Are Cracks Starting To Appear In The Trump’s America Dam?

You are not being unreasonable and you are not alone if you feel frightened by what Mr. Trump and his administration are doing in their effort to change America’s policies and the direction in which our country will travel.  You are not unreasonable and alone if you find it hard not to believe that they are targeting you because of your race or religion or for other reasons that are not in any way associated with whether or not you have broken the law.

Even if you think that you may be paranoid or simply overreacting and try to mitigate your feelings by taking a step back and seeking some sort of reassurance from the Trump administration that your feelings are not justified, you cannot trust that reassurance.  Why?  Because Mr. Trump has told so many falsehoods, alternative facts, lies or whatever word(s) the press feels obligated to use now to describe the accuracy of his statements that one cannot decide what to believe.

In the meantime, many Republicans have gone dark and completely dropped from the news media grid while those that remain there are far more concerned about playing politics than they are about fulfilling their responsibility to the American people.  A good example of this is what was said behind closed doors when the GOP met, in contrast to what they are saying (or not saying) in public.  Here are a few of the comments that some of those elected officials made about Obamacare and Planned Parenthood behind those closed doors according to a recent article in The Washington Post by Mike DeBonis.

The article said that Representative Tom McClintock commented that “We’d better be sure that we’re prepared to live with the market we’ve created.  That’s going to be called Trumpcare.  Republicans will own that lock, stock and barrel, and we’ll be judged in the election less than two years away.”

Senator Bill Cassidy said, “It sounds like we are going to be raising taxes on the middle class in order to pay for these new [insurance] credits.”

Representative John Faso raised concerns about using Obamacare as a vehicle to defund Planned Parenthood when he said, “We are just walking into a gigantic political trap if we go down this path of sticking Planned Parenthood in the health insurance bill.  If you want to do it somewhere else, I have no problem, but I think we are creating a political minefield for ourselves – House and Senate.”

According to Mr. DeBonis’ article, House Speaker Paul Ryan dismissed the concerns about repealing Obamacare.  Speaker Ryan said, “We have a responsibility to work for the people that put us in office.  That’s the oath we take: to defend the Constitution, to fight for the people we represent, and [Obamacare] is a fiasco that needs to be fixed.”

Representative Tom MacArthur said, “We’re telling those [roughly 20 million Americans covered under Obamacare] that we’re not going to pull the rug out from under them, and if we do this too fast, we are in fact going to pull the rug out from under them.”

Finally, again according to Mr. DeBonis’ article, concerning defunding Planned Parenthood Representative Faso said; “we are arming our enemy in this debate…  To me, us taking retribution on Planned Parenthood is kind of morally akin to what Lois Lerner and Obama and the IRS did against tea party groups…”  He went on to say that “Health insurance is going to be tough enough for us to deal with without having millions of people on social media come to Planned Parenthood’s defense and sending hundreds of thousands of new donors to the Democratic Senate and Democratic congressional campaign committees.  So I would just urge us to rethink this.”

Although Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was not among those in this particular closed door meeting who were discussing the Repeal of Obamacare and defunding Planned Parenthood, it is no secret that he too is onboard with this part of the Republican agenda.  It is also no secret that he is among those who are struggling to decide how to handle any disagreement that they might have with Mr. Trump and, therefore, are handling him with kid gloves.  He is just as guilty as those quoted above in playing politics and shirking his responsibility to the American people by refusing to challenge Mr. Trump even when he believes that he is wrong and that he is deviating from America’s norms and everything that America stands for.  Observe how he responded when, according to an article in USA TODAY by Paul Singer, he addressed a question on Mr. Trump’s ban on refugees which basically amounts to a ban on Muslims.

Senator McConnell avoided directly criticizing Mr. Trump when he said; “We need to bear in mind that we don’t have religious tests in this country and we also need to remember that some of our best allies in the war against Islamic terrorism are Muslims.  It’s hopefully going to be decided in the courts as to whether or not this has gone too far.  I don’t want to criticize them for improving vetting.  I think we need to be careful.  We don’t have religious tests in this country.”

