An Important Message …

I came across this video created by Greenpeace a few days ago.  Greenpeace, founded in 1971, is a non-governmental environmental organization focusing on worldwide issues such as climate change, deforestation, overfishing, commercial whaling, genetic engineering, and anti-nuclear issues.  Their mission statement:

Greenpeace is a global, independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

The video contains probably some of the worst singing you will hear this week, but the message is important, the message is one that needs to be remembered and shared.  Our lives, the lives of our children and their children are at stake here, and every person on this planet has the ability to make a difference.

Filosofa’s State of the Union Address

Yesterday, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, sent a letter to Donald Trump strongly urging that he either reschedule the State of the Union Address or deliver it in writing, in the wake of the ongoing government shutdown, which entered its 26th day on Wednesday, and which has affected nearly 800,000 federal workers. Pelosi cited critical government agencies in charge of overseeing the event — namely U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security — that have been hobbled by the shutdown.

Under the circumstances, it is highly unlikely that Trump will, in fact, deliver a State of the Union address in person on Friday, 29 January.  So, it seemed prudent, just in case I am asked to deliver it in his stead, to go ahead and write my own speech … Text dividersGood evening Ms. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, my fellow Americans.

Ms. Pelosi graciously invited me to fill in for Mr. Trump in giving the State of the Union Address tonight, for with the government shutdown in its 39th day, the Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security are stretched far too thin to provide adequate security to attend this address to Congress.  It was determined that far fewer people want to bump me off than Mr. Trump, so my safety seems not to be at risk and thus I am here to deliver the speech to Congress and the Nation tonight.  Mr. Trump’s speechwriters worked very hard to provide me with a written speech, however, I seem to have left it back at the hotel, so luckily I have written my own.

This is called the State of the Union address because the purpose is to inform the American people how the country is doing, and where we are going, what we plan to accomplish in the coming year.  Let me start with how we are doing.

America is more divided today than at any time since the end of the Civil War years.  We have problems, folks – serious problems.  As I mentioned today marks the 39th day of the partial government shutdown that is affecting everyone in one way or another.  You, the people of this once-great nation are losing confidence, and understandably so, in your government.  Investors are losing confidence and it is being reflected in the dropping stock market and also in the job market.  Consumer prices are on the rise.  The food you buy to feed your families costs more than it did a month ago and there is a very real danger that meat and produce may be contaminated, since the U.S. Department of Agriculture hasn’t sufficient staff to continue food safety inspections. 

Apart from the government shutdown, we have a plethora of other problems that we seem unable or unwilling to address.  Perhaps the most critical one is that of the environment.  Since the rollback of past environmental regulations that were intended to cut back on carbon emissions, it was reported earlier this week that carbon emissions in the U.S. have increased by 3.4%, not decreased as they needed to.  This is a problem, not only for the United States, but for our neighbors, Mexico and Canada, as well as the rest of the globe. 

The other critical problem facing the nation is that we have lost the trust and respect of our allies, which leaves us in an extremely vulnerable position.  We abandoned our allies when we announced our intent to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, when we exited the Iran nuclear agreement, and more recently when we announced that we would pull all U.S. troops out of Syria, leaving our allies holding the bag.  In addition, our threats to pull out of NATO, our unwarranted criticism of our allies, high import tariffs, and seeming attentiveness toward our adversaries further have our allies wondering whether they could depend on us in case of an emergency.  This is a dangerous situation.

Here at home, we face other problems.

Last year we saw a number of mass shootings in the United States.  113 people were either killed or injured in school shootings alone, and young people are asking us why we don’t do something, why we don’t pass laws to keep guns out of the hands of people with mental problems, of people who are known domestic abusers, why we don’t have stronger gun laws in this country. 

The nation is torn apart by the debate about immigration and a wall on the border between the United States and Mexico.  Border states are particularly torn, for such a wall would limit, if not eliminate trade and tourism between our two countries and would almost certainly cause further political and economic unrest. 

Our education system is failing our young people.  They are not receiving the education they need in order to succeed, to become the next generation of leaders, of scientists, of historians or great inventors.  Instead, we are training them only for specific jobs, thereby severely limiting their options.  

We have fallen far behind other Western nations in the development of renewable energy sources, have become far too dependent on fossil fuels which are causing more damage and destruction to the environment every day.

Bigotry in all its forms is at an all time high in our nation today.  Racial tensions are the highest they have been since the 1960s when people died to gain Civil Rights for African-Americans, for all people.  Rights are being taken away from the LGBT community.  Women’s rights are being trampled.  Muslims are discriminated against openly in public.

