Call It What It Is

Call It What It Is

Picture this: a corrupt and decadent family, professing to be billionaires when in fact their wealth was based on indebtedness to an enemy nation. This family, and the desperate leaders of a political party, conspire with this enemy nation to take over the Presidency of the United States. Through a series of incredible actions, some taken by individuals who were acting in “the best interest of the country,” the family gains control of the executive branch of government, and sets out to “Make America Great Again” for themselves and their foreign sponsors. Tom Clancy couldn’t have written this one, it’s way too far-fetched. Yet here we are, in what looks to be a novel of the 60’s (more like Seven Days in May or Manchurian Candidate.)

Alan Dershowitz, noted Harvard Professor and legal scholar, has argued that much of what the Trump Administration has done, while bad, does not rise to the level of criminal activity. This includes the big “C’s,” contact, cooperation and collusion with Russian Intelligence. Dershowitz does suggest that some of the other activity of Trump might be impeachable, but NOT criminal.

Deshowitz – CNN

Dershowitz panned the idea that anyone in the Trump campaign might have committed the ultimate offense: treason.

US Code 115 Defines Treason as the following:

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

The critical phrases for the Trumps: “…adheres to their enemies giving them aid and comfort within the United States…” If the Trump campaign cooperated and colluded with Russian Intelligence in an effort to win the Presidency, is that not by definition adhering? If the Trump campaign so needed to communicate with Russian Intelligence that it needed to set up a “hotline” using Russian Intelligence communications after the election, isn’t that aid and comfort?

Kushner and Russian Connection – WAPO

If it is shown that the Trump organization is in fact deeply financially indebted to Russians, and therefore highly influenced and susceptible to financial and political blackmail, doesn’t that also show adherence to an “enemy.”

Mr. Dershowitz is probably concerned that it would be difficult to prove a basic element of any crime – intent. The Trumps would say that their intent was to “make America great again,” and that they “manipulated” the Russians to get that done. Perhaps their real defense will be that they were duped by the Russians, bought and used by them. There will be a real question: were the Trumps so brilliant as to knowingly make their deal with the devil, or were so stupid that they fell for it.

The facts are not yet in. Mueller, the Senate and House Committees, and probably most importantly, the unencumbered free press of the United States, will lead us to the facts, regardless of the political barriers that will be erected along the way. But if and when the facts show “adherence and aid and comfort,” we should not shy away from calling it what it is: treason.

But the Trains Run on Time

But the Trains Run on Time

Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross was fascinated that during his visit to Saudi Arabia he didn’t see: “…a single hint of a protester anywhere there during the whole time we were there.” What he didn’t seem to realize (or care) was that protests are banned by the Saudi monarchy, with punishments ranging from imprisonment and torture to death by beheading.

CNBC – Wilbur Ross

It was an off-hand comment by a member of the Trump cabinet, who surely has grown tired of the constant drone of protest back home. And yet it seems to be an ongoing theme of the Trump Administration, to embrace world leaders with little commitment to American values such as freedom and democracy. A list of state visitors to the White House, including Turkey’s Recep Erdogan, Egypt’s el-Sisi, and an invitation to the Philippines’ President Duerte shows the Trump Administration willingness to embrace strong-arm leaders. And the President’s unwillingness to even shake the hand of German Chancellor Angela Merkel who represents a more “liberal democracy” and his tacit support of Marine Le Pen in France strengthens the concern.

Wilbur Ross, whose original connection to the President who is re-structuring Trump’s bankrupt casinos in Atlantic City, also served as the Vice Chairman of the Bank of Cyprus. That bank had direct connections to Russian money laundering schemes, particularly after the advent of US sanctions against Russian banks (due to the Ukraine incursion) and Deutsche Bank money laundering scandal.

Guardian – Ross and the Bank of Cyprus

It seems clear that the Trump Administration is enamored with leaders who can “get things done” regardless of their commitment to human rights and values. This is not particularly new for the United States; it reflects many of the attitudes we took in the Cold War. It also shows the dramatic influence the “Henry Kissinger School” of foreign policy has on this Administration.

