Archive for category Politics

Feels like this time could be different

It’s impossible to imagine how Sandy Hook or the Las Vegas shooting didn’t spark enough outrage to result in Republicans taking the heat for being owned by the NRA, but they were barely scathed by it.  But this Parkland shooting could be a tipping point.

I just watched something I’ve never seen before and I have to give CNN credit for capturing the moment.  A grieving mother was given the microphone and went hysterical at lawmakers for not doing anything.  Absolutely hysterical.  And CNN just let it play out for several minutes.  This poor mother was grieving about the loss of her daughter and the CNN host Brooke Baldwin was quite emotional afterwards.  She had a really hard time composing herself.  That’s how powerful it was.

This video needs to be seen at every city council in the country.  I hope it is seen in every home of this country.  It needs to be.  We’re beyond “let’s just all get along and find solutions.”  That’s been tried for the past 30 years.

In addition to this event, it’s been revealed that the shooter was affiliated with a known White Supremacy group.  I’m sure it’s not lost on a lot of people that the enemy within was not muslim.  Was not an illegal immigrant.  It was one of Trump’s supporters.   Sort of makes the wall discussion a little more difficult to swallow.

I heard a rather interesting idea thrown out yesterday on MSNBC.  The basic idea was that changes to the drunk driving laws in this country were made possible in large part by a grass-roots effort from Mothers Against Drunk Driving.  They were relentless in their effort to change the laws and were eventually successful.

I honestly think that another grass-roots effort could have the same effect here.  People are pretty fed up with inaction.  The priorities are all wrong if we value freedom to move about the country with unlimited firepower over the safety of our children.

I’m hopeful for once that perhaps what we needed to see was some live hysteria to help us get off our asses.


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This is not normal

Having lived through Watergate, I’ve often wondered if we’d see a national crisis of that significance again in my lifetime.  The Trump era is an order of magnitude worse than Watergate.

The thing about Trump is, there are so many scandals going on simultaneously, any ONE of them would have brought a different president down.  There’s the violations of the emoluments clause, his blatant racism, the Stormy Daniels payoff, refusal to implement sanctions against Russia, money laundering with Russian banks, playing agitator in chief with N. Korea, his horrible hires for his cabinet.  I literally don’t have time to remember them all.

I firmly believe he will go down as the worst president in American history.  I have no doubt in my mind.  And there won’t be a close second.

I’m consistently tough on the republican party.  The reason is, I hate the republican party.  Plain, simple, and honest.  I didn’t used to.  All it took was to have some semblance of an honorable man in the office and I could easily agree to disagree.  But I didn’t hate the party.  Now I do.  I believe at the core the party is founded on one of the seven deadly sins: greed.  I see it in every piece of legislation they produce.  It’s all about lining their pockets, at the expense of the poor.   I believe my hatred is well founded and backed by factual information.

But here’s where the rubber meets the road.  During the Trump era, I have come to admire many, many Republicans.  Ana Navarro.  Rick Wilson.  Bill Kristol.  Mitt Romney.  Cheri Jacobus.  Why?  Because they have the guts to speak out against their own party.

Rick Wilson is hilarious.  He’s a Reagan conservative, but he refuses to normalize the clown car that is the Trump administration.  Same thing with Ana Navarro.  She’s a once proud Republican.  John McCain is her hero.  But don’t mess with her on T.V. and try to normalize Trumpism.  She’ll kick your ass.

Bill Kristol is on Twitter daily railing against the Trump administration.  He knows all too well that this is not normal.

I sincerely admire these people for their courage to speak out when something isn’t right.   Before it becomes the popular thing to do.  What it does for me is, if they have a conservative opinion about something, I’m listening closely.  I don’t just write them off as a far right loon.  I really want to hear what they have to say because they have demonstrated courage to call out criminal behavior at the risk of being ostracized by their own party.

That’s my takeaway from the first year of Trump.  There are a few patriots within the Republican party and I am so glad to see it.   Hopefully more will emerge as time goes on.



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Security clearances

The cavalier attitude that the Trump administration has demonstrated with regard to the importance of security clearance protocols really, really pisses me off.  Here’s why.

In 1982 I took a job at the Boeing’s Developmental Center in Seattle.  It was a multi-purpose building where some of the business that was transacted there was for Boeing Commercial, but some of it was also for the Boeing Military Airplane Company.  Consequently, some of the buildings required security clearances to get into.

In order to qualify for this job I had to fill out what seemed like my life history in security clearance forms to get even the lowest level security clearance.  Some of what I was working on was related to a wind-tunnel facility Boeing had that was used for both commercial and military use.

