It’s All About Me … Right?

Melania-jacketSo … the government has been shutdown for almost two weeks?  So what? I haven’t noticed any difference … and really, my friends, it is all about MOI, right?  We each see to our own happiness, so I’m sorry, but I see no disruption of my life, so in the words of our gracious {choke, cough, spit, sputter} First Lady {choke, cough, spit, sputter} Melania, “I really don’t care, do U?”

They say there is a build up of trash and debris in the National Parks, but … I haven’t been hiking for a year-and-a-half now, so what do I care, right?  I am, after all, still getting my mail.  They say people cannot sign up for food stamps, as the staff of the Food and Nutrition Service branch of the USDA (Department of Agriculture) is only minimally staffed, but what do I care, for I don’t receive food stamps anyway. overflowing-trash.jpgMy Social Security check was deposited to my account yesterday, so why should I worry?  What’s that you say?  The power station that serves my neighborhood isn’t being monitored?  So what?  I have electricity – I know this because every light in my house is burning brightly!

800,000 people aren’t getting paid?  Oh piffle, but really … I got my social security check, so why should I worry, right?  And after all … surely they have enough money in the bank to carry them over the hump? And anyway, I heard that they will get backpay when the government is open again, so what’s the big deal, Lucille?  And anyway, I’ve heard they’re only democrats, so … who cares, right?

Sorry, I cannot even keep up that charade any longer, for it is making me want to smack myself upside the head!  I just thought I’d try it on for size, but I don’t know how people like that live with their consciences at the end of the day, when all is quiet.

Note, my friends, that the above is not just a figment of my imagination but is the attitude of a large portion of the people in this country.  It is also not exclusively a republican attitude, but I have heard very similar statements from democrats.  It is not only an attitude shared by the un-and-under-educated or the ignorant, for just recently I heard a similar statement from somebody who I know to be well-educated and intelligent.  Indeed, this attitude crosses all divisions:  party, race, religion, etc. In some cases, it is a true disdain for others, or a stubborn ‘faith’ that whatever happens today does not matter and will be righted by some magical force at some point.  But, I believe that in the majority of cases it is simply a case of overload leading to apathy.

So much has happened in the last two years in this nation, almost all of it with negative impact, that what once would have been horrifying has now become the norm.  People tire of it, they learn to tune it out, for it wears on the psyche, steals their good humour, their Zen, if you will.  So, we hunker down and concern ourselves only with our immediate family, our present situation, and try to ignore the rest.  It is understandable, but dangerous, for we need people to not only be aware and informed, but we need them to care. We need them to care deeply enough to write those letters to their congressmen and women, to stand up and say, “Hey, this isn’t right!”

One of my biggest concerns is that over the next two years people will become so inured that when the 2020 election rolls around, they won’t even bother to vote, and that could very well lead us to a place I don’t even wish to contemplate.  Yesterday I read a piece in The Guardian by Robert Reich, a former U.S. Secretary of Labor, professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley, and author of numerous books.  His thoughts tie in with my own, and I share his words here.

Robert ReichAfter his first bizarre year, his apologists told us Donald Trump was growing into the job and that in his second year he’d be more restrained and respectful of democratic institutions. Wrong. He’s been worse.

Exhibit one: the “Wall.” After torpedoing Mitch McConnell’s temporary spending deal to avert a shutdown, he’s holding hostage over 800,000 government employees (“mostly Democrats,” he calls them, disparagingly) while subjecting the rest of America to untoward dangers.

On-site inspections at power plants have been halted. Hazardous waste cleanup efforts at Superfund sites are on hold. Reviews of toxic substances and pesticides have been stopped. Justice Department cases are in limbo.

Meanwhile, now working without pay are thousands of air traffic controllers and aviation and railroad safety inspectors, nearly 54,000 Customs and Border Protection agents, 42,000 Coast Guard employees, 53,000 TSA agents, 17,000 correctional officers, 14,000 FBI agents, 4,000 Drug Enforcement Administration agents, and some 5,000 firefighters with the U.S. Forest Service.

Having run the Department of Labor during the 1995 and 1996 shutdowns, I’m confident most of these public servants will continue to report for duty because they care about the missions they’re upholding. But going without pay will strain their family budgets to the point that some will not be able to.

Shame on Trump for jeopardizing America this way in order to fund his wall—which is nothing but a trumped-up solution to a trumped-up problem designed only to fuel his base.

