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How Did Orrin Hatch Become the Savior of the Democratic Party?

Just to paint a picture of how dismal the political landscape appears to Liberal Democrats, there are no good options after Trump is impeached. And make no mistake about it, Liberal Democrats want Trump impeached in the worse way. They will literally take anyone right now besides Trump and his family.

That means anyone. It means the vacuous and complicit Mike Pence. It means the shallow and flimsy Paul Ryan. It means the corrupt Rex Tillerson. It means the Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin. Democrats will take any of these characters, just as long as it means Trump is dethroned from his perch.

After Mnuchin, the line of succession gets even more bizarre and incompetent by liberal definitions. “Mad dog” James Mattis as Commander in Chief? Jeff Sessions as President of the Confederate States?

The bottom of the list is even worse: Wilbur Ross at Commerce, Alexander Acosta of Labor, Tom Price, and Ben Carson. This is how bad it looks right now if you are a Democrat seeking impeachment.

And the line of succession goes lower. It goes all the way down to Rick Perry and Besty DeVos.

Ironically, the last possible rank in the line of succession is held by the one man who could probably do the job: that’s the Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly. (Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao isn’t eligible since she was born in Taipei, Taiwan, and is therefore not a US-born citizen.)

Practically speaking, if the Democrats do choose to remain within the confines of the Constitution, their best hope is not way at the bottom with the likes of Rick Perry and John Kelly; it is way up at the top at number four with Senate President Pro Tempore Orrin Hatch. Again, this is a sign of how bad the landscape is for Democrats seeking impeachment; but it is a legitimate way out of the Trump nightmare that has, at the very least, a coherent strategy.

Orrin Hatch has been in office since 1977. Hatch is the most senior Republican Senator, and the second most senior Senator overall, after Patrick Leahy of Vermont. He has served in government for 40 years, which makes him the longest serving Republican Senator in U.S. history. From 1993 to 2005, he served as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, as chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and on the Board for the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Could it be that the salvation of the Democratic Party is not Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, or Corey Booker, but the Senior Republican Senator from Utah Mr. Orrin Grant Hatch?

Of course, if this were to happen, then Pence and Ryan would need to be criminally enfolded in the Trump Russian conspiracy.

Apartheid and the Courageous Legacy of Max du Preez and Jacques Pauw

There is journalism that seeks the truth above all other interests. The work of Max du Preez and Jacques Pauw is this kind of journalism. These two intrepid reporters from South Africa, had the courage to start the only openly anti-Apartheid newspaper during the height of white supremacist power in that country.

From 1988 to 1994, in their paper called Vyre Weekblad, they systematically exposed, as they put it, “a bloodcurdling tale that spanned three countries and included murder, arson, bombing, kidnapping, torture, assault, house breaking and car theft.”

Their greatest coup as journalists came when they convinced a former policeman and death squad commander to tell his story in public. After getting every grotesque detail published on record, they were able to arrange for the African National Congress (ANC) to harbor the ex-torturer from his former bosses.

The abuses that Captain Dick Coetzee participated in while helping to lead the hidden Section C-1 operation, are both unforgettable and unspeakable. This was the most secretive and elite unit in the South African Police. In the words of du Preez, “When C-1 designed a unit emblem, they chose the honey badger, an animal legendary for its tenacity and ferocity….Killing, bombing, kidnapping and torture were C-1’s business.”

To provide the clearest picture of just how depraved this “elite” unit really was, in June 1998, du Preez and Pauw helped produce extensive evidence of the apartheid government’s chemical and biological warfare program. “It was led,” they reported, “by Dr. Wouter Basson, who worked in the police force when General Lothar Neethling was assistant commissioner. It was much worse and much more extensive than Vyre Weekblad had reported: Basson had spent millions on concocting substances to paralyze people, make them talk, kill them without a trace of the cause. He devised rings with a hollow chamber to store the poison in an umbrella with retractable, poisoned tips.”

When all of this psychotic criminality was said and done, thousands were mutilated and killed. Most of the black activists who rose up in defiance of the government were brutally silenced. We know what happened to Nelson Mandela. They put a hanging monkey fetus on the property of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was that noble experiment in criminal justice which was established to investigate, examine, document, and sometimes punish these crimes against humanity, all the while maintaining a fierce commitment to confession, redemption, and national unity. Because of Max du Preez and Jacques Pauw, the TRC had proof that these allegations and testimonies were based on hardcore fact. It was true. Apartheid was that evil.

