The Consequences of Trump

To all people of color, to Latinos and African Americans, to the refugees fleeing war and persecution, to immigrants from around the world,

To Muslims and Jews, to those of the Baha’i faith, to Hindus and others unnamed,

To all women. To our wives, our daughters, our sisters and our mothers,

To the disabled, the elderly, the poor and disadvantaged,

To the ongoing and future victims of human rights violations and justice denied,

To Earth and those many future generations who will suffer profoundly as avoidable climate change unfolds and permanently overheats our planet.  To the millions of species lost,

I am sorry.  We failed.

Michael Simms: Why I’m With Her

Great piece by Michael Simms, he says it all. And democracy is not a once-every-four-years endeavor; we can work with Bernie and Hillary and Obama to see a more progressive future for our country. If we don’t step it up and drive our future, others will.

Vox Populi

As a supporter of Bernie Sanders, I was disappointed when he lost the Democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton. Bernie asked his supporters to help elect Clinton, so out of respect for him, I stepped up as a volunteer in the Hillary campaign even though I wasn’t excited about her. She seemed too much of an insider, an establishment figure, a resume builder, a functionary rather than a visionary. In recent months, however, as I’ve knocked on doors and called people during their dinner hour (sorry, folks!), watched her debate, and learned more about her history of public service, I’ve become convinced that her character and experience make her the most qualified candidate for the presidency in my lifetime. In her support for Civil Rights, Families, Economic Justice, and the Environment, both in her past actions in public office and in her stated positions as a presidential candidate, Hillary has shown…

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Women, Please Rescue America

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American women, I beseech you.  Many men in high places have made a giant mess of things, for decades. Today, the US political and judicial systems are crashing.  And the most basic measures of decency and dignity for women, and by easy extension, American society, are under attack.

Congress, controlled by Republicans and mostly men, is defunct.  This male-dominated Republican congress flatly refused to work with President Obama for eight years, and promises to do the same if Hillary Clinton is elected.  Congress is broken.

America’s courts are failing. This Republican congress has refused for several years to confirm any federal judges nominated by President Obama, leaving a record of 59 vacant judge positions in America’s courts.  This has created 36 judicial emergencies, with nearly 20,000 unheard court cases, many of them backlogged for years and with no resolution in sight. This is a record. The Republicans have refused to even consider President Obama’s nomination to the US Supreme Court, which is unprecedented, and they promise to boycott all nominations by Clinton if she is elected president, leaving the supreme court with only eight justices – evenly divided. Some Republican scholars are even advocating the end of the supreme court as an American institution.

Most importantly, this male-dominated Republican congress refuses to reject and disavow the debased, depraved, and even criminal sexual acts committed by Donald Trump.  This is a fundamental assault on the value and dignity of females as human beings, as people. Trump epitomizes the worst behavior in the male psyche: the domination, denigration, and sexual abuse of women.  Our jails are full of sexual predators, and Mr. Trump, by his own admissions, is in league with them. It is beyond the pale and utterly unacceptable that Mr. Trump is the Republican nominee for president, and it is flatly unacceptable that all Republican senators and representatives have not disavowed and rejected his candidacy.

This Republican party, for years and now epitomized by Donald Trump, has made it the norm to degrade and dehumanize one half of our society, and not just women, but teenagers and young girls as well.  Any female, regardless of age, is under attack.  We criticize Muslim nations for their abuse and degradation of women, yet Donald Trump and those who refuse to reject him, legitimize profoundly sexist and sociopathic attitudes.

America is suffering.  Our government, severely divided, is broken. Our legal system is failing. And our society, our social fabric, is under assault when we allow the denigration and dehumanization of our sisters, our mothers, our wives, and our daughters. Don’t misunderstand; this is not about family honor, not about devalued property. Women are equal members of our society in all regards, and their blatant denigration cannot be tolerated.  Enough.  Women, this nation truly needs your vote.  Your dignity and your conscience may be all that stand between us and a misogynistic and fascist abyss.

