A Day in the Age of Trump

 

 

No interruption so far in access to the blog site, so I’ll keep blogging until I hear something more from Xavier…

It’s another day in Trumpistan…

The Trump faithful may be taking comfort from Rudy Giuliani’s  rambling interview on TV yesterday, but the rest of us are left wondering what that was all about.

And we’re bemused by Trump’s threat to shut down the government if he doesn’t get his wall.

Haven’t we seen this movie before?

Meanwhile, the Koch brother (there’s only one in public life now, the other one has called it quits) is threatening to defy the American oligarch. According to reports,Koch might back selected Democrats in the midterm elections.

And he has a war chest of $400 million.

Trump responded by calling Koch “a joke,” (but he failed to recognize the farcical nature of his favorite lawyer’s latest TV performance).

Accused money launderer (etc., etc., etc.) Paul Manafort goes to court today to face the prospect of 100 years or so in prison.

That’s the same Paul Manafort who managed Trump’s campaign at one point.

You think he might turn state’s evidence and rat on Trump?

Manafort was waist deep in Russian rubles, according to the prosecution. Did Russian hackers collude with trump through Manafort?

But not to worry, says Giuliani, Manafort has nothing on Trump. And anyway, collusion is not a crime.

Of course conspiracy to commit a crime is against the law, but in Giuliani’s legal opinion it’s OK if you call it collusion.

What about Michael Cohen? Doesn’t he have something on Trump? After all, he was Trump’s lawyer and “fixer” for years.

But Giuliani has that covered, too. Cohen is a well known liar, he argues. Who’s going to believe him?

So who are we to believe? Trump?

I know, it all sounds crazy. But it’s politics as usual in the Age if Trump.

So many questions. So few answers.

Will the remaining Koch brother really turn on Trump’s Republicans?

Will Trump shut down the government? Will Congress cave and fund his wall?

Will Mueller ever issue his report? Will the report unveil an intricate web of money laundering, racketeering and collusion with an enemy of the US?

Will Trump be at the center of that web?

And will the American people believe Mueller? Or will they accept Trump’s explanation that it’s all a witch hunt inspired by the deep state, the mainstream media and various other enemies of the people?

Who knows? As Giuliani said yesterday, nobody can be sure of anything.

Giuliani’s TV rant

Trump’s shut-down threat

Manafort’s trial

Koch’s philosophy

 

A Hiatus and a Warning.

 

If you don’t see any blogs in the next few days, don’t worry. Trump’s minions have not come for me. Webmaster Xavier is making improvements.

Here’s the email I got this morning:

They started work on the blog consolidation; however they are not done. It is taking a little longer than expected. I am traveling tomorrow for a family vacation for a week. I will have limited access but will check email where I can. I told them to make your blog a priority.

You will have a new login and password once it is set up. You will also login to a new area. I am going to ask that the information is sent to you in case I am unavailable. It will probably be an email with the title “WordPress Registration”.

It looks as if this old dog is going to have to learn some new tricks. I might never be able to figure it all out. Cyber literacy is not my strong suit.

So just in case you never hear from me again, I’ll leave you with these parting words:

Ignore the BS, especially the (mostly fake) comments you will be seeing on social media. Ignore everything politicians say or are quoted as saying. Ignore the news – real or fake. Ignore the  jabberwocky your Republican friends will be spewing.

When you go to the polls in November, fill in the oval next to any name with a “D” next to it.

How simple is that?

If you fail to follow my advice, you will deserve the shame and guilt that will surely ensue as America crumbles into a failed Third World dictatorship and Americans are enslaved by Putin and his mob

The Russian kleptocrat might even invade Alaska, and then who knows what’s next, Canada?

Do you want to be responsible for that?  I didn’t think so.

Putin’s master plan

Putin on Alaska invasion

More on Alaska threat

 

Strong Man Never Wrong?

 

Growing up in Jamaica, I often heard the saying, “Strong man never wrong.” It was a reflection of the society of the times.

Jamaica was a colony in which white colonists and British civil servants called the shots. The black majority had no say. They were expected to do as they were told, treat “their betters” with respect and keep their complaints to themselves.

I recall with distaste autocratic civil servants who ran the government, arrogant bullies who owned the plantations, rapacious merchants who dominated the economy and prejudiced bankers who preferentially served the “ruling class” without pretense or shame.

Even the law enforcement and criminal justice systems tended to favor the colonial “upper crust.”

