Sunday, August 26, 2018

Examples of Strength and Weakness


John McCain has died. He was the last of his breed. Brave, honorable, outspoken, unbiased about his friends. Although I often didn't agree with him politically, I admired him immensely. I don't have to agree with my leaders to honor them. All I expect from my political representatives is integrity. It is in short supply these days.

Most of the vicious criticism of John McCain I've heard has come from conservative Republicans. They've called him a traitor and a collaborator, despite being tortured in Vietnam for five years. He could have left because he was the son of an admiral but he refused to go without his men. He suffered beatings, broken bones, starvation, isolation. But, yet, the right wing can find no mercy in their hearts even in his death. A few weeks ago, Trump refused to say his name though the Defense Bill he was signing was named for McCain. What a petty, weak little man your president is compared to McCain.

When did the Republicans get so mean? They didn't used to be decades ago. They were just a slightly different version of us - a little more hawkish, a little more frugal, but we cared about the same things. Nixon signed the EPA into law. George the Elder signed the Americans With Disabilities Act. Both the Bushes were pro immigration reform. Reagan signed a gun control bill. We all cared about American children getting a good start in life and having enough to eat. We all wanted our representatives to set aside politics and work together to solve the county's problems.

These were the Republicans I knew when I was young.

And then they changed. They became the party of winning at all costs. They became the party of the smear. They became the party that put politics ahead of patriotism. They impeached Bill Clinton because "character counts" but their behavior of today proves that was a hypocrite's lie. They swift-boated John Kerry, a man who spent his life serving his country. It was sad and ugly to watch. They have always had a scorched earth policy toward Hillary, accusing her of the most lunatic conspiracy theories, from being responsible for myriad murders to being a lesbian to operating a children porn ring in a pizza parlor to embezzling million of dollars through the Clinton Foundation, a social service charity with an A rating. The viciousness of the way they treated the Obamas was despicable - Obama as a witch doctor, Michelle as a bull dog. Michelle accused of being a transvestite. Obama was accused of being a non-American Muslim (and, of course, these malicious theories were helped along by the self-righteous Mr Trump).

The Republicans have become the party of not giving a damn if babies are taken from their mothers and locked up in cages. They are the party of giving gigantic tax breaks to the rich while defunding programs for the poor (although they totally disregard the deficit these days. They are the party of white nationalists and Nazis and wanting to pitch anyone who isn't white out of "their" country. They are the party of calling teens who are devastated by a school shooting, skinhead lesbians and professional actors and no-nothing children. They are the party of censorship wanting The View taken off the air because it offends them.

And, my goodness, it doesn't take much to offend them. Obama wearing a tan suit and Michelle wearing a sleeveless dress is like a knife through their self-pitying hearts. They are professional victims. Even their Christian base, supposedly the religion of peace and kindness and Jesus, has turned cruel. Instead of 40 pieces of silver, they sold their souls for a couple of Supreme Court justices.

If meanness is weakness, the right wing is one of the weakest groups of people we've ever had in America.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Of Such Things Are Dictatorships Created


Here's what I don't understand about rabid Trump supporters - they have done a 180 on their views about government and politics since Trump took over from Obama. It's as if they are not even the same people they were before the election.

Honestly, you can go back and read my blogs for years and except for some minor changes of mind, my views have remained the same - from Kennedy on - no matter who was in the White House. I hated the Vietnam War and I hated the Iraq War. I've been on the side of civil liberties, whether for minorities, women or gays. I've been pro-choice since I was a teenager and its anti-women stance on so many issues is the main reason I left the Catholic Church long ago. I lean toward helping the vulnerable and I never minded paying taxes to do it. I think government needs to be regulated because when it's not, the power people have all the power and working people and the poor get screwed, i.e. Betsy DeVos' yacht which she sails under the flag of a foreign country to avoid American taxes even as she makes it more difficult for lower and middle-class American kids to receive a genuine college education without an intolerable burden of debt. Yes, I'm for conferring citizenship on DACA kids and people who have lived here for a long time, worked hard and have no criminal background, especially those who joined the military to fight for their country. Trump believes not standing for the national anthem is a dishonor to our vets. I say kicking out vets who've served is a dishonor to our country. The environment has always been one of my issues. Now Trump is considering allowing states to make their own rules about coal emissions, as if pollutants respect state lines. Keep that coal dust and pollution in West Virginia, please! The Trump administration's entire attitude is: "fuck science".

