FFfPP — Formerly Known As Lady Liberty

A8722CFC-1022-4496-8C58-7913A625ACF6“What is that?” Alex’s five-year-old grandson asked him as the tour boat passed the small island with the large statue on it.

“That is Statuya Svobody, Dimitri,” Alex responded.

“What does that mean, grandpa?”Dimitri asked.

“It’s Russian, and loosely translated, it means The Statue of Liberty” Alex said. “That was its name when it was presented as a gift to the United States from France in 1886.”

“Why Russian and not English?” Dimitri asked.

“Back in 2023, the then president of the United States declared himself to be emperor and shredded the American constitution. Three years later he negotiated a deal with the president of the Russian Federation that essentially enabled Russia to annex the United States and our country’s name was changed to the Russian Federation of America, or R.F.A.,” Alex explained.

“Since then, a lot has changed,” Alex continued. “Washington, DC became New Moscow, all of the history books were rewritten, and anyone voicing opposition was subject to imprisonment.”

Dimitri didn’t really understand what his grandfather was talking about and, growing bored, he asked Alex to buy him an ice cream cone.

Alex was relieved. He knew that the penalties for talking to anyone about pre-Federation America were harsh.

(200 words)


Written for Roger Shipp’s Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner. Photo credit: Morguefile.

He’s an Effin’ Traitor

EFEDCC32-2886-401B-8472-C9B523FB46E9If this report yesterday from CNN is true, I don’t see how anyone — even Republicans — can continue to stick their heads in the sand and deny that our president is a traitor to his country.

According to the legendary Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein, in hundreds of highly classified phone calls with foreign heads of state, Donald Trump was so consistently unprepared for discussion of serious issues, so often outplayed in his conversations with powerful leaders like Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Erdogan, and so abusive to leaders of America’s principal allies, that the calls helped convince some senior US officials — including his former secretaries of state and defense, two national security advisers and his longest-serving chief of staff — that the Trump posed a danger to the national security of the United States, according to White House and intelligence officials intimately familiar with the contents of the conversations.

Trump regularly bullied and demeaned the leaders of America’s principal allies, especially two women: telling Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom she was weak and lacked courage; and telling German Chancellor Angela Merkel that she was “stupid.”

Trump incessantly boasted to his fellow heads of state, including Saudi Arabia’s autocratic royal heir Mohammed bin Salman and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, about his own wealth, genius, “great” accomplishments as President, and the “idiocy” of his Oval Office predecessors, according to the sources.

The calls caused former top Trump deputies — including national security advisers H.R. McMaster and John Bolton, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and White House chief of staff John Kelly, as well as intelligence officials — to conclude that Trump was often “delusional,” as two sources put it, in his dealings with foreign leaders. The sources said there was little evidence that the President became more skillful or competent in his telephone conversations with most heads of state over time. Rather, he continued to believe that he could either charm, jawbone, or bully almost any foreign leader into capitulating to his will, and often pursued goals more attuned to his own agenda than what many of his senior advisers considered the national interest.

Bear in mind that yesterday’s CNN report followed hot on the heels of Friday’s New York Times blockbuster report that Russia offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops. The Times article went on to report that Trump and the White House’s National Security Council discussed the problem at an interagency meeting in late March.

What has Trump done in response to learning in March that Russia was paying to have American soldiers killed? Absolutely nothing. Why not? Because the President of the United States is a traitor to his country.

Fake Views

6C6612CD-9627-4020-9606-38178B2499D4Despite the overwhelming evidence against Donald Trump, he still manages to garner the staunch support of most Republican voters. The number of Americans who continue to approve of Trump remains largely static, at about 40% overall. But in a CNN poll last week, only 10% of Republicans said Trump should be impeached and removed from office, while 89% of Republicans approved of the job he’s doing. What?

Republicans in Congress have been briefed by U.S. intelligence officials who informed the senators and their aides that Russia has engaged in a yearslong campaign to essentially frame Ukraine as responsible for Moscow’s own hacking of the 2016 election. This is not fake news. And yet these Republicans continue to cling to that false narrative in order to protect Trump and to deflect the charges that will likely lead to his impeachment. They are unabashedly promoting fake views to the American people.

Do these Republicans in Congress actually believe what they are saying in public? I can’t understand how, for the good of the nation, they continue to wage war on the truth and the facts. Are they hoping that, with the passage of time between now and the elections next November, the American public will either ignore or forget Trump’s abuse of power, obstruction of justice, and his attempts, for his own personal and political benefit, to extort the newly elected president of Ukraine?

Or maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m the fool who is trying to chase after some oasis of truth in the middle of this barren political desert only to find that it’s merely a mirage.

I guess time will tell.


Written for these daily prompts: Your Daily Word Prompt (staunch), Daily Addictions (number, chase), Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (wage), Ragtag Daily Prompt (passage), and Word of the Day Challenge (oasis).

Who Won The Week? 10/20/19

10CC3057-4EEA-4C80-B8C1-700C0FC6C906It’s time for another Who Won the Week prompt. The idea behind Who Won the Week is for you to select who you think “won” this past week. Your selection can be anyone or anything — politicians, celebrities, athletes, authors, bloggers, your friends or family members, books, movies, TV shows, businesses, organizations, whatever.

I will be posting this prompt on Sunday mornings (my time). If you want to participate, write your own post designating who you think won the week and why you think they deserve your nod. Then link back to this post and tag you post with FWWTW.

My pick for this week is Tulsi Gabbard.

