GEORGIA ON MY MIND

The Party Puppet: Brian Kemp

I have read all 98 pages of the new Georgia Law with the hefty title of “Election Integrity Act of 2021.” When words like “Integrity” or “Affordable” appear in the title of a law, one might be tempted to ask if that’s true. Today we’ll look at some of the fuss around this new Georgia voting law that one side calls a good move and the other side decries as the return of “Jim Crow” laws.

Let’s start with the bill’s preamble. The writers claim that this bill addresses problems with voting in Georgia. They start with this, “Following the 2018 and 2020 elections, there was a significant lack of confidence in Georgia election systems, with many electors concerned about allegations of rampant voter suppression and many electors concerned about allegations of rampant voter fraud.” That statement is true.

GA Gov. Brian Kemp

What makes this opening so remarkable is that from 2010 to 2018, Brian Kemp, the current Governor of Georgia, was the Secretary of State, the person in charge of elections. Stacey Abrams, the woman who ran against Kemp for Governor in the fall of 2018, claimed that voter suppression ran wild under Kemp. Is this new law correcting the things Kemp got away with or is it a wink and a nod to former president Donald Trump? Would an entire state legislature do this much work just to make Trump’s claim of voter fraud seem more real?

There are three things in play,1. There was a need to reform, clarify and codify various rules and regulations on elections that have been murky for years, 2. The realization that there were too many independent voting methods being used in Georgia’s 159 counties and 3. The state is getting bad publicity with long lines at polling places in the African American communities and appearing to cater to rich, white neighborhoods. By the way, Pennsylvania has a population of 12.8 million people in 67 counties. Maybe Georgia with its 10 million population should consider consolidating their 159 counties into a more manageable structure.

One aspect of the reform makes sense. Georgia has difficulty counting the ballots because each county has different procedures and abilities. Governor Kemp seems to be a spacey kind of guy without a profound understanding of many issues. In April of 2020 he admitted to just learning that asymptomatic people can spread coronavirus, a well-known fact that was discussed on the Coronavirus Task Force conference calls much earlier. He exclaimed surprise by saying, “This is a game changer for us!” and then he announced a shelter-in-place order in the state. He was also one of the first governors to reopen his state right before the big Covid spike.

Voting laws in Georgia after the Civil War were shaped around the dark dogma of segregation. When I moved to Georgia in 1977 and visited Stone Mountain Park, the main building still had segregated restrooms, a remnant of policies before the “Recent Unpleasantness,” as the Civil War was called. The building has since been remodeled but the carved stone faces of Confederate leaders sitting on their stone horses constantly stare down at people of all races.

Most people who follow politics were shocked when Georgia elected a Democratic president in 2020. A voting procedure was put in place to thwart the possibility that one African American candidate running against many white candidates could not “sneak in” with less than 50% of the votes. Once it boiled down to two candidates, the white one usually won. That rule backfired in 2020 when both US Senate races for Georgia were settled in runoff elections and each was won by a Democrat with one of them becoming the first Black Senator of Georgia. Interestingly, that 50% rule was not cast out in the new Election Integrity Act. One would think it would be tossed because without it the Republicans would have maintained at least one Senate seat.

Senators Warnock & Ossoff

It’s not just bloggers and frothing at the mouth liberals who are against Georgia’s new law. Civil rights groups, including the New Georgia Project, Black Voters Matter, Common Cause, and the Georgia NAACP have filed federal lawsuits charging that the law’s provisions violate the Voting Rights Act as well as the 14th and 15th Amendments.

Reading between the long lines of the new law, like the long lines at the polls, shows why Brian Kemp’s rollout of this bill was a terrible attempt at leadership and a stellar example of poor communication. Here are some key points.

The bill requires early voting from 9 AM to 5 PM from Monday to Friday but gives counties the option to open as early as 7 AM and close as late as 7 PM. Counties must hold two Saturdays of early voting from 9 AM to 5 PM and they have the option to hold early voting on one or both Sundays during the period. So, the harsh statement that the law ends Sunday voting is incorrect, BUT a county can prohibit Sunday voting and the state can do nothing about it. Not good.

Here’s one that might get some questions thrown at Kemp. Georgia previously conducted identity verification by comparing a voter’s signature on their ballot envelope or absentee voter application with a signature on file. Voters will now need to provide their driver’s license or state ID card when applying for an absentee ballot and provide one of those identifiers or the last four digits of their Social Security number to verify their ballot. The state already requires voters to show a photo ID to vote in-person. Could DNA and fingerprint matching be next? Brian Kemp said he would provide photo IDs for any resident of the state for FREE! Whoopee!

