Is Sen. Hawley a danger to our democracy?

Josh Hawley, the junior senator from Missouri, was mostly unknown until he joined a few other newsworthy seditionists to attempt to deny certification of Joe Biden’s election on January 6, 2021.

Hawley became a poster boy for the cause, caught on camera fist-pumping outside the Capitol just prior to the insurrection. 

Sen. Josh Hawley at the Capitol, January 6, 2021

His re-election campaign now uses this photo to embellish a number of trinkets available on his website – for example, a coffee mug is available for just $20.00.

Hawley graduated from a private Jesuit high school where he was valedictorian; is a graduate of Stanford; and of Yale Law School where he was an editor of the Yale Law Journal and also served as president of the Yale Federalist Society chapter. Prior to his election to the Senate in 2018, he held a number of positions, including a stint as an associate professor at the University of Missouri Law School, where he taught constitutional law.

But, please don’t be fooled by his pedigree, boyish good looks or his melodious baritone delivery.

Hawley clearly has a penchant for disloyalty and rebellious activities focused on undermining the workings of the United States government.

And, his recent performance interrogating Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has given new meaning to the phrase “badgering the witness.”

Alvin Bragg:  You now are the District Attorney of Manhattan.

Did someone get to you?  Were there threats against your family?  Was there the promise of a payout that was just too rich to deny? Maybe some of each?

Donald J. Trump has gotten away with crimes in New York for decades. Witnesses, opposing counsel, judges get bought off, threatened or promised business will be sent their way later if they back off, disappear, and/or change their tune.

Donald J. Trump combined his exceptional skills in rhetoric and oratory with his propensity for self-dealing.  His narcissism is well documented.  His penchant for litigation is legendary.

It seems clear that Donald J. Trump deserves nothing less than a complete and thorough investigation of the veracity of his annual financial statements, and a thorough presentation to a grand jury which would provide the public with a complete and transparent look into allegations which have simmered for the past 3 decades, at least.

It’s no secret that — despite Trump’s historic focus on New York City real estate — none of the Money Center Banks have made a loan to Trump or a Trump affiliate for ages.  His creditors are Deutsche Bank and several non-bank syndicates.

Money Center Banks tend to be highly focused on the accuracy of financial statements and the creditworthiness of principals involved in any transaction.  Silence and lack of interest from Money Center Banks toward the Trump Organization should not be interpreted as modesty, indifference or ignorance.

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence which most informed observers would interpret as aggressive intent by the Trump family and the Trump Organization to bamboozle taxing authorities and potential creditors through creative asset valuation techniques.

We – the public – are forced to sit on the sidelines confident that you – an elected District Attorney – will seek justice within the bounds of the law, serving the public interest while acting with integrity and balanced judgment to respect and protect the constitutional and legal rights of all persons, including suspects and defendants.

We believe your recent choice not to pursue charges is unfair to Mr. Trump, the Trump family, and the general public.  A definitive outcome of this case is both needed and required.

Some Thoughts on CPAC 2022

February 28, 2022

Has our education system failed us?

Over the past 3 decades, the U.S. has slowly lost its edge as the world leader in public education.  U.S. student proficiency in science and math – generally thought to be the foundation for independent and critical thinking – is mediocre, at best.

In a recent international comparison of achievement among 15 year old students from 71 countries, U.S. students ranked 36th in math, and 24th in science.

Some of these students — who have already been denied a rigorous education – are most vulnerable to inculcation and indoctrination.

Thus, it should come as no surprise that young adults who lack independent and/or critical thinking skills are likely to become the next generation of CPAC attendees.

Donald Trump is an expert communicator, highly skilled in techniques which are frequently cited by experts in mind control.

Trump focuses on a small number of issues which are emotionally important to a narrow group of people who feel lost or disenfranchised.

