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Monday, May 15, 2017

MOTHER KNOWS BEST!

It is Mother’s Day 2017, as I sit down to write this posting.  It is, to say the least, a confusing time.  The confusion stems not from the fact that it is Mother’s Day, but from a much more obvious, much more complicated, source.

The confusion emanates from a brand of governing that is uncommon to our nation as a whole, and to our people as individuals.  In spite of all that mothers in general try to teach and display in their mothering and in their living, there is a demonic spirit on display that somehow has managed to grab onto power in all parts of our governmental systems, and to place in jeopardy all that we have learned, generally speaking, from our mothers (and fathers as well).   
If your mother is anything like my mother – God rest her soul – you probably learned, or were given, some of the following attributes and axioms:

·         A sense of right and wrong
·         But, no matter how wrong you might have been at times, she still loved you and cherished you just because you were her child
·         A sense of responsibility: of caring about yourself, your family, your neighbors, your school, your teachers, your friends, your community; yes, and even about your world. 
·         And along with that sense of responsibility came a sense of accountability – that it mattered how you behaved, how you talked, how you interacted with others; it mattered enough that if you failed to measure up, there could be a punishment or penalty or confession, or a personal apology or some sort of recompense that somehow was meant to set you on a proper course again.  In some circles, that accountability was expressed as penance or atonement or perhaps as punishment.
 Turns out, it was more like character-building – an inner sense and understanding that you, as an individual, had a responsibility to conduct yourself in a manner that came from within, that showed what kind of person you were, and what mattered in the scheme of things.  It came down to accepting responsibility for your beliefs and your actions, as well as being willing to somehow make amends when you did not measure up to your ideals or to the standards or norms of the various communities within which you functioned. 
·         Oh, of course, sometimes Mom threw in a little bit of “guilt-sense” as well, and used that to help you understand that “feeling guilty” for something said or done is not always a bad approach.  It can be a means of building character; or used too often, can also erode one’s sense of self-worth.    
·         But, I suspect, in general, that Moms are the quintessential source for gaining that sense of self-worth.  They tell us how great we are, how well we did, how proud they are, how touched they were by our thoughts, our gifts, our actions, our talents – you name it – Moms generally have a way of expressing that one thing that all sons and daughters need: that sense of knowing that you make a difference; that you are important to somebody; that you are unique in some way that matters to someone; that you can accomplish things that you didn’t know you could; that you have something about you that can contribute to others; that you are special.
 I weep for those who did not gain this from either parent or from a significant parental figure because of unusual circumstances.  And, although this won’t sit well with those who belittle the mutual responsibility we have toward the welfare of others, I can’t help but believe that one of the duties of society – of government and of private sector enterprise – is the oft-neglected mentoring of the young, the provision of new opportunities for developing a sense of self-worth and engagement in community-building and service that leads to a sense of responsibility and accomplishment.
·        And finally, there is that ingredient that cannot be overlooked or down-played.  Moms simply try to love you no matter what.  That is their greatest gift, of course.  Not only does it appear to be a gift they possess, but it is a gift that they give to their children in every way they possibly can.  Some have failed to do so; we cannot expect perfection.  But most mothers simply lavish love upon their children and grandchildren, and that is why we celebrate Mother’s Day.
So where does this sense of confusion come from that I mentioned at the beginning?  It comes very simply from a loss of some of these values that mothers possess and demonstrate.  It comes from a new brand of governing that excludes some of our most cherished norms and standards.  It comes from a cohort of voters who seem to believe that it is all right to turn our ideals upside down so that we say one thing but do another.  It comes from a philosophy and belief system built not upon responsibility, accountability and opportunity, but upon a principle of might-makes-right; separation from certain people defined as inferior or maladjusted.  It comes from a belief that being great or being first or being the winner means denigrating others.  It comes from a sense that one cannot trust the words or statements of leaders whom we have elected or appointed to important offices of government or of large corporations.  The confusion comes when debate and discussion and research; analysis and targeted problem-solving are all abandoned in favor of distorted opinions, lies, made-up problems, and the orders of one-man-in-charge.  In such a situation, confusion is inevitable and chaos reigns.
 
