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Posted by on Nov 11, 2016 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 1 comment

The New Trumptington

 

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Gators and Mosquitoes swimming in the New Trumpington:  The president-elect isn’t “draining the swamp” — it’s about to get bigger and far more dangerous

 

Donald Trump was elected on Tuesday based on a quite powerful but simple pledge that resonated with millions of Americas:  “I’ll drain the swamp in Washington, D.C.,” he said.

Sounds good.  Even many of those who voted for someone other than Trump, or didn’t bother to vote at all, would likely agree with this fashionable conviction that our federal government all too often doesn’t represent our interests.

What does is mean to “drain the swamp?”  One assumes that an incoming Trump Administration could spell the end of powerful special interests, swindling lobbyists, the corrupting influence of big money in politics, and the troublesome practices of jaded jackals and legal leeches who have collectively and quite willingly transformed the shrine a people’s democracy into — not a place of patriotism and pride — but a justifiable target of our mass anger and ire.

Yet, only days after getting elected, early signs indicate the D.C. swamp isn’t about to get any smaller.  To the contrary, the murky political waters of infested Washington are about to become much larger and far more dangerous.

Consider if you will the reaction of financial markets, which are perhaps the truest (impartial) barometer on the real presumptive winners and losers in Washington the New Trumpington.  Wednesday and Thursday, two days following the election, the biggest stock gains were posted by the following:

— Private prison companies

— Defense contractors

— Pharmaceutical companies

— For-profit colleges

— Financial speculators / Wall Street investment houses

 

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Translated, this means the same scumbags who currently profit off the incarceration of millions (of mostly non-violent drug offenders), the military and intelligence industry (which has fearmongered us into a permanent state of global war), the fat cat financial barons (who produced the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression just a few years ago), the big drug companies (who gouge Americans on the price of medications charging double and triple the prices in other countries), and the scam-ridden diploma mills (like scandal-plagued and now defunct Trump University) appear to be the biggest winners from Tuesday night’s stunning electoral fallout.

So, what does this all mean for the rest of us?

The New Trumpington looks to be a frightening place.  Even if we give Donald Trump an extraordinary degree of benefit of the doubt and if we were to assume that he earnestly means what he says about cleaning up the mess, his transition team and many of the names now being floated for top cabinet positions is a clique of buttressed beltway insiders with glaring conflicts of interest, ties to troubling institutions that have failed us, and burned-out former politicians who are desperately looking for one final government gig before they tumble into the grave (Rudy Guiliani, please pick up the white courtesy phone).

The Trump inner circle includes someone named Ken Blackwell, who is reportedly going to head the president-elect’s transition team on all matters of domestic policy.  For those unfamiliar with Blackwell, he’s a senior fellow at the notoriously right-wing religious organization known as the Family Research Council — which is infamous for opposing gay rights and protections, promoting Bible-based creationism being taught in public schools, opposing all forms of gambling, and working tenaciously to oppose women’s reproductive rights (not just in the U.S., but even in overpopulated nations plagued with starvation).  Read more HERE.

Myton Ebell is being pegged as the primary counsel to the incoming president on environmental matters.  Trouble is, he’s an avowed denier of global climate change.  Read more about Ebell, his past statements, and what his role could mean for the rights of animals, the stewardship of out environment, and the future of the planet in this article from Scientific American.

Wait, there’s more terrible news for the environment.  Republican hired gun Mike McKenna has been hand-picked for a key role on Trump’s transition team, and what’s likely to be a cushy future political appointment.  According to public disclosures, in 2016 McKenna’s clients as a D.C. lobbyist included the Koch Companies (yeah, those Koch Brothers), Southern Company Services, Dow Chemical, and Competitive Power Ventures Inc.

But that’s not even the worst of it, yet.  It’s been reported that Sarah Palin, the half-term, half-wit former governor of “Drill Baby Drill” infamy, is being trial-ballooned as the next Secretary of the Interior.  Gulp!  This isn’t some sick Saturday Night Live skit, folks.  There exists the very real possibility that the nation’s most coveted natural treasures will soon be put into the hands of someone who’s completely clueless on matters of the environment who’s willing and eager to plunder the nation’s public lands off to the highest bidder.

So far, I’ve just scratched the surface on the environmental impacts of what a Trump presidency will mean.  You can be absolutely certain that a similar level of scrambling behind the scenes is taking place in secret circles dead set on digging their fangs into health care, finance and investment, the criminal justice system, national defense, and other vital institutions both public and private which impact our lives on a daily basis.

