Michael Cohen, President Trump’s previous attorney, has been sentenced to 3 years in prison after pleading guilty to multiple allegations stemming from Robert Mueller’s investigation. Mueller, as we all know by now, is special prosecutor looking into Russian meddling in the 2016 Presidential election. President Trump isn’t too happy about the entire ordeal, claiming hundreds of times, that the investigation is a “witch hunt.”
Now, the term “witch hunt” amuses me. Especially, when applied to this particular investigation. The exact meaning of the phrase “witch hunt” comes from the Salem Witch Trials in Massachusetts between Feb 1692 and May 1693. Nineteen people, mostly women, were found guilty of “witchcraft” and executed by hanging. Obviously, none of them were witches - because witches don’t exist. But the religious lunatics in 1600 believed in them and hunted them, tortured them and murdered them. So in the 1600’s “witch hunt” we have to go hunt down some witches!
BUT NOW - hundreds of years later, we know that witches don’t exist. So the phrase “witch hunt” has evolved to mean that you are hunting for something that does not exist. So, when President Trump screams “witch hunt” all over Twitter, he is saying that there is no collusion evidence to be found, because he is innocent and that the entire Mueller investigation is hunting for something that does not exist. Hence, it’s a “witch hunt.”
Which would be a fine argument - if it was remotely true.
To date, because of Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Russian meddling and the conspiracy to protect the Russians, here are the people that have already pled guilty to a huge variety of federal crimes relating to the conspiracy / lying to the FBI about the conspiracy / federal fraud about the and / or election financing charges in related to the conspiracy:
And that’s just the people that have pled guilty! We’re not even yet counting the dozens of people who have been charged but have not yet had their time in court and / or pled out (yet). We’re also not talking about the other hundred (or more) people that are still under investigation!
So, President Trump is factually inaccurate when he calls the Russian meddling conspiracy a “witch hunt” because there is clearly a huge amount of evidence to suggest conspiracy. Up to and including the folks that have already pled guilty to the conspiracy. AND - the investigation is not over (far from it)!
Remember, a “witch hunt” - hunts for something that does not exist. Robert Mueller’s investigation has already produced enormous amounts of evidence that the Russians meddled in the 2016 Presidential Election. So, the Mueller investigation is clearly NOT a witch hunt. In fact, his investigation is pretty much the opposite of a witch hunt.
Mueller’s investigation is more like, ummm, how can I say it? Oh, I know! It’s more like an investigation into the fact that a hostile foreign government illegally interfered in the 2016 Presidential Election handing the election to Donald Trump and that the Trump family, the Trump campaign, Trump top aides, Trump top advisors and several other individuals all willing and knowingly went along with it and now are all lying to the FBI and trying to cover it up.
Which, is the exact definition of conspiracy.
Finally, I wasn’t a huge fan of Hillary Clinton but I voted for her, against Trump. I will say that Donald Trump sure was right about this one thing: He warned the American people, countless times on the campaign trail that if the people voted for Hillary they would end up with a President who was under federal indictment from day one.
Turns out - he was right! I voted for Hillary Clinton and I ended up with a President under federal indictment from day one!
But something about her emails, though. Right? *sigh*
Late Friday on Nov, 30th, President George W. Bush (43) announced that his father had passed away at the age of 94. The Bush Presidential Center delivered this tweet:
“Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro and I are saddened to announce that after 94 remarkable years our dear dad has died. George H. W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for. The entire family is deeply grateful for 41’s life and love, for the compassion of those who have cared and prayed for dad, and for the condolences of our friends and fellow citizens. - George W. Bush”
Back in April, George H.W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States, lost his wife of 73 years. And, you know what they say after you lose the love of your life. You’ll probably not be far behind.
President Bush (41), as you probably already know, had a long career in public service and politics. He was a war veteran from WWII, a Congressman, a diplomat, the CIA chief, Vice President and President.
Honestly, I don’t know much about other than very widely known public knowledge. I was a teenager when he was President and, as you all know, teenagers usually don’t give much a damn about politics. And I always feel like, the moment someone dies they are vilified or sainted unfairly in either direction. So, I won’t elaborate much on his life one way or another, but I did just find out that after Bush Sr. lost re-election in 1992 to an upstart Arkansas Governor, Bush Sr. wrote this letter to incoming President Bill Clinton:
When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know you will feel that, too.
