These last two years have had their difficulties, but the silver lining has been the privilege of meeting talented, creative activists. Each month we will focus on a specific issue and share the thoughtful perspective of our contributors. Our Eblasts are posted below.


Sajaa Ahmed is a host and co-creator of Spotlight 19, a podcast tracking all things related to New York’s 19th Congressional District. The podcast was an essential tool used by volunteers in 2018 to flip the district blue and will continue to be released monthly in 2019.

JT Compton spent fourteen years in finance before becoming a screenwriter and a political blogger.  He has an MFA in creative writing from The New School and has lived in Dutchess County for nineteen years.

Rep. Antonio Delgado spends every day in Congress focused on creating a vibrant local economy, working with local, state, and federal partners — regardless of party — to get results for the people here. From improving access to quality, affordable health care to expanding rural broadband to protecting our agricultural interests, Rep. Delgado is dedicated to working across the aisle and standing up for what residents need.

Karen Smythe, NYS Senate Candidate in 2018, was the 4th generation to run her family’s Dutchess County union construction business. Born and raised in Poughkeepsie, she is committed to giving back to the community through volunteer and nonprofit work. She currently serves as President of the Dutchess County Woman’s Caucus, is on the Board of the Bardavon Theater and a Trustee of Vassar College.

Assemblymember Didi BarrettGuest Contributor, After a dedicated career as a community activist, writer, and leader of non-profit organizations, Didi Barrett was elected to the NYS Assembly in 2012, where she is now serving her fourth full term. Didi continues to work tirelessly for our community as an advocate for women’s rights, local agriculture, environmental conservation, and all issues affecting the Hudson Valley. She is currently serving as the chair of the bipartisan, bicameral Legislative Women’s Caucus, and chair of the Assembly Standing Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

Welcome to intelligent life – Veteran’s issues (#4)

“Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

  • Melanie Whaley, Editor’s Message
  • Sajaa Ahmed – Spotlight 19 / Episode 39 Interview with Major Malia Du Mont
  • Karen Smythe / Thank You for Your Service
  • JTC / Day 921 / GOP Hypocrisy on Veterans
  • Rep. Antonio Delgado / Update on Work Done for Our Veterans
  • Assemblymember Didi Barrett / For Every Veteran, Dignity is an Essential Part of Services

Please email us ( with any comments; we would love to hear from you. Thank you for staying with us! If you do not yet receive our emails you can signup HERE

Welcome to intelligent life – THE ENVIRONMENT (#3)

Welcome to intelligent life – EDUCATION (#2)

Welcome to intelligent life (#1)

The theme for this month’s eblast reflects Women’s History Month.

Day 1092 – House Of Criminals

Articles of impeachment against Donald Trump were read into the Senate record yesterday and Senators were sworn in as jurors by Justice John Roberts.  The trial starts on Tuesday and it’s still unclear whether any witnesses will be called, but it’s clear that pressure is mounting on Republican Senators to resist the urge to dismiss the inquiry or treat it with contempt, especially because new evidence continues to emerge.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO), a non-partisan watchdog agency, submitted its report yesterday on the withholding of aid to Ukraine, concluding that the Trump administration broke the law by not dispensing the aid sooner.  The GAO noted that the aid was withheld for political reasons, not for any legitimate purpose in line with the directives of Congress–a violation of the law.  SO when Trump and Republicans say that the president shouldn’t be impeached because he never violated the law, the GAO begs to differ.  And this is a big deal.  In a normal administration this alone would be a scandal but under Trump it’s just another grain of sand on the beach.

