Abandoning The World …

On Friday, Donald Trump announced that he would be pulling the United States out of the World Health Organization (WHO), effective immediately.  The thing is, Donald Trump is not a member of WHO … the United States is a member of WHO.  The United States is comprised of some 330 million people.  As one of those 330 million people, I reject his decision, made solely in his own head with no consultation by knowledgeable experts or the people of this country.  It is not right and proper for one ‘man’, a ‘man’ with substandard knowledge and substandard intellect, to make such a decision entirely on his own.  It is dangerous … extremely dangerous.  It is unfair to the people of not only this nation, but of the world.

Let me tell you a little bit about WHO.  The United Nations body was founded in 1948 with a mission to promote health around the world. The organization took on a swath of responsibilities, including managing the response to major global health priorities such as tuberculosis and malaria, as well as helping with access to health care around the world.  In its more than 70-year history, the WHO has tackled some of the world’s most pressing health issues, including emergencies. It helped eliminate smallpox and all but eliminate polio. It supports the administration of measles vaccines worldwide. More recently it played a role in the 2003 SARS outbreak, the 2009 H1N1 influenza outbreak and the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Granted, WHO has its difficulties and has been accused of not responding quickly enough to the current pandemic, as well as others in the past.  But, to simply walk away, to pull $400 million per year away from the organization, is a classic case of ‘throwing out the baby with the bathwater’.  It is like the couple with three children who are having some difficulties, and rather than work through the problems, one partner says, “I’m done, I’m divorcing you and I’m not paying child support!”  It is, in a word, unconscionable.  The problems within WHO could be worked through and resolved, but it takes effort, it takes cooperation among nations, and it takes willingness to compromise.

Other world leaders have been quick to state that they have no plans to follow Trump’s example, but the reality is that the U.S. is the biggest financial contributor to WHO and without that funding, what they can accomplish will be severely limited. WHO fundingDonald Trump, in pulling out of WHO, is putting the entire world at risk, and for only one reason that I can see.  He failed miserably at being a leader when the pandemic hit the U.S., and his failures have significantly reduced his approval rating … just a few short months before the November election.  As is Trump’s way, he must find someone else to blame, and in this case it is WHO.  He has turned the health and well-being of every person on the planet into a political tool to save his own carcass. Senator Chris Murphy says it well …

“It was never about reforming the WHO. That was all lies. It was always about distraction and scapegoating. Leaving castrates our ability to stop future pandemics and elevates China as the world’s go-to power on global health. What a nightmare.”

I am deeply disturbed by the number of international agreements Trump has pulled out of.  First, the Paris Climate Accords that are attempting to find ways to save the environment from the ravages caused by the industrialized nations of the world, of which the U.S. is the largest per capita ravager.  Then he pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal … an agreement that, by all accounts, was working well in keeping Iran from developing nuclear weapons.  He pulled out of the United Nations Human Rights Council, an organization tasked with protecting human rights around the globe.  In all, he has pulled this nation out of more than a dozen international agreements, leaving not only the U.S. vulnerable, but the rest of the world as well.  There was a time that the U.S. was called the “leader of the free world”, but today, I’m not sure we are even a part of the free world, thanks to Donald Trump and his megalomania.   It seems as if Trump wishes us to be so isolated that we are not even a part of the larger world … this is a frightening scenario.  It is my hope that next January, we will quickly re-join these international groups that are trying to keep the world safe, that we will once again become part of the world.

I would urge Congress to stand up, do their job, and stop Trump’s utter madness, but … as we all know, the republicans in Congress are no longer our representatives, but rather Trump’s yes-men, thereby rendering Congress ineffective.  I would urge the people in this country, the ones who still care about people, to write letters to their representatives and senators protesting this unconscionable move by Trump, but again … our letters would be put through the shredders on Capitol Hill.  In short, we have lost our voices and will only have one last chance to exercise our will … on November 3rd.