His communications are intended to provide understanding, comfort and answers to his audience, thus to gain their trust, despite often vague solutions to the identified problems.  Here are a few actual and verified Trump communiques (in no particular chronological order) which may have helped rally and solidify his audience:

  • “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
  • “I am the only one who can make America truly great again.”
  • “This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps, and our GW scientists are stuck in ice.”
  • “I’m intelligent. Some people would say I’m very, very, very intelligent.”
  • “Sorry losers and haters, but my IQ is one of the highest – and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure; it’s not your fault.”
  • “We need a president with tremendous intelligence, smarts, cunning, strength and stamina.”
  • “Obama and his attack dogs have nothing but hate and anger in their hearts and spew it whenever possible.”
  • “I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”
  • “I’m the least racist person you have ever interviewed.”
  • “I have a great relationship with African Americans, as you possibly have heard. I just have great respect for them. And they like me. I like them.”
  • “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
  • “[John McCain is]… not a war hero. He’s a war hero – he’s a war hero ’cause he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, OK, I hate to tell you.”
  • “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”
  • “Crooked Hillary Clinton is the worst (and biggest) loser of all time. She just can’t stop, which is so good for the Republican Party. Hillary, get on with your life and give it another try in 3 years!”
  • “Russia will have much greater respect for our country when I am leading it than when other people have led it… If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability, because we have a horrible relationship with Russia.”
  • “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.”
  • “We can’t let people down when they can’t get any medical care, when they’re sick and don’t have money to go to a doctor. You help them.”
  • “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides.” [post-Charlottesville, VA; 2017].
  • “Corporations are literally going wild over this, I think even beyond my expectations.” [Tax Cuts and Jobs Act; 2017]
  • “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. It’s going to be just fine.” [Re: Covid-19:  Jan. 2020]
  • “We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election. We will never let them do it. Votes cannot be cast after the Polls are closed!”
  • “So, look, all I want to do, is I want to find 11,780 votes.”
  • “We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
  • “This election was rigged. And the Supreme Court and other courts didn’t want to do anything about it.”
  • “Nobody has done more for Christianity or for evangelicals — or for religion itself — than I have.”
  • “They say, ‘Trump said Putin’s smart.’ I mean, he’s taking over a country for two dollars’ worth of sanctions. I’d say that’s pretty smart. He’s taking over a country — really a vast, vast location, a great piece of land with a lot of people, and just walking right in.”
  • “As grave as the dangers are abroad, it’s the destruction within that spells our doom. Our most dangerous people are people from within. These are people that must hate our country because they make us weak. They indoctrinate your children to hate their parents while calling you a hateful racist. They use big tech to censor you. They use the deep state to spy on you. They use the intelligence agencies to frame you. They use the media to slander you. They use the legal system to persecute you. It is a persecution. They use rigged elections to disenfranchise you and destroy you and ruin your lives.”

Yes, Mr. Trump.  If we follow your lead, we must fear the left-wing fascists and dumb political leaders from within.  Some have said that these dumb political leaders are ‘truly evil people’ who are ‘afraid to do the right thing.’

Meanwhile, others have singled out a contingent of Republican elected officials – including: Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida; Sen. Bill Hagerty of Tennessee; Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana; Gov. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma; Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida; former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas; Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio; Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, and several more.

Concurrent with the CPAC conference, Rep. Greene distinguished herself as a speaker at a white supremacist event — the America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC) – also held in Florida.

Guests at the AFPAC conference openly cheered Russian President Vladimir Putin, and approved comparisons between Putin and Adolf Hitler, while calling the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol “awesome.”

Despite a subsequent statement from the RNC Chairwoman saying “white supremacy, neo-Nazism, hate speech and bigotry are disgusting and do not have a home in the Republican Party,” there was no rebuke of Marjorie Taylor Greene by name.

Yes, Mr. Trump.  There may be some left-wing fascists and dumb political leaders who were elected as Democrats.  If you could take just a moment to identify them and accurately describe their aberrant behavior(s), that would really be great.

Yet, we have irrefutable media evidence of public officials who were elected as Republicans and who have gone out of their way to favor Mr. Putin over our elected president.

Best I know:  This is clear essence of sedition, perhaps emanating a whiff of treason.

Perhaps, Mr. Trump, you will take a few moments to respond to these conclusions drawn from real facts?

Ron DeSantis: ‘We are right, and they are wrong.’

Ron DeSantis is a bully, and he has proved to be an awful Governor.

DeSantis thrives on political theatre, and he specializes in public events which use inflammatory tactics to rally a base of confused, uninformed and/or angry voters.

