Author: Tom H. Hastings

This land is your land

I spent the last few days traveling across the country to North Dakota to join others in supporting a gentle man who tried to help everyone. For that he was convicted of several crimes and will be heading to a North Dakota prison.

Michael Foster was born and raised in Texas, in an oil family. His crime in North Dakota was turning off the Keystone pipeline in a symbolic but real call to all of us to do what we can to stop global climate chaos.


That North Dakota valve turn was one of five similar actions last October–two women, three men, five valves on lines in Washington state, Montana, North Dakota, and Minnesota, all done in resonance with the Break Free from Fossil Fuels campaign.

We see the buck-naked consequences of paying no attention to our oil consumption; Harvey drowns Houston, fires rip through the West, every hurricane is more intense than it otherwise would be, droughts last longer, lakes are drying up, the seas are rising and surging, and with fracking even earthquakes are no longer a pure act of God. Most previously natural disasters are now unnatural disasters, made worse by our hand more than the hand of God or Mother Nature.


The Trump regime is doing worse than nothing; they are exacerbating the problem by rolling back the tepid regulations the Obama administration brought to bear. Trump yanks the US out of a world agreement to fix this, the Paris Accords. He gets Rick “Never-met-an-oil-well-I-didn’t-like” Perry as his Secretary of Energy and Scott “That-pollution-smells-like-money-to-me” Pruitt to run the Environmental Protection Agency–into the ground. Trump promises to bring back dirty coal. It is Satanic, frankly, with zero regard for the children of the world, for the generations. He’s old without any discernible conscience. Who will confront him?


Michael Foster, Leonard Higgins, Ken Ward, Emily Johnston, and Annette Klapstein will. They have.


I attended Michael’s trial as much as possible, although I couldn’t be in the room in the beginning because I was scheduled as an expert witness and we were sequestered until we testified–or until the judge disallowed us…which she did.


Michael was facing 23 years in prison on four charges. Three of us were there to provide expert testimony in three topic areas to help the judge and jury understand why Michael should be acquitted. Two of us were there to speak to different aspects of nonviolence and one was on hand to speak about the urgency of a rapid change in our general habits but a specific exam of the dirty tar sands oil that flows through the Keystone pipeline. Climatologist James Hansen is 76 years old and is the one who announced that “global warming has arrived” in 1988 when he worked as a scientist at the Goddard Space Center. Every single prediction he made then has come to pass. He is arguably the world’s top scientist in that area–certainly the most famous. He’s Trump’s age, only with a long-view conscience and integrity.


The court could not be bothered to listen to this eminent scientist, someone who could have helped the judge and jury become at least familiar with the emergency that we see unfolding all over nowadays, made much worse by the dirtiest sort of fossil fuel–tar sands oil.


The contempt for anyone coming to North Dakota to “tell us how to live” (the prosecutor’s attack on Michael, who is now from Seattle) was palpable. The judge allowed the prosecution’s expert witness, demonstrating some spectacular inconsistency and hypocrisy. As one who woke up a few times this summer to unbreathable air and everything in my town covered in forest fire ash, I say to North Dakotans, you need to fix this. We will do our part but you need to do yours. Most of us know at least one or two people in Houston, or in the Santa Rosa area, or in Miami or Puerto Rico. Are we Americans who value all other Americans or are we not?


But the prosecutors were dismissive. Hell, Foster only faces 23 years, why give him a chance to reason with jury members? Let’s not confuse them with the facts.


The trial in tiny Cavalier, North Dakota, in remote Pembina County, was heartbreaking.

Now

Don’t you just love it when a problem occurs and the one who caused says something like, “Now is not the time to talk about it.”
Huh?

Such as when Harvey hit Houston, a hurricane made into a monster by the extra-warm Gulf of Mexico, and all that additional warmth in the ocean produced by human-caused climate change. Streets became rivers, houses and people were swept away.

Hurricane Irma leveled towns roared through the Caribbean, twisting and killing in September.

Fossil fuel burning–oil, gasoline, natural gas–warmed the air, warmed the ocean, and what did Trump’s EPA head, Scott Pruitt say? Now is not the time to talk about climate change.

