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Friday, July 20, 2018


By now, we probably all know much of what Donald J. Trump said and did in Helsinki (and afterward).  I will spare you all the quotes, and instead  list a few examples of what some others had to say:

Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of “high crimes & misdemeanors.” It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???  (John O. Brennan, in widely reported tweet (16 July 2018)

You have been watching one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president at a summit in front of a Russian leader that I’ve ever seen. (Anderson Cooper, in his first comments after the end of joint Putin-Trump news conference, as quoted in "TV Anchors Agape After the Trump-Putin Appearance" by Michael M. Grynbaum in The New York Times (16 July 2018)

President Trump must clarify his statements in Helsinki on our intelligence system and Putin. It is the most serious mistake of his presidency and must be corrected — immediately.  (Newt Gingrich, in tweet after the Helsinki summit news conference (16 July 2018)

Because Trump is unable to see past himself, he sees the Russia meddling investigation as only about him and the collusion claim, and thus calls it a witch hunt. But the investigations are much more about what Russia did, as the House and Senate reports long since established. 
This is a disgraceful moment. … The president’s party knows better. I know they do. I served with many of them. America needs them to speak out with clarity and conviction not just in this news cycle, but until there’s common sense governing America’s foreign policy.  (Brit Hume, on Trump's responses to questions at Helsinki, in tweet (16 July 2018)

And more from multiple sources:  Just a few of the comments that I heard on TV from politicians, guests on political news, experts in intelligence and many more related to the disastrous remarks made by Donald Trump at Helsinki press conference with Vladimir Putin.

giving aid and comfort to an adversary (“enemy”)
against his oath to “defend the Constitution of the United States"
Took word of a lying, murderous dictator against that of his own government
refused to back his own country; siding with Putin
Trump has colluded with Russia on cover-up of election interference (a cyber-attack) – an act of betrayal at least; is providing cover by questioning US intelligence services
investigation of Russian collusion is driving policy;  lack of concern about cyber attack

And so, bigger questions begin to arise:
 Is this enough to make Republicans stand up and defend this country instead of defending Putin and Trump?

While some leaders have come forth with very critical statements, like those of Senators John McCain of Arizona, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, plus Gov. Kasich of Ohio, and others like John Brennan, former head of the CIA and Dan Coats, current CIA head, there are still very disturbing indications that the rank and file aren’t the least upset by the buffoonery and possibly treasonous behavior of Mr. Trump.

We need to take a look at a recent poll of 453 Republicans and 399 Democrats conducted by Reuters/Ipsos  after his controversial summit and joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “More than half of Americans disapprove of the way U.S. President Donald Trump is handling relations with Russia,” 

However, his general level of support has not changed that much, according to that same poll:  “Forty-two percent of registered voters said they approved of Trump’s performance in office in the latest opinion poll, compared with a daily average of between 40 and 44 percent so far in July.”
“Among Republicans, 71 percent approved of his handling of Russia compared to 14 percent of Democrats.  Trump still enjoys broad support among Republican voters despite criticism from party leaders about his words and actions while standing alongside the Russian leader answering questions from reporters, the poll results showed.”

There may be another level of questioning being undertaken.  According to a report about cyber space, there was a decided jump in searches for the words “treason” and “traitor” – by over 1,300%!  Of course, there is no way to know what percentage of which Party was most concerned with these phrases, but one thing is clear:  people are questioning the substance of what Trump was displaying.

Finally, the NY Times identified a small break, perhaps, in the Teflon protection previously afforded Trump based on interviews held with Republican voters across the country, along with a sample of swing voters who “appeared to process Mr. Trump’s comments with alarm.”
But whatever ‘break’ there may seem to be over Russia and Trump’s performance at Helsinki, the Times had this assessment: 

“They quickly sorted themselves into two camps: those who winced at the episode, or at least questioned it, and those who continued to defend Mr. Trump without hesitation.

If history is a guide — and polling, too — the second group is significantly larger within the party. And for Mr. Trump’s true loyalists, the Helsinki meeting and its aftermath have once more inspired a sense of fury and grievance on his behalf. It is not merely that they support the president in spite of his Russia stance, like Republican lawmakers who grimace at times but largely embrace his agenda. Increasingly, these voters have absorbed Mr. Trump’s every viewpoint, his scapegoats, even his language tics as their own.”

And so, we come inevitably to a question that has gone unaddressed in too many quarters, (including in Congress and in the DNC, for instance):
Can people still support Trump and not thereby become complicit in “adhering to” and “giving aid and comfort to the enemy”?  In other words: supporting Trump now has the strong possibility of being translated into protecting and aiding Putin and Russia, an enemy sworn to destroy American influence at the least, and American way of life and form of government at most.

