Archive for category Musings

RIP John McCain & RIP Atal Bihari Vajpaiee


World lost two leaders this month, in world’s two greatest democracies, India and the USA, and were fondly remembered in many tributes. RIP #JohnMcCain & RIP #AtalBihariVajpaiee . Regardless of the party and ideology, these conservative career politicians remind us that democracy rests on the shoulders of men and women who dedicate their lives for making a case for their principles and then accepting the verdict that comes from people and serving with grace, regardless of the outcome. These men sought to unite the people under their leadership, served with integrity, and chose to be guided by their conscience and tried to build bridges, when they could. Some highlights from the lives of these two men – specifically their centrist moves — something that is inevitable in a democracy and something we need an ardent reminder of, in these polarizing times.

Image result for atal bihariAtal Bihari Vajpaiee: Under ABV, BJP moderated its extreme conservative Hindu nationalism. India conducted 5 nuclear tests during his time in office but Vajpaiee simultaneously softened hard stance towards Pakistan, inaugurated Delhi-Lahore bus service and in fact traveled to Lahore by bus and made a push for full scale diplomatic peace process. Unfortunately Pakistan’s incursion into India’s borders, into LOC (line of control), led to bloody Kargil war during his time. Pakistan was forced to withdraw, after suffering heavy losses. ABV took oath for the office of Prime Minister of India 3 times and served thrice in that capacity for varying lengths. Indian airlines flight was hijacked when he was PM. But the biggest political disaster hit his government in 2001 when there was destruction of Babri Mosque & VHP wanted to lay foundation for a temple at the site. Thousands gathered but it ended peacefully. In 2002 however, when Hindu pilgrims were killed in a train returning from protests in Ayodhya, the resulting anti-Muslim sentiments led to intense violence and deaths of thousands of Muslims and destruction of their homes and property, in the state of Gujarat.  In his last years in the parliament, ABV made last efforts to achieve peace with Pakistan, he also visited China and China-India relations improved greatly. ABV’s government introduced many domestic and economic and infrastructural reforms to encourage foreign investments, reduce governmental waste and encourage R&D and privatization of government owned corporations and introduced efforts to improve quality of education. ABV was recipient of Bharat Ratna, India’s highest award for exceptional service.

Beverly HIlls, California, USA; May 28, 2008; Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain speaks during a press conference at the Beverly Hilton.John McCain: Although generally a conservative, McCain disagreed with his party, when guided by his conscience to do so. Most recent example was when he voted against the repeal of #Obamacare. He was a member of bipartisan “Gang of 14”. McCain made campaign finance reform one of his signature concerns that eventually led to passing of the McCain–Feingold Act. McCain also chaired the Senate Commerce Committee and opposed pork barrel spending. McCain lost his party’s nomination for president once to George W. Bush and once he lost his bid for the highest office to Barack Obama. McCain invited both his previous opponents Bush and Obama to give eulogies at his funeral. That is a mark of a man who does not hold grudges and seeks to build bridges. When McCain served in the Vietnam war, he endured fractures and almost drowned and was then captured by the enemy in 1967. He was held by the enemy forces for over 5 years. When his father became commander of US forces, the enemy offered to release him but McCain refused saying “I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy”. As a prisoner, he endured severe solitary confinement, had dysentery, was repeatedly tortured, severely beaten (once on a schedule of every 2 hours), and planned to commit suicide when he reached his breaking point. McCain survived, became a vocal opponent of extreme torture, and later joined politics. McCain married his first wife Carol, adopted her two children and had a daughter. But after his return from Vietnam, both had changed, he had extra marital affairs for which he took full responsibility and later he and his wife amicably divorced and he married his second wife Cindy in 1981. Cindy and John had three children and later adopted a girl from Bangladesh and named her Bridget. McCain was recipient of several awards. McCain’s many contributions and his often choosing to be guided by his conscience rather than by party and politics were mentioned and remembered today by his many friends, as he was laid to rest.

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SCOTUS: Above all what it stands for is Smartness NOT Ideology – Message for Independents


The Supreme Court of the United States SCOTUS located on 1st Street N.E. Washington DC is the highest federal court of the United States. Supreme Court of USA: #SCOTUS has final and ultimate (and largely discretionary) appellate jurisdiction over all federal courts and state courts. It is the final interpreter of federal law, including the US Constitution. While ruling may be only within the context of a case on which it is deliberating, court’s opinion may be broader. The justices’ ideological beliefs are of importance — But not more than their incredible smartness. Conservative justices like Kennedy have been known to rule liberally sometimes and vice versa. If you ever read the opinions of the court, they are fabulously interesting, incredibly detailed, and highly intelligent. 

