As I write this, we’re a bit under 20 hours away from handing the executive branch of the United States government over to Donald Trump, a sentient bag of flatulence and grievance that has managed to masquerade as something approximating a human being for over 70 years. He is probably the least popular president-elect in American history, but he enters office with the potential to vastly reshape the American political landscape thanks to a Congress full of Republican bootlickers and years, if not decades, of sheer malpractice by the national Democratic Party. Protesting and resisting what these people are about to do to this country is absolutely essential. It may not mean much, but it will mean something.
It’s a little-known fact, because not that many people watch or listen to C-SPAN, that the average caller to their call-in shows is every bit as ridiculous as the average caller to any sports talk or political radio program out there. I imagine it’s all mostly the same population who calls into all of these things–people who feel they’ve been wronged, somehow (whether it was Barack Obama or the New York Mets who wronged them, the emotion is the same), and want to complain about it but can’t find any live human willing to listen. Anyway, I made the mistake of listening to C-SPAN this morning, and some guy called in and said anybody thinking about protesting Donald Trump should shut up and address their concerns in four years, like you’re “supposed to.” You know, like Republicans did. Fuck that.
We need to protest this administration, all the time, in every outlet, and at every turn, on every thing. We need to protest any Democrat who decides to “find common ground” with Trump, or whatever bullshit turn of phrase they use to dress up appeasement. We need to protest it because this is, already, the most corrupt presidential administration in American history:
In research for my book Corruption in America, which documents the early history of conflict of interest law, I found many ways in which money has been used to win power, but there has been no other president who was so vulnerable to corruption by outside business interests as Trump now is. Instead, since the early days of the country, presidents have gone out of their way to distance themselves from even the appearance of conflicts of interest. Not only does Trump’s decision to keep his businesses violate the foreign bribery clause of the Constitution (also known as the emoluments clause), but with that violation, Trump is upending 240 years of tradition and a core conviction of the founders: that a stable, safe, representative republic depends on protecting against the foreign corruption of our officeholders.
We need to protest because Trump is putting together the most plutocratic cabinet in American history:
President-elect Donald Trump boasted about his wealth during his campaign. Now he’s surrounding himself with people who have similarly unimaginable riches.
Collectively, the wealth of his Cabinet choices so far is about five times greater than President Obama’s Cabinet and about 34 times greater than the one George W. Bush led at the end of his presidency.
And Trump still has four more key advisory spots left to fill.
The net worth of the Cabinet Trump had selected as of Monday was at least $13.1 billion, based on available estimates, or more than the annual gross domestic product of about 70 small countries.
We need to protest because Trump is putting together a cabinet full of ideologues who are in many cases shockingly ignorant about the areas for which they’ll now be responsible:
We need to protest because Trump is appointing people to his cabinet who, in some cases, don’t even know what the hell the agencies they’ll be running actually do:
Last month, when Mr. Trump offered Mr. Perry the job of energy secretary, he accepted with the understanding that the role would be largely focused on promoting American energy development, according to people who have briefed him. Only later did he learn that the agency’s central portfolio is the oversight and management of the nation’s nuclear weapons complex, as well as 17 national scientific laboratories.
“This confirmation process has been extremely informative and beneficial for me,” Mr. Perry said, citing his conversations with Mr. Moniz, a nuclear physicist.
He highlighted his experience as an Air Force pilot from 1972 to 1977 as among his qualifications to oversee the nuclear weapons complex.
We need to protest because Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor, his closest counselor on foreign policy, is an unhinged maniac:
Given the important role Flynn is clearly playing as a key source of “intelligence” for Trump, publishing more excerpts from the book to flesh out in greater detail what “facts” he thinks are indeed true should help inform the public discussion surrounding the future of foreign policy under Trump. Just as Flynn may have Trump’s ear, Ledeen, a conspiracy-monger of the first order—in 2003, for example, he argued that France and Germany had “struck a deal with radical Islam and with radical Arabs” in order to defeat U.S. hegemony—may have Flynn’s. This is a truly terrifying thought, as is the prospect of John Bolton as deputy secretary of state. My comments are in brackets. Most of the following excerpts are taken from the third chapter, entitled “The Enemy Alliance.”
The Enemy Alliance and Iran As “Linchpin”
[Radical Islamists] are not alone, and are allied with countries and groups who, though not religious fanatics, share their hatred of the West, particularly the United States and Israel. Those allies include North Korea, Russia, China, Cuba, and Venezuela.
If, as PC apologists tell us, there is no objective basis for members of one culture to criticize another, then it is very hard to see—and forbidden to write about or say—the existence of an international alliance of evil countries and movements that is working to destroy us.
Yet, the alliance exists, and we’ve already dithered for many years.
The war is on. We face a working coalition that extends from North Korea and China to Russia, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. We are under attack, not only from nation-states directly, but also from al Qaeda, Hezbollah, ISIS, and countless other terrorist groups. Suffice to say, the same sort of cooperation binds together jihadis, Communists, and garden-variety tyrants.
