Friday, November 27, 2015

Trump’s Lies Should Crush His Political Ambition

Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters
Just when it seems like the gamut of bullshit emanating from the mind and mouth of Donald Trump has peaked, the overbearing billionaire continues to supplement his polluted resume with more inaccurate tirades.
Will his obtuse small army of supporters ever realize there’s little chance this magnet for controversy can win a presidential election or even one for dog catcher, despite the polls?
He’s belittled women and repeated baseless, racist remarks (“…the overwhelming amount of violent crime in our major cities is committed by blacks and Hispanics”), called Mexicans “rapists,” and recently proposed that all Muslims in the United States be registered to a special database.
When he attacked Sen. John McCain last summer, claiming the veteran and former POW was “not a war hero because he was captured,” some assumed his poll numbers would bounce him from the lead, but they actually nudged up a bit.
More recently, he mocked a physically disabled journalist, by flailing his arms and distorting his speech, at a press conference. He later claimed he didn’t know the reporter was disabled. Regardless, that’s a lame excuse and he didn’t offer an apology. Yet, despite his constant, unbridled insensitivity, his poll numbers surprisingly still lead the GOP pack.
Clearly, the more Trump indulges his devoted choir of supporters, who seem to be mostly less-educated, lower-income white Republicans, the more they imagine him as the guy needed to revolutionize Washington’s polarized political culture. So, as he continues to champion insufferable, preconceived racist notions, the louder they cheer. This tactic, of course, is reminiscent of Adolf Hitler’s anti-Semitic speeches 80 years ago and was a common element of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Communist witch hunts in the 1950s.
To rephrase a comment Joseph Welch  the Army’s counsel during the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings  posed to McCarthy, “Mr. Trump, have you no sense of decency?”
The answer to that’s been obvious for months and became even more unmistakable at a recent campaign stop. Referring to reaction to 9/11 by local Muslims, Trump said, “I watched in Jersey City, N.J., where thousands and thousands of people were cheering.” Unsurprisingly, there’s yet to be a scintilla of confirmation to support this blatant fabrication.
As a matter of fact, there’s no proof Trump ever referred to this episode until now. Just eight days after the attack, in a New York Post interview, Trump never mentioned these alleged celebrations he conveniently introduced. In a foreword to, “Where Were You On 9/11?” a book that commemorated the 10th anniversary of the attack, Trump never refers to it.
There were reports of celebrations in Muslim countries, but not one single source that Muslim communities in New Jersey publicly rejoiced over the terrorist attacks.
Moreover, part of the Trump problem is the media, which eagerly spotlights and perpetrates Trump’s racist claims. The competitive 24/7 environment once again demonstrates the risk of “breaking news” that too often reports news before fact-checking statements and vets sources.
Candidate Donald Trump is democratic politics at its worst. As a result, it reveals plenty about the insignificant faction of Americans who support him and his bigoted messages, regardless of what he spews? They drool over his campaign slogan “Make America great again,” boldly emblazoned on the red cap he frequently sports at speeches but, in reality, he only inflames hate. It's abundantly clear, there’s already an excess of that from coast to coast.
Though he still leads the polls, the depth of his popularity is basically minimal. According to one analysis, Trump is supported by 25 to 30 percent of the 25 to 30 percent of Americans who identify themselves as Republicans. That is roughly seven percent of the total electorate. Consequently, even if the entire Trump choir casts ballots in the upcoming primaries, his chances are negligible. In fact, it is equivalent to the number of Americans who still think the moon landing was a sham.
On the other hand, one poll taken earlier this month showed that 25 percent of Republicans said they “would definitely not” vote for Trump for president.
Despite the list of inaccurate statements from Trump’s competitors, he leads the pack in disseminating the most BS. And that is no longer funny, as it’s turning into a perilous situation that some do not grasp.
He readily churns out facts and details that, when scrutinized, prove to be patently false. Nonetheless, just when you think his poll numbers should decline, due to the misinformation, they tend to go up a couple of points.
Trump mocks New York Times
reporter Serge Kovaleski's disability
Six months ago, Donald Trump’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination seemed preposterous, like a long-drawn-out “Saturday Night Live” skit, but his bellicose rhetoric has disturbingly evolved into a serious threat, not only to our nation’s principles and values, but to the future of political campaigns.
As I was putting the finishing touches on this column, there were reports that Trump’s numbers, in one poll, had dropped 12 percent, his biggest decline since he topped the field last July.
Maybe, just maybe, his bigoted, insensitive act has finally gone too far and the dump Trump bandwagon is in motion.
Perhaps Trump will slowly start to fade away, which would be a welcome political gift this holiday season.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

