This is a Test..

Many years ago, there was a television mini-series about the Holocaust. My mother came over and watched the final episode with me and my (very young) children, and I still remember her firm declaration after it concluded, to the effect that she couldn’t understand the “good Germans” who kept quiet, went along and declined to get involved. She was adamant that she would not have been one of them–that she would have resisted.

I remember telling her that I wished I could be so certain. It’s easy to watch injustice and horrific behaviors from the safety of the sofa and reassure ourselves that we would be among the “good guys,” the ones who did what they knew was right no matter the consequences.

Incredible as it seems, it appears we’re going to have a chance to find out what kind of Americans we really are. Will we be among the apologists who dismiss what is happening (after all, the President isn’t coming for people like me…) and characterize the shock and anger displayed by millions of Americans as “hysteria” and “over-reaction”? Will we be like the pious “Christians” who evidently believe that morality only involves what happens below the human waist, and who evidently skipped over all those biblical references to taking in the stranger and caring for the poor and weak? Or will we go along with the self-proclaimed “patriots” we have elected–the ones who always wear a flag pin and ostentatiously carry copies of a Constitution to which they give lip service but which they read selectively, if at all?

Several readers noted that the unAmerican Executive Order refusing to admit refugees and “certain others” wasn’t even the worst thing Trump did yesterday. While that order got most of the attention, he placed his chief political strategist, Stephen Bannon, on the National Security Council, and limited the roles of both the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Bannon–the White Nationalist and neo-Nazi sympathizer who ran Breitbart, the far-Right propaganda site– will now be a regular attendee of the Cabinet-level forum that deals with national security. The Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, however, won’t be.

It is hard to believe the extent of Trump’s assault on American values and institutions in just ten days. And it is dispiriting to see the cowardice of our elected officials in the face of that assault.

It is telling that neither Ryan nor McConnell have spoken out.  No profiles in courage there, or among most GOP Senators and Representatives. (Credit where credit is due: Lindsay Graham and John McCain have spoken out, and strongly.)

So much for checks and balances.

I have no idea what will happen to this country I love over the next few months and years. We are in uncharted territory. But I do know one thing: this assault on the rule of law will challenge the strength of our democratic institutions, our American commitment to liberty and equality, and the willingness of each of us to stand up for those principles.

This is our test, and it’s pass/fail.


  1. Perhaps I risk a charge of treason—after all, we are in uncharted waters—but I believe as follows: (1) The man who occupies the Oval Office lost the election for that position with the help of a foreign power, and himself is guilty of giving aid or comfort to a nation we have perceived an enemy of the United States; (2) Therefore, the occupant of the Oval Office does not hold that office legitimately, but illegally; (3) The occupant of the Oval Office committed treason in obtaining that office; (4) His running mate’s position is no more legitimate as they ran as a “team” and the VP benefited from the intrigue as much as the occupant of the Oval Office; (4) Trump gives every indication of mental illness; (5) In 1974, at the height of Watergate, people were in place to prevent President Nixon from doing something silly (understatement) were he to be drunk and order troops to encircle the White House or summon the guy with the nuclear football to launch missiles at whomever; (6) Articles of Impeachment should be drawn up immediately and—there. It ends. There will be no Articles of Impeachment, as far as I can see, that will pass. Even if they were to pass—and that is a big “if”—Trump would use executive authority to nullify the acts of Congress. I apologize for this somber assessment. I believe we are witness to the death throes of this Republic. My final words? Above all else, practice non-violence. I much rather would be the man with the shopping bags in front of the tank than any of the people who (no doubt) executed the guy.

  2. Please do not misinterpret “my last words.” My schedule is too full to entertain self-harm. Those were “last words” for this post. Also, I meant to say he “lost” the election—use of irony.

  3. “Keeping our country safe should be our top priority, and I agree that we must do more to improve our vetting process for foreign nationals and refugees who wish to come to our country, especially from places where terrorist organizations are active and governments are unstable or nonexistent. We know that jihadists and terrorists are using our immigration and refugee resettlement programs to infiltrate and attack our homeland. It is up to us to ensure that their efforts to do so are unsuccessful, and increased scrutiny of people traveling to the United States from such places is one way to accomplish this goal. However, I do not believe in discrimination, I do not support a religious test for immigrants or refugees, and I do support our nation’s refugee resettlement program. America is a nation of immigrants, and our diversity has always been one of our greatest strengths. I join my colleagues in Congress in calling on the Administration for more information and clarity around the impact of the temporary provisions in the executive order on people who already have visas or who have previously been granted legal status.” Susan Brooks, last night.

