A Trump Thanksgiving

Alan Zendell, November 22, 2018

I’ve always considered Thanksgiving untouchable. For years it’s been the only American holiday that remained free of self-righteous religious preaching and self-important politicians, who were thankfully smart enough to realize that what we were most thankful for was not having to see or hear them for at least one day. Most of us would rather enjoy our families and friends, steeped in the warmth of our own personal spirituality.

Of course, it was different this year. Our self-loving president filled the airwaves with a military teleconference with some troops stationed in Afghanistan and Kuwait. It’s not uncommon for presidents to thank the military stationed overseas for their service on Thanksgiving. It’s always a staged, artificial event, because…well…presidents feel it’s something they’re required to do. Most don’t do ritual all that well, but we forgive their awkwardness because, after all, we really are thankful to the people we have deployed all over the world to protect us.

As usual, however, Trump couldn’t leave it at that. Our president, who pulled every string he had and paid off everyone he could to avoid serving in the military himself is horribly miscast as Commander in Chief. Amidst all his lies, exaggerations, and hate-mongering, he is at his most disingenuous when he is lauding the military. He has no business being in the same room as the generals who invest their lives in protecting us.

Last week, he demonstrated once again how shallow his respect for our military really is. Like every banana republic dictator who ever lived, he cares nothing for genuine heroism and patriotism. All that matters to Donald Trump is demonstrated loyalty to him, as we saw when he attacked the Navy Seal Admiral who oversaw the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden. Why? Because retired Adm. William McRaven, who served under Presidents Bush-43 and Obama stood up for the constitution, claiming that the president’s attack on the media is the greatest threat to our democracy in his lifetime.

A mere few days later, Trump had to read from a prepared text to thank our troops, but as expected, he quickly veered off script to make the Thanksgiving call about himself. He told his captive audience on the other end of the phone line how he has single-handedly created the strongest economy ever seen anywhere in the world. (He omitted that as a result of his trade policies and tariffs, the stock markets ended in negative territory for the year, yesterday, despite the massive tax cut that enabled large corporations to reap windfall profits.)

He also whined about the ways the courts are a constant roadblock for him. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals was cited as a particular thorn in his side. Those damn Obama judges have apparently been obstructing Trump’s efforts at imperial rule. (He also omitted that his intemperate remarks about the courts sparked a never-before heard rebuke from the conservative Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.)

Instead of giving those soldiers he loves so much a needed day off from the horrors of their Afghanistan tours, and for one day letting their families and those who are truly grateful to them shower them with praise, Trump treated them to an attack on a co-equal branch of our government, one sworn to uphold the constitution our troops are there to defend. He made himself and his huge ego the star of the show. And he somehow equated the thousands of desperate migrants who left poverty and death behind in Honduras and Guatemala with the ISIS and Taliban terrorists our military is dealing with. How utterly offensive is that – but our president has no clue.

I’m going to spend Thanksgiving with three generations of family, the way it’s supposed to be spent. I’m going to ignore Donald Trump for the rest of the day (now that I’ve gotten this off my chest.) We’re going to eat too much and be thankful to be together. The only thing allowed on television screens for the rest of the day is football, and for one day we’ll act as if all is well in the world and in our country.

There will be plenty of time tomorrow to get back to the task of preventing Donald Trump from destroying it all.

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Jungle Values

Alan Zendell, November 20, 2018

If you long since gave up being shocked by anything Donald Trump does, you shouldn’t be surprised at his complete indifference to the crimes of the Saudi Crown Prince. “Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t, we’ll probably never know for sure,” was Trump’s reaction to the CIA’s near certainty that Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Instanbul last month.

If that triggers a feeling of déjà vu, it’s because it was the same refrain he used when the CIA told him Russia definitely hacked our 2016 election at the direction of Vladimir Putin. It was the same thing he said when Roy Moore, his favored candidate in Alabama’s special Senate election was credibly accused of assaulting teen-age girls, and when recently confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was similarly accused in sworn testimony by a California University Professor. And when several of his cabinet officers were accused of enriching themselves at the public trough, Trump was equally deaf and blind to reality.

