Impeach A Liar 3/22/17

Job-killing Lyin’ King president  – by Tom H. Hastings

Impeach.

Tom Hastings

Trump’s budget is out, his Trumpcare bill is introduced, and between them they are astonishingly stupid and promise-breaking. Featured are just a small sample of these job-killing aspects:

· The American Healthcare Act (Trumpcare), if enacted, will eliminate 23,000 jobs just in my state, Oregon. The national implications are horrific, in job loss and in healthcare loss—as well as sharp increases in premiums for at least the next two years—for example, senior citizens in Alaska may see a rise in annual healthcare insurance premiums of more than $14,000. I wonder if they are still thrilled about giving their electoral college votes to Trump?

· The Trump budget, if passed, would cut enormous numbers of civil service jobs, including scores of thousands by the elimination of 19 federal agencies and slashing the budgets for many others.

· Increasing the Pentagon budget will create fewer jobs per $billion spent than in any other sector of the economy. Each $billion that goes to DoD is job loss for even more Americans.

Between the two Trump proposals, several key promises that he made to help convince gullible Americans to vote for him will be broken:

· The Congressional Budget Office predicts that under Trumpcare 24 million Americans will lose health insurance, contrary to Trump’s unbelievable promise that everyone will be able to get health insurance. He lied.

· “I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid,” Trump said as he campaigned making glib promises to everybody. The Trumpcare proposal cuts Medicaid. He lied.

Trump will completely eliminate these agencies, getting rid of some of the most forward-thinking US federal programs: The African Development Foundation; the Appalachian Regional Commission; the Chemical Safety Board; the Corporation for National and Community Service; the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; the Delta Regional Authority; the Denali Commission; the Institute of Museum and Library Services; the Inter-American Foundation; the U.S. Trade and Development Agency; the Legal Services Corporation; the National Endowment for the Arts; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation; the Northern Border Regional Commission; the Overseas Private Investment Corporation; the United States Institute of Peace; the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness; and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

But Trumpcare4rich will be the actual result of his collection of proposals, featuring:

· $900 billion in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

Impeach.

Tom H. Hastings is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.

Find the Adults 3/8/17

Find the adults and get them in the room – by Tom H. Hastings

Tom Hastings

Trump attacks others, from the Pope to Gold Star families, on a routine basis, often based on no evidence, exaggerated claims, and he claims trends based on cherry-picked cases that are in fact anomalous. Some of his attacks flow from his hypocritical assumption that he, a rich boy who inherited a fortune, gets to have pretty much everything. If he can’t earn it honestly, he uses dishonesty because, in his mind, the ends justify the means. Other times he just needs to redirect our attention.

I keep wondering when the adult supervision will appear. Congress is dominated by the lesser versions of the hyper-entitled Trump, with a few fine members like Barbara Lee, John Lewis, Earl Blumenauer, and Cory Booker in the minority. Turns out the only real powerful check on the abuse doled out daily by Trump is you. You and your friends. You, your friends, and me. Civil society.

We are the last hope because we failed to be the first hope. We did not pay close enough attention to the endless obligatory need to self-educate, to help our communities learn what they need to know, to empower each other from the bottom-up, and to keep the “deciders” from making poor decisions. We tend to think in terms of outsourcing—it’s our logical hope, after all, that since we are good people who pay attention to the details that make our businesses and service institutions work well for people, that we should be able to count on those we hire by our votes.

Turns out we cannot count on them. We will either ramp up our civil society ongoing involvement in monitoring our elected officials or we will continue down this descending spiral toward autocracy, hate, violence, and revenge. It will cost us everything, literally.

Congress is a den of thieves. We see rich white men serving each other’s agendas far too often, with only a slight bit of meaningful oversight from civil society.

Now comes a President Spoiled Brat. He is not a self-made person; at least one study showed that if Trump had simply invested his inheritance in a decent mutual fund he would have several $billion more than he currently has in his net worth. Even amongst that class of people born on third base who thinks they hit a triple he is scornworthy. When anyone is outclassed by George W. Bush it says volumes, and Trump is.

