Tag Archives: 2016 election

Who Will End Obstructionism?

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I will fight for Hillary Clinton right to the end, whenever that is. I do think women can do as well in the Presidency as men have done. I am tired of women being expected to wait until some perfect moment which of course will never arrive. There are no perfect moments. Even Obama’s seemingly perfect moment was ruined by racism and obstruction. If we get Bernie I will be fine with that but I have to stay in the fight.

The only question that bugs me is which of these two will be able to bring back regular order to Congress, to send the “teabaggers” packing and the Evangelicals out to do good works?

The Conservatives hate Hillary possibly even more than they loathed the idea of an Obama Presidency. Their hate has become rabid and personal. Will we have four to eight more years of obstruction and hate speech, this time against women? Will they just vote over and over to impeach her? There could be 60+ more votes against the ACA. How many more votes will there be to defund Planned Parenthood? More of this will not be good for America. It will not be good for the world, although perhaps it is emotional baggage we must sort through. Does Hillary have a plan to change things just in case we don’t win some seats back in the Senate?

Can Bernie defuse and render harmless the Conservative push to pursue every policy that would be harmful to America? He certainly understands what is harmful about the right wing agenda and he will hold the line against any progress toward the Conservative way. But will he also be unable to breach the obstructive moves of a party that owns 3o state governments, both houses of Congress and the courts? Will it help that he pushes Republican buttons by pursuing policies that are far outside their ken? Will he blow them up to smithereens when he moves to break up the banks and rein in Wall Street? Will revolutionary zeal be better than the strategies of someone who knows everyone and knows her way around the politics of DC? Or will there just be two revolutionary groups in a war of words?

Is there any candidate the Democrats could have put forth who could “treat with” today’s GOP? If a Democrat wins the Presidency and the obstruction continues will the people finally get involved? Will we the people insist that it is not OK to go to Congress if it is your intention to hold the American government hostage until it does what Republicans want?

It is troubling that we cannot see into the future and know who would be able to make headway in America right now against the misguided and unenlightened mess that is today’s GOP. We can, though, and we should certainly contribute to the movements by the Democrats to change as many seats in Congress as possible in 2016. Emily’s List tries to get Democratic women elected. If you contribute to the DNC the dollars get spread around. Even Hillary donates some of her dollars to down ballot elections and Bernie is talking about doing that.

The people’s dollars are stretched thin by all the causes that need our contributions to fight for right, but at this moment winning the election must be a top priority. You don’t have to contribute much because small donations grow very big when millions of people contribute, and there are often richer donors who match or multiply small donations. Think of it as creating a war chest in case we need it.

By Nancy Brisson

Will We Duke It Out in the Streets?

Ted Cruz cartoon

When I listen to Ted Cruz lately, sounding like an arbiter of fairness and good grace it is too much for my civility. I watched Ted Cruz in the Senate and all along he has been the ringleader of the disrupters in Congress, stalking back and forth from the Senate to the House, sticking his big nose into Boehner’s business, enforcing “purity” to a Tea Party and Evangelical agenda. He has pandered to angry white middle class Americans for the entirety of Obama’s two terms in office. He has poured hate, criticism, and vituperation on Obama without ceasing. He accuses Obama of doing the things that he, Ted Cruz, is doing and no one seems to call him out on that. He does not represent many Americans but he swears he will represent us all. Clearly he will only represent the Americans he agrees with, those who feel the same way about issues as he does.

You may say that if Ted Cruz is elected that this will be the will of the majority of the American people but you will be wrong. The Republican Party has prepared the way for just such an extreme right winger to win with their gerrymandering, their voter suppression, their Citizen’s United, their packed Supreme Court. Ted Cruz bemoans a Supreme Court packed with liberals; while I bemoan a Supreme Court packed with the current iteration of conservative. We are losing sight of how dangerous Ted Cruz is to America because we are presented with the even more pressing danger of a Donald Trump presidency. Ted Cruz does not, in any way, represent me. I will experience a Ted Cruz presidency as four to eight years of an America that is moving backwards. I will expect to find myself “dangling over the pit of hell” because of some of my liberal opinions along with many other Americans.


