• Sunday, November 11, 2018 at 8:52 AM

    In Observance of Veterans Day

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    A colleague astonished me yesterday when she asked, “What’s the deal with that red flower?” Specifically, she wanted to know why Prince William, Kate Middleton, and so many other Brits are wearing a poppy on their lapels these days.

    For me, though, this was rather like a colleague asking, “What’s the deal with that pink ribbon?” You know, the one people wear throughout the month of October.

    For the edification of those of you who have no clue, people wear the poppy from late October to early November (primarily) to remember those who died in WWI. The peace treaty to end this war was reportedly signed at 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.

    That’s why 11:11 is generally observed as Remembrance Day (or Armistice Day). [This year’s remembrance is especially noteworthy because it marks the 100th anniversary of the ending of that “Great War.”]

    poppies-toewer-of-london-1In recent times, however, Remembrance Day has been designated (secondarily) as a day to remember the dead from all wars, including those in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    [Naturally, we thank all veterans for their service. But, on this centenary, the blacks who fought so heroically during World War I deserve honorable mention. Because nothing could have been more humbling and humiliating than fighting in Europe to “make the world safe for democracy,” only to return to find that America was still neither safe nor democratic … for black folks.]

    That said, the heroic poem “In Flanders Fields” was inspired by the death of one soldier during WWI. But it has evolved over the years into an elegy on all war dead. My primary school teacher taught me to recite it with the same reverence with which my Sunday school teacher taught me to recite “The Lord’s Prayer.”

    No doubt the cultural presumption this imbued explains my astonishment at my colleague’s ignorance. Never mind that I now struggle to recite both, which probably reveals as much about my encroaching senility as it does my evolving apostasy.

    IN FLANDERS FIELDS

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place: and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie
    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe;
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high,
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.

    (John McCrae, 1915)

    NOTE: This commentary was originally published on 11:11:11. I’ve been reprising it ever since not only to honor all war dead, but also to commend the UK for its awe-inspiring tributes. They always serve as a poignant reminder of the “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” that characterized the world wars.

  • Wednesday, November 7, 2018 at 8:21 AM

    Democrats Take House. Republicans Hold Senate. Not Quite the ‘Restoration’ Hoped For…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    But this is enough to ensure Trump will finally learn that his lies, high crimes and misdemeanors have consequences. #Subpoena!

    That said, there’s no denying the disappointment in seeing so many high-profile, anti-Trump Democrats lose and so many high-profile, pro-Trump Republicans win. Because, no matter that winter is coming for him, Trump will hail these results as a vindication of his brand of divide-and-conquer politics.

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  • Sunday, November 4, 2018 at 9:03 AM

    US Midterm Elections: It’s All About the VOTE…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    So forget all the annoying ads, campaign rallies, and political bitching. Time’s Up!

    I have never used this forum to tell people to vote, let alone how to. But I never want to experience the feeling I had the morning after the 2016 presidential election ever again.

    It was an utterly gutted feeling of anomie, which compelled me to write “WTF! President-Elect Donald J. Trump?! America. What. Have. You. Done.” November 9, 2016. But a profound feeling of regret soon replaced that. I suspect this was so not only because I took Hillary’ victory for granted but also because I did so little to ensure it.

    That’s why I’ve been doing all I can in the real world this time to get people to vote – and to vote early! It is also why I am using this forum for the first time to urge any reader who is eligible to get to the polls on Tuesday.

    You need only know that, if only a few people in a few key states had bothered to vote in 2016, we would have been spared the black-swan political nightmare that has been the Trump presidency.

    So get out and vote if you want politicians who will

    • Reclaim the character of this nation – so that truth and facts still matter.
    • Ensure that healthcare is a right for all, not just a privilege for a few.
    • Support the global effort to fight climate change.
    • Treat LGBTQ Americans like heterosexual Americans … in every respect.
    • Oppose the NRA and outlaw the assault weapons that have turned this country into a veritable war zone.
    • Reestablish the political, economic, and military alliances that gave rise after WWII to an unprecedented period of global peace and prosperity.
    • Advance gender equality – like granting pay equity, preserving abortion rights, and supporting the MeToo movement against sexual harassment.
    • Tame and check the dictatorial predilections of President Donald J. Trump.
    • Inspire hope not incite fear (or use gerrymandering and Jim Crow-style voter suppression to hold onto power).
    • Oppose all efforts (foreign and domestic) to foment divisions between Republicans and Democrats, which could have their politics ape that which have Sunnis and Shiites still waging a 1000-year schism.
    • Notify the world that America is still the greatest bastion and defender of democratic values; and that it is still that shining city on a hill for refugees yearning to breathe free (i.e., not a tent city built for their internment and deportation).

    For added effect, I arranged the first letter of those bullet points to spell out RESTORATION.

    But this should not diminish the importance of other issues related to things like race relations, Medicare, and drug (opioid) addiction. And I could go on, but you get the idea.

    Therefore, I shall end by respectfully submitting that you should want all of these things. But even if you want only one of them, you’d be well-advised to simply vote Democrat!

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  • Sunday, November 4, 2018 at 7:56 AM

    Trump Promised a Beautiful Wall. But…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    He’s delivering an ugly barbed-wire fence. Oh, and Mexico still ain’t payin’!

