Publius Speaks

Publius Speaks
Become A Follower

Thursday, February 16, 2017

CHAOS REIGNS

 In Greek mythology, Chaos (or “Chasm”) was the first thing to exist. 

The Greek word "chaos" means "yawning" or "gap.”   Chaos was also a place, far away, underground and "gloomy.”  For the Roman poet, Ovid, Chaos was an ‘unformed mass,’ where all the elements were jumbled up together in a "shapeless heap." 
“Synonyms include:  disorder, disarray, disorganization, confusion, mayhem, bedlam, pandemonium, havoc, turmoil, tumult, upheaval, maelstrom, muddle, mess, shambles, anarchy, lawlessness, train wreck and “all hell broken loose…”
To be fair, it may not be as bad as all that yet in the Trump administration, but give it some time!  It’s all going to happen.  And just why do I say that?  Because Trump strives on it – he creates it.  He wallows in it.  He uses chaos like he uses everything else – to advance his opportunities for more profit; more wealth.  Remember that time way back before the campaign when he referred to chaos in the housing market as a good thing for him? 
“Two years before the housing market collapsed in 2008 and millions of Americans lost their homes, Donald Trump said he was hoping for a crash.
"I sort of hope that happens because then people like me would go in and buy," Trump said in a 2006 audiobook from Trump University, answering a question about "gloomy predictions that the real estate market is heading for a spectacular crash." 
Trump, who has staked his candidacy on his wealth and business acumen, has also been unabashed about prioritizing his business interests above all else -- even when it has involved helping politicians with policy positions antithetical to his own.”
Well, guess what?  I wrote a piece about Trump and Chaos back on 6/1/2016, and want to re-present some of what I said then to what is going on now.
“The common belief is that people with a business background are apt to be effective managers in governments.  However, it is my contention that business men or women are at a disadvantage in government.  They are used to operating a business by Executive order, expecting underlings to carry out their every wish.  If managers or workers don’t perform their duties as ordered, they can be fired.  In business, that usually works without a problem (given the facts of lower union membership and loss of collective bargaining rights in some states).  In a government - especially federal government – firing anybody is not an easy process.  
More important, perhaps, is the tendency of departments, offices, commissions, agencies of all kinds to have their own loyalties, their own rules, their own norms and standards, and their own milieu.  Often there is a perceived need to ‘protect’ or ‘enhance’ their unit, which leads to resistance and delay in implementing orders from POTUS.  It is the nature of the beast and is not necessarily confined to public agencies.  A business background (rather than experience with politics) can often be a disadvantage in such a situation that is loaded with political and other-than-business-like operational issues, like having to represent others fairly. “
Comment: Rather interesting that certain members of the Intelligence community, of the National Forest Service, of the EPA, of other departments of the Trump administration (like the interim Attorney General’s Office), and even some Republicans, mainly in the Senate, have begun to show some of this attitude toward Trump.  It is likely to increase. 
“Of course, there is that labor union thing that the Donald does not take to with great enjoyment.  He doesn’t like bargaining with underlings.  Unfortunately for the Donald (and other big businessmen who have worked in the White House or in the federal bureaucracy) powerful unions exist, in addition to Civil Service rules and laws which also lay down a good number of job protections for all to obey.  One large union is the National Federation of Federal Employees considered "a key player in backing collective bargaining and appeal rights of [federal] employees." As of 2007, NFFE represented about 100,000 federal workers (Wikipedia). But other unions exist on the federal level meaning that different unions represent workers in different departments.  The American Federation of Government, the International Association of Machinists,  the National Treasury Employees Union  and the National Association of Government Employees (a division of the Service Employees International Union) also represent federal employees.
Trump’s modus operandi is related to his particular business background.  In some circles, it would be described as a ‘cutthroat’ approach, where allies are used and enemies are abused and often obliterated.  In real estate and development, it is important to operate in such a manner – to rise to the top of the heap – because the one who grabs power gets the deals, controls circumstances and produces profit.  The latter operating principles are not necessarily the most helpful in the implementation of non-profit programs, policies and guidelines.  Nor are they helpful in terms of relationships to other countries and peoples – often described as ‘diplomacy’ which for a developer, is useful only so long as the person being ‘wooed’ is not aware of the sham and is not resistant to ‘charm.’  Otherwise, they are written off as undesirables and are abandoned by the wayside.
Trump’s background in the real estate business, and his political campaign so far, provide us with clues as to what it will be like to have him in the Oval Office.  Moreover, the experience of him so far provides clues as to what he will be doing (or NOT doing) for YOU, the voter-citizen.
