even after he’s attacked the Constitution itself, Republican leaders still back their boy. Another example of party before country.

But it’s not the only one. Not by a long shot.

For the GOP, Lies “Trump” Truth

GOP members of Congress recently forced their way into a closed committee meeting on impeachment. They demanded a more open and “transparent” process. The Dems, they claimed, were holding secret meetings… and keeping GOP members in the dark.

Never mind that half the committee is made up of Republicans – who could share info with their fellow Repubs. Never mind this was exactly the same policy followed by Trey Gowdy’s GOP Benghazi investigation.

And – most importantly – never mind the committees are following rules laid out by the GOP-majority Congress in 2015.

Now that a Republican is under scrutiny, the process is somehow unfair.

Here’s how insane this “protest” is…

Fox News commentator, Andrew Napolitano, called out the GOP Congressmen on their protest.

That’s right. A Fox News contributor told Conservative members of Congress they are wrong. That’s how far off the charts the GOP has gone.

A federal judge has also ruled the inquiry is legal. House rules allow for subpoenas – and standing committees can interview witnesses in secret – much like a grand jury.

Now that Dems control the process, GOP legislators protest. But they had no objections when Hillary Clinton was the subject of the Benghazi investigations.

Back then, closed committee hearings were critical. In defending closed hearings, GOP Rep. Gowdy said, “Interviews also allow the committee to safeguard the privacy of witnesses who may fear retaliation for cooperating or whose work requires anonymity, such as intelligence community operatives.”

Good reasons for closed-door meetings. Unless, of course, you’re a GOP Congressman trying to defend the indefensible. Then those safeguards become threats to democracy.

And an excuse to breach their own party’s rules…

The Twisted Logic of Matt Gaetz, et al

Perhaps no GOP rep encapsulates the insanity of “party-first” politics than Florida’s Matt Gaetz.

“The Democrats’ impeachment process deserves to be in front of the American people and not behind closed doors,” Gaetz tweeted. “I was proud to lead the charge for transparency with my Republican colleagues last week.”

Yup. Gaetz is proud to lead the charge against his own party’s rules. Proud to breach the sanctity of a secure Congressional hearing room. Proud to bring smart phones into a Congressional chamber where all outside electronics are banned. And probably proud of the pizza they ordered during their “protest.”

Yes… The brave GOP protestors sent out for pizza to sustain themselves during their protest.

According to Gaetz, “Schiff’s anarchic impeachment sham has devolved into mayhem and is entirely antithetical to constitutional principles.”

It’s anarchic, because… what? Because the majority of American voters favor impeachment? A sham because it’s enshrined in the Constitution?

It’s devolved into mayhem? Really? The only mayhem has been the assault on the secure Congressional hearing room by GOP reps. And it’s hard to imagine that a process enshrined in the Constitution is “entirely antithetical to constitutional principles.”

Keep in mind we’re talking about a president who’s used his office to enrich his family business time and again. Who’s uttered more than 13,000 recordedlies since taking office. And who set a quid pro quo to release funding Congress directed for a key ally.

He’s favored the word of a Russian oligarch over the findings of our combined intelligence community. He’s consistently praised dictators, while alienating our democratic allies. And he’s nominated ethically challenged cronies to the highest executive offices in the land.

Yet Gaetz and company consistently defend Trump. The GOP has abandoned American ideals. Winning for the party has become more important than serving their country. And “the party” represents – more and more – a shrinking base of wealthy white males.

The GOP Is Bringing Us Back to America’s Beginning

Our Founding Fathers had vision. But it was vision informed by a narrow view. Wealthy white men had controlled their world for as long as they knew. So, they established a nation with high ideals… but hampered by the view that wealthy white men were superior.

Bit by bit, America grew. We slowly accepted that blacks, Native Americans, and women were equal to white males. We fought past open racism… past segregation… past immigration quotas… past religious barriers… and past prejudices against women.

Black Americans counted as more than 3/5 of a person. Women won the right to vote. Native Americans were counted as citizens. We made progress.

The GOP wants to change all that.

Their immigration policies favor rich whites. And ban “undesirables.” Their tax plan – already enacted – favors the rich. Who are mostly white.

They want to control women’s reproductive choices. They want to expand a prison system already the most extensive in the world. They want to slowly strangle Social Security and Medicare – in favor of a bloated military budget.

The GOP wants to take us back to a time when wealthy white men controlled everything. Essentially, back to the beginning of our Republic. But with no chance for growth.

Which is why we have to stand firm. To fight every regressive step the GOP champions. To call out anti-Americans like Matt Gaetz for what they are: Regressives.

The GOP has no interest in progress. Just the opposite. Their goal is to turn the clock back. Back to a time when all the power was in the hands of a few rich white men.