Thinking of FDR

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President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. FDR Memorial, Washington, D.C.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. FDR Memorial, Washington, D.C.

BY JULIE SEYLER

With Trump’s choices of ex-investment banker/hedge fund billionaire Stephen Mnuchin to head up Treasury, and the King of Bankruptcy Wilbur Ross to head up Commerce, and self-declared crusader of ACA repeal Tom Price to head up Health and Human Services I thought it was a good time to remember what FDR said as President of the United States:

FDR Memorial, Washington, D.C.

FDR Memorial, Washington, D.C.

Aboard a Rudderless Ship

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BY JULIE SEYLER

The prospect of the Trump presidency has me in knots. He is so quixotic and chaotic in the way he speaks and the topics he speaks on that it can only be characterized as that kind of behavior that can make one crazy. Trump’s recent on-again/off-again sit-down (can’t really call it an “interview“) with The New York Times speaks volumes as to the single issue that he truly cares about most: himself.

Whether he’s bragging:

So we won that by a lot of votes and, you know, we had a great victory. We had a great victory.

or observing:

I’ve never had a person boo me, and all of a sudden people are booing me. She [Melania] said, that’s never happened before…So it’s something that I had never experienced before and I said, ‘Those people are booing,’ and she said, ‘Yup.’ They’d never booed before. But now they boo.

or whining:

I think I’ve been treated very rough. It’s well out there that I’ve been treated extremely unfairly in a sense, in a true sense.

he’s always contemplating his own belly-button.

I would find it embarrassing if a 10-year old was saying these things to me, but hearing it from the future President makes me think I have boarded a rudderless ship and we are heading straight into a glacier. There are some pundits of journalism who have adopted a “wait-and-see”, “give him the benefit of the doubt” attitude. The problem with that approach is that it focuses on Trump’s words, not his actions. He is masterful at channeling the energy in the room and refracting it back. There is a disconnect from the weight and responsibility of governing a country.

His actions have informed us that he will fulfill the agenda of the alt right and throw lots of meaty bones to the corporate elite (the Kochs), the ruling white (Jeff Sessions), the fascist right (Rudy Guiliani).

[WHAT TRUMP SAID]:

During the Presidential primaries, Donald Trump mocked his Republican rivals as “puppets” for flocking to a secretive fund-raising session sponsored by Charles and David Koch, the billionaire co-owners of the energy conglomerate Koch Industries.

[WHAT TRUMP DID]:

But on Tuesday night David Koch was reportedly among the revellers at Trump’s victory party in a Hilton Hotel in New York.

WHAT TRUMP SAID:

I am going to re-institute a 5-year ban on all executive branch officials lobbying the government for 5 years after they leave government service. I am going to ask Congress to pass this ban into law so that it cannot be lifted by executive order.

Which is absolutely hollow when his entire administration is filled with lobbyists from private industry with a vested interest in ensuring government doesn’t interfere with its former employers’ enterprises. Check out some of his choices.

WHO TRUMP PICKED:

Marc Short, who until recently ran Freedom Partners, the Kochs’ political-donors group, would serve as a “senior adviser.”…

For policy and personnel advice regarding the Department of Energy, Trump is relying on Michael McKenna, the president of the lobbying firm MWR Strategies. McKenna’s clients include Koch Companies Public Sector, a division of Koch Industries.

Michael Catanzaro, a partner at the lobbying firm CGCN Group, is the head of Trump’s energy transition team, and has been mentioned as a possible energy czar. Among his clients are Koch Industries and Devon Energy Corporation, a gas-and-oil company that has made a fortune from vertical drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

Another widely discussed candidate is Harold Hamm, the billionaire founder of the shale-oil company Continental Resources, who is a major contributor to the Kochs’ fund-raising network.

WHAT TRUMP SAID:

But it’s not a group I want to energize, and if they are energized I want to look into it and find out why.

WHAT TRUMP DID:

Nothing.
Nothing when Richard Spencer, the president of the National Policy Institute, called out “Hail Trump! Hail our people!” and then, “Hail victory!” and proclaimed “I think, moving forward, the alt-right can, as an intellectual vanguard, complete Trump,”.
And don’t tell me that his disavowal at the Times interview counts for anything. He was chided into that and it was a weakling’s mewling words.

It is not to Trump’s political advantage to disown his racist supporters. They energize him. They give him the rah rahs he is so desperate for. Mildly put, this is worrisome. In reality it feels like a horror show because Trump will continue to fulfill his destiny as a man desperate for attention and adoration and as long as his current handlers, advisors and counselors are in situ, they will have their vision of a tax-cutted/regulation free platform economy churning out the bennies for the elites, including the Trump franchise which takes front and center stage. He’ll allow himself to be reined in when it works to his advantage and he’ll let loose like a cannonball when he and his phone are hanging out all alone. Nothing is going to change. He’ll be playing the American public for the next 4 years because he is a master of the bait and switch. The question is what will be the cost when we awake from the nightmare.

Happy Thanksgiving

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BY LOIS DESOCIO

It took two recent encounters while wearing my $12.99, big, grasshopper-green, plastic peace-sign earrings (embedded with sparkly glass chips) for me to recognize their value.

I bought them years ago and have only worn them once. It was a Halloween party. I went as me — but with big, grasshopper-green, plastic peace-sign earrings (embedded with sparkly glass chips).

