Lies Are Killing People: Lies and Caring Only for One’s Own Power

On Thursday, 4/2, Ari Melber, on his MSNBC program, interviewed Kirsten Gillibrand and later talked with Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel and others. I greatly appreciated Senator Gillibrand saying “we need truthtellers now.” And Dr. Emanuel continuing with this theme, saying we have to pay attention to facts. Lies are killing people.

 

The Coronavirus is making it abundantly clear what half of the population of the US already knew—not only that DT lies, constantly. Not only does he do so to serve his own self-interest or express his ignorance. But these lies are dangerous. They can and are, right now, killing people. We have to combat the lies, distortions, fake news in order to save not only ourselves but the lives of all those we care about.

 

Likewise, earlier in the week Senator Chris Coons (D, Delaware), and on Friday, Rachel Maddow, talked about the fact that DT, just like George Bush with Katrina, and most of the “reduce government” GOP, feel it is not their job to save lives in a crisis, not their job to organize the manufacture and supply of medical equipment or relief aid.

 

In fact, according to CNN and recordings of the “news conference,” on Thursday, 4/2, DT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is now in charge of the coronavirus relief effort, chastised governors for asking the Federal Government to send the medical supplies in its stockpiles to the cities and states that desperately need them. At one point, Kushner even said that the federal stockpile of emergency medical supplies is not meant for the states. “It’s supposed to be our stockpile.” The CNN article questioned who did Kushner mean by “our?” I wonder. Did he mean the Trump family? Or the Federal government? If he meant the latter, the Federal Government, clearly that would mean the people of this nation who need them, right? If he meant the former, he shouldn’t be in charge of anything in the government.

 

But maybe the Trump family is exactly what he meant. Kushner’s father-in-law told Vice President Pence to ignore the calls for aid by Governors who did not show appreciation for him. Some states, like Florida, led by devotees of DT, got all the aid they asked for, and quickly. Others still haven’t seen all or any equipment. Meanwhile, DT outbid Governors for needed supplies.

 

Since he became President, DT ignored warnings of a possible pandemic and ignored warnings about this pandemic. He cut funds for the CDC, NSC, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services to fight global diseases and dismantled the White House team in charge of global health security.

 

According to the New York Times, he has invoked the Defense Production Act hundreds of thousands of times to help the military.  But now, when so many lives are at stake, he won’t actually use it. There is no rational reason for this behavior except that he doesn’t think it is in the best interests of corporations to use this power, or he thinks it is not in his best interest to end the crisis quickly, and not his job to serve the best interests of most of the people of this nation. This is one aspect of what “smaller government” means to him and to many in the GOP.

 

It is not just that DT is totally unsuited for the Presidency but that he will use anything, even a pandemic, as a means to serve his own ends, even if those means end up sacrificing the nation.

 

We need to get or stay healthy, and when we can, make calls, write letters, put up signs, do everything we can not only to vote but to get others out to vote in November, and secure mail-in ballots for all. As we can now see, our lives might depend on it.

Using Corona Shock to Sacrifice Democracy

Just imagine hearing someone describe you as expendable, or saying you weren’t worth saving from a disease. And this isn’t “The Lottery,” the short story by Shirley Jackson, about a small but modern village that sacrifices a person each spring to ensure a good harvest. It isn’t the ancient Inca who sacrificed children, or ancient Britain or Sumer. This is the United States, today.

 

This is the Lt. Governor of Texas saying people should go back to work despite the pandemic, and the old people who are more vulnerable and might therefore die from the illness should be glad to sacrifice themselves so the economy can be saved.

 

It includes Larry Kudlow, DT’s chairman of the National Economic Council, saying: “we’re gonna have to make some difficult trade-offs”, i.e. we’re going to have to let some people die so the Stock Market can live.

 

It includes the Governor of Florida, Ron DiSantis, who kept open their beaches so the young could frolic in crowds and later bring the virus to towns and cities throughout the nation. But the old—they could be sacrificed.

 

It includes Republican Tate Reeves, the Governor of MississIippi, who decided to override all town and city stay-at-home orders to send workers back to their jobs, despite increasing numbers of coronavirus victims in neighboring states. And DT has decided that by Easter, all will be well. People must go back to work. His economic numbers must look good.

