Whiplash, Conspiracy Theories and Damn Lies

Last night the US Navy responded to the atrocities committed by the Syrian government and it’s leader, Bashar Assad, by bombing a Syrian air base.  The reaction from around the country and around the world has been highly varied, as you might expect.

Our two most senior foreign affairs officials – Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley – are probably visiting their chiropractors today, after having their heads spun around in the last week.  On Thursday March 30, she said “Our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out”.  On the same day, Tillerson added “I think the status and the longer-term status of President Assad will be decided by the Syrian people”.  We can’t be sure what they meant, and there was no confirmation from anyone in the government that the policy towards Assad and Syria had or hadn’t changed.  But this retoric certainly made the point that the US was not looking to take actions against the Assad regime.  And this comes against the backdrop of years of tweets and (actual) statements by our fearless leader that the US had no business being engaged in any way, shape or form in the Syrian conflict.

Today’s a new day, I guess.

Actually, this highlights an issue that has been on my mind since Drump first rode down the gilded elevator to launch his assault on democracy in the United States: anyone who votes for him because they think they agree with his position on any issue is letting themselves be conned.  Drump doesn’t have any positions; or more to the point, he is at various times in every side of every issue.  Planned Parenthood?  Support and then not.  Medical coverage for everyone? Support and then not.  Stay out of Syria? Support and then not.  If you believe any given thing that comes out of his mouth (or across his Twitter feed), you are the sucker born today.

In the meantime, the Alt-Right goons who have been having fainting spells from being so excited that they have a nutcase of their own in the White House are up in arms over Drump’s Syrian Adventure.  Mike Chernovich, an alt-right blogger who was recommended for a Pulitzer Price by Beevis, went on a livestream last night.  According to Politico, “Cernovich also expressed his belief that Syrian dictator Bashar Assad had been framed for the chemical attack, though he had not decided by whom. “It was probably ISIS did it to themselves,” he said on the livestream, while also tweeting, “Did McCain give ‘moderate rebels’ (ISIS) in Syria poison gas and Hollywood style film equipment?”

(http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/04/trump-alt-right-syria-war-214998)

Which brings us to the question of what happens next.  CNN was reporting earlier today that Pentagon briefers were suggesting that, although they didn’t have all the facts yet, Russia may have been actively involved in the barbaric chemical attack – not just a background supporter and defender of Assad.  If this is true, it would be shocking and disheartening and scary, all at the same time.  So let’s play a mind game: imagine that Sean Spicer announces at his next briefing that he has evidence that the Russians were involved.  Or, that he announces they’ve looked carefully at the evidence and determined that the Russians weren’t involved.

Can we believe him?

The Ides of Trump

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Please Mr. Postman look and see

If there’s a letter in your bag, oh yeah, for me

“Please Mr. Postman”, by Georgia Dobbins, William Garrett, Freddie Gorman, Brian Holland, Robert Bateman

I plan to do this. Just an idea posted by my friend, Audrey Cownie.

On March 15th, each of us will mail Donald Trump a postcard or letter that publicly expresses our opposition to him. And we, in vast numbers, from all corners of the world, will overwhelm the man with his unpopularity and failure. And most importantly, we will bury the White House post office in pink slips, all informing Donnie that he’s fired.

Each of us — every protester from every march, each Congress-calling citizen, every boycotter, volunteer, donor, and petition signer — if each of us writes even a single postcard or letter and we put them all in the mail on the same day, March 15th, well: you do the math.

No alternative fact or Russian translation will explain away our record-breaking, officially-verifiable, warehouse-filling flood of fury. Hank Aaron currently holds the record for fan mail, having received 900,000 pieces in a year. We’re setting a new record: over a million pieces in a day, with not a single nice thing to say.

So sharpen your wit, unsheathe your writing implements, and see if your sincerest ill-wishes can pierce Donald’s famously thin skin.

Prepare for March 15th, 2017, a day hereafter to be known as #TheIdesOfTrump

Write one postcard. Write a dozen! Take a picture and post it on social media tagged with #TheIdesOfTrump ! Spread the word! Everyone on Earth should let Donnie know how he’s doing. They can’t build a wall high enough to stop the mail.

Then, on March 15th, mail your messages to:

  So-called President Donald J. Trump

  The White House

  1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

  Washington, DC 20500

It might just be enough to make him crack.

(Not my original post but someone else’s great idea!  Copy and repost.)