In his second year he’s also done even more damage to the nation’s judicial-criminal system than he did before. At least twice in the past month he’s reportedly raged against his acting attorney general for allowing federal prosecutors to reference him in the crimes his former bagman Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to committing.

This is potentially the most direct obstruction of justice yet. He’s now pressuring an official whom he hand-picked and whose entire future depends on him, to take actions that would impair the independence of federal prosecutors.

Last month he blasted Judge Jon Tigar as an “Obama judge” after Tigar blocked the Administration’s limits on asylum eligibility to ports of entry, a decision summarily upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and sustained by the Supreme Court.

Chief Justice Roberts issued a rare rebuke. “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges,” he wrote, adding that an “independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”

Which prompted his rejoinder: “Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have ‘Obama judges,’” followed by his baseless and incendiary claim that “they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country,” and their “rulings are making our country unsafe! Very dangerous and unwise!”

In his second year Trump displayed even less commitment to keeping the military nonpartisan than he did initially. During last month’s teleconference with U.S. troops and coast guard members he continued his rampage against the judiciary, calling the ninth circuit “a big thorn in our side” and “a disgrace.”

Then he turned last week’s surprise visit to American troops in Iraq and Germany into a political rally—praising troops wearing red “Make America Great Again” caps, signing a “Trump 2020” patch, and accusing Representative Nancy Pelosi and other leading Democrats of being weak on border security.

Some Americans are becoming so accustomed to these antics that they no longer see them for what they are—escalating attacks on America’s core democratic institutions.

Where would we be if a president could simply shut down the government when he doesn’t get his way? If he could stop federal prosecutions he doesn’t like and order those he wants? If he could whip up public anger against court decisions he disapproves of? If he could mobilize the military to support him, against Congress and the judiciary?

We would no longer live in a democracy. Like his increasing attacks on critics in the press, these are all aspects of his growing authoritarianism. We normalize them at our peril.

Our institutions remain strong, but I’m not sure they can endure two more years of this. He must be removed from office through impeachment, or his own decision to resign in the face of impeachment, as did Richard Nixon.

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42 thoughts on “It’s All About Me … Right?

  1. The government shutdown is proving one thing to people… That Trump’s administration is ineffective, unnecessary, a shambles… And use any other negative adverb or adjective that you like. It should be a clear message to Congress that The President of the United States ‘position’ should meet…

    a) Have reached a bona-fide level of education

    b) Have high level staff (also meeting a level of education) that cannot be instantly fired after appointment.

    C) Cannot intervene (without concensus of high level appointed staff) in legal processes or military actions

    The current government shutdown proves that the current POTUS has run Amok and that protections need to be put in place to never let this happen again. This current POTUS needs to be taken by the hand and led back from the brink of disaster before he pushes all the people down into the ravine of war, famine and the other evils of the apocalypse.

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    • I would love to see people all over the nation rise up and say “Enough!!!” But I don’t know how that would even be initiated, and half the people would say, “No, I can’t go, I’ll miss my favourite television show!”.

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        • Agreed. And a number of other things, such as the fact that food prices and household goods prices are on the rise, food stamp offices have only a skeletal staff, and the stock market may have rebounded some last week, but it is on shaky ground and I truly believe it is set for a tumble. All those lovely 401(k) investments … was that a toilet I just heard flushing?

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      • Just got this off The Atlantic magazine online.

        “Unknown to most Americans, a parallel legal regime allows the president to sidestep many of the constraints that normally apply. The moment the president declares a “national emergency”—a decision that is entirely within his discretion—more than 100 special provisions become available to him. While many of these tee up reasonable responses to genuine emergencies, some appear dangerously suited to a leader bent on amassing or retaining power. For instance, the president can, with the flick of his pen, activate laws allowing him to shut down many kinds of electronic communications inside the United States or freeze Americans’ bank accounts. Other powers are available even without a declaration of emergency, including laws that allow the president to deploy troops inside the country to subdue domestic unrest.

        This edifice of extraordinary powers has historically rested on the assumption that the president will act in the country’s best interest when using them. With a handful of noteworthy exceptions, this assumption has held up. But what if a president, backed into a corner and facing electoral defeat or impeachment, were to declare an emergency for the sake of holding on to power? In that scenario, our laws and institutions might not save us from a presidential power grab. They might be what takes us down.”