Rachel Maddow continued her interview with Giuliani associate Lev Parnas last night, and while the revelations weren’t as big as the first installment, there were several notable items.  First, Parnas implicated former Trump Energy Secretary Rick Perry in the scheme to pressure Ukraine for an investigation into Biden.  Second, Parnas claimed that he worked for Trump’s lawyer Giuliani and in that capacity offered to block the extradition of Russian Mob oligarch Dmytro Firtash to the USA in exchange for help in undermining the Mueller probe.  In addition, Bill Barr was part of these discussions.  These allegations in themselves would be a huge scandal, and another instance of obstruction of justice and dereliction of duty–and perhaps criminal conspiracy. Parnas also claimed that he was in DC for two years and never left the Trump International Hotel during that time, describing the Trump inner circle as a “cult” that he was in the middle of.  His decision to break his silence and give an interview was motivated by the feeling that his Trump “family” had abandoned him and he is scared that the Justice Department prosecuting him is run by William Barr, who he clearly sees as corrupt.  He also said that based on all he has learned, he didn’t believe Joe Biden was guilty of doing anything wrong, noting that VP Biden was simply trying to force Ukraine to get rid of a corrupt prosecutor.

In the wake of the Parnas interview, we’ve still heard nothing from Mike Pompeo, which is especially galling in light of the Yovanovich stalking disclosures.  Why has Pompeo never stood up for or tried to help a member of his own Department of State?  We’ve also heard little from Colludy Rudy, probably because he’s under investigation by the Southern District.  Many of the people implicated by Parnas have claimed they never knew or never met Parnas, yet photos, videos and communications with him continue to surface.  It’s becoming clear that Parnas was a well known Trump insider in the group focused on Ukraine, working with Trump’s legal team and many others in and around the White House. Trump yesterday claimed he didn’t know who Parnas was, so Parnas released a video of himself with Trump at Mar A Lago.  And he says he as more.  Trump is a horrible businessman, but it also turns out he’s an incompetent crook.

Tomorrow is the third annual Women’s March and if you can’t make it to DC or NYC there are sister marches in our area.  One will be in Woodstock NY on Playhouse Lane at 11am, and another will be held in Beacon at Polhill Park at 10am.  See link for more info:

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

Have a nice weekend.


Day 1091 – Parnas Drops Bombs

Yesterday began with Trump holding a press conference with a Chinese delegation to announce phase one of a new “trade deal” with China.  The deal–an affront to free markets and a loser for America–took back seat to Trump’s inane and rambling hour-long speech that included an attack on James Comey, more comments on the impeachment “hoax,” and an attack on China itself for its historical “pillage” of our economy.

Next, Speaker Pelosi addressed the House and called for a vote to affirm the impeachment managers and send the articles of impeachment to the Senate.  The measure passed and the articles were officially submitted to Moscow Mitch for a Senate trial.

But the main event was last night’s absolutely stunning interview of Lev Parnas by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC.  The interview apparently came together quickly so there wasn’t much advance notice–and it was devastating.  A lawyer by his side, Parnas confirmed that Giuliani was on an errand by Trump to get rid of Ambassador Yovanovich and pressure Ukraine president Zelensky to announce an investigation into the Bidens: “There was no other motivation.” They didn’t care about corruption, they only cared about smearing the Bidens.  Giuliani was working directly with Trump and Parnas overheard some of their conversations.  After Zelensky hesitated on delivering an investigation,  Parnas confirmed that Vice President Pence was scheduled to fly to Europe to give Zelensky an ultimatum but the trip was cancelled because the scheme was about to be exposed by a whistleblower.  Also in the loop, claimed Parnas, was Attorney General Bill Barr.  Which makes sense because Trump repeatedly told Zelensky in their infamous phone call to, “Talk to Barr.”  Also in the loop was Congressman Devin Nunes, who was involved in “getting all this stuff on Biden,”  as well as several Fox Network personalities like Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing.  

Last night’s interview was only part one, with part two scheduled for broadcast tonight.  So we may not have seen the end of damning new information.  But it now seems clear that, as Gordon Sondland stated to Congress, “Everyone was in the loop.”  This was devastating stuff for Pence, Barr and Nunes, not to mention Trump and Giuliani.  Rumors have circulated for months about the involvement of Pence in the Ukraine scheme, but now we have direct testimony tying him to an effort to strong-arm president Zelensky.  It’s also highly troubling that Bill Barr might have been aware of all of these activities and done nothing, or worse, been involved.  “Talk to Barr.”