 Trump says that CHAOS will happen under a Clinton administration, but that is a stretch when Clinton has political savvy, legislative experience, diplomacy and executive functioning in her background while Trump has only the dictatorial model of business administration in his.  Where will that chaos show itself under Trump?
1)      Conflict with… Democrats in the Senate.  Trump will alienate and abuse this group if they don’t act as he directs.  If any moderate non-Trump-supporter Republicans remain in the Senate, they may give him some trouble as well.  If the Speaker of the House remains a non-supporter of Trump, expect some delay on most Trump proposals in that House.
RESULTS for YOU: continued deadlock and delay in any major legislation that affects your life, among these items: minimum wage, public transportation, infrastructure, public education, healthcare coverage including Medicare & Medicaid.  
All of this is going to catch up with your daily life, and you will have losses and increased costs that you did not expect, mostly resulting from inattention to your needs.  However, there will be some actions and changes that become law, and thus make it into your supposedly isolated life. 
One example:  Trump wants all states to be able to pass gun carry laws that apply to all public places.  How safe will your children be in school once the Donald signs legislation for a countrywide carry bill?  Whether teachers carry or children carry or both, your children will be in danger of being shot in their classrooms and school environs. 
Example #2:  watch out for Trump trying to please Evangelicals by signing legislation that allows religious objections to health care provisions – birth control specifically – you won’t be covered in many cases.  Or, if you are a member of the LGBT community, watch out for new laws that allow discrimination against you by using religious exemptions. That ploy could become rather routine, so watch out for religion becoming a pawn in the attempt to curb certain actions that are now legal (like abortion) but won’t last for longer than 50 days in a new Trump administration.
Example 3: Do you like the stability of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid?  Well forget it.  No matter what you have heard, none of these systems is in serious funding trouble now, but the chaotic approach of Republicans will reduce each of them to a state of total vulnerability by means of SS personal accounts, Medicare vouchers and contraction of benefits when Medicaid is administered by states that can’t afford current administrative support levels.  Add to that the repeal of Obamacare and you are in the worst bind ever in terms of healthcare coverage.  You won’t be able to afford anything but the very basic coverage replete with co-pays, limits to overall coverage, no coverage for your young adult children, and lots of minimums and maximums that will have you in limbo financially before you know it.” 
Comment:  We still have not heard anything about replacement parts for “Obamacare.”  And it doesn’t matter to Republicans because they have enough Chaos with which to deal right in their own districts where they are getting ‘heat’ at local public meetings because of Trump Executive Orders that already point the way to complete Chaos in healthcare, immigration, and conflict of interests that serve only to affect negatively our national security and our finances.
2) Trump for President means even more Chaos in our lives.  How about war?  Don’t care much for it? But those in the appropriate age group will for certain end up in the Middle East or Asia and Africa fighting people that Donald Trump decides need a lesson in American greatness and might.  Given what he has said already about Muslims, eliminating radical Islamist groups, threatening to use atomic weapons, and standing up to China and Iran and Syria and the Caliphate, we will be at war within a year of Trump assuming control. Many will not only be asked to volunteer to risk their young lives, but I believe a draft will be restored to show that America means business because it is so great.  Then recall that war spreads its chaos at home as well as overseas.  Prices rise, shortages occur, families lose members, over-spending becomes a necessity and as a nation we become more vulnerable to the hate and disgust of other nations.  Given the belligerent attitude of Donald Trump, the chaos of War is inevitable.”
Comment: What has happened so far is not encouraging. A botched raid in Libya has brought taunts and jibes from the Al Qaeda leader who was targeted, but absent, from that raid.  Such sarcastic barbs aimed at this narcissist president do not make for peaceable relations.  Iran has been put “on notice” for what we don’t know.  Netanyahu has been given at least a greenish-yellow light to proceed to build more settlements in Gaza and the two-state solution toward peace in the Middle East seems to be in jeopardy sooner than later. And now, we have a notice sent to our NATO allies that their payments better increase or that whole enterprise could be in jeopardy.  Need I mention the rotten phone call between Trump and our very close ally, Australia?  Chaos in international relations like this has always been a precursor of WAR.
3) “Another inevitable proposition: Donald Trump, if elected President, will savor the moment(s) he gets to nominate a Supreme Court Justice! He has already indicated that he will be looking for someone opposed to abortion, in favor of protecting our borders, and pro-business.  Need we say more?  His first appointment will restore the conservative majority on the Court and from that base will emanate the chaos of decision after decision that will undo civil rights, long-term voter and consumer protections, equal justice for rich and poor alike, and the separation between church and state.  Trump’s first appointment would come right after his inauguration (assuming that President Obama’s nomination is never considered), and then we would experience a series of decisions unseen in the history of the Court.
