Tag Archives: Women’s March

Is a Non-Violent Solution to Trump Feasible?

Another outrage, another march. This time – Families Together. I marched again, from Foley Square in Lower Manhattan across the Brooklyn Bridge (yes, that one).  We dispersed quietly on the other side of the bridge and took the subway home.

The closest I can come to describing the feel of it is that it was like sitting through a baseball game in August, losing 1-0 at the end and slinking out of the stadium, exhausted and enervated by the heat and the futility and the sense of loss. The crowd was in a mixed mood, with the usual chanting but also some anger in the tone. At the same time everyone was buoyed up, cheering loudly, when cars would pass on the adjacent roadway, horns blasting and fists pumping out of windows in solidarity with the marchers. One or two gave us the finger; favor returned.

More to the point, at one spot on the bridge a young man was handing out slips of paper headed “STOP I.C.E. DEPORTATIONS,” The paper went on, “Starting now, we will be occupying space and interfering with deportations, not with court hearings or release of immigrants.” It includes the hashtag #OccupyICENYC,” among others. The Instagram account of that name, like many other social media sites, is a verbal battleground between those who see ICE as a military-type deportation force “following orders” from the Great Leader (recalling Nazi Germany) and people who appear to be terrified that the United States is being overrun by crazed hordes of lawbreakers and who support most forms of abuse of “lawbreakers,” regardless of their personal situation (fleeing MS-13, for example). Passions over these issues are running high and seem to be escalating as the “Abolish ICE” theme gained a foothold among the protesters and became a major point of counterattack by Trump’s supporters.

I was reminded of a scene from the late 1960s, during one of the largest of the protest marches against the Vietnam War. We were moving along on the National Mall, tens of thousands strong, when there appeared a small group of rough looking young men carrying Viet Cong flags and screaming at the protesters as they ran by “you’ll never end the war that way – come with us!”

The effort to recruit the protesters in a more aggressive posture failed at the time, although throughout the war protest period there were major incidents of violence inspired by the hatred and fear of what the United States was doing in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. For the most part the protesters believed that peaceful resistance was, in the long run, the only effective means of pressuring the government to change course. The conflict and passions ran deep, dividing families, neighbors and congregations.

In the end, the protests, I believe, had a lot to do with changing the “public mind” about the war, helped along by journalists who risked, and sometimes gave, their lives to reveal the lies the government was telling about body counts, strategy and pretty much everything about the war. In the end, the U.S. “strategy” became untenable. The United States, for the first time, was defeated.

The Trump administration, like the Nixon one, has the strong support of perhaps 30 to 40 percent of the voting population. Those people appear not to care that the President of the United States is a serial liar, corrupt to the core. He continues to feed on their ignorance. As Trump and his enablers in Congress and state governments work to strip social and economic support from the population while, like Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, continuing to enrich themselves, Trump’s supporters stick with him because of single issues that are at the core of their belief-systems. Issues like abortion. They are so sure that it is right for the government to intervene in the personal lives of women that they will accept any form of degradation to roll back the right to abortion. Their anger, fear and ignorance are so profound that they do not grasp the significance of the changes Trump is making to our government.

Trump, with his enablers at Fox News, Breitbart and other right-wing fantasy-news shows, continues to escalate the rhetoric, conspiracy theories and outright lies. His tweets are more personal and strident than ever. He attacks and threatens American companies that react unfavorably to his trade policies. He directly threatens long-standing U.S. allies with “you will do as I want or else.” I don’t believe any other president in American history has behaved this way. It sounds more like Adolf Hitler demonizing segments of German society than an elected leader of a democracy.

In discussions with conservative friends over the years, I have asked a hard question but never received a good response: how long do you suppose the American underclasses are going to accept the tilting of the economic and political system against them before they say “enough” and rise to challenge those who are oppressing them? No one seemed ever to believe such a thing is possible here in the United States of America, land of the free and home of the brave.

The usual response was a form of whataboutism that I did not recognize as such at the time: if you work hard, you can get ahead; if not, too bad. My family came here legally so why should we let people who came here illegally become citizens? It’s our country — love it or leave it. And so on. Similar responses to those from Trump supporters. Don’t care what is happening to “them;” they’re not “us,” so to hell with them. Beneath Trump’s adoring masses are racism and xenophobia that we, foolishly, thought had finally been vanquished when Barack Obama was twice elected President.