Here’s the next step. The world leader who most directly embodies this strong-arm form of governance is Vladimir Putin. Putin, through assassination, imprisonment, bribery and intimidation rules Russia with an iron hand. The Trump Administration, despite all of the concerns of contact, cooperation and collusion, are pre-disposed to see Putin as a “get things done” kind of guy. President Trump, “hamstrung” as he is by the strictures of American Democracy, sees Putin as the kind of leader he wants to be. As the old tale goes about Mussolini in Italy, folks may have lost their freedom “but the trains run on time.”

There’s No Place Like Home

There’s No Place Like Home

President Trump was in his element, as he joined in the “Peace Swords” celebration with the Saudi Royal family. He was the center of attention, he received gifts, from medals to swords, and was praised and admired by all.

It’s the golden bubble President Trump has been in for his entire life, much like the bubble that delivered the “Good Witch of the North.” The rebellious scion of a real estate millionaire, from the beginning he has been coddled and pampered. As an adult, he would spend weeks in the bubble of Trump Tower, moving from his office to his residence to his restaurants, always “in control” of everything and, more significantly, everyone.

It’s the golden bubble that President Trump creates when he steps onto Air Force One. It’s the golden bubble that burst as his White House came apart in the last week, starting with the Comey firing and ending with a special prosecutor. No wonder he left town.

It is a Presidential tradition: when things aren’t going well at home, “get out of Dodge.” Every President has done it: Nixon went to China, Kennedy went to Berlin, Obama went to Africa. The President then becomes the focus in an arena where he has the most power: foreign policy.

Speaking of Nixon going to China, it was the cool dark shade of Henry Kissinger and the “real politic” theory that ran through Trump’s speech to the Arab summit. The United States is NOT interested in telling you how to run your lives (women in the Middle East be damned), the United States is looking for partners (money and troops) in our shared goals, the United States will support it’s friends. Build up Saudi Arabia to balance Iran, challenge the Islamic world to live up to the Koran’s peaceful intent (even avoiding the magic words of the 2016 campaign: Radical Islamic Terrorism.)

Then fly “the bubble” directly to Israel to be with friends there. Show the world how simple it will be to negotiate “the deal” between the Israelis and the Palestinians. It’s so important, you’ve put your son-in-law in charge (because in the Trump bubble, the ultimate mark of respect is family). And by the way, hope Jared Kushner isn’t “the person of interest, close to the President” that the FBI is investigating.

Next fly away to Europe, meet the Pope, and assure NATO. The bad news in all of this: there’s no place like home. And home is where the trouble is, home is where the inquiries are, and despite Trump’s desire to stay in the bubble, home will come Trump to face the impact of his actions. There’s no place like home.

When the Money Turns

When the Money Turns

The United States electoral process took a dramatic turn in 2010, when the US Supreme Court ruled in the “Citizens United” case that non-profit corporations are guaranteed “freedom of speech” whose expenditures could not be restricted.

In the decades prior to “Citizens United,” the America seemed to recognize that the influence of money in politics needed to be controlled. Starting with the post–Watergate Federal Campaign Act, the law included building a federal Presidential campaign fund. Later laws, including McCain/Feingold and other legislation, sought to put restrictions on what forces outside the actual political campaigns could do. Campaigns continued to find ways around restrictions, notably the 2008 Obama campaign, so successful with internet oriented fundraising that it passed up the Presidential campaign fund (and the restrictions created by using it) and effectively ended publicly funded Presidential campaigns.

“Citizens United” changed the game. Non-profit corporations (known politically as 527’s) could raise as much money as they could, and could shield the origin of their contributions. While “dark money” had been a part of politics (Swift Boating in the 2004 Presidential election) now it had unlimited resources.

