Select Page
Aileen! This Was a Slam Dunk!

Aileen! This Was a Slam Dunk!

Summary: Why a Loose Cannon Should Be Removed

It’s not like Judge Cannon is getting paid by the hour or anything. Trump’s attorneys are, however, which would justify making all these insane, frivolous motions. Judge Cannon, I am not an attorney, but I can read, have a higher-than-average IQ, and know if a duck looks, smells, and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. Let’s look at the right-wing talking points one at a time, or you can see an overview of the timeline of the efforts the United States government made to retrieve these documents here.

Hundreds Of Classified Documents Belonging to the US Government are “Stolen Property”

The Presidential Records Act (PRA) of 1978 establishes that Presidential records automatically transfer into the legal custody of the Archivist as soon as the President leaves office. 

“The term ‘classified information of the United States’ means information originated, owned, or possessed by the United States Government concerning the national defense or foreign relations of the United States that has been determined pursuant to law or Executive order to require protection against unauthorized disclosure in the interests of national security.”

If you want to see what the FBI found, you can find the entire inventory here.

Think of It as Possession of Stolen Property and Let That Sink In

Now, because the United States government owns these documents, the former President essentially stole them. Even in Florida, that’s still a crime.

We’ve Established It Was Stolen, and It’s Classified. Now What?

Even if it wasn’t stolen (but it was), it wasn’t stored or safeguarded properly. The purpose of a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) is to establish policies for accessing, safeguarding, and storing classified information and material. From the many descriptions we have seen, read, or heard about where the classified information was retrieved at Mar-a-Lago, none of them was a SCIF. Unless you count a golden outhouse as a SCIF.

Obstruction of Justice

If Trump really believed the classified docs were his, as he has said, why did he order Walt Nauta to move them just before the Department of Justice came to look for them? And why did he throw his former attorney, Evan Corcoran, under the bus, falsely telling him it was all right to sign a document certifying that there were no more classified documents in Trump’s possession?

“Federal prosecutors have claimed that lawyers for Trump certified in June 2022 that a ‘diligent search’ of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate turned up just 38 classified documents stored in a secured storage room. But two months later, when FBI agents raided the premises, they found more than 100 additional documents marked classified — some of which were located outside of the storage room, including in Trump’s office desk, prosecutors said.”

It Wasn’t a Raid; The FBI Was Executing a Search Warrant.

They didn’t block all the exits and charge in with guns blazing, shouting, “Everybody down! Nobody moves, and you won’t get hurt!”

The FBI got a search warrant from a Florida Justice after showing probable cause. After confirming that Trump was in New Jersey, they coordinated with the Secret Service at Mar-a-Lago and wore no clothing that would identify them as the FBI to avoid embarrassing the former President. Really? Embarrass Donald Trump?

It Was NOT a Plot to Assassinate Trump

“The FBI followed standard protocol in this search as we do for all search warrants, which includes a standard policy statement limiting the use of deadly force,” said the FBI. Again, confirming that Trump was in New Jersey at the time, they proceeded.

When asked at a press conference to comment about the FBI statement, Speaker Mike Johnson stared blankly for a few seconds, then turned and walked away muttering something that sounded like, “Damned stupid piece of sh*t.” according to those closest to him.

The Constitutionality of a Special Counsel

Really? Really! Are you holding hearings for arguments on this issue? While you are the Judge here, it took me less than 15 minutes on Google to find the answer to the question the Trump MAGAts are posing here.

Grounds for appointing a Special Counsel.

“The Attorney General, or in cases in which the Attorney General is recused, the Acting Attorney General, will appoint a Special Counsel when he or she determines that criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted and—

(a) That investigation or prosecution of that person or matter by a United States Attorney’s Office or litigating Division of the Department of Justice would present a conflict of interest for the Department or other extraordinary circumstances; and

(b) That under the circumstances, it would be in the public interest to appoint an outside Special Counsel to assume responsibility for the matter.”

No Gag Order Against the Biggest Liar on the Planet?

Even Ty Cobb, Trump’s former lawyer, points out the fallacy of Cannon’s reasoning as shown in Court filings.

The judge said Smith’s team failed to meaningfully reach out to Trump’s attorneys on the gag order request.

Cobb pushed back against Cannon’s reasoning and accused the federal judge of bias.

‘Conferring doesn’t require, you know, doing it in a proper form or in a way that meets whatever her standard is,’ he said. ‘It requires talking to the other side, and they did and they mentioned it in the papers that they had conferred and Trump’s team didn’t agree.’”

