Diplomats, Syria, DACA, White House – Trump insanity continues

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The United States has expelled 60 Russian “diplomats” in response to Russia’s poisoning of two people in the United Kingdom. The State Department confirms to Oren Dorell, after Russian sources reported it, that Russia is free to replace those expelled. Net result: Nothing. We just get new spies to replace the old ones. Winning, right? Score one for Putin.

On Syria, President Trump declared “We’ll be coming out of Syria like very soon” at a recent event designed to tout his infrastructure plans. Who wants the US out of Syria (besides Syria)? Putin. Score two. He’s certainly winning with this President. So is ISIS.

On Easter Sunday, he Tweeted: “These big flows of people are all trying to take advantage of DACA. They want in on the act!”

Except, of course, that DACA only applies to people brought here as children and who have been here since 2007. People who enter the United States now are not eligible. You’d think the President would be aware of that fact. Apparently not. More winning?

On Easter he also made comments about the White House. The Hill reports:

President Trump thanked the White House Historical Association and “all of the people who work so hard with Melania, everybody, to keep this incredible house, or building, or whatever you want to call it because there really is no name for it.”

“It is special, and we keep it in tip-top shape,” he said. “We call it sometimes ‘tippy-top’ shape. And it’s a great, great place.”

“House. Building. Whatever you want to call it, because there really is no name for it.” Well, yes, there is a name for it. Several, in fact. It is a building. It’s called “The White House”. It’s also known as the Executive Mansion. Sometimes “The People’s House”. And Melania is keeping it in “tippy-top shape”. Good job, Melania.

Can you imagine the conniption fits there would have been on Fox “News” and the rest of the right-wing echo chamber, if President Obama had made such comments? They went ballistic when, during the campaign in 2008, he said he would consider talking to people like Kim Jong-un. They couldn’t understand how anyone could sit down and talk with a communist dictator. But when Trump recently announced he was meeting with the North Korean leader, they were effusive in their praise for his diplomatic skills… a big “win”. How times change.

Oh, by the way… if you’re looking for work, be sure your resume is updated. There are a lot of high-level jobs available in Washington, D.C. right now. (Don’t worry if you’ve padded it a bit, they don’t really bother to check.) Also, if you’re a lawyer, I hear there are openings at the White House. Be sure you’re about ready to retire, though. It doesn’t seem like a gig there right now translates into a career boost after you leave. And don’t buy a house in the D.C. area. You won’t be there that long.

Image: Associated Press

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Trump issues new ban on transgender troops

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The White House is trying it again. With explosive new stories breaking this weekend about affairs and cover-ups involving the President, the Trump administration Friday released it’s latest attempt at deflection. A new memo has been released, designed to ban transgender individuals from serving in the US military. One wonders if this ban will  pass  muster, as four federal courts have already found the previous ban to be unconstitutional.  With the stacking of the Supreme Court with right-wing ideologues by  the GOP, however, one can never be sure. (remember Judge Merrick Garland, anyone?)

The 48 pages of memo and attached findings explain why Secretary of Defense James Mattis feels transgender individuals cannot serve in the military. If you were to take all the doomsday predictions made back when lifting the ban on gay and lesbian individuals was in the works, and replaced “homosexual” with “transgender”, you’d have just about the same nonsense that Mattis sent to the White House on February 22 of this year. Those predictions were baseless, and the current concerns are too.

This is just another attempt by President Trump to inflame the base, and to distract from his “Stormy” relations. By keeping the country in turmoil, he hopes to line his pockets and keep himself out of jail. Probably in that order.

Transgender Americans are simply acceptable losses to this regime.

Really, Porterville? A major church holds a funeral for Charles Manson?

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It’s shocking. But, I suppose, based on Porterville’s history, it shouldn’t be.  On Saturday, March 17, a funeral service was held for Charles Manson at the Porterville Church of the Nazarene.

This is the same church that has, for years, been solidly against marriage equality and LGBT  rights. I’ve watched a few of their You Tube videos of Sunday sermons when LGBT issues were mentioned, and it astonishes me the ignorance, falsehoods, and nonsense I’ve heard spoken from that pulpit.

