Member since: Sun Aug 17, 2003, 11:39 PM
Number of posts: 67,006
Member since: Sun Aug 17, 2003, 11:39 PM
Number of posts: 67,006
- 2017 (12)
- 2016 (36)
- 2015 (27)
- 2014 (45)
- 2013 (47)
- 2012 (100)
- 2011 (1)
- December (1)
- Older Archives
I've read a few folks here who insist that we don't have any power or authority to compel a president Trump to do anything. While that notion may well be technically true, it doesn't account for the levers of our democracy which are still mostly in place, or take into account the expressed will of the majority of Americans to reject this presidency.
Politics isn't a static enterprise. It's nebulous and dynamic. Indeed, the political forces will often not bend to the will of the people without strong activism and advocacy.
That's why I would encourage each of us to embrace the authority inherent in our citizenship; in our votes and in our entreaties to our Senators and representatives; with confidence that we can positively influence the political process.
It's no secret that politicians are as politically afraid as they are politically craven. We haven't yet had our elections suspended and there are myriad opportunities to compel these politicians to listen to the voices of their constituents.
This notion that I've read here, that we're mere victims of the results of the election is hogwash. Of course, we have the courts to regulate behavior according to the law. However, it is the political class which is meant to preserve and defend Executive adherence to the law.
That check on the presidency can be switched on by a robust and challenging legislature, compelled into action by an energized and enthusiastic public. That's why it makes no sense to respond to political efforts like Eeyore, insisting that Trump is some immovable force, just because he threatens to be obstinate.
"Government of the people, by the people, for the people."
Lincoln's words at Gettysburg, affirming the principles expressed in the Declaration of Independence, aren't just ephemeral ideals. They are immutable truths, no matter who chooses to disregard them. They are made self-evident by our participation in our democracy.
At Edwardsville, Illinois, on September 11, 1858, Abraham Lincoln said:
"If the Almighty Ruler of Nations, with his eternal truth and justice, be on your side of the North, or on yours of the South, that truth and that justice will surely prevail, by the judgment of this great tribunal, the American people. By the frame of the government under which we live, these same people have wisely given their public servants but little power for mischief; and have, with equal wisdom, provided for the return of that little to their own hands at very short intervals. While the people retain their virtue and vigilance, no administration, by any extreme of wickedness or folly, can very seriously injure the government in the short space of four years. "
I wrote about this over a decade ago, and I believe my words are still relevant:
____We must care enough to involve ourselves in every instigation of democracy which confronts us. Our government is a reflection of everything we choose to neglect and every cynical impulse we reflect. Bill Clinton once said that "cynicism is a luxury."
Those in power who are motivated by greed will show up every day to collect their share, and ours as well. Can we afford to turn away and let all of the negative influences have the floor to themselves?
We have to come to grips with our individual responsibility to vigilance. We have to show up every day to make certain the government is representing all of the people; not just the corporate few who show up every day to collect our money. They will always fill the halls of Congress with their favors, bribes, and obstruction.
As my old friend, Guy Washington used to say, "Good always leaves, but bad comes to stay."
Through our virtue and our vigilance we must continue to advocate and petition our government to work for peace - here in the United States and around the world - with our voices, with our written appeals and protests, and with our actions.
Through our virtue and our vigilance we must keep ourselves informed about those issues and concerns which we entrust to the bidding of those in Congress; and we must thoroughly involve ourselves in the process of resolving those issues and concerns in tandem with our legislators by challenging ourselves to read, watch and listen; with a respect and a desire for understanding of differing views and opinions in our deliberation and debate.
Through our virtue and our vigilance we must, in our respect for democracy, value and protect the right to vote. With our full participation in the voting process we promote respect for our nation and each other, and help ensure an equal chance for representation for all of our citizens in the deliberations of our government. Our vote is the instrument of our collective conscience and our warrant to the realization of our freedom, our liberty, and our well-being.
Through our virtue and our vigilance we must challenge our government, ourselves, and one another, to act with more mercy and compassion as we marshal our resources to aid communities; to alleviate poverty, hunger, and want, here at home and around the world.
We must challenge ourselves to provide for the health needs of all of those who fall ill or injured in this country; to reach out to other countries to assist in the halting of the effects of deadly, infectious diseases and other illnesses; to provide full support and access for those with disabilities and handicaps.