There are two different themes at work here, the result being an unfortunate confluence of values or lack of them. One is the mantra he learned at the knee of mob lawyer and Joesph McCarthy devotee Roy Cohn: whenever you’re accused, deny, deny, deny. Whenever Trump is inconvenienced by reality, that’s what he does, secure in the knowledge that his base will agree, regardless of the evidence.

The second is the convergence of two of Trump’s campaign themes, America First and discarding political correctness. We convinced ourselves it was all bluster, but we were wrong. Trump meant every word of it. We saw it when he continually insulted our traditional allies in Europe and Canada, and when he refused to criticize the dictators who rule North Korea, The Philippines, Russia, and China.

Trump really believes America’s immediate self-interest comes ahead of everything else, and he feels no need to sugarcoat that. It’s not clear whether his tough approach to diplomacy has accomplished anything other than creating enormous turmoil in world economies and in our allies’ capitals. And it’s also not clear that what Trump perceives as America’s short-term interest is actually good for the country. There’s even less reason to believe that his view is in our long-term interest.

The latest evidence of this is the case of the Saudi Crown Prince. The media trumpets it as a conflict between traditional American values and Trump’s raw pragmatism. That’s naïve, and one thing Trump is right about is exposing that as BS. Our government has used other countries’ alleged human rights violations as excuses for actions that would otherwise have been seen as indefensible by most Americans.

I clearly recall President Lyndon Johnson justifying his expansion of the Vietnamese War as a defense of “the freedom loving people of South Vietnam.” We all knew that was crap, and Johnson might have done better using Trump’s approach, and simply declaring that the war in Vietnam was a war against Soviet and Chinese Communism. We still might have demonstrated against it, but at least he’d have been telling the truth, misguided as it may have been.

That’s basically what Trump did today. He declared that American policy doesn’t care how corrupt or criminal the Saudi Royal family is. As long as they consider Iran their mortal enemy, they are free to bomb civilians in Yemen, fund terrorism, and continue to stand in the way of Israel’s acceptance into the community of nations.

They can go on murdering their own citizens whenever it suits them, treat women like chattel, and live in obscene luxury while most of their country resides in squalor. The Saudis are not our friends, despite Trump describing them as outstanding allies, as opposed to Canada, Mexico, and the of the EU who he claims rip us off and expect us to pay for their defense with American tax dollars.

Trump applies the rule of the jungle to all situations. Human values always lose when they’re weighed against strategic benefits. Our friends are merely the enemies of our enemies. The thing is, maybe Trump is doing the country a service by looking at the world that way and dispensing with political correctness. In doing so, he’s clearly defining the political arena for 2020.

The 2018 election was a clear repudiation of the excesses of Trumpism. The 2020 election may well be a referendum on what kind of country we want to be.

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nancy’s Choice

Alan Zendell, November 12, 2018

Now that the Democrats have won back the House, what are they going to do with their majority? The Party’s performance in recent decades isn’t encouraging.

Nancy Pelosi, if she becomes Speaker, must quickly determine the House’s course for the next two years. She has three basic approaches from which to choose. She can attempt to negotiate bipartisan legislation with Trump and the Senate, obstruct the president’s agenda, or go down the path of investigating Trump with an eye toward impeachment. Whichever she chooses there can be no waffling. Once she picks a strategy she’ll have no choice but to see it through.

Above all, she must never trust anything Trump says, publicly or privately, and not rise to the bait he throws out with his tweets and hate-mongering rallies. Chaos is his friend. He will lie and mislead as he always has, his primary goal being disrupting the opposition and convincing himself that he won. Nothing else matters to Trump. He’s a master at it, and he prosecutes every objective with ruthless obsession.

The question of whether to pursue bipartisan objectives is complex. On one hand, the new House will contain a number of eager Progressives looking to make a mark, and Pelosi herself needs to have legislative wins to provide momentum for 2020. She’d love to be able to take credit for ending Congressional deadlock, but she can’t get too carried away with fantasies.

Trump cares not at all about bipartisan solutions. He won’t take any position that angers his base, and he has carefully honed that third of the country’s electorate to despise Progressivism. He will never voluntarily back off on his appeals to racism and his attempts to keep immigrants out so America will remain dominated by white money. He’ll never compromise on any significant issue unless he is compelled to by the courts or he senses cracks in his own party.