Statue of justice

Until the strange era of Trump, I would not have worried so incredibly much (as if my life depended on it) about Kennedy’s retirement. But everything in life recently has come to be defined by BT (before Trump) and AT (after Trump) and we are living in a new era AT. Trump has uniquely marked his time in office with making zero attempt to unite the country, to expand his base or popularity, he has uniquely focused on dismantling or undermining almost every office of Government, he has engaged in openly inhumane actions, openly flaunted laws of the nation, has fought with every ally and has openly courted dictators and human rights violators, and he has an investigation going on regarding most significant national crime that he keeps threatening to close down. Good economy or not (remember sometimes economy impact of certain rulings and actions may be slow in coming), WE NEED OVERSIGHT. Also don’t forget the fact he laughed at the idea of getting more judges at the border to process cases faster – that is FLAUNTING OF DUE PROCESS. AND that thus far the candidates his administration has put forward for lower courts have been least vetted, least qualified and almost laughable in their ignorance.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JUNE 14, 2018: A sign reads, "Caging children is not humane" at the protest to Keep Families Together in Detroit. This is a time for Americans to stand up and CONTACT THEIR REPRESENTATIVES to make sure that all nominations are pushed after November. If for no other reason than for the fact that THERE SHOULD BE TIME FOR THEM TO BE THOROUGHLY VETTED AND LATER FOR MORE BALANCED CONGRESS TO THOROUGHLY GRILL & QUESTION THEM. It is one thing to get someone in a hurry when other party’s hands are tied and get someone simply on ideological basis. But don’t forget this will get us stuck for generation or longer. Don’t forget that we have changed and grown in our perspectives and we may continue to grow and change in perspectives. A person who may be selected based on incredible smartness will have an ability to grow and change as circumstances and context changes. But someone lacking in smartness or not thoroughly vetted and having a flawed character or background may not have the smartness that sets a SCOTUS apart in every way from politicians who nominate them. Just imagine how will you feel if we are saddled with less than the best for years and years just because you did nothing when you could do something. Just imagine how you will feel when you will have grown in your perspectives and this Justice won’t have that capability for growth and capability to incorporate new perspectives? So please get fired up!

WASHINGTON, DC, USA - SEPTEMBER 13, 2005: U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge John G. Roberts Jr. testifies before Senate Judiciary Committee during confirmation hearings to be Chief Justice.And now finally, read this court’s most recent opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts. It is sure to expand your mind – notice how incredibly beautifully it is written with due consideration for detailed history, incredible prose, and beautifully expressed philosophical argument – in simple words, asking people from refraining to engage in simplistic comparisons (for instance between Trump’s actions and Hitler’s). Whether you agree with his opinion or not, don’t fail to marvel at its beauty. Here is the very last line — and the piece is good till the last line — “A society that obliterates all nuance is bound to cheapen its history, and everyone else’s too”.
https://www.yahoo.com/news/trumps-policy-inhumane-not-1942-090006002.html
And then Please add your name to the petition below…..
https://action.kamalaharris.org/sign/acquisition-180627-supreme-court-khint/

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Top ten reasons to not single out Trump team members for “harassment”


I don’t want to single out our dedicated Dem leader who stirred up a controversy this week by asking people to “harass” the team working with the current administration. We are all filling her rage and sadness and any one of us might have said the same thing when witnessing little #ChildrenInCages . However, compared to us, far higher standards are expected of our leaders. It is completely ok for a leader to call us for civil disobedience and to show up and resist and march and speak up and protest. But let us not ask people to show up to single out administration team members on their private outings with their family members. Here are top 10 reasons why the strategy suggested by her is not the best one to adopt. 

10: When they go low, we go high (this one is still a good one to follow but please note, from number 1 it has gone down all the way to number 10.

9: Civility discourse aside, Dems need to differentiate themselves in every conceivable manner from Trump, in order to make a solid case of defective #leadership (when the right time arrives). We must maintain the distinction.

8: Instead of keeping all energy focused on their scandals, this unnecessary moves the focus on #Dems. There are enough Trump scandals that we need to stay relentlessly focused on HIS scandals. Despite that our attention is slipping as he slips things under the radar. We must not make more opportunity available to him.

ANAHEIM CALIFORNIA, May 25, 2016: Thousands of Supporters, wave signs and show their support for Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump at the Anaheim Convention Center rally on.  5.25.20167: Democrat base is vastly different from Trump base. While Trump base thrives on his lies and potty mouth discourse, democrats do not appreciate it, leave alone thriving on it.  Democrats are more likely to do fact checking, more open to contrary information, more willing to engage in dialog and more likely to call their leaders on uncivilized talk, unlike Trump base. So a Dem leader is unlikely to score high points for divisive stirring of the pot, like Trump does with his base.

6: Closely related to number eight, Dems don’t need controversy that divides them while so many critical races are going on, especially over non-substantive issues. We must not enable Trump to go higher in polls because we are getting divided over our leaders’ uncivil dialog, especially when all attention should be on Trump’s inhumane actions.

OCTOBER 15, 2016, EDISON, NJ - Donald Trump speaks at Edison New Jersey Hindu Indian-American rally for "Humanity United Against Terror"5: It is extremely tempting to give him a dose of his own medicine. But however tempting, we must not, because we will lose. ONLY TRUMP CAN DO TRUMP. Most other politicians just don’t have the capability for incessantly lying, name calling of opponents and riling up and dividing people. So why attempt something that is a forgone loser act for dems? (from article by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large).

4: There are far superior and memorable ways to point out Trump’s inhumane actions, and draconian policy of dividing young children from their parents at the border. Except for the recent snafu by Samantha Bee, the comedians (SNL, Seth Meyers, John Oliver, Sam Bee, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah) have all done an awesome job of calling out Trump and have done so with amazing class and wit.

