Missing Words …

I simply cannot find my words today.   I don’t remember where I left them when I went to bed last night … er, this morning … and I’ve called and whistled for them, but no words are forthcoming.  However, John Oliver does not have any problem finding his, and he has graciously agreed to fill in for Filosofa today with words that are wiser and more informed than mine would have been, even if they had come out of hiding.

Seriously, though … this clip, while it is nearly 18 minutes long, is well worth watching as he assesses the current situation here in the U.S. and quite effectively puts to rest the rumours and conspiracy theories that are being spread by Trump and his nasty cohorts even faster than the coronavirus pandemic.  I do hope you’ll take the time to watch this from start to finish … it is well worth the time … plus there is a glint of much-needed humour.

Musings From The Rabbit Hole — Unity

Joe Biden, who will take the Oath of Office in just 67 days, has promised to try to unify the people of this country … unlike the current occupant of the Oval Office who has done nothing but divide us.  I applaud that effort, and until yesterday I naively thought it might just be possible.  I still hope that it can be done … certainly if anybody can, Biden is among the best candidates to do so.  But today I have my doubts.  I don’t want to be negative or a naysayer, for we all need all the hope we can find, but I am nothing if not a pragmatist, a realist. Yesterday as I perused the news, considered what was happening, it occurred to me that a large number – about half – of the people in this nation do not want unity, but rather thrive on division and chaos.

Certainly, there have always been political divisions in this country and always will be, for we are a nation of humans, but what we are experiencing now goes beyond ideological differences and into the arena of personal hatred.  This “Reign of Cruelty” as I term the past four years, has changed us, has made us more willing to accept things that we once abhorred.  It has made us less human.

I hate that it has boiled down to Republican vs Democrat and the language of hate, the finger-pointing, the blame game is always … always the fault of everyone who identifies with one party or another.  I, too, have been guilty of saying, “The republicans only want …” or “The republicans are the cause of …”, and it’s not something I’m proud of, but admittedly it will likely happen again, for I am human.

Today, thousands of people are gathered in Washington to … what?  I’m not sure what they hope to accomplish, but they are protesting the results of the election, results that clearly prove Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States. They are parroting Trump’s false claim that the election has been ‘stolen’, that there was massive voter fraud, even though this has been disproven.  They’ve brought their guns, they’ve brought their Proud Boys, their maga hats, their Trump banners, and while so far nobody has been killed, I won’t be surprised if there is violence and death before the day is done.

I am neither a democrat nor a republican, but for the past twenty years or so, I have found nothing particularly valuable in the republican platform, while I do support the same sorts of things the Democratic Party supports, things like providing affordable health care for everyone, women’s rights, equal rights for the LGBT community, equal opportunities for people of all colours and religions in such areas as housing and employment.  I support raising the minimum wage, workplace safety, and perhaps most importantly, taking care of the planet that we have long neglected.

The pandemic perfectly highlights the differences between the two ‘sides’ in this nation.  We cannot even agree to protect each other from a deadly virus, cannot agree on something so simple as wearing a mask in public, else staying home.  If we cannot agree on even that, how can we possibly come to terms on such things as environmental regulations, universal health care, and ending systemic racism?

This nation was founded on freedom of religion, which also means freedom from religion, and yet today a growing portion of the population believes that their religious beliefs ought to be the basis of the laws that we must all live under, even those of us who do not share their beliefs.  This only further divides us … wars have been fought over this very thing, but we fail to learn the lessons of history.

The effort to unify will require compromise, and I just don’t see a willingness among the people of this nation to budge so much as an inch, let alone meet the other side at the halfway mark.  What will it take to bring the people of this nation together, united in a common goal?  Will it take bombs being dropped on us by an outside entity?  Will it take the deaths of half the people in the nation before we open our eyes and realize that we cannot keep killing each other?

Can we possibly set aside our vitriol and hate for a moment and think about the things we have in common?  Or do we still have anything in common?  I think we do … we all love our families and want the best for them, we just don’t agree on what is the best or how to achieve it.  We all have certain basic needs such as food, water, shelter, and breathable air … we just don’t agree on how to achieve those things.  We all want our children to have a good education … we just don’t agree on what, exactly, that is.  So yes, we have much in common, but we view it from different perspectives.  All of which would be fine, if we respected each other, respected others’ viewpoints and agreed to compromise.  Instead, we try to shove our views down the throats of others.

If you’re waiting for me to tell you how we can fix this … don’t hold your breath, for I have no idea.  I only hope that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are far wiser than I and can make decisions and policies that will help narrow what I refer to as the Great Divide.

What’s Next?

Okay folks … we’ve danced in the streets, popped the champagne corks and celebrated Joe Biden’s win in the presidential election.