I wish you great happiness here. I never felt the loneliness some Presidents have described.
There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. I'm not a very good one to give advice; but just don't let the critics discourage you or push you off course.
You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well.
Your success now is our country's success. I am rooting hard for you.
Can you imagine our current Republican President writing anything as classy? Maybe you can, but I certainly can not. In fact, the editorial board over at the NY Times put together a nice piece about this very idea and on 41’s life. Their lead:
“Historians will measure the presidency of George H.W. Bush in familiar ways — by how well or poorly he managed the major domestic and international challenges of his time, his leadership qualities, the moral and social legacies he left for future generations.
Yet, at the moment of his passing, it is difficult not to take note of the profound differences between the 41st president of the United States and the current occupant of the White House, Donald Trump. Beyond a desire to be president — Mr. Bush was more competitive and ambitious than his self-effacing personality sometimes suggested — there is almost nothing in common: the one gracious and modest, the other rude and vain; the one prudent, the other brash; the one steady, the other unmoored.”
The full NY Times story: “George H.W. Bush, Public Servant.”
This morning, a 7.0 earthquake hit Alaska. I haven’t seen any reports of serious injuries or fatalities but it sounds like Anchorage and the surrounding communities got pummeled with some major infrastructure damage, some TV stations going off air and the airport temporarily shutting down.
Alaska hasn’t had an earthquake since that awful M9.2 quake / tsunami hit the Prince William Sound region back in 1964. Which is exactly why a tsunami warning was issued this time in case aftershocks were powerful enough to form a tidal wave. Thankfully, while there were several aftershocks reported, none of them produced the feared tsunami and the warning was cancelled.
The Anchorage Police Department issued this statement.
“The Anchorage Police Department is operational after this morning’s massive earthquake.
Our Dispatch center is fully staffed and answering your calls as quickly as they can. Please only call 911 if it’s an emergency.
Our officers have been dispatched throughout the area and are handling multiple situations. We are working with our public safety partners to keep you safe. For parents, we are working with our partners at the Anchorage School District to check on your children and make sure they are safe.
There is major infrastructure damage across Anchorage. Many homes and buildings are damaged. Many roads and bridges are closed. Stay off the roads if you don’t need to drive. Seek a safe shelter. Check on your surroundings and loved ones.
We will keep you updated via Nixle throughout the day.
Again, stay safe and off the roads. Call 911 only if it’s an emergency.”
Alaska Gov. Bill Walker tweeted that he issued a Disaster Declaration. Now, just so you know - there are two types of Disaster Declarations. First: Major Disaster Declaration, which means the disaster has exceeded the response capabilities of the state and local government and long term recovery is probably needed. The second: Emergency Declaration, which is requested when the state and local government needs help responding to an emergency or disaster; however, no long term recovery assistance is needed.
I have not seen one way or another which type of Declaration Governor Walker has requested but I’m going to go out on a limb and say, “Major Disaster Declaration.” It was a 7.0 earthquake, after all.
This is a developing story and will be updated as further information is available.
House Minority Whip, Nancy Pelosi, was easily nominated by House Democrats in a 203-32 vote to secure her potential return as speaker. That 85% margin is actually much higher than her last time around the block when she won the nomination by a 68% vote facing challenger Rep. Tim Ryan (Ohio). But that’s what happens when you run unopposed, as she did this time.
Pelosi’s win is not unexpected despite the few dozen “Never Nancy” freshmen incoming congressmen. A few behind closed doors deals here and there and suddenly, most of those Never Nancy folks have changed their minds. All they wanted, obviously, was seat on a committee or a promise for this, or a deal for that. Most of the Never Nancy stuff was nonsense posturing masquerading as politics as usual.
But there are a handful of hardcore Never Nancy folks that still claim they will not support Pelosi in the upcoming January vote when both sides of the House get to vote on the new upcoming Speaker role. This too, reeks of political posturing.