The Vichy Republicans in the Senate may not care that this explosive, damning testimony has just emerged.  They may stick with their cult leader Trump to the bitter end.  But it will become increasingly difficult for them to explain their inaction to voters, and it will become increasingly likely that their reputations will be permanently stained in the eyes of future generations.  We only need a few thousand people in a few states to vote differently in 2020 than they did in 2016, OR we only need a few thousand people in a few states who didn’t vote in 2016 to come out and vote in 2020.  And with every explosive revelation, with every crooked detail, more Americans are going to be disgusted and enraged by the conduct of Trump and his corrupt cabinet.

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

Day 1090 – The Disgraceful Mister Hyde

CNN hosted a debate last night between the top six Democratic presidential hopefuls as the Iowa caucuses loom.  The candidates have been coming into sharper focus, but there were few fireworks or big surprises in the debate.

Bigger news broke away from the debate as documents were released to the public last night via the lawyer to indicted Giuliani goon Lev Parnas. A trove of communication between Parnas, Giuliani and others revealed that Ukraine Ambassador Yovanovich was under surveillance by a group of non-governmental persons apparently organized and overseen by a Connecticut Republican consultant and current Congressional candidate, Robert F. Hyde.  Mr. Hyde was already well known for disgusting and racist tweets directed at Ilhan Omar and Kamala Harris, so Hyde’s involvement in a shady effort in the Ukraine to surveil Ambassador Yovanovich seemed on-brand.  But some of the communications released by Parnas imply that there may have been a plot to do Yovanovich harm.  Some are even wondering if it was an assassination conspiracy.  On page 19 of the release, Hyde tells Parnas that his surveillance guys:

“…are willing to help if we/you would like a price.  Guess you can do anything in Ukraine with money…what I was told.”

What the hell could that mean, other than something deeply nefarious?

Also released was a letter from Giuliani to the Ukraine president stating clearly that Trump (as private citizen) had “knowledge and consent” of Giuliani’s actions–the first concrete evidence we have of Giuliani’s true role as a tool of Trump rather than a rogue.

All of these disclosures must be troubling for an already rattled Trump. The bags under his eyes keep getting bigger and bluer. And the documents are already being folded into the impeachment articles currently held by Speaker Pelosi, whose strategy is appearing more and more shrewd with every passing day as pressure mounts on Moscow Mitch McConnell to hold a Senate impeachment trial with witnesses.  Reports continue to surface claiming that the Democrats now have the votes to ensure documents and witnesses when the time comes.

Keep your eye on this Ukraine story.  There are still redacted documents from Parnas that have not been released, so more information will likely surface.  Meanwhile, keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

Day 1089 – The Permanent Stain

The week started off quickly.  Monday was a torrent of news, beginning with a rash of crazy tweets and re-tweets from our Liar-In-Chief Donald Trump.  Trump first insisted that the Suleimani threat was imminent even though we know now it wasn’t.  Trump then insisted that it doesn’t matter whether the threat was imminent.  Then Trump responded to Senator Cory Booker’s withdrawal from the presidential race with a disgracefully juvenile and mocking attack.  Then he took another swing at Speaker Pelosi and the impeachment process.  Then he proclaimed that he has been a great protector of Pre-Existing Conditions!  (A blatant lie).  He also retweeted a mutilated corpse, misspelled Bernie Sander’s name, confused imminent with eminent, and retweeted a doctored image of Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer in Iranian clerical clothing.  Trump is clearly feeling the pressure of his looming impeachment trial–a stain that can never be removed, as Speaker Pelosi noted yesterday–not to mention the widespread ridicule he received after his slurring, argle-bargle speech about the Suleimani assassination.

Some of Trump’s anxiety must be coming from the fact that the impeachment trial in the Senate won’t just amount to a quick vote.  Reporting last night suggested that McConnell does not have the votes to carry a quick resolution to dismiss the charges, and there might even be enough Republican senators to vote with Democrats on hearing witnesses and seeing documents, something Moscow Mitch McConnell has been resisting.  And polling indicates that the public overwhelmingly wants to see a legitimate trial, putting further pressure on moderate Republicans to keep McConnell from completely covering everything up for Trump. If John Bolton were to testify, it could be very bad news for Don the Con.

