How I’m trying to #resistTrump

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President Trump’s executive order on immigration is cruel, unconstitutional, unnecessary, discriminatory, and ineffective for reducing terrorist threats. I notice the ban does not include travelers from countries where he has substantial business interests, nor does it include travelers from countries involved in the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless in the face of the perceived authority granted by the office of the presidency. How should I express my dismay at this turn of events? How can I make a difference? Simply tweet and post on Facebook? That seems a bit… ineffective, too easy, and unworthy of the situation. What else can I personally do to lift the voices of those who are being oppressed?

I’ve decided the best thing I can do right now is to support those who have agency, standing, and expertise to truly be of service to those at risk. So this is what my wife and I have decided to do now:

  1. Subscribe to the Washington Post and NY Times
  2. Increase our contribution to the ACLU
  3. Renew our contribution to Planned Parenthood
  4. Increase our contribution to NPR
  5. Subscribe to the social media feeds of our local mosques in order to become aware of opportunities for support. Here are the links for those in Indianapolis:
    1. Muslim Alliance of Indiana: Twitter, Facebook
    2. Muhammad Mosque No. 74: Twitter, Facebook
    3. Masjid Al-Fajr: Twitter, Facebook
  6. Seek opportunities to demonstrate solidarity with vulnerable and at-risk populations
  7. Engage our faith community at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and encourage their activism on these issues

Will this make a difference? I honestly don’t know. What I do know is I have to find some way to actively engage on behalf of my principles and morals in order to stay true to myself. These are our own first steps to resist government’s actions which violate our beliefs. Maybe these ideas will resonate with you; maybe you have other suggestions.

Whatever the case, it is important that those of us who find these steps immoral and un-American, speak out about it. Passive resistance is not really resistance at all; it’s just whining. Be better. Do more.

Michelle Obama vs. Donald Trump

Michelle Obama just gave one of the most powerful speeches I’ve ever heard. I won’t even selectively quote it, so important is the speech in its entirety. If you haven’t seen it, take time and watch it now:

It is an astonishingly well-crafted speech, one that eviscerates Donald Trump and exposes his immorality and lack of character for all to see, without ever once mentioning his name. Michelle Obama appeals to the goodness she believes is within each of us, hoping to reach all of us, regardless of our politics.

At the same time, she makes plain for all to see Trump’s crassness, vulgarity, and violence towards women. She refuses to accept his explanation of ‘locker-room talk’. She speaks of the personal experiences of women who must endure daily the comments on their bodies by men who refuse to acknowledge them as fully human. If only this inappropriate behavior was limited only to language. Trump has made it clear some men see it as their right to be able to do much more than comment.

Maybe you think we need a wall, or that Trump tells it like it is, or that he will finally be the outsider we need in Washington. Reasonable people can disagree about policy, and do. However, Trump repeatedly demonstrates his infantile view of the world. He has no curiosity, no interest in anything unless it boosts his already outsized ego.

His views are simplistic at best, his policy proposals virtually nonexistent. There is no indication he has ever done anything to help anyone else, despite his enormous wealth, unless he personally benefitted. He is only now discovering that he cannot have what he wants simply by declaring he wants it NOW, like an adult male Veruca Salt.

Today, Mrs. Obama reduced Trump to little more than a grotesque set of impulses which, due to his luck in the birth lottery, have until now always been indulged. She declares him unfit for the presidency; unfit as a man. I agree.

How the GOP tried to destroy Obama and instead committed suicide

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Frontline, among others, reported on the Republican gathering just before Obama’s inauguration:

On the night of Barack Obama’s inauguration, a group of top GOP luminaries quietly gathered in a Washington steakhouse to lick their wounds and ultimately create the outline of a plan for how to deal with the incoming administration.

“The room was filled. It was a who’s who of ranking members who had at one point been committee chairmen, or in the majority, who now wondered out loud whether they were in the permanent minority,” Frank Luntz, who organized the event, told FRONTLINE.

Among them were Senate power brokers Jim DeMint, Jon Kyl and Tom Coburn, and conservative congressmen Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy and Paul Ryan.

After three hours of strategizing, they decided they needed to fight Obama on everything. The new president had no idea what the Republicans were planning.

True to their word in this instance, the Republicans have spent the entirety of President Obama’s two terms obstructing nearly every agenda item possible. POLITICO, as of late December, counted 101 openings for the most senior level administration jobs in the Cabinet-level agencies, out of a total of 379 positions.

Catherine Rampell reported on vacancies at the federal court level noting that last year, the Republican-controlled Senate confirmed just 11 federal judges, the fewest in any year since 1960. Only one appeals court judge was confirmed, the lowest number since 1953.

