Categories
Commentary Opinion

We’ve Allowed Trump To Be Trump, a Crook

IMAGE: Draft copy of the Declaration of Independence.

* * *

Our country, the United States of America, is at risk. The centuries-old system of checks and balances is eroding. The pillars of our democratic ways are under attack. In many ways, the government of the people has become the property of big business, of corporate America, and of a behind-the-scenes neo oligarchy. Our nation is falling apart.

The president of the United States and his allies are pillaging the land. Old safeguards that were once set to protect our natural resources and the environment are being removed. Big oil is winning. Unfortunately, we the people and our descendants will end up paying for the government’s trespasses.

Other protections are also being removed. For immigrants, for asylum seekers, for voters, for the poor. The nation that was once a berth for those seeking freedom and opportunity is becoming a lawless land favoring the needs of the rich, of special interest groups.

Our values are also eroding. Lying is okay now; unpresidential conduct is also okay. Offensive language is spewed everyday by the man that was elected to lead and comfort the people. He does it in tweets, on camera, behind the scenes. It’s his way of leading he thinks. Those who follow and support him also follow suit and mimic the President’s lying and repugnant ways. Our moral compass has gone berserk.

Some people blame our woes on mainstream media. In a sense they’re right. Newspapers, radio, TV, and digital news outlets have thrived in many ways ever since Trump announced his candidacy for the presidency in June of 2015. They helped him get elected by fastidiously focusing on him and his daily diatribes. By giving him too much airtime and digital bytes and by splashing his fear mongering remarks on the nation’s dailies and TV screens. There’s no doubt, the Russian meddling helped get Trump elected, but some of the blame belongs to the smoke-filled rooms of mainstream media.

There are other culpable media entities, by the way, that were just as guilty of helping Trump rise to the highest political office in the land. Social media venues were the most influential. This new take on spreading real and fake news brought in a new slant to political campaigning. It helped Trump for sure. Will it help again? Who knows. It will be up to the honchos in those dot coms.

But the guiltiest of all parties is us, we the people. We have allowed the human aberration called Donald J. Trump to continue to destroy our land, our nation, and our democratic ways. And we have done nothing of note to rein in his devious practices. We have allowed him to continue to act above the law, to go around Congress and the courts, and to rule by executive order. We the people are the real culprits. We have allowed the pillage to go on. And that is sad.

However, we still have time to mend our ways and do the right thing, to fight back and to petition the government for a redress of our grievances, as guaranteed by the First Amendment. But, we must act with urgency, before it is too late. Before the pernicious President of the United States of America and his cronies completely destroy our nation.

AUTHOR: Pedro Chávez

Categories
Commentary Stories

Reyna Grande Comes to Frisco

IMAGE: Reyna Grande signs books at the Frisco campus of Collin College. Photos by Pedro Chávez

 

Sometimes you get the unexpected. That happened on Tuesday night, September 25th, at the Collin College Conference Center in Frisco, Texas, during a Hispanic Heritage Month event that featured Reyna Grande. She is the author of a couple of novels and the award-winning memoir The Distance Between Us. A sequel to the autobiography, A Dream Called Home, will be released on October 2nd. Her memoir is used widely in schools across the country. She was born in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico, in 1975.

The event was made possible by the Student Activity Fee Advisory Committee (SAFAC) and the Center for Scholarly and Civic Engagement (CSCE), and was spearheaded by communications studies professor Whitney Pisani. She teaches at the Collin College Plano campus. Professor Pisani had been in contact with Ms. Grande for the past year, trying to find a way to bring her to the school for the speaking engagement. The deal was finally wrapped up about four weeks ago, according to the professor.

It was probably worth the wait, especially for students who read the memoir as part of their class requirements and for others that were present at the event, because Ms. Grande didn’t disappoint. Besides explaining how she ended up coming to the United States as an undocumented immigrant in the mid-nineteen-eighties, she also discussed some of the content of the book The Distance Between Us, and answered a few preselected questions from students. Ms. Grande’s main focus of her talk, though, was about a different kind of distance: the one that divides people.

That was the unexpected part of the presentation. She first mentioned the current “Hispanophobia” that according to her is being promoted by the current administration, vilifying people of Mexican ancestry in the United States. But she also explained that blaming newcomers to the country has been around for a while. She mentioned, as an example, Founding Father Ben Franklin’s fear that German immigrants would not assimilate and President Theodore Roosevelt’s verified anti-immigrant’s beliefs.

