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No Morals In Latest Tweet From You Know Who

June 18, 2019

So..lets unpack the latest crazy tweet from you know who.

Donald Trump said in a tweet Monday night that U.S. immigration agents are planning to make mass arrests starting “next week,” an apparent reference to a plan in place for months that aims to round up thousands of migrant parents and children in a blitz operation across major U.S. cities.

Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States,” Trump wrote, referring to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “They will be removed as fast as they come in.

That would be quite a feat, given that the most people ICE has ever been able to deport in an entire year was 400,000. It’s more ridiculously empty bluster that won’t happen simply because of crowded immigration courts and the lack of housing, food, supplies, medical care, etc. for “millions” of people, let alone the logistics of transporting “millions” of people back to their home countries. Instead, ICE will snatch a bunch of people in some high-profile raids as they have done before, Orange Mussolini will crow about some false victory, and move on to some other deranged and misfired synapse.

Trump did not make any reference in this tweet to the ethical or moral emptiness of his plan. But nether did President Jackson speak to morals and ethics when forcing the Trail of Tears on the Cherokee.

Here is my bottom line. The separation of families should not be a result of any enforcement scheme of our immigration laws. Whether it is ICE forcibly removing the children from their parents at the border, its mandatory detention policies, or this administration’s expanded enforcement priorities, our immigration system must have a moral component at its heart.  Without it we have lost a moral center to the larger policy.

It is most unjust to split families. And we know why there is an effort to do so, as with this latest bombast and bluster. The separation of immigrant families is intentionally designed to destroy people’s hope and break their will so that they forfeit their rights and leave.  That is not the America I know calls to us from our history books.

 

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Sadness As Former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi Dies–First Democratically Elected Leader In Nation

June 17, 2019

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I am saddened to learn of the death of Mohamed Morsi, former president of Egypt.  I was hopeful for his leadership, and mindful for why he was important to the people who elected him to office.

Today Morsi, the country’s first democratically-elected leader died.  He had been in court, where he had been granted a request to make a statement.  Once the court adjourned, he fainted and passed away.

I had hoped with his election progress in Egypt could have taken a similar path to that of Turkey which was able to construct a nation that is western looking while rooted in traditional ways.  (Though the authoritarian moves over the past several years deeply troubles me.)  The people of Egypt desperately wanted a better life.  I had hoped Morsi was the start of a new era.

I was a proud supporter of the Arab Spring, which brought Morsi to power.  I was also a loud critic of the coup by the military which ended the term of the duly elected president.  Traditionally, the army has been the one institution Egyptians trusted to guarantee stability.   The fact they are now also known in the history books as taking down an elected official will long tar their narrative.

In 2012 I wrote the following about Morsi.

There is a need to re-calibrate our relations with the Middle East.  The fact that American money was used to buy autocratic leaders over the decades has not allowed for the best interests of the people who live there to be realized.  If there is contempt for the United States in the way we conducted our foreign policy card we can only look in the mirror to see who should be blamed.

No matter if one views Morsi as good or bad, there is no way to escape the fact he has to be respected for standing up on behalf of a nation that for too long was taken advantage of for our strategic needs.

While America has legitimate reasons to be engaged in the Middle East, and there are countless reasons our foreign aid dollars are meaningful and required, it is also a fact that our interests are not the primary ones.

The people who live in the Middle East come first.

And Egypt’s President, Mohamed Morsi, is reminding us of that fact.

Yes, he deserves our respect.

It is easy to see why there continues to be utter fascination with this historic land.

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Wisconsin Rapids Correct To Push For Strong Anti-Bullying Measure

June 16, 2019

On Tuesday, June 18th, it is very possible the nation will learn about the resolve of the Wisconsin Rapids Common Council to act against bullying.   If the proposed ordinance to impose fines on parents of young bullies passes it will send two messages.  First it will say as a society the victims of bullies have a strong ally.   Secondly, it makes clear that everyone involved with a bullying experience, even the parents of the perpetrator, has to bear some of the responsibility.

