Sunday, February 26, 2017

Soaking Water Protectors

Yell Fire! - Michael Franti and Spearhead

First They Came...

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I’ve been thinking about six million Jews a lot lately.

I never really understood how anybody could allow so many of their fellow human beings to be harassed, persecuted, maimed and slaughtered. I always thought the Holocaust must have been a peculiar anomaly, a glitch in time and space, where evil was allowed to take hold and flourish in a jarring and devastating but non-repeatable way. Surely the signs wouldn’t be ignored again, excesses would be curbed, offenses would be checked, and people with bad intent wouldn’t be able to advance their schemes and machinations like they did 75 years ago. Never again, I thought.

But look what’s happening:

People are being detained and harassed at airports by border patrol agents and prevented from returning to their homes here in America.

Sick individuals who don’t have papers are being forcibly yanked out of hospitals and deported.

Prominent, mainstream media outlets like CNN and the New York Times are being banned from White House briefings while Breitbart News, an unscrupulous far-right website that makes Fox News look stolid, is welcomed.

Muslims are being verbally and physically assaulted all over the place.

“Foreign-looking” people are being shot and killed.

Our intelligence agencies have confirmed that the Russian Federation may have tipped the scales of our presidential election to give the advantage to Vladimir Putin’s orange boyfriend.

Environmental regulations are being rolled back and funding for the arts eliminated.

Lies are being presented as facts by those who owe us the truth.

Click here to read, “The Complete List of All 99 False Things Donald Trump has said as President” and click here to read a piece put together by NPR last month entitled, “The America Donald Trump is Inheriting, By the Numbers.”

I’m not talking about how repulsive and disingenuous Trump is as a man (although I could) or about how moronic his supporters seem (although they really do) or how sad I am that Bernie Sanders isn’t in the White House instead (although I sure am). This is about how the new President of the United States of America is dangerous. Not just unqualified. Not just a buffoon. Not just embarrassing. Dangerous. A threat to peace, safety, freedom, democracy and human rights.

I ran across the following on a friend’s Facebook page, written by Peter Daou:

Today was a grave inflection point for our democracy. The White House froze out major news orgs for a reason: They can.

With Congressional Republicans ceding ALL oversight power, the Trump White House can run roughshod over our Constitutional rights.

With no one enforcing rules, the rule of law is a hollow shell. With free rein to claim power, unscrupulous people will seize it ALL.

Steve Bannon made clear that the louder the #resistance, the more he and Trump see it as validation of their radical course of action.

In the past week, we've seen the "militarizing" of the immigration issue, IDs checked on domestic flights, and the FBI pressured.

These are all signs that the overarching question, "Can it happen here?" has already been answered. Loud and clear. It can. And it is.

A HUGE misconception among people who have enjoyed democracy their entire lives: When freedom is curtailed, life grinds to a halt. WRONG.

I lived in Beirut during the Lebanese civil war. Carnage. Artillery barrages. Kidnappings. Snipers everywhere. Curfews. BUT LIFE WENT ON.

We'd emerge from our bunkers, survey the overnight damage, then go shopping. Humans are resilient. We adapt to just about anything.

As Constitutional rights dissolve in America, malls will be open, movies will be crowded, traffic jams will happen, trains will run.

As our freedoms are taken away, we'll still have sports games, summer barbecues, schools, etc. Life will seem normal on the surface.

But rights that are stripped away will not be returned so easily. America will resemble America. But it will no longer BE America.

People who don't see what's happening will scoff at those who do as "alarmists." They won't realize the damage until it affects them.

Understand that we're already on a slippery slope, and a very steep one. This can go downhill very fast. I'm just stating the obvious.

Our task as patriotic citizens: Speak out in defense of our freedoms. Donate to groups like the ACLU. Call your reps. AND STAY PEACEFUL.

Lots of folks smarter than yours truly are warning about how we’re heading back into darkness again. (I blogged about Trump’s similarities with Adolph Hitler last July.)

I used to think I would have been a leading resister if I had been a resident of Germany during Der Führer’s rise. I’d have stood up to the Schutzstaffel, I assured myself, and might even have prevented Anne Frank’s demise. Surely I wouldn’t have looked the other way, turned the other cheek or come up with reasons why I couldn’t have made a difference. It’s just too bad I wasn’t around back then, I thought.