——————————–

Another day, another Muslim ban

20170129-noban-nowall-march-_em10169

… and when they came for me, there was no one left to protest

So late this morning the Drumpster administration announced that the President had signed a new, improved travel ban.  Not that there was ever anything wrong with the old one.  This is, of course, an attempt to run around the various court orders from across the country the stopped implementation of the old Muslim ban.  And no one used the words “Muslim ban” or even “ban” in the announcement, nor in the text of the executive order itself.

I have actually read most of the executive order.

It reads very neutrally, expressing no “opinions” other than the ones required by statute: e.g., that the President “proclaims” that this is all a good idea under various laws.

It gives all kinds of background, including a somewhat accurate history of the orginal order, the history of how the six covered nations were either designated previously as “state sponsors of terrorism” or are currently dangerous places to be.

It describes how caring the DHS will be as it studies whether to grant waivers to special individuals.  At the same time, it justifies suspending “temporarily” all entry to reduce the workload on the poor workers at all of the agencies who would need to do extra investigative work while we “figure out what the hell is going on”.

The order also goes to great lengths to try and cure some of the specific problems that were cited in the various court orders that stopped the original order.  For instance, there’s a long list of exceptions for certain travelers from the six countries: dual citizens of other countries, green card holders, family members of permenant residents of the use, travelers with NATO visas, etc.  It’s quite a long list.  There is no mention of preference to religious minorities having preference.  There’s accomodation for travelers who currently have valid visas.  All in, a naive reader would think this was a clear-headed and rational response to a dangerous world.  Except, of course, we know it’s not that.

We all know that this is born out of the Dumpster’s long standing discriminatory bias against Muslims.  We know because he said it a thousand times throughout the campaign, after his election, and when Ban Classic was introduced.  We know it because one of the chief idiot Drumpettes, Rudy “Lock her up” Guilliani went on television and said he helped craft Ban Classic so it would ban Muslims, but not appear to ban Muslims.

The order suspends all refugees from entering the country for 120 days, and reduces the number that will be accepted in 2017 to 50,000.  I think this is the most problematic part of the entire fiasco.  Refugees are, by definition, people who are fleeing from horrible situations – war, famine, persecution.  They are helpless; they need help to simply survive.  This country has a mixed bag about refugees.

One of our origin stories,  taught to every schoolchild every fall, is that the Pilgrems were refugees: fleeing religious persecution, they traveled to this country, where they found a safe place to live and were helped by the existing denizens.  Every Thanksgiving play in this country features the Native Americans who helped the refugees from England survive.  By the way, most of this is fantasy and didn’t actually happen like that – but the point is that we believe it to be part of our heritage.

Another part of our refugee history is the shameful exclusion of Jewish refugees in the years leading up to World War II.  As a result, an unknown number of people died at the hands of the Nazis.  Why were they excluded?  Well, the private reason almost certainly involved anti-semitism, but the public reason was that they could harbor spies and terrorists amongst them, since they were coming from Germany and other countries they controlled.  Sound familiar?

I accept that in admitting people from a war-torn region where there are many who harbor ill-feelings about the West and the US will probably allow a small number who go on to commit serious acts of violence in our country.  I admit that some people already in this country might very well die as a result.  But I wonder: where is our bravery?  We celebrate those who take risks to save others: police, fire fighters, soldiers, sailors, the man who jumps in the lake to save a drowning child.  We encourage our children to stand up to bullies and support others, even when it means that they may be hurt – physically or emotionally – in the process.  Yet here is an opportunity for all of us to share in the risk – the risk that there might be some harm, while at the same time that we are guaranteed to save the lives of tens of thousands or more. Why is it that we are unwilling to take this small risk?  I find it shameful and cowardly.

Let me be very clear.  I think we need to have secure borders.  I think we need to take care of who is allowed into our country.  I don’t want to die from a terrorist act, nor do I wish my children, grandchildren, friends or anyone to be hurt.   But a policy born out of fear, hatred and bigotry still smells like a pig even after you put new lipstick on it.

We must #Resist the ban.

 

And Trump’s position is …

I can’t believe I am writing about that critical national issue: which public toilet should people use.  

