#DACA = Time for New Approach to #Resistance

Count me among the millions of Americans – apparently 3/4 of the population according to one poll – who don’t want to see Dreamers deported. Trump’s DACA decision is all the varieties of awful that a gazillion writers and activists and politicians have already described online, in the papers, in interviews, and in the streets ever since Jeff Sessions took the podium and threw 800,000 people who deserve better under the bus.

I know that, starting today even, there will be hundreds of demonstrations – marches, vigils, probably some civil disobedience too. And already millions of people are flooding Congressional voicemail boxes and email boxes with protest messages and demands that Congress pass a straight-up Dream Act bill pronto and test DT’s claim to be ready to sign such a bill into law.

And all of that energy and activism will make a difference, which I guess I believe it always does especially if it’s done in a non-violent and intentionally ethical way.

But here’s the thing.

The DACA announcement is just the latest in a series of actions by the Trump Administration that is designed to disrupt, endanger, demoralize, and weaken a part of the American community. Its reverberations go well beyond the Dreamers and their immediate families. Sudden shifts in DACA policy create waves of fear throughout the entire undocumented population, and throughout much of the Latino-American community, American citizens included. (And yes, other immigrant communities too, but given Trump’s long campaign of hating on Mexicans in particular, it’s important to be clear that Latinos are being targeted with a particular set of toxic and bigoted memes.)

Image result for Dreamers DACA

Trump’s efforts to repeal the ACA and, in the aftermath of Congress’s failure to pass a bill, his deliberate attempt to sabotage its proper functioning, also bring uncertainty, anxiety, and ultimately political exhaustion to those who rely on the ACA (like my family). Not just the people who use the exchanges – everyone who depends on different parts of the law, like Medicaid recipients, including families w/severely disabled children, is thrown off balance. Even if in the end the ACA stays in place and Trump loses interest in trying to sabotage it, think about the massive amount of contingency planning for worst case scenarios that’s going on in millions of households in this country, and the time, money, and volunteer hours that progressives are putting into trying to keep the law alive. That’s all energy and resources that could otherwise have been used to advance a progressive agenda, redirected down a path that will probably end in at least a partial loss of the hard-fought gains the ACA represented. Continue reading

Advertisements

Enumerating Good Things

This is an experiment. I’m going to start each work day this week by enumerating 7 good things going on in the world, and 7 good things going on in my personal life.

MONDAY 2/6 – IN THE WORLD

  1. There’s a planned Philly rally this week for Jewish & Muslim youth who want to support each other during these times.
  2. HIAS is working hard to help refugees.
  3. There’s a renewed appreciation and level of support for independent journalism.
  4. Millions of people openly express their opposition to Trump & his policies daily.
  5. Rev. William Barber is doing inspiring work.
  6. Other liberal democracies are stepping up to lead with good values even though Trump is not.
  7. Indivisible is making an effort to resist in an organized way.

MONDAY 2/6 – IN MY PERSONAL LIFE

  1. Melissa loves me.
  2. Sparky is my dog.
  3. I’m working for a progressive religious movement.
  4. The days are getting longer.
  5. My son has new shoes.
  6. Sherry Diamond is caring and helpful.
  7. Trader Joe’s frozen entrees are delicious.

 

Oh well, I didn’t do it for 3 days. But I might as well try again.

FRIDAY 2/10 – IN MY PERSONAL LIFE

  1. Mr. Fleury is a great teacher and mentor for my son.
  2. I am appreciated at my work place.
  3. I have a warm safe place to live.
  4. I get invited to Shabbat dinner at friends’ homes.
  5. Many people care about me.
  6. I can be very, very funny.
  7. I have an exciting book I’m getting closer to finishing.

FRIDAY 2/10 – IN THE WORLD

  1. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals firmly rejected Trump’s Muslim travel ban.
  2. I’m hearing that Republicans are getting inundated with cards, calls, emails, and other messages from progressives.
  3. All the Senate Democrats voted as a bloc against DeVos’ confirmation, and with 2 Republicans forced the VP to have to cast a tie-breaking vote.
  4. There are some Israelis and Palestinians who are working together to aid Syrian refugee children currently living in shelters on the Greek isle of Lesbos.
  5. It’s possible that Trump’s administration will screw lots of things up in a way that backfires bigly against their authoritarian and alt-right backers. I don’t know if it’s merely possible, or if it’s probable, or unlikely but still possible – but I do know that the chances of it are non-zero.
  6. California, Oregon, and Washington state are really emerging as a regional block that is organized around a progressive vision of America.
  7. Many Jewish-American organizations came out strong against the “Regularization Bill” passed by the right wingers in the Knesset earlier this week.