… Iran is the linchpin of the alliance, its centerpiece.
We need to protest because we have to try to salvage whatever we can of America’s tattered image around the world:
Worse still, even if we manage to endure the next four years and then oust him in the next election, from this point forward we will always be the country that elected Donald Trump as President. And as Albert Finney knew all too well in Under the Volcano, “some things, you just can’t apologize for.” This will be felt most acutely on the world stage. Keep in mind that in those areas where Trump departs from traditional Republican positions, such as those regarding trade and international security, Congressional power is much weaker. Trump can start a trade war or provoke an international crisis just by tweeting executive orders from the White House. And that damage will prove irreversible. Because from now on, and for a very long time, countries around the world will have to calculate their interests, expectations, and behavior with the understanding that this is America, or, at the very least, that this is what the American political system can plausibly produce. And so the election of Trump will come to mark the end of the international order that was built to avoid repeating the catastrophes of the first half the twentieth century, and which did so successfully — horrors that we like to imagine we have outgrown. It will not serve us well.
We need to protest because the Republican agenda is going to kill a lot of people:
What will that mean for Americans? On Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office gave us the answer: If Obamacare is repealed, nearly 20 million people will lose their health insurance, in the first year alone. Factoring in the complete loss of Medicaid expansion and marketplace subsidies, that number would increase to 32 million.
If it’s not obvious, losing health insurance is not just an inconvenience to Americans, but rather quite serious, if not outright deadly. An exchange captured last week between Paul Ryan and a constituent illustrates this: Jeff Jeans, who said he was a Republican who’d been opposed to Obamacare because he thought it would shut down his small business, explained to Ryan that, after he was diagnosed with cancer at 49, his life was saved because of the health care law. “Because of the Affordable Care Act, I’m standing here today,” he said. “I rely on the Affordable Care Act to be able to purchase my own insurance. … I want to thank President Obama from the bottom of my heart, because I’d be dead if it weren’t for him.”
Trump, who is often all over the map when it comes to policy issues, was remarkably consistent during the campaign when it came to his desire to leave Medicare and Medicaid untouched. But Warren had good reason to wonder whether that has changed, especially with Price slated to manage health care policy in the new administration. Waving around a copy of legislation Price proposed as chair of the House budget committee, Warren said the bill included large cuts to the pair of health programs over the next decade: $449 billion in Medicare cuts and more than $1 trillion for Medicaid.
Price squirmed in his seat and suggested that money isn’t the right metric with which to measure his plans, but Warren wasn’t having it. “These are really simple questions,” Warren said. “And frankly the millions of Americans who rely on Medicare and Medicaid today are not going to be very reassured by your notion that you have some metric other than the dollars that they need to provide these services.”
No, a lot of people:
Still, during a heated exchange with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), Pruitt did not say that human activity is causing climate change.
“As I indicated in my opening statement, the climate is changing, and human activity contributes to that in some manner,” Pruitt said.
When Sanders replied, saying 97 percent of climate scientists have named human activity as the leading cause of climate change, Pruitt said the extent of that correlation is “subject to more debate.”
“I believe the ability to measure with precision the degree of human activity’s impact on the climate is subject to more debate on whether the climate is changing or whether human activity is contributing to it,” Pruitt said.
And coarsen and degrade everyday life in this country to boot:
The departments of Commerce and Energy would see major reductions in funding, with programs under their jurisdiction either being eliminated or transferred to other agencies. The departments of Transportation, Justice and State would see significant cuts and program eliminations.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be privatized, while the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated entirely…
The Heritage blueprint used as a basis for Trump’s proposed cuts calls for eliminating several programs that conservatives label corporate welfare programs: the Minority Business Development Agency, the Economic Development Administration, the International Trade Administration and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership. The total savings from cutting these four programs would amount to nearly $900 million in 2017.
At the Department of Justice, the blueprint calls for eliminating the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, Violence Against Women Grants and the Legal Services Corporation and for reducing funding for its Civil Rights and its Environment and Natural Resources divisions.
At the Department of Energy, it would roll back funding for nuclear physics and advanced scientific computing research to 2008 levels, eliminate the Office of Electricity, eliminate the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and scrap the Office of Fossil Energy, which focuses on technologies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Under the State Department’s jurisdiction, funding for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are candidates for elimination.
We’re about to enter a difficult time when basic rights and freedoms are going to be under constant threat and some of the most sordid elements of our society are going to be ascendant. So protest. Protest in any way that’s available to you, whether it’s out in the streets, in your classrooms or places of business, in your consumer choices, on social media, or writing online screeds out into to the ether. Go on Twitter once a day and call Paul Ryan a sociopathic asshole. It may not do any good–indeed, on some of the most important things (hello, Supreme Court!) I know it won’t do any good–but at least they’ll know you’re there, that you see what they’re doing, and that you’re not happy about it.
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