Thursday, February 16, 2017

Doanld Trump Speaking to Himself on Foreign Policy

“I’m speaking with myself, number one, because
I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things."
(Donald Trump on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” in early March 2016
when asked who he talks with consistently about foreign policy)

Now that President Donald Trump's handpicked National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn has been forced to resign, Trump can go back to speaking with himself about national security and foreign policy. Or he can just call the Russians directly, instead of having Flynn do it for him. You see, there's no way Michale Flynn, a 33-year veteran of the Army, calls the Russians without direction from his so-to-be Commander-in-Chief. And the "soon-to-be" qualifier matters, too. Donald Trump was not the president, nor Flynn his National Security Advisor, when these talks took place. Therefore, the talks were a violation of the Logan Act, which states, in part:

"Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both."

Whether or not prosecutors take action under the act, the law was broken, and if it can be shown that Donald Trump directed that Flynn contact the Russians to reassure them that President Obama's sanctions would be revoked once Trump was in office, then Trump is guilty of a gross misdemeanor and should be impeached. Furthermore, if it can be shown that Trump and/or his campaign staff colluded with the Russians on their interference in the 2016 Election, then we have a constitutional crisis of unparalleled dimensions.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The April 15th Pledge

January 20, 2017

The Honorable Steven Mnuchin
Secretary of the Treasury
United States of America

Dear Mr. Secretary;

I am writing to inform you that effective April 15, 2017, I intend to cease paying Federal Income Taxes. I will pay no further taxes until President Donald J. Trump complies with Article 1, Section 9 — the ‘Emoluments Clause' — of the United States Constitution.

President Trump’s vague pledges to abide by the Constitution in this regard, as every president before him has done, do not satisfy the spirit, the intent, or the letter of the said clause.

I intend to withhold my tax payments until such time as an independent committee finds unequivocally that President Trump has rid himself of conflicts and complied with the Emoluments Clause, and the United States Congress has certified this finding.

Very Respectfully,


Richard V Badalamente
Citizen, United States of America

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

My Benton County Neighbors Vote for Trump

Back in November of 2015, when the prospect of a Trump Presidency seemed a nightmare fantasy, I watched video of one of his rallies in which, holding his right hand at an awkward angle, he jerked and gyrated in an hideous mockery of a disabled reporter, Serge Kovaleski. I was disgusted, repulsed; the idea that any decent human being, let alone a candidate for President of the United States of America, would do this was unbelievable. I was frankly incredulous.

Kovaleski, a Pulitzer Prize winner, who has arthrogryposis, had the audacity to contradict Trump’s charge that “thousands and thousands” of people cheered in Jersey City as the Twin Towers collapsed. Like so many of Mr. Trump’s incendiary claims about immigrants and minorities, that claim was unequivocally false.

Over the course of his campaign, Trump demonstrated over and over again that he was untrustworthy and intellectually and temperamentally unfit to hold the highest office in the land. He continues to do that to this day.

So much has already been written about why Donald Trump won the election, from the decline of the Middle Class, to the xenophobia created by Trump and his allies. But what I question, and what distresses me most — besides the prospect of a Trump Presidency— is why almost 60% of my neighbors here in Benton County voted for Trump. As I've written previously, "The Mid-Columbia is of and by the government."

We here in Benton County, like the rest of Eastern Washington, survive and thrive as a result of massive government spending on water projects, the agriculuture that's possible as a result, bomb making and the cleaning up of the mess made doing it, and the funding of leading edge science by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). The election of Donald Trump is a repudiation of all that government has done for us -- it is like killing the goose that laid those golden eggs, but in this case, we are the geese.

How to explain it? Surely my neighbors cannot be so ignorant of our government's largess and how we benefit from it. I know for a fact that my friends in agriculture realize the benefits of Eastern Washington's vast network of government-funded dams and waterways. I am less sure that they understand the leading edge climate science performed at PNNL -- republicans seem either immune to, or in stark denial of science in general, and especially climate science.

So I have to ask myself, were we so afraid of “others” that we willingly abandoned our values and entrusted our Nation to such an odious demagogue? If so, shame on us.

