The face of this country built on slavery, genocide, and stolen land has been laid bare with the election Trump as if that face wasn’t already clear enough. An uncomfortable truth is that the courts, the police, the feds, prosecutors, prison guards, most politicians, and the whole system is just as racist and fascist as Trump. He’s hardly an anomaly. He’s just more overt about his bigotry than most.
It should now be clear to most (if it wasn’t already) that we live in a dictatorship, not a democracy. Even if gerrymandering, the influence of super PACs, unlimited corporate donations, the difficulty of registering to vote, and the inability of 6.1 million Americans to vote due to felony convictions were eliminated, voting in Presidential elections still wouldn’t matter because of the electoral college, which decides for us who should be President. Trump lost the popular vote by more than 2.5 million votes, and more than half the country refused to vote for either candidate. Only 59 million people voted for Trump or about 18.2% of the country and very few strongly supported either candidate. But because the electoral college wanted Trump, we got Trump. As many of the members of the electoral college are politicians and those in other positions of power, the electoral college essentially enables the US government to vote for its own President.
Like many ultra-conservative politicians, Trump seems hellbent on bringing the apocalypse either through nuclear war or by aggravating the effects of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) by slashing all regulations on oil and ramping up oil production. Despite the fact that the scientific community is nearly unanimous on ACD, coastal cities around the world are flooding from the melting ice caps, (which are projected to soon disappear by some scientistsi) coral bleaching and rising water temperatures are devastating marine life, and extreme weather events, droughts, forest fires, flooding, parasites and diseases that thrive on increased moisture and heat are on the rise from the increase in moisture in the atmosphere, Trump has called ACD “bullshit,” an “expensive hoax” and perhaps most ridiculously on twitter on November 6, 2012 Trump tweeted ““The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”ii He is already working to remove the US from the Paris Agreementiii, which itself is far too moderate and not nearly enough to mitigate the effects of climate change. In North Dakota Trump stated “We’re going to cancel the Paris climate agreement and stop all payment of US tax dollars to UN global warming programs.” In his first week in office, Trump put the “The EPA and a handful of other government agencies …under gag orders: employees are forbidden to discuss ongoing changes, post new material on agency websites, communicate on social media, or respond to queries from media or the public. This morning, further reports emerged that the agency has been told to remove all mentions of climate change from its website.”iv
In May Trump said of the Keystone XL pipeline that was defeated after a long battle by those actually concerned with the future of the planet, “I would absolutely approve it, 100 percent, but I would want a better deal. I want it built, but I want a piece of the profits. That’s how we’re going to make our country rich again.“v On the 24th of January, Trump signed executive actions to approve the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines. According to a leaked memo published by the Center on Media and Democracyvi Trump plans to “increase federal oil and natural gas leasing, [even though it was already increased by 75% by Obama] lift the coal lease moratorium, and give states greater say on energy leases on federal lands within state borders, expedite approvals on LNG [liquefied natural gas] export terminals, move full steam ahead on pipeline infrastructure, amend the Renewable Fuel Standard and relax federal fuel economy standards.”vii
In Trump’s “100-day plan to Make America Great Again,” he promises to “lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward,” “lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal,” “cancel “billions in payments to UN climate change programs,” and “suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur. All vetting of people coming into our country will be considered “extreme vetting.”viii His program also “establishes a two-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence for illegally re-entering the U.S. after a previous deportation, and a five-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence for illegally re-entering for those with felony convictions” Additionally, his program promises to expand military investment, despite the fact that the US has the largest military in the world and already spends more on the military than the next top 6 spenders in the world combined.
“On Thursday, The Hill reported that the Trump transition team is preparing to reduce funding for the DOJ’s Civil Rights division and to eliminate the DOJ’s Violence Against Women Grants program, which includes transitional housing aid and legal assistance for survivors of domestic violence.”ix Trump also wants to introduce stop and frisk techniques nationwide, despite the fact that it was ruled unconstitutional in a NYC court.
On tax law, Trump’s program promises to slash the corporate tax rate. “The business rate will be lowered from 35% to 15%, and the trillions of dollars of American corporate money overseas can now be brought back at a 10% rate.” Two positive measures he outlines in his program are to withdraw America from NAFTA and the TPP but Obama already withdrew America from the TPP and it’s doubtful Trump will actually follow through on his promise to withdraw from NAFTA. He also proposes the far too moderate but still progressive measure of imposing a five year ban on White House and Congressional officials from becoming lobbyists after leaving their state positions, ironic seeing as he has no problem appointing former government officials who are now lobbyists for private corporations. Also constructive would be a fulfillment of his promise to lower costs for education and “establish tariffs to discourage companies from laying off their workers in order to relocate in other countries and ship their products back to the U.S. Tax-free.” But again it seems highly unlikely he will follow through on this promise as Trump himself has outsourced massive amounts of labor to service his corporations for his own personal enrichment.
Trump has significant financial incentives to lie about ACD according to his own financial disclosure forms released for the Federal Election Commission.x He invested between $500,000 and $1 million in Energy Transfer Partners alone, the company responsible for the highly controversial Dakota Access, Trans-Pecos, and Comanche Trail pipelines. He has also invested $500,000 to $1 million in Phillips 66, which is to have a 25% stake in the Dakota Access project once finished. Chief executive of Energy Transfer Partners, Kelcy Warren, has also given $103,000 to elect Trump, $66,800 to the RNC, and the maximum allowed donations to Paul Ryan and Fred Upson xi. On 29 June, Warren made $3,000 in donations to Trump’s campaign, despite the fact that the limit for individual campaign contributions is $2,700 per election. Warren also donated $100,000 to the Trump Victory Fundxii on June 29.
