Trump’s Russia Problem

President Trump has been touring the country holding more of his campaign-style rallies, essential fuel for his all too delicate ego. I have zero time to sit down and watch him spout half truths at the mouth, what with a full time job and a toddler to nurture. But there’s this one issue – Trump’s Russia problem – that I just can’t let him get away with lying about.

Trump keeps saying that the whole Russia issue is just more of Democrats’ attempts steal the election – another of Trump’s false narratives. Trump and his son continue to hold fast to their claim that Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. only met with Putin and other agents of Russia to discuss Russian adoption.

Democrats, republicans and independents are all concerned about Russian attempts to interfere with the democratic process in the United Started and around the world. Their concern is justified. Russia does not have fair elections. Politicians, business men and others who oppose Vladimir Putin’s leadership have ended up in jail or worse. And Putin forced a change to the Russian constitution to allow himself to be re-elected again and again, ad infinitum. So no election in Russia is fair. I’d argue they have never had a fair, open election like we see in the West. And Putin is actively trying to expand his power over neighboring countries.

Concern about Russian interference in elections is a very serious issue. Because of his corrupt political dealing, Putin is the richest man in the world. He and his oligarch cronies steal money from the Russian people and launder it into Western banks to hide their corruption. That’s where Russian adoption comes in play.

Russian adoption is just a ghost term for Russian sanctions. In retaliation for the Magnitsky Act sanctions passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in 2012, Russia abruptly ceased all adoptions to applicants from the United States. The sanctions passed included a provision that would allow the government to freeze the assets of foreign agents suspected of serious crimes, including Putin himself. This scares Putin because he is a murderer who hides most of his money in the West. Additionally, there is now a global movement to approve the same sanction measures internationally, which would mean disaster for Putin, his wealth and his power. Putin has been raging against this reform ever since it was passed.

So collusion with Russia during the Trump election campaign is a very serious matter. A president beholden to Putin makes America weak and Putin strong. Yes, I said Putin, not Russia. If the allegations are true, Trump will have helped a dictator increase his power.

How could Putin have helped Trump get elected? (Not that he needed it.) Help Trump’s campaign by hacking the Democratic National Committee and releasing damaging emails. Help the Trump campaign by paying agents to create false news of terrible acts by Hilary Clinton. There could be many other aids Putin’s network conveyed.

And in exchange for what? You know the rules of the game: you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. I’ll help tip the balance in your favour if you will discuss lifting the sanctions that have my assets frozen.

Erm….. Russian adoption, that is…

Donald Trump is an Old, White, Racist

I cannot stay quiet anymore.

Donald Trump can claim to the hills how he is not a racist. But I know he is. His attempts to garner favor from Black voters have not fallen on deaf ears. I have been listening, and I do not like what I am hearing.

Those are my aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, mother and father he is talking about when he says Black communities are in the worst shape they’ve ever been in, “ever, ever, ever.” Just. No.

And his solution? Drum roll…………..more STOP AND FRISK!

Stop and frisk (Terry stops) in every Black community in America. Donald Trump thinks emphasizing Terry stops in the Black community will reduce violence. The same stop and frisk that, contrary to Trump’s claims on how well it worked, did not yield any attributable reduction in violent deaths in New York City. The same stop and frisk that was declared an unconstitutional, illegal infringement on the rights of the minorities targeted under the policy.

No matter! Donald trump knows better than the generals! The Donald knows better than the NYPD and the U.S. federal court of appeals and the Fourteenth Amendment.

Maybe that’ll be Trump’s next real estate investment – a for-profit prison to hold all the big, “bad dudes” he locks up thanks to stop and frisk.

Because it has become obvious Donald Trump knows better than Black people what is good for Black people – the view inside a jail cell.

PA Legislature Introduces Abortion Ban

A bill  was introduced today in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives that would effectively ban second trimester abortions.  House Bill 1948, introduced by Representative Kathy Rapp and Rep. Bryan Barbin, Rep. Bryan Cutler was introduced late to the House Health Committee Friday and this morning was fast track to the full assembly without a public hearing.

The cosponsors of HB1948 claim the bill is intended to prevent fetal pain and reduce complications of an abortion. But in this Trojan horse bill hides an agenda to ban ALL second trimester abortions.

