Circus Trumpus Maximus

“The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Article II § 4 of the Constitution 

With the opening salvos fired in the House Impeachment hearing, the sad process of impeaching a President begins. And it would do us all well to remember this is not something to celebrate regardless of one’s political position. The removal of a President through the impeachment process is the most terrible thing that can happen to this nation short of war.

We are a long way from seeing this happen. We should be more concerned at this point that the law is followed and politics left aside then what the ultimate result may be. For if we allow the taint of politics to infiltrate the process—the very foundation upon which these allegations are based—the results will not matter, except to tear this country apart.

The House can only craft an Article of Impeachment. It remains for the Senate to try the President—under the watchful eye and judicial guidance of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court—and determine if the matter rises to the level of removing the President from office.

Therein lies the hope of the nation, in the non-partisan hands of the Chief Justice. For if we cannot have faith in the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, we are lost as a nation.

The talking-head, twitter-feed, partisan rhetoric means nothing, has no value, and distracts from the most significant power granted under our constitution. All it does is drive the wedge between us deeper into the soul of the nation.

We would do well to listen to the words of a fictional, yet profoundly wise, character from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle;

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”

Sherlock Holmes (A Scandal in Bohemia) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 1891

There are witnesses yet to testify and evidence to be presented. Mr. Trump is entitled to a vigorous defense and the American people are entitled to an equally vigorous presentation of the evidence.

Yet it will come down to the integrity, sense of duty, and character of the members of the Senate.

And therein lies the concern.

The partisan divide has never been more acrimonious, at least in public. If such behavior wins elections then the American people have no one to blame but themselves for continuing to elect such candidates, including Donald Trump.

Perhaps the only way, sad as this will sound, to allow Senators to follow their conscience in voting based on the evidence and testimony in an Impeachment Trial is to mimic the process of other courts and make the vote a secret ballot. Thus, we could remove the pallor of political concerns and allow for a vote based on the evidence.

This would require a rule change. Yet Mitch McConnell has never been shy about changing rules to make his job easier, damn the effect on the country. This might be a way for him to recapture some sense of honor in his long decent into a nothing but a Trump sycophant. And he could do it without letting anyone know he and some of his fellow Republicans do have the best interests of the nation at heart.

Do I think it will happen? Probably not, but there is always hope.

But if the vote is 51-49 against impeachment, we will have all the evidence we need of the character of our Senators and the content of their souls on both sides of the aisle, and a glimpse at the dismal future of this nation.

8 years of suffering under Barack Obama

Why reinvent the wheel? This article is a statement of fact. It contains things one can either verify or try disprove through facts and research but it is not susceptible to simply dismissing it as untrue.

Teri Carter's Library

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3C54DC7D00000578-4140672-Barack_Obama_waves_as_he_boards_Marine_One_and_departs_the_Capit-a-77_1484945371469 Photo credit: The Associated Press

The sentence I hear most from well-meaning, conservative friends since President Trump’s election is this: “We suffered 8 years under Barack Obama.”

Fair enough. Let’s take a look.

The day Obama took office, the Dow closed at 7,949 points. Eight years later, the Dow had almost tripled.

General Motors and Chrysler were on the brink of bankruptcy, with Ford not far behind, and their failure, along with their supply chains, would have meant the loss of millions of jobs. Obama pushed through a controversial, $8o billion bailout to save the car industry. The U.S. car industry survived, started making money again, and the entire $80 billion was paid back, with interest.

While we remain vulnerable to lone-wolf attacks, no foreign terrorist organization has successfully executed a mass attack here since 9/11.

Obama ordered the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.

He drew down the number…

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Excerpt from Saving the Last Dragon

This Christmas give the gift of reading and imagination…

There’s magic along the Blackstone River and among the hidden caves of Diamond Hill in the quiet town of Cumberland, Rhode Island where magic has long lain hidden awaiting the Dragon Seeker. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B018ECUNKW or for signed copy go here www.jebwizardpublishing.com

Here’s a short except and coming next year, there will be more magic.

“The choice is made.” Ealdor’s voice once again surrounded them. Duncan looked at the egg.                                             

“What happens now? Is it over?”

