Category: U.S. President

Puerto Rico statehood could give the U.S. more trouble than anything else

Tomorrow, Puerto Ricans will go to the polls to vote on whether Puerto Rico should continue with an undemocratic status quo regarding Puerto Rico’s political status, become a sovereign country independent from the United States, or become a U.S. state. While statehood is likely to get the most votes by far, Puerto Rican statehood would cause the U.S. more trouble than anything, and it has absolutely nothing to do with race or language.

Long story short, the Puerto Rican independence movement isn’t going to go away, even if Puerto Ricans choose statehood in a landslide. I worry that Puerto Rico, if it were to become a state, would become the U.S.’s version of Quebec politically. Quebec is a Canadian province with a significant independence movement, with a pro-Quebec independence party, often playing a potential spoiler role in Canadian parliamentary elections (and, for a period in the mid-1990’s, was the official opposition party in the Canadian House of Commons). If Puerto Rico were to become a U.S. state, it would be apportioned, if I’m not mistaken, 5 U.S. House seats (and, because Puerto Rico were to be able to vote in U.S. presidential elections if it were to become a state, 7 electoral college votes), although I’m not sure of the actual apportionment math. However, the pro-independence movement in Puerto Rico would likely run their own candidate in the first U.S. presidential election following statehood, with the pro-independence candidate receiving enough votes that would otherwise go to the Democratic presidential candidate to potentially allow President Donald Trump, whose approval rating in Puerto Rico is probably extremely low, to win Puerto Rico’s electoral votes with a small plurality of the Puerto Rican popular vote, and, in a close election, Puerto Rico’s electoral votes could decide the entire presidential election. It would be an embarrassment to America for a separatist movement to potentially wield the balance of power in a U.S. presidential election.

While Puerto Ricans will vote on their political future tomorrow, the U.S. Congress will have the final say on any actual measure to grant Puerto Rico either statehood or independence. While the current status quo in Puerto Rico is completely unacceptable, Puerto Rican statehood is not worth the risk of a second Trump term in the White House. It would be best if Congress passed a Puerto Rican independence bill and granted Puerto Rico full independence from the United States, regardless of the outcome of the Puerto Rican referendum tomorrow, and I support all non-violent efforts with the ultimate goal of full independence for the Puerto Rican people.

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Thoughts on Trump’s Paris Accord exit from an isolationist redneck in a coal town in Illinois

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post was originally published at DailyKos, and this blog post has been republished to The Progressive Midwestern by its original author.


Given the fact that I am a staunch isolationist when it comes to foreign policy, as well as the fact that I live in Westville, Illinois, which, while there hasn’t been large-scale coal mining around here in many years, was originally built up around coal mining, you may be surprised to find that I’m actually opposed to President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement.

Even though I firmly believe that Trump just won re-election in 2020 (unless the planet becomes uninhabitable before November 2020, that is) with his decision, there are a large number of reasons why I fundamentally disagree with Trump on his decision to pull the U.S. out of the primary instrument of international law to combat global warming. There are four reasons why I believe that Trump will politically benefit from his decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement:

  • Many Americans either believe that global warming isn’t occurring and/or believe that global warming is not caused by human activity.
  • Many Americans have a negative view of the concept of international law and don’t like the idea of the U.S. being told by other countries what to do.
  • Many Americans believe that Trump is trying to save the U.S. coal industry.
  • Many Americans believe that Trump is trying to save automobile racing in the United States.

I’ll counter each of those arguments in this article.

Global warming is legitimately occurring, and human activity is causing global warming

The above headline contains two indisputable facts. I don’t need to explain further.

No country can address climate change by itself

Normally, I’m staunchly opposed to multilateral international agreements of any kind, and of course I, like many Americans, revere popular sovereignty, our country’s independence, and the U.S. Constitution’s status as the Supreme Law of the Land within the jurisdiction of the United States. However, climate change is an issue that affects all of Earth, not just the U.S. or any other single country. A well-implemented agreement between as many countries as possible is necessary to reduce the rate of, if not halt or reverse, global warming. The Paris agreement is similar to the U.S. Constitution in a way: it’s a legal framework. The U.S. Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land that establishes the U.S. federal government’s form of government, but is not every single federal law applicable to the United States. The Paris agreement is a framework for a global strategy to combat global warming, but it’s up to sovereign and non-sovereign governments around the world to, if they have the power(s) to do so, implement policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within their jurisdiction in order to meet the goals of the Paris agreement.