Citizens United

Enter the billionaires. They had the money, and they had the desire to impact American politics and influence it in their favor. And while all sides of the spectrum are represented, no one used their money better than the Koch Brothers, oil billionaires out of Wichita, Kansas. The Kochs made themselves instrumental in conservative and Republican politics. They made it clear: toe their conservative line, or face a well-financed primary challenge. They financed the “tea party” Republicans. They controlled the Republican agenda.

Koch Brothers – 2010

But they weren’t the only ones. The Mercer family were also in the fray, and it is from those supported by the Mercers (Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Mike Flynn) that Trump ran his general election campaign and his White House.

The Koch Brothers sat out the Presidential election of 2016. They invested instead in the Senate and House races (those who live in Ohio will remember the anti-Strickland 89 cents campaign.) They were able to secure the Republican Senate majority, which enabled full Republican control and the ability to put conservatives on the Supreme Court.

So what has all of this have to do with today’s Trump World?

In the last week: Robert Mueller appointed as Special Counsel for the Russia Investigation, Comey fired, Trump interviewed saying that the firing was about stopping the Flynn investigation. This morning’s revelation: the Trump campaign was very aware of Flynn’s Turkey connections well before the inauguration and still made him National Security Advisor. Today the money will make all the difference.

The Republicans in the House and the Senate are searching for a way to respond to the worsening situation at the White House. The media will say that they are afraid of coming out against the President because of their concern of the backlash of the Trump voters. The media will also say that Republicans still hope to get their agenda through the Congress, and that they want to keep the President’s behavior off of the Congressional Agenda for as long as possible.

The media may be right about all of that, but there is an even more important point. The Republican majority is controlled by the money: the fate of the Trump Presidency rests more with the determination of the Koch Brothers, the Mercers and others, than with the conscience of the Republican legislatures.

When will Congress truly act, and ask the big question: should Trump be the President?

We’ll have to wait, wait for when the money turns.

Take a Breath

Take a Breath

It is absolutely breathtaking: the speed at which the Trump Administration creates a crisis, so fast that the seemingly impeachable offense of last week gets usurped by the seemingly impeachable offense of yesterday. Events move so fast, that it is difficult to take it all in. Here’s this week’s list.

1. The President of the United States stated that he fired the Director of the FBI, James Comey, in part because of the Russia Investigation: possible obstruction of justice
nbc: Holt interviews Trump

2. The President of the United States invited the Russian Foreign Minister and the Russian Ambassador into the Oval Office, then revealed classified information which may put intelligence sharing agreements at risk (as well as possibly individuals)
WAPO – Trump leaks intel

3. The Senate Intelligence Committee has requested and will receive money laundering data from the Treasury Department division charged with tracking potential illegal transactions (the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network)
Reuters – Senate asks for financial information

4. The drip, drip, drip of information on the Trump Campaign staff connections to Russia continue, with the White House visit of Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahayan (MBZ) who connected the Russian Intelligence agencies and Trump surrogates in the Seychelles prior to the Inauguration.
WAPO – Trump surrogates meet Russian in Seychelles

5. And finally, the rumors of federal sealed indictments in Federal Courts, in both the Southern District of New York (Manhattan) and the Eastern District of Virginia. Some rumors even mention Donald Trump as being named in an indictment.
EXCLUSIVE: Sealed Indictment granted against Donald Trump

To try to change the subject – Trump just tweeted about “LEAKERS” even though he should be worried about HIS OWN leaking!!

Take a breath. The President is not going to resign today, nor will he be impeached tomorrow. All of this is a jigsaw puzzle, only the straight edges are starting to be put in place. We don’t know what the puzzle will ultimately look like yet, we aren’t even sure if it’s a portrait or a landscape. All we know is the tantalizing images of the little pieces we think we have fit together correctly – it will take time to complete. It was June of 1972 when the “White House Plumbers” broke into the Democratic Headquarters at the Watergate Office Building. It was May of 1973 when the first Senate Watergate Committee hearings began. It was May of 1974 when the House of Representatives began Impeachment hearings, and August 9th, 1974 when Nixon resigned. That’s over two years (and my junior and senior year of high school!)

