Finding the Right Bush

As a young reporter, I traveled across Canada with the late, great Tommy Douglas, and I can still remember how stirring his speeches were. His rhetoric was richly illustrated by anecdotes, and one of the stories he told  came to mind this morning as i pondered the mess America is in.

The story, as I remember it, was about a confrontation he had when he was first elected to Parliament. He recalled advocating a war on poverty that would have cost millions. I don’t remember the exact amount, but for the sake of this story let’s say it was $200 million (which was quite a lot of money back in those days).

Tommy said a senior member of the opposing political party patronizingly remarked that “two hundred million dollars doesn’t grow on gooseberry bushes.”

To which Tommy replied:

I don’t know what kind of bush two hundred million dollars grows on, but if a war were declared today, the honorable member would find the bush.

Yes, governments can always find the money for projects they really want. They do it by raising taxes or by just letting the national debt soar.

As Trump is doing now. You and I (and our children and grandchildren) owe more than $21 trillion, I understand. And it’s going to get worse as the recent tax giveaway to the richest Americans impacts the government’s bottom line.

Sooner or later, Trump will notice the skyrocketing debt and decide we the people need to tighten our belts.

You know he isn’t going to cut his pet projects or stop lavishing tax money on the Pentagon. It’s social spending that will get the axe.

He will tell us seniors America can’t afford to pay the Social Security we are owed. And he will attack our Medicare.

He will slash food stamps for the destitute and abolish school lunches for hungry kids. Educational funds will dry up. Research grants will disappear (you can forget about the arts and sciences).

Meanwhile, his cronies will rake in billions by housing the kids stolen from asylum seekers,by  operating  prisons for profit and by other nefarious privatization scams.

Why do so many Americans put up with this kind of highway robbery?

Because Trump panders to their bigotry and intolerance. He is about to criminalize abortion, for example. And he is savagely pursuing a racist immigration agenda.

He is also demonizing religious – and all other – minorities. And he is poking the fire of jingoism.

Horrifyingly, millions of Americans are prepared to sell their birthright for Trump’s malodorous mess of pottage.

We will find out ust how numerous these people are when the nation goes to the polls in November.

The ugly Americans

How much we owe

Another Tommy Douglas story

Who was Tommy Douglas, anyway?

 

A Dispiriting Picture

 

I get weary when I read that Trump’s approval rating is consistently above 40 percent and Fox is number one among cable news channels. I am stunned when I learn 80 – even 90 – percent of Republicans think Trump is doing a great job.

Who are the people responding to these polls? Who listens to Sean Hannity, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Jesse Watters, Laura Ingraham and the rest of those Fox propagandists?

Are they allowed to roam about freely? They might be a danger to themselves and others., Lock ’em up! Lock ’em up!

OK, I’m being facetious. They have every right to their opinions –  even the racists and fascists among them. This is still America, after all.

But this is not the America I imagined when I swore allegiance to the flag and abjured foreign princes and potentates.

This is not the America I envisaged when I watched movies like “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

This is definitely not “the land of the free and the home of the brave” that I chose as my home.

And, yes, Chris K or any other xenophobe reading the blog. I should get out before it’s too late. I might just do that if the midterms prove as disappointing as I fear they might.

In the meantime, it’s hard to muster the will to write blogs. Yes, LogicFish and Joy, the rabbit hole is becoming uninhabitable.

I feel very, very old today. Old and defeated.

Perhaps I’ll feel better tomorrow. Or the day after. Or the day after that…

Who’s who in right-wing news

The kind of stuff they listen to

Ihose incredible poll numbers

 

Whose Land is it, Really?

I know I’m treading on dangerous ground today, but nagging questions have been buzzing in my head and I need your help in answering them.

As I understand it, the Spanish stole Texas and California from the ancestors of the indigenous people who are now trying to swarm across America’s southern border. And America acquired Texas and California after those territories kicked out the Spanish.

If this is true, does America have a moral obligation to give special consideration to the indigenous people who occupied the seized territories?