As for the divide we saw at the Trump rally at the University of Illinois in Chicago, which was surprisingly nonviolent, Trump did not create this divide. We have watched conservatives widen a split in America that was already there and which was exacerbated by a tough economy and by the losses of the middle class. America is divided. We are split into a white America that fears it is losing its ascendency and a minority America which might be starting to feel ready to rise. I’m not sure why everyone feels that it must be us against them. Aren’t we all Americans? Don’t we all want America to thrive?

Conservative talk has pried away at the split in America, making it wider, driving a wedge of hate and fear into the breach. It is a reflection of the fear and racism felt at the heart of the Republican Party which has been growing increasingly less diverse and whiter. It is a party that is still reflecting the values of the old South, nursing the wounds of the Civil War, the pride of the beaten Confederacy, and the authority of a supposed superiority of the old slave owners. Backward, backward, backward into a swamp of hate and remorse. Mix in righteous religious anger at the audacity of women legalizing forbidden behaviors and undermining male dominance and you have the toxic brew the Republican Party has been encouraging since Obama took office.

When we see all the white people who the Republican Party have turned into “pod” people, mindlessly repeating Republican talking points, the bible according to FOX News, enjoying themselves at a Trump rally where they can exercise their hate and dismay without the pesky interference of other points of view, it either frightens us or delights us depending on where we stand, which side of the divide. But what we really see is that the divide is real, however it was created, no matter how much it was hyped up by Conservatives. Up until Chicago the opposition, the liberals, the young people, the Black Lives Matter movement was carefully kept out of Donald Trump’s rallies. But in Chicago they organized because they had advanced notice. It is an urban area bursting with diversity and not a small Evangelical college. And there it was, staring us in the face, actually rather politely, the chasm yawning all around us between what is apparently two Americas.

If Donald Trump becomes our President and if he encourages conflict, eggs on his supporters as he has in his rallies will America see our differences boil to the surface? Perhaps papering over our animosities, constantly trying to shove them back into the crevasse is just making them stronger. Maybe we are determined to duke out our differences in the streets. I do not really think this will make us feel any better, or bring us any closer, or heal the divide. After people beat each other up there is guilt and regret and depression and wound licking not building alliances that cure and build up our nation.

We are screwed if we pick Donald Trump as our president and we are screwed if we pick Ted Cruz. Both are too mean, too narrow-minded, too authoritarian, too self-absorbed to stitch the two Americas back together into one people dedicated to making Democracy work. Neither of these men will ever be able to encourage an America that truly presents a united front to the world, an America that lives out, as well as flawed humans can, our ideals, as opposed to our fears.

(I found both cartoons in today’s Post Standard.)

By Nancy Brisson

The GOP War on Women and Hillary Clinton

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We might not have needed Hillary Clinton if the Republicans had not spent the last seven years (at least) making women’s lives miserable. Women, no matter how men feel about it, have been under attack by the GOP and especially by Conservative Evangelicals.

We remember when Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a slut because she wanted to continue to have access to birth control pills. BIRTH CONTROL PILLS! I’m surprised no one recommended that clitoral mutilation should perhaps be adopted as an American rite of passage. There was an implication that women should not get any pleasure from sexual relations. Representative Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) wanted women to be submissive to their husbands as a way to “fix America”. Women were blamed for the demise of the families which then led to the demise of the entire social order in the US. OMG – we went to work – and we liked it. It gave some of us a sense of purpose and sometimes prevented negative female problems like frustration, depression, etc. So the GOP told America that “liberated” women can be blamed for the holes in the fabric of the American Dream.

We might not have felt we had to insist on a female President except for the number of times Congress has tried to “defund” Planned Parenthood and threatened to shut down the US government in order to do it. We value Planned Parenthood. It has helped huge numbers of women at times when they needed safe, inexpensive, and confidential attention in their lives for a variety of reasons (and it still does). It sort of stands as a symbol of the freedoms women have won. I have a tough time understanding anyone who does not see that the GOP has been obsessed with women and issues that should only concern women, and perhaps their partners, ever since Obama took office. But none of this is Obama’s doing; he has no beef with women and vice versa.