Both Judge Merchan and Judge Engoron found it necessary to gag the “Mouth that Roared.”  Could the real reason Judge Cannon doesn’t feel that need is because Trump hasn’t attacked her? And why would he? She is clearly his favorite.

For all the reasons above, Aileen “The Loose” Cannon must be removed, not only from this case, but from the Bench.

Loose Cannon

Image via Flickr by edwin.bautista

Is It Anti-Semitic to Protest the Slaughter of Thousands of Innocent Palestinians and Jews?

Is It Anti-Semitic to Protest the Slaughter of Thousands of Innocent Palestinians and Jews?

Let’s face it: war is hell and has a lot of collateral damage. In the case of the Israel-Hamas war, collateral damage is a vast understatement. No one disputes the right, indeed necessity, for Israel to defend itself. But after losing roughly 1,200 civilians on Day One to terrorists, the act of “righteous retribution,” or revenge, on twelve times the number of Palestinian innocents does nothing to meet Israel’s stated goal of eliminating Hamas. Israel is spawning another generation of terrorists willing to martyr themselves for the land they swear was stolen from them.

What we in the West are rarely told is that the Palestinians have a valid claim. Until 1947, when the United Nations declared the area previously known as Palestine to be partitioned into a Jewish state, an Arab state, and Jerusalem to be the divided city it is today, the entire region had been mostly Muslim. At the end of WW I, Britain took control of Palestine, a time known as the British Mandate, decreed by the League of Nations, and adopted a policy “in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

The 1922 census showed the area was 89% Arab and 11% Jewish. Due to lax British immigration policies, the Jewish population had risen to 31% by the end of the British Mandate in November of 1947, but hardly a majority.

One must view all this in the context of the times for a clear understanding of how this came to be. Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice in the late sixteenth century reflected the attitudes of the times toward Jews as scheming, money-grubbing vermin. Pogroms in Greater Russia and the world were commonplace. The world was aghast at the horror of the holocaust and the genocide of six million Jews led by Germany in Poland, Austria, and the other captured territories. Images of filthy, skeletal, dead, or dying piles of bodies in freed concentration camps led to a pang of collective guilt in the world after WW II. Something had to be done to atone.

What Had To Be Done Was Already At Hand. 

Throughout history, the Jews had been dispersed throughout the world — the Jewish diaspora — so this Holocaust guilt led the United Nations to decide to give them a home of their own, and what better place to do this than their ancient homeland? What? People are living there now? Oh, well, they won’t mind sharing.

They did mind.

Sharing is one thing; being forcibly removed is quite another.

Brutality ensued on both sides of the path to statehood. Jews immigrated relentlessly in an effort to become a majority in the Holy Land, while injustice and religious fervor merely became a means to an end. The stakes were enormous. The larger the influx of Jews seeking a homeland, the more desperate the defense of their own homeland became for the Arabs/Palestinians. And desperate times call for desperate measures.

The British Mandate expired on the 14th of May in 1948, and Israel declared its independence and statehood at that moment. The next day, it was attacked by its Arab neighbors and thus started the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

The Arabs were out-funded, outgunned, and as the losers in any war, eventually became second and third-class citizens in their old homeland. External forces had determined their futures for them, and it only got worse in successive wars, summarized here.

The Middle East is what it has almost always been, one people trying to reclaim, by decree, what was lost centuries before and another people trying to hold on to the lands their ancestors have lived on for centuries.

In the West, we tend to think that Israel is the underdog in these conflicts because they are surrounded by large Arab countries, and that is what we have always been told.

Fast forward to 2021. Israel is an apartheid state, according to Human Rights Watch

“Across these areas (Occupied Palestinian Territory) and in most aspects of life, Israeli authorities methodically privilege Jewish Israelis and discriminate against Palestinians. Laws, policies, and statements by leading Israeli officials make plain that the objective of maintaining Jewish Israeli control over demographics, political power, and land has long guided government policy. In pursuit of this goal, authorities have dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated, and subjugated Palestinians by virtue of their identity to varying degrees of intensity. In certain areas, as described in this report, these deprivations are so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”

and Amnesty International

“The events of May 2021 were emblematic of the oppression which Palestinians have faced every day, for decades. The discrimination, the dispossession, the repression of dissent, the killings and injuries – all are part of a system which is designed to privilege Jewish Israelis at the expense of Palestinians.”