What was the price of telling the truth? In john Pilger’s outstanding book, Tell Me No Lies: Investigative Journalism That Changed the World, the holder of the Frank H. T. Rhodes Professorship at Cornell presents the sacrifice as vividly as possible. He does so by allowing the journalists to speak for themselves. As du Preez recounted, “The offices of Vyre Weekblad were bombed, right wing fanatics threatened us at gun point and we received death threats on a daily basis. A flood of criminal and civil prosecutions was released on us.”

The paper was ultimately disbanded in 1994, after it could no longer keep pace with the mounting defamation lawsuits waged against it. Numerous death threats and close attempts against their lives also took an immense toll.

Heroically, before the paper went under, it succeeded in taking some of the worst characters in the history of apartheid down with it. Eugene de Kock, the death squads commander was sentenced to 212 years imprisonment. He is the most senior member of the regime to be punished for his unspeakable actions during that reign of terror.

With all of that being said, a question emerges in my mind. What makes the apartheid regime of South Africa so different from an America which is divided by racial and economic lines through the white supremacist power structure of the presidency?

We know that white supremacist imagery was a common sight at Trump rallies. Pepe the Frog, a cartoon character appropriated by the white supremacist movement on social media, appeared on dozens of T-shirts and signs. The “Make America Great Again” motto was seen by many as an overt call back to the nation’s simpler, whiter, past. Trump fanned these fires and capitalized on these racist insinuations as often and as unnervingly as he could.  Trump’s appointment of white supremacist Steve Bannon, and his anti-Muslim travel bans, border wall, and denigration of Black Lives Matter, only confirmed what billions of people from all over the world already suspected. Trump is, at his core, a simple minded racist who believes color is irrelevant yet chooses to surround himself mainly around white people with money.

As I said, we are not there yet. We are not South Africa during apartheid. The Trump Administration is not the militarized government of P. W Botha. Nor is the Russian collusion story analogous to the unmasking of death squads hired and trained by the National Party. Yet if we are not determined to stand up for real journalism, genuine freedom, and the enshrinement of human rights, there is nothing preventing Trump’s entire administration from slipping into the criminal, blatantly racist, murderous ideology of a modernized form of apartheid. All of the parts are there. All it takes is for the press to continue to let down their guard-and for the citizenry to stop resisting policies that aim to divide people by race, gender, class, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation, ability, and age.

Max du Preez wrote tellingly, “if the mainstream media had reflected and followed up these death squad confessions and revelations,  the government would have been forced to stop the torture, the assassinations. It would have saved many, many lives.”

Moreover, to du Preez’s everlasting credit, he would never let whites in his national audience escape the sense of their own complicity; he pointedly referred to them as ‘you’.

I ask: who is the ‘you’ in America today? Who voted for Trump? Who made Trump possible? Who continues to give him legitimacy? Who is responsible for the crimes which may have already been committed by his administration?

I say, it is the United States people. More specifically, it is those who voted for Trump; they are ultimately guilty of collusion with Russia; they are the ones who are responsible for whatever comes next; they are the ones who must be held accountable for their complicity.

IN THE TORTURER’S CHAMBER

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Photograph by George Cassidy Payne

Rebirth

Always emerging

from extinction

our bonobo blood 

will soon respire 

into a billion years of

clouds and dew.

Doomed yet profitable.

Staked in. 
Our cells listen
for the soundtrack of rebirth.
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George Cassidy Payne
George Cassidy Payne
Rochester, NY

The Barry House: Victorian Italian Villa At Its Finest

Photography by George Cassidy Payne

 

Designed by Gervase Wheeler, a prominent 19th-century English architect, the rose brick and limestone mansion is considered one of the best examples of the Victorian Italian villa style in the country, according to Cynthia Howk, architectural research coordinator at the Landmark Society of Western New York. It was designated a city landmark in 1970 and is part of the Mt. Hope/Highland Ave. Historic District that is listed at the federal, state, and local levels. The 16-room mansion boasts eight carved marble fireplaces, 11-foot faux grained doors, original gas chandeliers now wired for electricity, and numerous collections of portraits, furniture, silver, dishes, glassware, and linens from the Barry family. On the grounds, scores of rare specimen trees are a living legacy of the Ellwanger and Barry Nursery.