3: Trump is doing the lying and engaging in divisive rhetoric strategically and effectively (as per the standards of his base) because he is being exactly who he is. Ironically, Trump’s words and actions are authentic and reflect who he is as a person. He enjoys power for power’s sake, he marvels at the power of the dictators, and he understands that he can stay in double digits in power and polls only by keeping the population divided. We are understandably stupendously angry at his clear and open unwillingness to follow due process. We are understandably and heart-soakingly saddened at his inhumane treatment of migrant families at the border. But what we say in anger is a one time thing. We are patently unable to stay angry always or to stay sad always, whereas Trump will never tire of being self focused ALWAYS. Again it circles around to Trump being Trump.

However, in the event that we do manage to authentically and consistently give him a dose of his own medicine and in the event that we effectively manage to stoop to his level, then we still have a problem.   Quoting from article by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large, “Then there is the political argument: No one gets down in the mud with Trump and comes out clean. Or, in the words of George Bernard Shaw: “I learned long ago never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”

children's hand in jail.2: : Trump has lowered the civility discourse so dramatically and has polarized the country so much that merely to survive and protect their political careers, no GOP members are able to speak up against him. So now the #dems are not just the keepers of democracy, but also keepers of civility, truth, humanity, and integrity. Someone will have to hold that post with consistency, patience and persistence, no matter how tough the going gets.

1: Number ONE reason we may not want to stoop to Trump’s level is because we have to believe that though victory may be slow in coming, truth and integrity always wins. The last laugh will be enjoyed by integrity, unity and humanity. To be steadfast in that belief will require us to have tremendous courage to keep up resistance and even more patience to show up and yet resist the urge to get in the mud with him. As the cries of little sobbing children reverberate in our ears, we must know that we need to stand by them, not for a day, not for a week, but for a lifetime, for the harm that is being inflicted on their little impressionable minds. The same patience will be required of us to right the harm that Trump and his administration is doing to all the other groups among us, our kneeling athletes, LGBTQ, Muslims, Mexicans, Gold Star families, women who require full medical access and so on.  This will have to be a long journey of patience and persistence and that is what we will also need from our #dems leaders.  

 

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Nelda’s dilemma 5 – Refugee solution requires leadership to address root causes


Image result for violence in latin americaIn El Salvador, there are 60,000+ gang members and overall murder rate is among highest in the world.  A gang set a bus on fire with people inside it. Latin America is home to just 8% of the world’s population but 33% of homicides. Just four countries in the region, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela account for a quarter of all the murders on earth. Of the 20 countries in the world with the highest murder rates, 17 are Latin American, as are 43 of the top 50 cities.

Image result for violence in latin americaNo Mr. Trump, Democrats did not ask for open borders. And no, the democrats did not ask for inhumane crackdown on people pouring in at our border. Any sensible people will avoid either extreme because effective solutions don’t always lie at either extremes. What democrats or any sensible person is saying or acknowledging is that border issue (like most governing issues) is a complex issue. It does not have one size fits all policy solution. It must include addressing broader issue of extreme violence and violence related economies in Latin America. Mr. pugnacious pusillanimous prevaricating potty-mouth putin-propped pointless placeholder #DonaldTrump, this issue like many issues cannot be solved by hiding into a box and building a wall around. Whether it is environment and climate change or refugee crisis, United States must have a seat at the table and take global #leadership in solving complex issues — exactly what #HillaryClinton would have done exactly what Obama administration had taken on.

Image result for solution to violence in latin americaGuatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are amongst the most dangerous countries in the world. If you live there and don’t even try to get out of there and make your way up North, then you are risking your life and your entire family’s life to be killed in gang violence. It is pure and simple human instinct to try to survive and to try to save one’s children.  Additionally, the violence has impacted and permeated into all the surrounding countries in Latin America — all the way from Mexico to Argentina, including in Colombia, Guyana, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay and so on.

No, it is not a solution to keep borders open. But democrats are suggesting that complexity of this problem be acknowledged with concrete actions for heart-centered, low and order compliant, compassionate, long term solutions. As Jeh Johnson, former Secretary of Homeland Security in Obama administration said on NPR, we will never  be able to fully address illegal migration unless we address the underlying causes of illegal migration; the powerful, push factors that motivate a mother or a father to send their child on a most dangerous journey to United States in the first place. It is a desperate situation that is pushing people to resort to desperate measures. Only effective way to deal with the border crisis is by thinking long term with bipartisan support and begin to invest in the physical security and economic security of these countries.

Image result for tents to house migrantsUnited States is putting in staggering amounts of money into incarcerating asylum seeking immigrants and already spent stupendous amount in housing and caring for babies and infants. With a fraction of that cost and a heavy dose of compassion, we can begin to address this issue and engage in discussions with Latin American countries. US also has access to phenomenal high tech resources that can be put to use. US can take leadership and get all countries to engage and enhance inter-country cooperation to curb violence and curtail gangs.

If a presidential candidate does not address immigration situation with this kind of long term solution then we need to to be aware that everything else is rhetoric and they won’t work on this in a bipartisan manner which is the only way it can be solved.

