An excoriating repudiation of our current *president.

At a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday in response to an assertion by the *president that special counsel Robert Mueller’s entire Russia report was protected by executive privilege, members of Congress took the opportunity to vote on whether to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for not providing the complete and unredacted Mueller report.

Many congresspeople spoke, but the most powerful commentary was delivered by Congressman Jamie Raskin, representing the 8th District of Maryland. The full transcript of his powerful remarks are below. If you really care about what’s happening to this country, you must acknowledge that every word he spoke is backed up by facts, by decency, and by common sense.

“Madam Chair, I think we need to remark how far this president has lowered our country. First, they destroyed the norms and the values of society – things that we’d always taken for granted.

  • You don’t mock people with disabilities.
  • Men don’t mock women’s bodies on television.
  • You don’t ridicule people and give them obnoxious nicknames, at least after you graduate from the third grade.
  • You don’t falsely accuse other political leaders of treason.
  • You don’t accuse other political leaders’ parents of assassinating President Kennedy.
  • You don’t use disgusting, profane language to disparage other people’s countries and you don’t call neo-Nazis and Klansmen ‘very fine people.’
  • You don’t give aid and comfort to the dictators of the world like Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin by flattering them and being their sycophants.

But then you destroyed the norms and the values of your office.

  • You called the press the enemy of the people.
  • You called true facts fake news and you call fake news true facts.
  • You vilify, you demonize the hardworking employees of the Department of Justice and the FBI.
  • You accuse them of being a part of a fantasy deep-state conspiracy just for doing their jobs.
  • You falsely claim millions of people voted illegally while you deny and dismiss the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller that there was a sweeping and systematic campaign to disrupt our elections in 2016.
  • You refused to divest yourself of your business interests or to put them in a blind trust as other presidents have done.
  • You traveled to your own business properties and the hotels on government expense.
  • You double initiation fees to Mar-a-Lago.
  • You turn the government of the United States into a money-making operation for your family, for your business, and for yourself.
  • And then you violate and undermine the laws of the United States.
  • You sabotage the affordable care act to try to deny millions of people access to their healthcare.
  • You separate children from their parents at the border. You pull out of the Paris climate agreement, making our country an international environmental pariah and outlaw state.
  • You lie about what science has shown about climate change.
  • You call it a Chinese hoax.
  • You collect millions of dollars from foreign princes, and kings, and governments in violation of Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8 of the Constitution.

And now the president, aided and abetted by the attorney general, tears at the very fabric of our Constitution. He orders that a curtain be pulled down over the executive branch. He says there will be no cooperation with the lawful demands of Congress for information. Congress shouldn’t be looking any more. The president-king declares, this is all. It’s done. No tax returns, no Mueller report, no witnesses, not Don McGahn, not John Gore. The president declares himself above and beyond the law. James Madison said, “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance and those who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power that knowledge gives. The people through the Constitution gave us that power. We must exercise it. If you act with contempt for the people in Congress, we will find you in contempt of the people and of Congress. And I support the resolution.”

Any subset of the above allegations would constitute impeachable behavior, simply in terms of incompetence, malfeasance, and outright inhumanity. There is a lot of debate right now in progressive circles as to whether such an effort is even worth the time and money, particularly in view of the unlikelihood of conviction in the Senate.

Personally, I wish the House would vote to impeach, if only to show The Thermonuclear Bowel Evacuation Currently Disgracing the Oval Office that actions have consequences. Let it be remembered that Bill Clinton was
impeached by the House in December 1998 on two charges, one of perjury and one of obstruction of justice; while he was acquitted, the charges stemmed from a single charge of sexual harassment by Paula Jones. The laundry-list of horrors perpetrated by the current occupant of the White House makes that transgression, while serious, look like a peccadillo.

But even if the House takes a path of political expediency and moves on to other pressing business of our nation, it is the obligation of every human and decent citizen of our country to sweep this horror from the political stage in 2020 and relegate him to the status of a terrible mistake of history.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

*Comments are disabled for this post. If you have other opinions, feel free to write about them on your own blog.

The Speech *I* Wish a President would give.

On the 8th of October, 2003, some time subsequent to the Desert Storm operation a veteran named Dennis Chapman posted this. It circulated widely on the Internet after that, in various forms as is not uncommon, people feeling the need to edit or improve things according to their own whims. It is the earliest known occurrence I can find, and I have no reason to suppose that Mr. Chapman was not the original author.

