“This is Wolf Blitzer reporting live outside the White House where security personnel have instituted a lock-down amid wild rumors. A usually reliable source has informed me that earlier today, at approximately 2:15 pm, the White House was approached by a group of four men costumed in medieval garb and requesting an audience with Mr. Trump. Their leader was an elderly bearded man with a long staff who claimed the President is under the spell of an evil adviser who he named as “Wormtongue” O’Bannon – an apparent reference to high ranking adviser Steve Bannon of Breitbart. The old man, ha, get this, says he was sent by “the eldars” to conduct an intervention with the President and that we on the earth were but “walking on the edge”. Thereafter, one of the four, a short, stout fellow, was seen to become belligerent when questioned on his identity. Backup security was promptly called including a SWAT squad and ICE agents. Preliminary reports indicate that the four were detained for lack of appropriate identity papers, that they refused to give proof of their country of origin, and that they speak several languages none of which has been identified by local language experts.”
“The current lock down was ordered shortly thereafter when despite the arrest and detention, the four were spotted entering the White House without escort. Some speculate that the old man is a master of hypnosis as he apparently talked security personnel into effecting their release. We’ve asked the White House to provide a spokesman and understand someone should be here…Wait, Wait, Hey Steve, Steve Bannon, over here, just a couple questions… Steve?
“Wolf, you know I don’t do fake news, CNN is banned.”
“Steve, just a quick one – what is going on in there? Is the President okay?”
“It’s that damn wizard Wolf. I’ve been playing The Donald like a kazoo – place on the security council, war on Islam, deportations, defang EPA, knife ol’ Flynn in the back – like he didn’t deserve it right? What does that wizard do? – hocus pocus – flips his staff around and kerbang! – there’s the Old Donald – good as new. Looking for pussy. President of the United States and all he wants is pussy. Can you believe it. What a waste of my time. Blunt instrument indeed.”
“But the President, Steve. Is he okay?”
“Fit as a fiddle Wolf. Says he’s gonna resign and build his wall down at Mar a Lago. Spilling the beans on the election too. The way it was rigged with the Russkies and all. Looks to me like they’ll hold new elections. Hey Wolf I really gotta go. Not sure I’m gonna be appreciated here much longer. Ciao.”
It’s time to state my case. Mr. Trump has made a great symbol for what I don’t stand for. I oppose his fascism, lies, corruption, and privilege for the rich. I oppose his abuse of power, abuse of the poor, cruelty, and disdain for facts and the press. But what, as they keep saying, am I for? With apologies to Bernie Sanders, who has been trying to pull the Democrats into his tent without severing relations with the Clinton center, I support Bernie and his policies but I’d like to state his case better.
I support a transition of our government to a social democracy along the lines of the current northern European democracies; a social democracy like those governing the Scandinavian countries of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Those countries have a strong safety-net for the poor, universal health care, respect for human rights, vigorous democracies, respect for the environment, high tech businesses, high standards of living, education, and culture, and pride in their achievements. Why wouldn’t we want that? and, why then can’t we have it?
Well, in fact, we can have it – we have the intellect, and the energy, and, conceptually, a sufficiently democratic system. With a majority of the votes, we can bend the governmental structure to our will. And I am not suggesting anything that doesn’t work. The Scandinavian governments are models for the world. Their levels of health care, education, satisfaction of the citizenry, and respect for human rights and the environment all far exceed what we can demonstrate in the United States. They are not, for example, repressive Communist regimes, they respect life, liberty, and property. Nor are they totalitarian repressive regimes such as that found in Russia or China. No. They are governments that are run by and for the benefit of the people. Lincolnesque. Government of, by, and for the people.
What is stopping us? That’s a complicated question, the answer to which lies in the current domination of the American power structure by a corporate elite – an oligarchy that makes us rather more like Russia than Sweden. Our elite is well entrenched – they are fabulously wealthy, the tax and regulatory systems are controlled by them and skewed in their favor – and now through Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United, they can spend that wealth to retain their power. A social democracy threatens the corporate elite because it places the welfare of the people above the unrestricted right of the corporation to maximize profit. Thus, changing how we govern will require a fight to pry the fingers of the elite off the reins of power. That won’t be easy.
