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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!