4)      Let us be sure to mention the chaos that will be created when this man of the Big Deal makes decisions based first on what he considers convenient, next on what is provocative, and finally on what is powerful.  In other words, Trump changes his mind on policy, principles and actions based on what is right for his image and status at the moment.  He can change from pro-life back again to pro-choice, back again to pro-life; or from punishing mothers who have abortions to punishing only doctors who perform them, back to punishing mothers again.  And, just to remind you one more time -- one more chaotic action based on a false premise of religious freedom: Abortion will be made illegal, and many people will suffer because of that, not just doctors.
5)      But finally, let us not forget the CHAOS that inevitably results from the misuse of power by those who hold government offices, especially the Presidency.  Recall, if you will, the enormous chaos caused by Nixon’s use of staff, his Attorney General, White House lawyers, his Watergate “plumbers,” surveillance by government agents, and the accusations of use of the FBI to embarrass and perhaps charge enemies with crimes.  Nixon misused the powers of his office to protect himself and to damage his enemies.  This is what we shall face if a pathological liar, a narcissist, a man who prefers to obliterate and destroy enemies, and a media-hater who favors muzzling of the press when they seek accountability from him.  If Trump gets elected this year, look out for the all-encompassing CHAOS just waiting to devour us.
Comment:  Yes, he was elected, and Yes, we are being devoured by Chaos. But, alongside that chaos is something some call disorder, and which some call reform or re-order.  The Resistance Movement in our largest cities and all over this country is active, is enervative, and is bringing people out to get involved, bringing forth their grievances as guaranteed by the Constitution. 
This is real democracy in action: voters expressing their displeasure with the dismantling, the destruction, the disorder, the utter baseness and callousness of a lack of caring for our People, and the utter havoc and turmoil being created for society by the “swamp” characters appointed by Trump and approved by a cowardly and uncaring Republican majority in the Congress.  These men and women are ill-prepared, ill-suited and ill-usionary in their quest to destroy and abandon values that have been at the core of this government for centuries.  They have abandoned the will of the People and favored ideology over the welfare of the People.  They have abandoned integrity and fairness; dignity and veracity for a systematic attack on much that is fundamental and foundational in our form of government. 
The authoritarian aspect of Trump’s behavior is reason enough to resist his every move lest we end up a right-wing dictatorship bent on domination instead of good will, liberty and justice for all.  We must resist Executive orders and actions that do not conform to our values or our laws; we must resist policies that discriminate, that punish, that coerce people because they are a certain class or category.  We must oppose the destruction of programs that benefit those in poverty or in special circumstances just because someone says it makes people “dependent.”
If that concept holds for all, we must remove every government support for the rich.  Raise their taxes, and put them in jail when they disobey any law.  We must remove every privilege that they take from the rest of us – like free medical care for Congress in army or navy hospitals; like tax breaks and tax loopholes that they only can access out of our paid tax money, but we can’t do the same; like being exempt from certain laws; like not having to pay Medicare taxes or Social Security tax beyond a certain level; like being able to buy votes by hefty contributions to individual candidates and special PACs – bribery made legal by the SCOTUS.
It is past time to rid ourselves of the real Chaos – special privilege, inside information, control of elections, inaction on the People’s need for jobs and health care, and lower taxes, infrastructure repair, but more importantly our need for jobs that benefit society not the wealthy, schools that train and educate all for citizenship, not just the privileged and the successful for more greed more privilege and more exploitive success. 
We must act to reform, revolutionize, and make relevant the structures of government, so that they can be the channels of equal support, equal pay, equal schooling, equal justice, equal opportunity, equal rights with equal consequences for wrong-doing.  Government is not the problem. Ideology-first politicians and bought representatives of special interests are the problem.  Non-voters are the problem.  Lack of an adequate education is the problem.  Uninvolved citizens are the problem.  And, finally, the CHAOS of this administration is a problem of deadly significance. 
Chaos is not an effective strategy or operational paradigm.  Chaos costs money, chaos affects lives adversely and chaos takes stability and tears it to shreds.
WE MUST SPREAD the WORD:    It will not be to our benefit or honor, as a just and generous People who constitute and revere this freedom-loving Nation, to have it ravaged by the likes of one man placed in an office for which he is eminently unqualified. 
Remind everyone you know that "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts (men like Trump) absolutely" (with apologies to Lord Acton).”

