Monday, November 21, 2016

The CSA is not entertaining

Image Credit: Mother Jones
No, it's not Dixie. CSA stands for Current Situation Analysis. It is imperative that we stay engaged. Now more than at any time since the AIDS crisis in the 80s. Our wellbeing and that of our families is at stake. We have a year to prepare for the next critically important election. I will get to that. The outlook is bleak but it is realistic and it has a purpose. Thus, in no particular order:

The first item is Jeff Sessions. Because of Harry Reid's rule change (to get some judges confirmed) only a simple majority is required for cloture (bringing the matter to a vote). I was hoping that we would get some support from moderate GOPers. Apparently not. Susan Collins has had nothing but praise for the homophobic racist that is Sessions:
As a former U.S. Attorney and former Alabama Attorney General, Senator Sessions is well qualified and would serve our country well as United States Attorney General.
It looks like Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is going to be our next attorney general.

The AG is is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States government. We can expect the civil rights division to be stripped of staff and power. Voter suppression will become government sanctioned, supposedly to prevent voter fraud through impersonation which is about as likely as a hard frost in Miami Beach. The real motive is a permanent Republican majority. Hate crimes? Huh? Are those anti-Christian editorials?

Moreover, the AG has the power to appoint interim U.S. attorneys as well as directing the offices of the 93 U.S. attorneys and the thousand of professional staff that they employ.

Sessions will also serve as the principal legal advisor to Trump. He is a Trump loyalist and has been since early in Trump's candidacy. His advice, no matter how crazy, will be taken seriously.

The second item is Stephen K. Bannon. Efforts are underway to moderate his image. From what I can tell, the odious Mr. Bannon is an anti-Semitic white supremacist. He has no business whatsoever being in the White House in any capacity that does not require a Visitors badge. Trump, who is easily influenced and likely to take the advice of the last person he speaks with, is going to get a great deal of advice that is contrary to our interests. This is going to be a government of, for and by white-heterosexual-cisgender- Republican-Christian citizens. As a gay Jew I am twice “blessed.”

The bottom line is that Trump has placed campaign loyalty above the interests of the American people. He couldn't care less what we who did not support him think of him as long as we do not criticize him in public. Trump loathes criticism which he is incapable of ignoring. Trump goes unhinged whenever someone questions his truthfulness of intellect. Given that he is a pathological liar who is about as curious as a lawn dart he is going to receive a fair share of opprobrium. Do not be entertained. Trump's amusement value ended on November 8. Perhaps we all should have taken him more seriously.

The third item is executive orders. We can assume that any Obama EOs that protect LGBT people are history. Federal contractors are going to be free to discriminate against LGBT people. In truth I don't know if Obama's EO regarding federal contractors has had much of an impact. People who are determined to discriminate find ways of doing so. The guidance from the Department of Education regarding transgender students is also gone.

In addition to rescinding executive orders, Trump will issue more than his fair share of the edicts. Trump is already showing signs of a monarch. How these might adversely affect us is anyone's guess but it seems safe to say that none will be to our benefit.

Finally (at least for today) there is the Supreme Court (unless Trump has put forth a name as I type). 60 votes are still required to bring a nomination for the Supreme Court to a vote. However, a filibuster by Democrats might cause Republicans to effect a rule change. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) has said: “We’re going to confirm the president’s nominee one way or the other. And there’s an easy way and there’s a hard way.” That is a threat designed to affect the stridency of the minority party.

Chuck Schumer will be a tougher, firmer adversary than was Harry Reid. He is also on the Judiciary Committee (Patrick Leahy of Vermont is the ranking member). Jeff Sessions will no longer be on the committee which is the only positive about his nomination to AG. Democrats on the committee will put up a good fight but Republicans are likely to yield to Trump with “elections have consequences” logic. On the other hand, testimony could affect just how firm GOPers are in the face of a filibuster.

Without a filibuster, we could very well get stuck with a Mike Lee or William Pryor or some other homophobic asshole. And then what happens if Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies?

We will have to see if Republicans really want to change a rule that has been in place for more than 200 years. They seem pretty content for 2018 as Democrats will be defending 25 senate seats ⸺ Republicans only seven and those seem reasonably safe. We might pick off Heller in Nevada but that still maintains a GOP majority. On the other hand, anything can happen. Just ask Governor McCrory of North Carolina. Or, two years ago, would anyone believe that a Trump presidency was even remotely possible?

Not two years ago but last August Michael Rosenblum correctly predicted that Donald Trump would be our next president. Rosenblum is the founder of Current TV and is a recognized expert in the field of video journalism. I suspect that he would prefer to have been wrong. Essentially, Rosenblum said that Trump is mindless entertainment. He (Trump) is Kim Kardashian ⸺ Clinton is Judy Woodruff.

Indeed, Trump is a celebrity. One of the things that I have learned over the years is that celebrities tend to be self-absorbed jerks and ignoramuses. Not exactly presidential material. I have to hand it to Trump's useful idiots. They came out and voted. That's more than I can say for some of our useless idiots who stayed home. Or they voted for Gary Johnson who probably doesn't know a Sunni from a Shiite but he wants to legalize weed and that was good enough.

I am informed that at least one exit poll showed that 14% of gays voted for Trump. That is inexplicable and inexcusable. Did these folks not believe his anti-LGBT rhetoric (and there was plenty if you were listening). I joke that I used to be a Republican until I found out about Prozac. Some of that 14% need to find Prozac or lithium or themselves. What good is limited government if LGBT Americans are made miserable by that limited government? Government is not inherently evil. Believing otherwise has resulted in the election of evil people for decades.

Stay engaged!

If you really want to start to fix things that starts in 2017. There will almost certainly be elections for state legislatures in every state (mostly due to retirements). The legislatures of New Jersey and Virginia are also up for election in their entirety. Additionally, Chris Christie (NJ) and Terry McAuliffe (VA)  are term limited so those states will get new governors. We need to keep Virginia blue and we have a good chance to flip New Jersey. In addition there are always important ballot measures.

Furthermore, if you have been following the adventures of people like David Lane you will know that he is trying to create thousands of politicians out of Christian Pastors. These people get their start on school boards and city councils. From there they become state legislators and even congressmen. Every local election is important. Remember that Kim Davis is an elected official. (Her term ends in the off year, 2019.)

You might not like my CSA but it is my candid, (and I think) reasonable assessment of where we are at, in part. As a former CEO I know how important it is to first face the grim realities of any situation. As a former consultant I know that the primary reason that people don't act to correct a problem is that they are not sufficiently motivated to do so. I cannot motivate people with a blog post but you can. You can by helping friends, neighbors, relatives and co-workers to see what is really going on.

People are going to make excuses for Trump lest they criticize their own judgment for voting for him in the first place. No need to pile on. What's done is done. The best way to persuade is through questions. Questions will always prevail over statements. Asking questions gives people credit for their intelligence if you really listen to the answer. Rhetorical questions are counter-productive. I prefer the format of “what do you think of …?” Try it. Please listen attentively and do not interrupt the answer. Artful questioning has a cumulative effect.

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