Legislators shortened the window to request an absentee ballot. Voters can now request an absentee ballot starting eleven weeks before the election and ending eleven days before the election. This seems reasonable, but I found this little gem in the lines of text, “A blank application for an absentee ballot shall be made available online by the Secretary of State and each election superintendent and registrar, but neither the Secretary of State, election superintendent, board of registrars, other governmental entity, nor employee or agent thereof shall send absentee ballot applications directly to any elector except upon request of such elector or a relative authorized to request an absentee ballot for such elector.” In other words, the action of mailing an application for an absentee ballot, a great way to promote voting, is now against the law. This was one of Donald Trump’s big complaints. Why don’t they set up a voter registration kiosk at every US Postal Service office, you know, before they close them? And while they’re at it offer Covid vaccines too!

Another provision of the new Georgia law that angers many Americans is this, “No person shall solicit votes in any manner or by any means or method, nor shall any person distribute or display any campaign material, nor shall any person give, offer to give, or participate in the giving of any money or gifts, including, but not limited to, food and drink, to an elector, nor shall any person solicit signatures for any petition, nor shall any person, other than election officials discharging their duties, establish or set up any tables or booths on any day in which ballots are being cast: (1) Within 150 feet of the outer edge of any building within which a polling place is established; (2) Within any polling place; or (3) Within 25 feet of any voter standing in line to vote at any polling place.”

For many years, a federal election law has been in place dealing with “electioneering” at voting locations and most states have at least a 100-foot restriction on campaigning within that area. This food and water prohibition when voter turnout is so great seems onerous, inhuman and cruel. It assumes the person giving the water or food is doing so for nefarious reasons. If a county cannot shorten the lines, then they should provide food and water.

The period between general elections and runoffs has been condensed from nine to four weeks, and that is probably good. Why was such a lengthy time needed previously? The act also sets more clear requirements for challenging a voter’s registration. “Ballot selfies” are banned. The law explicitly prohibits voters from taking a photo of voting machines or their absentee ballot. The state will also set up a voter intimidation hotline, which is good because groups of TRUMPERS were present at many polling locations. Some provisional ballots will have new restrictions. Georgia constantly purges their voter rolls and there have been cases of voters incorrectly thinking they were registered but being asked to use a provisional ballot. I have no idea if those are even counted.

Here’s the worst part of this new law. Trump couldn’t get Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to cheat for him, and Brian Kemp said he had no power over the Secretary’s role, so they have changed the structure of their government. The bill demotes the secretary of state from chairing the State Election Board, with the legislature now appointing a “nonpartisan chair” of the five-person board. The Georgia Secretary of State will be a non-voting, ex-officio member. Yes, my friends, the Republicans, you know, they guys who preach “let’s not make the government bigger” just added another layer to government.

It’s clearly a head-up-their-collective-asses move that could come back to more than haunt them. The legislature has the power to fire any chairperson of the State Election Board they disagree with, even if it involves their own election bid. When you use the word “non-partisan” and then codify “conflict of interest,” you end ethics oversight. Why would Brian Kemp participate in weakening the power of the executive branch of government? Is he a true constitutionalist or a saboteur? Seriously, what would keep the legislature from dismissing the chair of the Georgia Election Board, getting rid of all its members, decreeing the election for whoever they want and stealing a victory from the jaws of defeat? Nothing!

Georgia will now have separate Democratic and Republican primaries for special elections and that’s the right thing to do. Independent candidates who wish to send out absentee ballot applications to voters must clearly state that the application is not coming from a government office and is not a ballot. They are also prohibited from sending applications to voters who have already requested a ballot on their own or who have already voted absentee. So, how would a candidate know such things about a voter? Also, isn’t mailing an application against the law?

Not everything in this law is bad, but you must read through a lot of bullshit to uncover its positive aspects. That makes cheering for it difficult. Brian Kemp always seems defensive and he’s a lousy salesperson. He and other Trump boys and girls like Ron DeSantis in Florida and Greg Abbot in Texas are so busy defending themselves they never smile or explain why the things they do are good for the people they represent. They carry forward the grievance philosophy of telling us how bad things are and then make them worse by idiotic laws such as prohibiting food and water for voters. They care more about telling voters what they can’t do while not giving a hoot about saving voters lives by mandating mask wearing. They’re more like nuns than leaders. Away with that wooden ruler, Mr. Kemp, just make it easier to vote!