But now, as of this moment, we have moved to another level of confusion and chaos, for we have moved to a level where the leader (Fuhrer?) has begun to tear down the very fabric of our government.  We must understand that when a president begins to obstruct the lawful mechanisms of governing is when the entire structure begins to be eroded.  The firing of James Comey as Director of the FBI, based, not on cause, but on the leader’s opinion that Comey was “not doing a good job.” This marks the turning of political disagreement into illegal activity that reminds one clearly of the Nixon era when the same-type obstruction occurred.  Our representatives in Congress acted then as they should have.  The current representatives, in the Republican Party at least, are hiding from their responsibilities, and attempting to let such actions “blow over” just long enough so they can gain re-election.  They are themselves tearing at the fabric of our checks and balances system of governing by their neglect of the constitutional responsibility of their co-equal branch of government.
Confusion is too weak a word in this circumstance.  We are besieged by a lack of character, of courage and of accountability.  We are in danger of ignoring the threat to our democratic ideals.  We are too accommodating and we are too kind-hearted, and we too often lean toward waiting to see what will happen, hoping that everything is going to work out well.  But in the case of lethal attacks upon our way of governing and upon our truths, ideals, principles and virtues, we cannot wait for an outcome that will never occur.  We cannot take the chance that too many countries have taken by ignoring and under-estimating those who intend to “deconstruct” or to destroy what has been built by forbearers and folk heroes and ordinary citizens. 
We must hold office-holders accountable for their misdeeds and their misbehaviors and even their misspoken words.  Moms know what psychiatrists have studied and absorbed:  that malfeasance must be acknowledged, pointed out and punished as close to the wrong-doing as is possible.  Otherwise the importance of accountability for wrongdoing is diminished.  So far, Mr. Trump has been given too many passes and allowed too many excuses for his behavior.  It is time to stop the charade and to let everyone know that this emperor has no clothes.
Using government for one’s own profit is not appropriate, so let us continually remind all who will listen that Trump has inappropriately allowed his daughter and son-in-law to use his picture and his office to enhance profitability; to attend political and/or governmental meetings at which his daughter had no other business than the family business with the foreign dignitaries present.  And then there is Trump Towers as well as many more Trump properties.  They are monetarily cleaning up with payments for accommodations, meetings, conferences, gatherings and meet and greets for all manner of people with connections to other governments, or to national enterprises that can be either exploitive or exploited for financial gain.
But, all that may pale in comparison to the debacle of recent days, as the leader has not missed a chance to be impetuous, imbecilic, impulsive, bumbling, caught in untruths, and making up items (tapes of Comey) that probably do not exist.  However, should a Nixon-style taping system exist in the Oval Office, there must be repercussions of major proportions.
Moreover, the optics of a leader of this country meeting in the Oval Office with two apparatchiks of Russia, and now accused of sharing highly classified information with them - while excluding American journalists from the meeting; instead allowing TASS to publish the story of the meeting - amounts to a picture that cannot be endured.  All of this while most likely under investigation for improper connections to the Russian leader and Russian oligarchs and to their hacking and interference with our 2016 elections.  And that’s not all – here is the former candidate who belittled, attacked and denigrated Hillary Clinton for possible exposure of classified information in her emails on a private server, whom he called a criminal who should be locked up.  If Trump is shown to have given highly classified information to the Russians while meeting with them in the Oval Office, he has gone beyond misbehavior to traitor.  Time to deliver a suitable recompense for this entirely unacceptable behavior.  Talk about high crimes and misdemeanors – if he keeps it up, the list of impeachable offenses will go on for pages! 
It is past time for an independent investigator/prosecutor to take charge of this whole Trump debacle!        

Monday, May 8, 2017

If They Only Had a Heart!

Jimmy Kimmel made a point on his late night show recently that has perhaps gone to the heart of the debate over health care in this country.  That is, when you come right down to the fundamentals, there is no other consideration quite as important as saving a life, extending life, or having the opportunity to savor life.  When your newborn son or daughter faces death because of a heart condition – a pre-existing condition – all the political rhetoric in the world has no meaning.  All that matters is that your child is able to be the recipient of the very best scientific knowledge, equipment, professional experience and expertise, attention and care that will enable him or her to live a full life.  However, no one should have to declare bankruptcy in order to afford those critical and necessary services.
Not only did Kimmel go to the heart of the healthcare matter, his audience agreed with his assessment and went along with him.  And so, perhaps, from the heart of a comedian, we have heard what is missing from most of our politics, our governing and our politicians: a commitment to enhancement of people’s lives.  There is an enormous communal need for this commitment to saving lives; a commitment to putting the needs and priorities of ordinary people at the center of our attempts to bring some societal order out of the randomness and chaos that greets us all as we emerge from the relative safety of a mother’s womb.
[I have no objection to considering the implications of this fundamental principle in relation to the protection of the unborn as well; just not in this piece.  However, you might want to consider some references to that debate in my Post of 04/02/2016]
My focus in this piece is the rather obvious and dubious lack of political attention to the lives of citizens as the top priority for any piece of legislation, executive order, regulation, contract, grant or policy that emanates from our national, state or local governmental entities. We seem so enraptured and captured by the glitter of ideology and pandering rhetoric that we tend to miss the fact that women, children, workers and retirees – among others – are being neglected, ignored and abused every time an economic or political ideology is placed before humaneness as the motive for legislation and judicial decision-making.  It is shameful, for instance, when children are denied programs that provide for nutritious meals at school, or seniors are denied a prepared meal and companionship through Meals on Wheels, or laborers are denied bargaining rights and pensions, or people in dire circumstances are denied healthcare, adequate housing, and a decent minimum wage for their work. 
Have we come to the point where the business and profits of multi-national corporations, drug companies, the nursing home industry, the financial sector, insurance companies, food processing plants and fossil fuel companies are more important than the lives of the one in five children living in poverty?  Is the build-up of weapons of mass destruction more important than the public education of our children?  Is our obsession with tax subsidies for the rich more palatable than our constitutional and societal contract for equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity?  Do we all as a democratic society have an obligation to care for vulnerable and challenged people, or are we meant to go our separate ways and act as though there is no mutual responsibility for others? 
There is no greater need in our society right now than a return to simple fundamental axioms and truths that made this country great.  To make “America Great Again” has little or nothing to do with austerity budgets, with military build-up, with lower taxes for the rich and higher taxes for the middle class, with trickle-down economics theory, with jingoistic nationalism, or with immigrant-bashing, vulgar speech and hateful attitudes expressed toward racial and ethnic minorities.  “Making America Great Again” is a flawed slogan from its inception because it glorifies “Greatness” above “rightness.”  It touts might above right and rights.  It emanates enmity instead of empathy.  It embraces authoritarian and dictatorial rhetoric and action above democratic values like “one person one vote” or “liberty and justice for all.”   
All this debate about healthcare coverage, benefits, premiums, co-pays, pre-existing conditions, comes down to intention and purpose.   What after all, is the purpose of healthcare legislation?  Is it to provide an opportunity for many more people to be able to afford medical coverage, or is it to inculcate conservative principles into the minds and lives of more citizens?  Are we more concerned with people’s lives and welfare or with political principles and political correctness?  I venture to say that conservative Republicans have built their movement, and their entire agenda on conservative philosophy, not on human rights or human dignity.  in essence, conservative Republicans have taken away a basic commitment to human welfare extending back to Lincoln that somehow got turned around to sound as though people in need, or in dire circumstances or who are somehow different from a white protestant norm are unworthy and undeserving of help.  In fact, a Republican congressman heard recently on TV made it plain that “those people” cannot expect someone else to purchase health insurance for them.
And therein lies the nugget of why the heart has disappeared from that wing of the Grand Old Party.  There is nothing left but a bumper-sticker-mentality that expresses their ideology but has replaced rationality.   A few slogans, using their words, will suffice to show what I mean:
·         Get a job
·         Why should I pay for healthcare for someone else
·         Immigrants are thieves, murderers, drug dealers
·         Repeal and Replace Obamacare
·         Keep people safe -  build the Wall
·         Obamacare is dying on the vine
·         Shutting down government is good
·         States are closer to the people
·         Dictators Deserve Your Love
·         Get Rid of Entitlements
·         Tax cuts for the rich benefit everyone
·         Preemptive bombings show our strength
·         Manufacturing jobs are coming back 

