Category Archives: international relations

Subversion of Purpose: Subversion of Country

When I began this blog a little over two years ago (yes, this is entry #104), I stated its main purpose as a literary one. Partly it was to flack my own writing, and partly it was to discuss writing, publishing, and culture in general. The turn taken since then in national politics, however, has led me to write much more about social and political trends and, in particular in recent times, my concerns over the willfully ignorant, bullying, narcissistic, misogynistic, science denying, and generally incompetent Neanderthal who now occupies the White House. Oh, and his coterie of fellow moral degenerates, ignoramuses, and incompetents.

It seems as if we are being assaulted on a daily basis with mean-spirited and potentially dangerous actions and pronouncements of this group of evil clowns, and there is little evidence that anyone has either the courage or the wherewithal to bring them to heel. Of equal and even greater concern is the fact that the extremism of the administration has served to unmask the true nature of the more extended Republican mindset and the heretofore somewhat repressed racism and religious bigotry of much of the American public, some 35% of which (as of today) remains solidly behind Trump and the Republicans.

What is the ugliness that has been set free upon us? The spectrum, unfortunately, is a broad one. Here are a few elements of the current American deconstruction.  The list is far from complete, as new ones appear every day and some that we aren’t even learning about until well beyond the tweets and Executive Orders:

  • The Trump-Ryan American Health Care bill: This, of course, was a doozy. Trump probably never read the bill, of course, since he doesn’t like to read. And so, while promising “terrific” health care for everyone, he backed a bill written by Speaker Ryan that would kick 14 million souls off the insurance roll within a year, and 24 million within ten years. When it appeared that it would fail because of the no votes of the wildly misnamed “Freedom Caucus” (29 angry white males) and some moderate Republicans, the proponents offered to make it better. How? By attacking such things as pre-existing condition coverage and the creation of an excluded diagnosis list. Yes, terrific for everyone. In the end, of course, it didn’t please anyone. It wasn’t mean enough for the Freedom guys and it wasn’t generous enough for the moderates or, of course, the Democrats. Trump tried to blame Democrats, in part, for the failure of passage. But, then, maybe he forgot that the Democrats already have a health care bill, the ACA (Obamacare). Now, Trump has hinted that he might actually try to sabotage the ACA in order to get what he really wants.
  • The Trump immigration ban: The first attempt was blocked by a judge, as was the “improved” bill. Several aspects of this are quite noteworthy. First, the original seven countries, all predominantly Muslim, have no Trump business interests. Other predominantly Muslim countries in the region do and, of course, were left off the list. Second, the ban was overtly religious in nature and therefore in violation of the first amendment. Put simply, you can’t ban a whole religion for no reason other than pure bigotry. Third, the original ban was written so poorly, was so sloppy, that it banned people with legitimate visas and green cards from entering the country. Duh. Fourth, there was no evidence that the ban would do anything to prevent acts of domestic terrorism. The U.S. already conducts extensive vetting activities, and immigration is limited to those who can and do pass careful review. Furthermore, it is simply unreasonable to impose a blanket ban upon a group of people because some lone terrorist might be among them. And, in case Trump hasn’t noticed, there have been no terrorist acts committed in the U.S. by immigrants from any of the initial seven banned countries.
  • Trump’s appointments: What the hell is it with Trump’s appointments? Flynn is out as the first casualty of the Russian affair. Bannon was just pulled from his seat on the National Security Council because, the administration says, he’s no longer needed there to oversee Flynn. Wait a minute. Trump put someone on the NSC that he didn’t trust? Yikes!!! And now Bannon is apparently pissed over being pulled, so maybe Flynn’s departure wasn’t the real reason Bannon was yanked. Will we ever know? Not from Trump, and certainly not from Spicer, who’s got about as much credibility as Trump, himself, being as he is Trump’s ass-kissing lackey. And then there’s Rick Perry. I don’t even know what to say about this guy, who wanted to get rid of the agency he now heads and, as it turns out, had no idea of what the agency actually does. Ben Carson for HUD Secretary? The man who thinks the pyramids were built as grain storage facilities? And this man was a practicing brain surgeon. Maybe he was just on a career search for his own.
  • And speaking of appointments, there’s perhaps the biggest doozy of all: Betsy DeVos, a person so ignorant about education that she’s both horrifying and a laughingstock among everyone except religious nuts, those who oppose the fundamental American value placed upon public education, and those who don’t actually think guns in classrooms are necessary for the prevention of bear attacks. DeVos is the Church Lady from Saturday Night Live, except that she’s frightening instead of funny. Now, isn’t that special? (My apologies to Dana Carvey.)
  • And, although the list could go on and on, say, to deal with efforts to kill the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, build the “beautiful” wall, the wiretapping allegation against former President Obama, and more, we shouldn’t leave out foreign relations: Russian hacking, North Korean nuclear saber rattling, relations with China, issues surrounding the administration’s attitude toward NATO… It’s never-ending, and too much to get into in this piece.

