Ah, America. We Have A Problem…

Ah, America. We Have A Problem…

Okay. It’s Official. Donald Trump and his Banana Republicans have rhetorically incited their base to outright hate their Democratic opponents. Whether he acknowledges it or not, his preposterous radical lies are strategically intended to demonize his political rivals and to “stir up his base.” Now some of them are a serious threat to the heart of Democracy in America.

Trump may or may not have specifically intended to prod one or more of his “base” to terrorize the nation via package bombs addressed to his detractors, but in reality that is exactly what he did.  Like the leaders of Russia, China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, etc., he refuses to accept that he has any responsiblity for his actions, in this case his irresponsible acid rhetoric.   It is very important to point out that well into the second day of this continuing saga, his condemnation of these heinous acts has been perfunctory at best.  His immediate instincts are not to bring folks together under the banner of Democracy, but to find a way to be able to blame someone else.  Not at all surprisingly, if it’s not his fault (it never is), the “media” must be to blame.

His strategy is reprehensible, but not new. History tends to repeat itself.

“Baby Boomers” like me, were fathered by American soldiers after they returned from their triumphs over Germany, Italy and Japan in World War II.  Those with first-hand memories of that war and what America and our Allies fought for, are mostly gone by now.  Those who remain are few in number, long in years, and honored, but have little voice left.

We Baby Boomers by default have become the most heavily invested keepers of the lessons taught by those who survived the effort to put down the aggression of Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany and Italy. It’s up to us to remember what was learned in the single largest global event in the lives of our parents.  Their generation paid a heavy price to defeat narcissistic, autocratic bullies, drunk with power and ideas that their supposed superiority gave them a mandate, not to govern, but to rule.  (Sound familiar?) It now falls to us and our progeny to preserve American Democracy’s dedication to the ideals of truth, mutual respect, civil discourse, and to the notion that we are a nation of diverse people who share in equal rights to life, freedom and opportunities for happiness and prosperity.

Unfortunately, that is a very tall order in the context of the polarized politics in America today. The middle ground between the two major parties is now a wide no-man’s land in the middle of an intensely hateful battleground.  Personalities and personal agendas now “trump” fundamental Democratic Ideals of respect for contrary opinions, empathy, and (God forbid) compromise.

In less than two years since taking office, a blustering, malignantly egomaniacal, pathological liar of the highest order has driven a stake into nearly all that Democracy stands for, and opened a huge chasm in American politics.  He clearly incites “his base” to deeply hate Americans who oppose him.  He lies prolifically all the while charging professional journalists, who take great pains to verify all that they report, with creating fake news.  He occasionally admits his lies (Surprise, he finally fessed-up that Middle Eastern terrorists are NOT among the Hondurans’ caravan of would-be immigrants in Mexico. April fools.  Note, however, he has not yet conceded that his ridiculous claim that the caravan was funded by a wealthy Democratic fundraiser was another lie, just a part his harmless little “game.” No harm, no foul. So what.. the fundraiser was sent a pipe bomb.. big deal.

And can you believe it, two weeks before the mid-term election he announces he’s about to roll out an additional 10% tax break for middle class Americans.  Seriously now, can you believe it?   

Yeah.. yeah.. a middle class tax break.. that’s the ticket!

Evidently, no one in Congress or any other corner of the government is aware of this beneficent plan.  His own party, (having further bloated the national debt by enriching corporations and the financial elite with this year’s tax reform) is in the midst of fleecing Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to pay for the emoluments they made to their masters.  And now Trump is dangling another tax break instead.

But they’re not really worried.  We and they know the whole middle class tax cut idea will whither away after the Mid-Term elections are done.  Bring on the April fools again.

Trump figuratively slaps the nation across the face when he boldly justifies his lies by saying, “hey, they worked” (e.g., fooled you suckers again). When anything goes seriously wrong in his administration, which is most of the time, he always, without fail, finds someone else, preferably an enemy, to blame.  He calls this “counter-punching.”  I call it the automatic reaction of a bully when he’s caught out.

The “unbelievable,” has become the norm.  Even when he admits his lies to his base, they love him for it and ask for more.

The snake is selling snake oil and the swamp has fast become a cesspool.

Mockery, mimicry and parody, being the most offensive types of personal bully humor, are top among Trump’s favorite tools in the stand up comedy shows he calls “political rallies.” Trump rallies are where his base comes to re-confirm their baseness.  Members of his own party who he demeaned with derogatory nicknames and relentless ridicule have figuratively crawled on their knees to surrender all semblances of their pride, honor and patriotism before Trump’s Throne.  This is what he thrives on. He wants blind loyalty far more than real integrity from his sycophants.

