The International Strike to Save Our Planet: A Time to Act

Many have wondered what it would take for the general American public to go on strike. We have seen countless examples over the last two, almost three, years of this president violate the humanity of children and immigrants, lie, sacrifice our national security, act in support of misogynist judges (or ones who have credibly been accused of sexual assault) and White House employees who have done the same, support white nationalists and demonize minorities, fail to act to prevent massive incidents of gun violence even against school children—although this last did lead to huge demonstrations ⎼ and act in ways to undermine the constitution and rule of law. And now, tomorrow, an existential threat to the environment might lead to a strike of school children and hopefully thousands, maybe millions of people.

 

Why don’t we act? Are we too wrapped up in our social and work lives, or working too hard to put aside the time, or just feeling hopeless or overwhelmed? Or, regarding the climate, the warming of the planet, the weird weather, the changes in the environment, changes that happen so slowly that we don’t notice it until weird weather becomes hurricanes, floods, droughts, tornados and fires? Or is it that some of us can read and digest the science while others believe the lies by T, his GOP sycophants and some corporations that there is no scientific consensus on global warming, and we imagine what we see before our eyes is just bad weather or bad luck?

 

Americans increasingly understand the threat posed by Global Warming. A poll by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation  reveals that 8 in 10 people understand that human activity is fueling climate change and about half state that action is needed immediately.

 

Tomorrow, thanks mostly to young people like Greta Thunberg, a 16 year old Swedish student and activist, the Global Climate Strike will begin. There will be strikes throughout the US and other nations. New York City will excuse students absent for the strike. And it won’t be just children, but adults, indigenous groups, workers, seniors, etc. Everyone who can, should. Everyone who can’t strike can make phone calls to politicians and CEOs, send in photos of signs proclaiming your view on protecting our earth, write letters to the editor, sign petitions, etc.

 

Actions will continue next week. On Monday, 9/23, the UN will hold a Climate Action Summit, to ramp up efforts to curb greenhouse gases set out in the 2015 Paris climate agreement, which Mr. T opposes. A second strike will be held on September 27th.

 

Tomorrow’s our chance to energize the nation to what we must do to save our planet ⎼ and democracy. To find events in your neighborhood, go to the GlobalClimateStrike website.

Who Are You?

Who are you, Mr., Miss or Mrs. T supporter? How can those of us who detest your leader understand you? And, in terms of the next election, how much effort should we spend in trying to talk with you about the problems that face us all?

 

Are you someone who has lost not only your job but your trade or profession, or afraid of your job and your respect being lost? Or of losing your home, social security, schools for you or your children? Are you someone who thinks this country is controlled by elites, by billionaires, who want to replace you with people from other countries?

 

Billionaire CEOs have certainly been sending businesses overseas or replacing people with machines. And a few billionaires have more wealth than all of you non-millionaire (or billionaire) T supporters combined. But this distrust of billionaires is something you share with the liberals you say you distrust or hate. Liberals are, in this regard, your natural allies. And if you truly distrust “elites” and billionaires, why did you support giving them even more power and money in the form of huge tax cuts that you are paying for? Why support a system that pays CEOs 287 times more than their workers?

 

If you distrust billionaires and the elite, why do you support T, who claims to be a billionaire and who bows to certain elites? Did you buy his line that, since he is so rich, he couldn’t be bought? Or that, because he was a successful businessman, he could run this country like a successful business?

 

No President has been bought off as much as T has, or so blatantly treated the office of the President as a business venture to earn profits not for you or for this nation, but for himself. Every time he takes a vacation at one of his golf resorts or stays at his own hotel, you the taxpayer directly pays him. Many foreign politicians also pay him. You have to wonder how much our foreign policy is motivated by personal profit for him. And look at how he runs his businesses. He certainly does not do so to benefit his workers or the customers he supposedly serves, as in the example of Trump University. He runs the country as if you werehisservants who he could use and discard without proper compensation whenever he wished. Many have characterized T’s style of running the business of the US government as a criminal enterprise.

