Hopelessness and Heroin
“I’ve seen the needle and the damage done” sings Neil Young. We can relate to that verse. Due to overdoses, A whole generation of young men and women are dead, dying, lost. I have lost so many family members and friends to this insidious disease. Collectively, we shed a sacred river of tears. Today, I thought of the congregation of friends and family who have succumbed to addiction.
When it comes to a social issue that has resulted in the death of some of the kindest, loving, and gentle souls whose acquaintance I was blessed to make, I am duty bound to ask why this epidemic has gotten so out of control–I am duty bound to research and explore, and find some answers.
And I’m not writing this article for MD’s and PhD’s (yet they should not consider this a snub, and, if solicitous of the research, should continue reading). I am writing it to you, my friends: the addict, the addict’s friend, the addict’s family member. And if I start to lose your attention because of my choice of words or my citing of research, please be confident that in the end, you will understand what I have to say.
Please believe in your ability to produce a positive change in society. Your questions, answers, and experiences matter to me, and matter to the lives you spare when your share your story of how faith, hope, and love saved your life and ordained you with a serenity that a superficial high just cannot compare to.
Always remember what our goal is here: we are trying to figure out why all our friends are dying to a vicious disease–a disease that, if we’re being honest, wants me dead, and I bet wants you dead too. Ple
Already some of you have open-and-closed my research. “Addiction is a progressive disease that if left untreated results in death.” I agree with that statement, and so doesn’t the American Medical Association. But addiction is not a unique psychological illness. There are social/environmental causes that precipitates the disease.
One need only compare the rates of addiction in The United States with that of other countries.
It is highly unlikely that everyone with the biological trait that makes addiction more probable, somehow ended up in the United States.
Something precipitates addiction in American society, whether it is political or sociological/social psychological. There is an anomaly in the United States that leads to the highest rates of addiction in the world. The answers to the question, “Why have I lost so many people to this disease?” is closer to being answered when we discover these anomalies.
Let’s take a look at the political anomalies. The United States has a political system that requires candidates to consistently raise money. A congressperson is required to raise $15,000 a week to hold on to his or her seat. That money is not coming from you or me. It is coming from the pharmaceutical lobby. (Aliyah Frumin, “How much does it cost to win a seat in Congress? Well, if you have to ask…” Hardball with Chris Matthews. MSNBC. Retrieved from http://www.msnbc.com/hardball/how-much-does-it-cost-win-seat-congre Accessed on 17 August 17)
So far this year, the lobbyists for the pharmaceutical industry have spent $1,657,260,107 on bribing your federally elected representatives to pass laws that benefit the pharmaceutical industry (retrieved from OpenSecrets.org on 9 March 2017).
Money has a harmful influence on our government, but senators like Senator John McCain witnessed the greed and harm that infected our federally elected politicians. Senator McCain pushed for limits on the amount of money special interests could donate (or legally bribe) to our elected representatives. With Senator Feingold he wrote legislation that would limit soft money contributions to campaigns.
The conservative Supreme Court’s Decision in the Citizens United v. The FEC now allows corporations to donate limitless amounts of cash to Super PAC’s. Super PAC’s ostensibly do not coordinate with campaigns, but folks with no official role in the campaign act as the mediators between the campaigns and their Super PAC’s. After the nomination process the DNC and RNC act as the mediators. Essentially, since Citizens United, bribery of federal officials is a legal act.
Why is this important to the issue of addiction? The money donated to campaigns by Purdue Pharma, for example, have had devastating affects on the opiate epidemic. Purdue Pharma, “greased the wheel” for FDA approval. And at the time, there were no laws prohibiting companies like Purdue Pharma from enticing doctors and medical professionals from prescribing certain drugs. In Democracy’s Edge, Frances Moore Lappé writes:
Or consider that throughout the 1990’s, pharmaceutical manufacturers poured more than $108 million into campaigns for federal candidates and their parties while the Food and Drug administration approved twice as many drugs in half the time it used to take to review them…hundreds of people have died while taking drugs that were later pulled from the market.
– Lappé, Frances Moore. Democracy’s Edge. Jossey-Bass. 2006. p. 59
The 90’s was the OxyContin Era. It led to heroin and heroin has led to fentanyl–a opiate 100% stronger than morphine. Did the Doctor tell people how addictive OxyContin is and how a tolerance builds that requires one to ingest the larger amounts to feel the same effect? These drugs were pushed on medical professionals by pharmaceutical industries. According to Forbes Magazine:
The FDA approved the medication in 1995 and it soon took off. By 2003 OxyContin sales hit $1.6 billion as the drug helped drive a huge nationwide spike in opioid prescribing. At its peak in 2012, doctors wrote more than 282 million prescriptions for opioid painkillers, including OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet – nearly enough for every American to have a bottle. (Chase Peterson-Withorn, “Fortune of Family Behind OxyContin” Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/chasewithorn/2016/06/29/fortune-of-family-behind-oxycontin-drops-amid-declining-prescriptions/ accessed on 9 August 2017)
Let’s discuss the corrosive proclivities that exists in the social psychological make up of American society. A pervasive sense of hopelessness in the souls of most American addicts presupposes a sort spiritual malady.