Wow, what a leader: heartless, cruel, arrogant, degrading, disgraceful, lecherous, amoral and uncivilized.  Is this what defines American Democracy at its best?  Or is this what my father’s generation went to war to defeat?

This last full week of October 2018, in an ugly turn of events, America heard the news that a terrorist or terrorists sent bombs to prominent leaders of the Democratic Party. Coincidentally, all of the bombs’ targets had been specifically named by Trump as his enemies at his hate rallies.  In that event at least one sicko crossed a line that may shift our president from despicable to fatally dangerous.  The escalation of the animosity encouraged by Trump was only a matter of time.  A bunch of lies, innuendo, and grade-school comedy was bound to light a fuse like this.

The survival of our Democracy from enemies from within has been laid on the table.

A certifiably deranged egotist is in the White House.  Now that John McCain is no longer with us, who among Mitch McConnell’s merry band of spineless racists in the Banana Republican Party will step up for Democracy, real Democracy?  Don’t count on many Repugnican legislators, administrators, or judicial officials to step out of line and fight for the rights of all.

Apparently, true Democracy is just not in their DNA.

 

James C, Ash – October 26, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why We Need a Citizen Army

Why We Need a Citizen Army

Note:  

This is a reprint of an article written by a colleague and friend, John Delach, for his blog On the Outside Looking In.  He has graciously given me permission to reprint Why We Need a Citizen Army here.  John’s blogs reflect his no nonsense/great-common-sense nature and his unbiased wisdom.  I sincerely thank him for his strong insights, good humor, friendship and for his permission to present this piece here.  

Jim Ash

Why We Need a Citizen Army

by John Delach

Not too long ago, my grandson, Matthew asked my assistance with a report he had to submit for a high school class. The subject was should we have a military draft? “What do you think, Grandpa?”

Matt knows I’m an old Goldwater conservative, so he did not expect my response: “Absolutely! Citizen-soldiers protect the armed forces from being over used.”

Today we have professional, all-volunteer armed forces including the reserves. The patriotic men and women who choose to join the service want to be there and they bring a degree of commitment and professionalism to all the branches that would be watered down by draftees.

Draftees just want to do their time and get out. Army Reserve and National Guard units would revert to the days when individuals opted for six months of active duty and a six-year reserve commitment to fulfill their required service.

I accept that the commitment and dedication of our professional armed service would surely suffer, especially the Army, but I believe that such a downgrading is a price worth paying to offset the downside of an all-volunteer Army.

Our all-volunteer service has created a new form of separation, not by race, religion, background, education or nationality, but one that basically divides America. We have the few who serve while the rest of us go on with our lives completely removed from their sacrifices as if our endless wars don’t even exist.

Of course, there is public recognition of those who serve. Cosmetic recognition in the form of staged events such as honoring service members at sports events, football and baseball games, the Super Bowl and the World Series. We honor them during Fourth of July patriotic concerts and with pre-planned scripted TV moments showing returning troops surprising spouses and kids (usually at school.) We are conditioned to thank troops for their service and object to any behavior that could disrespect these men and women. They fight while we sprout feel good platitudes.

Meanwhile, we live our lives, attend births, holidays, graduations, marriages and funerals. Life goes on while far in the background, mostly soldiers and Marines suffer and die in lonely places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and hot spots in other Middle Eastern and African locations. We have been engaged in “War Without End” since the attacks of September 11, 2001 and nobody screams, “Isn’t enough, enough?”

We protest if someone slights the flag or football players kneel at the playing of our National Anthem, but our leaders don’t seem too give a damn that we are engaged in two wars, both longer than the sum of all the wars we fought in our nation’s history.

The clock on the Afghan War will tick over to 17 years this October. Iraq, in all its gestations, is right behind it. To date: “More than three million Americans have served in uniform in these wars. Nearly, 7,000 of them have died. Tens of thousands more have been wounded.”

Where is the outrage? Where are the protesters? I find it strangely sad that the old Viet Nam War protesters who I watched fill the green at the top of Main Street in Keene NH, to protest W’s war against Saddam don’t bother to picket any longer. They gave up during Obama’s reign or just became too old.