Balinor came forward, bending to put his face next to Duncan. “It is only beginning, Donnchadh Ealdgneat.”

Duncan gave him a questioning look. Kathy and Jamie came over. Keladry revived Myrddin who joined them standing around Duncan and the egg.

“Jamie, what happened to you?” Myrddin asked. “Last I remember you tried to fly.”

Jamie chuckled. “I grabbed Harper, and then something happened. We fell over the edge but didn’t fall all the way. Something held us in the air. She tried to push me away. One of my hands slipped and I felt myself starting to fall. I realized whatever was holding us there, was just holding her. I was along for the ride. I decided to get away from her. I saw the branch and leapt for it.”

“What happened to Harper?”

“I’m not sure. A bunch of ravens flew in and she vanished among them. I wasn’t sure what was happening up here, so I waited. After a few minutes, I felt the branch starting to give way. I started yelling for help.”

Myrddin glanced at Keladry. “She’s still out there, isn’t she?”

Myrddin nodded. “What matters is the egg is safe in the hands of the Dragon Seeker.”

“What do we do with him?’ Kathy said, pointing at Core.

Keladry spoke up. “That spell won’t hold him for long. He is too powerful for that. We must get away from here.”

“And just leave him?’ Kathy walked to face Core. “Isn’t there something a little more unpleasant we can do?” She eyed the sword, watching the unmistakable sign of fear in his eyes. She reached for the blade.

“No!” Duncan said, drawing their attention. “We’re not like him. There is nothing he can do to us now. We need to focus on this,” pointing at the egg. “This is the Last Dragon. We need to protect it, not become like those that would misuse its power.”

Ealdor’s voice once again rose from the pulsating egg. “Donnchadh Ealdgneat shows wisdom beyond his years. Heed his message.”

Myrddin nodded his head. “We would do well to listen to her. This is the future we have all fought for long and hard. Much remains for the Dragon Seeker to do; there are many trials ahead.”

Duncan once again took his place on Balinor’s back. The egg secured in his pack. As the others moved off down the hill, the sun crossed over the mid-point in the sky.

A gleaming beam of sunlight illuminated the Blackstone River, the water a shimmering, twisting band of gold. Pointing to the future.

 Balinor leapt into the air, riding the light. Duncan felt the rush of the wind in his face. The smell of the woods enveloped him. The sun warmed his back.

“An uncertain future awaits you, Donnchadh Ealdgneat.” Ealdor’s voice sang in his ears. “You’ve taken the first steps of a long, difficult journey. For now, protect this egg and this dragon within. The next challenge will soon be upon you.”

Duncan took comfort in the voice yet trembled at portent of the words. These once uncomplicated and familiar places of his life, the Blackstone River, the rocky face of Diamond Hill, this small town of Cumberland, would never be the same.

His imagination opened to the possibilities. He knew what he needed to. He would face his fear and overcome it. It would not be easy, but it would be a destiny of his own choosing.

The End of the Beginning…

The President is an Innocent Man

Several points of order. As of this date.

  1. President Trump has not been found guilty of any criminal act
  2. There is no evidence before a court of competent jurisdiction to indicate President Trump committed any criminal acts
  3. Until such time the above conditions change, President Trump is innocent.
  4. The same circumstances, and presumptions of innocence, apply to those who President Trump’s supporters take aim at with their chants of “Lock her up” (although not to some members of the chorus.)

With that said, one can form an opinion on the veracity of the first witness in these impeachment hearings with common-sense rationality.

We can look at the character, background, and integrity of both sides of this issue in forming our opinion as to the validity of the testimony. We can take the approach we expect from a juror who may sit in judgment on this case with a common sense look at the witnesses.

Like Occam’s Razor, the simplest explanation is almost always correct. Is this a vast, deep state conspiracy of liars trying to remove the President or is it honorable and moral Americans trying to do what is right for the country?

