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A Scheme is Not a Vision

Excellent essay by Ron Jacobs concerning how Trump’s Administration is acting so far post-inauguration. – RJC

I’ve attended counter-inaugural protests against Nixon (in Frankfurt, Germany), Reagan, Bush the Elder and Dubya. I found the experience to be cathartic each time, but not very long-lasting in term…

Source: A Scheme is Not a Vision

STOP: Our Government Wants to Create a National Database about Everyone, Including YOUR Children

Big Brother threatens us more each day and with each new technological “improvement”. Definitely worth watching and sounding the alarm as it encroaches ever more severely on our privacy and individual rights. A government that keeps so much important information secret from its own citizens needs to refrain from infringing on our liberties to control us in an authoritarian nightmare.

Diane Ravitch's blog

The Missouri Education Watchdog blog has collected some frightening news: There is a bipartisan push, funded by the Gates Foundation, to create a national database for every citizen, violating the privacy of every one of us. Until now, this has been illegal. Gates and his allies want to lift the ban.

For anyone who has ever filled out a college application, or scholarship or grant application, you know the incredible amount of personal information these forms require. What if there was a massive database that combined and shared not only all of that personal information, but also answers from surveys you took over the years, social media posts you made, information normally kept protected and isolated in agencies like the Social Security Administration, Health and Human Services, HUD, IRS, and the US Census Bureau. This kind of database, linking (and sharing) data across agencies, with a profile on each individual…

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Congressional Ethics

The new Republican dominated Congress is off and running, albeit somewhat haltingly, in anticipation of a relatively unfettered pathway to accomplish its long-awaited ultra-conservative agenda once Donald Trump is sworn in as President. An early attempt to scuttle an independent ethics office created to investigate alleged improprieties by members of Congress was recently nipped in the bud, at least for now. Some tweets by President-Elect Trump questioning the timing of the move – made by the House GOP caucus by secret ballot at the last minute – helped scuttle it. More importantly, public outrage at the audacity of the group of politicians seeking to give themselves more latitude in their professional conduct by removing one of the few remaining vestiges of public accountability caused them to reconsider their move and reverse course – for now.

That the same members of our elected legislative bodies who had spent most of the last eight years holding endless investigations of perceived wrongdoing on the part of various Obama Administration officials would deign to consider themselves to be beyond reproach when it comes to their own dealings with lobbyists, campaign donors and the like is hypocritical at best. Spending millions of taxpayer dollars and countless work hours trying to shine a light when there was no there there with regard to Benghazi, email servers and other subjects that led to no findings resulting in forced resignations or criminal indictments was somehow excusable for these people as part of doing their jobs overseeing the executive branch. Having a nonpartisan group shining a light on potentially shady dealings by members of Congress was unacceptable to them. In what convoluted does this make sense, let alone fit anyone’s definition of fairness?

The American people, who voted to elect members of Congress and pay for the results of their work (or lack thereof) with their taxes, deserve to know when and if they are not getting their money’s worth or are being misrepresented by those same individuals. Accountability of all levels of our government is essential. Just because the Republicans will soon have control of both Houses of Congress and the Executive branch (with the Judiciary soon to follow, once the Supreme Court vacancy and over 100 other judicial posts are filled), does not mean they have carte blanche to rule as they see fit. The outcry at their attempted escape from oversight proves that we do have limits beyond which we won’t let them push in performing their duties.

Donald Trump knew which way the wind was blowing on this move, and speaking out against it was an easy win for him, but his response was weak, indicating that he very well might welcome the gambit at a later date. The way Congress has been trying to dismantle the Affordable Care Act leaves little doubt that they intend to revisit the issue in the future. GOP Congressional leadership wasn’t all that keen on doing this to begin with, due to the optics and hypocrisy inherent to it. They have bigger fish to fry and hope to get some major work done (or undone, depending on your perspective) as quickly as possible.

In addition to confirming the mostly ill-suited cabinet nominees, they want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which they have been trying to accomplish since before it was even passed. The fact that they still don’t have a replacement plan to propose this many years since the law was passed indicates fairly convincingly that they don’t really care how the repeal will affect us. More people are beginning to become informed of what they stand to lose if the law is just summarily scrapped. Millions of Trump voters stand to lose health insurance coverage if replacement takes too long after repeal. They have passed legislation to allow the Senate to repeal the Act with a simple majority, possibly avoiding a filibuster, but even that is not assured if the public is sufficiently outraged by what action is being threatened.