The Democrat opposition against Pelosi seems to be spearheaded by Rep. Kathleen Rice (NY-4th district). Rice’s main beef, as I understand it, is twofold. First, that Pelosi has already had her chance and now new (perhaps, younger) leadership should be explored. I’ll quote her for her second point,
“...backroom deals represent the establishment-based transactional politics that the American people hate and patently rejected on Election Day (2018) … These tactics also stifle fair and open leadership elections within our caucus and perpetuate the leadership stagnation that has plagued our party for over a decade.”
And these are all fine points.
But now the Democratic Party has nominated Pelosi to be their Speaker representative for the January vote and common sense and reason tell us all that Rice should back her own party’s nominee, right? She had her voice. She lost. Now - do the right thing and vote for your party’s nominee.
Republicans are going to have a nominee as well. But so far, Rice is pressing on with the Never Nancy nonsense. Rice also has 17 other House Reps., mainly incoming freshmen, that claim they will not vote for Pelosi, either. And if you do the math, Pelosi can NOT lose 18 Democrat votes. Because, assuming all other Democrats, outside the Never Nancy 18 vote for Pelosi, and all Republicans vote for the nominee - then Pelosi will lose and the Republican nominee will actually win the Speaker role - even though Democrats control the house.
This is not something the Democratic party will stand for. Trust me. If the Never Nancy rebellion goes so far as to get a Republican Speaker nominated when the Dems control the house, well, the Never Nancy folk can kiss their political careers goodbye.
Besides, there is a furious push from powerful, influential Pelosi supporters up to and including John Kerry and Barack Obama. I’m sure you’ve heard of those guys. In fact, the Never Nancy crew was actually significantly higher until recently. Pelosi and her team have flipped more than a dozen Congress-folk from the Never Nancy movement to Pelosi’s side.
Of course, they all changed their minds, as I mentioned above, during closed door meetings, which is precisely what Rep. Rice is talking about. So, there’s that.
But still, the time to rebel against your own party is - not, bloody, now. I suspect most of the Never Nancy crew will fall in line before that crucial January House vote. There will be a holdout or two, for sure. But threatening to not vote for your party’s nominee and allowing the opposing party to keep the Speaker role - that way lies madness.
And we’ve had enough madness these last two years.
Last week in Kansas City, MO state health inspectors stopped several non profit all volunteer groups from feeding the homeless. By poisoning all their food. You read that right. And if you think this sounds like something out of a bad young adult sci-fi dystopian novel, I agree. That's were you should expect such scum and villainy. But no. It’s real.
I thought to myself, “the moron that came up with the, “Let’s dump bleach in the food” regulation should be immediately fired.” I was saddened to hear that it’s “standard operating procedure” in many states.
So, what actually happened?
A local Kansas City all volunteer non profit group called Free Hot Soup KC went out to multiple parks on Nov. 5th to pass out free food. Mainly, home cooked soups, chili and foil-wrapped sandwiches. In fact, the group has been doing this twice a week for about a year.
Their events draw approx. a few hundred homeless, per park and they usually visit several parks. According to multiple sources, their food events are the highest attended park gathering at all of the parks they frequent. The problem is that neighbors complained about all the homeless people "invading their parks." So they complained.
After about a year of complaints, city officials and the cops crashed multiple Free Hot Soup KC events. The problem being, Free Hot Soup KC doesn’t have a permit to distribute unregulated food to the homeless. State officials make the case that the permit is free and that the state provides free training on how to prepare, package and deliver food to the homeless. So … just take the free classes and sign the free permit, right?
Seems like a no brainer.
And here’s where I think the folks at the Free Hot Soup KC are being a little pompous about the entire ordeal. They are calling their events “picnics” and claim that they don’t need a permit to have a picnic in a public park with their “friends.”
Unless, of course, you invite the public. In which case it’s no longer a private picnic with you and your friends. It’s obviously, a non profit providing food for the homeless. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s quite commendable that they do this. Just get the free permit and take the free classes on safety and food prep. Problem solved.
But no. People need to be difficult. Like, all the time.
Anyway. Yes, it’s true I think Free Hot Soup KC is acting a little self righteous BUT they are still clearly in the right here. I mean, let’s break down what the city officials claim and then do.
