Just Following Orders

 

Like  Adolf Eichmann, who tried to excuse his monstrous atrocities by saying he was “just following orders,” the border guards who are taking children away from their parents are committing a crime against humanity.

If I were a border guard, I would resign rather than obey such a heinous order.

But I  haven’t read of any mass resignations among the border guards. Don’t these people have a conscience?

How can they go home and hug their children after tearing other families apart?

Don’t tell me they are just doing their duty as law officers.

There is no law that mandates separation of families seeking asylum in the United States. As refugees, they have the right, under US and international law, to due process – as a family.

“Just following orders” is a pernicious mind set.

Without their “enforcers,” criminal overlords could not maintain their power.  And without apparatchiks who “just follow orders,” evil dictators could not implement their oppressive policies.

Mahatma Gandhi showed us we do not have to follow orders that conflict with our values. We can say no to the oppressor. We can opt out of a corrupt and cruel system.

By choosing to “go along,” the border guards are enablers of evil.

They may never be held accountable by the failed justice systems here on earth. But they will eventually have to answer to a far more awesome judge.

For what they are doing is not just a crime: it is a sin.

More on separating families

More on just following orders

What the law says

More on Trump’s vile policy

 

A Frightening Suspicion

 

I fear that America might be involved in a power struggle between the country’s institutions and organized crime.

If you have been reading my blogs, you must know that I suspect Trump is a front man for the mob.

So when it looks as if Paul Manafort (photo, at right)  would rather go to jail than rat on Trump, my blood runs cold.

Could Manafort be fearing for his life?

And why has Michael Cohen (photo,, at left) not “flipped”?

Could he, too, be more afraid of the mob than of the US justice system?

Why are members of Congress so willing to let Trump break the law? Has someone made them an offer they can’t refuse?

And why is Trump so brazen?

He used his charity as a slush fund and made no effort to hide it. He uses the presidency as a lever to extort money from foreign and domestic victims. He insults America’s closest allies and embraces Russia’s mobster president.

And he doesn’t seem to care who knows it.

Is he counting ont the international mob to have his back?’

If that is really what’s happening, how will it all end?

Will America survive as a country of laws? Or will the powerful international mob take over?

Somebody please convince me that my fears are unfounded. Tell me that Trump is just crazy, that Manafort and Cohen are true-blue Trump loyalists and that members of Congress are sucking up to Trump’s cult-like base to keep their jobs.

I really, really, hope that’s all it is.

Of course, by the time you read this, Manafort and Cohen could be singing like a couple of canaries. And this blog could turn out to be just a bad dream.

Will Manafort “flip”?

What about Cohen?

The charity lawsuit

More on Trump’s operation

 

Royal Blood? Really?

 

I suppose the love affair the media seem to be having with “royalty” is no more bizarre than the fan frenzy some performers inspire.

But, personally, I cannot get my head around the idea that an individual with no unique physical, mental or spiritual assets should be set upon a throne and showered with the people’s hard-earned money.

If I understand history, kings, emperors and so on used to be the equivalent of today’s Mafia dons. They ruled territories because their gangs were so terrifying. And they made sure their sons – or occasionally their daughters – inherited their ill gotten power.

Some did things that proved beneficial to the people they ruled. The Hapsburgs, for example. But most were downright horrible. They beheaded people. They burned people at the stake. They assassinated their rivals, including their closest relatives.

They were a lot like Trump’s new pal, Kim.

So when I see ads for DNA tests to uncover any “royal blood” I might have in my veins, I am not tempted. I wouldn’t want to find out that I am descended from Henry VIII, Bad King John or Catherine the Great… or any of the other monstrous kings and queens of yesteryear.

The way I see it, Western civilization is well rid of those blood-stained bullies. I’m all for power to the people – even when the people make stupid mistakes like electing Trump.

At least their mistakes can be corrected at the ballot box – without bloodshed.

So while I share in the warm glow everyone seems to be feeling over Meghan Markle’s fairy-tale romance with Prince Harry (photo), I can’t justify the notion of royalty to myself.

From what I read on the internet and see on TV, Kate is a nice young lady, and William would make any mother proud. But is that enough to justify the millions they get from British taxpayers?