“There have been many dark times in our history,” Ms. Grande said as she recalled the discrimination of Irish immigrants, the Chinese Exclusion Act, and the internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War. But she was also hopeful, mainly about the current state of affairs and name calling that is taking place in some corners of America.

“Fifteen years from now,” she said, “we are going to look back and realize how we came together as a country.”

Ms. Grande is probably right. Judging by the full house of diverse students and others that came to listen to her at the conference center, the inner soul of the country seems to be on the right track. Especially with schools and professors that promote the understanding of other peoples’ cultures and idiosyncrasies, like Collin College and professor Pisani. Institutions and folks that effectively take steps to shorten the distance between us, trying to eradicate misunderstandings, ignorance and other ills that tend to pull us apart.

“I want to be a global citizen,” mentioned Ms. Grande towards the end of her speech. It was another hopeful thought about people and about an often divided world.

“We can come together as a global community,” she added.

 

AUTHOR: Pedro Chávez

 

Categories
Commentary Opinion

Perilous Times, The End Could Be Near

IMAGE: A street in New York, sometime in the winter of 2019. Themexicannextdoor art by Rebeka Schoffer.

 

It is so “1984,” so “Brave New World,” so Nazi Germany. In a way, it’s also “The end is near,” the end of times, Armageddon. But a good chunk of Americans don’t see it that way. They liked what the reality TV showman said before he was elected president and continue to like what he says now. It’s stuff that talks to their core angst, their turbid idiosyncrasies. They also like his bravado, his tough pulpit talk, his trashing of a world they do not fully understand and the subliminal promise for America to return to the way it was when mostly white men ran the joint. His followers hope to soon go back to those days, the good old days.

They like Trump, his Hitler-like charisma, and his disparaging talk about people of color. They also like his dictator-like pseudo qualities and approve of his pursuit to legislate by executive order. They like him, there is no doubt, because they don’t know any better. They’re just ignorant Trump ditto heads. On the other hand, that blind allegiance, which is constantly being fomented by Trump’s incendiary tweets and live comments, is dangerously helping propel our nation into lawlessness. It’s scary.

Many on the Trump camp are okay with his constant lying, too, and his cheating and his alternative reality. Or with his own kind of “newspeak” and “doublethink.” They’re also okay with his caging of the children of asylum seeking immigrants or with his attempts to do away with due process in our legal system. They openly support his “big brother” approach to running the government and his fondness for ruthless dictators from distressed nations. Trump is the ditto heads hero, there is no doubt. They don’t really realize it, but they’re helping destroy America. America the beautiful.

Donald J. Trump, the forty-fifth president of the United States, however, is no hero. Not to me, anyway. He’s a bum. The known facts speak for themselves. Besides being a sociopath and a liar, Trump doesn’t care about anyone but himself. He’s also a narcissist. He loves attention and adulation. He demands trust from those around him, but he trusts no one. My take is that if he were to have a dog, he wouldn’t trust the pet. Trump has no real friends, either, just the convenient type. The dog, if he had one, would be his friend though. Dogs are true friends.

Of course, the psychological quirks of Donald Trump wouldn’t matter much, unless one had a business or personal relationship with him and that stuff got in the way. Unfortunately, his equanimity or lack thereof, is important to all of us, not only in this nation, but throughout the world. Being the president of the most powerful country on the planet requires a great amount of levelheadedness. Trump doesn’t have it and has proven it by his actions on the international stage. He has antagonized our traditional allies and has acted recklessly while dealing with important matters of international stature. He has gone back on his word and has thrown our world’s friends under the proverbial bus. Trump is an idiot, if you were to ask me. No wonder the former secretary of state Rex Tillerson called him “a moron.”

And that is the big problem. A moron is in charge of our nuclear arsenal and our military. Based on what he has done on complex matters, which he mostly doesn’t truly understand, things like trade tariffs and international commerce, how soon will it be before the moron in charge launches an unnecessary warlike action against some country, maybe a nuke, just to satisfy his narcissistic needs?

It’s scary, as I said before.

 

AUTHOR: Pedro Chávez

Categories
Commentary Opinion

Mexico: America’s Second Largest Export Market

IMAGE: Flags from the three NAFTA nations: Canada, Mexico and the United States.

