© Copyright 2007 - 2018   Peter J. Ponzio
Peter J. Ponzio

Political Blog Page 1

next next previous previous

Sunday, February 18, 2018

It’s Still Not Time

On February 14, 2018 17 students and faculty were killed and 14 more injured.  It was the latest in a

long line of mass shootings in the United States.  Predictably, many Republicans, including Ted Cruz,

Marco Rubio, and Paul Ryan said that it is not time to discuss gun control laws.  President Donald

Trump focused on the mental health of the former Parkland student as the cause of the shooting

rampage.  Trump never mentioned guns as a factor in the shooting, and failed to mention that he

removed a regulation that banned people suffering from mental health problems from purchasing guns.

In the House and Senate, moments of silence were observed and a number of Republican congressmen

offered “thoughts and prayers” for the victims of the latest mass shooting—but did not offer to

consider legislation to limit assault weapons, bump-stocks, or reductions in the number of rounds in a

gun. 

Listed below are a number of mass shootings in the United States.

Oct. 1, 2017: Gunman opens fire on a country music concert in Las Vegas, Nevada, killing at least 58

people and wounding more than 500 others.

Congressmen indicate “it’s not time to have a discussion on gun control.”

June 2016: Gunman kills 49 people at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

Congressmen indicate “it’s not time to have a discussion on gun control.”

December 2015: Couple kills 14 people after storming California social services agency. They are killed

in gun battle with police.

Congressmen indicate “it’s not time to have a discussion on gun control.”

November 2015: Gunman kills three after storming a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic; he is

arrested after standoff with police.

Congressmen indicate “it’s not time to have a discussion on gun control.”

October 2015: Gunman kills nine at an Oregon community college before killing himself after a gun

battle with police.

Congressmen indicate “it’s not time to have a discussion on gun control.”

July 2015: Gunman kills five at U.S. Navy Reserve center in Tennessee before being shot and killed by

police.

Congressmen indicate “it’s not time to have a discussion on gun control.”

June 2015: Gunman kills nine people in South Carolina church before fleeing, is captured the following

day.

Congressmen indicate “it’s not time to have a discussion on gun control.”

May 2015: Nine killed in shootout between rival motorcycle clubs and police at Texas restaurant.

Congressmen indicate “it’s not time to have a discussion on gun control.”

October 2014: Teenage gunman kills four teens, two of whom are his cousins, in Washington state high

school before committing suicide.

Congressmen indicate “it’s not time to have a discussion on gun control.”

September 2013: Gunman kills 12 people at a naval facility in Washington before dying in a gun battle

with police.

Congressmen indicate “it’s not time to have a discussion on gun control.”

December 2012: Gunman kills 26 adults and children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut

before killing himself.

Congressmen indicate “it’s not time to have a discussion on gun control.”

August 2012: Gunman kills six people at Sikh Temple in Wisconsin before committing suicide after

being shot by police.

Congressmen indicate “it’s not time to have a discussion on gun control.”

July 2012: Gunman kills 12 people during showing of a “Batman” movie in Colorado.

Congressmen indicate “it’s not time to have a discussion on gun control.”

January 2011: Gunman kills six people and wounds U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona.

Congressmen indicate “it’s not time to have a discussion on gun control.”

November 2009: U.S. Army psychiatrist kills 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas.

Congressmen indicate “it’s not time to have a discussion on gun control.”

April 2007: Virginia Tech student kills 32 people before committing suicide.

Congressmen indicate “it’s not time to have a discussion on gun control.”

October 2006: Gunman kills five girls in Pennsylvania Amish school before committing suicide.

Congressmen indicate “it’s not time to have a discussion on gun control.”

January 2006: Ex-postal worker kills eight before committing suicide in California in rare case of

female shooter.

Congressmen indicate “it’s not time to have a discussion on gun control.”

April 1999: Two Columbine High School students kill 12 students, one teacher and themselves in

Colorado.

Congressmen indicate “it’s not time to have a discussion on gun control.”

November 1991: Gunman kills four University of Iowa faculty members and a student before

committing suicide.

Congressmen indicate “it’s not time to have a discussion on gun control.”