It is about time to make sure that each and every single child is united with parents and all children are treated as children, not at criminals.

See links to
Nelda’s journey 1 – http://bit.ly/2ymlWQt
Nelda’s journey 2 – http://bit.ly/2M1Czmi
Nelda’s journey 3 – http://bit.ly/2KarjH1
Nelda’s  journey 4 – http://bit.ly/2ywjfMb

 

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Nelda’s journey 4 – Mama deported, Nelda in foster care


Nelda’s mama is deported
Back to Venezuela
Nelda is with foster family
They’re caring and kind

At school Nelda learns
Days are full and fun
But nights bring terror
“Mama”, she sobs

Nights pour into days
Sleepless and scared
Nelda doesn’t care
I’m ok, she says

Nelda isn’t crying
Her tears have dried up
She’s ward in a system
And she’s quietly slipping

Meanwhile…….

Image result for woman deported by us border patrolNelda’s mama is back
She has spent it all
Just to stay alive
And to make the trek

How to pick up pieces
When piece of your heart
Is across impenetrable border
Mi Vida, my life, in air, she says

And then HHS declares
Nelda is to be united
But tragedy has struck
Just before Nelda flies

Uncle gets hold of mama
Remember Nelda’s uncle? (see part 1 of her journey)
Mama is gang raped and killed
What is to become of Nelda?

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If you have any difficulty imagining how incredibly dangerous the situation is in Latin America and how perilous the journey it is that people undertake so that they may live or what may happen to kids separated from their parents, then this Nelda’s story though fiction is what I have compiled from reading many actual stories and other reports.
Here are links to
Nelda’s journey 1: Live, I may – http://bit.ly/2ymlWQt
Nelda’s journey 2: I want to die – http://bit.ly/2M1Czmi
Nelda’s journey 3: Conversation with Nelda & her mama – http://bit.ly/2KarjH1

 

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Nelda’s Journey 3: Conversation with Nelda and her mama


Q: But Nelda, your mama brought you to abuse our system
A: But my mama was trying to save my life

Related imageQ: Mama, more of you are bringing your kids here, so you can come in.
A: More of us are trying to save our kids when there is more violence or drug economy depleting our jobs and livelihood.

Q: We need zero tolerance to deter you from coming
A: When faced with a choice of running on the path or staying to die, people will always choose to walk on the path wherever it leads. To try to survive is a human instinct and has little to do with policies.

Q: You are coming in illegally.
A: No we are not. We came at the border and turned ourselves in and requested asylum.

Q: Why didn’t you go to port of entry.
A: My mama went 6 times to port of entry and they asked us to come another time. Time was running out on us.

Q: As a mother, I wouldn’t send my kids with coyotes thousands of miles away. Obviously your people don’t care right?
A: As a mother, if your only choice was to send your kid away, you would, any mother would; because a parent will want a child to survive above all else. And these are not my people. People are coming to US border from so many countries in Latin America with similar problems.

Image result for migrant workersQ: But you people come here and take our jobs!
A: I can’t lie to you and say I am not going to work hard so my children have a better life. Anyway I heard that often there is worker shortage here and there are backbreaking jobs that few people want to do.

Q: We can’t keep taking you in. We have to build a wall and keep you out.
A: That is up to you and your conscience. But when experiencing violence and certainty of death, rape, kidnappings, people will walk on the path that is ahead; to where-ever it leads. When your house is on fire, you jump to the net below and you don’t ask will those people rob me, kidnap my child.

Now, can I ask you some questions.

Q: So you want to keep us out but didn’t you come to the US as an immigrant in 1984?
A: Yes, I did — legally.

Image result for legal migrationQ: So why did you leave your country? Did you dream of a better life?
A: Yes, I went to school, got education and then I wanted more opportunities. My family wasn’t rich, I’ve worked hard to be where I am.

Q: And now you’re taking away jobs from others?
A: Yes, but I came here legally, so it’s a fair fight. I came on merit.

Q: So you already had a leg up with good education but you came to the land of opportunity because you wanted a better life? Our biggest fault was to be born in a wrong place.
A: ummm perhaps….

Q: Well….. Those of us coming from violence torn areas of Latin America don’t have a leg up with better education and we are not coming just for a better life. WE WANT A LIFE, before it is snatched away from us, we want to live. You don’t believe that if given a chance, we too may shine on our own merit?
A: We can’t give you a chance on that chance.

Q: I understand. But you are a keeper of world’s righteousness, human rights and all I am asking is please give us a chance to stay alive today and be together.
A: I am sorry mam, we have to enforce the laws.

Image result for refugee moms deported and kids left in USQ: Enforce the laws but please don’t enforce your ad hoc policy of using us as collateral.
A: Sorry mam.

Q: Please can you at least think about it?
A: We are just going to enforce the law.  We’re going to detain 9 year old Nelda and mom is being deported right away.