Trump is so anti-science and pro-oil that scientists and meteorologists are “working to copy and safely store public data using independent servers. Earlier this month, the University of Toronto held a “Guerrilla Archiving” event inviting volunteers to “join in a full day of hackathon activities in preparation for the Trump presidency.” The website “Climate Mirror” was erected as part of an effort to “mirror public climate datasets before the Trump Administration takes office to make sure these datasets remain freely and broadly accessible. Meanwhile, media reports are emerging that some Department of Energy officials are refusing to comply with a Trump administration demand to hand over the names of all of the agency’s contractors and employers who have worked on key climate policies under President Barack Obama. The request elicited concerns of a witch hunt and purge orchestrated by the incoming administration. But The Independent reported earlier this month, “The US Department of Energy (DOE) has refused to answer questions issued to them by Donald Trump’s transition team. In a letter dated December 28, attorney general offices from 13 states threatened litigation against Trump if he discards the Clean Power Plan, as he has vowed to do.”xiii Trump also plans to eliminate or change FDA rules on inspections of food, temperatures at which food can be safely stored, and “farm and food production hygiene”.
Trump’s Climate Change Denying, Klan Cabinet
Trump’s appointments demonstrate his commitment to xenophobia, racism, and aggravating ACD to the point of endangering the survival of our species and planet. Whether or not he realizes that is what is doing is another matter entirely. Trump originally picked Exxon-funded ACD denier Myron Ebell to oversee the Environmental Protection Agency. Ebell is head of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) think tank, which states “CEI questions global warming alarmism, makes the case for access to affordable energy, and opposes energy-rationing policies, including the Kyoto Protocol, cap-and-trade legislation, and EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. CEI also opposes all government mandates and subsidies for conventional and alternative energy technologies.” CEI produced a TV commercial that astoundingly stated, “And as for carbon dioxide, it isn’t smog or smoke, it’s what we breathe out and plants breathe in. They call it pollution. We call it life.” Ebell also runs the so-called Cooler Heads Coalition, a group that lists the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Heartland Institute among its members, which has attempted to prevent the teaching of ACD in schools. However, on December 8th Trump changed his pick for head of the EPA to Oklahoma Attorney, General Scott Pruitt, a long-time fossil fuel industry ally, ACD denier, opponent of the EPA itself, and perhaps an even worse choice than Ebell. Mining,oil, and gas companies have made 294 contributions to Pruitt, totaling $345,246 since 2002.xiv As chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association, he brags on his own LinkedIn profile, he “led the charge with repeated notices and subsequent lawsuits against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for their leadership’s activist agenda.”xv Pruitt has sued the EPA a total of 14 times for the cross state air pollution rule, (on the grounds of “protecting state’s rights” but that argument is obviously moot as air pollution isn’t magically contained within borders) the rule placing limits on mercury pollution, the EPA’s efforts to reduce ozone pollution, the plan by the EPA to protect scenic vistas in certain national parks, clean air standards for oil and gas drilling sites, for the determination that greenhouse gas pollution endangers health and the environment, for the clean water rule, and for the clean power plan to curb climate change. Picking Pruitt for the head of the EPA is perhaps even worse than abolishing the agency altogether. It’s akin to putting a rapist in charge of a women’s crisis center. Tragically, Pruitt was confirmed by the Senate on February 17 by a vote of 52 to 46.
Trump has picked Chris Shank, an ardent ACD denier to head the NASA transition team, which will likely mean funds allocated for NASA to study climate science will be gutted. He is seeking Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, as Secretary of State and former Texas Governor Rick Perry for Secretary of Energy who has openly advocated abolishing the agency he may be in charge of leading. Trump has chosen Mike McKenna, a fossil fuel lobbyist, former lobbyist of MWR Strategies owned by the Kochs, and representative of Dow Chemical and energy firm EDF Suez who owns fracking licenses in the UK, to lead the transition at the Department of Energy.
Trump is also considering Harold Hamm for DOE secretary, the billionaire CEO of fracking company Continental Resources that runs most of the Bakken shale drilling in North Dakota. Hamm thinks even the ecocidal Trump is not pro-oil enough. Truthout reported in November, “During the presidential campaign, Hamm stated that Trump did not fully “understand” oil and gas issues after Trump said that local communities should have a say in whether or not fracking should be allowed where they live.”xvi
For Homeland Security Secretary, Trump has picked John Kelly who called Guantanamo a “model for detention operations worldwide”xvii and has shown gross disregard for human rights as a military General, objecting to restrictions on funding of the Guatemalan military, which has committed genocide. Kelly is also vehemently xenophobic. On January 25th, Kelly wrote an internal Department of Homeland Security memo that proposed recruiting 100,000 National Guard troops from 11 states to detain undocumented immigrants and on the same day wrote another memo entitled “Implementing the President’s Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements Policies” which calls for unaccompanied, undocumented children to be sent back to their countries of origin and calls for the protections provided to their parents (if they live in the US) to be removed. The memo claims the asylum process is “rife with fraud and abuse,” and accuses asylum seekers of lying about their fears of returning to their countries of origin. It calls for their interrogation to determine whether or not their claims are legitimate and requires ample evidence, as if when fleeing a violent country the first thing one thinks is to bring evidence of the danger. The memo also calls for the director of the USCIS to increase the number of asylum officers and anti-fraud officers. On February 21st, Kelly wrote two more memos that called for the hiring of 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents and 10,000 additional immigration officers at ICE. Kelley was confirmed by the US Senate on January 20th by a vote of 88-11.