The worst thing Pelosi can do is invest her majority in long, drawn out attempts to create legislation based on assurances from Trump. If she makes that mistake, it will be election season 2020 before she knows it and the Democrats will have no record to run on.

As to obstructing Trump’s agenda, Trump has and will blame Democrats for everything that doesn’t get passed, whether or not there’s any truth to support him. The 2018 election wave established that a significant majority of Americans are already wise to that tactic, so Pelosi really has little to lose. On the positive side, she received her majority because the key voters who were the difference in the 2016 election stated clearly that they don’t like the directions Trump is taking us.

Many voters, myself among them, saw this election as an opportunity to prevent Trump from doing any more damage to our American value system. That includes restoring the EPA’s role in protecting the environment, halting efforts to further dismantle the health care safety net, and standing firm against the erosion of women’s rights.

It also includes fighting against the continued destruction of our international relationships. Congress has a lot to say about trade and diplomacy, about borders and immigration and preserving America’s role as a safe haven for the oppressed. Specifically, the House can prevent the spectacle of thousands of troops patrolling our border with Mexico simply by taking positive action to refuse to fund it.  

Finally, Pelosi must determine what portion of her limited resources to divert to investigating the president. No doubt, it would be immensely gratifying to obtain access to his tax and financial records and show a pervasive pattern of conflict of interest with his foreign investments. Likewise to embarrass him over revelations of improper, possible illegal actions during his election campaign. More than half the country would love to dance on his political grave the way he did last week when Republicans who distanced themselves from him were defeated. It would feel great for a while, but what would the endgame be?

If the objective is to cow the president, Pelosi should forget it. Donald Trump is absolutely shameless. He will never back down unless he’s defeated by cohesive bipartisan disapproval or a sharp rebuke from the courts. And if her objective is impeachment, she should seriously rethink that.

The Mitch McConnell, Republican dominated Senate would only convict the president if the Mueller investigation found evidence of serious criminal behavior and clear cooperation with foreign governments during the election campaign. It took a delegation of senior Republicans led by Barry Goldwater to convince Richard Nixon that he could not remain in office. And if his party begins to turn on him? Whenever Trump senses threat he turns into a feral animal. I can’t imagine that the resulting spectacle would be good for the country.

I wish the new Speaker well. Her decisions may determine our political future for decades.

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Deadly Carousel

Alan Zendell, November 9, 2018

The Sandy Hook massacre occurred almost six years ago. In case you’ve erased it from your memory, twenty-seven people, mostly young children, were gunned down by a heavily armed, mentally unstable young man because he was angry at his mother, who was one of the victims. Since then, the number of innocent people killed in shooting sprees in the United States is 391, with another 823 injured. Please take a moment to scan the table of deaths and injuries to refresh your recollection.

Sandy Hook wasn’t the first mass shooting of innocent people in this country, but I started there because that one was so horrific, most Americans thought it was the final straw. Surely Congress and the President would have to take some action to prevent this from happening in the future, wouldn’t they?

Guess not.

