Day 100: Donald Trump is the President We Deserve

For years, Donald Trump has romped through the imagination of American politics, fulfilling various socio-psychological roles: so-called “businessman,” provocateur, entertainer and brand. The attitude behind his infamous swagger and scowl is epitomized by his legendary tag line delivered near the end of his popular reality show: “You’re fired.” Those two words spoke endless volumes of power, control, and above all, decisiveness. Here was a man who was unafraid to make tough decisions, and is that not the definition of a true leader?

The smoggy sunset of white American male hegemony is hard to take for those on the losing end of bi-coastal digital disruption and college-educated technocracy. In ways big and small, everything about our culture screams with a megaphone that unvarnished consumerism, wrapped in a hip but safe multiculturalism is the way forward, and if you can’t keep up, there is not a place for you. No wonder simmering resentment burst forth into violent rage as Trump cha…

One Hundred Days of Beatitude by Peter Wilbur

"I alone can fix it!"

Thus you bellowed, Donald, at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in 2016. Congratulations, Mr. Trump, you fixed it all right. It's all fixed up. Although, let's be honest, who knew fixing could be so complicated?

Hey, race relations needed fixing, and you are on your way toward solving that. Nothing throws an olive branch out to minority communities like appointing an Alabama prosecutor and Senator whose signature claims to fame are attacks on voting rights and immigration. But you know what? History will be kind to those who were loyal, and Jefferson Beauregard Sessions clung to you like a ventriloquist dummy in a bright red MAGA hat through the long hot summer, and into the pussy-grabbing fall, and you rewarded him well. You and Jeffie both characterize inner cities as "war zones." And you know what they say, "this American carnage ends." Saying it is as good as making it true, and what with Jeffie's rollb…

Winston-Salem, NC: Break Your Addiction to Tobacco Money

Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Camel City. Tobacco, along with textiles, built this town, and R.J. Reynolds remains a mainstay of the city's economic life. It's hard to go anywhere without being reminded of the legacy of this formidable corporation and its influence on civic and philanthropic life.  However, it is high time our city washed the nicotine stains for our fingertips. We need a complete and immediate break from any money associated with these merchants of death.

Reynolds has arms of its organization that do important and outstanding work in our community, but the company and its associated PACs also fund numerous political campaigns, mostly for Republicans, but would you believe that it also gives money to Democrats? Why do corporations give to politicians? The answer is simple: they hope to influence policy in ways favorable to their business interests. An example is the complex set of regulatory rules unfolding for e-cigarettes. Legislation regarding how this new f…

Winston-Salem, NC, Crushed by Trump, Sessions, and the State Legislature. By Peter Wilbur

On Monday night in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, a resolution pronouncing my community a "welcoming city" was withdrawn from consideration by its author, Councilman Dan Besse. This document, which is a watered-down compromise of a previously proposed "sanctuary city" resolution promoted by a group of persistent activists, is for now the latest casualty of a far-right, all-out assault on immigrants led by the Trump administration and state legislatures across the country, including the gerrymandered state house in Raleigh.

Before drilling into the details of what happened on Main Street last night in a medium-sized city in the middle of North Carolina, let us take an overview of where immigrant rights stand now. We know that Trump has twice signed executive orders banning travelers from "certain" Muslim majority nations, countries chosen apparently for their ability to rouse fear in the hearts of heartland America than out of any sober analysis of actual…

How to Get the Stain of Money Out of Politics by Peter Wilbur

If there was a single takeaway from the historic election of 2016 it was this: the "angry" electorate is sick of business as usual in politics. On the right, we had, of course, the norm-shattering defiance of so-called political correctness of Donald Trump, while on the left, the Bernie revolution proved that even an old man from Brooklyn could attract huge swaths of voters with plain speech and a progressive message. But what is it that makes voters so angry? Why is Congress routinely one of the least popular institutions in the country? Sure, economic anxiety and long simmering racism have to be a part of the equation. Until we fix these problems, there will always be underlying tension and resentment. But the single biggest impediment to restoring trust in government is the overwhelming sense that politicians are bought and sold to the highest bidder. And as we have been told by the Supreme Court, corporations are people. A variety of campaign finance reform measures hav…

Speech for Tax March, Raleigh, NC, April 15, 2017

Hello, my name if Peter Wilbur, and I am a North Carolina tax payer. Like most of you, I'd guess, paying taxes is not on my list of favorite things to do. But, I understand the importance of good roads,  competent fire fighters, recycling bins, and good schools. You see, I'm a public school teacher in Winston-Salem. In fact, I teach elementary music, a program that is facing severe budget cuts if the General Assembly Republicans have their way. On tax day, we must vow to never let their budget and tax plans pass. Huge giveaways for the wealthy are unconscionable when school teachers are paid 41st in the nation, and PE and arts programs are on the chopping block. They'll sell this as a middle class tax break, but that is a lie.
One state bill that should become law is SB 587, also known as the T.R.U.M.P Act. That just happens to stand for tax returns uniformly made public, and it would mandate that a candidate for President in North Carolina make three years of IRS returns p…

War Is Not the Answer

Shock and awe.

Remember that phrase from the second Gulf War? We dropped an unprecedented number of bombs with terrifying names like "bunker buster," under the gravely mistaken notion that if we rooted out the bad guys, the grateful Iraqi people would suddenly coalesce around the idea of democracy. We would be heroes, and above all, the oil would flow again. Rousing scenes of the toppling of a giant Saddam Hussein statue were instead followed by years of protracted warfare, thousands of American soldiers killed and maimed, the establishment of torture camps by our own government, untold death, destruction, and displacement of the Iraqi people, the aggravation of bitter sectarian conflict, the establishment of a U.S.-backed government nearly as corrupt and repressive as the Hussein regime, and finally, an utter power vacuum in much of the country that precipitated the rise of ISIS.

Our nation possesses the most extensive and technologically advanced killing apparatus in the …

Russia Ties: Let's Keep Our Eye on the Ball

By Peter Wilbur

Syria, and in particular, Donald Trump's spectacular reversal of his policy there, signaled emphatically with 59 Tomahawk missiles, has grabbed headlines across the world. Secretary of State Tillerson met Putin in a dramatic meeting freighted with Cold War tension. The Donald's son, Eric, says how this new toughness proves that his father had no secret ties to Russia, yet the fact remains that there is an entire nest of ties, potential conflicts of interest, and yes, even collusion to sort out.

On Wednesday, it was leaked that Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser, has been under investigation by the FBI. In fact, that agency obtained a FISA warrant, which can only be granted with probable cause. Under question is whether Page was in fact an agent of the Russian government while he was working for Trump. It is widely known that Page worked in Russia in the 2000s, at the very least negotiating oil and gas deals, but likely on behalf of the Russian state-…