DIVIDED WE FALL – Rich Paschall

Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all, 
By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall; 
In so righteous a cause let us hope to succeed, 
For heaven approves of each generous deed.

-John Dickinson, The Liberty Song, 1768

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Throughout the history of this country, the concept that we stand together has been expressed in song, in writing, and at the podium in speech.  It was the rallying cry of the Revolution and the days following 9/11.  It was spoken during the Civil War and the armed conflicts since.  It was the thought of trade unions fighting for better working conditions.  We may never have all stood together, but we were never divided at critical times in history.  Until now, that is.

From the opening of his campaign until the present day, the leader of our country has worked hard to divide Americans with an “Us versus them” attitude.  He speaks it, he tweets it, he lies about it.

In the opening salvo, he started by trying to assert that many of our neighbors who came from other countries were the enemy.  Of Mexico he stated: “They are not our friend, believe me. But they’re killing us economically. The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems.”  You likely know the most egregious things he said about Mexico.  Let’s consider another statement.

Dividing us from other friends, 45 went on to say: “It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America, and it’s coming probably— probably— from the Middle East. But we don’t know. Because we have no protection and we have no competence, we don’t know what’s happening.”  This was stated despite a strict immigration policy under President Obama.  Ask anyone who entered (or was deported) at that time.

Also at the time of his announcement, China and Japan were particularly criticised, along with the leaders of our own country.  It is not unusual to criticize the other party during a campaign, but consider carefully the deals the country made during the Obama presidency and the comments made by Trump, the candidate.  There is campaign rhetoric, and then there are falsehoods and divisions.  The announcement of candidacy is filled with quotes that are not attributed to specific people and many statistics that raise questions of accuracy.  Did he portray us correctly?

After a campaign of insults and hateful comments, 45 has spent a great deal of time on his twitter account blasting out hateful and divisive comments among people here and abroad.  How do we feel about this?  Early in the year the Quinnipiac University National Poll found that the Tweeter in Chief is dividing the nation.  While polls results show that the majority of Republicans do not feel this way, Americans by 64 to 31 per cent feel that 45 is actually doing more to divide the country.

Worse yet, many are unsure if the man is actually stable. “President Donald Trump can’t seem to improve his approval rating, perhaps because of the troubling fact that half of the voters we spoke to think he is mentally unstable,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.  But apparently, some of those voters are willing to stand by him anyway.

He tried to change the narrative on the NFL anthem controversy, perhaps because he could not get an NFL franchise years ago.  The NFL commissioner and the NFL Players Association fired back. “Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players,” commissioner, Roger Goodell, said.  NFLPA executive director, DeMaurice Smith, indicated that they would not back down.

NFL QB Tom Brady, believed to be a Republican, responded “I believe in bringing people together and respect and love and trust. I just want to support my teammates.”

Last year in September, the New York Times’ Peter Baker provided this news analysis, “Never in modern times has an occupant of the Oval Office seemed to reject so thoroughly the nostrum that a president’s duty is to bring the country together.”  Isn’t it troubling that our leader has so many negative things to say?

Baker also noted, “In his brief career as president and a candidate for president, Mr. Trump has attacked virtually every major institution in American life: Congress, the courts, Democrats, Republicans, the news media, the Justice Department, Hollywood, the military, NATO, the intelligence agencies, the cast of “Hamilton,” the cast of “Saturday Night Live,” the pope and now professional sports. ”  Is this presidential?

While the tweeter is in a rage, outside forces are also trying to undermine American life.  Fake social media accounts have reportedly planted fake stories and memes meant to drive a wedge between parts of our society.  Apparently it has been working.  If you have been a regular user of facebook or twitter you know exactly what the problem is.  As these fake stories pop up, unwitting supporters retweet, reblog and share these items on their news feed.  Do you think foreign influences are behind this?

isys6621.com

Social media believes we are under cyber attack. Google, the parent of YouTube and other media platforms, deleted Iranian accounts.  Facebook and others have removed Russian accounts.  These accounts were there to influence opinion and perhaps even divide Americans through fake stories.  Was there collusion by 45 and/or his minions to help spread lies posted by Russians?  Time will reveal the answer.

