Category Archives: Political thoughts

Paul Ryan

Dear John Boehner and Paul Ryan: Your country is calling

Will you answer?

I am not going to lie, I was never a big fan of either of you when you were in Congress. In fact, I wrote this about Mr. Ryan’s budget in 2013. The caveat to this is that while I didn’t agree with you, I didn’t ever think either of you was bat shit crazy. Neither of you was the “burn it all down and screw anyone who gets in your way” kind of person that is Newt Gingrich.

Both of you are in an interesting position. No one can really attack your conservative bona fides (though followers of Qanon will). Sane people respect you. If either of you come out against President Donald Trump, you will boost your reputations and give yourself a good platform to return to public life. You both will look like leaders who put the country before party. That’s powerful stuff right there.

Let’s recap some of Trump’s actions in 2019-2020:

Trump doesn’t care about protecting American soldiers

Trump did nothing when he learned Russian President Vladimir Putin has been paying the Taliban to kill American soldiers. Let that sink in for a minute. Rather than confront Putin, he tried to get Russia readmitted to the G-7. Trump has kissed Putin’s ring for the entire time he has been in the White House (and long before that). While Trump’s “excuse” has been that no one told him, reports say that he was briefed in early 2019. It is common knowledge by now that the Donald is not a big reader (he rares looks at the Presidential Daily Briefings he gets) but John Bolton told colleagues that the briefing was in person. One of the most serious jobs a president has is keeping Ameican troops safe. If there was a grade worse than F, he would get it here. That alone should be enough to denounce him but there’s more.

Trump’s response to Covid-19 killed Americans

Trump’s incompetence has killed tens of thousands of Americans. As of today, more than 130,000 Americans have been killed by Covid-19. No, Trump did not create the virus but he did fire the pandemic team that was part of the National Security Council. He also threw away the pandemic response plan that the Obama team left for him. If that wasn’t bad enough, he called the whole thing a “hoax” for two months. Today, you can see how that has impacted people as Trump supporters don’t wear masks and non-Trumpers do. This shouldn’t be a political thing. Now, other Republican leaders are telling people to wear masks. Some reports say that if we took this more seriously and actually did something sooner, between 80 to 90 percent of the people who died from Covid-19 would still be alive. Remember, he was warned about this in January 2020. Let that settle in.

Trump thinks racial tension = better chances to be reelected

Trump is stoking the flames of racial discord and division across the United States. Our nation is at a precarious point. Americans of all races have finally had enough of innocent black people being killed by police or vigilantes. As the nation comes to grips with its original sin of slavery, what does the president do? He goes on the offense.

First, he tried to use the U.S. military to break up peaceful protests in Washington, DC. When he was included in a photo op in front of the church on the other side of LaFayette park from the White House, General Mark. A Kelly, chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, apologize saying “I should not have been there. My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.”

Now, he has been giving speeches defending Confederate heroes. First, he was at Mount Rushmore and then the White House. No one has ever claimed Trump is a constitutional or history scholar but this is just more proof that the only Ameican he cares about is himself.

That is just a summary of a few of the things he has done in 2019 and 2020. This list is not exhaustive or complete. If not caring about our soldiers in a war zone or people at home who are vulnerable to a deadly disease or thinking promoting a race war and thinking it is ok to use the most powerful military in the world to quell protests is not enough to make you see how dangerous Trump is to us and the world, I don’t think anything will.

Mr. Boeher and Mr. Ryan, we need your input

Mr. Boehner, from what I had read, you are pretty happy away from the spotlight. I am happy for you, truly. That also means you are not in a position to have to worry about reelection. What do you care if Trump tweets something mean? That may be what passes for a merit badge in 2020. You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain. When the rest of the party catches up to you, which they will, you will look like a real leader.

And Mr. Ryan, you are too young to be out of the game for good. Your previous statements about Trump and how you felt after the Access Hollywood tape give you somewhat of a foundation. We need to find a way back to a place where the Republicans and Democrats can talk to each other again. This tribalism, into which we have devolved, helps no one. You know that. I know you do.

Help us, Mr. Boehner and Ryan. Your country needs you.

Here’s a song about another politician who had to make such a decision.

Why so angry, white people?

Last night, I went to a Black Lives Matter protest in Port Jefferson, New York. More than 300 people marched from the railroad station through the village and ended up in front of Village Hall. We stopped midway and all took a knee for eight minutes and 46 seconds. It was a peaceful protest. People were respectful of each other and everyone had a mask on. No one seemed particularly angry.