October 1991: Gunman crashes pickup into a Texas cafe, then begins shooting; kills 23 people before

committing suicide.

Congressmen indicate “it’s not time to have a discussion on gun control.”

August 1986: Gunman kills 14 postal workers in Oklahoma before committing suicide.

Congressmen indicate “it’s not time to have a discussion on gun control.”

July 1984: Gunman kills 21 people at a McDonald’s in California before being killed by police.

Congressmen indicate “it’s not time to have a discussion on gun control.”

David Hogg, one of the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida, had

this to say to the brave Congressmen who refuse to consider changes to gun control laws: “We’re

children.  You guys are the adults. You need to take some action and play a role. Work together. Come

over your politics and get something done.”

It’s not time.  It’s never time.  How many more people have to be gunned down before it will be time?

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

“When I sit, you sit. When I kneel, you kneel. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera!  (from the movie, The

King and I)

President Trump has an affinity for autocratic rulers, at various times praising Vladimir Putin, Roderigo Duterte and Xi Jinping.  In

his private life, Trump has operated in a business that he runs without consulting anyone else.  He answers to no one and is used to

getting his way.  His most famous quotation, prior to being elected president is “You’re fired!”

His seeming admiration of these autocratic rulers has been dismissed by Republicans as being irrelevant, the talk of a self-promoter. 

Yesterday, in his first State of the Union Address, Trump uttered the following: 

All Americans deserve accountability and respect -- and that's what we are giving them. So tonight I call on Congress to empower

every cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers -- and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust

or fail the American People.

At first glance, this comment may seem harmless or an example of a man trying to emphasize the accomplishments of his first year in

office.  It is only when the last phrase is closely examined, “and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail

the American people,” that the true import of Trumps’ message become clear.  He wishes to be able to remove people from their jobs

without cause and without defining what constitutes the undermining of public trust or failing the American people.

Who defines public trust?  Who defines when a person fails the American people?  How can a cabinet member, an appointed official,

be given the authority to determine if a person is disloyal or has failed the American people?  Trump has demanded loyalty from

people in various positions in government; yet he is seemingly unaware that government employees make an oath of loyalty to the

Constitution of the United States, and not to him.

Rome, in 82 B.C. under the dictator Sulla, initiated a similar program against people who violated the public trust or failed the Roman

people.  This program was known as the proscription, and enabled Sulla and his supporters to seize the property of people who were

deemed to violate the public trust.  Soon, the penalty for violating the public trust became more severe, leading the accused to lose

their lives as well as their property. 

The proscription was deemed so effective that it was invoked again in 42 B.C. by Marc Antony, Octavius Caesar and Lepidus.  Among

the casualties of this second proscription was Marcus Tullius Cicero, who formerly held the office of consul, which was the highest

elected office of the Roman Republic.

Both proscriptions were seen by Roman citizens for what they were:  a way to seize wealth and riches from innocent people, as well as

a way for politicians to enact revenge on their enemies in the name of the law.  As Saint Augustine was to write later: “An unjust law is

no law at all.”

Donald Trump, in his attempt to suborn the laws of the United States, is leading the country down the path of dictatorship.  If he

convinces Congress to pass a loyalty test, and allows cabinet members to determine who is disloyal or who has betrayed the trust of

the American people, he will join the ranks of Putin, Duterte, Jinping, Kim Jon-un, Stalin, Sulla, Marc Antony, Octavian Caesar,

Lepidus and countless other petty dictators who have attempted to silence their critics through the enactment of immoral “laws.”

As the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his famous Letter From Birmingham Jail: “A just law is a man-made code that squares

with the moral law or the law of God.  An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.”

Mr. Trump, your proposed law is dangerous and unjust.  It is yet another indication that you have no understanding of the

Constitution of the United States and no respect for the rule of law.  You would do well to remember the words of Thomas Jefferson: 

“A prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a people who mean to be

free.”

