Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Name:
Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

H.R. McMaster


At a meeting of the National Security Council, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster explained: “Jihadist terrorists aren't true to their professed religion and that the use of the phrase ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ doesn't help the US in working with allies to defeat terrorist groups.” 

The phrase is considered to be unhelpful because terrorist organizations like ISIS represent a perversion of Islam, and are therefore are un-Islamic.  McMaster comments were first reported by “The New York Times.”

A Trump administration official acknowledged there is a "genuine difference of opinion" between President Trump and his National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster on the use of "radical Islamic terrorism."

An anonymous source added that McMaster also signaled that Russia was an adversary, not a friend.  In contrast to White House strategist Steve Bannon, who has called the European Union a flawed institution and expressed a desire to forge stronger ties with individual European countries.  Nevertheless, McMaster defended the post-World War II world order, saying it was important for maintaining peace and security.  Furthermore, source insisted, that the meeting was "very good for morale" among the career NSC staff.

Retired Lieutenant General Mike was forced to resign as the head of the National Security Council after it became public that he did not tell Vice President Mike Pence that conversations he had with the Russian ambassador included a discussion about US sanctions. 

During Trump’s remarks to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, he firmly asserted:"So let me state this as clearly as I can, we are going to keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of our country.  We will not be deterred from this course, and in a matter of days we will be taking brand new action to protect our people and keep America safe.  You will see the action.”

In his State of the Union speech Trump used the term radicalized Islamic terrorists.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Pluralism


In 1984, Ronald Reagan pointed out: “We in the United States, above all, must remember that lesson, for we were founded as a nation of openness to people of all beliefs.  And so we must remain.  Our very unity has been strengthened by our pluralism.  We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever.  Church and state are, and must remain, separate.  All are free to believe or not believe, all are free to practice a faith or not, and those who believe are free, and should be free, to speak of and act on their belief.

“At the same time that our Constitution prohibits state establishment of religion, it protects the free exercise of all religions.  And walking this fine line requires government to be strictly neutral.  And government should not make it more difficult for Christians, Jews, Muslims, or other believing people to practice their faith.” 

Delegates to the Constitutional Convention left the deity out of the picture, by refusing to follow Ben Franklin's suggestion that their daily sessions be opened with a prayer for divine guidance.

In 1950’s, Congress added the words, “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance.  And although, E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many One) was considered our motto, Congress adopted “In God we trust” as the official motto.

The 1960 Supreme Court decision in Engel vs Vitale ruled it unconstitutional for public schools to allow prayer, even though the prayer was non-denominational and students were allowed to abstain from the exercise.  President Kennedy announced, that he understood many people were angered by the ruling, but that there was “a very easy remedy - not a constitutional amendment but a renewed commitment to pray at home, in the churches and with their families.”

Monday, February 27, 2017

Murder Rate


President Trump claimed: “The murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years, right?”
In the 1980’s the murder rate was 10.2 per 100,000 people.  It went down to 4.4 percent in 2014.  Today, it’s actually close to an all-time low.  
Trump is a  purveyor of fake news, who is trying to promote a false narrative that preys on the fear of American citizens.  
After San Bernardino terrorist attack, President Obama ordered the Departments of State and Homeland Security to review the visa waiver program under which the female terrorist in San Bernardino came to our country.  After that review, Congress received a classified briefing.  One of the unclassified facts of that briefing was that of the last 75,000 refugees who came to the United States, only about 12 were later determined to be a security threat.  A lower crime rate than that doesn’t exist anywhere else in our country.
Obama’s administration cooperated with Muslim countries, and our Muslim communities at home to counter the ideology that ISIL promoted online.
Trump isn’t only trying to create a false narrative, he’s also attempting to delegitimizing the press.  Trump’s doing something we’ve never seen in our history.  He’s demanding loyalty by delegitimizing the press and attacking our judicial system with comments such as: “so-called judge,”and “I alone can fix this.”  He’s attacking the news media and our judiciary in order to create a loyalty to himself.  Demanding personal loyalty is a political leadership style, that fortunately we’ve seldom seen in America.
Actually, the odds of being killed in a motor vehicle accident is 1 in 113.  Being killed by a lightning strike is 1 in 174,000.  The odds of being killed in a terrorist attack perpetrated by a refugee, is 1 in 46 million. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Hatred or Revenge


Robert Kennedy campaigned in New York for the Senate in 1964.  I had the privilege of shaking his hand as his motorcade passed by on Union St. in Schenectady.

In a 1968 speech RFK explained: “When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies - to be met not with cooperation but with conquest, to be subjugated and mastered...

“We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of all.  We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others.  We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.”