Saturday, February 4, 2017

UNFAVORABLE FORECAST ⛈

On February 3, 2017, at about 4:00 p.m. PST, federal court Judge James Robar of Spokane, Washington (appointed by George W. Bush) issued a crushing judgment and immediate nationwide temporary stay (stop) on Trump’s Executive Order banning residents of seven Islamic nations from traveling to or entering our country.  With the Judge’s ruling, all visa holders from those nations can enter U.S. without being interrogated or harassed.  Secretly, while the issue of the travel ban was being decided by the Court, it was widely reported that the Trump administration began to cancel between 60,000 to 100,000 visas from travelers, and had already detained at least 109 travelers at airports around the country.

It has been claimed by some constitutional scholars and experts (like Lawrence Tribe of Harvard Law)  that what  happened in the Judicial Branch of our government on this day may have lasting effects on our governance, including:
1) affirmation of an important role of the states as defenders of the Constitution;
2) affirmation of the constitutional principle of checks and balances between three co-equal branches of the national government;
3) affirmation of the constitutional principles of the establishment clause, the due process provision and the importance of the states as partners in our form of government. 

 We can place some hope in such outcomes, even though the Trump administration has indicated an appeal will be forthcoming.  As I have previously warned and averred, however, this Trump administration, because of the authoritarian and narcissistic bent of its leader, is a threat to our democratic principles and to our constitutional structure of government.  Please bear with me as I review some of those past statements and predictions as they begin to play out, even though this administration is only two weeks-old!

  1. This Republican President and Congress, working together, “will act almost immediately⛈ to destroy the Affordable Care Act law by legislation... attempting through the court system to destroy the subsidy provisions of the Law in order to gut its intended purpose of aiding those who could not afford health insurance.  This will mean higher premiums for all of us because we will be right back to where we were before "Obamacare" -- subsidizing the big health insurance companies by paying more (for ourselves and others) and receiving less in health coverage.” (9/21/2015)
Not much more need be said, except to remind ourselves that the Trump administration has adroitly taken the spotlight off this debacle and placed it upon immigration stoppage for Muslims, Iran and the Supreme Court nominee.  Meanwhile, the awful prospect of repeal of the ACA will become reality without an adequate replacement plan, leaving tens of thousands of people without adequate coverage, and the rest of us wondering how large a penalty we will pay for this chaotic approach to health care insurance as well as health care distribution and administration.  Your guess is as good as mine!

  1. ⛈“The Iran agreement will be scuttled; sanctions will be restored; armaments and other military supports will be increased to Israel, and oil fields and refineries will again be targets. There will be another War in the Middle East within the first two years of the first term of (this) President, meaning gas prices at the pump will soar; military spending particularly on private contracts will escalate, and the citizenry will once again suffer the effects of a war economy with private enterprise profiting while the poor and the middle-class suffer the same old wage cuts; slowed economy generally (although not so for defense-related industries).”
I don’t know about you, but I think these predictions are awfully close to what is now happening in the Trump administration:  Iran has been officially “put on notice” about their behaviors toward the USA (another detaining of seamen precipitated this Executive Order), even though it was done in such a haphazard way that, according to media reports, not even the military command structure knew much about it nor did they have any orders as to actions they should take.  Worse, there has been no definition of the meaning of the phrase: “put on notice.” 

So, we await further developments with great uneasiness, not made better by the flawed attack of Special Ops in Yemen, again constructed haphazardly (over dinner with political advisors) with no input or knowledge on the part of expert individuals and relevant departments within the federal government.  It seems more than likely that some kind of military action toward Iran will be “trotted out” before Trump’s first two years in office are past.

  1. The recent National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC produced another revelation about the intent of the Trump administration, about which intent I wrote on September 21, 2015.  At the traditional breakfast, Trump said:  It was the great Thomas Jefferson who said, the God who gave us life, gave us liberty. Jefferson asked, can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God. Among those freedoms is the right to worship according to our own beliefs. That is why I will⛈ get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution. I will do that, remember.”
The Johnson Amendment sponsored by Lyndon Johnson is “a law that bars non-profit organizations, including churches, from endorsing and raising money for political candidates. If repealed by Congress, it would blur the lines between church and state.” (alternet.org)

I wrote about this intent of his – now a promise – on September 21, 2015:
Beware the “forcing of Christian evangelical religion upon every American by various and nefarious government-backed schemes such as displaying the Ten Commandments on public property, requiring prayer in schools or influencing the curricula of public schools at all levels.
Using the 1st amendment to allow corporations to use religious belief as a license to discriminate against gays or against women who use contraceptives or... perhaps against anyone who had an abortion; how about ultimately against anyone who believes something contrary to the vendor's beliefs?”

Trump’s message at that Prayer Breakfast was to me a chilling reminder of my own words just quoted above, and the reality that they bring to mind.  We are talking here of the destruction of one of our cherished principles of religious freedom: that there be no establishment of religious belief or practice by the government.  That is, Amendment #1 of the Constitution, in its very first phrase, states unequivocally “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...”  That is followed by a phrase that I have argued is dependent on the primacy of that establishment clause – “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

I have maintained in other posts on this blog (see 2/18/20123; 12/1/2013; 7/3/2014) that without the establishment clause, free exercise of religion is in danger of usurpation by government-established religion at any time.  In fact, I have specifically cited government actions in opposition to Roe v. Wade as an example of a religious moral doctrine (believed by some, notably the Roman Catholic Church and many evangelical churches) as a government-directive imposed on all, thus establishing one religious doctrine as official government policy.  This is an abominable practice in a nation where the non-establishment of any one religion or religious belief has been cherished as the very hall mark of freedom to worship and to believe according to one’s own inner convictions, not those imposed by government sanctions.

