Musings from George


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.

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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.



WTF? Trump has no connection with reality
February 17, 2017, 10:03 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Politics, Uncategorized

TRUMP: “I mean, they fill up our alleys with people that you wonder how they get there, but they are not the Republican people our that representatives are representing.”

Is this supposed to be the president of the United States, representing all Americans, or is this the man trying to satisfy the minority of the voters that chose him over Hillary? As he rants about his electoral win (fact: smaller than either of Obama’s), he just keeps proving his disconnect from reality.

He repeals (through executive order) lots of hard work by others who have come before. He creates Chaos, and then decries the chaos. He has done NOTHING positive or proactively for the United States. He apologizes for Russian transgression, dances around Flynn’s crimes, and grandstands about leaks. He begs Russia to leak Hillary’s email, but he cries “treason” when his own actions are revealed in public.

It’s not fake news. It’s a fake President. If our elected leader cannot accept provable facts, why do we endure this clown? Why does he think his golden showers, or his angry phone calls with Mexico and Australia, are going to remain confidential.

Here’s a clue: DON’T LIE if you will be embarrassed by the truth when it is revealed.You are a duplicitous, two-faced liar and history will record (and we will enjoy) your disastrously short stint as a minority-elected leader. You are a loser. You are FIRED.



My head exploded again
February 3, 2017, 12:41 am
Filed under: Nonprofit, Politics, Volunteering

As I listen to the “press secretary” tell us that Trump is simply implementing Obama’s decisions and policies, I have to object.

Somehow Trump’s entire platform is about *cancelling* Obama’s actions and orders, yet he uses the odd attribution that he is banning immigration from countries identified by Obama as sponsoring terrorism. So … why does Trump care what Obama said or did in this matter, if he completely disregards what Obama thought about health care or about Merrick Garland? Totally Orwellian.

We listen to Trump’s staff dismissing the “weak” efforts made by Obama to enforce border control, yet they announce restrictions that do not affect the real perpetrators of violence. NEVER has an immigrant from those seven countries committed an act of aggression in the US; somehow the immigrants who did (Saudi Arabia, Pakistan) are still flowing in. HYPOCRISY never smelled as bad as it does with @DopeyDonald

Trump lives in an alternate reality, supported by his alternate facts. We need to recognize that our President is a predator, a narcissist, and a bankrupt fraud. THEN we can react to his rants, Tweets, and self-dealing. The obvious answer is lawsuits and prosecution. Where do we sign up to make that happen?

George



Irony
February 2, 2017, 1:18 am
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Politics

My ears hurt each time I hear the Trump minions cite Obama’s decision to label some countries as sponsors of terrorism as the reason to oppress them.

We all knew Nazi Germany was bad, but we didn’t cite that as the reason we should not accept refugees from the countries that Nazi Germany invaded. That stain on our national history persists, and Trump is doubling down on it (and borrowing the clarion call that resonated then — let the poor b**tards burn, we are looking out for our own!)

Trump has been manipulated again by Bannon, who despises Jews and Muslims. As long as our President lets Bannon man the bully pulpit, we will get policies that many Americans abhor. We lost the electoral college, but … “have you no decency, sir?”

My call: we need three rational Republican Senators to defeat DeVos — are there three rational Republicans left in the nasty stew of Bannon and the Tea Party? We’ll know soon.

George



1984 – Pence / anyone in 2017!
January 28, 2017, 10:17 am
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Nonprofit, Politics

From the NYT today (yes, I do):

For Ms. Goodwin, Mr. Trump’s week of reality distortions brought to mind Lincoln’s address to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Ill., on Jan. 27, 1838, where he made an appeal to Enlightenment values as the best antidote to what he called the “mobocratic spirit.” “Reason — cold, calculating, unimpassioned reason — must furnish all the materials for our future support and defense,” he said.

“He was worrying about authoritarian behavior,” Ms. Goodwin said.

Many of us who precede the web thought that equal access to information would drive more intelligent conversations. We fell for the appealing illusion that everyone wanted to be better educated, and that an educated citizenry would be an enlightened citizenry. We felt sorry for those poor ignorant citizens repressed by rulers and fed a state-sponsored version of the truth. Citizens of the USSR didn’t know they were poor, aging alcoholics; North Koreans didn’t know they were starving. We though that the truth would make them free.

The joke’s on us. Trump has enlisted support (even begged for it on the air) from the Russian government to expose other’s truths, while refusing to reveal his own. His promise to release his tax returns if he got the nomination turned out to be as worthless as shares in his casino empire. His gag orders in settled law suits outnumber his properties, and his conflicts of interest radiate to many countries (notably, he has no business interests in the countries from which he banned immigrants; notable as well is that none of those countries were involved in 9/11, and the countries that *were* are not on the list).