Is it therefore incumbent on the rest of us to defeat the forces of “aid and comfort?”  Personally, I believe it is time for the leaders of the Democratic Party to realize the gravity of this fight.  But just as gravely important are the attitudes and involvement of the grassroots voters in this fight. 

 I raise another question:  under these circumstances, can the complacency and inaction among grassroots Democrats and Independents also be seen as complicity in the battle for our values, our norms, our principles and our democracy?

We are now at a juncture in our history – like the Revolution or the Civil War – where we have to decide what matters; to decide what form of government we shall have.  To decide whether, in the words of the Declaration of Independence, the current government has become so “destructive…it is the right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundations on such principles and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”  
The Declaration includes this caution: “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes… But when a long train of abuses and usurpations…evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty to throw off such government , and to provide new guards for their future security.”

It is now past time for resisters and activists to demonstrate beyond the picket lines that our form of government may be the best ever conceived, but right now, is in dire need of repair.  At such moments, and historic junctures, we must re-examine our fundamental principles and values.  Because, believe it or not, this fight between the forces of destruction, and the forces of construction and reform is always fought basically over principles and values.  Example:  the philosophy behind fascism or communism against the forces of democratic equality and freedom always comes down to the issue of what, above all,  is valued the most. 

We are in a battle for the principles of rule of law, not of men; of right and peace against war and destruction.  We are in a fight for the values of equality before the law and equal opportunity; for the ultimate authority of the People’s will – free and fair elections, for instance.  We are in a struggle to maintain the fundamental rights of all people to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness; which has to be translated into structures, institutions, policies and procedures that enhance that vision, not shatter it. 

We cannot allow attacks upon children, women, seniors, veterans; or, upon labor, those with disabilities and special challenges, the poor, that portion of the  population that is weak from age and disease.  We cannot abide the destructive and worthless values of narrow nationalism, false patriotism as well as racism and any other prejudice that might determine our future.  We must not give in to know-nothing forces that encourage the destruction of our environment (and our planet).  We cannot allow a contrary ethic of profit and enrichment for an oligarchic elite to finance the destruction of the humanitarian state that believes that the well-being of human beings transcends the division, the inequality and yes, the expense of maintaining an aristocracy that seeks to be free from the constraints and guidelines – norms – that the rest of us accept in order to enhance and protect the lives of all.

It is past time to re-claim our values and our foundational principles.  It will take another Declaration, not of Independence, but of common purpose.  And it will take a bolder spirit of reform and change than we have mustered to this point.  We must become the Vanguard of Truth, of Justice for all, of Equality and Opportunity - the front line, not just of resistance, but of INSISTENCE that our system has become encrusted with false values and with structures and institutions that are not in sync with a future that is impinging upon us at this moment. 
We have not been bold enough to make the changes that must be made to release our democratic values from the cage in which they  have been constrained, separated from their parental principles.  We must put People first, for that is what makes this country great.  We must resurrect our basic principles in new forms and structures that put people before profit.  We must rejuvenate our larger vision of a world at peace, and not at each other’s throats.  We must lead in re-strengthening a world organization, not withdrawing support and resources thus undermining it. 

There is so much to do, and so little time.  Let us start by not just opposing approval of Brett Cavanaugh for Justice of the SCOTUS.  Let us find someone of whatever political background who has shown dedication, not to a political philosophy or ideology, but to a set of humanitarian principles and values that will inform each decision made.(perhaps similar to Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland).  Let the people find him or her and let us tell Donald Trump and his captured legislators that this is who we want on the Supreme Court, or we shall vote them out for ignoring our values, our needs and our fundamental right to be heard on all matters before this government. 

Second step: we must Get Out the Vote in November to demonstrate that a new wave is breaking, a new movement is being born, and that representatives who cast their lot and their votes to maintain welfare for the rich are dinosaurs who cannot lead us from this lowest point of our democracy into a new world of Reform and Reconstruction – only the People have that authority and that resolve!  SO, let us resolve to vote in droves on November 6th, 2018, and let us alert Jurassic Park to expect some new residents!  

Thursday, July 5, 2018


Do you ever wonder what it was like on that day in 1776? How did those presenters of the Declaration of Independence resolution feel on that first Independence Day?  Were they elated? Scared? Humbled? Excited?  Well, there were some varied reactions, and we ought to study them for a deeper purpose.  But, for now, let's take a slight detour and examine a few myths we have created.

The founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776
 John Trumbull's famous painting actually depicts the Committee of Five presenting the Declaration.

