Happy Thanksgiving! Due to travel schedules, I am currently out of Florida and hope to post sometime later this week. In the event I am not able to do so, please accept my apologies and my wishes for a safe and satisfying Thanksgiving holiday - as we all have a lot to be very thankful for! Have a great week and be well!
Just as the president was wrapping up his first Asian trip as Commander-In-Chief, he couldn't resist himself. I mean, throughout the trip the president stuck very closely to prepared teleprompter generated texts so as not to embarrass his hosts or our nation. Curiously during this recent trip, Trump praised China and its rulers, despite making it a regular practice of railing against China for their alleged abuses of trade practices. At one point, Trump accused China of "raping" America when it came to trade practices (See: www.cnn.com/2016/05/01/politics/donald-trump-china-rape/index.html). Tough talk like this certainly appealed to many of his cult-like followers believing him to the the "one" to straighten everything out for America that they have been told by Right Wing Media had been so bent out of shape for so long. China was his foreign "boogeyman" throughout the campaign and early part of his presidency when it came to trade imbalances. Until this recent trip.
Seems the "Gung-ho" proponent for American dominance in trade couldn't seem to muster up much of a fight when put face to face with Chinese leaders to discuss trade issues. Instead of pursuing American dominance in trade deals, Trump proceeded to compliment China for taking advantage of America, since former presidents allowed them to do so. Huh? Does this mean that to Trump, if he had an opportunity to abuse someone in a business deal, it certainly would not be his fault ethically or morally because the "other side" was too stupid to stop him from conducting questioning business practices? Is this really how Mr. Trump operates his businesses? Is this really what Americans thought Mr. Trump was going to do to China - applaud their efforts and blame Americans themselves for trade issues? (See: abcnews.go.com/Politics/10-times-trump-attacked-china-trade-relations-us/story?id=46572567).
I guess "America First" now means blame America first for all of our problems, regardless of their causation (or at least blame Americans he seems to have personal beefs with). What gives? Could it be that our president loves hyperbole but lacks the intestinal fortitude to actually lead? By taking a hard stance behind another's back and then shrinking from that stance when facing an adversary reveals a lot amount the man - and none of it is positive. What conclusions could be reached by our adversaries when our leader lacks the moral courage to pursue his complaints and instead substitutes perceived grievances with platitudes instead? Think I am wrong? Then how does one further explain Trump's stated refusal to accept the conclusions of multiple American intelligence agencies that Russia actively interfered with our 2016 elections?
Once "off script", the President of the United States actually labeled Americans engaged in intelligence gathering to counter enemy efforts to attack America as "Political Hacks" more concerned with politics than intelligence gathering. Except every American Intelligence agency reached the same conclusion that Russia engaged a strategy to interfere with our electoral process. In addition to every Agency, the United States Congress has also reached the same conclusion. But not in the eyes of Donald Trump. According to him, “I really believe that when he (Putin) tells me that, he means it . . . I think he’s very insulted, if you want to know the truth.” So the President of the United States publicly declares his belief that former KGB Agent Vladimir Putin is sincere in his denials of ordering social media and cyber attacks on American institutions as "honest" as opposed to those concluding otherwise? What? (See: www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-insists-putin-means-it-in-denying-election-meddling-critics-say-thats-unconscionable/2017/11/11/af0b7c9e-c71a-11e7-afe9-4f60b5a6c4a0_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_trumpputinreax8pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.1705d0b53595). But nothing seems grave enough to derail support from his cult of followers - no matter how many times he denigrates American institutions. I doubt his supporters realize that perhaps Trump's "MAGA" slogan really means "Make America Guilty Again?"
As President John F. Kennedy once wrote, "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty." Words Mr. Trump seems to have never understood. Have a great week!
Another week, another move by Trump and his cult of sycophantic supporters to delegitimize a branch of government created by the Framers to ensure we can never fall under the influence of an overbearing tyrant. Gee Rubin, what in the world are you talking about now? After weeks of condemning professional football players for taking a knee to protest the daily failings of the criminal justice system, Trump took it upon himself to lie some more about the Judicial system (See: www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/president-donald-trump-slams-u-s-courts-too-slow-weak-n817151). Worse yet, his cult of followers used social media to fall right in line with him to then condemn the courts. What? When Black athletes protest the system for inherent racial bias, they are considered "traitors" for refusing to honor America, but when the leader of the Free World disrespects the same system, it's perfectly acceptable. Huh?