The genesis of this spiritual malady begins at a young age. We are exposed to commercials and advertisements that darken our souls with the belief that happiness is an external search. We seek money and material goods more than we seek peace, happiness and serenity, which can only be found in the deepest recesses of our minds.
The Jesuits at BC High taught me that happiness requires that we commit acts of justice–we must be “men for others”. And I never feel more fulfilled while engaging in acts of justice–particularly social justice.
And acts of economic justice are necessary to combat the socioeconomic factor in the addiction epidemic. Neoliberalism began with Reagan, and continued with Clintons and the DLC who sought to turn the Democratic Party into a fiscally conservative party.
The middle class has slowly disappeared. No jobs, the inability to take care of your family, the rampant hopelessness, all lead to drug use. (Carl Latkin, PhD.; Aaron Curry, PhD; Wei Hua, MD, MS; Melissa Davey MPH, CHES; “Direct and Indirect Associations of Neighborhood Disorder with Drug Use and High Risk Sexual Partners” American Journal of Preventative Medicine Vol. 32 Issue 6 (2007) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0749379707001110 Accessed on 16 August 17
The United Nations has been able to quantify the happiness of each country. The countries that are the most happy are Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Switzerland. What do these countries have in common: universal healthcare, union membership of 80-90%, free day care, good schools, lack of corruption in business and governance. (Retrieved from http://worldhappiness.report/ed/2017/) Essentially these countries learned–a long time ago, at around the same time we were unlearning it–that the economic power of the United States came from the strength of the middle class created by the Keynesian economic model. FDR used this model as the basis for promulgating social security and medicare.
Our friends that have succumbed to this diabolical disease are not just the victims of their genetic make up. They are the victims of a society the values money and materialism over human life. Our society is based on the lie that materialism and self-interest are the traditional traits of American Society. This is an egregious lie.
Corporations have reduced us to consumers who seek happiness through external means. When we seek happiness externally we are bound to feel the pain of an inconspicuous oppression. Corporate greed and the milieu it has created has formed a society of demoralized citizens. This demoralization of our society is the reason we have lost so many friends. Rebellion is not antonymic to The Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Are we going to fight back, or will we continue to allow the demoralization of society by corporate America? If we don’t do something about corporations that make drugs like OxyContin getting away with killing our friends, we ourselves our sinners.
MLK beautifully writes of Aquinas’ view of human law: “An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust…”
To my fellow Americans, Catholics, Christians, Jews, and Muslims, I ask you to ponder Aquinas’ view of human law. Then I ask you to ponder if laws that involve building walls, propagating homophobia, harming our planet’s environment, and banning people of a certain religion from entering this country, pass Aquinas’ test of human law: does it follow the divinely gifted natural law and uplift the human personality?
The Bill of Rights were born out of God’s Natural Law. We have a right to them. And indeed our Founders believed natural law comes from God, just as Aquinas did. John Quincy Adams writes:
The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.
Jesus, Aquinas, and The Founders sought not to divide us into factions; instead they sought to unite us under God’s Natural Law. Trump and his supporters iniquitously seek to divide us at home according to skin color, and to divide the world into the Muslim World and the West. It is a complete deviation of Catholicism, Christianity, and American Principles. Why are Trump’s critics so incensed? They are vexed that Trump and those who support him deviate so acutely from our national principles, especially when so many have fought and died for those principles.
Two wars are often cited when one speaks of men and women making the ultimate sacrifice for our natural rights bequeathed by God: The Revolutionary War and World War II. And then there are folks, who blasphemously wrap themselves in the American flag while harboring the most hateful, racist beliefs. They have not the faintest notion of what that flag represents.
They voted for a man who is antonymic to the principles that those Americans died protecting. In dying, the heroes of our nation hoped to make eternal a country rooted in God’s great, sacred, and undeniable rights–they made the ultimate sacrifice for the American values that are now under attack. The Preamble to the Constitution states:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that ALL men are created equal. That they were endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. – Thomas Jefferson
Trump does not subscribe to these fundamentally Christian and American beliefs. He has spurned equality by avouching ubiquitous racist and sexist rhetoric. Trump demonstrates his disregard for the right to life with his tax breaks to the wealthy and a vindictive drive to destroy the American Affordable Heath Care Act (Obamacare).
Obamacare has saved the 50,000 American lives (retrieved from https://www.ahrq.gov/sites/default/files/wysiwyg/professionals/quality-patient-safety/pfp/interimhacrate2013.pdf on 3 August 2017)
Even if one argues the semantics of the previously cited research, it is accurate to say that many Americans diagnosed with cancer prior to Obamacare often declared bankruptcy, sold their homes, and their possessions, just to stay alive. Obamacare keeps people in their homes, prevents people from selling their possessions, and allows them to focus on getting treatment, without worrying about securing the money necessary to pay for treatment.
Yet Trump is lobbying Congress to repeal this law without anything to replace it. Millions would lose their health insurance coverage. The Consitution guarentees the right to life; nowhere does it say that you have an undeniable right to life, if you have Blue Cross and no pre-existing conditions. His tax breaks and bloated military budget take from the “least of these” and give to those who have plenty, while ignoring our natural right to life.