In first executive order, Pres Trump finally puts Christ back in Christmas

In what will be long remembered as the capstone of a stunning act of historical table-turning, the nation’s newly sworn in president struck what may be the final and decisive blow to end our nation’s long War on Christmas, which has now spanned two presidents’ administrations, Bush and Obama.

Image result for arctic circle map

The Arctic Circle – ground zero of the War on Christmas. The war, which began under the George W. Bush administration with a massive invasion of the Arctic Circle and Santa’s base of terror, has carried on in fits and starts throughout the Obama administration.

Both former presidents have faced criticism over their War on Christmas policies, and now President Trump hopes, with the stroke of what appears to be an unusually small pen, to break through the inertia and bureaucratic bungling that has characterized the nation’s longest and least popular war.
The Bush administration has been faulted for wrongly believing dubious intelligence sources claiming that Santa had WMDs hidden in the arctic ice – a claim that was finally proven false beyond a doubt when the last major block of ice in the arctic finally melted amid rising global temperatures 5 years Image result for george w bush looking sadago. The Obama administration, meanwhile, which sought to extract the U.S. from the war, instead became entangled in an endless war of attrition with ESIL, the so-called Elvish State in Lapland that formed in the political vacuum that arose near the North Pole after Santa was finally neutralized by American special forces.

Image result for obama looking sad

The War on Christmas consumed and bedeviled two presidents – will it conquer Trump as well?

Trump’s surprise executive order directs all government and military agencies to find the person at the center of the entire Christmas movement, Christ, apprehend him and put him back in Christmas once and for all.

“There’s too much of this Christ-like behavior out there growing among people in this country, and we’re getting screwed because of it – the competition is reaming us,” the new president said. “You know, this weak, hand-out mentality, you know, I don’t want to be politically incorrect, but ‘oh no, they’re poor, let’s help them,’ you know – you’re sick of it, right? And then after they cash their welfare check, they’re coming and taking your jobs, and the politicians just couldn’t care less.” Continue reading

Broken Conversations

Was talking with my fabulous wife, Melissa, this morning, about immigration issues in the U.S. One of my take-aways was that this subject, like many others in our society, has become so polarized and politicized that it’s virtually impossible to have a functional and thoughtful conversation about it.

Case in point:

We both are horrified by the xenophobia and racism Trump uses in talking about Mexican and Latino immigrants – particularly undocumented immigrants. And we both fully support comprehensive immigration reform including a path to citizenship. That said, we know someone who has a beef with current U.S. immigration policy and who, as a result of that beef, sometimes expresses support for Trump’s candidacy (even though he readily agrees that Trump is a racist and a demagogue). Ironically, his beef is not with Democratic proposals for immigration reform; no, his beef is with the H1B-Visa program, the one that allows American companies, often in hi-tech, to hire highly skilled workers from other countries to do things like computer engineering, bio-science, and medical professional work. His deal was that he got laid off by a major tech corporation, which replaced him with a cheaper professional from a poorer country. Before his last day on the job, he was required to train his replacement.

I felt frustrated and threatened to hear that this person was even considering supporting Trump – given his overall values and past voting history, it came as a shock. He also really likes Bernie. But he has come to think of all “establishment” candidates as part of a (legal) immigration system that makes it harder for him to get work in his field at a decent rate of pay. Bringing up the fact that he could easily stand for reform of the H1B-Visa program while still advocating for a path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented, low-wage-earning immigrants may give him pause for thought, but my wife rightly observed that the emotional overlay for the whole subject of “immigration” writ large is clearly charged for him and may override other considerations. 

Unfortunately, immigration is a topic that falls into the category of a broken conversation. Meaning we have no way, in our mainstream culture, and very few ways in our alternative cultural settings, to have a healthy, constructive conversation about the issue. And in an election year this is an even more broken conversation.

I’m asking myself what might be the components of a not broken conversation – a constructive conversation. I think they include:

  • being able to name all of the stakeholders in an issue and have some understanding and empathy for their legitimate concerns and needs
  • searching for solutions that seek to balance different legitimate concerns
  • considering the different values that are at stake and different ways to balance them
  • refraining from black and white thinking or demonizing an entire stakeholding community

We have other broken conversations in this country. Like guns.