And further, I have argued against the radical Republican concept of allowing individual business owners an exemption from certain laws on the basis of their religious beliefs (mainly about contraception or about sexual orientation); a basic “trumping” the law of the land and the establishment clause of the 1st Amendment.  We are on the verge of an assault on separation of church and state. 

We are also on the verge of another tendency that I mentioned in that 2015 Blog:
4. “We will be facing a huge build-up of military forces and armaments under a radical Republican take-over.  While these statements reflect the tendency of Republican administrations to emphasize military build-up so that private investors, rich corporations and private contractors can be assured of some lucrative government contracts and government money to be had in all military-related enterprises, the outcome for the United States will be an increasing national debt, and a militarization that is nothing more than a symbol of "mightiness."  It will not produce the kind of efficient and effective forces that can counter radical Jihadists or radical insurgents.  The build-up will simply satisfy the hawkish tendencies of politicians (and of some wealthy corporation heads) born in another century, and remembering great victories in all-out world wars.  There are no such great victories in modern warfare -- everybody loses.”

Another Trump Executive Order has begun the process toward that military build-up, and the consequences of that will be to our detriment, not to our glory.  Let us quickly count some of the ways:
·         More lucrative contracts for big corporations that produce military or closely-related  products or services
·         More unusable or flawed weapons, armaments and equipment because of manufacturing defects, poor design or lack of strategic necessity (example: controversial combat fighter F-35)
·         Fear and resentment on the part of allies and enemies alike;
·         Reluctance of other countries to come to our aid in warfare because of our “America first” and foremost attitude on building and proclamation superiority
·         Renewed arms races, particularly as concerns nuclear weapons; non-proliferation treaties be damned
·         Threats against USA escalate on part of rivals because of our claim to being #1 in military might (everyone wants to topple the “King of the Hill”)
·         Tax increases to cover the costs – up, up and awaaaaaay!
·         The more emphasis on military might the greater prospect for war
·         The national debt increases by largest percentage in history
·         Your pocketbook begins to suffer the effects of higher prices, higher taxes stagnant wages, and austerity budgets at all levels of government

  1. Finally, let us call out one last strategy that we too often minimize, but which the Nazi’s in the 1930’s used to their great advantage: the lack of will on the part of the People.  I put it this way in a posting of November 15, 2015:
Perhaps worst of all was the ability of the Nazis to take over the towns and the nation because of something they helped to create in the hearts and minds of the people: a moral numbness that failed to see how much they had strayed from the ideals of their... heritage.  The promotion of unquestioning patriotism --or rather of misplaced patriotism -- is a force that is invasive and destructive.  In touting American “exceptionalism” no matter the realities of our national life, is to numb us to realities that are destructive of our ideals and of our true patriotism.  We cannot and must not buy in to a cheap and ugly nationalism that makes excuses for educational, social and moral failures while celebrating militarism and mediocrity; that denies reality and settles for standards that denigrate our own heritage.”

We have before us now, not so much a misplaced emphasis on patriotism, but a misplaced emphasis on nationalism; on an America First, America Best, America the Tough and Mightiest!  One commentator has called it the Nationalist White Christian Movement, although that may be too bland. 

There can be little doubt that we have entered a newer, coarser, more ethically-challenged era than previously known.  It is not just that we have fallen prey to a patriotism that automatically denigrates every other country on the planet; we have fallen victim to a moral numbness that sets lower and lower standards for what is acceptable and worthy of emulation and which involves some sacrifices on behalf of others who need help.  Moral numbness is a state of being that robs a country of greatness, and opens it up to the inculcation of beliefs and behaviors that do more harm to individuals and institutions than one can imagine.  Undermining the functions of a benevolent and caring government, promoting might over right, isolating ourselves from  other nations and cultures, accepting the dubious notion that we can’t “change city hall” or “I don’t get involved in politics” or “I haven’t got time to get involved in your cause – I’ve got enough on my plate” – are all invitations to a morally and politically-flawed nation.  Non-voting, non-involvement, undermining of rights, freedoms and equal justice, non-thinking commitment to an authoritarian leader who will “fix” everything are all signs of that moral numbness.

In my opinion, this welcome opinion from Judge Robar will not deter the Trump administration from attempting further attacks on our governing principles, on organizations who oppose their ideology, on federally-dependent institutions (like public schools) that are supported by federal grants and subsidies, and on individuals who protest and resist their anti-democratic behaviors and actions.

