Saturday, December 8, 2018

A Kinder Gentler Nation

George Herbert Walker Bush (June 12, 1924 – November 30, 2018) was an American statesman and a member of the Republican Party.  He served as the 41st President of the United States from 1989 to 1993, after serving as the 43rd Vice President of the United States, under President Ronald Reagan, from 1981 to 1989. He had also been a combat pilot, a congressman for the great state of Texas, an ambassador to The United Nations, and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Subject: President George Herbert Walker Bush (June 12, 1924 – November 30, 2018) | Photographer: White House Photographic Office | As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

As you know,  I am a hardcore liberal democrat.  That being said, I always liked George Bush as president.  As far as republicans go, he was a good one.

Of course, he won me over when he championed the Americans with Disabilities Act.  I was also a fan of his "Thousand Points of Light" campaign, which encouraged volunteerism across America.

I could spend time talking about his policies when he was in the oval office, but what I'm really thinking about is how America reacted to his death.

Last week, party walls seemed to drop for awhile.  Republicans and Democrats, called a truce as they honored a fallen patriot.  For a few days we were all just Americans.  Trump even shook hands with Obama at the funeral.

If nothing else, it showed that we can come together as a nation when we want to.  Of course by the 7th, Washington got back to work.  However, remnants of cooperation lingered.

When senate committee members reviewed the evidence regarding Jamal Khasshogi's murder, both Republicans and Democrats were able to agree that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was most likely the culprit behind the murder.  For republicans, such as Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC), who usually defend Trump's position no matter what, to publicly disagree with the White House is phenomenal.  I'm not sure they would have publicly agree with the democrats before America united over George Bush's death.

I'm not suggesting that we're all going to start holding hands and singing Kumbaya in the woods, but I no longer see cooperation across party lines as impossible as it was a few weeks ago.  If we can come together over the death of an American hero, then perhaps we could learn to work together to make America a kinder gentler nation.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Don't Put A Wall In My Backyard

In 1994 sections of fence were built along 580 miles of the 1,989 mile border separating the United States from Mexico.  During the 2016 Presidential Election, Donald Trump fired up his base of supporters by promising to build one continuous wall along the border at an estimated cost of $8 billion to $12 billion.   Yet, critics claim that the price tag is more likely to range from $15 billion to $25 billion.

Let's put the multi-billion dollar price tag aside.  I'd rather focus on what such a wall would make us look like to the rest of the world.  It would literally put us in the same category as East Germany.

For those of you who were born after the early nineties, after World War II Germany was divided into the East and West.  East Germany was part of the Communist Block and West Germany, eventually, became a member of NATO.  Because Berlin was the capital of Germany, the city was divided right down the middle.  In order to keep their own people in, and everybody else out, in 1961 East Germany built a wall, complete with armed guards.

Subject: Ronald Reagan speaking in front of the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall on June 12, 1987 | Photographer: White House Photographic Office |As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.
The wall became synonymous with oppression around the world.  On June 12, 1987, Republican president Ronald Reagan famously railed, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"  The very concept of the wall was seen as a representation of everything America was against.   On November 9th, 1989,we celebrated as a country when the wall came down.

Fast forward to 2018, and Donald Trump is threatening a government shutdown if congress won't approve the wall on the Mexican/American border.  He wants to spend billions of dollars to recreate what was once a symbol of communism.

Keep in mind, he doesn't want to embrace the good parts of communism such as, universal health care and free access to higher education.  He rejects those parts, but he glorifies dictators; such as Vladimir Putin and Muhammad bin Salman; he's parked thousands of military troops along our southern borders, and he wants to build a wall.

Of course, he's not entirely to blame.  When he ran for office he told voters he wanted to build a wall and it wasn't a deal breaker.  Think about that for a minute.   People voted for him knowing he wanted to build this thing.  He knew enough people were scared of immigrants that he would be able to play on those people's fear to get elected.  He's still doing it!

For the last month the president has been pointing to a caravan of asylum seekers to justify his plan for a wall.  He's equated desperate people fleeing from violence and oppression with an invasion force.  Trump claims the caravan is filled with members of Al Qaeda trying to invade the United States Of America.  People from South America have nothing to do with Al Qaeda.  Yet, he can get a way with such an equation, because he knows there are enough white Americans, who put lump all brown skin people in one category, to fall for it.  He knows how to use fear to manipulate the masses.

If we want a country fueled by ethics, rather than fear, its up to us to say, "ENOUGH!"  Mr. Trump forgo this wall!

Monday, November 5, 2018

One Nation Indivisible?

