One Year Trump Anniversary: Protest Marches Nationwide!

 

Saturday, January 20, 2018 saw a repeat of the largest protest marches ever — the day after Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States.   The first Women’s March on January 20, 2017 brought out millions of people in this country and across the world  This year, demonstrators gathered in cities across the United States to protest a year of chaos in the White House and Trump policies that reversed Health Care, Immigration, Education, Climate Control, Environmental Protection  and other policies and programs developed during the eight years of the Obama administration.

In Los Angeles, 600,000 people took part , with many chanting, “Si, se puede!”  “Yes, we can!” They were responding to one of the most contentious issues of the day,  Trump’s repeal of the DACA program for young Hispanic immigrants brought here by their parents as children.  Obama had issued DACA after Congress refused to recognize their years of school, work ,paying taxes and service in our armed forces as reasons for them to have security in the United States. DACA , Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, has become a major issue with Donald Trump who has taken different positions the past months.  Democrats and Republicans in Congress  split on a plan to deal with DACA, leading to the government shut down which also took place early Saturday, January 20.

In New York, there were 200,000 marchers filling the streets and Central Park .  They carried  signs relating to the  Me Too movement , resulting from the explosion of revelations about powerful men abusing women.  “ Grab Em By The Midterms!”  reminded watchers of the victories women had scored in recent elections in Virginia and New Jersey.   Women wore the pink pussy cat hats they had knit the year before.   Chicago demonstrators reached 300,000; Philadelphia, D.C. Austin and other cities all participated.  People taking to the streets has become a signature of reactions to different policies enacted by Trump signing executive orders that were unpopular with the American people.  His approval rating is the lowest of any president in modern history, hovering in the low to middle 30’s.  He sends his daily tweets to his“base” in what he calls the new presidential method of communication.  Trump constantly attacks the regular press of newspapers and cable TV, the “enemy of the people”  sending out “fake news” .

On Saturday afternoon,  Trump tweeted an ironic message, “Beautiful weather all over our great  country, a perfect day for all Women to March.  Get out there now to celebrate the historic milestones and unprecedented economic success and wealth creation that has taken place over the last 12 months. Lowest female unemployment in 18 years.!”   His tweet was in keeping with his taking credit for the Stock Market rise and other positive economic indicators that have continued the recovery that Barack Obama oversaw when he brought the United States back from the serious recession he inherited.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the unemployment rate for women aged 20 and older had been falling since 2012, four years before Trump took office.

The Protest Marches are the culmination of the Resistance Movement that has built during the past year.  Here are some of the groups, activities, state and court decisions that have restrained  and resisted the Trump agenda of programs and policies.

Indivisibles: During the months the Republicans in Congress tried to Repeal and Replace Obamacare , The Affordable Care Act,  citizens around the country organized their resistance by attending town meetings and going to the offices locally of their representatives and senators.  The Indivisibles waved ACA signs at the town meetings and told impassioned personal stories of the ACA saving family members lives.  They also came to the  D.C. offices and lobbied  there. All four versions failed to pass in the senate. Obamacare was saved.

Sanctuary Cities:  Los Angeles,  Chicago, New York , and other cities organized to protect DACA  young immigrants from being deported by federal agents.   They were ready to lose federal support by raising funds from other sources.

Federal Judges rejected Trump’s three successive Travel Bans against people from Muslim countries.  Although the verdicts differed, certain judges at the District and Appellate court levels cited Trump’s anti-Muslim statements during the campaign as discriminatory and directly relevant to the travel bans.

California and other states made climate change policy  after Trump withdrew from the Paris Climate Change Pact.  (The only country in the world to do so!) The alliance includes Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Minnesota, North Carolina, New York,  Georgia, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington , plus Puerto Rico. All but two states are led by Democratic governors. The 14 governors have agreed to hold the agreement.  California has been a leader in controlling pollution from cars for years.

A.F.L. –C.I.O. Chief Richard Trumpka  said on January 23 that  the president has used his power to actively hurt union people.   He also expects the Unions would participate aggressively in the Midterm elections backing candidates who supported the Union’s agenda.

Resistance of young Americans: In late April,  a Gallup poll found that the percentage of respondents ages 18-34 who believed Trump keeps his promises fell 22 points from early February to early April,  from 56 percent to 34 percent.  Pew Research Center in April gave Trump his highest disapproval rating of any group, 63 percent by 18 to 29 ages.