  4. Daily I examine the puzzle. Other than trying to do violence to the two in the White House, what can we do? I can’t think of anything. I keep thinking stock up on basics; we don’t have guns and never have been here trying to do right. Womens March was impressive but what what if it got violent? I do know there are various groups putting real effort into finding solutions. Maybe they will.

  5. Ms. Brooks’ statement is political cover as far as I am concerned. A recent town hall in a conservative Indiana district had the strongest reaction to this issue when a young man spoke about the importance of immigrants and refugees to our country. He got a standing ovation from the crowd of over 100 people.
    A call for more information and clarity is not renunciation.

  6. So far many Americans are passing the test. I count those on this blog and myself among them.

  7. I read Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism recently, and it was chilling. She discusses how easy it is to say you would not be one of “those people” who enable facism and goes on to describe how as things get worse and worse, people are often given impossible choices – between furthering the tyranny or the safety of their families, for example. We need to stop this in its tracks NOW or it will become harder and harder to do.

  8. I’ve taken heart from the near immediate reaction of thousands of Americans who got up off the sofa to go to airports around the country to object to Trump’s ban on Muslims from certain countries of origin – none of which have sent terrorists to our country.

    I’ve taken heart that Americans object to the incompetency with which the travel ban was implemented and which caused major, embarrassing, costly, and sometimes cruel inconveniences – particularly to refugees who have already been through highly rigorous vetting for the last 2-3 years.

    I’ve taken heart from the ACLU lawyers and interpreters who have gone to each airport on Friday night and the week-end to assist those in need of legal services.

    I’ve taken heart from those who have become members of ACLU and made additional contributions to help finance those legal services. (If any reader hasn’t done so, PLEASE google ACLU and donate. The inexpensive dues alone don’t begin to cover the costs of lawsuits.)

    I’m really concerned about reports that the White House will not obey court orders to stay the executive orders until the courts can render a decision on them. A president who refuses to comply with a court order is VERY scary. That’s an impeachable offense.

    I’m upset that our President has diminished our standing around the world AGAIN.

    I’m amazed and appalled that the President is replacing the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Intelligence Chief with two people who have NO national security experience.

    I’m convinced that ISIS – whose leadership our soldiers have decimated and whose occupied turf has been diminishing steadily – has been given a propaganda bonanza that America is anti-Muslim.

    And I’m ESPECIALLY concerned that the President’s travel ban executive orders make our country, sympathetic Muslim helpers in dangerous locations, our soldiers, and fellow Americans in foreign countries less safe.

    Americans are speaking up loudly and forcefully. It’s time for Congress to do the same and put the President on notice.

  9. The republicans are absent in the face of this threat. I assume they are waiting to see how they can 1) take credit; 2) avoid blame.

  10. This is a test, we are dealing with a con-artist, follow the money.
    The media and elected officials have already chosen the wrong cups to find the coin.

  11. Below I copied and pasted the “Articles of Impeachment” from Wikipedia; as written, it will accomplish nothing even IF the entire body of the Trump administration would turn on him, return to our Bill of Rights and the Constitution, and file impeachment charges. The odds of that happening are as small as the odds of Moses and Jesus Christ coming here to smite Trump and his cronies till they beg for God’s mercy to save them.

    “The articles of impeachment are the set of charges drafted against a public official to initiate the impeachment process. The articles of impeachment do not result in the removal of the official, but instead require the enacting body to take further action, such as bringing the articles to a vote before the full body.
    In the United States, the articles of impeachment are drafted by the House of Representatives for cases involving federal officials. Once drafted, a supermajority of the United States Senate is required to convict based on the articles.”

    mark small; if you speak treason, I am standing beside you. That “uncharted territory” Sheila refers to is becoming to resemble more and more the map of Europe from the late 1920’s to the mid 1940’s, with the takeover of states rather than countries, so we do have a reference source. Thanks to the many forms of media, even with it’s “fake news” and “alternative facts” to sort through, we do have information available…if we choose to use it.

    I am fighting the urge to hate, or maybe against the urge to release hate, due to fear of that coven in the White House. Saturday evening I watch the movie, “Inglourious Basterds”, and asked myself if hatred was such a bad thing. At the end I switched to MSNBC to see the crowds at the New York City airport; my first thought was, “What the hell has that man done now?” I quickly learned it was true Americans rallying against “that man” and his decision which would return immigrants to almost certain death. I sat up in bed and applauded and cheered them on and cried at their support of the inhuman wrongdoing of Trump & Co.

    Theresa; I copied and pasted your comments knowing how strongly you stand for America and Americans. Sheila and our blog family here have been drawn together by this stand with few exceptions. “So far many Americans are passing the test. I count those on this blog and myself among them.”

