human rights

REPRISE: Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.

Originally Posted By: The Observer January 18, 2016 Today is Martin Luther King day in the United States, a national holiday. It is a good…



The Normalization of the Unforgivable — Trump and an America which is already half lost

With Donald Trump, we have been witnessing the normalization of the unforgiveable.

The rise of an authoritarian leader in the United States, who through outrageous lies, thuggish behavior, and the assistance of a large-scale Russian intervention in the 2016 elections, became President, would be great material for a movie but in fact be unbelievable, unless of course it actually happened.

During his campaign in 2016, the transition, and now his four months in office, Donald Trump has erased the boundaries of the impermissible, the unthinkable, and the very concept of the truth itself.

Now, in 2017, we can for perhaps the first time in many decades understand what happened after 1932 with the rise of the National Socialist Parry and its leader in Germany.

Each day they chip away a little more at our concepts of the truth, of decency, and of the bulwarks against authoritarian behaviors that exist in a democracy.
We are desensitized. The outrage is drained from our souls. We begin to make excuses for Trump and his rhinoceri.
We begin to acquiesce.



High crimes and misdemeanors: Flynn, Comey, and Russians in the Oval Office

After Comey’s firing, it was learned that subpoenas have been issued to Michael Flynn to produce all papers and records related to his contacts and business dealings with the Russians.

Flynn has apparently commited acts which might constitute serious crimes. If prosecuted and convicted, he could spend many years in prison. His earlier efforts to gain immunity in exchange for his testimony before Congressional committees failed.

Flynn’s testimony could be explosive. It may be the key to blowing open the conspiracy involving collusion with the Russians, if there is one. If he talks, he could bring the whole Trump charade on Russia crashing down.

Hopefully he is under very good security protection.
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Russia’s “Trump card”

Putin’s “Trump card” is already paying off. While the focus in he U.S. media has been on whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians intervening in the U.S. election, less attention has been paid to the reasons for Trump’s pro-Russian positions and failure to criticize Putin.

The strongest hypothesis for this behavior is that Trump has been compromised by the Russians. This will remain the strongest hypothesis until an alternative, more persuasive explanation is presented.


REPRISE: “A time to break silence”: Dr. King on the Vietnam war, and President Carter on America’s human rights violations

Fifty years ago, on April 4, 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King gave the first of two speeches that month setting forth why he was opposed…



Public morality in the 21st century: From Republican bad faith on health care to Brazilian soccer club signing a goalie who killed his wife and watched his dogs eat her

As we sink into the moral abyss of the 21st century, we need to look not only at Donald Trump’s lies, nepotism, dismantlement of the administrative state, and crony capitalism, but also at other events in other places, in order to see how public morality is faring not only in the United States but also in the rest of the world.
In an age of lies, where the American president lies about everything all of the time, where there is no accountability for presidential or other governmental actions, where in short nihilism reigns supreme, we should not be too surprised at the following story. It is the story of a Brazilian soccer star who kidnapped his wife and child, killed his wife and then watched his dogs eat her, how he was later set free on a technicality after serving 7 of the 22 years to which he was sentenced, and how when released he was immediately signed by a soccoer club, one of nine vying for his services.

Now, closer to home, we might consider the public morality of the Republican House members’ health care plan. It would lead to 24 million more people having no insurance coverage in 10 years than would otherwise be the case, and 14 million next year. It would allow insurance companies to charge older subscribers up to five times more in premiums than younger subscribers, effectively doing away with the underlying concept of health insurance in which everyone and all risks are pooled together. Under this plan, if you’re 55-64, and sick, you pay more. A great deal more. So much more that you won’t be able to afford it, and your “choice” will be to not buy health insurance.

The cruelty in this proposal is self-evident. The larger fact is that it is being presented in bad faith, with no one believing that the actual end product will look anything like what is being proposed.

But at the end of the day, the basic immorality of giving rich taxpayers over $500 billion in tax savings, while pushing the poor and elderly out of the health care system, cannot be disguised.


The level-of-analysis problem in assessing and reacting to Trump’s assault on American democracy

The outlines and methods of President Donald Trump’s asault on the institutions of American democracy and their underling traditions and values are now clear.

First, he has conducted an all-out assault on the very concept of the truth.
Third, Trump not only lies about everything all of the time, but also engages in defamation of the leading news media in the United States on a daily basis, having labeled them “the opposition party” and “the enemy of the people.”
We face a dramatic situation.

We have a president who lies about everything all of the time.

We have a presdient and administration which reject the concept of accountability, dismissing criticism will lies and charges of “fake news”. The president openly defies the requirements of the Enmoluments Clause of the constitution…
We have a president who is under strong suspicion of colluding with the Russians in their intervention into the November 2016 elections in the United States, who has not criticized Putin or Russia directly in any significant way…
Given Trump’s ongoing assaults on the pillars of American democracy, and the values which underlie them, Democrats, Independents and Republicans need to start thinking, with great urgency, about how Trump and Bannon can be removed from office–at an early date.


REPRISE: Syria: Russia’s military assault on Western civilization

First published on September 26, 2016 *** See Anne Barnard and Somni Sengupta, “Syria and Russia Appear Ready to Scorch Aleppo,” New York Times, September…