IN TODAY’S WORLD, THERE’S PLENTY TO FEAR by Milt Hankins

IN TODAY’S WORLD, THERE’S PLENTY TO FEAR by Milt Hankins

              F.D.R. MEMORIAL MUSEUM

“All we have to fear is fear itself,” FDR intoned. His words are, unfortunately, no longer relevant to our time. Why? Because fear is so pervasive throughout our society it has become unremitting.

“Fear” is no longer a simple, single emotion that can be identified and ferreted out of our corporeal life after which everything will suddenly be okay, as Roosevelt implied. It has become the major cause of our great national discomfort–a motivating force beneath everything we believe, say and do.

The elderly are frightened by talk of making Social Security a private investment system, knowing they are dependent on contributions to the program by “millennials” who may have only their own best interests in mind. We are deeply threatened by talk of major changes in Medicare and Medicaid and modifying advances in affordable health care.

Our current government is cultivating increased anxiety at every age and socioeconomic level. According to political scientist Jason Johnson, “Our Constitution is not written to handle someone like Trump. That is the greatest danger and greatest harm he is to our country.” If Johnson is correct, and I believe he is, this alone should cause increased anxiety for everyone.

When David Cay Johnston (“It’s Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America”) wrote “millions of people voted for a narcissistic, know-nothing con artist who has spent his entire life swindling others while repeatedly urging followers to commit criminal acts of violence against his critics reveals more about Americans than about Trump,” it expressed why everyone should be fearful about their future.

We simply cannot find peace and a sense of inner security when the man occupying the White House shows obvious support for racists and neo-Nazis and has a longtime relationship, despite his denials, with white nationalists. According to Johnston, “developing a sophisticated understanding of other cultures is…crucial to peace and progress.”

 

The racial/cultural divide in America is a major cause of fear, especially in our inner cities, and our president has a long and documented history of discriminating against people of color. At campaign rallies, he openly singled out African-Americans, ordering pole to “get them outta here” while urging his followers to “rough them up.”

Although a great deal is being said about opportunity and jobs in the current administration, not much progress is being seen. The current trend toward less spending on scientific research and undermining public education is not policy which portends a bright future for Americans.

Increased domestic and gang violence, widespread drug abuse, fear of terrorist attacks–all have infiltrated our neighborhoods so that in many places around the country, people feel they can no longer safely congregate in public places for worship, education or entertainment.

Even while we proclaim we are not intimidated, we observe increased road rage, random outbursts, short tempers and increasing numbers of weapons carried openly. All are signs of embedded fear.

Jesus said, “Be not afraid,” but it’s not that easy in today’s world. We have more to fear than “fear itself.”

[Milt Hankins is a theologian, former pastor and author. His website is Columnist With a View (columnistwithaview.com). Articles for the webzine can be sent to:  amsmilt@ windstream.net or sent to P.O. Box 913, Ashland, Kentucky 41101. The article above first appeared in the Huntington, WV Herald-Dispatch on January 29, 2018.]

 

LEGITIMIZING PREJUDICE IS SAD AND DANGEROUS by Diane W. Mufson

LEGITIMIZING PREJUDICE IS SAD AND DANGEROUS by Diane W. Mufson

Let’s face it. Human beings generally prefer familiar environments and people. We seem to be wired that way. Infants smile earliest and most frequently at their mothers’ faces. People often choose to live in areas where people look, think and talk like themselves.

With an innate tendency to seek commonalities with others, people often have to be reminded that those who are different aren’t bad, but rather dissimilar. However, it is rather easy to convince individuals that different is dangerous and encourage hate. It’s been done for ages and when leaders, such as President Trump, take this stance, followers who knew it wasn’t acceptable to show their prejudices recognize that it’s now fine to let their “inner” hate out.

It’s not that we Americans previously haven’t expressed our utter dislike for those of other racial and religious groups. Native Americans were first to receive such treatment. African-Americans had to deal with slavery, inhumane treatment and lynchings. We wanted Asians to build our transcontinental railroads, but we didn’t want them to live here. When many Irish and Italian Catholics and European Jews began arriving, they were not welcome.

Economic stressors often give rise to prejudice and racial and religious hate. There is a fear that “those different people” will take over their work opportunities or social values. It’s what is playing out now and what led to America’s more restrictive immigration laws in the 1920s. The same fears provided a rationale for Hitler’s rise to power after that country’s WWI loss.

Hitler was able to convince millions of good Germans that Germans who were Jewish and who had resided in Germany for hundreds of years suddenly needed to not only be removed from his nation, but from the face of the earth.

ADOLF HITLER

He legitimized hate and his followers, who needed an explanation for their problems, accepted his virulent anti-Semitism as the answer.

