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MONTHLY EBLAST

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.

Contributors

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 (msw@Indivisiblethefightison.com) 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 1032 – Pernicious Lying

Over the weekend, in the wake of the impeachment hearings, millions Americans were wondering how so many members of the Republican party–like our neighbor to the north, Rep Elise Stefanik–could lie so blatantly and persistently about facts that should be obvious to any thinking person.  For example, how could Republicans say Trump didn’t ask Ukraine for a personal favor when the transcript released by Trump’s White House showed him doing it?  How could Republicans claim that Rep Adam Schiff was “gagging the minority” in the impeachment hearings when in fact he was following the long-standing rules passed by Republicans years ago and applying them evenly to both parties?  Why does the Republican party get away with so much shameless and pernicious lying?

In a word, Fox.

Trump and his cult and all the Republican politicians who support him are merely a symptom of a deeper disease.  Beginning at least thirty years ago, AM talk radio began featuring ultra-right-wing “shock jocks” who spewed the most vile, salacious, and false stories, generating attention and earning the broadcasters a lot of money.  People like Limbaugh, Beck, Jones, Savage and Hannity made millions of dollars fearmongering, scapegoating, demonizing and dividing.  And because they were on the fringes, listened to by truck drivers and retirees, they weren’t treated seriously.  But their subject matter and tone were eventually dragged into the mainstream by Roger Ailes at the fledgling Fox network, where Ailes cynically called it “news” even though it was really gossip and uninformed opinion.  For example, Sean Hannity isn’t a journalist, he’s just a guy with a lot of opinions pretending his views have some sort of authority.  He never graduated from college and worked as a house painter before becoming a radio talk show host, eventually discovering that hateful, divisive rhetoric earned him a lot of money.

Fox has been a major source of disinformation and fearmongering for the two decades since, enabling an entire party and its supporters to remain outside the reach of facts and real reporting.  As propaganda, it’s been very effective.  And it’s a cancer at the heart of our Democracy.  As long as a major cable network convinces its viewers that up is down and black is white, our nation will be divided.  As long as Fox employs liars and partisan hacks and industry stooges, its viewers will remain in a bubble of delusion.  Moreover, as long as Fox continues to demonize Democrats and liberals and judges and scientists and journalists and civil servants and women and minorities, we will experience increasing violence and division.

It’s important to protest Trump and climate change and reproductive freedom and immigrant rights, but we’re approaching the inescapable reality that these issues all rest on a foundation of institutional propaganda.  The smarter choice for activists may be to protest Fox in any way they can.  Scorn Fox’s advertisers.  Confront Fox employees on why they support a business of hate and lies.  Picket Fox offices on Sixth Avenue in New York City–a city Fox often demonizes and ridicules.  Until Fox approaches their news network–especially their opinion programs–with a minimum of editorial integrity and journalistic standards our nation will continue to be divided on basic facts–facts ranging from the minor (Trump’s inaugural crowd size) to the major (the connection between human carbon emissions and a rapidly warming planet).

Keep resisting and keep working to “vote his ass out of office” if he isn’t removed first.

Day 1029 – Boring Yet Very Criminal

News broke yesterday that Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani was under investigation by the Feds for campaign finance violations and possible bribery of foreign officials, probably falling under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  Giuliani has been under a microscope ever since his Ukrainian goons were indicted several weeks ago, and since then it appears that one of them, Lev Parnas, might have decided to cut a deal and work prosecutors.  Parnas was apparently hurt and angered when Trump claimed he didn’t know Parnas, who has reportedly spent much time in Trump’s orbit.  Giuliani is the second of Trump’s personal lawyers to be investigated, the first being Michael Cohen who is serving a three-year term for campaign finance violations. As others have noted, Everything Trump Touches Dies.

The continuing fallout from the impeachment inquiry seemed to land in one of two categories yesterday.  Democrats remained steadfast and serious in their determination to call more witnesses and expose more evidence of a bribery and extortion scheme by Trump and his circle.  Republicans remained committed to a delusional alternate reality where up is down and wrong is right, insisting that Russia had no role in election interference and anyway insisting the impeachment hearings are boring and lack drama.