In the United States, because there is no effective limit on campaign spending, running successfully for office has become enormously expensive. That expense has guaranteed that only the elite will generally run for a major office, whether running as a Republican or Democrat. But the problem is compounded because presenting proposed policies to the public has traditionally required a sympathetic media. In the United States, media is controlled for the most part by either the old corporate establishment – say NBC or CBS – or by the right wing oligarchs such as Rupert Murdoch with Fox News. In the recent primary, social democrat Bernie Sanders was always swimming upstream, struggling to get his message out to a media that played up to the establishment figure, Hillary, or sucked up to the celebrity of Mr. Trump. Having said that, it is a fact that Sanders was enormously successful in terms of what might have been expected. And Trump actually won by appealing to the common core of voters who have felt themselves disenfranchised by the ruling elite.
What that says to me is that, notwithstanding the obstacles, the time is ripe for real change. Like Bernie, we are swimming up stream. But one thing that the massive rallies of the Women’s March showed on January 21 was that the new social media has created enormous possibilities for harnessing energy and for obtaining political power. The Marches were worldwide, organized largely on the internet, and without the money that the elite bring to bear. The elite can’t actually buy the votes. And we can appeal to voters if what we promise, and can fulfill, is what the people want. The challenge is to mobilize, get the message out, and demand that change.
I’ve been told my blog is too dark, too negative. “People can’t read that stuff all the time.” I know it’s true. How do you get up in the morning? So don’t read this, because today I don’t just go dark and negative, I want to scare you. Today I go nuclear.
All those zombie movies you watch, the dystopian Hunger Games, the Terminators, and horror flicks, don’t come close to the terror of the nuclear holocaust that lurks just around the corner. I come by this naturally because I grew up in the 50s and 60s, my dad worked in the defense industry designing our nuclear submarines, and some of my best friends were Navy brats whose dads went on patrols in enemy territory on submarines armed and primed for war. I read Nevil Shute’s On the Beach (if you live in Australia you get a brief respite before the radiation kills you), and watched Dr. Strangelove (or how I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb). What made the most impression was a novel by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler called Fail-Safe. The fail-safe mechanism for alerting our nuclear-armed bombers fails, the bombers are mistakenly given the war code and head for Russia, and they can’t be called back. My dad thought this possibility was all too real. We watched the movie too. So that nuclear holocaust dream that sensitive kids might have – they do a reasonable semblance of it in one of the Terminator movies. I saw that one first hand, waking up in a sweat and surprised to be here.
Down the street Captain Beach, a famed submariner, author of Run Silent, Run Deep, and then captain of the submarine Triton, was building a bomb shelter in his back yard. A friend’s mother, driving me home from a party and listening to the radio during the Cuban Missile Crisis, suddenly pulled the car over and blurted out, “They’re really going to do it.” We didn’t have to ask “do what?”
Alright. That was then. Should we worry now? Let me link you to the Wikipedia article on known Near Incidents. Wikipedia lists about eleven such incidents, including the Cuban Missile Crisis itself, when an American destroyer depth charged a Soviet sub armed with nuclear torpedoes. The list does not include the Scorpion incident during which knowledgeable people claim an American submarine was torpedoed by the Soviets and the incident was covered up to avoid a nuclear confrontation. See Scorpion Down. That book alleges the incident occurred in retaliation for the American sinking of a Soviet sub. We are here today only because, in the crunch, the cooler heads have prevailed.
And now the American people have put Donald Trump and Steve Bannon in the White House. Both have expressed fascination with nuclear weapons. Bannon believes we are already at war with Islam. My non-scientific opinion is that both of them should be certified as mad and put in a secure institution. Should I mention that the modern nuclear weapons are magnitudes larger than those at Hiroshima and Nagasaki? I’m scared, you should be scared. This is not normal. We can’t afford for our representatives in Congress to be “statesmen” and play their partisan games. This is not a game.
If you are not at ground zero, what probably happens first is the power grid gets fried by the electromagnetic pulse of the first bombs. You may have a few minutes to wonder why the internet isn’t working and why Verizon is down when you try to call the power company.