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Evangelical Christian Defense of Donald Trump

According to a story appearing in the November 9, 2016 Washington Post, white evangelical Christians surveyed in exit polls voted by a margin of 80-16 percent in favor of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. On January 23, 2018, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council echoed the sentiments of many evangelical christians when he stated “We give of gave him— ‘All right, you get a mulligan.  You get a do-over here.’”  He went on to say that “evangelicals did not vote for Donald Trump based on his moral qualifications but based upon what he said he was going to do and who he was surrounding himself with.” A day later, on January 24, 2018, Reverend Franklin Graham insisted that Donald Trump was a “changed man,” and that any marital infidelities Trump had were in the past, and did not occur while Trump was in office: “This happened 11, 12,13, 14 years ago.  And so, I think there is a big difference and not that we give anybody a pass, but we have to look at the timeline and that was before he was in office.” He then went on to say “I think God put him there [in office].” Evangelicals argue that while Donald Trump is a flawed man, he should be forgiven for his sins.  Some even suggest that God has forgiven him.  Trump has gone on record saying that he does not regret asking God for forgiveness, because he doesn’t have much to apologize for (Tani. Business Insider, 2016).  A necessary precondition to being forgiven is repentance, and it appears from his statements that Donald Trump does not believe he needs to repent. In addition to asserting that Donald Trump should be forgiven, and granted a “mulligan,” evangelicals often turn to the bible to defend Donald Trump.  An examination of the bible, specifically Exodus: 20:1-17, reveals a number of Commandments that Donald trump has broken.  In a campaign speech in 2016, Donald Trump proclaimed “I am your voice.  I alone can fix it.  I will restore law and order” (Applebaum.  The Atlantic, 2016).  In a strict biblical interpretation of Trump’s boast, an interpretation that accords with evangelical interpretations, he violated the First Commandment: “I am the Lord they God, thou shalt not have strange gods before me.”  Another of the commandments reads: “Thou shalt not steal.”  Closely allied to this commandment is another which reads: “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.” Donald Trump has filed for bankruptcy six times, effectively stealing from people to whom he owed money.  Similarly, when building Trump Tower, he refused to pay Polish workers who labored for less than minimum wage, another case of stealing another’s goods (wages). Then there is the commandment against adultery, which reads “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.”  Donald Trump has been divorced twice and married three times; he has personally bragged about the many adulterous affairs he has had.  The latest allegation about Trump’s extra marital affairs is that his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, paid adult film star Stormy Daniels $130,000, to keep the details of a year-long affair silent. Finally, there is the commandment about lying: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”  According to the Washington Post, Donald Trump has made 2,140 false or misleading claims in his first year in office.  Many people dismiss Trump’s lies as politics as usual, claiming that all politicians lie.  Yet Trump’s lies occur with such regularity that they are beyond anything that can be claimed as normal political behavior.  In an interview given to The New Yorker, Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter of Trump’s book The Art of the Deal, Swartz claims: “Lying is second nature to him . . . More than anyone else I have ever met, Trump has the ability to convince himself that whatever he is saying at any given moment is true, or sort of true, or at least ought to be true.” People tell lies; most are of the white lie variety: attempts to avoid conflict or embarrass another person.  Then there are lies that are told to damage a person’s credibility, make oneself look good, damage an opponent or group of people (think journalists), or denigrate someone, and Trump has engaged in every one of these types of lies.  The insidious nature of a lie is the damage it can do to the person who is lied about, as well as to the person(s) who hear the lie.  In the case of Donald Trump, there is a disproportionate amount of power involved in his lying, which is twofold.  In the first instance, the person who is lied about is at a distinct disadvantage; after all, Donald Trump is the President of the United States and arguably, the most powerful man in the world.  It is difficult to muster any real type of power against him.  Even more compelling is the second instance, the repeated lying to millions of people in his tweets, in print, and on television.  His lies undermine the faith in democratic institutions, the free press, the judiciary, the intelligence community, women, persons of color, and the list goes on.  The gravity of the lie is multiplied by the sheer number of people who are lied about, as well as by the size of the people who are told the lie.  In the case of Donald Trump, the effect of his lying, and the enormity of the sin involved is enormous.  Why then, do evangelicals support Donald Trump?  Why do they support a man who has broken at least five of the ten commandments, and is unrepentant?  Why do they support a man who nurses grudges and “counterpunches” at every turn, who shows his disdain for people of color and women, and who does not follow the admonition of Jesus: “You have heard that it hath been said:  Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thy enemy./But I say to you:  Love your enemies:  do good to them that hate you:  and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you” (Matthew:  5: 43-44).  Why do they continue to give Donald Trump a mulligan, when they should admonish him and withdraw their support in the face of his unrelenting attack on true Christian belief?  Why do they assert that they know that God has forgiven Donald Trump?  It seems that evangelicals are walking down a slippery slope when they insist that they can speak for God.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

What Drives Trump?