(1)  The founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.  
“The Continental Congress actually issued an initial resolution asserting independence from Britain on July 2, which was then revised and finalized on July 4”.   However, it took longer for the Declaration of Independence document to be signed by the parties to it, and longer still to get everyone’s signature.  Historians believe that the signing didn't take place until about a month later. Emily Sneff, research manager of the Declaration Resources Project at Harvard University, writes that 49 of the 56 signers didn't even add their signatures to the declaration until August 2, 1776.   She cites the Journals of the Continental Congress, which include this August 2 entry: "The declaration of independence being engrossed and compared at the table was signed."
So why do we celebrate the 4th of July as Independence Day?  “The Declaration was technically agreed to on that day, and the copies distributed throughout the colonies were dated July 4, 1776.”
(2)  Independence was all about the Colonies and Britain.  Partly true, but not wholly true.  Remember, there were many colonists who saw Britain as their home country, and who remained loyal to her during the Revolutionary War and after.  There was also a larger conflict that played a role, and that was the long-enduring rivalry between France and England.  “The American Revolution took place on the heels of the French and Indian War — one of the theaters of the Seven Years' War between France and Britain.
That North American clash provided a prelude to the Revolution, launching George Washington's military career and prompting a victorious but cash-strapped Britain to raise taxes on its colonies. France's eventual decision to dive into the fight on the side of the colonists was a chance for payback.” 

The Liberty Bell cracked on Independence Day

(3)  The Liberty Bell cracked on July 4th, 1776.

“As the lore goes, after the colonies declared independence, the citizens of Philadelphia partied so hard that they cracked the bell, which was first made in 1751.” Well,  Philadelphians may like to party, but in this case they probably did not get the word that the declaration was official until July 8th. "On that day, lots of bells were rung to celebrate public readings of the Declaration, and the Liberty Bell was probably one of them," writes historian Joseph Coohill — who blogs about historical myths under the name Professor Buzzkill.
We have no way of knowing for sure, though, whether the bell cracked even though “the state house steeple in which the bell was housed was kind of falling apart and under repair at the time,”  according to the Independence Hall Association.

(4)  John Hancock's giant signature was meant to sass King George III
The story goes that when Hancock was asked why he had signed his name so large, Hancock quipped that he wanted King George III to be able to read it without his spectacles!  We know at the very least that the document was never sent to King George III.  We also know from other documents that Hancock signed that he just happened to have a large flourishing signature!

(Thanks to Wikipedia and for these portraits and quotes)
As always, Americans are somewhat expert at making-up stories that later are pretty much accepted by a large number of people as “gospel truth.”  But now that we have taken this detour, let us remind ourselves of some truths about our origins as a nation that may have meaning for today’s world.
 One of those truths relates to the ages of many of the people who attended the Continental Congress that declared Independence, and many who served in the Army of the Revolution under General George Washington. There were some elders there, Benjamin Franklin (in whose honor we are using a Franklin font today!) the most prominent, perhaps. He was age 70. Thomas Jefferson was 33 and Hancock was 39.  Because the average life expectancy  for men was about 35-45 in those days, the latter two would have been considered in the more mature age group! 

