The Disconnect is Real

twentytwentynews, surreal times, trump, politics, climate change

Jerry Waters, Contributor

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been feeling pretty disconnected lately. Disconnected in the sense that I don’t understand the hostility and self-righteousness and fear that’s screaming at me from conservatives. I used to be able to disagree without it becoming personal. Hell, we used to be able to find some small middle ground on which to discover mutual respect, but that’s nonexistent now.

Normally, I write about science and the environment. Usually, those are safely nerdy topics that don’t generate a tsunami of political heat. But lately, that hasn’t been the case. I’ve been threatened and ridiculed over things that I never imagined would be controversial politically. I mean, clean air and water? Space exploration? Conservation of natural resources? Yeah, I get that there are conflicting sides and different interests at stake, but I don’t understand the vitriol from the right.

We all still live on the same planet, right?

I mean, why is the head of the EPA hell bent on rolling back every regulation that protects the beautiful country we live in? Do people really want coal ash, fracking byproducts, and other chemicals in their drinking water with no legal means of recourse against the companies doing the polluting?

Why, again, are we drilling for oil off our coastlines? Why are we unnecessarily hastening environmental reviews for major construction projects destined to kill endangered species and lay waste to natural landscapes?

More importantly, why are Trumpsters and conservatives so mad at me for caring about the environment or worrying about the consequences of space exploration and research? They love to hurl insults and threats, but they’re very thin-skinned if you push back at all.

I’ve been amazed at watching them make excuses. The “tax cut” fiasco which explodes our deficit and exacerbates wealth inequality. Ignoring the fact that the Russians definitely and calculatingly interfered with our elections. Their stunning failure to fix healthcare and their laughable plan to repair our nation’s infrastructure. They worship Trump as infallible and excuse his every ignorant, crass, and dangerous remarks. They live in a toxic, mind-numbing, non-permeable bubble of misinformation and propaganda.

Perhaps, I’m not the one who is so disconnected after all. Indeed, “the Russians are laughing their asses off” because we suffer such an ignoramus, who is systematically dismantling our government and squandering our diminishing natural resources for his own profit and self-aggrandizement.

I will continue to write about the environment and science, but I had to get that off my chest. Each day, I’m sickened that Scott Pruitt is in charge of the EPA and that our children’s education is in the comically incompetent hands of Betsy DeVos. While we were distracted by the dizzying displays of perpetual White House scandal, Trump presented a budget that eliminated funding for public broadcasting and for NASA’s education programs. I mean, this shithead wants to get rid of the TVA and defund any efforts to produce renewable energy.

It’s exhausting keeping up with Trump’s destruction of our beloved country. It’s heartbreaking watching this greedy buffoon and his cronies get rid of necessary environmental regulations and reviews so that they can make a few bucks in the short term.

I’ve no doubt that America will survive this, but it’s clear that every day that Trump is in office that our nation becomes diminished, sicker, and unstable. The anti-environment and anti-science fervor that has swept the Republican party must be stopped in its tracks because the consequences will be deadly.

Forgive my rant, I’ll get back to writing about the things I love, but in the era of Trump I find myself banging my head on my desk regularly.

Ain’t no confusion about that collusion

trump, russia, collusion

Franklin, Contributor

The indictments keep coming and our witless President keeps tweeting his desperate protests that there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russians. Well, except for that meeting in Trump Tower with his son, campaign manager, and a few Russians to discuss, um, um, “adoption”. Or, that time when Kushner tried to open a secret back channel to talk with the Russians because, um, um, well, just because. Or, that little meeting that was arranged by Betsy Davos’ brother, founder of Blackwater, in the Seychelle islands that was meant to be a secret meeting with Russians tied to the Kremlin about Russia’s involvement with Iran, but fake news people ratted him out. Or, Carter Page or Paul Manafort. Or, Trump’s lawyer, Cohen, trying to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

I mean, except for those couple of (several dozen) times and about twenty others that all have, um, um, very logical explanations.

