by Errington C. Thompson, MD –
I find it kind of interesting that today, we live in an era when every other blockbuster film is a superhero movie.
From Batman and Wonder Woman to the Avengers, someone is flying through the air, using their superhuman powers to save the world.
I am a sucker for superhero movies. For the most part, the plots are simple. There is always a clear good guy and a clear bad guy. The bad guy is usually really bad. The good guy usually has some personal flaws. Tony Stark (Ironman) is an egomaniac and seems to be exhibiting signs of posttraumatic stress after saving the world from an alien invasion; Peter Parker (Spiderman), on the one hand wants to exploit his powers for personal gain and profit, but on the other hand, understands that with great power comes great responsibility.
I love sitting in the movie theater and watching our superhero defeat evil. Unfortunately, when I leave the theater, reality still exists. There are no superheroes to rescue us, here, in Trumpland.
So, with much fanfare, President Donald Trump met with the North Korean dictator in Singapore. There was a huge photo op. There were plenty of smiles. Finally, there was an “agreement” that was signed by both leaders. Yet, when you read the agreement, it really said nothing.
There is no timetable to North Korea’s disarmament. There is no guarantee of inspections of North Korea’s nuclear facilities. There is not even a guarantee of further talks. This agreement is no more binding than that agreement we used to have as kids where we would swear and cross our hearts, hope to die and, wait for it, stick a needle in our eye! To make matters worse, recent satellite reports suggest that North Korea is actually enhancing their nuclear sites.
The whole immigration debate is about distracting us from every other issue that is going on. Currently the immigration issue is unsolvable. We don’t have the political makeup in Congress to push any meaningful legislation through either the House or the Senate. There is no pathway to citizenship that Republicans and Democrats can agree on; there is not even a pathway that the right and far-right wings of the Republicans alone can agree on. None!
This has been clearly proven over and over again, as Congress has been unable to pass any meaningful legislation since President George W. Bush proposed immigration reform back in the early 2000s. Even the recent “compromise plan” put forth by the Republican caucus gained only 121 votes—in a House of Representatives with 235 Republicans and only 193 Democrats!
Immigration is the perfect political football for Donald Trump and conservatives. They can rail against the problem. Lie about the severity of the problem and promise a get-tough policy without really doing anything meaningful. Almost anything they do, anything they promise, will energize their base—especially if they blame Democrats for not doing something about it.
The latest abomination is separating children from their parents. This has no practical purpose. It is clearly possible for our government to have a zero tolerance policy, under which every economic refugee (I prefer this term over illegal immigrant because it really describes why these people are here—they are simply seeking a better life for themselves and their families) who is caught is transported back to their country of origin with their families.
Possible, though not humane: at least some of those sent back will likely face death from gangs or drug kingpins or their own governments. Under U.S. law, it is illegal to deport those seeking asylum from legitimate fears of persecution and danger. But Attorney General Sessions announced recently that fear of death from gang violence is no longer grounds for asylum, under America’s long-admired, now forgotten, beacon of liberty.
To be more brutally honest, they do have a reason to put children in cages and to separate immigrates from their children—to incite anger from liberals and adulation from hard-core Republicans. This is a policy that is purposely designed to be divisive, inhumane, and un-American. I could use Trump profanity but why? You understand that this is simply heartbreakingly awful.
Let’s not be deceived by the echo chamber which constantly cries that the Mueller investigation is a witch hunt, and that there is no collusion.
First of all, the purpose of the Robert Mueller investigation is not to look for collusion. In the original mandate, the word collusion does not even appear. The Mueller investigation is tasked with investigating “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump and [this is very important] any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”
The key phrase is “any links.” You don’t see Sean Hannity or any of the other talking heads say anything about any links, because the Mueller investigation has already proven that there are dozens of links between the Trump campaign and Russia. Without doing any significant research, we already know that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian operative at Trump Tower. So did his brother-in-law, Jared Kusher, and other campaign officials. They have stated (in emails) that they wanted to get information on Hillary Clinton.
Simply asking a foreign government to help you in a domestic campaign is illegal. Accepting such help is a major crime. We cannot forget that George Papadopoulos, who was working for the Trump campaign, told an Australian diplomat that the Russians had Hillary Clinton’s emails. How did he know this? How did he get this information? Someone had to give him the information, either a Russian operative or someone from WikiLeaks. Here is your collusion.
This is stuff that we know and is easily proven—and four guilty pleas (already) and 20 indictments make a strong case that there’s more to come. This investigation must proceed.
The Supreme Court
Every day for the past several months, Republicans have reaped the benefit of their obstructionism. They held up Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court for no other reason than they opposed the president. We, as Democrats, really didn’t do much to oppose the obstructionism. Obama had a couple of speeches which railed against the Republican obstruction; a few Democrats went on the Sunday shows and spoke out, but they had no significant effect. This was a failure of nerve on their part. We needed to do everything possible to break Republican obstructionism. We needed to march in the streets. We needed to shut down Congress as we packed the streets of Washington.
We did not do that. Instead, we watched as Mr. Trump nominated, and the Republican Senate confirmed, conservative Neil Gorsuch to the Court instead of President Obama’s nominee, the centrist, moderate Merrick Garland.
Now, the Republicans are winning victory after victory in the Supreme Court. Everything from Republican gerrymandering in Texas being “not so bad” to a crippling decision which allows freeloaders to receive the benefits of hard-fought union contracts. These deadbeats now do not have to pay union dues. This will crush unions—one of the primary goals of the GOP for over five decades.
Worse, Justice Kennedy, a lifelong conservative who voted once a year with the liberal bloc—giving him the role of the “swing vote” and the reputation of a moderate—stepped down after long, secret, private discussions with the president. Mr. Trump has now nominated a second justice to the Court, Brett Kavanaugh, and do not bet your retirement income that he will be a “swing vote” or a moderate. Mr. Kavanaugh, who was a lead author of the “Starr Report” justifying the impeachment of Bill Clinton, will move the Court from 5-4 decisions to regular 6-3 decisions, none of which will benefit We the People. According to Politico, he is “much loved in conservative legal circles as an originalist in the mold of Justice Clarence Thomas and former Justice Antonin Scalia.”
I am not going to sugarcoat it, this is bad. This is the Avengers III movie bad, where the villain collects all the Infinity stones and has unlimited power.
Kennedy’s retirement is a disaster. Far-right conservatives have had a wish-list of laws and court decisions to get rid of since the days of the John Birch Society. They view this as their golden moment. So don’t be surprised by suits attempting to overturn what’s left of the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act; to declare unconstitutional Social Security and Medicare; to reverse Roe v. Wade and Brown v. Board of Education.…
As Deadpool says, we need to fight this with “maximum effort.” We have to change the makeup of Congress. We have to win the House. We have to win the Senate. This is the only way that we can truly stop our march toward darkness, despair, and a world of unlimited tax cuts for the rich and growing feudalism for the rest of us.