Maine Writer

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Location: Topsham, MAINE, United States

My blogs are dedicated to the issues I care about. Thank you to all who take the time to read something I've written.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Tic Tac Toe and Trump's West Wing chaos

There's no joy in theTrumpzi transition. Frankly, it's dismal. Power struggles obviously are the plan of the day as Trump keeps his confidents guessing about who his new best friend might be to receive his favors. It's despicibly childish leadership. I'm embarassed for those who are falling victim to this cult chaos.
Reading this Vanity Fair essay reminds me of a dangerous cut thoat game of "tic tac toe". Nobody seems to know exactly where the
"x's and o's" are going to wind up.

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Who will win the dangerous power game of the day?  Moreover, what will happen when the administration's first crises occurs? It should give us all cause for alarm.

Another excellent Vanity Fair expose:

Throughout Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency, reports of rival factions and internecine conflicts have dogged the candidate. There were the old-timers—the Corey Lewandowskis and the Hope Hickses—who took the idea from what was largely a publicity stunt to one that actually started winning key Republican primaries toppling G.O.P. favorites like dominos. There were the new guns, too—Kellyanne Conway and Stephen Bannon (aka "Breitbart-barfcart") —who came in just as the campaign was careening off a cliff and managed to pull off a victory in November. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was in the mix, too, excising Chris Christie, who locked up his own father more than a decade ago, first from the short list of vice presidential candidates and then from his perch atop the transition team.

The in-fighting only deepened after the election, as Trump’s allies jockeyed for key roles within the administration. 

So, as the president-elect finalizes his appointments and fills out his West Wing, it appears as though he hasn’t made choices that will bring peace to these warring factions once they officially move to Washington.

One of the divides within the new administration is along that same “new” verses “old” fault line. Trump named Hicks, who handled a barrage of media requests throughout the campaign, and his social media advisor Dan Scavino to similar posts within his communications team in the White House. 

According to Politico, other longtime aides are concerned that they are being put on ice while newer flavors of the month catch Trump’s attention. Lewandowski, for one, is starting a lobbying shop instead of getting a gig at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. (This sounds like ass kissing 101, in my opinion.)

Another rift appears to be with members of the Republican establishment, like chief of staff Reince Priebus and newly-named press secretary Sean Spicer, and Bannon (aka "Brietbart-barfcart"), who is credited with fueling the populist, drain the swamp movement that helped spur Trump to victory. 

Adding Conway as his counselor, in line with Priebus and Bannon (aka "Brietbart-barfcart") in stature, means that there are now three competing visions for America competing for Trump’s ear all the way at the top.

It doesn’t help matters that Goldman Sachs president and C.O.O. Gary Cohn, who was tapped to head the National Economic Council earlier this month, is reportedly rising within the ranks, either. According to New York Magazine, Cohn has become an “influential voice” within Trump Tower and now enjoys “walk-in” privileges with the president elect, allowing him to show up to bend Trump’s ear when he right well feels like it. (In other words, Donald Trump has hired a "brain" because he's incapable of thinking for himself.)

This, New York reports, is not sitting well with both the G.O.P. establishment and the populist wing within Team Trump. Cohn, who has supported both Republicans and Democrats with all his Goldman money, is viewed as not conservative enough. And as one of the highest-ranking officials at one of the most offending institutions, the Trump faction intent of draining the swamp lights up when he comes around. (The “vampire squid” is exactly the kind of swamp creature they want to expunge, or say they do, anyway). Insiders told the magazine that should Priebus, the former head of the Republican National Committee, not work out in his role as chief of staff, Cohn could step into his shoes. (Oh joy....isn't Reince in an enviable position? "Not!")

And then there is Kushner, slightly removed from the muck, elevated by his family ties and blind loyalty, though his relationship with Cohn and Conway offers them a valuable shield as the battles ensue.

It is not a bad thing to have conflicting view points within the administration, especially when some of the views are as extreme as they appeared to be in the run-up. But there is a fine line between a “team of rivals” and plain old rivals, and office sabotage in the White House has consequences that reach well beyond typical break-room squabbles. There is enough for the president elect to figure out, enough fires to put out, without having to manage insecurities among his staff. There is really only room for one ego in the Oval Office, and in this particular administration, that ego doesn’t tend to tolerate other egos very well. 

Priebus can cross Bannon, Bannon can cross Cohn, Conway can cross them all. But if all that criss-crossing cuts off their boss, it is hard to imagine they will make it out of this war alive.

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Twitter and treason- #DJT praises dictator

Reluctantly, giving Donald Trump one nod of intuitiveness, he certainly understands the power of "Twitter". On the other hand, he never learned the power of the science of physics. "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction". (Newton's Third Law)

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Sir Isaac Newton - "for every action there is a reaction" (especially in Twitter language)

When Donald Trump usese the enormous "megaphone-microphone" of Twitter, he causes a volcanic reaction to every word he posts on the micro-blogging site. In fact, the volcanic ash he unleashes is akin to "toxic language waste"- or, in Twitter toungue it's #TLW.

Now,  @realDonaldTrump has a new "best friend" or #BF, being Russia's former KGB agent turned dictator, Vladimir Putin. In response, the Twitter posts in #TLW, posted in reaction to their international love fest, has been the accusation of "treason". I guess in an international diplomatic twitter equation, the action and reaction would look like this:  #Trump + #Putin / #TLW = Treason.

TS DOWN OVER “TREASON” AFTER TRUMP PRAISES PUTIN- The president-elect called Putin, whose government was just censured by the Obama administration for acts of cyber-war, “very smart.”- by Maya Kosoff
Donald Trump found himself in a precarious position Thursday after President Barack Obama imposed additional sanctions on Russia for its alleged efforts to interfere with the U.S. election, and in an even more awkward spot when Russian president Vladimir Putin responded Friday by refraining from any reciprocal retaliatory action—apparently awaiting friendlier relations with the incoming administration. But instead of standing with the current U.S. president, Trump decided to use his platform to praise the former K.G.B. official, who is believed to have personally orchestrated multiple acts of cyber-warfare against the country Trump will soon lead.

On Friday afternoon, Trump did two things in response to Putin’s decision not to retaliate against U.S. diplomats in Russia. 

First, he tweeted a response celebrating the intelligence of the Russian president. “Great move on delay (by V. Putin) - I always knew he was very smart!,” the future leader of the free world wrote to his 18 million followers

Second, after tweeting his pro-Kremlin missive, Trump pinned the tweet to his profile, ensuring it is the first thing seen by anyone viewing his account. It appears to be the first time Trump has ever used the feature. (This is unacceptable! It looks like an American dictator praising an undemocratic tyrant!)

Third-party candidate Evan McMullin, who has been vocal in his opposition of Trump, tweeted his displeasure. 

