End the Shocks and Remove the Presidency of Hate: Hopefully, an Administration of Justice, Rationality and Democracy is Coming

I am almost disappointed in the impeachment. Almost. Although there is great hope⎼ ten GOP did vote to impeach DT and President-elect Joe Biden will (hopefully) be inaugurated next week. But DT is still in office, and 197 Republicans, all but 4 of the rest of the GOP in the House, voted against impeachment.

 

Despite being attacked by a mob intent on violence and vengeance against fellow Congress members, and intent on stopping the operation of the Congress to which they belonged, many GOP remained silent or even tried to deny or cover-up DT’s role in the violence.

 

Some claimed impeachment would make matters worse, totally ignoring the deleterious effect of the continued lies about stealing an election and the incitements to further violence by DT and other members of their own party.  A few, like Rep Matt Gaetz of Florida, tried to equate the Black Lives Matter protests and the Capitol assault, equate protests over the murder of African-Americans with a deadly attack on the government of the U. S.. The lies and racism supported by these GOP was an assault in itself.

 

Washington Post Columnist Greg Sargent wrote that the GOP claims that impeachment would further divide us is part of an attempt to obscure their guilt, and blame the violence not on the people, like DT, who fueled and directed it, but to a generalized divisiveness. It’s not a generalized anything, but one side, DT’s side, declaring civil war against everyone and anyone who opposes his efforts to steal power for himself.

 

Such statements by the GOP during the impeachment debate followed a week of lies, distortions, and blatant efforts to cover-up DT’s culpability. It began by trying to claim, crazy as it sounds now, that it was members of a non-existent group of Anti-fascists who assaulted the capitol dressed as DT’s supporters. It continued with the Department of Defense creating an official timeline for the public that expurgated all of the actions and incitements by the President and other GOP.

 

The January 6th Assault on the Capitol was the latest in a long line of deliberate shocks administered by the DT administration. The Assault on the Capitol⎼ it sounds like a movie title. From the beginning of his run for office until now, DT has done everything he could to attack democracy, the rule of law, our humanity, our trust in others, our lives, and our hope for the future.

 

He started back in 2015 with racist attacks on President Obama, falsely claiming that if he had lost the 2016 election, it was due to Democrats committing voter fraud, while simultaneously calling for Russia to interfere in the election. He continued to ignore or lie about the threat of COVID while thousands died daily. He made a phone call on 1/02 to threaten a public official into manufacturing votes for him, and later urged on an actual assault on the Capitol building and the Congresspeople meeting in that building.

 

This wasn’t the first time he called for violence. Last year, for example, his comments contributed to attacks on the Michigan statehouse and an attempted kidnapping of the Governor. And he continues to cite malignant, irresponsible falsehoods, deny that he badly lost an election, deny that the only large-scale fraud was committed by him, deny any culpability in violence. According to the Washington Post and other news media, intelligence agencies, Governors, at this moment Right-wing and White Nationalist groups are planning ongoing attacks and a possible disruption of the inauguration all based on the alternate reality DT created for his followers to preserve his power.

 

Is he deliberately trying to use the Shock Doctrine, using “the public’s disorientation following massive collective shocks” to force his way on the American public? Or is he simply shouting, tweeting who he is and spreading his diseased mind?

 

In an article called “What the Science of Addiction Tells Us About Trump,” the author, James Kimmel Jr. describes how the brain of someone who carries a long-term grievance or who desires revenge is like the brain of someone locked into an addiction. Harboring a grievance, defined as a perceived wrong or injustice, real or imagined, activates the same neural circuitry as taking a narcotic.

 

And this revenge addiction can be easily spread. In the case of DT, we have a politics of grievance meant to manipulate feelings of hurt and humiliation into an addiction to hate and a blindness towards the truth, just like a heroin addict might not see the reality of what the drug is doing to them. Kimmel says DT primes our brains for revenge. He is addicted to being aggrieved and blaming others.

 

Racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, and other forms of hate are not only attempting to hold onto power but are also addictions that undermine or destroy community. They make everyone feel threatened, not only those the hate is aimed at, but those who allow it and those who hold to it.

 

I don’t know if DT is deliberately applying increasing shocks to the citizens of this country (or the world) or it is just his malignant, addicted and demented sense of self-importance, but for the health and well-being of all of us, he must be removed from office and his agenda of hate ended. The assaults, and the lies and crimes that incited it, must be investigated and prosecuted not for revenge but to discourage further violence and place justice and the rights and well-being of “we the people” first.