It is obvious by the comments from these GOP elected officials that, whether they are talking about Obamacare , Planned Parenthood, the refugee ban or their responsibility in general to shepherd America forward and protect our democracy as her elected officials, they will put political ambition and Party first.  Just like they were supposedly determined to uphold their fiscal responsibility to the American people by fighting tooth and nail to avoid lifting the debt ceiling during President Obama’s term in office but now seem willing to raise it for Mr. Trump in order to build a wall to keep people out; under Mr. Trump they are now willing to forego their fiscal conservative principles to destroy Obamacare at all costs.  It doesn’t matter what the impact will be on the American people or American economy.  It’s political ambition and Party first!

Mr. Trump may have built a dam to keep the GOP onboard and keep all of its members in line.  But it appears that a crack is developing in that dam.  Not only are Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham pushing back against him, but one of his most staunch allies just might be now trying to distance himself from him.  That ally is Rudy Giuliani.  Although Mr. Trump has said that his refugee ban is not a Muslim ban, Mr. Giuliani is publicly differing with him.  Mr. Giuliani said that Mr. Trump “asked for a Muslim ban” and wanted to know how to do it legally.  Based on that, Mr. Giuliani said that he put together a group to do it.  The interesting thing is not that Mr. Giuliani appears to be trying to distance himself from Mr. Trump; it is that he is doing it so publicly.

While Mr. Trump has built a dam to keep the GOP onboard and keep all of its members in line, elected Republicans throughout America have gerrymandered districts to keep their supporters dammed in so that they can assure for as long as possible that Republicans and not Democrats will be elected.  They have been extremely successful in their efforts but if Mr. Trump continues to operate like he is currently operating and those in the Senate and House continue to put political ambition and Party ahead of their responsibility to the American people, all of the gerrymandering in the world will not be able to keep them in office.

Whenever President Obama issued an executive order, the Republicans called him a lawless president and many of them held press conferences and went on cable news shows to drive their point home.  Now that Mr. Trump is governing almost exclusively by executive order, although he has repeatedly made mistakes and he and his team exhibit signs of complete incompetence, Republicans are remaining silent and hiding from the Press.  Representative Paul Ryan and Senator Mitch McConnell, respectively, are the leaders of the House and Senate.  While all Republicans in congress are responsible to step up and assure that the American people are properly represented and that America comes before their political ambitions and their Party, Speaker Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are supposed to be the Party leaders so they should set the examples.  So far, they are not doing that.  Instead, they are doing what they accused President Obama of doing for eight years; leading from behind.

Eulus Dennis – author, Operation Rubik’s Cube and Living Between The Line

Republicans On Office of Congressional Ethics? Pull That Watchdog’s Teeth!

Now maybe we know why the Republicans want to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE).  It seems that a number of President-elect Trump’s cabinet nominees are bumping into ethics-related problems in the confirmation hearings.  Darn those pesky ethics rules, the transition team might think!  Can’t the GOP see that President-elect Trump’s nominees are having problems with them?!  Why don’t they just do something about those irritating rules so that Mr. Trump’s nominees can be quickly confirmed and get on with the American people’s work?!

Could this be why congress without fanfare tried to push an amendment through that would rip the teeth out of the congressional independent ethics watchdog?  Can it be that the GOP is simply trying to help the Trump transition team and these eager nominees get on with the work that the American people want them to do?  Or is something more nefarious going on?

Although the GOP was forced to abort their effort to allow the fox to guard the hen house by removing the OCE’s independence via an amendment that would have put it under the oversight of the House Ethics Committee, they did not utterly give up on their effort to virtually take ethics out of the mix when it comes to America’s elected congressional officials in Washington.  After the uproar around their original effort settled down, according to an article in The Fiscal Times by Eric Pianin, they quietly placed a single sentence into another amendment that was passed, making it harder for the OCE to do its job in the future.  Based on that article, ” that sentence enables individual members to hide official documents that could prove embarrassing or even incriminating if they were suddenly investigated by the ethics office or the Justice Department for criminal activity.”

