Donald Trump wants to present himself as a “patriot” who is making America great again so that Americans can feel patriotic again. In fact, all of Trump’s actions diminish America. Shouldn’t Americans want to believe that the world recognizes America has the best health care system, the greatest fast trains, the highest ideals for improving the lives of all who live in the community, the safest air and safest water, is the best guardian of natural resources, all, and many more, achievable goals the Trump Administration seem to find unexciting if not actively repugnant.

Ever since WWII America has been the leader not just in “one on one” bilateral relations with other countries in the world the way Trump, the dealmaker, says  is how he intends to do business,  but in putting together and leading alliances that increase the security and prosperity of all their members. That is what America has been doing until now, with failures as well as successes, but garnering  tremendous primacy and respect.  In the 21st century picking off a country here and there in deal making will achieve little or nothing, except to destroy that respect.

Trump is squandering a priceless American treasure: throughout our history we have presented ideals that are aspirations for all mankind. Nepal in the early 60s, still barely accessible over mountain passes, had a US Information Agency office where its Nepalese director was telling visitors, including this writer, “Lincoln, he is our hero too.” Our national government is the essential element in this leadership and the pride in “public service” of those who work for it within our elected institutions  has brought to all Americans a patriotic  pride in admirable actions that have benefitted both us and the world. Trump apparently feels pride and patriotism that his billionaire cohorts can find new ways to enrich themselves – not the nation.

When President Trump says he will make American “great” again I imagine he would include the beauty of America as part of its greatness. Americans have been singing “Oh Beautiful for Spacious Skies” for a long time and sense the times we sing this anthem as thrilling moments that bind us together.  We can almost see “the amber waves of grain.” Maybe we won’t be able to see them everywhere when Trump realizes his despicable idea of building a wall along the almost 2,000 mile border between Mexico and America. He is not making America “great”, he is making it ugly. Maybe he wants to see the wall as an icon of the America that binds us together, an America that rejects rather than welcomes – “America the Ugly.” What could be more hideous than that unnatural tall dark wall snaking across our beautiful county, reminding us perhaps of the  wall that separated East and West Germany during the cold war, or the walls in Jerusalem today. Trump seems to hope that this symbol of hatred and rejection will become real in the hearts of Americans, immeasurably diminishing us.

–Elizabeth Spiro Clark

   February 21, 2017

The March:  Agent of change and changed perceptions

The Women’s March (WMW) exceeded all expectations, starting in Washington DC, where according to New York Times estimates, the crowds were three times as large as the previous day’s Inaugural crowds. Globally, there were close to 700 separate marches, rallies and gatherings.

Numbers were important in assessing the impact of the March, but not in way that a Trump would think winners and losers by the numbers.

The size of the marches, as a historical event, most of all were an unforgettable visualization and for participants direct experience of what humanity is – the power of fellow feeling and interconnectedness.  That message could not have come at a better time, just as Trump demonstrated he disconnects himself from anyone but himself. In an official visit to the CIA the day after the March Trump could not even muster up fellow feeling in those who work to protect America’s security. All he could express was cheap rage at the press for underestimating the size of his inaugural crowds. If anything the media wasn’t factual enough about how much greater the crowds were at the March than at the Inauguration. Trump is powerless to make his crowds bigger and, increasingly, to fool people that the crowds are bigger. Continue reading “The March:  Agent of change and changed perceptions”

Developer In Chief

People have been asking me what I think about Ben Carson as the nominee to be Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It’s not just family, friends, and acquaintances who ask this question, but allies—people who work in the field.

But can I admit something? This question—what do I think about Ben Carson as nominee for HUD Secretary? —is an especially hard question for me to answer. Sure, I have set of pat answers that I’ve been giving people. I express skepticism because the nominee has so little prior experience with issues of housing and community development or with public administration. I talk about my displeasure that someone who recently and publicly called fair housing a failed socialist plot would be at the helm of a federal agency charged with enforcing fair housing. I talk about my and my commitment to fight for quality, affordable housing for low-income people; for equitable, vibrant, and sustainable communities; and about how these commitments stem from our larger vision of racial and economic justice. And I express my hope that all of these values remain a core part of HUD under the new administration, regardless of whoever becomes the head of the agency.