For VP Trump has picked Mike Pence. As Vice President Pence seeks to overturn the Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade, stating he longs “for the day that Roe v. Wade is sent to the ash heap of history,” and as a governor of Indiana he voted for the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act or HR3, which narrows the definition of rape in an attempt to work around the Hyde Amendment that allows for abortions in the cases of rape and incest. Pence is co-author of H.R. 374, the “Life at Conception Act”, which states that as soon as an egg is fertilized it should have the full rights of a person. According to NARAL Pro-choice America, “As governor of Indiana, he backed an agenda of shutting down clinics, denying abortion coverage for women, and criminalizing women for pursuing an abortion.” As governor of Indiana, Pence also ordered a $24 million cut from the Indiana state budget allocated for colleges and universities and a $27 million cut from the Family and Social Services Administration. Like the rest of Trump’s lunatic cabinet, Pence is a climate science denier. In 2001, Pence wrote in an op-ed that “global warming is a myth,” claiming that “the Earth is actually cooler today than it was about 50 years ago” with absolutely no evidence whatsoever to back up that claim. In 2009, Pence fought to crush the American Clean Energy and Security Act (Waxman-Markey). According to insideclimatenews.org, Pence also “voted to eliminate funding for climate education programs and to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions…repeatedly voted against energy efficiency and renewable energy funding and rules” and voted “for several bills that supported fossil fuel development, including legislation promoting offshore drilling”. Pence alo favors Draconian mandatory minimum sentencing and fought against efforts to reduce penalties for low-level cannabis offenses. During 2014, Pence penned a letter to Eric Holder, explaining that his state would not abide by the federal prison rape elimination standards because they are “too expensive”. Pence supports the Orwellian Patriot Act, the TPP, NAFTA, CAFTA, and other disastrous “free-trade” agreements. Pence voted for the war in Iraq, opposes closing Gitmo, and is an extreme Zionist who vocally supports Israel’s brutal and criminal occupation and containment of Gaza. Pence also voted against the DREAM ACT, which would give conditional non-immigrant status to the children of undocumented immigrants and opposes birthright citizenship. Pence also praised the 2010 Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United, which gave corporations the ability to make unlimited donations to politicians in exchange for political influence, calling it a victory for “free speech.”
For attorney general, Trump has picked Jeff Sessions who was once denied a federal judgeship in the 1980s due to his sympathies for the Ku Klux Klan, saying he thought they were “OK until I found out that they smoked pot.” He has also called the Voting Rights Act “intrusive.” Right after Trump announced his appointment of Sessions, former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke, tweeted his support. According to testimony made during the March and May hearings of the 1986 Senate Judiciary Committee, Sessions made racist remarks and called the NAACP and ACLU “un-American” and “communist-inspired.” According to testimony from former black attorney, Tom Figures, Sessions repeatedly called him “boy” along with other black employees. And according to testimony by J. Gerald Hebert, Sessions called a white lawyer with black clients a “race traitor.”xviii Sessions has also blocked drug law reform and according to Politico Influence, the GEO Group hired two aides to Sessions, David Stewart and Ryan Robichaux, to lobby for the sale of federal contracts to private prisons, likely foreshadowing the kinds of policies he would advocate as attorney general.xix According to James Kligore of Truthout, “Sessions has opposed limitations of asset forfeiture to police, the use of consent decrees and the moderation of mandatory minimum sentences. He has shown a particular passion for anti-immigrant measures, with his office issuing a 25-page report on immigration policy in 2015 which blamed immigrants for job losses and declines in wages. Bob Libal and Judith Greene, long-time critics of private prisons and deportations, have labeled Sessions “the most prominent immigration hard-liner in the Senate.” Sessions has been equally vehement in his support for continuing the War on Drugs,”xx which is truly a war on drug users, of course, and an excuse to target anyone the government doesn’t like.
As a prosecutor, Sessions argued for Draconian sentences for minor drug crimes and even believed Obama was too moderate on the issue. He also said to a Senate hearing in April that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”xxi Sessions prosecuted three civil rights organizers, (known as the “Marion Three”) including a former aide to Martin Luther King Jr. for voter fraud in 1985 with charges that could have added up to 100 years had they not been acquitted due to a lack of evidence. Despite the fact that in August the DOJ announced that it intends to phase out the use of private, for-profit prisons after an inspector-general report found flagrant human rights violations in them, Trump has doubled down on his support for them. Trump ignorantly told Chris Matthews in June “I do think we can do a lot of privatizations and private prisons. It seems to work a lot better.” Sessions is also an advocate of torture and has lied that waterboarding has “worked” to extract information. He also supports keeping Gitmo open, calling it “a safe place to keep prisoners,” despite the countless instances of sexual, physical, and emotional torture there by guards. Trump himself is also a vocal advocate of torture and has said he would resume waterboarding “in a heartbeat” and would “bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding”. He also called waterboarding a “minor form” of interrogation. This all despite the fact that the United States government hung Japanese military leaders for waterboarding after World War II and the fact that torture is considered a war crime under the Geneva Convention, the Detainee Treatment Act, the US War Crimes Act, and 18 USC, sections 818 and 3231.