At the time of the signing of the Declaration, there were younger men anxious to be doing their part.  A few would include: James Monroe,18; Alexander Hamilton 21; George Pinckney 18 (later, governor of South Carolina); Henry Lee II (father of Robert E.) known as “Light Horse Harry” was 20; John Marshall, 20 and Nathan Hale, 21.  At 26-years-old, Edward Rutledge became the youngest signatory of the Declaration of Independence on August 2, 1776.
The surprising truth is that there were many younger men drawn to serve in the Revolutionary War, in the halls of Congress and other bodies within a short time after 1776.  There may have been enough younger men involved to call the revolution by a more modern term – a Youth Movement!  Rather than dwell on men (women and slaves as well) who were part of this youth movement, let me, instead, draw your attention to some take-aways that need your  attention.
What can we draw from this?  Unfortunately, we can say – on this Independence Day of 2018 – that we have seen the start of something ugly and foreboding in our own time. We need young people to recognize that we live in one of those moments in American history, when we are threatened once more as a nation, by:
·       an authoritarian government attempting to undermine the foundations of our democracy; they themselves call it de-construction, but it is nothing short of destruction of values that underlie our Constitution and our institutions
·       a tyrannical leader who not only has raised taxes on the middle class, but has destroyed health care, undermined public education, and de-regulated almost every function of government that watches over our citizens;  soon, there will be few controls on business, injustice, inequality and unequal opportunity, so that the only group prospering will be the aristocracy
·       a Congress playing “follow the leader,” and turning over authority and power to the leader, rather than keeping its own separate duties and responsibilities intact, as an equal and independent branch of government
·       a Judiciary becoming the Trump-card for everything the Executive decides to undertake: approval for the roll-back of union rights, women’s rights, civil rights, and protection of children by outlawing gun mania. Support for refusal to admit Muslim immigrants from certain countries is a symptom of what is wrong with a judiciary that favors despotic restrictions.  
·       destruction of this country’s leadership in the world, undoing alliances and treaties, as well as agreements and protocols and building overt and covert relationships with countries that seek our destruction
Our young people must continue to stand up against gun violence, against an unequal and sometimes abusive justice system; against tyranny, and against lack of healthcare, the lack of extraordinary public schools and lack of a plethora of opportunities for a good life.  Will we need a Revolution?  YES, if this continues unabated; NO, if the tyrant is impeached and the do-nothing Congress is once again a place where the people’s business gets done, and is not undermined.
What else might we learn from July 4th, 1776 (and thereafter)?
Just one more thought perhaps.  “Independence” is an important virtue and value, especially in a democracy.  But when it gets carried to an extreme of nationalistic xenophobia, racism, or belief that one can be above the Law, or that independence means unbridled power to do what one wants rather than to build a community that nurtures, prevents harm and advocates individual contributions to a whole society, then we are in trouble. 
Independence is not individualism or narcissism, or superiority built on oppression and minimalization.  Independence is the ability to advocate for the right even when it is unpopular.  Independence is the strength to stand for something and someone, when others deny the worth of both.  Independence is the wisdom to know when something is out-of-kilter; out-of-whack; out-of-bounds, and inhumane, and then to act with a spirit that inspires others to respond with positive action.  Independence is running for the local school board.  Independence is speaking out when no one else will.  Independence is looking for the real solutions and the real root causes of human frustration, human need and human dignity, and doing something about it.
Independence cannot be taken for granted.  It must be experienced; it must be sought; it must be lived out on behalf of the community.  Independence is not resistance or rebellion for its own sake, or something one does just because one feels like it.  It is rather the joining of individual minds, wills and hearts to effect a revolution of spirit and vitality that transforms the community, the laws, the lives and the hopes of a sovereign people who care about who they are, why they exist, and for whom they can advocate for a better life, liberty and happiness.  In that spirit – hope you had a Happy Fourth of July!


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Children Also Have Universal Human Rights!

I am an 80-year-old grandfather of 10 grandchildren. I need to say several things about what is happening to children of asylum-seekers and other immigrants (whether illegal or legal) at our southern borders. 

1)  Separating immigrant children from their parents, without legal justification, and subjecting them to detention (a form of imprisonment) is a clear denial of fundamental and universal human rights.
The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, signed and accepted almost 70 years ago by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948 (including the United States of America), contains a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations, setting out fundamental human rights to be universally protected.  It declares the following:

In the Preamble:
“recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world
“disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind…
“it is essential… that human rights should be protected by the rule of law.”

Some Pertinent Articles:
I Article 1.  All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2. Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs,
Article 3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 5. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Article 6. Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7. All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.
Article 8.  Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
Article 10.  Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11.  (1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense.

Article 12.  No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
Article 14.  (1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.

Article 15.  (1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.
Article 16.  (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 25.  (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 28.  Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.
The USA signed on to the Declaration on Human Rights in 1948, and to the Children’s Convention on Child Rights (CRC) in 1989.  To “undertake the obligations of the CRC (by ratifying or acceding to it), national governments have committed themselves to protecting and ensuring children's rights – and they have agreed to hold themselves accountable for this commitment before the international community. State parties to the Convention are obliged to develop and undertake all actions and policies in the light of the best interests of the child”.  Moreover, “the Convention sets out these rights in 54 articles and two Optional Protocols. It spells out the basic human rights that children everywhere have:

  • the right to survival;
  • to develop to the fullest;
  • to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life (emphasis mine). 
  • The four core principles of the Convention are non-discrimination; devotion to the best interests of the child; the right to life, survival and development; and respect for the views of the child.”
2)  There is no law requiring or instituting such actions against children of immigrants on our southern border (or anywhere else).  This egregious action is nothing other than a policy of this Trump regime, made under the guise of maintaining national security by setting a strong example that will somehow “discourage” illegal border-crossing.  And yet, our democratic and human rights principles call us as a nation to a quite different mission as outlined in the DHR and in our own Constitution:  equal justice, freedom, peace and protection; acting toward one another in a spirit of brother- and sister-hood. Humanitarian leadership and efforts used to define us as a nation.  Now we are seen by many around the world as brutish, dictatorial, narrowly nationalistic, violent and destructive of international cooperation.  No wonder we have been and continue to be under attack by forces bent on our destruction. 