But what about now? Every day there’s a new revelation, a chilling comparison, a bald-faced lie, an attack on the press, science or sanity. Now is the time to act again, isn’t it? Now's my chance. Our chance.

I really don’t have the time. I don't have the money. Leading fights is a young person’s game. I’m too old. Too out of shape. Somebody else can stop the slide. Somebody else will step up. Someone who doesn’t have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can hoist the signs. Someone with better knees can march in the streets. I’ve got a family to think about now, right?

First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

~ German Pastor Martin Niemöller

Peter Daou is a prominent political blogger, strategist, pundit, activist and musician. He grew up in Lebanon and moved to the Big Apple in the 1980s. Follow him at @peterdaou.,,,

Friday, January 20, 2017

Some Cartoons Aren't Funny

It's the End of the World - R.E.M.

You Asked for It, Inaugural Edition

Courtesy Getty Images

It’s hard.

It’s hard to want Donald Trump to succeed, to wish that his incredible boasts and unfulfillable promises become real, to admit that his misguided, snowed supporters were right. It’s hard to have faith that our protests and marches will matter, our letters and petitions will be considered, that Trump’s pledge to serve all Americans will prove true. And it’s hard to take pride in the much-lauded peaceful transition of power that will send President Obama back to Chicago today and usher in Trump and Pence as leaders of what was indeed once the greatest country on Earth but is now about as respectable as when Dubya looked under White House chairs for weapons of mass destruction.

Michelle and Melania
I wasn’t going to blog about President Obama vacating the White House and being succeeded by the crass, pompous prick who’s being inaugurated today because the people who read “What’s the Diehl?” already know what I think. You already know why what’s happening is just wrong. You know why some of us are going back and forth from incredulous and apoplectic to numb and resigned. And you know the danger – yes, danger – that myopic, ignorant voters have placed us in by choosing this orange beast over one of the most qualified, experienced politicians ever to grace the campaign trail. (Yes, Hillary stole the Democratic nomination and yes, she’s more than a little off-putting herself – see “Why I’m Not Voting for Hillary Clinton” – but there’s absolutely no doubt that she would have made a better chief executive than the shyster who lied and pandered his way into the White House.) But after hearing on the car radio last night that some are blaming Obama for the Trump phenomenon and watching the laughable inauguration speech delivered by our 45th president a few minutes ago, I have no choice.

First, the attempt at revising history. Barack Obama did not ignore the average Joe, turn away from the hardship faced by so many Americans, and dine on caviar and filet mignon while the middle class became poor and the country crumbled. It is not because desperate voters felt voiceless and invisible that the little rich kid from Manhattan, with his gilded penthouse and propensity to fire people on a whim, was able to dispatch his Republican rivals, capture the nomination and win the election. Obama did not preside over the collapse of our economy, an overpowering influx of Mexican rapists, the decimation of our once-mighty military or the emergence of radical Islamic terrorists as the biggest threat to baseball and apple pie since Khrushchev. Those are bald-faced lies that Trump and his surrogates spread with the significant assistance of our whorish media, who felt it journalistic and newsworthy to report every burp and belch emanating from the Wizard of Trump Tower. I submit that the lazy Fourth Estate deserves the blame for helping to advance the candidacy of this short-sighted idiot with a checkbook and cashmere overcoat, a supermodel wife whose eyes look funny and disagreeable offspring who resemble Barbie, Beavis and Butthead. They made him and now they’re trying to assign responsibility for this mess on his predecessor, who’s not perfect by any means but is completely blameless for this particular tragedy. They refused to tout Obama’s many achievements while elevating Trump’s status from brash neophyte to serious contender in a game most find abhorrent but the media insist on covering like a Kardashian.

I told myself I would join the boycott of all things Trump today but I just couldn’t stay away from the television at noon. The new president’s inaugural speech – which was as well-written as a schoolkid’s forged note to his teacher – was full of the same kind of tripe he spewed at his campaign rallies:

"We will bring back our dreams."