  12. Again, my emotional outburst calls for another mea culpa. That of course should say “I cried at their support AGAINST the inhuman wrongdoing of Trump & Co.”

  13. “Incredible as it seems, it appears we’re going to have a chance to find out what kind of Americans we really are.”

    In the 1960’s, MLK, Jr., was most upset at the moderate white people who stood for nothing. Well, guess what?

    American “exceptionalism” and “values” are political rhetoric. We’ve whitewashed our history like most conquering nations do. “The ends justify the means.”

    We were a country founded on slavery, so I’m not sure why Americans are in awe over racism/hate against people of color. When did we join WW2?

    As we continue being absorbed into a globalized society, our ‘white anglo protestant’ supremacy will be challenged by centuries of feeling superior to our fellow man/woman.

  14. I have several points in my post, so I hope it is not too confusing.

    During the rise of Hitler, only about 10% of the people were “card-carrying” Nazis. Stats are hard to find for that time period, but if that is fairly accurate, around 90% were somehow led to stay quiet – probably in fear of their lives.

    The point has been made that we need to secure our own safety above all else. Yet, Trump failed to include any number of countries in which he does business and which have produced terrorists.

    Saudi Arabia – where Trump does a hefty business – spawned 18 of the 9/11 perpetrators, yet it was not included on the list.

    I oppose the ban and the mentality that goes to the length to discriminate based primarily on religion. Note that Trump has indicated that any Christians from those countries will get top priority – they will go to the front of the line.

    The immigration policy of the U.S. has long been discriminatory based on various factors in existence at the time of passage of the relevant Act. Exclusion of various ethnic groups was a policy began in 1788 with the first Act and continued until 1965.

    The Immigration Act of 1965 changed long-standing immigration policy by shifting from quotas based on national origin banning discrimination of immigrant visas based on “race, sex, nationality, place of birth, or place of residence….”

    The out shoot of the 1965 Act was to diversify the ethnic composition of the U.S. Where previous quotas favored those of Western European descent, the new law eliminated that preference.

    I have always seen immigration as who gets “What, where, and when” – an expression about politics from my old undergrad days. I would argue that terrorism has simply become one more way to discriminate against those considered undesirable.

  15. Re Kathy Tavitian and Hannah Arendt: 1) a handful of us in our retirement community are studying Arendt’s On Revolution. 2) since Nov. 8 there have been ‘new’ commenters, such as Kathy, swelling the ranks beyond the usual suspects. This is encouraging.

  16. I need to clarify one of my statements. I oppose the ban – period – regardless of religion.

  17. JoAnn,
    I agree with you about the obstacles to impeach Trump. But it looked that way back in the Nixon era too. The House of Representatives did impeach Nixon, and rather than face the Senate trial he resigned. Getting to that point damn near destroyed the country, but it didn’t.

    I don’t know how Trump will leave office, but he will. Meanwhile, we must all continue to stand up for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We must have faith in our own abilities to withstand the onslaught that is upon us. We must have hope, even in the face of the evil that now inhabits the White House.

  18. Theresa Bowers; the Republicans in the House of Representatives during the Nixon era were still rational and basically humane in their support of voters. I know this first hand because I worked with and for our Republican city government. Today’s republicans are a different breed of animal; sired by the likes of Goldsmith whose administration here was a microcosm of the Nixon administration and a weak forerunner to the Trumpian world today. Will they return to reality before Trump has us in a war we cannot possibly win? Will the war within this country become as deadly as the Civil War; we are already headed that way with anger and hatred between family members, friends and neighbors. We have much to talk about; I’m looking forward to it with great anticipation:-)

  19. I am left to wonder how many of those protesting the President’s orders stayed home on November 8th. I find myself not just outraged by his behavior, but by those who claimed there was no good choice, or who simply didn’t care enough to go to the polls.

    Republicans in Congress will take no action against the President. They are reveling in their move to total control and they don’t care if they are being led by the nose by a lunatic fringe. They made their contempt of the Constitution clear when they let the debt ceiling bill die, in clear violation of the 14th Amendment.

    We, the People, are the ony solution to the mess that we have made.

  20. Ms Kennedy, in this wind of hatred and bigotry that is pushing us backward, your blog is a fresh breeze of level-headed inspiration. Thank you.

  21. I suspect that Steve Bannon would not have been granted a security clearance at the level required for the information he is now receiving daily in any other situation. I wonder how many others in Trump’s “inner circle” would have denied such a security clearance. I think our last hope rests with Senators McCain, Graham, and Collins. We MUST let them know we are counting on them to stand up for America! Please contact them…and any other GOP senators who might stand with McCain, Graham, and Collins.