Ugh. And just when I was having like a, “Well, I can kind of see their point. It could pose a health risk. It probably wouldn’t, but, it might. I think a small amount of regulation is fair.”
And then the state officials offered a triple whammy of dumb. They:
Um, sorry city official. Your argument of “we’re just trying to make everything safe” just went out the window. You clearly don’t give a rats ass about safety.
Folks on the left and the right were, understandably, pissed off about this story. A common sense and reasonable op-ed appeared a few days later in the Kansas City Star. It said:
“The Health Department could agree to send at least one food safety inspector to Free Hot Soup events, free of charge, not as an enforcer but as an adviser. Those city employees could oversee food distribution, alerting volunteers when food might not be safe.
The Free Hot Soup volunteers would agree not to serve food that hasn’t been prepared and handled safely. Citations would not be issued.
Then, during the next six months, a handful of Free Hot Soup volunteers would take free food handling courses offered by the Health Department. At the end of that period, every event would have to include at least one certified food handler, or face cancellation.
Other volunteers would not need permits. The events organized by Free Hot Soup or any similar coalition could proceed, with at least one person providing trained food safety oversight.”
Thankfully, the following week, as Free Hot Soup KC went out to deliver food - the cops were not there and the food went out as usual. Hopefully, that will be the end of it.
But probably not.
Stan Lee, age 95, has died and with him goes a portion of my heart. Born Stanley Martin Lieber, he apparently always wanted to be a storyteller. And he worked a few odd jobs until finding himself an assistant at Timely Comics. He worked his way up at Timely Comics which, in 1950 rebranded as Atlas Comics. He worked his way up at Atlas Comics which, in 1961 rebranded as Marvel Comics. And from that point on, as you know - history was made.
Stan received his first writing assignment in 1941 for a Captain America comic and used the pen name - Stan Lee. He said, at the time, that he wanted to use a pen name for comics and his real name for novels. As it turned out the novel career never quite got off the ground. Regardless of that, I believe his storytelling prowess was put to fine use.
And then, after decades in the comic business Stan, “The Man” Lee became Marvel’s first Editor-in-Chief and he really did revolutionize comics. In 61’ there were a host of comic heroes we recognize today; a lot of the DC core folks from the Justice League - Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, etc, etc. But DC comics, and comics in general, were mainly marketed to children. Lee pushed Marvel founder Martin Goodman, and publisher John Nee to market to an older audience. And they listened. And so Lee and his co-plotter and artist Jack Kirby turned in Fantastic Four #1. According to wikipedia:
“...broke convention with other comic book archetypes of the time by squabbling, holding grudges both deep and petty, and eschewing anonymity or secret identities in favor of celebrity status. Subsequently, Marvel comics developed a reputation for focusing on characterization and adult issues to a greater extent than most superhero comics before them, a quality which the new generation of older readers appreciated. This applied to The Amazing Spider-Man title in particular, which turned out to be Marvel's most successful book. Its young hero suffered from self-doubt and mundane problems like any other teenager, something with which many readers could identify.”
Lee, along with Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby and John Romata created many of the comic book legends we recognize today: Spider-Man, Captain America, the Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, the Avengers, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Thanos, Doctor Doom, Red Skull, Loki, Green Goblin, Magneto. The list goes on and on.
Personally, I was a huge Spider-Man fan. I don’t quite recall exactly my first Spider-Man comic but it was sometime around kindergarten so - 1977? Which means, I probably fell in love with Spider-Man the exact same year I fell in love with Star Wars.
Actually, I think I just found it. Spider-Man #168, “Murder on the Wind,” featuring little seen since villain Will-o-the-wisp. In fact, I believe he died in that issue. But, it is Marvel comics so he probably came back, eventually. I would certainly not suggest that was the best Spider-Man comic in history (in fact, it’s not that good) but it certainly captivated my heart and soul and from that moment on I was hooked. Pretty sure I still have the comic.
I would even go so far as to suggest that much of my young morality was shaped and formed by Spider-Man’s struggles, actions and choices. “With great power comes great responsibility.” To coin the famous phrase by Peter Parker’s uncle. To me, Spider-Man and Peter Parker will always be the greatest of all super heroes.
