First blog post

It was absolutely not my plan to retire at age 56. I mostly loved my job as a high school world history teacher, but neck and back problems overruled my work intentions. In the beginning, retirement was like the first week of summer vacation: staying up late, catching up on all the little details that get overlooked during the frenzy of the school year, and getting my medical and financial details in order. In time, the days and weeks and months degenerated into bordom. When you are accustomed to working 70 hours a week, it is a shock to the system to have so much time on your hands. In giving up my job, I also gave up the comraderry of my colleagues and a sense of purpose in my life. It was clearly time to embrace the opportunities of retirement. Despite the physical limitations that killed my career, there are a world of opportunities to explore. The goal of this blog is to share my adventures, make sense out of this crazy world in which we live, and inspire others to do the same.

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The Challanges of Teaching Truth in the Age of Trump: If I Had Not Retired, I May Have Been Fired!

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I remember when my daughter announced that Donald Trump had entered the race for the Republican nominee. I laughed, thinking it was a joke. How could a shady businessman and reality TV host earn the trust of the American public? It seemed absurd. I watched The Apprentice for the first few seasons – it was entertaining enough. However, after witnessing what I perceived as sexist comments directed at Aubrey O’Day (no relation) and Lisa Lampanelli, I quit watching the show. My ambivalence to “The Donald” transformed into disdain, and I could no longer view a TV show that supported misogyny in any form. It was unfathomable to me that such a man could be elected to the most powerful position in the world.

For the 2015-2016 school year, I transferred to Western High School, the largest Title I school (essentially the poorest school) in Nevada. Demographically, the school was roughly 71% Latino, 14% African American, 10% White, and 5% other. The first question upon meeting me that my students wanted to know was whether or not I supported Donald Trump.

Previously, I never revealed my political affiliation to students. In 2012, at my students’ urging, I surveyed my students to determine which primary candidate they thought I supported. Mitt Romney received the most votes. Clearly, I had done a good job at presenting a neutral perspective. Only the most politically astute students ascertained that Barack Obama was my candidate – I was, in fact, an Obama delegate to the county and state conventions in 2008 and 2012.

At Western, when asked point blank if I supported Donald Trump, I could not take a neutral position. As a white woman at an ethnically diverse school, I would have had no credibility if students suspected that I was a Trump supporter, and it was important to me that my students knew that I did not support a man who I believed was not worthy of the job. Many of my students at Western were undocumented, or their parents were. Their fear was real. Throughout the year, I reassured students that there was no way Mr. Trump would gain the nomination, let alone win. We observed the spectacle, we discussed the issues, and we watched in horror as Trump’s campaign gained traction. Nearly every student in every class was outspokenly against Donald Trump.

Only one of my students at Western vocally supported Donald Trump. This student also insisted that President Obama was a Muslim. I calmly stated that he was mistaken and inquired about what factual evidence he possessed to support this claim. From his phone, the student showed me a photo of Obama in front of a large piece of cloth hanging on a wall. The student said that Obama was standing in front of a Muslim prayer rug. I pointed out that the president was at an official function in what appeared to be a foreign country where he had no control over the decor. Plus, the wall hanging was significantly larger than a Muslim prayer rug. I explained how Obama was criticized for attending the church pastored by Jeremiah Wright. It did not matter, there was nothing I could say to shake him of his misguided convictions. He was a smart kid and a good student, who did not impress me as a racist.

At age 15/16, most 10th graders are just becoming politically aware and engaged. It was my job as their Social Studies teacher to nurture their political mindfulness.Thus, current events were always an important feature in my classes. I encouraged students to debate the issues, and whenever either side of a debate was lacking, I would play the devil’s advocate in the argument. About a quarter of my students preferred to stay out of the fray and just listen to the classroom debates and discussions. No one was ever pressured to share or justify their political beliefs, as the classroom should always be a safe place to examine the facts and explore one’s ideas.

The Ugly and Uncomfortable Truth

  • During the presidential campaign, I was shocked and appalled at the words that came out of candidate Trump’s mouth:
    • Calling Mexicans criminals and rapists.
    • Stating that he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not lose support.
    • Denying that John McCain was a war hero.
      • While I do not support most of McCain’s policies, his service and sacrifice to our nation was heroic.
      • McCain further impressed me when a woman at one of his rallies attempted to malign then-candidate Barack Obama by saying he was an Arab, and McCain politely and unequivocally shut her down, stating that he was “a decent family man and citizen.”
    • Mocking the disabled reporter.
      • CNN,My brother died from Muscular Dystrophy, (see my blogpost “Christmas Stockings” for a glimpse into my childhood), and this action cut me to the core.
    • Spouting demeaning comments about the Muslim Gold Star family.
      Boasting on the Access Hollywood tape about sexually assaulting women.
  • Since becoming president, Trump’s actions have been even more disturbing.
    • Declaring that there were decent people on both sides of the Charlottesville protest.
    • Retweeting scandalous and misleading videos about Muslims attacking Whites to incite racial tension.
    • And now, making derogatory comments about Salvadorans, Haitians, and the entire continent of Africa.

