On Sunday, the New Trier Dems held their annual fundraising dinner. The turnout was impressive. And as the crowd gathered during the social hour prior to the dinner, the energy generated by so many politically engaged Democrats was palpable.
I suppose that’s not surprising as we approach a crucially important election year. However, there seemed to be an additional vibe to the evening that struck me as unusual. Some of this feeling may have simply come from the exceptional number of serious candidates mingling with the crowd. But I think beyond that, there was an undercurrent of urgency in the conversations I had or overheard that I haven’t felt in years – or maybe never.
Without specifically saying the words, a lot of thoughtful people are starting to recognize that the United States is in real danger of being destroyed or at the least permanently disfigured by our psychologically defective President and his blindly loyal supporters.
I never felt this vibe during the bumbling years of George W. Bush with his disastrous involvement in Iraq. Nor during the Vietnam War years when our country was so deeply divided. Or even during Nixon’s Watergate crimes (when, thankfully, we still had a Congress that wasn’t dysfunctional). Back then I knew our country was being harmed but I never had this sense that we were in danger of forever losing America’s potential to be a better nation. Continue reading Dinner Notes
Last Sunday in Las Vegas, our nation witnessed the biggest mass shooting in modern history. More than fifty dead and over 500 wounded. Once again this shocking slaughter of innocents had the media, politicians and the public all asking why it happened and what can be done to protect us from such horrors in the future.
Well, as far as finding the “why” of the lone shooter’s actions, even if investigations find the catalyst for Stephen Paddock’s violence was gambling debts or pent up anger at society or some kind of PTSD going back to a screwed up childhood with a psychopath father, at the root of it all Mr. Paddock was just plain nuts.
So, you might say, “Ahh, I see that’s the problem.” Just like a number of other mass shootings. The United States needs to keep better track of crazy people and take better care of them. This has been a popular “answer” batted around by Republicans after other shootings. (Although they never seem to come up with any funding.) And it is true. We do need to have more accessible, affordable mental health care available to everyone.
But, keeping track of every person who might be dangerously deranged? – In a country of over 325 million people (third largest in the world), that’s impossible. Also, a person with dangerous mental problems doesn’t always think he or she needs to seek help. And people acquainted with that person don’t always recognize their need. From what we know so far, that describes Stephen Paddock’s profile. Continue reading Wanta Buy A Gun?
Imagine you wake up tomorrow morning and learn that a 5,000 square mile area of U.S. land, inhabited by about 3 1/2 million U.S. citizens, has been hit by the equivalent of a 10-megaton warhead. And now imagine that the area was hit not just once but once every 20 minutes – for weeks! Do you think such an event might immediately get the complete attention of our nation’s president and every member of our congress? – You’d think so, wouldn’t you?
Well, over the past few weeks such a disaster has actually played out in the U.S. Territory of Puerto Rico. I admit that mixing a nuclear weapons reference into a discussion of Puerto Rico’s hurricanes may be a stretch, but I wanted to make the point that the power behind the devastation that just hit Puerto Rico was of a size almost beyond our comprehension.
According to my amateur scientific research, the amount of energy released by an “average” hurricane (category 3) is equal to the energy released by the detonation of a 10-megaton nuclear warhead, once every twenty minutes, for days. And, the two hurricanes that hit our Caribbean territory over the past few weeks were both dramatically stronger than category 3. Continue reading Hurricanes and Humbug
Yesterday President Trump spoke to the United Nations Assembly and once again behaved the way we expected — and moreso. Some of his comments did have merit, such as references to the disproportionate financial burden the U.S. carries in supporting the United Nations organization. However his confrontational messages to North Korea and Iran, spoken in a forum created to use diplomacy as the first resort for resolving international differences, was very much out of place. In fact, our President’s threat to “totally destroy” North Korea sounded like something shouted by a demagogue in the 1930’s.
The thing is, although Trump’s unpredictable antics continue to be scary, as time has passed they are no longer shocking. We’re growing accustomed to his chest thumping and saber rattling, his reckless language and pandering to a segment of voters who admire his style, mistaking reckless bombast for bold leadership. Millions of us may find his rhetoric disturbing but we’re learning that he isn’t likely to change. So as I said, the news from Trump’s U.N. speech was not surprising.
However, there was something in the news that did surprise and concern me a lot. It was the reemergence of a serious effort by Republicans to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). I honestly thought that right wing effort was shelved until after next year’s mid-term elections.
But now observers of the Republican controlled Senate believe this latest effort to destroy the ACA may have a real chance of becoming law. The recently introduced Graham-Cassidy Bill is being called “Trumpcare.” (Attaching Trump’s name to anything is a sure way to win Donald’s favor.) Continue reading Trumpcare! Really?
Today’s commentary is being written on Tuesday, Sept. 5 because the writer will be headed for Door County Wednesday morning. So, if President Trump or one of his minions does something historically stupid on Sept. 6 (always a good chance) it’s not my fault if it isn’t mentioned. This was written yesterday.
Monday was Labor Day, and I hope all of you out there in America’s workforce enjoyed your extended weekend. Personally, being a longtime retired person, the weeks in my life with three-day holiday weekends attached are pretty much like all the other weeks – laid back. In fact, I’m afraid if it weren’t for writing this newsletter every Wednesday, I’d really lose track of time.
