Avoid the Abyss

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abyssBy Henry C. Walker

Like me, you have a few friends who, when asked about the presidential race, will only say that they “can’t stand” Hillary, with no factual aid at hand, except to add with equally feckless brio that they “don’t trust her.” Such retorts aren’t responsive, of course, at least as being aids to their initial response. My main worry is that many of them can, at least some of the time (I’m being generous), become intellectually lazy and just decide not to vote, and then when the nightmare of a Trump presidency descends, and we recoil in horror at, God forbid, who he nominates for the Supreme Court, and we realize that, God forbid, Roe v. Wade will be reversed, and all we can say and do is to close our eyes & say “We told you!”, which is, you will agree, just too inadequate, pitifully so, and ultimately, the fact that we would be devastated, just doesn’t matter…

OK, even at this point, as close as we are to Tuesday, I need to give you as much real true facts as I can, hoping that you can at the very least help Caddo Parish carry for Hillary as we did forObama (twice!), and, much more importantly, if you can get this out to friends and ‘fellow travelers’ out of State, so much the better. So, here goes!the-abyss-trump

First of all, contemplating the virtual cornucopia/deluge of savage lies and dog-whistle (race-based) signals to his mostly-white-male-rural voter that is his base, where to start? How about with the first thing many of us remember as the initial Trump spew, which was his five-year lie (that many of his followers still believe!) about President Obama not being an American!
If that was the beginning of his BS, using innuendo and lies, we became so swamped thereafter with more and more and more of the same, that we got so crushed with facts and polls & etc., that some of us may be forgiven for having missed the real danger, that being what modern-day Republicans have created. Look, we all know that when one party promises to continue avoiding compromise with a Clinton presidency at all costs, as they have done throughout the Obama presidencies, it means that our Democracy gets weaker and weaker, until, lucky for us, a “strong man” shows up, to rescue us with promises to “Make us strong again” by blending big business with his authoritarian brand of governance. Sound familiar? It should! What did we learn in school about a nationalistic right-wing political system headed by a dictator in which the government controls business and labor and opposition is not permitted? We learned how to spell Fascism, that’s what. What else would we call the Trump brand, when he expressly threatens what all tin pot dictators do, to arrest Sec. Clinton if he’s elected, who expressly threatens to control a free press by denying access to news organizations that oppose or criticize him, who has proposed banning an entire religion from entering the US, and said that he would force our military to commit war crimes!

abyssmalAnd in case promoting a fascist agenda doesn’t do it for you, you should recall that he has called Mexicans rapists, mocked a disabled reporter, said John McCain wasn’t a war hero because he was captured, has been accused by 12 women of committing what he brags about, the crime of sexual assault, who has said that more countries should get nukes, said an Indiana judge hearing the fraud case against Trump University was biased because of his Mexican heritage, said women should be punished for having abortions, incited violence at his rallies, called global warming a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, declared bankruptcy six times, bragged about not paying income taxes, stiffed his contractors and employees, lost a billion dollars in one year, bought a six-foot-tall painting of himself with money from his fake foundation, has a trial for fraud coming up in November, and bragged about grabbing women by the crotch!

Still need more? OK, let me quote a former member of the Bush administration, who, writing  as a conservative in a recent Atlantic magazine article, asks whether we should prefer “..a president who boasts of a lifetime of bribing politicians to further his business career? Who defaults on debts and contracts as an ordinary business method, and who avoids taxes by deducting the losses he inflicted on others as if he had suffered them himself? Who cheated the illegal laborers he employed at Trump Tower out of their humble hourly wage? Who owes hundreds of millions of dollars to the Bank of China?  Who refuses to disclose his tax returns, perhaps to conceal his business dealings with Vladimir Putin’s inner circle? ..[I]t’s proposed that I give my franchise to a man who boasts of his delight in sexual assault? Who denounces immigrant parents whose son laid down his life for this country, who endorses religious bigotry, and who denies the Americanism of the 44th president of the United States”.

And to quote that same 44th, who spoke today on the stump in reference to Mr. Trump: “Who you are, what you are before the election, is amplified when you get into the oval office! It magnifies who you are, it shines a spotlight on who you are.” So now, does this scare the hell out of us?

It should!

And we haven’t even gotten to Gov. Pence, Trump’s running mate. I’m reminded of Winston Churchill’s famous “finest hour” speech before The House of Commons in June of 1940. What he said at the end of that speech, last phrase, speaks volumes to us today. In the face of the worlds’ “darkest hour”, he said that we could, with victory, “move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age, made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.” Now if you think this is too dramatic, remember who Mr. Pence is. To begin with, he is openly skeptical of climate change. Can you imagine who he would support for the Supreme Court?! As Governor of Indiana, Pence signed the most abortion-restrictive regulations in the nation, banning abortion even in cases where the fetus has a “genetic abnormality”, and holding doctors legally liable if they had knowingly performed such procedures. That law also required that aborted fetal tissue be buried or cremated. He led the Republican fight to defund Planned Parenthood. On religious matters, he seems to have leapt from the Crusades of the 11th Century. Under Governor Pence, Indiana has diverted $53 million in the past two years from public school funding to vouchers for private schools, including religious schools. He also signed one of the  harshest “religious freedom” laws in the country. We’ve seen how this works for the LGBT community in Louisiana, haven’t we!