The ordinance would prohibit bullying, harassment, and retaliation against anyone who reports such incidents. The measure would also hold parents and guardians responsible for such behavior of children younger than 18 years old. Penalties for a first fineable offense would be $50, with additional costs bringing the total to $313.  I am a strong supporter of this measure, but even more so of the determination of a school district and community to come to terms with the harmful and damaging consequences of bullying.

I write about this matter with a personal perspective.  My best friend and I were victims of bullies throughout our school years, with high school in the late 1970’s being the most intensely troubling.  Three months after graduation the county sheriff arrived at my home to tell me of the suicide of the person who I had known better than anyone else since I was nine years old.  I offer that insight for the sole reason of making it clear I know what is at stake when it comes to youth who are bullied.  My efforts over time from Big Brothers to working with a mentoring program for troubled teenagers has been my way of moving forward.

During my high school years I seriously viewed the hallways and rooms as a gauntlet that was to be navigated and the day without a rough shove or hit a success.  That was my reality.  It was far too easy for faculty to be watching kids torment the smart kids, the gay kids, the kids who were different by pretending not to see anything. See something, say nothing, there is less paperwork and less confrontation with parents—and by extension with administrators who will inevitably choose the wrong side. It was always too easy to hear comments like “That’s so gay!” or “You’re such a wuss”, and more and not have any of the adults in the room stop and make those words a teachable moment.

Why this common council ordinance is so important is that they have accepted there is a problem within the school culture.  They know it will take work, and even thinking outside the box, in order to remedy.  It takes conscious community effort from the school board right on down to the teaching assistants and families who send their kids there, along with a vote Tuesday in the council.  The push back against bullying requires all our help.

Years ago I worked at a non-profit that arranged for mentors to be placed with teenagers who were already in group homes. If these young teens did not set their paths in a more positive direction, things were surely to get worse. Part of my job was to speak with the teenagers, and do an assessment for placement with a mentor. One of the first to sit in the office with me looked every part the average male teenager. He was in a group home, which demonstrated to me that there was a lot going on behind those eyes, even if the eyes seemingly only reflected the lights of the office. I never anticipated, however, the words he spoke in such a plain and powerful way when responding to a question as to why he wanted a mentor. It was not so he could get away from the group home, or catch a burger or pizza, or even toss a football at a park. No, the reason this young man wanted a mentor was distinct. With all seriousness, he declared: “I want someone to talk with; I want someone to hear what I have to say.”

For me hearing those words rang like a stark bell. It was what I had felt at his age. The very thing that I needed at one time in my life so very much, and was unable to articulate the need for, or attain was what this troubled teenager was so simply able to state. This time there was an adult who was listening to what was being said. I was not about to let the ball drop.

Bullying should never be allowed to happen, and we need to make sure the young people in our life have at least one person who is always there to listen, and be non-judgmental. It must be recognized that bullying happens in large part because first there is a bully who taunts, demeans, and harms another be it in psychical or emotional ways. But there also needs to be a clear recognition that those who bully are often allowed to do so because there are others who witness such acts and never take the initiative to make sure that it does not continue.

And that needs to end.  One of the ways to achieve that is with the passage of the ordinance in Wisconsin Rapids which will doubtless makes news nationwide, and encourage other parents and communities to act in a similar measure.

Today’s youth deserve no less.

Pentagon Keeping Trump In Dark So Not To Have Secrets Revealed To Russians

June 16, 2019

This is most telling, and makes for the most important Sunday newspaper article. Ponder the enormity of what has been reported on the front page of the edition of the New York Times which hit front stoops of America this morning.

