Sunday, December 11, 2016

Death By A Thousand Cuts

Lingchi is a form of torture and capital punishment used by Imperial China from the tenth century until 1905.  Lingchi is "death by a thousand cuts."

In most cases, a small cut will not kill a person.  Multiply one small cut by a thousand, however, and death will likely ensue.  The same is true for nations.  A few small aberrations of policy or stupid decisions by presidents or legislatures or judges may not affect the overall health of the nation, but when you multiply those "small aberrations" and "stupid decisions" you've got a problem.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a problem.  We are led by a man who would feel right at home in Imperial China; a man who is likely to bring about the death of the United States by his decisions and his policies, as well as by the decisions and policies of his minions and his appointees.  Never before, except maybe during the Warren G. Harding administration, have we seen such scum rise to the surface in positions of power!  As others have noted, Trump did not "drain the swamp" as he promised, but pulled out the creatures of the swamp and made them his secretaries and advisors.  The swamp is now the official residence and workplace of the Trump administration.

Here's one small example of a "cut" and Trump isn't even president yet.  A number of his advisors are advocating the take over of 56 million acres of Native American tribal lands.  The title to these lands is currently held by the federal government. It is a power play intended to privatize those lands so that energy corporations can enjoy deregulated drilling for profit.  Tribal leaders are vehemently opposed to this dastardly and cowardly attack on their lands and sovereignty (note that for over 100 years the United States has followed a policy which promoted the preservation of Indian tribes on U.S.-owned reservations and these reservations are considered sovereign nations and ruled by leaders chosen by the respective tribes).

With Trump and his swamp denizens in power, expect many more such attacks on the rights of the people, on the programs that help people, on common sense and the common wealth.

Nomi Prins in an article at TomDispatch, notes that Trump is choosing his players from a similar socio-economic background of wealth and privilege to his own, who carry with them "an assumed allegiance to a dogma of self-aggrandizement that overshadows everything else.  In the realm of politico-financial power and in Trump's experience and ideology, the one with the most toys always wins.  So it's hardly a surprise that his money- and power-centric cabinet won't be focused on public service or patriotism or civic duty, but on the consolidation of corporate and private gain at the expense of the citizenry."

Let's see how that is working out in real time.  Trump has selected as his Secretary of Commerce one Wilbur Ross.  Ross, as described by Nomi Prins, "made his fortune as a corporate vulture (sporting the nickname 'the king of bankruptcy'.  He was notorious for devouring the carcasses of dying companies, spitting them out, and pocketing the profits.  He bought bankrupt steel companies, while moving $6.4 billion of their employee pension benefits to the rescue fund of the government's Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation so he could make the company financials look better."

Ross's chances of being selected as a member of Trump's cabinet were doubtless increased because he bailed out Trump's casinos which were going down the tubes in Atlantic City.

While Trump promised the world to the battered coal industry and its workers, Ross will not honor those promises.  He owned a coal mine in West Virginia which was given numerous citations for various violations, said mine exploding and killing 12 miners.

Ross is a member of a secret Wall Street fraternity, Kappa Beta Phi which isn't surprising considering that in 2014 he whined that the one percent is being harassed for political reasons.

Ross is also connected financially to China, that country having invested $500 million in a private equity fund owned by Ross.  Another negative:  "In August 2016, his company had to pay a $2.3 million fine to the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle charges for not properly disclosing $10.4 million in management fees charged to his investors in the decade leading up to 2011."

What the hell is going to do as Secretary of Commerce? He's sitting on a pot of gold and does anyone think he's going to fined for any financial chicanery so long as he holds that position?

Then there's Betsy DeVos, daughter of a billionaire and daughter-in-law to the guy who started the Amway corporation.  She's going to be Secretary of Education.  The problem is she did not go to a public school, nor does she know anything about public education except for the fact that she hates it and has worked for years to destroy it!  Count on her to promote private schools and charter schools at the expense of our public schools.  Additionally, she is a fundamentalist Christian who wishes to impose her particular beliefs upon students in the public schools.  Which all means we can count on a war on public education in the near future.