3)  While the separation of children from their parents, and the detention in inadequate facilities, is clearly a violation of universal human rights and our own principles (like Japanese internment camps were during WWII) it is also clearly a violation of our rule of law.  We have enshrined within out Constitution, and our laws of justice, the fundamental principles of:
  • Due process - legal requirement that the state must respect all legal rights that are owed to a person
  • The right to be charged or to be freed from questioning by police authorities; plus the right to be silent
  • Innocent until proven guilty
  • Right to habeas corpus (a recourse in law challenging the reasons or conditions of a person's confinement) so that containment can be limited and justice un-delayed. It is an independent civil action and a form of collateral attack to determine not the guilt or innocence of the person held in custody, but whether the custody is unlawful under the U.S. Constitution.” (Merriam-Webster)
  • The right to a speedy trial by a jury of one’s peers, or perhaps at least a hearing by a panel of jurists or a court-ordered arbitrator.
  • The right to equal protection under law
So, it is incumbent upon us to ask: What laws have been broken by these children?  What are the charges?  Why has there been no legal defense offered on behalf of these children?  No action to get them released?  No writ of habeas corpus? Why can’t the public be admitted to the detention centers?  Is seeking asylum now a crime?  Is illegal immigration not a resolvable issue?  Why has the independent branch of Congress not acted? Have we abandoned our principles and our protection of human beings and their universal rights? 

The unfortunate answer must be a resounding YES, and every brain-washed Trump supporter should take note: this policy is not making America great; it will destroy us and our unique democracy because it ultimately will transform us into a nation based on individualized protections, discriminatory policies and laws that grant power, privilege and protection only to those deemed worthy – all ruled over by a despot and despotic cabal.

4)  Finally, it is time to stop equivocating about what these actions and behaviors constitute.  THIS IS CHILD ABUSE, pure and simple.  And, child abuse or neglect is punishable by legal means, at least in a normal civil society.  It is time for Donald J. Trump, and many members of Congress to receive the consequences for their actions, and mainly their non-action or neglect. Because they are ultimately “caretakers” or “protectors” of children, they bear a special responsibility to avoid doing harm to children, and even to avoid the possible threat of harm coming upon children. Moreover, they cannot avoid the charge of abusing children based on their neglect of the well-being, protections, rights, nourishment and overall development that children should have been provided by our elected caretakers who are uniquely responsible for their welfare.
Yes, I have written about this before in another context, and I refer you to that posting on 10/10/2017.  Let me just quote a few thoughts about which I spoke in that piece:
if the definition of caregiver or caretaker is expanded to reflect the care given by others in the social network... then anyone paid to be responsible for domestic tranquility, the general welfare, and to secure the blessings of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, might well be considered a caretaker in a very broad sense, but also in a very real sense.”

“The Republican Radicals in Congress have decided …(to) cut funding for almost every program that benefits, encourages, nurtures and promotes children and their development:  research, universal pre-K education, housing for the homeless and the poor, adequate funding for all schools and the resources necessary to bring about a world-class education for all; they cut Head Start, Aid to children and families, food stamps, and housing subsidies, and ultimate repeal of the entire Affordable Care Act, having already gutted important parts of it.  They have neglected children with special needs; have cut Pell grants and neglected to cut back on interest rates for student loans.  They neglect entirely the special needs of homeless children, children with disabilities, children who will not go to college, and of those who drop out of school.  They have done nothing to reform the juvenile justice system or the over-incarceration of drug-abusers.  They have neglected the potential of minority children and have instead laid the groundwork for them to be labeled as perpetual felons with no vote, no rights and no jobs.  I call this abuse and neglect of children who are our most valuable resource.  The congressional naysayers are child abusers and for that they must be called to account.  Impeachment for them is too mild.”

And let’s not forget, voters who continuously return abusive politicians to office are themselves abettors of abuse, neglecting their duty to protect their own children and grandchildren.  I speak directly to those many seniors who supported Donald Trump, and who, by so doing, have unleashed a child abuser upon their own grandchildren and on my grandchildren.  Shame on you!  You, and others, can perhaps redeem yourselves by never ever voting again for politicians who willfully or neglectfully support cutting back on programs that benefit our children and grandchildren. It’s time to stand up and challenge the child abusers in the White House and in the Congress.”
However, a majority of Republicans support the Trump administration's policy of separating migrant children from their parents when they are caught illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, an April 2018 Quinnipiac University poll foundRepublican voters support the policy 55 to 35 percent, according to the poll.  They are the only listed party, gender, education, age or racial group to support the policy, according to Quinnipiac.  Sixty-six percent of American voters oppose the policy, according to the poll.

