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Terry H. Schwadron

May 6, 2018

Are you surprised by political life any longer? Have we become numbed to a continuing run of misleading actions and positions, feints and fake “fake news”? Perhaps we can still be concerned by the brazenness, by the utter lunacy of the actions, but not so much by the events themselves.

I am not surprised, but bothered by a discussion that has reached toxic levels that make it difficult even to make a general statement about the facts, background, internal implications of a policy without having to see it turned into a partisan endorsement by fans of one side or another.

Whether it is Trump or a Cabinet secretary or a statehouse or some other institution, left and right, twisting truth in such insane ways, I’m not really surprised by most of what I hear, even as I struggle at times to understand how to square the results with what I believe to be American and human values about fairness, caring and equality.

· President Trumpundercut the remarks by his new personal attorney, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. No surprise there, but what came across was complete babble about what was fact, even alternative fact, what Giuliani had misstated, what we are to think of any of it other than believing that Trump is victim of a “witch hunt” led by partisan Democrats who somehow have morphed into Justice Department prosecutors. There are statements that start with a kernel of truth and spin further out of control until even Fox commentators were warning the President that he was creating a swamp, and open speculation that Giuliani would soon join other former personal lawyers.

· Iowa and South Carolina each passed anti-abortion laws at week’s end that eliminate abortions except within six weeks of conception (Iowa), essentially before most women know that they are pregnant, and altogether in South Carolina except for rape and incest. But the real game is the campaign to create a case that be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in hopes of overturning Roe v. Wade.

· Trump talked guns at the NRA convention in Dallas, the same convention where the NRA had banned guns during speeches by the president and vice-president. Not only was the post-Partland, Fla. consideration of staring down the NRA over common sense changes gone, now the president was claiming that the source of the second amendment rights was God. Trump said. “You give your time, your energy, your vote and your voice to stand strong for those sacred rights given to us by God, including the right to self-defense.”

· A Federal judge harshly questioned Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team during a hearing for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort — suggesting they are stretching the scope of the investigation, are seeking “unfettered power” and are more interested in bringing down the president. “You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort,” U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III told Mueller’s team. “You really care about what information Mr. Manafort can give you to lead you to Mr. Trump and an impeachment, or whatever.” Still, he did not toss the charges, and asked to see the unreacted Justice Department memo outlining the scope of investigation.

· Hondurans immigrantswith temporary work permits became the sixth group from a foreign nation to be told by the Trump administration that they should go home, news reportssaid. The decision to end temporary protection status, or TPS, affects about 57,000 Hondurans, including 9,000 in Texas. They are the second largest group of TPS beneficiaries to receive a termination notice — meaning when their permits expire, they’ll have to have some other immigration status to remain legally or will be classified as unauthorized immigrants. No other president has terminated TPS for as many people as President Donald Trump, who has made a crackdown on legal and illegal immigration a signature issue of his administration. About immigration laws, Trump told the NRA crowd “We have laws that were written by people that truly could not love our country.”

· Dr. Jennifer Pena,Vice President Mike Pence’s physician, abruptly resigned with no public explanation, apparently as the feud in the medical office in the White House continues to spiral into discord after some of its members criticized Dr. Ronny L. Jackson, leading him to withdraw as nominee for Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs. This week, CNN reported that one source of damaging accusations against Dr. Jackson had been Jennifer Pena, Mr. Pence’s physician, who drew up memos last fall alleging misconduct by the president’s doctor, including a violation of medical privacy laws and threatening behavior. The allegations included charges that Jackson had overprescribed medication and was drunk on the job. The president vigorously defended Dr. Jackson, a Navy rear admiral, saying he was a good man who had been falsely accused and treated unfairly.

· Vice President Mike Pence, on the road to fund-raise for Republicans,decided to welcome former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was found guilty of federal charges stemming from his policies of stopping Latinos who might be illegals. Pence called Arpaio a “champion of strong borders and the rule of law.” Trump pardoned Arpaio while his trial was still under way, and Arpaio is now a candidate for Senate. Even in the scratching for money and votes, Pence should have considered his words.

· Israeli intelligencemanaged to steal a ton of documents about Iran’s now-shuttered nuclear programs. Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu went into total dramatic role in outlining findings that, as it turned out, were almost all pretty old. But the target of his presentation was the U.S. president, whose decision on whether to tear up the treaty next week that had halted nuclear weapons development. Again, no surprises here except for the volume of material that the Mossad had managed to get its hands on and whisk out of Iran. That was impressive, but apparently it was silent on the question at hand — whether Iran has been breaking the agreement, just the excuse that Trump will need to trigger the act that he is hankering to take.

So, no, we’re not surprised too much these days, just working at trying to understand why we must live with it.


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