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The Crisis is Upon Us

Excellent essay by Padre Steve concerning the dark skies facing American society in the Trump era due to his reaction to the 2018 midterm elections. Checks and balances definitely need to be forthcoming to avoid disaster precipitated by his ill-conceived agenda. – rjc

Padre Steve's World: Resist the Beginning, Consider the End

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

The election is over, and save for some recounts in tightly contested races the Democrats have won the House of Representatives with a convincing win despite many overwhelmingly gerrymandered districts in Red States, while the GOP increased its majority in the Senate. The Democrats also made significant headway in State races and for the first time in many years now hold a majority of governorships.

In response President Trump behaved as any tyrant would have. He attacked the press, he suspended the press privileges of CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta after an altercation in which after the President berated Acosta a female staffer attempted to take a microphone out of Acosta’s hands.

During the press conference the President said that he would “work with Democrats” but would go to war if the new House majority exercised its constitutional right to conduct investigations into the…

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Haunted By The Ghosts of Anti-Semitism

The rampant hatred of years gone by is remaining partially submerged no longer, led by a xenophobe who managed to become President of the USA. He and like-minded people in other nations are rising to power with hate-filled rhetoric and encouragement of political, racial and religious violence in far too many countries once again. This essay by Sally Edelstein illustrates how peoples targeted by these hateful ideologies are affected by them, and how they must be resisted vociferously by the vast majority of people who recognize the evil they represent. Trump’s current rampage against refugees and immigrants in general in an attempt to foment hatred and violence to distract us in the days before our midterm elections less than a week from now needs to be strongly condemned and a message must be sent on November 6th, list the voices of hatred and inhumanity lead us into a future of authoritarian fascism we may have thought we would face “Never Again” – rjc

Envisioning The American Dream

Yellow Jewish Star Jude

Just in time for Halloween the frightening ghosts and goblins of anti-Semitism past have arisen from their slumber. This virulent strain of hate never really disappeared, merely reawakened.

And it is deadly.

I am scared.

I am haunted.

I am a Jew.

I am haunted by the solemn voice of my childhood Rabbi whose thunderous High Holiday sermons referencing the Holocaust declared “Never Again,” sentiments echoed by Hebrew school teachers.

I am haunted by the countless conversations overhead as a child of anxious parents and family friends debating plaintively … “could ithappen here?”

I am haunted by the knowledge that for my parent’s generation, a generation of Jews who lived a life of assimilation yet kept one eye open for that display of anti-Semitism that has always lived right below the surface.

I am haunted by the fact that my parent’s generation was right to believe that anti-Semitism never…

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Trump’s Flaky Finances

Recently, the New York Times published an article resulting from the culmination of an in-depth investigation into the Trump family finances beginning with his father’s business dealings up until recent years. As has been his practice relating to his personal story in most aspects of his life, Donald Trump’s economic rise after a mere $1 million loan from his father to his current billionaire status appears to have undergone considerable embellishment over the years. Much of his current wealth appears to have been gifted  to him over a period of time to avoid the payment of much of it to the government in the form of tax obligations.

Donald Trump’s self-promotion throughout his career as a real estate tycoon, entrepreneur of a sizable business empire, television personality and now politician has often seemed just a bit sketchy. Company bankruptcies, reports of lawsuits due to failure to  pay contractors for jobs or fraudulence practiced by Trump University, along with tax irregularities punctuated by numerous audits ( including the one that he used as an excuse to refuse disclosing his tax returns prior to his 2016 election) all seemed to put chinks in the shiny armor of brilliant business acumen and personal awesomeness he sought to portray in every aspect of his life. While never claiming to be perfect (to the best of my knowledge), he never did quite seem to be able to admit a fault or mistake in his business or personal affairs.

Never at a loss for words when it comes to denigrating media in general or the “failing New York Times” (his words) in particular, his apparent lack of a caustic response to this particular article refuting his own rendition of how he earned his fortune with minimal assistance from his father is somewhat perplexing. Perhaps he’s laying low on this particular issue in hopes that it won’t snowball into a major avenue of investigation by the Special Counsel’s office or raise eyebrows in Congress’s shoddy investigations into Trump’s activities during the campaign and his first years in office. That would probably be a wise course of action on his part, though listening to advice from his legal team has not appeared to one of his strengths since hitting the campaign trail and subsequently taking office.