And that’s all because of Stan Lee. I know there was controversy about ownership of some of the characters and the historic lessening the roles Ditko, Kirby and a few others played. It’s true. A lot of it played out behind closed doors and in legal corners. I hope it all worked out but I honestly don’t know. But for more on that, I will leave you with these very fine and true words by author Lance Parkin who tweeted, “There's a time for cynicism, there's a time for a more jaded, footnoted, analysis of Stan Lee's contribution and impact.
One of the great creative powerhouses of our era is dead. One of the great creators of children's characters is dead. One of the most important, influential and talented editors and publishing promoters of all time is dead. An artist whose audience, for over half a century, has been measured in billions is dead.”
Stanley Martin Lieber, the scrappy Jewish writer from NYC was inducted into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame (1994), the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame (1995), given the National Medal of Arts by President George W. Bush (2008), nominated for a Hugo Award for Iron Man in 2009, and given Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Saturn Awards (2002), the Visual Effects Society Awards, and the Producers Guild of America. May he rest in peace.
Thirteen people were killed and two are still missing (and presumed dead) after an irate female passenger attacked a bus driver. The driver hit back but lost control of the bus. It veered into oncoming traffic, smashed another car and plunged off a bridge into the Yangtze River in China.
Police released dash cam footage from another car that caught the moment the bus went off the bridge, as well as footage from inside the bus right before the crash. The video is as crazy as it is sad.
Witness that got off the bus before the crash, told investigators that the woman was angry because she had missed her stop. The bus driver advised her to get off at another stop and walk back. She refused. A fight ensued which led to the crash.
The video is intense. I mean, this is (probably) an accident. A negligent accident to be sure, but probably an accident. But if you watch that video it really, really looks like the driver just turns the wheel to the left and takes the bus off the bridge. Most likely, he was distracted by the woman slapping him in the face with her cell phone, but still, I can’t stop noticing the driver actively cranking the wheel to the left. And then, he doesn’t appear to be shocked when the bus goes off the bridge.
The woman, identified by her surname of Liu and the driver with his surname of Ran were both thought to be alive at first and authorities said they would prosecute both of them for endangering the lives of the passengers. Now, we know that everyone on board died including the irate passenger and the driver.
As a really odd aside, the crash brought out a wave of sexist comments. Notice if you will, the red car that gets hit by the bus as it swerves. Well, that specific red car was driven by a woman. And police and media received a large amount of complaints that the woman driving the red car - caused the accident. And therefore all women drivers should be banned.
Anyway. The woman driving the red car suffered from minor injuries, was taken to the hospital and released. The police, obviously, do not think she did anything wrong.
Chinese police didn’t really comment on the sexist attacks on the innocent driver but released the following statement about the crash: “Fifteen fresh lives have vanished and the lessons are extremely painful. May the dead rest in peace and the living be warned.”
The crash in China made me a little depressed and so I searched the web for good stories about buses drivers. And I found one. Over in France, a bus driver pulled up to a stop where a man in a wheelchair was waiting. The man in the wheelchair has been identified as Francois Le Berre, who has multiple sclerosis.
Anyway, the bus pulls over and the driver turns to the other passengers and asks them to make room so he can get Francois on the bus. But every single passenger on the bus refused to make room for the man in the wheelchair. So the bus driver stood up and told everyone to get the F off his bus. A few folks grumbled about it but they complied and got off the bus. Then the driver said to Francois, “You and your helper can get on the bus. Everyone else can wait for the next one.”
And that’s what happened. The French driver is universally being praised on social media. And I have to agree. Well done.
This is your friendly neighborhood reminder to go out and vote. I will not push for one candidate, or one party. You’ve already made up your mind. And you probably wouldn’t want to take my advice, anyway. I have been of voting age for the past seven Presidential elections. I have voted in every race. Only three times has my candidate actually won the election. If I was an NFL team I would be 3 - 4 and probably on my way out of the playoffs.