I mean if you can’t trust a president whose friends pay off Playboy Playmates and porn star mistresses to keep quiet about their affairs, who can you trust? Old, fake news, right? Maybe, Putin can be trusted because he gave Trump his word that he’d never, never, never meddle in our elections and even offered to pinky swear to show his sincerity. Putin’s people don’t talk and, if they do, it can take years to find the bodies.

All those reports about Russians loaning Trump piles of money and buying his gaudy over-gilded properties is not, um, money-laundering, um, um, I mean it’s not collusion, it’s just business.

Trump keeps saying there’s no collusion and when he doubles down, like on Obama’s birth certificate or the Central Park Five or “clean” coal or a wall that Mexico will pay for, we know he’s, um, well, committed to the idea. We also know that he’ll do just about anything to get what he wants. Like that time he hired a bunch of illegal immigrants to build Trump Tower and didn’t pay them or the time he flagged rental applications to prevent black people from living in his properties or all the times he lied about his wealth to intimidate others or… well, you get the point.

So, maybe Trump has engaged in some secrets or illegal cooperation or conspiracies, in order to cheat or deceive others a few times in his life… oh, um, shit, that’s the actual definition of collusion. That basically describes Trump’s entire career in real estate and his romantic life. But, hey, the past is the past and Trump wants us to believe that neither he or his campaign wittingly conspired with the Russians to win the election or to amass wealth illegally.

So, Mueller just indicted thirteen Russians for trying to influence the election and for duping witless Trump campaign operatives. Well, that’s not exactly exoneration with the investigation ongoing and more Trump associates making plea deals and secretly meeting with the Special Counsel. But, hey, it’s just a witch-hunt, a hoax, a bunch of loser Democrats claiming that there’s collusion, right?

Let me help clear this up, “Ain’t no confusion about Trump’s collusion!” So much evidence of Trump’s cozy relationship with Russia and their rubles is already public record and Mueller is about to show us the money trail. It’s just a matter of time before all the dots are connected.

The saddest part of this whole story is that the Russian response to the indictment was apropos, “Americans only see what they want to see.” For so many Trumpers, it’s always been that way. Their love for alternative facts was the candy that Russia lavished upon them.

There’s more coming, folks, and if we’re lucky, Trump will get exactly what he has always deserved.

I had to invent a word to describe it: trumpcompetence

twentytwentynews, politics, surreal times, trump

Franklin, Contributor

The word most often used to characterize Trump’s dazzling ignorance and epic displays of ineptitude is “incompetence”, yet it lacks the descriptive power and intrinsic nuance necessary to accurately depict the terrifying chaos he perpetually creates at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Each and every day, there’s a fresh load of proverbial feces hitting the fan in the Oval Office, thrown from his little hands and spewing incessantly from his incoherent maw.

Look, I’m just a middle-class Canine-American trying to launch a news blog and I am just as tired as everyone else who must write about Trump’s daily tweets, imbecilic gaffes, and his uncanny ability to make decisions that harm all but his elitist golf buddies. I am beginning to wear a thunder-shirt and pop a few doggie downers when I have to watch the news. I’m burying bones in fear of the coming Trumpocalypse. As I watch the tremendous and bigly dangerous buffoonery of Trump, I struggle as an editor, with no opposable thumbs, to find synonyms and idioms to attach to his unique amalgam of stupidity, covfefe, and self-worship.

So, I’ve decided to call it “trumpcompetence”.  Here’s how it would look in a dictionary:

  • trump·com·pe·tence

Pronounced: trəmpˈkämpədəns. Noun. The singular and, heretofore, unmatched ability of Donald John Trump to lie in a pathological manner while performing obscene acts of narcissism and simultaneously engaging in the act of destroying government institutions, norms, and protocols through evil, juvenile intent and/or maladroit amateurishness. Please note: incompetence demonstrates a higher proficiency and success rate than trumpcompetence.

Ex. 1, “His whiny insistence on spending millions of dollars on an unnecessary military parade to prove to Little Rocket Man that his missile was bigger and more potent was, indeed, the height of trumpcompetence.”