Trump has been playing fast and loose with many aspects of his role as President as has been practiced by his predecessors. Being unwilling to set aside business interests to allay fears that he will succumb to temptation to use his office for the purpose of profiting economically breaks with a long tradition of office holders liquidating assets and placing them in a blind trust to make that form of corruption difficult if not impossible. Flaunting the nepotism laws to make his daughter and son-in-law key senior advisors and releasing his tax returns are also ways in which Trump has refused to take steps to avoid forms of political corruption which candidates for the highest office in the land have willingly submitted themselves to.

Up until the 1930’s, no President had sought to stay in office for more than two terms, despite the fact that term limits were not addressed in the Constitution. FDR did – going so far as to get elected to a fourth term before dying in office. Shortly thereafter, an amendment to the US Constitution was passed that set limits to how long a President could remain in office. JFK appointed his brother Attorney General. Shortly thereafter, legislation forbidding that form of nepotism in the future was also passed. Donald Trump has not been legally obligated to release his tax returns. He has not done so, despite the fact that candidates for President have voluntarily done so for decades in order to reassure voters that they are above reproach in that regard. Count on Trump’s returns being submitted to at least some members of a Congressional investigation should Democrats regain control of either House in the upcoming midterm elections – either voluntarily upon request or to comply with a subpoena. At any rate, expect legislation to be forthcoming making such disclosure mandatory sometime in the not-too-distant future.

Whether or not President Trump is legally vulnerable due to improprieties in his business dealings prior to or while serving as President of the United States has not yet been determined. Whether his ongoing efforts to maintain secrecy in these matters rises to the level of obstruction is also unclear – at least to me. One thing is clear, however. This President has proven, beyond the shadow of a doubt (which is firmer ground than reasonable doubt), that he is ready, willing and able to lie about just about anything he desires, whenever he wants to. I would not trust him to be truthful about just about anything unless he had documentation to verify his claims. That is especially true in dealing with his business and other financial matters.

Donald Trump has had free reign to do much in his nearly two years in office, due in large part to the fact that his party controls the legislative branch and is enabling him to get away with just about anything the judiciary won’t stop him from doing. The Judiciary is quickly being turned into a rubber stamp for Trump as well. Kavanaugh’s confirmation to SCOTUS is just the most high-profile example of this, but it is replicated in the lower courts as well. Congressional Republicans have only prevented him from more fully enacting his agenda through their inability to unite behind him 100% on some issues and their inability to pass difficult legislation that he would need to meet his goals. Health care and his infamous border wall are probably the two biggest examples of this.

November 6th will go a long way towards determining exactly how much more damage this President can cause before he must personally face the voters again in 2020. Various states are doing their utmost to hold down the votes of people they strongly suspect will vote against the GOP/Trump agenda. We need to make sure nobody who should be able to vote is prevented from doing so. President Trump must be denied the ability to place himself above the law and rule without the consent of the governed. He also needs to be prevented from hiding facts about his personal and financial conduct that may prove his fitness (or lack thereof) to continue to serve in that capacity.

Suggested Further Reading:

Daddy’s Boy: New York Times Investigation Exposes the Breadth of Trump’s Lies and Corruption

The Dubious Fiction of Donald Trump’s Fortune Has Been Exposed

Don’t Think The Trumps Were The Only Landlords To Screw Their Renters

Fraud of Trump’s self-made persona exposed in father’s financials

Following report, Trump crafts underwhelming response to fraud allegations

3 Takeaways From the New York Times’ Bombshell Trump Investigation

Democrats Now Have A Roadmap For Investigating The Trump Crime Family

Trump Family’s Massive Tax Con Job Has Been Hiding in Plain Sight for Years. And It Could Cost Them Millions

How Democrats hope to obtain Trump’s tax returns

Here are all the Trump projects where Ivanka and her dad misled real estate buyers

This is your daily reminder that all roads lead back to Donald Trump’s tax returns

The First Family of Fraud

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David Swanson: We Need a New Armistice Day + Transcript

Another eloquent post by David Swanson via Dandelion Salad blog. Before it was renamed Veterans Day, the holiday was called Armistice Day, in honor of the date of November 11, 1918 and the signing of the treaty that ended World War I. The War to End All Wars obviously did not achieve that lofty goal. We need to work together to end the use of violence and murderous force as a means of resolving conflicts. We need to stop glorifying war, those who fight and die in war, but especially those who profit enormously through the conduct of war with little or no risk to themselves.

