DEBORAH G. HANKINS
One of the first lessons parents teach children is to tell the truth. We feel truth-telling is an essential character trait and we’re willing to endure the tedium of “It wasn’t me!” and “My brother did it,” to make our children better people. Why do we spend our time and efforts instilling and honing this life-skill? It’s universally accepted that to be a “man of your word” is a positive character trait. When those around you can believe what you say, life is better. Once you demonstrate you’re a person who can be trusted, there’s no need to continually defend yourself. Relations can be built on other factors, such as common interests and common goals.
We need, as human beings, to trust those with whom we interact on a daily basis. Our families, our co-workers, even merchants we patronize need to have our trust to ease daily interactions. We have, as a society, even enacted laws to ensure honesty in the marketplace. If a store advertises a sale, it’s illegal to not honor that sale. Contracts are legal documents to which the signatories agree. and those agreements must be met or there will be penalties.
Courts are in the business of discovering truth and then applying legal standards to that truth. One must promise to tell the truth before providing testimony and there are penalties for not doing so.
With all these considerations, why would one choose to be untruthful? Just as the child might deny taking the candy, it’s a self-defense response. Until he finds the punishment for fibbing is more severe than that for being honest, it seems a good idea to try to bluff his way out of the situation. Maybe Mom will believe him and he’ll get off scot-free. Likewise, the adult is attempting to protect himself from negative consequences. If he successfully “sells” his story, he’ll avoid an unpleasant outcome. Fortunately, even today, the truth generally does come out.
With universal agreement that the best course of action is to tell the truth, regardless of the consequences, what is the appropriate reaction of Americans to an administration which routinely, brazenly lies? Many of these lies are easily identified, and yet they continue. Does repetition of a lie eventually make it true? It would seem many have been tragically misled in this way.
Research has shown that a lie repeated enough times comes to be accepted as truth. Political campaigns and parties have recently used this technique. We as citizens have a responsibility to evaluate every word which comes from the current administration and to research appropriately to determine its veracity. Without this vigilance, we run the risk of losing all track losing our American way of life to a group of wealthy elitists who care little for their fellow man–but much for their bottom line.
[Editor’s Note: The following article was sent to me by a reliable source. It first appeared at AlterNet. Holloway is a senior writer and the associate editor of media and culture at AlterNet. We decided to re-print it because of the large number of sources from which the material is drawn. And, it is now in the public domain. Some of the material has been annotated by other sources.]
The most egregious parts of Donald Trump’s personality–his racism, his misogyny and his lack of scruples or ethics–have been on display for more than four decades. All of those traits have long been part of Trump’s unapologetic public persona. But in recent years, Trump has become an even more extreme version of himself. The behaviors that accompany that shift could be closely correlated with dementia and a general cognitive decline.
The blogger behind the Neurocritic laid out what he sees as proof of Trump’s mental deterioration. He notes that President Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age 83, though he began to manifest symptoms far earlier.
Researchers have combed through records of off-the-cuff speeches Reagan delivered and found significant declines in his mastery of language. By his second term, Reagan’s speech showed a deep drop-off in the use of unique words, a marked increase in the use of non-specific nouns (thing, something, anything); an uptick in filler words (well, so, basically, actually, literally, um, ah); and a greater use of low-imageability, high frequency verbs (get, give, go, have, do).
Trump seems to have parallels in all these areas. He has become notorious for his word salads, incomprehensible soliloquies delivered at the speaking level of a fourth-grader. He frequently falls back on words like “tremendous” and often drags on without using specifics. Trump often speaks at length while saying nothing.
Alex Leo of the Daily Beast transcribed one sentence Trump delivered at a campaign stop in South Carolina, a series of dead ends, unfinished thoughts and ramblings:
Look, having nuclear–my uncle was a great professor and scientist and engineer. Dr. John Trump at MIT; good genes, very good genes, OK, very smart, the Wharton School of Finance, very good, very smart–you know, if you’re a conservative Republican, if I were a liberal, if, like, OK, if I ran as a liberal Democrat, they would say I’m one of the smartest people anywhere in the world–it’s true!–but when you’re a conservative Republican they try–oh, do they do a number–that’s why I always start off: Went to Wharton, was a good student, went there, went there, did this, built a fortune–you know I have to give my, like, credentials all the time, because we’re a little disadvantaged–but you look at the nuclear deal, the thing that really bothers me–it would have been so easy, and it’s not as important as these lives are (nuclear is powerful; my uncle explained that to me many, many years ago, the power and that was 35 years ago; he would explain the power of what’s going to happen and he was right–who would have thought?), but when you look at what’s going on with the four prisoners–now it used to be three, now it’s four–but when it was three and even now, I would have said it’s all in the messenger, fellas, and it is fellas because, you know, they don’t, they haven’t figured that the women are smarter right now than the men, so you know, it’s gonna take them about another 150 years–but the Persians are great negotiators, the Iranians are great negotiators, so, and they, they just killed, they just killed us.