Ex. 2, “The Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, decided to release a misleading partisan memo revealing classified information in an ongoing investigation critical of the intelligence community to derail the Trump/Russia probe in a desperate act of trumpcompetence that borders on treason.”

Synonyms: bat-shit crazy, Twitler, dumbfuckery, and trumped-up horseshit.

Antonyms: Obama, proficiency, and “the right way of doing it”.

Thankfully, recorded history has few instances that can be compared to trumpcompetence. Nero fiddling while Rome burned or annual recipients of the Darwin Award bear close resemblance, but fail to match Trump’s stamina and consistency when it comes to screwing things up on a regular basis.

Trumpcompetence also has severe, unintended side-effects that have adversely affected conservatives. For example, they have found ways to justify Trump’s payment of $130,000 in hush money to his porn star mistress to earn a “mulligan” from evangelicals. Conservatives that have succumbed to trumpcompetence suddenly embrace huge deficits, uncontrollable growth in the nation’s debt, and now claim to love unlimited government spending.

Even in Alabama, conservative cognitive dissonance is intoxicating as trumpcompetence threatens to destroy NAFTA, which could eliminate 70,000 jobs in the reddest of red states. Further, they celebrate the trumpcompetence of Attorney General Jeff Sessions as he reignites the failed War on Drugs as the solution to the nation’s opioid crisis, which has left a trail of corpses in Alabama. No matter the failure or suffocating stench of the latest trumpcompetence, they are eager to trade in their core beliefs and values to claim they are worn out from all the winning.

Trumpcompetence is why the White House can’t keep staff or fill the hundreds of key positions that have been vacant for over a year. Trumpcompetence is why a Middle East peace deal is now as elusive as a glimpse of Trump’s tax returns. Trumpcompetence is the brazen arrogance of an orange real estate grifter who thinks that no one will ever figure out his glaringly obvious Russian money laundering operation.

Ah, with fond nostalgia, we miss the incompetence of President George W. Bush because it was a huge step up from the trumpcompetence we’re watching today. Even Trump would have to admit that we “misunderestimated” George Bush’s “strategery”.

Well, we can’t wait to see Trump’s second string of White House staffers. Surely, they will perform with the historic trumpcompetence that we’ve come to expect from a man who’s too busy pleasuring himself during “executive time” to be bothered with classified intelligence briefings.

Something tells me that the events that will likely occur under year two of Trump may make the word trumpcompetence obsolete before it even takes off.

We’ll do this again soon, but I gotta go, I’m suddenly feeling trumpstipated…

Dear Paul Ryan: thanks for the extra $1.50! I’ll try not to spend it all in one place.

twentytwentynews, politics, political, news and commentary

Franklin, Contributor

In a recent, but quickly deleted, tweet by Republican Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, he triumphantly declared the following as a victorious declaration regarding the success of the recent Republican tax cuts:

“A secretary at a public high school in Lancaster, PA, said she was pleasantly surprised her pay went up $1.50 a week… she said [that] will more than cover her Costco membership for the year.”

Hell, yes! What more proof does middle-class America need to show that this wasn’t a massive transfer of wealth to the rich while defunding the federal government?

I just checked my paycheck and I got three extra bucks! Thanks to Paul Ryan, I can finally afford to buy about 140 things imported from China with questionable amounts of lead-based paint at the Dollar Tree or purchase 600 gumballs from the machine in the lobby… that’s 12 rock-hard gumballs a week or 6 stale jaw-breakers!!

Oh, the freedom that this unexpected opulence and wealth brings… I can’t even imagine how many gumballs the Koch brothers can buy with the breaks they got!

It’s totally worth a 1.5 Trillion-dollar addition to the deficit. It’s worth defunding so many necessary government programs. C’mon, it’s not really about my awesome financial windfall (43 extra boxes of Milk Bones a year or one concert ticket), but it’s really about the great give-away to the richest in our nation. You know, the “job-creators”! The wouldn’t take the millions they’re receiving and buy back stock or just spend it on new yachts… they’re all about trickling down every penny of those millions upon us!