 

The United States needs Mexico just as much as Mexico needs the United States. But few media pundits dwell about it. It’s boring stuff. Besides, it isn’t the kind of content that draws readers to a newspaper, eyes and ears to the TV screen or viewers to a website. The topic isn’t the “if it bleeds it leads” type of news that media folks hunger for. It’s just a reality about an ever-growing symbiotic relationship between two countries next to each other, one rich, the other one not so rich.

Nowadays, when it comes to Mexico or news about Mexicans, most of the coverage is usually tied to the drivel that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth regarding the Spanish-speaking nation to the south. The common thread in his comments about Mexicans, by the way, is trash talk; the kindling he relies on to fire up his rabid political base. It works for him, there’s no doubt. It helped him launch his successful presidential campaign a couple of years ago, and continues to work for him whenever he needs to resort to a media distraction for political reasons.

Trump is a shrewd guy, that’s for sure; shrewd, as in cagey and conniving, like most snake oil salesmen. And like most sly and underhanded benders of the truth, he often discards the facts and turns to lies to support his bravado. That’s how he’s able to sell his wares to a large segment of America that likes what he says and follow him blindly. It’s sad.

When it comes to Mexico and the Mexicans, though, his uncalled for trash talk and his international trade actions are about to backfire on him. The proverbial you know what is also about to hit the fan. Trump folks in Iowa, Wisconsin, Texas and other states will soon “suffer the slings and arrows of an outrages fortune” because of the trade war started by the quirky and grandstanding president.

Soon after Trump decided to impose a tariff on steel and aluminum imports from Mexico and other countries, the nation to the south retaliated with a twenty percent tariff on pork shoulders and legs. Mexico is the second largest market for U.S. pork exports, by the way, and last year bought about a billion dollars of the product from American suppliers. Talk about Iowa farmers that voted for Trump getting financially hurt if the tariff on pork remains.

More than a friend of America, Mexico is the third largest U.S. trading partner, following China and Canada. It’s also the second largest importer of U.S. goods and services. Canada is the largest. In 2017, Mexico’s imports from the United States reached over $243 billion. Only Canada purchased more that year ($300 billion). China, by the way, America’s largest trading partner, only imported $130 billion in goods and services from the United States in 2017. These figures are based on information published by the U.S. Census Bureau.

If commercial relations between Mexico and its neighbor to the north continue to go sour because of Trump’s actions, the negative economic impact will be monumental. Some states will feel it more than others. Texas, for example, exported over $97 billion to Mexico in 2017. There’s a huge potential “ouch” hovering over the Lone Star State if Trump keeps up his craziness. Wisconsin’s exports to Mexico at $3.2 billion are much smaller, but still significant. Lots of dairy products are sent to Mexico from that state. Corn exports will also get hurt. Last year Mexico imported $19 billion of American corn, but with all the Trump trash talk about NAFTA, Mexicans are turning to South America, mainly Brazil, for some of their corn needs. That’s another big “ouch.” The picture doesn’t look good. It’s really pretty ominous for a lot of farmers and many other hard working Americans.

Trump often exaggerates and lies, but figures don’t. They call it like it is. And like it has been. When it comes to Mexico and Mexicans, many Americans, especially those under the Trumpian spell, need to realize that the nation to the south is not the enemy. It is actually a friend and a needed trading partner.

Pogo, of comic strip fame, summarized well many years ago. The enemy is us. Yes, us, for allowing a boastful reality TV showman to run our country.

 

AUTHOR: Pedro Chávez

 

 

Categories
Commentary Opinion

Donald Trump, a Bad, Bad Hombre

IMAGE: Donald Trump, the smack-talker in chief.

 

Some folks love talking smack. Donald Trump is one of them. He insults people all the time. But I understand; he does it because he gets away with it. And because a great chunk of white America is okay with his vile behavior. He certainly likes to berate us Mexicans, I’m telling you. He launched his presidential campaign doing so and a lot of folks loved it. He called us this and that, but mainly criminals. He was probably told to go after us so he could incite the sometimes dormant bigotry that lies beneath the outer lining of some people. We were an easy pick, after all, we the Mexicans in America often become the scapegoats and get blamed for some of the country’s ills.

Pandering to that voter base worked for Trump and got him elected. That base is a big and significant segment of the population, made up by both, passive and outspoken men and women that live and breed hate mongering. They have been around for ages. They’re the ignorant, the uninformed, the less educated, the racist faction of our land. Most them are republicans.

