Monday, March 26, 2018

Republicans, Get Your Resumes Ready--A Change is a Comin'

As I watched the protest marches last Saturday, I saw the future and felt comforted by what I saw.  I saw the future political leaders of America.  I saw future Congress people, Senators, future Governors, future Mayors, future state legislators and leaders at all levels.  I did not see children. They weren’t wearing silly hats, their signs were not risqué, and they didn’t appear to be on a walk in the park. It was not a carnival as the NRA claims.  Quite the contrary, I saw serious-minded young people articulating what they want—an end to gun violence, a ban on AR-15’s, a ban on bump stocks and stricter, more efficient background checks.  They want to stop mass shootings. They called for voter registration and massive turn-out on election day.  They urged politicians who are pawns of the NRA to get their resume’s ready because they would be voted out.

I ALSO saw a future without the National Rifle Association (NRA) as we know it today.  It won’t happen over-night, but as it becomes taboo to be an NRA member, the membership rolls will shrink, and so will their power.  By the time we Baby Boomers are gone and the Millinneals and Generation Z are in charge of our country, the NRA will be irrelevant. 

AS I LOOKED at these millions of predominately high school students, not only in the USA, but all over the world, I knew I was witnessing the beginning of a movement.  Having lived through the anti-war movement during the Vietnam War, I have to ask myself how this movement will evolve.  The participants in that anti-war movement represented many different ideologies and eventually turned into an ugly mess.  So ugly in fact, with so many bad actors, many people didn’t know whose side to be on.  Today, the participants in the Enough is Enough movement are very focused on one issue and that is to stop gun violence and mass murders.  You’re either “for it or agin it.”  If you will allow yourself to believe the truth-- that you can still own your guns, just not assault weapons, this era will become history fast.

THE VIETNAM anti-war movement was predominately college students.  Throughout this Enough is Enough movement, college students have been unusually quiet.  After all, college campuses have had their fair share of massacres.  In fact, it was just ten years ago when 32 were killed and 17 injured on the Virginia Tech Campus.  I would like to see college students join forces with the high school students in an organized way to effect change.  It’s going to take an enormous amount of people power to fight the President, all Republican lawmakers, and the NRA.  That’s a tall order for high school students no matter how passionate and organized they are.

ALL THE things the Enough is Enough movement wants is a good start at preventing mass gun violence.  That alone will not solve the problem.  We must address the problem of mental illness!  I’ve said it here before, ask anybody on the street where you can buy a gun and they will name no less than five places.  Ask those same people where you can get help for mental illness for yourself or a loved one.  All you get is a blank stare.   Psychiatrists, counselors, and treatment facilities are very expensive.  If you are fortunate enough to have insurance, few policies cover 100% of the cost.  For those without insurance, there is little to no help, especially for in-patient treatment. 

OBVIOUSLY, people who commit massacres are mentally ill.  I believe anyone that commits gun violence is mentally ill.  Therefore, to decrease gun violence, we must treat the root cause—mental illness.  We may not identify every potential mass shooter, but at least with banning AR15’s and bump stocks, fewer people will die per attack.  I feel so strongly about this issue, I would consider voting for a Republican for Governor if he made help for mental illness the center of his platform and promised to open more mental illness treatment facilities.

JUST GIVING you a heads up.  My column will not appear in the April 4th edition.  This time it’s my choice, and not that of the editor.  George and I are taking a few days off to celebrate our 49th wedding anniversary.  He’s taking me to one of those places where they cook the food in front of you.  I can’t think of what it’s called.  Oh yeah. The Waffle House.

HAVE A blessed Easter and I hope you make a memory.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Trump Era "New Norms" Suck!

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks!  That old saying came to mind while searching for the reason for the pain and anxiety I feel these days as I watch the chaos across this country unfold.  What I know as the “normal” for acceptable behavior and common decency in our society and our government have been ingrained in me all my years.  Now those “norms” are changing at warp speed and my heart and soul are resistant to that change.  We cannot let these “new norms” become acceptable and ingrained in the next generation. I cannot accept these “new norms” of which there are many.  I am only addressing a few here.  My greatest desire is when the history is written about this “Trump Era,” it will call this lapse in acceptable behavior an anomaly.

