Saturday, June 17, 2017

Citizens of the world...take action for decency, civility and hope

What a week!

·      A massive and potentially criminal fire kills (current count at 17 and rising) and leaves dozens homeless in the heart of London, after cries of flammable siding and an unsafe building for a long time.
·      A Special Counsel investigation in Washington that now points its investigators at ‘obstruction of justice’, money laundering, collusion with Russian authorities, and contempt for the constitution.
·      A planned and targeted assassination attempt of Republican Congressional members practising for an annual charity baseball game in Alexandria VA, leaving at least one man in critical condition after three surgeries.
·      A pathetic and universal ‘wringing of hands’ in Washington that such violence has come to impact the government representatives, following months, even years, perhaps decades of political rhetoric that can only be depicted as “hate speech” and character assassination…how ironic!
·      Russian designed and delivered propaganda denigrating the “gay” Canadian military personnel deployed to Latvia, with posters of former disgraced criminal Russell Williams, to defame the Canadian presence in the eyes of Latvians.
·      An epic miscalculation in political strategizing by Theresa May, crippled Prime Minister of Great Britain, whose negotiations with the Northern Ireland right-wing party to enable her to cling to power are threatened by Sein Fein.
·      Another massive attack by Al Shabab in Somalia against innocents.
·      A Russian claim to have killed ISIS leader Al-Zarkawi on May 28, whether true or not, is yet to be confirmed.
·      Putin’s smirking and haughty and ironic/sarcastic offer of “asylum” to fired F.B.I. Director James Comey, if he is suffering political persecution in the United States.

And none of this “news” even mentions the presidential tweetstorm calling the Mueller investigation a “WITCH HUNT” and efforts to prove collusion “zero”….or the counsel from the president’s wife that he would be wise not to fire Mueller.
There is a deep and tragic irony in the fact that the current occupant of the oval office called for the investigation and imprisonment of his presidential opponent throughout the campaign, and now the facts on the ground have him personally in the cross-hairs of the Justice Department initiated investigations. And who in the Republican party could not have foreseen this turn-around, even two years ago, on this date (June 16 2015), when the man descended the escalator to announce his candidacy for the highest office in the western world. His biographer(s) and his legal trail, his former tenants and unpaid workers and the many defrauded “students” of trump university could all have offered empirical, sworn testimony to the man’s “unfitness” for office. Yet none of the candidates who opposed him in the Republican party, and not enough of the voters were willing to see through the “fog of war” that enveloped his campaign.

There is also a glaring dis-connect between those “office holders” and their respective “electors”. In Britain, Theresa May is considered untrustworthy and arrogant, and out of touch. The decision to go to the polls, a “wooden” campaign and the apartment fire, linked to the cost-cutting she performed as Home Secretary resulting in fewer public services like fire and police have all taken their considerable toll.

In the United States, trump is clinging to a 36% popularity in the latest opinion polls, while his dis-satisfaction rating hovers around 65%. Every time he puts another ‘foot in his mouth’ on twitter, he drives another nail into both his political and legal coffins.  The shooting at the Republican ball practice, by someone who is purported to have volunteered in the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, while a deplorable act of violence, also speaks to the social, political and cultural divide that is succeeding in tearing the political fabric needed for civility and for legislative governance.

Reports of some 154 mass shootings, 6880 gun-related deaths and 13,504 firearm-related deaths in the United States, in 2017 alone (Fortune magazine), are so reprehensible, unforgiveable and tragic that they comprise a cultural diagnosis verging on mortality.  

Most of these shootings go unreported, as do the deaths that result. However, make no mistake, the United States is, if not the most violent, certainly one of the most violent nations on the planet. And the verbal violence that comes in the many utterances from the president have clearly contributed significantly to the negative and dangerous trend. The National Rifle Association, through both funding of political campaigns and propaganda advertising have such a strong grip on the consciousness of the “right” that not only do they not “see” a problem with these statistics, they actually believe that more guns would make their country safer, and reduce the number of deaths resulting from mass shootings.

This kind of paradoxical belief system and turning reality upside-down, believing that more of the problem is the solution to the problem seems to be indigenous to many right-wing voices. A similar pattern is evident in the new EPA, whereby the removal of regulations initiated by Obama to reduce CO2 emissions, will result in more reductions; and a similar ostrich-approach seems to be emerging in the proposals for a health act, whereby some 24 million Americans will lose their health care coverage, while the $800 million cuts to Medicaid will generate a substantial tax cut for the top 1%.....and the Republicans will continue to call their bill (however it emerges from Conference) a “health care bill.”

If Theresa May is judged to be “out of touch” by a majority of British voters, imagine just how out of touch these American politicians must be. Their figures have to be off the charts, and with an election for all 600+ members of the House of Representatives coming in November 2018 (a mere 18 months from now) the results, should the current patterns of behaviour continue, could be (and hopefully will be) disastrous for Republican.

Turbulence, impermanence, uncertainty, and even instability are qualities now dominating the political culture on both sides of the Atlantic. Mix in the terror threat and the wariness that we all put on with our morning jackets when we venture off to work each day, and we have ample and in-our-face evidence that proves conclusively, “We really are all in this together!”

Trade, and the exchange of money are not the only matters flowing through the swiss-cheese borders of the world’s nations. Culture, in its many rooted aspects, is also flying around the world, not merely in news and information but also in attitudes and philosophies. Racism, misogyny, poverty, resistance to immigration, disease, hatred and especially hopelessness are marching with millions of bytes, thousands of assault weapons, and the flow of illicit money in various forms and faces, some religious and others merely ideological.

And the level of urgency that we collectively are bringing to the table to push back seems so entangled in what to these eyes seem to be narrow, narcissistic, parochial and delusional housekeeping, generating a fog of confusion, and inaction and feeding a petty appetite for vengeance, vindictiveness and bullying.

Of course, that last sentence is an over-simplification. However, it does make a point that we each have a growing responsibility to take whatever steps are open and available to us to become citizen activists for civility, respect, collaboration and a movement away from the superficial tokenism that feeds political careers, and not the peoples’ needs and interests. 

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