Thank You, Mr. President

In his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, Joseph R. Biden made reference to former President Barack Obama and said, “Thank you, Mr. President.” I think it is high time that we do the same thing for Donald Trump. It’s time to give him a break and say, “Thank you, Mr. President.” There are a number of reasons I suggest this.

For too long, Trump has been denigrated for not reading. But from the early 1900s we have used the expression, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” So what if Trump does not read? He watches television and his example has encouraged Americans to watch more TV, themselves. In doing so we are treated to constantly changing visuals, to what is now thousands of pictures, equating to millions of words in hundreds of thousands of books. That means we are smarter, now. And watching television is faster than reading a book. Thank you, Mr. President.

Besides, it’s unfair to say Trump does not read. He does. But, like many of us, he stops reading when the book or subject does not hold his attention. For example, people have said that he never read the Constitution of the United States. Well, at least he started to. But he was understandably turned off by the first three words, “We the people.” How can anyone expect him to read on? I blame James Madison. The document should have started with "I."

In his speech Biden said that love is stronger than hate. He thought that would be a zinger against Trump. But look at foreign policy. Every president since the Korean conflict has treated the Kim family with disdain. It may not be a stretch to suggest that our presidents have hated the various Kim dictators. But let me tell you, Mr. Biden, Trump also knows about love. After all, he and Kim Jong Un have fallen in love with each other. Name another president would say so out loud—especially given the undertones of that expression. But Trump does not know fear and so he told the nation with clarity and conviction that he and Kim had fallen in love with each other. That’s how you build peace. Thank you, Mr. President.

So what if Kim continues to test ballistic missiles and build nuclear weapons? South Korea and Japan are not really our allies. They don’t love Trump. At least Kim knows the way into Trump’s heart. All you have to do is say nice things about him. It does not matter how dangerous, or evil, or out of touch you are with reality. All one needs to do is “like” Mr. Trump—a lesson learned well by the crazies of the QAnon conspiracy.

There are many more reasons to thank Mr. Trump than can be included in this piece. But it is essential to list one more. This has to do with the budget of the Secret Service. This agency of the United States Government enlists officers to protect the president. As the movie “Dave” notes, a secret service agent must be willing to take a bullet for the president. But this protection extends beyond a president’s term in office. They have life long protection. Many people have questioned why. Well, consider that once out of office a former president still possesses knowledge critical to the security of the United States, including methods of obtaining intelligence information. We cannot allow that to fall into the hands of a foreign enemy. Trump has eliminated the need for life long Secret Service protection and it did not require an act of congress or an executive order. He simply brought a new reality to bear.

When Trump leaves office he will possess no knowledge having to do with the United States Government. He will know nothing about the Constitution, nothing about foreign affairs, nothing about intelligence—his or the country’s. Therefore, when Trump leaves office he will continue to trim waste by saving the Secret Service a lot of money..

Thank you, Mr. President!

Ebola: Fear and Hysteria

Every virus, by virtue of its nature, is serious and must not be taken lightly. As many people are likely to recall, the eminent biologist and Nobel Laureate, Joshua Lederberg once wrote, “The single biggest threat to man’s continued dominance on the planet is the virus.”

Ebola is perhaps the most dangerous of today’s known viruses with a fatality rate of up to 80%. So it is understandable that the poorly informed, including many elected officials of both parties, are running around claiming “Ebola is coming! Ebola is coming! Close the borders! Institute a travel ban against West Africa. Quarantine, well…everyone!”

The news media, particularly those dedicate to a 24-hour cycle, are much to blame. In what can only be regarded as inhumanity and self-centeredness, more hours have been wasted and more time lost agonizing over a non-existent problem in the U.S. than over the loss of life and humanitarian crisis in Africa. If the media represents and reflects the people of this country, then Americans are more egocentric and ignorant than I thought. But…Ebola is coming!

What began as a legitimate fear quickly grew to panic then morphed into irrational hysteria. Yes, I know that’s redundant. All hysteria is irrational. But stop for a moment and consider the 80% death rate. In the affected countries it actually averages out to about 50% and it is highest in areas without sufficient care. But…Ebola is coming!

In the United States, a country with a population of over 316 million, as of today only two people have contracted the disease. As one comedian pointed out, that is exactly one half the number of people who have been married to Larry King. Again, only two have contracted the disease. And both of them have recovered and are now virus free. But…Ebola is coming!

Let’s contrast this virus with influenza. While for many reasons, no accurate average can be determined, over a thirty year period as few as 3,000 and as many as 40,000 Americans have died of the flu—in a single season. But…Ebola is coming!

However, Ebola is a very difficult disease to catch. In the language of the movies, it is not airborne. It is spread through immediate contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person—as, for example, vomit and diarrhea. Most of us avoid those at all cost unless we are tending to infants and sick children. But…Ebola is coming!
Or is it?

The virus is not roaming our neighborhoods like a genetically modified organism from a B-rated horror or science fiction movie. We are just as likely to be invaded by Sigourney Weaver’s aliens as we are to contract Ebola. So what can we learn from the current scare?

  1. There is no Ebola crisis in the United States. I hate to sound cynical, but those with the courage to be honest know that if there were such a crisis here, we would already have a vaccine. As it is, the crisis is in West Africa.
  2. Increased resources (financial and personnel) are needed in the affected countries to fight the disease. Note to the Pentagon: We might need some of your money for healing.
  3. Politicians should lead, not pander. They should stand by their principles. If John McCain despises appointing officials dubbed “czars”, then he should not have called for one to fight Ebola.
  4. The media should try reporting the news instead of making it up and playing to the ratings.
  5. Obama is America’s first Black. That means Ebola is his fault. He was not in Dallas when Tomas Duncan arrived from Liberia. He was not at Presbyterian Hospital when the two nurses contracted the disease after treating Mr. Duncan. Still, it’s Obama’s fault. Donald Trump and FOX News told me so.