Trump showed his true colors this week by publicly stating in an interview on Conservative radio host Peter Baker's radio show that he is "frustrated" that he cannot (as president), personally control the FBI and the Justice Department. Seems Mr. Trump thinks the president would be able to use the Justice Department for his own personal ends. "You know, the saddest thing is that because I'm the president of the United States, I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department." "I am not supposed to be involved with the FBI. I'm not supposed to be doing the kind of things that I would love to be doing. And I'm frustrated by it." (See: www.nytimes.com/2017/11/03/us/politics/trump-says-justice-dept-and-fbi-must-do-what-is-right-and-investigate-democrats.html).
If it was up to Trump (and I imagine his cult), he'd be able to single handedly jail his critics and opponents because, well in some strange way, his supporters think this is a legitimate way to run a presidency - to have absolute power over anyone they do not agree with and by silencing them with prison or expulsion from the country is a proper remedy. Ironically, those adhering to this position believe they are exhibiting some sort of extreme patriotism without recognizing they themselves would be aligned instead with the Loyalists that opposed the American Revolution in favor of King George. It appears to be lost on Trump and his cult that the Framers specifically established a system of checks and balances with separation of powers to be particularly suspect of anyone elected to the presidency wishing to abuse the position for personal gain through the use of criminal intimidation. It specifically was an effort to safeguard against the type of tyranny a monarch would wield over a free people. And Trump and his cult regret not having this power? Some "patriots" huh?
Think I am mistaken? In Federalist #78, Alexander Hamilton sold the rationale of an independent judiciary as "The standard of good behavior for the continuance in office of the judicial magistracy, is certainly one of the most valuable of the modern improvements in the practice of government. In a monarchy it is an excellent barrier to the despotism of the prince; in a republic it is a no less excellent barrier to the encroachments and oppressions of the representative body. And it is the best expedient which can be devised in any government, to secure a steady, upright, and impartial administration of the laws." (Emphasis added). So why do so many Trump cultists think it is a good idea for Trump to have an authority the Framers specifically protected us all against? Is it because they slept through their history and civics classes? Is it because they, although ignorant of the basis for the founding of our great nation, somehow believe they have a superior right to claim a higher order of "patriotism" over those they disagree with? No matter what the rational, Trump and those that support him are dead wrong - even if they refuse to admit it.
Before you think I am taking a too severe view of Trump's intentions when indicating his frustrations, think about all of the pre and post election rallies the man has led with chants of "lock her up!" Just this week, Trump tweeted a demand that "Crooked Hillary" be criminally investigated (again)! "Very discouraging to me....they are not going after Hillary Clinton." (See: www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/11/03/trump-pressures-justice-department-to-investigate-crooked-hillary/?utm_term=.62068613f878). Any wonder the Framers demanded the judiciary be independent? I know, some would argue that the judiciary is not the Justice Department or the FBI. But using these two institutions as your personal vendetta machines is still what the Framers wanted to curtail. And if it wasn't, it was made clear after Nixon's Watergate that the Executive not use the mechanisms of the Justice Department and FBI as extensions of their personal enforcement apparatus. (See: www.nytimes.com/2017/06/27/magazine/how-donald-trump-misunderstood-the-fbi.html).
So as we enter into the second year since the election of Trump to the White House, we are finally beginning to see the man's popularity rating head south. According to the recent ABC/Washington Post Poll, Trumps approval rating has hit the lowest for any president after their first nine months in office. Seems just 37% approve of Trump as president while 65% think he has done nothing productive in office (except perhaps to harm the institution itself). Now some say (see below) that's pretty good considering Congress has an approval rating below 10%, but the GOP has been in control of the House and the Senate since 2012. Does this mean the Democrats will sweep back into office in 2018? Probably not, as the Democrats seem to take every opportunity to miss an opportunity. (See: www.washingtonpost.com/politics/poll-trumps-performance-lags-behind-even-tepid-public-expectations/2017/11/04/35d2a912-bf4d-11e7-959c-fe2b598d8c00_story.html?utm_term=.09ab3d885068. See also: www.wsj.com/articles/trumps-approval-rating-falls-to-lowest-level-since-taking-office-1509282048).
Any look at social media and Letters to the Editors reveal many still are in lock-step with Trump, no matter hell or high water. One letter printed in today's Sarasota Herald-Tribune says it all about the members of the Trump cult; "Why is it President Trump has an average popularity rating of 39% while Congress has an average popularity rating of 13 percent? One must conclude that the president is performing almost three times better then Congress!" They go on to write, "Yet we have a president who is living up to the promises he made to the people (when did that last happen?) and he is fought by the obstructionist Democrats and his own party." And there you have it. A total denial of the reality facing each and every American. Congress sucks, but that makes Trump somehow successful? What exactly has Trump done to fulfill the myriad of campaign promises the letter writer is referring to? And this is exactly what one can expect to be written by a member of the reality-denying cult that supports Trump.