Sunday, December 18, 2016


This was originally written in the Winter of 2015. This winter, as we await the inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the United States, think about our neighbors far and wide, and about families like Ahmed's, and so many others that Trump, in his rhetoric has demeaned and marginalized. Think about the America you want to be a part of, and then determine to make it so.
Winter 2016, Kennewick, Washington
I stepped out the front door of our new home to get some groceries from the car. We’d just moved in and I was stocking up. A young boy hurried over from across the street and said, “Welcome to the neighborhood!”

“Well, thank you,” I said, surprised by this kid’s enthusiastic welcome.
“How do you like it here?” he asked. He was a slender kid, with black hair, dark eyes, and an infectious smile.

“We just got here,” I said, shrugging my shoulders.

“It’s a nice neighborhood,” he said, and turning to look across the street said, “We live right over there.”

I ran into the kid a lot after that. He played with a boy that lived next door to us -- football, baseball, soccer, hockey -- and all in the front yard and the street. The tennis ball with which they played baseball invariably ended up in my yard and after I’d fetched it a few times, they invited me to play “home run derby” with them. I was assigned pitching duties.

Thanks to the kid, I got to know his family a bit -- father, mother, a younger brother, and three younger sisters. Nice people. Good neighbors.

The family moved after a year or so -- not far, but far enough so that my baseball career was over. The next time I saw the boy he had walked over to see his friend and stopped by my house to say hello. He asked after my wife and son.
“Fine,” I said, and asked after his family.
They were all good.

He was wearing his soccer uniform. I asked him how he was doing on the high school soccer team and he told me he wasn’t playing because he was experiencing bad back pain. I asked him if he’d hurt himself. He said no. “They don’t know what’s causing it.”

It turned out the boy had childhood leukemia. He required an aggressive regime of chemotherapy, targeted drugs, and radiation at a hospital in another city, three hours away. He spent a prolonged stay in the hospital for treatment, and to avoid infection. After his release, his father drove him back to the hospital every week for two-day treatments. The father’s contracting business was put on hold.

I went over to the family’s new house several times during this period to check on the boy. He’d lost his hair. He had no appetite. He’d lost weight. He looked pale. And he asked me, “How are things in the neighborhood? How’s your wife? How’s your son?”

The boy is 16 now. His hair has grown back. He’s gained weight. He’s playing soccer again. He still has to be taken to the clinic every month for maintenance chemotherapy. This will go on for two years.

The family is doing well. The father is working full time again. They just had their sixth child -- another boy. They are strong in their faith. It sustains them -- “Praise be to God, Lord of the Worlds, the Compassionate, the Merciful.”

Ahmed is happy. He just got his learner’s permit. He told me he wants to be a doctor. “I want to cure cancer,” he said.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Stages of Grief -- Where the Hell Am I?

The five stages of grief according to popular psychological theory are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

I was in denial while watching the election returns November 8th. I haven't watched the news since, except out of the corner of my eye when my wife is watching The Today Show, or The View. I'm not watching the parody news I used to enjoy, like The Daily Show, or the late night shows, like Stephen Colbert. What is there to laugh about?

It makes me sick to see Donald Trump strutting around, giving the thumbs up gesture, a smug expression on his puffy, orange face. He's a confidence man, and he's pulled off the biggest con in the history of American politics. Sixty million, five hundred and twenty-six thousand, eight hundred and fifty-two American voters fell for it. So, what, I'm angry? God damned right I'm angry.

It's easy to label Trump voters as bigots, racists, fearful xenophobics, "America first" nationalists -- certainly many are, but many are undereducated people who find themselves in relatively low-paying jobs, with no hope for clawing their way up to a better life. These people worked in America's factories, and steel mills, deep down in the coal mines, in textiles, basic housewares, furniture, and paper products -- all low-proficiency factory positions.

Cheaper cross-border labor, the shift to cheaper natural gas, and automation put many of these people out of work. Donald Trump started by offering to re-educate these people at his "Trump University." He's being taken to court for that con job.

When will the dupes who voted for Trump realize they've been taken for the gullible fools "The Donald" saw them as. Am I bargaining now, e.g., "You relatively reasonable Trump voters please learn your lessons and don't vote for a 2nd term for the odious asshole." Is that where I am? Bargaining?

I don't think I'm totally there yet. I'm still angry. I'm angry at the run-of-the-mill republicans, who voted for Trump because they're ideologues -- they could give a shit about Trump being unqualified to lead the Nation either by knowledge, experience, character, or temperament. He was a Republican and that was enough. In my region of Washington State, Benton County, 47, 194 people voted for Donald Trump -- almost 59% of my neighbors. Who the fuck are these people?!