We must challenge our government to make certain that there is adequate, safe, affordable housing for all; to provide emergency aid and assistance for our country; and when needed around the world, distributing these resources and this assistance in an equitable manner.
Through our virtue and our vigilance we must demand that our government promote and practice respect for the environment in our own lands and with respect for the sovereignty of those lands which don't belong to us. We must maintain these values as we protect the ground, water, and the air against pollution and abuse, by government, from industry, or from individuals.
We must challenge our government and ourselves to advocate and enforce these values; through the regulation of industry and of individuals; through enactment and enforcement of environmental laws; by our stewardship and expansion of those lands we recognize and designate as vital to the preservation of our ecosystem, to wildlife, and to the safety of the citizens of our communities. We must foster in our government a respect for the preservation of the balance of all of nature and its right to coexist with humanity without risk of devastation, destruction, or disruption, or neglect.
Through our virtue and our vigilance we must foster and nurture our respect for each other; in the sharing of our burdens; in our willingness to make reasonable compromises; in our awareness and responsiveness to the needs and concerns of the least fortunate among us. We must foster and nurture our respect for each other in the acceptance and appreciation of our differences- not merely to tolerate them- but to explore, celebrate and learn from our different backgrounds, our different abilities, our diverse heritages and nationalities, and our many different religions and beliefs.
Through our virtue and our vigilance we must challenge our government, and ourselves, to be humble; in our words and in our actions; in our acceptance of our mistakes; to admit when we act wrongfully as nations and individuals; to bend ourselves to judgement and lend our support to justice; We must accept our limitations and learn to accept help when offered.
Through our virtue and our vigilance we must instill in our lives and encourage in the acts of our government, a faithfulness to the values of honesty, integrity, and justice. We must challenge and demand from our government, a respect for the privacy of individuals; the rights of individuals to due process of law; protection from unlawful or unreasonable surveillance and searches; protection from any actions by governments, groups, or individuals to suppress protest, dissent or disagreement.
We must challenge and demand from our government, protection from unlawful or unreasonable arrest, detention, separation or deportation; and the rights of individuals to be informed and to inform others of actions by the government or its agents to restrict, degrade, or eviscerate our life, liberty, safety, or freedom. Through our virtue and our vigilance we expect and demand protection by our government from injury, abuse, exploitation, corruption, or enslavement.
We demand protection of our natural resources from theft, abuse, or neglect, as well as, insurance against the unforseen, sometimes destructive force of nature. We demand protection and defense against workplace abuse, accident, or neglect; defense against those who would do us harm, either as individuals or as a nation; and protection from the unreasonable and unlawful excesses and tyrannies of the majorities, in our government and wherever they threaten.
Never, never let ANYONE tell you that we are not in charge of our government. Never.
Posted by bigtree | Mon Jan 9, 2017, 01:59 PM (5 replies)
When you smile at the falling snow,
You're likely remembering joy and beauty,
Experienced over a lifetime.
From the very first time your parents,
Bundled you up with layers of long underwear;
Woolen trousers and several pairs of socks;
Oversized sweater over a turtleneck;
All crammed inside that impossibly small snowsuit.
You remember that first misshaped snowman,
Mixed with dirt and grass, and snot;
More brown than the white ground surrounding it,
Well-dressed in Mother's good scarf you borrowed
And perfectly natty in Father's old cap.
There's hastily erected snow fort on the front lawn,
Fully fortified with a neat pile of perfect snowballs,
Smoothed over by stiffening, soaked mittens,
Too precious, maybe too deadly to actually throw.
The fort is everything; only room for friends, and you.
Was there ever a truly safe hill for sledding?
One without the sharp drop into the half-frozen creek?
A sledding hill without that fence at the end,
Or that busy street with cars whizzing by past the curb,
Threatening to drown, decapitate, or drive over you?
Soaked to the bone, soaked through seven solid layers,
Stubbornly ignoring frostbitten feet and swollen hands,
Struggling with your sled back up to the top of the hill,
Standing in line behind the big kids, you spot your sister,
Shivering from the cold; you're suddenly shivering, too.