"When our hearts are open to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice."

"No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America."

"Our country will thrive and prosper again."

"The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action."

"Children in the urban sprawl of Detroit fill their hearts with the same dreams."

"You will never be ignored again."

"Your voice, hope and dreams will define our American destiny."

"Your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way."

"We will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And yes, we will make America great again."

What does any of this mean? How will dreams guide people along the way? How will hope define our American destiny? How will President Trump bring back our dreams and from where? I was reminded repeatedly – as in after every sentence – of old Clara Peller asking “Where’s the beef?” in those now-ancient Wendy’s commercials back in 1984. How will he actually do any of these things? And what kind of brainless moron falls for this crap?

Somehow, 62,846, 550 numbskulls did – including 53 percent of white women who presumably have no problem with their pussies being grabbed by rich assholes. I’ve added this to my list of Things I’ll Never Understand, right above “Why Is Gilbert Gottfried Famous?” and just below “Why Isn’t Everyone a Dog Person?”

It’s not because he’s a Republican that I despise Trump. It’s because he’s an embarrassment to Americans, to white and formerly-white men, to human beings. His propensity for tweeting caustic, combative, offensive messages; his obnoxious, lying, arrogant, off-putting mannerisms; his proven status as a fraud and an adulterer; his decision to ridicule a reporter who is disabled; his posturing as a successful deal-maker when he’s filed for bankruptcy more times than I’ve filed for divorce; his collusion with Putin; the way he treats women, minorities, veterans and Muslims; and the fact that he’s been accused of raping a little girl and paying Russian prostitutes to urinate on him...well, these alone are reasons why I wouldn’t even watch him on television, let alone choose him to represent me on the World Stage.

There’s also, of course, the now-infamous recording of him boasting about grabbing women by the pussy; his five military deferments; his history of stiffing vendors and contractors, his endorsement by the KKK; his efforts to discredit specific journalists and the intelligence community...and now, his ridiculous nominees for key cabinet posts who give new meaning to “unqualified stooge being rewarded for his/her friendship, large campaign contributions or both.”

Someday, if my children are fortunate enough to survive Trump’s presidency and still have breathable air and access to the internet, they’ll be able to read blog posts that lament the Orange Joker’s rise to power, including mine. They’ll know that I wasn’t party to the takeover of our country by a disingenuous fraud who spouted vapid platitudes to con susceptible yokels into misusing their votes and clouding our collective fate. At least they won’t be able to pin this disappointment on me.

I didn’t always fawn over President Obama – search “What’s the Diehl?” and you’ll find plenty of whiney, critical posts – but I see, in retrospect, how fortunate we were that he was the guy with the nuclear codes and the key to the Oval Office. As I’ve posted in Facebook, if we ever needed a non-automotive example of the truth of Joni Mitchell’s famous refrain, “You don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone,” we need look no further than our 44th President. (I’m not using “...of the United States of America” because we’re clearly not united). Barack Obama was a man of class, commitment, strength and talent, a rare and remarkable individual who endured immense pressure and obstruction and emerged as perhaps the most accomplished politician ever to reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. We all agree, I’m sure, that he and Michelle Obama will be deeply, utterly, sorely missed. I’m not sure how many of us will toss and turn tonight over their departure like I will.

Perhaps knowing that there are 65,519,461 other Americans who didn’t want Trump and his grinning, repellent spawn to surround Chief Justice John Roberts as he administered the Oath of Office today will help. I’m going to try to take solace in this even as my eyes tear up and my heart breaks.

P.S. I ran across something interesting about the Electoral College in Facebook the other day: The population of California is 38,800,000. The population of Wyoming is 584,153. California has 55 electoral votes; Wyoming has just three. It takes 705,454 Californians to equal one electoral vote. It takes 194,707 Wyomingites to equal one electoral vote. This makes every electoral vote from Wyoming worth 362 percent what each vote from California is worth in the election for President of the United States. Math wasn’t my forte in school but these figures don’t even add up to me.

P.P.S. I was glued to the television but only saw one person of color, Justice Clarence Thomas, at this national event and I'm told he's not even really black.

Source: Cook Political Report.