The Crisis

The Crisis

Thomas Paine wrote this first volume of The Crisis in the winter of 1776 when the American Revolution, begun so bravely at Lexington and Concord the previous year, seemed lost. The remains of Washington’s army, humbled by the British and driven out of New York, were now starving and freezing to death at Valley Forge. As a nation, we face another crisis of tyranny today, in the form the sustained assault by Donald Trump on American Democracy – an assault manufactured by Stephen Bannon and Stephen Mitchell and abetted by a timorous, self-serving Congress. For starters, The American Constitution begins “We the people of the  United States,  in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility …”.   It does not begin “I the President, in order to satisfy my need for self-glorification and person gain….” What’s at stake? Again, begin with the First Amendment to the Constitution in the Bill of Rights:  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Add to that Article III of the Constitution providing for an independent judiciary as an essential check and balance against both the tyranny of the majority and the usurpation of power by the Executive Branch. Then you could also throw in the spirit, and at times the specific intent of the 13th, 14th, 19th, and 24th Amendments. Someone responded to one of my earlier posts by saying “Donald...
4 Ways to Handle “Trump Stress”

4 Ways to Handle “Trump Stress”

The 65,844,954 Americans who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 (48.2% of the popular vote against Trump’s 46.1%) are suffering from dangerous levels of stress. I’m a registered Republican who, for decades, has actually been an Independent. I’ve voted for candidates at the local, state, and national level based on their qualities as human beings and potential leaders. So count me in among the large number of people who are still asking themselves in shock and disbelief, “How could the America I love actually have DONE this?” Unmanaged stress is unhealthy. Fortunately, we don’t need to just sit back and bewail the train wreck that’s happened to our country. We can do what Americans have always done in times of peril: stand up and fight for what we believe. Of course, the roughly 110 million voting age Americans who didn’t vote should be feeling stress now.( I except the millions who were prevented or discouraged from voting − see https://mic.com/articles/162275/voting-millennials-minorities-key-states-faced-election-day-2016-barriers-new-study#.iYfzChS9N).  Tragically,  a lot of Americans sat this one out. We’re all paying for that lack of responsibility and trust in American democracy.  But you can make up for your indifference – see below. I get the fact that Trump was running against a terribly flawed candidate – Hillary was part of the problem, not its solution. If you’re still questioning this, read Bernie Sanders’ s Our Revolution (available from Amazon for under $10.00). I don’t agree with all Bernie’s solutions, but he hits the problems dead on. Bernie’s just as right about the GOP’s contributions to the problems and the non-solutions they now trumpet. And Hillary was supported by...
Atlanta Won the Super Bowl

Atlanta Won the Super Bowl

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a Giants fan. So the idea of beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl has a reassuring feel to it.  Plus my mom’s family is from Decatur, dating back generations before the War Between the States. Atlanta could use a break. Now Belichek (that’s not really an “American” name, is it?) and Brady get to join “Butcher Sherman.” I know you love conspiracies.  See http://www.sbnation.com/nfl/2017/2/6/14523088/super-bowl-rigged-patriots-falcons-james-white-donald-trump    And certainly, the lying mainstream media all put out the “fake news” that New England won. That’s what they do, right? But Donald:  Lots of us actually watched the game. Yes, Edelman did an amazing David Tyree imitation. And Brady is, well, Brady, and Belichek is Belichek. Bottom line: championships are won when players make plays. The Patriots make the plays. That’s why they won. So it’s one thing to lie to the American people. You do that shamelessly.  You lost the popular vote because 3-5 million illegals (whom nobody, including Congressional Republicans) can find? The Mexicans are going to pay for a wall (that every national security expert with an iota of expertise and common sense says won’t stop illegal immigrants or drugs)?  Ooops. No. We taxpayers will foot the bill. Regulation needs to be eliminated? (A two-word answer – Wells Fargo). A “travel ban” isn’t a travel ban? (Your words) Our current vetting for admission takes 8 months to two years before entry with everybody including all the “alphabet agencies” getting their cut. That’s why there’s no more than 1 in 3-point something billion odds that any of us are in peril of getting attacked by a...
Canada to Close Its Borders on January 21 to American Political Refugees