Trump demonstrated on multiple levels his disdain our most sacred democratic right: the right to vote. Before his election, he cried that the system was rigged. As an excuse for losing the popular vote by 3 million votes, and as an excuse for not uniting the country after such a divisive election, he fabricated a narrative that our election was highjacked by “illegals.” Overwhelming evidence proves that he is lying to the American people when he claims that millions of illegals voted.
The highjacking of this election occurred when Trump treacherously colluded with the Russian government to damage his opponent. He has demonstrated his scorn for the sacred right that is an essential component of any healthy democracy. It is our natural right and the people’s sovereign power to elect their leader without undue, outside influence.
Every president should respect and revere God’s Natural Law set forth in both the Constitution and Christianity. Donald Trump, who constantly attacks our most sacred democratic institutions and ignores our most deeply held beliefs, such as the election process and the right to life; whose treacherous use of Russian intelligence to influence the election, which was nothing short of a coup; is antonymic to God’s Natural Law, The Constitution, and Christianity.
Paul Adams Jr.
Trump has already damaged our international reputation. His first act as Commander-in-Chief resulted in the death of an 8 year old, and the death of one of our best, a Navy SEAL, Chief Petty Officer Owens and three other injuries Yet, unlike his predecessor, Trump, most likely due to his Johns Hopkins’ diagnosis of malignant narcissism, blamed President Obama. Ironically (perhaps not for someone suffering from Trump’s personality disorder) President Obama never signed off on this raid. He questioned the wisdom of getting even more embroiled in Yemen with special forces. Trump went on to blame the generals after not getting the traction he wanted in the story that blamed Obama.
At the end of his predecessor’s presidency, the United States enjoyed an 89% rating in Germany, an 84% approval rating in France (yes, France), and a 79% approval rating in the U.K.–our most important ally. These numbers are mind blowing in how Trump managed in 8 months to turn Germany’s approval rating of 89% to 11%. France went from 79% to 14%. The UK–I’ll reiterate “our most important ally”–from 79% to 22%.
These are our allies; our fellow NATO members; the countries that are supporting our attempt (or at least our former attempt under Obama) to curb Russian aggression–the country who interfered in our election and has recently committed more cyber attacks against us; the country that invaded Georgia and Ukraine.
I do not believe this country has ever seen such blatant incompetence in The White House, especially in matters of international relations. We have gone from being the Leaders of the Free World to an isolated country whose allies are bewildered by Trump’s cozying up to the dictator we are supposed to collectively hold in check.
Trump is quite audacious to call President Obama’s foreign policy weak. President Obama decimated al Qaeda, pushed ISIS out of Iraq, and gave the order to kill bin Laden, all while increasing the popularity of the United States in the Middle East and Europe, which allowed for the genesis of nascent democratic movements in countries with ultra-conservative, inherently undemocratic Sharia Law.
President Obama allowed the Reform Party of Iran enough room to breath by pulling most troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan. This strategy resulted in the victory of the Reform Party of Iran and the ouster of one of the world’s most dangerous despots, known for chanting “death to Israel” while secretly maintaining a nuclear program: Ahmedinijad. Without firing a single shot, Obama ridded the West of one of its biggest problems. Not only did Obama’s strategy rid the world of one of its unstable despots, but for the first time since the Iranian Revolution, we have a government in place where hatred of the “Great Satan” (The US) doesn’t seem to be a requisite in serving in the government.
Yet the president did not yield from aggressively pursuing terrorists in The Middle East. Instead of wielding a sledgehammer and deploying divisions of troops on the ground and destroying cities and their infrastructures, President Obama wielded a scalpel by using targeted drone attacks (I know folks protest the morality of drone attacks, and this is an important debate) and by deploying the best trained, most disciplined, and most courageous special forces units in the world, we have successively killed the new leader of ISIS every time someone was chosen for the job. After the series of successful raids by “an elite team of American Commandos” not one of the incipient leaders wanted to take the leadership position.
His Middle Eastern Foreign Policy was the the work of a brilliant statesman. Calling it weak, was a Republican talking point that unfortunately caught on with some folks, particularly Trump supporters.
The trouble is that most Americans are too inundated with work, domestic issues, their families, or maybe even “weapons of mass distraction” to study Middle Eastern foreign policy (Even after studying it and keeping up with it for four years, I still have questions, and I definitely don’t have all the answers). So a simple sound bite, “Obama is weak on foreign policy”, although a mindless sound bite and the antithesis of the truth, was affective. And as rhetorically gifted as President Obama is, he and his surrogates were not gifted enough to explain Middle Eastern Foreign Policy in 30 second sound bites.
If jihadists are keeping Russia’s client state Syria, and, therefore, the Russian military busy why bother putting boots on the ground? And why play brinksmanship by firing Tomahawks into a Syria that contains Russian military hardware and military personnel. I may sound harsh and illiberal. I know innocent folks are getting killed, but there isn’t any good outcome for the United States. Putting US Troops in Syria would create regional unrest, propaganda for terrorist organizations, and would accomplish nothing.
