[Note from Steve: Lots of mini-comments, mostly related to Mr. Trump. Don’t worry—I’m not responding to every tweet!]
Welcome to fascist America! That’s what needs to be on the Statue of Liberty now, thanks to Il Duce Trump’s most recent executive order which led to the detainment of Muslim travelers in the nation’s airports. This decree from a small-minded and arrogant SOB is as unconstitutional as it is unconscionable and represents a blatant pandering to his bigoted and hateful followers.
In the dragnet, Muslims who have helped the U.S. military, CIA, and state department in their fight against terrorism, Muslims who are war refugees who have legal visas after 2+ years of extreme vetting, parents visiting their children in the U.S. who have visited them many times before, and others were detained, some forced to sign papers allowing DHS to return them to their place of origin, action which mostly likely puts their lives in danger at the hands of the true terrorists. Others are left in limbo with no place to call home. Still others who have already immigrated and are contributing here in America shouldn’t leave the country, even to Canada, for fear of not being able to return. The stay granted by a federal judge in Brooklyn seems to affect only green card holders. That’s not enough!
What’s next? Muslim-Americans being required to wear crescent patches? Internment camps? Goose-stepping troops marching down Pennsylvania Avenue and in front of Trump Tower? The parallels with 1930’s Germany are scary!
“Build the Wall!” Trump’s campaign slogan is a sophism. Most claims coming out of his big mouth are sophisms. His executive orders are sophisms and carefully worded to hide his administrations racism and bigotry. American taxpayers will have to build the wall, not Mexico. Illegal immigrants will tunnel around it or come in on temporary visas, as the majority already do, most staying as good workers who do jobs Americans won’t do, raise their children to be responsible members of immigrant America, and stay out of trouble. The wall will do nothing more than another pandering to Trump’s bigoted and hateful supporters.
America’s greatness lies in its immigrant tradition. Building the wall is the least intelligent thing we can do for immigration reform. And intelligent people know that. The president of Mexico knows that, which is why he blew Mr. Trump off, among other reasons. Why waste time talking to a psycho?
Europe’s turn to the right. French and German progressives and many others are feeling the heat. Mr. Trump was the first, but he might not be the last as the world turns to right-wing demagogues. now called “populists” in the new doublespeak (see the next item). I’m the first to acknowledge that conservatism has its place—change for change’s sake can never be a sound governmental policy. Every action has at least one reaction and careful consideration must be given to whether a policy change will create unintended consequences and have negative impacts—that requires logic and reason driving careful analysis, not ideological and illogical rants.
I’m always worried about extremes. Politics is topologically equivalent to a circle. Extreme far-right and extreme far-left policies can both lead to corruption, loss of human rights, and aggressive fascism—Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union approached that point on the circle from two different directions. We saw this many times in the 20th century; we’re seeing it again in the 21st century with Trump leading the charge. Extremes are bad. Instead of carving up the world into warring tribes, let’s make the whole world just one tribe of human beings concerned about making the world better for everyone, not just some. And let’s end the rancor, bigotry, and hatred that’s been so self-destructive from the local level up to groups of nations.
Talking about post-election fall-out… One of the few women among Trump’s supporters making it into the White House as consultant, Kellyanne Conway, put her foot in her mouth when she talked about “alternative facts.” I wasn’t the only one who recalled the Nazi propaganda machine run by Goebbels and the doublespeak tactics portrayed in Orwell’s 1984. That dystopian novel is experiencing skyrocketing sales, nationally and beyond, so much so that the publisher is printing more copies. I’m sure they’re thanking Kellyanne for generating new book sales for the classic. If Trump ever reads it, will he think he’s reading about himself? The slogan “Make America Great Again” is just doublespeak for “Welcome to the New Dystopian Society,” of course! And “All pigs are created equal, but some are more equal than others,” from Orwell’s Animal Farm is about the best description of Trump’s cabinet that we have!
Numbers game. Mr. Trump should have been an actuary or bookie—he always seems obsessed with numbers. He’s still insisting that HRC only won the popular vote because of rampant voter fraud. Will someone in D.C. tell this petty and narcissistic little man to STF up? Instead of getting on with the job, he shot salvoes at the press, accusing them of minimizing the number of people in his inaugural crowd. Someone made an A-B comparison of photos of identical scenes taking at identical times (OK, two minutes different) of A = Mr. Obama’s first inaugural crowd (approx.. 1.2 million) v. B = Mr. Trump’s inaugural crowd (approx. 250 k). Who cares?