Seriously. That is exactly the best time to talk about it. When cities are inundated is when folks need to know why. Floridians want to know if there is any way to prevent unprecedented storm surges and record sustained winds sometimes nearing 200 mph, ripping off roofs and flattening trees and buildings.

When conflagrations are burning down the astonishingly beautiful forests of the Pacific Northwest, when iconic parklands and treasured places are in flames and we cannot breathe, when we wake up in my town of Portland and everything is covered with the ash from these firestorms, that is precisely when we need to talk about changing course and fixing this.

Now 59 people shot dead and more than 530 wounded from automatic gunfire and what does Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House spokesperson say in response to questions about gun control? “Now is not the time to talk about it.”

Hogwash. It is precisely the time to talk about it.

Why, indeed, does Donald Trump immediately tweet about his travel ban and wall after every news item about either a terror attack anywhere on Earth or an undocumented Hispanic person getting a parking ticket (this is almost not exaggerated)?

Time to talk. Time to study. Time to act.

Seriously address anthropogenic climate chaos. Reward clean energy. Rapidly phase out Keystone pipeline dirty tar sands oil. Rapidly phase out coal-burning electric-generating plants. Radically reduce the highly fossil-fuel-consuming US foreign military presence and thus carbon footprint. Now.

Repeal the Stupid Second Amendment. That is how citizens, towns and states can regain their rights. As it is, when a city tries to ban certain weapons the NRA rolls in with their kill squad and finds plaintiffs to sue. The Supreme Court eventually says, hey, no local or state control for you–it’s in the Constitution. Gun rights trump human rights.

Ironically, those who historically clamor for states’ rights are now the ones smashing states’ rights. They wanted states’ rights to discriminate against various races, genders, sexual identities, and unions, most notably in the infamous U.S. Supreme Court 1857 Dred Scott decision in favor of slaveowners but many times since. Now, hypocritically, they want to do awaywith a state’s right to ban as many proven killer weapons as they wish.

Some of us want to live amongst others in civil society in which issues are resolved without guns, where someone with a concealed mental health issue cannot carry a concealed weapon–because no one is carrying weapons in that town.

Some want to live in states with essentially no limits to weapon ownership short of a nuclear bomb. Great. Good luck with that, Texas and Idaho. But when Chicago–formerly the murder capital of the US before it banned certain guns–tries to pass bans on some guns and they are told they cannot, that the ban is lifted, what sort of freedom is that?

Guns do not produce freedom; guns are often the direct enemy of freedom. Each locality needs its freedom back, the freedom as it defines it.

Now is the time to talk about it.

Catalonia to Cascadia

Since last November many of us in many places in the US have heightened dreams of secession, of new nation-states, new sovereignty. It is true that many of us have had less intense versions of that fantasy for decades, waxing and waning from regime to …

Necessity As the Mother of Prevention

This essay is meant to help those who are especially interested in the court proceedings of nonviolent resisters[1]to anthropogenic climate change. The intended readers would include nonviolent resisters, their lawyers, and those experts in strategic nonviolent civil resistance who may be asked to provide expert testimony validating the use of the necessity defense for resisters.

In general, the necessity defense is known as an affirmative defense, a narrative that contextualizes and validates the otherwise apparently illegal actions of the nonviolent resisters. The classic example is the passerby who sees the house on fire, the child at the window screaming for help, and who decides instantly to break into the burning house to save the youngster. That bystander committed trespass, destruction of property (the door), and possibly other offenses under various local or state laws and ordinances, but if an overzealous police officer arrests the intervening passerby and the prosecutor seeks conviction, a good lawyer will offer the necessity defense to secure a verdict of not guilty.

In the context of the law as experienced in the US Civil Rights movement, Dr. King wrote that they were sometimes breaking a good law for a good reason and sometimes they were breaking a bad law. The necessity defense is often explained as breaking a law to prevent a greater harm. Increasingly, a strand of thinking by legal experts is coming to the conclusion that the legal professionals should not be neutral but rather should be advocates for the environment, lending more skills and expertise to civil, criminal, and lawmaking efforts to protect our environmental commons.[2]

As to the requirements of employing the necessity defense[3], one is that a prosecutor will fight that, possibly with a pretrial motion to exclude it, usually on the grounds of salience; that is, the prosecutor will claim, often successfully, that the questions of guilt or no guilt are unrelated to all the myriad issues the defense wishes to bring to the court’s attention, such as global climate chaos in a case of nonviolent resistance to a fossil fuel facility. The prosecutor will normally urge the judge to direct the defense to the germane issue: did the defendant do the actions that resulted in legal charges or not? Most often the judge will rule for the prosecution and exclude the necessity defense, thus rendering the courtroom a more or less sterile environment excluding most of the truth required to have an honest examination and a fair trial.