But what do I know? The older I get, the more mystified I am by this weird world of ours.

Meghan’s fairy tale

More on those DNA tests

The role of royalty

More on royal families

More on the Hapsburgs

 

As America Falls Apart

Things fall apart, the center cannot hold…

William Butler Yeats could have been describing a vision of America’s impending future when he wrote “The Second Coming” back in 1919.

These United States are drifting apart. We the people no longer share a common cause; we have become mesmerized by our own narrow self interest.

As its population expands, America becomes less centralized, more divided. And political forces are exploiting existing dissensions without regard for the consequences.

There are few “moderates” left. Trump’s right-wing zealots have captured the Republican Party, and the Democrats are responding by adopting more radical positions.

The other political parties are mere special-interest advocates, with no realistic agenda for the nation.

This destructive malfunction extends far beyond politics. It  reflects the current mentality of the nation’s people.

Americans in coastal states have little in common with those in  “the Heartland.” Or in the “Deep South.”

And no  common-sense compromise seems possible. As Yeats put it:

The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity.

As the antagonism deepens, states like Texas and California are considering breaking away from the federation.

Even individual states are showing signs of breaking up.  An initiative calling for California to be split into three separate states will be on the November ballot.

So why is the Founding Fathers’ dream apparently dissolving into a bickering nightmare?

Perhaps it was unrealistic to expect so many millions from such diverse origins to live together in harmony and agree to self sacrifice for the common good.

Perhaps the defenses built into the Constitution are proving no match for the predators who have invaded and perverted our political system.

Perhaps it’s just that any system of government, however well designed, must fail eventually

We are mere mortals after all. And even when the spirit is willing, as the Good Book observes, the flesh is inherently weak.

All civilizations eventually implode. And that could well be happening to this great nation.

Or it might not be just an American collapse. It could be a global phenomenon.

This could be, as so many believe, the beginning of the end, the prelude, as Yeats suggested, to the Second Coming.

It could be the fulfillment of divine prophecy, beyond our ability to avert or modify.

Still, however inevitable it may be, the end of the American dream would be a great tragedy. It was such a noble concept.

Read the poem

The California initiative

Separatist movements

 

What a Poppy Show!

 

Do you think Trump reads my blogs? I know, I know, he doesn’t read,  he just watches Fox News. But he is doing what I suggested a while back. He’s talking amicably with Kim Jong-un instead of hurling insults and threats at North Korea’s Dear Leader.

Of course, he is doing it all wrong.

He couldn’t resist putting on an empty show designed to dazzle TV viewers instead of taking the time and trouble to work out a viable path to lasting peace on the Korean peninsula.

The result was last night’s cringe worthy pantomime in which Trump sucked up to Kim, calling him “honorable” and saying what an honor it was to meet with the guy.

Kim, for his part, seemed rather wary. He must have known Trump was just staging another TV reality show.

At least “Rocket Man” isn’t still firing off nuclear missiles and dire threats. So this silly “summit” wasn’t all bad.

But, trust me, Kim isn’t about to ditch his bombs and missiles. They’ve brought him recognition as an equal from the mighty United States. And he hasn’t had to give up anything in return.

I doubt any real progress was achieved in Singapore last night. And I suspect the “summit” will lead to no meaningful concessions from Kim in the foreseeable future.

But it brought Trump valuable TV time. And his base must be basking in his reflected fame. They’re already clamoring for him to get the Nobel Peace Prize.

So the farce that is the Trump presidency goes on, providing a continuous circus to keep the masses engaged.

For, as the Roman poet Juvenal astutely observed, all the people need to keep them in servitude is bread and circuses.

So now that we have the circuses, what about the bread? We’re still waiting for delivery on that promise.

More on the “summit”

More on bread and circuses

 

What Now in World Trade?

 

Trump’s tariff war on America’s longtime trading partners leaves the global market in a state of flux. What do you think will happen now?

There is retaliation of course, and there will probably be escalation. And…?

Trump’s position seems to be that America is such a great consumer market that other countries must accept any terms he offers if they want access to it.