There are just so many....  And every one of them is backed up by stunning bits of rhetoric that often have no place in a democracy.  We have heard too much about the failings, faults and criminality of undocumented Mexicans who come across our southern borders.  We have endured the bashing of Islamic people as though they are all potential or actual terrorists.  We have been subjected to lie after lie about Obamacare – its tax burden, its damage to small business, its rising copays and increase in premiums.  Funny how so many millions are still a part of it and more have joined during the open enrollment periods even as it comes under relentless attack.  Could it possibly have anything to do with the fact that subsidies are still viable and expansion of Medicaid is still in effect? Of course.
 But, Republican conservatives do not want to talk about the underlying importance of subsidies for those who cannot afford the high cost of health insurance because they are too busy trying to defund as many programs as they possibly can that help those with special needs.  Meanwhile, they ignore the enormous amounts of money being extracted from our Tax system to subsidize the rich and the powerful, with absolutely no oversight, regulation or penalties for fraud and waste.    And now, the Donald and his henchmen stand ready to reward these rich welfare kings and queens with further tax breaks that will simply serve to further undermine the middle class tax payer. 
It is perhaps useless to say it, but the bumper sticker mentality of these perpetrators of puerile philosophy and rhetoric is matched only by the Big Lies they use to back up their claims.   Let us stay with the example of their 7-year assault on Obamacare.    In 2012, 2014 and 2016, Republicans used every lie they could manufacture in order to denigrate the ACA, to turn people against it and against Obama and the Democrats, and to win seats in the House, the Senate, and finally in the Oval Office.  They experienced electoral victories that will end up costing us more than can be imagined.  Here are three of the biggest lies about Obamacare that have served Republicans well in their quest for complete control of our governmental apparatus.
1)      Obamacare is collapsing under its own weight – if true:
a.        how come a record number (over 6 million) enrolled during the last enrollment period of  Nov 1, 2016 to Jan. 31, 2017?
b.       how come the House voted to exempt themselves from mandated coverage under the AHCA, leaving them under Obamacare as mandated by that Law?
c.       how come some health insurance companies (Anthem/Cigna and Centeen) are expanding their presence on market exchanges?  Apparently, there is still profit to be made by companies filling the void left by Aetna and HCU.
d.       how come the AMA, the ADA, PNA, and others oppose Trumpcare and the repeal of Obamacare?
e.       How come over 55% of people in Gallup poll (and other polls above 50%) now favor the continuation of Obamacare?
2)      Premiums are rising dramatically   inadequate as a measure of collapse, because:
a.       This isn’t a surprise; it was known from the beginning that it might happen
b.       The original estimates by insurance companies were off in terms of how much their plans would have to charge in order to break even; this involved a miscalculation of how many would be very sick, how many younger healthy people would sign-up and how intensively newly acquired coverage would be utilized.
c.       A back-up mechanism for assisting insurance companies who suffered losses in the beginning was in place until Republicans threw it out in December of 2014.  That action may help explain why premiums had to be raised so drastically, and why some companies have had to withdraw from the market (consult my post of March 7, 2017)
d.    The one item that Republicans refuse to mention is that for those living under poverty guidelines, and others further up the income scale, there are federal subsidies under Obamacare that rise in accordance with the rise in premiums. “87% of people who selected marketplace plans... got financial assistance.  Larry Levitt @larry_levitt Mar 15 On average, ACA marketplace consumers receiving tax credits are literally paying exactly the same this year as last year -- $106 per month   On average, ACA marketplace consumers receiving tax credits are literally paying exactly the same this year as last year -- $106 per month.“ [Larry Levitt, VP of Kaiser Foundation].
3)    States can handle this more effectively than the federal government because they are closer to the people - totally untrue because:
1.    States are struggling just to maintain their own programs because they do not have enough tax revenue.  They may be closer to the people, but they do not have a broad -enough tax base to enable them to spend what is necessary to effectively operate large programs meant to serve all their citizens.  Why is one of the favorite slogans of state governors and legislators “do More with Less”?  Take it from a former 25-year state program director in one of our largest and richest states:  fewer resources leads to one primary result:  doing “Less with Less”!
2.    States are able to function, and to provide services to a relatively large cohort of their citizens primarily because of one thing:  they receive federal money for many of the programs they operate, but state governors and legislators consistently complain that “it is not enough to cover the mandates” of the programs they run on behalf of the federal government. 
Right now, the most vociferous and continuous complaint is in regard to Medicaid, which the states and their sub-divisions (county departments of social services in my state) end up managing.  The states complain they don’t receive enough administrative money to run the mandated Medicaid programs, let alone the ‘waiver’ programs.  Yet the Republicans in Congress want to devolve total responsibility for Medicaid to the states, without adequate money to cover administrative costs that will sky-rocket with such devolvement.  More staff, more local offices, more computers and IT personnel, more field workers, more reports – all of it amounts to one thing:  not enough money allotted to hire enough staff and administrators or to fund enough local social services offices to carry out all the programs and benefits involved.  The result: an inevitable cut in benefits to save money resulting in fewer people covered.  No other result is possible if Trump and the Trumpets in Congress carry forward their proposed cut of almost a trillion dollars ($880 billion) out of Medicaid funds in order to lower the taxes of the richest 1%.  The result:  states will “Do a Lot Less with a Lot Less!”
3.    Federal Subsidies are the key to why Obamacare works for so many millions of uninsured persons. According to obamacarefacts.com, Those subsidies will not be available to enrollees of the ill-conceived Trumpcare.
The poorly-conceived, atrociously-handled and frighteningly-partisan AHCA has done what other actions have not.  People are now seriously taking a look, or asking questions about, how Trumpcare will affect their personal situation.  That is different from a debate about generalized concepts, and introduces an element that cannot be helpful to Republican candidates.  If people perceive that they might be personally harmed by a piece of legislation, they will hold not just their own representative responsible, but blame the Party that is in the majority.  Too bad that very personal evaluative element has so-far failed to enter discussion of other similar kinds of legislation and rule-making.  So let us take a few moments to consider what could be in store, on an individualized-harm basis, in other actions that Trump has in his lethal arsenal.
WAR – no matter how or where you look, Trump has pre-emptive strikes against certain nations on his agenda – in fact, his Secretaries of State and Defense seem to want to remind us that “everything is on the table” – which presumes that nuclear war is not off the table.  Talk about personal harm...!
But even conventional wars bring personal harm to individuals and families – loss of loved ones in battle, the re-instituting of a draft which affects the futures of our young people; prices go up, job growth slows down, wages remain stagnant, and children end up with absent fathers and/or mothers.  And what about outcomes – more suicides of vets, more health issues, more PTSD, more emotional break-downs, more shootings of the innocent by emotionally-disabled people affected by WAR.  Personal consequences of war-mongering are vastly under-estimated.  Get ready to suffer personal hurt and harm...
BUDGET- I’m sorry, but the Trump budget is immoral in its scope of probable harmful outcomes, especially as concerns mothers and children. Here are just a few (for more, consult my Post of 3/21/2017)
·         Denial of funding to Planned Parenthood
·         Loss of Women Infant and Children (WIC) nutrition funds
·         Cut to school brunches and lunches for vulnerable students
·         Loss of Head Start
·         Before and after-school programs cut
·         Interagency Council on Homelessness gone
·         Loss of Foster Grandparent mentoring of children with challenges and special needs 

