Musings from George


On the Anniversary of a Bad Decision
November 7, 2017, 8:02 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Great article in the NYT by Michelle Goldberg captures my emotions this month. A year ago I was surprised by, and distressed by, #DopeyDonald’s election. As we note the passing of a year and the unprecedented chaos that is the man’s administration, it is critically important that we not go silently into the night accepting his travesties as the new normal. Michelle summarizes it well — a narcissistic megalomaniac who declares that he is the new king (who needs the State Department? bring me crooked Hillary’s head!) shouts schoolyard taunts at nuclear-armed foes.

Ignorant, incurious, oblivious to social norm and established law. #DraftDodgerDonny is as excited to be the leader of the most powerful military as we was to drive a fire truck and to pretend to be a long-haul trucker. A man who detests getting his hands dirty toys with the hopes and dreams of coal miners; a man-child who has abused immigrant laborers his entire life upends the hopes and dreams of people brought to this country illegally years ago as children.

#DisgracefulDonny is a travesty, and we cannot just sit idly by and watch the EPA being dismantled (allowing toxic waste to be dumped into streams by coal mining operations is a crime against humanity; approving known toxins for use in agriculture is unthinkable). We cannot watch attempts to dismantle health care for 20 million people, nor can we accept a new tax package that awards 20% of the benefit to 0.1% of the people (yes, the estate tax will *really* benefit about 5,000 people including a number of Trumps).

So, what can we do? We can continue to protest, out loud and in our own hearts. We can get involved with the organizations that are fighting back. SwingLeft.org is working to organize voter registration drives and get-out-the-vote efforts in those districts where a Democrat might be able to win back a seat held by Republicans — enter your zip code and figure out where you can help. https://www.indivisible.org/ has a game plan that mirrors the Tea Party, calling for many local actions targeting elected officials — if they actually have to hear about your anger and pain, they just might change the way they vote. You can donate time or money to help a local politician, and the most important thing you can do is to ensure that every person who has been aggrieved by #TakerTrump votes in the mid-term election. If every woman who has ever been assaulted votes, if every woman who lost insurance coverage for her contraception votes, if every black- and brown-skinned man who has ever been stopped by a Joe Arpaio-like sheriff votes, we will see a better result. If they all stay home, Trump has won.

My question for all — if you had $1,000 and you could spend forty hours helping some political cause, what would it be? Help me figure out how to spend my time and my money to achieve the greatest results in the coming year to ensure that we return to some sense of normalcy in Washington DC.

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I just had to re-post this – Trump contrasted with Obama
November 2, 2017, 9:20 pm
Filed under: Politics

From the New York Times by  just now:

American manhood is reshaping itself in two opposing directions, and both archetypes are ones we’ve never seen before. If Barack Obama embodied the new ideal of the progressive man — a hands-on dad and a self-identified feminist married to a high-achieving woman who was once his boss, who is also well mannered and protective of his family — then Mr. Trump is his antithesis, an old-school chauvinist embracing a new code of adolescent anarchy. He is a paradigm of feckless male entitlement, embracing male power while abnegating the traditional masculine requirements of chivalry, courtesy and responsibility.

I CHOOSE OBAMA (and how cool is that use of abnegate!?)



Immigration, moral authority, and the military
November 1, 2017, 9:04 am
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Politics

For anyone who has spent time in a nursing home, or has cared for an aging parent, this article about foreign-born caregivers will bring tears to your eyes. The nurses in Saudi Arabia were all Filipino when I was there (yes, in Riyadh) and the caregivers in my mother’s nursing home were all born elsewhere. The love of family and the religious faith that is common in these cultures is much needed today in our country at war with itself.

As #TraitorTrump swirls down the toilet, it is disturbing to see General Kelly not only defending #DodgerDonny, #GroperInChief, but amplifying the little man’s worst instincts. Belittling a woman for criticizing #DodgerDonny’s insensitive comments to a Gold Star widow is no more attractive coming from a four-star general than it was from an odd little orange-hued man. The great respect that the general has earned is squandered when he takes up politics — he is no better than the viewpoints he projects. When a general says that the right level of immigration is between zero and one each year, he insults the many immigrants in our armed forces and he insults our history. When he likens the bloodiest, most divisive period in American history to a “misunderstanding”, he insults the memory of US forces that defeated the Confederacy and ignores the travesty of slavery that the south (and the Confederacy) were built upon. Treating people like cattle was never okay, and “compromise” after “compromise” (see Missouri Compromise if you really are that ignorant #RacistTrump, #IncuriousPOTUS) just kicked the can down the road. Kelly’s observation that Lee chose his state (Virginia) over the United States of America is exactly the problem he ignores — Lee was a great man, AND he was a traitor. Traitors don’t get statues, sorry.