Sessions has also been a vocal opponent of the federal shield law, which would provide federal protections for journalists along with the state protections that already exist in many states. “This legislation, in effect, says we are going to create a legal mechanism to protect anyone who is going to call himself a newsperson,” Sessions said in 2013. Of course, Sessions wants to limit government transparency and freedom of the press for obvious, selfish reasons. Sessions has also advocated for a religious test to ban Muslims in 2015 and said “I don’t characterize” grabbing women by the genitals “as sexual assault.”xxii Sessions also voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act in 2013xxiii and against legislation to decrease sexual assaultxxiv in the military twice. Sessions has also claimed Roe V. Wade is about “politics” and not constitutional rights, and that “I firmly believe that Roe v. Wade and its descendants represent one of the worst, colossally erroneous Supreme Court decisions of all time.” Sessions also voted to ban same-sex marriage,“he opposed Title X funding legislation that supports contraception, breast cancer screening and other health services for low-income women. And Sessions repeatedly voted to defund Planned Parenthood.”xxvAs for Trump, his policies are already proving to be anti-woman (and anti-people more broadly) as he has reinstated the Global Gag Rule, which prevents NGOs that receive US funding from providing abortion or even counseling on abortion.
For head of Health and Human Services, Trump has chosen Tom Price who seeks to dismantle Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid benefits, tax workplace health benefits, and remove the ACA’s provision that prohibits insurance companies from discriminating against patients with pre-existing conditions. Price also bought biomedical stock shares of Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd. at a reduced price while pushing for legislation that would favor the biomedical corporation, despite denying doing so in his congressional testimony. Price was confirmed by the Senate in a vote of 52 to 47 on February 8th. Trump has also picked Mick Mulvaney as Secretary of the Office of Management and Budget. Price and Mulvaney have both spent their careers endeavoring to demolish Social Security and Medicare. Mulvaney was confirmed by Senate vote of 51–49 on February 16, 2017.
For his agriculture advisers, Trump has picked exclusively big agribusiness insiders. For Secretary of Commerce, Trump has chosen Wilbur Ross, the so-called “king of bankruptcy,” a Wall Street billionaire, and vulture investor. Ross has outsourced American textile jobs to China and Mexicoxxvi and his negligence resulted in the deaths of 12 coal miners at his mine in West Virginia after the mine exploded.xxvii When he bought the mine it was cited for 208 safety violations. Ross is likely being considered for the position since he bailed out Trump’s casino, The Taj Mahal, in Atlantic City after it neared bankruptcy.
For Treasury Secretary, Trump has picked Steve Mnuchin, a millionaire, hedge fund manager, investment banker, former Goldman Sachs executive for 17 years and former owner of OneWest Bank (originally IndyMac) that foreclosed 36,000 residential homes, utilizing methods so callous a federal judge called them “harsh, repugnant, shocking, repulsive…inequitable, unconscionable, vexatious, and opprobrious.” As secretary Mnuchin plans to gut Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms, calling it his number one priority.xxviii He also wants to gut the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and abolish the Consumer Protection Act. Mnuchin was confirmed as Treasury Secretary on the 13th of February by a vote of 53 to 47
For Secretary of State, Trump is considering the disgraced former Army general and director of the Central Intelligence Agency, David H. Petraeus. For Secretary of Defense Trump has picked retired United States Marine Corps and war criminal General James Mattis, one of the four commanders during the Fallujah siege in November 2004, in which 5000 innocent civilians were killed, including men, women, children, and the elderly by US sniper fire.xxix Mattis also opposes closing the Orwellian Guantánamo Bay prison that has held people without charge for decades and regularly tortures detainees. He also opposed Obama’s nuclear treaty with Iran. Disturbingly, Mattis was confirmed by the Senate as Secretary of Defense last Friday in a 98-1 vote. Only U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand objected to his appointment.
For National Security Adviser, Trump has chosen retired Gen. Michael Flynn. Flynn was fired for abusing staff and is a vocal advocate of torture, stating “I am a believer in leaving as many options on the table right up until the last possible minute,” xxx The New York Times reported that Flynn, who will hold “one of the most powerful roles in shaping military and foreign policy…. believes Islamist militancy poses an existential threat on a global scale, and the Muslim faith itself is the source of the problem … describing it as a political ideology, not a religion.”xxxi Thomas Bossert will serve as the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism and doesn’t have to approved by the Senate. Bossert will have equal rank as Michael Flynn. Bossert authored the National Strategy for Homeland Security of 2007, which praises “fusion centers” that gravely infringe on the privacy of common people and make racial, religious, and political profiling a matter of standard policy. The document also requests Congress make a bill permanent that gives police even more sweeping, unchecked, unregulated powers called the “2007 Protect America Act”. The document focuses almost exclusively on violence perpetrated by Muslims while briefly acknowledging, “The terrorist threat to the Homeland is not restricted to violent Islamic extremist groups. We also confront an ongoing threat posed by domestic terrorists based and operating strictly within the United States. Often referred to as “single-issue” groups, they include white supremacist groups, animal rights extremists, and eco-terrorist groups, among others.” Bossert also wrote an op-ed for the Washington Times defending the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan as “moral.” Update: after 24 days as national security adviser, Flynn resigned.