Just as Saudi Arabia is our client state–and thus allowed to perpetrate some of the worst human rights’ abuses in the world–Syria is Russia’s client state–and thus, since Putin’s Russia views Western ideas of natural law and human rights as a threat to the power of the state, Syria commits even worse human rights’ abuses, such as the use of sarin gas on a civilian neighborhood. Syria most assuredly made it difficult for President Obama to sleep peacefully. It had already cost Trump some sleeplessness back in April of this year.
However, U.S. Intelligence claims no evidence exists that supports Trump’s claim that a sarin gas strike by Assad back in April of this year ever took place. The Russians even supplied the United States with the intelligence that in Khan Sheikhoum high level jihadists were planning a meet. The meeting would take place on the first floor of the building, but in the basement, Jihadi rebels had stockpiled propane, insecticides, fertilizers, chlorine, etc., forcing the local population to deal with the jihadi rebel economy.
The Russians and Assad are close to winning this war, and both are rational actors. Why use sarin gas when you just got the newly elected President Trump to agree to allow Assad to stay in power? American Intelligence said no sarin had been used–that it was the chemicals stockpiled in the basement that caused chemical poisoning. Furthermore, this was a Russian made guided missile.
Trump–despite all of his advisors advice–needed to bomb something because he alone thought there was a sarin gas strike. So his advisors told Russia and Russia told Syria about the upcoming strike. I think of the belly laughs emanating from a Russian diplomat explaining to his Syrian colleague that a bombing was being staged solely to soothe the ego of America’s megalomaniac. Syria removed its most important aircraft out of harms way. The only punishment doled out was to the American taxpayer. Assad and Putin laughed at us that night.
At least President Obama realized that sometimes the greatest move in “the three dimensional chess” that is international relations, is to not make a move until you see all the pieces on the board–until you have all of the necessary intelligence (rather than ignore the necessary intelligence). President Obama may not have had a straightforward move in Syria, but he at least did not give up. He kept our Russian adversaries busy in a Middle Eastern quagmire of their own by arming the folks he thought to be the least of the evils and of course the least threatening towards the United States. Russia undoubtedly felt the effects of the American rebels. The Russian military interceded and bombed the positions of American rebels.
It is almost comical for Trump to have audacity to call Obama weak on foreign policy. Trump has destroyed American credibility with his treatment of allies and his embracing of Putin. Let’s not forget that Obama sent weapons to the Ukrainians to fight Putin’s Russia–the country that took it upon itself to annex Crimea because the soft power that Obama wielded (more on that later) brought Ukraine over to our side.
To prevent Russia from violating the sovereignty of yet another country, he put American military hardware and American troops on Polish frontier bordering Russia, knowing that Russia would not dare to attack US troops, thus protecting the territorial integrity of Poland. Similar DMZ’s with American advisors were set up in other friendly Baltic states. With Obama at the helm, the world was on our side, once again viewing the United States as the benevolent superpower.
Then Trump with the help of Putin succeeded to the presidency. He insults our Western Allies and questions the legitimacy of NATO–the alliance with our Western allies that helped us win the Cold War. Trump alienates our NATO allies at a time when NATO’s importance is as great as it was during the height of the Cold War.
Perhaps just as distasteful is how Trump praises Putin. He truly emulates the man who single-handedly dismantled liberal democracy in Russia. Putin is one of the biggest villains we have seen since Nazi Germany.
Yet Trump wants to get along with Russia? A country that has troops in one of our ally’s sovereign territories; a country that suppresses free speech; arrests and even kills opposition leaders; a country that has no other foreign policy goal than the furthering of its own interest. Trump must be psychologically projecting when he calls Obama weak; not in the course of history have we had a president so weak. It is beyond weak: it is cowardice; it is treachery; it is ignorance.
And our friends have already had enough. The United States was isolated at the G20 Summit. We were the only country not to sign the environmental accord–it is not often that one country comes out of the G20 as the only country not to be a signatory of an agreement. These events are pre-planned by an advance of diplomats to prevent such an embarrassment. The leaders of our Western Allies did not even want to be seen with him or have their pictures taken with him.
Just like that, Trump turned Obama’s “three dimensional chess” of international relations into bowling, knocking down ally after ally. Now we find ourselves alone in the world and friendless. A friendless country, now hated by the allies that have helped us shape the world order for over 72 years, a country made weak by the lie who still o
The only foreign policy strategy that I’ve seen out of The White House is talk loudly and carry a small stick. Unless you are really ready to turn North Korea into “fire and fury” don’t say it. Trump has served to display every negative stereotype used by our enemies around the world to Bd ree c3 brainwash their citizens. He essentially gave Kim a huge win just by uttering such an idiotic phrase. The greatest president, in my opinion, was a Republican: Theodore Roosevelt. He changed the importance of the presidency and was able to achieve a far greater role for the executive branch. His words were “talk softly and carry a big stick.” TR’s stay at what he dubbed The White House, were the years America became a great power. The construction of the Panama Canal and the manufacturing an American Navy that could rival any Old Europe’s navies. Although economically progressive, he believed in a strong military. His sage advice in foreign policy, “talk softly and carry a big stick,” was adhered to by President Obama. His foreign policy prowess is something that will be reflected in American History when one studies his legacy.