The United States is stepping up digital incursions into Russia’s electric power grid in a warning to President Vladimir V. Putin and a demonstration of how the Trump administration is using new authorities to deploy cybertools more aggressively, current and former government officials said. In interviews over the past three months, the officials described the previously unreported deployment of American computer code inside Russia’s grid and other targets as a classified companion to more publicly discussed action directed at Moscow’s disinformation and hacking units around the 2018 midterm elections.

Two administration officials said they believed Mr. Trump had not been briefed in any detail about the steps to place ‘implants’ — software code that can be used for surveillance or attack — inside the Russian grid. Pentagon and intelligence officials described broad hesitation to go into detail with Mr. Trump about operations against Russia for concern over his reaction — and the possibility that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials, as he did in 2017 when he mentioned a sensitive operation in Syria to the Russian foreign minister.

When large swaths of the national government does not have faith the person elected president can be trusted…..

That is where we now are in the United States.

War Fever In Trump White House

June 14, 2019

We are not at the point of the 3:00 A.M. phone call in the residence of the White House which is often a talking point in presidential campaigns.  But we are probably well past two in the morning.  And that is most concerning, given what now sits in the Oval Office.

The explosions yesterday which has ratcheted up tension in the Middle East is particularly troubling given the fact Donald Trump has sought to confront and contain Iran since he took office.  He has made deals with the Saudi Kingdom which underscores the larger game plan in the region.  The international community is breathing tightly to see how the most unhinged and erratic holder of the White House will respond to this latest episode.  There was a determination yesterday to assign blame for the explosions on Iran amid skepticism about what really happened.   That mindset continues today.

But that is not the whole story, obviously.  While Trump wants to sell his version of events, it is necessary to know what actually happened.

The Japanese owner of a tanker attacked in the Gulf of Oman states that it was struck by a flying projectile, thereby contradicting reports by U.S. officials and the military on the source of the blast. U.S. Central Command said the two vessels were hit Thursday by a limpet mine, which is attached to boats below the waterline using magnets. Central Command released video it claimed showed an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps patrol boat removing an unexploded mine from one of the tankers, the Kokuka Courageous.

But the owner of the Courageous said sailors saw something flying toward the vessel just before the explosion and that the impact was well above the waterline. “We are absolutely sure that this wasn’t a torpedo,” he said. “I do not think there was a time bomb or an object attached to the side of the ship.”

This is all most serious.  And history is proof as to why there needs to be strict attention to facts.  The international community is most mindful of Washington’s exaggerations and outright misrepresentations of intelligence leading up to the Iraq war.  All have seen the fast and loose nature of how the Trump Administration abuses the truth and is disdainful of facts.

That last point is something I have long stressed on this blog.  The absence of truth on a daily basis from this White House is dangerous when events occur where the integrity and confidence in their leader matters.   No citizen can claim they have trust in what Trump says.  And the clock is ticking towards that morning phone call.

Hard evidence which can be shared with constituencies worldwide is the only way to proceed.  Nothing short of that will be tolerated by voters as a whole.  Not after the invasion of Iraq which was predicated on lies.

War fever warms parts of the Trump base, and there can be a political rationale as to why bombastic moves by Trump on the military front will find much appeal with that segment of the electorate. I readily admit that as a reason the Trump reelection campaign would salivate over such a policy move.

But such a drastic and costly move must not be made on anything other than absolute facts. This time we must not allow for a war based on gut feelings or a messianic complex.

Gaslighting With Sarah Huckabee Sanders

June 14, 2019

I stand with reporters, the right to be informed, knowing fully the value of the Fourth Estate.  So when it comes to Sarah Huckabee Sanders there is nothing but contempt for her on this blog.  She disgraced the office of the press secretary, the nation, and ultimately herself.   Today there is a truly worthwhile read about this matter in the Washington Post.

When Sarah Sanders said Thursday that she hopes to be remembered for her transparency and honesty, the first impulse was to laugh.

But lying to citizens while being paid by them really isn’t all that funny.

Sanders took on an impossible job when she became Trump’s spokeswoman, a job that’s about to reach a welcome conclusion.