  22. Letʻs remember that McCain and Graham might be “standing up” to Trumpenstein, yet here they are both giving Rex Tillerson to him on a platter:

    In one of the comments, the writer said, ” they are just taking turns at playing good cop/bad cop.”

    Also keep in mind T-Rex insulted McCainʻs war hero status, and McCain still voted for the Oversized Orange Brat.

  23. “The ACLU says it got $24 million in donations this weekend, six times its yearly average”

    As a long time supporter, I’m amazed at this inflow of funds. It indicates that the public is unwilling to put up with “Make America Great Again” crap. To donate –

  24. Trump is a MINORITY PRESIDENT. He does not, nor did he ever have, a consensus of the American people.

    He is existing at the pleasure of the Republican Congress. DO ANY OF THEM HAVE THE GUTS TO STAND UP TO HIM?

  25. Each decent American who believes in our Democratic Republic must pick 1-3 issues that they can about and every week they must contact their local, state, and government officials about this (these) issues. Not just in online petition (honestly they do little) but by phone calls, postcards, letters, and if you have the chance show up for events with those officials. Band together in groups to increase your impact.

    Why do I say 1-3 issues? Because you need to be focused so you can keep active and not burn out. I fully believe that all of these attacks are happening to keep people unfocused so they will burn out.

    This is how we are fighting (and have been fighting) in my household. Each member of my family has chosen 2-3 groups we each support plus one household issue. This way we are impacting multiple issues, no one is over reaching, and we can all be informed about a wide range of matters.

  26. I stayed up till the wee hours this morning writing a post which I haven’t finished yet entitled “When are the Republicans going to become Americans (?)”. As I have often written, I was an American long before I was a Democrat, and I did not spend time in the South Pacific during WW II defending a political party or a president; I was there to defend democracy against fascism. Indeed had I been around in the days of Lincoln down to Teddy Roosevelt’s time I would have been a Republican, the more progressive party when compared to the racist right wing party of the Democrats until the advent of Wilson, when such parties exchanged political philosophies.

    Now we are apparently being set up for a war against fascism from within with a Nazi sympathizer writing directives for the clueless one to sign. The idea is to stir up dissent so that Trump can have an excuse to play his “national security” card in the name of law and order by cracking down on the “mobs” in the streets. (Trump has already signalled such intentions with his promise to “send in the feds” to stop the carnage in Chicago, a trial balloon that did not draw sufficient outrage in a yes the killings are awful but imposition of martial law is worse if a harbinger of things to come on a national level.

    So are people in the street mobs or patriots? It depends upon who does the framing. I recall vivedly reading an English newspaper in a Williamsburg library printed in 1777 which advised English soldiers in the American colonies to capture and hang George Washington from the nearnest tree for his treason against the Crown, proving my theory that one country’s traitor is another’s hero, which brings me to the dilemma of Republicans these days, assuming they are awake and interested in anything beyond the next election cycle.

    Are Republicans Americans, one could fairly ask? Are the goals of their party in playing the “good German” roles more important than preservation of their country and its democratic idealism? A few Republican senators are speaking up against the dictatorial sweep we are witnessing these days, but where are the rest of the GOP senators – counting their campaign contributions and making with platitude-laden speeches about how Obamacare is destroying the country while the fascists are torching the house?

    We are probably taking the Bannon-bait by showing up in the streets and at the airports in providing disorder and thus inviting martial law by the clueless one as he plays his national security card, but there was “disorder” at Bunker Hill and Concord, too, mobs of patriots who stood up to dictatorship – and won – and at a time when there were Tories but no political parties in the colonies available for bowing and scraping sessions with King George. Listen up and do your duty, Republicans! Try being Americans when America is at risk. We can play our party games after we save our democracy because if we do not save our democracy there will be no party games to play. Take Germany of the 1930s, for instance.

  27. Each new day brings us closer to the demise of our country. We need to continually bombard our representatives, both Democrats and Republicans, with our outrage. Watch how they react to Trump’s moves and note those up for reelection in 2018!

  28. Trump is a lightly educated pompous narcissistic business failure celebrity. Pence hopes the be the Evengelical Pope. Conway is a professional liar. The dangerous ones are Bannon and Putin and perhaps Comey.

    Trump/Conway’s job is to divert and occupy the press. Ryan and McConnell’s job is to continue their work at making Congress irrelevant. The part of Dick Chaney is played for this performance by Steve Bannon but he’s much more diabolical.

    Watch the plot unfold. The play just started.

    It’s heartening to see the apathy of Americans giving way to activism which must increase week by weak but the bad guys are not the clowns they act.

