You Can’t Make this Stuff Up…

25 May 2017

ED Letter

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

When I was growing up one of the ongoing discussions we school children had was, “How could the people in Germany not do something to stop Adolph Hitler and the horrible things he did in World War II? All the atrocities he perpetuated inside and outside of the country?” In the fifties and early sixties, WWII was still very recent in our young minds and the soldiers in the Combat! television series our heroes—at least for the boys. Then, in the space of only a few more years we lost that innocence in the glare of nightly news reports and pictures of our friends coming home from Vietnam in flag-draped coffins, lined up in the hold of large cargo planes.
To be clear, I am in no way making a comparison between Donald J. Trump and Adolph Hitler.

But I am astounded that as I flip through the news channels it is clear that Trump is correct. He probably could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and his base would likely still vote for him, again.

His magic number is 39. Thirty-nine percent of the electorate, or at least of those that vote, still express confidence in him, which I think is just fine. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion.

What astounds me is that those 39% seem to choose to ignore or disbelieve the possibility of any wrong-doing by the Trump presidential campaign. Or any wrong doing by Trump.

Or maybe, they just do not think he is doing anything wrong.

Again, to be clear. I believe Trump is a result of our society and our culture, and how we practice or allow politics to be practiced in 2017. Frankly, there is enough hypocrisy in both major political parties to confuse any potential voter. But politics aside, when I remember the child I was, asking how the German people could not call out Hitler, I think I begin to understand.

We are witnessing in this country a solid 39% who are okay with returning to the strong man theory of governance. If Trump is a reflection of our culture, then so was Obama. And if one of them was inspirational to a large chunk of the populace, then I believe so is the other.

It is the things that we do not talk about that will be our undoing.

You don’t have to be a sixty-five year old man to know what the world looks like when countries turn governance over to the “strong men” of history. With the promise of lower taxes, border security, national pride or bread and circuses, history is replete with examples of countries who have traded personal freedom and human rights in exchange for empty promises to loud-mouthed egomaniacs who played on fear, racism and classism.

It would be comical, as Saturday Night Live and other shows demonstrate, if the outcomes were not so very tragic, time after time, at the cost of unbelievable human suffering, and death.

And yet, as we sit transfixed by the latest drama emanating from the White House and so-signed by Congress, or the bro-mances spreading around the world, we are seeing the fabric of an enlightened culture unravel on a daily basis.

In D.C., the following legislation is quietly making its way through Congress:

HR 861, to Terminate the Environmental Protection Agency, was referred to the Subcommittee on Environment on April 2, 2017. The EPA is falling victim to small minded men who can’t seem to make a living without despoiling the environment, and then whining about it instead of owning up to their own deficiencies and being held accountable.
HR 610 provides Vouchers for Public Education & Repeal Nutrition Standards, moving forward the assault on public education that has been underway for decades. And scuttling nutrition standards for our children along the way.
HR 899 Terminates the Department of Education, presumably because local potentates can better control literacy and socially disadvantage communities and keep them just where it suits the local power structure best.
HJR 69 Repeal Rule Protecting Wildlife refuges in Alaska, as yet one more means of opening lands for exploitation.
HR 354 to Defund Planned Parenthood has picked up 136 Congressional cosponsors, presumably because one of the best ways to maintain male domination in the U.S. is by denying women access to health care services.
HR 785 National Right to Work was referred to committee on February 1, 2017. This one ends unions, and perpetuates the mythology that “right to work” means corporate owners know what’s best for workers, and can keep wages at subsistence levels, as long as food stamps (SNAP) and other government programs (healthcare) can subsidize the owners’ expenses.
HR 83 the Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Bill is not likely to go away anytime soon, because there really is a line in the sand where each of us needs to take a stand. The U.S. Justice Department, currently led by Secretary Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, is doing its best to undue enlightened administration of U.S. justice in favor of backward confederacy norms. Really.
HR 147 Criminalizing Abortion (“Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act”) reads like the “Right to Work” approach to abortion criminalization.
H.R.1342 — 115th Congress (2017-2018) To prohibit any institution of higher education that receives a Federal research and development grant and does not comply with a lawful request for information or detainment of an alien made by any officer or employee of the Federal government who is charged with enforcement of the immigration laws from receiving indirect cost reimbursement funding, and for other purposes.

Of course, I just researched the updates on bills highlighted earlier in the year by other watchdog organizations. Rest assured, the Congressional leadership has been busy looking for other ways to roll back civilization, and to find ways to cut discretionary, entitlement and safety-net programs to pay for the trillion dollar tax cuts the Trump administration is promising the wealthiest class of Americans.

At USDA, the 2018 Farm Bill under the leadership of Secretary Sessions is already taking shape, much like a fresh side of beef on the butcher’s block, just waiting for the thwack of a cleaver. Rural Development programs are targeted and others, but of course the big prize is SNAP (the trillion dollar food stamp program). For years, Speaker Paul Ryan (before he was speaker) has been targeting SNAP with a variety of policy changes that would effectively decrease the number of people eligible. See his Path to Prosperity, a missive reworked and reintroduced year after year (2011-2016). It contains a number of tried and true cost cutting methods, block grants, etc., but also incorporates the language referenced above, i.e., promising “prosperity and security” for all—as long as you do not come from south of the border.

What it really comes down to is this.

Who are we, as a people? In what do we believe? Maybe more importantly, when the little boys and girls of the future look back on us, what will they say.

Will they ask, “how could they have taken food from the mouths of babies? How could they have deported mothers separated from their children? How could they have desecrated our planet? How could they have followed such angry and broken men?

“How could they have wasted such unbelievable opportunities?”

If you are old enough to vote today, then I believe you have a responsibility to be engaged in the drama unfolding in Washington, D.C., across the country and around the world. In a country where the only press allowed into a White House meeting of our president and the Russian foreign minister and his cohorts is the Russian foreign press you have to ask, what is wrong with this picture? The latest double speak is “strategy.” What we used to call, “treason.”

These are the things we need to talk about. In plain English.

We need to discuss why when a black president does something it’s shameful. But when a white president does the same thing, it’s leadership?

Why do we allow bankers to run the White House and White House employees to make profit off the business of government? And, we need to see President Trump’s tax returns because we have to know who owns our president.

These are the conversations we have to have with our family, our friends, and others in our community. And always and especially, with those we do not usually talk with, or who we think are “different.”

These are the things we need to talk about, before we wake up and find that the time to talk is past.
As always, maybe the best thing we can do is to listen to those—family, co-workers, whomever—who seem to be embracing the new normal. If we can learn how and why people support the new American jingoism, we will be better prepared to engage the 46% of the country who sat out the last election. They are the allies we need to support our values, who most likely share our values. And who would likely support the programs for which we work so hard, if not for the toxic partisan politics that fill the blogosphere, television and radio airwaves.

One way you can help us keep the conversation going is by contributing to CFJC. We could really use the help.

Thank you for keeping the faith.

Best.

armando-sig

 

 

 

Y. Armando Nieto
Executive Director

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