Trump’s War on Women: Republican Silence is Complicity

It is, without any doubt, a disgrace that Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for president. Among many other reasons, no nominee in America’s history has shown so much blatant contempt for women and minorities.  The released audio/video and numerous other incidents reveal a profoundly narcissistic and debased man who takes joy in using his position of power to commit sexual assault, to objectify and degrade women, and to attack and intimidate those who resist. Through words and actions spanning decades, he has proven that he sees women primarily as objects to serve at his pleasure. Trump’s defense that his comments in the video were “locker room talk” is insulting. Such comments are debased, but perhaps remotely excusable for an immature teenager trying to impress his friends.  Trump was 59 years old at the time.

If Trump’s primary business is that of real estate developer, why would he be interested in owning beauty pageants?  From 1996 until last year, Trump owned the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants, and according to various reports by contestants, he made a habit of invading dressing rooms while female contestants were changing clothes. At a Miss Teen USA pageant,  Donald Trump barged in on naked and half-dressed contestants, some as young as 15. Tasha Dixon, Miss Arizona in 2001, told CBS 2 Los Angeles that Trump walked into the Miss USA pageant dressing room.  “Our first introduction to him was when we were at the dress rehearsal and half-naked changing into our bikinis,” Dixon said. “He just came strolling right in. There was no second to put a robe on or any sort of clothing or anything. Some girls were topless. Other girls were naked.”

The Trump campaign has denied these reports, but Trump himself confirmed them. In a 2006 interview with Howard Stern, Trump bragged about invading pageant dressing rooms: “I’ll tell you the funniest is that I’ll go backstage before a show and everyone’s getting dressed. No men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in, because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it. … ‘Is everyone OK?’ You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. ‘Is everybody OK?’ And you see these incredible-looking women, and so I sort of get away with things like that.”

Are these the words and actions of an American president?

As of this writing, my count shows that 16 Republican senators and 22 representatives have stated that they will not vote for Trump, and that many will vote for Hillary Clinton. Some have called for Trump to quit his campaign.  This is unprecedented in American history and reveals the disgust these Republicans hold for Trump’s candidacy. But that leaves 38 Republican senators and a stunning 224 Republican representatives who apparently have no problems with Trump’s behavior and still support him. Incredibly, many are still vocal supporters.  Following the video of Trump’s bragging about sexual assault, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama stated that Trump’s grabbing women by the genitals is not assault (even though the law is emphatic).  However, in a statement released the next day, Sessions agreed (perhaps after a conversation with his wife) that such contact is assault. However, this criminal behavior is apparently not enough for Sessions to drop his support for Donald Trump.

Throughout Trump’s campaign and his attacks on women we have barely heard a word from those 262 Republican representatives and senators in Congress who claim to represent the men and women of Texas, Arizona, Alabama, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

To you quiet-as-a-mouse Republicans representing these states, are we to conclude by your silence that you endorse Trump’s debased behavior?  Do you believe that such disgraceful, even criminal behavior is what our president should model to our own children? Do our mothers, wives, and daughters deserve to be so thoroughly disgraced in this way, or will you defend the  values you claim to hold?  Note that standing up against Trump’s misogyny after he ends his campaign, if that should happen, will be too late – you took the coward’s way out.  You were silent when it mattered most.

Ultimately, what is “conservatism” if it embraces behaviors that reduce half of the population, all females, to the status of disposable sex objects?  You silent Republican politicians, are you willing to assault the dignity of all women, simply in order to “win”?

A political party that supports Donald Trump, and a nation that elects such a man, is telling its women that they will be treated only as sex objects, to be used and discarded by men, and that this is okay.  Well, it isn’t okay. Donald Trump’s perverted, disgraceful morality cannot be legitimized as the new “normal.”  The nation’s conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats, must come together and take a stand. Those who support Trump’s disgrace, openly or with their silent complicity, must be removed from office.

Nukes: The Best Toys for a Child Who Can’t be Satisfied

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I just returned from a trip to Italy to visit family and friends, and the topic of Donald Trump came up frequently. Many Italians are seriously frightened over what’s going on in this US election cycle. So am I.

