Is there any hope that brighter days will follow our winter of discontent?
You know, now that the inauguration is past, we woefully
can reflect on a time when we actually were rooting for
Donald Trump to win the Republican presidential nomination.
Of course, that was when Sen. Ted Cruz was his last-standing
opponent. We figured even Trump would be less dangerous to
our values and not as ruinous to our progress.
And we never thought Trump would win the November election against either Hillary Clinton or Sen. Bernie Sanders. As it turned out, Bernie might have won because he at least would have been able to get all those young Democrats to vote rather than hopelessly stay home.
But there is no point to whining about the election now, like so many Trump supporters like to accuse progressives of doing. Blame the FBI director or the Russians all you want. The reality is that Trump won because not enough young people voted for Hillary in the states that mattered.
I know, rather than complain about a lost election and get upset about what the soon-to-be president says and become scared about what he might do, he should be judged about what he actually has done and will do. So far, it doesn’t look good.
Never have there been so many protests and demonstrations surrounding a president taking office. They will be continuing throughout his presidency in response to the Women’s March on Saturday, when about 500,000.
All these people are not whining; they are angry and afraid, and want to make their anguish clear to the president, his henchmen and Congress.
They are fearful because many of the president-elect’s choices for Cabinet posts are opposed to the progress, however slow, their departments and agencies have made in protecting or advancing the rights and safety of citizens. It’s as if Cruz gave Trump a list from which to pick names.
We know who they are, whether Justice, the EPA, Education, Health and Human Services, HUD, or Labor. That’s what is making so many people afraid even before Trump takes office and his nominees are approved.
Numerous members of Congress boycotted the inauguration and instead will offered moral support to demonstrators and activists. Those lawmakers also are scared because of the GOP’s control over both houses, and many of those Republicans share the regressive views of Trump’s prospective Cabinet.
But what about now, after the swearing-in and the inauguration balls are over, and the dismantling of our progress begins?
Fortunately, we already have some elected officials who are willing to fight or at least stay their own course. And a few of them might offer an alternative to the powers that be in 2020.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, for example, is making herself a vital leader of the opposition to Trump’s government. Recently, she has ripped his nominee for education, severely questioned HUD choice Ben Carson, helped sponsor a bill that would force the president to make public and divest financial conflicts of interest, and backed a bill to thwart a federal religious registry.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also has tried to stand out as a visible foe of the president-elect, saying last week that New York state’s tolerance, progressive minimum wage and investments in education will help address the middle-class fears that handed the election to Trump.
“We all heard the roar on Election Day, and we must respond," Cuomo said. "The nation once again looks to New York to find the way up. ... We will hold the torch high to light the way."
Ultimately, however, it will be up to the people to protect our progress and restore what we have lost and could lose in the coming Trump years.
President Obama offered a strategy recently during his farewell speech in Chicago. He said democracy needs you:
“Not just when there's an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you're tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try talking with one of them in real life. If something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you're disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Stay at it.”
We need a special day to honorstruggle for women's rights
I wonder if anyone yet has started writing a book with the title “Ten
Days That Shook the Nation” after witnessing what the new president
has been doing to our country during the first week and a half after
It was the American journalist and socialist John Reed who wrote
“Ten Days That Shook the World” in 1919 after experiencing the
Russian revolution and the rise of the Bolsheviks. He was in Russia
sympathetically covering the upheaval for the paper “The Masses,”
but never made it back to the U.S. alive.
Surely, Trump’s outrageous actions have not shaken the world like
the Bolsheviks rattled civilization by killing the czar and creating its communist Soviet state. Especially since we have no one to blame but ourselves for electing Trump. We shouldn’t be surprised because anything he is doing was espoused during his run for the presidency.
But our nation and our world are taking notice with nervous jitters, warning of the potential dire consequences that could make the Russian revolution seem like a minor skirmish.
The Doomsday Clock. It is not a coincidence that the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, just three days after Trump’s inauguration, moved it’s “end-of-the-world” clock 30 second closer to midnight. That leaves just two and a half minutes until we’re history in some other civilization’s textbook.
