Sunday, August 6, 2017

Peace Corps, Bravo McCain, Interpretation Agency Farewell, Cuba, Guns, Trump (still in office, unfortunately), Abortion Issue, A Death Foretold

[Hope this posting is correct now--somehow, the whole thing ended up in title and I had to remove it the first time around.]
I recommend the following article, written by the parent of a Peace Corps volunteer, that appeared in the Raleigh Observer in North Carolina,

Bravo to Sen. John McCain in the twilight of his career for doing the right thing in voting against the Republicans’ so-called health care bill. He has been considered a maverick because of his sometimes quirky statements and actions, but the maverick came through heroically this time. Notice that while Senator Murkowski and her whole state are being mercilessly berated and threatened by Trump, he has made no such threats against McCain or against Arizona—very hard to personally attack a war hero, former Republican presidential candidate, and now probably terminally ill popular elected official. Meanwhile, besides the Trump administration keeping the health care market in a turmoil of uncertainty, the ACA website continues to trash its own product by posting complaints about “Obamacare” and not providing helpful information, in line with the Trump effort to sabotage federal agencies and programs from within—let the fox into the henhouse, then complain that the henhouse is not secure. It’s probably too much of a stretch for Republican lawmakers to actually heed McCain’s call to reach across the aisle to improve the flaws in Obamacare.

See a nice message below from a hospital nurse, where I no longer work as a Spanish interpreter because they switched to a much cheaper service making it not worth my time to work for the amount the new interpretation agency is offering. The new pay scale allows a native Spanish-speaker working their way up from child care and house cleaning to interpreting, particularly a non-citizen, to take my place and be satisfied with a lower payment, so more power to those taking over my position (though these new interpreters are not tested for their ability, especially in English and for knowledge of medical terms). I still am interpreting elsewhere, but after 13 years at that hospital, I do miss working there.

It was such a pleasure working with you. You were so good to us and most importantly our patients. You will be missed. I know that you will provide excellent services for those who need you. You should also be paid more because you are worth so much. Please let us know how you are doing.

The young man who came through Mexico alone as an unaccompanied minor, for whom I interpreted at an asylum interview, was not approved, so now must go before an immigration judge. His lawyer said these days, fewer asylum requests than before are being granted.

Here’s one of the main arguments I made in my Confessions book about Latin American leaders’ support of Fidel Castro, stated cogently by commentator Jose Azel in the Miami Herald:
Given the abject failure of Cuba’s socioeconomic model, the sycophancy of Latin American leaders towards the Cuban leadership is perhaps best explained as a petulant form of anti-Americanism. It is not that the Cuban revolution has accomplished much for the Cuban people; it has not. It is that the Castros have successfully confronted the goliath of the North. That seems to be what Latin American leaders’ value from the disastrous Cuban experiment.

The Cuban military, which already controls most of the economy, is moving further. The experiment with licensed self-employment seems on the wane. The Cuban military has already dispossessed the license holders in the lucrative central Havana tourist area and now new self-employment licenses are not being issued.  

As Amnesty Int’l USA’s volunteer Caribbean coordinator, I have had 2 cases of Cuban asylum applicants being held in Immigration detention since the end of wet-foot/dry-foot. The case I am testifying for right now was sent to the USSR to study, then later became disaffected. His brother, also a dissident, died under mysterious circumstances. This man also once helped Oswaldo Paya, a prominent Cuba dissident (whom I once met) who also was killed under suspicious circumstances. Raul Castro has been doubling down against so-called self-employed licensees, no longer granting licenses and driving them out of central Havana so the Cuban military can take over that lucrative tourist market. Meanwhile, Venezuela, Cuba’s oil benefactor, continues to implode under directions from Havana, periling Cuba’s oil subsidies. The Cuban leadership in Venezuela is cutting off its nose to spite its face.

State Dept, is considering removing “democracy promotion” from its mission statement:
Having a gun in hand seems to make it more likely that anyone—including a police officer—will use that gun. It sounds as though the woman in Minneapolis killed by a police officer might have startled him when she approach the police car and apparently hit the side. Although tasers can occasionally be lethal, that’s much less likely, but they can still disable someone temporarily, so police should use a taser first and a gun only as a last resort. While perhaps personal civilian gun possession has been declared a “right” (though not so considered until fairly recently), isn’t protection from being killed or injured by a gun also a right? What about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

Trump needs to learn about probabilities, if, at age 71, he is capable of learning anything at all, since he thinks already knows everything and considers himself “very smart.” Any outcome is a matter of probabilities--never 100% certain. Yes, sometimes an undocumented person has killed an American citizen, but does that mean all undocumented or even a significant number are potential killers? The likelihood of a US-born person killing someone is statistically much greater. Likewise, while occasionally a male college student is falsely accused of rape and should be exonerated, many more college rapes occur that are never reported or where no action is taken. While an infinitesimal number of people may have voted illegally (and may have even voted for Trump!), many more potential voters have been turned away or discouraged from voting.

Stephen Colbert went to Moscow to the hotel room where Donald Trump is rumored to have engaged in “pee-pee” or a “golden shower” with Russian prostitutes, something filmed that could be used by Putin to blackmail Trump, although Trump supporters are so diehard that they would probably dismiss it as “fake news.” When I first heard about this alleged event, I thought it meant the prostitutes let Trump urinate on them, but now, it seems, it was the other way around, them peeing on him as lay on the bed or maybe he had another role while watching them pee on the bed (let’s hope they changed the mattress later). 

