Sunday, October 22, 2017

Kelly has shown himself to be a dishonorable man

A Dishonorable Man Posing As America's Most Honorable Man

A Dishonorable Man Posing As            America's Most Honorable Man
Credit: Yuri Gripas/Reuters

It doesn't surprise me that White House chief of staff John Kelly got his facts wrong yesterday:

... the retired general ... criticized Democratic U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson for claiming "she got the money" for [a] new [FBI] building during the 2015 ceremony while he and others in the audience were focused on the heroism of agents Benjamin Grogan and Jerry Dove, killed during a 1986 shootout with bank robbers south of Miami....

"A congresswoman stood up, and in a long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there in all of that and talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building, and how she took care of her constituents because she got the money, and she just called up President Obama, and on that phone call, he gave the money, the $20 million, to build the building, and she sat down," Kelly told reporters....

The General Services Administration had already bid out a $144 million construction contract for the project in September 2010, just a few months before Wilson won her congressional seat. The bidding for federal projects takes place after Congress has secured the funding.

"That is crazy that I got [the money] and Mr. Obama just gave it to me," Wilson said. "That building was funded long before I got to Congress. I didn't say that. I have staff, people who write the speeches. You can't say that."

What she did was get legislation through a GOP Congress naming the building after the slain FBI agents, for which she won praise from Republicans and then-FBI director James Comey. That's according to the Miami Herald, which tells us that Kelly also got the cost of the building wrong -- it was $194 million, not $20 million. And in a speech about how we honor slain heroes, Kelly incorrectly identified one the FBI agents after whom the building was named:

I'll end with this: In October — April, rather, of 2015, I was still on active duty, and I went to the dedication of the new FBI field office in Miami. And it was dedicated to two men who were killed in a firefight in Miami against drug traffickers in 1986 — a guy by the name of Grogan and Duke. Grogan almost retired, 53 years old; Duke, I think less than a year on the job. (Editor's note: The F.B.I. agent for which the building is named was named Jerry L. Dove, not Duke.)

↓ Story continues below ↓

Kelly also slandered Wilson by portraying her as a dishonorable person who listened in on what should have been a private phone call. Not only did La David Johnson's family members invite Wilson to listen by putting the call on speaker, they probably did so because she and the family have known one another for years:

Perhaps Kelly, who also listened to the call, would be less stunned if he realized that Wilson's primary identity to the Johnson family isn't as a member of Congress. The Johnsons have known Wilson for decades — most of those years before the former educator moved to Washington to join Congress....

The deceased soldier was an alumnus of the 5,000 Role Models of Excellence Project, a mentoring program Wilson started for youths pursuing military careers among other fields. So were his brothers. One received a full scholarship to Bethune Cookman College and the other is training to become a firefighter.

Wilson's connection to the family goes back at least one generation. She told CNN that she was the principal of a school that Johnson's father attended.

These relationships were part of why Wilson was with the family — not just because she was "a member of Congress."

There's more about Wilson's mentoring and service to her community here -- and yes, since your right-wing uncle will ask, she has spoken out against "hoodlums" responsible for gun violence in the community.

But John Kelly is a dishonorable man posing as America's most honorable man. He has a lot of people fooled, and not just on the right. Here's Axios's Mike Allen:

Sexual abuse in Hollywood. Social media abuse in Silicon Valley. Political abuse in the White House. Dive into Twitter for a few minutes, and these can feel like the worst of times. So everyone, and the GOP establishment in particular, seems hungry for moral clarity.

White House aides, beaten down by criticism from friends and beleaguered by the words and actions of the boss, got a rare moral boost from Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly as he offered a highly emotional and highly personal explanation/defense of Trump's outreach to families who lost young men in Niger....

"Kelly has managed to make himself the moral core of the Trump administration," a top White House official told us. "He just has so much credibility right now ... And he's in the best possible position, because he doesn't have to go out there and face the press every day. If he picks his spots he is now an extraordinarily credible and effective spokesperson on issues that need some moral clarity to them."

