The Panegyric Cabinet Meeting

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Like a Roman emperor receiving his panegyric from his trusted and loyal subjects, the odd video of the first full cabinet meeting offered to the media last month, June 12 2017, is quite disturbing and alarming.  I half expected to see each one of his cabinet members kneel in front of Trump to kiss his ring before they left the room.  This is absolutely not something that happens in America.  And yet, it is.

Anybody who believes in America, its implied stand against kings and personality cults, should be just as alarmed as I am.  We don’t need Jonestown Kool-Aid.  We don’t need a “Dear Leader.”  “Dear Leaders,” they belong in North Korea.  What we need from our representatives here in America is real work, transparency (not laws crafted in senatorial secrecy), a respect for law and order, an appreciation for traditional American protocols, a respect for our American government institutions, more civil discourse and inclusion, less concern for the pettiness of conceited personal image and then we need government officials championing our freedom and democracy instead of groveling at the feet of someone who fancies himself the newly appointed sovereign.

The Signpost Up Ahead and 10 Other Reasons Why the Travel Ban is Wrong

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Trump’s Travel Ban is so wrong in so many ways.  Listed below are 10 of those reasons why:

  1. It goes against the spirit of our Declaration of Independence and of our Constitution—Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness applies to all people.
    1. Our Declaration and Constitution is a proclamation to the world and it is inclusive not exclusive; a universal idea.
    2. Our Declaration of Independence states: “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”
    3. The 14th Amendment guarantees constitutional rights to all people (not just to citizens of the United States of America).
    4. So, subsequently, it is necessary that our migration policies follow a similar pattern of fairness and justice.
  2. Security experts in general believe the travel ban is a bad policy that is bound to backfire by giving violent groups who have made themselves sworn enemies against our ideals of religious tolerance and freedom a new recruiting tool for their brutally deranged and deadly plots.
    1. 100 former government officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations signed a letter to the administration urging that the President “revisit and rescind” the executive order given that it is “counterproductive from a security standpoint, and beneath the dignity of our great nation.”
    2. One of the signers of the letter, four-star General Michael Hayden, former CIA and National Security Agency Director (a Bush II appointee), has made it clear in several recent interviews how ill-advised, short sighted and unnecessarily reckless this policy is. Consider the statement he made in a January 30th interview:  “What we’re doing now has probably made us less safe today than we were Friday morning before this happened because we are now living the worst jihadist narrative possible, that there is undying enmity between Islam and the West.”
  3. We are a country of exiles from our very beginning; a place where people seek refuge to escape persecution suffered in their country of origin.
    1. To discriminatingly close the door on those seeking the hope America offers is a betrayal of who we are and a failure to properly honor our own heritage.
  4. The travel ban promotes an isolationist mentality which is the policy that has been cited by many historians as a top contributing factor that led us into World War II.
  5. The Ancient Roman Empire followed a similar course of closed-minded immigration mismanagement which contributed significantly to its downfall; some historians even point to it as the main reason why Ancient Rome fell.
  6. We lose the public relations benefit that manifests itself when new migrants escaping unbearable circumstances are allowed sanctuary in America.
    1. When people learn how free America really is, especially free of the corruption that plagues their former countries, they become a Voice of America that is even louder and more effective than the government sponsored Voice of America itself as they inform family and friends around the world that America is exactly what it promotes itself as being and even better.
  7. The travel ban negatively impacts our economy as tourism drops, as skillset levels drop, as technological advances decline and as we lose our standing in the world as the credible voice of Freedom and Liberty.
    1. Tourists from other non-targeted countries no longer feel safe nor are they able to take us seriously about our commitment to freedom when we fail to honor those chiseled words that rests inside the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
    2. Science and technology are at the core of our success as a modern world power.
    3. It’s a good thing we didn’t have the same intellectually challenged travel ban mentality in the 1940’s that would have prevented the rocket scientists and physicists escaping enemy nations from being allowed to enter our country.
      1. It is doubtful we would have been the first to split the atom without that happening.
      2. That realization necessarily implies that Nazi Germany would have likely been the first to split the atom (and that wouldn’t have been good).
      3. It is doubtful our country would have the technical leadership position we now enjoy if we had no reason to build the computers and the rockets that propelled the space race to its final conclusion by being the first country to land a man on the moon.
  1. We lose our power to effect Democratic change in critical non-Democratic areas of the world.
  2. We lose our ability to see that we have nothing to fear but fear itself.
  3. And finally, we lose what makes America great.

This executive order that Trump wants to enact is nothing more than a disturbing anti-American display of demagoguery. That so many have closed their minds to what this really is, some even going as far as to betray our own traditional American sensibilities in actually promoting it, makes it all the more disturbing and all the more alarming.   It is so alarming, in fact, that it seems to me that we are marching blissfully unaware into a completely surreal goose-stepping episode in American history.

America isn’t noticing that signpost up ahead if it chooses to allow this smallminded but completely un-American display of demagoguery to resurface unchallenged.  Considering all the other bizarre things that have been happening with this unthoughtful presidency, it’s not too farfetched to believe that at any moment Rod Serling could step into the frame to quietly make a poignant but intellectually sobering announcement how America now finds herself smack dab in the middle (short pause) of “the Twilight Zone.”




Russian Hacking and Other Insecurities

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It really is beside the point whether the Russian hacking actually helped Trump win the election.  I don’t think that the intelligence communities ever claimed that they had such evidence.  The CIA, FBI and the other intelligence agencies repeatedly claimed that the evidence only showed that the Russians were responsible for hacking our computer networks and that this effort was intended to benefit Trump.  Trump repeatedly denied that the Russians could be responsible; over and over again, doing as much as possible to cast doubt upon and discredit the various intelligence agencies at every chance he could.  Now it appears that Trump might concede a little bit by acknowledging that maybe there was some hacking by the Russians but careful to qualify that this hacking didn’t help him win the election.

While it is difficult to quantify, it is not difficult to understand how the result of the collected hacked information appearing on WikiLeaks, each week a new set of hacked data presented during the campaign, kept negative attention focused on Clinton’s e-mail server scandal and alleged Clinton Foundation issues.  It is difficult to argue that this did not have an effect on the election.  But, even so, the not so easily quantifiable presumption that there may have been an effect on the election is distinct and separate from the election result itself which, obviously, is something we can easily quantify. So, absent other evidence, it could never really be argued that the election result is not valid based upon this presumption alone without a great amount of difficulty.

Regardless, Trump continues to put his self-interests above his country.  If the President-Elect is unable to comprehend the duty he has to protect the security of his country even above his own interests, how can he be expected to protect its people and the democratic values our country holds dear?  Is this really the type of characteristic we want in a President?

The fact that we have a President-Elect who is so insecure about his own election result that he would think the evidence that implicates that the Russians hacked our systems necessarily implies that his election result is invalid may be another indication of just how lacking in character and unqualified a President-Elect we have.  Most normal statesmen (and/or stateswomen) would be more worried about protecting our country rather than protecting some less meaningful election result.  The last President that might have been accused of having this much insecurity is Nixon.

Interestingly and similarly, that President also went to great lengths in his efforts to protect his 1972 election result even going as far as becoming involved in a conspiracy to cover-up a crime.  It’s amazing how more things change the more they remain the same.  So, if anyone had any doubts before, it’s pretty clear to me now where this Presidency is headed.