An Intolerable Publication

An Intolerable Publication

Sorry, folks. But today I stand with President Trump, and after you’ve read through this blog post I would hope that you’ll all do the same.

So, what has led me to this unusually supportive attitude towards a man who once bragged about grabbing women by the p***? Well, the answer is pretty straightforward: There IS such a thing as crossing the line when it comes to lambasting the president.

Village, a well-known political and cultural magazine based in Ireland, just released a new cover story that has the President of the United States in the crosshairs. And I mean that literally. The magazine has published a picture of the president with crosshairs placed over his left temple, accompanied by the following headline: WHY NOT. The article reads: “We have one of the worst men in the most powerful position, one where he can do damage to millions, to billions, to the planet. … So perhaps the solution is tyrannicide. As he might say himself – ‘take him out.”

This story is sure to cause a great deal of controversy. And for good reason. To suggest that assassinating the president would be an OK thing to do is not only disgraceful and deplorable, but also an enormous mistake on the part of the magazine’s editorial team.

The publication is sure to be met with immediate backlash over the piece, and it will be well-deserved. You can never win a political argument by wishing death on your opponent. It undermines your credibility and your ideas could permanently be cast aside. I expect the magazine’s editors to come out and give some sort of reasonable explanation as to why they decided to go ahead with the publication of this unfortunate cover story. Sadly, whatever their statement reads, it will be pointless. The damage has been done.

The only thing that this story will accomplish is to strengthen Trump’s voter base and their support for the president, which will cripple progressive efforts and their struggle to defeat the president’s extremist agenda.

Liberals and progressives must put aside name-calling and petty attacks on President Trump, and focus on developing new ideas that appeal to a larger population. Only then we’ll stand a greater chance of vanquishing this administration.

I’m hopeful that Village will issue an apology sooner rather than later so we can all move on from this unfortunate incident and engage in the only battle that counts: The battle of ideas.

And the Old Empire Stood Up to the Tyrant

And the Old Empire Stood Up to the Tyrant

Recent developments at home and abroad have forced me to use the words “perplexed” and “unprecedented” an awful lot, lately. This time, however, the context is quite different. Today, in a sudden break from the constant stream of bad news inundating my newsfeed the British Parliament has announced that it won’t allow President Trump to address both houses of Parliament during his planned state visit to the United Kingdom. The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, announced today in response to a question from the opposition that he “would not wish to issue an invitation to President Trump to speak in the Royal Gallery”. Mr. Bercow’s remarks come as a surprise to many, and I would’ve paid anything, and I mean ANYTHING, to have seen Mr. Trump’s face following this historic announcement.

The British Parliament has never denied a foreign leader the honor of addressing Westminster, especially once the Prime Minister has issued an official invitation for a visit. This is anything but good news for the President of the United States. When the Parliament of one of your closest allies turns its back on you and in doing so effectively humiliates you in front of the whole world, you have no choice but to reexamine that relationship and deduce the causes of this unfortunate end result. Then of course, that is something only a normal leader would do. And Trump is anything but normal.

Here’s a transcript of Speaker Bercow’s remarks:

“An address by a foreign leader to both houses of Parliament is not an automatic right, it is an earned honor. Moreover, there are many precedents for state visits to take place to our country which do not include an address to both houses of Parliament. Now, in relation to Westminster Hall, there are three keyholders to Westminster Hall: The Speaker of the House of Commons, the Speaker of the House of Lords, and the Lord Great Chamberlain. Ordinarily, we are able to work by consensus and the hall would be used for a purpose such as an address or another purpose by agreement of the three keyholders. I must say that before the imposition of the migrant ban, I would myself have been strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall. After the imposition of the migrant ban by President Trump, I am even more strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall. So far as the Royal Gallery is concerned, it is in another part of the building, although customarily an invitation to a visiting leader to deliver an address there would be issued in the names of the two Speakers. I would not wish to issue an invitation to President Trump to speak in the Royal Gallery“.

“We value our relationship with the United States. If a state visit takes place, that is way beyond and above the paygrade of the Speaker. However, as far as this place is concerned, I feel very strongly that our opposition to racism and to sexism and our support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary are hugely important considerations in the House of Commons”.

Before I continue, it would be worth noting that up until he became the Speaker of the House of Commons in 2009, Mr. Bercow was a fervent member of the Conservative Party, a reminder that this unprecedented move has nothing to do with politics. It’s simply about doing what’s right.

Mr. Bercow’s remarks echo what many in the UK and across Europe think and feel about this president. They don’t like him, and worst of all, they don’t seem to have any respect for him. And who could blame them? This man has singlehandedly alienated an entire nation and its closest allies. On top of that, he’s constantly reminding us that diplomacy, good manners, dignity and decency are values that no longer belong in the White House. The president reaches new lows every single day.