With Trump, it’s one damn thing after another. Today his administration announced new guidelines for the deportation of immigrants. Here’s part of a statement from the ACLU site on immigrant rights:
“The Department of Homeland Security today released two memoranda implementing President Trump’s executive orders on immigration and border security. The new directives eliminate earlier policies that deprioritized the deportation of immigrants who pose no threat to—and are integral members of—our communities. The directives greatly expand “expedited” and “administrative” removals, allowing Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and Border Patrol officers to deport more people—not only at the border but throughout the United States—without any court oversight. The directives promise a massive expansion of detention of children and families seeking asylum in the United States by requiring, with limited exceptions, that officers detain any undocumented immigrant found at or near the border. The directives also reinstate the Secure Communities program and emphasize the expansion of a program that recruits local police departments and sheriff’s offices to do the work of federal immigration officers – interfering with their ability to do their job keeping communities safe as well as encouraging racial profiling. “
New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman elaborated with respect to the effect of those rules in New York:
“The Trump regime has dramatically expanded the number of immigrant New Yorkers who could find themselves in the crosshairs of the president’s mass deportation machine. These new rules will result in thousands of lives being ruined and families being torn apart…”
“These new rules would also eviscerate the due process rights of immigrants by assigning huge numbers of immigration decisions to the unchecked authority of ICE and Border Patrol officers instead of judges – a dangerous step toward destroying even the appearance of fair procedures.”
Here’s the context for what is going on. Trump and his right-wing allies, at the same time that they are demanding Constitutional protections for the rich under Citizens United and for members of the powerful gun lobby under the Second Amendment, are flagrantly violating Constitutional protections for the poor and vulnerable.
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides in part: “No state shall . . . deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Thus, this Constitutional provision explicitly guarantees due process to everyone including immigrants, who are clearly people. Due process, in this context, means the right to assert one’s rights before a “neutral magistrate.” The concept of due process is that, by providing an individual a hearing before a third party – the magistrate – there is someone who can ensure that the State is not over-reaching and depriving the individual of rights that he legally is entitled to claim. If the state, acting through a police officer or customs agent, acts on its own to deprive a person of liberty and then deport him without the opportunity for a hearing, that person is unconstitutionally deprived of due process. Moreover, because that person never gets to court, he never gets the opportunity to challenge the deportation either factually, or as a matter of law.
Again, let’s lay out where Trump and the Republicans are. If you are a corporation, then under Citizens United, they say you are entitled to First Amendment Constitutional protection to spend as much money as you want to buy an election. Yet, the concept that a corporation could claim rights as a person results from new legal theories cooked up by the right-wing intellectual cartel supported by the Koch brothers and other big money. When I was in law school in the 1970s, we were correctly and explicitly taught that a corporation is not a person. Furthermore, if you are a mentally deranged domestic terrorist, Trump and his minions say you have a Second Amendment Constitutional Right to own an assault weapon. The Second Amendment provides: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” It was written expressly about the right to bear arms in a militia – not unreasonable when there was no standing army – but was never traditionally considered to have much to say about reasonable gun control. But that was before the National Rifle Association became a major political power. So Trump protects corporations and gun nuts. But, if a federal officer thinks you look like an immigrant and you cannot satisfy him that you are legally in the United States, you can be arrested and deported without any judicial proceeding whatsoever, even if it turns out that the officer was factually or legally wrong.
To be blunt, according to Trump and his cronies, the law is for the rich or for those protected by the powerful gun lobby. If you are poor and disenfranchised, you need not apply. This is at once intellectual nonsense and morally reprehensible. Nothing new for Trump.
Growing up in Mystic in the 1950s, I would binge watch the World War II movies on TV. You know the ones, where the men are slogging through the snow at the Battle of the Bulge, or the tropical fens at Guadalcanal, and the hard-bitten chain-smoking sergeant turns to the exhausted men and yells, “Alright. Fall out. Smoke’em if ya got’em!” When I was seven, I could recite “LSMFT Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco” or “Winston tastes good. Like a cigarette should.” During World War I, American tobacco interests first provided free cigarettes to the troops. They would be included in military rations until 1975. Tobacco was part of the culture.
Everyone was making money, those cigarettes taste good, what’s wrong with that picture? Well, chain-smoker Ed Murrow, the famed journalist who brought down Joe McCarthy, died two days after his 57th birthday of lung cancer. Chain-smoker Humphrey Bogart died at 57 of cancer of the esophagus. Who knew? Smoking kills. The laws of physics, and chemistry, and biology don’t care about the dividends on R. J. Reynold’s stock. And they don’t care what you believe. What you don’t know can kill you.
During the 1950s, post-war, there was great interest in the use of nuclear power. There was the Nautilus, first nuclear powered submarine, on the magazine cover with it’s commander purportedly declaring, “Underway Under Nuclear Power!” The Neil Armstrong of the day. Great stuff. My dad worked on the Nautilus and the other early submarine designs. He had a badge that showed how much exposure he received to radiation from the nuclear cores. The fact is that he and his co-workers received substantial exposure to radiation and that was an accepted part of the job. He had throat cancer at 53. A co-engineer, a bright young man who once drove me to a county fair in his Model A Ford, will always be that bright young man. He was dead in his early thirties of throat cancer. What you don’t know can kill you.