By the way, every time Trump feels that he needs to rekindle that obnoxious camp, he takes his trash talk on the road and again spouts his drivel about us. To further incite those folks, he keeps giving us names. At one time he called us “bad hombres.” Just recently, he said that we were “animals.” Ay, ay, ay. He just doesn’t get tired of talking smack about Mexicans. I guess we’ll be his punching bag for a while more. Unless, of course, he has “a great fall and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men” can no longer cover up for him and he ends up in the hoosegow (along with his crooked cronies). Boy, that would be great relief.

Talking about names, Trump is good at coming up with monikers for the folks he attacks. Instead of participating in intelligent and civil discourse about a topic or a controversy, he resorts to less scintillating ways to have his say or to defend himself. He gives his supposed opponents nicknames. It’s another way of talking smack and a defense mechanism that he probably picked up during his early years, when he had to come up with wicked names to insult other kids.

In August of last year, for example, at a time when North Korea practiced launching inter-continental ballistic missiles into the air and the ocean, threatening the West with its growing arsenals of nukes, Trump answered the call with tweets and his own line of defense: menacing words and name calling. From his golf club in New Jersey, the president said that the threat from North Korea would “be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.” A few months later, Trump referred to Kim Jong Un, the North Korean dictator, as the “Little Rocket Man.”

It was just smack talk. The Trump kind. By late April of this year, he changed his tune and referred to Jong Un as a “very honorable” person as the two countries prepared for a summit between both presidents, to broker a deal on Pyongyang’s nuclear program. Amazing. So easy to see, Trump’s only about trash talk. His track record speaks for him. He has no morals, no backbone, and not a pinch of manliness. He changes his mind at the whim of the wind and the words he spews are devoid of substance, of worthiness. I call it talking smack.

And not being an “hombre.”

 

AUTHOR: Pedro Chávez

 

Categories
Commentary Opinion

Time to Help Central Americans

PHOTO: Partial image of a recent caravan to the United States from Central America.

 

The trails a blood and tears abound in Central America. Some of those mournful traces are buried in the past, but plenty still paint with signs of agony and despair the pillaged region. A great chunk of that area was once the home of Mayan prowess and knowhow. Today that land with such a glorious past has become the dwelling of hopelessness and strife. The roots of their ills go back a while, at least to a time that predates the Spaniards, when the ancestors of today’s inhabitants were forced to move from one to another haunt, leaving their urban digs behind for still unknown reasons.

Then came the conquistadores and also the pirates, especially in Panama. They sucked the earth dry of its wealth and decimated the indigenous population with wars and disease. They also plundered the region with slave trade. The pirates did their thing and stole what the Spaniards had stolen, but also destroyed waterfront garrisons like the one in Panama Viejo.

Then came the American villains, once Central Americans gained their independence from Spain. One of those scoundrels was the filibuster William Walker, an American bandido and a mercenary. His main objective was to establish English-speaking colonies in the area, basically slave states. Although Walker didn’t have the blessing from the U.S. government, his actions went unchecked. The South supported him, though. On July 12 of 1856, he took over the presidency of Nicaragua and held the position for almost a year, until he was defeated by a coalition of Central American governments. Because of political pressure from Costa Rica and other countries in the coalition, he was detained by the U.S. Navy on May 1, 1857, and repatriated to United States, but later set free.

Then, in the early 1870s, more Americans came, not to set up slave colonies, but to build railroads and eventually steal the land and on it raise bananas. It was the beginning of a long and unfriendly friendship between railroad barons, and later other tycoons, and the people they basically enslaved in the banana plantations. The era also marked the beginning of ongoing meddling by the United States in the internal political affairs of those countries. It was done with the excuse of protecting the rights of Americans and of American enterprises, which had varied and storied names. The United Fruit Company and Standard Fruit come to mind.

By the beginning of the twentieth century, the region had become in many ways an American colony. The United States had its hands all over those countries and did whatever it wished there. Instead of paying Colombia for the right to build a transisthmian canal, Teddy Roosevelt and the stars and stripes nation persuaded a few Panamanians to declare their independence from their motherland.

There were many other awful and illegal acts perpetrated by the United States. To stop other countries from gaining a foothold in Nicaragua or to build a canal there, U.S. Marines occupied the country from 1912 until 1933. Again, the excuse for the occupation was always the same: to protect Americans living there. Once the Marines abandoned Nicaragua, the United States left Nicaragua’s Guardia Nacional in charge. It was led by General Anastasio Somoza. He was ruthless, but had the backing of the U.S. President. In 1939, FDR allegedly said the following about the Nicaraguan leader: “Somoza may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.”