Now it’s time to get serious, for what lies ahead is a 73-day transition period that presents a number of pitfalls & perils, given the contentious nature of the incumbent and his loyal lapdogs.  We need to prepare ourselves to survive these next two-and-a-half months with our country and our sanity relatively intact.

In his column today, Robert Reich tells us what we can likely expect over the coming weeks leading up to inauguration day.  I have no doubt that despite all of Trump’s machinations, temper tantrums and legal challenges, Joe Biden will take office on January 20th, but what happens between now and then, and even beyond?  Let’s hear what Reich has to say …


How can Biden heal America when Trump doesn’t want it healed?

The nearest thing America has had to a dictator is beaten but unbowed. He will disgrace the national scene for some time yet

Robert Reich-4Robert Reich

It’s over. Donald Trump is history.

For millions of Americans – a majority, by almost 5 million popular votes – it’s a time for celebration and relief. Trump’s cruelty, vindictiveness, non-stop lies, corruption, rejection of science, chaotic incompetence, and gross narcissism brought out the worst in America. He tested the limits of American decency and democracy. He is the closest we have come to a dictator.

Democracy has had a reprieve, a stay of execution. We have another chance to preserve it, and restore what’s good about America.

It will not be easy. The social fabric is deeply torn. Joe Biden will inherit a pandemic far worse than it would have been had Trump not played it down and refused to take responsibility for containing it, and an economic crisis exacting an unnecessary toll.

The worst legacy of Trump’s term of office is a bitterly divided America.

Judging by the number of ballots cast in the election, Trump’s base of support is roughly 70 million. They were angry even before the election (as were Biden supporters). Now, presumably, they are angrier.

The nation was already divided when Trump became president – by race and ethnicity, region, education, national origin, religion, and class. But he exploited these divisions to advance himself. He didn’t just pour salt into our wounds. He planted grenades in them.

It is a vile legacy. Although Americans have strongly disagreed over what we want the government to do, we at least agreed to be bound by its decisions. This meta-agreement required enough social trust for us to regard the views and interests of those we disagree with as equally worthy of consideration as our own. But Trump continuously sacrificed that trust to feed his own monstrous ego.

Elections usually end with losing candidates congratulating winners and graciously accepting defeat, thereby demonstrating their commitment to the democratic system over the particular outcome they fought to achieve.

But there will be no graciousness from Trump, nor a concession. He is incapable of either.

He will be president for another two and a half months. He is still charging that the election was stolen from him, mounting legal challenges and demanding recounts, maneuvers that could prevent states from meeting the legal deadline of December 8th for choosing electors.

If he continues, America could find itself in a situation similar to what it faced in 1876, when claims about ballot fraud forced a special electoral commission to decide the winner, just two days before the inauguration.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump refuses to attend Biden’s inauguration and stages a giant rally instead.

He’ll send firestorms of aggrieved messages to his followers – questioning Biden’s legitimacy and urging that they refuse to recognize his presidency. This will be followed by months of rallies and tweets containing even more outlandish charges: plots against Trump and America by Biden, Nancy Pelosi, “deep-state” bureaucrats, “socialists,” immigrants, Muslims, or any other of his standard foes.

It could go on for years, Trump keeping the nation’s attention, remaining the center of controversy and divisiveness, sustaining his followers in perpetual fury, titillating them with the possibility he might run again in 2024, making it harder for Biden to do any of the national healing he’s promised and the nation so desperately needs.

How can Biden heal the nation when Trump doesn’t want it healed?

The media (including Twitter, Facebook, and even Fox News) could help. They have begun to call out Trump’s lies in real time and cut off his press conferences, practices that should have started years ago. Let’s hope they continue to tag his lies and otherwise ignore him – a fitting end to a reality TV president who tried to turn America into a reality warzone.

But the responsibility for healing America falls to all of us.

For starters, we’d do well to recognize and honor the selflessness we have observed during this trying time – starting with tens of thousands of election workers who have worked long hours under difficult and sometimes dangerous circumstances.

Add to them the hospital workers across the nation saving lives from the scourge of Covid-19; the thousands of fire fighters in the west and the emergency responders on the Gulf coast battling the consequences of climate change; the civil servants getting unemployment checks out to millions of jobless Americans; social workers dealing with family crises in the wake of evictions and other hardships; armies of volunteers doling out food from soup kitchens.

These are the true heroes of America. They embody the decency of this land. They are doing the healing, rebuilding trust, reminding us who we are and who we are not.

Donald Trump is not America.

Hope, Unity, and Patience

I was impressed with Joe Biden’s and Kamala Harris’ speeches tonight.  Here is a link to both video and text of the speech.  For me, one of the most welcome things to hear was …

“All those of you who voted for President Trump, I understand the disappointment tonight. I’ve lost a couple of times myself. But now, let’s give each other a chance.  It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again, and to make progress.”

