Trump's Fourth of July history lesson

In case you missed Trump’s speech at the Lincoln Memorial yesterday (and congratulations if you did), here are a couple highlights:

Trump said:

"The Continental Army suffered a bitter winner at Valley Forge, found glory across the waters of the Delaware and seized victory from Cornwallis of Yorktown. Our Army manned the air, it ran the ramparts, it took over the airports, it did everything it had to do."

That’s right. Trump said airports.

He also said the Army “manned the air,” which makes no sense given it would be another 127 years before the airplane was even invented. How exactly does one “man the air” without the ability to fly?

You also don’t “run ramparts.” You can climb them. Ascend them. Assault them. Seize them. Throw sticks at them. Paint them. Kick them. Even kiss them. But a rampart is a wall. You can’t run them.

But all that’s beside the point. Trump said airports.

He also said that the Fort McHenry battle that inspired the writing of the Star Spangled Banner occurred during the Revolutionary War.

It was the War of 1812. Fort McHenry didn’t even exist during the Revolutionary War.

The strangest thing about all of this ignorance and stupidity is that Trump was reading from a teleprompter, which means that either his speechwriters are incredibly stupid (or trying to undermine him) or he can’t read very well.

In addition to all of this, the public cameras on the National Mall were coincidentally turned off yesterday, likely to avoid showing Trump’s characteristically low turnout, and America got its first look at Trump’s hair when it’s wet.

trump hair.jpeg

For a man who is obsessed with image (his and others) and routinely insults the physical appearance of his critics and opponents, this image, which has been tweeted tens of thousands of times, must have really stung.

Especially when his predecessor also spoke on the Fourth of July in the rain and made it look so damn good.

Important notes on this Fourth of July 2019

  1. I’ll never understand the fascination of some people to light their own fireworks, which are always subpar in comparison to the real thing and occasionally result in serious injuries, permanent maiming, and house fires.

  2. When I was growing up in Massachusetts, the purchase or ownership of fireworks was illegal. This, in my mind, made a hell of a lot of sense, even as a child.

  3. Only 58% of Americans understand what actually happened on July 4, 1776 (which is almost nothing, since the vote for independence was actually taken on July 2, 1776), but still… c’mon people. You should know what we’re celebrating today.

  4. Presidents Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Monroe - Founding Fathers who all played important roles in the Revolutionary War - died on July 4. I don’t support death, but if you’re going to die, I appreciate a well-timed demise.

  5. Meteorologists are predicting extreme heat and intense thunderstorms in Washington, DC today. Given that Trump has illegally diverted money from the US Park service to pay for his vanity project and politicized the event by giving VIP tickets to wealthy Republican donors, I’m happy to see that Mother Nature has decided to spoil his party at least a little bit.

  6. Military leaders, reportedly extremely uncomfortable with the politicization of the armed forces by Trump, have refused to allow tanks to drive down the streets of Washington. Instead, two tanks will be placed on flatbed trucks and remain stationary throughout the day, so what Trump once envisioned as a military parade is now a slightly more intense version of your everyday Touch-a-Truck event. Another reason to celebrate.

  7. My favorite Fourth of July celebrations took place on my grandparents’ farm. I grew up next door to my grandparents, and nothing was better than smelling the burgers and the hot dogs from by backyard and running up the hill to celebrate.

  8. Please take a moment today amidst the parades, fireworks, and hot dogs to reflect upon the sacrifices made by our Founding Fathers, who built this country through sweat, blood, and desire. As for me, I’ll be thinking about Samuel Whittemore, who might just be the toughest old guy in the history of the world.

    Born in England in 1694, Whittemore went to North America in 1745 as a captain in the British army, where he fought in King George's War (1744-48) at the age of 50 and the French and Indian War (1754-63) at the age of 64.

    Then on April 19, 1775, at the age of 80, he engaged British forces returning from the Battles of Lexington and Concord at the onset of the Revolutionary War.

Whittemore was in his fields when he spotted an approaching British relief brigade under Earl Percy, sent to assist the retreat. Whittemore loaded his musket and ambushed the British from behind a nearby stone wall, killing one soldier. He then drew his dueling pistols and killed a grenadier and mortally wounded a second. By the time Whittemore had fired his third shot, a British detachment reached his position; Whittemore drew his sword and attacked. He was shot in the face, bayoneted thirteen times, and left for dead in a pool of blood. He was found alive, trying to load his musket to fight again. He was taken to Dr. Cotton Tufts of Medford, who perceived no hope for his survival. However, Whittemore lived another 18 years until dying of natural causes at the age of 98.

In 2005, Whittemore was proclaimed the official state hero of Massachusetts. Not bad considering this is a state that produced such wartime heroes as Paul Revere, Israel Putnam, John Hancock, Robert Shaw and John Kennedy.

