Selling off the North Pole. The Ghost of Christmas Past (or Future?)

You might think from the headline that I am about to write about how Russia is racing to own the Arctic, and how Rex Tillerson is chummy with Russia (Tillerson is currently testifying in confirmation hearings to be Secretary of State), or even how Trump denies climate change and has chosen cabinet picks, Scott Pruitt and Rick Perry, who are also climate deniers

Alas no. At dinner my kids wanted to know if internet hype was true about Trump’s press conference yesterday….Did Trump try to pass off a mound of blank papers as evidence that he has been hard at work in distancing himself from his businesses?  So of course we visited Snopes.com who neither denies nor confirms the allegation, listing it as “unproven”.

But here is the funny thing…there was another Snopes article about a 1950’s TV series Trackdown (S1, E30) with a snake oil salesman named Trump (WATCH THE CLIP) who tried to convince the town to “build a wall” to protect itself, saying “I alone can help” and warning how “a big lie can turn people into kids”, easy to manipulate. Wow.

And this reminded me that during Christmas, there was a random TV movie, Twice Upon a Christmas (2001) airing about how Santa’s wicked daughter was slyly selling off pieces of the North Pole and plotting to sell the land to, you got it, Donald Trump, who planned to score with a new casino and hotel. Naturally this was killing off the Christmas Spirit and the good daughter had to fight to bring the Christmas Spirit back again.

So even if people don’t read professional newspapers, they watch movies, right? Granted this was a bad movie, but we’ve got plenty of classics like A Christmas Carol (the George C. Scott version is my favorite) and It’s a Wonderful Life to remind us that extremely wealthy people can be greedy, mean, and power hungry. Don’t put them in charge of your policies and freedoms!

But back to the North Pole, because this all ties together…Trump’s parlor trick with the files (a confidence man maneuver) reminds us that he has too much in common with the snake oil salesman from the the 1950’s TV show. Also, his law firm (coincidence or not) serves to remind us that Trump is too cozy with Russia and big oil interests. Trump’s lawyer who spoke at his press conference comes from a law firm whose Russian office was named as Russia’s top law firm last year, not surprisingly specializing in energy and banking. Trump is doubling down on fossil fuels (not modern alternative energy).

At this point, Trump already put a damper on the Christmas Spirit of 2016. How long before his policies destroy the environment, kill our crops, and cause economic disaster and human suffering. I want policy-makers who are concerned with Christmas Future.

President Obama’s Farewell Sparks our Democracy Hello

This evening’s Presidential Farewell Address by President Barack Obama reminds us that democracy requires each of us to participate. For the moment, I think that means paying attention to the confirmation hearings for every single cabinet pick and writing to our Senators and talking to our friends and neighbors about them. I invite you to start by reading and sharing these many (too many) good reasons to oppose the appointment of Jeff Sessions to Attorney General written by one of the 1,400 law professors nationwide who warn of his appointment.

 

 

The Election Changes Everything (Most of All You)

Day 5 since Election Day. The body shaking lessens, but does not stop. There are moments each day when I can put out of my mind what just happened, but not most.

I shed tears at various moments during my son’s Bar Mitzvah yesterday, but only half of them were in reverence and awe of him and the beautiful tradition. The other half of those tears flowed because I could not reconcile the standard prayers (hope, love, peace, helping the sick, stopping oppression, embracing differences) with what our country just did: elect Donald Trump as our future president of the United States.

Every parent knows that parenting means growing your child from both the inside (good food, good morals, good information) and the outside (good role models, safe home/schools/community, and healthy environment). So every parental instinct is offended at a Trump election, which has already uncorked the stopper of hatred in otherwise safe and stable neighborhoods. On Halloween a swastika was displayed in our neighborhood. Post election someone displayed a “white kids only” sign on a bathroom door in a nearby town. And I live in a state that voted for Hillary. Bigotry. It is hard to put that genie back in the bottle, and even harder when its instigator and champion was just voted into office.

Trump has also announced his desire to decrease funding for environmental regulation, which signals more difficulty to come in raising our children, and our children’s children,  in healthy environments.