 

You might reply, “But Democrats are the same, or worse, and at least T does it openly.” Sure, there are immoral or unethical Democrats. But this is a tired old line. No Democrat comes close to T. The only politicians in recent US history who exceed or come close in terms of criminality, hiring billionaires to their cabinet and committing criminal acts are Republicans, like Reagan, Nixon, and Bush II. …

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

We Need to Believe Our Eyes and Ears: We Have A Manchurian President

The Manchurian Candidate is a classic movie from 1962 in which Russian Communists initiate a plot to use a brainwashed American soldier as a sleeper agent to kill the candidate for American President. Evidence would be revealed to show the Russians were responsible. The Vice-Presidential candidate, someone controlled by the Russians, would then succeed him and be able to assume dictatorial powers to safeguard the nation.

 

In the reality we face today, there is no brainwashed sleeper agent (I think), no Presidential candidate that is killed. However, as the Mueller Report made clear, a Democratic candidate and our electoral process was attacked and undermined by Russian agents to sow discord and put into office a man who now serves their interests. Many of the facts about T acting in Russia’s interest against our own have been in the news repeatedly. But it is so devastating a picture it is hard to accept. We have a Manchurian administration.

 

Just imagine what the Russian government would want from an American President. They could not defeat us militarily, so they would have to attack us from the inside. They would not just want to end our sanctions on their government but would try to destroy our democracy and turn us into an ally or puppet state.

 

They would do this by dividing our nation so much that we would be in a near civil war. They would instill fear of violence in our gathering places and schools. They would create fear in one group of all others, so this group would feel under attack and they would strike out, de-stabilizing the social fabric of the nation. And they would undermine efforts to prioritize combating domestic terrorism.

 

They would undermine the rule of law.

 

They would suppress the vote, undermining our democratic election process in fact as well as our faith in that process, and create so much chaos and confusion, fear and anxiety, that the American people would eventually want to turn to a dictator just to get some peace.

 

They would undermine our democracy further by having the President talk about not leaving office after a second term or claim violence would ensue if he lost an election or was removed from office. He’d spread lies of a cabal working against him from the inside, manipulating the election, so we wouldn’t recognize the Russian manipulators and their agents. They would begin this process by not acting to secure our own electoral integrity from Russian and other hackers. And they would get their supporters in Congress to obstruct bills requiring that contacts between politicians and foreign agents be reported to the FBI.

 

They would undermine the economy through chaotic trade policies, take away economic power from the middle class and direct it to a small group who would work with Russians for their own gain. They would act with a lack of fiscal responsibility, including running up a massive debt so the government would not be able to flexibly meet a recession or other crisis. They would politicize the Federal Reserve Board so it serves as a functionary of the T family.

 

They would undermine the free press, install propaganda networks to control information, accuse protestors of being a violent threat to law and order and thus make protest illegal.

 

They would spread so many lies they would undermine the possibility of discerning truth from fiction so Americans would not believe that what was happening was really happening.

 

They would attack anyone who opposed them, calling them treasonous, in order to create the impression traitors were patriots, and establish a de-facto dictatorship.

 

They would undermine our standing in the world, undermine the idea of democracy itself, and undermine our traditional alliances so we were isolated and distrusted. They would sing the praises of dictators, in Russia and North Korea, for example, and ally us with the same.

 

If you look at our nation today, everything above is exactly what has been happening since T was elected.

 

A Review of A Few of the Details:

 

On February 27, Michael Cohen said: “Given my experience working for Mr. Trump I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 that there will never be a peaceful transition of power…” Cohen’s revelations of Trump as possibly threatening the government, the constitution and rule of law with violence, affirms what many have suspected ever since T was elected, but it is frightening to see our fears stated so bluntly by someone who knows Trump so well.

 

Cohen is not the first to speak of this threat. Roger Stone warned America in 2017 of “insurrection” if Trump is impeached. Politico reported that Stone said, “Try to impeach him. Just try it. You will have a spasm of violence in this country, an insurrection like you’ve never seen.”

 

As the Mueller Report makes clear, the President clearly asked for and accepted Russian aid in the 2016 election. He also, once in office, cut sanctions on Russia, for example, on Oleg Deripaska, a close associate of Putin. In Helsinki, while standing next to Vladimir Putin, T sided with Putin against our own intelligence community,, claiming the Russian dictator spoke strongly in denial of the claim Russia interfered in the 2016 election. The President tore up the notes of his discussions with Putin.