All great men, but if I were sent to war, I’d choose Samuel Whittemore to stand on my side above them all.

Happy Fourth of July everyone.

Grandma+and+Grandpa.jpg

Donald Trump is a traitor. In his own damn words.

Just in case you missed this (because apparently Republican lawmakers missed it entirely because they have said nothing):

A new book by the Washington Post reporter Anna Fifield and a Wall Street Journal story report that Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s brother, Kim Jong Nam, was a CIA informant. Kim Jong Nam was murdered in a chemical-weapons attack in February 2017. That attack was ordered by his brother.

Asked to comment on this revelation, Trump said:

“I see that, and I just received a beautiful letter from Kim Jong Un. I think the relationship is very well, but I appreciated the letter. I saw the information about the CIA with regard to his brother or half brother, and I would tell him that would not happen under my auspices. I wouldn’t let that happen under my auspices. I just received a beautiful letter from Kim Jong Un.”

Once again, Trump sided with a foreign adversary over American intelligence agencies.

Also, he remains obsessed with beautiful letters from murderous dictators.

Later in the week, when asked what he would do if a foreign power approached him with damaging information on political opponents during the upcoming election season, Trump said, "I think you might want to listen. There isn't anything wrong with listening."

It's a crime for a campaign to knowingly solicit or accept items of value from foreign nationals.

George Stephanopoulos then brought up FBI Director Christopher Wray's warning that anyone who received incriminating information from a foreign power should immediately call the bureau.

"The FBI director is wrong," Trump said. He denied that interfering in American elections - as Russia did in 2016 to help him win - is even a problem.

"It's not an interference. They have information. I think I'd take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I'd go maybe to the FBI, if I thought there was something wrong.”

This is a man who called on Russia to find Hillary Clinton's emails. He chose to believe Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denials about Russian interference in the election over US intelligence agencies. He claimed that the Kremlin's 2016 attack on our elections was a Democratic hoax.

Now he’s openly admitting that if Russian or Chinese or North Korean intelligence agencies found damaging information on a Democratic opponent, he would listen and possibly use that information for his own gain.

Honestly Republicans? Isn’t this enough? Are you going to stand behind a President who is siding with foreign adversaries and openly admitting his willingness to work with them again and again?

Just imagine what might’ve happened if Barack Obama had done even one of these things?

Also, where the hell are the Democrats right now?

Why are they not shouting from every damn rooftop in America about these comments? Why are they not conducting hearings on the security of our nation, the sanctity our elections, and the safety of our intelligence officers given what Trump has said this week?

I’m not a political strategist, but it doesn’t appear that anyone in the Democratic party is working with a political strategist, either. How can they remain so quiet in the face of these revelations and comments?

There comes a time in every American’s life when the needs of your country supersede your own personal or political needs.

Republican Justin Amash reached that point three weeks ago.

If his fellow Republicans did not reach that point after this week, they should never call themselves patriots again. Instead, they are hapless, helpless, self-obsessed sycophants interested in maintaining power at the cost of this country’s security.

Listen to Jon Stewart. Do the right thing.

It is unconscionable and evil that United States lawmakers are not doing everything possible to assist the 9/11 first responders as they battle illnesses directly linked to their rescue efforts following the attack on our country.

It makes absolutely no sense.

We have enough money to give corporations and wealthy Americans enormous tax cuts that GOP lawmakers are just now admitting will not pay for themselves.

Duh.

We have enough to pay the hundreds of millions of dollars it has cost American taxpayers to fund Trump’s endless trips to his myriad of golf courses around the world.

Yet we don’t have enough money to treat the sick and dying heroes of our nation?

Jon Stewart went to Congress again on Tuesday to lobby on behalf of first responders. I was told that his opening remarks before the House Judiciary Committee were “extraordinary.”

I groaned.

This is almost always the kiss of death for any speech, at least for me. “Extraordinary” is a high bar that is almost never achieved. Excellence of this level is a rare commodity in today’s world. Often claimed but rarely found.

Happily, gratefully, Jon Stewart found extraordinary on Tuesday and ate it for breakfast. He launched himself over that ridiculously high bar. Cleared it easily. Soared.

It’s a must watch.

And it worked. Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee voted unanimously in favor of the bill. It now heads to the full House for a vote.

After listening to Jon Stewart speak, Elysha and I made a donation to the FeelGood Foundation, the charitable organization to which Stewart aligns himself.

I will be writing letters to my Senators and Congresspeople starting on Monday.

This failure to support the heroes of 9/11 must stop immediately.

Check out Jared Kushner looking stupid, afraid, and bumbling.

There are a lot of takeaways from Jared Kushner’s interview with Axios:

  1. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen someone less prepared for an interview.