The swamp creatures are here.  They’ve not only arrived.  They’ve been here inside the Beltway, all along.  Swamp Thing is real.  Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie, and Newt Gingrich are lurking, waiting for their phone calls.  Indeed, there’s a very good chance that one or more of these scandal-plagued cretins gets picked for a top spot in the Trump Cabinet.

Has the water gotten any lower in the swamp, yet?

Nope.

Welcome to the new Trumpington, which sounds a whole helluva’ lot like the old Washington of eight years ago.

 

Read more:  Trump campaigned against lobbyists.  Now, they’re on his transition team.

 

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Posted by on Nov 10, 2016 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 9 comments

So, Trump Won. Now What?

 

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I’m conflicted.

Two voices are whispering inside my head.

The first voice tells me to start kicking ass.  Now, it’s “payback time.”  We’d be perfectly justified in taking our revenge on the political Right for behaving like deranged psychopaths over the past eight years, in short, giving them a bitter taste of their own medicine for the despicable way they’ve treated President Obama, a wise and good man.

From day one in 2009, the Right refused to do its job and govern.   They began by questioning the president’s legitimacy.  They’ve claimed he’s a Muslim.  They accused him of being a Marxist.  They knowingly invented falsehoods and spread lies about him.  They’ve opposed every major policy he’s proposed since taking office.  And today, president-elect Donald Trump and the rabid Right have the audacity to request that we curtsy and unite as one nation behind the new leader?

Two words immediately come to mind:  Not happening.

Actually, the first two words that popped into my head were, “Fuck you.”  But, I’m trying to be nice.

The other voice is a faint whisper.  It calmly reminds me that it’s our nature as people of compassion to be better than our surroundings.  To change something, one must remain civil and reject our most primordial instincts.

Indeed, I do ache for the opportunity to rise above the repugnant tactics used (successfully) by our opponents.  I long for what’s become a bygone era of American politics when discussing alternative points of view was civil, and often even constructive for both parties.  I want desperately to be part of a new national dialogue on the major issues of our time.  I seriously want to listen to many of those with whom I strongly disagree, but still might learn something from when we engage in mindful thought.  While the Right never gave President Obama this same courtesy, not on any level, not once, I do hold myself and ourselves on the Left to a much higher standard of conduct than those misguided by fear, ignorance, and even hate.

In short, I do not want to act like them, because to do so is to become them.  Such would be our own downfall.

So, which voice should we listen to and follow?  Which is the optimal approach for the future of our movement and the direction of the country?  Bold obstructionism versus calm and constructive engagement?  That’s the question we Liberals should be asking ourselves, right now.

I suspect most readers will agree that civility is usually the better of two choices.  While Donald Trump has not yet earned my trust, nor my confidence, he was indeed elected.  He might not merit my respect, but the office he holds does.  We must somehow learn to deal with reality.

As Liberals, it’s our nature to compromise in order to resolve conflicts.  As proponents of government being a force for good both in society and the world, that’s an essential component of being progressive.  We must listen.  We must try to learn.  And, we must compromise when given the opportunity to make some advances where we can.

That said, it’s not just difficult, but IMPOSSIBLE to compromise on some guiding principles.  I’m talking about protecting the rights of women and the right to chose, which is now in serious jeopardy with three potential Supreme Court appointments by President Trump.  I’m talking about not only tolerating, but embracing racial and cultural diversity and even differences as a healthy thing.  I’m talking about making sure sick people aren’t dying in the streets because they’ve lost their access to health care, given the president-elect’s threat to overturn the Obamacare.  I’m talking about standing up tall to warmongers who profit from a ceaseless string of international conflicts from which there appears to be no exit.  I’m talking about fighting against the big banks and crony corporatism, which wield way too much power and seek to enslave us all to debt.  I’m talking about acknowledging that climate change is real and a danger to the planet.  I’m talking about standing up for the rights of those who cannot stand on their own, and whose voices are faint echoes, desperate cries for justice in the night sky.  These issues must always be non-negotiable.

So, as we try and take our first baby steps following being knocked to the ground and attempt to move ahead, I expect to continuously be guided by these two opposing voices.  One voice requires me to fiercely defend myself and my compatriots against what we perceive to be a serious threat to our future.  The other voice which reminds me to always try and listen, and attempt to deal with concepts which I may find objectionable, but which merit consideration.

We can indeed be better people than the wicked who proceeded us and poisoned the political path towards progress.  There will come times for fights and times for compromise.  In order to know which is which, there must be time for discussion.

I suspect many of you out there are also struggling with this, hearing different voices of guidance.  What path will you choose?  What’s next?