Since taking office in January 2019, DeSantis has:

  • Signed a sweeping voter suppression bill into law, citing baseless claims of fraud in the 2020 election.
  • Proposed a special police force to oversee state elections — the first of its kind in our nation — intended to protect Florida from nonexistent threats.
  • Opened pop-up COVID-19 vaccine sites in wealthy Florida neighborhoods where his donors live.
  • Let nearly a million COVID-19 tests expire.
  • Appointed a science and medical contrarian (Lodapo) as Florida’s Surgeon General.
  • Occluded Florida COVID-19 data by firing DOH scientist (Jones), then sending armed tactical police to raid her personal residence.
  • Actively promoted the use of monoclonal antibody treatments as an alternative to vaccine.
  • Consistently refutes FDA guidance creating confusion and putting Florida residents at increased risk from COVID.
  • Orchestrated a fundraising tour across America while the Delta variant sickened and killed Floridians.
  • Signed laws restricting abortion access (2020).
  • Supports an oppressive abortion bill (SB 146 and HB 5) like the one in Mississippi.
  • Urged the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.
  • Refused to accept that climate change is an existential threat to our state.
  • Failed to prepare Florida’s coastal communities for rising sea levels and stronger hurricanes.
  • Ignored the “red tide” algae bloom that scares off tourists, risking the engine which supports 1.6 million jobs and contributes over $96.5 Billion to the Florida economy.
  • Actively and aggressively created tension in our public education system resulting in a mass exodus of teachers and staff from Florida schools beginning in spring 2020.
  • In 2021, he targeted eight large school districts for defying his order prohibiting schools from enforcing mask mandates, helping to create toxic conditions for school district superintendents. This led to highly politicized and public confrontations and an unusual exodus of qualified and experienced leadership.

This is Ron DeSantis. He currently is Public Enemy Number One in the State of Florida.

The Dangerous Intersection of Evangelical Christianity with White Supremacy

White supremacy sometimes manifests as colorism, a persistent issue within India, Latin America, Africa and nearly every community of color. When a mother tells her children not to play out in the sun because their skin will get too dark, she is reinforcing the myth of white supremacy by encouraging proximity to whiteness via lighter skin.

The most dangerous combination seems to occur at the intersection of Fundamental (Evangelical) Christianity and White Supremacism – the belief that Caucasians are superior to all other races.

Fundamental/Evangelical Christianity states that ‘only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation’.

White Supremacists adhere to the aberrant beliefs that (a) Whites must have dominance over people of other backgrounds, especially where they may co-exist; and (b) White people are genetically superior to other people.

In a 2019 nationwide survey, 86% of white evangelical Protestants and 70% of both white mainline Protestants and white Catholics said that the “Confederate flag is more a symbol of Southern pride than of racism”; nearly two-thirds of white Christians overall said that killings of African-American men by the police are isolated incidents rather than part of a broader pattern of mistreatment; and more than 60% of white Christians disagreed with the statement that “generations of slavery and discrimination have created conditions that make it difficult for blacks to work their way out of the lower class.”

The Southern Baptist Convention itself was organized prior to the Civil War in Georgia by Southern Baptists who were strongly opposed to the abolition of slavery. It delivered the invocation when Jefferson Davis was inaugurated as President of the Confederacy.

Today, the Southern Baptist Convention has a membership of over 16 Million, and is thought to be the second-largest Christian denomination in the U.S.

When I came of age in the late 1960’s in Buffalo, NY – a true northeast rustbelt city – we really didn’t have time for any of this nonsense, and I naively believed that our nation had progressed beyond the foolish notions of the Confederacy.

Four decades later, Donald Trump and his loyal following of ultra-conservative Evangelical Christian voters truly surprised and shocked me, and many others.

Robert Jones, a graduate of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, may have said it best when he stated that Trump inspired White Christians, “not despite, but through appeals to white supremacy,” attracting them not because of economics or morality, “but rather that he evoked powerful fears about the loss of White Christian dominance.”

You can deny if you like, but denial doesn’t change reality.

This is the year 2022, and there is no turning back.

We are competing in a 21st Century World Economy, and it is high time for those of us who don’t have time for all of this foolish nonsense to call the bluff of the revisionist Confederate Civil War re-enactors.