U.S. Isolationism: Then and Now — A Guest Post by John Fioravanti

Earlier this week, after Trump spoke to the United Nations General Assembly, and later the Security Council, I asked our Canadian friend, John Fioravanti, if he would be interested in doing a guest post from the perspective of how Trump’s “America First” isolationist policy will affect the rest of the world.  He did me the honour of accepting my request, and so, without further ado, I turn this stage over to John …

U.S. Isolationism: Then and Now

john fioravantiI thank Jill Dennison for her generous invitation to host me on her amazing blog site. Every day I read and enjoy Jill’s posts because she always gives her readers food for thought. I hope my offering below will do the same.
Those of us living outside the USA know how dangerous American isolationism is to world peace and prosperity. The current Trump administration is determined to turn the clock back more than a century in the realms of both domestic and foreign policy. The President emphatically denounced ‘globalism’ in his address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 25th this year. As a retired high school history teacher in Canada, I’d like to enlarge on my first statement that U.S. isolationism is a very dangerous path to follow.

Tuesday, President Trump addressed the United Nations General Assembly.

Some historians would argue that the United States was the most powerful nation on the planet in 1900 but no one knew that yet – not even the Americans themselves. While the great European powers of the day were engaged in a struggle for supremacy and jockeying for the most advantageous position by way of formal alliances, America remained entrenched in her isolationism. Her only concern with the looming European conflict was how it would impact trade and her own economy. Attacks on American shipping by German U-boats in European coastal waters roused the U.S. Congress to declare war in 1917. President Wilson understood that America needed to adopt a global perspective in foreign policy and suggested the creation of the League of Nations at the end of World War I. The idea was embraced by the Allies but the U.S. Congress turned their backs on the world by refusing to ratify the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. Without American participation, the League was doomed to failure. The rise of Hitler, the fall of France, and near-defeat of Britain were not enough to compel Congress to emerge from the comfortable cocoon of isolationism. No, it took a direct attack on U.S. territory in Hawaii by Japan to trigger American entry into World War II in 1941. The costs of that war in blood and money were monumental – not to mention the unleashing of two atomic bombs in 1945 that brought Japan to its knees and ushered in the age of nuclear deterrence. I do not blame the American people for the horrors of these wars – that would be preposterous. However, I do blame the idea of isolationism. The United Nations was established at the end of World War II and survives to this day. It’s main mandate was and is still to prevent a third world war. If America had turned its back on the idea of isolationism in 1919, or America First as it is styled today, would the League of Nations have failed to maintain peace in Europe? We’ll never know, of course, but it is a chilling question nonetheless. For the next seventy-one years after World War II, America turned her back on isolationism and took on the mantle of the global policeman. Her newly-minted atomic weapons gave her the military authority. In 1945 American military power was awe-inspiring and unprecedented in world history. American wealth rebuilt western Europe from the shambles of warfare in order to shore up her Allies. The United Nations, headquartered in New York, became the embodiment of the ascendance of globalism in human affairs. Over the next several decades, the UN established World Courts to bring war criminals to justice all over the globe. The Security Council embraced a Canadian suggestion to create Peacekeepers in order to keep opposing military forces separated in areas of crisis until diplomacy could establish solutions. UN agencies were created to address human suffering from natural disasters as well as from the devastation of local wars. The UN took the lead in supporting policies of freedom and equality throughout the world by taking strong stands against discrimination suffered by women and the LGBT communities. The UN evolved from just a tool to avert another world war to a force for fairness and justice in every aspect of living in the modern world. Isolationism is an ugly policy. It turns a blind eye to the evil that is perpetrated outside of its national borders. In other words, your suffering is none of my business. I am not my brother’s keeper. This is not to say that the American people are ugly. They are not. I have lived beside the United States all of my life and consider us to be like brothers and sisters. Like all siblings, we have our differences, arguments, even fights. Unfortunately, Trump has allowed his distaste for Justin Trudeau to play itself out in the worst way. That is ugly. In a little under two years, the Trump administration has bullied and alienated America’s allies. Trump berated NATO leaders about their levels of contributions to the alliance after President Obama had negotiated a process for those contributions to be increased over time. Many of these same allies are also America’s best trading partners. Trump decided that these partners were treating America unfairly and hammered them with tariffs. He used the same bullying tactics with Mexico and Canada in the talks to update the NAFTA treaty. When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada would not be bullied by American tariffs, Trump retorted with rhetoric normally reserved for enemy countries. American policies in the Middle East have served to further destabilize an already dangerous part of the world.

