Monday, January 30, 2017


Military veterans were dumbfounded and furious when it became clear over the weekend that President Donald Trump’s executive order barring the admission into the United States of people from seven majority-Muslim countries keeps out interpreters who’d risked their lives helping U.S. forces in Iraq.

“They better make a damn exception, because we are here because of them,” said Andrew Biggio, a former Marine sergeant who was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. “Our lives, our families, we have everything to thank for our interpreters. We owe them, we owe them, we owe them.”

Biggio, who voted for Trump, said he and other Marines he served with are waiting for a clarification from the White House. Many of them personally pushed for years to obtain visas for their interpreters and then raised funds to help them settle in.
Andrew Biggio, why are you surprised at the executive order? Good for you that you're speaking up now about what you know is wrong and cruel. My only surprise is that the Bannon/Trump administration is moving so swiftly with a number of executive orders that are signed without the normal vetting process.

It's understandable that a new president will want to change policies, but the ban on immigrants from seven countries with Muslim majorities, and the attempt by the administration to link Obama to the executive order is despicable.  Man up, and take responsibility for your own actions, Mr Bannon and President Trump.  Refugees coming to the US are already subject to the most rigorous vetting in the entire world.
Veterans said that honoring the implicit promise made to those who risked their lives to help the United States has nothing to do with politics, and that they can’t believe it would be up for debate.

“You will find military veterans unified in support of this; it’s not partisan,” said Brandon Friedman, a former Obama administration official who commanded a platoon during the invasion of Iraq. “This order demonstrates that we don’t have their backs. It’s totally un-American.”  
Who is vetting the Bannon/Trump administration's executive orders?  Apparently, no one who knows anything about the process is included.
Veteran officials who normally would have reviewed the order’s language to ensure smooth implementation and avoid potential litigation have been cut out of the typical process by the Trump administration — or simply overruled, current and former officials told FP [Foreign Policy].
As one of my friends asked, is the administration trying to incite ISIS to attack the United States? The executive order is probably unconstitutional, and it will not make the people in the country safer.  It will increase the danger of a terrorist attack, and, worst of all, US members of the military serving in the Middle East will be put at risk.  To ask troops to put their lives on the line, even as the presidential order puts their lives at greater risk is abominable.
President Donald Trump is getting blasted for reorganizing the National Security Council to oust the director of intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff [James Mattis] from always attending the Principals Committee -- and installing one of his top political advisers on the key panel.
Trump's order makes his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, a regular member of the Principals Committee. The committee is a Cabinet-level group of agencies that deal with national security that was established by President George H. W. Bush in 1989.
Does anyone on Trump's team know what they're doing?  What's going on in the White House?  What is Vice-President Pence doing?  Standing like a potted plant to watch Trump sign executive orders?

Is Bannon/Trump in the middle of an attempted coup to govern by fiat, with no regard for the other two branches of government?  Where is the leadership from the GOP?  Democratic Senators are expected to introduce legislation as early as Monday that aims to overturn President Trump's executive orders on immigration.  Democrats will need cooperation from Republicans to pass a bill to put an end to the madness of the executive order through legislation.  And Trump will have to sign the legislation into law.  What are the chances for an override of a Trump veto?  Probably zero, but Democrats must go on record loudly and proudly in opposing the ban.

Saturday, January 28, 2017


From the New York Times - despicable, chaotic tragedy.  Iraqis who put their lives and the lives of their families at risk to help the US are banned.  People from countries on the executive order list who have green cards are banned from reentering the US. This is our new president, only one week in office, and we are asked time after time to "give him a chance".  Not a chance of that for me.  Never in my wildest nightmares about a Trump presidency did I imagine such an ignorant, heartless dolt could do as much damage to our country and our international relationships in one week.
President Trump’s executive order on immigration quickly reverberated through the United States and across the globe on Saturday, slamming the border shut for an Iranian scientist headed to a lab in Boston, an Iraqi who had worked as an interpreter for the United States Army, and a Syrian refugee family headed to a new life in Ohio, among countless others.

Mr. Trump’s order, enacted with the stroke of a pen on Friday afternoon, suspended entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely, and blocked entry into the United States for 90 days for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Confusion turned to panic at airports around the world, as travelers found themselves unable to board flights bound for the United States. In Dubai and Istanbul, airport and immigration officials turned passengers away at boarding gates and, in at least one case, ejected a family from a flight they had boarded.
Note: I have not previously used the picture of Trump at the head of the post, but it's time, or maybe way past time, as it so perfectly illustrates the message the president sends to the people of the country and to the world.  Of course, there is one exception, as even now the Trump maladministration is considering lifting sanctions on Russia, where his much beloved strong man and BFF, Vlad Putin, rules as despot.

UPDATE: From Talking Points Memo.
A federal judge in New York has issued an emergency order temporarily barring the U.S. from deporting people from nations subject to President Donald Trump's travel ban.

U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly issued the order Saturday evening after lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union filed a court petition on behalf of people from seven predominantly Muslim nations who were detained at airports across the country as the ban took effect.