The scientists readily blamed the president’s views on global warming and nuclear militarism for the seconds ticking off on their clock of survival. Last week, the page on climate change was removed from the website of the Environmental Protection Agency, which also was hit with a gag order.
The Bulletin stated that Trump “has made ill-considered comments about expanding the US nuclear arsenal. He has shown a troubling propensity to discount or outright reject expert advice related to international security, including the conclusions of intelligence experts. And his nominees to head the Energy Department and the EPA dispute the basics of climate science.”
Understanding authoritarianism. It is highly unusual for a book published 70 years ago to suddenly become a best seller -- unless the author recently died or, apparently, someone such as Donald Trump becomes president.
George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984” jumped to No. 1 on Amazon’s best-seller list last week, a feat many observers attributed to the new administration’s (Big Brother) problems with truth, “alternate” facts and lies.
Writing in The New York Times last week, Michiko Kakutani stated that the novel presented “A world of endless war, where fear and hate are drummed up against foreigners, and movies show boatloads of refugees dying at sea. A world in which the government insists that reality is not ‘something objective, external, existing in its own right’ -- but rather, ‘whatever the Party holds to be truth is truth’.”
War on the horizon? One of the world’s great peacemakers of our time is worried about what is happening, and his concern is exacerbated by the rise of the Trump presidency.
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev warned in a column in Time magazine last week that “it all looks as if the world is preparing for war.”
Gorbachev was Soviet president when the USSR dissolved in 1991, and earlier he led the movement for a political and economic restructuring of the country. He also instituted policies allowing more freedom and democratic reforms.
“More troops, tanks and armored personnel carriers are being brought to Europe,” he wrote in Time. “NATO and Russian forces and weapons that used to be deployed at a distance are now placed closer to each other, as if to shoot point-blank.”
The U.S. has deployed thousands of troops to Eastern Europe in recent weeks in what has been described as the largest since the Cold War.
Gorbachev added that, “Politicians and military leaders sound increasingly belligerent and defense doctrines more dangerous.”
Immigration crisis. Making good on a vague campaign pledge, Trump on Friday banned entry of refugees to the U.S. for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely, and blocked immigration for 90 days for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Naturally, the action led to crises at major airports and horror stories for many people who should not have been barred from entry. Numerous large protests erupted here and around the globe.
Fortunately, a federal judge at the urging of the ACLU stepped in to halt the deportation of refugees. And the White House had to back off on other parts of its misguided action.
Part of a child’s maturing process involves learning to think before he or she acts. Trump apparently should do some reflecting before making any more mistakes.
Are we 'great again' yet?
No, we are sinking fast
“Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this sun of York.”
This winter, indeed, was one of discontent for the majority of Americans who felt
the country they know and love was slipping away.
John Steinbeck used that quote from Shakespeare’s “Richard III” to highlight his
1961 novel, “The Winter of Our Discontent.” Though the rising of that sun might be
seen as the election of JFK, the book was written before the 1960 political conventions.
Rather, the novel illustrates the greed and corruption that can surface in the
microcosmic corridors of power and in those seeking to enter those halls.
The discontent that has been sweeping our nation this winter is not melting with the snow and continues to grow with spring’s first sprouting buds. The malaise not only infects those who remain shocked by the Trump presidency, but also many of the people suffering through “voter’s remorse’’ as they witness what they have begot.
Though still mostly hidden behind the clouds of a White House in disarray, our glorious sun peaked through last week when Trump and Republican leaders failed to repeal Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act. We all needed a little Vitamin D (for Deliverance) after the dreary winter months.
The president had promised that everybody would have health insurance after his government repealed Obamacare and passed a new law. The GOP plan would have left up to 20 million people without insurance, but Trump endorsed it anyway. Just another failed promise buried in the mud of public opinion.
Before deciding not to bring the repeal up for House vote, some lawmakers reported being swamped with calls that ranged from 100-1 to 1,000-1 against killing Obamacare.
The House had already wasted too much over the past five years trying to repeal the ACA without even having another plan. Time to move on, though the Trump agenda hasn’t and doesn’t offer much hope for sunbathing.
