Stormy Weather

We are living in amazing times. We are in the midst of a tempest that is battering the ship of state up to and perhaps beyond its limits. Scandals abound and our democratic institutions are teetering. The ship is foundering. Leaks and defections are rotting its timbers. Congress whimpers as we sink lower by the day.

 

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#ENOUGH! #NEVER AGAIN!

March For Our Lives, Washington, DC, March 24, 2018

Washington, D.C. and the entire country received a powerful lesson in civics today. Democracy worked. Hundreds of thousands, if not a million, students bonded into an unstoppable movement that is determined to change America.

The passion and the eloquence of the Parkland students was as moving and inspiring as it was astounding. They and the other young speakers at the March for our Lives rally captured the nation and people all over the world. Their tears welled up, remembering friends and siblings who were mowed down. The crowd wept with them. Only someone with a heart of stone could fail to be moved.

They hammered the politicians who support the N.R.A. and also the ones who don’t commit themselves. There was no mention of Democrats or Republicans, though they did single out a Republican senator. The Parkland students pinned price tags of $1.05 to their jackets. That is what they calculated the life of each student in Florida is worth to the Florida government. It’s the amount collected by Sen. Marco Rubio from the N.R.A. divided by the number of students in his state.

David Hogg

“The cold grasp of corruption shackles the District of Columbia,” declared 17-year-old David Hogg. Again and again, the students vowed, “We will vote you out!” threatening retribution at the ballot box for politicians who don’t support a meaningful program of gun control and safety.

Stoneman Douglas survivor Delaney Tarr scoffed at the STOP School Violence and Fix NICS Acts. “We are not here for bread crumbs; we are here for real change,” she said. “We are here to lead, we are here to call out every single politician to force them into enacting this legislation.”

Hogg continued, “They haven’t even gotten started, and we have.” Hogg personifies the audacity and authority of the mantle he and his comrades have assumed. They know they are leading the charge. “We are the future, and we will vote!”

Naomi Wadler

The intelligence and the poise of the students was amazing. Naomi Wadler, an 11-year-old girl, was one of the most polished and eloquent. She said she represented “the African-American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper” and “who are simply statistics.” Responding to a charge that she’s “the tool of an adult,” she avowed that isn’t true. “My friends and I might still be 11, we might still be in elementary school, but we know,” she said. “We know life isn’t equal for everyone and we know what is right and wrong. We also know that we stand in the shadow of the Capitol and we know that we have seven short years until we, too, have the right to vote.”

Trevon Bosely

Invited by the Parkland organizers, students from all over the country streamed to Washington to March for our Lives. They also were survivors of gun violence or had direct connections to the victims. Trevon Bosely, 19, came from Chicago, where his brother was gunned down while leaving church. He looked out at the crowd. We are all a family, he said, a family united in pain, hope and determination to change. “We are survivors not only of gun violence, but of silence,” he said, condemning the apathy of the adults who have done little to stop the violence.

Edna Chavez

The diversity and the unity of the students was as impressive as it was moving. Latina Edna Chavez remonstrated against the demeaning of and violence against her brown and black colleagues and black men shot by the police in South Central Los Angeles. She insisted that armed teachers, metal detectors and transparent backpacks are not the answer. They don’t work, she said.

Bosely deplored the meager resources allotted to his school and neighborhood in Chicago, charging that lack of funding in black communities leads to unemployment and contributes to gun violence.

Stoneman Douglas survivor Jaclyn Corin showed she understood that the violence endured by Chavez and Bosely is a national problem. “We recognize that Parkland received more attention because of its affluence,” she said. “But we share this stage today and forever with those communities who have always stared down the barrel of a gun.”

Samantha Fuentes begins to feel ill

A friend comes to the rescue

Feeling better

Samantha Fuentes, recovered

Samantha Fuentes was wounded at the Parkland school shooting, and her face still bears the scars. Fuentes was midway into her speech when an attack of nerves overcame her and she turned away from the podium to vomit. A black girl came to the white girl’s side to steady and comfort her friend. Fuentes regained her composure, exclaiming, “I just threw up on international television, and it feels great!” and continued her speech smiling and confident, with her friend at her side.