I’m talking 20 pages of forms.  At age 22 I was not a well-traveled person, but I had been outside the country twice.  Once to Tijuana, Mexico and once to Vancouver, BC.  It was painstaking work to come up with the plethora of details they required including exact dates and purpose for the trips, return dates, any materials bought.  How am I supposed to remember all this stuff?   What if I was a really well traveled person?  This would almost be an impossible task.

But I got ‘er done and got my paperwork submitted.  The next thing I know, federal agents are interviewing my neighbors asking questions to see if I was the type of person who could be blackmailed in any way.  Did I owe a lot of money to anyone?  Could I be compromised in any way?  And this was all for the LOWEST LEVEL SECURITY CLEARANCE in existence — Confidential.

I jumped through massive hoops to get the government the information it needed and for what gain?

In most jobs, it’s the norm that if you screw up, you know you can be fired.  That’s pretty understandable anywhere you go.  With a security clearance job, if you screw up and forget to cover a classified folder, you not only lose your job, YOU CAN GO TO JAIL.  The point being, it’s SERIOUS BUSINESS.  The federal government isn’t fooling around when it comes to security clearances.

At a company that handled military classified information, it was so important for candidates to get cleared before entering their jobs, that we literally had candidates for jobs at BMAC (Boeing Military Airplane Company), that would fill out their paperwork and then SIT IN THE LOBBY reading magazines for up to 6 months waiting for clearance to actually start their job.  No clearance, no work yet.  Hard stop.

So now we have a situation at the White House where staffers are exposed to the highest level of security information, and they aren’t even cleared.  Jared Kushner isn’t cleared.  Rob Porter was not cleared by the FBI.  Trump has the ability to override the FBI’s recommendation, that’s the law.  But this guy set the bar so low, he KNEW that this guy was a wife beater and let him work anyway.  No big deal.  What virile man hasn’t beat his wife a bit anyway, eh?  The Donald has been accused of this by Ivanka, so he can totally sympathize with Porter.

The guy has NO CLUE what attention to security means.  He blabs to the Russians about Israel.  He leaves open classified information on his desk while random oil executives prance around the oval office.  This isn’t speculation, there are pictures of it.

What makes it worse is that when Republican leaders are confronted with it, they write it off as “He’s new to the job.”  Bullshit.  Learn faster.

The rank and file are held to one standard, and Trumpy, with the most sensitive information on the planet, can’t be bothered to take care of it or stress the importance to his staff not to be careless with it.

I could get fired for not covering up a folder at the Confidential level of clearance.  He does whatever he damn well pleases with the Top Secret level.  Absolutely insanity.





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Right on queue

CNN: Dow plunges 1,175 — worst point decline in history

I’ve actually been waiting for this day for a long time.  Not because I like to lose money.  I’m with everyone else.  Today was not a great day for the old portfolio.

But what it IS good for, is that for a period of time now, I don’t have to listen to the trickle-downers tell me how awesome that tax cut is working.

I like CNN’s choice of headline “worst point decline in history” and the fact that it happened on Trump’s watch.  Is it his fault?  No.  Markets advance and correct.  But the imbecile was taking credit for every point gain as if his brilliance was the reason the market was going up.  So he absolutely deserves this moniker on his watch.

To all those who told me to relax about Trump and just enjoy my 401k…. thanks for the sage advice.

My sincere hope is that it hurts enough to affect the outcome of the midterms.

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Tricky wording

If you were expecting a dissertation on the Nunes memo, forget it.  Nobody gives a shit about Carter Page including me.

Though I have to hand it to the Republicans.  Just like the magician at the carnival, the method involves a trick that plays with your head.

Republicans loathe unions and have been on a union busting mission since before Reagan took office. And to their credit they have been largely successful at it.

From 1960 to 2000 the percentage of workers in the United States belonging to a labor union fell from 30% to 13%.  The irony is that republicans like to harken back to ‘the good old days’ when there was a strong middle class but this was in large part because union wages provided blue-collar workers a shot at living the American dream.  Owning a home.  Buying a car.  Raising a family.  Welders, mechanics, carpenters all had union representation which held wages high enough to live a decent life on.

I remember when I graduated from high school in 1978, one of my best friends Vince Kirchmeier took a union job at Safeway as a checker and was making $9 an hour.  In 1978 that was a ton of money.  I chose instead to go the JC route and hopefully come out of that skilled enough to earn a living wage.  Two years later in 1980 I took a job at Boeing in Everett Washington for $7.50/hr.   It really made me think if my investment was worth it.  I was still behind Kirchmeier and I had just given up 2 years of my life to get educated.

For the most part, those union jobs do not exist for young people today.  They do not have that option in front of them.  It’s basically enter a college program at considerable expense and pray you’ll get your money back, or else something close to minimum wage.  Or the military.  There just isn’t a lot in-between.