Canada to Close Its Borders on January 21 to American Political Refugees

Alert to readers:  Please see note at end.   As a summertime Canadian resident at our vacation home in Nova Scotia, I check out the Globe and Mail after I return to New Jersey, and this story by Globe and Mail reporter Isaac Bickerstaff caught my attention. He cites reputable sources who report on private conversations being held among Canadian Parliamentary leaders. “We Canadians have always looked up to America,” Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau is reported to have said. “Actually,  it’s probably been a lot more like envy.  But as we see Mr. Trump  in action as the president elect, it’s turning to genuine alarm. For people less polite than we Canadians, the proper response might even be disgust.” “Mr. Trump has already established a bizarre approach to dealing with leaders of foreign governments.  He treats us as if we were  potential contestants for “the Apprentice.” I got a call from him at supper time a few days ago. Strange as it was, I took the call. I decided to end it when Mr. Trump suggested that America should just buy Canada in order to get our oil.  The next day, he tweeted this response. “Of course, Mr. Trump is buddy buddy with some foreign leaders, such as Vladimir Putin.  Actually he, and his Secretary of State choice, Exxon Mobil Corp Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson, will make a bundle from cozying up to Russia. Mr. Trump’s answer, ‘I like people who made a fortune.’  “When one looks at how you Americans elect presidents, perhaps it explains the strange people you wind up with: you spend several years and...
Taking America Back to the Stone Age

Taking America Back to the Stone Age

Here’s a quick quiz: If you had a fireplace, would you keep a wood fire burning all day with the damper 50% closed so the air you and your children breathed was constantly polluted? Would you sprinkle pesticides into the water you and your children drank? Would you add chemicals whose toxic effect you couldn’t measure into the food you ate? When we talk about the “Environment” that needs to be “Protected,” we’re talking about the extraordinarily complex, incredibly interconnected web of life on which all of us depend in order to live.  Why in the world would any of us want to destroy that? The answer:  money. Trump has selected Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma to head the E.P.A. — at the same time Pruitt is vigorously pursuing lawsuits against the same agency. Who is backing those lawsuits?  Oklahoma’s oil and gas industries. Oklahoma? Oh yeah.  That’s the state that has experienced 907 magnitude 3+ earthquakes in 2015 and 585 magnitude 3+ earthquakes in 2014. 109 magnitude 3+ earthquakes were recorded in 2013. There is general consensus among scientists that the spike in Oklahoma’s earthquake activity has been triggered by disposal wells, used to dispose of waste from oil and gas drilling operations — including hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” — a phenomenon known as “induced” seismicity. But wait. There’s more. Trump is vowing to put coal miners back to work by rolling back regulations, offering tax breaks to invest in infrastructure and ending a moratorium on mining on federal land enforced by President Barack Obama. He would also cancel Obama’s Clear Energy Plan, which obligates power plants...

The Victory of Fear and Hate Over Hope and Faith

  Trump’s supporters love to chant “Time to Drain the Swamp!”   They have, now, and what do we find rotting at the bottom? A festering mass of hate and fear. The catalyst was our fear and hatred of an utterly broken  political system. Bernie Sanders’ solutions may have been unworkable, but he was 100% right about how big money has corrupted American democracy. This election cost $7,000,000,000. Think how else that much money might have been invested for the good of this country. Hatred is the lie we tell ourselves repeatedly to hide from our own guilt. WE elected the thieves and political fanatics who cripple Congress — with the support of the mega rich and their lobbyists. But there is deeper hatred behind Trump’s victory:  hatred against black, brown, yellow, and red-skinned people, hatred of “foreigners,” hatred of assertive women who seek to rise above subservience, hatred of those with “sinful” sexual preferences and religious beliefs.  It’s a big list. At the root of hatred is fear: fear that America has lost its preeminent place in the world, fear that the American dream has died for us and our children, fear that we have lost the power to shape our own future, fear that “democracy” no longer works and can’t be trusted. And unrestrained fear turns us into mindless creatures trapped in a cycle of panicked fight or helpless flight.  We lose our minds. How could we: Elect a president who eagerly welcomed the support of a Russian dictator bent on conquering Europe and restoring Soviet tyranny? Elect a president who detests, mocks, and seeks to harm anyone...