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The book that tells it like it is…

Gold, God, Guns & Goofballs: If you only read one chapter of this book, try “Take a Knee for America” and think about our never-ending conflicts between minorities and the police. I’m not asking you to take a stand but having a deep and honest conversation about why some people think the way they do would be productive. This is a book for the moment which seeks to start a conversation about peace. And if you are worried about social media, you really should check out the chapter called “Social Media Menace.”

Get the Kindle Version HERE. Or order your paperback edition HERE.

 


HE BROKE THE LAW

Trump’s Self-Pardon Parlay

Because he was not removed from office during his impeachment proceedings, Donald Trump has developed an inflated view about his power. This Includes a belief that he can grant himself a pardon. I’m sure he’ll try.  It’s the kind of doubling down a drunk gambler does in desperation. The greed and excitement of going all in only looks smart when there’s a winning outcome. If Trump loses the battle of self-pardon in the Supreme Court, he will be the target of endless litigation and charges. This man’s mad acts have made America vindictive and about 60% of the folks in the country will want their pound of flesh.

Brad Raffensperger

By now, most Americans have heard the damaging excerpts from the conversation between President Donald Trump and Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger. With all the hubbub surrounding the legitimacy of the 2020 election, more people than ever understand the responsibilities of our secretaries of state (SOS). It’s ironic that the SOS acronym also means Save Our Ship, the distress call of the high seas.

The work of our state secretaries is easily seen because it involves the public interest. Here is an example of the investigative results by Georgia’s SOS office. These people do good work, and they should be respected unless they are suppressing the vote, which sometimes happen when they navigate the rough waters between partisan desires and public duty. Some pilot that craft well, while others are just as bad as those who desire to control them.

My hats off to Raffensperger for his honor, honesty and valor during the horrendous misuse of power Donald Trump and his enablers wielded on that phone call. The obstruction of justice and attempted law breaking is embarrassing for America and a dark stain on Democracy itself. As we hear legal experts pontificate and explain whether this man in the White House broke the law, some answer by saying a president cannot be indicted while in office. Yes, I get that, but it doesn’t answer the question if Trump’s behavior was illegal. Had anyone else made a phone call like Trump’s they would have been charged. Ask Rod Blagojevich, who was convicted of attempting to sell a Senate seat and sent to prison. By the way, he owes his freedom to Donald Trump, the friend who pardoned him.

That brings us to whether Trump will pardon himself. Will he take the risk of executing a flawed and thin authority of self-pardon? Maybe he will pull a fast one by excluding himself from a bunch of new pardons, then resigning with a diabolical plot in place. After the Chief Justice swears in Mike Pence as the new president, Pence would then pardon Trump. Is such a plan viable? It would most certainly bring political destruction and death to Pence. Is such ass kissing worth it Mikey?

Trump’s Last Stand

Trying to parlay power into his next life would be a giant risk for Donald Trump. He’s got little credibility with anyone except the tyrants and dictators who rule some other countries. Even Israel, who appears to kowtow to him, would reject any attempt on his part to move there. Their hardcore political partisans are worse than anything we have in the US. In the bitter end, when banks and lenders come knocking on Trump’s door to collect on their loans, he’s going to have to pay up. The regulatory agencies in many countries are wise to the con and will be opening major inquiries into their corporations. For example, we’ll probably see Germany launch a major investigation into Deutsche Bank. There is a reason for this kind of extreme caution and oversight, it’s called money laundering.

So, Trump faces a serious conundrum. If he resigns, he will seem weak and guilty to his loyal followers. If he stays in office until January 20th, he could lose his chance of pardon. If he finds out that his “self-pardon” ruse didn’t work, he will have to continue his pattern of lies and lawsuits to avoid the inevitable, being charged and prosecuted. Donald believes he never does anything wrong and, in his tiny mind, can’t possibly think that his actions are above the law.

Trump’s weekend phone call was illuminating because it showed, once again, what Michael Cohen and James Comey have said about the Donald. Like a mafia boss, he never directly says what he’s asking. It’s coyly done with intimidation and a slight nudge and wink. He never said, “You need to say I got more votes.” His words were, “What I need…” leaving the listener to intuit his actual meaning. When Trump said that he “won the election,” Raffensperger swatted back with a polite, “Your numbers are not correct.” Someone with less balance and political savvy would have retorted to Trump’s allegation that their action is criminal by asking, “Are you threatening me?” To the credit of the Georgia officials, they didn’t escalate the matter in that way. Smart.