So, what to do? Bloomberg suggests that residents of five states could make a huge difference by letting their Senators know that they need the health care delivered by ACA

Five Senators are willing to break with Trump on ACA. We need to contact all of them, and donate to all of them.

Bob Corker of Tennessee, 
Rob Portman of Ohio, 
Susan Collins of Maine, 
Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and 
Lisa Murkowski of Alaska 
Trump’s executive order denying funds for any organization that provides health care is equally disturbing. The best way to counter this is to donate to those very organizations. Here are a few that will be affected, give if you can “in memory of” Trump:
National Public Radio (and find your local affiliate and give there)
Doctors Without Borders (because they are where the bombs are falling)
While the rallies last weekend were reassuring, we woke up to #DopeyDonald and his flurry of ill-planned executive actions.
Last, we *must* support those who deserve justice for Trump’s past sexual misdeeds. The precedent was set by the Senate when they prosecuted Clinton. My outreach to Gloria Allred failed — if someone can convince her office to run a GoFundMe account to enable every woman who was (and will be) mistreated by Trump to seek justice, many of us would like to do our part. We don’t need Peter Thiel if we get enough well-intentioned people to act — Gawker was less offensive than Trump is and will be.

Former ‘Apprentice‘ contestant Summer Zervos filed a defamation suit in NYC Tuesday, claiming Trump defamed her when he publicly called her a liar, claimed the assault never happened and referred to her allegation as “totally made up nonsense.”

In the docs, obtained by TMZ, she also calls him out as a “sexual predator.”

The suit goes on to claim Trump used his platform as a presidential candidate to denigrate and verbally attack Zervos and other accusers.

She’s asking for a retraction and/or an apology, plus damages.

Zervos and her attorney, Gloria Allred, announced the lawsuit with a news conference … where she reiterated her claim Trump sexually assaulted her during a 2007 business meeting.



I just can’t keep quiet – Trump is a buffoon
January 21, 2017, 12:42 am
Filed under: Politics, Uncategorized

Others are more poetic, others are better spoken. But I feel the need to try to capture my emotional state right now, with Donald Trump’s ascendancy.

I fully understand that Hillary Clinton lost, and I understand why. She has none of Obama’s charisma, and is dragging a semitrailer full of baggage from her three decades of public service followed by eight years at the feeding trough of celebrity (huge speaker fees and the Clinton Foundation = wow, you are so 1 percent).

But today, a uniquely unqualified man ascended to the most powerful position in the world. Donald J Trump, of  #DaffyDonald / #DeceitfulDonald / #DodgerDonald (something is going to stick) is now our President.

Canada gets a good-looking, young, athletic political scion. We get a sclerotic, weirdly orange-hued misogynist who supposedly would have kept his second and third wives (yes, they were from countries with Islamic troubles) from coming to America. I can overlook the sex tapes of Melania in eastern Europe (we have all had bad jobs), and I can overlook the gag order that Trump forced on Invanka. But … not publishing your income taxes, and not even pretending to comply with guidelines from the ethics office? Really? How absurd is that.

So, I’ll go Trump. His wife worked in the US without a work visa (breaking the law) — she should be deported (no amnesty, right?). Many of his employees are illegal immigrants, and we should enforce the legal penalties  … (wait for it) … against the EMPLOYER. Trump and Mar-el-Lago should be sued by the INS. Tax evasion is a crime, and there’s a reason Trump has been audited every year since 1995 … he is a crook, and he took tax deductions for others’ losses (he should have to repay). Let’s drag his lies out into the light. Bill Clinton was impeached over less than truthful statements he gave in depositions about his sexual wanderings — let’s multiply by twelve and invite #GropyDonald and #GrabPussyDonald to the party. Maybe we can “speed-date” with the ten plus women who have accused him of impropriety, and they can split Gloria Allred’s legal fees (contingent, of course).

And last, let’s explain the difference between conflict of interest (which the constitution says cannot exist for a president) and THE APPEARANCE of a conflict of interest, which #LittleFistDonald appears not to recognize. 2017 lawsuits may have to stick to emoluments, but voters are very attuned to APPEARANCE. That explains #DopeyDonald’s cratered approval ratings right now. #DinosaurArmsDonald can’t reach the check, so we just have to sit and watch him wave his paws.

We have insisted on much higher standards of performance and behavior from our past public servants (notably John Kerry and Hillary Clinton), and it is time for the current powers-that-be (all Republican) to hold their own party to the SAME STANDARDS they insisted on for the last eight years. Make #theDonald share his tax returns before you vote for a single motion that he proposes. Else, you own it suckers.

Yes, we expect more. See you in 2020 either way!