Now, on top of all that, they host a funeral service for one of the most evil men to ever walk out of the 20th century. His name is synonymous with insanity, murder, and cultist criminals.

Gay people aren’t welcome to get married at this church (I’m assuming, based on their past. Anybody got information that they will permit and conduct a marriage ceremony between a same-sex couple? I’ll retract this part if they do.), but they’ll do a funeral for Manson? Astonishing.

What is it about Porterville? Our dinner group ate at a restaurant there some years ago, and on the wall was a picture of the KKK riding horses down a Porterville street, white hoods everywhere. It was dated in the 1950’s.

In 2008, the Porterville City Council became the only government body in California to formally support Proposition 8, the measure to deny marriage equality.

In 2012, chaos broke out in the Council Chambers after Mayor Guerrola issued a proclamation recognizing June as LGBT pride month. After months of inept maneuvering by three members of the Council, the proclamation was rescinded, and Mayor Gurrola and Vice Mayor McCracken removed from their ceremonial positions.

A few months later, the Times Delta published in the print edition a blog I wrote about the entire sorry affair.

The LGBT community in Porterville has always dealt with hostility from the city government, and many churches. Porterville Nazerene has been in the forefront of that hostility. Now, a funeral for Charles Manson. If they were really a church of inclusion and respect, I could see an argument where they were trying to minister to the people who were affected by the life of Manson, and offer them some respite and solace, but I just don’t see that in them. At least not institutionally. As the President might say, I’m sure some of them are very fine people.

So, Porterville. There’s another bit for your Chamber of Commerce to promote: “Porterville!  An All America City! Home of the Iris Festival, the Chili Cook Off, and funeral provider for Charles Manson! Come join our family!”

 

Tillerson says “Yes, Russia did it”, gets fired

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YOU’RE FIRED! (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Wow. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson did what any United States official should have done, backed an ally who was attacked by a hostile power.  He got fired for it.

Yesterday, while en route to Washington, D.C. from Nigeria, Tillerson was asked about the poisoning in London of ex-spy Sergei Skripal. He stated the attack “clearly came from Russia”, and “certainly will trigger a response” on the part of the United States.

Well clearly President Trump can’t have anyone in his administration dissing the Russians, so Tillerson was fired. And of course, Trump being Trump, the firing was announced via Twitter:

Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!

5:44 AM – 13 Mar 2018

Congress passed legislation back in 2017 imposing sanctions on Russia. The vote in the House was 419 – 3, and in the Senate 98 – 2, making the bill veto-proof. Trump grudgingly signed the legislation, complaining the entire while, but when the time came to impose the sanctions, he ignored the law. He continues to do so.

Russia is untouchable as far as Trump is concerned. Tillerson found that out by Twitter today.

President Trump is a bought-and-paid-for stooge of Vladimir Putin, and in his only “redeeming” quality, appears ready to stay bought, no matter what. One can only imagine what Putin has on Trump, to elicit this level of treason from the President of the United States.

White House supports teachers with guns. Some questions by writer Stonekettle

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I don’t normally turn my blog over to other writers, but I ran across this on my Twitter feed today, and it’s too good not to repost. The writer is Jim Wright, under the moniker “Stonekettle”. Let’s dive right in.

A Tweet from President Trump:

Donald J. Trump
‏Very strong improvement and strengthening of background checks will be fully backed by White House. Legislation moving forward. Bump Stocks will soon be out. Highly trained expert teachers will be allowed to conceal carry, subject to State Law. Armed guards OK, deterrent!…….

6:15 AM – 12 Mar 2018

The response:

Stonekettle Twitter @Stonekettle

12 Mar 2018

Highly trained expert teachers

Highly trained

Highly trained by … who?

Who designs the training. On what criteria? To what standards? No, don’t just say, “the local police department” or something similar.

This training would have to specially designed because you’re talking about non-professionals with guns in a building full of panicked children AND those “specially trained people” will be very likely facing a CHILD with a gun who is killing other children.

We don’t train soldiers for that. We don’t train cops for that. So we’re going to need special training, including not just the mechanics and theory of combat arms, but the psychology of killing a CHILD in an active shooter situation.