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  2. As an outsider looking in, I cannot believe you can let Trump turn your government off and on. Giving him that kind of power is unconscionable. He is holding every Ametican citizen in duress, and still no uprising–non-violent or otherwise. What are you people waiting for?
    As I understand it the wheels of justice are not turning right now–does that include the Mueller investigation? I read somewhere there are currently 17 courst cases against Trump going on. Are any of those cases proceeding? Or is he just using this shutdown to save his own butt? Remove this power from his hands.
    And just out of curiosity, is he still getting his paychewues that he is not cashing? I bet he is!

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  3. I remember Hearing a political scientist talking a few years back about how current government and democracy was a thing of the past. Holding back progress. Increased reliance on technology and the growth of international companies would make democracy and governments increasingly irrelevant. Power would pass to the elite (ie the money makers and company tycoons). People becoming marginalised/increasingly inward looking was what these vested interests wanted. Just keep the reality tv shows playing and pizza on the dinner tables and the transition will be seemless.

    I worry. I just worry we are sleepwalking to a not very nice place. Maybe not the world pictured above, but not a place a modern society should be heading.

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    • That is chillingly prophetic, isn’t it? I worry too, my friend. Capitalism has run amok and it often seems that our governments are in the pockets of the wealthy corporations. In the U.S., one of the most powerful entities in the political game is the NRA (National Rifle Association), a lobbyist representing the gun manufacturers. Another is the fossil fuel industry, collectively. The politicians are largely funded by these entities and seem to have stopped listening to the voters. They mold people like clay, telling them what to fear and what to be grateful for. In essence, eat the pizza, watch the stupid television programming and let us worry about the other stuff. Just pay your taxes and be happy. Sigh.

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  4. Another excellent post, Jill! I certainly hope the Dems in the House don’t jump the gun with regard to impeachment. Any attempt to do so before the Mueller report is submitted is playing politics with the Constitution. That would be an attack on the rule of law. Trump is easily the worst leader in US political history but impeachment is a legal tool and must not be used because many despise the president.

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    • John!!! I’ve been worried about you! I hope everything is okay!

      Thanks … No, Pelosi has already said that it would be premature at this point to initiate impeachment proceedings. I think it has to happen, but the time is not right just yet, though I wish it were. Actually, I wish his chefs would slip strychnine into his food, but that’s not very nice of me, is it? You’re right … he is the most corrupt leader this nation has ever had and appears to be in competition with some of the worst of the third-world leaders. There is justification for impeachment, but I think you’re right and that it would be in the best interest of all to wait for the Mueller report. Sigh. Hugs, my friend!

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  5. Most definitely a two thumbs up post and out of a possible 5 Stars, this earns a 10! As I was reading this excellent post, several things came to mind. I will, at the risk of prodding my propensity for loquacity, share them. I have often stated that I am a lifelong voracious reader and when I would come upon something that I wanted to remember and reference later, I would jot it down in a small notebook in the order that I found them, a habit acquired in my youth. To say that I have accumulated a preponderance of notebooks is a vast understatement. Trying to find a particular notation soon became a seemingly impossible time consuming task. Somewhere along the years, it came to me that filing notations by topics per notebook instead of in a chronological system simplified matters immensely. It has been suggested, by my eldest daughter, that I put them into files in my computer for easier access. Two problems in pursuing that course have occurred to me…the memory in my computer would be insufficient and I lack the patience and skill to attempt the task. Therefore, I had to search to find these amongst the jottings…well worth the effort, I think. “The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.” – Robert M. Hutchins. And, this by Martin Niemoller : “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist. They came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.” Our Democracy is under attack from within, it is upon all of We the People to protect it…before we too have no one left to speak for us! Thank-YOU!

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    • You are so good for my self-esteem! If I ever run for president, you will be my VP!

      Thank you for your time and effort in digging through your notebooks for those quotes!!! I had not heard the one by Hutchens, but the Niemoller quote is quite familiar, and in fact I have used it a few times in posts. Thank you! I agree with both you and your daughter about your files/notes. A database would be a terrific help … a mouse-click or two and you’d have just what you were seeking. And text takes up almost no space on a hard drive, so you would probably be fine there. However … I am around the same age as you, and I would not have either the time or patience, I think, to transpose all those notes into the database. I have shelves, stacks, boxes and piles of books all over my house, and I have designed a database program to log them all in so that I can keep track of what I have, which I have read, etc. But, I’ve never found time nor energy to key all the data in! Now I’m looking into the possibility of scanning most of them in using my phone and the book’s barcode, but my best guess is that it will never get done.