I was able to recreate all of that winter magic, as an adult;
My own sons, layered and stuffed into impossibly small snowsuits.
We made our own dirty snowmen; sturdy snow forts;
And sledded down unsafe hills; scraping swollen knuckles;
Stubbornly shivering as we stayed too long.
It's snowing, and there's a family of deer in my suburban yard,
Taking refuge on the softer land, ground deliberately layered
With the trees' insulating debris and evergreen ground cover.
There's spirit here; they know it's safe from predators,
A perfect place to digest their food and nibble a bit more.
They startle when I open the door to scatter birdseed,
Standing perfectly still, once more, when they hear my voice,
Softly reassuring them there's no reason to run away.
They're covered with snow, and one is trying to lick it off of the other.
The snow is falling fast, and I'm smiling again.
Posted by bigtree | Sat Jan 7, 2017, 05:58 PM (15 replies)
...don't be lulled into believing he's just some clown. Whatever he is, he's going to be in control of one of the most powerful offices in the world.
What I would say to those who are dismissing the importance of paying attention to the raving lunatic, is that we are challenged to respond forcefully to both Congress and the presidency. However, the Executive's potential to employ a Bush-era disregard for the Constitution, the law, or the will of the people, with impunity, is the biggest danger we face.
Think of all of our major military engagements initiated by the POTUS and rubberstamped by Congress, afterward. IMO, that power to war is one of the most dangerous prospects, recalling, as if it were yesterday, how consequential Bush as president turned out to be after 911, and how his decisions in office transformed the nation.
In addition, the President has control and responsibility over immigration, environmental concerns, health, finances... all of which he can exercise and enact almost unilaterally, to a degree which affects the nation.
Trump can also be easily manipulated in the exercise of that Executive power. That terrifies and concerns me more than the deliberations of Congress, which, quite frankly, at least affords our party a voice, albeit a less influential one in the minority.
Posted by bigtree | Sat Dec 31, 2016, 04:17 PM (5 replies)
Most Americans couldn't fathom throwing money around like the Trumps, much less flaunt it the way that family does. There's going to be a point where even their most delusional supporters, imagining that Trump is going to make them wealthy, as well, are no longer going to be able to stomach the garishness of the first family, as working-class folks struggle to provide for their basic needs.
I was thinking about this as I read where the Trump sons who make sport out of killing threatened animals, were offering a chance for some average Joe or Jill to accompany them on a hunt, for a mere $500,000 to $1 million.
___Donors willing to write a check for $500,000 to $1 million would be granted access to Donald J. Trump the day after he is sworn in as president, along with the opportunity to participate in a multiday hunting or fishing trip with his oldest sons, Donald Jr. and Eric.
Once this got out the sons backed off from the hunting trip, but the event is still scheduled, no doubt finding more than a few donors willing to pay and play.
Trump and his family can dodge accountability under the law. When they get caught, they just pay their relatively paltry fines and move on. Yet, most Americans can't begin to operate their financial affairs with the impunity the Trumps enjoy.
Most of our elected officials are wealthy. If they're not when they get to Washington, they soon will be, if they learn how to network their influence out into the corporate world.
Harry Truman was quoted saying: "You can't get rich in politics unless you're a crook." Great deal of truth there.
In his 1960 book, Mr. Citizen, Mr. Truman reflected on his refusal to accept the numerous corporate offers, even though he famously struggled to maintain his income when he left the presidency:
"I turned down all of those offers. I knew that they were not interested in hiring Harry Truman, the person, but what they wanted to hire was the former President of the United States. I could never lend myself to any transaction, however respectable, that would commercialize on the prestige and the dignity of the office of the Presidency."
Trump comes into office spinning off of a lifetime of privilege with virtually no substantial effort made which most Americans would understand as charitable or altruistic. Trump has no civic experience; no local government involvement; no political internships; and operates a 'charity' foundation which looks and functions like his personal slush fund.
It shouldn't surprise anyone to find this is the way he'll operate as president. He'll lead with his self-interest, all the while, insisting what's best for him is what's best for the rest of us, as he has throughout the campaign. He has zero experience in governance, but that's not his goal. He's coming to the WH to consolidate every measure or expenditure contributing to the public good he can manage, and squeeze and funnel whatever resources he can find into his golden chalice, with a miserly pittance devoted to measures benefiting the majority of us.