Not everyone in the colonial class “took advantage,” of course. There were well meaning public servants, benevolent “property” owners and honest merchants and bankers.

But the advantage was there to be taken.

This type of oppression could not continue. Alexander Bustamante and Norman Manley emerged to challenge the status quo. There were strikes and riots. The British overlords finally yielded to the pressure, and Jamaica won its independence.

With independence came democracy. And I am sure – with all its shortcomings – their democracy is precious to Jamaicans today.

So you can imagine my horror when I realize that many Americans do not value democracy. They are apparently hankering for a “strong man” society like the one Jamaicans rejected.

They want a boss like the one on the Apprentice TV show, a tyrannical bully who delights in firing underlings.

And I wonder,if they really know what they’re yearning for.

In America, they say, “Be careful what you wish for; you might get it.”

And as a Jamaican transplanted to America, I say, “Amen!”

US democracy under fire

 

In a Strange Land

 

As Trump’s apparatchiks sort through citizenship applications from long, long ago, apparently threatening to revoke my right to live in America, my desire to stay grows ever less fervent.

I hardly recognize America today.

In Central Florida, where I live, a man was just gunned down in a fight over a handicapped parking space, and I understand no charges can be filed against his killer.

A recently passed “stand your ground” law supposedly gives the shooter the right to kill anyone who “puts him in fear.”

Do I have to tell you that a black man would put most white Americans in fear if they met by chance on some lonely road on a dark night?

In North Carolina, where my brother Peter and Sandra’s brother David both live, a state House candidate named Russell Walker proclaimed that God is a racist and a white supremacist. He adds that all Jews are descended from Satan.

Yes, he’s a Republican. What else could he be?

In Congress, an immigration “reform” bill would partially close the door on Hispanics and other non-whites and encourage more immigrants from countries like Norway.

In our nation’s capital, a “white civil rights rally” is to be held a couple of weekends from now. Those poor, oppressed white folks! Doesn’t your heart just bleed for them?

I could go on and on. These are not isolated aberrations. They are signs of the times.

With Trump’s approval rating holding strong and soaring among white males., there’s a race revolution brewing in America – an “Anglo-Saxon” uprising.

I  seem to sense it in my neighborhood.

I used to walk along Post Lane and stop to chat with Marvin and Sandy, Larry and Mona and my other neighbors, all of whom happen to be white.

When Marge’s husband John passed away, Sandra and I went to his funeral.

Ricky, across the street, used to visit now and then. Sandra had him and his grandmother over for dinner.

Linda, whose lot backs on to ours, also came for dinner and invited Sandra for tea with another neighbor Ann.

But I haven’t heard from any of the neighbors in weeks. Does that signify anything?

I don’t mind anyway. I probably don’t have any pleasantries to share with them today. I suspect they’re all Republicans.

The “stand your ground” case

More on “God is a racist!”

White civil rights rally

Trump”s “white America” crusade

America’s racist tradition

 

In a Phantasmagoria

Dave Granlund / politicalcartoons.com

 

What are we to think when “evangelicals” find common ground with America’s libertine president?

How are we to make sense of a world in which the self-righteous Southern Baptists rally behind a blackguard like Trump?

I can vividly recall the Baptists of my youth. Cards and dice are the Devil’s device, they preached. They abjured such evils as dancing, and scolded women who wore “short” skirts,and “defiled”  their faces with lipstick and rouge.

How can these same people link arms with a groper, a serial adulterer, a gambler, a liar and a hustler – in sum a shameless and unrepentant prodigal.

Of course I know that politics makes strange bedfellows.But, even so, the Age of Trump leaves me scratching my head.

I am dismayed, for example,when “libertarians” Rand Paul and Mike Lee cozy up to this autocrat who is transparently campaigning to be America’s dictator.

I am confused as “tax hawks” apparently approve his giveaways to the rich.  I am bemused as “deficit hawks” silently accept his soaring trillion-dollar deficit.

And I conclude that words no longer mean anything, that labels are merely cosmetic, that everything I see and hear is part of a dazzling pantomime, designed to mystify and mislead.

So what does “democracy” mean in the Age of Trump? Or “liberty” ? Or “justice”?

Step right up ladies and gentlemen, prepare to be amazed! Welcome to the Greatest Show on Earth!

Or could this really be a freak show?

Strange bedfellows

Evangelicals for Trump

More on Southern Baptists

 

Oh, Those Scary Labels!

 

Democratic Party bigwigs are reportedly cowering in fear because the base is turning to “Democratic Socialism.” I wish those old fossils would (as one of my readers might put it) get a grip.