Clearly the GOP does not intend to wait until numbers are on their side to overturn Roe v Wade and perhaps make some forms (or all forms) of birth control illegal. They can do this if they control all three branches of government and there will be almost nothing we can do to stop them. The Republicans have created such a threat against women that the only way we will feel safe from losing hard-won rights, granted by law and bolstered by scientific advances, rights that offer freedom to women, is to put a woman in the White House. One reason many women will support Hillary is because things look really grim for us if we don’t.

The GOP has spent seven years riling up all of the groups of Americans who are not white men or Evangelical women and now they act surprised that the only people in their tent are old white people, including white supremacists like David Duke and the KKK. The Republicans will reap what they sowed, we hope. The media, on the other hand, seems to have suddenly come down with collective amnesia. Hillary Clinton might rather just enjoy being a grandmother, but we can’t let her do that yet. So when the GOP starts in on Hillary, and they will, I hope that at least the women of America will remember what they stand to lose if we put a Republican in the White House.

Why We Can’t Elect Donald Trump (or any of the Bully Boys)

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Donald J Trump could become the leader of America, but if he is elected and if he does the things he says he will do, America will be a substantially different nation than it has always been. We can kiss our forefathers good-bye, and the high ideals they wished us to strive for as a nation. By the time we build that wall, send all undocumented immigrants back to their countries of origin, build up a huge military presence and bully China, I’m not sure what America will be left with, but I think we will finally understand the word Fascism.

Older Americans shudder at the thought of a Socialist taking over our Democracy but tend to have little or no reaction when someone exhibiting signs of Fascism (Donald Trump) begins to climb in the election polls. Fascism is far more at odds with Democracy than Socialism is but we just don’t have enough understanding of what the term means for it to call forth the intensely negative visceral reaction that it should. I have written warnings about this twice before, but this time I have help from a very famous writer, Umberto Eco.

Writing from Paris, Christopher Dickey begins his article in the Daily Beast with this statement, “Here in Europe, people know a thing or two about fascism.” He is remembering an article he read twenty years ago by the deeply philosophical Italian author Umberto Eco, who died last week.

No, here in Europe, by various names—as Fascism, Nazism, Stalinism—it was the living, vibrant, vicious force that led directly to the most horrific global war in history. More recently, it took root and lingered as an active ideology in Latin America, providing a crude foundation for the repressive revolutions and dirty wars that raged from the ’60s through the ’80s.

Indeed, the fundamentals of fascism are with us today, in the killing fields of ISIS-land, in the madness of North Korea, and also, sadly, in battered democracies from newly militaristic Japan to xenophobic, isolationist parties in Europe. And, yes, in somewhat more subtle forms fascism can be found on the campaign trail in the U.S. of A.

Umberto Eco, in his article (title not given) gives a list of the attributes of a Fascist:

Makes a cult of tradition

Rejects modernism

Takes action for action’s sake  (“thinking is a form of emasculation”)

Distrust of the intellectual world

Disagreement is treason

Racist by definition   (“seeks for consensus by exploiting and exacerbating the natural fear of difference”)

The appeal to a frustrated middle class   (“a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups”)

Obsession with a plot

Followers must feel humiliated   (“by the ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies”)

Popular elitism   (“Every citizen belongs to the best people of the world, the members of the party are among the best citizens, every citizen can or ought to become a member of the party.”) (“[T]he leader knows that his force is based upon the weakness of the masses; they are so weak as to need and deserve a ruler”)

Life is permanent warfare  (“pacifism is trafficking with the enemy”)

Official heroism   (“martyrdom”)

Machismo   (“implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality”)

Selective populism   (“citizens do not act, they are only called on to play the role of the People”)

“Newspeak”   (from 1984, George Orwell)   (“All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning.”)

Umberto Eco sounds like he is speaking about the Republican Party candidates and members of Congress, and especially of Donald Trump, as we know them right now, but he wrote this 20 years ago.