And Israel/Palestine is a thoroughly broken conversation, not just in the US but all over the world.

Broken conversations frighten me.

 

Voted for Bernie in Primary, Expect to Vote for Hillary in November

In Oregon we’ve had vote-by-mail for a long time – since before my wife and I arrived here in 2003. It works really well, we get consistently high voter participation, and officials of both major parties don’t seem to have any complaints about the security of the system. I

ballothappen to be someone who would always feel uncertain about my vote being recorded properly if I used a touch-screen system to vote, so it feels good when I take a black or blue ink ball point and fill in the little oval next to each of my choices.

I filled out my ballot today, May 4th, even though I have until the 17th to submit it. (Another nice thing – no missed work-time waiting in unpredictable lines at a polling station). As someone who has written a fair amount of pro-Hillary stuff, it might surprise some of my friends to see that I voted for Bernie.

I voted for Bernie because my politics are closer to his politics than any other candidate in the race. But, I also voted for him because I believe Hillary is going to be the nominee, and because I want to strengthen the place of the policies and ideals that Bernie’s campaign has emphasized within the Democratic party. I want Bernie’s people to have some good leverage when they sit down with Hillary’s people to hammer out what kind of influence on the D agenda Bernie’s ideas will have, in exchange for his clear and energetic support for her once she’s the nominee.

I hesitated before I cast my vote for him in part because of the Bernie or Bust movement, which is a cause I do not want to lend any support to. I very nearly voted for Hillary, not as a lesser evil, but as an impressive and strong Democratic presidential candidate in her own right. Assuming things play out as expected and she wins the nomination, I plan to campaign for Hillary and vote for her in November. My vote for Bernie was not a vote against Hillary.

B or H

As a Jewish-American, it felt surreal and stunning to find myself, for the first time in my life, casting a vote for a Jewish person for president, just as it felt surreal and stunning the first time I voted for an African-American person for president. I am expecting that the first time I cast my vote for a woman for president it will also feel remarkable and exciting in terms of what it represents for the social progress of our country.

My vote for Bernie was not a vote against Hillary.

I’m grateful – profoundly – to Bernie Sanders for running a campaign that eschewed corporate financing and raised small amounts from millions of people. I’m doubly grateful for the way he and his supporters have put income inequality, greed, poverty, and the realities of a rigged economy firmly on the radar of our popular discourse. This is huge. I’m also grateful to Bernie for mounting a serious and productive challenge against Hillary, because I think she’s a better candidate for it, and I think her campaign team understands how important the issues Sanders’ campaign has stressed in a much more thorough way than they might have if they hadn’t faced this challenge.

All that said, I’m not sure I would have voted for Bernie if the dynamics of the primary race were different. If I thought he still had a serious chance of being the nominee, I think I’d have probably voted for Clinton. I’m happy with the idea of either of them carrying the torch against Trump this November. I think she gets less credit than she deserves for her achievements and her commitment to a wide array of progressive causes. I think the scrutiny Bernie’s campaign has brought to bear on all candidates who have had cozy relationships with Wall Street interests is fair, but I don’t believe it’s disqualifying, nor do I think it’s fair to paint Hillary as some kind of corporate shill, and I think it’s seriously loony to paint her as “the same” as the Republicans or as some kind of evil right-wing crony posing as a liberal.

If I had my way, I’d like Obama to be able to serve another term. I can’t have that. I’ll take Bernie or Hillary over Trump a zillion times over, any way you slice it.

Why a D in the WH matters so much

As I await the results of today’s primaries in several New England states, I am thinking about how much we have to preserve, how much we stand to lose, and how much we could gain if the Dems hold the WH this November (and, presumably, win back the Senate in the process). I’m leaning towards voting Bernie in the May primary in Oregon, and I am guessing he’ll win here and maybe in California too, though that’s a tougher read.

But I’m definitely not on the “Bernie or Bust” train.

I’m on the “Bernie or . . . Hillary” train.

My BOB friends tell me that Hill’s a corporate neo-con she-devil who is probably not worth voting for in November. She’s a coldhearted coddler of dictators in Central America*, a Wall Street wolf in sheep’s clothing, a Goldman Sachs insider who loves corporate oligarchy, and a double dealing diabolical damsel of doom.

