The Spirit of '76

Brand-new book from author interviewed on "Fresh Air"

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

News and Rumors Swirl Around White House, Capitol

In reviewing the news of the last couple of days or so, I am presented with the image of a whirling gyro in a dust storm.  There are so many stories spinning one is blinded by the grimy cloud. 

Political parties are being re-aligned before our eyes.  That is, members of parties, especially the Republican Party, are getting shaken out, as it were, by The Mueller investigation, primarily, but by other issues -- such as the boudoir controversies of Our Military Leader -- as well. 

To a performing musician such as myself, it speaks of the need for the organizing effect which good art can bring about, whether it be music, painting, dance, or sculpture.  Perhaps it is time to re-invest in the arts -- for our simple sanity, if for no other reason.  

Friday, March 23, 2018

Former White House Aide Gerson Throws Light on Putin Infatuation

Michael Gerson, who served in the George W. Bush Administration casts light on the mysterious infatuation Trump seems to have toward Vladimir Putin.  There are things to admire in any leader and I have nothing against the Russian people.  But a certain kind of fawning can be dangerous in a President.  Mr. Gerson explains at the link below.

Michael Gerson

Former White House Aide Informs and Enlightens

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Kansas Vote Suppressor Kobach Flails in Court Proceedings

Kansas Secretary of State and Gubernatorial Candidate Chris Kobach is having his mettle tested in District Court over a lawsuit filed by the ACLU contesting his efforts to keep legitimate citizens from registering to vote.  The full story is told by The New York Times at the link below.

It is heartening and even thrilling to see Kobach subjected to a strong dose of reality via the legal process.  Chris Kobach is the crown prince of voter suppression efforts in the U.S.  His aggressive efforts to block legal citizens from registering to vote simply on the basis of their ethnic or national heritage is abominable.

The courts are stepping up to the plate to try to stop these new Jim Crow efforts.  Let us wish them well as they help preserve the rule of law in our beloved country.

Kansas Vote-Suppressing Official Flails in Court

Photo Courtesy 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


Events Reach New Climax

Our Military Leader Blindsides America Again

Even though I have written and reported on the facts of a Republican-lead theft of the Presidential election of 2016, and even though I do not yet have the staff to keep up with this President's administration -- still I wanted to express my dismay and concern about the latest astonishing firings coming from the Oval Office. 

While I cannot say I was pleased with Mr. Tillerson (see comment about a stolen election above), he did seem to be a mature adult.  At this point, almost all we can say is time will tell whether a new head at the State Department will make any kind of substantive difference.

Meanwhile, the ship of state careers and careens with a solitary and capricious captain at its helm.  Let us hope there are enough life rafts on this Titanic voyage.  

Monday, March 12, 2018

Former Rep. Scarborough Compares Trump to Mussolini

It is time to tell the media to stop treating OML* like a normal President.  First, he is the beneficiary of a stolen election (stolen not by Russians but by big-money operatives right here in the U.S.)  Second, he is unlike any President we have ever had.  No matter what one thought of his main opponent in the past race, surely OML is not the answer.  The time-honored techniques of propaganda, including the oft-repeated lie, are all too apparent.  Plus, there is the Scarborough denunciation.

It is long past time to hold the media accountable.  

Via Patriot in Exigency --  
Scarborough Compares Trump to Mussolini

*OML = Our Military Leader

Rep. Maxine Waters Says Black Women Key to Removing Trump from Office

Quick Link --  

Maxine Waters On How to Get Trump Out of Office

More on this matter later.

--  TMP    

Friday, March 09, 2018

Kansan's Voter Suppression Scheme Goes to Court

I M P O R T A N T 

via e-mail:  

Trump’s Alien Voter Claim Goes to Court
Kobach rule blocks 1 in 7 New Voters
Could decide 2018 & 2020 Races

By Greg Palast for Alternet

The mainstream media has simply missed the voting rights trial whose outcome could unleash the newest mass vote suppression weapon, the invention of Donald Trump’s chief vote suppression tactician, Kris Kobach of Kansas.

Clip from Palast's film The Best Democracy Money Can Buy

On Tuesday, the trial of the lawsuit by the League of Women Voters against Kobach, Kansas’ Republican Secretary of State, began in a Kansas City courtroom. The League has sued to block the state’s law, drafted by Kobach, requiring all new voters to show proof of citizenship.

Kobach’s law has blocked an astonishing 1 in 7 new registrants from voting in the state because they did not satisfy his citizenship paperwork requirement.