The environment is already taking a beating, from allowing the disposal of toxic coal ash in the Appalachians to giving the go-ahead to the Keystone XL pipeline, actions that the Obama Administration had squashed.
The pipeline is regressive in an age when we need to be moving toward cleaner and renewable energy sources. Mining the Alberta oil sands requires vast amounts of energy for extraction and processing. And with huge oil production from other sources, the demand for even more oil should be questionable because of increasingly efficient or electric cars, and concerns over climate change.
We must worry now, though, that the president’s apparent lack of concern about global warming will set us back decades in attempts to control carbon emissions.
When Trump proposes a 30 percent budget cut for the Environmental Protection Agency and the elimination of numerous regulations, it is easy to understand why so many people are sad or angry, and definitely discontent. One of the impetuses for establishing the EPA back in 1970 was the news of the Cuyahoga River through Cleveland being on fire. The president may force new generations to witness such nightmares.
And we now have an education secretary who wants to transfer public school funding to private schools, which she and her children had attended. That move would especially hurt children with disabilities. Betsy DeVos set new low-bar standards for support for a new president’s Cabinet nominations and only squeaked by because of a yes vote from Vice President Pence.
Next up is tax reform, but with huge budget increases proposed for the military and infrastructure, it is unclear how the president can cut all the taxes he wants -- for corporations, businesses and the middle class. And after the ACA defeat, many financial leaders are worried about passage of tax reform and other pro-business aspects of Trump’s agenda.
I cannot recall a new president so dominating the media like the coverage Trump has been garnering since he took office. Most of it is the president’s fault, as from day-to-day you just don’t know what alternative fact, paranoid rant, public insult or spontaneous outburst or tweet might surface. And the media can’t ignore them.
Yes, it has indeed been a winter of discontent. The hope, however, is that the failure of the ACA repeal is a sign that skies will brighten with much of the president’s remaining regressive agenda also shot down by Democrats and malcontents in his own party.
Trump's first days
have shaken our nation
The fans of George Washington and Abe Lincoln may
feel slighted because their birth dates have been
combined into one Presidents Day holiday. But what
about women, who have yet to have a special day that
calls attention to their struggles for equal rights?
A majority of our population is being ignored each
year when we honor our great citizens with holidays -- because those days recognize men. We don't have one holiday that pays tribute to a woman, except of course Mothers Day, but Fathers Day complements that. Take a look at the holidays and think about it.
New Year's Days are neutral. Martin Luther King was a male civil rights leader. Abe Lincoln and George Washington were presidents (and we know they all have been men). St. Valentine was a man. Memorial Day honors our soldiers killed while fighting in wars. Though women have been killed in the line of duty, until recent years they were not permitted in combat.
The Fourth of July marks the signing of our nation's Declaration of Independence by a group of men. Labor Day began as a union holiday to honor the workingman. And Columbus was a brutal, male explorer who hardly deserves a day of recognition.
Thanksgiving probably should be seen as gender neutral, though most of the folklore surrounding it refers to the male Indian Squanto helping the Pilgrim men with the crops. Christmas, which is a national and religious holiday, honors the birth of a male spiritual leader.
The fascination with men probably shouldn't be surprising since it took the government nearly 140 years to grant women the right to vote. And it wasn't that the Founding Fathers were ignorant of the notion. Our greatest early first lady, Abigail Adams, gave her husband, John, a clear statement of what the new young nation ought to be doing for women.
Referring to the drafting of a new code of laws, Abigail Adams warned, "Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention are not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound to obey the laws in which we have no voice of representation."
The men didn't listen. But today we can make up for the oversight that has marked more than 240 years of American history.
And at this point in history, women are reaching a pinnacle of influence and power, despite and as a result of the November election when voters thwarted the chance to put a woman in the White House for the first time.
Last month, an estimated three to five million people worldwide participated in demonstrations on a day traditionally known for women coming together to support the survival of Roe v. Wade. Planned a day after President Trump’s inauguration, the protests also attracted men because many of the issues -- economic equality, health care, immigration, criminal justice -- go beyond gender.
In effect, the women’s movement became general, encompassing all genders, races, social groups and classes.
