Publius Speaks

Publius Speaks
Become A Follower

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.