Instead of outrage over the death and maiming of our greatest national treasure, our young patriots, the protesters march against ICE, the World Trade Organization, Civil War Statues and other causes too stupid to mention.

Meanwhile, soldiers and Marines continue to give their lives for real estate that their bosses abandon in six months. Sadly, they are called on to do this repeatedly. Six month or one-year tours in “the sand box” until they get out, break down, or return maimed or in flag draped coffins.

How many times can the President, the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff believe they can send these brave men and women into harm’s way repeatedly before they break down? Enough is enough! Stop the madness!

The draft would re-establish a basic tenet of our Republic. Historically, a citizen army fights our wars and we need a citizen army to end this abuse of power.

No president since FDR has asked Congress for a Declaration of War. Our Constitution mandates that only Congress can declare that we are at war. Congress, long ago abdicated their authority and signed off on various Executive Orders taking us to war. Korea, Viet Nam, Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom and whatever heroic name we use for that Afghan mess were all mandated using smoke and mirrors.

Presidents and the Congress realize that we, the American public, are content with our all-volunteer armed forces as we abhor the thought of little Johnny or Suzie being drafted and being killed in a war. Those we can’t trust exploit the volunteer army. So long as patriotic men and women volunteer to serve, the beat goes on

During the eight years when Dwight David Eisenhower was president, we had the draft and we didn’t lose one service man in combat. Ike detested putting his soldiers in harm’s way.

Today, we allow our leaders to thoughtlessly discard our sons and daughters, our greatest generation, because we don’t hold these leaders accountable. Shame on us! A draft would re-establish an army of citizen soldiers like our Republic meant it to be.

With a draft, if a future president attempted to dispatch Johnny or Suzie to China or Lower Nowhere without cause, we’d take to the streets for the real deal: “Hell no, we won’t go!.”

Trading the Obama Nation for an Abomination

Trading the Obama Nation for an Abomination

Never in my life did I expect to even consider thinking that I am ashamed of my country, the United States of America, but I truly am.  My father, a proud World War II veteran, must be rolling over in his grave.

My statement is not made lightly, but patriotically. My father risked his life for the American principles that he taught me.  He instilled in me that protecting those principles is a duty.  They need to be protected now.

Donald Trump, a person whose actions and objectives are diametrically opposed to what makes America great, now presides over my country.. He is seriously and purposely attacking the soul of our nation for his own selfish purposes and autocratic aspiration.  We Americans should have a zero tolerance policy for anyone governing our Democracy who blatantly manipulates the Truth with reckless abandon in order to shower himself with undeserved glory.  The man is the personification of an abomination and has not a shred of common decency.  He is dismantling the pillars of strength that have defined our country since its inception.

It is unfathomable that any true American could, for any reason, create the  cruelty of cold-heartedly separating children, including infants, from their downtrodden parents at the border.  He and his sycophantic minions literally decided that stealing babies is the American way to discourage people seeking asylum from corruption and the predators in their native lands.

Do we now really equate innocent victims fleeing from gangs of thugs with the very gangs who prey upon them?  Can we not tell one from the other?  How can we tell these people to legally cross into America at designated border crossings, when those crossings are closed?  When did America become a Catch 22 nation?

The border policy (not law) imposed solely, soullessly, and maliciously by the Trump Administration is despicable.  It is shameful.  It is morally loathsome.  Trump metaphorically pointed a gun at the helpless in an attempt to blackmail legislators into doing his bidding.  When they didn’t comply, he opened fire, disingenuously blaming Democrats for not giving in.  This is the act of a childish bully, not a leader. He has literally and cowardly taken helpless hostages under the American flag and has disgraced that flag in the process.

This is not making America great again.  Trump is trying to re-make America in his own greedy malevolent image. And he’s doing it with the silent complicity of the cowardly Republican leaders and followers who control the Legislative houses of our government. Worse yet, he’s counting on the silent complicity of American citizens as well.  Those who follow or fail to contest evil are themselves accountable for that evil.

Do you see what he is doing to us?

How has America become so fractured that any of us would tolerate, never mind advocate, stealing children to use as pawns in an effort to achieve a political agenda?  Have we become so hardened by Trump’s outrageous antics that we’ve forgotten to recognize when true outrage is needed?

Raise your hand if you are proud to see this abomination and then, if you are not an atheist, think about God’s agenda.  No matter what religion you may practice, no concept of a benevolent God could condone, let alone enact, the systematic stealing of children and fracturing of families.  Does your God’s notion of family values end at the border?