"To be clear, @realDonaldTrump is siding with America's greatest adversary even as it attacks our democracy. Never grow desensitized to this." …
3:18 PM - 30 Dec 2016

During the campaign, Trump repeatedly vowed to improve relations with Russia, and since the election has dismissed allegations that the former Soviet nation was responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee or the Clinton campaign. On Thursday, in the wake of Obama’s retaliatory measures against Russia, Trump issued a short, terse statement without ever saying the name of the country in question. “It’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things,” he said. 
(Excuse me @realDonaldTrump but our patriotic nation spends trillions monitoring the adversarial situation with Russia with good reasons- Russia is a nuclear power that has expressed intentions of world domination!- OMG, where is the ghost of Ronald Reagan?)

That has put Trump in a difficult position with the G.O.P., which has historically been aligned against Russia, but has recently found itself having to defend Trump’s perplexing compulsion to praise Putin at every turn. As some on Twitter noted, Trump’s most recent burst of affection for the Russian autocrat is not likely to make things easier for his Republican allies on Capitol Hill, who are already faced with the unenviable task of confirming Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, ExxonMobil C.E.O. Rex Tillerson, who has extensive business ties to Russia and a close personal relationship with Putin.

Obviously, Donald Trump has no understanding of how former KGB operatives are trained in cunning diplomacy. Vladimir Putin has coopted our national election and, in so doing, created a leader with treasonous leanings for the United States of America. #Trump_must_go ! Trumpis is clearly unqualified to lead.

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Friday, December 30, 2016

Tumultuous political transition amid "Amazing Grace"

Certainly, the ear piercing clamour for the Trump leadership team is like listening to an out of tune piano. Will somebody please stop this nightmarish political cacophany?

Amazing Grace with lyrics

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Meanwhile, in the midst of the chaos and the sickening "after you Hortense" dance between Donald Trump and Russian Vladimir Putin, there is "Amazing Grace", in the departure of our First Family, the beautiful Obama's.  It's sad to realize how  they will no longer be our nation's first family, especially because there is no known entity who we can identify with who are replacing them.  A Trumpzi "sleep over" at the White House lacks style, grace and credibility.

Thankfullly, Joe Klein wrote an appropriate tribute to the Obama family, in his "Amazing Grace" back page opinion in the December 19, 2016. issue of "Time". 

TIME- Eight years ago, toward the end of the 2008 presidential campaign, Michelle Obama asked me, “Klein, are you going to write a book like Primary Colors about us?” referring to my satirical novel about the 1992 campaign. I spluttered a bit; the thought had never occurred to me. Her husband started to laugh. “Klein can’t write a book like that about us,” he said. “We’re too boring.”

That was nonsense, of course. The first African-American President of the United States was never going to be boring. 

But Obama was right, too. There would be little melodrama and absolutely no hint of scandal during his time in office. The conservative fever swamps would be no less pustulent than they were during the Clinton presidency–indeed, the level of race-based hatemongering was frightening–but somehow the Obamas never let it get to them. They radiated a sense of militant normality, a mother-knows-best family on the world’s brightest stage. 

The First Lady let the White House staff know that Sasha and Malia would make their own beds. The President went up to the residence for family dinner most nights. The First Lady planted a vegetable garden. She gave her husband grief when he got too full of himself.

When the President received the Nobel Peace Prize, he was asked to sign his name and leave a brief message in the same book that previous recipients, like Albert Schweitzer and Martin Luther King Jr., had signed. Obama sat before the book and, in his precise, architectural left-handed script, began to write and write … and write. Finally, Michelle intervened: “Honey, are you writing a book?”

Their physical, emotional and intellectual grace was daunting. They never lost their cool in public. He controlled a supersharp sense of irony; he was never harsh. He made plenty of mistakes, as all Presidents do. He declared a “red line” in Syria and did nothing when it was crossed. He did not pretend to like the social ceremonies of politics; he despised flattery. I once asked a top aide why the President didn’t invite his opponents over to the White House for a drink or a movie more often and was told, “He believes they’d see right through it.” True enough, but there isn’t a soul in Washington who isn’t thrilled by an invitation to the White House.

The impact of the Obamas on American culture was subtle but substantial. In the Klein household these days, Dad is reading a book (Sapiens, by the Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari) that the President included in his list of 10 essential books, while the kids are watching the First Lady’s epic Carpool Karaoke and the whole family dances together to the President’s daytime playlist. The Obamas demonstrated that you can get down without losing your dignity. Their tastes were an eclectic combination of high and low: her sophisticated and never-errant fashion sense; his unabashed love of ESPN and late-adopted passion for golf.

He will be remembered for his eulogies, the terrible skein of laments over the bodies of American citizens murdered. He could convey a cathartic sadness, and the potential for uplift, in the face of tragedy. His most perfect moment came at the funeral of the Charleston, S.C., churchgoers who had been killed by a sick white man. The families of the dead had already forgiven the shooter–a stupendous act, but not uncommon in the black church and the African-American experience. How to respond to that? Words couldn’t cover it … so he sang “Amazing Grace,” a moment of bravado, humility and passion entwined.

Boring? Not for a moment. Thank you, Mr. President and First Lady, for leading us so elegantly.

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

As the Trump turns- living in litigation

Trump cult alert! Making American great again apparantly means litigation lawyers will thrive!

Image result for lawsuit graphic
Reporters assigned to follow Trumpzi lawsuits might be unavailable to report administration news.  Instead, Americans will be subject to an endless serial of "as the Trump turns"- at taxpayer expense.

Honestly? If there's one constant theme in the repetoire of Republican ideology, that would be the conceptual "theme of hypocrisy".  And the litany continues.  In fact, there was a time when Republicans harbored complete disdain for all things tainted by litigation. Of course, that doesn't seem to be a problem anymore, not on the dance card of @realdonaldtrump in Twitter land. Now, the Trump administration will more than likely spend our tax money on litigation for the myriad of lawsuits he faces.  

Trumponian's transition to Trumpzism is an endless nightmare. Everything Republicans once convinced Americans they believed in, the concepts like honesty, truthfulness, integrity, maitial fidelity and a bunch of other self rightious concepts, not to mention "Christianity", they're all gone into "short term memory loss". Apparantly, anything Trumponian is okay, regardless of what Christian or family values happen to be trampled upon. 

Litigation is now okay so long as the taxpayers are funding the legal bills. This is the highest level of Republican hypocrisy.

This is a CNN Politics report:

Trump lawsuits to watch in 2017: by Laura Jarrett

(CNN) Donald Trump is not afraid of litigation.
During the presidential campaign alone, Trump threatened to sue sexual assault accusers, The New York Times for publishing Trump's tax returns and the accounts of two sexual assault accusers, 
Ted Cruz over his citizenship, and those who created a "nasty" attack ad suggesting he did not support military veterans.

