Tuesday, July 17, 2018

WOMEN'S RIGHT TO CHOOSE - 45 YEARS LATER


By Ruth A. Sheets

It's been 45 years since the Roe v. Wade decision came down from the Supreme Court.  Abortion still remains one of the most divisive issues in our nation.  I truly do not understand the "controversy."   Why are some people willing to harm others over whether a woman should be able to choose abortion?  Why is a president stroking his base by considering only candidates for the Supreme Court and other government positions who are against abortion? 

This nonsense regarding abortion has been going on for generations now.  Notice, I did not say millennia?  That's because the reason religious people stood against it a century and a half ago is that women, many women were dying in "back alley" abortions.  To convince women not to choose that deadly option, all kinds of religious tags were attached.  Today, abortion is safe and rarely problematic if conducted in a clean space by a well-trained professional.  In fact most abortions only involve taking pills. 

There just should not be a controversy about abortion.  It makes no sense that any man should have a say whatsoever in the decision of what a woman does related to her body, PERIOD, unless, that man is the woman's partner or doctor and she has chosen to include him in this decision.  Then, he is an OBSERVER/advisor, not a dictator. 

What is hard to understand is that in addition to men who believe they are in charge of women, a bunch of women have been convinced that somehow abortion is murder.  First of all, it isn't, so why do these women and so many men want to make it so?  You women who hate your sisters so much, what is wrong with you?  Just because you don't want to choose abortion should not mean  you can force others to make that same choice.  Life situations differ greatly.  You cannot know what a woman facing this decision needs to do.  Just as people have been telling you for years, if you do not want an abortion, DON'T HAVE ONE!!!.  It IS that simple. 

State legislatures and governors, majority white male, the Congress, majority white male, the president, white male, and the Supreme Court, majority white male should have no say in abortion.  If their body cannot bear a child, if they will never have to face carrying a pregnancy they do not want, cannot afford, or can handle, if their personal lives will not be impacted by carrying a pregnancy, they must just shut up and let women decide for themselves.

I understand it will be difficult for some pathetic men and women if abortion in certain states is declared illegal.  What will they scream, whine, and do to otherwise make life miserable for women, beware, they will find something because that is what powerful men do when they feel they are being challenged by intelligent, strong, decisive women.  Look out all of us!

Men, if you really care about the unborn as you claim, demand and pass legislation that will keep our environment clean, get people permanently out of poverty, ensure women's right to birth control, champion health care for all, INCREASE FUNDING FOR INFANT AND MOTHER PROGRAMS, PROMOTE PUBLIC EDUCATION, things that would really make a difference.  First, though, stop Mr. Trump's gag rule, you know, the one that tells medical personnel and fake medical personnel to lie to women about their reproductive needs. Legalizing lying is not acceptable. 

You say you can't do that?  Why?  Is the problem that attacking women's right to choose is easy, while making a real positive difference for women and the unborn is really hard, perhaps too hard for you!

Stop with your platitudes and lies.  And you Christians, Jesus knew about abortion and didn't condemn it.  He did condemn hate, treating people like garbage, lying, and a lot of other things.  Go with that.  Leave women alone to choose for themselves, then support them in their decision.  That is the truly loving, Christian thing to do. 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

SUPREME COURT JUSTICE -- REALLY?

by Ruth A. Sheets

It's time the Senate wake up and notice the poor quality of people Mr. Trump is nominating to all really important positions in OUR government, remember it is the government of ALL of us, not just the rich, white, males.  The latest nominee is Brett Kavanaugh, a Yale trained lawyer and judge on the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

There are problems already with this nominee.  It seems Mr. Kavanaugh does not think it matters if he tells the truth to the Senate, as exemplified in his previous hearing for a judicial position (which he got despite his lies).  The Senate did nothing about it back then and I predict Mr. Kavanaugh is sure they will ignore it again.  The Senate probably will, at least the Republicans will.

Mr. Kavanaugh served with Mr. Starr to indict Mr. Clinton for lying about stuff he should never have been asked.  Then, he writes about not ever indicting a sitting president because of the chaos it would cause.  Yep, he only worries about a presidential indictment after he tried to bring down a sitting Democratic president.  Mr. Trump is delighted because he knows Mr. Mueller's commission is looking into his activities that his handlers, at least, know are illegal and unethical.  Mr. Kavanaugh will save him. 