But as Josh Marshall notes, that "moral clarity" is just Trumpism with a little less buffoonery. Yesterday Kelly said:

It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation. Absolutely stuns me. And I thought at least that was sacred. You know, when I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country. Women were sacred, looked upon with great honor. That's obviously not the case anymore as we see from recent cases. Life — the dignity of life — is sacred. That's gone. Religion, that seems to be gone as well.

Marshall writes:

The ideological and rhetorical spine of his remarks was a paean to MAGA. The old days were good. We had real religion. Things were right with women. There was no abortion. Honor was sacred and respected. Now it's all crap because of people like Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D), a showboater from Florida who transgressed our last sacred space....

Attacks on President Trump are attacks on the sanctity of heroism and patriotic sacrifice itself. Again, attacking President Trump is attacking the troops. It's the same maneuver driving Trump's war on the NFL. Kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism and police misconduct really isn't about police brutality or racism it all. It's spitting on the sacrifice of American soldiers.

The last person in Washington to use military service as a cudgel this way was another dishonorable man, Oliver North -- who, naturally, was on Fox last night attacking Wilson.

Do I honor Kelly's military service? Yes -- but he dishonors it, by using it to divide America.


UPDATE: Florida's Sun-Sentinel has now posted a video of Wilson's speech. I can't embed it, but you can watch it here. No, she did not boast that she obtained the money for the building. She did begin by declaring her satisfaction with how quickly she'd managed to obtain congressional approval to name the building after the two slain FBI officers -- but she shared the credit with others in Congress including Republicans John Boehner, Marco Rubio, and Carlos Curbelo. Note that her point was that the FBI agents deserved the honor. She went on to praise law enforcement, asking all law enforcement officers to stand, and then she devoted the bulk of the speech to recounting the incident in which the men died, praising them for their sacrifice. And, conservatives, please note that she ended with words for which I would have thought you'd want her to praise her:

God bless you, God bless the FBI, and God bless America.

I'll say it again: John Kelly is a dishonorable man.


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas: Gen. Kelly's reputation now besmirched by connection with Trump

John Kelly and the Dangerous Moral Calculus of Working for Trump

The White House chief of staff, John Kelly, is the latest example of how the President sullies the reputations of those who work with and for him.

Photograph by Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Anyone in politics or government who works for Donald Trump, whether on the payroll or in some other supporting role, is forced to make a sacrifice. Working for Trump means that one's credibility is likely to be damaged, so there is a kind of moral calculation that any Trump supporter must make: Does working for him serve some higher purpose that outweighs the price of reputational loss?

There is a hierarchy of justifications for backing Trump. At the bottom are the spokespeople and purely political officials who are almost instantly discredited, because they are forced to defend the statements of a President who routinely lies and manufactures nonsensical versions of events. Sean Spicer learned this on his first day on the job, when Trump sent him into the White House briefing room to tell the press lies about Inauguration-crowd sizes. He never recovered. But there was also no higher purpose for which Spicer could claim he was serving Trump, except that he was a political-communications official, and being the White House spokesman is the top prize in that profession.

Republicans in Congress are a little farther up the pyramid. Many privately say that they believe Trump is a disaster of a President, an embarrassment to the G.O.P., and, as Bob Corker recently said publicly, echoing what he claimed were the views of most Republican senators, setting America "on the path to World War III." They justify their support by noting that Trump will implement the core Republican agenda, and that alone is worth the price of a person at least some of them believe is unfit to be President. They may be privately embarrassed by Trump, the agreement goes, but at least he has appointed a reliable conservative to the Supreme Court, almost repealed Obamacare (and still might), and has a decent chance at signing a big tax cut into law. How morally justifiable one believes this argument is depends a lot on how bad one believes Trump is for the country and the world, though a Third World War seems like it would be a steep price to pay for Neil Gorsuch.