Obviously petty and small-minded Mr. Trump does. He berated the press at the CIA, completely ruining any message of reconciliation and made two false claims there—his crowd was bigger and he’d never dissed the CIA. His press secretary refused questions in his first meet with the press corps and further berated them. His ex-campaign manager and now “White House consultant” (reward her with something?) spoke of his “alternative facts.” This administration’s rhetoric is starting to sound like Goebbels’ doublespeak when he was running the Nazi propaganda machine. Or am I just imagining the parallel? Or 1984? (See previous item.) That Breit Bart fellow has stated that “the media is the opposition.” Guess when the media looks for the truth, it’s the enemy; and when it’s just propaganda, it’s a case of “alternative facts.”
Women’s March on Washington. Yeah, maybe it wasn’t just the A-B comparison mentioned above—seeing this crowd in D.C. larger than his inaugural crowd probably rankled our new president too. Numbers, numbers. And it wasn’t just there. All around the country and throughout the world people marched about civil rights because women’s rights are human rights. While the speakers and agenda weren’t focused, that only speaks to the many complex issues people are concerned about. Will Mr. Trump hear their voices?
One sign forecast the future: “Donald J. Trump Will Lie About This.” Oh, sorry, we call them “alternate facts” now, not lies (the sign’s designer wasn’t aware of the new doublespeak). Another sign was pithy too: “IKEA Makes Better Cabinets.” While I have few problems with Mr. Trump’s SecDef (I’d rather have a civilian, but I trust the old, crusty Marine more than other potential choices, and more than Mr. Trump as far as nukes go), the other nominees are rich billionaires and/or incompetent hacks. SecEd, HUD, and Energy, to name a few, have zero qualifications for their positions. Treasury is tight with Wall Street and conveniently forgot a $100 million in his disclosures. SecState sees the world with Exxon/Mobil eyes and is in a bromance with Putin. (Many in Trump’s own party don’t like that the “evil empire” has suddenly become Trump’s best friend. Are you surprised Rubio caved?) The AG is a racist old prune. The UN Rep is way out of her league too. Etc.
The pro-life march that followed the following Friday, on the other hand, was a bust. These right-wingnuts are emboldened by Trump’s demagoguery, of course. Trump didn’t show, but Pence was there. Maybe Pence is the far-right crazy man who’s pulling Trump’s puppet strings along with the Breit Bart guy?
The most qualified nominee? As if the above isn’t enough (politics and U.S. post-election chaos), Price is Trump’s nominee for SecHHS. This is the man who voted for legislation that would make his stock more valuable. He’s also the jerk who’s been forever gunning for Medicare. He’s an ex-surgeon, so, in a sense, he’s maybe the most qualified in Trump’s cabinet outside of SecDef. That won’t help average Americans as he leads the charge against government health programs. I wonder if all those Florida retirees will have second thoughts about Mr. Trump when his hit man Price ends or radically changes Medicare to their detriment. Maybe a lot of other people too. (See last week’s post “Accessible Does Not Mean Affordable.”)
Speaking of healthcare… “End the regulations and let capitalism run uncontrolled” seems to be the mantra of the Trump administration. Mr. Trump promised a gang of one-percenter CEOs that he was going to end 75% or more of the regulations (more suspicious numbers from Il Duce). It’s not clear which ones he’ll end, but you can bet his actions will make U.S. citizens and this country less safe. This is nowhere more true than with healthcare. Remember, capitalism doesn’t have a social conscience. The for-profit healthcare system that satisfies the greed of insurance companies and Big Pharma is capitalism’s most evil manifestation.
FBI director stays on. The new director of the FBI is the old one. Those Dems still blaming Comey for their losing the election need to see a shrink. Others are asking why go after HRC and not Trump because his people are being investigated for Russian connections. Sorry, not the same thing. HRC appeared before a congressional committee; Trump hadn’t. All the files on Weiner’s laptop had to be scrutinized. (Hey, did anyone ever wonder why the pervert had these files on his laptop? Sounds like a national security breach if you ask me: Anthony could have been blackmailed to disclose top secret info!) Comey felt that he had to report back to that committee. He did.
