Wednesday, December 28, 2016

New Year’s Greetings, Alas, The Donald Won in the Electoral College, International Adoption, Cuban Dissident’s American Lawyer Is Released, Looking Back on Red Star Over China

Amnesty International USA Group 211, 2016 holiday party

Christmas with daughter Melanie (a wonderful cook), granddaughter Natasha, and great-grandson De'Andre

Wishing my readers all the best for the new year, our national challenges notwithstanding.

Many voters wanted change—never mind what sort of change. Well, they got change—a real roller coaster ride. And while Hillary Clinton certainly had experience, her experience, derived from having been on the scene for a pretty long time, was not a good harbinger of change.

The new year brings a degree of dread instead of hope—I agree with Michelle Obama on that. We are stuck with Donald Trump for the duration. His supporters may have hope, but we’ll see how long that lasts. Only 2 Trump electors defected and 5 Clinton electors as well, but not toward The Donald. A sliver of hope that millions of Americans held onto, that the election outcome might be overturned by the Electoral College, simply did not happen.

According to pollsters, Trump enters the presidency with more negative than positive public support, something not seen for other incoming presidents, who usually have started out with a honeymoon period. Of course, no other winning candidate has lagged so much in the popular vote. Also, some of the family businesses are being boycotted. Trump boasts that he will have the biggest inaugural crowd ever, but don’t bet on it, even though he is encouraging his supporters from the mid-west to come in droves. He will probably lie or exaggerate as usual, saying later that it was the absolutely biggest crowd. Our women’s march the day after is not being allowed to occupy the national mall, perhaps to prevent a comparison.

Comics, such as on SNL, are going to have a field day with Donald Trump as president. A shirtless Vladimir Putin was a perfect touch in one of their latest vignettes! We may as well laugh rather than cry. Those comics have a guaranteed gig.

Trump himself doesn’t always look like he’s having a lot of fun, especially when commenting on SNL, though he’s sticking Democrats in the eye with many of his nominations. I’m sure he gets a short-term, childish thrill out of naming the fox to guard the hen house. And he enjoys getting press attention for making shocking statements on Twitter, like that the US and the world need more, not fewer, nuclear weapons. And never mind conflicts of interest. One of his surrogates has wished death on President Obama. Is there nothing out of bounds for Trump and his folks? He needs people around him constantly to help tamp down his emotional volatility and explain what they think he means by his obsessive tweets. Can he still learn new behavior at age 70 and after a lifetime of being petty, vindictive, lying, and completely outrageous? Even his ardent supporters, who now vicariously enjoy his antics, might eventually tire of them and of him, especially when their personal situation stagnates or goes downhill. I would love to be wrong about Trump and find that he actually is able to rise to the occasion. You or I would probably even do better than he as president ourselves, though we lack Trump’s apparent charisma.

Trump is naming really crazy people as advisers and cabinet secretaries. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry as Energy Secretary (a job Sarah Palin was said to have coveted) when he couldn't even remember the name of that particular agency when he planned to abolish it? Maybe if he abolishes it, he will be out of a job? Regarding Trump’s choice of personal advisers, there is little to stop him, but we can only hope some Republican lawmakers will question some of his strange cabinet picks and stranger tweets and public statements. He’s avoiding press conferences, preferring tweets because of his short attention span, which also allows him to control the information. Kellyanne Conway is now called "The Trump Whisperer" because she gives him a script or spins whatever he says.

The Donald’s tweets about the need to increase nuclear weapons are not a joking matter. On the subject of nuclear weapons, the brief exchange between Pakistan and Israel on the subject demonstrates both the danger of fake news and the inappropriateness of conducting foreign policy via tweets.

Trump supporters have been arguing in favor of the Electoral College that it allows small states to still have a say and not be swamped by east and west coast elites. That’s true, but is it fair that small-state voters should be able to swamp big states, to impose their will on the majority of American citizens living in more populous states?  I’d rather support majority than minority rule. Now Hillary’s popular vote is almost 2.9 million ahead of Trump’s, so although he denies it’s true, he must be aware at some level that most American voters did not (and do not) support him. How long can he go on denying the truth on this and other matters?

Trump's pick for ambassador to Israel would be a joke if it weren't a real possibility, a guy just as crazy and offensive as he is. Even Netanyahu might pause on this one. I don’t usually comment on Israel-Palestine, as I already have too much on my plate, but this ambassador choice is completely outrageous—like so many others of Trump’s appointee-choices, which a Republican Congress may simply decide to rubberstamp, especially after the US abstention on the UN settlements vote, just to show their Israel credentials:

Democrats are apparently now taking an idea from the Republican playbook—focusing more on state and local issues—“states’ rights” and building up from there, something the Democratic Party has neglected in favor of a national scope.

A friend with another blog has this to say: Donald Trump starts out already as a major liability for all Americans, and sadly, at his age, it is a stretch to imagine that he will mature in office into the president this country deserves. But, it is always good to remain very guardedly optimistic expecting simultaneously the worst.

Why have international adoptions become so agonizing? New York Post-The gist of the article is what I’ve been saying all along, based on my experience as an international adoptive parent myself and an adoption agency board member for many years, namely, that some intended protections, such as the international Hague Convention, actually are obstacles and have increased the cost exponentially without helping kids get families.

Kimberley Motley, the American lawyer for Cuban dissident El Sexto had been arrested and interrogated, but was released and forced to leave Cuba. (Reminds me of my own experience.)

Cuba, after 12 years of relying solely on Venezuelan oil, is back to buying some oil on the international market.

Correction: I’ve been sometimes mistyping the first name of our Cuban annual conference panelist last April—her name is Laritza Diversent and her office is still under siege.

I picked up an old paperback of Edgar Snow’s Red Star over China at a library book sale. Certainly his praise of Mao and the Chinese Communist Party in their early days helped foment a positive image of both around the world. It put me in mind of Herbert Matthews’s extravagant praise of Fidel Castro in the New York Times, which has had lasting effects to this day.

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