The Speech We Wish a President Would Give
My Fellow Americans: As you all know, the defeat of the Iraq regime has been completed.
Since congress does not want to spend any more money on this war, our mission in Iraq is complete.
This morning I gave the order for a complete removal of all American forces from Iraq. This action will be complete within 30 days. It is now time to begin the reckoning.
Before me, I have two lists. One list contains the names of countries which have stood by our side during the Iraq conflict. This list is short. The United Kingdom , Spain , Bulgaria , Australia , and Poland are some of the countries listed there.
The other list contains everyone not on the first list. Most of the world’s nations are on that list. My press secretary will be distributing copies of both lists later this evening.
Let me start by saying that effective immediately, foreign aid to those nations on List 2 ceases immediately and indefinitely. The money saved during the first year alone will pretty much pay for the costs of the Iraqi war.
The American people are no longer going to pour money into third world Hellholes and watch those government leaders grow fat on corruption.
Need help with a famine ? Wrestling with an epidemic? Call France.
In the future, together with Congress, I will work to redirect this money toward solving the vexing social problems we still have at home . On that note, a word to terrorist organizations. Screw with us and we will hunt you down and eliminate you and all your friends from the face of the earth.
Thirsting for a gutsy country to terrorize? Try France, or maybe China .
I am ordering the immediate severing of diplomatic relations with France, Germany, and Russia . Thanks for all your help, comrades. We are retiring from NATO as well. Bon chance, mes amis.
I have instructed the Mayor of New York City to begin towing the many UN diplomatic vehicles located in Manhattan with more than two unpaid parking tickets to sites where those vehicles will be stripped, shredded and crushed. I don’t care about whatever treaty pertains to this. You creeps have tens of thousands of unpaid tickets. Pay those tickets tomorrow or watch your precious Benzes, Beamers and limos be turned over to some of the finest chop shops in the world. I love New York.
A special note to our neighbors. Canada is on List 2. Since we are likely to be seeing a lot more of each other, you folks might want to try not pissing us off for a change.
Mexico is also on List 2 President Fox and his entire corrupt government really need an attitude adjustment. I will have a couple extra tank and infantry divisions sitting around. Guess where I am going to put ’em? Yep, border security.
Oh, by the way, the United States is abrogating the NAFTA treaty – starting now.
We are tired of the one-way highway. Immediately, we’ll be drilling for oil in Alaska – which will take care of this country’s oil needs for decades to come. If you’re an environmentalist who opposes this decision, I refer you to List 2 above: pick a country and move there. They care.
It is time for America to focus on its own welfare and its own citizens. Some will accuse us of isolationism. I answer them by saying, “darn tootin.”
Nearly a century of trying to help folks live a decent life around the world has only earned us the undying enmity of just about everyone on the planet. It is time to eliminate hunger in America It is time to eliminate homelessness in America . To the nations on List 1, a final thought. Thank you guys. We owe you and we won’t forget.
To the nations on List 2, a final thought: You might want to learn to speak Arabic.
God bless America . Thank you and good night.
If you can read this, thank a teacher.
If you are reading it in English, thank a soldier.


Dennis Chapman

15 years ago I was still smarting from the insult of the 9/11 attacks, and on more days than not my gut instinct was to agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Chapman’s sentiments. I think had 45 been running for president in 2004 using this fictitious letter as a campaign platform, I might have (to my discomfort now) pulled the lever for a straight GOP ticket with great enthusiasm. So it’s not like I don’t have a sense of what 45’s base is feeling, and why they support him so doggedly.

Fortunately for my conscience, in 2007 I began a journey into a different space, thanks to some amazing seminars produced by Klemmer and Associates. People finish these leadership training experiences with many different takeaways, depending on their own particular biases and preconceptions, and which ones they are willing to look at. For me, the bottom line was that mankind consists of “one village,” and without each other we cannot maximize our potential as human beings. I landed on the concept of R. Buckminster Fuller’s “World Game” (hence the title of this blog), which goes like this:

“Make the world work, for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.”

R. Buckminster Fuller

There were other important lessons as well, but this one ended up informing what’s left of my life, and made me realize that the “Yeah Baby ‘Murica First” philosophy was incompatible with my heart and soul.

As a result of thinking long and hard about what kind of America I believe in, and how I would like to see it led, I have crafted the speech that I wish an American president would give.

My Fellow Americans,

It is a privilege to address you this evening. To begin with, it will not be surprising to any of you if I say we are still living through one of the most challenging political, economic, and social periods that our nation has faced. But before anything else is said, it needs to be acknowledged that we are Americans, that we have survived difficult times before, and that as a nation and as a people we will survive this time in our history and emerge the stronger for having done so.