For the head of the CIA, Trump has picked Kansas Representative Mike Pompeo, who, in 2013, falsely accused American Muslim leaders of being complicit in terrorist acts. He has also claimed waterboarding is not torture, opposed closing CIA black site prisons, and claimed “these men and women are not torturers, they are patriots” in reference to the torturing psychopaths mentioned in the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture, which documented techniques, such as rectal force feeding, sexual violence, sensory deprivation,“being slammed into walls, hung from the ceiling, kept in total darkness, deprived of sleep — sometimes with forced standing — for up to seven and one-half days, forced to stand on broken limbs for hours on end, threatened with mock execution, confined in a coffin-like box for 11 days, bathed in ice water, dressed in diapers. One detainee “literally looked like a dog that had been kenneled.”xxxii
Markwayne Mullin, a Republican U.S. Representative from Oklahoma and a Cherokee tribe member co-chairing Trump’s Native American Affairs Coalition has betrayed all his native brothers and sisters, stating “We should take tribal land away from public treatment…As long as we can do it without unintended consequences, I think we will have broad support around Indian country.” For chief White House strategist, Trump has appointed Steve Bannon, a white supremacist, former manager of the extremist right-wing website, Breitbart, and a proud Islamophobe who once called Islam “a cancer.” Bannon also drafted Trump’s Muslim ban and Trump recently wrote an executive order making Bannon head of NSC, allowing him to add people to the government’s kill lists.
For labor secretary, Trump was considering Andy Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants, which owns the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s fast-food chains. About 60 percent of the recent DOL investigations into these restaurants found violations of wage and hour laws and he has faced multiple lawsuits for discrimination, refusing his employees breaks, and not paying his employees.xxxiii He also opposes minimum wage and has threatened to replace his workers with robots if the minimum wage increases. He wrote an anti-abortion law in Missouri and opposes overtime pay. Update: Puzder withdrew himself from consideration as labor secretary on February 15.
For Secretary of Education, Trump has picked Betsy DeVos who has a net worth of $5.2 billion and whose brother founded Blackwater. She will likely push to gut funding of public schools and increase privatization within the institution. The Huffington Post reported in November of last year “As early as 2011, Betsy DeVos was well recognized as an influential if stealthy advocate for school choice, especially in the form of vouchers. Such efforts are always couched in terms that emphasize empowering parents and using competition to make all schools better, but the agenda has little to do with excellent education for all and much more to do with taking the nation’s $600 billion school budget and getting it into private hands. Having failed in 2000 to convince Michigan voters to institute vouchers, DeVos altered strategy and backed legislators and bills that favored vouchers and privatization in various states. Forming All Children Matter in 2003, DeVos quickly spent $7.6 million in the first year to get electoral results in favor of privatization.”xxxiv Devos was confirmed as Secretary of Education by a vote of 50-51 on February 7.
For chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Donald Trump has picked Ajit Pai, former lawyer for the billion dollar telecom giant, Verizon, who has said that he wants to take a “weed whacker” to net neutrality rules, which provide a level playing field for websites. Without net neutrality, internet service providers would block and drown out small, independent voices with little capital on the internet (like this one) and replace them with the highest bidders, the deafening voices of massive corporations, their leaders, and their underlings. In his second week as FCC chairman, Pai ended investigations into companies using zero-rating, which is the “practice of charging you for data if you use a competitor’s services, such as video streaming or other downloads, but not if you use their own services” according to RIPIRG, thereby favoring some large corporate websites over others. On February 3, the FCC canceled the subsidized internet service for 17,500 low-income customers, which previously provided them with Lifelife services. Under Pai, the FCC has also abolished regulations that require certain ISPs to reveal data caps or hidden fees.
To replace Scalia on the Supreme Court, on February 1st Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch, an extremely conservative judge. Moderate Merrick Garland nominated by Obama to replace Scalia was refused a simple hearing by obstructionist, fascist republicans and so the Supreme Court has been missing a judge for an entire year since Scalia’s death. Gorsuch is a religious fundamentalist who has voted to keep a public display of the Ten Commandments, supports the death penalty, opposes the EPA and assisted suicide, and believes religious organizations should be able to choose whether or not they adhere to the ACA mandate to provide contraception to their employees.(Gorsuch sided with Hobby Lobby in the case of Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius.) Elizabeth Warren stated “Before even joining the bench, [Gorsuch] advocated to make it easier for public companies to defraud investors. As a judge, he has twisted himself into a pretzel to make sure the rules favor giant companies over workers and individual Americans. He has sided with employers who deny wages, improperly fire workers, or retaliate against whistleblowers for misconduct. He has ruled against workers in all manner of discrimination cases. And he has demonstrated hostility toward women’s access to basic health care.”
Trump’s pick for Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the commission responsible for protecting Americans from exploitative and unscrupulous big banks, is Jay Clayton who has worked on Wall Street for 15 years and is a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell – one of the top law firms for Wall Street banks, including Goldman Sachs. Clayton’s wife is also vice president at Goldman Sachs and he also played a prime role in the 2008 financial crisis, advocating Goldman Sachs pocket $10 billion in bailout money. Clayton also worked on the deal that sold Bear Stearns to JP Morgan Chase at the cost of $2 per share and the Barclays acquisition of assets from Lehman Brothers, according to resistthehostiletakeover.org. Clayton will have his confirmation hearing on March 23.