Thousand Oaks nightclub Thousand Oaks, CA 11/7/2018 12 22
Tree of Life synagogue Pittsburgh, PA 10/27/2018 11 6
Rite Aid warehouse Perryman, MD 9/20/2018 3 3
T&T Trucking Bakersfield, CA 9/12/2018 5 0
Fifth Third Center Cincinnati, OH 9/6/2018 3 2
Capital Gazette Annapolis, MD 6/28/2018 5 2
Santa Fe HS Santa Fe, TX 5/18/2018 10 13
Waffle House Nashville, TN 4/22/2018 4 4
Yountville veterans home Yountville, CA 3/9/2018 3 0
Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS Parkland, FL 2/14/2018 17 14
Pennsylvania carwash Melcroft, PA 1/28/2018 4 1
Rancho Tehama Rancho Tehama, CA 11/14/2017 5 10
Texas First Baptist Church Sutherland Spgs, TX 11/5/2017 26 20
Walmart  in suburban Denver Thornton, CO 11/1/2017 3 0
Edgewood business park Edgewood, MD 10/18/2017 3 3
Las Vegas Strip Las Vegas, NV 10/1/2017 58 546
San Francisco UPS San Francisco, CA 6/14/2017 3 2
Pennsylvania supermarket Tunkhannock, PA 6/7/2017 3 0
Florida awning manufacturer Orlando, FL 6/5/2017 5 0
Rural Ohio nursing home Kirkersville, OH 5/12/2017 3 0
Fresno downtown Fresno, CA 4/18/2017 3 0
Fort Lauderdale airport Fort Lauderdale, FL 1/6/2017 5 6
Cascade Mall Burlington, WA 9/23/2016 5 0
Baton Rouge police Baton Rouge, LA 7/17/2016 3 3
Dallas police Dallas, TX 7/7/2016 5 11
Orlando nightclub Orlando, FL 6/12/2016 49 53
Excel Industries Hesston, Kansas 2/25/2016 3 14
Kalamazoo Kalamazoo Cty, MI 2/20/2016 6 2
San Bernardino San Bernardino, CA 12/2/2015 14 21
Planned Parenthood clinic Colorado Sprgs, CO 11/27/2015 3 9
Colorado Springs  Colorado Sprgs, CO 10/31/2015 3 0
Umpqua Community College Roseburg, OR 10/1/2015 9 9
Chattanooga military recruitment ctr Chattanooga, TN 7/16/2015 5 2
Charleston Church Charleston, SC 6/17/2015 9 1
Trestle Trail bridge Menasha, WI 6/11/2015 3 1
Marysville-Pilchuck HS Marysville, WA 10/24/2014 5 1
Isla Vista Santa Barbara, CA 5/23/2014 6 13
Fort Hood Fort Hood, TX 4/3/2014 3 12
Alturas tribal Alturas, CA 2/20/2014 4 2
Washington Navy Yard Washington, D.C. 9/16/2013 12 8
Hialeah apartment Hialeah, FL 7/26/2013 7 0
Santa Monica Santa Monica, CA 6/7/2013 6 3
Pinewood Village Apartments Federal Way, WA 4/21/2013 5 0
Mohawk Valley Herkimer Cty, NY 3/13/2013 5 2
Sandy Hook Elementary Newtown, CT 12/14/2012 27 2
391 823

Instead we’ve repeatedly ridden the carousel of death until boredom, frustration, or despair over a broken system we felt powerless to affect made us forget and move on. Each time we stepped on the carousel we optimistically believed something would change. Each time we got off, we hoped it was the last time. But wishing and hoping don’t accomplish anything, any more than blind faith in our leaders does.

The carousel just keeps going round and round. We start by climbing aboard the horse called Gun Control. We cry and rage and plead over things that are basically no-brainers to any reasonable person. We debate obvious things like military assault weapons, background checks, bump stocks, and expanded magazines. A few members of Congress even talk about change, and every president, even Trump, pays lip service to the need to fix the problem.

Then we climb on the NRA horse. Wayne LaPierre and his surrogates tell us that guns don’t kill people, people do. They divert us with hyperbolic threats that the government is coming to take our guns away and it’s every American’s responsibility to defend the Second Amendment, and anyway, the real problem is untreated mental illness.

My guess is that fewer than one percent of Americans have actually read the Second Amendment. If you’re in the other 99%, take another few seconds to look at it – it’s really quite brief: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Yep, that’s it.

Keep a couple of things in mind as you read it. It was adopted in 1791, in the aftermath of the Revolutionary War. In those days, “arms” mostly meant muskets and pistols, which were single shot weapons that had to be reloaded each time they were fired, and were horribly inaccurate except at point blank range. They often misfired and they were useless in rainy weather.

Second, note the term “well regulated militia.” Prior to the Revolution, the Colonies were under British rule. The military consisted of British soldiers, German mercenaries working for the British Crown, and the Royal Navy. George Washington’s army, such as it was, was assembled from local militias which had no formal military status and answered only to themselves until independence was declared. In the context of the times the militias were comparable to today’s National Guards.

The NRA would have us believe that the Second Amendment requires every American home to include a private arsenal in case the British come back to retrieve their lost colonies, as they did in 1812. But enough of this nonsense. The meaning of the Amendment aside, the truth is that gun ownership and mental health are entirely separate issues, but it suits the NRA’s purpose to conflate them so they don’t have to accept responsibility for gun violence.