I tell them that I don’t think she’s as bad as they say. She doesn’t inspire me like Obama (or Bernie, for that matter), she has a checkered history on a number of progressive issues as a Senator, and she certainly is part of the Washington establishment. Yes, all true. But she is not Satan’s corporate spawn, nor is she the secret neocon prodigy of Dick Cheney. As a progressive who wants to see income inequality decline, climate damage reversed, diplomacy-first international policy, universal health insurance, and FDR-level investment in education and infrastructure, I recognize that Hillary’s past hasn’t been that of a consistent and clear advocate of all of those policies full force, though these are the ideas and ideals at the core of her vision and hope for this country.

delegates

But, I also recognize that her haters on the left have a habit of tarring and feathering her by listing all of her (real and sometimes fabricated) faults, while ignoring everything good – everything that progressives care about – that she’s achieved and fought for throughout her career. And that strikes me as where the distortion starts to creep in to the Bernieverse. I like Bernie, I’m probably voting for him this May, but I’m increasingly frightened of the Bernamentalists.

Compromised creature of politics that she is notwithstanding, an HRC succession to Obama’s 2 terms would enable us to preserve hugely important progressive changes that so many of us have worked and fought for for decades. Hillary in the WH means we get to:

  • keep Obamacare, and at minimum expand it. (Personal note: any R in the WH will be able to single-handedly kill Obamacare, by refusing to sign into law any budget that funds it. My family would be screwed. I sometimes think Bernie voters who choose to skip the Nov election should be willing to pay for our impossibly high premiums once O-care is gone thanks to their refusal to vote for the She-Devil.) This is real folks, for millions of people. The uninsured rate has been cut in half so far and will continue to shrink if a D is elected.
  • get Merrick Garland or some other liberal justice added to SCOTUS. If a R wins, Mitch McConnell’s Senate continues to block any vote on Garland, and we get instead another right wing justice. Bernie-fans: if you want any chance at a SCOTUS that might overturn Citizens United, we need 5 libs on the court for that to be remotely possible. Also, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a.k.a. Notorious RGB, is already in her 80s. I hate to say this, cuz I adore her, but she may be the next justice who needs to be replaced. If we elect an R this November, we could end up with a 6-3 conservative majority on the court. How the bleepity bleep bleep are we supposed to get anything revolutionary done if that happens? If you care about labor rights, we need a Dem in the WH – even the Blonde Terror of Rodham. If you care about abortion rights, or voting rights, or a dozen other crucial issues that SCOTUS gets to decide upon, then it makes no sense to refuse to vote for HRC in Nov.
  • prevent the deportation of several million undocumented immigrants whom Obama has tried to shield via executive order. The court just heard a case on this question and is likely to divide 4-4, meaning it will need to get revisited when justice number 9 (number 9, number 9, number — sorry, couldn’t stop myself) finally arrives. This shit is real folks. Please don’t inadvertently assist in a mass deportation that I bet you are fully and totally against. If D’s take the Senate and make gains in the House, maybe even get comprehensive immigration reform passed with a path to citizenship. Even if a corporate shill like Hillary signs that bill into law, it makes a yuuuuuuuge difference in the lives of millions of people who are among the most disadvantaged and exploited people living in this country.
  •  expand voting rights and maintain a Justice Dept that is willing to investigate voter suppression and systematic racism in police departments. Yup. Even dreadful Hillary is totally for that, from the bottom of her heart.
  • keep the Iran Nuclear Deal in place (and thus NOT go directly into preparations for a brand new massive war with Iran). Hillary the Hawk will uphold the Iran nuke deal, you ask? Uphold it – she’s the main architect of it. She’s the Sec State who got the coalition of nations, including recalcitrant Russia and China, to join the US in implementing the intense sanctions that brought Iran to the table. It was Obama’s policy, but she’s the one who did the intense diplomatic work to put that coalition together and keep it focused. When she handed off to Kerry, he was able to finish the job. When AIPAC and the GOP tried to kill the deal, she immediately and strongly stood up for it, and she continues to stand up for it to this very day. Every R candidate, by contrast, says they’d scrap the Iran nuke deal, and Trump and Cruz might just take us directly to war do not pass go do not collect $200, or in Trump’s case, $200 billion.
  • keep Planned Parenthood fully funded and keep women’s health at the top of the government’s agenda. Hillary has a stellar record on this and is a smart and tough advocate.
  • push for, and potentially pass, common sense gun laws (the ones that big majorities of Americans support, like universal background checks, bans on military-grade assault weapons, etc.) Hillary has been full-force blitzkreiging the NRA and advertising against them with an anger and abandon that I for one appreciate, given how in the past Dems have tended to tread carefully even while advocating these policies. This is not a dig on Bernie, btw. I don’t care if he was a bit more sympathetic to hunters than gun control purists would like. He’s totally on board with the basic reforms that need to happen, and that will not have a chance with an R in the WH. (See how I did that? – I preferred HRC’s politics on an issue but I gave Bernie the benefit of the doubt on his take.)
  • increase federal funding for Head Start, support for adoptive families, children’s after-school programs, and serious help with college affordability. No matter how many speeches Hillary got big bucks for at Goldman Sachs last year, she has been, is, and forever will be the person whose professional career started with the Children’s Defense Fund, the person who is passionate about government support for single moms, at-risk kids, poor families, and working families. I seriously defy anyone to say that isn’t who she is and what she advocates for, in a much feistier way than Obama does, btw (and I f—ing love Obama).
  • continue to stand up for LGBT equality, dignity, and full inclusion. This matters not just for millions of Americans, but the role the US has come to play internationally as an advocate of LGBT human rights is helping to change thinking in a positive direction all over the world.
  • continue to stand up for the equal treatment, respect, inclusion, and appreciation of people of all faiths or no faith at all. Hillary has been up front and clear every step of this campaign on all these issues, and her ads have been nothing short of fantastic.
  • build on Obama’s climate-change policies (and at the very least, not renounce them and walk away from the Paris treaty we just signed). Hillary is a full-on supporter of the Paris climate change agreement, and a full-on supporter of the federal investments that have quintupled American use of solar power since Obama signed the much maligned stimulus bill in 2009. Someone’s gonna say – No! She’d have allowed Keystone XL. Maybe, but Keystone XL is dead. Someone’s gonna say – No! She supports TPP and trade agreements that will cause us to fail to meet the Paris agreement targets. Well, maybe. Obama supports (and signed into law) TPP, and when I’ve listened to him explain his position, I frankly find him pretty convincing. But even if I’m wrong and Obama has sold his soul to corporate oligarchs for the TPP (I really don’t think so), would I have preferred McCain/Palin or Romney/Ryan be president in exchange for sitting out either of the last two elections as a matter of progressive “principle”? Hell-to-the-no-way-baby! I think when the chips fall that Hillary understands that global warming is real, that renewables are our best shot at a livable world and a strong 21st century economy, and that that’s what she’s gonna pursue as her big picture policy goal.

