Trump and the blowing wind

Clete Wetli, Contributor

“If Hillary got in you wouldn’t have that stat, I can tell you right now. You would be doing wind, windmills and if it doesn’t — if it doesn’t blow you can forget about television for that night. [Laughter] Darling, I want to watch television. I’m sorry, the wind isn’t blowing. I know a lot about wind. I know a lot about wind.”- Donald J. Trump, MAGA Rally, Grand Rapids, Michigan – March 28, 2019

Yes, if Trump knows anything, he is undoubtedly an expert on blowing wind. Many people are saying that, believe me.

He has blown wind for his entire life and he knows more than his generals and scientists about it.

So, here we are. Two years and thousands of lies later. Our debt at historic levels and our institutions under a constant, corrosive attack by people whose only motivation is preserving their power and increasing their personal ill-begotten wealth. In truth, that is where we are.

In science, every human eye has a blind spot that corresponds to the placement of the optic nerve within the retina where there are no photoreceptors. In all their wisdom, the Founding Fathers never anticipated the blind spot of Trump in our democracy. It seemed that they thought that the electorate would never choose someone who was so hell bent on wreaking havoc on our political norms or who was so uniquely and blatantly unqualified to lead. In fact, it was never even considered that we might elect a leader who was intrinsically incapable of coherent thought or formulating complete sentences. Yet, here we are.

Listening to the blowing wind and suffocating on the stench it brings.

This week, I spoke with gleeful Trump cult followers that were simply drunk on the idea that Barr’s shameful initial synopsis of the Mueller Report seemed to clear Trump of Russian collusion.  I listened to their cacophonous illogical explanations and obtuse justifications of Trump’s obvious lies and unethical conduct. Ironically, without exception, each Trump zealot would reluctantly admit that they thought he was a terrible person in one capacity or another. They would cite his continual lies or his infidelity or his lack of ethics or his obvious criminal financial self-dealings. Yet, they would always circle back to supporting him because they thought he was on their side.

They were overjoyed to suck his wind.

Yes, a third, to perhaps half of our country gleefully breathes the foul air that blows from Trump’s rank wind-hole. They seemingly can’t get enough. They find it liberating, intoxicating, and elevating. They are like addicts who make any excuse for another hit of Trump; no matter how insane and no matter the consequence.

We’re two years in and I’m not exactly sure how to fight this effectively. Initially, I thought the truth might be an antidote, but it has sadly failed.  I am slowly coming to the realization that this is less about changing them and more about galvanizing those who refuse to breathe in the wind he blows. That, maybe, we need to put aside our single issue causes and learn to fight together for a greater good. The Republicans figured that out when they employed Grover Norquist’s strategy of, “We know what direction to go. We just need a president to sign this stuff. Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to be president of the United States.”  Well, he may have small digits, but they got exactly what they asked for. A useful idiot who can blow wind and sign decrees.

So, I write this tonight because I feel it’s imperative that we continue to resist and continue to fight for what we know in our hearts is true and right and American.

Trump may know a lot about blowing wind, but we know a lot more about truth and what it will really take for America to find its soul again.  2020 is coming and, soon, a fresh invigorating wind will blow from a different direction and it will bring a new season of hope and desperately needed change.

How did a probate judge get the power to overturn Roe v. Wade?

Clete Wetli, Contributor

With all of the hypocritical right-wing pearl clutching over ‘activist judges’ making law from the bench, it’s shocking that newly elected Madison County, AL Probate Judge Frank Barger felt like it was in his limited judicial purview to grant an aborted fetus the right to have an estate and an attorney in an obvious underhanded ploy to overturn Roe v. Wade. What’s equally stunning is that Barger doesn’t even have a law degree because it’s not currently a requirement to hold the position. But, he has somehow decided that he can upend centuries of precedent and grant legal rights to an aborted fetus in a clearly misguided attempt to prosecute a woman who simply did not violate the law when she decided to have a legal abortion.

What makes this rogue Probate Judge’s actions so despicable is that he’s using a recently passed Alabama ‘personhood’ statute to justify his blatant, religiously-motivated overreach.  The obviously unconstitutional Alabama law that was passed during the last midterm elections states that a fetus and mother have equal rights under the law and it was a highly partisan political attempt to make abortion illegal in the state in direct defiance of Roe v. Wade. In this particular case, the suit was filed two years after the abortion occurred which suggests that, again, this is a scheme designed to circumvent established constitutional law and precedent.

Sadly, this could lead to an enormous amount of very negative legal consequences if this absurdity is upheld. In short, it implies that all abortions are murder and because murder has no statute of limitations, it would open up legal liability to any woman alive who ever had an abortion. That’s just wrong in every way imaginable. But, that’s been the plan of extremist conservatives all along.

