Tag Archives: politics

Health Hazard

I am annoyed with Donald Trump.  Not merely annoyed, I have come to the conclusion that the man is hazardous to my health.  It’s getting so I am apprehensive about waking up in the morning to hear NPR bring me news of the latest atrocity committed by Mr. Trump’s administration.

The “national emergency” that he has just discovered at our southern border is today’s latest example.  If there is such a crisis (which I do not believe actually exists), why did it take him two years to find it?  The “crisis” of course is phony.  It serves only as a ploy to circumvent the normal channels of legislation.  He was unable to get a border wall funding bill through Congress.  The sloppy art of his deal was to wait until a quarter of the government ran out of money and then use that as leverage to get what he wants.

This is not negotiating.  This is taking hostages and making a non-negotiable demand.

Of course, this ploy would not work so well were it not for the collusion of Mitch McConnell (and the majority of Republicans).  Mitch says there is no point in having the Senate consider funding the government unless the president will sign the bill.  I must admit that there is a certain appeal to that argument.  I mean, why bother to legislate?  Never mind the Senate’s Constitutional duty.  But in reality, the only thing Mr. Trump wants to sign is the back of a check from the taxpayers for his Great-Great Wall. 

What Mitch is really saying by refusing to consider anything else is that the Republicans are ready to agree to the ransom demand.

If Mitch had any backbone, he would tell Mr. Trump that the only legislation the Senate will pass is a bill that would immediately re-open the government, provide funding for more immigration judges, provide humanitarian assistance to asylum-seeking families who are stuck at the border, and sure, providing some better electronic and technological surveillance on the border.  Next, Congress should take up comprehensive immigration reform.  (Okay, I can already hear the laughter from the invertebrate Republicans.)

A “physical barrier “at the border is nonsense.  Considering the time it would take to complete a massive federal construction project, it can hardly be called an urgent response to a “national emergency.”  As far as I can see, the only ones to benefit are the contracting outfits who would do the construction at inflated “government work” prices.

And that’s just today’s atrocity!  These are supposed to be my golden years, but how can I enjoy them with Mr. Trump in charge of my country?  It’s like having perpetual acid reflux.  My greatest existential fear is dying while he is still in office.  It will take years to undo the damage that he has already caused.  I can only hope that I should live so long.


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    On March 2, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he would recuse himself “from matters with the Trump campaign,” including investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The announcement came after news reports that Sessions had spoken with the Russian ambassador at least twice during the campaign. Sessions…
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    This post follows Immigration Part 1: How Did We Get Here? and Immigration Part 2: Establishing Equity. Part 1 covers United States immigration policy and politics prior to 1965. Part 2 examines three decades of immigration legislation between 1965 and 1996 and the recommendations of two blue-ribbon commissions appointed to…

A Less Than Perfect Union

I have been reading Ron Chernow’s biography of General Ulysses S. Grant.  It is a slow read—I am just over half-way through with some 400 pages to go. 

It is 1865 and Lee has surrendered at Appomattox Court House.  In Washington that April, Grant is greeted as a hero, and President Lincoln invites the general and his wife Julia to accompany him and the president’s wife Mary to the theater.  Grant politely declines.  He and Julia are weary of the public attention and board a train bound for their home in Burlington, New Jersey.  That evening at Ford’s Theater, John Wilkes Booth, a racist Confederate-sympathizer and mediocre stage-actor, shoots Lincoln in the back of the head.  Grant learns of the shooting before his train reaches Burlington, and by the time Grant returns to Washington the next morning, Lincoln is dead.

But the war is not over when Andrew Johnson is sworn in as President.  Near Raleigh, Confederate General Joseph Johnston’s army surrenders to Union General William Tecumseh Sherman, but Confederate resistance continues in Tennessee, Texas, Alabama and Arkansas.

With Congress in recess, President Johnson begins to implement “reconstruction” by presidential proclamation, but his goal is not reconstruction but instead restoration of rule by the white former slave-owning class.  The President believes in white supremacy: “This is a country for white men and by God, as long as I am President, it shall be a government for white men.”

Before the end of 1865, segregation is born in the South.  The Thirteenth Amendment abolishes slavery, but slavery is replaced by violent oppression of the black population.  In May 1866, white vigilantes in Memphis burn black homes, schools and churches in the name of “white man’s government,” killing 48 blacks and injuring 70 more.  In July, a white mob backed up by local police attacks blacks in New Orleans, killing 34.  Grant becomes convinced that the presence of federal troops is necessary to ensure the security of blacks in the South.  That summer, Confederate veterans in Tennessee form the Ku Klux Klan.

The Radical Republicans in Congress pass the Fourteenth Amendment, guaranteeing citizenship of former slaves by declaring “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside”—what we are now calling “birthright citizenship.”  Opposed by President Johnson and rejected by southern states, the Fourteenth Amendment is eventually ratified in 1868.

It is an exercise in creative dissonance to be reading this history of the nation’s divisions 150 years ago while living in a new era of division, a time when the occupant of the White House would not be fit to wipe Lincoln’s boots let alone lead the Union he loved and fought for.

Today, when too often a black life does not seem to matter, we have a president who sees “fine people” in a violent white mob in Charlottesville.  We have a president who defines the country by the size of its wall and not by the strength of its bedrock principles.  It is a president and a new Republican party who define the country by exclusion and by the notion that we are not a big enough country for immigrants.  They would find America’s greatness not in its ideas about freedom and refuge but in its power to arrest, separate, incarcerate and deport.

Today’s president is not as vocal—or as honest—as Andrew Johnson was in espousing white supremacy, but he seems to hold immigrants in the same regard as Johnson held former slaves.  The promise of the Fourteenth Amendment is “ridiculous” and “has to end.”  He is a (get-over-it) “Nationalist” (okay?) and proud of it.  It is a nationalism that needs an excludable other to exist.  If he could get away with it, I think he would exclude blacks (but he is satisfied with his party’s voter suppression strategy).  In this president’s mind, though, immigrants are excludable, and he has said (or Tweeted) as much.

In Senate races, the mid-term election results vindicate this president’s view of the country, while in the House a different view has prevailed.  Reconstruction may be possible.

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Some other stuff for later,

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