The tougher cases are at the top of the pyramid. The government needs to be staffed, and, especially in positions of national security, it's hard to argue against anyone taking a senior position at the Pentagon, the State Department, or the National Security Council to insure that Trump's worst instincts are contained. This, of course, was the moral dilemma of the three generals now in top civilian jobs serving Trump: Defense Secretary James Mattis; the national-security adviser, H. R. McMaster; and the White House chief of staff, John Kelly. They were all generally respected for their military service, untainted by prior association with Trump, and their work in the Administration was generally believed to be a continuation of their service to the country by making sure our erratic President doesn't fulfill Corker's warning.

We learned this week that, even if you maintain the most sympathetic view of why these ex-generals continue to serve Trump, there is no way to work for him without paying the Trump tax on one's reputation. Since joining the White House, Kelly has been viewed as a force for good. He helped defactionalize the West Wing by removing some of its most difficult personalities, such as Steve Bannon. He has implemented some basic processes that all modern White Houses have had, such as a system for controlling who meets with Trump and what information flows to him. But then, yesterday, he was dragged into the sordid spectacle of Trump's fight with a congresswoman and the grieving family of La David Johnson, the Army sergeant who was killed in Niger earlier this month.

Trump called Johnson's widow to express his condolences. Some things that Trump said, rather than console, offended Myeshia Johnson, who allowed her local congresswoman and friend, Frederica Wilson, to listen to the call. After Wilson complained publicly about the tone of the call, Trump, rather than doing what any normal President would do by apologizing for any miscommunication, escalated the apparent misunderstanding into a Twitter war. The fact that Trump's targets, a widow and a Democratic congresswoman, are African-Americans added to the sense that the President was, yet again, being racially divisive. Kelly, who rarely speaks publicly, stepped into the briefing room yesterday to defend the President. The most newsworthy comments he made concerned Wilson, who he said was an "empty barrel" who had once turned a ceremony meant to commemorate the deaths of two F.B.I. officers killed in the line of duty into a celebration of her ability to steer tax dollars to her district.

His attack on Wilson is worth quoting at length:

A congresswoman stood up, and in the long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there and all of that and talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building, and how she took care of her constituents because she got the money, and she just called up President Obama, and on that phone call he gave the money—the twenty million dollars— to build the building. And she sat down, and we were stunned. Stunned that she had done it. Even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned. But, you know, none of us went to the press and criticized. None of us stood up and were appalled. We just said, "O.K., fine."

As was quickly reported, the video of Wilson's nine-minute speech is online. Wilson did tell a story about how she; John Boehner, the House Speaker at the time; and Obama worked together to make sure that the building was named after the two slain F.B.I. agents in time for the event. She said nothing about securing funding (she was, in fact, not in Congress when the money was authorized) and nothing about "how she took care of her constituents." She asked law-enforcement officials present to stand up "so we can applaud you and what you do," adding, "we're proud of you, we're proud of your courage." She then told the tragic story of the two agents who lost their lives. The speech bears no resemblance to the speech Kelly described. The White House chief of staff maligned a congresswoman, whose only crime seemed to be criticizing Trump, with a series of lies.

When a reporter at the White House on Friday asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders about the glaring discrepancy between Kelly's account and the actual speech, she said that the White House stood by his remarks. "There was a lot of grandstanding," she said. "He was stunned that she had taken that opportunity to make it about herself." The reporter pressed: "He was wrong yesterday in talking about getting the money. The money was secured before she came into Congress."

Sanders shot back with the kind of statement that would be normal in an authoritarian country, suggesting that Kelly's previous military service placed him beyond criticism. "If you want to go after General Kelly, that's up to you," she said. "But I think that that—if you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that that's something highly inappropriate."