In many cases excluding the necessity defense simply makes a travesty out of the legal system and clearly favors the perpetrators of what many refer to as actual eco-terrorism, that is, the corporations profiting from our massive consumption of fossil fuels. How can we begin to turn this around? Resisters wryly observe that former US Vice-President and 2007 Nobel Laureate Al Gore declared in September 2008 that, “If you’re a young person looking at the future of this planet, and looking at what is being done right now, and not done, I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience.”[4]

One piece of this attempt is dealing with one of the questions the defense lawyers must answer, which is, Did the defendant have any reasonable expectation of success when she violated the law in her attempt to change policies she claimed are harming others? In order to do so, the lawyer will often employ expert witnesses, first to establish that there is in fact imminent danger but it’s a remediable or at least mitigatable problem, e.g., a climate scientist to testify that anthropogenic climate change is beginning to wreak damage on a regional, national, and global scale, and then an expert in the history of nonviolent resistance and resultant changes in public policy, institutional policy, or corporate policy, especially as it directly involves slowing and stopping the drivers to climate change, e.g. coal and oil exploration, extraction, refinement, transport, burning and all the requisite enablers of these activities—e.g., financers, regulators.

The clear distinction between lawful protest and resistance resulting in arrest needs emphasis; nonviolent campaigns that do not involve acts of actual resistance are not contemplated here. They are almost always precursors to resistance, both for collectives and for individuals, which should be emphasized, of course, in court testimony by defendants themselves, a catalog of their legal activities that helped produce a condition of lack of perceived effective alternatives to nonviolent resistance, or a justifiable sense that, at the least, nonviolent resistance needed to be added to the prongs of a campaign’s multipronged approach to addressing the announced goal.

Part of what many nonviolent resisters are attempting to do is what researchers term “public pedagogy,”[5]i.e., using the drama of their resistance action to help educate the voting, purchasing, consuming public about the immediacy and severity of the problem. The “public curriculum” of nonviolent resistance, studied via discourse theory, can be a powerful augmentation to the outreach efforts of advocates for better policies to mitigate climate chaos. Judges and juries are helped by understanding this, and indeed become a component of exactly this. Or, as author activist Bill McKibben noted in Scientific American, “When 1,253 people got arrested in front of the White House, almost no one in the country had heard of this Keystone thing outside of Nebraska and a few other places along the pipeline route.”[6]

Other social movement researchers have termed civil resistance to fossil fuel consumption as “participatory democracy,” and have highlighted the frame proffered by movement spokespeople as risking arrest in response to “an emergency.”[7]

This essay does not examine the many cases in which causation or correlation of nonviolent resistance to policy change or preservation success has occurred in movements long preceding the movement to resist climate chaos. From Rosa Parks to draft board raids to nuclear power plant construction to nuclear disarmament to migrant rights to gay rights to women’s right to vote and to a much longer list of such actions, campaigns, and movements that included nonviolent civil resistance, the necessity defense is demonstrably salient and often highlighted further when its proffer is denied[8]. What we explore herein only relates to relatively recent nonviolent civil resistance to climate chaos—the hurricanes, forest fires, droughts, floods, rising seas, habitat destruction and other direct effects of burning fossil fuels so much for so long.

Select cases in which nonviolent resistance correlates to success in challenging drivers to climate change, e.g. fossil fuel industries

Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

First Nation and indigenous resistance[9]to the proposed expansion of the Kinder Morgan existing Trans Mountain pipeline from Edmonton, Calgary to Burnaby, British Columbia has likely halted it.[10]From tiny houses in BC[11]to chained nonviolent resisters at a Kinder Morgan Richmond, California facility, the investment climate was impacted severely. Investors were warned by financial analysts to avoid the project, which seems to have ended it.