Canada paid its indigenous people huge sums as reparation for taking their land.  Does the US owe reparation to the original occupants of the territories forcefully acquired from Mexico?

And should that reparation include their right to return to the land stolen from them?

I know, I can hear you gasping from here. But that’s only fair, isn’t it?

Instead, we have criminalized and demonized these poor indigenous people, with their brown skin and “foreign” ways. We kidnap and imprison their children – even their babies – when they seek asylum in America.

All of that after illegally and immorally intervening in their sovereign states, helping to create the deadly narcoterrorism from which they are fleeing.

In a land that values “justice for all,” shouldn’t we reexamine our treatment of our Latin American neighbors?

Or am I missing something?

Some answers I found on the web

Terror south of the border

US interventions in Latin America

More on Canada’s reparations

About Native American reparation

 

A Lack of Common Sense

Remember Voltaire’s lament on the rarity of common sense? Don’t you think it’s even less common today than it was in his time?

There’s a two-dimensional quality to political discourse, for example.

Gun control is a case in point.

The Founding Fathers gave us the right to arm ourselves as a bulwark against tyranny. But surely that doesn’t mean the government has absolutely no power to limit arms possession and use?

The framers of the Constitution also gave us the right to speak our minds. But a past Supreme Court wisely decided we don’t have the right to shout “fire” falsely in a crowded theater.

What has happened to that kind of common sense?

Today, we are debating gun ownership. Soon we will likely be lamenting the revocation of abortion rights.

And you know the arguments for and against abortion will be as shrill as those concerning gun ownership. We aren’t likely to hear the still, small voice of reason in the shouting and the tumult that’s sure to erupt.

In today’s politics, there seems to be no “on-the-other-hand,” no second thought, no give-and-take.

Of course, when it comes to right and wrong, there can be no compromise. Some things are just plain wrong.  Rationalizing  blatant abuse is doing the Devil’s work.

And all it takes to know the difference between right and wrong is a conscience – and common sense.

But now, we have Supreme Court justices subject to political dogma instead of human wisdom. Justices are either “conservative” or “liberal.”

What happened to “wise”? What happened to “fair”?

There’s no personal integrity left. If Trump picks a “conservative” justice – as he most certainly will – the poor creature will never dare to dissent from party doctrine.

I bet the Founding Fathers did not foresee such a miscarriage of justice. Back in their day, society respected – and expected – independent thought and personal integrity in its leaders.

Back in their day, America had leaders who listened to their consciences and valued self respect above party loyalty.

Today dogma rules. And that is very sad.

The looming abortion battle

An example of today’s rhetoric

Another example

 

When “Rights” Collide

 

I don’t imagine any reasonable person thinks it’s OK to settle a verbal dispute by violence. So when I exercise my First Amendment right, you don’t have the right to shoot me.

That’s how I would sum up the gun control debate that’s sure to be revived in the aftermath of yesterday’s massacre in the Capital Gazette newsroom.

I spent my working life in newsrooms, and what we wrote did not always sit well with readers. But, thankfully. nobody ever showed up with guns blazing to make their point.

Oh, I’ve been shoved about. Readers have sometimes been quite robust in expressing their frustration. Some got quite physical. But, as luck would have it, none of them was bearing arms at the time.

Yes, Americans have the right to bear arms. Not because the Constitution says so. Because the Supreme Court took it upon itself to bestow that right.

The Constitution refers to a “well armed militia,” not to individuals.

And it wasn’t a militia that stormed the newsroom in Maryland yesterday and murdered five innocent journalists. It was an individual American  who obviously should not have been allowed anywhere near a firearm.

I shouldn’t have to argue that some people are unfit to use guns. I shouldn’t have to point out that military grade weapons belong on the battlefield and in police stations, not in private homes.

The tide of blood that has been flowing in America – even in schools and churches – should already provide a convincing argument.

But there’s a lot of money to be made selling guns. And the interests making the money spend a lot of it influencing lawmakers and spreading pro-gun propaganda.