As Benjamin Franklin once wrote; "Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn." Before opining, perhaps actually learning American History and Civics should be required? Have a great week!
Just as many have been anxiously waiting, the first indictment came down on Friday from the Grand Jury charged with dealing with evidence presented by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller has been investigating possible treasonous collusion between the Trump Campaign and the Russians. Par for the Trump camp, a huge wave of distractions were set in motion just in advance of the grand jury announcement. The purpose for the distraction? By somehow digging up Hillary Clinton's emails (again) along with mashing the facts in the Uranium One deal (see below), Trump and his sycophants somehow think Americans will totally ignore criminal charges against his Administration/campaign staff. (See: www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/10/29/frustrated-with-the-russia-investigation-trump-demands-democrats-and-hillary-clinton-face-more-scrutiny/?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_pp-trump-tweet-1145am%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.d259fe2a2431).
The one problem Trump and his supporters do not seem to appreciate is that the distractions are fueled by partisan nonsense, while the other is anchored in law and justice. Why else would Trump be so obsessed with the "legitimacy" of his election to the presidency? Many, like myself, are over the election, but we are not over the fact that Trump is unfit to serve. The mere fact Mr. Trump has done everything to diminish the role of the free press as well as to create the illusion that Russian was not engaged in efforts to influence our elections (despite every US Intelligence Agency confirming such action), is enough for me to question his ability to serve under Article II of the Constitution ("Take Care Provision"). See: www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2017/jul/06/17-intelligence-organizations-or-four-either-way-r/).
The bigger questions, who has been indicted, will there be more and how many will there be? Could this prove to be the undoing of the Trump Administration and if so, how will the president react? Will he move us immediately into a war against North Korea? Although I would hope not, thus far, Mr. Trump has shown there are no norms when he perceives himself in any sort of danger ("I hit back twice as hard..."). If he is heading for a fall due to the Russians, what can we expect from his "all for one, all for me" attitude? This past week we learned the tragic deaths of our soldiers in Niger was the result of a massive military screw-up. Lack of proper intelligence and improper support proximately caused their deaths by putting them into an untenable military position. When it came down to accept responsibility for the military failings? The Commander-In-Chief swiftly pointed out that it was not his fault, but that of his generals! (See: www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-generals-niger_us_59f19528e4b0438859154c04). What happened to maxim "The Buck Stops Here" Truman adhered to? You may recall, many blamed President Jimmy Carter for the military failure to rescue hostages held by Iran while Obama got a boost for the successful mission against Bin Laden (despite efforts from the Right to give Bush credit). Now Trump says it's "someone else's fault." That may make sense if he accepted responsibility for anything, yet he hasn't since becoming president. (See: www.mediamatters.org/video/2016/07/28/fox-news-host-bush-administration-got-bin-laden-not-obama/211998). So where is the "heat" from the Right Wing now that it is proven the military screwed up under Trump's command? Benghazi, Uranium One and Clinton emails (again)!
As you may recall, ever since the inauguration, I have been mystified how a sitting president could possibly govern when issuing daily lies. How can the public trust anyone that lies as often as Mr. Trump? But the lying seems justified in the minds of many of his supporters because the alternative - the Truth - just might hurt their hyper-partisan egos and need for political power. As mentioned time and time again, we need to set aside politics in favor of what is best for all Americans, not just those served by the political parties.
So we can only hope that clearer heads will prevail when and if more indictments are issued charging Trump and/or his campaign or staff with illegal actions. My guess is that it will take a long time before the GOP and Trumpsters come to their collective senses (remember, it took some time before the GOP abandoned Nixon after Watergate). By the time they do, Mr. Trump's first term may be coming to a close anyway - and who knows where America will be after three more years under this Administration?
We can only wish the words of President Harry S. Truman rings true -"It's plain hokum. If you can't convince 'em, confuse 'em. It's an old political trick. But this time it won't work." Let's hope we see our way through the mess created by Trump and his loyal, yet ideologically blinded followers. Have a great week!
After another week of shifting news relating to the president, I sit in full wonderment on how history will reflect on this administration. Now almost a full year since last November's election, we had been convinced by pundits that the president has an inner circle of "handlers" to keep the president from going off the rails. Unfortunately this week, we learned first hand that there are no real controls in place to check the president. How do we know this? Chief of Staff John Kelly proved this week that not only will he fall on his sword for Trump, but he will also cede all claims to having decency instead to appease "the boss." But why?