Trump, unfortunately for himself and now all of us, is a mentally-afflicted man-child. Mental health professionals argue over what conditions create such a immature narcissist. Many say that childhood neglect and ensuing attachment disorders create such imbalanced and unhappy people. Far above all else, Trump is absolutely consumed with himself, with his image, and with his attainment of status and wealth. Trump has no policy-political recommendations because he’s never been interested in politics. Ergo, he clearly has absolutely no knowledge on this subject, no knowledge of domestic policies or foreign affairs, and seemingly no knowledge of how the American government actually works. He seems to think that as President and King Trump, he will waive his short-fingered hands, issue edicts, and problems will flee. All enemies will instantly become his allies. His claimed contributions to charities are not well-substantiated and usually come with strings attached. He has shown no interest in humanitarian efforts. His claimed business acumen isn’t supported by the facts – yet another Trump casino is closing and he has filed an astonishing six (6) business bankruptcies. Trump demanded that others release their tax returns, yet refuses to release his. The IRS is auditing him for possible evasion. His claims of great wealth, more than 10 billion dollars in net worth, are not supported by objective analysis of his debt-free holdings, and are apparently likely a third or less than his claim. His incredible sensitivity to his frequent claims of “vicious attacks” reflect the fragile self-image of a child who must be constantly reassured that he isn’t a “loser”, no, he is a winner with a really huge fingers, a third trophy wife, and daughters so beautiful that even he would date them if he could. This man with absolutely no past experience, education, or knowledge relevant to the job, this man who lies constantly about others and his own credentials, this xenophobic narcissist, bigot, and misogynist wants badly to be president because the badge is so shiny, and gosh, wouldn’t nukes make great toys? According to Joe Scarborough, Trump has repeatedly asked his foreign policy advisors why the US can’t use its nukes. God help us. Seriously. God help us and the world if this man-child is elected.

John Samuel Tieman: A Few Brief Words

Slowly the nation awakens to a problem with homicidally racist cops. Apparently it has to come to this.

Vox Populi

To My Friends In The N. R. A.
And Folks Reading This Essay In Starbucks

As I write, there’s more news about the shooting in Dallas. Which blends into the news of the shooting in Orlando. Which blurs into the news of the shooting from – where? The shooting at that church? The shooting at the mall?

There is a tragic sameness to it all. There’s a mass shooting. Then there’s outrage. Folks call for gun control. The N. R. A. blocks all consideration of all measures. Congress gives in, as do state and local politicians. Then there’s a mass shooting …

Can this cycle end? The simple answer is, “Yes.”

The National Rifle Association is by no means a monolith. It does give significant donations to key legislators. But the real political genius of the N. R. A. lies in its strategy, a strategy both simple and effective. Intransigence…

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The UK’s Chilcot Inquiry: Illegal War, No Accountability

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Only July 6 2016, the UK government is due to release its long-awaited Chilcot Inquiry, a seven-year investigation into the British government’s decision to, along with the US, invade Iraq. In July of 2009, the British government’s Labor Party was suffering a steep decline in popularity, primarily due to then Prime Minister Tony Blair’s 2003 decision to join the US in invading Iraq.  Among other motivations, launching the inquiry, managed by Sir John Chilcot, was an effort to shore up that slide in the party’s popularity. The report was to take only a year, but apparently it has been difficult for the UK government to come to terms with its disastrous involvement. Numerous British authors have attacked Mr. Blair, and by extension, the American government for failing to understand the risks of toppling Saddam Hussein, namely a bloody revolution, massive loss of life, regional upheaval, and as the British journalist Peter Oborne argues it in his new book, Not the Chilcot Report, the creation of ISIS.

So what will the Chilcot Inquiry finally have to say? An inquiry with any integrity will invariably be damning.  The American obsession to invade Iraq materialized well before 9-11.  The Project for a New American Century (PNAC), an influential and fanatically conservative American think tank, was already sending letters to President Clinton in 1998 demanding the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime by force, and suggesting that a military invasion of Iraq could only be justified if the US suffered a major attack “similar to Pearl Harbor”.  PNAC’s publicly stated view of the world was one dominated by American military supremacy, where the US would maintain a “benevolent global hegemony.” I’m guessing that PNAC didn’t request opinions from the rest of the world.