Syracuse University divests from fossil fuel investments

In 2012 students at Syracuse University asked the Board of Trustees to order divestment from all fossil fuel industries. The BOT did not. Students persisted. Finally, in 2014 they escalated from education and protest to nonviolent resistance, sitting in for 18 days, at which point they won[12]. Many other such campaigns at colleges and universities have also succeeded similarly.

Seattle divests from Wells Fargo

This is a case of demonstrable cascading effects of nonviolent resistance in one place—the Standing Rock Sioux resisting the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in North Dakota—prompting policy change in another. In 2016, acting in overt solidarity with the nonviolent resistance to DAPL, the city of Seattle divested[13]from one of the largest financial backers of the pipeline, Wells Fargo, depriving the financial corporation of some $3 billion[14]in annual business with the city. This knock-on effect of nonviolent resistance has been studied vis-à-vis the Civil Rights movement[15]and in this case is not conjecture, but documented in the movement to resist climate chaos.

Kayaks v Royal Dutch Shell

In late July 2015 Greenpeace and affiliated groups confronted and blockaded[16]Royal Dutch Shell’s arctic icebreaking ship the MSV Fennica at the St. John’s bridge in Portland, Oregon, stalling the sailing by a couple of days but much more importantly gaining international recognition with a signature photogenic act of nonviolent resistance, including 13 colorful harnessed midair resisters hanging from the bridge and scores of kayaks in blockade across the Willamette River. Law enforcement eventually arrested resisters and cleared the river. The icebreaker continued north, ran into more kayackivists in Seattle, and made it to Alaska, only to leave, abandoning an estimated 15 billion barrels of light sweet crude oil. The resistance was not the only factor but it did seriously drive up the costs of oil exploration even as the global oil market slumped. As is the case most often, a combination of factors including nonviolent resistance[17]led to this change in corporate policy.

Break Free from Fossil Fuels Campaign

In spring 2017 Greenpeace called for the second Break Free from Fossil Fuels Campaign, resulting in some 170 actions globally and several victories from acts of nonviolent resistance. Some of those actions were specific to fossil fuel projects and others were more generalized nonviolent resistance to groups of industry planners, e.g. the nonviolent blockade in New Zealand[18].

Resisters halt coal-fired power plant proposal in England

Energy company Eon proposed a very large coal-burning electrical generating plant for the Kent, England region in late 2006 and opposition launched in 2007, beginning with protest and eventually escalating to nonviolent resistance, with arrests at several actions[19], including: sit-ins and occupations, as well as chaining themselves to machines, conveyor belts, and fences. The three-and-one-half-year campaign ended when the corporation withdrew its application for construction. The necessity defense was successfully utilized.[20]


[1]This essay does not contemplate the spurious arguments that violent or armed resistance is on equal legal footing with nonviolent resistance, e.g., http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/09/cliven-bundys-lawyer-compares-his-armed-resistance-to-selma-marchers/

[2]Tom Lininger, Green Ethics for Lawyers, 57 B.C.L. Rev. 61 (2016), h p://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/bclr/vol57/iss1/3

[4]Temperature Gauge. (2009). Earth Island Journal, 23(4), 14.

[5]McGregor, Callum (2015). Direct climate action as public pedagogy: The cultural politics of the Camp for Climate Action. Environmental Politics, 24(3), 343-362. doi:10.1080/09644016.2015.1008230

[6]Bill McKibben: Actions speak louder than words. (2012). Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 68(2), 1-8. doi:10.1177/0096340212438383

[7]Evans, Geoff (2010). A Rising Tide: Linking local and global climate justice. Journal of Australian Political Economy,(66), 199-221.

[20]van der Zee, Bibi (2010). Defence is the best form of attack. New Statesman, 139(5008), 36.

Tween boys and the fate of the world?

First Donald Trump, inexplicably in the ill-fitting role of the President of the United States of America, threatens to go totally criminal, to “totally destroy” North Korea. This violates international laws to which past US presidents have signed and far better US Senates have ratified. Killing civilians. Shooting rockets into cities. Committing genocide. All totally immoral and illegal.