Coal isn’t coming back

There hasn’t been a large amount of coal mining activity in the area around my hometown for many, many years. In fact, a coal-fired power plant northwest of my hometown closed permanently several years ago. There are other, cleaner ways of generating electricity than via coal. The decline of coal in the U.S. is due to, among other factors, technological advances leaving fewer and fewer viable and necessary uses for coal, not due to international law or environmental regulations. Instead of pulling out of the Paris agreement, the federal government should create an economic development bank to provide loans to new businesses operating in economically-depressed areas, such as rural America and former mining and manufacturing areas. Coal isn’t coming back, and Trump is trying to destroy the planet to save a dying industry, which simply won’t work for anybody.

It’s not a threat to automobile racing

NASCAR’s fan base might be 80-90% Republican, but I’m a big fan of NASCAR despite being very progressive politically. I’m not as big of a fan of other forms of automobile racing, although I do watch at least one IndyCar race and at least one Formula One race per year on television. The Paris climate agreement wouldn’t hurt automobile racing. If automobile racing were threatened by the Paris accord, Monaco, a tiny European country which hosts the most important Formula One race on that form of auto racing’s calendar each year, wouldn’t have signed the Paris agreement (they did).

Is this the beginning of the end of the Trump Administration?

We are just a couple of days short of being five months into what is supposed to be a four-year term of Donald Trump being President of the United States, but developments in the last few days or so are indicating that this may be the beginning of the end of the Trump Administration.

The biggest recent news is the announcement that former FBI director Robert Mueller was appointed the special prosecutor in the case regarding the Trump presidential campaign’s ties to Russia:

(b) The Special Counsel is authorized to conduct the investigation confirmed by then-FBI Director James 8. Comey in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on March 20, 2017, including:

(i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals     associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and

(ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and

(iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a).

Additionally, there are other developments that have indicated to me that this could be the beginning of the end of the Trump Administration:

  • An audio tape (transcript here) in which House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) bragged about Russian President Vladimir Putin paying Trump and U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)…Republicans have tried to claim that McCarthy was merely joking, but it’s certainly suspicious when Republicans claim that Putin is paying some of their own, and it’s not 100% clear if they were being serious or not.
  • Vice President Mike Pence has already set up a leadership PAC to support Republican political efforts…this is the first time a sitting VPOTUS has ever done this.
  • Democratic members of Congress are openly mentioning the prospect of impeaching Trump.
  • It has been reported that disgraced former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and others with close ties to Trump had 18 contacts with the Russians that were not previously disclosed.

There’s certainly evidence that this may be the beginning of the end of the Trump Administration.

Don’t blame Canada for Wisconsin’s dairy crisis

The Canadian news program The National, which airs on Canada’s public broadcaster CBC in Canada, recently did a feature story about the dairy crisis in Wisconsin, which President Donald Trump is trying to falsely blame on Canada and their policies regarding trade of ultra-filtered milk from the United States to Canada.

The CBC featured a pair of Wisconsin dairy farm families, the Sauer family of the Waterloo, Wisconsin area and the family of Sarah Lloyd and Nels Nelson of Columbia County. Having watched the video on the CBC website more than once, it’s inherently clear to me that overproduction, not international trade policies, are responsible for Wisconsin’s dairy crisis. Despite the real problems facing Wisconsin dairy, Trump has tried to blame Canada for the struggles that Wisconsin dairy farmers have faced, and it’s clear to me that Trump has no real understanding of how the dairy industry works.

Additionally, as farmer and Wisconsin Farmers Union (WFU) regional director Chris Holman stated on the WFU website, state government policies in Wisconsin have only made the overproduction problem in the Wisconsin dairy industry even worse, and have also led to fewer dairy farms producing more of Wisconsin’s milk:

Here in Wisconsin, state programs like the Grow Wisconsin Dairy 30×20 Initiative have made the situation even worse. Beyond pushing Wisconsin dairy farmers to reach 30 billion pounds of milk production by 2020, the initiative—with no sense of irony—provides grants “to improve the long-term viability of Wisconsin’s Dairy Industry.” If you dive into data from USDA and the Wisconsin Agricultural Statistic Service, we’ve lost 2,411 dairy farms since March 2012 when the 30 x 20 initiative was announced. That’s an average of almost 500 dairy farms per year. We are growing our production but it is being done by fewer and fewer, larger farms.

The Wisconsin Farmers Union is an organization that seeks to improve the quality of life of family farmers and rural communities in Wisconsin.

Trump can blame Canada and sing the Green Acres theme song all he wants, but it’s not going to change the fact that he doesn’t understand the real problems facing Wisconsin’s dairy farm families.