We all need to push back against the Trumpian tactic of calling questionable behavior, hate speech, or factual detail by something other than what it is.  Lying, distraction, word manipulation, realignment of acceptable and reasonable definitions of words and behaviors, as well as the twisting of moral and ethical principles, serves to blind us to what is really happening to our basic and fundamental beliefs and values. Trump has disemboweled truth.  He has made us the victims of blurred reality and is embarked upon a path of creating a society and a form of government that cannot maintain a set of values or principles because those values and principles are seen as ‘fake’ or no one’s responsibility, or politically expedient.  Bad, even evil or illegal behavior that does harm, or has the potential to harm others, is made allowable because everybody does it, or because it can be attributed to someone else or because it is a necessary means to an end or outcome that is defined as a necessity by an elected official, a designated office-holder, a Fuhrer, or a would-be dictator.   
The plain truth is that these actions laid on the backs of small children are acts of violence, aggression, unmitigated abuse with virulent aspects of illegality attached to them. Trump, child abuser and prejudiced nationalist, is using the most precious resource available to make it rough on asylum-seekers and immigrants from cultures and countries that he despises.  Separation of families seeking asylum is an act of aggression against those children and families which serves to undermine the universal values of which the UN Declaration on Human Rights speaks.  This so-called 'policy' must not stand.  Determine now to do all you can to rid our White House, our Congress (and tangentially, our Judiciary) from these de-constructionists of democratic values and institutions, these violent fascists, these child abusers; these destroyers of democracy and universal human rights.  The child abusers and abettors, who support this policy, must be voted out-of-power everywhere in November 2018! 

UPDATE:  What a difference a day makes!  Donald Trump recognizes when bad publicity and bad policy are slamming him, personally and politically, and (according to news reports) his wife and daughter got on his case in deep background. But, here's the question: does his signing of an Executive Order that essentially calls for maintaining unity for immigrant children and their parents while they are detained really solve anything? 
Are we being BAMBOOZLED?  Of course we are.  First, an Executive Order is not necessarily a problem-solver; it can be more like a symbol, a publicity stunt, a politically-motivated promoter of good feelings, compassion and "heart."  They are sometimes so devoid of detail that issues and problems are exacerbated instead of being resolved.
That is the case here.  First, the E.O. will provoke Court cases, not only on behalf of the children and their families, but because there is a court order based on a Consent Decree between the Court and the Executive, that impinges upon this E.O. by asserting that detention of migrant children can be no longer than 20 days, and the E.O. does not address that issue. That will have to be resolved in court and it will take time to do so. 

Then, there are a few more matters it doesn't address, like:  where are the (estimated) 2,500 children who have already been separated from parents?  How will they be re-united with parents who may have been deported to their home countries? No one has an answer -- there is no defined process in the Order.

On top of that, even before he signed this order, Trump and his minions began a policy of transporting unattended children to other parts of the country (even to NY!).  And how will private and public agencies who care for children get ready for that onslaught if they have no guidance, no direction, no training and no monetary support for the inevitable  increase of services for these traumatized kids? 

He also wants to start placing families and children in tents or temporary fabricated shelters on military bases! WOW! a brilliant Plan.  I wonder just how excited those commanders and their troops are about doing social work instead of being on a military mission?  It says to me that Trump is still just trying to discourage illegal immigration; he still sees his mission as that of providing discouragement to other potential border-crossers about seeking asylum or immigrating to this country, if they have nothing to offer us, or are not the right "kind."

This mess isn't over by a long shot!  That Executive Order is the Trumpian response to something that got out-of-hand and smacked him right in the face.  His "compassionate, heartfelt" response was, of course, to fly off to Minnesota where he will address a rally and attempt to blame Obama and the Democrats for a policy that was discussed by leaders of the Trump administration early-on in his term.  They knew what they wanted to do -- promote zero-tolerance no matter what.  As usual, the Donald and his cow-towing under-lords just didn't see the public reaction being as troubled and as deeply felt as it was. 

So, don't stop reacting just because a 'fake' E.O. was signed.  Watch the process; watch for more abuse; watch for long delays in re-uniting families; watch for detention that is nothing more than imprisonment.  Watch for what a tyrant uses to get his way and to derive more power over his government and his people.  Watch for those Republican representatives and what they will settle for and trade off in order to lick the boots of their authoritarian leader.  And finally, you might want to peruse my postings on the points that characterize authoritarian leaders -- take a look at: 11/16 and 11/21/2015; 8/6 and 8/14/2017.

Trump is getting closer and closer to being a full-blown tyrant, and this debacle about zero tolerance on illegal immigration is a real clear demonstration of the path he is on. 


Monday, June 11, 2018

The Worst Is Yet-to-Come!

Mounting scandals.  Ethical misbehavior. Corruption. Nepotism rampant. Money being scattered around by companies for access and pay-to-play. People unqualified for local dogcatcher nominated (and often approved) to head large and complicated agencies of government.  Torture is OK.  Unwarranted Death of Palestinians, innocent Black men and school children is all OK.  Evangelical Trump supporters all-too-willing to overlook adultery, lying, the worship of mammon and harmful treatment of human beings in need.  The swamp grows and grows because there are those willing to live in that environment. 