Then the Spoiled Brat Ruler of North Korea responds: ‘I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.’



How, how on God’s green Earth could humankind have permitted us to be in this untenable position, with aged boys taunting and reviling each other, manchild specimens whose only actual achievements were being born sons of powerful men? The tween in his dotage in the US is far older, but no wiser, just a sad blustering narcissist seemingly utterly unaware of just what a pathetic cheap fool he is. The twerp in North Korea earned nothing, son of a son of a brutal ruler, as endowed with a human conscience as, say, Uday Hussein or Curtis LeMay.



These are two poor excuses for humans, clearly addled by their upbringings and the forbearance shown them even when their behavior is kindergarten immature, even when testosterone, greed, gluttony and power over others corrupts all their actions.



And, dammit, they both have nuclear arsenals.



Seriously, humankind, what are we going to do? Even Nixon, as maniacal as he was, visited Leonid Brezhnev and gave him a Cadillac. He really thought better about starting an atomic slugfest.



Not Trump, referred to by many nowadays as ONE (Our National Embarrassment). How many North Koreans have participated in terror acts against the US? How many times has North Korea conducted war games just off the coast of the US? How many times has North Korea attacked US soil?



Oh, that’s right. Zero.



How many times has the US conducted intimidating war games all around the northern half of the Korean Peninsula? How many North Korean civilians were slaughtered mercilessly by the US military in the 1950-’53 bloodletting, in attacks on North Korean cities, towns, and villages? Just sayin’.



If we would prefer to avoid a nuclear war, if we would rather not have a few US cities immolated and Far East Asia burned down, the US and North Korean peoples need to swing into action, and, as we live in a putative democracy in the US, our duty is even more clear than that of North Koreans.



Impeach.

No

Is Donald Trump a Hitler nouveau? Probably not.

Still, in this time of preparing a switch from mild, articulate, scandal-free Obama to Wall Them Out Shut Them Out Kick Them Out Trump, it might be worth a historical review of German Martin Niemöller (1892–1984), a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps. His postwar sermons feature various versions of this:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Donald Trump has doubled down now on his anti-illegal-Mexican intent. He announced that he will be deporting millions of “criminal” Mexicans first thing. Of course if a Mexican, in flight from a drug cartel war more deadly than most wars on Earth, crosses our border she has broken our law and would be regarded by some, possibly our next President, as therefore a criminal to deport back into poverty and violence. Only another scofflaw would help her.
I suppose this makes me a scofflaw. I hope there are many of us.
If a family in desperate flight from Aleppo manages to make it to our shores, apparently our President-elect Trump plans to turn them away, very likely to their deaths. Only someone who fetishizes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or possibly the Sermon on the Mount might risk offering that Syrian family shelter or help with safe passage to somewhere more welcoming.
I hope there are many such fetishizing folks.
The thing is, dear friends, democracy has its limits; it is not two cats and a mouse voting on what’s for lunch. Substituting the tyranny of the numerical majority over the most vulnerable minorities is in truth no longer a democracy and we are skating dangerously close to that abyss. If Trump plans to violate human rights, and he announces it, and the vast majority of Americans vote him in, that is not license to violate those rights.
Of course it was actually a large minority of Americans who voted for Trump and the majority voted for Hillary Clinton, but I don’t want to split hairs. My point is that it is now up to each of us as individuals to confront any overt violations of basic human rights, civil rights, and Plain Decency.
I am not calling Donald Trump a dictator, but I do worry about him leading a nation into that tyranny of the majority that produced all the greatest crimes we and other nations have committed, from theft of native land to slavery to death camps under Nazis to genocide in Rwanda and more. To update Niemöller, If you see something, say something.
Or don’t. The Underground Railroad led by Harriet Tubman and others was action, not words. The Danes hiding and then helping virtually all Danish Jews to escape to Sweden, the brave farmers and villagers of Vichy France who hid 5,000 French Jews in and around Le Chambon for the entire Nazi occupation, and many other instances of the relatively privileged or safe helping the oppressed, suffering, and in danger—all these courageous movements were silent but took action.

What will happen when Trump takes office? It’s scary to many. I hope we can all ponder and prepare. As my old friend Louie says, “Now we’ll earn our stripes.”