With full-blown propaganda wars in play, some started by and perpetuated by our leader, our enemies must be rejoicing.  They see the unraveling of the American fabric, aided by our own leader, allowing them to advance to a stronger position in the world.  If they can divide us and turn American against American, with Trump’s help, then our foes will watch as we stumble and fall in the eyes of the world.

Sources: “The Liberty Song,”  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Liberty_Song
“History of the Motto,” Smithsonian Museum of American History 
Here’s Donald Trump’s Presidential Announcement Speech,” Time, June 16, 2015
Quinnipiac University National Poll, January 17, 2018
“Roger Goodell, NFLPA angrily denounce Trump’s ‘divisive comments’,” NBCSPORTS.COM, September, 23, 2017
“Tom Brady: I Disagree With Trump’s ‘Divisive’ Comments,” thedailybeast.com
“A Divider, Not a Uniter, Trump Widens the Breach,” The New York Times, September 24, 2017
“Not just Russians: Google follows Facebook to remove
Iranian accounts,” Financial Times, http://www.ft.com
“President Trump has made 4,229 false or misleading claims in 558 days,” The Washington Post, August 1, 2018

Click on the source links above for further information on the above statements.

ABOUT THE GOOD OLD FIRST AMENDMENT – Marilyn Armstrong

1st amendment cartoonThe first amendment says you can say, write, or publish whatever you want without fear of being arrested, shot, imprisoned, or otherwise legally penalized. On television, the internet, as film or in print. From your mouth or on your blog, even if what you are saying is incredibly stupid, baseless, and factually incorrect. Even if it offends everyone who reads or hears it. As an American, being a loudmouthed jerk is constitutionally protected.

However. The first amendment does not say you are required to utter, write, film, broadcast, or publish whatever idiocy crosses your mind. Just because you can, does not mean you should. The Constitution protects your right to be a moron. It does not mandate you actually behave like one.

Those are your rights. My rights include the right to ignore you.

A right is no substitute for intelligence. It’s healthy to think. It’s good to read a book, check your sources, find out what’s really the right thing. Your opinion is not as good as everyone else’s, not if it’s based on hatred, ugliness, nonsense, and fake facts.

It’s perfectly okay to believe in the truth, to support provable facts, and live in the same reality as the rest of the world. Believing whatever you “feel” is “right” is crap.

Give reality a chance. Try reading a book, something your president hasn’t ever done.

Try thinking.

Our nation will be grateful to you. I personally will be grateful.

EXPECTATIONS AND THE LACK THEREOF – Marilyn Armstrong

Everything is weird.

The weather is weird. The government is even weirder. Maybe our government is the weirdest of all. Between one thing and another, I feel like I’m living on a different planet. I have no idea what to expect — in the most literal sense. If rain is predicted, I don’t know if it will actually rain. It might be cloudy and then again, the sun might shine. If they tell me it’s going to cool down, it might be swelteringly hot.

Or not.

Yeah, whatever. At least we got the hell out of 2018. – The New Yorker

Maybe I am living on a different planet. Maybe the reason I don’t know what to expect in these surreal circumstances is that I’m still expecting stuff.  I expect the news to be true and weather maps to actually show real weather. It’s as if the weather is lying too.

The president lies. He says the media lies. I know the media is not lying, but apparently, the climate is lying.

How can the weather lie?

Is that what climate change is about? That we have no idea what to expect and the maps don’t mean what they seem to mean. It’s all a jumble.

Nothing means what it should mean and I think my next move is to stop expecting. Anything. Give up all expectations. Whatever happens, happens.

That’s downright zen of me, isn’t it?

OUR MOMENT – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Moment

This is a moment. Well, really, the last year and a half (is it longer? shorter? interminable?) has been a “moment.”

For me, it has been a long and painful moment of realization. This catastrophe in which we have been engulfed didn’t just “sort of show up” in 2016. It isn’t something that dropped in from the outer limits. As Americans, we’ve been building towards this monumental, momentous calamity for our entire history.