Our elections are no longer fair, for almost every state has gerrymandered districts, newly imposed voter identification laws that discriminate against the poor and minorities.  Polling places in poor districts are closed, or in some cases the hours dramatically reduced, making it impossible for a working person in one of those neighborhoods to vote.  Foreign entities have interfered in our elections, often skewing results.  Both domestic and foreign lobbyist firms have influenced elections and now have some of the people sitting in this room tonight in their pockets. All of this has led to voter disenfranchisement and apathy.

And healthcare … drug prices are obscenely inflated in the United States, as are insurance costs.  The ACA has been chipped at to the extent that many can no longer afford their health insurance.  People are sick and dying for lack of money. 

I wish I had better news to report, but frankly, ladies and gentlemen, our nation is in a sorry state today.  I cannot speak for Mr. Trump as to any plans for the coming year, but I have given you a rundown, in brief, of the State of the Nation.  And on that note, I thank you for your time this evening.

It Can’t Happen Here …

sinclair lewis.jpgA few days ago, Robert Vella commented on one of my posts that those who think I am over-dramatizing my take on Trump & Co., might be well-advised to read Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here.  Why hadn’t I thought of that comparison?  It has been around 50 years since I read the book, although I do remember the general premise.  Still, I went to Wikipedia for a brief synopsis, and I thought it apropos to share with you what I found:

“It Can’t Happen Here is a semi-satirical 1935 political novel by American author Sinclair Lewis, and a 1936 play adapted from the novel by Lewis and John C. Moffitt.  Published during the rise of fascism in Europe, the novel describes the rise of Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, a demagogue who is elected President of the United States, after fomenting fear and promising drastic economic and social reforms while promoting a return to patriotism and “traditional” values.”

Anything in that paragraph sound familiar?

“In 1936 Senator Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, a charismatic and power-hungry politician, wins the election as President of the United States on a populist platform, promising to restore the country to prosperity and greatness …”

Power-hungry … populist platform … promising prosperity … greatness …

“Though having previously foreshadowed some authoritarian measures in order to reorganize the United States government, Windrip rapidly outlaws dissent, incarcerates political enemies in concentration camps, and trains and arms a paramilitary force called the Minute Men, who terrorize citizens and enforce the policies of Windrip and his “corporatist” regime. One of his first acts as president is to eliminate the influence of the United States Congress, which draws the ire of many citizens as well as the legislators themselves. The Minute Men respond to protests against Windrip’s decisions harshly, attacking demonstrators with bayonets. In addition to these actions, Windrip’s administration, known as the “Corpo” government, curtails women’s and minority rights, and eliminates individual states by subdividing the country into administrative sectors. The government of these sectors is managed by “Corpo” authorities, usually prominent businessmen or Minute Men officers.”

Want to know more?  Read the book.  But here’s my thought.  All of us have at least one or two friends who are still supporting Trump, whether because they truly believe in his lies, honestly think something he’s doing is right, or are just too ashamed to admit they were wrong about him.  The book isn’t expensive, so I say we should each buy one in paperback to give to each of our wayward friends or family members.  And if you really need a lot of copies, you can download it for free from the Project Gutenberg, or you can download the .pdf file, also free, then email it to your friends and relatives.

I just wish I had come up with this idea a week or two before Christmas, and we could have given a copy to those ‘in need’ of reading it for Christmas!

 

The Top 50 Trumpaus From The Atlantic

The Atlantic has done a series that I found to be both comprehensive and interesting.  What they did was … well, I’ll let Jeff Goldberg, Editor in Chief tell you …

In an October 2016 editorial, The Atlantic wrote of Donald Trump: “He is a demagogue, a xenophobe, a sexist, a know-nothing, and a liar.” We argued that Trump “expresses admiration for authoritarian rulers, and evinces authoritarian tendencies himself.” Trump, we also noted, “is easily goaded, a poor quality for someone seeking control of America’s nuclear arsenal. He is an enemy of fact-based discourse; he is ignorant of, and indifferent to, the Constitution; he appears not to read.”

In retrospect, we may be guilty of understatement.

There was a hope, in the bewildering days following the 2016 election, that the office would temper the man—that Trump, in short, would change.

He has not changed.

This week marks the midway point of Trump’s term. Like many Americans, we sometimes find the velocity of chaos unmanageable. We find it hard to believe, for example, that we are engaged in a serious debate about whether the president of the United States is a Russian-intelligence asset. So we decided to pause for a moment and analyze 50 of the most improbable, norm-bending, and destructive incidents of this presidency to date.

