From Draining the Swamp to Filling the Cesspool

trumpdrainswamp

It is often said about a Presidential administration that you can garner much of their goals by the people that the President names to different Cabinet positions, organizational heads, and ambassadorial positions. In the second Bush Administration, there was a great deal of concern about A) the number of people from his father’s Administration that he tapped (especially his VP, Dick Cheney, who was Secretary of Defense under his father), and B) those that were involved with the military previously (such as Donald Rumsfeld, who was his Secretary of Defense). That the Bush Administration during its eight years ramped up military action (and, as a result, spending) in hindsight should come as no surprise to anyone.

After the stunning turn of the 2016 General Election, the GOP nominee now has the same issues facing him that 44 other men have had – deciding who would best push forward the agenda of his Administration. After mouthing platitudes about wanting to “unite the people,” why has the GOP nominee done exactly THE OPPOSITE of what he says he wanted to do? A simple look at those he has chosen for the different Cabinet appointments and political seats demonstrates that, instead of “draining the swamp” as he said he would, the GOP nominee is filling the cesspool that his Administration will become.

The problems began with his staffing of those members that DON’T have to go through a Congressional hearing to be able to take their seats. The choice of Steve Bannon, the former editor of the Neo-Nazi news site Breitbart.com, to be his chief strategist – along with former General Michael Flynn as his national security adviser and Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff – rang alarm bells for anyone who could rub two brain cells together. Bannon’s “fiery rhetoric” at Breitbart (which poked at Jews, women, and Democrats, just to name a few) indicated to many that the GOP nominee was going to try to run the country like he ran his campaign – short on facts, long on insults, racist, misogynous, and xenophobic rhetoric. He got Priebus out of the way from his duties as chairman of the Republican National Committee by making him his lapdog “directing” White House operations (you really think that Priebus could direct the GOP nominee to do anything?). Flynn very nearly ended his run with the GOP nominee’s Cabinet by continuing to push conspiracy theories, but his son took the bullet for him earlier this month over “Pizzagate” to effectively quiet many.

Then there South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who wasn’t smart enough to see her gentle execution by the GOP nominee for her opposition stance during the campaign. In taking the position of ambassador to the United Nations, Haley may believe she is “serving” the country, but if she looked up what normally happens in a time of strife, she may not have taken the position. Any time that there is a particularly noteworthy moment at the UN – a critical vote or an important discussion on a dire situation between the member nations, let’s say – the Secretary of State swoops in and takes the reins from the UN ambassador. The reason she was put there? South Carolina Lt. Governor Henry McMaster, a vehement supporter of the GOP nominee, will take over as Governor with Haley subserviently sitting in New York.

nikkihaley

If you thought this was bad, the worst was yet to come. It seemed that the criteria used by the GOP nominee was to identify what the job was of the department that he was choosing the Cabinet secretary for, then put the least qualified person into that position. Billionaire Betsy DeVos, the selection for Secretary of Education, has no qualifying degree from any school in the field of education. What qualifies her to be Education Secretary? The fact that she donated $1.8 million to the GOP nominee’s campaign and that she has advocated (re:  demanded) a shift from the public-school system to “voucher programs,” private and religious institutions. The purpose of the Department of Education is to set standards for ALL schools – to go in with the express purpose of destroying the very thing you’re supposed to be supporting is outlandish. (Add in that she is the brother of the founder of Blackwater, the heinous “mercenary” force that is supposed to be a “military company” that was used by the Bush Administration during the Second Gulf War, and she’s even more despicable.)

It doesn’t get better. Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions was unable to get a position on the bench in the federal court system 30 years ago because of his racial statements regarding the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other organizations. But now he’s been chosen to be the next Attorney General under the GOP nominee’s Administration.