None of these disputes ever materialized into an actual lawsuit -- at least not yet -- but Trump has several pending cases sitting on dockets in federal and state courts across the country as he prepares to be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.

Trump recently ended his dispute with certain labor unions and former students of Trump University. Other cases -- such as the former refugee who sued Trump for copyright infringement over a Skittles tweet or the breach of contract claim brought by a kids' dancing troupe -- went away more quietly, with the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissing complaints earlier this month.
But several remaining lawsuits do not appear anywhere close to resolution -- leaving the soon-to-be-president not only exposed to potential financial liability, but facing a deposition or even trial once in office. Here's a rundown of some of the more interesting cases:

Restaurant deals gone wrong
Jose Andrés and Geoffrey Zakarian pulled out of agreements to open restaurants in Trump's Washington hotel following Trump's 2015 reference to some Mexican immigrants as "rapists." Trump sued the chefs for breach of contract, seeking over $10 million in damages apiece, and they countersued.

Trump was deposed in the Zakarian suit and is now slated to be deposed the first week of January in the Andrés case.
Andrés suggested on Twitter that the parties bring their lawsuit to an end, but so far Trump has not responded publicly.

Security issues at rallies

During the campaign, Trump referred to his rallies as the "safest place on Earth," but he faces a number of active lawsuits from those who claim to have experienced threats or violence at the hands of his security and campaign teams.

In March, three protestors claimed they were called derogatory names, shoved and punched at a rally in Louisville, Kentucky, after Trump directed the audience to "get 'em out of here." The plaintiffs have filed a complaint against Trump and two of his supporters, Trump's attorneys have filed a motion to dismiss the case, but the judge has yet to rule. Plaintiffs' attorney Greg Belzley told CNN that if the judge denies Trump's motion to dismiss, he will seek to depose the incoming president.

In a separate lawsuit, two men in Alabama sued the Trump campaign, several of his security personnel and the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Center, alleging in the complaint that they were "assaulted and beaten by an angry mob that had been incited by Donald J. Trump" at a rally in Birmingham.

In September, five Mexican human rights activists filed suit against Trump, his campaign and his chief of security, Keith Schiller, among others. The plaintiffs allege that Trump security officials, namely Schiller, assaulted them as they protested outside of Trump Tower in New York. Trump has not been deposed in the case and no trial date has been set.

Finally, a former Trump campaign staffer claims that Trump's North Carolina State Director pulled a gun on him, and the campaign did nothing about it after the staffer reported the incident. Described in the complaint as a "passionate" Trump supporter, Vincent Bordini sued the Trump campaign and Earl Phillip, the state director, in August, asserting several causes of action, including battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent supervision. A trial date has been set for July and the parties remain in discovery.

Complaints at Trump's golf clubs

Trump currently faces multiple suits related to his golf clubs.
One dates back to 2013 in which members of the Jupiter Golf Club claim they were stripped of their refundable deposits after Trump's company acquired The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club & Spa Jupiter in Florida and changed the terms of membership. Both Donald and Eric Trump were deposed in the matter, it went to trial before a judge in August, and the parties are awaiting a ruling.

In an unrelated case, a woman filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Jupiter in June, alleging she endured persistent unwelcome advances from the Food and Beverage Director of the club, and was then retaliated against for reporting him. The parties have submitted a joint scheduling order proposing a December 2017 trial date in that matter.

Then there is the case of a former maintenance worker at the Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey who claimed he faced intense harassment after coming out to his co-workers as gay, including having golf balls and rocks "routinely" thrown at him, according to court papers.

Melania v. Daily Mail
The soon-to-be First Lady has not shied away from lawsuits herself. Last fall, Melania Trump threatened to sue People magazine for an article accusing her husband of forcing himself on a reporter.

Then in September, she sued the Daily Mail for defamatory statements about her supposedly having been an "escort" in the 1990s. The paper printed a retraction, but the lawsuit appears to be moving full steam ahead, with Melania Trump seeking $150 million in damages and even making an in-person appearance at a routine court hearing earlier this month.

The next status conference in the case is scheduled for January 27 -- just one week after Donald Trump's inauguration.

Maine Writer wants to know? What happened to those dyed in the wool Republicans who once despised litigation?  Those were the "pre-hypocrisy" times, back in the day. Obviously, Donald Trump intends to make American litigation attorneys "great again".

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Christian Scripture isn't connecting with behavior

It's impossible to understand how Christian can support Donald Trump when the man can't even pronounce the word "Corinthian" plus the rhetoric he spews flies in the face of the Beatitudes as preached by Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount. We must provide for the poor and the weak and protect the elderly. Now, what I'm reading in the main stream media, is how Republicans want to erode our senior citizens nest eggs and force us to spend our nest eggs so we can drive the economy while the rich receive big tax cuts. They propose to do this by driving up the cost of Medicare, eliminating Medicaid and preventing Americans from receiving Social Security cost of living increases.
Image result for graphic of rich man feeding the poor
Donald Trump was born into privilege but he has no concept of how to share this benefit with others. He's like the equvilent of Marie Antoinetttem, when she inappropriately asked why hungry French citizens couldn't just eat cake, if they had no bread? An incredulous and non sensical response to the doomsday reality surrounding her.

Just as Luke requires, in Scripture, Chaper 12 verse 48: "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required; and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more."

In other words, Donald Trump and his administration must provide for the health and welfare of all Americans, regardless of our socio-economic, religious, or ethnic affiliations and status. It's require! Because the Marie Antointette metaphor isn't going to work today anymore than her reaction did back in 1789, when she was supposed to have made the fateful remark.

Christian who supported Donald Trump simply because he pandered to the right wing mantra about abortion (with no particular convictions of his own on this subject) are selling all of us down the tube into a path of austerity. Democrats must fight back because it's essential for us to protect our assets from being stolen by greedy Republicans for the sake of sustaining an economy they want that works just for themselves.

Indeed, Christians who voted for Donald Trump can't quote even one Scriptureal text that refers to abortion. Yet, there are many Biblical references and direct statements made about tbe requirement to provide for the health and welfare of others.

Christians love to quote Scripture but many, obviously, have a very difficult time understanding the meanings behind the words they so self rightiously memorize.  

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"Puff" pieces about Trump full of dark smoke

What will Kellyanne Conway be getting paid for if she can't even produce one puff piece about this caustic Trump transition?