Right now, I’m so loving the 3-dollar trickle I just got! At this rate, I’ll only need to wait about 2000 dog-years before I get the kind of Milk Bones that Trump’s average Cabinet Member will get.

I just don’t understand why Ryan deleted that awesome tweet. He should be so proud to deliver a public high school secretary such a hug sack of cash. It probably more than makes up for the shitty 2% COLA raise she gets every ten years on the whim of legislators’ largesse. She’s probably so excited by this that it’s possible she may donate the whole thing to the Republican Party for all their efforts to improve education and the environment. Or, she may use the windfall to buy all the supplies she needs to do her job that the school system just can’t pay for. In any case, they’ve removed so many pesky regulations that she might even toast them with a glass of highly suspect water from the break-room faucet.

Oh, Paul Ryan, you are such a champion for working class folks! We are so grateful for the few unexpected bucks you gave us each week. We totally understand why you and your millionaire friends feel entitled to much, much, much, more. It’s only fair, because you guys are the sacred “job creators”!

With the stunning success of these tax cuts, we can’t wait to see what happens now that so many people won’t have access to affordable health insurance. We can’t wait for you to apply this same philosophy to banking regulations or clean water or civil rights. We’ll just sit right here and patiently wait for your amazing trickle down. We love getting trickled on.

So, as we calculate and plan how we’re going to spend our bountiful tax-savings, we just want to thank you, Paul Ryan. You’re the heavenly mix of Eddie Munster and P90X. I plan to borrow $30 so I can afford to buy the Ultimate P90X kit with my extra money this year!

Unfortunately, I’ll never be able to afford your hairstyle or your divine ability to describe a turd as the gift we’ve been waiting for all our lives. Either way, us middle-class folks will try not to spend all our newfound wealth in one place. Thanks, Paul, you’re the fucking best!

Do we need more off-shore drilling (except off Mar-A-Lago, of course)?

oil, rig, maralago, trump, zinke

Jerry Waters, Contributor

If you say, “Drill, baby drill” around a Republican, it appears to have the same effect as an illegal, highly addictive aphrodisiac that’s almost as potent as, “I dig coal”.  Conservatives were elated when Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Accords and downright giddy as his administration took a wrecking ball to environmental regulations that were designed to keep us safe.

Although the world has made monumental strides in developing and producing a multitude of clean energy sources, the Republicans insist on prolonging their dirty affair with oil and fossil fuels for as long as possible. No matter how many pipelines burst an d pollute drinking water or supertankers spill millions of gallons of toxins into the sea, they truly believe that oil and coal are the fuels of our future.

Recently, the Trump administration announced that it intended to open most US coastal waterways for expansive oil drilling, except for Florida.  The new policy doesn’t care if the drilling takes place near endangered species or fragile ecosystems. Yet, it seems that drilling off Florida’s coast could be a bigly distraction to Trump’s weekly, tax-payer funded golf game, so that was quickly nixed.  Other states are applying for the same exemption as Florida, but it depends on whether they are red or blue and how much they are willing to kiss Trump’s ass.

The big question, though, is do we need more off-shore drilling?

The short answer is “No.”

Right now, US oil production is at an all-time high while demand has remained fairly steady. Prices are low. Also, the Trump administration let the oil-spill clean-up tax expire and have no plans for renewing it, which is a huge financial boon to oil companies as supply exceeds demand.  Fracking has turned out to be cheap and profitable. Under Trump, they can now get away with polluting, creating flammable tap-water, and causing earthquakes to their heart’s content.

It’s 15 to 20 times cheaper for US oil companies to drill or frack on land than it is to for them to do off-shore drilling. Even with the stunningly stupid roll-back of drilling safety regulations, there’s not a good business case for increased off-shore drilling. They just want to have that option for the day that they are in direct competition with clean, renewable energy. They want to get every dime possible out of the fossil fuel infrastructure they’ve spent decades creating before it becomes wholly obsolete. Who cares if a few people or some fish die in the process? It’s all about the money, baby.