Our 2016 editorial was a repudiation of Donald Trump’s character as much as it was an endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president. It was not meant to be partisan. The Atlantic’s founders promised their readers that we would be “of no party or clique.” This remains a core governing principle of the magazine today. What follows is a catalog of incidents, ranked—highly subjectively!—according to both their outlandishness and their importance. In most any previous presidency, Democratic or Republican, each moment on this list would have been unthinkable.

There are 50 articles in the series, and while I have not read them all, the ones I have read are spot-on.  I list them here, with links, so you can decide which, if any, you would like to read.  Click on any title to go directly to it … all links will open in a separate tab:

  1. Children are taken from their parents and incarcerated
  2. “Very fine people on both sides”
  3. The president still hasn’t released his tax returns
  4. Putin and Trump talk without chaperones
  5. James Comey is fired
  6. Trump declares war on black athletes
  7. Trump picks the wrong countries for his travel ban
  8. The president calls his porn-star ex-paramour “horseface”
  9. Covfefe
  10. “I have the absolute right to pardon myself”
  11. Trump throws paper towels at Puerto Ricans
  12. A new term enters the presidential lexicon: “shithole countries”
  13. Trump mocks Christine Blasey Ford to a cheering crowd
  14. You know you’re in a constitutional crisis when…
  15. The CIA dead become a TV prop
  16. Public humiliation comes for everyone in the White House
  17. Trump threatens to press his “nuclear button”
  18. The president lies constantly
  19. The president learns about the Justice Department
  20. The president learns about separation of powers
  21. Rain stops Trump from honoring the dead
  22. The UN General Assembly laughs at the president
  23. America gets a first daughter
  24. The president can’t stop talking about carnage
  25. “We’re gonna have the cleanest air”
  26. Trump helps the Saudis cover up a murder
  27. Turkish agents assault protesters near the White House
  28. Trump tweets the wisdom of Mussolini
  29. The president tries to kick transgender service members out of the military
  30. The buck stops over there
  31. The White House punishes a CNN reporter for asking questions
  32. Trump disseminates Soviet propaganda
  33. The chief justice of the United States corrects the president
  34. Trump leads the country to the longest government shutdown in American history
  35. Mueller’s “witch hunt” is good at finding witches
  36. Trump threatens to strip security clearances from his critics
  37. The president just wants to go home
  38. Trump holds a top secret confab on the Mar-a-Lago dining terrace
  39. A White House economist creates facts for the president
  40. The president’s most trusted adviser is his own gut
  41. Trump waits 19 months to pick his science adviser
  42. The first president to complain about an election he won
  43. The nation loses its consoler in chief
  44. The WikiLeaks president goes silent
  45. A name-calling feud ends with the secretary of state’s ouster by tweet
  46. Trump tells the Boy Scouts about a hot New York party
  47. An overcompensating press secretary lies about crowd size
  48. The president praises the congressman who body-slammed a reporter
  49. A Cabinet officer likes private planes too much
  50. Donald Trump touches the magic orb

Only Slightly Snarky Snippets …

As I sit here, looking out at the cold snow, watching Oliver watch the birdies outside the window, wishing for a sign that spring is near, and pondering the meaning of life, I decided today was a snippet sort of day.  I considered building a nice fire to ward off the chill, but the management here doesn’t allow it … just because we don’t have fireplaces.  Silly, I know, but there you have it.  So, wrapped up in a blankie with a purring creature in my lap, it’s either fall asleep or write.


No, Mr. Watson, you are NOT correct!

James Dewey Watson, age 90, is a nasty little man.  In 1962, he won the Nobel Prize for outlining the double-helix structure of DNA.  Okay, an achievement that has provided useful information for medical science.  Sorry, James, but that doesn’t exonerate you from being a racist.

james-watsonIn 2007 Watson, a molecular biologist, geneticist and zoologist, claimed that black people were less intelligent than white people and the idea that “equal powers of reason” were shared across racial groups was a delusion.  In response, he was suspended from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory where he had served as the laboratory’s director and president for about 35 years, and later he assumed the role of chancellor and then Chancellor Emeritus.

It wasn’t only people of African lineage that he disparaged, however.  He had little respect for women or obese people. A couple of quotes …

“Whenever you interview fat people, you feel bad, because you know you’re not going to hire them.”