As you know, four brave members of our special forces were ambushed and killed in Niger. (See: www.voanews.com/a/new-details-emerge-about-attack-that-killed-us-soldiers-in-niger/4080617.html).
Instead of immediately airing sympathies to the families of those killed in action, the president simply ignored the event all together, instead focussing in on disparaging the NFL as being somehow "less American" because they won't blindly accept Trump's demand that those not standing for the anthem be terminated. Yes, a sitting president is more concerned about clipping the wings of Americans expressing political dissent than conveying sympathies of any kind to the families of real heroes - the ones killed serving their country. When forced to answer for his failings, Trump again lashed out against anyone that could possibly point out his obvious failings. To make matters worse, after being pressured to at least communicate in some fashion with the families, Trump lashed out against former presidents and then ultimately carelessly applied suggestions on how to express comfort to the grieving family from his Chief of Staff (whose own son was killed in action). I say carelessly because once again Trump seems to lack an ability to appreciate humility and empathy for anyone other than himself. Seems the president has a problem following details or engaging in nuance. (See: www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/10/16/why-was-trump-so-quiet-after-the-deaths-of-four-u-s-soldiers-in-niger/?utm_term=.78e6ccf069d7 and www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2017/10/17/trumps-lie-about-obama-and-fallen-soldiers-shows-how-he-makes-america-dumber/?utm_term=.1f46ee022882).
After it was revealed that his conversation with one family went awry, the president publicly labeled the Congresswomen who publicized his faux pas, as "wacky." (See: www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/10/21/trump-calls-rep-wilson-wacky-in-ongoing-feud-about-call-to-military-widow.html). Right in step, his supporters then began a social media campaign to not challenge her for what she related, but to attack her for her physical appearance and how she chooses to dress in public. In other words, attack the messenger, ignore the message! To add insult to injury, Trump trotted out General Kelly to explain how difficult it is to deal with the death of a soldier killed in action. Nice try, but it failed miserably. Why? Because Kelly couldn't restrain himself from taking the attacks on the Congresswoman further. Instead of saying the message from Trump may have been misinterpreted, Kelly went on to assert the Congresswoman was "politicizing" the matter by using it for her personal gain. To back this up, Kelly went on to claim he has personal knowledge that the Congresswoman took personal credit for a government building being built honoring two deceased FBI agents. By the time you were done listening to Kelly, you would have thought the Congresswoman was just another political hack seeking her 15 minutes of fame. Except it was not true. Not only was the Congresswoman a family friend and mentor to the dead soldier, a video of the event Kelly cited as proof of her ambitions showed HE was lying. She never used the building dedication for personal aggrandizement. Oops. SO what do we have? A serial lying president being controlled by a lying Chief of Staff? (See: www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/john-kelly-owes-the-congresswoman-an-apology/2017/10/20/c81205e2-b5c1-11e7-9e58-e6288544af98_story.html?utm_term=.44b175bc23de).
What's worse? Trump followers walking lock-step with Trump and now Kelly in furthering attacks on the Congresswoman - even after knowing the attacks are lies. Why is it that those claiming some righteous higher ground can never recognize their hypocrisy of their position? Why is it that those same folks can't figure out why others begin to ignore them - which leads to their misplaced angst. It's not "enemies" that dump on you - it's your own political idols that do. Instead of attacking others for disagreeing with you, perhaps it would be better to question the messages you routinely listen to and repeat. After all, Fox News has become a regular purveyor of fake news, yet its audience hangs on its every word. (See: www.politifact.com/punditfact/tv/fox/ and www.militarytimes.com/news/your-navy/2017/10/19/faker-man-admits-he-lied-to-fox-news-about-navy-seal-service/).
One day we can only hope Americans wake up and realize that the government is OURS. We can only hope Americans wake up and realize that we are ALL in this together! We need real change. Not lip service change, but a sweeping effort to change the way politicians manipulate the system and the truth. I guess that would include liars at all levels of government, including Trump and Kelly. Unfortunately, the "swamp" Trump sold Americans on as needing "draining" is now a cesspool of his own making and its becoming more toxic everyday.
As President Dwight D. Eisenhower once wrote; "A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both." It should be a tantamount principle that elected officials stop telling lies to We The People. Have a great week!