So common sense gun control remains beyond our reach. And innocent blood is shed – again and again and again…

More on the latest massacre

The five victims

The suspect

US gun violence – the facts

 Supreme Court’s decision

Gun rights – pro and con

 

An Alternative to Violence?

 

Fortunately, in the most vicious stand-off in America since the Civil War, I have noticed no sign of involvement by the violent Antifa movement.

I deplore violence, even in the face of egregious atrocities. Mass violence achieves nothing good. It only creates more violence. And innocent bystanders are victimized.

So when the base of America’s democracy crumbles, when our institutions are undermined, our beliefs mocked and our norms of decency shredded, what can we the people do?

With the court’s specious rubber stamping of Trump’s Muslim travel ban and Congress cowering before him, it seems we can no longer rely on the Constitutional separation of powers to protect us.

Villainy stalks the land. Children are snatched from their parents and confined in secret concentration camps. Long-established laws are brushed aside with disdain.

Trump once suggested that he could shoot someone dead in the middle of Times Square and face no retribution. He might be right.

With the highest court in the land apparently subverted, he could well be above the law.

America’s democratic system seems broken.

There are peaceful demonstrations everywhere of course.  Mainstream media are aghast. There is sure to be an anti-Trump reaction at the ballot box in November.

But will that be enough to curb Trump’s despotic rampage?

Or will the lies and confusion spread by Trump and his gang blunt the electoral response? And will Russia’s hackers once again subvert our democratic process?

What happens if peaceful protest fails, if the electoral system is corrupted? Must we docilely allow Trump to have his way with us?

I still say mass violence is not the answer. But would a nationwide strike be effective? And might a crusade of civil disobedience prevail?

Would we the people have the resolve to stage the kind of passive resistance that won India’s independence from Britain?

Let’s pray we won’t need to find out, that our democracy will somehow withstand this savage assault, that the ballot box will prove an impenetrable defense against Trump’s despotism.

In God we trust, after all.

Supreme Court’s ruling

Its constitutional implications

Examining the path forward

How the Indians defied Britain

 

Dangers of Isolationism

America’s Golden Age has resulted from global interaction. It seems to me that Trump’s isolationist policies could bring this period of prosperity to an abrupt end.

US based corporations like United Fruit Company and Standard Oil became global power houses by exploiting – you might even say plundering – the resources of foreign countries.

And the agreement to use the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency has given the American financial system special advantages.

Trade agreements have been good and bad for America, but on balance, I would say they have been more good than bad.

With the benefit of hindsight, America’s leaders may have been reckless in ceding heavy manufacturing to China and the electronics and garment industries to low-wage countries around the globe.

Such policies have cost hundreds of thousands – perhaps millions – of American jobs, but it has helped to restrain domestic consumer prices.

It has also enriched US-based corporations, bringing everyday Americans increased dividends and profits from their stock market investments. And it created domestic jobs as America’s global corporations grew.

Perhaps most significantly, global trade and diversified industrial production have generated a robust international economy, from which America has benefited.

In China, India and the Far East, new markets have developed with the emergence of a growing consumer class.

In any case, the ship has sailed. Global trade is now a fact of life. Trump is like King Canute, standing on the shore and ordering the waves to go back.

What’s more likely to result is the kind of depression that afflicted America many decades ago after a similar protectionist surge.

America could also lose its privileged position in the financial market. World powers were advocating a change in the reserve currency provision even before Trump.

Of course, that would not be all bad for Uncle Sam. There are costs as well as benefits in being the world’s reserve currency. But it would certainly be a shock to the economic status quo.

Regrettably, I do not possess the expertise – or access to adequate tools – to forecast all of the complex reverberations ahead, but from what I know, I fear Trump is steering the American economy over a cliff.

Companies already affected

More repercussions

Tariffs and the Great Depression

Tariffs throughout US history

What reserve currency means

 

A Moral Uprising

 

And so it begins…

Attorneys are offering to represent government workers who balk at Trump’s seizure and detention  of refugee children.