“Drill, baby, drill” is the ancillary to Trump’s Golden Rule- “Whoever has the gold, makes the rules.” It’s why he put his nefarious minion, Zinke, in charge of the Interior Department. Zinke has flip-flopped on most major environmental issues, but he’s clearly a Trumper today. He has lifted bans on trophy hunting imports, rescinded the ban on bullets that cause lead contamination, and reduced national monuments.

In the spirit of Roy Moore, Zinke rode a horse to his swearing-in. Even better, when he’s not chartering private jets at tax-payer expense, he demands that The Flag of The Secretary of the Interior be flown after a small ceremony whenever he is in the building. I promise, I’m not making this stuff up!

Zinke is hell-bent on destroying our public lands and water-ways to ensure that big business can exploit them any way they see fit. Besides, now that he’s raised the price of admission to most parks, you can’t afford to go there anyway.

His love of the “Drill, baby, drill” mantra isn’t necessarily practical, but it’s brazenly political. Zinke wants big business to know that he’s got their back and that he’s not going to let something like a protected or endangered species get in the way of making a few bucks. I mean, fuck the Greater Sage-Grouse, really!

So,with all of Trump’s focus on eliminating safety regulations, and pesky Greater Sage-Grouses, for Big Oil, what could possibly go wrong?

I’m sure Zinke has the stable, genius answer and will point us to that over-used scripture that he has marked with a Post-It in his Bible about “Man having dominion over the earth” while he’s loading his gun to kill some big game animal to decapitate and put on his office wall.

By the way, that Flag of The Secretary of the Interior better be flying when he comes back to the office with his new trophy, or there’s going to be some serious Hell to pay!

“I cannot recall”: the rapid descent into Trump’s “shithole”

trump, shithole, twentytwentynews

Clete Wetli, Contributor

When asked about Trump’s mind-numbingly racist and vulgar comments regarding immigration from “shithole” places like Haiti and Africa whilst the “stable genius” pined for more white Norwegians to come to America, repugnant Republican Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue respectively claimed, “I cannot recall”.

Oh, the “selective memory defense” so expertly wielded by intellectual giants like Jefferson Beauregard Sessions and so many others of his ilk as they attempt to defend the indefensible.

Despite confirmation that all the other Senators present in the discussion heard Trump spew this insult, Cotton and Perdue issued a joint statement saying, “We do not recall the president saying those comments specifically but what he did call out was the imbalance in our current immigration system, which does not protect American workers and our national interest.”

They just eagerly jumped into Trump’s “shithole” gleefully joining him in defecating on statesmanship, protocol, and, most importantly, the truth.

Since the “shithole” comments became public, the airwaves have been full of hysterical right-wing pundits trying to justify Trump’s banal vulgarity and feebly denying his clear history of racist remarks. They sound disingenuous, foolish, and weary; for they know that they have sold their character and souls.

In a year’s time, Trump has done the unimaginable. He is single-handedly turning America into a “shithole” by haphazardly destroying critical environmental, financial, and educational regulations. He is widening wealth disparity with his crappy tax policy that overwhelmingly benefits the rich. He has diminished our stature on the world stage and has recklessly promoted violence and international conflict.

Every week it’s a new controversy, a new embarrassment, and a collective gasp as “the bar” plumbs new unfathomable lows. Yeah, right after “shithole-gate”, the latest news is that Trump’s personal lawyer paid out $130,000 in hush money to a porn star so that she wouldn’t go public about her sexual encounters that presumably ended in a Trump hump.

(Don’t feel bad, I got just as queasy as you did.)

There’s no greater joy today in America than sitting down at the kitchen table with your young children having to explain the meaning of “shitholes” and porn stars simply because they came in the room while you happened to be watching the evening news.

It has become simultaneously exhausting and enraging to write about Trump’s efforts to turn America into a “shithole”, while he and his wealthy sycophants find more ways to line their own pockets at the expense of everyone else.  Of course, the Trumpian wealthy are willing partners because they cannot smell the putrid shit from the lofty heights of their gaudy, gilded-towers.