The President of the United States is immune from judicial prosecution. You can’t convict him of a “crime” while he’s President, all of that must wait until he is out of office. That leaves the political process as the only possible way to remove him.

IF IF IF

If Donald Trump were to be impeached or resign, if the Republican majorities of the House and the Senate were even willing to entertain the idea of removing him, if any of this were to occur, it will take time. Stop holding your breath!!!!!!!!

Disgruntled Former Employee

Disgruntled Former Employee

We’ve heard it time and time again: “a statement was made by a ‘disgruntled former employee’.” They quit or were fired, what they have to say is completely colored by the fact that they left the employer, they are “disgruntled” a word that can only mean that they are willing to lie in order to get back at the former employer.

Here’s a quote from a contracting business website:

He was called a “phone buff, pompas, (sic) arrogant, street angel – closed doors devil.”
Wow. But that was just the start. The former employee added, “This Executive is afflicted with accute (sic) narcissism, a pronounce inclination toward moral insanity, utter lack of empathy for our clients, management, staff or professional tradesman.”

Contracting Business.com

The White House strategy of the day is to paint James Comey as “the disgruntled former employee.” Trump leads the strategy, characterizing Comey as a “showboat” (my mother would say the pot calling the kettle black) and as someone begging to keep his job (he wanted to come over to dinner and asked to stay on as FBI Director.) As Comey or his friends began to try to correct the record, Trump tweeted:

“James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

When Comey does eventually began to talk about what happens, the White House will have already begun the smear: disgruntled former employee. This way they can discount anything he says, and at the same time warn others – this can happen to you (Mike Flynn, Paul Manafort, and the rest.)

The problem for the White House is their absolute tone deafness to history. With the ghosts of Watergate already haunting the halls of both the Executive Mansion and the Capitol, they continue to conjure up the memories: Henry Kissinger on Monday, tapes on Friday. All of the “old men” of Watergate days are re-appearing and comparing today’s actions to the past. The White House doesn’t get it – they don’t have the perspective to see that much of that is their own doing. It is just one more factor that makes the Trump Administration so troubling.

And what they also don’t remember is the famous Godfather quote: “Keep you friends close and your enemies closer.” Comey is a “Boy Scout”, and folks will find it very difficult to believe he has taken on the role as “disgruntled former employee” particularly with the amount of praise Trump has heaped on him over the past year. Even the most avowed Trumpster will begin asking questions. Trump should have kept Comey in-house, giving Trump more control and access. Instead, now he’s got an unfettered Comey who can (and maybe will) say what he thinks. Trump has also given the core of the FBI and the rest of the intelligence community a martyr to rally around. All in all, not a good week for the Administration.

Into the Darkness

Why in the world would President Trump fire James Comey as FBI Director.
What is the upside for Trump?
1. He gets rid of a “wild card” FBI Director who seems to follow his mind/conscious wherever it leads him
2. The Dept. of Justice regains “institutional control” over the FBI, no longer will it be perceived as a separate entity
3. If Comey was getting close to Trump or his inner circle, it will delay the inevitable.
4. Democrats should be happy – they didn’t like Comey either (really, it’s true!!!!)
5. Getting rid of Comey might put the “she would’ve won if it weren’t for the October Surprise” stuff to rest.
6. He gets to say “YOU’RE FIRED” to another guy on TV (Comey wasn’t even given the common courtesy of notice, he was out of town in the middle of a speech when the Networks began broadcasting his ouster).

But lets really go into the darkness and conspiracy of what might have happened in the Comey firing. Unlike many of these posts, let’s delve into the “maybes and might bes”, not necessarily the facts.