“It’s like Donald Corleone,” Howard Stern

When I was a young man in Pittsburgh, I had a friend who ran the jewelry store where number slips for the local boss were collected. One night, he, I and a group of others went to a restaurant in the East Liberty section of town called, Win, Place and Show. When our group of partiers wanted to get another round of drinks, the waiter replied, “Okay, is this one check?” Being the jerk in the group, I barked, “How about one more drink for the road?” The waiter then peered at my jeweler buddy and quietly said, “It’s time.” After we made our way to the parking lot, I saw five black limos with their motors running in the back. I asked my friend what this was all about, and he apologized saying he forgot it was the night for the weekly meeting of the mob families. I froze.

This encounter taught me two things. One, actions can be easily provoked and, two, even though a place serves great food one must never assume the establishment believes that the customer is always right. I survived my naivete to write this blog and eat Italian food.

Should the time come when Donald John Trump announces that he will pardon himself for acts during his presidency, we must all ask these questions. What are the next steps and who will launch the lawsuit to erase this pardon? Should Trump attempt to pardon himself for all things during his presidency, then someone needs to open that can of worms and address each of the slimy lies. After all is said and done, the Donald will slink away to Florida, watch TV and throw continuous tweet-shoes at the screen, becoming a caricature of himself. As he ages and his bloated face slowly melts into long wrinkles and sagging jowls, people will walk away from him. He’s certainly the worst president in my lifetime, and that’s a seventy-plus years run.

There are times lawyers criticize me for making a statement they consider to be my “opinion.” Well, there are three reasons beyond my opinions about why I believe Trump broke the law during his call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. First, there is a law that says such behavior is illegal. Next, the officials in Georgia knew that Donald was attempting to intimidate them, so they recorded the call and then released it to the press. It doesn’t matter what Trump says about his intent. The people on the other end of the call believed he was asking them to commit fraud.

Finally, there’s this. Trump attempted that call 18 times, obsessing over his need to have that conversation. He had a plan to overturn the election and was antsy to press the deceit. It’s like a three-strikes and your out legal matter. Donald Trump is guilty of violating the fundamental tenets of the law: “…prohibits any person, in an election for federal office, from defrauding or attempting to defraud the residents of a state of a fair election through casting or tabulating ballots that the offender knows are materially false or fraudulent under state law.” This isn’t obstruction of justice, it’s a clear case of soliciting and encouraging fraud. Case closed.

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The book that tells it like it is…

Gold, God, Guns & Goofballs: If you only read one chapter of this book, try “Take a Knee for America” and think about our never-ending conflicts between minorities and the police. I’m not asking you to take a stand but having a deep and honest conversation about why some people think the way they do would be productive. This is a book for the moment which seeks to start a conversation about peace. And if you are worried about social media, you really should check out the chapter called “Social Media Menace.”

Get the Kindle Version HERE. Or order your paperback edition HERE.


THE GREAT AMERICAN LIAR

Trump Believes Only in Himself

After watching Donald John Trump in office for his first 200 days, I was convinced he was unworthy of the presidency. I felt so strongly that I wrote the book, Donald Trump: Repeal, Replace, Impeach, which was one of the first books to state, in no uncertain words, that Trump should be impeached. Why? My premise was simple. Trump never tells the truth and doesn’t deserve to be president.

My book’s conclusion presented arguments against the Donald and the conflicts he created. Remember, this was early in his administration:

           Pitting his political base against the majority of America

            Enabling hate and bigotry instead of inclusiveness and progress

            Pushing fear and a bullying method rather than fair, mature leadership

            Employing hyperbole and lies without truth and facts

            Promoting domestic supremacy over global leadership

            Demolishing rules for business at the expense of the environment

            Allowing fraud

            Defunding education so that we can overspend on military

            Grabbing excessive executive power and creating a Constitutional crisis

            Being unpredictable rather than consistent

I expect my outdated book will eventually become nothing more than a door stop, but I do stand by everything I wrote. Each point happened and has been amplified over time. But why should we care about Donald Trump? He lost the election. He’s become a one-term president who was impeached and is now about to be repealed and replaced.

When the neo-Nazis and white supremacists barked out the trope, “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville, Virginia, Trump showed his deplorable lack of leadership by saying there were “good people on both sides.” It was not much of an admonishment of anti-Semitism but a fine example of using the wrong words at the wrong thing. That’s exactly what Donald Trump has done, over and over again.

NBC News just published a piece entitled, “Trump versus the truth: The most outrageous falsehoods of his presidency.” As they point out, the stage was set early on when the Donald made Sean Spicer (remember him?) argue with the press about the “size of his inauguration crowd.” There was a damn picture comparing Trump’s crowd to Obama’s crowd. The former was indisputably smaller. We could easily see it. I guess size is somehow important to this loser president.