The GOP nominee tapped on one of his former opponents, much like President Barack Obama did when he picked Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State in 2008, when he pulled Dr. Ben Carson into the mix despite Carson saying he wanted no part of a government position. So, what position do you think would be benefitting of a world-renown brain surgeon? Surgeon General of the U. S.? Nope. How about Secretary of Housing and Urban Development? Despite the efforts to portray Carson as someone who rose “from the projects” he would be now leading, the only relative experience that Carson has with the Housing Department is that he lives in one.

Then there’s Scott Pruitt, the Attorney General of Oklahoma, that has been nominated to take over the Environmental Protection Agency. Despite the factor that he’s currently SUING the EPA for its regulation of power plants, Pruitt is a known climate change denier who proudly touts this fact to anyone who will listen. Pruitt also is a longtime advocate of fossil fuel usage. That you would put someone in charge of an agency that is tasked with PRESERVING the environment whose main raison d’etre is to destroy the very department tasked with that cause, you’re not putting the best personnel into the position.

Pretty much look at any department and you can virtually smell the shit from the cesspool. Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services? A doctor who is looking to destroy the Affordable Care Act and Planned Parenthood and advocated for not labeling food. Former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao as Transportation Secretary? A carrot tossed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, her husband, for support in the Senate?

MitchMcConnell

Wilbur Ross and Todd Ricketts as Commerce Secretary and Deputy Commerce Secretary, respectively? Billionaires who bailed out the GOP nominee previously or an opportunistic hypocrite who was previously critical of the GOP nominee that owns the Chicago Cubs. Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary? Formerly a part of Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street investment firm the GOP nominee railed over through the entirety of the campaign. Toss in former Texas Governor Rick Perry as the Secretary of Energy (seriously, does he even have an energy idea beyond “drill here?”) and you have a Confederacy of Dunces that rivals a Marx Brothers movie.

In fact, you could say that there are two paths that the GOP nominee is going down. One is that he is creating the ultimate oligarchy, as six of his nominees to prominent positions in his cabinet have donated $12 million to his campaign. You could also say that the GOP nominee is forming a military junta, as he continues to fill major spots in his organization with people with lifelong military backgrounds, including former Marine Corps generals John Kelly (Homeland Security) and James Mattis (Defense), both positions that have traditionally been put in the hands of civilian oversight (Flynn is also a former general and Bannon has a military background).

And we’re supposed to give this a chance?

trumpsupporters

The problem is that, once the process begins for those that require Congressional approval, there’s virtually nothing that can stop it. Due to the stupidity of the Democratic Party back in 2014 when they blew up the procedures to push through lower federal court justices, the GOP now just has to have 51 votes to end filibusters on Presidential appointees (this applies to everything outside of the Supreme Court) and move to a vote. When it was for their own good, the Democratic leadership was all for this change. Now it comes back to bite them in the ass.

If there is to be a check on the GOP nominee’s ignorance of choices, some help is going to have to come from some of the “renegade” members of the GOP itself. Virtually every choice is unqualified to be in the spot they were picked for – quite like their prospective boss – and should receive a negative vote in their respective committees. That’s not going to happen, so the Democrats must pick their battles wisely if they are to enact some changes out of the GOP nominee’s festering cesspool. Otherwise, the symphony of destruction is warming up…

Advertisements

Vive la Resistance! Jamais de Remise!

resistance

The past two weeks since Election Day have been a stunning demonstration about what is the current status of the States of America. Since the election of the GOP nominee to the office of President, there has been turmoil of an unprecedented level, mostly against the fascist that was voted in. An examination of these issues easily shows that, while you might not have been a racist that voted for the GOP nominee, you accepted his racism and others started acting on it.

In New York City, the rise in “hate crimes” (crimes perpetrated because of someone’s race, religion or sexual persuasion) has caused Governor Andrew Cuomo to create a special police unit in the NYPD to counteract such incidences. The Southern Poverty Law Center estimates that there have been more than 700 instances of attacks following the election of the race-baiting fascist that is the GOP nominee. That breaks down to more than 50 per day, ranging from simple graffiti to whack jobs ranting in a Starbucks to HIGH SCHOOL KIDS chanting “Build that wall!” at Hispanic sports opponents or promoting “white power” at THEIR OWN CLASSMATES. There are also reports of supporters of the GOP nominee being attacked, but far fewer than the racist stances taken by many of those same supporters.