Trudeau makes a point while talking to Trump at G7 Summit.

As America withdraws from her traditional role as leader of the free world and alienates her allies, one doesn’t have to look too far into the past to see a likely outcome. America First is driving anti-immigration policy in the Trump administration as well. The people who are being barred from entering the land of freedom and opportunity are refugees from the Middle East, Central America, and South American countries where life has become unbearably dangerous. Trump’s policies are hurting a lot of good people around the world. History has also proved that restricting immigration is self-defeating since many immigrants and children of immigrants have made significant contributions to the growth of technological innovation and the overall economy in the United States.

Steve Jobs, co-founder of the Apple computer, son of a Syrian political science professor.


Many thanks, John, for your words of wisdom … keep that pencil handy, for I may want another soon!  Meanwhile, I have an open stage here and would love to hear from some of my other friends outside the U.S.: Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany … please let me know if you’re interested in contributing a post from your perspective!

And The World Laughed …

From the time I was born in 1951 until present, I see today as perhaps the darkest hour in the United States.   We should … every one of us … hang our heads in shame that we not only elected Donald Trump, but that he is allowed to remain in office and has the support of some 35% – 40% of the people.  Today, he took this nation down what is certain to be a very perilous path, a path apart from our allies, a path lined with brambles and briars.

This morning, Donald Trump stood before the United Nations General Assembly and started with …

“In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country. America is so thrilled.”

The entire General Assembly broke into laughter.

We, my friends, for the first time in the history of this country, are the laughingstock of the entire globe.  Do you want to hear the ultimate irony, though?  In 2014, read what Trump tweeted:Trump-tweet-laughingstockSay WHAT???  

But in addition to being pompous, Trump made it clear that he does not intend the U.S. to participate in the initiatives of the U.N. and that the U.S. would not support the U.N. Global Compact on migration.  A few pertinent snippets from his speech:

  • “America is governed by Americans. We reject the ideology of globalism and accept the ideology of patriotism.”
  • “… America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, and I honor the right of every nation in this room to pursue its own customs, beliefs and traditions. The United States will not tell you how to live, work, or worship. We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return.”
  • “… we will not allow our workers to be victimized, our companies to be cheated, and our wealth to be plundered and transferred. America will never apologize for protecting its citizens. The United States has just announced tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese made goods. The total so far of $250 billion.”
  • “… the United States will provide no support and recognition for the International Criminal Court. As far as we are concerned the ICC has no legitimacy or authority. The ICC claims near universal jurisdiction over the citizens of every country, violating all principles of justice, fairness and due process.” (Note: he is so very wrong, and I will be doing a separate post about this issue at some point in the future)

Well, you get the general idea.  Trump alone will decide what’s good for America and let everyone else be damned.  And what Trump has decided is good for us is to be isolated completely from the rest of the world, to have no allies, only a bombastic, hot-headed, ignorant and dishonest leader.

In 1941, the combination of the Great Depression and the memory of tragic losses in World War I contributed to pushing American public opinion and policy toward isolationism. U.S. citizens did not wish our nation to become embroiled in the war that was taking place on the other side of the world.  People in this country wore blinders, thinking that if we just didn’t take sides, stayed home and minded our own business, all would be well here in the U.S.  After all, it wasn’t our problem, right?  And then came 07 December 1941, and it very quickly became our problem when Japanese planes attacked our military base on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

You can wear your blinders, put in your earplugs and ignore the neighbor’s fight … until a bullet comes through your wall and strikes one of your children.  But we live in communities, and whether we like it or not, we are a part of the community we live in.  What happens in that community affects us.  That is the small scale, but the same concept holds true on a much larger scale.