The Master Plan, Ordinances and the Law

The Master Plan is the legal foundation for a New Jersey municipality’s zoning ordinances. The Land Use Element, to be discussed by the Planning Board in upcoming meetings, is the core of the master plan. It defines “the existing and proposed location, extent and intensity of development of land to be used in the future for [all] types of … purposes.”  Municipal Land Use Law N.J.S.40:55-D-18. “Today there is no question but that the master plan is the cornerstone supporting the zoning of a municipality, and its importance cannot be overstated.” Cox and Koenig,  New Jersey Zoning and Land Use Administration, (2016), 8-2, p. 137. Creating the master plan and its component elements is the sole responsibility of the Planning Board. The Township Committee has no jurisdiction over what goes into the master plan. The Planning Board (and the Board of Adjustment) are  “… not considered municipal agencies or departments, but rather, the boards are quasi-judicial entities that have independent statutory authority and are considered a separate body politic (political unit).” http://loveandlonglaw.com/wp-content/uploads/LoveLong-article-for-web.pdf “In a municipality, only municipal planning boards and zoning boards of adjustment are vested with power to rule on zoning and planning matters. See N.J.S.A. 40:55D-23 et seq. and -69 et seq. These statutory powers may not be adulterated or interfered with by acts of local governing bodies or officials.”  DILLER & FISHER V, ARCH. REV. BD. 246 N.J. Super. 362, 367-368 (Law Div, 1990) Zoning Ordinances: The Township Committee has sole authority to create ordinances governing land use,. N.J.S.A. 40:55D-62a. However, The clear intent of Municipal Land Use Law is that zoning ordinances may only be...

America’s New (un)Civil War – Part II

The furor over Donald Trump’s increasingly pitiful, dangerous insistence that the election is being “stolen” from him by the evil forces of tyranny abetted by a corrupted media, should be an early warning call.  The spirit of violent rebellion is rising again against the injustice and corruption of a government that has stopped listening to, serving, and respecting its people. Rebellion is deeply woven into the fabric of America’s existence. We are, as the ancient Romans would have understood, Janus-faced: one part of our instinctive, permanent character is loyalty, the other rebellion. But our survival as a democracy “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” depends on our ability to manage that inner conflict without ripping ourselves apart as a nation. It’s a daunting challenge. We were born in an act of rebellion against the legally-constituted government of Great Britain. But it was also a civil war between “Loyalists” (or Tories) against “Rebels” (or Patriots). It divided families and, pitted brothers against brothers and friends against friends. Eighty-two years later, the tensions that divide us erupted again in a frightful, tragic civil war. In my family on my mother’s side, it was called “The War Between the States,” or, more bitterly, “The War of Northern Aggression.” The Thomas family emigrated to America from Scotland in 1651 and settled in Virginia. My great grandfather, Lovick Thomas II, lived in Decatur, Georgia. He served as Colonel of the 42nd Georgia Infantry. I’ve read the diary kept by his wife, Jane Peeples Thomas and the letters they exchanged during the war. What emerges, roughly 150 years later, is a...

The Big Lie

From the authors of the Big Lie “…In the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation.” “The receptivity of the great masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan.” —Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” Joseph Goebbels, 12...

Global Warming: Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?

It shouldn’t be that hard to get. Republicans who cling to the Koch Brothers’ and the oil industry’s denial of global warming offer the excuse “I’m not a scientist.” Well, OK. Asking members of Congress (of both parties) to make logical decisions based on impartial, empirical observation of facts is asking too much. But try this 5th grade experiment: Fill a glass with water and an ice cube almost to the brim. Place it in the hot sun (we’re getting a lot more of that these days, if you hadn’t noticed…).  If you’re in a hurry, put it in a microwave  What happens? Next question: Are the polar icecaps and glaciers around the world melting?  You can check that by looking at photos – unless you believe there’s a world-wide conspiracy by some all-powerful nefarious group like the Trilateral Commission, The Illuminati, The U.N. , or the new World Order to doctor ALL the satellite photographs we see (the way they did with the Apollo moon landings LOL). Or you could actually ask a scientist (not the ones paid by the Koch Brothers and Mobil/Exxon).  97% of them would tell you that global warming is happening, its consequences can be destructive to all life on the planet (including ours), and that current human behavior is making it worse. So why does this matter on November 8th? By then it will have cost over 7 billion dollars (that’s $7,000,000,000, incidentally) to decide between two presidential candidates neither of whom many of us really trust, or like.  In fact, because of today’s politics of lies, leaks, and character assassination, the only...