Bottom Line: Our Nation Elected a Racist.

While writing this blogpost and listening to CNN – the current background music to my retired life – at 12:20 pm Pacific time on Friday, January 12, a man interviewed in Africa stated of Trump, “We expect more of him. We expect him to be an example.”

Since WWII, the United States has been the leader of the free world. While discussing this fact with my students, I routinely pointed out what a short period of leadership this actually was, noting that while Rome dominated the Mediterranean region for 800 years, I did not expect U.S. hegemony to last nearly that long. What I did not anticipate was the demise of our leadership to come so quickly and for an American president to literally relinquish our position of global leadership. (See my blogpost “Trump’s Short Game” for commentary on the consequences of abandoning our position as global leader.) In my opinion, Trump’s actions are truly treasonous.

A subset of Americans – roughly 35% – support President Trump, including some of my friends and family members. While many Americans are uncomfortable with Trump’s Twitter rants, others relish his trash-talking tendencies. Many Americans are tired of the politically correct speech expectations of recent decades, and they wanted someone like Trump who wasn’t afraid to take on established norms. Having lost trust with the business-as-usual machinations of Washington elites, they wanted someone to shake things up, and Trump promised to “drain the swamp.” For decades, many Americans have advocated running the nation (and school districts) like running a business. And they finally elected a businessman to do the job.

Trump’s success as a businessman is undeniable. He is a master at marketing – especially himself – and he is skilled at hiring great people – especially lawyers – to enact his desires and find loopholes to maximize his profits, such as not paying subcontractors or delivering on promises. He is the quintessential Machiavellian prince, whose bad actions justify any end result that personally benefits himself and his cronies – essentially the 1%.

As an educator, my job was to prepare students for their future by building their academic skills, developing a lifelong love for learning, and nurturing their self-confidence so that they could pursue and achieve their personal and career dreams. As a Social Studies teacher, my job expanded to also prepare students to be functioning citizens of our great democracy by requiring them to analyze how the historical past affects the present and how to critically evaluate how current policies will affect the future. So how do you explain away to students Trump’s bullying tweets? If I as a teacher made similar comments on social media – not even in front of my students – I would be fired, as would most working people. Yet our president is allowed to speak his race-baiting filth and spread dangerous lies on a daily basis.

The majority of my teaching career was spent at two amazing and nationally-ranked magnet high schools. In that situation, I would have relied on simply allowing the facts of Trump-talk to speak for themselves and monitor/facilitate student debate/discussion. However, in a teaching assignment wherein students feel – and indeed are – targeted by the president’s words and actions, taking a neutral stance is complicit support. When my students and their families are maligned and threatened by the president of the United States, it is my duty as an educator, a mentor, an American, and a human being to acknowledge the injustice of this president’s words and actions.

The World Is Watching!

We are in dangerous and uncharted territory. This president needs to be less concerned with how his comments and actions play with his base (the 35%) and be more concerned with how his comments and actions play with our allies and enemies and how they affect our international status. Reputations are hard to repair. President Trump’s supporters in Congress and in the business world will be held accountable, as will be teachers – particularly Social Studies teachers at the high school level – who fail to acknowledge the truth of the matter.

In today’s world, teachers are frequently blamed for the poor state of the nation. At times it feels like all of society’s ills are our fault. Our mission is to prepare students to analyze facts in order to make wise decisions regarding their personal and professional lives. However, there are some historical and current events where taking a neutral position is unreasonable, unethical, and unconscionable. Examples include the atrocities against Native Americans, Slavery and Jim Crow, the Holocaust, and Imperialism. Taking a neutral stance on racist and sexist comments made by the president of the United States is not within my capacity.

To be clear, as an educator I would never use my position to indoctrinate students or unjustly malign a current elected official. However, in a classroom situation, students have questions and concerns. Ignoring Trump’s endless harassment of the press and the judicial system, his destruction of the agencies and organizations that protect the American people and the environment, and his dangerous taunting of Kim Jong-un is simply too much for me. On top of all that is the constant barrage of lies this president has stated or tweeted since assuming office, which The Washington Post identified as 2,000! https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2018/01/10/president-trump-has-made-more-than-2000-false-or-misleading-claims-over-355-days/?utm_term=.a2f317caa4a3 Call me old-fashioned, but I like polite society, and I want a president who behaves with the dignity expected in the office of the presidency, not a president who crudely denigrates anyone and everyone who does look like him.

What kind of example are we setting for the next generation?