Donald Trump and others, particularly within the Republican Party, have convinced a large portion of the people in this nation that ‘globalization’ is a bad thing, and that it is something we have a choice to participate in … or not.  All of which is a lie.  We live, like it or not, in a world that is increasingly shrinking due to technology.  The Internet has made instantaneous communication possible.  Air travel has made it possible to go from New York to Paris in approximately seven hours instead of the days it used to take by ship.  International trade promotes global economic growth; creates jobs, makes companies more competitive, and lowers prices for consumers.  And nuclear weapons have made the world a very dangerous place.

Certainly, there are downsides to globalization, BUT … it isn’t an option!  Trump appears to see his “America First” policy, which would more aptly be called “America Only”, as a viable option that he has a choice about, but he takes us down a perilous path.  When Trump took office on 20 January 2017, the United States had allies, and we engaged in global cooperation.  It is a process of give-and-take … sometimes you give more than you receive, other times the opposite is true.  In the long run, it balances out, and most importantly, you have allies that you can count on to come to your defense, as you will do theirs, in times of trouble.

In under two years, Trump has destroyed those alliances.  He has denigrated the leaders of our closest allies, Canada & Mexico, has insulted UK Prime Minister Theresa May, and also the leaders of most every nation in the EU, most especially German Chancellor Angela Merkel.  If Iran declared war on us tomorrow, I’m not sure that any of those nations would be eager to come to our aid.  They would, because they have committed to do so, but not gladly, as they once would have.  We are on a very perilous path, and we are on it alone, for the rest of the developed world is laughing from afar.  I am ashamed, I am embarrassed, and I see a very dark future if this ‘man’ is not reigned in very soon.  Please, folks, vote the boot-lickers out in November and let’s put some people with brains and consciences back into Congress next year.  Let us stop earning the title, Laughingstock of the Planet Earth.Laughing-earth

On Promises …

What is a promise and how important is it?  I rarely make promises … never, unless I am reasonably certain that, barring any unforeseen catastrophic event, I will be able to keep that promise.  Because I live by this standard, my family & friends know that a promise from me has value, is not an empty promise.  A promise, to me, is a symbol of my honour, of my word.  To break a promise is a breach of trust, and trust is important to me.  I find that trust is one of those things that has a very tenuous thread, and once broken, is never fully restored.

With that said, however, promises ought to be right and just.  If I promise Miss Goose that from now on, every meal will consist only of sweet treats, it is a foolish promise, I am a fool for making it, and she is the bigger fool for believing it.  It would be a promise to harm her, as it were, to make her less healthy.  It is what I think of as a negative promise, one that does harm … in other words, a threat.

On the campaign trail from June 2015 to present, Donald Trump made a number of promises to his Kool-Aid-drinking minions.  He promised to build a wall to keep out immigrants on the southern U.S.-Mexican border.  He promised immigration reform and to keep out Muslims.  He promised to undo basically everything that President Obama had done – good, bad or neutral.  He promised to undo the non-existent “war on coal” and bring back jobs in the coal mining industry.  Let’s take a closer look at a couple of Trump’s more egregious promises, or threats, as it were, see where they stand and assess whether they have helped or harmed the nation.

One of the first ones that comes to my mind is his ‘promise’ to repeal ACA, commonly referred to as ‘Obamacare’.  I’d just like to point out that little word ‘care’ in there.  Well, Trump was unsuccessful, thanks to Senators John McCain, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins.  However, he has chinked away at ACA by way of executive order, to the point that by the end of this year, there will be several million people without insurance, without access to affordable health care — people who were covered before Trump took office.  The latest assault on ACA came just two days ago, when Trump ordered the halting of billions of dollars of payments designed to help insurers meet the Affordable Care Act requirement that they provide coverage regardless of whether a person is healthy or sick.

Insurers say this move will result in higher premiums for millions of people.  For most of those millions of people, higher premiums mean they will have no choice but to drop their insurance.  It will also lead to insurance companies refusing customers who have pre-existing conditions, else setting the premiums out of reach to such individuals.  Why?  Because Donald Trump made a promise to his base.  Now, never mind that his base will be negatively affected by his keeping of this particular promise as much as any of us.  Frankly, sorry folks, I don’t want to sound cruel, but I will choke on my coffee as I laugh uproariously when I hear the first republican whine and wheedle about not being able to afford her medicine, or having to pay $300 just to see her primary care physician!  ‘Welcome to my world’, I will say!