Leaks, strange tweets, and lies abound as part of a chaotic approach to governing.   As do attacks on individuals, the media, the FBI and the CIA, and now our closest Allies. 

Add to that something called the “turkey farm.”  It is reported that career civil servants are being assigned to that farm.  That is, they are being removed from meaningful jobs and placed in jobs that interns might do, in hopes that they will leave -- retire or just quit.  That’s right.  Not only is Trump isolating and diminishing the role of citizen advocacy councils, appeal boards and watchdogs, but he is now implementing one of the favorite moves of dictators – getting rid of civil service career people.  They know too much and want too much of that which Trump opposes. 

And then, there is the Budget.  Finally, perhaps, blue collar and misguided senior followers of this fascist-like leader, will begin to get their reward for supporting a man who ‘fakes’ his concern for his mainly right-wing “base voters.”  His true base is really the 1% of this country who are wealthy and powerful, not the nearly 40% of foolish followers who believe or pardon his lies (fact-checkers recently estimated that Trump tells at least 20 whopping lies within one hour!). 

So, you asked for it, Trumpsters – no Medicare for you; no food stamps (SNAP) for you; no Medicaid for you.  And here’s a sobering statistic: the people who most use government programs like the three just named are people in the working class and senior citizens who also mainly support this pretend President.  Just wait until you don’t qualify for Medicare, can’t get Medicaid from overburdened states, and your poor nutrition starts to require a better diet and more health care, not less.  YOU are going to be in a personal situation that has nothing but restriction, harm and hurt attached.  

Who will be able to help?  I guess you will find out rather quickly.  It is then you will recall who is benefiting from your difficulty – you will be left with the haunting truth -- those cuts in Medicare and Medicaid went toward funding the big tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, and left you abandoned.

Remember, Trumpettes – you asked for this – it’s coming and sooner than you think.  Congress turned down a short-term Farm Bill recently, but you can still start waving good-by to your food cards (SNAP) because 80% of the funding in that bill is related to SNAP, which was not the issue around which the bill failed.  It will come back around.

So, let’s look again: cuts to food stamps that will affect many millions of people  over 10 years; cuts of $1.2 billion to Medicare and over a trillion dollars taken from Medicaid (over a decade) to fund a tax break for the richest among us; 35 million people left without any health care coverage;  plus an attack upon Social Security still pending.  And, there’s more coming.

You thought you bought a Champion for your concerns and needs.  What you got is a Chumpion who is despised around the Globe (and particularly by the G-7) and who is slowly, but surely, diminishing the unique position of our representative democracy in the world.  But mostly, you got an advocate for the rich and powerful, who will not ever support YOU against the (less than) 1% who already control and manipulate your lives and are acting right now – this moment – to change our whole economy to a robot-based efficiency that will make your job vulnerable to elimination, along with millions more.

The economy is great, you say.  Trump is already benefitting you by what’s happening in the stock market, and by his (miniscule) temporary tax cuts for the middle class, and some cheaper prices at stores and food markets, you say.  Oh Wow!  Tell that to the potato farmers in Idaho, former autol workers in Tennessee or the former employees of closed department stores (like Sears and J.C. Penney); ask those who can’t get loans or mortgages and have to depend on rentals.  Ask some of those farmers who are waiting for subsidies they may never see again.
Ask yourself – what happens if all those countries start retaliating against us with higher tariffs, cuts in certain items being shipped and boycotts of certain goods?  You start paying higher prices for food, clothing, shelter and everyday necessities. China alone could make your shopping a nightmare – just look at the labels on things you now buy.  If they say “made in China,” you could be seeing price increases for many of those items next time you shop!

And BTW, how’s your pension shaping up?  Don’t have one from your company or Union; or has it been reduced to a pittance?  Just how is a rich man’s economy going to get you through your retirement years?  Not only are you the recipient of attacks against the costs of American Labor, including the loss of private pension support and protection, you are the target of attacks of this regime against Social Security and Medicare. 

So, tell us please – how is your retirement shaping up?  Probably a lot like the over 60% who simply do not have enough retirement funds to meet their needs for 10-20 years beyond retirement. Attention! -- Seniors looking to retire – look around you.  Why are so many people in their 60’s and 70’s working at menial jobs in variety stores, fast food emporiums and other service jobs either part-time or full-time?  You may soon  find out for yourself if you don’t have enough set aside to cover your retirement needs.

And, maybe you haven’t heard, but drug prices and healthcare costs are going to eat you up if you or any one of your dependents become quite ill or develops a chronic condition.  Here’s how it really is. 