These are words that we have not heard since President Obama left office on January 20th, 2017.  This is the polar opposite of what we have become used to hearing and it was a breath of fresh air, a welcome relief after all the hate and divisive language we’ve become used to.

Now, a few people have let me know in no uncertain terms that they are not pleased with Biden.  It’s not that they wanted Trump to win, necessarily, but they have issues with some of what Biden will or will not do.  Let me start by saying that we cannot have everything on our wish list – this is a nation of 330 million people, people with different goals and hopes, differing priorities and values.  As John Lydgate and later Abraham Lincoln famously said, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.

There is much wrong in this nation today and Joe Biden is going to have a struggle trying to prioritize what must be addressed first, getting legislation through Congress, and re-establishing relationships, both domestic and international.  We cannot expect to get everything we want, and we cannot expect anything to be accomplished overnight.  For the good of this nation, we all need to be patient and supportive of this administration, rather than constantly seeking reasons to criticize.  Some will call me a hypocrite for saying this, since I have been hypercritical of Donald Trump since long before his inauguration and ever since.  But there is a difference … Donald Trump never had the best interests of this nation and its people at heart.  Joe Biden does.

No president will be able to do everything we would like, and there will be times you and I disagree with the president’s actions … that has been the case in every nation and under every leader since the beginning of organized governments.

The things I am most pleased about in the Biden/Harris agenda are that they plan to re-join the Paris Climate Accord and reverse the withdrawal from the World Health Organization – these are two big ones, for climate change and the pandemic are the biggest threats to life, not only in the U.S., but worldwide.  Biden plans to repeal the ban on almost all travel from some Muslim-majority countries, and he will reinstate the DACA program allowing “dreamers,” who were brought to the United States illegally as children, to remain in the country.

Biden will also need to focus on filling cabinet positions, which may prove difficult if Mitch McConnell remains Senate Majority Leader and proves to be as unwilling to work with Biden as he was with Obama.  He will also need to re-establish relations with our allies, to earn once again the respect of other nations that has been shredded in the past four years.  He must re-implement environmental regulations that were rolled back by the current administration that was more interested in pleasing the fossil fuel industry than in the health of the world.

And, of course, the first order of business will be a strategic plan to control and contain the coronavirus pandemic that is raging out of control in this country.  To that end, Biden has already made plans to set up a coronavirus task force on Monday, in recognition that the global pandemic will be the primary issue that he must confront. The task force, which could begin meeting within days, will be co-chaired by former surgeon general Vivek H. Murthy and David Kessler, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner.  He has a plan.  He realizes that he cannot simply ignore it and hope it goes away.

Now, some of the things I’ve been told people don’t like are that he has already said he would not sign legislation that would provide Medicare-for-all.  He has, however, promised to build on ACA, to fix what needs to be fixed and expand coverage.  You don’t go from zero to a hundred overnight … small steps. I think that ultimately this nation will have either Medicare-for-all or some form of universal health care, but we have to start somewhere … you don’t build a city from rubble in one day.

I’ve also heard from some that they are displeased that he won’t ban fracking.  Okay, I would like to see fracking banned, as well, but again, it doesn’t happen overnight.  Win some, lose some – that’s the way it works in a democracy.  And I’ve also heard displeasure because he has no plans to ‘defund the police’.  Folks … you cannot simply defund the police.  I am as aware as any of the problems of systemic racism in our police departments and yes, it needs to be fixed!  But cutting funding to police departments is NOT the answer.  The answer is more training, psychological profiling, and accountability.  Federal oversight of problematic police departments is crucial, and any officer caught with his proverbial pants down is out … no second chances.  Sensitivity training, which the incumbent has called “un-American” is essential.  But you cannot simply shutter the police departments around the nation.

No, Joe Biden will not be perfect – he will make mistakes, he will sometimes do things we don’t agree with or that we don’t understand the reason for, but … he is a good and decent man who will do his best to heal this nation, to narrow the divide between right and left, to initiate conversations such that we can begin to try to understand each other once again.  And, he will uphold the U.S. Constitution as per his Oath of Office.

The next 73 days are going to be filled with garbage talk from the current administration and we will have to do our best to simply ignore it.  Biden’s win is sound enough to withstand challenges and recounts, so at this point, the incumbent is irrelevant, and we really can afford to ignore him.  What we cannot afford is to lose our hope, to allow the detritus to bring us down.  Keep remembering that awesome feeling when you heard, yesterday morning, that Joe Biden was the president-elect.

To Hold Trump Accountable — Or Not?

