Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, January 21, 2017

MVNews this week:  Page B:4



DICK Polman

Mountain Views-News Saturday, January 21, 2017 



On Friday, at noon, Donald J. Trump will put his hand on a Bible, recite the oath of 
office administered by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, and in just three 
minutes’ time, will become the 45th president of the United States.

 But what country does Trump intend to govern? What America will he represent?

It’s a question that’s more than merely academic.

 Just this week, the Republican tweeted that Georgia’s 5th Congressional District 
was “falling apart” and “crime-infested.”

 Last summer, Trump told a campaign crowd on Virginia that the area around Pennsylvania’s capital city of 
Harrisburg “looked like a war zone,” a characterization which the locals understandably pushed back on quite 

 At campaign stop after campaign stop last year, Trump depicted an America in decline, one pushed around by 
its allies, denigrated by its adversaries and the victim of years of bad trade and economic policies that resulted in 
the country never “winning” anymore.

 And more than once over the last 18 months - only in the context of black voters, and largely before white 
crowds, he’s referred to America’s “inner cities” whatever and wherever they are, as “burning” and “crime-infested.”

It’s tough to think of any incoming president who’s spoken in such openly scornful terms about vast swaths of the 
country he’s about to inherit and entrusted to govern for at least the next four years.

 Trump presumably knows that the 5th Congressional District, which grabbed headlines this week after its 
congressman, Democrat John Lewis, questioned Trump’s legitimacy and said he’d be skipping the inauguration, 
is part of the United States.

 PolitiFact rated Trump’s claim about the district, which includes the booming city of Atlanta and its near 
suburbs, as “mostly false,” acknowledging that, while it does have higher poverty and unemployment rates 
(barely) than the rest of the country, it is leading on other economic indicators.

 Trump’s claim that the Harrisburg region is a “war zone” is similarly defeated by a simple examination of the 
data. Dauphin County, which includes Harrisburg, has weathered the recession better than most of Pennsylvania.

The county’s unemployment rate has hovered around 5 percent, the threshold at which most economists say that 
if someone wants a job - they can find one.

 That Trump is unafraid of stretching the truth in pursuit of a broader rhetorical point is hardly a surprise (nor 
does that make him unique from politicians of either political persuasion).

 But his more worrying compulsion is his ongoing (and incorrect) linking of black people and “the inner city,” 
which he continues to depict as nests of poverty where residents can scarcely walk out the door without being 

 As someone who makes his home in an actual inner city, Midtown Manhattan, Trump’s characterizations bear 
little resemblance to the lives lived by the vast majority of black Americans.

 Trump, as a real estate developer, is also almost certainly aware that the gentrification of most cities is pushing 
out poorer residents, or, alternately concentrating them in ever smaller areas.

 So it’s no surprise that Trump, who won only 8 percent of the black vote, made those remarks to largely white 
crowds as he vowed to “make America great again.”

 Black voters I’ve spoken with over the last year hear something else entirely in that phrase. Namely, an America 
that becomes great “again” at their expense, and at the expense of women, gays and other minorities, rolling back 
the progress of the last 60-odd years. 

 Trump will take office this week as one of the most unpopular presidents in four decades.

 In an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Tuesday, more than half of respondents (54 percent) said they 
had an unfavorable impression of Trump just days before he takes office.

 Compare that to the nearly eight in 10 who had a favorable impression of President Barack Obama in 2008 
and the more than six in 10 who said the same thing about Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush as they 
prepared to take office.

 Trump fares even less well than President Ronald Reagan, of whom 58 percent of Americans had a favorable 
impression, compared to 18 percent who did not.

 That means the stakes could not be higher for Trump, who lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton 
by nearly 3 million votes, as he delivers his inaugural address.

 Will he evoke Reagan, who appealed to the nation’s better angels even as he vowed to rein in the size of 

 Will he echo Obama, who praised Americans for choosing “hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and 
discord,” as well as an “end to petty grievances and false promises.”

 Can Donald Trump, who nurses petty grievances like no other, rise to the occasion and govern all of America? 

The onus will be on him Friday to prove that is the case. 


An award-winning political journalist, Micek is the Opinion Editor and Political Columnist for PennLive/The 
Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Readers may follow him on Twitter @ByJohnLMicek and email him at jmicek@

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As an unpopular charlatan prepares to place his hand on a 
bible (of all things) with the lowest-ever approval rating for 
an incoming president, and as we gird ourselves for what is 
likely to be the darkest era since Vietnam, we in the voting 
majority are grateful for whatever small victories cross our radar.

 So thank you, Monica Crowley.

 At least somebody is deemed too sleazy to splash in Trump’s swamp. His motley 
nominees are already infamous for their flagrant abuse of ethical norms, so it’s 
nice to know that at least some kind of aberrant behavior — in Crowley’s case, 
shameless plagiarizing of other people’s work — is considered beyond the pale. It’s 
even unacceptable to our new leader, who set a low standard in his business life by 
refusing to pay people for their work.

 Granted, the announcement this week that Crowley, a Fox News talking head, 
will not be appointed to the job for which she was manifestly unqualified — senior 
director of strategic communications on the National Security Council — still 
leaves the Trump swamp replete with creatures.

 Random examples:

 - Congressman Tom Price, the Health nominee, bought stock in at least two 
companies that stood to gain financially from legislation he subsequently sponsored 
or voted for.

 - Rex Tillerson, the State nominee, is an Exxon lifer whose friendly ‘tude toward 
Vladimir Putin has been good for Exxon.