The GOP and the media don’t want you to know it, but it’s not over yet in Georgia

The winner of the special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District is…nobody! For congressional special elections, Georgia uses a two-round system in which all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, appear on the same ballot in the first round, and, if one candidate gets a majority of the first-round vote, that candidate wins, otherwise, a runoff election is held at a later date between the top two candidates, regardless of party affiliation. No candidate received a first-round majority, although Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff came only a couple thousand votes short of an outright victory, and Ossoff will face Republican candidate Karen Handel in a June 20 runoff.

The narrative from the Republicans and the corporate media is that they believe that Handel is going to win the runoff easily. Trump is touting a “BIG “R” win” on Twitter, even though nobody has won the election yet, and the runoff election is two months away.

Let me tell you this: the election in the 6th District of Georgia has only begun, and there are a number of reasons why:

  • Most pre-election opinion polling had Ossoff projected to receive somewhere around 40-45% of the vote in the first round. Ossoff received roughly 48% of the vote in the first round, slightly outperforming Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential election performance in most precincts in the 6th District of Georgia.
  • Handel might be the worst candidate for the Republicans to have sent to the runoff. She ran as not enough of a Trump loyalist for the Trump loyalist crowd in the first round, and now she’s trying to run as a Trump loyalist in the runoff. Also, Handel was the person who nearly destroyed the Susan G. Komen Foundation over her opposition to reproductive rights.
  • Trump is very unpopular among some voters in the 6th District of Georgia who had voted strongly Republican prior to November of last year; most of these voters voted for Ossoff in the first round of the 6th District special election.
  • Trump may campaign for Handel at some point before the June 20 runoff.

If you live in the 6th Congressional District of Georgia, vote for Jon Ossoff on June 20.

FACT: Hitler gassed his own people

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post quotes a Wikipedia article that includes a graphic description of atrocities that occurred as part of the Holocaust. Reader discretion is strongly advised.


The Jewish holiday of Passover began at sunset yesterday, and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer marked the occasion by saying this about the Holocaust:

White House press secretary Sean Spicer, in an effort to shame Russia’s alliance with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his use of chemical weapons, said Tuesday Adolf Hitler “didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons” during World War II.

While Hitler did not use chemical weapons on the battlefield, Hitler and the Nazis used gas chambers to exterminate Jews, disabled people and others.

Here’s the truth about the Nazis’ use of gas to kill millions of Jews, people of other ethnic groups, and disabled people as part of the Holocaust:

Starting in December 1939, the Nazis introduced new methods of mass murder by using gas. First, experimental gas vans equipped with gas cylinders and a sealed trunk compartment, were used to kill mental-care clients of sanatoria in Pomerania, East Prussia, and occupied Poland, as part of an operation termed Action T4. In the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, larger vans holding up to 100 people were used from November 1941, using the engine’s exhaust rather than a cylinder. These vans were introduced to the Chełmno extermination camp in December 1941, and another 15 of them were used by the Einsatzgruppen in the occupied Soviet Union. These gas vans were developed and run under supervision of the SS-Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reich Main Security Office) and were used to kill about 500,000 people, primarily Jews but also Romani and others. The vans were carefully monitored and after a month of observation a report stated that “ninety seven thousand have been processed using three vans, without any defects showing up in the machines”.

[…]

All prisoners arrived by train at the extermination camps of Operation Reinhard. At Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, and Majdanek, entire trainloads were sent straight to the gas chambers. At Auschwitz, the camp officials on duty subjected individuals to selections. A small percentage of new arrivals deemed fit to work were sent to slave labor; the majority were marched from the platforms to a reception area where all their clothes and other possessions were seized. They were then herded naked into the gas chambers. Usually they were told these were showers or delousing chambers, and there were signs outside saying “baths” and “sauna.” They were sometimes given a small piece of soap and a towel so as to avoid panic, and were told to remember where they had put their belongings for the same reason. When they asked for water because they were thirsty after the long journey in the cattle trains, they were told to hurry up, because coffee was waiting for them in the camp, and it was getting cold.

According to Rudolf Höss, commandant of Auschwitz, bunker 1 held 800 people, and bunker 2 held 1,200. Once the chamber was full, the doors were screwed shut and solid pellets of Zyklon-B were dropped into the chambers through vents in the side walls, releasing toxic HCN, or hydrogen cyanide. Those inside died within 20 minutes; the speed of death depended on how close the inmate was standing to a gas vent, according to Höß, who estimated that about one-third of the victims died immediately. Johann Kremer, an SS doctor who oversaw the gassings, testified that: “Shouting and screaming of the victims could be heard through the opening and it was clear that they fought for their lives.” When they were removed, if the chamber had been very congested, as they often were, the victims were found half-squatting, their skin colored pink with red and green spots, some foaming at the mouth or bleeding from the ears.

Sean Spicer has no clue of what he’s talking about. It’s an indisputable fact that Hitler gassed his own people. There might be differences between how Hitler and al-Assad used gas to kill their own people, but they both gassed their own people.