“If you are really stupid, I would call that a disease. The lower 10 per cent who really have difficulty, even in elementary school, what’s the cause of it? A lot of people would like to say, ‘Well, poverty, things like that.’ It probably isn’t. So, I’d like to get rid of that, to help the lower 10 per cent.”

And then, two weeks ago, he iced the cake.  Appearing on a PBS Documentary “American Masters: Decoding Watson”, he revealed that his scientifically unsupported views on race and genetics have not changed “at all” since 2007.  To their credit, the Cold Spring Harbor Lab has revoked his honorary titles.

“Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) unequivocally rejects the unsubstantiated and reckless personal opinions Dr. James D. Watson expressed on the subject of ethnicity and genetics during the PBS documentary ‘American Masters: Decoding Watson’ that aired January 2, 2019.”

I repeat … James Watson, brilliant though his work may have been, is a nasty little man.


Let the courts decide …

Section One of the thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution reads …

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

Last week a group of federal employees working without pay during the partial government shutdown filed a lawsuit accusing Trump and their bosses of violating the 13th Amendment.  The lawsuit is one of several that have been filed by groups of federal employees who are being forced to work without pay as Trump continues his childish temper tantrum that has kept parts of the government shut down for nearly a month now.  But this one differs in that it is the first such lawsuit to invoke the 13th Amendment.

The group’s lawyer, Michael Kator, said …

“If this is not resolved soon, affected employees may find that beginning February 1 they will no longer have health insurance. And, if this lasts ‘months or even years’ as [Trump] has suggested, there will be defaults, foreclosures and even bankruptcies. A promise to pay back pay will not forestall those consequences.”

Sadly, legal minds aren’t offering much hope that the lawsuit will succeed, but my hat is off to the group for trying.  It is, I think, unconscionable to expect people to keep working for no pay, especially given that there are a couple of very simple solutions to this problem:  Trump could come down off his high horse and sign the damn spending bill, or the Senate could find their cojones and pass a veto-proof bill.

If the approximately 420,000 federal workers who are expected to work with naught but a ‘promise’ of back pay decide to walk off the job, this nation will be plunged into chaos … planes will not fly, trade between the U.S. and Mexico will cease, Secret Service protection to the current and former presidents will cease, U.S. embassies will close, food inspections will be halted, weather forecasts will cease, and more.

Trump claims that the wall is “essential” for national security, but this shutdown is putting national security at risk in ways that immigrants never have, never could.


Canadians have heart …

Let’s finish this post on a positive note, shall we?  A Canadian friend sent me this on Facebook this morning …natca-pizza-new-englandAir traffic controllers from Atlantic Canada directed a fleet of special arrivals into the New York Air Traffic Control Center on Friday night, as a gesture of solidarity and respect.

And each was covered in a layer of gooey melted cheese.

The Canadian Air Traffic Control Association units in Gander, N.L., and Moncton, N.B., ordered pizzas for all of their colleagues at the control center on Long Island, who have been working without pay since the partial U.S. government shutdown began on Dec. 22.pizza!According to Doug Church, deputy director of public affairs with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) in the U.S., there are currently 14,000 controllers working without pay.

And they’re thrilled about the pizzas.

“It’s just a really good shot in the arm of positive energy and positive emotion to know that, ‘Hey they’ve got our back,’  On behalf of the entire NATCA and air traffic control around this country, we extend our thanks and our gratitude.”


fire in fireplace.gif

Why Didn’t I Think Of That???

Nicholas Kristof’s column yesterday in the New York Times was his usual excellent analysis of the five craziest things about the government shutdown and Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion for his ego wall.  But what iced the cake for me was the brilliant idea he posed at the conclusion of his piece.  And so, I share his column with you … let me know what you think of his idea!


Trump’s Five Craziest Arguments About the Shutdown

Oh, and about that wall. Here’s a financing plan that’s a win-win.

nicholas-kristof-thumblargeBy Nicholas Kristof
Opinion Columnist

I’d like to apologize to all the “banana republics” I’ve offended over the decades with snarky references to their dysfunction. This is karma: I now live in a nation where a petulant president has shut down much of the most powerful government in the world — so the White House isn’t even paying its water bills.

The government has shut down before, under presidents of both parties. But this shutdown is particularly childish and unnecessary; to revise Churchill, rarely have so many suffered so much at the hands of so few.

It’s difficult to pick the craziest of the arguments that President Trump is making about the shutdown — there’s a vast buffet of imbecility to choose from — but here’s my good-faith effort.