Of all the things that have recently come up (far too many to list in this blog), two made it clear to me that our democracy is in danger and Americans are being duped. The first? It was recently reported that our county GOP is now requiring "Loyalty Oaths" requiring strict loyalty to the Republican Party! According to the Sarasota Herald Tribune, "Sarasota GOP leaders say it's an effort to strengthen 'the team'!" And this seems to be prevalent in GOP circles around the Country (See: www.heraldtribune.com/news/20171011/breaking-with-precedent-sarasota-gop-may-endorse-in-races-between-republicans). (www.cbsnews.com/news/donald-trump-slams-virginia-gop-for-loyalty-oath/).
And if an issue supported and promoted by the GOP is not in the best interests of America? GOP FIRST! What happens to the "Oath of Office" wherein elected officials are expected to swear allegiance to the Constitution? Does that oath become subservient to the loyalty demanded by the GOP? When political parties demand knee-jerk support from its officials, how soon will they expect their constituents to follow? Is the right to express political dissent dead when it comes to the GOP? To America?
The Second obvious threat is the rampant hypocrisy of Americans. Yep I said it - again. Due to the emergence of ideologically oriented for-profit media (including social media), Americans have become more tribal in nature than ever before. So many believe whatever they have been told because of one thing and one thing only - it's from their "tribe." And anything to the contrary that may come from the "other tribe" is to be dismissed immediately as "unworthy of consideration." Think I'm wrong? If I was to speak to any group in America, you can bet that a large percentage of the group would ignore anything I would have to say if they thought I was not a member of their "tribe." There would be plenty of excuses not to listen to me, because, well, "he's a _______" (whatever word fits their needs). And this is exactly what is dangerous. Complacency when it comes to politics leads to tyranny. Following "orders" because it is considered better to be "loyal" than "disloyal" has become routine, instead of questioning authority of any kind. Why are you taking this position on a particular issue? What are the ramifications of taking such a stand? Whom does it benefit? Whom does it harm? Is it in the best interests of all Americans? All legitimate questions that get suppressed when "loyalty" is demanded!
Along this line, President Trump issued additional Executive Orders this week. Unlike most folks, I believe the president should have the authority to act unilaterally when Congress is unwilling or incapable to acting. Allow me to explain. The Framers created an elaborate system of Checks and Balances with Separation of Powers. When one branch of government exceeds its authority, the other can (and should) step in to "check" it from seizing too much power. But when Congress has become so dysfunctional to be unwilling to address critical issues facing our nation, is it unreasonable for a president to step in and take action (See "Take Care Provision" under Article II, US Constitution)? So I am not opposed to Trump utilizing Executive Orders to move matters along. Just like I was not opposed to Obama using Executive Orders when Congress would not act. Which is why I opposed the ruling by the Court that the president cannot make a recess appointment because the Senate alone can determine when it is not in session (see Pro Forma Sessions). When the Senate refused to do its job and provide any confirmation hearings on Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, the president should have had the ability to utilize the recess appointment option. IF the American people were really weary of the use of Executive Orders by a president, they would insists Congress do their jobs and eliminate the ability of the president to act unilaterally on matters by passing legislation addressing the issues the Executive Order affects. If Congress acts, there would be no room for Executive Orders would there? What I am opposed to is the incessant hypocrisy expressed by Americans who choose to follow their "tribe" rather than think for themselves (all the while claiming some higher "Patriotic" ground than those not joining their tribe).
Which gets me to my last point. Due to the required loyalty of tribal members of any political party, we saw a huge outcry against Obama using Executive Orders while president. (www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/02/06/executive-order-tyranny-obama-plans-to-rule-america-with-pen-phone.html). Yet, now that Trump issues weekly Executive Orders, those previously slamming Obama now seem to rejoice. And the hypocritical rationale for supporting Trump? "Unlike his predecessor who abused executive authority to expand the size and scope of the federal government in an end run around Congress, President Trump is using his legal authority to restrain Washington bureaucrats," said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders." (See: www.mprnews.org/story/2017/04/25/trump-touts-executive-orders-he-once-lambasted). I am not opposed to Trump because he is a Republican and I am not. I was not opposed to certain efforts by Obama (Foreign Policy) because he was a Democrat and I was not. I am opposed to any elected official that leads through hypocrisy for policies that I perceive to be bad for America. I do oppose Trump because he is obviously so unfit to lead and serve as president, not because he is a Republican and I am not. If it wasn't for Party/Tribal loyalty, wouldn't Congress already begin acting to isolate him? Isn't that what we really need to get back to? Dissenting for legitimate purposes, despite faux "loyalty" demanded by any fellow American, let alone political party.
As President George Washington once wrote; "I have no other view than to promote the public good, and am unambitious of honors not founded in the approbation of my Country." Sadly, it seems we still have a lot to learn as a nation from Mr. Washington. Have a great week!