Ambassador William Taylor President Donald Trump
West Point Graduate (top 1%) Bone spurs
Captain, US Army Airborne Ranger 5 draft deferments
Viet Nam Veteran Numerous business bankruptcies
Recipient of the Bronze Star and Air medal (for actions in Combat) Said he would release his taxes after the “audit” was completed, now fights the release of his taxes
Long and distinguished government career in positions all over the world under several different administrations Seven Eight campaign or administration officials convicted of criminal acts
   
   

Isn’t it strange how hearsay (without a fundamental understanding of the well-established exceptions to its use) is suddenly an anathema to the President’s supporters?

For the entire Circus Maximus that is the Trump juggernaut, hearsay, innuendo, and twisting truth to fit the agenda has been a virtue. We are supposed to accept everything he, or his supporters, allege absent any independent corroboration.

I, and most Americans, choose to set a higher standard. Ambassador Taylor is the first witness. When it is all said and done, then it will be time to judge. Yet, it is readily evident the foundation for a solid case is being poured upon which the scaffold for this Presidency may soon stand, if the evidence supports it.

Mr. Trump is an innocent man. His culpability in criminal acts has not been established…yet. How long that situation lasts remains to be seen.

Trump’s Transgressions Against America

I was asked recently to list any crimes or criminal activity one might level at Mr. Trump and his administration. I took a bit of time to consider the response and decided this was a better forum.

While the full extent of any crimes is yet to be uncovered, I think there is more than enough concern, when taken as a whole, that there is something fundamentally unsound in this administration and the President.

Now those who support the President will be quick to point to the economy as a worthy justification for supporting the President’s policies and behavior. But, as most understand, the economy is much more complicated than can be influenced by one man no matter how powerful the office.

With that said here are some highlights of things we know have happened, that the president had direct involvement, and for which most would consider criminal. No doubt there will be much more to follow.

  1. Soliciting a Foreign Government to Interfere in an Election (2016 Campaign/Russia  2019/Ukraine)
  2. Used intermediaries to circumvent campaign finance laws. (NRA PAC/Russian money)
  3. Trump Administration or Campaign officials indicted/convicted 7

If Mr. Trump were the head of an Organized Crime Family (some might argue, with merit, that he is) he’d be facing charges under the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Statute and the CCE (Continuing Criminal Enterprise) Statute.

Mr. Trump does bear responsibility for those under his direct authority. The fact that in just the two years he’s been in office there has been enormous turnover in the administration and seven convictions is troubling. Can we deduce anything from this?

A look at past history of administrations might be illuminating.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are some interesting graphics.

Source:

 https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/1/11/1619079/-Comparing-Presidential-Administrations-by-Arrests-and-Convictions-A-Warning-for-Trump-Appointees

History alone tells us the Republicans seem to have a consistent history of not only violating the law on a continuing basis but no propensity to offer candidates with higher moral standard.

If the law matters, than on that basis alone the Democrats are a better choice. In Mr. Trump’s case, all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about unfair investigations and hearings are just that, sound and fury signifying nothing.

Once the full story comes out, and it will, with all the evidence, testimony, and full disclosure the truth of the corrupt nature of this administration will be clear. Whether he can “trump” Mr. Nixon’s record is unclear but he is certainly in the running for a close second as the most corrupt administration in history.

And, as Mr. Trump is wont to say “his staggering and unmatched brillance” is in charge of it all.

A Deep Hypothetical Dilemma Needing Resolution

Please consider the following two scenarios (this is completely hypothetical and bears no resemblance to anyone in or out of political office.)

Situation 1

Let’s say person W sees person T commit what he believes to be a crime. Person W did not support person T for political office, so he reports the crime because he finds person T reprehensible and undeserving of the position.


Situation 2

Let’s say person W sees person T commit what he believes to be a crime. Person W supported person T for political office, thinks keeping him in office at all costs is important, so he does not report the crime out of a sense of political loyalty.

In each scenario, is the offense committed by T still a crime? Does the motivation or political affiliation of the person reporting the incident mitigate or accentuate the crime?

Let’s say persons A-S come forward and corroborate the accuracy of W’s report of the incident. Does that change anything?

Asking out of a sense of fear we are losing the soul of a nation.