In a covert operation, America’s CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) deposed the democratically elected president of Guatemala Jacobo Árbenz in 1954. The meddling in that country continues even today.

In mid-December of 1989, George H.W. Bush launched Operation Just Cause to go after Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega. The excuses for the assault were many, but none of them justified the casualties caused. A few Americans died, but close to one thousand Panamanians, mostly civilians, were killed by friendly and unfriendly fire. El Chorrillo, a barrio I well knew when I was stationed in the Canal Zone in the late nineteen sixties, was destroyed. Noriega was soon caught and deposed, but the price paid to catch a former U.S. intelligence informant was way too high.

The most atrocious meddling in the region by the United States took place recently, in the 1980s, during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. It involved the Contras, U.S. supported right-wing rebels mainly based in Honduras. The objective was to topple the newly elected Nicaraguan government and to halt the spread of communism in the region. The strife and the aftermath of the battles, though, along with other civil unrest, turned Honduras, El Salvador and other neighboring countries into a permanent war zone. Again, the United States done it. But many Central Americans are the ones paying for the meddling, often with their lives or those of their offspring.

It’s up to us to fix the messes we left behind. And give shelter to those whose nations were destroyed by the whims and miscalculations of some our national leaders. The current government, however, instead of owning up to past mistakes, is closing the doors to most Central American immigrants and cancelling Temporary Protected Status (TPS) visas to Hondurans, Nicaraguans and Salvadorians. How sad.

FINAL NOTE: The United States often acts like the usual miscreant that jams the office copier and doesn’t fix the mess, and gets out of there before anyone catches him red handed and can point to him as the culprit. And when caught in the act, he’s the kind that will surely deny that he did it. But our country doesn’t have to act that way anymore. We’re grown ups and as such we must act responsibly.

And extend a sincere and helping hand to Central America.

 

AUTHOR: Pedro Chávez

Categories
Commentary Opinion

Pomp, Circumstance, and the Downward Spiral

IMAGE: Table settings for the Macron-Trump state dinner at the White House.

 

The setting was the White House, the event a state dinner. The first one in the era of Trump. It was conceived to honor the President of France and his wife, Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron. First Lady Melania planned the gig, an opulent rendezvous fit for royalty. It took her several months to prepare it. No expenses were spared and not even the most microscopic detail was left out. There was a cream and gold scheme for the setting, we’re told, matched by fine gold-rimmed China. The menu was not the rubber-chicken kind; the guests dined on luscious French inspired entrees: goat cheese gâteau, rack of lamb, Cajun gold rice, and other bon vivant delicacies. Most ladies in the shindig showed off their best rags. Among them, some haute couture. Melania wore a Chanel gown, Brigitte opted for Louis Vuitton, while first daughter Ivanka had a Rodarte. Almost every guest was just as pompous, presumptuous and out of touch with a world brimming with have-nots.

While one-hundred-and-twenty-plus cretinous and ostentatious wannabe bluebloods celebrated a spurious friendship, draped in fancy clothing and unashamed by their two-faced joy, a lot of women and men in our divided nation metaphorically wore black. It was mostly for the same reasons mentioned in the late Johnny Cash song, but also to remind everyone of the perils that threaten the foundation of our democracy. To tell those in Congress that still cling to the nefarious president, that they can no longer look the other way when it comes time to undo a wrong. That America will not survive unless Donald Trump is stopped from fanning the flames of discontent with his divisive hatred-filled ways.

Besides trying to kill our freedom, Trump is doing the same to our economic future, unabashedly removing the safeguards primarily meant to maintain the free enterprise principles on track, but also to protect us all from the shoddy actions and shenanigans of big business. Trump’s also hocking our nation with trillions of dollars in debt for unnecessary ends, wasting our hard earned money on objectives born in his delusional mind. One of those endeavors is a border wall to replace one that already exists. He’s also into helping his supposed buddies: tax cuts for the rich and for corporate America. The president is also into destroying our land, our piece of the earth, turning back the clock on environmental protection.

As the days, the weeks, and the months pass, Trump’s ineffective and dysfunctional presidency continues to derail the underpinnings of our democracy, our economy, and our values. As the clock ticks, our nation’s stature diminishes in the world stage, while malignant cancers keep on growing and plaguing inner America and our inner selves. The price that we the people will have to pay for the undoings carried out by Trump and his cronies, is pretty monumental. The collectors are already knocking at our doors. As we await for the nightmarish situation to end, some of us keep hoping for better times. But they won’t get here soon enough. Not as long as the cowards in Congress renege on their duties and fail to do what is right.