...and I go back to Harry Truman (1945), for contrast:
"The people will not go back to the day when their destinies were controlled by tight little groups of selfish men who made their policies in secret and exercised economic control over millions of people," he said.
Jesus, Harry, look at us now. I'm waiting for the country to get to the point of anger and resentment over these elitist grifters feathering their privileged nests with our taxes (which Trump boasts of avoiding), and assumedly, every other decision he makes in office, while most of us scramble to pay our basic bills.
Posted by bigtree | Wed Dec 21, 2016, 11:13 AM (5 replies)
Kurt Eichenwald @kurteichenwald 15h15 hours ago
If Trump wants 2 end suspicions he's 2 close 2 Russia, shuld stop considering ppl 4 office who pose in Putin selfies http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/2016/12/06/russia-ties-complicate-exxon-ceo-rex-tillersons-prospects-trump-secretary-state-gig
Russia ties complicate Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson's prospects for secretary of state gig
As head of Exxon Mobil, the world's 8th largest company, Tillerson has plenty of negotiating experience and face time with world leaders -- though limited experience when it comes to the gamut of issues the nation's chief diplomat deals with.
Kurt Eichenwald @kurteichenwald 15h15 hours ago
Romney or Huntsman would skate into confirm as Sec State. Tillerson less qualified & would be an endless battle. Would Trump really do this?
Mark Murray @mmurraypolitics 6m6 minutes ago
@mitchellreports reports that Trump has chosen Exxon-Mobil's Rex Tillerson to be his Sec of State.
Posted by bigtree | Sat Dec 10, 2016, 01:50 PM (4 replies)
You know what's f'd up?
Every time Pres. Obama won an election, there was an endless drumbeat of concern that he was going to ignore the millions who voted against him. Not that the president ever intended to tune out his republican opponents. He practically bent over backward to include them in his policy deliberations, and in the policies, themselves.
We all know that Trump will treat those who didn't vote for him like traitors who deserve some kind of vengeance. It's his style to retaliate, and retaliate he most certainly will.
This isn't the first time I've wondered about when the time will come for someone to take my own interests, progressive Democratic interests, into account. It seems like every election cycle, no matter the outcome, there's always a push to accommodate conservative voters like it was heresy to disregard them. Indeed, this very election produced calls from Democratic and republican quarters to focus even more on whatever concerns white working-class voters may have, even though it appears the Trump WH will do little else.
I'm still waiting for an election cycle's end where the consensus was that we need to seriously address the needs and concerns of groups of Americans who have consistently done worse in our economy - namely, black and Latino Americans, respectively. They are our party's most dependable voters, yet there's always a push to look beyond and above them when the appropriations start. We never get around to their communities; never get around to issues which disproportionately affect them. Instead, they're scapegoated as obstacles to whatever politicians expect for the majority.
Almost every president elected has pledged to be the leader of ALL of our citizens, but Trump will only recognize those who kowtow to him. What these communities will actually provide us with is a true yardstick to measure whether Trump is president of all Americans, or merely for a select few, like the thousand fortunate Carrier workers who just got the better end of the bribe he and Pence gave to the company.
Others who have regularly been left out of consideration at policy time, like women, disabled individuals, and members of the LGBTQ community, are also benchmarks for the Trump presidency in translating his and his supporters' victory into success for the rest of the country. As those of us with the most acute needs which have gone unaddressed and unsolved over the decades go, so goes the nation.
Posted by bigtree | Thu Dec 1, 2016, 10:50 AM (5 replies)
...rules and norms Democrats have been held to at risk of their careers or livelihoods if they strayed a millimeter are being brushed aside at lightning speed for Donald Trump.
That shouldn't surprise anyone here, but it's still stunning how much bashing Democrats have taken on over the years for even suggestions of impropriety, or, been subject to endless hearings and investigations for unsubstantiated claims about conflicts of interest or influence-peddling.
Contrast that against the imminent inauguration of a billionaire with hundreds of business interests all over the globe, assuming control of the Executive Branch. Trump claims today that he'll remove himself from these business interests, but without a strict blind trust, that is just going to be another one of his brazen lies. If he's going ahead with his plan to put his children in charge of his assets, that's an even deeper deception.