If you don’t understand why this is a problem, then you’re very likely unqualified to be in this conversation in the first place.

It takes years of training to condition a soldier to kill another human being on command, let alone a child.

When that killing occurs, it’s usually in a warzone, alongside your squadmates, and while that engagement is very, very often chaotic, it can’t be compared to the confusion and chaos of a building packed with screaming running children that you are supposed to be protecting.

In a warzone, if your bullets hit a civilian, even a child, well, that’s collateral damage. It happens. It can’t NOT happen. That’s war. And soldiers come apart from this. That’s one of the many reasons VA waiting rooms are packed full of PTSD cases.

A school? Full of American kids? You starting to see why you’d need some VERY, VERY specific training? Have you given any thought to the psychology of this situation? Like at all? The psychology of training to kill children?

Cops develop a distant relationship with the public, us and them, sheep and wolves, because they may have to kill that public. Because they always have to be on alert that the public might try to kill them.

Is THAT really the mindset you want in a teacher? One where they must regard all children as potential threats, potential enemies, potential targets? Where they must be prepared to kill children at a moment[‘s notice]? Imagine where that goes over the long term.

Who pays for it? Combat arms is a perishable skill, so how often is refresher training and re-qualification mandated? Again, who does that training? Who does the background checks? Who does the psychological screening? Who decides who can and cannot carry in a school?

If a teacher wants to be armed, but is judged by ([who]?) to be unfit (for whatever reason), what are legal repercussions? Can the teacher sue to change the judgment? Who is the final arbiter? Who pays for the legal challenge?

Who do these “specially trained people” answer to in a tactical situation? Is the principle also the commanding general? Or is the school police officer now part of the chain of command? Who do you answer to in this situation? What’s THEIR training?

What’s the doctrine for armed teachers in an active shooter situation? Remain in their classrooms? Take to the hall to conduct sweep and clearing operations? Are they trained to work together? Or are they Lone Wolf McQuade? You have to have a plan BEFORE the shooting starts.

How do you insure the school? Because you going to HAVE to insure the school. Are the specially trained people personally liable for their fire? If they hit an innocent kid, if they kill an innocent kid or cripple a child for life? Or is the school responsible?

Is the armed teacher responsible for failure to stop an active shooter? The teacher was “highly trained” but failed to stop the shooter, when the grieving parents sue, will the school hang the teacher out to dry?

SOMEBODY has to be legally responsible.

What weapons?

It makes a difference, you know. Larger, high velocity rounds can penetrate body armor, but also walls, doors, etc, meaning increased chance of collateral damage in a building full of children.

We made the cockpit doors on aircraft bulletproof, are we going to do that with classrooms? If not, why not?

And we’re back to the question of who’s responsible when the school gets sued for not protecting the students from stray bullets fired by their own teachers.

So, do you mandate acceptable weapons? Ammunition? Fields of Fire? Zones of responsibility. Or is it the Wild West? And we’re back to the question of tactics and the adaption military urban warfare doctrine. Who does this? Who creates this? Who’s responsible for this?

How do the cops know who the licensed and qualified “specially trained people” are?

No. No, don’t roll your eyes. Answer the god****** question. How do the cops know who the bad guy is in this situation? Show your work. Be specific. HOW DO THEY KNOW?

This hole is bottomless.

You are essentially talking about turning teachers into soldiers and schools into warzones. You would do everything, EXCEPT address the actual problem.

NOTE: I did not say there shouldn’t be armed guards in schools. I didn’t say there should.

Likewise, I didn’t say teachers shouldn’t be armed. Or that they should.

Instead, I simply asked some VERY basic questions regarding allowing or even mandating armed teachers and school personnel.

Questions anyone who has had even basic weapons training should be asking.

If you want to put more guns, carried by amateurs, into a building packed full of children, then I don’t think I’m being unreasonable here.

When the president says “highly trained expert teachers,” we must all demand to know EXACTLY what that means. In detail.

Jim Wright, Stonekettle Station www.stonekettle.com

Brackets [ ] indicate my editing.