Yes, the Socialist label has been demonized in America. And. yes, some brands of Socialism have failed spectacularly all over the world. I’m sure my Jamaican readers remember the well meaning Manleys, Norman and Michael, and the mess they made of our island’s economy.

But I’m sure the Democratic Socialists in today’s America don’t subscribe to the failed economic theories of yesteryear. They would certainly shudder at the thought of Uncle Sam seizing General Motors, for example.

I am sympathetic to Democratic Socialism.  It works in Canada. It works in Sweden. It works in Holland. It works in Norway…

It works wherever it’s employed with simple common sense.

I’m sure the young Americans who call themselves Democratic Socialists don’t believe in government land grabs or giving control of private industry to a bunch of bumbling bureaucrats.

They would cringe at the random dumping of dollars into the American economy in the mystical belief that this would somehow generate more than enough wealth to pay the government back.

(It’s the same kind of thinking that makes Republicans slash taxes for the rich, believing it will magically generate widespread economic growth benefiting everybody.)

What today’s “Democratic Socialists” want is just a fair deal.

They want better – and safer – schools, good roads and bridges, less poverty, affordable health care, a living wage, help with college tuition, a secure old age… day-to-day stuff like that.

And they want an end to the blatant plundering of the economy by a pampered elite. That has become too obvious to ignore.

We common folks are sick of being splashed by muddy water from the tires of those Ferraris and Lamborghinis roaring by as we walk through the rain to our jobs at McDonald’s and Burger King.

I just wish the folks in charge of the Democratic Party would grow a spine. I just wish they would ignore those scary labels and focus on the bread-and-butter issues of the day.

If the Democrats want our votes, they should talk about employment and education, health care and law enforcement…

We the people want a living wage and good, safe schools. We want good roads, safe bridges, buses and trains that run on time…

And we would like free – or genuinely affordable – health care. And possibly free college tuition. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Also, we would like you fat cats who’re running things to stop spouting nonsense as if you think we the people are all dumb – and blind.

We know you’re lining your pockets and those of your pals. We know you’re feathering your nests and living the good life at our expense.

But could you spare a few crumbs for those of us on the outside looking in?

How about healthcare for starters? We’re dying out here.

Pelosi on Democratic Socialists

Demonizing “Socialism”

 

Serving the Afflicted

 

If those kidnapped refugee children are ever reunited with their parents, it won’t be because of Ice Queen Kirstjen Nielsen (photo) or heartless apparatchik Alex Azar . It will be groups like Catholic Charities we have to thank.

These privately funded groups – and an army of volunteers – are working day and night behind the scenes to identify and unite the families torn apart by Trump’s grotesque immigration mandate.

I don’t know about all of the activist groups doing this complex and time consuming job, but I know a little about Catholic Charities. I wrote a feature article about them long ago, when I worked for the Tampa Tribune.

As a newspaper reporter, I was obliged to stick to the facts in that article. I couldn’t let my emotions or opinions show. But I have more license in this blog to reveal my feelings, so I can tell you those folks won my heart. They were magnificent.

Their mission was to serve the shamelessly exploited immigrant families who toil in Central Florida’s strawberry fields.

Those nuns not only  baby sat the children as both parents spent every daylight hour squatting in the blistering sunshine,  trying to earn a few dollars.  They also taught those kids their ABC’s, fed them when they were hungry and nursed them lovingly when they were sick or hurt.

Meanwhile, a priest helped the immigrant parents navigate America’s daunting immigration maze, protecting them from a soulless bureaucracy and reuniting wives and husbands cruelly parted by the US-Mexico border.

These missionaries were nothing like the obnoxious zealots who give religion a bad name. They were true Christians, feeding the hungry, healing the sick and providing succor to the vulnerable and oppressed.

And I, for one, am grateful for the work they do, often unacknowledged and sometimes even vilified.

People like these reinforce my faith and keep me from surrendering to despair. May God bless them and give them the strength to carry on.

More on kidnapped kids

More on Catholic Charities

More on the unsung heroes

Groups reuniting refugee families

 

In an Age of Cyber Wars

 

I don’t own a smart phone. I use an old-fashioned flip phone and I have trouble reading texts or retrieving voice mail messages on it.

I don’t own a laptop or a notebook. I sit at a desk and type these blogs on a 10-year-old PC that crashes mysteriously from time to time.