Let me be clear that I do not believe violence is a workable response to the Trump despotism. My concern is that as Trump’s moral depravity, selfishness and egomania continue to degrade political discourse and threaten democratic institutions, including the right to equal counting of votes in elections, while he conspires with foreign powers hostile to the American way of life, we are going to cross a line of intolerance from which violent responses will seem to many the only viable response remaining. People in the right-wing already are talking of violent responses to any attempt to remove Trump from office, regardless of the evidence against him. ICE is arresting protesters, including elected officials, for purported interference with its deportation program that has, with direction and overt approval from the highest stations in the Trump administration, ripped apart families and shredded the oath of office he took to support the Constitution. Trump has overtly called for government coercive actions against people that will bypass the court system and ignore the clear mandates of the Due Process Clause of the Constitution.

Trump’s history as a corporate mogul is well documented. His behavior has been that of a bully who ordered underlings around at his whim, cheated many people and bankrupted many companies. It is therefore hardly surprising that a man who does not read, has no patience with facts that complicate his personal advancement and who has behaved with astonishing cruelty toward disabled people, women and non-whites, citizen and non-citizen alike, would behave like an ignorant bully in public life, catering only to those who show total obeisance to him. It seems entirely plausible that such a person would stop at nothing, including conspiring with enemies of the United States, to achieve his personal ambitions. It has happened elsewhere, and as many thoughtful scholars have documented, it can happen here.

As Trump’s conduct continues to degrade the office of the President, to undermine relations with important foreign allies, and to threaten the ability of the American political system to hold him accountable, the question lingers:  how long will this go on before desperation takes hold and desperate measures are taken? Even the Women’s March is growing impatient, as shown by this tweet: “Like we’ve been saying: marching is not enough. It’s time for direct action. It’s time to disobey. #WomenDisobey” The tweet referenced an opinion piece in the Guardian to the same effect. https://bit.ly/2KNvN3D

There is no clear answer to my question, I suppose. The question is, as it has always been, too hard. I believe that there is one, and probably only one, ray of hope that can forestall our descent into violent resistance: the elections of 2018. If you have read my posts before, you have no doubt seen my pleas regarding the importance of getting out the vote. As I reflect on our troubled past as a nation, not perfect but far from the worst, it seems to me that the election, the precious irreplaceable right, and obligation, to vote is the only path to salvation as a free democratic country.

In practice, however, it is not enough to just vote. The Trumpers are alarmed and engaged about the threat to their hero and they will be aggressive in voting too. And, of course, there are the numerous, documented cases in which legitimate voters have been rejected for various reasons at polling places around the country, particularly in red states. What is needed, I suggest, is for every voter in contestable precincts to take responsibility to (1) have all eligible members of the family registered to vote in November, (2) create an ironclad plan for how the family will get to the polls, and (3) identify one or more other people who may need help getting to the polls or actually voting and do what is necessary to get them there. Your country, your freedom is at stake here. One-party control of the government must be ended and this is the only way to do it.

For those interested, I have posted photographs from the New York City Families Together March in a separate post below this one.

Cholesterol: Democracy’s Only Hope

The title of this post comes from my favorite sign at this year’s Women’s March in New York City. It is, of course, not true, but I thought it was clever. There are better ways to remove Trump than waiting for him to have a heart attack. I will return to that in a moment.

I had planned to title this piece something more like “And still they came.” Meaning that beginning at 11 am and continuing for more than five hours, the marchers processed in New York. The size of the crowd was overwhelming.

They started somewhere up past West 72nd (we never made it up there for the rally) and came down 8th Avenue (aka Central Park West) passed by Columbus Circle went east on West 58th to 6th Avenue, then down to the mid-40s where the March ended. We had to walk out Broadway and quickly ran into a near standstill crowd at 60th. We crept forward to 63rd, where the police finally allowed our crowd to cross back toward 8th Avenue to merge into the main body of the March. Thus, we processed across town to 6th Avenue and turned toward Downtown. We finally gave out at West 54th Street and headed back toward our apartment. On the way we stopped to get a bite to eat (splitting a corned beef on rye, for which New York is justly famous). Back on the street at about 4 pm, we realized that the people were still marching and chanting; even when we reached Columbus Circle, almost back to our apartment, the street was packed with marchers carrying signs.