 

Esquire Magazine has a highly disturbing article about just how far the far right has been taking the meme that some need to be sacrificed. This sacrifice never includes the rich (I think they would sacrifice a Jewish or person of color who was rich) and never includes decreasing the profits of large corporations. One spokesman talked about social isolation as creating a “demonic atmosphere” — maybe they think a commitment to save all lives is Satan’s work.

 

In contrast, Governor Cuomo of New York said it’s not an either-or choice, to protect public health or protect the economy. “My mother is not expendable.” There are choices the President could have made for the last two months and could make now to avert a deeper disaster, but he isn’t doing it. For example, he could use the Defense Procurement Act to get manufacturers to switch to producing more ventilators and other medical supplies. He has signed the order to invoke the act but hasn’t (as of 3/25) used it to get anything produced….

 

To read the whole post, go to The Good Men Project.

Corona Shock: Getting Perspective and Taking Action to Protect Ourselves and Our Nation

Besides keeping ourselves mentally clear and calm and physically healthy, and helping others do the same, we have to stay informed about what DT is doing to further undermine the health, any remnants of democracy and the security and stability of our nation. After three years of shocks to  our personal emotions, our collective mental health and our political and legal system, almost two months of the coronavirus has changed almost every aspect of our society. So many changes that we can barely digest it.

 

DT did not cause the coronavirus. And our health care system was inequitable, too expensive, cumbersome, etc. even before DT. But so much has been revealed about how his lack of judgement, incompetence and greed has made the crisis even worse.

 

Let’s go back to January 13, 2017, 7 days before DT took office. As Politico reports, DT’s aides, future cabinet members, even a future press secretary, were briefed by President Obama’s aides as part of the transition of power, on topics like preparing for a possible pandemic, and securing funding from Congress to improve our health care system, prepare antivirals, masks, etc. Besides the fact of the instability of the DT administration that has led to about two-thirds of those officials no longer being in their position, there is little evidence that DT took any of the briefing to heart. Susan Rice, who was at the meeting said: “Rather than heed the warnings, embrace the planning and preserve the structures and budgets that had been bequeathed to him, the president ignored the risk of a pandemic.”

 

He further set up this crisis with his tax cuts to the rich passed in 2017. This reduced government income and increased the national debt, thus making the nation more vulnerable and  less able to respond to a crisis such as the one we are in now. He proposed to help pay for these huge handouts to the rich by cutting programs that serve and protect the majority of us, including Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

 

DT and the GOP in general have made us all more vulnerable to a pandemic by wasting government time and resources with their attacks on the Affordable Care Act (Obama-Care) and proposing legislation that helps insurance companies more than the insured. If people cannot afford health care, they might not go for treatment when they feel ill, and thus spread the illness to others.

 

DT’s attitude toward public health could at best be called short-sighted and at worst idiotic and cruel. He proposed cuts to the 2020 and 2021 budgets for the CDC. Cuts to the CDC began in 2018 or earlier, when Obama-era health security funding was cut and the agency ran out of money. According to Fortune Magazine, “Overall in 2018, Trump called for $15 billion in reduced health spending that had previously been approved, …cutting the global disease-fighting budgets of the CDC, National Security Council (NSC), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Health and Human Services (HHS) in the process.” He dismantled the entire White House team in charge of global health security that was also created by Obama. Later, he denied knowing about this cut, but video of his talking about the cut shows that is clearly untrue. He proposed Medicaid cuts to nursing facilities for the elderly.

 

In fact, The Atlantic ran an article about how DT’s response to the Coronavirus insured the worst possible outcome. As the New York Times reports, DT has continuously minimized the scale of the coronavirus crisis, treating it as a foreign threat that could be eliminated by building a wall to keep it out. He has contradicted his own public health officials, by talking about going to work when sick, shaking hands with people on his travels (as if the warning by health officials to wash one’s hands was nonsense), and claiming a vaccine will be available soon when it will take a year or more to produce. He has politicized the crisis while blaming the Democrats for doing so, blaming Obama (again), making false statements about how our previous President handled the swine flu epidemic, implementing rules that made testing more difficult (but never happened).

 

DT claimed that the media coverage is part of a political conspiracy to destroy his presidency. He focused more on creating his wall against the “foreign virus” then getting out the test kits that are needed to actually stem this crisis and find out who and how many people actually have the disease.  In fact, the US is clearly far behind other nations in terms of the numbers of those tested.