Writing in The New York Times magazine on Sunday, Amanda Hess said: “Women led the resistance, and everyone followed. A march for women managed to crowd a broad opposition force onto its platform. … In this moment, it happened that “women” was the one tent large enough to contain almost every major strain of protest against Trump.”
Now women’s march organizers are calling for a general strike: “A day without a woman” at a date to be announced. Perhaps such a strike should be set for the first week of August, which would be a good location on the calendar for a Women’s Rights Day.
An August date could serve as a reminder that our men of power for generations held women at bay by denying them the basic democratic right to vote. Yes, the long battle for women's suffrage finally ended on Aug. 26, 1920 after enough states ratified the 19th Amendment.
What a good opportunity to educate ourselves about the great women who struggled all those years just for the right to vote, and those since who have continued to fight for equality at home, in the workplace, in health care, and in sports.
I guess liberal opponents to the president’s agenda are in trouble. While
millions of immigrants are merely going to be deported, tens of millions of
“leftists” apparently are facing execution at the hands of right-wing
Trumpster militias brandishing 300 million guns and a trillion rounds of
It’s not funny, of course, because it was a columnist's disturbing remark
likely offered for its shock value. I’ve been a liberal pacifist for 50 years,
and the vast majority of liberals also are peace-loving people who are not
arming themselves to oppose the president.
Rather, they are protesting in the streets, lobbying their congressmen,
signing petitions and preparing for the 2018 election. That’s the way change
is supposed to occur in a democracy, rather than by gunning down the
Obviously, those liberal tactics will have to continue in attempts to limit the damage during the coming years.
In a mere five weeks in office, President Trump has succeeded in dividing the nation to an extent that far surpasses any partisan gulf arising during the Clinton, G.W. Bush or Obama administrations. Based on his anemic approval rating, much of country is making Trump sleep in his own bedroom at a time when he’s supposed to be enjoying a 100-day honeymoon.
Coming from the corporate world, the egotist is not familiar with being criticized or overruled. When the courts threw out his immigration ban, he blasted the judges and vowed to come up with a new way to keep people from Muslim nations out of the country.
Are we great again yet?
Insisting that other nations no longer respected us under President Obama, he has proceeded to make matters worse. Mexico doesn’t like us; Canadians chuckle over his election victory; the British aren’t sure they want him speaking to their parliament; and the Europeans can’t understand what’s going on in Washington.
Are we great again yet?
Trump constantly is ripping the media when they call him out for lies and “alternative facts.” Aping authoritarian despots of old, he says the media are an enemy of the people and has even barred some from attending formerly open briefings. He’s refusing to go to the annual Correspondents’ Association dinner because he knows he’ll be roasted, and he can’t handle the heat even when it’s in jest.
If he disagrees with media reporting, such as pointing out that job growth was already under way, or that Obamacare was working, or that ISIS was already being forced to retreat, he calls it “fake news.”
With the Affordable Care Act still on the Trump/GOP chopping block, it helps to point out that 54 percent of Americans approve of the law, according to a national Pew Research Center survey conducted Feb. 7-12.
Are we great again yet?
The president does not like regulations, especially the ones that protect people from the financially risky and environmental excesses of corporate America. The stock market has taken off since the November election not because the bigwigs love Trump, but because they know he’ll ease some of the restrictions put in place to prevent a repeat of the 2008 depression when millions of people were taken to the cleaners.
Trump is expected to propose a budget with tens of billions of dollars in cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, a move that has environmentalists shrieking.
He is “dead set on destroying the commonsense safeguards we all depend on to protect our environment and health, crippling our government's ability to stand up to industrial polluters, and shutting down the voice of the people in those actions that most impact our lives,” according to Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Are we great again yet?
Social programs and some tax deductions for the middle class also are expected to be hit hard, which was to be expected from a president viewed by 64 percent as favoring the wealthy and by 55 percent as caring much less about the poor and minorities.
Tens of millions of families deducted their taxes on their home or other real estate from their federal taxable income in 2016, saving a total of $33 billion. That deduction may be eliminated, along with the exemption for employer-sponsored health insurance.
Also on a “hit list” are the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, Legal Services, AmeriCorps and Planned Parenthood.
How can we ever be great again?