I've heard something at least twice on the news today which is disturbing. The suggestion was made - once as a reflection of Trump's thinking, the other as an outright assertion - that since the voting public ALREADY KNEW of Trump's potential conflicts when they elected him, questions of impropriety rest on their judgment (a minority of total voters), as if ethics and adherence to our nation's laws is only accountable to a national lottery.
Who missed the wall-to-wall coverage of Hillary's emails? Almost all of the prominent discussion of Trump's financial conflicts came up AFTER the election. Now the press is reporting one Trump outrage after the other with the routine of a weather report, as if he's some kind of inviolable monarch.
These are strange and dangerous times. The reason there's so much uncertainty as to whether a Trump presidency will be held accountable is all about the republican majority in Congress and their demonstrated indifference and hypocrisy where their own misconduct and criminality is concerned.
Most of the media has already accepted as a given that Trump won't be subject to the same standard of judgment from republicans that Pres. Obama or Hillary Clinton have endured, and, having relied for decades on republican faux-outrage against Democrats to dominate their political coverage, don't seem to be able to find any moral center of their own where Trump is concerned.
I'm not a pessimist. I wake up every day looking and expecting to make a positive difference. I believe in our democracy, and I believe in our democratic system of government. There is a point, however, where those institutions can turn so dramatically and so destructively against our lives and interests that our government becomes a real and present danger. I think that's where we're heading.
Many in the public and press living in autocracies like the one Trump is deliberately developing our nation's government into, either revolt against them, or gradually settle into accepting whatever they can get out of the corrupt regimes that accommodates their interests or needs. Witness the press today, reduced to responding to tweets instead of demanding full access, full press availability, instead of merely advancing pronouncements from our future president as legitimate political discourse.
Witness the instant impotency of the press when confronting a future White House that doesn't give a shit what they think or say. Hell, if you can't hold the President of the United States accountable... witness.
Posted by bigtree | Wed Nov 30, 2016, 02:50 PM (6 replies)
I'M staying home this Thanksgiving and our two adult boys have only to travel the stairway to the upstairs to eat a decent meal and and grace my wife and I with their interminable charm and wit. It's nice to not have to gussy-up and head out to the in-laws. Anyway, we're the elders now, all of our parents passed on.
I'm going to have football on (my favorite sleep aid) and a rare Thanksgiving night off from work . . . Who can ask for anything more?
____I haven't always shunned traveling to see relatives on the holidays. Nowadays there's just us 'kids' to gather together, since all of the old ones are gone. There's also a sibling each on both sides of our family missing from the table, as well, so getting together for the holidays these days is less ordered and optional. But there was a time when traveling to see the in-laws for the holidays was a pretty big deal.
Posted by bigtree | Wed Nov 23, 2016, 10:09 PM (9 replies)
Out of all the people to worry over after the Trump-bomb hit last Tuesday, some folks are wringing their hands over the plight of the 'white working-class,' and what the Democratic party might have done to woo them away from voting for a man who makes David Duke blush.
Even one of our own party's candidates in this election couldn't resist sending out sweet-nothings of regret to the wwc into the miasmic air of the 2016 postmortem.
Without a tinge of self-consciousness that he's not actually a true member of the Democratic party, Bernie Sanders, nonetheless, anguished openly this week about what he claims is the inability of Democrats to "talk to white working-class."
Bernie Sanders @BernieSanders
In an interview on 'CBS This Morning' Sanders insisted that Hillary "...should have won the election by 10 percentage points. The question is why is it that millions of white working class people who voted for Obama turned their backs on the Democratic Party?Ē
The first answer to that question is that, obviously, Trump was a different candidate than Romney and McCain. He had a lurid and prevaricating campaign appeal which would have been an anathema to his republican predecessors. I'm not talking about the types of campaign rhetoric that came from Sanders during the primary that Hillary's 'Wall Street connections' meant that she couldn't or wouldn't represent the working class. Whatever the truth is about Hillary and that nebulous campaign meme, 'Wall Street connections' couldn't be all that important to anyone who voted for this ruthless capitalist who's demonstrated nothing but antipathy to the people who've worked for him over the entirety of his privileged life.