This last claim is worth of our attention and resistance.  If the standard for justice in our legal system requires drama and pizzazz, our republic is lost.  Crime is often boring, especially white collar crime.  Al Capone wasn’t sent to jail for murder–he was sent away for tax evasion.  So activists have to beat back the notion that a web of extortion and deceit can’t amount to an impeachable offense because it’s too complicated and dull.  Trump enlisted a team of people outside the administration to pressure Ukraine to accept his corrupt demands.  It went beyond a single phone call.  And now we’re learning the details of how this scheme was conducted.

We have to hammer home a simple message.  A president who engages in bribery to help his re-election while hurting our foreign policy and making us less safe is unfit for office.  Trump has exposed his moral bankruptcy and lack of character.  His actions are indefensible and unacceptable. 

The public inquiry continues today with former Ambassador Yovanovitch scheduled to testify, so stay tuned, keep resisting, and keep working to “vote his ass out of office” if he isn’t removed first.

Day 1028 – Impeachment Hearings Begin

The much-anticipated impeachment hearings of Donald Trump began yesterday in the House of Representatives, chaired by California Rep Adam Schiff.  The first two witnesses, Ambassador George Taylor and Diplomat George Kent, were highly credible and went out of their way to remain non-partisan despite an attempt by Republicans to cast them as Never Trumpers.

On balance, yesterday’s testimony bolstered what we already knew about Trump’s attempted extortion of Ukraine, and Ambassador Taylor also added a previously unknown piece to the puzzle.  According to Taylor, one of his staff was present when EU Ambassador Sondland called Trump on an unsecured cell-phone and overheard Trump asking Sondland about whether Ukraine had agreed to an investigation of Biden.  This report destroys the GOP talking point that Trump didn’t know what his people were doing in Ukraine–aside from the horrifying breach of security and protocol of having a high-level unsecured cell phone call in Ukraine!  (But her emails!)

Republicans keep revising their defense of the president as the facts and evidence mount against them.  First, they said there was no quid pro quo.  But the original summary of Trump’s phone call–along with testimony in the closed-door depositions–proved them wrong.  Then they said all of the witness testimony was second-hand.  But the testimony of NSC Head Colonel Vindman, and later Pence staffer Jennifer Williams, proved them wrong.  Then they said Trump couldn’t be directly connected to the pressure on Ukraine.  But today’s testimony by Taylor proved them wrong.  The GOP endgame is increasingly clear.  They will be forced to say that while Trump extorted Ukraine for dirt on Biden in exchange for US military aid, it doesn’t rise to the level of an impeachable offense.

Which leads us to two questions.  If Trump’s extortion isn’t impeachable, what is?  And if Trump can extort foreign governments to help him with elections, what will the next president do, perhaps to his or her Republican opponents?  What will stop future presidents from extorting with impunity?  Is such unscrupulous behavior something that Congress wants to sanction?

I’m not hopeful that anything the House Democrats do can move the Trump cult away from Trump, and that includes Senate Republicans.  It’s hard to imagine any scenario that sways McConnell and his caucus to abandon Trump.  But the impeachment process is important.  It’s an exercise in morality under the most morally bankrupt president and administration in modern history.  It will be a useful cudgel to bash Republican Senators in swing states next year.  And it will continue to weaken Trump’s support at the margins.

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office” if he isn’t removed first.

Day 1022 – Trump Charity Misconduct

Here are the highlights of yesterday’s news:

President Trump was ordered to pay $2 million to settle a lawsuit charging that the Trump Foundation charity misused funds to further his political and business interests, and Trump also agreed to close the Foundation and disburse all remaining funds, totaling $1.7 million.  Despite complaining about his treatment by the legal system, Trump admitted to misconduct in the settlement.  The lawsuit by the New York State attorney general alleged “persistently illegal conduct.” This outcome is only the latest disgraceful legal verdict against Trump, who also lost a huge fraud case relating to Trump University.

White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney was formally subpoenaed yesterday to testify to the House this morning, and while he will surely refuse, his refusal will be added to the growing list of instances of obstruction that will be part of the inevitable articles of Trump’s impeachment.

Billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took actions yesterday that keep the door open for him to make a presidential run as a Democrat.  According to reports, he hadn’t made up his mind yet, but is losing faith that the current group of Democrats will be able to take on Trump effectively.  On one hand, Bloomberg has an excellent track record as an administrator and has proven himself an able critic of Trump, but does the Democratic field need another billionaire, much less one from New York City?  Social media lit up yesterday after the report broke, and the reaction seemed mostly negative.

Perhaps yesterday’s most disturbing and outrageous news came out of the Senate.  Trump judicial nominee Steven Menashi was approved by the Judiciary Committee and now heads to the full Senate for a vote.   Menashi was nominated to the second highest court in the land despite a history of heinous statements and positions, which are summarized well by the Alliance For Justice:

https://www.afj.org/our-work/nominees/steven-menashi

While Trump produces a non-stop stream of scandals, his administration continues to pack the courts with extreme right-wing partisan hacks, the onslaught aided by Moscow Mitch McConnell.  As long as Trump continues to install the institutional architecture necessary for conservatives to perpetuate white privilege (resting on misogyny, racism, homophobia, exclusion, etc.) the Republicans in Congress will continue to support him.  They are willing to trash all of their values, principles and scruples to ensure a retrogressive and corporatist agenda, and this is what we are up against.

As we approach impeachment and more corroboration comes out of the House impeachment inquiry, Trump and the Republicans are constantly changing their defense strategy.  The endgame seems to be this:

Breaking the law isn’t a crime!

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

NOTE: I will be traveling and unable to blog for the next five days.  I’ll start up again next Thursday.

Day 1021 – So Many Scandals

Yesterday was a busy news day.  These are the stories you need to know about.

1)  Reporting surfaced that Trump asked AG William Barr to hold a news conference declaring that Trump broke no laws in his phone call with the president of Ukraine–but Barr refused.  Thus far, Barr had done Trump’s bidding to an astonishing and scandalous degree.  Barr is more Trump’s personal attorney than the top law enforcement officer of America.  Barr lied to the public about the Mueller report and recently went abroad to push foreign intelligence services to give him dirt on our own intel agencies in an effort to discredit the genesis of the Mueller probe.  An intel agent in England was so shocked by Barr’s visit that he told the press that “they are basically asking, in quite robust terms, for help in doing a hatchet job on their own intelligence services”.  Apparently, telling the nation that Trump did not commit a crime was a bridge too far for Barr to cross.

2) Donald Trump Jr. outed a person he believes to be the Ukraine whistleblower, though no confirmation has been offered by any reputable journalist, in part because the disclosure may have been a crime.  If Junior does not face a criminal inquiry, it’s only because the DOJ is run by William Barr, a corrupt Trump toady.  

3) The impeachment inquiry will begin open hearings next Wednesday, starting with testimony from former Ukraine ambassador Taylor whose closed door testimony was devastating to Trump and produced a strong reaction of disgust from Congressional Reps who were in the room.  Closed door depositions will continue to occur, including a member if Vice President Pence’s staff scheduled to appear today.  This whole process is moving quickly and efficiently compared to prior impeachment inquiries.

4) It was announced late last night by China that the USA and China had reached an agreement to scale back tariffs in phases.  If confirmed by the USA, this will surely lift the stock market today, but much damage has already been done, especially to groups like soybean farmers, manufacturers, and importers.  The bottom line here: Trump lit a raging fire that burned a lot of hard-working Americans and now he might be close to putting the fire out and taking credit for his arson.  It’s highly likely–especially because Trump is a weak and incompetent negotiator–that we will end the China trade war with no meaningful gains, ending up right back where regulations stood before Trump went on his rampage.

5) A new study was released this week that included the backing of 11,000 scientists from around the world declaring a climate emergency and offering six steps that the world must take to mitigate the damage.  The report notes that we’ve known about this problem for forty years and have essentially taken no meaningful action.  Here’s coverage from WaPo:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/2019/11/05/more-than-scientists-around-world-declare-climate-emergency/

6) Trump was in Louisiana last night for yet another emotional support rally, and it’s important to point out that his dishonest rhetoric is becoming increasingly outrageous and dangerous.  He demonizes Democrats in increasingly extreme and inflammatory terms, and takes a tone that’s often so desperately angry that it’s easy to imagine his supporters perpetrating violence against his critics.  His instinct and strategy is always to divide.