But underneath my answers, I admit to being uncomfortable, and even stifled with my own talking points. Ben Carson seems like a nice enough man, but my real feeling is that he is probably what they called a “Chamcha” in India under British rule—conveying a person without a backbone who facilitates the erosion of society by being uncritical and instead a pawn of the empire. I hope I am wrong. Continue reading “Developer In Chief”

Marching in 1969 against the Vietnam War: Marching now with the Women’s March in Washington

Interviewed at the Sundance Film Festival, by Amy Goodman, host of the radio program, “Democracy Now,” Al Gore said, “We are seeing a citizen action mobilization that is as big as anything we have seen since the Vietnam War.“

Back in November 15, 1969, I attended the Washington March Against the Vietnam War.  It was huge, about a quarter of a million.  The Women’s March surpassed it by many millions and was much more diverse.  Here’s how it looked to my husband and me.

Link and I rode the Metro to L’Enfant Plaza, January 21, starting about 8:45 am.  We were on our way to the Holiday Inn to join the Friends of the Earth, Climate Justice group.  As it turned out, when we arrived at the Inn after an alarming Metro ride, packed in like sardines, no one there knew anything about Friends of the Earth.  So we were on our own.

With both of us carrying our walking sticks, we were given special treatment.  People wanted to take our photo, asked if we were all right, and thanked us for joining the March.  We were grateful and touched by the attention.  A hallmark of this March was the courtesy and camaraderie of the participants.  There was a feeling of “we know why we are here and it’s the right thing to do.” Continue reading “Marching in 1969 against the Vietnam War: Marching now with the Women’s March in Washington”

The Trump Administration and Religion: In the End, the Same Republican “Small” Government Crusade

My post election conversations with friends, none of whom voted for Trump or would have thought of voting for Trump, were testy. I found myself irritated at talk about finding “common ground” with the other side and, especially, with getting in a contest for who could say the worst things about Hillary Clinton and the way the Democrats ran their campaign. Clinton was accused of being too cautious and not making a strong case for the Democratic Party’s vision and platform. True or not, Trump was so much the worst candidate that I wanted a relentless focus on resisting the values and ideas he was bringing to Washington.

Then I changed my mind. I now strongly believe that Hillary didn’t hit back hard enough, but not on conflicting agendas and policy proposals. She didn’t hit back on Trump’s totally immoral personal attacks on her. As well as unethical, Trump was unpatriotic every time he encouraged supporters in his rallies to chant, “lock her up”, and called her “crooked Hillary”. On at least one occasion he appeared to endorse assassinating her.  The viciousness worked.  The relentless shouting “She’s a crook” worked. The voters thought Hillary was a crook. Every day he said something unacceptable she should have blasted back. The press would have had to carry her response and maybe Trump’s lies and bullying would’ve sunken in with the voters. Continue reading “The Trump Administration and Religion: In the End, the Same Republican “Small” Government Crusade”

Momentum and Support For A National Concealed Gun Carry Reciprocity Law May Too Difficult To “Shoot Down”

The outcome of the November 8th congressional and presidential elections has the NRA boasting that it is confident that it and other pro gun groups can now force a federal carry reciprocity law.  Actually, the Trump people had already formed a “Second Amendment Coalition,” including members of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Active before he was elected.  Chaired by Donald Trump, Jr. and composed of 63 “co chairs,” the group stands ready to protect and expand gun-owners interests.

As I understand it, concealed carry is allowed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia but to different degrees.  In effect, should legislation requiring reciprocity be enacted, those states with the most stringent requirements would be subverted by the states with the most lenient regulations.  A January 2015 report by” Everytown for Gun Safety” said that reciprocity not only interferes with states’ rights but more dangerously, “some states do thorough criminal background checks on applicants, while other states have such ineffective permitting systems that they inadvertently issue permits to felons.“  Read entire report here. Continue reading “Momentum and Support For A National Concealed Gun Carry Reciprocity Law May Too Difficult To “Shoot Down””

Push Back On Trump: It’s Happening

There are encouraging signs that the forces of reason are mounting campaigns to fight back against the disastrous policy preferences of Donald Trump and the cadre of fellow billionaires he has chosen for his cabinet.  As we have said here from the first post election days, the push back on Trump must come from communities, including  local and state governments. At the national level we suggest taking a leaf from President Obama’s retirement plans. According to a New York Times report  he is planning to be an advisor to a brand new organization, National Democratic Redistricting Committee to be chaired by former Attorney General, Eric Holder. The NDRC will tackle the threats to American democracy posed by gerrymandering by Republican state governments designed to reduce the vote for the Democratic Party. The NDRC is planning launches in Virginia and New Jersey State elections in 2017.