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Here is link to part 1 of nine year old Nelda’s journey – http://bit.ly/2ymlWQt
Here is link to part 2 of Neld’s journey – http://bit.ly/2M1Czmi

PS: It is understandable that no country can have completely open borders. Every country has first responsibility towards its own population. It is also common sense that increasingly we live in a global world and it is increasingly challenging to have impenetrable borders with walls. We need to enhance border security with effective, low cost but high tech 21st century tools. Appropriate strategy to enhance border security must also include 21st century tools with sensors, embedded technology and more so that in addition to enhancing border security, we’re prepared to manage the exodus in a humane way. Appropriate strategy must also include extremely sophisticated negotiations with use of carrots and sticks with neighboring countries to curb violence and drug cartels with enhanced use of high tech for inter country co-operation. To remove all compassion, resort to outdated and costly means of building walls, snatching kids away, adopting ruthlessness devoid of any humanity and not truly address the root causes of the problems are truly abominable and absolutely ineffective practices. These traumatized children can have lasting impact and society will be left to pick up the pieces from intense trauma created by ineffective practices.

Latin America has huge pockets of crime where gangs rule and they target women, children, security personnel, LGBTQ and other members more susceptible and weak. Police are often susceptible or suspect and people have little trust in law enforcement. Organized crime and related economies drive the surge and abatement in violence and form the root causes and concurrent abatement and surge of refugees at our borders and must be addressed.  People do not put children in the hands of smugglers just for fun or because our policies admit them. The path to US border is extremely perilous. The ONLY REASON people send their children and/ or bring them here is because they are literally trying to save themselves and their children from turning up dead or worse. IT WOULD ALSO BE IN OUR BEST INTEREST TO ADHERE TO HUMAN RIGHTS AND TO LECTURE THESE COUNTRIES (AND USE REWARDS & PENALTIES) TO DO THE SAME. Granted, these are far more long term solutions, but we are not even considering them while we are brutally separating families.

Please please please listen to the voices of the children in this recording
https://www.propublica.org/article/children-separated-from-parents-border-patrol-cbp-trump-immigration-policy

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Nelda’s Journey 2: I want to die


I walked and walked and walked
Mama and I just kept walking
In daze. hungry, thirsty, sweaty
An exodus of people we joined

Image result for refugees at US borderHeard of cartels in Mexico, Colombia
Of Panama, El Salvador and Guatemala
About mayhem, rapes, murders and killings
In Belize, Honduras, Ecuador, Nicaragua

Neither welcoming nor it beckoned
The path just lay, uncompromising
Across mountains in Guatemala
I held on to mama, I was scared

Stopped at shelters, rode a bus
Rode atop freight train, the beast
Ferry ride in Mexico
I held onto mama’s hand just b’coz…

Some died, disappeared, killed
Blackmailed and some girls raped
Mama and I were going to survive
I was going to live, I was determined

Yes for ferry, mama paid!!!!
She left me with aunt Reda
Mama let them abuse only her
Made a deal and I was spared

Image result for refugees separated from kids at US borderI love mama and I held her tight
And then we arrived at US border
Relieved, I was hungry. Mama said,
We’re safe, mi vida, we’ll be alright

Then it wasn’t alright, it happened
I was holding mama’s hand tight
But they pried it and took me away
For my mama, I shouted, I cried

And I just want to die

 

STAY TUNED FOR PART 3 OF NELDA’S JOURNEY in my next blog post. And here is link to part 1 where her journey began – http://bit.ly/2ymlWQt
PS: It is understandable that no country can have completely open borders. Every country has first responsibility towards its own population. It is also common sense that increasingly we live in a global world and it is increasingly challenging to have impenetrable borders with walls. Appropriate strategy to enhance border security must include 21st century tools with sensors, embedded technology and more. Appropriate strategy must also include extremely sophisticated negotiations with use of carrots and sticks with neighboring countries to curb violence and drug cartels with enhanced use of high tech for inter country co-operation. To remove all compassion, resort to outdated and costly means of building walls, snatching kids away, adopting ruthlessness devoid of any humanity and not truly address the root causes of the problems are truly abominable and absolutely ineffective practices. These traumatized children can have lasting impact and society will be left to pick up the pieces from intense trauma created by ineffective practices.

Latin America has huge pockets of crime where gangs rule and they target women, children, security personnel, LGBTQ and other members more susceptible and weak. Police are often susceptible or suspect and people have little trust in law enforcement. Organized crime and related economies drive the surge and abatement in violence and form the root causes and concurrent abatement and surge of refugees at our borders and must be addressed.  People do not put children in the hands of smugglers just for fun or because our policies admit them. The path to US border is extremely perilous. The ONLY REASON people send their children and/ or bring them here is because they are literally trying to save themselves and their children from turning up dead or worse.