No, it is not. Kelly is the chief of staff and a political operative. He held a press conference and told a lie that smeared one of Trump's political opponents. No government official's military background, no matter how honorable, makes him immune to criticism, especially given the subject at hand. Sanders's response was unnerving. But the bigger lesson of the episode is that no matter how good one's intentions are, when you go to work for Trump, you will end up paying for it with your reputation. For Kelly, not even his four stars prevented that.


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Duhmbya's Back and he's attacking Trump (Good Grief, will this nightmare never END?)

Did you ever think the Republicans would have to send out Duhmbya Bush (who helped ruin the party) to try to salvage it?  Duhmbya and Cheney -- along with Mitch McConnell and all the obstructionist congressmen--laid the foundational bricks for a Trump presidency.  They are responsible for the FrankenTrump monster they alone created.  And now they have to turn to Cheney's puppet to try to mitigate the disaster they have foisted off on the nation--and the world.  I turned off the TV this morning when Duhmbya came on (Oh, NO!) reading the words that had been written for him by a terrified GOP that sees its sweet dreams of taking over the White House and inflicting their disastrous policies on the middle-class and poor, come to fulfillment in ways they never expected.  But they should have expected this from Trump. He is their man, the creature they built, and they are the ones who will have to take him down (until Mueller can do it--HURRY UP, MUELLER!). 

WATCH: Bush just delivered a stunning 16 minute repudiation of Trumpism — without ever mentioning his name

Monday, October 16, 2017

Republican right-wing columnist speaks of Christian value voters

I've been wondering when someone--ANYone--in the right wing would finally say what many of them are thinking, but are afraid to say.  Why does Mike Pence, a devout self-proclaimed Christian man, take the humiliation and disrespect that Trump doses out to him on a daily  basis--especially about Pence's deeply held religious beliefs and his strong conservative values, such as his thinking homosexuality is a sin and that his wife must always accompany him when he is around other women where alcohol is served?  Whether or not you agree with those beliefs, Pence obviously takes his religion very seriously.  Why do Christian voters, who also think of homosexuality as sinful, applaud and cheer Trump, a man who makes fun of Pence for his beliefs and who is constantly demonstrating to the world by his words and actions that he hasn't a religious bone in his body?   At last, a right-wing conservative is speaking up about the hypocrisy of it all.  I would like to hear from conservative Christians as to how they compartmentalize all of this?

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Washington Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.

'Values' voters are misnamed

President Trump revels in the adoration of Christian conservatives, who remain among the most steadfast supporters of the thrice-married, frequently accused misogynist who evidences not a single Christian virtue (e.g. humility, honesty, empathy, kindness, generosity). Trump tells them simplistic applause lines — they can say "Merry Christmas!" — and they applaud. He has delivered for them, in the form of a Supreme Court justice appointment of their liking, a broad order to ban transgender people from the military and sweeping permission for employers to deny birth control as part of the health-care coverage they provide. Sure, he's cruel to "dreamers" and indifferent to the health-care needs of Americans, but it is not as if "values voters" are politically influenced by concern for immigrants or the poor.

Former congresswoman Michele Bachmann, following up on remarks she made on Friday at the Values Voter Summit, called Trump a "man of faith." That's the fable these voters tell themselves and others so as maintain their air of self-righteousness. Trump, you see, is a God-fearing Christian who shares their determination to protect religion, which they actually believe is under attack in the United States. His overt behavior — his bullying, rudeness, nastiness, sexual abuse of women, lying, excessive materialism (doesn't want poor people in his Cabinet) and total lack of empathy — is ignored.

Revealing the depths of these voters' hypocrisy, the summit also hosted Stephen K. Bannon, chairman of the self-described home of the alt-right, Breibart News. The invite prompted conservative David French to tweet: "Why is a Christian organization hosting this vile man?" He continued, "The alt-right launched racist attacks against my daughter. Steve Bannon said he gave the alt-right a platform. Why honor him? … The alt-right also made vile threats against a host of people who were your longtime friends and allies. Yet you chose to feature Bannon." The answer is that the organizers traded political influence for defense of true religiosity; they celebrate anyone who wages the culture war on their behalf, a war based on resentment, anger, self-pity and dishonesty.

