Onset of the Second Year

Let's Make America Great Again

Let’s Make America Great Again

Here it is January 3, 2018 and the beginning of the second year of the 45th U.S. Presidential administration.

The headlines throughout the first brought shock, amazement, outrage, disappointment, fear. They incited resistance by some followed by affirmative action by others who had more power and resources. The defenders of the Reich (oh, I mean regime) did their best to make excuses for the unacceptable or disparage representations of what was blatantly put before a world audience by the model. But the slow progress to our journey into darkness continues.

What are we being told when traditional journalists who broadcast their researched editorial opinions that are negative toward the President find themselves removed from their positions?
Fortunately, the phrase “fake news” is now considered a punch line for satirical monologues and comedy acts. But it appears the new McCarthy Era is going through birthing pains to resume its place in our society.

This morning’s reportage of the schoolyard taunts between the leader of the U.S. and the leader of North Korea about whose button is bigger again makes us wonder how far in the future is the reality of nuclear war because two narcissists want to implicitly compare their genitals via amount of power they have.

The smoke issued from the White House in the form of threats this year (and a type of bombastic display) are numerous. Merely attempting to locate the link regarding the firing of a CBS news anchor revealed this list of related searches:

  • colbert on trump
  • trump threatens media
  • trump threatens venezuela
  • trump threatens paul ryan
  • donald trump threatens pope
  • colbert late show trump
  • trump threatens nuclear war
  • trump threatens north korea

There may be some specter of hope for positive change on the horizon. In the process of confirming which administration is currently in charge of our country, some interesting headlines tumbled into my search results, headlines that urge reflection and consideration. What those headlines suggest is altogether more positive than the negative emotions created in the past. They imply that the time for accountability has arrived. They suggest the time for more assertiveness by the republic has arrived. (Think, “When in the course of events . . .”)

Those research headlines said:

There are probably a lot more that are similar; these were sufficient.

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Hispanic Migration Circa 2006

[November 25, 2017]

Barriers to immigration

Barriers to immigration

The current rhetoric against allowing immigration into the United States from our southern border cites the negative attributes of undocumented (and therefore, illegal) immigrants. How those conclusions were reached when first pronounced in 2015 should have been called into question. But the immediate (and ongoing) reaction was polar. They were either completely accepted as near gospel or they caused so much outrage and revulsion that there was a major distraction and omission. Few voices were raised that asked, “Where did you get the statistics to support that?”

Quite interestingly, a study was conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center that resulted in a report called “Survey of Mexican Migrants, Part Three: The Economic Transition to America.” It was compiled during July 2004 to January 2005 by soliciting responses from a total of 4,836 individual at Mexican consulates in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Raleigh, and Fresno. The respondents were applying for an identity card and it is believed most lacked authorization to work in the United States. (There are presently 51 Mexican Consulates in the entire United States.)

In the original attack on Hispanic migrants, one of the assertions was “. . . they’re taking our jobs, . . .” According to the report, “The vast majority of undocumented migrants from Mexico were gainfully employed before they left for the United States. Thus, failure to find work at home does not seem to be the primary reason that the estimated 6.3 million undocumented migrants from Mexico have come to the U.S.” If this was the case, we need to ascertain the real reason for seeking employment in the United States. Perhaps we have something that is not available or is in small quantity in Mexico.

At the time of the study, migrants were concentrated in a handful of industries, those being agriculture, hospitality, construction, and manufacturing. However, the characteristics of the migrants and the nature of the demand for them began to change. Two such changes that were noted were:

“The more recently arrived and younger migrants from Mexico are better educated than their predecessors, less likely to be farm workers, and more likely to have a background in other industries, such as commerce and sales.

“Also, they increasingly come from a greater variety of regions in Mexico and make homes in new Mexican-migrant settlement areas, such as New York and Raleigh, . . .”

Suffice it to say, there will be an argument about these migrant settlement areas. Undoubtedly the argument will be that the population is deteriorating the areas and causing blight. However, given the findings of the Pew report, those types of conditions are highly unlikely for people who see themselves as upwardly mobile.