We also learned yesterday that Russia hacked the Ukrainian gas company Burisma that once employed Hunter Biden.  The Russians were likely looking for dirt on Biden to help Trump in the 2020 election.  The hack was a sure sign of things to come. Russia will continue to look for ways to divide America and help their puppet win a second term.  How better to destroy America than from within? Just elect an incompetent pathological liar with bad judgement, lousy character and an obsession with revenge–who employs cabinet members that want to destroy the agencies they run.

We will have to contend with Russian propaganda as the year moves forward.  And we are already seeing an increase in social media activity in our district by Republicans, both locals and national groups like the NRCC.  Retired General Tony German just withdrew from the Republican nomination for Congress in NY-19, leaving fashion designer Ola Hawatmeh as the lone candidate–for now.  But that hasn’t stopped a variety of voices from suddenly attacking Rep Delgado on social media.  Some call him a Trump defender because he didn’t come out early for impeachment, while others attack him for supporting impeachment and attacking Trump.  Many criticize him for his silence on certain hot-button issues like New York’s recent bail reform legislation, or whether or not Suleimani was a “terrorist.”  But the GOP will have a tough time defeating Delgado with their current candidate.  And they are going to have to defend A LOT of seats this year, spreading their resources and cash thin.

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

Day 1088 – The Great Switch

It hasn’t been lost on many politically minded Americans that the Republican party has betrayed most of the principles they once held dear.  For decades Republicans pretended to be the zealous guardians of the rule of law.  They stood up for “family values” and ridiculed divorce, much less infidelity.  They supported without question our intelligence agencies, including the CIA and FBI.  They championed free trade and abhorred tariffs. And they screamed bloody murder about deficits.  But in the age of Trump, these things no longer matter to Republicans.

As Perry Bacon Jr. pointed out last month on the Five Thirty Eight website, while Republicans used to define themselves by principles, Democrats used to define themselves by identity.  Democrats resembled a coalition of identities, including ethnicity, gender and orientation. Here’s a link:

Under Trump, however, Democrats have embraced many principles and institutions formerly heralded by Republicans. Support for the Justice System. Reverence for the Constitution. Helping and bolstering families–in whichever way they are configured.  Protecting children. Cautious backing of law enforcement. Opposition to tariffs.  Championing fiscal responsibility.

At the same time, Republicans now see themselves less defined by principles than by identity. They have become the guardians of whiteness in America, and Trump is their symbol.  According to Bacon,

Trump is defending the identities of people who align themselves with the GOP, and this is a more powerful connection and reason to back him than pure ideological concerns. In defending Trump, conservative voters are really defending themselves.

That last line is critically important.  When we attack Trump, his supporters feel attacked.  They take it personally because he isn’t some distant politician in the White House, he has become a symbol–an embodiment–of their grievances.  Keep in mind the great line about Trumpers from Adam Serwer in the Atlantic:

…this is what they always wanted: a president who embodies the rage they feel toward those they hate and fear, while reassuring them that that rage is nothing to be ashamed of.

The Trump cult doesn’t care about principles.  His supporters want to feel good about themselves again.  The fear and hatred they feel, fed and fostered by Fox and Limbaugh, is excused and promoted by Trump. Imagine living for three or four decades in a nation where your bigotry, misogyny and intolerance were increasingly called out and shamed, and along comes a guy who says, “you shouldn’t be ashamed to feel that way.”  That’s what Trump did, and that matters to his supporters.  It matters so much, they abandoned whatever values, principles, scruples and common sense they had in order to join his cult.

The more clearly we see and understand the Trump phenomenon the more effectively we can work against it.  Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

Day 1085 – How To Expand The Electorate

Across the country activists gathered last night to urge “#NoWarWithIran” to our lawmakers and neighbors, while at the same time the House of Representatives was passing a War Powers Resolution meant to curtail Trump’s ability to make war with Iran.  The resolution was non binding, but the Senate will consider a similar resolution soon that will be binding and, if passed, will proceed to the House for final passage and delivery to the president.  It’s likely to be vetoed by Trump, and it’s unlikely that the Senate will have the votes to override the veto.  But Trump does not currently have the legal authority to attack Iran–even Republicans in Congress admit this–so the new resolution is more a symbolic reminder than an urgent legislative prohibition.