 

We need an inauguration of hope. We need to do all we can to pressure more of the GOP to speak honestly about the election (and COVID), put democracy first, and treat the new Biden Administration as people⎼ if not as partners, then at least not as enemies. We need to pressure 17 GOP Senators to join with Democrats, to remember their oaths, and complete the impeachment.  To protect our voting system and prevent future DT’s. To protect us from the virus, rescue the economy from the super-rich, end institutional racism, and create a more democratic nation.

 

This post was syndicated by the Good Men Project.

 

Are We Now Living In A War Zone? How Can A Poet Help Us?

Any conversation I have now with good friends is shadowed by, or turns directly and painfully, to politics. Even responding to a polite “How are you?” can require great creativity, to somehow be genuine but not devolve into tears or rage. “Considering the state of the world, I am fine,” is one of my usual responses.

 

In one discussion, a good friend said our country is now more and more a nation at war. Another said we’re a nation ruled by an incompetent, oppressive, and wannabee dictator.

 

DT is clearly turning our nation if not into a war zone then into a zone of lawlessness. He says he is the only candidate who can protect America, but whatever lawlessness is happening now is already during his watch, and he is certainly provoking the violence and is one of the nation’s biggest lawbreakers.

 

For example, he sends Federal officers, in violation of the constitution, without identification, to create havoc in cities with Democratic Mayors, who are hosting protests against racial violence and injustice. And when white militias show up In Kenosha, Wisconsin, and police allow a militiaman with a gun to shoot and kill 2 people, DT barely mentions the murdered victims in his GOP Convention speech, likes a tweet supporting the murderer, and his supporters blame the protestors.

 

As Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland, Oregon said on Sunday (8/30): “It’s you [DT] who have created the hate and division. It’s you who have not found a way to say the names of two Black people killed by police officers… And it’s you who claimed that White Supremacists are good people.”

 

He dares to call himself “the law and order President.” Talk about the Big Lie. No President has been sued like DT. He has been impeached by the House, committed more corrupt acts, has had more members of his administration indicted, has undermined not only laws but the rule of law and the constitution itself⎼ and he calls himself the law and order President? He’s the father of disorder, the violator of law and the violator of the constitution.

 

He lies so blatantly and caustically that many words and concepts have become haunted with his venom. Think of ‘media’, ‘immigrant’, ‘fraud’, ‘election’, ‘liberal’, ‘socialist’, ‘mask’, let alone terms like ‘Post Office’, ‘fake news’, ‘health care’, ‘pre-existing conditions’, ‘Social Security’, ‘first responders’, and ‘essential workers’. Although there are some words and terms that have taken on more clarity, that wake us up, like ‘vote’ and ‘Black Lives Matter’.

 

Our mouths, minds and hearts have been mined with emotional time bombs, traumas, which is just what DT wants. …

 

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

Stealing Our Ability to Speak: The Threat to Humanity

We the people need a new pandemic relief bill. We need it now. Yet instead of meaningfully and honestly trying to get resources to those who need it, or resolve differences between legislative proposals, DT threatens and then takes executive actions most of which help no one but himself. His actions are doublespeak, attempts to steal the words, talking points, battle cries from those seriously attempting to help us, the American people. With words made meaningless, we can cry and shout but not speak.

 

For example, DT says he wants to get more money to American workers by enacting a payroll tax cut or deferral for September to December, by an Executive Order. But this action is merely a delay until after the election, to garner votes that he’s losing badly, and does nothing to help those who have no income. And since the President does not have the authority to nullify the laws dictating the collection of the taxes, businesses and corporations must collect the tax money anyway. This puts them in a possibly corrupting situation: What do they do with the money? Do they hoard it? Turn it into a corporate slush fund? They probably can’t give it back to workers, because they might be responsible for it in the future. The result: workers get nothing.

 

Another example is extending unemployment, which sounds like a reasonable thing to do until we see the details. His order calls for $400 per week to aid unemployed workers, instead of the previous $600 in the lapsed CARES Act and the plan proposed by Democrats, or the $200 in the GOP plan. Why DT didn’t push more for a compromise in negotiations with Congress is the question.

 

Look at the reality of what DT did. The executive order forces the states, instead of the Federal government, to cover one-quarter of the unemployment payment, while states are already in a dire economic situation and need their own relief package. And since DT does not have the legal authority to enact legislation, he must take money from already approved funds. In this case, he plans to take money set aside to help people and municipalities who suffer from tornadoes, hurricanes, massive fires and such, as if we haven’t been suffering from any natural disasters for the last few years. How will we help those victimized by hurricanes or wildfires if the funds are gone?

