BY VERN TURNER
The smartest woman on television, Rachel Maddow, keeps telling us to watch what they are doing, not listen so much to what they’re saying. Examples from the last three months are plentiful to underscore the duplicity coming from our body politic controlled by arrogant, spiteful, backward-thinking and corrupt politicians, aka Republicans. The Donald Trump circus is merely a sideshow to what is coming through our Congress and soon to the Supreme Court.
Remember when “draining the swamp” was a quaint slogan designed to seduce rural America into thinking that those socialist elitists would be removed from government to be replaced with people who actually listened to and cared about the “forgotten man”? Look at what they’ve done.
The first clue came with the remarkably unlikely election of Donald Trump by a huge minority; he lost the popular vote to Clinton, Sanders, two third-party candidates and some write-ins by almost ten million votes. Trump wailed and thrashed for weeks about how he was treated so unfairly. Did he not notice all those people in outback America holding their noses while they voted for him? The fact is, he’s a most unlikable person with enough personality defects to fill a psychology textbook. And yet … 62 million duped Americans voted for him. Now, all 320 million of us will have to pay the consequences.
Along with this bizarre election came the un-return of sanity to the Senate in the form of a Democratic majority. Even though the Democrats gained two Senate seats, they only gained a handful in the House, not nearly enough to hold back the tide of the Paul Ryan tsunami of fiscal moronics.
It’s what they do: Ryan wants to gut the New Deal all at once by “privatizing” Social Security and do the same to Medicare. They are already pushing legislation to return the “freedom” to be greedy with investor money to Wall Street with the attacks on Dodd-Frank.
Think just about those two things. The investment banking environment returns to pre-2009 times. Add to that the added capital windfall from privatizing Social Security and Medicare, and we suddenly have the swamp overflowing with money earmarked for the few who are “managing” those funds.
Remember the time when Glass-Steagall was overturned by Gramm-Bliley in 1999? Hedge fund types [like Chelsea Clinton’s husband] proceeded to bet on failure and reap fortunes beyond any previous scope when the companies and banks they were pirating failed? What could possibly go wrong with a return to those times? Why do we have to keep repeating the cycle between greed/boom and stupidity/bust?
From Harding to Coolidge to Hoover, we now can look at Reagan to the Bushes and now Trump as the nadir of capitalistic economics as it relates to a flourishing populace. When Keynesian economics are practiced by democratic governments, all boats float much higher. Why don’t we get that? Why do we keep tempting fate with the dragon of greed and fascist tyranny?
Watch what they do. Betsy DeVos is now the Secretary of Education. She is of the same DeVoses who contribute mightily to everything Republican. This is her reward. Oh. She is also an anti-public school crusader and a religious zealot [as were all of the other Amway founders] who wants to privatize all schools for profit and to bring the “word of God” into our schools.
Never mind that the wall between church and state still exists. Never mind that her husband is part of the Koch Brothers’ archipelago of oligarchs. Never mind that her brother founded the horrifying private “security” outfit of mercenaries, Blackwater. Of course, if all schools are private, they can circumvent that annoying law. Those things shouldn’t have anything to do with the swamp, should they?
Congress and the executive branch are doing little things that make one wonder whether or not we’ve fallen down a rabbit hole. The House recently voted to eliminate as “fluff” the agency that looked after voting booth and ballot security across the nation. In view of the most recent hacking by Russia into our political system, one has to wonder what sort of medications the House Republicans are taking. Maybe they don’t care about voting security since the new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, will probably just deny all voters access to the voting booths anyway. Ah, yes. Jefferson B. Sessions.
While debating the confirmation of this son of the deep South, one of our senators, Elizabeth Warren, was hushed up by an obscure, Civil War-era Senate rule that Mitch McConnell invoked while Sen. Warren was reading some Sessions history. The rule says that one senator cannot impugn another senator, which both Warren and Sessions were at the time. The thing is that what Warren was reading a summation of facts from Coretta Scot King, MLK’s widow, about Sessions’ rulings and behaviors in the 1980s that kept him from becoming a federal judge.