Watch and read the two articles at the links in the paragraphs above, and I will leave the judgment up to you before discussing the events of October 7, 2023, and the catastrophic barbarism of Hamas.

Hamas Is Not A Representative Governing Body.

They. Are. Terrorists.

“Fatah is the party that controls the PA [Palestinian Authority], which was created in 1994 to be the government of the West Bank and Gaza. However, when Hamas seized power in 2007, it violently ejected Fatah and the PA from Gaza.”

So, while a terrorist organization also runs the civil services of the Gaza Strip, in 2007, it chose to seize power forcefully even after winning the 2006 Palestinian elections. A leopard cannot change its spots.

If all Americans were to be judged by the actions of the party in power at a particular time, could we not all be considered racist at various points in time? Asking for a friend.

Like the Nazis in WW II Germany and the Communists in the Soviet Union, it would be wishful thinking to assume a successful life in Gaza could be possible without being a token member of Hamas. Unfortunately, it is also easy to imagine that Israel’s harsh treatment of 2.2 million Palestinians in Gaza creates popular support for Hamas rather than allowing us to mindfully separate the actions of the terrorists from the everyday Palestinians.

If you’re interested in a fascinating discussion that took place about a week after the October 7th attack, check out Real Time with Bill Maher from October 13, 2023. One of his guests, James Kirchick, made the comment that, “If the Arabs put down their weapons, there would be peace. If the Jews put down their weapons, there’d be no more Jews in the Middle East.” How, unfortunately, true.

Terrorism is an age-old strategy that has long been successful against superior forces. It is also reviled because of its annihilation of so many defenseless innocents. Who can look at the body cam footage of the October 7th attack and not feel absolute rage? But that rage should be focused on Hamas, not innocent Palestinians.

Since I was born a WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) in the United States, I will never know the dread of “driving while black” in this country. I will never hear the nagging whispers behind my back about my parentage, my intelligence, or my heritage, whether I be Palestinian, Jewish, Hispanic, or any other nationality. But this war and its origins are a real eye-opener regarding the extent of racism we still have in this country and the world.

Note: Privately, I have had a long-standing revulsion to hijacking and hostage-taking and would just as soon see hostage-takers killed in the act rather than saved for trial. Slam dunk, open and shut case. But that’s just me.

Looking at the number of innocent dead Palestinians — especially women and children — in Gaza and the massive destruction of property, one has to ask, is this any kind of justice? The scale of the Israeli attacks boggles the mind, no matter what we saw on October 7th.

People of Palestinian or Jewish heritage are becoming extremely sensitive to comments about “their” side. Any criticism of Israel or sympathy for the Palestinian predicament automatically makes you Anti-Semitic in the minds of some. This just reeks of the offensive attitude, “My country, right or wrong.”

Which is crueler: Hamas using Palestinians as human shields or Israel calling their bluff and bombing anyway?

Several things have become clear in what initially appeared to be a suicide mission by Hamas. They are still out-funded and outgunned, and neither Hezbollah nor other Arab states have come to their aid as probably hoped for.

Israel continues to create new generations of terrorists, both in this bombing campaign and its apartheid approach to the Occupied Palestinian Territories. They are also losing the moral high ground in world opinion in the effort to destroy Hamas.

Can this ever be resolved? Rational minds must prevail, and so far, I haven’t seen any.

If Ron DeSantis Has His Way, My Granddaughters Won’t Be Educated Enough to Get Into College

If Ron DeSantis Has His Way, My Granddaughters Won’t Be Educated Enough to Get Into College

Is reading such a bad thing that we
actually have to ban books?

Education is taking a big hit in Ron DeSantis’ Florida. In January of this year, the Governor appointed six new people to the board of trustees of New College of Florida to free the students and faculty from an ideological “hostage situation.” Heavens to Betsy, let us not burden the kiddies with thoughts they can’t handle or make them think at all!

When I was in the fifth grade, while everyone was dreading moving on to Mrs. P’s class because it was well-known that we had to write 50 book reports a year for her, I was excited. On average, I read about a book every day anyhow and relished the challenge ahead. I read books about Buffalo Bill, Wild Bill Hickock, and Calamity Jane. Then pressed on to books like Animal Farm, 1984, Peter Pan,  Hawaii, Moby Dick, the Sherlock Holmes series, and the entire Burroughs Tarzan series. I think I wear glasses today because of all those nights reading by flashlight under the covers when I was supposed to be sleeping. If you don’t think someone would find something to ban in those books today, you’re not paying attention. Think about: fairies, child molesters with hooks for hands, bare-breasted native women, drug addiction, and blatant racism.