As eloquently pointed out by President Lincoln, the founders of our nation envisioned a republic where all people would be free and equal. While their vision did not fully encompass people of color or women, subsequent modifications to our Constitution, along with various decisions by the Supreme Court, rectified most of those time-relative cultural oversights. With the exception of certain fanatical or misguided groups, and despite the fact that there is still work to be done, the vast majority of Americans support the concept of a nation where every person is equal in the eyes of the law and has an equal chance at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Sadly, today’s reality does not live up to those founding principles, and it is my intention to devote the next four years rectifying that and other underlying problems which are holding our nation back from achieving its full potential.

The first group of people I would like to address is my colleagues in the press. You have been warmly invited to cover this address with open arms, and it is my intention that this state of affairs will continue. The relationship of the office of the President with the Fourth Estate has never been an easy one, and while I cannot promise that this administration will be the media’s darling, I can promise one thing: you will never be lied to by me or my spokespeople. In the interest of national security, there may be questions we cannot answer, and if that is the case, we will say so directly. But I and those in my administration are determined to make you our allies in building an America that works for everyone, with no one left out. Journalism is driven by money, money comes from advertising, and sensationalism sells ads. I don’t expect to change the rubric of your profession in a brief four years (or eight, if that happens to be the will of the American people) – but I ask you for an agreement of honor. I expect you to shine the harsh light of reason into every dark corner of this government, and to act as Amerca’s watchdogs. If there is malfeasance, or corruption, or injustice, I expect you to uncover it – and this administration will be your partners in doing that. In exchange, I ask that you make your coverage fair and balanced, and as devoid of sensationalism, partisanship, and outright falsehood as possible; your training as journalists has prepared you to do this, and I expect nothing less. If I, as president, have something to say to the nation, you will be notified by a televised address or by the time-tested channel of a press conference – and not by some social media platform.

To our military, and our police forces, and our first responders, I have only this to say: I honor you for your service, for your sacrifices, and for your daily willingness to put yourselves in harm’s way for the safety and security of our nation and our allies – and I want nothing more than to build a nation where your services will be seldom, if ever, needed. You belong with your families, and it’s my job to make sure you can spend as much time with them as humanly possible.

To the nations of the world, I offer the hand of friendship. There have been some serious bumps along the way, but the past is written and unchangeable. What we have is now, and tomorrow. If you will work with me in building a world of safety and prosperity for the almost 8 billion sojourners on our spaceship Earth, you will find me a willing and eager partner. If you oppose the general welfare of humanity, you are likely to find me a formidable and immovable opponent.

Of my colleagues in Congress, I ask this: send me legislation to sign that builds our nation, that makes it stronger, that is designed to benefit everyone – not just the privileged few – and that extends beyond our borders in areas of diplomacy, of science, of health, and of the environment. I will work with you to this end, but I will not support unfairness, or cruelty, or selfishness, or dishonesty. If you truly work for the benefit of humanity, we will be able to make sensible progress together.

To the people of America, I say this: I was elected by a democratic process, and I will never forget that I represent the hopes and dreams of everyone in this nation – the ones who voted for me and the ones who didn’t. In past years and after past elections, I have heard a similar refrain from both parties, to the extent that “We won, and you people (the opposition) are now irrelevant.” That is not an America that I support. Whether you believe in me or my party’s platform is irrelevant – but you are not. However you would like to see it happen, I know that what you mostly desire in life is health, safety, security, and opportunity for yourself and your children. It may be that we have different approaches, but I want those things for you – for all of you – and will work to see that you get more of them than you have now.

If you have a spiritual walk, then join with me in saying God Bless America. If you turn to the wisdom of humanity for your strength, then may your efforts to build a humane and peaceful country bear as much fruit as you can make happen with your efforts.

My fellow citizens, I thank you. May you prosper in all that you do.

As a point of practicality, I have disabled comments for this post. Like it if you wish, I always appreciate knowing if people resonate with my thoughts. Or don’t, if you disagree. But this is not reddit or YouTube, and not a place for debate – if you have other thoughts, the best place for those will be your own blog.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Benevolent Dictatorships

Cross-posted from Livejournal.

Caveat: Secular Humanists may want to skip this post.

A strip from Schlock Mercenary brought me up short. One doesn’t usually hear people extol the virtues of dictatorship in public, at least not if they’re worried about their political future.