 

Another example is the supposed extension of the moratorium on evictions. His executive order does not ban evictions, nor does it provide money to help renters. Instead of this executive order or the lies and half measures which just keep the pandemic alive, the best remedy would be to protect the income and jobs of workers and to enhance unemployment insurance while closing the economy down for 4 – 6 weeks and putting an end to the pandemic, as a top Federal Reserve official recommended. Instead, DT’s order asks Alex Azar, secretary for Health and Human Services, and Robert Redfield, of the CDC, merely to consider if an eviction ban is needed. Meanwhile, 40 million people could face evictions, and create the most intense housing crisis in our history.

 

DT wants to put on a mask as a savior (but not one to protect people from the virus) while he sacrifices Seniors, as he has already said he would sacrifice brown and black workers, children, etc. The payroll tax funds Social Security and Medicare, two crucial and popular programs that help millions. DT and his GOP backers have for years been trying to destroy or privatize any government programs that help people live more decent lives, even ones that the beneficiaries actually pay for, unless those programs generate profits for the already over-wealthy. And as he made clear when he signed the Executive Orders on Saturday, if elected he will make the cuts to fund Social Security and Medicare permanent.

 

We need times of respite and calm. They are necessary for our physical, mental and emotional health and also to push ourselves to take clearly considered political action. But there are no sidelines anymore. DT’s response to the Coronavirus, to Black Lives Matter protests, to polls showing how likely it is he will lose the next election, and almost everything else he’s done since elected makes it clear⎼ he is willing to take everything from us, even our lives.  All those seemingly safe places for us to retreat to, our homes if they’re paid for, an apartment if we have enough money saved, won’t help us for long if we don’t find our voices, our hands and feet, and find ways to act now.

 

In my experience, we can make 4 calls in 5 minutes to GOP Senators. Writing letters or making calls to get out the vote, joining street protests in our home towns or cities, in Washington, D. C. or at Congressional offices, takes more time. But combined with the efforts of thousands of other people, in the government and out, is what provides the only safety we have.

 

**For more details on the Executive Orders and what led to them, read this piece by Heather Cox Richardson.

 

This article was syndicated by The Good Men Project.

Enough Is Enough: To Vote in November, Act Now!

On Juneteenth, the holiday celebrating the arrival of the news of emancipation from slavery, rallies were held throughout the U. S.. It was the Friday before the weekend of the Trump rally in Tulsa, at the end of the fourth week of protests over the murder of George Floyd, and a week where 23 states had upward trends in new coronavirus infections (and states like Florida had seen record increases of over 3,000 new cases per day for 4 straight days), when DT took another shot at ending the separation of powers in the U. S. government. And he did it while trying to hide it behind a whirlwind weekend.

 

He fired Geoffrey Berman, the U. S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. This is one of the most powerful independent legal offices in the nation and one that is investigating DT’s associates including his present personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and previously investigated his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen. But the fight is not over.

 

He first attempted to do this on Friday, Juneteenth. He had Attorney General Barr falsely announce Mr. Berman had resigned, and that he would install his own candidate, Jay Clayton, the Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman and a friend of his, to the office. But Berman issued his own statement. He denied he had resigned and stated he refused to do so. The President then had to officially step in on Saturday, the 20th. The result of Berman’s defiance and the negotiations which followed was that Barr and DT could not immediately install Clayton to the post, and had to allow Audrey Strauss, Berman’s deputy, to temporarily assume the office and thus continue current investigations⎼ at least until the Senate could approve a permanent successor.

 

This will not be easy for DT to accomplish, as even his supporter, Senator Lindsey Graham, has said that he would not allow the Clayton nomination to move forward without the approval of the 2 Senators from New York, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, who have called on Clayton to drop out of contention for the office.

 

This follows months of DT firing 5 Inspector Generals and pardoning corrupt officials. He has threatened to formally adjourn congress and subvert the constitution.

 

In May, Eric Lutz, in an article in Vanity Fair, speculated that DT might be trying to set the stage to cancel the November election. In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, DT threatened to withhold federal funding from Michigan and Nevada, “lying that the states—each of which is governed by a Democrat — are allowing illegal voting.” He attacked the state of Nevada, “baselessly accusing it of attempting to ‘cheat in elections’.”

 

He claimed voting is an “honor” not a right guaranteed by the constitution and he and his adherents in the Republican party are doing all they can to disenfranchise voters, especially voters of color.

 

The protests in the streets calling for justice for the murder of George Floyd and other African Americans by police are one of the few forces protecting the last remnants of democracy in our nation right now. The protests have spread not only throughout the country but the world. Not only do the protests proclaim Black Lives Matter but the civil rights protections in the constitution matter and must be enforced. Our voices matter. They show politicians and other people with institutional power that the power of the people once released will not be silenced. Enough is enough.