How can we fix this? I’m hoping we can start impeaching and not stop until we get to someone worthy of the job. Get Trump testifying to the Senate, to joint committees, to special prosecutors—I guarantee he will lie and can then be impeached. But beyond that, we really need to do much more collaborative thinking, dialog, and action from the grassroots to reconcile, to serve everyone’s need and no one’s greed, and to take far more responsibility than a simple ballot every election cycle. If democracy isn’t participatory it isn’t decent democracy.

Tom H. Hastings is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.

Brave Federal Workers 2/1/17

Tom Hastings

Lurching backward   – by Tom H. Hastings

We are now officially in a New Age of Chaos, created by Donald Trump and his close advisors. Who ever thought that we would have a president who makes John McCain look moderate? Well, we do.

One wonders how long values held dear to Americans can last in the face of the Trump-brand Constitution Shredder™? Free speech, fair speech, accurate speech—all are being banned at various levels of government—but some brave federal workers with integrity are not backing down.

And now Trump has blocked immigrants—even those who have already been vetted for several years by up to eight US agencies and approved for immigration at long last—from seven Muslim nations that he said are hotbeds of terrorists. Never mind that conspicuously missing from that list is the nation that supplied the overwhelming majority of the 9.11.01 hijackers who flew into the twin towers in New York and the Pentagon, and that country would be Saudi Arabia, of course. Indeed, of the 19 attackers, 15 were Saudis, two were from the United Arab Emirates, one from Egypt, and one from Lebanon—and none of those countries made Trump’s list. No other immigrant has attacked civilians on American soil except the Pakistani-born wife of the San Bernardino shooting—and that country is not on Trump’s list either (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen—none of which have sent refugees, asylees, or immigrants that have committed acts of terror in the US).

It is clear that Trump and his people despise the nonpartisan, fact-checking media (along with many other sorts of truth-telling, evidence-based professionals). But I have no immediate recollection of the papers of record flat-out naming what the Trump team claims as “alternative facts” are in fact falsehoods (noting gross inaccuracies) or even lies (noting clear intent to deceive). Punishing the National Park Service for showing photos of Trump’s inauguration and Obama’s inauguration—photos revealing far more in attendance for Obama’s first inauguration—is beyond belief.

Believe it.

We are now under the thumb of a man who is increasingly being called mentally ill, a “malignant narcissist.” His power to commit all manner of mischief is now enormous. The people of the US will need to engage more than any time in the memory of this senior citizen if we hope to hold on to our democracy and the progress we’ve achieved in the most recent 80 years. It’s all up for grabs, right now.

Tom H. Hastings is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.

Cease Speculation & Rise Up 1/25/17

Tom Hastings

January 20, 2017, a day that will live in ignominy  –         by Tom H. Hastings

Donald J. Trump has been inaugurated as the 45th President of the US. If you are a xenophobic isolationist nationalist, this is such great news. If you want climate chaos to worsen—more rising seas, more massive forest fires, more hideous hurricanes, more drought—this is the perfect storm for you.

On the other hand, if you hope for more progress toward getting along with the rest of humankind, if you want stricter laws and rules to protect our fresh water, if you strive in your life to slow the onslaught of climate chaos, well, sorry. Your nightmare has arrived.

It is hard to imagine a more seriously hypocritical “leader” than Donald Trump:

· While Trump rightly accused Hillary Clinton of having too much cozy contact with Wall Street financiers, he is not only a predatory capitalist himself, but has now handpicked several more to join his cabinet.

· Even though Trump claims he is upending the Washington elite in order to bring manufacturing and sawmill and mining and oil drilling and coal-burning jobs back to America’s heartland in order to make America great again, he says nary a word about job loss through automation (including many of the Carrier jobs he pretends to have saved), nothing about losing jobs to foreign manufacturers who produce far more efficient vehicles than Detroit ever did, nothing about ruining the last bit of ancient forests of America, and nothing about increased disease and pollution from the dirty jobs he promises to bring back.