This presidency is slowly gas-lighting all of us, with #DodgerDonny always pointing to a distraction (“Uranium One!” “Clinton Foundation!”) to keep us from seeing the corrosion and treason that underpins his family and his administration. Traitors, tax cheats, and liars … oh my! We can only hope that Papadopoulos was wearing a wire, which would be a  true comeuppance for #LyinDonny who keeps claiming to have evidence that he remembered La David’s name. It stands to reason that #DaftDonny would stumble on that name, since he probably doesn’t have many friends named La David.

Kelly stumbles and reveals his true inner feelings about immigrants and racists (“good guys on the other side” … where have we heard that before? Oh yeah, #NaziDonny). There goes the argument that the #AdultDayCare is actually run by a serious patriot — it’s just an echo chamber of incurious racists, slowly tearing down the functions of government run by those who hate government. It will be a long four years if Mueller doesn’t find something good soon.



Reaching across the aisle, but the aisle is too wide
October 23, 2017, 11:21 am
Filed under: Politics

We had a civil conversation with Republican friends over dinner about the challenge of discussing politics in the current climate of tribalism. Last week was remarkable for a couple of things — a draft-dodger President asking his big strong general to go face the bullies, and making a liar out of him in the process (aside, it is notable that neither #DodgerDonald nor Kelly speaks the name of this Gold Star hero), and a number of prominent heroes denounced Trump’s actions (another aside, denouncing his actions — not the size of his hands or his bizarre orange skin).

We all agreed that the hard part of any discussion is listening to statements we disagree with, which we believe are provably false. When one side declaims anything they don’t want to hear as “Fake News”, it is very hard to see any way to have an informed discussion. An informed electorate is the backbone of representative democracy, so we are essentially ceding our governance to allow our leader to say anything and do anything without consequences (and yes, that defines his life. Lost a billion dollars, and borrowed more; cheated wives and small businesses, and never looked back. Lies repeatedly, but pays hush money whenever he is caught in a bad one).

I was encouraged to hear that they too recognize that #DisasterDonald has made some mis-steps, and that he is divisive. I was stunned to hear that they feel he has done a lot better the last six months, but knew better than to ask for examples (when pulling out of a pact to improve the environment is an accomplishment, you are at Alice’s Tea Party and the only thing you can do is stop drinking). When I said that I was personally disturbed by the egregious lies #LyinDonny tells, the response was a dismissive “you only read the Times?” That was to me a summary of what is wrong with the divide. Those who want to see #DopeyDonald as an outsider taking a wrecking ball to the Establishment are willing to blame the chaos on the establishment, not on the leader of the free world. Trump defenders blame congress for not passing legislation — but here’s a news flash, in *real* governments the president writes the legislation and sells it to anyone in congress who might vote for it (see Hillary’s failed effort, and Obama’s successful work to pass universal health care). Trump has not written anything, and has forced his party to vote on bills they have not read knowing they contain toxic waste (McCain refused to vote for one because no one could promise him it would not become law). Trump’s tax plan is a bullet list of non-specific suggestions, that they defend as being unable to be scored because they have not specified which deductions they will eliminate … which is such tortured logic that it should actually PREVENT a vote from being held.

Sorry, this started out as a short note that we have met the 30% who are going to defend #DiaperedDonald, and nothing we say or he does is going to change their minds. The good news is that an energized electorate is paying more attention now than they have in years, and only good things can come from more civic involvement. If you are NOT outraged, you are not paying attention.

 



No respect for the rule of law, ignorant of history
September 14, 2017, 2:25 pm
Filed under: Politics, Uncategorized

Make it stop, please! Trump’s recent act to undermine the Constitution has to offend any conservative, and anyone who mentions the second amendment when explaining their political beliefs should be quite concerned by #DumbDonald and his recent pardon of Joe Arpaio. No respect for the law becomes a dictatorship in the end.