 

It is good that DT relatively quickly stopped travel to and from China. It is good that this week he is trying to actually, finally, listen to scientists and speak more moderately in his briefings. But some of his proposals to reduce the crisis and help those of us who are sick or have lost jobs or businesses due to the illness, will make things worse. For example, his proposal to cut Medicare and suspend the payroll tax will further hurt those most vulnerable in this crisis. Suspending the payroll tax could undermine SSI while doing nothing to help people who have lost their jobs or businesses due to the virus. If you have no paycheck, a suspension of the tax does nothing for you. It predominantly helps the wealthy. Also, his cuts in the food stamp program and proposed cuts in sick leave will only worsen the situation.

 

And his constant lies, not only about the coronavirus but almost everything, the disinformation campaign propagated by his followers, and his attempts to gag health officials, scientists and others, makes the crisis worse because we can’t trust anything he says.

 

And remember: this crisis began just after DT interfered in the Roger Stone sentencing, fired the former acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire (after he had his aides brief Congress on Russia’s threat to our next election), and replaced him with a DT loyalist. He is clearly trying to turn the intelligence community into an agency to serve his personal political interest, not the nation’s, as he already did at the DOJ. We could go on and on describing his attempts to undermine the rule of law and what’s left of democracy in this nation.

 

We need, once again, to make calls to Congress. We can’t have big protests, due to the virus, only persistent little ones. But we can call and demand investment in health and other infrastructure⎼ we need health care for all, better and free testing, money targeted to assist those most in need, not further entitlements for the rich. A check for a thousand dollars might be nice, helpful for many of us, but will be a bitter pill to swallow by those who lose their food stamps, Medicare, Social Security, hospital bed, or life.

 

 

Here are a few phone numbers of Democratic Senators: NY Dems: Schumer: 202-224-6542 & 212-486-4430, Gillibrand: 202-224-4451. Others: Doug Jones, Al. 202-224-4124; Joe Manchin, W. VA. 202-224-3954; Krysten Sinema, AR: 202-224-4521.

GOP: Lamar Alexander: 202-224-4944, Cory Gardner: 202-224-5941, Mitt Romney: 202-224-5251, Susan Collins: 202-224-2523, Lisa Murkowski: 202-224-6665, Portman: 202-224-3353, Ben Sasse: 202-224-4224, Mike Lee: 202-224-5444.

Dem House: Nancy Pelosi: 202-225-4965

Steny Hoyer: 202-225-4131

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Will Our Response to the Coronavirus Change Our Society? Will the Virus Bring Down This Administration?

So many changes are happening in our nation due to the coronavirus and our response to it that we can barely digest it. And this is on top of the three years of actions taken by DT to undermine the safety of our nation and shock our personal emotions, our collective mental health and our political and legal system. And now, every aspect of our society might be threatened along with the lives of many people.

 

DT is not responsible for the coronavirus. But he is responsible for the incompetence of his response to it and for prioritizing the state of the stock market and his own re-election over any concern for people’s lives.

 

DT set the stage for this crisis with his attitude toward public health, which at best could be called short-sighted, at worst idiotic, cruel, or vengeful (as he pointedly cut programs started by President Obama). He proposed cuts to the 2020 and 2021 budgets for the CDC. Cuts to the CDC began in 2018, when Obama-era health security funding was cut and the agency ran out of money. According to Fortune Magazine, “Overall in 2018, Trump called for $15 billion in reduced health spending that had previously been approved, …cutting the global disease-fighting budgets of the CDC, National Security Council (NSC), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Health and Human Services (HHS) in the process.” He dismantled the entire White House team in charge of global health security, also created by Obama.

 

DT’s choices for running the health agencies are also suspect. For example, his choice of Robert Redfield to chair the CDC was controversial. Redfield had once claimed the best way to stop the AIDS epidemic in Africa was through abstinence and monogamy and he was investigated for pushing an HIV vaccine as a huge breakthrough despite the lack of proof for its efficacy. DT appointed Alex Azar, former head of drug giant Eli Lilly, to head HHS. Azar had a record at Lilly for predatory price increases. It is debatable how someone with this record could be responsible for protecting the American people from such predatory practices.