While the country could use people in office with the acumen and common sense that Howard Tayler displays, tragically he seems occupied with being a cartoonist and is thus subject to the scorn of nations on a regular basis. One more batch of scathing, vitriolic emails from disgruntled readers shouldn’t make much difference.

Fortunately, to balance the equation, there are those whose understanding surpasses that of the unwashed masses:

B. Kliban, as seen by B. Kliban

But back to my thesis: It would be good to live under a just, enlightened and moral ruler who afforded his subjects their agency. This sounds only like a contradiction in terms because there have been so few examples of this kind of leadership in human history.

Monday’s strip immediately put me in mind of the words of an ancient American prophet-king named Mosiah:

“Therefore, if it were possible that you could have just men to be your kings, who would establish the laws of God, and judge this people according to his commandments, yea, if ye could have men for your kings who would do even as my father Benjamin did for this people—I say unto you, if this could always be the case then it would be expedient that ye should always have kings to rule over you.” (Book of Mormon, Mosiah 29:13)

In the secular environment, this model fails on all levels, because the concepts of justice and morality are relative, and impossible to pin down with any certainty. In the regular (i.e. the opposite of secular) environment, the most obvious parallel is the millennial rule of Christ as Theocrat/King. Outside of that, a just and moral dictator would have to be following an absolute standard of justice and morality, based on absolute fairness – which could only happen if the ruler were in regular contact with Divinity, hence, a prophet as well as a king. No ordinary mortal could pull it off.

From “Fiddler on the Roof”:

What’s wrong with being rich? It’s no reason to marry.
Money’s the world’s curse. May the Lord smite me with it, and may I never recover!

I’m with that. May God smite the nations of the world with such rulers.

War is War and Hell is Hell

This image from the AP shows smoke rising over an Israeli airstrike in Gaza. Far better minds than mine have wrestled with the ongoing violence in the Middle East for lifetimes, so I’m not really qualified to make pronouncements as a political pundit. That said, a comment I saw over at reddit resonated loudly with me:

Hawkeye: War isn’t Hell. War is war, and Hell is Hell. And of the two, war is a lot worse.

Father Mulcahy: How do you figure, Hawkeye?

Hawkeye: Easy, Father. Tell me, who goes to Hell?

Father Mulcahy: Sinners, I believe.

Hawkeye: Exactly. There are no innocent bystanders in Hell. War is chock full of them – little kids, cripples, old ladies. In fact, except for some of the brass, almost everybody involved is an innocent bystander.

This conversation from M*A*S*H was probably contrived by a scriptwriter, but I’ve quoted Alan Alda before and it wouldn’t surprise me if he had come up with it himself or at least had input.

Gaza is home to 1.7 million people, living in ghetto-like conditions that are difficult to comprehend for anyone not living in a war zone. 

Without any cognitive dissonance or hypocrisy, one can be completely in favor of Israel’s existence and security but still believe that the campaign of Palestinian suppression, ongoing settlement building in the West Bank, and the rejection of a two-state solution in the Middle East on the part of the Israeli government is inhuman and wrong. Sadly, voicing such an opinion almost always results in accusations of anti-semitism, but that can’t be helped.

Bibi Netanyahu has said:

“If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more ‎violence. If the Jews put ‎down their weapons ‎today, there would be no ‎more Israel’‎”


I think that’s completely accurate, but I also think that what is being perpetrated on the Palestinian people rises to the level of crimes against humanity, and somehow it has to stop.

In the name of all that’s holy, it has to stop.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

My Facebook Manifesto

43207427_10156745554973851_2272040018866339840_n

Two suggestions I’d make to Facebook would be the ability to make a post “sticky” (so that it always appears at the top of my timeline) and the ability to disable comments for any post. That would pretty much solve a lot of issues I find with this online corner of my world.

Until that happens, however, I craft this little “manifesto” in an effort to uncomplicated my life a bit.

There are only so many minutes in a day, and only so much energy – physical and emotional – that I have available for use in moving my life forward and making a difference in the world before my earthly sojourn is over. I enjoy sharing bits of my life and my thoughts and things that I think are important or just ways to brighten someone’s day on Facebook, but endless political/social debates are draining and serve no purpose.

My online presence is essentially an extension of my home. I wouldn’t let someone come into my house and decorate it, in the words of Huck Finn, with “the ignorantest kind of words and pictures made with charcoal.” And while I have nothing against honest and meaningful exchange of ideas, the Internet has changed the way people interact – and I don’t have time to read or deal with the conflicting opinions of thousands of people. It’s just too draining.

