The train wreck known as the Executive Branch of the United States government continues somehow, careening out of control towards the cliff. The cars are damaged, the passengers bruised, bloodied and terrified, but the engineer drives on, believing that all the problems thus far were caused by protesters, former President Barack Obama, ‘liberal’ courts, Muslims and the media.
But while President Donald Trump looks ahead, unconcerned about the collateral damage he leaves behind, the Republican-led Congress has been busy. Among their many activities has been the introduction of the following legislation:
- Bill HR 861 to terminate the Environmental Protection Agency. So what if someone wants clean water: it can be purchased. Clean air? Move to a wealthy neighborhood where there is no industry, and there you are: clean air! And why are all these regulations required anyway? Can’t huge, multinational corporations be trusted to protect the fragile environment, regardless of the expense? Doesn’t the good of the world, and the needs of future generations trump stakeholder demands for profits? Don’t pigs fly?
- Bill HR 610 to basically abolish the Department of Education. Under the terms of this bill, the Department “…is authorized only to award block grants to qualified states”. There goes public education. But that isn’t all; those wily Congress members also included in this bill a provision to eliminate the requirement that national breakfast and lunch programs “…increase the availability of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat free milk in school meals; reduce the levels of sodium, saturated fat, and trans fat in school meals; and meet children’s nutritional needs within their caloric requirements”. Obesity is at epidemic levels in the U.S., and children’s obesity levels are increasing, but what the hey? Bring on the Big Macs for school lunches!
- Bill HJR 69, to remove protections from some animals regarding hunting and trapping. Current law bans “…taking black or brown bear cubs or sows with cubs, taking brown bears over bait, taking bears using traps or snares, taking wolves or coyotes during denning season, and taking bears from an aircraft”. ‘Taking’ is government-speak for killing. This bill would remove those protections.
- Bill HR 785, to remove the right of unions to charge dues as a condition of employment. Unionized workers are powerful workers, and this just cannot be in the Republican Trump era.
- Bill HR 354, which would defund Planned Parenthood. Now, let’s look at this one for a minute.
During a budget debate in 2011, Senator John Kyl (R-AZ) asserted that well over 90% of Planned Parenthood’s budget went to fund abortions. As of January, 2016, abortions comprised about 3.4% of all of the organizations’ services, and this has remained fairly constant over the years. Of course, Mr. Kyle’s spokespeople explained his misstatement thusly: they said that it was “not intended to be a factual statement.” In the parlance of 2017, one might call it an alternative fact.
That 3.4% represents a little over 300,000 abortions. The same report says that the total number of medical services provided by Planned Parenthood was nearly 9,500,000. So in the Republican’s great desire to end abortions, they will effectively also try to prevent over 9,000,000 medical services, such ‘trivial’ things related to women’s health as mammograms. Additionally, they will prevent women from being able to access contraception, thus increasing the number of unwanted pregnancies, and the number of abortions. But defunding Planned Parenthood plays well to the so-called Christian Right, which votes en masse for those who do its bidding.
- Bill HR 808, which implements sanctions against Iran, which U.S. spokespeople call the greatest exporter of terrorism in the world. Again, we need to look at a few of those pesky things so often ignored in the nation’s capital, not only under Mr. Trump’s bizarre and chaotic administration, but in general under any president of either party: facts. The U.S. is by far the largest exporter of weaponry in the world. It is currently bombing at least five countries (Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Yemen), and is at war in Afghanistan. It is supporting terrorist organizations with money and training in Syria. The U.S. has over 1,000 military bases or installations around the world, threatening the host countries and those that surround them. It supports such violent and barbaric regimes as Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Based on this information, the writer asks the objective reader to decide for him or herself which of the two countries, the United States or Iran, should be considered the greatest exporter of terrorism in the world. He is confident he knows the answer.
But again, there must always be a big, bad, boogeyman for the U.S. to fight; you know, some nation that hates the U.S. because of its freedoms. And in the current climate, that boogeyman must be a predominantly Muslim country because, as we all know, all Muslims are terrorists. Well, perhaps we don’t all know that, but Mr. Trump and is adoring minions in Congress and across the U.S. certainly seem to believe it. They also believe that former President Barack Obama was born in Kenya, that evolution is a Satanic lie, and that universal health care is an evil beyond any ever experienced since the beginning of time. Except, of course, when they themselves need it.
So this is where the United States finds itself today, and it is certainly not a happy place. Mr. Trump’s electoral victory was fueled in part by the anti-Muslim, anti-gay, xenophobic right wing, and partly by those who despised his opponent, Hillary Clinton, so much, that they would have voted for Satan himself instead of her. And while those who adore him have not seen anything to dissuade that adulation (expect for some who are now faced with the real possibility of losing health care), those who saw him as the lesser of two evils are now having some second thoughts.
But it is too late for that. Mr. Trump and a Republican Congress have nothing to stop their train from barrelling down the track, annihilating all regulations designed to protect the health and safety of the citizenry. Certainly, one looks in vain (if one bothers to look at all) to any Democratic leadership to halt the looming disasters, because as appalled as they may appear to be, the illustrious Democrats generally cower, and allow the lobbyists to do their work. One must never annoy anyone who lines one’s pockets.
The Trump Administration is off to a very rocky start, and one is naïve indeed if one thinks things will improve anytime soon. One only hopes that the courts will prevent the most egregious of Mr. Trump’s policies. There seems to be nothing else to stop him.