There is no evidence Mr. Kavanaugh cares about women's right to choose, in fact, there is plenty of evidence he is against it, despite the fact that a super majority of Americans want the right to choose. 

There is evidence this nominee does not respect the LGBTQ community or anyone who is not white for that matter.  He loves BIG BUSINESS and will give them everything they ask for, demand, or take without permission.  His prior record makes that clear. 

The environment, this is not anything Mr. Kavanaugh cares about unless he chooses to encourage drilling, pipelines , digging for coal, and more, none of which will benefit anyone but the company owners and shareholders.  This is obscene!  

Mr. Kavanaugh opposes the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, one of the few agencies to actually protect consumers from the harmful practices of BIG BANKS AND BIG BUSINESS.  What does that do for the people who are getting screwed by those companies?  Oh well, too bad guys.  We are so far above you, we just don't care, we conservatives, but we can pretend to care if you want us to.

In addition to all this, Mr. Kavanaugh tried to block an immigrant teenager in U.S. custody from accessing reproductive healthcare. His decisions for the 6th Circuit in Washington, D.C. show that He opposes affirmative action, promotes public funds being used for private school vouchers, and favors prayer in public schools (an issue decided more than 50 years ago).  How do these positions help ordinary Americans?  They don't, of course!!

Mr. Kavanaugh's prior rulings raise serious concerns for some about where he stands on issues like employees’ right to organize, workplace discrimination, voting rights, marriage equality, access to healthcare and corporate responsibility.  It is pretty clear to most of us where he stands.  What average Americans let alone special interest groups need is irrelevant to conservatives these days and Mr. Kavanaugh has a history of sticking to the conservative line and justifying it, no matter how crazy.

So, it's going to be hard to fight this one.  It's been 30 years since a Supreme Court nominee, Robert Bork, was rejected.  With 30 years of hindsight, we are hearing what a terrible thing it was to reject this "good man" as several Republicans and a few centrist Democrats have said, because now candidates will not answer any real questions about their positions.  But Bork was not that great.  He, too, had little respect for anyone who was not white, rich, straight, and male.  How would that have helped the majority of us?

We are so good at revisionist history that we have turned Ronald Raegan who allowed all kinds of illegal and questionable things to happen during his presidency into almost a saint.  He wasn't.  Mr. Bork was such a good man.  Not really!  Justice Kennedy  was such a centrist, our only hope.  This was true only when it suited him.

We still live with the consequences of Mr. Reagan's union busting, tax cutting, disregard for government operations, and the change of the American understanding that the government is for the common good.   We have already felt the devastation of Mr. Kennedy's vote on Citizens United declaring money as speech.  Really a stupid decision, but conservatives always have to side with the wealthy and business, no matter how ridiculous.  Voting rights was not Mr. Kennedy's big thing either. 

We don't know exactly what Mr. Kavanaugh would contribute to the harming  of the American system, but his influence would be considerable.  There is no evidence that Mr. Kavanaugh cares.  Perhaps, he will be like Mr. Trump who wants to cause as much chaos for as long as he can, raking in money and power with impunity. 

We have to find ways to reject Mr. Trump's crazy nominees for all government jobs, including Supreme Court justice.  Maybe if enough are rejected, he will start trying to find people who are actually qualified and who give a damn about the United States, its citizens, its allies, and our planet.

The next Supreme Court justice should be fair, independent and committed to safeguarding the rights and freedoms that protect everyone.  I suspect Mr. Kavanaugh cannot truthfully commit to this.  The current conservative justices claim fairness, independence, and the ability to commit to protecting the rights of all Americans.  They are none of these things.  How sad that conservatives have to harm everyone to keep their conservative bona fides.  I do not see Mr. Kavanaugh stepping up to be concerned for the rights of anyone but himself and those like him.  There is just no courage among Republicans or conservatives whether it is in Congress, on the Court, or as head of any of the executive branch departments.  That's too bad for all of us, since for now, they are in charge of everything.

Monday, July 2, 2018

A Look at Patriotism 2018


By Ruth A. Sheets

Patriotism clearly means different things to different people.  Traditionally, it meant love of one's country.  That sounds simple, but how does that manifest itself in the real world?

How can you tell if someone is patriotic?  That varies depending on the group or groups to which one has loyalty.  For some, one can only demonstrate love of country through military service, while for others, vocally supporting the nation’s military/wars is sufficient.  Some require patriots to display a flag on the lawn and wear a flag pin in public.  Some expect patriots to know and sing all the “patriotic” songs and stand with their hand over their heart when singing the “National Anthem” (don't take a knee!)  Some demand the saying of the “Pledge of Allegiance” at every possible occasion, (even though it is pledging to a flag, not a country).