And Then There Are the Dreamers

Earlier this year an announcement was made with regard to the requirements for allowing immigrants into the United States. They now must pass incredibly stringent requirements with regard to language proficiency, amount of education already attained, and more. We need to ask ourselves whether we would be accepted into another country if it held similar immigration standards. These conditions are to be applied to all immigrants.

Just an aside: There were no exceptions mentioned when it came to considering those who seek asylum, whether from Mexico or any other country.

Putting these issues aside, let us consider the status of the Dreamers. They are young Mexicans who were brought to the United States as infants or were born here. They are not criminals nor any of the other adjectives applied in broad brush strokes to Mexicans. They are undocumented. They are among those covered by DACA. They are focused on being the best of breed and proving themselves to be so in many respects. They are not taking jobs from anyone. They are competing for existing jobs and striving to prove themselves worthy of a position in the company where they desire to work. But their tenure is challenged by revisions to the immigration policies of the United States and suspension of DACA.

There was mixed reaction to DACA (formally, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) when it was implemented in 2012. It should be noted that it was not an act but a program. It was implemented through an announcement, not made law by Presidential Executive Order. According to Wikipedia, a group of states sued to enjoin the implementation of DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans). Legal opinions regarding DACA are divided. Truthfully, I was among those opposed to it for many reasons, principally because of the drain on American resources and what appeared to be a scheme being used to make illegal entry acceptable for reasons of compassion (don’t harm innocent small children and infants). Having read the 2006 articles that document the positive impact of the population, my opinion is changed.

The challenging situation is the theory that fueled introduction of the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act (RAISE) as it modifies the previous points-based system for legal residency as it accords a higher number of points “to people who are highly skilled.” Regarding the immigration system prior to August 2, 2017, Senator Cotton (co-author of the RAISE Act) said “For some people, they may think that’s a symbol of America’s virtue and generosity. I think it’s a symbol we’re not committed to working-class Americans. We need to change that.”.

The status of DACA, however, is that it was suspended. A Memorandum on Rescission of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was issued in September 2017 by the Department of Homeland Security. Both DAPA and DACA will be wound down, according to the Memorandum. Adjudication (review) of applications will be done on a case-by-case basis. No new requests and applications for Employment Authorization Documents filed after September 5, 2017 will be rejected.

The Generalizations cf. Realities

Generalizations tend to get us into trouble when we use them to speak of large groups and assign attributes to them. Rhetoric that foments suspicion, divisiveness, and hate does nothing for creating a healthy environment for mutual support and growth.

It would be prudent to consider those who comprise the population of this country as people who have valuable skills and talents that can be used for improvement. The 2005 statistics show that just the narrow segment of Mexican immigrants are a desirable group of people who can and already are involved in making this an even better country. That’s just one segment. There are many others that offer similar benefits.

It may not have been part of the original installation but it still [Statute of Liberty poem] makes a statement about what our land represents to those who choose to come here as well as what the represent in terms of seeking renewed opportunities they’re willing to strive to earn.

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Preserving a Right

A request to sign a petition from Brigade + Causes hit my mailbox yesterday that raised my eyebrows. “Sign the petition to #fireColbert” read the subject line. The opening of the petition says: “Stephen Colbert finally took it too far with a disgustingly lewd anti-Trump rant on The Late Show on CBS.”

The author of the petition was sufficiently offended by Colbert’s monologue from last week that the author initiated the movement. In fact, he closed his appeal by saying, “This is certainly within Colbert’s right to free speech, but the networks should strive for a higher level of decency. This isn’t comedy. It’s just disgusting and offensive.” Apparently the FCC was also alarmed at the language used in the monologue.

However, we need to ask ourselves in what way did the Colbert monologue in question substantially differ from the many antics of #45 during his campaign. We also need to recognize that Colbert is in the entertainment business and relies on [Nielsen] ratings in order to keep his show on the air. Similarly, during the campaign, #45 was in several industries (including entertainment) and heavily relies (even now) on outlandish behavior for the sake of garnering ratings and attention. So where’s the difference? We also need to take into consideration that #45 was never called to task for any of his campaign behavior and was never penalized in any way. In fact, he was applauded. It’s difficult to understand why, in a post-Carlin’s “7 dirty words” environment that Colbert (or CBS for that matter) should suffer even a penalty.