1. This is a crisis! Terrorists are crossing the border! Rapists!

This is more like a lull than a crisis. The number of people apprehended at the border remains near a 45-year low. From 1972 on, there were more apprehensions every single year than there were in 2017.

As for terrorists, experts say that there isn’t a single known case of a terrorist sneaking into the United States along unfenced areas of the southern border. Ever.

2. Only a wall can do the job. A big beautiful wall that stops people and drugs.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was wrong to describe a wall as “an immorality,” for we need border security, and a wall in some places can be effective. But a great majority of the undocumented immigrants in the country didn’t arrive by sneaking across the border, but rather came legally, often at airports, and overstayed their visas. The most beautiful of walls wouldn’t stop them.

Likewise, drug smuggling is a real problem, but narcotics have mostly been smuggled in on trucks, cars and airplanes at official ports of entry, or through tunnels under the border, or through the postal system — not by individuals crossing remote parts of the border.

“The Daily Show” dug up a 2004 college graduation speech in which Trump counseled perseverance of just the kind that makes walls, by themselves, not terribly effective: “Never, ever give up. … If there’s a concrete wall in front of you, go through it, go over it, go around it, but get to the other side of the wall.”

3. But this is a humanitarian issue!

Yes, it is. The most egregious humanitarian concern has been Trump’s brutal policy of separating children from parents at the border.

“Kids are still being separated,” Lee Gelernt of the A.C.L.U. told me. Mostly the government does this when it says that a parent has a criminal history, but the offenses sometimes were minor or unsubstantiated.

Meanwhile, the government shutdown causes other tragedies. For example, even in normal times 3,000 people a year die in the United States from food-borne illness, yet the Food and Drug Administration has now had to stop most routine food inspections, with inspectors sent home on furlough. The result may well be more people getting sick or dying from food poisoning.

4. The president doesn’t need Congress. After all, he’s the president!

Plenty of people would be a bit relieved if Trump took the dubious route of declaring a national emergency and trying to steal, er, divert money intended for disaster victims to pay for his wall. It might be a way out of our national stalemate, allowing the government to reopen.

But look, folks, when we welcome our president doing something possibly illegal, as he unjustly takes money from disaster victims, that just confirms that we have a crisis — not at the border but in Washington.

Trump’s wall isn’t about governing but about creating a political symbol and rallying his base. The problem is that it’s an expensive symbol.

By my calculations, the $5.7 billion could send 100,000 at-risk American kids to a high-quality preschool for a year AND provide Pell grants for 100,000 students to attend college for a full four years, with enough left over to ALSO provide a year’s comprehensive treatment to 115,000 Americans struggling with opioid addiction.

5. Anyway, Mexico will pay for the wall.

Trump repeatedly declared that Mexico would pay for the wall, and he still insists that Mexico will pay for it indirectly “many, many times over.” So I have a solution to the whole mess.

Since Mexico will pay for the wall eventually, the problem now is one of cash flow. Fortunately, we have financial instruments to deal with precisely this issue.

I propose that Trump pay the $5.7 billion himself, and then the U.S. will repay him (with a nice interest rate) as the Mexican payments for the wall pour in. The Federal Reserve can verify the Mexican income stream and forward the sums to Trump.

Since he’s so confident that the wall will pay for itself, he should be delighted with this option. Right, Mr. President?

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Now why didn’t I think of that???

Send In The Adults … PLEASE!!!

PLEASE, people, let us put some adults in charge of this sinking ship!!!  In a nutshell, if you combine all the statements about Syria and condense them into a single statement, it reads something like this:

We are going to withdraw all U.S. forces from Syria by the end of last year, but it may not happen for several years.