It is, therefore, unfortunate that Putin is getting exactly what he wanted with Trump. After Congress–no doubt protecting its own hindquarters with November fast-approaching–passed sanctions against Russia for interfering in our election, Trump refused to sign it for a week. Trump put some serious thought about whether to be loyal to his Party or Putin. But Putin, a brilliant man, of course had his puppet sign his own Party’s legislation, especially with enough votes to override the veto. Trump was not happy about having to sign it, and he said so publicly. He essentially admitted signing the bill so that the Trump White House would not be rendered toothless. At least he’s honest about why he screwed the Russians.
But Putin already got what he wanted: A weakened West, a weakened United States that is globally hated, an incompetent White House with an undignified, offensive, obtuse president who is presiding over the loss of the superpower status of the United States, and a cabinet and staff laden with people who have worked for Putin’s interests, including a Secretary of State who considers Putin a friend.
Can the Executive Branch of The United States escape from Putin’s clutches? Will ever regain superpower status? Unless we elect a truly competent president, well-respected by the world, in four years–a person who can rebuild our relationship with Europe, reimplement Obama’s foreign policy, and explain that Trump won because of Russian interference and an antiquated electoral college system without coming across as the dreaded “apologist”–then American hegemony may be forever lost.
Our own allies publicly speak of moving on without the United States. Some Trump supporters may not care or may even celebrate our cutting ties with Europe and the rest of the world, but that is because they are philistines with no concept of international relations and the globalized economy.
The United States does not just help protect Europe because of our benignant behavior. In a globalized world of interconnected economies and limited resources, our Western Allies are just as necessary to us as we are to them. They help protect our shipping, they help us counteract Russia’s attempts to gain more-and-more natural resources (and it is important to note here that Russia uses its natural resources like oil as a form of international extortion), our Western Allies are on the front lines with Russia. helping us protect any further violations of the sovereignty of neighboring states by Russia; Europe, particularly Germany is the home of important American military bases that allow us to respond to situations rapidly; our European allies share intelligence with us; they are our allies in fighting Muslim extremism.
Furthermore, the United States has soft power (or we did have soft power until Trump single handedly destroyed it). Soft power is our ability to affect another international actor’s behavior based on the appeal of our values, based on the popular support of The United States within the country whose behavior we seek to affect, and based on whether-or-not a country views our goals as benign.
Soft power is a major asset for the United States. Ukraine’s decision to vote for a pro-Western/pro-American government was soft power at work. However, when we act against our principles soft power no longer works effectively. By praising Putin and picking Paul Manafort (yet another Trump associate connected with Putin–the rest we know of are pictured below) for a campaign manager. Manafort worked for the Russian government by expanding Russian influence in Ukraine–a US ally.
Putin has managed to interfere with our sacred democratic voting process. Putin purposely damaged a candidate who would have continued Obama’s policy as defining Russia as an adversary. He helped a man win the presidency whose obtuseness, especially with foreign policy, gives Putin what he needs to continue to behave nefariously.
Even as a candidate, Trump questioned the necessity of NATO. And since it damages our leverage and soft power, it can be assumed that with America’s low approval ratings around the world, including amongst our strongest Western European allies that Putin is planning on posing half-nude somewhere in the Russian wild.
Western-Russo relations have not been this tense since Reagan first got elected. Putin with his sociopathic brilliance sewed dissension between Western Europe and The United States–a successful divide and conquer strategy. He has plenty of Russian associates in the White House, and an American Secretary of State who met with Putin several times since 1999, made several lucrative deals with him, and was awarded the Russia Order of Friendship by Putin personally.
We may have gotten a brief break from the Cold War in the 90’s, but Reagan’s famous “Tear Down This Wall” moment, and the victory he and Pope John Paul II are credited with, was definitely not the finale to the Cold War.
Welcome to Cold War 2.0, and America we are losing. Putin an ex-KGB official and Russian Dictator used one of America’s greatest strengths as a weakness: the sacred democratic process of electing our own president. When a country interferes in our democracy to ensure the weaker candidate, Trump, who, if involved with Russia himself, has chosen many people for his inner-circle who once promoted Putin’s interest. This was nothing short of a successful coup–a coup that just might have caused the most powerful country on earth since the 40’s to lose its hegemonic status. But Putin has his weaknesses too.
The United States should continue arming Syrian rebels and draw Russia to the point where they are sending ground forces. Russia wants Syria as a client state, then let them Russia be the great evil in the eyes of ISIS and jihadists. As that happens there needs to be a build up of weapons and paramilitary forces in the Crimea. Finally, the Caucuses will disintegrate again into a conflagration. During this time period, we move one fleet into the narrow Bosporus Strait of the Black Sea. At the same time, we renew our ties with our European Allies, by electing someone personable, who believes in international liberal institutions, who treats world leaders with respect. With our Western Allies, we covertly fund the Russian opposition, and use the NSA to the best of our ability. A liberal democratic movement exists in Russia, but they are afraid of the power of the state. Weaken Putin a little through sanctions, proxy wars, and a reunited NATO, these weaknesses might make him look vulnerable at home.