Cheers broke out in a crowd of demonstrators outside a Brooklyn courthouse as the decision, effective nationwide, was announced.
Thank you, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)! I will make a donation now. We need the organization desperately in these times.

Friday, January 27, 2017


President Donald Trump's administration has abruptly halted ads and outreach for Obamacare set to run during the final days of the 2017 open enrollment season, according to a report published Thursday by Politico.

The decision to halt outreach and ads came from the White House, according to the report. (My emphasis)
Just six days before the window to sign up ends, vindictive Trump and/or his advisers put road blocks in the way of people who need health insurance.

For Trump and crew, this is just one more petty exercise of power to take vengeance on whom?  Obama? Democrats?  People who didn't vote for him?  Protesters?  Anyone who prevents him from enjoying himself in his first days in the White House?  Sadly, it could mean the difference between life and death to people who need help, including Trump supporters.

Another example of Trump's pettiness and vindictiveness is the order to the National Park Service to post photos of his inauguration that he liked, photos that didn't show areas on the Mall where there were no people.
In a Saturday phone call, Trump personally ordered Reynolds to produce additional photographs of the previous day’s crowds on the Mall, according to three individuals who have knowledge of the conversation. The president believed that the photos might prove that the media had lied in reporting that attendance had been no better than average.
Trump was especially angered by pictures that showed the crowd at President Obama's inauguration in 2009 side by side with his inauguration crowd.

There are more, so many more, examples of the president's child-like, bullying behavior than I have time to note, but he's had a busy week and done much harm and no good for the people of the country.

Trump's soured the relationship between the US and Mexico, our friend, neighbor, and third largest trading partner.

He's endangered our troops deployed in the Middle East by stating he believes torture works.

He's endangered our troops in Iraq who are deployed to advise the Iraqi military by threatening to take the oil from their country.

He's stated he will open a major investigation into massive voter fraud in the recent election, for which there is no evidence.  Trump believes three to five million "illegals", as he calls them, may have voted in the election and caused him to lose the popular vote.

He's put gag orders on federal agencies, forbidding the employees from speaking to members of Congress.

And Trump's been in office for only a week.  God help the United States of America!

UPDATE: The halt to outreach publicity in the final days of open enrollment in the ACA health insurance program has been reversed by the Trump maladministration.
HHS officials on Friday said automatic phone calls and other online and digital outreach — including Twitter messages and emails — would continue through the Jan. 31 deadline for obtaining coverage.

Thursday, January 26, 2017


After incorrect or unprovable statements made by Republican President Donald Trump and some White House aides, one truth is undeniable: Sales of George Orwell's 1984 are soaring.

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway coined an instant catchphrase Sunday when she called his claims about crowd size "alternative facts," bringing comparisons on social media to "1984".
Heh heh. We're back to Newspeak with another name, and Orwell's book is as relevant today as it ever was.

"Quotes from Orwell's 1984 :
“For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable – what then?”

"Reality exists in the human mind and nowhere else."
And now, for Donald Trump, reality exists only in his own mind and in the minds of his followers who choose to believe his reality.

UPDATE: Adam Gopnik's essay in The New Yorker on Orwell's 1984 is excellent.
"1984” seemed...too brutal, too atavistic, too limited in its imagination of the relation between authoritarian state and helpless citizens.

An unbidden apology rises to the lips, as Orwell’s book duly climbs high in the Amazon rankings: it was far better and smarter than good times past allowed us to think. What it took, of course, to change this view was the Presidency of Donald Trump. Because the single most striking thing about his matchlessly strange first week is how primitive, atavistic, and uncomplicatedly brutal Trump’s brand of authoritarianism is turning out to be. We have to go back to “1984” because, in effect, we have to go back to 1948 to get the flavor.

Meanwhile, the Republicans in Congress, thoroughly intimidated, fear shining from one eye and cupidity from the other, will exploit the “question” of voter fraud to pursue policies of actually suppressing minority voters. 


What I write here is a rambling stream of thoughts about my time on Facebook. While I've missed contact with my many friends on the site, my thus far short break has been a relief, and I've felt better during the time away. I doubt I can return to FB on the same basis as previously. I was spending far too much there, and, in the end, I was suffering stress from overload. If I could post and pretty much ignore comments, that could work, but I can't. I want to monitor comments to make sure the discussions don't drift into attacks and name-calling on my page.

Also, when my friends take the trouble to read and comment, I feel obliged to return the compliment and read and comment on their pages. Thus, the time problem, and, in the end, Facebook became more of a burden than a pleasure.

Since I've always preferred blogging to Facebook, I'm thinking of taking my writing back to my blog and putting links to my blog posts on FB. A number of my friends will probably not read the posts, and that's okay. Unfortunately, people who have not joined Google tell me they can't leave comments on Blogger. It seems Google has taken over Blogger, and I don't know how to solve the problem. Still, I feel much more comfortable blogging than posting on FB.

I've pretty much made my decision because of the relief I already feel from spending less time and being less active on FB, but it's not set in stone. If I go back to my old ways of posting and commenting on FB, I'll probably soon suffer from stress overload again.

