Make Congress Great Again – This November

Make Congress Great Again – This November

Why We Need a New Congress NOTE:  Please share this post if you find it insightful We are living in frighteningly-accelerating death spiral in Congress between Trumpian Republican oligarchy and Democratic incompetence – at a time when we are as bitterly divided as a nation as we were in the years leading up to the Civil War. As Marc A. Thiessen bleakly describes in the Washington Post, www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/on-immigration-democrats-give-trump-the-upper-hand–again, once more, this time with immigration, feckless Democrats have managed to yank defeat from the jaws of victory. Meanwhile, Trump’s attack on the very roots of American democracy continues unabated. Yes, the separation of families is unspeakably cruel, especially in the typically Trump haphazard, chaotic, “don’t think about the details” way it was carried out. And yes, immigration as a process has played a vital role in America’s growth and greatness. We ARE a nation of immigrants – your ancestors and mine −  whose desire to create a better life for themselves and their families made the “American Dream” a reality. But what we’re dealing with now isn’t normal immigration. It’s a refugee crisis driven by war, poverty, and political unrest, comparable to the crisis of refugees from Africa and the Middle East overwhelming Western Europe. The Democratic Party and its leadership, Senator Feinstein, has failed to understand and deal with this changed reality. What we got instead, in the legally-flawed proposed extension of “catch and release,” was both bad policy and bad politics. How the Democrats Blew it We wouldn’t be in this situation at all had the Democratic party not arrogantly and disastrously pinned its 2016 election hopes on...
Helping Trump Supporters Return to Sanity –  Post #1

Helping Trump Supporters Return to Sanity – Post #1

NOTE TO READERS: If you like this post, please share it as widely as possible. This is the first in what will be a series of posts on how to have productive conversations with Trump supporters. We know Trump is a malevolently pathological liar who deliberately distorts truth to “sell” his frighteningly negative view of people and the world. The deeper, even more dangerous impact of his incessant lying is that over time truth gets overwhelmed until it finally disappears. We know that. Trump’s supporters don’t get it. They live in the crazy, propaganda-driven world of his lies.  For example, regarding immigration. Trump world: Our borders are getting overrun by tens of thousands of “those people:” rapists, criminals, and drug dealers, who come into this country and take jobs from hard-working Americans or go immediately on welfare that we have to pay. All those crying children are just left wing liberal Democratic propaganda. Democrats want to turn America into a refugee camp/homeless shelter so they can enroll these people as voters and disenfranchise “Real Americans.” Independently-verified reality: Current rates of illegal immigration remain extremely low by historic standards. Immigrants legally admitted go through an extensive vetting process. Legal and undocumented immigrants are significantly less likely to commit crimes than native-born citizens, making them a net benefit to public safety. The research shows that immigrants are not taking jobs away from U.S. natives, and their impact on wages appears to be small to nonexistent, particularly across the long term. Problem #1: Trump’s supporters believe his lies.  They really do. Problem #2: Attacking Trump personally causes his supporters to dig in...
Trump Blinked on Separating Families — Now What?

Trump Blinked on Separating Families — Now What?

“Look,” a Republican friend said to me recently, “President Trump needs time to show what he can do. We elected him because we thought he’d shake things up – fix things. No more Washington ‘Business as Usual.’ You have to give him a chance. That’s only fair.” (I resisted asking how “fair” Republicans had been to President Obama when he took office.) So let’s honor that request. We’ve had ample opportunity to take the measure of President Trump’s operating style. It reflects his family and upbringing, his innate personal character and values, and his experience. That experience was forged in the nasty, dog-eat-dog world of New York real estate development, captured in his book The Art of the Deal, and dramatized on his TV show “The Apprentice.” Its essence is the testosterone-driven battle of confrontational bargaining. It’s a zero-sum game: somebody wins, somebody loses–there’s no middle ground. It’s narrowly time-limited: no long-term view—win today’s battle, whatever it takes, and go on to the next one, always with the same question, “Did I win or lose?” In the kind of transactional, win/lose battles Donald Trump built his life and career on, “Truth” is whatever you say it is–at the moment–in order to gain advantage. There are no “rules,” no overriding ethics, moral principles, or even compassion. You get what you want by brute force, fear,  intimidation, and dissimulation … or outright lying. A world like this, devoid of guiding principles, is a world without consequences. Of course, nobody wins all the time in a world of unrelentingly constant battles: witness Trump’s multiple bankruptcies and business failures. So if a deal...
America Has Lost Its Mind … How Can We Get It Back?

