Dick Bernard: The President Speaks….

There is a great deal to be said, after last night. Some of my opinion follows (there will be more said as time goes on.) A distillation of national opinions I always like is Just Above Sunset, this mornings edition here.
1. Probably the best commentary about the President’s speech last night is that the New York Stock Exchange index is up 341 points as I write, to over 21,000.
Personal opinion: when the Stock Market is “Bullish on America”, the people who cannot afford to play in it, which is the vast majority of us, should be very nervous. The big shots smell money to be made – lots of it. The upper echelons of Capitalism have always thrived during crisis times, including economic collapses (“buy low, sell high”) and most especially, war. The rest of us don’t have the resources or the expertise to play the game. Not that long ago, it is best to remember September, 2008. After eight years of war and false “prosperity”, even the Bush administration was very worried that the economy was going to collapse, and it very nearly did.
President Obama inherited a huge economic hole in 2009, and did his best, against united opposition, to fill it. Best this not be forgotten, ever.
The current occupant inherited his self-reported success coming into the Presidency from the work of President Obama, and he is now claiming the victories as his – and has a floor from which to begin to construct the next basement. All indications are that the sole objective is more riches for the already very, very rich, and panic for the rest of us.
The major issues I am and will be watching:
2. The Assault on “Immigrants” of all sorts, and on the Right to Vote and Participate in Democracy. An excellent long article about what is ahead is this one from New York Times Magazine.
We are a nation of immigrants. And we have a habit of assaulting newcomers: Catholics, Irish, Germans, Jews etc., etc., etc.
Yesterday, I did a quick “trip” through my own immigrant history:
One Grandfather was an immigrant (1894). I knew him well.
Of the Great-Grandparents:
Four of six were immigrants (early 1850 to early 1870s)
The other two Great-Grandparents remained in their home country.
Yesterday, about the time the President was speaking, a friend wrote an e-mail on return from two weeks at a U.S.-Mexico border facility, including this: “I have never had an experience like this… Last night a woman came to the shelter from Guatemala who had carried her paraplegic son to the US. What is happening is truly horrific.” I have asked my friend to write more, and I hope she will, for this space.
Meanwhile, back home here in the good old U.S. of A, I could watch on none other than the National Geographic Channel a series on “Border Wars” which makes it seem like hordes of Mexicans and evil others are invading us. It is easy to see how such stories get spread. All you have to do is watch TV. There is no perspective at all.
By personal feeling, I’m an internationalist: we are not and cannot be a free-standing king of the world. We are part of the greater world, subject to global things, like climate change, disease and the like, and we need to come to grips with our role as a world citizen.
We will see how an authoritarian leader who is cozy with the White Christian Nationalist philosophy will deal with supposedly inferior others, as he “makes America great again”.
3. The Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”). To my recollection, there was not a single Republican vote in favor of the Affordable Care Act when it was enacted. Then there were over 50 ceremonial repeal actions in the House of Representatives. “Obamacare” was hated.
Now there is talk about improving this supposed “disaster”, which people have come to value.
The real victims, if the act is repealed, then substantially changed, will be the people who struggle to survive. These are people who have no political power. People like ourselves have to stand up for them…and by extension for ourselves.
4. Our “White Christian Nation”. Make no mistake, this administration is warm to the white nationalists, for reasons which are easily noted by even casual study of the news.
In point of fact, we have never been a “White Christian Nation”.
Those who came before essentially eliminated the native Americans, here long before us; and then banished the survivors to “Reservations”, and if the Reservations happened to be on valuable land, new Treaties were signed, or the land was simply taken. One opinion, here: Native Am Genocide001
This is our white legacy. Most of us, including myself, have benefited from this action, which mostly took place in the 1800s, but was true from the beginning.
Can we forget the African slaves who built this country, and Chinese coolies, and French-Canadians laborers in mills of the northeast, exclusion of Jews, and on and on and on. Slaves were counted as people only to the extent that they added to the population, and thus political power, of several states. It was right there in the Constitution of the United States. (Article I “Representatives…shall be apportioned…according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound for service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other persons.” (This language was eliminated by the XIV Amendment of 1868, over 80 years after adoption.)
