This chaos could destroy us

This is the look of a petulant toddler holding his breath until he gets $5 billion to keep out the brown people he doesn’t like.

 

For the first time in my life, I can’t imagine how this will be resolved.

Knowing government the way I do as a history buff and a journalist always made me feel a little safer in tough times.

But this is different. This is bad on a whole other scale than Richard Nixon or George W. Bush.

I was a young adult during the Watergate hearings. We had no way of knowing how far Nixon would go to protect his presidency, but in the end, he had a shred of decency in him, just enough to know he had to resign for the good of the nation.

But what we have now is an incompetent fool in the White House, a creature who’s obviously mentally ill and very dangerous. He’s a pathological liar, a sociopath and a hate-spewing bigot who cares nothing for anybody other than himself.

His vice president is just as dangerous as he is, a fundamentalist “Christian” who wants to transform this nation into a theocracy.

We have chaos in the Middle East, much of it caused by our oil policies and by our blind support of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians, led by people like Pence who want Armageddon to come so Jesus will return, and today we hear that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government is being dissolved and new elections are being called for the spring.

And, while I’m happy to see American soldiers coming home, I fear the abrupt manner in which they’re being removed from Syria and Afghanistan will cause massive instability.

Wall Street is in free fall, thanks to this creature’s ranting about firing the Fed Chair, his trade wars, his insistence on $5 billion to build a wall most of us don’t want, his firing of anyone who tries to talk sense into him and his denigration of our allies.

Our government is partially shut down, meaning 800,000 people are without a paycheck (although Congress is not among them). Half the Cabinet is missing and the other half is incompetent. I mean, a man with the nickname, “Mad Dog” was considered to be the most moderate person in the room.

And Mad Dog Mattis was tasked with keeping this slovenly, tantrum-throwing toddler in an old white man’s body in line.

I don’t think we can survive another two years with this creature in the White House, but I don’t see Republicans moving to remove him before the damage is too severe to repair. This man could cause worldwide economic collapse, but the Republicans continue to sit on their hands, and the Democrats are doing nothing to force them out of their stupor.

He has fired the Secretary of Defense and replaced him with a businessman who has no experience in government. That’s right, we have a novice in charge of the largest military in the world. He fired the Attorney General and replaced him with a lackey. He seated a sexual predator and drunk on the Supreme Court because he knew Brett Kavanaugh would give him anything he wants in return. A hallmark of this administration is the ineptitude of all its appointments. Each federal agency is being led by someone who wants to destroy it.

I fear this creature’s supporters will resort to violence if he’s removed from office, but if he’s not removed, I fear even worse consequences for all of us.

Maybe we do need to tear it all down. Maybe a total collapse would allow us to remake society in a different way, with real rules for the wealthy and true equal opportunities for people who happen to be anything other than white and male.

But right now, today, as we look ahead to the new year, it looks bleak.

In my 66 years, I’ve never felt as though things might not be OK in the coming year. Even during the Cuban Missile Crisis, I had faith that the government could avert nuclear war, that there were people in charge who understood the weight of their decisions. That’s not true now. What we have is a petulant toddler let loose to wreak his havoc.

May we survive another year as a nation, and as a species.

A message to Millennials about disappointment and revolution

bird party

You so wanted Bernie. I know. I did, too.

But I also wanted Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern.

My generation had the Vietnam War, as seemingly never-ending as Afghanistan is today.

We had the draft, and rich kids got out of it because they could afford college and then grad school and medical deferments.

Today, college is even more expensive — much, much more expensive, actually — giving most of your generation the choice of military service or a lifetime of debt.

The system is even more corrupt and you feel powerless. Bernie was our best hope of fixing it, but the system crushed our hopes. The DNC steam-rolled the primaries, I believe, because Hillary was promised the nomination this time for stepping aside last time. The media, which worked hand-in-hand with Wall Street and Big Money, ignored Bernie and focused on the circus that is Trump.

I do get it.

And I’m not going to tell you that you HAVE to vote for Hillary, even though I believe we can’t allow Trump anywhere near the White House, nor can we allow any Republican to appoint justices to the Supreme Court.

But you have thought about that, and your attitude is NOT that of a spoiled child. Don’t let anyone tell you it is.

Perhaps we really do need for the current system to crumble before we can build a better one. I hope for your sake that’s not the case.

You’re scared about what’s happening to this country because you have to live in it for the next 50 or 60 years — that is, if you can survive on starvation wages and without access to quality health care.

So what do you do?

Well, we all work together.

Bernie started a movement, and perhaps, like Moses, he won’t lead us into the Promised Land. Perhaps it’s up to the next generation to finish the work he has started. Maybe we need to build on his work at the local, state and Congressional levels.

There are a number of candidates running for offices down-ticket who share Bernie’s views and passions. Vote for them. Get out and work for them. Do phone banking for an hour or two a week. Knock on doors. Donate to their campaigns if you have a spare few bucks.

