Choosing the Right People

In 2008 presidential candidate John McCain, a highly respected and serious contender for winning the election, doomed his chances with one simple decision: He chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. That one move showed such serious lack of judgment that McCain had no chance whatsoever from that point forward.

Now we watch as trump goes from Lewandowski, a nasty fighter with no qualifications, to Manafort, a very shady character with lots of Russian and pro-Russian work in his resume, to Bannon, a mean-spirited and hateful man. And still the trumpies hang on.

trump’s supporters seem to want only one thing: A candidate who will punch people in the nose and thus provide a cathartic release of their anger against Washington. As a result of the foolishness of trump and his rabid supporters, we are almost guaranteed to have as our next president one of Washington’s real insiders, one of those people the trumpies most dislike.

It is too late for the GOP to choose another candidate but it is worth noting nonetheless that trump, by choosing and rejecting two slimy campaign managers, then choosing another even worse, has proven what kind of people he wants around him. What a cabinet he would form! Those few people who would accept an invitation to his cabinet would crawl out of the gutter or lower themselves from already low status. the latter category would include people like Christie and Gingrich.

Desperate and floundering to find the right words to say and the right policies to announce, clearly with no internal moral or political compass whatsoever, trump daily proves himself unfit for any responsible office. Yet the trumpies hang on . . . . How sad.

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If the Shoe Fits the trumpies. . .

I have been trying these past few days to write less about trump. It gets kind of sickening to dwell in the swamps too long. But it is hard to resist, since trump and/or the Republicans make such fools of themselves on a daily basis.

I remember way, way back in time (last April) when American conservatives jumped all over Obama for commenting on Brexit when he was visiting in England. Foreigners shouldn’t do things like that, they said as they excoriated him for “interfering” in an internal British decision.

Tonight a trump rally is slated to hear from Nigel Farage, the British politician who led the movement to have Britain leave the European Union.

Have you every noticed any other subtle little hints that the Republican supply of hypocrisy is absolutely limitless?

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Republicans Are Shaming America

I need to begin with a reminder to my readers: I am very disappointed in the Democrats and the candidate they have selected. But I am completely disgusted by the Republican party. While the Democrats represent much of the same ol’ Washington we’ve all grown to dislike, the Republicans have become the enemies not just of our government but of democracy itself.

I want to shout loudly that this is not just a “political” view I hold. They have moved far beyond the pale of mere political differences. They have been attacking the very fabric of democracy.

Abraham Lincoln, as far back as 1838 in a January speech in Springfield, warned that the real threat to America lay not in foreign invasion but in the suicide of our democratic institutions. When mob rule reigns (such as in the lynchings which were fairly common at the time) the the rule of law is eviscerated and with it the government which was created  to make and enforce law comes to be seen as a mere obstruction in the way of “street justice” (my term, not Lincoln’s).

++Republicans, vowing to make the president fail, have damaged the presidency, destroying respect for the office.

++Republicans, refusing to allow the president to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court, have not only inflicted a temporary damage to the court but have guaranteed that for a long time to come the court will be treated in exactly and precisely the way that will destroy it. When the court becomes not a part of the famous checks and balances of our governmental system but merely an extension of the political views of the party in power at one time or another, then the court no longer is the primary guardian of the Constitution.

++Republicans, long the enemy of fair elections, have redoubled their efforts to make sure “their kind of people” get to vote more easily than other folk. In doing so, they are making a mockery of the most fundamental way in which citizens can hold their elected officials accountable.

In all these ways — and many dozens more — trump goes far beyond the debased Republican style but he is not essentially different from what the Republicans have become. He just exaggerates all their enmity to democracy.

Nothing trump proposes — nothing! — would strengthen democracy. He wants to be a dictator and hasn’t a clue how else to behave. He wants law and order at the expense of justice (a word he never uses). He wants to reverse our wonderful claim to be “the land of the free and home of the brave, promising instead to make us a nation of cowards hiding behind protective walls. He wants to end that deeply felt American compassion that is expressed by the Statue of Liberty, which says to all the world, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to be free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

trump is a living magnifying glass, showing us in large images what the Republican party has become in our day. All to the shaming of America, which for centuries wanted to be a “city set upon a hill” so that all the world could see what it means to be a nation founded upon faith and love, freedom and compassion, law and justice.

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The Wisdom of Lincoln (1)

It is the first day of December, 1862. The Civil War has proven more costly and extensive than anyone had imagined when it began. It’s outcome is very uncertain. Abraham Lincoln stands before a joint session of Congress to deliver what we now call the State of the Union.

No one seriously doubts that the War is being fought over two thoroughly intertwined issues: States’ Rights and Slavery. Lincoln knows that, were one forced to choose a single cause, it would be slavery because states’ rights would not be a war-worthy issue were it not for slavery being the issue over which the states are divided.

Lincoln addresses one argument against freeing the slaves in terms which fit much of our own debate over immigration today.