As to providing good role models for our children…Trump has repeatedly and unabashedly lied, cheated, bullied, sexually harassed, and otherwise dangerously misled the American people (weakening the Obama Presidency with the racially provocative birther lie for years, calling Hillary Clinton a crook without evidence and despite a lack of indictment or lawsuit, while he has an unbelieveable amount of litigation pending against him, declaring that American elections are rigged and mainstream media biased).

Had Trump been a major league baseball player, merely one instance of these many transgressions would have caused him suspension, a fine, or perhaps cost his job. But our country just rewarded him with the presidency. Had he been Hillary Clinton we would have hung her by now in torchlight, after the public dunking to conclude the Republican-Led Witch Hunt, (coming up short, thus leading to request for emails) the state-sponsored political persecution of Hillary Clinton in which the media was complicit and on which Trump capitalized.

Some people say we should just wait and see, he might moderate his approach in office. I am here to tell you he has already changed everything!

The rules of American politics have just changed. And Americans are the losers. People have always tolerated a certain amount of factual sidestepping in politics, but they don’t like a lot of it, and they don’t appreciate bold face lies. Like when Bill Clinton said “there is no sexual relationship” (a lie to protect his own skin prompted by a non-meritorious personal lawsuit against him). Like when George W. Bush concocted and convinced us of the lie that there was evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (a lie which eroded our moral authority in the world, propelled us into a decade long war, lost thousands of American lives, caused a hundred thousand other deaths and injuries in the Muslim world thus spawning stronger enemies in the shape of ISIS/ISIL/IS, removed a check on Iranian threat to the region, and increased our national debt to levels that cripple our economic growth now and in the future).  Americans don’t like this kind of thing once we realize we have been boldly lied to. It is part of why voters did not want to support a mainstream Republican candidate or Bill Clinton’s wife (guilt by association).

In this political contest, Trump, who was by far (very far) the more egregious liar, wins the day. Trump, who was a master manipulator clothed as a whiny school boy, won the day, rather than Hillary Clinton who preserved a modicum of professional and political decency in her response to his unprecedented behavior. But it was too late. He, and the Republican army before him, had already effectively penned her in. Who would believe her when she said he was lying, since she had already been brandished the liar? Because she had been tarnished as untrustworthy, she could not talk herself out of it, could not talk her way back into our good graces. Who would have believed mainstream media when he has labeled them as liars too?

Republicans have perfected the art of the Big Lie (telling the very opposite of the truth loudly and frequently, or accusing their opponent of their own crimes in order to inoculate themselves) and it paid off Big Time. And there is a word for this: Propaganda. And it leads to a democracy who no longer has correct information to help them vote for what they intend.

The change in rules for political contests are tantamount to when the rules of warfare itself changed from organized combat to jungle warfare. Very messy. Very hard to predict harm and control consequences. And because they have proved beneficial to Trump and the Republicans for these many years now…they are not going away. They have double downed on them.

You know this intuitively, that everything changed. It is why your stomach ached on November 9. It is why you  still shake a little bit sometimes. Your mind cannot fully believe it yet, but your spirit and body knows you–and everything you stand for, everything you thought our great country stood for–were just assaulted.

You also know in your heart that it means you have to stand up and do something about it. You are no longer a mere spectator in this democracy while working hard to feed and clothe  your family.  The political issues are no longer abstract, distant, or even complex. Trump made this personal. He attacked you, your wife, your neighbors, your employees, and possibly your honored ancestors, by his hate speeches. And he was elected for it, or despite it. This is personal. And no one talks to us like that and gets aways with it. You understand?

Wishing it away is not sufficient. These people play a long game.

Today my family will sit down to form a plan, just like you might form a household evacuation plan, a natural disaster plan, a college savings plan, or plan who will take care of a sick loved one. Our plan today will start with how to respond to bigotry wherever and whenever we encounter it, whether it be school, work , government officials, or media. We will build our plans from there to include more proactive steps to change political leadership in Congress and the White House, to limit their scope of power and influence.

I invite you to tell me what your plans are. And as the days and months proceed, I will post here any ideas we all have that help us to each take steps. Each of us can only take small steps while we work hard on other things. So think of it as one small step for man, but one giant step for mankind. We can do this together. I will post something every week if not more frequently. Let’s see what we can do.