A more likely blackmail threat to Trump from Russia beyond just sex hijinks would be revelations about business contacts and involvements.

A former Peace Corps volunteer in Benin, Greg Andres is now part of Mueller’s investigation team.

Certainly, things have been interesting—even entertaining—with Trump in the presidency, though with some dire consequences for the country and the world (and for the Republican Party). If Trump actually told the truth about anything, would we even believe him?

Can Trump legally pardon all his family members and associates and even pardon himself? The latter seems like a stretch. Could Nixon have pardoned himself? Or Bill Clinton have done so, for that matter? Of course, Trump doesn’t care how that would look if he did try to do it. He is impervious to outside opinions of his own actions, which, in his eyes, are always successful anyway. And he doesn’t seem capable of planning ahead or doing strategic thinking. For example, he has simply told Republican lawmakers to fix the health care problem, but he had no plans or ideas about how to do that, nor does he seems to care what (Republican) governors want or about Congressional Republicans’ reelection prospects. Probably in his businesses, he simply told his underlings to go “fix” things and if they did not, they were fired. That may be what will happen to Sessions, despite support for him from Gingrich and others (Gingrich is also promoting his new book about Trump).

A foul-mouthed, uncensored Anthony Scaramucchi combined with an unfettered tweeter like Trump, now there was a nasty combination. General John Kelly seems to have taken charge now by getting rid of Scaramucchi. So maybe “Mooch’s” wife can withdraw her divorce filing.

Whew! Trump has announced that he is going on vacation—after all, he’s “worked” so hard! That may give us a respite, thank goodness. I wish the rest of his folks would take a long vacation. Life is already hard enough—why let a deliberately vengeful minority make it worse for everybody else? I have never seen a gang so mean, nasty, and vindictive, so gratuitously cruel and just plain liars. Like reality TV, which was Trump’s training for the presidency, not everything said is even remotely true and real.

One happening under Trump for which he may deserve some credit, is that not only did the stock market not fall, as some pundits had predicted, but in anticipation of possible tax breaks, it actually has risen.

A local high school soccer star told Immigration about his college sports scholarship and, within days, he and his brother were deported to El Salvador.
Some of us--myself included--might like to imagine a future scenario whereby these egregious deportations (happening in every state) might be reversed under some special amnesty, though I agree that’s just wishful thinking and really farfetched.  While some folks might cheer “getting really tough” on refugees and immigrants, many more of us are appalled and hurt. What about majority rule? We might even stipulate that as a condition of their return, these folks would have to spend a certain amount of time in a region that is losing population, including some of the strongholds of “deplorables.” That way, the latter might find they have some common ground with immigrants.  

What’s the point of most of the Trump administrations actions? How do they benefit the rest of us? I could not feel very sorry for Jeff Sessions when Trump was running him down because Sessions has been so relentlessly racist, so devoid of human sentiment, playing to the worst instincts of Trump’s shrinking base. He’s a funny-looking little man with no power of communication or self-confidence who nonetheless managed to be elected to the Senate and now has glommed onto Trump, hanging on for dear life. Must the rest of the American people remain hostages of what Hillary Clinton rightly called the “deplorables”?

This is cute spoof of Trump immigration policies, featuring the statue of liberty, a French woman who doesn’t speak English spreading pro-immigration propaganda.

Most Americans remain hopeful about the future, despite Trump’s assumption of the presidency. Many of us are looking forward to the day when he will be gone from office, the sooner, the better. A huge cheer will go up in the US and around the world when that happens. Until then, his faithful supporters may still be expecting his promises to be fulfilled.

As both an adoptive and a birth parent, and a life-long Democrat, I agree that the Democratic Party should have a “big tent” on the abortion issue. Although I participated in the January women’s march in Washington, DC, I am not a “right-to-choose” militant. Contraception, morning-after pills, frozen embryos—no arguments there, but certainly after the first trimester, there would have to be a very strong reason (in terms of mother’s or fetal health) to undertake an abortion, a position that the majority of Americans support. If the Democratic Party wants to win (or win back) Hispanic and Catholic voters, they have to become less self-righteous and rigid on the abortion issue.

Anna Adams, whom I have known since were both age 14 and living in Colombia, has just died. We, her friends, knew she was seriously ill, but we were planning to celebrate her 80th birthday in Providence, RI, where she lived, later this month. So sorry she didn’t make it as she had made elaborate plans which we, her friends, were trying hard to fulfill. I, at least, hoped the pending birthday party might give her the will to survive that long. She visited me in Honduras when I was in the Peace Corps there and twice she and I went with other friends to spend time in Provincetown at the far end of Cape Cod. Despite COPD that required her to use a respirator, Anna remained upbeat and hopeful and mentally sharp. She miraculously survived being run over by a vehicle belonging to her assisted living facility, spent two years in the hospital recovering including the amputation of a leg, finally won a settlement against the assisted living facility, and now has died of cancer. Unfortunately, the other side stalled in going to trial, probably hoping she would die first, but she outsmarted them on that score. Yet, their stalling meant she didn’t really have much time to benefit from her settlement. She was a valiant and loyal friend.  

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