Whitewashing or normalizing the racist comments and tweets made by our president is beyond my capacity. Furthermore, while teaching my unit on WWII, I would have been obligated to draw the obvious parallels between the Trump and Nazi regimes. (See my blogpost on “America’s Correlation to Nazi Germany” for specifics.) Because of that, I suspect that at some point, an administrative admonishment would have come my way after a student or parent complained, and depending on the relationship I had with my administration, I could have found myself in a tenuous situation, fighting for my job and possibly my pension. My last official day in the classroom was on October 27, 2016, after which I was on medical leave for the remainder of the school year, officially retiring on August 31, 2016. So fortunately, I never had to address a room full of students during the Trump presidency. While I worry for my friends and colleagues who remain in the profession, I am thankful I retired!

 

The Screw Nevada Two Bill

Today I heard an interview on my local NPR radio station with Representative John Shimkus R-ILL. Despite not having any nuclear power plants in his largely rural congressional district, Mr. Shimkus is the Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Economy. In 1987, the federal government passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act aka the “Screw Nevada” bill. The Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017, chaired by Representative Shimkus, which seeks to restart the Yucca Mountain project, is known locally as the Screw Nevada Two Bill.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, as an undergraduate and then a graduate teaching assistant in the History Department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, (UNLV), I served as publicity liaison and later the director of the Coalition for Peace and Justice. In addition to organizing protests against the Reagan administration’s policies in Central America and the Apartheid regime in South Africa, we supported the anti-nuclear testing movement and the Yucca Mountain initiative, along with groups such as American Peace Test and Nevada Desert Experience. On March 12, 1988, I was arrested for civil disobedience with Martin Sheen, Carl Sagan, Teri Garr, Casey Kasem, and 1,200 other activists for trespassing at the Nevada Test Site. I later feared this arrest would prevent me from getting my teaching license in 2000, but fortunately it didn’t.

What are the arguments for placing the nation’s nuclear dump site in Nevada?

• The proposed dump site is in middle of the desert on federal land adjacent to the Nevada Nuclear Test Site, where more bombs have been detonated than anywhere else in the world.

• Can you say toxic land?

• Many elected leaders and members of the public feel that nuclear waste should be permanently stored in a single, centralized location. This plan is especially popular in areas where nuclear waste is stored on-site at nuclear power plants.

Why does Nevada reject the “honor” of housing the nation’s 77,000 tons of nuclear waste?

NIMBY: Not in my backyard! Yucca Mountain is 100 miles from Las Vegas – the entertainment capital of the world. While the desert may seem to be wasteland to many, it is home to many more.

• Yucca Mountain is geologically unsafe for the below ground storage of any type of waste – nuclear or otherwise.

• According to a University of Indiana report, the water table is 2,000 feet below the surface. But once you dig down to bury the waste, the water table gets substantially closer, so eventual leakage is inevitable. http://www.indiana.edu/~sierra/papers/2004/roose.html

• In addition, aside from Yucca Mountain, which is a volcanic structure, virtually all the mountains in Nevada were formed along fault lines. According to State of Nevada documentation, “since 1976, there have been 621 seismic events of magnitude greater than 2.5 within a 50-mile radius of Yucca Mountain.” http://www.state.nv.us/nucwaste/yucca/seismo01.htm On June 29, 1992, a 5.6 magnitude quake hit Little Skull Mountain, which is less than eight miles from Yucca Mountain. It is not hard to imagine a situation where another earthquake cracks a cask of nuclear waste, leaking the contents into the groundwater and the environment.

• Construction and operation of the waste dump will be a huge waste of water, which is a very valuable and scarce resource in the desert southwest.

• Finally, the transportation of nuclear waste to Nevada via trucks and trains will result in numerous accidents and will be subject to terrorist activity. As an undergraduate, I was employed in a grant-funded survey conducted by the UNLV Sociology Department, wherein I went into people’s homes to present them with data about nuclear transportation and storage. I then recorded their responses to the facts I presented.

Let’s be clear, nuclear waste is very bad stuff. It is dangerously radioactive for 10,000 – 100,000 years. I will be an anti-nuclear advocate until the day I die. Einstein regretted his role in developing the nuclear bombs that decimated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Nuclear testing has resulted in countess incidents of cancer – especially thyroid cancer and leukemia – among Downwinders: residents of Southern Nevada, Utah, and other neighboring states. Chernobyl demonstrated the danger of nuclear power in 1986, and the Fukushima disaster after the 2011 earthquake in Japan reemphasized the danger. The United States should follow the example of Germany and begin phasing out nuclear power plants immediately. Clearly, the world needs energy for survival, and we now have the technology for clean energy through solar, wind, and water sources. Coal is effectively dead – keep that shit buried and retrain the miners for 21st century jobs rather than the 18th, 19th, and 20th century lifestyle they have been enduring. For the record, Donald Trump does not support the continuation of coal mining for the miner’s sake. Like his advocation for other elements of the fossil fuel industry, in his short-sighted world view, Trump supports fossil fuel usage for the benefit of mine and oil industry owners and shareholders. (See my earlier post: Trump’s Short Game.)

Virtually all elected officials in Nevada oppose Yucca Mountain – most notably former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Back in the day, the vast majority of Nevadans also opposed Yucca Mountain. In many ways, it is an urban vs. rural standoff. Many citizens in Nye County support Yucca Mountain thanks to promises of job creation and financial incentives. This is not a Democrat vs. Republican argument, it is a state vs. state argument and an issue of states’ rights.