 

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Posted by on Nov 9, 2016 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 4 comments

The Political Fallout

 

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Continuing with more random thoughts on the stunning results of the 2016 presidential election:

 

HILLARY CLINTON WON

The way we elect American presidents must be closely re-examined and perhaps overhauled.  Fact:  Hillary Clinton won more votes than Donald Trump.  While the poll numbers are still rolling in, the final tally will undoubtedly show that the Democratic candidate won the votes of more Americans than the Republican candidate.  This has been the case in 6 out of the last 7 presidential elections.  Aside from the timing of this partisan comment, there is something inherently wrong with a broken system where a majority of Americans voting in favor of one candidate over another doesn’t translate into that candidate being elected.  This system isn’t just flawed.  It’s broken.  The electoral system must be changed.  It’s time to create a bi-partisan national commission to implement a better way to elect our leaders.

 

A GENERATIONAL DIVIDE

We of a different generation often beat up unmercifully on Millennials.  We still think their music sucks and we’re totally convinced they spend far too much time worrying about the latest bullshit trend on social media.  But, for the most part, Millennials in this election got things right.  Younger people have the most at stake personally when it comes to politics.  Their future is in jeopardy.  We now have a president-elect who denies global warming, who intends terminate women’s reproductive rights, who resorted to a gutter level of personal conduct that’s unprecedented in American political history, who adheres to a set of core beliefs grounded in the distant past rather than the future.  For the most part, a majority of young people REJECTED that message and that candidate.  My generation can’t be so proud of itself.  In fact, we should be ashamed.  We’ve burned up the planet, poisoned the air and the oceans, empowered the banks to tether you by the balls, and now we’ve just given you Donald J. Trump for President.  Here’s a shout out to young activists who are committed to progressive causes — get involved.  This isn’t a plea.  It’s a fucking obligation.  Our future depends on you.  We hope that you can become the greatest generation.  Please.

 

JEB BUSH WAS NOMINATED, AFTER ALL

An uninspiring presidential candidate with a famous last name was once thought to be the inevitable nominee of his party.  And, turns out, she was.  Hillary Clinton turned into a Democratic reincarnation of all the stupefying negatives of Jeb Bush, earlier perceived as the heir-apparent to the presidential thrown.  Like Bush, Clinton often had difficulty connecting with average voters.  She, and her complacent campaign staff, distanced the candidate from questions and scrutiny.  While Donald Trump was basking in the glow of unprecedented media coverage, Clinton was tightly controlled.  She held virtually no press conferences.  She sequestered herself away from media while traveling.  Everything was carefully orchestrated by the handlers and “experts,” leaving the average voter with the (accurate) perception that Clinton was hopelessly out of touch with people living and working on Main Street.  Unfortunately, the political machinery of the Democratic Party didn’t weed out the mediocrity of candidate Clinton in the same manner Republicans were able to quickly expunge Jeb Bush from the national political scene.

 

POLLSTERS EATING TRIPLE HELPINGS OF CROW

I lost whatever sliver of respect I still had for pollsters way back in 2004, after most of the pundits that year predicted the election of John Kerry.  They were wrong back then.  But this time, they really blew it.  Witnessing the polling group and website Five-Thirty-Eight have the audacity to continue posting flawed “data” last night, all night long, in the midst of such a massive slap in the face to their credibility was excruciating.  Sure, surprises do happen.  But national pollsters should have been able to employ more accurate survey methodology and at the very least factor in outlying habits of key demographics that might not align with traditional ways of conducting polls.  Move over Hillary.  The night’s biggest losers were the pollsters and pundits.

 

A NATION OF ANGRY VOTERS HYPOCRITES

The 2016 national electorate has been widely described as “angry.”  That’s certainly accurate.  What’s grossly inaccurate, however, is the mainstream media’s portrayal of widespread anger being almost entirely monopolized by the Trump campaign.  That’s simply not true.  Plenty of Clinton supports were angry, too.  In fact, Bernie Sanders supporters were arguably the angriest constituency of all.  We continue to demand a complete overhaul of the economic and political system of this country.  Many die-hard Clinton supporters were also angry, as well as horrified, as the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency.  And so, like me, we rallied around an admittedly-flawed, often wavering compromise of a presidential candidate who wasn’t so much an inspiration, but a desperate firewall.  The 2016 election will INACCURATELY go down in history as a popular manifestation of intense voter anger with Washington and the rest of the political establishment and elites, supposedly targeted at both parties.  But if voters were so “angry.” then why did they end up doing what voter inexplicably do every election in my memory, which is RE-ELECTING establishment politicians, namely incumbents in overwhelming numbers?  Fact:  There were NO SURPRISES in congressional, senate, or gubernatorial elections.  None.  The establishment won, once again.  Big surprise.  So, quit the the “anger” bullshit.  Voters must not be too angry, after all, since they re-elected 95 percent of the incumbents who were running for re-election.  I could have gone along with a massive political sweep and housecleaning.  That’s DIDN’T HAPPEN.  Hypocrites.