Is Trump considering resignation?

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele told the political news website West Wing Reports that President Donald Trump “will not finish his term”:

Claude Taylor, a travel photographer who was a White House staffer during the Bill Clinton administration, has publicly claimed that an independent journalist and two unnamed sources are saying that Trump is considering, among other options, resigning the presidency:

I’m inclined to believe that, despite Trump’s ties to the Vladimir Putin regime in Russia, his horrible relationship with fellow Republicans in Congress, the Trumpcare failure, his controversial political appointments, nepotism in the White House, and every other political controversy surrounding the Trump Administration that you can think of, Trump probably has no intention of resigning. For virtually Trump’s entire adult life, his modus operandi has been to get as wealthy and powerful by any means possible, and Trump would obviously lose a ton of power by resigning from the presidency. However, I could be very wrong about that.

Republic of Ireland PM slams Trump’s xenophobia in Trump’s presence

Since today is St. Patrick’s Day, a national holiday in the Republic of Ireland, I’ll share with you what the Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland, Enda Kenny, thinks of U.S. President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration policies:

“It’s fitting that we gather here each year to celebrate St. Patrick and his legacy,” Kenny said. “He, too, was an immigrant. And even though he is, of course, the patron saint of Ireland, for many people around the globe, he is also the symbol of — indeed, the patron of — immigrants.”

Kenny went on to explain that in past centuries, the Irish were “the retched refuse on the teeming shore,” who nonetheless “believed in the shelter of America, in the compassion of America, in the opportunity of America.”

Kenny said that while standing right next to Trump inside the White House:

Yes, Kenny’s claim of Saint Patrick being an immigrant is correct. Those who celebrate St. Patrick’s Day are celebrating a holiday named after an immigrant. Remember that.

IMPEACH SESSIONS

While under oath during his confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, then-U.S. Senator, and now-U.S. Attorney General, Jefferson Beauregard “Jeff” Sessions III claimed, “…I did not have contact with the Russians.”

As multiple media outlets are now reporting, Sessions did, in fact, have contact with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, on at least two occassions during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions met twice last year with the top Russian diplomat in Washington whose interactions with President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Mike Flynn led to Flynn’s firing, according to the Justice Department.

[…]

Sessions met with (Sergey) Kislyak twice, in July on the sidelines of the Republican convention, and in September in his office when Sessions was a member of the Senate Armed Services committee. Sessions was an early Trump backer and regular surrogate for him as a candidate.

Regardless of what type of communication took place between Sessions and Kislyak, two indisputable facts are important here. First, Sessions told a U.S. Senate committee that he “…did not have contact with the Russians”. Secondly, and contrary to Sessions’s statement under oath, there are at least two documented instances of Sessions meeting with the Russian ambassador to the United States during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

The fact that Sessions committed perjury during his confirmation hearing for U.S. Attorney General is grounds for impeachment. U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has called for Sessions to resign the office of U.S. Attorney General. I am not an attorney or a Member of Congress, but Sessions should either resign from office or face at least one impeachment charge (for perjury).

There is a serious anti-Semitism problem in America

The election of Donald Trump to our nation’s highest office has emboldened anti-Semitic extremists in America. Two recent example of this involves the desecration of Jewish cemeteries in the St. Louis, Missouri and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania areas.

Last week, vandals damaged dozens of headstones in Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University Park, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. More recently, a similar act of mass vandalism occurred in Philadelphia at Mount Carmel Cemetery. While I don’t believe in God or the afterlife, I view grave desecration as blatant disrespect to the deceased and something that I have zero tolerance for. I thank those who have assisted in repairing the damage done to the cemeteries in Missouri and Pennsylvania, especially to the Muslim community in America, which has raised funds for, and assisted in, repairing the damage done to the Jewish cemeteries.

On a related note, after narrowly losing the Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair race this weekend, Keith Ellison was picked by new DNC Chairman Tom Perez to be DNC Deputy Chairman. While many on the right, and some on the left, have smeared Ellison by trying to paint him as an anti-Semitic extremist, Ellison’s first act as deputy chair was to condemn the desecration of Jewish graves:

Even before the desecration of Jewish graves in Missouri and Pennsylvania, there have been incidents where American Jews have been threatened since Trump’s election. Prior to Trump’s inauguration, a neo-Nazi website called for an armed march against the Jewish community in Whitefish, Montana. That march was postponed, and a block party in defense of the Jewish community in Whitefish was attended by several hundred people.

I call on Donald Trump to, at his address to Congress tomorrow, strongly condemn threats, intimidation, violence, and vandalism against Jewish people and institutions in America.