1. Comey had just gone to the Deputy Attorney General to ask for additional funding for the Russian Investigation. According to “unnamed sources in the White House” Trump was furious about the continuing focus on Russia.
2. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is a well seasoned and respected lawyer. Reading his memo on Comey to the Attorney General, it sounds more like a political hatchet job than a lawyerly account of why Comey should be fired. Where are the citations of Dept. of Justice policy, where are the legal precedents? Instead, it is a document full of “I think” and “others say.” I would expect a great deal more from him, even on two weeks notice. The suspicion – he was handed the document by a political flak, and told to sign on. It’s too bad he couldn’t find the courage of Eliot Richardson or Don Ruckleshaus (from Saturday Night Massacre/Nixon era) and stand up to the politics. Instead, he signed on, and lost his opportunity to write history.
3. Comey, who had access to the necessary intelligence to know, discounted Trump’s claim that “Trump Tower was tapped.” It angered Trump so much, he wanted Comey out.
4. Rudy Guiliani, a well known Comey critic, all of a sudden is in and out of the White House again. Doesn’t this just sound like a Guiliani move, particularly when you remember his “contacts” with the FBI New York Office who were so upset with the fact charges didn’t come out of the Clinton Email investigations.
5. Attorney General Sessions, ostensibly recused from all decisions regarding the Russia investigation, helps lead the way to decapitate the Russia investigation. It’ll be fun to hear how he justifies that in testimony in front of some committee.
6. “Teflon” Vice President Pence was right in the middle of this decision, which also puts him right in the center of what could be seen as an obstruction of the Russia investigation.
7. And finally, what are the optics of bringing Nixon’s Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, into the White House the day after the firing? Who in the West Wing thought that was a good idea?

So what’s the next move?
The pressure is going to be on the Congressional Republicans. How long can they stand it, before they either: call for a special prosecutor (also the way that Rosenstein, the official who has that responsibility, can redeem himself) or set up a different investigative committee. The problem with all of that – time time time!!!

If nothing happens – will this guarantee a change in power in the House (more likely) or the Senate (less likely) or both? With the full investigative power of either or both arrayed against the Trump administration, it will grow very ugly. Think of the Benghazi investigation on steroids – or for folks my age – think of the Watergate investigation at quadruple the speed!

IF this all comes down, IF the Trump administration and Trump himself collapses, we can look back at this moment as the true beginning of the end. In Watergate, it was the moment when Alexander Butterfield acknowledged that there were tapes of all White House conversations, in this one, the day Comey was canned.

Quid Pro Quo

Quid Pro Quo (to get something for something)

President Donald Trump, through his newly appointed Deputy Attorney General, fired the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Comey, Tuesday night. Doesn’t seem to be quite fair, not a “quid pro quo,” considering many feel that Comey was instrumental in getting Trump elected to the Presidency in the first place with the “October Surprise” announcement.

Sonny Corelone(the Godfather) once said “…the goddamned FBI don’t respect nothin’…” Clearly Donald Trump felt the same way, as his letter from Tuesday night shows:

“While I appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nonetheless concur with the judgment in the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.”

Trump’s own letter made it clear that his focus was on the possibility of an FBI probe into his own behavior in the 2016 election. He took the opportunity to get rid of the man leading the investigation that could end up there. As the noose grows tighter around Flynn, Manafort, Stone and the others; the path to Trump himself may be opening. What better way to delay and deflect, than to decapitate the agency doing the investigating.

The details are ridiculous. Comey was fired ostensibly because he bungled the Hillary Clinton email investigation. The Deputy Attorney General’s critical letter could have been written by the Democratic National Committee. It states that Comey should not have held a press conference about the Clinton emails in July, should not have released the “October Surprise” and should not have commented on any of it.

Trump, of course, rejoiced in all of those actions at the time, praising Comey for being fair and above the political process. Now that investigation has turned to him he has the “quid pro quo:” “You’re Fired.”

So what now? Clearly the firing will have a chilling effect on the career officials of the FBI and the Justice Department who are investigating the Trump campaign. The message is clear: start getting close and you’re out. Ask Comey, or Sally Yates.