At least nine senior members of Trump’s transition team, including every position that deals with ACD deny the existence of ACD and have significant investments in fossil fuels.xxxv In fact, on CNN Anthony Scaramucci, an executive committee adviser of Trump’s transition team emphatically refuted the existence of ACD and literally claimed that the Earth is 5,500 years old.xxxvi Trump’s pick for Secretary of the Interior, U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke of Montana, has voted against environmental protections and in favor of polluting industries 97 percent of the time according to the League of Conservation Voters. For example, Zinke has voted for fossil fuel subsidies and for the extraction of oil on public lands. Zinke was confirmed as Secretary on March 1st by the Senate. Before Zinke was confirmed, Trump was considering Forrest Lucas, an oil industry executive and head of Lucas Oil who in a display of egregious narcissism paid over $100 million to have a stadium named after him a decade ago to be the Secretary of the Department of the Interior. (The previous DOI Secretary, appointed by Obama, is Sally Jewell, former Mobile Oil executive.) Trump also considered another glorified clown, Sarah Palin and who could possibly be a worse person to manage federal lands and the country’s natural resources, and make decisions about the land rights of Native Americans than the woman who campaigned on the slogan of “drill baby drill!”
Trump has also been outspoken about his commitment to build a wall between the US and Mexico and based a large part of his platform on the promise. Further, he has pledged to deport 3 million undocumented people to top Obama’s deportation of 2 million. He has also said of Mexicans during the campaign“They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists and some I assume are good people.” xxxvii Further demonstrating his extreme ignorance and intolerance, Trump also wants a Muslim registry (proposed by Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state whom Trump has named as part of his transition team). A little known fact is that there already is a government run Muslim registry, called the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, (NSEERS) which has received very little press or criticism. NSEERS requires port-of-entry registration for nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, and Syria. It also requires non-citizen males over the age of 16 from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Eritrea, Lebanon, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, and Kuwait, countries with predominately Muslim populations, to register at the INS in person. As of May 2003, 82,581 individuals had registered in compliance with the program, of whom, at least 13,153 were deported. Parts of NSEERS were suspended in April 27 2011 and replaced by the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) program, which collects biometric data like fingerprints from non-U.S. citizens between the ages of 14 and 79 when they apply for visas or arrive at US ports. This data is then checked against a database of terrorists, criminals, and undocumented immigrants. But these programs have not caught any terrorists or thwarted any terrorist plots. They simply infringe on privacy of innocent people and made the lives of immigrants and refugees all the more difficult.
In egregious violation of the 1st Amendment that protects citizens’ rights to free speech and freedom of religion, on January 27 (ironically Holocaust Memorial Day) Trump made good on his promise to institute a Muslim ban and signed an executive order entitled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States,” which banned travelers from seven countries with a Muslim majority (Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen) for 90 days and suspended the Refugee Admissions Program for the next 120 days, after which the “refugee admissions to the United States will not exceed 50,000 for fiscal year 2017. The Department of State will restrict the Visa Interview Waiver Program and require additional nonimmigrant visa applicants to undergo an in-person interview.” Originally, the order barred 500,000 green card holders from entering the US or traveling but the DHS made a statement to stipulate they can return if they pass security checks, despite having already passed various security tests to get their green cards. According to Omar Alsamman the “US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has put a hold on all visa extensions and immigration benefits (including adjustment of status and employment authorization) for citizens from the above-mentioned countries who are inside the United States.” It’s important to note that the bill is quite similar to a bill signed by Obama on December 18, 2015 after being passed in the House by a vote of 407-19 called the “Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention.”
Fortunately, less than two weeks after the order was signed, the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejected to reinstate the order and temporary suspended, stating that the administration “has pointed to no evidence that any alien from any of the countries named in the order has perpetrated a terrorist attack in the United States.” However, Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, told Truthout the order has already done massive damage: “…people were brutalized, handcuffed, children handcuffed, people held without food and water for up to 18 hours, forcibly thrown back on airplanes. And, in fact, many people had been trying to see lawyers in airports around the country, and Department of Homeland Security customs and border officials refused to let them see that. And then, in a couple of cases, people were forcibly made to sign away their visa rights, that had been given by the government, in order to be deported.” Trump has already vowed to appeal the decision in court and according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other civil rights lawyers, some customs agents refused to obey the court’s decision to suspend the discriminatory, unconstitutional order at airports in Los Angeles and Washington, DC, preventing attorneys from reaching their clients. During the second week of February alone when ICE declared it was beginning its “national targeted fugitive operation enforcement effort” 680 immigrants were detained for deportation. of whom at least 186 had no criminal history according to ICE. In true dictatorial style, a few top diplomats in the State Department have already been fired as Trump assumped they would object to the Muslim Ban. Further, on Monday January 30, Trump fired the acting attorney general, Sally Yates for ordering Justice Department lawyers to refuse to enforce the Muslim Ban executive order.
Trump’s Sexism and Attacks on Reproductive Healthcare
Trump has also drafted another executive order that violates the establishment clause and equal protection clause entitled “Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom,” which according to The Nation “seeks to create wholesale exemptions for people and organizations who claim religious or moral objections to same-sex marriage, premarital sex, abortion, and trans identity, and it seeks to curtail women’s access to contraception and abortion through the Affordable Care Act…Section 4 of the order, “Specific Agency Responsibilities,” requires [the] HHS to issue a rule exempting any person or organization with religious objections from complying with the ACA’s preventive-care mandate—42 U.S.C. 300gg-13(a)(4)—which includes contraceptive coverage. It requires HHS to ensure that anyone purchasing insurance on a health-care exchange have the option of purchasing a plan that neither covers abortions nor “subsidize[s] plans that do provide such coverage.” And it bars HHS from taking any adverse action against federally funded child-welfare organizations, including those offering adoption, foster, or family support services, that deny anyone these services “due to a conflict with the organization’s religious beliefs.”