America is isolated from its allies. We are embroiled in scandals that could very well prove this president the 21st century Benedict Arnold. He has ruined the dignity of the office with his immature tweets and cyber bullying. His maturity level is that of a teen. His actions are ensuring that the hardliners will continue to gain support in Iran; unlike Obama he won't stay out of the Saudi/Iran Sunni/Shia feud. He doesn't have the courage to stand up to Putin and Netanyahu–the biggest bullies in the international community who refuse to respect the sovereignty of their neighbors.
And when Israel builds settlements on Palestinian land, who do Muslims blame: The United States. That is the major reason why Wababi Muslims attempt to attack us. Netanyahu is aggressively encroaching on Palestinian sovereignty which is a danger to Israel, and to The a United States. And there's only been one President who had the brains and the balls to allow the UN to censure Israel for ignoring international law, and that's President Obama. And I get a kick out of the folks who call him anti-Semitic for allowing the censure to go through; you realize that these settlements put both the US and Israel in danger. Even a growing number of Israelis say enough-is-enough with the settlements.
Putin has violated the sovereignty of two neighboring states in recent years. Who do you think was arming the Ukrainians who were fighting the Russians?–Obama. Who promulgated sanctions against Russia?–Obama. And now who wants to be buddy buddy with the Putin and is trying to stop the new sanctions from going through?–Trump. Who has 7 associates that met with Russian men and women tied to the government during the campaign?–Trump. Come on people! Wake up! His own son met with someone with ties to the Russian government.
And I hear this argument from Trump supporters: it's good to get along with Russia. You guys sound like a reincarnation of Chamberlain. Why would we abandon our Western Allies for an adversarial country who interfered in our election; who has attacked Ukraine; who is a dictator who suppresses free press; violently stamps out any political opposition; acts solely on the self-interest and the interest of the oligarchy; who is committing cyber war against us? Are you people American? Do you believe in our sacred Democratic principles and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights written by Eleanor Roosevelt?
When President Obama was in office for 8 years, America became a world leader again. 69% of folks saw the US in a positive light. Now we're sinking down to 49%. If you think that doesn't matter, then you know nothing about international relations. Soft Power–the ability to influence nations based on trust and on the appeal of your principles–plays a very important and powerful role in international relations.
Ironically, the people that voted for Trump are some of the same people that called Obama a Muslim Terrorist despite the fact that he destroyed al Qaeda, gave the order to kill bin Laden, and forced ISIS out of Iraq.
Now we have a president who is protecting America's adversary. Who had several people meet with Russian officials during the election and conveniently forgot about it, including his own son. Yet I don't hear any outrage from Trump
supporters. You allowed an arrogant, wealthy, sorry excuse for a human being whose goal is to take away the benefits and programs of two of our greatest presidents: Theodore Roosevelt and FDR. He's cutting your benefits to give tax cuts to the wealthy, he's gutting the federal government, including TR's National Park Service, he's gutting education to ensure that more working class people are stupid enough to vote against their own interests by using racism to pit working class people against each other, and he's trying to do away with Obamacare–a bill that has saved countless lives.
So I ask you this? Are you for American values? Or are you with Trump and Russia? Pick a side. I choose The United States of America!
To be an Afro-American, or an American black, is to be in the situation, intolerably exaggerated, of all those who have ever found themselves part of a civilization which in no wise honorably defend–which they were compelled, indeed, endlessly to attack and condemn–and who yet spoke out of the most passionate love, hoping to make the kingdom new, to make it honorably and worthy of life. (James Baldwin, No Name In The Street, (1972)
James Baldwin, wrote these words in 1972. They are profoundly prophetic and apropos. I’m reminded of the political revolution led by an African American, President Obama, whose treatment by many ignorant people, including the current president, was abhorrent, slanderous, and racist.
Yet Obama did not allow racial division and hate to give way to hating; he did not allow hatred and condemnation to nix his capacity to love; he inspired unity among blacks, Hispanics, educated whites, and even among the demographic Democrats find so elusive, working class whites. We were, in the words of James Baldwin, “hoping to name the kingdom new, to make it honorably and worthy of life.”
And I am forever grateful to President Obama for renewing my hope in politics–in how it can bring about positive changes in people’s lives.
Despite the years of enslavement and persecution, African Americans have faced over the years, black people have refused to relinquish their hope. Despite the “sweltering heat of oppression” America’s black leaders have spoken and written far more eloquently than any other demographic about maintaining hope in the face of injustice–in the face of tragedy: Martin Luther King Jr., President Obama, James Baldwin, Cornell West.
I emulate the black community–a community I admire just as much as my own communinity–and I will not let the tragedy of the 2016 Election disengage me from the politics of hope bequeathed to me by the African American Prophets who, despite the many reasons to relinquish hope, including threats on their lives, continued to propagate the message that inspired a generation of Asians, Hispanics, Blacks, Whites, and all people of color to elect a president who embodied the message of unity, hope, and love in the face of injustice.