Not only that but in my home state of MN I am 1-2 for Governor (I didn’t vote for Governor in 98 because I hated them all) and 5-3 for Senate. So, my entire Presidential / Governor / Senator win loss record added together would be 9-9. Fifty lousy percent. Nothing to write home about.
And while, it’s true, I used to be one of the many folks who said that there are only a few major differences between the two major parties; but mostly they are identical. As in, a win for either side is a win for - the rich, big corporations, big money in politics, lobbyists, the military industrial complex, patriarchy and the status quo never changing.
Boy o’ boy, I do not feel that way any longer! I’ll bore you with those details some other time.
Today, I plan to go out and actually do something about it. And that’s vote. Hopefully, you will too!
Where to find your voting location.
What to do if you are turned away at the polls.
With a crucial midterm election on the way, early voter turnout is breaking all sorts of records here in the US. Multiple sources are reporting that, as of Wednesday Oct. 31st, the early votes had exceeded 24 million. By comparison, the 2014 midterms had approximately 13 million early votes.
According to this NBC News report, it looks as if the early votes are fairly evenly split - 43 percent going Republican and 41 percent going Democrat, which is almost identical to the 2014 numbers. But remember, early voting doesn’t show exactly which candidate has been voted for, only how many voters have cast ballots and what their party affiliation is. So it’s reasonable to assume that if you’ve registered as a Democrat then you’re probably going to vote for the Democratic candidate. But technically we don’t know for sure. Vice versa with Republican early ballots.
Lots of folks seem to be stumping for their political allies. Which is fine. President Trump is on a whirlwind tour of something like 15 states pushing for conservative candidates. Former President Obama is stumping for Dems all over the country. Oprah Winfrey’s pro voting / pro Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (D) was apparently so good that even Fox News panelists raved about it. I haven’t heard the speech but I’ve read multiple quotes, including this awesome gem:
“For anybody here who has an ancestor who didn’t have the right to vote and you are choosing not to vote wherever you are in this state, in this country, you are dishonoring your family,” Winfrey said.
Yeah. I agree.
Even Taylor Swift got into the action when, for the first time ever, she used her social media platform urging her fans to register to vote and vote. She spoke out heavily in favor of, and has already cast her early votes for her hometown candidates Phil Bresden (Senate) and Jim Cooper (House), both Democratic candidates. Her fans listened too and she got 65,000 people to register within 24 hours of posting her “go vote” Instagram. If Tennessee miraculously turns blue, Taylor Swift is probably single handedly responsible.
So, just where can you vote early, anyway? Well, all voters have at least one location where you can vote early with an absentee ballot and those locations vary, depending on where you live. You can check out Vote.org’s very own “Find your early vote” calendar here.
Election day is Tuesday, November 6th.
Another day, another lunatic. Many sources have reported multiple gunshot fatalities at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. At least 12 people were shot, eight appear to have been killed. Multiple officers were injured while exchanging fire with the shooter, who eventually surrendered.
The shooter, Robert Bowers, was an active poster on “alt-right” sites, especially, Gab. A site I’ve never even heard of. Anyway, his Gab profile was quickly disabled after he was named the shooter. But images captured from his profile before it was deleted show that a few days before the shooting Bowers wrote about the “kike” infestation, “the overwhelming Jew problem” and this about the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics. I’m going in.” And then he picked up his AR-15 like rifle and attacked a Jewish synagogue during a baby naming ceremony.
Why he chose Tree of Life specifically is so far unclear. You know what’s particularly scary about his attack? He marched right up to the third floor to begin shooting. You know what is usually happening on the third floor of that building on Saturday mornings? Children’s classes.
So, it’s kind of looking like crippling insecure man baby Robert Bowers knew that children were going to be up on the third floor so he went up to massacre them. Thankfully, earlier that morning, all the children’s classes had been canceled (for some reason but presumably, for the baby naming ceremony). Bowers then shot up the synagogue killing several people - here are the names of the victims.
Michael Eisenberg, the immediate past president of the Tree of Life congregation, spoke with the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and told them that, at any typical Saturday morning there would be approx. 100 - 150 people from multiple congregations holding simultaneous services in the building.
Police believe he acted alone and that there is no further threat to the community and are treating this as a hate crime.
This is a developing story.