ROGER COHEN IN THE NYT: From 9-11 To Humpty Dumpty — The Fear That Continues To Grip America — Where Is FDR When We Need Him?

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/12/opinion/9-11-trump.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20170912&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=2&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0

Cohn writes:

“I watched my president perorate at the Pentagon and all I could think as he held forth about heroism on the 16th anniversary of 9/11 was how did we end up with Humpty Dumpty.

It was Humpty Dumpty, of course, who declared: “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.” At least Humpty Dumpty said it without that repetitive thumb-to-stubby-forefinger gesture of our esteemed leader.

Words cascade from that pinched mouth and they mean nothing, because when a man of moral emptiness tries to exhort a nation to moral greatness the only thing communicated is pitiful, almost comical, hypocrisy.

Between a hero and a huckster, between speaking and mouthing, the distance is great. Watching the esteemed leader’s head turning jerkily, like an old electric fan, from teleprompter to teleprompter, I almost felt pity. His is the Age of Indecency.

. . . .

We’ve had a big fall. For the perpetrators of the attack on America, the biggest success has been the injection of fear into the national psyche. Not even they could imagine how social media could turn fear into contagion and how the politics of fear would help propel a buffoon with feral instincts to the White House.

. . . .

It’s hard to shrug off the darkening skies. The worst of 9/11, almost a generation on, is the feeling that the perpetrators won. They didn’t buckle Western freedom and democracy, but they injured them. They disoriented the West. They sucked some of the promise out of a new century.

The assassins of Abraham Lincoln and Mahatma Gandhi and John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King took the lives of great men but did not destroy their ideas. Perhaps they reinforced the immortality of those ideas. The assassin of Yitzhak Rabin and the mass murderers of 9/11 dispatched by Osama bin Laden were, however, more successful.

Yigal Amir, Rabin’s killer, uprooted the Oslo seeds of peace by assuring that Israeli Messianic-nationalist religious ideologues got the upper hand over secular pragmatists. They have never relinquished it. Bin Laden sapped America’s confidence, wove fear into the nation’s fabric, and inspired a metastasizing form of jihadi fanaticism that continues to terrorize the West in the crazed pursuit of a restored caliphate.

And Humpty Dumpty wants to build a wall he can sit on to contemplate xenophobia and Islamophobia.

. . . .

Adele was very brave through the spinal tap. Today she’s a brave young woman. They are out there: the brave, the stoical, the imaginative and the decent. Despite everything, they will have their day.”

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Yes, I believe “the brave, the stoical, the imaginative and the decent” (like the “New Due Process Army”)  will eventually win out and put America back on the path to greatness. But when, and at what cost, willthe forces of light prevail over those who would envelop us in darkness?

PWS

09-12-17

GOP’S WAR ON OUR GOVERNMENT CONTINUES — FEDS’ COMPENSATION, RETIREMENT PROGRAMS TARGETED! — GOP WOULD SOCK IT TO MIDDLE CLASS TO GIVE UNNEEDED TAX CUTS TO RICH CRONIES!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/07/18/gop-again-hits-federal-retirement-in-latest-budget-plan/?utm_term=.4446f1d6d7d6&wpisrc=nl_buzz&wpmm=1

Joe Davidson & Eric Yoder report in the Washington Post:

“The House budget proposal released Tuesday continues Republican efforts to cut federal employees’ compensation by making them pay more for retirement benefits.

Saying they seek “reforms to civil service pensions to put them on a better fiscal path,” the spending plan released by the House Budget Committee calls on staffers “to make greater contributions to their own defined benefit retirement plans.”

While the Republican’s “Plan for Fiscal Responsibility” did not provide details, it echoes previous proposals, including one offered by President Trump this year. He proposed increasing individual out-of-pocket payments toward retirement by 1 percentage point each year until they equal the government’s contribution for those in the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS).

Over a six-year period, this would result in increased payments of about 6 percent. With no increase in benefits, that would equal a 6 percent drop in pay.

The budget “blueprint” assumes that the main panel overseeing federal employment in the House will take those steps to find the $32 billion in savings over 10 years that the blueprint would require.

The budget plan released by Committee Chairwoman Diane Black (R-Tenn.) also would end the “special retirement supplement,” which pays FERS employees “the equivalent of their Social Security benefit at an earlier age.”