  2. This is exactly how an interview should be conducted.

  3. If you can’t say that birtherism wasn’t racist, then you think it was racist.

  4. If you can’t say that Trump’s Muslim ban wasn’t religiously bigoted, then you think it was religiously bigoted.

  5. If you can’t even say that Trump isn’t racist without tripping over your own words, then you probably think Trump is a racist.

  6. We have a brand new definition of “deer-in-the-headlights,” and it’s Jared Kushner.

  7. If I needed someone to defend me in a time of need, Jared Kushner would be the last person I would ever choose.

His arguments also suck.

“I wasn’t part of birtherism” is a stupid reason for refusing to say whether it was racist.

I wasn’t a part of slavery in the United States, but I can say without equivocation that it was racist.

I also wasn’t a part of Jim Crow or the Middle Passage or lynchings in the South, but yes, they were all racist, too.

I also wasn’t a part of birtherism, but yes, that was also racist, Jared.

Also, birtherism wasn’t “a long time ago.” It was less than four years ago when Trump finally acknowledged that President Obama was an American citizen. I know it feels like a long time ago given that there has been a a racist, horny, old burger goblin who literally steals children from poor people in the White House making days seem like weeks and months with his disastrous decision making, but no, four years isn’t “a long time ago.”

“You can’t not be a racist for 69 years and then run for President and be a racist” makes it clear that Kushner nothing about the Central Park Five, Trump’s lies about Muslims celebrating on rooftops on 9/11, or the FBI’s investigation in the 1970s into alleged racial discrimination in the rental of apartments from Trump's real estate company which led to requiring the Trump firm to institute a series of safeguards to make sure apartments were rented without regard to race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

Either he’s unaware or pretending not to know. Either one of these options make him look stupid and ineffective.

The best thing about this interview is how pathetic and useless it makes Kushner appear. For a boy who prides himself on his intelligence, skill, and acumen, he sounds like a bumbling, mealy-mouthed toady.

Apparently all the money in the world can’t wash away your stupidity and cowardice when the television cameras switch on and the questions begin.

What is Alabama thinking?

Two weeks ago Alabama passed a law making abortion illegal even in instances of rape and incest.

Last week Alabama public television refused to air the season premier of Arthur because it featured a same sex wedding.

It’s weird that a state legislature thinks it can permanently role back the clock on progress in an entire state. Right? What are they hoping to achieve? A bastion of bigotry amidst a sea of growing equality? A stronghold where middle aged white men (the entirety of the Alabama legislature who voted for this abortion bill) assert absolute control over women’s bodies?

Are they seeking to be a backward and bigoted state in a country where liberty and freedom is constantly expanding?

Based on polling in 2019 done by Pew, a majority of Americans (61%) support same-sex marriage, while 31% oppose it. That support has grown year over year since 2004 and continues to grow.

Today, 58% of Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 37% think abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. Support for abortion is at its highest level since 1996.

Alabama also ranks last or nearly last in terms of education and the poverty rate. The state that has banned a cartoon featuring same sex marriage and has made abortion illegal even in cases of rape and incest has also failed to educate its citizens and help them to achieve a prosperous life.

I have at least two friends who grew up in Alabama. These are brilliant, bold people who do not reflect the values of the Alabama in the news today. I’m quite certain that they are not alone. There are many progressive Alamabians who share the views of the majority of Americans.

How odd it must be to live in a state so hell-bent on reversing the course of history. How strange it must be to watch your representatives attempt to undermine and eliminate the equality and basic human rights that Americans have come to embrace today.

All while becoming the least educated, most impoverished state in the union.

alabama.jpg

The most disturbing aspect of a Trump Presidency

The most disturbing aspect of the Trump Presidency has been this:

A President can commit a felony, behave unethically, attack the pillars of democracy, and violate the Constitution with absolute impunity if his party controls even one house of Congress and chooses to do nothing to stop him.

As the law stands today, Trump could rob a liquor store or sexually assault a White House staffer but still retain power if his party chose to overlook the crime.

Even worse, Trump could order a surrogate to commit a crime of any kind and then pardon that surrogate for the same crime.

There was a time when I thought that these were technically possible but ultimately ridiculous scenarios, but now it’s become a reality. Republican lawmakers with the exception of one, Justin Amash, have already and continue to support a man who:

  • Bragged about sexual assault on tape and has multiple sexual assault lawsuits pending

  • Promised repeatedly to release his tax returns if nominated by his party and has since refused

  • Operated a fake university that stole millions from innocent Americans and was forced to make restitution through a settlement

  • Continues to brazenly violate the emoluments clause on a daily basis, clearly and routinely profiting from his position as President

  • Paid hush money to porn stars with campaign funds

  • Committed obstruction of justice, at least in the opinion of more than 400 federal prosecutors who have read the redacted version of the Mueller report and sign onto a letter saying as much

The founding fathers fear a situation like this above all others, and rightfully so. When so much power resides in a single person who acts entirely in his own self interest and absent any shame or respect for the institutions of democracy, terrible things can happen, especially when that person remains unchecked by their coequal branch of Congress.