And what has the GOP nominee said about these things? Next to nothing other than two words spit in a 60 Minutes interview to “stop it.”

So, where does this come from, pray tell? Could it be the racial stance taken by the GOP nominee, who opened with calling Mexicans rapists and drug dealers and upped the ante from there? To calling for a registry of Muslims in the States of America (I’m sure there are plenty of Jewish people who shudder at that suggestion)? To citing the “influence” of Jewish people in “banking and the media” and suggesting that they are a cabal that is stealing from the poor, poor “white man?” That for six years decried President Barack Obama as a “Muslim” who wasn’t a citizen of the States of America before, in a 15-second offhand remark, rebuking those accusations and thinking he ushered it away? Yes, you can firmly lay it at the door of the ignoramus that was voted in on Election Day by a MINORITY of the people under the auspices of eradicating “political correctness.”

racism

To this point, those that supported and voted for the GOP nominee (and to you, I have but one statement – you might not be racist, but you’ve demonstrated that racist statements, thoughts and ideas aren’t a deal-breaker for you) have come out with the “well, he’s our President and his success is our success” statement as a means of quieting the revolt growing in the MAJORITY of those who didn’t vote for him. Yes, you mean as in how well Obama was received upon his first election in 2008 to the Presidency? The insults yelled during the STATE OF THE UNION speech at him? The blatant racism that ran rampant for eight years, including questioning his birthright? And don’t even try to say, “Two wrongs don’t make it right,” because in this goddamn case, it does. If you offered no quarter over the past eight years, expect none to be given.

Another dubious argument by those who voted for the GOP nominee is “Let’s see what he does, he’s not even in office yet.” And you know what, you’re right…he isn’t. In adding anacondas, piranha and more alligators to that “swamp” he boasted he could drain, you don’t need to see much more.

To begin with, the man who will sit at his right hand, former Breitbart Chief Executive Officer Steve Bannon, is at best an alleged wife-beating opportunistic buffoon and at worst taking cues from the Joseph Goebbels/Adolph Hitler playbook (another thing…fuck Godwin’s Law when talking about the cretinous GOP nominee). Through Breitbart, Bannon promoted the Neo-Nazi (we’re not calling it “alt-right” here, we’re calling it what it is) movement with their version of the “news.” They’ve also gone into race-baiting, misogyny and gay-bashing under Bannon’s watch.

SiriusXM Broadcasts New Hampshire Primary Coverage Live From Iconic Red Arrow Diner - Day 1

Then there’s his choice of Kris Kobach, the Secretary of State in Kansas (a state which is barely able to function after the destruction by Governor Sam Brownback), for his transition team. Kobach was the author of a bill for the state of Arizona, SB 1070, that gave police the right to request “documentation papers” from anyone at any time. That law was found to be unconstitutional on several counts by the Supreme Court, but Kobach could barely hide his glee about unleashing his brand of fascism – supported by the GOP nominee – on the country as a whole. “There’s going to be a lot to do there in part because Mr. Trump and Mr. Obama are diametric opposites when it comes to immigration policy,” Kobach stated following being named to the GOP nominee’s team. “So there will be a lot of changes.”

There are the climate change deniers, the anti-Muslim brigade and the former racist who was deemed so “deplorable” that he was DENIED A FEDERAL JUDGESHIP. Perhaps the worst are those that I call the “opportunistic hypocrites.”