I apologize in advance for the lengthiness of this post, but I thought it was one worth consideration.  I have mixed feelings on this issue of whether Trump should be held to account for his actions such as obstruction of justice, bribery, conspiracy to defraud, and campaign finance violations once he leaves office.  On the one hand, I do want to see him treated just as any of the rest of us would be for harming the people of this nation, but on the other hand … can we truly begin to heal the Great Divide in this nation if Trump remains headline news for the next two years or longer?  I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read Sam Tanenhaus’ OpEd from The Washington Post last Friday


The reckoning

The country can’t recover from Trump’s presidency unless he’s held accountable

tannenhaus-samBy Sam Tanenhaus

October 16, 2020

Some Americans entertain a fantasy that goes like this: President Trump is voted out of office, finally faces justice for his serial misconduct and shuffles off to prison. A wearier, probably larger population looks forward to scrubbing the nation’s memory of these past four years and returning to pre-Trump life. A third sizable group shows unwavering loyalty to Trump.

One lesson of American history is that the country’s worst injuries are those we’ve caused ourselves. This history is not uplifting, but it is edifying, and it haunts. Failing to perform the necessary diagnostic surgery after a time of collective wrongdoing has costs. The steepest is this: Subsequent generations inherit a weakened democracy. Today it is imperative to confront the facts of the Trump era. We elected as president a homegrown insurrectionist. He rose to the highest position in our democracy and damaged it. Even now, he continues to assault our laws and institutions, our independent judiciary, our national security, our health, and our constitutional system of checks and balances. It’s unimaginable, ludicrous even, to contemplate doing nothing about Donald Trump.

No single course for a post-Trump reckoning will satisfy, let alone reconcile, the country’s divergent constituencies. And some damage can’t easily be undone — harm to America’s standing in the world, for example, and the fatally negligent response to the coronavirus pandemic. But in the search for accountability there are middle-path options that fall between prosecuting this singular president and prosecuting his broader legacy. One is to begin with a problem that Americans across the ideological spectrum agree needs fixing: our elections.

Elections are the place to start because so much of Trump’s misconduct relates to them. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election resulted in three dozen indictments or guilty pleas and five prison sentences, all related to Trump campaign actions during that election and afterward, when the president and others tried to cover up what they had done. Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, have both done time. The Senate Intelligence Committee — led by Republicans — produced a nearly 1,000-page report detailing the Trump team’s misdeeds, most pertaining to the 2016 election. Prosecutors in New York, meanwhile, are digging further into Trump’s payment of hush money to a porn star ahead of the vote. And of course, in his impeachment, Trump was charged with misusing his office to try to get help from Ukraine in his reelection campaign — in violation of election law and of the framers’ fear that a president might, in James Madison’s words, “betray his trust to foreign powers.”

In at least one thing Trump has been proved right. Joe Biden is a strong opponent. If he is elected (increasingly likely), and if Democrats hold on to their majority in the House (it seems probable) and achieve one in the Senate (distinctly possible), they will be in a position to mount the kind of full-scale investigation they have been kept from doing while Trump is president.

But will the next administration hold the Trump crew truly accountable for past crimes, such as those uncovered by Mueller, the House impeachment committees and the Senate, to say nothing of the Trump family’s financial dealings? Should it? Yes, some will say, because of Trump’s long trail of malfeasance and mis-governance, which also involves top administration figures such as Attorney General William Barr. But the price of such an inquiry would be considerable. It could rebound against Democrats and undermine public confidence in their fairness and sense of proportion.

We are a fiercely divided country. As the historian Garry Wills remarked to me recently, the true crisis of our moment consists “of Trump showing us not about Trump but about us.” Republicans continue to support Trump as faithfully as any president in modern memory. It is true that he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton in 2016, but he won 30 states. No matter the result in November, the tribal feelings that now define American politics will not change. They might intensify.

This is partly an outgrowth of Trump’s approach to the presidency — his unapologetic conception of the office as explicitly serving him and those on his side, even as he wages war against those who oppose or even question him. The formula, as Jonathan Chait wrote in New York magazine, is blunt and direct: “If Trump’s opponents are doing something, it’s a crime; if Trump and his allies are doing it, it isn’t.”

The president’s supporters have a grievance of their own. They can say that Trump’s enemies tried to delegitimize him from the moment he took office. His detractors spoke early and excitedly about impeachment, as though the removal of a president was sport. This was why cooler heads, like Speaker Nancy Pelosi, urged caution after Democrats regained a majority in the House.

With Ukraine, everything changed. The facts were clear. Trump’s plea to the Ukrainian president that he “do us a favor” by announcing that he would investigate Biden was a textbook case of abuse of power. It hardly mattered. Republicans mounted a counteroffensive, echoing Trump’s cry of “witch hunt.” The rest was an elaborate performance in which the only verdict that seemed to matter was public opinion. Yet the most significant poll showed that two-thirds of Americans, regardless of the outcome, would not change their minds.