She would claim to represent the truth on behalf of a president who lies.

She did it disrespectfully, and apparently without shame or an understanding of what the role of White House press secretary should be.

She misled reporters or tried to, and through them, misled the American people. And all with her distinctive curled-lip disdain.

Thus, she delivered on what New York University professor Jay Rosen has called the “brand promise” of the Trump administration’s treatment of the press: “Watch, we will put these people down for you.”

Her quintessential moment came in the May 11, 2017, White House press briefing in which she was skeptically questioned by Michael Shear of the New York Times about her statements that she’d heard from “countless” FBI employees about how grateful they were that Trump had fired the agency’s director, James B. Comey.

“Really?” asked Shear.

She replied without a shred of doubt, and as if Shear were the dumbest guy she’d ever seen.

“Between, like, email, text messages, absolutely. Yes,” Sanders said. “We’re not going to get into a numbers game. I mean, I have heard from a large number of individuals that work at the FBI that said that they’re very happy with the president’s decision.”

Eventually, she was forced, under oath, to admit that this was made-up nonsense.

The report by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III: “Sanders told this Office that her reference to hearing from ‘countless members of the FBI’ was a ‘slip of the tongue.’ . . . She also recalled that her statement in a separate press interview that rank-and-file FBI agents had lost confidence in Comey was a comment she made ‘in the heat of the moment’ that was not founded on anything.”

Utterly unfounded, but insisted on as if it were carved on tablets, and don’t you dare doubt it. That is a pretty good description of gaslighting.

And gaslighting was a Sanders specialty, day in and day out. (After a while, of course, that became week in and week out, then month in and month out, and finally, not at all, as the once-daily briefings were phased out. The last one was more than 90 days ago.)

Sarah Sanders: As Useful As Eunuch At Sperm Bank

June 13, 2019

News was reported today which should have happened  many, many months ago.

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Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary who lied and continuously demeaned the office she held while defending Donald Trump will leave her position at the end of the month.  Readers of history in the decades to come will learn of a pastor’s daughter who took a road that was not taught from the pulpit.  Contempt and disdain for the press is not a becoming color on anyone.

When the history books are written about this almost indescribable period in our nation’s story Sanders will go down as a person who had the power to stop the lies, but instead took the path that Star Wars fans know all too well.  She chose the dark side.

She very well could have made a difference that historians would have been able to raise up as a lesson for future generations.  She could have used her position to advance the truth.  She would have been fired, for sure, by Trump.  But she would have lived her life as her father had raised her in a God-fearing home.  Instead Sanders traveled that darker road where the White House Press Secretary was nothing more than another lightweight working for Fox News.

On my bookshelves, which are behind and around me as I blog, are the books written by other press secretaries.  Ones written by Jody Powell, Ron Nessen, and Marlin Fitzwater.  I fully understand that most of my readers do not have these books in their homes, have probably never read them, and I would bet my entire Elvis album collection do not recognize those names.

But those names do matter.  They represent both sides of the aisle.  And they were men of honor, knowing the important role they served not only to the White House, but more importantly to the nation.  Once a press secretary is not seen as honest or credible they are as useful as an eunuch at a sperm bank.  The important role that Powell, Nesson, and Fitzwater undertook–in the midst of their individual and political crises–could have been a great history lesson for Sanders.  But history is not something this White House prides itself on.

So why do I take this all so seriously?

I am most confident that the next best job in the White House after that of president, is press secretary.  It is a role I would love to have had the chance to perform.

Watching a real press secretary operate at the daily briefing is like seeing a talented dancer balance and pivot from note to note.  It is a job that requires lots of background and gravitas, along with an appreciation for the members of the working press.  I would thrill for such an opportunity.  For the record, of those press secretaries who did write a book I found Ron Nesson the best read.

As to what is now departing there are only three words to end this post which sum up my feelings.

What a waste.

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