Meanwhile, Christian conservatives should know, as with anyone who sucks up to Trump, that he has nothing but contempt for their views, and for their darling Vice President Pence. The New Yorker reports:

A staff member from Trump's campaign recalls him mocking Pence's religiosity. He said that, when people met with Trump after stopping by Pence's office, Trump would ask them, "Did Mike make you pray?" Two sources also recalled Trump needling Pence about his views on abortion and homosexuality. During a meeting with a legal scholar, Trump belittled Pence's determination to overturn Roe v. Wade. The legal scholar had said that, if the Supreme Court did so, many states would likely legalize abortion on their own. "You see?" Trump asked Pence. "You've wasted all this time and energy on it, and it's not going to end abortion anyway." When the conversation turned to gay rights, Trump motioned toward Pence and joked, "Don't ask that guy—he wants to hang them all!"

Mocking prayer? Denigrating the effort to overturn Roe v. Wade? They'd be horrified if a Democrat came close to that sort of conduct. Does Trump believe these things, or is he merely willing to humiliate a devout Christian for his faith?

Trump knows that without the religious right, he's politically dead. There is little likelihood that he will cross them on a policy issue of any importance. Like the National Rifle Association, the religious right made a pact with someone who never evidenced any concern for their issues. So far, the gamble has paid off for both. Trump and Republicans remain the NRA's poodles; Trump delights in fighting the culture wars.

Christian conservatives should give up the ruse — they've made a bargain with the most irreligious and faithless president in history, a man who holds what they value in contempt. Their scam — that they and their candidates operate from some high, moral plane and are the true repositories of American values — should end with this president. They are nothing more and nothing less than an anti-abortion, anti-gay lobby group that seeks to enlist government to impose their ideological positions on others. In short, they are what their critics have always claimed.


Bombshell Expose: Big Pharma Wrote Bill That Crippled DEA Fight Against Opioid Epidemic

Well, no surprise here. Big Pharma, Big Money. Just like the NRA -- They can buy whoever and whatever they want, whenever they want.  How naive we all were to believe we live in the "land of the free."

Trump jokes that Pence wants to "hang all gays"

A president and vice president to be proud of.  Can't wait till they start war with Korea and Itan.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Read about Calvin and Hobbes with descriptive analysis of the characters by the creator of the strip

Calvin and Hobbes is my all-time favorite comic strip, bar none!  Its creator Bill Watterson is a deep thinker who has the talent and ability to project his thoughts/fears/imaginations into his little boy character Calvin and his real-to-Calvin but stuffed-toy-to-the-world tiger friend Hobbes.  

In the following link, I enjoyed reading Watterson's own explanation about all the characters in his strip  -- and what they represent to him.  I am so sorry Watterson decided to retire and stop drawing Calvin and Hobbes back in 1995.  Thankfully, though, his strips for the 10 years from 1985-1995 are a lasting gift to the world that, more and more in this time of historical insanity, desperately needs humor and laughter to get us through.  

I would love to see him draw a strip about the idiocy we see now in our White House and Congress -- but we have reached a time of lunacy in which parody can't compete with "real world" events that stretch credulity and belief far beyond previously established bounds.

Caribbean islands now need to go green -- Most Sensible!

by Harvey Wasserman | October 7, 2017 - 6:16am |permalink

— from Truthdig

The terrible global-warmed tragedy that has ripped through Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands now offers us a unique opportunity—and a vital imperative. As Elon Musk and others in the business of clean, green power have made clear, the islands' centralized fossil-fueled electric grids should not be rebuilt.

Instead, they advocate entirely replacing them with decentralized, community-owned micro-grids, powered by solar panels, wind turbines and locally grown biofuels. That conversion would guarantee the islands a cheap, secure energy supply while fighting the global warming that made these hurricanes such fearsome destroyers of life and property.

» article continues...