In the meantime, I’m hoping no one tells me to eat cake.

 

AUTOR: Pedro Chávez

Categories
Commentary Opinion

Media Outlets Profit in Trump Era

IMAGE: Donald Trump during presidential campaign. iStock photo (Getty Images)

 

The legendary king of late night TV, Johnny Carson, would sometimes blame a “slow news day” for the lack of comedic material for his standup. It was a different era. No CNN 24-hour news, no other networks doing the same, no political pundits spreading their hype on television and the Internet, no social media.

Times have changed, though, especially now that The Donald oversees a scandal-a-day presidency. There’s plenty news to go around not only for the late night talk show hosts, but also for everyone else in America and in many parts of the world. It’s crazy. And guess what? I bet the wacky, constant news feeds are keeping more eyeballs and minds pegged to TV, phone and computer screens and other news bearing gizmos, and away from the old mundane concerns of those hooked on the frenzy.

Ever since he launched his run for the presidency, Trump’s brazen and erratic comments have not just been tabloid fodder, but also forage to fill many once empty news hours. Stories of his personal behavior and dirty doings have added to the fold. It’s crazy, really crazy. But it’s also music to the ears of corporate honchos at media et al. Trump is making them richer. That’s my take on the matter.

It’s sad too, not just crazy. As media outlets fill their coffers with the additional revenue provided by more television viewers, radio listeners, and online page views, the nation is also becoming more divided by the constant chatter. If you were to ask me, I’d say “the media done it.” Besides helping elect Trump with coverage mostly focused on him during the campaign, the folks at most media outlets continue to add to the frenzy, breeding discord with their never ending and often slanted drivel. But that’s how it is in the crazy news world, in which the old adage of “If it bleeds, it leads” still applies. And let me tell you, there’s plenty bleeding going around now with Trump at the helm. Figuratively and real.

Of course, Trump won’t be around forever. With the Mueller investigation doing its due diligence and stretching with prudence the long arm of the law, chances are The Donald won’t get to finish out his term of office, especially once democrats take over Congress in the fall. He will be shown the door. That’s my belief. Once he’s out, the media frenzy will also come to an end, along with diminished bottom lines. For a while, anyway.

My hope is that we return to the good old times of some slow news days, when late night show hosts scrounged around for comedic political material. But it won’t be so. The corporate media sharks are out now. They’ve tasted blood and I’m sure cherish what a news frenzy can do to their financial statements. They will find other like-Trump figures to feed their news needs and continue to inflame the minds of the people.

That’s for sure.

 

AUTHOR: Pedro Chávez

Categories
Commentary Opinion

John McCain Returns to Washington

IMAGE: James Stewart playing Senator Jeff Smith in the film “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

 

War hero John McCain is no country bumpkin or a naïve senator, like the fictional character in the film “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” But there are some similarities; they both portray servants of the people. Senator McCain also plays a real life story, his own, that of a man whose integrity and true grit has given some of us hope, that not everything is broken in Washington. Recently, he joined two fellow republican senators, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, both of equal integrity and grit, to defeat the passing of a senseless bill called a “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

There’s no doubt that the gallant stand of the two women senators will be forever inscribed in the annals of congressional debate. They both bravely stood their ground and said “no” when a “no” was required. They acted with courage and sanity, with the people they serve in mind, regardless of threats and the spiteful words hurled at them by a turbid, clueless and vengeful president. Trump said afterwards that the three, McCain, Collins and Murkowski, along with the democrats in the Senate, had “let the American people down.”

The defeat of the last-ditch maneuver to at least pare the current health care act was a huge blow to some, but perhaps not so much to a number of timid souls on the republican side of the Senate aisle. They probably welcomed the acts of the three that broke rank with the party. My take is that many unprincipled GOP senators dodged the proverbial bullet. They didn’t have to own a do-nothing and ominous bill that if it ever became law, would come back to haunt them and perhaps derail their political careers.

McCain’s “no” was the surprise. He was expected by his Senate cohorts to follow suit, to go with his party’s majority and approve the skinny repeal. They should have known better. He had announced his position days before when he returned to the Senate floor to try to inject some sense into the health care reform discourse.