This past Tuesday, two days before Thanksgiving, I wore them to Stop and Shop for my holiday shopping. I was feeling that heightened swell of warmth that always hits me when Thanksgiving becomes the reason I am in the supermarket. That fellowship with everyone else who is there at the same time. That sense of communal preparation. Who cares that your cart is blocking the aisle! Sure, you can have that last package of Pepperidge Farm breadcrumbs! Here, cut in line! It’s Thanksgiving!

But this year I expected to feel the bleakness that the election has draped over conversations, social media, the streets, dinner tables. I was prepared for a sense of discord in the aisles; polarization in frozen foods; lost souls in checkout. So I went out adorned with ear-to-ear whimsy. I will not partake. It’s Thanksgiving.

An older couple approached me in the parking lot as I was closing my trunk after packing it with groceries. They asked for, and I handed over, my shopping cart. They smiled simultaneously and both said “Thank you.” The woman said, “I love your earrings.”

“We need to help each other as much as we can,” I said. I rubbed the woman’s arm. She nodded. We simultaneously chuckled reassuringly. It’s Thanksgiving.

Hours later, while walking my dog on my street, a young woman jogging by proclaimed to my earrings with a fist in the air, “Peace be with you!”
It really is Thanksgiving.

So today I will bring my whimsy to the Thanksgiving table. I’m planning to wear my earrings all day. I feel grateful. I will give my mom, who is suffering from severe dementia, a tighter hug.

And by taking note of all the things that she can no longer do — go to the Stop and Shop. Connect with a total stranger or three on the street. Walk the dog. Vote. Make stuffing. Feel grateful. Put on big, grasshopper-green, plastic peace-sign earrings (embedded with sparkly glass chips) — I will be reminded of how easily and unexpectedly it can all be taken away.

Happy Thanksgiving. Peace.

Still in Mourning

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BY JULIE SEYLER

Since Donald Trump was deemed to be the president-elect on November 9, nothing has felt normal. I wore black to work on Wednesday morning and thought the Empire State Building should be shrouded in black. The only place that felt safe was work. Trademarks are neutral.

I got into bed that night and cried. A delayed reaction to the horror show I knew we’d face with Trump as president and the profound sadness at Hillary’s loss, and what it would mean to so many basic tenets that make the U.S. one of the best places to live in the world. Tenets like separation of church and state and due-process under the law. Shattered by — the reasons are too numerous — but the result is disaster.

I cried for everyone that wasn’t white. As my friend A said that if you’re a person of color you no longer have the luxury of feeling safe and secure with a proud racist as the president’s chief advisor. Trump’s choice is the equivalent of a kick in the face to every American. Trump basically said “Screw the 14th Amendment” and guaranteed equal protection under the law.

As A said, “I fear for me, my family and especially my nephew.”

I cried for women because the future president is committed to appointing judges that will opine that an individual has no right to make a choice with respect to their body.

If men bore children, and there was a law that said birth was the only option, better believe the right to choose would be guaranteed. I can’t imagine this righteous right-to- life movement forcing a man who is just about to start college to give it up or to force a man who barely has enough money to pay his rent and eat to have a baby. And yet the electoral college lop is sucking back to the time of illegal abortions. Wacko!

I cried for the 20,000,000 people who will wake up with no insurance.

I cried that 60+ million Americans voted for an ignoramus. Unqualified, duplicitous, sleazy, verbally ugly. The list goes on and on.

It is now a week on and nothing has changed. In fact it’s only gotten worse.

A Trump Card: Stephen K Bannon

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BY JULIE SEYLER

What Breitbart News and Steve Bannon, Trump’s carefully considered selection for Senior Counsel, stands for is old news. As Michael Grynbaum and John Herrman of The New York Times wrote in Monday’s print edition: Breitbart has been denounced as misogynist, racist and xenophobic, and it served as a clearinghouse for attacks on Mr. Trump’s adversaries, spreading unsubstantiated rumors about Hillary Clinton’s health and undermining its own reporter, Michelle Fields, after she accused Corey Lewandowski, then Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, of assaulting her.

What puzzles me is why someone who plans to run the country and promises to “unite” us (as hollow as that sounds) would pick a counselor who espouses misogyny, racism, and xenophobia and equally worse has absolutely NO experience. Bad judgment; bizarre; frightening are mild words to describe my reaction and concern.

Those within the Trump team extol Bannon’s resume (Harvard) but just like comedian Samantha Bee said on her program “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” last night — Ben Carson has proven that being a brain surgeon doesn’t mean you’re intelligent. But wait! He was also a Naval Officer. Now that job really qualifies you to be a counselor on issues related to the military, foreign policy, the economy, immigration, Congress. Etc., etc., etc.

But qualifications are immaterial to this particular internet publication because as Alexander Marlow, Breitbart’s editor-in-chief, stated in the Grynbaum and Herrman article:

“If Trump runs his administration and honors the voters who voted him in, we’re all good,” Mr. Marlow added. “But if he is going to turn his back on those values and principles that drove his voters to the polls, we’re going to be highly critical. We’re not going to think twice about it.”

I do not consider Breitbart a conveyor of factual news. I see it as a troll for a political philosophy of anti-The Other. That its spokesman has such immediate access to the president-elect concerns and frightens me and should concern and frighten us all.