Nel's New Day

February 17, 2020

Washington’s Birthday 2020

Until Richard Nixon was elected president, people celebrated two holidays in February—Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on the 12th and George Washington’s birthday on the 22nd. Although Washington’s birthday was designated a federal holiday in 1855, it subsumed Lincoln’s birthday when the Uniform Monday Holiday Act moved Washington’s Birthday to the third Monday of February in 1971. For the past few decades, many people have nicknamed this date “Presidents Day,” sometimes putting the apostrophe before or after the last “s.” Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) puts it before the “s,” perhaps because he wants President’s Day to refer only to himself.  Thirteen states don’t celebrate either Washington’s Birthday or Presidents Day as a state holiday, and some Southern states refuse to celebrate any part of Abraham Lincoln.

George Washington, in his 1796 farewell address after two terms in office, was most concerned for the safety of the U.S. Constitution and the unity of government after the rise of factions from political parties. He wrote:

“The Constitution which at any time exists, until changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government. All obstructions to the execution of the laws …. are destructive of this fundamental principle.”

In contrast to Washington’s noble image of a new country is DDT’s impression as described by history, documentarian, and filmmaker Ken Burns whose 30+ productions covered two centuries of U.S. achievements. In a 2016 interview, Burns’ prescience came from a discussion of his then new project Defying the Nazis as he explained his reason for public opposition to DDT:  

“I have never in my professional life ever spoken out in this way. I certainly have my own opinions and have a yard sign at elections and make sure I vote. But I spoke out because he represents the greatest threat to American democracy since the Second World War. He is so fundamentally un-American, and not only because he is unqualified, but because he is mentally unsuited. He represents a kind of strong man, narcissistic thing that represents the potential death of the Republic. All of my films are about the United States and all of them are about trying to understand how it works and how it doesn’t work, and I just felt compelled to speak out.”

About DDT’s appeal to his base, Burns said:

“He has tapped a dark unconscious, in which it is easier to vilify the other than to see what you share in common. It’s easier to be afraid than to welcome change. It’s always been there. We had a civil war, you know. We killed 750,000 of ourselves over this issue. He’s appealing to that in the most venal and vulgar ways.”

In his interview, Burns talked about DDT’s full-page ads demanding the death penalty to five young people, the “Central Park Five,” later exonerated for a horrible crime. DDT never backed down on his calls for the death penalty even after the guilty person was found. Asked if DDT is a fascist, Burns said:

“Absolutely. When you talk about having extra-judicial, threatening rivals with jail. You can call it fascistic or you can call it dictatorial. You can call it monomaniacal or imperial. Whatever you want to say, this is not the way that our country works.”

These comments were made over three years ago before DDT was elected as U.S. president.

Three years later, writer for the National Catholic Reporter Michael Sean Winters wrote about DDT’s “seven deadly sins”—greed, lust, gluttony, sloth, envy, wrath, and pride:

“What we see with President Donald Trump and his cast of sycophants and co-conspirators . . . is a rare thing: All seven deadly sins on display at once.”

Winters wrote about how the “deadly sins” spur DDT’s actions:

His unsatiated greed for money and fame during most of his life extends to greed for power.

His lust for women came out before the election in the tape about how he could grab women “by the pussy,” a tape that 63 million voters ignored and enjoyed. By now, his lust for 23 women has been widely politicized, but his base ignores or rejects the possibility that he committed these actions.

Gluttony, obvious that he can never get enough money or power or women, reveals his drive for satisfying only his own needs with no concern for the country that he was elected to lead.  

Sloth is evident in his refusal to read briefing papers and his constant golfing, even during disasters affected the United States. He has no knowledge of history or the ramifications of his actions.

Envy, largely directed at his predecessor, is he cause behind almost every decision DDT makes—eliminating items for budgets, dropping out of treaties, destroying the environment, taking health care from people—anything to erase President Obama’s legacy no matter how much damage it does to the country.

Fury pours out at all his campaign rallies and throughout his tweets; inside sources report his wrath within the White House. Recently, he used the National Prayer Breakfast to rail at people who didn’t show him absolute loyalty. His anger at former opponent Hillary Clinton is still on full display at the rallies, and he always calls for chants of “lock her up.”

