Wednesday, January 25, 2017

This Way Be Monsters

                                     Image result for women's march

One of the criticisms I've heard about the women's marches is the inability of many to articulate exactly what it is they are protesting.

That's because for most of us, there is not a single over-riding issue that drives us. Rather it is an amorphous atmosphere of concern and fear that includes so many disagreements with the Trump administration that is difficult to narrow it down to a couple of clear-cut matters. It is sort of like dealing with a snowstorm. You can't see every individual snowflake, you just know you're in a dangerous blizzard.

Yes, it is reproductive rights and women's health but beyond that it is the general view of women as second-class citizens that this administration seems to hold. They dismiss Planned Parenthood as if that organization hadn't helped millions of us obtain vital health care over the years. They put only two women in top slots in the cabinet (one being the wife of the Senate Majority Leader). There are a few others in lower positions, mostly ex-members of Fox. And, of course. the inimitable Omarosa, a choice so laughable you have to wonder if Trump picked her purposefully to show us our standing in the scheme of things.

On Trump's very first day in the Oval Office, he signed a ban on federal money going to international groups that perform or provide information on abortions which shows his priority. The picture of him signing this order regarding women's health, surrounded by men only, went viral. It said very clearly - "we will control your behavior."  

According to their plans, the administration is planning eliminate all 25 of the Department of Justice's Violence Against Women grant programs.

Repealing Obamacare will hurt women in many different ways. They would go back to paying more for insurance simply for being female. It would put an end to free contraception. Unless the Republicans manage to maintain it without the funding that comes from the individual mandate, the pre-existing portion of the law would disappear.

He has promised a Supreme Court Justice who would vote to overturn Roe v Wade.

And all this simply applies to generic women. There are special stresses for African-American women and Muslim women and Latina women and gay women. Will the DACA Dreamers be deported back to Mexico despite being promised safety if they played by the rules and revealed themselves? Will their families be deported? What particular discriminations will Muslim women face in this new Trump era? For black women, is the hope of criminal justice reform gone? Will it be even more likely that their sons will be "profiled" as criminals? Are the marriages of gay women safe? Are their adoptions safe? Will their civil rights protections be eliminated in the name of "religious freedom"?

And what about the economy? Trump promised to drain the swamp but his cabinet choices are the swampiest of the swamp dwellers. He excoriated Hillary for giving speeches to Goldman Sachs. Now he has six of their ex-employees in his inner circle. More millionaires and billionaires than any cabinet ever, most of whom detest the very agencies they've been hired to lead, and don't have a clue how "the other half (well, actually, other 90%) live.

One of Trump's very first moves was to make home mortgages more expensive. Was this what he meant by "defending the workers"? His plan for the infrastructure is not the typical funding we've seen in the past (the one the Dems tried to get passed for 8 years but were stonewalled by the Republicans). Rather, it is specially designed as multi-million dollar breaks for the companies involved.

Trump tells half of every story. He crows about taking on the corporations and forcing them to bring their jobs to the United States. ("Buy American, Hire American" is his motto, he says, but so far he hasn't taken his own his advice. His own products are still made overseas and he bought foreign steel for his own hotels. And he applied to hire foreign workers for Mar a Lago and his resort in California.) Do as I say and not as I do? But for every action, there is a equal and opposite reaction. Does he think no company or country will retaliate in a tit for tat payback? What if China put a 35% surcharge on the products we buy from them? Would they continue to buy our grain as they do now? Would a trade war really make us more prosperous?

The environment looks to be a huge loser in the Trump administration. Climate change has been purged from the EPA's website. The new president announced plans to move forward with the Keystone XL pipeline and Dakota Pipeline (though it is rumored he has an investment in the firm that is building it). His buddies are licking their lips over opening our mountains and waters and national parks to oil and chemical and mining companies. Who do we think will benefit from this? Will it be us or will it be the bigwigs in these corporations? The Keystone Pipeline ships tar sand oil for sale to China, not to America. Will wildlife have a prayer against cattle interests?

One of Trump's first actions was to institute a federal hiring freeze, even at the V.A., although it is already understaffed. Who do you think will bear the brunt of the loss of these jobs? Do you really believe it will be the upper echelon? No, I assume it will be the janitors and the clerks and the electricians and the painters and the laundresses.  Is this what he means by creating more jobs for those who've been left behind.

The administration has also moved to diminish the influence of the media. They are going to allow the press pool to stay in the White House but Trump will choose who gets to be there (in the past, it was the White House Correspondent's Assn.)  In his first press conference, he refused to take a question from CNN, declaring them "fake news". Four of the first seven questions went to Rupert Murdoch writers. In fact, it is anyone who doesn't parrot his opinions who he considers fake news...when it is actually he and his staff who deal in "alternative facts". The new president appears to be a pathological liar and Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway defend him vigorously regardless of what how untruthful he is.

Whether we like all of them or not, whether we always agree with them or not, a free media is a foundation stone of democracy. No president should be able to shape the media to suit himself and dictate to us what is truth. Has Trump been taking media-managing lessons from Vladimir Putin?

The administration has placed gag orders on several agencies - no communication with the public in the form of press releases, emails, tweets, policy papers. I expect this will change when he gets his own people in place who know what it is allowable to say. When that will be, we don't know. He's been slow off the mark in naming people for his team because he's too busy railing about inauguration numbers and millions of illegals voting for Hillary (else he'd have won the popular vote, dontcha know?)

I didn't mean for this post to be so long and I haven't even talked about foreign policy and his sometimes lunatic pronouncements in that area. I only meant to hit the high points but this is what happens when you lay out your concerns about Trump....there are so many they all run into one another and they finally coalesce into an all-encompassing dread of what the future holds for your country. He is the president. He can force us to go down this road with him....but some of us will be kicking and screaming all the way.

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