Last night we were at a school concert in what is essentially a “white” community, but in the choirs I saw African-American kids and at least two girls in traditional Moslem dress, singing like all the others.
The “Christian” piece is equally a fallacy, as if Christ would Bless such as we have done in his name.
5. Finally, there was a play for, shall we say, “kumbaya”, last night. Let’s all get along and unite this country. This rings a bit hollow after eight years of out and out (and acknowledged) obstruction of everything President Obama attempted to do. And Obama was criticized by his own supporters for wanting to work cooperatively with the other side of the aisle. It didn’t work.
COMMENTS WELCOME. dick_bernardATmsnDOTcom. More as time goes on.
from Florence: The President speaks and I can’t believe one word of what he says, for good or for ill. He has made a bed of lies and we lie in it, some simply hoping that the one thing they believe from the President’s mouth is the truth. As supporters of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) we just received their most recent magazine enumerating the huge increase in acts of violence based on whatever the perpetrators choose to hate. Meanwhile President Trump is now the darling of Andrew Algin’s The Daily Stormer declaring itself to be “America’s #1 Most Trusted Republican News Source”, previously touted as “World’s Most Visited Alt-Right Web Site.” For myself, I’m committed to at least one contact a day to an elected official, including the President, expressing my position and asking them to support it. In February I out-did myself with 40 contacts! They need to hear from all of us!
from Jeff: From Paul Krugmans column on Monday:
“Inevitably, one hears some voices urging everyone to cool it — to wait and see, to try to be constructive, to reach out to Trump supporters, to seek ground for compromise.
Just say no.
Outrage at what’s happening to America isn’t just justified, it’s essential. In fact, it may be our last chance of saving democracy.
Even in narrowly partisan terms, Democrats would be well advised to keep listening to their base. Anyone who claims that being seen as obstructionist will hurt them politically must have slept through the past couple of decades. Were Democrats rewarded for cooperating with George W. Bush? Were Republicans punished for their scorched-earth opposition to President Obama? Get real.”
from Gail: I agree with you on all of this, Dick!
from Joe: Thanks for the blog. I have no quarrel with anything you said,
from Bruce: As I see it, Dick, from the western most tip of Santa Rosa Island in Pensacola Bay, these times they are a-changin. The opportunity for progressive change is real. I think we( real progressives) need to organize around Bernie’s Revolution or the Green Party, Laurence Lessig’s “Mayday”(money out of politics), support/ strengthen Medicade/Medicare, and social security. All of the above groups are active & well run. Other than that what can I say…maybe we can even get Medicare for All.
from George: Those who have stock mutual funds also are prospering. That includes many of the middle class.
from Corky: How interesting that the stock market news of advances seems to take away the pain of 30 deaths and especially the children in Yemen. “Follow the $ I guess.” Where are our humanitarian priorities?
from Annelee: I agree totally with your blog on the President’s speech. I forwarded your blog to at least 20 people here and Germany. I added: As a nation where have we been? Where are we going???
Wish I would be as informed as you are.
from Tom: Dick….Thanks so much for your article. My comments would be these:… As I listened to the President’s speech to Congress, despite the comments that it was “presidential, I could not help but think of two quotes: 1) “His actions speak so loudly that I can’t hear what he’s saying” and, more famously from Protestant pastor, Martin Niemoller in Germany (1946), (#2) “First they came for the Jews and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the Communists and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Communist. then they came for the trade-unionists and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade-unionist etc..etc…..Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me”….Could this really happen here?
Thanks again, Dick.
from Carl: “The rest of us don’t have the resources or the expertise to play the game.” I have to disagree with you on only the wealthy will benefit. My son is a welder at John Deere Seeding Group here. Do you have any idea what the stock market going up has done to his 401K retirement plan? He is not a high paid employee as there is no union or other competition. I personally believe every working citizen should have a 401K retirement plan for retirement. I have an education fund for each of my grand children that they get when going to college through Edward Jones.
That fund went up 12% since the first of January. I think the stock market going up has benefited the majority of the average working citizens.

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