HB1948 contains language that would rename the most common and safest 2nd trimester abortion procedure (dilation and evacuation, or D&E) as a “dismemberment” abortion and then would ban it’s implementation. Doing this would effectively ban all 2nd trimester abortions in Pennsylvania as they are currently performed.  This part of HB1948 would limit doctors’ choices concerning first trimester procedures as well, since a D&E is not uncommon choice in the first trimester. Banning the safest available type of abortion procedure would NOT protect women from complications of abortion. On the contrary, HB1948 would increase the chance of complications after ending a pregnancy.
In addition, although the bill’s sponsors claim a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks there is inadequate scientific evidence to conclude fetal brain development is sufficient to feel pain at that stage of development. The authors may cite Dr.Kanwaljeet Anand to support their claims. However, Dr. Anand’s findings have not been corroborated by any independent research; and remain an outlier in this area of study. In fact, a preponderance of the scientific evidence leads one to exactly the opposite conclusion. The majority of the scientific research on the subject of fetal brain development has found the neural pathways required to experience pain are not formed until at least 24 weeks gestation and more likely later.
Whether a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks should be a moot point in the debate over second trimester abortion. For most women seeking an abortion after 20 weeks – that’s only 1.4 percent of all abortions performed – the abortion is needed because something has gone very wrong with the pregnancy (i.e. – it is not an elective abortion).
It is clear the cosponsors’ characterization of HB1948’s purpose is insincere at best. And rather than giving the people of Pennsylvania a thoughtful review of HB1948 and it’s very real and detrimental consequences, the Health Committee passed it to the general assembly floor for a vote without even 24-hours of consideration. This is just another attempt to slowly chip away at the right to terminate a pregnancy until that right completely disappears.
It’s time to call your state legislator and make your voice heard on House bill 1948. To contact your PA House Representative click here.

**Edited to note the D&E ban would affect first trimester procedures as well.

Punish Women for Having an Abortion? GOP says YES!

Donald Trump has spent the better part of the last week playing mopping boy to all his gaffes. But there is one thing Donald said this week that – bob and weave as he may – he will not be able to dodge. In an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews this week, Donald Trump admitted he supports punishing women who have an abortion.

The Donald has spent the better part of the week trying to back away from his words. He’s claimed the interview was edited. He’s claimed he “misspoke.” And he keeps trying to offer an alternative to his genuine belief that women should be punished for seeking reproductive care by offering that the doctors who provide that care should be punished in lieu of the woman who decided to obtain it – as if we women are unthinking, naive victims of these money grubbing health care providers.

But I’m not buying it, and neither should you.

The GOP platform is clear about their stance on abortion. The GOP “support a human life amendment to the Constitution.” No matter then rest of their pretty words on the sanctity of life and supporting pregnant women, ratification of the “personhood” amendment the GOP so pointedly seeks means women will go to jail.

I am not just talking through my teeth about this. The evidence is clear. It has been demonstrated time after time that women ARE punished when abortion is made illegal. Take one look at the countries where abortion is illegal and you cannot deny the evidence. In countries where abortion is illegal, women go to jail for having abortions, women go to jail for having miscarriages, and women die due to unsafe abortion.

Even in the United States women have been prosecuted for obtaining abortion inducing drugs or miscarrying after attempting to self-abort.

So when Ted Cruz says he does not agree with Donald Trump’s position – that women be punished for abortion –  he is LYING to you. Ted Cruz supports a personhood amendment. He KNOWS that women will go to jail if a personhood amendment is passed. Ted Cruz supports punishing women. John Kasich supports punishing women. Mitch McConnell supports punishing women. The whole damn GOP supports punishing women.

Enter The Fragile Ego – No Bubble!

Since when did we lose our ability to hold complex discussions without acting like children? No really. It’s near impossible to have a real conversation anymore. When did that happen? There has developed a barrage of rules about when certain topics are forbidden conversation:

  1. Don’t discuss sex or politics at dinner parties.
  2. Don’t discuss politics or religion at the bar.
  3. Don’t discuss diet at the dinner table.
  4. Never discuss personal matters at work.
  5. No sex or race or politics or religion on Facebook, please. (Cat pictures only!)

With all these rules, when can we ever really, seriously talk about anything at all?

It seems one cannot bring up thought provoking topics anymore without someone else becoming offended or throwing around accusations. Dare you state the obvious, and you are just being mean. Dare to infuse racial-sociological context, and you are being a troll. “You’re talking publicly about your disbelief in my god – that’s RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION!” “How dare you analyze my personal experiences in a political context you contentious bitch!” We’ve become so afraid of rocking the boat that even calling oneself a feminist has suddenly become controversial.