 

According to Admiral Rogers, the head of the U. S. Cyber Command, Trump failed to even ask NSA how to protect our election system from hackers. The New York Times reported that Kirstjen Nielsen, before resigning as head of the Department of Homeland Security, became increasingly concerned about Russian activity in the US. But she was told by White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney not to bring this up with Mr. T. As a consequence, she never met with the different cabinet secretaries to coordinate a strategy to protect our elections, nor did she inform Americans of the latest version of Russian attacks on our nation.

 

And “Moscow Mitch” has blocked any bills aimed at protecting our elections from coming to a vote in the Senate. FBI director Christopher Wray announced he shifted resources to counter the Russian threat, largely without any White House support.

 

Instead of going after the Russians who attacked us, the Mueller Report reveals T tried to get the Department of Justice to prosecute political rivals in the U. S., most notably Hillary Clinton ⎼ to avenge or protect himself, not the nation.

 

The Mueller Report documents10 times T may have obstructed justice. According to page 6 of the document, Flynn “informed the government of multiple instances, both before and after his guilty plea, where either he or his attorneys received communications from persons connected to the Administration or Congress that could have affected both his willingness to cooperate and the completeness of that cooperation. The defendant even provided a voice recording of one such communication.”

 

Mr. T has driven wedges between the US and our allies and has lowered the standing of the US in international affairs. He has failed to adequately staff and support the state department and other non-military agencies meant to protect our national security. He has also granted security clearances to people with compromised histories despite being warned of the danger these clearances could pose to our security. All of this has made us more vulnerable to attack.

 

We could go on and on with T’s criminal behavior, and behavior that threatens our democratic institutions and our humanity. T has clearly used hate to divide our nation to a disturbing degree. A Pew Poll shows that we are more divided now than in the early 1990s, maybe more divided than any time since the Civil War. He has attacked Hispanic people, African-Americans, Muslims, LGBTQ, and women, especially powerful women, like journalists or members of Congress.

 

The wealthiest among us are now so rich that 3 individuals own more wealth than half of the population. And the GOP tax cut is only making income inequality worse. T promised the 2017 tax cut would pay for itself, create a surging economy, increase wages, repatriate money hidden in foreign countries, decrease middle class taxes, but little of that has proven true. In fact, it has reduced federal income to a degree that it might threaten our economic stability and security.

 

So, if the President isn’t a Manchurian President or consciously working as an agent of Russia, he is certainly weakening our democracy and our nation. We know this, or most of us do, but we can’t let our anxiety or anger get in the way of doing all we can to sweep him out of office, by the ballot box or by criminal proceedings.

 

This post was syndicated by The Good Men Project.

 

Money, Hate and Fear: When Too Much Goes to Too Few

Yesterday, 20 people were killed, 26 injured, in El Paso, Texas, previously one of the safest cities in the U. S.. In Dayton, Ohio ⎼ nine dead. The previous Saturday, in Gilroy, California, 3 dead. According to the New York Times, there have been 32 different incidents of mass shootings this year. According to the Gun Violence Archive, in the last 216 days, 251 people were killed in incidents of mass shootings.

 

And who are the people doing this killing? In most cases, at least the ones with hate as a motive, it is white men. According to the Mother Jones archive, of the last 22 mass shootings, 21 were by men, 13 were definably white. According to the New York Times, the El Paso murderer considered Hispanic immigrants a threat to whites. He joins a long line of white nationalist murderers, from El Paso, to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Christchurch, New Zealand, Munich, Germany, and Norway.

 

But who is responsible for fueling this hate? One obvious answer, in the US, is the President who speaks with hate and incites it. He called immigrants and asylum seekers at our border an invasion, of rapists and criminals, and just recently attacked an American city as a “disgusting, rat infested, mess” and attacked the African-American Democratic Congressman from that city.  According to an analysis by the Washington Post, in 2016 the counties in the US that held T rallies experienced a 226% increase in hate crimes compared to counties that held no such rally.

 

According to the manifesto of the shooter in El Paso, Texas, he was not originally inspired by the President’s rhetoric; but since his language mirrors the President’s, he was emboldened by it. According to the Intercept and other sources, so was the MAGABomber, and the Neo Nazis murderer of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia, etc. Many Democrats, including Beto O’Rourke and Bernie Sanders, have laid some blame clearly on the President. 2016 was the only year on record before 2019 with more domestic mass shooting deaths than days and 2019 is on track to eclipse 2016 by far.