We have done great things. We have also done horrendous and unspeakable things. We have — as all countries do — glossed over the unspeakable and put a lot of our energy focusing on the greatness. We have ignored our failures and failed to grow up, nationally speaking.

One of the many important things Obama said in his recent lecture was that we had made progress and so we assumed that this progress meant that we had left “the bad stuff” behind and moved on.

But that isn’t what happened at all. Briefly, our better selves dominated politically, but all the rest of it was still right where it had been before. Our Civil War is more than 150 year in our past, yet for many people, it is still going on. Despite the obvious that this entire country — unless you are a Native American — is built on immigration, we have forgotten who we are and where we come from and that it is the energy and willingness to “go the distance” that gave the United States its vitality.

We also forgot that we got our big bang of industrial power from the decimation of Europe following two devastating wars. Yes, we fought in them, but they took place elsewhere. Not on our shores and if we want to pause briefly and ponder Pearl Harbor and 9/11, we can only imagine how different this country would be if the wars fought had been fought here.

Not “over there.” Not on some foreign shore, but in our backyard. We never had to rebuild our entire infrastructure. We have been political fools. Not only now, but in many earlier times when we elected immoral, mentally challenged morons as our leaders.

It matters more now because we gained so much power. And because the speed of events has increased and we don’t wait for news anymore. Everything is instant, continuous, and migraine-inducing.

We didn’t get here by accident or because of one bad election. We have never demanded our citizens vote or even get a decent education. We have never required our citizenry behave like grownups, either. Why should we be surprised we find ourselves in this unreal, treasonous, and terrifying scenario?

Map of Nazi conquest of Europe as of 1940

This is our moment to consider who and what we want to be as a nation. Do we want to be the perpetual international fools and morons? Do we want to pretend that all the really important things — decency, morality, safety, protection, equality, liberty and fair government — are trivial? That the only thing that matters is greed? As long as someone promises to lower our taxes, nothing else counts?

If we continue thinking like that, we will be lost in history, a mere blip on the timeline. And because we have had so much power, we might take down other nations with us. Who knows how many?

We are not an island, nor do we exist alone and separate on this planet.


No Man is an Island – John Donne

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.


MEDITATION XVII
Devotions upon Emergent Occasions
John Donne

THIS WEEK IN TRUMPLANDIA: July 21 – 28, 2018

A good summary of This Week In Trumplandia. I know it’s hard to keep track of everything and to be fair, I no longer try, so it’s useful to get a good summary of the madness surrounding us.

THE SHINBONE STAR

Sex, Lies and Audio Tapes Edition

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APPROVAL ALERT AT PRESS TIME:
Gallup Poll: 42% — down from 43% last week
Rasmussen Poll: 46% — up from 44% last week

Welcome to Trumplandia, a place where with a bit of wit and snark, we keep the world caught up on all of the tasty Nuggets-O-Trump you may have heard about but were too busy to care. Because most of this minutia occurs just below the massive headlines about the POTUS, it’s in a land of its own. Here, an infusion of social media, video clips and print media meld with our outdated political views to make more delicious “Fake News” about our Commander-in-Chief.

So just like the president, we start it all with a little tweet like this:

View original post 1,563 more words

THE ARRANGEMENT – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Arrangement


This is one of “those words” which means so many things on so many levels it is hard to know exactly where to start.

Most typically, in my world, it is “common parlance” for a couple whose marriage isn’t going well, but who would prefer to avoid a divorce. Often, it is because they are also in business or share other important interests and a divorce would distract the world from whatever else they do.

Rich people have an arrangement. Poor people simply can’t afford the divorce.

I always thought that Bill and Hillary had an arrangement, that they agreed to continue working and living together and the deal was that they remain discreet, not humiliate one another, and keep their eyes on the importance of the work they were doing. I think Bill screwed that up and Hillary never forgave him for that.

I suspect this is the situation with many high-powered political couples. I can’t prove it, but I would be surprised to discover I’m wrong.

