The Pacific Urgently Suggests that You Vote Blue Today

If you want to save liberal democracy, the possibility of less war, the health of oceans and all things on earth that the oceans make possible (well, everything), the best thing you can do today, November 6th, is find a way to vote for the Democratic Party. 

President Trump and his Trumpublican Party have, to say the least, become, as Trump himself likes to say, “a disaster.”

Trump’s constant lying, his administration’s bigly corruption, Trump’s encouraging of white nationalism and stoking of violence, Trump’s verbal attacks against a free press, the coddling of Saudi Arabia, the scrapping of diplomacy with Iran, Trump’s attempts to undo climate and environmental regulations, Republican tax cuts for mostly the wealthy, misguided tariffs that hurt farmers — all add up to a rotten two years worth of federal governing.

Democrats have their flaws, of course– the party needs to embrace its liberal, help-the- little-guy roots and promote a peaceable foreign policy– but compared to the Trumpublicans, the Democrats are democratic, truth-telling, diversity/nature-loving saints.

Seen from space, the Earth is a very blue planet. Let’s vote today and make the #bluewave come true.



Is President Trump’s Baseness Shrinking the Republican Base?

President Trump entered the White House in January of 2017; by the end of his first month in office, Trump had a net disapproval rating in only six liberal states: California, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maryland and Hawaii. By the end of September of 2018, however,  Trump’s disapproval disease had spread to 29 states.  

Might all of Trump’s “false statements”, corruption in his administration, stoking of white supremacy and attacks on the free press be catching up with him and complicit Republicans?

Though Trump’s national approval rate was once as low as 37% (58.1% disapproval) in December of 2017, his approval has rebounded somewhat to the current 44% (52.5% disapproval), according to the Real Clear Politics average of polls.  But not once in Trump’s very long two years in office has he gotten close to the 50% approval threshold.

The RCP average of the approval polls shows that Trump topped out at 46% approval shortly after taking office and has not reached that high-water mark since. Over the last few months, Trump’s approval has hovered between 40% and 44%. And over the last week or so of right-wing violence in the news (political violence that has historical precedent) as we approach the midterm election, Trump’s approval rate has slightly dipped (.4 %), while his disapproval has slightly risen (.5%).

So Trump’s midterm campaigning push has not garnered him, or the Republican Party–Democratic Party support in the RCP Generic Congressional poll has increased by about one percentage point over the Republicans since the start of October– much of a popularity boost.

There is a Twitter site, founded in November 2016, called “Trump Regrets” that collects, by retweeting, the tweeted regrets of previous voters for Trump. At the moment, it has retweeted 2,683 times. I suspect that this is a very small sample of the total tally of Trump regret.

President Trump’s Selfish Nationalism is Self-Defeating

According to U.S. President Donald Trump, a globalist “is a person that wants the globe to do well, frankly, not caring about our country so much. And you know what? We can’t have that.” In sum, “globalists” are bad, according to Trump, because they are not narrowly patriotic enough; a true globalist embraces the whole human race, and thus is a traitor to his or her nation, or so the Trumpian creed of international relations preaches. There is also, as The Atlantic’s Peter Beinart points out, a history of using “globalist” as a slur directed specifically at Jews. Whether Trump intends to be anti-Semitic or not, he clearly does intend to belittle global concerns and global cooperation, as his opinion of the work of the United Nations and his “doctrine of patriotism” suggest.

Trump was lecturing on the evils of globalism at a recent campaign event for Sen. Ted Cruz,(now known as “Beautiful Ted,” surely the most preposterous fabrication Trump has so far indulged in. But back to our story . . . ) Trump believes, or said, at least, that “radical Democrats” want to restore the rule of “corrupt, power-hungry globalists”, the closest thing to which would probably be large, global, American corporations that Trump loves to love. Of course, if any radical Democrats do exist, they would be liberal enough not to love, or even like, big corporations. But “globalists” are bad hombres in Trump’s worldview. So Trump wants to distinguish himself by saying that he is a pure-blooded “nationalist”:

“You know what I am? I’m a nationalist, O.K.? I’m a nationalist. Nationalist! Use that word! Use that word!”

Let’s examine, if we must, Trump’s logic for a moment. If a globalist, as he says, wants the whole globe to do well, and if the United States is part of the globe, then a globalist wants the United States to do well–be free and relatively prosperous–along with every other nation. Such an egalitarian, generous, democratic idea of the world order disturbs Trump because it means that the wealth of the world would have to be shared, that there would be no clear winner, that America could not declare itself first among nations. Trump’s arrogant ego simply can’t handle being associated with anything but greedy dominance.

So President Trump declares himself a “nationalist,” which might imply that he believes that the world is made up of various nations and his first loyalty is to his own nation. But that is not what he really means; what Trump really means by “nationalist” is– be a national egotist, a selfish patriot. It might also be a way of signaling that he is a “white nationalist”, though he claims not to know of such a thing.

What Trump and many other Republican politicians fail to grasp is that if the whole globe, or at least a large percentage of it, is not doing well–economically, politically or ecologically–the United States will ultimately not do well either. No nation is an island.


Senator Susan Collins Casts a “Grievously Wrong” Vote to Confirm Kavanaugh

When Senator Susan Collins of Maine took to the floor of the Senate to announce whether or not she would vote to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, the nation seemed to hold its breath: would Collins join her fellow female, Republican colleague Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to put an end to the nomination of a man suspected of perjury and accused of sexual assault, a judge whose “emotional”, combative and arrogant testimony before the Senate committee suggested that he was not judicious, honest and fair-minded enough to serve on the Supreme Court?