What was Arpaio convicted of that necessitated this pardon? He and his team systematically violated the Constitutional rights of Hispanic citizens in his county. He instructed his officers to round up brown-skinned people on flimsy charges, and they put them in outdoor tents in the desert to punish them without a trial. Arpaio’s actions resemble the round-up of Japanese citizens during World War II, an awful stain on our history and one that Congress recognized as a travesty by Reagan (the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 granted reparations and apologies to those citizens). #RacistDonald is an insult to what the Republican party once stood for — egalitarian opportunity for all to succeed, regardless of their background or ethnicity (founded to oppose the expansion of slavery to new states).

One of our nation’s great strengths is our willingness to debate an issue openly and honestly, and to tolerate differences of opinion that may reflect huge chasms. Reading “A Hillbilly Elegy” AND “Strangers in Their Own Land” was my penance for misreading popular sentiment in the last election so badly, and it was both useful and instructive. A recent opinion piece in the NYT titled I Voted For Trump.  And I Sorely Regret It by Julius Krein was also instructive, because he rather eloquently explains his decision to support Trump based on his merits during the campaign, a voice I chose not to listen to nor hear during the election.

With each assault on decency, democracy, and reason, Trump erodes the nation’s social fabric. #NaziTrump’s defense of the mob chanting “Jews will not replace us” as they gave the Nazi salute marching in front of a synagogue should give every American pause. It is comforting that the total population of neo-Nazis is estimated at 2,200 people, but it is greatly disturbing that our President cannot condemn them categorically. These people celebrate the legacy of a regime that led the world into the most destructive war in history, and these people should be denounced by every American. Without conditions, without excuses. Trump fails that simple test of decency and cultural awareness, and displays his own ignorance of history and nuance.

Last point, #DumbDonald calls the removal of Confederate statues an assault on history and on great Americans. He equates statues of Lee and Davis with those of Washington and Jefferson, because each held slaves. But #IncuriousDonald misses the distinction which is quite clear: Lee and Davis were traitors to their country, who waged war against the US in pursuit of liberty from the Constitution. Just as there are no statues of King George in Boston, nor of Hitler in Berlin, there is no space in the US for a statue of Jefferson Davis.

Robert E. Lee is a hugely respectable, honorable, skilled warrior who did many great things in his life. His legacy lives on at Arlington, his family estate that was confiscated and became our national burying ground. His history includes the honor of being offered the command of the Army of the Potomac when civil war broke out, which he declined because his first loyalty was to the state of Virginia. He was trapped in a Solomonic choice, and he did choose — he chose secession and became a traitor to the United States of America. He deserves to be studied, indeed revered — but no citizen of the United States should have to honor a statue to a traitor, certainly not those whose ancestors were subjugated by the very cause that Lee defended. When #LyingDonald equates traitors with our Founding Fathers, he displays the historical ignorance and inability to recognize subtlety that defines an ignorant person — and an incurious ignorant person is a repudiation of those who built America.

Trump’s recent decision to repeal DACA further reveals his inability to recognize nuance and subtlety, and his inconsistent approach to the law. If he believes Obama’s action was unconstitutional, how can Trump’s threat to do something by executive action in six months hold any credibility? If his attorney general has voiced his opinion that the president cannot do such things, how would Trump protect the Dreamers? He can’t, and won’t — he has just kicked the can down the road, and into Congress’s lap. Because it is a complicated issue, Trump just created another artificial deadline that benefits no one, with no solution to propose.

Behold, the child-king. By fiat, by Tweet, by bluster and by threat, he rules. He cannot author nor shepherd legislation, he can only tear up and rip up things built by others. Neither purposeful nor constructive, simply petty and destructive. We can only hope that Mueller makes it stop.



Newt’s fantasy article on Fox News
May 19, 2017, 10:19 am
Filed under: Politics, Random walk

Newt wrote another bit of fiction.

The country is divided as never before, but that’s where Newt’s analogy between Trump and  President Lincoln ends. Lincoln was self-made, well-educated, and articulate. Trump … not so much. Lincoln was fighting to unite the country, not to divide it. Trump … exactly the opposite. Lincoln was respected and hated, for the causes that he clearly championed and believed in (what does Trump believe in? that seems to change weekly). Trump is loved by those enamored of his declared causes (reversing illegal immigration, making trade fair for the US, bringing jobs back) but despised by a much greater number of Americans alarmed by his reckless and misguided attacks on the judiciary, the press, and the leaders of the opposition party. Trump has declared war, and now becries the siege. Those who were led into the bunker by Trump (“pay no heed to what they say, they are the enemy!” ; “I have the absolute right to do anything, if a President does it then it is not illegal”) are finally accepting the fact that they have been lied to repeatedly.