Maybe America should be more afraid of Donald Trump and FOX News than Ebola. Donald and FOX are coming! Donald and FOX are coming!

The Secret

There is a well-guarded secret at the heart of the immigration crisis. But first...

For months now we have heard the plight of unaccompanied minor children, some as young as eight years old, crossing the southern border of the United States in search not so much of work as safety. They come from Central America, primarily from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Back home they face violence and almost certain death at the hands of gangs bolstered by illegal drug activity. Exaggeration? Consider…

In area, Honduras is slightly larger than the state of Virginia. With 7.6 million people, its population is smaller than Virginia’s 8.1 million. And yet, the murder rate in Honduras is the highest of any country in the world and the city of San Pedro Sula, in the Northwest corner of the country, has the highest murder rate of any city in the world.

Why the comparison? If 90 out of 100,000 people were being murdered in Virginia, something would be done. That reality would not be tolerated by either state or federal government, nor by the people of the United States. Ah! But Honduras is a foreign country. Not our problem. Except it really is.

To a great extent, the current situation in Honduras is a U.S.-made
problem. In the early part of the 20th century, U.S. fruit companies benefitted from massive land grants and tax exemptions, guaranteeing a permanent underclass of poverty. Later, America’s feigned obsession with communism fueled the crisis. I use the word “feigned” because the possibility of Communism in Central America was never a threat to the United States. It was not even Reagan’s concern. It was mere subterfuge. Consider Cuba.

When Fidel Castro overthrew Fulgencio Batista, the revolution and subsequent government control were not at issue. Nor were they the cause of the embargo. The United States objected because the Castro government seized the land of U.S. tobacco farmers without compensation. Reagan was not about to let that be repeated in Central America. The U.S. concern throughout the region has always been about money—money for U.S. corporate interest.

Successive administrations, both Democrat and Republican, have continue the trade embargo against Cuba, to the point of telling companies in other countries that they cannot do business in Cuba without suffering U.S. retaliation.

Reagan used Honduras as the base of operations for his illegal war against the democratically elected governments in Nicaragua and El Salvador. The Obama administration could have been more forceful in denouncing the military coup d’état that removed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya from office. After all, The United Nations, the Organization of American States and the European Union all condemned the coup. Obama was pressured by the Republican minority to condition his opposition. Could this be because the Honduran Supreme Court issued a secret arrest warrant against President Zelaya? Sounds like the secret FISA court warrants in the United States.

Now the secret: What happened in Central America is occurring right here in the United States, and it has nothing to do with immigrants, legal or illegal.

The same forces that guaranteed poverty in Central America are doing it here. The labors of the poor and working class have allowed a tiny few to become obscenely rich. The gap between the rich and poor has reached historic proportions. Money is always power, and so the influence of the wealthy over government policies and social life is greater than ever and it is guaranteeing a permanent underclass here in the United States of America.

Forget the humanitarian, moral and religious reasons for not sending children back to Central America to face death. Forget the fact that U.S. law guarantees them the right to make a case for refugee status. Forget the fact that they are only children. I say let them pass. Welcome them with open arms. In a few years, the United States will be just like Honduras. In a few years they’ll be right at home.

When Politcs Trumps Religion

People hold fast to many different sets of values, perhaps none more tenaciously than those of religion. That is one reason the First Amendment is first—it cements religious freedom in American life and politics.

I have explained in previous writings why Mormons are not Christian. I have also demonstrated that when it comes to elected office, it does not matter. The freedoms in the First Amendment are not just for Christians. All people are guaranteed the right to worship and believe as they choose. Even the freedom not to believe.

Of course the First Amendment cannot guarantee authenticity. Sadly, many religious people in modern America are misinformed, the values to which they cling are false, their subsequent choices counterfeit.

For example, the claim that Barack Obama is a Muslim, simply is not true, and no repetition can make it so. Obama was born and raised Christian. He lived for a period of time in Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim country. But he is today, as he has been all his life a Christian. That is fact. Still, there are fundamentalist Christians on the far right who will not vote for him because they errantly think he is a Muslim. And they will not vote for a non-Christian.

On the other hand, they do not apply the same principle (one which I reject) to Governor Romney. Romney is Mormon. That also is a fact. But since Mormons are not Christians, how can the far right vote for him?

I firmly believe that a person’s faith is not a measure of whether he or she is fit to be president. But for those poor, misguided souls who do think that way, Romney is not a viable candidate. Certainly not a viable alternative to Obama. This raises a deeper question. What is really going on here? Could it be that Obama is African-American and their minds are so small that they cannot tolerate a black man in the White House?

From before Obama took his oath of office, some leaders in the Republican Party decided that their primary goal would be to deny him a second term. As a result, they shouted a petrifying silence when Trump and other buffoons questioned if Obama was born in America. Equally deafening was their condemnation of those who claimed Obama was a Muslim. Two indisputable facts. And yet, these same leaders do not address the fact of Romney not being a Christian.

If far right Christians are to be faithful to their beliefs, they cannot vote for either candidate. That would, of course, be a loss to the democratic process. Then again, if people are ignorant enough to think that Obama was not born in the United States, or to believe that he is a Muslim; if they are ignorant of their own Christian theology and do not understand why Romney is not a Christian; if they do not realize that a person’s faith should not be a criterion for holding office; if they are mired in the mud of racism, then just maybe these people not voting, is not a loss to democracy after all.