There is a reality TV show entitled “Naked and Afraid.” I have never watched it but advertising clips depict men and women in dangerous, wild environments running around au natural and encountering numerous scary survival situations. Well, after several months of President Donald Trump’s administration I am beginning to understand how the characters in this show must feel, unprotected and vulnerable.
First we have an incompetent, autocratic leader in President Trump. His constant lying has destroyed his credibility. What is more unsettling than a president you can’t trust? Another appointment or two to the Supreme Court could allow Trump to do whatever he pleases to restrict the rights of U.S. citizens, particularly minorities. The pliable Republican leadership in Congress has shown its willingness to do Trump’s bidding, even defending some of his absurd decisions.
Appointing Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general was the first step down a dark path. Sessions is a right-wing Trump loyalist with a very questionable record on civil rights. The Justice Department is supposed to be an independent agency with a duty to protect us from an autocratic or corrupt administration. Sessions will be anything but independent or a check on Trump’s excesses. His focus will be on immigrant crime and deporting immigrants while voting rights and civil rights will take a back seat.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin. That’s disturbing enough, but the experienced deputy leadership at State has been fired and there appears to be no effort to restore it. Trump has proposed budgets that will cripple the department’s critical functions in national security and weaken our most important alliances. Meanwhile Trump bumbles along, offending important friends like South Korea while personally congratulating Turkey’s autocratic President Tayyip Erdoğan for winning a referendum that will bring him closer to one-man rule.
Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt distains environmental protection. He is a friend of big oil and the energy industry in general. No matter that the majority of Americans support reduction of carbon emissions, Pruitt will do everything he can to erase President Barack Obama’s initiatives on climate change. And he is carefully carving science out of the equation for determining the health and safety impacts of chemicals and pollutants. Pruitt’s decisions will likely have significant, long term adverse effects on public health and the environment.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price is a far-right conservative who has opposed the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare since the day it was drafted. In Congress Rep. Price (R-Ga.) was the chairman of the House Budget Committee who authored budgets that would decimate federal spending for health care and turn Medicare into a premium support voucher program. Like Speaker Paul Ryan, he has been spreading egregious lies about the eminent demise of Obamacare and the benefits of the GOP’s American Health Care Act. Our nationwide health care system is sure to deteriorate under Price’s leadership.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is a Wall Street banker who claimed that Trump’s tax plan will, “pay for itself” with economic growth. When 42 economists from our most respected universities were surveyed about whether they agreed or disagreed with this claim, the 37 that responded all disagreed and 30 of them strongly disagreed. One called Trump’s plan “a great deficit stimulus.” Another said it didn’t have a prayer. Trump’s tax cuts will significantly add to the deficits and the oppressive income inequality the nation has experienced since President Reagan’s administration.
During his confirmation hearings Sessions lied to Congress about his contacts with the Russians. It didn’t matter. Pruitt was under a cloud during his confirmation hearings for failing to release emails in a lawsuit against him. No problem. During Price’s confirmation hearings it was disclosed that he had made questionable stock trades in companies that he helped with legislation. Republican Senators didn’t care. During confirmation hearings Mnuchin was implicated in foreclosing on thousands of hapless homeowners who had mortgages with a distressed bank in California he co-owned in 2008. He sailed through.
In my opinion Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is an unscrupulous politician who will stop at nothing to cement his power. His obstruction of Obama proved he cares little about the democratic process. I fear that McConnell will guide the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Russian hacking investigation away from Trump’s complicity. McConnell won’t throw Trump under the bus for the sake of the American people. But he will if Trump threatens his position as majority leader.
For all of their chest beating about the flag, patriotism and the Constitution, McConnell and many other Republicans are displaying an unbelievable lack of concern about attacks on our democratic process by Russia. In my opinion they are double standard hypocrites who apparently think congressional oversight is only for Democrats.
And now Trump has fired FBI director James Comey. Perhaps he thought this would deflect the media from the damning testimony of former acting attorney general Sally Yates. Perhaps he thought Comey was managing the Russian investigation too diligently. Either way, I don’t think Comey’s firing bodes well for this investigation.
Whether it is national security, civil liberties, freedom of the press or corruption at the highest levels of government, I believe Trump is taking the presidency and this nation into dangerous, uncharted territory.
Am I feeling unprotected and vulnerable? Damn right!