Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Gay Marriage Bans, Religious Freedom and the Battle of the Armrests

by Nomad

The Armrest Story

About fifteen years I had to fly back to the US, having learned my mother was ill. I wasn't in the mood for arguments. I really wasn't in the mood for traveling.  I had long since lost my thrill of air travel. It's now something I put up with but seldom enjoy. I just pray it will be uneventful. That's the best I can hope for.

Part of the problem is that I can't stand being packed in close quarters with strangers. If you share this particular dread, then you know that flights are a whole lot of un-fun. 

On this particular flight- from Izmir to Istanbul- the first leg in was to be 16-hour flight, I was unfortunate enough to be sitting next to a classic nightmare passenger. Almost anybody who has traveled has had at least one experience with one of the countless varieties of detestable types.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Hillary Clinton: "There's a Full-Fledged Assault on Truth and Reason"

by Nomad

"Now, you may have heard that things didn’t exactly go the way I planned. But you know what? I’m doing okay." Hillary Clinton told the graduating class at Wellesley, a private women's liberal arts college in Massachusetts. "I won’t lie. Chardonnay helped a little, too. But here’s what helped most of all: remembering who I am, where I come from, and what I believe.” 

Ms. Clinton had stood at the podium before, forty-eight years ago, to give her own student commencement speech. In this return engagement, the former first lady and Secretary of State had an important message for the young women of the Class of 2017. This the assault on the truth now going is "serious business." Lives of innocent people will be devastated.

As evidence, she cited the recently proposed Trump budget which she called "an attack of unimaginable cruelty on the most vulnerable among us, the youngest, the oldest, the poorest, and hard-working people."
And to top it off, it is shrouded in a trillion-dollar mathematical lie. Let’s call it what it is. It’s a con. They don’t even try to hide it.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

ACLU: “Sanctuary Cities” Law Wrongheaded, Racist, Undemocratic and Un-Texan

by Nomad

On the issue of the new laws banning "sanctuary cities" in Texas, there's a showdown on the calendar between the state, civil rights groups and city governments.

ACLU and the Strike of Pecan Shellers

When 12,000 pecan shellers- mostly Hispanic women- went on strike in San Antonio in January 1938, one of the effects of that three-month labor action was the formation of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas

At that time, Texas was famous for its pecan production and accounted for nearly half of the nation's pecan production. The center of that production was- you guessed it- San Antonio. It might have been a big business but there wasn't much of a trickle down effect for the workers.
The pecan-shelling industry was one of the lowest-paid industries in the United States, with a typical wage ranging between two and three dollars a week. In addition that, the fine brown dust of the pecan shells was the suspected cause of the high rates of tuberculosis in San Antonio. 

When workers demanded better working conditions and something closer to a living wage, local law enforcement cracked down on the picketers despite their right to free speech and free assembly. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Brookings' Elaine Kamarck Explains the Delicate Process of Impeachment

by Nomad

One of the helpful things a blog like Nomadic Politics can do is to provide its readers with accurate information on complicated or misunderstood issues. This, in turn, can lay the foundation for an intelligent discussion based on informed opinions.

One topic which is much talked about but rarely explained in depth is the topic of the impeachment pf the president. In US history, there have been only three times this constitutional provision has been attempted.

Elaine Kamarck is, as senior fellow in the Governance Studies program at Brookings and the founding director of the Center for Effective Public Management, an esteemed authority on the way things work in politics and government.  

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Goodness of Gardening: Renewing our Spirits and Urban Spaces

 by Endless Summer

The Need to Refuel

First, let me say a big thank you to Nomad for allowing us to continue this community here in this space he so graciously hosts. And thank him for giving me the opportunity to communicate with the community through this post.

The 2016 election has brought us a set of challenges unlike most of us have seen in our lifetimes. Daily, we see Trump and the GOP rend the fabric of our democratic society, and the pace and breadth of the assault threatens to overwhelm us. Trumpression is real, and most of us have expressed it here in our comments. So I asked Nomad if I might write a post with the intention of uplifting the community, and he obliged.

Resistance, no matter the form it takes, requires fuel. Whether it’s marching in protests, calling and writing lawmakers, attending organizational meetings, it takes a lot out of you. It’s fatiguing, not to mention infuriating, to have finished a round of phone calls to lawmakers, only to check twitter and see another abomination unleashed on us. It’s been just over 100 days and I’m exhausted. I know y’all are too, so let’s refuel.

I think of refueling, or some say self-care, as feeding the soul; the things we can do each day that bring us joy and generally make the world a better place.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Presidential Pardons and the Question of Justice

by Nomad

As reported a couple of months ago, one of the last official acts of President Obama was to commute the remainder of Chelsea Manning's 35-year sentence.
On Wednesday, Manning walked out of the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, bringing to a conclusion, as the New York Times called, "one of the most extraordinary criminal cases in American history over the leaking of government secrets to the public."

Manning and Snowden

The other day I was reading an online discussion regarding the subject of presidential pardons. Specifically, the topic was whether President Obama was right in pardoning Chelsea Manning and not pardoning former National Security Agency contractor  Edward Snowden. 

Snowden, who currently lives in exile in Russia,  faces charges under the Espionage Act of 1918, a law the constitutionality of which has been contested ever since it was enacted. 
Among other things, that law makes it a crime to convey information with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the armed forces of the United States or to promote the success of its enemies during wartime.  