Please please please listen to the voices of the children in this recording
https://www.propublica.org/article/children-separated-from-parents-border-patrol-cbp-trump-immigration-policy

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Nelda’s Journey 1: Live, I may


Image result for Mexican refugee mother and daughterI’m Nelda, I’m nine and I want to die
I follow my mother like a shadow
But at night, clocked in invisibility
Uncle, a gang member, comes and I lie

Sometimes it’s mama, I’m spared
Sometimes he locks her up and it’s me
I hear mama begging and crying
But it’s no point, we’re ensnared

I hate papi. He was a security guard
He got paid but his job wasn’t safe
He protected a government judge
One day gang put a gun to his head

Once uncle came with a friend
That night and all nights after!
Gangs control Venezuela
Mama and I. None of us spared

Image result for caravan of refugees from central americaOne day mama said, let’s walk
Her friend told her about a caravan
In silence we walked to join’em
Nothing to discuss, no talk

I’ll write my own poem some day
Two roads emerged and I took one
I wished to die, instead I walked
And just perhaps…. live, I may

STAY TUNED FOR PART 2 OF NELDA’S JOURNEY in my next blog post.
PS: It is understandable that no country can have completely open borders. Every country has first responsibility towards its own population. It is also common sense that increasingly we live in a global world and it is increasingly challenging to have impenetrable borders with walls. Appropriate strategy to enhance border security must include 21st century tools with sensors, embedded technology and more. Appropriate strategy must also include extremely sophisticated negotiations with use of carrots and sticks with neighboring countries to curb violence and drug cartels with enhanced use of high tech for inter country co-operation. To remove all compassion, resort to outdated and costly means of building walls, snatching kids away, adopting ruthlessness devoid of any humanity and not truly address the root causes of the problems are truly abominable and absolutely ineffective practices. These traumatized children can have lasting impact and society will be left to pick up the pieces from intense trauma created by ineffective practices.

Latin America has huge pockets of crime where gangs rule and they target women, children, security personnel, LGBTQ and other members more susceptible and weak. Police are often susceptible or suspect and people have little trust in law enforcement. Organized crime and related economies drive the surge and abatement in violence and form the root causes and concurrent abatement and surge of refugees at our borders and must be addressed.  People do not put children in the hands of smugglers just for fun or because our policies admit them. The path to US border is extremely perilous. The ONLY REASON people send their children and/ or bring them here is because they are literally trying to save themselves and their children from turning up dead or worse.
Please please please listen to the voices of the children in this recording
https://www.propublica.org/article/children-separated-from-parents-border-patrol-cbp-trump-immigration-policy

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Open Letter to My Liberal Comrades – Messages likely to resonate in red states


According to one study Democrats are more likely to be optimistic compared to Republicans https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/rampage/wp/2015/11/18/the-optimism-gap-democrats-vs-republicans/?utm_term=.994b99413a97 . It is not surprising that liberal polls indicate win for Democrats (at national level for Hillary Clinton, at state level for Jon Ossoff) but often result in electoral losses. I want to share below some issues that what we may want to focus on and the messaging likely to resonate with red state trump fans. But first, I will share my insight on Trump’s hold on his base and why it may be stronger than we may imagine it to be.

We have already known that it is one individual in Republican party who who has an unshakable base. Regardless of any scandals, stories and Congressional hearings, Donald Trump’s base of loyalists has been more or less stable. His stable base will continue to determine the outcome of the races in red districts and his hold enables Republican strategists to better predict it and better strategize where to target their resources. The reason for his strong hold on his loyalists is that many of them are not consuming much information from most of the media (which he has successfully labeled as fake media) and Trump’s tweets and speeches at his rallies provide them the information they know.  Trump speaks directly to his base through twitter. The likes and retweets of his tweets gives Republicans a pretty good insight into predicting the outcome of significant races and other issues. If Dems are not monitoring traffic around Mr. Trump’s tweets then they should begin to tightly monitor that.  If even Donald Trump goes down in approval ratings in polls, that still remains somewhat shaky predictor for various reasons. One, on account of a lot of hype against Mr. Trump, there are some people who still stick with him but are reluctant to publicly declare that. Then there are people who disapprove of Trump but they want Republican party to succeed and so reluctantly they stay put in the camp and when Trump tweets his support of other Rep candidates then they like and retweet these.  And then there are some who disapprove of Trump like a mother disapproving of her child and expecting the child to do better. I will reiterate, that for greater accuracy of electoral wins, Dems must strictly monitor the traffic around Trump’s tweets.

Democrats can’t win and may not be able to translate wins into effective government, unless we start talking to red states, to Trump’s base, to Republicans in general. We have heard a great deal that Dems just don’t have an appealing message. Some of this below information I am taking from my earlier blog titled “Open letter to Hillary Clinton Campaign” http://bit.ly/2bX40eU  Please click on that link for more detailed description of the two Americas and the messaging we need to begin to unite the two Americas.

Moving ahead, I will repeat that we need to stop focusing on Donald Trump and we need to stop obsessing that every time his approval rating goes down a point or two then we have achieved a significant victory. His base is largely unshakable and without meaningfully addressing their concerns, we can’t keep looking for lucky breaks in his lower disapproval ratings. That is a non strategy strategy. Trump created his base by appealing to their feelings and views based on feelings don’t change easily. Dems need to start talking with his base about things that matter with direct impact on their lives – job creation to put more money into their pocket, opioid addiction that is tearing down their communities, healthcare with simple and easy to understand messages with heart.

Messages that are unlikely to work.
* Here’s what Trump is doing and we are different
* Don’t support that candidate, he or she is too close to Trump
* Trump’s healthcare plan spells disaster

MESSAGES SUCH AS BELOW MAY RESONATE BETTER

Messages more likely to work should address issues crucial to them and their feelings. Only fact based messages are unlikely to work in red states. Messages must address people’s feelings of being neglected, rejected, stressed and speak to real danger of how lives and livelihood caught in a downward spiral are not sustainable.  Type of messages below should be delivered with real life stories. Oh… and seriously, DEMS NEED TO START FOCUSING IN BUILDING REAL, TACTICAL SOLUTIONS TO THESE ISSUES AND NOT JUST DELIVER RHETORIC FOR ELECTORAL WINS. 