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." ~ Section 1 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of United States of America

 Mr Donald Trump New Hampshire Town Hall
Subject: Mr 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.

When I was growing up I was proud to be an American.  I was as much of a flag waving soldier saluting gung-ho son of a bitch as any 12 year old wheelchair bound boy could be.  Songs like, "I Am A Real American," (Hulk Hogan's theme song) got my blood pumping, man!

I never thought that my pride would fade.  It has.  Of course, I never thought we'd have so divisive a president.

Yes, a portion of the populace will always disagree with the occupant of the Oval Office.  Thus is the nature of partisan politics.  Yet, I've always felt that the president had the people's best interest at heart, even the ones I thought were wrong on the issues.

I was NEVER a fan of President George W. Bush, and I still blame his fiscal policies for the economic crisis of the mid two thousands.  Nevertheless, after the 9/11 attacks. He visited a masque to show the country that Muslims were not the enemy.  Like him, or not, there's no denying that he was enough of a statesman to value being a unifying leader.

Fast Forward to today, and we have a president who seems to relish keeping Americans divided among themselves.  This is a president who has

  • tried to ban Muslims from entering the country,
  • Pardoned a sheriff who had been convicted for defying a court order against racial profiling,
  • Canceled the DACA program, thereby disenfranchising thousands of tax paying dreamers,
  • Praised the assault on a member of the press,
  • And said there were good NAZIs in a white supremacist demonstration, turned riot, in Ferguson.

  • Just this summer, he had thousands of immigrant children torn from their families and interned in make-shift Gulags.  As I write these words, our president is deploying 5,200 troops along our southern border to repel a group of asylum seekers fleeing violence.  On top of that, he's threatening to repeal 14th Amendment via executive order. 

    When I was young, it was easy to take pride in my country.  Although I was too young to articulate the details, I knew on a visceral level what it meant to be an American.  The recognized a set of shared values which defined what a good American was.  In a day when our leader shows public disdain for minorities and treats the Constitution as a suggestion, I find it hard to know what it means to be a good American anymore. 

    Tomorrow, November 6th, we have a chance to define American values once again.  By helping the Democratic Party take control of the House and Senate, citizens of good conscience can make it clear that Americans still value tolerance, equality, and compassion.  We have the power, and responsibility, to make America one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all. 

    Monday, October 29, 2018

    Who's Really To Blame?

    According to The Washington Post, on Friday, authorities arrested Cesar Sayoc Jr, alleging in a criminal complaint that he was responsible for sending at least 15 potential explosive devices to prominent Democratic and media figures across the country in recent days.   Among the recipients of defunct bombs were George Soros, Barack Obama, the Clintons, Joe Biden, former CIA Director John Brennan, former national intelligence chief James Clapper, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Sen. Cory Booker, Rep. Maxine Waters, and Robert De Niro.

    Just as the dust began to settle on the country wide bombing scare, Robert Bowers, age 46, stormed into the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in the affluent Squirrel Hill neighborhood shouting hate for Jews and killing eleven worshipers in a 20-minute attack.

    Society has has always had its share of disturbed citizens who, for one reason or another, were willing to hurt and kill other people.  However, I can't remember a time when such actions were sanctioned with a wink and a nod from the powers that be.

    Granted, our president never published a hit list for Sayoc to follow.  And yes, he has read public statements condemning these crimes.  Yet, when the president reads something off a teleprompter, then makes fun of the fact that that he's supposed to "tone down the rhetoric," it becomes clear where his sympathies lay.

    Publicly commanding a US Representative for body slamming a reporter, saying that there are "good people" in a pro-Nazi demonstration, and promising to pay the legal fees for anyone who assaults demonstrators are all ways of condoning violence, bigotry, and intolerance.

    It's perfectly possible, even likely, that Cesar Sayoc Jr. and Robert Bowers had emotional problems long before Donald Trump moved into the White House.  Yet, it's a fact that these men acted within a divisive atmosphere created by the president.

    It's true that there will always be a portion of the population that doesn't like the president, no matter who holds the office.  Nevertheless I can't think of another president who worked hard to pit citizens against each other.

    When Sgt James Crowley mistakenly arrested Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr for burglary outside Gates' own Cambridge home, President Obama invited both parties to the White House for a beer in order to ease racial tensions.  When you compare such an act of diplomacy to a president tweeting a video of himself tackling a man with a CNN logo superimposed across his face,  the difference in leadership styles becomes apparent.

    He didn't make Cesar Sayoc Jr and Robert Bowers commit their crimes, but his example didn't discourage them either.