In any case, republicans hate unions and some of their leading politicians have made careers out of busting unions.  Scott Walker comes to mind.

What’s clever about it is that Walker didn’t coin the term “union busting movement.”  Instead they came up with the “Right to Work” movement which basically starved unions of their dues and put them out of existence.

Right to work.  Sounds so…. innocent.  So righteous.

Similarly republicans are pulling off another sleight of hand move that will privatize everything including air traffic control – safety-be-damned – under the banner of “Infrastructure Plan.”  Pay close attention to the Infrastructure Plan because it’s likely we’ll have privately owned prisons where Jeff Sessions is a major shareholder.

Republicans held a retreat in West Virginia last weekend to discuss the road ahead.  There’s no shortage of issues facing the country.  The government runs out of money on Feb. 8th – just 6 days from now.  There’s DACA to deal with.  There’s infrastructure to build and a national opioid crisis.  What pray tell did they spend their time on at this retreat?

Given the massive tax cut to the wealthy that passed just after Christmas, republicans know we now have to address spending.  Just as we were warned, after gifting the billionaires more billions, now they are coming after medicare and entitlements.

But what’s step one in coming after entitlements?  Coming up with a clever name for it.  And they accomplished just that.  It’s no longer “Entitlement Reform.”  That’s too obvious that it will be cuts to the poor.  It’s now “Workforce Development.”  This has been Paul Ryan’s dream ever since he finished the last chapter of “Atlas Shrugged.”

So now we have a term for it that will sell quickly on Fox News.  As Republican consultant Frank Luntz aptly put it:

“Republicans are better at agreeing to a term and sticking to it.  There’s a simple rule. You say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and then again and again and again and again, and about the time that you’re absolutely sick of saying it is about the time that your target audience has heard it for the first time.”

That would certainly explain “Benghazi” and “E-mails”

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I watched the State of the Union response given by Joseph Kennedy III and thought his remarks scored high from a shared values perspective. But unlike some, I’m not ready to get on the Kennedy 2020 train just yet.

I love the fact that he’s young and has the potential for energizing the youth vote, but my gut tells me Kamala Harris is a better choice.

My grandmother, Marcella Toner, held a leadership position in the democratic party in Eugene during the campaign of 1960 and was assigned to meet/greet then senator John F. Kennedy at the Eugene airport during a campaign stop. She was rewarded with a signed Christmas card from president Kennedy after his nail-biter election win in 1961. That Christmas card used to make its way to the mantle over the fireplace every year. Can’t blame them for being proud of that event.

Marcella Toner with senator Kennedy from Massachusetts on the campaign trail in 1960

Grandfather Robert Toner shaking hands with senator Kennedy

But I’m not a supporter of political dynasties. I thought Ted Kennedy served our country well and that’s great, but nobody was more relieved when Jeb Bush dropped out of the race in 2016. Part of the reason Trump won was because people were loathe to keep feeding the Clinton and Bush dynasties.

Joe Kennedy III seems like his grandfather RFK in many ways, and I find that admirable. He has a reputation in the House already as a workhorse. But fair or not, he’ll need to prove over time that he’s not in the position he’s in due his family name.

In the meantime, I continue to be impressed with the intelligence, composure, and commitment to social justice issues of Harris. She’s 53 and a while not seasoned in the Senate for very long, she was the attorney general of California from 2011-2017. She’s impressive on TV. Should she decide to run, I think she’ll have a great chance at the nomination. The time seems right for a youth movement. Biden and Sanders are too old. I’m sure both think they could win in a general election and they are probably right, but their age alone will get in the way of energizing the segment of voters who need to start carrying the torch.

Kennedy is 37. That’s a little too wet behind the ears for some including me at this juncture. Maybe 10 years from now would be about right if he developed a following and convinced enough people he was a worthy candidate apart from his Kennedy bloodline.

In the meantime, I’ll be hoping Ms. Harris has it in her to make a run in 2020.

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I wonder …

Given how spineless the House Republicans are, I wonder if Trump gets convicted of obstruction and they fail to impeach, if that means he runs the country from his cell block?  That’d be a first.

I wonder if he’d be entitled to conjugal visits from Melania and/or Stormy Daniels?

I wonder if Melania would be busy on her conjugal visit day?

I wonder if Trump would get to keep his cell phone and thus be able to tweet from his cell block?

I wonder if Sarah Sanders would still be at the podium like, “it’s all good”

I wonder if he’ll shrink 2 inches at his prison physical and only be 73″ tall?

I wonder if Don Jr. and Jeff Sessions will be housed at the same prison or a different one?

I wonder if he and Manafort end up being at the same prison if they will have lunch together sometimes.

These things I have been pondering today.

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