It is the Trump mission, I believe, to destroy certain constitutional principles and provisions so that our form of governance will be forever changed from a representative democracy overseen by a national government dependent on three co-equal branches with checks and balances, to a central government overseen and operated by a much stronger authoritarian Executive targeted toward a limited agenda of military might, foreign domination and “deal-making”: privatization of functions including reversion to private charities and organizations as the mainstay of meeting special and national needs; premiere support for business enterprises, collection of taxes from the lower and middle classes with tax extraction enhanced for all those of wealth, cabinet departments that concentrate mainly on Law & Order, with little regard for consumer rights, minority rights and government “social insurance” for persons with special needs and challenges, plus an overarching dedication to non-regulation of the private sector.   Many functions and programs will be administered and overseen by states with minimal interference and support from the federal government. 


Fortunately, we have now begun to see a🔆Movement of the People🔆 toward spirited resistance to this insane bigoted and empty nationalism; this might-makes-right, misogynistic, homophobic, and unappealing behavior that undermines our moral foundations of freedom, equality, justice and opportunity for all.  That People’s Resistance Movement must grow; more must join.  It cannot stop because if it does we will awaken to a reality that we never thought possible: a dead democracy.    A unique system of governance killed-off by our own apathy, moral numbness and refusal to face the facts of an abnormal, unprincipled leader and a grotesque Alt Right-wing Party that refused to speak out, to act boldly and to overturn an authoritarian Fuhrer-type regime. Let us never forget their perfidy at this crucial time in our history when the Judiciary has stepped-up perhaps to save our constitutional democracy and our moral obligations to each other and to the world.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

"Perverse Prevaricator"


Let us begin today’s post with definitions of two words that describe the unprincipled man who now occupies the Oval Office.  Donald Trump is an inveterate “prevaricator.” Not just a liar - which he has been shown to be -  but according to Webster’s New World Dictionary, literally someone who “walks crookedly.” One who “turns aside from or evades the truth.” 
There is another word that applies equally well.  It is the word “perverse” which literally means: “a turning away from that which is right and good,” and may include synonyms like: “corrupt, deviant; or, disobedient or intractable; characterized by “obstinacy or contrariness.”
Taking the two together we could perhaps characterize Donald J. as “a perverse prevaricator:  one who walks crookedly, who consistently turns truth upside down with intractable obstinacy, invariably leaving behind corruption of what is right and good.” 
The following list of some of Trump’s Executive Orders and memoranda, promulgated since he took Office on January 20, 2017, provides a panoramic view of how this perverse prevarication is beginning to show itself upon the political and administrative stage.  Since taking the oath of office, Trump has signed and issued:

  • An order that directs federal agencies to ease the “regulatory burdens” of ObamaCare.  It orders agencies to “waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision or requirement” of ObamaCare that imposes a “fiscal burden on any State or a cost, fee, tax, penalty, or regulatory burden on individuals, families, healthcare providers, health insurers, patients, recipients of healthcare services, purchasers of health insurance, or makers of medical devices, products, or medications.” 
 Truth: the “regulatory burden” is not placed on recipients of this all-important coverage for health-care, but they just happen to be the main reason for this Act.  Enrollees receive the benefits of the Law, including enabling subsidies, and thereby are no longer a burden to the middle-class taxpayer who had to pay extra high premiums to support the uninsured in their very expensive use of emergency rooms and other expensive ways to obtain care.  Only those who don't have coverage, those who make a profit by restricting access, and those who don’t pay their fair share or who attempt to make huge monetary gain through outrageous pricing of drugs or equipment are regulated.  Once again, the Right-wing, represented by D.J. Trump, withholds the truth and tells a perverse Lie.

  • An order imposing a hiring freeze for some federal government positions meant “to shrink the size of government.”   This excludes the military, as Trump noted at the signing. 
More Truth:  un-targeted hiring freezes, not based on data and evidence of waste and over-hiring, produce crises in departments of government in terms of delivery of services, protection and safety of the People, and unregulated cheating of our citizens by those who hold most of the money. Untargeted freezes produce lack of research into various fields, the diminution of investigations, a noticeable lack of first responders and the inability to monitor and oversee disasters and frauds of many kinds.  Such shortages are often declared ‘fixed’ by either issuing exemptions to the freeze or by hiring outside contractors who immediately raise costs by delays and overruns.  Contracting-out functions of government to the private-sector, although it appears to be a shrinking of “government,” is simply a conservative Republican code word for dismantling national government and turning certain functions either to the states or to the private sector.
Republicans are not successful at shrinking the budget (or the government for that matter).  Their major fault is they don’t know how to temper ideology with pragmatic approaches for solving problems.  Their bumper-sticker mentality has produced extra cabinet departments, over-spending on grants and private contracts, major tax reductions for wealthy individuals and corporations.  Thus, under every modern Republican President since Eisenhower, we have seen an increase in the federal deficit when they left office, not a reduction, and large increases in the rate of growth in the federal debt.  
What’s more, and what Republicans will never tell you, but the Wall Street Journal will, as noted by Salon:  The highest growth rate ever for the federal debt was under Ronald Reagan at 13.4%. Compare that to the slowing of the national debt to 10% by the Obama administration’s gradual deficit reduction of $1 trillion-dollars over his two terms!  In fact, no Republican president in modern times, with the exception of Dwight Eisenhower, has cut the deficit.
 Salon writer concludes:  “along those lines, the recently introduced tax plan of Republican Donald Trump would explode the deficit by as much as $10 trillion over a decade.”   And here’s the kicker as reported by Salon: no Republican President has ever even dared to do what President Obama did,  to propose and sign into law in February 2010, the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act, which mandates that new spending be offset with spending cuts and new revenue.  A Democratic President and a Democratic Congress passed that Law, and guess how many Republicans voted for this Act?  ZERO.  Not one.  It’s not just Trump who is perverse in prevarication.