I would hope that today’s unusual announcement serves as a wake up call for a man who doesn’t seem to know what he’s doing or what his job truly entails. But then again, hope is for fools.

Watch the Speaker’s full remarks here.

A Sign of Things to Come

A Sign of Things to Come

Wow. It’s been quite a long time since I got my hands on this keyboard typing away and sharing my thoughts on whatever nonsense the world was delighting us with. A lot has happened in this country and around the world since the last time I published something on this blog and you might be wondering what brought me back. And the answer is simple: Too much craziness accumulated.

For starters, Donald Trump won an upset victory that many didn’t see coming (Yes, that happened and yes, I’m sorry to remind you of that). After that, everything began to unfold. Protests broke out and false realities became the norm. Soon after the inauguration, the new White House began signing executive orders with the potential of dramatically altering the path to social and economic progress that the previous administration had worked so hard to establish. Undoing trade agreements, scapegoating immigrants, alienating our closest allies, and closing our doors on those who need our help the most have become signature policies of the new administration in less than two weeks. And now, and under the orders of right-wing extremist Steve Bannon, President Trump seems to have accomplished what no POTUS has ever been able to accomplish: To seemingly say and do whatever he wants without fearing the consequences.

The sad truth is that, for now, Trump will get a free ride. It doesn’t matter how hard we all work to disprove Trump’s “alternative facts”. His supporters will always stand by his side no matter what he does or says (Remember when he said he wouldn’t lose any votes even if he shot someone in the middle of 5th avenue? Well, he was right). The fact is that the only people who can stop him is the Republican establishment. After all, the GOP controls the Congress and over 2/3s of the state governments. It’s been too long since the last time Republicans had so much decision-making power on their side and they aren’t going to let that go to waste.

Nevertheless, whether or not Trump succeeds in continuously deceiving the public for a whole term in office, his deeds remain just as frustrating and disgraceful.

And now, to the two recent developments truly responsible for ending my patience and bringing me back online. I guess you all still remember Trump’s “drain the swamp” slogan. Yes, his supporters used to chant that during his rallies. They would put up signs and chant along with their beloved leader. Those were some good times, huh. I don’t think he ever thought he would ever have to keep his promises. After all, did he really think he was going to win? Well, as fate would have it he’s now in office and I guess it’s time to start draining that swamp. Or is it?

On Friday it was reported that Eric Trump had embarked on a business trip to Uruguay where he was accompanied by a Secret Service security detail and US embassy staff. To everyone’s surprise, the trip is reported to have cost taxpayers nearly $100,000. Now, wait. I thought Eric Trump was running a business empire the president had “divested” from. What is a private citizen doing conducting private business abroad with the assistance of public officials and publicly funded security guards? Is this really the new normal now? Are they playing us all for fools? The swamp hasn’t been drained. It’s overflowing.

While the news of Eric Trump doing business in South America at the expense of the taxpayers shocked many, the president had a lot more in store for us. In an interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly yesterday, Donald Trump made it crystal clear not only that he doesn’t wish to serve as the President of the United States, but also that he will never put the interests of this county first. In a truly unprecedented statement, the Commander in Chief called the USA out on past mistakes. And he did it for Putin. In a response to O’Reilly’s claims that Russia’s authoritarian president is a “killer” who has authorized the murder of journalists and dissidents in his country, Trump said the following:

“There are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?”

You heard, or rather, read right. A US President publicly standing up in defense of a decades-long foe of the United States and criticizing his own country at the same time. Can someone explain to me what’s going on? What kind of president is he? This is perhaps the most anti-American statement ever made by a US President.

Trump’s first two weeks in office have been a total disaster, and they’re a sign of things to come. If he weren’t the president, this whole thing would actually be kind of fun. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. His decisions will make a difference and we’ll all have to live with them. Unless something unexpected happens, the next four years are going to be tough. But please, don’t lose heart. Now it’s the time to stand up and speak out. Remember, every cloud has a silver lining.

Death of the Muckrakers

Death of the Muckrakers

“The meat would be shoveled into carts, and the man who did the shoveling would not trouble to lift out a rat even when he saw one—there were things that went into the sausage in comparison with which a poisoned rat was a tidbit. There was no place for the men to wash their hands before they ate their dinner, and so they made a practice of washing them in the water that was to be ladled into the sausage. There were the butt-ends of smoked meat, and the scraps of corned beef, and all the odds and ends of the waste of the plants, that would be dumped into old barrels in the cellar and left there. Under the system of rigid economy which the packers enforced, there were some jobs that it only paid to do once in a long time, and among these was the cleaning out of the waste barrels. Every spring they did it; and in the barrels would be dirt and rust and old nails and stale water—and cartload after cartload of it would be taken up and dumped into the hoppers with fresh meat, and sent out to the public’s breakfast.”

