Category Archives: National

Biden/Harris 2020!!

Finally, we’ve got something to celebrate. It seems a very long time since we last heard some good news. I almost forgot what it was like.

I was resigned to whomever Joe Biden would pick, and prepared to be disappointed. Everyone whom I know was rooting for Kamala Harris. This, in my experience, almost guaranteed it wouldn’t be her. Just like my husband’s playoff picks, my support for a candidate usually means you can make book on a loss.

Not this time. Biden’s first executive decision is golden. I have no doubt that any of the women under consideration would have made a fine Vice President, but Kamala Harris was a standout. I would have preferred Bernie or Elizabeth Warren as the Presidential candidate, or Harris, herself; but for Vice President, she always was, hands-down, my first choice.

The thought of Mike Pence having to spar with her on a debate stage is absolutely delightful. She’s smart, poised, articulate and relatable; all things that he is not. To carry water for Donald Trump, Pence must defend indecency and corruption from the hypocrite’s corner. Not an enviable position. Add to that the fact that Harris is a WOMAN, a gender with which Mike Pence is apparently very ill at ease, and one can only hope he wears a double set of dress shields under the hot lights of the debate stage.

Should Joe Biden, as president, decide against a second term, Kamala Harris is the perfect age and profile to seamlessly turn the Biden /Harris agenda into the Harris/? agenda, as presidential candidate in 2024. She represents the future of the Democratic party.

We’ll be tearing out hair out over some stupid thing Trump will do or say tomorrow, but tonight let’s raise a glasss of good cheer for Kamala Harris, the people’s candidate for Vice President in 2020.

It’s Quittin’ Time, Donald Trump.

As it becomes increasingly unlikely that Donald Trump can legitimately win a second term, we are left to contemplate how the final scenes in this epic American nightmare might play-out.

If he would do us the honor of resigning NOW, the nation might be spared six more months of his compulsive malfeasance.  This alone might make it well-worthwhile to consider making him an offer he wouldn’t refuse.  I am speaking of immunity from prosecution for himself and his two nearest and dearest children.

No Democrat would be eager to make such a deal with the Devil, but allowing him continued license to exploit his office to its vengeful limits might well prove so dangerous that such a deal should at least be considered.

There are increasing calls for his resignation, but no one can seriously think his narcissistic personality would yield to such pressures “for the good of the country” without a big fat bonus for his truly.

Why wouldn’t he simply wait until the last minute of the last hour before Biden is sworn in to pardon himself and his whole family for any uncharged crimes that may be discovered or pursued after he leaves office?  It’s an excellent question, but even in his currently feverish state, he must have noticed that his brushes with the Supreme Court and with the Justice Department, even under his toady Barr, have not always gone in his favor.  

Surely, once he leaves office, if Ruth Bader Ginsberg then retires to make way for another progressive jurist, and likely a more progressive Congress, he will have few if any friends in power and many, many enemies. Included in this number will be the bulk of the Republican political class who have undoubtedly chafed under the yoke of his crazy for the past four years.  Even if they lacked the courage to rebel against his worst instincts while he held office, once he is unceremoniously dethroned, they will likely turn on him with a vengeance.  Like him, they will only be interested in saving their own skins.

The argument for extending presidential clemency to his children, before the fact, will be even thinner than his own, as Congress moves to plug the holes in presidential privilege that his tenure has so vividly highlighted.? I think even most reasonable Republicans (if there are any left) will acknowledge that America can’t survive another abusive presidency like this one.?

Surely, even if he is ignorant of the Constitution and Congress’ ability to reshape presidential privilege (albeit with difficulty) he might be expected to anticipate vigorous challenges to any family pardon that would, at the very least, force exposure of carefully guarded Trump secrets.

Once Trump leaves office, his experiences at the other end of the stick promise to be most unpleasant.