  • Trump signed a notice that the U.S. will begin withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. Trump called the order "a great thing for the American worker."  In addition, Congress voted on its first day to stop U.S. payments to U.N. Programs.
Some Considerations:  Denying the existence of a global economy and the need for uniting nations rather than working toward divisions in an ever-shrinking world, is neither wise nor prudent.  The truth is that isolating our country from the global marketplace and ignoring the necessity for united nations working to save the planet and to preserve and enhance rights and freedoms for all human beings, is not negotiable.  We must participate or our isolation will result in dangerous outcomes like regional wars, outbreaks of ravaging diseases, and human rights abuses that are cataclysmic, to say nothing about nuclear arms increases, deaths of those fleeing belligerent and dictatorial countries, as well as a not-so-slow death from neglect of the environment.  We will suffer trade debacles, more loss of jobs and companies, products we can’t afford anymore, inflation and falling wages.  There is no such thing as a “one world conspiracy” that seeks to undermine our country, its economy and its democracy.  There is only the truth that we are strengthened as a nation when we learn from others, assist others, work with others and become partners in preserving and advancing the rights of all.  Bi-lateral agreements are not going to forge that kind of world.
And about all those manufacturing jobs that Trump promised to return from overseas, and that will stay here when he confronts the manufacturers who want to move their plants abroad:  don’t be bamboozled!  It’s not going to happen to any great extent. Ask him what robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing and drones are going to be doing to his premise of more jobs.  If the experts are correct, the unemployment rate is going to be skyrocketing because more and more jobs are going to be done by technologically adroit non-human entities!
  • Standing out today is Trump’s executive order on immigration that indefinitely barred Syrian refugees from entering the United States, suspended all refugee admissions for 120 days and blocked citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, refugees or otherwise, from entering the United States for 90 days: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.  Although changes to the Order appeared in various venues, the basics were:
The order unleashed chaos upon the immigration system and in airports in the United States and overseas, and prompted protests and legal action which basically put a stay on the orders. The order does not affect naturalized United States citizens from the seven named countries.
After the order was signed, students, visitors and green-card-holding legal permanent United States residents from the seven countries — and refugees from around the world — were stopped at airports in the United States and abroad, including Cairo, Dubai and Istanbul. Some were blocked from entering the United States and were sent back overseas.
Thousands of people protested the executive order in cities across the country on Saturday, many of them at airports. Those protests continued Sunday, and a large rally was held outside the White House.
On Saturday night, a federal judge in Brooklyn blocked part of Mr. Trump’s order, saying that refugees and others being held at airports across the United States should not be sent back to their home countries. But the judge stopped short of letting them into the country or issuing a broader ruling on the constitutionality of Mr. Trump’s actions.  Federal judges in three other states — Massachusetts, Virginia and Washington — soon issued similar rulings to stop the government from removing refugees and others with valid visas. The judge in Massachusetts also said the government could not detain the travelers.
On Sunday morning, the Department of Homeland Security said it would comply with the rulings while it continued to enforce all the president’s executive orders.
Take-Aways:   Mr. Trump and his Trumpettes just do not seem to understand the intricacies of government.  They failed to vet sufficiently their own promulgation on immigration and may well have created a constitutional crisis that could impact the U.S. domestically, as well as having a negative impact on U.S. foreign policy. They also failed to understand the role of Congress and the Judiciary.
Perhaps Trump and many of his people, just don’t understand that government can’t be run like a business, issuing orders from the top, expecting everyone to obey those orders or be fired. Since Congress and the Judiciary are meant to be co-equal with the Executive branch of our government, they also have important roles to play, and protecting the integrity of each individual branch may now become an obstacle the Donald did not foresee.  In business, you don’t have to worry a lot about such “interference”, but in government, it’s wise to do a lot of research, consulting, negotiation and vetting to gain support before taking pen to paper and issuing Executive Orders that disrupt the entire system of governance.
A third take-away may be clearer if we remind ourselves that Trump also signed an Executive Order on January 27th that will result in a great rebuilding of the armed services and of weapon’s systems.  He told a crowd at the Pentagon that this action would provide planes, ships, along with other resources for the men and women in uniform.  As the SNL ‘Church Lady’ used to say: “Isn’t that Spesc-i-a-l.”