This quote from Upton Sinclair’s 1906 novel ‘The Jungle’ became one of the most influential publications of the Progressive Era, a period of unparalleled social and political reform across the United States and sadly a period almost nonexistent in the minds of many Americans. ‘The Jungle’ tried to illustrate the inhumane, unsanitary conditions thousands of workers in the meatpacking industry were forced to work under around the turn of the past century. Sinclair’s exposé became an immediate hit. The book’s influence was so widespread that it even led President Teddy Roosevelt to promulgate a series of major groundbreaking industry reforms, including the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act. Apparently, Roosevelt became mighty disgusted by ‘The Jungle’s findings while reading a copy of Sinclair’s novel during a breakfast at the White House. He was so outraged that only four months after the book’s publication Congress was already working on passing legislation to regulate the food industry in America.

Roosevelt’s actions against the meatpacking industry signified a turning point for American capitalism. Corporations were no longer going to be left unchecked. For the first time in American history, the government was getting ready to play a vital role in the economy. Prior to Roosevelt’s reforms, the American government did very little other than overseeing the nation’s foreign affairs. Capitalism was producing an enormous amount of wealth, but the rapid pace at which the economy grew was creating a whole new set of problems. Child labor, overcrowded factories, extremely long hours for extremely low wages, and the appalling sanitary conditions of the factories had journalists like Upton Sinclair deeply concerned, so they decided to take action.

Thus began the rise of the “muckrakers”. During the Roosevelt years, this term was used to refer to reform-minded investigative journalists who were dedicated to expose as much corporate and political corruption as they could. Feared by a large part of the ruling class, the muckrakers used popular magazines and newspapers to spread the word and inform the public about the ills of society. The success of ‘The Jungle’ turned Upton Sinclair into one of the most prominent muckrakers of his time. Roosevelt, who is often credited for coining the term “muckraker”, was never a big admirer of  Sinclair. In fact, he once referred to Sinclair as a “crackpot” who is “hysterical, unbalanced, and untruthful”. Of course, that all changed with the release of ‘The Jungle’. Roosevelt was known for his stubbornness and belligerent personality, but that didn’t keep him from facing the truth when presented with the facts, a trait desperately needed in today’s politicians.

Muckrakers played a vital role in shaping the America we know today, and their influence didn’t stop with the implementation of ethical rules at manufacturing plants. Their work also led to the end of Standard Oil’s monopoly over the oil industry and to the creation of the first child labor laws in the United States circa 1916. We owe these guys big time. Sadly, muckraking is no longer what it used to be. I would even go as far as to say that muckraking no longer exists.

If there’s something I’ve learned from this campaign is that the world of journalism has stopped being objective altogether. Journalists no longer strive for independence. They don’t seek the uncovering of any wrongdoings. Instead, they break bread with the elites. They’ve given up fighting for neutrality and they’re all too happy to support the status quo.

Tonight Washington D.C.’s political big shots and renown journalists of all stripes will gather for their annual White House Correspondents dinner. President Obama will probably delight us with a couple of amusing jokes, but this event represents nothing more than the all too obvious existing partnership between the powerful and the media.

Free press is necessary for two reasons: Keeping the people informed and spreading the word to fight corruption and immorality. The latter, unfortunately, is no longer a priority.

I pray so that sooner rather than later the muckrakers of our time will wake up to serve the people with independence. We desperately need our very own Upton Sinclairs.

#VoteBlueNoMatterWho

#VoteBlueNoMatterWho

First off, if you’re a Republican reading this post, you might’ve already realized that this doesn’t necessarily concern you. Feel free to finish reading, of course, but my message today is intended for all Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents out there who might be thinking about not voting in November if their candidate loses the nomination.

Whoever your preferred candidate is, the math is clear: Bernie Sanders will not become the Democratic Party’s nominee for President. There are still 1246 delegates up for grabs in the primary, but Hillary only needs a little over 200 more to secure the nomination. At this point there’s very little that Sanders can do to stop her from reaching that threshold. He has run a hell of a campaign, though. His message on poverty and income inequality has resonated with millions of people across America, and I think that message is here to stay. No matter what happens with Bernie in the coming months, every Democrat should be grateful to him for starting a much needed conversation in this country: The status quo doesn’t work when most Americans struggle to pay for college and medical bills while the top 1% is in control of a big chunk of the wealth.