Pride for DDT “is the pride of the con man,” according to Winters. “He is proud of his ability to make people think he is a man of abilities when he really is a man of few gifts beyond those we associate with showmanship.” In 2016, David Brooks wrote about DDT:

“[His] vast narcissism makes him a closed fortress. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know and he’s uninterested in finding out. He insults the office Abraham Lincoln once occupied by running for it with less preparation than most of us would undertake to buy a sofa.”

DDT has managed to consistently break all the Ten Commandments:

  1. “I am the Lord thy God who has brought you out of the land of Egypt.” DDT has said that only he can save the people of the U.S.
  2.  “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” Evangelical Christians, who have been able to swallow everything else that DDT throws at them, have complained about his taking God’s name in vain.
  3. “Thou shalt have no other gods beside Me. You shall not make for yourself any graven image.” DDT has declared himself the “lord” and puts his name on everything possible.
  4.  “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.” DDT uses his Sabbath for election campaigning.
  5.  “Honor thy father and mother.” Even at his father’s funeral, DDT could not resist making the event all about himself.
  6.  “Thou shalt not kill.” DDT has vastly increased the “collateral damage” from bombings in the Middle East and is indifferent to murdered civilians. He refuses to take any action in mass shootings, and his unadulterated support for Israel is killing thousands of Palestinians.
  7.  “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Breaking this commandment has been one of DDT’s favorite activities. A prime example is that he pled the Fifth for 97 times during his divorce from Ivana Trump to avoid incriminating himself about his public extramarital affair with Marla Maples who he then married before divorcing. 
  8. “Thou shalt not steal.” DDT has stiffed workers by not paying their wages, taken others’ pensions by declaring bankruptcies, and generally cheated everyone possible. He also stole from his own charitable foundation.
  9. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” DDT fits the old joke: How can we tell that he is lying? He opens his mouth. A few months ago, he was past 16,000 lies since his inauguration.
  10. “Thou shalt not covet your neighbor’s house, nor his wife, his man-servant, his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” In addition to the neighbors’ possessions, DDT covets attention, love, glory, power and victory. 

More examples here

DDT fits the description of the conservative Christian anti-Christ, the one who opposes Christ while substituting himself in Christ’s place. Pure evil, DDT is a polarizer, hatemonger, and fearmonger with no understanding of or respect for the nation’s political values and traditions. The one value he seeks in those around him, loyalty, means that he wants only their agreement, not advice.

This Vanity Fair piece by Marie Brenner from 1990 shows that DDT hasn’t changed in 30 years.

After DDT’s weekend vacation at Mar-a-Lago, President Obama managed to drive him into another rage with this tweet on Washington’s Birthday:

“Eleven years ago today, near the bottom of the worst recession in generations, I signed the Recovery Act, paving the way for more than a decade of economic growth and the longest streak of job creation in American history.”

Unfortunately for DDT, his bragging falls short—again. His “greatest economy ever” is only sixth out of the last ten presidential terms—and it’s headed downhill.

Happy “President’s Day!”

February 19, 2018

Presidents Day 2018

Today is Presidents Day. It is a good time to consider the prescient speech given by Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican, on October 17, 1960:

“In many countries of the free world private enterprise is greatly different from what we know here. In some, a few families are fabulously wealthy, contribute far less than they should in taxes, and are indifferent to the poverty of the great masses of the people. Broad purchasing power does not, therefore, exist, even for the domestic products of the nation. A country in this situation is fraught with continual instability. It is ripe for revolution.”

Three months later, Eisenhower said in his farewell address:

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

Presidential warnings about Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) began with George Washington’s farewell speech. He warned about false patriotism, special interests, extreme partisanship, fake news, disunity, foreign hatreds, and the national debt. His other concerns were foreign influence over the U.S. political system and a despotic president whose avarice and ego transcended the national interest. Washington cautioned about the danger of one group, “sharpened by the spirit of revenge,” gaining dominion over another that could lead to “a more formal and permanent despotism.” Its “disorders and miseries” would push citizens “to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual.” He concluded:

 “Sooner or later, the chief of some prevailing faction, more able and more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purpose of his own elevation on the ruins of public liberty.”

In one of his greatest worries, he counseled that hyperpartisanship could lead “to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.”

