Life in 2017 has been surreal. We wake every day as though in a nightmarish dream that we hope to soon end so that we can get back to the real world. The latest episode ended last night when the Republicans narrowly failed to continue the charade of “Repealing and Replacing Obamacare” while really seeking to cut subsidies to the middle and lower classes to provide tax cuts to the super rich. We recognize their actions as a charade because none of their “replacement” proposals addressed the cited problems with the ACA of high premiums, high deductibles and dearth of options in many rural communities around the country. Instead, their focus has been on undoing the expansion of Medicaid (where much of the money is) under the guise that the program is unsustainable. (The GOP is notorious for only being concerned about spending when it applies to social programs.) Continue reading “The Continuing Nightmare”
In the early hours of June 7, 2017, I lost my best and closest friend. We had been married for nearly 32 years and though we loved, cherished, respected and cared for each other, referring to her as just my wife seems wholly inadequate.
One would think that after more than 32 years together that we would know all there is to know about each other. Through reading some of her private writings and hearing stories of friends and family who loved her I have come to learn how truly remarkable a person Delores was and how fortunate I was that she chose me to be her partner in life.
It still doesn’t feel real. I don’t miss the hopeless feeling of watching her suffer; not having the energy to do the things she loved but the sense of loss is over whelming. It is a deep emptiness as though an essential part of my body, a part that I undoubtedly took for granted, is missing. Having lost both parents when they were relatively young I know that time will heal the wounds of loss but for Delores, I fear, a profound sadness will remain; the sadness of not knowing whether she knew just how much she meant to me.
We had learned only two weeks earlier that her cancer had returned, progressed to stage 4 and was no longer treatable given her weakened condition. I assumed that we had months, hopefully a few years together, not knowing that it was only days. Rather than simply attending to her needs in those final hours I wished that I had spent more time just talking to her, kissing her, holding her close and whispering words of comfort and love.
Of all the feelings of grief, regret is the saddest because it represents an unnecessary failing that can never be righted. We should thus all strive to treat each other as though our time together will be our last, for indeed, one day it will.
The seeming out of the blue firing of FBI Director Comey fits a consistent pattern of President 45 to keep the news media distracted by a new outrage before the previous one can be explored to any depth. The stated reasons for the firing, the mishandling of the Clinton email investigation last summer, which cited many of the same criticism that many Democrats and former Justice department officials leveled at Director Comey at the time, seems sophomoric in its attempt to deflect criticism given that he praised Comey’s action to reopen the investigation in October, just prior to election day. While there is general consensus that the Director’s action to violate Justice Department guidelines had undue influence on the election, the question remains, “Why now?”
A little thought reveals the most probable reason. Comey had erred in his judgement but he is seen by most as a principled person. Having broken internal Department of Justice guidelines about publicly discussing evidence when no prosecution is planned he would reasonably be expected to do the same regardless of the findings in the Russian investigation. In short, Comey was a wild card that the president and his enablers could not control. Given the delays and lack of enthusiasm on the part of Republicans, it is likely that all direct evidence of collusion between the president and the Russians have been covered up and if the worst occurs someone in their organization is prepared to “take the fall” if necessary. Removing Comey will increase the probability that little circumstantial evidence, including his financial ties to Russian oligarchs, will become public.
We have all been treating the president as a bumbling idiot but he a ruthless tyrant and he will continue to exercise the power of his office to his own benefit until his enablers, the Republicans, decide that protecting the country and our way of life is more important than their control of congress.
It seems that every day we are confronted with a new outrage from our president. One day he’s accusing the former president of illegally wiretapping him while he was a candidate, the next day defending a serial misogynist, the day after that, congratulating foreign leader on anti-democratic actions or outright killings of drug suspects. Throw in the lies, faux pas, seeming ignorance of history and childish response via tweets to criticism and you get a view of the last 100 days in America. All this is going on while in the background we have an ongoing FBI investigation into his campaign’s connection with the Russian interference in our election and his continued conflicts with his businesses and refusing to disclose the extent of his business connections with foreign entities. Continue reading “Holding Enablers Accountable”
Since “45” has been in office we have been bombarded, seeming daily, with one outrage after another. I have become so “burned out” with these atrocities that I no longer feel the necessity to criticize him or to even refer to him by name. What is bothering me now is the blatant double standard being applied by the media’s and congressional Republican’s response relative to the coverage of President Obama.
In July 2009, Dr. Louis Gates was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after objecting to being racially profiled for breaking into his own home. President Obama, after admitting that he did not have all the facts and that he might be biased because Professor Gates was a friend, commented
“But I think it’s fair to say, No. 1, any of us would be pretty angry; No. 2, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, No. 3 … that there’s a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately.”
The media and the Republicans blew this up into a multiday catastrophe that resulted in the infamous “Beer Summit”.
Contrast this with today’s action by “45” who from the Oval Office, defended Fox News commentator, Bill O’Reilly who reportedly has cost the network about $13M in sexual harassment claims from five women. This action has precipitated barely a peep out of the news media and nothing that I have seen from the Republicans in congress. We shouldn’t forget also that before the election a 2005 video tape emerged with “45” talking about grabbing women by their private parts. Through all that he continued to be endorsed by most congressional Republicans and was elected president of the United States.