Trump appealed to the insecurity of some white Americans who have been convinced their share of the nation's economic benefits are being unfairly threatened by blacks, immigrants, and anyone else who dare assert their rightful role in our country's economy. The often-bigoted, demagogue left no dog-whistle behind as he promised to restore these psychologically-displaced souls to their assumed place of prominence in society.
Of course, Hillary Clinton ran a different campaign than Sanders or Trump, but she also ran a markedly different one than Barack Obama. Hillary certainly did reach out to the working-class in her campaign. While white working-class voters may well have questioned her embrace of the Obama economic record, Hillary also enmeshed her own economic proposals with a pragmatic, yet populist appeal which echoed the progressive bent of the rival Sanders and O'Malley campaigns.
In an August address in Warren, Michigan Hillary outlined her economic plan and views:
"...there are common-sense things that your government could do that would give Americans more opportunities to succeed," she said. "Why donít we do it? Because powerful special interests and the tendency to put ideology ahead of political progress have led to gridlock in Congress."
As solid and compelling as that appeal may have been, candidate Clinton went even further. Hillary took a leap ahead of her opponents (and history) and offered a full and unapologetic voice to the needs and concerns of the black community. Most notably, in a historic speech in Harlem, the first for any presidential candidate, Hillary directly challenged the white community to accept that a majority of black lives and livelihoods have consistently lagged far behind white American's opportunities, successes, and well-being, and that white economic gains had often come at the expense of their black counterparts.
"We face a complex set of economic, social, and political challenges," Hillary spoke. "They are intersectional, they are reinforcing, and we have got to take them all on. So itís not enough for your economic plan to be break up the banks. You also need a serious plan to create jobs, especially in places where unemployment remains stubbornly high. You need a plan to address the generations of underinvestment and neglect."
If there was one message the white working-class got from Hillary in this campaign, it almost certainly was that black lives were going to matter in her presidency. Hillary challenged white Americans to acknowledge their economic successes and take heed of those who have been left behind in the recovering economy. More importantly, Hillary insisted that white Americans should recognize and appreciate the role race plays in the failure of the black community to fully benefit from the economic recovery.
"For many white Americans," Hillary said, "itís tempting to believe that bigotry is largely behind us. That would leave us with a lot less work, wouldnít it? But more than half a century after Rosa Parks sat and Dr. King marched and John Lewis bled, race still plays a significant role in determining who gets ahead in America and who gets left behind."
That seemingly obvious reasoning should be commonplace in our political debate, but these truths have been overlooked throughout our nation's history. Black economic gains have always lagged behind those of white Americans, certainly not just during the Obama administration. In the present economy, blacks have experienced the slowest economic recovery of any group of Americans.
from 2015, Phillip Bump at WaPo:
In 2014, a Pew Research Center report found that only whites had seen their wealth rise during the Obama economic recovery:
"White households' median wealth ticked up to $141,900 in 2013, up 2.4% from three years earlier... Net worth for black households dropped by a third during that time to $11,000. Hispanic families experienced a 14% decline in wealth to $13,700.
There's no question that the Obama recovery has not been as robust as those of his predecessors. Both Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, respectively, saw far more dramatic economic gains than Obama has managed, his peers' admittedly experiencing much less severe recessions than he had to overcome.
Arguably, black Americans are deserving of the most attention when considering the effects of 'economic anxiety' over the pace of recovery, but some politicians and others have reverted at the end of this election to handwringing over the economic condition of folks who have, overall, reaped the lion-share of any vestiges of recovery from the record lows that marked the Bush recession. It's not hard to imagine whose needs, interests, and concerns will struggle to take precedence in the next economic debate.
I understand the need of politicians to pander to the people they wish would vote for them. That's mostly what's happening with the focus of politician's concerns, perversely, falling on those folks whose financial gains make up almost all of whatever can be regarded as Pres. Obama's economic success story.
But it should be remembered, with admiration and regard, that our Democratic nominee for president in 2016 put those whose lives have actually been hardest hit by our economy at the very forefront of her campaign.
Posted by bigtree | Wed Nov 16, 2016, 04:25 PM (10 replies)
Jennifer Epstein @jeneps 3m3 minutes ago
Posted by bigtree | Mon Nov 7, 2016, 12:26 AM (4 replies)