Somehow, he has turned conservatives and Republicans into craven, willing ball-gagged gimps who purposely overlook his abuses, incompetence, misogyny, racism, and pathological selfishness.

Indeed, a year of Trump has been a spectacular shit show and the “shithole” he has created is about to overflow. Democrats will have to strongly unite, find their best shit shovel, and show up to the polls. Republicans, the ones with any decency or dignity left, will have to stand against the monster they created. Otherwise, Trump’s shit will just keep getting deeper and spread even farther.

Things are at a point now where I cannot tolerate Trump supporters. It’s not so much their warped political agenda, but blindly supporting Trump says much about their character, their capacity for cognitive dissonance, and their festering hatred for “others”.

So, Cotton and Perdue claim “they cannot recall” any sort of shit that may have hit the proverbial fan.  They are happy to be on the front lines of Trump’s “shithole” construction project that will rapidly turn America into the land of “haves and have-nots”.

We must remove Trump. He cannot be wished away, or as the saying goes, “wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which one fills up quicker.”

I take a winter vacation and all Hell breaks loose

Twenty Twenty News, Satire, Clete Wetli

Franklin, Contributor

So, I decided to take a little winter break after getting twentytwentynews.com off the ground this last year. As a Canine American without opposable thumbs or vocal chords that are worth a shit, this was no small feat, so I figured I had earned a break and that things would be okay in the capable hands of Clete Wetli, Jerry Waters, Elizabeth Dawson, and others who have helped with this effort. Obviously, that worked about as well putting Harvey Weinstein in charge of Human Resources at a Hooters.

My crew, who assured me that they would keep things running while I was gone, seemed to have also taken a little respite of their own. At least Wetli posted some of his al.com crap here on the site, but he certainly hasn’t been writing new content for us, or annoyingly re-posting it everywhere like used to do.

I called Dawson and she claims she’s been busy making some kind of bizarre post-modern sculptures out of red clay, C-4, and the tear drops of all six moderates left in Alabama. She mentioned something about being busy with the Alabama Women’s Caucus of the Arts and drinking copious amounts of vodka while binge watching Homeland. After muttering some obscenities, she promised she’d come back to work when she ran out of liquor or reached critical mass in her existential crisis, whichever came first.

Yeah, that’s called Tuesday in case you were wondering. Wetli called, but   seemed genuinely surprised when I answered my phone. He thought he’d leave another one of those fake sounding rambling messages, but he heard the guttural disgust in my voice and he begrudgingly agreed that he’d start writing some pieces again. He claims he’s been super busy working on a project with Huntsville Recovery to help deal with substance abuse and the opioid crisis in the community. Cool, I had no idea the guy even had a day job or could even pass a drug test on his best day.

Jerry’s phone was disconnected, so I went over to his apartment which is actually the detached garage at his mother’s house. He was watching a YouTube video on how to build your own massive telescope to detect alien life while he was painting his toe nails lavender. Anyway, I really don’t want to talk about it, but Jerry agreed to begin contributing again. He also signed an agreement to never wear flip-flops to the office.

So, there’s no way to recap the last two and a half months except to acknowledge that Trump hasn’t blown us up, yet. Of course, now we are learning that he’s a self-described “stable genius”, instead of being the annoying, perpetually masturbating, special needs Russia-humping fucktard that we all thought he was.

Somehow, we have all survived a year of Trump the depraved, moronic dipshit and his repugnant Republican Congressional sycophantic whores. They have been working hard to erase all the progress we enjoyed during the Obama years and they are determined to change our noble democracy into the worst of kakistocracies for their own enrichment.

Well, I’m back in the office now and I promise that we’ll start cranking out some insightful commentary on the news once again, First, I have to figure out which stable genius decided to put “Africa” by Toto on a perpetual loop every time I turn on computer.