P.S Public service educational opportunity . Makes for interesting reading..://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whistleblower_Protection_Act

Stealing a Child’s Memories with the Best of Intentions

Halloween was such a disappointment and such a joy.   Disappointing because the number of kids was abysmally low. A joy because I now get to eat all the candy I didn’t have to give away.

Yet the joy is tempered by the loss of such an opportunity.  It would seem the paranoia of our world to avoid any risk (no matter how unlikely) in favor of safety and security robs children of the chance at creating memories.

I know not every neighborhood is conducive to allowing kids to wander house to house on such a holiday (or even on a day-to-day basis) but not most neighborhoods. Where I grew up in Cumberland, Rhode Island we would map our strategy to insure we went to every house in Broadview Acres to maximize our candy haul.

Then, in our house, each of the kids would pile the candy into one huge pile and divide it up. We learned to share, to be selective in our choices, and to spread the joy as far as we could among us.  It wasn’t socialism, it was balancing abundance among family.

But the real loss I see in the lack of kids trick or treating was their being deprived of adventure out of a sense of fear all out of proportion to reality. 

Wandering the streets in costumes unfettered by parents who didn’t follow us around, hovering over us like bodyguards, was a memorable adventure. One I cherish among my many memories. Yet, truth was, we weren’t really “on our own” at all. Every adult became a guardian that night. Letting us believe we were independent yet still with a protective umbrella. Where has that sense of community gone?

We built memories of our adventures and, once we outgrew the age of trick or treating, recognized the wisdom of such controlled independence. Yet, somewhere along the way, we’ve lost something.

It seems today people are so concerned with what might happen; they deprive their children of all the potential joy of gaining independence, making memories, and enjoying life.

My mother always said life in not fair. And she was right.  There are no guarantees in this world, but there is opportunity. And the opportunity to make such memories when one is just a child pass in a blink of an eye.  Don’t lose out on opportunities because you fear what might happen. Embrace them because they are one of the best things about life.

If you focus on the small chance of bad things happening, you’ll miss all the best things in life. And there is no turning back.

Strong Enforcement is Smart Policy for A Country of Immigrants

First a caveat, I think our immigration policy should be tempered with compassion and err on the side of a humane and rational implementation.

Second, if you came to this country as a minor, brought here by your parents before you were able to make your own choices, your ability to become a citizen should be expedited.

Third, If you are now an adult and have not otherwise broken the law, you should have an opportunity to begin the citizenship process, but an opportunity with limits. Three to five years should be adequate enough to earn enough money to pay for the cost. Demonstrating a desire for citizenship by a willingness to bear the burden of earning it is a reasonable and humane opportunity.

Lastly, if you are in this country without proper documentation or otherwise lawful reason, you are an ILLEGAL ALIEN and are subject to deportation. (But see the above compromise.)

With that said, two stories in the Boston Globe caught my eye.

“Boston Officers worked closely with ICE”

and

“Democratic Mayor Marty Walsh has since proposed strengthening the city ordinance limiting police involvement in immigration matters.”

Laws are the purvey of legislatures and Congress. The decision to enforce these laws is NOT subject to arbitrary discretion of law enforcement or the Executive Branch.

They certainly can petition for changes to the law as it best serves the public interest but choosing to ignore them is not an option.  Such inconsistent enforcement is fraught with problems.

If the Boston police, or any law enforcement agency, in the course of their duties, come across someone illegally in this country they have an obligation to notify ICE, not just ignore it because of some misguided political correctness which has clouded the issue.

Take up the changes to make our immigration policy humane. Elect people to office who will seek rational and reasoned changes to Immigration laws and the process of becoming a citizen. But do not allow misguided and ill-considered abandonment of responsibilities to guide policy.

Immigrants have always played an important role in making America great. To lose out on what those who come here seeking a new life have to offer would be a loss. But to ignore the responsibility of insuring those who come here have the best of intentions is a mistake. A firm and fair immigration policy, with adequate enforcement across all agencies at the local, state, and federal level, is essential

What a Time it Was!