Say, your teenager develops cancer.  The usual treatments will cost you a large sum in co-pays and out-of-pocket costs; your insurance premiums will undoubtedly escalate, and then there are those costs that are uncovered by insurance companies.  With the attacks upon Obamacare and Medicaid also comes the fact that government subsidies are not available.  Oh! – and now there is talk of returning to the times when insurance companies will be able to  withhold coverage – or increase their costs – for pre-existing conditions and conditions that cost them a lot in payable benefits, so they cap the coverage.

And, don’t forget, if you have to pay for some treatments that are extra special, or experimental, or too new for insurance company attention, well let’s just say that to save a child’s life may cost you the equivalent of the rest of your life.  $50,000-$100,000-a-month is not unusual for such treatments.  For those who say this is a rarity, you may want to know that childhood cancers of extreme proportions are on the rise!

  • What else might you want to consider while the cyclical stock market and employment rate look so good to you?  Well, there is:

  •  that pesky problem of the national debt which will increase by tens of trillions of dollars because Trump, as usual, hasn’t planned for how to off-set those huge increases in your tax money flowing into the coffers of the rich and powerful.  Funny isn’t it that Republicans could find it so important to talk about during the Obama administration but seem now to have brushed aside the effects of their additions to the deficit and our national debt? 
  •  that problem of trade deficits and trade wars because of new tariffs: never mind the fact that our massive trading partners like Canada and the rest of our European allies are being alienated by He-who-would-be-King Trump.  They will push back….
  • that kingly complex seems to extend to more than just our best trade partners;  after all there is something called a global economy.  We don’t exist in a vacuum, and if Trump persists in his misadventures with other nations (particularly in Asia and the Middle East) we will be faced with a war economy that will limit everyone (except the monied few who will benefit from such a horrendous event). 
  •  and what is this policy of withdrawing from agreements like the Paris Accords and the G-7 conclusion, thus alienating and threatening not only the good-will of allied countries, but destroying partnerships, coalitions, and associations that are critical to world order?  Is he preparing this nation to accept a world disorder that includes Russia and countries with dictators?  Are you aware of what will happen to you and your family if there are no allies of strength and common values to work with us in times of world crisis, such as war, or humanitarian crises?  
  • and BTW – your support of Trump may become equivalent to supporting someone who gives “aid and comfort to our enemies” (Constitution’s definition of Treason); that makes you a co-conspirator (possibly a “traitor”), and how will that play in your hometown?
  • perhaps we should also stress what few will tell you:  we are on course to a future that is much different from the present, and it is impinging on us in the present.  I have written about it before, so check out my most recent Blog posting in May, because not preparing for a technological, robotic, and jobless future is a disaster in-the-making, and Trump doesn’t believe in preparation.
The question is: will you be better off when:
·        harmful and hurtful Trump budgets begin to take effect?
·        tax cuts for the rich have to be paid and you have to sacrifice to pay them?
·        alienation of many nations rebounds to raise our prices on imported goods?
·        the lack of adequate healthcare puts ordinary folks like you and me into bankruptcy?
·        you lose your children (our children) to unnecessary and illegitimate violence or wars?
·        You have to face cut-backs in food, clothing and every necessity to pay for the military might needed to defeat the enemy on multiple fronts (and no great coalition like NATO comes to our side to help)?
·        you can’t afford a house, a first or second car, your child’s healthcare, college education or your mother’s (or father’s) long-term care?
·        the list goes on forever, and the consequences will be felt most severely by those who follow without questioning or preparation!

It is indeed a travesty of our democratic system that this president practices policies and attitudes that harm, even abuse, children. How else can we interpret the treatment of immigrant children being separated from their parents and then detained in facilities from which legislators and press are barred?   Is this any different from a presidential budget that cuts or zeros out necessary programs for families by which tens of millions of vulnerable children are left without health care, housing, nutritional meals, public education, activities after-school, assistance for college attendance, or protection from physical and mental abuse?  See my Blog posting of 10/10/2017 and decide for yourself if Donald J. Trump  fits the definition of a child abuser!  And then, look around – is there a child with whom you are acquainted who is being harmed or hurt (abused) by Trump policies?  That child could be your child… and, what affects one will eventually affect all! 

The worst president in our history (according to many) is about to hand you consequences and problems that could devastate you and your family (as well as millions of other families).  And yet, because the stock market is up and unemployment down, you think you are living in Roseland?  Talk about being BAMBOOZLED! 

The consequences of a King Donald regime will show its real effects in your near future!   So, Trump-supporters – just keep on supporting this pretend president, and you will face the consequences just like the rest of us!  Don’t be fooled by this up-turn cycle in our economy (probably generated by Obama’s policies and actions, not just Trump's ascent to the oval office). 

The worst is yet to come, and your view of it will be from under a bus somewhere compliments of King Donald the Trump.