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Power concedes nothing without a demand -- Frederick Douglass

Every day in every way he's hurting someone: Trump signs executive eliminating regulations against dumping debris from coal in rivers, ACA benefits denied this and that person and they are shocked; a woman commits suicide told she is now eligible for benefits that paid her food and rent (that's in the UK); eliminated NEH, NEA, what he could of PBS, and now after Americorps; the 7th floor of central department, everyone in it fired, not to be replaced, their work deemed worthless; Somalis from the midwest seen fleeing into Canada....

A gov't absolutely unorganized (from the Conversation Trump only once ran a public company and it was disastrous); his impeachable behavior (colluding with Russian gov', undermining law) -- as yet, Michael Hayden, says they meant to destroy gov't institutions in order to ignore them, but institutions fighting back; openly making money, awarded contracts by the Chinese; around the cities of the US legalized criminal behavior -- snatching non-white non-citizens in the street (people go into hiding); justified fear Republicans could use any violent incident to overtly stop the veneer of democracy; news stories about individual lives wrecked and a Top Aide in Trump's "white house" recording a reporter ,and then editing the tape in order to try to sue the reporter ... Also a new regular feature: a good poem from an anthology by Garrison Keillor and a study of torture, one essay at a time ...

Dear friends and readers,

It's very hard to keep up this blog. Amid the welter of the past two weeks' events (I've not posted here for 12 days), what can I possibly focus on to make coming here worth while. I'd have to begin writing hourly.  I can't. So for this week I vow each week to provide one poem, a good poem from Garrison Keillor's anthology, Good Poems, prescient, foreseeing that we are going to need comfort and strength. Then each week I'll provide another insight from an important essay anthology my husband had begun to read before he too was taken by our polluted environment through cancer: Speaking of Torture: America Tortures, edd. Julie A Carlson and Elisabeth Weber. Then depending on what happened over the week a round-up summary, URLs, ending on something a bit lighter, with a video.



My buddy, my boy, this week: Ian pussycat, how he loves to press his body against mine, chest to chest, his head nudging mine from the side, expressing love.

**************

I'm a literary scholar and spend much of my life reading nowadays, and used to spend myself teaching.   While Michael Moore is more to the point while we wait for enough Republicans and the Democratic party to wake up and get into active oppositional and produce a new progressive agenda (that is what is minimally needed), Garrison Keillor is there for us. From this week's Progressive Populist, and online at the Denver Post, read his "Republicans the Nation looks to you" and in the Washington Post and online at the Hartford Courant the comfort of his "Strangers meet in a Snowstorm."

From Good Poems:

To be of use by Marge Piercy:

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.
I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.
I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.
**********************
From Speaking of Torture:

I find it no coincidence that the other two great books I know are Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain, and Susan Sontag, Regarding the pain of others. The purpose of torture is not to gain information; it's to destroy people, whole populations, terrorize. If he asked me, I would advise Edward Snowden to kill himself if any official comes to his door to extradite. Rush into the bathroom and shoot himself through the head. Trump will use him mercilessly to gain huge points with parts of his base.

I have to understand more what is meant by the word "hauntology." What happens to people is they lose their belief in themselves as human beings: stripped, shaven, forced to defecate and urinate in public with nothing to clean them, tortured beyond endurance (the introduction says the Bush techniques were as bad as the Nazis), they live beyond death. They are like people who have died.  This is what Gabaldon captures in her fantasy Outlander -- only she does not realize there is no coming back. That's what this introduction says. A key element: from the time we are young we look to others for help. We expect help. This is from our relationship with our mother. The tortured person sees no one will help him or her. That abandonment is central to the new view of others and life that cannot be gotten over.


**********************


Refugees in the Underground (1941) by Henry Moore
This week's round-up:

I urge all those interested in what's happening in the US tonight (except it was written before Trump's gov't began rounding up and deporting hundreds of illegal immigrants where their crime is false identification -- you can't get a job without such identification), to read it David Bromwich in the London Review of Books: Act One, Scene One:
:
Chris Hedges (TruthDig) is often too hysterical in his rhetoric; not this man.  Bromwich says we have two possibilities to hold onto this democracy: 1) the democratic party must change its behavior hugely and become a party of opposition for real; and/or 2) we must impeach Trump. If the first doesn't happen, another part and organization must emerge and start to gain power. What is it Shakespeare's Antigonus said before he fled the bear:  This is the chase: I am gone for ever.

Yes he is pleasing a load of his followers but what they want (a wall, anti-immigration stance, overt looking like he's getting them jobs, "make America great again" rhetoric) is making for hardly any government at all. He never ran a public company -- where he would have had to work with other people, submit to governance, open disclosures, plan with others and his one foray was disastrous; he ran a private company with his family and loyal followers obedient to him.

The conditions for women refugees in Dunkirk are horrifying. The men running it (I suppose) have managed to make no locks on women's bathrooms.  Raped, beaten, abused, trafficked -- that's what happens to women refuges.

http://tinyurl.com/gs8pq79


It seems that Trump's campaign was in contact with members of the Russian government well before the election, and right afterwards offering such members what they could in exchange for help undermining the US election, e.g., disseminating fake news to harm Hillary Clinton. It's egregious that Trump has transparent conflicts of interest: he excluded from his Muslim ban people from countries with whom his companies do business, regardless whether they had a large number of nationals in the 9/11 attacks. These are all impeachable offenses.