Trump’s Offshore plans for drilling for oil have met stiff resistance after he granted Florida an exemption. (January, 2018)  15 governors,  one third Republicans, have opposed the drilling plan.

Congress in September rejected Trump’s 22  percent budget cut in the N.I. H.  National Institutes of Health .  The president’s proposal “would have crippled American innovation in research, delayed new cures and treatments”, said Senator Durbin of Illinois, the number 2 Democrat.

Resistance School – Time magazine reported in early April that “the school was organized by ‘a group of Harvard graduate students ‘ and ‘offers lessons on mobilizing activists and sustaining long term resistance.’” Time wrote “for more than 15,000 students across the country, Wednesday marked the first day of Resistance School – a program where the educational focus is mobilizing against President Donald Trump’s administration.”

………………………………………………………………………………Joyce S. Anderson

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Confessions of a Grand Juror!

 

 

Prologue:  Stephen Bannon, former chief strategist for President Donald Trump, has been subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury.  He had stonewalled the House Judiciary Committee for over nine hours on January 16.  It is not expected that he will be able to do that before the grand jury. It is a part of Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign and presidency.

 This column was written after I served on a grand jury some years ago. It appeared in The Press of Atlantic City. I learned a great deal about this part of our justice system. We shall see what happens when Stephen Bannon appears, whether he testifies and what the outcome will be for him. 

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             A summons for jury duty runs neck and neck with the reminder for your annual dental examination as the most unwanted item in the daily mail. As I read the crisp language and scanned the dates I would be required to appear, the calendar of planned events in my life crumbled. All else would have to be rearranged.

On the following Thursday at 8:30 a.m., I appeared along with about one hundred other chosen citizens to learn my fate. The session did not start on time. Not an auspicious beginning in contrast to the formal aura of the summons. We waited until several people arrived at the front of the room, bustled about arranging papers and microphones, and finally said “Good morning” to us.

The judge who entered was tall, imposing, clothed in black robes and serious. As he explained the process we would follow, I was impressed by his manner and the substance of his presentation. I started a learning experience that would continue through the eight weeks of grand jury service. I would learn about the law. I would learn about the other jurors, 23 to each panel. I would learn about the assistant prosecutors who presented each case. I would learn about crimes that range from forgery to aggravated assault, and the differences between theft and robbery, and robbery and burglary. In short, I would learn that serving on a grand jury might be an irritating disruption of one’s normal schedule, but it could also stretch one’s mind, experience and point of view about the courts and the law.

The names for each panel were drawn and I found myself a member of panel B, to meet on eight successive Wednesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  There was a chance to talk with the judge if a prospective juror had a reason or conflict to prevent serving. I shared with him that I was the chief prosecutor’s 8th grade teacher, but I had no problem with this as an influence pro or con. He agreed. I did not share with him the lingering memory I held of a 13-year-old boy who could not concentrate on his work and spent most of the time looking out the window. I had followed the prosecutor’s work and he had matured into a hard-driving aggressive official. In the weeks ahead, we did not meet the chief prosecutor. A steady line of assistant prosecutors, most of whom were women in their early 30’s, presented the facts of each case we heard.

The state of New Jersey requires that a criminal case must be heard by a grand jury first. Then the jury decides whether to bring an indictment (true bill), not to bring an indictment (no bill) , or remand for municipal court action. The vote is a majority vote. Twelve or more must agree. As the cases unfold, we learn that real life is not “Perry Mason”. And the grand jury is not a petit or regular jury. Our job is not to decide guilt or innocence beyond a reasonable doubt. Our job, based on the facts presented by the assistant prosecutor and witnesses, is to decide if there is prima facie evidence  –sufficient evidence to bring an indictment. Only the state’s case is presented. The grand jury does not hear from the defendants.

One of the most salient events is the transformation of 23 strangers on that first morning into a cohesive group by the second or third meeting. Leaders have emerged beyond the foreperson and assistant foreperson assigned by the judge. Certain jurors ask questions. Others appear to be bored. Several develop buddies with whom they banter during breaks. Seating patterns emerge. Many chew gum, unfortunately, cracking and popping at moments of serious deliberation. The smokers band together outside the building in self-imposed purgatory during breaks.  All jurors wear name tags, first names only, as well as an official number of the 23. When the votes are taken, the motion is made and recorded by number. We get to know and think of each other by number as much as by name.