· Trump claims he is going to create “great schools” and yet he proposed billionaire Betsy DeVos as his Secretary of Education, a woman with effectively zero experience in public education (her hearing was nothing short of embarrassing) except to oppose it and instead has been an activist for using taxpayer monies for private Christian schools.

· In his address, Trump claims that, “We’ve defended other nation’s borders while refusing to defend our own.” Huh? Apparently, I’ve missed hearing about all those foreign invading troops, all the missiles that have struck American towns, and all the foreign terrorists that have attacked us since 9.11.01. I would suspect the Republicans—who have been in control of the Senate and House—not to mention the Pentagon, are happy to know that finally all those attacks will stop.

· While Trump claims to care about the American people, he will likely sign the law eliminating Obamacare long before signing a better health care law into existence, thus throwing approximately 30 million Americans to the ravages of no health care.

There is so much more, but we can soon cease speculating and rise up to respond to his initiatives. I am wearing a t shirt today I haven’t worn in eight years. It has one word on it: Impeach.

Tom H. Hastings is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.

New Era – New Stories 1/11/17

New stories for a new era

Review: Sun, Rivera (2016). The way between. El Prado, NM: Rising Sun Press Works.

This novel should be read aloud to everyone, by everyone, from childhood onward. It is an auspicious beginning to a new mythology of peace, of justice, of inclusion, of conversion and transformation. Rivera Sun’s care for the unobtrusive embedding of the theories of change, of the principles of conflict transformation, and the way of the human heart all conspire to allow for a tale that will inspire. It is ancient and magical and legendary. It flips the glory of big men waging war into the valorization of “powerless” ‘tween girls waging peace, the sacralization of bloody combat into the lionization of nonviolent heart and mind power. It does so credibly, which is the stumbling block to most fiction writers trying to achieve what Rivera Sun actually does manage to do here.

If the reader were told at the outset that an 11-year-old girl would defeat the mightiest warrior of the nation without inflicting any pain or harm—this is in a medieval time of swords and teapots, warriors and monasteries—you would not continue reading. But by the time it happens, you have been prepared by Sun’s artful storytelling to accept—even expect and demand—just that outcome. Like any good plotmaster, Sun describes many setbacks, much potential, lots of inner conflicting emotions, but it’s all undergirded by the unflinching idealism of youth. The girl is mixed ethnicity and raised by a third people, thus bearing the strengths—and some of the challenges—of all three peoples, all of whom have been either in conflict or avoiding one another.

What is so poignant is that the girl is not accepted too much by any group—the forest people raise her but she is not one of them and cannot follow them to their wintering place, the village boys torment her, the monastery warriors-in-training taunt her and even beat her in her early training phases—but her idealism and her potential push her toward her own special destiny. The girl is the underdog at every turn but we learn to expect her to rise to meet all challenges. Her flash of serendipitous and even accidental brilliance convinces a great warrior to take her as apprentice and he teaches her the ancient, all-but-forgotten, Way Between—neither the violence of the warrior nor the avoidance of the coward.

No, there is no didactic artifice to teach us the particulars of principled negotiation, CLARA de-escalation, peer mediation, Sharpian or Kingian strategic civil resistance or any other of the researched competencies in the field of Peace and Conflict Studies, even though Sun is in her professional life profoundly knowledgeable of all this. Rather, Rivera Sun writes in a style as magical as Tolkien and as authentic as Twain. The reader is not once bludgeoned with the zealot’s pontificating but rather is drawn to love the characters and the conclusions.

This book, along with her instant classic The Dandelion Insurrection will be on the reading list next time I teach Peace Novels, my favorite summer class.