A small public liberal arts college, New College of Florida ranks as the #5 Public liberal arts college in the nation. I’m afraid all that will end with DeSantis and Company. In about ten years, when my oldest Floridian granddaughter starts looking for a college to attend, I don’t think there will even be a public college in Florida worth attending.

Under the guise of Parent’s Rights, our Florida legislature is considering a bill that would ban any book in schools statewide if even only one parent objects to the book.

Unfortunately, the point at which the government tells us what we can read and bans that which we cannot read is only the beginning. The Nazis burned books in Germany in 1933, and the signs are in place that this cycle of intolerance is starting again.

DeSantis won his last election by more than 20 points and has a rubber-stamp legislature, so who can blame him for his blatant rule-by-fiat approach to governance? The “Stop W.O.K.E” Act was passed last year. It prohibits teaching or having classroom discussions where “he or she (a student) must feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress for actions, in which he or she played no part, committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.”

During his second inaugural address this past January, he decried wokeness this way: “We will never surrender to the woke mob. Florida is where Woke goes to die.”

So, what exactly does “woke”  mean? At a recent dinner, my daughter-in-law asked me that very question, and I tentatively replied, “Enlightened?”

As it happens, it was originally used as a call to action for Black people dating back to the early 20th century. Today, it’s accepted as a compliment by the left but used as an insult by the right. A USA TODAY/Ipsos Poll recently found that fifty-six percent of the people asked defined woke as “being informed, educated on, and aware of social injustices.”

How do we counter social injustice, bullying, and disinformation?

We do it with knowledge and a worldview that is based on curiosity rewarded. Imagine the thrill of a little high-five after being excitedly told something (s)he learned in school today. Or being read to and watching the progression of words getting more difficult, yet mastered, week after week. With a lifetime of knowledge gained by reading, watching integrated classrooms, and knowing that racism is taught, not inherent, wondering if these kids will become suspicious of each other because the sins of the past are being swept under the rug.

Reading gave me knowledge and perspective and stirred my curiosity. Curiosity forces us to question the knowledge we have been given. If it doesn’t seem reasonable, continue reading, questioning, and searching until the truth is found.

Interestingly, the “truth” can, and has, changed if critical thinking is fostered and nurtured. Yesterday’s truth is only as good as the informed minds that found it. More informed minds refine the truth.

Can you imagine where the world would be if people simply accepted the “facts” that were given to them? Would we know the truths about the past? Would the great thinkers of yesterday be able to
build on the ideas of past generations to create new and improved medicines or machines?

Please. Ignore the politicians who would keep you rooted in the past. They are afraid you won’t vote for them if you know the truth because they. only. want. power. The more you know, the more you see they don’t work for your best interests.

Read. Anything and everything. Then vote them out so your kids and my granddaughters can get a decent education in Florida.

A Republic, If We Can Keep It

A Republic, If We Can Keep It

What’s the difference between a patriot and an insurrectionist? Until a couple of weeks ago, the answer was clear and straightforward for most of us. A patriot loves his or her country and will do anything to defend it. An insurrectionist has grievances against the government and will do anything to destroy it.

I imagine the Minutemen of colonial Boston saw themselves as patriots, while George III saw them as insurrectionists.

Like so many things in life, perspective is the key to your viewpoint. As one ages, your mindset can change based on the ability to see a larger picture and your relationship to it. Seeing things through youthful eyes can lead to rebellious attitudes, a lack of patience, and the demand for immediate change. 

Mellowing eyes have seen the pendulum’s movement and the need to take others’ rights into account. Aren’t we, the people, basically a complex life-form with the power to either improve or destroy our planet, which is only a speck of dust in an infinitesimally large universe? Will our inability to compromise lead us to be trapped like the monkey who won’t let go of the fruit in the jar, when simply unclenching his fist allows him to remove his hand and once more enjoy freedom? 

The Southern Poverty Law Center finds that:

“Generally, antigovernment groups define themselves as opposed to the ‘New World Order,’ engage in groundless conspiracy theorizing, or advocate or adhere to extreme antigovernment doctrines.”

On January 6th, 2021, the perspectives of many who considered themselves patriots, merged with and emerged as, insurrectionists who bought into the great lie that their country was being stolen from them.