So, back to the signs. I can’t say this year’s crop was as creative as those of the first March in Washington last year but some of them were pretty good. I have attached photos of the ones suitable for a “family blog.” If you want to see the others, submit a reply and I will send them privately to you.

The “cholesterol sign” mentioned above is, of course, an allusion to the recent medical report on Donald Trump’s health, a report that, like everything else about Trump, cries out for a redo by people not employed in the White House, Fox News or the Republican Party. My ultimate message, however, is not to quibble about Trump’s health.

Rather, I want to say that the real way to get rid of Trump is to bring about one or more of the following:

(1) Robert Mueller’s investigation acts upon the conclusion that Trump was complicit in the Russian interference in the 2016 election or that Trump has otherwise engaged in obstruction of justice or some other “high crime or misdemeanor,” leading to irresistible pressure for impeachment.

This is, of course, beyond the control or influence of us as individuals. As much as we may prefer a direct take-down of the president, his co-conspirators and enablers, we cannot afford to rely solely on that approach, especially since Republicans control both houses of Congress and are virtually certain to defend Trump to the death.

Thus, we turn to No. 2:

(2) effect a massive Democratic turnout for Democratic candidates in the 2018 midterms and strip the Republican Party of control of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

This is the part we can control. The massive turnout for the Women’s March around the country is strong, but not conclusive, evidence that the Democratic Party can experience a massive renaissance and reverse the anti-humanity, anti-environment plague of the Trump-Republican regime. Marching is great, resistance is essential and bringing constant pressure against the regime is important. But, in the end, victory can only be accomplished by one thing:  VOTE THE BASTARDS OUT OF OFFICE.

It is likely that, if you read this blog, you agree with me on this. But it is not enough for each of us individually to follow that prescription and arrange our affairs so we can vote in the 2018 midterms. There are many other potential supporters who, for a variety of “reasons” will not be sufficiently motivated to actually go to the polls or who, for a variety of reasons, will face obstacles to voting, either in their personal circumstances or because they are unaware how to handle the barriers to voting that have been erected in many jurisdictions. If we’re going to win this election going away, we each must reach out to such people and offer to help them by guiding them, driving them, just plain encouraging them, asking them to make the commitment to you personally and then remind them again on Election Day, taking the extra step to assure that every possible vote for Democratic candidates is actually cast on Election Day.

If you run into resistance, with, for example, someone telling you that for reason X or Y, they are going to vote for some third party single-issue candidate, you need to double down with that person and bring pressure on them so that they understand that voting for such candidates is the same as not voting at all or, worse, the same as voting for the Republicans and a continuation of the anti-American agenda they have pursued since Donald Trump was inaugurated. This is a solemn obligation of every right-thinking American. VOTE and make sure that every like-minded person you know also VOTES. This may be awkward in some cases, but if you approach friends on a positive, personal basis, they will generally respect what you are doing.

Understand that the supporters of Donald Trump are not going to just give up if they feel his position is being threatened. No matter what you may have read about the softening of his support, those folks who have found a way to believe in Trump are not going to sit at home whining about how the Democrats are organized and passionate about turning Trump and his cabal out of office. They will vote because they passionately believe Trump is a victim and that they are victims and that sense of victimization and loss is a powerful driving force that largely explains the shock vote in 2016.

That means that every vote is more important than ever. Recall that one legislative seat in Virginia was recently lost by drawing the Republican winner’s name from a bowl because the actual vote of the people was deemed to be a tie! Think about that – an “elected” representative chosen by drawing a name from a bowl.

That doesn’t happen often, but it can happen again. Moreover, the Electoral College vote was determined ultimately by a total of 77,744 votes in three states. Those votes represent .057 percent of the total votes cast for Trump and Clinton combined. Our fate was determined by the slimmest of margins. If this happens again in 2018, resulting in continued Republican control of the House and Senate, who will we blame then? We will just have to look in a mirror to see who is responsible.

Enjoy the photos. Be moved. Act! Join the ACLU. Or Moveon.org. Or Indivisible. Or all of them. Play a part, win the fight, win the war for the soul of the country. Save our republic and its democracy … without cholesterol.

When You Rest on Your Laurels, You Become a Stationary Target

The defeat of the Republican-sponsored American Health Care Act (AHCA) was a great victory for the people.  Thanks go to the organizing leaders at, in alpha order: ACLU/PeoplePower.org), Grassroots Alexandria, Indivisible (and its many local arms), MoveOn.org, Women’s March, plus the many other national and local groups whose names I don’t even know and, of course, to the individuals who called, wrote, marched, protested, demonstrated and rallied against the atrocity of the AHCA. And thanks also to AARP, American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, National Alliance on Mental Illness, and Planned Parenthood, among others.