Early on in his Presidency, Donald Trump sought to hold a very expensive and gawdy display of US military might in the form of a huge military parade. That is the last thing we need at this point in our history. We need reason to create a new holiday, one dedicated to celebrating an end to war and the dawn of a more peaceful and enlightened society – a true Armistice Day to replace a holiday that reminds us of how futile war has become as a means of resolving human conflict. The wars we have conducted recently and those we are continuing to fight today never seem to end and the only “victors” seem to be those profiting from the death and destruction while not physically endangering themselves at all. End them before they end us. – RJC

 

via David Swanson: We Need a New Armistice Day + Transcript

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17 Years of Getting Afghanistan Completely Wrong by David Swanson

In-depth analysis of the never-ending quagmire that is the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan by the USA. Diplomacy by failed military adventurism in all its glory – or is that infamy? Three US Presidents and still no end in sight. Only winners I see so far are the merchants of death/AKA arms manufactures. – RJC

via 17 Years of Getting Afghanistan Completely Wrong by David Swanson

Land of the free? How Trump has put America’s identity in peril

Great analysis of the Trump Administration’s performance to date and warning of the perils we may face in the future with him at the helm. – rjc

RadioActive1 WBOB - We're Back On The Block

As the midterm elections approach, Ben Fountain argues white voters should know that a real democracy can only survive if there is true equality for everyone

By Ben Fountain | The Guardian | September 23, 2018


Some 20 months into his term Trump has been pretty much the president we expected: loud, boastful, bullying, reckless, ruder than the worst-bred minor royalty, tetchy as a wolverine in heat. The main thing to note is the very most main thing: he’s still going.

The juggernaut that was launched off the down escalator at Trump Tower back in 2015 rolls on, strewing bodies and busted parts in its wake and one hell of a nasty stink, yet roll it does with undiminished vigor.

Is there anything left to say that would stop it? Think of the hundreds of millions of words that have been thrown at him the last three years, every kind…

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In the Public Interest: Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?

Some excellent questions raised by Ralph Nader for which the American public deserves answers, but which those responsible for answering them seem to either be asleep at the wheel in the performance of their jobs or just flat out refusing to do so. Far more government accountability is necessary for us to regain a functional democracy rather than continuing to slip into authoritarian plutocracy. – rjc

Source: In the Public Interest: Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?

The Importance of Labor and Labor Day

Excellent commentary and history of labor in the United States. Labor Day has had its ups and downs in this country, as have labor laws and the rights of workers. Our current Administration gives lip service to valuing workers, while eroding labor rights at seemingly every turn. We need to strengthen labor protections both in this country and worldwide to lessen the ability of the oligarchs to exploit the workers who produce the goods and services that make so few of them even more enormously wealthy while pitting us against each other to work harder while lowering our standard of living slowly but surely.

The path that Trump and the GOP are taking us down will only succeed in making most of us poorer in the long run and distract our attention from their exploitation of our labor to augment their bank accounts through use of their undeserved privilege, which they see as either their birthright or the fruits of their superior merit as human beings or some combination thereof. Immigrants and people of different religions, races, ethnicity or sexual or gender preference are not the enemy. The hunger for power over others and greed for material possessions in excess of real need for them cause the problems that then become scapegoated into irrelevant differences  used as excuses for much of the warfare and social turmoil that result in the situation like that we face now.

Hopefully, we will someday see a society where all work to improve the welfare of all in a more cooperative endeavor, so that all will have enough to not only survive, but to thrive, unhindered by greed-driven wars and grand theft. The way to achieve this is to stop electing folks like our current President and his powerful enablers elsewhere in government and society at large and choose a path that progresses to more equality and peace rather than regression to times when life was even worse for most people than it is now. Turning the clock back on labor and worker rights, like dismantling the social safety nets that took so long to develop, as has been broadly supported by some very prominent leaders in this country and abroad recently, is something we must oppose with every fiber of our beings. – RJC

Padre Steve's World: Resist the Beginning, Consider the End

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Today is Labor Day and sadly many people don’t really understand its significance. For decades organized labor has been demonized by the descendants of people who died to secure decent working conditions, wages, and benefits for regular hard working people. The attacks on labor and workers have become much more pronounced under the Trump Administration than any prior administration since that of Herbert Hoover.

But most of the people lucky enough not to have to work on Labor Day really don’t know why it it matters, and whips in spite of those who despise labor and care not a whit about working people, who simply to use business terminology are simply human capital or resources. I actually despise those terms because they dehumanize people by turning them into impersonal economic units of measure.