When lawmakers place their own self interested and self preservation over the rule of law, we enter a dangerous time. Let us hope that Justin Amash is just the first of many Republican lawmakers who will come to their senses and do something to stop this President from trampling upon the Constitution.

I’m not holding my breath.

amash.jpg

Just the right words

Stephen Colbert once described Donald Trump using this perfect set of words:

“The President is a racist old horny burger goblin who literally steals children from poor people.”

The stealing children from poor people - in case you didn’t make the connection - is a reference to the child separation policy at the border, which resulted in children locked in cages and the government’s inability to reunite some families because the administration didn’t keep track of the children closely enough.

The horny claim is probably referencing the affairs and his illegal hush money paid to porn stars, but it could also be referencing the Access Hollywood audio in which he admits to the sexual assault of multiple women. Or perhaps Colbert was referencing the time when Trump was speaking about owning beauty pageants, admitted to going backstage to see women as young as 15 years-old completely naked and said, “You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. And you see these incredible-looking women. And so I sort of get away with things like that,”

Or perhaps he was referencing all of it.

That incompetence and indecency, combined with the “very fine” Neo-Nazis of Charlottesville, should’ve been more than enough for the Republican base to stop supporting Trump.

But hey… he cut the marginal tax rate on corporations and the wealthy (resulting in a skyrocketing, recording setting national debt), and he managed to get a man credibly accused of sexual assault on the Supreme Court, so Republicans can look past the fact that he’s “a racist old horny burger goblin who literally steals children from poor people” because they got two things they wanted.

The ends, after all, justify the means. Right?

colbert.jpg

Trump's stupid belief in the simplicity of problems and solutions

There are a lot of problems with Donald Trump. His racism, sexism, incompetence, venality, and open admission that he sexually assaults women are all more than enough to keep him from office.

Add to this Trump University, which robbed Americans of millions of hard earned dollars, and family separation on the border, which resulted in placing children in cages, and it’s a wonder that anyone is supporting him anymore.

Plus the lies, of course. Thousands of lies. Many documented by the Mueller probe but even more stated plainly for everyone to see. Lies about crowd size and economic data and, weirdly, the country of origin of his father. Lies about his willingness to release his tax returns and his violations of the emoluments clause and his overall financial standing.

All of it should be enough. Sadly it’s not.

But perhaps one of the most disturbing things about Donald Trump is his belief that problems are simpler than they appear and solutions are easy. When he was campaigning, this included his promise for “beautiful healthcare” for every American and his repeated assurances that it would be simple to achieve. It included his repeated insistence that he would make Mexico pay for a wall that is still not being built. And it included his recent assurances that North Korea was no longer a threat, even as the North Koreans lied to his face and continued building secret missile sites throughout their country.

Recently, he tweeted two things that are perfect indicators of this ridiculous belief that complex problems require simple solutions, and even worse, that he has the solutions.

In addressing the recent problems and related disasters related to Boeing’s 737 Max plane, Trump tweeted:

Screen Shot 2019-04-23 at 5.50.43 AM.png

This is a man who bankrupted an airline in the late 1980’s and has had his name removed from a multitude of buildings since becoming President, but still, he believes that he has the answer to Boeings struggles. Fix the plane, add some great features, and “REBRAND.”

Simple.

He couldn’t keep the Trump Shuttle running for more than three years, but his extensive aviation expertise should be able to handle this complex problem with ease.

As Notre Dame was burning last week, Trump offered this gem:

Screen Shot 2019-04-23 at 5.54.41 AM.png

Not only is it weird and offensive for him to be tweeting firefighting advice as hundreds of trained professionals were risking their lives to fight the fire, but the fire department actually tweeted in response that dropping water on the fire from overhead would likely cause the entire cathedral to collapse under the weight of the water.

Why would Trump think that he knows the best way to fight a fire?

Why?

Because he’s Donald Trump. He doesn’t read briefings. He doesn’t read books. He believes that Frederick Douglas is still alive and that exercise is bad for you.

He thinks he knows everything, when quite literally, he knows less than any other American President and probably less than the average American.

Yet he’s running the country. Kind of. We learned this week that his people don’t always follow his orders, and more than running the country, he mostly plays golf, watches television and live-tweets the cable news sycophants who say nice things about him.

Most of us rejoice. A bunch of old, white bigots do not.

Have you heard?

National Women’s Soccer League stars Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris are engaged to be married, the couple announced last week. The romance between the athletes began nearly a decade ago when the two met while playing for the U.S. National Team.