Sun’s appendices carry all the theoretical, competency-based, and practical teachings that she wove invisibly into her tale. She helps the reader achieve the education necessary to reify her yarn and it makes it an invitational, educational, volume. Required reading for those wishing to be the countervailing message and meaning as we head into the Age of the Avenging Autocrat. Read it soon. We need you to pass it along.

Reviewer: Tom H. Hastings

Also  Books by Rivera Sun and  http://www.riverasun.com

Job Creators Like This 12/21/16

Tom Hastings

TrumPutin: jobs, security, and buyer’s remorse –              by Tom H. Hastings

Donald Trump is bringing jobs back!

Well, OK, he is saving jobs!

Um, well, he only lost 1,200 jobs, when 2,000 were threatened.

So much better than Obama!

Well, OK, under that loser Obama, we added about180,000 jobs every month despite his inheriting a Bush/Cheney economy that was losing–yes losing–jobs every month. That tyrant Barack Obama oversaw the imposition of regulations that helped make our air more breathable, our water more drinkable, and our food healthier. Oppressive!

So Carrier is only sending 1200 jobs to Mexico, thanks to a multi-million-dollar bribe from the state of Indiana, Trump’s vice-president’s state. Nice, Mr. Pence. You only lost 1200 jobs and you can credit Donald Trump.

With job creators like this, who needs losers?

At least with the latest round of cabinet picks, we can be certain that we will see creation of many more jobs–in Russia, with Tillerson running State Department. Which State Department does Trump think Tyrannosaurus Rex leading–perhaps the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs?

The old 60s action program Man from UNCLE seemed to foresee the TrumPutin CHAOS team. We will see climate chaos increase, public education funding plummet, job markets flip and crash–Obama inherited a worsening 7.6 percent unemployment rate and is handing off an improving 4.6 percent rate. The only good-paying jobs Trump ever created were the lawyers fighting to stop him from reneging, cheating, and scamming.

If we thought Brits experienced buyers’ remorse after voting Brexit, just wait until the Trump voters wake up to bad air, poison food, forest fires, floods, hurricanes, and the giant sucking sound of their jobs leaving for Russia.

The Trump cabinet is defining itself as a military junta with predatory extractive capitalist cronies and climate change deniers a sort of General Goldman Sachs composite. This spells disaster for the very Americans who voted for Trump (who lost the popular vote by more than any electoral college winner in US history, and whose opponent, got more actual votes than any candidate for US president in US history–Donald! A mandate is more than you embracing Vlad!) The descent is underway.

Dr. Tom H. Hastings is PeaceVoice Director.

Earn Our Stripes 11/16/16

Tom Hastings

Tom Hastings

No  –  by Tom H. Hastings

Is Donald Trump a Hitler nouveau? Probably not.

Still, in this time of preparing a switch from mild, articulate, scandal-free Obama to Wall Them Out Shut Them Out Kick Them Out Trump, it might be worth a historical review of German Martin Niemöller (1892–1984), a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps. His postwar sermons feature various versions of this:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Donald Trump has doubled down now on his anti-illegal-Mexican intent. He announced that he will be deporting millions of “criminal” Mexicans first thing. Of course if a Mexican, in flight from a drug cartel war more deadly than most wars on Earth, crosses our border she has broken our law and would be regarded by some, possibly our next President, as therefore a criminal to deport back into poverty and violence. Only another scofflaw would help her.

I suppose this makes me a scofflaw. I hope there are many of us.

If a family in desperate flight from Aleppo manages to make it to our shores, apparently our President-elect Trump plans to turn them away, very likely to their deaths. Only someone who fetishizes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or possibly the Sermon on the Mount might risk offering that Syrian family shelter or help with safe passage to somewhere more welcoming.

I hope there are many such fetishizing folks.

The thing is, dear friends, democracy has its limits; it is not two cats and a mouse voting on what’s for lunch. Substituting the tyranny of the numerical majority over the most vulnerable minorities is in truth no longer a democracy and we are skating dangerously close to that abyss. If Trump plans to violate human rights, and he announces it, and the vast majority of Americans vote him in, that is not license to violate those rights.