WHILE WATCHING Trump’s rallies during the campaign, I was appalled at his disrespectful abuse of his political opponents.  As a life long political junkie, I had never witnessed such behavior from a politician, not to mention a candidate for the U.S. President.  The normal was for a politician to act like a statesman, not a thug.  Each day I thought his verbal assaults would be the end of him.  Nope, people loved it.  Finally, on October 7, 2016, the Access Hollywood video tape was released and in Trump’s own words, he admitted to sexual assault.  He used a slang word for a woman’s genital area that he liked to grab and today, that word has been broadcasted millions of times thereby normalizing that word. Adding icing to the cake, 19 women said they had been groped or sexually assaulted by Trump.  I thought for sure that the American people would drop him faster than a hot potato.  Nope, he was elected a month later.  Suddenly, vulgar, crude, sexual behavior was an acceptable characteristic for a candidate for the highest office in our land.  This is not the old normal.

YOU SEE, I lived in the time when a much better candidate for President than Trump, Gary Hart, admitted to an affair, and was immediately repudiated by the people and his party and immediately dropped out of the race.  Now we have a President that had an affair with a porn star, just months after his wife gave birth, paid the porn star $130,000 in hush money days before the election, and has now sued her for violating their non-disclosure agreement, while all the while maintaining (or I should say lying) that he did not have an affair with her.  All his supporters, the Republican Party, and Congress have been quieter than a church mouse on this case of adultery.  This is not how society would have dealt with a scandal such as this in the past. This is not the old normal.

IT WOULD be repetitive for me say Trump lies, I’ve written many times about that.  He lies because there are no consequences for lying.  We have to have confidence that our President is telling the truth and we should demand the truth.  I remember when bumper stickers said, “Nixon lied and Agnew.”  Nixon knew he was about to be impeached for lying, abuse of presidential power, and deliberate obstruction of justice, so he resigned.  Impeachment for those crimes was the normal outcome back in the day.  Today, there seems to be no lie big enough to cause alarm with his supporters.  This is not the old normal.

LAST WEEK, just when I thought I’d seen the worst Trump could deliver, he stooped to an all-time low. He committed a grotesque and cruel act against a dedicated public servant.  He fired Andrew McCabe, Assistant FBI Director, just two days before his retirement date, thus denying his retirement benefits.  All we know about the official reason was that McCabe was “not entirely candid” when questioned by the Inspector General.  McCabe is not accused of leaking documents, that’s one of Trump’s lies. We all know from Trump’s tweets over the past six months, he hated McCabe and his wife and wanted him fired, simply because McCabe’s wife ran for office as a Democrat and was donated PAC money by Clinton’s friend, Terry McCauliffe.   In a meeting with McCabe, Trump crossed a line of common decency when he told McCabe, “Ask your wife if she likes being a loser.”  Andrew McCabe served his country with distinction for 21 years.  It was a rushed firing and McCabe was not afforded a hearing.  Firing McCabe is all part of Trump’s plan to disqualify McCabe as a witness against him in the Russia probe. Pure revenge. He has already started chopping away at James Comey’s character.  That is not the old normal.

AS FOR McCabe’s pension, I imagine he will eventually get his pension, but it will cost him hundreds of thousands fighting for it in court.  He shouldn’t have to do that.  He only lacks two days to having enough time to retire.  If the Congressmen and Senators who possess common decency would offer McCabe a position on their staff for a few days, there is nothing Trump could do about it, and decency would prevail.  That would be the OLD normal.

Monday, March 5, 2018

You Can Hear the Shark Closing in on Trump-- “duunnn dunnn, dun dun dunnnnnnn dun.”

Everyone remembers the theme from the movie, Jaws.  You know, that creeping sound of dread, suspense, and tension as the great white shark swam near?  “duunnn dunnn, dun dun dunnnnnnn dun.”  You knew somebody was going down, but you weren’t sure who.  That’s the sound that must echo in Trump’s head as Special Counselor Mueller draws closer and closer, picking off lesser actors, one by one.  That’s what is driving Trump crazy(er).  And, me too!