Now, to be sure, it’s no secret that Colbert is not a fan of the 45th President. It’s safe to say there’s little evidence that he has ever had favorable feelings about #45.

It says a lot about what still remains of American freedoms that Colbert can express his political opinions during his monologue without being censored or have his way of life threatened. It’s called freedom of speech. True, there were objectionable words used in the body of the monologue but the blue language was bleeped from the speech. Even Colbert’s mouth was blurred when he pronounced certain words so that they could not be discerned and cause offense. Those were the instances when it went into territory not covered by Carlin’s “7 dirty words” but at least the freedom to express those feelings was in place.

Other TV hosts have also lampooned the First Family in this last week. It doesn’t appear any of those hosts are being called to task for doing their jobs while simultaneously pushing their audiences to engage in critical thinking or else express what their audiences fear to say aloud.

Likewise, the petition’s author has the freedom to express his distaste for the language – the language, mind you, not the thoughts and feelings owned by the speaker.

So, rather than endorse a return to Woodrow Wilson standards and suppression of one of our precious foundation rights, free speech, I will not sign that petition. Let us, without resorting to expletives and bullying, discuss and debate the policies of #45 and come up with solutions.

It appears both Colbert and the petition author have come up with a very meaningful topic for discussion as well as some meaningful tangents.

Initial Talk with Congress

Many are talking about the new President’s address to Congress on February 28. No, it didn’t mark the completion of 100 days. No, it wasn’t a State of the Nation (per se). It was just the newly-elected President talking to Congress.

Perhaps the event was in remembrance of Washington when he went over to Congress to ask his friends about how to do something and they ran him out because, with a great deal of effort and redrafting of the organizing documents, there are three separate and distinct parts of our government. Each acts separately in order to keep checks and balances and so that the government doesn’t become a dictatorship – each part echoing what the other says and sometimes in unison.

Which identity

Which identity

Nevertheless, the President went to Congress to talk with them. It wasn’t in order to get their advice about anything. It was a new, toned down campaign speech that reiterated what’s been said over the last two years. But this speech added a little more to the campaign rhetoric.

Although the tone was drastically different from what we’ve been hearing during the combative and corrosive campaign there was something different. Yes, there was the signature blaming and faulting to indicate and rally more supporters because things are such a mess. But the rambling, train of thought diatribe that is typical of this President wasn’t presented.

Actually, the speech was a bit unsettling. It wasn’t because of the rhetoric. It was because it seemed to be a repeat of another address to Congress from the past. It was as though it was written from a template. The language (except for the blaming) was not the typical content from this President. The tone, ah yes, the tone and the organization (yes, there was organization) of the thoughts and message were a different voice. Someone wrote this speech for the President. That isn’t surprising given the fact that his attention needs to be on many issues and he desperately needs to focus, keenly focus, on the matters of State. So having a speech writer create this message would not be a surprise.

Still, the message followed a distinct pattern. It was as though the template had little boxes that prompted the writer to “insert issue here” and then flow on to flush out some details. Then another box prompted “insert issue here” in a new section.

It was very formulaic, all the way down to pointing out selected examples of day-to-day citizens who were sprinkled into the audience in order to create a positive charisma and build the supporter base. Wasn’t that the tactic Obama used in many (if not all) of his speeches?

On a positive note, the President appears to finally be listening to someone on his staff about the image he’s presenting to the public. He’s getting coaching from someone about staying on point. He’s being urged to use a script more often so that the logic of what he’s saying is more obvious. The meandering trains of thought that go off point just aren’t winning any credibility for him. Unfortunately, he still doesn’t seem to be listening to his advisers too often. He still does things without a script and he’s very fast with that Executive Order ink pen.