Of course any offer of clemency should be time-limited so that we, the American people, get maximum protection from Trump’s continued malevolent incompetence, or no deal. There is only a slim chance that Trump’s juvenile obstinance will allow for such measured calculation.  After all, he is increasingly given to self-harm in the pursuit of harm to others.

Surely we must give it a try.

Donald Trump’s Inner Child Smashes the Fourth of July

“I know you are, but what am I?”

Donald Trump’s Mount Rushmore manifesto was the ultimate display of his greatest hits. He called out “far-left fascists,” projecting on this oxymoronic invention all the traits of his own mean-spirited attempts at despotism.

“In our schools, newsrooms, even our corporate boardrooms, there is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance. If you do not speak its language performed rituals recite its mantras and follow its commandments, then you will be censored, banished, blacklisted, persecuted, and punished.”

Who is it that demands “absolute allegiance,” and “banished, blacklisted, persecuted and punished” every single person he can reach who has contradicted him? Who is it who wishes out loud that he could jail journalists? And who has attempted to quash transparency and access to the media throughout his administration? That’s right: it’s Donald J. Trump, himself.

With a record number of new Covid-10 cases concentrated mainly in the neighborhoods of his own political base, he could only manage a whine in sympathy with his own imaginary victimization. Arrogant and self-important, he couldn’t leave aside his own selfish vanity or simple childish perversity to model for the thousands seated, cheek-to-jowel, at his feet, the simple mask-wearing behavior that could save tens of thousands of lives.

Having essentially removed himself from the field of combat against the virus, he seeks to do battle, instead, in defense of statues. Nevermind that the only statues that are currently under threat of removal are those of Civil War traitors, he has chosen to defend a bunch of lifeless junk over the lives of his fellow countrymen.

If he imagines this to be the saving message of his feckless reelection campaign, he must be beyond delusional. As the whole Republican party will learn to late to save it, white grievance is a platform of diminishing returns. They have apparently forgotten their own come-to-Jesus moment following the Obama win in 2016, when they pragmatically vowed to shape a more inclusive Republican party.

A majority of Americans recognize the legitimacy of the Black Lives Matter movement, yet he stands in front of that monument to white imperialism, in defiance of treaty-bound Sioux rights and has the nerve to blame Democrats, journalists and unpersuadable independents for disloyalty to HIS warped version of our shared American heritage.

And continuing his patten of appropriating the music of the accursed left, he has the nerve to blast Neil Young from the loud speakers: Neil Young, for godssake!

If there is a devil, Donald Trump must be his right-hand man.

Another Day in Purgatory

When I was a child in parochial school, “Heaven” and “Hell” were vividly contrasting reward and punishment scenarios.  “Purgatory” was much tougher to imagine. It seemed like nothing more than a long, not-unpleasant wait for something better.  Purgatory was a threat only for grown-up imaginations.

To this aging Baby Boomer, life amid the Coronavirus pandemic gives me my first real appreciation of the concept of Purgatory.  It is a life of potentially never-ending semi-isolation, in which we are held out of reach of friends and loved ones while our remaining time on earth ticks away devoid of variety and societal comforts: sameness unrelieved except by food and virtual engagements.

We have no idea when or even if the social privations will ultimately end.  When they do, we have no idea what kind of different world we will be entering…and it will, necessarily be a different world.

If a vaccine isn’t available within the coming year, time-honored but meaningless social gestures like the handshake, cheek kiss and double- cheek kiss will likely fade permanently from habit, as youngsters learn that these conventions are not just anachronistic but potentially dangerous.

Claustrophobics will be relieved to see the practice of packing into subway cars and buses being abandoned in favor of an etiquette of social distancing.? From a couple of trips to Tokyo in the 1990’s, I vividly recall the professional subway “pushers” employed to assist riders’ entry into over-packed subway cars.?

We may come to regard things like salad bars, self-serve soda and frozen custard dispensers as equally uncouth and unsanitary to food-sharing habits of our ancestors, like spoon-sharing and hand-scooping from a community bowl.

