Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Beginning of the End

One week into this administration and it is all too clear that not only are we in unchartered waters, we could be witnessing the beginning of the destruction of the Republic. Bill Maher is correct: this is a right-wing coup.

Let's put aside for the moment the ridiculous press briefings and talk-show appearances of Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway concerning Donald Trump's "alternative" facts regarding the size of his inaugural crowd or his absurd assertion that 3 to 5 million fraudulent votes were cast in the election. Let's also put aside his pissing contest on twitter with Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto over who's going to pay for the wall that resulted in Nieto cancelling his meeting with Trump. And, finally, let's put aside his childish rants at the media over how "unfair" they've been to him since he took office. It's a given that we now have a president who is delusional, stupid and incredibly thin-skinned. Any one of these character traits on their own would be enough to raise eyebrows, but collectively they are deeply disturbing.

And yet, as strange as it might seem, I wasn't all that surprised by the above. Let's face it, if you were paying attention at all over the last 19 months, none of this should've surprised you either. He's behaved like a spoiled brat his whole life. Why should he change now? If you're waiting for him to grow up and behave like an adult, I have some advice for you: don't hold your breath. What we have here is a textbook case of the consummate narcissist in all his splendor, and barring an impeachment, we're going to have a front-row seat for this clown show for the next four years.

No, the thing that should concern all of us is the manner in which, slowly but surely, this administration is transforming the country into its own image. The executive orders are just the beginning. Did you happen to catch what Trump did with the National Security Council? He "removed" the Director of National Intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and inserted his buddy, Steve Bannon, to help run it along with retired lieutenant general Mike Flynn. That's right, a white supremacist and a conspiracy theory nut job are now in charge of the agency tasked with providing for the security of this nation.

I'll wait a few minutes while you change your underwear.

By the way, did you also catch what happened over at the State Department? The entire senior management "resigned." I inserted the quotation marks because nobody really knows for certain whether the exodus was voluntary or not. We've seen cases of officials resigning from government positions that really weren't resignations. These days, it's a polite way of saying "Your services will no longer be needed. Enjoy your retirement." But still, ALL of the senior management? That just doesn't happen. This was nothing less than a purge.

Then we have the fiasco over at the Environmental Protection Agency. In the event you missed it because you were paying too much attention to one of Trump's temper tantrums, the administration issued a gag order on the agency. Employees are forbidden from going on twitter or any other social media website to discuss climate science, which as far as Republicans are concerned is akin to believing in the Easter Bunny. Phil Plait is right: this is "no media blackout. It's censorship."

And what about that wink and a nod from the Justice Department over Trump's decision to hire his son-in-law as a senior advisor that came exactly one day after the inauguration? If you didn't see that one coming, you're in a coma. I guess if you can get away with being the leader of the free world while still owning billions of dollars of real estate - half of which is in foreign countries - what's a little nepotism anyway?

From his threat to impose a twenty percent tariff on Mexican imports, to his antagonism of our European allies, to his executive order to ban Muslims from entering the country - which was partially stayed by a federal judge - this president is taking this country down a dark path that could further damage its already tarnished reputation and will undoubtedly destabilize a world already on the precipice.

And while all this is going on, the media has become the "opposition party," according to Trump. Steve Bannon has said the press should "shut up." Kellyanne Conway, in an interview on Fox News, wonders why "people haven't been fired." The sheer arrogance of both statements underscores the real problem and the very grave threat.

This is a scary time for this nation. The lone bright spot is, once again, the pushback by the American people who for the second weekend in a row took to the streets to protest this president; this time over his Muslim ban. It was very reassuring that even as America's institutions are facing their toughest challenge since the McCarthy era, its citizens are determined to not let democracy die.

If only Democrats had such a spine. But then we're talking about a party that still hasn't fully come to terms with what happened last November; indeed what has been happening for the last seven years. Since the 2008 election that won them the White House and overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate, the Democratic Party has lost the Congress, the majority of state houses across the country and now the White House. And yet, so far as the leadership of the party is concerned, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, so what's the big deal?

The same thing happened in 1912 when the Titanic sank. The White Star Line tried to rationalize the tragedy by saying it was a once in a lifetime event; that all the elements conspired against them that night. Finally, the truth set in and they were left with one inescapable conclusion: that it was their own arrogance that led to the sinking; the elements were superfluous.

Until and unless Democrats come to a similar epiphany, they will continue to lose at the ballot box, and this country will remain in the hands of a fascist regime.

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