The element missing from all but the first description of patriotism above is depth.  Mouthing support for a war, waving or wearing a flag, saying the “Pledge,” singing  “America the Beautiful” demand little or nothing of the practitioner.  These acts  are visible, but say little except that one has a handle on the trappings of patriotism.  Where is the substance?
 
The problem is that just having the trappings of patriotism allows practitioners to designate those who don’t participate in the superficiality as unpatriotic, therefore not as good, not a "real" American.

The most commonly cited factor of patriotism involves military service of some kind.  Serving in the military generally involves sacrifice of time, health, opportunities, even one's life, all of which are valuable to our nation.  People who make this choice deserve kudos, but we need to expand our understanding of sacrifice.  

Communities throughout the United States have people making patriotic sacrifices every day:  fire-fighters, people who work against violence, folks who care for frail seniors and the vulnerable youngsters among us.  Consider Scout leaders, youth directors, people who staff soup kitchens and community pantries, and non-profit workers, often volunteers.  These are all patriots as are local elected officials, mediators, school safeties, teachers, mental health workers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, farmers, environmentalists, innovators, police officers, and so many others, all patriots.

What all patriots have in common is that they care not just for the country, but for the people who live here too.  No matter what their political leanings, they see a need and try to meet it using the resources available to them.  These folks understand that America is a diverse place and that there is room for everyone here, no matter where they were born.  They believe in and understand that our nation was founded on the rule of law and justice for all, and that we are stronger together than separate.

Just in case that is too vague, I'll be more clear.  A patriot does not force his/her opinions and behaviors on others.  A patriot does not work to deny healthcare for people who can't afford it.  A patriot does not help to stack courts who will favor one group over the rights of other groups.  A patriot does not use their religious beliefs to justify their own prejudices.  A patriot does not try to restrict voting in a society that depends on voting for its success.  A patriot does not approve of cruelty done in America's name to defenseless children and adults, for any reason.  In short, Patriots care about more than their own comfort and the enforcement of their own beliefs.

So, celebrate this July 4th, but do it with your neighbors and friends.  Display a flag, but remember that it is the symbol of a people more than of a place.  We are a flawed people, but we are trying to get better. 

Sunday, July 1, 2018

WHEN HATRED AND LIES BECOME THE NORM


By  Ruth A. Sheets

Lying is an integral part of Donald Trump's public behavior.  He lies whenever it occurs to him that a lie might work better than the truth, that is if he has any idea what is the truth.   

Yesterday, the Supreme Court's conservative majority confirmed as acceptable, Mr. Trump's hatred of Muslims.  They used as justification Mr. Trump's lie that travelers from a specific set of countries, mostly Muslim, puts the security of the United States at risk.  Alas, there is no evidence of this, but the Supreme Court majority says, that doesn't matter.  Mr. Trump says it is, so it is.  Wow!  That's a lot of power for someone who didn't win the popular vote and has little regard for the Constitution.

Everyone knows that throughout his presidential campaign, Mr. Trump told the nation of his intent to stop all Muslims from coming here.  That intention was never hidden.  Like everything else he says in hatred and most of his lies, it was loud and clear and harmful to many people, the kind of people Mr. Trump doesn't like.

Lying and some hatred (of women and abortion) was front and center in another Supreme Court ruling yesterday.  The conservative majority  basically said it is perfectly OK to lie to citizens, particularly women about their health care options. 

Fake health care centers have been set up all over the country to lie to women.  They have no medical help to offer, only lies about abortion, pregnancy, and a host of other issues facing women related to health care. 

California decided to order fake clinics to inform potential patients that other facilities could take care of their needs, while the fake clinics could not.  The Supreme Court has now said the state can't make the fake clinics tell the truth.  They can lie through their teeth, trapping mostly poor women into maintaining pregnancies they can't afford or physically handle.  Yep, lying is in the ascendency.  Free speech, you know.

These rulings  coincide with the cheating allowed in the June 25th decision permitting racial gerrymandering in Texas and probably other places too.  The justification is not very clear.  Are conservative justices OK with cheating and subverting the American voting system?  Or is it something more? 