It’s obvious that Americans own too many weapons, and in many cases the wrong kinds of weapons. We can’t resolve those issues here, but maybe we can do something about mental health. Lost in the failed attempts to dismantle Obamacare was the unfortunate fact that most mental health problems go untreated in the United States. Most health insurance plans attachment burdensome restrictions and crippling copayments to mental health coverage, and government programs like Medicare and Medicaid treat mental health as a side issue at best.

The same is true of Veterans’ programs, despite all the noise made by politicians lauding the military. Every president campaigns on helping veterans, but another sad truth is that they often come home shattered by war. It’s no accident that the many of America’s mass shootings are the work of military veterans whose mental health was severely damaged by their service.

So before we ride the carousel again, let’s keep our eyes on the prize. Mental illness and the proliferation of killing machines are both very serious problems. But they’re different problems that require different, carefully thought out solutions. If the Democrats are serious about improving our health care, they can start by laying out mental health goals and initiatives and putting them into legislation with their own lines in next year’s budget.

It’s time to stop campaigning and grandstanding, and get serious before our kids are the next ones to be murdered.

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Most Important Election Since the Great Depression

Alan Zendell, November 5, 2018

Tomorrow, the nation will participate in the fifth midterm election since Bill Clinton was elected president in 1992 – at least some of it will. There are two very significant things everyone should know about mid-term elections.

First, they usually serve as a significant check on the actions and power of the current president. Presidents Clinton, Bush 43 and Obama all suffered devastating setbacks to their political agendas in their midterms, and the polls (I can’t write that word without cringing) suggest that might happen tomorrow.

Perhaps more important, and certainly more surprising, despite the sharp turnaround in national political attitudes that usually result from the midterms, turnout is always disappointing. In the first midterms held for each of the previous three presidents, the turnouts in percentage of eligible voters were: (1994) 38.8%, (2002) 37.0%, and (2010) 37.8%. That’s absolutely shocking.

After twelve years of Republican governments, Clinton’s first two years in the White House saw an abortive attempt to reform health care and the beginning of extreme right-wing radio led by Rush Limbaugh. The latter continually unleashed scathing and not always factual attacks against the Clintons, including thirteen-year-old Chelsea. The result was the “Gingrich revolution,” in which the Republicans gained fifty-four seats in the House of Representatives and eight seats in the Senate.

Bush’s first two years included nine-eleven and the initial, successful stages of our war against the Taliban. It was also the last time there was any general sense of unity in the United States, and the Republicans, the party in power, actually gained eight House seats and two Senate seats in the 2002 midterms. But with anger over our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan mushrooming, the Democrats gained thirty-one House seats and six in the Senate in the 2006 midterms.

In Obama’s first term, anger over the passage of Obamacare despite unified Republican opposition caused the 2010 midterms to be devastating for Democrats. Republicans gained sixty-three House seats and six Senate seats, the largest swing in Congress since 1948.

The stakes in all those elections were very high, but none higher than they are now. We’ve always had bitterly disputed elections, but there hasn’t been a time when the party in power attempted such a radical change in the face of America since Franklin Roosevelt’s first term in the early years of the Great Depression. And there hasn’t been a time since the Civil War when the party in power relied so heavily on gender- or race- based pandering to divide and polarize the country.

No president in recent memory has instigated hate and turmoil the way Donald Trump has. No president in anyone’s memory has flaunted a vulgar immoral character the way Trump has, and none has been a party to attempting to take away desperately needed health care benefits from over twenty million working class Americans. Trump’s singular achievement was a massive tax cut which primarily benefited large corporations and wealthy Americans. No matter how anyone tries to sugar-coat it, his entire administration has been about class and gender warfare and keeping non-whites out of the country.

The pollsters say this election will be decided by women, since most of the contested House seats will be decided in affluent suburbs. I wondered in 2016 how so many women could bring themselves to vote for Trump. His treatment of women, personally, and his disdain for their rights in general couldn’t have been clearer. We’re told now by those same pollsters that many women who voted for Trump in 2016 regret doing so, and several million angry women are a powerful force to reckon with.

But we also know low voter turnout among minorities, especially African Americans in urban areas, are probably what won the election for Trump in states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Florida. Will history repeat itself? Will only three of every eight eligible voters turn out tomorrow? That would be a disaster for our democracy.