When we reached the intersection of Main Street and West Broadway, there was a counter-protest. This was in front of a bank of shops where pro-Trump banners often hang and where a pro-Trump rally was held a few months ago. None of the counter-protesters were wearing masks. They were waiving pro-Trump flags and playing Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.” Being me, I approached them to let them know they were not playing the patriotic anthem they thought they were.

This went over about as I expected. One woman yelled at me, “The song says BORN IN THE USA, IS THAT NOT ENOUGH FOR YOU?” Well, no but that’s beside the point. The people supporting President Trump and opposing the #BLM protest were angry. Very angry. As I walked away they shouted, “Wake up! This is not about black lives! This is about anarchy! You are going to end up needing the police soon!” Their anger was visceral, raw. They are mad and they aren’t going to take it anymore.

The right turns to gaslighting

They are not alone. After Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed by police in a Wendy’s parking lot, the place was torched by two white women. A self-proclaimed member of the Boogaloo Bois Steven Carillo killed a security guard in Oakland, California during a #BLM protest. Chevy McGee had a stockpile of weapons confiscated by Denver police. He has said he part of the “Boogaloo movement.”

If you are not familiar with the Boogaloo Bois, they are a right-wing extremist group that wants to usher in another civil war. They are angry and they are armed. They are also not alone. The Proud Boys and American Guard are two other right-wing extremist groups who promote armed conflict and violence.

Meanwhile, in the ultimate case of gaslighting, right-wing groups perpetrate violence and looting and then blame it on the left. Both President Trump and Attorney General William Barr have blamed Antifa (anti-fascist) groups for violent acts even when the FBI has found no such link. Anecdotally, I know people who have expressed sympathy if not full-throated support for the Proud Boys. The people I know are beyond angry. They love Trump because he expresses the same anger they feel. They look around and are angry that white, straight men are no longer the only ones with any control over things. Thousands of years of having power over everyone else just wasn’t enough.

Black anger makes sense

I get black anger. I do. Think about it, if you haven’t already. Africans were pulled from their homes and brought to the New World in the worst conditions. By some estimates, two million died making the crossing.

This is a diagram of a slave ship.

Once they arrived, they were property. This original sin of the United States went on for hundreds of years. Then African-Americans were forced to endure Jim Crow laws, segregation and lynchings. Today, in addition to the brutality they experience at the hands of police and others, we incarcerate more black people than anyone else. The sentences given to African-Americans are much harsher. Dylan Roof killed nine people in a church in South Carolina. He was not killed, he was arrested.

This video is a must-watch if you care about racial justice

Tamir Rice. Brionna Taylor. Amadou Diallo. Bothan Jean. Trayvon Martin. Eric Garner. Sandra Bland. Michael Brown. Ahmed Arbery. We know these names because of how they were killed. One of the speakers last night said she was scared of becoming a name on a list. If I thought sleeping in my bed, eating ice cream on my couch, playing in a playground, walking down the street, going to the store and other normal activities could wind up with me dead, I would be angry all of the time.

But people on the side of Black Lives Matter are not plotting against the government and stockpiling weapons. People on the right stockpile weapons. People on the left stockpile books.

Today is Juneteenth. This should be a national holiday. To the people who think, but I’m not racist, all white people have benefited from white privilege. It took me a long time to see how I benefited because my life has not been what people think it is. It is now up to us to move the country past racism and deliver on the promises of our Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

Donald Trump is a fascist pussy

One of the things that makes our government so special is that we have civilian control of our military. This was a big deal to the Founding Fathers who did not want to create the same kind of government they fought to get out of.

The framers of the U.S. Constitution worked to ensure the military would be under civilian control. They did not want to emulate the European experience. The colonies had just fought a war for freedom from Britain. The king controlled the British military, and the framers had no interest in duplicating that system.
When they wrote the Constitution they separated the responsibilities for the military, placing the responsibilities firmly in civilian hands.

Department of Defense

Over the past few days, President Trump has suggested the military be brought in and if David Ignatius knows what he is talking about the trigger was almost pulled,

President Trump came closer to the brink of ordering active-duty military troops to intervene against protesters in Washington this week than has generally been reported, according to senior Pentagon officials.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/06/05/how-trump-came-brink-deploying-active-duty-troops-washington/

Senator Tom Cotton went as far as to call for this in an op-ed for the NY Times. The president himself seemed all hung ho, ready to clear the streets.

The problem is the U.S. military should never be used to police American citizens. That’s what the police and National Guard are for. This would set a dangerous precedent and would violate the Constitution.