The difference? To paraphrase Ben Franklin, in our republic, we have the means to change our government peacefully — if we can keep it.

The Real Problem with America

The Real Problem with America

The Real Problem with America

Yeah, I know, you may have a different answer or answers, but to me, if we can fix this one, we’ll have brighter, more informed minds electing brighter, more dedicated public servants to truly represent them to solve the other issues.

I went to college with one goal in mind: to learn how to think. One can always look up facts and information. The goal is to learn how to process that information, to reason, how to find the right facts. With the ability to think, one can always deduce certain other bits of information. The thinking process gives us the ability to discern more information from what we already know and the tools to eliminate the wheat from the chaff. That’s what education should be doing.

Curiosity and education helped us to refine the fields of science and engineering to eliminate that which didn’t make sense and gave us more and better tools, which we use to further our body of knowledge.

Unless We Stimulate Our Minds and Encourage That Curiosity To Learn More,
We Are Doomed To The Status Quo

Imagine, if you will, the youth of the world will be told that their schooling will end after the 8th grade. Of course, some will be happy, but millions upon millions, seeing the accomplishments and failures of the previous generations, could find themselves lost and despairing. Curiosity, combined with the ability to reason (think), has made the world what it is today, for good or ill. And education is the institutionalized means to foster those traits. If we were not gifted with the heights of brilliance that so few of our species have attained, we can still learn to contribute and make this world a better place.

With all of that in mind, I’m going to confirm here something I’ve been observing for many years. The pattern I’ve seen across so much of our country is that Republican legislators, under the guise of fiscal responsibility (austerity), have sought to undermine our schools. They know that uninformed voters will buy into their sound bites without bothering to question their veracity. The easiest way to get elected is to lie to low-information voters. They will either not bother or be unable to discern fact from fiction.

All this research below is based on globally available information, so please prove it for yourself. The premise is basically this:

How Effective Is The Educational System in Red States
(Mostly Republican Voters)?

In each of the five following charts, our sample is for 60% of the states ranked lowest in the country. Of the 50 states, I’m going to look at the bottom-ranked 30. Note that these studies are not saying that people are stupid. They are showing where the state education system failed them.

The first one we will look at is College Readiness. (Click the links to see the data.) These statistics were published by the two testing organizations that colleges rely upon to determine student admissions, ACT, and SAT scores for 2017. So, for our sample, 80% of those students were unprepared for college, and they all came from Red (Republican) States. This begs the question either: what the hell were they doing for 12 years, or what minimal subjects were they being prepared for proficiency?

Next, the measurement is for High School Graduation. This means how many of the students who started in ninth grade graduated from high school? This one is a little bit better because, in our sample, 70% of the students from Red states did graduate from high school. Are we sure that’s a good thing if 70% graduated high school but they weren’t prepared for college?

The next two studies come from what the US Department of Education calls “The Nation’s Scorecard”. In Math and Reading, 77% of the lowest scores in our sample come from the Red States.

Finally, the statistics rank Spending per Pupil for each state. Again, 77% of the lowest scores in our sample come from the Red States. Surprise, surprise. What would you expect after looking at the other rankings?

And Yet, Most of These People Insist, Many Times with Rabid Ferocity,
That They Are Well-Informed

because all they listen to is the likes of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Breitbart.com, Alex Jones at InfoWars.com, and any other conspiracy theory that comes down the pike. This is undoubtedly due to the Dunning-Kruger effect. In short, the Dunning-Kruger effect is defined thusly in Wikipedia:

In the field of psychology, the Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias wherein people of low ability suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their cognitive ability as greater than it is. The cognitive bias of illusory superiority derives from the metacognitive inability of low-ability persons to recognize their own ineptitude; without the self-awareness of metacognition, low-ability people cannot objectively evaluate their actual competence or incompetence.

By the way, something else I’ve said for many years is the following:

How Do You Convince Someone To Vote Republican?
Promise To Lower Their Taxes Because That’s All They Really Care About

Think about that one for a while. Democrats are smeared with the “tax and spend” reputation by Republicans who cut taxes. Then, when Democrats regain power, they end up raising taxes to pay for everything the Republicans couldn’t pay for. It’s a vicious cycle.

So, here’s a thought. Why don’t we vote for governing representatives and leaders who value education and visions of the future that will enable the students of today to solve the problems of tomorrow? Especially since we created them.

I rest my case.