Social media was abuzz with the news last week, with people from all over the world sending their congratulations to the couple via Twitter, Instagram, and the like. Popular in their own right for their efforts on and off the soccer field, the union of Krieger and Harris was greeted by soccer fans with excitement.

Even FIFA, the governing body of the World Cup. post a tweet sending their love and congratulations to the couple.

Not everyone sent love and congratulations.

The Republican Party’s 2018 campaign platform declared that “marriage is between one man and one woman” and condemns the Supreme Court ruling making same-sex marriage legal.

The Vice President of the United States called being gay a choice and said keeping gays from marrying was not discrimination but an enforcement of “God’s idea.” He has repeatedly voted against bills that would prevent discrimination of LGBTQ people in the workplace.

In America today, you can be fired from your job for being gay. That is insanity.

Pence’s wife now works at a school that forbids both LGBTQ students and staff.

Donald Trump, despite his promises during the campaign to protect LBGTQ rights, has been equally bigoted.

His State Department has removed a section about violence and discrimination against LGBTQ people from its annual human rights report. His Justice Department rescinded Obama-era guidance instructing public officers to interpret sexuality and gender discrimination under federal prohibitions on sex discrimination. He twice failed to celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month.

It’s so odd to watch so many people around the world celebrate the engagement of these two accomplish and respected women while knowing that the President and Vice President of the United States and the majority of GOP lawmakers would make the marriage of these two women illegal if given the chance.

This is what happens when old, white bigots are in power. They drag their hateful, arcane ideas back into the halls of justice in a desperate attempt to reverse progress.

Happily, far more people in America and around the world are happy for the love that Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris have found, and although progress can be restrained and even temporarily reversed at time, it cannot be stopped forever.

Surprised about my relentless opposition to Trump? Why?

I’m shocked when someone doesn’t understand my relentless, unwavering opposition to Donald Trump.

Why not give the man a chance?

Why spend your precious time writing about him and to him and against him?

Why can’t you ever give him any credit?

I get these questions, and I’m always shocked when I do.

Even if I agreed with his policies, which include tax breaks for the wealthy, banning Muslims from the United States, and giving coal companies the ability to dispose of waste in mountain streams, Trump is still a self-admitted sex offender who separated children from their families at the border, put migrant children in cages, offered support to Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville, referred to African nations as “shit hole countries,” fanned the flames of birtherism for the entire Obama Presidency, openly mocked the disabled, paid hush money to a porn star, operated a fake university that stole millions from hard working Americans, insulted war heroes and Gold Star families, attacks the free press and his own intelligence agencies, and lies repeatedly and verifiably.

He lied about releasing his tax returns. Lies about crowd sizes. Lies about voter fraud. Lied about divesting in his businesses as the Constitution demands. Lied repeatedly about Flynn and Manafort and Cohen. Lied about knowing about the payments to porn stars. Lied about immigration and homicide and crime rates, seeming to make these numbers up from thin air and literally enlarging these numbers from one rally to the next. He told Americans that he barely watched television because he’s too busy reading. He promised Americans that he would have no time for golf as President. He claims that the American Treasury is bursting at the seems with Chinese tariffs when it’s the companies purchasing the goods who pay the tariffs in higher costs. He lied about steel plants returning to America that never did. Coal mines opening that never did.

Even if I thought that trickle-down economics made sense and and the Muslim ban was needed and I favored deregulation over environmental protection, how could any truly decent human being support this man?

Why is anyone surprised that I relentlessly oppose him?

This is not a matter of politics. This is not a liberal vs. conservative battle or a Republican vs. Democrat debate. Policy has nothing to do with any of this.

I will always stand in opposition of indecency, sexism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, homophobia, and racism. I will always stand against thieves, crooks, and relentless liars.

My relentless opposition to Donald Trump should not be surprising. It should be the norm. It should be the position of every American who supports and loves their friends of color. Their LGBTQ friends. Their Muslim and Mexican and African friends. Their female friends.

It should be the position of anyone who loves this country.

We did not need Michael Cohen to tell is that Trump is a racist, a con artist, and a cheat. That is already abundantly clear. That is why I stand in relentless opposition to Donald Trump. Not because he’s a Republican or a conservative, but because he is a fundamentally indecent human being who should not be leading this nation.

This should be no surprise to anyone.

nevertrump.jpg

Do you know who Madame CJ Walker is?

Madame CJ Walker is credited as the first woman in America to become a self-made millionaire.

Unlike the President, who started his career with tens of millions of dollars of his daddy’s money (but lied about the amount for decades), Walker started with nothing and amassed a fortune.

Walker was born Sarah Breedlove on December 23, 1867, near Delta, Louisiana. After suffering from a scalp ailment that resulted in her own hair loss, she invented a line of African-American hair care products in 1905.