 

As the New York Times reports, DT has continuously minimized the scale of the coronavirus crisis, treating it as a foreign threat you could build a wall to keep out. He has contradicted his own public health officials, by talking about going to work when sick, shaking hands with people on his travels (as if the warning by health officials to wash one’s hands was nonsense), and claiming a vaccine will be available soon when it will take a year or more to produce. He has politicized the crisis while blaming the Democrats for doing so, claiming that the media coverage is part of a political conspiracy to destroy his presidency. He focused more on creating his wall against the “foreign virus” then getting out the test kits that are needed to actually stem this crisis and find out who and how many people actually have the disease.

 

What will we see next? Some public schools and many colleges and universities are shut down. Concerts, sporting events, any large gatherings are being cancelled. Workers are being asked to work remotely. Many of us are sheltering at home, isolated from each other.  All this is understandable. But at the same time, our economy and quality of life is being undermined.

 

Besides our own and our neighbor’s health, we have to watch out for how DT might use the virus to serve his own interest. He has already isolated the US by banning travel to all of Europe except Britain. And why Britain? There are more cases of the virus in England than many other European countries.

 

What will he ask us to accept next in order to re-open schools, restore large gatherings, sporting and artistic events? Will he try to further hide information or gag officials so Americans can’t learn the truth? Will he try to undermine Social Security or other safety net programs in order to pay for treating people with the virus while protecting tax cuts or the safety net for the wealthy? Will he try to cancel or limit voting and political gatherings or protests or legal procedures? Will he further attack or eliminate voices opposed to, or who run against, him? Or, as The Guardian warns, blame immigrants for the virus?

 

Or will our response to the virus unite us, wake us up to the fact that we are all in this together, so health care will be improved? And an overwhelming majority of us, even some of DT’s supporters, will realize just how much he threatens our health, safety, rights and humanity and vote to remove him from office?

 

Update: DT just (on Friday, March 13) declared a state of emergency  to more adequately face the crisis posed by the coronavirus.  This state of emergency is actually justifiable and necessary, unlike his bogus one over the border wall. I agree with a New York Times opinion piece, which called for the emergency declaration while expressing trepidation about a President who is already assuming powers that he shouldn’t be granted and abusing them. I am hoping for the best, considering the dangers this crisis poses, but also watchful.

 

**Update March 21: DT might be appearing more serious about the crisis on televised appearances. But underneath it all, he is still undermining our nation.  Rolling Stone has an article on how DT’s DOJ has asked Congress for legislation giving judges the right to hold people indefinitely and suspend their constitutional rights during the coronavirus and other possible emergencies. Also, DT proposed a temporary suspension of payroll taxes. This cut in taxes could undermine SSI while doing nothing to help people who have lost their jobs or businesses due to the virus. If you have no paycheck, a suspension of the payroll tax does nothing for you. It predominantly helps the wealthy.

According to the New York Times, the GOP just proposed large corporate tax cuts, billions of dollars in loans to corporations, limits to paid sick leave, and a check of up to possibly $1200 to taxpayers, depending on income.

 

 

Cutting the Jugular Vein of Democracy

Do you feel the news cycle is speeding up or things are getting even worse since the impeachment trial? I thought the world was in trouble ever since DT was elected. But since the Senate abdicated its role in holding the President accountable for his actions, DT’s tweets and actions have spiraled out of control. Or maybe his aim is clearer. He has gone directly toward the jugular vein of democracy and has cut it.

 

Even Bill Barr, his legal fixer, spoke out saying enough is enough. Whether it was real or more likely political theatre, he said that DT’s tweets attacking the justice department, attacking actual judicial proceedings, was making his job impossible and undermine the legal system.

 

The context for Barr’s comments was DT’s direct and obvious intervention in the sentencing of Roger Stone, his “friend” and supporter who knows where so much dirt is buried. DT even attacked the judge and a juror in the case, illustrating what his lawyers, as well as GOP Senators (other than Mitt Romney), proclaimed: DT thinks he can do whatever he wants, thus destroying the concept of a fair trial. As the New York Times, Adam Schiff and others pointed out, if he is the law then there is no rule of law, and the constitutional separation of powers is dead.

 

After Barr warned him to stop his tweets, DT went on to say that he had the power to interfere in the Stone Case, or any case. And Barr’s move to make sure any investigation of the President must go through him, just cements DT’s control over the DOJ and judiciary and destroys the constitutional balance of powers.