Attacks on Trump, no matter how justified, have dependably aroused his base. There is no reason to think his post-presidency will be different. What’s to stop Citizen Trump from continuing to operate at the margins of the law, but without the cover of the White House and in the knowledge that there would be a reluctance to prosecute a former president? A fresh investigation, broadcast over the “lying” media, could play right into Trump’s program of self-glorification.

And yet, America is not just a political carnival with gladiators in the arena and spectators in the stands. It is also a democratic republic — a nation of laws, procedures, history and tradition. A good, or rather ghastly, example of history failing to hold its chief actors accountable is the first president to be impeached, Andrew Johnson, in 1868. For many years schoolchildren were taught, with the aid of the book “Profiles in Courage” by John F. Kennedy, that Johnson’s escape from removal was an act of high statesmanship. Supposedly Sen. Edmund Ross of Kansas, a Republican who went against his party and voted to acquit, “may well have preserved for ourselves and posterity constitutional government in the United States.” The real villains, in Kennedy’s view (shared by many at the time), were the “Radical Republicans,” who arrogantly treated the defeated Confederate states as “conquered provinces” and wanted to “crush their despised foe” and voted to convict.

Today the episode is judged very differently. Johnson, most agree, was one of the worst presidents in history and a danger to the republic. Taking office after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, he flagrantly violated the principles of post-Civil War Reconstruction. He sided with “all-white Southern state governments full of ex-Confederates, stood by when they enacted ‘black codes’ that oppressed ex-slaves, and took no action when racist mobs began to murder black Southerners,” according to a history in The Washington Post. Johnson’s removal would have sent a powerful message about the nation’s new, post-slavery course; his acquittal instead reinforced pro-Confederate sympathies, which have lingered for generations.

So, too, with the case of the next president to face impeachment, Richard Nixon. He resigned in 1974 when it became clear that he faced removal for his Watergate crimes. His successor, Gerald Ford, pardoned him. For years, the thinking was that Ford’s action was statesmanlike, and the nation gratefully heard his soothing assurances that “our long national nightmare is over.” But the pardon helped plant the seeds of a counter-history of Watergate, promulgated by Nixon and his defenders, that Nixon was not the perpetrator but the victim, hounded by the liberal media, and that the investigations and impeachment were an  example of “the criminalization of politics.”

What happened afterward may suggest a sensible approach to holding Trump accountable. In 1975, after the New York Times published a sensational report by Seymour Hersh under the headline “Huge C.I.A. operation reported in U.S. against antiwar forces, other dissidents in Nixon years,” the Senate organized a committee to examine the long history of Cold War intelligence. The chairman was Sen. Frank Church of Idaho. Respected legislators from both parties, giants of the period, also were on the panel. Their inquest looked hard at the Nixon administration but also pressed further and turned up patterns of wrongdoing by three predecessors, Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. Not everyone was happy with the result. The intelligence community felt under siege. But no one could accuse the committee of being partisan.

Here is a possible road map, then, for a public accounting of the Trump years. Instead of mounting an investigation of all his excesses and corruptions, the Biden administration could reach out to Trump’s supporters with a statement acknowledging their concerns, and Trump’s, that our elections are “rigged.” Why not take him at his word? To some extent, many are — in both parties. Each has assembled teams of lawyers and operatives for state-by-state legal battles, in the expectation that if Trump loses, he will challenge the results.

At that point, rightly or wrongly, a substantial portion of the country will question the validity of our elections. This has happened before, in 2000. Biden, as president, might address these concerns, respectfully announcing that he will set up an Election Commission, a formal investigation on the scale of the Warren Commission, which tried to uncover the facts of the Kennedy assassination, or the commission formed after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

A more immediate example is the panel convened after the 2000 election. Chaired by former presidents Ford and Jimmy Carter, it presented recommendations. One was that there be a ceiling of 2 percent on the share of votes thrown out because of errors. Another was to have a federal agency create national standards for voting machines. A third was to restore voting rights in all 50 states to felons who had served their sentences. President George W. Bush supported the “key principles” stated by the panel and urged Congress to act on them. But the operative word was “recommendations.” The report did not say the government should require these changes. And so almost 20 years later, the defects remain.

But the circumstances are different now; the crisis has grown. Trump has sown doubts about our elections for the whole of his presidency. As soon as he took office, he declared that the 2016 election was “rigged” because the popular vote had gone against him. He organized a “commission” of his own on voter fraud, with Vice President Pence in charge. It quietly disbanded eight months later, having met a total of two times and without filing a report. The material it did produce was “glaringly empty,” in the words of one member. A commission set up by Biden could take up the work of Trump’s panel, only push much further.