It’s hard to pin down from whence this fragile egotism originated. Is this a product of the white, fluffy cloud concept of political correctness? Are we so motivated by etiquette that we feel the need to censor face-to-face, written, scholarly and even web speech? Or is this inane treading on the shallow end of conversation pool manifest of a collective need not to pop our own comfortable bubbles of correctness?

The dumbing down rampant in our education system (along with a host of other problems) could be partially to blame. When education funding is razed, the first education programs to disappear with that funding tend to be the courses that facilitate independent scholarly reflection: literature, art, sociology or current events. When people do not get the well rounded education needed to autonomously think outside the box, how can we expect people to approach complex social or political issues in a constructive way?

Where do we land at the end of this tryst with superficiality? The result is a bedazzled populace more concerned with who Miley Cyrus is twerking on than whether extending unemployment benefits is beneficial to our economy. Such is a populace that also avoids discussing the influence of racism on our social-economic institutions, or how the exaltation of female virginity degrades and hurts women.

A culture of avoidance facilitates ignorance. Ignorance breeds isolation. Isolation breeds extremism. And goodness knows we’ve already too much of that. It’s high time to take off the rose glasses, pop the comfy bubble, and commence with the discourse of our lives.

Religion – It’s What’s For Dinner….. er, School Lunch In Pennsylvania?

Oops, they did it again.

Well, not yet. And I hope they will not do it again. Everyone’s favorite, zealous Christian Representative, Rep. Rick Saccone has introduced yet another bill in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives that blatantly disregards the Pennsylvania Constitution. His latest bill, House Bill 1728, would force every school in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania to display signage saying “In God We Trust” in classrooms and other areas in public school buildings

For the record, Rick Saccone is the same irreverent that successfully introduced legislation declaring 2012 the “Year of the Bible” in Pennsylvania. (I wish you could see my face every time I think of this.) And his newest Bill states outright that the bill is motivated by “The Great Christian Governor” James Pollock. You know I could not let this legislation stand without putting in my two cents.

Dear Representative X,

Last year, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted to name 2012 the year of the bible. As a non-believer, I doubt it within my ability to explain to you how disrespected and paltry that made me feel as a citizen of the Commonwealth.

Now, similarly flippant legislation has been introduced by the same person – Rep. Rick Saccone – to promote and display signs relaying Christian messages in our schools. I am shocked by House Bill 1728! I cannot believe that, contrary to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I and my children could once again be compelled to maintain such displays of religious nature. This bill is antithetical to everything that Section 3 of our Constitution stands for!

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives already spat all over Section 3 last year by establishing preference by law to an establishment of religion. I can only hope that you will not do it again. I urge you not to support House Bill 1728, and to vote against it if it should be put up for a vote.

The Welcome Death of Traditional America

What was Traditional America? That depends on whose glasses you have on.

With the reelection of President Barack Obama, you have probably heard – and may even be perpetuating – all manner of doomsday predictions. There’s Jeffrey Kuhner of theWashington Times likening President Obama to Vladimir Lenin. Buster Wilson from the hate group American Family Association cannot help but lament that America will be cursed and punished by “God.” Children who’ve learned racial slurs from their bigoted parents are falling from the trees. And every ultra-conservative from Kuhner to Perkins is calling the beginning of the end of “Traditional America.”

My own opinion of the death of Traditional America is GOOD RIDDANCE!

What was Traditional America? That depends on whose glasses you have on.

Some people see Traditional America as a bastion of capitalism, where Christian values directed everything, and success was reserved for those who worked the hardest. But some others see Traditional America as a place where making money justifies exploitation, where the religious beliefs of a few are forced upon the massess, and where the color of ones skin determines the content of ones wallet.

The way I see it, today’s America is one in which Americans have rejected hate. Americans have rejected religious intolerance. Americans want to reward scholarship and hard work no matter what color you are.

I want America to shed the traditional definition of success for a new, definition. In post-2012 America, a person can find a way to earn an education even if his or her parents cannot afford it. In post-2012 America, A person’s race or religion won’t determine his or her fitness for public office. In post-2012 America, a person can start a business, become a wild success, make millions of dollars, and – not expecting special treatment – will contribute the same share of income to tax as those less affluent. In post-2012 America, private health care decisions won’t be restricted by the religious preferences of faceless bureaucrats. In post-2012 America, two consenting adults in love can marry each other and enjoy the full benefits of marriage, because other people’s opinion of their love won’t matter.

There were good things and bad things about Traditional America. Let’s slough away the bad things; and replace them with something better.

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 was a good start.