The current challenge for the anti-Yucca Mountain movement is the staggering population change in Southern Nevada. In 1990, the population of Clark County was around 750,000; today the population is close to 2.16 million. These new residents are largely ignorant about the issues involved with the transportation and storage of nuclear waste. It is imperative that this new generation becomes educated concerning the gravity of the situation.

In recent months, we have seen the nuclear threat amp up with the dialog between President Trump and his “Little Rocket Man.” Kim Jong-un is dangerous crazy. Donald Trump is dangerous and his sanity – in my opinion – is questionable at best. His mental health has been questioned by prominent psychologists and laymen alike. Is dementia part of the package? Or is it all a calculated ploy to provide an insanity defense in the case that his actions are indeed criminal? Either way, Trump’s comments during and after the election about using nuclear weapons are beyond disturbing.

Mayflower Kitten Gets a Christmas Home

Eight feral and stray cats have found their way to our house. During the summer of 2008, a stray cat (Mama Cat) had a litter of four kittens under a bush in our front yard. We discovered the kittens when they were about a month old. I affectionately refer to it as “kitten summer,” because I was working on an advanced certificate in Urban Studies for a pay increase. The program was mostly online, so kittens afforded me a delightful break from tedious school work. Our dog at the time, a beloved, but selfish, Yorkshire Terrier named Bodhi, was not impressed with our attention toward the kittens. Since I am severely allergic to cats, keeping the kittens was not an option. But since we were able to acclimate these cuties to humans, we were able to find loving homes for all of them.

Two years later, on Mother’s Day, we saw Mama Cat again – this time with two kittens. These kittens were apparently born under a different bush in our front yard. When we first saw them, they were too old to domesticate. So we contacted a local rescue agency (Heaven Can Wait), who provided us with three traps. It took about a week to trap, fix, and release Mama Cat and her two boys. Afterwards, Mama Cat never returned to our yard, although for a few more years we would see her roaming the neighborhood. The boys we ended up naming Queso (cheese) and Cracker. About a year later, we returned from vacation to find Cracker missing; it broke our hearts. But Queso is still in residence. He divides his time between our back yard and the neighbor who lives behind us. Suzanne – the owner of three house cats – is able to coax Queso (who she calls Mikey) into her house only during morning hours, when he likes to be groomed. During the evening, he pretends not to recognize her.

Around 2013, an older kitten showed up at our doorstep. Although blind in one eye, “Buddy” was a charmer. Our neighbor across the street adopted him to be the brother of her two existing house cats. We love hearing about his crazy antics, as he continues to amuse.

Enter Mayflower

On Thanksgiving morning, my daughter-in-law saw a kitten dash by our back door. Given the day he arrived, I named him (not knowing the sex) Mayflower. This kitten was an absolute delight, who within a day allowed my husband to pet him. He absolutely adored our new dog – a five-month-old Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless) named Layla. They became devoted playmates. It was clear that Mayflower wanted to be an indoor cat. We posted pictures on Facebook and placed flyers with his photo on all the mail boxes in our neighborhood – with no response. I contacted a work friend who is a cat person, and Liz offered to foster Mayflower until he could find a forever home. However, we preferred to keep him in the neighborhood, so he could continue his play dates with Layla. We finally contacted Suzanne who had been out of town, and after reaching out to her Facebook friends, she found the perfect (purrfect) family.

On Christmas Eve, Suzanne brought two British scientists to our house. They immediately fell in love with our little darling, taking him home that afternoon. While it was sad to see him leave, it is heartwarming to know that Mayflower – now known as Einstein – has a forever home.

Christmas Stockings

1969 was the second to the last Christmas I shared with my brother. Harvey was 14 years my senior, and in 1970, he died from complications of muscular dystrophy. We were both adopted at birth – from separate birth families.

I came into the family around the same time Harvey was transitioning into his wheelchair. When I began walking, Harvey was forever confined to his chair. However, our differences did not impede our relationship. As a toddler and young child, Harvey would join me on the carpet for play and affection. I was rarely in a stroller; rather, when we went out as a family, I sat on Harvey’s lap as my mom or dad pushed the wheelchair. Later, after I started school, I would walk alongside Harvey. Occasionally, we were even allowed to walk alone together to the ice cream parlor down the street and around the corner.

That second-to-the-last Christmas morning, Harvey came into my room to wake me up. It was a first. Normally, it was I who woke up Harvey. According to family rules, we were allowed to empty the gifts from our stockings on Christmas morning, but we had to wait to open our wrapped presents until mom and dad had their coffee in their hands. And even then, it was a controlled affair – one gift at a time was opened, and traditionally Harvey passed them out.