Section 4e(2) of the order protects the tax-exempt status of any organization that “believes, speaks, or acts (or declines to act) in accordance with the belief that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, sexual relations are properly reserved for such a marriage, male and female and their equivalents refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy, physiology, or genetics at or before birth, and that human life begins at conception and merits protection at all stages of life”
Section 1 of the order reads “Americans and their religious organizations will not be coerced by the Federal Government into participating in activities that violate their conscience.” So does that mean I can stop paying taxes or adhering to federal laws? Here’s hoping. If signed the order would give federal employees the ability “to refuse on religious grounds to process applications or respond to questions from those whose benefits depend on same sex marriages.”
The order includes in its definition of religious organizations: “for-profit corporations, operated for a religious purpose, even if its purpose is not exclusively religious.” The language is so broad it contradicts itself. One could claim their support of abortion or same-sex marriage is a religious conviction and therefore protected by the very same order that’s meant to discourage these practices.
The order also requires agencies to “faithfully discharge their duty to accommodate the religion of federal employees and shall not promulgate regulations, take actions, or enact policies that substantially burden a person’s or religious organization’s religious exercise unless the imposition represents the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling governmental interest.” Once again “governmental interest” stated here could be interpreted as an interest to uphold the Supreme Court ruling supporting same-sex marriage, which this order is clearly against.
Section 4 of the order also states “No agency shall take adverse action against any person or religious organization that is a Federal employee, contractor, or grantee on the basis of their speaking or acting in accordance with the beliefs described in section 4(e)(2) of this order while outside the scope of their employment, contract, or grant, and shall reasonably accommodate such speech and action when made within the course of their employment, contract, or grant. This provision shall not be construed to diminish or otherwise limit any other protection provided by this order.” This essentially allows federal employees to do whatever they like, regardless of the law, if they claim they’re doing it because of a “religious conviction”. The entire order, but this section in particular is a flagrant and obvious violation of the 1st amendment of the Constitution that requires Church and state be kept separate. Jenny Pizer, senior counsel and law and policy director for Lambda Legal said “They would say this is a nondiscrimination order. We disagree. We would say being denied the ability to discriminate against others is not discrimination against you.”
As if Trump’s stance on abortion and reproductive health-care wasn’t anti-woman enough, Trump also bragged about sexually assaulting women to Access Hollywood host Billy Bush aboard a bus on the set of Days of Our Lives in 2005. 13 women, including his first wife, have accused Trump of sexual assault as well. Four women who competed in the Miss Teen USA, some as young as 15 at that time, also accused Trump of looking at them naked in their dressing rooms.
Trump’s Budget, Conflicts of Interest, and Lawsuits
Trump has also introduced the “Regulatory Accountability Act,” (HR 1062) which makes corporations less accountable and seeks to remove their regulations, The Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act, (or REINS, HR 26) which robs the White House of the ability to enact new rules on anything from air quality to food safety, and the “Midnight Rules Relief” Act, (HR 21) which the Washington Examiner reported “gives Congress the power to disapprove of an infinite number of last-minute regulations with a single vote. Republicans could use the act to reopen Arctic waters for drilling, restart the Dakota Access Pipeline and reverse the federal government’s Western land grab.”
On March 16 2017, Trump unveiled his 2018 fiscal year budget, which called for a 31 percent (or $2.5 billion) cut in the budget of the EPA, which would eliminate more than 50 of its programs and obstruct enforcement of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. Under the proposal, clean water grants for native Alaskan villages most affected by the rising sea levels and loss of habitat would be cut along with funds for cleanup projects of abandoned industrial sites. Grants that assist states and cities fight air pollution would also be eliminated along with the international climate-change program. Funding for the Office of Research and Development would be cut in half and funding for the Superfund cleanup program would be slashed. The proposal’s cuts to NASA would eliminate $102 million of funding for Earth science, including four programs tasked with understanding climate-change. The proposal also includes deep cuts to the foreign assistance budget of $60 billion, a 21% cut to the agriculture department, an 18% cut to the HHS, (Medicare and Medicaid aren’t even mentioned in the proposal) a 14% cut to the education department, (including aid to low-income and minority college students while charter schools, private schools and other “school-choice” initiatives get a $1.4 billion boost) a 5% cut the small business administration, a $900 million cut from the Office of Science, a $667 million cut to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants, a $2.6 billion increase in the budget for the border wall, which the DHS estimated would cost $21.6 billion (despite Trump’s ridiculous claims he would “make Mexico pay for it,”) $1.5 billion for the construction of new immigration detention centers, $314 million for the hiring of 500 additional border patrol agents and 1,000 ICE officials, and an increase of $53 billion dollars in the already ridiculously bloated military budget, (which is $610 billion, more than half of this year’s congressional budget) expanding the size of the army, marine corp, and the number of ships in the Navy’s fleet. The 2017 Congressional military authorization also calls for $350 billion over the next decade simply to upgrade our nuclear weapons. Psychopathic war hawks Senator John McCain and Representative Mac Thornberry actually criticized the budget for not increasing military funding more. The proposal also calls for the disastrous, trillion-dollar F-35s to be bought more rapidly. The proposal’s 29% cut to the State Department will reduce funds for U.N. peacekeeping and eliminate climate-change prevention programs, including funds to U.N. climate-change programs. The DHS will see a 7% increase in its budget to pay for Trump’s border wall and greater numbers of border patrol and ICE agents. The budget’s tinkering of the DOJ will also add $80 million to adjudicate immigrant removal proceedings and $250 million to the budget of the FBI. Meanwhile, the Department of Housing and Urban Development will see a 13% cut, eliminating the Self-help Homeownership Opportunity Program and $35 million of funding for Section 4 Community Development and Affordable Housing. Further, the 4% cut to the Treasury would eliminate grants for Community Development Financial Institutions, which provide financial services in low-income neighborhoods. The Office of Community Services responsible for the Community Development Block Grant, (which provides funding for Meals on Wheels) and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program are set to be cut as well. The proposal also eliminates the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), which provides funding for projects that can benefit low-income areas in Appalachia.