 - Betsy DeVos, the billionaire Education nominee, has major investments in 
companies that stand to gain financially from her education policies, and she had a 
Senate hearing last night without first completing an ethics report on how she plans 
to avoid conflicts of interest. 

 - Andy Pudzer, the Labor nominee, whose ex-wife accused him of domestic 
violence acts during their marriage. 

 - Reed Cordish, a new White House adviser who doesn’t need a Senate OK, is 
being sued in a class action racial discrimination case. 

 Jeff Sessions… Steve Bannon.. You get the picture. 

 But hey, we’ll always have Monica Crowley — who, by the way, was brought 
down by a free and independent press. This narrative has been nearly lost in the 
cacophony of the past few weeks, but it deserves its noble moment because it shows 
that the Trump regime is not totally immune to the forces of accountability.

 It all began earlier this month, when she was thoroughly busted by CNN for 
stealing other people’s work — word for word, phrase for phrase — while writing 
a 2012 book titled “What the (Bleep) Just Happened.” Politico and CNN Money 
found more examples of her stealing other people’s work while writing her 2000 
Ph.D. dissertation. 

 Naturally, the Trump camp’s first impulse was to lash out at the press: “Any 
attempt to discredit Monica is nothing more than a politically motivated attack 
that seeks to distract from the real issues facing this country.”

 For a few days, Trump clung to the fig leaf of HarperCollins, the publisher of 
Crowley’s book. The HarperCollins folks initially stood by Crowley, and Trump’s 
flacks duly hailed them as “the largest and most respected publishers in the world.” 
But that all changed when HarperCollins assessed the press’ revelations and 
announced, effective immediately, that Crowley’s book “will no longer be offered 
for purchase until such time as the author has the opportunity to source and revise 
the material.”

 This was too much even for Trump. Without nary a single rant or tweet — about 
“fake news” or the “dishonest media” or whatever — Crowley was ejected from 
the swamp. Earlier this week, she declared her sudden disinterest in joining the 
National Security Council, “after much reflection.”

 So put your hands together for a vigilant press. Savor this small victory, which at 
least shows us that not all ethical norms are dead. Problem is, it still leaves us with a 
swamp that will not be drained. And to best describe that swamp, I will update the 
infamous phrasings of our Leader:

 Republicans are not sending us their best. Some are Russian doormats. Some are 
sleazebags. Some are racists. And some, I assume, are good people.


 Dick Polman is the national political columnist at NewsWorks/WHYY in 
Philadelphia ( and a “Writer in Residence” at the University 
of Pennsylvania. Email him at




 “Halima” hid under the bed and tried not to watch as the soldiers slit her 
brother’s throat. 

 It was 1999 in Sierra Leone and the country was in the middle of a bloody 
civil war. Halima waited until the killers left, then crawled out and ran to her 
brother Salim, who was not breathing. She held him, prayed for a moment, then ran from the house. 
Two days later, with a false passport, she flew to the United States. She was granted asylum and now 
lives here with her family, including four U.S. citizen children.

 I had known Halima’s story for almost a decade since I was her immigration attorney. She is just one 
of the many people I’ve met during a twenty-year career practicing the type of law that exposes me to 
people who come from countries where politics is not as simple and sanitized as a panel discussion on 

 There was Muhammad, who had once been a member of the Nawaz party in Pakistan and made 
the mistake of being a vocal district officer and opponent of the Taliban when they took over his 
northern town and ordered medical workers to stop dispensing free vaccines. He was beaten, his 
father was shot and he was forced to flee the only home he’d ever known. The Taliban are still there.

 There was “Javier” from Guatemala, whose family had been attacked by rebels during the Civil 
War in the mid-80s because they refused to provide assistance, and then were persecuted by the 
government when, ironically, they wrongly thought his family had provided that guerrilla aid.

 There was Brahim from the Ivory Coast, who had been a vocal coordinator for college students in 
favor of a political candidate named Ouattara, and who had been imprisoned and tortured when the 
president’s men maintained their power by essentially putting the challenger under house arrest and 
disrupting the election.

 There was Ousmane, from Algeria, who had marched against the Armed Islamic Forces in 
his hometown of Medea, trying to protect the democratically elected president from an Islamic 
insurgency. His sister was raped, he was beaten, and the police were too afraid to arrest any of the 

 There were more. Mohan from the Sudan. Isaias from El Salvador. Lassana from Guinea. Emanuel 
from the Congo. Every single one fled a country that was mired in a political maelstrom because one 
group of people could not accept the peaceful relinquishment of power.

 I tell you these stories as a reminder that even though you might not celebrate the man and the 
message in the ascendant in Washington, you have to honor the process. 

 We transition from one person to the next, one party to the next, one mission to the next, without 
guns. We do it without force. We do it with votes and voices.

 The angry feminist marches in the streets, but is not forced to hide under her bed.

 The impassioned college student writes op-eds against the administration, but does not do it from 
a prison cell.

 The doctor who thinks birth control is a right, not a privilege, writes that prescription from an office 
and doesn’t fear that police will break down his door and haul him away.

 To those who are angry, mournful, anxious and disgusted today I say: celebrate the country you live 
in, that gives you the freedom to oppose Donald Trump’s administration.

 To those who do celebrate unreservedly, remember that those on the other side of the divide are 
your fellow citizens.

 And to all, embrace the process that perpetuates a freedom and an individual dignity that, believe 
me, is the exception to a universal rule.


© 2017 Christine Flowers. Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, and 
can be reached at

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