Elaine Chao has been nominated as Secretary of Transportation.  That sounds about right; she rode a bus once when a little girl.  She may not know anything about transportation but being the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, she knows how to make contacts and money.  She has served on the boards of Wells Fargo Bank (while Wells Fargo was scamming its customers out of millions of dollars) and Murdock's News Corp.

Trump has selected a really bad guy as Secretary of Labor, Andy Prudzer.  He is the CEO of Hardee's and Carl's Jr. parent company CKE restaurants.  Pudzer is not a fan of the little guy.  In fact, he hates the idea of the minimum wage.  He's afraid raising the minimum wage will make companies go bankrupt.  This from a clown who made $4.458 million in 2012.  People who actually work for a living and make this country what it is are in deep caca with Pudzer in this vital position.

Jeff Sessions is Trump's pick for Attorney General.  Sessions was turned down for a federal judgeship a few years back because he is a notorious racist.  He is known to be an enemy of civil rights and women's rights.  Sessions thinks the ACLU and the NAACP are "un-American."  He voted NO on the Violence Against Women Act, and twice voted NO against laws which would help curb sexual assault in the military.

Secretary of the Treasury is the plum Trump offered to one of the worst of the Wall Street execs.  Steve Mnuchin is a hedge fund patriarch and a Hollywood producer, though I don't know what he's produced.  A former exec at Goldman Sachs he knows how to cheat folks out of their homes and how to con the government out of billions of dollars.  He got rich on the backs of regular folks by foreclosing their homes, 36,000 of them!

There's so much dirt on this guy, I could write several pages, but suffice it to say that he wants, as Secretary of the Treasury to help fill the coffers of the bankers on Wall Street once again; thus, his numero uno priority is to delete the Dodd-Frank legislation so Wall Street can run amok unregulated once more.  Just like the good old days!

Any normal person would not choose someone to head up the Environmental Protection Agency who hates and wants to get rid of the EPA.  Trump being anything but normal has chosen a horrible person by name of Scott Pruitt to be the administrator of the EPA.

Scott has been in bed with the fossil fuel industry for years and fought every bit of legislation which would call that industry to account for their shenanigans. It's no surprise, therefore, that Scott doesn't believe in global warming or climate change.  He has sued the EPA again and again attacking the Clean Power Plan and Clean Water Rule.

Tom Price, a 6-term Repug Congressman from Georgia, is nominated for Health & Human Services. It would be hard to find a worse choice.  He's an orthopedic surgeon and hates Obamacare.  In 2015 he tried to arrange a budget switch that would defund Planned Parenthood.  In spite of being a doctor, he doesn't seem to give a damn whether people get decent health care or not.

Another horrible person was nominated by Trump to be director of the CIA. Mike Pompeo, from Kansas, is a Repug and has served 3 terms in Congress. Being from Kansas should tell you all you have to know.  He's anti-Muslim and has made untrue anti-Muslim statements.  He thinks CIA personnel who were involved in torture are "heroes."  He opposes closing Guatanamo, is against the Iran nuclear agreement and stupidly claims that Obamacare has increased labor costs.  He believes further that there is, in fact, a "government mandated restaurant recession."

One of the fundamentals of our system is that civilians run the government and the military stays out of the way, except to obey the president, who is also commander and chief of the military.

Trump is challenging that tradition and risking serious problems such as they've had in 3rd-world countries and in American banana republics.  His choice for Secretary of Defense is James Mattis, a hard-nosed retired Marine Corps general. He's what they call a "hawk" and has debunked Obama's Iran agreement. He likes to kill people and is an unknown quantity when it comes to the fight for peace.  His nickname is "Mad Dog."