The Affordable Care Act is the most obvious legislative example of GOP stonewalling. At every turn, Republicans have tried their hardest to prevent President Obama from achieving even the most modest of desired outcomes.

The Result

Let’s ignore opinions of whether or not this was the correct course of action. What were the results of these efforts for the GOP?

First and foremost, look at those congressional power brokers mentioned by name above and where they are now:

  • Jim DeMint: Resigned from the Senate in 2013 to become president of the Heritage Foundation
  • Jon Kyl: Left the Senate at the end of his term in 2012; now works as a lobbyist
  • Tom Coburn: Resigned from the Senate, citing declining health
  • Eric Cantor: Resigned his congressional seat after losing in the primary of 2014; now vice chairman of an investment bank
  • Kevin McCarthy: Failed run for Speaker of the House after the resignation of John Boehner; still a member of Congress
  • Paul Ryan: Currently Speaker of the House, succeeding John Boehner who resigned due to internal pressure from party members

Based purely on these results, one could conclude that the Republican leadership made a fundamental miscalculation in their approach to President Obama. Indeed, many of these members were forced out of Congress because of their failure to stop Obama’s accomplishments completely.

Current State of the Party

That brings us to today. The vast majority of the Republican leadership that promised so loudly to fight President Obama on everything are now gone from the political landscape. President Obama remains, with Hillary Clinton promising to implement a third term of Obama’s policy agenda.

As for the current GOP leadership? It is in disarray, to say the least. After years of attempting to convince Americans that President Obama was destroying the country, that he is a secret Muslim, that the ACA is destroying health care, that America is on the verge of collapse, the Republican presidential nomination is about to be won by Donald Trump.

This GOP primary season has been marked by almost no substantive discussion of issues, no discussion of how to improve the lives of everyday Americans. Instead, it has been marked most visibly by constant name-calling. The race actually hit a new low last week with Marco Rubio asserting that Trump may have ‘wet himself’ while Trump responded by making fun of the size of Rubio’s ears, among other things.

How has Trump enacted a stranglehold on the nomination?

The NYTimes reported this week:

Despite all the forces arrayed against Mr. Trump, the interviews show, the party has been gripped by a nearly incapacitating leadership vacuum and a paralytic sense of indecision and despair, as he has won smashing victories in South Carolina and Nevada.

“A nearly incapacitating leadership vacuum” might be due to the absence of those same Republican leaders who vowed to fight Obama on everything.

What if they had approached the Obama presidency differently? What if they had not portrayed him as the Antichrist and instead prepared to work with him, extracting important concessions on policies that matter to the GOP?

Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered. Maybe they would have been driven out of Washington just as fast as they were in this reality. Maybe Trump would still be the candidate of choice.

But… maybe it could have been different.

In that same NYTimes article, GOP strategists actually discuss potentially running ads against Donald Trump in the general election. The unnamed strategists explain:

A Trump nomination would not only cause Republicans to lose the presidency, they wrote, “but we also lose the Senate, competitive gubernatorial elections and moderate House Republicans.”

It didn’t have to be this way.

Statement from Indiana Abolition Coalition on the Sentencing of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

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A jury has recommended the federal government execute Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. If sentenced to death, the government will kill him here, in Indiana.

The Indiana Abolition Coalition opposes the execution of Tsarnaev. We urge all Hoosiers to tell the federal government, “Not in my state.”

The execution would occur in Indiana because the federal government operates its death chamber at the United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute. The federal government has executed three people this century. Tsarnaev would join 61 other men awaiting execution by the federal government.

At this point, it is unclear how the government would execute Tsarnaev. Individual states that retain capital punishment have had trouble finding lethal injection drugs. Western democracies that previously supplied the drugs oppose the practice, and U.S. companies are reluctant to have their medications used for executions.

Federal executions have been relatively rare. No one was executed by the federal government in the 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s; three were killed since 2000.

Capital punishment is also relatively rare in Indiana; our state has not executed anyone since 2009. Yet, over a dozen face possible execution.

The Indiana Abolition Coalition opposes the execution of Tsarnaev and of all Americans. We believe there is no purpose execution can serve that life imprisonment cannot serve equally or better. Its implementation in the case of Tsarnaev would be solely for the purpose of vengeance. We do not believe this is a legitimate reason for killing in a civilized society.

We call on all Hoosiers to oppose Tsarnaev’s execution and help end executions in our state.

-Doris Parlette for the Board of Directors


I am a member of the board of directors for the Indiana Abolition Coalition. Our mission is to build consensus to end the death penalty in Indiana through education, collaboration and activism. For more information, visit us at indianaabolition.org or facebook.com/IndianaAbolitionCoalition.