Monday, January 30, 2017

263. Trump isn't draining the swamp

Donald Trump is our president and regardless of how absurd I believe that to be, there is no going back now and what’s done is done.

Moving away from Trump the person to Trump the president, it’s time to consider the direction he and the Republican Congress will take this country.

Many folks will eventually realize that they voted against their interests when they elected Trump. And regardless of why they voted for Trump, they need to realize that their political involvement doesn’t end there. They need to become politically active and demand that Trump follow thought not only on the campaign promises they found appealing, but that he also respects the Constitution, our democracy and our influence in the world. Trump voters who have enjoyed sticking it to society must realize it doesn’t end with guns and a wall. You did this, now you are also accountable.

There is already much to be concerned about.

One of Trump’s first tasks is to appoint cabinet members to his administration. Despite promising to “drain the swamp,” Trump has chosen many questionable individuals, most of them old, white and very rich. It sure doesn’t seem like a group of people who are overly dedicated in propelling the middle and lower classes into prosperity. Here is a small sampling:

Ben Carson, who has been nominated for secretary of Housing and Urban Development, is completely unqualified and previously said he had no interest in running a federal agency. Carson knows as much about housing and urban development as I do about brain surgery.

Nominated to run the Treasury, former Goldman Sachs executive (one of many nominated), Steven Mnuchin made millions by foreclosing on reverse mortgages, as many as 16,000 of them. The seizure of these homes was often named “widow foreclosures.”

Betsy DeVos, the nomination for Education Secretary, essentially bought her nomination and is no friend of public education. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said, “In nominating DeVos, Trump makes it loud and clear that his education policy will focus on privatizing, defunding and destroying public education in America.  The sum total of her involvement has been spending her family’s wealth in an effort to dismantle public education . . . ."

Labor Secretary nominee, Andrew Puzder, is no friend of labor—fighting against raising the minimum wage and even mandatory employee breaks. Puzder’s companies have paid out millions in claims for not paying overtime to store managers. He said he likes “beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis.” Sound like anybody?

Rick Perry has been nominated as Energy Secretary, a department he once wanted to abolish. Go figure.

Sadly, I could go on, and I didn’t even mention healthcare, climate change, or Medicare/Medicaid.

The theme running through Trumps cabinet and policies is money. While economics is very important to the success of our country, and particularly the middle and lower classes, sometimes it comes with a cost—and ruining the environment, increasing the inequality of wealth, depriving people of healthcare or starting a nuclear war is not a price worth paying.

And then there is the media.

Trump has been setting the country and his followers up with his consistent complaining about the media—calling them dishonest and fake news. The media has a job do, and the freedom of the press is imperative for a democracy to survive. Of course, news channels can maintain a bias, particularly when it comes to which stories are covered and how much time is spent on them. But for Trump it is a psychological victory if he can convince the country that every time the media reports negatively on him it is because they are being dishonest and he is actually the victim. It is a built-in buffer against any major criticisms or scandals.

Also, Trump has consistently tried to steer the media away from Russia. Often where there is smoke there is fire. For example, the was lots of smoke when Trump kept refusing to release his taxes (which he still has not released). Later we learned that he may not have paid taxes for up to 18 years. There is probably more to the Russia and their relationship with Trump than has already been revealed.

The underlying theme is that people need to pay attention. Kellyanne Conway, in trying to dodge another question, said the lies already coming out of the White House were “alternative facts.” Well, of course, how can you live in an alternate universe without alternative facts? It’s unfortunate to say that Trump tells a lot of lies. Politifact research indicates as much as 50 percent of the time. I just ask, rather I beg, that people to do their own research, verify the facts, consider the consequences and hear both sides, because there is much at stake.

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