Emma González, crying silently

Emma González and friend, hands clenched

Three Parkland students have become the faces of the movement. David Hogg and Cameron Kasky declared the beginning of a revolution. Emma González began to speak out the day after the shooting. In her speech at the rally, she remembered the 17 victims of the infamous attack. She finished naming them, tears streaming down her face, and grew silent. After a few minutes, the crowd began to chant her name. She remained stony-faced and silent. They quieted down for a few minutes, then attempted another chant, followed by silence and tears. The awkward and uncomfortable silence lasted six minutes, 20 seconds, the time González said the shooter took to terrorize, wound and kill the Stoneman Douglas students. Correction. See @Emma4Change below

I am unspeakably proud of these kids. If they are the future of America, then we are not doomed, as I feared. They have given me hope.

Yolanda Scott

The rally was reminiscent of past movements led by young people. Civil rights, the Viet Nam war, women’s rights, gay rights— movements that snowballed until they succeeded in attaining the change they demanded.

Martin Luther King Jr., whose activism changed the nation forever, was reincarnated in the person of his nine-year-old granddaughter, Yolanda Scott. “My grandfather had a dream,” she said. “I have a dream that enough is enough and that this should be a gun-free world. Period.”

And the President spent the day golfing at his club in Florida.

The signs were left outside the empty White House

Survivor schools bond

Real Quick: my speech today was abt 6 mins & 30 secs, including both my speech and my silence. The fact that people think the silence was 6 minutes… imagine how long it would have felt if it actually was 6 minutes, or how it would feel if you had to hide during that silence

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Trump’s teeny Twitter feed

Trump basks in the adoration of his fans

Donald Trump’s Twitter feed is followed by fewer than 50 million. By comparison, Barack Obama’s followers number over 100 million. What is more interesting is the number of people they themselves follow. Obama follows 634 thousand. Notice that Trump follows 45! Forty-five! Curious to see who these favored few are? Check out the list. There is no one who is not related to Trump’s own business, golf, family or politics. Everyone he follows is related to him in some way. Trump gets no news from outside his small, personal circle.

Summary

6 Golf and golf courses

2  Hotels

1  Business

7  Family and 2 friends

18 Media: 9 Fox News, 9 other

4  White House

5  Politics

 

Golf: Trump Golf; Gary Player, golfer

Trump golf courses

Doral, Miami; Charlotte; Washington, DC; Los Angeles

Trump hotels

Trump Vegas; Trump Chicago

Trump business

Trump Organization

Family and other personal

Tiffany, daughter; Vanessa, daughter-in-law; Lara, daughter-in-law; Melania, wife; Eric, son; Donald Jr, son; Ivanka, daughter

Michael Cohen, personal lawyer; Vince McMahon, billionaire WWE CEO & promoter

Media: TV, Web

Fox News: Tucker Carlson; Jesse Watters; Laura Ingraham; Sean Hannity; Fox Nation; Fox and Friends; Eric Bolling, former host; Bill O’Reilly; Greta Van Susteren, formerly Fox News

Drudge Report; Ann Coulter, conservative pundit; Diamond and Silk; Trump fan club; Katrina Campins, real estate, Fox News, The Apprentice;  Geraldo Rivera, reporter; Mark Burnett, TV; Piers Morgan, TV host; Roma Downey, producer of religious films

White House

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Press Secretary; @WhiteHouse; Dan Scavino, Dir Social Media; Kellyanne Conway, adviser

Politics

Mike Pence, VP; Corey Lewandowski, former campaign manager; Reince Priebus, former chief of staff; Katrina Pierson, Tea Party activist & Trump campaign; Team Trump MAGA

 

 

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The times they are a-changin’

University and high school students march along Amsterdam Avenue at Lincoln Center.

Is Dylan right?

Has the NRA met its match?

Is a Democratic wave coming to wash a majority of gun-loving Republicans out of office?

The answer to these questions may be yes.

On March 14, 2018, two things happened to raise the spirits and the hopes of the majority of Americans. Republicans, who have refused to challenge the Trump administration’s corruption, dishonesty and xenophobia, are beginning to lose ground. They are losing to Democrats in special elections in deep red Trump country. The early morning hours saw a Democrat eking out a victory over his Republican opponent in rural Pennsylvania, in districts that Trump won by 20 points.

Police block traffic, allowing students to return to school

In another upset of the status quo, students across the country marked the one-month anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting by walking out of their classrooms. Crying #Enough! and #NeverAgain! they are determined to hold politicians to account. The students are resolved to elect candidates who will enact sensible gun laws that will curb the massacre of innocents by wild men with assault rifles. They are committed to use their spending power to support businesses that have ended their financial relationships with the NRA and penalize the ones that haven’t.