As a congressman, he opposed federal funding that would support treatment for people suffering from H.I.V. and AIDS, unless the government also funded programs to discourage people from engaging in same-sex relationships. He has resisted changes to hate-crime laws that would have included crimes against the LGBT community. And he actually said that “I long for the day that Roe v. Wade is sent to the ash heap of history.”

In 2006, Pence proposed an immigration “compromise” that would have made immigrants “self-deport”, offered no path to citizenship, and favored Trump’s Big Wall notion. He also fought against having Syrian refugees being settled in Indiana. On education, he was the first governor to try to repeal Common Core, and was one of only 25 Republican congressmen to vote against George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” initiative.

Had enough? But wait, let’s not forget the Trump/Pence efforts, aided by the RNC, to challenge, block and intimidate black voters, prompting Federal judges to stop them in Arizona, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio. And remember that after the US Supreme Court, at the urging of the RNC, decided that federal oversight was no longer needed to guard against making it difficult or onerous for blacks to vote, 868 polling places were quickly closed in southern states.

Any questions?

By the way, I do believe that we should listen to some of what Trump seems to have hit upon.

I don’t ever again want places like West Virginia, or the “Rust Belt” States, or any rural population, north or south, ignored. We may just be lucky this time that the Republican nominee is so bad, because if we fail to deal with those matters that many of his supporters feel are important, at some point a cleaner ‘strong leader’ will surely appear, and we’ll be off and running toward Fascism. Many Trump voters feel talked down to, and are otherwise too angry to be focusing on issues like the Supreme Court, vulnerable energy grids, a lack of interstate water treaties and the like. They want more and better paying jobs, with better working conditions and more money for big things like job training, and money for smaller things, like how our monetary system works and what working families need to know for their economic survival skills. Most voters agree. Some think that we should remove the profit incentive from social structures and institutions like higher education, healthcare, criminal justice and other systems of national import for which government may be better suited than the private sector. We all need protection from the poisons and pollutions in our foods, as well as from greedy drug manufacturers and others that take inappropriate advantage of working men and women. We all need to see smart changes in our financial, banking, insurance, energy, and useful tort law systems. Above all, our  National Interest requires that which has made our Democracy ever weaker for the lack of it. We need to demand Compromise in all things legislative. Without it, democracy withers. It’s the fundamental essence around which the Founding Fathers defined a working system of self-government. Demand compromise in any legislative discussions around trade agreements, crumbling infrastructure, exposed internet and electronic grids systems, taxation or anything else we hold as critically important. And finally, we need no more stupid wars. Most agree these days, but it took the flower of several successive generations before “the Elite” saw the light and quit taking the poor to war. Most people don’t need to hear how we need a strong national defense. We know that, stupid, but we’ve begun to really reflect on the military-industrial complex that General Eisenhower warned us about in 1960, one that has the same old fascist overtones we all should fear.