It’s up to all of us. Early voting numbers suggest that we may do better this time. Already, the number of people who have voted this year is a third of the total who voted in 2016. Both sides claim that heavy turnouts will benefit them, but this isn’t about sides.

I believe this is the most important election of my lifetime, and I’ve been voting since 1961. If Americans do not turn out in huge numbers, it could be a catastrophic blow to our two-party system. And if Democrats and Independents stay home they will  dangerously increase the power of a megalomaniacal president who seems intent on undermining the safeguards in our Constitution.

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hatemongering is Not What Made America Great

Alan Zendell, November 2, 2018

When I began America the Beautiful, I selected the maxim “Dedicated to preserving what has made America great.” It wasn’t intended to be subtle. The truth is, I hate blogs. But I hate hypocrisy and anything else that denigrates our country even more. So I bit the bullet and somehow, I’ve managed to publish 160 articles since Trump was inaugurated.

I’m old enough to have followed Donald Trump’s career ever since he forced himself into the public eye, and I despised everything he stood for long before he was either a politician or a Republican. For Donald Trump to have adopted “Make America Great Again” as his campaign slogan was pure chutzpah, (which probably demonstrates that whatever else he is, he’s not anti-Semitic.) It’s no surprise to me that he doesn’t know America’s greatness had nothing to with ideas like winning at any cost, putting money above everything else, or bulldozing his way through life without a moral center.

I know what made America great. So do you. I grew up in New York in the years after World War 2, believing we were the greatest country in the world, and carrying that feeling with me ever since. We weren’t perfect by any means, but I never doubted that we were the best.

I knew we had just saved Europe from the Nazis, and we’d been the principal driving force in ending Imperial Japan’s brutal domination of Asia. I also knew we’d taken the task of rebuilding Europe and Japan after the war on our own shoulders. We were the only country in the world with the resources to accomplish that and we did it willingly and generously. We were admired by people all over the world, and as Donald Trump has pointed out in his uniquely twisted way, they all wanted to come here.

We let them come, as we had done for two hundred years before that because we knew that once it had been our own grandparents who came here, and it was their work and commitment that had made America great. Despite what Donald Trump screams at his rallies, the people who come here seeking better lives for their families are not losers. They’re the strong ones, the ones with the courage to leave everything they’ve known all their lives and strike out, often with little more than the shirts on their backs. They’re the ones that come here and sacrifice everything for their children’s future.

We had our own problems back then. Immigrants were called Micks and Wops and Kikes and Niggers and Spics and Gooks, but they came anyway and for the most part became the backbone on which our prosperity grew. Is there something wrong with me for having to take a deep breath every time I fly over the Statue of Liberty or drive within sight of it?

My generation struggled to overcome its demons. We desegregated our schools and passed laws to help people rise out of poverty and get decent educations. We weren’t always successful, but we made human rights a part of the face we showed the world, and we were revered for it. We’ve made mistakes and we’ve sometimes let greed shape our futures. Those flaws almost brought us down a couple of times but we’re still here and better for the lessons we learned.

So I absolutely reject the politics of hatemongering. As despicable as Donald Trump seemed to me in the past, with his unethical business practices and lack of respect for the truth, his involvement with organized crime bosses, and his disregard for everyone who was hurt by his business scams (have you seen Atlantic City, NJ recently?) nothing prepared me for what I’ve seen in his presidency.

Stock market rallies come and go, but morality and integrity once lost are forever tarnished. Trump’s disgraceful behavior leading up to next week’s election and the even more disgraceful failure of his own party to hold him accountable are the antithesis of what made us great.

What’s most interesting is that Trump has come out of the closet. He doesn’t even pretend any more. All that matters to him is winning, so he’s spending the final week stoking up the racist elements of his base, spewing lies and filth and hate wherever he goes. It’s nauseating, and it’s what we must become if we don’t put a stop to it.

Barack Obama held a rally in Miami today. He was greeted by pro-Trump goons doing everything they could to disrupt his message. Whatever you think of Obama’s presidency, and I had many disagreements with the things he did, today he reminded us of what it means to be a Mensch, that is, the opposite of Donald Trump. He didn’t call anyone names. He just went on talking about love and unity the way he always has.