The Labor Department will see a 21% cut, eliminating the Senior Community Service Employment Program, grants for certain nonprofits, and the Job Corps, which helps disadvantaged youth find jobs. The proposals cuts to the Commerce Department also include major cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, including “$249 million from coastal research programs that ready communities for rising seas and worsening storms.” The Beach Grant Program, which monitors water quality of beaches is to be eliminated entirely as well. The proposal also eliminates the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Chemical Safety Board, the US Institute of Peace, the National Endowment for the Arts, (and every other arts and cultural agency) and the Legal Services Corporation, which provides free legal counsel to lower income people. Trump’s proposal also cuts $1.5 billion from the budget of the Department of the Interior, (eliminating funding for 49 National Heritage Areas) representing a loss of 12 percent of the DOIs budget. The Environment News Service, reported on March 17 that this cut “would put at risk essential migratory bird conservation laws and programs including the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, the Migratory Bird Joint Ventures, State Wildlife Grants, the North American Wetland Conservation Act, and the Land and Water Conservation Fund.” The proposal would also cut $4.7 billion from the budget of the Department of Agriculture, (including $200 million from the fund for Women, Infants and Children nutrition assistance and $95 million from the Rural Business and Cooperative Service) representing a 21 percent decrease from the total budget. “At risk are key programs such as the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, the Conservation Reserve Program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the NRCS’s Working Lands for Wildlife.” Trump’s budget proposal also “singles out critical land acquisition and protection programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund for $120 million in cuts” and eliminates “regional water quality programs like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Chesapeake Bay program,” as well as the Global Climate Change Initiative, the Green Climate Fund, and the Climate Investment Funds. Steve Holmer, American Bird Conservancy’s vice president of policy explains “The proposed budget’s emphasis on energy development on public lands would also put at risk progress on conserving sagebrush habitat, late-successional forests, and desert streams that are essential for the conservation of declining species such as the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher.”
Aside from Trump’s investments in big oil, Trump has far more numerous investments that are conflicts of interests and that violate the U.S. Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause, which provides: “[N]o Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States], shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” This alone is ground for impeachment. Trump’s conflicts of interest include the Trump Organization’s licensing deals for two Trump Towers in Istanbul, for which the organization has received $10 million from developers since 2014. (Even Trump admitted this is a conflict of interest.) Another example is Trump Tower’s largest tenant, the China’s state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, which is also a major lender to Trump. Trump has also pressured foreign diplomats like those from the Embassy of Kuwait to change their hotel reservations when visiting DC to the Trump International Hotel. Further, Trump’s business partner for Trump Tower Century City in Manila Philippines, (for which he has a brand licensing contract) is Century Properties, the head of which is Jose Antonio, who was just named special envoy to the US by the president of the Philippines.
Trump is yet to face impeachment for his conflicts of interest but he has been involved in 4,000 lawsuits over the last 30 years, some of which are still ongoing. Trump University alone has been sued three times. Former students have called the University a scam that promised financial success that never came to fruition. The Dailybeast reported that in the suit Cohen v. Trump, Cohen “alleges that Trump’s “school” was really a criminal organization and violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The New York fraud case—which was also brought back in 2013 and alleges Trump’s unlicensed university scammed New Yorkers out of a collective $40 million—is still a go, according to Amy Spitalnick of the New York State Attorney General’s Office.”
One of Trump’s biggest financial backers is Sheldon Adelson who is a Zionist, a close ally of Israeli PM Netanyahu, and owner of a Zionist propaganda newspaper in Israel, Israel Hayom. Adelson pledged to give Trump $125 million dollars.xxxviii xxxix Trump has also picked a number of advisers from the Koch empire, including White House Counsel Don McGahn, (who represented the Koch Brothers’ “Freedom Partners” and its PAC), fracking lobbyist Mike Cantazaro, and Larry Nichols as his energy adviser. It is clear Trump’s administration consists of the rich and works for the rich exclusively and is committed to raping the planet for profit.
Whether or not Trump and his cabinet succeeds in their apocalyptic, ecocidal, xenophobic, racist, sexist agenda will depend largely on the resistance, which should take all forms, including highly combative. A diversity of tactics must be employed. Pure nonviolence, pacifism, pleading letters to complicit, corrupt representatives, drum circles, prayer, and giant puppet shows will not defeat these psychopaths. The system is beyond repair. It was never meant to work for common people. We must force them out and destroy the system or face extinction and a dead planet.