Cities and States are on the Move:

While Trump has disputed the science of global warming and attacked policies to combat it, California’s governor, Jerry Brown, and Democratic legislative leaders have promised to band together with other nations and states to defend and strengthen our earth and its environment. “California can make a significant contribution to advancing the cause of dealing with climate change, irrespective of what goes on in Washington,” Mr. Brown said in an interview. “I wouldn’t underestimate California’s resolve…Yes, we will take action.” Continue reading “Push Back On Trump: It’s Happening”

Climate Change 2017: Challenge and Opportunity

Donald Trump’s Achilles Heel

Casting doubt on science
“Nobody really knows if climate change is real,” president-elect Donald Trump declared in an interview with Chris Wallace for Fox News, Sunday, December 11, 2016.

With this declaration, Mr. Trump not only raised the specter of uncertainty about climate science, he also threw cold water on the Marrakech Agreement, an historically unprecedented commitment of 190 nations at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) to rein in planetary warming. The so-called (COP 22) agreement has generated widespread excitement among climate change activists.  Not only does it demonstrate that implementation of the Paris Agreement (COP 21), promulgated a year earlier in December 2015, is well on its way, it also showed that a coalition of diverse nations with different economies, social systems, and environmental interests could unite in a spirit of cooperation to keep the earth’s temperature below 2 degrees Celsius, or preferably even below 1.5 degrees.

Creating uncertainty and skepticism about science is, of course, a strategy straight out of the tobacco industry’s playbook.  In the 1950s and 60s, to undermine efforts to get people to give up cigarettes and keep tobacco profits rolling in, tobacco companies spread uncertainty about the health effects of smoking, particularly in respect to lung cancer and heart disease.  In similar fashion, Mr. Trump and his supporters by casting doubt on the reality of climate change undermine faith in scientific reports showing that the earth’s atmosphere is changing in measurable and deeply troubling ways:  i.e., warming temperatures, sea levels rising, glacial melting, growing acidification of oceans, prolonged droughts, degrading of wild life habitat. Continue reading “Climate Change 2017: Challenge and Opportunity”

Suck it Up, Electoral College: Do the Right Thing

Our Founding Fathers were not stupid. They knew that it was entirely possible, perhaps even likely, that voters  at some point would put a person in the White House who was totally unsuited to lead the country. (In 2016 , not even a majority of voters voted for winning candidate.) That is why they came up with the idea of an Electoral College, which was set up to be a deliberative body to review the election results and approve the winner if the president-elect did not present a serious and dire threat to the United States.

That time has now arrived. The president-elect is totally unsuited to hold this office and represents a serious and dire threat to our country and to the world.

There were many who admitted that Trump  was outrageous and irresponsible during the campaign but argued that he would mellow  if he were elected  and would make an effort to be presidential. He would move toward the center.  Some of my Republican friends have suggested he would turn out to be another Eisenhower. Aside from a comment or two here and there about not locking up Hillary, Obama being an ok guy, and wanting to bring our country back together again, he has confirmed–even exceeded–the fears of many, if not most, of the voters who did not vote for him. He is a disaster.  Let’s review what he has done since the election:

His cabinet appointments–with one or two exceptions–are the worst in history. For the most part they are extremists and people with an agenda centered on rolling back anything and everything even remotely progressive. Continue reading “Suck it Up, Electoral College: Do the Right Thing”

How Trump Does Not Create Jobs

During the campaign Donald Trump made a point of saying he would stop the export of US jobs.  He held up in particular the example of a Carrier air conditioner manufacturing plant in Indiana.  Its announcement that workers
would be laid off and the plant moved to Mexico was recorded by a worker on a smartphone and went viral.

Last week Carrier announced it had changed its mind and 800 jobs would be retained in Indiana. The press announced Trump did a “victory lap”, visiting the plant to take credit for keeping the jobs.

It soon appeared the State of Indiana (of which Vice President-elect Pence is Governor) had offered Carrier $700 million in tax breaks and other incentives to keep the jobs.

On almost the same day last week it was announced that the US economy had added 170, 000 new jobs in November as part of the ongoing economic recovery. So while Trump and Pence had preserved 800 jobs temporarily through taxpayer subsides, economic policies put in place by President Obama had created over 100 times more permanent jobs without political intimidation or subsidies. Continue reading “How Trump Does Not Create Jobs”