Category Archives: News & Politics

Bribery or Extortion?

A lot of airtime has been spent over whether or not Donald Trump offered a quid pro quo to the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky. Many astute commentators, however, have pointed out that a quid pro quo is not necessary in this case and, in any event, the real criminal activity here is either bribery or extortion. I would argue that it’s actually both. Let’s look at the elements of bribery.

  1. The individual being bribed is a “public official,” which includes rank-and-file federal employees on up to elected officials; [President Zelensky is most definitely a public official, as is Donald Trump.]
  2. A “thing of value” has been offered, whether it’s tangible (such as cash) or intangible (such as the promise of influence or official support); [Lots of cash was offered to Zelinsky. This is the “Quid.”]
  3. There’s an “official act” that may be influenced by a bribe (such as pending legislation that may have a direct impact on the party offering the bribe); [The Ukrainian government was to make an official announcement it was conducting a corruption investigation into the Bidens and the DNC server. This is the “Quo.”]
  4. The public official has the authority or power to commit the official act (for instance, the official is a senator who is voting on a particular piece of legislation); [Two Presidents . . . duh!]
  5. There must be the establishment of intent on the part of the bribing party to get a desired result (the intent to sway the vote by handing over an envelope full of cash); [The “transcript” of Trump’s call and plenty of testimony], and
  6. The prosecution must establish a causal connection between the payment and the act meaning there must be more than just a suspicious coincidence. [Again . . . lots of testimony from highly credible witnesses to the ongoing attempt at extortion].

It’s become quite clear the American public is a bit uncomfortable with the Latin phrase, quid pro quo and, in fact, as previously stated a definitive “this for that” offer isn’t necessary. Given the totality of the evidence so far, it’s quite clear to anyone who is really paying attention—and understands how the law works—Trump was using the threat of Russian violence to extort an announcement of (at the minimum; actual investigation as they real object) an investigation into Burisma and Hunter Biden.

It can also be argued, at the very least, that Trump was also soliciting a bribe from Zelensky before he would release the money Congress had already authorized for military aid to the Ukrainians. Also offered, in exchange for such a bribe, was a meeting at the White House for President Zelensky.

What’s important to realize is there is no reason to dwell on whether or not there was a specific quid from quo (an offer of something in exchange for something else) to find Trump was engaging in extortion and (as previously noted) at the very least solicitation of a bribe.

That Trump is a common criminal and con man, who has managed to grift his way into the highest office in the land, should be quite obvious to all but those who are now deeply enmeshed in his cult of personality. What this says about that swath of the populace supporting him is quite uncomfortable to fathom. Regardless, I’m looking forward to his impeachment and, if we’re fortunate, removal from office of this deeply deranged and hateful man masquerading as an actual President of the United States of America.


A Forgotten Limerick

Faux Snooze

Looking through some of my old writings, many of which have never been published (some because they’ve never been finished,) I came across this limerick. It’s dated December 3, 2013.

Fox newscasts, so chock full of hate
Render truth an impervious gate
They so often dissemble
We can’t help but tremble
With hope they will soon meet their fate


Never Give Up!

Make no mistake. Trump, Barr, Pompeo, Graham, and numerous others are not merely corrupt. They are enemies of the United States of America. Despite cries of “America First” and assertions they are working for us, they are financial internationalists. They don’t give a rip about anything other than their next grift and they will sell us down the river if there’s anything to be gained for them. We will continue to decline as long as they hold the reins of our—repeat, our—government.

I’m happy impeachment hearings are finally under way, but we need to pay close attention to everything that’s going on, and we need to be ready to take matters into our own hands. I’m taking about organizing, demonstrating, marching, striking, boycotting, and whatever it takes to fight back. Our health, our wealth, our freedoms, and everything we hold dear are being slowly eroded by people who have neither the right, nor the desire, to be public servants.

Eyes on the prize, my friends. And make sure you elect progressives to every local office you can: Park Board; Board of Education; City Council; Mayors, etc.


Socialism is NOT a bad word!

Capitalism means money (specifically investment, not wages) is society’s primary consideration. Socialism means people (workers, humans) are society’s primary consideration. I know what I prefer. How about you?

Sure . . . there are thorny issues of ownership and incentivization, what deserves to be nationalized and what can remain in the private sector, but they will be addressed with people, not capital, foremost in mind. And don’t come at me with that tired old trope that socialism has been tried and it’s failed. That’s not even close to the truth. Most examples given are usually of a country that attempted to go straight from feudalism to socialism, without experiencing capitalism at all.