The content of the speech is what most are hashing out in these days that followed the template presentation. Many of the matters that are the subject of the Executive Orders were included in the speech. There were (to be expected) claims of vast improvements over the last administration (which buried the country into the worst situation in history, we were told). Government contracts will be closely scrutinized and only approved when the fees are as bare-bone low as things can possibly be cut. (I’m not certain what that means in terms of quality of end product.) Government contracts for defense spending will be increased while government jobs hiring will be frozen. In fact, he seemed to indicate that there are superfluous government jobs and those will be cut. (You know, perhaps that‘s the reason why the Department of Labor Jobs Update alerts (OPA) stopped arriving after January 25.)

Back to the content of the speech and what people are saying about it. Traditional news coverage noted that the President sounded much more “presedential” in this speech. Another media source made mention that he is learning fast [about not rambling].

The staffers were quite pleased with the performance. That’s the other hallmark of this President. Everything seems to be targeted at getting TV ratings and reality show headlines. Although the speech was nearly a 180 change in tone and style, those who have been alienated by the man’s demeanor, attitude, and rantings are not so easily swayed and brought into the fold. Congressional GOP members are still uneasy. DNC members are still unimpressed. And late night talk show comedians are still having a field day. Why not? They’re essentially being spoon fed new nettles and needles every hour of the day. Maybe that’s why Jimmy Kimmel said enough of Donald Trump for tonight and hosted a Trump-free show. To that, I can only say, Amen.

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Teachable Moments: Mother’s Letter to Ivanka