In my experience, the time between the transition in American leadership is loaded with the news media reports about the "puff" in the lives of both the incoming and outgoing administrations. This is the time when we learn about the kind of food the new administration enjoys or what hobbies they might  have had before entering political life. Ha! Not in 2016!  Rather, every news story I'm reading is an exacerbation of the brutal campaign.  Trump followers are still as mean spirited and threatening as ever on the social media (especially on Twitter)  and the tone of the election has not changed. In fact, the nation is more divided than ever before, at least, that's what I'm seeing.  
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Rather than "puff" the media is responding to an endless stream of Trumzi dark smoke.

Where are the "puff" pieces?  Rather than puff, we're seeing a never ending stream of political "black smoke". In my opinion, these are signals about the scary leadership we can expect to see from a Trumponian "Trumpzi" administration. There was terror in Trump Towers when even a bag of toys left unattended was suspected as having "intentions of unknown origin". There was certainly no "puff" in the widespread panicked people fleeing from a bag of toys in the lobby of  New York City's Trump Towers.

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Toys caused panic at Trump Towers

Indeed, I'm afraid of Donald Trump's leadership. Moreover, I'm among many millions of others who feel the same way because Donald Trump has already shown America what kind of a person he is and it's not "compassionate conservatism".

Adding to the fog of smoke in the Trump transition are the annoying comments by Kellyanne Conway who has been given a prestigious role in the incoming administration. It's going to be impossible to accept anything Donald Trump says when Kellyanne Conway is his microphone. Imagine, the inevitable first adminisgtration crises when Conway has to re-explain what Trump said or didn't say. I predict it's going to be communications chaos 24/7. In fact, Kellyanne Conway will hardly ever get any sleep when she will obviously have to stay awake to monitor Trump's middle of the night Twitter tirades.

Sadly, there's no "puff" in the Trump transition because the entire campaign to elect him was full of hot air. Frankly, the only "puff" we can report is in response to the smoke and mirrors that Trump posts on Twitter.

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Monday, December 26, 2016

Trump creates a picture "tale of two Christmases"

President Obama and family posted an elegant Christmas picture as their greeting to the nation.  

Sadly and inappropriately, Donald Trump did not.

As though  Democrats need yet another chilling reminder of the abrasive and combative style of the Donald Trump political brand! Unfortunately, the Trump Christmas message posted on Twitter was as divisive as anything I've ever seen, even from a white supremisicst with Nazi sympathies.

Perhaps, Cardinal Timothy Dolan might want to take two asperin or some prefered headache treatment before considering what kind of January 20th prayer he will deliver in the presence of Donald Trump, a person who uses Christmas to exploit his tyrannical stature without regard for the peaceful message of the season. 

Obviously, Donald Trump had no intention of spreading peace when he gave a defiant pose in his creepy holiday Twitter message.

Contrast the beautiful photo posted by President Obam and family:

Thank you President Barack Obama and family for this peacefull beautiful message.

Contrast this:
Grinch Trump

Honestly, I can't help thinking about Donald Trump's mother, Mary Anne MacLeod Trump, and how she certainly taught her son much better manner than to create defiance and more division on Christmas. She did not raise her son to deliberately create the mirror image of himself as a reminder of Adolf Hitler. 

The photographs create a tale of two Christmases. Donald Trump, prefers to  post a chilling harbinger of Christmases yet to come. #ScroogeAlert

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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Cardinal Timothy Dolan prayer by Juliana L'Heureux

Begin with an excerpt from Paul's letters to the Corinthians, so Donald Trump can hear how the word is correctly pronouned- in other words, like "Co·rin·thi·an".

History will record Cardinal Timothy Dolan as the first American Roman Catholic ecclesiastic leader, since Cardinal Cushing spoke at the 1961 inauguration of John F. Kennedy, to be invited to provide an invocation at the January 20th ceremonies, planned for Donald Trump and the administration's transition.  
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Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York

In 1961, at the Kennedy inaugural, Cardinal Cushing gave a 12 minute invocation.  

Frankly, I don't understand why Cardinal Dolan would accept this invitation because, doing so, indicates a tacit endorsement of Donald Trump, who has bullied his way throughout the presidential election.  Nevertheless, Cardinal Dolan will join colleagues from the inauguration of Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy, thereby creating a trio of Roman Catholic leaders, to have this podium. Therefore, my direction to Cardinal Dolan is to use this opportunity on January 20th to create an "educable moment". 

In other words, give advice in the context of prayer.

Here's my version for Cardinal Dolan to consider in a 12 minute invocation, whereby he can give Donald Trump a leadership 101 lesson. Of course, it goes without saying, the Cardinal can edit this text as he sees fit to do so.

To begin, I recommend a reading from Corinthians 13:   
"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

After that, I'd offer a refresher about the Beatitudes often called The Sermon on the Mount:

The eight Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3–12 during the Sermon on the Mount.[4][5]

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. 
(Reach out to the poor those who cannot afford health care or are struggling to live on minimum wage.)

Blessed are those who mourn: for they will be comforted. (Comfort the immigrants who need and pray for safety.)

Blessed are the meek: for they will inherit the earth. 
(Practice humility while demonstrating leadership.)

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be filled. 
(Support the Freedoms provided for Americans in the US Constitution including Freedom of Speech.)

Blessed are the merciful: for they will be shown mercy. 
(Be open to criticism and ideas that may be contrary to your own.)

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they will see God. 
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they will be called children of God. 
(Demonstrate compassion for people who may insult you.)

(Prevent nuclear war and armed conflict whenever and wherever possible.)

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
(Allow for all of God's creation to prosper.)

Remember the parable told in Matthew 20:
Image result for graphic of Matthew 20
The first shall come last; and the last shall be first, parable.

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius (wage) for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

“About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.

“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

“‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

“But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

To end, therefore, remember your responsibilities as our political leaders which are to treat all Americans equally and fairly regardless of our social status, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or abilities. We are one Nation Under God.


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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Donald Trump cult following

“having a dialogue”- most useless of bromides (Taylor in The Boston Globe)
Good opinion piece in The Boston Globe- Trump followers appear to be proud of what they don't know.- By Charles Taylor

There’s no shame in not knowing; there’s shame in not wanting to know.

For years I’ve said this to my college students as a way of telling them that learning should never stop. 
President-elect Donald Trump at a rally at the Wisconsin State Fair Exposition Center  earlier this week.
Donald Trump will never make America great again unless he stops his caustic #Twitter rhetoric and behaves like a leader. 

But, Taylor writes, "I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that, at a certain point, there should be shame in not knowing."

What brought me to this point? Too many students unaware of anything before they were born: creative-writing students who have never heard of Edith Wharton or Ralph Ellison; journalism students who can’t identify the attorney general; students who don’t know what the NAACP or the Geneva Convention are. A teacher’s job is to teach, not shame. But how do you teach when, even when they reach college, students are not expected to have basic knowledge of our history, our culture, our government?

