This guy should be sitting at the children’s table

Herewith, my latest missive to the local paper (LNP) concerning the child-president’s foolishness:

I think we owe a heartfelt apology to our dedicated social studies teachers, past and present. They taught us the importance of the U.S. Constitution—the foundation of our laws and rights as citizens—only to see us elect a president who has no respect for laws or rights. Last Monday, sounding like a bratty, eight year old, President Trump again lashed out at special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation of his 2016 presidential campaign. After repeatedly condemning the probe, Trump now claims he can’t be touched, no matter what Mueller finds. “I have the absolute right to PARDON myself,” the President tweeted, adding, “But why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?” He said he would nonetheless humor investigators and “play the game.” You could imagine him, thumbs in his ears, hands flapping alongside his head, sticking out his tongue as he jeered, “Nah, nah, nah, nah nah.” This is most definitely not a game. And, methinks, he doth protest too much. Notre Dame law professor Jimmy Gurulé agrees: “Only if President Trump believes that he may be guilty of a crime would he be interested in pardoning himself. This is not the behavior of an innocent man.” President Reagan’s daughter, Patty, recently said her father would be “heartbroken” that Congress [including our congressman, Lloyd Smucker] won’t stand up to this president’s destructive behavior. For the sake of the nation, its citizens, and, of course, our hardworking social studies teachers, I wish they would.

Pace.

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I saw the America I believe in

On May Day, I had the great privilege and pleasure of enjoying the inspiring performances of the combined choruses of the School District of Lancaster(PA) The sound of their voices and the words of their songs brought tears to my eyes along with an unexpected epiphany. As I watched and listened to this wonderfully diverse group of students, arriving on stage from many ethnic backgrounds, I realized they are the America I believe in, not the decadent one currently projected from the White House in Washington, D.C. The students sang of peace and justice and love—love for each other and for all of humanity. And in that moment I was lifted out of the darkness, raised above the racism, white supremacy and hatred poured out daily by our president, and endorsed “96 percent of the time” by our Congressman Lloyd Smucker. Thank you, students (and everyone in the city school music program) for this gift of song and for reminding us what real Americans look and sound like.

P.S. Bumper Sticker possibility: The fight against racism has no finish line. (Lenny Henry)

You can learn a lot from old TV shows

Herewith, my latest missive in the so-far failed attempt to turn my crimson county blue before the midterm elections:

As I streamed a 1999 episode of the TV political drama, The West Wing, a brief conversation between two characters reminded me how far President Donald Trump has dragged us from the good and decent moral standards that once guided us as politicians and people. In the episode, a homeless Korean War veteran dies of hypothermia in Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House. A White House aide tells the dead soldier’s brother, who is mentally disabled, and also homeless, his brother is dead. The aide also tells the handicapped man that his brother was wounded in Korea, to which the man, revealing the severity of his mental handicap, replies, “I guess he wasn’t too good at it.” No doubt, viewers in 1999 understood those were the thoughtless words of a disabled man with impaired faculties. I don’t recall many people reacting that way in 2016 when Candidate Trump said, of former POW and Arizona Senator John McCain, “He’s not a war hero…I like people who weren’t captured.” I also don’t remember anyone concluding Trump was cognitively limited when he dismissed the sacrifice of the Gold Star Khan family. You may recall, the father of slain soldier, Humayun Khan, told Trump, “You have sacrificed nothing and no one.” To which Trump, who dodged the draft, responded by equating his daily chores with laying down your life. “I think,” he said, “I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard.” Is it possible he does not realize how foolish he sounds in those moments? And his penchant for rendering human lives meaningless continues unabated. Something is seriously wrong with the man. I pray that Congress or Robert Mueller will deliver us from Trump and end the harm he is inflicting on our nation and its people.

Pace.

Something tells me there’s a smack-down a comin’

Reports Thursday night that President Trump actually tried to fire the special counsel investigating his misconduct last summer but backed off when the White House counsel warned that such action could deal a fatal blow to Trump’s presidency gave me a little of that “Christmas is just around the corner” feeling. I can’t express how ardently I long for someone to finally pull the man up by his corn-curl colored comb over and say, “The law applies to every one of us…and you’re done breaking it. Pack your stuff and get out of the people’s house.”  Congress needs to get its shit together and be ready to act on what I expect to be a devastating set of substantiated allegations against Trump and his cronies. What a day that will be. Call him Mr. Mueller! And call DJT the loser he learned to be at his father’s knee. If you haven’t seen the NYT report, here’s the link:

Pace.

The sun will shine again

Anyone familiar with the eternal cynic I’ve become after years of life as a journalist will be surprised at what I am about to say. We were heading east toward the farmer’s market in the center of the city this morning. Gusty wind fought to invert our umbrellas as persistent rain pelted us, soaking my sleeves. Behind us to the west and overhead, the sky was darkened by angry grey clouds. We picked up our pace as the raindrops grew larger, but it seemed we were doomed to a dreary, disheartening day that matched the despair in our hearts over the current state of political affairs.

We scurried into the market and sought comfort in a good cup of coffee and the company of a relative who runs a produce stand. As we emerged, the wind still grabbed the edges of our umbrellas, but the sky was a tad less dark. We walked quickly, needing to be home sooner than usual. Four blocks north, the sky grew brighter with each stride. By four blocks west, as we headed back toward our neighborhood, the sun tore a hole in the clouds overhead. Another five blocks south and the cloudiness had surrendered to blue sky and bright, energizing sunlight.

What meaning do I derive from this brief meteorological experience? A reminder (and this is the part no one ever expects to hear from a jaundiced, old reporter) that the worst of weather cannot persist. Blue sky and sunlight always return. Likewise, we persist. And the darkness of the present moment (which I consider quite dark) will surely brighten and, thanks to our persistence, goodness and decency and empathy and reciprocal altruism will be restored to us all.

Pace. 

There is no center to hold

As I observe our immoral and indecent (and likely deranged) president , and watch him give concrete form to hatred, bigotry, and white supremacy (most recently in ordering several hundred thousand Salvadorans out of our country for no other reason I can discern than the color of their skin), and when I watch religious leaders, the supposed keepers of the flame of goodness and love, lay hands on that president, bless his atrocious words and deeds, and proclaim it “Good,” and when I see in the halls of Congress dozens and dozens of elected officials who have snuffed out their sense of right and wrong so they can slipstream in the trail of greed and hate blazed by the man in the White House, I think of W.B. Yeats’s poem from 1919, “The Second Coming,” which lamented the state of  post-World War I society, when the world of his day had, as I think ours is tending now,  veered off the path of peace and justice and love and human rights.

Here’s how Yeats described it:

“Turning and turning in a widening gyre, The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.”

Sound familiar? Yet, as good friends have reminded me in recent days, we must persist and resist. Surely light can overcome the darkness of these unnatural and unpleasant days.

Pace.