About four weeks into our service, some of us are beginning to enjoy the sessions. We have learned the basics of the different criminal statutes. We know the difference between simple and aggravated assault. And the sub-categories that include “serious bodily injury, with a deadly weapon, and status of the victim.” We are becoming knowledgeable and I am reminded that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

But the assistant prosecutors are very good at their jobs. Fairly young, intense, well-organized and female, they are a new generation of lawyers reaping the rewards of the women who pioneered in the profession before them. They define the charges precisely and read us the relevant law when questions arise. They give us what we need to make decisions.

The witnesses, in most cases, are police officers and detectives. We are impressed with the variety of men and women who hold these jobs. They are a cross-section of age, ethnic groups and appearance. Some are undercover narcotic agents, dressed for the role and reminiscent of TV cop shows. Others in suits and ties could pass for bankers or insurance brokers. Any stereotype of what a police officer or detective should look like is permanently erased from our minds. These are real people and their jobs can be dangerous and unpleasant.

Certain of the cases we hear are shocking. Stalking. Conspiracy to terrorize. Child abuse. Sexual assault. In graphic detail. There is no joking during the breaks on those days. Several jury members leave the room and abstain from cases they find too hard to handle. Those of us who stay will have a hard time forgetting what we have heard.

The number of drug related cases is legion. We learn not only about heroin, marijuana and cocaine, but also about the use of pagers by the sellers for instant business. And enhanced penalties for distribution within 1,000 feet of a school. The work of the undercover agents  appears endless and our consciousness of the drug epidemic in our society is heightened.

During one of the breaks, a juror remarks, “With everything we’ve heard, we’re learning how to be criminals.” His comment probably was meant as a joke. However, for most of us who served on panel B of the grand jury, this has been a serious introduction to crime and the workings of our law enforcement and justice systems. The “cop shows” on television seem pale in comparison  with what we have witnessed and learned about the real world.

…………………………………………………………………………..Joyce S. Anderson

 

 

 

Notes From The Blizzard of 2018!

 

Prologue:  Our statue of Alice in Wonderland on the deck was knee deep in snow.  Her head was covered with a tall pointed snow hat and the roses she held behind her back were not visible. She was looking out at the bird feeders where, even in 12 degree weather, ten birds of different colors and sizes were busy pecking away at the suet pack and the seeds falling from the glass cylindrical container into a trough on the rim.  They would peck and quickly fly away to the bushes and trees, then return to peck again. A few would establish their position and stay, especially those on the wire container that held the suet pack.  They would hang from the container and peck into the cake for up to five minutes at a time.

We have always loved the statue which we found in New York City at a store that sold art objects.  She is life size and a favorite since we used her story of meeting the Cheshire Cat in the forest in our management consulting programs.  The cat looked down at Alice and asked why she was crying and she said, “I’m lost and I don’t know  where I’m going. “ Then, the cat smiled his slow, famous smile and responded, “ If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”  My husband and I would use this story as an intro to  “Management by Objectives”:  The  importance of developing objectives and goals first when embarking on a new program or project.

Important Words of the year 2017:  At the end of each year, different professional dictionaries choose their own “word of the year”.  Here are some of the choices for the 2017 year. Cambridge Dictionary chose “populism”; Merriam- Webster: “feminism,”  and Dictionary .com: “complicit”. Webster explained the definition of “feminism” as “the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes”.  Based on the wave of explosive  2017 news stories of sexual harassment and assault by men against women , the word no longer seems to fit as  a “theory”.

2017 also saw the introduction of new words and phrases into the language , particularly in the political world.   When Donald J. Trump ran for president, he made popular the label, “fake news”  when he felt the media had distorted the truth about his actions and words.  He dubbed the free press “the enemy of the people” and castigated “The Failing New York Times” when angered by their coverage. Trump created derogatory pet names for  his opponents during the nomination contest, “Lyin Ted Cruz” and “Little Marco”, followed by “Crooked Hillary, the Democratic nominee for President throughout the race.  Trump continued to use the terms in his daily tweets throughout the year. Kelly Anne Conway, his spokeswoman, coined the term, “alternative facts” when the size of his inauguration crowds became an issue.  That term was then used by Sean Spicer, his press secretary, despite ridicule by reporters and language experts.  “Hoax”  has also been employed by the president to deny Climate Change as a Chinese inspired tale to deny the conclusions of 98 percent of the world’s scientists.  “Witch Hunt” is a current favorite label for the Investigation by the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller III into  possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians during the 2016 campaign.