“I hope we can again rely on humility, on our need to cooperate, on our dependence on each other to learn how to trust each other again and by so doing better serve the people who elected us,” Senator McCain said. He talked about working together, about reaching across the aisle and about coming up with viable solutions for the problems of the country.

“What have we to lose by trying to work together to find those solutions? We’re not getting much done apart,” he added. For sure, not many dry eyes remained in that hall of Congress after McCain spoke. Not many across America either, or at homes and at places of business. It was a great speech; it was uniting oratory that made sense. Then again, John McCain has often made sense.

Unlike Senator Jeff Smith, the fictional character played by James Stewart in the movie previously mentioned and in which Mr. Smith launches a filibuster to attempt to derail an appropriations bill, Senator McCain returned to Washington not to talk forever or to try to thwart a political cause. He went there to tell us all that America and everything that is good about America must survive. He reminded us that we need to mend our ways and to work together again, not against each other.

He didn’t say the following, but I believe he meant it: If we don’t do it, our nation as we’ve known it, won’t be around for long.

John Sidney McCain III knows about surviving and about America. That’s a given. We know of his POW past and about being beaten, both physically and mentally, by the Viet Cong. We also know of his political survival. It hasn’t been easy for him, mainly because of his tendency to break with his party and do what is good for the people and for America. That’s why he voted against the skinny repeal bill.

And that is why he returned to Washington last week, less than two weeks after undergoing a serious surgical procedure. Senator McCain returned to deliver for all of the people. And for our country.

 

AUTHOR: Pedro Chávez

 

Categories
Commentary Opinion

Justice Will Be Done; America Will Survive

NEW YORK CITY: Republican candidate for president Donald Trump. iStock photo.

 

Ours is not just a nation of republicans and democrats, of red and blue states, or of conservatives and liberals. Ours is a bastion of freedom for all of the people. Also of self-government and justice for all — a country in which those that call this place home can say it’s theirs. Ours, too, is a democratic experiment founded on the principle that government is instituted by us, we the people, to help us secure our unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Our nation, however, is being thrust into an unknown abyss by the trials and tribulations brought forth by a man that has broken most rules of civility and continues to speak to a political base brimming with the ignorant and the misinformed. To win the election, he tricked middle of the road, disheartened voters into believing in him, asserting that he would drain the swamp in the nation’s capital. He followed his circus barker act with raw words that negatively touched and inflamed the inner fears of a lot of Americans.

But his cataclysmic show was not performed alone; the gone-berserk, “if it bleeds, it leads” media helped him. They gave him TV coverage, newsprint inches, and bytes and bits. They unabashedly devoted resources and time covering the uncultured, vulgar, and hatred-filled rhetoric spewed by candidate Donald Trump. The media, in its quest to grab eyes and ears for their outlets, made it easier for him to enlarge his base, tapping into the undecided and those tired of politics-as-usual.

Now that he’s won, most media joints have reversed course, tracking and smelling the drops of blood from an administration saddled with one scandal after another and led by a man incapable of acting the part. We, Americans, did it, though; we put him there. So we must now live with him, unless he breaks the law and Congress has the guts to impeach him.

Judging by the colossal stature previously projected by some of America’s most prominent presidents, the current leader of our nation is off the chart. On the minus side. During his recent trips abroad he has drawn a mini shadow, a meaningless dot on the world stage, a caricature of the way it was. He has confirmed to our now ambivalent allies that America is being led by a buffoon, a visionless, unprepared, childish, and spoiled brat. Of course, he’s more than that: he’s also a modern tale of trickery and deceit, a “Trump in Boots,” a snake oil salesman who’s gone too far with his lies, his cure-all potions, and his pettiness.

But some folks are still sticking by him, mainly his uneducated base and some Grand Old Party timid souls supposedly representing all of the people in Congress. Most of those political animals, by the way, have also grown a diminished shadow on their own stages as they try to cover up for their party leader or pretend that nothing is wrong at our nation’s floundering executive hall. The GOP has lost its soul.

We, the people, though, will right the ship. We will do it together without regard to political leanings or openness of minds. And just as in the past, America will survive and go forth, pained, but stronger.

Soon after we correct our calamitous detour from what is right, we will regain our stature and our leadership status in the world, a place that many nations in the planet have for a long time expected from us. We will survive; it is our promise. As a nation and as people bound by the principles that we inherited from our founding fathers.

 

AUTHOR: Pedro Chávez