Monday, August 20, 2018

The Omarosa Factor

To begin with you should know I am not a big fan of reality TV.   OK, I should amend that statement by saying, I don't watch non-food reality TV.  I watch shows such as Top Chef and Hell's Kitchen.  As a rule though, I don't care to watch people screw each other over and act behind people's back. If that's your reality, your not living a good life.

Subject: Omarosa | Date: 02/24/2017 | Photographer: Gage Skidmore |This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
That being the case, even though I never watched The Apprentice, I knew who Omarosa was.  Thanks to commercials and general pop culture buzz, it was obvious she was the loudmouth villain of the show.  However, she was also a favorite with fans, so NBC kept looking for reasons to put her back on the show.

Her popularity made her inclusion in Donald Trump's presidential campaign a no brainer. She gave Trump's entourage a badly needed splash of color. After the campaign she was given a loosely defined White House job for the same reason. Nobody knew exactly what she was supposed to do, but she helped make the White House look at little less white.

Perhaps because of her background in reality TV, she knew enough to watch her back.  To that end, she covertly recorded many of her conversations on the job.  Last week she published a tell all book about her days in the White House.  To promote her book she has been releasing recordings to the news one by one.

Perhaps the most damaging of these recordings so far, chronicles Trump's daughter-in-law offering her a 15K per month  "no show" job in exchange for her silence upon leaving the White House.  The conversation sounded like it had been lifted from an episode of the Sopranos.

We don't know what other gems Omarosa plans to release, or when.  One can only speculate whether she has anything that Mueller can use in his investigation.  However, even though she's doing what she is doing to promote herself, she may prove to be the hero who finally nalis Donald Trump. Only time will tell.  

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

While We've Been Distracted Trump Hasn’t Fixed His Border Mess

Six weeks ago, America watched as immigrant children were ripped away from their families. We were up in arms over the injustice of it all. Millions of people protested. ICE headquarters were occupied. It was all you heard about on the news. Flash forward to August, the protesters have gone home, and we're lucky if the issue is one of the last stories on the news. Judging by the collective silence, one might believe the issue has been resolved.

Subject: Photo provided by Custom and Border Protection to reporter on tour of detention facility in McAllen, Texas. Reporters were not allowed to take their own photos | Date: 06/17/2018 | Photographer: U.S. Customs and Border Control | This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work prepared by an officer or employee of the United States.
According to Bloomberg News, seven hundred children have yet to be reunited with their families. The government tried to claim that all "eligible" children have been reunited. This flew for about a day until the court asked what the word "eligible" meant.

On Friday, the federal government suggested that the ACLU adopt the job of reuniting families. Again, the court stepped in and pointed out that the ACLU does not have the resources to do the job, nor is it their responsibility.

One major problem is that many of the parents in question may have already been deported with no way to track them. This problem is a direct result of not having a plan laid out before the program began. For some reason, our government thought they could make it up as they went along. It's a juvenile attitude.

In high school, one of the first lessons kids are taught is to have a plan. They're taught to outline a project step by step before they execute step one. Yet, we have a government who seems to have forgotten that lesson. Not that it was a worthwhile project to begin with, but if they were going to do it, they should have organized a lot better. As a result, we've destroyed hundreds of families in the name of making a political point.

The worst part is, a very few of us are still paying attention. We've all moved on to other hot button topics,  such as Paul Manafort's million dollar wardrobe. We don't know what's going on with hundreds of children, but we know that Paul bought a jacket made out of ostrich leather. At least we've got our priorities straight.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Hail To The Puppet?

During a recent joint press conference with presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in Finland, President Trump stated he saw no reason to believe that Russia had interfered in the 2016 US election despite the findings of American intelligence agencies.

 Mr Donald Trump New Hampshire Town Hall
Subject: Donald Trump New Hampshire Town Hall | Date: 08/19/2015 | Photographer: Michael Vadon |This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
Subject: Vladimir Putin | Date: 03/15/2018 | Photographer: Press Service of the President of the Russian Federation |This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.
While these comments shocked political pundits and lawmakers alike, the comments in question were actually par for the course. Ever since Trump took office, he has been a pro Russia president.