But just as clearly, this firing will have a galvanizing effect on the Democrats and the Press, and place more pressure on the key group in this whole mess: the Republican moderates in the Senate. McCain, Portman, Collins and the like are being pushed to take a side. They don’t like Trump anyway, and they are also the ones who saw the center of the Republican party slip away. Now they are the key to what happens next. The same is true from the “Tuesday Group” in the House of Representatives; they have the future of the Republican Party, and perhaps the nation, in their hands.

Like the Watergate investigation, a Special Prosecutor should be appointed to oversee the investigation. That would require Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (since Attorney General Sessions has recused himself from this issue) to make the appointment, but it seems unlikely he would do so after he followed Trump’s lead to fire Comey.

If a Special Prosecutor is unattainable, then the investigation will be left to the Republican dominated House and Senate. The question then is the same question former President Obama asked on Sunday night:

As everyone here now knows, this great debate is not settled but continues. And it is my fervent hope and the hope of millions that regardless of party, such courage is still possible, that today’s members of Congress, regardless of party, are willing to look at the facts and speak the truth even when it contradicts party positions.

We are left to hope that those moderate Republicans will find their Profile in Courage, not for a quid pro quo, but what’s right for the United States of America.

Washington Post – Documents

up next – “When will the money turn?”

If They Only Had a Heart

If They Only Had a Heart (Karma’s a Bitch)

Representative Mo Brooks, Republican of Alabama, was one of the members of the Freedom Caucus that directed the Trump Health Care bill. His statement on the impact of the bill (if it were to become law) on those with pre-existing conditions is not only significant, but horrifying in its implications.

Mo Brooks on Pre-Existing Conditions

For those who choose not to click on the link – here’s the synopsis:
Brooks stated that in order to bring insurance premiums down for those who have lived “a healthy life” and “done all of the right things” sick people (those with pre-existing conditions) should pay more. While he then states that not all sick people are at fault for being sick, we need to balance their needs against the needs of the “healthy” to pay less.

The clear frame of reference: sick people are getting what they deserve.

Mo Brooks is not a “barn burner” like former Congressman Joe Walsh. He represents a tremendously conservative part of the world, and was born and raised there:

Brooks Campaign Biography

Raul Labrador, Congressman from Idaho (and the Hispanic Conservative Republican hope) stated:
“No one dies because they don’t have access to health care.”
Labrador – News and Guts

It is of course the fallback position for de-regulating health insurance. NO ONE DIES – because they can always go the the emergency room. NO ONE DIES – because they can get emergency care without insurance. It ignores the whole proven effect of preventative care, of making prescription drug use affordable and therefore consistent, and of early detection and intervention. THE REALITY – many will die if their only access to medical care is emergency care. Not only will many die, but their medical care will be delivered in the MOST EXPENSIVE way possible, through emergency services.

And the argument that the truly poor can get on Medicaid starts to collapse, when Medicaid is on the chopping block. Fewer people get insurance, more people DO get their only medical care through emergency rooms.

By the way, when all of the emergency care is charged off, where do the costs go? Who pays? Oddly enough, not the government. The cost is absorbed into the overall operating costs of the hospital, those costs are then distributed among the paying customers. So in the end, we pay, we pay through higher hospital costs (or higher insurance costs) to cover those who can’t pay.

I don’t believe (or choose not to, anyway) that Mo Brooks and Raul Labrador are so hard hearted to wish people to die. They want to lower the costs of premiums for their chosen constituents (and reduce taxes and controls on their chosen contributors.) The problem, taking care of the “chosen” means that those who truly can’t afford insurance are left even farther behind.

So what’s the deal? Insurance companies don’t want to insure people who are more likely to get sick. That sounds like a stupid statement, but it’s completely valid. Insurance companies aren’t about protecting people, they ARE about making money. Sick people cost a whole lot more than well people (who just pay into but don’t take out of their insurance policies.) So if they can find a way to “bring competition into the market” by “charging more for pre-existing conditions” they can make more money. From all of the sound bites, the current House bill states that as long as you don’t drop (or get dropped) from your policy, you won’t have your premium raised for a condition. However, if you change jobs, if you fail to continue your current coverage, or if you somehow lapse in coverage, you are vulnerable to a huge increase under the current House bill.