I raise this because in the weeks since the presidential election, in the guise of tolerance and understanding and that most useless of bromides, “having a dialogue,” we are being told that there should be no shame in not knowing. The emerging narrative of this election is that Donald Trump was elected by people who are sick of being looked down on by liberal elites. The question the people pushing this narrative have not asked is this: Were the elites, based on the facts, demonstrably right?
Although cable television and the Internet can be a haven for misinformation, they also make responsible journalism available to a wider audience than ever before. 

It’s not like the facts about the candidates were somehow unavailable to voters in red states. Despite the mainstream media’s craven narrative of two equally untrusted candidates — an approach which declined to say in what case distrust was matched by actual duplicity — the facts were available to prove that the charges of Clinton’s lying and Trump’s business genius were both the sheerest fictions. 

That Trump voters chose an easily disprovable myth over readily available facts is one sign of their willful ignorance.

And still this imperviousness to fact pales next to the racism and xenophobia and misogyny — in other words, the moral ignorance — that Trump’s supporters wallowed in. All of the condescension of which liberals have been accused can’t begin to match the condescension of the current story line that Trump voters are too disenfranchised or despised or dismissed to be held morally responsible for their choices. It’s an insult to these salt-of-the-earth types, we’re told, to think they acted out of racism. You must understand, the pundits say: They resent being told they are dinosaurs, they fear their lifestyle is passing away.

And if their way of life means believing that Confederate flags are not a celebration of treason, or means being indignant that the Constitution does not protect a baker who refuses to work for gay customers or a pharmacist who refuses to fill a prescription for birth control, well then, their apologists say, we must sympathize.

Time was when battered women were told by police or by their priests that they must try not to antagonize their abusive husbands. That is exactly how Americans of color, gay Americans, undocumented immigrants, and women are now being addressed: They’re being told they must respect people who believe they have the right to jail, deport, or beat — if not yet kill — anyone who makes them uncomfortable. Because, of course, unlike the black or brown or queer people on the coasts, those Trump voters are the real America. (This is the right wing #Twitter world in a nutshell.)

The apologists for Donald Trump voters have given their imprimatur to a culture that equates knowledge and expertise with elitism, a culture ignorant of the history of the country it professes to love and contemptuous of the content of its founding documents. Trump said his campaign would prove the experts wrong. He was right. The Trump supporters who in the last few weeks have contributed to the sudden surge in hate crimes, often invoking the name of their candidate, have shown, much more than the experts, they understand exactly what his candidacy was about.

Charles Taylor teaches writing at New York University. His book “Opening Wednesday at a Theater or Drive-In Near You” will be published in spring 2017.

Maine Writer footnote:  A cult following characteristic is to never question the perceived omnipotence of the fake leader.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Republicans and the fraudulent election

What bothers me most is wondering why the media didn't demand to see the email search warrant? USAToday reports.

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Legal experts who have examined the FBI search warrant determined not enough evidence to warrant the Clinton laptop investigation.

Republicans must examine their wrong minded support for the Republican Donald Trump, in light of evidence about how the Russian government interfered with the pre-election information by hacking the Democratic National Committee (DNC) email and releasing damaging confidential data of no importance to the campaign. Moreover, there is more reason to declare the 2016 election as fraudulent, evident in that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Director James Comey had no reason to issue a search warrant for Hillary Clinton's personal laptop. Most important, now that we have been informed about how President Obama in fact used the highly sensitive "red phone" to warn the Russians not to interfere in the American elections, the fact is that Americans were not told about this high level communication. We should have been told. Ironically, President Obama goes into history as being the first US president to use the so called "red phone". It's a legacy he can now own; but Americans weren't told, at the time. Finally, it turns out, Hillary Clinton won the election's popular vote by a significant margin. In fact, the Electoral College numbers don't correlate positively with the math in the final vote tallies.

There's absolutely a lot of screwiness about the 2016 election.  

WASHINGTON — The FBI warrant that shook Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign in its final two weeks has been unsealed, and the lawyer who requested it says it offers "nothing at all" to merit the agency's actions leading up to the Nov. 8, election.

The warrant was released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by Los Angeles lawyer Randy Schoenberg, who wants to determine what probable cause the agency provided to suspect material on disgraced congressman Anthony Weiner’s computer might be incriminating to Clinton. Weiner is the estranged husband of Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin. Under the Fourth Amendment, search and seizure can only be granted when proof of probable cause of criminal findings has been documented.

The letter confirms news reports in late October that the FBI had detected “non-content header information” suggesting correspondence with accounts involved in its already-completed investigation of Clinton's private email server. The FBI request concludes there is “probable cause to believe” that the laptop contained “evidence, contraband, fruits and/or items illegally possessed."

Yet the documents show the FBI request was based on the presence of classified information on previous emails chains between Clinton and Abedin and no new evidence on the laptop at issue.

"I see nothing at all in the search warrant application that would give rise to probable cause, nothing that would make anyone suspect that there was anything on the laptop beyond what the FBI had already searched and determined not to be evidence of a crime, nothing to suggest that there would be anything other than routine correspondence between" Clinton and Abedin, Schoenberg said in an email to USA TODAY. It remains unknown "why they thought they might find evidence of a crime, why they felt it necessary to inform Congress, and why they even sought this search warrant," he said. "I am appalled." The FBI's Manhattan office did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Clinton campaign officials echoed Schoenberg's complaints Tuesday. Campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said on Twitter that the "unsealed filings regarding Huma's emails reveals Comey's intrusion on the election was as utterly unjustified as we suspected at time."

Just two days before the November 8 election, Director James Comey "covered his ass" by releasing a statement to end the investigation into the Clinton email "Where's Waldo" search.

WASHINGTON — In a stunning last-minute announcement, FBI director James Comey said Sunday the agency is still not recommending charges against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton after reviewing newly discovered emails.

In a letter to lawmakers, Comey said the FBI is standing by its original findings, made in July, that Clinton should not be prosecuted for her handling of classified information over email as secretary of State.

"The FBI investigative team has been working around the clock to process and review a large volume of emails from a device obtained in connection with an unrelated criminal investigation," Comey said in the letter. "During that process we reviewed all of the communications that were to or from Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of State," Comey wrote. "Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton."
In other words, the Republican campaign to defeat Secretary Hillary Clinton in 2016, was based on lies, fake news, illegal interference in the Democratic National Committee communications and a bogus "witch hunt" led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation into a "non-issue" with Hillary Clinton's email server.  Nevertheless, Republicans wrongly continue to claim an election victory they never legitimately earned. This is a horrible time for America and proves, in my mind, that Republicans have no interest in protecting and defending our US Constitution.  Unfortunately, many in the news media, particularly the ratings hungry "Morning Joe", "Mitchell Reports" (aka "Andrea Mitchell") and "FoxNews", are more interested in creating news than in reporting about the facts. Otherwise, they would have demanded to see the FBI search warrant before the election.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

You Go Bill Clinton! Speaking truth about Trump's steep learning curve

Bill Clinton says Trump "doesn't know much" (ya'think?)