Imagine for a moment that Obama had two immigrant wives, multiple failed marriages, multiple failed businesses. Imagine Obama standing in front a sign with the campaign slogan “Make America Great Again”. Imagine that Obama refused to turn over his tax returns; had extensive ties to a foreign government that just so happens to be our greatest enemy: Russia and Putin; imagine if Lspent millions of tax dollars on maintaining three residences for the Secret Service to protect.
Trunpists are the biggest hypocrites–and racists I ever met in my life. Obama, by virtue of his odd name and his skin color was accused of being a terrorist—and according to Trump, the leader of ISIS. Yet Trump has a bromance going with a dictator who interfered with our sacred democratic process by hacking into the DNC. And what was Trump’s response to Russia: keep spying on us.
Trump’s aides and even his cabinet members met with well-known Russian spies during the course of the election, then lied about it. The same voters who called Obama un-American, a terrorist, and much worse voted for a guy who supports a nefarious dictator who interfered with our election; who is interfering with the election of our Western allies; and has trampled over the sovereignty of Ukraine and Georgia. Trump supporters have put the West in serious danger by voting for a guy who has seriously weakened America and Western Power.
If Obama had immigrant wives and failed marriages, bankrupted businesses, refused to release his tax documents-. He wouldn’t have made it through the Democratic Primary in ’08. Yet Trump somehow won the primary and electoral college. Folks are hurting, and in the age of the 30 second sound bite, where free media seems to be earned through bizarre rants that scapegoat immigrants and people of color for the financial struggle of segments of the American Electorate, Trump’s message resonated.
How would Trump supporters reacted to the man they called a terrorist, a communist, and disgusting racial epithets if he appeared on stage with a slogan that said “Make America Great Again”.
By the way, Trump is the most nefarious hypocrite in this country after calling Obama corrupt for not releasing his “long form” birth certificate–this coming from a guy that has broke with a decades long tradition of releasing his tax documents).
The fallacious right wing talking point that Obama has weakened America’s power in the world is such bullshit. Despite criticism from the left wing of his own party, he droned ISIS back to the Stone Age, assassinated its leaders with the heroic service of our Navy Seals, gave the order to kill bin Laden, and kicked ISIS’s ass out of Iraq. He gave the appearance that the United States was backing out of the Middle East, so that the Reform Party of Iran could achieve victory in Iraq (sending the madman Ahmedinijad packing), which led to the end of Iran’s nuclear program. But he did not back out of the Middle East: he used a scalpal rather than a sledge hammer. The scalpal–drones and special forces–has decimated ISIS. Anytime ISIS elected a new leader, Obama took him out. Leaderless and confused, they cannot even hold on to territory never mind plan an attack on the Homeland. The sledge hammer used by Bush and his neo-cons has destroyed the Cradle of Civilization. These pictures were taken from a friend of mine from Baghdad today:
Bushes quagmire expanded Iranian influence, and has created a hatred towards the United States that will last generations.
President Obama inherited this disaster in the Middle East, and a capitalistic system on the brink of collapse. Yet, he achieved a record of 83 straight months of job growth, expanded our economy while Europe’a shrank, and hit new records with the Stock Market. He increased America’s influence in the world with soft power (the ability to attract people and nations to one’s cause through ideological appeal. And he used hard power in a way to create the least amount of blow back; a stark difference from Trump’s indiscriminate bombings and impetuous decisions to green light missions that led to the death of an 8 year old and a Navy Seal (his sacrifice will never be forgotten).
Obama stood up to the world’s bullies, particularly Putin. Eastern Europe is the most militarized it has been since the Cold War. And now we have Trump who thinks that a sociopathic dictator help bent on weakening the West, is his buddy.
President Obama already realizes that America is great, and he was willing to defend the West from Russian aggression.
Trump does not respect American Values. A patriotic president does not call on our enemy to spy on us; he does not allow espionage to go unpunished; he does not reward a dictator that has attacked us and our Western Allies to the White House for a visit (and then egregiously attack the our 1st Ammendment right of freedom of the press by shutting out the American Press, while allowing the Russian press access; a guy with nothing to hide does not fire the non-partisan FBI Director for investigating possible ties to the Russian government; and he does not utter the words “Make America Great Again”–we already are great.
President Obama realized this, and he also cherished American Values and projected American values and strength around the world; whereas Trump I nothing more than a treasonous self-serving stooge whose Administration has been a complete and utter failure.
President Obama cherishes American values, abhorrs corruption, stood up to the world’s bullies. Trump denegrates American values, is corrupt as the day is long, and befriends the dictator who is currently attacking the West. One has to be a serious hypocrite to call President Obama unpatriotic, a terrorists, or weak, while supporting the guy who tramples freedom of speech and freedom of press and befriends the dictator who is undermining our Western Values.
“Talk softly and carry a big stick.” My favorite president, a Republican, Theodore Roosevelt applied this strategy to international relations. President Trump has reversed the order of that strategy: talk loudly, alienate our closest allies, and whittle “Eisenhower’s stick” down to a powerless twig.