This would include those that, during the campaign, dropped to their knees in front of the GOP nominee, people like Ben Carson, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, who once stood against what the GOP nominee represented. Chris Christie all but sacrificed himself on an altar if it would change the GOP nominee’s opinion (and earn Christie a job) and what did that get him? It also includes people like Mitt Romney and Nikki Haley, who stood vehemently against him, his thoughts and his statements…until a juicy federal post was dangled in front of them, that is. When that occurred, they moistened up their lips with Chap-Stick, put on their kneepads and went to work pleasuring the GOP nominee for his favor and a job. I certainly hope there aren’t any mirrors in their houses because they would be too embarrassed to even look at themselves.

bobmarley

It is for the last 18 months and the reasons stated previously that we should never surrender the opposition to the GOP nominee. We need to stand and fight, if not for ourselves and our philosophies but for those who cannot fight – minorities, the downtrodden, those judged “un-American” because of their religion, women who prefer a choice in what happens with their bodies and those who are facing a return to “second class” citizen status in the LGBTQ movement. We need to defend every piece of turf taken over the past 60 years (yes, we’ve got to fight those same goddamn fights AGAIN) to ensure that those progressive moves don’t disappear under the thumb of a fascist dictator and his cooperating henchmen (and if you think the Crypt Keeper, Mike Pence, is any better, he may actually be WORSE – or have you seen his belief in “conversion therapyfor gays or that women should be forced to perform funerals for aborted fetuses?).

The battle cry should be heard far and wide. We shall never acquiesce ANYTHING to the conman who suddenly finds himself at the helm of the States of America. There will be no “chance” given to someone who has consistently demonstrated through words, actions and his personnel decisions that, if he isn’t an out-and-out fascist, he’s at least following the playbook pretty fucking close. For these and a host of other reasons that will become apparent – and there will be more and they will be blatant – the people of this country must say vive la resistance! Jamais de remise! It is the only thing that will prevent the destruction that is coming.

A Correct Move Taken Too Far

StoneMountain

It may seem like it was eons ago, but in reality it has been exactly one month. On the night of June 17, a young man named Dylann Roof strolled into the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church for evening bible services. He was joined by ten black parishioners, including the senior pastor and South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney, as they enjoyed their evening of fellowship and worship with each other. As the bible study came to a close, Roof allegedly pulled a Glock 41 .45 caliber handgun and opened fire. After five reloads, nine of the parishioners laid dead; the tenth was spared by Roof allegedly so that person could tell the story of Roof’s attack.

Law enforcement quickly caught Roof in North Carolina the next morning and extradited him back to the quaint Southern city by the Atlantic Ocean, resplendent with its Spanish moss hanging from the trees, palmetto trees swaying in the wind off the beaches and seeped in the history of not only the United States but of the Confederate States of America (Fort Sumter was the site of the first shots of the Civil War in 1861). Further investigation, however, revealed an ugly truth that many have turned their heads to over the years. Roof, through leaving his one victim alive in the church (it is reported he told her he wanted to start a “race war”) and through a manifesto on a website allegedly his that featured photographs of him posing with the Confederate Battle Flag as well as standing on  the U. S. flag while spitting on it, brought to light the horrific factor that a relic of the South had now been corrupted into something viewed with hatred by many U. S. citizens.

Before we go on, we must establish the history. The Battle Flag was in no stretch the official flag of the CSA. There were three different flags that were tried by the government, but all bore too much of a resemblance to the U. S. flag for soldiers from either side to be able to differentiate between the two in the heat of battle. Thus, the Battle Flag – most notably carried by General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia but also carried by other Confederate factions – was used so troops could see where their side of the battle was located.

Following the end of the Civil War, the Battle Flag’s usage drifted off, supposedly into history. That would take a turn, however, when Southern Democrats, stifling under the boot heels of the Reconstruction period and the stiff penalties that were imposed by the victorious North and the Republican Party, formed the racially motivated Ku Klux Klan and resurrected the banner, in essence, as their battle flag. While also carrying U. S. flags in several marches through the early part of the 20th century (including a particularly noteworthy march through Washington, D.C.), the Battle Flag was more commonly used in the South along with the Battle Flag.