Scratching your head over that one, aren’t you?  See, what happens here is that Donald Trump gets up one morning all in a fizz and while he’s sitting on the potty wondering what to tweet next, an idea comes to him.  So, without consulting any of the two people on his staff who have brains, he tweets that he will be pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria.  Then, as an afterthought, he tweets that this will happen by the end of December.Bolton-Mattis-Pompeo.jpgImagine the look of utter incredulity on the faces of James Mattis, John Bolton and Mike Pompeo on seeing that tweet as they sit at their breakfast tables!  We know Mattis’ take on it, for it gave him the reason he had probably been looking for to tender his resignation and get off the Trumptanic before it meets the iceberg.  Bolton likely turned red in the face and nearly had apoplexy, moustaches twitching while his eyebrows went up and down.  And Pompeo probably just popped yet another donut into his mouth.bolton-near-tearsApparently, despite his bluster and his reputation as a warmonger, even Bolton has a problem with Trump’s decision, bred of ignorance, but he could hardly ignore his boss man, so he found a compromise this week … pull out the equipment and leave the troops!  Brilliant … that way he can honestly say we are in the process of pulling out, yet not risk the lives of all Kurds and other innocent people in the area by leaving them unassisted with the threat of Turks attacking.moving equipment-Syria.jpgOnly thing is … without equipment, without jeeps, tanks and the like … of what use are the soldiers?  And how safe are they?  Oh this was such a well-thought-out, brilliant move!  CHAOS!  ICEBERG AHEAD!!!titanic-2Interestingly, despite some equipment being moved out of Syria, the Department of Defense says that the number of U.S. troops in Syria may “increase slightly”.  Trump, apparently after talking to Bolton, changed his ’30-day’ time frame to four months, but even that seems highly unachievable … and undesirable from a foreign policy point of view.  I doubt that Bolton has had the nerve yet to tell him that he may increase the number of troops and that they may yet be there for years.

There are valid reasons for the U.S. to remain in Syria.  One, daesh (aka ISIS) has not, as Trump said it had, been eradicated and if U.S. forces leave the area, are likely to regroup and increase their numbers.  Two, Turkish President Erdoğan has already said that it is his intent to murder every Kurd in Syria, and without the protection of the U.S. troops, that is almost a certainty.

Trump is almost certain to have to eat some crow on this one … could that be part of the reason he’s digging his heels on the border wall?  His ego cannot seem to take two major defeats in such a short time frame, and his buddy Sean Hannity will definitely not be pleased with him if he caves on the border wall.

Let’s talk about that border wall for a minute.  I found it heartbreaking yesterday to read that some of the federal workers who have been without pay for nearly a month now are selling household goods on Ebay to try to scrape together enough to pay the rent and keep the electricity on … it is winter, y’know.

Limo.jpgMeanwhile, Trump rides around in his ostentatious $1.5 million limo (we paid for that, too), takes Air Force One to Texas for a wasted trip that accomplished nothing at a cost of $200,000 per hour!  And he obviously has not so much as missed a meal.  He claims democrats are to blame for his ignominious shutdown for not being willing to negotiate, but in truth it is he who is not willing to negotiate.  He has set a number he wants immediately for his wall at $5.7 billion, and that is the only outcome he will accept.  He isn’t willing to settle for a portion of that amount … it’s all or nothing at all.  So really, there is only one person to blame, and that person is definitely not a democrat! He will bankrupt this nation within the next six months at the current rate he is spending our money.

The victims of the chaos that reigns in this administration are each and every one of us.  It only begins with those 800,000+ workers who are in danger of losing their homes, cars and even lives, but in the near future the pain will trickle down to us all.  This is the most irresponsible presidency in the history of this nation, bar none.  It’s time we put some adults in charge, for we damn sure don’t have any today!

America In The Eyes Of The World — A Guest Post By John Fioravanti

I have been so pleased by the excellent guest posts I have received from friends in the UK — David, Gary and Colette — as a part of Project Coexist, giving us a chance to see how people outside the U.S. view us these days, in light of the changes in our nation.  Today I am happy to share with you another excellent point-of-view from Canadian friend, John Fioravanti!

America Today: A Canadian View

I appreciate Jill Dennison’s generous invitation to be a guest on her blog site. As a retired high school history teacher, I don’t presume to be an expert on this topic or any other – nor do I claim to speak for any Canadians other than myself. Having said that, I believe that many Canadians are profoundly saddened and anxious by developments on our southern border since the Trump Administration took power.

Having taught American history for many years, I have some understanding about the events and ideas that shaped America from its colonial days. Like all nations, the United States has evolved throughout its history in many significant ways. Today, I see America at a crossroad as many of the foundational values are being tossed aside for political expediency.

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a bilateral meeting at the G7 Summit in Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada, June 8, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Diplomacy is a dirty word in the Trump White House and I am horrified that the president resorts to bullying and personal insult in his conduct of relations with Canada and the other Allies. Where is the dignity and respect that normally characterize international relationships – especially with allied nations? These were the tactics used against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau throughout the NAFTA negotiations. The worst part about that episode was that it utterly destroyed the trust that existed between Canada and the United States throughout the 20th Century and into the 21st.

Mulroney and Reagan sing “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” at the 1985 Shamrock Summit.

