Whistling In the Wind

Last week’s news was filled with reports that Trump was told back in January of the potential spread of the new coronavirus in the US and that millions of lives would be in peril unless he took immediate action to keep Americans home. Which, of course, he didn’t. Instead, he downplayed the threat and told us that everything was under control. Which, of course, it wasn’t. Unbelievably, in March when he finally admitted that this was serious stuff, he seemed “baffled” (according to his associates) by how events had played out. He said “no one could have predicted” such an epidemic. Which, of course, plenty of people did. These news reports were accompanied by logical, factual, unassailable evidence in the form of emails, memos, and quotes from administration officials as well as analysis of the results of his failure to act.

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Plenty Of Blame To Go Around

Chuck Todd wasn’t mincing words last week when he suggested that Donald Trump has blood on his hands. Lots of people are making the case that the responsibility for many of the American deaths from COVID-19 can be laid directly at the feet of Donald Trump. And not in an esoteric “the buck stops here” kind of way.

Of course, no one is blaming him for the virus, but Trump’s actions delayed and weakened our country’s response in the early days of the epidemic. His lies and incompetence caused many (including some state and local officials) to question and even flout the advice of the medical community. He has failed to competently use the power of the federal government in a coordinated and effective way, leaving states to fend for themselves; it certainly hasn’t helped that he’s made federal assistance to states contingent on governors kissing his butt. Trump’s early characterization of the virus as a hoax, his administration’s slow response to news of the growing threat, and his public downplaying of the severity of the situation, all coupled with his daily barrage of lies, exaggerations, and misinformation have made a deadly situation deadlier than it had to be.

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A Man Above the Law

You can add Attorney General Bill Barr to the list of people happily enabling Trump’s demagogic tendencies. After blatantly mischaracterizing the results of the Mueller investigation, Barr’s most recent move has been to intervene in the sentencing of Trump loyalist, convicted liar, and self-proclaimed dirty trickster, Roger Stone. Barr’s interference has officially ended any pretense that American justice in the Trump era is fair and impartial, or that our criminal justice system is immune from political influence. This move has dramatically undercut one of the foundational tenets of the American system.

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The Week That America Died

This is the week that I lost my faith.

This is the week that Donald Trump was acquitted of charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress by a Republican Senate so cowed by his bullying that they are willing to empower him to shred the very document that they have sworn to protect and defend. He has now claimed total vindication and is completely untethered from any real or perceived limitations on his self-enriching, autocratic, vindictive tendencies.

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Repost: My Fear and the (New) American Way

[January 29, 2020: While watching the sham of an Impeachment Trial today, I was reminded of this post which I originally wrote in 2016, shortly after the election. Sadly, I realized that we are now living in my nightmare scenario.]

I’ve been told that a good way to help with anxiety is to identify in detail the thing you are most concerned will happen. This is the Worst-Case Scenario approach, and the theory is that sometimes specifically identifying what we fear can help us realize that our anxiety may be unfounded. So I challenged myself to name the thing that I am most afraid of regarding a Trump Presidency.

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How To Beat a Bully

I get a knot in the pit of my stomach when I listen to the current occupant of the White House. The rambling incoherence is bad enough, but I really get dispirited from the taunting and the belittling and the name calling. And from the way his loyal followers and trusted advisers stand behind him and give him encouragement. It’s so ugly. So familiar. It evokes such visceral images of high school that I can practically feel the acne erupting.

If you mentally superimpose an image of a school cafeteria behind him when he speaks, Trump’s behavior becomes crystal clear: The school bully, emboldened by his minions standing behind him. They snigger when he mocks the kid with the disability. The pretty girlfriend at his side smiles her bloodless smile when he calls the smart girl names. They all laugh when he cracks a joke at someone else’s expense. They whoop and encourage him.

Around them, the other kids stand uncomfortably, looking down at their shoes, not wanting to say anything, because then the attacks will surely be turned on them. Better to stay quiet and safe. Out of the line of fire.

The bully isn’t the popular kid. No one actually likes him. But there will always be those kids who are broken enough inside that they’re willing to latch onto him. Sad, lonely, unhappy people who find a sense of belonging with other sad, lonely, unhappy people. They like the security that comes from being part of his crowd. And the bully draws his power from the ugliness that they feed back to him, like some perverse super-villain. Without them, his power would vanish.

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Who Are You To Judge?

The concept of judgment has been on my mind a lot lately. Why are people so reluctant to judge? Why do we assume that we shouldn’t be judged by others? Why do we condemn people who judge? And why do we reject our responsibility to examine the words and actions of our elected leaders and to form opinions about their character?

Coincidentally, judging came up just yesterday in a conversation with my friend “Cynthia.” Cynthia supports the president (yes, it is still possible to have friends on the other side of the political spectrum), and our conversation was in the context of his idiotic rambling speech about wind. She defended him, once again — this time by saying that not everyone has the gift of oration and after all, aren’t we all misunderstood from time to time? She went on to say that in spite of all she’s seen and heard from him, she didn’t and couldn’t know what’s in his mind or in his heart. And then: “Who am I to judge?

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I have nothing left

I am exhausted.

For two years, we’ve faced a constant assault on our nation’s values, our democratic institutions, and our fellow citizens, especially the most vulnerable among us. Along with the rest of the country, I have watched as:

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Background on the Brett Kavanaugh Nomination for Supreme Court

It absolutely boggles the mind the degree to which the nomination process of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court has dispensed with the norms that the President and Senate have followed in these matters for decades. Continue reading “Background on the Brett Kavanaugh Nomination for Supreme Court”

Hurricane Response vs. Sept. 11th

Last year in Puerto Rico 2,975 people died as a direct result of Hurricane Maria and Trump says they did a “great job.” On the other hand 2,977 people died in the 9/11 attacks (not counting the 19 terrorists) and for that we have spent 17 years at war at the cost of trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives. Chew on that.