Even in countries where people’s appearances are similar, there are still differences among groups. It’s how clans and tribes are organized. It might even explain how West Virginia, a state that sees itself as unique, has traditionally had such regionalism that has inhibited statewide growth.

In countries and regions where the population has been homogeneous, acceptance of foreigners varies. Sometimes, small groups of immigrants, who readily adapt to the host groups’ values and cultural norms, are acknowledged neutrally or even positively.

Yet, when masses of immigrants try to enter an established or homogeneous group, problems occur. The newcomers often attempt to continue their own social and cultural disharmonious with their new environment. This is  happening around the world now as millions flee from the Middle East and Africa. 

Most advanced and stable nations recognize that there must be an orderly flow to immigration, but that new ambitious people are often needed to grow a country. It’s how America was formed and many European countries found they needed new immigrants to meet their labor demands.

Immigration isn’t a new problem for our nation. It actually was an issue in 1798 with the Alien and Sedition Acts. It will always be a concern here as there will always be people clamoring to enter our wonderful, but imperfect country.

What we Americans must understand is that when a nation’s leader expresses hate or clear prejudiced opinions of national, ethnic, religious groups or even handicapped people, it legitimatizes hate and permits those who follow the leader to express similar sentiments. How sad it is that our American president has done just that.

[Diane W. Mufson is a retired psychologist who lives with her husband Maury in Huntington, West Virgina. Her email is dwmufson@comcast.net. This article first appeared in the Huntington, WV Herald-Dispatch on January 25, 2018. We have, with permission, occasionally reprinted articles by Mufson which we found to be especially important and worthy of the widest possible distribution.] 

REPUBLICANS GLOAT–BUT VOTERS BLAMED THEM FOR THE SHUTDOWN AND “DACA” SUPPORT INCREASED by  Kerry Eleveld

REPUBLICANS GLOAT–BUT VOTERS BLAMED THEM FOR THE SHUTDOWN AND “DACA” SUPPORT INCREASED by Kerry Eleveld

Republicans are feeling pretty smug these days about brokering a deal with Democrats to reopen the government without much other than a loose agreement to allow a vote on immigration issues. Voters, on the other hand, aren’t so impressed with Republicans’ governing skills. Politico writes:

According to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll conducted Saturday and Sunday, a combined 48 percent of voters said Trump (34 percent) and Republicans in Congress (15 percent) were to blame for the shutdown — more than the 35 percent who said congressional Democrats bore most of the blame.

And a majority of voters, 53 percent, thought President Donald Trump hadn’t done enough to bring the parties together — compared to only 29 percent who thought Trump had done enough.

Got that? Voters held Republicans responsible by a 13-point margin and most Americans thought Trump was pretty useless (Jell-Oey, shall we say?). Despite the media’s fixation on Democrats “blocking” the spending bill, voters seem pretty clear about who’s running the government and who’s responsible when Congress fails to keep the lights on. That’s worth keeping in mind when February 8, the next deadline, rolls around. 

And so is this: the poll also found that support for a shutdown over DACA went up five points, while voters who didn’t support a shutdown over DACA fell by four points.

“As Democrats consider their next move, our polling shows an uptick in voter support for shutting down the government over protections for ‘Dreamers,'” said Morning Consult co-founder and Chief Research Officer Kyle Dropp. “In a poll taken before the shutdown, 42 percent of voters said this issue was important enough to prompt a government shutdown, compared with 47 percent of voters who say the same today.”

Fewer voters, 38 percent, say DACA is not important enough to shut down the government — down from 42 percent immediately before the shutdown.

How about funding for Trump’s border wall? The only people on board with shutting down the government over that is the predictable 30 percent of Trump bitter-enders. 

…significantly fewer voters say it’s worth shutting down the government to secure funding for Trump’s main immigration priority: a wall along the Mexican border. Fewer than three-in-10 voters, 29 percent, say a border wall is worth shutting down the government over, while 57 percent say the wall isn’t worth it.

Wasn’t Mexico gonna pay for that? Hard to imagine how that deal tanked with Trump running point. 

[This article first appeared in DAILY KOS and is reprinted here with permission. The photograph is from the AP and also appears with the original article.]

UNDER SIEGE, GOP DIVERTS TO CLINTONS by Milt Hankins

UNDER SIEGE, GOP DIVERTS TO CLINTONS by Milt Hankins

When Republicans find themselves in hot water, they dredge up an old Clinton scandal. For months we heard nothing but Benghazi. Since it was determined that Hillary Clinton couldn’t have prevented the Benghazi tragedy and the Republicans won the 2016 election, Benghazi became a dead issue.

As the Trump-Russia scandal gains momentum and indictments (also arrests) have been issued by the Mueller Investigation, the Republicans have turned to an old Clinton “scandal” that really isn’t a scandal at all I’m talking about the Uranium One deal, which we’ll be hearing about ad nauseam in the coming months.