And, yes, America is where the money is. With a population of 300 million-plus, who wouldn’t want to sell their goods here? Besides, America’s millions of consumers are richer than most, and they tend to be big spenders.

But America is not the only coveted market in the world.

In addition to Europe and Latin America, there are new global players  coming of age in Asia.This continent is home to more than half of the world’s people. And a robust middle class is emerging there.

With America shunning the Trans Pacific Partnership, Canada, Mexico, the UK and mainland Europe may have an opportunity to forge new and lucrative trading partnerships in that part of the world.

I am not as knowledgeable as I would wish when it comes to the rest of the world, but I lived in Canada, and I know a little about that economy.

Canada is enormously rich in natural resources and agricultural products. All kinds of minerals (even rare earth metals) abound in Canada. Oil, uranium and other energy producing resources are also abundant.

Much of the vast land is stiill covered by forests, and Canadian grain could easily feed the global population.

Also, the water on which many American communities rely originates in Canada.

For generations American interests have developed Canadian resources with rewards for both countries. Tearing this symbiotic relationship apart would be agonizing, perhaps, but not impossible.

China already hankers after Canada’s oil, which Americans spurn as “dirty.” And China seems eager to acquire Canadian real estate. With the billions the Chinese have accumulated from America, they might reasonably be expected to invest quite heavily in Canada.

It seems to me that Trump is rushing in where angels would fear to tread. Someone needs to talk sense into him.

If, of course, that’s possible.

Trump’s tariff war

More on Canada’s global trade

More on rare earth metals

More on Canada’s resources

 

Why Don’t I Just Leave?

 

A reader (using the pseudonym of “Chris”) wants to know why I don’t just go back where I came from instead of staying to criticize America.

It’s a refrain often heard today as xenophobia sweeps this ailing nation.

And it deserves an answer.

The short answer, in my case, is that I think the United States, despite its failings, is worth saving. And I believe it still can be saved.

Even with Donald Trump as president and with so many Americans spewing hate.

For centuries this nation has held up the torch of freedom and democracy for the rest of the world to follow.

Admittedly, America has sometimes had misguided leadership. It has strayed from its noble mission. But overall, this land has been our land – a land in which we are free to pursue our dreams, beyond the reach of oppressive princes and potentates.

Rich or poor, we can hold our heads high, unfettered by notions of class or caste. And “we the people” are empowered to govern ourselves.

It is a concept that is always under attack by formidable forces. And it is more endangered than ever in these troubled times. But I believe the vast majority of Americans would again defend it with their lives.

No, “Chris,” I am not going to pack up and go back to Jamaica even if you and your kind come marauding down Post Lane with your guns ablaze.

I will not be intimidated by the likes of you.

And I will not be intimidated by your belligerent president. I will continue to point out his flawed behavior – without fear or favor.

And as even the most “low-information” observers can see, Trump is behaving outrageously.

In addition to a multitude of domestic transgressions, he is pursuing a destructive and dangerous foreign policy.

He is embracing the Russian oligarchy, which is an undisguised criminal enterprise. while he gratuitously insults Canada’s prime minister, mocks Britain’s chief of state and belittles traditional US allies around the world.

He must mistake civility for weakness. When our former allies respond to his attacks, he is in for a rude awakening.

But I believe this, too, shall pass. We the people will not meekly accept this aberration.

It has been said that the darkest hour is before the dawn. My hope is that a new dawn is coming for these United States. And I do not intend to go anywhere in the meantime.

Trump’s attacks on the G7

Declaration of Independence

Hope for America

 

When Women Roar

Was Rudyard Kipling right when he declared that “the female of the species is more deadly than the male”?

As a famous female used to say, “You betcha!”

Kipling cites examples among wild animals and he could have found even more in the insect population – black widow spiders, praying mantises and the like.

He also finds deadly examples among North America’s indigenous people.

He doesn’t mention female politicians. But I bet if he were writing that poem in America today, he would have.

Women are flexing their muscles in US politics. At least 500 women are running for major office in November’s elections. And female candidates scored numerous victories in Tuesday’s primaries.

Even more ominous for the status quo, women voters seem energized as never before. They’re turning out in droves.