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      • I’m happy to be of help, although your self-esteem should be in tip top shape. A VP position would not be to my liking, perhaps Ambassador of Quotes to any Nordic country?! I almost added a postscript to my comment yesterday and chose not too, as it was already of an interminable length. The thought had occurred to me that I had made your post ‘All about me’ too! That I should share any Trumpian trait was abhorrent, but the post comment had already been hit! The two quotes, minus my verbosity, would have been quite sufficient as a comment. It escapes my memory at the moment if I had mentioned that one of my goals this year is to rein in my propensity for loquacity. One might conclude…the goal is not yet met! Thank-you!

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        • You shall be Ambassador of Quotes to whatever country you choose, ma’am! And please, don’t even think about reining in your Propensity for Loquacity … I LOVE it, and most always learn something new from you when you set off on a P for L moment!

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  6. Dear Jill,

    The president has been itching for a shutdown for months. He made this same threat to shutdown the US government if he didn’t get funding for his southern border wall way back in 2017. Well, without the past constraints, he finally acted on this impulse. We should be grateful that he’s hasn’t been ruminating about US nuclear power.

    All this “shutdown reality TV show is about the president wanting to show his base of anti-immigration zealots that he’s really tough, and the heck about the harm he is doing to everyday hardworking public servants.

    If Senator Mitch McConnell continues to back the president’s foolishness, he will end up holding the bag of presidential sh*t.

    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 1 person

    • True … he has been itching for this for months, and he is grandstanding, but … his latest threats are concerning and it’s time the republicans in the Senate get off their collective patooties and remember who put them in office, who gave them their jobs … it was NOT Donald Trump! I’m no so sure he isn’t ruminating about the U.S.’ nuclear power. Remember his taunt to Kim Jong-un … I think it was in 2017, or sometime before the two met and began their bromance … when he said he had a ‘bigger button’ and that his button works? I sometimes wonder if he isn’t waiting for just the right opportunity to abuse that power as well.

      Mitch McConnell knows there is an option, to rally his fellow republican senators to pass a veto-proof bill in conjunction with the House, but he’s forgotten, like the rest, that Trump is not his boss. I hope he gets thrown out big time in 2020, but meanwhile … we must somehow convince him to step away from the Trump-monster. Sigh. Only the 5th day of 2019 and I’m already tired of it.

      Hugs!

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  7. Jill, I used to travel with a leadership consultant on occasion to meet with clients. Here are a few thoughts he would state time and again:
    – a good leader deflects credit to others.
    – a bad leader assumes credit even when he does not deserve it.
    – a good leader fights for his people.

    I have seen many good leaders, but I have seen far more that are not worth their pay. A rising tide lifts all boats. As you consider the above, the current US President qualifies with all three measures as a bad leader. This is a key reason so many turned down his offer to work for him. Think about this – until this one, every other President fights to keep the government open. That says it all. Keith

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    • I certainly agree with those criteria for a good leader. Thinking back, I can say that in all my years of working, I had only one boss who comes to mind as having met those qualifications. A sad statement, isn’t it? Just a little while ago I read that Trump is saying he will keep the government shut down for months or even years! How irresponsible!!! And Pence and others are getting raises tomorrow, while federal workers will not even get a paycheck. It is time for a change … NOW!

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      • I saw Trump’s latest press conference and it’s the opinion of some that more Republican Senators will begin to speak up and press for a quick settlement to the shutdown. I read if it stretches into February the food stamps and tax refunds will be sorely affected. That will hit Trump’s base, especially the food stamps. The White House is just beginning to realize the widespread effect of this stupid business. My son said his sister-in-law who works in the court system in North Carolina has been furloughed. Trump is talking nonsense and needs to wake up to the reality of all those who live in the real world, who aren’t him and his family. Also, three people have died from accidents in national parks Trump decided to leave open without Interior Department staffing. 😦 — Suzanne

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        • It does seem that some of the GOP in the Senate are waking up. BUT … Mitch McConnell is still determined to lick Trump’s boots, and he is the key … without his support, no spending bill will even go up for a vote. Yes, I read about the three who have died in the national parks … those fall squarely on Trump’s and the rest of the GOP’s shoulders in my book. This shutdown is the most irresponsible action by any president in the history of this nation. People will die if it lasts months or years, as he has threatened. And all for his ego trip. I’m trying to imagine what he will say in his State of the Union address on January 20th!

          Liked by 1 person

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