 

The other fuel for hate is greed and money. The people who have been killed are the victims not only of hate being used to gain political power, but of too much money in politics. The Citizens United Supreme Court decision of 2010 allowed corporations and unions to spend freely on elections, and reinforced the fiction of corporate personhood. It released corporations and the super-rich from most restrictions on the buying of politicians. It said that corporations, like people, have the right of free speech. And making political contributions was a form of protected speech, not to be restricted.

 

Combine this with the increasing concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands and you have a Congress incapable of governing and of enacting laws to protect our nation. America’s wealthiest 20 people own more wealth than the bottom half the population, own more than 152,000,000 people combined. This great wealth gives a few people the means to out speak thousands, even millions, of voters.

 

Hate and money are fueling what Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg called a “national security emergency.” Another Presidential candidate, Elizabeth Warren, spoke about gun manufacturers owning Washington. But it is not just the NRA and gun manufacturers whose unfettered lust for great profits contributes to hundreds of American lives lost each year. The concentration of wealth and the power it bestows on a few people is killing us and undermining any chance of democracy.

 

And then there’s climate change, also exacerbated by the ignorance of consequences caused by the lust for profit and leading not only to the loss of thousands of lives and billions of dollars in economic losses, but an existential threat to human civilization.

 

In order to save our nation (and world), end the violence and the social disintegration it can cause, and create an economy and political system “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” we must begin by demanding that our politicians work to control gun violence and limit the power of money in politics. Then we can begin to work on hate and more systemic changes.

 

When so much goes to so few the rest feel ⎼ and are ⎼ excluded, whether we understand what is happening or not. Democrats will only win when they speak to these realities, and the fears and outrage they cause, in a way most can understand. They must counter the fear with hope grounded in a sincere concern and understanding of others and the threats we face. This is how they, or we, win the next election and expel hate from office.

 

This post has been syndicated by the Good Men Project.

Listen for the Earth Breathing: How About A Moment of Calm and Clarity?

In these times of great fear and anger over the inhumanity and chaos in our political system, we need to find some sort of calm and clarity inside ourselves or we’d want to turn away from the news or go nuts. If we don’t find some sort of clarity, how could we have any idea of what political or social actions to take? How could we help anyone else in need if we can’t help ourselves? So one thing I do is meditate, and treat myself and others as kindly as I can. If I can do nothing else, at least I can do that.

 

Close your eyes, take a comfortable breath, and simply listen. Many of us do this too infrequently. We don’t give ourselves a break to listen deeply to other people, to our own inner voice, or to the earth breathing. So give yourself a break. Give yourself this one moment. And listen for the earth breathing. Can you hear it?

 

Maybe it’s summer and a cool wind breathes in and out, cooling the day. Sometimes, it is a deep breath. Sometimes it’s very shallow. Sometimes, you can’t hear or feel it and you wonder if the earth is alive at all.

 

Then you hear bird calls, especially in the morning and at dusk. And bees and maybe other flying creatures…..

 

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

The Fruits of Our Actions: Transforming Self and World

Wouldn’t it be nice if people who seem awful to us got their “just” rewards? If bullies and thieves were stopped and punished and we got to see the punishment? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if narcissistic rulers who ripped off their nation and committed acts of inhumanity were taken from the White House to the jail house? Oh, if only. But it’s obvious that it doesn’t always work that way, at least not in our personal timeline ⎼ except maybe in the section of our imagination reserved for wishes and dreams. …..

 

A Meditation on Taking Action

 

And when the rage and the fear and the tears about the state of the world breaks through, or when the despair threatens to overcome us, when we feel isolated (because fear is isolating), or want to run to a different universe, then we need to take a breath and step back from the emotion. Instead of hiding it away, we can notice it. Make it something to observe and learn from. Such fear is not a message to run away but to open up.

 

Close your eyes and notice how you are breathing. If you feel powerless, it is not a message about giving up but that you need to act. If you feel lacking in courage or you can’t imagine what to do, then imagine someone you know or have read about or wish to know who acted with courage. Someone compassionate and driven to act, or someone informed who knew and did what needed to be done. Maybe someone creative who thought of something no one else thought of.

 

Who was this person? Imagine her or him. Imagine what she looks like. What was it this person did? What do you think she felt when she did it? Or felt before she did it? Imagine the fear or self-doubt he might have felt? How did he act despite the fear? Imagine her feeling fear yet acting anyway.