PUBLIC SCHOOLS- Betsy DeVos is working hard behind the scenes to increase parental choice of school settings.  That’s the line you will regret swallowing.  Secretary DeVos is working to diminish and to destroy public education in this country.  “Choice” is another bumper-sticker slogan standing for something other than what it may imply on the surface.  Choice in radical Republican parlance is a stand-in for private, for-profit education facilities.  DeVos wants to take us back to 18th and 19th century England (and parts of Europe) where private schools run by churches, individual groups representing rich donors, individual former governesses, and families with some educational background, ran schools that charged fees or tuition to their clients.  For any who could not afford to send their children to such private schools, there was a network of charity schools run by benevolent associations, or churches, and finally by the government in 1880.  All of the “leftovers” from society got to “choose” (attend) these “public schools.”
The concept of “greater choice” is a tricky one in Trump-world.  In Trumpcare, it comes down to a choice between choosing to pay for a doctor or medicine or treatment versus buying something to eat or paying the rent.  As to schools and education, it comes down to who you are and what you can afford – a private charter school or “charity” (public) school.    
It is time to begin to judge the efficacy of the Trump administration by a new standard:  how much personal hurt and harm is being caused by their ideology, their policies, their programs, their austerity budgets for 99% of us, their lies, their bumper-sticker mentality, and their attacks on the virtues, values and ideals of democracy, as well as their personal attacks against women and children; AND AGAINST ANYONE WHO DISAGREES WITH THEM?     If they only had a HEART!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