America Has Lost Its Mind … How Can We Get It Back?

Our country is on fire. We have become a viciously crippled, polarized society.  These days, an increasing majority of Americans passionately ally themselves with one or the other of two competing ideological extremes, then accuse the other side of every imaginable economic, intellectual, social, spiritual, and moral flaw. Now the people who disagree with us aren’t just “wrong,” they’re grossly stupid and evilly sinful. I’m old enough to remember when  people of good will who disagreed with each other on matters of policy and action could respect their differences but still work through them to reach consensus on what all parties could commit to support. These were consensual agreements based on fact — what’s actually happening — and anchored in a common ground of shared beliefs.  We have lost that good will. In fairness, the differences that now tragically and ominously divide us have always existed in the deep fabric of our nation  since the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1789: finding the delicate balance between the liberty granted individuals in a republic and the responsibilities of all people in a democratic society; between the powers relegated to the states (large and small) and to the federal government;  between the proper authority exercised by the three separate branches of government; between the enabling strengths and crippling limitations of both capitalism and socialism; between the promise of unlimited entrepreneurial possibilities and the harsh reality of working for a wage — or in the case of African slaves, no wage at all;  between our prosperity as a nation and our membership in a global economy;   and between the ideal of...
5 Reasons Trump Could Involve Us in a Disastrous, Needless War

5 Reasons Trump Could Involve Us in a Disastrous, Needless War

The idea of Trump propelling America into a major, devastating war – with North Korea, Iran, or even China −  is a threat all of us need to take seriously, and act on in 2018, by restoring a two-party balance (or a Democratic majority) into Congress as a check on Trump’s dangerous instability. Colin Powell, unlike Donald Trump, served in Vietnam at the beginning of a distinguished military career.  What has become known as “The Powell Doctrine” reflects his deep knowledge of the enormous waste of war that makes it only sensible as a national strategy when all other  political, economic, and diplomatic means have been exhausted.   Is a vital national security interest threatened? Do we have a clear attainable objective? Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed? Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted? Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement? Have the consequences of our action been fully considered? Is the action supported by the American people? Do we have genuine broad international support? The answer to all these questions regarding the disastrous Iraq War was “No.” As a country, we shouldn’t repeat that mistake, especially now because it involves the potential for nuclear war. Regarding North Korea and Iran, none of those preconditions – not even the first − has been met. More dangerously, none of them are characteristic of how Trump has demonstrated he would deal with the very real foreign policy threats the U.S. is now facing. Trump has no foreign “policy” based on a well-informed, rational understanding of global threats to America’s safety and...
Make America GOOD Again

Make America GOOD Again

Consider how we use the word “good” in our daily lives: “He’s a good man.” “She’s a good friend.” “They’re good kids.”  “They’re good parents.” “I live in a good neighborhood.” “My kids go to a good school.” “I’m in a good place in my life right now.” “I feel good about this.”  “I’m blessed with good health.” My first work out of college was as a teacher and coach. I vividly remember seeing a kid come off the field having played his or her heart out and saying “Good job!!” A lot of us used to be able to say:  “I work for a good company.” “I work for a good boss.”  “I’m making a good salary.” (A whole lot fewer of us are able to say that now). We know, deep down, what the word “good” means in real, living ways. So here’s the first question: “Is President Trump a good human being?”  When I ask this question of my Republican friends, often I get a “Whatabout…” non-answer.  “Well, what about Bill Clinton?  Or Hillary?” That’s ducking the question. If you say the question doesn’t matter, as many of Trump’s supporters do, then you’re saying that “goodness” no longer matters as a value — not just for presidents and elected representatives, but as an essential human value. I’m not suggesting that the people we elect to public office should be saints. Few of us rise to that standard in our own lives. But if we don’t hold our leadership to some level of fundamental integrity and decency, our society and our country falls apart. One measure of...