The better analogy for Trump is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who declared himself the ruler of a to-be-built grand caliphate. Promising law and order, he delivered Sharia law. Promising to defend religious values, he enslaved entire populations and institutionalized rape for his troops. As the number of enemies grew, and the number of warfronts increased, his bitter backers retreated back into their swamps to await defeat.

Trumpcare is a travesty, and the nation can only hope that the checks and balances created by our nation’s founders prevent the House’s proposal from becoming law. Trump’s assault on undocumented workers is indeed having the desired effect, accelerating what was already happening over the past ten years — net negative immigration. Banning immigration from entire countries, building bigger barriers on our borders, empowering a broad array of police to target anyone with brown skin will indeed reduce the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States. But it has also reduced tourism, and it has impacted our reputation as the best place in the world to get an education. Talented people around the world are staying home or choosing Canada as a destination. Americans facing a potential issue at the border when they return are not going to travel;  foreigners afraid of  being assaulted by our immigration officers and customs officials are going to pass on Disneyland, on Yosemite, and on Broadway.

Perhaps the easiest part of Newt’s essay to criticize is his selection of three statements by Trump to emphasize how reasonable his war on the press is. Independent analysis shows that Trump lies more than half the time, offering the perverse incentive to believe the opposite of what he says. The man given to “people say” attributions of known falsehoods wants the press to name names, the man who cites the Enquirer as the source of his facts wants to finger leakers, the man given to repeating conspiracy theories (yes, if you still believe that Obama is a Kenyan you can thank Trump for that; but it does seem to have played out that the Manchurian candidate actually has orange hair, not black skin). There is sweet irony in citing Trump’s statements as the basis for ANY conclusion.

None of us can know for sure where Mueller’s investigation will lead, but his well-known commitment to finding the truth and to stating facts is going to be a wonderful contrast with the current administration. And if Special Counsel Mueller decides that no crimes have been committed, no misdemeanors have been wrought, then both sides should stand down. Trump should cease his war on the press (as cited by Newt) and his attacks on the judiciary (as he was encouraged to do by Gorsuch); the Democrats should work to pass reasonable improvements to health care, immigration, and the tax system. Obama was prevented from fixing government over the past six years, but that doesn’t mean the right thing to do is to chain the country to the tracks for another two, four, or six years. Let’s work to govern this great country, rather than hobble it. Let’s debate ideas and proposals, rather than simply attacking anyone (or any party) with a good idea.

We are blessed to live in interesting times. I just wish we were talking about the wars we continue to wage in far-off lands (talking about how to end the violence), and the income disparity not just in the US but around the world (a small number of us possess a great share of the wealth). Rather than tearing up trade treaties and reversing environmental protections, no matter how imperfect they are, let’s work to propose better solutions and a cleaner future.



Wow. Just Wow
February 17, 2017, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

TRUMP: Well the leaks are real. You’re the one that wrote about them and reported them, I mean the leaks are real. You know what they said, you saw it and the leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake because so much of the news is fake. So one thing that I felt it was very important to do — and I hope we can correct it. Because there’s nobody I have more respect for — well, maybe a little bit but the reporters, good reporters.

Wow. My head exploded tonight as I listened to the video of Trump’s press conference, and read the transcript. Trump, the champion of Russian leaks, feels that real facts that are leaked are not news. The man elected by Wikileaks defends their leaks, while whining about the real facts leaked by … wait for it … people who work for him.

Trump received questions before the debate when he was gifted by Comey and Wikileaks with Podesta’s emails. Yes, that is an equivalence. Flynn was hoisted by his own petard ONLY because he lied to Pence — Trump was perfectly happy to have Flynn commit treason, and to act outside of the government. The only reason Flynn was fired was because Trump saw him as a liability.

Trump, you cannot have it both ways. RELEASE YOUR TAX RETURNS, and recognize that Flynn’s transgression is worse than anything that Hillary did. Slap yourself — you are WORSE than Hillary, worse than Pedesta. You are a train wreck tragedy of a preening buffoon. Resign before they can impeach you.