Here’s the link:


I think that all of the Republican candidates are unelectable and everyone is feeling this even if they will not admit it. I am guessing that people are thinking that Donald Trump is the least dogmatic. He is not toeing the party line. He is his own man. And for some reason people cannot see the dangers in turning over our governance to this man. They want the 50’s back and Donald promises the 50’s. But they will return under his terms. He humiliates anyone who questions his leadership and people back down, even scary people like Ted Cruz. If we give him carte blanche to “make America great again”, it will be his vision of America, not ours and he may have a hard time ever leaving office. He may make himself President-for-life. We cannot control this man. He brooks no disagreement. In the scary GOP line-up of future Presidents perhaps the man who seems most benign is the biggest nightmare of all, but we may not know it until it is too late.

At the end of his article Dickey draws parallels between Europe then and America now.

But where does Eco’s Eternal Fascism fit in American politics? Can it be that many of the figures parading before us in this presidential campaign year appeal to the worst instincts of “the People”? Do they play on atavistic fears and resentments, frustrations and humiliations? Are they marked by their irrationalism and anti-intellectualism, their hatred of things foreign, their desire to be seen as heroes and their gun-toting machismo?

Oh, hell yeah. But I don’t need to point the finger. Umberto Eco is doing it from the grave. As he wrote more than 20 year ago:

“Franklin Roosevelt’s words of November 4, 1938, are worth recalling: ‘If American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking day and night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, fascism will grow in strength in our land.’

“Freedom and liberation,” Eco wrote, “are an unending task.”

How do we get angry Americans who think any of these guys are the answer to “setting America on the right path” to understand that they will do just the opposite? How do we get Donald Trump to leave the Republican race now that all of the non-scary candidates have been chased away? Getting rid of Donald is not enough. We must elect a Democrat in 2016 or American Democracy will not survive. I have no idea how we convince what I call “the pod people”, brainwashed by right wing media, that they must vote against the positions they have been taught to believe in.

10/27/15 On Megalomania, and the World https://draft.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=453069755357542576#editor/target=post;postID=2896814823017990171;onPublishedMenu=posts;onClosedMenu=posts;postNum=0;src=postname

11/24/15 A Plague on Both Your Houses https://draft.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=453069755357542576#editor/target=post;postID=8679697109120850499;onPublishedMenu=posts;onClosedMenu=posts;postNum=1;src=postname

By Nancy Brisson

A Worried Democrat Ponders


It all sounded so simple. The Dems would back Hillary Clinton but they did not want her to run alone. They wanted a primary – a sort of pro forma affair, just to keep her on her toes. She was the anointed but they did not want her to appear to be the anointed. In fact it seemed as if they needed Hillary because she was so experienced, but they didn’t really “feel” Hillary. There was a last minute groundswell for Elizabeth Warren.

When Bernie Sanders entered the race, along with Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb, none of these male candidates seemed strong enough to change the course of the Democratic Party’s push to elect the first female President of the United States. O’Malley and Webb were virtual unknowns, not hefty enough in personality, experience, or cultural cachet to be any real force in the primaries. Bernie Sanders was a Socialist, for heaven’s sakes. Americans shudder at the faintest whiff of “socialism”.

The exigencies of the current state of our nation, are perceived by shell-shocked Americans with great anxiety. Faced with an economy far less favorable than projected, there is unexpected appeal in a senior citizen who, philosophically, has remained in the 1960’s for decades, and who preaches a revolutionary message that has finally found its powerful rebirth. This has become a phenomenon that is changing everyone’s predictions about who will be the Democratic candidate in 2016.

I have found such solidarity with fellow Democrats, all resolved that we must not let a Republican win the Presidency in 2016. That goal is even more important now with the Supreme Court suddenly in play. Bernie’s success is splitting Democrats into the Hillary camp (seemingly growing smaller by the day) and the Bernie camp (ostensibly growing larger). Most Hillary people say they will support Bernie if he is the party’s candidate. The reverse is not as likely to be true however. Some Bernie people say that they would rather vote for a Republican than for Hillary Clinton. How is that even a thing? The Republican’s agenda is in no way similar to that of the Democrats. Perhaps there is a strong desire to be a firebrand, an extremist – any extreme will do. It is as if there is no middle anymore.