On the memorable Christmas morning, Harvey rolled into the living room as I ran alongside him. He got out of his chair on his own, as I removed the stockings from the fireplace mantle. Harvey’s stocking was smaller. It was red with a white fur trim and said “Noel.” My stocking was red velvet with white trim and bells. It said my name: “Joy.”Immediately, confusion set in. My stocking was filled with nick-knacks and items suitable for a young man, while Harvey’s stocking contained little girl toys. Santa had clearly made a big mistake! Mom and dad heard all about it when they got up some minutes later. The rest of the day went on as normal.

The following year everything changed. I woke up Harvey, and when we went for our stockings, Harvey stayed in his chair. Later, dad gave me the job of passing out presents. I looked to Harvey for approval; he just nodded and smiled. That February, he died three days before his 23rd birthday. Life would never be the same.

Our new Christmas tradition involved setting up a small decorated Christmas tree at Harvey’s grave. Visiting the cemetery was not just a Christmas ritual, we went every Sunday. At home, both of our stockings were hung on the mantle.

After I graduated from high school, my parents moved to Las Vegas. They downsized into a small apartment where they had no room for storage. So all of our holiday decorations were stored in a friend’s garage. His roommate cleaned things out, and everything precious to me was thrown away.

Dad passed away in 1980 from lung cancer, and mom died in 1991 following a stroke. When I cleaned out my mom’s apartment, to my immense pleasure, I found a couple of Christmas decorations mixed in with all her random memorabilia. These treasured decorations are in the photo above.

Comfort Food

We all have that favorite meal from our childhood. The meal that evokes my happiest memories is Ham Soup. My Jewish mother learned to cook from her Polish in-laws, and this dish was a family favorite. (Clearly, my mother had no interest in keeping a kosher kitchen.) Part of the allure of this meal is that it always followed a holiday: Christmas or Easter. (When you have one Jewish parent and one Catholic parent, all holidays are celebrated!) Basically, this is what we did with leftover holiday ham. Whatever ham is left on the bone becomes the heart of the next meal. My mom insisted on ham butts – never ham shanks. Yellow split peas are the key ingredient to this soup. In California in the 1960s, this was a hard-to-obtain item. My mom would get care packages sent from her sister-in-laws in Buffalo, New York. I get mine from Whole Foods Market. Green split peas are just not the same – they never get creamy enough. Also, you don’t want too much peas in the mix; after all, this is NOT pea soup, it is ham soup. For me, the vegetables are the best part. Truth be told, I have primarily eaten a vegetarian diet since I was 14. However, never wanting to pass up a cultural experience, I indulge in animal protein a few times a year. Since my kids (now adults) also love ham soup, it remains a bi-annual favorite.

Ham Soup Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Bone from a Ham Butt
  • 1 – 1 & 1/2 C. Dried Yellow Split Peas
  • Yellow Onion
  • 6-8 Carrots
  • 2-3 Potatoes
  • Bay Leaf
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Instructions:

  • Sort and rinse yellow split peas.
  • Trim visible fat from the remains of the ham butt – this is easy to do after the ham has been refrigerated over night.
  • Place the ham butt and peas in a large pot.
  • Fill with water to nearly cover the ham butt.
  • Add the bay leaf.
  • Bring to a boil, then turn to low.
  • Stir periodically.
  • Simmer until peas melt – about two hours.
  • Remove ham bone.
  • Peel and slice carrots – add to soup.
  • Peel and chop potatoes – add to soup.
  • Peel and chop onion – add to soup.
  • Carve desirable meat from bone – cut into bite-sized pieces – add to soup.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • When the vegetables are soft, the soup is done.
  • Serve with a loaf of artisan bread and enjoy! ❤️

 

America’s Correlation to Nazi Germany

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You can’t win by comparing Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler.

President Obama took some serious heat from the morning news commentators last Sunday. On CNN’s State of the Union show with Jake Tapper, Obama’s statements at the Economic Club of Chicago on Tuesday, December 5, drew some negative reactions. Amanda Carpenter accused President Obama of “intellectual laziness,” while other guests attempted to backpedal the message. Van Jones sounded out later in the day, noting that this is not just an American problem, and he clarified that Obama was calling out global right-wing populist movements to “sound a global alarm.”

So what outrageous statements did our former president make? Discussing our fragile “garden of democracy,” President Obama warned against taking for granted the institutions we have built. He noted that the combination of globalization, technological innovation, and economic uncertainty has culminated in a collision of cultures, and our quest for security has resulted in tribalism and assertion of our superiority. Ultimately, Obama referenced the high culture present in 1920s/1930s Vienna. He stated that people believed democracy “would continue into perpetuity. And then 60 million people died. And an entire world was plunged into chaos. So you’ve got to pay attention – and vote!” Noting that democracy is reversible, Obama warned against complacency and advocated “being engaged, paying attention, and speaking out.”

Is there a legitimate risk of the Trump presidency degenerating into a totalitarian dictatorship? Are correlations to Nazi Germany valid? Republicans claim blasphemy at any comparison between Trump and Hitler, and Democrats do not want to appear too extreme or diminish their integrity by acknowledging any connection. Nevertheless, parallels are undeniable.