To try to mitigate any possible negative public reaction to deleterious impacts of any repeal legislation, efforts are being made to order the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) from doing its job of telling the American people exactly how such legislation is likely to impact the budget. Will the alleged repeal of this costly law be more expensive than keeping it would be? If not, why keep this secret from us? Try as they might, this information will still get out. Despite Republican claims to the contrary, real journalism does still exist in this country. Freedom of the Press does still exist as a Constitutional Right, corrupted as it may be by the influence of big money and the over-classification of information by the government. People will notice if folks start dying due to a health care system that no longer works as well as it did a short time ago.

Many other aspects of the far right agenda that threatens the American way of life are also built on a house of cards that assumes that an acceptable form of governing may involve manipulating people by misinforming them, preventing them from voting and lying to them by saying they are making their lives better while the only tangible results remain a very obvious redistribution of wealth from the bottom to the top of the economic ladder. This was true during the most recent recovery, but threatens to accelerate almost beyond belief if Trump, Ryan, McConnell and the various hardcore conservative Governors and state legislatures get their way. This is true as well concerning social issues on which real gains were achieved under the Obama Administration, such as LGBTQ rights, marriage equality and the reproductive rights improvements contained in the ACA.

The rightwing extremists who vaulted Trump to the Presidency and like-minded politicians to positions of power throughout the country may have manipulated the political process in this country and the states to gain political advantage that makes effective resistance difficult, but they do not have a mandate to turn this country into an authoritarian state by forcing their vision of an oligarchic society down the throats of the majority of people who voted against them. Trump may have “won” the election, but millions more people voted against him than for him. His job is to serve the people by upholding and defending the Constitution, just like all the others sworn into their elected offices. Using technological advances to tighten the government’s grip over dissent, while simultaneously making its use for informing people of what that government and its officials are doing to them rather than for or with them illegal, runs contrary to every tradition of democratic governance which has been drilled into our skulls since childhood.

It is small wonder that Trump becomes so defensive when a political and cultural icon like John Lewis publicly questions the legitimacy of his ascending to the Oval Office and the majority party in Congress seeks to escape as much as possible the sort of public scrutiny that may doom them to defeat in future elections. But what they intend to do, based on what they campaigned for prior to the 2016 elections, and the conduct of those previously in control of too many of our states, is neither in the interests of most of the American people nor in their wishes as expressed by most polls. Lying propaganda, distortion and blatant misrepresentation of intentions on the part of elected office holders is not a legitimate form of government. Elections alone are not proof of fitness to serve or to lead. If Congress, the President and the rest of our elected and appointed officials cannot conduct themselves in a manner which stands up to public scrutiny, they must be held accountable – either by the judicial system or by the electorate at the earliest opportunity. We deserve better from our government than to be misled and misrepresented into a future world and society where most of us are more miserable than previous generations in order that a small minority may prosper. Stop trying to hide and be honest with us. Treat us as the equals our founding documents professed us to be.

Further Suggested Readings:

With No Warning, House Republicans Vote to Gut Independent Ethics Office

Ethics Watchdog Wants to Probe Trump’s HHS Nominee for Stock Trading

Republicans Haven’t Canceled Their Ethics Office Hit Job, Just Delayed It

Draining The Swamp Republican Style

CNN anchor left speechless after GOP lawmaker claims gutting ethics panel is ‘draining the swamp’

‘Era of epic corruption’: Internet eviscerates House Republicans for killing ethics committee

Trump Does Something Right– Causes Reverse of GOP Gutting of House Ethics Panel

House Republicans Dive into the Swamp

Let’s Remain Wary Of A Congress That Wants To Get Rid Of Ethical Oversight

Trump and the Case of Congressional Ethics

GOP Prohibits CBO From Reporting How Much ACA Repeal Blows Up the Deficit

North Carolina Democracy

In the past several years, many states have taken a severe rightward turn politically. One of the worst examples in 2016 has been the state of North Carolina. Steps taken in the form the passage of anti-LGBT legislation, voter suppression, gerrymandering and a complete overhaul of the authority and scope of the powers allocated to the office of Governor have seen the state lose all semblance of democracy, in the views of many both inside and outside of the state. This situation needs to be remedied to return North Carolina to a democratic government that truly represents all of its residents equally and restores political power to those it has so blatantly disenfranchised.