If any scandal added to HRC’s defeat, it has to be the DNC’s conspiracy led by Wasserman-Schultz. Voters seeing her demise at the beginning of the Dems’ convention made this author say, “I told you so,” but it probably confirmed many voters’ opinions that the Dem establishment is a sleazy and chaotic mess. It’s time for some real progressives to either take over the party or create a strong, viable alternative.
Term limits and age limits. This is how to clear out the deadwood. The presidency has the former, not the latter, and Trump is clearly out of touch and headed for the rest home. (So were HRC and Sanders, for that matter.) We need new blood. Senators and reps shouldn’t have a lifetime in their respective positions (age and term limits would eliminate the effect of gerrymandering to a large degree). Of course, old senators like Trump’s AG nominee are probably more current than the judges on the Supreme Court. Both institutions are as bad as the Vatican. “Wisdom” in religion and politics is often too much like minimal understanding of current issues, or even worse, senility.
State and Local
Blackmailing America’s Cities. NYC, in particular…and many others. Trump’s other executive order about immigration promising to eliminate federal funding for cities whose police forces don’t report illegal immigrants to ICE is nothing more than federal government blackmail. Immigration control is federal, not state or local. This will probably go to the Supreme Court where Trump will lose “big league”; SCOTUS already has a precedent.
Meanwhile, innocent immigrants–apparently even legal ones?– will have to go into hiding and not corporate with local law enforcement, and cities like NYC will not have the funding needed to combat crime and terrorism (true terrorism, not Trump’s). It’s ironic that Trump threatened to send the Feds to Chicago—a step to form a Gestapo for the Trump Reich?
My suggestion for mayors and local police forces is not to collaborate with the Feds at all if Il Duce continues these tactics. They’re as sophistic as the wall and those in his other executive orders. Maybe the country would be better served if we built a wall around the White House?
Think NJ is a “blue state”? MA, NY, NJ, and other states painted “blue” have a lot of red, so much so they can trend to purple, as they did in the Midwest, giving Trump his victory. There might be more bigotry and hatred in the red states, but NJ has its share–I hear it everyday. FYI, Kellyanne Conway is from NJ! Good thing she didn’t work for Chris Christie! Would he be a better president than Trump? He ran against Trump and then tried to weasel his way into the AG position. This is one of the few times that Trump did the right thing. Or maybe not? Debatable whether the man can do anything right, and his current AG is a racist!
Super Bowl 2017. (2/5/2017, 6:30 p.m., Fox) I’m not a fan of Roman numerals, so that’s what I call this annual display of sporting exuberance and commercial excess. Some people have parties watching it (pizza and beer sales skyrocket and birthrates increase nine months later). Some people just watch it for the halftime show. Pro football’s gladiators will do battle and some will be seriously injured. Caesar (Goodell) might even be there in the arena to give a thumb up or down, although he’s been doing the thumb-down for one of the participants for two seasons, leading the hate-and-jealousy attack against a successful franchise.
That participant and its opponent will try to make the spectacle not about the nastiness at the NFL’s upper echelons (punishments without fair trials, ignoring concussions far too long, allowing incompetents to officiate, and so forth), or amongst the fandom of small-minded people, or amongst the media who tout this as a grudge match between Goodell and a Hall of Fame-bound QB, but about a sport that, in spite of Mr. Brady’s and Mr. Ryan’s obvious QB skills, is still about teamwork. Like all team sports, one woman or man can’t do it all alone.
You can be assured that both these teams deserve to win. Only one will. Let’s watch some great football and forget about worthless Caesar Goodell and his cronies…
Coming soon! Gaia and the Goliaths has environmental issues as a theme, but Chen and Castilblanco still have to solve a crime. #7 in the “Detectives Chen and Castilblanco Series” starts out with the murder of an environmental activist on a street in Manhattan. As the detectives pursue the investigation, they discover that the activist’s boyfriend is also a target. His activity overseas leads to the conclusion that there is a conspiracy involving an American energy company, a Putin surrogate, and an old nemesis. This new novel will be available in all ebook formats.
And so it goes…