http://www.rochester.edu/currents/V36/V36N11/barry_house/
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The house was given to the University of Rochester in 1963 by the heirs of Patrick Barry’s daughter, Harriet Barry Liesching, who had lived there until her death in 1951. A careful restoration was carried out from 1964-65 under the direction of Elizabeth Holahan of the [WWW]Society for the Preservation of Landmarks in Western New York. According to Holahan in a 1981 UR press release, the Barry House is the nation’s “outstanding” example of the Italian style of the Victorian period. The one comparable residence, located in Bridgeport, Connecticut, was razed in the 1970s despite protests from preservationist groups. In 1969 the Barry House parlor and library were featured in in Nancy Comstock’s 100 Most Beautiful Rooms in America.

https://rocwiki.org/Patrick_Barry_House

 

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The development of the nursery industry in Rochester presents a fine picture of the transition of culture from the Old to the New World. Not only were the horticultural beginnings transplanted during the previous century in New York and the East moving slowly westward, but several of Rochester’s nurserymen came more or less directly from the Old World, equipped with the theories and techniques of its more advanced centers. Houghton, Kedie, and Bateham, and later Joseph Harris and James Vick, all from England, Patrick Barry from Ireland,  and notably George Ellwanger from Germany,  brought a valuable contribution to Rochester, and their eager readiness to send abroad for new seeds and plants as well as fresh ideas was no small factor in the rapid rise of the western town to horticultural leadership.

The Flower City: George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry

 

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Expansion was one of the secrets of their success, for, by adding new acres every year or so, they were able to develop mature and model orchards on older nursery grounds. The plan enabled them to obtain an accurate knowledge concerning their fruit, a reliable stock from which to take their cuttings, and a means for demonstrating their fruit to visiting customers. With this latter point in mind they announced in successive catalogues that since their location was “nearly opposite the celebrated Mount Hope Cemetery, both places can be visited at the same time … An omnibus runs from the center of the city … every hour carrying passengers each way for one shilling.

The Flower City: George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry

 

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The Nursery Office: An A.J. Davis Gothic Revival Masterpiece

Photography by George Cassidy Payne

 

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Alexander Jackson Davis, or A. J. Davis, was one of the most successful and influential American architects of his generation, known particularly for his association with the Gothic Revival style.

 

 

 

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By 1850, the population of Rochester had reached 36,000, making it the 21st largest city in the United States. Westward expansion had moved the focus of farming to the Great Plains and Rochester’s importance as the center for flour milling had declined. Several seed companies in Rochester had grown to become the largest in the world, with Ellwanger & Barry Nursery Co. the largest. Rochester’s nickname was changed from the Flour City to the Flower City.

 

 

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Plant the love of the holy ones within your spirit; don’t give your heart to anything, but the love of those whose hearts are glad. Rumi

 

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Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. Robert Louis Stevenson

 

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George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry were owners of one of the largest nurseries in Rochester. Ellwanger began the business in with Thomas Rogers in 1839 but by 1840 he had bought Rogers out and partnered with Barry who was more knowlegeable than Rogers. Their first site, the Mount Hope Garden and Nurseries, grew to 43 acres by 1843 and was the basis of an extremely profitable wholesale business. By 1860 Ellwanger and Barry would control over 500 acres in the area. They grew a wide variety of plants, including fruit trees. They earned an impressive seven awards at the 1849 NY State Fair in Syracuse. Ellwanger frequently traveled to Europe, bringing back seeds and cuttings to cultivate here.

https://rocwiki.org/Ellwanger_and_Barry

 

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If we don’t plant the right things, we will reap the wrong things. It goes without saying. And you don’t have to be, you know, a brilliant biochemist and you don’t have to have an IQ of 150. Just common sense tells you to be kind, ninny, fool. Be kind. Maya Angelou

 

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The success of the Rochester nursery trade, as exemplified by the Mt. Hope Nursery, earned Rochester the title “The Flower City.” The Lilac Festival maintains the heritage of that name, and Ellwanger Garden gives you the chance to experience the inspiration of that heritage.

 

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Gothic Revival (also referred to as Victorian Gothic, Neo-Gothic or Jigsaw Gothic, and when used for school, college, and university buildings as Collegiate Gothic) is an architectural movement that began in the late 1740s in England.