 

WHITELASH

Trump’s victory is being described by some as the last gasp of a frightened segment of the population — namely older Whites — soon to be outnumbered by looming horizonal shifts in racial and cultural demographics.  I previously thought we are becoming a more tolerant nation, a more secular society, a more empathetic people to the struggles of others.  But, alas we are not.  We’re stooped and stymied in the same ugliness that once engulfed other advanced nations in similar scary times when an imperfect storm of seemingly unlikely events creates an unforeseen political pox.  I can’t even begin to understand what it must be like to be an immigrant, a Muslim, a responsible journalist, a social worker who deals with family crisis’ and wakes up this morning in a different America than we thought, just 24 hours earlier.  I cannot fathom the fear.  I cannot fathom the disappointment.  I can only fathom my own sense of shame.

 

More to come…..

 

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Posted by on Nov 9, 2016 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 6 comments

The Mourning After

 

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The talk this morning is of conceding a bitter election defeat and bringing a divided country back together again.

Fine.  I’m willing to go along with that.

But first, some fingers need to be pointed.  Names need to be called out.  The guilty should be identified.  Heads must roll.

Let’s make one thing clear.  The floundering Democratic Party establishment failed us.  They had the money.  They had the machinery.  They had it all.  All the so-called elites, the political operatives, the sycophant enablers, the corrupt party leadership — they all fumbled what should have been a rout of epic proportions.  This should have been as ass-kicking.  Well, I guess it was.

Democrats were all but gift-wrapped what should have been a massive electoral landslide of 1964 proportions with the nomination of a candidate as vile as Donald Trump.  This should have been a slam dunk, a grand slam, and a hole in one.  Instead, it turned into a pick-six and a strike out and a triple bogey.  And we, those of us who adhere most stridently to progressive values, we will ultimately end up paying the heaviest price for the failures of our failed “leadership.”

We told you so.  Democrats had a golden chance to nominate a thoroughly likable and trustworthy presidential candidate who, even with what some might consider far-Leftist views, still enjoyed widespread high marks for integrity and the respect of his political adversaries.  But now, all the evidence plainly shows the Democratic National Committee conspired against the more electable candidate.  Accordingly, in the face of such an embarrassing defeat, every DNC executive should resign immediately.

Moreover, the Democratic Party must completely expunge its congressional leadership.  All of them.  They need to go.  These names have become politically toxic to a majority of Americans.  Sen. Harry Reid can’t retire quickly enough.  Rep. Nancy Pelosi must be stripped of her minority post in the House of Representatives when Congress re-convenes next January.  Anyone in a position of power in this party must step aside for their failures on such a massive scale.  Debbie Wasserman Shultz should be recalled by her constituency.  Donna Brazille, whom I once greatly respected, should never be allowed to work again in a position of trust.  John Podesta will go down in history as the campaign chairman who couldn’t manage a used car lot.

Democrats absolutely blew the presidency.  They blew control of the Senate.  They blew the chance to pick up substantial seats in the House.  Democrats blew it in all the state races, as well.  Once again, they failed to pick up any significant victories in gubernatorial elections or winning control of state assemblies.  Despite enjoying all the advantages of a well-oiled machine, they crashed the family car into a tree.  Now, we the progressives will take over the drivers seat.  My message to the Democratic establishment:  Get out of the car.  You can walk from here.  In fact, take a hike.  We’re taking over.

Here’s a call out to all my fellow progressives, especially younger people.  Now, it’s time to step up.  Big time.  Yes, many of the previous generation, my generation, let you down.  So, your time has come.  We are counting on you.  We need you.

I’ll be looking ahead for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard to take over this movement, which includes the millions of Bernie Sanders supporters who now desperately crave a new voice and guiding light.  We need Rep. Gabbard and other new voices not only to step forward and be heard, but to articulate a message to Americans that progressives stand for causes which are vital to our future — equality and protection for all, inclusion both economically and politically, dedication to a clean environment, and other virtues which are now seriously in danger with the election of Donald Trump.

We must not merely accept defeat gracefully.  While we must adhere to the principles of a peaceful transition of power, we must also retool our message and (most important) replace our messengers in order to reverse the terrible pain of this awful moment.

More thoughts to come……

 

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