Of course it was actually a large minority of Americans who voted for Trump and the majority voted for Hillary Clinton, but I don’t want to split hairs. My point is that it is now up to each of us as individuals to confront any overt violations of basic human rights, civil rights, and Plain Decency.

I am not calling Donald Trump a dictator, but I do worry about him leading a nation into that tyranny of the majority that produced all the greatest crimes we and other nations have committed, from theft of native land to slavery to death camps under Nazis to genocide in Rwanda and more. To update Niemöller, If you see something, say something.

Or don’t. The Underground Railroad led by Harriet Tubman and others was action, not words. The Danes hiding and then helping virtually all Danish Jews to escape to Sweden, the brave farmers and villagers of Vichy France who hid 5,000 French Jews in and around Le Chambon for the entire Nazi occupation, and many other instances of the relatively privileged or safe helping the oppressed, suffering, and in danger—all these courageous movements were silent but took action.

What will happen when Trump takes office? It’s scary to many. I hope we can all ponder and prepare. As my old friend Louie says, “Now we’ll earn our stripes.”

Tom H. Hastings is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.

Admit my Vote 11/9/16

Tom Hastings

Tom Hastings

Cop Killers and Trump  – by Tom H. Hastings

When you hear that a police officer was ambushed and shot to death, what is your first image? For many Americans, it’s an angry black man who seeks revenge for police shooting black men. And that has certainly happened.

But imagine my surprise when I read about the Des Moines, Iowa case of a man shooting two police officers in two ambush attacks, read that the alleged shooter had been in contact with police in the past while waving a Confederate battle flag at black people, and had been calling at least one black man the n-word, and then when I later listened to National Public Radio they reported this new Iowa case as part of a wave of police shootings in retaliation for police violence against black males. Really, NPR? Is that the best imitation of Fox News you can do?

In the end, I believe that most psychologists would agree that cop killers are suffering from mental illness first and most primarily, with other motives a distant second. Yes, police kill unarmed black people at a far higher rate (not raw numbers, but as a percentage of the population). Yes, police will try (in most cases) to intervene on boisterous racially offensive behavior and thus may be the target of white men who wish to freely use racial epithets and symbols of slaveholders. So the cursory motives are understandable intellectually, but seriously, the blatant insanity of randomly shooting police officers? Why isn’t that proclaimed first and foremost as the controlling engine to those heinous acts? None of the attacks in the past year were targeted at the cops who actually did the things that produced the nominal reason for the murders. Shooting a target of opportunity without specifically choosing the actual perpetrating officer is not remotely sane.

When will we take gun control seriously? If for no other reason than to stop so many cop killings, we should elect officials who will get this job done. The blundering police unions endorsing Donald Trump are acting on emotional affinity with a man who says he supports police, but Trump’s unreserved support for no limits on firearms for anyone will only result in more unstable people gaining access to all the guns they can afford. More cops will die.

The import of this election is tough to overstate. Trump will exacerbate all the worst developments—fewer resources to assist folks who struggle with mental health issues, fewer controls on access to weaponry by anyone, no help from a Trump Department of Justice in improving police-community relations. This will lead to more tragedies like the one we saw in Iowa. I admit I strongly disliked voting for Hillary Clinton, but a Trump presidency is many giant leaps backward. Let’s prevent this.

Tom H. Hastings is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.

Heading to the Bottom 11/2/16

Tom Hastings

Tom Hastings

Supremes, the Senate and the Dirty Donalds, Segretti to Trump

By Tom H. Hasting

OK, the Republicans said when Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away late last winter, we are not going to do our Constitutional work reviewing any nominations President Obama might make because we think the American people should have a voice in choosing the members of the highest court in the land.

Huh? The American people elected and re-elected Barak Obama. That is called having a voice. That is called voting. That is a democracy. What the Republicans did was entirely bogus, but, as usual, the American people didn’t seem to excited about it, so the Republicans were able to get away with that blatantly unfair move.