It doesn’t help that Bernie gets such sweet media attention. The media loves Bernie. The media also puts on a sour face for anyone who is not an extremist. And Bernie has been nice. He has been the ever-well-received “happy warrior”; probably stunned and pleased by his success, by a reawakening ‘60’s vibe. There do not seem to be many bad things to say about Bernie Sanders. Some say that he has been slogging away in government and yet has accomplished very little and has not, until now, made much of a splash. But the people in his state do seem to love him in spite of the fact that single payer health care failed in Vermont. I have even been tempted by Bernie. I grew up in those same energetic times when we dreamed of equality for everyone, an end to war for all people and all times, and changing the “establishment” so that our government would become truly Democratic, instead of a Democracy in name only.

Hillary, on the other hand, seems to be no one’s darling. The media rarely has anything good to say about her. They pound away at her lack of authenticity, they say that people don’t like her or trust her. They say it almost every day. And some of these media folks are classified by the right as left-leaning journalists and pundits who should be allies for Hillary. “With friends like that who needs enemies?”

The fact is that Hillary has not led a quiet political life. Because of her marriage to the high octane Bill Clinton she has been in the limelight for decades. She was not just a helpmate either; she had her own career goals and she got involved. She got her hands in the dirt, so to speak. She was not just the great lady who told the gardener what to do, she helped plant the garden. She legislated. She designed the precursor to Obama’s health care plan. She travelled the world and met the world’s leaders.

Hillary is vulnerable to attack because she has been front and center. She has not been timid, or held back, or bided her time. She has just rolled up her sleeves and helped her nation solve its problems. She is vulnerable in so many ways because she actually “did stuff” and is accused of making many wrong decisions. The tough drug arrest policy of the 1990’s is the newest albatross being hung around her neck. She didn’t pass that program alone. Even Bernie voted for that one. We, perhaps, only see what a mistake this policy was in hindsight.

Bernie Sanders is not looking quite so sweet these days. He is no empty suit. He has become a powerful opponent, splitting the Democratic vote and perhaps even getting some Republican votes. Independent voters find themselves choosing between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. How is that even possible? It boggles my mind. I see nothing in common between these two. In spite of the fact that Bernie is now fighting to be President for real, he is still not getting a lot of bad press. I am even reading mixed results when it comes to vetting the plausibility of Bernie’s programs. Some authors think that there is some economic viability, most have reservations.

Is Hillary Clinton as bad as the media paints her? Do the people even know anything about Hillary except what the media has told us or hinted at or insinuated. Is Bernie as spotless and pure as the media lets him seem? I am guessing that Bernie is “as honest as the day is long”. He just does not seem very materialistic or in possession of any strong personal ambition. While these qualities may make him a trustworthy leader, will they make him a powerful and a flexible leader? I don’t think Bernie Sanders is good at compromising. I think that may be his Achilles heel. I saw the camera catch a look on Bernie’s face the other day which did not look at all sweet, or flexible either. Look up “Bernie faces” on Google Images. He is not always so sunny these days.

What I am saying is that Bernie Sanders is creating a split between me and other Democrats who I thought of as my allies against the Republicans and that this split has me worried. I am also worried that it is looking less and less like Hillary Clinton is the most viable Democratic candidate among Democrats. We had better hope that if Bernie Sanders and the fans of revolution get the nomination that they can actually carry the day. Will the word “socialism” be used as a club to beat Bernie up and will the majority of American voters come to his defense?

I refuse to give up on Hillary yet. We wait, we listen, we watch, we express our thoughts – but we won’t know until we know.

By Nancy Brisson

Why I Pick Hillary in 2016

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I am a girl. Hillary is a girl. I’m with Hillary. I would not back Hillary just because she is a girl, but she is a girl who has an agenda for America that is well-thought-out and based on plenty of experience. In addition, I assume that she will be flexible enough to adopt a new approach to a problem if she is convinced that it will be more effective. And I feel certain that she will not turn into a Republican anytime soon.