    Watch the plot unfold.

  29. There are many, many good comments here this morning. Each and everyone of us needs to define for themselves a manner in which they can contribute to damning the dreadful acts of a MINORITY president.
    I am, ala Indivisible Movement, tracking everyone I vote for–in my own little precinct, sending emails, making phone calls, and being sure that each of them understands what I think is right. I also remind them that 2018 approaches. Today, I have already contacted Joe Donnelly, the Democrat Senator from Indiana, and will tackle Todd Young to vote against the Tillerson confirmation.

  30. While we are in scare mode today at what appears to be a fascist takeover of what used to be our country (and I have already read the Zunger piece recommended by Dave, a commentary of really fearsome dimensions), there are other fronts in the war against democracy we need to address. As a for instance, the following piece written by Robert Reich (it’s short, so don’t panic) suggests that the current Bannon-Trump plan to play their national security card as an excuse for declaration of martial law is not the only game in town. There are libertarian nihilists to deal with, too, courtesy of Citizens United, which authorizes the sale of America to the rich and corporate class.

    It reads: Trump’s attack on democracy shouldn’t divert our attention from other attacks now underway. A group called the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC – at the direction ofbillionaire GOP donors Charles and David Koch and their cohorts – is pushing to convene a constitutional convention , permitted under Article V of the Constitution. At their convention, they’d attempt to rewrite the Constitution to reduce the power of the people and enhance the power of big corportions. This is no conspiratorial joke. It take 34 states to convene a constitutional convention, and 28 states have already passed resolutions to do exactly that. The ALEC/Koch consortium is now targeting 11 others.

    So, speaking of conspiracy theories, it is not only the influence of the political fascists in the White House we have to worry about; now libertarian nihilists are going for the biggest enchalada of them all, a new Constitution to their liking which officially makes serfs out of citizens. Could it be that the fascists and libertarian cabals are one and the same? Your call.

  31. I turned to MSNBC earlier, hoping for news but Trump was speaking live. I lasted through his announcement that “they” had a good day yesterday; he went on to accuse Shumer of crying false tears and wanted to know who his acting coach was. He appeared to be speaking ad lib; not reading a speech and was looking from side to side, not at a teleprompter. I switched back to the Andy Griffith reruns.

  32. Dave – Thanks for that link, very cogent analysis.

    Gerald E. Stinson – “We are probably taking the Bannon-bait by showing up in the streets and at the airports in providing disorder and thus inviting martial law …” They’re just waiting for some sort of (possibly instigated) violence to erupt. Elections in 2020 (or even in 2018) are far from a sure thing. Bannon has studied the Nazi play-book well.

  33. In addition to what Gerald shared, the Koch network has already pledged $400 million for the 2018 elections. Put me in the column labeled Despair.

  34. Alphons; Trump has already threatened to send federal troops into Chicago – the one located in Illinois, in these United States – to solve their local crime problems. We are already close to martial law; at least in the city of Chicago. Wonder why he didn’t send in the feds last night at the airport? Did he “walk back” his original threat or was it one of his “alternative facts”; hard to tell one from the other with him.

  35. JoAnn – I keep hoping that there still is some time for cooler heads (“wiser heads” would be too much to ask for in DC) to prevail. So far only McCain and Graham have spoken up. And the Senate is where our only hope lies. You’re right, it might all happen sooner.
    Here is Jim Wright’s analysis of Trump’s threat to Chicago:

    The right wing should take heed: It falls under the heading “Be careful what you wish for.”

  36. I just cannot help but wonder if the “O-M-G-What-Have-We-Let-Loose-When-We-Voted-For-That-Wingnut?” has hit the red MAGA ballcap crowd yet. It will likely take getting a friend or loved one hung up and held against his/her will in an airport here or overseas. Or maybe their favorite pro athlete. The guy they were so eager to vote for did all of this.

    Can’t the wingnut rescind some of that damage he did with that pen in his short fingers and the EO’s he signed with such drama and flourish?

    My, but the “Gopper-types” have gone suddenly silent in the comment department of Sheila’s blog, haven’t they? There’s just not a whole lot they can say at this point, is there?

  37. According to Andy Borowitz, “Scientists (are) baffled by McConnell and Ryan’s ability to stand upright without spines.”

  38. Of course you do understand that the thousands who were recently detained for no apparent reason in airports here and around the world…weeel…the short-fingered vulgarian, the orange one himself has decided that Delta Air Lines is at fault. Yes, you read that right! He’s blaming it all on Delta Air Lines! (This cannot be happening to us. Tell me it isn’t happening to us!)

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