Unfortunately, use-and-toss items will likely return to favor as consumers place more emphasis on personal safety than environmental protection.  This is something about which we must already worry.  Combined with the plummeting cost of fuel, this change in focus could hasten the demise of the biosphere as a whole.

Our dependence on social media for work, school, shopping and hanging-out with friends will continue its upward trajectory in replacing live interactions.  We’re a curious but lazy species that cannot resist the lure of “more” for less effort.

In-person sex will never fall out of favor, but it will occur less frequently and less casually.  People will feel more compelled toward practical monogamy, but with less in-person dating, opportunities for connecting with the “right” partner might be few and farther between.

Inevitably, the birth rate will drop precipitously, both because of a decline in intimacy and the powerful disincentive that living through depression and the decline of a civilization has for posterity planning.

The poor and middle class will get poorer as the rich class swoops in to pick  over its financial carcass.  We’ve pretty well read their manifesto in Republican words about “sacrifice” for the sake of the economy and Donald Trump’s feelingless speculations on egregious death statistics for the people he claims to “love.”

This emotionally bankrupt governance of the nation in the face of crisis may prove to be the final nail in the coffin of the United States’ constitutional experiment. If the people cannot depend on the president to tell them the truth or to protect them in times of peril, what is the whole point of having a chief executive? President Trump seems to think the purpose is to serve his own personal interests and whims, but our ancestors summarily rejected monarchy.

We are well-past time for a new Constitutional Convention.  The only reason no one is calling for one right now is because there is a universal sense that holding one must inevitably lead to a partisan impasse and the ultimate dissolution of the Union.

I think that we are coming to that, one way or the other.  Urged on by the health crisis and abdication of responsibility by our President, the Pacific states have already formed one regional alliance and the northeastern states are in the process of forming their own.  Can the southern states and midwest be far behind in shaping their own regional bodies?  

Once separate but equal under the law, the three branches of government have each been irretrievably broken through the cynical machinations of the Party of Trump.  Who knew they were so perilously fragile?

Democratic politicians are not entirely blameless in the decline and fall of the American democratic experiment.  However partisan they may be, though, Democrats are not guilty of the brazen cheating, excessive injustices and boldfaced lying that has redefined the Republican Party in the age of Trump.

Ten years from now, what will the judgement of history be?  Did we pull together to bring the runaway train to a screeching halt at the edge of the precipice or did we leave the madman at the helm and simply get what we deserved?

Thanks, But No Thanks.

Apparently Vermont is one of the nine states getting the “all clear” from Il Duce Don to end social distancing and resume business as usual by May 1.  It is unsurprising that he cares little for the lives of vulnerable people in the state least likely to support him in the upcoming election.

He might just as well say, “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat,” because he’s made it very clear that he believes voter suppression is the only way that Republicans retain power.

Let me be among the first Vermont seniors to say, “No thanks, Mr. President.”  We don’t want to be the canary in your coal mine.

I give Phil Scott credit for a little more common sense than to follow his party’s nominal leader right off the Coronavirus cliff, but I think we should all make ourselves perfectly clear, nonetheless.

I propose that all the vulnerable people who have been endangered by Trump’s self-dealing and deliberate ignorance in the face of the pandemic begin to come together to develop a massive class action lawsuit against him, to launch the day after Joe Biden is inaugurated as President.  No doubt, it will be only one of many awaiting him on that blessed day.

Who cares whether any lawsuit succeeds in the long run!  The idea is to hound him and his family of horrors for the remainder of their days, just as surely as they have darkened ours.

The Worst of Times

We’re in it now.  As of this afternoon, Vermont has 95 cases of COVID-19 and five deaths; but those figures represent only a moment in rapidly moving time.