It appears that the GOP has no concern whatsoever about whether or not congressmen are ethical and whether they use their office and position in congress to enrich themselves.  I guess they just don’t think that the American people, whose name they regularly invoke, care anything at all about ethics as long as the job gets done.  What other reason could they have to be so determined to completely gut or get rid of the OCE?  Sure, they might have hidden things from ‘the American people’ by quietly passing a rule making it harder for those investigating them to discover their dastardly deeds; but I want everyone who reads this article to know that THE GOP QUIETLY PASSED A RULE MAKING IT HARDER FOR THE OCE AND ANYONE ELSE TO INVESTIGATE ‘THE AMERICAN PEOPLE’S’ CONGRESSMEN.

Today is the day that President Obama will leave office and, at exactly noon, President-elect Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America.  ‘High Noon’; that is what it will feel like for a lot of Americans.  I hope that he will not be the same man that he was during the primary and general elections and that he will work hard to be president to all Americans.

He must know that with all of the discord and potentially detrimental information that is swirling around him with regard to the possible conflict of interest that his businesses pose, his lack of effort to reassure those Americans who did not vote for him that he does not consider them to be his enemies and his apparent lack of awareness that he needs to pull America together after an extremely contentious election is creating a tremendous amount of apprehension and stress for many Americans.  I hope that he will address these concerns in his inauguration speech.

I, and I believe that all other Americans, wish President-elect Trump the best as president.  Because although we might not agree with him and how he goes about leading America, once he is sworn in, he will be the president.  I wish him well because I wish America well.  And it is in that vein that I hope that this ‘High Noon’ feeling that I am experiencing as someone who did not vote for President-elect Trump is nothing more than a bad case of overreaction brought on by a touch of Trump-inspired cynicism.

Eulus Dennis – author, Operation Rubik’s Cube and Living Between The Line

The ‘Great Wall’ Of Trump And Trump’s Bromance With Putin Brings Out Worst In GOP

What a bunch of hypocrites congressional Republicans are proving to be, that is, with the exception of Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham who, in this particular case, must be given at least some credit.  I don’t know why but so far these two men have refused to blindly protect President-elect Donald Trump.  I doubt that their stance against Mr. Trump has anything to do with statesmanship because as  I mentioned in a number of other articles that I have posted to this site, elected Republicans deserted statesmanship a long time ago, at least since the time that President Barack Obama was elected.

It amazes me – although perhaps it should not, that these Republicans’ can be such blatant hypocrites yet constantly evoke the name of the American people when talking about what Americans want and what they will not tolerate!  Allow me to provide you with two of the latest examples where, though they have tried to couch it by way of obfuscation, their hypocrisy has been revealed like the magic trick gone bad of an amateur magician performing his first trick at his first show where the smoke and mirrors effect completely fail.  I will provide these two prime examples by way of the actions of the two top GOP leaders; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Senate Majority Leader McConnell is an old, cunning highly experienced politician and as such, has become very comfortable with and accustomed to showing no shame as long as what he is saying or doing serves the political purpose for his actions.  House Speaker Ryan is not quite as bad; however, it is only because he is not yet quite as comfortable as Senator McConnell is at showing, and apparently feeling, no shame.  That is likely because he hasn’t been around as long as the Majority Leader has.  But give him time; with the way that he is conducting himself now he will soon fit the typical politician mold and quickly morph into a Mitch McConnell.

Both Senator McConnell and Speaker Ryan have President-elect Trump’s back despite the fact that they know that he is badly damaging America’s image and credibility domestically and abroad.  Senator McConnell opposed President Obama on everything from the day that he was elected and still opposes him now.  Recently, he droned on about how the Democrats should stop complaining, grow up and quickly confirm President-elect Trump’s nominees like he and the rest of the Republicans did with President Obama’s nominees.  What he failed to mention was how they stonewalled President Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland, stole that Supreme Court slot like a thief in the night and fenced it to President-elect Trump for so many pieces of political silver.

