Trump, Lies, and the Peace Corps

 Op-Ed in The News & Observer of Raleigh, North Carolina, July 21, 2017
(Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Bea Hogan (Uzbekistan 1992-94)

Trump, lies, and the Peace Corps
BY GENE NICHOL

Several times each week, Americans are pressed with an odd question – how did we come to this? Who would have thought it possible, for example, that when the presidents of the United States and Russia give conflicting accounts of their joint discussions, most of us would assume that a murderous, dictatorial KGB operative was closer to the truth. Even Republicans seemed to wince: “It’s certainly conceivable Putin is lying, but we know Trump lies constantly – all day, every day, whether he needs to or not, he’s done it his whole life.” So my money, the theory goes, is on the Russian.

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  • Three cheers for Prof Nichol and daughter.

    As much as many Americans loathe the image that D Trump is projecting to the world, the problem is far deeper, going back to what Pres Eisenhower warned the Nation of, all those years ago: corruption of the whole thing, Constitution included, by an emerging new aristocracy — corporate/financial interests, and esp the armaments industry and Wall Street bankers, emerging from WW-2, and deciding afterward it could essentially buy off the place.

    No surprise that the same Pres Kennedy who envisioned the Peace Corps, also (and probably the real cause of his tragic assassination) also planned an overhaul of the influence of Wall Street on National policy. So, the problem is far more than a money-minded, misogynist, authoritarian Pres Trump. It’s the larger REALITY which has been created, where impacted wealth and pay-offs have taken over National policy, and carefully blocked any path back. There is no procedural path back — like Russia 1917.

    It was back in the Vietnam Protest era, and a protest in, I believe, California. The police were rounding up all the protesters, and one of them read the following, and asked the police commander what he thought of this:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

    “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

    This, of course, straight out of the 1776 Declaration of Independence, which justified the new United States of America.

    It was during a Vietnam War protest, I believe in California, where a protester read these words to the police commander who was rounding up the protesters.

    The response of the cop was revealing:

    “That’s a bunch of Commie bullshit ! ! ”

    I’ve never ceased to marvel at the reality of officialdom’s vision, in this one sentence. It is, if anything, worse today than then. Today, officialdom KNOWS they’ve allowed the Constitution to be marginalized, and the system corrupted, and knowing it, essentially either they don’t care, or they foolishly expect some mystical Wonder Woman or Superman to appear at the last minute to save the Nation from their malevalence and malfeasance.

    Finally, recognizing no path back from this strangle-hold of corruption, it’s only a matter of time before what I call The Great American West will say Good Bye, and in the interest of preserving democracy and the vision of the Founding Fathers, will elect to go it’s separate way. Reciting the above words from the original Declaration of Independence, and to the melody of “America the Beautiful”. That’s the way it looks from the West. JAT

    • I agree with Patricia, my roommate in Peru and my friend ever since. I will share this important piece as well.
      Sandra Bly, Peru 1962-64

  • As a RPCV, I would like to add an opposing view. Yes, PC funding is slated to be cut, but why should the US be expected to provide ongoing amounts of financial support for the world when we are burdened with an astronomical national debt, many of our vets are homeless, our Social Security system is a mess, etc. I too hate to see funds cut, but just like with our family budgets, we cannot pay and pay and pay when money is not available for all the worthy causes out there. I am grateful that PC will continue to receive 85% of past funding. Other worthwhile entities are taking a higher cut. The US cannot and should not be expected to save the world. After working for 26 years with the Dept of Defense and seeing our soldiers injured/killed for countries where we are despised, my views differ from those who share the perspective of this article’s writer. It is my hope that the contribution of my PC service will continue to help those I served. But, I feel it is important to see the needy in this country before we feel obligated to be the world’s caretaker.

  • The problem is really that Trump has no frame of reference to understand the importance of the Peace Corps, and the long-term benefits of having Americans working abroad in less developed nations. He lives in a bubble where the only thing that matters is his profit and loss statement–for his personal wealth, not the standing of the United States. He is ill-equipped to be the Executive of the nation, but thanks to an electoral college victory, we are stuck with his narrow vision, and his classless behavior until his conflicts of interest force him to disappear from the scene.

  • Prof Nichol’s essay, as I read it, addresses values, not budget matters. Michael Varga states, I believe correctly, that Mr Trump is entirely preoccupied with himself, and his wealth, and almost by definition is intellectually unsuited for the job. I was reminded of this again today, when he addressed a national rally of Boy Scouts. Instead of talking to the boys about their futures, and the values embraced by scouting, he couldn’t even stay on the script, and kept lapsing into talking about himself, and the trouble with the likes of AG Jeff Sessions. As if the boy scouts understood. He’s obsessed with self-interest, and when a camera is rolling, he just can’t kick it. JAT

  • The Peace Corps always adjust to budget cuts by fielding fewer volunteers , Congress always cuts the request
    However, we now have a President who is capable of cutting the program all together
    Be careful

  • Nichols’ claim that in “Trump’s world” the Peace Corpsmen are “losers” and other such drivel. I challenge anyone to show me when and where Trump said such malarkey about the Peace Corps. And his “connection” stretches credulity to far beyond any reasonable limit. Turnbull does make the point, “consent of the govern.” We elected Trump president and will see that he does the job. One often forgets that the “governed” includes all of us, not just those who share our opinions.

  • Peace Corps is a federal agency. Its Director and Deputy Director will be political appointees, appointed by President Trump and approved by Congress. Twenty-five or more decisions making positions will be staffed by political appointees of this administration. These are the ones who will determine the policies and direction of the Peace Corps. The Republican Congress may pass legislation changing the laws governing the Peace Corps.

    During the first Bush administration, legislation was introduced in Congress which would have allowed military men and women to complete their service obligation by serving in the Peace Corps. The legislation died before it was brought to a vote. However, this is an example of how Peace Corps service could be and probably will be impacted by a Republican Congress and Trump administration.

    I believe the enduring Peace Corps values are in the heart and soul of the RPCV community, even if we may disagree politically. I believe this is a time to be vigilant. I do not support more funding until we know what directions the Trump Peace Corps will take.

  • This is a wonderful article and takes me back to our service in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia in 1966-1968. It’s heartening to know that the battle is still being waged, and I hope Congress(yeah, right?] will restore the budget cuts made by the lout in chief. Thank you, Professor Nichols. Mr. Cecchini, WTF?

  • Thanks to m any of the above for the civic lessons.. billions more for defense, milllons less for the Peace Corps. I thank God I’m educated enough to get the math

  • “Unhindered comes the dawn, and you may sing
    Victorious and vocal to the light.
    But now delay, and let the heart reverse
    Time’s sinister profile on the wall of night.” (from Hildegarde Flanner, “A Bird Sings at Night”, TIME’S PROFILE, New York
    Macmillan Company 1929)

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