6D90784A-2497-459F-9202-27A806D9DF6ANever heard of her? She’s an American politician, serving as the U.S. Representative for Hawaii’s 2nd congressional district. And she’s also a Democratic candidate vying to get the nomination to run against Donald Trump in 2020.

Interestingly, most people, including many Americans, don’t know much about her. Or didn’t, anyway, until this week, when Hillary Clinton suggested that the Russians are currently “grooming” a Democrat running in the presidential primary to run as a third-party candidate and to champion their interests.

Hillary’s comment appears to be directed at Gabbard, who has been accused of being cozy with Russia in the past.

“I’m not making any predictions, but I think they’ve got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate,” Hillary said. “She’s the favorite of the Russians.”

Clinton didn’t specifically name Gabbard, but there are only five women seeking the nomination — Gabbard, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Marianne Williamson — and none of the other woman have been accused of being boosted by Russia.

Now everyone is talking about Tulsi Gabbard (including me), even though most Americans had never heard of her and she wasn’t generating much of a buzz. But, after Hillary‘s comments, people are googling her, reading up on her, and you can’t watch cable news over the past few days without hearing about her.

So thanks to Hillary Clinton, my pick for Who Won The Week this week is Tulsi Gabbard.

And now it’s your turn, folks. Who (or what) do you think won the week?

It’s Gotten Even Worse

On May 17, 2017, I published my second post after I started this blog. I titled it, “Can American Democracy Survive Donald Trump?” That post received a grand total of three views, one like, and zero comments.

As I was reflecting back on my two years as Fandango, and I read this post, I was amazed that not only has little has changed over the past two years of Donald Trump’s presidency, it has actually gotten even worse.

And so I present below my two-year old post, unchanged and unedited from the original. Some of it is a little dated, but the overall message is the same: America is fucked as long as Trump is president.

Can American Democracy Survive Donald Trump?

pett-cartoon.png

I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck, you know. No siree, Bob! I’ve been around long enough to have experienced Vietnam and Watergate and how terribly divided this country was at those times. But I’ve never seen anything quite like what is happening now to the sanctity of the American democracy under President Donald J. Trump. It’s taken its toll on me. I’m tired, very tired.

It’s not because I’m old, though, or because I’ve been having trouble falling and staying asleep at night. No, the reason I am tired is because something devastating has been happening in and to the country I love. And it’s draining me.

Fake News and Alternative Facts

For months before the election in November, we had been inundated with fake news, alternative facts, lies, racism, and misogyny. Since the election things have only gotten worse, given all of Trump’s conflicts of interest, blatant nepotism, and unprecedented incompetence at the highest levels of the government.

Our new president is purging (or buying off?) his perceived enemies and anyone he believes might do him harm, with FBI Director James Comey’s firing as the latest example. Donald Trump is successfully … so far, anyway … turning our country into an authoritarian dictatorship.

Bill Sanders Cartoon

And what I find truly remarkable and upsetting is that the spineless, gutless, “party over country” Republicans in Congress are just sitting back and letting it happen. They know that Trump is an unhinged, delusional narcissist who is also a pathological liar. But he’s their unhinged, delusional, narcissistic, liar who will sign whatever bills and appoint whatever judges they put in front of him.

Trump is engaging in a war against the legitimate media. He is spreading outright lies, misinformation, and conspiracy theories in an effort to divert and distract attention from the many self-inflicted wounds he’s created as a result of his more outrageous tweets and his asinine behaviors.

Treason or Stupidity?

He has yet to admit that Russia interfered with the election and seems to be giving Putin and the Russians cover. And while he’s saying “America First,” his actions appear to be putting Russia first. He even shared highly classified information with Russian operatives in the Oval Office. Is he intentionally committing treason or is he just incredibly stupid? Or Both?

Respected scholars of history have expressed concerns about how Trump seems to be leading our country down a path followed by despotic 20th century and contemporary leaders.

He has sung the praises of Vladimir Putin (“a strong leader”) and Kim Jong-un (“a smart cookie”). He congratulated Turkish leader Erdogan on winning a referendum that expanded and consolidated his authoritarian powers. He praised the autocratic Egyptian leader el-Sisi as well as Filipino strongman Duterte, a man who likens himself to Hitler.

At the same time, Trump has denigrated and challenged the judicial branch of our own government and seems to have co-opted congressional Republicans, who hold the majority in both houses.

So back to my original question. Can American democracy survive Donald Trump? The short answer is yes, but it will take four types of people to make sure it does.

First, courageous employees within the executive and legislative branches of government who recognize the damage to our national security and our way of life that Trump is causing must be willing to risk their careers and leak documents to the legitimate press so that the unhinged actions of Donald Trump will see the light of day.

Second, brave journalists and reporters must do their jobs and continue to research, publish, and report on what is going on at the White House and in Congress.

Third, concerned citizens need to continue to reach out to their senators and representatives and hold them accountable for their actions. And if these elected officials in Congress don’t have the backbone to put country over party and to do what’s right and best for their constituents by standing up to Trump, they need to know that they will be voted out of office.

Finally, GOP members of Congress and Trump loyalists must stop turning deaf ears and blind eyes to Trump’s faults and follies. They need to honestly and objectively see him and the danger he posed to our country. They also need to stop getting all their news from Fox News.

If these groups of people do the right thing, democracy in America has a chance. If not, well, it was good while it lasted.


Top political cartoon © 5/11/17, Joel Pett, Lexington Herald-Leader. Second political cartoon © 5/16/17 Bill Sanders, Sanders Cartoon Commentary.