Her invention and the company that she founded made her a wealthy woman at a time when women, and especially African American women, were afforded scarcely any of the opportunities that white men enjoyed.

He rise to wealth was truly extraordinary.

Later in life she became a philanthropist and an activist, making financial donations to numerous organizations and became a patron of the arts.

Nothing like the President, who claims philanthropy but was forced to shut down his foundation (and is still facing prosecution) after investigators found that he used donations to purchase paintings of himself, reimburse personal travel expenses, and more.

I tell you all of this in the event my daughter, Clara, asks you who Madame CJ Walker was, and when you say, “I don’t know,” you’re not forced to suffer the scorn that I was just subjected to.

Clara does, "I'm disappointed in you" very, very well.

walker.jpg

This map is terrible. So is this administration.

The Trump administration is not a fan of details.

This was apparent early on when Trump’s official inauguration photo contained the sentence:

“No dream is too big, no challenge is to great.”

So stupid.

Since then, the American people have been subjected to misspellings of every kind, as well as obvious errors in administrative procedures and a fundamental lack of understanding of how the American government works. For example:

  • The disastrous attempted rollout of a racist travel ban

  • Children separated from their parents at the border that still cannot be found

  • Errors in his tax cut legislation that have prevented whole industries from benefiting from the cuts

Time and time again, the Trump administration has proven to be unconcerned and unaware of basic policies and procedures that govern this nation.

Which brings us to this map, which Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin stood beside last week.

See anything wrong with the map?

First, the United States is cut in half. Maps shown by United States officials don’t typically short-shrift our own country, particularly when countries like Russia and China are shown nearly in full.

But even worse (considering the cloud of suspicion that the Trump administration is under):

The symbol representing the White House is placed smack-dab in the middle of Russia

It might turn out to be symbolically accurate when all is said and done, but it’s just another detail that this administration has ignored and makes them look stupid.

map.jpg

Ignoring details isn’t always a terrible thing. I am famously ignorant of many, many details in life, so much so that it occasionally irritates colleagues and friends, including Elysha, who has an artistic eye and will obsess over aesthetic details that are completely lost to me.

I was once asked what color house we own, and I answered incorrectly. I argued vehemently that I was right until we arrived home and was forced to concede my mistake.

In the words of Plato Karafelis, I am the eagle (a position on a Native American spirit wheel). I see the big picture but am rarely close enough to attend to the minutiae.

Elysha, he went on to say, is the mouse. Detail-oriented (which is true) and able to see the small but significant things (also true) but sometimes unable to grasp the larger context.

Elysha pointed out that eagles eat mice, which didn’t make her feel good and was perhaps not the peppiest of pep talks for a wife who wanted to strangle her husband.

But not untrue.

All of this is fine, of course. because I am me. If I miss a detail, a test score doesn’t get entered in some probably meaningless computer software. Or I miss a row or three while mowing the lawn. Or I somehow put on two pairs of underwear before leaving the house.

But when you have your hands on the nuclear football, or you’re cruelly and indiscriminately separating kids from families at the border, or you’re enacting enormous and complex legislation designed to return money into the pockets of the wealthiest Americans while screwing the middle class, details are important.

They really, really matter.

The Trump administration, through their own actions, disagrees, and that should frighten us all.

Trump demonstrates his ineffectiveness with startling clarity

Here’s a particularly stupid act of Trumpian stupidity.

Back on January 4, 2018 Trump congratulated someone (I have no idea who) when the Dow exceeded 25,000 points for the first time.

Traditionally, Presidents don’t tout the rising of a stock market because the market can be unpredictable and exceptionally fickle. Attach your success to a rising Dow, and when market turns south, the implications are obvious:

You suck.

Also, the economy is far too complex for a President to credit himself for any short term rise in any index.

Every President before Trump has understood this and avoided taking credit for any short term changes in the market lest they end up looking stupid and ineffective.

Case in point:

On January 30, 2019, almost exactly one year after that first tweet about the Dow exceeding 25,000, Trump once again tweeted the news that the Dow had exceeded 25,000. This is because between last year’s tweet and this year’s tweet, the market had fallen considerably and spent the end of 2018 climbing out of the hole.

Essentially, what Trump did was point out that within the previous calendar year, the Dow had failed to grow at all.

In other words, he sucked.

In fairness, Trump probably didn’t realize any of this because he knows nothing about economics, nor does he seek the advice of economists or even invest in the market.

He’s simply an ignoramus when it comes to economics.

In fact, had he taken the $60.7 million that his father had given him (not the $1.5 million dollars that Trump claimed for years) and invested it in a simple index fund, Trump would be far wealthier than he is today and wouldn’t have needed to pursue a Trump Tower in Moscow throughout the campaign while lying about it to the American people again and again.