As you might imagine, my background in electronics is scant. When I got a job editing user manuals three decades ago, I had to look up the meaning of “macro.”

So you can imagine how bewildered I am by today’s whirlwind advances in the cyber world.

And I suspect I am not alone.

As I scan pictures of our lawmakers, many with gray hair and wrinkled faces, I wonder how these old fogies are going  to cope with the sophisticated threats America is facing.

Today’s wars aren’t fought only with bombers and tanks.  They’re also fought with computers.  Armies of hackers are deployed to infiltrate and control an enemy’s electronic infrastructure.

So when I read that the Russians haven’t just hacked into our electoral systems but also into computers controlling power grids and nuclear plants, it seems obvious to me that America is under attack.

Putin’s cyber forces are burrowing into our national defenses even as he hugs his buddy Trump and amiably answers questions from American reporters.

And this is not just the addled opinion of an old Luddite like me. According to Dan Coats, the US director of National Intelligence :

Today, the digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack.

How naive we must seem to our wily Russian invaders. How easy a target this country has become despite our monstrous defense budgets and nuclear arsenal.

While American battleships steam menacingly into the South China Sea and Trump brags about militarizing space, Russian attackers are hacking into the electronic brain that runs everything in America.

Who knows how deeply the Russian tentacles have spread? Who can guess what’s next?

The fogies in Congress want to know. A House subcommittee is holding hearings to try and figure things out. But they might be too late.

We may already be in Putin’s iron grip. Not just because he owns Trump, but because he might also control our country’s electronic brain.

An expert’s urgent warning

Hacking our power grid

Arrest of Russian attackers

What Congress is doing

 

The Question Before Us

 

So Trump has left no doubt about his loyalty to Putin and his disloyalty to America. Some are calling it treason.

And Americans are left facing the most vital question of our time:

What do we do now?

What should we do? What can we do? What must we do?

We must do something.

With the midterm elections less than four months away, we face the imminent threat of even more destructive Russian meddling.

Bots and paid provocateurs are already at work, poisoning social media and spreading propaganda. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, an army of professional hackers has been deployed to infiltrate and subvert our electoral system.

And Trump has signaled that he will do nothing to protect our democracy.

So it seems frighteningly possible that we will not be able to rely on the polls to reflect the will of the people.

Where does that leave us?

It seems obvious to me that we the people must resist. As Mahatma Gandhi said, civil disobedience is our sacred duty at times like this.  And Thomas Jefferson called for even more violent resistance, proclaiming that:

Rebellion to tyranny is obedience to God.

Let us hope our sacred duty does not call us to violence. Let us first use every peaceful means at our disposal to stem this swelling tide of tyranny.

L:et us show our elected representatives by our words and our actions that Trump has to go. And that he has to go now.

Before it is too late.

A question of treason

What the pundits are saying

What the people are saying

 

The Case for Anger

 

I believe in friendly debate, without rancor or personal animosity. But sometimes, the issues being debated become so personal that emotional involvement is unavoidable.

I don’t see, for example, how you and I could unemotionally debate the failure of the current Congress to fulfill its obligation to the US Constitution.

We would be discussing an issue that critically impacts my family’s welfare and my grandsons’ legacy.

And that’s personal.

The Republicans who dominate this Congress will forever be remembered as the most shameless collection of toadies in America’s history.

Consider, for example, their pitifully obvious attempts to shield the president from exposure and prosecution, their failure to oppose his dangerous relationship with Putin, their dereliction of duty in allowing the kidnapping and imprisonment of helpless babies – and the many other abuses of power of which this president is so blatantly guilty.

So why do I care? What does all this political claptrap have to do with me?

Well, it not only offends my sense of right and wrong, it creates a hostile environment and conjures up a frightening future for me and my family.

I feel threatened by the president’s persistent demonizing of immigrants like me, his agitation of white resentment and racist rage – and the rest of his dangerous demagoguery.

At such a time, don’t expect me to be amicable – or even impersonal – if you defend this Congress and this president.

I am angered by their outrageous disregard for everything that makes America a wonderful country for my wife and me to enjoy and for my children and grandchildren to inherit.

I am angered by the perceived threat to our personal freedoms, to my American citizenship – even possibly to my life and to the lives of my loved ones.

Surely, you must understand that your arguments  would just make me angrier, not persuade me.

You know the old saying:

A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.

Not just of the same opinion but even more stubbornly committed to defending that opinion. And defending it emotionally, not just intellectually.

Enabling a demagogue

More on Congress

More Russian meddling