There have been many theories about the behaviors and motivations that drive Donald Trump. Among the most popular are:  greed, an inflated ego, narcissism, an inability to separate fact from fiction whether conscious or not, a need for acceptance, a need to constantly in the spotlight, an inability to concentrate for long periods of time, the need to be perceived as strong, as well as the need to appear to be right at all times, and an inability to adequately grasp abstract concepts.  Each of these theories has some merit.  This article would like to pose two more theories which can be added to the list. The first theory is that Donald Trump is a deeply fearful man.  His comments about race, which include rants against Mexicans, Haitians, Africans, Muslims, intellectuals, blacks, elitists, and anyone who has the temerity to disagree with him, point to a person who is xenophobic.  The word xenophobia is defined as someone who is fearful of strangers:  each of the groups Donald Trump attacks is “other,” that is, they are different from Donald Trump, who is white.  Because Trump fears people who are “other,” he attacks them and tries to demonize them.  The pattern of demonization and rejection goes back to the 1970’s when Trump and his father were charged with racial discrimination by the Justice Department.  It has continued, unabated to the present day, most recently during a meeting to discuss the DACA program, where he called African countries “shitholes.” Trump’s fears are not limited to race:  he is afraid that immigrants, regardless of their race, pose a threat to America because they are violent and commit a disproportionate amount of crimes.  He has not provided evidence of these crimes, but instead has appealed to a segment of the population that wants to believe Trump’s assertions, whether they can be proven or not.  His germaphobia is another example of an irrational fear.  While it is prudent to take precautions that minimize the chance of infection, Trump’s alleged fear of being poisoned is extreme by any measure. Trump’s disdain for “elitist” intellectuals is another form of fear:  the fear that he won’t be taken seriously by people who know more than him.  His constant bragging about his supposed “genius,” his need to mention his Ivy League schooling, his constant tweets about his intellectual capability, all point to a man who is intellectually insecure.  His assertion that he knows more about taxes than the “best CPA,” his comment that he knows more about warfare than the best generals, his belief that he is the premier negotiator in the world, his claim that his inauguration was the “biggest ever,” along with his boast that he won the popular election if it weren’t for the 3.5 million illegal votes, are further proof that he is afraid of being found out for the fraud that he is. The second theory, which is closely allied to the first, is that Trump suffers from a lack of self-esteem.  The constant need for reassurance, the demand for the spotlight, the need to tweet for every slight whether perceived or real, all point to a man who is lacking in a healthy self-image.  Combine the fears that plague Trump, with low self-esteem, and you are left with a man who lashes out at people he believes are enemies.  For Trump, loyalty is paramount:  he must be defended at all times; he must be shown to vanquish his enemies; he must be perceived as winning every battle; most importantly, he must never be contradicted or shown to be wrong. Unfortunately, every time Trump is confronted with a reality he does not like, he instinctively attacks.  As his Press Secretaries have both proclaimed, when Trump is attacked, he punches back and punches harder.  Yet, who decides what is an attack?  Constructive criticism is viewed by Trump as an attack against him, no matter who has made the criticism or what the topic relating to the criticism might be.  His attacks on people who have no way to defend themselves against him (consider the attack on Myeshia Johnson, widow to a soldier slain in Niger, as an example of his inability to act compassionately and humanely and someone he attacked for repeating Trump’s insensitive remarks to her) are examples of a man who has a low self-image. Taken as a whole, Trump’s greed, inflated ego, narcissism, an inability to separate fact from fiction whether conscious or not, a need for acceptance, a need to constantly in the spotlight, an inability to concentrate for long periods of time, the need to be perceived as strong, as well as the need to appear to be right at all times, the inability to adequately grasp abstract concepts, the irrational fears that he harbors and his low self-esteem paint a picture of a very flawed man.