 

As Rachel Maddow pointed out, DT is interfering in cases and pardoning criminals in order to make clear: if you violate the law on my behalf, you get a free pass. If you oppose me, as his firing of Ambassador Sondland, and Colonel Vindman and his attacks on Adam Schiff illustrate, you will pay a severe price.

 

And it is not just DT and those close to him who are speeding up their attacks on democracy, but Russia and some corporate media outlets. Last week, as reported by the New York Times, former acting director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire had officials from his agency brief the House Intelligence Committee that Russia was interfering right now in the 2020 election to aid DT’s re-election campaign. This led to DT angrily berating Maguire and replacing him with Richard Grenell, someone with no experience in intelligence but who is a DT loyalist….

 

To read the whole post, please go to The Good Men Project.

 

We Are in the Fight of Our Lives: Reducing Anxiety with Political Action

I was reading Mark Salzman’s novel, The Laughing Sutra, and had an epiphany. Salzman is a martial artist and writer, best known for his memoir Iron and Silk, which was made into a major motion picture.

 

The novel is a comic fantasy-adventure, about the life of a young monk who decides to travel from rural China to the U. S. to recover a Buddhist sutra. His traveling companion is Colonel Sun, a modernized version of a figure from Chinese mythology, the rebellious monkey king and slayer of demons. At one point, Sun tells the monk a traditional story of martial arts strategy. A General named Tso was camped in a walled city with only a few men, waiting for reinforcements. His enemies surrounded the city and prepared a surprise attack. Tso, instead of running, opened wide the doors and sat there, enjoying himself having tea. When his enemies got to the gate, Tso invited them to enter and join him. Instead, fearing a trap, they ran.

 

We, those of us who value democracy, value neighbors caring for neighbors, who value public education, equality under the law, and freedom, are now surrounded by an army led by a General who finds all those values a threat. I have in the past resisted thinking of the situation as a war, with DT and his followers as an opposing army of hate, but I am questioning that resistance. How do we open wide the gates and make them run?

 

My reluctance to use the imagery of a war is partly due to the fact that I grew up in a loving family, in a world of privilege, white and middle class. Yet what is being revealed to me now is a world I didn’t think about before and refused to consider. It is too ugly. And if I think of his followers as enemy soldiers, I might dehumanize them, as they are being taught to do to me. To dehumanize them, I do the same to myself. So how can we win such a war without losing our humanity?

 

DT’s followers have been called a cult, but it is worse than that. His rallies are choreographed rituals designed to stimulate resentment, hate, and violence and to direct that hate so they would do his bidding, attack his enemies, and wipe out anyone or anything that diminishes his control. The rallies are not about saving Christianity, or the right to follow a religion, as much as being religious. They are meant to build not just any army but a religious one, one of unquestioning belief with DT as their savior. Thus, his followers do things like jam phone lines during the impeachment trial and the Iowa caucuses or threaten to shoot Democrats like Adam Schiff. Or they attack immigrants, Jews, Muslims, LGBTQ, or people of color. Or they might try to prevent his constitutional removal from office after a four (or eight) year reign….

 

To read the whole post, go to The Good Men Project.

Say No, Now.

If we don’t say NO, now, it might soon be too late and it might be illegal to say anything. No. DT does not have the power to disobey the law or turn the DOJ into his Department of DeificationThis Wednesday, 2/26, or all week, call Congresspeople, call the Senate, put a sign in your car, go to the streets.

 

Trumpists argue “The President is the Executive Branch and the Commander in Chief. He can do whatever he wants.” But the constitution says he must swear an oath to “preserve, protect and defend the constitution.” His job is not only to “faithfully execute the laws” (Article 2, section 3) but also obey the laws. The power to try cases is the power of the judicial branch and he must not infringe on that power. To infringe on judicial and legislative powers is to violate not “preserve and protect” the law and the constitution. We didn’t convict DT in the Senate impeachment trial, but we must convict him on the streets and with the ballot.

 

Please share this post and talk with your friends and family. Here are a few phone numbers: GOP: Lamar Alexander: 202-224-4944, Cory Gardner: 202-224-5941, Mitt Romney: 202-224-5251, Susan Collins: 202-224-2523, Lisa Murkowski: 202-224-6665, Portman: 202-224-3353, Ben Sasse: 202-224-4224, Mike Lee: 202-224-5444.