Mr. Trump and Mr. Pruitt don’t “believe” in global warming. I think Al Gore made a mistake when he titled his documentary on global warming “An Inconvenient Truth.” American industry is quite happy to deal with an “inconvenience”. Does it effect the next quarterly report? No? What’s the problem? I think Al should have called the documentary: “Have you evolved to breathe carbon dioxide?” Or maybe, “How long can you tread water?”
What am I fighting for? If I focus on any one topic, it drives everything else to the background. Here’s my cheat sheet. To be revised as other issues come to mind.
The Environment: Industrial and agricultural pollution, with carbon and methane emissions, are causing global warming. If not addressed, global warming will cause catastrophic environmental disasters. Mr. Trump, his head of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt, and the Republican controlled Congress are hostile to any regulations that restrict corporate profits. The science is already in on global warming and on numerous other environmental threats that must be addressed. Disaster looms.
Economic Policy: Ever since Reagan received his mandate based on “trickle-down” theory, income inequality and economic instability have increased. Trump is now taking dead aim on the remaining regulatory apparatus, such as Dodd-Frank, that prevent the financial industry from turning our economy into a giant casino. A repeat of the global meltdown of 2008 looms.
Health Care: Every Western industrialized nation provides for universal health care, with one exception, the United States. In the United States, with a system designed to maximize corporate profits of the medical, pharmaceutical, insurance, and nursing home industries, we pay up to 50% more than the rest of the industrialized world, deny access to the poor, bankrupt unlucky members of the middle class, and have health-care results that are mediocre at best and lag other Western countries.
Education: Again, we should look to Europe, where college or technical education for qualified students is provided or highly subsidized. The state of the American education system can be surmised from the recent presidential election where we elected a demagogue who promised fantasies and denied realities.
Civil Rights: The President has brought aides into his government with connections to white supremacy organizations and those hostile to the equal rights of minorities and women.
Protection of the Bill of Rights: The President and Republican Congress are intent on rolling back the individual protections enunciated by the Warren Court and its progeny. Those rights include the rights of criminal defendants to due process and the assistance of counsel and the rights of women to determine whether to carry a pregnancy to term.
Freedom of Speech: The President has declared the Press to be a public enemy.
Freedom of Religion: The President has enacted orders targeting Muslims in violation of the First Amendment.
Voting Rights: The President, by falsely claiming widespread voter fraud, has legitimized state efforts to suppress voting by minorities. These actions smack of the Jim Crow policies of the segregated South.
Democracy: The President was elected by a minority of the voters as the result of the undemocratic effects of the Electoral College. The rights of the majority of the voters to elect a candidate of their choice must be honored. Other non-democratic policies such as the widespread use of gerrymandering must be eliminated. The Supreme Court decision in Citizens United allowing corporate interests to buy elections must be overturned.
Compassion and resettlement for refugees and immigrants: The way in which the United States has turned its back on the largely Muslim refugee crisis that was in part spawned by American foreign policy is reprehensible. Ditto to the unprincipled “deportation raids” being conducted by Trump. What is required is a rational and compassionate policy that respects our humanity.
Sound Foreign Policy: In his first weeks, the President has systematically insulted the leaders of our closest allies.
Reasonable Gun Control: Every day, people who shouldn’t have guns kill people who don’t have guns. The second amendment was not intended to protect carnage.
Accountability for Treason: All available evidence indicates that the President conspired with Russian leader Vladimir Putin to undermine the 2016 presidential election with the goal of electing Mr. Trump. The trail of the evidence must be followed and those involved held accountable.
Conflicts of Interest and Violation of the Emoluments Clause: The President has entangled his private business interests with his obligations to the country as a public servant. In particular, he is benefiting personally from actions taken by foreign powers in violation of the Emoluments Clause. He should be held accountable.
Character and Values: The leader of the free world must reflect the values of a modern and empathetic country. The demagoguery of the current president falls short.
Avoidance of Nuclear Holocaust: The President is one of the two or three people on the face of the earth who can unleash nuclear holocaust and extinguish life on our planet as we know it. The President daily exhibits paranoia and narcissism indicative of serious mental illness. Such a person should not have access to a gun, much less a ballistic missile.
Did I forget something? Let me know.