I have noted that some people feel that we have somehow “won the war” with this victory and that they can now either step back or at least “move on to something else.” This is an understandable response to what has happened. At the same time, we must not become complacent about the Trump administration. The AHCA could be brought back by the Republican majority at any time. So by all means celebrate, relish the feeling of a huge and, I must say it, improbable achievement. Then prepare to fight the enemy in our front.

But also post guards on the flanks and in the rear. Trump blames the loss of the ACHA on Democrats and, of course, he would. It is certain as the sunrise, however, that Trump never expected any Democrat to vote for the bill. Blaming Democrats is just another head-fake. Remember, as someone (not Thomas Jefferson) famously said, “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” This is particularly true now. Trump and Ryan are humiliated and angry and they have shown that they do not grasp what “the welfare of the people” really means.

Moreover, Trump has tweeted that the way forward is this: “ObamaCare will explode and we will all get together and piece together a great healthcare plan for THE PEOPLE. Do not worry!” That tweet has been “liked” over 91,000 times. As suggested by Deepak Gupta and others, what does this say about Trump’s constitutional obligation to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed?” U.S. Constitution, Art. II, sec. 3. Trump appears to believe that the Take Care obligation is part of the “fake Constitution” and does not apply to him. Wrong again.

What comes next is not clear. It could be “tax reform” or something else. Or multiple things. We already know that the Trump administration, through executive orders and Cabinet appointments, has declared war on the environment. Many more craven acts of legislative and regulatory vandalism are coming. But the March for Science is also coming – on April 22 in Washington and elsewhere … and many other demonstrations of the peoples’ commitment to resisting the destructive agenda of the Trump administration. It is critically important to show Trump that the people do not accept his assault on the air they breathe and the water they drink, that the people do not accept his attempt to shift the burden of taxation toward the population sector already suffering economic hardship or worse and that the people will not accept his effort to turn the country into “fortress America” with border walls and distrust of everyone who does not fit his narrow concept of what it means to be an American.

The Resistance must remain constant, relentless and ubiquitous so the administration sees that there are no weak spots to be exploited. Resistance is the only course left to stop the right-wing idealogues from undermining American values. In this regard, finally, it is important to make clear to Democratic lawmakers at every level that supporting the Republican agenda in any respect is unacceptable.

We have seen what the Republican agenda is prepared to do to achieve its imaginary wonderland of the “free market” in all things: just consider that the leadership was prepared to strip from the Affordable Car Act replacement legislation most of the “essential benefits” in order to appease the Freedom Caucus and secure their votes. Fortunately for the country, enough of the extremist demands of the Freedom Caucus were rejected to stop them from supporting the legislation. While Trump’s oft-touted-but-never-demonstrated negotiating skills failed him in this instance, we have seen the price the leadership was willing to pay to achieve their ideological ends, regardless of the consequences to the people who need those “essential benefits” the most. We cannot afford to take chances with a group that is willing to drive the country off a cliff to prove a point.

Trump Spits in Women’s Faces; Calls on Nation to … What?

I am not making this up. Tomorrow the Federal Register of the United States will publish a Presidential Proclamation declaring that January 20, 2017, the date of Trump’s inauguration, shall be a “National Day of Patriotic Devotion,” the stated purpose of which is to “strengthen our bonds to each other and to our country — and to renew the duties of Government to the people.” See http://bit.ly/2j6VtJC  See also http://wapo.st/2j7soOc The proclamation is quite precise as to the date and does not say that the date is to be so recognized in future years. It appears, therefore, to be solely about Trump’s inauguration, attempting to unify the concepts of his election/inauguration and patriotism. The cult of personality is now with us. Can loyalty oaths be far behind?

This action aligns with the signing of an Executive Order today that cuts off U.S. funding to international non-governmental organizations that perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other countries. The history is that this “Mexico City Policy” was announced by President Reagan in 1984, rescinded in 1993, restored in 2001, rescinded in 2009 and now, once again, is restored. Women of the World, Trump has heard your cry for control of your own bodies and responded with contemptuous spit.

The monumental Women’s March on January 21 had better be the kickoff of a unified national and even global movement to counteract what Trump has in store or the essential nature of the American experience will be lost. Mobilize now.