According to an article in Chron, back in 2014, Speaker Ryan criticized President Obama for not receiving his daily intelligence briefings in-person rather than reading them because of how important they are to America’s security.  He said; “I have a hard time comprehending [why he would read his daily briefings rather than receive them in-person], because the primary job of the commander in chief is to keep the country safe.  And you need to get from your intelligence community, your defense community – especially when we have troops in harm’s way – what’s going on.  “Yet – according to that same article, when recently asked whether he had full confidence in U.S. intelligence agencies after President-elect Trump questioned the believability of the data gathered by America’s intelligence community and appeared to believe Vladimir Putin over that data, Speaker Ryan qualified his response when he replied; “Well, they (the intelligence community) don’t always get everything right.  We’ve seen that clearly.  But I do have faith that our men and women in our intelligence community are doing an incredible job, sacrificing for our country.  But there’s always room for improvement.”

Based on this qualified response, Speaker Ryan’s straight forward and succinct response regarding the importance of intelligence information to a president in the case of President Obama is diametrically opposed to his response regarding the importance of that same kind of intelligence information when it comes to President-elect Trump.  There are only a few reasons that I can think of as to why this would be the case and they are partisanship, political ambition and cowardice.  Possibly it is a combination of the three.

The great author, poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou once said “when someone shows you who they are, believe them…”.  I have used this quote many times before on this web site and will likely continue to do so because it is not only relevant in most situations when someone is striving to assess a person’s character but it is timeless.  There is no doubt that it is applicable and warrants reference and serious consideration whenever anyone finds themselves flummoxed while struggling to understand Mr. Trump and to separate the actual truth from Donald Trump’s truth, which in far too many cases amounts to fiction.

President-elect Donald J. Trump and Representative John Lewis have showed us who they are.  President-elect Donald Trump showed us who he is in the way that he has conducted himself throughout his adult life and during the 2016 primary and general elections.  Unfortunately, many Americans did not believe him and so voted for him to become president and lead our great country.  Representative John Lewis showed us who he is during the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s when he was beaten to within inches of his life for standing up for all Americans and what he believed to be right and in his service to America as a congressman.  He showed us then, and he is continuing to show us now.

So when President-elect Donald J. Trump decided to denigrate this great statesman and civil rights icon by saying that “Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results.  All talk, talk, talk – no action or results.  Sad!”, I had no problem in picking the person with whom I choose to stand.  I don’t know about you but I choose to stand with Representative Lewis.  I choose to believe who Representative Lewis has showed me that he is rather than who President-elect Trump says that he is.  President-elect Trump is the one who is as unstable as nitroglycerin (and potentially just as dangerous) and is yet an unproven quantity in terms of being the man that he says that he is: but he has certainly proven himself to be the man that he has showed us that he is.

President-elect Trump’s apparent infatuation with Vladimir Putin and his seemingly blind desire to ‘get along with Russia’ at all costs is astonishing.  His desire is so strong that he is willing to disparage America’s intelligence community and ruin their reputation in the eyes of Americans and the world, he is willing – while he is still President-elect – to go against the decisions of President Obama and side with Vladimir Putin and Russia, and he has allowed his transition team to initiate and hold conversations with the Russian Ambassador although those conversations have the appearance of being inappropriate and raise questions by many concerned Americans.

We have yet to experience what a Trump Administration will be like.  But in two days, whether or not we are ready to embark upon that journey, we will begin to experience life in Trump’s America.  Based on who he has shown us that he is he will continue to behave just as he did during his life as a real estate mogul and during the primary and general elections.  This means that this journey for many Americans, as long as Mr. Trump is president, will be erratic and filled with stress.  We know that he is thin-skinned and easily provoked so we can only hope that those around him will, to the greatest extent possible, handle him with kid gloves whenever they disagree with him.  But if this does not suffice then all Americans – whether we are Democrats, Republicans or Independents must do our duty as citizens and hold our elected officials to account.  We must stand up for America and do our part to assure that our democracy remains as secure as it has always been and that we remain one nation: a nation which will always espouse and demand liberty and justice for all.

Eulus Dennis – author, Operation Rubik’s Cube and Living Between The Line