In the clip below, David Pakman shows how typical Trump bluster could actually be indicative of something more problematic. He compares old footage of Trump to the Trump of today, and looks at how Trump’s physical problems may also be linked to Alzheimer’s:
At 70 years old, Trump is the oldest person to be elected president. His father Fred was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease six years before his death. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “age, family history and heredity” are the most important risk factors in developing the disease. Most sufferers start to show signs of the illness at age 65.
Remember when Trump forgot which country he’d just bombed? When it just slipped his mind to sign a pair of executive orders during an event created for that explicit purpose? When he couldn’t locate Rudy Giuliani, who was sitting directly across from him at a media briefing? Thos ethings don’t seem like innocuous senior moments.
Trump also seems to exhibit other signs of Alzheimer’s listed by health organizations. Moodiness, paranoia, belligerence and erratic behavior are all key indicators of the onset of dementia. Trump’s inappropriate tweets, his belief that his phones are tapped and his quickness to anger, as described by his staff, all fit the bill.
“I’m not saying that Donald Trump has dementia,” Joe Scarborough said during a recent segment on Trump’s mental state, “but my mother has dementia. She lives in the moment. She forgets what she said a day ago, a week ago. We can’t have presidents that do that. And I’m not saying that he has dementia. I will leave that to his physician to figure that out.”
“Donald Trump is the poster boy for Alzheimer’s disease,” former NFL player and medical marijuana proponent Kyle Turley said weeks after Trump’s inauguration. “He has early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. And it is starting to show.”
“What he’s doing is totally erratic,” Turley added. “His decisions and the way he talks and the way he speaks is not presidential. And I want more than anything for him to do that.”
Early in my blog writing a woman who I really didn’t know messaged me “don’t yell. No one listens to someone who is shouting at them.” Or something like that. She became one of my best friends and I trust her judgment often and always.
But it is apparent that many people don’t listen to anything that involves thinking and change.
I will try again, though, I am Taurus = stubborn!
So we have the start of the growing season here. The earth is warming and food crops are being planted in large mechanized commercial farms, much of planting can be done by machines with one worker covering a large field. And some food crops can be harvested mechanically also. However, many require hands-on. And that needs a work force. Part of our national history is the transition from an agrarian economy to an industrial and now a post-industrial economy. Almost 200 years ago most people living in the United States were involved with farming. You can see what has happened over time.
In the past twenty years more and more of these farm jobs have gone empty until filled by migrant workers. Many are Latino and here in the Williamette Valley of Oregon we very much recognize that our vineyards, orchards and large commercial food farms need these workers.
It’s hard work. I know. I took a farm hand job three summers ago. Me. At 60 years of age, overweight, arthritic and with a bad back. The high school worker was heading back to school in August and the farmer needed someone until the end of the season. I never had done this kind of work and my body let me know. But this is not impossible work. So anyone who can walk, can bend, can use their hands, can do this work. However, it seems that in most areas of the country, white people do not want to do this work so much. And so, others fill in. They are not taking jobs away. They are helping feed us. Some are not legal workers.
Trump ran for President hollering (hey! he yelled and people listened…or maybe they didn’t, but that’s a different blog) that it was important to put America first. That we needed to get rid of all the bad hombres and that was translated into all people who are here without full legal status, no matter the agreements in the past. Trump supporters have not yet woken up to the fact that when the work force is removed, something will happen.
In this case, it means the food raised here on large farms in the United States most likely will not be successfully harvested. One farmer we know lost his work crew last year when the blueberries matured early. His strawberries matured late. All that is because of the weather. But it meant his picking crew went off to attack the blueberries, which are easier picking than strawberries. He lost thousands of dollars and many of his strawberries rotted on the plants because there was no one to pick them. This situation will happen again more and more in more places, not necessarily because of the weather but because of a shortage of willing workers.