Robert Kennedy’s older brother President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, on November 22, 1963.  Martin Luther King was fatally shot in Memphis, on April 4, 1968.  Two months latter on June 5, 1968, while campaigning for president, Senator Robert F. Kennedy was murdered in Los Angeles.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump preached hatred, and religious bigotry to eager listeners in mostly white communities across our country.  Some are cruel chauvinist, who also want to restrict women’s rights, and the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender citizens.  Racial hatred goes much deeper than many white Americans want to admit. 

Warning!  Hate is like a powerful acid, because it can do more harm to the container in which it’s kept, than those upon which it’s spewed.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Reasonable Question


In the wake of the Newtown school massacre, President Obama proposed background checks on all gun sales and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines as part of a package of steps to reduce gun violence.

With relatives of some of the 20 children killed at the Newtown massacre looking on Obama signed 23 executive actions that didn't require congressional approval, and insists that we strengthen background checks and expand safety programs in schools.

He asked Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004, to restrict ammunition magazines to no more than 10 rounds, and to require a background check on anyone buying a gun, whether at a store or in a private sale at an auction or convention.

Referring to the children killed in the Newtown shootings and other victims of gun violence, Obama wanted our nation to do a better job of protecting its children, especially when they are in public places such as schools, shopping malls and movie theaters. 

Data analysis of crime gun databases showed that 70 percent of guns recovered at crime scenes in Virginia were purchased within one year of the crime, suggesting that in some cases the gun purchased was made with the intent to commit a crime or murder.

High-profile assassinations such as those of John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King involved the use of rifles, usually with telescopic sights, from concealed locations.

Recently, congressional Republicans pass legislation that makes it easier for the severely mentally disabled to buy guns.

The Oneonta Daily Star’s conservative columnist Chuck Pinkey boasted: “The Right has over 300 million guns and a trillion rounds of ammunition.”  What does the Right intend to do with all that ammunition?  Could an armed rebellion be the reason they’ve opposed background checks all along? 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Aggressive Politics


Democratic Senators have provided Trump’s key Cabinet nominees the lowest level of support from an opposition party in history.  Congressional Democrats have participated in, organized, and led more than 70 peaceful protests against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.  They’ve also joined activists at airports to help travelers affected by Trump’s executive orders on immigration and refugees. 

Democratic members of Congress, such as Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who was the only Democratic senator that voted to confirm Jeff Sessions for attorney general is being treated with distain. 

In the race for chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Thomas Perez, the former secretary of labor told the audience at The Huffington Post’s live Democratic National Committee debate: “We can hit him (Trump) between the eyes with a 2-by-4 and treat him like Mitch McConnell treated Barack Obama.”

There are a lots of new faces entering the Democratic primaries in the 2018 midterms, for the House and the Senate.  Those of you that are interested in running for Congress, should contact Rep. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, who is the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, who is the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. 

A lot of money is available for new Democratic candidates, who are interest in running for state and local offices.  Daily Kos, the blog community that fueled Democratic campaigns in the Bush years, has already committed $400,000 in donations for Jon Ossoff, a 29 year old candidate for the suburban Atlanta House seat being vacated by Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, who is the new Secretary of Health and Human Services.

The Democratic Party is turning itself into a very aggressive political machine.  It’s time to become personally involved in politics.  

Thursday, February 23, 2017

CNN Reported


For the first time, CNN has reported that multiple current and former American law enforcement and intelligence investigators have said they have been able to corroborate some of the communications detailed in a 35 page dossier compiled by a former British intelligence agent. 

CNN was the first to report, then-President-elect Donald Trump and President Obama were briefed on the existence of the dossier prior to Trump's inauguration.  None of the newly learned information relates to the salacious allegations in the dossier.  The dossier details about a dozen conversations between senior Russian officials and other Russian individuals.  Sources would not confirm which specific conversations were intercepted or the content of those discussions due to the classified nature of our country’s intelligence collection programs.

But the intercepts do confirm that some of the conversations described in the dossier took place between the same individuals on the same days and from the same locations as detailed in the dossier, according to the officials.  CNN has not confirmed whether any content relates to presidential candidate Trump.

The corroboration, based on intercepted communications, has given US intelligence and law enforcement greater confidence in the credibility of some aspects of the dossier as they continue to actively investigate its contents.

Some of the individuals involved in the intercepted communications were known to the US intelligence community as heavily involved in collecting information damaging to Hillary Clinton and helpful to Donald Trump.

The dossier was commissioned by political opponents of then-candidate Trump and compiled by a former British intelligence agent.  Our intelligence agencies checked out the former MI6 operative and his vast network throughout Europe and found him and his sources to be credible.

In January, Donald Trump dismissed the entire dossier by saying: "It's all fake news.  It's phony stuff.  It didn't happen."