100 Days of Being 'TRUMPED'


In a recent Associated Press Interview, Donald Trump said: “I think the 100 days is, you know, it’s an artificial barrier. It’s not very meaningful.”  However, back in the heat of the campaign for President, Trump said as he released his “Contract with the American Voter”” at an appearance in Gettysburg, PA on October 22, 2016: “What follows is my 100-day action plan to Make America Great Again. It is a contract between myself and the American voter.”

It continued: “On November 8th, Americans will be voting for this 100-day plan to restore prosperity to our economy, security to our communities, and honesty to our government. This is my pledge to you.” In that Plan, within the first 100 days of his administration, he promised to bring about many accomplishments by Executive Order.  So, either the 100 days has some relevance and meaning for his Contract, or it doesn’t.  It did in October of 2016; perhaps now, after an actual 100 days, he is changing his mind, as he often does.  A fact-checker for the AP wrote on April 24th: “Trump has grown dismissive of the 100-day mark, calling it “ridiculous,” and now plays down his manifesto even as he boasts of his achievements. In the AP interview, he appeared to attribute the plan to his campaign staff, saying ‘Somebody, yeah, somebody put out the concept of a 100-day plan’.” 
Fact-checker: “During the campaign, Trump promoted a “100-day action plan” he characterized as “a contract between myself and the American voter — and begins with restoring honesty and accountability, and bringing change to Washington.  The Plan contains ambitious items like “a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress,” cancelling “all federal funding to sanctuary cities, tax reform, and fixing “America’s water and environmental infrastructure.”   Here is a link to a copy of said Plan:  http://citizensjournal.us/trumps-gettysburg-address-100-day-contract-with-the-american-voter/

Here is Trump's – signed! – "100-day action plan"pic.twitter.com/zHQV0o3WPlhttps://pbs.twimg.com/media/C97-2ZbWsAAriCQ.jpgHere is Trump's – signed! – "100-day action plan"pic.twitter.com/zHQV0o3WPlhttps://pbs.twimg.com/media/C97-2ZbWsAAriCQ.jpghttps://pbs.twimg.com/media/C97-2ZbWsAAriCQ.jpghttps://pbs.twimg.com/media/C97-2ZbWsAAriCQ.jpg The 100 days is an artificial measure of accomplishment, no doubt.  But it is a measure, and he himself invested that measure with a high degree of meaning and consequence when he touted his Contract with the American Voter at Gettysburg.  It is also a presidential tradition, now accepted as standard practice, as is the releasing of candidate tax returns so that the public can judge what manner of economic stewards are vying for the highest office in the land.  However, Mr. Trump seems to have difficulty knowing, remembering, or caring about what other presidents have done or accomplished.  His disdain for history and tradition – and even for consistency of democratic ideals, beliefs and values -- shows forth in so many ways.
The fact-checker, Aaron Rupar, has this to say about The Donald’s claim to have accomplished more than any president in the first ninety days: “Trump hasn’t shepherded a major piece of legislation through Congress, despite the fact his party controls both chambers. His second attempt at a Muslim ban executive order was blocked by a federal court. The Affordable Care Act repeal/replace package Congress considered last month had a 17 percent approval rating and didn’t go anywhere. The new package that’s in the works will make premiums spike for people with pre-existing conditions and hence will likely be just as unpopular.” 
For your information, here is an overview of each of Trump's orders (based on several News sources including NBC, CBS, Fox)

1. Executive Order Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Signed: Jan. 20, 2017   Hours after being sworn in, Trump signed an executive order aimed at reversing the Affordable Care Act. It instructs the secretary of health and human services and other agency heads to "waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation" of any part of the law that places a fiscal burden on the government, businesses or individuals.

2. Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals for High-Priority Infrastructure Projects
Outlines how the administration will expedite environmental reviews and approval of "high priority" infrastructure projects,  and directs the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), within 30 days of a request, to determine a project's environmental impact and decide whether it is "high priority." Review deadlines are to be put in place by the CEQ's chairman.
3. Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States
Outlines changes to a few immigration policies, but most notably strips federal grant money to so-called sanctuary cities. In addition, the secretary of homeland security is ordered to hire 10,000 more immigration officers, create a publicly available weekly list of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants and review previous immigration policies. The order also creates an office to assist the victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants and calls on local and state police to detain or apprehend people in the United States illegally.
4. Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements
Directs federal funding to construction of a wall along the Mexico-U.S. border, instructs the secretary of homeland security to prepare congressional budget requests for the wall and to "end the abuse of parole and asylum provisions" that complicate the removal of undocumented immigrants. Calls for hiring 5,000 more Border Patrol agents, building facilities to hold undocumented immigrants near the Mexican border and ending "catch-and-release" protocols by which undocumented immigrants are not detained while they await court hearings.
5. Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States
Suspends the entry of immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries — Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Yemen and Somalia — for 90 days and stops all refugees from entering the country for 120 days. Syrian refugees are banned indefinitely. During the time of the ban, the secretary of homeland security and secretary of state will review and revise the refugee admission process. Also in the order is the suspension of Obama's 2012 Visa Interview Waiver Program, which allowed frequent U.S. tourists to bypass the visa interview process.
6. Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Appointees
Stops all executive branch officials from lobbying for five years after they leave office and places a lifetime ban on lobbying a foreign government. The order enacts a number of other lobbying restrictions, including, banning appointees from accepting gifts from registered lobbyists and banning appointees who were lobbyists from participating in any issues they petitioned for within the last two years.
7. Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs
States that executive departments and agencies must slash two regulations for every one new regulation proposed. Regulation spending cannot exceed $0, and any costs associated with regulations must be offset with eliminations. The order also directs the head of each agency to keep records of the cost savings, to be sent to the president.
8. Core Principles for Regulating the United States Financial System
Lays out the administration's "Core Principles" regarding the U.S. financial system, including:
  • Making regulation "efficient, effective and appropriately tailored"
  • Preventing government bailouts
  • Ensuring that U.S. firms are competitive with foreign companies
Directs the treasury secretary to review financial regulations and report back to the president 120 days later with a determination of whether current policies promote the "Core Principles."
9. Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety
Directs Attorney General Jeff Sessions to create a task force that would propose new legislation to reduce crime, highlighting drug trafficking, illegal immigration and violent crime. The task force will submit yearly reports to the president.
10. Preventing Violence Against Federal, State, Tribal, and Local Law Enforcement Officers
Calls on the Justice Department to "enhance the protection and safety" of law enforcement by increasing penalties for crimes committed against officers. The AG is also instructed to review and determine whether existing federal laws adequately protect law enforcement and to propose legislation to better protect officers. The order directs the Justice Department to recommend changes in federal grant funding to law enforcement programs if they do not protect officers.
11. Enforcing Federal Law with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking
Outlines the administration's approach to cutting down on organized crime — including gangs, cartels and racketeering organizations — by enhancing cooperation with foreign governments and the ways in which federal agencies share information and data. Identifies human trafficking, drug smuggling, financial crimes, cyber-crime and corruption as "a threat to public safety and national security."  The Threat Mitigation National Intelligence will review and recommend changes to federal agencies' practices in a report to be delivered to the president within 120 days.
12. Providing an Order of Succession Within the Department of Justice
Two weeks after Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, this order changed the order of succession for Sessions, who won approval as attorney general. The sequence is: the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois and the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri.
13. Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda
Each agency must designate an official as its Regulatory Reform Officer (RRO), who will be responsible for reviewing current regulations and making recommendations to the agency head on how to modify them, honing in on certain regulations, such as those that are outdated or are perceived to curtail job creation.
14. Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the "Waters of the U.S." Rule
Calls on federal agencies to revise or eliminate a regulation put in place by former president Barack Obama called the Clean Water Rule. Signed in 2015, that rule expanded the number of bodies of water protected by the federal government to include streams, ponds and smaller waterways. Directs the administrator of the EPA and the assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works to review the rule and propose a new one that either eliminates or revises Obama's rule.
The League of Conservation Voters slammed the move:  "This executive order is about one thing: protecting polluters at the expense of our communities and their access to clean drinking water."
15. White House Initiative to Promote Excellence and Innovation at Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Transfers White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (WHHBCU) from the Department of Education to the Executive Office of the President. Trump met with dozens of HBCU presidents the day prior for a listening session, which many students and college leaders were quick to protest out of skepticism that the president was using the meeting as a PR stunt.
16. Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the U.S.
Revises Trump's original U.S. immigration ban, which was hit with dozens of lawsuits shortly after being signed in February and blocked by a federal judge in Washington state.  Iraq was removed from the list after the Iraqi government said it would increase information sharing with the United States. Like first Order, this was held up by a Federal judge.
17. Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch
Assigns the Office of Management and Budget director to propose a plan to "reorganize governmental functions and eliminate unnecessary agencies" in an effort to cut down on federal spending and improve "efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of that agency." Within 180 days, the heads of select agencies must submit individual plans to director Mulvaney, who will have another 180 days to send a plan to the president.  
18. The Revocation of Federal Contracting Executive Orders
Revokes key components of the Obama administration's previous order banning federal contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or identity. Gay rights advocates say the Executive Order hobbles several of Obama's previous orders by revoking the requirement that companies seeking federal contracts prove they've complied with federal laws banning discrimination based on sexual identity or orientation.
19. Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth
Directs the EPA to review another executive order, called the Clean Power Plan, signed by Barack Obama in 2014, which aimed to reduce carbon pollution from power plants, but was halted by the Supreme Court in 2016. Trump's new order also asks agencies to review any regulations that could "potentially burden the development or use" of oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy resources.” Within 180 days, the agencies must submit reports to the Office of Management and Budget, which will take action to eliminate regulations.
20. Establishing the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis
Creates the "Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and Opioid Crisis," which will study the federal government's effectiveness in fighting drug addiction by reviewing funding levels, accessibility of treatment services, prescription practices and youth educational message, and report to the president within 90 days. Trump appointed Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey as commission head.
21. Omnibus Report on Significant Trade Deficits
Directs the Commerce Department and U.S. Trade Representative to compile a report on trade practices that contribute to the trade deficit. The report will look at each of America's trade partners.  Forms of discrimination the report will assess include non-tariff barriers, anti-dumping and intellectual property theft. Within 90 days, the report will be sent to the White House.  
22. Establishing Enhanced Collection and Enforcement of Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Duties and Violations of Trade and Customs Law
Directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop a plan within 90 days to combat two types of non-trade barriers placed against the U.S.: anti-dumping and countervailing duties. Also directs the DHS Secretary and Treasury Secretary to step up seizure of counterfeit goods and protect American companies from intellectual property right infringement. of Form