I love Bernie Sanders, I do. His people make an ad for him with Simon and Garfunkel’s “America” song from the Book Ends album. It warms my hippie soul. If I didn’t think that it was time for a girl President, then that little revolutionary in me would go for Bernie. But right now the only way I will pick Bernie is (1) if he turns into a girl (highly unlikely) or (2) if he wins the Democratic nomination.

Girls, ladies, women, females have always been asked to wait. Wait for this, wait for that, and when we felt it was appropriate, which we usually did because we are pragmatic and compassionate, we did wait. I don’t think we have to wait in 2016. I think we are good to go. So I back Hillary Clinton and all the other women who have worked so hard in the past eight years to keep the rights that women have won – rights that never came easily. So I also stand with Cecile Richards and Planned Parenthood and I stand with Emily’s List trying to get more women elected to office and a whole roster of active women that I won’t list because then I’ll forget someone and I’ll feel badly about it.

I sure would like to hear Hillary Clinton addressed as Madame President and I know those other women will be there to help the first woman President in America do a truly great job. Now that will be huge!

By Nancy Brisson

To the Other Pod People


I have a few things to say to the disenchanted voters, the disillusioned, the world-weary, the cynical, the drop-outs, the cop outs, and all Americans who say that they believe our government is so corrupt and our politicians are all such crooks that they cannot stir themselves to cast a vote in any election. These folks (and I have heard mostly men speak like this although I am sure that there are women who feel this way also) think that not voting makes a statement, that opting out of the system will eventually crash the system. Some want a reboot to a better, fairer government; some want anarchy, a government which exercises no control at all. Oh yes, let’s put 7+ billion people on a small planet and see what happens when the rules are ‘every man for himself’, and when there is no centralized fund to spend on, well, anything. Whose idea of nirvana is that?

If these people who choose not to vote stick us with a government run by a Tea Party extremist I hope that they are the first among us to realize what a mistake it was not to vote. People who don’t vote are actually voting for someone but they get to do it passively and they get no blame if the next power people do not best represent the needs of the nation. Circumstances matter in an election. Democracy requires participation.

People all over the world are disenfranchised and have no right to vote or their vote truly is just for show. We could live in a nation like Syria with a leader like Assad who does not mind turning over half of his citizens into refugees to burden other nations. The Syrians had to vote with their feet, sometimes their lives, and they had to leave their possessions behind. We could live in a nation like North Korea which apparently starves its citizens to build a hydrogen bomb that will threaten America.


When you opt out of voting you are making choices for all of us. You are not actually cynical, you are arrogant. You think you are an arbiter of truth and a punisher of failure or unfairness, but you actually help bad government thrive. There are no perfect people; there are no perfect governments. Perhaps your vote does not carry the weight it once did. Not voting will not cure this. Those who win are thrilled that you didn’t vote. They counted on it. Those who lost cannot be helped by you in any way, even if those losers would have been best for our nation’s future. You have not been sidelined. You have sidelined yourselves. How will our nation ever improve its ways if people who are intelligent enough to be disillusioned are spineless enough to go to their corner and pout about it? You folks who have disenfranchised yourselves are getting on my last nerve. You are the other pod people.

Please take a stand for something and vote in 2016.

By Nancy Brisson

Our Flawed Immigration System, Our Bad


I hear Americans making many of the following points about immigrants, most of them false. They say:

Immigrants take our jobs.

The government is using our tax dollars to provide benefits for undocumented immigrants.

Illegal immigrants vote fraudulently and they usually vote for Democrats.

Undocumented workers will work for very low wages and they therefore drive down wages of American workers.

White people would not be outnumbered by minorities if illegal immigrants were sent home.

We put illegal immigrants who break the law into American jails at taxpayer’s expense.

Undocumented people have large families and all of their children are born at no cost in American hospitals and automatically become citizens.

All illegal immigrants are from South of the Border.

Undocumented and legal immigrants exclude us by refusing to learn our language.

When we see women in scarves or even long garments like burqas or hijabs we think in our heart of hearts that this is not an American form of dress. We want women to take off these garments which to us seem like symbols of female submission and enjoy American fashion. We are afraid that people with such strong beliefs will impose their beliefs on us.