The pundits are identifying Trump’s misogyny as the spark that ignited this uprising. But I suspect there’s more to it than that.

Women have put up with too much for too long..

This new insurgency has been building for years, and it has built up a head of steam unlike any movement in America since Women’s Sufffrage.

America’s swaggering  males, who have dominated the political scene for generations, should be quaking in their shoes. Their day in the sun is drawing to an end.

And I think it’s about time. Don’t you?

Women running for office

Women in the primaries

Kipling’s poem

 

A Spreading Mob Culture

 

I believe that a mobster occupies the highest post in the land. I believe that he reveals his mob roots with the tweets he writes, the lurid threats he utters, the lies he concocts and, especially, his administration’s brazen corruption

And I see this culture spreading across America like a deadly infection.

An all-too-obvious symptom is the coarsening of the nation’s language. Words that once were never heard in polite discourse pepper the media. Topics that were once reserved for private discussion are minutely examined in the most public forums and flaunted even in TV and internet commercials. (Google Peyronie’s disease commercials  if you doubt me.)

You may dismiss this – even welcome it – as healthy candor. But you cannot possibly condone the accompanying acceptance of violent behavior.

In today’s America, disagreement is being expressed not only in thuggish language but also in thuggish actions.

Here’s an example, from today’s Miami Herald:

Parkland shooting survivor turned anti-gun activist David Hogg (photo) avoided another potentially deadly incident Tuesday — after police armed with assault rifles kicked down the door of his family home. Broward County sheriff’s officials were responding to a call that Hogg and his family had been taken hostage by an assailant armed with an AR-15.

That call turned out to be false.

The Herald concluded that while it looked like one of those sick “swatting” pranks that have become so common, this was really attempted murder.

The Herald elaborated:

We live in a country where police can and do kill citizens if they feel threatened. Sending police into a home invasion scenario — facing down an AR-15-toting hostage taker — was well calculated to create a justifiable threat. That Hogg has become a lightning rod for controversy, drawing the ire of pro-gun activists in particular, only made the threat more plausible.

Is this the country you want to live in?

As for me, I refuse to  accept the new norms. And I intend to make my feelings clear in November by voting against the craven politicians who are enabling the thug that I blame for the ugliness.

The David Hogg “prank”

More on mob culture

 

Ruling by Divine Right

 

Long, long ago, some people argued that  kings derived their authority  from God and could not therefore be held accountable for their actions by any earthly authority.

King Charles I of England was one of the true believers, and it got him beheaded.

It’s hard to believe that in today’s America, this old fairy tale is being revived. The Founding Fathers must be turning over in their graves.

Are we supposed to accept the notion that the colonists who told King George III to get lost would create a nation to be ruled by Divine Right?

Yet that’s what Trump’s lawyers seem to be preaching. They argue that as president, Trump is above the law.

To back up this preposterous idea, they cite the president’s constitutional power to pardon.

If he can pardon lawbreakers, he must be above the law. Right?

In Jamaica, they would call that “puss logic.” Philosophers call it sophistry.

Call it what you like, it isn’t going to sway today’s America.

In this democracy, “we the people” call the shots. We pledge allegiance to the flag and renounce all fidelity to any prince or potentate, foreign or domestic.

Yes, I know, some of us, the people, yearn for an overlord, someone to follow without question, like those pathetic Jonestown victims or the acolytes who perished in the flames at Waco.

And I realize many of Trump’s loyalists are like members of a cult, beyond the reach of reason.

But at worst, they’re less than a third of the American population.

However fierce they might be, they cannot overwhelm the rest of us.

And it might come to that, after all. We the people might have to take arms once again to overcome the tyranny of a new despot.

My hope is that we can avert such a calamity, that by turning out en masse in November, we can exert our power at the ballot box, instead of resorting to “bombs bursting in air.”

By voting out this craven Congress, we the people could regain the ability to restrain – perhaps to remove – this president who would be king.

If we fail our nation now, the consequences will surely be terrifying – possibly even bloody.

More on Trump’s lawyers

More on Charles I

The Jonestown Massacre

More about Waco

The Naturalization Oath