Controversy has been rampant in North Carolina political circles. This was true even before the passage of the so-called “bathroom bill” – HB2, which in effect allows schools, businesses and agencies to discriminate against people based on LGBT criteria. It gained the “bathroom bill” moniker via a well-publicized provision that stated individuals were restricted by law to using public restrooms designated for the gender designated on their birth certificates – thus barring transgender individuals from using the restrooms consistent with their gender identities. This bill gained national fame (or infamy, depending on your perspective), resulting in publicity which prompted some employers to reconsider creating new jobs in the state, high-profile artists to cancel concerts, and the NBA to move its All-Star game out of Charlotte to express its displeasure at the state’s intolerance. The result was a decidedly negative impact on the state’s economy and public reputation.

The governor who signed HB2 into law, Pat McCrory, was subsequently narrowly defeated by Democratic candidate Roy Cooper, despite the aforementioned voter suppression attempts. The Republican controlled legislature then saw fit to curtail much of the authority legally residing in the governor’s office while simultaneously strengthening the legislature’s own power. How convenient – jury rig elections and legislative district maps to ensure long-term advantage for yourself and your political friends, then legislate in such a way as to minimize the effects of losing the one or two elections your plotting hasn’t succeeded in providing the desired result.

Courts have found the gerrymandering unacceptable, requiring some new elections in the coming year. Likewise, courts have found some of the provisions in election laws passed in the wake of the SCOTUS decision eradicating some of the key provisions of the Voting Rights Act to also be unfair. All of this remains legally unresolved though, still leaving Cooper somewhat handcuffed and the legislature newly strengthened for the time being once Cooper takes over January 1. The fact that even having a veto-proof majority in the legislature was not sufficient power to satisfy the state’s Republicans is ominous. The extent they went to further entrench themselves in the county election boards, cabinet nominations and other appointments previously made by the governor and change the way court appeals are handled to further weaken Democratic power in the state may be seen in other states as a process for them emulate.

Some states, while not resorting to the extremes occurring in North Carolina, are in a similar situation – where Republicans have used electoral victories more as a means to try to solidify their power in perpetuity rather than as a means of effectively governing in accordance with the wishes and needs of the people they supposedly represent. Just as in the case where state Right-to-Work legislation has had a negative economic impact on millions of workers in those states, such a pattern of legislative conduct in other states will politically silence many millions more controlled undemocratically by like-minded authoritarian power-hungry politicians. The likelihood of this happening is much greater in the coming years, since the Republicans in charge of the White House, Congress and potentially in the federal courts in the near future, seem to indicate a willingness to use similar tactics at the level of the Federal Government. Just look at proposals they have been making concerning the Affordable Care Act, Social Security and other social safety net programs to get a glimpse of why so many Republican Congress critters seem to be chomping at the bit in eager anticipation of Donald Trump’s inauguration.

With a Republican-controlled Congress, which has done everything it possibly could do to obstruct President Obama in his every attempt to perform his Constitutionally assigned duties (as illustrated perhaps best of all by the Senate’s refusal to confirm or even hold hearings for so many of his judicial nominees – particularly the current opening of a seat on the Supreme Court itself) and an incoming President who comes with a group of Cabinet nominees who do not inspire in many hopes for fairness and equity, what can we expect will be done concerning such issues? Will an Attorney General Sessions, who was denied confirmation by the Senate to a seat on the federal bench on the basis of his attitudes,  make voting rights and civil rights high priorities for investigation and prosecution? Or will the Justice Department turn a blind eye to injustices perpetrated on groups and individuals by state governors and legislatures determined to rig the system for themselves and against the poor, weak, elderly and members of religious, ethnic and other groups that they think don’t deserve a voice in what their government does to, with and for them?