Continue reading

Cardinals & Homophobia

Thinking about a news story that appeared regarding Tyler Dunnington,  a 2014 minor league player in the Cardinals system who quit the sport due to the high degree of homophobic commentary he encountered. I just posted the following comment on an article discussing the steps the team is taking, along with MLB’s national consultant on LGBT inclusion, Billy Bean, on my favorite Cardinals blog, http://www.vivaelbirdos.com:

As a Cards fan and longtime LGBT ally

…I’m saddened by this story. Great that [John Mozeliak, General Manager of the Cards] is saying he wants to do the right thing and great that Billy Bean is doing the work he’s doing. I guess I have to say that it’s getting harder and harder for me to continue being an enthusiastic Cards fan given the many deeply politically conservative and religiously conservative movements so many in the organization have been overtly and subtly supporting for years. When you have a major religious organization with key Cards involved among MLB players preaching a version of Christianity that views homosexual behavior as contrary to God’s will; when you have players on Cards WS championship teams declining to go to the White House for the team honors; when you have Pujols and LaRussa appearing at Glenn Beck’s rally; when you have Waino’s twitter promoting Chik-fil-a restaurants; and the frequent anti-choice radio ads during ballgames on KMOX, the act of trying to be an active Cards fan feels more and more like it requires me to enter into some kind of quiet fraternity of the very socially conservative. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not begrudging every American his/her right to his/her opinion, nor do I begrudge the members of the Cardinals family the right to express theirs too. I’m just saying that, as someone who has very different values and beliefs, it’s getting really uncomfortable for me to have anything to do with the Redbirds. And that’s so sad, as I’ve loved following the team since I was a child.

 

The vivaelbirdos.com article can be found here.