That’s what’s terrifying about Trump stacking the Supreme Court with ultra-conservative white bread frat boys who view their position on the high court as a chance to infuse their religious and extreme conservative beliefs into lasting legal precedent. This is dangerous and this must be stopped. Women should never be criminalized for exercising their right to choose or for making decisions about their own bodies.

The biggest outrage in this pathetic ploy is how conservatives have branded themselves for decades as the ‘law and order’ party, yet they continue to show no regard for the Constitution when it serves their political advantage. Whether it’s equal rights or equal pay for women, extremist Republicans have continued to try to pass laws that ensure women will be treated as second-class citizens. This latest bizarre and unethical plan is just another example of what conservatives and their religious zealot base thinks of women.

It’s time to demand that Probate Judge Frank Barger be impeached for his ignorant judicial malpractice. It’s also time to demand that Probate Judges in Madison County actually have a law degree as a pre-requisite to holding office. Next, people should demand that Alabama rescind its unconstitutional abortion laws because they are in direct conflict with existing federal law. After this horrific fiasco, Republicans have no right whatsoever to utter complaints about ‘activist’ judges.

In this unfortunate case, the woman who had the legal abortion deserves our sincere support She does not deserve public censure, not vengeful prosecution, and certainly not mountains of legal bills so that rabid Republicans can throw more red meat to their far-right religious base as they try to out-conservative each other. This is simply a travesty.

Let’s stand up for women and fight this judicial overreach. Probate judges shouldn’t be making any type of decisions in a legal matter such as this. Shame on you, Probate Judge, with no law degree, Barger. We can only hope you’re looking for another job in the next trimester.

Anti-vaxxers Ignorance Causing Irreparable Damage and Needless Deaths

Jerry Waters, Contributor

One of the unfortunate consequences of the modern conservative movement’s war on science and facts is that it has given credence and legitimacy to people who think that they shouldn’t be legally required to vaccinate their children from diseases like the measles. It’s part of the bizarre, deep-state conspiracy, politically evangelical mindset that believes that climate change is a hoax and that the acceptance of scientific facts are dependent on one’s personal beliefs and religious convictions. They believe their rights supersede the common good and they are causing irreparable damage and needless deaths, especially as they spread false and inaccurate information about the safety and effectiveness of medical vaccinations.

Right now, we’re seeing the effects as their actions are directly responsible for the enormous spike in measles cases (200 and counting) in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington. It’s getting so bad that a state of emergency was declared by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

This has happened because medical geniuses like model and horrible B-movie actress Jenny McCarthy went on Oprah in 2007 to claim that the MMR vaccine caused her child’s autism. Other celebrities with no medical background like Alicia Silverstone, Rob Schneider, Robert DeNiro, and Charlie Sheen have spread similar misinformation. Well, if you’re taking your medical advice from Charlie Sheen, you’re in for a bumpy and ride that may leave you with a burning, itching rash that just won’t go away!

To address these false claims and concerns about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, the scientific community has done tons of research to determine the validity of these claims. Without the smallest doubt, numerous studies have shown that the anti-vaxxers are simply wrong. The most recent longitudinal study followed 650,000 children over a span of years and showed no correlation between MMR vaccinations and autism. In fact, they found that unvaccinated kids were 17 percent more likely to be diagnosed with autism than vaccinated children.

Yet, people are still taking the word of Charlie Sheen and Jenny McCarthy over studies that rely on facts, the scientific method, and rigorous, professional peer-review. Sheen, who thinks he’s made of, um, tiger blood, once said about his life, “It’s perfect. It’s awesome. Every day is just filled with just wins. All we do is put wins in the record books. We win so radically in our underwear before our first cup of coffee, it’s scary. People say it’s lonely at the top, but I sure like the view.” Isn’t this the guy who lost his sitcom job in an epic drug-fueled meltdown and then announced he was HIV positive? Is this a guy who should be using his celebrity to dispense medical advice? In all fairness to Sheen, he’s gone a year sober now and he’s not making an embarrassing spectacle of himself anymore, but his misguided public remarks on vaccinations have already caused serious damage to public health.

This is why educated, fact-based leadership matters. The right-wing is guilty of giving the anti-science crowd a platform with a megaphone and the devastating effects are becoming palpable in public policy and health.

The Trump administration’s war on science is destroying our environment and remains largely silent on important issues like vaccination so that they don’t lose the ignorant, bat-shit crazy folks that make up their cult-like base. It’s also a wink-nod approach that’s designed to line the pockets of their donors who have no sense of ethics or public responsibility because they prefer short-term profit and political power regardless of the human cost.

It’s time to start publicly denouncing these ant-vaxxers and to enthusiastically support science and facts. The stakes are too high to ignore these fools who do their damage daily on social media.

If only we had a vaccine that prevented ignorance and idiocy. Oh, wait, we do- it’s called education.