 

How is this person just like you? Is her fear any different from yours?

 

Imagine him feeling he had to act. What have you done in your life that was helpful to someone else or creative?

 

You and this person are not so different. You both feel fear. You both breathe in and out. You both notice what is happening.

 

So now let come to mind some situation you want to change, and you feel needs addressing. Let come to mind something you can do. And imagine doing it. Where do you start? Who can you talk to about it? Who would share your concern?

 

And what do you need to know? Where could you find that information? And what would the change look like?

 

What would it feel like to have taken these actions?

 

Take a breath in and out. How do you feel now?

 

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

What Would We Do? ⎼ Celebrating the 4th by Fighting for Democracy

After listening to the news about a consultant for the T campaign creating a fake Joe Biden website in order to deceive people about who Joe Biden is, I realized T is borrowing from what Russia did in our 2016 election to once again undermine the electoral process. He is adopting techniques used by Russia to undermine the last presidential election in order to undermine the next one. And I asked myself: what would I do if I truly believed what my intellect was telling me about T and his supporters?

 

What would I do if I truly digested the fact that the President of the US joked with the Premier of Russia about eliminating journalists, and joked with Putin about interfering in our elections, not long after the GOP blocked bills in Congress to prevent campaigns from working with foreign governments to undermine our own?

 

Meanwhile, T called the New York Times treasonous for attacking him, just like, in Congress, he thought it treasonous that Democrats did not applaud his comments in his State of the Union Speech in 2018. And instead of a 4thof July to unite us, he divides us further by hijacking the government’s Washington, D. C. celebration and uses it to inflate his name and raise money for his campaign.

 

What if I truly allowed myself to feel my response to T inciting violence against journalists or against anyone who disagrees with him?

 

What would I do if I truly allowed myself to feel what it meant that he praised the Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un? That he said, in regard to the North Korean Dictator,  “it was an honor that you asked me to step over that line…I was proud” to be with such a brutal dictator responsible for not only the torture of an American citizen but of his own people.

 

What would I do if I truly let myself feel the pain and inhumanity of his border policy and treatment of young children? T calls asylum seekers fleeing gang violence in their own countries illegals. Meanwhile, he or his policies violate both US and international laws regarding asylum seekers, violate the law and court orders regarding the treatment of children. He is being investigated for violating so many laws ⎼ regarding emoluments, campaign finance, etc., obstructing justice⎼ it is laughable that he even utters the word ‘law.’

 

What would I do if I truly felt how T and the GOP are attacking women, refusing to renew the violence against women act and trying to deny women the right to control their own body.

 

What would I do if I let myself truly feel how the GOP are eliminating the chance to vote for thousands or millions of people and even, in some states like Florida, creating a poll tax?

 

What would I do if I let myself truly feel how T and his supporters are giving so much of the wealth of this nation to just a few thousand people, in a nation where 3 individuals own more wealth than the bottom half of the population?

 

What would I do if I truly felt how T and his supporters are attacking education, attacking scientific research, attacking protections on our food supply, attacking our future and making it more and more difficult for the U. S. to respond to emergency situations or to global warming or even to economic competition with other nations?

 

T has done so many inhumane, unjust,  bigoted, hurtful things, lied so much, ignored so much, that it is impossible to keep track of it all. My head spins, my heart hurts. Can I use this pain and confusion to teach myself how to go beyond my comfort zone, how to act with more strength?

 

I keep thinking: What if everyone who reads this piece talked with their friends, pledged to vote in the next election, worked for a candidate, worked to get out the vote, to speak the truth at a town hall of a GOP candidate, gave money to those fighting for civil or immigrant’s rights, and made 5 calls a week about one injustice or another ⎼ and shared this blog?

 

Let’s do away with T anxiety and sleep disorder and replace it with the excitement of defeating hate and recognizing the humanity of everyone we meet.

 

I think we all have to ask this question: what will we do? What political, social, compassionate or creative actions will we take if we truly allow ourselves to feel how T is robbing a great majority of us of our rights, freedoms, justice, and a sustainable environment? What will we do?

 

And then ⎼ we do it.

 

This post was syndicated by The Good Men Project

 

 

How Did This Happen? Whose Interests Are Served by the Divisiveness in the U. S. Today?