DEMS: Doug Jones, Al. 202-224-4124; Joe Manchin, W. VA. 202-224-3954; Krysten Sinema, AR: 202-224-4521. NY Dems: Schumer: 202-224-6542 & 212-486-4430, Gillibrand: 202-224-4451.

DT’s Revival of the American Spirit Is the Revival of Hate and Divisiveness

I’m sorry but I couldn’t watch the whole annual speech to our nation by the President. I did listen to a few news reports and analyses and read parts online, and a PBS fact check.

 

DT talked about the “Great American Comeback” while for three years he has been destroying our future, undermining the protections on our environment and thus the habitability of our world by rolling back regulations protecting our municipal water systems from sewage or protecting our air quality. He undermines our future by attacking the science that should inform environmental regulations and protections on public health.  He has been undermining public education. He undermines our national security not only by sudden and ill-informed reverses of foreign policy, as in Syria and Iran, but by undermining our relations with allies.

 

He further undermines our health not only with the environmental policies but by withholding monies for agencies that protect us from pandemics. He has cut the National Institute of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, the Agency for International Development, and dismantled the entire White House team in charge of global health security.  He has threatened to cut back Medicare, Medicaid, and, of course the Affordable Care Act.

 

He has been undermining our national union by attacking not only people of color, as in Charlottesville, etc, etc, and stimulating the hate that has exploded in attacks on synagogues, LGBTQ & others, and young people in schools, but also by his fluency with lies, which makes him seem to his followers the origin of all accepted truth.

 

I think his revival of the American spirit is really the revival of hate and divisiveness. But of course, maybe I will get criticized for sowing hate because I point out the truth of his hate.

 

Meanwhile, he claims America is doing well economically, there is high employment, and we have the biggest economy in the world. And biggest military. But his “good economy” serves the rich more than Mainstreet. We have one of the biggest debt rates in our modern history, thus making our nation more economically vulnerable in a crisis and making it difficult for us to come up with the needed money to improve our infrastructure and schools. The debt increases the concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands and shifts so much power to the rich that the rest of us will soon be left with little power. And his tax cuts have not only made the debt worse, but he proposes to help pay for these huge handouts to the rich by calling for cuts in the programs that serve and protect the majority of us, not only with the public health protections already mentioned and Medicare and Medicaid, but also Social Security. And meanwhile, half of America is living near the poverty level.

 

He undermines the very system we use to maintain a democracy, by disenfranchising millions of voters, destroying faith in our electoral system by resisting efforts to safeguard our election technology and, as illustrated by his Ukraine scandal, by calling for interference in the election by Russia and China. He undermines the rule of law and our constitution, as shown by his corruption, his impeachment in the House, the Mueller Investigation, his attacks on anyone who opposes him, and his own lawyer basically arguing on the Senate floor that whatever DT does is legal.

 

The House should now call John Bolton and Lev Parnas, and cut off the GOP victory dance. And then expose the GOP agenda of ripping off the American people by discussing health care, protecting Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security.

 

And sometime we need to do something about the lying in the media, the media which  insulates people in information or propaganda cocoons and incites violence. For example, a follower of DT and FOX News threatened to shoot Adam Schiff after his speech on the Senate floor about impeachment. The same person also threatened Mr. Schiff on October 1st, after DT said Schiff should be questioned for fraud and treason. As seen in the movie Vice, which is about Vice President Dick Cheney, once the Fairness Doctrine was ended in 1987, it allowed the media to give up any attempt at balanced and fact-based reporting. And DT continues to threaten Congressman Schiff.

 

And all of us who want to live in a nation of laws, who want influence on the political process, who want to be able to live without a threat of violence due to our gender identity and loves, friends, religion, economic class, or race, who want there to be a habitable world for ourselves and our children⎼ we have to not only vote but get others to vote.

 

Creativity and Our Love for Others Can Save Us

This morning, like almost every morning, underneath the rush to run off to do this or that, or to lie in bed and watch the day begin, there is a yearning to create something beautiful and meaningful. Or maybe it’s a desire to write something exciting, to write myself into a revelation of the depths of life, something utterly true, unseen, new, about life, relationships, myself.

 

Then I hear the news ⎼ lawyers for the President, instead of trying to prove his innocence, they try to justify on the Senate floor the subversion of the constitution and the establishment of one-man rule, and I lose all concern for depth. Fear sucks away the creativity.

 

Or I hear John Bolton say DT directed him to pressure the President of Ukraine to announce an investigation into Joe Biden. Or Lev Parnas revealing the tape he has of the President giving the order to “get rid of” Ambassador Yovanovitch is only one of the many tapes he has. Parnas says everyone, including Mike Pompeo and Vice President Pence, “was in the loop” on DT’s Ukraine scheme.

 

And I get excited. I want this to be heard. I want it to shake the depths of our political system. I imagine the dark cloud of the Presidency will be lifted and this threat to humanity removed. I get caught up in hopes and fears and lose touch with beauty and depth.

 

And I fall asleep again because I didn’t sleep that well and a dream comes to me. I am walking on a beach. Several people are around me. It’s awesome. And in the distance, I see waves heading to the shore. And suddenly I notice a wave, a huge wave, getting bigger and bigger coming towards the beach. I yell to the people in the water and those around me, and start running uphill, away from the beach. And from the other side, the hill gets washed out. The land has become water, water to the right, water to the left…

 

And I wake up.

 

The act of creating, whether it is by writing, painting, dancing, cooking, carpentry, film-making, playing music or whatever gives us a sense of strength and meaning. It is an affirmation.

 

I want to write so I can harness the flood. I want to write so the writing itself is a meditation, a door opening into soul territory. I want to write so I remember there’s more to life than anger, regret, and fear. That the possibility to act and affect the world exists.

 

So when we come home from work or school or after hearing the news, after the fact check, we can write to our local newspaper or on social media, speak out, paint a sign to hold aloft in a demonstration.

 

And we can look closely at those we love, listen to them, as if how we relate to them were also an act of creation. As if the sincerity and depth of our caring would somehow strike some politician with sanity.

 

Even fear and nightmares can be the siblings of the urge to create and to live deeply, meaningfully ⎼ and in a nation that listens to and respects our rights and viewpoint. And of our care for and relationships with others. If we didn’t care, we wouldn’t fear.

 

And it is this yearning to create and this love that we have for others that can save us. We have to keep this yearning and care in mind and let it inspire us to also take care of ourselves, as we speak out, keep informed, make political action part of our loving, and hug our friends and family deeply.

 

 

This blog was syndicated by The Good Men Project.

 

DT is Trying to Turn Main Street America into A Second-Class Nation

When I turn on the radio or tv to hear the Senate Impeachment Trial of the President, it is difficult to get beyond my fear, disgust or outrage. But when I do, what has become clear to me is that despite great gains on Wall Street, and the US having the largest economy and military in the world, DT is turning Main Street America into a second-class nation. What do I mean by that?

 

I am using the term “second class” differently than “second, third or fourth world nation.” By second class I mean a nation where:

  • The political system has been or is becoming unstable or inept, too corrupt to function to protect the interests of the majority of citizens, with the power centralized in the hands of one person or group.
  • The national debt is so high as to be destabilizing or potentially so.
  • The rule of money overpowers the rule of law.
  • Investment in the infrastructure is too small to prevent it from crumbling.
  • Public education is undermined or non-existent.
  • Good health care is too expensive.
  • Increasing violence, especially due to poverty, gender, race and religion.
  • Overwhelming wealth divide and concentration in relatively few hands.
  • Where the nation has been or is becoming more and more isolated from other nations.
  • Protection of the environment is severely neglected.

By this definition, the US is now or is becoming a second-class nation in each of these categories.  In terms of the political system being inept, or too corrupt, we need to start at the Impeachment trial. DT is on trial right now for abuse of power or trying to corruptly interfere in the 2020 election, as well as obstruction of Congress.

 

Although the House did not go so far as to call DT’s actions illegal, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) did. They said he violated the Impoundment Control Act by illegally withholding Congressionally approved funds. And he did it in order to extort Ukraine to do his bidding.

 

The number of corrupt acts committed by this president is almost uncountable. This is particularly important now, as DT claims he withheld aid to Ukraine for 55 days due to concern with their corruption. However, he doesn’t care about stopping corruption in the US, so it is not believable that he cares about it in Ukraine. For example, he sought to get rid of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Newsweek reported in October that he had 2500 conflicts of interest between his job as president and his business holdings. He also attacked and fired the former Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, for trying to fight corruption in Ukraine.