Yes, and I'm angry at the liberal-left "BernieCrats" who demonstrated their annoyance at Bernie not getting the Democratic nomination by voting for a 3rd Party candidate, mostly Jill Stein. Stein was pretty questionable as a presidential prospect, but voting for her was a nice way to show their pique.

And I'm angry at the so-called "millennials," some of whom were just young in terms of voting, who came out to Bernie rallies and cheered wildly for free everything, only to skip voting, go back to college, or their dead-end job, and accumulate more debt.
The stages of grief, like Maslow's Need Hierarchy, are not mutually exclusive. My depression has definitely invaded my angry space. What've I got to be depressed about; I'm relatively well-off, good back-up insurance thanks to my military service, too old to worry about living until global warming causes the water wars -- why worry, be happy!

My problem is that I care too much about everybody else, and about future generations, which hopefully will include my great grandkids. Let me correct that just a bit; I don't give a fuck about the very wealthy that will benefit the most from the tax cuts Trump has promised, or the Wall Street traders, who are drooling over the prospects of a Dodd-Frank rollback, or the Religious Right, who look forward to burning the heathens, like me, at the stake. Yes, that's how little they care about global warming -- they will burn us, because it's a good lesson, and GOD will take care of the environment.

I'm depressed because many of the poor schmucks who voted for Trump really need help. Reneging on trade deals, falling back into an isolationist trade posture, will make everyone poorer.

And often these same people depend most on reproductive care, the kind Planned Parenthood provides, and we know how republicans feel about PPH. They hate it for selling those "baby parts!" And they hate PBS and NPR for reporting facts about PPH not selling "baby parts," and not condemning PPH for the GODLESS heathens that they are -- to the stakes!

I'm depressed because Donald Trump called out a particular religion and filled his already racist supporters with targeted hate. I know Muslim-Americans. I like them. They are no more prone to terrorism that the White Supremacists who support Trump -- less so, in fact. And of course, Trump started with Mexicans and he doesn't differentiate between Mexican-Americans and Mexicans, or Hispanics, or Latinos -- they're all drug dealers, criminals, and rapists, "and I assume some are good people." God, Donald Trump is just such an asshole!

See how easy it is to fall back into the angry stage. I have much more to say about why I'm depressed, but I have to stop this diatribe, because it's making me angrier. I need to move through depression into acceptance.

Yeah, fuck that! I'm going stay angry and depressed until Donald Trump is back in his own made-for-TV realty and not America's.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Crow for Thanksgiving

I spent some time over the weekend researching recipes for cooking crow, which I’ll be having for Thanksgiving. I’ll share what I find with media journalists and pundits, who like me, were outspoken in our belief that Americans would never elect a person like Donald Trump to the Presidency of the United States of America — that “shining city on a hill.”

In an earlier post (and in the Tri-City Herald), I discussed how Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders launched insurgent campaigns against the major parties, and why Trump won and Sanders lost. Essentially, the Republican Party was more ‘democratic’ than the Democratic Party.

As a result, I opined that the GOP was stuck with a candidate they didn’t really want; a candidate whose chances of winning were “slim to none,” and, as Jeff Greenfield wrote in Politico Magazine, “whose temperament and character might put a dangerous, unfit person into the Oval Office.”

I also said, “there’s a very good chance the GOP may lose the Senate,” and concluded by saying that, “What happens to the Republican Party after the election depends on what the Republican Party leadership does now.”
What happened instead is history. Trump won.

Hillary supporters are consoling themselves with the fact that she won the popular vote. If this were a popularity contest, Hillary would win the title of the least disliked candidate.

Not only did Trump become President-Elect, but Republicans retained control of the Senate and the House, and gained another “trifecta” — a situation where one party holds the governorship, and majorities in both state legislative houses. Republicans now have 25 trifectas, while Democrats have only 6.

The map of America is glaringly red. This does not bode well for those seeking an end to, or even a rollback of restrictive voting rights laws, nor to the gerrymandering that disenfranchises voters of a particular “persuasion” (i.e., minorities). Furthermore, when President Trump pushes through his SCOTUS nominee(s), relief from a court that already gutted the Voting Rights Act will be unlikely.