In the end we usually get what we deserve.  We took our eyes off the ball in 2016, and we’ve paid for it with a huge chunk of our national soul. We can fix that simply by voting. If we don’t we may slip so far down the slope we’re on that we won’t ever get back up.

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What Hath Trump Wrought?

Alan Zendell, October 29, 2018

As you contemplate how you will vote this year, keep in mind that President Trump has characterized this election as a referendum on him. Of course it is. In Trumpland, everything is about him. Let’s go with that and look at the facts.

Trump and his Republican dominated Congress passed what the president called the largest tax cut in history for the middle class. But a recent poll commissioned by the Republican National Committee found that an overwhelming majority of voters believe by more than two to one that the tax cuts benefit the wealthy instead of average Americans. Only you know how it affected your taxes, but what you may not know is that as a result of the tax cuts, the gross federal debt increased by $1.25 trillion in FY 2018, and in FY 2019, which began on October 1st, the federal deficit is expected to increase from $779 billion to $984 billion.

The unemployment rate has continued the decline that began during the Obama administration and is now at a twenty-year low, but from September 2017 to September 2018, real average hourly earnings increased by only 0.4 percent, before inflation. And the stock market boom that was attributed to Trump’s election is over. On January 1, 2018 the S&P 500 index, the single best indicator of the strength of US industry, stood at 2790. When the markets closed on October 26, it was 2659. That’s a drop of 4.7%.

Under Trump’s tax law, your personal tax cuts will decrease each year until they disappear in 2026, and by then, the government may have no choice but to severely cut Social Security and Medicare to avoid insolvency. Trump’s actions have already increased health insurance premiums for millions. Decide for yourself whether, on balance, all that is positive or negative.

We have lived for more than three years in the moral vacuum of Trump’s rhetoric of hate and division. He has raised the national level of anger and mistrust to levels not seen since the darkest days of the Vietnam War. While I’m sure that Trump, personally, is neither racist nor anti-semitic, he continues to pander to White Supremacists, religious bigots, and right wing conspiracy advocates. He also accepts no responsibility for the results of his rabble rousing. Despite provoking rage and feverish discord at every opportunity, he would have us believe that the explosive divisions in our country are the fault of the media.

I don’t believe that, and neither do most Americans. Acts of violence by mentally unstable people have been with us for decades. In the past we’ve wrung our hands about the availability of guns and a health care system that mostly ignores the mentally ill, and then watched in horror as our lawmakers said, “Guns don’t kill, people do,” and made no attempt to solve either problem. Over time we’ve come to accept that these randomly occurring events were part of life, and hoped we wouldn’t be among the victims next time.

But it’s different, now. Today, Brad Parscale, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager was the latest Trump sycophant to claim that the president’s rhetoric is not responsible for the recent spate of violence. But we know better, don’t we? There was nothing random or accidental about what happened last week. Three horrifying acts of domestic terrorism in one week, just as Trump turned up the hate volume at his Nazi-style rallies leading up to the election cannot possibly be unrelated to the president’s behavior.

Three violent acts by deranged individuals charged with rage until they suddenly reached the breaking point all at the same time should have the same effect on us as fire alarms and air raid sirens. We’ve been broken for a long time, but Donald Trump has exposed every crack and fissure in our national psyche and exploited it. He has magnified them until he created a monster and then looked away and claimed it wasn’t his fault.

Of course it’s his fault. Is it a coincidence that every person on the current mad bomber’s list was someone targeted by Trump at his rallies? Is there no relationship between a professed racist suddenly acting out his rage against black people in a Louisville supermarket and Trump’s refusal to condemn proponents of racism because it would cost him their votes?

And in the very same week, when another mentally ill loser decided to kill people in Pittsburgh just because they were Jewish, in the midst of the president’s constant verbal attacks against everyone outside his base, these events cannot be unrelated. When the Jewish community in Pittsburgh, having suffered this tragic loss, said the president was unwelcome there until he clearly and positively refuted the causes of racism and neo-Naziism, they spoke for all of us.

We’ve had enough of Trump’s false platitudes and self-serving hate-mongering. When I cast my ballot on the first day of early voting in Maryland last week, every box I marked was in the knowledge that Trump’s shadow was on it. He’ll be there when you vote, too.

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment