Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Trump Assails Media While Detailing Gifts to Veterans

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Trump Assails Media While Detailing Gifts to Veterans

  • Donald J. Trump lashed out at those reporting on his candidacy with a level of venom rarely seen from the standard-bearer of a major political party.
  • He was responding to questions about a fund-raiser he held, while skipping a G.O.P. debate, to benefit military veterans.

Who Donald Trump taught me to fear truly to be afraid

Be afraid
(Brennan Linsley/AP)

What word comes to mind when you see the name Donald Trump? For some people, it might be “anger,” since he provokes it and stokes it. For others, it might be “ignorance,” since he knows so little and, like many unburdened by knowledge, is untroubled by facts. Some might say “fear,” since it would take some scary police tactics to push 11 million people over the border to Mexico. For me, none of those words suffice. I’d choose “betrayal.”
It is the word that comes to mind almost on a nightly basis when I see some Trump surrogate defend his position on one of the cable news shows. How can you? I want to ask. Do you believe that the government should apply a religious test to let people into this country? Christians? Yes. Jews? Sure. Buddhists and Hindus, step this way. Muslims? Not so fast.
Do the people who support Trump realize that they are betraying not merely Muslims but the principles that America stands for? We don’t apply religious tests to anything. In that way, we are different than some other countries. In that way, we are better.
It is the same with what Trump said about Mexicans being “rapists.” It was an ugly, bigoted thing to say — and, of course, wrong as hell. So when some Trump supporter breezes right by that statement on the way to whoopee support of restricted trade or allowing Japan and South Korea to get nuclear weapons, I feel betrayed. I can abide policy differences but I cannot abide indifference to bigotry. And neither should any of Trump’s supporters.
Richard Dreyfuss calls Donald Trump’s famous supporters ‘whores'
I felt that same, awful feeling of betrayal when Trump mocked a physically disabled reporter for the New York Times. Did Trump’s people notice? Did they care? How about the way he insulted John McCain? The man was tortured and Trump belittled it. The man was in solitary for two years, and Trump belittled it. I thought Americans would never stand for that. This was John McCain, son of an admiral, grandson of an admiral, United States senator. How much redder can a man’s blood be?
Donald Trump has taught me to fear my fellow American. I don’t mean the occasional yahoo who turns a Trump rally into a hate fest. I mean the ones who do nothing. Who are silent. Who look the other way. If you had told me a year ago that a hateful brat would be the presidential nominee of a major political party, I would have scoffed. Someone who denigrates women? Not possible. Someone who insults Mexicans? No way. Someone who mocks the physically disabled? Not in America. Not in my America.
When I see these Trump supporters on television, I have to wonder where they would draw the line. Nowhere. They want to win. They want to beat Hillary Clinton, a calling so imperative that sheer morality must give way. Muslims and Mexicans are merely collateral damage in a war that must be fought. What about blacks or Jews? Not yet.

Maybe the talking heads on TV would draw the line at some mild version of fascism, but would the American people do the same? Here, I must hesitate. The easy yes of yesteryear has given way to awful doubt.
Trump could win. He could become President, commander in chief, ruler of the Justice Department and head of the IRS. In other words, the American people could elect someone who has not the slightest appreciation for the Constitution or American tradition. When Trump insisted that he could compel a military officer to obey an illegal order, I heard the echo of jackboots on cobblestone.
It does no good to argue that Trump is just doing a shtick and means little of what he says . His supporters do not see him that way. They take him at his word.
I’d like to think that Americans really are exceptional, that we have an exceptional faith in democracy and the rule of law. I now have some doubt. I always knew who Trump was. It’s the American people who have come as a surprise.
Trump details amounts of donations given to veterans groups

Sunday, May 15, 2016

on 2016

Crossing the Line: Trump’s Private Conduct With Women

  • Interviews with dozens of women who encountered Donald J. Trump revealed unsettling conduct over decades.
  • They offer a complex and at times contradictory portrait of a man who both nurtured women’s careers and mocked their physical appearance.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The man who wanted us to be uncomfortable

Monday, May 9

The man who wanted us to be uncomfortable

On a rainy Friday morning in the city he called home for many years, the Rev. Daniel Berrigan was celebrated more than mourned at a funeral mass in Manhattan.
The funeral for Father Daniel Berrigan, the Jesuit poet and peace activist, was held at the Church of St. Francis Xavier in Manhattan last week, where he was praised as a hero, a holy man, even a saint, by speakers and mourners.
Berrigan was the rogue priest who, along with his brother Philip, became a symbol of the anti-Vietnam War and Catholic peace movement. He later protested nuclear weapons, the Iraq War and the detention of “enemy combatants” at Guantanamo Bay.
He spent years in federal prison for his actions, which included damaging nuclear warheads and lighting draft cards on fire with homemade napalm.
He clashed with the church — and there was a certain irony in this radical peace activist, who was a member of the militant Jesuit order, being eulogized in a Jesuit church that also plays host to military regimental ceremonies.
But such are the contradictions inherent in eulogizing an activist, controversial in life but praised after his or her work is done.

Making of an activist

Pete Swanson said he had been Berrigan’s student years ago.
As a newly ordained priest teaching at Brooklyn Preparatory School during the 1950s, Berrigan was “electric even then,” Swanson, 77, says. “He had an aura about him. He was on a different plane.”
But the teacher and pupil soon moved in different directions.
Berrigan left the school and moved on to activist work. Swanson ended up getting drafted in 1960, mistakenly, he says. He has been afflicted with Retinitis pigmentosa since birth, he says, a degenerative disorder of the eyes that eventually results in severe vision impairment. But the doctor refused to grant a medical deferment. Even in basic training, he says he was night-blind.
“Father Berrigan was against the war, I got caught up in it by mistake,” Swanson says. While Berrigan was dodging the FBI and protesting, Swanson says he had friends “getting blown up” in Vietnam.

Asking questions that are easy to ignore

Swanson’s feelings are conflicted, even paradoxical. Nuclear disarmament is very important to him, he says. But it was activists like Berrigan who pushed disarmament to a political reality.
“In hindsight, Berrigan did what he had to do.”
Swanson’s reaction to Berrigan is indicative of the way activists are treated in their own time. Some of Berrigan’s tactics might still be controversial, but his vision seems less so today.
In a note to the Xavier community after Berrigan's death, Xavier's high school president Jack Raslowsky wrote of what some have said is the strength of a Jesuit education: being made to feel "uncomfortable."
"Dan Berrigan was uncomfortable, and he made others uncomfortable. He was a consistent, prophetic witness for peace and often asked questions that were easier for most to ignore."
Will we feel the same about those who continue Berrigan's legacy in 50 years? The climate change partisans who chain themselves to each other in oil company lobbies. The Occupiers at Zuccotti Park (who Berrigan visited, in fact, at the end of his life). The Black Lives Matter protesters who were once joined by throngs of supporters, but now often continue their protests and actions alone.
Berrigan’s legacy urges us to minister to the helpless and downtrodden, to those in the jails, the war zones, the sick, the homeless, the poor. And to minister to everyone else by pushing relentlessly for a better world.
If anything, Berrigan would likely suggest that we do not protest enough — that insufficient questions are raised about drones and endless states of low-level, far-away warfare.
The questions might annoy, or disrupt, but someday we’ll say they were good.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Daniel J. Berrigan, pacifist priest who led antiwar protests, dies at 94

The Rev. Daniel J. Berrigan, a writer, teacher and longtime opponent of U.S. military involvement abroad, whose repeated acts of civil disobedience put him at odds with his government and the Roman Catholic Church but made him a major figure among advocates for peace and social justice, died April 30 at a Jesuit residence at Fordham University in the Bronx, N.Y. He was 94.
The cause was a cardiovascular ailment, said the Rev. James Yannarell, a priest affiliated wtih the Fordham Jesuit community.
In May 1968, Father Berrigan, along with his brother and fellow priest Philip Berrigan and seven other pacifists, entered a Selective Service office in Catonsville, Md.
They gathered hundreds of draft files, lugged them outside and, with a recipe of kerosene and soap chips taken from a Green Berets handbook, burned them to ashes. The Catonsville Nine, as they became known, were arrested and in a five-day trial in October 1968 were found guilty of destruction of government property.
Father Berrigan wrote a play about the event, “The Trial of the Catonsville Nine.”
“Our apologies, good friends,” he wrote, “for the fracture of good order, the burning of paper instead of children, the angering of the orderlies in the front of the charnel house. We could not, so help us God, do otherwise.”
The judge sentenced Father Berrigan, then 47, to three years in federal prison. Philip Berrigan, who had been charged in earlier nonviolent protests, received six years.
In 1970, after the appeals ran out, Father Berrigan refused orders to report to federal prison in Danbury, Conn. He went underground, on the lam from safe house to safe house, and spent four months dodging an FBI manhunt. After many false leads, he was finally caught on Block Island off the coast of Rhode Island. Days before he was captured, he spoke at a church in Germantown, Pa., saying, “We have chosen to be branded peace criminals by war criminals.”
Father Berrigan was a willing recidivist who was first arrested in 1967. His rap sheet would eventually be filled with arrests and convictions from protests at weapons laboratories and at the Pentagon.
Daniel Joseph Berrigan was born May 9, 1921, in Virginia, Minn., the fifth of six sons of a pro-union father and a mother who opened her home to the poor.
In 1939, Daniel Berrigan entered the former St. Andrew-on-the-Hudson Jesuit novitiate near Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
During his years of theological training, he wrote poetry and taught at Catholic high schools, preparing for a career of teaching or pastoring. He was ordained in 1952.
In the mid-1950s, he taught at Brooklyn Preparatory High School in New York. From 1957 to 1962, he taught theology at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y.
Over the decades, Father Berrigan’s forays into the academy also included stints at Cornell University, the University of Detroit, Loyola University New Orleans, DePaul University and the University of California at Berkeley. During the Vietnam War years and after, he believed that universities had become tools of the government, military and corporate giants.
With no conventional ministry, Father Berrigan operated for more than 40 years out of a small commune known as the West Side Jesuit Community on West 98th Street in Manhattan. He aligned himself with Dorothy Day and the pacifist Catholic Worker movement and formed a friendship with Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk who was also moving away from conventional priestly piety by condemning U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
In 1968, Father Berrgain traveled with Howard Zinn, the liberal political activist and historian, to North Vietnam in a successful effort to bring back three captured U.S. pilots. Father Berrigan was affiliated with several Catholic antiwar groups and later ministered to AIDS patients.
In 1980, he and his brother Philip were instrumental in forming the Plowshares Movement, a loose coalition of pacifists who were often arrested for acts of civil disobedience at military bases and other sites. Among those jailed was actor Martin Sheen, who once said, “Mother Teresa drove me back to Catholicism, but Daniel Berrigan keeps me there.”
In 1965, Cardinal Francis Spellman, a supporter of the Vietnam War, told Father Berrigan’s Jesuit superiors to get the agitator out of New York City. He was sent to South America, but seeing the conditions in the slums of Peru and made him more militant, not less. He believed the Catholic Church too often sided with the rich, and he criticized U.S. foreign policy supporting the sale of weapons to rightist military regimes.
Father Berrigan took aim at his fellow Jesuits when he wrote his “Ten Commandments for the Long Haul” (1981).
“The Jesuits are masters of invention,” he wrote in his provocative manifesto. “They come out of the culture, they know how to take its pulse, try its winds and trim their sails. Nothing extravagant, nothing ahead of its time, nothing too fast. Consensus! Consensus!”
Father Berrigan wrote more than 40 books, including a 1987 autobiography, “To Dwell in Peace.” His brother Philip died in 2002. Survivors include a sister.
In a 2008 interview in the Nation magazine, Father Berrigan echoed a line of Mother Teresa’s that spiritual people should be more concerned about being faithful than being successful.
“The good is to be done because it is good, not because it goes somewhere,” he said. I believe if it is done in that spirit it will go somewhere, but I don’t know where. . . . I have never been seriously interested in the outcome. I was interested in trying to do it humanely and carefully and nonviolently and let it go.”
Colman McCarthy is a former Washington Post columnist.
Read more Washington Post obituaries