So instead of the Republican Party reexamining what it did wrong to end up with a candidate like Donald Trump, they’ll congratulate themselves on how democratic they were in allowing an open nominating process that resulted in nominating a “man of the people.”

Meanwhile, democrats will spend the next six weeks wailing about how unfair the Electoral College is. Then the DNC will begin strategy sessions on how they can emulate the RNC and obstruct Trump and the Republican Congress at every opportunity. At the same time, they’ll be asking their supporters to sign President Obama’s “Thank You Card,” while simultaneously dunning them for contributions to the cause — whatever that is.

I may be eating crow this Thanksgiving, but I’ll still have something to be thankful for — the end of this election.

Sing a song of six pence,
a pocketful of rye.
Four and twenty blackbirds
baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened,
the birds began to sing.
Wasn’t that a dainty dish
to set before the king?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

No point crying over spilled milk

by Jon Phillips
Opinions on the future -- 12 quick points

1. No point crying over spilled milk.

2. Democrats should agree that Hillary is done running for President and be vocal about that. The fact that much of the case against her is innuendo and 20 years of Republican stink bomb attacks is now irrelevant. She's damaged politically and too old to run again. Let her go. The party should start vetting new champions for 4 years hence.

3. Democrats should prepare for a tough 4 years and that means developing a coherent strategy to block damaging appointments and legislation -- including the Supreme Court. The future character of the nation depends on the balance in the Supreme Court and the lower courts. The GOP has succeeded in making politics into an ugly game of stalemate, so I don't see much value in going along to get along. Sometimes, gridlock and stalemate are preferable to alternatives. Remove it from your mind that Republicans will somehow turn over a new leaf of civility and compromise in government. The GOP has multiple personality disorder. Don your brass knuckles until they emerge from this madness.

4. Democrats should do their best to take back the Senate as soon as possible and attrit the GOP margin in the House -- aim at the next midterm if possible on the Senate and flip the House in the next 3 cycles. Refocus on State races to blunt gerrymandering in the States. Keep banging the climate change drum every time there're disastrous weather events.

5. Propose and support reform of electoral processes that include top two runoffs to prevent small third party spoilers from wreaking the popular agenda.

6. I think we can count on comedians to thrash Donald continuously. He's continuous material. He could put political satirist writers out of business. Provoke him and he falls apart. People will tire of his adolescent fraternity boy drama very quickly.

7. Put serious thought into development of policy proposals to resolve the fundamentals that supported his grass roots (other than bigotry, misogyny, and xenophobia which are unacceptable and corrosive to the national pluralistic spirit). Basically, how to move back toward a strong and growing middle class. I suggest big transformative infrastructure that's domestic skilled labor heavy. Press toward "fair trade," emphasize social policy strongly tilted to building lower and center middle class economic positions. Defend Obamacare by continuously and vocally proposing practical reforms while blocking repeal. Affordable medical care is essential to regrow the middle class.

8. Do our best to prevent any march to war -- authoritarians love to distract a public by starting a war. It's what keeps many of them in power. This is an enormous danger since foreign and military policy are the principal powers of the President. Maintain lots of track 2 engagement that is forward looking with overseas partners to maintain relationships as well as possible. Keep his finger off the trigger (conventional and nuclear -- heaven forbid).

9. Work to pull more centrist Republicans into the center and even into Democratic Party. There are lots of newly disaffected and there will be even more as Donald's unseemly underbelly is increasingly revealed in the near future.

10. Figure out new strategies to pull more women's votes. From Romney to Trump only 2% changed sides. Romney was a polite gentleman though traditional Mormon. Donald was a groper. Why are women insensitive to such a radical difference. It suggests that between 40 and 45% of college-educated white women don't care so long as it's a white dominant male.
Edison National Election Poll
11. In short, hope for the best, but prepare for continuous political battle. The nation and the world is depending on us to prevent Donald from driving the country and world off a cliff. I realize that he won't know any better, but now we have to try and limit the damage of ignorants.

12. There's no point crying over spilled milk, but we should get out the mops and clean it up.

Jon Phillips is a Senior Nuclear Technology Expert at the International Atomic Energy Agency and Director, Sustainable Nuclear Power Initiative at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The opinions expressed here are his own.