“Make America Great Again”  is the Trump label.      Describing the ideology of the Trump presidency has been difficult to pin down. Some have called it “nationalism’ with the emphasis on putting America first.   The impact of the use of words by Donald Trump in his daily tweets or his interviews, since he has only given one traditional press conference , is the repetition of his words.  It is one of his most salient characteristics.  When he wants to introduce or emphasize a charge or a new idea, he will say it many times.  For example, when he accused Barack Obama of creating the terrorist group, ISIS.  He was at a rally with thousands of people and kept repeating it for emphasis while the crowd cheered.

Epilogue:  From The New Yorker Magazine, (Re: Alice in Wonderland) “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean, “ Humpty Dumpty says to Alice.  How can you make a word mean so many different things, Alice asks? “The question, Humpty Dumpty replies,, “is which is to be master, that’s all.”  George Orwell said the same thing: “ Meaning at bottom is about power”. “Truth”, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. once said is, “the majority vote of that nation that could lick all others.” A disagreeable thought but not an inappropriate one in 2017.

Later on, of course Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. Something to look forward to in 2018. Happy New Year.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………….Joyce S. Anderson

 

Obamacare is Neither “Repealed” Nor “Imploded” !

 

Prologue:  President Trump celebrated passage of the tax bill by announcing at his cabinet meeting , “When the individual mandate is repealed, that means Obamacare is being repealed.”  The tax bill does repeal the mandate in 2019, ending fines for people who do not have health insurance.  However, every other vital part of the current health care law will remain intact.

Main Facts of Obamacare:  Under the Affordable Care Act, businesses with 50 or more employees must offer health insurance to full-time employees.  Medicaid eligibility was expanded to cover more low-income people.  Young adults under 26, could remain on their parents’ plan.  The law listed certain essential elements:  Prohibited insurance companies from denying coverage or charging higher premiums to people with pre-existing conditions.  Barred increasing costs for older Americans.  Required insurers to provide specified benefits like maternity care and drug addiction treatment. The Medicaid expansion was responsible for insuring more than half of the twenty million Americans who gained health care coverage under Obamacare.

The law created federal and state exchanges for purchasing insurance and gave tax  credits for premiums  purchased on these exchanges.   During the recent enrollment  period  from November 1 to December 15, 8.8 million people signed up for Obamacare through the federal exchange even though the Trump administration had cut the sign-up days in half to lower enrollment. The Trump administration also cut the budget for advertising and reduced grants to navigators  who helped people sign up for coverage.  The 8. 8 million figure was 96% of the 9.2 million people  who selected health plans or were automatically re-enrolled during the last sign-up period.  Joshua Peck, who was the chief marketing officer for HealthCare.gov in the Obama administration said,  “It’s a very, very strong number. It implies that the final week of open enrollment was very big.”

The states with the largest number of sign-ups on the federal exchange  this year were North Carolina (524,000), Georgia (483,000), Virginia (403,000), Pennsylvania (397,000),Illinois (340,000), Texas, (1.1 million), and Florida (1.7 million).  In Florida, more than 700,000 people enrolled or were automatically enrolled in the final week. In Texas, the number was over 550,000. Joshua Peck was correct about the significance of the final week.  The federal numbers do not include the eleven states that operate their own insurance exchanges. They are reporting strong enrollments  with some states extending the time period: January 31 for California and New York;  January 15 in Washington State and January 14 in Minnesota.  

Public support and enthusiasm for Obamacare had been evident during the months of public protest when the Republicans in Congress attempted to pass a Repeal and Replace Health Care bill.   Public outrage at their representatives and senators during  the recess  made clear that Obamacare was very popular with voters.  Hundreds of men and women shouted and waved A.C.A. signs during town meetings. They also told dramatic personal stories of lives saved by Obamacare. The result was that four versions of the Senate bill failed.  Now, it was clear that including repeal of the individual mandate in the tax bill did not deter additional millions of Americans from signing up during the enrollment period.

Epilogue:  Timothy Jost, an emeritus professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law said, “The Affordable Care Act is far more than a mandate, and the repeal of the mandate is by no means a fatal blow. Most of the A.C.A. survives and its coverage will remain.”

…………………………………………………………………………..Joyce S. Anderson