Posts Tagged ‘Trump Administration’

How the Trump administration governs

November 24, 2017

Source: Real News Network.  Click to enlarge.

If you are a president or governor who believes that government doesn’t work, you staff your administration with people who don’t want government to work, and your belief becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.   This didn’t begin with Donald Trump and won’t end with Donald Trump.

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How long can they put their heads in the sand?

November 12, 2017

Double click to enlarge

Source: Real News Network.

“Reality,” according to the SF writer Philip K. Dick, “is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”

“You can ignore reality,” the philosopher Ayn Rand reportedly said, “but you cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.”

How long can members of the Trump administration ignore the reality of climate change?

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The Trump administration vs. rural Americans

November 8, 2017

Rural America is Trump country.   The U.S. Department of Agriculture is the federal department that does the most to help rural Americans.    A writer in Vanity Fair magazine reported on how the Trump administration is gutting the USDA, and will probably get away with it, because most Americans don’t know what the USDA does.

When I think of the USDA, I think of the Agricultural Extension Service and the Soil Conservation Service, which help and encourage to adopt best practices, and its crop subsidy programs, which, unfortunately, mainly benefit big agri-business corporations.

The fact is, as the Vanity Fair writer pointed out, that 70 percent of the USDA budget goes to programs to relieve hunger—food stamps, subsidies for school lunches, a program to assure proper nutrition to new mothers and infants and a dozen or so smaller programs.

The USDA conducts scientific research into food security, nutrition, food safety and plant-based fuel.   All these require taking global warming into account, which is unacceptable to the Trump appointees.

Other examples of the USDA’s many functions are inspection of meat animals and fighting forest fires.

The program of most benefit to ordinary people in rural communities are grants and loans for rural development, helping start-up businesses and local government projects that otherwise wouldn’t get started.

The political problem is the contradiction between rural America’s culture of self-reliance and fact of dependence on government.   This contradiction is resolved by hiding the source of funding.   Most people who benefit from USDA grants and loans are told that the help is coming from the local government or bank.   So when the grants and loans dry up, they won’t know why.

LINK

Inside Trump’s Cruel Campaign Against the U.S.D.A.’s Scientists by Michael Lewis for Vanity Fair.

It’s an ill hurricane that blows nobody good

October 30, 2017

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) has canceled its outrageous no-bid $300 million contract with Whitefish Energy Holdings, which, among other things, forbid federal and Puerto Rican authorities to audit its labor costs and profit and had no penalties for failure to meet project deadlines.

But questions remain: Why was the contract granted in the first place?  And what is PREPA going to do next to restore power?

The whole thing reminds me of the contracts for reconstruction of Iraq.   After the invasion, American and other foreign companies were given lucrative, no-bid contracts to rebuild Iraq’s electrical systems, other public utilities and physical infrastructure.   Well-qualified Iraqi companies and workers were cut out of the process.

The result was that a lot of government contractors made a lot of money and very little reconstruction took place.   I can see the same thing happening with Puerto Rico—maybe a little less brazenly than in this case.

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Doug Muder on Jared Kushner

April 4, 2017

If you want a symbol of this new aristocratic reality, you need look no further than Jared Kushner, who was born rich, married the boss’s daughter, and is now (at age 36) one of the most powerful people in the country.

Kushner’s title is Senior Adviser to the President, and his yuuuuge portfolio just keeps growing.  For example, he is the administration’s point man on bringing peace to the Middle East.  That project might totally absorb someone of lesser dynastic credentials, but he also has been Trump’s channel to China, a nation some distance from the Middle East.  [snip]

Apparently that still left him with a lot of free time, so … Ivanka’s Dad named him to head the new White House Office of American Innovation … [snip]

Yes, Kushner may have little in the way of personal accomplishments or evidence of expertise relevant to governing a republic.  But if merit is a matter of blood and breeding, and if it is enhanced by an alliance of great houses, then he has merit in spades.

Source: The Weekly Sift

Getting the facts right about Trump

March 15, 2017

During the 40 years I worked on newspapers, I sometimes got the story wrong through finding facts, or seeming facts, that proved what I thought all along—and then looking no further.  The same thing has happened with posts on this blog.

I think a lot of the reporting on Donald Trump is bad for precisely this reason.