Anyone who’s been keeping up with this blog will know that I’m not a big fan of Hillary. The truth is I started to dislike her the moment she announced her run for the nomination, and not because I thought she would make a terrible President. No, I dislike Hillary because it seems to me that power always falls in the hands of the same small set of people. America is the oldest democracy in the world, but somehow it has managed to have two Bushes and (probably) two Clintons as Presidents in just over twenty years (I’m assuming Hillary will win because there is no way Trump or Cruz will. I mean, there’s just no way. Those two guys are pure nutjobs!).

It’s always the folks from the wealthiest families and who go to the best schools that get to run this country, and I’m sick of it. Sanders became so appealing because he represents none of that. He’s just like any of us, and I really wanted to see an average Joe like him in a position of true power. Unfortunately, the country isn’t ready to make way for a new generation of leaders.

Anyway, that’s the end of my rant.

I’m sure a lot of you share my grievances and feel disappointed that Bernie couldn’t break through the wall put up by party elites, but remember this: For the sake of progress, this country desperately needs a Democrat as the next President. And if that Democrat’s name is Hillary Clinton, so be it. Sanders himself said, “on her worst day, Hillary Clinton will be an infinitely better candidate and President than the Republican candidate on his best day”.

Having said that, I encourage Mrs. Clinton to embrace part, if not all, of Bernie’s message during the presidential campaign. Sanders’ support numbers consistently show that Hillary is not as strong a candidate as many are trying to make us think she is. Clinton desperately needs to widen her appeal, and making Sanders her running mate is her best option.

To all of you liberals and progressives out there: Come November, don’t let your anger and disappointment get the best of you. A united Democratic Party is bound to win this election. The Obama administration has made a lot of progress in important areas like education and healthcare by easing the burden of student debt on college students and by expanding health insurance coverage to millions of Americans. Only a Democrat in the White House can guarantee that we continue on that path, the path to progress and opportunities for all. That is why come November, #VoteBlueNoMatterWho.

90 and in Love

90 and in Love

This year’s electoral season is without a shred of doubt one of the most politically divided in recent memory. The GOP is falling apart as Donald Trump’s quick rise through the ranks has party leaders clueless about what to do and literally praying so that Trump’s likely-to-get 1237 delegates all get flat tires and don’t make it to the convention in Cleveland this summer. The Democrats, although objectively engaged in more constructive debates, also have had their own share of ugly face-offs. The point is that there are very few positive adjectives in the dictionary to describe this primary season. Very few. In fact, these are some of the most common words used by the media to report on the campaign:

-Nasty
-Despicable
-Rotten
-Reprehensible
-Shameful
-Infantile
-Tense
-Ugly
-Embarrassing
-Degrading
-…

As I said, very few positive adjetives can be used to illustrate what’s going on in the primaries. Now, I know politicians are expected to get dirty during elections; a sad but inevitable fact. But come on, don’t you all think the people deserve a break from all this negativity from time to time? Well, that’s exactly why today I chose to comment on the most heartwarming story I’ve read in a long time.

When was the last time you met someone age 90 and in love for a second time? That is the case of former Pennsylvania senator Harris Wofford, who just announced he would be getting married to long-time partner Matthew Charlton, 50 years his junior. The former Democratic senator would’ve never expected to find love so late in life (really, would any of you?), but there you have it.

A lot of you might be wondering about the age difference. 50 years is a long time, and when it comes to love relationships well, let’s just say that a 50-year age difference between the groom and the other groom is the last thing anyone would expect in a wedding, but to quote senator Wofford, “that’s a part of the magic of love”.

This is not senator Wofford’s first encounter with true love, though. In 1948 a 22-year old Wofford married Clare Lindgren, with whom he spent nearly fifty years of his life together. In 1996 Clare died of leukemia, leaving behind Wofford along with their three children. “Clare and I fell in love trying to save the world during World War II”, Wofford wrote of his relationship with his late wife. “And our romance and adventure continued for five decades”.

Twenty-one years after his wife’s passing, senator Wofford has been given a new chance at love and he’ll soon be exchanging vows with Mr. Charlton, a man. Yes, a man. So what?

Now, I would like to end on a hopefully not too controversial a note. Harris Wofford’s story has reinforced my belief that maybe, just maybe, there is no such thing as being “gay” or being “straight”. I believe love takes many forms, and it is not the same for any man or woman. Who would have told senator Wofford fifty years ago, when he was happily married to his wife, that one day he would marry someone of the same sex? A lot of you won’t agree with me on this one. I respect that. But, I do believe this is something that could happen to any of us. And it’s a beautiful thing.

Anyway, I hope you’ll all join me in wishing the grooms a happy, healthy and long marriage together.