Women, emboldened by the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, are joining their peers in ripping off the gag that has silenced them throughout history. They are demanding a reckoning from the men who took advantage of their power to demand sexual favors with impunity. Institutions in every field are responding by exacting retribution for sexual abuse.

Suddenly, 2018 is shaping up to be as disruptive as 1968. The 21st century is waking from the torpor that allowed American democratic ideals to be perverted by autocrats who value lucre and disdain the needs of the vast majority of Americans.

The times, finally they are a-changing.

 

 

 

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More on Trump’s parade

Retired Army Major General Paul D. Eaton reacted on VoteVets.org to the parade being planned by “a wannabe banana republic strongman.”

Donald Trump has continually shown himself to have authoritarian tendencies, and this is just another worrisome example.

For someone who just declared it was “treasonous” to not applaud him, and for someone who has, in the past, admired tactics of everyone from Saddam Hussein to Vladimir Putin, it is clear that a military parade isn’t about saluting the military – it’s about making a display of the military saluting him.

The military is not Donald Trump’s to use and abuse in this way. Our military is the very best in the world – they are not to be reduced to stagecraft to prop up Donald Trump’s image. Any commander in chief who respects the traditions of the military would understand that.

Unfortunately, we do not have a commander in chief, right now, as much as we have a wannabe banana republic strongman.

@realDonaldTrump has blocked @VoteVets, an organization of 500,000 veterans, military families, & supporters.

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Trump’s effect on stock market

The market’s performance during his presidency is not what Trump would have us believe. Catherine Rampel (@crampel), Washington Post columnist, tweets

Presidents don’t control stock markets. But since Trump has been so fond of touting his stock market record, here’s what markets have done since inauguration for him vs. during same period in Obama’s presidency. Net gains was  [sic] more than double at this point under Obama. (Emphasis mine)

SPY = ETF that tracks S&P 500

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Red Square on Pennsylvania Avenue?

What vision does Trump aspire to?

Beijing’s Tiananmen Square?

 

 

 

 

Moscow’s Red Square?

 

 

 

 

Pyongyang?

 

 

 

 

Donald Trump used to boast of his familiarity with the military until it became well known that a military prep school, not the battlefield (which he shirked with five deferments), was his training ground. No matter his old gambit no longer salutes. Now as president, he surrounds himself with generals. He demands their loyalty and their submission when they differ. Gen. John Kelly, who previously headed Homeland Security, has largely succeeded in his role as gatekeeper. Kelly fully endorses the president’s hard-line immigration policies, including the Muslim ban. Gen. Jim Mattis heads the Department of Defense, and Gen. Mike Pompeo directs the C.I.A.

This week Trump expressed his reverence for the military with his desire for a parade of American military power. He wants the display of overwhelming force to march down Pennsylvania Avenue, evoking similar spectacles in Moscow, Beijing, Pyongyang and even in 1930s Berlin. American soldiers may not march (yet) in goose step, but the very image makes the blood run cold. Trump seemingly aspires to join the ranks of Mao Tse Tung, Hitler and his apparent favorite, Vladimir Putin. These despots crushed resistance through terror and silenced the opposition by eliminating the free press and any who questioned their absolute authority.

Are we there yet? No, but the signs are clear. American democratic institutions have functioned as intended by the Founders. Most of the press is assiduously investigating and documenting the actions and effects of the Trump administration. The courts have mostly stayed or reversed Trump’s harsher initiatives. The legislature, however, is dragging its feet. It has the power, but not the will, to resist Trump’s undemocratic directives. Will Congress have the courage to deny Trump his fantasy? Pennsylvania Avenue is not a military parade ground. Americans don’t do that. (Not to mention the enormous, budget-busting cost!). Is paranoid to consider that the parade, with its enormous numbers of military personnel and weapons moved to the seat of the government, could be a ploy to facilitate a military junta? How many once unthinkable actions has this president taken?

Today, border patrols and immigration agents (ICE) terrorize immigrants. The media are assailed with with relentless and unprecedented presidential fury. Trump undercuts, then emasculates and ultimately fires his own appointees when they are “disloyal” and don’t execute his edicts. As Trump’s judges assume control of the judiciary and his generals adapt to their civilian roles, as Trump’s violations of custom lose their ability to outrage, as voter suppression becomes commonplace, when truth and fake news become indistinguishable, the avenues to choking the incipient autocracy and reviving democracy will become impassable.

Let us not comfort ourselves by thinking “it can’t happen here.” That’s what the German Jews said.

Hitler’s Wehrmacht

 

 

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