But wait, there’s more. Attorney General William Barr wants Congress to pass legislation allowing indefinite detention of defendants without trial, according to Politico.

The Justice Department has quietly asked Congress for the ability to ask chief judges to detain people indefinitely without trial during emergencies — part of a push for new powers that comes as the novel coronavirus spreads throughout the United States.

Politico

So on one hand they want to send the military after people exercising their rights and on the other they want to deny other rights to people suspected of a crime. Trump’s lack of respect for the Constitution is not new but his attacks on our fundamental rights is escalating and is dangerous. Meanwhile has wrapped the White House in razor wire and hides from the people he works for.

Goodbye American democracy, you had a good run

fascist
Even Larry King was intrigued by the Donald’s do.

Help us, Kentucky voters, you are our only hope

I just finished writing a post about Mitch McConnell on the Daily Kos.  In it, I implore the voters of Kentucky to vote out the current Senate Majority Leader. I hope you will check it out. The caption that you cannot read says, “I would love to do more but I want to be reelected and I have to do what President Trump wants. It is impossible to know what he wants so I do nothing.”

While we do need to get rid of McConnell, it would also help for some GOP Senators to grow a spine. If you live in a state with a GOP senator, you can call 202-224-3121 or text “resist” to 50409.

It is time to take back Congress from the Trumpers.

This is how genocide starts

This was reprinted from Firebrand Left. As that website is no longer up and running, I found it on the Way Back Machine. I think we are past three and have reached five.

Over the past few days, I have been spending some time over at a pro-Donald Trump Facebook group. While I have found a lot of things I have heard Donald Trump say to be upsetting, frightening or just plain confusing, nothing I have heard him say comes even close to what his supporters say. They say the United States Constitution is “outdated.” They do, support the Second Amendment but the rest was written by people who did not have to deal with modern-day terrorism. This is how they justify hating Muslims. Islam, they say, is not a religion but a political ideology.

screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-11-13-03-am

This is not helpful for any real conversation but that is not the real problem. While I do not think it is appropriate to define 1.6 billion people this way but that is not the real problem either. The problem is not even that anti-Muslim rhetoric makes gives the extremists more ammunition to use against us or that it makes it harder to fight terrorism. The problem is that when you start defining this way, we are taking the first step towards genocide. That’s not the America I think we want to live in.

You may be thinking, “That’s pretty extreme.” It is but there is something that people do not realize about genocide. If you look at the phenomenon across centuries and continents, you will see genocide follows a predictable pattern. From Armenia and Germany to Rwanda and Sudan and then to Cambodia, there are ten steps all of these genocides follow. They are (per Genocide Watch):

  1. Classification
  2. Symbolization
  3. Discrimination
  4. Dehumanization
  5. Organization
  6. Polarization
  7. Preparation
  8. Persecution
  9. Extermination
  10. Denial

We are hovering somewhere between step one and three. We have not quite gotten to the point of actual discrimination but there are measures that have passed or considered to ban Sharia law in all but 16 American states. Who is behind all of this? A number of high profile Republicans such as Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann have spearheaded the “anti-Sharia” movement.

This belief, that Americans need to be protected from Muslims, has been advanced by the Trump campaign. HIs famous promises to build walls along the Mexican but not Canadian border and to ban entry by Muslims advance the cause of racism and Islamophobia. We need to be protected from what we see as “them.” Americans are Christian (and sometimes Jewish). That’s the ‘us.” Muslims are not true Americans who pay their taxes, love their families and serve in our military, they are outsiders to be feared and demonized.

Trump and his supporters point out the recent attacks throughout Europe, in Orlando and in New York and New Jersey. They do not mention the fact that the gunman in Orlando was born in New York nor do they talk about the Oklahoma City bombing by a United States born terrorist or the multitudes of shootings by Americans. No one was talking about religion when they looked at the massacres in Sandy Hook, Columbine or at 101 California Street. We are not being killed in mass numbers by Muslims coming into the country. We are too busy killing ourselves.

The problem with the people who think, and my feeling is that they really believe the things they are saying, that we are facing an existential threat. Adolph Hitler really believed that the world was engaged in an epic battle for survival against the Jews.  When people say things like, “there are no good Muslims and bad Muslims…” they are reading right out of the Nazi Germany playbook:

This is not what this country is all about. We cannot become complicit to the mentality that is promoted by the Trump supporters. We are better than that. I hope.

Photo by Gage Skidmore