Support Our Transgender Soldiers

Dear Brave Members of the U.S. Armed Services,

I am writing to express my regret for the thoughtless edict sent out by our “Twitter-in-Chief” banning transgender service members (after expressing support for the LGBT community during the campaign). Trump’s ban is an inexcusable, un-American expression of hate. It simply does not reflect the values of our country.

I join the vast majority of Americans who are eternally indebted to you for the daily sacrifices you make to keep us safe. Transgender troops are especially brave because you not only risk enemy fire like other service members, but you also face being stigmatized because of your sexual identity.

I would like to applaud the military leadership for not confusing a morning tweet with an actual policy directive. The American people will always have your back, just as you risk your lives to protect ours. We are grateful for your continued service.

 
On the same day that Trump tweeted about banning transgender people from serving in the military, Tal Schneider, a blogger and journalist in Israel, tweeted the following about the Israeli military:

Open Letter to Senator Calls for Single-Payer Solution to Health Care Woes

Dear Sen. Toomey:

Last night, after the defeat of a series of ill-considered, clandestine plans to overtun the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “Now it might be appropriate to ask what are their ideas. It would be interesting to see what they suggest as the way forward.”

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) deplaning in Maine to a round of applause after voting against the repeal of the ACA. Photo: BLCKGRD's Twitter Page

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) deplaning in Maine to applause after voting against the repeal of the ACA. Photo: BLCKDGRD’s Twitter Page.

Indeed, a willingness to listen to bipartisan solutions is long overdue. We need to build on the gains in insurance coverage we have already seen by repairing the holes in the ACA. In my mind, the best and simplest way to accomplish that is a single-payer solution, i.e., “Medicare for all.” This would cover everybody’s basic health care needs and allow private insurance to specialize in supplemental insurance if people so choose.

Sincerely,

Dr. Daniel E. Loeb

Watch this video for more information on a single-payer health care system:

Political Prisoners in the United States? Depoliticizing our criminal system

 

Does the United States actually have political prisoners?

Green states do not disenfranchise. Yellow states only disenfranchise those who are actually in prison. Purple states also disenfranchise felons who are out on parole. Red states disenfranchise prisoners who are on parole or probation. Orange states restrict the rights of some to vote even after they have completed their sentences. (Source: The Sentencing Project)

Green states do not disenfranchise.
Yellow states only disenfranchise those who are actually in prison.
Purple states also disenfranchise felons who are out on parole.
Red states disenfranchise prisoners who are on parole or probation.
Orange states restrict the rights of some to vote even after they have completed their sentences.
(Source: The Sentencing Project)

Probably not by the strict definition of the term: people incarcerated for their political beliefs. But there are millions of American citizens in the criminal justice system who are pawns in our political system. The criminalization of an activity and the pursuit, arrest and incarceration of people engaged in those activities have political ramifications which, in turn, can tempt lawmakers to make decisions which favor their own political viewpoints.

[Read more…]

The Fraudulent Voter Fraud Schadenfreude

The inaugurations of  Donald Trump, 2017 (left) and Barrack Obama, 2009 (right).

The inaugurations of Donald Trump, 2017 (left) and Barrack Obama, 2009 (right).

Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer’s first press conference centered on “alternative facts” about the attendance at Trump’s inauguration. There is no crime in having a sparsely attended inauguration. Lyndon B. Johnson had only 27 people on hand, including himself, yet that was sufficient for him to lead our country. Indeed Trump had a decent attendance at his inauguration by historical standards. However, to claim that this inauguration was the most well attended in history is simply counter-factual. Attendance was only one-third of Obama’s first inauguration. In fact, Clinton’s first inauguration, both of Obama’s inaugurations and the Women’s March on Washington all had higher attendance than Trump’s inauguration.

However, if Trump is consistent about one thing, it is inconsistency.

In the next press conference (referred to by the White House as the “first official press conference,” suggesting that the previous one somehow didn’t count), instead of re-litigating the inauguration, the administration decided to re-litigate the election. Although Trump won the electoral vote, his inability to win the popular vote remains a sore spot for him. [Read more…]

Nostalgic for Last Week’s America?

oathSo much of the America I had taken for granted as recently as last week has disappeared.

President Donald Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” feels increasingly appropriate, leading many Americans wonder if Trump will really remain President for four years of will one of the many scandals swirling around him lead to his impeachment, or if Trump’s erratic behavior and plummeting popularity will lead his cabinet to invoke Section 4 of the 25th Amendment.
[Read more…]

Upset About Trump? Public Corruption? Boycott Asher’s Chocolate!

ashers-chocolate-2-750xx600-338-0-81Adapted from remarks given Monday in the rotunda of the Pennsylvania State Capitol.

This Hanukkah you may want to think twice before selecting Asher’s Chocolate as a gift. Instead of Hanukkah gelt, you may be sharing Hanukkah guilt because of the company’s owner and his history of public corruption.

However, let’s start by talking about the presidential election. On November 8, Americans may have thought that they were voting for the Clinton/Kaine ticket or the Trump/Pence ticket. However, in fact, they were voting for a slate of anonymous “electors” whose names do not even appear on the ballot in most states. [Read more…]

My Conversation With A Trump Elector

12th Amendment to the United States Constitution: "... if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President...."

12th Amendment: “… if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President….”

After an unprecedented campaign, the Electoral College will meet in the 50 state capitols and the District of Columbia to choose the next President. While three million more people voted for Clinton than Trump, 306 of the electors are from states won by Trump. Now, the National Security Agency and the CIA report intelligence showing that Putin directly intervened in the election on the behalf of Trump, and over 70 electors have requested intelligence briefing to see the evidence and understand the extent of Trump’s involvement. If 12% of the Republican delegates abstain or vote for anyone other than Trump, then Trump will lack the 270 electoral votes necessary to be immediately elected President.

At that point, the House of Representatives will choose between the three candidates with the most electoral votes. These three would presumably be Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and whoever else has the most electoral votes.

Last week I had the idea to order DVDs of the 2004 film Manchurian Candidate – a fictional story of a candidate who is the puppet of a foreign country – and mail it to various Republican electors in the hopes of spurring a conversation about the allegations regarding Trump’s ties to Putin.

I sent the DVDs with the following brief message
msg1

Republican elector Charles Buckels of Lafayette, Louisiana responded by email as follows:

From: Charlie Buckels
Date: Fri, Dec 16, 2016 at 1:26 PM
Subject: Thanks for the DVD
Good movie. Have you seen Hillary’s America? It’s a better movie and it’s not fiction.
As BHO said, “elections have consequences”. We won, you lost. Get over it. If it would make you feel better I’d be happy to send you a participation trophy.
Even you will benefit from the opportunities that will be available TO ALL during the next 8 years of the Trump administration followed by 8 years of the Pence administration.
Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas
I’ll be proudly voting for Donald J Trump of New York

I responded:

Thanks for writing. I agree that elections have consequences: Hillary ran a mediocre campaign and lost . I for one am not asking you to vote for her, and I doubt she’ll run for elected office again.
However, if Trump was involved with any of the Russian hacking then he should not step one foot into the White House.
I have no way to tell if the rumors about Trump are true, but you do.
You and your fellow electors should ask for an intelligence briefing and find out if there is credible secret evidence that Trump is involved in high crimes or misdemeanors.
Please see if you can get the kind of briefing that convinced so many Senators on the foreign intelligence committee then decide for yourself. I don’t know what the secret evidence shows since I am just a citizen.
Afterwards, if you are not convinced, then you should vote for Trump and Pence as Louisiana has urged you to do in great numbers.
If on the other hand it no longer appears to you that Trump can be trusted to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” then please vote your conscience and write-in the candidate of your choice. Perhaps you could write-in Pence for President (as well as Vice-President). Alternatively, you could keep your ears open and see what Republicans are getting chosen in the various states that vote before Louisiana. (I have the schedule.) You might want to support one of them in order to ensure that he ends up among the top three finishers who the House of Representatives will chose among.
Never having been in Indiana I don’t know too much about Pence, but if you are looking forward to a Pence administration, then in the event you find the classified evidence about Trump convincing, why not start 8 years of Pence right away!
I am available if you want to discuss this further. I would be glad to talk to you by phone or come out to see you in Lafayette or meet you in Baton Rouge.
Thanks again for devoting your time and energy to our democratic process.