Don’t let any right-wing candidate run unopposed. Find a candidate, either in an established party or in a third party. Even now, when it’s too late to get on the printed ballot for November, we can — and must — run write-in campaigns for good candidates. Local and state elections are our best hope right now, and the best way to build a viable third party.

The right built its success over many years, quietly winning local elections, then seats in state legislatures and finally taking Congress.

I’m part of the Moral Monday Movement, which is a fusion movement. Together we work on health care, voting rights, common sense gun laws, education, LGBT rights, the campaign for a living wage, safe housing …

The most frustrating thing about the Movement is that it takes time.

It’s important to not listen to elders who tell you that you don’t know how to make these changes, because the phrase, “that’s not how we did it,” is so dangerous.

We did make change, but we didn’t finish the job, obviously. We changed laws and the right wingers gained power and chipped away at the changes we made.

But we are fighting back. Yesterday, I was in Richmond, Va., in federal court, listening to the NC NAACP’s lawyers challenging North Carolina’s voter suppression law. I think it went well. I think we have a good chance of overturning most or all of the provisions.

In fact, most of the worst of the laws these clowns in North Carolina have passed are working their way through the courts, costing taxpayers millions of dollars.

I hate that it takes so much time to do this work, but I will stay in the fight because I’m fighting for your generation more than for my own.

And I want you to know that there are more people of my generation who understand than you think, and we want to work with you.

With our experience and your fresh ideas, this revolution (actually, more of an evolution) can’t fail.

Which criminals cost us more?

I spent a blissful five days without the Internet last week, except for what I could get and transmit from my phone, which I could only use outside in 95-degree heat.

I had to rely on television news — in Texas — for my information. All it did was piss me off.

Early in the week, one local station promised an investigative report on illegal immigrants.

“They come into this country and commit crimes. They get arrested and cost U.S. taxpayers money. How much? Tune in to hear the whole story.”

Probably each undocumented alien who gets arrested — which is a small number compared to the number who are here — costs us a few thousand dollars.

Compare that to the Wall Street moguls who destroyed our economy. They cost us billions, and not one of them went to jail for their activities. In fact, they’re still doing the same things they did before the economy crashed, and those of us who have to work for a living and pay taxes to fund two wars are losing our jobs and our homes at rates not seen since the 1930s.

And how about BP Oil? They spilled millions and millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, killing birds, fish and other wildlife, poisoning salt marshes and estuaries where sea creatures reproduce. The oil is still there, even though we can’t see it. It will affect the sea life and the livelihoods of people along the coast for generations to come. That cost us taxpayers billions, too.

No one went to jail for that, either. In fact, the oil companies are making record profits as we who have less income pay ever more at the pump. There are promises to investigate that, but nothing’s being done yet.

It’s not new — as my father was dying from emphysema in the 1980s, tobacco company executives were testifying before Congress.

“No sir, I don’t believe nicotine is addictive,” they said as the committee members nodded and pretended to believe.

That bastard didn’t get charged with perjury, even though we all know he was lying.

Illegal immigration is down because our economy is a mess. Still, the wealthy want us to blame someone other than the real culprits for our economic woes. They want to distract us from the real issues, and most of the media follow merrily along, holding the shiny object of illegal immigration in front of us while corporations and their minions steal us blind.

Tune in at 11 for more shine objects.

Gambling with our money

OK, let’s say your friend comes to you and begs to borrow $500. He’s got a system that’s sure to beat the house. He’s always been a good friend, so you trust him enough to lend him the money.

He gambles and loses every penny, so he comes to you and demands $1,000 because it’s your fault he lost. You weren’t wise enough with your money, he says, and he forces that $1,000 out of you through the court.

Now you’re really hurting, so you ask for help and your now former friend laughs at you and says he needs more. He goes to the government and gets millions and you have to pay higher taxes so the government can get it back. At the same time, the government cuts off any assistance you were getting, and your employer cuts back on your health care and other benefits.

This is what the banks and Wall Street have done to us.

They took out homes as collateral and gambled away the money we were paying in mortgage payments. When the bottom fell out, they demanded our homes back and then pleaded poverty to the federal government, which bailed them out.

There were no payments to working Americans; in fact, before the government would agree to bail out General Motors, it made the workers make concessions, like cuts to their pay and benefits, for the sins of their management.

What’s worse is that no one has gone to jail for this theft. The wealthy bankers who casued this mess have had their taxes reduced while the rest of us are paying a higher percentage of our dwindling salaries.

They have destroyed private-sector unions and now are working on killing the public-sector unions. They took down ACORN, one of the most effective community-organizing groups ever.

They want is in disarray because that makes us less effective in fighting against them.

But there is some hope. Recall groups in Wisconsin are doing well. People are waking up and understanding that these budget cuts are a sham designed to move more wealth to the top, and they’re getting angry.

The banks and Wall Street haven’t changed the way they do business. Everything that brought us to disaster is still being done.

It’s our money, and we have to break their gambling habit.

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