“The wild dogs cry out in the night
As they grow restless, longing for some solitary company
I know that I must do what’s right
As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti
I seek to cure what’s deep inside, frightened of this thing that I’ve become”- yeah, try to get some work done with that shit blaring. It really makes me wonder if Trump wrote those lyrics… nothing shocks me anymore.
So, it’s good to be back and this dog is ready to hunt again.

People, Principle, and Character before Party? Not This Candidate.

partisan, politics

Charles Miller, Contributor

“I certainly have no reason to disbelieve any of [Moore’s accusers]….I believe in the Republican Party, what we stand for, and most important, we need to have a Republican in the United States Senate So that’s what I plan to do, vote for Republican nominee Roy Moore.” – Gov. Kay Ivey (R)

Are the voters of Alabama really willing to put party ahead of principle?  Should Republicans ignore the character and acts of a man who has been twice removed from office for violating his oath?  That is what too many Alabama leaders are really saying.  That’s what’s wrong with politics in Alabama and why I am running as an independent for Senate District 9.

While too many of the GOPs leaders are saying that the party label is more important than character or ability to carry out the obligations of office, many voters think otherwise. I have listened to principled Republicans that are going to vote for Doug Jones in the upcoming special election and some lifelong Republicans who are leaving the GOP altogether. They tell me that they think character is important.  Another Republican, a veteran and principled man, told me that he won’t be voting a straight Republican ticket next year, and maybe never in the future.

Of course there are partisan Democrats too but there are a growing number who are independently minded.  That’s the kind of thinking we need in the political process. Rational reasonable thought beyond a party button or a bumper sticker.

When you put party ahead of every other consideration then the party will back candidates that will freely violate their oath of office, trample the rights of others, and violate the Constitution.  If that is what party unity is, count me out. We need officials who will make rational policy decisions, putting people and principle ahead of party.  That takes working across the aisle to produce legislation to make a positive difference.

I’m not saying I am the perfect candidate but I will say that I am absolutely committed to putting the people of Alabama and American principles ahead of selfish interest or a party.  My pledge is to work to represent the people of my district and state, not to support a party above all else.

In 2018 the people of Alabama who put principle and people ahead of party will have an opportunity to elect a legislature that can take Alabama from worst to first.  I am counting on them to do just that.

America is Losing its Spine

american exceptionalism

Clete Wetli, Contributor

We all see how Trump is chaotically obliterating political institutions and norms; in some cases, he’s motivated by pathological arrogance and, in others, fueled by breathtaking ignorance and unfathomable incompetence. We have succumbed to a delusion of binary team-sport politics where allegiance to party precedes critical thinking and the honest evaluation of facts and context. With the advent of non-stop media catering to our prejudices and technologies allowing us to blithely side-step facts that cause us discomfort, many people would agree that we relinquished our nation’s collective brain quite some time ago. We react to problems and crisis like petulant, impatient children now, instead of as rational adults who are willing to think through all the consequences.

Now, America is losing its spine.

We are refusing to stand up for what we believe or call out the plethora of obvious malignant dysfunctions. We insist with juvenile certainty that America is the greatest country in the whole wide world, while we are clearly losing ground rapidly. Now, I know some of you are bristling at this assessment and reflexively point to your own record of civic involvement and political activism. Indeed, if you have been involved as more than an apathetic spectator in our democracy, then your efforts are celebrated, but you must understand that you are part of an ever-dwindling minority. More Americans have become content to just simply watch and shake their heads in tepid frustration.

In the face of staggering economic injustice as evidenced by the top one-percent amassing close to forty-percent of the nation’s wealth, we simply complain and keep struggling until the next stagnant paycheck. We don’t demand better, we don’t fight back, we don’t do anything that might rock the boat.

As we continue to lay waste to our environment and natural resources, we reject the evidence that is plainly in front of us. We reject it because if we don’t, it would create change and disruption that would interfere with our embedded routines and our addiction to disposable products. We have no spine as we face this growing crisis because the threat is not perceived as an immediate obstacle to our lives.

We blow-hard bicker and bitch, yet most of us do nothing. The issues are complex and understanding them requires research and insight into historical context and evolution. Yeah, who’s got time for that nerdy shit when Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez are getting back together?