I have friends with whom I debate politics and I've been stunned by their ability to turn on a dime. They would have been horrified (at least, faux-horrified) if Obama and done and said the things Trump has done and said.

Now, they believe, in fact, that the president (this particular president at least), is above the law. He can deny clearances without the due process that is in place for that procedure. He can fire any investigator investigating him. He is incapable of obstructing justice. He cannot be indicted. He can pardon anyone without explanation. He can issue executive orders, some against the express wishes of Congress. Would the right have agreed with all these stances when Obama was president? Hell, no, they wouldn't! Trump thinks Omarosa should be arrested though he cannot articulate a crime she committed. He can express his opinion about any court proceeding without regard to how it might affect the outcome. He can call the press the "enemy of the people". He can engage in trying to effect the profit and loss of private business (such as threatening to raise postal rates on Amazon because Jeff Bezos also owns the Washington Post, which has been critical of him. The right no longer believe the deficit is a problem. Spend away, Trump! They evidently no longer believe in "limited government" the way they used to say they did either. Being pro-states right is a thing of the past for them. Trump and Trump alone shall decide if coastal drilling should be allowed off all our coastlines (except Florida, of course).

That's if how Trump rolls. All decisions are his. His advisors are just so many puppets whom he ignores if their advice doesn't suit him. Trump against our entire intelligence community. Why we must believe Trump, naturally.

He has undermined every institution of our democracy - the FBI, the CIA, the entire Justice system, all our intelligence specialists, the EPA, the Center for Disease control, our entire environmental system, the free press, even the military although they don't seem to recognize it. One by one, the people we used to trust most are toppling. The Trump cult seems to hate America, except for Trump himself. They are convinced the Deep State is trying to take him down when, actually, he is trying to take our democratic government down. They say he will make America great again but they never say when that wonderful time was when America was great and when it quit being great.

Most of their attitudes revolve around hate - hate for minorities (which is what primarily dominates their views on immigration), hate for liberals, even moderates. You must be in ALL THE WAY! You must parrot every word Trump says or you are unworthy to be an American in their eyes.

Of such stuff are dictatorships made. Trump is overseeing the dismantling of our way of life and governance. Is hatred of the "other" enough excuse to give away your country?

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Climate Change Is NOT a Hoax!


In 1970, Richard Nixon signed the Clean Air Act – that was back when even Republicans were environmentalists. In 1970, we also celebrated the first Earth Day. I remember how serious people took Earth Day then.

In 1962, Rachel Carson published Silent Spring and that book served as a kind of catalyst in waking people up to both the preciousness and the precariousness of our earth if we didn’t begin to take better care of it. Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, urban dwellers and rural folks, labor and management. After all, we were all dependent on the health of our planet. By the end of that year, the first Earth Day had led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage if the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts.

I would never have believed back then, when we were so committed, that by Earth Day, 2017, a large part of America would have turned against science, mocking the findings of our scientific researchers as “fake news”. I could not have conceived in 1970 that my country would have elected a government determined to undo all the good we’ve done since 1970.

How and why did this happen? We had great successes. Rivers no longer caught on fire. Forests were no longer dying of acid rain. “Smog days” no longer kept children and the elderly from going outside. We banned DDT and the endangered American Eagle began to flourish again. Our vehicles are 99 percent cleaner than they were in 1970. We cut chlorofluorocarbon emissions and the ozone layer is beginning to heal itself.

Now, our government is slashing EPA funding and staff. They are making the country safe for energy companies to drill, frack and mine with impunity. They rescinded the regulation forbidding coal and oil companies to deposit their waste in our waterways. They decided it is fine and dandy to gas wolves in their dens and bears while they are hibernating. They are likely to do away with the Endangered Species act. They would like to open most of our federal lands and even our national parks to privatization for the enrichment of wealthy corporations.