Every year since 1896, the Senate has marked Washington’s birthday by reading his farewell speech on the floor of the Senate, annually alternating the reading senator between political parties. The House of Representatives stopped this commemoration many years ago because of their lack of interest. The current “dominant” party has no interest in how Russian involvement, gerrymandering, voter suppression, and fake news led to their victory because they are more preoccupied about their own personal interests than protecting democracy in the United States.

The 2018 Presidents & Executive Politics Presidential Greatness Survey ranks the current occupant of the Oval Office at the bottom of all presidents, replacing James Buchanan and rating 12 points out of 100. Even among only Republican respondents, he came in fifth from the bottom while Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were #15 and 16.  In the biggest overall shift, President Obama has gone up to 8 from 18 since 2014.

Today is Presidents Day, and the Great Tweeter led up to the day by making these official statements yesterday:

  1. “Just watched a very insecure Oprah Winfrey, who at one point I knew very well, interview a panel of people on 60 Minutes. The questions were biased and slanted, the facts incorrect. Hope Oprah runs so she can be exposed and defeated just like all of the others!” (8:28 am about 60 Minutes segment)
  2. “Thank you to KenStarr, former Independent Counsel, Whitewater, for your insight and powerful words on FISA abuse, Russian meddling etc. Really great interview with @MariaBartiromo” (9:10 am about Fox network)
  3. “The Fake News of big ratings loser CNN” (5:46 am about a cartoon of Wolf Blitzer in 2038 not available)
  4. “If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the US then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They are laughing their asses off in Moscow. Get smart America!” (5:11 am)
  5. “Now that Adam Schiff is starting to blame President Obama for Russian meddling in the election, he is probably doing so as yet another excuse that the Democrats, lead by their fearless leader, Crooked Hillary Clinton, lost the 2016 election. But wasn’t I a great candidate?” (4:43 am)
  6. “I never said Russia did not meddle in the election, I said ‘it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer.’ The Russian ‘hoax’ was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia – it never did!” (4:33 am)
  7. “Finally, Liddle’ Adam Schiff, the leakin’ monster of no control, is now blaming the Obama Administration for Russian meddling in the 2016 Election. He is finally right about something. Obama was President, knew of the threat, and did nothing. Thank you Adam!” (4:22 am)

Today’s tweets were “Have a great, but very reflective, President’s Day!” (13 minutes before his motorcade left for the golf course) and

 “Obama was President up to, and beyond, the 2016 Election. So why didn’t he do something about Russian meddling?”

President Obama took some action about the meddling when he discovered it, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused to join him in warning people about Russian interference. Last summer WaPo published an article about how President Obama discovered Russian interference in 2016 and wanted to release the information. He did not speak out publicly because McConnell would not agree to sign a bipartisan statement about Russian meddling. The former president was concerned that without a united front that it would appear he was attempting to illegitimatize the presidential election. Instead he created sanctions against Russia that the newly elected president tried to prevent and expelled Russians from the United States. In the meantime, McConnell kept the voters from knowing that Russia was supporting Hillary Clinton’s opponent. McConnell merely sent out a letter to states about possible hacking into their voting machines.

The question on Presidents Day 2018 is why the man inaugurated over a year ago isn’t doing anything now about the Russian meddling this year.

For his supporters, the best thing about President’s Day is that there’s a 30-percent off sale on all his MAGA merchandise. Get your caps and cups!

February 18, 2013

Thoughts about the Presidents

Today is Washington’s Birthday, a federal holiday created in 1880. Technically George Washington’s birthday isn’t until Friday, but in 1968 Congress moved all federal holidays to Mondays. Back when I was in school, we celebrated Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12 and Washington’s birthday on the 22nd. Now people call the Monday before the 22nd “President’s Day” and ignore Lincoln’s birthday, but Congress never changed the name.

It’s a quiet day today. Congress has disappeared for ten days and can’t do any damage except for the stupid comments that keep coming out of their mouths. Because there’s the feeling that all presidents are commemorated on this day, here are a few facts about past presidents, sort of a mini-history/trivia lesson.

Although history books teach that George Washington was the first president of the United States, he was actually the eighth. The “Presidents under the Articles of Confederation” had the official title of “President of the United States in Congress Assembled.” Before these seven presidents there were 16 Presidents of the Continental Congress, but John Hanson was the ninth of these and the first to hold the title “President of the United States.” Hanson’s Birthday would postpone the federal holiday almost two months to April 14.