Donald Trump’s speeches and Cabinet nominations have done nothing to convince me that he will do anything to protect the rights of most of us or insure that any sort of equality (political, economic or in terms of opportunity for advancement) will be a goal of his administration. He appears to want to be a ruler, not a leader. His choice of Mike Pence as VP, Sessions as AG and putting the fox in charge of the hen house when it comes to most of his other Cabinet-level nominations does little to reassure us of his good intentions. Turning the state governments in North Carolina or Indiana or Michigan or Texas or Kansas into models for other states or the federal government to emulate would result in disaster for the great majority of Americans.

Already this century, we’ve seen two Presidential elections in which the person who won got fewer votes than one of the losers. This past election the margin was over two million more votes cast nationwide for Clinton than for Trump. Gerrymandering has resulted in a US House of Representatives with a solid Republican majority despite the fact that significantly more votes have been cast for Democratic candidates. Voter turnout, in terms of number of votes cast by what should be eligible voters continues to suffer – often because of voter suppression efforts making it more difficult for some to register and vote than others or because of distribution of polling places or voting stations within polling places. There are myriad methods of making voting more difficult for some while making it easier for others.

If voting is still able to turn this situation around, we need to really put forth huge voter registration and get out the vote efforts in the next two elections, but particularly those in 2020, when the next census will determine how House reapportionment will require redistricting in many states. The regressive forces took advantage of that fact in 2010 and progressives were badly defeated in midterm elections which have resulted in the political situation we’re faced with today. We can’t count on a court system dominated increasingly by Republican appointees to help out our cause, nor can we expect legislatures dominated by Republicans and/or Corporate Democrats. Grassroots organizing and voter education will be in great demand to accomplish what needs to be done to stop the backsliding in terms of social programs, health care, education and economic equality to turn this government into one which seeks to improve the lives of all its people, not just the elites who live well at their expense.

Further Suggested Readings:

North Carolina Republicans Sink to New Depths

“NC GOP makes power grab after election loss of governorship”

Tar Heel Heist: How the Charter School Industry is Hijacking Public Education

Joy Reid’s Panel On North Carolina GOP’s Craven Power Grab: ‘It’s Like A Cry Of Rage!’

McCrory Is Having Citizens Arrested For Protesting His Disgusting Coup In NC

Cooper threatens to sue over North Carolina GOP ‘power grab’

North Carolina Republicans launch a legislative ‘coup’

The Latest: Lawmakers adjourn session curbing gov’s powers

NC GOP governor McCrory signs powergrab laws, hands out favors

Did the GOP Pull Off a North Carolina Coup?

North Carolina Republicans complete their ‘coup’

Why Liberal States Won America’s Tax Experiment (Video)

North Carolina is no longer a democracy: report

North Carolina’s Republicans might regret their post-election power grab

Democracy in North Carolina

North Carolina’s Legislative Coup Shows What Voter Suppression Will Look Like Under Trump

2016 What Have You Wrought?

Excellent essay by Ron Jacobs about what 2016 has wrought to American society and politics. May 2017 see some more positive results. – RJC

Holy shit, what a year, huh?  A friend keeps reminding me she knew it was going to be a bad one when David Bowie died in the first few days.  Even if one wasn’t a fan, the impact of his death was f…

Source: 2016 What Have You Wrought?

Stop Grasshopper: where are you going from here?

Reflecting on our recent history, much of this sobering indictment of our predicament rings true. Indeed, where will we go from here? – rjc

~Burning Woman~

[thoughts from    ~burning woman~    by Sha’Tara]

If I were a betting kind of person, I’d bet a substantial amount of my pension check, say $100, that the main question on most people’s minds these days would be something like, “where are we going from here?”  At least in the Western world, faced as it is with some quite serious political and economic changes and challenges. 

Imagine what it’s like to live in a world built almost exclusively on slave labour and stolen resources from Third World nations, or any nation that can’t defend itself against political graft, military superiority and financial corruption, and having that cornucopia gradually go empty? 

The growing number of war costs and bodies on the ground (take that metaphorically or literally) is making itself felt.  Cheap resources and cheaper labour are not delivering their quota of expectations.  Prices are rising, as is discontent, chaos, confusion and…

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The Trump Administration Takes Shape

Since the results of the November election became known, Donald Trump has steadily made public his picks for most of the cabinet members he wishes to include at the start of his Administration. So far, most of the picks have been unconventional compared to other incoming administrations, which was to be expected considering the nature of Trump’s campaign. How these nominees will fare in Senate confirmation hearings and votes remains to be seen, but some predictions for potential policy directions which may be expected in the not-too-distant future may be made at this point in the process.