The Trump administration pooh-poohs climate change though 90 percent plus of all the world’s scientists agree it is happening. After 8 long years of working, the world joined together to negotiate the Paris Agreement,  This is an agreement within the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change dealing with greenhouse gases emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020. The language of the agreement was negotiated by representatives of 195 countries adopted by consensus on 12 December 2015.  It was opened for signatures on Earth Day, April 22, 2016.  The agreement went into effect on November 4, 2016.

Now, our country, which has always been a leader in helping solve the intractable problems that plague our planet, is considering whether to pull out of the Paris Agreement and letting the rest of the world go ahead without us. And China, which has been chomping at the bit to become the world’s leading nation, is primed to take our place as the mover and shaker on climate change.

On Earth Day 2017, the world held Protests for Science but it looks as though America is going to passively accept the damage that will be done in the next four (or God forbid, eight) years. And the environment isn’t something on which you can suddenly reverse course if your change your mind. We can change policies on the economy, immigration, education. Even wars end eventually but the environment is forever once it reaches a certain point.

By 2018, the Western U.S., especially California, is burning. That state is  currently experiencing its largest wildfire ever. Half the world is suffering from drought and the highest temperatures since we’ve been keeping records. Hurricanes are becoming ever more vicious. Flooding is taking a huge toll across America.

We all depend on the earth to survive but if we don’t protect the earth, it won’t be able to protect us.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Your President is a Pathological Liar, Don't You Care?


Fact Checking Trump

Another rally, another bunch of lies about everything from the economy to the 2016 election to the Mueller investigation. Trump even repeats his lies when he surely knows they are wrong. For instance, when he says that no Republican presidential candidate won Wisconsin since Dwight Eisenhower when actually Wisconsin voted for or Nixon three times and Ronald Reagan twice.  These are provable facts and if Trump misspoke accidentally the first time, he certainly knew the truth after that.

Trump lied about the size of his Inaugural crowd and he even lied about the weather on that day! He lies about how more women voted for him than Hillary. Actually 54 percent of women voters voted for Hillary to 41 percent for Trump.

He lies non-stop about the economy, claiming that he faced a disastrous economy and supervised a monumental 'turn-around". Nope, sorry, Trump. America is in its 10th year of recovery. It was Obama who faced the worst recession since the Great Depression and turned it around, halving the unemployment rate and more than doubling the stock market in his eight years in office.

He says the last quarter growth of 4.1 percent was the best in decades but Obama  surpassed it four times, once coming in at over five percent.

He lied about the "special money losing" deal Amazon supposedly gets from the Post Office. In truth federal regulators review this contract each year and have concluded it is profitable for the post office. What Trump really doesn't like is that Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon, also owns the Washington Post that has often been critical of Donald.

He says his meetings with Kim Jung Un and Vladimir Putin were huge successes. He said we don't have to worry about North Korea any more but in fact, recent satellite imagery has shown that North Korea is still expanding its nuclear capability. We don't know about Trump and Putin because we (including his own advisors) have no clue what they agreed to in their private meeting.

He lies about the free press, calling it "fake news" and "the enemy of the people". In Tampa, his fanatical followers booed and cursed and all but attacked Jim Acosta of CNN in a deplorable exhibition of viciousness. I wonder how long it will be before the Trump mob actually hurts someone?

He lies about federal law enforcement, Due Process being the lifeblood of our system, he claims life-long soldiers and public servants are Nazis and traitors and betrayers. He used to call Mueller's investigators "13 angry Democrats" but I notice now we're up to 17 angry Democrats. This is flatly not true. Almost all the leaders of the probe are Republicans....appointed by Trump.

He lies when he declares that the Mueller investigation began with the Steele Dossier when the truth is it began with George Papadapoulous before we'd ever heard of the Dossier.

He and his people lied about whether they had any contacts with Russians (four of them have since pleaded guilty.) He lied when he wrote a false narrative about the Trump Tower meeting with his son, son-in-law, Paul Manafort and four officials from the Kremlin.

I could go on and on but what good would it do? The Trump cult either doesn't believe he lies or they don't care that he does. He can say a thing one day and they all parrot his deception. When he says the exact opposite the next day, they turn as one and repeat that lie. They remind me of Groundhog Day. Bill's Clinton's theme song was "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow". The Trumpies are the opposite. They never think about yesterday or tomorrow. Whatever Trump says today is all that counts.