    As three separate migrant caravans slowly made their way north through Mexico on Saturday, newly arrived US troops worked to lay a barbed-wire fence along the Texas side of the Rio Grande. …

    ‘I saw that beautiful barbed wire going up,’ Trump said at a Saturday campaign rally in Montana. ‘Beautiful sight.’

    (New York Post, November 2, 2018)

    Except that he’s selling this bait-and-switch to the same suckers who he boasted would support him even if he shot someone on 5th Avenue in broad daylight. And, if you saw any of his rallies last week, you know those Trumpletons are buying it hook, line, and sinker.

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  • Saturday, November 3, 2018 at 8:05 AM

    Political Amber Alert…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    (c) 2018 Chan Lowe

  • Thursday, November 1, 2018 at 7:49 AM

    Migrant Caravan Has Mattis Abandoning Military Principles for Trumpian Politics

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    An infectious feature of Trump’s presidency is the willingness of so many to abandon professional and personal principles to serve his amoral and often helter-skelter political agenda.

    Two of his Jewish advisers, Chief Economic Adviser Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, demonstrated this in spades. No doubt you recall the moment Trump informed the world that there were “very fine people” among the Neo-Nazis who marched through Charlottesville last year shouting “Jews will not replace us.”

    What you may not recall is that Cohn and Mnuchin were standing right there beside him … like religious Eunuchs.

    But, so as to not pick on Jews, I can also point to a Christian adviser, National Security Adviser John Bolton. Because he’s on record damning Russian President Vladimir Putin as the anti-Christ just days before Trump hired him. Now he’s breaking bread with Putin in Moscow – as if he is Putin’s most-favored disciple … after Trump.

    Such profiles in self-abnegating cowardice define Trump’s presidency. In fact, the Republican Party has abandoned practically all core principles (like fiscal responsibility, family values, and the rule of law) to serve at his pleasure. This is why it’s laughable to continue hailing it as the party of Ronald Reagan, let alone of Abraham Lincoln.

    Reagan often quipped that “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me.” Well, many are saying the same about the Republican Party these days. Nationally acclaimed columnist Max Boot even chronicled his disaffection in the best-selling book The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right.

    Some Republicans used to reason that non-political members of the administration would serve as an antidote to this political apostasy. Most notably, they cited the triumvirate of National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, FBI Director James Comey, and Defense Secretary James Mattis as the bulwark in this respect.

    But McMaster and Comey proved so resistant to this infection that Trump fired them. Which brings me to Mattis. Because his willingness to salute and execute Trump’s order to deploy troops to the US-Mexico border should dash all hopes in this last man standing.

    The White House’s decision to send more than 5,200 active-duty troops to the border with Mexico a week before the midterm elections has put the American military and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis squarely in the political crosshairs. …

    ‘This is a craven political stunt by President Trump ahead of the U.S. midterm elections, and a cynical capitulation by a secretary of defense who has prided himself on improving the readiness, focus, and lethality of the U.S. armed forces and who was once known as a no-nonsense warfighter,’ [wrote] Kelly Magsamen, a former top Pentagon official in the Obama administration.

    (The Washington Post, October 30, 2018)

    In fact, the Pentagon is deploying more troops to the border to fight hapless migrants than it has deployed in Afghanistan and Syria to fight ISIS terrorists. Never mind that the former is a clear violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the military from enforcing domestic laws, including immigration laws.

    Of course, if Mattis mentioned that act, Trump would probably think this general was trying to bond over the kind of “locker room” talk we all heard on that infamous Access Hollywood tape …

    In any event, it’s hardly surprising that a notorious draft dodger like Trump would have no compunction about using military soldiers like political pawns. But you’d think Mattis would have prevailed upon him to see and avoid this manifest absurdity – if only to maintain the institutional integrity of the US military and show a little respect for the federal budget. Failing that, you’d think he would resign on principle.

    Instead, this Pentagon paragon is blithely helping Trump undermine confidence in and respect for the military, just as craven Republicans have willfully helped him do with the FBI and virtually every other democratic institution.

    Incidentally, it’s bad enough that the US military has been fighting unwinnable wars in the Middle East for the past 17 years. But Mattis is setting it up for unprecedented fecklessness with this “Operation Distraction.” Because he knows full well that soldiers will be constitutionally prohibited from laying a hand on any migrant, let alone forcibly arresting and detaining thousands of them.

    But nobody should be surprised that Mattis regards his duty to serve as absolute, making him robotically obedient. After all, despite signaling principled misgivings, he has been faithfully executing Trump’s illegal order to ban transgender individuals from serving in the military in any capacity.

    Three federal judges hearing separate cases issued injunctions against the ban last fall that cleared the way — in theory at least — for transgender recruits to start enlisting on Jan. 1.

    Since then, scores have applied — but it appears almost none are being accepted.

    (The New York Times, July 5, 2018)

    Frankly, in so many ways, Trump is misleading the country into the kind of shithole where he famously claimed banana republics wallow. Yet the only Republicans who have been willing to raise any alarm are those (like Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Jeff Flake) who have declared their intent to resign.

    Sadly, it takes having no political skin to lose for Republican leaders to show the kind of profiles in courage their predecessors showed. The latter not only condemned Richard Nixon’s amoral and often helter-skelter agenda but forced him to resign to boot.

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