Let’s talk taxes, shall we?

Trump made a number of tax-related promise/threats.  The first was that he would cut corporate income taxes from 35% to 15%.  Well, he failed in that promise and was only able to cut them down to 21% … do I hear an “awwwwww”?  Another part of his illustrious tax plan was to allow Americans to deduct child care and elder care from their taxes.  Well, folks, sorry to tell you but that one went by the wayside.  Along the same lines, he promised to create tax-free dependent care savings accounts for young and elderly dependents.  Nope, not even on the docket.  Oh … here’s one … he promised to provide matching contributions for low-income families to the dependent care savings accounts!  Nope, not a snowball’s chance in hell.  But what about the one where he promised to incentivize employers to provide on-site child-care services?  Sorry, sucker!  But hey!  Those big corporations got their 14% tax cut, and you know that since they have such big hearts and good intentions, all of that lovely money will ‘trickle down’ to us little folk, right? evil laughBriefly, a few of his other “promises”.  He promised to …

  • Enact new ethics reforms to reduce the corrupting influence of special interests. Um … ethics schmethics.  He has, among his administration, some of the most corrupt individuals in the history of the U.S.  Think Scott Pruitt.  Jared Kushner.  Ivanka Trump. Trump himself.  And the list goes on … and on …
  • Make two- and four-year college more affordable. Trump’s budget contains deep cuts in aid for low-income and first-generation college students. The budget would eliminate the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program, a 50-year-old program, for a savings of $732 million, which goes to more than a million poor college kids each year. The budget would also reduce Federal Work Study “significantly” though no dollar figure was given. The tax bill that Trump signed raised taxes on four-year universities. How is any of this making college more affordable???
  • Establish tariffs to discourage companies from laying off their workers in order to relocate in other countries and ship their products back to the U.S. tax-free. Well, he established tariffs alright, but the results are the exact opposite of what he promised.  Companies are already beginning to lay off workers, and considering moving operations overseas – think Harley Davidson for starters.

For a more complete list, check out the Trump Promise Tracker in The Washington Post  .  Although it isn’t quite up to date (April 2018) it is the best I’ve found so far.

In short, Trump made some 60+ ‘promises’ to the people of this nation. A handful would have been to the benefit of the people, but those he did not even attempt to keep.  The rest were threats.  The threat to take away healthcare from those of us who are not wealthy.  The threat to decrease corporate taxes, thereby decreasing the nation’s revenue, increasing both debt and deficit, and leaving the rest of us without much needed services that can no longer be funded.  The threat to put “America First”, which has isolated us from our allies, put us in danger of a trade war, and proven to the world that we cannot be trusted to keep our word (Paris Accord, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership, etc.).

Promises should be kept.  Unless they are the wrong thing, made for all the wrong reasons, but then they are not promises, they are threats.  Trust is earned.  Loyalty is earned.  Need I say more?

Make America Alone

Once again, our friend Keith is spot on in his assessment about Trump’s current trend to leave us completely devoid of allies. Please take a minute to read … thank you, Keith, for your excellent assessment and permission to share!

musingsofanoldfart

Unless you are on a diet or workout regimen, you cannot shrink to greatness. Yet, that is precisely the path America is on under the leadership of a man who announces his intent to make the country great again. Instead, he is pursuing a path of making America alone.

Jim Melville, the US ambassador to Estonia announced his resignation last week. Ambassador Melville, a 33 year state department veteran who has served under six Presidents, four of them Republucan, cited his reasons on Facebook. He said he could not support a President who has belittled NATO comparing it to NAFTA and saying it was formed to tap the American piggy bank. He also noted the President’s attack on the European Union as shameful.