One might have expected Mr. Thomas, the African-American justice to stand on the side of voting rights in this decision, but alas, no.  It is no surprise, however, that white conservative men are in favor of whatever will give white people the most power.  Racial gerrymandering, why not!  We'll find a reason to OK it.

These days, one cannot be shocked that Mr. Trump lies about immigrants, the activities of his staff, and just about everything else.  His followers love it.  They, themselves must lie regularly to be so positive concerning the lies so freely tossed off.  It's like a kinship. 

Conservatives want to have the Ten Commandments in every courthouse.  How is that possible.  One of the commandments is "Thou shalt not bear false witness."  False witness means lie.  Have they convinced themselves that the things Mr. Trump says are not lies?  Isn't that a kind of pretense?  Another word for pretense is lie.  So, perhaps they are lying to themselves too.  If you can't tell the truth to yourself, who can you tell it to?

Which other president has lied to the American people more than 3,000 times in just over 500 days?  No one, of course.  Even if one did not agree with the person in the White House, there was a sense that the person had some integrity.  That cannot be claimed for this White House occupant.  His hatreds and lying make him unique, and not in a good way. 

I get it that Mr. Trump often has no idea what is true and really doesn't care.  As long as everyone is bowing to and cheering for him, giving him everything he wants, like a spoiled child, he is happy and can gloat.  He does not want anyone challenging his hatreds and need for vengeance.  And, for the most part, people comply.  Republicans in Congress and in the states comply.  We learned yesterday that Even the Supreme Court complies.  

Hatred, lying, and cheating, the three pillars of Mr. Trump's presidency do not seem to be helping anyone but him.  He hopes Americans will ignore his lies because if he says something long enough and loud enough, he thinks we will all believe it.  What many of us believe is that we don't want lying, hatred, and cheating to be a norm for our society and will do what we can to see that these three are ultimately moved off the main American stage along with Mr. Trump. 

Friday, June 29, 2018

DICTATOR IN TRAINING

by Ruth A. Sheets

A dictator is master of all he surveys.  He controls nearly every aspect of his people's lives from where they can live to what they can learn, even what they can think.  Some dictators have determined how many children a woman can have, how people can act - even in their own homes - where one can work and is allowed to live.

Our president, Donald Trump is taking notes.  He is a dictator in training.  He has many of the qualities of a dictator, (perhaps not a successful one), but nonetheless, he is in serious training.

Mr. Trump got some practice while he ran his own company and was a "boss" on reality TV.  He could make a gesture or give a command and someone who didn't do his bidding was fired or in some other way punished.  He could also distribute largess.  This is at least as important as the punishment because the possibility of receiving acknowledgment from the boss, king, dictator promotes extreme loyalty in some, especially if the gifts are not given often and are considered of great value within the organization, effective conditioning.

Recently, Mr. Trump met alone with one of the world's current total dictators, Kim Jung Un of North Korea.  Mr. Kim has been developing his dictatorship bonifides since birth.  He watched his father and grandfather at work and learned well.  The good little people are rewarded with nice digs in the capital while most of the rest scratch out a life on some of the poorest land in east Asia.  The bad little people, (that is bad enough to be noticed), are sent with their families to concentration camps where the hell to which they are consigned is supposed to be a deterrent to the rest of the population.  Mr. Trump would like such a system here, with a few minor modifications of course.

Mr. Trump's first official visit was to Saudi Arabia, a kingdom where the king or prince in charge can dictate every aspect of life for the people and claim it is all God's will.  He treats women as less than second-class citizens who need Daddy's or brother's permission for whatever they do.  Women were just given the right to drive which until a previous dictator took the "right" away 50 years ago was theirs.  "Oh, thank you beloved dictator, we are so grateful to you for what you have done for women."  Mr. Prince, you threw women who fought for the right to drive into prison, "but the other women can drive now," you whine.  Mr. Trump would like to hear such gratitude from American women too. Why, they should be grateful he notices them and selects a few of them to lie and cheat for him, only demanding complete loyalty and just a few other things too.

Russia's Mr. Putin, a former KGB agent, and Stalin wannabe, is a dictator who Mr. Trump admires.  Mr. Putin uses a variety of techniques to keep anyone who opposes him from getting in his way and spreading the truth to the Russian population.  Mr. Putin's fake news machine works overtime to make sure the people learn nothing he doesn't want them to know.  His reach extends to influencing American politics too.  Mr. Trump is well on the way to making this work in America.  He has learned that a dictator can lie with impunity, so he is practicing to see just how many lies he can get away with.  He already has a cult following that loves and believes everything he says, and a media that is afraid to challenge him, except around the edges.