Anybody notice how the Trump Administration is slowly engaged in "self-destruct" mode? The Secretary of State allegedly called the president a "Fucking Moron" (See: nymag.com/selectall/2017/10/president-trumps-fucking-moron-tweet-presaged-tillerson.html) and now we have a leading GOP voice in the Senate comparing the White House to an "Adult day-care center." (See: www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/10/08/trump-attacks-gop-sen-corker-didnt-have-the-guts-to-run-for-reelection/?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_pp-corker-1052am%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.45572ee29e42). On top of this insanity, members of Congress can't seem to keep their hypocrisy from biting them in the ass (See: www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/10/05/555798758/anti-abortion-rep-tim-murphy-wont-seek-re-election-after-report-on-abortion-requ), as well as Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell seemingly lost in some form of amnesia while previously demanding our federal deficit be reduced under Obama while now actively negotiating a huge increase in our deficit in order to support "Conservative Initiatives" - code word for giving more tax breaks to their financial supporters. (See: thehill.com/policy/finance/352736-gop-tax-plan-could-cost-22-trillion-study). So what gives? Just "politics as usual?" But why are so many Americans unwilling to see that our president is obviously unfit to serve and the GOP leadership operates without a moral compass of any kind? (See Obamacare repeal without real replacement, inane responses to mass gun violence, etc.).
I mean, talking out of both sides of one's mouth should be easy to pick up on, right? Apparently for some, maybe not.
Which gets me to my point today. We all have friends or acquaintances that we recognize as intelligent. We also note that many of them espouse conservative views tainted with partisan bias, but we all have that affliction so we can expect and accept it (to a degree). Throughout the Obama years, these same folks used (what they claimed to be) responsible arguments to illustrate ideological differences with how the country was being led. Like most folks, discussions would often lead to disagreement, but the discussions themselves had a rational basis for being aired. But have you noticed that many of those same folks, who always shared anything that came to mind negative about Obama have grown quite silent when it comes to Trump? When they do share , it often includes commentary filled with fake news, racist hate and fear mongering, yet they still pass it along under their name. Have they no shame? Why is this happening?
Otherwise outgoing and boisterous in their dissent over the past nine years they have somehow grown silent. But why? When we have a serial liar in the Oval Office leading a gang of swamp dwellers (See: www.fox4now.com/newsy/another-cabinet-member-under-investigation-for-taxpayerfunded-flights), how can so many of these voices suddenly go quiet? Is it because they are embarrassed by what has become of their beloved GOP? Is it because they are embarrassed that their hatred of Clinton blinded them to support Trump so unfit to be Commander-In-Chief that their remorse renders them mute? Or is it because they cannot come to grips with the blatant hypocrisy they have boxed themselves into? I was initially willing to give Trump a chance, but he long ago wasted any patience I had. I believe he is unfit by multiple standards to serve as POTUS, and I do not hide this view.
There are smart people, not the typical knee jerk reactionaries we see on the fringes of the political spectrum. Why are they still knowingly silent when it amounts to acquiescence to Trump and his disastrous administration. When it is all said and done, one has to really wonder if these friends are really that smart or simply partisans blind to the negative affects their ideology have on our democratic system (yet only blame the "left" for being "UnAmerican"). One can only hope they wake up before it's too late and the Trump Train representing so few American values steamrolls our elections in 2018 and 2020 rendering America damaged goods for generations to come.
As former Senator Paul Wellstone once wrote; "The idea of democracy has been stripped of it moral imperatives and come to denote hollowness and hypocrisy." Wake up folks, use your own heads and realize that it's time for all of us to stand against incompetence, corruption and hypocrisy (no matter its source) in our government from the White House down. What will these folks say when future generations ask them what they did to stop the hypocrisy destroying America? As far as I am concerned, silence equals endorsement. Have a great week!
I had prepared a blog for today, but the events in Las Vegas seem to push my previous thoughts aside. It just makes me ponder when folks say "Thoughts and prayers are with the families and victims." What exactly does such an expressed sentiment really mean? "Thoughts?" What thoughts? How much time are people going to set aside to actually think about the victims of this and other senseless tragedies? I'm willing to bet the thoughts will be, at best shallow. We all know thinking about something without doing anything about it means little to nothing. Don't get me wrong, thoughts are nice - like in a greeting card. But once the card is read, what real value does it have - especially when lives have been lost or ruined again by a fellow American with automatic weapons? If those thoughts include finding ways to stop the mass violence by weapons, they still must be put into action to have any meaning.
