When the Puppetmaster pulls the strings…

Two hours after the uber-libertarian ultra-rich Koch brothers declared that the “authoritarian” route of banning all immigrants, including Greencard holders, was “counterproductive” to business and the “American” way, the White House spokesman declared that Greencard holders would NOT be included in the ban. Guess it would be difficult for the unemployed 60-year old, Trump-voting steelworkers in Ohio to take the place of Greencard holding computer programmers, engineers, doctors, professors, and other professionals.

When the puppetmasters pull the strings, the puppets must dance.

Refugees and Visa holders aren’t being detained at the American airports because the airlines aren’t even letting them board the airplane. The airlines don’t want to have to pay to send them back to their country of origin. The more stomach turning fact is the USA created many of these refugees in the first place and refuses now to take responsibility for them.

In a phone conversation on Sunday, Angela Merkel took time out to school Trump on the specifics of the Geneva Convention and how all countries that sign it agree to take on refugees. Since she is a former physics professor, she probably feels an obligation to educate the ignorant.

And let’s think about that plastic word “safety” and what other definitions may spring to mind….

 

 

Ten Days of Trumpacy

Gray, rainy days for over two weeks now. The only time the sun came out was the day of the Women’s March. I took that as a sign that God was with the women.

I’ve decided to break my long silence because I need to tell my story and how politics has become personal for us.

On Monday January 23, the first working day of the Trumpacy, all scientists working for the United States government were put under a gag order. They are not allowed to speak to the press or the public about their research without first getting approval from the President. The gag order is under effect for forty days, but could be extended. This kind of thing has never happened before. The agencies affected include the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, the FDA, the Center for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health and Human Services, and the National Park Agency. If there is an outbreak of a strange virus or a contaminant in a food or medicine, the CDC and FDA will have to get permission from their boss to speak about it. In response, the scientists working at these agencies have set up rogue Twitter accounts. The one for HHS uses the Rebel logo from the “Star Wars” movies. These scientists tweet at risk of losing their jobs. The research is not classified, the Trumpacy just wants to control their speech.

Why the gag order? The official reason is the Trumpacy does not want to be questioned while in the ‘transition’ period. They were badly embarrassed by their attempt to identify climate change scientists, didn’t like the public backlash and criticism. Now they can round up whomever they wish without fear of reprisals. Some say the gag order started when someone from the Parks Service showed the photo of the Obama inauguration versus the Trump inauguration. The Trumpacy didn’t like being embarrassed by being caught in a pictorial refutation of their braggart claims.

Day 1: The scientists can’t speak freely about non-classified research.

Subsequent days: the promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but with no legislative replacement on the horizon. The executive order to build a wall (actually a fence) between the United States and Mexico, which will cost more than the entire budget of the intelligence agencies. Mexico refuses to pay for this. I guess we are taking away people’s health care so we can build a wall. Feeling like I am in a bad Kafka novella. Trumpacy also gives regular policemen the right to ask anyone about their immigrant status and can deport them if they so choose.  Trumpacy orders all reproductive aid and sex health screening to international agencies kyboshed because they might destroy a sacred zygote. Millions of women and their families put at risk, but I guess it doesn’t matter because they all live abroad and we won’t see them or the consequences of these policies on their lives.

The weekend kicker- on Friday night Trumpacy signs an executive order that all immigrants from 7 Muslim majority countries are to be denied entry into the United States, regardless of their immigration status. This includes refugees, Greencard holders, and people with H1 and other visas ie people that Congress and the State Department have approved of for having legal working residence. The executive order also states that the president can add other countries at his whim. In my family, my husband holds a German passport, he is not a US citizen. But, his country of origin is Pakistan, and for the Immigration officials, they only look at country of origin. If the Trumpacy decides that they don’t want people from any Muslim majority countries to enter (remember, this was one of his campaign promises, to kick the Muslims out), then my husband would be denied re-entry. It’s a nice loophole the Trumpacy has found. They can’t kick out American citizens or round them up in camps in the USA, that is against the law, but they can refuse re-entry to non-citizens and break up families.  On Saturday the executive order goes into effect. Americans stage protests at major airports across the USA: New York, Boston, Dulles (Washington DC), Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco. The international terminals are blocked. An emergency order by a judge a 9 pm grants a stay for some of those detained- they cannot be deported until their case is tried in court. Immigration Officers who support the Trumpacy say they will disregard the decision of the federal judge and they will continue to detain and deport those who they deem a threat. One way they assess threat is to demand access to the detainee’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. If they have posted anti-Trump messages or tweets, they are deemed a threat. My family watches the demonstrations Saturday night on Twitter feeds, following their progress. We are heartened by the demonstrators and the ACLU lawyers working feverishly for haebus corpus for the detainees.

That night my spouse and I discuss our options. How long before the Trumpacy goes after us? Is it safe to go on our family vacation to Germany? Should we cash out of America now, before it is too late? Should he take that job in Canada- should we move? How much will we lose on our house (our biggest asset) if we sell now? The world seems in flux. Where will my children go to school? Where we will go?

Sunday morning I get into a fight with my father. He supports Trump, he feels Trump is doing the right thing and he feels safer. He asks my husband if my husband thinks it is ok for ISIS to kill Americans, because my husband, by questioning Trump’s policies, might think it is ok. My husband says that for my father to ask him this must mean, after a +20 year relationship, that he doesn’t really trust him. He passes the phone to me. The look on my husband’s face is heartbreaking.  I tell my father that I know what sorts of news he listens to and what they say about me and my family. I tell him the Trumpacy policies have consequences, that they don’t just affect other people, they affect him. Everything that I feared would happen is starting to happen. My father says, “Well, just keep in touch.” And we hang up.

My oldest son asks me what is going to happen. What should he do? I tell him to just focus on his schoolwork. I promise him that we will keep him safe. I say we may need to move, but we’re not sure yet. I tell him that there is always going to be a core group of people 30-40% in ANY country who are most concerned about their personal safety and they will go after a leader who tells them he will keep them safe. These people are cashing into short term safety, but history always judges them as cowards and bullies. No one wants to have to admit they have a Nazi grandfather. We just have to remember what is important, we have to stand up for what we think is right, and we have to think about what part of history we want to be identified with.

At noon time the Trumpacy cabinet says they are considering adding Pakistan to the list.

 

If you didn’t vote for Hillary, I understand that. If you voted for Trump, fine. But if you donated money to the Trump campaign, I think the very least you should do is add a matching amount to the American Civil Liberties Union. Think of it as an investment, it may become more personal than you think.

 

The Tribe Gifts Us with Meaning

“(This book)…is about why-for many people-war feels better than peace and hardship can turn out to be a great blessing and disasters are sometimes remembered more fondly than weddings or tropical vacations. Humans don’t mind hardship, in fact they thrive on it, what they mind is not feeling necessary. Modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary.”

-Sebastian Junger in Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging

Reading List for 2017

  1. “The Story of a New Name” by Elena Ferrante
  2. “Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay” by Elena Ferrante
  3. “The Story of the Lost Child” by Elena Ferrante
  4. “Middlemarch” by George Eliot
  5. “The Waves” by Virginia Woolf
  6. “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” by John Perkins
  7. “Sweet Lamb of Heaven” by Lydia Miller
  8. “Purity” by Jonathan Franzen
  9. “The Burnout Society” by Byung-Chul Han
  10. “The Way We Live Now” by Anthony Trollope
  11. “Strangers on a Train” by Patricia Highsmith
  12. “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman
  13. “A Prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving
  14. “Tempest-Tost” by Robertson Davies