I never expected Trudeau and Trump to become fast personal friends since they are divided by their political ideologies. Brian Mulroney and Ronald Reagan were both conservative leaders and good friends. Stephen Harper, a conservative, did not become friendly with the liberal-minded Obama. Yet, Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau became good friends with Obama. My point here is that the political leanings of our national leaders often determine the temperature of the relationship. Under Donald Trump, that temperature has become decidedly frigid, and that benefits neither nation.

As I consider Trump’s poor behaviour in Washington and on the world stage, I am most concerned with his complete break with truth and honesty. I am appalled that so many millions of Americans still support him. Do they not value truth and honesty? Or are they just willing to subvert those values as a fitting sacrifice to achieve their political agenda? These are very troubling questions. I fear for my American cousins and for the rest of the free world.

Much has been written about the divisions within America. Donald Trump did not create those divisions, but he has single-mindedly exploited them to appease his base. In like manner, he has driven a wedge of distrust between the United States and her traditional allies. At the same time, Trump pays public homage to authoritarian leaders around the globe. His chaotic foreign policy has resulted in trade wars with allies and foes alike and the result is the isolation of America on the world stage.

I live a short two-hour drive from our southern border at Niagara but I have not driven across to visit friends in New York State since Trump took power – nor will I until America votes him out of power. That makes me sad. His mercurial policies cause me to be anxious and fearful about travelling in the States. Perhaps that is silly but it is my truth.

As a youngster, I remember being glued to the TV news as America’s cities burned during the race riots of the 1960s. As I listen to the white supremacist rhetoric and watch news reports of children and minority groups being targeted in mass shootings in America today, the old horror of those bygone days rears its ugly head.

Canada has its fair share of problems too. We have racial divisions of our own. There are people in Canada who think Donald Trump is a great example to follow. As a liberal, I’ve always done my best to accept that others have differing political and social views to my own, but I fear that American conservatism characterized by dishonesty and a total lack of integrity has made inroads among Canada’s conservatives.

Today, America is writhing in the midst of a political stalemate that has caused a partial shutdown of the federal government. Neither Trump nor the Democrat leaders in Congress are willing to blink. Meanwhile, thousands of federal workers find themselves used as political hostages who may lose their savings, their homes, and their peace of mind as a result. This is morally reprehensible!

Presupposing America can emerge from the next two years in one piece, will American voters elect leaders who will take steps to heal the nation and heal the broken relationships with the allies? Who can be certain? The divided house called America is frightening to behold. The fate of the free world hangs in the balance.

Thank  you so much for your perspective as one of our two closest neighbors, John!  I’m wondering if there are plans in the works in your own government to take steps, such as building a big, beautiful wall, to protect your southern border, for under our current circumstances, many of us may be fleeing to the north to escape political persecution here!

America In The Eyes Of The World — A Guest Post By Colette

Today I have another guest post in response to my plea for readers around the globe to share with us their views of the U.S. in today’s world.  Colette has generously taken the time to write a thoughtful analysis of how the U.S. fits … or doesn’t fit … with the rest of the world today, and how our policies and leadership have affected the rest of the world.  Thank you so much, Colette, for this excellent and sobering analysis!


How did America Lose its Way in the World?

The USA, for many decades, maintained leadership in the world of economics, politics and living standards.

In 2008, that all changed when a poor economy, during the end of the Bush administration, triggered job losses and foreclosures on newly purchased real estate. The Prime Rate Mortgage scheme unravelled spectacularly, as people walked away from their homes. Financial Institutions holding the debt load across the world, fell like dominoes, crippling the world economy. The Bush administration had allowed for a scandalous mortgage scheme to exist. Outrageously, Senator John McCain exonerated Republicans by falsely pinning the blame for the financial fallout on the Democrats. Trust was lost in America.

Then, the rise of Chinese, Russian, Brazilian, and Indian (BRIC) economies created the global financial growth once enjoyed by the USA. They, and the fifth member, South Africa, have developed enormously. These nations are forming stronger inter-development alliances with interested parties and no longer depend on the EU and the US economies for survival.

America, despite the best efforts of Barack Obama to rebuild confidence, has lost the respect of other nations. With the loss of trust in America, came the loss of safety for political allies. America was no longer a major player in the World. Barack Obama was unable to adequately rebuild those fractured relationships. There were no viable Democrats waiting in the ‘wings’ who had a definitive strategy for bringing back jobs and rebuilding the economic status that the American public wanted. A political void existed.

I don’t like Donald Trump. I read his ‘Art of the Deal’ when it was first published in 1987. It didn’t take me long to realise that the man could use spin to sell any abhorrent idea to anyone. I also noticed how he manipulated officials to win planning permission for constructing his ostentatious buildings.