The ACLU, which represents the League of Women Voters, has sent in its top litigators, led by its voting rights director Dale Ho, because of the nationwide implications of the case. If Kobach’s law is upheld and spreads to other GOP controlled states, just over one million Americans could lose their right to vote by 2020.

Oddly, Kobach has chosen a lawyer with little courtroom knowledge—himself.

Judge Julie Robinson was not amused by what many see as a publicity stunt. Robinson, the chief justice of the federal district for Kansas, excoriated Kobach for not knowing “Evidence 101,” and curtly coached Kobach’s amateur team on the correct procedure for cross-examination.

Buffoonish antics in the courtroom drew some laughter. But the partisan result of Kobach’s law is deadly serious. According to the ACLU’s expert witness, University of Florida professor Michael McDonald, nearly half (44.6%) of the voters blocked are young, 18 to 29 years old.

It cannot be lost on Kobach, former Chairman of the Kansas GOP, that young Americans voted overwhelmingly Democratic, 55% for Clinton and only 36% for Trump in 2016.

To justify the paper proof-of-citizenship requirement, Kobach told the court the requirement has blocked 30,000 non-citizens from voting in Kansas. However, he has been unable to prove that even a single one of the 35,314 voters blocked by the law is an alien.

Kobach’s Alien Voter Hunt
Just after the 2016 election, Secretary Kobach called me to confirm he was the source of Donald Trump’s claim that a million aliens voted in the 2016 election. (Kobach also confirmed it was his idea to force Mexico to pay for Trump’s border wall.)

Noting to Kobach that he is the nation’s only Secretary of State with the power to prosecute illegal voters, I asked if he planned mass arrests of alien voters. (Kobach had claimed on Fox News, for example, that “50 Somalians are stealing my vote!”)

Kobach told me, “Just wait! Convictions are coming.”

I’ve waited. But so far, his manhunt, begun five years ago, has produced just a single conviction of a non-citizen voter out of 1.8 million Kansas registrants. Nevertheless, tens of thousands of Kansans are blocked because they cannot produce the evidence—an original birth certificate or passport or naturalization papers—his law requires.

Call From the Prison Parking Lot?
Not surprisingly, lower-income voters are less likely to hold these documents—and less likely to vote Republican. Voters earning less than $50,000 per year voted 53% to 41% against Trump.

And no, neither a driver’s license nor a Social Security card proves citizenship. The alternative, obtaining a birth certificate, can be a costly paper chase, as plaintiff Donna Bucci testified. Bucci, who gets by on the limited income she earns working in a local prison cafeteria, told the court Tuesday that she could not pay both her rent and the $50-$60 total cost to obtain her birth certificate from Maryland.

Kobach cross-examined her, hoping to get Bucci to admit to simple laziness. Kobach asked her why she didn’t call during work hours to arrange a special hearing before a state agency. Bucci replied that no cell phones are allowed inside prisons. Kobach attacked, asking why she couldn’t have run to her car during a break and phoned from the parking lot.

But even if Bucci had reached officials and obtained a hearing date, it would cost her a day of work, assuming she would be allowed the day off, to attend the hearing.

Judge Robinson will have to determine whether this bureaucratic rigmarole constitutes an unfair obstacle to voting. The National Voter Registration Act permits states to require only the “minimum amount” of information from a voter.

Up to now, “minimum” has meant checking the box on a registration form by which you swear, under penalty of imprisonment, that you are a citizen, and signing your name, to complete the registration form.

Neither Kobach nor his spokeswoman have responded to our requests for comment.

The jury-less bench trial is expected to run through Friday.

Danger for White House Rises

Rush Post --

“... it’s likely that a number of additional people will be going to jail and that Trump’s criminal conduct on one or more levels will be apparent."
                                                                  --  Harry Litman, a former deputy assistant attorney general. 

Last several days have seen a flurry of developments in the Mueller investigation, says The Hill: 

Waters Said to Be Rising for White House Amid Mueller Investigations

Friday, March 02, 2018

Why the Arming of Teachers Depresses Interest in Teaching as a Career

The Dean of the School of Education at American University says arming teachers will discourage college students and others from pursuing a career in education.  As an educator myself I can attest to the fact that arming teachers is no panacea for the problem of violence in schools.  And as the writer of this article makes so clear, it is no encouragement to potential teachers.

Arming Teachers A Bad Idea

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Bill Clinton Warns on Rising Nationalism

Rush Link -- Bill Clinton on Rise of Nationalism