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Donald Thinks D-Day Is About Him

From The New York Times, by Roger Cohen:

PARIS — How small he is! Small in spirit, in valor, in dignity, in statecraft, this American president who knows nothing of history and cares still less and now bestrides Europe with his family in tow like some tin-pot dictator with a terrified entourage.

To have Donald Trump — the bone-spur evader of the Vietnam draft, the coddler of autocrats, the would-be destroyer of the European Union, the pay-up-now denigrator of NATO, the apologist for the white supremacists of Charlottesville — commemorate the boys from Kansas City and St. Paul who gave their lives for freedom is to understand the word impostor. You can’t make a sculpture from rotten wood.

It’s worth saying again. If Europe is whole and free and at peace, it’s because of NATO and the European Union; it’s because the United States became a European power after World War II; it’s because America’s word was a solemn pledge; it’s because that word cemented alliances that were not zero-sum games but the foundation for stability and prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic.

Of this, Trump understands nothing. Therefore he cannot comprehend the sacrifice at Omaha Beach 75 years ago. He cannot see that the postwar trans-Atlantic achievement — undergirded by the institutions and alliances he tramples upon with such crass truculence — was in fact the vindication of those young men who gave everything.

As Eisenhower, speaking at the Normandy American Cemetery, last resting place of 9,387 Americans, told Walter Cronkite for the 20th anniversary of the D-Day landings: “These people gave us a chance, and they bought time for us, so that we can do better than we have before.”

That was a solemn responsibility. For decades it was met, culminating with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Doing better, however, is not rising nativism, xenophobia, nationalism and authoritarianism given a nod and a wink by the president of the United States. It’s not Brexit, Britain turning its back on the Europe it helped free.

The American moral collapse personified by Trump is not “beautiful” or “phenomenal” or “incredible” or any of the president’s other clunky two-a-penny superlatives. It’s sickening and dangerous.

My impression here is that Europe has gotten used to Trump to the point that it is no longer strange that the American president is a stranger. In less than two and a half years Trump has stripped his office of dignity, authority and values.

His foreign policy increasingly consists of a single word, “tariffs.” His contempt for allies undermines American diplomacy, or whatever is left of it, from Iran to North Korea, from Venezuela to China. His trampling of truth is so consistent that when he says in London that Britain is the largest trading partner of the United States — it’s nowhere near that — the impulse is to shrug.

Before arriving in London, Trump set the tone. He mocked the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, as short. It was a tweet in keeping with the president’s signature stunt as schoolyard bully. Khan, who had criticized “rolling out the red carpet” for Trump, responded by comparing the president to an 11-year-old.

This was generous. Most 8-year-olds know better.

Of course Khan — the brown Muslim son of a bus driver, self-made guy — would get under the skin of a man like Trump, who was born on third base and imbibed his reflexive racism in the family real estate business.

Khan called Trump’s policies — on the reproductive rights of women, on immigrant children at the Mexican border, on “amplifying messages from racists” — the antithesis of Londoners’ values and “abhorrent.” In response, Trump tweeted that Khan was as bad as the “very dumb” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, “only half his height.”

There is something so disturbing about a very small man like Trump impugning the height of the mayor of the great international city he is visiting that even 28 months of progressive inurement to his outrages feels inadequate.

America is much better than this, much better than an American president who, as the cartoonist Dave Granlund suggested, probably thinks the D in D-Day stands for Donald and spends the night of the commemoration trashing Bette Midler on Twitter.

As for the Republican Party, don’t get me started. To recover its bearings the G.O.P. would do well to recall one of its own, Eisenhower, who in that same 20th-anniversary interview said that America and its allies stormed the Normandy beaches “for one purpose only.”

It was not to “fulfill any ambitions that America had for conquest.” No, it was “just to preserve freedom, systems of self-government in the world.” It was an act, in other words, consistent with the highest ideals of the American idea that Trump and his Republican enablers seem so intent on eviscerating.

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Hey, Let ‘Em Dig Some Beautiful, Clean Coal. Who Needs School Anyway?

From The Hill:

Stephen Moore, whom President Trump has floated for an open seat on the Federal Reserve Board, said in newly unearthed comments that he supported removing many child labor laws.

“I’m a radical on this, I’d get rid of a lot of these child labor laws. I want people starting to work at 11, 12,” Moore said during a debate on the minimum wage in 2016.

Image result for child labor

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Some Thoughts on Earth Day

By Nathaniel Rich, author of “Losing Earth”:

“Everything is changing about the natural world and everything must change about the way we conduct our lives. It is easy to complain that the problem is too vast, and each of us is too small. But there is one thing that each of us can do ourselves, in our homes, at our own pace — something easier than taking out the recycling or turning down the thermostat, and something more valuable. We can call the threats to our future what they are. We can call the villains villains, the heroes heroes, the victims victims and ourselves complicit. We can realize that all this talk about the fate of Earth has nothing to do with the planet’s tolerance for higher temperatures and everything to do with our species’ tolerance for self-delusion. And we can understand that when we speak about things like fuel-efficiency standards or gasoline taxes or methane flaring, we are speaking about nothing less than all we love and all we are.”