24. 23. “Buy American, Hire American"
 The "Hire American" portion of the bill targets the H-1B visa program, which allows businesses to hire high-skilled workers from outside the U.S., by putting less emphasis on the lottery system used to determine which companies can sponsor visas. The "Buy American" portion directs agencies to tighten rules that give priority to U.S. companies when hiring contractors or purchasing goods. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross must submit a review of "Buy American" loopholes within 220 days.

 Signed: April 21, 2017
 Secretary of the Treasury shall immediately review all significant tax regulations issued by the Department of the Treasury on or after January 1, 2016;  and, in consultation with the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs and OMB, identify in an interim report to the President all such regulations that:
(i)    impose an undue financial burden on United States taxpayers; (ii)   add undue complexity to the Federal tax laws; or (iii) exceed the statutory authority of the Internal Revenue Service.
The Secretary shall prepare and submit a report to the President within 150 days that recommends specific actions to mitigate the burden imposed by regulations identified in the interim report. 
25.  Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America
Creates a task force, led by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, that will identify policy options to promote U.S. agriculture business and job growth in rural America. The task force must submit a report to Trump within 180 days.
26.  Review of Designations Under the Antiquities Act
Directs the Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke to review federal monument designations — including national parks — made since 1996 that cover more than 100,000 acres of land. Under the 1906 Antiquities Act, presidents have the power to protect land.  EO names one national monument designation in particular: Obama's 1.35 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. Zinke must submit a report to Trump within 45 days.
27. Enforcing Statutory Prohibitions on Federal Control of Education
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is directed to study federal overreach in local and state education systems.  As a strong advocate for charter schools, DeVos will determine within 300 days whether federal education regulations take control away from states in areas such as curriculum, school administration and textbook or library content.
28. Veteran’s Administration
Signed: April 27, 2017
 Sets up a special office to improve accountability at the VA and protect whistleblowers.  EO creates a new VA office to identify poorly performing employees (related to a scandal that engulfed the VA when poor hospital treatment and long wait times for care were uncovered). Trump and the VA director praised the signing as a step toward increasing accountability in the agency.
29.  Off-Shore Drilling
Signed:  April 27, 2017
Reverses President Obama’s December decision to remove most of the Arctic Ocean from the federal drilling program which would have blocked drilling in the Arctic for years to come.  Will also review the Obama administration’s five-year drilling plan, finalized in November, that restricts lease sales for new drilling to only the Gulf of Mexico and waters off south-central Alaska. Regulators will also reconsider government regulations on activities like seismic testing and will review decisions within the last 10 years to create offshore marine monuments and sanctuaries; reviewing the five-year plan is a lengthy process that Zinke predicted could take about two years. 
30.  Review of Trade Agreements
Signed: April 29, 2017
 
At this juncture, it is important to understand some important characteristics about Executive Orders (from Wikipedia and Venable.com): “Historically, executive orders related to routine administrative matters and to the internal operations of federal agencies, such as amending Civil Service Rules and overseeing the administration of public lands. More recently, presidents have used executive orders to carry out legislative policies and programs. As a result, the executive order has become a critical tool in presidential policy making. For example, President John F. Kennedy used an executive order to eliminate racial discrimination in federally funded housing.” 
  • They are orders issued by United States Presidents, usually directed towards officers and agencies of the Federal government; White House staff  work with the agency heads to ensure that they comply with the President's wishes. Moreover, there are some EOs that implement authority delegated directly to the President by Congress. Unlike the "politically enforceable" EOs mentioned above, the Trump White House would have to comply with any requirements under such a statute before issuing an order.
  • Have the full force of law, based on the authority derived from statute or the Constitution itself
  • The ability to make such orders is based on express or implied Acts of Congress that delegate to the President some degree of discretionary power (delegated legislation)
  • Executive orders are subject to judicial review and may be overturned if the orders lack support by statute or the Constitution