Now, unbelievably, Ted Cruz has threatened to block any nomination on an indefinite basis, if in fact Trump is unsuccessful in his groping campaign for the presidency.

This now disqualifies all Senate Republicans. Every single one of them up for election or re-election should be defeated to clear the way for government to actually function again.

Trump says he’ll only accept the election results if he wins.

Ted Cruz says if needed, the GOP will abdicate its Constitutional role in affirming Supreme Court Justices, based on likely losing the White House.

Republicans are simply racing to the bottom and are displaying all the moral fiber of the average junior high bully, completely unable to accept any defeat without having an adolescent hissy fit. Grow up, people!

Since that seems to be the phenomenon we see, it is clear that no Republican should be voted in this year, at least in the Senate and obviously the White House. In my 66 years on this planet, I’ve never seen a US campaign season so despicable, uncivil, boorish, and infantile. Add to it all the Comey move—the FBI tampering with the election? It is the Donald Segretti School of Political Chicanery arcing forward to the Donald Trump Malevolent Machine. These people can’t win a fair fight, so they resort to their bottomless barrel of dirty tricks; we are called to teach them better.

For the good of the nation, defeat every Republican running for US Senate in 2016, so we have some chance for a bit of normalcy and progress in the US.

Tom H. Hastings is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.

Love of His Life 10/19/16

Tom H. Hastings

Tom H. Hastings

Negative coattails good for Senate  – by Tom H. Hastings

Donald Trump is in love.

Like any narcissist, he sees his heart’s desire in the mirror and is pathologically incapable of transferring that love of self to others, except to love what they can do for him—financially, sexually, politically, or simply helping him be in the spotlight.

For Trump, everything is a contest and he is the best at every one. If he doesn’t win, others obviously cheated or his helpers failed him. He has made exactly zero mistakes in his life that weren’t caused by others, as he sees it.

It has all caught up with him at last, and the Trump circus tent is collapsing. Republican candidates for the US Senate are scrambling to escape the suffocating mess. Some renounce their endorsements, some express regretful continuation of support for the Trumpwreck, and some avert their eyes, curl up, and just hope to survive the election.

But imagine a US Senate out from under the blockading, bludgeoning control of the Republicans. I’m not suggesting the Democrats are particularly good for those who want peace and justice, but they are lightyears better than the likes of Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ron Johnson, Rob Portman, Jeff Sessions, Tom Cotton, Lindsey Graham, John McCain and the rest of the corporate-loving, New Jim Crow, anti-education, war-profiteer-champions who have been running the Senate for the past two years. The Republicans running for Senate—mostly incumbents—who are most vulnerable include Johnson (WI), McCain (AZ), Portman (OH), Roy Blunt (MO), Richard Burr (NC), Pat Toomey (PA) and Kelly Ayotte (NH). Congressman Joe Heck (NV) is running for the seat being vacated by retiring Harry Reid and Congressman Todd Young is running for the seat vacated by retiring Dan Coats (IN). All these Republicans are threatened by Trump’s tailspin. My operative word, I confess, is schadenfreude today.

Like any true narcissist, Trump is certain that everyone else is at fault for his poor performance and the only response is to attack, excuse, justify, blame, and lash out some more. If his dysfunctional displays cost both the White House and the Senate, we may see a decent US Supreme Court in the future and that could mean overturning Citizens United and other rotten, anti-democracy decisions. We might see the US join the rest of the world in signing and ratifying the International Criminal Court, the Comprehensive Test Ban and other international laws and treaties benefitting all of humankind. We might even see some glimmer of peace in our time as well as development of US infrastructure instead of the vast war machine that consumes half your tax dollars every year.

The Senate needs to flip for the good of all Americans. Thank you, Donald Trump, for your key role in all this. Carry on with your bellowing, blaming Tweetment!

Tom H. Hastings is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.

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