Image result for chronic diseases* Obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease remain major killers in stressful modern world and particularly impact poorer families caught between making basic ends meet and having less access to healthy eating. We want to ensure that regardless of wealth or station in life, all Americans get access to care for management of these chronic diseases. It will help red states, blue states, and all Americans and will help lower healthcare costs for everyone, if we can allow ramp up time for more enrolees.

Image result for opioid epidemic* It is painful to see the impact of opioid addiction in our society; it is tearing apart communities and destroying families. It is intricately tied to the stresses of jobs, veteran’s health and impact on families, breakdown in family life and children growing up without the input of both parents. We want to address these in the healthcare changes we make. Instead of funding tax cuts for the wealthy with the health of the poor, we want to bring all sides to the table to understand imminent importance of addressing the growing opioid pandemic that threatens our society.

* Whites are productive members of our community who helped build this nation. We want to engage with you to achieve sustainable job growth.

Image result for sustainable prosperity for poor and wealthy* We are NOT a welfare party. We are a party of sensible economic policies because we cannot achieve sustainable prosperity by taking care of one group and neglecting the others’ needs. We want the wealthy to do well but we won’t stand for giving them tax cuts that are paid by poor’s health. To the extent that we may have ignored balancing everyone’s needs in the past, we are doubly committed to listening to everyone’s needs and bring everyone to the table.

Image result for dealing with terrorism* We see terrible devastation from bombs, gun and car attacks and we want to address safety using the tools of 21st century. We want to engage technology to monitor these. Instead of a physical wall, we can call this building virtual bridges where we can coordinate among our intelligence agencies and safety teams and coordinate with our allies to share information to enhance all our safety.

These are a few of the suggestions. Additionally, we, #Dems must stop excessive focus on Trump in our messages in red districts, although I concede everything about this administration is fascinating, when it is not infuriating or depressing.

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Legacy of Trump – racism & do I even want to understand?


You are wrong Michael Moore. Trump’s campaign was entirely run on racism. (No voters are not racist just like Ms. Elliot’s kids were not racist – see more on that below in paragraph 4). True that many of these same people who voted for Donald Trump had also voted for Barack Obama with the middle name Hussein.  However, Barack Hussein Obama did not simply run his campaign on the rhetoric of divisiveness; in fact, unification was a strong theme in his campaign.  Whereas Trump sought to divide.  He pitted groups against groups; #BlackLivesMatter against #BlueLivesMatter, Latinos against Whites with supremacist bents and so on. But then he went on to divide people from the group they belonged to, identified with, and took pride in. He sowed seeds of division within communities and families, where bi-racial families who had unity are now fighting based on people’s voting preference and invoking racism. Affluent and middle class blacks were pitted against blacks living in “imagined” ghetto communities.  Immigrants who find cultural similarity and likability with each other were pitted against each other based on legal versus illegal status. Whites were pitted against one another on gender lines. Even I read an articulate essay about a muslim woman who voted for Trump for a number of reasons but her emphasis seemed to be on his labeling of Islamic terrorists as opposed to Obama who had not labeled acts of terror as Islamic acts of terror.  Goldstar families who stand together no matter what, united by heart soaking grief of sacrifice that is linked to their love of the nation, felt divided and compelled to take sides, as Trump engaged in an ongoing war of words with the Khan family. Heck, I even know an undocumented immigrant who goes around badmouthing Hillary and talking up Trump (not quite sure why but I’m sure he wants to disassociate part of his identity that has been made to feel like “rapist and murderer”. (Honest to God this is a true story).

Image result for divisivenessPeople hate politicians, because ALL politicians create divisions. Political campaigns are run based on divisiveness not just in the US but in every democratic country.  Yes, #BarackObama, #RichardNixon #HillaryClinton #GoergeBush everyone did that and pretty much all politicians do that. That is how they differentiate themselves from their opponents and energize their base.  But normally, they are ALSO held accountable and are compelled to study issues and TIE THEIR RHETORIC WITH POLICY CONSIDERATIONS, and have to downplay their rhetoric of divisiveness. Understandably, people abhor this two-facedness of politicians. It was Donald Trump’s cunning to wage a war against “political correctness” because then he could speak without restraint and people just slurped up his rhetoric of racial hatered and bigotry, because they liked his honesty. He engaged in name calling of his opponents and the names stuck. Despite him not revealing his taxes, his ties with Russia, his concerns regarding health records, he called Hillary “crooked” and it stuck because labels stick without much effort; whereas going to Hillary’s website and understanding issues takes study and effort.