 

And DT is clearly afraid of the protests, as well as polls showing him trailing Joe Biden by a considerable margin. In February, as COVID-19 was just striking the US, before he even became the recognized Democratic candidate, Biden was leading DT by 4.8 points. In June, Biden went ahead by 8 points or more. A June 17 poll by Reuters/Ipsos showed Biden ahead by 13 points. In swing states, Biden is gaining considerably, putting into play states that used to be Red.

 

Even the Tulsa rally this weekend, which DT said would be filled to capacity and was supposed to lift his spirits and campaign, failed to do so. He had to cancel planned outdoor events because the audience for it did not exist. Even inside the arena, a good portion of the seats were empty. The Tulsa Fire Department estimated there were under 6,200 people in the 19,000 capacity arena.

 

Trump blamed the limited attendance on the media and the interference of protestors outside the arena. But the numbers of in-person protestors was relatively small. If anyone had a hand in the smaller numbers, besides DT himself and his declining approval ratings, it was young people. TikTok users and K-pop fans said they registered for potentially hundreds of thousands of free tickets, and then posted they couldn’t go.

 

DT is losing in many areas. Whether he actually tries to cancel or delay the election, pull a surprise coronavirus vaccine out of the air to distract voters from his malignant, corrupt, negligent and racist response to the pandemic, or declare some other kind of “emergency,” it is clear this election is and will continue to be different from any other⎼ more fraught with election interference from Russia or elsewhere, more voters threatened or subject to long lines and other obstructions. We will have to prepare to protect polling places or to go to the streets to protect the election results.

 

And to do that, we must act now. No matter our race, we benefit from joining the Black Lives Matter protests and calling for justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others. Right now we must call Congress and demand an investigation into the firing of Geoffrey Berman, universal mail-in ballots, more voting places, extended voting hours. Right now, we must call to protect the USPS. We have the coronavirus pandemic, the hundreds of years old pandemic of racism, and we have DT. All 3 are interconnected and the time to fight them is now.

 

*This post was syndicated by the Good Men Project.

 

A New Vision of Education?

Is the Democratic Party changing its orientation and recognizing its mistakes in education and other policies? According to Jeff Bryant, in a blog for the Education Opportunity Network, a new “populist wing” of the Democratic Party is beginning to gather momentum. If you can, read the blog. In the early 1990s, the Clinton administration helped shift party philosophy and policies to be more “centrist,” more driven by the interests of Wall Street and less by the welfare of organized labor and other members of the “working” versus managing class. However, lately the centrist policies have been exposed as disastrous. More and more people are becoming aware of how standardized testing, rating teachers based on those tests and giving public money to privately owned Charter Schools has undermined public education instead of improving it. Recently, Hillary Clinton spoke out against tying teacher evaluations to standardized tests. The candidacy of Bernie Sanders along with, I think, the opt-out movement against standardized testing, the Black Lives Matter and the earlier Occupy Wall Street movements are also partly responsible for this shift in philosophy. These populist democrats recognize that how you assess students (and teachers) shapes what is taught and how it is taught. That you can’t end inequity by threatening teachers working in disadvantaged schools and neighborhoods to do better, not without improving the overall economic situation of the people in those neighborhoods. You have to commit the resources to actually improve the economic situation. And you can’t improve education by thinking of students as products and education as a profit-making industry.

 

The struggle in the party is a struggle throughout the nation and the world, to develop a deeper vision of humanity, one with heart. It is a struggle between those who see students as future employees and as resources instead of feeling beings living their lives; who see education as a way to make money and “add value” to students as if they, we, didn’t have value otherwise. Children are not in school to learn to meet the needs of employers. They are people with desires and dreams, with social, emotional, as well as intellectual needs of their own. The struggle over the overwhelming power of money to influence policy reaches way beyond electing politicians, and any party that calls itself Democratic must confront this power.

 

What happens when students are treated as products, resources or economic entities? For one thing, I think they leave school with a sense that the core of who they are, of their humanity, has been suppressed or ignored, and remains unknown and untapped. They might feel a sense of isolation, emotional pain and anger. They may have little idea of what it means to be a citizen and neighbor. Do we want people to graduate from high school with a good understanding of computer skills, of STEM subjects, but little understanding of their personal needs, emotional nature and how to relate with compassion to others? Uncovering and understanding their own nature and their needs and dreams is thus a necessary part of education. It cannot be eliminated from schools because testing and “limited resources” leave no time for such “non-essentials.” When you think about education, you need to think about what kind of people you want for neighbors and friends, as well as who you’d want as a co-worker or political leader. With the state of the world today, we need good engineers, technicians, and doctors but we also need well-rounded, clear thinking people who understand how interdependent we all are and have the ability and commitment to grapple with the complexity of being human.

 

*The photo is of a mural created by LACS students of teachers as super-heroes.