Some early observations about the backgrounds of some of the nominees. Overall, this cabinet would be the richest in terms of personal wealth in US history. Wall Street is extremely well represented, as well as other corporate executives ( CEOs of Exxon/Mobil and Hardee’s/Carl’s, Jr.). Likewise, there is a group of retired military officers – including a nominee for Secretary of Defense who will require a waiver to serve in that post due to having retired from active duty too recently.

How do nominees’ backgrounds fit with the duties of the positions for which they have been nominated? Ben Carson, retired neurosurgeon and GOP Presidential candidate, has basically no background whatsoever for the position of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Early on, he had announced that he had no desire to serve in the Cabinet due to the fact that he felt unqualified to run a government agency. Nevertheless, he has agreed to serve in this capacity. Rick Perry, former Texas Governor and another former GOP Presidential candidate, was named to be Secretary of the Department of Energy – one of three government agencies he had pledged to eliminate, if elected, when he was running for the GOP Presidential nomination back in 2012. Was he named to the post to oversee the demise of the Department?

For a man who ran for President as an outsider to upset the DC status quo and political establishment, President-elect Trump has certainly done his part to make sure Wall Street is well represented at Treasury by Steven Mnuchin. He also picked experienced corporate executives to head the Labor and State Departments. Another political appointment was naming Representative Tom Price of Georgia to head Health and Human Services. Price was famous for authoring the 50+ attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act from the time it was passed until now. Since Trump has expressed his support for such a repeal throughout the campaign, this seems like a logical choice, but one that risks dire consequences for many millions of people who have received health care coverage for the first time due to that law.

The fact that he chose the CEO of a fast-food empire to lead the Department of Labor probably does not bode well for either organized labor or ordinary workers – especially when he openly opposes raising the minimum wage. Such gains as have been made with regard to workers under the Obama Administration, including a proposed rule change that would increase the wage level below which overtime pay rules would apply, may well be doomed under the new Administration. A Labor Department with openly pro-corporate management leanings threatens lower workplace protections for workers and increased wage and salary inequality for the economy overall. In other words, it appears that the aim is to turn the Labor Department into the Anti-Labor, Pro-Corporate Management Department, something that Trump never alluded to when he was courting blue-collar votes with his talk of bringing back jobs to this country which had been exported abroad in search of cheaper labor.

Likewise, the appointment of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is unlikely to garner support from environmental groups. The direction the agency is likely to take under his stewardship is one of relaxing regulations which make it more difficult for corporations to profit while despoiling the environment. Trump has himself expressed a desire to reduce stifling environmental regulations which have been based on international agreements to deal with the issue of climate change – which he has called a hoax on numerous occasions. The climate change denial prevalent in the upper echelons of the establishment GOP has certainly met with his approval. Pruitt’s nomination seems like an attempt to morph the EPA into the Environmental Destruction Agency rather than to fulfill its legislatively intended purpose.

Trump’s selection of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education puts another billionaire in a position of power in the Washington elite. Her agenda for improving public education in America seems to hinge on converting as much taxpayer money as possible as quickly as it can from funding public education to funding privately owned and operated for-profit charter schools, which again appears to go in the exact opposite direction of what the Department was created to accomplish. The purpose of health care should be to care for the health of individuals, not to profit from their misery. The purpose of public education should be to provide education to all members of our society, not to pump profits into corporate coffers and increase economic and social inequality among the populace.

The choice of Exxon/Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to become Secretary of State, top US Diplomat, cements this as one of the most top heavy corporate cabinets ever. His dealings with foreign governments as a businessman, along with his stock holdings, raise questions about his loyalties in performing his duties similar to those which Trump himself is trying to distract us from questioning.  Combined with Trump’s business experience, his cabinet seems more like a corporate board of directors than the focal point of the executive branch of the Federal Government of the United States of America. The military tint to the national security portion of the government seems to dilute significantly the idea of civilian control over the military. The economic part of the government seems to concentrate at the top of the economic system while pretty much ignoring the plight of those in the mainstream or at the bottom.