President Trump himself sometimes says things that are obviously not true, and then refuses to back down.  I get that.

But if you’re going to accuse someone of dealing in “fake news” and “alternative facts,” people (other than those who already agree with you) are not going to believe you unless you are careful about the facts yourself.

The writers I trust the most are the ones who report facts that are contrary to their points of view—what lawyers call “admissions against interest.”   The links below are by writers who dislike Donald Trump, but dislike inaccuracy more.

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Trump’s Muslim decree versus the rule of law

January 31, 2017

The noteworthy things about President Trump’s decree on Muslim immigration were how unnecessarily cruel it was, how incompetently it was drawn and how it caught everyone by surprise.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

The other noteworthy thing was how mass protests against his decree pressured him to back down from one of the worst parts of it—the forbidding of Green card holders and other legal foreign residents from returning to the country if they are out of it.

I think these things will be hallmarks of his administration—that is, cruelty, stupidity and unpredictability, but also vulnerability to public opinion and public pressure.   Trump does not have the power of a dictator, although he would like to have it.

Even conservatives who strongly believe in keeping out unauthorized immigrants and immigrants from the Muslim world thought Trump handled this wrongly.

But the most dangerous trait that Trump revealed was unpredictability.

Being unpredictable is a strength when you’re fighting against adversaries, whether on the battlefield, the marketplace or an election campaign.  It also is a strength of a showman, which Trump most definitely is.

It is, however, a dangerous trait in the head of government of a great nation.   The most important defining characteristic of a free country is the rule of law.   People who live in a free country need to be able to know what the laws are, and to know that they are safe so long as they obey the law.

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Life with Trump

December 3, 2016

president-donald-trumpI’m not a good predictor of the future, but I’ll risk some predictions about the Trump administration.

I don’t think Donald Trump is a new Hitler, despite his manifest contempt for legal and Constitutional limitations.  Rather I see a  Trump administration as another step downward on a path the USA already is on.

In terms of policy, I don’t see a great difference between him and Vice-President Mike Pence, Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell or House Speaker Paul Ryan.   The objection of mainstream Republicans to Trump was more an objection to his vulgarity and offensive behavior rather than to his policy positions.

Nor, for that matter, do I see any great difference between establishment Republicans and establishment Democrats on the issues that concern me most—war and peace, civil liberties and Wall Street dominance.

I do think the working-class and middle-class people who voted for Trump will be disappointed.

Specifically, I am willing to bet anybody a reasonable amount that the following will be true four years after Trump is sworn in on January 20, 2017.

  • There will be fewer American manufacturing jobs.
  • The annual trade deficit will be greater than it is now.
  • The federal budget deficit will be greater than it is now.
  • The upper 1 percent, upper 0.1 percent and upper 0.01 percent will have a greater share of the national income than they do now.
  • The wages of American workers, measured in inflation-adjusted terms, will be less.

I think there will be fewer unauthorized immigrants in the United States than there are now, but this is part of a trend that has already begun.

Winners during a Trump administration will include:

  • The Trump Organization.
  • Creditors of The Trump Organization.
  • Wall Street.
  • The CIA, NSA and other intelligence organizations.
  • The Pentagon
  • Government contractors, especially military contractors.
  • The fossil fuel industry
  • The National Rifle Association
  • Torturers and war criminals
  • Abusive police officers.

Losers during a Trump administration will include:

  • Public schools
  • Higher education
  • Protesters (except for armed right-wing militias)
  • Whistle-blowers
  • Dissident journalists
  • Labor unions and wage-earners generally
  • Climate scientists and researchers of all kinds
  • Planned Parenthood and its clients
  • Immigrants
  • Muslims
  • Welfare recipients

The main good thing I hope to see in a Trump administration is a less confrontational policy toward Russia.   My great fear of a Clinton administration was the increased and very real possibility of nuclear war.   This possibility will not be zero under Trump, but I think it will be less than it would have been under Clinton.

Other good things I hope to see in a Trump administration is a refusal to sign bad trade treaties and an effort to renegotiate existing trade treaties.   NAFTA, the TPP and the like are not free trade treaties; they are corporate wish lists enacted into international law.  In today’s world, believers in democracy need to defend national sovereignty, because none of the international institutions are democratic.

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