How did politics in the US get so bad? Why is there such divisiveness? Why are Democrats seemingly so ineffectual and the GOP so ready to support whatever T does, even when he puts Russia before US interests, and dictatorship before Democracy? Why does the GOP walk so much in lockstep, ready to stomp on the humanity, rights, health care and income of so many in the middle and lower classes?

 

Pew Poll shows that we are more divided now than in the early 1990s. Despite living through Joe McCarthy and the struggles of the fifties, the great turmoil, assassinations and political changes of the 1960s, and then Nixon and Reagan, our political situation today feels worse than anything I experienced before, largely because the future of democracy has not been so threatened before by our own President.

 

And the lock stepping of the GOP is not just an example of politicians afraid of their base or afraid of losing their position, as many in the centrist media portray it. The base of the GOP itself is something relatively new in US politics, even though it has been developing for years. Since Reagan, the GOP has become increasingly intransigent and devoted to only one small group of people—the white super-rich. T is also something relatively new, but he a poison in a garden that was already laid waste by politicians unable and unwilling to halt the pressure by specific members of the super-rich to undermine any restraints on their power.

 

One book I’ve been reading to help me gain some clarity is Billionaire Democracy: The Hijacking of the American Political System by economist George Tyler. This is an important book to read. It talks not only about how democracy has been hijacked, but how to take it back. In 1980, according to Tyler, the richest 0.1% contributed less than 10% of all campaign contributions. By 2012, their share increased to 44%. In 2016, it increased to about 66% of contributions to Congressional candidates.

 

Along with this trend in political contributions is a trend many have noted in wealth controlled by the top 1%. In the 1920s, before the depression, the top 1% owned 44.2% of the wealth. During the depression, and even more, during the war, the taxes on the rich were raised to 94% for top earners, and the percentage of wealth owned by the rich by 1945 was down to 29.8%. By 1979, the percentage owned by the 1% was down to only 20%. Thanks to Reagan, the percentage of wealth owned by the super-rich went up. By 2013, the top 1% owned 36.7% of US wealth. The top 20% of the US population in terms of wealth owned 89%, leaving only 11% for the remaining 80% of people. In 2017, the top 1% owned 42.8%. It has been increasing by 6% annually since the mid-2000s. (See my chart on the last page.) And the GOP tax cut is only making income inequality worse.

 

According to more recent data, a study by researchers at the Federal Reserve showed that in 2018 the richest 10% of householders in the U. S. owned 70% of the wealth. These increases were mirrored by decreases for those households in the 50-90thpercentiles of the wealth distribution.

 

America’s wealthiest 20 people own more wealth than the bottom half the population, own more than 152,000,000 people combined. And among the Forbes 444, only 2 are African-American….

 

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

 

**This is an update of an earlier piece that appeared on this website.

When Someone Tries to Shut You Up, Look into What They’re Hiding: When Monitoring Unlawful Behavior is Spying, and Exposing Treason is Called Treason

On May 13, Attorney General William Barr announced he was beginning an investigation into the origins of the Russia probe. He appointed John Durham, a federal prosecutor in Connecticut to handle the investigation. Barr, in his testimony to Congress, used the word “spying” to describe a counterintelligence investigation into the contacts between Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to T, and Russians. Are actions to monitor Russian contacts with political operatives of the President now to be called “spying” by this administration? And attempts to stop such invasive actions and protect our electoral process and constitution to be called “treason”? In March, T did just that and accused the FBI and Democrats of treason.

 

This is Newspeak, where monitoring unlawful behavior is spying and exposing treason is treason.

 

Barr’s move was in response to continued pressure from the President, pressure that looks like more obstruction of justice. The counterintelligence operation into Carter Page’s behavior was actually begun during the 2016 election (October 21, 2016) after being approved by a FISA court consisting not of Democrats but of four Republican appointed judges. And the investigation was continued by the Trump appointed DOJ.

 

In 2017, this pressure by T led to GOP Congressman Devin Nunes releasing a redacted version of the highly classified FISA warrant, something rarely, if ever, done. Nunes’ had falsely claimed that the warrant was based on the Steele Dossier. However, the FBI’s interest in Page predated their knowledge of the Dossier. Page was being monitored because he was associated with two actual Russian spies who were trying to recruit him.