The Philippines elected a president who does not care about the law.  He is totally OK if the police shoot down or otherwise disappear people they "suspect" of dealing drugs.  Thousands have been sacrificed to Mr. Duterte's edict.  The courts turn their heads and pretend they don't see.

Mr. Trump and his sidekick, Attorney General Jeff Sessions want to be able to do the same thing.  They believe that going after "drug dealers," (no matter how dangerous the drug) will clean up the cities and stop the opioid epidemic, or something.  And, if the police had more power, they could shoot down the pesky people of color who mar "our cities."  (Just the bad ones, you know.)

The Syrian dictator has committed atrocities on "his people" because he is desperate to stay in power.  His family has been at it for a long time.  Al Assad can make the people do what he wants.  He has no trouble with gassing, bombing, shooting, and starving the people.  Mr. Trump does not have to resort to that yet.  He can just refuse aid to places like Puerto Rico after a hurricane and a thousand people at least die.  He can encourage the Environmental Protection Agency to cut regulations for clean air and water, champion the increased use of coal, ignore global warming and people will die, especially the pathetic people who just can't afford to get out of the way.  "Ah, isn't that too bad.  They could do better if they worked harder."  We must help business you know.

Separate children from their parents, Trump got that from Nazi Germany and from the U.S. treatment of Native Americans.  Zero tolerance of immigrants, Trump saw that many countries did that to Jews seeking asylum at the start of World War II.  Undermine the institutions of a nation, China is doing that as we speak.  And, Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi are working on it together.  Mr. Xi has someone from his country's recent history, Mao, to help him out.  Mr. Trump depends on the slimy slugs he has surrounded himself with to guide him along the way.

There is no program that helps struggling Americans that Mr. Trump  has not targeted for destruction.   He gets lots of help from his sycophantic "advisors," the Supreme Court, Republicans in Congress, Republican governors and state legislatures, all of whom seem to have forgotten what it means to serve the common good.  Perhaps Dictator Trump will give his followers even more power, or the illusion of it, a feeling of importance, or a hope that somehow, "those awful people who aren't like us real Americans, will be forced to go away," and, of course, "give us back our country, our white Protestant, male-controlled country."

Donald Trump is learning fast.  He never learned much about history, math, economics, science, or anything else, but dictatorship 101, he is mastering with the help of his willing tutors.  And, we are all paying for his tuition. 

Monday, June 25, 2018

WHEN EVIL STALKS

by Ruth A. Sheets

Evil does not just happen.  It has a cause (and it is not Satan).  The cause is human action and occasionally mental illness.  I dismiss mental illness here because of its limited impact.

The evil I want to discuss is the creeping evil that starts relatively small, then grows as it is nurtured.  Spouse abusers don't start their relationship by one partner beating up the other.  If so, the relationship, unless it is a forced marriage, would stop right there.  The future abuser begins with charm, laughter, joking, to entice the victim into complacency.  If the future abuser slips and commits some violence, there is always a quick apology and promise it won't happen again.  Over time the future abuser divides the spouse from family and friends, isolates the partner, and increases the violence/abuse.

I suggest, as others probably have, the Trump administration is like the spouse abuser, but on a larger scale.  Mr. Trump started out as a barely functioning real estate guy.  He had lots of money from Dad and a big mouth.  He associated with high-profile people and made sure he stayed in the public eye, a kind of fun guy.

Some people around him saw that Mr. Trump liked power, obtained with as little effort as possible.  He published a book that he didn't write.  The book, for some who wanted to make a name for themselves in business, won fans to this deal-making genius.  Mr. Trump went through bankruptcy numerous times (some say 4, others say 6), and each time he came out losing very little.  Everyone else involved took the hit.  The explanation, "It wasn't my fault and I'm only using the tools the Government permits."  His reputation didn't suffer with anyone who mattered.  The abused were powerless to do anything.