The campaign to pardon Snowden picked up momentum after Oliver Stone's film but sputtered and ran out of gas. Indeed, all members of  House Select Committee on Intelligence, (13 Republicans and nine Democrats, ) sent a letter to the White House urging against a pardon for Snowden.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Here's Why Trump's $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan is Likely to Go Nowhere

by Nomad

Second to None

As a candidate, Trump talked a lot about the sorry state of the US infrastructure. The list was extensive, from roads and highways barely navigable because of potholes to bridges literally rusting away. There were less conspicuous things in desperate need of an overhaul, for example, the electric grid and water systems.
And nobody's denying that America is coming apart at the seams.

The UK Guardian reported only last month:
The most authoritative report of the country’s infrastructure gave the country’s crumbling roads, bridges, dams, schools and other essential underpinnings an overall D+ grade ... Not a single element of America’s framework received an A grade. 
It's a crying shame for the world's wealthiest and most powerful country. Moreover, the long-term neglect has put lives in danger.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Sanity Sunday- Four by Nina Simone

by Nomad

I really think this artist needs no introduction. So let's get straight into it. First up is Simone's signature piece- probably her most famous work- which captures not only her musical abilities but her power to move her audience.
I dedicate the song, Sinner Man, to a certain person that has been on everybody's lips for well over a year now. Probably the most detested person on the planet at this moment.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Three Wise Quotes by Susan Sontag

by Nomad

Jewish-American writer, filmmaker, intellectual, and political activist, Susan Sontag died in December 2004 at the age of 71. I recall reading her essays."On Photography" and the 1964 "Notes on Camp" and admiring her ability to explore and analyze.

When I saw the quote below in an essay the other day, it brought home the immorality of denying any person the kind of health care they need. Life and death, how much more universal can that get?

Susan Sontag

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

"The Art of the Deal" Co-Author Offers Insight to the Scary World of Donald Trump

by Nomad

Tony Schwartz, as the credited co-author of Trump: The Art of the Deal, has had more than his share of regrets. Despite his own evolved sense of ethics- instilled in him at an early age- he made the fatally easy of being lured into the Trump web.
Schwartz acknowledges that the bait was a combination of curiosity and the right price at the right/wrong time in his career.
His mea culpa is concisely summed up like this:
My association with Trump has quietly haunted and dogged me for thirty years in many ways the rest of my life has been a reaction to having written "The Art of the Deal."
On the eve of the presidential election, Schwartz appeared before The Oxford Union is the world's most prestigious debating society. It was an interesting speech with a lot of insights into what Schwartz found to be a grotesque and disturbing man. 

At the time, the writer could never have dreamt that Trump would one day occupy the White House. Not even in his most terrifying nightmares. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Sanity Sunday- Five by Sam Maher and his Hang Pan

  by Nomad

Without any doubt, the gut-wrenching events of this week require some deep cleansing.

From the weary prince who fooled us by not dying, to the horrific Congressional health care vote, from Trump's attempt to destroy the separation of Church and State by decree, to the FBI director's defense before the Senate. All in all, it's been a painful few days.
Nevertheless, despair cannot be a nomad's creed.

For me, one of the most effective ways to relax is to sit back and listen to the hand pan (one of the names for this percussion instrument.) I think I may have featured this instrument before but not this particular musician. 

Let's meet Sam Maher, a talented West Australian instrumentalist, and drummer who has journeyed around the world. In fact, he has used the hand pan to finance his travel as well as a means of wordless communication to other cultures.
To date, Mr. Maher has now performed in over 22 countries.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Film Friday - Making it in America

by Nomad

Joris Debeij's documentary- part of a series called "I Am Los Angeles," focuses on the life of a former immigrant turned citizen. Her story may seem ordinary. That's precisely the point. She has the same dreams and goals as any other American.
As a teenager, Alma Velasco had dreams of finishing school and getting a degree in El Salvador. But her dreams were shattered by the dangerous conditions created by the El Salvadorian civil war which first broke out in 1979, and lasted for almost 13 years. Alma's mother lived in fear for the safety her children, and although it meant she may never see her daughter again, she made the difficult decision to send Alma to cross the border into the United States.
At the age of 16, Alma managed to survive the exhausting and dangerous trip across the border to join her uncle in California. That's right. She came to this country as an undocumented immigrant.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Yanqui Matón: How Trump's Bullying of Mexico is Playing With Fire

 by Nomad

In his book "Trump: The Art of the Deal," Mr. Trump- or somebody he paid- wrote:  
"Bullies may act tough, but really they're closet cowards. "
it is hardly an original observation but given the source, it is typical Trump hypocrisy. 
Perhaps nowhere can we better see the Trump's bully personality than his position on our neighbor to the South.  

La Intimidación del Yanqui

Trump's hard-ass diatribes against Mexico included blaming that country for exporting its undesirables (criminals, drug dealers, and rapists) to the US to cause mayhem and to steal American jobs. 
He has- at least, in the past- boasted that he would build an extremely expensive wall to keep Mexicans out and would somehow force the Mexican government to pay for it. In addition, Trump has been pushing to renegotiate NAFTA, the trade agreement that has bound the economies of both countries (and Canada) for more than 20 years.
During the campaign, a lot of voters bought the hateful rhetoric and unfounded allegations. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Sanity Sunday- Three on a Theremin

by Nomad

The year 1928 produced a lot of technological marvels. British inventor John Logie Baird broadcasted a transatlantic television signal from London to New York.
Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic as a passenger on June 18th of that year.
And the first machine sliced, machine- wrapped loaves of bread were sold in Chillicothe, Missouri.

It was also in that year that Russian inventor, Léon Theremin (Термéн), patented the electronic musical instrument known as thereminophone or termenvox/thereminvox and later shortened to simply the Theremin.