Trump and the cop killers

When you hear that a police officer was ambushed and shot to death, what is your first image? For many Americans, it’s an angry black man who seeks revenge for police shooting black men. And that has certainly happened.
But imagine my surprise when I read about the Des Moines, Iowa case of a man shooting two police officers in two ambush attacks, read that the alleged shooter had been in contact with police in the past while waving a Confederate battle flag at black people, and had been calling at least one black man the n-word, and then when I later listened to National Public Radio they reported this new Iowa case as part of a wave of police shootings in retaliation for police violence against black males. Really, NPR? Is that the best imitation of Fox News you can do?
In the end, I believe that most psychologists would agree that cop killers are suffering from mental illness first and most primarily, with other motives a distant second. Yes, police kill unarmed black people at a far higher rate (not raw numbers, but as a percentage of the population). Yes, police will try (in most cases) to intervene on boisterous racially offensive behavior and thus may be the target of white men who wish to freely use racial epithets and symbols of slaveholders. So the cursory motives are understandable intellectually, but seriously, the blatant insanity of randomly shooting police officers? Why isn’t that proclaimed first and foremost as the controlling engine to those heinous acts? None of the attacks in the past year were targeted at the cops who actually did the things that produced the nominal reason for the murders. Shooting a target of opportunity without specifically choosing the actual perpetrating officer is not remotely sane.
When will we take gun control seriously? If for no other reason than to stop so many cop killings, we should elect officials who will get this job done. The blundering police unions endorsing Donald Trump are acting on emotional affinity with a man who says he supports police, but Trump’s unreserved support for no limits on firearms for anyone will only result in more unstable people gaining access to all the guns they can afford. More cops will die.
The import of this election is tough to overstate. Trump will exacerbate all the worst developments—fewer resources to assist folks who struggle with mental health issues, fewer controls on access to weaponry by anyone, no help from a Trump Department of Justice in improving police-community relations. This will lead to more tragedies like the one we saw in Iowa. I admit I strongly disliked voting for Hillary Clinton, but a Trump presidency is many giant leaps backward. Let’s prevent this.

Supremes, the Senate and the Dirty Donalds, Segretti to Trump

OK, the Republicans said when Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away late last winter, we are not going to do our Constitutional work reviewing any nominations President Obama might make because we think the American people should have a voice in choosing the members of the highest court in the land.

Huh? The American people elected and re-elected Barack Obama. That is called having a voice. That is called voting. That is a democracy. What the Republicans did was entirely bogus, but, as usual, the American people didn’t seem too excited about it, so the Republicans were able to get away with that blatantly unfair move.
Now, unbelievably, Ted Cruz has threatened to block any nomination on an indefinite basis, if in fact Trump is unsuccessful in his groping campaign for the presidency.
This now disqualifies all Senate Republicans. Every single one of them up for election or re-election should be defeated to clear the way for government to actually function again.
Trump says he’ll only accept the election results if he wins.
Ted Cruz says if needed, the GOP will abdicate its Constitutional role in affirming Supreme Court Justices, based on likely losing the White House.
Republicans are simply racing to the bottom and are displaying all the moral fiber of the average junior high bully, completely unable to accept any defeat without having an adolescent hissy fit. Grow up, people!
Since that seems to be the phenomenon we see, it is clear that no Republican should be voted in this year, at least in the Senate and obviously the White House. In my 66 years on this planet, I’ve never seen a US campaign season so despicable, uncivil, boorish, and infantile. Add to it all the Comey move—the FBI tampering with the election? It is the Donald Segretti School of Political Chicanery arcing forward to the Donald Trump Malevolent Machine. These people can’t win a fair fight, so they resort to their bottomless barrel of dirty tricks; we are called to teach them better.
For the good of the nation, defeat every Republican running for US Senate in 2016, so we have some chance for a bit of normalcy and progress in the US.