They will bring Sharia law.

We will find ourselves becoming a Muslim nation.

I could go on and on. These are all things we think about immigrants, especially immigrants without legal documents.

However, if we are perfectly honest it is America’s shoddy systems that allow people to come into our country and live and work with no documents, or stolen documents, or illegally obtained documents. Last week officials admitted that we have no system for tracking people here on visas if they decide to stay when their visa expires. I read an interesting book called Americanah (it won prizes) a few years ago by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian woman who came to America and had to stay until she could earn enough money to return home. She describes what she had to do to work in America without proper documents.

Another story, The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez is about a family that came to America legally from Mexico and describes their less-than-hospitable experience here and the great tragedy it lead to.

Some of the things we think are true of immigrants, both legal and illegal, have been researched and have been found to be false or mostly false. But statistics do suggest that America will not be a majority white nation for much longer or white people may have already slipped into the minority. Caucasians do not seem to be the wave of the future and it may be too late to reproduce a way back into ascendancy.

Deep down we feel good old American guilt over all these unfriendly or even hateful feelings. We are supposed to be the great melting pot where everyone shares the American Dream, deposits a few new wrinkles that make for a tasty cultural stew, and then puts nose to grindstone to climb the ladder of success.

We have dealt with groups that don’t see owning things and amassing wealth and fitting in as important goals. But these groups have been small and scattered and have not had an enormous effect on the American work ethic or our materialism. Recent groups do not seem as interested in assimilating (although assimilation can take generations). To us it seems as if they cling to the language and culture of their nation of origin. This was true of previous groups also, such as the Irish and the Italians. I think that this time people are worried that America is not strong enough to shake off these new influences and maintain its European/Caucasian flavor. Will our grandchildren speak Spanish? Will they bow to Mecca? Some of these things we can’t know.

Welcoming people and treating them well is more likely to keep America as is than treating people with isolation and hostility. But it seems counter-intuitive to many to accept strangers and it seems just plain wrong to accept people who came without going through the proper routes and who do not possess the proper papers. Although we don’t rely much on fancy identity papers in America.

I don’t know if these new immigrant groups will take over America (given that the Dream has gotten a bit thin for all of us) or if they will blend into and enhance American culture and the only way to find out is to wait and see what happens.

How can we deport people who simply took advantage of a very lackadaisical visa system or borders that are not secured (and, my guess, cannot be secured)? We should leave these poor people alone, grandfather them in, give them papers now or after ten years, or whatever punishing delay, and then create a system that works. That probably will involve doing some very un-American thing like using an electronic tracking system or eyeball-ID at points of entry and exit.

We are a nation of people who love to look for loopholes and then use them to our advantage. These are obviously people after our own hearts. So make sure that in the future we close the loopholes (not with walls; they make me claustrophobic) and recognize that whatever system we create in this age of jets will most likely not be perfect. Perhaps we will all have to put up with some kind of chemical or electrical ID markers in the not-so-distant future. However this has one big problem – the greater the control, the less our privacy.

Our leaky immigration system is our bad; it is on us. How can we blame those who use our mistakes to seek material gains or to find a better life for their children? We would do exactly the same thing if we had to.


By Nancy Brisson

Refugee Reality Check


We keep thinking about what might happen if we do accept Syrian refugees. But perhaps we need to think about what will happen if we don’t accept Syrian refugees.

If we do accept refugees from Syria we are nervous that terrorists may make it to America. I am a true chicken. I understand fear. It feels scary to host people who could harbor hate against us. We are assured that we screen refugees with such care that it is highly unlikely anyone could get through the process but we remember Boston and those Tsarnaev brothers who came in as refugees and were radicalized once they were here. Our fears are not baseless but we must admit that the number of refugees that might become bad actors will be very small. We live almost daily with shootings. These threats hardly seem different from the many mass shootings we have experienced. As for enabling an enormous influx of rabid terrorists – only a full scale invasion could do that and I don’t think our enemies have that capability yet.