On Nov. 14, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions “raised the possibility that a special counsel may be appointed to investigate potential wrongdoing by the Clinton Foundation, specifically suggestions that a U.S. government panel approved the sale of a large uranium firm to Russian interests in exchange for donations to the foundation.”

This is the issue.

ROBERT MUELLER

Recently, as the Mueller investigation gains momentum, conservative media and President Donald Trump have focused on the Uranium One deal to divert attention.

Briefly, the deal concerns the sale of a Canadian company, Uranium One, which has uranium holdings int he U.S., to Russia’s nuclear energy agency, Rosatom. The transaction took place in several states “beginning in 2009 when Rosatom purchased a minority stake in Uranium One” (remember it’s a Canadian company). Then, in 2010, Rosatom obtained 51 percent share of the company, and in 2013, a third purchase gave full ownership of Uranium One to Rosatom.

The controversy revolves around the State Department signing off on Rosatom’s purchase and the fact that several of Uranium One’s owners were donors to the Clinton Foundation–to the tune of $145 million. Critics are alleging Clinton “greenlighted the sale to appease donors to her family’s charity.”

According to Politico, “there is no direct evidence of a quid pro quo among Clinton, the State Department, Rosatom and the Clinton Foundation donors with ties to Uranium One.” Clinton insists that “such approval was granted at lower levels of the department and would not have crossed the secretary’s desk.”

Keep in mind that the sales involved required “approval by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., an intergovernmental agency that includes input from the Departments of State, Treasury, Justice, Energy, Defense, Commerce and Homeland Security, as well as the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative,” Politico reported.

“Jose Fernandez, who was the assistant secretary of state for economic, energy and business affairs when the Uranium One deal was approved, told the Times that Clinton ‘never intervened with me on any (Committee on Foreign Investment int he United States) matter.'”

HILLARY CLINTON

According to Snopes, “Allegations of a ‘quid pro quo‘ deal giving Russia ownership of one-fifth of U.S. uranium deposits in exchange for $145 million in donations to the Clinton Foundation are unsubstantiated.”

As far as I have been able to ascertain, Fernandez says Clinton “never intervened in committee matters. Clinton herself has said she wasn’t personally involved.”

“This ‘scandal’ is not real. It’s a distraction.”

As Joe Conason has said, “You can’t go broke going after the Clintons.”

[Milt Hankins is a columnist for the Huntington, WV Herald-Dispatch. He is the author of three books and is the publisher and editor of Columnist With a View (columnistwithaview.com). He lives in Ashland, Kentucky with his wife Deborah.]

 

 

DONALD TRUMP AND GLOBAL WARMING from Daily Kos

DONALD TRUMP AND GLOBAL WARMING from Daily Kos

After nearly a year, no one is particularly surprised when Donald Trump demonstrates just how stupid he is, but it is sometimes jarring to see how proud he is of it. And on Thursday night Trump provided a perfect example of both his painfully weak grasp of common knowledge, along with a massive dose of callous insensitivity toward the needless suffering of others.

This example came in the form of a thoughtless tweet that served no purpose other than to belittle sincere advocates for the health of the planet and its inhabitants. Trump tweeted:

“In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up”

By wishing for “a little bit of that good old Global Warming,” Trump is in effect wishing that millions of people suffer and die. He clearly doesn’t have even the slightest understanding of Climate Change, and thinks it’s cute to pray for more of it.

Let’s be clear, the record cold temperatures that are blanketing much of the Northeast and Midwest are, in fact, the result of Climate Change. Higher temperatures in arctic regions and oceans push frigid weather patterns farther south than they ordinarily go. And that’s why people from Maine to Minnesota will be shivering and many will be in mortal peril.

Trump and his science-denying ilk still don’t understand that aberrant weather patterns are a product of Climate Change (which is why scientists don’t call it global warming). He doesn’t know the difference between climate and weather. He can’t connect the incidence of extreme temperatures and natural disasters like hurricanes to the climate disruptions caused by human industry and behavior. And even when there are episodes of cold temperatures in one particular locality, in other places it is uncommonly warm. Southern California is in the eighties. Australia is experiencing record highs. So chills in New York don’t negate the fact that the planet’s climate is rising. 2016 was the hottest year ever. 2017 is set to be one of the three hottest years on record.

Trump’s flagrant ignorance is compounded by his brazen lying. Who knows what he’s talking about with regard to the United States spending “trillions of dollars” to protect against climate change. Efforts to mitigate climate disasters were being put into place internationally until Trump petulantly withdrew from the Paris Accords. But the cost never approached trillions. Fortunately, many states, cities and private companies repudiated the President and still intend to implement the initiatives outlined in Paris.