And "prayers?" I spent a good amount of my time this past weekend praying, so I do believe in the power of prayer. Yet, like thought without the strength of action, prayer alone amounts to little. I mean, shouldn't we really be praying for solutions to our problems and for guidance in how to resolve these problems? I fear most say "prayers" like they do when they casually come upon a stranger on the street and ask "How 'ya doing?" It's a cliche social construct created to seem civil but it lacks any real desire to know anything about the stranger. Nobody expects a response from the question because it's really not a question. It's a catch-phrase reduced to its simplicity of being an interchange without any real attachment. And so I fear for many, "prayers" are another type of detachment. It makes us feel better, but how many seriously seek answers and solutions and the strength to take action through prayer to end the violence and hate we now face throughout our divided society?
More must be done to protect Americans. All we hear is the need to be "on guard against terrorists", yet most Americans have been murdered by fellow Americans with legal weapons. Now don't get me wrong, I like guns and believe in the Second Amendment. I also believe that the Framers had no intention of arming citizens with the level of sophistication in weaponry they never could have imagined. I believe weapons should not be legal to possess by those with known mental illness or a history of making threats of violence. Ever wonder why the police need more and more sophisticated weaponry? Could it be because every backyard "Rambo" is armed to his teeth, all under the guise of being a "hunter" or "civilian protector?" Perhaps policing would be easier if high tech weaponry was not available to every citizen? These are the types of "thoughts" we should be engaged in as a nation. Prayers should be for the strength to actively combat interest groups specifically created to promote the use of weapons as the personal panacea for all that is wrong in America. Thus far (as of the time of this writing) the National Rifle Association remains silent on the Vegas tragedy. Yet the NRA is currently promoting Congressional expansion of gun rights to include the use of previously outlawed gun silencers (because nothing is more Second Amendment than the right to shoot "more quietly" and without obvious detection?). (See: www.politico.com/story/2017/09/12/gun-silencer-bill-republican-lawmakers-242595). Police are against such legislation, but the NRA has the cash to get virtually anything it wants done in Washington. And the people? "Thoughts" require actual thinking and many unfortunately seem to defer their thinking to the NRA and its supporting media when it comes to gun issues. (See: everytownresearch.org/h-r-367-is-dangerous-and-unnecessary-would-make-it-easier-to-buy-silencers-illegally/).
So let's all get going with our "thoughts and prayers" when it comes to gun tragedies in America. But can't we a least admit it means nothing without taking action to resolve the issue of spiraling gun violence? As President Theodore Roosevelt once wrote; "Rhetoric is a poor substitute for action, and we have trusted only to rhetoric. If we are really to be a great nation, we must not merely talk; we must act big." Try to have a great week.
For the life of me, I have never heard or read so much emotional political rhetoric over such a short period of time. First, Irma, now Marie, tears up Puerto Rico while President Trump and his supporters can't seem to understand that the people on that Island are all Americans. Puerto Ricans are hurting, just as badly as citizens of Texas and Florida - perhaps worse. Yet the president tweets nothing of their obvious plight. Where is the president? Playing golf this past weekend (See: www.conservativedailynews.com/2017/09/president-donald-trumps-schedule-for-saturday-september-23-2017/), proselytizing his own "Brand" in Alabama (See: thehill.com/homenews/administration/352038-five-highlights-from-trumps-alabama-rally) and distracting gullible supporters by pitting professional athletes against the "Common Man." And Obama "divided" this nation? The list of divisive rhetoric from this president only looks small in comparison to the number of outright lies he has told. Yet his supporters always seem to be in lock-step with him.
President Trump has used his position as president to chastise, criticize, condemn and label anyone he disapproves of (including some that seem to find it necessary to threaten our Country with nukes)- yet according to his sycophant supporters, anyone that criticizes him is somehow "disrespecting the Institution of the Presidency." And these same people accused Obama Supporters of being "Sheeple"? Now Trump has taken the ruse of "Patriotism" to stir up a base of supporters taking to social media to demand others' Free Speech be somehow squelched. I engaged in conversations that started with the following notions - "Why would someone ever disrespect our country by kneeling or not participating in our national anthem?? Fucking terrorists, go find another place to live. See if they accept you disrespecting their country’s traditions." Or "If you kneel during the national anthem then get the fuck out of my country. if you aren't proud to be an american (sic) then we won't keep ya." It did not end well (when all else fails, silly labels get tossed about, none that address the issue they themselves raised in the posts and follow-up comments). And so many of these same folks demand their rights to proudly display the Stars and Bars of the Confederacy while demanding respect for the Stars and Stripes? Nowhere can hypocrisy be better shown to exist than in these people!