As far as foreign policy goes, the conflicts (or at the very least, the strong appearance of conflicts) of interest abound. How much of what the Administration does in the realms of diplomacy, trade and conflict resolution will be carried out to benefit the American people and the people of the world at large? How much will be done to satisfy the interests of the corporations which have succeeded in concentrating an ever-increasing percentage of the world’s wealth into the hands of a small number of oligarchs and plutocrats?

Donald Trump, throughout his campaign for the American Presidency, professed a desire to “Make America Great Again” without ever really explaining to anyone (especially his core supporters) what America would look like when he finished making it great. So far, he seems to be heading down a road that will leave the disillusioned majority of Americans who have been so poorly served by our government and economic system in the past several decades more disillusioned than ever. Once in power, he appears to be inclined to move in a direction to further deregulate corporations in terms of environmental, labor, financial, education, health care and other considerations. The goal seems to be a renewed advocacy of a “survival of the fittest” Social Darwinism used to justify subjugating the vast majority to the service of their betters (namely he, his family and their cronies).

The economy, in terms of GDP and jobs, may seem to improve under this scenario, but I doubt the problems of economic inequality, lack of mobility, outright poverty and sense of powerlessness for the vast majority of people will be decreased in the least. Avenues of protest for empowering movements for much needed change have become more restrictive with new technology and the tightening of social controls to combat terrorism. Individual and group rights are being sacrificed in the name of safety and security to an extent only dreamed of in past generations by dystopian writers such as Wells, Orwell and Huxley. With Trump, it looks like the puppet masters have decided to cut the strings to the politicians and begun to take more direct control over our lives than ever.

Perhaps this election was a fluke, not to be repeated again. We may stem the tide of voter suppression, gerrymandering, corporate/tycoon campaign financing and media manipulation to restore a greater degree of truly representative democracy to our government at some time in the not-too-distant future. This task becomes more difficult every time another state passes a new voter suppression law, ignores court orders negating bad laws, or acts in ways to move decision-making power farther from the grassroots. Look at what has been happening to LGBT rights in states like North Carolina, workers rights in states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana, women’s reproductive rights in Texas and a myriad of other states. These and more problems will raise their ugly heads if the tyranny of the ruling minority in Washington allows Trump, Ryan, McConnell and various state governors and legislatures to entrench themselves ever more firmly in control of our state and national governments, passing more laws stripping us of our civil liberties and depriving us our human rights.

We the People should rule ourselves, not be ruled by corporations and the privileged oligarchs who control them. Greed is a vice to be abhorred, not a virtue to be glorified.

 

Further Suggested Readings:

John Feffer, The Deconstruction of America, 2016-2050

Carson Is New Sign Trump Plans to Govern From the Right

Trump Trumpets His Real Plans

Trump’s Team of Faux Populists and Real Crony Capitalists

Donald Trump’s Labor Secretary Pick Andy Puzder, Who Makes 300 Times His Employees, Opposes Minimum Wage Hike

‘You think that’s pro-worker?’: Robert Reich schools Kayleigh McEnany on Trump’s labor secretary pick

Colbert hilariously mocks Trump’s EPA pick: It’s like appointing Joe Camel to be Surgeon General

What You Need to Know About Trump’s EPA Pick Scott Pruitt

Trump’s Labor pick’s companies have faced multiple class-action lawsuits

Promises, Promises. Or Are They Threats?

Nearly four weeks have passed since Donald Trump became our President-Elect. Work has begun in earnest to nominate individuals to fill cabinet and other positions in the new administration. While it is still too early to tell which direction future policy decisions will take and what specific legislation may be proposed and act upon early next year, trends are beginning to demonstrate how the early stages of transition to the Trump Administration may augur depending upon an individual’s perspective.

The coming days of the lame duck Congress should prove relatively calm. With the advent of new GOP Presidential Administration, the only really pressing business before Congress this month will undoubtedly prove to be the business they have proven most reluctant to conclude throughout Obama’s tenure in office – keeping the government functioning by passing funding legislation. Expect typical shenanigans and brinkmanship to prevail once again, as they do their damnedest to pass another short-term budget package just in time to avert another government shutdown before the year-end holiday recess.

