Amerika/America, du hast/you had….

We are nowhere near the end of the Trump-thumping we are taking.. We are not at the beginnig of the end, nor the end of the beginning.  We may be at the start of the beginning.  And that makes it all even more sad and urgent.  We have already lost so much; it is such a great shame.

Towards the end of his life, the great German poet, scientist, lawyer, statesman etc;, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) became very enchanted with the energy, robust freedom and lack of a haunting past in the young American Republic.  During those later years he wrote the following poem (here in English translation praising and expressing an important hope about us and  our republic:

(If you want to know more about who Goethe was, read my post “Who is this guy Go-ee’-thee (Goethe)?

Amerika du hast es besser

America, you have it better

Than our old continent.

You have no tumbledown castles

And no basalt deposits.

Your present is not disturbed deep down by

Useless remembrance and vain strife.

Use the present with good fortune!

And if your children write poetry,

May a kindly fate guard them from writing

Stories of knights, rascals, and specters.

http://www.bachlund.org/Amerika.htm

 translation by Marilyn Barnett

One of DT’s first targets for negation remains our fragile, wilting ecosystem.  We must get it back under control —and fast—.  Before DT touched nature with his cold, dead hands, an annual reduction of atmospheric hydrocarbons by 2% would have saved us-but we were barely making that. Now after he has negated our environmental protection, the yearly target for a timespan 4 years shorter than in 2016 is 5%.  And we had been barely eking out a scrawny 2%…. If we fail now, there will not be a second chance, the resulting inhospitable, lethal climate will make this planet uninhabitable.

Let us remember the hopes and faith that so many had for us so many years ago.

But we can only get to the end of the beginning by accepting without filtering where we are today. That’s the first step.

To that end, today Goethe’s hopeful poem could only be written something like this:

Amerika, du hattest es besser…

America, you had it better

Than our old continent.

But you failed to save your forests and oceans, 

You permanently poisoned pristine waters.

Shame! your present is blighted by leaders of

Useless remembrance and vain strife.

You misused the present in bad faith!

And your children will never write verse,

Condemned by drudge lackeys and their bumbling boss, to

end with a whimper: 

as nature winds down in reverse..

Where indeed have all the flowers gone, long time passing? How much pain must good men endure, before they throw off this yoke?

  

Step One

General Henning von Tresckow was the leader of plots to kill Hitler, including the Valkyrie plot. After the failure of Valkyrie, he killed himself with his pistol so that the Gestapo or Schutzstaffel could not extort or torture information from him about his co-conspirators.

The time for elegant analysis of why we are vulnerable to autocracy, to rule by whim replacing the rule of law has passed. We no longer need be concerned about the advent of autocracy and arbitrary rule. It is our government now.

What we need to know is that Barr and Trump are sparring about whether the President can intervene into cases being handled by the Attorney General. This may be about legal powers: I do not know. More fundamentally it is about norms for behavior. It is about maintaining one of the reasons for the revolution of 1776: making sure that the prosecuting arm of the highest executive function does not become both investigator and judge without jury or habeas corpus.

Trump has callously violated the rule of law and the life of liberty. That is not an inference, it is a manifest fact. Regardless of the toady subversion called the Impeachment Acquittal, if we want our almost three centuries of building, trying failing re-trying to have been for naught, we just let DT continue to intimidate and subvert. If we want to say that our national heritage leaders —Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, Lincoln, TR, FDR, Reagan, etc — all were wrong, we just let DT continue to twitter his way to crony governance, crony economy, and broken nation.

The love of that tradition, pride in our achievements in that tradition, highest respect and honor to those who did their duties in liberty, who gave it all in war, who challenged us to be better with their own words and examples, who taught us what our past and our heritage are—that all was made part of my soul starting on De ember 7, 1941, three months after I was born. The lessons continued — uninterrupted but often taught in grave conflict and meted out in dangerous situations—until the 2016 election. It was there to see in Trumps behavior: read the motivational tea leaves—he wanted and wants to control it all. Worse, he believes he can do it— just as did Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and every other tyrant who has ever made life for the rest of us close to unbearable.

The hope that being in office might shape DT to our historical norms was in vain. It died when the Senate acquitted him and in so doing, thumbed their cowards’ noses to liberty under the rule of law. Breathing the sweet air of liberty has been the foundation, the sine qua non, of me, my soul. It is the first joy upon awakening, the last gratitude before sleep. It was The Default.

Now I can see that I was wrong. Shame on me for having been unwilling to accept that sad development. Shame on us for having spawned it.

One exception to that shaming,however: : a hesitant attaboy to the A. G for having told Trump to keep out of the Attorney General’s affairs, to stop tweeting about ongoing cases in the Department of Justice. That was the right direction, it was the right thing to do despite Trumps threatening response that he could take over if he wanted to.

All we need to see

Here are some of the examples of commitment to duty and the sweet land of liberty, that make me proud and drive me today:

My uncle, who was Director of Physical Education for the State of Michigan, and who as a commissioned officer with Gene Tunney designed the physical education program for the US Navy in World War Two.
Left to right: Mom, me riding piggy back on my uncle, 1st Lieutenant US Army FIeld Infantry, his wife: mid 1944 before he was sent to Europe and fought in the Battle of the Huertgen Forest. He never spoke of it, but after his return home, he destroyed the hundreds of letters he had written while overseas.
General Lucian Truscott and his staff at Anzio. He led the doomed US force out of the death pocket in Anzio. In a nearly hopeless situation, he and his omen are optimistic; American ended in I CAN for them. Some months later he spoke at the new US Cemetery in Nettuno. Instead of addressing the guests, he turned and addressed the dead, many of whom were under his command. He said he apologized, because there was no glory in dying at 19 years and he was responsible. And if he met any old men who thought otherwise, he would set them straight.
My Mom posing in a photo campaign to support rationing during World War Two;

The situation is clear, at least to me: this is unacceptable. It violates my own sense of self. Standing for our constitutional structure, honoring our heritage of democratic norms in leadership, defending them as the right moral way —that will always be what our duty is. It boils down to two important burning questions:

How much will I give out of love for the sweet clear mental, physical, spiritual air of liberty under law?

Do you and I know in our souls that it is our moral and patriotic duty to oppose Trump’s American Tyranny—and if we, the weak, do not, the US will be Trump’s forever? Am I clear that if we do not, then who will?