So, I’ll bring it to a close with a few questions. When is enough going cross into too much? When will the conflicts of interest, the lying and the gross incompetence lead either to impeachment or removal through the 25th amendment. When will the Republicans grow a set and realize that they’ve become the party of angry, mean-spirited, and bigoted tolerance? When will they have the courage to take action against a demagogue? And when will American citizens finally stand up and say we’re angry and depressed, and revolted by what we see, and we’re not going to take it anymore?

NOTE: As I was finishing writing the entry above, the airfield attack with Tomahawk missiles ordered by President Trump was being carried out. As some toadying politicians of both parties congratulated him for his bold action, others, including myself, were not so thrilled. What the President did was unconstitutional. The constitution does not permit the President to initiate an act of war against a foreign government and, especially, one posing no immediate threat to the safety and security of the United States. What President Dumpkof should have done was seek authorization from Congress for the action. The precedent set by his failure to do so, one that reeks of power-mad dictatorship, is horrifying. If the President can do this, what other country might he, on his own and without advice and consent, attack? What weapons might he unleash without restraint? And yet even more questions present themselves. Why did the Generals proceed with implementation of a clearly illegal order? Are we facing the unholy alliance of a dictator with the military? And what is to be said of a Congress that is not only complicit in its own developing impotence, but is even cheering its support as it is being thrust into irrelevancy?

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Where, Oh Where, Do We Begin?

It’s been less than two weeks and it’s already hard to know where to begin. The irrational, executive order on immigration and refugees? The firing of Acting Attorney General Sally Yates (instantly making her a martyr), the firing of the ICE Director, the directive to start building the wall, threatening to send U.S. troops into Mexico, hanging up on the Australian Prime Minister? Well, these among other travesties and incompetent acts are all worthy of discussion, but for now I’d like to say a few words about President Lout’s appointment of the man likely to be our newest Supreme Court Justice, Neil Gorsuch.

First, a bit of review. In the presence of a vacancy on the Court, it is the Constitutional duty of the President to make a nomination, following which it is the responsibility of the Judicial Committee of the Senate to vet the nominee and of the full Senate to confirm or not confirm the nominee, as the case may be.

In the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s unexpected death last year, President Obama fulfilled his Constitutional duty by nominating Judge Merrick Garland, a universally respected, highly qualified, moderate jurist to take the deceased Scalia’s seat on the Court. Senator Mitch McConnell, aka “The Turtle”, vowed that no nomination made in the final year of President Obama’s term of office would receive any consideration by the Judicial Committee. In doing so, he excused his raw and unconstitutional action by citing what he called the “Biden rule”, a nonexistent rule based solely upon something Joseph Biden said several years ago but having no basis in legislative law. McConnell. thus laid the groundwork blocking any fair and required action on the nomination. This disgraceful act resulted in the theft of the nomination from President Obama, and left the Court one justice short of its normal complement of nine individuals. The Court responded by failing to take on a number of cases that it otherwise might have considered.

So now, Presidential Lout, fulfilling a campaign promise to pick someone acceptable to the far and evangelical right, has nominated an extreme conservative to fill the empty slot, and Republicans are gloating over their unconstitutional triumph. Worse, it should be noted that the Lout’s gang is accusing Democrats of being obstructive by threatening to filibuster the nomination. This, of course, is utter hypocrisy given prior Republican behavior.

It seems inevitable that Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed, although the Democrats may be able to delay confirmation to some minimal extent. But I do believe that an additional protest is warranted. I suggest that when the roll is called for confirmation, EVERY DEMOCRAT SHOULD, INSTEAD OF VOTING “NO” OR BOYCOTTING THE VOTE, LOUDLY PROCLAIM A VOICE A VOTE FOR MERRICK GARLAND. This will do nothing to change the outcome, but at least it will get the attention of the public and remind everyone of the disgusting and obstructive behavior of Senate Majority Leader Turtle and his cohorts in governmental crime.

As a final comment regarding Neil Gorsuch, there are those who have suggested that the Lout might not be getting quite what he is expecting with the appointment. Gorsuch is a strict constructionist, yes, and a far right conservative, yes, and takes a radical view of religious rights (the Hobby Lobby decision) and, consequently, is no friend of women’s rights, but because of his belief in strict adherence to established principles embodied within the Constitution and legislation, there is a glimmer of hope that he at least will not mindlessly support the wild decrees of the Lout. If true, this would be at least one positive in what so far seems an abysmal turn of affairs in our beloved country. Not enough to justify, in my mind, his confirmation to the Supreme Court, but the simple fact is that he will be confirmed, so we need to take whatever small hope there may be that he won’t be the disaster we’re nevertheless expecting.