I thought Donald Trump to be the perfect TV host of the American version of ‘The Apprentice.’ His bullying, bellow of ‘You’re Fired!’ to contestants was an accurate personification of his real self. Donald Trump is not the perfect man for the position of President of the United States.

Trump, fresh from his instant TV stardom, rode in like a cowboy with guns blazing. Mowing down friends and foes alike, he boasted to his TV audience, “We’re gonna Make America Great Again!” It was a terrible ‘John Wayne’ imitation, but it was enough to mobilise poor-town Americans into lifting their heads up from dusty bars across the Nation. They recognised Trump from his appearances on their living room screens as someone who knew business and how to make money. As a collective, they put their fists in the air and said, “Yeah, we’re gonna make America great again! They were not seemingly aware of the debts that Trump had incurred in his own dealings, nor of his use of tax avoidance and double dealing tactics.

My husband, a financial man for much of his working life, saw a visionary Donald Trump providing hope for a better economy. His view, was to give the man a chance! He tells me that Donald Trump, whether you like him or not, has made progress on his pre-election promises.

I don’t really think my husband knows Trump’s full history, nor do I think that he cares, so that may also be true of Trump’s many supporters.

Unfortunately, Donald Trump is full of old ideas, old philosophies, and old tricks. And he believes that he, ‘The Donald,’ is above the law, above the Constitution, and above any need to be diplomatic with other nations. He plays the Presidency as he did his own empire. He believes that his only hindrances are the Democrats and a few million Hispanics on his southern border. He does not personally like or feel any compassion for economic migrants because he is a covert racist and doesn’t want them in ‘his’ America.

The lack of trust in America has extended into the very real issue of world climate change. There is hesitation on global action as America, under Donald Trump’s instruction, has now left the bargaining ‘table.’ Other nations mumble verbal commitments, but their trust in American leadership has been abused yet again. Suspicion and hostility about how the Paris Agreement might work without US involvement has ground proceedings to a halt.

I watched a May 2018 interview with ‘Stephen Fry,’ a British actor. How did he see America today? He dropped his head saying, “Oh it’s terribly unfortunate! ” He also went on to say that Donald Trump used gangster and criminal tactics to force his agenda. He says Trump’s popularity is driven by ‘clickbait’ issues posted on social media, that is then reiterated over and over again, in televised news.

Stephen Fry also predicts that Donald Trump will run a second term, and so does my husband. Why? Because Donald Trump commands attention. He keeps his fingers working on his Twitter account so that he makes world news every day! A certain percentage of Americans see Donald Trump’s constant barrage of media blustering as ‘the real thing.’ They are fooled into believing that ‘America IS Great Again! ” So, they will vote him in again because Trump’s fake news fiasco is working!

Donald Trump tosses out outrageous propaganda which the media just gobbles up and feeds to us wholesale. Stephen Fry said that if nobody listened, and nobody clicked on the social media links, all the propaganda would disappear, and so would Donald Trump’s success.

Brits in general, feel that they hear far too much about American politics, especially during elections. And in truth, not many ordinary people on this side of the pond care what Donald Trump does, but those same people lap up the articles written about Trump because they reinforce some parallel issues that arise with Brexit.

Trump’s firings of his staff, the withdrawal of troops, the detention and degradation of migrants, the threat to keep the government in lock down, and his never-ending tirade about the ‘wall,’ all invoke fear. Trump hopes to trigger a state of emergency in a paralysed nation fearful of attack. These are the ‘plays’ of a man desperate to have the rest of the world take notice of America and see her power. Trump wants to build the economy using the steel industry to build the ‘wall’ and to create an arsenal of new weapons (in the event of a war that he will likely instigate). It is so unfortunate for the American people who must endure the consequences of the lies churned out by Trump. They may see the economy build, but it is not building for them.

The sinister side to all of this, is that Trump may eventually use his bullying tactics one too many times with China. It could backfire spectacularly in 2019 as a China/Russia alliance becomes a mega joint strategy against the perceived US threats. Donald Trump is playing with fire. His military commanders know it, and so do his allies. Other countries are quickly backing away from Trump’s influence as he drags the good citizens of America down a very dark black hole whilst chasing his own empire.

 ‘Trust’ and ‘Safety’ no longer exist in my vocabulary for describing Donald J. Trump’s America. And the consequences of Donald Trump’s flawed plans could herald a change of leadership on the political world stage. If so, it will not be the United States of America in that lead role.