Finally, Trump tagged on a stony and insincere tip to “bundle up.” Really? That’s all he could muster for one of the coldest periods on record. Doesn’t he realize that people die under these circumstances? It was apparently too much trouble to post information on finding shelters for the homeless. Or to help those affected to stay warm in poorly insulated apartments and homes. Or to offer advice on how to prevent pipes from freezing or where to get help if someone is suffering from hypothermia. Just bundle up and mock science by wishing for the problem to get worse.

ALMOST NORMAL by Beth Rankin

ALMOST NORMAL by Beth Rankin

                   BETH RANKIN

ALMOST NORMAL! It’s been about 5.5 weeks since my total knee replacement December 4 and I will see the surgeon on Monday for a post-op appointment. I have some expectations and hopes for that visit. The primary issue is will I get permission to get back into our hot tub?

We purchased an inflatable hot tub almost two years ago. We discovered how helpful sitting in the hot tub could be back in 2007 when Graham was on sabbatical in Pueblo, Colorado and the apartment complex had a hot tub next to the pool. We learned that the heat eased sore muscles and joints and improved nighttime relaxation and better sleeping. Although we were in Colorado from January 1 through June 30, the hot tub was available, even in the winter when the pool was closed. It was about 200 yards from our apartment door. We’d get into our bathing suits, put on our terry cloth bathrobes and some slippers and walk over. Chilly, but bearable. Getting out and back into the warm apartment after the soak was more of a challenge. I discovered that there seemed to be an envelope of warm air around my body for a very short time when I exited the hot tub. Getting the bathrobe on during that time was mandatory! Then put the cover back on the hot tub and high-tail it back home.

Our apartment was in the building on the right side, so not too far, except when it was five degrees.

The photo viewpoint is from the kitchen door, so you see how much shorter the after-tub commute became.

We agreed if we ever should be lucky enough to have a hot tub it would be right by the door to the house. And so, about a year later, we found ourselves building an enclosed screen porch on the back of our house in West Virginia. The tub sat on a concrete pad on the ground and the floor of the porch was built around the tub. We stepped down into the spa and Graham installed a handicap pull bar to help any of us climb back up and out. The walk to the kitchen door was maybe ten feet, very easy even in the winter.

But then, we moved to Oregon where we are renting a house. I was missing the evening soak time. My joints ached more and so, a friend a friend suggested an inflatable. We bought a Coleman hot tub from about $450 the first year but after they replaced one filter/motor, when that failed within a few months, they would not replace it. We searched but could not purchase a new filter alone. So we bought another inflatable for about $250. Watch for sales!!!!

The inflatable works for us. It runs on 110 household current so we did not have to install a new 220 line into the house. That saved us some money for me; I don’t use the jets.

So, the last time I was in the hot tub was the morning before my knee surgery. After that I was restricted from “swimming, hot tubs, saunas” and a few other wet activities. One concern is infection through the suture site. That is well healed now, so should no longer be a factor.

But, and this is a big issue. I need to be able to get myself out of the hot tub safely. First, I need to be able to swing my leg over the height of the wall. It is an inflatable so not rigid, and if I touch it, it will bend. Graham built me a contraption with two posts and a rope so I had something to proper height for practice. That was not difficult to gain the movement I needed.

However, I need to get up off my butt. The inflatable hot tub does not have the molded seats a regular fiberglass hot tub offers; we sit on the padded bottom. So, I need to be able to stand up without the need for a block and tackle. Simple, eh? Well, no. As my knee issue got worse and started involving my pelvis and hips last summer, Graham installed a handicapped handrail on the post holding the roof over the tub. (You thought we sit in the hot water with the cold winter rain falling on us????? Come on!) That rail helped me, but I was able to get on my knees before the surgery. Now, not a comfortable position. So, after think and thinking about it, I tried a few times at home.Now, in order to do a task that is difficult, the easiest way to figure out how to manage the move is to figure out the physics of it to maximize the strength while minimizing effort. I didn’t take physics in high school and until now, I figured the computer science class I took instead was an excellent substitute. But now, more than 45 years after that class decision in high school. I was trying to figure how to fulcrum me up and out…..hmmmm.

Physical therapists are special people. Maybe a tad masochistic as they push their patients through pain to improvement, generally they are upbeat, optimistic and very much enjoy challenges like this. So this morning at Physical Therapy I sat on the floor next to a table that had been lowered to the height I needed and it only took two times to conquer the move. I know I can get up now! No block and tackle needs to be ordered. LOL

On Monday I will go to the surgeon’s appointment prepared to show him I have the safety issue covered. And if I need to wait, I will wait….but I am betting on hot tub Monday evening!!!

[Beth Rankin is an entrepreneur, writer, and raconteur. She lives with her husband Graham (and their hot tub) in McMinnville, Oregon.]