So it comes to this: My wall is not a place for political debate. I will post things I believe, things that are important to me, and things I want to see happen in the world. Or sometimes just something to make others smile. If I see a comment appear on one of my posts or a link on my wall that I don’t happen to agree with, I’ll simply delete it – without fanfare and without response. This doesn’t mean I don’t value you as a friend or as a person – it just means that I’m doing some virtual housecleaning. If you have differing opinions, you have your own page: feel free to use it as a place to express those things that are important to you. If I’m interested, I’ll come over and see what the opposition is thinking. That said, sometimes (rarely) I get caught out posting something that’s patently false because it seemed plausible and I didn’t do my research. I’m always grateful for vigilant friends pointing out my folly.

It works both ways. Your wall is like your home, and I’ll do my best to keep my mouth shut if I see things you post that are not in harmony with my beliefs. My one exception to this is if I see someone posting things that are hateful, hurtful, bigoted, or abusive – in such cases I would have no compunctions about speaking out.

To me, this approach makes more sense than blocking or unfriending people whose friendship I value, and from whom I doubtless have much to learn in many areas – and it will help me to preserve my sanity in these most “interesting” times.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

 

Patriotism is not Nationalism.

I categorically reject the concept that I do not love my country because I support “Change it or lose it” instead of “Love it or leave it.”

1200px-EcologyTheta.svgThe Ecology Flag

Our inhuman horror of a president, a spoiled, rich, unethical businessman and game show host, has proven again and again that he believes women are property that he can abuse as he pleases; that blacks and Mexicans are sub-human and should be removed from the country; that Muslims are undesirables who have no place in America; and that the poor and the sick should die and reduce the surplus population rather than drain the profits of his rich cronies.

It is *because* I love my country, and its Constitution, and by extension the flag and anthem which symbolize these things, that I support protests against the ongoing racism and injustice that are endemic in our society.

I respect my country far more than you do, Mr. Racist-in-Chief, by demanding change and supporting the oppressed and sidelined of our nation.

Wrapping yourself in the flag and screaming “Respect it or get out!” is the kind of attitude that allowed World War II to happen. I will not allow history to repeat itself in that matter, not in this country or under this Constitution.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Literacy Test: “I can make out the headline”

“Story of the Negro who went to register. The white man taking his application gave him the standard literacy tests: “What is the 32nd paragraph of the United States Constitution?” he asked. The applicant answered perfectly. “Name the eleventh president of the United States and his entire cabinet.” The applicant answered correctly. Finally, unable to trip him up, the white man asked, “Can you read and write?” The applicant wrote his name and was the handed a newspaper in Chinese to test his reading. He studied it carefully for a time. “Well, can you read it?” “I can read the headline, but I can’t make out the body text.” Incredulous, the white man said, “You can read that headline?” “Oh yes, I’ve got the meaning all right.” “What’s it say?” “It says this is one Negro in Mississippi who’s not going to get to vote this year.” ”

-John Howard Griffin, Black Like Me

Voter suppression was long an approved tactic in the South to keep people of color from voting; “Southern states abandoned the literacy test only when forced to do so by federal legislation in the 1960s.” (Wikipedia)

395px-The_color_line_still_exists—in_this_case_cph.3b29638.jpg

Now we have the state of Georgia trying to implement an “exact match” rule that requires that citizens’ names on their government-issued IDs must precisely match their names as listed on the voter rolls.

The state maintains that this is an attempt to reduce voter fraud, but individual voter fraud is largely a myth, and the odds of its occurrence is vanishingly small. I for one cannot count the number of times my name has been misspelled on official documents, especially because it’s not your vanilla white anglo-saxon protestant name like Smith or Jones.  Research by Ted Enamorado with colleagues Ben Fifield and Kosuke Imai have shown that this “exact match” rule could potentially disenfranchise around 900,000 voters in the state of Georgia, and that’s troubling in the extreme.

The right to vote is enshrined in the Constitution. Governments interested in free and fair elections should be doing all they can  to make it easy for people to register and vote, up to and including making election day a national holiday, and implementing universal, automatic voting registration through the DMV and/or other entities.

Gerrymandering remains a terrible, terrible problem. The Electoral College and the existence of superdelegates cloud what should be a straightforward one-person one-vote election process. While the US has traditionally ranked high on a comparative scale of free and fair elections worldwide, cracks are beginning to appear in the structure, particularly with evidence of wholesale foreign influence via electronic disinformation campaigns, as well as direct foreign influence-peddling at the highest levels of our government.

Vote_Like_The_World_Depends_on_it_TW.jpg

… because it does.

The Old Wolf has spoken.