And this is where the Church Committee could be a good model. Just as it pursued the trail of intelligence wrongdoing back to the early years of the Cold War, so Biden’s blue-ribbon panel would start with the 2000 election and the recommendations made afterward, this time pointing out what was lost because those recommendations were not adopted. From this premise, the commission could range widely and hear testimony on many important matters — for instance, efforts to suppress African American and Hispanic votes in battleground states. Every Republican who has affirmed or suggested that the 2020 elections are rigged, beginning with Trump himself, would be given a chance to testify with immunity and in a closed session, their words recorded. The findings would be released with ample transcripts.

Such a proceeding will be vulnerable to accusations of bias. But the facts would be on the record, and perhaps we would learn more about how democracy works, and doesn’t work, and what we can do to repair it.

Answers from Trump Supporters

The following post by blogging friend Nan is one of the most powerful statements I have seen describing the reasons for the Great Divide between Trump supporters and the rest of us. Thank you, Nan, for sharing Mr. Castro’s words and for allowing me to share them as well.

Nan's Notebook

Copied from a Facebook post:

THIS WAS ON A FRIEND’S PAGE: An anguished question from a Trump supporter: ‘Why do liberals think Trump supporters are stupid?’

THE SERIOUS ANSWER: Here’s what the majority of anti-Trump voters honestly feel about Trump supporters en masse:

That when you saw a man who had owned a fraudulent University, intent on scamming poor people, you thought “Fine.” (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2018/04/10/trump-university-settlement-judge-finalized/502387002/)
That when you saw a man who had made it his business practice to stiff his creditors, you said, “Okay.” (https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-hotel-paid-millions-in-fines-for-unpaid-work)
That when you heard him proudly brag about his own history of sexual abuse, you said, “No problem.” (https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/list-trumps-accusers-allegations-sexual-misconduct/story?id=51956410)
That when he made up stories about seeing Muslim-Americans in the thousands cheering the destruction of the World Trade Center, you said, “Not an issue.” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2015/11/22/donald-trumps-outrageous-claim-that-thousands-of-new-jersey-muslims-celebrated-the-911-attacks/)
That when you saw him brag that he could shoot a man on Fifth Avenue and you wouldn’t care, you…

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Wearing a Mask in Public-Liberal Snowflake?

Our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters ponders about our society, how we are responding to the current crisis, and how Trump is further stretching the Great Divide that led to his unconscionable election three+ years ago. I can especially relate to his last sentence … I no longer recognize the country I once respected. Thank you, Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

These days everything is up for grabs. In today’s hyper-sensitive political climate, it doesn’t seem to matter. One would think that if you’re told to wear a mask in public to protect you and the people around you from possibly contracting a dangerous virus, it would be a no brainer to wear the mask.

But these are not normal times if you didn’t know that already. We have an abnormal president with a group of followers whose main goal in life now is to “own the libs” at all costs–no matter the consequences.

And it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the mask issue is only the beginning. What we’re seeing is the political strategy of the current president becoming more evident by the day. And if the Democrats aren’t up to the task to counter-punch, we may be in for a sad day on November 3, 2020.

As we all know…

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The Unthinkable Becomes Reality

What do you think about a president holding the highest office in the land, who purposefully and with malice incites people to violence?  What do you think about the ‘leader’ of a nation of 330 million people, who curses and denigrates more than half of that population?

I have seen twelve presidents (not counting Trump, who I refuse to call a ‘president’) come and go in my lifetime.  Some I’ve liked better than others, some I respected more than others, but not a single one have I literally despised.  I cannot say the same for Donald F. Trump.

President Harry S. Truman had a sign on his desk …Truman-buck-sign

“The buck stops here” … ultimately, the responsibility falls on the shoulders of the man at the top.  Too bad we don’t have a ‘man’ at the top today, but rather a self-aggrandizing lout whose motto is …Trump-no-responsibility

A number of quotes are attributed to President John F. Kennedy, one of which is …

kennedy

But Trump claims …

stable-genius

Or another comparison between Kennedy and Trump …kennedy-trump

And Trump’s predecessor, who he seems to have an unrelenting and unreasonable hatred for …obama-quote

Vs Trump …Trump-bigot

And I could cite example after example of how much more intelligent, more compassionate, more humanitarian every one of his predecessors were, but you get the picture, right?  This week, though, came what should be, but likely won’t be, the final straw, the most ignominious thing he has done to date, and believe me, there’s quite a bucketful of them.

On Friday Trump spewed forth a series of tweets in response to the news that groups were forming in some states to protest the shuttering of most businesses in their states, and the guidelines encouraging people to stay home, out of public venues, as much as possible.  They want businesses open and ‘business as usual’ to resume.

trump-tweets

Close your eyes and try to imagine President Kennedy or President Obama calling for a group of people to overthrow the government … the image just doesn’t work, does it?