When I take my little dog out for our daily walk through the empty streets of St. Albans,  I am largely impressed by my neighbors’ self-discipline.  We pass only the very occasional individual or couple, also out for a walk;  we wave from a careful distance and wish each other health.

If only this sort of distancing was being observed everywhere.

Social distancing is the single most important thing we can do in this crisis, but the President of the United States is dangerously using his “bully pulpit” to undermine that message and the urgency of the situation. 

Rather than focussing on supporting the needs of the poor, the sick and the unemployed, Donald Trump has turned his attention on the fantasy casino that is the U.S. stock exchange.

As it gyrates wildly in a largely downward trajectory,  he’s throwing good money after bad to prop it up, yet another time.

His daily press appearances get longer and longer, further and further distanced from reality: orgies of self-congratulatory nonsense.  He doesn’t want to listen to anyone who isn’t singing his praises, yet he assumes that the American people have an endless appetite for his repetitious blather.

This isn’t news.  We’re all stuck indoors, at the mercy of the ever worsening news cycle; and a side helping of Trump talk goes with every serving.   I promise myself daily that I won’t get sucked-in, but it’s damned hard not to peek every so often to find out what he’s been up to.

The answer is always the same: no good.

So I go back to knitting, reading, writing and planning our storeroom dinner, with the occasional reach out via Skype or FaceTime to family and friends.

It feels, for all the world, like the end of one of those “Twilight Zone” episodes, where an ordinary family awaits the apocalypse, all the while maintaining the routines of an irrelevant past.

“Bolt the hatch and pass the potatoes, Ma.”

“Bernie Bros?” I Think NOT.

Seventy-year old cash-poor female weighing-in here, (for what it’s worth):

Please don’t perpetuate the myth that Bernie Sanders supporters are mostly young, male and angry. For all we know, you may be guilty of disseminating Russian misinformation .  

Sanders supporters are representative of voters across the age and gender spectrum.  Their loyalty to the candidate is a reflection of Bernie’s own consistency throughout forty years of public service.  Smart voters have learned to distinguish authenticity from pandering, and trust Bernie to be true to his principles.  

He does not claim that he can deliver Medicare For All on his own, but charges American voters with holding Congress’ feet to the fire until they find a way to make it happen here, just as similar programs have been adopted across the advanced world. That’s good enough for me.  The presidency was never intended to be a platform from which to arbitrarily impose a single person’s will, nor should it be the special instrument of any lobby or industry.   

A  president should provide vision and leadership, but bend to the will of the voters who have the absolute power to replace underperforming congresspersons.  If, as polling suggests, we truly want Medicare For All, or any other form of universal healthcare, we must insist that our representatives make that their priority. 

As a long-time Sanders supporter, I am getting pretty tired of hearing non-supporters characterize our thoughts and inclinations.  

“Mr. Sanders followers have no affinity for anyone other than him.” (Emerson Lynn, St. Albans Messenger)

Not true.  Most supporters whom I know have had to struggle with the choice between Bernie and Elizabeth Warren.  I certainly did and will be more than glad of either candidate as the nominee.

I would have added Kamala Harris to that roster had she stayed in the race.  

Those are just my top choices, beyond which I can readily get behind Amy Klobuchar for her level-headed people skills and Pete Buttigieg for his Obama-like statesmanship.

I can, in fact, willingly support any of the viable Democratic candidates.  They all have different ideas as to how we can achieve it, but share the conviction that we must find a way to provide universal healthcare.

We will have a single very strong ticket coming out of the convention, no matter which two people are chosen to run, and this is not just because any alternative to Donald Trump would represent a vast improvement.  They would each, individually, bring a different and valuable set of talents to the office while restoring some of the ethics and gravitas that have been stripped from government in the Trump administration.

I suspect that tales of the so-called “Bernie Bros” may be largely the product of disinformation campaigns generated from the right (or Russian cyber sneaks?) to divide voters on the left.   From my experience of decades of Vermont campaigns, the abusive behaviors attributed to these supporters simply do not ring true.  I have no doubt that there are individuals of every stripe who behave badly, but I simply can’t give credence to the idea that this is at all common among Bernie’s supporters.  