Aside from their shared narcissism, penchant for revenge, and mastery of communication and branding, Hitler and Trump have widely different personal styles. Hitler married late, and Trump married often. Hitler was a vegetarian, and Trump is a fast food fiend. Hitler served in the military, and Trump dodged service. Hitler rose through the ranks, and Trump parlayed a million dollar loan from his father into a multimillion/billion dollar empire. While Hitler wanted to take over the world, Trump’s modest goal is for American (and Russian) oligarchs to secure global wealth at the expense of the proletariat. Despite some significant differences between these men, the similarities between the Trump and Hitler regimes are markedly similar and should not be ignored or dismissed.

Ten Similarities Between the Trump and Hitler Regimes

1. Amount of Staunch Support

In both Nazi Germany and contemporary America, about 35% of the population demonstrated loyal support for Hitler and Trump. In 1932, at the peak of their popularity, 37% of Germans voted for the NSDAP aka the Nazi party. According to the most recent Gallup pole (12/3/17), President Trump’s approval rate is at 35%. Many people are surprised to learn that the majority of Germans did not support Adolf Hitler. Despite the prominent optics and disproportionate media coverage, the majority of Americans do not support Donald Trump.

2. Demographics of Support

Both Hitler and Trump drew their support from working class and rural individuals. The polarization of Weimar Germany followed urban versus rural demographic lines. In Germany’s multiparty political system, the urban population generally supported the socialist and communist parties, while rural voters got behind the NSDAP aka the National Socialist German Workers’ Party aka the Nazi Party. Similarly, the United States is divided between the so-called “coastal elites” and residents of the more conservative heartland.

3. Racist Ideology

Targeting minority groups elicits support from both Hitler and Trump’s traditionally-minded core of supporters. In Germany, Jews were an easy and visible target. In the United States, every decade our population becomes more diverse, and each new group becomes the target of xenophobic rage. The Irish, Southern Europeans, Eastern European Jews, and Asians have all taken big hits. Native Americans and African Americans have faced perpetual discrimination. Since the 1980s, Latinos – particularly Mexicans and Salvadorans – have been heavily targeted, and since 9/11, Muslim-Americans have been demonized. The plan is to prevent social class awareness by elevating the core supporters above a manufactured underclass.

There is also a connection between racist ideology and demographic support. Immigrants generally settle in urban areas. Thus, urban populations have more exposure to people from diverse cultures. Jews are generally urban dwellers. In Germany, many people in rural areas had little to no exposure to Jewish Germans; this predisposed them to believe the negative propaganda disseminated by the Nazi regime. Similarly, many Americans in rural communities have never met a Muslim, and thus, they are more apt to believe manufactured threats such as the imposition of Sharia law in American society. Lacking interaction with Americans of diverse cultures, many small-town Americans are fearful of the change that comes with new ideas and differing cultural traditions.

4. Dependence on Big Lies

Hitler notoriously advocated the telling of big lies, which, as he proclaimed, are much more believable than the little white lies all people are capable of spreading. Donald Trump has taken dishonesty to an epic level. From the size of his inauguration crowd to the millions of people he claimed illegally voted in the 2016 election to his current mega-lie that the Republican tax plan was devised to benefit the middle class. In his book, The Art of the Deal, Trump extols the virtue of “truthful hyperbole,”stating that “it’s an innocent form of exaggeration, and a very effective form of promotion.” According to PolitiFact, 70% of Trump’s statements during the campaign were false. Sadly, Americans have become numb to his lies; it is the new normal.

5. Attack on the Press

Upon coming to power in 1933, the Nazis seized printing presses and controlled the message entirely. Trump’s attack on the press is shocking and disturbing. He seems determined to destroy our First Amendment freedom of the press. However, Trump is not our first president to attack the press; John Adams’ Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 expanded treason to include any writing that was deemed to be false, scandalous, and malicious. In modern times, Donald Trump has taken his anti-press dialog to a frightening place. Allegations of “fake news” and references to “the failing New York Times,” are near-daily utterances from Trump and company. Although direct suppression of the press has not yet occurred, it is surely not beyond the range of possibilities under Trump.

6. Militarization

Hitler drew popular support from his violation of the Treaty of Versailles, including his building up of the military and his remilitarization of the Rhineland, not the mention the Anschluss, the Sudetenland, the invasion of Poland, and WWII in general. Donald Trump has surrounded himself with military advisors at the highest level. Hell-bent on provoking our enemies (and friends), Trump insults world leaders, seemingly baiting them into making a first strike. As a candidate, Trump advocated expanding the use of torture and dropping nukes on adversaries, and he claims to know more than our generals. He campaigned against American involvement in foreign wars, but during his brief tenure as president, Trump has pushed us closer to conflict with Iran, Syria, Niger, and North Korea. Finally, under the leadership of Trump appointee Rex Tillerson, the State Department has been displaced by the Department of Defense. Ultimately, the world is a much less secure place with Donald Trump in charge.