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but Donald Trump certainly doesn't want to hear this overwhelming truth.

Thank you President Bill Clinton for revealing how Donald Trump is the proverbial "wanna be 'Emporer with no cloths'"!
Image result for Trump is the emperor without clothes picture

(CNN) President Bill Clinton says President-elect Donald Trump "doesn't know much," but that "one thing he does know is how to get angry, white men to vote for him," according to a local paper near the Clintons' New York home.
In comments to the weekly Bedford and Pound Ridge Record-Review, Clinton veered between defiance and bitterness while discussing the 2016 election -- blaming FBI director James Comey for his wife's defeat, and urging voters to "stay vigilant, stay alert" and "see where this changing political reality takes us."

"James Comey, the audacious FBI Director, is what cost her the election," Clinton said during a lengthy conversation, according to the paper. He argued that "we were seven points up" in polls and on track to win, before the FBI director made an 11th-hour announcement that the bureau's probe into Hillary Clinton's email use as Secretary of State was being reexamined in light of potential new evidence.

The FBI never changed its conclusion that Clinton shouldn't be punished related to her email use, but Bill Clinton said the high-profile focus on the story so close to the election inflicted significant damage on the campaign.

According to the Record-Review, Clinton suggested the confusion created by Comey's announcement lead voters to not knowing what information to trust, and that not enough was made of the fact that the FBI boss said days later there was no new evidence of illegal activity.

Asked about the role played in the election by Russian hacking, the former president said that "you would have to have a single-digit IQ not to recognize what was going on."

Later, Clinton marveled at Trump's tone during a phone call the day after the election, saying that Trump acted "like it was 15 years ago," when he was still friendly with the family.

Still, despite Trump's overtures, Clinton seemed less inclined to let bygones be bygones, slipping in a dig at Trump's claim that he won a "landslide" victory. "Landslide? I got something like 370 electoral votes. That was a landslide," he said.

Speaking to reporters in Albany on Monday after casting his Electoral College vote for his wife, Clinton addressed the reasons why he thought she lost the election.

"I watched her work for two years, I watched her battle through that bogus email deal, be vindicated at the end when Secretary Powell came out -- she fought through that, she fought through everything," he said. "She prevailed against it all. But at the end, she had the Russians and the FBI deal. She couldn't prevail against that. She did everything else and still won by 2.8 million votes."

Of course, FoxNews reported how Donald Trump defended himself on Twitter against the obvious implication about being "stupid".  Well, @realDonaldTrump, if you were really smart, the right thing to do would be to acknowledge the popular vote loss and to call an end to the use of the Electoral College in determining the US Presidential Elections. Obviously, nothing will change the outcome of your unethical election result, but you could save future generations from being subject to this wrong minded way of declaring a national leader.

In fact, Donald Trump has a lot to learn; but he's just not smart enough to realize it yet.

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Monday, December 19, 2016

Aleppo and Cambodia

Frankly, when my husband and I visited Cambodia in 2011, we were both surprised when our guide explained the reason the evil Khmer Rouge gained such a stranglehold on the nation during their reign of terror, known as the "Killing Fields". She told us the massive slaughters of Cambodians by their own people, led by a cruel dictator named Po Pot (1925-1998), happened because the United States left Vietnam in chaos and the Khmer Rouge filled the void in Cambodia. This logic was beyond my understanding. Weren't the Cambodia people victimized by the leader Po Pot and his followers? I didn't think the Americans had much, if anything, to do with his murderous campaign.  
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Po Pot, leader of the Khmer Rouge (1925-1998)

Well, now CNN is reporting that the lack of US involvement in Syria has, likewise, led to a leadership vacuum in the Middle East and this resulted in the tragic fall of Aleppo.  

When the US steps back, terrible actors fill the void
Barack Obama became president vowing to extricate the United States from the Middle East. He tried to stay out of Syria and even sounded proud of it. His failure to act even after warning of a "red line" if Assad used chemical weapons -- which Assad has continued to do -- sent a signal to other powers that the field was open. The vacuum created by the US was quickly filled by Russia, Iran and Arab governments. Now, we see not only the calamity of Aleppo, but hundreds of thousands killed, millions of refugees in Europe, the rise of the extreme anti-immigrant right and the empowering of Russia and Iran. Obama's policy did not just fail. It allowed this worst-case scenario to materialize.

Huh? Well, these two logic scenarios just don't make any sense. Obviously, I'm not an international scholar, but in both tragedies, the carnage was caused by the nation's governments turning on its own people. Po Pot was Cambodian- he murdered millions of Cambodians. Similarly, President Assad, the evil leader of Syria, is murdering millions of his nation's citizens.

In both tragedies, the risk of intervening in Cambodia or, decades later, in  Syria, would have had the same consequences. In other words, to prevent both massacres, the weird logic called for Americans to be interventionists. When Cambodian people became victims of Po Pot, they had the power, by sheer numbers, to destroy the evil man. Eventually, the Vietnamese army intervened in Cambodia to end the carnage, but only one person was ever tried and executed for the Khmer Rouge terror. Unbelievably, even Po Pot died in a hospital, albeit under somewhat mysterious circumstances.  

In Syria, one man is responsible for the genocide of millions of his own people. Although Assad is propped up by Russian President Putin, the fact is, the 12.5 million displaced Syrians who are victims of this alliance had the capacity to overtake the power base in the capital, in Damascus.

Of course, I sincerely regret sounding like my intention is to somehow blame the innocent victims who were murdered by Po Pot in Cambodia and by Assad in Syria. That is certainly not the purpose of this blog. Rather, I'm failing to understand a logic whereby, both the guide who spoke to us in Cambodia and now the CNN pundit, are in agreement about how lack of American involvement contributed to two international genocides. 

Perhaps I'm conjuring up an image of waves of humans creating an avalanche of unified resistance to evil leaders, regardless of how many get massacred in the process. Yet, in both countries, in my opinion, the lack of populist opposition has caused exactly the same outcomes.

Moreover, potential American involvement in Cambodia post the end of the Vietnam War (or, as the Vietnamese call it "the War of American Aggression") would have contributed to even more casualties. In Syria, an American intervention would have involved our nation's military and probably even roused more support for terrorism from ISIS and other radical religious zealots.  

Therefore, I disagree with the CNN report about the vacuum created by lack of American involvement in Syria contributing to the fall of Aleppo.  