Although the Constitution requires that presidents be born U.S. citizens, the first seven presidents were not “natural-born citizens” of the United States, as the Constitution requires. Of course, that was because they were all born before there was a United States. Since then, however, controversies have arisen from time to time about this constitutional requirement.

Because the Constitution does not define “natural born,” the law has had to create a definition. The first one came from the Naturalization Act of 1790: “The children of citizens of the United States that may be born beyond sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born citizens.” Later Title Eight of the U.S. Code filled in some gaps.

The argument about presidential citizenship flared up after “birthers” declared that Barack Obama was not born in Hawaii and thus ineligible for the presidency. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) sent a memo, dated April 3, 2009, to Congress echoing the Naturalization Act and claiming that the definition of “natural born” would “include a person born abroad to parents who are United States citizens.”

President Obama was not the first president whose citizenship was questioned. The one other president who had only one U.S.-citizen parent, Chester A. Arthur, was rumored to have been born in Canada. Arthur became president after President Garfield was shot and killed.

If the place of birth were at issue, eligibility could have been questioned for Vice-President Al Gore, born outside of the United States in Washington, D.C. and for candidates Barry Goldwater, born in Arizona Territory, and George Romney, born in Mexico. The birthers never questioned the eligibility of John McCain to become president, who was born either at the Coco Solo Naval Air Station or in a civilian hospital in Colon City, Panama, according to his birth certificate. Neither place was identified as United States territory at the time although a 1937 law retroactively conferred citizenship on people born in the Canal Zone after February 26, 1904 and in the Republic of Panama after that date who had at least one U.S. citizen parent employed by the U.S. government or the Panama Railway Company.

One president was not even a U.S. citizen when he died. John Tyler, the 10th president, died in Virginia on January 8, 1862, as a citizen of the Southern Confederacy.

Over two dozen federal legislators have proposed constitutional amendments to change the requirement of natural-born citizenship for the presidency, usually because of a preference for a candidate. Rep. Jonathan Bingham (R-NY) introduced one in 1974 to allow Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to become eligible, and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) presented the Equal Opportunity to Govern Amendment in 2003 to make then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) eligible for the office.

By the 21st century, people expected the president to have college degrees, but ten presidents have not earned one, the most recent being Harry S. Truman. While in office, eight presidents owned slaves before it became illegal, and another four others also owned slaves while they were not sitting presidents. The last president to own slaves while in office, Zachary Taylor, had 100 on a Mississippi plantation. Ulysses S. Grant, freed his slave, William Jones, in 1859.

Only one president, James Buchanan, was never married. He was described as nearly inseparable from Alabama senator William T. King, who was known as “his wife.” Documents show that Buchanan was undeniably “the first gay president,” not Barack Obama as a sensationalist Newsweek cover proclaimed.

Four presidents became president after they lost the popular vote, the most recent being George W. Bush. The others were John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, and Benjamin Harrison—all in the 19th century. Two presidents, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, were impeached and acquitted, and a third, Richard Nixon, resigned before the impeachment process moved to trial.

In this case, history is stranger than fiction when one considers the frenzied impeachment of Bill Clinton during the last few years of the 20th century.

In honor of my left-handed partner, I want to add that eight presidents, including President Obama, have also been left-handed.

As of 2013, not one woman has served as U.S. president, unless you include the powerful wives of Woodrow Wilson and Ronald Reagan. In the rest of the world, women have been elected president in Argentina, Finland, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Liberia, Malawi, Malta, Nicaragua, Philippines, South Korea, and Sri Lanka. Another 50 countries have had women heads of state. Another 13 countries have had women representatives of heads of state. Six Muslim countries have elected women heads of state. 

Yellow: Female head of government; Blue: Female head of state; Light Green: Female head of state/government (combined); Dark Green: Female head of state and female head of government

Yellow: Female head of government; Blue: Female head of state; Light Green: Female head of state/government (combined); Dark Green: Female head of state and female head of government

Rumors proliferate, however, that former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with an approval rating of over 70 percent, may be a 2016 presidential candidate. Would she run against Ryan? Or Rubio? Or Christie? Or another Bush? Or another Paul? Or, or, or?

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