Friday, April 29, 2016

What You Should Know: Everyone Does It, de Blasio is Not the Only One

What You Should Know
By Senator Rev. Rubén Díaz
32nd Senatorial District

You should know that the Mayor of the City of New York is under fire and he is facing 5 different investigations.  It is important for you to know that I never supported Mayor de Blasio when he was a Mayoral Candidate, and instead. I supported Eric Salgado and Bill Thompson. For the record, I don’t like Bill de Blasio’s policies, we have nothing in common, and I have not met with him nor spoken with him in person since he was elected Mayor. But as I see him being subject to what looks like selective prosecution, I must speak out.
It is important for you to know that Risa S. Sugarman, who was appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo to serve as the Chief Enforcement Officer for the Board of Elections, sent a report to the Manhattan District Attorney regarding Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “willful and flagrant” campaign law violations.
Ms. Sugarman’s report prompted a criminal investigation into Mayor de Blasio’s fund-raising.
According to Ms. Sugarman’s report, Mayor Bill de Blasio and his team raised money to send to certain County Committees in 2014 to help Democrats running for the State Senate. In a response to Ms. Sugarman’s report, a criminal investigation against Mayor de Blasio is underway.
You should also know that City and State’s Winners and Losers column for the week ending 4/29/2016 included NY Times columnist Jim Dwyer in the Winners’ column for successfully “putting pressure on state Board of Elections Chief Enforcement Officer Risa Sugarman to explain her selective investigation process.
This hat-tip tip Jim Dwyer includes his April 28, 2016 column “Faulting de Blasio for Walking a Beaten Path in Elections.”
Mr. Dwyer wrote: In 2008, when Michael R. Bloomberg was mayor, he gave $1.2 million to the tiny Independence Party, which used the money to help the campaigns of two Republican senators in Queens, Frank Padavan and Serphin R. Maltese … Mr. Bloomberg also gave $500,000 to the Republicans’ Senate campaign committee, which supported Mr. Padavan and Mr. Maltese in their races.”
As you can see, Mayor de Blasio’s actions are not the first time a Mayor has used his political power and resources to influence New York State Senate races. This is routinely done by Democrats and Republicans alike, and we all know it.
I have to ask myself, how is it that Mayor de Blasio is being investigated and has received subpoenas from the Manatten District Attorney and the US Attorney General, and how is it that he is being lambasted on the front pages and editorial columns of New York’s daily newspapers, when the things he did are no different that what Michael Bloomberg did when he was New York City’s Mayor?
Why was there no outcry for investigations and allegations made when Michael Bloomberg also violated New York’s Campaign Finance laws by donating large amounts of money to the Republican and Independent Parties in order to hold sway over certain State Senate elections?
If everyone does it, how come only Mayor Bill de Blasio is being held accountable?
I am Senator Reverend Rubén Díaz and this is what you should know.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Fidel Castro. (photo: Roberto Chile)
Fidel Castro. (photo: Roberto Chile)

The Spirit of the Left

By Fidel Castro, teleSUR
23 April 16

The leader of the Cuban Revolution gave a rare public speech during the closure of the seventh Congress of the Communist Party.
t constitutes a superhuman effort to lead any people in times of crisis. Without them, the changes would be impossible. In a meeting such as this, which brings together more than a thousand representatives chosen by the revolutionary people themselves, who delegated their authority to them, for all it represents the greatest honor they have received in their lives, to which is added the privilege of being a revolutionary which is the product of our own conscious.