It is insisted that [the slaves] presence would injure, and displace white labor and white laborers. If there ever could be a proper time for mere catch arguments, that time surely is not now. In times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and in eternity. 

trump and his folk argue that immigrants displace US workers. Ask him why the majority of his employees are immigrants, and he says it is because he can’t get enough US citizens to apply. One would think, if there were an ounce of integrity in him, trump would at least have the decency to stop his ridiculous argument, since he himself is the living proof that it is a mistaken argument.

Lincoln, calling on Congress to formally approve the Emancipation Proclamation, ends his message with these wise words:

Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We – even we here – hold the power, and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free – honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just – a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.

In 1630, as a small fleet of immigrants neared the shores of the New World, John Winthrop preached a sermon to his fellow passengers aboard the ship Arbella. In it he inspired commitment to the daunting task of establishing a new colony on spiritual foundations by reminding his friends that the whole world was watching to see whether a true democracy is possible and can be realistically grounded on biblical foundations. He said that the new colony “shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us.”

Abraham Lincoln knows full well that the grand American experiment is still being watched and its outcome still being tested.What he does not say but is known by all Americans at the time, is that the seeds of America’s destruction, if that is what the Civil War means, were sown as far back as 1619, not in Plymouth with the Pilgrims, but with the purchase in Jamestown of 20 African slaves.

And what he does not say is that the problem of slavery was so difficult a challenge to the Founding Fathers that they simply pulled the old political trick known in philosophical terms as “kicking the can down the road,” leaving the matter unresolved.

And what Lincoln, for all his wisdom (oh how I wish we had political leaders today who seek wisdom!), did not say and did not even imagine, is that a century and a half after the Civil War, the issue is still not resolved. Sure, we have ended slavery but many people in our nation have nurtured in their hearts and in their children the ugly racism that underlies slavery. And even worse, we have a presidential candidate who does much of that nurturing for us. How very sad for America.

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Big Business Lacks Moral Accountability

A convenient and very common way people with allergies protect themselves in critical times of allergic reactions is the use of a small plastic device called “EpiPen,” which quickly administers a dose of epinephrine. The cost of the medicine to the manufacturer is less than $1.50 per dose. Until recently, the EpiPen was sold in packs of two for under $10. Now the price, depending on the pharmacy, ranges from $600 to $800.

So here is the challenge: Can any of you conceive of any possible moral justification for the price hike?

And just as challenging: Can any of you tell me any reason to trust big business/medicine in our day? At least our government officials are elected, so they have some degree of accountability to the voters. But, absent any government regulation, isn’t it more than clear that big companies have dollar signs where their moral compass ought to be?

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Gold at the Olympics

Maybe the most obvious reasons for enjoying the Olympics is that we get to see excellence achieved by ordinary people with extraordinary skills and incredible work ethics. Human excellence is always deeply moving.

Just as important to me and millions of others is that we get to see gold medals going to Americans of several colors, to Europeans, Asians, Africans, Russians. Even tiny island countries contribute to the excitement and take a share of the glory. And for me one of the greatest delights is that America, surely blessed with an over-abundance of gifts, has countless people running in the name of other countries or getting educations in the US. What a privilege!

What one word best captures my response to all the diversity we see in the Olympics? Hope. The Olympics are proof that, when we humans are at our best, our diverse ways and colors create a rich, rich tapestry. If we can just take those lessons back home with us. . .

Standing in New York harbor is our Statue of Liberty, a gift to us — amazingly — from the French. In 1903 a plaque was installed, bearing a poem which captures the meaning of the statue and therefore the meaning of America. The last stanza is a wonderful testimony to the high ideals represented by our country and by the Olympics. The poet, Emma Lazarus, used these words to say what the statue itself means to say.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

There, in a few short lines, is one beautiful facet in the diamond called America. thanks be to God.

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trump: What You See Is What You Get

“I am who I am. It’s me. I don’t want to change. Everyone talks about, ‘Oh are you going to pivot?’ I don’t want to pivot. You have to be you. If you start pivoting you are not being honest with people,” Trump told a Wisconsin radio station.

So much for the fantasies of the people who have hoped trump would become “more presidential.” What we have seen of trump during the last year is exactly what we would be getting were he to be elected to the highest office in the most powerful nation in human history.

He refuses to hold himself responsible for his own mouth and resents anyone who does hold him accountable. That alone makes it imperative that America protect itself from the disaster he would create.

From the latest changes in his campaign committee, it is clear that trump isn’t even capable of learning how to run a presidential campaign. He is still floundering around, making needless mistake after needless mistake, blaming everyone but himself for all the bad news he has been getting.

Why in the world would he expect anyone to believe him when says he will learn all he needs to know on the day of his inauguration? That is an especially ridiculous claim in the light of, A. His obvious ignorance; B. His childish boast that he is his own best advisor because he has said a lot of things; C. His dismissal of the importance of reading.

He truly believes that his ignorance makes him more knowledgeable than experts in any field. Who but a total fool would say he knows more about ISIS than do our military leaders  (to give but one of many identical examples)?

And who but a fool would support or vote for trump?

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