Here, in a nutshell is the underlying foundation for what Trump wants to do and will do: the privatization of many of government functions through contracts for private manufacturers and other groups.  Trump will use this ‘trump’ card for any negotiations with manufacturers that become necessary.  He will first make sure that he and his family benefit from whatever projects they can develop as Trump Enterprises, whether as legitimate payments for sub-contracting or -kick-backs that can be hidden from the public as legitimate payments.  He will then reward his sponsors and his cronies and his supporters (some of whom may become new supporters in exchange for the contract!).
Taking a step back to other Orders like the repeal of the ACA, the building of the two pipelines, the building of the great Wall along our southern border, the federal hiring freeze, plus some lesser known orders like construction of detention facilities along that walled-off southern border, and the government-wide freeze on new regulations until a review process for all regulations can be in place under each new cabinet appointee.   
Labor leaders met with Trump in the White House (1/24/2017) and appeared on MSNBC with Chris Matthews.  They appeared impressed, joyful and very enthusiastic about Trump’s plans for jobs related to infrastructure refurbishing.   I hope their enthusiasm is justified.  However, Trump is not looking to enhance the stature of unions or Labor.  He is in business and has proven over and over that labor is a tool and a device to be used, manipulated and swindled out of a fair payment. Witness a recent headline that focused on his real attitude and technique: “Trump to Be Sued by Contractor for Unpaid Workers. He is not on Labor’s side and that is why he met with Labor so early in his term, because he wants to gain their trust and respect so he can draw them in to the greatest scam of this century.  He will use labor to enhance his own fortune and the fortunes of the upper class.  The latter are his main concerns and whatever symbols and actions he must pursue to make that happen, he will pursue.
 Anti-labor legislation will be surreptitiously supported in every Republican-controlled state.  Watch out for those government contracts for infrastructure development – labor doesn’t control them; businessmen negotiate and control them. And, Trump is what? – a businessman!  You are dreaming of something that will not happen – Trump on your side, and Trump working on behalf of Labor.  He never has and he won’t now, you have been taken in!     That is a false premise, just like so much of the Trump agenda and Trump approach.
And that brings me to my final point: the primary thread that I see running throughout these Orders, Memoranda and Tweets and/or press Releases during these first few days of the Trump administration.  It is Trump’s uncanny ability to base almost all his agenda on false premises and outright lies.  That’s right.  The Donald is on-course to become the most obvious manipulator of truth ever seen in the Oval Office – which will also end up being the underpinning of the legislative agenda about to be foisted upon us all.  It comes under the varied headings of “Fake News” “Alternative Facts” and the “Big Lie.” 
A recent New York Times article by David Barstow seems to back up this thesis by reminding us that “throughout his business career, Mr. Trump’s most noteworthy deceptions often did double duty, serving not just his ego but also important strategic goals attracting lucrative licensing deals built around the Trump brand.”
In a Blog dated June 1, 2012, I wrote about the stark differences between a community organizer’s skill sets and those of a capitalist CEO as related to being President of these United States. Let me recall a few of those differences for you:
“Overall, Capitalism is not democracy; in fact, it is more dictatorial and oligarchic than democratic, operating on a top-down model, not on an electoral, people’s will, model.  Free enterprise is not based on broad legislative guidance as representative democracy is -- it is based on the guidance of a relatively few “officers’ and board members, and shareholders, most of whom share a certain ethos and ideology.”
-- an ability to work closely with unions and the Civil Service is necessary to ensure positive results that must be accomplished by the federal workforce, not by a bunch of people hired to obey the CEO’s every order.
--an ability not to deceive, mislead, convince by half-truths, deceptions and outright lies; perhaps this is part of a skill set that enables capitalists to hide their motives, keep secrets, or denigrate their rivals.  It certainly seems to pervade the capitalists at equity firms and banks, and big oil.  In government, one’s constituency expects transparency, honesty, integrity, stability, pragmatism, and common sense.  A President, unlike a CEO, must answer to the people for violations of their trust.” 
What underlies the Trump agenda in almost every area: The Big Lie, supported less and less by a tiny kernel or glimmer of truth.  The source of the Big Lie technique is this passage, taken from Chapter 10 of James Murphy's translation of Mein Kampf:

“All this was inspired by the principle—which is quite true within itself—that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods.
It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying. “
— Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, vol. I, ch. X[
 We are being used, lied to, manipulated and bamboozled every day of this Trump administration.  We must not abide it; we must resist it; we must overcome it – because too much is at stake:  our whole way of life and governance is in jeopardy.  DON’T BACK DOWN and DON’T GIVE UP!