So today I am digging into the vault to explore why Labor…

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We Now Live Under The Rule Of A Rentier Capitalism by Paul Street

An excellent essay by Paul Street explaining many of the trends in advanced capitalist societies in the last several decades which have resulted in vastly increased economic inequality within them as compared to the early decades of the Post WWII era. Wealth, income and political influence have become increasingly concentrated in fewer hands, exacerbated by laws and policies which enable such trends. Intellectual property laws, tax laws favoring certain forms of income over others, and ownership of property (physical as well as intellectual) along with how the wealth becomes re-distributed over time, result in more really rich folks and many, many more living in poverty.

Some examples of how this works are easily gleaned when one examines our current health care system and the pharmaceutical industry serve to impoverish so many. Health insurance provided by employers or on an individual basis has gradually (Depending on how one one defines that term) become more costly for employees at the same time as their paychecks have failed to keep up with the cost of living in other areas of their lives. The increasing number of new jobs replacing old jobs but at lower pay and benefits hurts millions. Allowing pharmaceutical companies to prey on captive audiences of people requiring their products to become healthy or just to stay alive (through the use of patent and other laws that enable them to often make windfall profits on their products, regardless of the effect those prices have on those who pay them) ,eams that more people than ever before are just one hospital stay away from lifetime debt and/or bankruptcy.

To date, most countries have done a better job of alleviating the effects of these changes as regards health care than the US has, but the overall extremity of the problem hits other areas of our lives as well. Climate change becomes an even more urgent problem, especially when governments like our current one continue to urge increased consumption of the various energy and other industrial and agricultural methods that speed up the climate change to begin with. To put it simply, we allow a small number of oligarchs to profit tremendously at the expense of the vast mass of humanity with little or no regard for the future.

The solutions to these problems exist, though they have been and will continue to be fiercely opposed by most of the people who have gained control of most of the world’s wealth. The time to slow down, stop and begin to reverse this path of personal and societal destruction is long overdue. Our government and economic system need to become friendlier to us by becoming saner in the ways in which we are all treated by the system, and the ways in which we treat our planet. H/T to Dandelion Salad blog. – RJC

via We Now Live Under The Rule Of A Rentier Capitalism by Paul Street

Refugees- A Moral Obligation and a Call to Action

Another excellent missive from Envisioning the American Dream by Sally Edelstein concerning our responsibilities with regard to refugees and the utter hypocrisy of Donald Trump and key advisers (most notably Stephen Miller on this issue) in formulating a policy regarding how we as a nation treat people seeking refuge from a homeland which has torn their world asunder. Bereft of any humanitarian moral courage, the policy to this point has resulted in large scale separation of family members from each other with no thought of reuniting them, as well as denying valid applications for asylum and deportation back to their countries of origin despite the very real dangers posed to the lives of people thus turned away from our borders. The total lack of humanity and any semblance of compassion in dealing with this tragic situation illustrates how far from American values our government has come when led by a President and key adviser who have benefited mightily from more benevolent immigration policies from years gone by.

The USA has not always been charitable when dealing with those who seek to come live within our borders, but this current attitude of xenophobia, racism and fear mongering is neither warranted nor a valid reflection of how a majority of the American people would seek to treat people living in such dire straits. Not only does this policy need to be called out for the morally bankrupt fiasco it has turned into, but Congress needs to stop sitting on its collective hands and pass legislation spelling out a better way to deal with immigration which not only deals with enabling people being persecuted and mistreated in their homelands (for whatever illegitimate reasons) to escape the dire circumstances that drove them to seek asylum here, but also to be treated with the compassion and dignity that should be afforded all people as an integralpart of their basic rights as human beings. – RJC

 

Envisioning The American Dream

Vintage United Jewish Appeal Ad 1947 image of little girl “Stretch out your hand in brotherhood, open your heart in compassion.”

Just like my own Jewish family, White House senior advisor Steven Miller’s family was the beneficiary of immigration policies  that his own administration is working so hard to undo.

Trump may be unhinged but Steven Miller is clearly unmoored, especially when it comes to his own family roots.

Like many Jewish Americans, Steven Miller is from a family of immigrants and refugees who desperately came to this country escaping anti Jewish pograms.

But unlike most Jewish Americans who feel a deep sense of obligation to help the next generation of  refugees, Steven Miller is Trump’s architect of his draconian immigration  policy.

Miller is a disgrace to America and a disgrace to the Jews.

Even Miller’s uncle has recently written a scathing editorial eviscerating his black sheep nephew calling him a “immigration hypocrite.”

Jews and Jewish organizations have longed stepped…

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