Melville is not a lone voice. Other long service ambassadors have departed under this regime and there are a scary number of open diplomat positions. I have…

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Two Western Leaders came to Washington

Last week, the U.S. hosted the leaders of France and Germany. Our friend Keith has written an excellent post, assessing those visits and how different the current U.S. policies are from those of Macron & Merkel. Please take a few minutes to read and think about the direction we are heading, as opposed to most of the rest of the Western nations. Thank you, Keith, for this thoughtful post.

musingsofanoldfart

Last week, the two leaders of the western world met with the US President, who has ceded the US role in the world. Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, and Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany visited with Donald Trump.

Of course, the US has the most powerful military in the world. We’d better as we spend far more than other countries. Yet, with our pulling back on diplomacy and the number of diplomats, with our imposition of tariffs on even our allies, with our retrenching from global agreements and with an unprecedented level of untruthfulness, we have ceded our global leadership role to China, overall, and Germany and France in the western world. And, while the UK remains important and formidable, I am sad to say Brexit will precipitate its decline from these ranks.

Macron and Merkel beseeched the US President to remain in the Iran Nuclear deal signed…

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A Most Deserving Recipient — Senator John McCain

On Monday night, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Senator John McCain received the Liberty Medal, and I cannot think of a more deserving person for this honour.  The Liberty Medal is awarded annually by the National Constitution Center to men and women of courage and conviction who have strived to secure the blessings of liberty to people the world over. The Medal’s roster of recipients includes many of the men, women, and organizations that have shaped and guided the world through the past two decades, including Nelson Mandela, Sandra Day O’Connor, Kofi Annan, Shimon Peres, and Colin Powell. Last year’s medal was awarded, appropriately, to U.S. Representative John Lewis for his “courageous dedication to civil rights”.

Former Vice-President Joe Biden, Chairman of the National Constitution Center’s Board of Trustees, awarded the medal.  McCain and Biden go back a few decades or more, and the banter between the two was easy …

McCain: Thank you, Joe, my old, dear friend, for those mostly undeserved kind words. Vice President Biden and I have known each other for a lot of years now, more than forty, if you’re counting. We knew each other back when we were young and handsome and smarter than everyone else but were too modest to say so. Joe was already a senator, and I was the Navy’s liaison to the Senate. My duties included escorting senate delegations on overseas trips, and in that capacity, I supervised the disposition of the delegation’s luggage, which could require – now and again – when no one of lower rank was available for the job – that I carry someone worthy’s bag. Once or twice that worthy turned out to be the young senator from Delaware.  I’ve resented it ever since.

Biden: The son of a gun never carried my bags. He was supposed to carry my bags; he never carried my bags.

Biden-McCain

And then came McCain’s acceptance speech. I initially planned to provide only some excerpts, but as I read and re-read the speech, I found I could not choose, for the speech is exceptional … humble, meaningful, and important in its entirety. And so, my apologies for the length, but I think is well worth reading and pondering:

“Joe has heard me joke about that before. I hope he has heard, too, my profession of gratitude for his friendship these many years. It has meant a lot to me. We served in the Senate together for over twenty years, during some eventful times, as we passed from young men to the fossils who appear before you this evening.

We didn’t always agree on the issues. We often argued – sometimes passionately. But we believed in each other’s patriotism and the sincerity of each other’s convictions. We believed in the institution we were privileged to serve in. We believed in our mutual responsibility to help make the place work and to cooperate in finding solutions to our country’s problems. We believed in our country and in our country’s indispensability to international peace and stability and to the progress of humanity. And through it all, whether we argued or agreed, Joe was good company. Thank you, old friend, for your company and your service to America.

Thank you, too, to the National Constitution Center, and everyone associated with it for this award. Thank you for that video, and for the all too generous compliments paid to me this evening. I’m aware of the prestigious company the Liberty Medal places me in. I’m humbled by it, and I’ll try my best not to prove too unworthy of it.

Some years ago, I was present at an event where an earlier Liberty Medal recipient spoke about America’s values and the sacrifices made for them. It was 1991, and I was attending the ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The World War II veteran, estimable patriot and good man, President George H.W. Bush, gave a moving speech at the USS Arizona memorial. I remember it very well. His voice was thick with emotion as he neared the end of his address. I imagine he was thinking not only of the brave Americans who lost their lives on December 7, 1941, but of the friends he had served with and lost in the Pacific where he had been the Navy’s youngest aviator.