So far, Trump’s announced nominees for cabinet and other key staff positions has been a mixed bag leaning heavily towards individuals with huge bank accounts, rightwing political views and a stated desire to eliminate as much of the Obama legacy as can be accomplished as rapidly as possible. As would be expected of a GOP administration, picks in the economic and business arena come primarily from Wall Street. Some, like Trump, made a financial killing in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown. Other individuals capable of gaming the system for personal profit to the tune of many millions of dollars are also included. His pick for Education is another billionaire pushing for school privatization in the form of spending taxpayer funds supporting for-profit charter schools to further decimate our public education system.

For Health and Human Services, Trump selected the single individual most responsible for the GOP legislative attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act over 50 times since it was passed. These attempts only failed as long as there was a Democrat in the White House and Democratic control of the Senate, neither of which will be true after January 20th. For Justice, Trump named Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a staunch conservative who failed to be confirmed for a judicial appointment years ago due to questionable views regarding race and civil rights to be his Attorney General. A perfect choice to charge with prosecuting (or not) violations of federal civil rights laws and state voting laws resulting in disenfranchising qualified individuals by instituting Voter ID requirements, among others (targeting those who would vote against them, of course).

There will be no vote on a replacement for deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia until Donald Trump nominates one after officially being sworn in as President. We can expect whomever he selects to be far different from President Obama’s nominee, as will future nominees that are almost certain to be required to fill the slots presently occupied by Justices who will either pass away or retire. Presidential nominees to SCOTUS and other federal judicial benches usually affect jurisprudence in this country long after the end of the Presidential Administration under which they took office. In recent years, major decisions involving the Affordable Care Act, Voting Rights Act, LGBT rights and marriage equality, along with many other far-reaching issues, have been decided in the Judicial Branch of our government.

Many in the GOP would like for the courts to start reversing recent decisions that have resulted in gains for members of groups who have been historically treated unequally in our society. Through legislation and judicial review, they hope to roll back progress made in areas such as workers’ rights, civil rights, voting rights, public education, environmental protection and a host of other societal issues too lengthy to mention, many on the right end of the political spectrum want to “Make America Great Again” by taking us back to a time in our history that most of us would find very uninviting and deplorable, if not downright intolerable, but certainly not “great”.

As for foreign policy, Trump has nominated a new UN Ambassador, but the Secretary of State position is still up in the air. He has ruffled some feathers with phone calls to the Presidents of Pakistan and Taiwan, which is something I’m sure we’ll see more of in coming days and weeks. He also touted a great triumph for American workers by arranging for Carrier to forego closing and moving a manufacturing plant from Indiana to Mexico, aided by tried and true tax breaks at the state level (His VP is governor of Indiana) to the tune of $7 million. That’s what he considers punishment for off-shoring jobs from factories here to foreign countries with lower wages and lax worker protections.

Donald Trump “won” the election largely by appealing to white blue collar workers with promises to improve the economy by bringing back good jobs and preventing more from leaving the country. He also promised to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and build a wall to keep the hordes of illegal Mexican immigrants from coming here to steal their livelihoods, while simultaneously refusing entry to Moslems hell-bent on terrorizing us in our homes, schools, workplaces and places of worship. How they will react if he actually accomplishes what he has promised and it does not result in raising their wages and standard of living, improving their health care and educational opportunities or making their lives demonstrably better overall remains to be seen.

The direction our next President seems to be taking in the way of eroding civil rights for many and civil liberties for most give many of us fears of moving our society in a dangerously authoritarian direction. Repressing the hopes, dreams and aspirations of the many in order to protect the undeserved wealth and privilege of a small minority, further concentrating both wealth and political power in the hands of those who have benefitted the most historically from generations of economic and political inequality, does not serve the vast majority of our people well at all. Making excuses for the vast and increasing degree of inequality and its preservation through inheritance of great wealth from generation to generation makes a mockery of the notion of equal opportunity for all. Making the unequal distribution of wealth also become reflected in the political sphere – through unregulated campaign spending, gerrymandering and other political tricks of the trade that have stifled the voices of increasing numbers of people in recent years – has made this country less of a democracy in recent years than it was at the end of the last century.