9/11 Responders Entitled To Permanent Healthcare

With public and media attention keenly focused on events resulting from the Paris terrorist attacks, the escalating Syrian refugee debate and, regrettably, GOP presidential contender Donald Trump, there’s been insufficient interest for the lapsed 9/11 Zadroga health care bill. In spite of this, there was recently some good news, after first responders, veterans and several congressional representatives rallied in Washington, DC.
As a result, there appears to be a glimmer of hope that revitalized legislation may finally be in the offing. Bipartisan Congressional support for a permanent extension of the 9/11 health and compensation programs has, by the latest estimation, 66 co-sponsors in the Senate and increasing Republican support in the House.
It’s baffling how Congress acted in the blink of an eye to block Syrian refugees from entering America, while they dawdle to assist fellow citizens who suffer lingering medical problems from working in the polluted atmosphere at Ground Zero.
Most Americans likely assume that lifetime compensation for those who carefully and diligently worked amid the ruins of the 9/11 terrorist attacks was a no-brainer.
Surprise, surprise. Largely due to endless bickering and routine partisanship that is not the case. Not even close. Earlier this fall, federal legislators let the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Re-Authorization Act expire. One of the few DC legislators aggressively pursuing the case, and a co-sponsor of the legislation, not only to reinstate it, but to make it permanent, is New York’s junior senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
During recent television appearances, Senator Gillibrand noted that over 1,700 first responders, including more than 200 FDNY and NYPD personnel, have died since 9/11 related illnesses caused by toxins emitted at ground zero. Adding, “More police officers have died since 9/11 than on 9/11.” (Italics are mine)
The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act was named after a New York City police officer who died of respiratory failure stemming from the September 11th attacks. Congress passed the law almost four years ago and it was subsequently enacted by President Obama in January 2011. The bill allocated $4.2 billion to create the World Trade Center Health Program but lapsed last month when a habitually divided Congress could not agree on an extension or a permanent resolution. Every first responder whose deteriorating health is linked to working at Ground Zero earned and deserves compensation. It IS an entitlement.
When the anniversary of the attacks rolls around there’s a ceremony held at Ground Zero, where thousands died and thousands of others, who, without a second thought, attempted to rescue those buried in the ruins of the World Trade Center.
It’s estimated we’ve spent about $1.7 trillion on the wars in the Middle East since 9/11/01. Yet, Congress, who former late night talk host Jon Stewart aptly branded “the worst responders,” cannot sense the urgency to spend a tenth as much to care for those who thought nothing of their efforts on that tragic day.
It’s time for politicians to put an end to mealy-mouthed excuses, remove the flag pins from their lapels and apply their so-called patriotic values to permanent health care funding for the ailing first responders who walked into the smoldering, crumbled remains of the Twin Towers and now live with the ill effects of their daring.
What's more, legislators with reservations about how to fund this program must devise a viable plan to sustain it. Though it would be unprecedented and magnanimous, perhaps our not-so-hardworking legislators forgo any wage increase for themselves over the next decade. Kinda like tying social security increases to the annual cost of living, which, more often than not, is meager.
More than fourteen years ago, a stunned nation watched as hundreds of first responders went where few would even imagine going, but, now, when many of these same individuals face untold financial burdens to pick up the tab for health setbacks, most likely resulting that fateful day, some of our self-styled leaders have turned their backs when they most require our support.
It’s appalling enough that our veterans’ hospitals are still poorly maintained, years after media exposes revealed the rampant neglect, and still do not provide first-class treatment for those who return from overseas duty, but to delay or deny quality health care for those who live with the consequences of 9/11 is shameful and inexcusable.

It certainly would have been appropriate to enact a permanent Zadroga law before Thanksgiving, but, since that hasn’t happened, the best alternative would be for the worst responders in Congress, without further delay or debate, to get on board with their colleagues and endorse consequential legislation for ailing first responders who categorically deserve this program.