This is nothing short of extreme governmental terrorism that could well spawn equal or worse terrorism in reprisal for decades when these innocent children grow up damaged and corrupted by what we are doing to them.  We are sowing bad seeds.

These are children whose already victimized families were purposely broken under the auspices of America’s/our, name!

Is nothing sacred any more?  Can you let yourself be led by someone so self absorbed and heartless as the President of the United States of America?

Please God, help us to save America before it’s too late.

 

Main St. Disney is Wall St. Disney

Main St. Disney is Wall St. Disney

I have been a huge Disney World fan for several decades.  I loved going there, my kids loved going there, and even my wife loved going there (the first 6 or 7 times, but not so much the 13 times after that).  Now my kids have babies and I‘ve been looking forward to going to Disney World with them when they’re old enough to appreciate it so I can see the park through their new eyes on their first trip there.

Despite it’s being my best childhood dream, I never got to Disney Land as a kid (there was no Disney World at the time), but I made up for it as an adult. I realized shortly after my first trip to Orlando that Disney World was a place where I could escape Rest of the World both mentally and physically.  Stress disappeared and the only objective for each day was to have more fun.  I never counted, but I’d estimate that over a span of 30 years I’ve been to Disney World at least 20 times. (Extending a business trip for a day, I finally fulfilled the childhood dream by spending a full day in Disney Land in 1995.)

There are lots of folks who have been there many times more often.  It was my treasured escape, until today.

Today Bernie Sanders sent me and scads of his other admirers an e-mail asking us to sign a petition in support of the many Disney employees who have been shamefully treated by the Company.  My first whiff of the tarnish on Mickey’s statue came when a neighbor/friend told me that his son had just been fired without warning or cause from his job as a singer in Epcot.  That couldn’t be right. That wasn’t Disney, it was Rest of World.  I filed that a away in my “there has to be more to it” file, but today Bernie’s light shining on the corporate side of Disney moved that file into the “could well be” drawer.

I can’t tell the story better than Bernie Sanders did, so I pasted an abbreviated version of his call for help here:

The Walt Disney Company is an enormously profitable corporation worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 billion. Last year, it made $9 billion in profits and rewarded its CEO, Bob Iger, with a compensation package worth up to $423 million over a four year period. And as a result of the Trump tax cuts, they were given an additional $1.6 billion.

At the same time — and this is a national disgrace — employees at the company’s theme park in Anaheim, California are paid so poorly that many of them are literally living in a tent city not far from the park.

According to one recent study, nearly 1 in 10 workers employed at the park reported being homeless in the past two years, more than 2 in 3 say they are food insecure, and 3 out of 4 employees say they do not make enough money for their basic needs.

This is not what Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck are supposed to be about. This does not sound like the “happiest place on Earth” to me.

Now, I could be wrong, but I don’t expect you will see the plight of these low-wage workers at Disney discussed tonight on ABC, which is owned by Disney. Nor do I think you will be hearing too much about income and wealth inequality in the mainstream media….

It is long past time that we, as a nation, stop worshipping the corporate greed of Disney and businessmen like Bob Iger, their CEO.

While he may be regarded as a brilliant and successful businessman among his peers in the financial, media, and political elite, the truth is that the way Bob Iger and Disney treat their workers represents much of what is wrong with contemporary capitalism.

This is a company, and a CEO, that accepted an obscene tax cut gifted to them by the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress, publicly promised to anyone who would listen a $1,000 bonus for all of their employees, and then withheld that bonus from some union employees unless they agreed to a contract that gave them a tiny raise to a wage that is still a starvation wage.

This is a company, and a CEO, that in addition to paying their workers here at home extremely low wages, employs many thousands of people in China to manufacture their products sold at Disney stores and online.

This type of greed and ruthless capitalism is not an economic model that we should be embracing. It is not to be celebrated. We can do better, and we must do better…

 

It’s me again. Speaking only for myself, it pains me deeply to realize and say that Disney must do better to earn the respect and interest I once had in this once great Company.  I happen to be a Disney Shareholder, but not one with the wherewithal that the company would take seriously.  I can only hope that others, shareholders and/or Disney enthusiasts, who find this uncharacteristic greed disconcerting will sign Bernie’s petition.  I did.  Maybe the petition will get their attention.

It feels to me as though Mickey has lost his soul.

https://go.berniesanders.com/page/s/disney-greed?source=em180531-t1-full