‘Look at the water here, clear and quiet …’ he directed, ‘One day, in what now seems another lifetime, it wrapped its arms around the finest sons any nation could ever have, and it carried them to a better world.’

He could barely get out the last line, ‘May God bless them, and may God bless America, the most wondrous land on earth.’

The most wondrous land on earth, indeed. I’ve had the good fortune to spend sixty years in service to this wondrous land. It has not been perfect service, to be sure, and there were probably times when the country might have benefited from a little less of my help. But I’ve tried to deserve the privilege as best I can, and I’ve been repaid a thousand times over with adventures, with good company, and with the satisfaction of serving something more important than myself, of being a bit player in the extraordinary story of America. And I am so very grateful.

What a privilege it is to serve this big, boisterous, brawling, intemperate, striving, daring, beautiful, bountiful, brave, magnificent country. With all our flaws, all our mistakes, with all the frailties of human nature as much on display as our virtues, with all the rancor and anger of our politics, we are blessed.

We are living in the land of the free, the land where anything is possible, the land of the immigrant’s dream, the land with the storied past forgotten in the rush to the imagined future, the land that repairs and reinvents itself, the land where a person can escape the consequences of a self-centered youth and know the satisfaction of sacrificing for an ideal, the land where you can go from aimless rebellion to a noble cause, and from the bottom of your class to your party’s nomination for president.

We are blessed, and we have been a blessing to humanity in turn. The international order we helped build from the ashes of world war, and that we defend to this day, has liberated more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. This wondrous land has shared its treasures and ideals and shed the blood of its finest patriots to help make another, better world. And as we did so, we made our own civilization more just, freer, more accomplished and prosperous than the America that existed when I watched my father go off to war on December 7, 1941.

To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.

We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil. We are the custodians of those ideals at home, and their champion abroad. We have done great good in the world. That leadership has had its costs, but we have become incomparably powerful and wealthy as we did. We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don’t. We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn’t deserve to.

I am the luckiest guy on earth. I have served America’s cause – the cause of our security and the security of our friends, the cause of freedom and equal justice – all my adult life. I haven’t always served it well. I haven’t even always appreciated what I was serving. But among the few compensations of old age is the acuity of hindsight. I see now that I was part of something important that drew me along in its wake even when I was diverted by other interests. I was, knowingly or not, along for the ride as America made the future better than the past.

And I have enjoyed it, every single day of it, the good ones and the not so good ones. I’ve been inspired by the service of better patriots than me. I’ve seen Americans make sacrifices for our country and her causes and for people who were strangers to them but for our common humanity, sacrifices that were much harder than the service asked of me. And I’ve seen the good they have done, the lives they freed from tyranny and injustice, the hope they encouraged, the dreams they made achievable.

May God bless them. May God bless America, and give us the strength and wisdom, the generosity and compassion, to do our duty for this wondrous land, and for the world that counts on us. With all its suffering and dangers, the world still looks to the example and leadership of America to become, another, better place. What greater cause could anyone ever serve.

Thank you again for this honor. I’ll treasure it.”

One does not have to always agree with Senator McCain’s ideas to respect him as a patriot, a member of Congress, and most importantly, a human being.  I say a big “Thank You” to Senator John McCain.

*Donald Trump threatened to “fight back” against McCain for this speech.  I will have more on that later today.

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Half of America

No man is an island,

Entire of itself,

Every man is a piece of the continent,

A part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea,

Europe is the less.

As well as if a promontory were.

As well as if a manor of thy friend’s

Or of thine own were:

Any man’s death diminishes me,

Because I am involved in mankind,

And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;

It tolls for thee.