Bad Hombre

Watching the 2016 campaign is hypnotically akin to the gawker slowdown that affects traffic with the slightest accident. Rubbernecking the three most recent Trump offenses in any given week has given America an entirely new hobby.
  • ·         He might be insulting KIA Muslim American soldiers or their parents, as he did with Capt. Humayun Khan. That was brilliant. Tack on his clumsy idiocy about John McCain, telling us that he, Trump, prefers pilots who don’t get captured. Does he not realize he sounds like a sociopathic son of Saddam with these chickenhawk utterances?
  • ·         He might be mocking people with disabilities, as he did with reporter Serge Kovaleski. That took courage. Trump, for all his bluster and pomposity, is a profile in pusillanimity.
  • ·         Inexplicably meeting with Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico, without bringing up The Wall he’s designed against all the rapists crossing the border now, The Wall that Trump decides unilaterally that Mexico will pay for. Ineffable.
  • ·         He really fixed that when he called Pope Francis “disgraceful” for the Pope’s critique of the proposed Wall. Just to continue with the Catholic vote, he managed to be the first candidate in memory to get booed at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation traditional candidate roast.
  • ·         Perhaps his basket of deplorable comments about women in general and specifically. Maybe he’s caught on tape bragging about his woman-groping. Donald! Basic Groper manners—get permission, then grope away. Calling Alicia Machado, the former Miss Universe, Miss Piggy. Women are loving you, Donald. Referring to Carly Fiorina, he said, “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that?” (OMG, Trump, look in the mirror when you say that and same thing when you call someone a “nasty woman.”)
  • ·         Luckily, he is on top of the refugees-as-terrorists-in-the-US crisis. Oh, that’s right. Zero terror attacks by refugees inside the US to date. Looks like they’ve all been vetted adequately, so far, despite his hysteria.

We could go on, but let’s just leave it with a secret for The Donald: Oscar Wilde was brilliant, but your devotion to his erroneous dictum, “There is no such thing as bad publicity,” is your political undoing. You have your base of basket cases and that’s it.

Michelle, you get four years off for great behavior but we want to see you run in 2020. No one could heal this nation better. 

Negative coattails good for Senate


Donald Trump is in love.

Like any narcissist, he sees his heart’s desire in the mirror and is pathologically incapable of transferring that love of self to others, except to love what they can do for him—financially, sexually, politically, or simply helping him be in the spotlight.
For Trump, everything is a contest and he is the best at every one. If he doesn’t win, others obviously cheated or his helpers failed him. He has made exactly zero mistakes in his life that weren’t caused by others, as he sees it.
It has all caught up with him at last, and the Trump circus tent is collapsing. Republican candidates for the US Senate are scrambling to escape the suffocating mess. Some renounce their endorsements, some express regretful continuation of support for the Trumpwreck, and some avert their eyes, curl up, and just hope to survive the election.
But imagine a US Senate out from under the blockading, bludgeoning control of the Republicans. I’m not suggesting the Democrats are particularly good for those who want peace and justice, but they are lightyears better than the likes of Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ron Johnson, Rob Portman, Jeff Sessions, Tom Cotton, Lindsey Graham, John McCain and the rest of the corporate-loving, New Jim Crow, anti-education, war-profiteer-champions who have been running the Senate for the past two years. The Republicans running for Senate—mostly incumbents—who are most vulnerable include Johnson (WI), McCain (AZ), Portman (OH), Roy Blunt (MO), Richard Burr (NC), Pat Toomey (PA) and Kelly Ayotte (NH). Congressman Joe Heck (NV) is running for the seat being vacated by retiring Harry Reid and Congressman Todd Young is running for the seat vacated by retiring Dan Coats (IN). All these Republicans are threatened by Trump’s tailspin. My operative word, I confess, is schadenfreude today.
Like any true narcissist, Trump is certain that everyone else is at fault for his poor performance and the only response is to attack, excuse, justify, blame, and lash out some more. If his dysfunctional displays cost both the White House and the Senate, we may see a decent US Supreme Court in the future and that could mean overturning Citizens United and other rotten, anti-democracy decisions. We might see the US join the rest of the world in signing and ratifying the International Criminal Court, the Comprehensive Test Ban and other international laws and treaties benefitting all of humankind. We might even see some glimmer of peace in our time as well as development of US infrastructure instead of the vast war machine that consumes half your tax dollars every year.
The Senate needs to flip for the good of all Americans. Thank you, Donald Trump, for your key role in all this. Carry on with your bellowing, blaming Tweetment!