Trump’s policies are convincing many people without family roots to head back south to their native lands. The risk of imprisonment and deportation is high. So, many people are leaving. There are also many people who are not leaving because they have been here for 20 or more years. Part of their family was born here. Others may have legal status. The undocumented workers are still here, but there are fewer than before and many are not taking jobs because of the risk of being arrested.
As this situation will exist in the coming months everyone, including Trump and his supporters are going to feel it. They may be cheering now, but the time is going to come when they realize there may have been a better way. They’re already feeling it in southern California and in Florida where harvests happen several times during the year.
Prices will go up. To keep your business and their profits supermarket chains will contract for produce from other countries.
Flavor will go down. That long distance produce gets harvested a bit early, a bit green or immature, to give time to the transportation process before it starts to rot. Flavor just does not develop that way. If you buy produce from overseas, you miss the flavor of how it really should taste. [Editor’s Note: My wife and I are still trying to buy a tomato that tastes like a tomato during tomato season here in Kentucky! This year we planted two large pots of tomato plants next to our walkway. It’s worth a try!]
Farmers here in the United States will not be able to continue to farm. Or at least to farm food. (Much of the Williamette Valley farmland is used for wine grapes, hops, hazelnuts and landscaping plants.) Farms will fail financially, and the land will go fallow. That will have a ripple effect on the economy.
So, Southern and Central California are where the bulk of supermarket produce is grown. And harvested. Or not harvested…and then not shipped to your grocery store.
So, why do I say BUY AMERICAN when I am also saying food raised here in the US is going to have smaller harvests and higher prices? Because if we don’t support American farmers we are going to see our food production, like our manufacturing, move offshore.
There are ways to buy produce at affordable prices, but it means a commitment to changing your shopping pattern. Only you can decide if giving your children and grandchildren a chance to buy American food is important.
Am I exaggerating? Unfortunately, no. I remember my parents complaining that it was getting harder to buy American-made when they replaced our black and white television with a color model in the late 1960s. At that time, Magnavox was only one of a few and they are still in business today. All the other TVs that are manufactured here are by Asian corporations who have built factories here to save on shipping and other costs. How did this happen? Simple–we consumers like to buy based on price, not patriotism!
Yet, I bet you believe you are a patriotic American. Demonstrate it by investing in America’s economy! This is a consumer-driven industry! Buy locally raised food. Go to a website like localharvest.com to identify when your farmers markets are, where the farms are near you that offer CSAs, where you can pick your own produce. Perhaps this whole discussion is meaningless as most Americans do not eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, but if you do try to eat in a healthy way, this will affect you unless you happen [not likely] to grow your own food.
And get those teenagers to take summer jobs working on farms. They’ll buff up, tone up, and get a great tan!
[The editor of Columnist with a View wishes to thank the Reverend St Clair for this article which came in “over the transom.” St Clair submitted his article on our HOME page. Thanks!]
Last month, the Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church ruled that the consecration of a gay bishop violates church law. The bishop is Karen Oliveto who was married to woman when she was nominated, elected and consecrated by the Western Jurisdiction of the UMC as a leader of the denomination.
THE METHODIST HYMNAL
UMC members in another region of the country objected. The decision caused some to raise their voices in protest, while others quietly whispered, “Amen”. There has been a fair amount of hand-wringing across the denomination about the effect the decision will have on the unity of the UMC. As a member of the UMC clergy, I offer humbly my observations.
We can probably agree the Gospels do not recount Jesus mentioning anything about homosexuality. I would add that Jesus did not ask his followers to construct church buildings, to appoint bishops, to make rule books and to set up health and pension plans for clergy. The Great Commission does not ask us to build institutions.
To me, those dissatisfied (disgusted) or satisfied (smug) with the decision are both struggling for one thing - control of the institution. Again, to me, this discussion and struggle is not about Jesus, does not involve the Gospel and diverts attention from the coming reign of God. Instead, the argument about same-sex relations leads inextricably to one side winning and the other side losing.
Jesus offers guidance in such matters, instructing against such “win-lose” discussions. Jesus told his disciples that when they run into people who oppose them, then they are not to argue and fuss, but instead knock the dust off their sandals and move on.