Keep resisting and keep working to “vote his ass out of office” if he isn’t removed first.

Day 1020 – Quid Pro Whoa!

Yesterday was election day and while Democrats did well nationally, not much changed in Dutchess County.  Republican Marc Molinaro remains our County Executive, the County Legislature remains in Republican hands, and Republican Bill Grady appears to have won a narrow victory for County DA.  To prove the point that every vote counts, the race for county legislator in District 11, including Rhinebeck and Clinton, appears to have been won by one vote.  Incumbent Democrat Brennan Kearney garnered 2,165 while Republican challenger Howard Traudt received 2,164.  Seems likely that this race will be recounted or contested or whatever county candidates do when the margin of victory is a single vote.  But it should also be a wake-up call that Liberals and Progressives need to continue to organize and expand in Dutchess County.

In the next day or two we will see more analysis of the turnout and the voting trends in our county (and neighboring counties), but for now it seems that Dutchess remains, on balance, a red county.

On the national stage, a Democrat beat the unpopular incumbent Republican in the race for Governor of Kentucky. Democrat Andy Beshar beat Matt Bevin by about five-thousand votes.  While other state-wide Kentucky races were won by Republicans, the state should be solidly red and it’s not, which has big implications for next year’s Senate race between “Moscow Mitch” McConnell and challenger Amy McGrath.  McConnell should be very concerned by Beshar’s win.

The other important outcome occurred in Virginia where, despite Republican attempts at extreme gerrymandering, Democrats managed to win control of both chambers of the state legislature for the first time in 25 years.  Democrats only needed to flip two seats to take the Virginia House of Delegates but managed to pick up at least five (with several still too close to call).  The Governor was already a Democrat, so many experts were concluding that Virginia has morphed from a purple state to a solidly blue state.

One thing seemed clear from this election.  Democrats suffered no impeachment penalty at the polls.  In fact, the Virginia and Kentucky outcomes suggest that, if anything, the Democrats received an impeachment bonus.  This could have huge national implications for the 2020 election.

On the subject of impeachment, more massive news broke yesterday.  The millionaire Republican who bought an ambassadorship to the EU, Gordon Sondland, “updated” his congressional testimony in light of disclosures from other witnesses, contending that he now recalls that Trump did, indeed, condition aid to the Ukraine on their providing dirt on the Bidens and their making a public announcement of such.  In other words, Sondland affirmed that Trump was demanding a quid pro quo.  Sondland apparently decided that he would rather tell the truth than face perjury charges.  Recall that Sondland was the one Trump official whose testimony didn’t fit with all the others and Trump made much of this, lying that Sondland’s initial testimony proved there was no quid pro quo.  Trump’s alternate version of events no longer has a backer.

We also learned yesterday from newly released deposition testimony that Trump operatives produced a script for Ukraine President Zelensky to read when making the asked-for public announcement that Ukraine was investigating the Bidens.  The Ukraine bribery/extortion shakedown wasn’t just a phone call. It was a coordinated plan carried out by a team led by Rudy Giuliani that included an actual script of what they wanted Zelensky to say.  This is highly damning and incriminating stuff.

Bribery is explicitly outlined in the Constitution as a basis for impeachment.

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office” if he isn’t removed first.  As we’ve seen, every vote counts.

Day 1019 – VOTE TODAY!

Please vote today.  Local elections are vitally important and are often won or lost by a handful of votes.  When we vote, we win, and our communities win.  When we don’t vote we let others determine the policies that shape our lives.  Don’t give the power of your vote away to anyone else.

VoteToday1

It’s surreal that a year from today we will be voting again, for a new president.  Trump has only been president for three years but it seems like a decade.  Every day is a mind-numbing barrage of insults, scandals, gaffes, lies and blunders.  His corrupt administration has gone a long way toward destroying many of the agencies they run. it will take years to build crucial agencies like the EPA, Agriculture, Justice and State back into robust, non-political institutions–assuming we don’t get four more years of Trump.

Send Trump and the feckless Republicans a message of disapproval and vote today.

Keep resisting and keep working to “vote his ass out of office” if he isn’t removed first.