Trump speaks and his base rally to the cause, never understanding that they are putting lives in jeopardy, that they are issuing a proverbial slap-in-the-face to all the doctors, nurses and other essential workers who are on the frontlines in the battle against this pandemic.  And never, apparently, stopping to think that … whether all businesses open tomorrow or six months from now, it will not be “business as usual”.  Not for a very long time, if ever.

Trump’s call for liberation from current shut-down rules followed protests around the country as protesters — many wearing red “Make America Great Again” hats — congregated in packed groups around state capitols to demand that restrictions be immediately lifted and to demonize both Democratic and Republican governors.

In Michigan, protesters waved banners in support of Trump and protested Governor Gretchen Whitmer by chanting, “Lock her up.” Sound familiar?  In St. Paul, Minnesota, a group calling itself “Liberate Minnesota” rallied against stay-at-home orders in front of the home of Governor Tim Walz, demanding he “end this lockdown!” In Columbus, Ohio, protesters crowded closely together as they pressed up against the doors of the state’s Capitol.  I am told that even in the more progressive state of California, hundreds gathered in Huntington Beach calling the stay-at-home ‘orders’ tyrannical.

I was particularly incandescent when I read that Stephen Moore, a conservative economist and a member the White House council to reopen the country, said of the protestors …

“I call these people the modern-day Rosa Parks — they are protesting against injustice and a loss of liberties.”

BULLSHIT. 

In Michigan, one of the hardest-hit states with more than 30,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and over 2,200 deaths, Michigan Conservative Coalition member Matthew Seely said …

“I feel terrible about the lives lost, but at some point, we have to say ‘Mission accomplished’ and come up with the next phase of this that doesn’t have us continuously locked inside our homes.”

Rather like saying, “Gee, too bad thousands of people have died, but … oh well. 🤷‍♂️

Denny Tubbs, a local leader of Ohio Stands United, a gun rights group, attended a protest rally in the state capital of Columbus against business closures ordered by Mike DeWine, a Republican governor.

“I’m not saying it doesn’t have to be dealt with but shutting down and crushing the economy is not the way to do it. Our civil rights have been stomped on.”

Tubbs is a gunmaker, by the way.

A competent president would be urging calm, but instead Trump is egging the protestors on, urging them to basically overthrow their state governments!  What sort of a leader does this?  What’s next?  Do the protestors come drag people out of their homes and force them to open businesses and congregate?

It is unthinkable to have a president who urges citizens to resort to violence against their own government.  As much as I miss our Saturday outings to dinner and a trip to the bookstore, I am not comfortable with businesses re-opening yet, for most medical experts have cautioned that to re-open too early would almost certainly lead to a second wave of mass fatalities and ultimately yet another shut-down.  And yet, the republicans in this nation are more than willing to risk that … for what?  I’ve said more than once that common sense must prevail, that we cannot cower under our beds in fear.  But, what the protestors, egged on by Trump as well as conservative groups, are urging is dangerous, foolhardy, and selfish, caring more for their own profit than our lives.

In normal times, a crisis such as this pandemic would have pulled people together in this nation.  We’ve seen it before many times.  But these are not normal times, and we have the single most divisive person at the helm of this ship.  It is insane for this person, who is responsible for some 330 million lives, to be inciting what amounts to civil war in this nation.  Thus far, to the best of my knowledge, nobody has been injured in these protests, but it is only a matter of time, especially with gun shops open and gun sales at an all-time high. Will Congress and the Courts stop the madness emanating from the Oval Office?  Doubtful.  Will we stop him in November?  That’s up to us, isn’t it?

How Versus Why–And Why It’s Important

The newest member of On the Fence Voters wrote a very thoughtful … and thought-provoking … post yesterday that I would like to share with you this afternoon. I hadn’t thought to categorize people in this way before, and I suspect that most people are some combination of these two, but what he says makes a lot of sense. Take a look …

On The Fence Voters

Keeping in mind the crucial caveat that there are exceptions to almost every rule, I will attempt to persuade those reading this missive that we can accurately place every human into one of two categories. Category one is made up of how people. Category two is made up of why people. How people tend to be doers; they accomplish beneficial tasks–or at least want to do so. Why people tend to be dreamers, thinkers. They might also accomplish beneficial tasks, but they are more likely to want to discover why those tasks the how people accomplish are beneficial.

How People

How people tend to be hard-working blue-collar folks. If they attended any college, it probably was a community college or a trade college. It’s likely that during their career-preparation years they had only marginal interest in subjects outside those that pertained to their chosen profession…

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Filosofa’s 2020 State Of The Union

This evening, Donald Trump will present to members of Congress and anyone who cares to listen, the annual State of the Union Address.  Last year, as Trump was forced to cancel his planned January address, I wrote my own, thinking that perhaps I would be asked to fill in for him.  I wasn’t, but still, it was a good speech, so I’ve decided to prepare my own again this year.  Some things are the same as last year, some have changed.