Looking ahead to the November election, it’s worth thinking about the best way to use our energy and activism to defeat Trump, elect more Progressives, and keep incumbent Progressives in office.  Kristee Paschall published an excellent and detailed op-ed in the New York Times yesterday about community outreach and building grass roots voting power that every activist should read.  Here’s an excerpt:

Our approach was fueled by a simple belief that when you add new voices and change the electorate, you can shift what is politically possible. We found that our model was equally effective at turning out both voters of color and white voters. We didn’t have to choose between them or sacrifice older voters for younger ones. Engaging these voters is not a mutually exclusive proposition. Our community leaders intentionally talked to anyone who was not politically active.

This method of deep organizing blows up business-as-usual electoral politics. It threatens the huge paychecks of political consultants and strategists on both sides of the aisle who parachute into communities for elections. The progressive political industry spent $5.7 billion on congressional races alone in 2018. Much of that went to the usual Beltway power brokers who focus on tired attack ads or the vote for so-and-so emails. Our model, however, keeps money and power in the communities whose votes will change the electorate.

The above sentence was bolded for emphasis.  Rather than canvass likely voters, Paschall’s team reached out to people who had not voted or rarely voted, engaging them and listening to their concerns and frustrations.  The results exceeded their expectations.  Here’s the full article:

Voter canvassing tends to focus on known Democrats and likely voters, and they are an important group to engage and urge to the polls. But we need more than this group to ensure success against Trump and the GOP’s big-money PAC machine that will surely spend a fortune on our congressional district.  Expanding our reach to include neighbors not traditionally targeted can have a big impact, especially when neighbors reach out to neighbors.

Have a nice weekend.  Keep resisting and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.’

Day 1084 – “The Worst Briefing” Ever

Our previous blog post contended that Trump’s assassination of Iran’s General Suleimani was decided without any imminent threat.  Yesterday Trump gave a short speech about the Iran situation and, aside from the fact that the speech was a soulless, monotonous, rambling, snorting mess of mispronounced words and factual lies, Trump gave no new detail nor evidence to support his claim of an imminent threat. Trump’s detachment was in fact so disturbing that many on social media were speculating that he might be medicated.

Later in the day members of the Senate were given their first classified briefing by the White House on the Suleimani hit, and the briefing was such a disaster that Republican Mike Lee of Utah complained angrily to a reporter afterwards that it was the worst briefing he’s seen in his nine years in Congress, and that it was an insult to the Senators in attendance.  Other Senators echoed Lee’s sentiments, adding that the White House was unable to substantiate that the assassination was tied to any imminent threat and instead gave the impression that it was done simply in retaliation for recent aggression by Iran.  In other words, the assassination was probably not legal, and was yet another example of Trump pretending to be tough and taking impulsive action without considering the consequences.

Several of Trump’s high-profile cult of supporters must have sensed the public relations disaster unfolding and tried limit the damage by going on offense.  Republican Rep Doug Collins from Georgia said on Fox Cable that Democrats are “in love with terrorists, we see that they mourn Suleimani more than they mourn our gold star families,” which had observers like Preet Bharara calling Collins statement “an abomination…pathetic.” In response to members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who were moving to rein in Trump by amending the War Powers Act, Lindsey Graham said they were “emboldening the enemy,” to which Rand Paul–of all people–replied of Graham: “He insults the Constitution.”  Trump’s reckless actions are now finally dividing some in his own party, which is a small but positive sign.

On the local front, another Republican challenger to Rep Antonio Delgado formally announced this week.  She filed last Fall but was apparently in the exploratory phase until now.  Her name is Ola Hawatmeh, a 42-year old fashion designer and CEO from Poughkeepsie.  She’s a big Trump supporter, calling him “one of the best presidents” while criticizing Delgado for supporting impeachment.  She’s a cancer survivor and claims to want people with pre-existing conditions to have and keep their insurance, so it will be interesting to hear why she supports a president who has worked so hard to take coverage away from so many people.

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”