Trump Administration, Anti-LGBT groups slapped down by Federal Courts

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The Second Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday ruled in a 10-3 decision that discrimination based on sexual orientation is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The en-banc hearing before the entire court ruled “In the context of Title VII, the statutory prohibition extends to all discrimination ‘because of . . . sex’ and sexual orientation discrimination is an actionable subset of sex discrimination.”

With Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, the DOJ filed a Twilight Zone-worthy claim that it was not illegal discrimination if an employer was equally biased against both gay men and lesbian women. Session’s DOJ argued  “Title VII’s bar against discrimination because of sex is not violated unless men and women are treated unequally”.  The Court was not impressed with this reasoning.

On December 11, 2017, a Federal Court in Washington, D.C. maintained it’s earlier order preventing the Trump Administration from enforcing it’s ban on transgender individuals from serving in the military. The judge, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, refused to overturn the ruling she made in October, finding the plaintiffs would likely prevail in their suit. Several other courts have also made rulings blocking the ban.

On July 7, 2016, at the Republican National Convention, then-candidate Trump said
As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology, believe me. And I have to say as a Republican, it is so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said. Thank you.” We should have known he didn’t mean that to include attacks from our own government or  anti-LGBT groups. From the moment of his appointment of virulently anti-gay Mike Pence to be his Vice-President, Trump has worked steadfastly against the LGBT community.

Thankfully, rationality still reigns in the Federal Courts, even among judges appointed by past Republican Presidents. Since many conservatives, Republicans, and legislatures cannot be trusted to do the right thing, the courts have to stand ready to say “NO” to their hateful actions.

Nunes Following Trump Down Fake News Rabbit Hole

Devin_Nunes,_officialEver the eager sycophant of Donald Trump, Devin Nunes sent out an email Thursday accusing a local television station of staging protesters at a fund raising event. In it, he accused KFSN ABC30 of being “FAKE and LIBERAL NEWS” because the reporter, Gene Haagenson, dared ask him about Russia.

Here’s what Nunes said in his email:

Unfortunately, the ABC 30 news network once again sent a reporter to ask me about wild accusations and Russian conspiracy theories that precisely mimicked the talking points of numerous left-wing organizations.

Continuing a remarkable string of similar coincidences, the reporter’s appearance was quickly followed by the appearance of about half a dozen liberal protestors (sic), as if they’d been encouraged to show up to provide the right backdrop for ABC 30’s reporting.

I believe Central Valley residents deserve unbiased, straight-forward reporting from local news networks, not political spin coordinated with left-wing groups. ABC 30 should be reporting news stories, not staging them.”

It must be nice to be able to dismiss anyone who dares to ask you a question, and accuse them of staging events.  It means you can play the victim, and see conspiracies under every TV station’s van. I”m surprised he didn’t claim George Soros was somehow behind it all, paying protesters.

Once those not happy with the way Nunes has been handling his job in Congress found out where the $2,700 per plate fund raiser was being held (it’s location was secret until you RSVP’d), they quickly utilized social media to get people on the scene. No doubt Nunes was peeved about that – someone leaked his “secret memo” listing the time and place for the event. With no other target on which to vent his spleen, he lashed out at Channel 30 and reporter Haagenson.

These days Devin seems to feel at home only on Fox News, where I don’t doubt they hold his hand and tsk tsk tsk with him over the terrible way local media tries to get him to actually answer some serious questions. (did you see that soft-ball interview he did a few days ago? The interviewer even used the Republican fall-back term, “Democrat Party”, instead of the correct “Democratic Party”. They don’t even try to hide their bias, and he accuses Channel 30!) We did get a long look at him almost running from reporters at the Farm Show last week, until they found a section where they could slam the doors on the reporters trying to follow him and get him to talk to them. Must not have been a Fox News person in the group.

Trump starting foraging in the rabbit hole of ‘fake news’ a long time ago, and Devin Nunes is happy to follow him right down to the bottom. I hope Alice and the Mad Hatter can make room at the table, but the cat is not smiling, and the Queen may have harsh words for them all.

Nitpicks, just because: ABC30 is a station, not a network. The correct spelling is “protesters”. These from the head of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. And I’m still blocked on Nunes’ personal Twitter account. Maybe it was something I said?