“These plans put the ownership, flexibility, and portfolio risk on the employee as opposed to the employer,” the GOP document says. “Similarly, federal employees would have more control over their own retirement security under this option.”

Federal employee leaders sharply disagree.

“Slashing the pay and benefits of America’s civil servants while lining the pockets of the wealthiest of the wealthy is a shameful way to govern the country and is emblematic of everything that’s wrong with this horrible budget,” said J. David Cox Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees.”

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Read the complete article with charts at the above link.

These guys are shameless. The USG’s career civil service was once a “model program” that states, private employers, and even other countries sought to emulate. It produced an overall talented, motivated, honest, and effective workforce. And, the promise of an adequate, stable, and predictable retirement program underwritten by Uncle Sam was an important part of that success.

The GOP proposes to end all of that and turn the USG into just another lousy employer more interested in his or her own welfare than the well-being of the employees who are the heart and soul of the business. Shifting risk from the “big guys” like the Government, who can actually leverage investment and insurance markets and raise revenues when necessary, to individual employees who are much less well positioned to bear that risk is immoral, not to mention stupid. You get what you pay for. Reducing government employment to the lowest common denominator will essentially make us a third world country.

I dealt with this in Immigration Court all the time. The main difference between the U.S. and countries folks were fleeing (many of which had plenty of natural and human resources) was the lack of government structure and the inability or unwillingness of government to be an “honest broker” serving the needs of the people at large. In too many countries, corrupt governments are seen as primarily furthering the power and interests of those at the “top of the pile” and keeping everyone else in line.

We once had a President who sought to create a U.S. Government of “the best and the brightest.” Sadly, those days are long gone. Ultimately, all of us, and particularly those who come after us, will pay the price for the GOP’s endemic lack of vision and decency and their failure to honor and appreciate the massive contributions of career civil servants to to overall success of our nation.

PWS

07-18-17

 

U.S. Kids Rally At White House Against Trump’s Deportation Agenda — “Don’t make us orphans in our own country!”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/immigrant-kids-white-house-protest_us_58f0069ee4b0da2ff85f9183?r9b&ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

Michael McAuliffe reports in HuffPost:

“WASHINGTON — American children whose parents are undocumented immigrants brought a heartrending plea to the White House and President Donald Trump on Thursday: Don’t make us orphans in our own country.

The kids, among dozens who were organized by the group We Belong Together, fear that Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration could deport their parents, even if they haven’t run afoul of the law in any other way.

Deportations dramatically increased during the Obama administration, but the focus was on immigrants who had committed serious crimes. The Trump administration’s orders stepping up enforcement include just about anyone.

Those undocumented immigrants often have American children. And they are afraid.

“I live with the fear of being separated from my mother every day,” said Leah, an 11-year-old from Miami whose mother is a domestic worker facing a deportation order.

“It is like when somebody you care about can die at any moment,” she added, standing outside the White House, accompanied by activists and other kids.  “Why can’t I just enjoy being a kid? I cannot sleep or do my homework. All I can think about is my mother being taken away from me. I am so worried about my life.”

A mom of two children who is in hiding narrowly avoided likely deportation in February, when she sought sanctuary in a Denver chuch. Jeanette Vizguerra, who has reported to Immigration and Customs Enforcement regularly for 20 years while she sought a visa to escape violence in Mexico, fled a hearing on her case when her advocates noticed a squad of police apparently ready to arrest her.

“My mom has been going through the struggle of getting threatened and us getting scared by ICE,” said her son, Roberto, 10.

I think it’s not fair for children to be living in fear or for parents not to be able to be with their children,” said her daughter, Luna, 12.

While those children and others all spoke of the worry they have of their own government, they also declared they would not relent in their bids to keep their families and other kids’ families whole.

“I want to tell Mr. Trump that he is a bully, and no matter how mean he is, and no matter how hard he tries, he will never break out spirit,” Leah said. “We are not afraid of you.”

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What kind of country makes “orphans of their own children?” What kind of national values do these “instill fear” programs represent? Whatever happened to the positive national values set forth by FDR and JFK?

Way back before there were Presidents, an inspirational leader once said:

“Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”

Luke 18:16

Not a bad thing to think about on Good Friday and over Easter weekend.

Sadly, some of today’s leaders seem to have shifted the message to “let me make the little children suffer.” Wonder what He would have thought about that?

PWS

04-14-17