Here in the U.S., we need to move on; come together; find common ground; join hands; and work side by side to strengthen our technology and innovation capabilities and return to a leadership role by influencing international economic, scientific, trade, and security institutions.

Alternatively, we could continue to allow petty and insignificant micro-inequities to distract and divide us domestically, which will encourage other nations to move aggressively to assert leadership and shape the direction of global rules and institutions.

The Florida bill which would severely impact the ability of women to make personal choices about their own reproductive health (known as HB5) passed its first House committee hearing on January 19, 2022, and it is now heading to new committees for further discussion.  (The companion bill in the Florida Senate is SB-146).  Among other things, the bill will place severe restrictions on women’s access to abortions in Florida.

Florida Representative Fentrice Driskell (D-Tampa) perhaps said it best, “This bill is terrible for all Floridians, particularly for those who are low-income, live in rural areas, or are people of color who have historically faced inequitable access to quality healthcare, or low-income people who cannot afford to travel out of state for a safe abortion. It is not the government’s place to interfere with one of the toughest decisions a person will ever make. That private decision is one of faith, healthcare, personal freedom, and protecting the emotional and physical future of women and their families. Tallahassee politicians should not be involved.”

Kudos to Rep. Driskell for speaking out clearly and eloquently on basic human rights.

HB 5 will be presented in the Florida House ‘Professions & Public Health Subcommittee’ on January 19, 2022.

This proposed bill has a very clever title.

The real purpose of the bill is to codify into Florida law, “A physician may not perform a termination of pregnancy if the physician determines the gestational age of the fetus is more than 15 weeks.”

HB 5 is a direct affront on the rights of all women to make personal decisions relative to their own lives.

Whenever arbitrary restrictions are imposed on open access to comprehensive reproductive health care services, the actual outcomes have disproportionate adverse economic impact — and direct deprivation of human rights — on young women; low-income women; and women of color.

These are socially and economically disadvantaged women, almost always members of a protected class.

The great majority of published public opinions opposing open and unrestricted access to comprehensive reproductive health care over the past 4 decades – including both contraception and abortion – center on personal ethical, moral or religious values.

Nationally, the loudest voices opposing open access to comprehensive reproductive health care services come from a small minority of predominantly college educated white evangelical Christians.

When people bring their personal religious beliefs or values into any public debate, they risk imposing illegal, unwanted or restrictive religious practices and beliefs on others who have been granted the Constitutional right to pursue their own – perhaps significantly different – beliefs.

I am aware of no rational person who considers abortion to be a primary means of family planning or birth control. Abortion is a last resort, a means to be employed only when all other options have failed.

I’m hopeful that you will reach a conclusion similar to mine on this Bill:  Florida’s government should focus on supporting our residents and improving health care, not taking away their rights, especially rights that can materially impact their health, livelihoods, and futures.

I encourage you to join me in asking members of the Florida Legislature to carefully and objectively examine the broad implications of HB 5 prior to taking a position on the Bill.

Ron is a native Floridian who worked his way through Yale University, where he was captain of the varsity baseball team, and he graduated with honors. He then graduated with honors from Harvard Law School, where he earned a commission in the U.S. Navy as a JAG officer. During his active-duty service, he was deployed to Iraq in support of various SEAL missions.

In simple words, his pedigree sounds impeccable.

Since his election to the office of Florida governor, Ron DeSantis has consistently engaged in political theatre by evoking confusion; separation; and division of the people of good will who call Florida home, apparently seeking immediate and durable personal political gratification.

Instead of taking a strategic leadership position to engage and protect the people of Florida based on factual scientific knowledge, he has issued a number of Executive Orders which are arbitrary, capricious and serve to support his personal campaign of rancid rhetoric and dangerous disinformation.

DeSantis married his wife Casey in 2010, and they are the parents of 3 young people: 2 daughters and one son, all under 7 years of age.

His Executive Order 2021-175 (which bars Florida school districts from instituting mask mandates in public schools) was an egregious example of misguided government overreach which may well prove to be a death warrant for many economically disadvantaged Florida students.  Can you imagine how or why a father of 3 young children would reject protecting youngsters from potential airborne transmission of a lethal virus?