The Democratic Party needs to make a decision too. Is it going to try to outplay Trump at his own game, or accept his rejection of “politics as usual” and take the game to him. The Party must get organized, develop an action strategy and communicate it through the massive networks developed by the Obama and Clinton organizations. Trump is going to pick everyone apart if they continue to try to placate him with “we want to work with you.” He has made it clear there is only one basis on which he will work with anyone and that is on terms he sets. The Party must decide where its soul is and act accordingly or abandon the pretense that it represents the liberal/progressive cohort in our politics.

As for the media, you have clearly been warned. It’s déjà vu all over again. Richard Nixon has risen and is embodied in Donald Trump. You must stop depending on the White House to feed you what they want you to get.  Stop giving air time to people like Kellyanne Conway just because they work for Trump. And please, please get rid of the Trump shills on the “panels of experts” that discuss everything Trump says and does. Go back to being news organizations. Trump is not entertaining.

Americans should not have to reply on the satire of Saturday Night Live and the Daily Show to point out the hypocrisy and absurdity of this administration and Congress. Take risks. Grab hold of stories and don’t give up. Where are the tax returns? What is he hiding? Call out the lies, every one of them. That alone will give you plenty to report on.

The Women’s March

“Shame, Shame, Shame, Shame, SHAME! SHAME!!” This moment in front of the new Trump Hotel in Washington DC was, for me, the defining point in the extraordinary, historic Women’s March. The chant began with a few voices and quickly the chorus rose to a crescendo, beautifully adapting the meme from Game of Thrones where religious fanatics used it against captive members of the elite.

Trump wasn’t there to hear it, of course. He was comfortably ensconced in the White House admiring himself and thinking of new ways to defy the lessons of history by viciously attacking “the press” and “the media” as “among the most dishonest human beings on earth.” http://n.pr/2kd2p90

I was there with my wife, step-daughter, and some friends representing different generations. Another husband was with us and did a great job as “point man” for our group of a dozen. I was stepped on and pushed around many times by the crush of the crowd and I stepped on and bumped into quite a few people myself. To move in a group you had to form a human chain, linking hands and snaking through the small spaces in the sea of humanity. “’S’cuse me, sorry, sorry.” Not once was a cross word or dirty look exchanged. Everyone was there for the same purpose and no doubt as awed as we were at the staggering size of the crowd. We waited in a line for an entire hour to get to the bank of portable toilets.

A multitude of issues were represented among the throng, but there was no conflict among them in the March. Everyone was respected by everyone else. A remarkable experience. “This,” the crowd often repeated, “is what democracy looks like.”

We bailed out a few blocks short of the White House as exhaustion and hunger took their toll. Restaurants and the Metro were overwhelmed by thousands upon thousands of people at the end. Upon returning home, we were amazed at the pictures from around the country and around the world of parallel marches, involving millions of marchers globally. The crowd in Washington alone is estimated at more than a half million. The pictures of Chicago and Austin and everywhere are surreal.

The President will almost certainly continue to deny the reality that he is a minority president, that his approach to leadership desecrates the office he holds and is an embarrassment to this country. His relentless practice of personal aggrandizement, self-approval and hostility to truth, is matched by the shills he has hired to be the face of the White House. Kellyanne Conway, in particular, holding the title Counselor to the President, responds to points about Trump’s lies by pointing to mistakes others make. She just did this again about Trump’s demonstrably false claims about public attendance at his inauguration, angrily arguing that a member of the White House press pool, mistakenly reported that a bust of Dr. Martin Luther King had been removed. https://yhoo.it/2iRm2aJ. That mistake was acknowledged and corrected, but Trump’s lies remain. And the reporter who made the mistake is just a reporter. Trump is President of the United States of America. The two incidents are not remotely comparable.

Interestingly, Ms. Conway, when pressed about why the President would have his Press Secretary make a provably false statement in his first post-inaugural appearance, threatened the press again with a statement to the effect that “if you’re going to refer to the Press Secretary in these terms we’re going to have to rethink our relationship here.”  In other words, the press had better lay off criticizing the President and his staff or there will be no more access.

There is no reason to believe that Trump can or will change his approach to leadership. He is in, I predict, for a very rough time as President. The Women’s March is just the beginning. “Shame, Shame, Shame, Shame, SHAME! SHAME!!”

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