Mr. Trump was given a reality show where he strutted around, yelling "You're fired!" no more was necessary, and won a whole new fan base.  He had little to do with the show except come in at the end and look like a CEO.  As always, other people did all the work while his name kept getting bigger.  Who cares about the "fired" ones.  It was all about Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump had his eye on politics for a long time.  He shaped his "beliefs" to what he thought potential supporters believed.  He realized his best chance for any kind of success would be among conservatives, although it is not clear that he was particularly conservative.  To get onto the political map, during President Obama's administration, Mr. Trump's was the voice in the background trying to undermine policies.  He made outrageous claims like that Mr. Obama was not born in the United States, and    that Mr. Obama was a Muslim, (he isn't, but who cares if he were).  Both were carefully designed to show Mr. Obama was not a legitimate president or even American, not like us.  Mr. Trump's prestige  grew.

The evil dripped slowly, albeit loudly; it was spreading into the national discourse.  The whole thing might have been stopped then if the media had unanimously agreed not to cover ANY birther BS, but instead, they amplified it.  That is exactly what Mr. Trump needed to launch his presidential bid.

Mr. Trump had no political experience whatsoever, but claimed he was an amazing businessman, a lie, of course, but his fans didn't care.  They were getting used to his lies and even reveled in them.  As his campaign progressed, Mr. Trump used the co-opted the media, all of it.  it didn't matter what he said or did not say. the media was on board.  And, if they wrote or said anything that did not speak of Mr. Trump in the most glowing terms, he called them fake or claimed the "election is rigged."

Mr. Trump  surrounded himself with people who knew how to make use of his name recognition and media attention.   every word Mr. Trump said was recorded and shared.  The media was by then afraid to use the word "lie." even though much of what Mr. Trump said was untrue. Hardly challenged, Mr. Trump's followers swallowed the lies as facts.  This too was planned by Mr. Trump's handlers.  To them, Mr. Trump presented himself as a strong man who would cut through the crap in Washington and "drain the swamp."  When asked to explain, he was vague and dismissive, knowing it was all just talk. 

He bullied his way through the Republican primaries and debates.  By this point, Mr. Trump was like a runaway freight train.  His fans, people who think they like "strong" men set themselves on his path permitting no deviation.  When interviewed (which was often), Mr. Trump's followers could only say. "He says what he thinks and he'll do what he promises."  They could rarely identify which things they liked about his plan, probably because there was little substance to it.

Mr. Trump tried out his racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic statements on his campaign crowds to see which would work.  If the crowd cheered, the comments stayed in, if not they were gone until they could be reworked to be more acceptable.

Mr. Trump tapped into America's deep racist streak.  Some whites looked at the world and perhaps, for the first time, noticed that white is a minority (as is every other group).  Mr. Trump spoke to their fears, telling them he would fix things for them since it was those people who were the source of all their righteous woes.

Evangelical Christians were co-opted too.  As crazy as this sounds, it shows how easily evil can creep into communities where people might otherwise stand against it.  Evangelicals perhaps thought of Mr. Trump as a work in progress.  They excused him of everything they would never have permitted in a member of their community.  They dismissed true people of faith as unworthy

So, Mr. Trump was elected with lots of help, small and large drops of evil that buoyed him up.  He didn't win the popular vote (by nearly 3 million votes), but that was in some way a boon for him too.  He could use that to  distract the country from the small evils he would perpetrate.  The Russia investigation, a feud with the FBI, nomination of incompetent, inappropriate, often evil people for all positions in the government would hide the actual dismantling of the government and the programs that supported the American people.

Mr. Trump, by the second year of his term, had pulled in the majority of the Republican leadership.  They too have capitulated, gradually, but inexorably.  Nearly anything Mr. Trump wants, they will agree to with few exceptions, that is until now.

Immigration has been a point of contention for Mr. Trump and his followers for years.  He began his campaign by accusing Mexicans who come here of being rapists.  He has tried to ban Muslims and for no reason except that he can, he tried to stop the "Dreamer" program )DACA), only temporarily halted by the courts.  He stepped up deportations, taking people who have families here to support, who have been here for decades and who have made positive impacts on their communities.  He wants a ridiculous wall and kept claiming it would be higher and higher, as if that would stop desperate people.