Meanwhile Trump's ICE literally snatches people up in the streets who are in the US illegally, now matter how many years. They are called felons if they have used false documentation to get a job. That covers just about everyone. The analogy with Hitler gatherine up Jews is not strained. It should be regarded as legalized criminal behavior. My father used to say much of what happened in foreign policy on the part of the US and other nations was criminal, international law according to humane principles done when it hurt no gov'ts interests, but some acts are wildly worse -- bombing civilians in Yemen for example.

I don't know what I would do were I living on a block where ICE people were appearing and seeking out people who look like immigrants, stopping them and snatching them away. There is no one on my block just now as I look out my window. When I lived in NYC, out of one of my windows from early morning to early evening there were a continual movement of people, from apartment houses to shopping to the subway. I lived under the big hill of the Cloisters on the top of Manhattan.  I think I would have felt hysterical and gone wild

I read three more stories of lives wrenched and perhaps hurt badly forever by Trump's policies.The state depart has notified a group of Yemenese students here with VISA and small scholarships all will disappear in 6 months. Yemen is a terrible place because the US facilitates and sends billions to the Saudis. Obama kept such people in the US while sending the bombs. A suicide reported over housing.

A top Trump aide recorded an altercation with a reporter that the Trump place has been targeting, then this aide edited it to try to accuse the reporter of assaulting her and threaten suit. This is ominous. It's a Trump policy: lie and then sue.  The good news is someone else recorded this too and now there is an unedited tape showing the Aide is lying. But the Aide keeps lying.  Importance: theTrump white house is recording reporters without telling them and ready to use the tapes and edit them to destroy the reporters' careers.

The Nation talks of how democrats need to peel off enough of Trump's supporters as they become disillusioned -- that's not enough. The democrats then if winning would again not answer to deep problems Hillary supporters want fixed.  They need to change their agenda to genuinely progressive like Sanders. He is slowly getting his following again but he finds that local powers refuse him room and has to fright to find places for his rallies. I read Katha Politt the other day and was astonished at how she seemed to agree with Neanderthal attitudes about women.  I know she is not a good thinker but this is hypocrisy and won't help -- it just lies there like dead spaghetti.  Who could she be addressing? Why do these columnists think berating those who voted for them and have liberal views is a good way to build a government with decent people in charge?

A group of people went to Kaine and Warner's offices (Virginia Senators)  just this morning. They said the election was stolen and Kaine ought to be our Vice President.  I was disappointed last night though to see on the news on the Net no one but Goodman coming near the word impeachment. A leading democratic senator a woman looked anxious when on PBS Woodruff asked her an uncomfortable question, where is the investigator going?  She was afraid to offend her relationships with the republicans. The problem is people care more about their relationships with one another as that's the basis of politics and yet the hegemonic point of view at this point must be overturned.

By this time in Obama's first administration he had submitted to congress his stimulus package, it'd been signed and was beginning to operate. Obama had signed many executive orders which were beginning to operate. His appointees knew how to run gov't departments. The Trump white house and administration is chaotic. He spends hours obsessively watching TV news (Fox mostly) and then tweeting when something is said that fits his world view: it's true if when he repeats this his words are believed by huge numbers of people who voted for him. Against this -- or reinforcing it seems town hall meetings of Republicans across the US are filled with deeply angry voters, people who voted for Trump, angry at their coming loss of health care and fearful of loss of things they have contributed to and count on (social security, medicare). No jobs have materialized for these people

It is true that Trump's gov't by fiat (executive orders) and the congress have done a lot of harm and are planning to do more. They are dismantling ACA, they are depriving the Consumer Finance Protection Agency, the one gov't place where ordinary citizens find active protection and information to help them against fraud of all their powers. Planned Parenthood is defunded. Women across the US with little money depend on PP for ordinary health care as well as care for their reproductive system. In the case of Bowe Bergdahl, Trump a 5 time draft dodger has made it impossible for this man to receive decent absolution -- a fair trial even, an ex-prisoner of war. Judge, Jury and Executioner

Against these developments all else pales. There has been so much worth reading and watching on the Internet (while we still have it -- it's threatened by the new FCC chair who has already refused to fund broad band access for poor people, people in rural areas, and has signed orders which corrode Net Neutrality) so I leave my reader to follow up on anything I've managed to cull.

**********************************

A little lighter:

And the word "sad" has had it. Ruined. Especially when accompanied by an exclamation point. I vow to avoid it. For those into tweeting: you might hurl the phoneme and its punctuation three times over at the World's Cunningly Moronic Tweeter at regular intervals. I can't be sad any more. Discouraged, weary, feeling grey, sorrowful, grieving, in considerable emotional pain; unhappy, depressed, discouraged, dejected, melancholy; oppressed (or Elizabethan) in the doleful dumps .... &c&c I never used the word the way the Cunning Moronic Tweeter uses it -- to express disapproval, as a form of sneer, equivalent (in what passes for a mind) to bad. an index of his coarse mean outlook. But now I won't use it at all. A ruined word. How a person uses a word, what meaning he makes of it shows what he is. A friend wrote: I agree that it is a sad use of a venerable word...

A video:

Robert Reich's videos: why the Republicans want to destroy the Affordable Care Act:



Miss Drake

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