Another retired Marine Corps general is John Kelly, picked by Trump to head Homeland Security.  His last job included oversight of Guantanamo.  He's a hard-liner whose treatment of prisoners was severely criticized.  He is opposed to closing Guantanamo and the Iran deal.  It is hard to know what he would do in all circumstances, but his values and past actions predicate a noisy pseudo-patriotic patronizing of military responses to possible future crises.

Michael Flynn is Trump's choice to be National Security Advisor. Unfortunately, Flynn is a whack-job and a conspiracy aficionado.  A retired Army general, Flynn tends to treat all Muslims as terrorists, claiming falsely that Sharia law is spreading across the US and the the country is currently engaged in a world war with radical Islamists.  Flynn also sent out 16 fake or propaganda news stores on the social media, which General Barry McCaffrey said were "demented."  He appears unstable and would be another horrible addition to Trump's group pack of goofballs.

Linda McMahon, who co-founded the WWE, has nothing to qualify her for the job of running the Small Business Administration, unless you consider the $7.5 million she gave Trump for his White House run.

Steve Bannon from Breitbart, which he claims to have made the voice of the "alt-right" in this country, is Trump's top advisor.  The words, "alt-right," are a pseudonym for Nazi.  So, tell it like it is.  Bannon is a Nazi and is operation is a Nazi operation.  As one person wrote, "His web site was a clearinghouse for hate speech of all kinds including white nationalism, anti-semitism, immigrant-hatred and misogyny.

Rex Tillerson is looking to be our next Secretary of State.  Tillerson is the CEO of the Exxon Mobil Corp.  Other than heading up one of the world's worst polluters, there isn't much to recommend the guy.  He does have close connections with Russia and Putin, however, and has contracted with the Russian oil company to do joint oil exploration and production.  So far, they've set up 10 projects in Russia to work together.

This brief run-down on Trump's nominees should keep all decent, honest, ethical persons up at night.  Trump's cabinet and cronies give new meaning to the word, "madness."  Already, they Trump team is trying to identify people in the EPA who worked to help stop global warming so they can be fired.

Lingchi, death by a thousand cuts, has begun.  It will be a slow process and it will be painful. The United States has always failed to live up to its promises, but in the past our leadership has at least tried, even if fitfully, to direct the country in the right direction.

Today, whatever light has shone in this country, is dimming.  We no longer represent democracy and decency.  We are now a country led by a psychopathic liar, one of the least decent humans on the planet and his compatriots, all of which are driven by greed or pathological hatred for others and for the notion that the government is in place to assist people reach their dreams.

If there is a god, he or she has forsaken us.


Bob Poris said...

We are looking at the man that is not President acting as if he was, but then claims he is merely offering his musings, but not necessarily to be taken as his actual plans or conclusion. He has refused briefings and does things that affect long term goals and polices of the US, then seems to claim he accepted calls rather than initiated them. Now he and his advisors doubt the conclusions re the interference by Russia, because the conclusion are from the same people that once claimed there were weapons of mass destruction , etc. We are told not to take him seriously when he makes his statements, yet he keeps making more. Any critic is seen as sour grapes due to the election, which Trump claims is a mandate by the People although Hilary’s votes are clearly considerably more and still counting
The problem is what if anything can be done about all this? The current President seems to be trying to look into the hacking by Russia, but has little time left in office and must deal with a possibly hostile Congress and Senate, led by a man that believes he can ignore the Constitution re the Supreme Court and prevent progress on investigating Russia until Trump becomes President and can cancel whatever he can or wants to.

We are in a dangerous situation and all the powers of enforcement will be in the new administration’s hands. What are the alternatives and how can they be accomplished legally?
Eventually impeachment is a possibility but rarely effective as is criminal investigation by the administration in power.

William Kendall said...

And it is only going to get worse.

Professor Chaos said...

I'm starting to think that the whole point of a Trump presidency is going to be to punish America for not having given him sufficient respect.

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