What are the ethical considerations here

What are the ethical considerations here

Ahem. We learned that Ivanka Trump (daughter of billionaire President-elect) flew on a JetBlue plane in Coach class with her husband and children on December 22, 2016. Apparently her mother never had a talk with her about protocol or etiquette. This is definitely a (overdue) teachable moment and a time for some words from Mother. This is a time when an overwrought mother with too much on her plate will be challenged to be tactful and soft spoken so that the bottom line message can be heard. Here we go.

~~~~~

Ivanka, we need to have a conversation. No, you don’t need to do an inventory of the jewelry to be sold on your website. You definitely don’t need anyone else in the room with us. This is a private conversation. You need to listen carefully. You should ask questions. Don’t be like your father and ask questions that will twist things into making it allowable for you to do something similar at a later date. We need to help you grasp some concepts.

First, although your father gained an amazing number of states in order to win the Electoral College vote, he did not win the popular vote. Do you understand what that means, my love? No, it does not mean his message was what the people of the United States believe and want. It means (just as he kept shouting during his campaign) that there was something fishy with the election.

Bless his heart, he hates to be undone. He has to be top dog. He will never admit that there was tomfoolery when it came to affirming him as the choice of the people. My dear, the popular vote shows he was not.

But he has chosen to put himself in the spotlight through his years. He has chosen to be (in fact, he has insisted on being) center stage and refuses to allow anyone else to occupy that space. He has chosen to be a public figure; he insists on it – until it goes against him. Now that he’s been elected, now that he’s been confirmed by the Electoral College, he is more than a public figure. You, and your siblings, need to conduct yourselves as progeny of the incoming President of the United States.

Not only that, my dear, your father is a billionaire. All of us know that. Your salary is far above that of the average person. You are different.

What the hell were you thinking when you and Jared booked that flight from D.C. to New York on a commercial airline IN COACH with the children?

[deep breath]

You have never been one who is part of the general population. You are different, my love. You can afford much more than the mere average American (even though you occasionally try to appeal to them by walking through the crowds with your security team). This should not be a news flash, Ivanka. Your father is not adored by the population. You do not have an esteemed position in the country. You are, at best, tolerated by necessity, nothing more.

Just as that poor man was yelling, you should have taken a private plane. The you and Jared can afford that. It wasn’t a trans-Atlantic flight so there was no major expense. Even that is affordable with your income and allowance. What the hell were you two thinking?

It’s good that you bring up that meeting with the diplomats from Japan. That was quite a stir the two of you raised. No, your father hadn’t been elected. He was still on the campaign trail. Still, it may have been better if Melania (even with her broken English) had been there instead of you. Your being there made it appear that you were assuming the role of First Lady. It made it appear that you were part of diplomatic, confidential negotiations. You don’t even have security clearance!

And then to show off your line of jewelry! I thought you were intelligent! Do you realize the types of ethical concerns that were raised during that flight of fancy? Let me put this in commoner’s vernacular. There were subtle messages of bribery and coercion laced throughout that meeting. There are already rumors (not to mention outright statements) that diplomats and political emissaries feel they must stay at a Trump property when they visit. (Thus, they feel they must line the pockets of the new President. Argh!) The jewelry thing gave the impression that they must purchase your goods. You should have saved the marketing ploy for another place and another venue – or just left it to your marketing team. (Not to mention they’d have been much better at it.)

You haven’t learned about your father’s shouting tirades – yet. Kellyanne has been shielding you from them. She’ll be integral in doing that after the inauguration but one day. One day you’ll do the unacceptable and even those lurid comments about his beautiful, hot daughter will not protect you from the real man that we three wives know.

Use common sense, Ivanka. Being a woman of the people doesn’t mean flying on commercial airlines in coach. Being a woman of the people means doing things that bring you popularity among them because of your benevolence, because of your charisma. And those attributes will flow to you because you are promoting things that are reachable and desired by the average person aiming to reach a better status, not being able to purchase a several thousand-dollar bit of jewelry that only millionaires and billionaires can afford.

Use common sense, Ivanka. And if there is a God in Heaven, encourage your father to do likewise. It’s becoming an embarrassment to acknowledge that I was married to him.

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Truth and the Freedom Series

Both “Meet the Press” and “Face the Nation” considered the proposition that Russia was involved in hacking in the American election and also involved in rigging the election in order to make Trump the winner of the election.

During the last third of his campaign, Trump repeatedly and publicly alleged that the election was rigged. If he lost the election, Trump trumpeted, it would be proof that the election was rigged.

We reacted when the election results came in. A recount of the votes in three states was endeavored. Trump objected to the recount efforts. It’s been said in other places that his objections to the recounts make no sense. Having the votes recounted would confirm his victory in those states. So why is he objecting to the recounts?

The issue of a rigged election, interference by Russians in the American election process, was also part of the discussion. Trump’s persistent bellowing of interference and rigging continued all the way up to election day. But now his campaign team objects to being called on those allegations. They scream foul and claim the allegations are sour grapes.

candleflame - In search of the truth

In search of the truth

Actually, we’re now looking more closely at the claims and accusations that were pronounced by the candidate for President, Donald Trump. How can it be unfair to ask (again) for proof of the claims of election tampering?

On “Face the Nation,” Kellyanne Conway was asked a question about these campaign allegations. Instead of answering the question, she deflected it by turning to another aspect of the campaign and how unfair some of the DNC tactics were.

Some questions that need to be answered are whether there was in fact election tampering, whether there was hacking of the political parties (DNC as well as RNC), the veracity of the election results, and whether our President-elect can be trusted to help those who are in this country realize the Roosevelt promises of freedom of speech and worship as well as freedom from hunger and fear.

Observation: Time after time and with each passing day, we seem to be gifted with real, public scrutiny examples of the tools of an abuser.

Restriction from

Restriction from

In various times of allowing a dictatorship to overtake a country, things took hold because there were those who chose to do nothing for various reasons. Some chose inaction because they felt they did not have the power nor the tools nor the importance to resist or be an effective member of a resistance. Some remained inert because of fear based on many things that were relevant to their healthy existence. (It’s ironic that a dictatorship and tyranny lead to a very unhealthy existence.)

There were those who chose to act. Their numbers were small in regard to public presence. But there were also those who chose to act while staying in the background.

At some point in the near future, the many proofs of the campaign accusations and inflammatory rhetoric will emerge. Then we will be an informed public.

Meanwhile, we continue to create a new national culture that is no longer based on trust but fear. One of the healthy outcomes of this 2016 election is the motivation to become more educated about many aspects of our nation and the systems that caused it to be part of the Rockwell vision of “Freedom From.”

Sign and share the petition Evaluate Trump for Fitness to Serve

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