With that message in mind, the Methodist rule book, as interpreted by the Judicial Council, states that a bishop cannot be in a married same-sex relationship. So, should Bishop Oliveto consider knocking the dust from her sandals and move on? Such a move would require her to give up her $150,000 yearly salary, her house, her car, her travel, her expense account and other benefits, and look for another place to serve.
I anticipate the LGBTQIAPK community exclaim it is unjust that Oliveto and others sharing her situation are being run out of the church because of their orientation. The call is to stay and struggle against such injustice and systems of oppression. And the LGBTQIAPK community asks politely that we ignore that they who stay and struggle maintain their $150,000 yearly salaries, their houses, their cars, their travels, their expense accounts and other benefits while fighting against injustice.
With this stated, the question then is whether Oliveto and others sharing her situation will stay or go? I can imagine Jesus looking at that question and shaking his head, seeing it akin to children arguing over who gets to make the rules for the clubhouse in the back yard. But the children don’t see it as a clubhouse, but rather consider the institution as monumental and substantial, like the Titanic. UMC professionals are bailing frantically to right the institutional ship that is seemingly taking on water. They bail because their pots are filled with meat and they eat all the bread they want while aboard the institutional ship. Sinking means losing the safety and security of the boat and getting out on the water where they could take their eyes off Jesus and flounder.
Hopefully the UMC can regain some perspective, away from win-lose propositions, and ask different questions - more important questions - like:
Is the UMC serving the Gospel, or is the institution using the Gospel to serve itself?
If the UMC is serving the Gospel, then is it time to assess the continued usefulness of the institution?
Is the institution helping the project of making disciples, or is it getting in the way?
Jesus addressed another religious institution years ago that was getting in the way of bringing people into right relationship with God, telling his disciples that ‘not one stone will be left standing’. As stated in the movie Jaws, “I think we are going to need a bigger boat.”
“Treason,” according to the Oxford American Dictionary, is “treachery toward one’s country or its ruler.” “Treasonable,” is “involving the crime of treason.” Only a thin line separates treasonable and treason.
To simplify, an activity might be “treasonable” without intent; that is, not rising to the level of treason per se. I know this distinction to be true. To understand it in strictly legal, indictable terms would require the services of a federal prosecutor, I suspect.
A step below treasonable behavior, as I understand it, could be something like “obstruction of justice;” that is, attempting to intrude upon, delay, or quash an investigation which might expose one to charges of treasonable behavior. As I understand it, if the President of the United States or any of his associates were knowing “colluding with the Russians” during the recent presidential election with a view toward influencing the outcome of that election, it would be treasonable behavior.
MANY FACES OF TRUMP
If the President of the United States, having discovered that an investigation into such a collusion was underway by any qualified government agency (i.e. the F.B.I.) and interfered, in either a formal or a casual way, to surreptitiously intrude upon, delay, or quash that investigation would be, as I understand it, an “obstruction of justice.”
If, theoretically, the aforementioned investigation, as a result of this high-level interference, was stopped, then this obstruction of justice would contribute to treasonable behavior, as I see it.
As I write, we have clear knowledge that certain members of the Donald Trump Campaign were in regular communication with the Russians. We also know that one of these campaign staff members was very close to Candidate Trump–so close, in fact, that the president actually appointed him to a high-level, high-security position within the administration. Other campaign operatives have been linked directly with Russia, as well.
GENERAL MIKE FLYNN
Let me move beyond generalities. In view of the above, clearly, General Mike Flynn, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and others connected with the campaign are dangling over a double-edged sword.
Owing to the testimonies of several high-level officials in the intelligence services and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the president himself may, knowingly or unwittingly, be implicated in attempts to obstruct the aforementioned investigations.
One example. According to Reuters, “Trump asked [FBI Director] Comey to end any investigation of Michael Flynn; to end the agency’s investigation….” President Trump has denied this allegation; Director James Comey is on record as having a memo, which he wrote on the subject, and told some associates that he was “uncomfortable” being alone with the president, partly at least because of the president’s attempt to influence him.
DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY
Subsequently, the President fired Director Comey.
Allegations, which have risen to the level of Washington, D.C. swamp stench, have brought on, according to CBS news, the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to investigate “possible links between Russia and Trump campaign associates.” The Senate and the House of Representatives are proceeding with their own investigations.
Time will tell whether we have obstruction of justice, treasonable behavior or treason that reaches into the White House.