 

In other words, the President ordered the DOJ (and a GOP Congressman) to do his bidding and attack those he perceived as his enemies and the Attorney General (and Congressman) complied with his wishes.

 

This wasn’t the only time T tried to get the DOJ to act as his personal attack squad to shut down or shut up anything or anyone who gets in his way. Remember that he tried to pressure former Attorney General Sessions to investigate Hillary Clinton, for example, and tried to pressure former FBI Director James Comey to shut down the FBI investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

 

Barr, as many have pointed out, has thus been acting as the attorney for the President, not the Attorney General of the United States. Barr told the American public the President was exonerated from any charge of obstructing justice when, in fact, the Mueller Report clearly stated T was not exonerated. Barr said the President did not conspire with Russia to attack the 2016 election despite the fact the Mueller Report detailed clear attempts by the President, or his campaign and advisers, to meet with Russians to release information to undermine Hillary Clinton’s campaign, establish back channel avenues of communication, and hide economic ties to Russia. His campaign manager, Paul Manafort, gave the Russians essential polling data that might have helped them in their social media attacks.

 

T also asked the DOJ to investigate the investigators who worked for Mueller on the Russia probe. In the past, he also told Nancy Pelosi to “be careful.” I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future he tries to pressure Barr to start an investigation into her or other Democrats.

 

Trump has gone after Congresswoman Ilham Omar on Twitter several times. He posted a video on Twitter that visually linked the Congresswoman to the 9/11 arracks. Since that video, the threats on the Congresswoman have greatly increased.

 

Previously sealed documents included in the Mueller Report were released last week that paint a clear picture of how T acts towards those who thwart him. The documents show that after Trump’s National Security Adviser Mike Flynn decided to plead guilty and cooperate with Mueller, T’s lawyers appear to have threatened Flynn and also dangle a pardon.

 

This action attempted to obstruct justice by interfering in the Russia probe. According to page 6 of the document, Flynn “informed the government of multiple instances, both before and after his guilty plea, where either he or his attorneys received communications from persons connected to the Administration or Congress that could have affected both his willingness to cooperate and the completeness of that cooperation. The defendant even provided a voice recording of one such communication.”

 

As Rachel Maddow pointed out, the actions of T, as recorded in the documents, sound more like a leader of a criminal enterprise threatening people than a US President. Is this history of threatening people one of the reasons the GOP in Congress obey T so consistently?

 

In response to an article on T that someone posted on FB, I urged people not only to share articles and express their fear and anger but to call Congress and take other actions. A man wrote in reply that if he called, it would do nothing. I replied, “Of course not. One call can do nothing.” Two calls, maybe a little. Ten thousand calls? Several each week? How about calls from the 53% of the population of this country who have opposed T since before November 2016? He has never had the support of even half, never a majority of this country. What would a million calls, a hundred million calls do?

 

How about if people, besides making phone calls, also took other actions? Imagine people wearing signs saying, “No more” or “Bring down the would-be dictator.” How about people on street corners, in their cars, or outside the offices of GOP Senators carrying signs saying, “No more attacks on children.” “No more attacks on the press.” “No more gun violence.” “No more destroying our schools.” “No more destroying our environment.” “No more normalizing hate in the White House.” Let’s normalize love. Normalize compassion instead.

 

Whatever actions, big and small, we can do, let’s do them. The object isn’t that one phone call or one protest bring down a would-be dictator and hate machine. It is that our collective voice and actions speak for and model an entirely different language than what we hear spoken in the White House today. It is that we learn how to speak a language of freedom, compassion and democratic action by acting in ways that advance democracy. And then, maybe slowly but exponentially, that language will become the new language of this nation and the speakers of hate will be de-throned.

 

*Update: Things have been getting even worse. Last night, Thursday, the President gave the Attorney General enormous powers, including releasing classified information. He ordered the intelligence community to cooperate with Barr’s investigation into the counterintelligence operation which led to the Mueller Probe. The purpose, this seems, is to keep T safe from Congressional investigations into him.

 

**This post was syndicated by The Good Men Project.

 

Saving Democracy by Living It: A Democratic Nation Needs A Democratic and Public Education System

How do we save our democracy? Or, how do we create a truly democratic nation? We are learning, now, that too many people in the U. S. either never understood or never cared about democracy. Or they had become complacent and hopefully now realize what they might lose. So, how do we change the state of our government?