Saturday, January 21, 2017


Why Lincoln Laughed:
Basically a melancholy man, he was not humor's slave, and could therefore bend it to his own uses and make it a vehicle for thought rather than mere clownishness.

This was misunderstood at the time, and once in the dark days of the war, when Lincoln was reprimanded for his unseemly levity, he turned his gaunt face and tragic eyes toward his critic and replied, "I laugh because I must not cry; That's all - that's all."
Since the election and inauguration (which I did not watch) of Donald Trump, I'm slowly making my way out of despair to determination to resist. I can't do a lot, but I will do what I can. There's nothing wrong with having a little fun along the way, and we can count on Stephen Colbert and many others to make us laugh.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


For a good part of the day 9yesterday), I'd been struggling to find a way to honor the Rev Martin Luther King, Jr, but, at the end of the day, I can think of no better way to honor him than to use his own eloquent words. His legacy includes a number of fine speeches and sermons. The words quoted below are from his address to the sanitation workers who were on strike in Memphis, Tennessee, on March 18, 1968.

Though there has been progress in civil rights movement, many of the words the Rev King spoke that day were prophetic and are still quite relevant today.
You've been demonstrating something here that needs to be demonstrated all over the country. You are demonstrating that we can stick together. You are demonstrating that we are all tied in a single garment of destiny, and that if one black person suffers, if one black person is down, we are all down.

If you will judge anything here in this struggle, you're commanding that this city will respect the dignity of labor. So often we overlook the worth and significance of those who are not in professional jobs, or those who are not in the so-called big jobs. But let me say to you tonight, that whenever you are engaged in work that serves humanity, and is for the building of humanity, it has dignity, and it has worth. One day our society must come to see this. One day our society will come to respect the sanitation worker if it is to survive. For the person who picks up our garbage, in the final analysis, is as significant as the physician. All labor has worth.

Now the problem isn't only unemployment. Do you know that most of the poor people in our country are working everyday? They are making wages so low that they can not begin to function in the mainstream of the economic life of our nation. These are facts which must be seen. And it is criminal to have people working on a full-time basis and a full-time job getting part-time income.

Now you're doing something else here. You are highlighting the economic issues. You are going beyond purely civil rights to questions of human rights. That is distinct…

Now our struggle is for genuine equality, which means economic equality. For we know now, that it isn't enough to integrate lunch counters. What does it profit a man to be able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if he doesn't have enough money to buy a hamburger? What does it profit a man to be able to eat at the swankest integrated restaurant when he doesn't even earn enough money to take his wife out to dine? What does it profit one to have access to the hotels of our cities, and the hotels of our highways, when we don't earn enough money to take our family on a vacation? What does it profit one to be able to attend an integrated school, when he doesn't earn enough money to buy his children school clothes?

So in Memphis we have begun. We are saying, "Now is the time." Get the word across to everybody in power in this town that now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to make an adequate income a reality for all of God's children, now is the time to make the real promises of democracy. Now is the time to make an adequate income a reality for all of God's children, now is the time for city hall to take a position for that which is just and honest. Now is the time for justice to roll down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream. Now is the time.
I don't think I'd ever read this speech before a couple of days ago when a Facebook friend posted quotes and the link. A few weeks later, the Rev King was back in Memphis to give his "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech. The evening after the speech, he was assassinated.

Here is the link to full text of the address.

Sunday, January 15, 2017


Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake. Amen.

(From Evening Prayer, Book of Common Prayer)

Just by happenstance, in the World Cycle of Prayer:

We pray for the people of United States.


If you have health insurance under the ACA or the Affordable Care Act, which is the same thing, you are covered by Obamacare. If Republicans succeed in repealing Obamacare, you will lose your coverage under the ACA.

Monday, January 9, 2017


It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back. It -- it kind of broke my heart when I saw it. And I still can't get it out of my head because it wasn't in a movie. It was real life. 

 And this instinct to humiliate, when it's modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody's life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose. 
Meryl Streep is my hero, and not for the first time.  She said what needed to be said about President-elect Donald Trump in her speech at the Golden Globe Awards.  When Trump mocked reporter Serge Kovaleski's physical disability, he should have been shunned by everyone, including sane members of the GOP, and eliminated from the field of candidates.

When the tape of Trump boasting about assaulting women was released, his candidacy should have been finished, over, done, but that did not happen.

Trump invited his friend Putin to hack Hillary Clinton's email, and I don't recall a GOP outcry at the time.  The vast majority, if not all, Republican members of Congress endorsed Trump in the end. Putin followed through, hacked the Clinton campaign's email server, and interfered with the election.  Now, too little, too late, a few Republican leaders are "concerned".  That Trump is unfit to serve as president is obvious, but where were the sane Republicans who should have been speaking out forcefully against Trump for months and months?

Also, now that the election is over, Democrats are far too quiet about Trump's unfitness to suit me. The Democratic leadership, with some exceptions, seems overly focused on a smooth transition of power, but a smooth transition to what? Maybe the focus should be on the disastrous nightmare that will follow the smooth transition. WTF?