If Karl Marx was correct, and I believe he was, economies need to develop and evolve through various stages, and attempting to circumvent one of those developmental stages isn’t a good idea. This is why I believe the U.S. economy is ripe for becoming socialist; it already is to some extent. Our economy is, if not the most advanced, one of the more advanced capitalist economies in the world. Yet, many of its sectors are—or have been—treated as worthy of receiving benefits in the form of subsidies, grants, and tax breaks that are tantamount to them being socialized.

Most importantly, many larger sectors of the economy are highly developed, with a few being in nearly monopolistic control of their market. This is what Marx called late-stage, monopoly capitalism. It suggests that larger industries, which have become monolithic, are ripe for worker ownership and a more equitable distribution of their profits to the people who actually make those profits happen.

Let’s stop treating the concept, let alone the word, of socialism as if it’s still some sort of disease or bogeyman. The forces of reaction and fascism have long told us to be afraid . . . be very afraid . . . of socialism, but they’re crying wolf and their arguments are dishonest and disingenuous. That is to say, they’re fucking liars and can’t be trusted. They don’t care about you and me. Don’t expect them to be helpful, unless they’re helping themselves.


Outside Agitator

I serendipitously came across this photo a few days ago and shared it with a group that’s fighting the recall of our very first progressive Latina elected to our City Council. I shared it with them not because of the irony (which is substantial) but because the guy with the Latinos for Trump sign has shown up at our City Council meetings to agitate in favor of recalling her. I’m told he’s from Apple Valley, which is well over 100 miles from Simi Valley. There were at several other “protestors” at these meetings that are from nowhere near Simi Valley.

Morons for Stupdity

I only recently learned the Republican Party, recognizing they can’t win control of many Western States via fair elections, have taken up this tactic of recall, which they time to occur when voter turnout is historically likely to be comparatively light. One of the primary organizers of this effort is a contributor to Red State and other right-wing publications and many believe one of her goals to be self-promotion.

Simi Valley suffers from an unfortunately deserved bad reputation for racism, thanks to the Rodney King trial which, if unfamiliar to you, you should Google. When I first retired from Rocketdyne, in 2010, I did some research on Simi. At the time, a Google search turned up essentially three things the city is known for: The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, the worst nuclear reactor meltdown (at SSFL) in U.S. history, and the Rodney King trial. The trial was the most frequently appearing result of the three.

I tried to get some of the city’s leaders to support doing something about it via targeted blogging and social media campaigns, but they didn’t understand what I was getting at, and they weren’t really interested. Now they’re doubling down on their deep animosity for anyone who doesn’t buckle under to the weight of their limited vision.

Simi Valley’s leadership is, for the most part, highly conservative. I would label them reactionary. I’m told they’re corrupt as well, though I haven’t enough knowledge to make a judgment call on that issue. I will, however, be well-educated on it soon. Stay tuned.


Something Different

I’ve been blogging longer than I’ve been on either Facebook or Twitter, yet I spend much more time on the latter two, especially Facebook. I think this is because I think of blogging as being more about writing essays or articles than posting memes or the published work of others.

On Facebook I can post a meme without comment and, depending on how well it resonates, get a fair amount of engagement, whether in the form of reactions, comments, or shares. Twitter is understandably different, so I far less frequently receive the same level of engagement.

At any rate, thought I would share this to see what kind of reaction I get.


Black Then | The First Massive African American Protest in U.S. History Was Led By Children Marching Against Lynching In The Silent Protest Parade

It is clear to me that racism in America will not go away if white people do not stand up and denounce it as the destructive force it is. In order to do so respectfully and honestly, white people need to listen to the voices of people of color. Only by listening to their authentic voices; to their stories and their life experiences, can we even begin to understand how racism affects their lives and why it needs to stop if we’re to progress as a race . . . a human race, that is. Here’s an interesting story that was shared with me on Facebook. Though I would share it here as well.


First Massive African American Protest in American History (July 28, 1917) were children in New York City participating in the Silent Protest Parade against the East St. Louis Riots. Between 8,000 and 10,000 African-Americans marched against lynching and anti-black violence in a protest. The march was precipitated by the East St. Louis Riot of May and July of that year, which was an outbreak of labor and race-related violence that caused up to 200 deaths and extensive property damage. The Parade was organized by famous civil rights activist and first African-American to earn a doctorate (from Harvard University) W. E. B. Du Bois and the NAACP. The protesters hoped to influence President Woodrow Wilson to carry through on his election promises to African-American voters to implement anti-lynching legislation and to promote black cases; to the great horror of civil rights activists across the country, Wilson repudiated his promises, and federal discrimination actually increased during his presidency. It was the first parade of its kind in New York and the second public civil rights demonstration of African-Americans.