The Trump/Ryan/McConnell agenda to solidify GOP control of government for years to come while simultaneously increasing economic and political inequality and improving prospects for personal profit of the few at our expense must be fought. Ryan never gave up his dream to privatize Medicare and Medicaid for the benefit of corporate interests at the expense of the welfare of the people they were designed to serve. The same is true of those who wish to privatize Social Security to maximize private profits on Wall Street at the risk of failing to adequately serve the needs of the elderly who paid into it their whole working lives in hopes of achieving retirement that is not impoverished. Pretending that receiving far less than half of the votes of the people who will be affected by their policies gives them a mandate to do as they wish with their office regardless of the impact their actions will have on millions of people in this country and worldwide is a joke.

There is no mandate for this government to pursue the policies espoused by the “leaders” who will try to force their will on us in coming days. They would be well advised to remember that. Outrageous nominees should be rejected in the Senate. The health care laws should be changed so that more people are adequately served by them, rather than that millions will lose coverage that they only recently gained. Our individual and collective liberties and freedoms must not be unduly curtailed in overreaction to exaggerated threats posed by “others”. Making scapegoats of others merely on the basis of race, religion, country of origin or other characteristics that make them different on inherently insignificant bases from white males is unacceptable in an allegedly open and diverse society. We need to govern ourselves in such a way that the haters do not win. They won too much on November 8th, but they are not unstoppable.

Suggested Further Readings:

Now That Trump Won: 10 Plagues Unearthed by This Election We Need to Face

Everything We Thought We Knew About Politics Was Wrong

Here It Comes: Trump’s 100-Day Plan to "Make America Great Again"

Who Voted and Who Couldn’t–Don’t Blame Jill Stein by Drew Robert Winter

Trump administration ‘on the precipice’

Who will stand up to Trump?

In The Basket Of Bad Trump Appointees, Jeff Sessions Is Uniquely Awful

Morning Joe: Trump already ‘on the precipice’ of disaster if he keeps picking unqualified ‘henchmen’

Trump isn’t draining the swamp. He’s deepening it.

What Populism? Trump’s America Is Party Time for the Corporate Elite

Bernie Sanders Challenges Trump To Admit He’s A Liar Or Nominate A Decent HHS Secretary

Trump Announces Mattis Pick at Rally

Trump and His Betraying Makeover by Ralph Nader + Robert Weissman: Trump’s Deal That “Saved Jobs” at Carrier Based on a $7 Million Tax Break & Reduced Regulations

Conversations on Trump’s America: Robert Reich Previews a New Era of Savage Inequality

Democrats will botch the resistance against Trump

The Revolution Will Not Be Staffed: How Big Organizing Can Take Down Trump

The Trump Team of Billionaires: It Takes a Thief

Throw Wall Street Out of the Democratic Party – Truthdig

The results of the 2016 election show that mobilizing identity politics behind a bankster program will no longer work. To save their party, Democrats must get the Clintons and their backers, such as former Treasury secretary Robert Rubin (pictured), to leave.

Source: Throw Wall Street Out of the Democratic Party – Truthdig

History – Attention Must Be Paid

We must remain vigilant in not allowing the incoming Trump administration to demoralize and bully us into accepting a totally unacceptable future for this country and the world at large. – RJC

Envisioning The American Dream

Vanity Fair cover 1933 July Despondent Sam Illustration by Paolo Garretto We need to take a hard look at history. A Vanity Fair cover from July 1933 showing a despondent Uncle Sam seated on the Western hemisphere with storm clouds above can serve as a somber harbinger for our own times. Illustration by Paolo Garretto

History has never seemed more relevant.

That anti-Semite Steve Bannon who made white nationalism mainstream through Breitbart, is now to be President Elect Donald Trump’s Goebbels…er…Chief Strategist.

This past summer with  the weight of history hanging heavy as the Republicans nominated Donald J. Trump as their candidate for president, historians spoke out as never before.

We didn’t listen then.

We need to listen now.

It’s a post worth repeating, so we don’t repeat history.

It’s Worth Repeating

A dozen distinguished  historians from David McCullough to  Ken Burns have bonded together to create a Facebook page called Historians on Donald Trump, dedicated to educating the voters…

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