– John Donne

Yesterday, Americans had a choice.  Almost equally divided, half of America chose to bring to a close 240 years of a mostly great nation.  Half of America spoke and here is what they said:

  • We no longer wish to be a part of the larger world, but rather we wish to be an island. On our island, we wish to have only people with very pale skin, Aryans, so to speak.  On our island, we wish to have only those who believe in the same God as we do. We wish to expel all those who believe, think or look differently than we do by whatever means are necessary to achieve our goal of an all-white, Protestant, Anglo-Saxon, heterosexual population.
  • We no longer wish to spend our time and resources to help other people, but to attend only to our own comfort. We no longer wish to pay taxes to ensure that those less fortunate than us can feed, clothe and shelter their families. In the words of Marie Antoinette, “let them eat cake!” We no longer care whether people who are sick can get medical attention.  We have too many people on earth using our precious resources as it is – let the sick people die for all we care.
  • We no longer value human life. Although we plan to abandon much of the U.S. Constitution in favour of a more authoritarian form of government and a more elitist society, we will continue to expand our 2nd Amendment rights. We do not intend to have restrictions on the possession of, not only firearms, but any other weapon. We believe that each of our lives are more important than any other, and we will be armed wherever and whenever we so choose.
  • We no longer wish to participate in our government, but rather we prefer a dictator to make all decisions for us. Participation in the decisions of government require effort on our part, require that we read and learn about pesky issues such as the economy, infrastructure, and foreign affairs.  We prefer to leave such things to the men at the top so that we may spend our days watching Duck Dynasty and gossiping on social media.
  • We no longer care about preserving the earth and the environment for future generations. Rather, we think of ourselves as the ‘now generation’.  Who knows what will happen in the next century, decade, or even tomorrow, so we shall live for today and let future generations worry about themselves.  We consider it an inconvenience to be told to turn our thermostat down, or to drive our cars less.  Our comfort is paramount.
  • We no longer believe in the importance of education. We are tired of our tax dollars being spent to send our children to schools where they are not even taught the values we believe in, but rather are taught such frivolous things as environmental science, history and the like.  We are tired of our young people being taught to think for themselves in colleges and universities – we prefer that their minds remain closed to outside ideas.
  • We no longer believe that women should be considered equal to men, but rather that they exist solely for the comfort and convenience of men. We believe that a woman’s place is in the home, not above some imaginary glass ceiling making decisions that men are more capable of making. We no longer wish there to be laws to suppress a man’s natural inclination toward women, and further, we will henceforth allow men to make all decisions about a woman’s body.
  • We no longer wish to be a nation that supports equality or promotes financial security for all. We do not believe that wealthy people should be obligated to share their wealth, nor to pay taxes in accordance with their wealth.  We believe that wealthy people are special and that they have been chosen to rule our nation, to make the decisions for us so that we do not need to think for ourselves. We no longer support minimum wage laws, nor will we continue to support such programs as Social Security and Medicare.
  • We no longer wish to trade goods and services with other nations. We wish to produce what we need here in the U.S., keep our products in the U.S., and we do not wish to import goods and services from other nations.  Our new motto will be ‘self-sufficiency’. We no longer wish to see cheap clothing from Taiwan, or Christmas ornaments made in China.
  • In sum, we no longer wish to be the United States of America of yore. We no longer support the values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all, but only for ourselves. We no longer care about people who are struggling, but only ourselves.  We no longer wish to concern ourselves with the world as a whole.  Other nations will no longer be able to rely on our friendship, and we no longer wish to have friends outside our own borders. We believe ourselves to be a race superior to all others and we no longer need to have tolerance for any who are different than us.  Those who do not wish to live in our new nation have exactly 72 days to ‘shape up or ship out.’

And those are the values, if one can call them values at all, that will define the nation after January 20, 2017.  To the half of America that made this choice, I say only that I hope you will be happy with the results of your choice, but I suspect that you will not.  When you realize the consequences of what you have chosen, be very, very quiet, because the other half of us will not wish to hear your lament, nor will we be quick to empathize with your plight. As the old saying goes, ‘you made your bed, now you have to lie in it’.  To the half of us who tried to do the right thing … I send hugs, love, and a hope that we can survive whatever comes next.

Note to readers:  I realize the tone of this post is sardonic and negative, and I apologize, but I needed to say what I said.  Bear with me, please, while I find my new direction.