An arrangement isn’t inherently a bad thing. Often, the work a couple does together is more important than whether or not one or both of them is entirely faithful to the formal marriage bond. There are also couples who never bought into monogamy, so their marriage was an arrangement from the beginning.

But arrangement means other things. Spying is an arrangement. Treason is an arrangement. Most forms of corruption are an arrangement and often, an extremely complex arrangement involving many people across a vast network. It is why when such an arrangement starts to crumble, it is a shock to see exactly how many people were involved, either at the fat or short end of the deal.

Last night on Colbert (with Jake Tapper as the guest), there was much talk of “why” so many Republicans are still trying to “sell” Trump. Regardless, barring an actual putsch in our government, DJT is OUT by 2024, if he doesn’t die of hardened arteries first.

CNN’s Jake Tapper pointed out presumably these same people intend to have a career after 45 is gone. How do they expect anyone to have any faith in them?

My answer? The money. Follow the money. Trump has been laundering Russian money for a long time and there’s a lot of money involved. He is not the only one who has been “on the take.” Maybe they think if they steal enough money, they can buy faith? They’ve done it before, after all.

I’m willing to bet that many of these other Republicans have gotten their portion of the dirty money. They aren’t protecting Trump. They are trying to protect themselves, too.

I hope we get to hear every last detail of the story.

Washington is a carefully arranged town. How much money have they stolen? How much of it has been used to turn our country into a place I don’t even recognize?

FORGETTING AND REMEMBERING – THE PAST IS NEVER GONE – Marilyn Armstrong

History wasn’t supposed to be an academic subject we learn in school and promptly forget. I am always a bit pixelated by people who tell me that there’s nothing in the past that means anything to them. They are inevitably the same people get twisted up in something they could have  (easily) avoided if they knew some history.

Photo: Owen Kraus

Let’s take the old “trickle down” theory of economics. It has been tried by I don’t even know how many conservative or Republican administrations. It has never worked. That’s because it doesn’t work. It can’t work. It’s one of those theories that presupposes that the people involved will intentionally do “the right thing.”

That extra money will be reinvested in the business and used to pay employees better and hire more people.

Except they don’t. Ever.

They take the money as a bigger salary for themselves and other top-level administration. They use the rest to pay bigger dividends to investors and as often as not, cut staffing, lower salaries, and these days, move the entire business to a less expensive economic environment. The thing they never do is raise salaries for current employers and hire more people.

Why not?

Good question. There was a time when that is what businesses did. They believed in America. They weren’t any less greedy or rapacious than the current bunch, but they were patriots too. They believed in the United States, trusted Americans to produce high-quality work. They also thought high-quality work mattered.

Crown and Eagle mill

These days, greed is what’s left but without the patriotism or dedication to producing quality work. They don’t care whether what they do strips the land, destroys anyone living in the area, or is lethally poisonous. As long as they make an extra penny per whatever, that’s good enough.

Most of these “old time” rich people eventually turned to philanthropy. They did care about America and once they’d wrung every penny they could get from whatever industry they built, they thought it was their duty to “pay back” the country.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

These days, most of the super-rich have no allegiance to anyone or anything but themselves. They think if we aren’t rich, we’re trash. That’s exactly how they treat us.

If you work harder at your job, they will fire someone else and you will get twice the work. I eventually learned to never let them know how quickly I could work because I never got a raise or a pat on the back. I just got more and more work. In one job, I started out as the junior writer in a department of five.

Rumford River dam, part of the original Bernat Mill complex.

By the time I left, I was the junior writer in a department of me alone. Everyone else had quit or been let go. I still hadn’t gotten a raise or promotion. I did what five people had previously done. Nothing trickled down.

That was the last time I let myself work full-speed.

And that’s why trickle down is a pile of horseshit. Nothing trickles down. The guy at the top keeps it all and laughs as they haul his money to a Caribbean island while he avoids paying any taxes. To anyone.

Two banks, night in Uxbridge

If anyone reads history, the story of economics in this and every other country will assure them this isn’t going to work because it never has. It never will.

Meanwhile, a pile of damn fool voters will believe the bosses who promise they will make it better — yet never understand why they keep getting poorer.