Good morning, fellow humans.  This is called the State of the Union address because the purpose is to inform the people of this nation how the country is doing.

Environment

I regret that I must tell you that we have some very serious problems here in the U.S., and if we don’t address them very soon, the ramifications will be tragic.  We produce and use far too much coal and oil, for the fossil fuel industry has our government in a choke-hold that keeps us from doing everything in our power to promote renewable energy sources.  Far too much federal land has been opened to mining, drilling, and logging, and we don’t yet know the full extent of the environmental impact, or the level of destruction of wildlife.  The fossil fuel and logging industries are putting farmland and water supplies at risk.  In addition, we have rolled back so many environmental regulations that we are putting far more CO2 into the atmosphere per capita than any other nation on the planet, including China.  We have made little or no effort to reduce single-use plastics and other garbage that is polluting our land and waterways, not to mention the oceans.  This is the area that is most important of all the topics I will cover here, and yet we are doing the least to address the problems.

Economy

If one looks only at the Dow-Jones or the employment rates, the economy looks pretty fair.  But, there is more to the economy than just the stock market and employment rates.  When you look at such things as affordable housing, income inequality and minimum wage, the picture is far less rosy.  Then, factor in the national debt, which stands today at more than $23 trillion, and the budget deficit hovering around the $1 trillion mark, you can see that in truth the economy has some serious problems.  It may seem great for that upper 1% who are the beneficiaries of keeping wages low, tax cuts, and other benefits, but the majority of people in the U.S. are no better off than they were ten years ago.

Education

The average cost of a four-year degree ranges from $40,000 for in-state tuition at a public college, to $140,000 at a private college.  It is estimated that with rising college costs, that amount will nearly double over the next decade.  Few working-class families can afford that, so students must rely on financial aid.  Young people are leaving college already burdened with a mound of debt that would have purchased a nice home 15-20 years ago.  The result is that fewer and fewer students are attending college, for it is rapidly becoming available only to the wealthy.  This is alarming, for who will be the doctors, lawyers, accountants, scientists, computer programmers, etc. in the coming decades?

Global image

As I reported last year, we have lost the trust of our allies.  Since WWII, the U.S. has worked hard to be a trusted and valued partner in the global community, to develop alliances for the purposes of trade and security. But in order to maintain those alliances, we must first be a good friend, and we have let that ball drop. We have pulled out of treaties, imposed tariffs, been a poor trading partner, nearly started a war in the Middle East, and been critical of our allies for less than no reason.  At the same time, our leadership has gone out of its way to befriend our adversaries.  Is it any wonder, then, that a recent Pew research poll indicates that 64% of the 32 countries surveyed had very little confidence in the leadership of the U.S.

Domestic strife

The United States is more divided than at any time since the close of the Civil War in 1865.  We are divided along racial lines, religious ones, and more than ever before, along political lines.  The majority of the people do not trust our government, do not believe anything that comes from Washington.  When the people have lost all faith and trust in government, the nation has truly lost its way.  This is not a sustainable situation, but rather one that is likely to lead to serious trouble in the near future.

Guns

Already on this, the fourth day of February and 35th day of the new year, we have seen 28 mass shootings, resulting in 38 deaths and 112 injuries, for a total of 150 victims.  In total, in these first 35 days of the year, there have been a total of 3,618 gun deaths in the U.S. – 1,374 were homicides and the other 2,244 were suicides.  This figure, as much as any, tells the true state of the union.  No meaningful gun legislation was passed into law last year.

Immigration

While the majority of the people in this nation welcome immigrants, understand that immigrants add to the richness of our culture and contribute in countless ways to the well-being of our country, immigrants are being treated terribly.  Just last week, six more nations were added to the travel ban … nations whose people have never and do not now pose any threat whatsoever to the United States.  Funds have been siphoned from other areas to support the building of an unneeded border wall on the U.S.-Mexico border – over $10 billion in total – money wasted.  And children are still living in cages at the southern border, separated from their parents, perhaps forever.

Health care

There are now some 44 million people in the U.S. with no health insurance.  While there has been much talk, many promises, the only actions have been those which caused the cost of health insurance and prescription medication to rise, making it un-affordable for many.

Although I could go on, my time is up.  As you can see, the state of the nation leaves much room for improvement, however I would like to end on a positive note.  One industry in particular has seen positive growth.  Alcohol sales in the U.S. rose by some 5.1% over the past year!  If you’re looking for a place to invest a few dollars, I strongly recommend Jack Daniels or Budweiser!

Admittedly, last year’s ‘Filosofa’s State of the Union’ was better than this years, but consider that I’ve had an entire year of deterioration & detritus has taken place since then, and I think my gloomier outlook is somewhat justified.  I can only wonder what next year’s will bring!