THE ANTICIPATION is killing me.  Now it appears Jared and his entire famdamly are going down at some point—his daddy (again), and his sister.  Influence peddling is illegal.  It involves bribery and corruption.  The Kushner family is desperate to find $1.8 billion to pay off a balloon payment due by the end of this year for the office building located at 666 Fifth Avenue, NYC.   Jared Kushner and his family are trafficking in influence all over the world to bundle enough money to pay off that loan.  Two financial institution executives met with Kushner in the White House last year and gave him a half billion-dollar loan.  Jared’s father met with Qatari Finance Minister Ali Sharif Al Emadi and asked for the money to save the property.  Al Emadi said, “No thanks.”  One month later, Qatar got in a squabble with their neighbors, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).  Jared led a diplomatic assault on Qatar which led to Qatar being blockaded which undermined Secretary of State Tillerson’s position.  In the future, start paying attention when you hear anything about the UAE.  “dun, dun dunnnnnnnn dun.”

I DON’T feel sorry for the Kushner family!   What do you expect when you invest in something named after the mark of the devil, 666?  I wouldn’t spend a penny on something named 666, not even if I had $1.8 billion.  This alone makes me doubt Kushner’s judgment.

TO REFRESH your memory of Jared Kushner’s role in the White House, he is in charge of Middle East peace, Government reform, the opioid crisis, criminal justice reform, liaison to Mexico, Liaison to China, and Liaison to the Muslim community.  The man has zero experience in government or diplomacy.  You can’t count begging foreign countries for millions of dollars for personal gain as relevant experience. And the man can’t even get a security clearance!  “dun, dun dunnnnnnnn dun.”

 I DON’T care what happens to Javanka, as Jared and Ivanka are called.  What I want to know is what motivates Donald Trump to safeguard anything Russia or Putin, to the detriment of the democracy of our country?  Only the great white prosecutor can tell us that, and I live for that day.  We all know Trump well enough by now to know that it is out-of-character for him not to insult anyone that is more powerful than him.  It has already been proven that Russia influenced our election, but that fact has been met with silence from the President.  Trump has refused to apply sanctions to Russia for the interference that was unanimously passed by Congress.  Trump hasn’t even assigned Putin a nickname.

REMEMBER WHEN North Korea’s Kim Jong-un said his red launch button was on his desk?  Then Trump tweeted, “My red button is larger than your red button.”  Last week, Putin made a big presentation about Russia’s nuclear missile might.  Putin bragged he had missiles that could not be stopped by anything the U. S. employed against them.  The Trump we have come to know, in any other circumstance, against any other world leader, would have gone on a twitter rant the likes of which we’ve never seen.  But he remained silent.

INSTEAD OF hitting back against Putin, Trump announced he was imposing tariffs on metal and aluminum, and thereby shocking his staff, his advisers, and all our trading allies.  Obviously shocking everyone but his longtime friend, Carl Icahn, who dumped $30 million in stock in a steel-dependent company just days before Trump’s surprise announcement.  I think that’s called “insider trading.”  Ask Martha Stewart.  “dun, dun dunnnnnnnn dun.”

TRUMP SAID a trade war was a war easy to win.  It seemed he HAD to strike out against someone and it seemed Putin was off limits.  Why?  It makes no sense!  But it does cause a reasonable, half- intelligent person to think that whatever Putin has on Trump is a) damning, or b) part of a larger purpose, or c) both of these things.

WHAT LARGER purpose?  Trump may have given us a clue this past weekend.  I have long written about Trump’s love of authoritarians, and while I was not surprised at the statement he made, it did scare me. When speaking at a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago about Chinese President Xi, Trump said, “He’s now president for life.  President for life.  And he’s great.  I think it’s great.  Maybe we’ll give that a shot someday.”  What President who knows we have a Constitution would say such a thing? Trump, that’s who.  President for life wouldn’t be too hard to accomplish if you were in cahoots with another world power who had missiles we could not stop.  Just sayin’. 

MEANWHILE, hurry up Mr. Mueller!  “dun, dun dunnnnnnnn dun dun dun dun dun.”