These are the facts: President Assad is responsible for the cruel destruction of his own, once beautiful, Syrian nation. In Cambodia, it was Po Pot who murdered his own people during the reign of the Khmer Rouge during the "Killing Fields". Two individual and mortal men who were both motivated by evil to destroy their own people.  Period.

In my logic, Americans had little, if anything, to do with either one.

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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Pope Francis - celebrates 80 years young with homeless

God Bless Pope Francis! He celebrated his 80th birthday with homeless people.
Pope Eats With Homeless on 80th Birthday
Receives 70,000 Emails

Pope Francis celebrated an active 80th birthday on Saturday, sharing breakfast with eight homeless people, before celebrating Mass with cardinals, as greetings poured in from around the world.
Image: Pope Francis
Pope Francis celebrates a birthday breakfast with the homeless in Rome.

Moreover, the pontiff received more than 70,000 email messages wishing him a happy birthday, as well as telephone calls and telegrams from world leaders and religious figures.

His predecessor, 89-year-old Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, sent a "very affectionate" written greeting that the Vatican said was "particularly appreciated," followed by a personal call in the afternoon and three small gifts that the bore "very personal and significant meaning for both." The Vatican did not otherwise divulge the nature of the gifts.

At breakfast, Francis chatted individually with each of the homeless guests— four Italians, two Romanians, a Moldovan and a Peruvian — at the Vatican hotel, where he resides, and shared Argentinian cakes with them before heading to Mass.

The guests offered the pope a bouquet of sunflowers. They were invited from among those staying around St. Peter's Square and at nearby showers for the homeless established by the pope's almsgiver. The pope also sent enough birthday cakes for 1,500 people to kitchens serving the poor and homeless in Rome.

Speaking to the cardinals, Francis contemplated the aging process.

"For some days now, I have had in mind a word that seems ugly: Old age, a thought that frightens," he said.

But then he recalled his own words during his first papal greeting in 2013, when he said: "Old age is the thirst for knowledge."

He added: "I hope it will be the same for me."

Saturday is a working day at the Vatican and Francis kept up his usual pace. He met with Malta's president and held an audience with members of the Nomadelfia community, a secular group whose lifestyle emulates early Christians, who sang "Happy Birthday" to the pontiff.

The pope experienced the day "with great joy. He was particularly happy by the presence of many children and youths at the audience with the Nomadelfia community," the Vatican said.

Greetings arrived from all corners of the globe, both personal messages and succinct tweets with the hashtag #Pontifex80.

U.S. President Barack Obama said Francis "has inspired people around the world with his message of compassion, hope and peace," while Italian President Sergio Mattarella recalled that the pope has called on Europeans to show solidarity with the less fortunate, in particular "migrants and all those who live at society's margins."

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent Francis a telegram and followed it up with a phone call in which he "remarked on the big contribution he has personally made to strengthen ties between Russia and the Vatican, which moved to a significantly new level in the recent years," the Kremlin said.

The Kremlin said Putin and the pope "exchanged opinions" on the plight of Christians caught in armed conflicts around the world and the importance of an interfaith dialogue.

Earlier this year, Francis met with Russian Patriarch Kirill in the first meeting of the head of the Roman Catholic Church and the leader of the world's largest Orthodox Christian flock.

The patriarch's office said Saturday that Kirill had sent a congratulatory message to Francis and lauded him for improving ties between the Russian Church and the Vatican.

(No mention of a call from #DonaldTrump- so sad.)

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Nastrovia! Russians celebrate the Electoral College

Nastrovia!” is an English mispronunciation of the Russian word “Na Zdorovie”. Outside of Russia, Na Zdorovie is commonly known as a drinking toast. The drinking beverage, of course, is always vodka, plenty of it.

When the American Electoral College meets to cast their "once upon a time ceremonial" votes for who will become the President of the United States, you can just imagine Vladimir Putin hosting a vodka toasting party in some posh room at the Kremlin. Nastrovia!

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Russian President Putin will likely host a "Nastrovia!" vodka party after the Electoral College vote on December 19th

In other words, each Electoral voter has the power to vote to do the right thing. Casting their lot with Donald Trump is totally wrong. In voting for Donald Trump, those who choose him are endorsing a man who is a cult leader of a runaway train populist movement that is intended to create national chaos and establish a culture of white supremacy.

Nevertheless, the volume of the movement to request the Electoral College voters to not support Donald Trump has been successful:
No one knows for sure how many are considering alternate votes; estimates vary from one to 25. 

In last-shot bid, thousands urge electoral college to block Trump at Monday vote- reports Robert Samuels in The Washington Post

Pressure on members of the electoral college to select someone other than Donald Trump has grown dramatically — and noisily — in recent weeks, causing some to waver but yielding little evidence that Trump will fall short when electors convene in most state capitals Monday to cast their votes.

Carole Joyce of Arizona expected her role as a GOP elector to be pretty simple: She would meet the others in Phoenix and carry out a vote for Trump, who won the most votes in her state and whom she personally supported.

But then came the mail and the emails and the phone calls — first hundreds, then thousands of voters worrying that Trump’s impulsive nature would lead the country into another war.

“Honestly, it had an impact,” said Joyce, a 72-year-old Republican state committee member. “I’ve seen enough funerals. I’m tired of hearing bagpipes. . . . But I signed a loyalty pledge. And that matters.”

Such is the life these days for many of the 538 men and women who are scheduled to meet Monday across the country to carry out what has traditionally been a perfunctory vote after most every presidential election.

The role of elector has intensified this year, in the wake of a bitter election in which Trump lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton by a margin of nearly 3 million votes and the revelation of a secret CIA assessment that Russia interfered to help Trump get elected.

Amid the uncertainty caused by Russian influence, 10 electors — nine Democrats and one Republican — asked for an intelligence briefing to get more information about Moscow’s role. Their request was endorsed by John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign manager. (This is so sad to have only one Republican stand up and request important information about our national leadership. Obviously, the Republican party has no intention of leading our nation their goal is to create a oligarchy, with Trump in the lead, regardless of the consequences.)

“The administration should brief members of the electoral college on the extent and manner of Russia’s interference in our election before they vote on Dec. 19,” Podesta wrote Thursday in a Washington Post op-ed.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence said Friday evening that it would not brief the electors, because it is engaged in a presidentially ordered review of the Russian interference. “Once the review is complete in the coming weeks, the intelligence community stands ready to brief Congress” and may release findings, the ODNI said in a statement posted to its website.

Meanwhile, Joyce and the other 305 Republican electors who are supposed to cast their votes for Trump have been subject to intense campaigns orchestrated by anti-Trump forces to convince them that they alone can block the reality-television star from the White House.