 

 

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The Gothic Revival was to remain one of the most potent and long-lived of the 19th-century revival styles. Although it began to lose force after the third quarter of the 19th century, buildings such as churches and institutions of higher learning were constructed in the Gothic style in England and in the United States until well into the 20th century. Only when new materials and concern for functionalism began to take hold did the Gothic Revival disappear.

https://www.britannica.com/art/Gothic-Revival

 

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Trump’s Riyadh Speech Was Morally Disingenuous

While in Riyadh, President Trump delivered a speech in front of Arab and Muslim leaders at the Arab Islamic American Summit, urging the Muslim world to take a stand against global terrorism and share the burden of eradicating extremism in the region.
 
“I stand before you as a representative of the American people to deliver a message of friendship and hope and love. That is why I chose to make my first foreign visit a trip to the heart of the Muslim world, to the nation that serves as custodian of the two holiest sites in the Islamic faith. In my inaugural address to the American people, I pledged to strengthen America’s oldest friendships and to build new partnerships in pursuit of peace. I also promised that America will not seek to impose our way of life on others, but to outstretch our hands in the spirit of cooperation and trust.”
 
The president added: “Terrorism has spread all across the world, but the path to peace begins right here on this ancient soil in this sacred land. America is prepared to stand with you in pursuit of shared interests and common security, but the nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them. The nations of the Middle East will have to decide what kind of future they want for themselves, for their country, and frankly for their families, for their children. It’s a choice between two futures, and it is a choice America cannot make for you.”
 
Inevitably the mainstream American news establishment will praise Trump for sounding presidential. Likewise, his base will give him high marks for holding the Muslim world accountable for naming who they perceive to be the main culprit for global terrorism.
 
Sadly, this praise is unmerited in light of the United States’ own culpability in spreading terrorism.
 
From Afghanistan to Iraq to Yemen, the US funds, arms and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the Middle East region. For decades, the US has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror.
 
For starters, there is the American-led coalition invasion and occupation of Afghanistan (2001-2014), which sparked the Taliban Insurgency and commenced an intractable war that is still being waged today. (It is turning into America’s longest war in history. Vietnam technically lasted 25 years.)
 
Next, I can point to the invasion and occupation of Iraq (2003-2013), which led to the overthrow of the Ba’ath Party government and the execution of Saddam Hussein, but unleashed a hell fury of violence that has claimed millions of casualties. As a result, Iranian influence in Iraq has increased, and al-Qaeda in Iraq evolved into what we now know as ISIS.
 
This was followed by the US led War in North-West Pakistan, which has continued unabated since 2004. This campaign of mainly secret bombings and drone strikes has produced immeasurable suffering on a population that has no real means of self- defense.
 
Moreover, one can cite The Libyan Civil War of 2011, which led to the overthrow of the Gaddafi government and the death of Muammar Gaddafi, but, like the Iraq fiasco before it, unleashed a Pandora’s Box of post-civil war carnage. Today, Libya is teetering on the brink of total anarchy.
Today, there is the War on ISIS (known as Operation Inherent Resolve), which is part of the Iraqi Civil War, Syrian Civil War, Second Libyan Civil War, the Boko Haram insurgency, and America’s “War on Terror.” On a regular basis airstrikes on ISIS and al-Qaeda positions in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Nigeria, and Afghanistan, cause thousands to flee their homes instigating an international refugee crisis.
The latest act of aggression against the Muslim world occurred on April 13th, 2017, when the U.S. dropped a GBU-43/B MOAB on an ISIS controlled tunnel system in Afghanistan, resulting in the deaths of 94 ISIS militants, including 4 commanders. To this day we do not have data for how many innocent casualties there were. But clearly the use of this weapon set a horrible precedent that will not be fully realized for years to come.
As I see it, Donald Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia was willfully ignorant about the role America has played in terrorizing Middle Eastern nations through invasions, occupations, sanctions, embargoes, drone strikes, and the use of nightmarish weapons such as the MOAB.
To talk about the role of Islamic terrorism in the region without mentioning the United States as an aggressor is not just historically misaligned; it is also morally disingenuous.
Polytheism

Trump’s Support of Police is All Rhetoric

Before President Trump left on his first official tour across seas, he addressed law enforcement and family members of the fallen at the 36th Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service outside the U.S. Capitol. In this speech he reaffirmed his campaign promises to restore justice and end attacks on police.
 
“Every drop of blood spilled from our heroes in blue is a wound inflicted upon the whole country,” Trump said. “And every heartache known by your families in law enforcement is a sorrow shared by the entire family of the American nation.”
 