The paraders assembled at Fifty-ninth Street and Fifth Avenue and marched thirty-six blocks downtown to Madison Square Park. They were led by about 800 children, some no older than six, dressed entirely in white. Following the children were white-clad women, then rows of men dressed in black. The marchers walked wordlessly to the sound of muffled drumbeats. Despite their silence, their concerns were articulated on neatly stenciled banners and signs.

The banners and signs read: “MOTHER, DO LYNCHERS GO TO HEAVEN?; “GIVE ME A CHANCE TO LIVE”; “TREAT US SO THAT WE MAY LOVE OUR COUNTRY”; “MR. PRESIDENT, WHY NOT MAKE AMERICA SAFE FOR DEMOCRACY?; AND “YOUR HANDS ARE FULL OF BLOOD.”

Source: Black Then | The First Massive African American Protest in U.S. History Was Led By Children Marching Against Lynching In The Silent Protest Parade


The Anger of the White Male Lie – Ijeoma Oluo – Medium

If we’re ever to truly deal with the legacy of racism in American, white people—especially white men—are going to have to step out of their comfort zone and learn a little more about history and the trappings of power, which lie at the root of our racist past . . . and present. One of the best ways to do this is to listen to Black people; listen to their stories; listen to their description of how the world works, because it doesn’t work the same for them as it does for us white folk. It just doesn’t, and it really needs to for all of us to enjoy peace and a modicum of safety and security. This Medium essay is a wonderful example of a piece from which we can glean some incredibly important lessons. Check it out . . .



White men who shoot up schools and workplaces are not murderous monsters, or mindless thugs. They are “lovesick” or “misunderstood” or “tragic.” Hundreds of thousands of words are dedicated to finding the reasons why someone with so much promise could have fallen so far.

But how much promise was there really?

How much promise is there in a life where you are told that all you have to do is exist in order to inherit a kingdom. How much promise is there in a life where your mediocrity is constantly applauded and every hero looks like you and every love interest is a supermodel, but at the end of the day you will be working in a cubicle with everyone else and your only consolation is that you will be making $1.50 an hour more than the women and people of color in your office?

Source: The Anger of the White Male Lie – Ijeoma Oluo – Medium


El Paso Gunman’s Fear of “Invasion” Echoed Trump and Fox

Donald Trump and his deplorable sycophants are trying desperately to pin the blame for this weekend’s tragedy in El Paso on anywhere but where it belongs. It’s not video games. It’s not the lack of prayer in schools. It’s not parents who aren’t paying attention. It’s the constant drumbeat of racist hatred toward (primarily) Latinx people and any form of immigration, no matter how useful or benign. Click on the below link to see where of The Intercept lays out his analysis of how this rhetoric has created a climate of hate and fear that’s obviously toxic as hell.

 

El Paso Gunman’s Fear of a Migrant “Invasion” Echoes Donald Trump and Fox NewsRobert MackeyAugust 5 2019, 4:36 p.m.The white supremacist who killed at least 22 people in El Paso, Texas on Saturday appears to have been driven by a racist conspiracy theory — that the United States is under “invasion” by migrants and asylum-seekers from Central America — which has been repeated again and again on Fox News broadcasts, and amplified by that network’s most powerful viewer, President Donald Trump.

Source: El Paso Gunman’s Fear of “Invasion” Echoed Trump and Fox


Four Boxes of Liberty Redux

I didn’t really care for the visual I created and posted yesterday, depicting the four boxes of Liberty, so I created another one. I thought yesterday’s was OK in depicting the concept, but I used really simple graphics of the boxes themselves. Last night I thought maybe I should use pictures depicting people—at least for some of them. So . . . here’s the new graphic. It’s much larger than the one I posted yesterday.

PS – You can use all of these boxes simultaneously, save for the last one. Even during a revolution, though, civil life has to continue and it’s quite conceivable all four boxes could be in play at some time.

I hope it doesn’t come to that, but I don’t see the Republicans and white supremacists (I consider them synonymous today) just fading away.


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