An answer to the stupid question, "How can it be so cold if global warming is real?"

Trump tweeted about the weather at least twice last week, calling into question climate change and global warming given the cold temperatures that have recently gripped the nation.

This is so stupid and so dangerous. Climate change is one of the greatest threat to our country. American intelligence agencies, including the Pentagon, have said so repeatedly.

This is no joke. Our inaction will cause enormous suffering for our grandchildren and great grandchildren.

And the science is clear and peer-reviewed. Seventeen of the warmest years on record have occurred in the last 18 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

Isn’t that enough evidence? In the 169 years that we have been methodically recording global temperatures, the last 18 have been warmer than the previous 151. Beyond the mountains of data collected by climate scientists, isn’t that enough to convince even the most willfully ignorant that climate change is happening?

When faced with one of these climate-denying morons (like Trump) or someone who is honestly and naively questioning the science because of an especially harsh cold spell, this xkcd comic might be helpful:

xkcd-cold-weather-global-warming.jpg

They love themselves more than they love their children.

Greta Thunberg, age 15, is a climate activist who addressed the U.N. plenary last month in Katowice, Poland, condemning global inaction in the face of catastrophic climate change.

Thunberg was brilliant. She speak for four minutes. You should watch it. She is the calmest, angriest child I have ever seen.

Her most compelling argument is this:

“You say you love your children, but you are stealing their future from under their feet.”

It’s a fine point. When 99% of scientists agree that climate change is manmade and you continue to deny climate change, you are staking out the position, in no uncertain terms, that your life as it’s constituted today is far more important than every single generation of human being who follows you, including the children I am teaching in my classroom today.

If you are a political leader of any stripe with children and you continue to deny climate change and pass legislation that helps to perpetuate the coal, oil, and gas industries at the expense of green technologies, there is an absolute and undeniable financial limit on your love for your children.

Donald Trump, for example, opposes wind power because… it’s actually hard to understand why.

He claims that turbines kill thousands of birds, but in truth, the average wind turbine kills about five birds a year.

He argues that wind turbines are ineffective because when the wind doesn’t blow, you have no power. This, of course, demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of the electrical grid and battery technology.

He claims that people living near wind turbines lose their minds because of the sound generated by the spinning blades, when in truth studies indicate that people living near turbines are rarely exposed to average sound levels beyond 45 decibels, which is akin to the hum of a refrigerator. 

In truth, Trump thinks wind turbines are ugly and has fought against the building of them near his properties for more than a decade.

He also recently tweeted about wishing for a little climate change on an especially cold day on the east coast because he doesn’t take the issue seriously and would prefer to dog-whistle his denial to his base.

Trump is willing to sacrifice his grandchildren’s future for personal preference, profits, and political gain. He’s no different than any politician who denies manmade climate change.

These are men and women who care more about their power, wealth, and lifestyle than the lives and wellbeing of their children and grandchildren.

Greta Thunberg is right. We are stealing her future through inaction. We are altering the habitability of our planet for ages to come.

She’s right to be angry. We should all be.

Karen Pence is a bigot, but this is not news.

Karen Pence, wife of Vice President Mike Pence, is going back to work. The second lady will be teaching art at a Christian school in northern Virginia that bans gay and transgender students, faculty, and parents.

The school also forbids faculty members from cohabitation prior to marriage.

This decision has caused a bit of an uproar. After all, the Vice President’s wife is now working at a school that promotes bigotry.

Selects students based upon a bigoted criteria.

Actively excludes children from the school because of their sexual orientation.

It’s disgusting.

By banning gay and transgender students, parents, and faulty from their campus, the school is effectively judging them as unworthy.

Thus the uproar.

Kara Brooks, Pence's communications director, said the attention paid to the school's agreement is "absurd."

"Mrs. Pence has returned to the school where she previously taught for 12 years. It's absurd that her decision to teach art to children at a Christian school, and the school's religious beliefs, are under attack," Brooks said.

I kind of agree.

While it is terrible and disgraceful and disgusting for the second lady of the United States to be teaching in a school that openly promotes bigotry, it’s not exactly news that Mike and Karen Pence are bigots.

Spokesperson Kara Brooks is right. Why the uproar? This is something we’ve known for a long time.

Yes, it’s despicable that any teacher would refuse to teach a student based upon personal bigotry, but it’s not surprising when the person is a bigot.

Karen and Mike Pence are bigots, no different than the racists who defended segregation decades ago, and ultimately, they will be judged by history in the same way that we judge the likes of George Wallace and Bull Connor and Jesse Helms today.

History will aptly characterize them as bigots who deemed their sexual orientation to be the only correct and acceptable sexual orientation. They will be recorded in the history books as small-minded, hate-filled cretins who attempted through words, deeds, and legislation to deny basic human rights to Americans who were different than them.