Logic says that if the facts and truth impugn someone who wants to be AG, maybe that disqualifies him on its face. Not in this Senate controlled by Mitch McConnell, though. Truth and valid qualifications only matter for Democrats.
The string of executive orders from the White House show an utter disdain for the rule of law, the Constitution, procedural norms and for the voters who put Donald the Narcissist in that chair. Meanwhile, in keeping with the runaway ego of Trump, he’s taking credit for the positive events that the Obama Administration set in motion [another month of positive job growth] … except for that little “oops” in Yemen.
The lies coming from poor Sean Spicer must stick in his throat such that his voice’s pitch keeps rising daily. No, the Obama Administration didn’t approve the attack plan. That fubar is all Trump’s.
Spicer has to say that it was a huge success, but when we note that children, women and others were killed along with one of our own seals, we see at least one un-truth, aka a lie. We had to destroy a multi-million dollar aircraft because it came under too much fire from the ground. Oh, and the principle of the operation escaped and proceeded to mock President Trump. Does that sound like a success or a failure, assuming someone rational is reading this?
The vast majority of Americans agree on virtually all of the values and principles that make us a special experiment in governance. So, why, as the nationwide demonstrations indicate, is this just-elected government going to so much effort to destroy those values by their actions designed to thwart progress for those who need government the most.
The answer begins with the movement that began in 1971 with a corporate/banking call-to-arms by the paranoid and fascist-leaning Lewis Powell, a corporate attorney. He pushed for a mass attack on all facets of our nation’s institutions that resisted control by the oligarchy he favored.
This stimulus created a long-term effort by some very, very scary people with lots and lots of money to bring fascism to our very doorsteps. It started slowly and quietly, but now is a raging lion begging to be fed. People with tyrannical, self-serving agendas like the Koch Brothers, the Scaife family, the Olins, Peter Coors, the DeVos cabal, Sheldon Adelson, etc., have successfully infiltrated governments, higher education, lower education, and the media at all levels. They have spent countless millions in bribes to create a cadre of disinformation and anti-government foundations that favor only the rich while leaving the 99% of the people in the lurch.
Besides the afore-mentioned minions of the Koch archipelago in Congress [there are many more not mentioned – virtually all Republican], there are some very bad-for-the-people governors in states that are suffering greatly under the theme of “austerity only,” or “supply-side, free-market enterprise.” This gallery of rogues includes Sam Brownback of Kansas, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Rick Scott of Florida, Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, Gregg Abbott [Rick Perry before him – now the Energy secretary nominee] of Texas, and even Mike Pence of Indiana.
Their collective backward-thinking would not only bring tears to the eyes of swamp creatures like Grover Norquist, who wants virtually no government at all, but rush us back the Gilded Age where poverty was institutionalized on a grand scale. These free-market zealots don’t seem to understand that wealth does not trickle down to anyone except the family and relative of those who are taking all the money.
World history of the 20th and 21st centuries are filled with the ash heaps of failure of pure, un-regulated free-market enterprise. Greed is a most primitive emotion and it knows no bounds. It takes strong intellect and discipline to form governments and philosophies that fairly distribute the wealth of nations to the people who create it and are necessary to raise all the boats. When we all do well, we all do well. Truer words were never spoken.
Listen to the news. Watch the shows analyzing the events of the day. The media will run all the tapes of all the mouths in Congress flapping happily away. But, most importantly for all of us, watch what they do.
Government that pats you on the back while stealing your wallet or purse is something to be feared and guarded against. Those in our government who are promoting scare-tactics and fear of the “other” have their hands poised at your purse. They want it all.
We the people have only the vote – and these con men and women want to take that away, too. Watch what they do.
– Vern Turner lives in Marble Falls, TX and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. His latest book, Racing to the Brink: The End Game for Race and Capitalism, is available through Amazon.com.