Quite the contrary, in fact.  I have attended numerous local “town halls” over the years, where Bernie shared pizza with all and sundry and fielded questions from constituents, friend and foe. ‘No sign of those “Bernie Bros,” leaving me to wonder from whence they materialized in national politics.

His authenticity may be one of the reasons why, throughout the decades, he has enjoyed consistent support even in Franklin County, still a Republican stronghold.

Now that Bernie appears to be the “front-runner” (whatever that means), there seems to be a drive toward hysteria in the center-left political class over what they are certain is his “unelectability.”  Rather than attempting to draw Bernie and his supporters out with informed discussions of the true meaning of Democratic Socialism, the media seems to be joining the panic parade.  That Bernie refuses to lie to voters with a comfortingly pat narrative about how we get to Medicare for all, should reassure anyone with common sense, but we have become so accustomed to political lies that we are suspicious when a candidate doesn’t play that game.

As harsh as it is, I’ve pretty much abandoned hope for the long-term future of American democracy as a whole. The founding fathers made a few huge miscalculations in not better limiting presidential powers and screwing around with “representative” government rather than direct democracy.  Those failures just became exacerbated over the duration by unprincipled gerrymandering and money flooding into the electoral process.  With Citizens United we unlocked the candy store and threw away the key.

There’s little chance Congress will ever plug the giant holes in the democratic dike so we will probably become little more than a cautionary tale for future societies toying with competing models for fair governance.  

We’ve had our shot…and we blew it…bigly. 

Dershowitz to the Defense

Ever since Mitch McConnell signaled his intention to herd the Republican caucus right over the cliff in supporting Donald Trump’s “perfect call” argument, the burning question has been what sort of defense was possible on the facts. This weekend offered a glimpse of where this might be going. ?

(Appreciation to “The New Yorker for the accompanying illustration!)

Newly announced as a member of DT’s defense team, perennial camera moth, Alan Dershowitz  has been making the rounds of talk shows, insisting that he is representing the Constitution rather than the president.  His former student, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin did perhaps the best job of ripping away that particular fig leaf, returning repeatedly to challenge this bashful conceit in their lengthy exchange last evening.  It was pretty obvious that Dershowitz already recognizes the stigma that will be forever associated with being another one of Trump’s stooges, so he is doing what he can to distance himself while still serving as the president’s defense attorney.  An impossible conflict?

He was at great pains to repeatedly insist that he is a “liberal” and voted for Hillary Clinton, and, of course, that he would be appearing on behalf of the Constitution, not Donald Trump. Toobin wryly asked if the Constitution had hired him and if he would be paid; a question he rather side-stepped.

Mr. Dershowitz’s argument is that the two Articles of Impeachment against Trump are not technically “high crimes and misdemeanors,” as specified in the Constitution.  This was a difficult argument for him to make, as Toobin reminded him that there was no criminal code for the U.S at the time the Constitution was drafted; so what precisely constituted “high crimes and misdemeanors” in the Framers’ minds remains a matter for interpretation.  Dershowitz kept saying that “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” were “things like bribery and treason.”  That suggests that even he acknowledges that chargeable offenses are not limited to bribery and treason.

Leaving aside for the moment the fact that Trump’s actions with regard to Zelensky seem for fall well within the parameters of bribery, not to mention it’s fraternal twin, extortion; and his overall behavior has at least flirted with treason on numerous occasions over the past three years; I would have liked for someone to ask Dershowitz  A) whether he thought the president’s phonemail with Zelensky was “perfect”, which apparently is the official position of Trump’s Republican defendersd; and B) What exactly should be the remedy for Trump’s bad behavior if not impeachment?