The reasons, beyond the humanitarian ones, in favor of accepting Syrian refugees are much more compelling. First, we cannot afford to let the Republicans, who want to get elected in 2016, play us. If they make us frightened enough and then offer to save us with their toughness they believe this fear will drive us to put a Republican in the White House. Please prove to the GOP that you are not that easily manipulated.

An even greater reason why we have to fight our fears and accept Syrian refugees is because we owe it to our allies in Europe and elsewhere. We have hung back in two world wars because they did not begin in America, but we eventually fought with our allies when we understood that if our friends lost we would only have enemies left.

This time the “war” began with us, very dramatically, on 9/11. This attack was a game changer and our old friends stood with us once more. Now we must not try to isolate ourselves even though our fears may prove real (although, I suspect, not on the scale GOP candidates warn of). We must stand with the friends we have forged as we have battled to keep the free world free. We must even accept old opponents as allies for as long as they prove true to our common goals. We cannot expect Europe to deal all alone with people fleeing terrorists. Even though there is a big ocean between us we cannot afford to use this geographical advantage to remain relatively safe and aloof. I doubt it will work for long and, in the end, we will wish we had stuck with our alliances.

More selfishly, flooding Europe with refugees could put Europe’s economy in jeopardy. Our economic fates are tied together and are just one aspect of the ways in which our individual existences as powerful political entities are closely connected.

We are Americans. We need to suck it up and stand with our friends.

Note: (According to an article in the NYT on 11/25/15 the Tsarnaev brothers were not in America as refugees. They were granted political asylum.)

By Nancy Brisson

On Megalomania, America, and the World

It seems that a portion of America is having a crisis of confidence, a self-image slippage. When we see these candidates with huge egos (adjective deliberately chosen) running at the top of the polls it’s a sign. We know what happens to teens with low self-esteem. They are vulnerable to con men and users of every stripe.

These demoralized Americans believe that diplomacy is wimpy and that the only proper role for America is astride a nuke (á la Dr. Strangelove) pointed at anyone who causes trouble. What did that guy say – yahoo, yipee-yi-oh-ki-ay? This could be about pride but it comes off as more about fear – fear that America will be overrun by Muslims, by the Chinese, by the North Koreans, by the Russians (wow, we are beset, aren’t we – it is a little paranoid-making). Surely, looking at this, someone who advocates trying to take a diplomatic approach to calm everyone down makes good sense to some of us and, seemingly, no sense to the rest of us.

Opponents of diplomacy want America to come out large, guns blasting and make sure that other nations know who is in charge, to pistol whip them into some kind of dazed submission that puts star spangled flags in their eyes when they even think of America. Well, to many Americans, this looks more like an Armageddon-WW III scenario that may rage for a century, as opposed to what we have right now, just the small conflagrations that pop up now and then, have to be put out, but are confined to specific areas, so that life in the rest of the world goes on.

There will always be people who get drunk on power and stomp around uncaring about who they stomp on. And they will always raise the ire of people who love freedom because they are enemies of freedom. But after all these centuries of human interaction and after being taunted by power- sick individuals over and over again, after endless wars to subdue men who want to rule the world you would think we would have come up with some better strategies for these megalomaniacs than to drive a few tanks over them (they get back up). People with these personality disorders should not ever be allowed to assume a role of power. They should be defused and their talents redirected early on before it takes half a world to defeat one madman.

People in America, Conservatives, seem to believe that the best way to defeat one megalomaniac is with another. So we have a lineup of egomaniacs running on the Republican side (D. Trump, B. Carson, T. Cruz, C. Christie) and we have free Americans on fire to put themselves under the control of these nuts. But there is no “we” in ego. These guys sound more like they are running for King than for President.

America, because it is a nation run by flawed humans cannot be perfect. We have sometimes done what we thought would be right and we have sometimes done wrong in order to protect our might (although that didn’t always end up well). Right now our President is trying to walk closer to the line of doing what is right – and many Americans are afraid that this will lead us to lose our might. Boots on the ground or be a squish? Are those really our only choices? Yikes! (Stop watching FOX News!)

By Nancy Brisson