Two years after PNAC sent those memos, Bill Clinton was gone, and members of PNAC and signatories to those letters now occupied the White House and its administration.  PNAC members included Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Elliot Abrams, Paul Wolfowitz, Scooter Libby, Richard Perl, John Bolton, William Kristol, James Woolsey, Jeb Bush, and Richard Armitage, and amazingly, America’s “second Pearl Harbor”, 9/11, materialized shortly after they came to power.

A trove of documents obtained under the US Freedom of Information Act and available at George Washington University’s National Security Archives reveal that President Bush began making plans to invade Iraq from day one of his administration, well before 9/11. The 9/11 attack offered a very convenient pretext, and may help to explain why, before the attack, the Bush Administration ignored intelligence reports in Presidential Daily Briefings that an attack of great magnitude, using airplanes against buildings, was in the works.

After 9/11, the Bush administration claimed repeatedly that al Qaeda had been directed and supported by Saddam Hussein, that Hussein had developed a stockpile of WMDs including chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, and that a nuclear attack on New York City was near certain if the US didn’t invade. However the only such “weapons” found after the invasion were the few remnants of a dismantled program from the late 1980s that Iraq developed to launch chemical weapons attacks on Iranian troops.  Those weapons included mustard gas and sarin, and were the result of a program the Reagan Administration knowingly enabled when they agreed to allow the American sale of various strains of anthrax, and chemical-weapons precursors from Dow Chemical, to Saddam Hussein.

After 9/11, the Bush Administration created a mountain of lies and exaggerations to inflame American outrage and justify the invasion, perhaps the most absurd being the story of a fleet of mobile bio-weapons labs.  In January of 2003, Colin Powell stood before the U.N. Security Council and told a convincing lie, that “‘Iraq has at least seven mobile factories for the production of biological agents – equipment mounted on trucks and rails to evade discovery.” This famously absurd claim came from “Curveball”, an Iraqi defector who ultimately confessed that he lied to German intelligence and later the US about mobile bio-weapons labs. The Germans had already determined that Curveball was only a taxi driver and his stories were empty fabrications, and they shared this knowledge with the CIA well before Powell’s speech to the U.N. But the Bush Administration repeated Curveball’s lies to the UN, because of course, it suited their agenda.

In January of 2015 the CIA declassified and released the very same report that the Bush Administration claimed justified the invasion of Iraq. With this report, the administration repeatedly claimed with certainty that Iraq was actively pursuing nuclear weapons, concealing a vast chemical and biological weapons arsenal, and posed an immediate and grave threat to US national security. However the CIA’s report says nothing of the kind. It is full of qualifiers and uncertainties, and directly states that Iraq had no active nuclear weapons program. According to an assessment of the CIA report by the government-funded RAND Corporation, the Bush Administration grossly exaggerated and contradicted the very CIA document they said justified the invasion.  The bottom line is that the Bush Administration lied pervasively.

The result of course, was the perfect storm of fanaticism, arrogance, and the world’s most powerful military.  As predicted by many experts, the invasion sparked a bloody civil war and created devastating regional upheaval. ISIS is a direct result.  The total cost in terms of human agony, lives lost, and treasure wasted seems almost unbounded, and goes on to this day.

Tragically for the United Kingdom, then Prime Minister Tony Blair was Bush’s obedient lap dog, repeating every lie to the British public that the Bush administration told to America. America’s common allies, France, Italy, and Germany, refused to repeat the lies, but George Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, and Tony Blair pulled one off the biggest con jobs the world has ever witnessed, deceiving hundreds of millions.  So what will be the outcome of the seven-year Chilcot Inquiry?  Probably nothing.  Given the mountain of evidence, it is simply not credible that Bush and Blair were victims of circumstances, misguided imbeciles who somehow misunderstood the facts and launched an accidental invasion.  In terms of accountability, President Obama chose to do absolutely nothing about Bush’s illegal invasion of Iraq and its consequences, about the lies the Bush Administration told America and the world, or about the Bush administration’s illegal rendition and torture program.  And in all likelihood, the British government will do exactly the same.  What is likely to be an exhaustive and damning report will result in nothing.  But thanks to the Bush Administration and Tony Blair, this disaster will continue to play out for many years to come.