Now, in his “State of the State” address delivered on January 11, 2022, Gov. DeSantis had a simple message on COVID-19 to Floridians:  “We were right,” he said, “and they were wrong”.

‘Florida was right to reopen the state early’, DeSantis said. ‘The federal government’s restrictions are wrong. Ideas such as critical race theory must be stamped out, and both China and the U.S. border with Mexico remain as serious threats to America’.

According to DeSantis, “Florida has become the escape hatch for those chafing under authoritarian, arbitrary and seemingly never-ending mandates and restrictions.”

I reject his irresponsible behaviors, divisive rhetoric and his constant efforts to actively quash any debate on subjects where he has taken a stand.

I am proud to join millions of other Floridians who actively oppose his future political intentions and any and all attempts of Ron DeSantis to run for public office again.

During my college years, I was introduced to the writings of Franz Kafka; that may help explain my rather bizarre sense of humor.

Day by day, week by week: The behaviors of many of these elected officials devolves toward the bottom, the base, the nadir.

A few weeks ago, I shared some thoughts about our current President and his economic credentials.

Donald John Trump was one of 366 student members of the class of 1968 who was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce at the University of Pennsylvania.

Other than his bachelor’s degree and some experience working in the family real estate business, there is no evidence that Mr. Trump has pursued additional education, credentials or capabilities in the field of economics.

Trump’s paucity of bona fides in the world of economic theory and practice has not deterred him from taking an active role in testing new economic theories and concepts.

Below, I introduce a new chapter in my observations on Donald Trump’s economic strategy:
…………………….…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

July 31, 2019 (Wednesday):  Federal Reserve Chairman Powell reluctantly announced a 25bp cut in the federal funds rate, the first rate cut in over a decade (December 2008).  In his announcement, Chairman Powell cited, “implications of global developments for the economic outlook as well as muted inflation pressures”.  The Fed also referenced an apparent global economic slowdown; uncertainty around U.S.-China trade negotiations; and ‘stubbornly low inflation’.

August 1, 2019 (Thursday):  Donald Trump announced (in a series of tweets) that the U.S. would impose a new 10 percent tariff on certain goods from China beginning on September 1, 2019, following the news that trade talks with the China have failed to make sufficient progress.

These new tariffs will apply to the $300 Billion of Chinese goods which had not before faced a tariff. Another $250 Billion of Chinese goods will continue to be tariffed at a 25 percent rate.

This abrupt and unusual move roiled the equity markets, creating a major sell-off.

Since late 2018, the U.S. economy has been showing signs of slowing — bond markets are flaccid; GDP has slowed; new home sales are generally flat; and business investment is anemic, at best.

Virtually every main-stream economist agrees that Trump’s trade war is contributing to the domestic economic malaise, although it’s too early to determine by how much, and if the damage is permanent.

The Fed rate cut on Wednesday was accompanied by a caveat that one purpose was to help create a barrier to prevent Trump’s trade wars from toppling our domestic economy.

Thursday’s surprise announcement by Trump reveals a new, arbitrary, capricious and  unilateral decision by the White House which will result in higher taxes to Americans on imports; and further expand uncertainty for businesses which need significant time to manage their supply chains.

The agricultural sector in the U.S. – farms and ancillary industries, suppliers, manufacturers, etc – are already fighting the unexpected impacts of climate and weather on production.  Then, they were handed a potential death sentence by a White House which is guided not by strategy and planning, but by impetuous and arbitrary policy changes driven by Trump’s narcissistic compulsions.

If Trump’s Trade War battle plans were conceived within a coordinated environment (i.e. in concert with the Fed and the Congress) perhaps we would be able to see a pathway toward successful outcomes.

Trump is consistent in his bravado that he – and he alone – has the vision, wisdom and solutions to create equilibrium in the trade accounts between the U.S. and China.

According to a BBC analysis from May 2019, “Trump’s decision to take on China could lead to adverse effects for consumers in the US and in China, but also worldwide. An economic showdown between the world’s biggest economies doesn’t look good for anyone.”

Article I of the US Constitution vests the power to set tariffs in Congress, thus Congress has the power to stop this President from continuing his arbitrary and impetuous trade war.  The question remains:  Will elected officials in Congress wake up, do their job and use that power, or will they continue to abdicate legislative responsibilities to this President?