The article quotes historian Michael Beschloss, “I have never seen a president in American history who has lied so continuously and so outrageously as Donald Trump, period.” It sounds a bit like what Sean Spicer said, “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period!” It’s as if saying the word “period,” when the sentence already has a period, makes it more, well, credible.

Is this what he wants?

 

Donald Trump is close to being evicted from his current residence. It’s almost sad that he genuinely believes he won the election and deserves to have four more years in office. He’s desperately failed at his primary job, the one he swore under oath he would do. We all heard him say, “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” His blatant and constant lies have slashed a hole in the Constitution, which he has failed to protect and defend. He’s mostly ignored its words, doing whatever he damn well wanted to do with a lie attached to every move.

I’ll focus on one item from my list of Trump’s weaknesses as a president — promoting domestic supremacy over global leadership. On the surface it can be seen as idealism wrapped in flowery language, but the nugget inside reveals how the seed of cancer has been growing within this president from day one. Donald Trump has no capacity for altruism, selflessness or concern for the well-being of others. He views himself as the center of the universe and has convinced himself that he is America. I realize that sounds outrageous but think about it. In his small brain if it isn’t good for Donald Trump then it isn’t good for America. Why didn’t he emphatically rail against Nazis in America? Was he doing the best he could to support people who think like him?

Many events over the past four years underscore the Donald’s ultimate maxim, “You are either with ME, or you are against ME.” Let’s be clear, The “me” is the man’s ego, or clinically speaking his id, the personality component of unconscious psychic energy that works to satisfy fundamental urges, needs, and desires. Donald Trump doesn’t care about how things really are, his only concern is about the way he wants them to be. He has tranced millions of people from the need to critically think, creating a diabolical regression of thought. If you believe in the man, you believe all his lies.

Desperate man on the phone

Over the weekend, Trump was on a call with the Secretary of State of Georgia for more than an hour, trying to get him to find votes for him. The call was recorded and released by the Georgia officials, so that the world could hear the overconfidence of this criminal we have in the White House. More will be made of this, but for now, every concern I’ve had for four years has been exposed as warranted.

He doesn’t care about the flag wavers and gun packing fools who pledge their allegiance to him. He needs only to be adored and masturbated by the masses, like a common store-bought dictator. When things don’t go his way, first he first pouts and then rage-tweets into the night like a spoiled seven-year-old boy. The weak people around him either placate him, or worse, mouth his lies to the point they believe them as truth. I believe that’s called brainwashing.

Trump has said he has no regrets in his life and has nothing to apologize for, even to God. Okay, that’s rather contemptable. As NBC News pointed out, “Trump’s run for the presidency was fueled by political prominence gained by promoting the racist ‘birther’ lie about President Barack Obama, and his 2016 victory was secured by a campaign rooted in false claims about immigrants and inner-city crime.” Just like Trump’s full-page newspaper ad urging the death penalty for the Central Park Five, he has no problem stating innocent people should be executed based solely on his opinion rather than the truth. When his good buddies in Saudi Arabia murdered Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi he looked the other way, justifying his attitude and lack of action by a huge arms deal with the Saudi Crown Prince. I wonder how God would classify such behavior.

On March 10, 2020, Trump commented on his administration’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis by saying, “We’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.” At that time, the US had just over a thousand known infections and thirty deaths. Trump’s words were a lie.  From thirty deaths to more than 351,000, Donald John Trump has been spewing falsehoods every day he’s been in office. Now he wants you to believe his biggest lie of all, that he won the 2020 election. This man has been poisonous for America and we all need a vaccination against the disease he carries – lack of empathy. We will all be better without him, period.

Brand New Book for the Recovery

How to Hire Great People: Tips, Tricks and Templates for Success

Great companies hire great people. This short, easy-to-read book will help you recruit, review and refocus your new workers into the style and culture of your company. Motivating people to do great work will manage turnover and keeping good workers at your company will maintain your success. Employee inspiration makes a positive difference in our competitive world. HOW TO HIRE GREAT PEOPLE covers everything, including testing, training, tricks and tips. Follow this guide and you’ll assemble strong teams with smart workers, and you’ll learn some time-tested techniques about how to keep them.

Kindle and Paperback Click Here

 

The book that tells it like it is…

Gold, God, Guns & Goofballs: If you only read one chapter of this book, try “Take a Knee for America” and think about our never-ending conflicts between minorities and the police. I’m not asking you to take a stand but having a deep and honest conversation about why some people think the way they do would be productive. This is a book for the moment which seeks to start a conversation about peace. And if you are worried about social media, you really should check out the chapter called “Social Media Menace.”

Get the Kindle Version HERE. Or order your paperback edition HERE.