Charlie Buckels, a Republican elector for Louisiana.

Charlie Buckels, a Republican elector for Louisiana.

After Shabbat, I found the following note from Buckels in my inbox:

I wonder if you were this concerned when BHO told the Russian official on an open mic to let Putin know that he, BHO, will have more flexibility after his reelection.
The Russians didn’t create her emails. Even you said she lost due to a bad campaign..
Donald J. trump will be sworn in on Jan 20th. I’m really happy about that. We have a good chance now to recover from the damage that BHO did to our country.

Just and Rightful Authority

Every Shabbat, just after the Torah service, most Conservative synagogues recite the Prayer for Our Country, written by Rabbi Louis Ginzberg. Part of this prayer has troubled me since I first encountered it in 1998. I and others were independently led to “invent” an abridged, but more inclusive version of this prayer, by omitting three key words. [Read more…]

Rep. Elijah Cummings Inspires Voters and Volunteers in West Philadelphia

Pennsylvania is the keystone of the Clinton campaign’s legendary “fire wall” and maximizing the turnout in the Democratic bastion of Philadelphia is key to victory in Philadelphia. Accordingly, the city of brotherly love has been graced by a who’s-who’s of luminaries in the Democratic Party.

For example, yesterday singer Katy Perry performed to a packed house at the Mann Center and was accompanied by Hillary Clinton, Dwight Evans, Bob Brady, Bob Casey, Cory Booker and Madeleine Albright.

Tomorrow, it will be Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen’s turn to perform on Independence Mall, along with Hillary, Bill and Chelsea Clinton, and Barack and Michelle Obama.

Today, campaign volunteers canvassed neighborhoods all around Philadelphia, knocking on more doors than the rest of Pennsylvania combined. They were encouraged in this effort by Congressman Elijah Cummings, who represents parts of Baltimore and Howard County, Maryland. He dropped by the West Philadelphia Democratic Campaign Field Office at 1575 N. 52nd Street in West Philadelphia. After rallying the eager volunteers, he visited local churches to greet the congregants.

Bill Clinton Stumps for Hillary in Main Line

Bill Clinton addresses volunteers in Ardmore, PA campaign office

Bill Clinton addresses volunteers in Ardmore, PA campaign office. Photo: Joel Parlish Photography

Hillary Clinton was busy yesterday preparing for her final debate with Donald Trump (this evening in Las Vegas), but the campaign was far from idle with her surrogates mobilizing voters in swing states (and red states which have turned purple like Arizona and Texas).

Her husband Bill Clinton headlined a rally at Montgomery Community College in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania and then visited campaign offices in Ardmore and Bristol to speak to the volunteers in this swing state who will be key to electing Hillary as the 45th President of the United States.

As rumors spread that Bill Clinton was in town, the Ardmore campaign office at Lancaster and Cricket Avenues was packed shoulder to shoulder in the unseasonable 84° heat. Bill Clinton drew distinctions between his wife’s Stronger Together campaign with Trump’s divisive politics where victory by some can only be had at the expense of others. He lauded his wife’s ability to get bipartisan support for her major initiatives such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) which enjoyed the support of about two-thirds of both chambers of Congress.

[Read more…]