I won't rehash every move Trump has made over the last year and a half, but among his greatest hits are lifting sanctions against Russia, reopening a Russian embassy known to be an espionage center, and advocating for Russia to be allowed to rejoin the G8.

Only now are people talking about the possibility that Putin maybe blackmailing President Trump. To that I say, "WELL DUH!" I have suspected as much for over a year. Think about it. Watch his body language.  When he reads prepared anti Russian statements, his arms are folded and his head is down as if he's drawing inward toward himself.  It is a classic fear response.

Of course, I can't prove anything, but it does make one wonder. One also has to wonder why Trump won't release his tax returns. According to The Washington Post, President Trump’s business tried to make a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow while he was running for president in 2015 & 2016. We don't know what other deals he tried to make in Russia or what the outcomes were. It is theoretically possible that whatever Putin has on Trump is a result of one of those deals.

Like I said, this is all pure speculation on my part. We don't know what is actually motivating our president to snuggle up to our enemy. However, it is not speculation that his actions are making us look weak and untrustworthy in the eyes of our allies.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Do You Hear The People Sing?

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing the songs of angry men?
It is the music of the people
Who will not be slaves again!
Do you hear the people sing?"
- Les Misérables

Subject: Stop Separating Immigrant Families Press Conference and Rally Chicago Illinois on June 5, 2018. | Date: 06/05/2018 | Photographer: Charles Edward Miller |This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

I know I've written about this topic a lot lately, but it's one I can't get past. The idea that we are taking children away from families who are looking for a better life appalls me. The patriot in me has wanted to curl up into the fetal position and die. I have been ashamed to be an American.

As I grew up, I was taught that Americans were the good guys. I was proud to wear the red, white, and blue. Our country was a shining beacon of hope to the world. Hell, we have the largest lawn ornament in the world outside our country's front door welcoming immigrants looking for a better life.

Over the last few months, we've slammed the door on immigrants, illegal and legal alike. That's right boys and girls, not only have we ripped away children from illegal immigrants, we've taken them from asylum seekers as well.

A federal judge ordered the government to reunite all the children under five years old with their families by July 10th. Two days before the due date, the government was forced to admit they've lost, or destroyed, the records. Officials don't know which child goes to which family or where they are. The government has suggested that giving the children to foster homes is the same as unifying them with their actual families.

These policies are just evil. No, I'm not exaggerating! When you take children away with no clear procedure to reunite them, you've made it clear you don't care about people. Not caring about people is the foundation of evil. That's what evil is. I've been hanging my head for weeks, embarrassed to be an American.

I forgot one fundamental truth. America is not the government. America is not the White House. America is not Capitol Hill. America is WE THE PEOPLE! We are America.

As I was hanging my head, Americans of good conscious were busy finding ways to combat these atrocities. On the 28th of last month, six hundred Americans allowed themselves to be arrested in Washington D.C. for protesting the actions of ICE. Here in Portland, good Americans occupied ICE headquarters effectively closing the office for over a week. In fact, tens of millions of Americans, in all fifty states, have protested the horrors taking place on our southern border.

There are even Americans of noble intent taking matters into their own hands.  Some people are coming forward to pay the bond for as many immigrants as possible. Others are organizing nine car relays to get mothers from Texas to New York to claim children who have been located.

As Patricia Okoumou climbed the Statue of Liberty in protest of government sanctioned child abuse, I was reminded of a scene from Les Mis√©rables. "Do you hear the people sing? Singing the songs of angry men? It is the music of the people Who will not be slaves again!" These lyrics roared from the throats of the young Frenchmen as they marched through town waving flags in defiance of a corrupt regime.

Over the last few weeks, this scene has been mimicked over and over again. Good-hearted Americans are rising up against tyranny.

Nobody knows how the future will unfold. In twenty years we don't know how this moment will be remembered. Will we be known for making our voices heard loud enough that policies were changed to reflect the values of; compassion, tolerance, and justice; or will our actions be recorded as a passing fad that was abandoned when the next shiny thing came along? It's up to us.