 

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And Now For Something Completely Different…

The Virtual Paintout is back after a long hiatus this year.

(Check out the link in my blog roll on the right of the page.)

Each month Bill Guffey, the wonderful artist who runs the whole shebang, picks a spot somewhere on the planet for artists of all stripes to convene and travel the streets via Google Street View and then submit their artwork of the spots they find interesting.

The choice this last month was the U.S. Virgin Islands.

My husband of 42 years passed away in June. He always encouraged me in my artwork and had been after me to get back into it, but his months long illness and radiation treatments took their toll on both of us and I just didn’t have the will to do that.

So when Bill started up his website again in August, I thought I’d give it a go. I didn’t have quite yet what it takes to do a full blown painting, so I found this rooster strutting his stuff in front of a house and did a quick sketch using color markers. And here it is.

I call this one “Funky chicken.”

funky chicken

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You Tiny, Tiny Man

From The Washington Post:

U.S. flags at the White House returned to full-staff on Monday morning as the nation continued to mourn the death of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

The flags were lowered Saturday night following McCain’s death from brain cancer, but Trump did not issue a proclamation calling for flags to remain at half-staff for an extended period, such as through the day of the senator’s interment.

The U.S. code calls for flags to be lowered in the event of the death of a member of Congress “on the day of death and the following day.” But presidents have the power to issue proclamations extending that period.

Presidential historian Michael Beschloss called the move “sickening” during an appearance on MSNBC. Conservative commentator Bill Kristol, meanwhile, wrote on Twitter: “The White House is now an island of bitterness and resentment in a nation united in respect and appreciation.” Others on Twitter responded using the hashtag #NoRespect.

 

View image on Twitter

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Suffer the Little Children…

The ever-expanding sexual abuse scandals involving the Catholic church have been in the news for days now.
It’s time to re-post part of a piece (“A Tale of Two Pedophiles”) in which I wrote about my encounter in the late 1980’s with Father Oliver O’Grady.
Unfortunately, it seems nothing has changed in the wake of that scandal:

Thoughts of Jaycee Dugard brought up my brief brush with one of the worst pedophiles the Catholic church has known to date.  His name is Father Oliver O’Grady, who spent years being shuttled from one diocese to another even though the hierarchy of the church knew he was molesting children.  He finally wound up as the parish priest in a small town in Calaveras county, California.  I was working as a dental hygienist for a local dentist and Father O’Grady happened to be one of our patients.

The dentist I worked for was a devout Catholic.  My employer was, on the whole, a nice fellow who felt strongly about his convictions.  He had anti-abortion posters hung quite visibly in his lab where patients would see them as they were escorted to their dental chairs.  Some patients took offense at being subjected to something like that in a dental office and angrily left the office–and in some cases they left the practice itself.  To me, this dogmatism on his part was like wearing a pair of blinders which allowed you to see only what you were supposed to see.

Often the dentist, his assistant and I would have lunch at a nearby sandwich shop.  On some occasions the dentist’s wife would join us.  At one of these informal lunches we were talking about water wells; a common topic in rural areas where having a good well is essential to life itself.  I happened to mention that a neighbor of mine, whose father was half Native American, taught me how to dowse for water with a forked branch.  The usual term for that was “water witching”, a skill that even the men who worked for our local electric company, PG & E, knew how to do.

My employer turned to me and said, very serious and straight-faced, “Isn’t that witchcraft?”  At first I thought he was kidding, but quickly realized he wasn’t.  I was nonplussed and stammered something about “No, it’s just something you feel.”  The dentist’s wife was in our little group and she tried to smooth things over a bit, but I have to say I was taken aback that someone in our modern age would bandy about the charge “witchcraft.”

Now, post-Palin anti-witchcraft blessing ceremonies, I’m no longer surprised.

I mention all of this in regard to Father O’Grady only to make the point that while my employer was looking behind the dental chair for imaginary witches, here we had a man who was actually doing unspeakable things with children.  Father O’Grady was a figure of authority and power, as was the diocese that sent him to this unsuspecting little hamlet.  Everyone in my office fell all over himself in deference to this man when he came in for his appointments.  It was “Father this…” and “Father that…” but no one had the slightest clue that he had been molesting children for years and the powers that be knew about it, but kept it hidden.

The sadly laughable thing about it was that he was such a little milquetoast of a man when I finally did meet him.  I took an immediate dislike to him because he would not look me in the eye.  What kind of a priest won’t look you in the eyes?  Aren’t the eyes windows into the soul?  Father O’Grady’s soul was hidden from view.  There was too much ugliness there.

Father O’Grady as he looked sometime around when I met him.

2005_07_13_Russell_BlindEye_ph_Oliver_OGrady

It was several years after I left that practice that the whole story surrounding Father O’Grady came to light.  I could only imagine what they thought at my old dental office.  Had real evil replaced the imaginary?  I somehow doubt it.  Excuses were made all along the line for the transferring of O’Grady from one place to the next, without punishment or warning.  The man involved in Jaycee Lee Dugard’s abduction seems to have had every break in the books also.  It shouldn’t have taken so long in either Garrido’s case or Father O’Grady’s for someone to step up and put a stop to the abuse.

The kids deserved better.