Trump’s supporters are NOT inherently racist people, certainly not a vast majority of them. Perhaps many of those who bought the birther lie and have stuck with him since, may be inherently racist. But many other Americans were invited to participate in the race based and other divisions. And everyone of us is racist at some times or another and depending on circumstances, we are likely to buy into it.  People are always looking to make meaning out of their circumstances, life’s twists and turns and calamities. People look for answers and explanation and Trump provided a powerful, emotion laden context. He tapped into the vulnerabilities of people and stuck the deepest chord based on his divisive rhetoric and coupled it with eliminating the need to share policy details, with simple slogans like “what have you got to lose”?. Yes, people are jobless and in pain, yes people are dying of opioid addiction more than ever before, and yes, we have crime in the US. But none of those issues alone could have driven people to vote for Trump in large numbers, because he gave no details to deal with any of the problems facing the country. What drove people was that he played to and invoked the hate towards others and he talked to them over and over, relentlessly. He fought his campaign alone, and like a Messiah his voice invoking the hate kept reverberating in people’s minds until they walked into the voting booth.

As a diversity and inclusion trainer, one of the most fascinating thing I learned very early in my professional life as a trainer was how easy it is to divide people based on groupism, even artificially introduced groupism.  In 1968, in a highly publicized exercise, a third grade teacher Jane Elliott tried to teach her class about race and discrimination through a two day “blue eyes/ brown eyes” exercise. (something that would not be allowed today).  Students with blue eyes were given preferential treatment on the first day; they received positive reinforcement, were made to feel superior, and this process was reversed the next day. The results were profound and when she repeated exercise in subsequent years, during one year, PBS went in and filmed the actual impact, in a well known documentary, “A Class Divided”. In just two days Elliot managed to sow deep seeds of hate based on completely artificially introduced divide. The group that was favored performed better in class, were quick to answer questions and the kids in the other group were hesitant and doubtful of their answers and performed poorly. What was also striking was that many of these kids who were friends for their entire young lives, started hating each other, were mean to the other group and the kids from discriminated group walked through the day with downcast eyes, feeling like s&^%*, feeling as if they had nothing more to lose. Ms. Elliot’s tearing down the divide and bringing the class together was just as impressive.

The lesson is that if seeds of hate and divide can be sown in a span of mere two days then consider how deep the hate is that was sown over a year ago and nurtured through Trump’s divisive campaign? And we don’t have Ms. Elliott to bring the country together. The only lesson is that if race based divisiveness gets to rear its ugly head and seems like a mild threat, it must still be quoshed immediately. It is hard to push this beanie down when massive groups of people are called to buy into it, as we know from history. Bernie could not have contained this monster. What is fueled by hate cannot be contained by logic and no policy discussions or understanding coal miners or ads focusing on jobs could have contained divisiveness fueled by hate and emotion.

So Mr. Moore you are wrong to say that it was not racism and hate that more significantly than any other characteristic or consideration played a role in outcome of #Election2016.  It is also hate and racism that people are rallying against in post election protests. It is not the win of the Republican party, the undoing of progressive agenda that may happen, nor the anger against hard to accept Electoral College imposition in an era where each citizen has access to information and must have equal weightage; instead it is against Donald Trump’s rhetoric of hate and division that brought the country to this stage, his basket of deplorable behaviors that now becomes our baggage for next several years, that is fueling the frustration.

Image result for safety pinAnd it is deep frustration. Part of me feels, now what do I care? I should just sit back and relax and enjoy the lower taxes; it’s not my problem any more. And part of me feels like I should walk about wearing those ridiculous safety pins. But for who am I an ally? For that Latino who is undocumented and went around talking up Trump and badmouthing Hillary; or that Hindu who voted for Trump because she hates Pakistan (strange where people connect the dots when hate enters the picture); or that Muslim who voted for Trump and may be attacked by a white supremacist; or for that white man who mostly enjoys many of society’s privileges (without knowing or intending to take an unfair advantage) and on this night is attacked simply for being gay? Why does it now fall on me? Is my safety pin even strong enough to withstand the power of chainsaw that literally cut our ties with each other and broke the humanity that bound us? Perhaps we felt anger towards one group or another at different times in the past, but we did not voice it; we thought before we spoke, and our political correctness allowed us to have polite discussions to understand one another. How do we understand one another now, and do I even want to understand what hate towards whom compelled you to vote for Trump?

In our dark moments, let us remember that more than 50% of voters did not vote for Trump. Remember that all #TrumpVoters are NOT inherently racist people; that Trump may also not be as racist as he is an opportunist. (In my language there’s a saying “a wise enemy is better than a foolish or evil friend” and he is narcissistic evil opportunist but too late for that wisdom now).. He played the most insidious racist/sexist campaign to his advantage, but his policies may not reflect that; he will likely look for personal gains and we must watch closely. #TrumpVoters with inclusive bent joined by #RegretVotingTrump and #RegretNotVoting groups have awakened and want to fight racism and be there for each other; are trying to don safety pins, take the anti-racism message to the streets, and trying to keep the voice of humanity alive. Please get on twitter, a low cost medium to spread awareness AND only tweet true & fact checked news. Retweet important news from @RealDonaldTrump so we’re never taken unawares; so we create a vast network focused on keeping issues and inclusion in forefront so that history will never be repeated.  I love this beautiful, diverse and welcoming country where (paraphrasing Churchill) we always strove for goodness, sometimes only after and perhaps because we exhausted the alternatives. But even so, after veering away, we know how to find our way back to goodness.

 

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