I was talking to a couple of working class gentlemen the other day who supported Trump. I explained to these hard working guys that if Trump and the far right promulgate their agenda, particularly the Orwellian named “Right to Work” legislation, what is left of the working class will die off. Right to Work is an Orwellian term for the far right wing’s attempt to destroy organized labor forever.
These working class gentlemen had the same arguments in support of Trump. “He’s tough,” they said. I explained that this man is far from tough. He talks loudly and doesn’t carry a stick–the opposite of what President Roosevelt advised. He is more willing to criticize Meryl Streep than Vladimir Putin. Putin: a guy who has murdered his political enemies, destroyed free press, persecutes gays, and has dreams of restoring the Russian Empire.
Putin has trampled over the sovereignty of his neighbors in order to achieve his diabolical goals, and he will continue to do so. The only bulwark against Russian aggression is the United States and its Western allies under the NATO alliance and defense umbrella. Trump’s Russian foreign policy is weak appeasement. He wants to strip NATO of its budget and render it toothless. Any student of history realizes that appeasing a dictator like Putin–a murderer by any other name–is sheer folly. All one has to do is study the attempted appeasement of Hitler.
It angers me and frightens me that Trump has such a cozy relationship with our greatest enemy. It frightens me that NATO–the alliance that has kept the Western World the most powerful civilization in the world–is about to come to an end.
This is a victory for Russia and Putin, who not only interfered with our election, but are also interfering with the election of our Western allies. We are under attack! This is not hyperbole. And now we have a president who is nothing more than a puppet to Putin and the Russians. His cabinet is a reflection of his obsequiousness to Putin.
So to the gentlemen who think Trump is tough because he talks tough, remember the words of Theodore Roosevelt: talk softly and carry a big stick.
President Obama was tough, yet he didn’t often feel the need to talk tough. But he stood up to the world’s bullies: Putin and Netanyahu. He supplied weapons to Syrian rebels who subscribed to secularism, he sent troops and weapons to the countries bordering Russia (it is the most militarized the region has been since WWII because of President Obama), his drone program put no American military personnel in danger, yet he was able to take out our country’s most dangerous enemies, and it was the left wing of the Democratic Party that criticized him for his drone program, proving that politics should stop at the water’s edge. President Obama talked softy and carried a big stick. He didn’t go around trumpeting to the world how tough he is for doing what a president must do to protect innocent Americans.
Why? First of all, it isn’t something a president should brag about, if he has any moral standards. Secondly, he did not want to make the War on Terror seem like a clash of civilizations. He understood that if we create this narrative of a clash of civilizations, then we create more terrorists and we label innocent people as enemies. And what did Trump do when he came into office? He reinforced the clash of civilizations narrative with his incompetent immigration ban, amongst other things. And because of that, our grandchildren will be fighting a War on Terror for years to come.
We are at war with Russia, and they are winning. They’ve exploited our most sacred institution by interfering with our elections, and the result is that we have an incompetent president who thinks that our country (the country that has fought for freedom around the world, is the first to respond when another nation suffers some sort of catastrophe, the country that freed Europe from the iron grip of fascism and communism) is just as immoral and nihilistic as Putin’s Russia. And if you don’t believe me, watch the O’Reilly interview in which Trump said that we are just as morally bankrupt as Russia. It’s hard to believe that Trump is a patriot, after that blasmphemous statement. Is this the man we want leading our country while we are under attack?
We are at war: Cold War 2.0. And we are losing. Wars, especially between two nuclear powers, are not usually shooting wars. Instead our sacred institutions and our superpower status are being attacked through Russian spying and cyber attacks. These attacks are crippling the United States and our Western allies. Yet, under the new Administration, we’ve yet to hear a critique, nevermind ideas for a counterattack or sanctions.
So are we going to capitulate and accept that our president is a puppet to the Russians? Or are we going to follow in the foot steps of the men and women who died to protect our sovereignty and our right to hold elections without foreign interference ? Are we going to continue to support NATO–the alliance that has protected our superpower status since post WWII? Are we going to fight back against Russia’s act of war?
Wake up America! Trump is a puppet, an incompetent, and a malignant narcissist. The Trump Campaign engaged in message of hate and division to squeak out a win, but his pathological dishonesty leads him to believe that he didn’t really lose the popular vote . He is unprincipled and is not worthy of the office he now holds. Our first step in fighting back is to pressure our congressmen and senators to launch an independent investigation into his ties to Russia; then we vote for Republicans and Democrats in 2017 who pledge to impeach Trump for treason, incompetence, and mental instability.
The tough guy talk is a defensive mechanism for people who really aren’t tough at all and who have low self-esteem, or in Trump’s case malgignant narcissism. It is time for every true patriot, Republican and Democrat, to step up and defend their country against Russian hostility. Our veterans did not fight WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War (the latter two wars being proxy wars against the Soviet Union/Russia) just for the the greatest superpower in the world to capitulate our sovereignty to a thug: Putin. Let’s show that we are still the land of the free and “the home of the brave”; let’s once again prove to the world that the United States is the guarenter of liberal democracy, free markets, and human rights, and that anyone who violates those rights, i.e., Vladimir Putin, is an enemy to United States–an enemy to humanity.