 

A democracy is a government of, by, and for the people ⎼all the people. The power rests in the citizens, who exercise that power according to laws and principles set out in a constitution that all know and have access to. Each person must be valued, and each person’s viewpoint heard.

 

To do that, the government needs to foster a sense of community. Caring relationships and a sense of shared humanity must be at the core of the process by which decisions are made. How we live our lives schools us in how to participate, with everyone around us, in the work of running a government together.

 

We need to make political action a normal part of our daily lives.

 

Without this depth of understanding, it is too easy to give up on democracy when it becomes difficult. It is too easy to sacrifice participating in the rewarding but complex process of making decisions with others in exchange for letting someone else do it for us. It is too easy to get so focused on what we think is the only answer that we forget everyone else can also think their answer is the only one. Compromise becomes impossible. Those who differ from us become enemies.

 

It is also important to study history, to understand what happens to the rights and well-being of citizens under other forms of government, like Fascism or Dictatorship, and what happens when a democracy is destroyed.

 

For all these reasons, a democratic nation needs a democratic and public education system. Our schools need to model the quality of relationships we want in society in general. Democracy and forming caring relationships must be at the core of the school curriculum and of how a school functions.

 

A Democratic and Public Education

 

This understanding is at the heart of a book by Dr. Dave Lehman, A Principal’s Notebook: Lessons for Today from a Pioneering Public School. His book describes the educational structure of the Lehman Alternative Community School (LACS) in Ithaca, New York (a school that he founded ⎼ and where I taught for 27 years). It provides a pedagogy of democratic schooling and of relationships—students with peers, students with staff, staff with colleagues, and everyone with the material being taught and the world we live in.

 

Democracy can’t be taught just through research and reasoning, certainly not by testing the memorization of data. It requires experience and practice. It has to be lived.

 

In order to realistically learn how to relate in a caring, cooperative, and educational manner—and make decisions democratically—children need a structure that prioritizes and develops healthy, caring relationships. Especially in today’s world, marred by increasing hatred and divisiveness in our government and anxiety in our children, where young people often spend more time with digital media than they do with breathing beings, this fact has never been clearer.

 

As Dr. Dave describes in his book, at LACS “everyone has a voice, and a vote, from the newest sixth grader to the oldest high schooler, from the most recently hired teaching assistant to the most experienced teacher and the Principal.” Most decisions concerning everyone at the school are made democratically, either by a weekly all-school meeting, or weekly staff meeting. Staff makes most decisions consensually.

 

To help the school function, there are committees that meet twice a week. The committees maintain the school building and recycle. They plan and run meetings, mediate disputes, support LGBTQ and students of color, develop an overview of where the school is in terms of its goals and where it would like to go, to plant and care for trees and flowers, etc.

 

And everyone has their own family group at the school to support them, consisting of one or usually two staff and about 14 students. In this way, a real community is created. Students learn the need to take responsibility for their surroundings and to speak up for what they think is right, while respecting another people’s right to do the same.

 

Courses are sometimes formed at the recommendation of students, or they are structured to meet the interests, needs and questions raised by students. Students choose their courses instead of having all their classes mandated for them. They are assessed not primarily by standardized tests but through projects and demonstrations of skill that they have a part in designing.

 

The school is far from perfect. But it seriously tries to provide a supportive situation so each student, teacher, and administrator can do their best and find themselves in their work.

 

LACS is only one of several democratic public schools in our nation today. In fact, in New York a statewide group, the DemocracyReady NY Coalition, was launched just last February to “secure the right of all New York students to a quality P-12 education that prepares them for civic participation.”

 

A democratic government needs a citizenry that can not only research and think critically about issues and candidates but values caring relationships. It requires not only democracy in schools but of schools, so there is a quality public education open to everyone.

 

We pay an exorbitant price when the central importance of relationships and taking responsibility for one’s learning is lost. Not only the quality of education suffers, but also the community of our nation suffers. The Lehman Alternative Community School and other democratic schools throughout the nation (and world) provide not only a guide and model for developing good schools but for developing a healthy and democratic nation.

 

Of course, democratizing schools is a longer-term strategy. In the short term, we need to vote or impeach T out of office or we the people might lose the chance to democratize anything.

 

**This post has been syndicated by The Good Men Project.