7. Inciting Violence

Nazi Party violence is infamous. In his rise to power, Hitler depended on the SA aka the Brown Shirts aka the Storm Troopers to terrorize civilians. Hitler’s arrest after the Beer Hall Putsch bought him time to author Mein Kampf – his manifesto. The elite force known as the SS notoriously carried out the Holocaust, which remains the quintessential example of genocide. During the campaign, Donald Trump encouraged supporters to beat up protesters, exclaiming “get ‘em out of here.” He promised to pay the legal fees for supporters who roughed up the opposition and “joked” about encouraging police brutality. Trump’s tacit support of neo-Nazis at the march in Charlottesville demonstrates where his heart truly is.

8. Authoritarian Ambition Coupled with a Cult of Personality

Fascism is not built in a day. When Hitler combined the offices of Chancellor and President following the death of Paul von Hindenburg, he became a full-fledged dictator. Hitler then suspended elections and political parties. One step at a time, Hitler nicked away at democratic institutions while on his mission to install his fascist state apparatus. According to the December 9, 2017, New York Times article “Trump’s Way: Inside Trump’s Hour-By-Hour Battle for Self Preservation,” Donald Trump had an “unrealistic expectation” of the power that came with the office of the presidency. It seems that Mr. Trump anticipated that he would be “ruling by fiat, exacting tribute and cutting back-room deals.” The article revealed that Trump is frequently in a state of rage concerning his impotence as president, yelling out orders to aides and members of Congress. Clearly, Trump is beyond frustrated with the limitations placed on the office of the presidency as defined by the Constitution. In addition to Joseph Stalin, Hitler and Trump are the best examples of the Cult of Personality. Others might want to lump FDR and Bernie Sanders into the mix, thanks to their loyal followers and astute messaging, and If Beyoncé was politically motivated, she would potentially be a great candidate.

9. Outreach to the Masses

Both men depended on rallies and propaganda to gin up the masses. Hitler’s rallies were infamous. The movie Triumph of the Will documents the fervor and mania present in both the Fuhrer and his supporters. Unlike any politician in modern times, Donald Trump holds regular rallies to invigorate his followers and further alienate his opponents. Joseph Goebbels – Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda – controlled the message of demonizing the Jews and elevating the Nazi doctrine to the point of Total War. Everyone in Trump’s White House is on the propaganda bandwagon. From “alternative facts” Kellyanne Conway to Press Secretaries extraordinaire Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee Sanders to Grim Reaper Steve Bannon, there appears to be no limits on political lies and spin. Of course the worst offender is Trump himself. In the spirit of giving credit where credit is due, it would be remiss to not acknowledge Trump’s oratory skills and marketing acumen. Although his detractors cannot fathom his populist attraction, dissertations are being written on the appeal of Donald Trump. As he boasted, Trump could shoot people on 5th Avenue and still not lose support. No matter how outrageously he speaks, tweets, or behaves, his followers either applaud or rationalize his deplorable actions.

10. Support from Establishment Politicians

Adolf Hitler was invited to join the Weimar government by president and military hero Paul von Hindenburg and other members of the German National People’s Party who thought they could control him. Similarly, rather than utilizing the electoral collage the way our forefathers intended in the Constitution, the Republican Party handed over the nuclear codes. In an effort to push forward their economic and social agenda, this band of sellouts has disgraced our nation and placed our democracy in jeopardy.

According to Godwin’s Law – a term coined in 1990 by American lawyer Mike Godwin – given time, every argument will eventually degenerate to the point of one member of the opposing party calling out his nemesis as a Nazi. Although conventional wisdom warns against making this dicey comparison, it is equally foolish to ignore the correlations between the Hitler and Trump regimes.

Are we set to experience a repeat of the 1930s? Not exactly. Trump has obviously not silenced the press, eliminated (read killed) his opposition, or initiated genocide. His atrocities to date include promoting environmental degradation, encouraging manipulation of the economy to further advance the 1%, weakening our democratic institutions by installing secretaries like Betsy De Vos, Rick Perry, and Ryan Zinke (individuals determined to destroy the agencies they oversee), race-baiting to create an atmosphere of ethnic hostility, and installing ultra-right-wing justices like Neil Gorsuch to ensure conservative policies for decades to come.

We are still in the early day of Trump, and the future is uncertain. Thus, it is prudent to heed President Obama’s advise by “being engaged, paying attention, and speaking out.” History will only repeat itself if we allow it. We must never let our guard down, and we must not normalize the reckless behaviors of Donald Trump.

 

Trump’s Short Game

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So much to destroy, so little time. It is the end of our world as we know it.

A myopic vision yields devastating consequences at every level. Donald Trump’s impulsiveness and lack of foresight in controlling his verbal vomit messages will culminate in his political demise. However, the consequences of his tax policies and his abdication of global leadership will have long-lasting and potentially irreversible negative repercussions.