The president went on to declare: “Now, as President, my highest duty is to keep America safe. We will keep America safe. And included in safe means safe from crimes, safe from terrorism, and safe from all enemies, foreign and domestic. At the center of that duty is the requirement to ensure that our law enforcement personnel are given the tools and resources they need to do their jobs and to come home to their families safely….You are the Thin Blue Line between civilization and chaos. You come from every community and all walks of life. You are mothers and fathers and sons and daughters. You rush into unknown danger, risking your lives for people you have never met, people you don’t know, performing your duty under the most difficult conditions — and often without any thanks at all.”
 
As much as I agree with the president’s sentiments about the bravery and dedication of most police officers, I cannot help but see through the hypocrisy and hollowness of these words.
If the president really cared about police officers, then he would not de-fund public schools, cut social services, escalate the war on drugs, and loosen gun regulations. Taken together, these policies put police officers in immediate danger.
 
Take for example the criminalizing of nonviolent marijuana users. Studies show that legalizing marijuana would greatly reduce the burden of America’s prison system on taxpayers. The population in America’s jails and prisons has grown to 6.9 million, including those on probation and parole. Some studies show that 60,000 individuals were behind bars for marijuana use, costing taxpayers $1.2 billion.
 
In total, in prosecuting and policing individuals with regards to marijuana, between $7 billion and $10 billion is spent annually. Ninety percent of those cases were for possession only. In fact, there are more arrests made on marijuana charges than violent crimes combined. These violent crimes include assault, rape, robbery and murder.
 
As I see it, the war on drugs, as it is being waged under Trump’s new administration, takes resources away from the police and makes them less capable of responding to the highest needs in our communities.
 
Even more disconcerting is Trump’s reduction of investment in social services, which will have a devastating impact on police officers. Every weekday, millions of children from some of the poorest parts of the United States remain after school for programs that aim to enhance not only academic performance, but also build social skills and foster relationships with healthy adults.
 
These kids get a safe and enriching place to spend the afternoon and early evening, and their working parents can take advantage of free child care. Threatened by his proposal to eliminate $1.2 billion in grants for after-school and summer programs, many of these services could soon go extinct.
Every $1 invested in after-school programs saves $9 by increasing kids’ future earning potential, improving their performance at school, and reducing crime and welfare costs, according to a study by the Rose Institute at Claremont McKenna College. What is clear from the research is that regular participation in after-school programs and community learning centers increases achievement in math and reading, school attendance, homework completion, class participation, improved classroom behavior and lower dropout rates.
 
Kids who do not have these programs turn to gangs, heavy drugs and petty crime. Kids who do not have these programs end up shooting police officers. The direct correlation is there, but the president refuses to make the connection.
The same can be said for his stance on public education. The Trump budget would slash $9 billion—13 percent of the U.S. Department of Education’s funding—while investing $1.4 billion of new money in school choice, including private school vouchers.
 
In addition to cutting supports to teachers and after-school programs, this budget eliminates funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service, or CNCS, which provides volunteer support and educational awards for teachers in training and out-of-school time programming. A majority of competitive grant awardees in the AmeriCorps program, the largest CNCS program, go to educational programs in schools and serve students in 41 states and Washington, D.C. Academy Charter Schools, Teacher Residencies, Reading Corps, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and Teach For America could be eliminated under the president’s budget.
Without these programs, police officers across the nation can expect to be dealing with youth and immature adults who are less educated, less community oriented, less civic and civil in general, poorer, and far more apt to make violent choices.
 
Lastly, there has long been a tension between the interests of law enforcement and the efforts to roll back gun regulations, but the conflicts will become more frequent as gun rights are expanded under the Trump administration. Police departments across the nation have insisted that gun owners be required to receive training, as their officers do, and that people with violent histories, who are more likely to clash with the police, be stopped from obtaining weapons.
Maine has recently enacted a law allowing people to carry
concealed weapons without a permit or training, despite the objections of Michael Sauschuck, the police chief in Portland, the state’s largest city.
“It is absolutely ludicrous to me that we require people to go take a test to get a driver’s license, but we are allowing people to carry a deadly weapon on their person without any procedures regulating it,” Chief Sauschuck said.
 
There is a relationship between public education and crime; there is a link between the war on drugs and attacks on police; and there is a difference between truly supporting police officers and making speeches at memorials. If Donald Trump truly cared about the safety of police officers, his policies would reflect this concern. As usual, Trump is all bluster and no substance.
 
George Cassidy Payne
AmeriCorps Member (2009-10)
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In This House