Disgraceful and disgusting? Yes.

But newsworthy?

I don’t think so. Just a little more confirmation that our country is being run by despicable, immoral, and unjust people.

pence.jpeg

Eric Trump blocked me on Twitter

As you may know, I joined The Knight Foundation’s lawsuit against Donald Trump back in 2017 when he blocked me on Twitter.

On August 28, 2018, the court sided with me and my fellow plaintiffs, and Donald Trump was forced to unblock me, allowing me to see his tweets and respond to them again.

A glorious day for me. You can read about it here if you’d like.

Since then, I’ve been once again free to express my opinions to Trump via Twitter, which I do often because it both amuses me and makes me feel good. On a few occasions, it has also prompted my fellow Americans to express their appreciation for my running commentary.

One man recently wrote: “I read all of the tweets you send to Trump. Thank you. I’m not a writer so I’m not always sure what to say to him but I like knowing that you’re saying it for me.”

Sweet. Right?

This past week, I discovered that Eric Trump, Donald’s middle son, has now blocked me on Twitter, which is weird since I don’t ever tweet or even read Eric Trump’s tweets.

I follow Donald Trump Jr. and occasionally have choice words for him (since he may have committed treason in Trump Tower in 2016 and has definitely and publicly changed his story about that meeting at least half a dozen times), and I even have occasional words for his daughter, Ivanka, but Eric Trump has always struck me as the slightly less evil, definitely less intelligent, relatively benign Trump child.

He didn’t attend the meeting in Trump Tower that day.

He doesn’t traffic in the alt-right movement like his brother. At least not publicly.

He doesn’t defend his father’s racism, sexism, xenophobia, and stupidity online daily.

He says little of importance, so I’ve never wasted my time with him.

And yet he blocked me.

I only noticed the block because a journalist recently cited one of his tweets, which was hidden from me on my feed. When that happens, it’s an indication that either the tweet has been deleted or you are blocked from seeing that person’s tweets.

I was blocked.

There’s nothing I can do about getting Eric Trump to unblock me. While feckless and complicit Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner work for the government, Eric and his brother do not. Instead, they pretend to be running the Trump Organization, so blocking me is perfectly within his rights.

Even though I’ve never tweeted at him or about him.

My guess about what happened is this:

I was spouting off at his dad on Twitter and he saw my comment, thought it deadly accurate, and blocked me rather than being exposed to future truth about his father’s racism, sexism, xenophobia, narcissism, and incompetence.

That’s understandable. Discovering that our parents are just human beings (or in Eric Trump’s case, despicable and vile human beings), as flawed as we are (or in Eric Trump’s case, more flawed than most human beings) is never easy.

Poor little Eric Trump. I hope I haven’t upset him too much.

eric trump.jpg

13 was not a good number in 1989. It's especially bad in 2019.

Total women in the U.S. House of Representatives:

1989:
16 Democrats
13 Republicans

2019:
89 Democrats
13 Republicans

There are terrible and embarrassing numbers, of course.

First, and most egregious: Only 23 percent of the House members are women. This Congress may have a record number of female members, but in a country where more than half of the population is female, this is a ridiculous number. A stupid number. An indicator of how much progress is still needed.

Also disturbing:

It’s almost as if there are members of the Republican party who really don’t think a woman’s place is in Congress. In 30 years, the anemic number of Republican women in the House has stayed the same. It seems as some at least a majority of Republicans favor men over women when it comes to national leadership.

They seem to specifically favor white men, too. Of the 55 African American members of the House of Representatives, just one is a Republican.

It would seem that Republicans believe that white men make the best leaders.

But that can’t be. It must be some kind of statistical anomaly. Some odd effect of gerrymandering.

After all, what kind of troglodytic moron would ever think that women or African Americans don’t deserve a place in Congress?

Or Muslims? Or members of the LGBTQ community?

The Republican party doesn’t have any of them, either, but again, it must be some kind of statistical anomaly. An unintended consequence of where African Americans tend to live.

And women, too. It would appear that even women are not evenly distributed across the country, and a vast majority of them settle in Democratic districts.

In fact, based upon Congressional representation, there must be entire swaths of our country populated primary by white, straight men.

Not a woman to be found.

Otherwise we’d have to assume that a majority of Republicans don’t want to vote for women. And African Americans. And members of the LGBTQ community. Also Muslims and Native Americans.

We might even assume that a lot of them are sexist, racist, homophobic, and Islamophobic.

In short, bigots.

But this can’t be. If given the opportunity, I’m sure the Republican party would happily elect an openly bisexual man or a Muslim woman. I’m sure they would flock to the polls to elect a plurality of women or many, many more African Americans.

Right?

116.png