In 1894 the Battle Flag was incorporated into the state flag of Mississippi, where it flew until 1906 when a legal error failed to give the state either an official flag or a coat of arms. That banner was the de facto flag of the state until 2001, when it was officially put back into use for a short period before being replaced. It was also used in the flag of Georgia beginning in 1956 when the Georgia General Assembly used a design from a man named John Sammons Bell, who supported segregation across not only the Palmetto State but also the former Confederacy. That flag flew until 2001, when it was removed.

In 1961 the South Carolina General Assembly added the Battle Flag to the flagpole under the U. S. and South Carolina flags to “commemorate” the 100th anniversary of the Civil War, but it was also put there as a protest at the ever growing movement for civil rights among minorities, especially blacks, across the South and the remainder of the country. Those flags would all fly together until 2000, when the Confederate Battle Flag was moved from atop the South Carolina State House to a Confederate memorial on the State House grounds.

Everyone up to speed? Good…

Which brings us to last month and its aftermath. Instead of perhaps examining the issues that were at the forefront of the horrendous act – mental health, drug abuse or misuse and gun availability – South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley decided to use the moment (especially after the photos surfaced of Roof and the Confederate Battle Flag and his manifesto of white supremacy) to call for the Battle Flag’s removal from the State House grounds.

Really, what politician in his right mind had a chance in standing against that?

Not to say there weren’t those that tried, but the vote to remove the Battle Flag (which needed two-thirds of the House and the Senate) rocketed through the political process. Six days ago, amid a somber ceremony that was deserving of a memento of history and a crowd that thought they were at a British soccer match, the Confederate Battle Flag came down and was moved to a museum.

While many may cry that the Battle Flag is a part of their “heritage,” it isn’t exactly the heritage that you would like to remember. First off, the “heritage” is that of a treasonous act – secession from the United States – that, if performed nowadays, would have many screaming for the perpetrators to be shot on site. Secondly, the Battle Flag – despite its representation as the flag that thousands of Southern soldiers fought for – had been utterly corrupted by first the Southern Democrats, then the KKK and today by white supremacists. Germany has a heritage, too…but they choose not to fly the Nazi Party flag, which was once the official German flag, because of the baggage it has entailed in its existence. The removal of the flag from the South Carolina State House – and other official government buildings across the South – was long overdue and right in its execution.

Here’s where it might get interesting for some of you.

Since the removal of the Battle Flag in South Carolina, there have been other actions that are dubious at best. The television show The Dukes of Hazzard was removed from syndicated broadcasting because the Dodge Charger featured on the show and driven by the Duke boys, the General Lee, featured a Confederate Battle Flag ironically atop the roof. Video games were removed from the Apple Store because the games featured the flag during gameplay. This would prove to only be the tip of the iceberg, however.

There are movements across several Southern states to remove Confederate monuments from their locations, none probably more ludicrous than the idea to remove the carvings of General “Stonewall” Jackson, Confederate president Jefferson Davis and Lee from a mountainside in Stone Mountain, GA. Add into the fray movements to rename schools, other buildings and even streets that have ties with a Confederate history and it does reach the point of going too far.

The Civil War was the darkest period in U. S. history and there are some pretty bleak things that have been done in the name of this country. While the Battle Flag might have been unfairly blemished since that time, its removal was appropriate considering what it inspired in the South Carolina massacre. Taking that tragedy and using it any further, however, is wrong because it is an attempt to whitewash the historical significance of an event.

Rather than trying to act as if those four bleak years from 1861-1865 didn’t exist, why not demonstrate how far we as U. S. citizens have come? Even a school field trip from Robert E. Lee Middle School (literally tens across the U. S.) can learn about the man, the fact that he was a highly decorated graduate of West Point that battled for the Union in the Mexican-American War of 1846 and in Texas protecting U. S. citizens from Indian attacks in the early 1850s before defending his home of Virginia while seeing Confederate monuments and battlefields.

Just because one part of history has been tarnished is no reason to remove all of it from existence. It also isn’t a reason to remove it from entertainment or educational purposes. While the Confederate Battle Flag has reached the place it should have been many years ago – in a museum case – that’s not a reason to completely strip it from U. S. history.