Where did the notion originate that America is somehow "owned" by just some people and no one else? Anyone that they disagree with is somehow in their eyes less "American" than they are. I suppose this is exactly how some felt during the Civil Rights movement because they believed sit-in protestors simply didn't understand that America is a "White" nation and anyone of color is somehow not of their "class" as citizens. Or protesters taking to the streets against the war in Viet Nam and then against a corrupt president? Sure is reminiscent of the Nixon era's "Love it or leave it" bull, isn't it?
Just this morning I was greeted with a meme on Facebook demanding Colin Kaepernick be punished for taking a knee during the anthem and that he should prove he really cares by putting his "money where his mouth is!" Except Kaepernick has been punished - no NFL team will hire him. What's really crazy? The guy has a foundation that no one hears about - one that spreads his donated money to several worthy community causes. Seems folks are so easily "triggered" when they actually know so little. Perhaps that stated sentiment is the true hallmark of a Trump supporter - hear their supreme ruler speak and cling to it like gospel? If you are interested, check out what Kaepernick actually does with his money and then rethink notions you may have about him being "unpatriotic" and a "Son-of-a Bitch" (what Trump claims him to be). See: kaepernick7.com/. You can be assured many, many professional athletes do the same with their charitable foundations. I bet they actually accomplish more with their donations than the president ever has. Let that sink in!
Folks using their right of free speech to condemn others for exercising their same rights reveals the real problem we have in America. The very "Faux Patriotism" George Washington warned us about. Don't like Free speech? Then let's start with those of you that voice your condemnations - including the president. Please shut up. It's that simple.
As President John F. Kennedy once wrote; "Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth." May we all remember this next time some demand you always conform to other's alleged notion of "patriotism." Have a great week!
Although many people lost property from Hurricane Irma, many lives were saved by the early warnings of her destructive paths. I say paths because although no one knew for certain where she was headed, we did have advanced notice of how destructive she would be. Thankfully, my home was spared (losing fruit from our trees and some plantings that have "disappeared" along with contents of our freezer and refrigerator), but in the grand scheme of things, we came out pretty darn well. So how can so many continue to deny our climate is changing - and not for the better? How can so many politicize climate change by claiming it's a hoax from "China" or "liberals" or "Communists?" Could it be that it's nature - the one thing we may not be able to accurately predict except that it IS changing? One can only wonder what our world will be like in the future for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Don't have any grandchildren, so you don't care? I wonder if your grandparents felt that way about you too?
North Korea this week continued to poke the world by firing off another rocket over Japan. Do you think they believe this is the only way anyone will take them seriously as a military threat? Does anyone in their "right mind" think Donald Trump's use of the the label "Rocket Man" for Kim Jong Un will make it easier to deal with the guy? (See: www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/09/17/trump-mocks-kim-jong-un-calls-him-rocket-man.html). Does the president really think this is a smart way to deal with a country dedicated to amass a powerful nuclear arsenal? What could be even more sad? The comments in the link indicating many Trump supporters find this as "Funny" and that a Clint Eastwood figure out of Dirty Harry played by Trump would be appropriate to deal with our adversaries. I wonder how many of these jokers have ever fought in real battle? I wonder how much "fun" they would find in real combat? Then I ask myself, why are these same commentators laughing when our president throws insults towards others while getting upset when some criticize him (with Trump himself demanding apologies)? (See: www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-tweets-demand-for-espn-apology-over-jemele-hills-racism-comments/).
And just as Trump pivots to the Democrats on DACA and the debt ceiling in a chase for public opinion points, he goes and acts like his old self by retweeting a GIF of him hitting Hillary Clinton with a golf ball. No wonder "Rocket Man" can't take him seriously when he acts like a petulant teenager who thinks he gotten away with something. (See: www.cnn.com/2017/09/17/politics/trump-tweet-clinton/index.html).
So to the Democrats that think they have a potential avenue to work with Trump, it's obvious you are mistaken. To all those that support the man, please grow up. The presidency of the United States is not like being the president of a fraternity. It is serious business for serious people. Something our president has yet (and may never) learn. Until then, we are really all in potential danger. As President John F. Kennedy once wrote; "Domestic policy can only defeat us; foreign policy can kill us." Have a great week!
Daniel R. Rubin is an Attorney, Educator, Lecturer and National Award Winning Author. He is a retired adjunct professor of American History who also taught Advanced Placement United States Government and American Politics in Venice, Florida.