Why did I become a socialist, or more plainly, why did I become a communist? That word that expresses the most distorted and maligned concept in history by those who have the privilege of exploiting the poor, dispossessed ever since they were deprived of all the material wealth that work, talent and human energy provide. Since when does man live in this dilemma, throughout time without limit. I know you do not need this explanation but perhaps some listeners do.

I speak simply so it is better understood that I am not ignorant, extremist, or blind, nor did I acquire my ideology of my own accord studying economics.

I did not have a tutor when I was a law and political sciences student, subjects in which they have a great influence. Of course then I was around 20 years old and was fond of sports and mountain climbing. Without a tutor to help me in the study of Marxism-Leninism; I was no more than a theorist and, of course, had total confidence in the Soviet Union. Lenin's work violated after 70 years of Revolution. What a history lesson! It can be affirmed that it should not take another 70 years before another event like the Russian Revolution occurs, in order that humanity have another example of a magnificent social revolution that marked a huge step in the struggle against colonialism and its inseparable companion, imperialism.

Perhaps, however, the greatest danger hanging over the earth today derives from the destructive power of modern weaponry which could undermine the peace of the planet and make human life on earth’s surface impossible.

The species would disappear like the dinosaurs disappeared, perhaps there will be time for new forms of intelligent life or maybe the sun’s heat will grow until it melts all the planets of the solar system and its satellites, as a large number of scientists recognize. If the theories of several of them are true, which we laypeople are not unaware of, the practical man must learn more and adapt to reality. If the species survives a much longer space of time the future generations will know much more than we do, but first they will have to solve a huge problem. How to feed the billions of human beings whose realities are inevitably at odds with the limited drinking water and natural resources they need?

Some or perhaps many of you are wondering where are the politics in this speech. Believe me I am sad to say it, but the politics are here in these moderate words. If only numerous human beings would concern ourselves with these realities and not continue as in the times of Adam and Eve eating forbidden apples. Who will feed the thirsty people of Africa with no technology at their disposal, no rain, no dams, no more underground reservoirs than those covered by sands? We will see what the governments, which almost all signed the climate commitments, say.

We must constantly hammer away at these issues and I do not want to elaborate beyond the essentials.

I shall soon turn 90, such an idea would never have occurred to me and it was never the result of an effort, it was sheer chance. I will soon be like everyone else. We all reach our turn, but the ideas of the Cuban communists will remain as proof that on this planet, working with fervor and dignity, can produce the material and cultural wealth that humans need, and we must fight relentlessly to obtain these. To our brothers in Latin America and the world we must convey that the Cuban people will overcome.

This may be one of the last times that I speak in this room. I voted for all the candidates submitted for election by Congress and I appreciate the invitation and the honor of listening to me. I congratulate you all, and firstly, compañero Raul Castro for his magnificent effort.

We will set forth on the march forward and we will perfect what we should perfect, with the utmost loyalty and united force, just as Marti, Maceo and Gomez, in an unstoppable march.

Trump Reassures Supporters That He Still Opposes Women Who Were Born Women

Donald Trump. (photo: AP)
Donald Trump. (photo: AP)
By Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker
24 April 16
fter rattling many of his supporters by expressing tolerance toward transgender people, the Republican front-runner Donald J. Trump clarified on Friday that he still opposes women who were born women.
“The media has, per usual, tried to blow my words out of proportion,” Trump said on the Fox News Channel. “Just because I happen to think transgender people deserve our understanding in no way means that I feel that way about women who were born women.”
Trump said that any attempt to twist his words to apply to “women in general” was deeply offensive to him. “I have made my views about women very clear and to suggest that I have somehow changed those views is really, really hurtful,” he said.
Across the nation, Trump supporters who had been alarmed that the candidate had seemingly strayed into something resembling empathy were greatly relieved by his clarification.
“When you start being respectful to one group it can kind of be a slippery slope,” Trump supporter Harland Dorrinson said. “I’m just glad he cleared it up, is all.”