  • Major policy initiatives require approval by the legislative branch, but executive orders have significant influence over the internal affairs of government, deciding how and to what degree legislation will be enforced, dealing with emergencies, waging wars, and in general fine-tuning policy choices in the implementation of broad statutes.
  • The President can sign, revoke, or choose not to enforce or defend Executive Orders
  • Most EOs are directed to the heads of Executive agencies. Essentially, they are statements of the President's policy priorities, expressed in the most formal manner possible. As a result, they are only "politically enforceable" by the President against his appointees
  • What usually matters most is not the issuance of the Order but the actions taken by the agencies under the authority granted by their organic statutes to implement the President's policies set forth in an EO
  • Always keep in mind that there may be a significant delay between an EO from the White House and concrete implementation in the form of final agency rules.
  • While the country should expect the new administration to continue to issue executive orders, it should not conclude that each EO will result in a "sea" change.” 
What more did Donald Trump do during his first 100 days?  Not much, if you believe the progressive critics and major polls.  In an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Sunday, 53 percent of those surveyed disapprove of Trump's performance as president, and 56 percent say he's accomplished little or nothing in his first 100 days.” 
Before buying-in completely to such poll results, we must consider what happened in the last election, and that his followers are not buying this assessment at all.  They want to give him more time; they want to emphasize his strong positions taken, particularly in relation to foreign affairs.  They are proud that he is an authoritarian leader, tending to put other nations on notice that America is the strongest military power on this earth.  They are content to believe that the Donald has put America first, and that he is making America great again.
The other more progressive critics are pointing out his lack of leadership on major legislation, and his inability to get some things he wants done – like immigration bans and repeal of Obamacare. They tend to give him a failing grade in both domestic and foreign policy. 
But I want to conclude on a slightly different note, as I often do, because I believe his performance during these first 100 days indicates more about him (and his followers perhaps) than about his policies.   These EOs reveal several fundamental truths about Donald Trump which we ignore at our own peril:
.      He believes strongly that the way to get things done is to issue orders to underlings, to:

a.      Make it plain who is in charge
b.      Put the burden of producing results on someone else
c.      Leave open the option of being able to blame the underlings for any failures that may result
d.      Produce a product that can be discarded if necessary because of the time lapse between order and completion
2.      Unfortunately, he apparently believes that he can govern without the strong participation of the legislative branch of government
a.      This is an obvious clue to the authoritarian mind of Donald Trump
b.      Coming from the real estate development business, he obviously doesn’t believe in deal-making or price-setting or selling or contracting by committee; it all depends on the mind and the actions of the man in charge
3.      Donald Trump does not wish to be held in check by the Congress; that is not his way to conduct business.  Thus, he has gone beyond the limits of existing statutes and constitutional authority:
a.      setting bans on immigrants,
b.      limiting free speech, not only by silencing protestors at his rallies, but by eliminating an Obama order banning federal contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or identity.
c.      Proposing limits on access to all levels of internet service and proposing greater surveillance of people use of the internet
4.      It is quite clear that Trump thinks issuing orders is equivalent to accomplishing something; otherwise, how could he possibly claim to have accomplished more in his first ninety days (now 100) than has been accomplished by other modern-era presidents?  Let’s take another look at those EOs:
a.      Over two-thirds of the EOs require some sort of report, recommendations or decision before implementation can even begin to happen
b.      Periods for reporting or recommending vary from 45 days to 2 years.
c.      Many of the agencies being ordered to report or act, don’t even have the leadership personnel hired or appointed to carry out such orders
d.      How many reports or recommendations are stored in vaults somewhere un-read, un-remembered and un-cared-about?  Your guess is as good as mine, but I venture to say it adds up into the thousands! 
e.      Follow-up by Trump staff is of monumental importance in getting these EOs to their final destination where something of substantial import happens; their track record so far does not promise good results
5.      One of the items of importance that has no apparent backing or appearance is any follow-up with the public to let citizens know what progress is being made on the implementation of any of these Orders.  We hear a lot about proposed legislation on healthcare, immigration, tax reform, and the wall, but what will we hear about all these lesser EOs – little or nothing is my guess.
6.      Finally, Trump himself, has slammed the use of executive orders as an example of weak leadership and inability to work with Congress, and most of that criticism was directed at a president who had Republican majorities in Congress opposing him.  On CBS’s “Face the Nation” in August 2015, Trump said: “I don’t like executive orders. That is not what the country was based on.”  
His orders say a lot about how Trump wishes to govern: not by doing the hard work of constructing legislation to present to Congress, then working with Congress to amend or strengthen that legislation, support committee work without prejudicing the outcome, and help bring together bi-partisan coalitions to work on producing what is best for most of the People.  This is known in some circles as “how to govern.”  There is more to it, but even this small summary serves to illustrate the profound lack of governing skills that this administration exhibits or possesses.   Trump would rather issue Orders and call them accomplishments, even if they never materialize into full-blown actions that might benefit the nation and its People.

Thank goodness the first 100 days are over.  That brings us 100 days closer to the time we can rid ourselves of this blight on our democracy!