On October 3, 2019 my cousin Dave Moreau passed away.  https://www.williamsbergeykoffel.com/obituary/david-moreau

Dave, Joe Szpila, another cousin, and I spent uncountable hours together playing music on our way to rock stardom.  Those moments growing up undoubtedly changed us all. We never became rock stars, but we forged a lifetime of memories.

David was a masterful writer with a gift for words and an infectious sense of humor. During those many days spent together, Joe and Dave would torture me over various preferences, particularly mayonnaise vs. mustard. 

This is a piece I wrote several years ago about those times. Despite the torture I endured at their hands, they were magical moments I have cherished all these years.

Travel well, my friend. The echoes of Bookends lives on.

Time it was
And what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence
A time of confidences

Long ago it must be
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They’re all that’s left you.

Tormented by Choice

All of us face choices in our lifetime. Some of these can affect a moment, a day, or a lifetime. Often, we face ridicule and torment from those who follow a different path.

Does the toilet paper roll go over or under?

Peanut butter first, then Jelly or vice versa?

Yankees or Red Sox? (This one’s is easy for me. I like pinstripes and World Series Flags.)

Does anyone really know what time it is?

However, there is one choice I have consistently made which subjected me to a lifetime of torment and terror. One that every time I make the choice I have instant flashbacks to the taunts and the torments.

Tortures visited upon me by two people I looked up to, admired, tried to emulate.

After all these years, I am ready to face my darkest fears. Ready to confront the demons of the past.

You see, from the moment I was able to choose, I always picked mayonnaise over mustard.

There was no other way to go.

Yet I faced the ridicule, nay bullying, of my two cousins who shall remain nameless (Dave Moreau and Joe Szpila.)

They made sport of my choice. Sniffing the mayonnaise coated knife as if covered with the excrement of demons. Insinuating I was insane to so choose. Madness, they implied, it must be madness.

Oh how they tortured me. Their haughty superiority as mustard men hung over me like the Sword of Damocles.

To this day, I cannot enjoy a sandwich with my beloved mayonnaise without the demons of the past laughing in my mind. Even now, as I try to enjoy my sandwich, the torments continue.

A lifetime of torment for a simple choice. As Shakespeare said in As You Like It, “How bitter a thing it is to look into happiness through another man’s eyes!”

Reaching for the Stars with Old Technology

Here’s the random thought for the day.

In 1977, NASA launched two (then) state-of-the-art spacecraft called Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. After a grand tour of the outer planets, both spacecraft became the first man-made objects to leave the solar system.

Voyager 1 is currently 13,700,972,396 miles from the earth (which was accurate when I wrote this) but the probe is accelerating and adding approximately twenty-five miles per second to that total. Voyager 2 is a bit further behind.

Just as an aside, twenty-five miles per second sounds fast, but to put inter-stellar travel in perspective, light travels at 186,000 (give or take a few) miles per second. Voyager has been traveling for 42 years. If we fired a beam of light at it, the light would overtake the craft in twenty hours. We’ve a bit to go before we “reach for the stars.”

But I digress as I am wont to do.

Attached aboard each craft are these objects with items selected by Carl Sagan and a committee of scientists, philosophers, political figures, and others.

Sagan and his associates assembled 115 images and a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by surf, wind, thunder and animals (including the songs of birds and whales). To this they added musical selections from different cultures and eras, spoken greetings in 55 ancient and modern languages, other human sounds, like footsteps and laughter (Sagan’s) and printed messages from U.S. president Jimmy Carter and U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim. The record also includes the inspirational message Per aspera ad astra (“through hardship to the stars”) in Morse code.

It occurred to me that a majority of people on Earth right now might not instantly recognize what these objects are, or how significant a part they played in our culture.

In just a few more years, these items might be considered evidence of alien technology. Alien in the sense that they came from a time long ago and fading away…

We’ve sent something out into space that no longer enjoys the widespread use it once did.

I can imagine, on a planet far, far way, an advanced life form examining the object and concluding that whoever sent it must be a technologically inferior species. Yet they would find a way to extract the information and copy it to their Beta tapes for distribution in their world.

Arthur C. Clark once said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” But what is also true, is that any sufficiently advanced technology will soon be replaced by better magic.