“But we have returned power to the states, where they are closer to the people, rather than the federal government!!” Power to the states, where gerrymandered districts have guaranteed that insurance companies will be in control of any legislation. States can get waivers from even the modest requirements that the House bill suggests.

Maybe the title of this blog should be “Karma’s a Bitch” rather than “IF They Only Had A Heart.” Because as cruel as it may seem, I hope that the authors and supporters of the House bill may someday face the results of their legislative prowess. Because if “Karma’s a Bitch,” they are in for some difficult times.

America’s Heart

America’s Heart?

My vision of America is a nation that cares about others, both here and abroad. A nation that at its heart is invested in people, not process. A nation that is willing to sacrifice to make everyone’s life better, not just those who already have successful lives. A nation that believes in the value of the individual, not at the exclusion of the many but as part of a complex goal that states “we can have it all.”

As an educator for forty years, I have seen the educational “establishment” move from caring about the individual to caring only about process. Process: in “educationese” it’s all about numbers, measuring proficiency and growth, whether teachers follow curriculum and meet testing standards. We then add another layer of “measuring” to derive statistical values to determine whether someone is a “good” teacher.

Caring about individuals: in real terms it’s about meeting the needs of students at their level. It might mean dealing with the societal issues the students are faced with, it might mean getting breakfast or coffee for students who can’t sleep at home, it might mean – heaven forbid – not following today’s curriculum to deal with real student issues (without penalty for the teacher.) It might be caring about kids, rather than statistics.

This “process priority” has devolved down to the lowest level; it is the rare Principal or school district bucks this trend. It makes our schools into “machines” rather than places that nurture kids, we are turning out “widgets” not students. And we have “normed” teachers, taking the best and beating them down to average, so that we can take the worst and try to force them up to average. The penalty is huge, both for our best students who are no longer challenged, and our worst students who are left to fail.

In education we have abandoned the hope of the turn of the 21st century, when we saw a model of empowering teachers to make decisions and improve both the education and lives of their students. Education is now a “top down” model: the administrators govern the employees, and teachers are rendered powerless. For a teacher to suggest differently means real threats and job sanctions.

In our “everyday” world: we care less about the passenger on the airline, more whether that seat can be cleared for an airline employee. We care more about removing an “illegal alien” than about the mother with four children who’s lived a productive life in this country for many years. We care more about the money in our pocket than the life of an infant. Ask Joe Walsh, former Congressman best known for screaming out LIAR to President Obama during the State of the Union Address. When talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel spoke about how he felt during surgery on his infant child, Walsh came back with:
“Your sad story doesn’t obligate me to pay for somebody else’s health care.”

Walsh and Kimmel

In our political world our President should represents the values of the United States as well as the interests of the United States. We now have a President whose view is completely “transactional” (read process): we don’t care what actions or immorality other leaders take, if they can help us we use them. We can invite a murdering President of the Philippines to “come see me at the White House,” or soft-pedal the insanity of North Korea’s Kim, or instantly change our mind about China’s role in the world.

We have appointed a woman to oversee a national program fighting teen pregnancy who doesn’t believe in contraception.

Trump picks anti contraception appointee

We have appointed an EPA chief who rejects the science that protects our environment.

Pruitt and Science NYT

We have a Congress still attempting to pass a Health Care Bill that will ultimately deny insurance to 24 million. They seem determined to find a way to force those who are unfortunate enough to have a pre-existing medical condition to either be forced off of insurance or forced to pay exorbitant fees. They hide this by pushing the heartless decision of cutting them off onto the states, but it’s there.

The America of 2017 grows heartless. Donald Trump is a result of this trend, his election was not the cause. We need to look deeper into ourselves to find the flaw and the cure for our hearts.