In April, he started separating children as young as one year old from their parents at the southern border (as a deterrent), with no specific plans to reunite them.  Children were sent to "baby jails" (now euphemistically called "Tender Age Shelters).  They are cages where children are held without their parents.  Mr. Trump hoped no one would notice, and at first few did.  To date, nearly 25400 children have been separated and taken away.  Mr. Trump makes a lot of claims about the children which sound a lot like the claims about Jewish children made by some Germans in the 1930s, like "they're an infection."  Alas, for Mr. Trump and his evil team, people did take notice and actually stood up to stop it.  Mr. Trump finally signed an executive order to stop stealing the children from their parents, but neglected to say how those already stolen would be reunited.  The order allows establishment of family jails to take the place of the baby jails.  Amazing!  Beware, though, we will all pay for this in some way.  The machine of evil is whirring on and it is guaranteed something currently off the radar will come to bite us or someone else while we are focused on this cruelty.  A man like Mr. Trump who has lied and cheated his way into power will not stop just because he has been checked.  Watch for it!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

WHEN THEY ARE WRONG


by Ruth A. Sheets

In the Pennsylvania legislature, Republicans are working to change the way judges in the state are elected.  This isn't because the current system is not working, but because it is not working for them. 
The Republican party is furious that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned the Republican-drawn/gerrymandered districts as unfair.  Of course, the Republican legislators know very well that their district lines were not drawn fairly.  A lot of time and effort was put into making sure that despite the fact that Pennsylvania has significantly more Democratic voters than Republicans, the Republicans would always have most of the US Congressional and state representatives in their column.  They want the courts too.

This phenomenon is becoming a frequent presence on the American political scene.  Republicans are the most common practitioners.  What is this phenomenon?

When you are caught doing what you know or suspect is wrong, unamerican, or probably illegal, double down on your wrong actions.  If possible, make those you don't like or respect suffer even more.

-Don't hold hearings and a vote on President Obama's nominee for Supreme Court justice (as the Constitution requires), then approve someone perhaps, just barely qualified but conservative enough he will approve anything you want the Court to do for your party and your followers.  then approve only the most ult-right, compliant (to conservative whims) nominees for all Federal court positions, nominees who will regularly rule against women and minorities.

- Your voter I.D. law doesn't pass muster, so work to eliminate as many voting days as possible to inconvenience and discourage poor and minority voters.  Then, make voter registration as difficult as possible for those who don't have easy access to the few registration locations. 

- Purge voter rolls, close to Election Day, mostly of Democratic voters, of course, and when caught, take the case to the Supreme Court which 5-4 says, "OK," when they should have said "No.  Everyone has a right to vote."  Now it's legal, Don't get caught cutting too many minorities on purpose, though.  Just accidentally.

- Migrants and refugees are a terrible problem and those people just keep coming.  We'll build a fence, no, a wall, hire thousands of people to guard the southern border, destroy cashes of water and supplies that would help people crossing the desert.  Since the people keep coming, we'll call them animals and take the children from their mothers at the border as a deterrence.  Oh yes, then the Republican president claims these actions are the fault of Democrats, a lie, but what can you expect.

- Women want control over their own reproduction.  They are moving into the male sphere.  Tell women that birth control is harmful and that abortion will destroy them for life physically and emotionally.  Oh no!  Women know the truth!  We have to stop them, so we'll force insurance companies not to cover birth control.   We'll approve of clinics that lie to patients about everything related to their reproduction.  We'll keep making it harder and harder to get an abortion.  We want the Supreme Court, that we have packed, to say abortion is illegal.  Why is abortion so horrific, you might ask them.  Ummm, it must be in the Bible or something.  Oh wait, it's murder, or something.  Oh yes, it's definitely murder.  We should punish the women who have abortions and the doctors who perform them.

In case it isn't clear, the common factors in all these cases are race, sex, and poverty, white -- or wannabe white, rich -- or wannabe rich, male (Republicans) and everyone else (Democrat and Independent).  To indicate that a Republican might be racist is the greatest insult, they claim.  I don't understand this.  The amount of thought, scheming, and effort Republicans and their allies use to figure out these ingenious actions against African-Americans, immigrants, and women, one would think they were proud of their work and should stand up and state what all Republicans believe deep down.  White, rich men should rule because they know what's best for everyone else, the inferiors who must be kept in their place. 

This situation will not improve until more people stand up to the fear, anger, and privilege Republicans deliberately infuse into everything these days.  The media will not help because they have become lazy and just skim off the top the people and events they will cover. 

Voting at all levels is the key.  Candidates that spew phony patriotism, imply inferiority of any group of people, and toss off easy answers to complex problems do not deserve anyone's vote.  These candidates are wrong and will only double down on their racism, sexism, and xenophobia to no one's benefit but their own.  We must keep this in mind as we face the lies, deceit, and scheming of the 2018 election.