 

And at the heart of impeachment is DT’s attempt to get Ukraine to announce an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, who might just run against DT for President. Also Biden had pressured Ukraine to investigate corruption more thoroughly (not less, as Giuliani claimed) and remove a corrupt prosecutor named Victor Shokin, who DT had described as “that very good prosecutor”.

 

An article in GQ states that DT corrupted the American Presidency in every conceivable way, “turning the highest office in the land into one crooked cesspool.” “Throughout his tenure in the White House, DT has leveraged the powers of his office… to enrich himself at every opportunity” from profiting greatly from the GOP and foreign leaders staying at his hotels, charging the Secret Service and the American taxpayers for golf carts and for his own vacations or for advertising for his properties, etc., etc.. According to New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, he used his own charity in a “shocking pattern of illegality,” including using it to buy a portrait of himself.

 

He has interfered in court cases, and undermined the rule of law, in the Mueller Investigation, and of course, in his threat to Adam Schiff last weekend, and in his Impeachment.

 

We can also see DT’s attitude in the statements of his defense attorneys. On Saturday, attorney Mike Purpura tried to argue that the President did nothing wrong. According to CNN & other fact-checking organizations, Purpura is at best deceptive, if not lying. He says there was no pressure on Ukrainian President Zelensky, a fact supposedly supported by Zelensky himself. This ignores the fact that without DT’s support, Ukraine would fall to Russia in a short time. If Zelensky acknowledged the pressure exerted by the U. S. President, his nation would die.

 

Purpura said Ukraine did not know the aid was even withheld. However, evidence shows some Ukrainian officials knew about the holdup by the day of the July 25th phone call.

 

There are even more ridiculous claims: as outlined by the CNN fact-check, one of DT’s other lawyers, Pat Cippolone, said that the President was “locked out” from participating in the House hearings. The House made a formal offer to have the President’s attorney present, but Cippolone himself wrote the letter rejecting any participation. And GOP Congresspeople participated both in the closed door and public hearings.

 

Another of the President’s attorneys, Jay Sekulow, repeated the claim debunked by our own intelligence services that it was the Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 election, and that they did so for Hillary Clinton’s interest. And Rudy Giuliani, a fourth lawyer for DT, traveled in Ukraine and other places to spread the disinformation. Compelling evidence was released in November that all this disinformation was part of Russia’s effort to frame Ukraine for the interference.

 

And what is the supposed evidence for Ukraine interfering in the election that the GOP is citing? Ukrainian officials liked Hillary Clinton and made insulting comments about DT. If this is evidence that Ukraine interfered in the election, then is the fact that 52% of the American public voted against DT evidence that half of the American public interfered in the election?

 

The disinformation campaign by Russia sought to spread lies that Ukraine was responsible for the hack of the DNC. DT and his lawyers also claimed Hillary’s campaign was directed by Ukrainian oligarchs and her server was in the Ukraine. There is no evidence for any of these claims. They are so ridiculous I can’t believe that members of DT’s legal team are still speaking lines written as Russian propaganda.

 

All this shows not only that the corruption of this administration is beyond anything ever seen before in this country, but the utter contempt DT and his party have for democracy, the truth, and the rule of law.

 

As far as the other criteria of a second-class nation:

 

The tax cut passed by the GOP in 2017 created a looming deficit in government income, causing the debt to double from 2015 to 2019.  Newsweek reported that over the last three years of DT, the debt increased by $3 trillion; the US Debt Clock has the debt at over $23 trillion. The tax cut served large corporations and the wealthy and scores of Republican lawmakers, not the middle class (whose gains, if any, were small and temporary).  To pay off the debt, the U. S. now pays more than $1 billion each day on interest payments and the amount paid per day will continue to rise.

 

Based on data by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the deficits over the next 30 years will rise to “unprecedented levels.” This will deprive the nation of funds needed for infrastructure, public education, health care and social programs. It will reduce economic opportunities for individuals and make it more difficult to get money to finance homes, college education, cars, and anything else. The CBO estimates that if we reduced the debt to the historical average level, the income per person would rise on average as much as $5,500. This is one measure of what DT’s tax cut is costing most of us.

 

The high levels of debt also reduce the government’s ability to respond to any future crises, which puts our nation in a potentially threatening situation.  Who benefits from this?

 

I could go on and on, about how DT:

 

DT is not making America great but undermining our security and future. He needs to be impeached before he becomes a dictator⎼ and over a second-class nation.

 

 

This post was syndicated by The Good Men Project.