It took Sen. Collins about forty-five minutes of speaking to get the definitive answer out: no, she was not going to join the brave vote of Republican Sen. Murkowski. Collins said she would vote to confirm Kavanaugh, and this afternoon she–along with all other Senate Republicans except Murkowski and, sadly, including Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who said, after Sen. Collins’ speech, he found Kavanaugh to be “a qualified jurist”– did just that.

Senator Collins seemed enamored with Judge Kavanaugh’s many previous rulings and his stated support for Supreme Court precedent. In her speech, Collins was confident that Judge Kavanaugh won’t stray and join his fellow conservatives to overturn or severely limit the precedent in favor of legal abortion:

“But, someone who believes that the importance of precedent has been rooted in the Constitution would follow long-established precedent except in those rare circumstances where a decision is “grievously wrong” or “deeply inconsistent with the law.” Those are Judge Kavanaugh’s phrases.”

Why Kavanaugh and his fellow conservatives wouldn’t consider Roe v. Wade “grievously wrong” and overturn it Sen. Collins did not say.

Nor did Senator Collins mention what she thought about the seemingly staged angry, arrogant, partisan testimony of Judge Kavanaugh following the appearance of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford before the Senate Committee. Clearly Collins had decided long ago that Kavanaugh was Supreme Court material, and nothing could convince her otherwise.

And so Senator Susan Collins of Maine cast the deciding vote to place Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. A vote that most women and a majority of Americans will long consider grievously wrong.


Benjamin Wittes on Judge Brett Kavanaugh: I Know Him But I Wouldn’t Confirm Him

Writing in The Atlantic, Benjamin Wittes, Editor in chief of Lawfare and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, explains why he has decided that Judge Brett Kavanugh, a man he knows and respects, is not worthy of being confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Though Wittes admits that he found Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony slightly more credible than Kavanaugh’s, what matters most to Wittes is the injudicious temperament Judge Kavanaugh displayed at the Senate hearing last Thursday:

“What is important is the dissonance between the Kavanaugh of Thursday’s hearing and the judicial function. Can anyone seriously entertain the notion that a reasonable pro-choice woman would feel like her position could get a fair shake before a Justice Kavanaugh? Can anyone seriously entertain the notion that a reasonable Democrat, or a reasonable liberal of any kind, would after that performance consider him a fair arbiter in, say, a case about partisan gerrymandering, voter identification, or anything else with a strong partisan valence?”

You can find the whole thoughtful essay at the The Atlantic website.

“We Need a New Song”: A New Book on the Old Story of Misogyny and War

“If the moments sometimes clash awkwardly with the more classical sections of prose, they also force readers to compare the misogyny of ancient Greece with the misogyny of the present.” —Sophie Gilbert review of The Silence of the Girls by novelist Pat Barker

There is no doubt that women and girls have been–and, as recent events show, continue to be– the victims of a “toxic masculinity” that reaches back to the rosy-fingered dawn of Western history and literature. Recently some female writers have taken to reworking the literature of the ancient Greeks from a more modern, feminist perspective, including scholar Emily Wilson’s translation of Homer’s Odyssey and Madeline Miller’s novel Circe.

The latest book of feminist re-telling of Homer’s world is a novel called The Silence of the Girls by English novelist Pat Barker.

Sophie Gilbert, writer at The Atlantic magazine, offers a brief review of Barker’s novel. Gilbert includes the following quote uttered by the book’s narrator and heroine, the princess-made-slave named Briseis:

“I looked at Andromache who’d have to live the rest of her amputated life as a slave, and I thought, We need a new song.

Gilbert helpfully makes the contemporary connection between women and war:

The Silence of the Girls is the new song Briseis dreams of: a narrative that weighs what war means to women.”

Patriarchy, under which men, too, have suffered by having to conform to an often brutal version of masculinity, needs to be corrected. Pat Barker’s latest work of fiction (a book I have not yet read) may prove to be a leading song of liberation that all women and men need to hear.

For the International Day of Peace: A Brief Reflection

Today the whole planet–at least the human part– celebrates the United Nations created International Day of Peace, first established in 1981.

This year’s theme honors the 70th anniversary of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights by suggesting “the right to peace”, a right not explicitly declared in the UDHR.

If we think of peace as a human right (the right not to be the victim of or a participant in war), I think we also have to extend the right to peace to community, family and individual relationships. How can we foster the local reconciliations, the forgiveness and sympathies big and small that are necessary for peace among people– of different races, genders, classes, religions, sexual orientations, political affiliations, etc. ?

In the United States at present there are forces at work, both political and technological, that are encouraging a near constant stream of antagonism, a verbal and governing aggressiveness that is dividing the nation. How do those of us interested in preserving democracy through truth and justice address the issues in a way that does not disturb the essential peace we need to prevent a damaging descent into stark division, censorship and possible violence?

I think we must not retreat into facile kinds of compromise, but, on the other hand, we should speak with care, be firm but calm and kindly, use humor and humility, keep our voices clear but not shrill or condemning. We should resist the temptation to cling to our various tribes while striving to silence the “enemy.” The goal is always peace, or as much peace as we can achieve amidst the inevitable human conflicts. To meet this goal, the means must justify and judge the ends, for only peaceable means will accomplish the sort of peaceable ends that have any chance of enduring both at home and abroad.