One of the things I got right during the presidential campaign was that anyone who took the Trumpster’s word for anyone was falling for a con.  The man said any number of things, took many sides of many issues, and often seemed to be channeling the last person he spoke to (is that Steve Bannon I just saw leaving his office?).  Famously, he spoke in favor of “LBGT and Q” rights in his nomination acceptance speech, although it seemed to me at the time that he wasn’t sure what all of the letters meant.  On January 31 (just 3 1/2 weeks ago) he issued the following statement:

“President Donald J. Trump Will Continue to Enforce Executive Order Protecting the Rights of the LGBTQ Community in the Workplace

President Donald J. Trump is determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community. President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, just as he was throughout the election. The President is proud to have been the first ever GOP nominee to mention the LGBTQ community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression. The executive order signed in 2014, which protects employees from anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination while working for federal contractors, will remain intact at the direction of President Donald J. Trump. ”

(https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/31/president-donald-j-trump-will-continue-enforce-executive-order)

Then, this week, his Education and Justice Departments issued a joint letter rescinded a prior letter issued by those departments under the Obama administration that gave protections to transgender students (the “T” in LGBTQ) in using the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity.   So we seem to have a case where the Trumpster said one thing during the election, then did another.  This isn’t the first and won’t be the last time, folks. 

Let’s start by noting that the question of which bathroom people can or should use has risen to a national debate.  Which is sad, very sad. But let’s examine the underlying issue and what some people claim they are trying to accomplish.   

It appears to me that some people have a gender identity that is at odds with their external sexual identity at birth.  People born male feel female, and vice versa.  For many reasons, this creates a lot of stress in their lives, and some of them are able to deal with it by switching their public identify from female to male, or male to female, to match what they feel.   One of the most famous in recent times was Caitlyn Jenner, who spend 60 years of her life as Bruce Jenner.   I do recall the Trumpster saying she could use any bathroom she liked in Trumpster Tower.  

So here we have a person, “Kim”, who dresses and looks like a man (or boy), or like a woman (or girl).  Kim needs to use a public toilet.  Which room should they choose?  Door #1, or door #2?  If Kim chooses the door that matches his/her public identity, most likely no one will notice anything unusual.  This would of course violate the inane law in North Carolina.  Or, Kim could follow the NC law and what the proponents of the above Trumpster Letter and choose the door that matches his/her biological or birth identity, and which is contrary to the public identity.  So bystanders would see a woman walking into the Men’s Room, or a man walking into the Woman’s Room.   How well would that go over?

I guess – because I can’t imagine what people are really thinking –  that the supporters of the Trumpster’s latest view on this are worried about one of two things.  

They could be worried about their modesty.  But as I understand it, Woman’s Rooms are 100% stalls (I’ve never been in one myself).  And Kim would most likely choose to use a stall if he went into the Men’s Room.  

Or they could be worried that Kim, who was born a male but is now female, will rapea  “real” woman if she is allowed to use the Woman’s Room.   Now, I could have missed it, but the crime wave of such incidents seems to not exist.  Nor is there any reason to believe that this is the most likely way that a sexual predator who choose to attack their victim.  Because sneaking into the toilet while cross-dressed to commit rape means you assume no one will be there to witness the attack, so why go to the trouble of putting on a costume?  And, if you’re assuming others will be there, are you planning to rape in front of witnesses?   

The whole thing doesn’t make any sense to me.  And by the way, this latest ruling is coming from the administration headed by the man/boy who boasted about sexually assaulting women.  For sure, don’t let him anywhere near the Woman’s Room.   He wouldn’t even wait, he’d just grab’em by the … .

If you won’t speak its name, you can’t be serious about fighting it

So for some unknown reason, the Trumpster finally acknowledged the existence of anti-Semitism, and expressed the view that it “is horrible and it’s going to stop and it has to stop”.  He stopped far short of promising to do anything about it, as he has done with any number of other apocalyptic threats he sees in the US: Islamic terrorism, illegal immigration, environmental protection regulations, Meryl Streep, etc.  

Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, issued the following statement:

“The president’s sudden acknowledgement of anti-Semitism is a Band-Aid on the cancer of anti-Semitism that has infected his own administration,” Goldstein said in a statement. “His statement today is a pathetic asterisk of condescension after weeks in which he and his staff have committed grotesque acts and omissions reflecting anti-Semitism, yet day after day have refused to apologize and correct the record.”

Anne Frank, 1943 (Source: Wikipedia)


In case you didn’t know, Anne Frank and her family were denied visas by the US, in large part because the US government significantly tightened visa requirements because they believed that German refugees might be spies or terrorists (the Franks were German, although they had fled to the Netherlands by 1941).  Sound familiar?

Ivanka Kushner posted on Facebook yesterday, perhaps about the recent spate of bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers across the country, and somehow managed to be completely opaque about what she was talking about or which group was actually being targeted: 
“America is a nation built on the principles of religious tolerance and respect for all faiths,” she wrote. “We must protect our houses of worship & religious centers. #JCC”.

Do you know what she’s talking about? If you’re not Jewish would you understand the hashtag JCC?