Employees at Amazon are protesting against the use of their technical expertise in implementing Trump’s abusive “zero tolerance” program.

Activists are raising millions to fight the program in court, and track the seized children.

Decent people across America are holding mass demonstrations, protesting on social media, writing and calling their political representatives…

America’s conscience is awake at last. We the people have had enough.

And we the people have the power to end this horror. All we have to do is refuse to aid and abet Trump’s villainy.

If nobody will drive the bus or staff the concentration camps or participate jn any way in this morally outrageous program, it cannot continue.

All we have to do is say no to Trump. And decent Americans are beginning to do just that.

Rachel reports on the uprising

What Amazon workers are saying

More on immigration abuses

Toward a solution

 

Are We Trump’s Jews?

 

The Nazis seized power by turning the Germans against the Jews. Trump seems to be targeting immigrants to seize power in America.

As I”m sure you know, he is staging a theatrical show of force at the country’s border with Mexico. where “illegal immigrants” are being subjected to savage “zero tolerance” practices.

This grotesque campaign includes a remorseless assault on asylum seekers – even the imprisonment of children in internment camps.

And the draconian policy is not restricted to the southern border.

A French girl, who was visiting British Columbia, was arrested and jailed for two weeks recently when she inadvertently jogged into the US.

By word and deed, Trump is attacking all immigrants, pointedly giving xenophobic Americans a target for tribal hatred.

Even those of us who became US citizens are at risk.

Immigration officials are scanning our citizenship applications in search of “errors.” If they find any, or claim to find any, they plan to revoke our citizenship.

These are frightening times.

But I believe America is better than that. I believe this great democracy will rebuff Trump’s crude crusade to divide and rule us.

The moment of truth is coming in November. Will Trump’s promised “red wave”  engulf immigrants in a nightmare of terror? Or will a “blue wave” cleanse the nation of Trump’s toxins?

We immigrants can only watch and pray.

Trump and Nazi Germany

Human rights violations

More on the jogger

More on revoking citizenship

 

Devils at Work Among Us?

 

Could HHS Secretary Alex Azar be a devil in human form? Is he perhaps Beelzebub and Donald Trump Lucifer?

I know, you might not  believe in devils. You might dismiss such mystical concepts as fanciful nonsense. But do you have a more plausible explanation for what’s being done to thousands of helpless children?

Imagine yourself a child. Imagine being forcibly taken from your mother or father, manhandled by adults who speak a strange tongue, confined in a chicken-wire cage, awakened in the predawn darkness and ferried to some far-off destination without  knowing where you’re going or what’s to become of you.

Would the jabbering creatures who are doing these things to you not seem like devils?

And isn’t this kind of torment a violation of the worldwide ban on torture?

Isn’t it also torture to confine young children in tent cities in the middle of the desert where temperatures soar above 100 degrees Fahrenheit?

I look out my den window, here in Central Florida, and nothing seems amiss. The lake is not boiling, the sky is not black.  And I wonder how everything scan seem so normal when such horrors are being committed.

And I wonder, what could the motive be? Why the cloak-and-dagger secrecy?

Could my government be stealing immigrant children for a pedophile ring?

Wait! Don’t call the men with the butterfly nets. I’m not crazy. Not yet. Stranger things have happened in this dark world of ours.

Or is this just another scheme to enrich Trump’s allies? After all, private contractors are making millions from housing and transporting those immigrant children.

Or is the Trump gang demonstrating the depths of cruelty and depravity of which they are capable?

Are they trying to frighten us? Is this state terrorism?

Whatever they’re up to, we the people are having none of it. Americans across the land are rising up to confront the evildoers.

This has become a battle between Good and Evil.

And I sit here, a helpless old man, powerless to confront the forces of evil. All I can do is pray.

What’s happening to seized kids

More on seized kids

One man making millions

Yes, it’s terrorism

Who is Alex Azar?