Time to Fix a Broken Congress

Time to Fix a Broken Congress

Regardless of which party you support (in my case, it’s neither), it should be transparently clear that Congress as a governing body is hopelessly, incurably broken. What we have, instead, with too few exceptions, are self-serving ideologues fighting for political control while working a three-day week and selling out to lobbyists to keep themselves in power.  It’s time to throw the bums out.  But only the American electorate can do that – if we Americans wake up to our responsibility. The architect of our current government dysfunction is Newt Gingrich. (What else would you expect from someone named after a lizard?)  The Tea Party Republicans (aka the radical Freedom Caucus) just caused the cancer of big-money-supported partisan wars to metastasize.  But assigning blame for the mess we’re in to Republicans is beside the point – most congressional Democrats are just as culpable and dysfunctional now as Republicans.  http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/interrogation/2017/05/is_there_any_future_in_being_a_moderate_republican.html The Democrats suffered through eight years of nasty hypocritical attacks and legislative inertia by the Republicans against President Obama. Now that Republicans are in power, most Democrats are similarly obsessed by attacking President Trump instead of putting better solutions in front of the public. To be sure, Trump’s policies should be attacked. For starters, he has abandoned his campaign commitments to the working class Americans who provided him his victory. Forget the “Buy America, Hire America” rhetoric.  With the active support of congressional Republicans, he’s reneging on his promises to foster job growth, bring manufacturing back to the United States from abroad, increase wages, protect retirees against predatory investment schemes, protect workers from greed-driven occupational harm, and ensure that all Americans,...
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...

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...

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...

Living in Crazy World

Living in Crazy World JoAnn and I were on our way home yesterday from a gathering with friends when this news feed showed up on her IPhone: “ABC reports that President Obama has just signed an Executive Order outlawing the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools.” I almost drove of the road in shock. “How could he do that?” “Why would he do that?”  “Has his mind been taken over by Extraterrestrial Aliens (or the Koch brothers?)” That was followed by the conviction “This is crazy, President Obama wouldn’t do that.” Of course it was crazy. When I got home and raced to fire up my laptop to find out what was really going on, I discovered it was all a hoax.  But tellingly, my first reaction was to treat this report as “news.” I think about this hoax now, which might be just an irresponsibly stupid prank but could as easily be a malicious attack of politically-driven misinformation. I can easily imagine Obama’s and Hillary’s detractors repeating it as gospel. “Have you heard what they’re doing now!  We need to put both of them in jail!” We have  serious drug problems in this country. But the most dangerous, in terms of the largest number of existing and potential addicts, is the narcotic of fear.  We shoot up every time we turn on the “news,”  respond to “anti-Social Media,” or pass along rumors with people who share our beliefs.  “Trump is going to destroy American democracy and turn us into a dictatorship.” “Hillary is in league with the World Bank, the Trilateral Commission, and the Bilderberg Group to destroy...