Until about an hour ago I had planned at this early point in today’s commentary to quickly segue into a brief discussion of how time flies. (This is especially on my mind because of the event I’ll be celebrating up in Door County.) I planned to make the point that with time flying past us, we should all try to catch special opportunities when they come along – the upcoming NTDO picnic being one of those unique opportunities. Pretty smooth, eh?
Then I saw the news that President Trump had decided to discontinue the government’s Dream Act initiative (DACA). In the coming days there will no doubt be many words written about this sad and foolish action. But I felt I should at least mention this most recent example of the triumph of fear, ignorance and political games over logic, human decency and the best interests of our nation. Continue reading Good Times in Bad Times
Every Wednesday, I look for a timely subject to talk about. Then I try to look at it from an angle that hasn’t already been hashed over by the media. Sometimes this works. Sometimes it doesn’t. But in these Trump times it’s really becoming difficult to come up with any kind of fresh perspective on our national leader and his approach to important events.
Week after week it feels like we’re being hit by some new crises, then we start wondering, “what will Trump do this time?” For the millions of Americans paying attention, this is becoming exhausting. In fact, soon after Trump’s inauguration, Time Magazine reported on an American Psychological Association Stress in America study that, among other things, revealed two-thirds of the people surveyed said they were stressed about the future of the country, including nearly 60% of Republicans and 76% of Democrats. (Who knows where those numbers are now after 7 months of Trump?)
To paraphrase an old radio D.J. line, “The crises just keep on comin’!” Political standoffs, foreign threats, hate group violence, natural disasters. Yet through it all, President Trump has been remarkably, some would say frighteningly, consistent in his behavior.
No matter how critical the situation might be, Donald Trump somehow manages to turn it into an opportunity to in some way talk about himself. He’ll comment on the crowd he’s drawn, or take a shot at a reporter from the “fake news” or make a pointed comment meant to slap down all Americans not aligned with his voter base. He continues to act like he’s still the adored hero on the campaign trail and not the person elected to lead all of the country as President. It is bizarre. Unnerving. It’s the behavior of a man with some serious psychological defects. Continue reading President Queeg
This week President Trump announced his administration’s policy on future military involvement in Afghanistan. Since this is all just starting to fall into place, it’s impossible to know how his plan will work out.
However, based on the way things have gone for outsiders in Afghanistan over the past centuries, our chances for creating a brand new day for Afghanistan aren’t terribly bright. Then again, the President isn’t shooting for that. – And for the first time since Donald Trump was elected, I think I sort of agree with him (or at least the advisors guiding him).
President Trump has said our goal will not be “nation building.” Instead, Trump and his advisors believe our military presence in Afghanistan must be increased in an attempt to “strip terrorists of territory and safe havens.” His plan calls for 4000 more American troops to be deployed on top of the present 13,500 NATO troops (8,400 of them American). Continue reading Afghan-a-worms
These days, it’s nearly impossible to keep up with the day-to-day pronouncements of our strange President. It has only been a week since Trump’s aggressive talk of war with North Korea had the entire world on alert. But Friday’s events in Charlottesville, Virginia shifted America’s attention to another threat to our nation that many of us hoped was close to becoming extinct. Neo Nazis and fanatic White Power nationalists have become newly emboldened by the language of Republican Candidate and now President Donald Trump.
The excuse these sociopaths used for the violence and tragic loss of life they brought to Charlottesville was that they were defending a historic monument to the Confederacy’s General Robert E. Lee. This is a bogus claim in so many ways. For example, these violent, misguided fools were marching through the streets chanting “Jews will not replace us.” – It’s not clear to me what that chant has to do with Civil War history.
But I don’t want to get into an analysis of what motivates these hate groups. In the past few days, thousands of words have been written about all of that. I just want to touch on an aspect of this Civil War monuments issue that, from what I’ve seen, hasn’t received much mention at all. In fact, I feel it’s the most basic reason to remove such statues. Really the only reason anyone needs. The existence of these statues in public spaces is a constant and painful insult to millions of American citizens. And it has been for over 100 years. Continue reading Jim Crow Statues
In the past week we’ve seen the nation of North Korea and their Supreme Leader, Kim Jon-un, launch a long range missile capable of reaching targets as far away as Chicago (Hey! That’s where we live!) We’ve also learned that North Korea now has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that might fit on such missiles.
That last bit of disturbing information came from classified intelligence reports leaked by Fox News. Nikki Haley, U.N. Ambassador and Trump appointee, quickly condemned the Fox leaks as “incredibly dangerous.” But just as incredibly, a short while before her condemnation of Fox, those dangerous leaks were verified as fact via tweets from guess who? – Our oblivious President, Donald Trump. What a guy.
Now, you might think that a rogue nation openly demonstrating missiles that can reach our shores is a situation serious enough to call for some intense White House discussions about how to respond. You would expect President Trump and key cabinet members – certainly including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson – to put their heads together to craft the smartest possible position. Instead President Trump, taking a break from a “working vacation” at his New Jersey golf resort, basically presented the United States’ stance on this international menace in one of his responses to a group of reporters. He said, “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
Continue reading Donald The Diplomat