Others have targeted Democratic electors, who are supposed to cast votes for Clinton, to persuade them to switch to a more conventional Republican who could also draw enough support from GOP electors to swoop into office. 

Joyce has received emails from “Benjamin Franklin” and “John Jay” — and a Christmas card that read: “Please, in the name of God, don’t vote for Trump.”

The rancor about the role of electors started early in the campaign. In August, Baoky Vu, a GOP activist in Atlanta, said he planned to resign from the job because he was so morally opposed to Trump. He planned to defer his voting responsibility to someone more willing — an alternate who would be put in place Monday.

After the election, Vu started getting phone calls and emails asking him not to resign. He was asked instead to consider joining a coalition of electors hoping to vote against Trump. He declined.

“I don’t think we should drag this election out any longer,” Vu said. “And can you imagine if the electors overturned the results? If we attempt to change them in any way, you’ve got these far-right elements that are just going to go haywire.”

Mark Hersch, a 60-year-old Chicago-based marketing strategist, joined a group known as the Hamilton Electors, who have been organizing efforts to contact electors and change their minds. Before the election, Hersch said, the most political activism he had ever undertaken was planting a yard sign.

He said he believes the goal to deny Trump seems reachable if not probable. Rather than persuade an entire country, he and his allies must find 37 Republicans willing to vote for someone else, a tipping point at which the responsibility of picking the president would shift to the U.S. House of Representatives. 

No one knows for sure how many are considering alternate votes; estimates vary from one to 25.

While there is little sign the efforts will change enough minds, the push has unleashed intense pressure on individual electors, who have now been thrust into a sometimes uncomfortable spotlight.

The GOP-controlled House could vote for Trump anyway, but those trying to flip voters say there is still value in taking a stand. Hersch said he was inspired to continue to flip electors by the movie “300,” which depicts an ancient Spartan army’s stand against a Persian force that outnumbered it 1,000 to 1.

“I would like to think we would be successful, but if not, we need to do all we could to prevent this man from being president,” he said. Then he modified a line from the movie: “Prepare your breakfast, and eat hearty, for tonight, we will go to battle. This isn’t 300, but 538.”

That “battle” has intensified as electors draw closer to their convening Monday. Joyce was getting 15 letters a day and 300 emails in the days after Nov. 8, but those numbers quickly increased to 50 and 3,000. Some of them have been form letters, others handwritten.

Norman Eisen, a former ambassador to the Czech Republic who served as legal counsel to both the Bush and Obama administrations, began calling electors to explain that their job is not necessarily to certify the results but to have a reasonable discussion over whether the public made the right decision.

For instance, Eisen, who focused on government ethics in Obama’s White House, noted that Trump could be violating a clause in the Constitution that prevents presidents from receiving gifts and funds from foreign governments; it is unclear whether his businesses do because he has not publicly disclosed his tax returns.

In Massachusetts, Republican operative and attorney R.J. Lyman said he didn’t want to harass anyone, so he used his connections to find electors who were willing to chat about the lessons he learned in American history class and at the dinner table. He became one of the few people in the country more willing to talk about Hamilton the man than about “Hamilton: An American Musical.”

The electoral college, he said he tells them, was “not intended to be a rubber stamp.” Otherwise, he said, the Founding Fathers would have tasked the responsibility to a clerk or simply used the popular vote as a way of choosing a president.

“I’m reminding them of their duty to think about their choice in a way that’s consistent with their conscience and the Constitution,” Lyman said.

So far, Lyman said, he has identified 20 electors who might be willing to vote “other than their party pledge.” He couldn’t name more than one publicly but insisted that more were out there.

Earlier this month, Chris ­Suprun of Texas became the first Republican elector in a red state that voted for Trump to declare, in a Dec. 5 New York Times column, that he would not cast his electoral vote for Trump. Suprun voted for Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas in the primary and said he left behind his wallet on Election Day and thus did not vote in the general.

Nonetheless, Suprun said, he was willing to vote for Trump in the electoral college until the candidate claimed with no evidence that millions of Clinton supporters voted illegally.

The letters came from Washington state and from China, stuffed with copies of the U.S. Constitution or Alexander Hamilton’s writing in Federalist Paper No. 68, which states that the meeting of the electoral college “affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.”

On Thursday, Joyce received so many letters that the letter carrier just gave her a U.S. Postal Service bucket filled to the brim.

“I’m sorry this is happening to you,” Joyce recalled the letter carrier saying. While some electors have complained of harassment, Joyce shrugged off the mail and placed it all on a sofa decorated with American flag pillows.

“This is America,” she said in a phone interview. “People have a right to say what they want.” She said most of the messages were thoughtful.

On Friday, she said, her emails became more positive. The messages were from Republicans, thanking her for taking Trump to the finish line of an arduous process.

“How refreshing!” she said.

Although some Democrats (who have in the past five presidential elections lost two in which they won the popular vote) and even Trump himself have questioned the necessity of the electoral college, many opposing Trump have said this election proves just how important it is. 

Suprun’s public stance has elicited death threats and hate mail, he said. (This is how Republicans plan to deal us after the January 20th power grab.  Sadly, people like me are Guantanamo bound!)

“As of yesterday, people are calling to say, ‘Get your ass together, or we’re coming for you,’ ” said Suprun, who was the sole Republican elector to ask for an intelligence briefing on Russia. “They are doing it with their own phone number, not even blocking the number. That’s not been surprising — look at what Trump says himself.”

Vinz Koller, a Democratic elector from Monterey County, Calif., said he read Suprun’s column and started thinking about his own role in the college. It inspired him to support a new theory: If he could persuade other Democrats to abandon their Clinton votes, perhaps he and Republicans could agree on a more conventional choice — a la Ohio governor and failed GOP candidate John Kasich — to vote for instead of Trump.

The plan seemed unlikely, he said, but Trump’s candidacy unsettled him so much that he felt he needed to try anything. California is one of 29 states that mandate electors vote for the candidate who won the state, so Koller sued to continue his plan.

“Frankly, this is hard and not something I do lightly,” he said. “I’ve been working in partisan politics a long time, and I don’t like voting against my candidate, but I never thought that the country might be unstable until now.”

On Thursday evening, he found himself in the Library of Congress. Strolling through its stacks, Koller sought a librarian with one request: Can I see the original Federalist Papers?

He looked to see Federalist No. 68, written by Hamilton to describe the need for the electoral college.

“We have been getting a civic lesson we weren’t prepared to get,” Koller said. “They gave us the fail-safe emergency brake, in case the people got it wrong. And here we are, 200 years later. It’s the last shot we have.”

Ellen Nakashima contributed to this report. 

Meanwhile, I envision Vladimir Putin ordering his nation's best! Nastrovia!

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