I dare say that if President Obama, or any major Democratic politician had done something like that, they would be hounded out of office. Granted, there are so many incidents and they occur so often that it is difficult to focus on any one but that fact should be the source of outrage by the media and any responsible congressmen.
“Large Sections of Australia’s Great Reef Are Now Dead, Scientists Find”. The headline says it all. The famed Great Barrier Reef, one of the natural wonders of the world is dying. It had been predicted for some time that this would happen should the oceans continue to warm. However, this level of destruction was not expected to happen for another 30 years.
It is obvious to all thoughtful people that the cause is climate change brought on by human burning of fossil fuels. The adverse impact will extend far beyond the destruction of corrals and the sea life that depends on them. We are witnessing the melting of the ice caps and rising sea levels which will destroy coastal habitats as well as changing and extreme weather patterns that will adversely affect our agriculture and living patterns.
The Paris Climate Accords was significant in that the world had finally agreed to act to reduce human contribution to acceleration of the warming of the earth. The switch to green sources of energy had begun as the industry began to become a significant source of employment. Then along comes Trump (didn’t really want to talk about him) who pans the Paris Accords, appoints EPA detractor, Scott Pruitt, to head the agency, approves pipelines that carry tar sands oil and roll back auto fuel efficiency standards; all within the first two months of taking office.
We must not allow the Washington sideshow to distract us. We will survive the shortsightedness of this administration in the short term but the long-term implications are not good. This may well be an Extinction Level Event, ELE, in not so slow motion. History will not be kind to these men and the earth may not be kind to mankind.
I’ve been away for a while suffering from “Trump Fatigue”. Civil Rights champion Fanny Lou Hamer’s oft quoted remark “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired” is quite appropriate for this situation. It was my sincere intention to write about the Republicans in the NC legislature making a cynical push for a US constitutional convention to restrict federal interference in state issues while, at the same time, they are enacting laws like HB2, changing the city council structure of Greensboro and attempted takeover of the Asheville water system. But no sooner than I can begin to refocus, here come another bombshell intended to destroy the work for which Ms. Hamer and so many others have fought and died. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, our new Attorney General and chief protector of our constitutional rights has unabashedly begun his quest to “Make America Great Again” by returning us to a time when that was true for him and people like him. What a country!
When will this madness end? The senate, in an unprecedented 51 to 50 vote approved a demonstrably unqualified nominee, Betsy DeVos, to be Secretary of Education. Two Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, along with the 46 Democrats and 2 Independents to oppose the nomination creating the 50-50 tie that was broken by the vice president who sided with all the other Republicans. I characterize this as madness because it is clear that Ms. DeVos’ lack of qualifications and the welfare of the Education Department were not foremost in the minds of the Republicans. Instead, this is a blatant exercise of partisan power. Continue reading “Something Has To Change”
Yesterday Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated last year on the death of Antonin Scalia. McConnell and the Senate Republicans then disgracefully refused to consider President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, for more than 10 months. As much as the instinct for revenge to strike back seems appropriate the Democrats should resist. They should all symbolically refuse to vote for Gorsuch but they should not filibuster his nomination. My reasons are as follows:
- Gorsuch appears to be a reasonable choice for a Republican president. He is not, however, a thumb in the eye choice like Jeff Sessions, Betsy DeVos, Tom Price, and Andrew Puzder.
- Gorsuch’s selection does not represent an ideological shift for the court since he is replacing someone of his own ilk.
- Despite his dismal poll ratings, Trump is currently at the apex of his power, particularly with his Republican base. He continues to feed that base with his largely symbolic executive actions. As such, Republican senators still fear him. As time goes on and his base began to see his incompetence and feel the effects of his policies his popularity will certainly erode.
- Should another appointment opportunity occurs and Trump puts forward a truly disgusting candidate, Democrats would be in a better position politically to go all out to oppose such a nomination. Additionally, Republican senators, facing a weaker president, would be less inclined to change the rules on cloture for SCOTUS nominations.
There is no guarantee that such a strategy would work for the Republicans are in the majority and have demonstrated that they have no ethics. But if one is going to fight to the death let it be for a reason for which one is willing to die.
We’re two days into the Trump administration. The sun still shines and life goes on as usual. Amid the dark dystopian message in his inaugural address, the continued propagation of “alternative facts” in his address to the CIA, and the devious campaign to discredit the main stream media, we see small green shoots of hope. First the Women’s March in Washington, DC, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and other US cities as well as foreign capitals around the world foretells, should it be sustained, an encouraging level of resistance to the Trump agenda. Additional in Davos, Switzerland, site of the summit on climate change, we see signs of other countries taking up that mantle of leadership of the Climate Change Initiative that Trump has threatened to abandon.
Admittedly, we have a long way to go (1459 days and counting) but, thankfully, it is more probable that most of the horrors that we imagine will not come to past. As President Obama aptly remarked in his last press conference, “…the only thing that is the end of the world is the end of the world.” It could very well be that Trump is the shock we need to kick start the change that Dr. King dreamed and President Obama hoped would come.