What...
What…

O.K., so what does Hillary really stand for? Mr. Trump has berated her before his frenzied crowds, saying that she had been in government for thirty years and had accomplished nothing. Well, let’s hear from someone who has actually worked in the West Wing and who has known Hillary up close in government work, Shreveport resident Aprill Springfield: ”I have known Hillary Clinton for 23 years, and know her to be one of the most committed and thoughtful people I have ever met. She is also the most effective person I know. If people ask me “What has Hillary accomplished?” my response is, “How long do you have to listen?” This abbreviated list touches on several of the key issues I personally saw her advance. During her years at the White House, Hillary was an effective advocate for initiatives that impact the lives of children and families. She worked behind the scenes with members of Congress to secure passage of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), then worked with the budget team at the White House to obtain funding for the initiative. She helped to secure the support of all 50 governors, and convened a White House summit to guide rollout efforts that ultimately brought more than 8 million children of families with moderate incomes health care coverage. Hillary’s work on CHIP is an example of the comprehensive approach she takes to everything that crosses her desk. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has become a saving grace for people in the workforce who are confronted with the risk of losing their job due to unexpected family events such as the illness of a parent, spouse or child.  Hillary was the driving force in the Clinton White House behind the FMLA, and, if elected, has pledged to expand this important legislation to include paid leave.  Hillary has also been at the forefront of the pay equity movement, and has been deeply involved in efforts to strengthen women’s retirement and pension security.” Hillary has long championed providing access to capital to the smallest of businesses through microenterprise, both here at home and around the world.  She was instrumental in starting one of the first rural microenterprise funds in the United States. A lifelong advocate for adoption, Hillary was the Administration’s lead advocate for the Adoption & Safe Families Act and the Foster Care Independence Act, keeping children from lingering too long in foster care and providing tools for children who are old enough to transition out of the foster care system.  She launched a childhood immunization initiative and helped to secure passage of the Vaccines for Children program, all the while working to support state childhood immunization registries. She exercised leadership in early childhood education and development, another issue that she promises to continue to focus on in the White House. Hillary also worked with the entertainment industry to improve the quality of children’s educational programming. In the White House and in the Senate, Hillary worked to address environmental links to disease, as embodied by her work to address childhood asthma.  She advocated and secured increased funding for epilepsy, and worked to increase preventive benefits in Medicare for mammograms, colorectal and prostate cancer and osteoporosis screenings. Her work with the disability community is extensive. When I first met Hillary, I remember hearing her talk about pediatric labeling of medications.  At first, I was not sure what she meant. Now I think about it every single time I stand in line to ask a pharmacist a question before giving medication to my children. It is only recently that many common medications have included safe dosage information for children. During the Clinton White House, Hillary worked behind the scenes with industry, pediatricians, children’s hospitals and others in the development of regulations on the testing and labeling of drugs for pediatric use. Years later, as a Senator, she co-introduced the Pediatric Research Equity Act with Republican Senator Mike DeWine of Ohio. Her early work came full circle, as they succeeded in enacting this legislation addressing safe dosages for children. The impact of her decision to travel to China – a country known to violate human rights – against the wishes of many in the Administration to declare that “Women’s Rights are Human Rights and Human Rights are Women’s Rights,” should not be underestimated. These remarks gave voice to women bravely working in silence on issues such as violence against women in countries around the world.  Hillary’s speech raised awareness that led to some countries banning longstanding practices like female genital mutilation or honor killings. Our own government increased our work and support for programs addressing women and children globally in the aftermath of this declaration. I worked for Hillary on 9/11, and saw firsthand her efforts across party lines to secure $21 billion in federal aid to rebuild New York City. She devoted the same focus and commitment to working on the long-term health struggles of the 9/11 first responders that she brought earlier in her career to the health care needs of veterans struggling with Gulf War Syndrome.  She also passed legislation giving full military health benefits to reservists and National Guard members. At the State Department, Hillary gave new meaning to the term “economic statecraft.” To give just one example, our exports to China increased by 50% during her tenure. She embodied “shuttle diplomacy,” visiting at least 112 countries, working hard to restore our damaged alliances. Hillary oversaw the negotiation of the START nuclear arms reduction treaty, and she negotiated a Gaza cease-fire that kept all-out war from breaking out and Hamas from firing at Israel.  She established the first U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues, and insisted that women were at the negotiating tables in countries where women were not represented  I am enthusiastically voting for Hillary not just because she is a mentor who stands to make history, but for these and countless other examples of her steadfast work to improve the lives of children and families.” Any questions?

Charlie Brown Christmas Lucy psych standAnd after all this, you may notice that I haven’t touched the latest revelations about the conduct of Russia and the Trump campaign, or the FBI and the Trump campaign, and how it is very quickly becoming apparent that these entities are joined in a combined push to damage Hillary. You may have already watched Michael Moore’s documentary Trumpland online. If not, you should. You might also want to read The Guardian article “The FBI is Trumpland”.

But the most damning account of all may be yesterday’s Newsweek article: “The disclosure by the Federal Bureau of Investigation late on Friday, October 28 that it had discovered potential new evidence in its inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s handling of her personal email when she was Secretary of State has virtually nothing to do with any actions taken by the Democratic nominee, according to government records and an official with knowledge of the investigation, who spoke to Newsweek

on condition of anonymity.” How’s that?

So look, will you reach out, gently, to those friends, co-workers, employees, or perhaps the occasional relative or in-law who you think may not really understand the myriad threats to American Democracy that Donald Trump represents?

Please, please, do reach out, and do your best to persuade them not to vote for this man. For any that still can’t make up their minds, remind them that not voting is tantamount to voting for Trump.

Saturday VOTE!
VOTE!

And finally, please keep on, keep fighting to the very end, because Trump will never understand how the freedoms expressed in the Bill of Rights, for example, guarantee to each of us protection from what is sometimes termed the Tyranny of the Majority. Put another way, it means protection from what would surely come about in a Trump regime. And make no mistake, such a tyrannical nightmare could indeed become reality if we think that because the polls have her leading, we shouldn’t worry. No, we should absolutely worry, because he absolutely can win if we don’t get the turnout we so badly need to prevail.

And having now mentioned turnout, I may throw up, because we only have three days left, and then, literally, the fate of our nation will be decided.

All best,

HCW

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