Our brainless, spineless age is characterized by narcissism. Our smart phones have become nothing more than mirrors into our own self-aggrandizement and confirmation bias. Our democracy is getting destroyed by a man-child who struggles to write coherent tweets and we move through our workaholic days like zombies. Many of our fellow Americans truly believe that signing an online survey means that they have meaningfully participated in our democracy. They think that voting in the presidential election means that they should be honored as patriots. They accept no criticism of their state or country because they’ve been taught that they must defend the team they chose at all costs.

They certainly don’t like to be told that they suck as citizens because they refuse to participate in civic activities or political activism. Remember, the brain went first and now they are giving up their spine. Soon, the heart will go, too, but they may not realize it unless someone informs them with an emoji-laden text.

Look, I know this is cynical, but I think it’s time for truth. It’s time to be angry and to be willing to stand proudly with the minority of my fellow citizens that still have a brain, a spine, and a heart. I will speak out and stand up against Trump because he continues to defile America.

It’s time for America to find its spine again.

Republicans and Wall Street are Sticking it to Consumers, Again

Wall Street, Greed

Jerry Waters, Contributor

In another blatant and shameless move to screw over consumers so that Wall Street can get away fraud without fear of meaningful punishment, the Republican-led Congress just passed a bill that would make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for customers to sue banks without going through mandatory third-party arbitration.

The problem is that the people doing the arbitration are hired by Wall Street. Not exactly a disinterested “third-party”, are they? The other big problem is that these arbitration proceedings are done in secret and that they don’t have to follow the same procedures as a court of law.

This egregious legislation comes right after Wells Fargo Bank was caught red-handed signing up thousands of their customers for banking products without their knowledge. It comes on the heels of Equifax negligently allowing their customer’s data to be hacked and dragging their feet in notifying them and fixing the problem.

Also, this comes at a time when the Trump administration is doing everything it can to dismantle the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) because it wants less regulations for banks and Wall Street. Republicans have this bizarre philosophy that it’s ok to screw people over if it’s buried somewhere in the fine print. They really believe that banks should be able to take huge risks with your money and that if things don’t pan out, you shouldn’t complain and you certainly shouldn’t try to hold financial institutions responsible. You know, buyer beware. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the last push toward deregulation lead right into the collapse of the housing market and into The Great Recession?

The CFPB rule would stopped banks from forcing customers to sign mandatory arbitration agreements and it would allow them to join together in class-action suits and file other types of legal challenges. Ironically, even if consumers had the ability to sue banks for fraud and other malfeasance, the banks still have a monumental advantage because they have armies of well-paid attorneys to defend them.

Of course, Republicans argued that the price of credit cards and banking would go up and that consumers would suffer if they had the ability to sue banks for their fraudulent practices. Republicans don’t want to talk about how banks routinely screw people out of money and get away with it. They don’t want to talk about how fines are usually a mere slap on the wrist or how blatant criminal activity by top executives is either ignored or rewarded with a giant gold parachute. Republicans really don’t want to talk about the crazy amount of cash they receive as campaign contributions from Wall Street.

Trump and his rich cronies hate the CFPB and they will continue to do everything they can dilute consumer protections in the market. When Richard Cordray, head of the CFPB, remarked, “Wall Street won and ordinary people lost.”, he was met with an unusually rude response from Sen. Tom Cotton who replied, ““The unelected Mr. Cordray issued yet another stupid regulation that would have hurt consumers, the people’s democratically elected representatives voted to stop the regulation, and now Mr. Cordray whines that Congress stopped his stupid regulation. It’s well past time for Mr. Cordray to resign and begin his long-expected losing campaign for Governor of Ohio. If he won’t, President Trump should fire him.” Yeah, it’s not too hard to figure out who Cotton is in bed with, is it?

Folks, this is just the beginning of Trump’s many gifts to the wealthy. As he continues his insane push for more deregulation, more people are going to be hurt and more consumers are going to get screwed.

You’re about to get trumped right in the….