Undoubtedly, he would have countered that removal of the president should be left to the voters in the next election, but when the “crime” involved was an ongoing attempt to corrupt an election, surely such a toothless consequence as “leave it to the voters” is itself a danger to the Constitution.

I would have liked to see the mental gymnastics he would have to perform in order to defend his position on that one!

Dershowitz, who himself has an accumulation of dirty dark clouds over his head ought to eschew demonstrations of high-minded outrage at those like Toobin who dare question his motives.  The problem with “originalists” whether they be constitutional or biblical, is that they will deny the sky is blue if it isn’t so stated somewhere in the original document.

I wonder if Mr. Dershowitz, once again basking in the glow of klieg lights, is aware that, should he survive impeachment, Donald Trump is already planning on decriminalizing bribery, which he claims unfairly handicaps American businesses in the global marketplace.  

You can take the slumlord away from his gangster environment, but you can’t take the gangster out of the slumlord.

Donald Trump: Please Eat More Kale.

We’ve wondered how the Commander-in-Chief maintains that nuclear orange glow.  We’ve asked why he spent several hours at the hospital recently in an unscheduled (emergency?) visit.

Now there is another question that begs asking: what the heck is he eating that so stubbornly resists evacuation from the White House potties?

The answer could provide valuable insight, not only into the plumbing challenges the nation faces to keep the Chief Executive satisfactorily toileted.? It might also explain the Prez’ perpetual attitude of dyspepsia, a condition that has come to affect the affairs of the nation, both foreign and domestic.

When he scowls at Justin Trudeau and hops on a golf cart rather than waddling the hundred yards or so to the finish line at an international photo op, is it because he wants to grab the front-center spot in the lineup; or is it due to discomfort in his nether regions?

As everything the Big Banana thinks or says centers on himself, we can only conclude that his anguished complaint that “people” are flushing ten or fifteen times, must reflect his own daily struggle to vacate his bowels.  Perhaps they have to offer hazard pay to the restroom attendants at Trump Tower?

We know how fond DJT is of his fast food burgers and fries, and suspect he regards ketchup as a vegetable.  Is anybody bothering to slip him some roughage on the sly or is the kitchen staff just waiting for him to explode like a ripe pi?ata of poop and gore?

As little as our President thinks of the news media and freedom of the press, they are to be credited with remarkable restraint in not seizing on the rather obvious narrative of hyperbolic gluttony that this opportunity presents. Not belonging to that noble trade, I simply could not resist a little scatalogical speculation. 

With so little he can talk about in the face of impending impeachment, it seems fitting that his febrile mind focused on the one thing that he will be left with, regardless of the outcome: his relentlessly composting body.  

So, Mr. President, please save the taxpayers a fortune in emergency plumbing fees:  Eat more kale.

VermontPBS primetime impeachment hearings? To air is divine.

Longtime Public Broadcasting heavyweight journalist Bill Moyers and senior writer Michael Winship took out a full page ad in the New York Times last week urging PBS live up to what it once was and go the extra mile next week during the House impeachment hearings.

Moyers and Winship write: We believe that for the sake of the nation, public television should not only broadcast them live as they happen but repeat them in primetime so that Americans who work during the day have a chance to watch and judge for themselves Donald Trump’s guilt or innocence.” ?

The question is, does PBS dare to side with the Constitution or prefer the status quo. What should its mission be?

Vermonters can contact VermontPBS for a local answer and encourage our station officials to urge the national network to broadcast the hearings.

Moyers and Winship continue: During this present Constitutional crisis, the PBS Newshour and Frontline, as well as Washington Week in Review – which was around during those Watergate days — have done their best to keep up with day-to-day coverage of the bizarre developments of Trumpgate. Episodic coverage of the news, however, is not enough to get past the falsehoods and fraud that obstruct the truth in the news, especially when so many characters in the drama possess what Thomas Carlyle called ‘the talent of lying in a way that cannot be laid hold of.’” [added emphasis]