Twitter-Talk

Oh yeah, this will be the death of Trump. No time to proof read? Sloppy errors! Covfefe. Slow down, Donny Boy. Take your time.

“I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI.”

Oops! You said it. No, your lawyer said it. No, I think it was really you, and your lawyer, John Dowd, is looking at disbarment at the very least. While not the first Trump associate to be thrown under the bus, Dowd will certainly not be the last. Jared’s future looks dim, and unlike Flynn, I doubt that Trump will fall on his sword to protect Donald Jr. While I am happy to witness Trump’s self-destruction, I am heavy-hearted contemplating the inevitable consequences of his tax policies, which were designed to enrich the elites by bankrupting the masses, and his brazen determination to abandon our role of global leadership – both of which will lead to our demise as a nation.

Tax Cuts for the Wealthy

Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy!

Gimme my money. Gimme your money. Bankrupt the nation!

So let me get this straight, let’s give give the poor and middle class short-term and nominal tax relief, while the very wealthy get record-breaking tax cuts. We will trick the plebeians with the promise of a side-dish of trickle-down bullshit.

Wait, it will be okay, it will be great. The wealthy are going to reinvest their extra cash to create jobs. Right? I seriously can’t believe that the same Republic leaders who decried the deficit threat under Obama are now ready to increase it exponentially. Can you say hypocrites? Who needs taxes anyway. The private sector will repair infrastructure, and help the poor, and educate the young, and fight the wars. Trump’s plan is intent on bankrupting our nation of financial and environmental resources in an effort to line the pockets of the oligarchs. A special thanks to Rex Tillerson; no one knows the business of exploiting nature for financial gains like this oil man. Short-term economic gain for the chosen few = long-term financial devastation for the 99%.

Relinquishment of Global Dominance

I willingly confess to having a critical view of the United States’ imperialist practices in the 20th century and our disastrous wars in recent decades. However, like all Americans, I want the United States to be the world leader. I just want us to behave our best and earn our place at top the fair way, instead of rising up by sabotaging and manipulating smaller nations. We all want to be winners, after all. Donald Trump ran his campaign with the promise of winning so much that we would get sick of winning. That hasn’t happened. Instead, under President Trump, we are losing our position of global leadership to the Russians and the Chinese.

Trump’s time at the helm will hopefully be a limited affair. Even if Mueller does not do him in, his fast food habit most certainly will. However, the effects of his presidency will have long-term consequences. Russia and China are poised to overtake our position. The Donald has been eager to acquiesce to Vladimir Putin – for whatever reason. Rather than maintain American hegemony, Trump has given Putin the keys to the kingdom. The United States under Trump has willingly relinquished our global leadership role. We literally gave it away. As if being Putin’s bitch is not enough, we have opened the door for a stronger China.

The Long Game

Both Russia and China are masters of the long game. Once Ivan the Great finally drove out the Mongols in 1480, the czars kept a stranglehold on the Russian people and their subjugated neighbors. The communist revolution certainly shook things up, even marginally raising the living conditions for the proletariat. However, basic freedoms never materialized. The fall of communism in 1991 did not bring long-lasting liberty, and older Russians longed for a return to communism rather than face the deprivation of the post-communist era. The kleptocracy of the Putin regime has solidified the master class of Russian oligarchs. This arrangement seems to be the model for Trump.

As the longest-lasting civilization in world history, China plays the long game even better than Russia. This nation has survived changing dynasties and a communist revolution whose integrity was predicated on eliminating Western influence. The rebound came with Deng Xiaoping who revolutionized the economy by embracing capitalism. In the 40 years since the death of Mao Zedong, China has clawed their way to the top of the global economic pile, and they are poised to economically overtake us. Trump’s dereliction of duty has cleared the path for these powerful and skilled adversaries to dominate the 21st century.

With centuries of totalitarian control under their belts, Russian and Chinese dictators have mastered the art of exploiting the masses for the good of the state. The critical difference is that Russia and China did not sell out their nations the way Trump is selling out the United States. Our adversaries are strong, determined, and committed to the long game, while Trump is determined to reap short-term economic gain for his family and other wealthy patrons.

Donald: What is the master plan? Do you have one?

As State Department positions go unfilled, you have placed your loyal supporters – despite their incompetency – in Cabinet positions. These people were selected explicitly to destroy the very agencies they were appointed to. Hello Betsy DeVos, Rick Perry, Scott Pruitt, and friends. Our government is rotting from the inside out and from the head – Trump. I get that the people who elected you (some are members of my own family) supported your promise to drain the swamp. Fed up with politics as usual, they wanted change. However, instead of draining out government corruption, special interest groups, and Wall Street, Trump and company are draining every last dime and natural resource from the nation.

Rome did not last forever, but 800+ years is a good run. The British Empire dominated the world from the 17th century until WWII. I knew United States’ hegemony would not last forever, I just did not think our demise would occur in the dawn of the 21st century and a reality TV host would literally sell out and give away our power and position.